28 January 2009 @ 9:01AM >>The View’s Joy Behar, who considers herself a comedian, was asked by Larry King about the possibilities presented by the Age of Obama:
King: [I]s this administration going to be hard for the comics to have fun with?
Behar: Yes. And all I can say is thank you for Joe Biden, because he is going to always give us some laughs. He’ll say something crazy and out there, and it will be fun. And Sarah Palin, you know, we can always rely on her to come back and give us some material. But it is really not easy to make fun of the Obamas, because they’re really — they’re kind of really perfect, aren’t they?
Perhaps our new president really is too perfect for mockery. Obama’s disciples, however, are another story.
[L]et me take this opportunity to say that of all the innumerable print and broadcast journalists who have interviewed me in the U.S. and abroad since I arrived on the scene nearly 20 years ago, Katie Couric was definitively the stupidest. As a guest on NBC’s “Today” show during my 1992 book tour, I was astounded by Couric’s small, humorless, agenda-ridden mind, still registered in that pinched, tinny monotone that makes me rush across the room to change stations whenever her banal mini-editorials blare out at 5 p.m. on the CBS radio network. And of course I would never spoil my dinner by tuning into Couric’s TV evening news show. That sallow, wizened, drum-tight, cosmetic mummification look is not an appetite enhancer outside of Manhattan or L.A. There’s many a moose in Alaska with greater charm and pizazz.—Camille Paglia
29 December 2008 @ 9:21AM >>
Deborah Howell, the departing ombusman of the Washington Post, reflects on her colleagues as her tenure at the paper comes to a close:
My worry is that journalists aren’t as connected to readers as they were in the days of my youth, when the city’s newspaper was the equivalent of the public square. Then, reporters tended to be folks who often hadn’t graduated from, or even attended, college, and they weren’t looking to move to bigger papers. They knew the community well, didn’t make much money and lived like everyone else, except for chasing fires and crooks.
Now journalists are highly trained, mobile and, especially in Washington, more elite. We make a lot more money, drive better cars and have nicer homes. Some of us think we’re just a little more special than some of the folks we want to buy the paper or read us online.
That’s a mistake. Readers want us to be smart and tough and for the newspaper to read that way, but they don’t want us to think we’re better than they are. We need to be worried sick when people drop their subscriptions. We need to think of ways to prevent that.
An unpleasant fact about journalists is that we can be way too defensive. We dish it out a lot better than we take it. It’s not that we have thin skin; we often act as though we have no skin and bleed at the slightest touch.
Journalists need to be tough enough to face down a mayor, a police chief or the president of the United States, but we also should be tough enough to respond to honest criticism. The worst part of my job as official internal critic hasn’t been dealing with readers, though that has been both daunting and rewarding. Taking those complaints to reporters and editors has been the biggest challenge.
The next ombudsman of the Post, Andy Alexander, will start his term on Groundhog Day, 2009.
Jay Carney is leaving Time magazine after 20 years to be Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s communications director in the White House, astonished magazine and gleeful transition sources said.
Carney’s title will be assistant to the vice president and director of communications. TIME.com’s “The Page” first reported his new job.
Carney, the magazine’s Washington bureau chief, is one of Washington’s best-known talking heads, with regular appearances on ABC’s “This Week,” “The McLaughlin Group” and MSNBC’s “Hardball.”
A Democratic official close to the selection process said Carney had already decided to do something different after the election, and Biden advisers believed Carney would bring “a fresh perspective” to their deliberations.
“It’s an adventure,” the official said. “Everybody thought it was an interesting idea and worth the risk. You never know how guys in your business are going to do in politics or the private sector.”
The official added: “There are those on the right who will see this as the embodiment of their assertions about the media and Obama, and this is just making it official.”
Carney would likely be shilling for the Obama administration whether or not his checks were still signed by Time magazine. At least now his allegiance is out in the open, and he won’t be working in the dying print news business.
Thousands of conservatives and even some moderates have complained during my more than three-year term that The Post is too liberal; many have stopped subscribing, including more than 900 in the past four weeks.
It pains me to see lost subscribers and revenue, especially when newspapers are shrinking. Conservative complaints can be wrong: The mainstream media were not to blame for John McCain’s loss; Barack Obama’s more effective campaign and the financial crisis were.
But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo.
Journalists bristle at the thought of their coverage being viewed as unfair or unbalanced; they believe that their decisions are journalistically reasonable and that their politics do not affect how they cover and display stories.
Tom Rosenstiel, a former political reporter who directs the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said, “The perception of liberal bias is a problem by itself for the news media. It’s not okay to dismiss it. Conservatives who think the press is deliberately trying to help Democrats are wrong. But conservatives are right that journalism has too many liberals and not enough conservatives. It’s inconceivable that that is irrelevant.”
The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It’s not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected.
Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done.
Rosenstiel said, “There should be more intellectual diversity among journalists. More conservatives in newsrooms will bring about better journalism. We need to be more vigilant and conscious in looking for bias. Our aims are pure, but our execution sometimes is not. Staff members should feel in their bones that unfairness will never be tolerated.”
Bob Steele, ethics scholar at the Poynter Institute, which trains journalists, thinks editors should be doing “ongoing content evaluation of candidates and issues to provide scrutiny on photos, stories, placement of stories and what are the weaknesses and strengths of the candidates.” He also recommends “prosecutorial editing” as one way to “minimize the ideological bias and beliefs that all journalists have. It would greatly reduce the news content being skewed by beliefs.”
The Post and other news media can work harder on eliminating even the perception of bias while never giving up the willingness to follow stories that will inevitably tick off some readers.
Intellectual diversity in the newsroom is essential to the quality of the media’s product. There need to be people involved in the reporting process who challenge the assumptions of the dominant thinking in the industry.
Today, it’s clear that isn’t the case, and that’s one of the reasons for the sorry financial state of the news business.
13 November 2008 @ 9:12AM >>
Did you hear the story claiming that Sarah Palin didn’t know Africa was a continent? Turns out it was a hoax:
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.
Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.
Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow - the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy - is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.
And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.
Given the nature of our media, a lot more people heard the lie than will ever hear that the lie was a lie.
A cynic might conclude that the media has a political agenda.
Update & Clarification: The hoax appears to be “Eisenstadt” claiming credit for the Palin leak. Apparently he is not the leaker; assuming the leaker exists, it’s someone whose identity is still not known.
So what do we know? That an unnamed person apparently told a reporter that Palin didn’t know Africa was a continent. We don’t know exact Palin quote that led to the anonymous allegation, so we can’t evaluate the context or whether Palin’s words were misinterpreted or deliberately mischaracterized.
The details surrounding this hoax and the original report are fuzzy, whereas Obama’s goof has incontrovertible proof.
While I misinterpreted the original scope of this hoax—mea culpa—it still serves as yet another case in which the media ignores undeniable evidence of an Obama gaffe while piling on Palin for an infraction that’s anonymously sourced and of which no recording exists.
The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.
But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama’s acknowledged drug use as a teenager.
One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission.
I guess it’s too much to ask for media honesty before an election.
4 November 2008 >>
Although I didn’t vote for him myself, I do know there are a lot of people celebrating the symbolism of America electing its first black president. I’m happy for them. Considering that this country once counted black Americans as only three-fifths of a person, this aspect of the outcome is something about which all Americans can be proud, even if you would have preferred a different result.
Let’s hope this truly does usher in a post-racial America, one in which we move beyond the hatreds of the past and divisive policies like racial preferences. After all, if a black man can become president, do we really need laws that judge people on the color of their skin and not the content of their character?
I wish we knew more about Barack Obama’s worldview. During the campaign, we’ve seen plenty of hints, but the core of his true political philosophy has never been fully illuminated. (And for that, we can thank our selectively-inquisitive media.)
But all of this is a moot point now. Barack Obama will soon be our president. And when he is, we’ll see how he governs, and we can begin to assess his presidency.
I’m sure there will be many times when I will vigorously oppose our future president. But for tonight, my congratulations to Barack Obama and to his supporters.
29 October 2008 @ 8:53AM >>
I thought the job of the news media was to provide information, not suppress it. I guess I’m wrong:
Let’s try a thought experiment. Say John McCain attended a party at which known racists and terror mongers were in attendance. Say testimonials were given, including a glowing one by McCain for the benefit of the guest of honor ... who happened to be a top apologist for terrorists. Say McCain not only gave a speech but stood by, in tacit approval and solidarity, while other racists and terror mongers gave speeches that reeked of hatred for an American ally and rationalizations of terror attacks.
Now let’s say the Los Angeles Times obtained a videotape of the party.
Question: Is there any chance — any chance — the Times would not release the tape and publish front-page story after story about the gory details, with the usual accompanying chorus of sanctimony from the oped commentariat? Is there any chance, if the Times was the least bit reluctant about publishing (remember, we’re pretending here), that the rest of the mainstream media (y’know, the guys who drove Trent Lott out of his leadership position over a birthday-party toast) would not be screaming for the release of the tape?
Do we really have to ask?
So now, let’s leave thought experiments and return to reality: Why is the Los Angeles Times sitting on a videotape of the 2003 farewell bash in Chicago at which Barack Obama lavished praise on the guest of honor, Rashid Khalidi — former mouthpiece for master terrorist Yasser Arafat?
Is there just a teeny-weenie chance that this was an evening of Israel-bashing Obama would find very difficult to explain? Could it be that the Times, a pillar of the Obamedia, is covering for its guy?
Gateway Pundit reports that the Times has the videotape but is suppressing it.
Back in April, the Times published a gentle story about the fete. Reporter Peter Wallsten avoided, for example, any mention of the inconvenient fact that the revelers included Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, Ayers’s wife and fellow Weatherman terrorist. These self-professed revolutionary Leftists are friendly with both Obama and Khalidi — indeed, researcher Stanley Kurtz has noted that Ayers and Khalidi were “best friends.” (And — small world! — it turns out that the Obamas are extremely close to the Khalidis, who have reportedly babysat the Obama children.)
If Barack Obama is elected, he’ll probably be the president about which the American public knows the least. The media seems only interested in conveying feelings about Obama, not facts. As National Review’sMark Levin wrote:
Virtually all evidence of Obama’s past influences and radicalism — from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers — have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media’s role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It’s as if the media use the Obama campaign’s talking points — its preposterous assertions that Obama didn’t hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. — to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency.
Sure, we’ve heard about Obama incessantly, but what do we know?
We know he’s good-looking, super-cool, and he sports a spiffy halo. We know the celebrities in Hollywood love him, and European rock stars encourage Americans to vote for him on Saturday Night Live. We know that he will transcend race, even though he spent 20 years of Sundays in a racist church.
Aside from winning elections, we know that his greatest accomplishment to date has been to write two books about himself. We know he portrays himself as a moderate, but he hasn’t been on the political stage long enough to amass a record proving it. Even in his short time in the Senate, his votes have positioned himself further to the left than any other Senator.
True, the man has a voice that manages to soothe even as it commands respect. Unlike the raving lunatics and aging bomb-throwers he surrounds himself with, Barack Obama has the air of someone unflappably reasonable.
But who is Barack Obama really?
Given the lack of actual evidence backing up his supposed moderation—besides his take-my-word-for-it assurances—it is not only fair to judge Obama on the company he keeps, it’s pretty much the only way to judge him.
Perhaps that’s why news organizations like the Los Angeles Times wants us to know as little as possible about Obama’s associations. They know America would never elect a guy who keeps the company that Obama does.
26 October 2008 @ 6:48PM >>
A local TV reporter in central Florida made television history the other day by questioning Saint Barack’s running mate in a manner usually reserved for Republican candidates.
And, of course, disciples of The One aren’t happy about it.
So the TV station has been cut off from all access to the Obama campaign for the duration of the election.
WFTV-Channel 9’s Barbara West conducted a satellite interview with Sen. Joe Biden on Thursday. A friend says it’s some of the best entertainment he’s seen recently. [...]
West wondered about Sen. Barack Obama’s comment, to Joe the Plumber, about spreading the wealth. She quoted Karl Marx and asked how Obama isn’t being a Marxist with the “spreading the wealth” comment.
“Are you joking?” said Biden, who is Obama’s running mate. “No,” West said.
West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America’s days as the world’s leading power were over.
“I don’t know who’s writing your questions,” Biden shot back.
Biden so disliked West’s line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife.
“This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election,” wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.
McGinnis said the Biden cancellation was “a result of her husband’s experience yesterday during the satellite interview with Barbara West.”
WFTV news director Bob Jordan said, “When you get a shot to ask these candidates, you want to make the most of it. They usually give you five minutes.”
Jordan said political campaigns in general pick and choose the stations they like. And stations often pose softball questions during the satellite interviews.
“Mr. Biden didn’t like the questions,” Jordan said. “We choose not to ask softball questions.”
Voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election. By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4. Another 8% say journalists don’t favor either candidate, and 13% say they don’t know which candidate most reporters support.
In recent presidential campaigns, voters repeatedly have said they thought journalists favored the Democratic candidate over the Republican. But this year’s margin is particularly wide. At this stage of the 2004 campaign, 50% of voters said most journalists wanted to see John Kerry win the election, while 22% said most journalists favored George Bush. In October 2000, 47% of voters said journalists wanted to see Al Gore win and 23% said most journalists wanted Bush to win. In 1996, 59% said journalists were pulling for Bill Clinton.
In the current campaign, Republicans, Democrats and independents all feel that the media wants to see Obama win the election. Republicans are almost unanimous in their opinion: 90% of GOP voters say most journalists are pulling for Obama. More than six-in-ten Democratic and independent voters (62% each) say the same.
For an industry that by all measures is in severe financial trouble, you’d think that reporters and editors would be a little more worried about the public’s perception of their output. But the media’s short-term desire to elect Barack Obama is apparently more important than their long-term credibility. That’s an exceedingly poor business decision.
The agent in charge of the Secret Service field office in Scranton said allegations that someone yelled “kill him” when presidential hopeful Barack Obama’s name was mentioned during Tuesday’s Sarah Palin rally are unfounded.
The Scranton Times-Tribune first reported the alleged incident on its Web site Tuesday and then again in its print edition Wednesday. The first story, written by reporter David Singleton, appeared with allegations that while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd and mentioned Obama’s name a man in the audience shouted “kill him.”
News organizations including ABC, The Associated Press, The Washington Monthly and MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann reported the claim, with most attributing the allegations to the Times-Tribune story.
Agent Bill Slavoski said he was in the audience, along with an undisclosed number of additional secret service agents and other law enforcement officers and not one heard the comment.
“I was baffled,” he said after reading the report in Wednesday’s Times-Tribune.
He said the agency conducted an investigation Wednesday, after seeing the story, and could not find one person to corroborate the allegation other than Singleton.
Slavoski said more than 20 non-security agents were interviewed Wednesday, from news media to ordinary citizens in attendance at the rally for the Republican vice presidential candidate held at the Riverfront Sports Complex. He said Singleton was the only one to say he heard someone yell “kill him.”
“We have yet to find someone to back up the story,” Slavoski said. “We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it.”
Hackett said he did not hear the remark.
Slavoski said Singleton was interviewed Wednesday and stood by his story but couldn’t give a description of the man because he didn’t see him he only heard him.
When contacted Wednesday afternoon, Singleton referred questions to Times-Tribune Metro Editor Jeff Sonderman. Sonderman said, “We stand by the story. The facts reported are true and that’s really all there is.”
Slavoski said the agents take such threats or comments seriously and immediately opened an investigation but after due diligence “as far as we’re concerned it’s closed unless someone comes forward.” He urged anyone with knowledge of the alleged incident to call him [...]. “We’ll run at all leads,” he said.
Thousands of people at a rally, and nobody got this on tape? Nobody except the reporter heard it?
We’re just supposed to take the reporter’s word for it, I guess.
13 October 2008 @ 8:58AM >>
The latest media meme is that Republicans have become unhinged and dangerous at political rallies.
For some reason, the last 8 years of deranged anger towards President George W. Bush was never reported by the establishment media. Perhaps that’s because they felt it, too.
But it was an important story. I got my start in documentary filmmaking by capturingthe ugly, violentpassions of liberalactivists. The only reason the stories I covered were unique is that the media refused to cover them. Sure, plenty of political protests got coverage, but the extremist element at those protests were ignored by the media’s presentation.
And today, you’ll find plenty of hate directed at the campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin. But for some reason, the media has not constructed a narrative depicting Barack Obama’s supporters as angry and divisive. There certainly hasn’t been any criticism of Obama for encouraging confrontation by telling his supporters, “I want you to argue with [McCain backers] and get in their face.”
If I were a cynic, I might even conclude that the media has chosen sides in our election.
6 October 2008 @ 9:31AM >>
In a report that isn’t labeled an editorial, the Associated Press contends that criticizing Senator Barack Obama for his connections to unapologetic domestic terrorist Bill Ayers amounts to racism. (Or, in the exact words of AP, pointing out the ties between Obama and Ayers “carrie[s] a racially tinged subtext.”)
The article objects to the following statement from Alaska Governor Sarah Palin:
“Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America.”
The very first fundraiser of Barack Obama’s political career was held at the house of Ayers and his co-conspirator wife Bernardine Dorhn, two of the leaders of the Weather Underground. For years, the Weathermen terrorized Americans by bombing the U.S. Capital, the Pentagon, military recruiting stations and dozens of other locations, leading to several deaths. The Weathermen also killed a guard during an attempt to rob an armored car.
In addition to kicking off his political career at Ayers’s house, Obama was also tapped to lead an organization set up by Ayers to bring his goals for radicalizing education to Chicago public schools. Ayers, you see, is one of those folks who believes that, in order to be effective, indoctrination must start a lot sooner than college. And Obama worked to further the Ayers agenda for years.
But in the eyes of the establishment media, which has taken great pains to ignore the ties between Obama and Ayers, these years-long connections amount to nothing worth exploring. If one were to judge by the volume of coverage, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy is much more relevant to the presidential election, it seems.
As for the argument that discussing Ayers and Obama’s work for his organization is somehow “racist,” well, the AP’s logic isn’t quite clear:
Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day 40 years ago.
Huh? So pointing out Obama’s ties to a white terrorist is somehow racist because we’re supposed to assume that all terrorists are “dark-skinned radical Muslims”? I thought it wasn’t politically correct to assume that. If anything, the AP should be congratulating Palin for pointing out that not all nutjobs who adhere to a murderous ideology are Muslim.
It doesn’t matter, though. Apparently, any criticism of Obama is inherently racist. We’re all just supposed to shut up and get out of the way so the media’s candidate can win the election and rule without opposition.
Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for [Obama] is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working.
If Barack Obama wins, the media will have won it for him. And if so, it will be proof that—despite a decade of seismic changes in the media landscape—the establishment media still wields tons of power. The media seems not to care that the exercise of their power in service of electing Obama comes at the expense of the media’s credibility and therefore diminishes their future power.
What other presidential candidate could have gotten away with spending 20 years in a hateful, racist church? What other candidate could have gotten away with having as a close mentor an unapologetic terrorist who spent years blowing up U.S. Government buildings?
Usually, the press hammers away at issues far more mundane than that. Just ask Sarah Palin’s family.
28 August 2008 >>A report from the press area at the Democratic convention:
Here in Denver, there were audible cheers in the press pavilion from multiple directions when Barack Obama walked on stage. It’s outside the convention center and no regular delegates are here — only press.
Several members of the media were seen cheering and clapping for Barack Obama as the Illinois senator accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday.
Standing on the periphery of the football field serving as the Democratic convention floor, dozens of men and women wearing green media floor passes chanted along with the crowd.
As if to underscore the media’s Obama-worshipping, today’s New York Times carries this example of ostensible journalism entitled, “For a New Political Age, a Self-Made Man,” which essentially argues that the biggest challenge for Barack Obama is overcoming how great he is.
25 August 2008 @ 9:10AM >>
Barack Obama launched his political career with a fundraiser in the house of Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist who—along with his wife Bernardine Dohrn—founded a radical Marxist group in the 1960s called the Weather Underground.
On the morning that the World Trade Center was collapsing, the New York Timesran an article on Ayers in which he was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” You have to wonder whether Ayers felt some level of glee watching the news that day.
The relationship between Ayers and Obama is extensive: for years, they worked together on a project called the Annenberg Challenge.
You’d think the media would delve into this relationship a little. If John McCain kicked off his political career at the house of, say, a bomber of abortion clinics, you probably would have heard about it by now. But the media, so clearly in love with Barack Obama, isn’t doing its job.
In election cycles a decade or more ago, that would have mattered more. But with the establishment media’s weakening grip on controlling coverage—ask John Edwards about that—the old gatekeepers can’t prevent this news from being discussed.
If anything, the media’s reluctance to discuss Obama’s shady connections may end up torpedoing the Democrats’ chances of taking back the White House. Ironic that the media’s desire to see Obama elected ended up causing the Democrats to nominate someone who might be the least electable candidate.
Because the media hasn’t been doing its job covering Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers, ads like this one are going to resonate this fall:
4 August 2008 @ 8:04AM >>AngryJournalist.com, an anonymous gripe site for journalists, is an entertaining read for those who want to understand the mentality of people in an industry undergoing seismic changes. The top post currently reads:
I definitely agree with you. Im so sick of white, old males being dominant in the news field. That’s why it is going down. Could we get some young people, non-white folks in the industry? Oh wait, when we do, the old geesers just pass on our ideas anyway. There’s no use.
Much of the site reads like the verbal flailing of folks scrambling for life jackets on a sinking ship. You’ll also get a few laughs reading the site, but I suspect most of the comedy is unintentional.
31 July 2008 @ 6:06PM >>
...at least that what Senator Barack Obama is implying.
Once again, the post-racial messiah, the guy who refers to his own grandmother as a “typical white person,” is playing the race card, effectively accusing the McCain team of using Obama’s race to try to scare voters. Of course, Saint Obama can’t point to any instances of this actually happening, and because he can’t, he is at least clever enough to use the future tense:
“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”
Republicans on Saturday blocked the Senate from considering a bill next week that would nearly double federal aid to help the poor pay heating and air-conditioning bills.
Although a dozen Senate Republicans support the measure, most voted with GOP leaders who would rather spend the time trumpeting their call to expand offshore oil drilling before Congress takes six weeks off for vacation and the presidential nominating conventions.
It doesn’t get much more blatant than that.
Kudos to AP for doing its part to drive the media’s credibility into the ground.
25 July 2008 @ 8:36AM >>
The establishment media must assume its audience are fools, claiming to be objective and unbiased while the evidence says otherwise:
An analysis of federal records shows that the amount of money journalists contributed so far this election cycle favors Democrats by a 15:1 ratio over Republicans, with $225,563 going to Democrats, only $16,298 to Republicans.
Two-hundred thirty-five journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans - a margin greater than 10-to-1. An even greater disparity, 20-to-1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.
Searches for other newsroom categories (reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors, newspaper editors and publishers) produces 311 donors to Democrats to 30 donors to Republicans, a ratio of just over 10-to-1. In terms of money, $279,266 went to Dems, $20,709 to Republicans, a 14-to-1 ratio.
21 July 2008 @ 7:12PM >>
If you’re in the news business, media bias hurts your bottom line by diminishing the public’s trust in your product. In a business where messages are the only product, being seen as an unreliable messenger is just plain stupid business.
The idea that reporters are trying to help Obama win in November has grown by five percentage points over the past month. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey, taken just before the new controversy involving the Times erupted, found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help the Democrat with their coverage, up from 44% a month ago.
Just 14% believe most reporters will try to help McCain win, little changed from 13% a month ago. Just one voter in four (24%) believes that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage.
In the latest survey, a plurality of Democrats-37%— say most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of the campaign. Twenty-seven percent (27%) believe most reporters are trying to help Obama and 21% in Obama’s party think reporters are trying to help the Republican candidate.
Among Republicans, 78% believe reporters are trying to help Obama and 10% see most offering unbiased coverage.
As for unaffiliated voters, 50% see a pro-Obama bias and 21% see unbiased coverage. Just 12% of those not affiliated with either major party believe the reporters are trying to help McCain.
In a more general sense, 45% say that most reporters would hide information if it hurt the candidate they wanted to win. Just 30% disagree and 25% are not sure. Democrats are evenly divided as to whether a reporter would release such information while Republicans and unaffiliated voters have less confidence in the reporters.
A separate survey released this morning also found that 50% of voters believe most reporters want to make the economy seem worse than it is. A plurality believes that the media has also tried to make the war in Iraq appear worse that it really is.
There were certain words that would pop up from time to time in the Associated Press stories that moved onto the site that were a bit salacious, or unacceptable to post.
“We don’t have the staff to monitor all the Hollywood stories,” news director Fred Jackson said yesterday, “so we wanted an automated function.” He said they put up the filter about a month or so ago.
One word they wanted to filter was “gay.” The site felt that the term put the matter of homosexuality “in a positive light,” Jackson said, when the evangelical Christian organization was much opposed. So when a wire story referred to gay marriage, for example, the phrase would automatically appear as “homosexual marriage.”
Worked fine until Sunday, when the AP reported that “Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.” The story was headlined “Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials.”
“On Saturday,” the story said, “Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat...”
That’s world champion sprinter Tyson Gay, of course.
The copyright doctrine of fair use is generally lenient in allowing works to be quoted or reproduced for news and commentary purposes. Yet earlier this year, the Associated Press forced the website SnappedShot to take down various AP photos which had been posted for the purpose of criticism. Brian C. Ledbetter, who runs SnappedShot, believed he was well within his fair use rights, but he lacked the resources to fight the media powerhouse.
And within the last week, it came to light that AP lawyers threatened the proprietor of another blog for posting excerpts of AP articles. Considering that none of the excerpts posted were longer than 79 words, the AP’s stance seemed extreme to many, and the incident led to a lot of outrage online.
Just 17% of voters nationwide believe that most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of election campaigns. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that four times as many—68%—believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win.
The perception that reporters are advocates rather than observers is held by 82% of Republicans, 56% of Democrats, and 69% of voters not affiliated with either major party. The skepticism about reporters cuts across income, racial, gender, and age barriers.
Ideologically, political liberals give the least pessimistic assessment of reporters, but even 50% of those on the political left see bias. Thirty-three percent (33%) of liberals believe most reporters try to be objective. Moderates, by a 65% to 17% margin, see reporters as advocates, not scribes. Among political conservatives, only 7% see reporters as objective while 83% believe they are biased.
Looking ahead to the fall campaign, 44% believe most reporters will try to help Obama while only 13% believe that most will try to help McCain. Twenty-four percent (24%) are optimistic enough to believe that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage.
Even Democrats tend to believe their candidate will receive better treatment—27% of those in Obama’s party believe most reporters will try to help him win while only 16% believe they will help McCain. A plurality of Democrats—34%—believe most reporters will be unbiased.
Among unaffiliated voters, 44% believe reporters will try to help Obama and 14% believe they will try to help McCain. Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans expect Obama to receive preferential treatment while only 8% believe reporters will try to help McCain.
Voters aren’t as gullible as some in the media seem to think.
4 June 2008 >>
The psychology of Bill Clinton as portrayed in the recent Vanity Fair piece “The Comeback Id” (you know, the article that caused the former president to refer to its author as a “sleazy,” “slimy” “scumbag”), reminded me of how I described my perception of the man in “The Shallowness of Clinton.”
I wrote that piece in the spring of 2002, back when Bill Clinton was still a darling of devoted Democrats and the establishment media.
It’s a bit reassuring that so many of his former blind followers finally see him the way I always have.
But still, one thing bothers me...
Did all these folks really not notice the real Clinton? For eight years? Or did they just not care because he had the “right” political enemies?
Bill Clinton was a pretty good con-man, so maybe I should go a little easy on all you former patsies out there.
You’re a little late to reality, but we’ll welcome you anyway.
2 June 2008 @ 8:29AM >>
When a blue-blooded old media outlet like the Washington Post raises the possibility of victory in Iraq on its editorial pages, it’s news:
THERE’S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks — which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington’s attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have “never been closer to defeat than they are now.”
Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained “special groups” that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is — of course — too early to celebrate; though now in disarray, the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the U.S. and Iraqi elections this fall. Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments — and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the “this-war-is-lost” caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
It is funny to see the editors say it’s “odd” that the stunning turnaround in Iraq isn’t getting more press coverage. If they think it’s under-reported, isn’t a rather simple solution to report it more? In fact, wouldn’t that be the only journalistically responsible thing to do?
After all, it’s not as though the Washington Post exists in a vacuum; if the paper decided to cover success in Iraq as vigorously as it covered failure, other media outlets would have a harder time continuing to peddle a storyline of defeat.
Eventually, politicians would even have to acknowledge the emerging reality. But as the Post notes, that might be problematic for certain candidates.
Perhaps that’s why these improvements aren’t being reported more.
Still, it’s refreshing to see the Post acknowledge the very real successes of the past year. Will other outlets follow suit?