Friday, October 18, 2013 7:56 pm
Thursday, August 29, 2013 7:24 pm
… courtesy of Juanita Jean, who, if she keeps up, is going to start getting mentioned in the same breath with Molly Ivins:
With Jon Stewart gone for the summer, Fox News has stepped up to fill the humor void.
This week, they had on an “expert” doctor who explained that gender bias in health care costs is not only legitimate, it is fair. He said that women should have high health care costs because we have ta-tas, ovaries, and all manner of mysterious stuff going on inside us.
Men don’t have that messy stuff. Men “only have the prostate,” he said. Well, that does kinda explain why they are so freekin’ stupid. You know, lacking a brain and all. They are just one giant prostate walking around wearing socks with sandals.
I don’t know about you, but I find this notion even funnier than the giant, inflamed gall bladder walking around that I dreamed about last week while under the influence of Percocet and Trazadone after having my own gall bladder removed. And now that I’m healing up, that’s pretty damn funny.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 7:30 pm
The collapse of pro journalism parallels the collapse of the planet, he argues, and journalism shouldn’t treat or respond to the phenomenon as a coincidence:
For those who believe that a robust public-affairs journalism is essential for a society striving to be democratic, the 21st century has been characterized by bad news that keeps getting worse.
Whatever one’s evaluation of traditional advertising-supported news media (and I have been among its critics; more on that later), the unraveling of that business model has left us with fewer professional journalists who are being paid a living wage to do original reporting. It’s unrealistic to imagine that journalism can flourish without journalists who have the time and resources to do journalism.
For those who care about a robust human presence on the planet, the 21st century has been characterized by really bad news that keeps getting really, really worse.
Whatever one’s evaluation of high-energy/high-technology civilization (and I have been among its critics; more on that later), it’s now clear that we are hitting physical limits; we cannot expect to maintain contemporary levels of consumption that draw down the ecological capital of the planet at rates dramatically beyond replacement levels. It unrealistic to imagine that we can go on treating the planet as nothing more than a mine from which we extract and a landfill into which we dump.
We have no choice but to deal with the collapse of journalism, but we also should recognize the need for a journalism of collapse. Everyone understands that economic changes are forcing a refashioning of the journalism profession. It’s long past time for everyone to pay attention to how multiple, cascading ecological crises should be changing professional journalism’s mission in even more dramatic fashion.
It’s time for an apocalyptic journalism (that takes some explaining; a lot more on that later).
It’s a bit of a long read, and well worth the time even if you don’t much care for or about mainstream journalism, unless you’ve got a spare planet somewhere that you can go live on.
Which leads to why I call this pro journalism’s next, last mission: because I believe that global environmental degradation (largely anthropogenic) is the biggest story on the planet right now and will continue to be for at least a couple more generations, and because I believe that that degradation already is too far gone for us to prevent widespread death and destruction within my children’s lifetimes. Only global thermonuclear war, impact with a sizable comet or asteroid, or invasion by hostile space aliens risk greater damage, and none is anywhere near as likely as harm from environmental damage.
If you, a journalist, want to be relevant, you can put start by putting variations of that story on your front page every day. I don’t care if you’re The New York Times or the Podunk Daily Bugle, there’s an angle you can work. If your downtown were being destroyed, you’d cover it. The fact that the damage is in slow motion or that you can’t see it from your office window doesn’t mean the damage to your home planet is any less real or any less of a story.
Thursday, March 14, 2013 8:42 pm
Former “Patch” editor explains why it didn’t, couldn’t work, which anyone in newspapers could have told Patch and many did. Years ago.
Whocouldaknowed, am I right?
Ken Layne [interviewer for The Awl]: So you are a newspaper reporter and editor, and at some point you decided to “go digital” and get a job with the hyperlocal Patch.com sites run by AOL. How and when did this happen?
Sammy [Sturgeon, pseudonymous former Patch editor]: Well, I’d been laid off and was desperate. I had enough connections that I was able to get an audience with the Patch people, and somebody kind of shooed me in. This was about three years ago.
Ken: Patch was expanding at that point, right.
Sammy: Wildly. The news from New York—where all the MBAs who run Patch live—was that everything was “really exciting,” all the time. “Oh my god, gang, we have some really exciting news. We have launched 11 more sites this past week! We’re super excited.”
Ken: But the concept was that local reporters would cover local news, like high-school sports and planning commission meetings and neighborhood police blotters, right?
Sammy : That was the concept, originally. Then the MBAs realized that that actually takes more manpower than they were able to afford. I guess they thought all that copy and content just sort of wrote itself!
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 6:10 pm
I am sure that Amazon are exploiting their labourers as much as they can and indeed as someone pointed out upthread, Amazon’s long term gameplan is to fire all their manual-labour staff and replace them with robots.
My point was much more basic as I am sure you gleaned…”everyone” (ie all the clever white boys) is convinced that there just must be some way to make money off the internet (long term I mean). Perhaps. But then again perhaps not. (cf. for example here; it is talking about the media but could be talking about anything on the Internet, really: “As traditional journalism disintegrates, no models for making Web journalism—even bad journalism—profitable at anywhere near the level necessary for a credible popular news media have been developed, and there is no reason to expect any in the future.” [Hidari's emphasis -- Lex]
There is probably no better evidence that journalism is a public good than the fact that none of America’s financial geniuses can figure out how to make money off it. The comparison to education is striking. When managers apply market logic to schools, it fails, because education is a cooperative public service, not a business. Corporatized schools throw underachieving, hard-to-teach kids overboard, discontinue expensive programs, bombard students with endless tests, and then attack teacher salaries and unions as the main impediment to “success.” No one has ever made profits doing quality education—for-profit education companies seize public funds and make their money by not teaching. In digital news, the same dynamic is producing the same results, and leads to the same conclusion.”
First, is quality journalism in fact a public good? If not, then how does one make money at it in the Internet era?
Second, if it is, what do we do about the dilemma that that condition creates? The traditional source of funding for public goods is the public (i.e., government, i.e., all of us). But the key job of quality journalism in a democracy is keeping an eye on the government. The BBC does so fairly well in the U.K., but I could easily see just one redneck committee chairman in the Senate placing an anonymous hold on funding for public journalism just as soon as one of his oxen appeared in danger of being gored.
Third, if we choose to live without quality journalism because there’s no way to support it financially, where do we end up, and what does that mean for the future of the idea of the U.S. as codified in the Constitution?
Serious answers, please. I don’t normally moderate comments to a great extent, but I really want to know what serious answers, if any, people have to these questions, and I’ll spike, with extreme prejudice, any BS responses.
Friday, February 22, 2013 8:41 pm
Finally, finally, finally, the owner of a newspaper has told the geeks, waterheads, nematodes, mouth-breathers and knuckle-dragging readers who masturbate to gun ads but can’t STAND the possibility that their local newspaper might publish a story about two happy people doing something that’s none of their damn business to take their whiny, misprioritized complaints and shove them north toward their tonsils.
God, I need a cigarette. And I haven’t smoked in almost 35 years.
Our story begins when Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven — yes, that’d be two people with ladyparts — got married in, believe it, Jones County, Missafreakingsippi, the left ventricle of Bat Country. The Laurel Leader-Call newspaper did a front page story, acknowledging the historic (albeit legally unrecognized) nature of the event, and then basically letting the protagonists speak for themselves and for each other — not an approach recommended for political coverage, but perfectly acceptable for a wedding story. (Bonus pathos: Craven has Stage 4 brain cancer.)
Well, Leader-Call readers freaked out. They called. They wrote. They virtually spat on the paper’s Facebook page.
So how did the paper’s owner, Jim Cegielski, respond?
Did he pretend there was no controversy? Or that if there was, it was OK to ignore it? Did he, God forbid, send an underling out to lie to people about his position or lack thereof instead of manning up and doing his job?
He stood up. He took responsibility. He told the people who were wrong that they were wrong. He told them to stop misbehaving toward his employees just because they’d read a story they didn’t like. And he told them that if they didn’t like all of the above, they could get bent. (If the link doesn’t go directly to Cegielski’s column, flip to page A5, where it’s at the top.)
And the horrible financial price the paper paid for this optimally competent exercise of its privileges and duties? Fifteen canceled subscriptions. Even in Laurel, Mississippi, that’s the equivalent of a few households going away for a long weekend.
So here’s a suggestion to people who want to run newspapers that both make money and bond with with their communities in ways that make long-term profitability even possible: Do your jobs. Be right. And when you are right, take no shit from those who are wrong, particularly when it’s aimed at your underlings. Even most of those who disagree with you will respect that; wanting your boss to have your back is a nonpartisan policy goal in and out of newspapers.
I’m sure Warren Buffett’s BH Media already has some decent ideas about how to dig the News & Record out of the hole it has dug for itself in the past five or so years (not all of which, I hasten to add, is local talent’s fault). But I’m betting that sending someone to Laurel to buy Jim Cegielski lunch and listen to him talk for an hour would not be a bad strategy at all.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 8:40 pm
With the fiery passion of a thousand white-hot suns. Why? Many reasons, ranging from the fact that, with very few exceptions, they suck at their jobs to the fact that, although they’ve got the life of Riley as journalism goes, they whine about everything all the damn time.
Look, I spent 25 years in journalism. And, yes, when journalists get together, they talk about the job and tell stories about the job and whine and bitch about the job. But you know what the smart ones don’t do? Talk, tell stories, whine or bitch about the job in front of non-journalists. Why? First, the non-journalists don’t care. Second, it’s the ultimate first-world problem. Third, people like me get on your ass about it, and, being no masochist, I don’t want people like me on my ass.
My crazy-busy work and school schedules notwithstanding, I was thinking about going on a tear about this whiny Politico article about how tough it is to cover this president because he doesn’t go out of his way to make things easy for you. Cry me a freakin’ river. If I ran a DC news operation, I would staff the White House with a goddamn intern because the real news, the stuff real people actually care about, the stuff that requires real journalism, is almost never in the White House pressroom.
I’d send the real reporters — the ones who know how to get documents and which documents are worth getting, the ones who know how to download, analyze and interpret data, the ones who know how to persuade government employees to put their jobs on the line by talking about the venality, incompetence and even corruption of their superiors, in every Executive Branch office except the White House. And I would tell them two things:
1) Don’t come back with anything but journalism. No polls, no gossip, no speculation, and for God’s sweet sake, no “exclusive interviews.” Just facts, context, analysis, explained in a way that any ordinary person can understand and many ordinary people, for good or ill, will get excited about.
2) If you want to whine about your job, come in, shut my office door and have a seat. But you don’t get to use our newsprint/bytes/whatever to to do it. You whine to me. For as long as you want. And then you get up and leave the office and you don’t whine, you go commit some more goddamn journalism.
Steve at No More Mr. Nice Blog brings it home:
As anyone who pays the slightest attention to pop music (and, these days, books) has figured out, you can self-publish if you want, using this new thing called the Internet. And especially if you’re already famous, you can put your own stuff out on your own site and it can get a hell of a lot of attention, if perhaps not quite the same level of attention you get if the transmission is through a media giant.
So the White House doesn’t always need courtier journalists to release its soft stories — it can post them the way Radiohead posted the album In Rainbows and the public can grab the content directly.
This leaves the press the job of having to figure out what it can offer that’s different from self-published White House content. And that, I believe, would be, y’know, um, journalism. Ever heard of it? Dig around and come up with a story that’s not spoon-fed to you by official sources? That sort of thing?
Instead, we get this:
The frustrated Obama press corps neared rebellion this past holiday weekend when reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National GolfClub, where Obama was golfing. That breached the tradition of the pool “holding” in the clubhouse and often covering — and even questioning — the president on the first and last holes.
Friday, January 18, 2013 9:07 pm
I do not know, nor do I care, about the Manti Te’o story, inasmuch as the Panthers, about whom I do care somewhat, will, if they are smart, draft a defensive lineman in the first round next April, not a linebacker.
But Charlie Pierce cares about the story both in and of itself and because of what it says not just about sports media but about all news media. In particular, he calls out the elite political loudmouths on the teevee who are using Te’o and coverage thereof as a Shiny Object to distract public attention from its own failings, a game they’ve been playing since even before Mark Hertsgaard published “On Bended Knee” a quarter-century ago. And Charlie knows enough about both sides of this particular game that when he speaks, you should listen:
There also is, or ought to be, a lot of soul-searching going on at the various media outlets that passed along this barrel of bushwah. The fact-checking system at a lot of important places utterly broke down. (Your fact-checker discovers that there’s no record of a person at the college she allegedly attended, and no record at all of the severe automobile accident that is so central to the story, and the response is to ”write around” these inconveniences? This is not good.) But, as someone who’s working both sides of the aisle at the moment, there is something up with which I will not put, and that is snarky comments from the elite political press about what suckers the people who write for The Toy Department are. Knock it off, foofs. Careers are made in the courtier press by doing deliberately what probably may have happened by slovenly accident in the case of the sportswriters who passed along this tale of highly marketable pathos. What is the significant difference between the actual reality of Manti Te’o's dead imaginary girlfriend and the actual reality George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford?
In the elite political press, mythmaking — which the gang at Politico would call “building the narrative” — has become so deeply entrenched as a boon to various careers that hardly anyone notices any more. Stephen Glass got away with it for longer than Manti Te’o did, and he did so at several different prestigious publications. Almost nine years ago, Sasha Issenberg pretty much tied David Brooks’s entire reportorial credibility up in a sack and dropped it into the Schuykill, and Brooks nonetheless has continued to thrive and will be teaching Yale undergraduates about humility next fall. So let’s not be doing the Superior Dance too vigorously in the faces of the sportswriters who got played in this case, OK, cool kidz?
But it’s not the spectacular cases that are the real problem. It’s the steady, day-to-day mythmaking — the encasement of grubby political transactions in shiny marble, the draping of togas upon unimaginative hacks, the endless who’s-up-and-who’s-down scoreboard watching that passes for analysis. All of these are just as phony as the ongoing farce in South Bend is. Only within this manufactured world are “the American people” worried right now about The Deficit. The creation of bad vaudeville spectaculars for public consumption is the way to the top of the ladder in political journalism.
Al Gore ran for president and he was beset by a press corps that fashioned its own Al Gore out of nothing more than its own naked animus, and that Al Gore was no more real than Manti Te’o's dead imaginary girlfriend was. (Alas, Melinda Henneberger, who has dogged the Lizzie Seeberg [link added -- Lex] case, was in the middle of that fiasco back in the day, although she was far from the worst of them.) The grand prize of them all, of course, was the spectacular failure of the political press in the matter of Ronald Reagan, who made up more complete shinola about himself and his life before breakfast than Manti Te’o has in his entire life as a public figure. This particular failure has continued even after Reagan’s death.
Manti Te’o met his dead imaginary girlfriend and they “locked eyes” after a game at Stanford? Ronald Reagan knew a welfare queen in Chicago who was driving a Cadillac.
Manti Te’o hung out with his dead imaginary girlfriend in Hawaii? Ronald Reagan liberated death camps during World War II.
Manti Te’o said that his dead imaginary girlfriend was the love of his life? Ronald Reagan said trees cause air pollution.
Manti Te’o said that his dead imaginary girlfriend would have wanted him to play against Michigan State? Ronald Reagan told a story about an act of military heroism that never actually happened, but that he apparently got from a 1944 war movie called, A Wing And A Prayer and when Reagan’s spokesman was asked about this whopper, he replied, “If you tell the same story five times, it’s true.“
So there’s a rough kind of historical symmetry in the fact that Ronald Reagan provided the whitewashed portrayal of the bounder, George Gipp, in the movie that launched the mythology in which the saga of Manti Te’o and his dead imaginary girlfriend found such a proper and profitable home.
The failure of sports journalism in this case is huge and spectacular but, in its impact, it is nothing compared to the discreet daily fabulism that attends so much of the coverage of politics in this country. ”If you tell the same story five times, it’s true.” As anyone who follows elite political journalism in this country will tell you, this is now axiomatic in the field. It’s the way you get ahead. It’s the way you get on television. It is the crude way of saying that perception is reality, which is the fundamental journalistic heresy through which lies become truth simply if they work, and N. Leroy Gingrich becomes a visionary political leader. At least sportswriters still give you an honest account of what happens in the games.
The wealthiest 0.01% are expecting you and me, not them, to fix the deficit even though the deficit is actually well on its way toward fixing itself at the moment and would do so even faster if we worried less about it and more about jobs (particularly here in North Carolina, where the unemployment rate went back up in December). What the wealthiest 0.01% want will, literally, kill tens of thousands of Americans prematurely for lack of job safety and health care. But God forbid we worry about anything more important than a trivial fabrication by a naive/manipulative/closeted-gay (among the many hypotheses I’ve heard) college football player.
Friday, December 7, 2012 6:35 am
On Dec. 7, 1941, Elizabeth McIntosh was a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin when the Japanese bombs began falling at Pearl Harbor. A week later, she wrote a story aimed at Hawaii’s women, to help them understand what had happened and what they could do. It was graphic. Her editor killed it. Today The Washington Post publishes it for the first time.
McIntosh went on to serve in the Office of Strategic Services and its offspring, the CIA. She’s still alive and well at 97.
Monday, November 5, 2012 10:25 pm
Today’s quote of the day comes from Athenae, who, as do I, has a little experience with having her intelligence, patriotism and sexuality questioned by people who are dumber than a box of rocks, would sell nukes to al-Qaeda if the price were right and would screw a snake if they could get someone to hold its head and, as do I, has lost all patience with professional journalists who see this invective as a reason not to report, you know, facts:
“There are worse things than a bunch of wingnuts calling you an asshole. I know they’re annoying and I know they’re loud right now, but if all it takes is loud and annoying to make editors and news directors do what you want them to do why hasn’t Matt Lauer been fired and forced to stand in Times Square covered in bees?”
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 7:17 pm
The fall of the mainstream media has had many causes, but speaking as someone who spent a quarter-century working in it, I think few have been more damaging than the adherence to narratives that were either no longer operative or never true in the first place. And nowhere has this adherence been more in evidence than in how the MSM, your so-called liberal media, has behaved toward the Republican Party. Yes, journalists tend toward the middle of the political spectrum (there are almost no true leftists anymore), but 45 years of working the refs has had such an all-encompassing effect that no one is mentioning the elephant defecating in the room. Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog summarizes:
But the press had a story. It’s a great, multi-threaded story, really, even though nobody in the press thinks it is. It’s a story the press could have been telling us for years, but never wanted to bother: the story of a major American political party going absolutely stark raving mad, while having the power and persuasive ability to potentially take the country with it. It’s a party that flirted with nominating barking lunatics such as Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum before settling on a guy who was able to mollify supporters of those lunatics by faking (or imbibing) madness himself, by being a pathological liar, and by spending millions of dollars — because this party is crazy about the rich, and has persuaded much of the country to want to coddle the rich even after the rich nearly destroyed the world.
The party lurches from superstitious belief to superstitious belief (in the phoniness of climate change, in the existence of massive Democratic voter fraud, in the imminence of sharia law in the U.S., in the socialist/Muslim leanings of the centrist Christian in the White House, and so on). The rich guy at its head flirted with some of those beliefs and gave aid and comfort to firm believers in them.
If the party were a celebrity or a historical figure, it would be Charlie Sheen or Caligula, and everyone would want to tell the story. But nobody wants to tell this story. Nobody wants to write that the GOP is insane. Nobody wants to write that a great country can’t survive with crazy zillionaires selling conspiracy theories to angry white people via 24/7 media, just so they can get somewhat lower tax rates.
The story is there, guys. It wasn’t good enough for you, I guess.
Or, as Driftglass puts it:
And yet the MSM continues to prop up the rotting carcass of the GOP like the corpse in ”Weekend at Bernie’s”, and waltz it lovingly across the national stage year after year after year, protecting it as ferociously as they would their own children even as it goes raving mad, putrefies and crumbles to reek and maggots in their arms.
If a guy commits a crime and you help him, you’re guilty of a crime yourself — aiding and abetting, at the least. So when you aid and abet the journey to insanity of one of the country’s two major parties, and perhaps the entire country along with it, what does that make you?
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 8:04 pm
Dana Milbank devoted his [Washington Post] column to the disenchantment of progressives with the current political situation. At one point he comments that “the still-lumbering economy has depressed President Obama’s supporters.”
While this is no doubt true, it is worth mentioning that just about all progressives said at the time that the stimulus would be inadequate to restore the economy to a healthy growth path. The collapse of the housing bubble destroyed close to $1.2 trillion in annual demand from construction and consumption. At its peak in 2009 and 2010 the stimulus only replaced about $300 billion in annual spending.
It is discouraging to see so many people suffering unnecessarily, but this outcome is exactly what our analysis predicted at the time. Unfortunately, having a track record of being right is not generally a factor in determining which views carry weight in Washington policy debates.
Somebody tell me again how the U.S. is a meritocracy. Or, as Driftglass famously observed:
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 8:27 pm
As befits one of the holders of prime New York Times op-ed real-estate, columnist David Brooks has analyzed American society and concluded that the problem is … us:
I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions. That’s not mostly because our institutions perform much worse than they did in 1925 and 1955, when they were widely trusted. It’s mostly because more people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them. Vanity has more to do with rising distrust than anything else.
I guess Brooks didn’t get the word about the brown acid.
Because, see, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Monicagate, torture and other war crimes, and even The New York Times helping lie this country into a war and sitting on a story about unconstitutional and criminal government wiretapping for more than a year while the guilty president who ordered it won re-election, have had nothing to do with collapse of people’s faith in institutions. Nor has the fact that the economy got blown up by the greatest white-collar crime in history while the people responsible are still massively wealthy and the people who warned about it are continually ignored. Nor has the fact that government in general and the Republican Party in particular are hell-bent on looting this country until there is nothing left to steal.
And Jesus H. Child Molesting Vaginal Ultrasound Christ with Jimmy Swaggart Sauce and Jerry Falwell on top, what could institutional religion possibly have done to warrant such a massive loss of trust?
Without having done any polling, I’ll grant Brooks one possible point: It might actually be true that institutions aren’t performing significantly worse now than they did in 1955 (they were screwing up in 1925, too, and the result was the Great Depression). It might just be that thanks to the Intertubez, we just know more about the screwups than we used to. Certainly I don’t think the Catholic Church’s skirts were any cleaner in 1955.
But the reason followers aren’t following leaders the way they used to has nothing to do with vanity on the rabble’s part. (I and people like me don’t think we’re better than everyone else around us, but let’s face it: If Congress, the Roman Catholic Church and The New York Times op-ed page are the standard, then the bar’s really not all that high.) It’s not even explained entirely by the fact that leaders have manifestly screwed the pooch and/or sold themselves to the highest bidder, over and over again. No, what really gets our goats is that if you have enough money and/or profess to believe certain things, you can commit the most calamitous misfeasances, utterly without consequence — indeed, you can make a career out of failing upward – while those who were right are marginalized and ridiculed. Blogger Driftglass has neatly encapsulated the phenomenon:
That last bit’s the most maddening part, and for Exhibit A, you need look no further than David Effing Brooks himself, sitting in his comfy office at the Times Almighty and pulling meretricious and/or delusional observations out of his lower digestive tract, not only getting to keep his lucrative job but actually being celebrated as a public intellectual. He has decided that this country’s biggest problem is that you and I haven’t suffered enough. God help us.
Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:11 pm
Forbes.com catches House Speaker John Boehner in a lie — and says so in so many words.
Sure, the writer is a freelancer. But Forbes.com editors let that story go out.
I’ve long thought that news media ought to call liars liars more often.
Friday, December 23, 2011 7:54 pm
Why SteveM at Balloon Juice, whom you’ve probably never heard of, is a better political analyst than Tom Friedman
Because he says stuff like this:
In all likelihood, we’ve got 2000 all over again. Romney now, like Bush then, hasn’t always spoken like a flaming wingnut throughout his political career (and didn’t fully behave like one in the governor’s office)—which means that Romney now, like Bush then, is going to be called a “moderate” during the general election campaign no matter what he says in his speeches. Romney’s Massachusetts past, like Bush’s cooperation with Texas Democrats and prattle about “compassionate conservatism,” is going to give him carte blanche to say anything without the mainstream press grasping the fact that if he’s talking wingnut, it means he intends to govern as a wingnut.
Some beat reporter from 2000—I think it was Adam Clymer—said after Bush took office that his right-wing leanings were obvious all through the campaign if you just bothered to read his policy proposals and listen to him on the stump. This stuff was hiding in plain sight. Everyone just ignored it. And they’re probably going to ignore it again.
I cannot and will not predict at this point who will get the GOP nomination. But I’m confident that if Romney is the nominee, this is exactly how it will go down: The mainstream media will ignore what’s in plain sight.
UPDATE: Also at BJ, John Cole deftly eviscerates Rich Lowry and National Review Online, and by extension the entire GOP establishment, which apparently are freaking right the fark out at the prospect that racist anti-Semite Chomskyite goldbug Ron Paul might actually get somewhere in the Iowa GOP caucus:
Basically, Rich Lowry wants you to believe that Ron Paul is too racist to be President, but just racist enough to be a Republican in the House for several decades.
Monday, December 12, 2011 8:52 pm
There are people who have the job of being political hacks. Of being [jerks]. I get that. I don’t have a problem with these people. It’s their jobs to argue for things based on what the politics is. I don’t think they should be obeyed, but their existence doesn’t bother me.
The problem isn’t that people listen to political hacks, the problem is that they assume they’re right. You know, “the politics of mortgage relief is bad” trumped “the politics of people being thrown out of their homes and the economy being horrible is bad” based on this kind of advice.
The point is, I get that the sociopaths are in the room. But don’t necessarily obey them, and more than that … don’t necessarily assume they really know what they’re doing. They’re sociopaths, after all.
I’m not sure whether Atrios intended his remark to cover American “journalism” or just the political sphere, but, believe me, it covers a lot of the D.C. media establishment at least as much as it covers politicians and their minions.
Sunday, November 27, 2011 10:31 pm
… outsourced to Duncan “Atrios” Black:
When Village elders like David Brooks or similar write their various tributes to the joys of other people suffering in order to purge the nation of its sins, and by sins they mean the Lewinsky affair and not banksters stealing all the money, I think their idea of personal austerity is like cutting HBO from the cable bill or something. They have no understanding of what it might be like to be without a job for years after spending your life living mostly paycheck to paycheck. It isn’t about one fewer trip per month to the Outback.
Sunday, October 23, 2011 4:24 pm
Not surprisingly, with a bone-headed play by the So-Called Liberal Media.
In this case, it was a short piece by Roll Call’s Neda Semnani, who writes the “Heard on the Hill” column. From the snarky headline to the factual inaccuracies, it is one steaming, stinking heap of FAIL.
So late Friday, I emailed her:
I thought I’d fill in some gaps in your reporting on Lisa Simeone. Whether you choose to share this information with your readers or not, I leave to your conscience. Oh, and my blog. Hee.
Lisa Simeone is a FREELANCER. For WAMU (until her unjustified dismissal). And for WDAV, for whom she continues to produce “World of Opera.” Although she did, once, work for NPR, she hasn’t had any direct, formal relationship with the network in quite a while.
Have you ever been a freelancer? Because I don’t think you have. It’s a tough gig. For one thing, overentitled clients generally presume that because they pay you to produce a certain body of work, they assume control over all other aspects of your public life EVEN IF THEY HAVEN’T BOTHERED TO OBTAIN THE CONTRACTUAL RIGHTS TO DO SO.
No, dear. The technical term for that is “slavery,” and it was outlawed by the 13th Amendment. Jim Asendio should have known that. So should you.
If WAMU had wished to obtain that level of control over what Simeone did on her own time, it was perfectly entitled to negotiate for the rights. It failed to do so. I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve freelanced off and on since 1978, and because whether I ate or not depended on my attention to this level of detail, I’m confident I’m accurate when I say that absent other evidence of which I am unaware, not only was WAMU’s action unjustified, but also that Ms. Simeone has grounds to seek, at the least, a buyout of the remainder of her contract, if any, and possibly other damages.
As for WDAV, for which I once worked, and which is operated by my alma mater, it didn’t need any of this explained to it. The station and college looked over the contract with NPR under which they produce “World of Opera” for NPR, decided that they were in full compliance and politely told NPR to take a flying flip at a rolling doughnut.
“If you want to be a hack, don’t flack.” No, Neda; if you want to be a journalist, you need to start calling bullshit on every noncontroversy that the right-wing Wurlitzer tries to gin up into a Category 5 scandal. I’ve been a Red State Republican since 1978, and even I get that. You’re being played, and the fact that NPR management has the political savvy and common sense of dryer lint (see: Williams, Juan) doesn’t let you off the hook. [Note that I am giving her the benefit of the doubt here and presuming that she's just passing along a bug someone put in her ear, rather than presuming that she fabricated a controversy on her own initiative. -- Lex]
Many thanks for your email. I spoke to and used Ms. Simeone’s quote in my original post. I have her on tape, which is what I used. I was quite explicit about her role as a freelancer and a host. I was clear about the information I had as I received it, including stating that she was not fired from her post as host of NPR’s World of Opera in my follow up item.
I have passed your email to my editor.
If you have any further comments and concerns, feel free to email me any time.
For those of you following along at home, the question wasn’t the accuracy of Semnani’s quoting of Simeone. It was the accuracy, or lack thereof, of what she was saying about what Simeone said. So I responded:
… she said, “Well, I work in radio still, but this is totally different.”
Huh. Different, how?
“I’m a freelancer,” she said.
You also allowed Jim Asendio to assume facts not in evidence, as the lawyers say. What he says is true if and only if WAMU’s code of ethics is incorporated directly or by reference into the freelance contract the station has with Ms. Simeone. If it isn’t — and your article offered no evidence that it is — then he doesn’t get to decide after the fact that she’s a journalist and therefore bound by some code of ethics to which she never agreed.
I’m not only questioning your abilities as a journalist, I’m now also questioning your ability to read plain English. Feel free to share that with your editor as well.
Haven’t heard any more from her, but she’s entitled to a weekend, too, so that’s fine. I’ll let you know what else, if anything, transpires, although I’ll be subject to the demands of work, school and parenting and so might not be able to do so in anything approaching real time.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:28 pm
In which Jesse LaGreca not only appears on a Sunday-morning TV talk show but also is far more polite in the face of George Effing Will and Peggy Noonan’s disingenuousness than I could ever be.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 10:19 pm
Monday, August 15, 2011 8:07 pm
People are more pissed off at Congress than they have ever been. And yet, in contrast to 2010, when corporate money ginned up an Astroturf “revolt” that got national media coverage, you won’t be seeing stories on the TV nooz about angry constituents confronting their congresscritters over their inaction on the economy, even though it is seen as far and away the country’s most pressing problem.
Fortunately, there’s YouTube …
Let’s see which MSM reporters are clever, or crazy, enough to cover a real story.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011 8:11 pm
“How do you have a discussion with someone when language is intentionally denied the purpose of conveying meaning?”
Quote of the Day, language edition, from Roch Smith in the comments at Ed’s place. He’s talking about economics but the phenomenon he describes applies to pretty much all our public discourse of late:
I used to try to argue with people who detached meaning from words, but it’s impossible. There are people for whom a legitimate “argument” involves ignoring the meaning of words or imbuing them with a meaning that they do not have, sometimes to the point of making them even the opposite of what they mean.
How do you have a discussion with someone when language is intentionally denied the purpose of conveying meaning? Some people view the purpose of a “debate” as constructing an impenetrable barricade against the intrusion of a new idea. Language is not for getting an idea from one mind to another, it is for keeping preconception unmolested; as such, it need not have any fidelity to meaning. The purpose of a “discussion” for the meaning-snatchers is to gainsay, block and frustrate — abandoning meaning serves that purpose well. But you can’t engage it except as a futility.
It’s like arguing with gibberish. One might as well be arguing with: “You said, ‘Keynes suffocated oranges for the transport of the orbiting oak spoons,’ but his dog collar chastity is more of an aerobic digestion, not the marbled decorum you wrongly espouse. So there!”
Roch poses the question mostly rhetorically, but its answer has real, and pernicious, real-world consequences — consequences that those in Washington who work with words for a living could, but choose not to, ameliorate. (And I know they know better because I trained some of them.)
Friday, July 22, 2011 8:31 pm
Gin and Tacos:
(Let’s) indulge in a fun hypothetical.
Let’s say that through a combination of fund-raising prowess, ideological militancy, and personal charisma, Jesse Jackson Sr. is able to assume a position of considerable behind-the-scenes power in the Democratic Party. His sway over elected Democrats is such that he manages to get 95% of the Democratic Congressional delegation, House and Senate, to sign an oath of personal loyalty to his policy goals. Specifically, they pledge that under no circumstances will they ever support cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social welfare programs. Jackson believes that any such cuts will affect the poor and people of color disproportionately. Throughout the debate over the budget and debt ceiling, House and Senate Democrats refuse to even consider any proposal that touches any of those programs. It is a non-starter. Full stop. Because they swore an oath to Jesse Jackson that they wouldn’t.
I’m sure you can see through this thin shoe-on-the-other-partisan-foot analogy to Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” that currently holds sway over the GOP. I do think it’s interesting to draw out the hypothetical scenario, though, to underscore a point: Can you even imagine the sheer violence of the [drawers-soiling] that the GOP, Teatards, and Beltway media would be engaged in if the shoe really was on the other foot? If every Democrat had signed a personal oath to an interest group and private citizen that took precedence over their oath to the American people and Constitution?
I’m quite sure someone would have taken a shot — literally — at Jackson by now. But we know, and are more willing by the day to acknowledge publicly, that the congressional GOP and the party base are insane. The more interesting part of this thought experiment to me is what the exercise tells us about the U.S. news media: its political leanings, its philosophical allegiances and its sickening double standards.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 8:54 pm
… when Blagojevich first faced accusations of trying to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat, speculation was rampant that allegations of corruption would marr Obama’s presidency before it even began.
For months after the initial accusations became public, media figures kept vaguely claiming that a “cloud” was now hanging over Obama, even though there was little evidence Obama or his staff had done anything wrong. When Obama said he wouldn’t comment on an “ongoing investigation,” that drew comparisons to the Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff corruption scandals. When no gotcha moment occured, cable news pundits actually took to criticizing Obama for not being more effective in convincing reporters not to baselessly speculate that he was corrupt.
It’s not hard to understand how this happened, given how cynical American politics can get. Many reporters must have been thinking, “when was the last time a politician denied being involved in a corruption scandal and was actually telling the truth?”
It’s usually a better than even bet that they aren’t. And in the case of the Blago tale, the anticipation of a juicy corruption scandal going “all the way to the top” just didn’t pan out. It wasn’t the political press’ finest moment.
Journalists frequently attempt two things they’re pretty awful at: psychoanalysis and divination. That’s one small but real reason why journalism is held in such ill repute.
Friday, June 3, 2011 11:46 am
Major U.S. newspapers have increasingly shifted their attention away from coverage of unemployment in recent months while greatly intensifying their focus on the deficit, a National Journal analysis shows.
The analysis — based on a measure of how often the words “unemployment” and “deficit” appear in major publications — portrays a dramatically shifting landscape of coverage over the past two years, as the debate over how to fix the federal deficit has risen to prominence and the question of how to handle still-high unemployment has faded from the media’s consciousness.
Yes, large deficits are a serious problem. But they’re a serious problem in the longer-term. Yes, they could cause inflation. But the interest rate on 10-year Treasuries has fallen a full half a point recently, indicating that the markets see no evidence of inflation coming anytime soon.
Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans are out of work or badly underemployed. They’re experiencing real human misery right now, today. And the Serious Journalists, economically illiterate and morally bankrupt, couldn’t give less of a damn.
One last thing: This isn’t a failure of reporters. Failures this big require the complicity, if not the direction, of editors and publishers.
UPDATE: Wells Fargo thinks Americans just need to get used to 9% unemployment. I think it’s about time Americans told Wells Fargo to get used to doing business without FDIC insurance. Bitches.
Monday, April 18, 2011 9:14 pm
I welcomed the addition of Joseph Nocera to the New York Times’ op-ed stable primarily because he has been properly harsh on the socialization of private industry’s costs (particularly banking) and because I thought he might not succumb to the Times culture of constantly denying undeniable error.
First, Nocera writes a column about the need for increased domestic natural-gas production (which, by the way, I don’t dispute) without mentioning the significant potential environmental downside — a particularly egregious omission for those of us in North Carolina, where the battle over whether and how fracking will be permitted is being waged in the General Assembly right now.
OK, Times, we get it. Just die already.
Sunday, October 17, 2010 12:50 pm
In my previous life as a reporter, I frequently had to write a news article about a scientific finding (usually, though not always, medical in nature). I learned a lot of hard lessons the hard way in so doing, and they served me so well that I have thought from time to time about posting a tutorial for other journalists on how to handle this routine but fraught journalistic task.
However, the Guardian has already done so, so I’m happy to link to theirs. The comments also are enlightening.
(h/t: DougJ at Balloon Juice)
Sunday, September 5, 2010 9:01 pm
Now that I think about it, I think this sentence pretty much encapsulates everything wrong with the entire country, not just the newspaper bidness.
Saturday, July 24, 2010 2:39 pm
Newsbusters thinks the CNN anchors are crazy.
Glenn Greenwald thinks the CNN anchors have a point … but not the point that they think they have.
For the record, I believe any governmental effort to regulate anonymous/pseudonymous blogging would be constitutionally flawed and doomed on practical grounds to fail. This is not anything government can or should do anything about.
I also believe that media outlets and commentators overuse anonymous sources and that while there’s a lot more talk about that problem than there was 15 or 20 years ago, there’s been no action.
But I also believe that when the Drudges and Breitbarts of the world pull stuff out of their nether orifices, they should be held accountable. I know it won’t happen, but I would love to see Shirley Sherrod sue the stuffing out of Breitbart. What could happen, if reporters and commentators could be troubled to grow a pair, is that they could stop relying on the Drudges and the Breitbarts of the world when they’ve been proved as wrong as they have on as many big stories as they have. And the fact that Drudge has occasionally been right does not let him off the hook, let alone let off the hook the more respectable outlets that let him drive their agenda.