Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz types up Mika Brzezinski's claims of liberal media bias:
In an interview with WNBC's Julie Menin, Brzezinski, who's promoting her book "All Things At Once," says it's time to "stop pretending. . . . Every journalist should tell us what their political affiliation is," and which candidates they have voted for.
Denizens of the MSM try to be objective, she says, but have "got a liberal point of view. The balance is not there." Otherwise, viewers can be "duped."
That would have been a good place for Kurtz to note, by way of demonstrating Brzezinski's point of view, that she took heat last year for suggesting that liberals are not "real Americans."
Of course, Kurtz didn't do that. It wouldn't have fit in with his preferred way of portraying Brzezinski -- as a liberal counterpart to Joe Scarborough.
Here's how Kurtz did describe Brzezinski:
That argument comes not from some rabid right-winger but from Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of "Morning Joe" and the daughter of Jimmy Carter's national security adviser.
As for Brzezinski's implication that the content of news reports reliably matches the personal political leanings of the reporters behind them, I don't buy it. And Brzezinski herself is a pretty good argument against that assumption: I don't have much difficulty believing that she voted for Barack Obama, and yet she runs around suggesting that conservatives -- and only conservatives -- are "real Americans."
Boston College professor Alan Wolfe reviews Game Change for the Washington Post:
John Heilemann, national political correspondent for New York magazine, and Mark Halperin, editor at large for Time, have been subject to some pretty harsh judgments of their coverage. Both are members in good standing of the "Village," the derisive term widely used in the blogosphere to convey what critics see as the insular and complacent quality of mainstream journalism.
The lefty bloggers' basic complaint is that the Washington press corps deals in trivia, reflects conventional wisdom and is all too respectful of the politicians it should be challenging. "Game Change," the new book by Heilemann and Halperin, offers this reviewer a chance to judge the judgers: Are the bloggers on to something, or are they just jealous of the fact that inside-the-Beltway journalists such as Heilemann and Halperin are quite skillful?
"Game Change" inadvertently confirms just how many of our top political journalists really are Villagers. ... For one thing, Heilemann and Halperin write about the campaign as if they were not active participants in shaping it.
Heilemann and Halperin also purvey a lot of material in stenographic fashion, which only feeds into the complaints of their critics.
[W]hile the authors of "Game Change" have much to say about John McCain's dreadful response to the economic crisis, they shy away from any discussion of economics. Nor would one know, after reading this book, that the biggest task facing the winner of the election would be cleaning up the mess left by the people on the way out. To talk about real historical significance would mean addressing matters of substance, and that would violate the chatty inside-dope approach that characterizes Village journalism.
I read the bloggers and, while I admire their energy and commitment, I often find their near-hysteria off-putting. When they write about the Villagers, I detect, if not jealousy, then smugness, as if they believe they could do a better job than the journalists who take home the big bucks. As someone who grew up reading great political reporting, even the kind that produced the classic campaign books of previous years, I wish that all those who scoff about insular and un-self-critical Villagers would be proven wrong. It is too bad that Heilemann and Halperin have proved them, by and large, right.
A simple media request: If reporters can't find a single fact to support this RW conspiracy theory (and to date, none can), than would reporters please stop hyping the same idiotic story.
Honestly, recent efforts like this one by ABC News are just plain embarrassing:
Massachusetts Senate Race: Will Democrats Delay Seating Scott Brown?
Believe me when I say that within the entire online article, there is not a single shred of evidence --not one quote from anybody, nadda, zilch, zip--to support the RW conspiracy about Dems not quickly seating Scott Brown if he wins in Mass. (The ABC article however, is loaded with lots of "if's".) The entire Dems-will-delay premise is nothing more than GOP propaganda; a beloved talking point (that's pure fantasy) and designed to cast Democrats as corrupt.
So why would ABC News devote time and resources hyping the nutty claim if ABC News itself can't find a single independent observer who thinks it's true? Why is ABC News not only taking the partisan pie-in-sky claim seriously, but also amplifying it and, to a degree, legitimizing it with awful articles like this one? Why is ABC News helping the GOP fire up its base on the eve of an election with purely speculative reports about baseless claims regarding potential Democratic malfeasance?
UPDATED: The fact that this hysterical claim about Dems not seating Brown is coming from the same GOP that refused, for more than half-a-year, to concede Al Franken's win in Minnesota is pretty rich. Not that anybody at ABC News notes the thick irony, of course.
The following on-screen text aired during a discussion about the effect a Scott Brown win could have on the stock market. From the January 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From Pruden's January 19 Washington Times column:
You have to be a true believer in Barack Obama's radical agenda to be a Democrat in Congress, and believe with the intensity of a suicide bomber. Mr. Obama can't even promise a harem of virgins in paradise.
With disapproval of their health care "reform" running almost to 60 percent in the public-opinion polls, the Democrats set themselves up for disaster in Massachusetts. Scott Brown is smart, good-looking and knows his (Boston baked) beans, but it was his spirited and unapologetic opposition to ObamaCare that got him to the brink of a career in the U.S. Senate. He was helped by the pathetic Martha Coakley, the most inept Massachusetts candidate since Michael Dukakis tanked in the presidential campaign of '88.
From the front page of The Fox Nation, accessed on January 18:
Fox Nation's link goes to an embedded video entitled "The Massachusetts Miracle," which claims that "our liberty is threatened by another tyrannical government [Obama and congressional Democrats]" and that a "vote for Scott Brown is a vote for liberty."
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza calls tomorrow's Massachusetts Senate election for Republican Scott Brown:
Cambridge, MA: I still think Coakley wins this race by 8+ points and the story is marginalized post-election. The voter ID for Dems is just too large and this national attention has woken up MA residents. ...
Chris Cillizza: Great minds!
I am not sure I agree on Coakley -- solely because the race has been so unpredictable to this point -- but I think that no matter what happens on Tuesday you have a clear winner and a clear loser already.
Winner: Scott Brown. His candidacy has shocked the political world so even if he comes up short he will be touted for any and all open office in the state. One potential option: Coakley's attorney general post.
No word yet on how a Brown loss would be good news for Rudy Giuliani.
Last week, Bob Franken led the charge in criticizing the sourcing rules Mark Halperin and John Heilemann devised for Game Change, calling their explanation of those rules "the most convoluted explanation I've heard in a long time" and adding: "There's one thing that you have to remember in Washington: You don't burn sources."
Now Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz joins in:
"Game Change" caused an immediate furor by quoting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as having said "privately" that Obama could win the presidency because he was "light-skinned" and had "no Negro dialect." Reid apologized for the clumsy remarks, which his office confirmed he made to Halperin and Heilemann. But even with their source admitting the conversation, the authors refuse to confirm that they interviewed Reid. It's not "in the public interest," Halperin argues, for them to "get on the slippery slope" of acknowledging interviews.
Deep background means that you can describe someone's thinking or reconstruct verbatim dialogue when you're writing about events involving that person. As an author who has used the technique, I don't believe it entitles you to directly quote what someone said to you, which effectively puts it on the record, and several other journalists have said they agree.
I have not, however, seen a single journalist offer an unqualified defense of the sourcing techniques Halperin and Heilemann used. If anyone has an example, please let me know in the comments.
UPDATE: A reader points out that in an article by Politico's Michael Calderone, several journalists -- including Bob Woodward and Jonathan Alter -- broadly defended the use of anonymous sources. None, however, defended Halperin/Heilemann's treatment of the Reid quote, or the specifics of the way Game Change relied upon unnamed sources.
Mark Halperin defends the sourcing practices he and John Heilemann used for their book Game Change:
To be sure, Time's Mark Halperin and New York Magazine's John Heilemann had the advantage of reconstructing the events after the fact, aided by operatives who were given a cloak of anonymity to dish and perhaps settle scores.
"One of the things people have said is that we've let the losers write the history, we've relied on people with axes to grind," Halperin says. "We were so careful, so cautious in our sourcing. You won't see a negative portrait, a negative description that relies simply on a person with an ax to grind."
That's what counts as being "so cautious in our sourcing" these days? Not relying on a single unnamed source with a vendetta? Quick, somebody give these guys an award!