The New Republic's cover story on the problems facing the Washington Post covers significant ground, including the paper's problems in adjusting to the digital age, assorted internal squabbling, as well as questionable ethical lapses (including the recent joint collaboration with a conservative billionaire without appropriate disclosure) but the piece never touches on an issue that surely has contributed to the paper's loss of public trust: its reporting on the Iraq war.
Some examples: In the summer and fall of 2002, the paper failed to record promptly the doubts of then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey. When Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, wrote a cautionary op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, it apparently didn't strike anyone at the Post as news. ...The testimony of three retired four-star generals warning against an attack before the Senate Armed Services Committee was not covered at all. Speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Robert Byrd that seem prescient today were not covered.
The list goes on. Large anti-war rallies in London and Rome went unreported the day after. In October, when more than 100,000 gathered in Washington to protest the war, the story went in the Metro section because the Post underestimated its size.
Here at Media Matters we've also documented the Post falling down on the job with regard to reporting on the war. Surely, it is a difficult time for newspapers all around, but that's no excuse for the Post's failure on this issue when so many lives have been at stake.
I'm just sayin'.
From Politico [emphasis added]:
President Barack Obama plans a combative response if, as White House aides fear, Democrats lose Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts, close advisers say.
President Obama plans to re-emphasize his interest in bipartisanship by addressing House Republicans this week, but whether that will produce an election-year truce is very much in question.
At a Brown rally Monday night, Think Progress caught Fox News' chief political correspondent Carl Cameron "relaxing after the speech with Brown campaign volunteers, hugging staffers, and autographing Brown for Senate campaign materials." Cameron's actions are indicative of Fox's political advocacy in the Massachusetts special election (and in previous elections). Indeed, Fox has hosted Brown several times, providing him a forum to raise funds; Dick Morris has explicitly asked viewers to donate to Brown; and Fox News has suggested that a Brown victory might even boost your 401(k).
So Think Progress took the opportunity to ask Cameron about Fox's political work on behalf of Brown:
TP: When Scott Brown goes on Fox News and he solicits volunteers and -
CAMERON: Dude, I'm on a deadline. I can't -
TP: Doesn't that raise ethical questions?
Sure, she sold a lot of books, thanks in part to the absurd amount of free media attention the Beltway press showered on her publishing debut last November. But in terms of burnishing her reputation, or elevating her stature nationally, Palin's media blitz, via her book launch, appears to have been a colossal failure.
From CBS [emphasis added]:
A new CBS News poll finds that a large majority of Americans say they do not want former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to run for president.
Specifically, 71 percent say they do not want the former Republican vice presidential nominee to run for president, while 21 percent say they do want her to run.
More? A majority of Republicans don't want Palin to run.
The poll also finds that more people view Palin negatively than positively and that her book tour did not improve overall views of her.
Now that we have (yet another) clear picture of Palin's low standing with the public, hopefully the political press corps will stop treating her online press releases (i.e. Facebook posting) as news. They're not. And most Americans don't seem to care about her.
During a January 18 interview with The New York Times, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that Fox News is "not a traditional news organization ... They have a point of view; that point of view pervades the entire network."
The network is "not a traditional news organization," director Dan Pfeiffer stressed, adding he agreed with former Director Anita Dunn's take on the network.
"They have a point of view; that point of view pervades the entire network," he told The New York Times in a sit-down interview.
"We don't feel the obligation to treat them like we would treat a CNN, or an ABC, or an NBC, or a traditional news organization, but there are times when we believe it makes sense to communicate with them," he added, noting the White House's decision to dispatch counter-terrorism chief John Brennan to Fox News Sunday after the Flight 253 attack was one example of that exception.
Still, Pfeiffer on Monday said Dunn's approach remains in place, noting the White House would "interact with [the network] when it makes sense." But the communications director also signaled the administration's approach to Fox was part of a larger strategy to "engage the discussion" between reporters, lawmakers and voters.
"We will correct the record, whether it's an analyst on Fox, whether its a member of Congress, whether its a reporter or expert...," Pfeiffer said.
Politico's Ben Smith seemed to go out of his way to create a false equivalency with his recent report on the Mass. special election:
Massachusetts gets ugly
Given the stakes and the growing possibility of a historic upset, the two campaigns closed with fervor. Coakley's backers accused Brown of indulging a crude, violent remark by a supporter, while Brown blasted Coakley with claims that she had misused the legacy of Martin Luther King on a day that brought the candidates into the same room for the last time for a sedate breakfast honoring the memory of the slain civil rights icon.
See, both sides were getting ugly, according to Smith. But was that really true? According to Smith's reporting, the claim that Democratic Martha Coakley's campaign had become "ugly," was the suggestion by her opponent that she inappropriately campaigned at an MLK event.
Is that "ugly"? Doesn't really seem that way to me. And yes, that's the only example Smith included to document how the Coakley campaign had become "ugly." So we'd say that's pretty thin stuff.
As for Republican Brown? Behold [emphasis added]:
[He's accused of] smiling and encouraging a supporter's entreaty to "shove a curling iron up [Coakley's] butt." A video shows Brown smiling, nodding, and saying, "We can do it," immediately after his supporter shouted the words at a West Springfield event.
Now that sounds kinda of ugly. (Brown's rep claimed the candidate didn't hear the vulgar remark.) But according to Smith's telling, both sides on Mass. campaign were getting ugly, even though Smith only provided evidence of the Republican doing so.
UPDATED: Politico conducted an "exclusive" poll on the Mass. race with InsiderAdvantage, which uncovered horrible news for Coakley. News that InsiderAdvantage chief Matt Towery seemed eager to tout in Politico:
"I actually think the bottom is falling out," said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery, referring to Coakley's fall in the polls over the last ten days. "I think that this candidate is in free fall. Clearly this race is imploding for her."
And who is Matt Towery? He's "a former aide to Newt Gingrich." An interesting choice in polling partner for Politico, to say the least.
In a January 19 blog post, Big Journalism's Bill Whittle wrote:
The press is supposed to be the immune system of the body politic. The press is supposed to be anywhere and everywhere, seeking out corruption the way a white blood cell targets pathogens. When the press no longer serves this function of protecting the political body against abuses of power - because it is too ideologically blinded to be able to either see or act upon these threats -- then our Republic has a virulent and highly lethal (historically, anyway) form of AIDS.
Talk radio, Fox News and the Internet - places like Big Journalism - are the immune-boosting cocktails that may keep the patient alive long enough for "the Press" to recover its true function and restore the body to health.
The New York Daily News apparently agreed to Harold Ford's insistence he not be asked about public policy during a recent interview:
The interview - granted under the condition that the questions be limited to his rationale for running, and not issues - comes at the end of a rocky first week of buzz surrounding his potential candidacy.
Now, I suppose I can see why someone thinking of running for Senate would want to avoid questions about issues (particularly after a question about gun control led him to assure New York Times readers that he does not shoot unarmed children) though it does seem odd that "his rationale for running" and "issues" are separate things. But I'm a little less clear on why the Daily News would agree to that condition.
It isn't that I think journalists should never agree to limit the scope of an interview. But in this case, there doesn't seem to be any public interest (or, for that matter, interest from the public) in Harold Ford's non-policy comments. Why would (or should) Daily News readers care about Ford's "rationale for running" if it doesn't have anything to do with issues?
What public interest is served by running an "interview" in which Ford attacks his potential primary opponent without facing any questions about his own positions? What public interest is served by running an "interview" in which Ford declares "This race isn't about feet, it's about issues" -- but refuses to discuss issues? What possible public interest is served by an interview in which Ford is asked what's on his iPod -- he declares his fondness for Stevie Wonder and Al Green and "Alicia's and Jay-Z's new song," a reference to Empire State of Mind, a four-month-old celebration of New York -- but not about his policy disagreements with the person he's thinking of running against?
There is no real merit in any of that. Worse, in granting the condition that Ford not be asked about issues, the Daily News encourages other politicians to seek such favorable ground rules in the future.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz seems to agree:
New York, N.Y.: The Daily News interviewed Harold Ford about his possible New York Senate run. As a condition for the interview, Ford demanded (and apparently the News agreed) that he would not be asked about issues. Why would any self-respecting journalist agree to this condition?
Howard Kurtz: Short answer: I wouldn't. And the demand doesn't reflect particularly well on the former congressman.
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."