• Worst headline of the day

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Goes to Politico: "Cash-poor Obama says no to Reid."

    Article is about a little intramural jockeying for cash that's going on within the Democratic Party. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Read reportedly asked the Obama campaign to share some of its $77 million to help Democrats win more senate seats. According to Politico, the Obama camp declined.

    The problem is with the "cash-poor" part of the headline. Obama just raised $66 million last month, shattering the previous monthly fundraising record. His campaign now has $77 million to spend, while it continues to raise tens of millions more each month. How is Obama cash poor? That makes no sense. It's inaccurate and paints a false, unflattering picture of the Obama campaign.

    The term cash poor suggests the Obama campaign doesn't have enough readily available money on hand to run its campaign. Actually, it has $77 million on hand.

    A better headline would have been maybe, "Frugal Obama says no to Reid." But Politico can point to no evidence to suggest the Obama campaign is cash poor.

  • Dear Politico, please stop

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We always thought it was goofy when media insiders (i.e. Mark Halperin) announced which candidate won a given week of the campaign cycle, as if campaigns a) are sporting events, b) have clear winners and losers within a pre-determined time schedule, and c) need to be handicapped that way.

    By recently Politico, the Beltway daily, has been crowning the the winner of each campaign day. What's creepiest of all is that voters are virtually invisible to the calculations the Politico editors make as they pretend to decipher, in real time, the unfolding events and exactly how they're playing out across the country.

    Guys (and gals), why can't you just let the campaignunfold without constantly inserting yourself into the story by telling us what to think. In other words, please just get out of the way.

  • Froomkin on checking facts

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Nieman Watchdog's Dan Froomkin on the failings of the media's factchecking:

    Then there's the fact that most fact-checkers feel obliged to provide balance, citing both side for misstatements even if they aren't vaguely in the same league – and even if some didn't actually come from the campaign. This creates a bizarre incentive system: If you're going to lie, you may as well make it a real whopper. Similarly, after it's been said once, there's no incentive not to keep saying it. Chances are, you'll only get zinged for it at most once per news outlet – even if you repeat it over and over again, long after it's been firmly "rebutted." In fact, it may well sneak back into the coverage, the rebuttal entirely forgotten.

    So what's our alternative? Well, one alternative would be to fight back – for the press to create some sort of hugely negative consequence for making stuff up. For instance, to make it the lede of the main story every time a candidate repeats an obviously untrue statement, rather than a one-time-only sidebar deep inside the paper or newscast. But my ever-triangulating colleagues in the media are loathe to do something that makes it look like we're taking sides, even if that side is accuracy.

    Froomkin has ideas about how his colleagues should proceed; take a look.

  • The NYT toasts Katie Couric today because why?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    No reason apparently. Couric's ratings are still in the basement, she hasn't landed any big interviews and she was shut out of the fall debate schedule. But according to the Times, Couric "has been in the middle of things for the last few weeks." That's the news hook.

    Makes us wish the press would stop treating anchors like celebrities and report on actual media news instead.