The Hannity Video Fiasco raises an awful lot of interesting questions, none of which Hannity answered last night when he confirmed his program had "screwed up" when it inserted video clip of the much larger Sept. 12, D.C. Tea Party rally crowd, for a story on the much smaller anti-health care rally last week in D.C. (See Jon Stewart's take-down below.)
The journalism questions in play remain obvious: Who did pulled the misleading video clips from the archives, who inserted them in the wrong story, and which producers OKed it? What Hannity and nobody else at Fox News will discuss is, how did this happen? And what steps will Fox News take to make sure it never happens again?
That's what news organizations usually do when embarrassing episodes like this crop up. But since Fox News doesn't really function as a news outlet any more, I sort of doubt that kind of introspection will take place.
But still, it seems telling that there exists a culture inside Fox News where staffers think it's OK to insert wildly misleading videotape into a primetime program. Just like it seemed telling that during the actual Tea Party coverage back on Sept. 12, one producer thought it was OK to cheer on the crowd prior to a news report; to treat the partisan Tea Party crowd as if it were an in-studio Fox News one.
My point is that these two embarrassing episodes seem to highlight what Media Matters has been stressing all year, which is that Fox News no longer even pretends to follow the traditional guidelines of journalism. And there seems to be a culture within Fox News where everyday staffers have decided there are no rules left. That they don't actually work for a "news" organization.
From Krugman's November 11 New York Times blog post:
Clearly, the Fox Business crew is having a very hard time. They bill themselves as being truly pro-business - not like those leftists at CNBC. But they aren't really pro-business; they're pro-Republican. They'd like you to believe that it's the same thing; but there's this awkward fact that markets have, you know, gone up under Obama.
And this isn't just a phenomenon of the last few months. Look back at stock returns under recent presidents, which is easy using a clever gadget at Political Calculations. Taking real, dividend-inclusive annual returns on the S&P 500, I get:
Bush I: 10.16%
Bush II: minus 5.81%
Tax-hiking Democrats are supposed to be terrible for business; I mean, Norman Podhoretz whines that Jews should be conservatives because Republican policies are better for the economy. But the data just refuse to say that - and that's even if we restrict ourselves to the stock market, never mind job creation, wages, poverty and all that.
So the whole idea of Fox Business is problematic. It's Fox, which means that it's basically an arm of the GOP; but that's a terrible match for business coverage, because the economy just refuses to punish liberals and reward conservatives the way it's supposed to.
I gather that Fox Biz has managed to push up its morning ratings by hiring that great financial guru Don Imus. But that sort of proves the point; Fox Business can get viewers, but only by turning itself into ... Fox News.
Politico seems at times designed to simply give Republicans a platform to spread their message unfettered. Because inside the Politico newsroom, if Republicans are saying it, it's news!
Latest example is the stenography job by Andy Barr done on Texas Gov.'s hateful attack on Barack Obama. (He's a socialist!) At Politico that kind of name calling is news. But that doesn't mean anyone at the White House is contacted for a comment. In fact, the 'article' only quotes Perry, which, where I come from, is usually referred to as a press release.
Speaking at a luncheon for a Midland County Republican Women's group, [Rick] Perry said that "this is an administration hell-bent toward taking American towards a socialist country. And we all don't need to be afraid to say that because that's what it is."
Perry also accused the Obama administration of intentionally dumping illegal immigrants from other western states in Texas, recalling a conversation he had with local officials notifying him that illegal aliens that were caught in Nogales, Arizona were being dropped off by federal authorities in Presidio, Texas.
See, it's newsworthy when a high-profile Republican says the president is turning America into a socialist country. But it's not so newsworthy that anyone at Politico needs to pick up the phone to call the White House for comment, or any Democrat for that matter.
And isn't it interesting that Perry made his "newsworthy" comments to the Midland County Republican Women's club. Does anyone think Politico had a reporter in Midland? Of course, not. So how did Politico find out about Perry's "newsworthy" comments? My guess is that a Perry flak emailed them over to the newsroom.
If so, talk about making a reporter's job easy! A pol sends you his "newsworthy" comments, you type them up and don't make a single call for balance or context.
Like we said, Politico is a GOP bulletin board.
UPDATED: Surprise! Drudge now hyping Politico's non-story. (In red letters and everything!) So I guess there are career benefits to being a GOP stenographer.
From Siegel's November 12 New York Post column, "The AMA's 'reform' sellout":
The American Medical Association leadership is spineless when it comes to the health reforms now before Congress. The organization has focused almost entirely on a single issue -- the repeal of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which penalizes doctors a percentage every year if the total amount we're reimbursed exceeds government projections. The formula calls for a 21 percent across-the-board cut in our Medicare payments this year.
Yet the simple fact is that the AMA no longer speaks for the profession (if it ever did). Only about 20 percent of physicians belong, and many stay in only for the free subscription to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which publishes important studies.
I officially quit the AMA over the summer, and I haven't regretted it. I am now asking my fellow doctors to quit in protest, too.
At a time when we doctors are facing ever more cuts in reimbursements, shrinking direct payments from patients, more restrictions in the tests and treatments we can prescribe, the last thing we need is a bureaucratic group of lobbyists falsely saying they represent us.
The New York Times' Media Decoder blog reports:
Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN anchor whose anti-immigration views made him a TV lightning rod, plans to announce Wednesday that he is leaving the network, two network employees said.
A CNN executive confirmed that Mr. Dobbs will announce his plans on his 7 p.m. program.
Mr. Dobbs informed his staff members of his intentions in a meeting Wednesday afternoon. He did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
Dobbs makes it official: Under pressure, Dobbs announces his resignation from CNN
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his November 11 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
The right-wing blog Gateway Pundit says Christians are the target of more hate crimes in the U.S. than Muslims:
In the real world... Hate crimes against Muslims have steadily declined since 2001. Today there are more reported hate crimes against Christians in the United States than Muslims.
That's a reference to the fact that there were 115 reported hate crime incidents against Muslims in 2007, according to the FBI, and 118 against Christians.
Now, this would be a good time to keep in mind that 78 percent of American adults are Christian, and 0.6 percent are Muslim. In other words, there are about 130 times as many Christians in the US as there are Muslims. And yet there were essentially the same number of reported hate crimes against Muslims as against Christians in 2007.
That sure paints a different picture than Gateway Pundit's statement that "there are more reported hate crimes against Christians in the United States than Muslims," doesn't it?
In an effort to downplay hate crimes against Muslims, Gateway Pundit has accidentally provided a reminder of just how disproportionately Muslims are the victims of such crimes. Heckuva job, GP.
I don't mean that in the sense the question is typically asked -- "Why would CNN inflict such a loud-mouthed xenophobe on it's audience?" I mean, why does CNN employ a host whose journalism is so inconsistent with its stated business model?
Whenever there's a news report about CNN's sagging ratings, a CNN executive steps forward to say that their brand is serious, nonpartisan news, and if they turned to opinionated hosts who might boost their ratings, they'd damage that brand. Here's an AP article out today, for example:
The network could cast aside Cooper, Larry King and Campbell Brown for opinionated analysis and probably see its ratings go up, said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.
The benefit for one arm of the company isn't worth the potential damage to others, he said.
CNN has built its business - encompassing international networks and wholesale news reports, mobile device services, a Web site, a wire service to print publications and radio - around the notion that it is delivering nonpartisan, straight news reporting, he said. The company has shown double-digit growth for the past few years and is on pace to continue. It invests by hiring more personnel, and this month opening a new production facility in Abu Dhabi.
"People hear what's being said and it's branded CNN and (they say), 'OK, that's news. That's nonpartisan, that's factual, it's timely," Walton said. "That's what we want to deliver around the world. We compete against a lot more than Fox and MSNBC."
So ... How does Lou Dobbs fit into that business model? Quite plainly, he doesn't. So why does CNN damage its brand by giving him an hour every night?
UPDATE: Right on cue ... Under pressure, Dobbs announces his resignation from CNN
I included this as part of an earlier blog post update, but I think it deserves a wider look. It's just the latest example of what an awful job Rasmussen does polling the public. And yes, I'm returning to my earlier pledge to not use Rasmussen poll results in the future.
2* Should the [Ft. Hood] shooting incident be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act or by civilian authorities as a criminal act?
60% Military authorities as a terrorist act
27% Civilian authorities as a criminal act
13% Not sure
What a mess.
Why is it an either/or question? Why are respondents asked to pick between a "military" terrorist investigation and "civilian" criminal investigation? It makes no sense. First of all, a terrorist investigation, by definition, is a criminal one. Second, it's the FBI (i.e. a "civilian" authority) that has been investigating "terrorists acts" in this country for generations. Civilian authorities launch terrorist investigations all the time, so why does Rasmussen pretend that only "military authorities" do that? Why does Rasmussen suggest that if civilians investigate Ft. Hood, then it won't be a terrorist investigation?
Why did Rasmussen formulate a question that makes no sense?
Interesting to watch, to say the least. It's sort of like watching right-wing pundits lecture police chiefs about guns when they're not sufficiently radical in their pro-guns views. But watching the same commentators now target the U.S. military is really a bit much.
In the wake of the Ft. Hood handgun massacre, more and more conservative commentators, adopting an at-times openly hostile tone towards the military, are explaining exactly what went wrong on the Army base. Mostly, conservatives are calling out the U.S. military as a bastion of liberalism where political correctness runs amok, which I'm guessing comes as a surprise to those who actually serve in the military, especially Muslim American soldiers.
Now the latest emerging talking point is that U.S. Army bases need more guns and that, according to today's WashTimes editorial, basically everyone at Ft. Hood should be walking around with a loaded pistol, if they want.
The argument is to be expected, since following the gun massacre at Virginia Tech, conservatives immediately began lobbying in hopes of passing a law which would allow college students to carry loaded weapons and turn campuses into gun meccas. And now the rhetorical push is on to do the same at military bases, as conservative commentators lecture the military about how to deal with guns.
As General (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey noted on MSNBC, immediately following the Ft. Hood shooting, "There is ferocious gun control measures on soldiers and families on a military installation." Who do you think has a better handle on how to deal with firearms in the real world, military commanders or editorial writers for the Washington Times?
UPDATED: And just so you know, according to the WashTimes, the Ft. Hood shooting was all Bill Clinton's fault. That's how the Times couches its rhetoric, which allows the editorial to directly attack Clinton (instead of the Pentagon) for allegedly instituting gun control measure on military bases. But the larger premise is unmistakable: the WashTimes know better how guns should be handled on bases than do military commanders.
UPDATED: And no, of course the WashTimes doesn't spend one sentencing contemplating where and how the Ft. Hood shooter was able to purchase his guns and bags full of ammunition.