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."
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.