We flagged this yesterday at CF. But let's take a closer look at Wallace's radio comments about Fox opting out of covering Obama's primetime presser this week [emphasis added]:
Listen, I happen to think - and I wouldn't always say this - I think Rupert Murdoch and the Fox broadcast people were right - there was no news in this news conference. It was simply a commemoration of a day. If he wants to go on cable, but there was no reason for a prime time news conference.
A couple things. First, busy sucking up to his News Corps bosses, Wallace thinks Murdoch and his minions were right on the money to skip the press conference because the entertainment program Fox aired Wednesday night landed better ratings. Murdoch's a TV genius!
Except that I'm pretty sure everyone in the network TV business understood that if they bypassed the press conference and stuck with regularly scheduled program, they all would have beat the White House ratings. But the other nets didn't air the presser to land good ratings. (Duh.) They did it to fulfill their public interest obligation. Something Murdoch was quite comfortable walking away from.
Second, Wallace claims there was no news at the press conference; that it was just a "commemoration" of Obama's first 100 days. Therefore, Fox was correct to stay away. This is almost too dumb for words.
A) The idea that regularly scheduled, primetime WH press conferences are supposed to make news--that TV nets should only cover them if some news bombs gets dropped--is patently absurd. Periodic WH pressers have rarely been about breaking news. They've been about updating the American people on current events and giving journalists a chance to directly ask the POTUS questions. Period. Of course there have been exceptions; times when press conferences were scheduled specifically to respond to a crisis. But in general, and for decades, that simply has not been how they were treated, either by the White House or the press.
But for Obama, Wallace formulates a completely news standard: the president must guarantee in advance that news will be made before the nets agree to carry the presser live.
B) The idea that the event was simply a "commemoration" is a flat out lie. Wallace is (supposedly) in the news business, right? Was he really unaware that the night of the WH presser the country, thanks in large part to media outlets like Fox News, had been whipped into a national frenzy about the looming threat of a swine flu pandemic? Meaning, there was a potential health crisis story breaking the very day Obama took questions from the press. And of course, the very first question he got asked was about the swine flu, which gave Obama his first chance to address the nation in primetime about the frightening story.
But according to Wallace, the press conference was a news-free zone. That all it was a beauty pageant to commemorate Obama's 100 days.
Like we said, Wallace was playing dumb. Big time.
Because it's all about them.
FYI, process. We need more process stories! And we need to know what the press thinks about the process stories. (And which journalists are pregnant, of course.) Please feed us more of that crucial Beltway information. Americans deserve to know. Indeed, they demand it.
BTW, did we mention that we get the distinct impression that more and more D.C. journalists think they're in the entertainment biz?
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed talking to a fellow seafarer.
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed a taste of the seaman.
Because they're lazy and don't back up their claims.
Please read former Bush adviser, and Duke prof, Peter Feaver for the latest proof. He writes that the press has been too easy and Obama (i.e. "worship") and was way too tough on Bush. (No, seriously.) Weaver certainly has every right to push that spin. But if you're going to critique the press it's usually a good idea to, y'know, provide some examples/proof to substantiate your work.
But Feaver, like so many who whine about 'biased' press coverage, can't be bothered with specifics to substantiate his claim. (i.e. actual media citations) Zero. Nada. Zilch. Readers are just supposed to trust him.
Instead, Feaver makes lots of sweeping generalizations:
Clearly the mainstream media has not yet figured out how to cover Obama. I don't expect them to subject the Obama team to the same kind of tendentious and mocking ridicule that was the norm for so much of the Bush coverage, but nor do I expect the current prevailing double-standard to persist throughout his entire tenure. The media needs to figure out how to live up to their much-heralded (by them) watchdog role, because the media serves an essential function in maintaining a functional marketplace of ideas. When the media shirks its traditional role as skeptical truth-squadder the way it has shirked during Obama's first 100 days, public debate and public understanding of the critical issues of the day suffers.
Are you laughing out loud that a a former Bush aide is complaining about the press walking away from its watchdog role? Here's five (six?) words for Feaver: run-up to the Iraq war.
Because they're wildly dishonest.
Goldfarb [emphasis added]:
ABC runs a report showing the names and faces of two CIA contractors who may have had a role in the waterboarding of KSM and Abu Zubaydah. The network apparently outsourced this report to a freelancer named Matthew Cole.
Goldfarb builds his attack around the fact that ABC News "apparently" turned to journalist Matthew Cole. (Goldfarb says that's a no-no because Cole's "left-wing.") But I'm puzzled. How does a news organization "apparently" outsource reporting duties? Typically the best way to determine who reported a story is to, y'know, look at the byline. I guess that's how Goldfarb cracked the code of Cole's 'apparent' role in the story; because his name appears in the byline. Boy, nothing gets past Goldfarb.
Having confirmed Cole's 'apparent' involvement, Goldfarb announces that ABC News never should've allowed a former Salon freelancer to report out a controversial CIA interrogation scoop. But back to those mysterious bylines. Here's what the byline above ABC's interrogation report says:
By BRIAN ROSS, MATTHEW COLE, and JOSEPH RHEE
Goldfarb wants his Weekly Standard readers to think that the ABC scoop was the work of some fly-by-night freelancer, when in fact Brian Ross, one of ABC's most senior and veteran reporters, is the lead name on the byline.
How lousy are conservative media critics? So lousy, critics like me have to clean up after their mess.
UPDATE: Tbogg at FDL finds even more to mock in Goldfarb's weak effort.
UPDATE: As Greg Sargent notes, if the ABC investigation did have a flaw, it was the way it quickly glossed over earlier ABC reporting on interrogation practices; reporting that has recently been discredited.
Reporting on Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips' appearance at an April 30 hearing presided over by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) , The Washington Times' Joseph Curl wrote:
But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades - Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed a taste of the seaman.
Update: The Washington Times has changed the text so it now reads: "But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed talking to a fellow seafarer."
That's the only reason I can figure out how this on-going, and completely unprecedented, media narrative that Obama's press conferences aren't entertaining enough continues to gain momentum. Based on the Nexis searches I've done, the WH press corps has never, ever used that as a way to critique pressers. The absurd yard stick has been invented out of whole cloth for Obama.
Among other things, we're dealing with a level 5 pandemic alert regarding the swine flu outbreak (Obama sounded, the LAT childishly pointed out, "more like school nurse in chief than commander in chief"), closely following a major counter-attack by Pakistani military this week against the Taliban, and continuing to discuss the ramifications of the recent release of Bush-era secret memos establishing the legal justification for interrogation techniques like waterboarding.
Obama, sandwiched between a nominal celebration of his accomplishments and a public wondering whether it should start wearing masks on the subway, chose simple over stirring. It seems unreasonable to so vigorously call that boring. The accompanying no-new-news accusations—which seems to stem from the same what, no thrills? impulse—just come across as peevish; as we've discussed here before, pressers may be about gaffes, gotchas, and maybe even about encouraging civic participation, but they've never been about breaking news.
But why? Why would so many in the press advertise their lack of seriousness by glomming onto such an overtly shallow talking point? I think it's because journalists, and especially the Village elites, see themselves as being in the entertainment business, and not the news business; not the public service business. And so their knee-jerk response is to announce whether official White House functions were fun and entertaining to them, and to pretty much ignore the traditional ways the press has covered and analyzed those events in the past.
WARNING: NSFW or home or reasoned political discourse for that matter.
Can't wait to see what Red State will have to say during the confirmation hearings. Sigh.