MSNBC continues to run graphics claiming that polls close in Florida at 8 pm EST. In fact, in the vast majority of the state, polls close at 7 pm EST. There are similar problems with MSNBC's closing times for various other states.
Sure, every once in a while an MSNBC reporter reminds viewers that the times listed at the bottom of the screen may not be accurate in all parts of the state, and viewers should check with local officials for their closing times. That's great for the viewers who happen to be listening the one time an hour or so that MSNBC decides to tell the truth.
But anyone who doesn't happen to hear that and relies on the graphics that have been scrolling across the screen non-stop is in danger of showing up to vote after polls have closed.
So here's the question: At what point does the fact that MSNBC is knowingly misinforming voters about their voting hours cross the line from "irresponsible" to "illegal vote supression"?
John Harwood, for the second time in eight days, is just amazed that a black man might be president. Or more specifically this week, he's amazed that lots of whites are going to vote for Obama:
Remarkably, Mr. Obama, the first black major party presidential nominee, trails among whites by less than Democratic nominees normally do.
Seems to us the press has spent an inordinate amount of time covering the issue of race in this campaign, even though the candidates themselves rarely discuss it. (Surrogates, especially on the right, are another story, of course.) And when covering the campaign and race, the press has habitually couched the issues with a sense of total astonishment; that it was "remarkable," as Harwood put it, that Barack Obama would win huge support from white voters.
That, despite the fact that polls have shown for at least a year that Obama stood a very good chance of winning the general election. Why still the sense of wonder on Election Day?
Or, how the Obama and McCain campaigns dealt with the Internet. CJR has the interesting analysis:
Barack Obama's campaign reaches out to activist bloggers in order to communicate with and mobilize campaign volunteers and feed them into its online social networking site, MyBarackObama.com. In contrast, John McCain's campaign takes a top-down approach, using blogs-many of which it helped incubate-as an echo chamber for channeling mostly anti-Obama attacks into the mainstream media, in order to create an impression of grassroots online support.
So goes the latest theory being embraced by conservatives as they toss darts at a board trying to come up with their official liberal media theory to explain John McCain's possible loss.
Former Bob Dole flack Douglas MacKinnon hypes the minority journalist theory in a recent liberal-media-bias essay posted online at the New York Times:
The pressure within the news business to diversify and be politically correct means more minorities, women and young people are being hired. And young and ethnically diverse reporters and editors go easier on candidates who look more like them, are closer to their age or represent their ideal of a presidential candidate.
Ugh (as my palm hits my forehead). First, who exactly is doing all this news business hiring? In case MacKinnon hasn't heard, news orgs are desperately shedding thousands of jobs each month, which means there is no new flood of young, minority hires being made anywhere in the industry.
Second, the idea that minority journalists, and specifically African-Americans, boast a significant presence in newsrooms across the country and now dictate political coverage is absurd.
Third, even more comical is that notion that African-Americans dominate senior, decision-making positions within the press, and that's why it allegedly swooned for Obama.
MSNBC is currently running a graphic along the bottom of the screen listing states in which polls close at a given time.
MSNBC's focus seems to be on when voting in a given state is finished so that they can "call" the winner.
The unfortunate result is that MSNBC is telling viewers that polls close in Florida at 8 pm EST. But for the majority of the state, that isn't true -- in most of the state, polls close at 7 pm EST. So Florida voters who rely on MSNBC could show up to vote after polls have already closed.
There are likely similar problems with MSNBC's listing of closing times for other states, too.
MSNBC should really fix this. And voters should check their local poll closing times with more reliable sources.
UPDATE: Chuck Todd explains MSNBC's graphics: "We encourage you, if you're confused about when your polls close, to go and check with your local officials ... we want to tell our viewers when we'll start seeing vote counts, and that's why we have those final times up on our screen. So if you need to know when your polls close, check with your local officials."
Of course, if you want to know when your polls close, you should check with local officials. But in an ideal world -- a world in which MSNBC recognized that it's a really bad thing to mislead voters about when they can vote -- you could count on news organizations like MSNBC to tell you the truth about such things.
Go read Matt Yglesias.
So says Slate press critic Jack Shafer.
There's a slight problem with his piece, and that's his claim that the Beltway press corps is just naturally inclined to be tough on new presidents. That when the campaign winner arrives in Washington, D.C., the established press is, traditionally, just itching to shift into its hyper-skeptical mode.
Writes Shafer [emphasis added]:
The press corps works to hold the president accountable for what he does and extra hard to hold him accountable for what he does not do, a territory so vast and encompassing that foraging journalists assigned to the beat can never hunger for a story. Everything and nothing become fixings.
Because the press worked so hard to hold then-new president George Bush accountable in the winter of spring of 2001, right? Only somebody who thinks the press did a stellar job during the last eight years and who refuses to acknowledge the press completely rolled over for Bush, especially in his first term, would cling to the naive notion that the Beltway press treats all incoming presidents with deep skepticism.
"It appears Matt Drudge, along with the Republican Party is in complete meltdown," writes Crooks and Liars.
Great essay by Philadelphia Daily News blogger Will Bunch. Go read the whole thing:
It was living proof of my personal belief that the greatest role for journalists is not to make sure that every story has 50 percent of one side and 50 percent of the other side - but that the vital function for reporters is to preserve democracy and the freedom of the press, because without those freedoms a valid media would cease to exist. Yes, they're voicing outrage today inside the sacred sanctuary of the Temple of Objective Journalism , where the celebrants nervously fingered their rosaries rather than confront the Constitutional bonfire that was building outside.
But for eight years now, there's been an out-of-control fire raging outside of that temple - a fire that was built upon the USA Patriot Act and Guantanamo and rendition and torture and signing statements and 16 words in a State of the Union Address. Ultimately, saving the last fabric of democracy is more important than worrying about what contrived commandments of journalism were stepped on while the blaze was finally extinguished.
I myself would call it truth-telling, and honest journalism, but now we have some who want to call it "media bias." That's fine with me, but understand this.
"Media bias" may have just saved America.