Steven Pearlstein piles on the disdain regarding the unfolding financial crisis:
Other than not really understanding the problem and not really having studied the proposal, you guys are doing just great! Thank God there is a mainstream media out there that actually does reporting and has people who understand thing, because if the flow of information and news to the American people were left solely to bloggers, we'd be in a big mess.
Yes, thank God the mainstream media cast such a skeptical eye on Wall Street over the years. We can't thank Pearlstein's pals enough.
During the 2000 campaign, New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye promoted the image of Al Gore as a liar and exaggerator -- and she did so by making up things that he never said, then explaining that they weren't true.
This morning, Seeyle posted a preview of tonight's VP debate on the Times blog The Caucus. In it, she outlined what she'll be "watching for," both generally and for each candidate. Given her previous obsession with falsehoods and exaggerations, and given Sarah Palin's well-documented penchant for both, you might assume Seeyle would mention the danger for Palin in saying something that isn't true, or in exaggerating her record.
Wrong. Seeyle didn't devote so much as a single word to the possibility that Palin might say something incorrect or unduly self-aggrandizing. Apparently, that isn't as important to Seelye as the crucial question of whether Biden will "help Ms. Palin with her chair."
Never content to let political events unfold on their own, the press seems obsessed with reminding us, ad nauseam, just how important the Next Big Thing is.
After last week proclaiming 100 million people were going to watch the first presidential debate (a Chuck Todd prediction that was only off by 46 million), the press goes right back to the hype game for Thursday's VP forum:
"Probably the most-anticipated vice presidential faceoff ever." (AP)
"Probably the most anticipated vice presidential debate ever." (Chicago Tribune)
"The most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"The most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (Newsweek)
"What may be the most anticipated vice presidential debate in history." (Politico)
How should tonight's showdown be described? Seems washingtonpost.com got it right when it dropped the breathless hype in favor of actual journalism: "Tonight's heavily anticipated debate."
See, that's not so difficult.
And if not, why is he treated him like one this week?
That's the excellent question posed at CJR. It comes in the wake of Sarah Palin's appearance on the conservative talk show host's syndicated program where she dutifully fielded a series of GOP softball questions.
Lots of journalists cited the Palin interview and even posted extensive transcripts online. But as CJR noted:
There is zero journalistic value in Hewitt's interview. There isn't even the illusion of critical distance, of healthy skepticism, of intellectually honest inquiry, of some sense that it is crucial to deeply sound out this person who wants to lead our nation at such a perilous time on what she would bring to the table.
Yet very few reporters pointed that out. Instead, they seemed to treat the Palin Q&A as a newsworthy event. Here's why that's trouble:
If you're going to call attention to Hewitt's work, why not go the extra step and label it what is? Otherwise, you risk giving Hewitt's hackery the imprimatur of real journalism.
We've noted before how the campaign press seems reluctant to ask pointed questions about Palin's religious beliefs. Specifically, if she believes that Christ will come again in her lifetime as part of the End Times theology her former church preached, and how that End Times belief might guide her decision-making as vice president.
The Real News Network just posted an informative video about Palin's fundamentalist faith and asks why the press isn't posing direct questions about it.
Still convinced Pennsylvania is a swing state (despite recent polling), a FNC reporter visited a local lunch hangout around the corner from Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, and asked for a show of hands for McCain and Obama supporters.
Click on Gawker for the must-see clip of how the Fox reporter announced the results.
P.S. Did the Pa. locals actually laugh at the FNC correspondent after he reported the tally?
Of course we don't like the idea of any campaign "banning" a journalist because the candidate doesn't like what was written or said about them. That's petty and wrong and disrespectful toward journalism.
And that's exactly what the McCain campaign was guilty of when it recently banned NYTimes columnist Maureen Dowd from the candidate's traveling press plane.
But it was Dowd's comment after the banishment that gave us pause: "It was disappointing because I didn't think John McCain would ever be as dismissive of the First Amendment as Dick Cheney."
We're torn because we can't think of a single elite columnist who we'd rather not have invoking the solemn rights of the Constitution in a press fight, simply because we don't think Dowd is a serious journalist. So we're not comfortable with her representing any sort of professional journalism community.
In fact, we're in heated agreement with Firedoglake commenter "JoeBuck":
McCain and his people are jerks, of course, but Dowd reveals what a total waste of column inches she is by her remark. Bumping her from the campaign plane because the campaign doesn't like something she wrote is juvenile and mean-spirited, but the First Amendment doesn't guarantee MoDo a plane ride. She has a prize position on the NY Times Op-ed page, and she basically puts out a high school gossip column, full of petty name-calling.
The right wing is in a frenzy about the fact that Gwen Ifill is working on a book about "emerging young African American politicians," which supposedly means she cannot be neutral during the VP debate she is moderating tomorrow night. Since the right wing is in a frenzy, we can be pretty sure the establishment media is about to join in.
Two things to keep in mind:
1) The October 7 presidential debate will be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw, who currently serves as NBC's liaison to the McCain campaign -- while spreading pro-McCain misinformation on Meet the Press. In fact, the McCain campaign hand-picked Tom Brokaw to moderate the October 7 debate:
Mr. Brokaw said he had been told by a senior McCain aide, whom he did not name, that the campaign had been reluctant to accept an NBC representative as one of the moderators of the three presidential debates -- until his name was invoked.
"One of the things I was told by this person was that they were so irritated, they said, 'If it's an NBC moderator, for any of these debates, we won't go,' " Mr. Brokaw said. "My name came up, and they said, 'Oh, hell, we have to do it, because it's going to be Brokaw.' "
2) CBS' Bob Schieffer moderated one of the 2004 debates, despite the fact that he is a longtime friend of George W. Bush who had previously acknowledged that his personal relationship with Bush made it difficult to cover him. Schieffer's brother was a business partner of Bush's before Bush became president -- and Bush made him an ambassador.
UPDATE: At the Huffington Post, Judd Legum notes that the Associated Press reported that Ifill was writing the book weeks before the McCain campaign agreed to her moderating the debate.
For the people he interviews? MediaBistro's Fishbowl D.C. notes that recently broadcasting from the campus of Ole Miss, Matthews interviewed a number of student members of the group Concerned Youth of America. One of them was Matthews' own daughter, although Matthews didn't inform viewers.
Sadly, as Cernig at Crooks and Liars notes:
It's such a small-beer breach of what passes for journalistic ethics nowadays as to go almost un-noticed, although in the halcyon days of journalism it would probably have gotten him fired or at least earned the censure of his peers.