As CF notes below, the WashTimes belatedly removed a photo of the Obama children from a news article about murdered schoolchildren in Chicago. Why anybody at the right-wing newspaper thought it was a good idea to include the Obama kids, who played no role whatsoever in the news report, remains a mystery.
Now it's time for somebody at the WashTimes (paging John Solomon) to come forward and explain how such an egregious thing was done in the first place. To explain the thought process and the editorial judgment that was used to connect the dots between the Obama kids and murdered Chicago children. Who made that decision, how many editors in the course of putting the newspaper to bed saw the article and the photo and okayed it? Did anybody within the newsroom ever suggest the photo inclusion was a monumentally dumb idea?
I realize the Times probably doesn't want to face up to this issue publicly, but when newspapers fail this spectacularly there needs to be some accountability. And although it wasn't pleasant, the WashTimes did recently step forward and at least try to explain why it published a fictional editorial that derided Obama as being an historically unpopular president. (Hint: Pretty much the opposite is true.)
It's that time again at the WashTimes. It's time for a sign--any sign--that the newspaper still operates under some sort sort of adult supervision.
When editor John Solomon took over at the notoriously slanted newspaper, he announced that the daily was going to practice journalism that was "fair and balanced and accurate and precise." He stressed, "There needs to be a bright line between the journalism on the news pages and the commentary that appears on the editorial and opinion pages."
Stunts like yesterday's Obama children fiasco make a mockery out of that pledge.
Just an additional thought about what CF highlighted earlier today, and how the WashTimes used photos of the Obama schoolchildren for a news article about schoolchildren being murdered in Chicago:
And the additional thought is this, does anybody edit that newspaper or is it just a hodgepodge of whatever scraps of content employees can slap together? I'm serious. The egregious crimes against journalism that now regularly seep out that newsroom are just mind-boggling.
Think about the specifics of today's case. The Obama children, of course, are not actually mentioned in the news story. But somebody at the WashTimes thought it made perfect sense to insert the image of the underage White House occupants into a story about murdered kids in Chicago.
And no, this was not an example of an unfortunate juxtaposition, where the the Obama girls photo was actually part of another, more innocuous story and because of a layout quirk simply appeared near the murdered-kids story. Instead, the Obama girls photo was specifically selected to accompany the article.
Ordinarily I'd say that's just God-awful judgment on the part of the Times editors. But increasingly, I get the feeling that there isn't anybody at the Times actually making editorial decisions.
Salon's conservative columnist turns her ire on talk radio this month:
Talk radio has been seething with such intensity since Barack Obama's first week in office that I am finding it very hard to listen to it. How many times do we have to be told the sky is falling? The major talk show hosts, in my opinion, made a strategic error in failing to reset at lower volume after Obama's election. When the default mode is feverish crisis pitch, there's nowhere to go, and monotony sets in. Lately, I've been doing a lot of tuning in and impatiently tuning out. As a longtime fan of talk radio, I don't think this bodes well for the long-term broad appeal of the medium. I want stimulation and expansion of my thinking -- not shrill, numbing hectoring and partisan undermining of the authority and dignity of the presidency.
According to Paglia, right-wing talk radio has jumped the hate tracks. Notice however, what goes unmentioned in her critique? It's the fact that Fox News has virtually duplicated the "seething" of talk radio; that Fox News has turned itself into a "feverish crisis" outpost under Obama.
There's no denying Obama hate has becoming a run-away phenomena within the GOP Noise Machine. But Paglia suggest it's just an AM problem.
Here's the Post headline today:
Obama Makes Empathy a Requirement for Court
Pretty much lifted right from GOP talking points, right? Conservatives have latched onto the idea that "empathy" is the top priority for Obama's upcoming SCOTUS justice pick, even though that evidence is quite thin. And conservatives think that Obama's supposed interest in "empathy" is a really big deal. So, voilà, so does the Post.
But "requirement"? That's a huge stretch, and one the daily never justifies. Here's as close as the article comes to making the case [emphasis added]:
When President Obama talks about the traits he admires in a Supreme Court justice, he ticks the predictable boxes -- intellect, integrity, respect for the Constitution and the law. And sometimes he talks about Lilly Ledbetter and the quality he defines as empathy.
Note how Obama only "sometimes" brings up "empathy." (Lilly Ledbetter is in reference to a recent SCOTUS case.) Yet just two paragraphs later the Post declares Obama is "making empathy a core qualification."
There's simply no proof that that's the case. Indeed, the article only points to one instance in which Obama has even mentioned empathy in references to justices. Ever. But now it's become a "requirement"? Plus, the Post ignores that fact that, as Media Matters has pointed out, conservative Republican senators in the past have pointed to "empathy" as being a key trait that successful justices must have. i.e. It's not a new idea, and it hardly seems newsworthy.
But the Post dutifully follows the GOP spin and treats "empathy" is a hugely important code word.
Nobody loves a process whodunit like the Beltway press corps. Mostly because they're easy to cover and contain virtually nothing of lasting substance. Which means the Pelosi/torture story has become a D.C. blockbuster as far as the press is concerned. (The rest of the country? Probably not so much.)
But in order to keep the story afloat, key facts must be ignored. And (surprise!) they are. Perfect example today comes from Carolyn Lochhead at the San Francisco Chronicle, who adopts the prerequisite breathless tone to lay out the facts [emphasis added]:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting blog-thrashed daily over what she knew when regarding torture memos, a tempest that began, ironically, enough when her ally President Obama released the Bush torture memos and she upped the ante with her calls for a truth commission... In the end, it could all come down to Pelosi's statements versus CIA notes.
According to Lochhead it's those CIA notes that hold the key to Pelosi's future:
The worst-case scenario for her pits her word against CIA notes in suspect briefings that by their nature grossly limited Congressional oversight.
What does Lochhead then promptly fail to mention in her report? The fact that the head of the CIA informed Congress that the CIA notes in question may not be accurate or reliable. Isn't that sort of a key fact when claiming that a battle royal shaping up between Pelosi and the CIA notes?
Not according to today's press corps.
At least it worked in Philly, where the Inquirer turned to disgraced Torture Memo Man John Yoo to write a monthly column. Why would the newspaper want someone like Yoo to pontificate in its pages? According to today's report in the NYTimes, it's because the Inquirer was trying to counter claims that the paper has a liberal bias.
Score one for Newsbusters!
From the Times:
"There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the criticism of The Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication," [Inquirer editorial page editor Harold] Jackson said. "We made a conscious effort to add some conservative voices to our mix."
Guess that's why the Inquirer also tapped former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to pen a column (at five times the normal pay rate), because the paper was trying to counter criticism from the right-wing. Nothing wrong with diversity on the Op-ed pages, although as Media Matters has noted, if U.S. newspaper lack an opinion voice there, it's a liberal one.
But also keep in mind that the Inquirer serves an hugely Democratic city in a state that, according to voting patterns, is galloping away from the GOP. But under pressure from the right, the Inquirer scrambles to hire a discredited voice like Yoo's, and a politician like Santorum, who PA. voters overwhelmingly rejected at the polls.
Meanwhile, our fave part of the Times article was this passage:
"What I liked about John Yoo is he's a Philadelphian," [publisher Brian] Tierney said. "He went to Episcopal Academy, where I went to school."
Yoo is perfect for the job because he went to the same exclusive, private high school as the publisher!
UPDATE: Philly's Will Bunch makes some important points.