We've written about the Post's fashion writer before and how her attempt to bridge the worlds of fashion and politics by dissecting what politicians wear and supposedly making it all very revealing and important, is, almost without exception, and unbearably painful process to watch.
There's nothing wrong with the territory she's trying to mine. It's just that Givhan's not up to the task and the type of political journalism she's producing is not good.
Recall that it was Givhan who may have hit the absolutely low point of the 2008 campaign journalism when she wrote her for-the-ages column about how Hillary Clinton has breasts. Also, it was Givhan who claimed to be able to divine all sorts of insights into John Edward's character based on what color shirts he wore. And it was Givhan who swung and missed regarding Sarah Palin's wardobe.
Her latest is a think piece on Michelle Obama, because Givhan says "all eyes are on her," although we suspect all eyes are on Michelle's husband, and because "we obsess about her clothes." (We?) Specifically, Givhan dissects what Michelle and the other Obama family members wore on Election Night. Givhan devotes the first six paragraphs of her piece to the fact that some of the Obamas were dressed in mostly black and others had splashes of red; that the family "matched." Givhan thinks this is wildly important and ponders the significance at length:
But that kind of coordination also is a way of controlling the family image, of making sure that these four individuals are perceived as a seamless unit, a supportive clan. The color matching declares loudly: We are a family. We are in this together. And don't we take a nice picture?
We're not sure we can take four years of this.
FAIR strips away more of the revisionist history that we've seen in the press since the Election Day, with Betlway pundits warning Barack Obama not to govern from the left because Bill Clinton tried that in 1993 when he first arrived in the White House and it was a political disaster for Democrats.
It's a long-standing myth, and a useful one for centrists and conservatives who wish to see Democrats shift right. But there's very little evidence that it's actually true; in fact, it's more likely that Clinton's abandonment of leftist campaign promises led to the 1994 reversal of power in Washington.
(It only seemed like 3,000 to WaPo readers.)
That's the mind-boggling tabulation that ombudsman Deborah Howell came up with for the just-completed campaign seasons. And yes, that compares to less than 600 issue-related campaign stories from the Post.
In response to her findings, here's what Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, told Howell:
There are a lot of things I wish we'd been able to do in covering this campaign, but we had to make choices about what we felt we were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web. I don't at all discount the importance of issues, but we had a larger purpose, to convey and explain a campaign that our own David Broder described as the most exciting he has ever covered, a narrative that unfolded until the very end. I think our staff rose to the occasion.
Not to be overly harsh, but that's almost too dumb for words. Hamilton claims that at the Post, the staff had to choose between horse race stuff and issues. (It just wasn't possible to do both?) They had to choose, and they chose horse-race stuff overwhelmingly. Why? Because David Broder described the race as exciting right up to the the end. Huh?
Howell highlighted important deficiencies regarding the Post's campaign reporting. But no matter. Hamilton thought the Post staff, which gorged itself on horse-race trivia, did an amazing job.
Experts confirm, post-election, that the voting phenomena doesn't exist in America, just as the experts insisted pre-election. But that didn't stop the press for producing an absolute avalanche of of non-stop stories about the Bradley effect, in what seemed to be a rather transparent attempt to inject some drama into the drama-less election during the home stretch. (Obama might lose!)
Also, please also note that the press, when now confirming the Bradley effect didn't show itself on Election Day, insists it was voters and academics who hyped the non-story in recent weeks, not the press.
And the HuffPost's Off The Bus experiment. Congrats.
You would've thought conservative bloggers would have tried to build a counterpart to the liberal netroots before the 2008 campaign. But this cycle has been, in our opinion, a debacle for the right side of the blogosphere which, incredibly, is still trying to build a network of bloggers, commenters, and activists that even vaguely resembles what liberals have created.
Listen in as the Rightroots tries to get off the ground.
P.S. If there's a silver lining for the right it's that it took, for liberals, the heart-breaking defeat of John Kerry in 2004, to truly energize the netroots movement. Perhaps the same will happen to the Rightroots in the wake of McCain's loss, although we have our doubts.
The two are locked in what could be, statistically based on the total number of votes cast, the closest U.S. senate race in history. A recount is underway. And it's a recount required by state law, because the vote was so close. In fact, Coleman's original margin of victory, 725 votes (out of 2.9 million cast), has already shrunk to 236 votes.
So why this Strib headline today [emphasis added]? "Sen. Norm Coleman's Democratic challenger is vowing to push ahead with a recount".
Why the "vowing" language, which makes it seem like Franken's just being a sore loser? Under Minnesota law, recounts are required if the final margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percent. In the case of Franken/Coleman, the margin's .01 percent. So of course there's going to be a recount.
Also under state law, the person trailing can request that the recount not go forward. But considering there's already been a 500 vote shift in the process, naturally Franken's not going to do that.
Seems to us that once again, the Strib has its thumb on the scale while covering this race.
Writes Megan Garber at CJR. We tend to agree.
Wow. Just wow.
Want to know just how completely spooked CBS was by the right-wing assault on its news division following the Memogate scandal during the 2004 election? CBS suits were so scared that while forming an "independent" panel to investigate the controversy surrounding Dan Rather's reporting on President Bush's military service, the Tiffany Network considered appointing Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter and/or Rush Limbaugh to the panel.
We kid you not. That, according to a New York Observer report, which found that amazing piece of information while digging through discovery documents in connection to the ongoing $70 million lawsuit Rather has filed against CBS, after he got bounced in the wake of Memogate.
Go read the whole thing. Here's a a key passage from a memo written by CBS brass, defending the hiring of an openly Republican lawyer, Dick Thornburgh, who eventually headed the Memogate investigation:
Because of the perception that CBS News and Dan Rather had a liberal bias, CBS purposefully chose a Republican lawyer, not for any nefarious purpose, but to open itself up to its harshest conservative critics and to ensure that the Panel's findings would be found credible.
Rather's attorneys then turned up a list which CBS executives apparently compiled in the fall of 2004, prior to settling on Thornburgh. Under the category of "others," these possible Memogate panel names were mentioned:
- William Buckley
- Robert Novak
- Kate O'Beirne
- Nicholas Von Hoffman
- Tucker Carlson
- Pat Buchanan
- George Will
- Lou Dobbs
- Matt Drudge
- Robert Barkley
- Robert Kagan
- Fred Barnes
- William Kristol
- John Podhoretz
- David Brooks
- William Safire
- Bernard Goldberg
- Ann Coulter
- Andrew Sullivan
- Christopher Hitchens
- PJ O'Rourke
- Christopher Caldwell
- Elliot Abrams
- Charles Krauthammer
- William Bennett
- Rush Limbaugh