MSNBC's post-Palin-speech coverage has consisted entirely of various reporters sitting around talking about how successful the speech was, speculating about how voters will react to it. But viewers don't need to be told how they'll react to Palin's presentation -- they can react to it all by themselves, without being told how to react by a bunch of pundits.
Meanwhile, not one MSNBC reporter has said a single word about whether what Palin said was accurate. That's something viewers do need; something they can't easily ascertain on their own. MSNBC has had the text of this speech for hours, and they haven't yet gotten around to telling viewers whether Palin told the truth in it.
Like her claim about the "bridge to nowhere." Was that correct? (Answer: No, not really. But don't expect MSNBC to tell you that; they'd rather blather on pointlessly about how viewers will react to the speech. Which becomes self-fulfilling: those viewers would, no doubt, react a bit differently if the media told them Palin didn't tell the truth.)
Marc Ambinder says the McCain camp's assault on the media has some merit: "The McCain campaign's anger at the media is both genuine and contrived. Where are the stories about Joe Biden's lobbyist son?"
Well, here are some:
There's a lot more, and The Google makes it easy to quickly find much of it.
But it's a little harder to find major media mentions of the fact that John McCain's wife was business partners with Charles Keating around the time McCain met with regulators on Keating's behalf. And how many news reports have told voters how much the McCains would save under his tax plan?
Throughout the Democratic primaries, journalists kept insisting that they'd get around to scrutinizing McCain eventually, once the Democrats chose a nominee. They still haven't done so -- not in any serious way. Presumably, the substance-free McCain complaints about the media are an effort to keep it that way. And reporters are falling for it.
Neither ABC nor CBS aired analysis from Democrats, Democratic strategists, or progressive media figures during their live coverage of the second day of the Republican National Convention. By contrast, both aired analysis from Republicans and conservatives, as well as from Democrats and progressives, during coverage of the second day of the Democratic National Convention.
"It's time for our elite political reporters to look into their own heads and decide: Do you value what's in there? Or are you willing to write whatever people tell you?"
CBS' Nancy Cordes reported: "Today, the McCain campaign released her voter registration records to prove Palin is a lifelong Republican with no connection to the [Alaskan] Independence Party." But Cordes did not note that Palin addressed the AIP's 2008 state convention in a video message in which she said the group "plays an important role in our state's politics," that she reportedly addressed the party's convention with a video message in 2006, that the McCain campaign has acknowledged that Palin "visited" the AIP's 2000 convention, or that her husband reportedly was a registered member of the party.
On Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris said of Gov. Sarah Palin: "[T]here's a fight going on between her sister and her husband and the husband tasered the kid." But the issues raised by this "fight" are not merely issues of family discord; Palin has been accused of misusing her office in allegedly pressuring the Alaska public safety commissioner to fire Palin's sister's former husband, a state trooper, which the commissioner, who was subsequently fired, refused to do.
One pretty good sign that the media treats John McCain much more favorably than the McCain campaign would have you believe is the obedience with which the media uncritically reports the campaign's complaints about coverage.
Case in point: Politico's Jonathan Martin has an article about McCain's attacks on the media, in which he includes this line:
McCain's campaign has also put its words into action, stripping CNN of an opportunity to interview the candidate after what it felt was unfair treatment of an aide in an appearance Monday on the cable channel.
Why does the McCain campaign think the treatment was "unfair"? Martin doesn't tell you. What happened? Martin doesn't tell you. Was it unfair? Martin makes no effort to help readers determine that -- he just "reports" that McCain's camp says it was unfair. Kind of skews things in McCain's favor, doesn't it?
What actually happened in that interview is that McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds touted Sarah Palin's experience as head of the Alaska National Guard, at which point CNN's Campbell Brown asked him for an example of a decision Palin made in that capacity. When Bounds couldn't or wouldn't come up with one, she asked again. That doesn't seem "unfair" to me; that seems like journalism.
And the Politico's decision to simply type up the McCain campaign's complaints without giving any indication of what actually happened seems more like stenography than journalism.
Print media outlets reported Sen. Joe Lieberman's attack on Sen. Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention, including Lieberman's deceptive claim that Obama "vot[ed] to cut off funding for our troops on the ground," but did not report that the attack violated a pledge Lieberman had made not to "spend [his] time attacking Barack Obama" at the convention.
NBC's Ron Allen just interviewed a GOP delegate who garbled her false pro-Palin talking points. Fortunately, Allen was there to help her through:
Delegate: "Her entire career has been in administrative duty, and-"
Ron Allen: "A lot of people talk about executive experience"
Delegate: "Executive experience. And she's had a lot of experience."
Palin's entire career has not been in "administrative duty," whatever that means. Nor has it been in "executive" capacity. But rather than challenging the delegate on her false spin, Allen coached her into more-coherent false spin. Ah, journalism.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris asserted that while Democrats say "things are terrible, Bush is awful, and McCain is more of same," "[t]hat statistic that 90 percent of the time they vote together? Ninety percent of the votes in the Senate are unanimous. Bush, Obama, and McCain probably vote together 90 percent of the time on resolutions congratulating the New York Giants and stuff." In fact, Congressional Quarterly has reported that Sen. John McCain has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time, while Sen. Barack Obama has voted with Bush 40 percent of the time.
Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer did not challenge an assertion by McCain campaign senior adviser Nicolle Wallace that the "fervor with which the Democratic-leaning blogs and a few in the mainstream media pursued" questions about Gov. Sarah Palin's pregnancy " forced the Palin family ... maybe ahead of a schedule that worked best for the family, to make this news yesterday about their daughter." But contrary to Wallace's claim, according to The New York Times, the McCain campaign released the information about Palin's daughter's pregnancy on Labor Day because that was when the media were focused on Hurricane Gustav and because "the nation was busy with family and social activities."
On Special Report, Major Garrett stated that "Barack Obama made the decision not to attack [Sen. John] McCain and [President] Bush" and later claimed, "[J]ust a few hours ago in his hometown of Scranton, surrounded by friends and family, [Sen. Joe] Biden ripped into John McCain on energy, Iran, and Iraq, calling him wrong on all three. And the Republicans said that's a hard way for them to see how politics is being avoided in the light of Hurricane Gustav." But neither Garrett nor Brit Hume noted that McCain ran attack ads that day or that a campaign spokesman reportedly attacked Obama.
In his New York Times column, Bill Kristol asserted that many of the Republicans who are "unhappy about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin" as his vice-presidential running mate are "insiders who highly value -- who overly value -- 'experience.' " However, when he was making the case that Sen. Joe Lieberman could be McCain's best choice for running mate in a column one week earlier, Kristol cited the fact that "Palin has been governor for less than two years" as a possible reason for McCain not to pick her.
The Washington Post asserted in an editorial, "As opponents reversed long-held positions to appeal in ugly ways to anti-immigrant sentiment, Mr. McCain insisted on his more humane approach." But the Post did not point out that McCain reversed himself on a key component of immigration reform, now saying that "we've got to secure the borders first," or that McCain said he would not support the immigration reform bill he co-sponsored if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.
Syndicated columnist Debra Saunders and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck both falsely claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She has also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples.