Media

The decline and fall of the mighty Washington Post

“Politics and Film,” a local film festival in Washington, re-ran the epic movie “All the President’s Men” and then held a discussion with Bob Woodward, one of the protagonists depicted in the show.

In the movie, Woodward and his sidekick Carl Bernstein risked personal safety and career advancement investigating the malfeasance of the Nixon administration, and ultimately created the dynamic that led to the president’s resignation.

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What is the attorney general doing?

At the instigation of the Department of Justice, a newly impaneled federal grand jury has subpoenaed records of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Risen. (Candor requires I note that Risen’s partner at The New York Times when it won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the George W. Bush administration domestic surveillance program is my client.) The department is demanding Risen’s confidential sources for some of the disclosures in his four-year-old book about covert CIA operations.

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Needless sensationalism

I heard an interesting statistic last week: For all the rise of independent, Internet-based news outlets such as the Huffington Post, newspaper organizations are still the No. 1 most-read news source today, eclipsing even television and radio. Of course, if you read the fine print of the findings, they reveal that because newspapers smartly kept pace with growing reader trends, they were able to enhance their Web-based news offerings, and hence, keep subscribers tuned in to their papers, even if they were now reading copy online.

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Making news

“Newspaper columnists are people who are required to find significance three times a week in events of absolutely no consequence,” John Kenneth Galbraith stated, according to the astute commentator Russell Baker.

That wry remark could also describe cable television commentators, who have to discover and reveal significant stories daily, whether or not they are real, or just stories.

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Frayed nerves with White House press corps

It seems the love affair the Obama administration enjoys with the mainstream media has recently hit some bumpy spots that might make Tiger Woods blush. Well, it’s not that bad. Yet.

Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post has an interesting piece today on how the White House has lashed out at CBS News for posting an online column from a right-leaning blogger leveling some serious allegations. The blogger, former Bush official Ben Domenech, states Obama would certainly “please” his base by naming the first openly gay justice to the highest court in the land. He’s referring to the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely believed to be one of the president’s leading candidates to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.

When the blog was initially posted, CBS refused to take it down, prompting many at the Casa Blanca to bluntly question the journalistic standards of CBS.

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Banning anonymous Internet comments and cheering the New York Yankees

Anonymous comments and the New York Yankees stand at polar-opposite positions in American life in the 21st century. When an athlete puts on the Yankee pinstripes there is an ethic, a history, a standard of excellence. When a commenter hides under alias there is a lowering of standards, a hiding under a false name that gives protection for the commenter to engage in slander, shallowness and cheap-shot name calling that the writer would never do in "real life,” using a real name.

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The Circus: Fox, MSNBC and CNN all hire Sarah Palin

Foreclosures are at record levels and the Grapes of Wrath continues under Obama as it did under Bush. The real jobless rate is 17 percent and a whole generation of workers is being left behind while the stock market soars to record highs. American astronauts will soon be paid passengers on Russian spacecraft. Yet the media, instead of covering the crisis for tens of millions of people throughout the nation, is obsessed with Her Royal Highness, Her Majesty, the hockey mom who gouges California students to be paid a king's ransom and live in royal splendor.

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Threatening the lives of Census workers

Sarah Palin urges people to “reload.” Sean Hannity calls Tea Partiers “Tim McVeigh wannabes.”

You think right-wing rhetoric is getting a little too violent? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.

Red-state blogger and CNN contributor Eric Erickson refuses to fill out his census form. Which means a local, or ACS, worker might show up at his home. If so, warns Erickson, I’m gonna “pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little twerp likes being scared at the door.”

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Matt Drudge and the Republican delusion

In my opinion Matt Drudge is the most important and influential single figure in American media. In terms of daily and ongoing influence he is more influential than The New York Times, the television networks, cable news or anyone else.

Let me suggest here that Drudge's power may turn out to be more of a curse than a blessing for Republicans and conservatives because in my view, it fosters delusions that can lead to defeat. Recently a Gallup poll, of course highlighted on Drudge, found that Obama's numbers had (then) turned more unfavorable than favorable. This has (now) dramatically changed, unreported by Drudge, with Obama's favorables now well above his unfavorables. The generic Democratic vote is leading the generic Republican vote in the last Gallup congressional election survey.The healthcare bill has passed and the president's polls have moved up. Democratic numbers have crept up. Media focus on right-wing death threats is alienating political independents and motivating the Democratic base. But readers of Matt Drudge, listeners to Rush Limbaugh and viewers of Glenn Beck are being fed a false dose of Republican triumphalism and a megaphone for what a majority of voters might see as extremism that is both delusional and politically damaging to Republicans.

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Right-wing death threats rise: Republicans should condemn Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh is now using his radio show to promote hatred and rage with language that could well incite physical violence from some of his listeners.

Meanwhile, death threats are rising against Democratic public officials. Abusive calls and threats are made against the homes of prominent Democrats. Extremists call on supporters to bring guns to Washington. Enough is enough.

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