Media

The New Media Lingo

The ongoing political campaign has been a boon to the media, especially the cable punditry. One interesting feature of its current coverage is the new lingo I’ve noticed seeping into the commentary. These are some of my favorite clichés.

“Throw him under the bus ...” This one is used by all the commentators in questioning why Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) did not divorce himself sooner from the provocative rhetoric of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Not only should the senator have criticized his former pastor, he should have “thrown him under the bus.” What’s that supposed to mean? A metaphor, no doubt, but surely not what the picture connotes.

“At the end of the day ...” This is how pundits sum up. Not “considering all these points, I conclude ...” or something like that. It is invariably, “At the end of the day ...” Since the political vicissitudes change daily, why use this inapt reference? At the end of the day comes tomorrow.
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Bev Broadman: A Memorial

The differences between showbiz and newsbiz are small. Anybody with half a brain can tell you that the real stars are the ones no one hears about.

I'm talking about the real brains behind the scenes, the ones we sarcastically call "The Little People.” Of course, they're actually the giants on whose shoulders these performances rest.

One of these people was Beverly Broadman. I say "was” because Bev died this week, consumed by illness.

She leaves us at a relatively early age, but she was not too young to leave behind a remarkable legacy.
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Carville, Coulter and the Others

In today's media Tower of Babel, the only way to prosper is to get noticed, to be heard above the din. Somehow. It's the very best way to get to the front of TV's Clamoring Class. From there it's a direct link to those coveted (and obscenely lucrative) speaking engagements.

James Carville is a poster boy for this. How better, for instance, to enhance his image as the always-outspoken "Ragin' Cajun" than to compare Bill Richardson to Judas Iscariot?

Richardson certainly infuriated Carville and his fellow Clinton backers by coming out for Barack Obama, but does that warrant a comparison to one of Christianity's supreme villains? Even Carville finally had to admit that was "out of bounds.” Mind you, he didn't apologize. He made light of it. That way he could calm the uproar a bit while keeping the bad-boy image intact and the big buck flying toward that carefully maintained high profile.
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For Better or For Worse

Armstrong Williams compares Silda Spitzer's situation to that of Hillary Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.


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Obama’s Real Experience: His Candidacy

The best evidence of Obama’s readiness to lead the nation is the ability with which he has run for president. After all, what is more difficult, complicated or challenging than getting elected president? What other life experience better illustrates one’s qualification to hold the office than a manifest skill in seeking it? For anyone who has ever been elected president, the race that sent him to the White House was the single most important event in his life and dwarfs any other experience he might have had before running.

As we have watched Obama surmount the hurdles that lay in his path, we cannot help but be impressed with his judgment. Adam Wallinsky, who served on Bobby Kennedy’s staff, once singled out good judgment as JFK’s most salient characteristic. Obama has faced so many delicate questions and issues and seems always to have the right feel for how to handle them.
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The Ugly Underbelly of the Fourth Estate

A popular journalistic axiom holds that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton. No matter how emboldened or right you think you are, you always seem to come out on the losing end. For the past year, former Romney advance man Jay Garrity became such a victim of the media’s wicked pen. This tale of intrigue begins with accusations carried throughout all of New England like Paul Revere that the Romney advance man had impersonated a Massachusetts state trooper. The accuser? No one really knows; allegedly the reporter got a “tip” from an inside law enforcement bureaucrat who apparently had a bone to pick with his former boss, Mitt Romney.
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Debate or Debase

This not about a specific incident. The real problem is the pervasiveness of unworthy political debate.

In making their points, far too many commentators are far too often careless or clumsy. They don't mean to to be heavy-handed, they just get flustered by live TV. Sometimes they get too consumed by their own point of view to articulate it in a forceful but appropriate way. So they blurt out their opinions in ways they didn't mean to. That can play right into the hands of a candidate who seeks to get sympathy votes by assuming the victim role.

Even more egregious are the nihilists who intentionally seek to gain notoriety with each and every malicious, inflammatory insult. It doesn't matter to them that what they're saying is really beneath contempt. Why should it? We encourage them by lapping their bile right up.
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Matt Drudge is King

It may well be that the single most influential person in national politics is Matt Drudge, and it is certain that the greatest impact at the intersection of the Internet, mainstream media and national politics is indeed The Drudge Report.

This is not a value judgment, it's a fact; and it is a testament to how the national leaders of the Democratic Party, and the financial heavies of the party, stand light-years behind their conservative competitors in finding support for a medium friendly to them.
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Bill O'Reilly, Homeless-Veteran Denier

It was one of the most repellent and revealing spectacles to hear multimillionaire conservative talk show host Bill O'Reilly virtually deny the existence of large numbers of homeless vets.

In his scorched-earth attack on John Edwards for calling for help for the homeless veterans living on grates and in poverty, O'Reilly hit a new low that is almost impossible to fully comprehend.

Does O'Reilly not understand that the problem of homeless vets is very severe, and beginning to rise again with the return of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe psychological trauma and physical wounds?
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Equal-Opportunity Skeptics

Nobody ever believes this, but I'm going to say it anyway.  While all journalists, as human beings, have opinions, most of us find it easy to ignore them when we're reporting.  We automatically click into another reality, where the greater truth is achieved by relevant facts and context, as opposed to advocacy.  Long ago, I realized that most issues of the day have honorable arguments on both sides.  For me as a reporter, the thrilling intellectual challenge  is articulating them ... to be the viewer's or reader's honest broker.

Why, you ask, do I tell you this?  Because, I answer, I'm reading and  hearing the spasms  over the Hillary Clinton interview conducted by George Stephanopoulos.  The critics bluster that Stephanopoulos shouldn't have done it because he was part of the Clinton White House.
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