Media

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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Glossing Over Getting Caught

Item: The CIA reveals it destroyed evidence of possibly illegal conduct by destroying tapes  of torture. But only after The New York Times gets set to publish an article disclosing that possible obstruction of justice by getting rid of evidence that might be needed in future war crimes trials.

Item:  After The Washington Post makes public the equally cruel treatment of shattered soldiers at Walter Reed hospital and elsewhere, the military grudgingly imposes reforms.  Only then.

The stories about insurance companies, utilities and the airlines being shamed by public disclosure into giving customers what they paid for are so common we hardly pay attention.
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Let's Escalate the Tucker Carlson Debate to Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a nice guy, good man and perceptive political analyst. He is also the person who appears to get more airtime than any other analyst on MSBNC. He is also a political extremist far outside the mainstream view of Americans who plays on anger, hate and rage whether he intends
to or not.

The issue on the table is: Should Pat Buchanan be the most visible analyst voice on any cable network? Or should he be one voice among many, but a voice whose exposure is far in excess of what his extremist views and appeal to the broader market would justify?
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The Battle Over Tucker Carlson

Brent and A.B are going at it over Tucker. But the battle may really be about something more fundamental.

Brent, you know I am in your camp on the issue debates — whether Iraq, Bush-Cheney or this collection of neocon candidates on the Republican side — but I find it hard to play the rightist game of censorship, or press-bashing.
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An Assault on Fairness

I will have a longer and more detailed response to the views expressed by my colleague here, A.B. Stoddard, about the Tucker Carlson issue.

For now, first, this past July 6 I wrote a post on this site discussing a letter I had written to the Board of Directors of General Electric about their political treatment on several cable shows that, in my view, disrespected large numbers of progressive Americans in ways that were highly disadvantageous from a media, content and ratings point of view to MSNBC.
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In Praise of Tucker

Earlier this week fellow blogger Brent Budowsky bagged on my friend Tucker Carlson in his post, upset because Tucker said Al Gore and George W. Bush have much in common and because he had shown contempt for Gore in his "sneering" comments. Budowsky's post, of course, invited the adolescent pile-on about Tucker, where readers called him everything from tool to weasel to twerp. 
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