Friday, June 09, 2006

Our Liberal Media

From the Washington Times:

Democrats call Zarqawi killing a stunt
By Amy Fagan


Some Democrats, breaking ranks from their leadership, today said the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in Iraq was a stunt to divert attention from an unpopular and hopeless war.

"This is just to cover Bush's [rear] so he doesn't have to answer" for Iraqi civilians being killed by the U.S. military and his own sagging poll numbers, said Rep. Pete Stark, California Democrat. "Iraq is still a mess -- get out." Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, said Zarqawi was a small part of "a growing anti-American insurgency" and that it's time to get out. "We're there for all the wrong reasons," Mr. Kucinich said.

Officially, Democratic leaders reacted positively to the news and praised the troops that successfully targeted al Qaeda's leader in Iraq with 500-pound bombs at his safe house 30 miles from Baghdad. "This is a good day for the Iraqi people, the U.S. military and our intelligence community," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Meanwhile, Democrats sprinkled caveats throughout their praise. "That is good news; he was a dreadful, vicious person," said Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat. Mr. Conrad added that he hopes the military can get Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, another top al Qaeda leader. "They're even more important," he said. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Michigan Democrat, said it was good news but added, "I think we have a long way to go."

Republicans called Zarqawi's death a positive step and thanked Iraqi citizens for standing up to a threat against their nascent Democracy. "I am more optimistic than ever that a free and stable Iraq can be achieved," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.



Notice how no one in the above story, Democrat or Republican, calls Zarqawi's death a "stunt." Notice that only one commentator - Rep. Peter Stark - comes close to suggesting such a thing with actual quoted words; not just reporter Amy Fagan's suggestive editorializing.

Notice as well that the title of this piece "Democrats call Zarqawi killing a stunt" quickly devolves in the first paragraph to "some" Democrats calling the killing a stunt. Then, notice how the whole thing devolves further - to become "Democrats sprinkled caveats through their praise."

This is the definition of irresponsible journalism. Were this an Op-Ed piece, the taking of small quotes and creating the idea of a "Stunt" might be acceptable, if not ethical. But this article is on the Nation/Politics page, and as such, it's ludicrious.

The point of posting this has less to do with the skewing of news like this to frame Democrats as wet-blankets, and more to do with the over-arching (and frankly unbearable) trend of coloring news stories with the opinions and/or ideas of the reporters.

Remember real journalism? Where you got facts, and figures, and recountings of events without the attempt to package stories as entertainment or controversy?

Yeah, neither do I. But it must've been great.

(link courtesy of oliverwillis)

21 Comments:

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Man, I really feel for the Democrats. Always framed by the arch-Conservative media. I wish there were another means by which the people of this country could access news other than Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the Washington Times.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Gosh, your sincerity just sparkles.

Remember the bottom of my article? Where I say that it's really about how journalism hawks entertainment at the expense of news?

Would that we lived in a world where the allegiances of news organizations were as easily identifiable as you suggest.

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

On a serious note, flip comments are fun, but they ignore the fact that editorializing is a serious problem in the news.

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

I know it is. Which is why I stopped reading the news and just read this blog. It is the Alpha and the Omega.

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

I stopped reading when I saw this was from The Washington Times...or The Moonie Times, as some call it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Times

The Times was founded in 1982 by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, to be a conservative alternative to the larger and mainstream Washington Post. To this day, it is widely perceived as maintaining a right-leaning editorial stance. By 2002, the Unification Church had spent about $1.7 billion in subsidies for the Times. [1]

Yeah.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Kat-

Goes to show just how knowledgeable I am. That's all news to me. Interesting stuff.

Jabs-

I've always wanted to be the Beginning and End of something. And talk about editorializing...that's all we do here. :)

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous portia said...

For me, the thing is less about selling news as entertainment, which I think is an irreversible and possibly even necessary thing. It's forced the creation of alternate news sources as well as a more active base of information-seekers.

The bias in our "unbiased" national media is more concerning to me for what it represents, which is the fruits of 30 years of hard work by conservative think tanks to change what they perceived as a left-leaning media bias. They've been enormously successful, so much so that it's now obvious to anyone who cares to pay any attention that nearly all of our mainstream media outlets skew right. It's my hope that the imbalance can soon be corrected, possibly with a longer stay in the happy medium.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

"They've been enormously successful, so much so that it's now obvious to anyone who cares to pay any attention that nearly all of our mainstream media outlets skew right."

Skew right?

Wow.

Wow. I've actually found someone that believe that. I never thought it would happen.

Actually, it's all relative. If your ideal world that envisioned by Karl Marx, Hugo Chavez, et al., then yes, the media would appear to skew right.

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous portia said...

Oh, how I love that Marx line! It never, ever, ever gets old, does it? Clever tying in Chavez; "godless commie" is so 80s.

So the Loonie Times is obviously right-wing, as is Faux News and Rush Limbaugh. They must be "balanced" out by the "left-wing" MSM like...the NY Times, right?

The same NY Times that just published a front-page, above-the-fold, 50-source "story" about the Clintons' marriage?

So maybe that's an aberration. As was, I'm sure, their decision to end a story on Bush's tanking poll ratings by pointing out two Democrats (one of whom isn't in public office) whose polls are lower. And the inclusion of Christina Hoff Summers as some bizarre kind of "expert" on a story on men who like having their own space at home.

In a balanced media world, one would expect to see similar aberrations from the right-wing media, wouldn't you? You'd be able to name several off the top of your head, I'm sure.

QED.

 
At 2:27 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Oh, how I love a debate.

Let's hear from Jabs. Remember to keep things quasi-civil, folks. The point of this site is to encourage mutual consideration of one another.

That said, let 'er rip.

 
At 2:33 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

To inject my own two cents:

Anyone who believes that the news media skews in one direction of another, politically, would seem not to understand economics.

I'd argue that the media is influenced by several, competing, factors, and that this makes a straight adherence to one form of political allegiance impractical at best.

Which is why I look forward always to pointing out instances where the myth of the "liberal" media can be debunked.

And I'd argue the same thing for the idea of Right-skewing media as well, Portia. How can you reconcile that idea with the simple fact that shareholders hold more sway over, say, Time magazine than a particular lobbying group?

And the Marx/Chavez jokes from Jabs are old hat. Don't take it personally - I certainly don't.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Ben Miro said...

I love that "The Media" has become a thing bereft of humanity. Like it's not a random swath of people entirely devoid of opinions, passions, logic, illogic...whatever.

And who really cares if "The Media" skews one way or the other. It's not like it's hard to tell! I'm a liberal and I read Drudge and Foxnews and the NYT and the Post and the lefty blogs. Then I form an opinion.

It's really a lame conflict. And anyways, we have Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert -- we win!

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

"It's really a lame conflict"

Agreed.

I just enjoy debunking the Myth. What a novel idea, Kat. Forming your own opinion from multiple sources!

 
At 12:39 PM, Anonymous portia said...

Katanga, that's essentially my original point; there has been a long-running, well-orchestrated effort to groom people willing to put forth conservative ideas as part of their work with "the news." When Tony Snow says it's great that "we" are finally in the White House (the same White House that stipulates that all televisions be tuned to Fox News), who do you think "we" is?

Which, yes, has the unexpected but welcome effect of causing a lot of us to seek multiple sources, cross-check, and then decide what really might have happened.

No worries whatsoever re: Jabs or jabs.

 
At 10:09 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

To play devil's advocate, Portia (something I do to annoying effect here) - I don't see how you can claim that the Right is grooming people for the news any more realistically than the Right can claim that the media is "liberal."

I think you can certainly say that both sides are constantly attempting to influence the flow of information, to our loss and their benefit.

Which, to my mind, raises questions about who the "enemy" is in the effort to make the media accountable to the people and not the gov't. Is it a political party? Is it corporations and their meddling? Is it liberal minds?

I'd argue that it's all these things, all the time - which is why it's so important to read from different places/sources/etc. Yet, even then, the information you recieve is filtered through a final prism; namely, you.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

And as an additional note...

For me, the thing is less about selling news as entertainment, which I think is an irreversible and possibly even necessary thing. It's forced the creation of alternate news sources as well as a more active base of information-seekers.

I take enormous issue with this. How is the selling of news as entertainment "necessary?"

You can argue that it's created "a more active base of information seekers," but I'd argue that it's created a fragmenting of national thought and a reliance on "gut" over logic, and on what your party/belief group tells you through their particular new news sources.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous portia said...

Just so I'm clear: you're the devil's advocate, and Jabs genuinely disagrees with me? You guys sure know how to make a person feel welcome! ;)

Don't take my word on the long-term grooming of news workers, political operatives, elected officials, judges, college professors, etc. on the part of the Right. Just do some research into the history of the existing conservative think tanks, which have absolutely NO equivalent on the Left.

I'd say the 'enemy' that's standing between the media and accountability to the people is us ourselves.

As to the commodification of news, I don't mean necessary as a synonym of "required," I mean it as a logical outcome of our social growth. With an explosion of both news-seekers and information outlets, there will be competition among those who provide the news. Given that our news (in broadcast format, anyway) was always sponsored by corporate entities who wanted to sell us something else, it only makes sense that eventually they're going to sell us news as entertainment.

I'd much rather see a fragmentation of national thought, an open market of ideas, than anything else. That we are our own filters in the end is unavoidable; if we're exposed to more information, however, and care to educate ourselves, we'll be better off.

 
At 7:50 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Oh, we're crotchety old men here, Portia, without social graces. If you feel welcome here, it's not our fault. :)

You make some excellent points, and I'm thrilled that you're sharing them with us.

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous portia said...

Ha! Got it. I like curmudgeons; they appeal to my sarcastic nature. I do like the site very much, and find the writing excellent (high praise from me).

I haven't been able to stop turning over that gut/logic idea. I really hope we're at a tipping point, having seen a huge number of catastrophic mistakes be made by relying too much on the gut, not enough of the logic. Maybe. I hope.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

UGH!!! I actually posted this whole long retort, and the site erased it, and I can't get it back. DAMN YOU BLOGGER PEOPLE!!!

Since the paltry level of wisdom I share is limited to about one good post a day, I'm shot.

Here was the essential point of my post, since I'm too lazy to try and use metaphors, analogies, and flowery prose again:

Whether the media (grossly overgeneralized as such) skews right or left will depend in large part on the world view of the person alleging making the judgment. It appears to me that the media skews left, and so much so that it almost goes without saying. The idea that the media "skews right" appears to me to be the political version of overplaying a very weak hand, so to speak.

Meanwhile, since it has been asked (I think someone asked whether there were "similar" circumstances of left media bias), here is a website focused on such bias:

http://www.mediaresearch.org/

I haven't read this stuff closely, so I won't vouch for all of it, but there is surely some evidence of a left "skew," at least from time to time.

Meanwhile, there were many other good points made in these posts, and I'm sorry not to get to all of them. Some of them are a little esoteric for my saddened US-Got-Crushed-By-The-Czechs-3-0 brain right now.

So to end (and pardon the change of subject matter), I think we need to break up the former Czechoslovakia more. It's pieces are still too good at soccer.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Truly, my heart is in itty-bitty pieces right now. Could those refs have managed to make any more bullshit penalty calls on Gooch?! Come on!!

On the plus side, though, go South Korea! Way to come back at the end against....err....Togo. Damn. This is not my year.

And I've had more than a fewe posts swallowed up by this infernal Blog. I feel your pain. My advice: quick save what you write every 15 mins or so with Cntrl and "C." It'll save you heartache.

 

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