Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The MSM are now actually sawing
at their own throats with the knife
they put there in the '08 campaign.
Howard Kurtz, Media Bore, and Maureen Dowd, Media Whore.
Or is it really the other way around? Dunno. Either way works.
DOWD IS A STUD. I've never understood why so many conservatives keep giving Howard Kurtz the benefit of the doubt, as if he's actually thoughtful, fair, and decent. I suppose he's good at posing as all these things, but that's about it. His latest columns are proof positive of what I say, but before I dig into the manure pile, I have to remind those who might stumble in here by accident that this website has long anticipated the bind the mainstream media now find themselves in. Back in July 2008, InstaPunk tried to give them some friendly advice:
Continue being the same adoring cheerleaders you've been so far -- through the inevitable crises and missteps and blunders and failures -- and the already tottering structure of the MSM will collapse in cataclysmic ruin. You will bore your dwindling audience absolutely to death, and they will begin seeking honest news reporting elsewhere. (As they have been, btw, for some time now; how's NYT stock doing these days, kemo sabe?)
The nature of your bet thus far is idiotic -- that Obama really is the absolute answer to everyone's prayers you so want him to be. He isn't. He's a flesh-and-blood man who will stumble and err and make some truly awful decisions. When that happens, your extravagantly uncritical support for his rise to power will make you accountable to many Americans before you cover the first act of his administration. And when he does take office, the fact that you have let him rewrite all the rules of what is and is not fair coverage in political reporting will do you in no matter what course you choose. Criticize him and be branded with some of the worst labels available in these United States. (The New Yorker is anti-muslim? Anyone? Please.) Suck up to him and go rapidly out of business -- not to mention lose all the power you have so jealously acquired and used so self-righteously in the last hundred years.
Take your pick.
Well, they have taken their pick of the options available, and in the words of the guardian of the grail, they "chose poorly."
Sorry. Couldn't resist the little plastic stop-motion figures. Kind of how I think of the NYT and WAPO folks anymore... You plumb the various degradations of the metaphor; I'm busy.
Now the Pew organization, hardly a bastion of conservative propaganda, informs us that nine months (?!) into the Obama administration, MSM coverage of the liberal Christ child's administration has resulted in, well, disaster:
September 13, 2009
Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low
Public Evaluations of the News Media: 1985-2009
Similarly, only about a quarter (26%) now say that news organizations are careful that their reporting is not politically biased, compared with 60% who say news organizations are politically biased. And the percentages saying that news organizations are independent of powerful people and organizations (20%) or are willing to admit their mistakes (21%) now also match all-time lows.
Republicans continue to be highly critical of the news media in nearly all respects. However, much of the growth in negative attitudes toward the news media over the last two years is driven by increasingly unfavorable evaluations by Democrats. On several measures, Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Today, most Democrats (59%) say that the reports of news organizations are often inaccurate; just 43% said this two years ago. Democrats are also now more likely than they were in 2007 to identify favoritism in the media: Two-thirds (67%) say the press tends to favor one side rather than to treat all sides fairly, up from 54%. And while just a third of Democrats (33%) say news organizations are “too critical of America,” that reflects a 10-point increase since 2007. [boldface added]
Which brings us all the way up to the past couple weeks, which I submit are among the worst in the tawdry history of the mainstream media in the last half century. The self-promoting "Paper of Record" failed to cover the Van Jones controversy until after he'd resigned. MSNBC chose to honor 9/11 by focusing on the muslim victims of the attack by fanatics of their religion on Americans. The 9-12 protests in Washington were too small to merit serious coverage by the MSM. You know, not enough people in attendance to displace real stories: [scroll for Sunday, 9/13. Tippy-Top Story -- "Americans easily win third straight Walker Cup." Cool.]
Or something like that. And the ACORN scandal doesn't boast nearly enough sex, corruption, and federal tie-ins to merit any kind of in-depth coverage, excepting the possibility that the City of Baltimore might prosecute the undercover journalists involved.
And so to bed. (For all you flyover dittoheads, that's a reference to the diaries of Samuel Pepys. Look it up lunkheads.) Except maybe not quite to bed yet. There's still the nagging matter of how the MSM explains to itself the brand new mission of committing journalism by not covering stories they don't approve of. That's where Howard Kurtz comes in. His job, officially, is to comment on media stuff for the junior paper of record, the Washington Post.
We have to admit, he's dutiful. He dealt with the Van Jones omission on Monday and then with the 9-12 protests on Tuesday. Maybe his unblinking, nose-to-the-grindstone shamelessness is the source of the respect he's accorded for no other reason.
On Van Jones, his position was that, uh, maybe the press should have covered the controversy. But only after he had spent the first half of his two page entry blasting the temerity of a nobody called Glenn Beck:
It has become a familiar chain reaction: Talk-show hosts whip up a noisy controversy, which hits higher decibels as it spreads to the establishment media, which costs some unfortunate soul his job.
But now the middleman -- the journalistic gatekeepers of yore -- may no longer be necessary.
By the time White House environmental adviser Van Jones resigned over Labor Day weekend, the New York Times had not run a single story. Neither had USA Today, which also didn't cover the resignation. The Washington Post had done one piece, on the day before he quit. The Los Angeles Times had carried a short article the previous week questioning Glenn Beck's assault on the White House aide. There had been nothing on the network newscasts.
"Where is the press on this?" Beck asked in late August during one of several rants against Jones. But it turned out the Fox News host didn't need the big news organizations to claim his scalp.
Beck's rhetoric may have been over the top as he denounced Jones as a "black nationalist" and "avowed communist" (Jones embraced communism in the 1990s but said he later changed his views). Yet Beck also trumpeted information that forced Jones to issue two public apologies within days. The first was for calling Republicans "a--holes" in a February speech, video of which was posted online by Beck backers. The second, more serious offense was that he had signed a 2004 petition charging "that people within the current administration may indeed have allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext to war." Jones said he didn't agree with that view, but his signature was on the "truther" document.
Although he began firing at his target earlier, Beck intensified his assault after a group co-founded by Jones, Color of Change, launched a boycott campaign that has led dozens of advertisers to withdraw from his television show -- a detail that Beck neglected to tell viewers.
As a proponent of creating "green" jobs, Jones was a respected figure within the environmental movement. But he was sufficiently obscure as a special adviser to the White House Council on Environmental Quality that major news organizations basically ignored him. Only The Post ran a profile, in December, and a story last month on his government work... [boldface added}
And blah, blah, blah. That Beck. What a creep. That Van Jones. What a visionary. Note the boldfaced paragraph. I just loved the phrase, "a detail that Beck neglected to tell viewers." So the proper journalistic response would have been to, uh, what? Quit pursuing the story in light of the fact that the target was retaliating undercover? Or prejudice the bare facts by preaching to the audience about a suspicion that an unprovable retaliation might be underway? Yet the closing thought (always put the most important element, the one you really want them to remember, at the end of the sentence, junior journalists!) is an imputation of wrongdoing by Glenn Beck.
But this piece was just a warmup for the real exercise in journalistic integrity published today. By Howard Kurtz. The conscience of The Washington Post (er, the American League Champion of newspapers for you dimwit Middle Americans...) In this multi-page gem, Howie tackles the question of the 9-12 demonstrations his newspaper could hardly bear to report on. (WAPO actually ran an AP account in its pages rather than its own; the in-house DC staff were too busy with, like, the Walker Cup.) But forget the facts. What really matters is what it all meant. And about that we can do no better than consult the ultimate experts on America, the elite pseudo-intellectuals who reference each other's finest insights about what the Morlocks outside the Beltway are up to today:
A Black-and-White Question
By Howard Kurtz
Is it racial?
Are the protesters, tea-partiers, birthers, deathers, doomsayers and hecklers motivated, at least in part, by a distinct discomfort with the country's first black president?
Or is that a smear against disgruntled Americans who have every right to express their dissent?
There is no definitive answer, of course, since we are talking about millions of people, from Joe Wilson, the disrespectful congressman who's now raised $700,000 for his "you lie" outburst, to the woman who told Arlen Specter that Obama is trying to transform the US of A "into Russia, into a socialist country."
But I began to suspect that race was a factor for at least some critics when I heard them shouting about "the Constitution" and "taking our country back." Maybe Obama's health-care plan is an awful idea and his budget is way too big, but how exactly is any of this unconstitutional? Clearly, for some folks, there's a deeper rage at the man occupying the White House.
I do think we all need to be careful about tarring the critics with a broad brush. Dissent is an essential element of America's DNA. Civil rights protesters transformed the country. Protesters helped turn the country against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. The majority of those digging in against Obama's policies sincerely believe that he is moving the country in the wrong direction.
Still, there is an ugly undercurrent out there. Yes, some on the right tried to delegitimize Bill Clinton as well -- remember the garbage linking him to drug trafficking and murder? -- but this is dark and personal in a much more unsettling way. What other president -- with a Hawaii birth certificate, no less -- would be subjected to conspiratorial doubts about whether he was born in this country?
There was a hopeful moment after Obama's election when the country -- even many of those who had voted against him -- seemed proud of itself for having broken a racial barrier. Maybe we were all being naive. Maybe prejudice is not so easily drained from the swamp.
The subject got a major boost in visibility from Maureen Dowd, who began with the shout-out from the South Carolina congressman who was a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans:
"Fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!"
"I've been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer -- the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids -- had much to do with race. . . .
"But Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president -- no Democrat ever shouted 'liar' at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq -- convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it. . .
"For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both."
Ouch indeed. [Excuse me. I've just had a tweet from TruePunk. He asks me to inform you that he's got a post on the way that will make you all cheer after you're done weeping over this one. Asshole.]
Anyway. How perfect does it get? An inside-the-beltway clown-journalist actually believes that citing an inside-the-beltway clown-skagop-ed writer represents some kind of verification of his own off-the-top-of-the-head assumption.
Let's all take a Brizoni moment. Throbbing, pulsating, can't-think-a-thought-for-all-the-thoughtlike-insanities-that-are-flashing-through-my-head-just-now EXPLOSIONS of furious contempt I'm feeling...]
Now. Deep breath. Start over. Three simple points I want to make here. Just three.
One. (another deep breath)
Only people who don't really care about the Constitution could see mentioning it as a code word for racism in the current environment. This administration has assumed authority in areas never before envisioned by a presidential administration. The right of the executive to fire private sector CEOs. The right of the executive to set pay for anyone in the private sector. The right of the executive to take over private sector corporations. The right of the executive to bypass congressional advice and consent in order to name "czars" with responsibilities overlapping and sometimes displacing cabinet responsibilities with no oversight other than the president of the United States. The right of the executive to create out of thin air a "right to health care" and to require uninsured private citizens to pay for health insurance they don't want. There isn't one word in the Constitution authorizing any of this. So people who start to feel the Constitution is being shoved to the side in favor of executive authoritarianism are therefore racist? Huh? WTF? The people who find this sinister would be in the streets today if the president overseeing it were a pink aaardvark.
ALL the talk about race that has occurred since this administration took office has come from the Obama administration itself. It's really nothing more than the permanent "get out of jail free" card we warned about here almost a year ago. Maybe the MSM is afraid to criticize the administration because they accepted rules they shouldn't have in their orgasmic rush to elect a black president, but the American people don't care what color the president is. They want a president who regards himself as president of all Americans, not just the politically correct ones. Last week's healthcare speech by President Obama is easily the nastiest, most partisan and divisive address ever delivered by a president to a joint session of congress. (Look it up, you beltway intellectuals.) It was the moment when the president made it indisputably clear that he is the president of those who agree with him and no one else.
[btw, Dowdy one (and the Howie one), the crack about adding "boy" to someone's statement is one of the oldest and lamest jokes in the world. Let's see. Try adding "bitch" to everything ever said by anyone to Hillary. "Fat, drunken murderer" to everything ever uttered to Teddy Kennedy. "MISTER Snopes" to everything said to Harry Reid. "Plastic Medusa" to every retort to the wit and wisdom of Nancy Pelosi. One difference, I guess. Doing it to a congressman from South Carolina seems to smack of racial and geographical profiling. Doesn't it? You bet your tight (non-homophobic) liberal asses it does...]
The behavior of the Obama administration in the face of protest from ordinary Americans who have never before been known to take to the streets in defense of their liberties against the federal government is despicable. The behavior of the press, however, is not only despicable but almost incomprehensibly suicidal. In the age of the Internet, NOT covering stories you don't like is more than professional malpractice. It's fucking lunacy.
IT'S NO LONGER POSSIBLE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES AND CBS NEWS TO KILL A STORY BY NOT REPORTING ON IT. PERIOD.
What part of this fact of life do you not get? And in case you haven't figured out the corollary either, allow me to point out that inside-the-beltway prejudices are easily recognized in Kansas, Idaho, and New Jersey as pretentious snobbery. You do not get to tell us what's important and what our concerns imply about who we are. We get to do that.
Yet the patronizing, sanctimonious apologists for a dead autocracy continue to roll out their rationalizations, excuses, judgments, and cocktail-party wisdom to the world at large as if -- AS IF -- in some sense they still speak for us. They don't.
THEY DO NOT.
The opposition to Obama is not racial. It's MSM support for Obama that's racial. The man is trying to kill the United States. The importance of the Washington protests is not whether they numbered 70,000 or 700,000. It's that people who have never protested in the streets before in their lives -- unlike the generation of lefties who have lived in the streets without ever earning a dime -- are showing up there now. That's the biggest story in a hundred years. These people, the ones who are protesting now, didn't even show up to oppose the ugly treason of the Vietnam War protests. Why are they on the streets now?
The MSM can't see a story in that other than racism? No. They can't. Which is the ultimate bind. Because they're going to die if they continue to interpret journalism as not covering stories that make Obama look bad. And the more they beat the racism drum, the more impossible they'll find it to criticize him when they finally feel thermselves slipping under the waves for the third and final (drowning) time. Hah. Really. That's the first laugh. The last laugh you'll hear will sound like something from the bottom of a well. But, well, that's where you'll be when you hear it.
Your whole journalistic business enterprise is fucking done. Guaranteed.
And Howard Kurtz? I denounce you as an unprincipled whore. (um, were you ever upset about this? Naaaah.) Too bad you can't make up the income differential by donning a pair of red spiked heels and peddling your saggy ass in Georgetown. No one would want it.
Maureen? You go, girl. One word of advice: Mandingo.
P.S. If anyone liked the poster in the top graphic, here is the full-scale version:
Yeah, I kind of like it, too.
UPDATE. An outstanding column today by Victor Davis Hanson called The Rise of the Uncouth. He fearlessly connects in print some outlier dots we've been connecting quietly in our heads. A flavorful morsel:
[T]wo tropes appeared after January 20th of this year:
One—cannot we all get along? We deplore this resort to barbarism and crudity.
Two—if you dare sound off like we just did, then you are now a racist.
Not So Fast
The problem is that the public is not really stupid and has a long memory. It hates hypocrisy as much as it does crudity. Part of Obama’s decline is precisely because of this sudden disingenuousness in which one rises to the top on hardball, Chicago politics and playing identity politics (remember Rev. Wright, Ayers, “typical white people”, clingers, etc.), and then of course wants an end to the crudity (like hoping the music stops only when you have grabbed that last chair).
Or so Obama said that he wanted a sort of end to the acrimony. But once he was elected, we got Eric Holder slurring the nation, the President slurring the police, the environmental jobs czar slurring almost everyone, and a host of satellites like Charles Rangel and Diane Watson leveling charges of racism.
So where do go from here?
The standards of civility, torn down during the 1960s, were obliterated completely after 9/11 (hours after, actually, when Michael Moore (Jimmy Carter’s hero) wished a red-state had been hit instead). We have no more “Wise Men” in Washington and New York, but rather graying children of the Sixties, aging badly. A large segment of the left—from Code Pink and Moveon.org to Acorn and the unions—believe that they really can smear and defame and then retreat to mythical standards of decency when they are now on the receiving end.
You should read it all, obviously.