Tag Archives: media

What to read this week: Sept. 2

Here is a collection of articles that I read and liked this week:

Paul Ryan – The liar, exaggerator extraordinaire

If one fact about the Romney-Ryan ticket was made clear this week during the Republican National Convention, it’s that the two candidates aren’t afraid to lie. Now I know that politicians from both sides stretch the truth, but to the extent that Rep. Paul Ryan did during his vice presidential acceptance speech might be unprecedented. Both of these articles document his lies:

“Facts Take a Beating in Acceptance Speeches” by Michael Cooper – The New York Times

“Ryan’s VP Spin” – FactCheck.org

Even more disturbing seems to be Ryan’s willingness to tell small, meaningless lies, like he told during an interview with Runner’s World Magazine. He told the magazine that he ran a marathon in two hours and 50 minutes–a very impressive feat. Unfortunately, it took him more than four hours to finish the only marathon he ever ran. I’m OK with this lie since under “Ryan time,” I can tell conservatives that I ran my three hour and 45 minute marathon in two hours and 30 minutes.

But what does this mean for the campaign? Well, it isn’t Kim Jong Il-world’s-greatest-golfer disturbing, but it’s not too far off. Joan Walsh nails Ryan’s free reign under the media.

“Paul Ryan’s Marathon Lie” by Joan Walsh – Salon

Last week, Ryan also mentioned that he’s a huge Rage Against the Machine fan (who isn’t?!). Unfortunately, their music doesn’t exactly fit his politics. Group leader and guitarist Tom Morello let him know:

“Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against” by Tom Morello – Rolling Stone

Republicans and Race

Talk to a Republican and bring up race and he or she will flip. “Why do you have to bring race into this?” “You guys always bring up race.” “I have black friends.” “Marco Rubio is my favorite senator.” But it’s obvious that Romney is running a campaign meant to tap into the base of the Republican Party–lower-middle to middle class white men.

Generally, I don’t believe Republicans are purposely racist or even know that they are racist or harbor racist tendencies. (Even though some from the GOP base did throw peanuts at a black CNN camerawoman saying, “This is how we feed the animals” or chant “USA! USA!” when a Puerto Rican Republican woman started speaking.) But I do believe that white, middle class men do feel a certain, albeit it understandable, anxiety about their place in the United States today. They are becoming a minority.

Tapping into this anxiety is what Romney hopes to accomplish with his disproved claim that President Obama is gutting welfare reform. This superb analysis by Ron Fournier, a former Associated Press Washington bureau chief, explains why this Romney tactic is “playing the race card”:

“Why (and How) Romney is Playing the Race Card” by Ron Fournier – The National Journal

Exciting Links

PressThink by Jay Rosen

Rosen is a professor of journalism at New York University and media critic. I found Fournier’s story about race through Rosen’s post “#pushback.”

Rosen doesn’t waste his time or the reader’s time with talk about the “liberal media” or the “conservative media.” He just writes and explains what he sees out there.

Start with the “About” section in which he explains what “PressThink” means.

Read “#pushback,” which is about the GOP’s dismissal of the fact-checking news media.

Then read “‘You’re not entitled to your own facts’ vs. That’s your opinion. Kiss my ad.” It’s an amazing take on what “facts” mean in today’s political landscape.

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Why Did the LA Times Censor My Blog Comment – Twice?

At one point in my life, the Los Angeles Times was the “It” paper. While The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal (the journalism section, not its editorial pages) set the standard for American journalism, I convinced myself that the LA Times wasn’t too far behind.

I am convinced now.

The three major newspapers have learned how to use Web 2.0 — blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr — to push journalism to another level.

Even Reuters, the venerable wire service, has set standards on how to use Web 2.0. That company’s rule regarding instantaneous news? Journalism is still journalism. There is no room for opinion, misinformation, or poor reporting.

The uptake? These publications treat blogs like they treat articles published in newspapers.

Which brings me to the Los Angeles Times, especially its Top of the Ticket blog penned primarily by Andrew Malcolm (although the Times lists Johanna Neuman as a contributor).

If you don’t know Malcolm, he’s the former press secretary for First Lady Laura Bush. He’s also a long-time reporter (hell, could be a very good reporter) and served on the Times’ editorial board. My guess is he started writing the Ticket blog sometime early in 2008 (his bio is dated November 1, 2008).

But since the campaign season that year, Malcolm has proved himself to be nothing short of a partisan hack on the levels of a Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. He often resorts to nicknames for President Obama, his latest being “The Smoker.” Which would be fine, I guess, if the blog was labeled clearly as “Opinion” as The New York Times and The Washington Post do.

Instead “Top of the Ticket” is labeledPolitics, coast to coast, with the L.A. Times” and is listed clearly under the “Politics” section, not the “Opinion” section.

To make things even worse for the Times, the newspaper often reposts Malcolm’s blogs as actual stories. For example, “A little secret about Obama’s transparency” posted yesterday looks exactly like an article penned by a real reporter.

In this news article, which is what the URL suggests (even if “Top of the Ticket” is written at the top), includes zero original sources — a big no-no in journalism. Yes, it’s from a blog post, but if it’s reprinted as an actual article, it should contain sources. Heck, most columns contain at least one original source.

But my real problems with Malcolm hit a tipping point Saturday night, a day before the historic vote on healthcare reform, in a blog post titled, “Cast your own vote on Obama’s healthcare plan.” The primary problem comes from the poll questions posted below the blog, especially Nos. 2 and 4:

  • Obama’s healthcare plan is so good it should also apply to Obama, his family, all members of Congress and their families. (It does)
  • I wish those folks had spent all these months focusing on jobs and the economy instead. (They did)

The wording and loaded questions upset me so much, I wrote a long response and posted it. I kept waiting for it to appear after being moderated, but it didn’t. So I reposted it thinking I had made a mistake. Again, nothing.

I wondered what I had written that kept them from publishing my comment.

Here’s the full text of what I wrote (much of which is repeated above):

Recently, Reuters released standard practices for journalists using social media, which is what blogs are. The standards break down into one simple rule:
“Accuracy, freedom from bias and integrity are fundamental to the reputation of Reuters and your ability to do your job effectively. The advent of social media changes none of this and you should do nothing that would damage our reputation for impartiality and independence.”
If Andrew Malcolm worked for Reuters, he’d be fired for this piece of misinformation and obvious bias.
Malcolm is an embarrassment to the Los Angeles Times. His reporting is full of vindictiveness, poor reporting, and straight-out falsehoods.
Take for example poll questions 2 and 4:
“2) Obama’s healthcare plan is so good it should also apply to Obama, his family, all members of Congress and their families.”
– Unfortunately, it’s not a “healthcare plan.” It’s a reform of the current system. The only “plan” being created is the ability to buy into a pool of other independent people. “Reform” does not equal “plan.” Malcolm knows this is true, but he perpetuates the falsehood because it probably boosts his ego when he receives responses like this. No one’s insurance will change if they don’t want it to.
“4) I wish those folks had spent all these months focusing on jobs and the economy instead.”
– Was it my imagination or did President Obama just sign an $18 billion jobs bill? In addition, aren’t there physical signs throughout Los Angeles that say “This project is paid for by the Reinvestment Act of 2009”? Nevermind that unemployment has slowed, and it appears job growth should begin by the end of this year. Again, Malcolm knows this, but he perpetuates the lie that Obama hasn’t done anything about jobs because, hey, let me be funny.
The Los Angeles Times used to try to compete with the big newspapers — The New York Times and The Washington Post. But with one of the paper’s top political reporters, which is what a blogger is, demonstrating such terribly poor professionalism, it’s no wonder why no one mentions this newspaper when it talks about the best in the nation.
Shame on you, LA Times. And Andrew Malcolm, get over yourself.

I had a serious point, so I made it, albeit in an angry way. In fact, my post was tame compared to some of the others that were published.

Here are some of the comments from those who opposed the bill:

Guy Arnold wrote:

“Obama is a devout Muslim and with no doubt he is screwing up our country to it’s worst condition.”

Peggy wrote:

“Obama, progressives and looney tunes dems are done. AS IS THE LAME STREAM MEDIA. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves for helping to elect a Muslim Socialist radical like Obama. How can you look at yourselves in the mirror every day to shave, or what ever?”

Yolanda wrote:

“If the President thinks his healthcare if so good, He should ask millions of unborn children what they think of federally funded abortions”

And about 70 others like these (including one guy who wrote, “Is Obama a foreign agent? I don’t know.”)

But he also posted the comments of those who supported the bill (responding to many):


“lame poll. the LA times is turning into just another blog. Why don’t you use your resources and put together a poll of substance.”

(AM responds: This IS a blog. And it is not a poll. Thanks for voting.)

Rusty (a Republican, actually makes some of the same points as me):

Are you going to actually address any of the criticisms of people who posted in these comments, or are you just going to tell everyone “oh thanks for coming”?

Several people have questioned your ability to report on a political story without draping it in the sarcasm of your own political worldview. I was a Republican, and it is people like you that made me leave the party – that you didn’t seem to be able to think up better ideas, just hurl insults at whomever the party disagreed with.

If you are unable to objectively analyze or comment on a political story, then perhaps the LA Times could *try* to get someone in here who has that ability to – say someone who can determine whether or not the CBO analysis was correct, rather than post “Communisty” photos of Obama, and call Pelosi names (even if she deserves it).

You can join Fox and put your blog there. Or god forbid the racist tea-party. They’d probably like the photo you posted. Repeatedly.

(AM responds: This is a political blog. It is not a newspaper, hence to paper. No one is stopping you from not reading it. But glad you did.)

There are a few dozen of other posts by supporters of healthcare, many criticizing the poll, which is what the questions are despite what Malcolm may believe (unscientific, yes, but still a poll), and I didn’t see where my post crossed the line. Maybe it was quoting Reuters, or perhaps it was the “shame on you” line, which I admit now is a bit pompous. Hell, maybe it was too long (even though there were posts longer than mine).

Or maybe Malcolm couldn’t think of a snarky response to my post.

With comments like “This is a political blog. It is not a newspaper, hence to paper” it”s clear that Malcolm has little respect for new journalism and the power blogs and Web 2.0 has on current events.

And it’s also why he fails as a blogger and as a reporter. And this is also why the LA Times fails as a newspaper.

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Spin Control: Democrats Jumping Ship?

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded with the thought that the Democratic Party was a sinking ship because of all the retirements taking place – Sens. Christopher Dodd and Byron Dorgan the most prominent among these.

Then I ran across this interesting piece by well-respected media critic Eric Alterman in The Nation titled “What Would Molly Say?” (WWMS) about what the deceased liberal commentator Molly Ivins would say about recent coverage of major political events:

I found myself wondering WWMS on the day Chris Dodd withdrew from the 2010 Senate race in Connecticut. The withdrawal, unlike Byron Dorgan’s in North Dakota a day earlier, vastly improved Democrats’ chances of retaining that seat, and brought to, um, four the number of incumbent Democrats who are planning not to run. (That’s compared with six Republicans.) In the House, ten Democrats are planning to retire (compared with fourteen Republicans). Among the nation’s governors, it is three Democrats (and four Republicans). Add it all up, and what do you get? According to that unerring guardian of Beltway bloviation–ABC News’s The Note–“Democrats Are Dropping Like Flies.” A contradiction, you say? Turns out that it, too, is the Democrats’ fault: “You know things are bad for Democrats when a move that actually improved their chances in this fall’s elections…was universally interpreted as yet another sign of the party’s bleak prospects,” explains Wall Street Journal ace columnist Gerald Seib. (Remember, he said “universally.”)

This take about retirements gives a different spin on who’s jumping ship. Yes, not everything is going perfectly for the Democrats, but things aren’t as bad as the MSM (Mainstream Media) claims. With the MSM falsely lumping these retirements with the stabilized, but not growing economy, and the Dems inability to pass healthcare reform, power is being stripped from the party in charge, and a false narrative about the state of the nation is told.

And the question not being asked is, “If these 14 Democrats are jumping ship, what are the 20 Republicans fleeing from?”

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