The dispute over Indiana's voter ID law that is headed to the Supreme Court in January is as much a partisan political drama as a legal tussle.
On one side are mainly Republican backers of the law, including the Bush administration, who say state-produced photo identification is a prudent measure intended to cut down on vote fraud. Yet there have been no Indiana prosecutions of in-person voter fraud — the kind the law is supposed to prevent.
On the other side are mainly Democratic opponents who call voter ID a modern-day poll tax that will disproportionately affect poor, minority and elderly voters — who tend to back Democrats. Yet, a federal judge found that opponents of the law were unable to produce evidence of a single, individual Indiana resident who had been barred from voting because of the law.
How thoughtful of the AP to give NewsBusters a Christmas contestant for “Name That Party.” Consider this post our thank you note for the timely gift!
In this December 25 article, the AP buried the party affiliation of Democratic Philadelphia mayor John F. Street in the very last sentence of a ten-paragraph article about the mayor taking an extra $111,000 in pay raises that he rejected while in office. He now wants to take the money through a program he he once vetoed, claiming the city couldn't afford it. He then played the race card and asked as a politician elected mainly by "poor black people" "what will I do" without the extra money.
Not only did the AP bury Street's party, it didn't label him a Dem outright, instead indirectly referred to a “fellow Democrat” as the only party identification. (Thnx to NBer DaBird)
Also missing are references to Street's financial troubles, some relating to his office, and several corruption scandals, earning him a 2005 Time magazine award as one of the worst top-three big city mayors. Note the many spots for a label:
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell served up a flimsy excuse to a concerned reader wondering why the Post doesn't have Post staffers reporting on the Bilal Hussein controversy, rather than just running AP wire stories. Hussein worked for AP as a photographer.
Blogger Scott Johnson shared the reader's e-mail and Howell's reply, then added that even if one accepts Howell's excuse, there's no reason Post media reporter Howard Kurtz couldn't track developments in the story.
But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.
"CIA tapes destroyed despite court order" blares an Associated Press headline today. But the court order allegedly breached applied to videotapes in possession of the U.S. military of interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, not videos of interrogations held at secret CIA sites in foreign countries.
But that's okay, insists AP writer Matt Apuzzo as "Attorneys say that might not matter."
But what attorneys? Apuzzo offers up attorney David H. Remes, "a lawyer for Yemeni citizen Mahmoad Abdah and others." According to Apuzzo, he's "asked [U.S. District Judge Henry H.] Kennedy this week to schedule a hearing on the issue. Kennedy gave the government until Friday to respond."
While it's hard to begrudge a defense lawyer from exploring any and all potential legal manuevers to assist his client -- that IS his job, after all -- it's notable that Mr. Remes is also an active Democratic campaign contributor, having given $500 to Sen. Hillary Clinton in July 2007.
On December 10, Ontario teenager Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her father, allege Canadian investigators, over her refusal to wear the hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women. The story has caught fire on the Web, particularly among bloggers interested in news pertaining to radical Islam.
As horrifying as the story is, it was only given five paragraphs on page A23 of the December 12 Washington Post, and that from a Reuters story. What's more, Post editors served up readers a bland headline that failed to hint that a religious reason was behind the violence: "Canadian Teen Dies; Father Is Charged."
Director's Note: In my rush to get to a meeting, I neglected to give credit where credit is due. David G., you are indeed the Man. -- SM
(Yet Another) Smarter Than the MediaAs wily and wary as we have come to know the media to be, the many members of Team Clinton just keep out-Foxing them (apologies for the mention of the Hellish network).
In a great many of the media's post-game analyses of the Thursday, December 6th Mitt Romney religion speech, including that of the Associated Press, we are treated to the negative reactions thereto of one Costas Panagopoulos, who is rightly (if only partially) identified as "a political science professor at Fordham University".
Amongst his many analytical stylings on Romney's effort:
In reading the Associated Press's 9:09 a.m. report covering the Bureau of Labor Statistics November Employment Situation Report, one can't help but think that it was hoping for worse news than arrived. Unemployment remained at 4.7%, and 94,000 jobs were added during the month, beating expectations of 4.8% and 70,000, respectively.
After spending five paragraphs relaying the news, it began hitting us with negative commentary that almost had to have been drafted in advance (scare words bolded):
Still, a lingering fear among economists is that consumers will cut back on their spending, throwing the economy into a tailspin. The odds of a recession have grown this year, although Federal Reserve officials, the Bush administration and others are hopeful the country can avoid one.
Then, after brief foray into the good news about wage growth (up 0.5% in November, beating expectations of 0.3%), AP wrapped by going into four paragraphs that almost could have been written into a DNC press release (over-the-top negative words and phrases bolded by me):
The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post are all referring to a package of recently-defeated Venezuelan constitutional amendments as "reforms." In reality, those so-called reforms were all bent on amassing more power and influence in the hands of Hugo Chavez.
Washington Post's Juan Forero gave readers early of the December 3 Home Edition article (published before the outcome of the December 2 referendum was finalized) an idea of what was at stake for everyday Venezuelans waking up this morning.:
Oh, how Old Media wants a recession. Too bad the economy isn't cooperating.
The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on the Manufacturing Sector, covering about 15% of the non-government economy, was just released this morning, and led as follows:
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November for the 10th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 73rd consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
True, the reading of 50.8% was barely above the 50% cutoff point for expansion. But it's barely lower than the 50.9% turned in last month, and still came in slightly ahead of expectations, which averaged 50.4%, according to the Associated Press, and 50.7%, according to Bloomberg.
This makes three out of three fourth quarter ISM reports showing continued growth -- two in manufacturing, plus October's non-manufacturing report that came in at 55.8%, up from 54.8% in September. If Wednesday's ISM report on non-manufacturing for November comes in at 55.9% or higher, it will means that the economy as a whole, as ISM measures it, is not only growing, but growing faster. Recession, reschmession.
Journalism's defenders often describe it as a profession or craft unto itself, and minimize the importance, or even sometimes the relevance, of subject matter expertise.
That lack of subject matter expertise, and the apparent unwillingness to seek out a source of that expertise when necessary, probably explain how a Hillary Clinton whopper has survived on the campaign trail for so long.
The surveyor will see you now Journalist and Pollster (Either Or)
As an increasing number of Americans exhibit knowledge of and confidence in the success of the surge in Iraq, pollsters seeking a gloomier picture have turned to their single most reliable focus group for bad news. They have in fact skipped the middle men and women and gone to its very font: the media.
Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a (Pew Research Center) poll released on Wednesday said.
One wonders if this is the same 90% of correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice; certainly a great deal of overlap exists between the two polling samples.
Old Media reporters have worked themselves into such a lather trying to talk down the economy that you have to wonder if retailers got lulled into believing them.
The Associated Press's report on Black Friday sales by reporter Anne D'Innocenzio went through the normal good news/"yeah, but" routine (bolds are mine throughout).
First, the good news:
The nation's retailers had a robust start to the holiday shopping season, according to results announced Saturday by a national research group that tracks sales at retail outlets across the country.
According to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets, total sales rose 8.3 percent to about $10.3 billion on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, compared with $9.5 billion on the same day a year ago. ShopperTrak had expected an increase of no more than 4 percent to 5 percent.
But in bringing out the supposed "bad news," D'Innocenzio may have inadvertently exposed a retailer miscalculation:
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
Here is the kind of lapse in logic that drives me crazy (no pun intended). The AP today has a story headline that just makes me cringe: "SUV plunges into canal, killing 7 people inside." Now here is the problem, HOW did an SUV go about killing these poor people? Did it unpark itself, drive across town, slam open its doors and gobble up some folks waiting at a bus stop and then drive them into a canal? Should we be wary of every SUV on the street for fear that it may kidnap us only to drive us off cliffs or into canals? Or is it more likely, AP, that a driver was responsible for killing the passengers INSIDE the SUV? Isn't it a tad more likely that the SUV did not kill anyone, but that the actions of the human at its wheel was the culprit?
The Anchoress, a three-time Weblog Awards finalist and 2007 Catholic Blog Awards Winner (congratulations!) in the Best Political/Social Commentary category (scroll down at link to see it), delivered a cold but necessary shower earlier this evening to those of us who are tempted to exaggerate or overstate the impact New Media is having on most Americans.
I'll bet that a lot of us can relay similar stories to the ones she referred to in her very perceptive post ("Good news leaks past the embargo on good news…"; links that contradict the Old Media-driven beliefs described and bolds/italics were included in her original):
Unfortunately, it is still true that until a new president is installed in the WH, preferably one with a D after the name, only the downsides are newsworthy, and that holds true in every subject. Every subject. My elderly family members are convinced that everything, everywhere, is going to hell, and they are fretful and terrified. They think everyone is out of work, the economy is in a recession, the war in Iraq is lost and there are no real terrorist threats - that’s just made-up stuff. They’re sure America is dying. They are sure the world is headed for famine. They are depressed and do not want to send out Christmas cards, because how can you do that when so much is bad in the world?
It seems that no bad Hillary Clinton deed goes unresponded to.
As we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, this by itself is not an issue. That it is the national media that is leading this charge is. One need focus on but the latest corners of the Clinton pantheon to come to light to see the full court press the press puts on when their girl needs them.
In an October 10 Boston Globe interview, Senator Clinton let her socialism slip a bit, saying "I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all." (Emphasis ours.)
The Associated Press wrote up the story with very minor modifications that mentioned the Homeland Security issues Alzaree acquaintance Wagdi Ghoneim had with the US Department of Homeland Security. The AP's headline writer then, incredibly, applied this headline (link is to MSNBC; headline is present at several other sites):
The search for bad news relating to Iraq must be getting awfully difficult.
First example -- From the "Looking for, and Not Finding, a Dark Cloud on a Sunny Day"Department(HT Confederate Yankee, who says "you can almost feel their pain"):
'Fragging' Is Rare in Iraq, Afghanistan
American troops killed their own commanders so often during the Vietnam War that the crime earned its own name - "fragging."
But since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has charged only one soldier with killing his commanding officer, a dramatic turnabout that most experts attribute to the all-volunteer military.
"Would the media laugh at a nude chocolate Mohammed?"
So asks Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religion editor Frank Lockwood with the headline to a October 16 blog post hitting fellow journalists for a double standard in reporting insults to religious faith.
Reacting with disdain towards a flippant Associated Press article about a confectionery rendering of a naked Jesus Christ, Lockwood answers with a resounding no:
Can you imagine the national media laughing it up about an anatomically-correct chocolate Mohammed, on display in Manhattan with his genitals on display? They'd be too afraid to print the pictures. They don't have the nerve to print artistic renderings of the Prophet with his clothes on!
Is Associated Press economics writer Martin Crutsinger quietly converting to supply-side economics?
This is noteworthy, because Crutsinger has usually been the go-to reporter for uncalled-for gloom and doom about the economy for at least the past few years (a few examples are here, here, here, and here).
Here are the specifics about Crutsinger's possible epiphany. In May, covering the record US Treasury receipts in April, the AP reporter told readers the following about why the Uncle Sam's budget was running at a deficit (though there is no byline at the MSNBC link, Crutsinger is indeed the author; the now-expired Yahoo! story I linked to in May at this post did have his byline; bold is mine):
The federal budget was in surplus for four years from 1998 through 2001 as the long economic expansion helped push revenues higher. But the 2001 recession, the cost of fighting a global war on terror and the loss of revenue from President Bush’s tax cuts sent the budget back into the red starting in 2002.
But Thursday, in writing about the full fiscal year ended September 30 deficit of $162.8 billion just reported by the US Treasury -- over 34% lower than it was in fiscal 2006, and $249 billion lower than in fiscal 2004 -- Crutsinger had quite a different take (bold is mine):
There's a fabulous column by Ed Driscoll (HT to NixGuy in an e-mail) about the evolution of media and reporting from the invention of radio to our current circumstances.
It's the title of Driscoll's work, "Atlas Mugged: How a Gang of Scrappy, Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media," that misses the mark a bit.
Ed has the "stranglehold" part nailed:
By the early 1970s, mass media had reached its zenith (if you’ll pardon the pun). Most Americans were getting their news from one of three TV networks’ half-hour nightly broadcasts. With the exception of New York, most big cities had only one or two primary newspapers. And no matter what a modern newspaper’s lineage, by and large its articles, except for local issues, came from global wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters; it took its editorial lead from the New York Times; and it claimed to be impartial (while usually failing miserably).
I'm no expert on firearms or anything, but I'm pretty sure spent ammunition doesn't look shiny and pristine. So why did the AFP (and Yahoo!, which syndicated the photo) swallow that notion hook, line, and sinker?
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) recently told an Illinois woman that while his grown sons have never served in the military, they are displaying their patriotism by campaigning heavily for their father's nomination for the presidency.
The Politico and USA Today have picked up on the item. USA Today's "On Politics" blog noted in an entry posted at 11:45 Eastern that:
The questioner, 41-year-old Rachel Griffiths of Milan, Ill., told Susan later that she is not a Republican and is in fact a member of a "Progressive Action for the Common Good."
Asked if she was satisfied by Romney's answer, Griffiths said:
Mayor George Darden, of Spring Valley, New York, is a Democrat who has been caught hiring illegal immigrants to work for his suburban village but you wouldn't know he is a Democrat by the coverage his story is getting. In fact, of the several stories thus far, not one even mentions his Party. But, an even bigger mystery is why this story isn't getting wider notice?
On the 17th this story of a Mayor of a New York city personally approaching illegal immigrants on street corners and hiring them to work for the village was first reported in local papers. It seems awfully shocking that an elected official would personally violate so many US immigration and work laws all at one time, yet no mention of the man's Party has surfaced nor have we heard much from this story on a national level. How much hype would this story get from the AP, do you imagine, if this Mayor had been a Republican? And why has several days gone by with so few MSM outlets picking this story up? Perhaps that this Mayor isn't a Republican the national media finds it less than compelling?