Journalistic Issues

By Warner Todd Huston | August 4, 2008 | 6:38 AM EDT

Have you noticed that the old media standby story of the homeless has not been pursued much in the last four or five years? Some may remember how the media constantly bemoaned the state of the homeless during the Reagan and H.W. Bush years in office, and how the media constantly used this tale as a club with which to beat those two Republican presidents over the head. Folks like Rush Limbaugh, I recall, noticed how this standard media go-to story disappeared once Clinton became president and postulated that it would fast return once G.W.Bush took the Oval Office. But, the homeless has not made much of a media come back. In fact, that meme has virtually evaporated as a major media focal point. And there is a reason for that. Under the Bush administration, homelessness has actually decreased by 12% per year between 2005 and 2007.

David Frum of NRO found the lack of media attention of interest as it does us. He notes that this report of the amazing improvement of homelessness, due to the hard work of Bush appointee Phil Mangano, has generally been absent from the media. Saying, "I'll be very curious tomorrow morning to see where and how this story gets placed," Frum wonders if the story will make much ehadway in the old media. He notes that the story didn't make the Washington Post, but that The New York Times did pick it up (and I'll note the AP story as linked above, too).

By Warner Todd Huston | August 3, 2008 | 10:55 AM EDT

Talk about a puff piece, this Associated Press short is a story with absolutely no substance. Not only that but after seeing the headline and then reading the story, one is hard pressed to believe they belong together. This Amy Forliti puffery is incongruously headlined "Protesters expected to transform the streets outside GOP convention into marketplace of ideas," yet there isn't any discussion at all of any such "marketplace" or about any real "ideas" in the story. In fact, the only "ideas" are ages old, stale and losing their grip among more Americans everyday.

Oh, Forliti talks about protests filled with prosaic anti-war sentiment, ages old oil protests, anarchists and 9/11 truthers, but there is no discussion of real "ideas" in this piece. Nor does the piece discuss exactly who is organizing these protests, people who are themselves filled with the dead ideas of another era -- just for instance the United For Peace And Justice (UFPJ) is mostly a socialist organization and they are always a part of these coalitions of misfits.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 2, 2008 | 7:55 AM EDT

The Washington Post's Deborah Howell has a howeller in the Aug. 3 edition of the paper revealing how shocked and amazed she was that her own paper had a lopsided tally of Obama photographs compared to how many McCain photos appear in its pages. Of course, the amusing thing isn't that the Post had far more Obama photos than McCain pics but that, regardless of the raw numbers staring her in the face, Howell still insisted it wasn't because of bias. Apparently it's just because Obama has a "great smile." I guess we can mark that trenchant observation as the best reason to cover political candidates as far as the Washington Post is concerned. It's a big win for a justification for hard news, surely.

Howell apparently was contacted by a retired USA Today reporter who alerted her to the singular fact that Obama's photo appeared more often than did McCain's in the paper's A section from June 4 to July 14. Howell got curious and replicated that study, but expanded it to the entire paper and found interesting results.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 1, 2008 | 11:00 AM EDT

<p><img height="130" hspace="0" src="http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,1106896,00.jpg" width="130" align="right" border="0" />Apparently, CNN decided that they didn't have enough video of rioting in their recent story on unrest in Belgrade, Serbia, so they decided to add in footage of rioting in Budapest to sexy up the story. I have to say, if the Kosovars intend to make the cut with CNN in the future, they'd better start rioting to the satisfaction of CNN's video editors. Either that, or CNN can start showing us all some truthful video with their stories. Whatever the case, CNN's misstep doesn’t just make <i>them</i> look bad, it makes all Americans look bad.</p>

<p>On July 30, CNN aired a report in their international news titled "Serb Ultranationalists Rally" in which footage of riots in two different cities and two different countries were edited together to represent the unrest in Kosovo. Serbian TV was a bit mystified by this embellishment, and rightfully so. RTS asserted that since CNN didn't have violent enough footage for their riots story, they "resorted to their favorite Hollywood trick" of "montaging and pasting together the sequences from Budapest and Belgrade protests" to accompany the story. (See foreign language report from <a href="http://www.rts.co.yu/page/stories/ci.html?view=story&id=8574&sectionId=2... RTS TV</a>)</p>

By Warner Todd Huston | August 1, 2008 | 3:51 AM EDT

Barack Obama is again unfairly throwing out the race card at an opponent. This week Obama was warning that his Republican opponents will assault him with racist attacks, but is dropping this warning even though no one has yet done so. On July 30th, Obama said at three different campaign stops in Missouri that McCain and his backers will attack him because he "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills." This isn't the first time that Obama has thrown out the race card at opponents that clearly did not play it first themselves.

For all his own sly use of the race card and his warnings that opponents will use his race against him, Obama claims to stand against racism in this campaign. This is a noble stance to take, naturally. Like Obama, any upstanding American should oppose using race charged attacks in political campaigns. Yet, for all his moralizing on the subject, why is it that Obama is staying silent as members of his own party -- not to mention his own race -- in Tennessee use racial slurs to attack another member of his own party? And why is it that the national media has ignored this story? Perhaps its because the candidate being attacked, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, is not black but is Jewish? And perhaps its because his attackers are members of Tennessee's black religious community? And perhaps it is because the Congressional Black Caucus is funding Cohen's Democratic opponent, Nikki Tinker? And perhaps it is because Tinker is benefiting from this anti-Semitic attack against Cohen? Perhaps the media is hoping to hold out long enough for the issue to go away? And what of Obama?

These are vexing, but telling questions.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 31, 2008 | 10:18 AM EDT

Yes, there are two Americas. The one where John Edwards used to have a scholarship program that he intended to set up as an example for all of America to follow... and the one where he cancels that scholarship program. Is it because he isn't running for president any more? Since Edwards has other things to do now -- like hiding from the media in his mistresses' house and maybe getting a few $400 haircuts -- Edwards has pulled the plug on his pilot scholarship program in North Carolina. It was for the kids... now it isn't. As the media ignores Edwards' love child story, any takers if they will ignore this one, too?

In May of 2007, to great fanfare, Edwards rolled out his "College for Everyone" plan saying that this was a college plan for "any student wishing to work hard." At that time, the well coiffed, two-time presidential candidate said that he wanted "every young person" to go to college and touted his new program then beginning at Greene Central High School in Snow Hill, NC.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 31, 2008 | 5:02 AM EDT

Starting off with the often ridiculed 1998 hyperbole from writer Toni Morrison who decided that Bill Clinton was the nation's first black president, "Asian Pop" writer,Jeff Yang of the San Francisco Chronicle, has decided that Barack Obama could be the first "Asian American president" if elected in November. Apparently Yang is unaware of how much ridicule has been heaped upon Morrison, and deservingly so, and he is lining up for some smacking around himself with this outlandish Chronicle piece.

We all remember that Morrison claimed that Clinton was some sort of honorary black man in the 90s. Apparently, because Clinton payed attention to -- and incessantly pandered to -- the black power establishment in the 90s, that was all that was required for a race-graft. At least that almost makes some sense, if only metaphorically. Now Yang takes Morrison's loose connections one better, though. Apparently, all Obama has to have done to become an "Asian" is to have known some during his lifetime. After all, Obama is not known for being a politician constantly pandering to the Asian community like Clinton pandered to the black power structure. Does anyone recall Barack Obama sitting in a church as an Asian minister "God D_mns" America? But, why heck, he did grow up with a few Asian-like folks. So maybe there's a little sumpthin' in this!

By Warner Todd Huston | July 30, 2008 | 7:28 AM EDT

Jonathan Weisman is reporting on his "The Trail" blog that presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama told House Democrats that he believes himself to be the symbol of all that is good in America. It appears that he is beginning to believe the over-the-top hype that he really is the Obamessiah for America. So, will this little Washington Post blog post make waves in the media? Will Barack's increasingly out-of-control ego become the talk of the day?

Weisman reports that candidate Obama met in a closed door meeting with House Democrats and he let loose with a "real zinger," as Weisman put it. He told the rapt audience of House members that his candidacy was the moment "the world is waiting for" -- as if the whole world clamored for his presence? He went even further than that proving that he may be losing touch with reality and believing his own surreal campaign rhetoric.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 30, 2008 | 3:57 AM EDT

How many Germans would vote for Barack Obama for our president? CNN claims to know. During the last weekend that Barack Obama was in Germany, CNN used a graphic on the Wolf Blitzer show that claimed that 72% of Germans preferred Obama with only a mere 11% who favored John McCain. Of course, CNN didn't think it relevant to mention that only 501 Germans were even polled, nor that the poll was conducted by German pollster Emnid for a notorious tabloid newspaper named Bild -- not the most trustworthy of sources. This is the same newspaper that published with "gushing immaturity" an Obamtastic "report" by one of their giddy female reporters who supposedly worked out with Obama in his hotel gym after which Obama claimed to have been "hustled."

So where did this lopsided, 72% approval rating come from? How was the poll conducted? What questions were asked? How do we know what level of knowledge the respondents had about our candidates? Why should we just assume that this is even a relevant result to our elections? I guess all that CNN needed was to show that Obama is loved by Germany, no other investigation needed.

To give you a flavor of the sort of stories that comprises "news" with Bild tabloid, a perusal of some recent stories are in order. With such "news" as an interview with one Tatjana Gsell headlined "I Love Sex and Eroticism," and another touting that "Sexy Claudia is Lahm's New Neighbor" (Philipp Lahm is a German Sports figure), various Amy Winehouse stories and at least one story with a photo of actress Bai Ling bending over showing her breast popping out of her dress, you can see the caliber of stories that fills Bild Newspaper. They are also chock-a-block with sports stories galore. So, not much for hard news, to be sure.

By Brad Wilmouth | July 29, 2008 | 3:32 PM EDT

On Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the show's "From the Political Grapevine" segment, FNC host Hume gave viewers another glimpse at the admiration offered terrorists in the Middle East as he reported that the Al-Jazeera network threw a birthday party for Samir Kuntar, a notorious terrorist recently released by Israel, who had previously been greeted by thousands of adoring fans when he returned to Beirut.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 29, 2008 | 9:47 AM EDT

In yet another example of why the west might not beat the onslaught of radical Islamofascism, Minette Marrin of the Timesonline thinks she has found a solution to the clash of cultures. Marrin details the extremism evinced by too many Muslims in England and then posits a solution: ban all religion. Talk about an absurd idea. It's as foolish as throwing out the baby with the bath water.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 28, 2008 | 11:37 PM EDT

The Associated Press injected an editorial comment into the news... again. A few days ago, the AP issued a piece headlined Senate Republicans block heating aid bill, in which the AP made it seem as if Republicans don't care about "the poor" and are only interested in mere political partisanship. This report featured quotes showing how wonderful and caring the Democrats are but not a single quote from any Republican to explain their stance. It also clearly discounted the GOP position while positively spinning the Democratic position.

The story concerns the GOP's blocking of a Senate Democrat bill to double the Federal aid to "the poor" to subsidize their heating and air-conditioning bills. First of all, I wasn't aware that it was Constitutionally mandated that "the poor" get free air-conditioning, but that is another story. The editorializing comes in with the second paragraph.