Journalistic Issues

By P.J. Gladnick | August 15, 2008 | 9:34 AM EDT

Although the mainstream media has finally started to report on the John Edwards scandal now that he has admitted to an affair on ABC's Nightline following several reports by the National Enquirer, they continue to fall way behind in investigative reporting compared to the blogosphere.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 15, 2008 | 7:24 AM EDT

Another day another "study" of dubious worth. This time it is Science Daily letting us know that "Latinas" in the United States have high rates of depression because of that dreaded "Americanization" they apparently unfairly face. So now, just the gall-darn, odiousness of becoming "Americanized" is enough to send "Latinas" to the funny farm, I guess. But, it seems to me that this "study" tends to say that it is single motherhood and out of wedlock pregnancies causing the depression not the fact that they are "Latinas" that have become acculturated to American ways.

Just look how horrible it is for Latinas to become Americans:

A study of 439 U.S. and Mexican-born Latinas seeking pregnancy and postpartum services at public health clinics in San Antonio uncovered elevated levels of depression among the more "Americanized" women, report researchers from The University of Texas School of Public Health and The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

By Matthew Sheffield | August 14, 2008 | 12:52 PM EDT

Over the past 10 years or so, one of the most commonly asked questions in media circles is why the public seems to be increasingly tuning out and unsubscribing from America's establishment media.

Various reasons have been offered, including the emergence of interactive media, increased work hours, more commuting - all of which aren't without merit. One explanation that usually isn't discussed is that, just maybe, the public is sick of the media picking and choosing what they think is news.

And while it is amusing to see journalists who oppose government media intervention on behalf of the public (FCC) arrogating that privilege to themselves, we'd all be better off without the laughs because the hypocrisy is frustrating the national discourse. Instead of reporting the news, far too many journalists have now taken it upon themselves to protect the public from it.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 14, 2008 | 5:14 AM EDT

Rush Limbaugh killed some church goers in Tennessee last July. That is the message from a columnist for a local New York newspaper chain. Now, I've listened to Rush Limbaugh many times. Because of my schedule, I cannot listen every day, so certainly I have not heard every word the man has ever uttered, but I am sure that you won't be able to find a time when he told people to go out and kill liberals. Neither have I ever heard Sean Hannity advocate murder. Michael Savage.... well, I haven't heard it but I almost wouldn't be surprised, almost. Still, even Savage is smart enough not to do so I am sure. Regardless of a complete lack of such incitement to murder made by these "right-wing Shock jocks," as she puts it, Jenna Kern-Rugile is sure that the killings of the members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville last July is the fault of Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage.

Her premise is that the "rhetoric of extreme right pundits" such as Limbaugh, Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly "might" have caused shooter Jim D. Adkisson, 58, to gather up his guns and perpetrate a murder spree on July 27 at the Unitarian Church in Knoxville.

By Jacob S. Lybbert | August 13, 2008 | 7:21 PM EDT

Jeff Poor's recent post (picked up by Drudge) reported on the potential return of the Fairness Doctrine under a President Obama--specifically for the purpose of the governing the internet. He quoted FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell who said the following: 

By Matthew Sheffield | August 13, 2008 | 2:59 PM EDT

John Edwards media coverageAfter refusing the report on the affair of John Edwards, the elite media are continuing to embarrass themselves in their rationalizations for why they failed the public. Here's Michael Oreskes, theAssociated Press's managing editor for U.S. news:

"The standard of proof for confirming and publishing information on this kind of private, intimate behavior is and should be very high. I have not the slightest regret for sticking to those high standards. Getting it first is great. Getting it right is essential," he said in an email to Editor and Publisher.

The AP has even issued a news story defending itself, essentially saying it was too hard for the multimillion-dollar organization to work the story:

By Warner Todd Huston | August 13, 2008 | 7:44 AM EDT

Blender Magazine, self billed as "the ultimate guide to music and more," is famous for compiling "lists" of music for one thing or another. This month they've gone politics with the candidate's top ten favorite songs as reported by the campaign offices of John McCain and Barack Obama. To make a mountain out of this mole hill, they also invited as commentators on these lists aging funnyman Randy Newman and exhibitionist Gregg Gillis who goes by the stage name "Girl Talk."

For the most part, it is all pointless gibberish that these two "experts" are blathering concerning the two candidate's music picks. But two things stand out... but first the Blender lists:

By Warner Todd Huston | August 13, 2008 | 5:17 AM EDT

Jill Stanek has done yeoman's work on uncovering the fact that Barack Obama and his surrogates have been outright lying about Obama's constant votes against the Live-Birth abortion bills when he was in office in the State legislature. His claims have been a staple of Old Media reports from the beginning, but now that Stanek has revealed the truth we will have to see if the Old Media corrects the record or if they suddenly just go mum on the subject like they have so far.

The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) both in the Illinois and Federal legislatures was meant to make illegal death by neglect of born but unwanted infants. These bills were opposed by the bulk of the Democrat Party because of the fact that the original bills could have been construed to say that a pre-birth fetus was a "person" that was protected by law. So, the bill in Congress was altered to address that concern by adding a "neutrality clause" that made it clear that the bill would not protect a fetus in utero.

As Obama continues to tell the tale, as a State Senator he said he voted against the Illinois bill because the Federal "neutrality clause" was not included and that therefore he could not support the Illinois bill. Turns out he is not telling the truth about this fact. Even worse, he knows better because he was part of the legislative committee that added that very "neutrality clause" to the very bill he voted against in 2003.

By Jacob S. Lybbert | August 12, 2008 | 7:46 AM EDT

Blame the economy.

In addition to Elizabeth Edwards, the source (National Enquirer), and plain old bias, add economic hardship to the list of reasons the MSM failed to investigate the Edwards scandal. 

Howard Kurtz, in his "Media Notes" column surveyed the scene surrounding the deafening silence of the media gatekeepers:

By early last week, journalists were in the awkward position of refusing to report on explosive allegations that were almost certain to knock the former North Carolina senator out of the Democratic convention. They were in a box of their own making, one that came to feel airtight and uncomfortable.

When critics, especially on the right, accused the media of protecting a Democrat because of liberal bias, journalists were unable to respond, because to do so would be to acknowledge the very thing they were declining to report.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 12, 2008 | 3:40 AM EDT

Remember during Bush's run for the White House in 2000 when it was announced that Dick Cheney was his choice for vice president and the media meme became that Cheney added "gravitas" to the ticket? This is a small example of manufactured news. It wasn't the fact that Cheney added much to the ticket, but that the media universally adopted a single word to describe the effect that Cheney had on the race. This is an example of the herd mentality in the Old Media. Sometimes, like with the choice of "gravitas" in 2000, that herd mentality is somewhat innocuous. But, other times it becomes an impediment to truth. Paul Campos found such an impediment a few weeks ago with the ridiculous worry that Barack Obama was "too skinny" to become president.

Saying, "This is a cautionary tale about how journalism sometimes gets practiced in contemporary America," I find reason to agree with Campos' assessment. He came to the conclusion that the "contemporary media echo chamber" has come to operate by "mistaking its own weird little obsessions for the actual concerns of the audience it's supposed to be edifying."

By Matthew Sheffield | August 11, 2008 | 11:43 AM EDT

Global warming alarmismOne of the worst side effects of the media's ideological diversity problem is their often flagrant double standards. Over at Slate, Ron Rosenbaum looks at how Columbia Journalism Review urges journalists to be more willing to cover unpopular views but later in the very same issue article patronizingly lectures reporters to stop letting global warming skeptics trick the public.

Things are made worse by the fact that in the magazine's dissent editorial, CJR puts forward Jeremiah Wright as a figure who should not be shunted to the sidelines. In other words, Jeremiah Wright and his brand of smarmy pseudo-Marxist racial diatribes are more legitimate than disspasionate scientists who are urging us to be cautious about jumping to conclusions that humans can effect the entire world's temperature. Astonishing. An excerpt from Rosenbaum below the fold:

By Warner Todd Huston | August 11, 2008 | 5:23 AM EDT

So, why did the Old Media seem to miss the John Edwards Love Affair story? Well, maybe it was because the Old Media hadn't deigned to decide for us that it was "news" until after the New Media had chewed up and spit out the story for days and days? Apparently, that is what David Carr of The New York Times thinks, anyway. In an interview with CNN he alludes to the fact that he is used to the Old Media deciding when something is officially "news" and that maybe he and his contemporary journalists have lost that level of control they were used to enjoying. This fall from grace is being seen most readily in the Edwards story that the New Media had digested for a week before the Old Media got to it

CNN's Election Center Blog posted the Carr interview on August 10 with the headline "Edwards affair: Was media part of a 'conspiracy of silence'?" This CNN posting purports to explore why the Old Media seemed absent from the story for so long?

The CNN piece cites many factors from the fact that the Old Media has a disdain for National Enquirer stories to a claim that the Old Media is reticent to exploit sex stories. The former is a sensible precaution and the later an outright laugher. After all, the Old Media had no problem whatsoever in exploiting the rumors of George H.W. Bush's affair, Newt Gingrich's affair, Newt's successor to be Bob Livingston’s affair, the John McCain affair story, Larry Craig's restroom stall story, or Mark Foley's Page Scandal... but then again, THOSE are Republican sex scandals. The same delicacy the Old Media handles sex stories with as claimed by CNN does not exist for those sorts of stories.