Journalistic Issues

By Warner Todd Huston | August 7, 2008 | 2:49 AM EDT

<p><img src="http://www.mpt.org/publicsquare/statecircle/images/050722/050722_mosk.jpg" align="right" border="0" hspace="10" vspace="10" />Amanda Carpenter has an interesting little blurb over at <a href="http://townhall.com/Columnists/AmandaCarpenter/2008/08/06/washington_pos... where she reports on Townhall's catching the Washington Post <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/06/AR200808... three donors</a> as McCain contributors when, in reality, these donors did not donate to the McCain campaign at all. It seems some due diligence was dropped at the Washington Post, for sure. Good thing the new media was there to correct the story!</p>

<p>In his story headlined "Bundler Collects from Unlikely Sources," the Post's Matthew Mosk thought he had a way to insinuate that McCain was taking campaign donations from some "unlikely" Muslims. Mosk detailed what he thought was the campaign donations from three people, Ibrahim Marabeh, and Nadia and Shawn Abdalla, each with Muslim sounding names, that he claimed donated to the McCain campaign through a campaign "bundler" named Harry Sargeant III -- a bundler being a campaign supporter that goes out and gathers many donations from friends and associates for his candidate of choice.</p>

<p>Mosk apparently thought that Harry Sargeant III was suspicious because he owns an oil-trading company and the three others apparently seemed suspicious merely because of the sound of their names. But at her <a href="http://townhall.com/blog/g/8b79d390-1cbf-4550-8c58-824fc5c53ffa">Townhall blog</a>, Carpenter discovered in short order than none of the four donors in the Washington Post story donated to the McCain campaign at all.</p>

By Warner Todd Huston | August 6, 2008 | 11:23 AM EDT

<p><img vspace="10" hspace="10" border="0" align="right" src="http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news_images/20080805/P1SK-1.jpg" />Over at <a href="http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/08/bush-gots-seoul-pro-american-p... Pundit</a>, Jim Hoft introduces us to <a href="http://amyproctor.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/5/anti-bush-protests-fizzl... Proctor's report</a> on the amazingly large crowd of South Koreans that came out to welcome George W. Bush to their country. It's a good thing that Amy clued us in here in America, because our media sure ignored the story of this large turnout.</p>

<p>Amy directs our attention to <a href="http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/08/117_28751.html">The Korea Times</a> report that revealed that 374 "conservative groups" intended to "stage a large-scale demonstration welcoming Bush, at Seoul Plaza," and boy did they ever come through. It turns out, the anti-Bush protesters were only able to muster a could of hundred protesters while the pro-Bush rally saw <a href="http://africa.reuters.com/world/news/usnSEO151106.html">15,000 Koreans turn out</a> to participate.</p>

<p>Amy reminds us that none of the pro-Bush rallies were sponsored by the South Korean government, too.</p>

By Mark Finkelstein | August 6, 2008 | 7:42 AM EDT
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool?  Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?

When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square.  Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .

View video here.

Mika touched things off with a news item about the Olympic torch.
By Warner Todd Huston | August 6, 2008 | 4:04 AM EDT

Well, the Associated Press is certainly living up to its new rules of being opinion editorialists instead of reporters if the following headline is any indication: "Obama links energy troubles to unpopular Cheney." This was unleashed on the world by the AP on August 5. So, I ask you, does "unpopular Cheney" sound more like opinion than it does simple news reporting?

Certainly we can face facts that the liberal press has succeeded in pillorying Vice President Cheney since almost the minute he stepped into the VP Mansion at the United States Naval Observatory. It is, therefore, a fact that Cheney has a low approval rating. But it seems to me that the headline branding Cheney "unpopular" is somewhat unseemly and opinionated as opposed to newsworthy.

By Lynn Davidson | August 5, 2008 | 6:23 PM EDT

As if the media's coverage of Cuba isn't fawning enough, now they are using “expert” analysis from three professors that the US government has identified as spies.

Babalu Blog reported that, according to Army counterintelligence officer Chris Simmons, the US government believes at least three of the media's academic authorities on Cuba are actually spies working for the Cuban government. The suspected spies include a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, a Miami Herald board member and columnist and the director of Georgetown University's “Cuba Project.”

If these allegations are true, the danger isn't their potential to gather secrets. Instead, it's their ability to quietly shape opinion and influence public policy on Cuba through powerful academic groups, frequent media statements and slanted analyses as they maneuver within elite academic-think tank circles--and even brief government agencies and the military.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 5, 2008 | 4:16 AM EDT

It appears that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has dumped his appearances on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Host Olbermann issued a DailyKos diary explaining the dust up on Monday, August 4. According to Olbermann, the problem came in when Milbank violated Keith Olbermann's well-known journalistic standards. Of course, I jest about that... not that there was a disagreement but that there are any journalistic standards in the Olbermann camp.

Now, for a man that is supposed to make his mark with words and for a man the left constantly claims is eloquent, Olbermann's diary explanation is quite badly written. But, the gist of the matter is that Olbermann has supposedly been asking Milbank for "nearly a week" if an Obama quote in one of his Washington Post stories was sourced and reported accurately. Apparently Milbank took exception to having his own journalistic integrity questioned by a sports guy.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 4, 2008 | 11:37 PM EDT

The L.A.Times's Andrew Malcolm is so over come by Obamamania that he sees connections to his messiah everywhere, even in hospitals separated by hundreds of miles, from patients admitted days apart, with maladies and injuries that are completely dissimilar. And not just with ordinary everyday patients in those hospitals, but with two star studded actors who ended up in hospitals, one in Chicago and one in Tennessee. And guess what? They are both... gasp... OBAMA SUPPORTERS. Yes, I know how shocking it is that two actors can be admitted to hospitals after donating money to the Barack Obama campaign. After all, the mere fact that they gave the messiah money should have been enough of a talisman to have protected them at least until the elections, wouldn't ya think? I mean, isn't their messiah letting them down here?

Malcolm's tenuous connections between these two actors and Obama only serves to highlight his own obsession because the hospital stays of the two actors have absolutely no relation to each other. Actor Morgan Freeman was admitted to a Memphis, Tennessee hospital on August 4 suffering injuries from a car accident near his Mississippi home. Actor and comedian Bernie Mac was admitted to a Chicago, Illinois hospital on August 2 suffering from pneumonia.

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.