Journalistic Issues

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.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 10, 2008 | 10:26 AM EDT

So, here is a curious thing. I have been reviewing books at Amazon for a few years now and never had the occasion to have been censored by But, I just had two reviews in a row deleted by Amazon and it has caused me to wonder how often other conservatives have their reviews summarily eliminated from the Amazon site?

I have noticed, of course, that leftists use Amazon quite well to give conservative books a bad Amazon rating. In the past, whenever I wrote a positive review of a conservative book, for instance, I would be loaded up with negative votes on the review by Amazon visitors. But whenever I wrote a review of a non-political book, I got favorable votes on my review.

But, up until now, I’ve never had a review completely deleted by Amazon.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 9, 2008 | 6:49 AM EDT

Do you know who the Associated Press thinks is secretly hoping for a Barack Obama win? Why, it's "racist groups," dontcha know? See, as the AP reports it, a black man as president couldn't be a more perfect example of how the dark race is takin' over and ruining the white man's world, right? At least, that is according to the AP's favorite go-to racist guy, David Duke, anyway. And what better way for the AP to prove that only racists oppose Obama, eh?

AP decided to dredge up the aforementioned David Duke to let the country know that "the racists" are wringing their hands in a gleeful expectation that a president Barack will swell the ranks of the KKK and other racist groups. Sternly telling us that "They're not exactly rooting for him, but prominent white supremacists anticipate a boost to their cause if Barack Obama becomes the first black president," the AP lets the cat out of the bag for the hooded set.

Want proof? Well, the AP is happy to give it... such as it is.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 9, 2008 | 3:49 AM EDT

Many of you will remember New Jersey Governor James McGreevey who ended up having to admit he gave his gay lover an undeserved State job -- even as the gay lover claimed sexual harassment -- and that he was cheating on his wife and family with that very gay lover. Many will also remember that disgraced Governor James McGreevey was a Democrat. "Many" apparently doesn't include the Associated Press because they are still publishing stories about James McGreevey leaving out that one little fact that he was a Democrat.

To the AP, McGreevey is merely the "Former Gov." who has succeeded in winning a recent court case brought by his ex-wife who was seeking alimony. Oh, the AP gives us all sorts of information about our friend James McGreevey. The AP tells us that he was an acknowledged "gay American," we find out he was "the nation's first openly gay governor," and that McGreevey is now oddly a "seminary student."

But, not once does the AP let us know he was a Democrat.

By Mark Finkelstein | August 8, 2008 | 5:19 PM EDT
David Shuster, arbiter of journalistic standards?  The MSM didn't bother to pursue the Edwards story, yet Shuster, he of "pimped out" fame, had the chutzpah to look down his nose not once but twice on the National Enquirer during an interview this afternoon with Barry Levine, its Executive Editor. Levine, speaking with Shuster on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:20 PM EDT, laid out a number of open issues, including paternity and the source of funding for Rielle Hunter's living arrangements. 
BARRY LEVINE: I think this story is far from over in that regard.

DAVID SHUSTER: And finally I mean, I mean, as a newsman, and I sort of, take that term, sort of liberally for some of your critics, in terms of how they would describe the National Enquirer, but nonetheless, you did get the story right.  In your estimation, where is the next aspect to this story for the National Enquirer?

View video here.

By Warner Todd Huston | August 7, 2008 | 10:08 PM EDT

Jonathan Kay of the National Post (Canada) is sure that we'll miss the old media when its gone. So sure he wrote a paean to how great the media is... and he missed the target by a wide margin on every point he made. Unfortunately, he took a good point and made a mockery of the truth of the matter with his wrongheaded reasoning.

In "You'll miss us when we're gone" Kay asserts that the media exists for "a genuine, altruistic desire for an educated citizenry" and hopes that predictions of its "imminent extinction" are wrong. He also claims that there are "certain kinds of important stories that simply cannot be covered, except by deep-pocketed traditional media organizations employing professional journalists." Aside from imagining that the press is at all interested in "education" he isn't too far off the mark here.

We do need the media, at least a media with "deep pockets" that can afford to cover things in some depth and at distance, the distance of the whole globe. Not too many bloggers and new media folks can afford to go about the world interviewing folks and investigating stories. Sure its a small world these days, but boots on the ground is an important thing to investigative writing. So, the old media does serve an important role. It isn't a role that bloggers and new media people cannot do, of course. But it is an important role nonetheless.

By Rusty Weiss | August 7, 2008 | 7:03 PM EDT

Kwame KilpatrickTo paraphrase a line from my good friend B. Spears, ‘Oops, the AP did it again!'

What journalistic crime has been committed this time? How about, selective memory when it comes to a Democrat running afoul of the law.

Picture this if you will. The Mayor of a major U.S. city has been ordered to jail for violating bond. The MSM reports on the situation, but fails to mention the Mayor's party affiliation anywhere in the article. This makes it a foregone conclusion - the Mayor is a Democrat.

While it is common place for the MSM to avoid mentioning the word Democrat in a headline involving someone being charged, indicted, or sent off to jail, it is taking it a giant step further when they fail to mention it all together.

Contrast this with the recent headlines surrounding the indictment of Ted Stevens. The AP headline read as follows:

Ted Stevens indicted, longest-serving GOP senator