Journalistic Issues

By Warner Todd Huston | July 26, 2008 | 12:20 AM EDT

Apparently, Bild, a newspaper in Germany, hires 14-year-old, starry-eyed, fan-girls as reporters instead of serious grownups. Or, at least one would be excused in thinking this reporter was a rock-star struck teeny bopper upon reading her gushingly immature account of having an exercise work out with Barack Obama on the German leg of his trip. This report is so obsequious, so saccharine, that it is painful to read. The whole incident is really banal and uneventful in retrospect, but this reporter builds it into orgasmic proportions showing how the press, even in Europe, have allowed hero worship to overtake even the tiniest shred of journalistic integrity.

Judith Bonesky's breathless account so overplays reality that it is sickening. Even the title shows that the writer was acting like a goofy child unable to restrain her boundless enthusiasm. Like a teenaged, Hannah Montana fan, Bonesky blurts out excitedly, "I worked out with Obama!" -- yes, even with an exclamation point at the end. So much for objective, dispassionate reporting.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 25, 2008 | 12:38 AM EDT

Obama's speech today in Berlin, hailed as a "major" address, has at least one major, glaring error that shows that nether Obama nor his handlers and speech writers were thoroughly familiar with the facts. Obama's main theme was about the "walls" that separate all of us one from another. He claims that many of these "walls" have been taken down and hails that as progress. But in at least one instance he is wrong. In fact more walls have been built where Obama claimed they were taken down.

First the relevant section of Obama's misconception (my bold for emphasis):

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

(Full Obama speech transcript here.)

Obama claims that the walls built to separate Protestant from Catholic have come down in Belfast. Well, in fact, they have not. In reality MORE ARE BEING BUILT all the time.

By Rich Noyes | July 24, 2008 | 9:16 AM EDT

It’s not just the thrills racing up and down Chris Matthews’ leg. Writing in Thursday’s Investor’s Business Daily, author William Tate documents that campaign donations from employees of big media companies are tilting 100-to-1 in favor of the Democrats so far this election cycle.

That’s right, 100-to-1.

[UPDATE: FNC's Bret Baier, in the "Grapevine" segment on the Friday, July 25 Special Report with Brit Hume, read an item on the IBD numbers.]

It’s perhaps not a surprise that those working for NBC Universal are the most eager givers to the Democrats, racking up $104,184 in contributions this cycle, compared to just $3,150 to Republican candidates. Maybe more surprising is that those at Fox broadcasting and the Fox News Channel combined to give $41,853 to the Democrats, with no listed donations going to the Republicans. (Only $1,280 was listed as coming from Fox News employees.)

By Warner Todd Huston | July 24, 2008 | 6:58 AM EDT

Remember when McCain said that he had visited all 57 States during his campaign? Then there was the time that McCain said "Well let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's." Oh, and what about the time that McCain said "10,000 people died" in the Kansas tornadoes (death toll really 12). Crazy stuff, eh? Wait, let's not forget when McCain said that Arkansas was a "nearby" state to Kentucky. Man was that a major flub showing a complete lack of knowledge of simple geography.

Hmm, wait a minute. I might be making a flub myself, here. Didn't Obama make all those gaffes (and many, many more)? Why, yes, he did. So, why, amidst an ever growing list of Obama flubs and gaffes, did the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz just pen a story titled "Is McCain's Age Showing? Tongues Wag Over Flubs"? It's as if the Obamessiah has spoken in flawless, if not mellifluous, English with nary a gaffe uttered throughout the campaign.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 23, 2008 | 9:36 PM EDT

I'm sure by now we are all aware of the Netroots Nation conference that happened in Austin, Texas last weekend. Well, did you know that without Al Gore it wouldn't have happened? That's right, since Al Gore invented the Internet... I know, I know, that is the old Al Gore joke where he famously claimed that he invented the World Wide Web. Everyone knows that Al Gore had little to do with the Internet, of course. But at least one person, obviously one rather easy to bamboozle, still thinks Al Gore did invent the Internet and one paper is happy to help her tell the world about it. In fact she thinks he invented all the technology inherent in that Internet. And she is currently the Speaker of the House of Representatives, sadly enough.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi attended the Nutrooters gathering and, as reported in the Houston Chronicle, let loose with this gem while introducing Al Gore to those assembled: "Without him, there would be no Netroots Nation. There wouldn't be the technology."

Huh? Without Al Gore "there wouldn't be the technology" to have an Internet based gathering like Netroots Nation?

By Warner Todd Huston | July 23, 2008 | 5:39 AM EDT

Bloomberg News is acting as if they know how "many Muslims around the world" feel about Barack Obama. In Bloomberg's considered opinion, Obama is "just an American with a Muslim middle name" and won't "advance" the "interests" of Muslims. The main point that Bloomberg seems to be trying to sell is that Barack Obama's Muslim past will not make him tend to bow to world-wide Muslim sentiment. Bloomberg is obviously doing their best to prop up the Obama campaign by trying to allay fears that Obama will be a disaster on foreign policy. This is a perfect example of agenda journalism disguised as news.

So, how do the folks at Bloomberg know what the world's Muslims think about Barack Obama? Is it polls? Did they conduct extensive interviews or research on how Muslims feel about Obama? No, it seems more like Bloomberg's opinion is loosely based on the opinions of the three Muslims they quote and a broad interpretation of one poll on Obama and one on Muslim opinion of the US in general. It seems a rather wild leap in logic from the "evidence" they present to assume that they have a firm grasp on the opinion about Obama of all the world's Muslims.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 23, 2008 | 4:27 AM EDT

Now here is an interesting little story that doesn't seem to be getting any media coverage. In South Dakota after being held up in courts since 2005, a new law finally took effect on July 21 requiring any abortion doctor to read a statement covering the possible ill effects that abortions have on women -- both mental and physical -- at least two hours before the procedure occurs. The one Planned Parenthood office in South Dakota had taken the state to court to stop this law being implemented, but lost their case on the 18th. On the day the law was to take effect, though, the Planned Parenthood office did not open its doors for "business," refusing to abide by the new laws. Doesn't this refusal to operate tend to confirm that Planned Parenthood is in the game for ideological reasons as opposed to being only interested in women's health?

This is a big defeat for Planned Parenthood, and a great victory for anti-abortion supporters yet the media is silent on the issue. That seems rather curious.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 22, 2008 | 6:23 AM EDT

Just as I finish a piece laughing at DailyKos for claiming that it is conservatives that feel they have to "create their own alternate reality" because of their "rigid ideology," I find a story out of The Austin American-Statesman where the DailyKos forced that paper to pull a story that had a mildly satirical take on last weekend's Netroots Nation conference in Texas. Apparently, the DailyKos folks didn't like The Austin American-Statesman's "reality" so the Kossacks flooded the paper with their insistence on creating a new one.

The original article by the Statesman's Patrick Beach knocked the nutrooters for the so-called "surprise" Gore visit, said it turned into a "faint-in," and that their general feeling was "terribly self-confirming," among other snippy comments... fun, but snippy. The general tone of the piece was that of amusement at how seriously the nutrooters took themselves. And, even more galling to said nutrooters, this story was the front page editorial of Sunday's edition. (Original, Google cached version of Beach's piece.)

This did not sit well with the nutrooters in question.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 22, 2008 | 5:14 AM EDT

Many of us have taken to calling the media establishment the "MSM," or "Mainstream Media." But is that a fair and properly descriptive monicker to bestow upon them? A New York Times Blogger pondered that very question on July 21 in a "The Caucus" blog entry -- one that was a barely disguised effort to highlight and advertise the opinion of one Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos.

Still, regardless of the origin of the question, it is an interesting point to ponder. With the failing of newspapers country wide, with the ever falling audience that the big three TV networks are seeing for their news product, and with the corresponding rise of the Internet as a news source, is the old media still properly to be called "mainstream"? Does it still represent the most common way that America gets its news, thereby deserving of the term "mainstream"?

By Mark Finkelstein | July 21, 2008 | 8:00 PM EDT

Andrea Mitchell might be a doyenne of the liberal media, but she has her reporter's pride and principles, which have been trampled by the way the Obama campaign has managed the media during the candidate's current trip to Afghanistan and Iraq.  Mitchell let loose on this evening's Hardball, speaking of "fake interviews," and decrying that she was unable to report on pertinent aspects of the trip because the media has been excluded and that the video released is unreliable because it's impossible to know what has been edited out.

Before Mitchell made her displeasure known, Roger Simon of Politico, Chris Matthews's other guest during the segment, depicted the images coming out of the war zone as all Obama could have dreamed of.

ROGER SIMON: The optics are all very good on this trip. I mean, the beginning of this trip is so good, Senator Obama might just want to call off the end and just keep running the videotape.

By Lyndsi Thomas | July 21, 2008 | 1:42 PM EDT

Brit Hume, C-SPAN Q&A | NewsBusters.orgWhen the Bush administration reported that 15 of 18 political benchmarks set for Iraq had been met, which is nearly twice as many that were met last year, only Fox News reported on the story. And during his July 2 report, Brit Hume predicted that the story wouldn’t gain much traction elsewhere:

I suspect that this broadcast tonight -- and maybe some others on this channel -- are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere.

As Hume predicted, CBS’s “Evening News,” NBC’s “Nightly News” and ABC's “World News Tonight” did not mention the story in their broadcasts that night.

By Warner Todd Huston | July 20, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the reputed "Constitutional scholar," just today said on CBS's Face the Nation that he went to Iraq to talk to important leader that he expects to be "dealing with over the next eight to 10 years." So, does this "Constitutional scholar" not realize that there is this little thing called the 22nd Amendment that holds a president to only two, four year terms? Um, that would be a grand total of only 8 years, Barack, not 8 to 10. Of course, the big question is, will we see this idiot gaffe race through the MSM as it would if a Republican had said it?

At the very least ABC's Jake Tapper, one of the best political reporters in the biz, sure noticed. Tapper has a blog entry on his "Political Punch" blog all about it with an amusing side note about time travel added in just for fun.