Reuters media blogger Jack Shafer has no use for year-end "Best of the Year" lists. "Lined up, one-by-one, the best-of-year-in-review packages resemble the floats gliding down wide boulevards during a New Year’s Day parade: colorful, big, but pointless."
Shafer then picked on the New York Times best-of-books list for complete inconsistency (without commenting on its obviously liberal and pro-Obama tilt):
Slate's media reporter Jack Shafer has a great column up calling on the White House to release the apparently-gruesome photos of Osama bin Laden after he was shot and killed by Navy SEALs on Sunday. Suppressing the photos, Shafer claims, "infantilizes the nation and gives the White House unwarranted news control." Check out a longer excerpt below the break.
Time's Michael Crowley, late of the liberal publication The New Republic, took to his new magazine's Swampland blog with a salutatory post yesterday. After the obligatory kind words about how excited he was to be on board "another great [journalistic] institution," Crowley laid out his case about why author Joe McGinniss was foolish for renting a house right next door to the Palin family's Wasilla residence.
He did take a few swipes at Palin in the process -- arguing Palin is on a mission to discredit journalists and this just bolsters her argument -- but Crowley's case is the polar opposite of Slate's Jack Shafer, who defiantly praised McGinniss's journalistic "a**holery." Here's the relevant excerpt from Crowley's May 27 post (emphases mine):
"It's called legwork, it's called immersion journalism, and it doesn't look pretty. But it should come as a surprise to only naive newspaper readers that every day journalists treat the subjects of investigations the way [Joe] McGinniss is treating Palin," Slate's Jack Shafer argued in a May 26 post subheadlined, "In defense of a journalist's stalking of a politician."
Shafer wrote his post because, after all, he felt he had to in some way publicly "commend the writer for an act of journalistic a**holery —renting the house next door to the Palin family in Wasilla, Alaska."
Far from crossing any ethical lines, to Shafer, McGinniss's move "honors a long tradition of snooping" and is worthy of applause from hard-bitten gumshoe reporters everywhere:
The Washington Post published an extensive investigative piece about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday which was a collaboration with the far-left media outlet ProPublica (h/t Carter Wood).
As NewsBusters executive editor Matt Sheffield and I reported last September, ProPublica was founded by Herb and Marion Sandler, the California billionaires that have contributed millions to liberal causes and entities such as MoveOn.org and the Clinton front-group Center for American Progress.
Readers might recall the Sandlers being lampooned by "Saturday Night Live" last October for having a hand in the financial crisis. NBC later caved to pressure from the couple and edited out any reference to them in the video of the skit posted at the network's website (Pat Dollard still has the full video here).
In October 2007, shortly after the Sandlers announced their new media venture, Slate's Jack Shafer expressed concern:
A beyond overwhelming 96 percent of the staff of Slate.com, the online news magazine site owned by the Washington Post, plan to vote for Barack Obama. A Tuesday posting, “Slate Votes: Obama wins this magazine in a rout,” reported 55 staff members plan to cast their ballot for Obama, a mere one person will vote for John McCain, the same number (one) who support libertarian Bob Barr. Another staffer replied: “Not McCain.” It's hard to imagine such left-wing uniformity isn't matched at many other media outlets. In a Wednesday posting, Slate Editor-at-Large Jack Shafer (the Barr backer) quipped: “I doubt that Obama will garner 96 percent even in his home precinct of Hyde Park.”
This year's annual staff survey matches the last two presidential contests when nearly every editor and reporter voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 (2004 MRC CyberAlert item). Slate.com headlined an October 26, 2004 article: “At this magazine, it's Kerry by a landslide!” In 2000, 12 of the 13 in the top editorial positions voted for Gore, with the 13th going not for Bush but the libertarian. In all three years, the Democrat earned the vote of Slate's chief editor, Jacob Weisberg, a former Newsweek reporter.
"I don't believe that the Times is pulling for Barack Obama." Jack Shafer, Slate, 9-23-08
There's actually much to agree with in Jack Shafer's column today regarding McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's criticism of the New York Times. Consider this observation by Shafer, for example:
The press corps does adore Barack Obama. They like his story. They like writing about him. They like the way he gives speeches. They like the way he makes them feel. And they don't mind cutting him slack whenever he acts like a regular politician—which he is.
But Shafer, Slate's resident media critic, also expresses the to-me mind-boggling belief cited at the top of this item, that the Times isn't pulling for Obama. So stunned was I by Shafer's claim that I wrote him, seeking clarification. He was nice enough to reply, and I'm setting forth our exchange here:
How many times will The New York Times publish a disreputable reporter's work before it learns its lesson?
Perhaps the third time will be the charm. Alexei Barrionuevo has under come under fire for plagiarism on two separate occasions, but the Times printed a story March 27 ("Salmon Virus Indicts Chile's Fishing Methods") by Barrionuevo anyway, prompting a response from the salmon industry.
Barrionuevo quotes Adolfo Flores in his article, identifying him as Port Director of Castro, Chiloe Island. But in a letter to the Times May 2, Eric McErlain, writing on behalf of Salmon of the Americas Inc (an industry group), pointed out major problems with the report.
"In actuality, Mr. Flores is simply a security guard who works for a third party contractor," McErlain wrote. "I've enclosed an English translation of a letter from Patricio Cuello, the general manager of the Port of Puerto Montt, which administers Castro, confirming this."
Slate is no tool of the "vast right wing conspiracy," for sure (and neither is its parent company the Washington Post), so it is pretty amazing to see a Slate contributor take his fellow liberal journalists to task in so stark a manner. But, for once, Slate is dead right on this one, folks. The "Journalism" biz never takes their plagiarizing miscreants to task and never makes them pay, but Jack Shafer sure did last Friday.
This time Shafer's ire is leveled at writer Michael Finkel who is famous for having invented a story that appeared in National Geographic about the slave labor of a small boy purportedly living on an Ivory Coast cocoa plantation. Yet here he is getting work once again in the MSM as if he was trustworthy and professional.