When pundits talk about what 'the public' thinks in an election season, remember that they're not really talking about the whole public.
At Huffington Post (9/13/12), Ryan Grim and Michael Calderone are raising questions about the somewhat mysterious disappearance of a New York Times news article: On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble. But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker…. The later version, which appeared on […]
One of the most confusing terms in the media discussion is "objectivity." In philosophy, it refers to a belief in a reality independent of the conscious mind, generally one that can more or less be known and meaningfully discussed. In journalism, on the other hand, it means "don't scare away any potential customers." "Objective" journalism emerged as newspapers realized that they were alienating potential readers by positioning themselves as a paper that saw the world through the lens of a particular party. Why be a Whig paper or a Tory paper, in other words, when you could be an independent […]
In corporate media, some political arguments are treated as indisputable fact. One of the most important: Democrats win by moving to the right. In the New York Times (5/3/12), Peter Baker offers the latest example: Mr. Obama, who campaigned on Sunday with Mr. Clinton, seems to be following his Democratic predecessor's playbook. After a generation of Democrats alienating voters with liberal domestic positions, Mr. Clinton moved the party toward the center on issues like trade, welfare and deficit spending. First off: Democrats had been alienating voters for a generation with their liberal policies? I am not sure what this is […]
One of the more annoying corporate media storylines since the midterms dwells on whether or not Barack Obama will move to the "center" in order to have better luck in the 2012 elections. The conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton did this after terrible losses in the 1994 midterms, and his "triangulation" proved once and for all that successful Democrats move to the right. There are several reasons this is nonsense–Clinton was more or less the original DLC "New Democrat," so he was consciously and conspicuously to the right of the party base all along. The press wanted to nudge […]
Here's the sentence that sums up what was wrong with election coverage '10, courtesy of the New York Times' Peter Baker (11/3/10): Was this the natural and unavoidable backlash in a time of historic economic distress, or was it a repudiation of a big-spending activist government? Clearly, the economy was the main thing on the minds of American citizens, and we needed the media to lead a serious discussion of what to do about it. Instead, we got a bogus debate in which the left-wing pole was that nothing could be done to improve the situation–when the actual progressive view […]
One strand ofconventional wisdom among elite D.C. reporters is that losing the midterm elections would be a good thing for the White House. Hence New York Times reporterPeter Baker (10/24/10): WASHINGTON ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬”Â Let there be no mistake: President Obama wants the Democrats to win next week's midterm elections. His voice has gone hoarse telling every audience that from Delaware to Oregon. But let's also acknowledge this: Although he will not say so, there is at least a plausible argument that he might be better off if they lose. The reality of presidential politics is that it helps to have an […]
A New York Times article (4/23/10) by Peter Baker and David Herszenhorn remarks of Barack Obama: With his poll numbers sagging, the choreographed confrontation seemed aimed at tapping the nation's antiestablishment mood as well as muscling financial regulation legislation through Congress. While Obama's confrontation with the financial industry was no doubt choreographed, are his poll numbers really sagging? This chart from Pollster.com, averaging out all the major national polls, reveals instead that opinion on Obama's job performance is remarkably steady (and remarkably evenly divided, too). It's hard to turn a line like that into exciting news, which isn't to say […]