Extra! October 2012 Volume 25, Number 10
Deep Throat Not What He Used to Be
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz (8/14/12) somehow convinced a “senior Romney advisor” to reveal a stunning secret that could only be disclosed “on the condition of anonymity”—that Mitt Romney felt good about his vice presidential pick: “He was very confident in himself, in Paul Ryan, in the campaign and in the direction of the campaign he wanted to take.”
Believe it or not, the Post’s Felicia Sonmez (8/17/12) topped this scoop by talking to “a senior Republican adviser”—no doubt in a deserted parking garage—who admitted anonymously that Ryan likes Romney too: “He views Governor Romney as an Exhibit A in the case for how people in the private sector can build things– build businesses, turn around businesses, take risks, put capital to work, and make a contribution to society and to the economy and to the workplace.”
Thank goodness the Post granted these brave whistleblowers anonymity so they could speak out without fear of retribution.
One Planet? One-Liner
NBC’s Tom Brokaw (8/30/12) talking about Mitt Romney’s speech to the Republican National Convention:
The best line, I think, in the speech was the one in which he said: ‘President Obama wants to slow the growth of the oceans, I want to help you and your family.
Yeah, wasn’t that great when Romney made fun of the idea of doing something to counter an ongoing global catastrophe? How can you top that?
Party Propaganda? Not Too Much
“As you may know we cover politics a bit differently here. We are not much on party propaganda or political bloviating…. Now, I’ll be going down to Tampa on Wednesday and we will have heavyweight coverage all this week. But it will not be the Republicans are good and Democrats are bad or vice versa. We are not in the business of promoting any political party….
“Speakers at the Republican convention have largely been selected to negate Democratic propaganda, while the speakers at the Democratic convention next week in Charlotte are largely on stage to inflame the liberal base. The strategy for the Republicans is persuade the mind, right here. The strategy for the Democrats seems to be persuade the hearts…. The GOP presentation is largely fact-based….
“The rest of the Democratic primetime lineup [aside from former presidents Clinton and Carter] is composed of zealots…. You cannot get more liberal than this crew. It’s impossible, you can’t do it…. I think it’s accurate to say that the Democratic Party is out there ideologically while the Republican Party is trying to be a bit more moderate.”
—Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 8/27/12)
Now You Tell Us
Andrea Seabrook, who until recently covered Capitol Hill for NPR, explained to Politico (8/22/12) why she has moved on to a new independent reporting project:
I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves, because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say…. It has become such a complete theater that none of it is real…. I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day.
Too bad she felt she couldn’t tell that to NPR’s listeners.
Which Conflicts Attract NPR’s Interest?
Adam Davidson hosts NPR’s Planet Money, a show about business and finance whose sole underwriter is Ally Bank, a subsidiary of the company formerly known as GMAC, a major player in mortgage fraud. Davidson also makes money giving speeches to the financial institutions he covers, as documented by a watchdog group called the SHAME Project (8/8/12). NPR responded to SHAME by saying those speaking gigs were discussed with Davidson’s editors.
Compare the Davidson case to that of Lisa Simeone, whose participation in Occupy DC activism cost her her job as the anchor of a public radio show, and prompted NPR to stop distributing an opera show she hosted (FAIR Blog, 10/20/11). Or consider freelance producer Caitlin Curran, who lost her jobs at public station WNYC and the Public Radio International show the Takeaway after she was photographed at an OWS protest holding up a sign denouncing Wall Street mortgage shenanigans (Gawker, 10/28/11). So protesting Wall Street is not OK, but getting big bucks for giving speeches to the bankers who pay you to cover them—well, that’s apparently just fine for public radio.
OWS ‘Overloved’ at NYT?
Outgoing New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane (8/26/12) accused the paper of bias in a farewell column. “Across the paper’s many departments…so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism—for lack of a better term—that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of the Times.” He offers just two examples of this progressive bleeding: “Developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in the Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.”
If the Times “overloved” gay marriage, you’d think they’d be more interested in a national marriage equality march than in a similarly sized Tea Party rally (Extra!, 12/09). As for Occupy Wall Street, the Times at first virtually ignored it (Action Alert, 9/23/11), then echoed police alarmism about “terrorism” (9/27/11). Former executive editor Bill Keller (10/17/11) wondered who else was “bored by the soggy sleep-ins and warmed-over anarchism,” while columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin (10/4/11) infamously explained that he only went to check out Occupy because a CEO asked him if he needed to be worried about it. (“This didn’t seem like a brutal group, at least not yet,” Sorkin assured.)
Brisbane’s following a tradition. The first public editor, Daniel Okrent, wrote a similar goodbye column (5/25/04). Among the evidence he offered of a left-wing tilt: “The culture pages often feature forms of art, dance or theater that may pass for normal (or at least tolerable) in New York but might be pretty shocking in other places.”