Too long, thus under the fold - enjoy, think, bookmark for later, use:
Criticism from the left can take a variety of forms, including fact-checking, aggregating links and sometimes original reporting. Also, similar to the right's strategy over decades of "working the refs," there are left-leaning bloggers who provide a knee-jerk dismissal of whatever's on the front page of the Times or making the rounds on Sunday chat shows.
What's so startling in watching the coverage of the Clinton convention-speech story has been the complete ignorance displayed about how previous Democratic conventions have dealt with runners-up like Clinton. It's either complete ignorance or the media's strong desire to painstakingly avoid any historical context, which, in turn, allows the press to mislead news consumers into thinking Clinton's appearance (as well as the gracious invitation extended by Obama) represents something unique and unusual. Something newsworthy.
I did find one thing quite interesting, which is that Alter insists that nobody listens to the gasbags and pundits so we shouldn't worry about them. I asked him how he thought people got their information about politics and he said from their talkative coworker or politically engaged relative and things like chain emails. It's apparent that many in the mainstream media have not see the documentation and analysis that's been done online about how the stories and themes of elections, as conceived by political operatives and political pundits, dominate the campaigns and color the voters impressions of the candidates. Maybe the inside of the bubble is too heady a place to be able to see the connections.
But the joy of the digital revolution is that it is bloodless, and democracy is at its heart. However, as with political revolutions, the establishment views it as anarchy and therefore dangerous. In fact, as everyone should surely know, democracy is rather messy. It is often chaotic. It is often illogical. It does not obey rules.
I think journalists are failing to grasp that truth. Blogging, though democratic in spirit, does threaten the established order of journalism. I was inspired to write this after reading a blog posting by Adam Tinworth (courtesy of a tip from Kristine Lowe. Many thanks). Tinworth writes: "Most media people don't realise that blogging is a community strategy. They think of it as a publishing process... They certainly don't think of it as a conversation."
There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.
I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.
But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.
[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.
But beyond the press sir, just in terms of...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.
Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.
A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. Of course, there are highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow paranoids, as there are likely to be in any political tendency. But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates :evidence." The difference between this "evidence" and that commonly employed by others is that it seems less a means of entering into normal political controversy than a means of warding off the profane intrusion of the secular political world. The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.
Midmorning discusses media coverage of the Democratic National Convention, candidates and politics, particularly on the web. [podcast]
In the wake of countless news stories about influence peddling at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, we thought it was fair to ask, just what are the rules -- and loopholes -- that govern the financing of these conventions? Why are hamburgers outlawed, but million-dollar donations allowed?
Audio of Gov. Palin talking about the Iraq War in an interview from two weeks ago ...
But it is exactly like the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. That is, an unbelievably obvious but potentially effective attempt to jiu-jitsu the standard identity politics of the moment in a way that flummoxes the Democrats.
Sarah Palin has emerged as John McCain's vice-presidential running mate. Palin talked to Newsmax magazine for its upcoming September 2008 issue about Alaskan oil, global warming, and John McCain.[BEFORE she was asked to join the ticket!]
In response to this question: "What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?" Palin answered: "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made."
In making this statement about one of the central issues of our time, Palin has rejected the view not only of the overwhelming majority of scientists, but also of the Environmental Protection Agency (under George W. Bush) and John McCain.
Here's raw video of Sarah Palin answering reporters' questions about the investigation of a state commissioner's firing.
The only piece of political journalism ever to make me cry was Ron Suskind's article, Without a Doubt, published in the New York Times Magazine shortly before the 2004 election. It was in that article that the famous passage appeared quoting a senior administration official on the myopia of the "reality-based community" when it came to understanding the government of George W. Bush.
So unconventional was McCain's choice that it left students of the presidency literally "stunned," in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. "Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who's of presidential caliber," said Goldstein.
Pavlov would be proud. A few days ago, he cautioned against the Alaskan gamble: "Palin has been governor for less than two years." Now - surprise! - that's a virtue. There is not a single mention in his latest piece of her lack of record of even any opinions on foreign policy in the past decade. From the magazine that said we couldn't even risk voting Democrat in 2006 because the peril was so great.
Former House Speaker Gail Phillips, a Republican political leader who has clashed with Palin in the past, was shocked when she heard the news Friday morning with her husband, Walt.
"I said to Walt, 'This can't be happening, because his advance team didn't come to Alaska to check her out," Phillips said.
The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there's a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she's a woman. That's what happens when you listen to the TV news echo chamber. Not only is the whole premise ludicrous, but it is every bit as sexist as the crude joke McCain notoriously told about Janet Reno, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.
Given the press's track record so far, there's no reason to believe that the bogus scenarios will stop now. The question of why this keeps happening is not easily answered. Ideological bias, unshakeable Clinton addiction and lingering McCain affection may not account for all or even most of it. Journalists are still Americans -- even if much of our audience doubts that -- and in this time of grave uncertainty about our nation's future we may simply be as discombobulated as everyone else.
AP Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier has been targeted by MoveOn, Media Matters and many liberal blogs this campaign cycle for what they consider light treatment of John McCain at the expense of other candidates -- especially Barack Obama.
In July, I reported that Fournier had discussions with the McCain campaign in late 2006 -- while not at the AP -- about taking a senior level communications job with the campaign. Fournier spoke with Mark Salter, Rick Davis, John Weaver and other campaign staffers, but did not take the job. He returned to the AP in March 2007.
So with the blogosphere enraged over Fournier, FishbowlDC writes today that Ellen Hale, the AP's vice president for corporate communications, has e-mailed talking points to managers on how to deal with questions about the wire's D.C. bureau chief. But the contents of the memo were not yet revealed.
I've now obtained the full talking points which are after the jump:
1. Did her vetting include a tough face-to-face interview between Palin and McCain's chief vetter A.B. Culvahouse?
2. Did her vetting include the full questionnaire filled out by others?
3. Did the vetting include researchers on the ground in Alaska?
4. How widely has Palin traveled at home and abroad?
5. When will Sarah Palin begin to do media interviews with experienced national journalists?
6. How will her largely successful debut (and her embrace by conservatives) influence how the McCain camp doles out access?
7. How will her largely successful debut influence the media coverage over the next few weeks?
8. What polling data, if any, did Senator McCain receive which influenced his decision to pick Palin?
9. What are Palin's views on the range of important national and international issues on which she has no professional experience?
10. Who will play Joe Biden in Palin's debate prep?
If the past is any guide, some people will respond to this post by saying that the Republicans would not hesitate to use Democrats' teenage children to score political points. That may be. Three responses: first, so what? Just because they do it doesn't mean that we should. Second, any argument for going there would have to assume that this would, in fact, be a political winner, and thus that not using it would entail some sort of political sacrifice. I am not at all convinced that that is true. Most importantly, though, there are some lines I'm not willing to cross no matter what the other side does.
Welcome to the media major leagues. That's not to say Alaskan reporters weren't doing their jobs before, but networks and top newspapers can allocate far more money for investigations and are more likely to delve into personal matters. Palin will be followed constantly and relentlessly, with her words analyzed for the slightest hint of a gaffe.
A lot of Washington reporters have spent a decade loving John McCain. Just a few days ago a friend of mine who was once among the courted explained to me just how different and successful McCain was in the courtship. Off the cuff, frank, entirely accessible. Because of all that, a lot of these people got heavily invested in the maverick and straight-talker image. I'll be honest: back in 2000 and probably until 2002 I was pretty invested in it. Why a lot of people have held on through the last half dozen years of contrary evidence is another question. But the Palin pick is that paradigm-breaking piece of evidence that takes you from 'maverick' to 'reckless' or worse. And claiming that Palin has 'military command' experience as head of the Alaska National Guard gets you from "straight talker' to 'bullshit artist'.
How 15,000 credentialed journalists could descend on Denver and produce such unvaryingly weak and shoddy coverage of a staged news event -- and do it with coverage that celebrated sameness and shallowness -- was a sad spectacle that newsrooms nationwide ought to ponder.
Not content to simply cover what was, by every standard, an historic and fascinating political gathering, the press felt the need to embellish the storylines (when not completely inventing them), tell news consumers what to think and how to feel, and to hog the spotlight by turning themselves into the topic of news reports. The media hordes "got in the way of the story, because they made themselves the story," noted Brooke Gladstone at NPR. (Exhibit A.)
Insiders tell us that, because of the rough line of questioning from Brown, a scheduled McCain interview on Larry King Live has been canceled.
As for the speech itself, Davis said a generic, "masculine" speech was being prepared before the pick was made and, now that Palin is the choice, she is adapting the speech to her own needs and personality. Davis demurred when asked when Palin will sit for interviews with major news organizations, pointing out that now would not be the right time given the "combative" attitude the media has seemingly adopted toward Palin.
When Markos Moulitsas saw that one of the contributors to his liberal blog was accusing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of lying about her 4-month-old baby, he was a bit skeptical.
"I feel a little weird about the questions being asked," he says. "But I also feel a little weird about saying, 'Shut up, people.' It takes a lot for me to step in and squash what's on Daily Kos."
In less than 48 hours, the allegations by a Kos diarist known as ArcXIX ricocheted into the mainstream media, when John McCain's designated running mate announced Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and plans to have the baby and marry the father.
The McCain campaign felt compelled to release the information, say two staffers who declined to be identified discussing internal strategy, after receiving inquiries from national reporters about the Kos posting and questions from Alaska reporters about local scuttlebutt that Bristol Palin was pregnant.
While the Web can serve as an incubator for unsubstantiated charges, it also tends to be self-correcting. Another Daily Kos contributor late Sunday unearthed a photo from earlier this year in which the governor looks quite pregnant.
Moulitsas says he doesn't know who the anonymous ArcXIX is -- his contributors decide whether to identify themselves -- but that his site also disclosed that Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, which has pushed for a vote on seceding from the United States. That was confirmed Monday by ABC News.
"Our people are doing the vetting. Even if some of it is hitting dead ends, other ones are striking direct hits," Moulitsas says. His role, he adds, "is to sit back and let the citizen journalists do their job, and I amplify the stuff that shakes out."
The Palin Convention and the Culture War Option [The Obligatory Reading of the Day! BZ] (also check it here for additional comments):
John McCain's convention gambit calls for culture war around the Sarah Palin pick. And now The Politico is reporting just that: Palin reignites culture wars. An option is forming. This is my attempt to describe it before her big speech in St. Paul.
John McCain's convention gambit is a culture war strategy. It depends for its execution on conflict with journalists, and with bloggers (the "angry left," Bush called them) along with confusion between and among the press, the blogosphere, and the Democratic party.
Bloggers and open platforms continue to publish riskier--and risque--material, some of it unfit for family consumption, some of it false, salacious and reckless, some of it true, relevant and damaging, a portion of which is picked up by the traditional press.
* Strategy: confound and collapse all distinctions between closed editorial systems (like the newsroom of the New York Times), open systems (like the blogging community DailyKos.com) and political systems, like the Democratic party and its activist wing. Whenever possible mix these up. Conflate constantly. Attack them all. Jump from one to the other without warning or thread. Sow confusion among streams and let that confusion mix with the resentment in a culture war atmosphere.
Palin, says Shafer, will "play the role of Spiro Agnew to McCain's Nixon, dismissing reporters' tough questions as effete, impudent, sacrilegious, snobby, intrusive, unpatriotic, hostile, disrespectful, chauvinistic, 'East Coast,' unfair, unbalanced, liberal, biased, trivial, hypothetical, elitist, and as partisan attempts to lasso her with a 'gotcha.' "
And to the media that had closely examined her record, she said: "Here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country."
The story of the day out here in Minneapolis is the McCain campaign's war against the press. This has been building for some time. Those of us who have criticized the candidate--and especially those of us who enjoyed good relations with McCain in the past--have been subject to off-the-record browbeating and attempted bullying all year. But things have gotten much worse in recent days...
So what's going on here? Two things. McCain is just plain angry at us. By the evidence presented in the utterly revealing Time interview, he's ballistic. This is a politician who needs to see himself as the man on the white horse, boldly traversing a muddy field...any intimations that he's gotten muddied in the process, or has decided to throw mud, are intolerable.
The second thing is more insidious: Steve Schmidt has decided, for tactical reasons, to slime the press. He wants the public to believe that there is an unfair--sexist (you gotta love it)--personal assault going on against Palin and her family. This is a smokescreen, intended to divert attention from the very real and responsible vetting that is taking place in the media--about the substance of Palin's record as mayor and governor.
Even if mainstream news organizations exercised restraint in their reporting on Sarah Palin's daughter, that might not necessarily dampen down the public's attention on the subject...
I believe I'd fire any reporter who wasted a chance to question Gov. Sarah Palin by asking a single question about pregnancies, DUIs or thuggish boyfriends.
So the campaign itself is now stoking this by bringing up this extramarital affair thing. I hadn't heard about it. They have decided to double down on Jay Rosen's culture war scenario.
They've even managed to get the media questioning delegates on TV whether she has been treated fairly ... by the media.
Earlier Wednesday, campaign chief Steve Schmidt blasted the media for its treatment of Palin. "Governor Sarah Palin is an exceptional governor with a record of accomplishment that exceeds, by far, the governing accomplishments of Senator Obama," Schmidt said it a statement. He added: "This vetting controversy is a faux media scandal designed to destroy the first female Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States who has never been a part of the old boys' network that has come to dominate the news establishment in this country."
Republicans launched a full-throated counterpunch at the media's scrutiny of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday and accused the media of wanting to "destroy" John McCain's vice presidential pick.
Most members of the commercial media don't want to face what everybody else knows - that as institutions go, that of "the media" is as hated or more so than George W. Bush and the US Congress.
Unfortunately, in recent days, too many bloggers and their commenters have forgotten that truth, too.
Bloggers, in general, claim to understand just how much the public distrusts the media. We bloggers have been "running against the media" from the get-go. It's one of the biggest keys to our success: that readers turn to us instead of the commercial media it distrusts. The one thing that could most rapidly destroy that for us would be if we became, in the public's mind, associated with the same sloppy arrogance which it associates with the media.
Hatred of the media is a real force in American life; the secret and only scapegoat that the media can't offer up to the crowd as ritual sacrifice is itself. In a very meaningful way, the media are more intrusive in the daily lives and emotions of the American public than government. A family might be suffering because a parent is ill without health care, or a son or daughter might come back from Iraq gravely wounded (or might not come home at all), but coping mechanisms are such that people deal with hardships, move on, and even in the worst of situations find closure or adapt with coping mechanisms.
The dynamic with the media is different. Like other addictions or "negative pleasures" the media never offer any closure, but, rather, just the constant drip, drip, drip of distracting noise which, paradoxically, we invite into our living rooms and bedrooms even as it offends us daily. There is a dysfunctional relationship between the media and the citizenry that is akin to battered spouse syndrome: they beat us down, tell us we're worthless, invade the privacy of people just like us, and yet we turn and keep the TV and radio (and, yes, the Internet) on even through social and family gatherings. They are babysitter to our kids and live-in nurse to our elders, the guests that won't leave and that we love to hate and gossip about.
Yet as in any other dysfunctional relationship, our resentment grows and sometimes hits a boiling point.
It is that boiling point the McCain campaign is trying to conjure up for Governor Palin's speech tonight.
In an extraordinary and emotional interview, Steve Schmidt said his campaign feels "under siege" by wave after wave of news inquiries that have questioned whether Palin is really the mother of a 4-month-old baby, whether her amniotic fluid had been tested and whether she would submit to a DNA test to establish the child's parentage.
Does the McCain campaign think that their ticket can win if they go to war with the press 60 days out?
On Monday night, I encountered Mark Salter, a top McCain adviser, outside the St. Paul Hotel, and I asked him when Palin's first press conference would be. He did not seem eager to talk about it. "After the convention," he said. Soon after the convention? "After," he repeated. Whenever it occurs, it will be some session.
First of all, that's the first time I've heard anyone in the campaign/political press throw out the notion of paternity tests. So Schmidt is to blame for bringing that issue into the mainstream. If anyone is smearing the candidate, it's Schmidt. This is as cynical a tactic as I've ever seen in politics.
GOP tactic: say something about Palin, then when anyone repats it, smear the press for sexism and invasion of privacy. Everything about Palin we first heard from her, McCain or spokesmen. They are feeding us personal tidbits, then lashing out when we ask questions, or even just repeating those tidbits in the media or blogs. This is, IMHO, their conscious strategy to turn the Media+blogs+Democrats+Obama into the "enemy" and invoke the persecution complex and fear with the base (which, as the name suggests, votes on base instincts).
A media outfit, abiding by the conventional rules of journalism (just the quotes, ma'am), had once again enabled a president who was not being honest. And I was reminded of a 1997 remark by Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of the Post: "Even the very best newspapers have never learned how to handle public figures who lie with a straight face."
The ideologues of the right and the oh-so-calm pundits of the center were redefining the issue: Have the libs gone bonkers? They could not handle a serious discussion of Bush's untruthfulness. As National Review editor Rich Lowry declared, "I don't think the public is going to buy the idea that [Bush is] a liar."
Ben Bradlee, too, worries the Washington press corps hasn't been much changed--or chagrined--by the Bush experience. "I've never seen a story that has a lead paragraph that says, 'The president said this,' and a second paragraph that says, 'This is a lie,'" Bradlee remarks. "We just don't have that kind of balls."
What should the media do differently? "My answer is to have a fetish about the truth and to consider the possibility the guys in power are lying on purpose," Bradlee says. "It's always a problem--I can't remember a time when it wasn't a problem."
It is not our job to ask questions. Or it shouldn't be. To hear from the pols at the Republican National Convention this week, our job is to endorse and support the decisions of the pols.
Sarah Palin thinks that one is good for her campaign and one is not, and that the media should report only on what is good for her campaign. That is our job, and that is our duty. If that is not actually in the Constitution, it should be. (And someday may be.)
And could that be the real point of the attacks on the media? To unify the Republican Party?
Lots of folks commenting about Palin seem to be counting on her to flounder once she has to confront the press more directly. I wouldn't be so sure that she's going to allow herself to be confronted anytime soon.
According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don't care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace -- in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough's show -- the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin's scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.
And there are a gang of partisans waiting out there who will blur the lines, lumping Us Weekly and the Enquirer and others in with serious news organizations that still try to get it right.
We heard it for the second day running Wednesday. The Republicans devoted much of their energy to knocking down the mythical, monolithic "media." A group of Republican women led by Carly Fiorina faced down a room full of reporters at the convention center here and demanded that the Palin "smears" stop.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, in particular, railed about the unfairness of it all. I thought maybe I had missed something, so I followed Swift into the hallway.
I asked her to name the legitimate news outlet that had smeared McCain's running mate. Swift looked crestfallen.
"Well, the Daily Kos," she finally offered, citing the blog where political lefties go to post their rants.
"How about one big mainstream news organization?" I prodded. "There must be one that has smeared Gov. Palin."
Swift seemed confused. She looked toward an aide. Surrounded by a scrum of reporters, she lowered her head and moved away.
That's because partisans don't feel one iota of guilt about damaging the press, one of our most important institutions, if it helps them rouse their core supporters. Why not slam all the media for smearing Sarah Palin, rather than single out the tabloids or blogs that have earned the derision?
If Team McCain does shield Palin from the spotlight for the remainder of the month, voters could react one of three ways. If they 1) don't notice or 2) say "good for you, Barracuda"--a likely response, given the way most members of the human race feel about the MSM--McCain wins. It's all about message control and reducing the risk of gaffes. If, however, a critical mass of swing voters starts to suspect that Palin can't handle the heat, it could reinforce the idea that her selection was a cynical political ploy and undercut McCain's "straight talk" appeal.
["Howard Fineman of Newsweek and MSNBC says the McCain campaign lied about something he said with an intention to intimidate" - Jay Rosen]
While top television network officials and newspaper editors largely dismissed the critiques as partisan rhetoric, some fretted that charges of media bias had reached a new and disturbing level.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was named to the Republican ticket one week ago, and she has yet to answer questions from reporters.
Yes, some of the comments from the punditocracy about her have been untoward, even sexist, but given the importance of the job she accepted Wednesday night in her nomination speech, it's entirely reasonable for voters to expect Palin to answer questions from journalists about her positions and her record.
A senior McCain campaign official advises that, despite the gaggle of requests and pressure from the media, Gov. Sarah Palin won't submit to a formal interview anytime soon. She may take some questions from local news entities in Alaska, but until she's ready -- and until she's comfortable -- which might not be for a long while -- the media will have to wait. The campaign believes it can effectively deal with the media's complaints, and their on-the-record response to all this will be: "Sarah Palin needs to spend time with the voters."
Not out of the question are appearances on lighter, fluffier television shows. But -- not for a while.
So they're keeping her in the deep freeze. Will it work? I guess it's possible. If she does one or two friendly interviews it will prevent reporters from saying flatly that she "refuses to meet with the press," and the slightly more complicated explanation may be just complicated enough to keep voters from noticing what's going on. In a way, it's sort of a test of just how gullible the American public really is. Are they actually willing to vote for someone who's afraid to meet with Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, and Meet the Press? Will they accept a tissue-thin excuse about what big meanies they all are? We're about to find out.
If you want to win a debate, you have to come prepared to debate for every audience at every level. We can all understand that it is unwise to refuse Oprah. But it is equally unwise to do only Oprah. It's not just Jay Carney who wants more. As President Bush's current numbers suggest, so does Oprah's audience.
David Frum, conservative author and former Bush speechwriter, weighs in over at NRO on the question of why we should care whether or not Sarah Palin should be subjected to taking questions from the press. His answer: it was the same contempt for elites, both in the media and more broadly, that caused the Bush communications effort to fail after the president's post-9/11 popularity began to erode. Political operatives love to talk about circumventing the media and other co-called "elites" -- i.e., independent specialists, observers and thinkers. The operatives convince themselves they can take their candidate's message directly to the people -- on their terms, without all that poking and prodding and skepticism. That's propaganda. In a democratic society, it rarely works for long.
Sarah Palin is an able liar, as her acceptance speech showed. She may be a coward, too, at least when it comes to facing down the reporters she blasted from the comfort of that solitary podium in St. Paul.
The McCain campaign has admitted to a ban on most press interviews for its largely unknown but popular running mate. McCain's aides are selling this highly unusual approach with rank contempt for the public. "Who cares?"
New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen worries that the McCain campaign's criticism continues a tactic developed by the Bush administration, in which inconsistencies are never acknowledged and politicians refuse to concede that journalists are asking questions on behalf of the public.
So Palin can pose for press photos with her children but criticize attempts to write stories on their lives, and McCain's campaign can decry inaccurate reporting while refusing to make her available for questioning.
Rosen noted the public wasn't aware of reporting by the National Enquirer on Palin until McCain's campaign announced it. "It fuels their narrative of victimization and the culture war they've decided to wage," he said. "If they were really concerned about the impact of those stories, they would never talk on the record about them."
Today, top McCain aide Rick Davis indicated the campaign isn't in any hurry to slot Palin for a Sunday show appearance -- and will do so only if he and other strategists determine it serves the ticket's purposes, not because some may view it as a required initiation for a major political player.
This is incredible, totally incredible. A vice presidential candidate isn't going to be available to the press for two weeks? Two weeks? In September. We have this total unknown who could be president of the United States next January. And she's in hiding for two weeks. Chris Matthews on this clip says that this is fine. Has he lost his mind? She needs to be in front of the press now. The United States and the world cannot have this total unknown foisted on the presidency without any serious vetting and without any press interaction. This is absolutely third world. Since when is the governor of a state given two weeks in hiding?
The sexism that implies that someone cannot stand up to reporters because she is a woman is appalling. This entire pick, of course, is incredibly sexist, and the handling of her in the last week the most sexist double standard I have ever seen in American politics. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton saying she wasn't going to answer questions for two weeks? Or Margaret Thatcher? Or Kay Bailey Hutchison? Or Elizabeth Dole? And none of these women were ever as close to global power as Sarah Palin now is. This is getting to Manchurian Candidate levels of creepiness. It's deeply sinister and slightly terrifying.
"But if there's one indisputable lesson from the last eight years, it's that political propaganda works exceedingly well -- not despite an aggressively adversarial press but precisely because we don't have one.
Propaganda thrives -- predominates -- in our democracy for many reasons, the principal reason being that we don't have the sort of journalist class devoted to exposing it. Anyone who wants to contest that should examine the empirical data above, or more convincingly, just look at what the Bush administration has easily gotten away with over the last eight years -- the systematic deceit, the radicalism, the corruption, the crimes."
Judging from my extremely scientific while-I'm-on-the-treadmill sampling method, the cable news networks are working extremely hard to report out a story of crucial importance: "Has the media been too hard on Sarah Palin?" Watching them try to examine this story is sadly hilarious, like watching a puppy unhappily considering whether it has, in fact, been a bad dog.
But beneath the dark comedy is the incoherence. The media cannot "report" this story out. They are the subject. And it requires a judgment. It's a question with one of two answers. Either "yes, for reasons of bias/sensationalism/whim, we have been reporting on Sarah Palin in a way that's not justified by the facts, and the importance of the facts, surrounding her career," or "no, we have been subjecting Sarah Palin to a proper level of scrutiny, and it's not our fault that her career had been previously unexplored and contained more than a few dark corners and surprising twists."
They cannot do that, of course. The media is incapable of admitting itself to be an actor. They shape the public's understanding of politics, but pretend they are a mode of transmission rather than an agent in control of information. That gets you the consistently confusing coverage where the very people who will decide how the public understands an event makes that decision by speculating how they think the public will understand an event. It is the pretense of objectivity at the expense of honesty. But it reaches new heights of absurdity when the subject is not politics, but the media itself, and the media must answer questions about itself by asking how they imagine viewers are judging their coverage. And it is sad, too, watching people who once wanted to be Carl Bernstein reduced to moderating a focus group that exists only inside their heads.
Because the media cannot see how to do their job if they assume responsibility for the impact they have on politics, they refuse to ever assume any responsibility at all, and that means never doing anything for which they can be held responsible. If you render a judgment, you are responsible for that judgment. If you pretend that you simply convey the judgments of others, they are responsible. The latter approach is far safer, but also far more dishonest. It means you can never do your job forthrightly, nor justify your work because the reportage is important and the conclusions correct. I guess there's a reason that the term "news media" has broadly fallen out of usage, and now we just call them "the media."
Yeah? Who? Remember it was the McCain campaign that released the news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy, and Barack Obama who told his supporters and all of America that kids were off limits.
The notion that somehow the evil liberals leapt to judge Palin is not supported by any fact that Brooks has (or I reckon, can) cite; it is simply part of the fundamentalist projection machine, as documented by someone whose reporting has consistently outshined Brooks' the comedian -- yup, the funny guy - Jon Stewart.
The tactic here: If the facts on the ground don't suit, Brooks appears to have concluded, make up a just vaporous enough claim to avoid close scrutiny.
So what's going on here? Mostly, I think, this is a case of traditional GOP nostalgia for a small town myth that, if it ever existed, has not done so in living memory. Rural Americans outnumbered city folk three to two in 1900. Now it's nearly four to one the other way.
If in fact the size of the family you grow up in and the size of the town in which you live are important in giving you the tools to understand others' experience this nostalgia for a non, and maybe never-existant America is more than intellectual mushiness. It might help explain why so much of the last eight years have worked out so poorly for so many. It's hard to figure out what to do if you think you are governing a country that (demographically) does not exist.
Republicans, who insisted that Sarah Palin, with her "executive experience" is ready on day one to step in as POTUS if McCain kicks it, are now actually saying she's not ready and is cramming up in Alaska to be able to answer questions from the press.
I have a hard time with the term "GOP strategist" when advice like this is supposed to represent smart thinking by experts:
This is not an election about a man's experiences in a POW camp 40 years ago. It's not even about a man who has allowed his party to be defined by the nation's most intolerant people because he only cares about winning. It's an election about issues.
The Republican strength has been mostly symbolic. The McCain campaign is well aware of how Reagan and W won -- running on character: values, communication, (apparent) authenticity, trust, and identity -- not issues and policies. That is how campaigns work, and symbolism is central.
Another thing about their anti-media activity...
They, on their side, have a hierarchical media structure: RNC employs people like Luntz who come up with talking points. Those talking points are then given to elected officials in case they get interviewed, to their minions in the media, to radio talk-show hosts, and right-wing bloggers. They really DO act in unison - the party, the candidate, the media and the bloggers are one and the same.
So, they naturally assume that the Left is just as monolithic and unified and it is easy, through such projection, for them to lump DailyKos, some nasty little blogger, Maddow and Olberman, NYTimes and WaPo, the DNC and Obama all into a single entity. They do not understand (at least their audience does not) that we are a loose coalition of fiercely independent individuals with some of the same goals (elect Democrats) but no coordination.
Thanks for that great list of verbiage! (I actually read some of it ;-)
running on character: values, communication, (apparent) authenticity, trust, and identity -- not issues and policies. That is how campaigns work, and symbolism is central.
The secret to success is sincerity. Learn to fake that, and you've got it made. So much so that the fake stuff seems to trump the real thing more often than not. It's the only explanation I can find for Reagan whupping Carter, and the only explanation I can find for anyone taking Palin seriously. :-PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP
Sorry about the double hit, but I also have to say that Hofstadter's historical characterization of the paranoid style is absolutely spot-on. Thanks for including this link!