What would we do without those wonderful media watchdogs?

Speaking of self-absorbed… Just got this e-mail from Romenesko with PoynterOnline — a site about media on the subject of media — with a link to a media site reporting on what media watchdog groups say about the media.

Did you follow that? You could leave out a couple of the "medias," and you’d still probably get the idea.

Anyway, Romenesko somewhat whimsically reported on both of the following at the same time:

  • The conservative Media Research Center claims that not only do the media obsess about Obama, but "34 percent of the stories about Obama were positive and 5 percent negative. The rest were characterized as neutral."
  • Set that alongside this report from the liberal Media Matters, telling us that "for more than a decade, John McCain has been the media’s favorite
    politician. Even conservatives have long acknowledged that McCain
    enjoys a special place in the hearts of the Washington press corps."


People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear. I’ve had fun with these "media watchdog" groups on the blog before.

Want to know the truth? The "media" — to the extent that you can talk about anything so diverse and numerous — like Obama. They also, to the same extent, like McCain. The "favorite" of most media types won both parties’ nominating contests.

Hey, even I like ’em both — and I am very seldom in tune with the "collective wisdom" of the MSM.

30 thoughts on “What would we do without those wonderful media watchdogs?

  1. Lee Muller

    86% of the editors and broadcast producers polled said they vote Democrat, and this has been true for 20 years.
    They like Obama because they don’t know much about him, most are too lazy to learn anything, and even more are too stubborn to admit they have been conned by a politician.
    They like McCain because he votes with Democrats, and spars with the GOP villains in the media news templates of good-guy vs bad-guy.

  2. bud

    Could someone please explain why the Rev. Jeremiah Wright non-story festered on for weeks yet everyone considers Obama a darling of the media? That’s a real head-scratcher.
    On the other hand, John McCain changes his position on torture and the media scarcely mentions it. Go figure.

  3. Brad Warthen

    I remain unaware that McCain “changed his position on torture.” I’m aware that Democratic partisans SAY he “changed his position on torture.” But I’ve seen no evidence of that.
    Tell you what, though: Whatever his position is on torture, I’d be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s no greater expert on torture than the guy who’s BEEN tortured. I’d be awfully reluctant to try to judge him on the subject.
    As I said, to my knowledge his position on torture is what it’s always been — he doesn’t like it, and with really, really good reason.

  4. Stewie

    Lee, Geroge W. Bush is a Democrat? McCain voted with him 95% of the time and the other 5% he didn’t bother to vote at all.
    …and how quickly you forget election night 2000 when Jack Welch, CEO of GE came storming into the NBC broadcast both demanding that NBC call the election for Bush and threatening anyone in the room who wouldn’t do so…or how about the late Tim Russert meeting Geroge W. Bush and showing him his “W” pin that was under his lapel.
    Rush has you brainwashed with non-facts (ok, lies) that there is some slant in the media. Facts are non-partisan. As Sen Biden said to Sen Graham in a total beatdown …”you can have your own opinion…just not your own facts.”
    You need to have your facts checked buddie, your posts are getting weaker by the day and they are starting to loose the looney creativity that you once had.

  5. Lee Muller

    Your citing the other 14% who are not yellow dog Democrats in control of the news media does not negate the fact of the 86% who are. Would you like a link to the polls of the journalists?
    How about Dan Rather being the MC for Al Gore fundraisers? Real objective. And the audience and donors was full of journalists.
    Accuracy in Media used to be part of the Columbia School of Journalism. They were exposing Walter Cronkite for phonying up battle reporting from Hue in Vietnam 40 years ago. I don’t think Columbia is “right wing” since it was also the home of SDS back then.
    The media just can’t stand honest reporting on themselves. They can’t stand talk radio exposing their propaganda. They can’t stand mere amateurs like lawyers, doctors and engineers countering their sop with facts and detail explanations on the Internet.

  6. Lee Muller

    I give credit where it is due, as when the Boston Globe investigated those bogus stories about Bush not showing up for drill in the TANG, when actually he had extra drills and too much flying time.

  7. Brad Warthen

    Lee’s completely right, although he attaches too much importance to the point.
    I wouldn’t try to quantify it, but it would be my guess that most front-line news people who vote (some don’t) are more likely to vote for the Democrat. It’s not that they’re doctrinaire or passionate about it; they just have these vague, fuzzy leanings that go that way.
    I feel perfectly fine saying that because what they do has nothing to do with me. Not being an identity politics kind of guy, and hating Groupthink the way I do (particularly the party kind), it doesn’t affect me either way. I neither feel the urge to be like them, nor the urge to make a point to be their opposite.
    Going into a given year, I don’t know whether I’ll vote for more Democrats or more Republicans. It could go either way. I probably vote in more Republican PRIMARIES here on the state and local level, because I live in Lexington County, and there is seldom a contested Democratic primary there. At the same time, the editorial board I lead has endorsed SLIGHTLY more Democrats than Republicans in general elections over the years. On the other hand, as the Democrats love to complain, no one remembers when The State last endorsed a Democrat for president, and you know how some people are — they only count presidential elections, probably because some people only follow presidential elections, and don’t have strong opinions about anything else.
    I generally vote the way our endorsements go, but not always. Bottom line: Going into an election, I don’t know which party’s candidates will get more of my vote, so I know for sure that YOU don’t know. You may be a mind-reader, but you can’t read in my mind something that isn’t there.
    By the way, I’m a bit of a mind-reader myself. I know that right now, Doug’s getting worked up and fixin’ to write a comment complaining that we almost always DO endorse either a Dem or a Rep. And there’s a simple reason for that — all serious candidates run as one or the other. I wish it weren’t the case, but it’s been a long time since, say, a Bubba Cromer ran as an independent.
    Most “alternative” candidates are shall we say VERY fringe.

  8. Stewie

    Once again, you got your fact wrong Lee. You really gotta stop listening to Rush.
    Fact. Bush’s superior officers were unable to complete his annual evaluation for 1972 because, “Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report.”
    This was Alabama, not Texas.
    According to records released by the White House itself, Bush may have fallen short on MINIMUM requirements expected for Guard members. Bush served 25 days of combined active and weekend Guard duty between May 27, 1972 and May 26, 1973, even though minimum requirements were one weekend a month–24 days a year–plus another 15 days of active duty. Moreover, in 1973 Bush received 15 extra (called “gratuitous”) points toward the 50 points needed each year toward his retirement. Guard members commonly received such extras if they had already met the minimum 50 points each year without the additional points. Bush only earned 41 points during the 1972-3 year. According to Wayne Rambo, who was chief administrative officer of the Alabama unit to which Bush was assigned, “that would have been a decided violation of the norm” because extra points were meant “only as a reward to reservists for meeting their bottom line.
    …but if you want to keep this up, its fine with me.
    P.S. Dan Rather’s downfall was he got sloppy. His facts were correct in his reporting and never disputed.
    Does Big Corportations and Hollywood need to get out of journalism? Absolutely and this goes on both sides. But for every so-called left wing reporter or publication, I’ll name you three right wingers gasbags.
    Fair & Balanced my left cheek.

  9. Mike Cakora

    Media folks obviously don’t give up their right to vote when they become journalists, reporters, or editors, but one does hope that they’re able to apply balanced judgment in determining what’s newsworthy. I think the mainstream media are failing in that and offer this AP article on Frank Marshall Davis as Exhibit 12791. Davis, an American journalist, poet and political and labor movement activist, was an important mentor to the young Obama as the article indicates. Some of what made Davis tick is evident and it’s no wonder that he had a pervasive influence the Chosen One, a fact Obama noted in his autobiography.
    Yet nowhere in the AP article does the writer mention that Davis was a member of the Communist Party, and that gained him a bit of notoriety. The guy was radical in all sorts of things, some of which we today regard as humdrum, and was considered as a leading black intellectual at the time. That he was a Party member is newsworthy, so why did the reporter leave that one small fact out? Was it fear of hurting Obama?

  10. Brad Warthen

    Have you no sense of decency, Mr. Cakora, at long last?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist the opening there.

    Getting serious, I actually know a prominent journalist or two who does NOT vote. Seems awfully extreme to me. It also seems like something that could produce the opposite effect of the desired "objectivity."

    I believe the problem with most journalists is that, because they do NOT declare a preference in writing about politics, fail to examine the preferences that they have. And their insight as journalists suffers as a result of this lack of self-insight (here we go with self-absorption again, but in this case I think it would be salutary).

    When I started writing opinion full-time (I had done dribs and drabs of it in Tennessee years earlier), I actually had to engage in sustained thought about WHAT I thought and WHY I thought it. I had to think more deeply, and more carefully. I had to anticipate counterarguments from the hundreds of thousands of people who would read what I wrote, and want to pick it apart. This caused me to examine half-held opinions that were hardly worthy of a thinking person, once I dissected them. I was startled to see just how shallow my analysis of events had been up to that point. And it helped reinforce something I suspected: That most journalists, because they assiduously avoid taking sides, drift through life sort of vaguely attached to the political attitudes that they passively absorbed in their college days, which is possibly the last time their beliefs underwent any sort of serious challenge. And that means they drift through life sort of vaguely "liberal," although if they HAD to drop the whole "objectivity" deal and expound upon their own political philosophies, they couldn’t do it, even to save their lives.

    But that’s just my rough impresssion, mind you. Anyway, all of it leads me to suspect that the best way to get more journalists to think and write with true fairness and objectivity is to make them write opinion, at least occasionally. Counterintuitive, ain’t it?

  11. p.m.

    Instead of thinking about thinking, or the media reporting on the media, here’s a summary on the question at hand:
    McCain 26 years in Congress, Obama 143 days.
    McCain 22 years in military, Obama none.
    Summary concluded.

  12. Lee Muller

    —- Bush vs Kerry – the reporting ————
    The bottom line is that Bush’s enlistment with the TANG was ending right after school started, he had 600 extra hours of drill and flying time, so he asked for an early out in order to not miss an entire year of Harvard Business School, or maybe miss the opportunity altogether. His CO complied. He earned it.
    By contrast, John Kerry falsified his war record and exaggerated some minor injuries into an early out of the Naval Reserve. Then he became a stooge for the KGB which was funding his anti-war group.

  13. Lee Muller

    The way for to get more educated to read the paper again is for the journalists to just report the facts, all the pertinent facts, and leave out the slanting.
    And opinion columnists need to base their opinions on facts, not “everybody knows”.
    When the Boomers are gone, newspapers are gone. The current generation of young people has had alternatives to the arrogance of newspapers for their entire lives.

  14. bud

    Sorry Brad, no matter how much you say it. And you may even believe it, I simply don’t buy this independent mantel that you’ve taken on for yourself. No independent thinker could have ever endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. His first four years were a complete and utter disaster. And by your own admission the last Democrat you endorsed was Jimmy Carter. Give me a break.

  15. Lee Muller

    He didn’t really endorse Bush in 2004.
    He just had to face reality – Kerry was a goon , a playboy with no accomplishments, a former stooge of the KGB who lacked good judgement.
    Kind of like Obama in 2008.
    McCain is the most acceptable Democrat.

  16. Mike Cakora

    Sometimes one needs a cattle prod to awaken the press’s interest.
    Folks digging into the details of the Obama / Bill Ayers (1960s radical bomber, 1980s university professor, political activist) have recently been thwarted by shenanigans and politicians in my home town, Chicago. The mainstream press finally took notice today:

    Conservative writer Stanley Kurtz — researching an article for the National Review about connections between Barack Obama and former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers — made a big mistake.
    The poor man took a wrong turn on the Chicago Way. Now he’s lost.
    Kurtz’s research was to be done in a special library run by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The library has 132 boxes full of documents pertaining to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation vested heavily in school reform.

    Kurtz had received assurances that he’d be able to do the research and was given a list of the boxes’ contents. However, when he arrived, he was told that the collection was not available.

    “This is a public entity,” Kurtz told us Wednesday. “I don’t understand how confidentiality of the donor would be an issue.”
    You don’t understand, Mr. Kurtz? Allow me to explain. The secret is hidden in the name of the library:

    The Richard J. Daley Library.

    The Richard J. Daley Library doesn’t want nobody nobody sent. And Richard J.’s son, Shortshanks, is now the mayor.

    Perhaps Kurtz will get access, the mainstream media will find the story interesting, the current Mayor Daley will continue to sound as incoherent as his old man… what’s come out so far is interesting and may explain Daley’s remarks:

    “People keep trying to align himself [Ayers] with Barack Obama,” Daley said. “It’s really unfortunate. They’re friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he’s been making a strong contribution to our community.”

    The 1990s were so long ago…

  17. bud

    The United States of America is a wonderful and exciting place to live in. We have a significant amount of freedom to pursue our life’s ambitions and we’re generally allowed to do so the way we see fit. Unfortunatally the Bush Administration and their lackeys in congress, including John McCain and to a lessor extent Barack Obama, are doing their best to undermine the great traditions of the USA. Bush has been a champion of “optional” wars that have nothing to do with American security. During the course of prosecuting one these wars, Iraq, Bush and his legal team have stepped all over the constitutional freedoms that we take for granted. He’s used torture techniques that go against international conventions and in his diabolical attempt to secure a legacy for himself he’s continued to push for more power for himself (wiretapping for instance), the constitution be damned.
    Both presidential candidates have fallen short of an absolute condemnation of these activities. For his part Obama’s greatest disappointment is his support of legislation that would prevent lawsuits against the telecommunication industry for their role in unconstitutional wiretapping. That issue is probably one of the reasons his support among liberals has fallen.
    For his part McCain’s breathtaking flip flop on the torture issue stands as perhaps the most flaggrant switch of a political position in the history of American politics.
    Sadly our media has largely ignored both of these stunning events of political pandering. It’s time we take back our government from those who would us it for personal gain. Obama is our best shot but he must be held accountable for his failures just like anyone else. The good news is the worst president in American history will soon be relegated to the dustheap of history and we can begin to undo the damage he has done. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

  18. Brad Warthen

    First, bud (and I’m responding to an earlier comment, not your last one), your logic is inverted regarding the 2004 presidential general election endorsement. If someone is an independent, then all candidates are on the table and in consideration. The PARTISAN thing to do is to dismiss even the possibility of endorsing one candidate or the other, as you do. Neither endorsing Bush nor endorsing Kerry is shocking to the independent mind. Endorsing Bush is anathema to Bush-hating Democrats, not to independents — not even to Bush-disliking independents such as this editorial board.
    Next, I don’t know what you’re referring to when you say “by your own admission the last Democrat you endorsed was Jimmy Carter.”
    The closest thing I can think of that I might have said was that Jimmy Carter was the last presidential nominee (before McCain and Obama) that I, personally, enthusiastically liked. That’s the wonderful thing about 2008 for me. Liking BOTH nominees so much is a real treat for me; it’s been a long time since I liked either.
    If you’re talking “endorsement” as in the newspaper’s endorsement, what I’ve said is that I don’t know when the newspaper last endorsed a Democrat for PRESIDENT. I’ve made a couple of abortive stabs at researching it, but each time have ended up deciding that the time it would take just isn’t worth it. For instance, I’ll skim through editorials from a given year and not find an endorsement in the month before the election (before I became editor, the paper was sort of ambivalent about endorsements — sometimes it did them; sometimes not), so then I’m reduced to trying to INFER a preference from non-endorsement editorials, and it just gets frustrating. And those earlier efforts were back when I had twice the staff I have now.
    So about the newspaper, I don’t know. I do know that since Bill Workman’s day back in the 60s, the newspaper has tended to back Republicans in presidential elections, and has done so each time since I joined the board (1996, 2000, 2004).
    Here’s an anecdote that might interest you: I strongly disapproved of the newspaper’s endorsement of Bush over Clinton in 1992, and let my disapproval be known rather loudly. I was in the newsroom, and not a member of the board, at the time. I did not mind that the paper had chosen Bush over Clinton — I thought both men to be respectable choices, even though I wasn’t crazy about either. What got me was the reasoning that the endorsement used. As I recall, it preferred Bush on libertarian grounds, as one who would be better for the market economy or some such.
    My ranting on the subject got repeated to the publisher at an inopportune time — when I was a candidate for the editorial board. And it was presented to him in a light unfavorable to me — that I was “too liberal” for The State, since I thought it beyond the pale to have endorsed the Republican (in other words, I was represented to the boss man as being like bud).
    The moment that got back to me through the grapevine, I charged up to the publisher’s office and asked to see him without an appointment (I had never been there before). I was admitted, and I confronted the rumor directly. I explained my thoughts regarding the Bush endorsement clearly and frankly, and when I was done I was a contender again. Not that the publisher agreed with me about that endorsement — he didn’t. But he respected my reasoning.
    But enough with that digression. As I say, I’m fuzzy on the newspaper’s history before that 92 election.
    One last consideration: If you think Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat I supported with my own personal vote, you are very mistaken. Since 1980 (and in that one I of course chose Carter over Reagan), I have voted Democratic three times and Republican three times.

  19. Lee Muller

    What do you like about all Obama’s close associates who are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers?

  20. zzazzeefrazzee

    P.M.- One readily wonders if such a summary would have been just as cogent back in 2000 during the SC primaries?
    Yet such a comparison seemingly mattered little at the time. Rather, malicious insinuations that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black baby, together with which candidate wore their religion more proudly on their sleeve were issues given far greater weight by the local voting populace.
    Yet now this time around I hear that “experience” matters more? What rank hypocrisy.

  21. p.m.

    Actually, sassyfrassy, old buddy, old pal, I voted for McCain in the 2000 GOP primary, not Bush.
    I think that excuses me from your accusation of “rank hypocrisy,” but if not, well, so be it.
    After Carter and Clinton I vowed never to vote for a Democrat for president again, and I full well intend to keep that vow.
    Democrats have been ruining America for the last 50 years, and they’ve ruined politics, too, for the sake of lining their hypocritical pockets.

  22. Lee Muller

    Funny how Obama, who never held a full-time job, went from
    making $50,000 in Illinois,
    to his wife being put on a hospital board for $120,000. 2003
    to being elected to the US Senate at $160,000. 2006
    to his wife’s pay being tripled to $360,000 in 2006
    to having convicted swindler Rezko help them buy a $2,500,000 mansion for $1,000,000 – after Obama helped him get $14,000,000 in subidies. 2006
    to making $4,000,000 in 2007 off his book and speaking.

  23. Doug Ross

    I won’t argue with your assertions about Obama’s rise to prominence if you will agree that John McCain would not be in the position to run for President had he not had an affair with a multi-millionaire beer distribution heiress and dumped his wife for that same woman. McCain jumped on the gravy train and has been riding in first class ever since.
    Cue Kanye West’s “Golddigger”…

  24. bud

    Brad if you voted for a Democrat for president then I stand correct. But this is a new presidential cycle. We need to focus on what the candidates are saying now as oppossed to 2000. Sadly McCain is not the same man he was in 2000. It’s just as plain as day. His recent ads, association with Phil Gramm and his insulting accusations against Barack Obama’s patriotism are pathetic. Obama is not nearly as liberal as I would like but he’s a huge step back from the horrors of the Bush years. McSame is simply in lock-step with Bush.

  25. Lee Muller

    McCain is absolutely a Senator because he married a rich woman.
    So is John Kerry.
    Diane Feinstein is Senator because she married a wealthy real estate developer while she was mayor of SF.
    Most Senators are millionaires. If they weren’t before, the become one very quickly, as Obama and Hillary have.

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