This is just remarkable. And it may be the 7th Sign.
I try not to read David Brooks any more than I have to because every time I do I wind up wanting to throw things. Through the years he has established himself as one of the most reliably disingenuous, dishonest propagandists on the GOP payroll, a fork-tongued weasel who can’t say hello without lying. And BAM! Here, without warning or precedent, he smacks us in the lips us with the truest thing I’ve read in days.
The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor. Read more
You know how every so often somebody will publish a list of the greatest rock bands in history? Those usually make for interesting reading. Beatles, check. Rolling Stones, check. Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix Experience, U2, The Who, Nirvana, Celine Dion, REM… Wait, what? Back up.
Always happens. You have your obvious picks, you have some fresh blood that may be just controversial enough to spark conversation (and site traffic), and then you have your moments of pure barking idiocy that completely annihilate the credibility of the whole enterprise. As it turns out, the same thing happens when prestigious university faculties go about honoring the greatest journalists of the past century. Read more
Yesterday I attempted to shed a little light on the PR crisis strategy behind the Komen Foundation’s sudden Planned Parenthood “backtracking.”
Contrary to what Komen’s highly-paid PR crisis hacks and gullible headline writers at newsdesks around the nation would ask you to believe, The Susan G. Komen Foundation does NOT promise to fund Planned Parenthood in the future. They promise to let PP APPLY for grants in the future. Applying and receiving are different things, as anyone who ever applied and got rejected for a job ought to know. Read more
The following two headlines are factually accurate and grammatically equivalent.
1: Spokeo Violates Federal Consumer Protection Law, Group Alleges
2: Group Alleges Spokeo Violates Federal Consumer Protection Law
However, from a journalistic ethics standpoint, item #1 is problematic.
It started innocently enough:
A tea party organizer angry over Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va.) vote in favor of health care reform published what he thought was the freshman member’s home address on a blog, in case any readers “want to drop by” and provide a “personal touch” to their views.
Unfortunately, mistakes were made: Read more
Something wicked this way comes.
There are a number of problems with these assertions, not the least of which is that when Saudi terrorists started flying hijacked jets into large buildings on September 11, 2001, George W. Bush had been president of the United States for the better part of eight months. The lapses in memory noted above are all striking, but especially so in the case of Giuliani, who was, from September 11 until he dropped out of the presidential race on January 30, 2008 (a span of roughly 2,332 days, if my math is accurate), unable to say so much as “hello” without somehow shoehorning “9/11” into the conversation. Read more
On September 22, Politico ran an article by Glenn Thrush that egregiously misrepresented the words of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). The subject was town hall meetings and racist comments that he had witnessed. In due course Thrush’s “error” was “pointed out” and Perriello’s actual words were substituted. (The original post, corrected, appears here.) Thrush then issued an explanation and apology.
So far, no crisis. Mistakes happen, are fixed, retractions and apologies are run, the world is right again, right? Read more
Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric
The Signal-to-Noise Journey of American Media
The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.
In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Read more
Part one of a two-part series.
From Cronkite to Couric: the Kingdom of Signal is swallowed by the Empire of Noise
The recent death of Walter Cronkite spurred the predictable outpouring of tributes, each reverencing in its own way a man who was the face and voice of journalism in America for a generation or more. The irony of all these accolades is that we live in an age where “broadcast journalist” is such a cruel oxymoron, and we seem to speeding headlong into an era where the word “journalist” itself threatens to become a freestanding joke. Why, against this backdrop, would so many people who are so involved in the daily repudiation of everything that Cronkite stood for make such a show memorializing the standard by which they so abjectly fail?
As I read what people had to say about Cronkite, I realized that something I studied and wrote about over a decade ago helps explain why our contemporary media has gone so deeply, tragically wrong. Read more
Once upon a time the Denver Post was a pretty good newspaper. These days? Well, it’s pretty much like every other newspaper. And that isn’t a compliment. On Sunday last (the 21st) we were presented with a front-page, above-the-fold case study in what happens when budget cuts drive too many professionals out of the newsroom and talent that might once have served the public interest in a journalistic role turns to public relations.
Short version: Read more
When readership began dropping among younger demographics, they didn’t innovate. When new media technologies began emerging in the early ’90s, they didn’t innovate. When Craigslist began eating their lunch and fucking their trophy wives on the dinner table, they didn’t innovate – not unless “hey, if we fired all the employees, we’d theoretically be infinitely profitable” counts as innovation.
But now, now they’re innovating. Like lemmings on rocket skates they’re innovating. Check out the brains on these geniuses, would ya? Read more
Sometimes it’s the small things that get the day off to a rollicking start. Like this, from the Denver Post.
“The opportunity to run one of the state’s most prestigious research universities sounds pretty good to soon-to-be unemployed politicians like Sen. Wayne Allard and state Rep. Bernie Buescher. “
For those of you unfamiliar with the state of Colorado, we probably have upwards of two research universities. So when you get a chance to run one of the more prestigious ones, you really have to jump at it.
Friends have lately had to endure my ranting about how pathetic and irresponsible the media is when it comes to reporting on things scientific and statistical. The issue that has most commonly set me off lately has been the way the US press has turned SARS into the Black Death, damned near annihilating the Ontario economy in the process.
Fact is, if you go to Toronto, SARS does pose a threat to your health. If, while there, you fight your way past security, break into a respiratory quarantine, and French-kiss an elderly patient who suffers from the disease. If you’re just walking the streets, you have a better chance being run down by a taxicab than you do of contracting SARS. Read more
A roundtable between Jay DeFrank, Greg Stene, Denny Wilkins and myself.
It begins with Matt Taibbi’s column in New York Press.com this morning: “Cleaning the Pool: The White House Press Corps politely grabs its ankles.” You really need to read this first.
So Dr. Denny Wilkins, our friend and colleague at St. Bonaventure University (no connection to the basketball program, by the way), sends the column along, and it touches off a little exchange involving him, Greg Stene, Col. Jay DeFrank (that’s Dr. Col. DeFrank, actually, Director of Press Operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs – in layman’s terms, that makes him director of Media Relations for the Dept. of Defense), and myself. I’ve collated these e-mails into what I hope will be a semi-coherent blog.
Greg: Truly an excellent piece. Representing reality as it is, unfortunately. Read more