Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘mass media

If the News Media Were a Person You Were Dating

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2011 at 10:49 am

Don’t Promise the Apocalypse Unless You Can Deliver

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Was Irene overhyped? Nate Silver crunches the numbers.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

No More 11-Dimensional Chess

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Obama loses Jon Stewart. A quirk of our system of adversarial political reporting is that the strongest arguments against Obama’s handling of the oil spill are relegated to boutique outlets like Rolling Stone; because Republicans are unable to argue that Obama’s should have done a better job cleaning up after their Caligulan corruption, it is not discussed. I’m glad to see Stewart let loose like this; maybe someone else in the media will notice.

Off-Year Election Predictions and Random Speculations on the Future of the GOP

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Off-Year Election Predictions! The three elections tomorrow that will dominate spin in the press about whether America loves or hates Barack Obama are, of course, VA-GOV, NJ-GOV, and NY-23.

VA-GOV: It seems pretty over for Deeds, and pro-Democrat spinners will be well-advised to focus their attention elsewhere. “You know, Virginia’s still in the South” and “Virginia always votes against the White House” are the best Democrats have here, with a big helping of “And Deeds ran a lousy campaign, largely against Obama” for flavor.

NJ-GOV: The polls are close, with the most recent showing a slight edge to Chris Christie, but I really think between Daggett and a superior get-out-the-vote operation Corzine will manage to eke out the win here.

So (if I’m right) that’s 1-1, and it all comes down to NY-23. This is a crazy three-way race, with the Republican, Dede Scozzafava, suddenly pulling out over the weekend (though she’ll remain on the ballot) and then, even more surprisingly, tossing a strong endorsement behind the Democrat, Bill Owens. The Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, has the support of national popular-in-Republican-circles like Sarah Palin behind him, but doesn’t actually live in the district or know all that much about it, and will likely be hurt by straight-ticket Republican voting by people who may not have even heard Scozzafava’s dropped out.

I won’t presume to insult Nate Silver by calling the race when he called it a coin-flip, but I will note that either way the results of this very unusual House race in a small district in upstate New York will likely determine who “wins” the spin war in the national press and thereby determine the tenor of electoral coverage going into 2010—which is as good an indictment of contemporary journalism as any I think you’ll see this week.

It will be very interesting, win or lose in NY-23, to see what lessons the GOP takes from the Hoffman ascendancy as we go into 2010 and 2012, and, indeed, what effect running hard to the right will have on their chances if that’s how they decide to go. The conventional view is that running away from the center hurts a party’s electoral prospects, but I’m not at all convinced the American electorate is quite so rational in its decision-making. It could just be that the pendulum swings back and forth between whatever two parties happen to exist at the moment, regardless of the content of their positions. As I wrote back in May:

More and more I think there’s only two possibilities: Either the GOP is in fact in a death spiral and will actually disappear as a national party within the next decade, or the GOP has realized that in a two-party system you don’t actually need to say you’re sorry; you can just sit back and wait for your opponents to have bad luck, then go crazy once you’re back in office. After that incumbency will protect you for a good, long while, and even to the extent it doesn’t you can accomplish long-term goals in a very short timespan with party unity, weak opposition, and a compliant, mendacious press.

Jury’s still out. NY-23 will be an interesting first data point.

Daily Show v. CNN

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On Bias

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So rather than pointing out what actually happened — that right-wing claims about march attendance were false and debunked by news organizations — they have to pretend that this is, as always, nothing more than an irreconcilable dispute about reality between the Right and the Left, and it’s not up to Time to tell their readers what the truth is, because that’s not their role, since they’re objective and unbiased.

Glenn Greenwald on the 9/12 rally and reality’s well-documented liberal bias.

UPDATE: Steve Benen just put up another case study in media “objectivity.”

Written by gerrycanavan

September 17, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Another Tuesday Night Linkdump

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Another Tuesday night linkdump.

* Anthony Karen photographs the KKK for Life Magazine.

* A public records request to the offices of Mark Sanford has revealed actually existing media bias: conservatives outlets promising the governor a safe place to spin his story. Even Colbert got into the act, writing Sanford in character. (Via Steve Benen.)

* Neil sends along this video of four artists painting the same (digital) canvas at once, though both he and I agree it’s somehow not quite as cool as it seems like it should be.

* Happy birthday, MetaFilter!

Written by gerrycanavan

July 15, 2009 at 1:08 am

Wednesday Night MetaFilterFilter

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Wednesday night MetaFilterFilter.

* NASA climatologist James Hansen, recently arrested at an anti-mountaintop-mining demonstration in West Virginia, says we’re almost too late to stop climate change. I wonder about that “almost.”

* Nate Silver considers the legislative strategy at work in the upcoming Waxman-Markey vote.

* Mapping relationships in the X-Men Universe.

* An early Christmas present for my father? Corzine trails badly in New Jersey.

* Lots of talk lately about Robert Charles Wilson’s anti-Singulatarian Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century. Here’s an interview at io9 that takes up that angle, while Cory Doctorow highlights this blurb:

If Jules Verne had read Karl Marx, then sat down to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he still wouldn’t have matched the invention and exuberance of Robert Charles Wilson’s Julian Comstock.

* Dancing plagues and mass hysteria. Via MeFi.

* How complexity leads to social collapse: some intriguing historical exploration from Paul Kedrosky. Also via MeFi.

* Roger Ebert explains how Bill O’Reilly works.

O’Reilly represents a worrisome attention shift in the minds of Americans. More and more of us are not interested in substance. The nation has cut back on reading. Most eighth graders can’t read a newspaper. A sizable percentage of the population doesn’t watch television news at all. They want entertainment, or “news” that is entertainment. Many of us grew up in the world where most people read a daily paper and watched network and local newscasts. “All news” radio stations and TV channels were undreamed-of. News was a destination, not a generic commodity. Journalists, the good ones anyway, had ethical standards.

In those days, if you quoted The New York Times, you were bringing an authority to the table. Now O’Reilly–O’Reilly!–advises viewers to cancel their subscriptions to a paper most of them may not have ever seen. In those days, if the wire services reported something, it probably happened. Today the wire services remain indispensable, but waste resources in producing celebrity info-nuggets that belong in trash magazines. Advertisers now seek readers they once thought of as shoplifters. If nuclear war breaks out, the average citizen of a Western democracy will be better informed about Brittny Spears than the causes of their death.

Discussion (where else?) at MeFi.

Sanford on the Teevee

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Mark Sanford’s political career is ending at the press conference going on now. It’s painful to watch: after an awkward introduction that sung the praises of the Appalachian Trail, he segued into apologies to (so far) his kids, wife, staff, political supporters, parents-in-law, and the people of South Carolina. He hasn’t said yet what he’s apologizing for, but it’s not looking good.

UPDATE: Yeah, he’s been cheating on his wife. But that’s the B-story—he ran off for a week without telling anybody on his staff what he was doing or where he was going. He’s obviously got to resign the governorship. Hopefully the reporters have the sense to ask the right questions here, not just the salacious ones.

UPDATE 2: So far the reporters have stuck entirely to salacious questions about his marriage and his mistress. Well done, fellows. What about the state responsibilities he shirked? Can we get some real questions here?

UPDATE 3: Okay, finally we’re getting some real questions about the fact that he lied to his staff about where he was going. (He admits he did.) And it’s at that moment he runs off the podium, to audible questions about whether he will resign.

UPDATE 4: The coverage on MSNBC has been amazingly bad. We’ve had a parade of Republicans and political analysts with deep solemnity praising Sanford’s “honesty” and explaining that no one should try to “make political hay” out of this. (Quoted language was obviously in the distributed talking points.) The man was caught at the airport by a reporter after changing his flight plans to try to avoid the press, after lying to his staff and ditching his official responsibilities for no good reason. To turn this into some morality play is soap opera coverage at its absolute worst. The adultery is irrelevant and the “honesty” a joke. It’s about the job he was elected to do.

When will we get a real press corps?

UPDATE 5: According to the Kos thread, even Fox is handling this better:

11:55AM: Fox’s Bill Sammon just layed down the law, all but saying Mark Sanford was done. Given Sammon’s influence over Fox political coverage, that’s pretty much a political death sentence even in the land of wingnuttia.

UPDATE 6: Someone at MSNBC must be watching Fox; Tamron Hall just called bullshit on everything MSNBC broadcast over the last hour and did a great job doing it, explicitly downplaying the soap opera in favor of the job issues in the process.

UPDATE 6: And of course Fox hardly deserves full marks.

Another accident! What are the odds? Curse the luck!

Thursday! Again!

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Thursday again! How does this keep happening?

* Today is the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. MetaFilter remembers.

* Planetary #27 finally on its way. October.

* New Hampshire officially passes marriage equality. It looked for a while like nitpicking from the governor’s office might actually kill this; very glad it didn’t.

* Country first: Lindsey Graham admits he puts the Republican Party before the good of the nation.

* In the wake of Dr. George Tiller’s assassination, a frequent Fox News guest has put photos and addresses for the last two late-term abortion providers in the country on the Web.

* Obama speaks in Cairo.

* E.J. Dionne on the corporate media’s continued rightward slant. More from Steve Benen.

* The recession: a global view. It’s important to remember how good America actually has it—and that the current level of hardship in the States is, relatively speaking, not even all that bad.

* Here comes heath care. Donkeylicious says Team Edwards has something to crow about here. Maybe, but the health-care justification for Edwards’s (and later Hillary Clinton’s) candidacy long past viability was always weak—the plan you campaign on is never the plan that gets passed.

* And sad news: Bill, killed. Early reports declare David Carradine a suicide.

I Dreamed a Dream

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Has the media feeding frenzy ever destroyed anyone as fast as it destroyed poor Susan Boyle?

Written by gerrycanavan

June 3, 2009 at 6:48 am

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You Have to Admit It’s Getting Better

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Hard times in Republican-town: a new Gallup poll shows steep losses for the GOP across all demographics except conservatives, “frequent churchgoers,” and senior citizens. (Via MyDD and TPM.)

More and more I think there’s only two possibilities: Either the GOP is in fact in a death spiral and will actually disappear as a national party within the next decade, or the GOP has realized that in a two-party system you don’t actually need to say you’re sorry; you can just sit back and wait for your opponents to have bad luck, then go crazy once you’re back in office. After that incumbency will protect you for a good, long while, and even to the extent it doesn’t you can accomplish long-term goals in a very short timespan with party unity, weak opposition, and a compliant, mendacious press.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 19, 2009 at 5:27 pm

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Friday Night Miscellany

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* Batman and D&D alignment. I think “chaotic evil”‘s a bit of a stretch. Via Neilalien.

* Lesbians have seized control of the world’s supply of poems. It is appropriate to panic.

* Star Trek as liberal fantasy: 1, 2, 3. I’m planning on seeing it tomorrow, I’ll have more to say then. (Image via Matt Yglesias.)

* Wire creator David Simon testifies before Congress on the death of newspapers.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 9, 2009 at 3:05 am

Poor Sonia Sotomayor

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UPDATE: The author of the original TNR piece, Jeffrey Rosen, has returned to defend the article blame his editor.

Poor Sonia Sotomayor: she hasn’t even been nominated yet and she’s already been smeared six ways from Sunday. Glenn Greenwald, as usual, has the definitive must-read take on all this, particularly with regard to the calculated misuse of anonymity to manufacture a impression that, whether false or true, contains none of the factual content required for proper evaluation in the first place.

TPM and Matt Yglesias (1, 2) have been on this too.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm


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I’m 4.6% as terrified since the World Health Organization announced that there are only seven confirmed cases of swine flu fatality in Mexico, not 152. But I’m 2100% more angry at sensationalistic media hype and cynical fear-mongering from people who, by now, should at least be pretending to know better.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 29, 2009 at 5:28 pm

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