Americans and Their News Media

June 4, 2008

Here’s a post from a blogger observing the media’s treatment of Barack Obama.

I try to view this impartially and simply assess the situation. It appears to me that one can make a case that NBC does in fact have a bias toward Obama. On the whole, the numbers do show that he is getting the most face time. Whether this is a convincing case is a decision left to the listener. I caught a podcast of Meet the Press today, which included this week’s interview with Harold Ickes, adviser to the Clinton campaign. Tim Russert was certainly aggressive — as he often is — but I do believe the conversation was slightly more unpleasant than usual. I don’t blame Russert; this campaign is becoming more bitter because of its prolonged nature and the evaporating rationale for its continuation. Someone has to ask these questions.

The end result, regardless of any emperical evidence, is that both of the Democratic Party’s factions are beginning to dig in their heels and come to final conclusions. It appears clear that the Clinton campaign will claim that yes, Obama won the delegates, but we won the popular vote (or some mathematical derivative thereof). Furthermore, the belief that the media exercised undue influence will persist.

There is evidence that people, whoever they may be, are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the news media. Here is the excpert from the most recent Pew Research survey:

Most Americans (56%) have an unfavorable opinion of the news media, while just 40% express a favorable view. Positive opinions of the news media have declined since March 2007; at that time, 49% expressed an unfavorable view while 45% had a favorable opinion.

Women hold more favorable views of the press than do men, and Democrats hold more favorable views than either Republicans or independents. Conservatives are much more negative in their assessments of the press than are moderates or liberals.

I believe it safe to presume that this due in large part to election coverage this season. The only contingent to have a net favorable view of the media is “Democrats,” by 4%. The seemingly related “Liberal” category was close, but still holds a negative view of the media.

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Sen. Clinton in Bosnia

March 26, 2008

You just can’t predict the next controversy.

Hopefully this incident will finally bring to light the belief that these two should not argue about “experience,” which, though important, is not solid ground for either candidate.

By the way, do you know what your congressman is doing or saying right now? Does anyone seem to care?


Bill O’Reilly on Obama’s Coverage

March 4, 2008

Just a few moments ago Brit Hume was speaking with Bill O’Reilly about tonight’s primary contests.

O’Reilly mentioned that the New York Times, due to its McCain-affair assertions, has damaged its reputation and will continue to suffer financially. (I doubt that can be ascertained from these current events; they just may galvanize a like-minded support base).

He noted NBC’s affinity for Obama, while brining up the Saturday Night Live treatment as well. He cited a statistic: that Obama’s news coverage has been 83% positive. He seems to think that these things will lead to a Clinton resurgance.

He described NBC’s supposed favoritism as “corrupt.” He qualified that by stating that, if NBC is going to be supportive of Obama, they should come right out and say so.

The media, of course, doesn’t have a political angle. Doesn’t O’Reilly know that?


Another Saturday Night Intercession

March 2, 2008

Previously mentioned: last week’s Saturday Night Live skit regarding the media’s portrayal the Democratic primary race. The most recent edition of SNL included another commentary on this issue, which is quite interesting. Twice now, Saturday Night Live has taken it upon itself to address media bias directly.

Hillary Clinton Does SNL

Outside the Beltway notes that this sense of partiality is odd, that it is more customary to make light of both candidates. I have to believe, though, that they are doing this in large part because no one else is. Moreover, the candidates are hardly being parodied at all; the object of the joke is NBC.

As an aside: this appearance, like Mike Huckabee’s, came off fairly well. Such a thing is always a risk. (Recall George W. Bush on David Letterman).


American Media ♥ Barack

March 1, 2008

The suspicion that Barack Obama is getting comparatively favorable media coverage is coming into discussion.

Media Expert Decries Campaign Coverage

The article references this Saturday Night Live skit:

THE SKIT

This is, of course, a topic of great interest to this blog. I often wonder what is behind media bias, real or perceived. MSNBC, for example, has been accused of being Obama’s loudest cheering section (SNL apparently agrees). Is it because they have an ideological affinity for him? Is it because there is some economic incentive for them to cover him more favorably?

Is it even the case that he is receiving better treatment? If so, we can agree that it is something very significant. We would need some means of determining the particular bias in each news source we encounter. Lacking that, we would be nothing but suspicious of our largest news outlets.

What responsibility does the media have? Should they come out and tell us what their angle is…or do we expect that they shouldn’t have one?


Clinton vs. Drudge (2008 Edition)

February 27, 2008

If Matt Drudge is mentioned in a presidential debate the topic likely to be controversial.

Brian Williams Hits Clinton With Obama Photo Question at Debate Outset

Instead of shielding the source, The Drudge Report readily admits that the photograph was forwarded from the Clinton campaign. I am reminded of the Valerie Plame incident, when Judith Miller was sent to jail for protecting her sources. Why exactly she chose to do this is still up for debate; however, at the time many hailed it as a noble defense of the media’s independence. There appeared very quickly some different opinions. At face value, the New York Times had been played like a fiddle. Someone had blatantly used the media to a political end. Instead of exposing this for what it was, Miller went to prison with plenty of well-wishing from certain voices.

The Drudge Report wasted no time in making the Obama photo situation perfectly clear. Apparently its editor does not tolerate the appearance of political manipulation, which is commendable. His consistency, of course, hasn’t entirely been tested.

It’s worth noting that Matt Drudge was the person who broke the Monica Lewinsky story in 1998, ten years and some odd days ago. That event put his website on the map, and opened the world’s eyes to a new form of information flow.

Some might think that this will hurt The Drudge Report’s ability to attract exclusive information in the future. I highly doubt that. This scheme, if the information we have is true, is nothing more than a that: a scheme.


Commander-in-Chief Redux

February 24, 2008

Several days ago this very blog posted about Karl Rove’s use of “commander-in-chief.” The phrase will surely come up time and again across the year, as it did in the most recent Democratic debates in Texas.

IntLawGirls covered the incident very well. The post is well-researched, well-expressed, and worth the read. Candidates of all political stripes seem to have a variety of subjective and inconsistent understandings of this role, which, as I attempted to express earlier, is clear in writing and vague in practice. The terminology, in my mind, is most useful in establishing a legal line of authority and accountability. Its use in political debate is misguided.

When Senator Clinton was asked about Senator Obama’s qualifications as “commander-in-chief” she failed in several ways. First, she did not answer in a manner consistent with her vague criticim of his military acumen; second, she expressed a flawed understanding of the position; third, she did not take the opportunity to demonstrate any national defense expertise (which, relatively speaking, she probably possesses). Riding the “change” train and playing nice seem to be more important than the question at hand.

Nevertheless, emphasis on the executive’s military role is bad practice during a campaign: for the media, for politicians, for pundits. When necessary so as to discharge the duties of the office, it’s nothing short of constitutional (and only tangentially political).