It’s a good day for America.
The New York Times is America’s newspaper of record, and a venerated journalistic establishment. It is wrapped up in the country’s history, and has contributed greatly to the development of a free press and maintenance of an open society. Some fellow conservatives will wonder why I would make such remarks about The Old Grey Lady. I make them because The New York Times – which has earned more Pulitzer Prizes than any other publication – retains one of the strongest, most important news gathering operations in the world.
I also make such remarks because I want it to be understood that I appreciate the original reporting by the Times, even though my main point today is to call attention to another potential source of bias in its coverage of domestic political affairs. That is the “POLITICAL MEMO,” the headline of which appears just above the front-page fold in today’s print edition of the newspaper. Without noticing the small special heading of the article (can I call it an “article?”), I started reading the piece and began to shake my head at some of the writer’s subjective characterizations of the U.S. Senate race in Florida.
In the Republican primary, it is speculated that former front-runner Gov. Charlie Crist may leave the party to run as an independent, leaving Marco Rubio, who surged over a number of months to overtake Crist in popularity, to claim the nomination. Using words like “independent,” “moderate,” “pragmatic,” “outsider” and party “pariah” to portray Crist in the first several paragraphs, writer Damien Cave then drops these couple of gems into the piece:
“If he chooses to run as an independent, Mr. Crist would be betting that the prevailing political logic of the moment is wrong – that despite the Tea Party’s rise, the broader electorate still wants the pragmatic apporach that propelled Barack Obama to victory here.
“Leading a campaign that would most likely lack major fund-raising and a party’s street-level support, Mr. Crist would be running in the hope of turning out ‘the silent majority’ that Richard M. Nixon identified in 1969.” [Emphasis added].
Wow. Obama displayed a “pragmatic approach” in the campaign and the great “silent majority” could just usher in the maverick moderate Charlie Crist into the United States Senate. Obviously, the tone being established is that Crist, the moderate, is naturally cast off by an immoderate Republican Party, etc, etc, etc. Yes, Crist is to the left of Rubio, but what exactly makes him a “moderate?” The fact that he recently vetoed a teacher performance pay bill? That doesn’t seem moderate to me, that seems “liberal.”
In any event, this is about the time I re-scanned the headline to check what type of piece I was reading. I was expecting “news analysis” or something like that. But I got “political memo,” in small caps. What gives? When did the Times start with the political memos, can anyone tell me? Maybe they’ve been around for a while, maybe not. The point is that the more material like this becomes part of the news pages, the more reporter/editor bias you’re going to get. At the Times, on a piece like this, that means liberal political bias.
This is all part of the game schema coverage that we’re treated to non-stop every campaign year. The horse-race coverage. The endless who’s-up, who’s-down, political analysis of election campaigns and the like. It’s in the same vein as the larger, longer trend of interpretative reporting of the news and political news in particular. On television, for example, we used to see politicians talk uninterrupted for dozens of seconds, maybe even minutes. Now, the average campaign sound bite on the news is in the neighborhood of eight seconds.
I need to wrap it up, but I may try to revisit this sometime soon. Would love to hear anybody’s thoughts on it, particularly any journalists or political operatives out there. When newspapers start publishing “political memos,” is that an excuse to write a horse-race piece and not worry too much about any bias that shows up, or is it a legitimate opportunity to delve into the type of political analysis that many readers demand and deserve?
Self-assured intellectual and moral superiority is blinding liberals to the reality of public discontent with President Obama and congressional Democrats. Why else would the president forge ahead with a stubbornly ideological and adversarial State of the Union address? How else could the party resist acknowledging the implications of Scott Brown‘s historic special election victory in Massachusetts?
Charles Krauthammer dissects the matter in Friday’s column for the Washington Post. He notes how Democrats portrayed their own opposition to President Bush as “dissent…one of the truest forms of patriotism,” while Republican resistance to the current majority is labeled “obstruction” arising from “nihlistic malice.” How true….
It’s nights like this that give me hope for the Republic.
The AP is projecting a Brown win, and right now his margin stands at something like 7%. Obama won the Bay State by more than 21 points….that’s a 28 point swing against the Democrats in the one of the most liberal states in the nation.
Keep it up Dems, keep it up.
What happened to Peter Gammons? I used to love his objective analysis over at ESPN. He was even favorable to my beloved St. Louis Cardinals.
But now he takes a strange shot at Massachusetts state Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown (R), comparing JFK to the legendary shortstop Omar Vizquel and Brown to Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. My question is: Are Gammons’s greatest days behind him? I hope not.
That comparison is just strange: Brown is making a comeback, and AG Martha Coakley (D) would be more like Adam Dunn: a good power hitter who also strikes out (on some big cases).
Maybe Sen. Brown isn’t the bronze warrior from Brookline. But really, Mr. Gammons. If you want to make an analogy, do better than that.
GOP Rep. Peter King is reconsidering a run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in New York. He cites money and his top spot on the Homeland Security Committee (if the GOP picks up the House, he would become its chair) as possible concerns.
To be honest, the GOP needs King or someone who can raise money if they want this seat. Gillibrand is not popular (SurveyUSA had her below 40 percent) but she has the advantage in a Democratic state, even with a potential GOP tide.
If Republicans want King to run, they might want to indicate their support, as did former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani did when he decided to forgo public office this year.
Principally Political has featured something of an eclectic mix of topics in its months of operation, and it’s been a great ride. This month the site is set to shatter the previous all time high of unique daily visitors (more on that later in the month). I plan to continue covering a wide range of topics, because that’s what I’m interested in – just about everything.
However, I’m going to make a concerted effort to increase my coverage of Missouri, and to some extent Kansas, politics. I think more people will be interested in my take on those topics, given that there are less sources to go to for that type of content (as opposed, say, to the number of voices chiming in on national and international topics) and that I have experience in both states.
Furthermore, I think it will be advantageous to focus on a few key topics, providing a more stable, in-depth narrative to readers. Again, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to be riffing spontaneously and widely, but for the purposes of developing a bit of specialization and authority, and becoming a “destination” site, I’m going to dry to drill down a bit. The three topics that I plan to do this with are:
I reserve the right to modify this list over the next several days, but it seems logical. I look forward to writing this new chapter of the site’s history.