Posts from September 23, 2004

Issues2004: On radio

Issues2004: On radio

: Brian Lehrer’s WNYC show in New York is covering 30 issues in 30 days leading up to the election.

The snob’s response

The snob’s response

: There’s no greater snob — and I mean that in only the nicest way, of course — than Tina Brown. She imported snobbery into the U.S. the way the Beatles imported rock music.

Today, she exudes snobbishness about journalism. I won’t call on my usual preists-and-cathedrals image; this more the has-been queen sniffing in her castle at all the riff-raff out in the streets, typing fast.

Now the conventional wisdom is that the media will be kept honest and decent by an army of incorruptible amateur gumshoes. In fact, cyberspace is populated by a coalition of political obsessives and pundits on speed who get it wrong as much as they get it right. It’s just that they type so much they are bound to nail a story from time to time.

This isn’t Brown sniffing at bloggers; it is Brown sniffing at the audience, the great unwashed. Too bad you have to get commoners to watch your TV show to be successful, eh, your highness? She continues:

The rapturing about the bloggers is the journalistic equivalent of the stock market’s Internet bubble. You can see the news chiefs feeling as spooked as the old-style CEOs in the ’90s who had built their companies over 20 years and then saw kids in backward baseball caps on the cover of Fortune. It finally drove them nuts. It was why we saw Time Warner’s buttoned-down corporate dealmaker Gerald Levin tearing off his tie and swooning into the embrace of AOL’s Steve Case.

The equivalent today is when news outfits that built their reputations on check-and-double-check pick up almost any kind of assertion and call it a “source.” Or feel so chased by the new-media mujaheddin they start trusting tips garnered from God-knows-where by a partisan wack job in Texas.

What a crock of caviar. So now she is blaming bloggers for making Dan Rather and CBS panic and air a forged memo from a nutty Texan. Can somebody diagram the logic of that paragraph?

Damn, I guess Gawker has gotten under Tina’s skin.

: Tina is fooling herself not only about the Rather story and the fate of news media and the role of citizens but also about the campaign:

Documents or no documents, everyone knows Bush’s dad got him out of Vietnam. Everyone knows he thought he had better, funner things to do than go to a bunch of boring National Guard drills. (Only a killjoy like John Kerry would spend his carefree youth racking up high-minded demonstrations of courage and conscience, right?) Like O.J. Simpson’s infamous “struggle” to squeeze his big hand into the glove, the letter was just a lousy piece of evidence that should never have been produced in court. Now because CBS, like Marcia Clark, screwed up the prosecution, Bush is going to walk.

: UPDATE: See also Wonkette’s simultaneous translation.

Declining trust in media

Declining trust in media

: A new Gallup survey says that trust in media has taken a dramatic decline.

This survey was taken after the start of Rathergate but before the denouement. Gallup doubts that Rather is the primary cause. We all can — and certainly will — speculate about what the real causes in this decline are. You can predict that I’ll say the focus on and exasperation with mud-slinging is a factor. Some will say it’s the lack of coverage of the Bush and Kerry military stories; others will say it’s the excessive coverage. Whatever. I think that looking for a cause of this decline is as short-sighted as CBS appointing a commission to look just at the forgeries, not at the network.

This is a bigger story, of course, is the future and fate of journalism and news media. Trust and credibility are the only real assets of this business and Gallup says they are eroding, though we didn’t need Gallup to tell us that, eh? (See Tim Oren’s related post.)

So journalism must reform its relationship with the people formerly known as the audience (aka us). It must face us eye-to-eye and become transparent to rebuild trust. It must recognize that the internet allows people to go to the source sometimes — they report, they decide — and to talk back. It must admit the problems and failings it has. It must involve the citizens in that rebirth as equal partners, or they may as well not bother.

gallupchart.gif

Can you hear that ringing sound, journalists? It’s another wake-up call from Gallup.

The Sept. 13-15 poll — conducted after the CBS News report was questioned but before the network issued a formal apology — found that just 44% of Americans express confidence in the media’s ability to report news stories accurately and fairly (9% say “a great deal” and 35% “a fair amount”). This is a significant drop from one year ago, when 54% of Americans expressed a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the media. The latest result is particularly striking because this figure had previously been very stable — fluctuating only between 51% and 55% from 1997-2003.

Conversely, 39% currently say they have “not very much” confidence in the media’s accuracy and fairness, while 16% say they have “none at all.”

Clearly, something new has happened to shake public confidence in the media, but whether that “something” is the recent CBS News controversy is a matter of speculation. One might assume that if the CBS News story were the culprit, that this would be reflected in a disproportionately large drop in confidence in the media among Republicans. However, the data on this is not conclusive. Trust in the news media is typically lower among Republicans, but all three partisan groups show a significant decline in confidence in the media since last year. It did drop by a somewhat greater degree among Republicans than Democrats, however.

My emphasis.

The blind blogging the blind

The blind blogging the blind

: Who knew that Jayson Blair had a blog? (Does this singlehandedly dilute the credibility of all blogging?)

Rathergate.com cleverly asked Blair his thoughtson the Rather story. I’m not sure we should give a damn what Blair says, but it’s interesting in a ship-of-fools way. [via Instapundit]

Canyouhearmenow?

Canyouhearmenow?

: The second I get off FoxNews, I get email from a lady telling me to slow down. I thought I had. Oh, well. Too late.

Calling Kerry’s brand manager

Calling Kerry’s brand manager

: We often say in blogs that the wise company will spot somebody complaining about its product or brand in a blog and respond directly to serve that consumer and win him back.

Well, perhaps Kerry’s brand manager (yes, if only he had one) should respond to this post from my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger Joe Territo, which ends:

I’m starting to question my own, somewhat recent decision to vote for Kerry. Can somebody who is running what appears to be such a weak campaign possibly be a strong and effective president? I am starting to buy into the Republican argument that even though I don’t agree with Bush, it’s better to have a leader who is clear and straightforward than one whose message is muddled. Please, somebody, talk me out of this spiral back into Bush’s corner.

All Dan All The Time

All Dan All The Time

: Andrew Tyndall — who publishes a respected report on network news coverage — posts this in a comment below, reacting to my reaction to Glenn Reynolds’ post about blog (and thus media) coverage of scandals v issues. He starts quoting Glenn:

“If the Big Media were talking more about issues, and less — to pick RatherGate as the example which I think inspired this conversation — about Bush’s National Guard service, probably bloggers would be talking about issues more, too.”

As big a story as the 60 Minutes memos are in media circles and the blogosphere, it is flat out untrue that it has dominated campaign coverage in the aforesaid Big Media.

Last week on the three networks’ nightly newscasts combined (including CBS, which spent extended time to defending its own reporting), the memos accounted for less than one quarter of all Campaign 2004 coverage (14 minutes out of 61). The previous week–when the story broke–it was a similar small proportion (17 minutes out of 68). Our tracking data on campaign coverage is archived at http://www.tyndallreport.com/campaign.html.

Valuable data. Is one quarter a lot?

Oh, Danny boy

Oh, Danny boy

: Dan Rather is throwing his boss, CBS News President Andrew Heyward, to the wolves in today’s New York Times:

“This is not verbatim,” Mr. Rather recalled. “But I said: ‘Andrew, if true, it’s breakthrough stuff. But I need to do something unusual. It may even be unique. I have to ask you to oversee, in a hands-on way, the handling of this story, because this is potentially the kind of thing that will cause great controversy.’

“He got it. He immediately agreed.”

Nope, Dan. It came out of your mouth. You’re responsible.

: It’s also troubling that the Rather camp apparently tells The Times that he is opposed to the appointment of Dick Thornburgh to the baby-blue commission investigating him:

Mr. Rather considers Mr. Thornburgh a confounding choice in part because he served two Republican presidents, Mr. Bush’s father, and Richard M. Nixon, with whom Mr. Rather publicly clashed, the colleagues and associates said.

Well, who the hell do you think they should appoint? Ted Kennedy?