Mud v. substance

Mud v. substance

: It’s so nice to hear one’s own stands echoed in Big Media. First Safire (below), now Adam Clymer (an ex-neighbor) on today’s Times op-ed argues that mud-slinging is distracting from the real work of the campaign and those covering it. The upcoming debate, he says, is not only a test for the candidates but also for journalists:

Phony documents and dishonest advertising have captured more attention than the facts of the candidates’ competing claims about health care, or whether either has a plan – a plausible plan – for Iraq….

The test for journalists is whether they can appreciate the importance of the event and help voters make sense of what is said, checking the accuracy of claims about the past and the present and the plausibility of what is claimed for the future. It won’t do to say, “We covered that in August.”

So if Mr. Kerry says he will solve the situation in Iraq by getting other countries to send more troops, the press needs to examine whether this could happen if he should win. And if Mr. Bush says he is going to solve the health insurance crisis with more community health care centers and fewer lawsuits, then journalists have to help voters determine whether Mr. Bush is offering cures or Band-aids.

Exactly. That is the job of the press. And, let’s add, an army of fact-checking bloggers can help.

  • chuck

    The test for journalists is whether they can appreciate the importance of the event and help voters make sense of what is said, checking the accuracy of claims about the past and the present and the plausibility of what is claimed for the future.
    Journalists have already failed this test, and I don’t expect them to improve. I wrote them off long ago.

  • Ric Locke

    Sour grapes, Jeff?
    Depending on who you ask, Democratic 527s and others have slung thirty to fifty million dollars worth of BUSHITLER AWOL CHICKENHAWK CHENEYBURTON with the gleeful cooperation of the Holy Press. It doesn’t seem to have stuck, and a good bit has splashed back — and now, O how glorious, Issues Are Important. Pious pronouncements ring a bit hollow in that situation, I’m sorry to say.
    Regards,
    Ric Locke

  • http://opinionpaper.blogspot.com Brett

    Jeff,
    As you know, I review the top articles in the press pretty much daily and pro-Kerry/anti-Bush articles generally get more play in media outlets. Further, most (some days, all) articles have a decidedly pro-Kerry/anti-Bush bias, and it takes no effort to show it.
    There are good reporters, but even if their article is balanced, the headline usually isn’t.
    If the press wants to be taken seriously as a fact-checking group, then they should figure out how to report a story first.

  • paladin

    The true test for the press will be if they have the will to fact-check both candidates, or just fact-check the one they don’t like. I’ve seen some of this so-called fact checking, and so far, only GWB has had the honor of his statements being checked out by our openly partisan press. My guess is that the press will use this new found fad of fact checking to punish the candidate they oppose. I’ll wait with baited breath to see if anyone checks Kerry, but so far, the press has been curiously uncurious about everything concerning Kerry —- remember how resentful they were when they had to check into the SwiftVet story? I haven’t seen any such reluctance about delving into GWB’s military career — in fact, the opposite. I just don’t trust the press to be fair.

  • chuck

    and now, O how glorious, Issues Are Important. Pious pronouncements ring a bit hollow in that situation, I’m sorry to say.
    And let’s not forget that the big issue is Iraq. Kerry has lost that one, now he wants to fall back on domestic issues. Ha, ha, sucker. I might give a fig about insurance/health care if Iraq had been taken off the table, but the Democrats didn’t play it that way. Now I am a single issue voter. Those “important” domestic issues can go hang.

  • Tim

    Glenn Reynolds on Steven Levy on Glenn Reynolds:

    Levy, however — though in our interview he said he thought that bloggers’ emphasis on Trent Lott’s racial remarks was fine — was very unhappy about my emphasis on Kerry’s now-admitted misrepresentations about having spent Christmas in Cambodia in 1968, and he also makes that clear in his piece. (He also seems upset that bloggers have spent so much time on RatherGate.) In his opinion, I should be blogging on health care.

  • old maltese

    ‘.. Adam Clymer (an ex-neighbor) ..’
    So many people are conditioned to think of Clymer as, well, a clymer, that we’d benefit from an objective characterization of the man.
    (I don’t mean personal anecdotes, positive or not: some published, acknowledged overview.)

  • MWB

    Why relegate bloggers to the role of fact-checker only? Blogs from INDCJournal to Brain-Terminal (Evan Maloney) to TerrorismUnveiled are demonstrating that bloggers can do first-hand journalism as well.
    Big Media needs to hear two things:
    1. Get over yourself.
    2. Blog or die.

  • rivlax

    Yeah, Clymer’s one to scold us all. Rich.