Posts about clinton

‘Change’ is bullshit

I ended up voting for Barack Obama, but while he was in a race against Hillary Clinton his campaign slogan drove me to distraction. “Change we can believe in.” What change exactly?

This morning Joe Scarborough said the first debate of this campaign didn’t alter the situation in this election. He said this is still a race of the experienced candidate against the change candidate. Now Donald Trump=change.

Clinton is forever boxed into the position of running against “change.” Now it is not only Trump but also, ironically, Obama who corners her there because she wisely wants to run on and continue Obama’s legacy with his coalition; she can’t change too much. Still, she can address this problem by cataloging the changes she will make; there are many.

But “change” is the wrong word. “Change” is bullshit. “Change” is an empty word, a vague promise. Obama promised “change” and it was a vessel into which his supporters poured their dreams. The most progressive among them were disappointed in the early years of his administration because he did not quickly accomplish all they had wished for. I was not disappointed, for I had more realistic expectations of change.

The proper word is not “change” but “progress.” But that word has its own set of expectations and cooties thanks to the far left and right, respectively. So call it “improvement.” Hillary Clinton will work to improve health care,college costs, infrastructure, criminal justice, mental health, national security, the environment, taxation, campaign finance, the status of womenand minorities….

Donald Trump does not promise change. He promises regression, returning to some squandered glory of the hegemony his supporters have lost because of change they could not control, change they resent, change that shares what they think of as their jobs, power, and birthright with others, with outsiders. Trump is not promising to change. He is promising to stop change.

Of course, change is occurring without the intervention of any candidate. Change is the constant. Change brings us choices: opportunities and perils. That is what a leader must concern herself with.

Clinton is a realist. She is experienced. She has policies and plans. All those proper qualifications for the highest office in the land become handicaps in a media environment that values instead slogans, performance, conflict, entertainment, and personality over substance. “Make American great again.”

After Scarborough spoke this morning, Chuck Todd complained that after last night’s debate voters don’t know much more about the candidates’ policies. First, that’s wrong. Clinton tried to cram specific policy proposals into her few uninterrupted minutes and for the rest she gave her web address; plenty there. Trump refused to and could not be pushed to be specific about the plans he does not have. If voters do not know what each candidate will do and is capable of doing the fault lies at the feet of the media. It is our job to inform the public. The public is ill-informed. Donald Trump’s presence on that stage last night is the evidence. He promises nothing but change. And we let him get away with it.

Specimens of Old Journalism

Here is AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll defending what I believe were a seriously flawed story and tweet about some of Clinton Foundation donors Hillary Clinton happened to meet with while Secretary of State.

I bring this clip to you because it contains — as my friend Jay Rosen would say — specimens for study, two specimens revealing the difficulty classical journalism has adapting to a new media ecosystem today.

CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter recounts the difficulties the AP had getting Clinton’s meeting records and then asks his audience: “Did they just want to show they had done the work, did they just want to show they had found something, even if it didn’t amount to much?”
Carroll’s answer: “We didn’t say it amounted to the end of the world. We said this is an important and interesting thing that people should know about.”

Editors love to tout news judgment as a key value that journalists add to the flow of information in society. What is the AP’s news judgment here? How important is this story? Somewhere between interesting and the end of the world: You decide.

Stelter shows Carroll how Donald Trump & Co. were exploiting especially the AP’s deceptive tweet promoting this story.

Her answer: “All of us can’t be held responsible for the way that everybody thinks about and responds to and talks about the coverage…. Our responsibility is to give them fair and balanced and rock-solid reporting and let them agree with it, disagree with it, talk about it, think what they might about it.”

Right there is a specimen of a common old journalistic belief: We just report the facts; we have no view; we don’t have a role in what those facts mean or do. I call this the Wernher von Braun Rule:

Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.

Carroll also says: “I think the issue with conflict of interest is not the actual quid pro quo. It’s the proximity. It’s the impression that people have of maybe they got the meeting because they donated, maybe they didn’t.”

In other words, the AP found no evidence of quid pro quo, no smoking gun, nothing here that was wrong, no rock-solid reason to cast aspersions, no real conclusion. But they went with the story anyway because of the impression people might have — an impression the AP’s story gives them. Yet remember that Carroll says she “can’t be held responsible for the way that everybody thinks about and responds to” this story. Does not compute.

We most certainly need to look at the impact our work has, not only in how interested parties exploit it, not only in how the public interprets it, but also in how effective it is in performing our key job: informing the public. Was the public better informed after this story? Did this story give people the information they needed to decide how to vote for President? I would say no. As Stelter said, the AP took what it could get with its Freedom of Information request and tried to make an article out of it. Because that’s what we do. We make articles.
That leads us to our second specimen: the tweet and Carroll’s discussion of it.

The key problem here is that the AP is discussing only 154 meetings out of more than 1,700 Clinton held as Secretary of State, according to her campaign manager. Thus the AP’s math — that 85 of the 154 meetings, or more than half, were with foundation donors — is wrong, deceptive, and irresponsible. The real proportion is more like 5 percent.

On Reliable Sources, Carroll says the tweet linked to the full story. I can’t find anything to click on in that tweet, can you?

When Stelter challenges her about the tweet’s accuracy, Carroll says: “I would say that we’re a lot better at breaking stories and covering news and gathering video and taking photos than we are at tweets. This one could have used some more precision.”

Does that mean you regret it? Stelter asks.

“No, if we felt it was wrong we would have taken it down…. I think it was sloppy. Maybe going forward we would need to work on more on our precision on our tweets.”

Thus she is saying that sloppy imprecision is good enough for Twitter. Nail that to the museum wall.

Stelter confronts her with another tweet that ignores Donald Trump’s exploitation of a tragedy for his political ends:

“It was clumsy,” Carroll admits. “We’re better at news-gathering than we are at promotion.”
In Carroll’s view, then, Twitter is merely an advertising vehicle, a means of promoting the AP’s real work: articles. She does not see it — or, one presumes, the rest of social media — as another form of reporting, another means of informing the public.

What have we learned about classical journalism in this age? We see that classical journalists think it is their job to make good stories. I would argue that our job is to inform the public. Classical journalists say their work ends when they produce their stories — they aren’t responsible for what comes next. I say we should always ask why we are are reporting what we are reporting and what our impact will be. At least at the AP, classical journalists say they want to get readers to their stories. I say it is our job to take journalism — reporting, investigation, facts, context, explanation, impact — to the public, wherever they are, in whatever form necessary. Even on Twitter.

Kathleen Carroll is stepping down as the AP’s editor soon. I honestly feel sympathy for her having to end her tenure with this, trying to defend old journalism in a new world.

On Twitter — where I don’t just promote my articles, I have informative conversations — Raju Narisetti responded to my tweet containing one of Carroll’s quotes on CNN with this:

I agree. But this also should make the AP ask what kind of executive editor it needs next, an editor who can rethink what the Associated Press’ job is in an age when we can inform each other (we are becoming our own wire service), when the AP can inform people in so many new ways, when bad actors can use the AP’s reporting for their ends, when the standards of journalism — bringing facts, correction, understanding, context, investigation and other classical journalistic values — are more needed than ever.

They kill horses, don’t they?

World News Tonight tonight had Jake Tapper acting as if he had a big exclusive investigative report: Hillary Clinton is now rich! And she’s a liberal! Irony? He thinks so. Uh, what about Franklin Roosevelt? John F. Kennedy? John Edwards for that matter? Another nonstory. Another attack on Hillary for the sake of it. It was followed by a softball to Obama. Bias? No, no bias. What makes you say, that, Jeff?

The Kos war

Jim Wolcott (fellow Hillary voter) dissects the feud — schism, actually — at Daily Kos and within the Democratic Party. Note well that the nasties in this story are the followers of Mr. Getalong.

The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. . . .

What chafed Hillary supporters was how many supposed liberal outposts chimed in with this chorus of abuse, from the op-ed pages of The New York Times (where only Paul Krugman seemed to have a kind word as Maureen Dowd kept reminding readers of Monica Lewinsky’s lipstick traces on the Clinton saga, and Gail Collins seemed to be putting on some sort of puppet show) to the studios of Air America (where hosts Randi Rhodes–who was suspended, then resigned, after calling Clinton a “whore” at a public appearance–and Thom Hartmann kept the hostility percolating), to progressive Internet mother ships such as Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, where even a notable progressive such as Barbara Ehrenreich tried to tar Hillary with fascist associations. (The majority of Huffpo’s high-profile contributors were so over the rainbow about Obama that it was as if they had found rapture in the poppy fields and were rolling around on their backs like ladybugs.)

And quoting Kos himself over the departure/boycott of Hillary voters from his shrine:

“Clinton and her shrinking band of paranoid holdouts wail and scream about all those evil people who have ‘turned’ on Clinton and are no longer ‘honest power brokers’ or ‘respectable voices’ or whatnot, wearing blinders to reality, talking about silly little ‘strikes’ when in reality, Clinton is planning a far more drastic, destructive and debilitating civil war.”

Obama may paint himself as Mr. Nice Guy but he certainly has a nasty bunch of friends.

Why have superdelegates?

Tim Hames in the Times of London argues that the superdelegates should make Clinton the nominee:

The chances are that Mr Obama will end the nomination season with more pledged delegates than Mrs Clinton. His admirers argue that it would be profoundly wrong for those who have not been elected as delegates to overturn the will of those who have. It’s a seductive claim, but there are good reasons why the superdelegates should ignore it and instead endorse Mrs Clinton.

The first is, what is the point of the superdelegate system if all they do is follow the majority of pledged delegates? Why bother with them? Why not just allow them to turn up at the convention as mere observers? The Democratic Party created the superdelegate system about 25 years ago because it feared that the party’s most ideological supporters were quite capable of choosing a candidate who many ordinary Democrats would not feel able to back at polling stations. If the primaries and caucuses were to be the gearbox of the nominating procedure, then the superdelegates were designed to serve as the handbrake. That is their role.

Secondly, any advantage that Mr Obama will have among pledged delegates is misleading. Not only will Mrs Clinton have won in most of the largest states but she will probably have secured the bulk of delegates won in primaries – where turnout is comparatively high, while he has romped home in the caucuses – where participation is notoriously feeble.

Furthermore, if all the superdelegates were compelled to vote for the person who won the most votes in their state (which they should not be, but it is an interesting exercise), then Mrs Clinton, who is likely to end the season having triumphed in eight of the most populous ten states (including Florida and Michigan, which had their results discounted by the Democratic National Committee as punishment for scheduling their primaries too early), would benefit hugely.

[via Harry’s Place]

: By the way, here’s a list of fellow bloggers who are not “raving Clinton-hating Obamabots.” Says Hillaryslist, on a bit of a roll:

These are the seeds of a new progressive blogosphere in the making. The Obamabots are poisoning the original netroots, transforming what used to be an arena for progressive politics into nothing more than a rabid, mindless He-Man Woman-Haters club. The Democratic Party — or at least the high-visibility Obamabot segment — is morphing into the Young Republicans: all the misogyny and callowness and ignorance and blind hero-worship of the old GOP, but with a self-congratulatory aura of imaginary cool to make the YouTube generation feel at home. And where does that leave the women of America?

Well, I think it’s giving them too much credit for taking over netroots and the internet. Netroots were, since Dean, a self-important clique. But I do think we have not begun to discuss sexism in this campaign.

As Obama chose to run as as black man, I think that Clinton should have chosen to run as a woman. Instead, she ran as a none-of-the-above-demographics, just her. Clinton was well-known enough to do that. But it meant she really couldn’t fight back as a woman. And she lost the opportunity to turn her campaign into a cause: a woman president as change, indeed. Oh well, it’s probably too late.

Playing by media rules

Media and Obama fans are trying to change the rules and kick Clinton out of the race. It’s no surprise that Obama would try to do that; it’s politics. But that media has accepted this meme is only further demonstration of their Obamalove.

This week’s On the Media is a mash note for Obama if there ever were one. My friend Bob Garfield repeats over and over that Hillary can’t win and then goes on to ask whether media should even be covering her or at least not as much as they are because, after all, he has declared her the loser.

Let’s get this straight (again): Obama, too, is not likely to walk into the convention with enough delegates to win. And then the rules decree that it should be up to the superdelegates. There is no rule that says they must act as a proporational whole or that they all should accede to the wishes of the majority. I’m not saying that would be a bad rule — indeed, I’ve long wanted national or regional primaries that count onlly the popular vote and I’ve long wanted to abandon delegate votes, not to mention the Electoral College, because — we need no better proof than 2000 — it can be gamed. But we are still stuck with our system and so both sides will maneuver within those rules. However, media and Obama think Clinton should not have that right.

Let’s put forward another scenario: Imagine that John Edwards had sparked voters more and that he stayed in the election until the convention, walking in as the kingmaker who could throw his support either way and crown the nominee. I don’t think we’d be insisting that whoever was behind — No. 2 — in the vote should be quitting before the convention. I don’t think we’d be insisting that Edwards had no choice but to throw his support behind the candidate with the most votes (though that candidate might make a wishful try to argue that). No, we’d realize that Edwards would decide where to throw his critical support based on (1) his self-interest, (2) his party’s best interest — which is to say, victory in November, and (3) his own beliefs (not necessarily in that order). We could only hope that those interests would all coincide. But that would be his decision.

Well, the superdelegates are all John Edwards. They have been charged with making this decision at the convention if there is not a nominee thanks to the fucked-up system of popular vote mixed with caucuses mixed with disenfranchising crucial states. The election remains close, not over, and for better or worse, it is going to be in their hands — not to mention the voters who’ve not yet voted. How dare media try to grab it away.

Hey, Obamalovers, the election’s not over yet. In the soon-to-be-immortal word of Bill Clinton: Chill.

: ALSO: Just to show there are no hard feelings with Bob — it’s politics — I’ll embed his masterful commercial for ComcastMustDie, which I see I forgot to embed before. One has nothing to do with the other but I’ll take the excuse to show how Bob and I agree about defeating something: cable companies.

Money, meet mouth

I’m thinking of donating to Clinton’s Pennsylvania campaign. As a journalist that has been a firing offense: the mortal sin of revealing mortal opinions. But I’ve certainly revealed my opinions. I’m a journalist but I don’t work for any such institution. What do you say: venial sin or act of grace?

Elected by Google

Webguild has amazing numbers on Barack Obama’s online spending. They report that in February, he spent $1 million on Google vs. Hillary Clinton’s $67,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He spent nearly $100,000 on Yahoo ads; she spent about a tenth of that. He spent an additional $58,000 on Yahoo search ads; she spent none. He spent $4,900 on Facebook; she spent none.

Spending money is only one way Obama and company have used the internet — particuarly the social internet — well. But they are spending money smarter.