Posts from November 1, 2004

Dirty to the end

Dirty to the end

: This weekend, I made reference to wackies coming out of the woodwork at the end of an election, making desperate and nutty attempts to dig up or make up something they think will swing the election their way. I refused to dignify the lastest with a link.

But Instapundit links to them today, touting a patently F.O.S. story from the right-wing hobby paper, the NY Sun, that wonders whether John Kerry really got an honorable discharge because the document on his web site is not the document some joker thinks it ought to be. Oh, yeah, as if a dishonorable discharge for a (1) war hero, (2) war protestor, (3) senator, (4) presidential candidate (whose service to the nation has already been slimed by wack jobs determined to destroy him) would not have come out before. Grow up.

Glenn even laments: ” I imagine it’s too late for this story to make much of a difference.”

Couldn’t resist one last mud pie before election day? Glenn had turned down the volume and holstered the mud bullets lately and I was glad to see it. But he apparently couldn’t resist trying to make one last splat.

I don’t want to hear whining about how it was irresponsible of the NY Times and 60 Minutes to come out with a half-baked story that couldn’t be fully investigated and confirmed about missing explosives in Iraq when you link to crap like this and wish it would affect the election. And I do believe it was irresponsible of them and I’ve said so.

Oh, and so did Glenn. See this Instapost from this weekend:

The open partisanship of big media organizations in trying to hurt Bush and help Kerry — a phenomenon that, as Leo notes, is not limited to CBS and RatherGate, but extends to places like The New York Times — is very troubling. The loss of credibility that results will come back to haunt the press in a lot of ways, no matter who wins. I doubt that, in retrospect, they’ll think it was worth it, but I don’t think it was ever calculated, exactly. I think they just can’t help themselves.

Same goes for a blogger’s link to mud like the Sun’s. What’s bad for the goose is bad for the goosed. Or see this Instapost a few days before:

I’VE NEVER READ A CODE OF JOURNALISTIC ETHICS, but it seems to me that this much is clear: it is absolutely intolerable for a news organization to hold onto a story for the purpose of breaking it so close to an election as to prevent a fair investigation and response.


UPDATE-CORRECTION: The Instapost immediately above was by Ann Anlthouse, not by Glenn Reynolds.

: The New York Times belatedly gets around to covering the story of the story of the “missing explosives” and how the paper and CBS News came out with it too close to an election for all the facts to be uncovered and for the administration to have a fair chance to rebut it and its impact on the election.

It’s odd that the story appears in the business section (and not on the front page). It’s wrong that this angle to the story is being covered only now, the day before the election, when it should have been part of the original story (the how-we-are-being-used angle). And it’s a weak story that, of course, lets Times boss Keller off the hook.

In the ensuing uproar over the revelations, charges of journalistic impropriety and partisanship fly and many question whether the news media should report something so controversial so close to Election Day.

There are no firm rules guiding news organizations through these journalistic minefields. Some journalists have no compunction about printing or broadcasting controversial news about a political candidate in the last weeks of an election campaign. Others apply calculus to their deliberations, trying to determine the equation of topic, distance and fairness. Still others refuse to run any investigative articles in the week, or sometimes in the last two days, before the election.

“On the one hand, you’re always weighing what the public needs to know before they vote,” said Michael R. Beschloss, a presidential historian. “On the other hand, are you putting a charge out so close to the election that those who are criticize do not have time to respond.” …

“The timing is really not much of an issue,” Mr. Keller said. “The story was ready to go and was published more than a week before Election Day. There was plenty of time for the candidates on both sides and their partisans to react, for additional information to come out.”

That’s the old Times attitude, still not dead, that when the Times prints it, it must be news and it’s done, it’s finished, it’s history. No, today, that’s when the news cycle begins; that is when new facts, questions, corrections, viewpoints, and implications come out. We’re still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the “missing explosives” story and we won’t be there for weeks or months. But the impact on election — unmeasurable but sure — is already there.

And mind you, I’m a guy who’s voting for Kerry. But I’m not afraid to call my big media colleagues on an unfair move against the other side. Coming out with your own perspective doesn’t mean you lose your fairness; in fact, it should make you fairer as you transparently examine the viewpoint and the impact of what you say. The Times was being used in the explosives story and if it was going to go with the story in the last week of an election — which, again, I say is a dubious decision — they at least should have acknowledged what they obliquely acknowledged today from the first minute, even from the lead. Imagine if it had read like this: “In a story planted with The Times by WHO TK in an apparent attempt to affect the Presidential election….”

: UPDATE: In the comments, Glenn Reynolds responds and I reply in turn. Quoted in full:

Jeff: I wasn’t lamenting, I was pooh-poohing, as would be obvious if you’d take a step back. I’ve been sitting on all those emails that you mentioned, too. The difference is that you mentioned them, and I didn’t.

And the other “instapost” you quote isn’t by me, but by Ann Althouse.

But for the record, while I don’t think the story deserves much attention now, because it’s too late to get to the bottom of it, it’s only a story at all because Kerry has refused to release the records.

For a guy who repeatedly blogs that he’s worried I don’t like him, you sure act like you don’t like me. Luckily, I’m thick-skinned.

Posted by Glenn Reynolds at November 1, 2004 12:59 PM



I didn’t read that as pooh-poohing. Pooh-poohing would be saying, “Well, this story looks like a stinking load of crap and I can’t believe they’re pushing it.” That’s pooh-poohing.

I mentioned getting the emails but I did not quote them or reveal what they said because I did not want to give them a second’s credence. You did by linking to the Sun.

I don’t think it’s “only a story” because Kerry won’t release records. That is a story that has been done often. This story uses no evidence and only conjecture to try to accuse the man of something. It’s still not a story.

Sorry that I got the attribution to Ann wrong. Hope you wish you wrote what she did (and she wrote an awful lot of awfully good posts while you were in your undisclosed location.)

Finally: It’s not personal. I do like you. I respect you. I respect the power of Instapundit. And that is precisely why it deserves the attention, including attention such as this. If big media deserves such attention, then so does Instapundit!

Linking to a load-of-crap (my pooh-poohing) story such as this the day before the election is wrong, I believe.

It is inconsistent with your view (in your own posts) regarding the NY Times’ and 60 Minutes efforts at an October surprise with the too-late “missing weapons” story (which I also decry).

And as you know, I have been consistently disturbed at the level of mudslinging in this campaign, including in blogs — and aimed at both candidates.

This “story” counts as mudslinging of the worst order.

And linking to mudslinging gets some on you.

Posted by Jeff Jarvis at November 1, 2004 01:15 PM

You know you’ve been blogging too much when….

You know you’ve been blogging too much when….

: I blogged in my sleep last night. Woke up this morning thinking I’d written a couple of posts that weren’t here. Then I realized I’d dreamed them. Worse, one of them was about an ad infrastructure for blogs — I dreamed in blog business. Worse still, I dreamed in the Movable Type user interface. Fill in your pajama joke here….

: UPDATE: In the comments, Frank Paynter suggests the need for intervention:

Needed: a 12 step program for bloggers who blog too much and the bloggos and bloggettes who love them: Blogsters Anonymous and Blog-anon. Bumper stickers that say, “I’m a friend of Jeff J.”

You-know-who for President

You-know-who for President

: This is less an endorsement than a confession.

Some folks have told me I should write an endorsement post since I said it was a good idea for bloggers to go on the record and reveal their votes (and many did). The idea wasn’t really to endorse or convince anyone else which way to vote but simply to be open and transparent, to give context to what we write. I thought my views were clear: I’ve said for months that I’m leaning toward Kerry and that I’m not happy about the choice. But, for the record, on election eve, I’ll share with you my electoral anguish:

If I were to vote cynically — oh, and this year, it is tempting — I’d vote for Bush because (a) then we’d get Hillary in four years, (b) if not, we might get Rudy in four years, (c) I could ascribe my vote to my obsession with terrorism and security, and (d) I’d prove myself to be one really open-minded Democrat. This year’s choice may deserve a cynical response. But this year’s issues do not. They deserve the most serious response; that is why so many people have registered and will vote. The issues are too damned important.

If I were to vote habitually — and that’s the easy, reflexive way — I’d vote for Kerry simply because I’m a Democrat and I agree with his side on most issues. And besides, I could argue that we, the people like to hedge our bets and have one party in the White House and the other on Capitol Hill as the most practical check and balance; others are saying that. But the world has changed. Old habits mean nothing today.

So I start where I have to start: with terrorism and security. Understatement: I prefer Bush’s hard-ass militancy to Kerry’s huggy world test. I prefer someone who knows that we are at war, a world war, and that we have to fight it even if we must to do it alone. I’m OK with the Patriot Act and when I get pulled aside for extra screening at the airport (which I was Friday), I thank them. I do not believe that the Bush or Clinton administrations are one bit at fault for 9/11; the terrorists are. I saw what those bastards did that day and say we should stop at nothing to stop them from doing it again. Obsessed? You bet I am.

If I were singularly obsessed, that would be that: Check Bush; make Jersey a swing state. But even I cannot argue that only one issue matters. There’s more.

There is Iraq. I supported the war, for different reasons than the President’s. I still stand by the Tom Friedman doctrine — even if he doesn’t — that says the reason to go into Iraq was (a) to get rid of a tyrant and (b) to establish a foothold for democracy and civilization in the Muslim Middle East. By the way, that only makes Friedman’s paen to George Bush the elder on Sunday all the wackier, for if only that Bush had finished the job in Iraq, we would not be facing this mess today; we might even have a decade-old democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Some say George the junior went into Iraq to make Dad proud. I think it’s more likely he went in to clean up Dad’s mess.

In any case, I supported the war and stand by that. But I also believe the aftermath has been mucked up miserably: We did not anticipate the “insurgency” and as a result did not devote sufficient resources to bringing peace and democracy to Iraq.

That’s bad enough. What’s worse is that the president refuses to concede mistakes and fix them. That worries me most.

And there are plenty of other issues where I disagree with this president; I’ve gone through them before and won’t bore you again. But a lame-duck Bush with a Republican Congress can do real damage; if Bush appointed Ashcroft and went after gays and stem cells without a mandate and with concern about getting reelected, imagine what he would do without fears? I fear that.

So what about Kerry? I think he’s a dreadful candidate, a miserable mix of metaphors: cardboard, rubbery, oily, cottony, synthetic.

I do agree with him and his side on many more issues than Bush and his side. I don’t think he has given us enough detail on his plans, especially how he’d pay for them. But when push comes to shove on health care or the Supreme Court or social issues, his center of gravity leans my way and that’s the way he’ll fall. That’s important.

I do not think he is sufficiently aggressive on terrorism or Iraq; that, too, is sadly an understatement. I was OK with him getting the nomination precisely because he did vote to authorize the Iraq war. But his flip-flop left me flopping like a catfish in a drought. I also despise his world-pandering policy. The French, the Germans, the Russians, and the U.N. will do nothing to help us; they have amply proven that.

But I also do not believe that Kerry can or would abandon the security of America or even Iraq. He, too, must win. After attacking Bush’s execution of the fight so strongly, the pressure on him to succeed is only greater. Feet, meet fire.

Every time I think about terrorism and security, I move to Bush. Every time I think of any other issue, I move back to Kerry. I never said I was undecided; I didn’t want to join that wishy-washy fraternity. Instead, I tortured myself. And you’ve witnessed that torture, poor you. The two or three of you who’ve been here since the start — if you’re still here — have seen my political journey since September, 2001 — from pacifist to hawk. Now you’re stuck witnessing my political journey in circles. But that’s blogging. Some folks asked me what I was going to do and now I’m torturing them with this post. Sometimes, you can have too much transparency, eh?

Buttom line: I remain likely to vote for Kerry. That’s what I’m planning to do when I walk into the voting booth. I reserve the right to shock myself and I’ll tell you what happens.

But in either case, let me tell you the one lesson I have learned these last four years as I’ve bounced around like a political pinball: No matter which man wins next week (or even if it’s next month), I’ll support him… and I’ll criticize him.