Cue Taps

Cue Taps

: Howard Fineman at MSNBC comes out and writes the obit for big, old media:

A political party is dying before our eyes

  • For the reasons you noted in your post on perspective, Jeff, the notion of a neutral mainstream press was a sham from the get-go. This is one memorial service where an open bar is in order.

  • Joe

    Speaking as someone who worked for both Fox News and the Chicago Tribune, I can tell you from first hand experience that there certainly is bias deeply rooted in the old media establishment. Believe it or not, Fox had more diversity in the opinions and backgrounds of their staff vs. the Tribune (to be respected as compared to some peers they at least strive to be fair) where about 90% of their staff shares the same view of the world.
    We the public are kidding ourselves if we don’t believe that personal opinions don’t somehow filter into our professional lives. Even journalists are not immune. It shouldn’t happen. But it does. We have to ask ourselves. If the people employed in our newsrooms across the nation share the same opinions and perspectives–how is it possible for both sides of a story to be told?

  • tb

    In defense of old media, who today holds up the beacon of truth. Carp all you want about the legitimacy of topics such as teaching creationism in schools, or as it is termed today, Intelligent Design, the bottom line is its simply giving the greenlight to ignorance. On topics such as that the so called ‘elite media’ had its place. Is Howard Fineman suggesting that without the ‘elite’ media the civil rights movement would have died at birth? Thats what I read. Today the bloggers (who are a great addition to the public discussion arena) have the limitation in that any topic can be pursued ad infinitim from any crackpot angle as though it is honest and intelligent. Unfortunately that simply is not so. A million monkeys typing on a million keyboards will eventually come up with something worthwhile, however the quicker route to knowledge is research, education and intelligence. The elite media is expected to fill that niche, unfortunately the realities of capitalism have gotten in the way. So, in the end we are back doing our own research. The concern is that a large majority of the nation is not equipped for that task.

  • Jos Bleau

    “Still, the notion of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press was, to me at least, worth holding onto.”
    Fineman neglects to mention his own role as an unpaid media and message developement coach to John Kerry during the campaign.
    I didn’t find out about this from some right-wing blogger – it was mentioned almost as an aisde in a New York Times Magazine profile of Al Franken.
    I also didn’t find out about it from anything Howard Fineman wrote, either.
    Fineman’s idea of a non-partisan press was actually one of a highly partisan that never got called them on it. That’s what he regrets loosing.

  • Hunter McDaniel

    While total objectivity is and always has been a chimera, I don’t think that some basic standards of fairness and professionalism are too much to demand, either from legacy media or the new media.
    Even if CBS and Fox come out of the closet and admit their political leanings (which everyone knows anyway), I still expect them not to be just making shit up.

  • He says the new “opposition party” is “Blogger Nation.”
    Yeah, cuz the blog’o’sphere is a nice homogeneous group.

  • First, the blogosphere trends left libertarian, by the very nature of people putting content up for free. Two, the way things are now, and the way the blogosphere is without any of the self imposed rules and discipline, will only serve to further balkanize us into two or more camps.

  • Fineman neglects to mention his own role as an unpaid media and message developement coach to John Kerry during the campaign.
    I didn’t find out about this from some right-wing blogger – it was mentioned almost as an aisde in a New York Times Magazine profile of Al Franken.
    This is, almost certainly, not true. I believe you’ve confused Fineman with Howard Wolfson, who was a Kerry aide. If the top political correspondent for Newsweek had an official relationship with a presidential campaign and the NYT reported it almost a year ago, I’d think we all would’ve heard about it.

  • Jos Bleau

    The relationship was unoficial but Fineman served as an unpaid consultant to Kerry at least once. It was remarked on in the blogosphere at the time but not in the MSM.
    Please excuse the length of what follows, but its an excerpt from the 3/21/04 NYTM acticle mentioned above at
    (available for free via google groups here
    “Last fall, when Dean seemed the inevitable nominee before a single primary vote had been cast, Franken was troubled that John Kerry was being written off. ”I liked Dean, but I also think Kerry is just a really smart, capable man,” he told me. ”I’d noticed that he was very good in a small gathering, so I thought, What if I invite some opinion makers over to hear him?” On Dec. 4, an impressive collection of the media elite and assorted other notables — Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker, Frank Rich of The New York Times, Howard Fineman and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, Jim Kelly of Time, Jeff Greenfield of CNN, Eric Alterman of The Nation, Richard Cohen of The Washington Post, Jacob Weisberg of Slate and others, including, as eminence grise, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. — responded to his call and had a little powwow with Kerry at the Upper West Side apartment of Franken and his wife, Franni.
    ”The whole thing was odd, I would say, because people didn’t know why they were there,” Kelly said. ”But I think the idea was to put John Kerry into the belly of the beast. It may have been the actual beginning of the new approach he took — ‘I’m going to stay in this room and take every question you throw at me.”’ Alterman grilled Kerry on his vote on Iraq, and he gave a long, tortured answer. Then he was asked about it a second time. ”By the third go-round, the answer was getting shorter and more relevant,” Kelly said.
    ”It was a really interesting event,” Alter said. ”A lot of these people hadn’t actually met Kerry before. Al wanted them to get to know him. It was an example of him playing a sort of intermediary role in the nexus of politics, media and entertainment.”

  • Hmm, sounds more to me like Fineman was there in his capacity as a reporter. Even if the others there were cozier with Kerry, it sounds more like a roundtable Q&A than a strategy session.
    Moreover, there’s nothing in the piece about Fineman specifically providing any advice or aid, or even having anything to do with Kerry except for meeting him that night.

  • Jos Bleau

    “sounds more to me like Fineman was there in his capacity as a reporter.” Except he’s never ‘reported’ about being there. And Al Franken’s avowed reason for getting them together was to help Kerry hone his message and boost his campaign.
    You can make the argument that Fineman’s actions weren’t necessarily improper but I don’t think you can argue that it sure does LOOK like he’s helping the campaign, albeit in an informal and unpaid manner.
    Fineman, if he wants to be taken seriously in his latest article, at the very least owes his readers full disclosure of what happeened there.
    And just imagine for a moment the reaction if these reporters had done exactly the same for Bush.

  • Jos Bleau

    Ah, that’s last one’s a trick statement.
    It’s inconcievable that those reporters would have done exactly the same for Bush, isn’t it?

  • paladin

    I read the same account Jos Bleau refers to, except I saw it on the lefty website on 12/10/03. My jaw bruised my sternum, as they say, when I read this account. This is what was on this website, the account of William Rivers Pitt, who was there: ” The most revealing moment of the entire event came as it was breaking up. Kerry was slowly working towards the door when he was collared by Art Spielgelman. ….”Senator”, he said, ‘the best thing you could do is to … just come out and say that you were wrong to trust Bush. Say that you though(t) he would keep his promises, but that you gave him more credit than he deserved. Say that you’re sorry, and then turn the debate towards what is best for the country in 2004’. Kerry nodded, bowed his head, and said, ‘You’re right. I was wrong to trust him. I’m sorry I did.’ In other words, the journos at the meeting at Al Franken’s house where not there just to listen, they were there to advise. Check it out yourselves, if you don’t believe me.

  • Jos Bleau

    Fineman doesn’t udnerstand what he’s observing.
    CBS isn’t in trouble for partisanship but for its dishonest and malicious reporting.
    Blogs help keep the press honest. Fineman’s watching not the death of neutrality but the birth of accountability in the MSM.
    Ask any teenager: accountability sucks, when you’re the one that has to do it, instead of merely demand it of others.
    That’s why he’s nostaligic for a past that never was and fears a future he (and his friends) can no longer control.

  • Franky

    Happy New Year to one and all.
    Here’s your new media: for one week do nothing but listen to Al Franken and watch Hannity and Colmes. Then come back and tell us how informed you feel you are and how much you enjoyed getting your news that way.

  • If anything, Howard Fineman is a typical right-of-center multimillionaire professional pundit.
    What he fails to mention are two (2) things:
    1) The rise of the Media Borg, as the big media corporations swallow up their competitors and crowd out other viewpoints to the margins,
    2) The ability of the Republicans, working from a blueprint set forth by Nixon’s former energy czar William Simon, to slowly cripple, subvert, and castrate the US press.
    This was done using a combination of well-funded bogus think-tanks, intense political pressure, placing key operatives in friendly networks (FOX’s Roger Ailes worked at NBC for rabid GOPer Jack Welch — and before that, he chaired the Republican National Committee), and (their key achievement) the abolishing of the Fairness Doctrine. That last act is what made both Rush Limbaugh and FOX News possible.

  • Jim S

    When the pajamahadeen are wearing those pajamas as they accompany the troops in Iraq they’ll deserve the same respect as the evil lying MSM reporters.
    The truth is that journalism in this country is on its deathbed and the blogs aren’t going to rise and take its place. Why is journalism dying with no hope of resurrection? Where are any real investigative journalists willing to dig and where are the reporters willing to ask tough questions at a news conference and if he doesn’t get a straightforward answer say so in his article? Well, they might not get future access to newsmakers so they can write puff pieces that say nothing except what the newsmaker wants them to say. And these people have the resources to do it. No blogger does. The division of the blogs into “liberal” and “conservative” camps limit the effectiveness of anything they might do in this future you’re so hyped on, Jeff, since if any liberal blog did come up with some legitimate dirt on Bush there would just be an outcry from the conservative camp defending him no matter what the evidence might be and none of it would mean anything because in this world there is no credibility for anyone except those in your own camp.

  • Angus Jung

    How does the Illuminati fit into your theory, Phoenix? (May I call you Phoenix? Ms. Woman?)

  • Eileen

    The repubs are trying to ‘slowly cripple, subvert and castrate the U.S. press’? If that is true, it’s high time in the ‘ole town tonight. The arrogant and leftist-controlled MSM have endeavored to direct American views, votes, etc. for eons. It’s high time for an evening process, immediately if not sooner. ‘Bloggists’ may help.
    Phoenix also speaks of the ‘rise of the Media Borg’. Borg? Just as I’ve been trying to come up with a better name for blogs** (which sounds so bogged down). Borg, now? Or did you mean blog?
    **How about PJog (rolls off the tongue with panache) or Beez (busy, working, humming, talking, making honey (truth), ‘buzzing’ (tribute to JJ) – and I like beezers. I’d rather be a beezer than a blogger; how about ‘hives’ as another name for Beez and all the other possibilities..
    Alas, ‘blog’ is probably here to stay, but fortunately old media is not.