Sunday, February 13, 2005
More on the media: I must admit that I love it when people cite Media Matters for America as a source of unbiased information. Most times, when a journalist admits that he or she has been a liar, they disappear from the radar. You don't see Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair or Jack Kelley running a media criticism Web site.
When Media Matters first started up, it was laughed off by many -- and rightly so -- because most of its criticism targeted conservative commentators for being biased. Of course they are! Many of the other complaints is simply that media coverage doesn't hew strictly to the far left line.
I liked this one particularly:
FOX News Washington managing editor Brit Hume falsely claimed that a Washington Post story on a new White House cost estimate for the Medicare prescription drug benefit had reported that "the new estimate contradicted an earlier 10-year forecast." In fact, the February 9 article never reported that the new estimate "contradicted" an earlier estimate, only that the new estimate indicated that the benefit would cost hundreds of billions more in later years than most people expected based on previous estimates.
So, Media Matters complaint is that Hume used a word that didn't appear in the article? Helpfully, Media Matters does include a link to the actual article so you can read it for yourself.
I must confess that I think Media Matters criticism of Hume is weak, especially after having read the article.
The truth is that the Post did not report that the estimate had been "raised," let alone that it "contradicted" an earlier estimate, and the Post noted that the new estimate covered different years than earlier estimates. The Post explained:
The most significant change, he [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark B. McClellan] said, is that the new budget projections tally the cost of drug benefits for 10 years. Projections made in 2003 included the two transition years before the drug coverage is fully implemented in 2006.
The almost-paragraph Media Matters quotes here is not complete. It's missing the first sentence.
Last night, in response to media inquiries, McClellan revised the numbers once more.
Media Matters selected quote wasn't presented in the article as something the "Post noted," but as an administration official trying to cover his behind.
When it comes to media bias, liberals appear to be frustrated anytime coverage strays from how Eric Alterman or David Corn would report it. Conservatives complain whenever it appears Alterman or Corn are in charge of the news.
As far as Ann Coulter goes, I'm not a fan -- and that's perhaps understating it. I next-to-never read her columns or her books and when she comes on TV I either fast forward or change the channel. However, equating Coulter with former CNN head Eason Jordan is a stretch.
The Los Angeles Times Robert Scheer has written some despicable things. So did Union-Tribune columnist James Goldsborough before he quit. I don't think they should be canned -- because what they say is part of their job -- they're opinion columnists.
Eason Jordan was the top news executive at the #2 U.S. cable news network and the #1 news network worldwide. He was in charge of directing that organization's news coverage. He has an obligation -- more than any pundit or columnist -- to the truth. Coulter can shoot her mouth off (something she does often) and it doesn't affect how anyone covers the news. The same cannot be said for Jordan.
As far as the "Gannon" story goes, I'm sorry, but this is the biggest mountain-molehill story I've seen in some time.
So, this guy is a partisan writer for a partisan Internet "news service." The new logic from the left is that such individuals have no right to receive a day pass to attend White House press briefings. So, this would apply to the aforementioned Corn of The Nation? As I mentioned before, the aged Helen Thomas is a liberal columnist, does she get the boot too? In fact, one of the Editor & Publisher articles I linked to in my previous post mentions another individual that the Media Matters folks haven't drummed out of the briefing room yet.
Several reporters pointed to Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, who has been attending press events through a daily press pass for several years. Some say he is as partisan as Gannon in his questions, but often with a left-leaning approach. One reporter called him "the ideological flip-side of Gannon."
Most recently, Mokhiber gained notice during a McClellan press briefing on Feb. 1 by asking the press secretary if Bush believed in the Sixth Commandment -- thou shalt not kill -- and if so, how could he support the Iraq War? McClellan did not respond to the question.
Mokhiber, reached by E&P, did not want to comment on his work, but explained that his print publication comes out 48 times per year and circulates to about 500 people, while his Web site also offers news. He said he was denied access to the White House for about four months in 2001 and told only that it was for security reasons. He also said he requested, but was denied, a long-term pass, called a "hard pass".
Is Mokhiber Media Matters' next target?
Is a biased reporter for a partisan organization in the White House's press briefing room really some sort of threat to democracy? So they ask a softball question -- or an especially odious question -- that affects what The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC report how exactly?
The percentage of the population that actually watches these briefings live on CSPAN is miniscule. The people that read "Gannon's" reports on the Talon News Web site is likely smaller.
As for conservative bias in the media. I work in a newsroom. I've worked in newsrooms large and small for more than a decade. There is no conservative bias at work. I can count the number of conservatives in the newsroom on one hand and still have enough fingers left to make a rude gesture.