Re: The Editor, In The Newsroom

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I thought everyone knew this all along. Everyone worth speaking of, I mean.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:24 AM
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Yes, but it's John's hobby-horse (but not his only hobby horse!).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:25 AM
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This reporter seems to be saying that her bosses were pressuring her to give the people what they want -- the thinking being something like- the people love their President and want to believe in him and they will get angry at us (and write angry letters or change the channel) if we do negative stories about him. This isn't the same as our preferred theory that management pressures reporters to propagandize in favor of positions that are in management's economic interest.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:25 AM
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That it was obvious doesn't diminish the significance of someone who actually experienced it saying so, apparently unexpectedly. It'd be foolish to expect a stampede of mea culpas, but this sort of thing does help.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:28 AM
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3: well, if one assumes that they aren't currently getting similar pressure to do negative stories about the President, it certainly leaves room for that explanation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:30 AM
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The comments on that story are frightening.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:31 AM
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Eh. Emerson's still wrong, if only because, for the good of America, we cannot let the No-Relationship guru gain a credibility foothold.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:32 AM
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Also, I heard the other day that the White House relied on propaganda in selling the Iraq War. All these shocking revelations.

3: This isn't the same as our preferred theory that management pressures reporters to propagandize in favor of positions that are in management's economic interest.

And you don't suppose it might be economically useful to corporate executives to be in the good graces of the White House.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:32 AM
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Emerson, shmemerson. This is Propaganda Model 101. A for-profit press means a press owned and financed by corporate interests, and those corporate interests exert direct and indirect influence on the people who make and present the news, and that influence is used to advance the agendas of the industries who control our media. In this case, pro-war propaganda was seen as more profitable than war skepticism, as it almost invariably is. There's nothing particularly conspiratorial going on; it's the natural result of what happens when the news is seen as a profit-making business. Chomsky and Herman describe it as a "guided market system."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:32 AM
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Speaking of what Emerson has known.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:32 AM
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And you don't suppose it might be economically useful to corporate executives to be in the good graces of the White House.

Probably...but at other times the press is highly critical of the President.

Yellin is saying that management was responding to what they percieved as the mood of the public, not pursuing their own agenda or trying to suck up to the White House.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:39 AM
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I know Disney is a corporate monolith like any other, but it's still a little weird to me to imagine them pushing for more war-friendly reporting, like some red-faced executive was shouting "MICKEY WANTS BLOOD!"

Yes, yes, ignores the historical role of Disney in American war efforts, among other things. Still! Must adorable cartoon animals always be so bloodthirsty?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:40 AM
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It's easy to blame the press, but I don't remember all that much journa-jingoism in the run-up to the war. Most thinking people knew the case was pretty weak, even at the time. Or at least the counterarguments were out there (editorial pages, anyone?) to be found.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:42 AM
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13: uh, what country were you in at the time?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:43 AM
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11: ...but at other times the press is highly critical of the President.

Like, when he's screwed up to the point of being radioactive even to the haves and have-mores (i.e. his base). And even then, only a fraction as critical as media in other countries.

Yellin is saying that management was responding to what they percieved as the mood of the public

They were servicing a President and an agenda that seemed to be riding high politically, for their own gain. This would primarily include their own economic gain.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:43 AM
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The counter-arguments appeared on page A12 and vanished instantly from public discourse.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:44 AM
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Picking up on the Emerson link in 10, one of the reasons I don't have all that much respect for the media critics he references is that the implicit argument of Atrios, Somerby, et al seems to be that if we could just get rid of Tim Russert and Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd and replace them with the Liberal White Media Knight of the moment, the press would be "fixed." And the problem isn't Russert or Matthews or Dowd; the problem isn't even Rupert Murdoch or Pinch Sulzberger. The problem is that a capitalist system with a for-profit media will inevitably produce Russerts, Matthewses, Murdochs, and Sulzbergers. The function of the media isn't to inform the public or some other lofty goal, it's to act as a respectable mouthpiece for a corporatist ruling class.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:45 AM
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I don't remember all that much journa-jingoism in the run-up to the war

Of course, RiD was blackout drunk for the six months prior to the invasion.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:46 AM
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Or at least the counterarguments were out there (editorial pages, anyone?)

Would this be the editorial page of the New York Times, which endorsed the war? Or would it be the editorial page of the Washington Post, which also endorsed the war?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:47 AM
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18: ah, I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:47 AM
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All Yellin knew about was what she experienced and what was said to her. She has no particular insight into management's motives. Nor do I, but I've thought a lot about the question, and popular demand can't be the answer because they've lagged behind the public almost from the beginning.

My argument has been that it's a management problem, not a personnel problem. DeLong, Somerby, and a number of others zero in on reporters and blame them (individually or as a group) for poor reporting, whereas I say that management gets the reporters it wants.

And of course everybody knows this, in the sense of "everybody who matters", that is to say, "10% of Americans and 25% of the Brits.".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:47 AM
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19: the Times editorial position was cautiously against, actually. But god knows they did enough to bang the drums in other ways.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:49 AM
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Yellin is saying that management was responding to what they percieved as the mood of the public, not pursuing their own agenda or trying to suck up to the White House.

I find that explanation credible. There are undoubtedly specific incidents where the economic interests or ideological leanings of the owners filter down into news coverage, but for the most part, Yellin's explanation is a more parsimonious one. Look at CNN's persistent campaign to add more conservative commentators. Or at MSNBC's canning the highly rated Phil Donahue.

What I still can't understand, though, is the persistence of that response, now that Bush has had 2/3+ disapproval for over a year.

I think it's a "once-bitten, twice shy" phenomenon. The older generation of journalists has the experience of seeing newsroom sensibility radically diverge from public sentiment three or four different times over their careers (popularity of Nixon, popularity of Reagan, support for Gulf War I, and support for Clinton during the Lewinski scandal). The fear of seeming "out of touch" competes with the traditional journalistic aspiration to shake the public out of its complacency, and in the post-9/11 environment, the latter was no match for the former.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:51 AM
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"Freedom of the press in Britain is freedom to print such of the proprietor's prejudices as the advertiser's won't object to."

Maybe it's different over there, but this has been a truism at least all my life. The guy who came up with this version died in 1962.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:54 AM
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What I still can't understand, though, is the persistence of that response, now that Bush has had 2/3+ disapproval for over a year.

Because it's not about catering to the public at all. It's about giving corporate advertisers and owners what they want, and what they want is more conservatives, which is to say, more mouthpieces for the ruling class.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:55 AM
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I'm with Emerson that it's much more likely that management will intervene to move coverage in a direction favorable to the (GOP) establishment, although I'm not sure he's answered the question of their motivations in a way I fully buy. I think management may have a (Justified? Who knows.) sense that the average reporter would err on the side of distrusting authority, and feel like they have to tamp down that natural instinct when lots of dollars (from e.g. skittish advertisers) are at stake. When there's no economic pressure to toe the line (as is the case when anybody but the billionaire's party is in the White House, and is also the case when approval ratings sink low enough) they lose interest in meddling, and coverage reverts to a slightly more balanced mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:57 AM
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The problem is that a capitalist system with a for-profit media will inevitably produce Russerts, Matthewses, Murdochs, and Sulzbergers. The function of the media isn't to inform the public or some other lofty goal, it's to act as a respectable mouthpiece for a corporatist ruling class.

But the private sector media* in other countries didn't fall prey to the same temptations. I did a fair amount of work with a German company in the run-up to the war, and the flimsiness of the administration's rationale for the war was axiomatic to news coverage over there. The German public was opposed (even conservative, pro-American politicians tried to distance themselves), and news coverage aligned itself with public opinion.

*Admittedly the public sector plays a much larger role in setting the agenda for broadcast news coverage in Germany, but the print and cable channels were also openly skeptical of Bush and the war.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:57 AM
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25. Yup.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 9:59 AM
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19,21: I don't think you are being entirely fair to Somerby at least. He definitely looks at the economics of it -- sometimes noting that TV news personalities are in the highest tax brackets, and sometimes pointing out the kind of people GE exec Robert Wright has hired. Not perhaps the structural critique of capitalism that you would prefer, but he doesn't ignore the economics.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:00 AM
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Considering that the media don't respond well to the mood of the public, I don't find Knecht's explanation parsimonious in the least. There's an alternate explanation at my link: advertiser pressure, the promise of low taxes and an end to the estate tax, various other forms of federal goodies, and sincere pro-war conviction (which is much stronger among political elites than it is among almost any demographic sector of the public except perhaps some fraction of white males -- rural, Southern, fundamentalist, rich, etc.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:00 AM
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14 & 18: Actually, I was in London at the time, so the 'blacked out drunk' thing isn't far off. I kept up with the U.S. press rather closely (not the 24-hour news networks, though, thank God). It's not like support for the war was 100 percent when we went in there.

I'm not saying that the press didn't fuck things up. It's just that, as someone who's worked at a few U.S. newspapers, I don't think the lofty political shit (corporate ownership, political agendas, etc.) actually trickles down to the reporters and editors as much as the haters seem to think.

...Or maybe I just don't know what the hell I'm opining about. In which case, this is the internet.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:02 AM
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The press defense that "hey, we covered the opposition too" doesn't hold up against scrutiny about how they covered it. This MediaMatters piece on coverage of Ted Kennedy's September 2002 criticism of the push toward war is, alas, a look at very representative problems. It is technically true that the press took notice of the fact that Ted Kennedy had criticized the administration. But they did so briefly, often actively misleadingly, and then dropped it altogether. And that's how it went, except often with even more outright lies on matters like the attendance at public demonstrations.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:03 AM
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31.1: it was really the TV news and the way things shook out in print editions. If you were just reading newspapers online (or in print either, really) I don't think you'd get a sense of it at all.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:03 AM
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21: My argument has been that it's a management problem, not a personnel problem

I am not sure it is that productive to try and break this down to far into its components. in the overall cultural and economic hegemony, the reporters and the management are pretty aligned, even before you take into account the direct reporting relationship.

And of course "corporate media" will always be a problem in a capitalist society, but I at least would like to start by getting to Knight-Ridder level coverage, rather than the crap we got. (The incredible ratio of pro to anti-war guests on cable TV is the most shocking item I recall—along with Donahue.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:04 AM
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It's about giving corporate advertisers ... what they want

That much is correct, but you're wrong about what advertisers want. They want viewers. As many of them as possible, from whatever demographic their products are targeted at. And they want the broadcaster to refrain from criticizing their products, either implicitly or explicitly, and to refrain from airing anything that would create negative associations with their products.

As a rule, advertisers don't give a rat's ass about the editorial content of a medium except to the extent that it attracts the right audience and creates positive associations for their brands.

Marketing executives live or die by numbers that have nothing to do with how the GOP does in the Congressional midterms.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:06 AM
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But the private sector media* in other countries didn't fall prey to the same temptations. I did a fair amount of work with a German company in the run-up to the war, and the flimsiness of the administration's rationale for the war was axiomatic to news coverage over there.

But the German elite weren't on board with the Iraq war; in fact they were opposed to it. Why would German private media lean pro-war when German elites were against the war? For a better understanding of how European media reflects the biases of ruling powers, look at coverage of globalization issues, where globalization critics, at least up until fairly recently, have been generally portrayed as backwards-looking reactionaries.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:07 AM
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35: they also really, really don't want to be boycotted because they're unpatriotic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:09 AM
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Maybe I've been out of the America-loop for too long, but criticising the CNNs and Foxes for superficial, un-comprehensive coverage seems like slamming US Weekly for being too celebrity-centered. Seriously: The 24-hour networks are fundamentally News for Idiots. Does anyone take them seriously anymore?

How many stories do they have to fuck up before we start regarding them like People Magazine? Is there any story, other than a breaking-news, 9-11 type situation, for which they have proven themselves an adequate medium for information dissemination?


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:09 AM
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I'm not sure why "pressuring her to give the people what they want" is supposed to be completely distinct from "pressures reporters to propagandize in favor of positions that are in management's economic interest". Surely the distinction isn't between those two, but between "responding to management pressure" and "publishing news that the editorial staff think is important and true".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:10 AM
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WTF is that supposed to mean, JP? Of course management and lackeys are well aligned. That's what management control means. It's not a symmetrical relationship.

There are multiple stories of reporters who were not well aligned who either caved in, dead-ended, or left the business.

I will never, ever understand the butthead resistance I get here to what seems to me to be a fairly commonplace idea -- that management sets policy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:11 AM
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From a FAIR study over a two week period in January/February '03 that was linked in the Ted Kenedy story in Bruce's 32:

•Seventy-six percent of all sources were current or former officials, leaving little room for independent and grassroots views. Similarly, 75 percent of U.S. sources (199/267) were current or former officials.
•At a time when 61 percent of U.S. respondents were telling pollsters that more time was needed for diplomacy and inspections (2/6/03), only 6 percent of U.S. sources on the four networks were skeptics regarding the need for war.
•Sources affiliated with anti-war activism were nearly non-existent. On the four networks combined, just three of 393 sources were identified as being affiliated with anti-war activism-- less than 1 percent. Just one of 267 U.S. sources was affiliated with anti-war activism-- less than half a percent.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:11 AM
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As a rule, advertisers don't give a rat's ass about the editorial content of a medium except to the extent that it attracts the right audience and creates positive associations for their brands.

Bullshit. Oil companies talking about how green they are?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:12 AM
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Unless you think a truth-and-reconciliation commission soon in this country is at all likely, revelations of the Yellin and McClellan variety are going to be the next best thing, and we should hope for their maximum exposure and credibility.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:14 AM
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I will never, ever understand the butthead resistance I get here to what seems to me to be a fairly commonplace idea -- that management sets policy.

It's harder for people to accept a more radical position because it requires a more radical solution. Or, alternatively, because it suggests we're all fucked. I feel your pain.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:16 AM
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41: I remember that the coverage of the February marches was relatively extensive (not as much as you'd hope, given the scale, but more than you usually got) but featured no actual interviews with speakers at or organizers of the marches.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:16 AM
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The public wants--no, the public demands--CLEAN COAL.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:16 AM
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43: I'm a lot more interested in Yellin's revelations than McClellan's, actually, since (a) the press isn't going away any time soon (b) she isn't just trying to save her own ass and (c) information about how widespread this was isn't particularly easy to come by.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:17 AM
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Does anyone take them seriously anymore?

Idiots who vote. Management sets policy at Mother Jones or the Atlantic too, but their audiences are smaller.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:18 AM
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But the German elite weren't on board with the Iraq war; in fact they were opposed to it. Why would German private media lean pro-war when German elites were against the war?

This is a gross oversimplification, at best. Elite opinion was divided in Germany, much more so than public opinion, which was overwhelmingly against. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, for example, can pretty much stand in for the opinion of the capitalist elite, and it was editorially pro-war (or at least anti-anti-war). The red-green government opposed it.

In general, the "corporate" media in Germany (e.g. private television broadcasters) took their cues from the "independent media", and extensively covered critics of the war, both before and after the invasion.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:18 AM
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40: WTF don't you get about the fact that very well off reporters and media personalities are not complete tools of management and also function as semi-autonomous free agents with their own political and social agenda. (And yes, of course they get that via a symbiotic relatinship with "management".)

I will never, ever understand the butthead resistance I am getting to what seems to me to be a fairly commonplace idea -- that management is people too, and people is management too.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:18 AM
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Unless you think a truth-and-reconciliation commission soon in this country is at all likely, revelations of the Yellin and McClellan variety are going to be the next best thing, and we should hope for their maximum exposure and credibility.

Who's responsible for giving stories like Yellin's exposure and credibility? The media. Who's most invested in maintaining the media's own sense of credibility? The media. I promise you that in five years, we'll be lucky if one percent of the population even remembers who Jessica Yellin is, much less what she had to say about the run-up to the Iraq War.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:20 AM
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Maybe I've been out of the America-loop for too long, but criticising the CNNs and Foxes for superficial, un-comprehensive coverage seems like slamming US Weekly for being too celebrity-centered. Seriously: The 24-hour networks are fundamentally News for Idiots. Does anyone take them seriously anymore?

You're right, the 10% of the population which is aware of the existence of better news sources does not in fact take TV news programs seriously. This does not decrease their effect on public opinion, though.

How many stories do they have to fuck up before we start regarding them like People Magazine? Is there any story, other than a breaking-news, 9-11 type situation, for which they have proven themselves an adequate medium for information dissemination?

They are what people watch, because they are on every day, on well-known channels. Most people never seek out "information" on any particular topic.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:20 AM
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I actually do have a proposed solution: a non-profit national newspaper. There are plenty of deep-pockets guys who could afford it, starting with Soros. It would be a risk and would require an iinovative business plan, but all newspapers have that problem. Knight-Ridder could be bought up as a skeleton (they almost were bankrupted as a reward for their good coverage), and maybe some sort of deal could be worked out with the Guardian. A lot of up and coming journalists and bloggers cound be scavenged up, and some disgruntled pros and blackballed reporters would also show up.

The money given to Moveon and Obama is mostly pissed away. It's at the level of media, and the origination and promotion of ideas year in and year out, that the left and center are feeble.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:21 AM
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47: But will you at least agree that McClellan's memoir has served the useful purpose of bringing this issue a little bit more into the public eye, independent of its self-serving nature. No one is asking Yellin this without the book.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:21 AM
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47: McClellan's revelations seem to have begot Yellin's; I'm with Steve Clemens at TPM this morning. We need everybody to speak up regardless of motive or stature.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:22 AM
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Weiner'd


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:22 AM
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I will never, ever understand the butthead resistance I get here to what seems to me to be a fairly commonplace idea -- that management sets policy.

Liberals prefer structural/societal explanations over bad actor explanations.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:23 AM
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That'd be begat, wouldn't it?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:23 AM
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53: John, I assume you are aware of Poynter and the St. Petersburg Times, any idea on how they have done compared to more traditionally owned newspapers?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:23 AM
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41: I remember that the coverage of the February marches was relatively extensive (not as much as you'd hope, given the scale, but more than you usually got) but featured no actual interviews with speakers at or organizers of the marches.

Exactly.

"So, several thousand people did this today. Does anyone know why they did it? Let's ask our panelists."
A: "No, but they probably had some good reason for it."
B: "I wouldn't have done it myself, but I admire their vigor, whoever they are."
C: "Whatever it is that these people are trying to do, they should be grateful that they live in America, the only country where they would be free to do it."
D: "Because they hate our president for partisan reasons."
E: "Because they are idiots."


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:25 AM
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So what is the point of saying "we're totally fucked!" over and over again as loudly as you can? Because then more people will realize were fucked? And then... what? They can do something! Like... what? You already said we're fucked. The media in this country, for one reason or another, is not to be trusted to do it's job when the GOP wants a war. Let's consider that point well settled. So what do we do, get all our news from indymedia? Take Chomsky books as received wisdom? Agitate for greater public funding for news? Oookay, what does that buy us? Write about politics on the internet? Say, everybody here already does that! Fail to take reporting on issues of national security at face value? Say, everybody here already does that, too!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:25 AM
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49: KR, the Iraq War was seen as an American project by elites both in America and overseas. You can't compare the pressures on an American media firm to reiterate the American line on an American war with pressures on German media to reiterate the American line on an American war. German elites - and French elites and Swedish elites, for that matter - simply lacked the connection that American elites had to an American war.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:26 AM
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JP, that's true because the ones about whom it is not true are fired, because these are hierarchal, asymmetric organizations. Or they fight a losing battle, as many reporters did. Or they cave in and give the management what it wants.

I'm not saying that not a single one of the reporters started off in complete agreement with management, but a lot of them did not and were pressured.

Shit, even anarchist co-ops end up developing hierarchies, but media organizations are explicitly top-down, with hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, and orders from the top.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:27 AM
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Okay, I guess Emerson does have a proposed solution. What would the charter of this newspaper be? Promoting Soros's ideas? Sure, okay, that's what the right's done. Trying to make a newspaper a profitable enterprise is a mug's game anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:28 AM
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42: In what way does this contradict what I said? Advertiser influence has always set limits on editorial independence, just not in the vulgar marxist way that you and stras contend.

Advertisers care about ratings, they care about viewer/reader demographics, they care about editorial criticism of their products/companies/managers, and they care about "controversy" that would reflect badly on their brands. I think that anti-war coverage may well have fallen into the last category in 2002-2004, or at least it was perceived by management and newsroom producers to fall into that category. That's very different from "advertisers want more voices for the ruling class".

To cite a historical example, pro-integration newspapers in the segregated South were frequently nervous about advertiser reaction to aggressive criticism of Jim Crow, whether or not those advertisers were themselves ideologically committed to segregation (and liberal, pro-integration sentiment was not unknown in the business community of the South). The very association with a controversy that would offend their target market was enough.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:28 AM
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The money given to Moveon and Obama is mostly pissed away.

Doesn't a shitload of the campaign money end up going to media ad buys? I wish the legislature could figure out some way to force media companies to give equal time to campaign crap and reduce available purchasable campaign adtime, but I know our first admendment makes it pretty much impossible.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:29 AM
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61: I think what we need to do is relentlessly mock and scorn the very concept of for-profit, free broadcast media being a source for "news". What we have now, local TV news, CNN, Fox, is all worse than nothing. People who aren't interested in news would be better off with nothing than with sitting in their homes, pushing a button, and having this nonsense forced upon them until they push another button to change the channel.

Newspapers and magazines could theoretically contain news, though many of them have been captured by the power elite and by advertisers.

If you don't put any effort into obtaining information, then you can't trust the information you get. This seems like a plausible thing that people could believe easily.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:30 AM
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61: For a start, you can stop freaking out quite so much over the basic observation that the media isn't acting in your interest, and never has, and never will.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:30 AM
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The contemporary, grotesque interpretation of the First Amendment makes it pretty much impossible.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:31 AM
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Poynter and the St. Petersburg Times is an extraordinarily small player. The Guardian might be a better example. I have no idea what your argument is, though, except that you're firmly convinced that it's true.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:31 AM
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68: when did I do that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:33 AM
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69.---Certainly the first amendment jurisprudence recently hasn't been so hot, but I do think that at the end of the day, forcing presses to serve as state organs in the way I proposed (ie, the way France does it) would violate the spirit and I think the letter of the Constitution.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:33 AM
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64: What would be wrong with that, Sifu? But the charter of the newspaper could be any goddamn thing.

Jesus, I'm starting to believe that people here think that the laws governing present-day American newspapers are carved in stone and that it's silly to either criticize or to propose alternatives. I guess original sin, the fallen nature of many, entropy, and the law of gravity all converge to tell us that things have to be this way.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:34 AM
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"fallen nature of man".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:35 AM
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Trying to make a newspaper a profitable enterprise is a mug's game anyhow.

Trying to influence public opinion with the written word is also, alas, a mug's game.

Once again, Al Gore is thinking way ahead of the rest of us. The weapon that can challenge the dominance of the corporate media will likely combine ingredients of Current TV, TPM Media, YouTube, and as-yet undeveloped interactive technologies. Find a way to harness that to the profit motive to make it self-sustaining, and you have a news media that can make a difference.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:36 AM
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70: ?? I was not "arguing" there, I know that they are small players, just wondering if you had any opinion on whether their interesting ownership structure had had any salutary effect on their news reporting. As a a model. (Just because I do not agree with all of the aspects of your analysis does not mean that I don't respect your knowledge in this area.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:37 AM
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I actually do have a proposed solution: a non-profit national newspaper. There are plenty of deep-pockets guys who could afford it, starting with Soros.

A viable non-profit press would be great, but I don't see how it wouldn't be susceptible to takeover by anyone rich enough to fund it. Better than what we've got now, I suppose, but still.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:37 AM
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So what is the point of saying "we're totally fucked!" over and over again as loudly as you can? Because then more people will realize were fucked? And then... what?

Sifu, I did propose an alternative, and you immediately objected.

What are you saying? That we shouldn't even talk about the dead man in the room, and just pretend he's not there, because, you know, what can we do?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:37 AM
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Trying to influence public opinion with the written word is also, alas, a mug's game.

It works for them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:39 AM
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forcing presses to serve as state organs in the way I proposed (ie, the way France does it) would violate the spirit and I think the letter of the Constitution.

No extraconstitutional measures are required. The broadcast stations use the electromagnetic spectrum, an asset that unambiguously belongs to the public (except to the extent that it is sold or leased). The enjoyment of that piece of spectrum has always been linked to public service obligations. It's just that successive administrations have allowed those obligations to be whittled down to meaninglessness. There is no constitutional problem with telling the networks, "You must air 30 minutes of political advertising per day as a condition of your broadcast licence." The problem is a a political one: the networks are an immensely powerful lobby, and the local broadcast affiliates are a potentially lethal opponent for a Congressman to have.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:40 AM
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The weapon that can challenge the dominance of the corporate media will likely combine ingredients of Current TV, TPM Media, YouTube, and as-yet undeveloped interactive technologies.

How large a percentage of the American populace do you think Current TV, TPM Media, and YouTube reach, combined? Because I'm betting it's still a shitload smaller than dopey old network television.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:40 AM
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73: I don't think people here believe what you think they believe. I personally would argue that the non-profit orientation is less useful than having private ownership who are basically sympathetic to the cause of the left, which means not hereditary millionaires.

Publicly held media companies, I think, exert top-down pressure for reasons slightly different than what you're saying (well, the top is different than the one you posit, is all the only difference I really have with you) but are just as doomed to fail to respond to the demands of the truth.

The thing is, even non-profits need money to operate, so either they're going to accept advertising or they're going to need a lot of ongoing funding, and if they accept advertising, hey, same problem.

If you're talking about something like a Consumer Reports of political news, I think it's a great idea, but the market isn't there and it's still susceptible to getting gamed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:41 AM
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63: John, I agree with that, a case in point is to follow the divergent career paths of David Broder and William Greider, since they were national political reporters/analysts of relatively equal stature in the early 70s (or Woodward and Bernstein for that matter).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:42 AM
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81: but, stras, what on earth are you proposing? That we firebomb ABC? Building counter-programming has to start somewhere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:42 AM
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A second option would be a subscription newspaper with a million subscribers at $50 / year. This could be combined with, for example, an endowed non-profit. But people want free news, which is a big part of the problem.

Gore's scheme may be the kind of thing I'm talking about. I don't know much about it but it doesn't seem to have taken the world by storm. Maybe it's a prototype.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:42 AM
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Sifu, I did propose an alternative, and you immediately objected.

I hadn't seen your alternative when I posted that, actually.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:43 AM
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I actually do have a proposed solution: a non-profit national newspaper. There are plenty of deep-pockets guys who could afford it, starting with Soros.

Or, say, the Emir of Qatar. For instance.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:44 AM
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There is no constitutional problem with telling the networks, "You must air 30 minutes of political advertising per day as a condition of your broadcast licence."

What I had in mind was more like: you must air 30 minutes of ad per day as a condition of your broadcast licence, equal timeslots of which should be spent on each candidate, and you should not air any additional advertising for political positions or candidates.

Those qualifiers are what makes the requirement have some effect on the political-marketing landscape; they're also the clearly unconstitutional bits.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:45 AM
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84: Why is it required that I propose something? I think the current system is irredeemably broken. I don't know how to fix it without re-envisioning society, and history, from the ground up. That I don't know how to fix something doesn't mean I can't point out that it's busted.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:45 AM
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89: well, sure, but you do know pretty much everybody here already agrees with you, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:49 AM
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Agreed with 47. Yellin is telling us something new: confirming details that aren't surprising, but it's good to have a witness in the press. McLellan, not so much. I mean, I'm glad he wrote the book--the more people saying that Bush was a disaster the merrier--but it's hard for me to care very much or give him much credit.

"I wish the legislature could figure out some way to force media companies to give equal time to campaign crap and reduce available purchasable campaign adtime, but I know our first admendment makes it pretty much impossible."

With respect to print & internet, yeah, but with network TV there's the whole "public airwaves that we're licensing you to use for free" argument.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:49 AM
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I think that once finance gets involved the media are doomed to be corrupted. Ted Turner's CNN was imperfect but had many good points, but when he decided to sell it it became immediately worse. The same thing happens when a family paper has to liquidate to pay off heirs. The majority of the media is controlled by big conglomerates with multiple interests, and there's no room for anything other than (long-term or short-term) profit-maximization plus propaganda.

I just do not believe that either big-time advertisers or corporate media giants will ever be politically neutral. When GE buys a TVnetwork, one of the things it's getting is a mouthpiece. And when a big advertiser lays down a hundred million or so, they want a mouthpiece as a throw-in. Only the institutional advertising isn't trying to sell something on the market, but advertisers are happy to multi-purpose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:53 AM
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Biased coverage of the Iraq War is a hard case because, like, there was going to be a war and all the elites knew it. Which means, in a sense, there was no useful policy decision to be made or discussion to be had. The Decider had decided and hundreds of thousands of American troops were going to Baghdad. You have to analyze all the 2002 positions in the light of that inevitability.

I am not a rally behind the President or support the troops kinda guy, but I can understand those who are. Even America First got on board in 1942.

There are many other issues in which a study of press bias could be more informative:Iran, extension of the tax cuts, gasoline/energy/housing,stem cells. I think a wider study will give a more complicated nuanced picture.

America was not only crazed because of 9/11; I think the elites were a little crazed by having madmen in the White House, and not knowing how to resist them without massive collateral damage.

I repeat, emphatically:The Iraq War was not a deliberative, democratic decision any way, and it is not useful to analyze it as if it were. A better parallel would be how a German should react to the invasion of Poland in 1939.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:53 AM
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well, sure, but you do know pretty much everybody here already agrees with you, right?

They do? About what?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:55 AM
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Bob, we can shift the discussion over to Gore-Bush 2000. The closest election ever, and the media played a big and very negative role.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 10:56 AM
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How large a percentage of the American populace do you think Current TV, TPM Media, and YouTube reach, combined?

I'm not claiming that Current TV is about to displace the networks. But from tiny acorns, mighty oaks may grow.

Not many people imagined in 1950 that people sitting in their living rooms watching an electronic image on a glass screen would determine the fate of our politics.

When Al Gore wrote his undergraduate thesis on the impact of television on politics, the topic was still considered novel, and that was in 1969.

When I started reading TPM in 2000, I never imagined that Josh would take down a Senate Majority Whip and stop the President's number one domestic policy initiative in its tracks, but goshdarnit he did it (that is, Josh and his tiny, disproportionately influential readership started the media avalanche that ended up doing these things.)

The newspaper as we know it is dying, broadcast news is a few steps behind (anyone else have parents who wouldn't dream of missing the nightly news? How many people under 50 still think that way?). The cable news networks are seen by a tiny fraction of the public on the average day.

We are rapidly approaching the day when the average American consumes no news media at all on an average day. So there is an opening to get a progressive message out through other, non-traditional means. The fact that an appearance on all the late night talk shows has become de rigeur for Presidential candidates is the best evidence of that.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:00 AM
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"A second option would be a subscription newspaper with a million subscribers at $50 / year. This could be combined with, for example, an endowed non-profit. But people want free news, which is a big part of the problem."

A daily along these lines seems like the best bet to me. Not easy: $50/year is quite cheap for a daily; that's more a magazine rate & magazines have got to have much lower costs. And people want free news--I'd be willing to pay $50 for a really good source, but you don't know it's good until it starts so it's probably really hard to build up subscribers w/o making it free. & once you make it available free, the resistance to charging only grows. So maybe it couldn't ever be profitable, but I still think it could be very good bang for non-profit buck. (Better than a magazine--those already exist & to influence dailies and tv networks in an ongoing way I think you need to be a daily. And better than a tv network because I'd imagine it's somewhat less expensive.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:02 AM
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Liberals, procedural liberals are desperately hanging on to the myth that the war was a democratic decision, that the war could have been prevented if Senator X had voted against the AUMF or whatever. It is a pathetic myth.

The real lesson of the Bush administration is that when you have an asshole in the White House you have to be willing to pay the costs of removing him or willing to watch masses die. All the rest, like constitutional restraints or media control, is comfort food for procedural liberals.

I do not think that lesson has been learned, and if McCain is elected, we will watch masses die, while liberals debate new rules.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:02 AM
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"When I started reading TPM in 2000, I never imagined that Josh would take down a Senate Majority Whip and stop the President's number one domestic policy initiative in its tracks, but goshdarnit he did it (that is, Josh and his tiny, disproportionately influential readership started the media avalanche that ended up doing these things.)"

BTW, am I the only one disappointed in TPM Election Central? Two full time reporters & all they do is waste time on horse race nonsense I could get anywhere. I guess enough people read it--hell, I read it--but I'm never glad I did & it seems so far below par for TPM.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:04 AM
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"procedural liberals are desperately hanging on to the myth that the war was a democratic decision, that the war could have been prevented if Senator X had voted against the AUMF or whatever. It is a pathetic myth."

If you think this is why people are furious at Democratic Senator X for voting for the war, you're way the fuck off (as usual).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:05 AM
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The newspaper as we know it is dying, broadcast news is a few steps behind (anyone else have parents who wouldn't dream of missing the nightly news? How many people under 50 still think that way?). The cable news networks are seen by a tiny fraction of the public on the average day.

Very true.

What makes me nuts is having cable news forced upon me at the airport. Turn that shit off, assholes. It's not a public service and I don't appreciate it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:06 AM
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we will watch masses die, while liberals debate new rules

While McManus does what? Fulminates on comment threads? Stockpiles molotov cocktails? Self-immolates in the lobby of the Nieman Marcus flagship store?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:06 AM
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Alternative presses thrive when the people are alienated from their gov'ts and elites and consider existing structures illegitimate. The people create them. Historical examples are legion. Do not put the cart before the horse.

So the question is, if this is what you want, how to alienate and radicalize the people? Well, first, be alienated and radicalized yourself, and don't seek a better press to be a better tool of your new reformed but structurally intact government.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:09 AM
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Turn that shit off, assholes. It's not a public service and I don't appreciate it.

Yess! Someone who shares this pet peeve!

Unfortunately, the airports can't "turn that shit off", because they have a contract with CNN that obliges the airport authority to make the broadcast visible and audible from every seat in the concourse. CNN pays them for the privilege, naturally. The nature of the deal is that the advertisers on the CNN Airport Network can be sold on the fact that the viewership of the channel will be identical to the average passenger dwell in the terminal, less those who are in the restroom.

One of the most uncomfortable half hours I spent in the last two years was waiting in the passport line while Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck railed against foreigners, while hundreds of foreigners waited in the brown people queue, looking on in horror.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:11 AM
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McManus does have a good point in 93. The Iraq war was in certain ways a special case, a demonstration of raw propaganda muscle by a somewhat crazed executive branch. The steady drumbeat of propaganda that happens even in "normal" times might be more informative to look at.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:13 AM
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they have a contract with CNN that obliges the airport authority to make the broadcast visible and audible from every seat in the concourse.

Are you fucking serious?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:15 AM
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Ugh, yes, so awful. I hate it so much. Lately I've been traveling a fair amount with a friend who gets us into the Elite Whatever Lounge, so I had been spared it for a while, and man was it painful to have it back. It really makes me insane. It's like having someone poke me and poke me and poke me for hours, only more offensive.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:17 AM
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poke me for hours, only more offensive

CNN: the Rough Rider of commercial public spaces.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:19 AM
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When I started reading TPM in 2000, I never imagined that Josh would take down a Senate Majority Whip and stop the President's number one domestic policy initiative in its tracks, but goshdarnit he did it (that is, Josh and his tiny, disproportionately influential readership started the media avalanche that ended up doing these things.)

TPM didn't exactly stop SS privatization single-handedly. It helped that the Democratic Party actually wanted to stop SS privatization - that it recognized that it needed to win a major political battle after Bush's reelection, that it couldn't afford to alienate Dem-leaning seniors, and that it couldn't allow twenty-somethings to get drafted into Karl Rove's "investor class." In short, TPM picked a fight it could win, and a fight that was going to probably be won without TPM anyway. If Josh Marshall had decided his single-issue was going to be warrantless wiretapping, or torture, or stopping the war, or any other issue the Democrats couldn't give a flying fuck about, it'd become pretty evident how little power the Online Citizen Journalist™ wields.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:19 AM
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108: Ha! "Glenn Beck, will you please stop fucking me! It's not cute."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:20 AM
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95:November-December 2000 was also a special case. George Bush was going to be inaugurated, if Tom Delay had to certify/decertify to do it. Or the Florida legislature. It was over when it was close.

I would have preferred that, but I am partial to heightening the contradictions and unleashing hell-on-earth. However, I can understand those who preferred the illusion of a peaceful transference of power.

Lot of "special cases", aren't there?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:22 AM
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Mandatory airport CNN is like exhibit number 110 in the ongoing Pravda-ization of the American public sphere.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:23 AM
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God, now I'm sitting here stewing over the airport CNN.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:24 AM
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re: 112

Only without the cool constructivist/socialist-realist style graphic design.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:25 AM
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Once Bush was elected, war was inevitable, but this is partly because the media were already in the bag, and the Democrats were a third hawks and half empty suits.

Bush's election was not inevitable. If Gore had been elected, things would have played out much differently in many different respects, even after 9/11.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:28 AM
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Are you fucking serious?

Yes.

Lately I've been traveling a fair amount with a friend who gets us into the Elite Whatever Lounge, so I had been spared it for a while,

Not for long. USAirways got new flatscreens installed in their lounges courtesy of Time Warner on the condition that they.... Well, you know the rest.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:31 AM
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The Soviets refused to issue exit visas. Nobody is forcing Disneyland or Hard Rock Cafe on anyone. We (demographically speaking, present company excepted) pay for the privilege. It's great that Yellin spoke out, of course.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:33 AM
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God, now I'm sitting here stewing over the airport CNN.

And when you check into your hotel tonight, RFTS, feel free to check the box that says "If you do not wish to have a copy of USA Today, check here and a credit of 50 cents will be added to your bill."

You'll still get the newspaper; the hotel gives one to everyone. The whole thing is just a charade so that USA Today can legally claim all of the newspapers distributed to hotel guests as "paid circulation" rather than "free circulation", thus justifying higher advertising rates.

Would anyone else care for a dose of "I can't believe they're so cynical!", or shall I stop for the day?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:38 AM
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For "free circulation", substitute "bulk circulation" in the above, to be strictly correct.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:39 AM
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One simple solution to the problem of pressure from executives is to have the editors democratically elected by the journalists and news staff. If you take away the power of the boardroom to hire and fire the editors, they would, presumably, have less control over the content.


Posted by: Yuri Guri | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:45 AM
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Don't stop on my account, but I think you're making a serious mistake by limiting yourself to de jure propaganda. It's a softer target, but a life intentionally arranged so as to never see people poorer than oneself, never to hear bad (OK, any) news-- what breed of callous monsters would choose such a thing? Righting every fiddly wrong committed in an office would not be enough, the cities and suburbs would still be full of the same people.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:45 AM
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"The thing is, even non-profits need money to operate, so either they're going to accept advertising or they're going to need a lot of ongoing funding, and if they accept advertising, hey, same problem."

Well, the way the Guardian works is to use its other holdings (eg Auto Trader, various radio stations) to subsidise the newspaper. That's one route. Another is to have a large enough endowment to survive off the interest. Another is to develop a sales (newstand and subscription) driven model.

All that said, I really don't think advertising dependence is the crucial issue. There are plenty of advertising driven newspapers around the world who have done a better job in the last 20 years than most US papers. The problem is the journalistic culture, which is of course influenced by the business model, but isn't determined by it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:47 AM
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Would anyone else care for a dose of "I can't believe they're so cynical!", or shall I stop for the day?

It's not that I am surprised about the contracts -- it's utterly obvious from the way things are arranged that this is why. It's that I've now been reminded of how incredibly unpleasant and unstoppable it is, making me stew. STEW STEW STEW.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:53 AM
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redfoxtailshrub stew, and redfoxtailshrubs too!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:57 AM
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if they accept advertising, hey, same problem

It bears repeating that the problem is not the political leanings of the advertisers. Put another way, it's not that an advertising model can't support an intelligent, liberal publication; it's that an advertising model has trouble supporting an intelligent publication, period (with certain exceptions for very affluent readerships, e.g. New Yorker, WSJ, Economist).

Generally speaking, consumer product advertisers do not want an educated audience, because educated readers are less responsive to advertising. The New Republic and the Washington Monthly are nearly bereft of ads, but so are Scientific American and National Review. Advertising on the web didn't take off until online penetration penetrated the mass market; an advertiser doesn't need to waste its money on the slashdot demographic.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 11:58 AM
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I wonder if a TV-B-Gone would make it through airport security? Might try that one out next time I fly.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:15 PM
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Noise cancelling headphones.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:24 PM
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and I'm sure a few of you folks could create good mixes for drowning out the CNN in an airport.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:25 PM
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I wonder if a TV-B-Gone would make it through airport security? Might try that one out next time I fly.

Surely one of your deceased bovine buddies could write an app to use a laptop IR port to mimic the appropriate remote control protocol. The process could be simplified by ascertaining what hardware CNN customarily distributes in this type of deal. Then you could distribute the app widely so that a distributed user group could attack the problem on a more widespread basis (assuming, of course, there are still enough laptops in circulation with IR ports).


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:42 PM
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and I'm sure a few of you folks could create good mixes for drowning out the CNN in an airport.

This would have to be part of it.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:47 PM
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129: the problem is power; even the actual TV-B-Gone doesn't have enough range to turn off TVs from any great distance. One of my deceased-bovine-associate buddies has, in fact, released a kit which solves the power problem, but it's a rather shady looking thing to be bringing into an airport terminal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:55 PM
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Must adorable cartoon animals always be so bloodthirsty?

The true nature of the adorable cartoon animal, revealed.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:57 PM
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Aw, Dob's adorable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 12:58 PM
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it's a rather shady looking thing to be bringing into an airport terminal.

A shiny plastic box with a cartoon animal decal would solve that problem.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 1:17 PM
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This seems to be the closest we have to a political thread at the moment:

"During a fund-raiser in Denver, Obama -- a former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School -- was asked what he hoped to accomplish during his first 100 days in office.

"I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,"

link. via.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 1:31 PM
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132 reminds me that I would hardly expect anything different from the company that owns the rights to IP Terrorism Bear.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 1:38 PM
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89

"Why is it required that I propose something? I think the current system is irredeemably broken. I don't know how to fix it without re-envisioning society, and history, from the ground up. That I don't know how to fix something doesn't mean I can't point out that it's busted."

Something cannot properly be said to be "broken" unless it is possible for it to function better. If you are unable to propose a better way it is pointless to gripe.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 1:54 PM
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It may be that something cannot plausibly function better in the current reality, but could only do so in the past.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 1:56 PM
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If you are unable to propose a better way it is pointless to gripe.

Wow, how very anti-democratic.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 2:07 PM
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Noise cancelling headphones.

Music can sometimes drown out the TV, but noise canceling really only cancels white noise.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 2:07 PM
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Not uncharacteristically, James B Shearer is full of shit in 137. Describing a problem is an initial first step. You don't have to propose a solution immediately. The problem we're talking about isn't an inevitability, like the problem of gravity or the problem of entropy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 2:11 PM
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135: Here's the link for those who can't get there from 135.

Laws he can't do much about, although he can issue statements disagreeing with the egregious "signing statements," or just start enforcing the laws as written. Executive orders are something else entirely.

But, generally, Hurray!


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 2:16 PM
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Notes toward an anti-news mix:

"Video Killed the Radio Star", the Buggles (at the 2004 Prince's Trust Concert - very fun to see the entire original group including backup singers, twenty-odd years later)
"Autographs for the Sick", Daniel Amos
"Some Things Never Change", Devo
"Dirty Laundry", Don Henley (at the 1993 MTV inaugural ball, for extra irony)
"Integral", Pet Shop Boys (I'm assuming Ogged is one of these backup guys)
"Radio Song", R.E.M.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 2:40 PM
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Fox News is the most highly rated cable news network. If you want to explain the fucked-up state of the media - and especially if you want to remediate it - it's simply impossible to discount the fact that one important motive for executives is giving people what they want.

Does this mean that TV execs follow the polls ? Not in some slavish, literal sense - politicians don't even follow the polls in that sense, even though their livelihood depends on assembling an electoral majority. And a network or a newspaper doesn't have to assemble anything resembling a majority to be a wild success.

The media has changed a lot in my lifetime, and continues to change - lately for the better. Why do these changes take place ? It's an interesting question, but to answer it one simply can't ignore the role of consumers.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 5:23 PM
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Drain the swamp. Continue to wreck the economy for the majority of Americans to the point where they can no longer afford the crap advertised on TV.


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 5:52 PM
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Noise cancelling headphones.

misogynist


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 6:00 PM
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I guess this thread is over and I missed all the part that came after Emerson's proposed solution. But in case anyone is reading, have you heard of ProPublica? Not quite a newspaper - I'm not sure how they're going to be publishing their research - but the funding model resembles Emerson's proposal in some way.

This may have been mentioned above; I searched for propublica and didn't see it in earlier comments.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-29-08 8:13 PM
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