Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Just How Hopeless is the Beltway Media?

I will try to answer that!

First of all, the media has no use for our criticism. They find our criticism tiresome so we should stop it.

"I am very bored with endlessly hearing everyone’s thoughts on The Media and how The Media is covering the election."

Yes. We readers and viewers should just shut up and take it.

The NY Times' public editor wrote a piece recently defending the media. What it came down to was:

Stop whining liberals. We are not going to reflect your ideology or morality in are coverage.

"The problem with false balance doctrine is that it masquerades as rational thinking. What the critics really want is for journalists to apply their own moral and ideological judgments to the candidates. Take one example. Suppose journalists deem Clinton’s use of private email servers a minor offense compared with Trump inciting Russia to influence an American election by hacking into computers — remember that? Is the next step for a paternalistic media to barely cover Clinton’s email so that the public isn’t confused about what’s more important? Should her email saga be covered at all? It’s a slippery slope."

Interestingly when conservatives complained about coverage Ms. Spayd's response was very different.

"But here's the thing, in this column @spaydl sang a very different tone when conservatives complained about bias."

As for a slippery slope she is arguing against a red herring. What Spayd is saying is that there are two choices. Either have 100 email stories or 0. But what the media critics are arguing is maybe it should have been covered but didn't quite merit 100 different stories often with breathless front page headlines which showed revealed nothing new.

But this idea that the media has no power of discretion seems to be the defense that Beltway hacks are sticking with.

"I can’t help wondering about the ideological motives of those crying false balance, given that they are using the argument mostly in support of liberal causes and candidates. CNN’s Brian Stelter focused his show, “Reliable Sources,” on this subject last weekend. He asked a guest, Jacob Weisberg of Slate magazine, to frame the idea of false balance. Weisberg used an analogy, saying journalists are accustomed to covering candidates who may be apples and oranges, but at least are still both fruits. In Trump, he said, we have not fruit but rancid meat. That sounds like a partisan’s explanation passed off as a factual judgment."

This gets to a very tricky question in the modern US journalistic model that Josh Marshall wrote about yesterday.

Here is the question: what is a factual judgement? In 2016 more than ever the very idea is under attack. Climate change is considered a fact by those who actually study it.

However, the position of the GOP remains that it's a hoax or exaggerated or maybe it hasn't been proven either way yet. This is what the Liz Spayds of the world never grapple with. What if one side believes or propagates things that the relevant authorities say are false?

But as Marshall says with the rise of media monopoly, the media is less interested in being an arbiter of fact than an impartial referee. If one of the major parties makes an argument then it merits respectful coverage at least even if it's willfully false like with denying climate change.

But what Ms. Spayd is truly in denial about is the point that she has the power. She makes it sound as if the news just happens. But those in control of the media make decisions in terms of coverage. Is a story relevant news? How important? At the Times a front page story denotes the belief that Story A about say Hillary's emails is more important than Story B about Donald Trump's tax returns.

It's this power of discretion that Spayd and other Beltway insiders telling people to shut up miss. Jack Shafer also misses the point:

Shafer makes a dog's breakfast of the entire debate by suggesting that it's liberal media critics who are demanding 'false balance' when the argument is that Beltway insiders like Shafer practice false balance.

But Shafer too seems not to know that the media has any discretion:

"If we’re obsessing about her emails, whose fault is that? If she had handled her emails professionally and left them on government servers, they would have made a minor news blip as Freedom of Information Act requests made them public."

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First of all I'm always very skeptical of Beltway insiders who declare that if only Hillary Clinton had done 'A' her coverage would have been better. Now supposedly if she had told them she had pneumonia treated by antibiotics on Friday rather than Sunday, she would't be getting bad coverage.

Sure she wouldn't. I'm sure the media wouldn't be wondering if she were up to the job as she failed to even show up at a 9/11 memorial. I'm sure there'd be no speculation of how sick is she really and how she-but not Trump who has provided nothing-needs to be more transparent with her medical history though she's released as much information as Romney/Obama.

Now after her stumble you can argue she should release more and she is. But Trump has released nothing. Shockingly he's not releasing anything on Dr. Oz after all.

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