The Third Shift

A vagabond who's made his home in the Pacific Northwest.

KTVU Flight 214 Fail (Original) (by supernatty121)

Journalism FAIL. This had to go through several layers before it made air, I promise you.

Behind the Curtain: Obama, the puppet master -

There is so much stupidity contained in this piece by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei that it drools. The primary stupidity is that ordinary people care about the travails of how hard the White House press corps has it in covering the president at all. Given that the people who do so largely make six-figure salaries from the large media corporations, sympathy is low, even from one’s fellow journalists.

The second problem is that these tirades and hissy fits come in the wake of the WH press corps being shut out of a photo op of President Obama playing golf with Tiger Woods. Of all the things to complain about transparency and access after, this ain’t it, and I don’t care how much you protest — a la Ed Henry of Fox News — that it’s about more than a golf game.

Third, and probably most salient, problem with this piece: the complaint by the press corps seems little more to me than the whining of an entitled class in the era of the Internet and easy to use media technology. Yes, the White House has increased its outreach through Twitter, Facebook, and other in-house methods of spreading its message rather than sitting down with journos. But every administration engages in this type of avoidance, only sitting down to softball interviews. Be a journalist. If you don’t get the access you want on an important story, then say so and find the information elsewhere. On covering subjects that actually matter, that means going to various departments and maybe greasing a squeaky wheel — like all those contacts and sources you’ve spent your time building up over your career.

Fourth and finally, it’s laughable to read complaints about the president not doing hard-hitting interviews with press organs such as the NYT, WashPost, etc. and including Politico in that list when Gawker editor John Cook reminds us of the last time Mike Allen got to sit down with a president by posting all the softballs Allen tossed to G.W. Bush on his Twitter feed.

Stop complaining about your lack of photo ops and go do your actual job.

the downfall of a general, but for entirely the wrong reasons?

That’s kind of what Michael Hastings is implying at BuzzFeed — kind of would be putting it kindly, as Hastings’ last major piece meant the end of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s career — and in the wake of a couple days of profiles and writing where Petraeus is lionized once again and Paula Broadwell gets slammed in ways that are way beyond the pale by people looking to protect themselves or their associations with the general, it’s worth asking the questions, both about Petraeus and journalists who lose the plot and become embedded.

Spencer Ackerman admits to his own complicity in the lionizing of Petraeus, and Andrew Sullivan reveals his interactions with the general at a salon he was invited to when he was still at the Atlantic.

How ESPN Ditched Journalism And Followed Skip Bayless To The Bottom: A Tim Tebow Story - Deadspin

Not that a Gawker Media site is immune to what drives views, ever — but John Koblin put together a very good piece here.

Via Hullabaloo, we learn David Frum said something amazing on Morning Joe and neither Scarborough nor Chuck Todd nor David Gregory dared acknowledge it. It comes about four minutes in:

Since the loss of the election, we have heard an enormous amount of discussion from Republicans on television and newspaper columns about immigration as an issue…but all of us who are allowed to participate in this conversation, we all have health insurance. And the fact that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance, they don’t get to be on television. And it is maybe a symptom of a broader problem, not just the Republican problem, that the economic anxieties of so many Americans are just not part of the national discussion at all. I mean, we have not yet emerged from the greatest national catastrophe, the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And what are we talking about? The deficit and the debt. And these are important problems, but they’re a lot easier to worry about if you are wealthier than you were in 2008, which most of the people on television now are again, if you are securely employed, which most of the people on television now are. But that’s not true for 80% of America. And the Republican Party, the opposition party, needed to find some way to give voice to real urgent economic concerns held by middle class Americans. Latinos, yes, but Americans of all ethnicities.

The debt is a real problem for the country, but right now, it’s secondary. We adopt the Charlie Pierce approach to the American economy: Eff The Debt. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.

Of course, had Romney won, we’d probably be right back in “deficits don’t matter” territory. But it’s telling that everyone ignored what David Frum said about it.  A Canadian conservative and former GW Bush speechwriter — the one who coined “axis of evil” — is calling out the cupidity and narrow parameters of the national political press, and they don’t dare acknowledge it. 

Conservatives get worked up about media bias — supposedly “liberal” media bias. Well, part of this is true — there is a media bias, but it’s a class bias. The political media in America, in terms of income and status, is much closer to the people it covers than the people it is supposed to inform, and this frames what the acceptable discourse on the multitude of political chatfests is.

Thus, we are hearing about the debt, deficit, and fiscal cliff as if it is Apocalypse Now for the U.S. and it means we have to cut social services for people who are already suffering — because everyone must suffer more.

Why Did Mitt Romney Lose The Presidency? (by Mark Stothard)

General David Petraeus's Rules For Living

I swear, resigning one’s post as CIA director because you had an affair with your biographer just five days after she wrote this piece for Newsweek about your “rules for living” that is now riddled with unintentional comedy and double entendre that it probably puts the entire staff of The Onion in a headlock and makes them cry Uncle. I mean, how can “Stay fit to fight. Your body is your ulti­mate weapons system. Physical fitness for your body is essential for mental fitness” be anything other than a great joke now?

A short note on why Newsweek going digital-only was expected, yet still bad for our media landscape in general.

The badness has nothing to do with financial viability. It’s clear that the Web has made receiving summaries of the news that was a week later an absurd luxury and Newsweek’s subscription and circulation numbers have reflected that — no matter how many stupid cover stunts Tina Brown came up with.

But the decision is bad for the overall media marketplace because all this talk of going digital presumes that we are all wired to the web in the same way. Yes, access to the mobile web is expanding through the availability of lower-cost smartphones, pre-paid data plans, etc. — but there’s still a digital divide to observe if one is lower middle-class or poor. If journalistic work is going to be hidden behind a monthly pay wall instead of available at the news stand for a few bucks, who gets access to journalism and who becomes the target market for said journalism?

What I’m trying to imply here is that the rushing of traditional print publications into reduced print schedules or the abandoning of print schedules is likely to result in journalism swinging harder to appeal to the people who can afford to access it — meaning fewer articles asking about poverty, the safety net for those who really need it, less on labor and its declining worth, more geared toward the owners of businesses or those aspiring to own or manage. This is what we fear with newspapers potentially reducing their schedules (or actually doing so, in the case of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.)

In short: this is journalism heading for a path where it reassures the comfortable and either ignores or “others” the afflicted.

Rick Santorum: Conservatives Will "Never Have The Elite, Smart People On Our Side" - BuzzFeed

Santorum means this as a put-down. He’s trying to use “smart” as an insult combined with elite. But combined with his prior remarks about President Obama being a snob because he wants people to be able to go to college, he’s revealed a whole lot about himself and certain aspects of the conservative movement.

Not that smart people are immune from doing stupid things and good governance isn’t all about where you went to college — but intelligence as a perceived negative ought to have no place in an advanced society. You can celebrate intelligence and education without pissing on people who don’t have a B.A.

There are many ways to be smart.

(The real topper here is that Santorum actually is kind of on to something, but in the wrong way: there is an elite in the media that does relate more to the people they cover in D.C. and other state capitals than the people they are ostensibly supposed to be reporting for. The problem is that for many politicians — on both sides, but mostly GOPers — this “elite” is conflated with “liberal” or, in recent years the “RINO” phenomenon. Thus “elite” = “smart” = THEM, and intelligence becomes a pejorative.)


I’m not sure how I missed this last night but it’s the best thing I’ve seen all week.


It’s good. If you’re not aware, @mysecondempire is Esquire writer and ESPN back page columnist Chris Jones and Tommy Craggs is the editor-in-chief of Deadspin. It did seem rather one-sided; all Jones gave Scocca in response was a snarky “+1”

Writer beef is such petty ante shit but it’s amusing.


The power of media criticism: A play in two acts.

UPDATE: It’s there. And it’s spectacular. 

Oh dear. There are so many choice passages here, but I’ll cite this one:

It is time for Mitt Romney to get in touch with his inner rich guy.

Some Occupy Wall Street types, believing it to be the height of wit, have begun to spell Romney’s name “Rmoney.” But Romney can do better than that — put it in all caps: R-MONEY. Jay-Z can keep his puny little lowercase letters and the Maybach: R-MONEY doesn’t own a flashy car with rims, R-MONEY does billion-dollar deals with Keystone Automotive and Delphi. You want to make it rain? R-MONEY is going to make it storm, like biblical. Rappers boast about their fat stacks: R-MONEY’s fat stacks live in a beachfront house of their own in the Hamptons, and the bricks in that house are made from tightly bound hundred-dollar bills. You have a ton of money? R-MONEY has 200 metric tons of money if he decides to keep it in cash.

So we have R-MONEY and now we just need a faux-rap handle for Paul Ryan.

There’s some real irony in Newsweek’s handling of all of this. Ferguson was not truthful in his article. Instead of his editors calling him on it, and noting it for the public, they lent him their website to double down on his dishonesty. And then to defend the initial error, the magazine cited current trends. I’m not convinced this actually is the trend. I’d be shocked if Esquire, GQ, ESPN, Elle, Marie Claire etc. didn’t fact-check their features. It would be a really bad idea for us to adopt the book publishing world’s culture of passing the buck.

In Praise of Fact-Checkers - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

From my own experience on Newsweek’s Website: We didn’t have fact checkers, for reasons of timeliness as well as budgets. What we did have is a) an expectation from the writers that they would be honest and factual in their reporting and b) an expectation that the Website editors wouldn’t let outrageous bullshit through the system. 

In the Ferguson story, Newsweek clearly fell down on both accounts. But I am certain this isn’t the norm, for them or for other media orgs. 

(via markcoatney)

This is a major, major problem.

If budget concerns at a purported journalistic source with some respect behind its name (whether in print or on the web) result in it not having fact checkers working for any end it publishes content on, it might as well cease to publish for all the good it will do.

You cannot rely solely on the honor of the people who write the material you publish. That is why copy editors exist; that is why researchers existed. Someone has to look over it with some manner of critical eye, from the basest feature or silliest TV news story to the most important, Pulitzer-winning print series.

If you can’t afford some manner of fact-checking, hang it up and call it a day.

(via markcoatney)

A week later, post-Paul Ryan, Oak Creek has largely receded from public consciousness, along with the important policy issues it raises. There will be little debate about claims that the Department of Homeland Security has understaffed its analysis of domestic counterrorism in response to political pressure. There will also be little attention to the accusation that the military has repeatedly been willing to accept white supremacists in its ranks. Representative Peter King will continue to hold hearings about the threat posed to America by Islamic extremism while refusing to investigate domestic right-wing groups, even though right-wing groups are more worrisome by any systematic measure. In the end, the events of Oak Creek are tragic on at least two levels. There is the tragedy inherent in the brutal murders, the heroic sacrifices, the anguished waiting, and the grief of relatives whose lives will never be the same. But there is also the larger one of our inability to understand this attack as an assault upon the American dream and therefore a threat to us all. The cost of this second tragedy is one that the entire nation will bear.

Naunihal Singh, writing in The New Yorker, on how quickly Oak Creek, Wisconsin has faded from the public consciousness and how awful that truly is.



Committing Acts of Journalism

Via the Huffington Post:

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien did something which is extremely rare in television news these days: she actually did her job…

…The action took place Tuesday afternoon, as O’Brien was interviewing former New Hampshire governor and George W. Bush Chief of Staff John Sununu. With the actual documents in hand, O’Brien pointed out the striking similarities between the Medicare plans of Mitt Romney and his controversial vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan, who seeks to change the government guaranteed health care program into a voucher system.

“But it’s very different,” Sununu insisted. “For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there, the Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.”

O’Brien essentially accused him of lying:

“I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I’ve heard it repeated over and over again. These numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office. … I can tell you what it says. It (Obama’s Medicare plan) cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly. Benefits will be improved.”

At this point Sununu, clearly agitated, became nasty and indignant, angered by O’Brien’s insistence on fact over fiction:

“Soledad, stop this!” Sununu replied, raising his voice. “All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there.”

O’Brien continued reading from the Romney and Obama plans verbatim, and cited, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and CNN’s own independent analysis in refuting Sununu’s deceptive rhetoric.

Read through for the rest of the exchange. The video’s available as well.

Acts of journalism is exactly what Sarah Palin likes to call “lamestream media.” 

More of this please, no matter what party gets pissed off. Being prepared to hold your interview subjects to the things they say ought to be job #1.

Lame Fareed Zakaria defenses show confused, debased state of journalism -

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik takes down both Fareed Zakaria’s plagiarism and the lame excuses David Frum puts forth for him — Frum implied it’s not a regular practice to cite where you got a quote from if you didn’t get it yourself, when the opposite is true and should be heeded at all times.

(via @maura)

EDIT: Here’s one of the few times comments are valuable, as it turns out Zurawik’s “ethics” may be selective. He apparently pilloried public radio host Lisa Simeone, who was fired from her opera show when NPR (who merely distributed and did not employ Simeone) fired her for attending an Occupy rally.

Here’s Simeone’s comment:

Lisa Simeone at 6:28 AM August 13, 2012

David Zurawik makes much of his integrity and “ethics.” Yet he doesn’t seem to see a conflict of interest in the fact that journalists take payola from the corporations they report on.

He sided with NPR while they blacklisted me last year over my political activities, even though I wasn’t an NPR employee, wasn’t paid by NPR, and didn’t even cover politics.

Yet he uttered not a peep about the fact that NPR’s Scott Simon writes pro-war op-eds and then goes on to “report” on those wars; that Cokie Roberts (and other NPR reporters) accept enormous speaking fees from corporations, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a pop; that Mara Liasson flaks for Fox News while still “reporting” for NPR. And now we learn that Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money is also apparently taking payola from the corporations he purports to cover. 

(Oh, and never mind that Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Garrison Keillor, all on major public radio shows, openly advocate for political candidates.)

Yet is Mr. Zurawik bothered about any of these conflicts of interest?

It must be nice to have such convenient “ethics.”

Judge for yourself.

Stop the Presses: The Oregonian may not be a daily newspaper much longer - Willamette Week

The O is owned by Advance Publications, which if you’ve been paying attention, is the same owner that’s decided to turn the New Orleans Times-Picayune into a three-day a week paper come this fall.

I am not bent out of shape about newspapers going to three days a week so much as I am corporate cutting newsroom jobs as part of it. You cannot cut reporting experience and staff and expect to have the same quality in an online product. Also, Advance’s web templates are horrible. OregonLive went from overcrowded but okay to clumsy and blocky — good luck finding breaking news on its front page.

Unrelated: LOL at the chair of the MultCo Republican Party in the comments crying about media bias. The problem with print and TV media is not that they don’t have a countervailing viewpoint — it’s that they bend over backward to be the Viewpoint from Nowhere. The answer to bias is not to add different political viewpoints as a quota; it’s to hire people who can show their work, develop conclusions, find the truth, and tell the readers/viewers who is lying/spinning and why with the proof laid out for all to see. Whether your views are liberal or conservative ought to be irrelevant to that process. In fact, being stringent and stubborn about said political views in that light would actually be a hindrance. Good practices of journalism and writing ought to make the writer and editor think as much as it does the reader, if not more.

Fixed. theme by Andrew McCarthy