libera voce/libera mente

"free voice, free mind"

Friday, October 31, 2008

'Very Dangerous Game'

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer," because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.

Platonic Objectivity

There's always been bias in the media. Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored. But we are supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible.

That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can't achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty -- especially in ourselves.

This Campaign

Nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.

Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press.

I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

Coverage of the Other Side

What I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

'Absolute Nadir'

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber.

Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

Why Are They Doing This?

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country.

Michael S. Malone is a fourth-generation newspaperman. His great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kansas, during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian). His hard-living -- and when he knew her, scary -- grandmother was one of the first women reporters for the Los Angeles Times. His father, though profoundly dyslexic, followed a long career in intelligence to finish his life (thanks to word processors and spellcheckers) as a very successful freelance writer. He's spent 30 years in every part of journalism, from beat reporter to magazine editor. And his oldest son, following in the family business, so to speak, earned his first national byline before he earned his drivers license.

From "Media's Presidential Bias and Decline" by Michael S. Malone, Oct. 24, 2008. Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Hoax'

"Never before in our history have we had a candidate with such a lack of accomplishments and a lack of transparency into his background and associates:
  • We can't see his records from prep school, Occidental College, Columbia University or Harvard. What was his thesis?

  • Was he born in Hawaii or Kenya? Did he become an Indonesian citizen? If so, he would have had to give up his U.S. citizenship.

  • Was he then naturalized as a U.S. citizen when he returned to Hawaii from Indonesia?
If John McCain had . .
  • a 15-year relationship with the former unrepentant Weather Underground domestic terrorist, Pentagon bomber, flag-stomping radical leftist communist fugitive William Ayers and his accomplice wife Bernadine Dohrn

  • worked as a community organizer for the 'Industrial Area Foundation,' an organization founded by the Marxist radical agitator Saul Alinsky using his training manual 'Rules for Radicals'

  • been associated with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and considered him to be his 'moral compass', not to mention nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan

. . his judgment would be trashed, he could not have made it through the primaries, and he would be condemned as a racist."

Adapted from "Obama, the hoax" by James Lyons, October 29, 2008.

Big Boy


From "4 National GDPs as US Regions" The Big Picture, May 15, 2008.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Over the Head'

"The press knows who the press is for, and it isn't generally the one to the right. This has been true all my life. What has also been true is that the Republican had to get around it with the truth of his stands, the force of his arguments, the un-ignorability of his words, the power of his presence. You have to go over the head of the interpreters and gently seize the country by its lapels."
From "43% Isn't Nothing: Obama looks like a winner, but it's not over yet" by Peggy Noonan, October 24, 2008.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'Are You Joking?'

ORLANDO, FLORIDA--WFTV-Channel 9's Barbara West conducted a satellite interview with Sen. Joe Biden on Thursday. West wondered about Sen. Barack Obama's comment, to Joe the Plumber, about spreading the wealth. She quoted Karl Marx and asked how Obama isn't being a Marxist with the "spreading the wealth" comment.

"Are you joking?" said Biden, who is Obama's running mate. "No," West said.

West later asked Biden about his comments that Obama could be tested early on as president. She wondered if the Delaware senator was saying America's days as the world's leading power were over.

"I don't know who's writing your questions," Biden shot back.

Biden so disliked West's line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate's wife.
"This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election."
wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.

From "Obama campaign cuts off WFTV after interview with Joe Biden" posted October 24, 2008.

National Economies as U.S. States


From "Countries GDP as US States" The Big Picture, January 15, 2007. Source and year not noted. U.K., Japan, Germany, China, and Italy omitted due to size.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank God for Big Oil

"Oil Companies Paid More Than Bottom 75% of Taxpayers"

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain Endorsement

"There's just no comparison. Obama's own running mate warned this week that Obama's youth and inexperience will invite a crisis -- indeed a crisis 'generated' precisely to test him. Can you be serious about national security and vote on Nov. 4 to invite that test?"
From "McCain for President" by Charles Krauthammer, October 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

'Most Heroic'

"Mr. McCain has an unambiguous duty to the nation to force the public to at least be informed as to the nature and character of Barack Obama. He needs to lay out all the accurate available information on Mr. Obama's prior alliances, affiliations and conduct both for the purpose of revealing Mr. Obama's character and his radical policy disposition . . As courageous as Mr. McCain's life has been to date, the next three weeks may be his most heroic."
From "McCain's next call: Win with questionable dignity" by Tony Blankley, October 15, 2008.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

'Moral Obligation'

"Catholics have a moral obligation to withhold their vote from Barack Obama. It's people who are wishy-washy about their faith that would vote for Obama. How can you be a Catholic and vote for Obama? You can't honestly do it. I don't buy it for a second."
Pat Stanton, whose father founded Pro-Life Union of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Global Cooling

"Four scientists: Global Warming Out, Global Cooling In"

Monday, October 20, 2008

'That Real Scary Dude'

"It kind of really sucks as a conservative anymore in this presidential election because it basically comes down to who I'm more afraid of if they win. In that case, I'm definitely more scared of Obama because he's a scary dude. I'd actually vote for Sarah Palin because she's a conservative. McCain is kinda scary to, but definitely not as bad as Bay-Rock Obama, so I guess I'm not going to be voting for that real scary dude."
THE RANT, October 14-20, 2008, C-ville Weekly

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Ways to Win in the Electoral College'

Road to 270
Electoral College Calculator

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Am Voting for the Chick

Hatched by Tom Sheets who owns Blue Ridge Lumber in Fishersville, Virginia, now popular throughout the region.

Monday, October 13, 2008

'Polite Society'

"Had any white presidential candidate had a close 20-year association with a white preacher overtly spreading race hatred from the pulpit, that candidate would have been not just universally denounced and deemed unfit for office but written out of polite society entirely."
From "Obama & Friends: Judge Not?" by Charles Krauthammer, October 10, 2008.

Friday, October 10, 2008

'Dangerous'

“I know them well and I can assure you that no pitbull, no dog, nor any other animal for that matter is as dangerous as you are.”
Bridget Bardot in a letter to Sarah Palin on her depiction of herself as a pitbull wearing lipstick.

'Hysterical Emotionalism'

"The hysterical emotionalism and eruptions of amoral malice at the arrival of Sarah Palin exposed the weaknesses and limitations of current feminism. But I am convinced that Palin's bracing mix of male and female voices, as well as her grounding in frontier grit and audacity, will prove to be a galvanizing influence on aspiring Democratic women politicians too, from the municipal level on up. Palin has shown a brand-new way of defining female ambition -- without losing femininity, spontaneity or humor . . she's pugnacious and self-created, the product of no educational or political elite -- which is why her outsider style has been so hard for media lemmings to comprehend."
From "Nobody's dummy: Liberals underestimate Sarah Palin's vitality and -- yes -- smarts at their own peril." by Camille Paglia, October 8, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

'Nothing Personal'

"Sarah Palin can't come to my party. Sarah Palin can't come to my show. It's nothing personal."
From "Madonna: Sarah Palin Isn't Welcome On Tour: The singer is rocking a private party . . ." by Laura Elias, 07th Oct 2008.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You Betcha!

". . the affable, tough, determined pit-bull-hockey mom presented to the GOP convention was back with a jaw-jutting, happy-warrior vengeance."
From "Sarah Palin's Bridge to Somewhere" by Kathleen Parker on October 4, 2008.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

'Everything She Stands For'

"I've been following her religiously. I had never heard of her before, like everyone else. I find her bizarrely fascinating, even though I pretty much despise everything she stands for."
Man who painted nude rendition of Sarah Palin for his wife's bar in Chicago.
From "Sarah Palin gets painted in full, and nothing's conservative about it: North Side tavern hangs nude portrait" by Emma Graves Fitzsimmons, September 30, 2008.