Thursday, February 21, 2008

Times Select

The political news has been dominated by the NYT story examining John McCain's possible relationship with a female lobbyist eight years ago. The AP describes McCain denouncing the story as a "hit and smear campaign" while the Times "stood its ground." Conservative pundits have of course noticed how selective the Times is when reporting on the decade-old possible affairs of political figures based on circumstantial evidence. But why should the public expect fairness and even-handedness from the NYT?

Any reader who picks up the Independent or the Guardian has no illusions about the "fairness" of those newspapers. They are out and out shills for a certain point of view and therefore anything contained therein is mentally adjusted accordingly. Some publications in America make no attempt to hide their ideological point of view. The National Review, for example, describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for Republican/conservative news, commentary, and opinion." If you want liberal opinion, go elsewhere; and if the NYT described itself as 'America's flagship publication for liberal causes and the Democratic Party' nobody would be shocked if it ran a "hit and smear campaign" on John McCain. We would expect it to ignore any scandal to do with William Jefferson Clinton. We would expect it to be the biased publication that it is.

Much of the outrage comes from the fact that the NYT pretends to be the 'newspaper of record'; that it prints all the news that's fit to print; is somehow a pre-eminent member of that unelected fourth branch of government, the Mainstream Media instead of being what it really is: partisan for a certain point of view.

And what's wrong with partisanship so long as it's announced on the masthead the way cans of Drano are labeled as containing corrosives?

The sooner newspapers and networks are freed from the need to appear "fair" the freer the press will become. Then both conservatives and liberal can get up on their soapboxes under the full moon and howl for blood and gristle.

Of course this transformation must come at the price of admitting that journalism isn't the high-minded profession depicted in All the President's Men: that it's a job as sordid and as noble as any other; or rather it is only as noble and fair as the individual journalist makes it.

Thus the question of whether John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist eight years ago comes to two things: is the NYT telling the truth today? And if so, would I care?

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Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Jonah Goldberg comments on this notion of an "objective press" from time to time.

The idea of an objective press came with the rise of a national media and fact that the cost of entering into national media was steep. To setup and run a large printing press, to setup and run a national distribution network etc are something just anyone can do (even if they have the capital). Just like mass produced beer (whether it comes from Soviet Canuckistan, Ozz, or the US) it has to appeal to the largest market segment to keep itself going.

However, the rise of the Internet has greatly reduced the cost of entering the media game and some guy sitting in a messy office in Appleton WI can have a worldwide readership without much cost.

So publications with a unique point of view that could not support themselves in a traditional and expensive media market can now publish and geographic boundaries are pretty much erased (however, certain governments are working to erect boundaries on the Internet).

Media companies now have a cheaper mode to publish and can now fit into niches they used to be too big to fit into.

As far as papers like the NYT attempting to cast themselves as objective, its called atmosphere. Critters living at the bottom of the ocean think tons of PSI on their bodies is normal too.

2/21/2008 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

It seems the real scandal was the lobbyist was saying she had McCain's ear and could get things done. This ran against Mr. Straight Talk Express in 2000 so she had to go.

And his aides made her gone. McCain actually listened to them.

That was the "real" scandal it appears. Not sex but influence/money. And McCain at least listened to his aides. Probably more a function of the Senate than the Executive. Aides run the Senate, like Law Clerks the Supreme Court.

2/21/2008 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

NRO had a lot to say about all of this today. The upshot is the lobbyist was bragging/puffing up her ability to influence Senator McCain, after all this is how they make their money, trying to convince legislators to vote in a given way.

However, the NYT has suggested sex & corruption and now it will become an "Oh yeah, prove it didn't happen".

2/21/2008 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Once again we have an example of overreach by Pinch Sulzberger's minions. Somebody needs to inform Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism that "advocacy journalism" is ethically complicated stuff, and that it is best for the entire profession that it be practiced rarely and very carefully.

2/21/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger MEANA55 said...

RE: All the President's Men

Wasn't that whole high-minded journalism lie shattered when Mark Felt outed himself as Deep Throat and revealed Woodward and Bernstein to be nothing more than a pair of low-rent stenographers who made their names taking dictation from a disloyal crybaby disgruntled about being passed-over for promotion?

I guess the parking garage meetings and flower pot & newspaper signals were the exciting dramatic stand-ins for when Felt used to chase Woodward and Bernstein around his office and make them sit in his lap while he spun his tales.

Filthy animals.

2/21/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger peterike said...

The truth or falsity of the story don't matter. The Times did what it intended to do: it released the meme into the atmosphere, like a virus.

Look at how Yahoo headlines articles about this.

"Cindy Mccain, like others, stands by man."

"McCain denies romantic ties with lobbyist."

"McCain: I didn't have sex with that woman!"

"McCain denies report of inappropriate relationship: calls it a smear."

Millions won't know more than the headline. This will be taken the same way the stories about Bush doing cocaine were taken. A certain element will just believe it because they want to, and it will be gospel with them. By next week snarky Leftist yuppies will be making cracks to one another about McCains affair, and they will all believe it to be a fact. This is how it works.

McCain can deny it all he likes, it's too late.

The one upside I see to this (and I'm stretching perhaps out of desperation) is that McCain will be so jarred by the MSM turning its knives on him (though he's probably the only sentient person in America who will be surprised by it) that he will shift away from his more liberal positions which he probably doesn't really believe anyway.

He seems a vain man, and one who loves the fawning attention he's received from the MSM as their favorite "maverick." He's been their go-to guy for so long he's come to believe his own myth. I really can't see how a guy like McCain -- just given who he is -- can actually think mass amnesty for illegals is a good idea for the country. It's a good idea to get his name in the papers favorably. When he learns that his "friends" were always actually his enemies, he may turn some of his famous wrath on them and their pet causes.

One can only hope.

2/21/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

what difference does it make if he did "lust in his heart"? Jimmy Carter already admitted to doing that, too, years ago, and as long as there's no hanky-panky with cigars, I just don't see the American electorate getting that het up about a plane ride or two.

At least the NYT isn't trying to fob off some forged letters claiming that they prove an affair, like Dan Rather and CBS did with Bush's military service.

2/21/2008 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

I have a vision of the utterly scrupulous and high-minded journalists at the New York Times checking out the reaction to this day's work.

"Well, Chad, nobody seems to care that we put out this totally undocumented smear. Bill "I-have-no-moral-compass-just-a moral-weathervane" Keller didn't have the huevos to publish this pack of sleazy allegations *last time* McClain was running for Pres, but even *HE's* with us this time."

"Buffy, you stupid slut. McClain was the guy in Die Hard!"

2/21/2008 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

They endorsed him, now they trash him.
Timing is everything.
TNR: Behind the Bombshell in 'The New York Times.'

2/22/2008 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One of the fine folks here at the Belmont Club reminded us a little while back that Senator Obama added the Senator to his name by releasing court records on salacious details of his opponent’s divorce proceedings – against the wishes of not only the incumbent but his divorced movie star wife as well. The parallels are obvious.

MEANA55: “All the President’s Men” was revealed to be a sham when the REAL book on the Nixon resignation came out: “Silent Coup.” Everyone should take a look at it. In fact, the Wash Post sued the writers of “Silent Coup” for daring to prove that their treasured work was largely a fabrication.

2/22/2008 04:49:00 AM  

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