Entries Tagged as 'journalism'

FrumForum Wins The Midnight

October 5th, 2011 at 11:09 am 10 Comments

Politico claims that their reporting Wins the Morning. But when it comes to writing pieces about whether Sarah Palin will run for President, ambulance its clear that FrumForum Wins the Midnight.

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Perry: Media Bubble Boy

September 30th, 2011 at 12:13 am 27 Comments

Texas Governor Rick Perry has had a tough week politically because of his weak performance at the last GOP presidential debate. He’s had to backtrack from comments he made and his standing in the polls has taken a hit. There’s been a lot of commentary regarding why Perry hasn’t done as well as he and his supporters have hoped.

While there are many factors underlying this issue, I’d suggest one reason for Perry’s lackluster performance is because he hasn’t faced direct, sharp questioning for much of his political career and he’s functioned in something of a bubble for quite some time. Right now, his policies and background are being scrutinized to a degree he isn’t accustomed to.

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The EPA is Not Insane

September 29th, 2011 at 2:35 pm 18 Comments

The Obama White House is many things—flailing as it fishtails from an adult-in-the-room pose to screaming populism; cack-handed, as it both infuriates its base and loses independents; and passive to the point of paralysis, as Chris Christie pointed out in his Reagan Library speech.

The Obama White House, however, is not insane.

The Daily Caller’s breathtaking insistence, with a gratuitously crude reference to a TV wardrobe malfunction, that a what-if scenario painted in an EPA court brief (as an undesirable outcome) is a real proposal doesn’t have a whiff of plausibility.

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What Did Murdoch Know?

David Frum July 17th, 2011 at 9:25 am 67 Comments

A friend asks: Do I believe that Rupert Murdoch knew about the phone-hacking by News International. I answered that “knowing” is a very elastic concept.

If a lawyer tells a CEO, “If your company does X bad thing and you don’t know about it, you can go to jail,” why then he’ll take steps to know.

If a laywer says, “If such a bad thing does happen, and we can prove that you didn’t know, then you don’t go to jail,” he’ll find ways not to know.

So my guess is that it will be settled that Rupert Murdoch didn’t “know.”

Not so sure about James Murdoch, however.

Is this Evidence that Pakistan Threatens Journalists?

David Frum July 5th, 2011 at 8:38 am 2 Comments

When Pakistani journalists decline “for fear of reprisals” to comment on allegations that they have been threatened by the state security services, doesn’t that strongly suggest that the allegations are true?

Bearing False Witness

David Frum June 28th, 2011 at 8:50 am Comments Off

British journalist Johann Hari has been credibly accused of falsifying his reporting.

First a left-wing blogger offered evidence that Hari had borrowed an interview conducted by somebody else with Italian communist Antonio Negri, and then presented the quotations as responses to his own questioning.
Then evidence began to appear that Hari had used this same technique on other occasions too, taking quotations from the written record and presenting them as the product of his own questioning.
Hari’s self-defense (offered on Twitter) is not exactly compelling:
When interviewing a writer for a 6000-word profile, accurately quoting their writing is not “plagiarism” or “cut & paste journalism”
That’s true enough. But when the quotes are prefaced with “I meet [interview subject] at a hotel bar in Scotland …” and individually introduced with verbal cues like “with a shake of the head” even accurate quotations can be used to create a false representation: not of what the interview subject said, but of what the interviewer did. In such a case, the story would be a lie even if the component parts were true.

Reporter Gets Payback on Weiner

June 6th, 2011 at 11:47 pm 13 Comments

I noticed an interesting little detail regarding Andrew Breitbart’s impromptu introductory remarks at Rep. Anthony Weiner’s press conference.  According to Politico:

Breitbart went unnoticed by the huge media throng until a Politico and New York Observer reporter approached him, and tweeted about it. Word spread that he was on the premises, and the cameramen quickly rushed over, surrounding him by a side door.  Weiner had yet to arrive.  “Andrew, would you go to the podium?” WCBS reporter Marcia Kramer, who just days earlier was threatened with arrest when she staked out Weiner’s congressional office in Washington, asked.  After a few requests, he agreed.

So, if this story is correct, the reporter that Rep. Weiner’s staff allegedly called the police on was the person who asked Breitbart to come onstage and get some free national airtime.  Perhaps revenge is a dish best served… somewhat warm?

A Great Moment in Punditry

David Frum June 1st, 2011 at 10:26 pm 40 Comments

Here’s a great moment in punditry, published one year ago to the day, that should not be quietly forgotten. It’s Peter Ferrara writing in the American Spectator, June 2, 2010.

Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being reelected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for reelection.

I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012.

That’s the same Peter Ferrara by the way who claimed in National Review in September 2001 that “there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan.”


Can Romney Win Without Fox News?

David Frum May 23rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm 87 Comments

Three take-aways from Gabriel Sherman’s important piece on Fox News and the GOP in New York mag:

1) What Republicans have been producing since January 2009 is a television program, not a political opposition. No rational opposition would have nailed its colors to the mast on the predictably unpopular Ryan budget without the votes to pass it. No rational opposition would have staked everything on defeating Obamacare without the votes to stop it. And no rational opposition would have showcased Michelle Bachmann, Donald Trump, and Newt Gingrich as party leaders. As reckless as these actions were in political terms, they make sense in programming terms. And when the de facto head of your party earns his living as a TV executive – and his most important deputy is a talk-radio host – this is what you get: three years of policy nihilism, three years of repeated self-outmaneuvering on the floor of Congress, and now a presidential campaign that seems intent on identifying the GOP with candidates who repel the voters the GOP most needs to win.

2) According to Sherman, Ailes understands and regrets what he’s done to the GOP. That’s why he shut down Glenn Beck. Why he talks regularly to President George HW Bush. Why Fox’s coverage of Sarah Palin has become noticeably less worshipful since the Tucson shooting. Now Ailes is hunting for a more plausible presidential candidate. Yet his programming instincts over-ride everything. On talk radio and cable TV, confrontation sells. If you are imbued with that idea, it’s hard to resist the thought that confrontation will work in politics too, and that NJ Governor Chris Christie must therefore be the solution. The Ailes mind may be able to think the thought that the GOP needs a softer face. But the Ailes programming instinct cannot accept the thought.

3) Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has been plugging along, off-camera, raising money, building support among business leaders and county party chairs. He has been the unspoken target of Fox’s media campaign since 2009. Romney gets scant attention in the Sherman story, except as an example of a candidate whom Ailes finds “not compelling.” Yet by any conventional definition, Romney is the Republican front-runner. Presumably he has been working hard to woo Ailes, and unsuccessfully. Ailes remains unreconciled. If Ailes throws Fox beyond a credible opponent, say  Tim Pawlenty, Ailes becomes Romney’s most lethal and important enemy. How Romney handles Ailes will tell a lot about whether he has the cunning and the toughness to be a successful president.


Americans Tuning Out Climate Change

May 22nd, 2011 at 2:19 pm 24 Comments

According to a recent Gallup poll, thumb Americans are less concerned about climate change than in the past.  Has the environmental movement dropped the ball on keeping the issue in the public eye?

The poll reports:

Americans continue to express less concern about global warming than they have in the past, generic with 51% saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about the problem — although attitudes appear to have stabilized compared with last year. That current level of worry compares with 66% just three years ago, mind and is only one percentage point higher than the low Gallup measured in 1997.

There are any number of theories that explain why Americans seem less interested in this issue now than they were in the days when Al Gore told inconvenient truths. Perhaps the protracted recession has pushed all other concerns from the minds of most Americans. Perhaps the effort by the conservative/libertarian pundit class to add doubt and scorn to the political environment surrounding this issue has had an effect.

Or, perhaps, it’s because there is no sustained media effort by the environmental movement to keep its ideas in the political forefront. Gore’s movie helped to push the conversation in the eco-conscious direction, but it obviously wasn’t enough.

We simply do not have an ideologically focused green media in the United States. The environmental movement is at risk of dying out in this country if eco-conscious people don’t borrow a few tactics from their adversaries in the conservative/libertarian pundit class.

The critics of today’s environmental movement are sustained by a conservative media apparatus specifically created to keep the right’s ideas in perpetual prominence. Conservatives had a compelling interest in building this media empire, as they believed their contenders were too often getting adverse rulings from biased referees in the arena of ideas.

It’s not enough to complain about this conservative media apparatus, to attack it for peddling misinformation about climate science, to denounce it for its smears of those concerned about this issue. Why not replicate the right’s tactics? Why not work to build up an environmental media apparatus geared to promoting green policy initiatives and obtaining specific political outcomes?

Clearly, environmentalists can no longer rely upon the mainstream media to devote sufficient time to these issues. As economist Bruce Bartlett noted in 2009:

[The mainstream press] no longer has the resources to pay reporters to look into things deeply and write about issues authoritatively. Reporters even at the best newspapers often seem like glorified bloggers who get their basic facts from the Internet instead of their own research, substitute speed for thoroughness and accuracy, and have no time to become experts on the subjects they cover because they are covering the waterfront. And since television news has always depended upon newspapers as their basic sources of material, the decline of newspaper reporting led inevitably to a decline in television reporting.

Bartlett was speaking of progressives generally, not environmentalists specifically, when he noted, “I think they need to abandon the mainstream media and create their own alternative media just as conservatives have done. That will help redress the imbalance that now exists in the media which benefits conservatives.” However, his advice is critical for environmentalists in particular.

No movement can survive for long if its core issues are not constantly reinforced in the American political conscience. Conservatives understand this: it’s why we have right-leaning think tanks, pro-Republican publications, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News. These entities may be a source of irritation for environmentalists—but why can’t they be a source of inspiration?

It’s long past time for the environmental movement to focus on its own political sustainability—to push for nationally syndicated commercial radio shows dealing with green issues, to lobby for wider distribution of documentaries on our planet’s peril, to subject the hardcore climate deniers to the same sort of public rebuke Van Jones was subjected to in 2009, to convert the environmental movement into an interest group that politicians from both parties are profoundly reluctant to antagonize.

Americans’ decreasing concern for green issues should increase the motivation of environmentalists to press harder to integrate their concerns into the national discourse. After President Lyndon Johnson destroyed Senator Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, it seemed that Americans weren’t interested in conservatism either. The outcome of that election galvanized the American right, which spent the next four decades working to ensure that the products from their idea factories were always on the average American’s shopping list.

The green movement needs to study what worked for the conservative movement, and use those same tactics to regain the political momentum they’ve lost. Of course, environmentalists have to move much faster than conservatives did decades ago. With the physical and political climate deteriorating, environmentalists must make the ironic choice to turn up the heat.