NPR Under Fire For Not Accepting Bush Choice Williams As Interviewer

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A journalistic brouhaha has broken out — one that would never have arisen just a few years ago. Slowly, yet inexorably, a basic journalistic tenet has been weakened…but not destroyed.

At issue: whether NPR showed political bias, arrogance, rudeness or professional stupidity in not agreeing to run an interview with President George Bush if the condition was that Bush was allowed to select the interviewer, who in this case would have been Juan Williams.

Crooks and Liars has THIS view of the incident. And Patterico’s Pontifications offers a different one.

Partisans of both sides may not quite agree (when they see an interview conducted by a hostile reporter) but here is a fact of media life:

As any working journalist, editor or journalism professor will attest, news interview subjects are not generally allowed to select the people who will interview them. It is NOT done and for a good reason.

Any news source (including me when I’m on the road and get interviewed) would always love to have a reporter that they know will not just do a good job but be sympathetic to them and their message. That’s human nature.

But it is a FACT that none of the many editors for whom I wrote overseas from India and Spain in the 1970s, and none of the Knight-Ridder editors I worked for in the early 1980s and none of the editors I worked for at Copley Press’ San Diego Union in the 1980s through 1990 would allow a news source to select the person who would write about them.

If someone ever suggested it, the immediate – and probably accurate — reaction would be that Mr. or Ms. X selected Mr. or Ms. Y because they felt they would not be as hard on them and ask them the questions a journalist selected by the news organization would ask in the journalist’s role as a proxy for the public which can’t ask those tough questions itself.

It’s more reliable, and reassuring to put your money and gamble with a stacked deck rather than with a random deck.

What has changed?

When press/White House history is written, the Bush administration will be notable for the way it successfully decided to bypass the mainstream media and all of those pesky reporters who might grill them with extremely tough, perhaps rude, and difficult questions and instead be interviewed by people it considered the “good” new media — such as Fox News. (Just what do you think those conference calls by campaigns to like-minded weblogs are all about?)

It’s notable that Vice President Dick Cheney has probably been interviewed more by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh over the years than by reporters and journalists who don’t spend their other hours of their working day bashing Democrats and boosting the GOP and the White House and urging people to vote Republican.

It came out later that Dick Cheney often picked NBC‘s Tim Russert for A REASON — because he felt his message (read that the talking points he wanted to get across) could be better communicated on Meet The Press than some other shows where perhaps the reporters might be a bit more unwieldy to handle. (In later interviews, Russert seemed to try to correct that impression, which was probably very upsetting to him a journalist).

So the issue is not whether Williams is a bad reporter or writer. He is NOT. And he was reportedly “stunned” that NPR indicated it wanted to pick its own person to interview Bush, not someone whom Bush wanted to interview Bush.

The issue is that the White House wanted to decide who would get to do the interview on NPR.

The sad part about this is that in the end Williams’ interview appeared on Fox News, which is sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy because Williams’ and the White House’s critics on the left will now utter a huge “AHA! We told you so!” A wiser course would have been for Williams to let NPR have someone else do it (after all, Bob Novak created “Crossfire” for CNN and let others become the screaming head stars).

If the White House needed a commentator to do the interview, would it have readily allowed Keith Olbermann to do it? Or Joe Scarborough? One of the 60 Minutes crew? Or progressive talker Ed Schultz? Or even a pure mainstream media anchor such as NBC‘s Brian Williams? Katie Couric, maybe?

The answers is no : the White House would have felt they were too hostile. Juan Williams, it felt, would offer it a better forum…a more comfortable, friendlier one…one in which it could more easily get its viewpoint and outright talking points across.

That’s fine and dandy, but that ain’t really looking for journalism.

It’s looking for P.R.

So perhaps it could have made things a lot easier:

It should have offered to let former White House press secretary Tony Snow do the interview for Snow’s return to Fox.

Then all of the cards — marked and unmarked — would have been on the table.

SOME OTHER COVERAGE AND VIEWS ON THIS ISSUE:

Fox News
Red State
Dan Froomkin on Bush’s Media Cherry Picking
The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz
Huffington Post: If The President Can’t Stand Up To NPR?

         

30 Comments

  1. Joe presents a fine analysis of this story. I would argue, however, that the Bush administrations suspicions of the media are not ill-grounded.

    David Schuster’s “gotcha” hit on Republican Congresswoman Blackburn over can she name the last soldier to die from her district in Iraq – a hit that blew up in his face, leading to his public apology on MSNBC yesterday – recalls a similar “gotcha” interview with Gov. Bush before 2000 in which the reporter asked Bush can he name the leader of Kazakstan etc.

    Is this journalism? How often are liberal Democrats hit with similar “gotcha” pieces on MSNBC or CBS?

    To extend Joe’s “deck” metaphor, conservatives believe the deck is stacked against them in the MSM, and that the game is fixed before they start playing.

    “Liberal bias” is NOT just a conservative fantasy. Many eminent figures in the MSM concur. See, for example, the legendary CBS producer Don Hewitt recollections of “Rathergate”:

    “Hewitt says he had questioned whether the reporting was biased at a CBS meeting convened to discuss the controversy that began to swell after the story aired. “Let me ask one question,” he recalls addressing the gathering. “If this had been John Kerry, wouldn’t you have been more careful about the story?”

    I would also point to the Bush interview with Ted Koppel before 2000, in which Koppel was particularly brutal and unfair in savaging Bush:

    “When Mr. Bush was running for president, Mr. Koppel asked then Governor Bush what qualified him to be president. Mr. Bush cited his experience as governor of Texas, his experience running the Texas Rangers baseball team, as well as the fact that he was a loving husband and father.

    Mr. Koppel replied that those qualifications would seem to be good qualifications if one were running for president of the Kiwanis Club, but not for president of the United States.”

    Of course, it could be pointed out that Bush’s qualifications clearly exceeded Clinton’s in 92…who was governor of a much smaller state with absolutely nada business experience…and absolutely nada military experience even in the national guard.

    Did Koppel or anyone in the MSM hammer Clinton with “gothca” interviews in 92? The answer is no. Instead, Clinton/Gore got glowing cover stories such as the Newsweek magazine full cover, labelling them with fawning admiration as “Young Guns”. Even his first “bimbo eruption” with Gennifer Flowers was quickly swept under the carpet.

    I would argue, to use Joe’s metaphor, that the NPR story reflects how BushCo. believes the deck was stacked against them in the MSM long before they came to Washington. After all, Bush has never given NPR an interview.

    Why play in fixed game?

  2. I’m a consumer of the same MSM as Marlowe is, and try as I might, I just don’t buy his interpretation of the situation. I spent two weeks recently, testing myself, with every nerve attuned to spotting signs of this vast ;left’ bias, but I didn’t see it. I
    I did hear prejudicial statements on cable programs, but they leaned in both directions. As a mtaater of fact, the Democrats were slapped around and ridiculed much more than the Republicans or Mr. Bush during those two weeks.

    On network news, I caught one instance were something said about Mr. Cheney should rightfully have been preceded by the adjective ‘alleged’ but wasn’t.

    It’s my opinion, that often people see what they expect to see and ignore contradiction to theri expectations.
    It’s why horoscopes come true

    I would also argue that risking having to face a hostile or confrontational interviewer should be part of the job description of a president. How she/he handles difficult situations is revealling and important for the public to know. Giving him the role of an actor in a scripted play has no more value than having his prepared remarks read by an anonymous announcer.

    The way I see it, this is about wanting to isolate the President from any situation that might reveal more than the public persona his PR team has created.
    A cartoon figure as a stand-in for our President, is not what I want to see, however. For that I can watch Toons.

  3. I look forward to the Hillary Clinton-George Will interview.

  4. Domajot, your point is well-taken. I was attempting to explain what is clearly the mindset of BushCo., and give some reasons for why they think this way.

    I would argue that bias defines the MSM. Fox tilts right, I will freely admit. However, MSNBC, CBS, ABC tilt left.

    Bias can be very subtle. Rathergate is a classic example. It was investigative journalism…but the producer Mapes (a Democrat – with close ties to senior Democrats whom she kept apprised of her investigation) had been hunting Bush for years…and her source for the documents was someone with a long-running feud with the Bush family and who had previously and publically called for the Democrats to run a “dirty tricks” campaign against Bush.

    Surely the nature of the source should have set off Red Lights at CBS? This is precisely why Hewitt – in the quote I noted above – asked his CBS colleagues would they have treated this story and source differently if it had been about Kerry.

    This said: I think your metaphor of the President as actor – in defence of the value of gotcha interview – is interesting.

    You said: “How she/he handles difficult situations is revealling and important for the public to know. Giving him the role of an actor in a scripted play has no more value…”

    Bush is a scripted actor. Clinton, on the other hand, is great at improv. Recall his indignant outrage, and waging finger: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

    To be honest, I prefer Bush in this aspect. With Bush, much as with Reagan, what you see is what you get. Clinton is charming, but utterly opaque.
    Would you want a President who could lie with such convincing righteous? I swear, you can see Bush looking shifty sometimes…Clinton never.

  5. GW said: “I look forward to the Hillary Clinton-George Will interview.”

    Good point. In Clinton’s spiking of the hostile GQ piece this week…we saw that the Bush WH is not alone in wanting favourable treatment. Arguably, leveraging access to totally kill a hostile story is worse than wanting to pick an anchor.

    Hilary isn’t Bill. She is much more like Bush. You can see her underlying nature. Her facade is very brittle…if she is hammered, the mask will crack and she will lash out.

    I await a Hilary “gotcha” interview like that of Bush in 2000, questioning Hilary about the names of the presidents of Kazakstan and Estonia…(…crickets chirping…)

  6. Isn’t picking an interviewer rather common in broadcast media as opposed to print media?

  7. Hard to think of any president as protected from tough, independent scrutiny as Bush. The constant stream of right wing only talking heads moving in and out of the white house, the special access Fox are awarded, staged events to which only loyal Bushies are permitted to attend, and yet he remains one of the most unpopular Presidents the country has ever produced, so lacking in credibility his own party cringes when he speaks out.

    At this stage I don’t think it matters who interviews him or how hard the administration tries to frame the interview. The country’s not listening to him anymore.

  8. As might be expected, I agree with Marlowe and G. Weightman on the gothchaism and bias issues.

    I still think the principle that NPR upheld was correct (though I wonder about Holly’s question too- what is the common practice? If generally there is deference given to which interviewer a person wants, then the principle is being selectively enforced).

    Basically I think that there is an element in the liberal media which tries to set up conservatives and show them in their worst light- and of course the reverse is true for Fox. But the best way to overcome that is not to try to avoid the gotcha’s- it’s to find better ways to show the viewer that the interviewer is deliberately slanting the interview. As Marlowe pointed out, some people are more skilled at improvising that- but I don’t see why those who lack that skill couldn’t script a response for the anticipated gotcha’s in most cases. It would be tough, I’m sure, to anticipate all of the specific ways that these things will come up, but what I’m suggesting is exactly what Hillary Clinton seems to be mastering (check out her interview with Chris Wallace last Sunday on Fox- she had a scripted laugh whenever he tried to put her on the spot, which clearly said, “Oh, I’m not taking that too seriously, you can’t rile me”)

  9. I’m also going to give a predictable response. Journalism has too often turned into free PR for this WH- starting with Judith Miller serving as Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney’s media mouthpiece. While they didn’t understand the complexity of the post-invasion period, they definitely understood marketing their cause through friendly media sources. The danger of speaking only to friendly interviewers is that eventually only the interviewees preferred message gets out, while all hard-hitting questions are studiously avoided out of “respect” for the subject.
    Exit the truth. Enter WH spin.

    As far as David Schuster’s “gotcha” moment- I found it refreshing and revealing. Refreshing because he was not intimidated by Rep Blackburn’s position of authority, and revealing because as it turned out, this ” staunch supporter of Petraeus and his troops” was appallingly ignorant about the latest death of a serviceman in her own district. Her only interest was in doing a hit job on two favorite targets of the GOP— Move-on and the NYT’s. For me it revealed more Republican hypocrisy about this war, which of course was Schuster’s objective.

    If she can vote to send young men and women from her district into harm’s way, shouldn’t she be expected to know something about their deaths?

  10. Kim: The proper response (again, getting back to my advice for politicians to not shy away from reporters who do this, but instead confront them on it) would have been: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that the question itself is an exploitation of the troops for political purposes.”

  11. I think the primary issue in Joe’s post here was that NPR was under fire for its stance.

    NPR takes the ethical stance.

    What one may think about other journalists and politicians in fictional future interviews seems moot.

  12. For me it revealed more Republican hypocrisy about this war, which of course was Schuster’s objective.

    And Kim, perhaps you haven’t heard “the rest of the story”? Apparently Schuster got the wrong soldier, so who’s the greater hypocrite? The Congressperson who prepared for an interview on one topic and may have neglected a responsibility to keep up with troop deaths in her district, or the ‘journalist’ who pretended that caring about the names of fallen soldiers was of utmost important but couldn’t actually be bothered with finding out the correct identity of the soldier in question?

    NRO’s mediablog nailed this one:

    A Media Blog reader who discovered this information on Newsbusters and e-mailed Shuster received this response and forwarded it to us:

    the story was about blackburn’s hypocrisy… it wouldn’t matter whether the soldier’s name was David shuster or Crazy Water. she didn’t know the name, period.
    Regards,
    D

    Who cares what the dead kid’s name is, right? The story is about Blackburn’s hypocrisy. She came on the show to denounce MoveOn.org’s “Betray Us” ad, but she didn’t know the name of the last soldier killed from her district! And that’s hypocritical, because…
    Why? Actually, that’s not hypocritical at all. Hypocrisy is saying something when in reality you believe something different. Not knowing the name of the last soldier killed from your district is, at worst, laziness, and, at best, a deer-in-the-headlights moment on national television.

    Hypocrisy is pretending to care about the death of an American soldier, when really he’s just a prop in your gimmicky audition for your own show on MSNBC.

  13. Formatting correction: The final two paragraphs in comment #13 were part of the quote from Media Blog.

  14. Bush is just afraid of the truth, like the wicked witch and H20. A real President has no fear of journalists, or at least can answer a question regardless of the source.

    Isn’t that the point of a “free press”? Whether it’s the NYT, WaPo, Real Clear Politics. the WSJ, or even the NY Post- those in Washington are answerable to all, and masters of none.
    At least that’s what I was taught in school.

    Just chalk it up to this spoiled nepotistic brat from Ct., who happens to have a house in Tay-hoss but is no Texan.

  15. Domajot said:

    “It’s my opinion, that often people see what they expect to see and ignore contradiction to theri expectations.
    It’s why horoscopes come true.”

    and you’re not alone- it’s called Confirmation Bias- that coupled with anecdotal evidence and not actual data- and you have spun sugar.

  16. If Schuster got the information wrong- then he should apologize on air for the error. But I don’t think he should apologize for asking the question.
    Ignorance of troop casualties in one’s district is inexcusable when that Congresswoman is continuously lauding her support of those troops. It shows the same disconnect between hyping support for the military, but voting against improving veterans’ benefits, which many of the GOP have also been guilty of.

    The focus on Move-on’s ad instead of Petraeus’ testimony is a bait and switch tactic of the first magnitude. Manipulating public opinion is easy- taking a determined look at conflicting data of the various reports and coming up with an endgame- not so easy.

  17. Kim,
    Would you agree that focusing on smearing Petraeus’ reputation was also bait and switch, instead of focusing on his data? Because the whole reason MoveOn’s ad became such a hot issue is that the campaign to discredit Petraeus was meant to be a distraction from the facts too. If we’re going to ask to stick to the straight analysis, fine, I’m with you: but let’s ask the people on both sides to do that.

    And from what I understand, both Blackburn and Schuster have issued on-air apologies.

  18. I already said a couple of times that I didn’t condone attacking Petraeus reputation instead of contesting the facts. But the right has kept this story alive and the corresponding one about the NYT’s undercharging them for three weeks. Are they hoping no one remembers to ask about the implications of the various reports on Iraq on future policy?

    It seems to me that lost in all the media hoopla over the ad is Bush’s stated preference for a longterm partnership aka occupation, and what that will mean in terms of casualties, cost and eventual outlook. For all those wondering about an exit plan- it turns out there is no exit plan. My guess is that Republicans hope the focus stays on Move-on and the NYT’s, especially considering that no prowar Senator is willing to discuss the war on MSNBC. If they can vote to authorize another 42 billion for the war they should be able to answer some unscripted questions from upstarts like Schuster.

  19. It’s not just Bush and the Republicans who are saying there’s no exit plan, though. In the Dem debate last night, none of the frontrunning candidates were willing to say that they’d guarantee all troops out of Iraq by 2013. So much for a quick exit, I guess.

  20. “…that there is an element in the liberal media…”
    (CStanley)

    There is an element in conservative cmmentary implanting the perception of the media as the ‘liberal media’ by simply repeating the mantra over and over again. Much like you can’t erase the direct connection from many minds between 9/11 and the Iraq war, this strategy works on many people – too many people – even on those who are the ones chanting the mantra, when it come to the ‘liberal media’

    Saying it doesn’t make it so, however.
    A lot depends on the vagaries of percetption and a lot depends on the difficulty in identifying what bias truly consists of. Challenging a subject’s statements might appear as bias to some, but I think that it is a vital part of meaningful journalism, if the session is not to become a simple self-advertisement for the interviewee. Sometimes, a confrontational approach is the only way to elicit anything but pre-chewed pronouncements by the subject.

    The perception of bias also involves presumtions about the motivation of the journalist, even while assigning motivation (mind reading) is loudly decried when it’s directed back at those who make use of the practce when talking about journslists or the ‘other’ in general.

    In essence, bias is perceived by biased observers, and we should at least acknowledge that when disucssing the subject.

    When it comes to journalists, why is it never possible that a journalist simply makes msitakes in the hurry of preparing questions and remarks? As staff are continuously reduced in number, I note a decline in the caliber of TV anchors and commentators. The ground thus prepared is perfect for increased errors of judgment. Errors can be rrrors without being partisan errors, I note.
    I caution against yelling ‘bias’ prematuely or overzealously.

    The ‘X does it, too’ argument can be seen in two ways. One way is that it’s a legimate way to provide perspective, while the other way is a means of making excuses. I insist on the two-way approach, while those making use of this are often among the first to put everything into the ‘making excuses’ bag when it worrks againt them. I think the approach is fine, as long as we just remain aware that perspective should not be an automatic passageway to excuses. Sometimes, drawing attention to like practices by others is a means of identigying what should not be tolerated on the part of anyone.

    Remember that bending over backwards to avoid accusations of bias can lead to a herd of sheep replacing journalists, and the losers will be us, the public. Remain aware, but don’t go crazy, is my advice.

    Ideally, of course, no one would be subject to bias.
    Back in the real world, though, we have to think more of keeping it within manageable limits rather than going nuts when a hint of it appears. If bias is present in statement A, we should not automatically presume that statements B – Z are false.

    When it comes to people of great power over us, my first priority is to elicit as much of the truth from than as is possible. If it takes a smidgen of bias to do it, it’s still better than swallowing the claims of power, frogs, pebbles and sand in the water included. We should always keep suspicion as part of our attitude to power ( and that’s a form of acceptable, even laudatory, bias, too.. IT;s simply a matter of keeping it check and mpt running amok with it.

  21. CS- Actually Dodd and Richardson are still promising one but you are right- they are not the frontrunners. I guess theyre leery of overpromising anything- given the backlash form the antiwar crowd after Congressional Democrats failed to get withdrawal timelines passed after the midterms.

    I will grant you that both sides have overpoliticized to the point that a rational deliberation is impossible. But overhyping the Move on ad seems more about helping the GOP’s chances in ’08 than anything else. its been a welcome distraction from focussing on a very uncertain outlook.

    I certainly don’t remember the right being as respectful of Wes Clark when he was in Kosovo. But Petraeus is treated like he’s infallible and incapable of succoming to pressure exerted by the administration.

  22. On NPR vs Bush -

    NPR took a stand based on journalistic ethics.

    Buchking power should be applauded, especially by those whose very poliitcal philosophy consists of mistrust of governernment. Is the mistrust part forsaken when we’re in tune with a particular government?

    Consistency of attitude would be greatly hepful if discussions about principles are not to become an arguementation of convenience.

    I note a lot of arguing the argument going on as a means of avoiding central issues. That’s a technique of discreditation, and says nothing about the topic at hand.

  23. Doma,
    My comment was in agreement with Marlowe, who provided some examples to back up the opinion. You don’t agree, fine, but please don’t accuse me of ‘just repeating a meme so that it becomes accepted as fact’.

    I’ll also point out that I brought out an example of Fox news doing the exact same type of gotchaism journalism- so I’m not claiming that this only happens on one side. I happen to think there’s a difference between asking tough questions and expecting answers, and setting someone up to intentionally look bad. It’s kind of funny, in fact: what Bill Clinton got ‘outraged’ at in the Fox interview was that he was invited to talk about one topic but the interviewer focused on something else (which was intended to show him in a bad light). Hmm, sounds like a familiar trick that has now been used by MSNBC against a GOP congressperson.

    I happen to think that particular style isn’t good journalism. Just as you mention that ‘even journalists can make mistakes’, I apply some degree of tolerance to mistakes by politicians. I think courtesy and good journalism would dictate that we don’t trick people into preparing to talk about one topic and then putting them on camera and switching the topic to put them on the spot.

    And as to which side is worse, I really don’t care. You say you’ve done an experiment and found that you didn’t see bias, and somehow this proves that everyone else is only seeing bias because they aren’t able to put aside their own filters. Personally, I don’t claim that I’m any better at putting aside my own biases than anyone else and I do acknowledge that we all have them. I try, and I hope others will too, but ultimately we all probably come up short.

    So rather than saying that the bias in the media isn’t real, I think it’s better to say that it is real but can cut both ways. A better way to deal with that (rather than all of us engaging in pointless discussions of which side is worse) would be for everyone to acknowledge it but also remember that holding our journalists to certain standards would help, and holding our politicians to standards of answering the tough questions (but turning the unfair ones back on the reporters) would help as well.

  24. Well I do think both topics at least relate to the Iraq War- while Wallace went completely off-course just to embarrass Clinton. It actually worked out ok in the end for Clinton, because Democrats saw him fighting back, and it gave them a role model for ’06.

    I wish other Democrats had fought back harder against right wing attacks- like Max Clelland and John Kerry. In our highly charged political environment it makes the difference between winning and coming off as a victim.

  25. Oh, and I don’t think we should be so quick to assume that those who “argue over the arguing” are doing so to change the subject from important issues. Arguing over the arguing is going to occur whenever diverse groups try to have a discussion, because everyone has to feel that the groundrules are fair before the discussion can have any legitimacy. If you were to go onto a conservative leaning blog, you’d feel that you were wasting your time unless the conservatives there were willing to listen to facts that might contradict their mindset. If you felt they were being selective in the facts that they use to frame their views, you’d want to point that out to them, I’d think. In fact I’d say that in general, liberals tend to feel that we’re all at risk for having facts whitewashed by the powers that be in govt and the corporate power structure. Conservatives tend to believe that the press leans liberal overall because it sees it’s function as exposing lies of those in power. So we’re a bit more skeptical of whether those folks apply the same measure of force in trying to expose liberals who have power as they do toward conservatives who have power.

  26. CStanley-
    First, I didn’t accuse you,, personally, of anything.
    I was making an observation about how the perception of bias works, psychologically, and IMO.

    Marlowe cites examples. Great. What he can’t do, however, is cite the examples of constradiction to his thesis, because they don’t figure in what he perceives, not intentionally, I would surmise, but unavoidably.

    I don’t tape record news or commentary, but if were to invest time in finding examples to show the opposite, I’m certain I could. Certainly, examples come up every day as I watch network and cable programs. The failures of Congress used as a synonym rfor failures of Democrats, ignoring the role of Republicans, is almost an hourly occurence.

    I reject Marlowe’s assertions, not because they”re wrong in the particulars, but because his particulars are only a partial representation of the whole.

    My argument here is one of pointing pit the role of human nature in all this uproar.

    I didn’t claim that bias wasn’t teal, BTW. I’s not helpful to amend and alter another’s text.
    What I did say was that some level of bias is inevitable, and that just as mush as we should keep bias in strict check, we should also keep in check overreacting to the slighest hin of it. A pinch of bias can actually be helpful in uncovering wrong doing or the excesses of power.

    We can agree about ideals, but we have to acknowledge that ideals conflict. Keeping a balance, rather than going ballistic when this or that ideal is not achieved, is what I recommend.

    BTW, the rest of my experiment consisted of cross-checking with a friend who has hated all media for 30 uears amd can spot bias in weather reports.

  27. CS-

    I’ve seen how the use of facts works on concservative blog debates, especially when, like a pack of wolves,,they go after an interloper with different opinions ;

    WARNING: This comment is another reflection on human nature and is not an indictment of any specific persons or groups. or principles. I fully acknowledge that I also funciton by the laws of human nature.

    The trouble with facts and links and quotes is that one fact (or link, etc.) is seen as the representative of all facts. I adore facts, but like anything else use of them can be gamed, Use them, but don’t fall in love with them, is my point.
    What happens in groups that have a unified vision of things, is that the use of certain facts and techniques of argumentatopm becomes so codified that what is to be derived from them is accepted on faith, and the collective use os facts is never re-examined for upgrading purposes. New facts are either rejected or fed into the existing system wihout the necessary diatancing of scepticism.. The fact that everyone agrees shields the members from ever looking into their common mirror.
    Everyone agrees, uses the same facts and the same argumentation techniques. The result is a sense of superiority and the sifling of innovative and creative ways of looking at world problems. It’s a sef-perpetuaing closed system.

    I think it woudl help if we tried to be more self-aware and leery of falling into the trap of accepting perceptions without question, even perceptions of our own thinking.
    That lesson is for me to keep in mind, as well.
    (Even though I’m obviosuly incapable of error! HahHahahaha)

    .

  28. I think it would help if EVERYONE would become more self aware, but since that ain’t gonna happen, I propose that we hold journalists accountable for being more self aware (which is in essence what ethics in journalism dictates).

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t each take personal responsibility as well, and I do try- but the fact is that the overall situation won’t improve by some of us individually trying to do that.

  29. Hard to think of any president as protected from tough, independent scrutiny as Bush.

    Reagan’s treatment was also well to the left of independence from politics in journalism.

  30. If you think Bush is a clown, have Terry Gross interview him as a perverse figure in entertainment on “Fresh Air.”

    In reality: why should Bush interview on something on par with the ACLU rather than being representative of the American public at large?

    Bush’s administration’s behavior has been described by John Dean as like the Russians and the Kremlin. (It also is an administration that has been foolishly, needlessly antagonistic, despite the similar character of the opposition for ages.) But when the treatment of Bush by the press is concerned, particularly the leftmost press, having a Kremlin mentality makes sense given the presence and behavior of so many Mongols, simply seeking information to arm themselves for future attacks.

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