WHO NEEDS JOURNALISM: When millionaires quit on the facts!

THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2012

Part 4—As Rachel Maddow correctly said: As Governor Perry said: Oops!

Last night, early in Politics Nation, Joy-Ann Reid of The Grio made a striking statement.

Why wasn’t George Zimmerman charged with a crime on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin? Reid discussed the way this decision was made by Sanford officials. She then added the following statement:
REID (3/28/12): We also learned that there was an instance where Zimmerman was taken back to the scene of the shooting. They did a re-enactment with him. But after all of that, the re-enactment, apparently they did look at his clothing and did take his clothing and his gun. But after the homicide detective talked to him, he didn’t believe him. So he prepared an affidavit—he actually did a written affidavit saying he didn’t believe him and he should be arrested.
Oops. Over the previous week and a half, MSNBC’s journalists had been insisting that police didn’t take Zimmerman’s clothing and gun—that their failure to do so showed that they had conducted a pseudo-investigation. Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell thundered about this point, with help from reliable sidekicks like Jonathan Capehart.

Even after the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Sanford police had in fact taken the clothing and gun, the thunder continued on this “news” channel. Lawrence O’Donnell’s thunder on Monday is especially instructive:
O’DONNELL (3/26/12): The Sanford police have made an obvious tactical decision. They have decided they have had enough of the criticism from the likes of me and the law enforcement professionals that I’ve had on this show and others who called their investigation an exercise in rank incompetence the night Trayvon Martin was killed ago, 29 days ago.

And so, the police have taken a time-tested police tradition in a situation like this. They don’t want to take it anymore. So you know what they’re doing now? They are leaking, leaking, what they believe is evidence that supports their foolish, unjustifiable position of allowing George Zimmerman to just walk free, walk free that night, and not collect any evidence from him, not his gun, not his clothing, nothing. Nothing from him on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
As usual, O’Donnell was stressing his own heroic role, even as he misstated the facts. Is there anything else this clown does?

We’ll guess that O’Donnell may have been right on one score in this statement. It may well be that people within the Sanford police force decided to start leaking information because they “didn’t want to take it anymore” from the likes of O’Donnell. But presumably, part of what they didn’t want to take was O’Donnell’s relentless misstatements—the misinformation he kept advancing even after Florida newspapers reported the actual facts.

For the past two weeks, O’Donnell and Sharpton have aggressively pushed basic misinformation, using bogus claims to advance a preferred story-line. Last night, Reid finally said that the Sanford police had in fact taken the gun and the clothes.

No one on either one of these programs issued corrections of the false claims they had made for the past two weeks.

We don’t mean to pick on O’Donnell and Sharpton. Absurd misstatements have ruled the day as the acolytes of a tribal world advanced their tribe’s favored claims. This was Joan Walsh in Tuesday’s Salon, handing her readers a gong-show:
WALSH (3/26/12): The fact is, whatever turns out to be true, the president was right: This case looks like too many others where a young black man was gunned down for being a young black man. A 17-year-old was shot to death, and no one was taken to a police station to be questioned about it. It then took police three days to locate the dead boy’s family. Now they’re sliming him with anonymous leaks.
On the tapes which were released last night, you can see Zimmerman as he is “taken to a police station to be questioned”—as he’s taken there in handcuffs, no less! But even when Walsh’s piece appeared, it had been widely and reliably reported that Zimmerman had in fact been questioned at length, with re-enactments at the scene of the killing.

How does someone like Walsh write such tripe? For once, she ought to explain. One possible answer: The tribal world to which Walsh belongs no longer traffics in old-world items like facts. Consider one segment of Lawrence O’Donnell’s ridiculous program last night.

Midway through the program, O’Donnell interviewed Cheryl Brown, the mother of two teen-age children who made a 911 call during the incident which ended in Martin’s death. Brown’s 13-year-old son was an eyewitness to some of the events which preceded the killing. As of yesterday, the statements he has made to police and the press had been characterized by several major news organizations, including the Washington Post and ABC News.

His statements had been characterized in the Orlando Sentinel all the way back on March 16.

The fact that Brown’s son is now caught in this mess is part of the spreading tragedy. But how odd! When O’Donnell interviewed Cheryl Brown, he didn’t ask a single question about what her son had witnessed or said.

Why did O’Donnell skip past such obvious questions? We will offer a guess: The answer may lie in an exchange between Cheryl Brown and Sharpton four hours earlier.

Cheryl Brown also appeared on last night’s Politics Nation. At one point, Sharpton asked her to characterize the way her son was questioned by the Sanford police. Brown, a dignified, decent person, raised a specific objection:
BROWN (3/28/12): I mean, honestly, I’m not an expert in how to question a witness but I feel, knowing my son and knowing— I was present when they questioned him. I just don’t feel that it was done properly. I think there were some tactics used to maybe suggest some things to him that may be some leading him to say certain things that weren’t exactly what he would have told if he just were able to talk without them intervening or suggesting anything.

SHARPTON: When you say “leading things,” can you give me an example?

BROWN: Well, for example, they asked Austin if he could tell the race of the person lying on the ground. He said he could not see the color of their skin. They then proceeded to ask if he knew the color of the shirt that the person was wearing. And then they proceed to give him options of what color that shirt could have been. I don`t feel that they should have done that. I think they should have just let him tell the story with as much detail as he could remember. They suggested maybe it was black, maybe it was white, maybe it was red. I don’t think that that is information he would have been able to provide, especially since he said it was so dark that he couldn’t see the color of the skin. I don’t see how he could see the color of the shirt if he couldn’t see the color of the skin.
By yesterday, it had been widely reported that Brown’s son said the shirt of the man on the ground was red. This would suggest that it was Zimmerman whom he saw down on the ground. But you won’t be required to know such things if you watch O’Donnell’s program. You will hear, for almost two weeks, that Zimmerman’s gun and the clothing weren’t taken. Then, you will be kept from hearing that two eyewitnesses, one of them named, have said that the shirt of the man on the ground was red.

Did Brown’s son see this correctly? Is the other, unnamed witness telling the truth? We have no idea. Eyewitness testimony is often mistaken, and this event happened at night. Let’s say again—it’s part of the spreading tragedy of this case that a 13-year-old has now been dragged into the middle of a very emotional matter, with tribal and racial pressures arrayed against him.

(Cheryl Brown says she is “mostly black.” God bless Brown and her teen-aged children, who tried to help.)

It’s part of the tragedy of this case that a 13-year-old has been dragged in this mess. But O’Donnell has been picking and choosing and misstating facts all through the course of this spreading disaster, pimping himself for his courage and greatness as he does. In the passage we’ve quoted above, he complained about the “rank incompetence” of the police, even as he bravely continued to spread his disinformation.

That said, here’s an additional part of the tragedy:

O’Donnell is allowed to go on the air and behave in this ridiculous manner. This brings us to a troubling fact about MSNBC, a "news channel" which has been a disaster since the Clinton-Gore years:

In the past few weeks, MSNBC has implicitly made an announcement: Whatever it is, it simply isn’t a news organization at this point. It is no longer providing a service resembling traditional journalism.

Each night, this organization pretends to be giving you facts. But that plainly is not what it’s doing.

In 2009, Rachel Maddow lodged a complaint about the conduct of Fox News, which by then was directly involving itself in the promotion of political rallies. Her complaint was largely accurate, though she larded it up with silly scare language in which Fox was promoting a protest movement “against the U. S. government.”

Fox isn’t a news station, Maddow said. Basically, she was right in her analysis. But uh-oh! In these remarks, she was describing the culture which would be soon adopted by the directors of her own former news station:
MADDOW (10/23/09): Is Fox a news station? The answer to that is unrelated to the question of whether and which Fox hosts and correspondents express their opinion about the news. It is possible to express an opinion about the news and still cover the news responsibly.

[...]

Expressing an opinion about the news does not negate one’s status as a news reporter or as a correspondent or as a news anchor. The expression of opinion about the news is not the difference between Fox and the rest of the news media. The difference between Fox and news is that Fox is now actively organizing and promoting a protest movement against the U.S. government.

[...]

The difference between Fox and news is not that Fox has hired personalities and executives and producers share and express an opinion about the news, that they share an ideology. Opinion has always been a kissing cousin to news, and one man’s ideology is another man`s objective passion.

The difference between Fox and news, the way in which one of these things is not like the other, is that only one of these organizations is organizing anti-government street protests. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly legal as far as I know. It just makes Fox an opposition political outlet to the Democratic Party and the Obama White House rather than a normal news channel.

The exclamation point was put on that fact today when it was announced that the next round of Americans for Prosperity anti-health reform rallies—which we’ve highlighted on this show in the past—they will be headlined by Fox host John Stossel. Mr. Stossel is a paid contributor at Fox News. He hosts specials for them and he’s about to start his own primetime hour on their business channel. But not before he tours Arkansas, leading rallies against what our friends at American for Prosperity call the "dangers of government-forced health care."

This is a story that most of the media has gotten wrong so far. By not only defending Fox as if Fox is just a news network that has a right-wing point of view, but by ignoring what Fox does as a network that has nothing to do with the news. It’s a free country and Fox can do what it wants. God bless them and keep them.

But it would frankly be strange, it would be weird for the White House, for the U.S. government to treat a group that is organizing protests and rallies against it as if that group is just covering the news. It’s not.
Ignore the talk about “organizing and promoting a protest movement against the U. S. government.” The Obama administration is not “the U. S. government.”

Ignoring that cable excitement, Maddow was making a very good point. It’s a giant break with traditional practice when a news organization sends its personnel to promote political rallies.

But uh-oh! Before long, MSNBC was sending Ed Schultz to promote political rallies in Wisconsin. Sadly, this channel’s disgraceful conduct in the past two weeks shows where this sort of thing leads. It shows how much worse things can get.

The killing of Trayvon Marrtin was an important event. As we noted last Saturday, President Obama made a wise suggestion about how we should react. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/24/12.)

“It is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened,” the president said. Speaking of Martin’s parents, he said this: “I think they are right to expect that all of us, as Americans, are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

That said, MSNBC has refused to take this event “with the seriousness it deserves.” Their conduct has constituted a rolling clown show—a rolling journalistic disgrace. The clowning continued last night as a millionaire cable culture continued to tell us we don’t need actual facts—that speculation, misstatement and novelization will serve us just as well.

Who needs journalism? this channel has asked. We have a more pleasing product to sell you!

Thye're guessing that we will gulp this new food. In that, almost surely they're right.

38 comments:

  1. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    "Fox isn’t a news station, Maddow said. Basically, she was right in her analysis....It’s a giant break with traditional practice when a news organization sends its personnel to promote political rallies."

    I'm searching the archives to see if Mr. Somerby was critical of this practice before MSNBC adopted it.

    I'm finding reams and reams about Dowd and Collins but nothing critical of this "giant break with traditional practice" when it first occurred.

    One might draw the conclusion Mr. Somerby believes the situation didn't merit attention until his "tribe" adopted it 3 years after the "giant break with tradition" first appeared.

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    1. You're right, MSNBC is sorry, piece-of-trash network, AND Somerby should have been more critical of Fox years ago.

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    2. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      I would make the stipulation that reporting from the scene of a rally is vastly different from organizing and promoting a rally then reporting from it while claiming to be "fair and balanced."

      One party is guilty of making the news the other is guilty of... well I'm not sure what.

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    3. You guys should check the archives. I've been reading the Howler since the beginning. Somerby has been dissecting Fox since they came on the air.

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    4. Somerby has been going after Fox for years. Secondarily, everyone recognized and accepted as fact years ago that Fox was biased. You don't hear many in the liberal tribe copping to the fact that MSNBC is even worse.

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    5. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 5:17 PM

      "You don't hear many in the liberal tribe copping to the fact that MSNBC is even worse."

      ...and there you have it folks.

      Mr. Somerby and his acolytes really do believe the major problem with the media is MSNBC and the New York Times and not the 24/7 coast-to-coast and border-to-border right wing hate machine.

      MSNBC and the Times are much worse in their eyes.

      Can anybody explain how this view is any different than posts I can find on right wing sites?

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  2. I'd also wish he'd parse what Maddow actually said instead of coming up with another strawman to debate with.

    She said, "The difference between Fox and news . . ." She did NOT say, "The difference between Fox and MSNBC . . ."

    There is nothing wrong with expressing a certain viewpoint. There is something terribly wrong with advancing only one viewpoint and proclaiming yourself to be an objective "fair and balanced" observer with the slogan, "we report, you decide."

    At least Maddow, et al, have the integrity (in the true meaning of the word) to leave no doubt among their viewers exactly where they are coming from. They don't pretend to be who they are not.

    Somerby might practice a bit of integrity and take a page from Media Matters, which bills itself as a watchdog against CONSERVATIVE media bias.

    Instead of titling this blog, "musings on the "mainstream press" and the american discourse" he might call it "exposing left-wing bias by holding them to standards of absolute perfection while I give right-wing bias a free pass."

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    1. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Additionally, if Mr. Somerby has any evidence MSNBC spent weeks promoting these rallies 24/7 during its daily reporting and opinion shows the way FOX did he sure hasn't presented it.

      Did any MSNBC employee organize a rally the way Beck did?

      Again, Mr. Somerby engages in falses equivalencies.

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    2. Is your blog going to be called False Equivalencies?

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    3. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      "Is your blog going to be called False Equivalencies?"

      Mr. Somerby appears to have that niche well covered already.

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    4. There isn't equivalency between Fox and MSNBC. MSNBC is worse and I hate them both.

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  3. Bob would appear to be the only man in America who doesn't realize that cable TV is mass-media entertainment.

    And that, unlike Fox, which is genuinely committed to a single propaganda line -- i.e., promoting Republican interests, as means of obtaining low taxes and lax regulatory oversight of Murdoch and his businesses -- Fox works at it systematically, unlike MSNBC which is effectively agnostic; it will pursue whatever line, and however ineffectively, which makes money in the short-term.

    Or has Bob become, after chewing the cud of Bush/Gore for 12 years, the thing he most despises -- a monomaniac with no sense of the real world? And whose only remaining admirers were Bush 2000 voters? Ain't it ironic?

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    1. Someone who wrote "MSNBC is agnostic" believes bob has "no sense of the real world." I love this place.

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    2. You're right, anon 09:40; MSBNC is run by raging leftists who are the exact counterparts of the wingers who run Fox.

      Granted, "agnostic" was the wrong word. The point was merely that MSNBC management has no commitment to progressive causes. It will adopt any line, if that line sells (with the proviso that it will never promote genuine left-wing positions). T

      hings are quite different over at Fox. Note, for example, that Murdoch continues to run newspapers which lose money, year after year, because they offer him an invaluable service: propaganda.

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    3. "Bob would appear to be the only man in America who doesn't realize that cable TV is mass-media entertainment."

      I doubt that you could prove that statement. There is a large number of Americans who believe that Fox is where you find the unbiased truth. The fact that they're deluded doesn't mean they can't vote - or own a gun.

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    4. There is a large number of Americans who think Lawrence O'Donnell is a heroic and courageous seeker of truth.

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    5. The Real AnonymousMarch 29, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Indeed.

      There used to be a proud tradition of the "crusading journalist" attempting to root out corruption and defend the powerless from the powerful.

      According to Mr. Somerby the corrupt need not be challenged by anyone but him challenging the Times and MSNBC.

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    6. Is it not hysterically funny that among the people who claim to be carrying on that "proud tradition" are none other than Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly?

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  4. Walter Fisher notes in his narrative paradigm that people believe good stories before they believe facts. In addition we pay attention to those stories that support our world view. Politicians have realized this since time began; Fox has known it for years and MSNBC got into this groove three or four years ago. A good story with fidelity and coherance will win over facts at almost every occurrence. Colleges and universities claim to be graduating "thinking" "rational" people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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  5. I've voted for Democrats all my life--including Bush's opponent in 2000. I'm an old social democrat by temperament. My politics on most major domestic issues put me somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders. And I consider Bob Somerby to be one of the most valuable voices on the Web--valuable precisely for liberals/progressives.

    MSNBC has changed the typical target of its yellow journalism. It no longer guns mainly for top Democrats, as it did for so many years. It has more recently adopted an ideological posture that makes it more nearly a mirror image of Fox News. Fox News has been at that particular game (of nakedly partisan pseudo-journalism) much longer. But MSNBC is catching up rapidly.

    Should the mere fact that the corporate 'line' has changed at MSNBC, in recent years, comfort us somehow? Does it excuse their manifold sins against journalistic standards, facts, reason? Does it prove that they are better, or less damaging, to our public discourse than Fox News?

    I don't see how. We are being invited to sink to our opponent's lowest level. Is that likely to end well, do you think?

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    1. Two problems with that analysis:

      1) Somerby pretends, absurdly, that the journalistic failings of O'Donnell, Maddow, etc. are individual failings. You'd never guess, readings his blog, that MSNBC is part of a major media conglomerate which will never -- repeat never -- hire capable journalists to host talk shows.

      Listening to Bob, you'd never guess that "corporate America" exists. Aversion to basic structural economic analysis is always a problem for the type of "liberal" who thinks Clinton/Gore was the Second Coming.

      2) MSNBC is different, structurally, from Fox, for reasons explained above, and it will never be an advocate for progressive causes in the way Fox promotes the right-wing. The two are not comparable antagonists because, in the end, they share exactly the same corporate interests.

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    2. Spot on analysis. MSNBC is not liberal. And yes, how hard is it to understand that these corporate entities are bringing us entertainment.

      After all of these years, I don't expect corporations to have an interest in fact-based political reporting. There's no profit in that.

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    3. That they share exactly the same corporate interests is precisely what Bob has been writing for years now, and saying that progressive interests are not promoted by progressive viewers becoming the same tribal rubes as Fox viewers. But when the lying and misinformation and clowning at MSNBC and elsewhere shifted its focus to promoting and protecting Democrats, that's exactly what happened.

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    4. @Anon 09:44

      Then you've been reading a different blog than I have.

      Bob curiously blames "millionaires" -- not their employers. And blames the "tribe", as if MSNBC were the tribe! Absurd!

      True, MSNBC appears to pander (if in a most ineffective way) to the reflexes of some reflexive Democrats. But it has absolutely no influence in American public life today and as an object of media criticism, is rather a waste of time. Compare that to Fox.

      It's also not clear that Bob would much like hard-hitting analysis, from the left, as it would damage his idols.

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    5. I've also learned that when a post begins "I've voted for Democrats all my life" you can pretty much predict what will follow will come straight out of the Fox/Limbaugh/Free Republic playbook.

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    6. Anon 10:14
      Most of what you say is true. Fox has immense influence on conservatives.
      MSNBC has little influence on liberals with the exception of Rachel Maddow.
      Her show is popular and I know many Democrats that consider her to be a credible source.
      I have no idea how influential she is on a national scale.

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  6. Some of the sins The Daily Howler charges the MSNBC and Walsh (in particular) seem pretty mild, and at least have to do with the Police's failure to follow up and investigate, which seems to be the heart of the scandal in the first place. O'Donnell is a blowhard, but blowhards can be given a certain leeway if they are dealing with government incompetence, and that would SEEM to be the case here. I never gathered from these free swinging shows or the excerpts Somerby provided that it was CERTAIN Zimmerman was sent home with his gun.
    A lot of the work The Daily Howler has done on this is very good though, and as long nobody straps a dog to the roof of the car I think we are safe for awhile.

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    1. I don't know how many times I read "he was never even taken in for questioning."

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    2. "WALSH (3/27/08): The fact is, whatever turns out to be true, the president was right: This case looks like too many others where a young black man was gunned down for being a young black man. A 17-year-old was shot to death, and no one was taken to a police station to be questioned about it. It then took police three days to locate the dead boy’s family. Now they’re sliming him with anonymous leaks."

      Let's look at these statements individually.

      "The fact is, whatever turns out to be true, the president was right:This case looks like too many others where a young black man was gunned down for being a young black man."

      Shorter JW-Facts be damned we can't let the truth interfere with what I want to believe.

      "A 17-year-old was shot to death, and no one was taken to a police station to be questioned about it."

      As Bob Somerby pointed out, that was contradicted by many new reports at the time. Pure unadulterated B.S. equals standard J.W.

      "It then took police three days to locate the dead boy’s family."

      Uh? It is just not true.

      (3.28) To debunk the comments, it took 3 days for the family to receive notification of Trayvon’s death. PER TRACEY MARTIN, HE WAS NOTIFIED BY DETECTIVES THE NEXT DAY AND I.D’d TRAYVON VIA PICTURE.

      http://theurbanblogg.wordpress...ge-zimmerman-4/

      The Volusia County Medical Examiner refused to release Trayvon's body to his family for three days, an unusually long wait.

      Not true, according to the medical examiner. It picked up the body at the scene just after 10 p.m. Feb. 26 and notified a Fort Lauderdale funeral home 39 hours later that the body was ready. The funeral home, Roy Mizell and Kurtz, did not pick up the body for an additional 24 hours, the medical examiner reported.

      Volusia County spokesman David Byron said it would be impossible to find out the average length of time the medical examiner there keeps bodies, but said it can vary by several days, depending on circumstances — for example, if there's a dispute among family members about what to do.

      Dr. Jan Garavaglia, medical examiner for Orange and Osceola Counties, said her office generally releases bodies in 24 to 36 hours.

      The Medical Examiner's Office in Monroe County — the Florida Keys — said the average there is five days.

      http://articles.orlandosentine...releases-bodies

      "Now they’re sliming him with anonymous leaks."

      It is the Miami Herald that reported Trayvon Martin's suspensions. It is more likely either the Miami-Dade Schools or the Miami-Dade Police Department provided the information to the M.H. than the Sanford P.D.

      http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/27/2717486/police-investigated-trayvon-martin.html

      Giving Joan Walsh the benefit of the doubt, out of her four statements only the last one could be contrued as not being completely false. Is it really too much to ask that these people that play liberals on T.V. display a modicum of competency? It makes the rest of us look bad.

      Yes, crusade for Trayvon Martin, but don't do it through almost constant mendacity.

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  7. At risk of being lumped, with Amileoj, into the ranks of self-hating liberals, I too deeply appreciate Bob's analyses. He asks brutal questions of "the Left", which increasingly cause offense, if my cursory reading of the comments here is correct.

    But most of you who are most unhappy seem to be echoing a particular refrain - that is, why is Bob attacking one group of partisons - those on "our side" - when the other group on the other side behaves so much more egregiously in so many ways.

    I would have thought that was the point.

    I can find, quite easily, hundreds of voices on the left attacking FOX 24 hours a day. Just as I can find hundreds of voices attacking MSNBC from the right.

    But where else does a progressive hold his own to a higher standard but here? I, quite frankly, expect FOX to lie to its viewers, but I'm ashamed when those on "the Left" (the quotes indicate my general skepticism about the state of tv journalism) repeat received information as truth and appeal to my general prejudices, which like Amiloej above, tend to veer to the far left.

    I'm guessing that I, like Bob, *hate* to be manipulated. My gorge rises particularly when those attempting manipulation already have my sympathies.

    Self-hating? I don't think so. I just don't want to be peddled bullshit by my own "side".

    (All this reminds me of a young Dem party operative I once knew working during the Bush years. When I asked him what his overall game plan was, he replied quite sincerely that he wanted to become a democratic Karl Rove - that the Repubs had taken our lunch money and shoved us into the gutter, and that the only response was to get bigger and meaner and tell just as many lies. Fight fire with fire.

    (Who am I to suggest that he was wrong? Maybe there's no crossing the abyss and the notions of citizenship, democracy, and free will are outdated and naive. But I, personally, still want to know bullshit when it arrives from right or left.)

    Finally, and once again, for those who want Bob to change - to attack FOX with the regularity with which he goes after MSNBC - fuggedaboudit. He's here, as far as I'm concerned, to explore and reveal hypocrisy, not to join our lefty chorus.

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  8. I for one DON'T want Bob to attack Fox -- lots of other people do it, MM is a virtual clearing house of Fox misinformation, and such criticism could only be of value to people who wouldn't come here. There's no need to preach to "liberals" -- or the right-wing trolls who show up here -- on the evils of Fox. It's not a reputable news organization, even in the debased MSNBC or broadcast network sense.

    What is of far more interest here are the critiques of "news" stories -- the unconscious propaganda, as it were, of American media, facilitated by journalistic incompetence, laziness, embrace of conventional wisdom, too many damn cocktail parties with public figures, towing the corporate/management line, careerism, etc.

    In this context, it makes perfects to criticize Ezra Klein, because Klein, whatever his faults, is a serious commentator and a thoughtful person, and there's hope of reaching him. The fact that Gail Collins once managed the Times op-ed page is astonishing, but that doesn't change the fact that nobody gives a damn what she writes, beyond the society crowd. She's not a serious person. Similarly, Dowd is of much decreased influence these days. As for nitpicking Krugman -- it's offensive not because we can't criticize the deity, but because it's a waste of time. Daily blogging and twice-weekly columns are rough and tumble. You simply accept that you won't love every word, and that writers will make strategic errors.

    Anyway, the real sins at places like the Times are on the front page.

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    1. Here is where you and Somerby both go off the rails.

      The nightly lineup of MSNBC talk shows doesn't even pretend to be providing "news." They are providing commentary on stories that are in the news in search of a niche audience large enough to sustain those shows. And they don't pretend to do otherwise, Rachel Maddow's excellent reporting on the proliferation of nuclear materials that could be turned into weapons under "Atoms for Peace" program notwithstanding.

      And unless you want to repeal the First Amendment, there is nothing inherently WRONG with either MSNBC or Fox or Rush Limbaugh doing what they do, as long as they are honest about it. And of the three cited, Fox is the only one claiming to be "fair and balanced."

      What I object to is that Somerby and his very own "tribe" considers me and the rest of the public too stupid to discover information in an Information Age, and in fact, so stupid as to be easily misled by Lawrence O'Donnell, et al.

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    2. I think you're wrong when you say "nobody gives a damn" what Collins writes. Other media types do, so that when she writes her dog on the roof stories and other inanities others pick up on it, repeat it, embellish it, and the cycle is set. Since when does someone not being a "serious person" diminish their influence in this client? It's almost a frickin' prerequisite.

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    3. To Anonymous 1:23.

      You write that you object to Somerby and his tribe considering you too stupid to be misled by O'Donnell, et al.

      In all seriousness, as a member of Somerby's "tribe" (whatever that is), I find myself all too often swayed by my sympathies as a progressive. Unlike you, I respond to input from many sources and often don't have the time or the wisdom to determine the quality of those sources.

      Reading Somerby is, for me, a cold shower. Whenever I have the impulse to join the chorus of villagers with pitchforks - and I confess to having that impulse all too often - Bob provides another perspective.

      You, Anon, may have the wisdom, time, and, evidently, the umbrage to do all your own vetting. I, on the other hand, bleeding hearter, am easily swayed by emotional appeals. I only wish I could be as objective and informed as you evidently are.

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  9. Some liberals don't like their intelligence insulted by MSNBC and the New York Times. Others love nothing better.

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    1. My, my, what mind-readers we are!

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  10. actually bob, the bigger tragedy here, and you've provided examples, is what a poor job the sanford police did, in investigating this event. but an even poorer, apparently split-second decision, by the local state's attorney, to not prosecute, without having the results of any processed evidence in hand. unlike CSI, in the real world, that processing takes time, if it was even started, what with the decision made not to press charges.

    so, what we have is a half-assed police "investigation" (no blood/breath analysis on mr. zimmerman), and a quick decision not to prosecute (made absent any lab results) by the state's attorney.

    as to mr. zimmerman's "injuries", any "close-up" would still have glaring absences: no bandages, negligible bruising, from what is described (by mr.zimmerman, noted in the police report) as a vicious beating. also, no trip to the ER, to check for a concussion. all these will still be there, close-ups or no.

    i'd rather have a trial, with evidence and witnesses. let's see how the newly appointed state's atty. handles it. so far, the actual evidence isn't looking good for mr. zimmerman's statement of facts.

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  11. it is my hornor to possess a view for your weblog,it is definitely good.

    ReplyDelete