Credibilty and the Media

In an earlier post I tried to differentiate between the manner in which I commented on the altered pictures removed by Reuters and the manner in which the right wing blogs commented. While they deserve credit for uncovering the alterations, I was ultimately bothered by the degree to which they tried to turn this into a major media scandal.

Editor & Publisher reviews this subject in a column entitled Photojournalism in Crisis. They discuss what I feared from the attitude of the conservative bloggers:

The stakes are high. Democracy is based on the premise that it is acceptable for people to believe that some politicians or news media are lying to them; democracy collapses when the public believes that everybody in government and the press is lying to them.

It is of some value when a photographer is exposed for altering a photograph. If honest reporting is the goal, then those who expose the alterations deserve credit. However, if the goal is to undermine the credibility of all photographers and reporters, or to perpetuate their myth of liberal bias in the news media, then this particular discovery is far from sufficient to demonstrate their case.

Thomas Franks Explains the K Street Project

Yesterday I had a post on how K Street is no longer shunning Democrats. Thomas Frank explains the signficance of the K Street Project in the New York Times:

K Street is not neutral. From all its complex machinations emerges a discernible political project best described by Joseph Goulden in “The Superlawers” back in 1972, when the lobbying business was so many acorns beside today’s forest of towering oaks. The “Washington lawyers,” Goulden wrote, had over the years “directed a counterrevolution unique in world economic history. Their mission was not to destroy the New Deal, and its successor reform acts, but to conquer them, and to leave their structures intact so they could be transformed into instruments for the amassing of monopolistic corporate power.” (Goulden, by the way, is no radical: he is a former director at the very conservative press watchdog Accuracy in Media.)

K Street’s bright young men fill the top posts at federal agencies; K Street’s money keeps wages low and prescription drug costs high; K Street’s “superlawyers” fight to make our retirement insecure; K Street’s deregulation gurus turn our electric utilities into the plaything of Wall Street. What K Street wants from government is often the opposite of what the public wants. And yet what K Street wants, far too frequently it gets — if not by the good offices of Bob Ney, then by the timely disappearance of the now useless Bob Ney.

Whether we are Republicans or Democrats, we are all aware of how much more power corporations hold over everyday life than they used to. “Those who own the country should govern the country,” John Jay used to say, and thanks in large part to K Street they do.

“Honor” Killing in Italy

I would have seen this as just one of many sad stories on the results of religious fanaticism, hardly worth a blog post, if not for the end of the story. The Guardian reports the case of a Pakistani woman murdered by her father and uncle in Italy because she dated an Italian man and refused to conform to an Islamic lifestyle. Later in the story they report:

The Milan daily Corriere della Sera reported that the victim’s father had applied for Italian citizenship two months ago. Applicants must convince authorities that they also embrace “fundamental” rights, including the right of a woman “to choose her own life”, said the interior minister, Giuliano Amato.

Fat chance he’ll convince anyone now.

The Influence of the Smaller Blogs

The Lippard Blog responds to Routh Type’s description of the blogoshere as “an innocent fraud.” It’s another rehash of the A-list vs. B- and C-list blogs. Lippard’s response centers around the number of people even a smaller blog reaches. For many of us, having the number of people who read what we right is significant, even if less than the number who read the A-list blogs. Size is relative. Sure, we are smaller than the A-list blogs, but we’re all smaller than Time Magazine or virtually any network television show. That doesn’t mean that our blogs don’t get our writings out to a meaningful number of people.

B- and C-list blogs don’t get the same number of readers as the A-list, but that doesn’t mean our writings are ignored. While writing at The Democratic Daily and Light Up the Darkness I’ve been I’ve been quoted in the web sites of publications ranging from the National Journal to CBS News. Contrary to the argument that A-list bloggers only link to each other, we received links from blogs such as Crooks and Liars, Real Clear Politics, and Talking Points Memo. Starting over with my own blog obviously means a reduction in readers while I build this one up, but in a the past week I’ve received links from Daou Report (twice), and many links from the aggregators at Memeorandum and Megite. There are also numerous other smaller sites which list blog posts, providing a source of new readers for even the smallest blogs.

There’s also other ways for even small blogs to get notice. Often readers of articles or editorials in the New York Times or the Washington Post will also see links to bloggers who are commenting on the article. It’s sort of a way to put out a letter to the editor on steroids. Google loves blogs which are updated frequently. Topics I’ve blogged about often come up relatively high on a Google search, bringing in new readers to posts I have written months earlier.(The links from Google are often fun to read. Today they’ve included “Dick Devos bad” and “Lorelei Gilmore hot.” Presumably anyone who thinks Dick DeVos is good, or that Lauren Graham is a dog, would receive links to different blogs.)

In February New York Magazine ran a set of cover stories on the blogosphere, including The Blog Establishment which looks at the A list blogs. They find that the difference between the A-list and smaller blogs is generally that the A-list blogs got there first and have the most links, with links directly correlating with readership. New York Magazine does acknowledge that even the smaller blogs can find a meaningful niche:

Is all lost for the B- and C-list bloggers? Not according to “long tail” theory. Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson has made a study of the geometry of the curve and argues something surprising: Because the tail goes on infinitely, the C-list, in aggregate, has a much larger audience than does the thin A-list section. This means there are infinite niches for B- and C-size blogs.

How Right Wingers See The New York Times

New York Times to Right Wingers

We know that right wingers see the news different from everyone else. Huffington Post has perfected a web translator which shows how they see The New York Times. The example above shows the real article on the left and the wingnut version on the right.

Kerry Playing Better in the South

The South was a problem for Democratic candidates in 2000 and 2004, but John Kerry is showing that things may be different in 2008. Check out this account of a recent visit to South Carolina:

Kerry finally plays well in S.C.

When U.S. Sen. John Kerry announced he was coming to South Carolina to talk about health care and raise money for the state Democratic Party, one could almost hear the groans from Greenville to Charleston.

What’s that liberal Yankee doing down here? We showed him two years ago what we thought of him.

South Carolina voters preferred President Bush by a wide margin, 58 percent to 42 percent.

Skeptics said the Massachusetts Democrat would be lucky to draw a dozen or so people.

Kerry had the last laugh when he hit the state late last month. The reception also seems to show the could-be presidential candidate will treat the state differently than in 2004.

Overflow crowds greeted Kerry at a Charleston town hall meeting and a Democratic rally in West Columbia. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley introduced him at the town hall gathering.

Party officials say they were not prepared for the response.


Sci Fi Friday: Star Trek’s George Takai on the Political Climate

Star Trek was started in the 1960’s as a way for Gene Roddenberry to sneak discussions of political issues past the networks. Fortunately political issues are discussed more openly now. TrekToday reports on a recent interview with George Takai (Mr. Sulu). Takai has been in the news recently after revealling that he is gay, but he also has some comments on today’s political climate:

“I’m a Japanese-American. I grew up behind US barbed-wire fences,” Takei told Foley. “We were first taken to the horse stables of Santa Anita Race Track, because the camps weren’t built yet. And then when the camps were built, they transported us two-thirds of the way across the county to the swamps of Arkansas…and why were we incarcerated? There were no trials. There were no attorneys. There was no due process. Simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Yes, I know about racial profiling. And this administration has used fear to terrorize America. Yes, they are the ones who are terrorizing America. There are decent people who just happened to look like the ones who committed that terrible act on September 11, 2001, and they are being profiled and subjected to all these indignities.”

“You know, this administration came out with what they call the ‘Patriot Act’ which is the most disgusting name for an ‘Act’ that is so un-American,” the actor added. “I mean, due process and civil liberties have gone out the window. And this administration continues to tell us that we are terrorized. There are better ways do deal with this. Look at Britain. They caught the people before it happened. Intelligence is what’s really important.”

“And do you know what they are doing in this country? [The Military] are kicking out Arabic-speaking gay intelligence workers, just because they are gay! What is more important? National security or homophobia? In this administration, it’s clearly homophobia and not national security. This administration has it all wrong.”

A Fox News reporter noted that Takei seemed very passionate about this subject and asked him what he thought was the answer. “Britain has demonstrated that they can do it. Have good intelligence! By firing Arabic speaking intelligence officers, that is not the way to do it…look at the failure we have in Iraq. It is a disaster. Look at the incompetence we had in dealing with Katrina. In case after case, this administration has been the greatest threat to America.”

A recent post has another story on Takai under the fold. Additional Star Trek stories are reposted below.

Security Moms Backing Democrats

The Washington Post reports that the Republicans are losing the support of the “Security Moms.” Exploiting fear of terrorism is no longer working for Republicans:

The study, which examined the views of married women with children from April through this week, found that they support Democrats for Congress by a 12-point margin, 50 percent to 38 percent. That is nearly a mirror-image reversal from a similar period in 2002, when this group backed Republicans 53 percent to 36 percent. In 2004, exit polls showed, Bush won a second term in part because 56 percent of married women with children supported him.

Perhaps this is due to more people realizing that being bogged down in Iraq, and helping al Qaeda recruitment, is not keeping us safe. George Bush isn’t helping matters with his absurd defense of his policies, such as at a Lynn Swann for Governor Reception earlier this week. Bush warned that, “If we leave before the mission is complete, if we withdraw, the enemy will follow us home.” I guess this was just his subtle way of answering Joe Scarborbough’s question, Is Bush an Idiot?