The End of the Freak Show and the Conservative Arguments Against Obama

Guy Benson (www.guybensonshow.com) and Mary Katharine Ham (www.weeklystandard.com) have posted what they consider to be The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama at Hot Air. Their inability to come up with anything more with more substance than this, along with the lack of any positive argument to vote for John McCain, demonstrates why Obama is now so far ahead in the polls. The post consists of a lot of distortions and repetition of standard right wing talking points which I and others have debunked multiple times throughout the campaign, and which voters are ignoring this year.

Their arguments consist of the type of freak show politics which Matt Drudge has promoted in recent years as described by Mark Halperin and John Harris in The Way to Win. The failure of such smears to gain traction points to a change in the political climate discussed by Eric Boehlert today as he discussed how Drudge has lost his influence compared to that described by Halperin and Harris in The Way to Win. Eric wrote:

Why the misfires? As Halperin himself noted in 2006, “Matt Drudge is not doing stories on policy, on welfare, on healthcare. He’s doing stories on the most salacious aspects of American politics. When that drives the dialogue, that’s where the country heads, that’s where our political coverage heads.”

Thanks to our current economic crisis, “the most salacious aspects of American politics,” as Halperin put it, have taken a vacation during the closing weeks of this campaign. And the press can’t even pretend that those “salacious aspects” are remotely newsworthy, which means the second part of Halperin’s claim, about Drudge driving the dialogue, no longer applies.

Halperin’s writing partner John Harris admitted as much recently while addressing students at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. In an article on Harris’ speech, the local paper reported: “The Republican Party’s ‘Machiavellian’ style of attack politics hasn’t struck a chord in this election, Mr. Harris said, leaving John McCain to shift strategies nearly weekly.”

The so-called comprehensive argument against Obama represents a futile attempt to restore the freak show to its dominance in selecting presidents at a time when the electorate has moved beyond this and wants a serious candidate who has meaningful positions on the real issues.

I have already discussed many of these arguments in depth and will only quickly outline the flaws in the these arguments against Obama. Their arguments would only be persuasive to those who lack a moral compass and accept the authoritarian mind set and dishonesty of the far right or who are ignorant of the issues and Obama’s actual positions. They pretend to be providing information by utilizing video clips, but they repeatedly take comments out of context and surround them with outright untrue statements and misinterpretations in what amounts to a crude hatchet job and not meaningful political discourse.

Their first point comes the closest to being over a real issue. While they grossly distort Obama’s views, repeat the usual right wing nonsense on partial-birth abortions, ignore Obama’s opposition to late term abortions unless the health of the mother is in danger, and even repeat the smear that Obama supports infanticide, there is a real differences between the parties on abortion rights. What they fail to understand that a majority reject the view of the authoritarian right that they have the right to control the bodies of others. A majority agree with Obama on abortion, and reminding them that John McCain would return us to the era of shirt-hanger abortions will not help him pick up any votes. Even many who oppose abortion rights would not go as far as John McCain and Sarah Palin in ignoring exceptions based upon the health of the mother or rape.

Their second point distorts Obama’s views on taxes, distorting his words and claiming that Obama’s comment to “spread the wealth around” does not sound like the words of a tax cutter. An objective comparison of the tax policies of Obama and McCain was reviewed here. They miss the point that by spreading the wealth around Obama means giving a tax cut to the middle class. They also erroneously claim that increases in capital gains taxes decreases tax revenue, and vice versa, along with ignoring the fact that Obama’s proposed increases in capital gains taxes will only affect couples making over $250,000 per year, and the tax would still be less than under Ronald Reagan. Changes in the capital gains rate primarily changes how investment income is structured and changes where the taxes come from far more than the total tax revenue raised, making it easy to play politically motivated games with the results of a rate change. The ability to distort the consequences of tax rates on investment income is further complicated by the fact that more taxes are brought in when the market is rising. Tax revenue will increase during a strong bull market if the capital gains rate is raised, lowered, or remains the same.

Their third point is to again raise the debunked claims of radical associations which I have already discussed in numerous posts. The ironies in this attack are that 1) John McCain is the one who really has associations with extremists, and 2) these McCarthist attacks on Obama have wound up backfiring against McCain, providing serious people with a real reason to stay clear of the authoritarian right.

Bringing up foreign policy judgment was a poor choice considering that Obama was right on opposing going to war, regardless of how much they want to minimize this. Obama was also right about the surge, regardless of how they want to distort his actual position. Opponents of the surge predicted a decrease in violence with an increase in troops, but the real issue is achieving a political settlement which allows us to leave rather than remaining in Iraq for one-hundred years. While John McCain might be okay with this strategy, the majority of American voters are not.

Similarly they distort Obama’s position on negotiations, appearing to not even understand what “precondition” means diplomatically. While Obama is not demanding preconditions as to the outcome of negotiations, he is not supporting negotiations without any preparation or conditions as they falsey imply. They quote Hillary Clinton and John Edwards’ politically motivated opposition to Obama’s position during the primaries but ignore the support for diplomacy recently expressed by five former secretaries of state. Most voters will feel more comfortable with a candidate who wants to talk to Iran and realize that singing “Bomb, Bomb. Bomb Iran” as McCain has only worsens the situation.

Their claims of disdain for the heartland and playing the race card based upon statements taken out of context and creative interpretations of his meaning, are total nonsense which will have no traction. Their claim of lack of accomplishments ignores Obama’s actual accomplishments. Besides, this a rather bizarre argument to still bring up against Obama after John McCain picked Sarah Palin, who has a fraction of the experience which Obama has, to be his running mate.

More importantly in terms of the election, American voters have seen Barack Obama and John McCain together in three debates besides watching both on the campaign trail. It has been clear that Obama, despite (or perhaps because of) less years in Washington, Obama has far better understanding of the issues, better judgment, and holds the positions held by a majority of voters. Such attempts to revive the freak show will not work as voters are now looking for the candidate who can best solve our actual problems, not the types of problems which only haunt the imaginations of those on the far right. These attempts to replay the politics of past elections when voters have moved beyond such nonsense is exactly why Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 and why John McCain is unlikely to be elected president.

John McCain’s Desperation Effort To Avoid Debating Barack Obama

First John McCain began avoiding the press. Now he is attempting to avoid debating Barack Obama as planned for Friday–just at a time when it is crucial that voters get a chance to hear from the two candidates. McCain’s call to return to Washington, where he has been AWOL for months, was a transparent political gambit, or as Joe Klein calls it, Gimmicks ‘R’ Us.

The presence of  John McCain, who just last week was arguing that the fundamentals of the economy are sound, is hardly needs to rush back to Washington because of this crisis. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid advised McCain to stay away and proceed with the debate:

This is a critical time for our country. While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the Administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis.

I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.

If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.

The financial crisis was the equivalent of the 3:00 a.m. phone call in the Hillary Clinton commercials, regardless of time of day. McCain failed the test and has been falling in the polls, leading to such desperation measures. You can’t just call time out when their is a crisis. As Matthew Yglesias points out, “walking and chewing gum at the same time is part of the president’s job.”

McCain is trying to get credit for looking like a problem solver on the issue, but it is actually Obama who first reached out to McCain. Obama’s campaign issued this statement:

At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.

Despite claims of suspending the campaign, Andrew Sullivan argues that once again McCain is lying about suspending the campaign. Marc Ambinder tries to sort out exactly what is to be suspended here and here.

This gimmick is only fooling the die hard McCain apologists. Even The National Review is mocking McCain suggesting that since Obama wants to proceed with the debate, “they’d like McCain to just offer Palin step in for him.” More seriously they comment:

Some of this is a lot of nonsense, but if I’m just getting home from work and I only pay casual attention to these debates, Obama sounds reasonable and less gimmicky than McCain.

He says that there is no reason why we can’t do more than one thing at once. Obama says it is “more important than ever” to have a debate.

Obama says he called McCain this morning and announced that he wanted to do a no-politics-as-usual joint statement about addressing the market mess. He says that McCain wanted to insist on meeting with the president and congressional leaders too. Obama says Obama said: Let’s do the statement, go from there. Obama says he thought McCain was thinking about the joint statement, working on with staff, when McCain went on TV. So now Obama is on TV.

Obama says he’s told Pelosi, Reid, and Paulson that “if I can be helpful, I am prepared to be [in dc] anytime” but I don’t want to infuse presidential politics on the hill and goes on about how presidents need to be able to multitask.

Obama may win this campaign moment yet. If McCain protests, he looks petty

Besides such comments from conservatives, you know that a gimmick is backfiring against McCain when the late night comedians begin joking about it. Drudge reports that David Letterman is mocking McCain’s cancellation of the debates:

David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, “Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?”

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, “You don’t suspend your campaign. This doesn’t smell right. This isn’t the way a tested hero behaves.” And he joked: “I think someone’s putting something in his metamucil.”

“He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?”

“What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”

The National Enquirer vs John Edwards

If, and it is a definite if, this story from The National Enquirer is true, Obama’s list of  potential vice presidential candidates is now a little shorter. The Enquirer claims to have caught Edwards with Rielle Hunter, repeating their claims that she is his mistress and that they have had a child together.

If the claims from The Enquirer are confirmed the jokes that for Edwards Two Americas means two women are bound to put an end to his political career. The story has been picked up by Drudge and the conservative media, but it is too early to say whether the mainstream media will do the same.

At this point it is unclear as to whether this story has any credibility considering the source, but The National Enquirer did break the story regarding Rush Limbaugh’s OxyContin habit, was the first source on some aspects of the O.J. Simpson case, including the photo proving that he did own that pair of Bruno Magli shoes, first revealed that Jesse jackson had an illegitimate child, and published some of the first details of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. They have also been wrong on a number of stories in the past, making  it difficult to predict the political consequences of this story.

The New York Times Tries to Help McCain But Drudge Intervenes To Help Obama

Maybe those Bar-B-Q’s for the press really do work. It looks like the media really is trying to help McCain out, but Matt Drudge seems to really like Obama and isn’t going to let McCain get off easy. After Obama had a thoughtful op-ed in The New York Times on his Iraq position, John McCain has put out an attempt at a rebuttal. The New York Times was extraordinarily kind to McCain in  sending it back suggesting improvements as opposed to allowing McCain to further demonstrate how weak he is in on foreign policy by publishing the op-ed as submitted. This also demonstrates that McCain’s smaller staff could really use some improvement in both the foreign policy and ghost writing departments.

McCain repeats his fantasy views of Iraq and he criticizes Obama’s views without presenting a coherent alternative of his own. He sounds like Richard Nixon in 1968, campaigning with promises of a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. Yes, we all know that there are risks in leaving Iraq. The problem is that Bush left us in a situation where there are no perfect choices. It certainly makes no sense to just stay there for one-hundred years, and the Iraqis don’t even want that. Should McCain try, the analogy would not be like South Korea or Germany as he intended, but instead it would be a case of the United States being an occupying country, which would only continue to inflame anti-American sentiment.

Apparently the McCain campaign refuses to take the advice of The New York Times and write a more coherent piece. The New York Post is also considering running the piece. I wonder what their motivation is for trying to sabotage McCain’s campaign in this manner. Thanks to Drudge the harm is already done as the original op-ed has been spread around the web (copy under the fold).

Naturally some observers have other takes with regards to the motivations of the parties involved.

(more…)

The Associated Press vs. The Blogosphere

The Associated Press has created considerable discussion in the blogosphere by trying to restrict quotations of their articles from the blogs. The New York Times reports:

The Associated Press, one of the nation’s largest news organizations, said that it will, for the first time, attempt to define clear standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites can excerpt without infringing on The A.P.’s copyright…

Last week, The A.P. took an unusually strict position against quotation of its work, sending a letter to the Drudge Retort asking it to remove seven items that contained quotations from A.P. articles ranging from 39 to 79 words.

On Saturday, The A.P. retreated. Jim Kennedy, vice president and strategy director of The A.P., said in an interview that the news organization had decided that its letter to the Drudge Retort was “heavy-handed” and that The A.P. was going to rethink its policies toward bloggers.

Quotations from articles is common in the blogosphere to promote discussion. Ideally quotations should be used as a stepping stone for further discussion but it is not uncommon for bloggers to use a quotation from another source as the bulk of a blog post. I’ll sometimes resort to this when I read something which fits in well with other topics under discussion but I don’t have time to write further when something is seen. Quotations also help keep the blog going when traveling and I can only briefly get to a computer (such as over the past weekend when I resorted to quotations on Saturday and Sunday to prevent the blog from lacking any material).

Ideally the best way to handle such a situation would be a simple link to the article. This would work if blog entries were only read the day they are posted, but it is very frequent for old posts to be read, either through a web search or from people checking the archives. Unfortunately a tremendous number of news articles referred to in old blog posts are no longer available on line. If there is an extended quotation, readers can still get a good sense of the news report which was being referred to.

Quotations from the original article are also of value in giving readers a better idea as to whether they want to read the full article. Hopefully having such excerpts around the blogosphere creates a win-win situation for both bloggers and the original copyright owner. Having links to their material around the blogosphere drives in more traffic. Many newspapers actually encourage links by bloggers by including lists of blogs linking to their stories.

The Associated Press likely is acting within their regal rights to protect their copyrighted work, although it is not clear how much quotation in a blog post would legally be considered fair use. Even if they are right legally, their reputation would suffer if they began initiating law suits against bloggers. This looks more like a desperate attempt of old media to hang out to the past as opposed to finding ways to thrive in the internet.

Should the Associated Press take a heavy hand the most likely result will be that bloggers will quote from other new sources and ignore them. This will help build the credibility of other news sources while decreasing the exposure of the Associated Press among the growing number of people who use blogs and web aggregrators to steer them towards articles worth reading. Having other news services receive frequent links from blogs while they are left out could also result in lowering Associated Press in the results of web searches. Web sites which make money from web advertising might even decide to use news from other sources in order to continue to receive traffic from bloggers linking to their site. Before the Associated Press takes steps to restrict the use of their material by bloggers they should carefully consider the consequences.

Samantha Power, Tonya Harding, Monster-Gate, And Clinton’s “Jewish Problem”

Just this morning I was thinking that there was a growing consensus that Samanta Power was right, even if politically indiscrete, in calling Hillary Clinton a monster and therefore it  may be time for her to return. As I mentioned yesterday,Clinton is now being compared to Tonya Harding. After alienating many black voters with the race-baiting strategy engaged by her campaign earlier she is now alienating many Jews as well as some previously neutral Democrats with her campaign’s latest dirty stunt. As a consequence, this is the right day for there to be a story about the Samantha Power’s possible return.

Marc Ambinder first wrote on the Clinton campaign’s attempt to fabricate a story that Obama has a Jewish problem. James Fallows has more. Ambinder notes that at present polls show fairly equal support among Jewish voters between Clinton and Obama but don’t be surprised if this backfires against Clinton and her Jewish support nose dives. This is also yet another case in which we see an alliance between Clinton and the vast right wing conspiracy as she has been circulating a hit job from The American Spectator. Similarly her attacks on Obama’s present votes began as a right wing attack and her attacks based upon his association with Jeremiah Wright came from a collaboration with Richard Mellon Scaife. Add to that her recent affiliation with Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and her compliments of John McCain. No wonder the Bush White House sees her as the one to carry on their legacy.

In response to her latest actions Kevin Drum, who has often defended Clinton, writes, “There are already an awful lot of reasons for me not to bother defending Hillary even tepidly, and I hardly need another one. She’s been voted off the island. It’s time for her to go.” He links to Atrios who wants to “just make it stop.” Steve Benen tries to write in a more neutral fashion as he reports on these items and concludes, “It’s fair to say that Atrios and Kevin are not sycophantic Obama cheerleaders. When they’ve reached this conclusion, the ‘Tonya Harding option’ is probably doing more harm than good.”

Now that virtually everyone realizes that Hillary Clinton really is a monster, it might be time for Samantha Power to return (although perhaps not yet as a formal member of the campaign). Sam Stein reports on a discussion Power held over her book in which the “monster-gate” came up:

The two-plus hour discussion at Columbia was held to promote Power’s new book “Chasing the Flame.” And while a good portion of the talk centered on the book’s content (as well as several apologies for the “monster” remark) much was devoted to a detailed and surprisingly honest look at Obama, his position on the issues, and even the type of White House cabinet he would appoint.

Power called Obama’s willingness to meet, without preconditions, world leaders with whom America did not always see eye-to-eye, one of the turning points of the Democratic primary: “I can tell you about the conference call the day [after Obama made the proclamation],” she recalled. “People were like, ‘Did you need to say that?’ And he was like ‘yeah, definitely.'”

She emphasized that, unlike President Bush, Obama would put greater focus on the general welfare of the Iraqi people (looking at population displacements, health conditions, economic insecurities), when considering U.S. policy in that country. She also drew a picture of an Obama administration that was filled with different viewpoints and congenial debate.

And, to the delight of many in the crowd, she even hinted that she could be part of that hypothetical cabinet. “Because of the kind of campaign that Senator Obama has run,” Power said, “it seemed appropriate for someone of my Irish temper to step aside, at least for a while. We will see what happens there.”

More Embarrassments for Clinton Campaign

With the polls narrowing in Texas and Ohio, and Obama moving out to a 51% to 39% lead in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll, the Clinton campaign is getting desperate. Yesterday she misfired badly when attempting to use sarcasm against Obama. Does she really want to be the candidate who opposes hope?

Today hasn’t been any better for Clinton. The big story today was a picture of Obama in native African garb during a visit to Kenya in 2006. It is quite common for politicians to wear local clothes at such events, but apparently some thought this might make Obama look bad. Perhaps the idea was to reinforce the false claims that Obama is Muslim, hoping that most Americans wouldn’t realize that only ten percent of Kenyans are Muslim. Clinton has been known to leak material through Matt Drudge in the past, and today Drudge posted the picture saying it was being distributed by Clinton staffers. Drudge also noted that politicians often wear local costumes and provided examples of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and George Bush:

The Clinton campaign’s first response just did not sound like much of a denial. When asked if they put out the picture, the Clinton campaign first gave this answer:

Enough.

If Barack Obama’s campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely.

This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry.
We will not be distracted.

It wasn’t until several hours of comments that this did not sound like a denial that the Clinton campaign issued an actual denial.

Over the weekend Clinton also claimed that two Obama mailers provided incorrect information on her positions. There were some minor errors in the mailer on NAFTA. Obama characterized Clinton as supporting NAFTA when in reality Clinton has been both for and against it. She should be relieved that Obama didn’t attack her on this flip-flopping. Obama’s mailer also erroneously presents a newspaper’s report of Clinton’s position as if it was an exact quote from Clinton.

Clinton might have taken the high ground after Obama had some minor errors in his mailers, but instead she followed up with a grossly inaccurate mailer which Factcheck.org has debunked in an article entitled Clinton Edits ‘The Truth.’ Their summary states:

Hillary Clinton, stung by an Obama mailer that painted her as a supporter of the North American Free Trade agreement, is responding in kind with a barrage of postcards saying, “Ohio needs to know the truth about Obama’s position on Protecting American Workers and NAFTA.” But the mailer gives less than the whole truth.

It quotes two news reports of Obama praising NAFTA, but it fails to mention that both are from the same event and leaves out his calls for “fair trade” and increased enforcement – and his criticism of trade agreements negotiated “on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.”

Clinton Surprised By Photo With Rezko

rezko-and-clintons.jpg

One of the many absurd attacks coming from Hillary Clinton this week involved Tony Rezko. Considering both the number of questionable business dealings involving the Clintons, and the lack of any evidence of wrong doing by Obama, this attack appears as just one more desperation measure. This morning Hillary got what she deserved when she appeared on The Today Show and was confronted with the above picture with Rezko. Clinton responded:

“I don’t know the man. I wouldn’t know him if he walked in the door. I don’t have a 17 year relationship with him. There’s a big difference between standing somewhere taking a picture with someone you don’t know and haven’t seen since, and having a relationship that the newspapers in Chicago have been exploring.”

The picture very well may be perfectly innocent. There is no evidence of any wrong doing by either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. There’s little doubt that Rezko hoped to receive favors, but none were given. As Steve Benen wrote:

…the story has been around for a while, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to it. The LA Times went digging, and ran a front-page piece on the “controversy” on Wednesday, but if there’s anything seriously damaging about Obama and Rezko, the LAT couldn’t find it.

Matthew Yglesias wrote:

The essence of the matter is that there doesn’t seem to have been any quid to go with the pro quo here. Rezko tried to curry favor with politicians in order to get stuff from them, and Obama was no exception…what makes this sort of line of attack curious to me is that if there’s one thing we absolutely know for sure about the Clintons it’s that if you’re inclined to make mountains out of molehills there are tons and tons of thin ethical charges you can make against them.

Jason Zengerle wrote:

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Rezko thing is a very big deal for either candidate. So far as I can tell, Obama didn’t do any favors for him–other than giving the son of a Rezko friend an internship. And, just because Drudge has a photo of the Clintons with Rezko doesn’t mean they did anything untoward, either. But, of course, Hillary was the one who brought up Rezko (in response, to be fair, to Obama’s shot about her serving on Wal-Mart’s board), so she left herself open to this sort of thing. I wonder if the Clinton team is furiously searching for a photo of Obama with Sam Walton.

Rezko appears to be a non-issue for each candidate, but there is a certain satisfaction in seeing Hillary Clinton embarrassed by the matter after she tried to smear Obama by distorting the relationship between Rezko and Obama. In case any Clinton supporters want to make an issue over the intern appointment, The Carpetbagger Report also disposed of that issue:

As for the internship angle, apparently one out of about 100 internships Obama’s office offered in 2005 went to the son of one of Rezko’s friends. (The kid spent five weeks in Washington, answering Obama’s front office phone and logging constituent mail.) As scandals go, it’s pretty laughable — as Tom Bevan, a conservative Republican, said, “Please. If we went and made a federal case over every Congressional internship that’s been doled out over the years to the child of a friend or political contributor we’d run out of trees and ink by next Thursday.”

Clinton Shows No Signs Of Making Pre-New Hampshire Come Back

The news continues to look bad for Hillary Clinton today. Reuters reports on a ten point lead for Obama. The New York Times says that even interest in Bill Clinton is decreasing. The New York Daily News has an op-ed on from Bob Shrum on “Hillary’s massive mistake.” Drudge is floating a rumor that Hillary might drop out. There is no sign that the Clinton campaign has any idea what to do.

Hillary was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and gave no signs of being able to change votes. She tried to hit Obama on changing his positions, but her arguments were over minor matters, not the issues which will decide the election. Steven Benen shows one example of Clinton using a trivial issue over a robo-call. Josh Marshall looks at how Clinton is relying on the meaningless issue of Obama voting present concluding that “they literally have no idea what to do at the clutch moment. For the now they are grasping for anything and everything.”

It is hard to see any way for Clinton to make a come back and stop Obama from winning the nomination.

Mark Halperin Still Worships Drudge

In case anyone is interested in whether Mark Halperin has changed his ways since he wrote about what was wrong with political coverage last month, you can take a look at what he had to write at Time’s site today. He’s still worshiping Matt Drudge:

Editors, anchors, executive producers, reporters, and campaigns are instantly aware when Drudge posts something political. And with just days to go before the voting — with everyone so busy, so tired, so manic, and so vulnerable — political and media actors are more easily turned chasing in whatever direction Drudge points them. Or, more specifically, in whatever direction Drudge’s spoon-feeding sources point them.

Drudge is only a big deal because journalists like Halperin, who has compared Drudge to Walter Cronkite, make him big. Halperin regularly writes about the freak show in which Drudge posts something and it becomes news. If journalists would practice sound journalism and only go with stories based upon a legitimate, and preferably more than one, source, then Drudge would not have any influence.

What is really strange is that when journalists such as Halperin turn the responsibility over to deciding what is news to someone like Drudge, then they are really showing that their own jobs are no longer necessary. There’s no need to bother with journalists who simply regurgitate Drudge’s rumors when anyone can go directly to Drudge’s site.