Friday, October 30, 2015

Pressing The Point

The history of R candidates and their defenders attacking the press as "liberal" and "unfair" and askers of "gotcha" questions is long and repetitive. Likewise, the cheerful responses to those claims by their intended audience.

At the most recent "debate," the biggest cheers were for Ted Cruz' attacks on the press, his whining about questions he and others got, and, especially, his claim that at the Democratic "debate" the questions were nothing but a softball love-fest. It's interesting to recall the reality -- interesting, that is, to those to whom reality makes a difference.
COOPER: ... Secretary Clinton, I want to start with you. Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency.
You were against same-sex marriage. Now you're for it. You defended President Obama's immigration policies. Now you say they're too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the "gold standard". Now, suddenly, last week, you're against it.
Will you say anything to get elected? 
COOPER: Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?
COOPER: ... Governor Chafee, you've been everything but a socialist. When you were senator from Rhode Island, you were a Republican. When you were elected governor, you were an independent. You've only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won't change again? 
COOPER: Governor O'Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore's mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April.
The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what's going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years? 
COOPER: Senator Webb, in 2006, you called affirmative action "state-sponsored racism." In 2010, you wrote an op/ed saying it discriminates against whites. Given that nearly half the Democratic Party is non-white, aren't you out of step with where the Democratic Party is now?
Now, I'm not gonna defend all the questions that were asked of any of them at any of the debates. John Harwood, who's generally a good reporter and a smart guy, set the tone for deserved condemnation with the first question he asked in the R game of dodgeball. Dumb, and embarrassingly inappropriate. And, as has been widely agreed, all of the moderators covered themselves with shame. It was as if they deliberately handed Rs talking points about media bias for the rest of the election.

Lost in all the appropriate furor over the inappropriate tone of so many questions is the fact that there were substantive questions and when there were, virtually all of the candidates either ignored them or lied. Fiorina and the 72,000 pages of tax code; and the well-known fudge of job loss "facts" under Obama. Carson about his tax plan, and his relationship with a bogus purveyor of medicall woo. (The fact that, while denying a relationship, he claimed to use the product and that he's impressed with it ought to disqualify him from anything but late-night infomercials.) Rubio and his personal finances, his tax plan. And on it goes.

No one on that side cares. Whereas it's true that much of the press today is idiocy, it doesn't change the fact that the press does have a role to play, and within that role is the need to ask tough questions. Sometimes they do, and when it happens, the right wing rises as one to condemn it.

And, as we're seeing, they get away with it. More's the pity that, as in the recent debacle, so many "reporters" make the myth all too easy to believe. As has been said by others (Al Franken, in his "Lies" book, for one), our problem as a nation, with respect to the press and its job, isn't that "media" are liberal. It's that they're lazy.

Attacking the press is a well-worn path. It's yet another way in which today's Republicans demonstrate their lack of love for our form of democracy. Or, at least, their lack of understanding of it. Sadly, it's also true that "the press" seems to have lost sight of their true role, as well.

Also, this:

[Image source]


  1. OMG...It happened...

    My political wonk 12 year old girl says "the Confederate flag should be honored as a symbol of the fallen."

    I explained to her it's 1/2 true. It started out as a battle flag and was hijacked as the symbol of racism. yada yada yada...

    Understand...My beautiful innocent child grew up in TN. for 3 years. Ages 6-9. Home schooled etc. You get the picture...So I talk about the Dixiecrat and that whole historical political dynamic of Republican liberal and Dems. conservative and how we got here today Dems. liberal, GOP conservative.

    She had some serious racist issues 3 years ago. Mexicans especially, but anyone colored and speaks two languages and none are English basically. Her true weather vane pointed Tea party right. The KKK was formed in TN. and she lived in Johannesburg *cough cough*...I mean Jonesborough, the first settled city in TN. for 3+years...I can't imagine having a gun range on campus, but there was/is.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is my beautiful, talented daughter is a neocon in progressives clothing. She did vote Sunny and BO for POTUS twice and found victory twice...She's a closet

    Anyway, it blew me away because she is really bright and knows a lot about politics and current events. She loves Bernie but would love Hillary almost as much. But she had zero idea why anyone might consider that Gen Lee flag as a racist symbol. She'd never seen people use the Confederate flag at a rally etc. We'd never discussed that one particular thing. She understands now, she was lied to and I got the pictures to prove

    I say all this because of how my daughter made the right decisions once she knew all the facts. That conversation was about an hour long. She had the right sides argument down pat. The internet and more information paints it all with completely different outcomes. Why can't grown adults do that? Change their adult mind on a big issue (racism) once you got the other half of the argument. The whole argument. With Google being your shortcut to some wonderful pictures of TN. conservatism. Stone Mountain GA. etc.

    The most important part was being able to spend some "We time" as I call it. Daddy daughter days are scares. She's killin' me...Killin' me...omg...Killin' me...


  2. Good for both of you! In my experience, by the time you're dealing with adults, the more facts and information you provide to a right-winger, the more they reject them and dig in.

  3. The press losing their true role can be blamed partially on technology and its effect on consumers of information. With the decline of newspapers, investigative journalism is also dying. It's becoming lost in the profusion and churn of electronic media outlets and psuedo-media. Where to turn for information? Too many choices with too shallow reporting or blurring of opinion and bias with fact and analysis.

    We're too busy. If the article is too long, find a shorter one. This was published yesterday? Forget it - we want to know what's happening right now today!

    I must confess. We subscribe to two newspapers but I don't always read both and often skip investigative articles that look "too long".

  4. Agree. We subscribe to three print papers, and I'm reading them less and less thoroughly. But I think it's also that "the press," especially on TV, has become more interested in the bottom line than in the real and necessary role of the press in a democracy. They do what gets the eyeballs, and, therefore, the ads. Deep reporting isn't on the list.

  5. Yes, almighty profit has taken center stage. Add to that end marketing and the blurring of reporting with editorial opinion. There are still exceptions. In recent years I've been somewhat surprised by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (which we do not subscribe to), a paper whose investigative reporter(s?) have been digging the dirt on Scott Walker, while the paper itself in conservative and generally Republican-leaning.


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