Media bias? Oh yeah

From John Leo's latest in U.S. News, italics added:

Instead of trampling Newsweek --the magazine made a mistake and corrected it
quickly and honestly--the focus ought to be on whether the news media are
predisposed to make certain kinds of mistakes and, if so, what to do about
it. The disdain that so many reporters have for the military (or for police,
the FBI, conservative Christians, or right-to-lifers)
frames the way that
errors and bogus stories tend to occur. The antimilitary mentality makes
atrocity stories easier to publish, even when they are untrue.  . . .  It's
possible to read newspapers and newsmagazines carefully and never see
anything about the liberal indoctrination now taking place at major
universities. This has something to do with the fact that the universities
are mostly institutions of the left and that newsrooms tend to hire from the
left and from the universities in question
 the biggest flaw in mainstream journalism today is the lack of diversity.
Much bean-counting goes on in regard to gender and race, but the new hires
tend to come from the same economic bracket and the same pool of elite
universities, and they tend to have the same take on politics and culture

So it happens that Chi Trib’s Dawn T. Trice as a newbie in 1990 could not only get indignant over a Mike Royko column over his use of  “monkeys” as applied to blacks by a Los Angeles cop, but with others of her ilk could persuade a night editor to kill it, as in this Chicago Newspapers item of May 15, 2004.  In my lead, I made the point:

There are times when Chi Trib seems populated by graduates of politically correct campuses, editors and reporters who speak mostly to their own kind.


His inning

Mark Steyn doesn’t know it, but in his “Cricket star knows how to fire up fanatics” column in Sun-Times, he corrects the reference below to a “hot-to-trot anti-Musharraf Pakistani movie actor-activist” who read the offending Koran-flushing Newsweek story to Muslims who then rioted.  The reader is a famous cricket player (deeply sorry about that), Imran Khan.  He read the story “in a ferocious speech” on Pakistani TV, and the rest is Muslim-rioting and U.S. media history.

In that fell swoop, Khan got the cork of what Steyn calls “two highly parochial and monumentally self-absorbed tribes living in isolation from the rest of the world and prone to fanatical irrational indestructible beliefs,” thus tarring mainstream media people with an Islamicist brush.

As for Khan the onetime playboy with megabucks capitalist Jewish wife now seeking fame as a Pak pol, “he's an opportunist and that's why he went out of his way to incite his excitable followers,” says Steyn, who takes a final parting shot at “our self-worshipping vanity media whose reflexive counter-tribalism has robbed it of all sense of perspective or proportion,” which is to use a broad brush with basic, general accuracy, as anyone knows who has tried even feebly to suggest problems in their arena, which is to stir a hornet’s nest of easily wounded sensibilities.


Ignorant congressmen

Chi Trib’s Rudolph Bush has worth-reading page one story, “Rush, Gutierrez plead ignorance of travel rules,” about which a few points:

He says in third graf:

The fact that they didn't file for a number of years and don't remember receiving reminders of the rule raises questions about the House's internal enforcement and the seriousness with which the chamber takes its ethics rules, analysts said.  (Italics added here and throughout)

But he quotes only one so-called analyst, the veteran liberal activist Fred Wertheimer (husband of Linda the NPR hostess), identifying him simply as “of the watchdog group Democracy 21,” not identifying Democracy 21, whose web site is much about nailing Tom De Lay — though for this story Wertheimer, of Common Cause fame, has no blame to cast on fellow lib-Dems Rush & Gutierrez, only on those who didn’t catch them:

"One of the problems here has been lax oversight of the rules. It's clear that one of the reforms that is essential is to strengthen the role of the [ethics] committee and the House in overseeing and enforcing its rules."

Meanwhile, Bush tells us

The other 19 members of the Illinois delegation were aware of the rule and regularly sent their travel disclosure forms, but Gutierrez's files from 1997 to 2005 were all but empty, while Rush's contained disclosures for several staff members but not for the South Side congressman himself. The House passed its travel disclosure rule in 1995.

Rush & G were not aware of the rule, however, and the rest of the story is their self-exculpation on various grounds, as this from G:

"I'm very unhappy and upset that my senior staff never filed any disclosure forms,"

leaving us to wonder, on a scale of one to ten, where does this unhappiness of his rank with Bush’s asking him about his travel vouchers in the first place?

As for Rush, he

took a somber tone about his failure to follow House rules, although he has yet to file travel disclosures for himself. He said he expects to make a complete filing by month's end.

As do we taxpayers expect him to do but are not holding breath.

Main thing is, nobody told them about it:  There was “lax oversight,” said Wertheimer the DeLay pursuer.  Rush “wondered why he never received any notice.”  "No one knew that was the rule,” said Gutierrez.

A small voice is raised at the end of the story, however, to provide miniscule relief from this pity-the-poor-Congressman theme: 

Though neither Rush nor Gutierrez received any reminders from the clerk, not knowing the rules isn't an excuse, said William Canfield, former general counsel for the Senate Ethics Committee.

"It's sad. You're supposed to know the rules if you are a member," he said.

Way at the end.  Better late than never.


Abortion discussion aborted?

This in today’s Chi Trib, Experts debate diet's link to breast cancer, jogs the memory about suppressed discussion of the role, and to what extent, played by having an abortion in getting breast cancer.  In any case, Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer: The ABC Link calls having an abortion “the most preventable risk factor for breast cancer.”  But “Why the Silence About Abortion and Breast Cancer?” asks Chi Trib columnist Dennis Byrne some months back.  He refers us to the very same Coalition, which is all about suppression of research results dating back to a 1986 Lancet article.  Etc., etc., etc.

But so-called women’s advocates have a hammerlock on mainstream reporters and editors, that peculiar breed who meet no one at parties who gives a hoot about such matters and besides, would rather not stick head above trench level, thank you, because it would be blown off.

Detroit, home of the free press

Mitch Albom stole material.  Detroit Free Press’

Carole Leigh Hutton, publisher and editor, said the problems reflect a lack of familiarity with the paper's rules on attribution. She pledged to take steps to address them. The paper's ethics policy requires reporters to give credit when they use the work of others. 

says AP

The paper's rules on attribution?  Not basic honesty or universally accepted rules of writing in civilized society?  She’s saying there have to be rules for this?


Add this from Tapscott’s Copy Desk, where the Free Press story is excellently covered:

Since when do professional journalists have to be reminded that simple honesty dictates that they not present the work of others as if it was their own?


Hard-hitting journalism

The Austin Bay blog has this at http://austinbay.net/blog/index.php?p=323#comment-7751.  It gets at the mentality of some of our best and brightest newsies, P. Jennings and M. Wallace.  Old news yes, 1989, but is it?

A reprint from the April 1989 MediaWatch, a monthly newsletter then-published by the MRC:

Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace Agree
Reporters First, Americans Second

In a future war involving U.S. soldiers what would a TV reporter do if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit? That’s just the question Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree Jr, as moderator of PBS’ Ethics in America series, posed to ABC anchor Peter Jennings and 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace. Both agreed getting ambush footage for the evening news would come before warning the U.S. troops.

For the March 7 installment on battlefield ethics Ogletree set up a theoretical war between the North Kosanese and the U.S.-supported South Kosanese. At first Jennings responded: “If I was with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans.”

Wallace countered that other reporters, including himself, “would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover.” Jennings’ position bewildered Wallace: “I’m a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story.”

“Don’t you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?” Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: “No, you don’t have higher duty… you’re a reporter.” This convinces Jennings, who concedes, “I think he’s right too, I chickened out.”

Ogletree turns to Brent Scrowcroft, now the National Security Adviser, who argues “you’re Americans first, and you’re journalists second.” Wallace is mystified by the concept, wondering “what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by North Kosanese on American soldiers?” Retired General William Westmoreland then points out that “it would be repugnant to the American listening public to see on film an ambush of an American platoon by our national enemy.”

A few minutes later Ogletree notes the “venomous reaction” from George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel. “I feel utter contempt. Two days later they’re both walking off my hilltop, they’re two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they’re lying there wounded. And they’re going to expect I’m going to send Marines up there to get them. They’re just journalists, they’re not Americans.”

Wallace and Jennings agree, “it’s a fair reaction.” The discussion concludes as Connell says: “But I’ll do it. And that’s what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists.”

END Reprint

Schmich back

Stunned by the Trice reappearance (without explanation for absence), I forgot to take note that Schmich got back yesterday — “Illness' 2 voices agree: Being sick is no fun at all.” She’s been sick and tells us about it, lightweightly describing a horse (hoarse?) race between "your eight-year-old" and "your 108-year-old."

No problem. Chi Trib demographics clearly call for such, as its sales people put it at Media Kit:

Chicago Tribune's sites are number one in total market reach for Chicago news and information Web sites (source: Media Metrix).  Beating out popular national sites like CNN.com and MSNBC.com, Chicagoans choose to get their online news from a trusted, local brand. Attracting a young, educated, and affluent audience, the Chicago Tribune sites reach more than a million readers every month. (Italics added)

Of course.  The Dippy Three — Schmich, Zorn, Trice — are there for a reason.  They are deemed to appeal to the young, the educated, the affluent — the future leaders of our great nation.  Why am I complaining?

Potty (more)

On its discredited Koran-flushing story that led to riots and deaths abroad:

Newsweek's editor, Mark Whitaker, apologized to the victims on Sunday and said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that personnel at the detention facility in Cuba had flushed the Muslim holy book down the toilet.

Not to its readers?  For snapping up a tip and running it gossip-like in good old breezy fashion, never suspecting there was a hot-to-trot anti-Musharraf Pakistani movie actor-activist there to read it aloud on the Muslim street?  Where was the sensitivity to The Street, about which we have heard so little lately? 

And be advised that what you have here is very mild commentary.  For link after link to informed indignation about Newsweek and its Michael Isikoff, author of the rumor, start with www.instapundit.com, which as usual is all over this thing.

She's baaaack

Trice has re-appeared page one Metro in Chi Trib, leading with this:

A South Carolina Republican legislator, not known for his sensitivity and tact, incensed a bunch of people last month when he said he didn't understand why women who are victims of domestic violence fall back into the arms of their abusers.

a) The commas are ridiculous.  b) “A bunch” is alarmingly chatty. 

In any case, she identifies the faintly damned legislator in paragraph two:

Rep. John Graham Altman made his comments just after helping to defeat a criminal domestic violence bill working its way through a legislative committee. That bill failed at the same time one protecting chickens passed.

They care more about chickens than women in South Carolina!  Point made in manner most droll. 

Etc.  Can’t read any more.  At any rate, she’s back, without explanation where she’s been for a week, having led fans and at least one observer to ponder her fate.  Maybe it took a week to put today’s column together, as opposed to the usual half week.


Where's the potty?

Flush Newsweek now?

Looking to govt.

Discussing political corruption in 5/4/05 Sun-Times, Carol Marin finds a “small ray of hope” in Michael Shakman’s determination to thwart City of Chi lawyers trying to get his anti-patronage decree vacated.  In Shakman decree she trusts, even though things have gotten worse under its sway.  Why wouldn’t she find her ray of hope in U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald’s going after the crooks?  She betrays the liberal confidence in abolishing greed and other evidences of Original Sin, looking to government, in this case the courts, to supply a magic bullet.  But greed we have always with us — it goes with free will — and we had best keep our prosecutorial powder dry.  The crooks won’t stop coming.

Same page, same day, sister columnist Bonnie Erbe unfortunately states that the runaway bride was spooked by the big wedding coming up.  She did the “manly” thing and left town (eventually telling cops untrue stories about being abducted) to be free of this “stressful” situation.  Sillie Bonnie turns to “our own flawed culture and values” — consumerism and all that — and says we “should ponder those societal pressures that caused her to act so selfishly and carelessly” and “how we may have contributed to those pressures on her”!  Yes!  We made her do it!  There goes free will again.  If we could only change society — a grand goal, is it not? — we could prevent such behavior.  And while we’re at it, let’s stop global warming too.


Gone again

Another day sans p-1 columnist in Chi Trib Metro section, sans Zorn, sans Schmich, sans Trice, sans everything but news.  In a daily newspaper.  Can you imagine that?


Eric's back!

Too soon the speculation about An End to Zorn et al. on Chi Trib Metro page one.  He’s back today with deadly piece on Marian apparitions — unproven, irrefutable — near various CTA stations, including the most recent on Fullerton Ave.  He’s like a moth drawn to the flame on this stuff, which gets at the heart of his idea of how people should behave — NOT this way.  He has to deliver the cool rationality of Enlightenment to the issue, without sounding like the Village Atheist, has probably learned the hard way not to be too obvious about it in Chicago to his Chi Trib audience.  So he kills us with detail.  I’m dead already, help, help!

Meanwhile, the news layout and story delivery suffers on Metro page one.  Come on, folks, can’t we find local news delivered as if it carries itself without left-column maundering commentary and periodic fun and games learned in various college dormitories?  Like yesterday and the day before?

End of bolting on Bolton

 “Bolton's Chances for Approval Brighten,” says AP story, citing Republicans’ returning to the fold on the issue, while in Wall Street Journal former UN official and head of World Food Program Catherine Bertini says he’s OK in her book, based on years of working with him.

 I've known him for 30 years, and I know that he expresses his views in a forthright manner so that everyone knows where he stands. But John listens with as much intensity as he speaks. He hears others' views, and will change his own if a counterargument proves convincing. I have seen him do this many times, and have been on both the "winning" and "losing" sides of discussions with him. It is difficult to participate in one of these discussions without developing a healthy respect for the logic of his conclusions -- whether one agrees with him or not. [Italics added]

That’s as to the character issue.  As to what’s good for us, she says:

 John had a strong commitment to supporting U.S. leadership within the U.N., and of the importance of the U.N. to the U.S. He made significant efforts to improve the workings of the U.N., plunging into matters where he thought the U.S. could enhance U.N. operations, but was wise enough to try to fix only what was practicable. But the instinct was to fix: Shouldn't we have a U.N. ambassador like that? [Italics added]

All in all, he’s her man, because he’s “a forceful player, alive to U.S. interests” and will promote “steps necessary to strengthen the U.N.”

Embedded in such a mentality is the shape-up-or-ship-out philosophy required for change, it seems to me.


Where have all the columnists gone, where have they gone?

Big news of the day is that Chi Trib two days in a row does not have the Dippy Three — Zorn, Schmich, Trice.  Page 1 Metro section is pure metro news, with honest-to-(Censored) headline and columns and everything, all for Chicago news!

Keep in mind that Chi Trib is the ultimate corporate journalism product.  No one is not expendable, just as no one is fired for incompetence.  It’s a lifetime gig, hiring to retiring.  They would not announce no more Dippy Three columns, they would just disappear them.  Is this what’s happening?  One tends to doubt it, but they can’t all be busy testifying at the libel trial, can they?


Blago lies!

Ill. Gov. Blagojevich says a pharmacist is “in no position to decide who might or might not be someone you sell [contraceptives] to.”  He was responding to Cardinal George calling for him to rescind his directive that they must sell “contraceptives, including the morning-after pill,” as the Springfield State Journal-Register put it, “even if the sale goes against their personal beliefs.”

But does Gov. Blago think the issue is the customer, not the product?  And as to the product, the morning-after pill is not a contraceptive but an abortifacient.  It does not prevent conception but aborts it, dislodging the fertilized egg so it can’t get nowhere on its otherwise inevitable way towards becoming a little baby.

Lots of people don’t buy that formula, but shouldn’t newspapers take responsibility here, being fair and balanced and letting readers decide?

Wait.  Sun-Times also terms the morning-after pill something that “prevents” conception, which it aborts, else why after the fact?  Thus this mainstream media outlet ignores and obfuscates the key difference here, what puts this pill in an entirely new category.

The Sun-Times man, Ben Fischer, has apparently given the matter some thought, calling “the medication essentially an ultra-dose of standard birth control chemicals taken after sex.”  Ultra-dose?  What would that be?  Lots more of what prevents conception, thus locking the barn door after the cows are stolen?

Chi Trib took a pass on this matter.