Re: more on politics

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From: Danny O'Brien (
Date: Sun Oct 15 2000 - 16:46:05 PDT

On Sun, Oct 15, 2000 at 06:49:57PM -0400, Jay Thomas wrote:
> Kragen Sitaker wrote:
> > Let us consider the New York Times story in detail. Written by Alison
> > Mitchell, it describes Al Gore's abject apology for two trivial and
> > much-exaggerated errors in the first debate as "the culmination of
> > a skillful and sustained 18-month campaign by Republicans to portray
> > the vice president as flawed and untrustworthy".
> "Gasp!!! Oh no! The "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" rides again!!!"
> >
> > Terrific polemic. I haven't checked the facts, though, so I don't know
> > which side is promulgating the big lie; it's obvious somebody is,
> > though. I tend to think it's probably not Phil.
> Yeah, even though it's the New York Pravda^h^h^h^h^h^hTimes,
> hagiographising (and covering for) their man, I can't imagine where the
> writers true feelings lie. Thank God for objective journalism.

Well, I'm just a weirdo immigrant who can't vote, and spends his time
vicariously indulging himself mulching through the coverage, but this rings
wrong. Objective journalism, as an aspiration, generally boils down to
relaying the prejudices of both camps because it's too much hard work to find
out what's really going on. Phil's coverage was interesting, because
I've never seen much detailed analysis of the Gore lie claims in the
papers. I wouldn't leap into believing that's because the press is
a Republican conspiracy - it's just not interesting enough to put in papers.

> I love the fact that the "source" of refutation for most of these is
> "The daily howler". I'm gonna start a web-site, call it "the daily
> Bush-is-God's-right-hand-man", and refute all the stupid things we've
> all seen Bush saying on the nightly news. And because I wrote it on the
> web, everyone will believe it.

I don't know. You seem pretty keen to accept a number of press-encouraged
campaigns against Gore and Clinton without really submitting them to much
analysis. I much prefer pressman putting their prejudices where their byline
hangs, so one can try and filter out the stories that baegan "Well, Gore/Bush
is clearly a crook - let's see how I can go about proving that to our
audience." The "Gore's a liar" seems to fall into that category, as does the
"Bush is an idiot" campaign.

> I find it interesting that they pick 4 of Gorps whoppers, try to weasel
> around them, and then try to paint it as a Republican conspiracy.
> Please!!! Liberals own the major media, run the major media, and
> determine the editorial slant of the major media. 85% of major media
> journalists are registered Democrats. And yet, they're all part of the
> conspiracy to bring down the Dem candidate??? They're shoveling him
> untold millions of dollars, hoping he'll win, but then shooting him in
> the foot, by exagerating his exagerations???

Not that I don't believe you (most journalists come from the demographic
bracket that would traditionally support democrats), but do you have a source
for that 85%? It'd be nice to have a breakdown in terms of editorial position,

The only stats I could come up with online were for Washington journalists.
Despite being just written on the Web "so everyone will believe it" (and from a
fairly Republican POV), it actually seems less of a potential bias than you've
 Possible Bias Among Washington Journalist
    1992 voting among Washington journalist:

        89 % voted for Clinton ( received 43 % nationwide )
         4 % voted for Bush
    57 % are registered Democrat
    37 % are independent
     4 % are registered Republican

     2 % consider themselves conservative
    91 % consider themselves as moderate or liberal

    " 3 % of the journalists in the Freedom Forum poll said the
      ( Republican ) Contract was a ' serious reform proposal '
      while 59 % said it was an ' election year ploy .'

      The Contract called for a balance budget, tax cuts, welfare
      reform and increased defense spending, all of which were
      passed and sent to President Clinton. "

   Possible Bias Among Newspaper Editors
    1992 voting among Newspaper editors:
       61 % voted for Clinton
       22 % voted for Bush
    31 % are registered Democrats
    22 % are registered Republicans

As I'd assume, the bias declines as you go up the management tree. When it
comes to deciding the prejudices of an entire newspaper, management and editors
play a stronger part than journalists - and, speaking as someone who has worked
in London's Fleet Street, the urge to sell papers and make a bit of money
outweighs them all. I've seen journos who voted Labour all their life writing
the most spectacular celebrations of Conservative policies and politicians to
fit in with the stance of their paper.

I think what you may see more of amongst journalists of all kinds is a general
cynicism towards politicians, based on how they regularly try and hoodwink them
(and us) with spin and statistics. You actually seem to be playing up to that
POV, albeit in a one-sided fashion. What's a better stance to take?
Believe the propaganda of one side, or disbelieve both until hard
evidence is shown?

> > A kind of coup is in effect, continuing the pattern of the Whitewater
> > hoax and impeachment. If the far right succeeds in its campaign, then
> > the incoming government will be staffed by people who are trained in the
> > new science of character assassination. It's all they know. And having
> > destroyed Al Gore, they will come after the rest of us.
> >
> > Copyright (c) 2000 by Philip E. Agre. All rights reserved.
> Oh, right, that whole "Whitewater Hoax", that GOP dreamed up, with all
> the missing documents, 6 years of stonewalling, hundreds of witnesses
> dying/fleeing the country/taking the fifth, culminating in 25 criminal
> indictments, and costing as much as *1* Clinton trip to Africa. Yeah,
> that *hoax*. Boy, Kragen, ya gotta be a real rocket-scientist to try to
> figure out where ole Phil's coming from, political-wise.

It's a bit of relief to read someone who admits to an agenda and then go about
trying to research and document facts that back up their case, rather than
people who spend their whole time slagging off everybody else's, but seem
to believe themselves masters of The Objective Truth. (Actually, Phil Agre
falls into this trap as much as any apologist, but I like his constant
re-checking to ensure that he's following his own hyper-rationalist aims.)

My prejudice? Gore's "lies" don't seem to add up to much, Bush isn't an idiot,
Whitewater was the kind of petty corruption that dots every major state
politician in this country, the creepiest inditement of the whole thing is that
you've got the *son* of a former President standing[1], and if you support
either of the professional politicans that have spent their lives hanging
around the party political true, feeding off its fruits, and waiting for their
moment to climb to the top and bellow out their little primate lungs, then
you're probably getting the press coverage, of whatever bent, that you deserve.

[1] and don't give me that "you've had the sons of royalty running your shack
for years" rot. I thought you guys were supposed to have stamped this stuff
out? Or if this *is* the same as British royalty, why do you spend so much
time overanalysing a bunch of powerless figureheads? Hell, why am *I*?

> Jay
> --
> "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those
> with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig"
> -Clint Eastwood, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" 1967

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