Sunday, October 26, 2008

Media Bias: A Writer's Personal Angst

I don't usually post things in their entirety. But this is such an important topic and ABC has such a history of burying stories that make them seem unbalanced or unAmerican, that I felt it needed to be recorded somewhere. I have include the link to the story in the title.

"Media's Presidential Bias and Decline

Columnist Michael Malone Looks at Slanted Election Coverage and the Reasons Why


Oct. 24, 2008 —

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun -- for the first time in my adult life -- to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer," because I couldn't bring myself to admit to a stranger that I'm a journalist.

You need to understand how painful this is for me. I am one of those people who truly bleeds ink when I'm cut. I am a fourth-generation newspaperman. As family history tells it, my great-grandfather was a newspaper editor in Abilene, Kan., during the last of the cowboy days, then moved to Oregon to help start the Oregon Journal (now the Oregonian).

My hard-living -- and when I knew her, scary -- grandmother was one of the first women reporters for the Los Angeles Times. And my father, though profoundly dyslexic, followed a long career in intelligence to finish his life (thanks to word processors and spellcheckers) as a very successful freelance writer. I've spent 30 years in every part of journalism, from beat reporter to magazine editor. And my oldest son, following in the family business, so to speak, earned his first national byline before he earned his drivers license.

So, when I say I'm deeply ashamed right now to be called a "journalist," you can imagine just how deep that cuts into my soul.

Now, of course, there's always been bias in the media. Human beings are biased, so the work they do, including reporting, is inevitably colored. Hell, I can show you 10 different ways to color variations of the word "said" -- muttered, shouted, announced, reluctantly replied, responded, etc. -- to influence the way a reader will apprehend exactly the same quote. We all learn that in Reporting 101, or at least in the first few weeks working in a newsroom.

But what we are also supposed to learn during that same apprenticeship is to recognize the dangerous power of that technique, and many others, and develop built-in alarms against them.

But even more important, we are also supposed to be taught that even though there is no such thing as pure, Platonic objectivity in reporting, we are to spend our careers struggling to approach that ideal as closely as possible.

That means constantly challenging our own prejudices, systematically presenting opposing views and never, ever burying stories that contradict our own world views or challenge people or institutions we admire. If we can't achieve Olympian detachment, than at least we can recognize human frailty -- especially in ourselves.

Reporting Bias

For many years, spotting bias in reporting was a little parlor game of mine, watching TV news or reading a newspaper article and spotting how the reporter had inserted, often unconsciously, his or her own preconceptions. But I always wrote it off as bad judgment and lack of professionalism, rather than bad faith and conscious advocacy.

Sure, being a child of the '60s I saw a lot of subjective "New" Journalism, and did a fair amount of it myself, but that kind of writing, like columns and editorials, was supposed to be segregated from "real" reporting, and, at least in mainstream media, usually was. The same was true for the emerging blogosphere, which by its very nature was opinionated and biased.

But my complacent faith in my peers first began to be shaken when some of the most admired journalists in the country were exposed as plagiarists, or worse, accused of making up stories from whole cloth.

I'd spent my entire professional career scrupulously pounding out endless dreary footnotes and double-checking sources to make sure that I never got accused of lying or stealing someone else's work -- not out of any native honesty, but out of fear: I'd always been told to fake or steal a story was a firing offense & indeed, it meant being blackballed out of the profession.

And yet, few of those worthies ever seemed to get fired for their crimes -- and if they did they were soon rehired into even more prestigious jobs. It seemed as if there were two sets of rules: one for us workaday journalists toiling out in the sticks, and another for folks who'd managed, through talent or deceit, to make it to the national level.

Meanwhile, I watched with disbelief as the nation's leading newspapers, many of whom I'd written for in the past, slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page. Personal opinions and comments that, had they appeared in my stories in 1979, would have gotten my butt kicked by the nearest copy editor, were now standard operating procedure at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and soon after in almost every small town paper in the U.S.

But what really shattered my faith -- and I know the day and place where it happened -- was the war in Lebanon three summers ago. The hotel I was staying at in Windhoek, Namibia, only carried CNN, a network I'd already learned to approach with skepticism. But this was CNN International, which is even worse.

I sat there, first with my jaw hanging down, then actually shouting at the TV, as one field reporter after another reported the carnage of the Israeli attacks on Beirut, with almost no corresponding coverage of the Hezbollah missiles raining down on northern Israel. The reporting was so utterly and shamelessly biased that I sat there for hours watching, assuming that eventually CNNi would get around to telling the rest of the story & but it never happened.

The Presidential Campaign

But nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.

Republicans are justifiably foaming at the mouth over the sheer one-sidedness of the press coverage of the two candidates and their running mates. But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass -- no, make that shameless support -- they've gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don't have a free and fair press.

I was one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather -- not because of his phony story, but because he refused to admit his mistake -- but, bless him, even Gunga Dan thinks the media is one-sided in this election.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those people who think the media has been too hard on, say, Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, by rushing reportorial SWAT teams to her home state of Alaska to rifle through her garbage. This is the big leagues, and if she wants to suit up and take the field, then Gov. Palin better be ready to play.

The few instances where I think the press has gone too far -- such as the Times reporter talking to prospective first lady Cindy McCain's daughter's MySpace friends -- can easily be solved with a few newsroom smackdowns and temporary repostings to the Omaha bureau.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side -- or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn't Sen. Obama's fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media's fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer -- when we know all about Mrs. McCain's addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden's endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

Joe the Plumber

The absolute nadir (though I hate to commit to that, as we still have two weeks before the election) came with Joe the Plumber.

Middle America, even when they didn't agree with Joe, looked on in horror as the press took apart the private life of an average person who had the temerity to ask a tough question of a presidential candidate. So much for the standing up for the little man. So much for speaking truth to power. So much for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, and all of those other catchphrases we journalists used to believe we lived by.

I learned a long time ago that when people or institutions begin to behave in a matter that seems to be entirely against their own interests, it's because we don't understand what their motives really are. It would seem that by so exposing their biases and betting everything on one candidate over another, the traditional media is trying to commit suicide -- especially when, given our currently volatile world and economy, the chances of a successful Obama presidency, indeed any presidency, is probably less than 50/50.

Furthermore, I also happen to believe that most reporters, whatever their political bias, are human torpedoes & and, had they been unleashed, would have raced in and roughed up the Obama campaign as much as they did McCain's. That's what reporters do. I was proud to have been one, and I'm still drawn to a good story, any good story, like a shark to blood in the water.

So why weren't those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don't see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn't; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Bad Editors

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power & only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -- and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway -- all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself -- an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career.

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country &

This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000."

Friday, October 24, 2008

How Come They Are Doing This to Military Voters??????

The Democrats, alleged umbrella party of all that is warm, squooshy and nice, wants "everyone" to vote. Homeless people, people here illegally, people in prison---they should all vote.
Not the military. This happened during the Gore campaign as well. In Florida, military votes were tossed as well. Could it be because of a technicality. Or is it because the military has voted for McCain in epic numbers according to polling? At any rate, this should be something that raises suspicions of even the most benevolent of apologists.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Democrat Shall Rat Them Out-Journalists Fail at the Truth

Well worth a read. It's something I have been saying since the earliest primaries. The media has become so entranced by the sound of their own voices and by the way they can shape the opposition that they have lost sight of what should be their jobs:

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?..."

Story here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Economic Terrorism And this Election

(Cross posted at
Imagine if instead of bombs and weapons, if terrorists used our own economy against us? What would be the outcome? Jimmy Carter lost an election because of overt terrorist actions. The Twin Towers were bombed out of existence as the result of overt terrorist actions. But what if terrorists, rather than loading planes with suicide bombers intent on a paradise complete with 72 virgins, instead focused on the grease that runs us, and by that I mean money.

There have been signs before, but we didn't grasp them. The precipitous rise in oil prices when the supplies were adequate. The strange altering of the international economic landscape as the EU tried to circle the wagons and much of Asia, especially China, used fire sale prices to entrench themselves in the American economy through purchasing corporations outright or making them partners with factories in less expensive Asian locations. Who benefits from this?

On one hand, you can say that stockholders benefit because they see return on their investments. But if you undercut the value of dollars, then you shortchange the value of the return. CEO's might get a golden parachute, but if their worth is based in corporate stocks, then their parachute could crash and burn just as easily as the average worker with a 401K.

The push of the federal government as far back as the Clinton years to make home loans to underserved communities is documented fact. There is no argument over that. The way they were implemented and the type of Congressional manipulation that put these funds into play in risky, often unqualified loans is part of the story. Franks, Dodds and other do not want that story out in the press. So what better way to distract the American public than to create a diversion. In this case, it's a pretty catastrophic diversion.

But who would have the economic leverage to pull of such a stunt? And why would they do it? My money is on George Soros and his like. They want to push America to a socialist reality at all costs. And they mean to force us if we won't go willingly. By pulling money for no particularly good reason from the stock market, they create the type of emotional response that makes other less financially solid stockholders leave as well. And if you force the market lower, you can come back in and buy the same doggone stocks at fire sale values. If in addition, you can to stage manage the economic views of the media to support your candidate, then you can shape the vote. If that's not warping the intent of the freedom of Americans to vote, then I don't know what is.

Mark my words-you heard it here first. If the day after an Obama election, the market soars to 14000, the you will know that we have been had, that our votes were bought and that our legislators have sold out to the highest bidder. Don't believe me? Then read on...
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Friday, October 03, 2008

The VP Debates: The Media Chooses, You Lose

So once again our mainstream media has weighed in with what they think is best for all of us. See, we, the American public, are too stupid and ignorant and attached to our religion and guns to really know what's what. Frankly, it's a wonder we can feed ourselves. You may think I am over the top on this, but there are countless blogs, wikis and other media out there who not only think we are wrong to support conservative ideals, but that it is the result of a mental deficiency. So the Media, in their gracious benevolence, has once again chosen for us. They have decided that Joe "I'm An Average Guy" Biden won. Frankly, I don't think either candidate did a bang-up job, but the constant self-congratulatory tone of the Obama campaign has worn thin.

But more than that attitude thing, I am truly wondering if the mainstream media has given up all pretenses of impartiality. The choosing of Ifill for the moderator was questionable considering her worshipful attitude towards all things Obama. But the way the media has chosen to ignore some very worrisome and possibly disastrous economic attitudes on the part of Joe Biden, is frightening.
To quote "Average Guy at the Home Depot" Joe, "
"we should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you're paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe. That would keep people in their homes, actually help banks by keeping it from going under"

Excuse me? Banks are businesses. They run on the money they make from LENDING MONEY. That's known as INTEREST. The interest is set by the government not to exceed certain rates, but there is a great deal of leeway and consumers are more than welcome to shop around for better rates. Herein lies the problems. Congress literally forced lenders to make loans available to what is termed "underserved populations." The reason Congress did this was , according to them, to get rid of the vestiges of redlining and racism in the system. Instead, what really happened is that borrowers who could not prove income, had horrible credit history or who didn't have the financial stability to afford the lower interest rates of a conventional 30 year fixed loan, were leveraged into loans that had balloons that would rise after a certain amount of time or loans that were interest only. The stated reason for these types of loans to even exist was to help subprime borrowers improve their credit and possible refinance at better rates. Instead many of these borrowers went for the maximum amount they could acquire and when the balloons went up, they couldn't pay the mortgage. Now while this is sad, it's not like this was foisted on them by jackbooted thugs in dark alleys. These were free American adults signing contracts where all of the details are laid out in copious minutae. Every payment, every escalation, every interest rate is spelled out in writing. Why is it that only the people that PAY THEIR LOANS ARE GETTING SCREWED?

In the end, it's popular now to picture CEO's with golden parachutes getting the largest portion of the bailout. And maybe to a certain extent that's true. But what's really happening is that this is keeping the lights on at the bank on the corner and making payroll for the tellers and loan officers who don't have those cushy jobs. It's easy to blame some guy who gets away with a cushy retirement, but why is it that the media doesn't want to place the blame where it really belongs, on borrowers that didn't pay for their loans.

And this is why Joe Biden and Barak Obama should scare you silly. They have no intention of shoring up the banks for longevity. They simply want them shored up for now. They intend to allow judicial fiat to rip profits from banks. That means that people who actually put money into banks could see their interest and deposits dwindle as more people discover that paying out a loan is foolish when the government will bail you out. And what about retirees who have stock in bank corporations? They will also see their stocks value erode. This isn't the first time this has happened. My parents lost $200K when the savings and loans went belly up thirty years ago. There are still a few people around who should remember that. Unfortunately, none of them are running for president this year. Watch your pockets-these guys are NOT your friends.