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Is John McCain losing his base in the media?--

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post writes:

John McCain was expecting journalists to start slapping him around, and he hasn't been disappointed.

As he gears up for a likely presidential campaign, the Arizona senator knows that reporters and columnists — whom he jokingly described last year as "my base" — have to prove their independence this time around. Media folks spent so much time riding on McCain's bus and listening to his rolling news conferences in the 2000 campaign that they were often mocked for swooning over the candidate. . . .

The reasons for the chilling of the climate go beyond a desire by journalists to prove they aren't in the senator's pocket. The press has a weakness for mavericks, and McCain is running as more of a regular Republican this time, embracing President Bush on most issues, making amends with the religious right, and voting to make permanent the tax cuts he once derided as excessive.

"When loving McCain was a way of expressing a negative opinion about the Republican Party, they were all for him," says Mike Murphy, a top McCain adviser in 2000. "Now that McCain is a strong potential candidate, some fickle liberal hearts are not fluttering as much."

McCain's apparent flip-flops are fair game, of course, but some of the liberal sniping at the senator seems based on ideology. McCain has always been a conservative, antiabortion, pro-military Republican who took more moderate positions on a few key issues. Now he is suddenly being outed as . . . a conservative Republican. . . .

Why are liberals suddenly more exercised about McCain? In 2000, he was a colorful underdog running against the party establishment's candidate. He was funny, told great stories, admitted mistakes and enjoyed dining with reporters. He was endlessly available for television interviews. He championed what seemed like a quixotic crusade for campaign finance reform. He was a certified war hero as a former prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton. He was unfairly slimed in the South Carolina primary. And, in the view of the press, he had little chance of winning.

This time around, McCain is arguably the front-runner for the GOP nomination. If he runs, he could well win the White House, shutting out the Democrats for the third straight election. And that is rallying the pundits of the left.

Mark Salter, McCain's administrative assistant, says the senator "is not unhappy with the press coverage he's receiving." Of course, it is far better for him to be put through the media meat grinder now, in early 2006, than when voters are paying attention. And getting banged around by liberal columnists hardly hurts him on the right.

Still, the skeptics are right on one point: McCain's crossover appeal is built on the idea that he speaks his mind without political calculation. If he loses his media "base," that may be a sign that he has returned to the ranks of political mortals.

Betsy at Betsy's Page comments:

Well, we always knew that it would happen; it's just happening a little ahead of schedule. Now that the media is waking up to the idea that John McCain could actually win both the Republican nomination and even the election in 2008. And they're realizing, that there is more to McCain than the guy who so helpfully bashes the administration on some issues. Why, the guy is actually pro-life and supports the war in Iraq. Gasp! We can't have that, so liberals and the media are already gearing up to cut McCain down to size and soften him up for 2008. . . .

I think Kurtz is exactly right about why the media worm is turning on McCain. What they don't realize is that such attacks help McCain in his race for the Republican nomination because there is nothing Republican primary voters agree so much on as their dislike for the media. In fact, in addition to my differences with McCain on issues such as tax cuts and campaign finance reform, one of my main suspicions of McCain has been the sense that he would take positions solely to maintain his popularity with the press. So, McCain will benefit, at least in terms of the GOP nomination, by losing his "base," the press.

Anon7:
The press gangs up on every serious presidential contender, Democrat or Republican. That's what they should do -- question those in power.
4.10.2006 11:02am
AppSocRes (mail):
Oh yeah, right! They really dug up all the dirt on Clinton in the '92 election!
4.10.2006 11:08am
Nobody Special:
What is up with all this "speaking truth to power" nonsense about the press?

Just tell me what happened, damn it. I don't want, and don't care, about the commentary or views of some random j-school graduate.
4.10.2006 11:11am
Kate1999 (mail):
What Betsy doesn't realize is that the press is one step ahead of her. They realize that they need to criticize McCain for him to have a chance at the nomiation, so they're helping him with the GOP base by ripping him. It's genius.
4.10.2006 11:21am
alkali (mail) (www):
The media are less interested in McCain now that he no longer makes provocative, funny and newsworthy comments and toes the party line? Darn that liberal bias!
4.10.2006 11:38am
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
I agree with Nobody Special and with AppSocRes. Let me go one step farther... I consider "big new media" to be an arm of the Democratic Party, or at least fellow travelers .
4.10.2006 11:41am
llamasex (mail) (www):
Anon7 is exactly right, look at the media and Howard Dean. They loved him till he had a real chance to win then, BAM! they turned and picked him apart. It has nothing to do with McCain being a conservative. This constant victimization that the right bleats about is pretty damn irritating. It is even worse that people who seem pretty damn intelligent like Mr. Lindgren buy into it.
4.10.2006 11:42am
Freder Frederson (mail):
What, the press isn't allowed to criticize McCain for pandering to the religious right (e.g., giving a speech at Liberty University) after roundly condemning their grip on the Republican party. The man has an incredible ability to forgive those who smear him. His support of Bush after the smears of the South Carolina primaries (which everyone acknowledges were engineered by the Bush campaign, probably by Rove himself) is just sickening.
4.10.2006 11:44am
JohnAnnArbor:
They loved him till he had a real chance to win then, BAM! they turned and picked him apart.

Losing a primary then yelling like a nut might have had something to do with it.
4.10.2006 11:47am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Yeah, I mean the press was and continues to be really hard on Bush, aren't they? Would have anyone believed five years ago that we would be so accepting of torture and warrantless wiretapping and the notion that the president is above the law which the press seems to have accepted without question? Or that the WaPo would have printed such a fawning, disingenuous editorial that contained outright falsehoods defending the president like they did yesterday?
4.10.2006 11:48am
Justin (mail):
In echoing Freder Frederson, I love how Kurtz and Betsy just make "liberals" and "the media" into one phrase. Because Dailykos and the media just have a mutual love affair.
4.10.2006 11:49am
Whatever:
As someone who reads a lot of news and a lot of media commentary, and even a bit of commentary on media commentary, I am amazed that anyone would become involved in journalism today. Everyone hates the media, the right wingers percieve a distinct liberal bias, the left wingers percieve a distinct conservative bias, the apolitical get pissed when any real news interrupts CSI...

I'm no different than the rest, I think that the capital-M Media is only ever looking for a capital-S Story, I don't think there's any real bias, per se, just a tendency to spin every news item as being more significant than it really is... When John McCain (who I like) says he disagrees with the president, its "the fracturing of the Republican Party", when he agrees with the president, he's "lost his independent credibility." When Howard Dean is an underdog hes the "come out of nowhere candidate," when he's the presumptive nominee, he's the "hotheaded tempermental leader." It's all about what makes the best story to run in the 22 minutes between CSI and, well, CSI...

I think that the news media has become too commercial, so commercial, in fact, that there's no way to even look for an idealogical bias. At least not any more than you could look for a political bias at any large advertising firm. When selling and glamorizing the story becomes more important than anything else, there's no room for political considerations.
4.10.2006 11:56am
Jim Lindgren (mail):
llamasex,

I posted this because I thought that VC readers might be interested. I didn't comment myself.

Kurtz, Betsy, and many others did express themselves on this one.

I have never been much of a fan of McCain's. He seems a bit odd and self-righteous for me. On policy questions, he's too conservative for me on some issues (eg, abortion) and too liberal on others (eg, campaign finance).

And his recent effort currying the favor of Jerry Falwell certainly deserves criticism.
4.10.2006 12:10pm
howard (mail):
The big difference in MSM criticism of Democratic and Republican candidates is that Democrats are criticized for their idiosyncrasies or inconsistencies (Clinton's philandering, Kerry's flip flops, etc.) while Republicans are often attacked for their conservative positions themselves. A Democrat who believes the liberal CW is principled. A Republican who is a mainstream Reagan conservative is "Extreme." Yes, both groups are criticized, but the implicit rhetorical tack is quite different. Even far left liberal positions are only criticized for impracticality, not for being wrong-headed or evil, unlike, say, socially conservative, religious right positions.
4.10.2006 12:17pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Jim Lindgren you will have to forgive me then, but taken you posting this without comment as an endorsement seems logical to me.
4.10.2006 12:49pm
Justin (mail):
Liberals who opposed the war on Iraq were attacked as far outside the mainstream for this POSITION. During the Health Care fiasco, the MSM painted universal health care as a "radical" proposal. The liberal position on impeachment is considered a joke by MSM. As was opposing the Patriot Act, or limiting its renewal. While the MSM took a one sided view of campaign finance reform (MSM is consistently anti-corruption because corruption makes good press and they don't like looking like hypocrites), the MSM is consistently pro tax-cut and pro-reregulation, and they're the principle driver of the anti-government attitude of the lower middle class despite the fact that the lower middle class benefits most from government aid.

It was the media that drove Clinton's impeachment, with a love of a sex scandal, never stopping to ask whether Starr exceeded his power until way too late. It was the media that tried to minimize the policy differences between Bush and Gore, despite the fact that poll after poll showed people agreed with Gore's view of the issues significantly more than Bush. And it was the media, in 2004, that turned the presidential election into a personality battle.

So while howard's point sounds like a nice reply, I don't find the evidence backing the point. National media is probably socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and because Bush is not a fiscal conservative, this has hurt him somewhat. But the media's bias is simply anti-zeitgeist, not liberal (and the local media is even worse at protecting the zeitgeist). And the media hates talking about issues anyway - in the media's world, politics can and does exist completely divorced with the issues, and thus facts and evidence no longer matter.

As a result, the media becomes a world of he said, she said, even if one party's view of the facts is completely incredulous. And, whether its because they're just wrong on policy or simply because they have better media consultants, this favors conservatives a bunch, because conservatives, time and again, are asserting positions that are factually rediculous.
4.10.2006 12:54pm
Whatever:
But that isn't a function of bias, it's a function of the commercialization of the news. That's the way the stories sell. If car manufacturers describe their cars as being "zippy and spacious" and thier trucks as "tough and rugged" does that tell us anything qualitative about the products? About the advertisers? Nope, it just shows us what sells...

The news Media is the same (if not worse). All we can hope to glean from the media's spin of a story is their perception of what is going to sell their program. It's just like selling vacuum cleaners.


A Democrat who believes the liberal CW is principled. A Republican who is a mainstream Reagan conservative is "Extreme." Yes, both groups are criticized, but the implicit rhetorical tack is quite different.


I think you give the Media too much credit by imagining that there is "rhetorical tack" at play. If it played well for their audiences, they would describe mainstream Rs as principled, and mainstream Ds as extreme. It's all packaging with no content.
4.10.2006 1:03pm
Jacob (mail):
That howard didn't put Kerry's "flip flops" in quotes scares me, but I digress...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Betsy's mad that the media are now depicting McCain as the conservative he is. I guess I don't really see the crime behind journalists getting something right which they previously got wrong.
4.10.2006 1:05pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
"It's all about what makes the best story to run in the 22 minutes between CSI and, well, CSI..."

I think you're being a little unfair here. I think there are more Law &Orders than there are CSIs.
4.10.2006 1:13pm
Anon7:

Oh yeah, right! They really dug up all the dirt on Clinton in the '92 election!

Actually, they did. There were a lot of stories about "bimbo eruptions," draft dodging, marijuana use, shady business deals, etc.

As for the Dean "scream" finishing his candidacy, that was largely because the MSM showed it 10 times an hour for the next 48 hours and portrayed him as a loon rather than just lost in the moment.
4.10.2006 1:15pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
alkali:

The media are less interested in McCain now that he no longer makes provocative, funny and newsworthy comments and toes the party line? Darn that liberal bias!


You didn't read the article, did you? Kurtz didn't say that they were less interested in McCain, but that they were more interested in painting him as a mainstream conservative than they used to be.

The point is that McCain is making funny and newsworthy comments, only now they are generally in support of Republican ideas as opposed to the old days when he was a "maverick." This time around he won't be the media sweetheart.

Justin:

The liberal position on impeachment is considered a joke by MSM.


Justin, babe, the liberal position on impeachment is considered a joke by everyone but the KosKids and DUers. Even more than that, of course, is the fact that Republicans would dance in the streets if the House got up the nerve to bring charges. Can you imagine how awesome it would be if the Democrats tried to bring the President up on charges for "zealously defending Americans from the terrorist threat?" That is, of course, how Republicans describe the President--a steadfast and implacable defender.
4.10.2006 1:23pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
The doctrine that there is a liberal Media seems alive and well in the imaginations of some VC commenters. I don't know if they live on a different planet, or have some esoteric definition of "conservative" in mind, but, really, the "liberal" media ceased to exist in the early 1980's, as newspapers and networks stopped fact-checking Reagan's speeches, and their corporate masters began pursuing media consolidation and tax cuts and mega-executive-compensation.

And, yes, as a matter of historic fact, AppSocRes, pretty much all of the "dirt" on Clinton was dug up in the '92 campaign. Where were you during the "bimbo eruptions"? Hilary's brief but profitable career as a futures trader was covered, as well.

Democratic pundits are attacking McCain. McCain is a Republican. That's their job. They haven't formed a Hanoi Hilton Guests for Truth group to attack his patriotism, though; instead, they point out he is a conservative, who holds unpopular positions on major issues, and, as a candidate for the Republican nomination, has to make nice with a lot of repulsive Republicans. This is not exactly on a par with the 1998-2000 War on Gore, engaged in by the so-called liberal media. Nor is it like any of the perennial slanderfests generated by the right-wing, to attack Democratic candidates.
4.10.2006 1:35pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Justin, babe, the liberal position on impeachment is considered a joke by everyone but the KosKids and DUers. Even more than that, of course, is the fact that Republicans would dance in the streets if the House got up the nerve to bring charges. Can you imagine how awesome it would be if the Democrats tried to bring the President up on charges for "zealously defending Americans from the terrorist threat?" That is, of course, how Republicans describe the President--a steadfast and implacable defender.

Well, that's just the point, isn't it? Can you imagine the Washington Post of 1971 printing such a toadying editorial about the president as they did yesterday. Or Bob Woodward writing bootlicking books about Nixon? The press has castrated itself. This president tortures, ignores the Geneva Conventions spies on us, reopens KGB interrogation centers, openly claims he is above the law and the press (and most of us) shrug our shoulders and say "okay, whatever".

Even 60 Minutes yesterday accepted a Nuremburg defense from a Warrant Officer who tried to justify his torture and murder of an Iraqi General as "just following orders". They never pointed out that that is never an excuse to war crimes in the U.S. Army under any circumstances. U.S. soldiers not only have a duty to disobey orders that violate the Geneva Convention, they have a duty to turn in the people who give those orders and prevent the violations.
4.10.2006 1:59pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Shorter conservatives: Wahhhhhh, wahhhh. How dare they pick on conservatives? They treated Clinton great --- the MSM ran stories accusing Clinton him of rape, groping, the murder of Vince Foster and considered rumors that he and Hillary ran a Cocaine ring out of the Arkansas state house. Those were all in MSM outlets. What Rush and the Weekly STandard, etc., accused the guy of were more racist things, like he had a illegitimate black daughter (the key sin for conservatives being black), etc. Give mu a f---ing break.

Jim Lindgren is a whyiny little baby who pretends not to be a conservative. Wahh, wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
4.10.2006 2:01pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Because Dailykos and the media just have a mutual love affair.

The fact that MSM is to the right of Kos doesn't tell us anything about where MSM actually is.
4.10.2006 2:02pm
MNPundit (mail):
I just finished reading one of Eugene Volokh's articles on harassment in my business ethics class which is why I'm visitng today, so I'd just like to say, yes us libs are all about ripping McCain.

But you know what? We have done so for a long time. The front pagers at MyDD and DailyKos have been ripping him for as long as I've been reading them. We have always known McCain is a true conservative republican and not a politician like so many others. It's the media fawning that has convinced a lot of Dems that he's a moderate or RINO which is incorrect.

So for the players in the left blogosphere, there's been little inconsistency here.
4.10.2006 2:06pm
Mr L (mail):
That howard didn't put Kerry's "flip flops" in quotes scares me, but I digress...

Hey, quick question: what was Kerry's position on the Iraq war? No, seriously. You're not one of those guys who goes around claiming that Bush was the real flip-flopper, because (hee hee) he was isolationist in 2000, but apruptly changed positions in late 2001? I always got a big laugh out of that one.

Back OT, nothing new here. It's important to remember that MSM reporters are lazy, and will often reprint anything they're handed if it happens to fit their political biases; underdogs always look good because there's fewer paid hacks digging up dirt on them and passing it to the press, something which changes the damned instant they become a threat. Remember the 2004 election? The Dem candidate that got the best press was Al Sharpton, simply because no one thought he was going to win. Joke candidates like Beatty and Trump got good press in 2000, too. I suspect Biden will be the next one whose neck gets put on the chopping block, if he doesn't do it himself first (saw him on Maher last night, ugh).
4.10.2006 2:30pm
Golambek (mail) (www):
As I recall, a few years ago McCain got on the "straight talk express" and called Falwell one of the agents of intolerance. Now he's going to speak at Liberty U. This is transparently a calculated political gesture to mend fences with religious conservatives at the expense of his stated "principles."

In the rules of contemporary media coverage, applied to both parties, this is a story.

Or, as the right liked to say about John Kerry (with the media's eager repetition and amplification) McCain flip-flopped.

No doubt, Dem operatives have been pushing and reinforcing this gotcha to the media. Something tells me Ken Mehlman and Ed Gillespie and Karl Rove do things like that once in a while, too, and that the media responds.

Note to conservatives: please, please, please stop whining.
4.10.2006 2:35pm
Proud to be a liberal :
McCain's performance on the Jon Stewart show was very interesting. He was asked about the Liberty University appearance, and he joked about it -- saying it was to get on the Jon Stewart show.

It is clear that McCain is focusing on his conservative bonafides for the Republican primaries. Just as Democrats appeal to their base during the primaries, so do Republicans. The problem then is what happens in the general election. Do they appeal to the base? or try to appeal to the mainstream? Bush did a fabulous job of both playing to the base in the primaries and then appealing to the mainstream in the election -- while giving the base the idea that he was with them in his heart.

The question is will such a plan work as well in 2008. And whether McCain can do it as well as Bush.
4.10.2006 2:49pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
As for the Dean "scream" finishing his candidacy, that was largely because the MSM showed it 10 times an hour for the next 48 hours and portrayed him as a loon rather than just lost in the moment.


Let me echo Jacob’s comments in that I too fail to see the crime in journalists getting something right which they previously got wrong.
4.10.2006 2:52pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):

This president tortures, ignores the Geneva Conventions spies on us, reopens KGB interrogation centers, openly claims he is above the law and the press (and most of us) shrug our shoulders and say "okay, whatever".


See, this is the part where you've lost most people. It's not that the press is pro-Bush and so refuses to go all "Bob Woodward" on him. After all, there are endless articles and even more endless op-eds about the things you list. The difference is, most people think the things have a different significance than you do.

You think "Bush tortured" (which is retarded because--at most--he could have ordered torture and wouldn't we have seen that order by now if it were so) when in fact some US soldiers have tortured. How dare the press focus on the actual torturers than find (invent?) evidence of Bush's guilt?!?

You think Bush has ignored the Geneva Conventions. Well, many people dont think the conventions don't apply. It's not that the press refuse to turn on their corporate masters, it's just that it's difficult to make a case for the conventions when they may not apply.

You also think Bush as spied on us. Again, most people are in favor of the "domestic" surveillance program (I have domestic in quotes because there is some question whether this was purely domestic surveillance or cross-border communications). It's not that the press are ignoring the obvious criminality of the program, just that no one knows how illegal it really is since the program is still classified.

ANYWAYS, this has gotten entirely off topic. The point is, McCain, the former press sweetheart, is getting beat up now that he's gotten more comfortable with conservatives. Press bias? Maybe bias in favor of a more juicy story. After all, it's not much fun to bash a "maverick" who always has time for the press. Now that McCain is just a Republican tool, and especially because his shift can be described as a flip-flop, the press will do what they do--write nice stories.
4.10.2006 3:05pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
Golambeck,
Who's whining? Any conservative should be happy to see the media rip McCain apart. His amnesty bill with Kennedy and his assault on the First Amendment with Feingold should disqualify him from the nomination.
4.10.2006 3:16pm
Wombat:
Disclosure: I have voted for McCain already (in the 2000 primary).

In my view, there are two factors to the McCain opinion change in the MSM.

1) The Next Big Thing. Like all other media industries, the MSM is always on the lookout for the next big thing. Simply put, McCain has been on the radar for over half a decade now, and McCain fatigue has set in.
(That the MSM picks moderates/rebels like the 2000 edition of McCain (Campaign Finance, etc), and now Mitt Romney and George Allen, vs. say, Rick Santorum (not that I would ever vote for him) as their Next Big Thing, says all that needs to be said about any supposed conservative bias in the MSM.)

2) McCain has made a series of questionable to odious decisions recently (intelligent design, continuing tax cuts). Personally, I view this less as McCain selling his soul to the moral conservatives to win the primary and more as supporting Bush in Iraq and elsewhere as the best course of action for the country (in McCain's mind, that is, though I agree with the Iraq portion of that statement).

Personally, I view the morphing of the relatively moderate 2004 editions of Clinton and McCain into their "electable" 2008 editions (both leaping to their side's extreme) as the ultimate condemnation of the US primary system.
4.10.2006 3:19pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
As an aside: Anyone know which group first coined the phrase "flip-flop?" Was it used prior to the 2004 election? I'm amazed at how completely it's entered our common vocabulary.
4.10.2006 3:20pm
Justin (mail):
"After all, there are endless articles and even more endless op-eds about the things you list."

No there aren't. There are endless blogposts. The media has mostly ignored any connection that Abu Gharib and GB had to the President. The fact that the United States had a torture network was a 3 day story. Only the blogosphere focused on it, or developed any opeds that noted the President's complicity, either actual, implied, or through agency theory.

You're making highly rhetorical responses, and I would assume that a neutral MSM would allow Bill Kristol on to their oped pages to make those cases - but they're hardly obvious positions. Our entire system of justice relies on the fact that an order to do something is equally bad as doing it firsthand (making a contract hit is first degree murder, not a question of free speech, for instance). Furthermore, the theory of Presidential blame for the actions of his political appointees is so part of our history as to make it difficult to even quantify (bay of pigs, Cambodia, teapot dome scandal, iran contra, etc etc etc etc).

Your arguments amount to that the President has defenses that should be considered. It does not amount to that the President has absolute defenses and thus the issues should be ignored. Whether the Convention applies is (I guess) an open question (though only a minority of people, all Bush defenders, argue that it doesn't) - whether that, and that alone, makes following orders that Americans find abhorrant justified is not a relevant or related inquiry. In either event, that a question is open does not mean that there's no story, it just means that this would be part of such story.

And that a program is "still classified" does not render it not a story, given that alot of evidence about the story is available - including the underreported evidence that AT*T was providing, without a warrant, the government with data of all calls and internet communications, regardless of whether it was completely domestic or had a foreign element.

In other words, your defense of the press for not reporting stories damaging to Bush is only that there's another side, not that there's no story. And in doing so, it isn't a defense at all, just an argument that the media's bias isn't a complete proof for the underlying (substantive) case against Bush. Okay, so what?
4.10.2006 3:31pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Actually just about everyone who understands the Conventions knows that as written and adopted by the United States, they do not apply to the terrorists/insurgents/freedom fighters in Iraq. They are illegal combatants fighting out of uniform, targetting civilians, and using the civilian population for cover.

Protocol II might apply to them, but we haven't signed onto that yet, and it isn't adopted under "customary international law."
4.10.2006 3:36pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Anyone know which group first coined the phrase "flip-flop?"

No.

Was it used prior to the 2004 election?

Are you ten years old? I have heard it used in every election I can remember —- going back to 1984, when Gary Hart was called a flip-flopper. The fact that you are this ignorant makes it very hard to take your opinions seriously on anything. But, you must be right that the MSM is biased against conservatives —— now run back to mommy and start crying again.
4.10.2006 3:43pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
What do you do when you're NOT being an ass on these forums, GC?
4.10.2006 3:45pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
What do you do when you're NOT being an ass on these forums, GC?

I speak with my cronies in the MSM and we all discuss how we can get the republicans, such as portray Hillary Clinton as a liberal, or spread stories about Bill Clinton raping people or lauding his impeachment.

Keep crying Daniel -- it serves you and your fellow conservative travellers well.
4.10.2006 3:49pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Just out of curiosity... do you really think people take you seriously? Hell even people that might agree with you probably think you're an embarrassment. I wonder what you could possibly hope to accomplish by posting here other than to drag the level of discourse down to the point where people stop reading.

On that note, I'm going to return to my habit of skipping past everything you write before I get accused of egging you on.
4.10.2006 3:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

No there aren't. There are endless blogposts. The media has mostly ignored any connection that Abu Gharib and GB had to the President.
It is easy to ignore a connection which has no written documents, and where no one is saying that they were given orders to do these things. Maybe the connection is all in your mind?
4.10.2006 3:57pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Let me echo Jacob’s comments in that I too fail to see the crime in journalists getting something right which they previously got wrong.
So how do you know which time they got it right, and which time they got it wrong? If you have a mechanism for determining truth that is only right half the time, it is a mechanism in need of serious review.

In fact, the reason the MSM was so big on McCain back in 2000 was that he was considerably more pro-gun control than Bush was, and gun control, like abortion and homosexuality, is an issue that causes the MSM's collective insect brain to go into reflexive fawning mode.

Because most MSM reporters can't understand any of the arguments against restrictive gun control (assuming that they have even heard them), or against abortion on demand, or gay marriage, they assume that anyone that doesn't share their views is a knuckle-dragging idiot.

This, by the way, is one of the distinguishers between the two ends of the spectrum. Most conservatives think that liberals are evil; most liberals think that conservatives are stupid and uneducated. In fact, the difference is largely a matter of values. Conservatives and liberals both believe that the government has a responsibility to use coercion as a tool for achieving laudable goals--they just disagree about what those goals are. (For those liberals who insist that they do not support governmental coercion to achieve laudable goals: welfare; gun control; environmental regulation; minimum wage laws; anti-discrimination laws; affirmative action laws; smoking bans--just start going through the organization chart for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.)

This difference in values reflects the differing life experiences that people suffer or enjoy. A whole generation was so traumatized by Vietnam that they are going to be liberals until the day they die--forever convinced that U.S. foreign policy is both incompetent and evil. I have cousins and older siblings stuck in 1968 for this reason. Some of that generation's kids have bought into these ideas, but in general, the generation 40 and under is much more diverse in their ideas on this than the Flower Power generation.

I moved from libertarian, with some conservative leanings (especially on foreign policy) to conservative, with some libertarian leanings largely because my life experiences trying to raise kids in that stinking cesspool of evil called the San Francisco Bay Area. I doubt that I am alone. I suspect that some people who grew up in the Midwest are big proponents of gay marriage because they just can't imagine why anyone could be as narrow-minded as Mom and Dad.
4.10.2006 4:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Are you ten years old? I have heard it used in every election I can remember —- going back to 1984, when Gary Hart was called a flip-flopper.
I don't know if the phrase "flip-flopper" was used, but one of the most effective commercials of the 1972 campaign showed a picture of George McGovern on a pin. They would quote something that McGovern had said during the primaries (when he was talking left, to get votes from the highly disaffected left of the Democratic Party), rotate the picture on the pin, and quote something that he said during the general election campaign (when he was talking centrist, to get votes from the Silent Majority).

I was a Nixon backer, but reluctantly, because of Nixon's enthusiastic support of Keynesian economics and wage and price controls. I found the ad persuasive and effective.

One of the great problems of partisan primaries is that it really encourages flip-flopping--or at least candidates shading their answers, depending on their audience. Remember that full, thoughtful, carefully examined truth is almost antithetical to any election campaign.

I remember back in 1988 watching Pete DuPont and some Democrat from the Southwest (can't remember which) both engage in outrageous acts of truth-telling--and in both cases, they had to drop out of the race within a week. DuPont said that making Social Security means-tested was the only realistic solution to the developing crisis. Obviously, people with $100,000 a year incomes have far less need for a Social Security check than people living on cat food.

I can't remember what the Democrat's outrageous piece of truth-telling was, but he answered a question before some special interest group, and gave an honest answer that didn't make them happy--and splat! Away he went!
4.10.2006 4:22pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
It's only a matter of time before they remind everyone he will be 72 in 2008 and he has survived cancer.
4.10.2006 5:07pm
Vovan:
Just out of curiosity... do you really think people take you seriously? Hell even people that might agree with you probably think you're an embarrassment. I wonder what you could possibly hope to accomplish by posting here other than to drag the level of discourse down to the point where people stop reading.

I fully support comments made by Greedy Clerk. Keep posting man.

My personal opinion is that media should scrutinize every candidate as much as possible, if McCain gets drilled hard on the issues, thats better for the 1% of the electorate who actually votes on the issues. The others just pick the larger codpiece
4.10.2006 5:46pm
eng:

As a result, the media becomes a world of he said, she said, even if one party's view of the facts is completely incredulous.

Ironically, isn't this what the media strives to accomplish? Insert quote from side a; Insert quote from side b. Call the article a wrap.

I think it is ridiculous--certainly I'm not interested in reading unopinionated news. There simply isn't the time. No, when I buy "news" I want to buy analysis and review, not the same garbage I can get merely by polling my co-workers.

The media has been killing itself for years attempting to deliver a product no-one wants: "neutral reporting". They tried to make up for the problem by making it more sensational--but really this isn't what people actually care to pay money (or time watching ads) for either.
4.10.2006 6:01pm
Chris of MM (mail) (www):

The fact that MSM is to the right of Kos doesn't tell us anything about where MSM actually is.


No, it doesn't, but study after study after study after study does: the mainstream media is pretty firmly entrenched in the center with no systematic bias. Of course, the belief that there is a bias is so entrenched, particularly among conservatives, that no amount of empirical evidence will dissuade most of you. Generally, citing empirical data gets three responses: the studies were undertaken by liberal academics with an agenda; cite the Groseclose &Milyo study, arguing that one study, with a seriously flawed methodology (as detailed in the literature and at Media Matters), overrules all the others; or simply saying, "I don't care what the studies say; all you have to do is look at the coverage to see that it's biased!"

Here's a sampling. Feel free to check them out (at least some of them are online), and if you want more, let me know. I've got at least a dozen more:

Woodard, J.D. (1994). Coverage of elections on evening television news shows: 1972-1992. In A.H. Miller &B.E. Gronbeck (Eds.), Presidential Campaigns and American Self Images. Boulder, CO: Westview; Mantler, G., &Whiteman, D. (1995). Attention to candidates and issues in newspaper coverage of 1992 presidential campaign. Newspaper Research Journal, 169(3), 14-28; Domke, D., Fan, D.P, Fibison, M., Shah, D.V., Smith,S.S., &Watts, M.D. (1997). News media, candidates and issues, and public opinion in the 1996 presidential campaign. Journalism &Mass Communication Quarterly, 74, 718-737; Shah, D.V., Watts, M.D., Domke, D., Fan, D.P., &Fibison, M. (1999). News coverage, economic cues, and the public's presidential preferences: 1984-1995. Journal of Politics, 61, 914-943; Waldman, P., &Devitt, J. (1998). Newspaper photographs and the 1996 presidential election: The question of bias. Journalism &Mass Communication Quarterly, 75, 302-311; D'Alessio, D., &Allen, M. (2000). Media bias in presidential elections: A meta-analysis. Journal of Communication, 50(4), 133-156.
4.10.2006 6:12pm
eng:

No, it doesn't, but study after study after study after study does: the mainstream media is pretty firmly entrenched in the center with no systematic bias.

You should read about the philosophy of praxeology before adopting a tone as if people who reject those studies are necessarily being irrational, inconsistent, or otherwise unreasonable. Praxeology entails a deep suspicion of the applying methods developed for the physical sciences in the context of the social sciences. That is, statistical study is not an appropriate tool for discerning how people behave because there are too many confounding effects of circumstance such that a controlled study is not in practice possible.
4.10.2006 6:31pm
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
eng, oh, that's a new response! reject the social sciences altogether! wonderful. I'll add that to my list.
4.10.2006 6:50pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Swing and a miss.
4.10.2006 6:50pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Just out of curiosity... do you really think people take you seriously?

In real life, I think I am quite respected by those whom I work with and for, and I would be very surprised if you are "more respected" in your field than I. As to my "cyber-identity" here (with a screen-name that is outdated by about two years - the "clerk" party), I assume I am as respected as anyone who chooses to remain anonymous can be.

Hell even people that might agree with you probably think you're an embarrassment.

Why don't you go this linked google cache of a commments thread after I was temporarily banned (apparently "accidentally") by another VC poster who didn't like my comments. Apparently I do have some fans, including Orin ---- maybe they all disagree with me though. Do you think if you were banned, there would have been such an outpore??? Doubt people would even notice (and that's not the only thread here that spoke of it).
4.10.2006 7:32pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
In fact, the reason the MSM was so big on McCain back in 2000 was that he was considerably more pro-gun control than Bush was, and gun control, like abortion and homosexuality, is an issue that causes the MSM's collective insect brain to go into reflexive fawning mode.

Clayton, that is just dead wrong. McCain was more liked by the media (and I agree he was) than Bush (who himself was very liked by the media -- definitely more than Gore who they skewered regularly) because McCain was very fun to cover. He always says pretty crazy things and his comments work perfectly for 15 second soundbites on the evening news and on NPR, etc.


Speaking of crazy things McCain has said, remember that he once called Chelsea Clinton -- then a teenager in high school -- ugly and made a joke about her ugliness at a press dinner. Now, give me an f---ing break! If someone had said that about Barb or the other coke-sniffing drunk fun-loving twin, the media would have hung them up on a stick and roasted them. They would be talking about how the Democrats have no class, etc. McCain, as do a lot of other Republicans, are routinely taken more seriously and given more leeway on the f-ups than Democrats, even by "liberal" talking-heads --- who love to spew out the Karl Rove talking points that the Dems are not serious on foreign policy (this despite the fact that the clear majority of the American people agree Iraq is a disaster) and/or that the Dems do not "respect" religion (where "religion" is defined as hating gays and wanting to seize poor women's uteruses as state property (rich woman of course are allowed to have abortions), etc. etc.) The media has a liberal bias in the same sense that the Pope is Jewish. It is a great talking point for the conservatives though --- it's amazing that people like Lindgren buy into it hook, line, and sinker. Question for Jim Lindgren: who do you prefer Hannity or Limbaugh? I can't imagine you would get your news from anywhere else . . . .
4.10.2006 7:51pm
Houston Lawyer:
The media loved McCain in 2000 because he was less conservative than Bush. Bush is out of the picture, so McCain must be brought down. If the MSM get their basic facts straight, they will be doing a better job than usual.

As is pointed out above, just because the MSM is to the right of Kos, doesn't make them conservative or even centrist. The reason that we have alternative media today is because of the bias of the existing media. Nothing pisses off the left more than the fact that conservatives now have alternative means of getting the message and/or the facts out to the public.

I carry no brief for McCain. Don't trust him.
4.10.2006 8:15pm
eng:

eng, oh, that's a new response! reject the social sciences altogether! wonderful. I'll add that to my list.


That would be a straw-man version of what I just said. Praxeology recommends a deductive approach. It does accept some observational evidence for simple axioms. I think the answer to the question "Does the media have a liberal bias?" hardly qualifies as a candidate axiom suitable for to acceptance on the basis of observation alone.

Take a more specific question: "Is the media less critical of Republican or Democratic presidents?" Do tell me how you expect to be able to answer that question when:
1) We cannot take exactly the same person with the same background and history and simply relabel them as Republican or Democrat
2) We cannot rollback the state of the system and replay it so as to adjust one parameter at time
2a) Historically much time passes
2b) Current events are different
2c) The context in which an event occurs shapes perceptions
etc, etc, etc

My position is not to "reject the social sciences". It is, however, to reject the dominant Epistemology of the social sciences, but that doesn't make me a platonist.
4.10.2006 8:34pm
Justin (mail):
By your own (mostly correct) logic, Houston, all you've proven is that the media is to the left of the conservative base. Well, sure. To the degree it can be graded on left-right lines, it's somewhere between DailyKos and RedState. Yay.
4.10.2006 8:44pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
You think "Bush tortured" (which is retarded because--at most--he could have ordered torture and wouldn't we have seen that order by now if it were so) when in fact some US soldiers have tortured. How dare the press focus on the actual torturers than find (invent?) evidence of Bush's guilt?!?

Again this proves my point. This country condones torture and we just stand aside and shrug or justify it. Obviously, you didn't watch 60 minutes last night. The U.S. captured a Iraqi General, someone who is obviously covered by Geneva by even the loosest definition, even the President's (who by the way stated that all detainees in Iraq would be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions). We then proceeded to interrogate him using methods that clearly violated Geneva and the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment which ultimately led to his death. A Warrant Officer was charged in his death and received a letter of reprimand and a 6 month confinement to barracks. Apparently nobody disputed his contention that he was following orders when he tortured the General or that CIA and other non-uniformed government personnel also severely beat the General during the three week interrogation. Otherwise he would have received a much harsher sentence.

So why were none of his superiors charged? Why did 60 minutes play up the angle of a poor Warrant Officer doing his job rather than the ultimate responsibility for these gross violations of human rights? Why doesn't the lazy and compliant press not care at what level these interrogation methods are being approved and exactly what is being done in our name.

And by the way, if the president approved violations of the Geneva Conventions or illegal interrogation methods (and the Torture law covers everybody and more than just torture) then, as commander in chief, he is as guilty and culpable as the person delivering the beating. It is called command responsibility.
4.10.2006 9:16pm
Average Joe (mail):
Some bit above Greedy Clerk posted:

Shorter conservatives: Wahhhhhh, wahhhh. How dare they pick on conservatives? They treated Clinton great --- the MSM ran stories accusing Clinton him of rape, groping, the murder of Vince Foster and considered rumors that he and Hillary ran a Cocaine ring out of the Arkansas state house. Those were all in MSM outlets. What Rush and the Weekly STandard, etc., accused the guy of were more racist things, like he had a illegitimate black daughter (the key sin for conservatives being black), etc. Give mu a f---ing break.

Jim Lindgren is a whyiny little baby who pretends not to be a conservative. Wahh, wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

This comment contains an implied criticism of Jim Lindgren. I just feel obliged to point out the stark contrast between the tone of Greedy Clerk's comment and the post by Lindgren, and indeed, every post and comment that I have ever read here by Jim Lindgren. I do not agree with everything the Lindgren says, however, I think that he is a much stronger advocate of his views then is Greedy Clerk, the difference in the tone of the posts and comments being a key element in this relative strength. In addition, I find Lindgren's writing more intellectually clear cut and more pleasant to read than the writing of Greedy Clerk.
4.10.2006 10:35pm
Anonymous Koward:
Would have anyone believed five years ago that we would be so accepting of torture and warrantless wiretapping and the notion that the president is above the law which the press seems to have accepted without question?

Five years ago? Ten years ago, a lot of people believed it.
4.10.2006 10:56pm
Jacob (mail):

Hey, quick question: what was Kerry's position on the Iraq war? No, seriously. You're not one of those guys who goes around claiming that Bush was the real flip-flopper, because (hee hee) he was isolationist in 2000, but apruptly changed positions in late 2001? I always got a big laugh out of that one.

Well, Mr. L, I would say that anything as large and complex as a war requires many positions on its many facets. Seriously. One of my largest complaints with Kerry was that he didn't let us know more about his positions, so I guess you could even say he didn't have enough positions for me. But my real grudge is with anyone who can't be bothered to discuss something without resorting to political cliches, one of the many reasons you don't have to worry about me calling anyone "the real flip-flopper."

Segue...

Of course, Senator McCain has done (in my opinion) a pretty good job in getting his positions out there. And yeah, the media haven't stressed some of these positions as much as they could have (though I still managed to find out about all of them from simply reading the Times and the New Yorker).


So how do you know which time they got it right, and which time they got it wrong? If you have a mechanism for determining truth that is only right half the time, it is a mechanism in need of serious review.


Well, Clayton, I honestly don't really know what this has to do with anything (or really what it means at all). I guess you won't be joining me in handing out Good Effort gold stars to any publications, but I still don't see why one should fault them now for pegging the Senator accurately where the ball has been dropped before. I remember reading a couple lines in the New Yorker over a year ago about how McCain promised to appoint Supreme Court Justices who are pro-life if he were President, presumably to point out that he is at least as conservative as the President on this particular issue (between the lines one could read: hell, he didn't even hide behind code like "strict textualist" or "strict constructionist" or whatever the President has been using...maybe he's even MORE conservative!). One might interpret this as the liberal New Yorker simply being ahead of the rest in the "smear McCain" game. Or one might interpret this as the responsible New Yorker simply reminding us with a nudge that Senator McCain has been conservative all along, regardless of how he's been covered. I'm not soliciting pity for the poor media caught in a catch-22, but I'm pretty sure that there's no way to please Betsy and others like her at this point.
4.10.2006 11:12pm
bluecollarguy:
One would have to occupy a space to the left of the left leaning MSM to insist that the MSM does not tilt left. That space probably has entirely different laws of physics as well. Here's a study by Timothy J Groseclose, a guy with some credentials at UCLA done in 2005.

A Measure of Media Bias
4.10.2006 11:14pm
bluecollarguy:
And FWIW, it is very doubtful that Senator McCain can win the Republican Presidential primary, absent huge crossover voting. CFR, the Kennedy/McCain immigration bill and Senator McCains penchant for being the left leaning media's favorite gadfly rules him out among the true believers who vote in primaries.
4.10.2006 11:29pm
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
bluecollar, hah! one on my list. See? We social scientists (I'm really more of a behavioral scientist) can predict people's behavior.
4.10.2006 11:31pm
therut:
The MSM is liberal biased. How you say. They are liberal biased on all social issues of the day. Now they are not hard left like oh FSTV but they are socially liberal left ie gun control, gay marriage, aboriton, feminism, social justice issues, global warming, the welfare state. They are not even close to unbiased on these issues.
4.11.2006 12:40am
Jim Lindgren (mail):
Average Joe,

Thanks for the support. I find the abuse on this thread (and many threads) to be disappointing. It interferes with those trying to discuss issues.

GC,

I don't listen to either Limbaugh or Hannity. I find both hard to tolerate -- for similar, though not identical, reasons.
4.11.2006 12:45am
bluecollarguy:
Chris,

No offense but you couldn't predict rain during monsoon season. There's nothing wrong with the methodology in the Groseclose study. There is, however, something wrong with a social scientist who thinks the MSM does not lean left. Perhaps you should have taken up meterology?
4.11.2006 2:10am
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
Blue, I cited several studies, including a meta-analysis of more than a dozen studies. You cite one, which pretty much everyone in the field feels is flawed. And I predicted that people would cite it (making it clear that, while I can't predict rain during monsoon season, I can predict what you'll say in this context). So, perhaps you might take some of those insults back.
4.11.2006 2:52am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Greedy Clerk has now been banned from posting comments. I normally leave each blogger to manage their own comments, but in this instance Mr. Clerk has gone beyond the bounds of my forbearance.
4.11.2006 3:29am
eng:
Chris,

Still hoping for an explanation as to why you think this issue admits statistical study...
4.11.2006 5:03am
Johhny:
Wow, people will forget the fact the McCain is of the species politico. Of course he is kissing up to Falwell. He needs to in order to become President. He's pandering to future immigrant voters (and Hispanics) with the immigration bill. He'd sell you and anyone else out to get elected.

As for the media, sure, they're only half-way independent. The media moguls know who controls how much play the get in America. The Government. Want to control 90% of a regions news? Provide good press for the one politico who will (wink... wink...) change the rules for you. And you do that how if you are a media giant? Provide good press.

So, if McCain makes backroom deals with Rupert Murdoch or Ted Turner, he will. McCain can only lose the media base if he has nothing to offer them. Depends on who he makes the deal with though. Deal with Murdoch (likely), Turner gets angry, and vice versa. It is not like Fox News doesn't get its orders about what to say and what not to say. "Talking Points" anyone?

Remember, when Clinton was in power, the Republicans seized the Congress in 1994. Not hard to guess which party's candidate would be elected the next time around. Congress makes the laws, the President enforces them. Now we have had a one-party government for the last six years. Only now are some Republicans presenting token resistance to the system they helped create.

McCain has not lost his media base. He's the "darling" moderate Republican they all like. It is almost as if his image as a "rebel" Republican has been manufactured by a complacent, almost co-operative, media. Now that he has to pander to the powers-that-be in the Republican party is his image as an almost-Democrat-independent-Republican starting to tarnish.

Genius on his part if that is how it is all supposed to play out in order to become President of the United States. Become hated by the Republican leadership, gain a reputation as an independent thinker, be slandered by his masters, in order to gain a reputation with the American voter as not-another-politico in order to be elected! Bam, then turn out to be just like every other successful politician in pursuing your party's agenda of anti-abortion, huge deficits, corporate cash-whore, middle-class destroying, Republican who believes Jesus is guiding him to pursue more preemptive war.

My apologies for the stereotyping. Democrats can strike the last line about Jesus. Replace it with "in Mother Gaia". Apologize for that one to.
4.11.2006 8:23am
bluecollarguy:
Chris,

Here is a poll by Pew Research, not exactly a bastion of conservatism, of journalists conducted in 2004. Significantly, about 5 times more journalists self identify as liberal than those that identify as conservative.

Even more significant is the table on page 19 of the PDF link. Here is where the rubber meets the road. 68% of self identified conservative journalists could identify an especially liberal leaning news outlet and the same 68% of conservatives could identify a conservative news outlet. The liberals? Well, while 79% of liberals could identify an especially conservative news outlet only 24% of liberals could identify an especially liberal news outlet. Ideological blinders comes immediately to mind.

And so does "Mediamatters", your source for ostensibly discrediting a valid study done by Groseclose. Mediamatters Chris? :-} Come on.
4.11.2006 9:18am
Justin (mail):
Bluecollar, I don't think anybody was involved in the question of whether journalists are liberal or not - however, your evidence doesn't answer the actual question presented and is irrelevant.
4.11.2006 10:54am
Justin (mail):
Oh, and even though bluecollar your evidence is irrelevant, it is correct that it may involve ideological blinders - unless you actually believe all the studies done, in which there *is* a conservative "news outlet" (Fox News) but no liberal counterpart. In that case, the blinders are on the 68% of conservatives who misidentify a "liberal" "news outlet"
4.11.2006 11:03am
Vovan:
Greedy Clerk has now been banned from posting comments. I normally leave each blogger to manage their own comments, but in this instance Mr. Clerk has gone beyond the bounds of my forbearance.

Цензура ето великая вещь, добро пожаловать в РСФСР.
4.11.2006 12:29pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Greedy Clerk has now been banned from posting comments. I normally leave each blogger to manage their own comments, but in this instance Mr. Clerk has gone beyond the bounds of my forbearance.

Thank you.

Yours,
Wince
4.11.2006 2:43pm
Chris of MM (mail) (www):
eng, because I'm not a von Misean/Austrian, and I recognize that we can make predictions from hypotheses, and test them using multiple measures, thereby arriving at fairly strong conclusions about those hypotheses. We've been doing it for some time, with a great deal of success. Pragmatic considerations alone warrant my belief.

blue, now tell me something relevant.
4.11.2006 5:58pm
bluecollarguy:
Justin and Chris,

Irrelevant is in the eye of the beholder. I think the Pew poll is both relevant and amusing.

Cheers!
4.11.2006 8:12pm