Saturday, September 20, 2008

The fundamentals of our media are strong.

As Wall Street takes a bitter turn down the road of an economic meltdown on Monday, the boys on the bus went in for their daily fix of wise words from their good old nominees.

And the soundbite of the week goes to...John McCain for making a
whoopsy by saying, "the fundamentals of our economy is strong."

Too easy! But of course, the floodgates opened for Obama spokesmen and reporters to go in for the kill. In his Huffington Post
article, Sam Stein suggests McCain should refine his messages. A similar trend in Don Frederick's LA Times article. Only a few paragraphs later is the second part of the sentence mentioned, "these are very, very difficult times." Anyone reminded of lipstick on pigs, here?

Are journalists simply quoting (or misquoting) politcians pointblank without question? Or maybe it's just more fun to skew the words around for some sort of reaction. Last week it was Obama sounding sexist. This week, it's McCain sounding unrealistic (and even a little senile) about our deterioating economy.

According to Larry Gellman's Huffington Post article, "
Journalists of America -- Your Country Needs you Now," fair and accurate reporting is dead. Republicans can spit out a few lies and watch the poison trickle down to readers.

Journalists, you can claim your objectivity all you want, but by blindly reiterating what a politician says, you are just hurting your readers, in a time where they need you the most.

As Gellman says, what happened to the days of good journalism when reporters like Woodward and Bernstein pursued nothing but the truth during the Watergate Scandal?


Will Marshall said...

Interesting post. Sounds like you're saying that journalists aren't digging hard enough in their critiques of the candidates. While I agree, I don't think the press is required to go off looking for some profound analysis for every story. Sometimes candidates say things that is ready made fodder for journalists and I don't blame them for taking the easy way out.

As Professor Dery mentioned in class, investigate reporting is expensive and often doesn't yield any results. Why pay to dig for bullshit when there's all the bullshit your heart could desire delivered to your door every morning for free?

I think it's right that McCain gets crucified for saying that foundations of the economy was strong. I'd think something was wrong with the press if they didn't raise a ruckus about it.

M. Dery said...

Cindy, I'm a little lost, here. Can't quite untangle the thread of your argument. You argue that the thresher sharks in the newsmedia, rolling their jaws at the prospect of fresh meat, took McCain's comment about the fundamentally sound nature of the economy out of context. (By the way, did he really say "fundamentals" [plural] "is" [singular], as you quote him?) Had they quoted him in full, noting that "these are very, very difficult times," you suggest, his judgment of the "fundamentals" would have made sense. But isn't this one of the key differences between the candidates, as Obama maintained during the debate? That McCain, like Bush, believes---in the face of every fact to the contrary, some would argue---that the Reaganomics of trickle-down capitalism and radical deregulation (get the government off our backs!) is still a viable philosophy, whereas Obama thinks these ideas are bankrupt? If so, and---more to the point---if McCain's insistence that the fundamentals are "sound" when recent developments prove otherwise, isn't it the media's job to point out that the facts do not accord with McCain's assertion?
By my lights, your analogy to the bogus spin of "lipstick on a pig" fails; this is a case of the media finally doing its job, whereas the manufactured controversy surrounding the lipstick comment---a common idiom, repeatedly used by McCain himself---is an example of media simply acting as unpaid publicists for the McCain campaign, uncritically repeated the charge that Obama is a misogynist.
And: How are journalists "misquoting" McCain, here? Did he or did he not say what they allege he said?