Not much to see.

Analog life beckons. I’m closing the laptop, hopping in the shower and tending to a few errands with my kid. In the meantime, thanks to Basset for sending along this modern-day horror tale of what it’s like to travel these days; I know it’s not exactly the middle passage, but jeez — so much for the glories of “the market” correcting all that was horrible about air travel, eh?

Also, happy summer solstice, at 2 p.m. eastern. This is a big day for druids. Apparently we have some here. Of course they live in Ann Arbor.

You’ll be reading a bit about this story today and, depending on the farting it provokes, perhaps for a few more. It’s about political contributions by journalists; no surprise that they lean Democratic. Some say journalists shouldn’t be contributing money to anyone, and I’ve heard of editors who forbid their staff from voting in primaries where parties must be declared, but I’m not in that camp. We’re citizens, too. We also have friendships here and there among the public-sector class, and those would seem to have more influence on news coverage than a few $100 contributions. To be sure, I’ve only given to campaigns with some trepidation, and only after reassuring myself I’ll never, ever have to write about this person in the future.

MSNBC didn’t ask me — the sting! — but here’s my full disclosure: I’ve given a total of (I think) around $300 to one candidate, Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, currently Ohio secretary of state. I’ve known her a long time, and I’d probably support her if she was a Republican, but she’s not. The fact she was swept into office in the 2006 purge of the GOP is only the cherry on the sundae. Part of her job is ensuring that elections are conducted fairly in the Buckeye state, and after the fiasco of 2004 we learned that Larry, Curly and Moe could have done a better job than the previous occupant, who had the nerve to run for governor last year on the faith ‘n’ family values platform. Ha ha, that one was a loser. It turns out the public preferred “competence” and elected Jennifer. Go, Jennifer. Now you know.

UPDATE: Mitch Harper has more on the Fort Wayne angle — two of my former colleagues are in the MSNBC story. It also reminded me I gave some money ($100, I think) to Tom Hayhurst’s unsuccessful congressional campaign last fall. But that’s definitely it. I am a penniless freelancer; I just don’t have the bucks for much of this sort of thing.

Posted at 8:29 am in Same ol' same ol' |

34 responses to “Not much to see.”

  1. Casey said on June 21, 2007 at 9:16 am

    did you see this yet? I love the last phrase describing her conviction. (from my weekly email from GPNEws (although I don’t subscribe)

    South’s choir teacher given a sus! pension
    Grosse Pointe South High School choir teacher Ellen Bowen was indefinitely suspended after being convicted May 22 in a Grosse Pointe Park municipal court of assault and battery and being an annoying person.

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  2. Kirk said on June 21, 2007 at 9:37 am

    I, a newspaperman, vote in partisan primaries and have declared both parties over the years. I probably have voted in about twice as many Democratic primaries as Republican. I was challenged by a cranky poll worker once; I had to sign a form that indicated I had “changed my philosophies” or some such nonsense. It was such a big deal that she had me sign it in pencil. And she did let me vote.

    My political donation history: In 1972, as a college student, I donated $5 to the McGovern campaign and wore the button. I have contributed nothing to any campaign since.

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  3. brian stouder said on June 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

    the most striking thing in that msnbc article (to me) was the sentence

    A CNN reporter gave $500 to John Kerry’s campaign the same month he was embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

    I have no problem with anyone – whatever their career is – contributing money to campaigns or otherwise taking an active part in the political process.

    And in particular – HUZZAH!! and BRAVO!! to any reporter who is embedded with an active combat unit of the United States military, for also taking part in our political process!!

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  4. Danny said on June 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

    Right you are, Nance, Not much that should surprise anybody. It’s axiomatic: the press leans heavily liberal. But its not so much the contribution in money as the contribution in bias that tends to (mis)inform everything from the way that stories are covered to which ones are covered at all. Countless examples could be cited.

    And then bringing it to a local level here at NN.C, there is “Moderate” Nance, who in recent months has agreed with someone who referred to Fred Thompson as an “old farting dog” and you who wrote that Alberto Gonzales should be drawn and quartered, but let your sole comment on the William Jefferson corruption case be that Fox News mistakenly identified him as John Corzine (proving racism?!?).

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  5. nancy said on June 21, 2007 at 11:21 am

    Jeez, Danny, do I have to have an opinion on everything? OK, how’s this: William Jefferson is a thievin’ piece of shit. Bad, bad William Jefferson. Elected officials shouldn’t be corrupt, and he’s a bad, corrupt man.

    Ask Ashley about him; at least he lives in Louisiana.

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  6. brian stouder said on June 21, 2007 at 11:24 am

    do I have to have an opinion on everything?


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  7. MarkH said on June 21, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Actually, Danny, it was Michigan congressman John CONYERS, who got confused with Jefferson, but who’s really looking anyway. Everyone looks alike these days.

    Oh, and just t be fair, about two weeks ago, ABC mis-identified former DC mayor and drug user Marion Barry as the federal judge who is p****d at the dry cleaners for messing up his $54 Million pants.

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  8. Danny said on June 21, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Thanks, Mark!

    Nance, not trying to get in a pissing match here. My comment was germane to the post today. I think a lot of people who would identify themselves as “moderate,” would surprise themselves on closer self-examination.

    And Ashley has repeatedly asked us to pay attention to the plight of Louisiana, post-Katrina. Just thought you would have said more about one of their biggest problems being inept and corrupt local and state officials.

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  9. alex said on June 21, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Danny, I think a lot of people who are ultraconservative surprise us moderates when they accuse us of being leftists. They seem to think because they wrap themselves in God and the flag that they are the mainstream and they are incapable of seeing it any other way because they are incapable of self-examination.

    As for Mitch Harper’s post, I think the MSNBC piece proves nothing except that MSNBC is still trying to outFOX FOX by playing up the myth of the liberal media for the benefit of right-wingers who think anyone who doesn’t agree with them fully on absolutely every issue is a leftist. The copy editors at the News-Sentinel who gave money to Democrats have absolutely no influence on the paper’s editorial bias, which as we know is quite a bit right of center.

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  10. brian stouder said on June 21, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Plus, a Democrat from Indiana is a Republican almost anywhere else (think Evan Bayh)

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  11. colleen said on June 21, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    The thing that always kind of bugs me is the idea that those of us in the media are incapable of separating our own beliefs from covering the story. My own experience has been that when someone feels really strongly about a topic she/he is covering, that person makes extra effort to present a non biased report.

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  12. Kirk said on June 21, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Amen to that, Colleen. The people who accuse us of letting our politics color our work are calling us dishonest, and I get tired of (and take offense at) that old crap.

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  13. Danny said on June 21, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Kirk/Colleen, you may not particpate in the dishonesty, but Dan Rather certainly did.

    Then I look at how the LA Times and to a lesser extent, the NYT, are covering the illegal immigration issue. They are DEFINITELY letting their bias overwhelm honest reporting. It is a shame.

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  14. alex said on June 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Well what is it about the LA Times and the NY Times that’s dishonest with regard to this issue, Danny? The fact they’re not taking your hard line?

    As for Dan Rather, he gets booted for not thoroughly vetting some questionable documents, but the people at fair and balanced FOX never get shitcanned when they deliberately report falsehoods like the one about Barack Obama attending a “madrassa” school.

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  15. Kirk said on June 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Complainers also are often loath to give us credit for being human. Not that I’m proud of it, but the nature of the business is that we do make mistakes now and then. They are not the result of elaborate conspiracies; they are simply mistakes — but try convincing some of the callers. Of course, some folks think that we purposely rigged the presses so that extra drop of ink would blot out the president’s face in their copy of the paper.

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  16. Howie said on June 21, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Everyone wants to call themselves moderate, and we all probably are. Unity 08, anyone? It might take some time to actually listen to each other, but more of the same polarization doesn’t excite me.

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  17. Danny said on June 21, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    OK, here are two examples. The LA Times, over a year ago, made an editorial decison to no longer use terms like “illegal alien.” Instead they started referencing “undocumented guest workers.” Since then, they have relinquished somewhat, but they were really trying for the Orwell award.

    The NYT ran a story about a week ago with pictures of two people who are against the new amnesty bill. Both were odd looking and one didn’t have a full set of teeth. The subtext was obvious: only backwards idiots are against this thing.

    So Alex, I know you got Nance’s back and all of that (and truly, I like Nancy too and am not trying to mess with her), but I really don’t understand your obvious maligning of me and my opinions. I make no excuses for where I stand on issues and I am often correct and when I am not, I admit it. If, OTOH, you or Nancy or anyone else wants to assert “moderate” credentials, why not let your own words be the proof and when they are not, why not admit it. It would be refreshing. Would it not?

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  18. brian stouder said on June 21, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    assert “moderate” credentials

    I think “moderate” would be more a summation of a person’s range of beliefs (think of those 25 question internet quizzes where you rate things on a scale of 1-10, and then it arbitrarily labels you)

    Honestly – this issue of what newsies “really believe” (based on contributions to political campaigns) strikes me as flat and meaningless. If 90% of them gave money to Hamas – THEN the story would mean something.

    But recall – John Kerry (for example) campaigned on the idea of a massive INCREASE in US troop strength in Iraq…. so indeed, what DOES it mean that a reporter embedded with an in-country US combat unit contributed money to the Kerry campaign? (an honest question – I have no real idea what that is supposed to mean)

    By way of saying, supporting main-stream Republicans or Democrats strikes me as essentially (and inescapably) “moderate”

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  19. alex said on June 22, 2007 at 6:22 am

    I’m not sure what bona fides you’re looking for, Danny, or why I should have to prove anything to you or anybody else. I’m pretty clear about where I stand on things. I’m an independent voter who votes in both kinds of primaries depending on which party has the better slate of candidates. And I resent it when extremists on either side accuse me of apostasy simply because I think for myself and refuse to fall in line and goose-step to their one-dimensional world views.

    In the instance you cite above, “illegal alien” has become a highly charged word in a large segment of the population. So has “civil war” with regard to Iraq and they avoid that scrupulously as well. On balance, I think they’re doing a great job of dancing on eggshells without breaking too many.

    And as for news photography being objective, well those people were there and that’s what they looked like. It would be just as “dishonest” if the photographer sought out only the most beautiful people in the crowd. Sometimes, Dr. Freud, a banana is just a banana.

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  20. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Y’all need to calm down. I mean, come on, Danny, you know that conservatives can show their bias as well as anyone else. And the rest of you know that it can happen with liberals as well.

    And Kirk and anyone else who works in the media, you are aware that there are those who are not as professional and/or ethical in their work as you are. Bad apples and all that.

    Now. Speaking of the guy with missing teeth, the NYT public editor actually addressed that in an interesting column on Sunday. It’s here.

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  21. Kirk said on June 22, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Bad apples? No doubt.
    An orchard full of evil conspirators? Ridiculous.
    We don’t have time for that; we’re too busy trying to teach folks how to make subjects and verbs agree.

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  22. nancy said on June 22, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Part of the problem, Danny, and part of the reason people tend to go from zero-to-60 on this issue so quickly, is the tendency (on the right) to link “Democratic” with “liberal” without even questioning what the word means. The two Democrats I supported financially are hardly raving liberals — both are sober, hard-working, middle-class professionals who would likely have passed for Republicans 40 years ago, or even 30. Both, however, have an unwillingness to pander shamelessly to the hard right, an act that bears a great deal of resemblance to the oft-mentioned kowtowing to unions that Democrats used to do. (And still do, but not as enthusiastically.)

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  23. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 8:18 am

    Kirk–be glad you don’t work for the Palm Beach Post. I’ve never read such poorly written columns as I did while on vacation.

    Here’s an example.

    Just call me the link lady today.

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  24. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Hey, Nancy, did I fall into spam just now? That’s probably about the worth of my comment, anyway.

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  25. nancy said on June 22, 2007 at 8:24 am

    Yeah, I think the filter thought “Palm Beach Post” was a new model of Fleshlight, or somethin’.

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  26. Kirk said on June 22, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Marcia, you’re right. That person needed a lot of help and didn’t get it. And there’s nothing like starting a story with a convoluted paragraph that has nothing to do with the rest of the drivel.

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  27. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Okay, I didn’t know what a Fleshlight was. Always an education at NNC.

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  28. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Look, I was gone from the comments for a week. Consider today’s domination to be payback.

    On top of that, I’m going to be off-topic. Sort of.

    So, Kirk, Nancy, and any other newspaper folk: I’ve been interviewed twice as a “concerned mother” sort of reader; once by the Hilliard Northwest News over a busing issue, and once by the Dispatch regarding the HPV vaccine.

    In both cases, the meat of my arguments were entirely left out. It was embarrassing. I had valid points to make, but in both articles I was relegated to quotes that made me sound like nothing more than a whining parent.

    It certainly colors the way I view interviews since then. I can no longer write people off as idiots, as I don’t know if they’ve merely been edited to death.

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  29. brian stouder said on June 22, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I can no longer write people off as idiots


    (to paraphrase that one redneck comedian)

    YOU may be an idiot!

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  30. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Probably. But at least I have all of my teeth.

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  31. brian stouder said on June 22, 2007 at 10:00 am

    But at least I have all of my teeth.


    See, your photo would lend credibility to the story (sharp career woman), so that even though you could be an idiot, I’d buy what you were saying.

    It’s all so unfair!!

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  32. nancy said on June 22, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Marcia, the conflict you’re describing is as old as the cavemen. Ug says one thing, Ogg hears another. Ever play telephone? Ever fight with your husband or kid? “You’re not hearing what I’m saying!” Does this sound familiar to you?

    Which doesn’t excuse bad journalism, but you have to understand that a reporter and a source go into an interview with two different agendas. The reporter is out to write a story, and what you have to say may or may not fit with what s/he has to write. Even worse, it may not fit with what he thinks the story should be. (Yes, yes, you should do your reporting first and then figure out what the story is, but remember how they taught you in junior high how a bill becomes a law, and then you learned how it really works? It’s like that.)

    This is why PR agencies exist, and why there are consultants who teach frequently interviewed people how to give (and not give) good quote, how to steer an interview in the direction you want it to go, how to stay on message.

    It’s no consolation, but it happens to virtually everyone who gets quoted in the newspaper. Frequently you’ll say, “I sound like an idiot,” but others reading the same story won’t think so. It happens.

    Glenn Fleishman wrote a pretty good letter to Romenesko on the subject not long ago, after a high-profile internet executive announced he would no longer be interviewed via anything other than e-mail. Don’t know if it helps, but hey, there you are.

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  33. Marcia said on June 22, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Ug says one thing, Ogg hears another. But that’s not what I’m describing. Ogg heard everything I said, but decided only to publish part of it.

    I, of course, thought the Dispatch piece would have been a more compelling argument had she included what I wanted her to include, but hey, she’s paid for this, not me.

    As far as interviewing by email, she read my whole blog post on the issue before she ever called me. I would think she could have found any mother on the street to provide the quotes she ended up printing, though.

    I’m not really trying to make a point; I just wondered what you would say about it.

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  34. Kirk said on June 22, 2007 at 10:51 am

    It’s not a new complaint, unfortunately. What Nancy said. I’m curious who the reporter was. If you feel like telling me, you can e-mail me at the Big D.

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