Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carville, Limbaugh, 9/11, Obama, and Objectivity in the News

This blog isn't political, but how news is reported does affect the War on Terror. And the curious case of Carville and Limbaugh shows, I think, how objective the old-school American news media is.

Carville and Bush: "Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!"

If you're like most Americans, you didn't know that American political consultant, commentator, and (seriously) very knowledgeable James Carville said "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed," of then-President George W. Bush.

Shortly after Mr. Carville said, "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed," Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg commented on a then-recent survey.

Seeing public misgivings about George W. Bush, Mr. Greenberg said, "We rush into these focus groups with these doubts that people have about him, and I'm wanting them to turn against him," and added: "They don't want him to fail. I mean, they think it matters if the president of the United States fails."

Carville, Greenberg, and Really Bad Timing

About that time
  • Two airliners hit New York City's World Trade Center
  • One airliner plowed into the Pentagon
  • One airliner crashed in rural Pennsylvania
  • President Bush, speaking from a Sarasota elementary school, said,
    "Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country...."
Mr. Carville then announced, "Disregard everything we just said! This changes everything!"

I don't blame Mr. Carville a bit for instructing reporters at the conference they were attending to pay no attention to what he and Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg had just said. If that little "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed" remark got out, people might misconstrue it.

Hours, days, weeks, months, and years followed. Mr. Carville's ill-timed "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed" went unpublished.

I can see why, given the values of many traditional, old-school news editors. Reporting Mr Carville's inopportune remarks would have been not only impolite, but might give readers the wrong impression about his patriotism or common sense.

Rush Limbaugh, Known Conservative, and President Barack Obama, President

Detailed reporting and analysis of known conservative Rush Limbaugh's remarks about democratically elected President Barack Obama is, of course an entirely different matter.

'Everybody knows' about "radio fat-mouth Rush Limbaugh" (guardian.co.uk). An American Chronicle writer described the radio personality as "an Obese,[!] megalomaniac and narcissist man named Rush Limbaugh."

If enjoy following politics, and don't know that Rush Limbaugh asked, "What is so strange about being honest and saying, 'I want Barack Obama to fail?' " at a recent Conservative Political Action Conference: You're just not paying attention.

I didn't find out about the Carville/Limbaugh dichotomy until today: but then, I'm not exactly a fan of politics.

Polite Reticence for Carville, Enthusiastic Reporting for Limbaugh: This is Objective?

I don't mind people having definite views on any given subject, although I prefer that the views have some connection to the world the rest of us inhabit.

I do, though, appreciate it when biases are clearly stated.

For example, I'm quite biased about the War on Terror. All things considered, I'd rather remain alive and free to worship as I choose. That makes me a far-from-impartial observer of the conflict between supporters of a particular flavor of Islam and the Muslims and non-Muslims they don't approve of.

Traditional American news media's tendency to publish all the news they want to print isn't a particularly good match with their claims of impartiality. The polite consideration they showed Mr. Carville, compared with the journalistic zeal with which they pursued Mr. Limbaugh's remark, seems anything but impartial.

Wake Up, Everybody! It's the Information Age

Happily, we don't have to depend on the ABC/CBS/NBC triumvirate, NPR, and The New York Times for news and information any more. That's a good thing, in my view, because American citizens have a say in who represents them and, to a lesser extent, the decisions those representatives make.

On the whole, as an American citizen, I'd prefer being able to get as much information as possible: not just what a handful of Yankee gentlemen in the northeast, and socially-conscious editors, think we should know.

Related posts: News and views: Background: Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

2 comments:

Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty said...

Well said.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty,

Thanks: I was, ah, impressed at the contrast in coverage.

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.