Yearly Archives: 2019

The political media needs to get over its fetish for conflict and cheesy clickbait

The only thing that a lot of the Washington journalism crowd could talk and write about after Thursday night’s Democratic president debate was the fighting. It's like they've learned nothing from the 2016 campaign.

Covering Trump’s impeachment, the Washington Post and the Associated Press best the New York Times

I compared impeachment coverage from the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Associated Press on these three criteria: How did they assess and convey the significance of the act of impeachment? How did they describe the nature of the floor debate? What did they consider most newsworthy about Trump’s campaign rally?

Even six pages of loony ranting can’t bring journalists to question Trump’s mental state

The livid, unhinged six-page rant full of lies, hyperbole, wild accusations, and self-pity that Donald Trump put on official letterhead on impeachment eve was an extraordinary gift to news organizations that have hesitated until now to address Trump’s mental state. But they still didn't go there.

The New York Times’s political coverage has completely imploded at the worst possible time

The New York Times’s three-year struggle to sustain its reporting algorithms, built for two political parties that have comparable relationships to reality, collapsed into sordid heap of nonsense over the weekend.

Democrats who are undecided on impeachment aren’t ‘moderates’. They’re political hacks.

What should we call those few Democratic congressional representatives who claim they haven’t decided yet how to vote on impeachment? You could call them unprincipled, opportunistic, cowardly, spineless, vacillating, fainthearted, jittery, or dissolute. Or, if you are a member of the elite political press, you could call them “moderates” and “centrists.”

Another ridiculously credulous Trump headline – and article — from the New York Times* (*also maybe wrong)

Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman accepted what White House officials said about a new executive order on face value. But their report, stating that Trump would order Judaism to be interpreted as a nationality, lacked appropriate skepticism about the motives behind the move -- and maybe about its meaning as well.

In the war on truth, the press can’t be an innocent bystander

Yes, Peter Baker of the New York Times, truth was on trial on Monday, as you wrote in your lede, but your job was not to throw up your hands and wink, it was to shout the truth from the rooftops, and you failed.

Obama knew better: A quick reader’s guide to accompany the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers

Obama’s culpability is unique in that unlike Bush and Trump, who can reasonably plead a certain degree of ignorance and stupidity, he knew better. He almost certainly knew the war in Afghanistan was unwinnable when he was campaigning for the presidency in 2007 and 2008, but took a hawkish view, unlike his view of the war in Iraq, so that he couldn’t be cast as a dove. Then he sent more soldiers to die there -- in fact, more than half of all the soldiers who died there.

Trump says don’t trust anonymous sources – and he’s not all wrong

In a White House awash in chaos, misdirection, and lies, can anyone be counted on to tell the truth? Readers certainly shouldn't trust anonymous sources just because a reporter quotes them.

Naming names: A list of reporters guilty of treating the faux outrage over Barron Trump seriously

Law professor Pam Karlan's mention of Barron Trump's name was seized upon by the Trump team as an opportunity to gin up faux outrage and distract from the serious Constitutional issues about Trump’s abuse of power and Congress’s obligation to act. Some reporters let themselves get played. Shame on them.

After 18 years of submission, Congress rolls out the big gun

Ever since the 9/11 terror attacks, Congress has been engaged in a wholesale ceding of power to the presidency. So reasserting itself would be a huge course change. But law professor Michael Gerhardt on Wednesday made the case that it has no choice.

Why did the Washington Post and the New York Times race so hard after a trial balloon from Bill Barr?

The Washington Post "broke" the story. The New York Times chased it. But was it worth giving sources anonymity in order to dutifully report what was effectively a trial balloon previewing possible spin from Bill Barr's Justice Department? And why was it worth chasing?

Yes, America is divided. The real story is how, why, and who benefits

Republicans vs. Democrats is too simplistic. There are more interesting, significant and enlightening ways to examine the rifts in our political culture, starting with the divide these days is between people who still believe in facts, and people who don’t. And you have to explain how it got that way.

#TalkingTurkey Yes, please confront your know-nothing relatives over Thanksgiving – and report back

Everybody says don’t fight about politics over the family Thanksgiving dinner table – and people rarely do. But I think it’s your national duty to do exactly that – and to report back. Especially if you make any headway with your reality-denying MAGA relatives.

Soledad O’Brien’s critique of a Pence puff piece sets off anti-NPR Twitter frenzy

NPR's 11-minute report on Pence, by “Morning Edition” co-host Rachel Martin, was profoundly empty of skepticism about either Pence’s emerging role in the Ukraine scandal or the ostensible central topic: his “political path shaped by faith.” When Soledad O’Brien called it out, she roused a Twitter rampage against the public radio network that is widely considered liberal, but engages in epic both-siderism.