Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Oh, that lazy media

Liz Cox Barrett, in the CJR, offers this depressing commentary:

Two reporters from big-shot newspapers were, to the certain envy of their peers everywhere, granted one-day backstage passes to the Bush campaign war room in Arlington, Virginia earlier this week. Today, the chosen two -- The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold and The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg -- share with readers the fruits of their access (and flatter the Bush camp with front-page treatment).


Both reporters demonstrate how the Bush crew seizes on a sound bite from Kerry's Boston speech, and feeds it (out of context) to a list of political reporters. (The sound bite in question is Kerry saying he is "proud" of his vote against the $87 billion to fund military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kerry actually said he is "proud" that John Edwards joined him in voting against the $87 billion "when we knew the policy had to be changed".) Gold provides an effective chronological tracking of just how the Bush camp gets its selected Kerry sound bite -- complete with spin (Kerry is "reckless") -- into the media's bloodstream.

Among the more telling moments in either piece, to Campaign Desk's mind, was the confession (old news though it is) that Rutenberg wrested from a few nameless Kerry campaign reporters. "Several journalists who cover Mr. Kerry later said they were too embarrassed to say publicly that it took the Bush operatives to spot what was notable in Mr. Kerry's remarks," Rutenberg writes, referring to Kerry's "proud" comment.

In other words, these reporters sheepishly acknowledged to Rutenberg, though not to their readers, that they are open to -- even rely on -- helpful hints from a campaign as to what is newsworthy in an opponent's speech.

Even though remarks are taken out of context, thus presenting a skewed, especially negative, picture of the opposition?

As Atrios would say: Oy.

Update: Somerby, of course, weighs in admirably.

(Thanks, hadenough.)