Blaming the Media

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Andrew Sullivan responds to my post from yesterday here (and handpicks a correspondent who—surprise!—agrees with him here) and manages to ignore my main criticism: His attacks on the supposedly "supine" media, in his strained comparison of John McCain to Vladimir Putin, are silly. Sullivan writes that the media's response to the Palin media embargo (which we both agree is wrong) "is the most appalling dereliction of duty by the press that I have ever seen in my adult life…I'm simply staggered at how supine the press has become. They are being deferent and giving the benefit of the doubt to the people who told us there were WMDs in Iraq. Imagine that." And today he breathlessly writes that "The press is complicit is an appalling dereliction of duty. Duty." Duty, I tells ya!

I'm not sure exactly what Sullivan thinks the press should do in such a situation, short of hiring Patty Hearst and Cinque to extraordinarily render Palin to MSNBC studios.  My point, which was pretty clear, was that in Putin's Russia the press is "supine" for entirely different reasons, and any comparison between a government that controls the news media and terrorizes its critics with the current Palin media blackout is simply bizarre. And no, this isn't even a "taste" of what Putin's Russia is like.

But Sullivan ignores this (and fails to include the bit where I point out that I "broadly agree with [him] that keeping Sarah Palin from interacting with the media is pretty infuriating"), preferring to set fire to a straw man.

Sullivan also advises Obama to "hang in" there, assuring him that the "Hysteria will end at some point." And yes, the irony seems completely lost on him.

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  1. Absolutely the most appalling use of hyperbole that any human being has ever witnessed in the history of the universe, or that any sentient being has ever witnessed in the entire history of all possible dimensions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Is it really that confusing what he’s asking for?

    Sullivan wants the media to actually call her on talking points like how she’s for reform, how she was for the bridge to nowhere, how she’s a fiscal conservative, etc. Instead of, like, how her daughter is pregnant or whatever.

  3. I’m simply staggered at how supine the press has become

    Yeah, Andy, let me know when they get around to looking at Obama’s impoverished, abandoned family in Kenya the way they’ve looked at Palin’s kids.

    Palin needs a week or so to get totally familiar with the details of geopolitics, because the MSM is already pushing the “dumb” meme (Repubs are always either dumb or mean, except when they’re both) and if she starts talking about campaigning in 57 states or how much she loves New Pennsylvania, they aren’t going to gloss over it the way they did for Obama.

  4. They are being deferent and giving the benefit of the doubt to the people who told us there were WMDs in Iraq.

    Wait, Sarah Palin works for the CIA?

  5. I’m simply staggered at how supine the press has become

    Yeah, because they are all normally just pit bulls (with lipstick?) and go after every politician, such as Obama or McCain, with the ferocity and tenacity of Whitney Houston chasing down a line of coke. But just in this case, they have inexplicably turned into puppies.

    Mm’kay.

  6. Sullivan also advises Obama to “hang in” there, assuring him that the “Hysteria will end at some point.” And yes, the irony seems completely lost on him.

    This one’s gold, Moynihan. Seriously. Props.

  7. In Putin’s Russia, media supines *you*.

  8. What the rest of the media is trying to ignore (dare I say “again”?) is that The National Enquirer has been on the ground…Snooping.

    http://www.nationalenquirer.com/_palin_family_shockers_what_sarahs_really_hiding/celebrity/65407

  9. kt,

    Michael’s point is not that the press shouldn’t look into these things. He actually stated more than once that agrees with what Sullivan is “asking for.” His point was that it is more than a little over-the-top to compare this to Putin’s relationship to the media in Russia. Palin may not be a great leader, but she probably hasn’t had Alaskan journalists executed and dumped on the side of the road. Unless the journalist was a moose …

  10. handpicks a correspondent who-surprise!-agrees with him

    Just like MSNBC!
    But Olbermann & Co. aren’t really journalists, are they.

  11. Did I miss the part where we passed a law that says that candidates must talk to the media? I suppose it is a good idea to talk to the media, but isn’t that really up to Palin? What if a candidate, Palin or otherwise, said that they were not going to talk the media under any circumstnaces. Would Sullivan think that they should be forced to? Last I looked Palin is still a citizen of the US and is free to talk to whomever she wants. Beyond reporting that she won’t talk them, I don’t see where the media can or should do much beyond that.

    It is interesting how people project their own tendencies on to their political advasaries. The reality is that Sullivan is advocating a pretty authoritarian position in that he saying that politicians must talk to the media whether they want to or not. But Sullivan is too dishonest with himself to admit that and projects this onto Bush and Palin.

  12. Palin, Putin!
    Palin, Putin!

    (Audience doesn’t laugh. Tries again later.)

  13. Talldave: Yeah, Andy, let me know when they get around to looking at Obama’s impoverished, abandoned family in Kenya the way they’ve looked at Palin’s kids.

    Not that you’ve ever admitted being completely wrong before and I don’t expect you to start now, but:
    Life is good in my Nairobi slum, says Barack Obama’s younger brother

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article4583353.ece

    He said that he was furious at subsequent reports that he had been abandoned by the Obama family and that he was filled with shame about living in a slum. “It seems there are people who want to destroy me and my family,” he said.

    “They say I live on a dollar a month, but this is all lies by people who don’t want my brother to win.” He said that he was supported by his mother, Jael, who now lives in the US, and by a cousin in Huruma.

    Is the thrust of both of Moynihan’s articles “gee, I pretty much agree with Sullivan on the main point about it being wrong but the analogy to being a “taste” of Putin’s Russia is beyond the pale”?

  14. Whatever. After demanding Sarah Palin produce her medical records, he has no credibility.

  15. In Putin’s Russia, media supines *you*.

    Often literally.

  16. Ol’McCreedy

    It was a real Ed Rooney moment wasn’t it?

    “You just roll her dead bones over here and I’ll release your daughter.”

  17. This does seem like a personal matter between Moynihan and Sully. Why don’t you two take it to email?

  18. Of course if Palin were a sexy gay man running on a platform of getting a constitutional amendment gaurenteeing gay marriage and refused to talk to the media, Sullivan would be talking about how the media’s insistance on talking to him was a “taste of authoritarianism”. Sullivan actually is a smart guy. But he has really become a joke.

  19. “Yeah, Andy, let me know when they get around to looking at Obama’s impoverished, abandoned family in Kenya the way they’ve looked at Palin’s kids.”

    And when they get around to digging into Obama’s association with William Ayers with the same zeal that they’ve been trying to dig up anything on Palin.

    I wonder if Sullivan considered the media “supine” when they studiously ignored John Edward’s extramarital affair as long as they possibly could.

  20. “In Putin’s Russia, media supines *you*.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, give a big hand for Yakov Smirnoff!!

  21. Um, Mojotron, is the irony completely lost on you that the reporting on Obama’s brother was done by a British paper, not an American one?

    Seriously, though, if you want to talk about a supine media, I think the coverage of Obama is a better field to plow. The coverage of Palin has been anything but supine. Vapid, yes. Hysterical, yes. Substantive, no. Supine? I don’t get it.

    But the media has shown little interest in getting behind the Obama story put out by Obama himself. The list of things that haven’t been dug into is about as endless as it can be for someone with Obama’s limited resume.

    Rezko? Well, Obama said he didn’t really know him that well, and that’s good enough for us.

    The sudden gusher of federal money for his wife’s employer? Doesn’t even rate a question, even though his wife got a truly humungous raise after he was elected to the Senate.

    Wright’s convenient trip to Africa? Nothing to see there.

    Obama’s relationship with Ayers and Dohrn? He said they were just neighbors, that’s good enough for us.

    Obama’s stewardship of the Annenberg Challenge funds? Umm, what?

    Conflict of interest disclosure: Obama has already promised to raise my taxes by $20 – 30K a year.

  22. You can’t get much more supine than Andrew Sullivan. When’s the last time he actually made an effort to go out do anything?

  23. “Obama’s stewardship of the Annenberg Challenge funds? Umm, what?”

    Sullivan had some very nasty things to say about Stanley Kurtz wanting to look at the Annenberg Challenge docutments at UIC I think. Then Palin got nominated and he demanded to see her OBGYN records. I am not sure anyone other than Orwell could invent a character like Sullivan has become.

  24. Wait… someone is taking Sully seriously instead of laughing at him?

    Anywhoo, both Sully and the hacks at Reason are hacks. If they really wanted real press coverage, they have the means to do so: go out and ask the candidates real questions on video, and then upload the responses to Youtube.

    Sully would embarrass himself on video just as he does in print, but that doesn’t mean that others couldn’t do a good job.

    The only reason they won’t do that is because they’re complete hacks: they don’t want real coverage, they just want to have the current kind of coverage at the same time as they whine about it.

  25. Sounds like Michael needs to go back to AA ball, not ready for the bigs yet.

  26. I’m not sure exactly what Sullivan thinks the press should do in such a situation

    How about making the lead story, every day, that McCain and Palin are cowards – until they are given access.

    And no, John, it’s not “authoritarian” to report that someone who is afraid to be interviewed is a coward.

    And it is my understanding that Obama’s African relatives abandoned him first. If my dad had left my mom when I was 1, and abandoned her to raise me herself for with absolutely no assistance for the next 18 years, I wouldn’t care what kind of grass hut the fucker or his other relatives were living in, they could fucking rot.

  27. BTW, just to make this an equal opportunity slam, I think back when Hillary and Bill wouldn’t release their tax returns, that story should have been relentlessly pounded every day until they released them.

    The press is indeed “supine” in that everyone has realized [and especially on the GOP side] that no matter what the story is, if you just refuse to grant them access the story goes away. There are now so MANY Bush administration stories where the dog ate the emails or where the subpoenas were ignored or where someone used a Waxman letter as toilet paper that it would be impractical to cover them all – so I have a tiny little bit of sympathy for the press on that score. But how about picking two or three and pounding on those until you get a result? Or is that too hard for our pussy press?

    Look at the way Radley never lets shit go, ever. And he is starting to WIN the fights he picks. But that seems to be totally beyond the press at large.

  28. sullivans MO is to gravitate between periods of frothing support and then, bouts of post hoc, far more nuanced analysis. This is the frothing. Check back in a year for a thoughtful take on the sarah palin issue.

  29. “And no, John, it’s not “authoritarian” to report that someone who is afraid to be interviewed is a coward.”

    No it is not. It is authoritarian to claim that anyone who refuses to be interviewed is doing something sinister beyond politics, which is what Sullivan is doing. Sullivan is claiming the politicians must be interviewed. Bullshit. Frankly if a politician came out and said that the media is a bunch of whores not worth the time of day and that their time would be better spent talking to real voters rather than reportors, it would be a politician after my heart. After the way the media treated Palin and her kids, I wouldn’t blame her if she told them all to go fuck themselves. I really wish she would. But she won’t. She is already doing Charles Gibson. She will go on a few Sunday talk shows I am sure. But I really couldn’t care less if any of them talk to the media. I can read their speeches and their platforms and watch the debates. I don’t need some jackass reportor preening for the camera to figure out who these people are.

  30. But how about picking two or three and pounding on those until you get a result? Or is that too hard for our pussy press?

    You don’t shit where you live, Fluffy. These journalists swim in the same water as their reporting subjects; they want to be invited to events; and they want to get interviews and exclusives and leaked info.

    This is why they don’t work anything too hard, and why that won’t change.

  31. Well, Fluffy and Epi are still sane. WTF is wrong with the rest of you?

    Yes, Sullivan can be a little shrill at times. But, ladies and germs, this is the kind of shit that you should get a little exercised over.

    Compare, if you will how much bile and nervous sweat has been spilled over national service programs that may or may not exist and may or may not be implemented. But you don’t know (and probably won’t know) fuck-all about someone who is a 80-yr-old cancer-ridden heartbeat away from the Oval Office because the press won’t call her out or say *squat*? And you’re completely chill?

  32. It is authoritarian to claim that anyone who refuses to be interviewed is doing something sinister beyond politics

    Actually, no, it’s not. Unless you use a completely different definition of the word “authoritarian” than everyone else on the planet.

  33. And you’re completely chill?

    LMNOP – be fair, some of us are drunk…

  34. But, ladies and germs, this is the kind of shit that you should get a little exercised over.

    At a global level, sure, it would be nice if the media would play a little rougher.

    But one-sided partisan carping should never be taken seriously. Sully’s selective outrage is the very definition of partisan hackery.

    Look, there’s lots and lots and lots of legitimate investigation and reporting going undone an all the candidates. Granted, and that is a subject for outrage.

    “Interviews,” as currently practiced, are mostly an opportunity for the interviewer to preen and posture for the camera. So what is Sully exercised about? That Palin isn’t giving the media the opportunity bootstrap off of her astronomical Q rating in their preening and posturing for the camera.

  35. “Sullivan writes that the media’s response to the Palin media embargo (which we both agree is wrong) “is the most appalling dereliction of duty by the press that I have ever seen in my adult life.”

    Oh, for God’s sake. I am so sick of the bloody hysteria. She was nominated less than two weeks ago and she has two media interviews this week, no preconditions imposed. Get a grip.

  36. But he has really become a joke.

    Right around the time he stopped supporting the Iraq war and Bush. John, Andrew didn’t become a joke. He was and still is a joke. He just stopped being on your side.

  37. NO MORE “HEART-BEAT AWAY”.

    The most hackneyed phrase of 2008.

  38. Sullivan is no longer worth reading. If you want the same thing, just go to that youtube video “Leave Britney Alone!” and replace ‘Britney’ with ‘Obama’.

    The squirrel on my street gives better political analysis these days.

  39. 20-30 grand a year *more* in taxes? Holy christ, RC Dean makes a lot of money.

  40. They’re already released the first interview. Would you please now officially chill? The test of her readiness does not equate with being subservient to media that have somehow mistaken themselves for gatekeepers determining public fitness for office. The voters will make that decision, not reporters.

  41. According to conservatives, the press only ever does puff pieces. Right up until they ask a Republican a hard question, and then they’re the Red Guards’ newsletter.

  42. That is right joe, asking the tough questions about her 17 year old daughter’s sex life and her OBGYN records. The media really knows how to go after a story.

  43. As someone who has lived Putin’s Russia, and experienced the gradual and incomplete tightening of control rather than the usual Western media caricatures of Russia, I can assure you that Andrew’s comparison is far from facile or “silly.”

    It is silly only if one buys into Hollywood stereotypes of sub-human Russians. When you come to know that they are human beings with legitimate interests, one’s perspective changes radically.

    Sadly, Russia did not have strong journalism traditions. The media there was just as supine during the “democratic” 90’s. Journalists just served a variety of masters.

    Putin’s control of TV (he really doesn’t restrict other media) is the same sort of soft-spoken “this wouldn’t be good for your career” that rules the corporate media in the US. Only the taboos differ.

    Even as regards TV, you can get foreign TV on cable in Moscow, including CNN, BBC, Euronews, something which cannot be said of the US.

    Both countries nurture very powerful patterns of peer and self-censorship which have real consequences for information flow in the two societies.

    Thank goodness for the Internet.

  44. You know why the Republicans who post on this site are ratfuckers?

    Because a couple of weeks ago the McCain campaign was complaining about the fact that MSNBC gave Obama more minutes of coverage than McCain.

    So now the campaign that complained and screamed about bias when they couldn’t get enough press coverage is…hiding their VP candidate from the press.

    That means we’re entitled to think that the VP candidate is a fucking moron who has to be hidden from the press to make sure she doesn’t fuck up.

    And that also means that the press should endlessly speculate, to the exclusion of all else, about exactly how stupid Palin must be to be hidden in this manner. Endless speculation and banging subjects into the ground being the specialty of the retard political pundit class.

    It is just such a fucking joke that the same people who a couple weeks ago were whining, “Wah! The press isn’t covering the McCain campaign enough!” are now back to whine, “Wah! Our VP candidate doesn’t have to have a press conference if she doesn’t wanna! Wah!”

  45. Andy is suffering from AIDS dementia.
    I bet he will be menatally gone by the end of 2009.
    It is already quite obvious he is losing his facalities.

  46. Jesus, Terry, how does it feel to be a vicious, empty-headed bigot?

  47. “Frankly if a politician came out and said that the media is a bunch of whores not worth the time of day and that their time would be better spent talking to real voters rather than reportors, it would be a politician after my heart.”

    So that’s why you love Bush, who said the media are just another special interest group. It all makes sense now.

  48. “Sadly, Russia did not have strong journalism traditions.”

    I call BS. They’ve had a decades long tradition of murdering them.

  49. Fluffy,

    You are an ass sucking leftist fake. You never saw a Democrat in your life whose ass you wouldn’t kiss.

  50. “So that’s why you love Bush, who said the media are just another special interest group.”

    Who says Bush is wrong about everything. That is exactly what they are. Every god damned one of them can fuck off.

  51. “Who says Bush is wrong about everything. That is exactly what they are. Every god damned one of them can fuck off.”

    Including the late Bill Buckley?

  52. TAO —

    Heart beat AWAY, HEY! Heart beat, away.
    Heart beat AWAY, HEY! Heart beat, away.

    Just because you don’t like hearing it doesn’t mean it isn’t:

    1. True.
    2. Absolutely fucking terrifying.

  53. “Heart beat AWAY, HEY! Heart beat, away.

    Just because you don’t like hearing it doesn’t mean it isn’t:

    1. True.
    2. Absolutely fucking terrifying.”

    Bully! Bully!

  54. “Heart beat AWAY, HEY! Heart beat, away.”

    Uh Huh

    And Obama would BE the hearbeat of the presidency and he’s not one iota more qualified than Palin is.

  55. If Andrew had any sense, he’d keep some of his powder dry for real outrages. I mean, this guy flips his wig on an HOURLY basis. How can anyone read him without laughing?

    PS My favorite Sullivan sayings are:

    “Know hope.”
    “Patience. And Steel.” x2

  56. Sullivan becomes more and more clownish as time goes by. He really is an intellectual lightweight pretending to be otherwise.

  57. That is right joe, asking the tough questions about her 17 year old daughter’s sex life and her OBGYN records. The media really knows how to go after a story

    Um, Palin put the news out about her daughter in a PRESS RELEASE. You’re saying reporters shouldn’t follow up press releases?

  58. From his cute little feet-up-on-the-desk cartoon, it looks as though he’s just a short recline away from supine.

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