The Media And Policy

Paul Krugman writes:

The talking heads on cable TV panned President Obamaís Wednesday press conference. You see, he didnít offer a lot of folksy anecdotes. Shame on them. The health care system is in crisis. The fate of Americaís middle class hangs in the balance. And there on our TVs was a president with an impressive command of the issues, who truly understands the stakes.

But this is not new. When has the Media ever known anything about any issues? When has there ever been actual substantive discussion of issues in the Media? Never in my adult life. Heck, they do not even know much about politics really.

This is an old theme with me. The problem with the Media is not its bias. We know where they stand - Fox with the GOP. Parts of MSNBC with the Dems. The rest with the Establishment and the status quo. The problem is they have no idea what they are talking about for the most part. In short, the Media is incompetent. At one time, this was a serious, almost insurmountable, problem. But the Media is not very influential anymore. So President Obama should be able to get some things done.

More . . .

Related -- The great Charles Pierce schools David Shuster but he did not want to hear it:

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    The problem is that this is a White House (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:22:44 AM EST
    that doesn't much likely to bypass the media. Do you suppose they'll go to Sully or David Brooks to sell their plan?

    You aren't saying (none / 0) (#5)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:34:02 AM EST
    that Sully and Brooks are not the media are you?

    No (none / 0) (#8)
    by andgarden on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:37:43 AM EST
    They epitomize it IMO.

    Sure do (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:20:22 AM EST
    To your point, I agree. If Obama takes his case to his email list rather than the media, I wonder how much influence that has? Does he have real options to bypassing the media?

    Hard to tell where the real public opinion influence lies these days. Maybe they have the right idea with the TV ad campaigns rather than trying to get info out through reporters with the attention span of a knat. Health care infomercials maybe?


    gnat. god I'm an idiot. (none / 0) (#25)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:22:29 AM EST
    The Media may not be very (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by mg7505 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:25:24 AM EST
    influential anymore, but it sure seems to be giving a lot of time to right-wing opponents of healthcare reform, to the extent that they even appear to have credibility. Otherwise they have nothing to offer. I would love to see Obama (or any competent Dem leader) use the Media to really sell some major policies; I'm not sure if the health care speech did that, but it did seem like a good-faith effort. Now if only we could get Krugman on TV...

    The Left is whining (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Fabian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:40:28 AM EST
    now that Obama is no longer the Media Darling.

    Oh dearie me, the Media isn't carrying Obama's water for him.  Why not?  

    All you really need to do to be a permanent Media Darling is to protect the Media's corporate interests.  Period.

    Otherwise, you are just worth however many page views or Nielsen points you can earn and if a live celebrity or even a dead one can do better, they'll get the air time.  If a politician can make politics exciting (Sanford), they'll get the air time.


    Yup, I think incompetence is the problem (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:32:57 AM EST
    I hope you are right about their influence. If their primary impact is to annoy the heck out of me, I guess I can take it.

    Ignoring cable news (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by andgarden on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:33:56 AM EST
    is one of the healthier things I've done in the past year or so.

    Nice, isn't it? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:36:26 AM EST
    Yep, I've learned to do so, too (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Cream City on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:36:42 AM EST
    and if I need me some teevee time, I turn to old-movie channels or something.

    Then again, I'm not sure about the trichotomy posed in this post -- that there are the Repubs, and there are the Dems, and there is the status quo.

    I think they're all for the status quo -- and, as many studies of media show, the media especially so.  So why bother watching them at all. . . .


    My ignoring of cable news coincided with my (none / 0) (#12)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:03:04 AM EST
    getting HBO and Stars.  It is just so less aggrevating and I learn just as much.  The real disappointment is sunday news shows.  There could be value, but alas, there is not.

    HBO (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:12:03 AM EST
    is the way to go.  now get SHO and you can catch the new season of Dexter that starts soon.

    the sunday show have become usless.  which makes me wonder, were they always.  they did not once seem to be so useless but I wonder if they were really always so and we just did not have any other readily available sources of information about these people.


    Have you seen there new show "Hung" (none / 0) (#35)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:00:26 AM EST
    That show is hillarious

    yes (none / 0) (#36)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:05:31 AM EST
    totally hooked.  

    Love (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:18:02 AM EST
    that it is based around Detroit.

    Maybe I should be a pimp......


    His neighbor is SO Oakland county (none / 0) (#41)
    by samtaylor2 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:20:27 AM EST
    Yup (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:28:10 AM EST
    (I'm a Macomb County girl, myself).

    But not all of Oakland County - his neighbor is definitely Birmingham-ish.


    Let me ask this (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 02:23:21 PM EST
    do you wash your clothes or warsh them?

    ha (none / 0) (#54)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:12:06 PM EST
    that was the last surviving vestige of my southern accent that hung around.  but its gone now.

    Yes, we're also, uh, hooked (none / 0) (#48)
    by Cream City on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:12:23 AM EST
    on the high school teacher who has to be a male hooker because of the teaching pay -- even though, as the show intro says, Michigan pays better than many states.  

    I dont usually ignore it (none / 0) (#14)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:09:17 AM EST
    but I dont watch it for information either.  I usually watch it for entertainment.  it has become just as much guilty fun to watch the shills on MSNBC as it is to watch the shills on FOX.

    thats why I love that segment I posted in this thread so much.  the guy levels the playing field and tell him they are all the same.


    I Agree To Some Extent (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kevsters on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:41:42 AM EST
    I still believe that media outlets like Fox do serious damage to meaningful progressive policies that could benefit this nation.

    Here are just a couple of examples of nut job pundits throwing out GOP talking points in the hopes that something will stick.

    Bill O'Reilly


    Sean Hannity


    Greta van susteren (none / 0) (#56)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:19:49 PM EST
    is very quietly doing far more damage than either of those two clowns, on Fox at 10.  She used to do a very intelligent crime/tabloid show (if that's not too much of an oxymoron), but since the primaries, she's been doing almost exclusively politics (sometimes in the guise of economics, health care, etc.) and it's all-GOP all the time.

    She's very keen on Hillary Clinton and does regular interviews with her, but otherwise, she hasn't had a Democrat on the show, even Joe Lieberman (sic) or Ben Nelson types in literally months.  I think the last time was during the initial stimulus bill debate, which of course they were basically opposed to.

    She doesn't rant and rave much, she acts like an objective "journalist," but the entire diet she gives her viewers is non-stop right-wing propaganda.  Regular guests; Newt Gingrich once or twice a week, Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Rick Santorum (why???), and almost daily rants from the utter wing-nut pseudo-economist who writes for the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Stephen Moore, founder of the vile Club for Growth and co-author with Arthur Laffer.

    Sean Hannity and O'Reilly do have guests with opposing points of view, even -- gasp! -- Democrats.  They try to smack them down, but at least they're there.  Not so with Van Susteren.  She's totally off the radar in terms of anybody's awareness of political coverage, but she has I believe the third top-rated show on Fox, meaning the third in audience on all cable.


    Well, I agree of course that (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by dk on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:14:26 AM EST
    the media are obtuse.  But so is Obama and the current Democratic party leadership regarding the issues.

    The NYT published a survey in June showing that 72% of Americans want a public option that covers everyone.  Yet, the bill that Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership are proposing only covers, at most, around 9 million people, and even then none of that kicks in until 2013, and even then it is set up to fail because not enough people allowed to participate in the program means that it won't have an impact on costs.  Now, single payer and similar programs have demonstrably been successes in much of the rest of the industrialized world, and the American people overwhelmingly support such options, yet our current leadership is putting obstacles in the way of such reforms.  That is not the media's fault, IMHO.

    personally I dont think it is (none / 0) (#18)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:16:12 AM EST
    obtuseness, I think it is money from the people who want to kill any public option.

    Fair enough. (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by dk on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:18:37 AM EST
    But my point is that the media isn't to blame for the fact that Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership are so wrong on the issues.

    certainl;y (none / 0) (#37)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:06:45 AM EST

    I think it is less about incompetence... (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:17:44 AM EST
    and more about ratings and profits...if the media suddenly started a substantial discussion and reporting of issues, their ratings would plummet, people would be bored by it.  

    Aside from us oddballs who are entertained by issues and learning a little something, most Americans just want to be entertained and titillated by faux controversy.

    Shorter version, the media is a reflection of the populace.  If we change, the media changes.

    Probably true because (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:26:51 AM EST
    the media and public have been locked in this death spiral of ignorance for so long. Very few in the media would even be able to do a substantial reporting of issues even if they wanted.

    They're not reporters... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:25:25 AM EST
    their spokesmodels...you can tell because their ain't a funny looking one in the bunch, male or female.

    Uh-oh! (none / 0) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:28:07 PM EST
    I agree with you!  But in all fairness, that's TV, not print, where reporters are still overwhelmingly pretty clunky and rumpled looking.  But what's happened with particularly female on-air TV "news" people in the last 10 or 15 years is frankly pretty shocking.  If you're a woman, you can't get into TV news anymore unless you look "hot."

    How nostalgic I am for the early years of CNN, when they had the only cross-eyed anchor in television history in Bobbie Batista!


    I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:19:57 AM EST
    I don't think the media are irrelevant at all - they still wield a huge influence over a large number (if not most) of the population.  Most people do not sit and surf blogs and read the comments and jump from link to link to read 20 in-depth stories on a subject,  Most people get their news from watching one of the networks for a half hour or so.  Some of those people may still actually read the local newspaper.  So the fact that many people get their news from one corporate source tells me that they still have tons of influence on how people think about things, which translates into who they vote for and why.

    I'm with you (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:33:54 AM EST
    When it comes to issues and what the real facts are, the majority of Americans still need to use media.  I on the other hand spend a few hours a day here talking and even arguing about things among investigative nitpickers.  Sometimes when I go lunch with my husband along with everyone that he works with and a conversation develops over some current issue, it is astonishing how much I know about specific details in play compared to those turning in 40 to 60 hour work weeks.  Of course with so much unemployment right now, we are bound to have more people wanting to know exactly what the hell is going on here :)

    I'm a little confused. Nothing new there, lol. (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Anne on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:46:49 AM EST
    During the campaign, Obama was the "media darling," unable, apparently, to do no wrong; every silken sound he uttered, every regal posture he held, every cool move he made was lauded, applauded and showcased as if we were in the presence of greatness.  

    Certainly, that was the dumb media in all their splendor, but dumb or not, they laid the yellow-brick road for Obama all the way to the White House door.  And he let them.  And he got points for co-opting them.

    So, they're still mind-numbingly stupid, still wouldn't know how to dissect an issue even with step-by-step instructions, still would much rather cover, as Somerby terms it, "sexsexsex."  


    I don't think the dumb is the sole province of the media.  Millions of people allowed the siren song of the media to lull them into believing that Obama was all they portrayed him as, and now that the media has changed direction a bit, a lot of people are seeing Obama for who he really is - and isn't.  They are seeing that he doesn't have those leadership skills that issues like health care cannot move forward without.  He doesn't have passion for the hard work these kinds of issues require.  He isn't about change and transparency.

    So, yeah, the media is dumb.  Duh.  But I wonder if what's really painful is people realizing how dumb they were to buy into the sales job that helped Obama get where he is today.

    And I wonder just how spectacular Obama's political instincts are, and question the quality of his leadership ability if, now that the media is having fun with the usual internecine conflicts, he's having trouble getting decent health care legislation written and passed.

    If Obama had such (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by ChiTownMike on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:12:52 AM EST
    "impressive command of the issues" as Krugman says then why has Obama lost polling ground not only on health care but on the economy in general? Command of the issues means nothing unless you can take that 'command' to the bank. As usual Krugman misses the forest for the trees just as he did with resurrecting the financial institutions.

    If the media is working against Obama on this it is Obama's own fault. I have to ask if Obama has followed so many of Bush's policies why not follow Bush in the way he handled the media? Bush played hard ball with them. Among other things his press secretaries only called on those who understood that 'lockstep' was the key to access. And it worked. Mr. I Give A Great Speech is not so good at managing the media even when his predecessor laid the groundwork for him to follow.  A great politician he is not. Not when a big majority of the country wanted changes in health care pre-election and now a majority does not support those changes. Either way you try to explain it that is not great politics - no matter what others on this blog try to say.

    Any polling since the press conference? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:42:45 AM EST
    I would guess not (none / 0) (#47)
    by ChiTownMike on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:04:04 AM EST
    seeing how you didn't link to any. Additionally what you are writing about regarding the presser is the Gates issue not health care. If that is any indication of how successful his health care message got out then I would pronounce it DOA.

    I wondered the same. The data that (none / 0) (#49)
    by Cream City on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:14:17 AM EST
    we do have, on viewership, shows a continuous decline in size of audience for Obama's tv spots.  That may be telling.

    But I also was wishing that the media might tell us more about what more than the media thought of it.


    I was watching MSNBC last night (4.80 / 5) (#10)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:48:31 AM EST
    when I got home while I fed the pets and I happened on one of the best segments I have ever seen on countdown.  there was a dufus standing in for the regular dufus and he had a guest who he tried to lead into a segment bashing republicans for not rejecting the idea that Obama is not a citizen.

    the guy let him and the rest of the Lame Stream Media have it right between the eyes explaining that they are only able to do this stuff because people like him gave them air time.  the specifically called out Tweety and Morning Joe for giving raving idiots a platform.

    it was beautiful.  I will look for the clip.  I cant believe its not been YouTubed.

    got it (4.50 / 2) (#11)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:57:37 AM EST
    please watch this clip of a man who will NEVER be invited back to the village.

    this like should give you the clip.  if not click on the one in the list to the left that has a pic of Liz and the caption "Cheney not above appeasing birthers"


    Awesome (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:16:36 AM EST
    Especially on Liz Cheney - she is only a "prominent Republican" because she has been given a forum on TV.

    I think Liz (none / 0) (#58)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:24:20 PM EST
    is far, far more of a threat than Sarah Palin.

    Wow (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:07:05 AM EST
    Sounds like a Somerby reader.

    seriously (none / 0) (#17)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:14:42 AM EST
    how did this guy get through screening.  also I am sort of amazed they ran the clip at all.  that is not live is it?

    that's Charles Pierce (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:20:37 AM EST
    One of the great ones. You do know Charles?

    He used to write at Eric Alterman's site. He's fantastic.


    Not remembering for some reason (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by andgarden on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:35:51 AM EST
    But yeah, I love how DS tried to defend Whitewater coverage.

    He's also a regular on the NPR news quiz show (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:23:23 AM EST
    Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Was never sure it was the same guy until I heard the voice in the Countdown clip.

    He is way too quick and smart for David Shuster. Shuster acts like he hasn't been watching TV for the last 15 years.


    Pierce has also written (none / 0) (#57)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:23:45 PM EST
    some really great profiles of various public figures for various magazines.  He did an absolutely brilliant one of Howard Dean way back when.  He also writes a usually pretty lame column for the Sunday Globe magazine in Boston called "Pierced."  But when he's on, he's just fantastic.

    I love Shuster not getting (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:21:49 AM EST
    Pierce's point.

    I think he was (none / 0) (#27)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:24:37 AM EST
    being rather intentionally obtuse.  I loved his expression when he mentioned that Liz was a regular on Morning Joe.  he looked like he passed a brick.

    Oh I thought he got it (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:37:18 AM EST
    And he was dancing and dancing and dancing like mad to keep the focus on how crazy Cheney is instead of how crazy the media he is part of is.  And being the prominent Republican that Cheney is, she won't go on Countdown :)

    I never heard of his (none / 0) (#26)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:22:53 AM EST
    afaik.  but I will be listening now.

    I seem to remember (none / 0) (#53)
    by Steve M on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 02:24:48 PM EST
    Pierce getting the boot at TAP, or maybe it was some other group blog, following some pie-fight type issue.

    I'll watch it since it is Charlie Pierce (none / 0) (#34)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:51:39 AM EST
    and not KO.

    Without even seeing it, I can imagine that he will never be asked back. I'm sure the descriptions below of Shuster's head exploding are true. I can hear them all this morning - 'that guy was crazy'.


    before last night (none / 0) (#55)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 03:40:39 PM EST
    if you had said Charles Pierce to me I would have thought of this guy.

    The Solution is simple (none / 0) (#31)
    by SOS on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:44:50 AM EST
    shut off the boob tube and start living for a change.

    Let me see, what could I be doing instead of watching the idiot box?

    Think hard now

    Problem with the Media (none / 0) (#33)
    by Samuel on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:48:14 AM EST
    "The problem with the Media is not its bias. We know where they stand - Fox with the GOP. Parts of MSNBC with the Dems. The rest with the Establishment and the status quo. The problem is they have no idea what they are talking about for the most part. In short, the Media is incompetent."

    The media is owned by people with interests.  These interests dictate coverage.  They hire a mix of complicit and ignorant employees to execute this.  All of this stems from a bias (for example, CNBC is owned by GE - a highly leverage company that has self-interest in sustaining an asset bubble).  This is at least how it would seem.

    Are you asserting that some reporters like the color red, others blue, the rest huff glue?  If it's a simply a matter that only incompetent reporters get hired and that's not a function of a bias ownership - then isn't society doomed?  If there's no malevolent force at play when it comes to what we see as "news" then what hope do we have?  

    It is consistent though to believe this and conclude that all in society must be controlled with the threat of violence as they are not fit to run their own lives.  

    Master's of the dance (none / 0) (#51)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 12:25:14 PM EST
    The truth of it is that the media lives for conflict and the Republican's are the master's of it. Whether they're playing the role of righteous bully or indignant martyr, they always manage to stay on message and march in step.

    Democrat's can't seem to even agree on an issue among themselves, let alone take on the Republican media machine.