Thursday, June 18, 2009

Media Malfeasance

BarbinMD (DK): The Washington Post has decided that there isn't enough room for George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Gerson and Dan Froomkin ... so they're letting Froomkin go. Fair and balanced rules!
Atrios: Froomkin WaPo lets him go. That sucks. What Glenn says.
  • Greenwald: The Washington Post fires its best columnist. Why?

    One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama -- i.e., someone who criticizes Obama from what is perceived as "the Left" rather than for being a Terrorist-Loving Socialist Muslim. It just got a lot rarer, as The Washington Post -- at least according to Politico's Michael Calderone -- just fired columnist, long-time Bush critic and Obama watchdog (i.e., a real journalist) Dan Froomkin.

    What makes this firing so bizarre and worthy of inquiry is that, as Calderone notes, Froomkin was easily one of the most linked-to and cited Post columnists. At a time when newspapers are relying more and more on online traffic, the Post just fired the person who, in 2007, wrote 2 out of the top 10 most-trafficked columns. In publishing that data, Media Bistro used this headline: "The Post's Most Popular Opinions (Read: Froomkin)." Isn't that an odd person to choose to get rid of?

    Following the bottomless path of self-pity of the standard right-wing male -- as epitomized by Pete Hoekstra's comparison of House Republicans to Iranian protesters and yet another column by Pat Buchanan decrying the systematic victimization of the white male in America -- Charles Krauthammer last night said that Obama critics on Fox News are "a lot like [Hugo Chavez'] Caracas where all the media, except one, are state run." But right-wing polemicists like Krauthammer are all over the media. In addition to his Rupert Murdoch perch at Fox, Krauthammer remains as a regular columnist at the Post, alongside fellow right-wing Obama haters such as Bill Kristol, George Will and Robert Kagan -- as well as a whole bevy of typical, banal establishment spokespeople who are highly supportive of whoever is in power (David Ignatius, Fred Hiatt, Ruth Marcus, Richard Cohen, Howie Kurtz, etc. etc.).

    Notably, Froomkin just recently had a somewhat acrimonious exchange with the oh-so-oppressed Krauthammer over torture, after Froomkin criticized Krauthammer's explicit endorsement of torture and Krauthammer responded by calling Froomkin's criticisms "stupid." And now Froomkin is fired by the Post while the persecuted Krauthammer -- comparing himself to endangered journalists in Venezuela -- remains at the Post, along with countless others there who think and write just like he does: i.e., standard neoconservative pablum. Froomkin was previously criticized for being "highly opinionated and liberal" by Post ombusdman Deborah Howell (even as she refused to criticize blatant right-wing journalists).

    All of this underscores a critical and oft-overlooked point: what one finds virtually nowhere in the establishment press are those who criticize Obama not in order to advance their tawdry right-wing agenda but because the principles that led them to criticize Bush compel similar criticism of Obama. Rachel Maddow is one of the few prominent media figures who will interview and criticize Democratic politicians "from the Left" (and it's hardly a coincidence that it MSNBC's decision to give her her own show -- rather than the endless array of right-wing talking hosts -- which prompted a tidal wave of "concern" over whether cable news was becoming "too partisan"). In general, however, those who opine from the Maddow/Froomkin perspective are a very endangered species, and it just became more endangered as the Post fires one if its most popular, talented, principled and substantive columnists.

  • Greenwald updates:

    UPDATE II: In a post entitled "The WaPo's Best Blogger Is Fired," Andrew Sullivan writes:

    A simply astounding move by the paper - getting rid of the one blogger, Dan Froomkin, who kept it real and kept it interesting. Dan's work on torture may be one reason he is now gone. The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing. This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should.

    The single most transparent and damaging myth in American political discourse is also one of the most unquestioned: The Liberal Media.

    UPDATE III: Here is Froomkin's statement:

    I’m terribly disappointed. I was told that it had been determined that my White House Watch blog wasn’t "working" anymore. But from what I could tell, it was still working very well. I also thought White House Watch was a great fit with The Washington Post brand, and what its readers reasonably expect from the Post online.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, I think that the future success of our business depends on journalists enthusiastically pursuing accountability and calling it like they see it. That’s what I tried to do every day. Now I guess I'll have to try to do it someplace else.

    The Post's inability to articulate a coherent, credible explanation for what it did speaks volumes. Any media outlet is foolish if it doesn't strongly consider taking advantage of the Post's conduct by hiring Froomkin.

Think Progress: Major Media Headlines Pretend That Latest Polls Show Obama’s Policies Are Unpopular
Today, two new national polls were released, one by the New York Times and CBS, the other by the Wall Street Journal and NBC. News headlines quickly settled on a theme: The polls showed that President Obama’s policies were suddenly unpopular:

Sticker Shock — Obama still popular; his policies, not so much” [ABC's The Note]

Polls find rising concern with Obama on key issues” [Reuters]

Polls Show Declining Support For Obama Decisions” [U.S. News & World Report's Political Bulletin]

Obama’s popularity: Problems testing it” [Chicago Tribune's The Swamp]

Is ‘Smooth Sailing’ Over for Obama?” [Washington Post]

The headlines have little to no relation to the actual data in the polls, both of which found broad approval for Obama’s foreign policy and economic agendas. From the New York Times/CBS poll:

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy? 57% approve, 35% disapprove

8. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the threat of terrorism? 57% approve, 27% disapprove

16. So far, do you think Barack Obama’s policies have made the economy better, made the economy worse or haven’t his policies had any effect on the economy yet? 32% say better, 15% say worse

And from the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll:

4b. Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling the economy? 51% approve, 38% disapprove

4c. Do you generally approve or disapprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing in handling foreign policy? 54% approve , 36% disapprove

9. Which ONE of the following statements best describes your feelings toward Barack Obama?

Like personally and approve most policies…………… 48%
Like personally but disapprove of many policies ……27%

12. And how confident are you that Barack Obama has the right set of goals and policies to improve the economy––extremely confident, quite confident, only somewhat confident, or not at all confident?

Extremely confident………………………. 20%
Quite confident …………………………. 26%
Only somewhat confident ………………….. 24%
Not at all confident …………………….. 29%

Similarly, 68 percent agree with Obama’s view that Guantanamo detainees should be charged with a crime or released back to their home countries, as opposed to only 24 percent who think they should be detained indefinitely. As Glenn Greenwald notes, “The view that detainees should be charged with crimes or released is often depicted as the fringe ‘Far Left’ view. Like so many views that are similarly depicted, it is — in reality — the overwhelming consensus view among Americans.”

Perhaps the most bizarre headline came from USA Today’s blog, The VAL: “Poll: Obama down, cousin Cheney up.” The poll cited showed that 60 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Obama. By contrast, only 27 percent viewed Cheney favorably — while 30 percent viewed him “very negatively.”

UpdateThe headline to a new Pew research poll claims Obama faces "Some Policy Concerns." However, the poll finds that 61 percent approve of Obama's job performance (including 57 percent and 52 percent approving of his handling of foreign and economic policy, respectively), while 65 percent are "optimistic" Obama's policies will improve economic conditions.

No comments:

Post a Comment