Monday, September 08, 2008

It's Not an Ideology; It's a Point of View

I've not been a fan of celebrity gossip/news magazines for many years now. I used to get a copy of People every once in awhile when I was younger. You know... whenever the current news cycle was getting dry (which was apparently a frequent thing twenty years ago). As I got older, though, I found my taste for celebrity voyeurism waning. I began to care less about which celebs were divorcing, dating, or openly gay. What I cared about was how to protect my children from the political aspirations of actors who had talent (arguably), moxie (definitely), but not a lot of actual smarts (decidedly). Hark! Rob Reiner wants to force my kids to go to pre-school. Quelle surprise. Gee, [insert celebrity name here] thinks animals are more important than unborn children. How inspiring.

I think over the years I picked up exactly one issue of US Weekly of my own volition. I was probably bored and curious about whatever their then-current salacious cover story might be. Any other issues I perused were probably bought by a magazine-junkie relative or in hair-cutting salons. I would never in a million years consider US to be anything resembling a legitimate news organization. Especially having been subjected to a culture in Southern California that has pretty much worshipped at the altar of celebrity for my entire life.

Thus you may imagine my inability to keep my guffaws to myself when I heard Bradley Jacobs, senior editor with US Weekly, defend his magazine as a news magazine in an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly:
KELLY: No, you don't. You don't, Bradley. That's not in there. Do you mention an official — you mentioned so-called "trooper-gate" talking about — and I'm quoting from your article, an official who refused - She's under investigation for dismissing an official who refused to fire her sister's state trooper ex-husband. Do you point out that the allegations that that trooper she allegedly wanted fired tasered his own stepson who was only 10 and made death threats against Sarah Palin's father. Do you mention that in the article?

JACOBS: We didn't have time to get into everything that you have mentioned. This story was breaking over the weekend. Everyone was talking about it, and Us magazine has a very distinctive voice and we cover the news.
While his excuse may have held more weight twenty years ago, in this day of instantaneous (and frequently incorrect) fact-gathering one would think a more conservative approach to such stories might be advisable. Certainly they wouldn't want to find themselves in the unenviable position of having reported something as being "possibly true," only to find before the magazine was even published that most of those allegations were patently false. That's the sort of thing that used to shut down reporters' (and not a few editors') careers back in the day.

Unfortunately, these days a magazine like US is likely hailed as a heroic anti-establishment crusader by the Daily Kos-induced madness of the political left. Hey, it could have been true, and that's good enough for us! The rest of Jacobs' interview consisted of his whining about how "measured and even-keeled" the story was, assuming that Kelly had never read it. She had, drat the luck.
KELLY: I've read the story. What are the lies?

JACOBS: Actually, the lies that we point out are some of the liberal bloggers who were speculating that the daughter was actually - had given birth, that there was a cover-up there. We're one of the few magazines that actually did call to task those liberal bloggers for the news stories over the weekend.
The problem with Jacobs' assertion, however, is that the article apparently nowhere actually mentions these lying liberals according to Michelle Malkin (who graciously — and bravely — read the article so we don't have to):
But the article makes zero mention of any of those liberal slime bloggers. Instead, here is how the magazine played up those rumors. Look at the big, red “Where’s the Bump?” headline. The caption reads: “In an earlier pregnancy (left), Palin had a visible bump. In a 2008 photo (right), used online to call Palin’s pregnangy into question, she is six months pregnant with her fifth baby.” [Photo included in Michelle's post]
Compare and Contrast

US Weekly's transparent attempt to smear Sarah Palin and her family does nothing to allay the accusations of liberal bias in the press today. MSNBC is having their own problems with this perception, and much of it comes from a deeply held sense of denial in which the chiefs of this and other news organizations live. Take, for example, this statement by MSNBC chief Phil Griffin:
Mr. Griffin, MSNBC’s president, denies that it has an ideology. “I think ideology means we think one way, and we don’t,” he said. Rather than label MSNBC’s prime time as left-leaning, he says it has passion and point of view.
Okay, let's help Mr. Griffin out here; if you have a "point of view," you have an ideology. Passion is undeniable, and we'll grant that point. But he loses the argument on point of view versus ideology. The two are, if not synonymous, deeply intertwined.

MSNBC's problems right now are it's admittedly incendiary cornerstones: Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. Olbermann is arguably MSNBC's most successful host. (Side note: at just over one million viewers — roughly half of Fox's highest rated show — he's just negotiated a four-year, four million dollar extension of his contract. At just over $1.00 per viewer, the man is clearly over-priced.) Yet both have been "yanked" from anchoring the upcoming debate season and election night in favor of the somewhat less controversial David Gregory. This qualifies as a major slap-in-the-face for Olbermann and Matthews, neither of whom have made any bones about their deep-rooted hatred for conservative America. Here again, MSNBC lies, if only to themselves:
In January, Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews, the host of “Hardball,” began co-anchoring primary night coverage, drawing an audience that enjoyed the pair’s “SportsCenter”-style show. While some critics argued that the assignment was akin to having the Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly anchor on election night — something that has never happened — MSNBC insisted that Mr. Olbermann knew the difference between news and commentary.
Or maybe he doesn't.

In writing about this latest liberal fiasco, Hugh Hewitt made this closing statement:
You cannot fix what you don't know is broken.
I'd have to disagree with that, Hugh. You cannot fix what you refuse to acknowledge is broken.

There is a difference.

UPDATE: A French student, I ain't. I'd said "q'uel" surprise initially. Snarkocist Commenter Mark N. set me straight. (Yeah, yeah, I know... takes one to know one.) I learned a form of Spanish unique to the Maya Quiché of Guatemala. Won't find that in any textbook. ;-)

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