• Will the media derail health care reform?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Century Foundation's Niko Karvounis has a must-read piece warning that the news media could "derail health care reform":

    Policy can get pretty complicated; so the public will rely on the media to help it navigate the ins and outs of the issue.


    Unfortunately, reporters aren't health care policy experts. In fact, they rarely ever talk about the issue. In a December report, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, out of 3,513 health news stories in newspapers, on TV and radio, and online between January 2007 and June 2008, health care policy made up less than 1 percent of news stories and just 27.4 percent of health-focused stories.


    history shows that when health care reform efforts are actually under way, the media ignore policy in favor of more sensational stories.

    During President Bill Clinton's efforts at health care reform in the 1990s, for example, media reports disproportionately focused on politics rather than policy. In their 1998 book Politics, Power, and Policymaking: The Case of Health Care Reform in the 1990s, Missouri State University professors Mark Rushefsky and Kant Patel found that that in 1993 and 1994 -- the height of public debate over Clinton's plan -- the New York Times reported just 257 stories about policy considerations (proposed reforms and solutions, analyses of options) and a whopping 549 on politics (personalities, disagreement, partisanship). When the nation's health care system was at stake, spats received more coverage than substance.

    There's more.

  • NYT can't find any journalists to quote in an article about journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Ethan Bronner in the Times reports on how the Israeli government has banned journalists from entering Gaza to report on Israel's invasion or the previous bombing missions. The issue has been a hotly debated one in recent days and seems central to the question of covering international conflicts.

    Yet amazingly, the Times does not include a single quote from anyone at the Times itself--an editor or correspondent--regarding the Gaza ban and how it impacts their efforts to try to cover the conflict. In fact, the Times article doesn't quote any journalists in the region about the ban. The article simply references a statement issued by the foreign press association.

    Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper also reported on the Gaza ban and, quite logically, he interviewed journalists in the region (including those who work for CNN) to get their opinion. For some reason the Times had no interest in interviewing journalists for an article about journalism.

    The Times did however, quote four separate Israeli government officials.

    BTW, if Howard Kurtz thinks the ban on journalists in Gaza is such a big deal, as he claims today it is in his online column with a passing reference, than why doesn't he write about it for the Washington Post newspaper? To date, the Post has not published a single news article about the ban.

  • CBS' Harry Smith: "I'm still not satisfied that we served any public good" by hosting Coulter

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Of course they didn't.

    More from Smith: "The thing is, there are things she says that have a real place in our ongoing political conversation in terms of issues of importance to everybody."

    Ok. Name one.

    Smith: "The point I was trying to make to her was that if she was more serious, she would be taken more seriously."

    What Ann Coulter understands and Harry Smith does not is that Coulter is taken seriously. She is taken seriously by Harry Smith and CBS, who provide her a national television platform from which to sell her books and peddle her sleaze and lies.

    And that reflects on Harry Smith and CBS.

  • Time for another blogger ethics panel

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    To discuss the work of former Laura Bush flack and Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm, who wrote glowingly about Laura Bush this week while failing to inform readers that he used to work for her. Oh my.

    Meanwhile, Ezra Klein suggests we need yet another blogger ethics panel to address a different LA Times editorial miscue this week.

  • Still waiting for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Conservatives were anxiously awaiting this week the debut of a new group blog that's supposed going to change the way people think about pop culture. No really. And it must be a big deal because Howie Kurtz invited the blog's founder, Andrew Breitbart, onto CNN to hype the site even before the blog went live!

    It's called Big Hollywood and it's where lots of (unknown) right-wingers congregate and discuss how rotten and evil and unpatriotic movie studios are. (Early BH theme: The war on terror has been a success!) The site's been up for less than two days and already the anti-Hollywood topic feels like it's been beaten to death. The coming months should be just fascinating.

    And conservatives still wonder why the Rightroots movement online has so little political influence as compared to the liberal blogosphere?

  • LA Times ignores Harry Reid's denial, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Former Laura Bush flack and LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm returned to the topic of Sen. Harry Reid and how people now think he's biased against blacks. And why do they think that? Because of people like Malcolm.

    Over the weekend, as CF noted, Malcolm hyped a nasty Chicago Sun-Times article, leaked by Blago sources, that pretty much suggested Reid insisted a black not be appointed to fill Barack Obama's senate seat. Malcolm thought that revelation added to the "molten stew" that was the Blago scandal.

    Again, as CF noted, Reid appeared on MTP over the weekend and categorically denied ever making that claim to Blago about black candidates. But for some reason Malcolm never found time/space to update his "molten stew" post to include Reid's unequivocal denial.

    Now in his follow-up post, Malcolm stresses that there's a "public perception" that Reid's biased against blacks. Who helped plant that perception? People like Malcolm.

  • The Drudge collapse, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Yet more distortions. This one regarding Obama's pick to run the CIA, Leon Panetta. Here's the Drudge headline:

    Feinstein rips CIA-Panetta pick: 'I was not informed'...

    But the Los Angeles Times article Drudge links to contains no Feinstein criticism of Panetta; she doesn't "rip" him. This is the only Feinstein quote/mention in the article:

    "I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director," Feinstein said. "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time."

    Maybe Drudge was too distracted talking to NBC "insiders" about banning Ann Coulter for life to get the LA Times facts straight.

  • Politico, please define "expert"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Addressing the Bush legacy, Politico published a strident defense by GOP talk show host Hugh Hewitt, which really must be read to be fully appreciated. (Trust us, you'll be amazed.)

    But aside from the rampant misinformation Hewitt pumped out as part of his loving remembrance to Bush (short Hewitt: Bush was just misunderstood), we couldn't help wondering, what makes Hewitt an "expert"?

    As part of the introduction, Politico wrote:

    How will Bush's legacy fare? Politico asked the experts to consider his place in history.

    As part of its round-up, Politico published a Bush essay by Matthew Dallek, who teaches at the University of California Washington Center. Expert? Sure. Another by John Feehery, who worked for the House Republican leadership from 1989 to 2005. Expert? We guess. Not exactly independent, but we'll say yes, an expert.

    But Hewitt an expert? Please. He's a paid GOP apologist, propagandist, and a not very well-informed one at that. We're pretty sure if Politico actually wanted to find three Bush "experts," they could have found them, minus AM talker Hewitt.

  • ABC News portrays senate Democrats as anti-black bigots

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is quite amazing, as ABC, like lots of media outlets, continues to jack up the racial angle to the Blago-Burris story.

    From ABC's David Wright:

    "Not since Mr. Smith came to Washington, in that old Frank Capra film, has an idealistic senator appointed by a corrupt party boss been so unwelcome at the Capitol. But at least Mr. Smith got his seat," David Wright reported on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday. "But it's also distinctly possible the scene will look more like 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?' The senators may seem out of touch, if this overwhelmingly white group refuses to admit the one and only black man seeking to join their exclusive club."

    Wright went on to stress that Burris' "only sin" was that he was appointed by a "tainted politician," which may represent new heights in the art of the understatement.