• OMG you guys, who's gonna be HuffPo's next most favoritist White House correspondent?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Yes, as Politico's Michael Calderone points out, Huffington Post is asking readers to vote for their favorite White House correspondent:

    Current nominees: Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie, John Yang, Suzanne Malveaux, Ed Henry, Bill Plante, Jake Tapper, Major Garrett and Wendell Goler.

    Henry would like your vote. But some think there are some notable exemptions: Former White House press office staffer Pete Seat wants Chip Reid and Washington Times White House correspondent Christina Bellantoni thinks Mark Knoller was robbed.

    Personally, I can't wait for class favorites like "Most likely to ask questions devoid of substance." I'm looking at you Ed Henry.

    Not my cup of tea, but if you like this sort of thing, go vote.

  • You wouldn't know it from news reports, but most doctors support national health care

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In the comments section of my column about media coverage of the AMA, a reader writes:

    Do you think you are fooling people? In this entire article, you never once address what the FAR MAJORITY of Doctors believe. They believe that a nationalized program will be the downfall of coverage and care as we know it. There is no argument there. And all you had to do was look at polls or interview them. It i no secret. Do your job as a jornalist. ...

    If you all want to be responsible reporters, then report the facts. The facts are Doctors OVERWHELMINGLY are opposed to a nationalized plan. All you have to do is ask. And to imply that is not the case is hogwash, and you should be ashamed of yourselfs. Unfortunately, your lemming readers will belive it.

    Well. I'm no journalist; I'm a media critic. But the reader is correct that responsible reporters should report the facts. And the facts are that, despite what the media is reporting about the AMA's recent comments would lead you to believe, most doctors support national health care:

    More than half of U.S. doctors now favor switching to a national health care plan and fewer than a third oppose the idea, according to a survey published on Monday.

    The survey suggests that opinions have changed substantially since the last survey in 2002 and as the country debates serious changes to the health care system.

    Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program, while 32 percent said they opposed it, researchers reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

    The 2002 survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported national health insurance and 40 percent opposed it.

    "Many claim to speak for physicians and represent their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support national health insurance," said Dr. Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

    "As doctors, we find that our patients suffer because of increasing deductibles, co-payments, and restrictions on patient care," said Dr. Ronald Ackermann, who worked on the study with Carroll. "More and more, physicians are turning to national health insurance as a solution to this problem."


    "Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now support national insurance as the remedy," Ackermann said in a statement.

    The Indiana survey found that 83 percent of psychiatrists, 69 percent of emergency medicine specialists, 65 percent of pediatricians, 64 percent of internists, 60 percent of family physicians and 55 percent of general surgeons favor a national health insurance plan.

  • Rupert Murdoch's MySpace blunder

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Via Romenesko:

    MySpace has become a textbook case of how quickly a digital juggernaut can become a has-been, writes Matthew Flamm. The head of a research firm tells him: "It may be that Rupert [Murdoch] is ultimately a newspaper guy. The idea [with MySpace] may have been, 'We bought you, so make it happen for us.'"

    Perhaps Rupert just couldn't figure out how to force one point of view down the throats of a few million users.

    Go! Do things internets! I command thee!

  • "I'd like to talk to you about that thing you put on the Friendsters and Tweeters..."

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Editor & Publisher has an interesting look at how newspaper editors are reacting to the use of popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook by their journalists. As you can imagine, newspaper ethics policies for social networking sites are all over the map...

    From Editor & Publisher:

    The Los Angeles Times issued a list of guidelines in March, while The Wall Street Journal gained attention in May when it expanded its conduct guidelines to include a host of online-related restrictions, including warnings not to "friend" confidential sources or get into Web- related arguments with critics. The Washington Post, just a day later, did the same (as I observe in my story on p. 5). But not everyone is laying down the law on Twitter. Some papers want staffers to take a casual, open approach, while others admit they aren't sure how to police the social media outlets and still allow them to be useful.


    Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, started tweeting, albeit sparingly, last month. "I have asked people to use common sense and respect the workplace and assume whatever they tweet will be tied to the paper," he told me. "Even when they are tweeting personal information to their followers, they are still representing the New York Times."

    The Washington Post's new policy on social networking sites, created in mid-May, asks users to avoid "verbal fisticuffs with rivals or critics." The paper's policy adds: "In general, we expect that the journalism our reporters produce will be published through The Washington Post, in print or digitally, not on personal blogs, Facebook or MySpace pages, or via Twitter or other new media. We are happy to have reporters post links to their stories or other Post material.


    The Los Angeles Times "social media" guidelines make clear that staffers are always representing the paper when they engage in online activities: "Assume that your professional life and your personal life merge online regardless of your care in separating them. Don't write or post anything that would embarrass the LAT or compromise your ability to do your job."


    When I asked Associated Press Director of Media Relations Paul Colford about Twitter and Facebook policies, he cited a portion of the AP's "news values and principles," which states: "Anyone who works for the AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP's reputation as an unbiased source of news."

    Perhaps news outlets (print/broadcast/online) should post their ethics policies online. Not just policies as they relate to social networking but the policies that guide reporters in general.

    Over the years we've seen numerous examples of media figures breaching the tenants of basic journalistic integrity if not their employers' stated ethics policies. If editors are too busy to police their own reporters, I'm sure the American people would be happy to pick up the slack – on Twitter, on Facebook, on the news pages or on the air.

    If you use the social networking site Facebook, be sure to join the official Media Matters page and those of our senior fellows Eric Boehlert, Jamison Foser, and Karl Frisch as well. You can also follow Media Matters, Boehlert, Foser, and Frisch on Twitter.

  • About that Pew Research Center study that claimed Obama gets great press

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's the one conservatives, and even Beltway pundits, are still crowing about as definitive proof that the press has swooned over Obama; that it refuses to write critically about the new president. That the press has a liberal bias.

    It's all very awful and dangerous, we're told again and again:

    The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment; but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.

    That was the Washington Post's Robert Samuelson, who built a recent column around the Pew study. In fact, it was the only evidence Samuelson used to prove his point. The Pew study said it all, right?

    First, we've never been crazy about the Pew studies simply because they're an act of faith. Pew says its researchers look over all kinds of media coverage and determine which reports are "favorable," which were "neutral" and which were "negative." Personally, I don't see how most news report could or would fit into any category but "neutral."

    Does Pew really suggest that Newsweek or the New York Times routinely publish political news article that are entirely positive or entirely negative. That doesn't sound like the news report I'm familiar with.

    But more importantly with the Obama study, Pew made a very big deal about the fact that 42 percent of Obama's press coverage was, according to its researchers, positive. But when you start poking around Pew's methodology, that number doesn't look so firm. Why? Because the 42 percent figure was culled from a study that examined just seven media outlets to determine the tone of Obama's coverage.

    No joke. The Pew study only monitored coverage in the Times, the WashPost, Newsweek, as well as the evening news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS.

    That kind of study might have worked in 1984 or even 1994. But it in no way reflects the mushrooming media choices news consumers face today. And that's why, to Pew's credit, it did a second, broader study, which monitored Obama's coverage among nearly 50 media outlets, including cable TV and online.

    What were the results of that study? Obama's press coverage was first and foremost neutral, not positive: 40 percent neutral, 37 percent positive and 23 percent negative. But rather than go with the headline "Obama's Press Coverage Mostly Neutral," Pew hyped the finding from the study with the ridiculously small media base and crowed that the new president's coverage was quite favorable.

    BTW, the name of the Pew study was "Obama's First 100 Days" even though it really wasn't:

    "Obama's First 100 Days" is based on the aggregated data and coding from January 21 through March 21, 2009. This timeframe begins the day following the inauguration of President Obama and runs through his 60th day in office.

    I'm just sayin'.

  • Congressional Black Caucus says Sunday shows need more diversity

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Over the years Media Matters has released several detailed reports documenting the lack of ideological, racial and gender diversity within the media in general and on the all-important Sunday morning network political talk shows more specifically.

    Well, this morning The Hill reports that the Congressional Black Caucus is calling for increased diversity on the Sunday shows:

    "I'm not pleased at all with the diversity issue as it relates to talk shows," CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in an interview with The Hill. "We have, what, 17 subcommittee chairs and four full-committee chairmen? These members are brilliant; they know their stuff. They're powerful and they should be part of the Sunday morning talk shows."

    Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), secretary of the CBC, calls himself a "fan" of the Sunday shows, but said he'd like to see change.

    "The morning talk shows need to increase the number of African-Americans," Butterfield said. "Not only for diversity, but it would also be good for the ratings."

    The comments come three years after a study found a striking lack of black participants on the shows. The original study was completed before Democrats took over Congress in the 2006 elections, which put many more black and Hispanic lawmakers into positions of power.

    But some legislators say that hasn't been reflected on the shows.

    In the past, the networks have contended that their guest line-ups reflect those in power despite the fact that little changed in 2007 after Democrats took control of Congress. By their own standard one would expect things to look a little different on Sunday mornings these days.


  • The Red Scare Index: 63

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for last Friday, June 12, 2009:

    TOTAL: 63
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 28
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 23
    Marxism/Marxist: 7
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 5

    By Network:

    CNN: 14
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 10
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNN Headline News: 4
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    Fox News Channel: 13
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 4
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 5
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    Fox Business Network: 10
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    MSNBC: 17
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 6
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNBC: 5
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a power search for these terms on these networks.

  • Actual Journalism!

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    While much of the media has relied on the Jeffrey Rosen Method of Determining Judicial Temperament (also known as "assuming that a small handful of anonymous quotes tell the whole story") NPR actually listened to recordings of oral arguments in two high-profile cases involving Sonia Sotomayor. NPR's Nina Totenberg concluded:

    Yes, these are tough questions, but are they mean, unduly snotty or abusive? No more so than the questions heard on a routine basis in the U.S. Supreme Court.

    But a handful of anonymous observers have said she is a bully. What could possibly explain those complaints, if they aren't consistent with actual audio recordings of Sotomayor in action? Oh. Right:

    Judge Guido Calabresi, former Yale Law School dean and Sotomayor's mentor, now says that when Sotomayor first joined the Court of Appeals, he began hearing rumors that she was overly aggressive, and he started keeping track, comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.

    "And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn't stand being questioned toughly by a woman," Calabresi says. "It was sexism in its most obvious form."

  • A health care flashback

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Look what I came across while researching my column about media coverage of the American Medical Association (note the date):

    The Associated Press

    August 25, 1994, Thursday, AM cycle

    Health Reform Failure Wouldn't Neccessarily Mean Big Price Increases
    BYLINE: By STEVE SAKSON, AP Business Writer
    SECTION: Business News
    LENGTH: 750 words

    The price of health care could accelerate if Congress fails to pass major reforms, but that doesn't mean doctor bills will double or prescription drugs become a privilege of the rich.

    America's corporations - the biggest buyers of health benefits - have been forcing reforms on their own for years. Regardless what happens in Washington they'll keep cutting costs, reducing chances that drug companies, hospitals and other medical providers would seek to sharply raise prices.

    Just something to keep in mind the next time you see a news report offer industry-friendly spin that things won't be that bad if comprehensive health care reform doesn't happen.