9/30/2008 12:08:41 PM
In case you hadn’t heard the good news, Bitch has been saved—and then some. On Monday, September 15, the Portland-based feminist magazine issued a red-alert call for donations: They needed to raise $40,000 by October 15, they said, in order to print the next issue.
“Save Bitch!” posts quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, and within three days, they’d surpassed their goal—they were already looking at $46,000. And even then, donations kept pouring in; they’re up to about $55,000 as of last week, according to Bitch publisher Debbie Rasmussen.
If you’re wondering how an independent magazine is able to mobilize that much support in an economy this crappy, look no further than the lovefests—er, comments sections—here and here. People feel invested in Bitch, in its past and present and future; they remember the first time they read it, and what they’ve loved and hated about it; it speaks to them so strongly that they feel it’s worth more than $20 a year. That depth of connection, that strength of community—that is the future of independent publishing.
9/30/2008 10:12:51 AM
Creative Loafing Inc., which owns eponymous alt-weeklies in Tampa, Atlanta, Sarasota, and Charlotte, as well as the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 29. CEO Ben Eason assured employees that the move will leave editorial budgets and staffs intact, and it looks like all six titles are planning to continue publishing in print, though editors are being encouraged to pursue "web-first" strategies.
“I’m filing [bankruptcy] because the economy sucks,” said Eason, whose parents founded Creative Loafing Atlanta in 1972. He told employees that the "safe harbor" of Chapter 11 would allow the company to work out a solid online advertising strategy and reorder its finances.
“This isn’t a failing company,” Eason wrote in an email to his newspapers’ executives, “but instead one caught squarely by this challenging economy between old media and new media.”
9/24/2008 6:07:42 PM
The press has finally had enough of the McCain campaign’s decision to cloister Sarah Palin away from interviews and press conferences. Reporters cried foul yesterday in a widely publicized blowup over who would be allowed to witness Palin’s meetings with world leaders in New York City. As Ta-Nehisi Coates predicted on the Atlantic blogs, “even the meekest, most bespectacled, nerdiest kid has a breaking point.”
The McCain campaign has been garnering headlines lately by attacking the press, pointing out how reporters are “in the tank” for Obama and criticizing them for being too hard on Palin. The problem is, Jeffery Goldberg writes for the Atlantic blogs, “If Sarah Palin becomes vice president, she will presumably have meetings with people who are scarier than Michael Cooper, the Times reporter who seems to have the misfortune of covering her today.”
Even conservatives have begun to wonder about the McCain-Palin game of hide-the-candidate. Rod Dreher, who blogs as Crunchy Con, writes, “If she can't answer questions like any normal politician, what business does she have on the ticket?” Daniel Larison writes on the American Conservative that the strategy “confirms not only that Palin is not ready for the VP spot but that the presidential nominee himself regards his running mate as little more than window dressing.”
McCain may view her as “window dressing.” He may also view her as “a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment," which is how Campbell Brown described Palin’s treatment on CNN (video below). Brown eloquently attacked the McCain campaign from a feminist perspective, calling on them to “free Sarah Palin,” and allow her to talk to reporters. “You claim she is ready to be one heart beat away from the presidency,” Brown declared. “If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now.”
9/24/2008 1:44:35 PM
Three weeks after the Republican National Convention came to St. Paul, Mayor Chris Coleman announced that the city will drop charges of unlawful assembly against journalists stemming from protests outside of the Xcel Energy Center. The Associated Press quoted Coleman’s prepared statement: “This decision reflects the values we have in St. Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press.”
In the weeks leading to this decision, journalists across the country have shared outrage, disappointment, and anger at the sheer number of their own arrested throughout the four-day event. And yet, in decrying the treatment of their credentialed peers, journalists fail to recognize that every citizen has a First Amendment right to record events taking place on a public street, including police actions.
This right has been identified in federal court, specifically in Robinson v. Fetterman and Smith v. City of Cumming. The United States Supreme Court has also articulated, in Branzburg v. Hayes, that the First Amendment right to freedom of the press applies not only to the mainstream and well-funded press, but also to the “lonely pamphleteer.” With the rise of handheld technology and the internet, today’s “lonely pamphleteer,” the blogger or citizen journalist, has gone from an abstract idea to a reality relatively quickly. For example, citizen journalism non-profit the UpTake had a notable presence at both the Democratic and Republican conventions, streaming tons of live footage of protester and police clashes with the use of cell phones.
So, who IS a journalist? What criteria will determine who qualifies for dropped charges and who does not? And why aren’t we hearing more outrage from journalists concerning First Amendment rights violations in general, rather than solely addressing the rights of traditional journalists?
A forum sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists held at the University of Minnesota Monday evening sought to identify what went right and what went wrong with media and law enforcement during the RNC. Moderated by the Poynter Institute’s Al Tompkins, the panel included St. Paul Dep. Mayor Ann Mulholland, KARE-11 photojournalist Jonathan Malat, Assistant Police Chief Matt Bostrom and Pioneer Press reporter Mara Gottfried.
Notably absent from the panel was a representative of alternative media, although as the conversation ensued, concerned citizens and journalists from alternative media outlets took their turn at the microphone. Charlie Underwood, who was a street medic during the protests, disputed the focus on journalists. “Are you trying to reserve a special category of citizen that does not get pepper sprayed, that does not get arrested, that does not have the same punitive things happen to them under these situations of police brutality that the rest of us do?” he asked.
Tompkins responded, “The question that we’re here for tonight, Charlie, is this: How do people like Jonathan and Mara do their jobs as journalists and not get arrested?”
“How do all of us do our jobs and not get arrested?” interjected someone from the crowd. The man, who identified himself as Ed Felien, editor of the Minneapolis neighborhood newspaper Southside Pride, went to the microphone.
“All of us have a right to be on the streets. Journalism has gone through a tremendous revolution in the last 10 years. It’s no longer the two or three corporations that control the television networks or the newspapers. There’s no longer this concentration of power that has a monopoly on all the news. There’s a lot of stuff happening on the Internet, there’s a lot of stuff happening on YouTube and so on, that has much more validity for people than whatever Rupert Murdoch thinks is news. I think Charlie’s point is absolutely to the point. I’m not a member of that media, I’m a member of a different, alternative media, and I have absolute rights to witness what’s happening and a responsibility to communicate that.”
When Tompkins confronted panelists with the question of how to define a journalist, they displayed clear reluctance to give a definition. Gottfried seemed the least willing to answer the question, simply responding with, “I don’t know.” Deputy Mayor Mulholland said that she believed the mayor was referring to anyone who was there to tell a story and called themselves a journalist, but went on to say, “I have no idea how to define a journalist, and I don’t know that all of us in the room really know how to define journalist. I therefore ask the question, how are law enforcement officials supposed to answer that question while in the midst of a public safety scene?”
Well, the question was not answered that evening. Nor, perhaps, should it be. As First Amendment lawyer Mark Anfinson, who attended the forum, pointed out, defining who is and who is not a journalist leads us down a slippery slope of government regulation of the press, which is a very clear violation of how the courts have interpreted freedom of press.
Another local media lawyer, Steven P. Aggergaard, who writes the blog Media Law Minnesota, provides perhaps the most clearheaded analysis of what should be considered in this potentially precedent-setting endeavor:
The First Amendment was not adopted to protect journalists. It was enacted to protect free expression for everyone. True, the First Amendment specifically ensures a free press, but I simply do not believe that "the press" had the same meaning in 1791 as it does today. Early Americans wanted to make sure that the people who operated printing presses and therefore enabled large-scale free expression would not be subject to the burdensome licensing schemes prevalent in Europe. The First Amendment’s drafters did not intend to extend special privileges to massive for-profit media conglomerates or even to bloggers for that matter. Rather, they sought to protect the rights of anyone who had something to say, protesters included.
As for those protesters, I completely agree that some at the RNC crossed the line. As I said previously, those who participated in the near-riots committed criminal acts. But the large number of onlookers who merely sought to express themselves, to watch people express themselves, or to document people expressing themselves committed no crimes. Cases closed.
UPDATE (9/26/08): Watch video of the SPJ panel at the UpTake.
Image by uberculture, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/22/2008 4:32:58 PM
Now that Sarah Palin’s meet-and-greet with the media is almost a distant memory, McCain aides are taking their turn in the ring, and the gloves are off. In the second big McCain-media tussle of the fall campaign, McCain strategist Steve Schmidt unleashed fiery attacks against the New York Times, calling the venerable paper “a pro-Obama advocacy organization” and claiming that “it is today not by any standard a journalistic organization.”
Schmidt's fury was sparked by a story about McCain campaign manager Rick Davis’s ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Times reported that Fannie and Freddie paid Davis almost $2 million while he served as president of an advocacy group the companies formed to fight increased regulation, and that Davis held the position primarily because of his close relationship with John McCain.
Bill Keller, the Times' executive editor, responded to the campaign’s accusations in an email to Politico:
It's our job to ask hard questions, fact-check their statements and their advertising, examine their programs, positions, biographies and advisors. Candidates and their campaign operatives are not always comfortable with that level of scrutiny, but it's what our readers expect and deserve.
According to Politico, McCain aides also held a conference call encouraging reporters to hit Obama harder. “But,” writes Ben Smith, “the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy.” (Are we sensing a pattern here?)
When Politico pressed the campaign about the inaccuracies, they got this response:
One McCain aide, Michael Goldfarb, said Politico was “quibbling with ridiculously small details when the basic things are completely right.”
Another, Brian Rogers, responded more directly:
“You are in the tank,” he e-mailed.
Of course, it is a reporter's job to identify such "small" falsehoods. But, no matter, the media-bashing continues. Until next time. . .
Image by soggydan, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/22/2008 3:37:37 PM
The Virginia Supreme Court has overturned its conviction of spammer Jeremy Jaynes on the grounds that the state’s anti-spam law could potentially infringe on free speech. In 2003, Jaynes was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison for violation of the Virginia Computer Crimes Act. After a February 2008 appeal, the court voted 4-3 to uphold the verdict, but later decided to revisit the defendant’s argument that the law violated the First Amendment. This month they concluded that the law is "unconstitutionally overbroad on its face because it prohibits the anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mail including those containing political, religious or other speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” It’s important to note, however, that this won't lead to a male-enhancement products free-for-all: The federal CAN-SPAM Act is still in place.
(Thanks, Maud Newton.)
9/19/2008 3:26:27 PM
There are some ads political campaigns never intend to air themselves, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear plenty about them. Rather than doling out cash to beam these ads into American living rooms, campaigns route them directly to the online and cable news media to shape the day’s story lines. The ads themselves are the story.
According to Politico’s Jonathan Martin, a look at ads airing nationwide on a Sunday in mid-September illustrates how this messaging strategy works. Martin turned to Evan Tracey from the Campaign Media Analysis Group for the numbers: On one Sunday, Obama aired 1,589 commercials to McCain’s 1,490. But the ads that were being talked about most by journalists—Obama’s ad with a huge '80s-style cell phone painting McCain as out of touch, and McCain’s pack-of-wolves spot depicting sexist attacks on Palin—never aired as paid spots.
Of course, that doesn’t mean these spots didn’t get airtime. As raw material for cable news and online chatter, these sorts of ads are aired by talk shows and posted on websites at no cost to the campaigns. Former Al Gore aide Chris Lehane told Martin, “The ads have become far more provocative and entertaining, making it really hard to ignore them. . . there is such a comprehensive media environment between the traditional media and online media that these pieces get picked up and end up impacting the daily news cycle. Think news cycles within news cycles—like the small hands of a clock turning the bigger hands—and that is how these spots work.”
Another key strategy in the campaigns’ efforts to drive media story lines: Give reporters very little access to the candidates. In a related article about the campaigns’ relationship with the press, Politico contends that the reporters traveling with Obama and McCain have “little impact on the broad campaign narratives and daily story lines that supply most voters with their impressions of the candidates. . . A combination of technology and iron message discipline by heavily centralized campaigns has consigned these reporters—once the storied “boys on the bus”—largely to feeding off the public material available to almost anyone over the Web, with very little interaction with the next president of the United States.”
Is this why we hear so much about lipstick and pigs?
Image by Inside Cable News, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/16/2008 5:24:21 PM
If you’re not familiar with Bitch or haven’t read it in a while, here's the lowdown: It is a 12-year-old independent magazine that looks at feminism through a pop-culture lens. It is genuine and earnest and playful at turns; it is surprising, incisive; it is the only print magazine out there doing what it is doing.
And I have to say, as a longtime fan of Bitch, this magazine just keeps getting better and better: The writing is tighter, the analysis deeper, the pieces more varied with every (quarterly) installment. I flagged nearly every article in their new issue (#41) to discuss at our next pitch meeting—to name just a couple of standouts, there’s an energetic discussion about why “it’s a new golden age of young-adult fiction,” despite continued censorship of books with “adult” language and sexual content, and an awesome, inspiring Q&A with the Detroit hip-hop artist and activist Invincible (articles not available online).
Please watch this short video in which Bitch’s top ladies, Debbie Rasmussen (publisher) and Andi Zeisler (editorial and creative director) explain the magazine’s plight. Basically, they need $40,000 by October 15 to print their next issue, and it looks like donations are already pouring in. (Bitches make great gifts, too!)
UPDATE (9/19/2008): Bitch has already surpassed its goal! They raised a mind-boggling $46,000 this week, which means their next issue will hit newsstands December 1. Hooray for happy indie-press news!
9/16/2008 9:02:03 AM
Sarah Palin’s performance on ABC last week has been extensively analyzed, but as the only journalist allowed access to the candidate since her announcement, how did Charles Gibson do?
Before the interview, speculation swirled about whether Gibson would go easy on Palin, and pundits and voters from around the country advised him on what to ask. Was he tough enough, too tough, and were your questions answered?
Jack Shafer at Slate gives Gibson high marks: “At every point in the Q&A, Gibson had the right follow-up questions to elicit more from Palin, including after he asked the Bush Doctrine cringe-maker.”
The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz liked Gibson’s work, too: “What the ABC newsman conducted yesterday was a serious, professional interview that went right at the heart of what we want and need to know about the governor: Could she be president? Does she understand the nuances of international affairs? Does she have a world view?” (Thanks, TVNewser.)
Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics recaps reader responses as mixed: “Speaking of Gibson, some people thought he was fair, while others said he looked like set out to try and make Palin look bad. More than a few mentioned what they saw as his condescending attitude—a number described Gibson's demeanor in terms of a snobby professor delivering a pop quiz while looking down his nose at his subject.”
The conservative blog Newsbusters has no praise for Gibson: “But there was more than Charlie's sneering condescending tone, looking down over the rim of his glasses like some snobby intellectual that bothered me. Twisting her words into a fabrication feeding the fear of theocracy was utterly insulting.”
The liberal blog Crooks and Liars thinks Gibson did fine: “To his credit, Charlie Gibson actually did a pretty good job of grilling Sarah Palin in her first interview since accepting the Republican nomination.”
My two cents: I was glad to see him push her, but also thought he missed some follow-up questions. One that stuck out: When asked what special insight into Russia Alaska’s proximity to the country gave her, Palin responded that you can actually see Russia from Alaska. Gibson moved on.
9/16/2008 8:45:04 AM
Hosted by Sarah Haskins with sardonic, faux-naïve enthusiasm, “Target: Women” is the standout segment of Current TV’s online news show infoMania.
In each episode, Haskins sets her sights on an especially ridiculous media trend targeting the young female demographic, satirizing the insipid pop-culture trends that nevertheless remain infuriatingly popular, such as reality shows about weddings (“They put the ‘we’ in ‘wedding’ and the ‘end’ in ‘feminism’”), birth control ads (“It’s Yaz, the pill that stops all those symptoms, so you can do the women things you love, like run, wear big earrings, hug friends, and have a cool, non-specific media job”), and chick flicks (“She’s in for a surprise, when: unlikely suitor / high-concept hijinks / unnecessary obstacle / true love / happy ending!”).
Haskins got an easy target when Sarah Palin became John McCain’s VP pick. In her Palin segment, Haskins slyly celebrates that mythical demographic of Hillary supporters who the McCain campaign cynically believes will vote for Palin simply because she’s a woman. Haskins calls them P.A.N.T.H.E.R.s—joining other jungle-cat demographics like PUMAs and Cougars—whose acronym stands for “Proud American Needing Token Hillary Estrogen Replacement.”
Like the Daily Show or the Onion, “Target: Women” is smart satire disguised as hilarious pop-culture commentary. I hope that Sarah Haskins keeps it up for as long as the media cynically exploits her demographic—which is to say, forever.
9/11/2008 2:08:17 PM
When Chicago stand-up comedian and political activist Ken Swanborn died, his family placed a paid death notice in the Chicago Tribune ending with the request “In lieu of flowers, please vote Democratic.” The Tribune quickly removed the line from the obituary before it ran, citing a policy against “discriminatory or offensive” material. Chicago Reader blogger Michael Miner cried foul and was told by a Tribune employee that the deleted line could potentially offend Republican readers. But, Miner points out, what about offending the family who paid to place the announcement?
Is this a denial of free speech or merely a newspaper trying to stay neutral?
9/10/2008 9:24:45 AM
We all know how much fun it is to gather around a television with like-minded friends and shout snide things at the unpalatable speeches being broadcast. Now imagine doing that in a theater filled with 300 drunk liberals.
That’s precisely what I did last Thursday, at the tail end of Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead’s multimedia satire, Shoot the Messenger. The show holds weekly performances in New York City, where Winstead and her ensemble spoof the week’s headlines during a parodic morning news show called Wake Up World (“America’s only 6-hour morning show!”)
But last week, in dubious honor of the RNC, Winstead’s troupe brought their show to her native Minneapolis for three nights at the Parkway Theater. Each evening’s events went beyond mere theater to include live feeds from the RNC and musical performances from revered protest singer Billy Bragg and local legends Dan Wilson, Jim Walsh, and Grant Hart.
Before the show, the Parkway’s seats were mostly full of chatty people munching popcorn as the onstage screen showed eminently believable ads for the “24/7 Infonewsment Network’s” fake shows, such as Poll Dancing with sexy anchorwoman Emily Rackcheck and MedicAsian with Dr. Vijay Jay.
Winstead and her co-star Baron Vaughn starred as Wake Up World’s chipper, clueless hosts Hope Jean Paul and Davis Miles. Hope Jean Paul is, like her creator, from the Twin Cities area: “I’m originally from Coon Rapids,” she chirped, to which Vaughn (who is African American) replied, “Wow! Sounds like my kind of place!” Naughty laughter erupted and Winstead replied, “Now, Davis, try not to be offended by the name, just because it contains the word Rapids.”
That joke set the tone for the show, whose mix of absurdity and topical satire has made Winstead’s more famous brainchild the Daily Show a media phenomenon for over a decade. Wake Up World, even more so than the Daily Show or its cousin the Colbert Report, is an acerbic and overtly partisan takedown of our leaders’ hypocrisies and the 24-hour news cycle’s vapid excesses.
In true morning-show form, Winstead and Vaughn hyped insipid segments like Lumpy the Cancer-Sniffing Dog, who they promised would find the one lucky audience member with a malignant tumor. A pro–big oil energy “expert” was brought in to discuss his new book The Town Pump: Alternatives to Alternative Energy. And a member of private security contractor Blackwater sat down with the hosts to discuss his new miracle fitness regimen: “Extreme Waterboard Abs.”
Pulchritudinous newsgal Emily Rackcheck delivered hourly news updates in a low-cut sweater and miniskirt. Bloviators Hunter Carlsbad (wearing a bowtie) and Daniels Midland (host of the Complication Room) shouted at each other during a Crossfire-style segment touted as “a debate between both sides of the political spectrum: the Far Right and the Right of Center!”
Winstead also tailored the show to the region with pre-taped biographical puff pieces on Laurie Coleman and Michelle Bachman subtitled “Behind the Taut Canvas.” There were ads for “a 31-part investigative series” called White in America and a gauzy video appeal from Sarah Silverman for charitable donations to private contracting firms.
After Wake Up World concluded, the evening shifted gears for its second segment, where Winstead reappeared as herself and sat down with liberal talk-radio host Ed Schultz to discuss the RNC—specifically Palin, whose fur-coat photo Winstead captioned “Wasilla DeVille.” Schultz was witty and affable, assuring us that McCain’s campaign would buckle under the weight of its own hypocrisy: “Look, everything’s going to be fine. And if it’s not, then we get another vice president who might shoot someone in the face!”
This marathon mix of political discourse, satire, and campy theatre was only a prelude, however, for the evening’s main event: a massive group viewing of John McCain’s speech. The audience, now well-lubricated and ready to laugh not so much with satirical glee as incredulous derision, filed back into the theater as McCain’s hagiographic video was playing on the giant screen, which had been tuned to MSNBC’s live feed from the convention.
As the man himself took the stage, the theater audience erupted with boos and squeals. The people around me gladly obeyed the rules of a drinking game Winstead had announced earlier: that we hoist our glasses every time the word maverick was used. Genuine cheers burst forth when MSNBC’s cameras zoomed in on the IVAW and Code Pink protestors who had infiltrated the hall.
As the speech dragged on and John McCain’s smiling rictus became increasingly creepy, the Parkway crowd got rowdier and my convention fatigue peaked. Around the moment when the last poorly programmed image appeared behind the penis-shaped stage, I fled the theater for some fresh air. When I went back inside a few minutes later, I encountered a completely different scene which cleared my head, the perfect antidote to the televised nightmare we’d just seen: Dan Wilson was playing his ubiquitous and charming hit single “Closing Time” to a much smaller crowd gathered near the front of the theater, kicking off one of Jim Walsh’s famous Hootenannies. Then Grant Hart took the stage, and the aging avatars of the Minneapolis counterculture settled further into their seats to watch their heroes perform, resting after a long evening—and week—of politicized sensory overload.
9/5/2008 5:56:37 PM
Throughout the Republican National Convention, the offices of the UpTake were a central hub for bloggers and independent media. Located just outside the security barrier that protected the Xcel Center in downtown St. Paul, bloggers including Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com, Matt Stoller of Open Left, and many others used the office to file stories and report on both the official RNC events and the protests.
For the latest episode of the UtneCast, I spoke with Jason Barnett (pictured left), executive director of the UpTake, about what his organization hopes to add to the coverage of the RNC and how technology is changing the media.
You can listen to the interview below, or to subscribe to the UtneCast for free through iTunes, click here.
Interview with Jason Barnett of the UpTake on Media and the RNC : Play Now
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9/5/2008 9:46:31 AM
Personalized advertisements will soon make the leap from the internet to your TV screen, writes Brian Morrissey for Mediaweek. Within the next ten years, cable companies will be working with networks to customize commercials for individual viewers based on their interests and communities.
How will they find this information? Simple: You'll give it to them. Morrissey, citing a new report by Forrester Research, notes that the advent of on-demand programming and the availability of local demographics often provide cable companies with as much information about their subscribers as a web browser does. Eventually, the Forrester report suggests, these (non-skippable) ads will allow your TV to function more like the web, where you can go from ad to point of purchase with the push of a few buttons. But is this true innovation, or is corporate greed just getting more wily?
, licensed under
9/5/2008 2:11:16 AM
In the wake of John McCain's surprising VP pick, the media's rush to answer the question “Who is Sarah Palin?” was quick and intense.
But when news broke that her 17-year old unwed daughter was pregnant, the scrutiny became both personal and political, sparking intense debate about what’s fair and foul in campaign coverage.
Palin has dominated the headlines of nearly every major news outlet and many minor ones for the last week. You might think the McCain campaign would welcome the spotlight shining on someone other than Barack Obama, but instead, they're outraged. They claim the media's treatment of Palin—which has included stories about her pregnant daughter, questions about her qualifications for the job and the McCain campaign’s vetting process, inquiries into ethics scandals under investigation in Alaska, and examinations of her record—is sexist, liberally biased, and out of line. The campaign is even now refusing to answer further questions about Palin's vetting.
Surely the McCain campaign can't be surprised that voters and reporters want to know more about a woman whose name few outside of Alaska even recognized two weeks ago. But would the questions being asked of Sarah Palin be asked of a male candidate? And has the media gone too far?
Here's a round-up of opinions on the key fronts in the Palin media wars. What's your take?
Palin and John McCain and the Republicans deserve every column inch, every broadcast second of scrutiny they're getting. I believe—unlike Barack Obama—that members of a candidate's family are fair game once a candidate thrusts them onto the public stage—as did Palin when McCain presented her as his pick for vice president in Dayton, Ohio, last Friday. The eagerness with which politicians deploy their children as campaign props stands as an open invitation to the press to write about them. —Jack Shafer at Slate
The spin du jour is that her choice reflects poorly on Candidate McCain because she wasn't properly vetted. Yet this seems to be false. . . . On Monday, Time magazine's Nathan Thornburgh wrote from Wasilla, Alaska, that Bristol Palin's pregnancy had been known by virtually everyone there, with little made of it. But what do these private family matters have to do with Mrs. Palin's credentials to be Vice President in any case? —Wall Street Journal, Review & Outlook
They have said this was Bristol’s decision and we should honor that. . . . The reason why I think it’s fair game is Sarah Palin is on record saying she would veto abortions for women even in the event of being raped. So what she is in essence saying: Respect my family’s ability to make this decision and elect me so that I can keep your family from having the same opportunities. —Jon Stewart, September 3, on the Daily Show
What we’re dealing with now, there’s nothing subtle about it. We’re dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes. —Georgetown professor Deborah Tannen, quoted by Politico, responding to questions about whether Palin's maternal responsibilities are compatible with the VP job.
Palin is simply not known. McCain's staff says the press is punishing her because pundits so desperately want to be in the know. But leaking has its benefits, one of which is that her flaws might have been scrutinized and even dismissed ahead of time by the press. —David Folkenflik at Media Circus, NPR
We have asked pathetic questions like: Who is Sarah Palin? What is her record? Where does she stand on the issues? And is she is qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? We have asked mean questions like: How well did John McCain know her before he selected her? How well did his campaign vet her? And was she his first choice? Bad questions. Bad media. Bad. —A sarcastic Roger Simon at Politico
Image by buddhakiwi, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/3/2008 4:35:48 PM
Police officers in Flint, Michigan are not allowed to speak to the media. Period. The ban, introduced by interim Police Chief David Dicks, forbids police officers from talking about internal affairs or official duties. But the ACLU claims that the ban is so broad it prevents “speaking about manners of public concern that have been consistently found to be protected under the First Amendment.” The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the police department and requested an injunction against the ban after three officers were fired for speaking to reporters. Though one officer has since been reinstated, the constitutionality of the ban remains in question.
(Thanks, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.)
9/3/2008 2:48:52 PM
With rumor and scandal dominating political coverage lately, publications known for celebrity gossip are honing their political beats. The National Enquirer recently made headlines after breaking the news of the John Edwards affair. Now Michael Calderone of Politico reports that the gossip magazine is also taking credit for influencing the story that Bristol Palin—daughter of VP nominee Sarah Palin—is pregnant. National Enquirer editor David Perel said, “I definitely think we triggered the announcement.” The magazine has three reporters in Alaska right now, uncovering more news of the Palin family.
Not content to let all the political gossip go to the National Enquirer, the new issue of US Weekly features Sarah Palin on the cover with the headline, “Babies, Lies, and Scandal.” The celebrity blog Jossip comments, “All that's missing? ‘Sex.’ But it's implied.”
Also missing from the US Weekly story are the aliens, a beat that has gone virtually uncovered since the Weekly World News stopped publishing earlier this year.
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