Patterico's Pontifications

8/3/2004

Malkin Clamping Down on Comments

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 10:21 pm

Trolls are forcing Michelle Malkin to clamp down on comments. What a bunch of maroons.

And what’s wrong with her hairstyle? I like it!

Clarity vs. Accuracy: The Washington Post Makes the Wrong Choice

Filed under: Media Bias,Terrorism — Patterico @ 10:20 pm

The Washington Post will report tomorrow on Page A01 that the Administration faces credibility issues for failing to make it clear that the recent terror alert was (or so the Post claims) largely based on old data:

The White House’s failure to make it clear that the dramatic terrorism alert Sunday was based largely on information that predated the Sept. 11 attacks is a case study in the difficulty of managing such warnings for an administration whose credibility is a central issue in a difficult presidential campaign.

I wonder what underlay that “failure” on the part of the White House? Well, let’s look at what the New York Times will print tomorrow on the very same subject:

Senior government officials said Tuesday that new intelligence pointing to a current threat of a terrorist attack on financial targets in New York and possibly in Washington — not just information about surveillance on specific buildings over the years — was a major factor in the decision over the weekend to raise the terrorism alert level.

Apparently the Post is intent on whapping the Administration for failing to make clear something that isn’t really true.

In truth, what hasn’t been clear is the media reportage on this story. People have been getting the impression that we didn’t learn anything new in the very recent past — and that impression is just false. We recently learned of some activity, some of which took place 2-3 years ago, and some of which took place this year. But you have to read the stories v-e-r-r-y carefully to understand the distinction.

The papers need to do a better job of making this clear. The Post isn’t helping.

UPDATE: Kevin at Wizbang has a nice summary of the print media’s irresponsible attitude on this issues.

UPDATE x2: More on this exact topic from Cori Dauber, who begins her post with these words:

The Washington Post blew it yesterday, and they’ve been blaming the White House ever since.

Yup, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking, too.

UPDATE x3: And still more from Captain Ed.

UPDATE x4: And more still from Greg Djerejian.

Self-Promotion Department: Patterico in a Book!

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Dan Gillmor, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, has written a book called We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. The title is fairly self-explanatory. Bloggers are among the grassroots journalists covered. And (here the title of this post becomes relevant) Patterico is among the bloggers mentioned.

Gillmor has announced that he has made the entire book available on the Web in .pdf format. You can download a chapter at a time, at this page. Your obedient servant is mentioned in Chapter 6, at pages 119-120. (And the endnotes have my web address at notes 166-167.)

Here is Gillmor’s account of my dealings with the Los Angeles Times over their treatment of Justice Scalia. You can see that Gillmor disagrees with one of the points I made about the Times‘s coverage:

A right-leaning blogger who calls himself “Patterico” has made it one of his missions to critique The Los Angeles Times for what he sees as an assortment of left-leaning sins. In early 2004 he took the Times, which he calls the “Dog Trainer,” to task for its coverage of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s conflicts of interest, including the judge’s hunting vacation with Vice President Dick Cheney, an old friend, when the court was hearing a pivotal case involving Cheney’s Energy Task Force. Patterico observed that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also had a conflict of note, a connection to the National Organization for Women (NOW). His correspondence with the Times got results. On March 11, 2004, he wrote, proudly: “On the one hand, I have to hand it to The Los Angeles Times. They have run a front-page story about Justice Ginsburg’s speech to the NOW Legal Defense Fund. On the other hand, why did I have to be the one to tell them about it?”

For me, this follow-on complaint doesn’t hold up. Journalists find out much of what we print and broadcast from people who tell us things — people like Patterico, who helped make the news.

I understand Gillmor’s point, in the abstract. Newspapers rely on sources to help them come up with stories to put in a newspaper. My complaint — that The Times had not developed the Ginsburg story on its own — failed to fully take that fact into account.

At the same time, I think my point was largely a fair one — when read in the context of the paper’s coverage of Justice Scalia all year long. As I have documented in several posts (all accessible here), the problem is not simply that The Times has reported on controversies regarding Justice Scalia, but rather that The Times taken several cheap shots at Justice Scalia, including printing numerous factually incorrect assertions about the Justice — many of which the paper refused to correct even after being told they were wrong. When you look at the big picture, it gives you a slightly different perspective on why the paper printed several (increasingly petty) stories about Justice Scalia, while missing the identical Ginsburg story until a “right-leaning blogger” stuck the story in their face.

At the same time, Gillmor has a fair point, and I respect his point of view.

In any event, this is a fairly minor quibble. Taking a step back from my own tiny role in grassroots journalism, and looking at the big picture as explained in Gillmor’s book, it seems to me that Gillmor really Gets It. Take, for example, this quote of his, from page 111 (also in Chapter 6):

In an emerging era of multidirectional, digital communications, the audience can be an integral part of the process — and it’s becoming clear that they must be.

It boils down to something simple: readers (or viewers or listeners) collectively know more than media professionals do. This is true by definition: they are many, and we are often just one. We need to recognize and, in the best sense of the word, use their knowledge. If we don’t, our former audience will bolt when they realize they don’t have to settle for half-baked coverage; they can come into the kitchen themselves.

Amen! I couldn’t have put it better. This is a refreshing statement to read anywhere. It’s even more impressive coming from someone in mainstream journalism.

I am putting in my order for Gillmor’s book today. I suggest you get it too.

UPDATE: Thanks to Gillmor for the link.

Howard Bashman Interviews Frank Easterbrook

Filed under: Judiciary — Patterico @ 5:50 pm

Frank Easterbrook is one of the more interesting figures on the federal bench. Howard Bashman’s interview with Judge Easterbrook does not disappoint. Don’t miss it!

Accepted Wisdom™ on Terror Warnings

Filed under: Accepted Wisdom — Patterico @ 7:09 am

(Accepted Wisdom™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, highlighting contradictory viewpoints held by the elite.)

It is Accepted Wisdom™ that:

It was inexcusable for President Bush not to take specific steps to respond to the warnings contained in a 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. While that PDB contained no specific or actionable information, it nevertheless mentioned the general possibility that Al Qaeda might hijack airliners and/or attack inside the United States. This was a sufficient basis for the President to take decisive action, including possibly military action against another country. The staleness and familiarity of most the information is no excuse; after all, Al Qaeda plots are years in the making. The PDB even mentioned surveillance of buildings in New York City! What more do you need? It was a warning ignored.

And at the same time:

In raising the terror alert level to orange based on specific, actionable, and recently acquired information concerning certain specific financial targets, President Bush is obviously playing politics. Obviously. After all, the information is years old. So what if we just found evidence of extensive casing of specific buildings in New York City? Howard Dean suggested that the timing of the orange alert is suspicious, and he is right.

UPDATE: Give Kevin Drum some credit: he is not jumping on the bandwagon. Yet.


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