Patterico's Pontifications

9/22/2004

L.A. Times: California “In Play” — Just Kidding!

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:16 pm

Recently, I mocked the L.A. Times for declaring that Arizona was “in play” for John Kerry — because Kerry was only 16 points behind Bush in the most recent Arizona poll.

Tomorrow, the L.A. Times reports that Kerry leads Bush in California by 15 points. That’s one percentage point less than Bush’s lead in Arizona. Naturally, the paper has declared California to be “in play” for Bush — right?

I’m joking, of course. The story’s actual headline is In California, Voters Stay in Kerry’s Corner:

California voters remain strongly in favor of ousting President Bush and replacing him with Sen. John F. Kerry despite Bush’s recent gains in popularity nationwide, a new Los Angeles Times poll has found.

While we’re doing “compare and contrast,” allow me to point out my favorite line in the article:

With the election less than six weeks away, the findings suggest that California is all but locked down as one of the most solidly Democratic states in the race for the White House.

There you have it: a sixteen-point lead for Bush in Arizona means the state is “in play” for Kerry, while a fifteen-point lead for Kerry in California means the state is “all but locked down” for Kerry.

Heads Kerry wins, tails Bush loses.

P.S. Since I am reading this online the night before it appears on dead trees, I don’t know what prominence this story will get. (But — just between you and me — I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the front page. I guess we’ll see tomorrow morning.)

P.P.S. Since the mainstream media is so very concerned with revealing the biases of bloggers, I thought I would take this opportunity to point out that the story is written by Michael Finnegan, the same guy who found Kerry’s famous failed photo-op with Marines at a New England Wendy’s to be beneath mention — and who failed to respond to my inquiries about it.

UPDATE 6-23-04 6:19 a.m.: The story is indeed on the front page. No surprise there. Funny how, in the front-page “Arizona is is play” story, the 16-point Bush lead was buried on page A20 — but in this story, Kerry’s 15-point lead in California is right there on the front page.

UPDATE x2: Commenter “keypusher” points out that Kerry has given up on Arizona:

Bowing to political realities, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has canceled plans to begin broadcasting television commercials in Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and the perennial battleground of Missouri.

Still think Arizona is “in play,” L.A. Times?

UPDATE x3: Welcome to readers of the Wall Street Journal‘s “Best of the Web,” and thanks to James Taranto for the link. If you have never visited before, please consider taking a look at my main page, and remember to bookmark it for future visits.

Jarvis Misses the Point of Rathergate

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 9:43 pm

Glenn Reynolds and Jeff Jarvis debate whether blogs have elevated political discourse.

It’s an interesting debate and you should read both posts. Glenn and Jeff both have some good points. But I want to focus on something Jeff says that shows he is missing the point of Rathergate. In response to Glenn’s observation:

Meanwhile, I don’t recall much tut-tutting about bloggers focusing on Trent Lott’s racial remarks, instead of his position on national health insurance. Were we elevating the tone then, but not now?

Jeff responds:

Cheap rhetorical trick. Lott’s statement was a present-tense story and it wasn’t in the midst of a presidential campaign and it didn’t blot out other discussion.

Ah, but Rathergate is very much a present-tense story. It’s a story about someone presenting forged documents to CBS News for the purpose of fraudulently influencing the 2004 U.S. presidential election. It doesn’t get much more present-tense than that — and it should be blotting out other discussion far more than it is.

If Jeff Jarvis can’t see this, he is missing the essence of the whole story.

Credibility of Blogs

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

In the wake of Rathergate, there has been much discussion of blogs, including their credibility relative to that of Big Media. To take just one example, look at a statement made by Michael Dobbs (a Washington Post reporter for whom I have some respect) in this online chat:

Personally, I welcome the competition from the new media, as I think it helps to keep us on our toes, but I don’t think they can supplant the old media. The main reason for that is that they lack credibility and authority–which is also the reason that we in the old media have to do everything we can to protect our credibility.

Look, I agree that blogs will not “supplant” Big Media, but I don’t think the main reason is that blogs “lack credibility” — at least when the Web is viewed as a whole.

As Deacon at Power Line explains, while individual blogs generally lack editors and “layers of review,” the blogosphere as a whole has many such layers of review — including commenters and other blogs. This winds up being quite effective, as Rathergate made clear.

Sure, bloggers make mistakes. I make mistakes. I am human. And so are reporters and editors, as blogs demonstrate all the time.

Ironically, although I’m sure I get things wrong all the time, the only recent example that pops into my head is from this morning — when I mistakenly thought that Big Media representative Nick Kristof of the New York Times had finally gotten something right.

And, I was corrected almost instantly — by a commenter, who pointed out that Kristof had gotten it wrong, again.

See what I mean?

Reuters Appeases Terrorists

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:55 pm

Reuters refuses to use the word “terrorists” to describe terrorists in part to protect its reporters, according to Cori Dauber.)

Biting the Hand

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 6:36 pm

One has to wonder whether Kevin Roderick will continue to promote the “Martini Republic” web site after this.

Kristof Acknowledges Error, Stops There

Filed under: 2004 Election — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Nick Kristof today a few of us called him on the other day:

In the spirit of taking a tough look at one’s own shortcomings: on Saturday, I referred to William Rood as a witness for Mr. Kerry’s Silver Star incident. It was the Bronze Star episode that he saw. Mea culpa.

That’s fine, as far as it goes. [UPDATE: Actually, it’s not!! See UPDATE below.] But it comes at the tail end of Kristof’s column today. Kristof doesn’t even stop to reconsider the one conclusion that he based upon this plain error:

Did Mr. Kerry deserve his Bronze Star? Yes. The Swift Boat Veterans claim that he was not facing enemy fire when he rescued a Green Beret, Jim Rassmann, but that is contradicted by those were there [sic], like William Rood and Mr. Rassmann (a Republican). In fact, Mr. Rassmann recommended Mr. Kerry for a Silver Star.

Now that we know that the group of “those were there” does not include William Rood, maybe that “yes” answer deserves to be changed to a “maybe.” Maybe Kristof should tell his readers that there were many other people there who say there was no enemy fire. Sure, those people were on different boats. But, William Rood was also on a different boat from Kerry in the (separate) incident that Rood described in his article — and Kristof was willing to take Rood’s word as gospel, until we reminded him that Rood had described a completely different incident.

Nor does Kristof acknowledge or address any of the other numerous deficiencies in his analysis, as pointed out most completely by Beldar. The fact that Beldar caught his blatant error apparently doesn’t entitle Beldar’s other points to any consideration.

Kristof is toeing the mainstream journalist line: the Swift Vets’ campaign is a smear, and they have been discredited on every point. Every witness for Kerry is credible; as for the witnesses against him, we’ll just pretend they don’t exist. Rather than acknowledge any doubt, we’ll pronounce the case closed. And the details be damned.

The trouble with this attitude is that it excuses Kerry’s inexcusable decision to deny access to his complete military records. If there really were no legitimate questions to be answered, Kerry’s failure to sign the standard Form 180 would not be as egregious. But the fact of the matter is that the Swift Vets’ claims have not been knocked down the way Kristof et al. claim. The mainstream media should therefore be highlighting the fact that Kerry has not released all his records. But they aren’t.

P.S. Captain Ed and Tom Maguire have more. Both point out Kristof’s ridiculous argument about Democrats rejecting Michael Moore:

True, Democrats have also engaged in below-the-belt attacks. Some of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the Michael Moore film, was the liberal equivalent of the anti-Kerry smears. Its innuendos implying that Mr. Bush arranged the war in Afghanistan so backers could profit from an oil pipeline were appalling.

But I, along with some others, immediately complained about “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Aside from John McCain, where are the sensible conservatives?

Tom Maguire points out that the “some others” who criticized Moore don’t include the Kerry campaign:

Kidding? Michael Moore was an honored guest in the Big Box at the DNC.

Yup. Why didn’t you mention that, Mr. Kristof?

The fact is that the Democrats have embraced hatemongers like Michael Moore, while President Bush has said that John Kerry should be proud of his Vietnam service — a statement that hardly constitutes an embrace of the Swift Vets. Kristof’s attempt to draw an equivalence between the Vets and Moore is utterly unconvincing.

UPDATE: Aargh. Kristof is still getting it wrong, and I missed it. As Dave B. points out in the comments, Kristof is still saying that Rood saw the Bronze Star incident, which directly contradicts what Rood himself has said. In context, this is just a misstatement — which is probably why I missed it — whereas Kristof’s previous error was clearly substantive. Still, can’t we get it right, Nick?


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