Patterico's Pontifications

8/27/2005

Rutten’s Talk Radio Column Is Up

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:51 am

Here is Tim Rutten’s column about talk radio, including his interview with Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt says he was quoted accurately — but when we hear the interview itself on Monday, we’ll be surprised at what Rutten left out. Looking forward to it.

UPDATE: I have now read Rutten’s column and have time to comment on it. Rutten is apparently incapable of taking on conservatives’ complaints about bias in news media, so he constructs a blatant strawman instead:

You know this particular argument like a mantra: All humans have personal beliefs, including political ones, which inevitably bias anything they write or broadcast. Therefore, everyone who reports or analyzes the news must publicly declare everything they believe and all their personal associations so that their readers or audience can — to borrow Hewitt’s phrase — “correct” for the journalist’s bias. The notion that the former — all people have biases — might be true, but not the latter — they always determine absolutely everything you say or do — never is considered. Nor is the possibility that personal discipline and the conventions of the craft already accomplish that “correction” among journalists who observe them. It’s simply not an admissible idea here. (Let’s not even touch the common-sense proposition that it’s the normality of the mainstream media’s workaday, unbiased journalism that makes the biased stuff stand out so clearly — and offensively — when it occurs.)

(My emphasis.)

Few people are harsher critics of the Los Angeles Times than I am — so if Rutten is right, his cartoonish description of the conservative case against Big Media ought to fit my views to a T. But it doesn’t.

I do not argue that journalists’ biases “always determine absolutely everything” journalists say or do. Much of the mainstream media’s workaday journalism escapes the influence of their bias. It’s only when the subject matter touches on a pet issue of the liberal elite that the biases come into sharp relief.

The mainstream media reveals its bias most clearly in its coverage of issues like taxes, social welfare benefits, environmental regulation, racial preferences, universal healthcare, criminal justice, immigration, war, Israel, gun control, abortion rights, sexual conduct, assisted suicide, religion, and campaign finance reform. Stories that don’t relate to these or related pet issues are often covered, if not entirely competently, at least without screaming bias.

Also, the idea that “personal discipline and the conventions of the craft” already filter out most of the bias is certainly an “admissible idea” — just one we reject. Do we have any evidence to back up that viewpoint? I’ll let readers of this blog be the judge. Have you ever read this blog, Mr. Rutten?

Rutten’s column concludes, hilariously, with his assertion that talk radio’s audience is shrinking because its practitioners are narcissistic blowhards:

Political talk-show hosts see everything through the prism of their partisan politics and insist, as an article of faith, that everyone else is always doing the same. In this sense, their approach to current affairs is less a conservative one and more a creature of that most powerful of American vices: narcissism.

The controlling assumption is: I look at the world in this fashion and, therefore, everyone else does too.

Anyone who’s ever been trapped sitting next to that greatest of dinner party bores, an unrestrained narcissist in full cry, knows that the only coherent thing that comes to mind is escape.

Maybe that’s what’s happening to political talk radio’s audience. As the physicists say, the simplest explanation is always the most elegant.

Yet not once in the column does Rutten mention the lemming-like escape that subscribers have accomplished from the Los Angeles Times itself. Might the financial woes of The Times have anything to do with the liberal bias of its writers, as evidenced by the unserious arguments Rutten advances in this piece?

Mr. Rutten? What would the physicists say about that?

8/26/2005

We Forgot to Mention . . .

Filed under: Abortion,Dog Trainer,Media Bias — Patterico @ 10:00 pm

You remember that study that said fetuses don’t feel pain until 29 weeks? Turns out that some of the folks who conducted the study have connections to abortion and the abortion lobby.

Didn’t you kind of suspect that already?

The L.A. Times reports: Report on Fetal Pain Sparks Debate on Disclosing Authors’ Affiliations:

A controversial research article about when fetuses feel pain is sparking a heated debate about the nexus between science and politics and what information authors should disclose to scientific journals.

The report, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., analyzed previously published research and concluded that fetuses probably don’t feel pain until 29 weeks after conception because of their developing brain structures.

Undisclosed was the fact that one of the five authors runs an abortion clinic at San Francisco’s public hospital while another author worked temporarily more than five years ago for an abortion rights advocacy group.

Whoops!

I find this interesting:

Several ethicists said they considered those points regrettable omissions that left readers without important information. Other experts consider the authors’ backgrounds irrelevant.

Who do you think we actually hear from in the article? The several who think the omissions were regrettable? Or the ones who think it’s irrelevant that folks conducting a study like this are in the pocket of the abortion lobby?

If you guessed that the first quote comes from someone who is undisturbed by all of this, you’re right. In fact, we never hear the actual words of any of the “several” ethicists who had a problem with hiding this information. When the article gets around to printing a quote that condemns the omission, it comes from the abortion lobby.

I believe that the late David Shaw (who ran an entire series on media bias on abortion) would have seen this for what it is: blatant liberal bias.

Dafydd: Now That I’m Senator…

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Judiciary — Dafydd @ 2:19 pm

[This post is by Dafydd ab Hugh, not Patterico!

¡Rabanos radiactivos!]

…Having defeated both Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein in a WWE SmackDown event that was carried on pay-per-view (but available only in Upper Iguana) — and now that I’m ensconced on the J-Com, after defeating both Arlen Specter and Pat “Patterico” Leahy in simultaneous wrist-wrestling competitions — I have settled upon my question to ask John Roberts when he comes before me:

AB HUGH: Judge Roberts… do you believe it is ever appropriate for the Court to overrule established precedent, breaking with stare decisis? And if so, then what would be your deciding criteria for doing so?

I would love to see the lawyers on this blog hazard guesses as to what Roberts’s answers would be; I don’t know much about his jurisprudence, but I do get the impression he’s fearfully impressed with the solemnity of tradition. So how would he answer such a question?

(Yes, I suppose he could refuse to answer, on the grounds that it was possible a case might someday come before him where one side or the other argued that “settled law” be overturned. Let’s take that one off the table, however… since if he did say something that preposterous, Sandra Day O’Connor would un-resign, Mrs. Roberts would give her husband a boot to the head, and Harvard would demand its diploma back.)

Maybe Somebody Is Reading the “Outside the Tent” Column After All

Filed under: Dog Trainer,War — Patterico @ 6:55 am

More than two weeks after I first complained about the omission — and five days after my complaint was expressed in an op-ed — the Los Angeles Times has finally mentioned Cindy Sheehan’s Vacaville Reporter interview on its news pages:

In 2004, Sheehan was part of a group of military families that met with Bush at Ft. Lewis, Wash., near Seattle. But she has since said that she was offended by how the president handled the meeting and that her opposition to the war had intensified.

Shortly after the 2004 meeting, Patrick Sheehan, her husband, was quoted in the Reporter of Vacaville as saying, “We have a lot of respect for the office of the president, and I have a new respect for [Bush] because he was sincere and he didn’t have to take the time to meet with us.”

The paper reported that the Sheehans were unhappy with Bush’s conduct of the war and his explanations for invading Iraq, but that they decided not to share those feelings with the president during the meeting.

“I now know he’s sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis,” Cindy Sheehan told the Vacaville paper after the meeting. “I know he’s sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he’s a man of faith.”

Finally!

An earlier version of today’s article, published on the newspaper’s web site yesterday, did not mention Sheehan’s Vacaville Reporter interview. After reading that version, I asked yesterday: Is Anybody Reading “Outside the Tent” at the L.A. Times? My answer was “no.”

But now that I see the final version of the article, I’m thinking the answer might be “yes.”

Let’s not overstate things. The decision to finally mention the Vacaville Reporter article hardly demonstrates that the L.A. Times‘s Sheehan coverage is now balanced. There are still quite a few newsworthy statements by Sheehan that have gone unreported by The Times — most notably her recent statement describing Iraqi terrorists as “freedom fighters.”

But it’s something.

Paul Krugman Just Can’t Get It Right

Filed under: Media Bias,Scum — Patterico @ 6:33 am

Paul Krugman writes:

[T]he public editor says, rightly, that I should acknowledge initially misstating the results of the 2000 Florida election study by a media consortium led by The Miami Herald. Unlike a more definitive study by a larger consortium that included The New York Times, an analysis that showed Al Gore winning all statewide manual recounts, the earlier study showed him winning two out of three.

No, no, no, no, NO!!!

I’m going to say this again, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

Here is what Krugman said in his earlier column, which he is now supposedly correcting:

About the evidence regarding a manual recount: in April 2001 a media consortium led by The Miami Herald assessed how various recounts of “undervotes,” which did not register at all, would have affected the outcome. Two out of three hypothetical statewide counts would have given the election to Mr. Gore.

Okay, stop. Isn’t Krugman saying the same exact thing he said in his correction? Paul Krugman initially said “Gore won two out of three” — and corrected that statement today to “Gore won two out of three.” Call me crazy, but this appears to be the same exact claim.

I’m really starting to wonder whether Paul Krugman is looking at a different 2001 study of undervotes by a consortium including the Miami Herald than I am. Every time I look at my link to the USA Today article on the study, it says Bush won 3 out of 4 times. Let me quote it again, just to make sure I’m not hallucinating:

The newspapers then applied the accounting firm’s findings to four standards [yup, four, not three — hear that, Paul?] used in Florida and elsewhere to determine when an undervote ballot becomes a legal vote. By three of the standards, Bush holds the lead. The fourth standard gives Gore a razor-thin win.

Let me translate that for you, Paul. When it says that four standards were applied, and Bush held the lead in three, I think that means Bush won three of four. I mean, I’m not the New York Times columnist; you are. But that’s pretty much how it reads to this humble blogger.

Krugman, you’re killing me. You’re just killing me.

And I haven’t even gotten to the fact that the fourth standard — you know, the only one in which Gore won — was unreliable:

The USA TODAY[/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder] study shows that Gore would have won Florida by 3 votes if this [fourth] standard were applied to undervotes. Because of the possibility of mistakes in the study, a three-vote margin is too small to conclude that Gore might have prevailed in an official count using this standard.

In other words, the only scenario in which one might conclude that Gore won the undervote recount — is unreliable.

Someone help me. I’m just utterly flummoxed. Is a New York Times columnist just repeatedly lying to his readers about an easily checkable fact, even after getting called on it by his public editor? Or is this guy living in a parallel universe where what he is saying is true? Please, someone help me. What is going on here?

Until I get a better explanation, I’m filing this under “Scum.” Rest assured that I have written an appropriately angry e-mail, directed to the public editor and Krugman both.

UPDATE AND BUMP: Don Luskin is equally confused.

The link to Luskin comes via Michelle Malkin, who generously quotes my post above (thanks Michelle!), and suggests that Krugman’s reference to a Miami Herald study may have been to this study, which also included overvotes.

Luckily, Michelle saves me a second rant by noting that Krugman’s claims would still be incorrect. The study including overvotes also set forth four different scenarios — not three — based upon varying standards applied to punch-card ballots. And it concluded that Bush would have won two of those, not one — and the scenarios favoring Bush were the most likely ones:

Among four possible standards for judging whether punch-card votes are valid, the study shows that Bush would have won under the two that are in widest use across the country . . .”

We’ve got some of the best minds in the blogosphere trying to help one of the mediocre ones (me) figure out just what in the hell Paul Krugman is talking about. So far, no luck. Can anyone else shoot us a clue? The New York Times public editor hasn’t bothered to respond to me.

Absent some lightning bolt from the sky, it continues to appear obvious to me that Krugman still owes his readers a correction of his false statements about the Miami Herald study of undervotes.

UPDATE x2: Tom Maguire tries to answer my questions — but all he really does is confuse me further.

UPDATE x3 8-28-05: Maguire keeps revising his post, and he now seems to have come up with a way to defend Krugman. My reaction is that, if this is Krugman’s explanation, it is more in line with what I’m used to from Krugman: pure dishonesty, but of the slippery kind — not as blatant and black-and-white as that described above. That makes me think Maguire may be on to something. I’m working on a new post with my reactions.

Hybrid Owners = Whiners

Filed under: Morons,Public Policy — Patterico @ 12:01 am

The L.A. Times reports:

They’re big. They’re ugly. They’re offensive. So say owners of the hybrid Toyota Prius — not about larger gas-guzzlers that hog the road but about the decals the state is handing out that allow hybrid owners to drive solo in carpool lanes.

Here is a typical clueless statement:

“All the HOV lanes are on the left-hand side of the roadways,” said Veronica Bach, a comedy cabaret performer who lives in Hollywood and has owned her burgundy Prius for three weeks. “Why should there even be any stickers on the left-hand side of the car?”

That would be so CHP officers camped out on the left shoulder can tell whether you’re violating the carpool lane rules, Ms. Bach. I see these officers every day on the 110. Just because you don’t understand the rule doesn’t mean there isn’t a good reason for it.

Or, you can fight the program and let every schmo on the road share the carpool lane with you — because the CHP won’t be able to enforce anything.

This is a bad idea to begin with. But if they’re going to implement it, this is the way they have to do it.

8/25/2005

Michael Yon Reports from Iraq

Filed under: War — Patterico @ 11:14 pm

Here is a taste of the reporting being done by Michael Yon from Iraq. It is a thousand times better and more gripping than anything you will read in any Big Media outlet. Just amazing, with pictures and excellent writing. Go read it, now.

Rutten Accepts Hewitt’s Demand to Tape and Broadcast His Interview

Filed under: Media Bias — Patterico @ 8:58 pm

I previously mentioned Hugh Hewitt’s demand that Big Media journalists who wish to interview him do so on the air, so everyone can hear the interview and learn what was put in the story — and what was left out. I added a caveat: if a journalist claims that a live broadcast would blow his/her story, Hugh should agree to tape it and delay the broadcast until after the story has run. It looks like Hugh has agreed to just such an arrangement with the L.A. Times‘s Tim Rutten:

I pretaped a 45 minute interview with The Los Angeles Times’ media essayist Tim Rutten today. Tim had called to interview me about talk radio, and I pulled my standard “OK, if you do it on air.” Rutt[e]n countered with the offer of a delay of the broadcast of the tape until Monday, which is fine by me. We cover a lot of ground, especially on the subject of bias at the Los Angeles Times. You can hear it Monday.

I’m looking forward to this. First we’ll see Rutten’s column, and then we’ll hear the interview on the radio. Of course, we’ll never know to what extent the Heisenberg Principle was at work: would Rutten have written the same column if he didn’t know the interview would be broadcast? Still, an interesting experiment indeed. I’ll look forward especially to the reaction of Linda Seebach.

I’m also looking forward with great interest to the discussion about bias in the L.A. Times. Man, this’ll be fun.

A Modest Proposal

Filed under: Judiciary,War — Patterico @ 7:05 pm

Many have recently expressed concerns that the Iraqi constitution may overemphasize religion.

I believe I have the solution. Don’t worry about the language of the Iraqi constitution. The key to keeping the Iraqi government secular is constitutional interpretation.

I therefore propose that President Bush donate Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer to Iraq, to be Justices of a new Iraqi Supreme Court. These Justices can be relied upon to secularize the Iraqi government, regardless of the actual language of the Iraqi constitution, or any traditions of religious observance in Iraqi public life.

We’d miss them, of course. But sometimes sacrifices must be made — for the greater good, you understand.

Clinton Watson Taylor on Leaving Evil Unchallenged

Filed under: War — Patterico @ 6:57 pm

In an article at National Review Online, Clinton Watson Taylor says:

What have we learned from Fallujah? If nothing else, we’ve seen that evil unchallenged only grows stronger.

Which leads to another question posed by Mr. Taylor: if you believe that, then why is Moqtada al-Sadr still walking around?

Good question.

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