....LMB: "Pointless Campaign Follies"....

January 24, 2004

The past few days, the media have had guns a-blazin' on two fairly insignificant happenings in the world of Democratic politics.

Well first, let's mention the part that does matter. Just about every pundit and commentator predicted that Howard Dean would easily win the Iowa caucus, followed by Kerry and Gephardt. They were really, really wrong.

The point I want everyone to take away from this is "the media doesn't know what they're talking about." All sorts of commentators make predictions about how certain events will come out, they're frequently wrong, and then they live to predict another day. These guys need warning labels: "Accuracy Rating 24%" or whatever.

Now, onto the fluff.

1) The Dean Yell

Probably everyone with a TV has seen it. At the end of post-Iowa caucus speech, Howard Dean started talking real loud and excitedly, and then let out some sort of whooping yell. It was pretty funny to watch, and of course became fodder for late night comedy talk shows. But then it got picked up by real live pundits who claim to have real live political knowledge about real live politics. They began to debate the meaning of this excited yelling, how it would be interpretted by voters, and some pundits even proclaimed that this yell had ruined Howard Dean's political career.

He was giving a speech before a number of his supporters after a disappointing result. He gave them a fiery pep talk to boost their spirits and hold on to their allegiance. He sounded silly to everyone else, and maybe even to those supporters. This wasn't high tea with the duchess, it was a rally, it's okay to be rowdy. But the media seem hell-bent on talking about the speech and its damage, and they more they do, the more credibility this stupid idea gains. Nuff said.

I'll also post a link here sent to me by reader Gary, that shows video of Dean's speech from an amateur videographer at the rally. From this fellow's viewpoint, in the midst of boisterous, raucous fans, Dean's speech doesn't look so out of place (or, if you're on the Dean Smear Team, it makes it look like his supporters are crazy and unpresidential too).

Gary's email also included a first-hand account from someone at the Dean rally. This account argues that Dean was yelling for a reason: the thousand or so members of the audience were cheering and talking so loudly that Dean needed to yell to be heard. And when the professional TV people used their tech to to filter out the crowd noise, it made Dean like the lone yelling fool.

2) Clark and Moore and "Deserter"

Wesley Clark is campaigning to be the Democratic presidential candidate. Film/trouble maker Michael Moore supports Wesley Clark. In a message to his fans, Michael Moore called George W. Bush a "deserter", referring to a period between 1972-1973 where Bush was enrolled in the Texas Air National Guard, but did not report for duty. And at the Democratic Presidential debate on January 22, moderator Peter Jennings tried to trap Clark, asking a question that essentially said "Bush wasn't a deserter, and unless you denounce the lying Moore for his scummy act, we will drag you through the gutter." Clark sidestepped the trap, saying that Moore could say whatever he wants, and that Clark didn't know much about these allegations.

The whole next day, the news focused on the way that Clark dodged this question, and tried to pin him down, and force him to repudiate Moore for his lying smear. And it looks as though Moore might have been technically incorrect: when you leave the military during active duty, you're a deserter; when you leave during inactive duty, you're Absent With Out Leave (AWOL). So Moore probably should have said that Bush was AWOL, not a deserter.

But the fact remains, that there is about a 12 month gap in Bush's service record while in the national guard. Moore has created a page on his site which reprints many articles which support the AWOL claim, you can judge for yourself.

But Clark is not in any way responsible for what his supporters say. Why is the press pretending otherwise? One possibility is that the press, being forgetful or having never looked into the issue in the first place, thinks that these are spurious allegations made by a scoundrel about our honorable President-in-Chief. Blogger skippy describes this exchange between CNN's Wolf Blitzer and former Clinton official Jamie Rubin. Wolfie interrogates Jamie about the "deserter" claim, and Jamie catches Wolfie by surprise by turning the tables on him:

wolf asked jamie directly: "do you believe it?"

jamie fired back: "i haven't looked into it either. have you?"

imagine! asking a journalist if he has researched the facts about a point he's making!!

wolf, taken aback for a second, could only mumble "i'm asking the questions here." meaning of course, no, he hasn't done any investigative work into the very issue he's bandying about to try to trip up candidates.

Which probably explains exactly what the issue at hand is here. When a politician makes a public mistake-- they misspeak, they say something offensive, they contradict themselves, they have ethical lapses-- that's news. And it's a kind of news that reporters can manufacture themselves and then ride for days and weeks, if they can trick the candidates into making such a mistake.


Posted by Jake at 04:05 PM | TrackBack (0)

Moore's endorsement of Clark perplexes me somewhat. Does he really expect Clark to be in line with his agenda, beyond the cosmetic rhetoric? Oh, the delusion of some liberals. Then again, I don't see any Democratic solutions to the right-wing disease.

Journalists are often cozy in their interrogative enclaves, so it's interesting to see the tables turned. Long live the so-called liberal media!

Posted by: Eric at January 26, 2004 11:07 AM

thanks for the link! nice blog! keep up the good work!

Posted by: skippy at January 26, 2004 08:47 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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