March 6, 2005
Instead of the White House Press, You Envision What?
Play the discredited and de-certified themes out. If we fired the White House press and told them to seek other employment, what then?
The previous comment thread grew to well over 100, so it’s time to close that one and start anew. It might be worthwhile to back away from the rights and wrongs of Bush and the press circa 2004-5, about which there is such hot dispute, and ask another question, a weekender:
- What do we want from the White House as a “press” strategy or policy?
- And what does the public have a right to expect?
- The present press corps does not work, according to many who regularly write in to PressThink. (See also Fishbowl DC, Inside the Briefing.) But play the discredited and de-certified themes out. If we fired the White House press and told them all to seek other employment, what would we have then, and what do you think would happen?
- Reader: what’s your imaginary on this? Specifically on reporting from the White House.
Hit the comment button at any time…
But first: If someone asked me, do you recommend the kind of press you have in your capital, the Washington press? I would probably say no, not anymore. I think it has failed to evolve with the country and the times, although many talented people with strong professional values have passed through it, and great work has been done.
It is not my view that the press we have did a fair job covering the White House during my watch—roughly twenty years of professional observation—and that includes Bush 43.
Nor is the political press we have today necessarily a good model for the one we need down the road.
I don’t think the White House press corps, as currently constituted, is a fair representation of this country, either. (I’m not sure anyone does think so, do you?)
Still I defend the place for a free and inquisitive press in the White House as a permanent resident. That room is a very important room, as are its counterparts at the State Department, the Pentagon, and other places. I think it’s important to keep the interlocutor going while the institution changes, as I believe it must, and will.
The country loses when the President is not regularly and sharply questioned; and a daily session with reporters is part of good government. There is no law that specifies who it must be. But the presidency itself is diminished without a interlocutor capable of challenging the President and getting better explanations, an answer to what’s on people’s minds.
When the White House invited the press in to make a home on the grounds (1902, Theodore Roosevelt) it was part of how the presidency started its symbolic ascent over Congress.
In the 19th century Congress had dominated national politics. The president was a man little known in the country-at-large. Although people knew who held the office, they often did not know what he looked like. His speeches were very likely to be known only to the people who heard them.
But in the twentieth century the greater share of power tilted toward the White House. Newspaper correspondents were quite involved in enlarging the cultural space the President inhabited, and elevating his stature. Of course broadcasting hugely favored the President, who could come into every home. Congress then became the abstraction. During the previous century, it was the other way around.
By concentrating where it did, and making the President himself, his every move, the object of attention (with the post-1963 “body watch,” obsessive attention) there is no doubt the modern press helped to create the office George W. Bush holds, including the hold it has on public attention, and the parts of it that are imperial, glamorous, mythic.
But maybe journalism in the symbolic heart of the presidency is over. Some say so.
I felt there was one great moment in Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry’s satire piece. (Watch here.) Looking fake eager, Rob grabs his reporter’s notebook and says “let’s get started!” Then he tosses his pencil and notebook into the air behind him, and walks straight into New Journalism.
After Matter: Notes, reactions & links…
If you haven’t been following Garrett Graff’s adventures as a blogger trying to get a day pass to the White House gaggle and briefing, then you should be. His report from today, when he finally got in, is well worth it:
We’d been warned by a regular White House correspondent over the weekend that the “zoo” of the briefing would likely leave us knowing less and being more confused than when went in. Having sat through it now, we have to agree. Watching it on television doesn’t quite do justice to the uselessness of many of the exchanges back and forth, nor the intensity of Scott McClellan’s withering gaze nor the frustration boiling up in the reporters’ voices as they butt their heads up against a rhetoric wall.
Dan Weintraub, political columnist and blogger for the Sacramento Bee, in comments:
I think the alternative would be an aggressive, curious and analytical press corps, based anywhere (including cyberspace), fact-checking the snot out of the White House and writing critically about the president’s statements, proposals and actions, and those of his administration, in both daily coverage and investigative reporting. For each story, reporters might place one call to the press office if they chose, explaining what they were inquiring about, and then move on. If the WH chose not to comment, so be it.
Blogger Tim Schmoyer (Sisyphus) responds to this post with Do you know what you want, instead?
“Journalism as lecture” is de-certifying the press. Journalists should not be “lecturing”, and they do.
When members of the White House press corps “lecture” the White House, which their “questions” sometimes seem to, they are de-certifying themselves as interlocutors and creating noise.
He has useful thoughts on alternatives to the current White House press corps. So check it out.
Weldon Berger of BTC News says in comments:
I want reporters who understand both their sources and their audiences as well as the White House understands the reporters and their audiences. I want reporters who don’t sit around thinking their readers are rubes at the same moment the White House is playing the reporters for rubes for the benefit of the readers…
Extra: BTC News will soon have White House access. “Our White House correspondent is your White House correspondent.”
In comments, Steve Lovelady, managing editor of CJR Daily, talks about the White House beat: “any reporter worth his salt avoids this assignment”… “a sure road to four years of mind-numbing stenography.”
Ed Cone’s column for the Greensboro News-Record, When the news is literally the party line.
One big difference between the old Soviet Union and the land of the First Amendment is that the party-line press cannot exist here in a vacuum. Serious reporters, working for organizations or as independents, are able to expose scripted news and the agenda behind it. And with increased transparency into the news-making process a big promise of the new media, that process should only intensify. Over time, that ought to lessen the credibility of the scripters, but it won’t stop them from trying to manipulate the news.
Eternal vigilance being the price of liberty, informed skepticism toward government-issue news is an ongoing obligation of Americans.
Declan McCullagh of CNet: The coming crackdown on blogging:
Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site…. Smith should know. He’s one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.
Dan Gillmor, The Gathering Storms Over Speech, on the court cases involving bloggers and other threats:
We’re moving toward a system under which only the folks who are deemed to be professionals will be granted the status of journalists, and thereby more rights than the rest of us. This is pernicious in every way.
Mass media journalists and their bosses should be leading the fight against what’s happening to bloggers. I fear they won’t, because old media typically refuses to defend the rights of new entrants until the threats against the new folks directly threaten everyone.
Via Winds of Change comes word of www.WatchingAmerica.com, a new site where you can find links to news about the U.S. written outside the U.S., much of it originally in other languages and translated by WatchingAmerica.
“Make a comfortable living, then make a difference.” Craig Newmark of Craig’s List interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News:
Q Why are you pushing citizen journalism on the Net?
A Mostly as a consumer of news, I’ve learned that there’s too much important stuff which isn’t printed, or which is distorted on the way out, the best example being news out of the White House. We need to fix it.
We, meaning the public, need to evolve a trusted institution with lots of fact-checking that we can trust, and that we can prove does provide honest news.
(It would include) both professional and amateur journalists working together along with institutions like FactCheck.org.
The best successful model so far is OhmyNews out of Korea.
Q What role do you see yourself playing in this emerging area?
A I want to help other people do the real work. I’m no newsman, I’m not much of a businessman. I’m just one persistent nerd.
Read Susan Mernit on “why there are more supplies of particular types of stories created than the public actually wants to buy. And that means that newspapers end up with products they can’t sell, not in the form they are offering them.”
Posted by Jay Rosen at March 6, 2005 12:45 AM
I don't want Helen Thomas fired. I want, when her time comes, her to collapse and die atop Scott McClellan after asking a particulary nasty question.
I want a White House press corps that will identify transparent abuses by the press office and agree among themselves to prohibit them. This would include boycotting background briefings in which there is no conceivable rational reason for an official to be unidentified, and eschewing the use of anonymous sources absent a compelling reason, e.g., the source will get fired or arrested for speaking on the record. In other words, a press corps that will develop and agree to and actually execute certain standards of behavior.
I want a press corps that will not present context-free news, and will not adopt administration terminology because someone throws a hissy fit if they don't, and will not permit the press secretary, unchalleneged, to answer questions in a fashion that directly contradicts what other sources within the administration are saying with respect to the question.
For instance, when Scott McClellan says the president's plan will fix the crisis in social security, the questioning reporter should point out that the president's social security experts say there's not a crisis and the president's plan wouldn't do anything to fix it even if there were one.
I want a White House press corps who will support one another. If a reporter is being punished for asking hard questions, the rest of the press should refuse to participate in any activities from which the targeted reporter is excluded. In other words, reporters should collectively place their responsibilities as journalists above their short-term interests and fears.
I want a press corps whot believe in context. They all know news doesn't happen in a vacuum; they shouldn't write as if it does. If a particular issue is on the table at a particular briefing, the reporters' editors should have a gaggle of interns at work on Google and in the paper's morgue doing the research necessary to place whatever news comes out of the briefing into a historical context. At the moment, context is provided almost exclusively by the various special interests involved with a particular issue, and it rarely reflects reality.
I want a White House press corps that dispenses with the convenience of artificial narrative.
I want a White House press corps that is not equipped solely with a short term memory.
I want a White House press corps that brings their laptops to work. If a reporter asks a question and the answer seems not to jibe with what he's hear in the past, I want him to sit there and google the question while his colleagues ask other questions, and then I want him to raise his hand and say, "Scotty, what you told me is completely inconsistent with what the president said six months ago."
I want a White House press corps who realize that other Americans, no matter how alien their practices and cultures may seem to the reporters, are not incomprehensible or uneducable. This is important so that they don't get played by an administration that uses press corps blind spots to reinforce existing, and often justified, prejudices against the press. In other words, I want reporters who understand both their sources and their audiences as well as the White House understands the reporters and their audiences. I want reporters who don't sit around thinking their readers are rubes at the same moment the White House is playing the reporters for rubes for the benefit of the readers (or viewers; I'm using press as a generic news outlet term).
Those are quick impressions for starters. More later.
The first part of this comment more belongs on the end of the previous thread than the top of this one, but I will get around to this one soon enough.
There is a fundamental difference. I addressed it at length two or three of your posts ago. Call it a philisophical difference, call it red state blue state there are fundamentally different worldviews and conceptions of right and wrong. Debates across these lines are largely pointless...the issues and conceptions are far to deep to be addressed in any blog forum or press conference. This President is not addressing this press for the same reason I do not address p.lukasiak. It is futile. I have better things to do with my time, and I have no great desire to waste his either. I am not going to change his mind, he is not going to change mine. Our differences are not one of facts, but of worldview or philosophy or of right and wrong. And I don't mean to single out the left, there are topics I skip with those from the right. I rarely if ever discuss my atheism with a born again Christian. It is not a worthwhile discussion to have.
The President and this press are similar. They come from fundamentally different conceptions and mental frames. Those frames are not going to be reconciled in that forum, and discussing across frames is dangerous...open to dramatic misinterpretations and misconceptions, on both sides. There is at least some degree of hostility between frames...after all, they disagree about right and wrong. In essence what we have is a blue state press wanting to question a red state president. Or to put it more emphatically, we have a blue county press wanting to address a red county President. He has very little to gain and much to lose from that exchange, so he minimizes it.
So to this topic, what do we do? Well, let the market work. It isn't like the press toned down its attacks on the President and his policies due to lack of access. Whether the executive talks to them or not, they are going to write their stories, make their broadcasts and print their papers. Watch dog or attack dog, they are going to do it whether the executive makes facilitates it or not. And just the same, the President is not totally paralyzed in getting his message out by not talking to the press at length.
I think the end result is going to be something of a blend between the British and US papers. There will be 'partisan' papers and probably a few that cling to the notion of objectivity with varying degrees of success. But that objectivity or lack there of will be more apparent with comparisons. If the supposedly objective NYT or CBS News looks more like National Review or The Nation, so be it...the people will see. I put partisan in quotes because it is not quite true...it will be from a philisophical perspective more than a political one. I think news sources are multiplying and people will self select.
The question of how do we get there will be addressed by what is happening. I think the NYT will become more and more a liberal UWS perspective paper and give up any aspirations of being the entire nations 'newspaper of record' The NY Post will continue to grow...but always be smaller than the Times. I think the Washington Times will continue to grow, and the Washington Post will shrink. But given the market, the WaPo will always remain bigger and probably more influential.
I think the biggest development will be when the network news breaks its dependence on the NYT for content decisions. Soon the Networks will be reacting to the 24 hour cable newscycle rather than the newspaper's cycle. Eventually it may even shift towards the blogs even faster cycle.
Currently we have three network newsrooms who are all populated with blue state mindset people. The first network to populate a newsroom with red state perspective people will have an economic boon. The big pie is still the three networks, and when one gets one half of the viewer pie to itself, and the other two divide the other half of the pie, that will be the biggest change. And it will come...sooner or later, the corporates will see the economic possibilities. Fundamentally, it is a hiring decision, not an editorial decision.
I think the people of the press see that...that is why there is such discrimination against red state mindset people in the newsroom. As soon as there are legitimate red state people options, the blue state mindset people are going to lose half of the jobs they have. That only serves to make the coming divide more sharp. It may delay it, but it will not stop it.
The issue about a series of questions is quite important, Jay.
1) If you want one main question explored, additional questions "around" that question can be good. E.G. Is the press "easy" on Dems? where is the NYT front page story about the facts in Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia '86 Senate Testimony? Did Kerry release his records by signing Form 180, or is he hiding something? Is the press looking for what he's hiding? -- these series of questions are, perhaps, a weaker version of the first one, is the press easy on Dems?
2) Too often the series of questions is rhetorical -- where you assume the audience knows the answer and you want to make a statement, but by asking it in a question format you deny that you're "stating" it: Jordan's question -- Is the US targeting journalists? or statement -- the US is targeting journalists.
3) If the questions are too far away from each other, even if in the same "area", cogent answers become too difficult/ complex/ interrelated.
I think your questions are some of (1) and (3).
One of the victories of "liberal" thinking is an aversion to accepting a double standard. Unfortunately, it's clear to many Bush voters that the MSM/ Leftist press is nearly hopelessly full of double standards in its reporting, including its questions and its omissions, and in who it chooses to publicize. Luskin vs. Krugman (on Soc. Sec. etc) -- Luskin is lot more believable, but Krugman has the NYT megaphone.
Every policy has good points and bad points. Any news story that fails to address the good points AND the bad points, of both the Rep AND the Dem proposed policy, is failing to be complete. Most stories can not be complete -- but when only the bad or potentially bad points of the Rep policy, and only the good or potentially good points of Dem policy are written, after some 4, or 8, or 24 articles -- the double standards get too annoying to be worth reading Krugman.
The press I want is one that more clearly and honestly writes good and bad points of any proposed policy, and its main alternative.
The WH press should therefore know the "official" positions of the Soc. Security admin, and actuary issues, and the facts about how blacks get a worse deal, and women get a better deal, merely because of life differences.
The WH press needs to be more honest in its criticisms. I haven't yet seen any Bush-critic of the Iraq war put a number on "how many casualties" is too many? I say 2500 or less US soldiers killed, and Bush should get an A. For two years I've heard Bush-haters claim Iraq is mess, it proves Bush is bad, yada yada -- but I think he should be getting an A.
The press needs to be honest about its standard of judgement.
Criticism of the real, the real bad points, without any standards to compare it to, makes the criticism weak. Before focusing on hardball or softball questions, the press needs to focus on what a "good job" would look like. So far, Bush's results are not merely good, but fantastic. (Unless you're anti-Christian, and Bush's pro-Moral Values is not your idea of "good".)
sbw: When Ari Fleischer says the press is tough, and tough on everyone, Democrats and Republicans, he most definitely contradicts you, and many others in this and the previous thread, plus thousands of others who visit PressThink to drill the point home.
Here's an example from the comments here, via Trained Auditor: "Please understand, the reason the dominant liberal media (especially the White House Press Corps) has de-legitimized itself in the eyes of Republicans and conservatives is because of the unbalanced nature of what they report."
But it is telling that there's almost no interest in Fleischer's statement (press is tough on both parties), and no real curiosity about the basis for it, from those who regularly complain about reporters giving Bush a much harder time because of liberal bias or Blue state animosity.
Fleischer also said, further contradicting widespread and taken-for-granted views among Bush supporters, that the most persistent bias of White House reporters is not liberal spin or Bush hate, but toward conflict and confrontation, much of which he attributed to televised briefings-- a non-ideological explanation.
Again, I detect remarkably low curiosity about why Ari Fleischer--a Republican loyalist, so loyal to Bush he was entrusted with being his mouthpiece--would say things like "press: tough on Democrats, tough on Republicans" if that were not his actual impression from standing at the podium, and a conclusion from working in government for 20 years.
What other explanation is there for his remark?
On the other hand, if a belief in liberal bias as the Great Explainer is closer to a political religion (which is what I think, from listening to it over and over and over and over and over...) then an empirical statement like Ari's would hardly be enough to shake the believer's faith.
As for my statement, sbw ("It is not my view that the press we have did a fair job covering the White House during my watch--roughly twenty years of professional observation--and that includes Bush 43") that wasn't me joining up the bias religion I have talked about. That was me saying the White House press has not been fair to the American people overall.
Ari Flesicher's views did give me a new idea about liberal bias and its believers, however. Which is that Republican operatives--those at the top with actual knowledge of how Washington and the press work--are treating people like "Trained Auditor" and the millions who agree as useful yahoos.
The Red State masses, as it were, are encouraged to believe what the operatives themselves don't because it's too crude and embarrassing for Fleischer himself to go on the Daily Show and say with a straight face: the press is hostile toward a Republican White House, but gives Democratic presidents a pass.
He could have validated this view on Stewart's show. He could have given the Hugh Hewitt, Brent Bozell party line. He could have flashed the signs that he, too, is a believer. He could have (and it would surely help book sales), but he didn't say it.
Why not? Because while that's good enough for the yahoos, who have been quite useful to the party and ought to be encouraged to keep it up, Fleischer does not want his own name associated with such bald and counter-factual distortions. (In this he is like Trained Auditor, who has to give a fake name.) Ari has a consulting business now; he has to demonstrate that he's an empiricist because corporate clients don't pay real money for a Bozell-style bozo. They can get that for free on the Internet.
Which he exactly what he did on the Daily Show. He said to anyone listening that Ari Fleischer is an empiricist. Brent Bozell must have been fuming.
The presentation of "Gannongate" by the right-wing provide considerable insight into what passes as "media criticism" on the right.
If you read right-wing media critics, you would believe that "the left" set out to find embarrassing personal information about "Jeff Gannon" because he had the gaul to not follow the "liberal elite" media line.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Gannon became the subject of attention not because he had been asking "friendly" questions of Scott McClelland, nor even because he had asked a loaded, friendly question of Bush. Gannon drew attention to himself by asking Bush a "friendly" question based on a factually inaccurate premise, and did so in front of a national audience.
It took no effort to find out that Gannon worked for "Talon News", which turned out to be an arm of an organization called "GOPUSA" run by a Republican Party operative who was a Bush delegate to the 2000 GOP convention.
But it was not until the fact that "Jeff Gannon" was a pseudonym, and would not reveal his real name---and was being credentialed using that pseudonym despite the fact that married female reporters who used their maiden names professionally were required to be credentialed under their married names.
In other words, something smelled pretty bad, and people started trying to figure out what was going on. The "initial" investigation by "leftist bloggers" made it clear that the whole thing reeked. But the fact that there appeared to be a connection between Gannon and some "gay escort" websites was not considered "scandalous" by those investigating Gannon---merely a sign of his hypocrisy.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of theories were pursued and discarded (I myself spent a consider amount of time trying to figure out if there was a connection between Gannon and a Pennsylvania congressman with the same last name, and the possibility that "Jeff Gannon" was actually Dan Gannon, a white supremacist who is considered to be the author of the first right-wing "hate" site on the internet....but who "disappeared" from the internet about 10 years ago.)
A lot of information was collected regarding irregularities in the credentialling process, and connections between GOPUSA/Talon/Eberle and the GOP that made it clear that something very fishy was, in fact, going on. But, with a few minor exception, the "Gannon" story was ignored by the mainstream media until it was finally discovered that Jeff Gannon was a actually "James Guckert" who had a homoerotic phote on his AOL profile page that strongly suggested that he was a gay escort.
That got the mainstream media's attention, but not because of its implications (prostitution is, of course, illegal, which raised very serious security questions about how Gannon was credentialed). The left considered this a political scandal, but it was presented as a "sex scandal" and "invasion of privacy" story by the mainstream media. Gannon was treated with kid gloves by the mainstream media (see his interview with Blitzer), denied any association with gay prostitution, going so far as to claim that the "gay escort" websites he was associated with actually belonged to someone else for whom he had worked as a web consultant.
And the right-wing actually had the balls to claim that "outing" Gannon was about the homophobia of the left!
When it was revealed that Guckert had a number of different websites advertizing his services for $200 an hour, including pictures that strongly suggested that Guckert specialized in some of the most unsavory sexual practices imaginable, the mainstream media dropped the story like a hot potato.
In other words, the right wing has created an entire fictional universe in which a criminal who has ties to the GOP and no journalistic credentials was able to ask the President of the United States a question based on a lie in front of a national audience is actually a martyr to a homophobic left-wing media conspiracy that will stoop to any depths to destroy those with whom it disagrees.
That is the true nature of right-wing press criticism --- it is criticism that is completely divorced from anything approaching objective reality.
catrina: They came to me because someone at the show reads my blog, and because if there is a "new" Internet journalism out there I am supposed to know about it, as a professor of...
Much was similar to being contacted by any TV show. Several pre-interviews, vagueness about what the segment would end up looking like, some we'll-get-back-to-you's and finally a date and time to show up at their shop. The interview was taped a week before the night it ran.
I didn't know who else they were talking to, (bloggers? journalists?) or how much of what I said they would wind up using. "None" would be a very likely result in broadcasting. You simply don't know. As it is, from a two hour interview at most 30 seconds appeared on air. And it's totally their decision about which 30 seconds.
They did tell me that I was the person they were using in this piece as a kind of straight man, although they did not use that term. It was: "someone who can tell us how journalism is supposed to work," so they can do their satire about how it seems to be working these days.
But I knew from many television interviews and situations that any further descriptions they gave me at that point would not be the actual story, anyway. What you are told when being booked has an indefinite and mysterious relationship to what you find when you are there, as a guest on the program or an on-air "source." Once you learn this, you can adjust to producer-talk.
Everything up to here was like any other news interview for television. But the interview itself with Rob Corddry was not. After all, he's not a journalist, but an improvisational comedy man (that is, an artist) and an actor. The way I defined what I was doing was helping him with his art-- his act.
Probably the best thing about it for me was being that close to a very good actor and comedian, as he's acting, being inside the material, as it were, because in some ways I was "material." (The dork who takes journalism seriously.) That's the part I said was fun and unnerving.
I was seated about 24 inches from Corddry and could "see" his mind working and sense the command he had of his voice and body. (Fascinating.) I could also listen to him and his producer communicate about what was funny and worth having on tape for later.
The truth is they could have made me into anything they wanted, with the range of material they shot from serious analysis and punditry to gags, wisecracks and various attempts to "shock" me, so as to obtain some of the dork-doesn't-get-it reactions you see on the clip.
They told me when I got there that such "unexpected" things would happen, and that I should just... react. Don't try to be Rob, or a performer, just be yourself. Okay, I said. I was once taken from the front row of the Big Apple Circus and used in a clown's act, and it reminded me somewhat of that.
Of course, be yourself is advice of limited use. At one point, and out of nowhere, Rob interrupted one of my answers about reactions to blogging among journalists, got right in my face, and shouted "that's bullshit, man!" at the top of his lungs.
Jay, you played the Ari Fleisher trump card, and "Brian" trumped you one better by quoting Ari's views on liberal media bias in fuller context. For my part, I'm not surprised that a book salesman as clever as Ari would play to his liberal audience's sentiments on the Jon Stewart show.
My empiricism: Bernard Goldberg's "Bias", an indider's account of liberal bias at CBS news, just one example of empirical evidence, as Jay apparently defines it (i.e. an admission against interest from the enemy camp), demonstrating the dominant media's ideology and its impact on their work. Understand, when I speak of media bias, I am speaking of the outcome or deliverable, if you like - - the report, article or broadcast; I am not speaking to the media's motivation, as if by conspiracy. Goldberg explains this well.
Jay, I will concede, however, that your and P. Lukasiak's comments now convince me that, at least as regards the "media bias" question, we have already reached the dark future that "odograph" warned of above - - and it is an ideological Northern Ireland (or choose your own analogy to religious conflict). That is, a conflict of mutually exclusive ideologies held to by each side with equal religious fervor. Or at least, each side views the other side in those terms. And on this question, it takes just as much faith to hold the analogous atheist view: "What media bias?"
I'm sure Lukasiak will be insulted, as he surely sees his views as enlightened and informed truth, derived from reason and supported by evidence, and not merely faith. Guess what: Conservatives seem themselves in the same light. Liberals, you must know that conservatives see you just as much the reality-challenged rube as you see conservatives, notwithstanding P. Lukasiak's increasingly insistent bleating that all other realities but his are imaginary. In Lukasiak's case, it seems the inmates really don't know they're insane.
Is this a great country, or what ?
geez steve, that just as off topic as the Form Which Shall Not Be Named stuff (and its killing me not to discuss it, jay!)
what I find interesting about the Apple case is that, under its original meaning, the first amendment definitely covered the bloggers.
And although you probably already know this, "freedom of the press" is not a phrase found in the First Amendment; instead, "freedom of the press" is presented merely as an extension of the right of individuals to free speech.
Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
the word "press" was not used as a synonym for newspapers or "journalism" until the early 19th Century, well after the First Amendment was written. "Press" in the First Amendment was a literal reference to the "printing press" which was being used as a means of self expression at that time. The founders wanted to protect the rights of individuals to say what they wanted to say....and that included saying it in pamphletes, etc.
Now, to my way of thinking, blogging is the modern equivalent of "the press" as it is referred to in the First Amendment---an extension of the literal freedom to speak ones opinions and ideas to other media.
In other words, the whole question of "are bloggers covered by the protections afforded to journalists" makes no sense in terms of the first amendment. The real constitutional question is whether blogging is the modern equivalent of "pamphleteering", and thus covered under the "speech, or the press" provisions of the first amendment.
What is it going to take for you to realize that having different first premises than you is not the same thing as intellectual dishonesty?
Something that suggests that those first premises bear some relation to objective reality, and are not simply prejudices and self gratification acting as a foundation for values.
I don't believe that one can be a racist, and claim that genocide is justifiable based on objective reality, and be considered intellectually honest.
I don't believe that hypocrisy can be justified with an intellectually honest argument.
Intellectual honesty had nothing to do with "first premises", it has to do with the principles of logic and rational argument, including the honest presentation of facts (in other words, someone who says 'the sun rises in the west' is not intellectually honest.)
So when John Leo says:
We've also generated two years' worth of claims that Iraqi women are no better off and in some cases worse off today than they were under Saddam. Of course under Saddam they were turned over to rape squads, sexually tortured, and beheaded.
it doesn't matter what your first premises are, you should be able to recognize the intellectual dishonesty of this statement.
And since I obviously have to explain what is intellectually dishonest here, I will.
In the first sentence, Leo refers to claims mades about the status of "Iraqi women" as a whole. In other words, "Iraqi women" refers to all Iraqi women. In the second sentence, Leo uses the word "they" to refer to what occurred to a miniscule minority of Iraqi women in the past.
In other words, the statement made by Leo is only as intellectually honest as this one...
We've also generated two years' worth of claims that Iraqi women are far better off and certainly no worse off than under Saddam. Of course under the occupation they are being kidnapped, sexually tortured, and murdered.
If Michael Moore were to make such a statement, the average right-winger would have no problem understanding why the statement is intellectually dishonest.
The primary difference here is that left-wingers would also have no problem understanding that the statement is intellectually dishonest.
Its not a question if first premises, its a question of whether or not you are intellectually honest in the application of those first premises. And pretending that it is a matter of "first premises" is intellectually dishonest in and of itself.
When the President of the United States talks about the coming Social Security "disaster", and says that "drastic changes" have to be made in Social Security to save it, and uses these "facts" to push a "drastic changes" that (objectively) not only fails to prevent the disaster by results in a deeper "disaster" that will happen sooner, he is being intellectually dishonest.
You may have "first premises" regarding the role of government from which you derive the conclusion that "private accounts" should replace Social Security. But those "first premises" do not make intellectually dishonest arguments and appeals any less intellectually dishonest.
The idea of 'first premises' or philosophy/religion lie at the root. We can see the difficulty communicating across the boundaries, whether we call the 'the religion of media bias' or philosophy or first premises or intellectual frameworks or whatever other name we use. The fact is that the 'big' media (network news, largest most influential papers) are almost entirely populated with people with one framework. It is so monolithic that it is difficult to function in that environment without being in that framework. And while the media shares that framework with a big slice of America, it also does not share it with a big slice of America. The media and the right are starting from different 'first premises.'
What you write is very far removed from first premises. First premises are answers to question like what is the nature of reality, the nature of knowledge and the nature of man. In fact, only the first (metaphysical) is truly a first premise, the second (epistemology) and third derived from that. It is a long way from nature of reality-> Knowledge-> Man-> morality-> society-> government-> Politics. The differences between the left and right is far deeper than political, it is even deeper than morality. The differences you cite are a result of differences in first premises, but they are not first premises.
You are wrong about John Leo being intellectually dishonest, at least as far as that statement goes. It is poor arguementation or logic, but does not rise to intellectual dishonesty...at least not without further evidence from you. You (legitimately) point out the difference between Iraqi women and the particular Iraqi women who suffer/suffered egregiously. A flaw in his argument and/or presentation. But for it to be 'intellectually dishonest' it would in fact have to be true that Iraqi women are not better off. That is a judgment and indeed a difference of first premises.
Iraqis, both women and men, were in a Ba'athist hell hole. They suffered a lot in the transition from the Ba'athist hell hole. They are still suffering. We are not entirely clear where it will end up, but there are at least promising signs that it will end with a state that at least comes much closer to freedom and liberty than they had. Are they better off? Was the suffering of the war, and the post-war, worth it? That is a question of perspective, a question of first premises. John Leo did not make a good case for his position, but his position is not intellectually dishonest.
America suffered a lot in its revolution. Was it worth it? I am not making the case that Iraq and the American revolution are parallel, but the idea that suffering in war cannot be 'worth it' is invalid.
I haven't posted in this thread because I don't think that I have anything to add to the points about the current situation in journalism that I made in the earlier thread on de-certifying the press.
I do want to extend congratulations, though, to rosignol for his post on first premises. A very welcome point.
It does seem to me, too, that the argument under discussion is not dismissable by claiming it is logically invalid, and it does, in fact, seem to me that it's a good example of different first premises leading to different conclusions (although I would tend to refer to first principles, since they don't necessarily occur in the major premise, and political arguments aren't necessarily deductive in nature.)
It's rare that a political (or any other) argument is constructed purely in syllogism (or sorites) form. If you really want to test the argument, you have to pull the premises out - and usually, to fill in the implied connecting premises. In this case, I don't think you can claim an equivocation as much as an implied premise along the lines of:
All women are hurt by an official policy of political rape.
"...entire of itself every man is a piece of the continent"
If you don't buy that, I invite you to formally construct the argument, or to just consider the following statement, which, as far as I can tell, is logically equivalent to the all women / some women "equivocation" example advanced by p.lukasiak
NOW exists to improve conditions for all women in America, so they shouldn't advocate for tougher rape laws, because rape is something that happens to some women, and NOW claims to represent all women.
The underlying disagreement is whether Iraqi women in general are better or worse off than they were before the invasion. The answer to that question will be empirical, not deductive. The question of how the empirical evidence is weighed and counted is definitional, and will thus be informed by the questioner's first principles. The freedom of all women from the fear of rape, sexual torture, and beheading as an instrument of government policy could be considered a positive development to be considered along with other development, both positive and negative, in weighing the question. While first principles may not be explicitly stated, they will be implicit in what developments are considered significant and how they are weighted to draw a conclusion.
And I don't see how the statement:
"Of course under Saddam they were turned over to rape squads, sexually tortured, and beheaded."
can possibly be considered ad populum. You could argue that it's an ad misericordium argument, perhaps, but I don't think that holds up either. While the subject is rightly laden with emotion, the statement is a testable proposition. "...under Saddam [some women] were turned over to rape squads, sexually tortured, and beheaded." True or False?
If we want to play fallacies of relevance for $100, on the other hand,
"The first premise has to valid and free from logical fallacies. I've yet to see right-wing argument that passes this test."
can be construed as the genetic fallacy, while
"In the case of Bush it's like taking candy from a baby since the facts of any given issue make him out to the inept spinmeister snake oil peddler he really is."
"And your childish presentation ruins what grain of truth it may or may not contain."
"Cal-boy: so you're both drunk and ignorant"
might all be interpreted as abusive ad hominem,
"What's O'Neill's agenda son? He's a Republican businessman and CEO turned Treasury Secretary."
might be considered to be circumstantial ad hominem.