Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“I think it’s important to do things every once in a while purely because they amuse you.”
July 21, 2011 6:30 AM   Subscribe

The Great Right Hype: Tucker Carlson and his Daily Caller (CJR, via longform.org)
posted by box (88 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, sorry - I thought this was the How to Talk to an Alien thread.
posted by sneebler at 6:38 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


“Honestly, if you create a news organization whose primary objective is not to deliver accurate news, you will fail."

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Though the Daily Caller Bachmann migraine story appears to "have legs," as they say
posted by blucevalo at 6:46 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Symbol-crasher"? Is that a thing?
posted by BeerFilter at 6:55 AM on July 21, 2011


"Symbol-crasher"? Is that a thing?

Only Umberto Eco could tell us.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:57 AM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why do there have to be "conservative" and "liberal" versions of everything? Why can't there just be "the truth"?

I get that this started on the right, calling the NYT (which features a good selection of conservative opinions) a liberal paper, and calling all the "mainstream media" liberals. But now the left is doing it too, with HuffPo and MSNBC.

I think Carlson needs to rewind to 2004 and listen to Jon Stewart. Carlson got all butthurt that he was being attacked (and Stewart wasn't very artful in his presentation), but he missed the point that Stewart was making about partisan news:
It's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America ... Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.
posted by I am the Walrus at 6:59 AM on July 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


Speaking semiotic-ally, yes. It is a thing.
posted by umberto at 7:00 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


A left and right viewpoint absolutely make sense. You cannot report "the truth" because the map would be as big as the territory. You have to select and frame and summarize and so forth to make it usable to your viewers/readers. Different people will do that differently.

Where Tucker is wrong is in thinking that conservatives have no media outlets. Almost every media outlet out there is a business, owned, run and/or controlled by rich, privileged people. I.e. mostly conservative.

What America actually needs is an actual Left media outlet that would make that apparent.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on July 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


That picture makes me want to burn my Bean boots.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am the Walrus is right.

Pandering to the short term interests of the most partisan group you can find gets you some viewers/readers. But in the longer term, you cannot grow beyond the pressure group you are shouting with.

In this case, "Right" and "Left" are pretty small pressure groups - a few million at most in the USA. The very vast majority is just simply turned off by the hate and noise.

In the longest term you get the Rwandan radio show where they called all Tutsi's "insects" and helped co-ordinate the extermination of 800,000 people in a few weeks. I am NOT joking.

Nearly every other country in the world has rules about this stuff - for damn good reason. You really need to sort this out or you in the USA are really heading for a disaster.
posted by Hugh Routley at 7:09 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do there have to be "conservative" and "liberal" versions of everything? Why can't there just be "the truth"?

Because there are many truths, there are your truths and my truths, there are right truths and wrong truths. Best not think about it.
posted by the noob at 7:15 AM on July 21, 2011


It would combine the Times’s devotion to accuracy and shoe-leather truth-seeking with the right’s view of what that truth is.

If these pinheads had any grasp of what 'the truth' meant, they'd realize that the right's view of it doesn't matter one jot or tittle.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:18 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Truth has a definite liberal bias.
posted by Billiken at 7:19 AM on July 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Why do there have to be "conservative" and "liberal" versions of everything? Why can't there just be "the truth"?

Every message contains the context of the phrasing and the embedded experiences and preconceptions of the author. The truth is a passing bird.
posted by Theta States at 7:19 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


What America actually needs is an actual Left media outlet that would make that apparent.

Unfortunately, a true liberal mindset makes it very difficult to divorce objectivity from the program, and that makes the establishment of a rabid, zealously liberal media damned-near impossible. Conservative news, on the other hand, not only finds it easy to ditch objectivity, it seems to require the lack of objectivity.

The closest we've come to a fer-reals liberal outlet, Air America, is a texbook example of how difficult it is for liberal media to gain traction in the US. For most of the country, the only way to hear AA was via the web. Meanwhile, in most of the US, a quick stroll through the radio dial would give you multiple outlets for conservative talk-radio 24-7-365.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:23 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Howard Kurtz: His partner is Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide. His opinion editor is Moira Bagley, who spent 2008 as the Republican National Committee's press secretary. And his $3 million in funding comes from Wyoming financier Foster Friess, a big-time GOP donor.

And now it's time for a little game of follow the money:

Tucker Carlson's new site has its 21-person staff, tacky start-up tables and minute-by-minute updates thanks to a $3 million cash infusion by born-again evangelical Christian investor Foster Friess, fierce opponent of immigration reform, climate change legislation, healthcare reform, the income tax and government programs of nearly every stripe.

The Daily Content's real innovation is actually a synergy of funding sources. Carlson and Patel are combining the model of corporate ad revenues driving stories with the Richard Mellon Scaife funding model.

Ever since Scaife virtually created the right-wing publication The American Spectator in order to organize (and eventually publicize the findings of) the Clinton family dirt-dredging machine known as The Arkansas Project, the moneyed right have been pouring funds into conservative media. We see this strategy playing out in Friess' funding as well as in the tale of Peter G. Peterson's Fiscal Times views being printed as straight news in The Washington Post, something the paper's ombudsman later admitted "was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions."


Foster Fiess, the "big-time GOP donor": Your most important endeavor must be to "Help Peaceful Muslims" transcend the 7th century ideology of coercion, intimidation and violence that threatens them - and us. All of us must take seriously President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comment: "We will soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism and will breathe in the brilliant time of Islamic sovereignty over today's world."

Daily Caller is nothing other than a Wingnut Welfare program. Tucker already wore out his welcome at 3 different networks, but no true well-bred Wingnut will ever be without a column voice while there are still liberals around to demonize and billionares with propoganda that won't spout itself.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:28 AM on July 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Why do there have to be "conservative" and "liberal" versions of everything? Why can't there just be "the truth"?

Every message contains the context of the phrasing and the embedded experiences and preconceptions of the author. The truth is a passing bird.


I think the real problem is beginning with the presupposition that there ought to be a "right" or "left" spin on whatever the truth is.

Truth - or objectivity, in this case - may be one of those things we can only hope to approach and never actually obtain, but starting from the premise that we're going to interpret facts in the light of some canned political viewpoint ensures that we're going to wind up that much further away from actual truth.

Put another way, an ideal news organization says "we have these facts, what conclusions can we draw from them?" And Carlson, Fox News and the like are saying "we have this conclusion, what facts can we find to support them?"

The scientific method is best for more than high school chemistry class, etc.
posted by Vox Nihili at 7:31 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


A left and right viewpoint absolutely make sense.

Well... no. That is vulnerable to Overton window manipulation, and the source of Fox News' strategy to push the nation right.

You have to select and frame and summarize and so forth to make it usable to your viewers/readers. Different people will do that differently.

And what about those in the audience who are willing to be convinced if they are honestly presented with facts that contradict their worldview? They (that is to say, I) don't want facts that pander to their (my) preconceived notions. I don't read Drudge Report or DailyKos, what does that leave me?

I want to know if I'm wrong, but I don't want people trying to trick me, which I've seen many times, especially from Fox News. If you convince someone through trickery then when(if) they eventually see through it, you end up hurting your cause more than you helped it. It's because of this that I entirely discount Fox as a news source anymore, and get angry if subjected to it by a friend.
posted by JHarris at 7:35 AM on July 21, 2011


born-again evangelical Christian investor Foster Friess

I think that's supposed to read icy cartoon villain Foster Friess.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 7:42 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every message contains the context of the phrasing and the embedded experiences and preconceptions of the author. The truth is a passing bird.

I almost made a comment that sounded a lot like that, but I deleted it before hitting post for being unhelpful. Yes, objective truth is a thing alien to us, and all our facts are just interpretations of it of varying degrees of confidence. That doesn't mean that we can't know that Obama very well was born in the U.S., and is not Hitler.

Between the unknowable splendor of the universe and the basic limitations of our monkey minds there is still a lot of room for something like truth to exist. We just have to seek it out as honestly as we can, cognizant of our minds' potential to inject bias. We can't ever see the universe for what it is because we aren't Great Cthulhu, but we can very well know it's important to fund education, stop getting in wars, keep our financial expenditures under control, raise taxes if we need to fund services, and so forth. We don't need to be fed talking points to know these things.
posted by JHarris at 7:43 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, Vox Nihili put it better than I did.
posted by JHarris at 7:44 AM on July 21, 2011


But now the left is doing it too, with HuffPo and MSNBC.

What's "the left" supposed to do? Turn the other cheek? Not that HuffPo or MSBNC, which are both the Slough of Despond and Click-Bait, have any kind of firepower equivalent to that of Fox News et al.
posted by blucevalo at 7:48 AM on July 21, 2011


Its reporting surpasses what Andrew Breitbart has on offer.
Impressive. Or... something.
posted by Flunkie at 7:57 AM on July 21, 2011


I didn't realize Carlson went to Trinity. My best friend went there at the same time (his father was a professor there), and he left because it was so atrocious. In the common room, people would frequently ask him to pass the potato chips by saying, "Don't Jew the chips." By all accounts it was a lovely place.
posted by OmieWise at 7:57 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Put another way, an ideal news organization says "we have these facts, what conclusions can we draw from them?" And Carlson, Fox News and the like are saying "we have this conclusion, what facts can we find to support them?"

Context is extraordinarily important. Since there are close to zero news organizations left in the US, there's little room for context between commercials and trying to maximize profits by dumbing down content and not offending anyone with the truth. They are entertainment companies who pretend to sell news.

This, really, is the central problem. There needs to be a publicly funded, advertisement free news source that is also independent of government influence.

The BBC is close, but is still too cozy with government officials. I like Democracy Now, and I give money monthly to them, but otherwise the news landscape is a desert of ignorance decorated with advertisements and celebrity news. The Casey Anthony case has probably received more coverage in the past month than our four foreign wars, and the famine in Somalia, and coverage of the carnage in the DRC combined.

When your audience likes being lied to because it makes them feel better, and your success depends on having an audience, the truth doesn't stand much of a chance.
posted by notion at 8:11 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh for christ's sake, just fuck him & his fucking bowtie
posted by growabrain at 8:12 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


From The Daily Caller website:
TheDC's Jamie Weinstein: On MSNBC, the 'N' isn't for 'news'.
Yes, it stands for 'National', as in 'National Broadcasting Corp.'.

And while the article was kinda interesting, I think you could replace the whole thing with "The Daily Caller: HuffPo Red".
posted by benito.strauss at 8:18 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daily Caller is nothing other than a Wingnut Welfare program. Tucker already wore out his welcome at 3 different networks, but no true well-bred Wingnut will ever be without a column voice while there are still liberals around to demonize and billionares with propoganda that won't spout itself.

QFT.

Carlson is just another shallow, smug, generally incompetent, yet privileged, son of wealthy political class conservatives receiving yet another leg up from rich friends so he can pursue his political whims. He fits squarely in the camp with G.W. Bush and Ben Quayle. There is no shortage of these types.
posted by darkstar at 8:19 AM on July 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


There needs to be a publicly funded, advertisement free news source that is also independent of government influence.

I just don't see how you square that circle. As long as we live in a representative democracy, legislators are going to be demanding accountability for public money, and any organization that accepts public funds knows there are implicit strings attached.

For instance, didn't one of the big museums in Washington that accepts NEA funding recently remove an exhibit that was deemed obscene by some on the political right? Even Vivian Schiller, the former head of NPR, said in an unguarded moment that the organization was better off long term without federal funding.

Better to have multiple sources of media competing through trial and error to get to the truth. And not be taken in by the God complex.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:27 AM on July 21, 2011


So, weird thing: I posted an FPP back when the Daily Caller started up, and then later it turned out that a guy I knew in college works there, which makes it a sort of nepotism-link-backwards-through-time, or something. Also it turns out that Matthew Yglesias scrapped with him. This makes me feel weird. The only proper conclusion is to hate the Daily Caller.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:30 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


But now the left is doing it too, with HuffPo and MSNBC.

What's "the left" supposed to do? Turn the other cheek? Not that HuffPo or MSBNC, which are both the Slough of Despond and Click-Bait, have any kind of firepower equivalent to that of Fox News et al.


Nor should they. Fox News et al. is not objective journalism and creating a left-leaning alternative gives it a legitimacy it doesn't deserve. MSNBC is not objective journalism either. It might surprise Tucker Carlson et al. but a lot of liberals don't want a liberal media. We want an objective media. That's why liberals love Jon Stewart. Not because he's on the left but because he calls the media to task for not doing its job.
posted by headnsouth at 8:36 AM on July 21, 2011


I call bullshit on the "many truths" nonsense. It seems to me there's only one truth, we just can't grasp it or package it in a way that doesn't muddle or misrepresent it (because it's much bigger than any box we might want to put it in can handle and because it's impossible to sever phenomena completely from their context the way we like to pretend is possible when we're philosophizing). And that truth is indifferent to our needs or wants. When we consciously choose to prejudice our view of any particular facet of reality, by adopting any partisan position or other set of prejudices before the fact, we're only throwing up more artificial, conceptual clutter between ourselves and a more direct line of sight to whatever the hell's actually happening. Truth is never perfectly knowable to start with, but that's not due to any defect in reality, or any inherent fuzziness about what is or isn't actually happening in reality. It's just due to our own cognitive deficits and physical limitations. We never actually see the things we look at, just our mental representations of them, and those representations are different in kind from the phenomena they represent, so yes, our representations of "facts" will never be substitutes for the actual case. But the more preconceptions of various kinds we bring to our observations, the less accurate they are, because we're cluttering up our already extremely imperfect view of external reality with unrelated mental phenomena. So no, summing up all the possible ways to bias information will not lead to a more perfect, balanced view of the information, but precisely the opposite: It will only result in an even more muddled, misleading accounting of things.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:44 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Truth is never perfectly knowable to start with, but that's not due to any defect in reality, or any inherent fuzziness about what is or isn't actually happening in reality. It's just due to our own cognitive deficits and physical limitations.

Exactly. Which is why you need multiple media outlets with different perspectives in competition with each other to see who can come closest to the objective truth, which I agree is out there. The alternative to this (a single publicly funded media organization) sounds pretty scary to me.

But on the other end of the equation, you need the public to be interested in getting to the truth, and not seeking confirmation of their own biases and prejudices. That's the tougher nut to crack.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:50 AM on July 21, 2011


Better to have multiple sources of media competing through trial and error to get to the truth. And not be taken in by the God complex.

Look, I guess a lot of people missed the news, but in case you didn't know, it's now pretty much an established matter of the historical record that Fox News literally began life in the Nixon administration as a political strategy for fighting back against critics of the Nixon administration and the Republican party more generally.

The very concept of the "liberal media" originated in the delusional brain of a criminally narcissistic megalomaniac with a persecution complex (to his dying days, Nixon blamed the "liberal media" for his downfall, rather than taking responsibility for his criminal role in the Watergate burglaries).

There is no deeper, good-faith discussion to be had here on this subject anymore, IMO. This whole line of cultural reflection and media criticism was a scam from the get go, so it doesn't make much sense to keep discussing it as if it were a legitimate area of debate. Accept the reality--that this entire debate that you think you care about for your own reasons was in fact a carefully-laid, long term political ploy-- and incorporate that fully into your worldview, or you still won't be seeing what's actually there.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:55 AM on July 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


Carlson has high expectations for the team, telling me he hopes every story on his site will someday be adjective-free—“they’re a lazy man’s verb.”

This article is clearly suffering from a liberal slant itself. I mean Carlson was obviously mis-quoted here; he must have said "they're verbs for a man who lazes."
posted by tractorfeed at 8:58 AM on July 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


CJR is one site whose online readership I do not understand. There are the comments from the obvious Thoughtful Intellectuals you would expect, given the quality of the reporting and the subject matter. But there are quite often a lot of Rabid Angry People chiming in as well. Are these RAPs just being shipped in from conservative sites that link to Obvious Examples of Liberal Evilness? Or are they regular readers who just happen to loathe CJR output?
posted by ropeladder at 9:06 AM on July 21, 2011


The issue, BobbyVan, is not some vague question of "media freedom" or bias; it's the changes we've made in recent years that actually allow much greater concentration of media ownership in fewer hands. Deregulation has created a much smaller, less diverse media landscape in the US. It seems a lot of people have already forgotten the big media consolidation fights we had in the 90s? Well, I suppose that shouldn't be surprising since we basically just rolled over and took it because we couldn't be bothered to understand what all the crazies were so up in arms about. It only looks like we get 300+ channels to choose our news perspectives from; in reality, thanks to media deregulation, there's only a handful of actual owners, and increasingly, they're all in business together on the side.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:12 AM on July 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


What I love about media discussions is that when cons complain about the "liberal media", while liberals complain about "corporatist media", they're both right to an extent. Publishers and, to a lesser degree, editors do tend to be more conservative as they're thinking about the bottom line. Journalists, by contrast, are often a pretty liberal bunch. There are of course media outlets that more obvious skew left and right, but for many of them, it's a constant struggle between corporate/advertising interests and, well, actual journalism.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:13 AM on July 21, 2011


The very concept of the "liberal media" originated in the delusional brain of a criminally narcissistic megalomaniac with a persecution complex (to his dying days, Nixon blamed the "liberal media" for his downfall, rather than taking responsibility for his criminal role in the Watergate burglaries).

To Nixon's credit, the media did become better-informed and more aggressive during the period between when he first ran for president (and was a victim of his poor television presence) and when he became president and was outed as a crook. Other politicians of the time were involved in underhanded dealing, notably his rivals on the other side of the fence, the Kennedys.
posted by mikeh at 9:20 AM on July 21, 2011


But on the other end of the equation, you need the public to be interested in getting to the truth,

I long for the day when a news origination lies and every other news team leaps all over it, forces it into the public eye, and demands that the lying group defend their statement, or retract and apologize for their behavior.

Because what we have right now is an open acceptance of the fact that some sides will blatantly lie and never be called on it. And the public takes this silence from everyone else to mean that what they are being told is the Truth and that they can believe it.

And gods forbid that someone does complain, it's couched in terms like "inaccuracies" or "falsehoods". When a lie is spoken, the best measure against it is to call attention to it, and call it a fucking "Lie". Don't beat around the bush and give the liar wiggle room to weasel out. Only when that kind of scrutiny is common, will people start to give a shit about whether or not what their being told is accurate.
posted by quin at 9:33 AM on July 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "born-again evangelical Christian investor Foster Friess"

So, an angel investor who would probably invest in angels.
posted by brundlefly at 9:38 AM on July 21, 2011


All I know is I want to punch him in the dick because his name is "Tucker."
posted by Ratio at 9:40 AM on July 21, 2011


No one would hold that against you.
posted by Theta States at 10:29 AM on July 21, 2011


Oh yes, MSNBC is just a libral Daily Caller:

Cenk Uygur On Leaving MSNBC: Network Told Me To 'Tone It Down,' Didn't Want To 'Challenge Power' "'Outsiders are cool, but we're the establishment,'" Griffin said, according to Uygur, who said he was also told to book more Republicans on the show.

The Bachmann piece was said to have been planted by Rove, btw.
posted by psyche7 at 10:31 AM on July 21, 2011


SaulGoodman: So because you disagree with one particular media critique, Fox's, all "cultural reflection and media criticism" is a scam? Except for your critique that the media is warped by corporate consolidation? Talk about a "God Complex."
posted by BobbyVan at 10:32 AM on July 21, 2011


headnsouth: It might surprise Tucker Carlson et al. but a lot of liberals don't want a liberal media. We want an objective media. That's why liberals love Jon Stewart. Not because he's on the left but because he calls the media to task for not doing its job.

I love Jon Stewart just as much as the next card-carrying liberal but don't conflate "calling the media to task" with objectivity. He's not objective, nor does he make any pretense that he is. "We want an objective media" is a great rallying cry, but what does it really mean? In the end, it amounts to "We want a media that reflects our most deeply-held views back to us." If an objective media existed and told liberals things they didn't want to hear, it's a good bet that it would no longer be called objective, it would be called biased.

BobbyVan: So because you disagree with one particular media critique, Fox's, all "cultural reflection and media criticism" is a scam?

Fox has no critiques. Fox has talking points and marching orders.
posted by blucevalo at 10:44 AM on July 21, 2011


No, media criticism is fine. But media criticism itself is a liberal activity, in the original (pre-Nixon/right-wing extremist reality distortion field) sense of the word.

The "liberal" vs. "conservative" framing of media issues is the scam. Those terms don't even really mean anything coherent as their used in contemporary politics, and that's the scam. That specific reference frame for discussing media issues and critiquing the media is the scam. No "god complex" necessary to see that when you consider the historical source of that particular way of framing of the problem.

It's not like nobody discussed how challenging doing fair but meaningful journalism was until we discovered the insidious problem of liberalism in journalism. Technically, in the original sense of the word, conscientiously reporting the facts in an unbiased way at all--as opposed to simply repeating establishment or partisan dogma--is liberalism in action.

"Liberal" also means "broad-minded" and "unprejudiced." And in that no ridiculously muddled sense of the word, the media needs to be more liberal, not less so. But it's exactly that sense of the word "liberalism" that political conservatives most stridently seek to undermine, because they'd rather (a la Fox News) see news that is actively and aggressively biased toward their particular point of view (news that is illiberal).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 AM on July 21, 2011


>Cenk Uygur On Leaving MSNBC

I just watched that clip a few minutes ago, having arrived at it via some other link.

I think I'd only seen Uygur's show once, so don't know the guy's work; nonetheless, his rather long-winded account of How I Left Your Network is fascinating.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2011


Great. Now I think you need to redefine broad-minded to mean: I read that Roger Ailes wanted to establish a conservative media outlet back in the Nixon-days, and I think his current projects are politically objectionable and dishonest, therefore, the entire debate over conservative/liberal media is a scam.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:55 AM on July 21, 2011


If an objective media existed and told liberals things they didn't want to hear, it's a good bet that it would no longer be called objective, it would be called biased.

See, I disagree. I think that, while this statement might be true now as far as it goes, it's really only true because our expectations have changed as a result of this intentional framing of these media issues. We shouldn't expect the news to conform to our expectations, and I don't think we necessarily always have to the degree we do today (although I'll admit this last point is debatable).

It's the way that the more legitimate media issues have been re-framed and conflated with personal identity politics that creates the illusion that the whole problem comes down to some choice between "liberal" vs. "conservative" bias, when the problem doesn't really break down that way at all. It's a more complicated issue than that narrow way of framing it allows, and in fact, that particular, narrow framing of the problem was deliberately calculated to produce a desired political effect, and that's documented, so why are we still playing along?
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2011


I think his current projects are politically objectionable and dishonest, therefore, the entire debate over conservative/liberal media is a scam.

It's a scam because, among other things, there are known historical documents that show Nixon political operatives discussing how to use the issue of "liberal bias" to undermine the effectiveness and political power of the media. They weren't discussing how to go about making the media more "accurate" or less biased: they were discussing how to weaken the ability of the media to interfere with their specific political goals.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2011


All I know is I want to punch him in the dick because his name is "Tucker."

He'll just come back half-an-hour later with a friend and punch *you* in the dick.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2011


Great. Now I think you need to redefine broad-minded to mean:

Since you seem to be subtly suggestion those other senses of the word "liberal" are recent "revisionist" innovations or something, here's a link to the definition of the word "liberal" as it appeared in the 1828 edition of the Webster's dictionary. I think you'd agree, no one in their right mind would object to the media being liberal in any of these senses of the word (with the possible exception of meaning #9, and even that's debatable).
posted by saulgoodman at 11:15 AM on July 21, 2011


Sorry, I had to stop laughing.

When have political operatives ever conspired to make the media "more accurate" or "less biased" for its own sake? I fully expect political factions to try to game the media, and support media organizations that parrot their arguments. Rather than trying to take the politics out of the media (a fools errand if there ever was one), better to accept a diverse landscape of media sources... even ones you don't agree with.

And on preview - yes, I'm aware of the definition of the word liberal. I consider myself a liberal. I do not consider myself a leftist. I also think it takes a pretty illiberal perspective to dismiss an entire line of argument as a scam (and, implicitly, made in bad faith) simply because it was once utilized by Nixon-era operatives.
posted by BobbyVan at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2011


And on preview - yes, I'm aware of the definition of the word liberal. I consider myself a liberal. I do not consider myself a leftist. I also think it takes a pretty illiberal perspective to dismiss an entire line of argument as a scam (and, implicitly, made in bad faith) simply because it was once utilized by Nixon-era operatives.

Talk about an understatement! It's not just that they made an argument--the only reason this particular way of understanding and talking about media issue has been such a prominent feature of popular culture over the last couple of decades is because Fox News deliberately put it front and center. That was what the Nixon operatives (including Roger Ailes, the guy who started Fox News) said they were going to do and they did it. And that's all documented.

Setting up a dedicated news outlet to run propaganda operations for you is a lot more drastic than just utilizing a line of argument, as you dismissively characterize it. I'd love to be able to reinforce and support my preferred political positions with an entire news network, too, but most of us have to settle for using, well, actual arguments with defensible claims--we don't just get to write history, despite what the clown who said this thinks: "...when we act, we create our own reality... And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
posted by saulgoodman at 11:37 AM on July 21, 2011


If the only people who argued that the media was biased towards the left were Roger Ailes and his cohorts, there might be something to your simplistic and conspiratorial account. Too bad for your argument that there is a serious scholarly debate on the subject. Don't tell me the authors of this study are in on it too!

I think it's fine for you to think that the argument that the media is biased towards the left is wrong. But you need more than some dusty old Roger Ailes memo to prove that the entire critique of the media from the right is an illegitimate scam.

I'm also curious about what your remedy is for a "propaganda" outlet like Fox. As Lenin might have asked, "What Is to Be Done?"
posted by BobbyVan at 12:04 PM on July 21, 2011


Too bad for your argument that there is a serious scholarly debate on the subject.

A serious scholarly debate introduced by fellows of "The conservative Media Research Center"--a conservative think tank? Pseudo-academic, partisan institutions of the kind that generates these "discussions" are precisely the PR assets that political operatives use to seed this framing of the issue in the public debate!

In 1971 Lewis F. Powell Jr. urged conservatives to retake command of public discourse by "financing think tanks, reshaping mass media and seeking influence in universities and the judiciary."[19] In the following decades conservative policies once considered outside the liberal mainstream—such as abolishing welfare, privatizing Social Security, deregulating banking, embracing preemptive war—were taken seriously and sometimes passed into law thanks to the work of the Hoover Institution, Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and smaller tanks.[20][21]
posted by saulgoodman at 12:17 PM on July 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Too bad for your argument that there is a serious scholarly debate on the subject.

Once again, Wikipedia proves that the Talk page is the best part of any article.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:30 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cenk Uygur and the ethos of corporate-owned media - Glenn Greenwald
I said on the air that most politicians are corrupt. And I remember, my guest was like: "What - how can you say that? These are honorable gentlemen" [laughter] I am not going to do a show where I pretend that most of the politicians in Washington are honorable gentlemen. Hell no.
posted by psyche7 at 12:56 PM on July 21, 2011


Saulgoodman - while the conservative Media Research Center certainly trumpeted the findings of "The Media Elite," I'm not aware of any formal links between them and the study's authors. Glad to be corrected if I'm in error.

There's also this. I'm sure with some googling you'll find that those authors are suspect as well, so best to dismiss that study also. Faith in one's preferred conclusions must be so comfortable. There's a real debate to be had here, and to dismiss it as an illegitimate scam would be wrong and closed-minded.

I'm also not sure what you think is wrong with conservatives financing think tanks and engaging with public institutions like the media, academia and the judiciary (per your Lewis Powell quote). I suppose we're supposed to recoil at the thought of conservatives "infiltrating" what was once unspoilt, virgin political territory, right?
posted by BobbyVan at 1:28 PM on July 21, 2011


There's a real debate to be had here, and to dismiss it as an illegitimate scam would be wrong and closed-minded.

I agree there are lots of good debates to be had about journalistic methodologies and ethics, and issues of media accuracy, bias and fairness, I just don't think it's a good idea to be carrying on any of those discussions as framed in terms that were specifically and explicitly calculated by partisan political operatives to make sure their political faction would be on the receiving end of any political benefits such discussions might generate. Especially knowing what we know now about how this discussion got off the ground in the first place.

And as for that other "study" you cited, you might want to look again:
Given the study's conclusions (that the media is replete with liberal bias) and the study's failure to acknowledge its authors' conservative pedigree, it is not surprising that a number of conservative news outlets picked up the story, as did a few mainstream outlets. Conservative MSNBC host Tucker Carlson interviewed Milyo about the study on the December 19 edition of MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson. The study was also cited by anchor Jack Cafferty during the December 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room; on the December 19 editions of Fox News' Fox & Friends and Special Report with Brit Hume; in a December 19 article in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee; and in a December 20 Investor's Business Daily editorial by Edward R. Stephanopoulos. CBS News' Public Eye weblog also featured a post about the study.

None of the outlets that reported on the study mentioned that the authors have previously received funding from the three premier conservative think tanks in the United States: the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), The Heritage Foundation, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Groseclose was a Hoover Institution 2000-2001 national fellow; Milyo, according to his CV (pdf), received a $40,500 grant from AEI; and, according to The Philanthropy Roundtable, Groseclose and Milyo were named by Heritage as Salvatori fellows in 1997. In 1996, Groseclose and Milyo co-authored a piece for the right-wing magazine The American Spectator, titled "Lost Shepherd," criticizing the then-recently defeated member of Congress Karen Shepherd (D-UT) and defending her successor, Enid Greene (R-UT); when the piece was published, Greene was in the midst of a campaign contribution scandal and later agreed to pay a civil penalty after the Federal Election Commission found (pdf) that she violated campaign finance laws.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right, better to only have debates about media bias that benefit certain parties, not others. Just so I understand, it's OK to have a debate about the "corporate media". It's not OK to have a debate about the "liberal media".

Love the irony and lack of self-awareness of Media Matters critiquing a study by citing the political connections of its authors.

Thanks for linking it, though. They pretty comprehensively dismantled the study's authors' methodologies.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:07 PM on July 21, 2011


No, if the aim of the debate isn't to improve the quality of media as a public service in the public interest, then it's not a debate but a PR campaign.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:23 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right. And who gets to define what the "public interest" is? You? And politics doesn't creep into that definition at all, right? You really can't call yourself a liberal if you believe that someone should be entitled to decide who gets to debate important public issues. I think we're about done here.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:10 AM on July 22, 2011


US law, since the time of our country's founding, has explicitly privileged the public interest--the common interest--ahead of narrower private interests. The fact that you and a handful of other extremely vocal aphasics don't seem to be able to grasp the meaning of a term that's been well understood and in constant use for thousands of years of human history doesn't have any bearing on the actual state of affairs. In fact, the meaning of "Public interest" has been well established in law and in practice for hundreds of years, so whether or not you understand what the "public interest" means, the rest of the world doesn't have time (nor any obligation) to stop and give you a remedial course in English.

But good news: Nobody's deciding anything here. Lucky for you, I'm not (and would never hope to be) The Decider (nor do I consider myself particularly liberal; leftist, yes--as god intended, my heart's on the left--but I'm a conservative lefty).

It just seems awfully undignified to me, once you find out you've been deliberately led round and round on a snipe hunt, to keep pretending you're still going to be able to catch that damn snipe one day if you only keep trying. This particular issue (liberal bias in the media) is a snipe hunt. It was a calculated political tactic from the get-go, there's documented proof of that, and I would hope the American people are getting a little tired of playing the goat to the cynical, self-interested misanthropists at the head of this particular parade, no matter how entertaining the antics of the tone-deaf marching band of useful idiots that follows at their heels.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:09 AM on July 22, 2011


In fact, the meaning of "Public interest" has been well established in law and in practice in the US for hundreds of years
posted by saulgoodman at 7:10 AM on July 22, 2011


I appreciate your honesty in admitting that you're a leftist, but not much of a liberal. That much is clear.

If we're heading back to the country's founding, maybe you'd do well to re-read James Madison's "Federalist 10" on factions.

You also didn't answer my question about what should be done with Fox News. Should the government, in the interest of the public interest*, do something to stop it? Should we make an exception to the First Amendment?

*Since it's so obvious (to you anyway), it would be great if you could offer up a cite on what the "public interest" really means, and how that definition should be applied to politically-based media criticism.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:23 AM on July 22, 2011


Don't pretend we didn't already have rules on the books for many years of our history that would have been more than sufficient to handle our current problems. We already have (or in some cases had) rules to handle monopolies and unfair, predatory competitive practices. We already have (or in some cases had) rules to prevent abuse and misuse of the public airwaves.

It's only been through the steady and consistent erosion of existing American cultural norms, regulatory systems and public institutions under the assault of so-called "conservatives" over the last couple of decades that we've gotten where we are today. I'm not proposing anything but a return to recent historical norms for America.

The public interest (or "common good") is a pretty fundamental and elemental human concept, one that most people grasp pretty well intuitively without needing a formal lesson. You might as well ask for a definition of "fairness." The question is irrelevant. Concepts like the "public good" and the "public interest" are already built into the foundations of our law, so it's a little late to start questioning them now. Besides, I suspect you know perfectly well what it means and are just using an old sophist's trick to muddle the issue, because you know that once you start arguing over axioms, its easy to reduce any discussion, regardless of the merits, to what appears to be an intractable "he-said-she-said" problem.

BTW, I say I'm a leftist because I sit with the rest of the rabble on the left side of the aisle, just as in the European parliaments where the term "Left" originated. I'm a conservative (for now) because my aim is to undo the destructive reforms of the crazy "movement conservative" set and restore/maintain what had been the traditional American approach to governance and social welfare. I'm a liberal, too, in some areas, but currently, I'm more concerned with stopping the crazy and getting America back to its real, populist historical roots.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:57 AM on July 22, 2011


You also didn't answer my question about what should be done with Fox News. Should the government, in the interest of the public interest*, do something to stop it? Should we make an exception to the First Amendment?

The government should do nothing. People of good faith should acknowledge that Fox News willingly lies and deceives to advance a political agenda, and consequently not consider them a reliable source of facts or news.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:01 AM on July 22, 2011


News Corp should have been broken up as an illegal trust years ago (or better yet, never allowed to become as massive as it is in the first place). And News Corp isn't the only company that needs to be broken up on that basis; it's just the most conspicuously harmful to society.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:08 AM on July 22, 2011


Wow, your agenda is terrifying. It sounds to me like your definition of "public interest" is kind of like Potter Stewart's description of pornography ("I know it when I see it"). That is no basis for governing a society, and you can cry "sophist" all you want, but you've basically stopped arguing the essential point here.

You really should go read Madison's Federalist 10 (linked in my previous comment) post-haste to get a real flavor for what debate and politics in America is all about. For the record, our founders never defined the "public interest." Instead, they set up a system where competing factions would jockey for power and hold each other in check. It's kind of an ingenious little system. In America, you don't shut organizations down for not conforming to your own idea of the "public interest." That way tyranny lies.

I have great respect for Benito Strauss' comment below yours. Indeed, the US government should do nothing about Fox News. However, individuals and other organizations should be free to call "bullshit" to their heart's content. That's what freedom is all about, pal, and thank goodness you're not the "decider".
posted by BobbyVan at 8:17 AM on July 22, 2011


Also kind of revealing that you've pivoted to start argue that News Corp should be broken up because it's a monopoly. I thought you didn't like it because it was based on bullshit PR cooked up by an asshole from the Nixon days. "By any means necessary," right?
posted by BobbyVan at 8:23 AM on July 22, 2011


to start arguing
posted by BobbyVan at 8:24 AM on July 22, 2011


I have great respect for Benito Strauss' comment below yours. Indeed, the US government should do nothing about Fox News. However, individuals and other organizations should be free to call "bullshit" to their heart's content. That's what freedom is all about, pal, and thank goodness you're not the "decider".

You must absolutely hate Teddy Roosevelt.

You want to pretend what I'm proposing some kind of radically new "agenda"---but the fact remains, all I'm advocating is a return to historical American norms, and you're the one on the radical side, dress your radicalism up in jingoistic slogans and cheap rhetoric all you like.

Leaving the role of "decider" up to whoever happens to have control over the most personal wealth and then claiming you're promoting individual freedom is appallingly dishonest.

I mention anti-trust because that's an even bigger issue. The problem of media consolidation is very much on point, as it's a major factor in how corrupt organizations like News Corp have been empowered to engage in their destructive, anti-public interest market abuses.

But I'm wasting time debating it with you. You claim not to be even capable of understanding foundational democratic principles like the public good, so I'm sorry if I'm not exactly reassured that you can be trusted to handle an even more abstract concept like freedom with any degree of competence.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:00 AM on July 22, 2011


I thought you didn't like it because it was based on bullshit PR cooked up by an asshole from the Nixon days. "By any means necessary," right?

No, there are a couple of separate issues: One, we don't enforce antitrust laws nearly as aggressively or rigorously as we should. News corp should never have been allowed to grow to this point. Two, we don't regulate the public airwaves properly anymore.

Personally, I think it's disgusting that anyone would defend the existence of an official party-operated political propaganda outlet as in the US, but if you that idea doesn't appall you as much as it does me, then I suspect there are some pretty basic core values we don't share (and that, in your case, would be better suited for Stalinist Russia).

None of my complaints are appeals to change anything fundamental about our democracy--nothing I've proposed is radical or new in the context of American history. Quite the opposite--I'm asking for a return to the forms of democratic governance that have served us best historically. You're the one advocating a position that's at odds with American tradition.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm a fool to step in to this 2-way slug-fest, but I should add that while I don't think Fox News should be broken up by the government for lying, experience seems to show that unregulated markets (in either ideas or goods) often succumb to monopolies, absent regulation (usually by governments). I would love to see us return to pre-Reagan regulations on the number of newspapers/radio stations/television stations/etc. that can be owned by one company. I think most of big media would be broken up.

I'd also like to ask if people agree that Fox News "willingly lies and deceives to advance a political agenda", and does so to a much greater degree than any other 'news' organization of comparable size. Because if we can't agree on that, we're living in different universes.

(On preview, I realized that I haven't payed much attention to MSNBC lately. Is it all Olberman all the time these days? If that's the case, then ick. But I don't think people put MSNBC in the same league as NBC, CBS, ABC, New York Times, etc., do they?)
posted by benito.strauss at 9:44 AM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to go ahead and declare victory in this "2-way slug-fest". Saul, you still refuse to define the "public interest," and if you're going to use that vague and increasingly ominous term as justification for undermining the First Amendment to the US Constitution by muzzling a media organization whose viewpoints you disagree with... Well, I think you need to re-examine who is the real "Stalinist," to use your term.

Funny you should bring up Teddy Roosevelt. Did you ever wonder how the Pulitzer Prize got its name? Interesting story. See, Teddy Roosevelt had Joseph Pulitzer, who ran a newspaper called "The World," indicted for criminal libel for exposing fraudulent American payments to the French Panama Canal Company. When Roosevelt explained the indictment, he referred to "the great injury done...in blackening the good name of the American people." Sounds like something done "in the public interest," right? Well, the case went to the Supreme Court, and Pulitzer won, striking a powerful blow in the name of press freedom. So you're right, I'm not a big fan of Teddy Roosevelt. But I see why you might be, and not for the reasons other people are.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2011


Saul, you have the patience of a saint.
posted by Theta States at 12:41 PM on July 22, 2011


Me too, Theta! ;)
posted by BobbyVan at 1:07 PM on July 22, 2011


Ah yes: the "nattering nabobs of negativism" in the "liberal press," so eloquently decried by one Spiro T. Agnew. The same Spiro T. Agnew that was later to become the only Vice President ever forced to resign due to criminal charges.

As has been noted, the "liberal press" meme has been a red herring for decades.
posted by darkstar at 1:29 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Though, to give "credit" where it's due, the phrase was originally coined by William Safire, speechwriter for Nixon and Agnew.)
posted by darkstar at 1:31 PM on July 22, 2011


BobbyVan, I'm curious. Earlier in the thread you said
Which is why you need multiple media outlets with different perspectives in competition with each other to see who can come closest to the objective truth,
Do you think that every perspective adds to the pursuit of truth? Because I don't. There are some people who are not competing in good faith, and I think they make it less likely to arrive at the truth.

This doesn't mean I think the government should close them down. I'm pretty fundamentalist on the first amendment. There are American Nazis I would love to see die painfully, but let 'em march!
posted by benito.strauss at 1:40 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benito, good point. There are always going to be people and organizations that don't behave in good faith. But as you suggest with your Nazis in Skokie analogy, that's the price you pay for living in a free and open society.

The implication suggested by some in this thread that we need some kind of government ombudsman for the news media is, I think it's fair to say, completely un-American.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:47 PM on July 22, 2011


Bobby, it seems I forgot to mention that, while I think the Nazis should be allowed to march, I'd be there protesting their message. Given the American principle of leaving the government out of such affairs, it falls to citizens to oppose bad actors and liars.

So I really want to hear your position. This thread started with The Daily Caller, but let's take Fox News as the best known example of right-leaning media.

I think:
- Fox News does not act in good faith as a service trying to find and spread the truth.
- Their prime motive is advancing a specific agenda.
- All media take positions, but Fox News shows are egregiously agenda driven. Their lies, distortions, and selectivity in reporting happen more often and are much more extreme than other similarly sized media organizations. (I'm including shows that some excuse with "Oh, that's just opinion", or "That's just a comedy show with a political slant").
- By me, they have forfeited the right to be taken seriously. Sometimes they are right (the Juan Williams incident, for example), but that doesn't justify all their other bad-faith actions.

I'm curious — what do you think about Fox News?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:48 PM on July 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I pretty much agree with your take on Fox. I rarely watch it. But at least they're somewhat up front about their agenda, as opposed to other media organizations that piously claim objectivity ("fair and balanced" notwithstanding, Chris Wallace basically gave up the ghost when he argued Fox was the "counterweight" to MSNBC). Typing on bberry so sorry for any typos. I'm gonna need to duck out of here for the weekend now, so don't think I'm dodging you all. It's been fun.
posted by BobbyVan at 4:04 PM on July 22, 2011


I don't know that "fair and balanced" can be dismissed so easily. I thought that, along with "we report, you decide", were still repeated frequently, despite what Chris Wallace may have said.

And I'm really going to have to disagree with
But at least they're somewhat up front about their agenda, as opposed to other media organizations that piously claim objectivity
I see this frequently, and I just don't get it. Essentially it says that no matter what bad shit someone does, it's worse to be a hypocrite. I just don't get it.

I wonder if it's a case of developing a strong dislike of particular media figure, so that anything coming out of their mouth bugs you. I know that if David Brooks were to announce that world hunger had been permanently fixed, and we were all getting our own personal jetpacks that removed excess CO2 from the air when you flew them, I'd still want to punch him in the face.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:16 PM on July 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


"liberal bias" is purely a device of the right to strengthen themselves. they want profitable wars, they want capitalist policies that enrich the rich, they want religious ideologies that enfeeble the mind. they want anything else to shut the hell up.
posted by camdan at 9:05 PM on July 22, 2011


I see this frequently, and I just don't get it. Essentially it says that no matter what bad shit someone does, it's worse to be a hypocrite. I just don't get it.

And what percentage of Fox News' audience would actually admit that Fox News is at all slanted? Most just swallow the "fair & balanced" slogan hook, line & sinker.
posted by Theta States at 5:56 AM on July 25, 2011


Its reporting surpasses what Andrew Breitbart has on offer.

Speaking of Breitbart: Judge: Sherrod Defamation Suit Against Breitbart Can Proceed
posted by homunculus at 9:16 AM on July 29, 2011


« Older How to talk to an alien, a detailed guide to first...  |  British Wresting Posters:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments