Packing it in
June 12, 2003 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Packing it in Now remember, just because an idiot tells you it's night doesn't mean the sun has risen. But Ann Coulter has busted the New York media. Seems a David Packer is their go-to guy any time they want a man on the street. It turns out David Packer's a real guy with apparently a lot of time on his hands. Mickey Kaus asks the Next Question "...why the NYT would write about this semi-professional line-stander and quote machine as if he were a typical man on the street. You'd think he'd be notorious by now. ... " They do have Nexis at the Times, don't they? [via KausFiles]
posted by mojohand (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Back on track, this Packer guy seems like a total nut job. Who better to fill the role as "typical man on the street" in New York City, no?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:41 PM on June 12, 2003

Boy, that Ann Coulter. When it comes to journalism... well, I'd hit it.
posted by RylandDotNet at 1:43 PM on June 12, 2003

Good old Annie with her hard hitting criticism of the liberal media.

I really, really hate that the Packer link was her web site and I went there. Doesn't fit in with my policy of ignoring her and hoping she'll go away. Yeah, yeah, so then why are you reading posts about her, Orangie....
posted by orange swan at 1:49 PM on June 12, 2003

I'm just increasingly astonished to find out that the staff of 'The New York Times' bears so much resemblance to the staff of the student newspaper I worked on in high school: a lot of hardworking and honest folks, yes, but also lazy reporters making stuff up (Jayson Blair), lazy reporters quoting the same person all the time (those who've quoted Packer), and egomaniacal editors playing favorites (Howell Raines). I was naive enough to imagine that when you became a professional journalist, you started acting, you know, professional.
posted by eyebeam at 1:54 PM on June 12, 2003

But Why is Packer chosen so often? Does he make himself visible to reporters, or do reporters know him as an easy photo and quote? Either way it seems journalistically lazy to keep using the same "Man on the Street" over and over. It's only going to lead to more mistrust in the post-Jason Blair era and give more ammo to folks like Coulter.

On Preview: I don't think this post is about Coulter, per se, as much as that Packer has somehow gotten himself quoted as an "average citizen" a few dozen more times then would actually be average. Coulter just seems to have picked up on his weird notoriety. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, etc, etc.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:56 PM on June 12, 2003

On another note, Ann Coulter accusing someone of practicing bad journalism is like a convicted child molester accusing someone of being a bad parent.
posted by eyebeam at 1:59 PM on June 12, 2003

"david packer" is probably a real guy too (in fact, probably more than one), but all the articles referenced are actually talking about "greg packer".

on preview: eyebeam: the hraka blog entry makes the point that it is probably packer's doing that he is quoted so much. For one thing, he is present at basically every event where a reporter might want to get a quote from the "person on the street". Also, he is some kind of fame/publicity freak whose admitted eventual goal is to endorse products in tv ads. As hraka says, "This is a man who enjoys the spotlight and seeks it out, not another giant screw-up by the Times. I suspect he can ID reporters from a half mile away."
posted by advil at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2003

Ann Coulter. So much hatred. She needs a boyfriend or something.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:03 PM on June 12, 2003

Boy, that Ann Coulter. When it comes to journalism... well, I'd hit it.

You do mean with a shovel, right?

lazy reporters making stuff up (Jayson Blair)

Well, "lazy" meaning "coked up and moderately insane."

What makes this irritating is, of course, the Coulter angle- it's likely that for the next few years the current crisises at the Times will be noted, and then have the credit for revealing these problems taken by, right-wing conservatives with columns and web sites... as if they did anything beyond spread their "the Times is liberal propoganda" rhetoric more frequently.

My point is that yes, this is bad journalism- but Coulter only cares about it because it's the New York Times- and as reviews of her last book already explained, Coulter if anything is an expert at taking any errors on behalf of an entity deemed as "liberal" and phrase them as proof that the questionably-existant liberalism of the source was what actually caused it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:04 PM on June 12, 2003

According to an ABC poll, 48 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Hillary, 53 percent of Americans don't want Hillary to ever run for president, and 7 percent of Americans have been date-raped by Bill Clinton.

Nice. . . .Date Rape seems to the the theme of the day here.
posted by Danf at 2:05 PM on June 12, 2003

Couple points on the Packer thing. First, he also appears in the New York Newsday article on the Clinton booksigning. Second, it's not clear from the Coulter column whether Packer appears "more than 100 times" in NY Times articles or "more than 100 times" in all Lexis-Nexis articles available over all newspapers. If one was that determined to get the attention of various different newspapers (he seems to be present at almost every celebrity event), it's possible one could manage to get quoted various newspapers that many times.

Ann Coulter has been known to obfuscate the actual source of accusations she will associate with the New York Times (scroll down to the part about the Clarence Thomas editorial).
posted by deanc at 3:00 PM on June 12, 2003


To be fair, if you read both the Kausfiles entry and the Coulter piece, it looks more like Mickey Kaus than Coulter who's trying to spin this as primarily a NYT problem.

Which is not surprising, since Kaus' ongoing jihad against the NYT makes his blog all but unreadable.
posted by pitchblende at 3:06 PM on June 12, 2003

lazy reporters making stuff up (Jayson Blair), lazy reporters quoting the same person all the time (those who've quoted Packer), and egomaniacal editors playing favorites (Howell Raines)...

You forgot to mention lazy chronic alcoholics who re-write others' press releases and pass them off as journalism.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:18 PM on June 12, 2003

Ann Coulter showed in Slander that she can't talk about the New York Times without making factual errors about what it reported. Why is she being taken at faith here on the way the paper has quoted Greg Packer?

The guy was first in line and mentioned by several papers. His name only appears six times in the online archive, which dates back to 1996, and some of those might not be references to him.

Additionally, the guy gets quoted all the time -- a search of ELibrary found him in stories from more than a half-dozen media outlets. Here's an example from an AP story:

History was on the mind of Greg Packer, a New Yorker visiting ground zero for the fourth time.

"Each time, it just gets harder and harder," he said. "But there' s nothing more important than to see this. This is more important to me than any concert or game that I've ever seen, because this is history."

Clearly, he's a genius at find reporters and feeding them good quotes. Even if Coulter has shown a newfound ability to count, which I'm doubting, this isn't much of a Times bash.
posted by rcade at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2003

My Lexis-Nexis search (General News + Major Papers + All Available Dates + Search Full Text) generates 45 hits for "Greg Packer." (The earliest date is 1995.) Several of these hits were not for the same "Greg Packer," unless he has a second identity as an Australian rocker. Nor is he the boutique developer, or the guy from Adelaide. Some of the hits were duplicates. A Lexis-Nexis search for "Greg Packer" + "Ann Coulter," all other search parameters being the same, hits. Only 3 hits were for the NYT. To double-check, I ran a search for "Greg Packer" at the NYT, which generated a total of 6 hits; of those hits, 4 seemed related to the gent under discussion (I don't feel like paying to check the archives). I also ran a search at ReferenceLink, which pulled up some more links from the AP, but most of the hits were a) multiples of the same article or b) not this Greg Packer. What am I doing wrong here--where are the 100s of hits? He does get around a fair amount: first in line on several occasions, going to sports events, hearing the Pope... Clearly he enjoys getting reporters' attention, but it would be interesting to know how.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2003

where are the 100s of hits?

Presumably Ms. Coulter left them in the same place she left this "liberal media" to which she has often referred, but can never produce for examination.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:29 PM on June 12, 2003

i'm trying hard not to feel pity, but Greg Packer makes me sad.

his dream?

he hopes to someday endorse products in television commercials

and pretty weak writing (although Mr. Epstein has dirt for content here) from CNS as well:

Billy Joel, Don Henley and Mariah Carey to the Dixie Chicks, Rage Against the Machine and the punk band Nofx, he's met just about everyone in heavy rotation on MTV.

oh yeah, those rock stars are all over MTV. those kids, they love their Don Henley and Nofx. right.

How many people have found something that they love to wake up at 2:30 in the morning to do?

um, anyone who's ever had sex in the middle of the night?
posted by mrgrimm at 4:35 PM on June 12, 2003

Boy, that Ann Coulter. When it comes to journalism... well, I'd hit it.

You do mean with a shovel, right?

I remember disagreeing with you over something Xquz, but I admit total wrongdoing as long as I can steal that joke.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:13 PM on June 12, 2003

It's sorta interesting that this Packer fellow has gotten himself into the paper so many times as the Man on the Street, but Coulter, as usual, tried to shape an easily explainable phenomenon into evidence of a liberal conspiracy. She's nuts.

Then again, since this is MeFi, I have to point out that us moderates, and I'm sure the right wingers, think exactly the same thing when they see someone like Michael Moore quoted here - as noted, broken clocks are right twice a day. In the interest of honesty, let's bash the shady-fact pushing extremists on both sides of the table.
posted by Kevs at 1:01 AM on June 13, 2003

Hmmm, maybe this Packer guy just happens to always show up when reporters need him, ala Bradbury's "The Crowd." [story spoiler]

No guess as to where Coulter comes from...
posted by given2fli at 6:43 PM on June 13, 2003

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