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Halperin says it: The problem is right wing media

As I've been arguing here regularly, the moral of the Shirley Sherrod affair is that not all partisan media are created equal. Though this is overwhelmingly obvious, few media figures have been willing to state clearly that the problem isn't "partisan" media in general, but the conservative media in particular.

Now Mark Halperin, to his credit, goes there:

The Sherrod story is a reminder -- much like the 2004 assault on John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- that the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media. In many quarters of the old media, there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny.

Additionally, the conservative new media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by old-media decisionmakers is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible.

...all of us who are involved in politics and media should take a moment to recognize that we have hit a low point. And let all of us resolve that, having hit bottom, it is time to start climbing out of the pit.

As Steve Benen notes, Halperin is widely respected by the Beltway media elite, so here's hoping they listen to him.

What's particularly noteworthy is that Halperin clearly states that the problem here is conservative media, and that self-described "neutral" media figures are particularly susceptible to stories pushed by the right because they're deathly afraid of being tarred as liberal.

I'd only add that the final step in understanding what's really going here is an acknowledgment that both sides don't do what Breitbart and Fox do on a regular basis. MSNBC and left leaning new media outlets, while ideologically motivated in some ways, just don't employ the tactics of political operatives and oppo researchers in the manner that Breitbart and Fox figures do. They don't push info solely for political impact with no effort whatsoever to determine accuracy, context, fairness and truth.

I'd argue this is crucial to understanding what's really happening with the rapidly shifting landscape in the new media age, particularly since "the new-media genie is not going back into the bottle," as Halperin puts it. Kudos to him for taking a step in this direction.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 28, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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Next: Chuck Todd clarifies his criticism of Journolist

Comments

Serious question again about impartiality here. Is this an editorial, an objective piece, or what exactly? How is it possible to cover the story when you and others in the WaPo have been outed on Journolist?

Again, are these pieces by bloggers going through the editorial process that an article in a newspaper would go through? If so, how are they churned out so quickly throughout the day? If not, why not? Don't the old rules apply to blogs as well?

I want to see WaPo's Ombudsman and/or Public Editor (is there one?) come in on this issue because they really are quite serious and I know it's brutal now because many journalists who had no connection to Journolist are now having their work unfairly impugned because of what's gone on.

Posted by: jcannes76 | July 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The trick of it is this: The right-wing media can not only lie, but they can badger the MSM by saying, "Why isn't the liberal media covering our lie?!"

This would be akin to me asking why more in the media aren't addressing John Boehner's habit of beating his wife, and then paying a million dollars to run an ad asking why the media isn't covering the story.

Posted by: benintn | July 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

...and I'd never let up pushing back.

Fox is trying to paint everyone into a corner of being pro-lib pro-Obama all the time and trying to discredit everyone but themselves as being neutral and trying to define neutral as themselves when in fact they are nothing of the sort.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media"

DING DING DING!!!

We have a winnahhhh!

Mark Halperin, THANK YOU.

(*ahem* it's about time)

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

then next time this pattern appears set to unfold again, we can point to this sorry episode and preempt the same sequence of events from playing out again.

despite the naysayers, this is a game changer.

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 28, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty safe to say that you've jumped the shark when you've lost Halperin.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 28, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Serious question again about impartiality here. Is this an editorial, an objective piece, or what exactly? How is it possible to cover the story when you and others in the WaPo have been outed on Journolist?

Again, are these pieces by bloggers going through the editorial process that an article in a newspaper would go through? If so, how are they churned out so quickly throughout the day? If not, why not? Don't the old rules apply to blogs as well?

I want to see WaPo's Ombudsman and/or Public Editor (is there one?) come in on this issue because they really are quite serious and I know it's brutal now because many journalists who had no connection to Journolist are now having their work unfairly impugned because of what's gone on.

Posted by: jcannes76

___________________________________

jcannes76 - Oh boo hoo!

Have you noticed that this blog is an opinion piece????????

You have to be somewhat out of touch with reality to be upset about someone expressing an opinion in an opinion piece.

Maybe you need to go lay down in a dark room so you can get over your vapors.

Posted by: TOMMYBASEBALL | July 28, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

blahgblog, it's already underway. Check out the latest (Vitter/Breitbart) at TPM

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/vitter-breitbart-revive-death-panel-smear-in-attack-on-fda-breast-cancer-drug-decision.php

These messengers of disinformation have been exposed once and for all as the frauds and scammers that they are. Now we have to stay on them.

If anyone has the time, please consider reaching out to the news media to warn them about the latest scam.

Here is a website with contact info for major news media:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=111

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"both sides don't do what Breitbart and Fox do on a regular basis."

one example - Fox pundits publicized/advertised Tea Bag events continually. did any one see MSNBC (Keith or Rachel) do the same for Move.On or United for Peace and Justice events?

Posted by: jeeze56 | July 28, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Kurtz already stated that it was wrong to blame fox news for this mistake.

This is another example of the left wing media coming together to create a common story line. Its another one of Ezra's cronies pushing the same idea in the hopes that if enough people demonize fox news, they can ignore the conservative viewpoints that they dislike so much.

Posted by: Natstural | July 28, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Still waiting on the big media story about the bogus Alvin Greene video posted on WaPo and elsewhere that didn't paint him in a flattering light. Video posted within a week following the Sherrod video episode. The video wasn't vetted and was an edited videotape.

Posted by: jcannes76 | July 28, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

In the last few days, the media has been questioning the uproar in illegal immigration. Under the current administration, illegal immigration is down and more illegal immigrants have been deported than under the previous administration.
I don't find this situation hopeful because the same organizations have been running with erroneous stories to gin up ratings. It's a little late to say, whoops guess what, this administration is doing a pretty good job with immigration.
Ratings are king.

Posted by: Judy_L | July 28, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@benintn

"The trick of it is this: The right-wing media can not only lie, but they can badger the MSM by saying, 'Why isn't the liberal media covering our lie?!'"

Oh, I'd be perfectly fine if the MSM spent lots of time covering conservatives' lies...as long as they were making the story about the fact that it's a lie and the motivations behind the person who is lying.

If the MSM spent the same amount of effort debunking and revealing those behind the "Death Panel" smear (rather than simply talking about the "debate")...the public would be better informed, those who make a living off lying would be discredited, and the MSM would probably still get the page views generated from the "controversy".

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 28, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@Natstural:

Unfortunately, Howard Kurtz didn't do very thorough research before writing the column that you reference. The main point of his column was premised on the fact that the Fox News television network didn't cover the story until after Shirley Sherrod was fired. Kurtz overlooked the fact that the Fox News website promoted the story almost immediately after it was posted by Breitbart (well before Sherrod was fired).

I'm still waiting for a correction/clarification from Kurtz, but I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: QuiteAlarmed | July 28, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you wont be getting one because he isn't wrong. The main culprits in the NAACP fiasco were the NAACP and the white house. They ran from a possible story instead of investigating it first. The only people who had access to the complete video was the NAACP and probably Breitbart. The NAACP has no excuse for not checking the story when they had the full video. Its laziness on their part, and just playing to their base to cover their on butts. They messed up, not Fox. Now they are just playing to their base.

Also, if the NAACP hadn't tried to paint a large group as all racist, when its only a few of their members, this never would have happened. Are all anti-war protesters American hating communist? Of course not, but ANSWER definitely is associated with some anti-American groups and the left didn't feel the need to boycott their protests.

Posted by: Natstural | July 28, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

schrodingerscat: "It's pretty safe to say that you've jumped the shark when you've lost Halperin."

My thoughts exactly. I've notice a change in Halperin over the last several months. Wasn't sure what to attribute it to, but I guess it doesn't matter.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

OT:

Tea Party Coalition: Bachmann's Support For Blunt "An Abomination"

KMBC's Micheal Mahoney: "More that two dozen Missouri TEA parties say a bid by US Senate candidate to capitalize on their movement has 'shocked' them...'Roy Blunt voted for TARP and Cash for Clunkers. For Michele Bachmann to come to Missouri and give the impression that all the Missouri Tea Parties support Roy Blunt is an abomination of everything we have been standing up for,' said Jedidiah Smith, a Tea Party leader in Franklin County, Missouri."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/politics/blog-network/2010/07/tea_party_coalition_bachmanns.html

From the Tea Party's press release:

Franklin County Patriots: "Roy Blunt, like other RINOs, wants to be associated with the Tea Parties for his own political advantage. However, his record of voting for Cash for Clunkers, the TARP bailout, No Child Left Behind and other unconstitutional legislation does not reflect the conservative values of Tea Party Patriots. In addition, Roy Blunt’s association with Washington D.C. lobbyists has earned him a reputation of being one the largest recipients of lobbyist support, including Fannie and Freddie."

"In God We Trust PAC has not endorsed and would never endorse Roy Blunt for the U.S. Senate. Roy Blunt does not stand for the conservative values and principles the Tea Party movement represents. He is a career politician and Washington insider who has sold out his constituents for special interest money. Roy Blunt is, in fact, what we are endeavoring to "purge" out of Washington."

Full release here (PDF):

http://www.franklincountypatriots.org/download/teapartypr.pdf

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

I've been beating this drum for a while now. But it continues right along the path I keep saying it will. More seeds being planted at the coming (if the GOP wins back the House) attempt to impeach Pres. Obama, on the issue of "securing our borders".

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/bachmann-impeach-obama-thats-up-to-congress.php?ref=fpi

"...said Bachmann. 'Whether or not [not securing the borders] is an impeachable offense is one that the Congress would have to make a determination on. But I think clearly the president isn't acting out of the best interests of what would be good for people's safety and good for our economy.'"

Again I'll note the complete nonsensical aspect of this. The idea that "not securing our borders" is an impeachable offense makes no logical sense. First off, what's the measure for "secure", and second, they'd be saying every President so far should have been impeached.

No, this just using impeachment as a political weapon. It's a way for them to attack Pres. Obama 24/7, try to discredit him, stall any legislation he supports, and drag his numbers down in the hopes of winning in 2012.

I've been harping on this for months now, and the evidence just keeps piling up...

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 28, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out, Chuck Todd clarifies his criticism of Journolist:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/07/chuck_todd_clarifies_his_criti.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 28, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Natstural, The main culprit was Breitbart. He's doctored tapes before and he'll doctor tapes again. He has taken things out of context before and he'll do it again. Gee he's forgotten that Bush was president during 2001-2008.
Fox news has become the channel of scary brown people. Have they mentioned the accomplishments with immigration?

Posted by: Judy_L | July 28, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Btw, side note:

"Roy Blunt does not stand for the conservative values and principles the Tea Party movement represents"

I thought the Tea Party was for everyone? Liberals included... Now they're just for "conservative values"? Um, okayyyy.

That's all I had to say... You (TP/Blunt) may resume shredding each other to tiny bits.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"Also, if the NAACP hadn't tried to paint a large group as all racist, when its only a few of their members, this never would have happened."

Shorter Natstural: if she would just keep her mouth shut, officer, I wouldn't have to smack her around.

You need to check your sources. The NAACP did not paint the tea baggers as "all racists" - even Fox News admits that:

"The NAACP adopted a resolution Tuesday condemning "racist elements" in the Tea Party movement"

I understand that reading comprehension is not high on the list of skills for most of you on the right, but "elements" does not equate to "all".

Posted by: schrodingerscat | July 28, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for this good report.

Posted by: TomP4 | July 28, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@Natstural:

Things would be different if Howard Kurtz had only expressed your opinion, which appears to be that the Administration is responsible for the firing, regardless of how extensively Fox promoted the false story.

That wasn't, however, what Kurtz wrote in his column. Kurtz opined that Fox wasn't responsible because it didn't report the story until after Sherrod was already fired. In that, Kurtz is factually wrong, and he ought to correct his mistake.

Posted by: QuiteAlarmed | July 28, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the discussion above about Howard Kurtz's assessment of Fox's reporting, I don't think Kurtz's point was that Fox did a good or even acceptable job reporting the story...just that their reporting was not the "cause" of Sherrod being fired (the administration was responsible for firing her and assuming the Breitbart video could be trusted as credible). As far as Fox, the O'Reilly show called for her to be fired based on their viewing the Breitbart tape -- at the time they taped the show they did not know that she had already been fired so they can't use the excuse Gingrich used that they would not have aired the show or rushed to judgment had the administration not "vouched" for the tape by firing her first. As to the Halperin article, he seems to be focused more the susceptibility of the "old" media to the right-wing new media than on any comparison between liberal vs conservative new media. While I tend to agree with Greg that the approaches and tactics of the right and left aren't the same -- the rap on liberals is that they're tortured and less cunning (even Halperin says: "Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible"), I wonder whether the story out of Alaska about Palin being Trig's mother which was jumped on by some bloggers (but ignored by "old" media) is a comparable greivance. While I don't think the left doctored the facts the way Breitbart did and it's probably true that many stayed away from the story, it wasn't a shining moment.

Posted by: wswest | July 28, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Is this Halperin the same conservative pundits who constantly finds fault with everything President Obama does? The lock step pundits who printed 14 steps in a magazine, outlining how how they could beat president candidate Barack Obama. Why he even encouraged Hillary to play the race card! His idea od running a campaign was to go completely negative, Swift Boat for Truth style. Of course, as we see, his ill conceived advice did not help either candidate win the presidency.

How anyone can take seriously what this Stepford pundit says, puzzles me. Halperin, indeed. He should know how low the conservative media will sink. He's part and parcel of the same fact challenged media.

Posted by: sipeppy | July 29, 2010 5:23 AM | Report abuse

"MSNBC and left leaning new media outlets, while ideologically motivated in some ways, just don't employ the tactics of political operatives and oppo researchers in the manner that Breitbart and Fox figures do. They don't push info solely for political impact with no effort whatsoever to determine accuracy, context, fairness and truth."

BS. What about Keith Olbermann and Dick Cheney's secret assassination squads? Have you forgotten about CBS's 48 Hours running the Bush AWOL Memo story when they knew they had a forgery?

This post needs an update for accuracy (and honesty).

Posted by: brianrw00 | July 29, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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