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Politico: Yes, Palin degrades our discourse, but she drives traffic

A striking admission by Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei in their big piece today on the new media reality:

At POLITICO, we have an unusual vantage point on this new reality. We are both an enabler (in the eyes of some critics) of the deterioration of political discourse, and a target of it (as we try to defend our values as neutral journalists amid constant criticism from activists who think we fail at neutrality or are disdainful of the goal in the first place).

There is some truth on both counts. Like all news sites, we are aware that conflict clicks. More traffic comes from an item on Sarah Palin's "refudiation" faux pas than from our hundreds of stories on the complexities of health care reform or Wall Street regulation.

This is actually an important concession: Frivolous items about Sarah Palin do degrade our discourse, but we need to do them, because the simple fact is that people click on them in droves.

In fairness to Politico, this is obviously a calculation that many news orgs have made. And more broadly, we're all trying to figure out how to continue the quest for worthy content in a depressing new reality where Palin's unsightly pratfalls and Tea Party craziness drive traffic like nothing else. At least VandeHarris are being up front about the motives at play here.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 23, 2010; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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Next: Politico editor defends puffing up Breitbart

Comments

William Saletan at Slate is doing his journalistic job by actually LISTENING TO the audience reaction on the Sherrod tape. He makes the case that Breitbart is as wrong in vilifying the NAACP audience as he was in vilifying Sherrod. Will post in parts.
Part 1:The key section starts around 16 minutes in. I'll quote the speech and describe the reactions from the audience, to the extent I can discern them. You can check my version by listening to the audio as you follow along. Here's Sherrod:

When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people, and to black people only. [Pause. Silence.] But, you know, God will show you things, and He'll put things in your path so that—that you realize that the struggle [Audience: Alright] is really about poor people. [Audience: Alright, alright.]

Racial appeal met with silence; non-racial appeal met with approval. Sherrod's next words:

You know, the first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he—he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. [Audience: Alright. Murmurs.] I know what he was doing. [Audience: Alright.] But he had come to me for help. [Audience: Amen.] What he didn't know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him. [Laughter.]

The audience seems sympathetic to Sherrod's resentment of the farmer's arrogance, as she perceived it. How should we interpret the laughter? Is it laughter at her power to withhold help from a white man? Or is it laughter at her power to withhold help from a guy with an attitude? The evidence so far suggests the latter: The audience has embraced an appeal for "poor people," shunned an appeal for "black people only," and given Sherrod her only Amen when she noted that despite the farmer's attitude, "he had come to me for help." But let's keep listening.

Posted by: jandmward | July 23, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The Big Fat Pillbilly is Mad at the Fox Cable News Network, because they did not stay steadfastly racist enough, in their coverage of the Breibart Doctored Video clip.


"(CNN) – Rush Limbaugh said Thursday on his radio show that Fox News and at least one of its anchors "caved" in its coverage of Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA employee who was fired in haste on Monday after an edited clip of her was posted on a conservative website.

"I have to go after it … because even Fox caved on this," Limbaugh said. "Even Shep Smith. Even poor old Shep Smith went down there and said that everybody's wrong on this, that [BigGovernment.com founder Andrew] Breitbart is wrong and so forth. There's only a handful of us that have the guts to put this story straight. If we don't hammer back nobody will.""

Posted by: Liam-still | July 23, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

part 2: I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. [Audience: Mm-hm.] So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do. [Sherrod smiles and pauses. There's a single staccato noise somewhere in the room. No words, no laughter.] I did enough so that when he—I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him. [Pause. Silence.]

This time, Sherrod has mentioned only the farmer's race, not his attitude. She delivers the crucial line—"So, I didn't give him the full force of what I could do"—with a smile and a wry tone that invites any racist to laugh or blurt out approval. But she gets nothing. I had to listen to this clip more than a dozen times before I realized that the "applause" Breitbart describes could only be the staccato noise. To interpret this as applause, you would have to believe that a single person, representing an otherwise silent audience, suddenly decided to change the congregation's language of affirmation from call-and-response to clapping—and just as suddenly, after a single stroke, decided to stop.

As Sherrod renounces her old attitude, the audience comes alive:

Well, working with him made me see [Audience: Mm-hm] that it's really about those who have versus those who don't [Audience: That's right, that's right], you know. And they could be black, and they could be white; they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people—those who don't have access [Audience: Mm-hm] the way others have [Audience: Mm-hm].

Posted by: jandmward | July 23, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Part 3, and end of Mr. Saletan's refutation of Breitbart:So, let's review the Breitbart gang's allegations:

When … she expresses a discriminatory attitude towards white people, the audience responds with applause. False.
The NAACP … is cheering on a person describing a white person as the other. False.
The NAACP audience seemed to have approved of her actions when she talked about not helping the white farmer. False.
They weren't cheering redemption; they were cheering discrimination. False.
As Ms. Sherrod recounted the first part of her parable, how she declined to do everything she could for the farmer because of his race, the audience responded in approval. False.

First Breitbart and his acolytes falsely accused Sherrod of discriminating against whites as a federal employee, despite having no evidence for this charge in the original video excerpt. Strike one.

Then they misrepresented Sherrod's story as an embrace of racism, when in fact she was repudiating racism. They later pleaded ignorance of this fact because they didn't have the full video. Strike two.

Now, with the full video in hand and posted on their Web site, they're lying about the reaction of the NAACP audience.

The excuses are all used up, Mr. Breitbart.

Posted by: jandmward | July 23, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@Greg

Politico also tossed out a puff peice on Breitbart, calling him one of the nations top "scenemakers". Bunch of love through his way in this one.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/40060_Page2.html

Seriously, I understand the personal friendship you may have with Ben Smith...but that place is a freakin' joke. He's obviously not able to change the culture of the organization from the position he's in. If Ben really wanted to be a journalist, he'd leave that rag and get a real job. As his friend, I really hope you tell him so - that's what friends are for.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 23, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

BP(British Petroleum) Are still up to their old tricks, to keep the truth from coming out.

Thank heaven that President Obama made them set aside that 20 Billion, to help cover the compensation and recovery costs. BP were, and always will be, a just a pack of reckless, and deceitful weasels.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10731408

"BP accused of 'buying academic silence'
By Robyn Bresnahan BBC News
Bob Shipp Bob Shipp said BP wanted to hire his entire marine science department

The head of the American Association of Professors has accused BP of trying to "buy" the best scientists and academics to help its defence against litigation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way," said Cary Nelson.

BP faces more than 300 lawsuits so far.

In a statement, BP says it has hired more than a dozen national and local scientists "with expertise in the resources of the Gulf of Mexico".

The BBC has obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It says that scientists cannot publish the research they do for BP or speak about the data for at least three years, or until the government gives the final approval to the company's restoration plan for the whole of the Gulf.
US Oil Spill

It also states scientists may perform research for other agencies as long as it does not conflict with the work they are doing for BP.

And it adds that scientists must take instructions from lawyers offering the contracts and other in-house counsel at BP.

Bob Shipp, the head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama, was one of the scientists approached by BP's lawyers.

They didn't just want him, they wanted his whole department.

"They contacted me and said we would like to have your department interact to develop the best restoration plan possible after this oil spill," he said.

Russ Lea from the University of South Alabama: Some clauses in the contract "were very disturbing".

"We laid the ground rules - that any research we did, we would have to take total control of the data, transparency and the freedom to make those data available to other scientists and subject to peer review. They left and we never heard back from them."

What Mr Nelson is concerned about is BP's control over scientific research.

"Our ability to evaluate the disaster and write public policy and make decisions about it as a country can be impacted by the silence of the research scientists who are looking at conditions," he said.

"It's hugely destructive. I mean at some level, this is really BP versus the people of the United States."

Posted by: Liam-still | July 23, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey BBQ -- I saw that Breitbart thing, and it occurs to me there's a relationship between it and what I posted above. :)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

And where are these "hundreds of stories on the complexities of health care reform or Wall Street regulation"? And stories that say, Oh Noes! the story is too hard and complex for us! don't count.

Posted by: Nellcote | July 23, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

jandmward, very nice work and thanks. That was the impression I had as well but didn't take the time to dissect it so thoroughly.

Greg, it's actually sort of refreshing to see politico state the obvious. It happens here as well. The Palin and racist stories get the most hits is my impression. I remember trying to boycott all Palin stories but it was a lost cause.

I occasionally lurk at Palin's facebook page to read the comments, they're interesting from a psychological standpoint to me. Anyway, her posts about racism (NAACP) and the recent one regarding the mosque near the 9/11 site got thousands of more responses than any others.

Human nature I guess, racism and train wrecks.

Posted by: lmsinca | July 23, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Back to climate change/energy:

Joe Romm at www.climateprogress.org, unloads on senior Obama advisers Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod in a lengthy post headlined: “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 1.” Romm’s post is made all the heftier by lengthy excerpts from a Rolling Stone broadside by Tim Dickinson, “Climate Bill, R.I.P.” that blames the president for not “taking the fight to big polluters.” Administration officials, meanwhile, let it be known (on background, please) that the fault lies with the Green lobby, which botched the assignment of finding a Republican – any Republican – to support creation of a system that capped carbon emissions, and required companies to buy permits to pollute that they could then trade on a carbon market. “They didn’t deliver a single vote,” one official said."

The White House is complaining that the Green Energy lobby didn't deliver a GOP vote? Unbelievably pathetic. Do these guys even understand how the presidency works? No We Can't.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 23, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

jandmward... perhaps Sherrod's perceptions were biased. What did the "White" farmer say to her that made her conclude he was showing his superiority?

What you fail to comprehend is Sherrod was working for a government agency. As such she was supposed to treat all those who needed assistance EQUALLY... she was NOT hired to only deal fairly with Black farmers.

Her failed teachable moment was based on her own bias and prejudice (not excusable because of her father's death at the hands of white killers).

Posted by: Hazmat77 | July 23, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

WSJ link for the quote:

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/07/23/no-cap-and-trade-form-circle-start-firing/

Posted by: wbgonne | July 23, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I understand now, why our African President and his African Attorney General, let those African Black Panthers off the hook. Because they're all the "SAME KIND".
Now, quick, log on to your little Lib JournoList site, and find out what the PLAN is.
Idiot.

Posted by: GoomyGommy | July 23, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Greg .... Palin's use of "refudiation" instead of repudiation is hardly a degradation of our discourse.

Any more so than was President's twice uttered "corpseman" instead of corpsman!

Why aren't Obama's MANY mistaken utterances the butt of the media's jokes?

You leftist media weanies are becomming more of a joke with each passing day!

Posted by: Hazmat77 | July 23, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Here is the clear reason why all Deep Water Oil Drilling has to be banned for ever.

Regardless of how many rules and regulations you put in place, to make sure that drilling will be done safely, and will not ever again cause massive oil spills, you can never find a way to prevent this type of idiotic behavior, in the day to day operations on any platform.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/23/AR2010072302515_pf.html


"Technician: Deepwater Horizon warning system disabled

By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 2010; 10:56 AM

KENNER, LA. -- Long before an eruption of gas turned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig into a fireball, an alarm system designed to alert the crew and prevent combustible gases from reaching potential sources of ignition had been deliberately disabled, the former chief electronics technician on the rig testified Friday.

Michael Williams said he understood that the rig had been operating with the system in "inhibited" mode for a year to prevent false alarms from disturbing the crew.

Williams said the explanation he got was that the leadership of the rig did not want crew members needlessly awakened in the middle of the night.

The ex-Marine, who survived the April 20 conflagration by jumping from the burning rig, was addressing a federal panel probing the disaster.

If the safety system was disabled, it would not have been a unique event. Records of federal enforcement actions reviewed by The Washington Post show that, in case after case, rig operators paid fines for allegedly bypassing safety systems that could impede routine operations. "


Posted by: Liam-still | July 23, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Greg .... Palin's use of "refudiation" instead of repudiation is hardly a degradation of our discourse.

Any more so than was President Obama's twice uttered "corpseman" instead of corpsman!

Or when he said he'd already been to 57 of the states - during the campaign!

Why aren't Obama's MANY mistaken utterances the butt of the media's jokes?

You leftist media weanies are becomming more of a joke with each passing day!

Posted by: Hazmat77 | July 23, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Politico should just start posting videos of women in heels stepping on hamsters. That would drive up clicks too.

Breitbart could post videos heavily edited to fake that the women were doing this in ACORN offices.

Posted by: sanity_check | July 23, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

hazmat77: "What you fail to comprehend is Sherrod was working for a government agency."

What you fail to understand is that NO SHE WASN'T. At the time of the incident she was describing in her speech, she was working for a non-profit organization.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 23, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Sue. All, I got comment from Politico on their treatment of Breitbart today. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Any Idiot who starts his comments with "The Failed Presidency Of President Obama" is clearly as thick as a brick.

Eighteen months into his term, and having already passed more Major Legislation than most Presidents have done, during a full two terms, President Obama has already established a strong legacy. Something Bill Clinton never did accomplish, even though he served two full terms.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 23, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of internet news fail, Huffington Post has blatantly ignored everything to do with who started this mess, Breitbart and focused solely on protecting him.

It's obvious he's still got influence there and its apparent from those commenting Arianna Huffington is protecting him in this episode.

I wonder how the rest of the pawns that have been hired on over there feel about covering for Breitbart.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 23, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Hazmat: Do you know anything at all about the track record of federal agencies in the South helping or not helping black people? Have you ever heard of the billion-dollar settlement with the USDA over withholding of loans and assistance from non-whites? Do you know the history of the farming commune that the Sherrods helped found that eventually went under because of lack of help from federal and state agencies and the banks? Did you know she had also sued the USDA for discrinibnation and received a large settlement? That she had actually, personally, been on the receiving end of discriminatory lack of help from federal agencies? She knows whereof she speaks; I'd venture to guess your p[ersonal expoerience is a little more limited.

Why is it that you expect Ms Sherrod to maintain a standard that white employees did not maintain still in 1986? And as I understand it, in 1986 she was not a federal employee.

Posted by: Mimikatz | July 23, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

It's nice to hear VandeHarris admit that they are the political equivalent of Larry Flint.

But does anyone care?

They obviously don't.

Will there be ANY accountability for the "deterioration of political discourse"?

CAN there be?

That we even have to ask shows that the political discourse is not the only thing that is deteriorating. Our COUNTRY is deteriorating because of the right wing and their policies of the last decade or more, including but not limited to a total disregard for facts and reality. The pitiful post at 11:23 is a perfect example.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 23, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

If they are just looking for more traffic why not post some provocative pictures of Megan Fox? The ultimate win-win-win; traffic increases, ad fees increase, and quality of political discourse preserved.

How do I collect my consulting fee?

Posted by: AdamantiumBeta | July 23, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Hi lmsinca...thx for the welcome back the other day. As far as our beaches here and the tourism effect in Florida...it's a mixed bag...immediate business is actually good in Pinellas County and many other Florida coastal counties(BTW this is an area where I hzven't read about much credit for the Prez but we here in Florida appreciate Michelle walking our beaches and inviting everyone down to vacation and help us out...as well as the Obama's planned vacation on the Florida beaches next month this seems to be helping in the short term...the struggle is with conventions which usually book a year out and involve large sums of money and so organizers are understandably reluctant to book Florida hotels for 2011 until they see how the spill plays out.

Back OT. Yes lmsinca

"Human nature I guess, racism and train wrecks."

And that's what saddens me so about Faux news. It's not the bullies and charletons like Beck and Bill O and Hannity who milk the dark side of human nature for their own personal gain...what disturbs me most is the audience. How sad. At what point will they not demand even a modicum of accountability from "fair and balanced" Fox?

Rachel Maddow did an excellent takedown of the bully Bill O last night in response to blustery remarks he made the night before.
As always whenever BillO is challenged FACTUALLY he distracts with the ratings game and points out how Fox kicks MSNBC's butt everynight...what swagger..if they ever cast for a movie about the life of Mussolini Bill O's the man, he has the swagger and arrogance down pat....

Maddow conceded Bill O's ratings success while playfully reminding him that they BOTH get their butts kicked by such stalwarts as WWE Wrestling...Spongebob...the scary fishing show....but as Rachel concluded what Fox and their viewers miss in all of these discussions is what is IMPORTANT. Bill O fires away about the ratings...Rachel's response on what she considers important...FACTS!

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 23, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Hazmat--
Gee, I don't what the white farmer initially said or did to her 24 years ago--they went on to work amicably and productively and have been friends ever since. He says this whole thing is wrong, she couldn't have helped him more.

You tell me that what I fail to comprehend is that Sherrod was working for a government agency. I guess you don't know that she wasn't working for a government agency when she helped the Spooners. It was a private group--and whatever crossed her mind or his mind initially was of no matter, the whole thing was handled well, actually in an inspiring manner.

See, this is what Breitbart has caused. The story is now hopelessly skewed in millions of minds. Sherrod's name will never be fully cleansed of the mud Breitbart threw.

Posted by: jandmward | July 23, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Well said jandmward! Perhaps that's why fans of this kind of crap and scum use names like hazmat...at least credit should be given for being up front and honest.

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 23, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse


Speaking of internet news fail, Huffington Post has blatantly ignored everything to do with who started this mess, Breitbart and focused solely on protecting him.

It's obvious he's still got influence there and its apparent from those commenting Arianna Huffington is protecting him in this episode.

I wonder how the rest of the pawns that have been hired on over there feel about covering for Breitbart.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 23, 2010 11:34 AM

......................

I have never put any stock in what Arianna has been up to.

She is one of those opportunistic political windsocks, who will shift with the winds.

She started out as a staunch conservative. She married a very wealthy guy, and had plans to become FLOTUS.

When her rich husband lost his bid to become a US Senator, as a stepping stone toward running for President, Arianna dropped him, like a bad habit. It came out soon after that the guy was gay.

Next up; Arianna decides that she better run for office, herself, since she no longer could ride her husband's political coattails. So she ran as an Independent, for Governor of California ,in the recall special election. Remember her making a fool of herself, when she stepped in front of Arnold and his wife, when they were holding a televised outdoor event?

She got her opportunist arse kicked in that election.

Soon after; Arianna reemerged as Fanatical Liberal.

She is now going to through another metamorphosis, and will probably emerge as the new champion of all those poor neglected TeaBaggers.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 23, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

@AdamantiumBeta

Amusing post but actually not far from what already exists. HuffPo has already tapped into your naked Megan Fox pics with entire sections devoted to such fare...not that I would ever click over there...and of course Faux News is right on board with their own Megyn...Megyn Kelly. As much as I'm repulsed by her total lack of integrity I cannot tell a lie...she is HOT! And so for the crowd that thinks with the wrong part of their anatomy Rupert has found programming gold. It's obvious given all the mind numbing FACTUAL errors and obvious slanted innuendo on Kelly's program her audience cannot be thinking with their brains.

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 23, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Just as I suspected.

Remember how I complained about Netroots self promo fail and wondered if C-SPAN would cover it like it covered CPAC and also covers other conservative gatherings?

Well, no surprise it's not on any of the CSPAN internet stations or on the radio.

Will it be?

Does anyone really know about it?

Didn't see CNN talking about it. Not too much on MSNBC. Guaranteed Fox didn't mention it. I only saw an article or two on ThinkProgress, maybe one on TPM, not much on here. Huffington Post finally mentioned it today with a live feed.

Do liberals and progressives have any interest in promoting their ideas or is it supposed to remain some super sekret cool clique thingy nobody really knows about?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 23, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

"All, I got comment from Politico on their treatment of Breitbart today. Stay tuned."

You = Awesome

Just sayin'...

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 23, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

All, check out Politico's defense of puffing up Breitbart today:

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

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 23, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Earlier this week I called Mr Sargent a snob. I was right then and I thank Mr Sargent for proving my point so eloquently today.

What other conclusion could one draw from this:
" And more broadly, we're all trying to figure out how to continue the quest for worthy content in a depressing new reality where Palin's unsightly pratfalls and Tea Party craziness drive traffic like nothing else. "

What Mr Sargent simply cannot imagine is ordinary Americans reacting to the doings in DC. Apparently only a select few have the right to express their concern. And they must express that concern in a manner that Mr Sargent & Co find acceptable.

Is it all inside baseball Mr Sargent or can ordinary Americans foster a faint hope that this is still a democracy of sorts?

This has been a great week for conservatives. The entire gambit that is cherished by the left has been exposed. The exploitation of the race card coupled with the co ordniation of the journolist proves beyond doubt that we're being slandered maliciously.

And in response, all Mr Sargent has is more snobbery. Welcome to the two Americas, the liberals with their media elites and the rubes.

Power to the rubes, right on.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 23, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Soap Opera Sarah is the one who frivolous.

In today's episode, God himself guest stars and tells Sarah to deport all the Iranians from Alaska. He forgot she resigned as Governor before completing her term so it's not all that easy for her, but with the help of her wacky friends and their Northern white supremacist antics, they beat a few up anyway.

Posted by: areyousaying | July 23, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

In yesterday's episode, Levi inadvertently grabs one of Todd's old Alaska Independence Party t-shirts to wear while washing the mini-van. Sarah's evil liberal neighbor then sells the telephoto lens shot to Huffington Post and Playgirl.

Posted by: areyousaying | July 23, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

This clickthrough problem is precisely why I refuse to click through. When it comes to an idiotic story like Palin's pseudo-spoonerism, I know that there is no additional nuance to be gleaned by reading the full piece, so I'm perfectly satisfied to read a summary posted on another site.

If more people would supress the need to click through, the traffic would die down and might (unlikely, I know) discourage outlets like Politico from wasting bytes on that kind of crap.

Posted by: jamois | July 23, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Greg,
Whether they admit it or not, it's obvious that they and the others are doing these trivial stories to drive traffic. And you said you think these types of stories are necessary. But there are way too many of them. These outfits need to do a better job reporting substantive content even if it means a little less traffic.

Posted by: wswest | July 23, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Well duh....the number 1 goal of media is profits. Actual journalism is somewhere down the line. We all know that.

And I don't blame the journalists or bloggers themselves, but whomever is directing the staff toward sensationalism instead of truth.

Posted by: SDJeff | July 23, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Pretty obviously, few people think that Politico has much of interest to say on health care policy or other substantive matters. I don't think that Ezra Klein would make the complaint that few people click on his health care policy posts.

On the other hand, Plum Line and everyone else around the beltway send mucho click traffic their way whenever they put up a Palin post.


So quit wringing your hands, Greg, you are just as bad as they are when it comes to Palin. Every time they put up an piece on an outrageous Palin Facebook entry, you, and your commenters, are among the first to mount your outrage pony and ride. Ever wonder how much traffic you send Politico's way? Harris probably has that data.

Posted by: TomBlue | July 23, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What Politico fails to understand is that the reason they get locks of clicks on their Palin fluff while getting relatively few clicks on any stories about healthcare reform and Wall Street regulation is this....

Politico has not established a good reputation for solid analysis and reporting. They have managed to become one of the best internet places for "light" pieces and political gossip.

Despite what they may believe about themselves and their journalistic integrity, I know that when I want indepth reporting on important issues, I don't go to Politico. In fact, it never even crosses my mind.

Posted by: elscott | July 23, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"Umm, news flash: Politico has never made any secret of the fact that they gleefully trade in anything that drives traffic through their site, regardless of how purile or preposterous, speculative or thinly sourced. If it bleeds it ledes. That's their entire business model.

And you know what? It just got them yet another link from the Plum Line.

Posted by: CalD | July 23, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I meant *puerile*.

Posted by: CalD | July 23, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

No wonder we can't talk or understand what is going on around us, we have stopped using the same language many of us know. Words now have different meanings.

The verb in the headline is incorrect!

Palin doesn't "drive" traffic she "attracts" it in the same way that people slow to stare at a car wreck, or dung attracts flies.

Palin didn't "drive" me here I came here to make this point.

Posted by: Prakosh | July 23, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Following a bimbo idiot Sarah Palin is a waste of print and time. Sarah knows nothing and says stupid things while her daughter runs while. Mr. Koch must be paying alot of money to keep the press and media reporting on loony tune Sarah.

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | July 23, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: elscott "What Politico fails to understand"

Wow, I can't believe you are so gullible. Do you really think that Politico has ambitions toward quality reporting? What a joke.

Posted by: Prakosh 'Palin doesn't "drive" traffic' Sure she does. Dude you did NOT click on this page by accident. They put her name on the headline and you clicked on it, just like a moth to a flame, and with probably the same level of thought.

Posted by: frantaylor | July 23, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Hazmat77 wrote:

perhaps Sherrod's perceptions were biased. What did the "White" farmer say to her that made her conclude he was showing his superiority?

HIS WIFE ADMITTED AS MUCH, SAYING THAT "THAT IS JUST HIS WAY".

What you fail to comprehend is Sherrod was working for a government agency. As such she was supposed to treat all those who needed assistance EQUALLY... she was NOT hired to only deal fairly with Black farmers.

SHE WAS NOT WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME. IT WAS A NON-PROFIT AGENCY SET UP SPECIFICALLY TO HELP BLACK FARMERS WHO COULD RECEIVE NO SUCH HELP FROM THE USDA.

Posted by: hoos3014 | July 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow, frantaylor, in the interest of polite discourse, I am trying very hard to resist the temptation to tell you that I can't believe you are so rude.

But perhaps your problem isn't rudeness, but simply a matter of reading comprehension.

Of course I don't think that Politico has ambitions toward quality reporting. But they certainly claim to. That was the whole point of my original post. I don't even read Politico because I don't especially care for political gossip.

Greg quotes Politico as purporting that no one clicks on their "hundreds" of "substantive" stories because they are so busy rushing to the Palin stories.

Before you go around accusing people of being gullible, why don't you carefully read what was actually written?

I don't even read Politico because I don't especially care for political gossip.

Posted by: elscott | July 23, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, am sick of Sarah Palin and her family. In a saner media world they would not be news.

Perhaps if porn were socially acceptable, Sarah and Co. would go to their justly-earned oblivion. That's what she takes the place of to people who flinch when they see sex or a nude body.

Posted by: carlianschwartz | July 23, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

...and Breitbart's special form of viciousness is pure catnip to those who would use lynching videos or Holocaust documentaries as erotica, feeling they should have the fat of the land (not to mention stealing what others--minorities--rightly try to earn on their own) while doing nothing.

Hate is big business here in the U.S.--almost as big as porn. It should be classified as a far guiltier pleasure--in line with narcotics. Instead, it is encouraged by those who should know better and those who will eventually reap what they've sowed.

Posted by: carlianschwartz | July 23, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

"as we try to defend our values as neutral journalists" BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA - stop it, you're killing me!

Posted by: fayettebill | July 23, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

carlianschwartz bleated:

"I, for one, am sick of Sarah Palin and her family. In a saner media world they would not be news.

Perhaps if porn were socially acceptable, Sarah and Co. would go to their justly-earned oblivion."

Then carlianschwartz bleated, "Hate is big business here in the U.S."

carlianschwartz is both hateful and a hypocrite, but he has a lot of company on this blog.

Posted by: bobmoses | July 23, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I know this posting is overripe but I just had to ask a few questions based on Greg's comment: "but we need to do them, because the simple fact is that people click on them in droves."

Question 1: Do you write about Palin for the click traffic as you seem to state here?

Question 2: Are there other items you post about for the click traffic? If so, what are they?

Question 3: If the answer to question 2 is yes, is that decision (to post about a topic merely for click traffic) made by you or your editors?

Question 4: Are there posts that you are not allowed to write about becuase they may effect click traffic negatively?

Thank you in advance

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | July 23, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

This shows just how sad we become a media instead of real news with real reporters. To much college not enough common sense and journalistic pride and ethics.

Palin? Why not Madonna, Lady GaGa, Tiffany Spears, and others media rating stars. All media darlings so why don't they hold press conference, made ignorant statements, smear others, make hateful statements and just show how uninformed they are and their audience would not care either.

And oh yeah make a ton of money quickly. All of this while hurting the political process, lower the standards of elected officials and there competence.

She unqualified to be in office, she is good for reality TV, like the rest of her dysfunctional family and soon to be son-in-law.

We have a country for 10 years that went down the tubes, yet instead of having real reporters during those 10 years or so, we had people more concerned with ratings than being reporters.

Who's hot today, who's being outrages. The Tea Party is another creation of being important again promoted by the media.

They have 3,000 at a rally and you would think on FOX there was millions, yet who calls them on it and why do we the people except this level of political porn.

Yes we have a threat and the threat is ourselves and what we have done with free speech, ethics, and professional reporters to a large extent..all for 24/7 news.

It also happened in sports, "The Decision"

I don't blame the players, Palin included, she just taking what been handed to her, knows to be dumb and say outrages things and that will get her media attention and make her even more money.

For that is wrong, you think reporters would have spent this energy to do their job on both wars, wall-street, and other issues that good investigating reporting might of help reveal before the crap hit the fan.

Oh yeah that hard to do when most media is owned by major corporations.

We have major issues. Why do good back to serious news and let entertainment section cover Palin and others like her.

Posted by: pjaud | July 23, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is the only woman that can drive the news these days because of her anti-abortion, pro America, small government stance.If she was pro-abortion, anti-american, big government, she would be a nobody.

Posted by: sodakhic | July 23, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Prakosh wrote: "No wonder we can't talk or understand what is going on around us, we have stopped using the same language many of us know. Words now have different meanings.

The verb in the headline is incorrect!

Palin doesn't 'drive' traffic she 'attracts' it in the same way that people slow to stare at a car wreck, or dung attracts flies."

But Prakosh, you are thinking only of "driving" in a physical sense. There is an abstract meaning as well, in which one factor of a complex system is said to "drive" another. For example, hunger could be said to "drive" eating (rather than "attracting" it).

For the people at the Post, the Palin article count is one factor in their operation, and the all-important traffic count is another. Here, the former factor "drives" the latter one (again, rather than "attracting" it).

Posted by: MarkFromOhio | July 23, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Keeping Palin in the headlights is tantamount to rubber-necking at the scene of a terrible, yet hillarious accident. ie. when the poultry truck hits a pig transport and all the critters are running loose.
Everyone wants to see it. Everyone can't believe what they're seeing. And, everyone gets a good belly laugh.

Posted by: moonglowsun | July 23, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Frivolous - Palin. Was there any other kind?

You can't take anyone serious who compares themselves to a dog or a bear. One is rabid and the other will never be teachable or rational. Its just the nature of the beast.

If those are her good [points by her own description then maybe we should leave her out in the wilderness where we found her in the first place, as governor of Alaska with three ethics investigations going at once.

And that is the teabaggers' idol, a corrupt failed governor. Reminds me of Gingrich, a corrupt failed Congressman.

Posted by: BigTrees | July 23, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Yet another example that Lippmann was correct when he classified a portion of the American public as the bewildered herd, and, of course, Sarah is their queen.

This piece does however also show the media to be as opportunistic as Palin herself; she uses the media, the media uses her.

Posted by: TheghostofLennyBruce | July 23, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Politico shouldn't have a problem finding newsworthy material. About everything being done in Washington these days by the congress and Obama admin is unconstitutional. Whether you agree or disagree about what they are doing, it is full of news stories. Many in the public have long forgotten what our Founding Fathers had in mind or how they came to the republican form of government and how far afield this year's congress/admin is from that vision.

Posted by: awunsch | July 23, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

What many of us would like to see from you MSM types is truth in reporting. In other words your touting of the "Left/Right" paradigm has run its course and we see right through the deceit!! How about you start reporting the truth, that would be novel...in other words the people might just be interested in something besides corrupt beltway politics. How about reporting what real people think and not from a Globalist playbook!!

Posted by: sarasota1 | July 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I am now 76 years young and have paid attention to many governments and elections.
NEVER, but NEVER have I seen such incredibly cruel slanders as what's going on now. Fox dares to air that filth - Beck is really sick. That's not news -
So, instead of prating on how bout they offer some solutions. How bout they work with the President on SOLUTIONS. No president has ever come into office with so many disasters that he has to work on and yet, when something goes wrong it's Obama's fault.
GROW UP - THE COUNTRY IS IN PERIL

Posted by: Tonisongbird34 | July 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

God save us all.

Posted by: blazertaco | July 23, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Gee, how many people at Politico were on Journolist? Can we tell if their Sarah Palin stories are part of the plan or are they legitimate. When President Obama says "corpseman" why isn't that national news?

I used to sit and read the Washington Post and wonder how every story had the same slant and how the Democrats were never treated the same way republicans were. Now, after the events of the past week, I'm beginning to understand the group think that goes on between Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Every day it's the same take on events from the same suspects leading one to wonder how that can happen. I know I can go to work and have one take on something and fellow employees have a different one, yet the liberal media remains in sync, day in and day out.

Do us all a favor, sell Newsweak Magazine to Newsmax so we can see what a conservative weekly would look like and how it would do. I would bet any amount of money you would see more middle of the road reporting (and more honest reporting) in that magazine than is capable of being put out now.

Posted by: bflat879 | July 23, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin Degrades us all???
Sarah Palin is a Lady that did not come out of the "Elite Rulers" Circle. She is emotionally straight Common Man(woman) and is ustanding and more honest than the "Elitist" So for that start "Screw U" ... You love "elitists."
Sarah Palin, upon the mention of her name, makes Liberals of all colors and stripes turn a putrid, ghostly, pale as they huddle in abject fear of her. She's America's Lady and would do well in the White House. She's had experience in Government already. Obviously she left that first position in order to prepare for this one. She's rady and is the nbane of the DemocraticSocialist Party. They've recognised her strength and have attacked her from day one after the elections of '08. They recognise the enemy. She is great.

Posted by: jackolantyrn356 | July 24, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

We are letting an International Idiot drive our discourse. That's just freakin' perfect, isn't it? I hope this country actually gets the illiterate half-wit, half-term quitter, snow-billy, Sarah Palin, as President. We deserve her. We deserve her because we let Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and all the Tea Party undereducated, foaming-at-the-mouth, racist, illiterates dictate all discussion. We have taken "stupid" and glorified it. I, for one, won't be here for for the next 1929, but rather will watch it from a good distance. You go, grizzly mama. You and your ilk have ruined my country, and I don't know when, or if this "idiocracy" will ever recover.

Posted by: beachykeen02 | July 25, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin should "woman up" and submit herself to REAL interviews with REAL journalists, and let her freaky-flag fly. She can educate us all on her Christian "Reconstructionist" views, her TRUE family values (Trig, Track, and Bristol), her relationship with a man (who is reported to be the father of Track) prior to her marriage, of 7 months, before the birth of Track. She can tell us all about the intricacies of climate change, her view on the G-9, Nuclear Disarmament, her victory strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.

Why do you morons think she doesn't do these REAL interviews? Think about it: She couldn't find her ass with both hands, if someone held a flashlight. That's the God's Honest Truth.

Posted by: beachykeen02 | July 25, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

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