Real Media with a Real World Perspective

News Coverage With A Twist!

Focusing on a Down-to-Earth Approach

Get The Inside Scoop!

Looking at Politics through a Different Lens

Balancing Both Sides With No Biased Opinions!

Experience a Behind-the-Scenes Scoop!

Answers to the Questions You have been Asking!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Five Hosts Battle Over ‘Media Bias’ in Shutdown Coverage: ‘Are You Kidding Me?’

Here is an article from Matt Wilstein of outlining the opinions of the hosts of FoxNews program "The Five" on media bias in the government shutdown:

On day one of the government shutdown, Fox News’ The Five examined any media bias that may exist in the initial coverage, with a focus on anti-Republican, pro-Obamacare messages coming from such outlets as ABC and CBS News.
Eric Bolling cited ABC’s John Parkinson’s blog post about the “all white male” House Republican caucus and Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer’s claim that most Americans favor Obamacare as examples where the press is unfairly siding with the Democrats.
Greg Gutfeld responded by saying he did some “calculations” and “figured out the only way to balance the favorable Obamacare coverage of the last five years is for me to repeat that Obamacare sucks until 3142 AD.”
And Dana Perino summed up the mainstream media’s take on Obamacare by saying that “most of these people are employees so they have health insurance, and they think that Obamacare was a good idea and that Republicans are being ridiculous.”
For his part, Bob Beckel fought back against the notion that the media is “in the tank” for Obamacare, saying many outlets have been highly critical of the law, especially in recent weeks leading up to the October 1st launch date. Andrea Tantaros singled out that MSNBC host who had trouble signing up for the exchange on air as an unexpected instance of “fairness” from that network, but said she does see bias elsewhere.
“I think they can cover up the headlines as much as they want to or choose not to report them or fudge whatever polls they want,” Tantaros said. “But, again, I think the American public is so savvy when it comes to health care even if they never cover Obamacare again, I think people can see their premiums going up.”
“Are you kidding me?” Beckel shot back in seeming disbelief that Americans have any idea what is happening when it comes to health care in this country.
And, for the record, there was no mention of the website, where the term “government slimdown” has replaced “government shutdown” across the homepage.

Legalized pot would mean more addiction

Here is an article from Kevin Sabet, director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) and a former White House drug policy adviser, from that states legalizing marijuana would not solve the problem but instead would lead to more use of the drug:

"The war on drugs has failed" is a mantra often heard in policy and media circles these days. But not only is the phrase outdated (the 1980s called -- they want their slogan back), it is far too simplistic to describe both current drug policy and its outcomes.
The latest incarnation of this ill-advised saying can be found in a report arguing that since cannabis and heroin prices have fallen while their purity has increased, efforts to curb drug use and its supply are doomed to failure. This leads some to highlight the possibility of alternatives in the form of "regulation" (e.g., legalization) of drugs.
But a closer look at the data -- and the implications for a policy change to legalization -- should give us pause if we care about the dire consequences drug addiction has on society.
Globally, drug use has been stable over the past decade, though it is difficult to paint such a broad brush across countries and substances. But in the U.S. alone, there has been a 40% drop in cocaine use since 2006 and a 68% decrease in workplace positive cocaine tests. Overall in the U.S., all drug use has fallen by about 30% since 1979.
There are likely numerous reasons for this drop, but we can't ignore the fact that the world's top supplier of the drug -- Colombia -- has greatly improved its security situation over the same period.
With help from the United States, Colombia has managed to reduce the amount of land dedicated to coca growing by nearly two-thirds from 2000 to 2010.
Potential production of cocaine has also fallen more than 60%, though in places without such security enhancements -- namely Bolivia and Peru -- cocaine production has picked up. Still, this shows that progress is not only possible, it is happening.
As for the opiates and cannabis, trends vary widely in different regions around the world. While critics are right to say that prices have fallen while potency has risen generally, globally the picture is much more mixed (the global cultivation of poppy has actually fallen since 1997 worldwide).
In policy analysis, the key question that must follow any sentence that says "X policy is good/bad" is: "Compared to what?"
Some have offered legalization as a possible alternative. But we know from our experience with currently legal drugs -- prescription drugs (which are now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S.), alcohol and tobacco -- that legality means commercialization, normalization and wider access and availability that lead to more use and addiction.
Legalization in the United States is likely to accompany a bombardment of promotion, similar to our other three classes of legal drugs. These industries will stop at nothing to increase addiction since their bottom line relies on it. In fact, we know that 80% of the profit from addictive industries comes from the 20% of users who consume most of the volume of the substance.
According to internal documents that the government forced Big Tobacco to release during its historic court settlement, those companies are ready to pounce on the golden opportunity of drug legalization.
It is no wonder that the parent company of Phillip Morris, Altria, recently bought the domain names "" and "" If this sounds frightening, it should be.
Big Tobacco tried for decades to conceal the harms of their drug, and millions of lives were lost as a result. We are naive to think that this wouldn't happen with any other drug that is legalized.
Where does that leave us? That legalization is not a solution does not mean we have to be content with the status quo. Proven interventions such as community-based drug prevention efforts, drug treatment courts, offender re-entry programs and probation reform should be more robustly implemented and taken to scale. It is shameful that the richest country in the world can't figure out a way to make drug treatment available to all who need it, and we must stop relying on incarceration to deal with the drug problem.
Interestingly, though, according to criminologist Mark Kleiman, if all drug prisoners were released tomorrow, we would still have four times the number of people in prison than our historical incarceration rate instead of five. That tells me that the root causes of drug use, trafficking and crime, must be seriously tackled.
On the other hand, legalization -- especially in ad-obsessed America -- would not only sweep the causes of drug use under the rug, it would open the floodgates to more addiction, suffering and costs than we could ever bargain for.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On, It’s a ‘Government Slimdown’

Here is an article from Matt Wilstein of outlining how FoxNews has covered the government shutdown, notably referring to the fact that refers to the shutdown as a "slimdown:"

While the rest of the media world is reporting the effects of today’s “government shutdown,” has not-so-subtly rebranded it as a “government slimdown.” That term appeared six times on the website’s homepage Tuesday afternoon..."
The first article on the list, with the caps lock-heavy headline, “A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? Not really — turns out it’s more of a SLIMDOWN,” states:
What the Obama administration is portraying as a “shutdown” of the federal government — complete with signs posted at the entrances to government buildings, parks and monuments — is turning out to be more of a “slimdown,” as all but non-essential workers reported to their jobs Tuesday.
Subsequent headlines on the homepage adopt the “slimdown” language, but paradoxically, the word is replaced by the more conventional “shutdown” on the actual article pages. For instance, “How to visit national parks during partial slimdown” on the homepage becomes “How to visit national parks during the partial government shutdown” once you click through.
The rhetoric also doesn’t appear to have made it onto Fox News’ air, where the word “slimdown” does not appear to have been uttered by anchors or appeared in graphics on screen. The network had a “Countdown to Shutdown” clock Monday night just like every other cable news network:
And this morning, there have numerous segment and debates on the network about the impact of the “shutdown” and which side is to blame. So which is it, Fox, a “shutdown” or a “slimdown”? 

Ted Cruz, Wendy Davis, and Politico's Bogus Claim of Media Bias

Here is an article from David Wiegel from stating that the Politico article, "Ted Cruz, Wendy Davis and media bias," was false in saying that the mainstream media positively reported Wendy Davis and her filibuster and negatively reported Ted Cruz and his filibuster:

When Ted Cruz finally emerged from the Senate floor, he was met by a group of reporters nearly as large as the one that greeted Barack Obama when he came to the Hill to talk to senators about Syria. Cruz walked right into the thick of it.
"How do you feel?" shouted one reporter.
"Good afternoon," said Cruz, who proceeded to condense his speech into two minutes. "Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country. It's causing millions of Americans not to have a job, to potentially lose a job, to be pushed into part-time work ... this debate was about whether Washington was listening to the American people."
"Can you talk about your feelings for us?" asked NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell. "What you think you've accomplished?"
Cruz gave another two minutes of greatest hits. "Americans are convinced there shouldn't be two sets of rules, one for members of Congress and another for hard-working families," he said. "Any senator who votes to give the majority leader the ability to fund Obamacare on a 51-vote party vote has voted to fund Obamacare." He name-checked James Hoffa, whose disagreement with Obamacare is that union health plans don't get subsidies, twice. After about five minutes, he pronounced he had "probably spoken enough" and left, ignoring some frivolous but logistical questions about how he'd had the stamina to hold the floor for 21 hours.
Anyway: I recount all this because a curious but predictable meme has broken out across the Internet. It is this: The biased media canonized Wendy Davis for her filibuster in Texas, but is giving too little or too cynical attention to Cruz. The meme was codified by Tim Carney in a column titled "Wendy Davis was a media hero and Ted Cruz is a 'grandstander.' "
"The typical mainstream spin on this: It's grandstanding! He's just raising money! Fauxlibuster!" wrote Carney, without citations. The media spin on Davis, according to him: "Hero! Giving a voice to women! Glowing interviews on every TV station."
Davis's filibuster was no more likely than Cruz's to change the law. Davis's filibuster was just as self-promotional as Cruz's, and just as directed at a bid for higher office.
Carney's take, intended to work the refs, worked on Politico's Dylan Byers. He did make citations:
When a Democrat like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against abortion restrictions, she is elevated to hero status, her tennis shoes become totems. When Cruz grandstands against Obamacare, he is a laughingstock in the eyes of many journalists on Twitter, an "embarrassment" in the eyes of The New York Times editorial board. ... Cruz is portrayed in the media as "aimless and self-destructive" (NYT ed board), elitist (GQ) and likely guided more by presidential aspirations than principles (CNN). Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, had no qualms about coming right out and calling Cruz, his former Princeton colleague, an "arrogant jerk" — and worse.
Does this prove anything? Byers says that CNN described Cruz as "likely guided more by presidential aspirations than principles." But the story he links to suggests that Cruz has multiple motivations, while "critics question his motives" and ask "is this about his principles or about presidential aspirations?" Doesn't read like the news division taking a stance on this. Neither does the NYT edit board's position—it's an edit board. Of course a liberal edit board is in favor of liberal grandstanding and against conservative grandstanding. What does that say about journalists writ large?
And what does it say about the coverage of Davis? Let's compare.
- Before her filibuster, outside of Texas, Davis was a largely unknown figure. Before this filibuster, Cruz was a national figure—he'd been profiled as long ago as 2011 by the New York Times. The new celebrity gets the new story. Them's rules.
- Cruz's filibuster was actually covered more than Davis' in real time. Davis' filibuster only became a story as social media, mostly Twitter, started discussing it. As Carl Franzen reported at the time, "viewers of the major national cable and broadcast networks would be forgiven for not knowing who she is or what she did on Tuesday night. After all, during the filibuster's momentous conclusion, CNN aired a repeated segment of Piers Morgan and Anderson Cooper discussing the calories in a blueberry muffin." Cruz's filibuster was covered heavily in real time by the Capitol Hill press corps.
- Davis' filibuster happened under stricter standards. She had to stand consistently without assistance; her speech was shut down after a colleague adjusted her back brace. Cruz had to stand, too, but he was allowed to drink water and enter dialogues with other senators, who occasionally took the burden from him.
- Davis was filibustering a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, and to tighten regulations of abortion clinics. National media—on the left, sure—was already working that story as similar laws moved in North Carolina and Ohio. Davis provided a new hook.
- Davis temporarily won, while reporters knew that Cruz wouldn't win. At the start of his remarks, Cruz specifically said that he was speaking before a vote that he didn't consider definitive; as he spoke, Harry Reid's office revealed that Cruz did not actually plan to delay this vote. But Davis was trying to eat up the last hours of legislative time so that Austin would end its session without passing a bill. With the help of an unruly mob that shouted down legislators, she won. (Note also that unruly mobs make good copy.) Carney says it was clear at the time that Rick Perry would call a new session and get the bill passed, but that only became clear as Davis' filibuster dragged on—and, hey, that's more of a kinectic action than Cruz's.
- Davis didn't just get softballs from the media. Absolutely, she got some gauzy questions from Vogue and from network news. But in the "glowing interviews" piece Carney links to, one questioner pointed out to Davis that "There is a poll out down there by the Texas Tribune that says sixty percent of Texans support banning abortions after twenty weeks, which is one of the things that this bill would do." Another told her to "look at some recent polling ... indicating even among women there's 50% support for a 20-week abortion ban." Of the 20 questions cited in that story, eight of them push Davis on the substance of the bill or the fact that it'll pass anyway.
Actually, that reveals the fallacy behind this whole "bias" charge. Davis' filibuster made her a star on MNSBC and in the New York Times, but not on Fox News. Cruz has been on Fox News every night this week, talking strategy; he's kept conservative media in the loop. Conservatives are annoyed that liberal-leaning media canonized Davis and let her shape her story. They're simultaneously annoyed when conservative media doesn't let Cruz shape his story.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz, Wendy Davis and media bias

Here's an article from Dylan Byers of saying that the mainstream media negatively covered United States Senator Ted Cruz's filibuster on Obamacare while the media covered Texas state Senator Wendy Davis' filibuster on abortion restrictions favorably.  Ted Cruz is currently a Republican Senator from Texas, while Texas state senator Wendy Davis is a Democrat.

Sen. Ted Cruz has been speaking on the Senate floor for almost 19 hours, as of this post. The talk is not technically a filibuster — he can't actually block the Senate from going about its business — but symbolically, it's more or less the same thing. The point is to show one's opposition to something through a demonstration of physical will.
Which is why you can forgive conservatives for being upset with the mainstream media's coverage of the Cruz affair. When a Democrat like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against abortion restrictions, she is elevated to hero status, her tennis shoes become totems. When Cruz grandstands against Obamacare, he is a laughingstock in the eyes of many journalists on Twitter, an "embarrassment" in the eyes of The New York Times editorial board.
"Gee I wonder why NYT and WaPo and everyone else gave ecstatic coverage to Wendy Davis but not to Ted Cruz. I just can't make sense of it!" John Podhoretz, the conservative columnist, tweeted on Wednesday morning.
Yes, the difference between filibustering and grandstanding plays a part. Equally important is the fact that Cruz's theatrics are frustrating members of his own party. But, part of the disparity in coverage is due to the fact that the mainstream media, generally speaking, don't admire Cruz the way they admired Davis — or rather, they admire him only insofar as he makes for tragicomic theater, whereas they admired her on the merits.
Cruz is portrayed in the media as "aimless and self-destructive" (NYT ed board), elitist (GQ) and likely guided more by presidential aspirations than principles (CNN). Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, had no qualms about coming right out and calling Cruz, his former Princeton colleague, an "arrogant jerk" — and worse.
These portrayals may be accurate or inaccuarate — Cruz certainly has an elitist strain and he certainly has political ambitions. But that's not the point: The point is that the coverage of Cruz has been critical, and in some cases unforgiving, from the outset. At least initially, Davis wasn't viewed through a critical lens at all. Her willingness to stand for 11 hours was evidence of the American dream in action. Period.
After Davis's filibuster in June, she got a glowing Vogue profile and was interviewed by nearly every major network and show that deemed her the new superstar from the Lone Star.
In an interview shortly after her filibuster in June, CBS News's Charlie Rose highlighted Davis's history.
"You've met tough things before in your life as single mother, one who went form community college, to TCU to Harvard Law School and back to practice law, so this seems to be another challenge for you," Rose said.
Davis was the "Sunday Spotlight" for ABC's This Week after the filibuster and was interviewed by Jeff Zeleny in the dinner theater where Davis once watiressed. Even conservative columnist Peggy Noonan conceded during the panel that part of her thinks Davis is "so spirited, she has such energy and she seems to have such commitment."

5 Reasons the Media Is Covering Ted Cruz's 'Filibuster' Differently Than Wendy Davis's or Rand Paul's

Here is an article from David Graham of the Atlantic illustrating the reasons why he feels the media is covering Ted Cruz's filibuster different from Rand Paul's and Wendy Davis' filibusters:

America seems to be in a golden age of the filibuster. First, there was Rand Paul's March attempt to derail John Brennan's nomination as CIA director. Then there was Texas state Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster of a bill to restrict abortions in the state. And now there's Ted Cruz's "fauxlibuster," a long speech he began Tuesday but will have to wrap up by around noon Wednesday.
There's a raging debate on Twitter over how the speeches were treated in the press (since that's surely what all three legislators wanted to happen when they embarked on policy-based stands). Conservatives charge that Davis, a Democrat, was portrayed as courageous, while Cruz, a Republican, is being ridiculed and dismissed. Is the coverage slanted, and if so, does simple partisanship explain it? Here are a few explanations for the discrepancy.
  1. Liberal media bias. Let's get this one out of the way now: Many mainstream reporters lean left, and that colors coverage. Many of the complaints are about not news stories but editorials by predictably liberal editorial boards. Now, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the liberal editorial board of the New York Times blasted Cruz. (It doesn't appear the paper wrote an editorial on Davis's filibuster, though the board's blog was generally sympathetic.) But this is a complaint that news coverage is too dismissive, too. Bias isn't enough to explain everything here.
  2. It's too early to tell. As Dylan Byers rightly points out, Davis became a media fixation -- even her shoes became star. And yet Cruz isn't even on the front page of the Times! But on June 26, 2013, the day after Davis' filibuster, she wasn't on the front page of the Times either. It was only over the ensuing week that her star rose. The trick is to watch how Cruz is covered in the next few days. To speak of a "media blackout" is premature.
  3. If it's all bias, what about Paul? The Kentucky senator's crusade (which Cruz aided!) against drones drew a round of coverage just as adoring as anything that followed Davis and helped solidify his status as a top-tier presidential contender for 2016. How does one explain such positive coverage of a Republican?
  4. The politics are substantively different. It's reporters' job to portray the facts of a given situation. Davis's speech united liberals in celebration and earned an approving tweet from the president. Paul's filibuster helped galvanize a coalition of libertarian Republicans and civil-libertarian Democrats. Cruz, on the other hand, has been widely criticized by his own party. While his stand has endeared him to activists, it has earned the derision of Republican leaders, rank and file legislators, strategists, and commentators. If Cruz were uniting the GOP and leading a successful revolt against Obamacare, it would be reported that way and he'd look triumphant. As is, he's dividing his party and won't overturn the law, so the coverage reflects that.
  5. Davis and Paul's filibusters actually mattered. It doesn't matter if Cruz talks until noon: According to Senate rules, a vote must be held, and Cruz can't talk to delay it in the style of old-school talking filibusters. That's the key difference between Cruz's speech on one hand, and on the other Davis's filibuster -- which ran out a session and killed a bill, although it was passed in a later special session -- and Paul's filibuster, which did stall Brennan's nomination, at least for 12 hours until Paul gave up. Paul also got results: He extracted a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder promising the federal government wouldn't use drones stateside, the sort of concession Cruz is almost certain not to receive from the White House. As my colleague Molly Ball has pointed out, there are some serious logical problems with Cruz's stand. One, he's calling on his colleagues to filibuster a bill they called for; and two, no one believes he will succeed in getting Obamacare defunded. That opens him up to the charge that he's grandstanding. Were Davis and Paul grandstanding too? Of course. But there was a concrete political goal in view as well.
Rather than compare Cruz to Davis, a better parallel might be liberal independent Senator Bernie Sanders's epic December 2010 floor speech. It wasn't technically a filibuster either, something many failed to point out. On the other hand, though, Cruz has attracted far more coverage for his anti-Obamacare fight over the last week than Sanders did for his. Pop quiz: Can you even remember what Sanders was talking about? Didn't think so. (For the record, it was a deal to extend Bush tax cuts through 2012.)

Hillary, don't run for president

Here is an article from James Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and TV political analyst, from stating that Hillary should not run for president not due to the fact that she is not qualified, but the fact that America needs a new generation of American leaders rather than have another Clinton presidency:

Don't run, Hillary.
Nobody is saying the former secretary of state, New York senator, U.S. and Arkansas first lady, and Yale-trained attorney is not qualified for the White House. In fact, she may have one of the most impressive résumés to ever be submitted for the job. Clinton has a breadth of experience that indicates she has every capability needed to be president of the United States.
But it is time for America to move on.
The first argument against another Clinton candidacy is generational. Baby boomers need to release their arthritic fingers from the torch of leadership and pass it off to another generation. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama will have accounted for 24 years of the presidency by 2016, which seems more than sufficient. Clinton's election potentially extends boomer influence in a manner that risks creating a generation gap that further increases political disaffection among young voters.
Age is another important consideration, regardless of howls of outrage on this question by her supporters. Clinton would be 69 when she raised her right hand for the oath of office. She would be the second-oldest person to become president -- younger than Ronald Reagan by several months.
The pressures of the White House amplify the afflictions of time. Arguably, an optimal president combines an earned wisdom and natural intellect with the residual energy of youth. No one does this by turning 70 during their first year as president, which would be Clinton's status.
How long can Hillary Clinton wait?
Although doctors pronounced her perfectly healthy after a recent scare with a blood clot on the brain, the probabilities of geriatric disease in office are very real for someone who might be 77 at the end of a second term.
Reagan's comportment during his last years suggests that he had already begun moving behind the veil of Alzheimer's. This is not ageism. An accumulation of years defines our range of capabilities, physically and intellectually, and the Clintons as well as the nation need to confront the question of whether a person in their mid-70s is the best to serve as president. The obvious answer is no.
There is, nonetheless, no underestimating the cultural importance of the first female president and the glory it will bestow upon history's grandest democracy. The Democratic Party, too, will have an interest in being the political organization that gave the country its first female as well as African-American presidents.
Clinton, who is properly positioned with experience, has other challenges that impede her getting a chapter in future textbooks as the first woman in the Oval Office.
America is weary of limited political choices and dynasties. A second Clinton presidency might culminate in 28 years of Clinton-Bush control. We are, more than ever, a nation that desperately needs to renew itself with what is different and hopeful and visionary. Unfortunately, there is too much that is predictable with a second Clinton candidacy.
No one needs a time machine to look into the future and see the grainy video in TV attack ads with a baritone voice rattling on about Benghazi or mumblings about how her husband enriched himself by accumulating a net worth of $55 million since leaving office.
"Don't the Clintons have enough?" the voice would ask. "And hasn't America had enough of the Clintons?"
In spite of the fact that Clinton's accomplishments as secretary of state are significant, including diplomatic efforts that averted a war between Israel and Hamas, she is likely to be forced to endure campaign onslaughts accusing her of character flaws for forgiving her husband's indiscretions, which means the electorate probably has to endure at least some painful flashbacks.
This is not, however, a recommendation to back away from a fight. Clinton has proved that her political knuckles are toughened with gristle, and she can skillfully marginalize absurd allegations from her opponents. Instead of running and winning a fierce campaign, there might be a more honorable endeavor for the former secretary of state.
There is always a right moment to leave the stage, and failing to recognize that timing can lead to a lingering image that, in the longer term, overwhelms the accomplishments of a person in the prime of their powers.
Hillary Clinton can make a gracious exit. Yes, she has every right to run for president and is brilliantly qualified for the job. That does not mean, however, she is the best person at this time in America's narrative.
There is also nothing inexorable about anyone's presidential candidacy, regardless of how vehemently it is argued by Clinton's backers. Presumptive candidacies, which appear initially like logical choices that are the consequence of devotion and hard politics, often tend toward failure. The Dole, McCain and Romney nominations, presumed candidates with generationally disconnected politics, have sundered the GOP's power for possibly decades.
Running for president because it is expected and seems like an obvious decision are clearly not the right motivations.
Clinton's service to her country has already transcended even the starry-eyed youthful dreams she shared with her husband. Beyond her time in office as U.S. senator, and as secretary of state, and as counsel to Bill during his presidency, the namesake foundation she leads with her husband and daughter is having a profound impact in this country and internationally, facilitating education, health care and nutritional programs. That nonprofit needs her guidance and initiative.
America, though, is ready for different choices representing a new generation for president.