Friday, December 20, 2002

No posts this weekend

I will be on a trip to Berlin this weekend, so no posting will occur until Sunday evening at the earliest. I will be posting pictures from the trip if they turn out well.

posted at 03:03 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Frist to challenge Lott

In a welcome development, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee has announced that he will challenge Trent Lott for the Senate Majority Leader post. This CNN story contains the full story.

Trent Lott was a weak leader even before his comments about Strom Thurmond's segregationist policies. He valued pork over policy, and when he did take a stand against the excesses of the Democratic Party, it was for the wrong reasons. His socially conservative views, while popular with the social conservatives, alienated the moderates and swing voters either party needs to govern effectively. His comments on racial issues, gay rights, and abortion made him an easy target for the left-wing activist groups that targetted him relentlessly. Frist, while no squishy liberal like Lincoln Chaffee or Arlen Specter, presents a much better image than Lott and the good old boys from the southern wing of the party. He is conservative without being paleolithic, and his views on stem-cell research (while anathema to some pro-life activists) are, IMNSHO, the correct ones. Hopefully he will garner enough support from uncommitted GOP senators to topple Lott, who has been busy gathering supporters in the event of a leadership challenge.

posted at 03:01 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 16, 2002

Media Bias, part MDCII

Another outraged libbie from the pages of the Seattle Times is the target of my ire today, as he mindlessly rages against Michael Kelly's column of last week in which Kelly discussed the absurdity of Al Gore's claim that the media is biased in favor of the right. Here is the letter, in all its glory:

Syndicated columnist Michael Kelly seems to have done his usual 10 seconds of research for his latest column ("The liberal media trumpet their demise," Opinion, Dec. 11). True to form, Kelly reacts to suggestions of the truth about media "bias" with an ideological outburst and a flood of poorly arranged numbers. He didn't happen to mention that daily newspapers in major U.S. cities overwhelmingly endorsed Bush in the 2000 election, but my favorite is his suggestion that conservative journalists are brave, vastly outnumbered warriors in a liberal "symphony."
Really, Michael? There are "precisely three" major conservative media outlets? One wonders if you have read the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Human Events, Newsweek or the National Review. Just because you are not familiar with them does not mean they are not major outlets, and just because they aren't as blindly partisan as you doesn't mean they aren't conservative.
James Zetlen, Shoreline

Hmmmm, where to begin? Yes, it is true that a vast majority of the newspapers in the US supported Bush over Gore, but what Zetlen glosses over is the impact of which papers are doing the endorsing. Of the 10 largest papers in the United States, precisely two (the New York Post and the Chicago Tribune) endorsed Bush. (Two others, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, did not endorse a candidate, although if they had, they likely would have balanced each other.) Three papers which endorsed Gore (NYT, LAT, and WaPo) are extremely influential, and their articles carry a tremendous amount of weight. Neither of the big papers that endorsed Bush are considered journalistic heavy-hitters; articles from the Post and the Tribune are not often carried by other papers, whereas the other three are linked with regularity.

Next, he trots out National Review and Human Events, two magazines which clearly spell out their ideological points of view, and attempts to use them as straw men to demolish the liberal bias argument. It would be more accurate to compare these two magazines with The Nation and the Utne Reader, magazines with comparable circulations and liberal biases.

He also, inexplicably, throws in Newsweek, which is not at all conservative (Evan Thomas, their managing editor, is a red-diaper baby, and their coverage is nearly as slanted as Time). Perhaps he is hoping nobody will notice the discrepancy, as Newsweek's circulation dwarfs the other two magazines, and might be used as a buttress to support his allegations. It simply cannot stand up to the facts.

His whole argument misses the wider point of the bias discussion, which is what Kelly is actually discussing. Despite the editorial positions of the papers for which they work, reporters are, as a group, markedly more liberal than the population as a whole. Simple assumptions (often unconscious decisions) can frame the story from a liberal point of view; look at how the major media treat topics such as gun control, abortion, cigarettes, and taxes. That involuntary bias, coupled with the more deliberate bias from editors and headline writers, is what those who complain about media bias refer, not the rantings of the openly partisan. While I despise Carville and Begala, I don't mistake them for reporters; similarly, nobody listens to Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh for straight news. NPR, which is decidedly liberal in its coverage, is not only supposed to be non-partisan, but it is funded by tax dollars, which cannot be said of Rush or any of his conservative cohorts.

(As an interesting aside, a Google search of "James Zetlen" reveals only four citations, all linked to Shoreline, WA. It appears that Mr. Zetlen is just out of high school. Perhaps his views have been shaped by the notably unbiased views of one of our university campuses.)

posted at 08:08 PM | permalink | Comments (3)

I agree whole-heartedly. This Zetlen fellow seems like nothing more than some stuck-up grad student who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. Way to show him what's what.

posted by Simon Wright on September 15, 2003 08:50 PM

Zetlen's half-cocked argument makes it evident that he has no idea how the media is run. The liberal media in this country all too often follows the same ignorant path as the naive James Zetlen.

I would be suprised if this "stuck-up grad student" manages to pass his course.

posted by Sarc D. Plemat on September 17, 2003 05:52 PM

Actually, he's not a grad student, so let's cut him a little slack, shall we?

posted by KJB on January 2, 2004 09:59 PM

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