Skip to comments.NPR Complains About John Kerry Coverage, Post Political Editor Boasts He Buried It
Posted on 11/09/2006 4:45:16 PM PST by lowbridge
Posted by Tim Graham on November 9, 2006 - 08:48.
On the weekend before the election, the NPR show "On The Media" brought their usual liberal criticism of the media to bear, with co-host Brooke Gladstone complaining how the national media was somehow an over-enthusiastic puppy in coverage of Kerry's don't-be-stupid-and-get-stuck-in-Iraq comment: "But the media can't stop masticating on this latest liberal gaffe like a Washington Monument-sized Snausage." (As in "scrumptious" doggie treat.)
Her guest was Washington Post national political editor John F. Harris, who boasted he succeeded in burying the Kerry story inside the paper, at least on the first day. But NPR's Gladstone hammered him for "playing right into the Administration's hands" by covering it, when Kerry wasn't even running:
JOHN HARRIS: My first instinct about this to be somewhat restrained in our coverage. I actually argued it off the front page. I felt that it was kind of a distraction. I don't think the question of what Kerry said is central in the minds of most voters. I thought it was being promoted for partisan purposes. So we put the story on the inside page.
It was a complete and a responsible story, but not a highly-played one the first day. The second day, President Bush was talking about it [Laughs]; Vice President Cheney was talking about it. Everyone was talking about it. I really was in no position to resist that. The story ended up leading the paper.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So Thursday you ran it as your lead story of the day, under the headline "Kerry Offers Apology to Troops." Is there anything substantive going on here? I mean, is this just pure noise?
JOHN HARRIS: It's heavily noise, but it's not my job as an editor to delete the noise or pretend that it doesn't exist. Probably George W. Bush's drunk-driving incident from 1977 wasn't the most important issue facing the country in the closing days of the 2000 campaign. Nonetheless, that was also something that entered the media echo chamber. I think the individual journalists like me are always in a quandary in that we don't run the echo chamber collectively. We only run our part of it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But you do suggest that this is a bit of a feeding frenzy by the media that often occurs in the final throes of campaigns. Do you think that this story would have been played as big a few weeks ago?
JOHN HARRIS: I think that it probably would have had a 72-hour trip through the spin cycle. It's just that these 72 hours are probably more critical than the 72 hours of a few weeks ago. The cable news networks were obviously delighted. Here is some content to keep a running story alive. It is being treated like it's the biggest thing facing the country right now. Emphatically, it is not.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But what it is, I think you would agree, is, according to your own definition, a classic campaign freak show.
JOHN HARRIS: The "freak show" is a term that we use to describe extreme rhetoric, flamboyant attacks, a brand of debate which is not really even aimed at illuminating an issue, much less resolving it, but branding your opponent as fundamentally unacceptable and unworthy and beyond consideration.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Isn't the point of every freak show to depict the candidate as a phony?
JOHN HARRIS: That's one of the most consistent themes. John Kerry was a victim of the freak show, Al Gore was a victim of the freak show, in that they allowed the opposition, in concert with media allies, to tell the story on the opposition's terms, and in the process of that, they completely lost control of their public story and their public image.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But why is this freak show happening now around John Kerry? He's not even running.
JOHN HARRIS: Brooke, the word I think that's central is "incentives." The people at the White House and in the Republican Party claiming to be offended by this and saddened by this, of course [Laughs] weren't offended and saddened. They were delighted. They thought they had a great opportunity to make the election about John Kerry.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: He's an easy target, like shooting fish in a barrel.
JOHN HARRIS: Yeah. In The Way to Win the metaphor we use is actually a little bit more raw than that- he's like clubbing a harp seal on the ice.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [Laughs]
JOHN HARRIS: And that is what they did to him in 2004, and [Laughs] that is what they would like to do and have done to him in 2006.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But by covering every back-and-forth bicker over this misplaced pronoun in Kerry's joke, aren't you playing right into the Administration's hands? And don't you think there is a role that discretion can play in how the story is placed and where it's placed?
JOHN HARRIS: Yes, I think both those things. We can cover a story, we hope, with skepticism, by trying to illuminate what the motives of various political actors are. I don't want there to be any ambiguity. This is not the world as it should be. Unfortunately, it is the world as it is. The freak show, we try to describe it clinically in the book, but we're not neutral about it. We're [LAUGHS] roundly opposed to it. It is a corruption of our democracy.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: But you're the national political editor of The Washington Post. And I don't mean to keep hammering on you, John, but if you are that opposed to it, if you find the freak show so reprehensible, you could take the Kerry story apologizing to troops, and just tuck it inside.
JOHN HARRIS: Brooke, I tried that for one day and, indeed, that is what we did. I cannot, by proclamation, create my own reality and say that this was not, in fact, a dominant reality of the closing days of the campaign. And my first responsibility to readers is to describe that reality. Now, I don't think, if you look at The Post stories, that we covered them in a freak show way. I believe we maintained detachment. But nonetheless, you are right. We were responding in a way to the freak show. I hope that we were not letting the freak show drive our own values but, unquestionably, the freak show succeeds in driving coverage.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: John, it was a pleasure talking to you.
JOHN HARRIS: Wonderful to talk with you. Thanks.
NPR's On The Media site has audio, as well as transcripts.
But of course Mark Foley making dirty talk with an 18 year, that was worthy of 3 weeks worth of coverage...
No media bias here! What a bunch of Jackasses, literally!
Like they buried Harry Reid land deals and "Dollar bill" Jefferson.. neither of them have gone to rehab and are still in Washington.
I don't think the question of what Kerry said is central in the minds of most voters. I thought it was being promoted for partisan purposes. So we put the story on the inside page.
May I translate elitist liberal speak to straight forward english?
I will do all I can to make sure the question of what Kerry said does not enter the minds of most voters. I hope to conceal it for partisan purposes. So we put the story on the inside page.
The ONE GREAT thing to come out of the election is there is no more need for AIR AMERICA!!!
Yes, sad that cowards cannot tell their own story anymore and be believed.
Mr. Harris, the Freaks didn`t bury the story, Carry is toast and your circulation is still dropping.
I think the ed was saying that like W's DUI, this wasn't a real story and not worthy of the attention it was receiving.
When the White House started commenting on it, it was noteworthy.
(I also agree Kerry is an idiot)
There wasn't any room left in the Post's Macaca Section.
Looks like we're going to have to start up a comprehensive Democrat "news reporter" list in the run-up to 2008.
Wonder if John Harris and his buds are high-fiving it over at the Post because they got Webb elected by sucker-punching Allen?
hey John....... Kerry is now dead. Get over it.
I like it how the media echoes that it was GOP corruption that led to their candidates winning even though the "corrupt" Tom DeLay and "morally bankrupt" Foley were NOT EVEN IN OFFICE.
As to whether Hassert "knew", it is clear that the DNC knew more first AND DID NOTHING until the eve of the election. So if the Democrats in the media are going to try to throw mud on the GOP they'd better check their own clothes.
The W DUI story cost Bush votes, that much is clear. What is not so widely discussed is that Gore's boasted "popular vote victory" was only by 0.51%. Think that many voters were digusted at the late breaking news story to not vote W?
The media SAID he was talking dirty to someone "possibly as young as 16" since that is the minimum age for the Page program.
The media engaged in the the ugliest sort of yellow journalism in calling Foley a child molester. They LIED and didn't care to follow up on who held the documents and how long they'd held them.
The media CANNOT be trusted to report FACTS. They LIE by phony documents and by omission. Goebbels would be proud.
Can anyone please tell me why one cent of Taxpayer funds goes to NPR?
but ignored...(what a surprise)
Michael Reagan, "When you point the finger at someone you have 3 fingers pointing back at you"
And of course there was no mention of Democrats having actually left a TRUE molestor in office in the form of Gerry Studds who actually had sex with a minor.
But let me add to the utter frustration how this co-opted media is almost entirely the reason Dems. are where they are now: So many have observed this election was about clean house in Capital Hill, including even some conservative commentators. But Democrats caught up in scandal like Jefferson, Mollohan, Menedez and even Harry Reid were all either re-elected soundly or elevated to Senate Majority leader (who took more Abramoff money and gave more quid pro quo in return than most any Republican you can name.) The reason? The media all but ignored their scandals, (including the fact that Mollohan had to be removed from the co-chair position of the House Ethics Committee by the Dems. for rewarding campaign contributors with pork projects,) in some cases scandal more substantial than anything Republicans other than Duke Cunningham were caught up in.
Indeed, think of the sick irony of the New Jersey Senate seat where Jersites sent the absolutely corrupt Menedez back to the Senate with his storied past of corruption despite being under criminal investigation and yet turned out the squeaky clean Mike Dewine in Ohio to pay for the sins of Ohio's Republican governor guilty of 4 misdemeanors including the petty failure to report sports tickets given him. Yet Menedez who has a long history of greased palms and political machinery manipulation was rewards with re-election.
So if Americans were turning out Republicans over corruption, then they did so with an amazing double-standard and not just a bit of hypocrisy. It's unfair really when you consider Republicans largely dispatched with their sleazeoids while Democrats just hid theirs in a backroom until after the elections, expecting and exacting zero accountability from them.
But one has to credit the media with that for ignoring Democratic corruption while hyping even mere allegations or the appearance of wrong with Republicans such as a raid on Curt Weldon's daughters home that in no way suggests guilt. Yet Weldon lost. Jefferson, Mollohan, Menedez, and Reid on the other hand had a good night last night.
The media may call that America showing righteous indignation. That such indignation was applied solely to Republicans I call absolute dysfunction and ignorance by an electorate increasingly brainwashed by the Clown Car Media.
This publication insults the public's intelligence
by chattering like a monkey.
Likewise, it defecates biased propaganda and hurls it at the people with impunity.
It is hereby rebaptized as:
THE MACACA POST