Skip to comments.Times Out - New York Times Insufferable Survey Analysis
Posted on 06/25/2012 1:05:56 PM PDT by guyshomenet
It is a rare and wonderful day when the New York Times gets something right.
Today is not one of those days.
When it comes to partisan or ideological media (which may be a redundant phrase), the New York Times has no peer (I omit MSNBC which is not a news organization with propagandist tendencies, but a propaganda organization with news tendencies). New Yorks news yuck not only dervishly spins news items to the left, but often misses obvious realities and non-subtle facts. The Old Gray Lady lapses into senile dementia more often than articulating lucid thoughts.
In this week of Supreme Court pronouncements, the NYTs recent survey of public sentiment and exposé of the court exposes some of the Times anti-intellectual analysis.
Assuming all the original beads remain on NYT abaci and that their survey tallies hold true, the Times notes a slide in publics perception of the Supremes that their approval rating has plummeted from 66% in the late 1980s to a mere 44% today (lets ignore that this level is a higher approval rating than congress can hope to achieve before the second coming or that Obama can achieve before his non-existent second term). The Times asserts that plunging approval is a reflection of Americans growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular.
The NYTs diagnosis is akin to a doctor prescribing aspirin to treat pain arising from metastasized cancer. Both quacks view the symptom and not the underlying cause. In the 1980s public political awareness was as top-down as Soviet economic planning, and about as accurate. Being part of the now crippled Forth Estate, the Times is unwilling to admit their altered reality, that the media landscape changed with knowledge and perspective expanding beyond their control. Starting with talk radio and followed by the citizens media, growth in the distrust of government parallels the shrinkage of the Times journalistic tallywhacker. Growing distrust of the Supremes is merely a manifestation of a people who get their data, analysis and perspective from many sources instead of the incestuous news business.
Pluralism is a bitch, isnt Ms. Abramson?
Digging themselves deeper, the Times then espouses after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election. This equine flogging episode, lingering in the alleged minds of lefties everywhere, nears the pale if not actually leaping it with room to spare. The two core issues in the cited case equal protection and mandated vote certification dates were purely mechanical with no ideology involved. For the Times to perceive this decision as partisan shows a lack of basic con law capacity on the part of their reporters. Perhaps it is election year fire fanning on their part, but the Times statement falls on its own.
Following these two extensive errors, the Times then swerves off the road of knowledge by noting the public is skeptical about life tenure for the justices. I have to give them a pass on this one because it is common and wholly false that Supreme Court justices serve for life (though in practical terms it may be true). Perhaps the Times research department, which evidentially consists of a librarian and frequently stoned intern, couldnt remain consciousness long enough to actually read the Constitutions opening paragraph concerning the courts (Article III for those of you not working for the Times). The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior. This passage was a device for removing any judge under rather hazy guidelines, which we use when politically viable (though impeachment them occasionally causes ex-judges to be elected). This clause specifically notes that any of the Supremes can be hoisted out of office using the same system in which lower court judges are occasionally excommunicated.
That these facts elude Times reporters is unremarkable.
Perhaps the largest error the Times makes the same one that the American political left is making in this election is focusing on the presidential race. The Tea Party has its sights set on a more interesting game, and one that has longer lasting effects than who is the nations CEO. If successful, the Tea Party will reset the political landscape for a good eighteen years or more, constitutionally hobbling future administrations and resurrecting the odd notion that the Supreme Court must enforce the express written will of the American people.
No doubt the New York Times will misreport this after November 6th.
When it comes to partisan or ideological media (
which may bea redundant as well as an unnecessarily general phrase), the New York Times has no peer (I omit MSNBC which is not a news organization with propagandist tendencies, but a propaganda organization with news tendencies).
Wire service journalism as an institution infects journalists with the hubris that they are the Fourth Estate, a.k.a. the press. And that they are objective, and that their interests are the public interest."Before the advent of the wire service (the roots of the AP trace back to 1848), newspaper printers lacked a cornucopia of stories to which the local general public had no access. Newspapers were mostly weeklies rather than daily publications, increasing the likelihood that whatever news the printer had had also percolated through the community at large from the same sources which informed the printer himself. Consequently, newspapers were about the opinions and perspectives of their printers as much as they were about the news.
The Associated Press was a monopolistic, aggressively cutting exclusive deals with telegraph operators to suppress any attempts at competitive wire services. But that is not the central fact about wire service journalism. The central fact of wire service journalism is the hubris the wire engenders in the journalist. The idea that any particular newspaper was objective would have been laughable to competitors before the wire service transformed the industry. But to be effective, the wire service required that the public be induced to trust reports from reporters whom the local newspaper editor didnt even know, much less employ. Thus, the AP produced its style guides to moderate the personal idiosyncrasies of reporters, homogenizing the tone of reporting. And the AP proclaimed - at the very time that it was homogenizing journalism - that since it was a group of newspapers which famously didnt agree on much of anything, the AP itself was objective.
But the central fact of wire service journalism is that the claim that all journalists are objective actually makes journalists less objective, rather than more so. Whether you are a journalist or not, the only way to attempt to be objective is to analyze, and be open about, your own interests as they relate to the topic you are discussing. But you cannot be open about your own interests at one and the same time that you are claiming to actually be objective. And the journalist does have interests which diverge from the interest of the general public.
The interests of journalism are to interest the public and to promote its own influence. Without interesting the public, you have no circulation and no advertising revenue - and no influence. But things which interest the public are not necessarily "in the public interest. The normal course of expected events is the public interest. People obeying the law, people doing useful work honestly and successfully, people paying what they owe and people being generous and inventive and productive is the normal course of events, and that is boring. Things get interesting when storms damage property, when fires cause damage, when people we trust and depend on let us down. When laws are broken, when wars ravage peoples, the news becomes gripping.
The consequence is that journalists prefer Man Bites Dog to Dog Bites Man stories, and that journalists say, If it bleeds, it leads. And the consequence also is that you cannot document modern history, and you certainly cannot create an encyclopedia, by the mere expedient of accumulating newspapers and ignoring the advertisements. Although the advertisements are famous for putting an optimistic face on the characteristics of the things they promote, advertisements also have been famously called the only thing that may be relied upon in a newspaper. But even if you include the advertisements, the newspaper essentially consists of things which are putatively awful and things which are putatively wonderful. Everything but what is typical.
The central fact of wire service journalism is that it produces hubris in journalists, and journalists with hubris call themselves the press or the Fourth Estate. In so doing journalists set themselves up as being the embodiment of the public interest - whereas as we have just seen, the interests of journalism run directly counter to the public interest. Inasmuch as titles of nobility are excluded by the Constitution, and established churches are excluded by the First Amendment, the idea of a First Estate, a "Second Estate, a Third Estate, and also a "Fourth Estate is also excluded by the Constitution.
The restriction on government,Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.is a right of the people. Freedom of speech and of assembly and petition is the right of the people to speak publicly, and to publicly listen. And the freedom of . . . the press is the right of the people to use their own money to buy, sell, and use devices for the purpose of promoting their own opinions. There is no case for limiting the right to the technology of the founding era, because the unamended Constitution contemplates the progress of Science and the useful Arts as a positive good - and because
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.Journalism consists of commentary and especially of criticism, and has nothing to do with producing goods or services. And yet journalism is determined to be important, and it flatters anyone who promotes the outlook that criticism is above performance - and derides anyone who questions it. Not only is wire service journalism not objective, a definite political tendency inheres in journalisms interest. Journalism flatters with positive labels and derides by applying negative labels. Americans believe in progress, liberty, and moderation. Journalism calls one political party progressive, liberal, and moderate, and applies contrary labels to the other one.
OUTSTANDING as usual c_I_c. Thank you! BTTT!
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