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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, July 03, 2003


Daily Howler on Dean's media coverage

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, July 03, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Bob Somerby's Daily Howler website is a fantastic resource for cutting through the hypocrisy of the Pundit Class. His piece on the way Dean has been treated in the media is a great example of how he cuts right through the morass. To make his point, Somerby draws a distinction using Cohen's piece on Dean's death penalty stance as an example of how coverage should be:

Meanwhile, Cohen presents an original view! You haven’t seen thirty-five other pundits say precisely the same thing this week. By the standards of contemporary punditry, therefore, this is a startling piece of work. You may or may not agree with Cohen. But if this were the way our elections were covered, THE DAILY HOWLER wouldn’t exist. Neither, of course, would the Bush White House.

Because this is certainly not the way Campaign 2000 was covered. As ombudsman E. R. Shipp wrote in the Washington Post, the press corps essentially “typecast” that race, creating a mindless, hackneyed “drama” in which each candidate was “assigned a role” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/00). Once the various roles were assigned, facts were persistently rearranged to fit the corps’ preferred scripts. “As a result of this approach,” Shipp wrote, “some candidates are whipping boys; others seem to get a free pass.” Sadly, that is how the press covered Campaign 2000. And, to judge by the coverage of Dean’s recent session, they’re ready to do it again.

Familiar figures are hard at work, banging out pleasing new scripts. For example, the morning after Dean’s appearance, Katharine Seelye got busy spinning in the New York Times. According to Seelye, Dean had “equivocated,” “sidestepped” and “guessed” his way through the Meet the Press performance. Most strikingly, Seelye pretended that Dean had “sidestepped” issues where he actually gave quite detailed replies. But readers would have no way to know that. Readers weren’t told what Dean had said, only what Seelye thought of his answers. This was “reporting” at its worst—the same type of crabbed “reporting” Seelye presented throughout Campaign 2000. In August 2000, the Financial Times nailed the Times spinner, saying she was “hostile to the [Gore] campaign, doing little to hide [her] contempt for the candidate.” It’s bad, bad news for American politics if Seelye is out there again.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.