Category Archives: Media Criticism

It’s That Time Of The Week Again

Lileks takes on Keillor. Again.

Every column now ends with on-marching truth. But what’s this thing about the rich and privileged saying it’s not a great country? I hear more distaste and dismay about America from one Senator than the other; I hear more disdain from cosseted movie stars than I hear from ordinary folk; I hear more grumpy, costive old burbling about the dark hole into which America has fallen from a rich and privileged Old Scout than I hear from, say, middle-class bloggers who get 40 hits a day but happen to love the actual country we have as opposed to the theoretical variant which Keillor believes is right around the corner. Next week: an attack, probably, on the smug, self-righteous rich and privileged, who think America’s just great. At least we know how that one will end: truth, marching, et cetera.

I think that Keillor has attained that unblessed state that no one dare edit him. Thankfully, we have Lileks.

Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered

When I read this piece by Walter Shapiro, I had much the same reaction as John Weidner did:

You were besotted with Edwards because he was (or was pretending to be) a liberal Democrat. And Edwards almost certainly paid flattering attention to the guy who was writing a book about his campaign. You dolt, Edwards and his wife almost certainly coldly planned how to woo you, and knew what your weaknesses are. That’s what trial lawyers do with a jury. They study every scrap of information available on each juryman, and, like chameleons, tailor the message, and paint their very selves, to fit them. (I know about this stuff; my dear wife’s on the other side, the good side, fighting scoundrels like Edwards every day.)

Everybody who retained any objectivity could see that he was a phony, and were not surprised by this. When a guy talks populism and green-ism while building the biggest mansion in the county, there’s a 99% chance that he’s a sham. When a guy spends minutes in front of a mirror fluffing his hairdo, there’s a 99% chance that he will not resist the sexual temptations available to a celebrity.

These media love affairs with (liberal) politicians constitute journalistic malpractice. They gave us the corrupt Bill Clinton, from whom, had any of them had done their job and looked into Arkansas history back in 1992, the nation could have been spared. Glenn Reynolds has asked, after the obvious biased non-reporting in the John Edwards case, what else are they deliberately hiding from us? And at least Walter Shapiro, if not the rest of the swooners, should now be asking himself, “by what other politicians am I letting myself be fooled and beguiled?” For instance, how about the inexperienced phony about to be nominated in Denver that is this season’s “it” girl for the media?

Reporting The Edwards Scandal

Mickey Kaus makes the case:

The only legitimate reason not to cover this scandal, it seems to me, is simple sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards–and I’ve gotten enough emails from anguished and angry members of the MSM to conclude, with Estrich, that it’s the prime reason for the MSM blackout. True, I also suspect that if Mrs. Edwards were a conservative Republican, or even an unbeloved Democrat, the MSM might somehow find a way to overcome this compassionate sentiment. But that doesn’t make it wrong. Reporters don’t have to print everything. You could conclude that the need to protect Mrs. Edwards her children is so great, the karma of Enquiring so bad, that all of the obvious, public-interesty reasons for covering the story should be thrown out the window. And if John Edwards were already so damaged that in practice he’d never get a significant public office even if he wants one, I might agree (even if that meant sacrificing the deterrent effect of full exposure).

But that’s a point that clearly hasn’t been reached yet, at least not while most Americans are being kept in the dark about what, exactly, has led to Edwards’ mysterious disappearance from the political oddsmakers’ charts. A man arrogant and ambitious enough to think he can run for president posing as a loyal husband while keeping his second family secret, even as he visits his mistress in a famous hotel that is hosting a convention of journalists, will be arrogant and ambitious enough to keep hiding under the shield of his wife’s illness until he can attempt a comeback– if given the chance.

The alternative, it seems to me, is to let affection for Mrs. Edwards suck journalists into a Print-the-Legend world where they must spend their time burnishing–or at least accepting–the story powerful people and institutions want them to tell, the story of the wonderful Edwards marriage, rather than figuring out and telling readers the truth. If I wanted to be in that business I’d be a publicist.

That’s certainly what the “journalists” have been when it came to Barack Obama. Does anyone doubt that if Edwards were a Republican in similar circumstances, that there would have been a NYT story about it? The question answers itself.

It’s That Time Of The Week Again

Lileks examines the train wreck that is Garrison Keillor’s latest:

I’m sorry, but I’m just fascinated by his column. Each is nearly identical in formlessness, subject and general pointlessness. To be fair: we all write at haste and repent at leisure, unless we can somehow get it out of the Google cache. We all make inelegant remarks that seemed wonderfully writerly at the moment but curdle when exposed to another pair of eyes. It’s the perils of blogging. But he has an entire week to write these things. Never does he attempt to make an argument or explore a line of thought – it’s just flat assertions ladled out with nuance or shading. The sun rises, Bush is bad, life is long but also short and so you should sit outside and drink lemonade and think of the people who came before you and sat outside and drank lemonade and there is a comfort in that continuity and we need all the comfort we can get in these days when nihilists in golf pants are everywhere and the Republic lies in ruins. Also, he is given to run-on sentences. This week has perhaps the finest example yet.

If that’s not enough, there is some cereal blogging, too.

Another Clueless Commentator

And the sad thing is that he thinks he’s smarter than those of us in the business. Clark Lindsey has a rejoinder in his comments section. I will add that this doesn’t inspire confidence in his analysis:

SpaceShipTwo actually will only barely scrape space, eking out a scant 68 vertical miles before succumbing to the gravitational dominance of Earth. The craft musters only about 1/16 the energy needed to reach even low orbit 100 miles up. The space station, reposing 200 miles from the earth’s surface, is completely beyond reach.

Attaining such distances requires enormous energy…

No, it’s not the distance that’s the problem, it’s the velocity.


And Jeff Foust has found another idiot who wants it to be made illegal on environmental grounds. And because it’s “selfish.”

It’s OK To Laugh At Obama

So writes Byron York:

Television comedy writers fretted that audiences didn’t want to hear anything even slightly negative about the Democratic nominee. The political press corps went nuts over a satirical New Yorker cover that wasn’t even directed at Obama.

And this was about a man who made up his own pretend presidential seal and motto, Vero Possumus; a man who, upon securing the Democratic nomination, said, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal”; a man who has on a number of occasions seemed to forget that he is not, or at least not yet, the President of the United States, who has misstated the number of states in his own country, who has forgotten on which committees he serves in the U.S. Senate. Professional comedians — and their audiences — couldn’t find anything funny about any of that?

The fact that the press corps doesn’t seem to be able to recognize Senator Obama for the pompous buffoon that he is, is the biggest indicator how deep in the tank they are for him.


Victor Davis Hanson:

The distinction again is that Obama appeals to the gullible and puerile as a sort of James Dean candidate. And thus he is not to be cross-examined, but instead free to shun interviews and clarifications, and prone to avoid reporters who might be less than adulatory — the normal stuff that so irritates the supposedly sensitive press that has now gone brain-dead.

What is fascinating about the tingly-leg press is that they are exhibiting the very symptoms of arrested development and star-struck immaturity that they always accuse America in toto of suffering. The usual critique of the elite media is that we are a nation of mindless followers, who go from one fad to another, and value looks, youth, and pizzazz over substance.

But the current spectacle suggests something worse — that the press who claims they know better and are more sophisticated are, in fact, far more infantile than most Americans, and essentially Access Hollywood, People Magazine, and the National Enquirer dressed up with network logos and NY-DC bylines.

I think that’s been clear since Katie Couric was given the anchor at the CBS Evening News.