Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

WHAM! BOOM!....Did Barack Obama have a "testy" exchange with a reporter on Tuesday? No. Did Hillary Clinton almost let loose with a "Dean scream" on Wednesday? No. Do reporters routinely inflate minor campaign trail incidents in an effort inject color and conflict into their coverage? Yes indeed. The lesson of the day is: Always remember to take conflict stories with a great big shaker of salt until you see the video, the full exchange, or corroborating testimony yourself. There will be a quiz tomorrow.

Kevin Drum 3:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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I was chatting with some college students in a history course. Many, if not most, were embarrassed to admit that they didn't know who the presidential candidates were.

So when reporters make mountains out of campaign molehills, is it okay because nobody sees it or is it that much worse because that might be the only news a voter receives?

Posted by: Grumpy on January 24, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

who gives a crap about this endless horserace coverage?

the fisa fight is in full flower at the moment. thank you so bloody much, rocky, mcaskill, inouye, landrieu, nelson(s), carper, bayh, johnson, mikulski, etc., for helping the gop kill the only bill without telecom immunity in it.

with dems like you...well, rule of law is for sissies, isn't it?

Posted by: shortstop on January 24, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I get the feeling that all "reporters" are really putting together audition tapes for spots with Hilton Perez or TMZ.com

If it ain't Britney, it ain't news.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 24, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
You need to put Inkblot on tranquilizers so that he doesn't feel the urge to have testy exchanges with ANYONE. And get him a muzzle so that he can't do any screaming what so ever. The latter will also be good in case some reporter sees him licking his rear end.

Man the INKBLOT '08 campaign is just getting harder and harder to plan for and control every day.

Posted by: optical weenie on January 24, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Of course I meant Perez Hilton. Dyslexia strikes again.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 24, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Did the talking heads try to blame the current economic slump on the pending election of Democrats?!

Why yes, yes they did.

Holy Hannah! Not only can we continue to wreck the economy long after leaving office, we can now pre-wreck the economy too.

I pity anybody who actually believes this swill.

Posted by: Tripp on January 24, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

While the Big Dog has been on fire lately, the much hyped exchange with the CNN reporter was a let down. Although he did wag the finger.

Posted by: RollaMO on January 24, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

KD:

This should go without saying, but apparently can't be repeated enough. On our local radio stations, I'm still hearing about Hillary's tear-streaked meltdown in NH. And the morons are lapping it up.

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"blame the current economic slump on the pending election of Democrats?!"

You mean it finally stopped being Bill Clinton's fault?

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 24, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Correcting previous post.

KD: Always remember to take conflict stories with a great big shaker of salt until you see the video, the full exchange, or corroborating testimony yourself.

This should go without saying, but apparently can't be repeated enough. On our local radio stations, I'm still hearing about Hillary's tear-streaked meltdown in NH. And the morons are lapping it up.

Also, always remember: Preview is your Friend.

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin seems a bit testy regarding this subject...film @ 11:00

Posted by: Big Bopper on January 24, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking news: CNN reports that Obama once farted in public.

Posted by: AJ on January 24, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone is looking for a book to read on another tragic war..."The Coldest Winter, America and the Korean War, David Halberstam. I think it is better than "The Best and the Brightest. cleve

Posted by: cleve on January 24, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking news: CNN reports that Obama once farted in public.

In your usual biased way, you utterly fail to report the real issue here.

He claimed it was Hillary.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why even bother electing Republicans? They are self-admittedly ineffective---for the first six years everything is the fault of the prior administration and for the last 2 years everything is the fault of the replacement administration.

Posted by: Neal on January 24, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

> Did Barack Obama have a "testy" exchange
> with a reporter on Tuesday? No.

Well, Big Tent Democrat says Obama WAS "testy" so it is no longer permitted to say otherwise.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 24, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose it is something that they finally admit there is an economic slump but really. "Personal Responsibility" only applies to others.

Posted by: Tripp on January 24, 2008 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking news: CNN reports that Obama once farted in public.
it was an UFO
unidentified fart outloud
news(wind) breaking

Posted by: apeman on January 24, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

In but two short paragraphs, the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza today manages to exemplify in rather sharp relief what's wrong with the media's coverage of the Democratic primary campaign (and probably the GOP's as well -- but really, who gives a fuck about the Republicans?):

"So, is all of the kerfuffle surrounding Bill Clinton helping or hurting his wife's candidacy? And does the tenor of the primary campaign have the potential to keep Democrats out of the White House in 2008?

"In an attempt to answer those two questions, The Fix spent most of the last day chatting with senior party operatives about the former president and studying various polling done on him. Understanding Bill Clinton is a lifelong pursuit -- just ask Politico's John Harris and the Associated Press' Ron Fournier, the two best chroniclers of the man out there. So any discussion of him and his role is sure to be only a chapter in a very long book."

(Emphasis added.)

I mean, let's not go outside the beltway and talk to actual voters, Chris. What do they know, right? Let's just continue our incestuous clusterfuck, and create copy for ourselves.

And in all honesty, I don't why we're all at each other's throats, when we should be instead be after the real culprits here, the chattering media class, who are driving this issue and stirring up conflict by intentionally misrepresenting all sides, offering us carefully edited soundbites to maximize the negative effects.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 24, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The advantage is, with "full video," we have later proof of the inflationary nature of coverage, especially by (hanging my professional head) print media.

The bad news is too many reporters still think they can get away with this "gotcha" crap.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 24, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Did Hillary Clinton almost let loose with a "Dean scream" on Wednesday? No.

Moreover, Howard Dean didn't let loose with a "Dean scream." It was a stupid narrative spun by the meedja. The meta aspect of this -- the meedja referring to an "incident" which they manufactured, and which then contributed to the undoing of one Democratic candidate, in order for them to create another "incident" in order to undermine yet another Democratic candidate -- is enough to make me want to get all David Schultz about it.

Posted by: junebug on January 24, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

And in all honesty, I don't why we're all at each other's throats, when we should be instead be after the real culprits here, the chattering media class

bingo.

Posted by: shortstop on January 24, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

I saw video of both the Obama and Bill Clinton encounters. Both said what they wanted to say, but neither was abusive.

The Obama encounter is particularly odd. To call Obama "testy" is a total joke. He was smiling and signing autographs most of the time. The NYT reporter didn't report the exchange as being testy. The guy who did was the ABC clown who forgot the camera was rolling.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 24, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I just came from the HuffPost. It read that "Clinton lays into reporter" and "snapped at her". I saw the comments he made and feel very differently. He was , in contolled tones, telling her what her Industry is so often prone to do and he ended it by suggesting that they should be ashamed of their reporting. I agree with everything he said, the way he said it and realize, even more, what a problem we have with the media. The real issues don't matter to them.

Posted by: fillphil on January 24, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

apeman: "Breaking news: CNN reports that Obama once farted in public."

Glenn Beck: "You'd never have caught Ronald Reagan doing that. But FDR used to make cabinet members pull his finger all the time, and that's why our country turned socialist and Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I'm just sayin' ..."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 24, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Donald. We need to go after these bastards with everything we've got. Harrass them, their sponsors, and their corporate daddies without mercy. I nominate my personal hero, Bob Somerby (www.dailyhowler.com) to lead the charge. I'm on board. How about the rest of you?

Posted by: Sharon on January 24, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I read Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein and was somewhat horrified that he encouraged journalists to embellish and add details that make news read more like a story.

Of course, that was written in a pre-9/11 (ergo a pre-Iraq War) world.

This trend of embellishing the news and adding color (of course embellishment and color reflect the biases of the journalists) as being very popular and pushed by New Yorkers and the NYT's specifically.

And now we see where it leads. Non-stories are made into stories based on embellishment. This would be horrifying to editors of the past, but the journalism community has embraced this stuff. In Jon Franklin's book, Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction he sees journalists embracing fictional story telling techniques as the solution to the problem of the short story market drying up. To Franklin's credit he seems to push using facts to craft a story whereas Stein seems to encourage journalists to add details that make the words more dramatic and the story more vivid.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 24, 2008 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I thought farting in public was a good thing?

Posted by: elmo on January 24, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I thought farting in public was a good thing?

Would you mind awfully wearing a bell, elmo?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 24, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

How odd that the liberal media seem to do this with Democratic candidates rather than Republican candidates.

Posted by: cowalker on January 24, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I thought farting .... elmo

Beans, beans what a wonderful fruit,
The more we eat the more we toot,
The more we toot the better we feel,
So we should eat beans at every meal!

Posted by: optical weenie on January 24, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Our clownish media is so eager to inject themselves into the story that they are constantly making fools of themselves. They were all so reflective after their New Hampshire fiasco but they're redoubling their efforts in South Carolina. Next thing, Tweety will get his misogynist streak going and start babbling about castrating women again.

I see Kucinich is dropping out . That will teach him to fritter away all his money on recounts in New Hampshire especially when he gained no votes.

He claimed it was Hillary.frankly0 at 3:53 PM
Some people are lucky: they can wag the finger at Inkblot. Posted by: Mike on January 24, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Its like having WWF announcers covering a senior citizen debate.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 24, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

How odd that the liberal media seem to do this with Democratic candidates rather than Republican candidates.-=cowalker=-

People actually still believe in the liberal media myth?

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 24, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

People actually still believe in the liberal media myth?

Of course. And John McCain is a dangerous liberal, too. Listen to some radio, sometime. And be very scared.

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Are media whores like prostitutes? You betcha.

Do the media whores hate America? It sure seems that way.

Do the media whores deserve a boot up their collective ass? Absolutely.

Posted by: The Fool on January 24, 2008 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: Some people are lucky: they can wag the finger at Inkblot.


Kevin? Another reason why you need to get to PetSmart post haste and buy Inkblot a muzzle.

Posted by: Optical Weenie on January 24, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it, Donald, LBJ probably really DID make cabinet members pull his finger.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on January 24, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Of course. And John McCain is a dangerous liberal, too. Listen to some radio, sometime. And be very scared.
Posted by: thersites


I had a person tell me today Huckabee was a evangelical Democrat must be that liberal radio.

Posted by: Ya Know.... on January 24, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this same caution apply to this whole last couple of weeks? We've had a pretty routine dustup between candidates in a close race, and the respectable classes - notably the MSM and blog commenters - are getting the vapors.

Most ordinary Democratic primary voters are not heavy breathing over this stuff. Most Dems aren't even paying much attention to the race. They're turning out in droves for the primaries not because they are excited by the primaries, but because they are eager to get a nominee and take the show on the road.

Posted by: al-Fubar on January 24, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Funny that. I seem to remember Kevin creating a post based on the post of another blogger claiming that Hillary had cried for no good reason in Reno a few weeks ago.

Posted by: B on January 24, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Are media whores like prostitutes? You betcha.

No. Prostitutes work for their money, and quite often they don't get to keep it.

Posted by: thersites on January 24, 2008 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on January 24, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Fabulous Mr. Toad: "Come to think of it, Donald, LBJ probably really DID make cabinet members pull his finger."

And the rest of the cabinet probably all laughed in unison each time -- partly out of fear.

B: " ... the post of another blogger claiming that Hillary had cried for no good reason in Reno a few weeks ago."

Yeah, well, that's absolutely not true that she cried for no good reason.

You'd cry, too, if you just lost your campaign's entire state advertising budget in only one evening at the roulette table.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 24, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Breaking news: CNN reports that Obama once farted in public.

In your usual biased way, you utterly fail to report the real issue here.

He claimed it was Hillary."

No, no, no. You Hillary supporters got it wrong again. Her flatulence was an obvious racial epitaph in response to Obama's misrepresented sexist farting episode.

Posted by: drosz on January 24, 2008 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

dear weenie: you can't put a muzzle on a cat. Within 3 days he would look like...like Paul Wolfowitz.

Inkblot gotta be able to clean himself.

Posted by: little ole jim on January 24, 2008 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

All this petty, superficial school-yard, he-said, she-said, who's-really-running-against-whom crap is only going to hurt the Dem. canditate in the fall. Believe me the Republicans are taking careful notes and it will be flung three-fold back in the face of our canditate. Let's knock the shit off and begin reflecting and promoting the outstanding merits of each. Then and only them will we stand a party united for the common cause of the people.

Posted by: Ed L.R. on January 24, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

you can't put a muzzle on a cat. Within 3 days he would look like...like Paul Wolfowitz.

okay, that cracked me up.

Inkblot gotta be able to clean himself.

can't he just lick the comb?

Posted by: shortstop on January 24, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

junebug said: "Moreover, Howard Dean didn't let loose with a "Dean scream." Sorry, I'm a Dem and although I wasn't a Dean supporter I kind of liked him, but when I saw that scream live (on TV) it freaked me out. I remember thinking "what the hell was that?" I'm not saying it should have sunk his campaign, but the media didn't make it up out of whole cloth. It was a really bizarre moment.

Posted by: ChrisO on January 24, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Beans, beans what a wonderful fruit,
The more we eat the more we toot,
The more we toot the better we feel,
So we should eat beans at every meal!
-optical weenie

Hmmm. I'm not sure why, but it would really be interesting to see pix of Inkblot and Domino "reading" the "Cat in the Hat" on the carpet.

Also, I've always been amazed that construction workers can "learn" how to fart on demand. Can't explain it, but it is true.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 24, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

junebug said: "Moreover, Howard Dean didn't let loose with a "Dean scream."
Sorry, I'm a Dem and although I wasn't a Dean supporter I kind of liked him, but when I saw that scream live (on TV) it freaked me out. I remember thinking "what the hell was that?" I'm not saying it should have sunk his campaign, but the media didn't make it up out of whole cloth. It was a really bizarre moment.
Posted by: ChrisO on January 24, 2008 at 10:24 PM

That is because if you saw it on TV, you did NOT see the real 'scream'. In real life, Dean was speaking to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in a room so loud that anything less than a scream could not be heard.

On TV, a zoom lens and directional mike filter out both the images and the noise of his supporters.

Stripped of ALL context, it does look bizarre, but first-hand reports from people who were there in person (both supporters and press) are almost unanimous in saying that it seemed entirely appropriate.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 25, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

ChrisO,

when I saw that scream live (on TV)

What tanstaafl said.

Have you ever been to, say, a football game and compared the actual events to what you see on TV? For one thing some colors may be way off.

What you see on TV is always a distortion of reality. It may be unintentional and it may not be meaningful but it is NEVER a completely accurate depiction of reality.

Posted by: Tripp on January 25, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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