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July 14, 2009

HOW THE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA GAME IS PLAYED.... When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) secretly left the country last month, there was quite a bit of email and phone call traffic going in and out of the governor's office. South Carolina's The State newspaper obtained records through open record laws, and received nearly 600 pages documenting communications between the governor's aides.

There are plenty of interesting exchanges -- it seems there was genuine, widespread confusion about Sanford's whereabouts when he went to visit his Argentine mistress -- but of particular interest were the emails from conservative media outlets. (via Zachary Roth)

Some outlets, hoping to outdo their competition, were volunteering to coordinate with the governor's office to spin the story to Sanford's advantage.

A staffer with The Washington Times wrote in an e-mail that "if you all want to speak on this publicly, you're welcome to Washington Times Radio. You know that you will be on friendly ground here!"

On June 23, a Fox News Channel correspondent wrote to [Sanford's communications director, Joel Sawyer], "Having known the Governor for years and even worked with him when he would host radio shows for me -- I find this story and the media frenzy surrounding it to be absolutely ridiculous! Please give him my best."

The Wall Street Journal's Brendan Miniter emailed Sawyer to complain about his own newspaper's coverage of Sanford's disappearance. "Someone at WSJ should be fired for today's story. Ridiculous," Miniter wrote.

Now, I realize that in the media industry, media professionals may try to curry favor with a source (or potential source) in the hopes of landing a bigger story or interview. When a high-profile criminal, for example, is convicted, he or she will likely receive plenty of sympathetic-sounding letters from major news outlets, each trying to land the first post-trial interview.

But this Sanford story seems different, to the extent that conservative news outlets communicated to aides for a conservative governor that they're on his side. In the case of the Washington Times, there isn't even a pretense -- the staffer wrote that Sanford's communications director would "on friendly ground." Media professionals are not supposed to coordinate with a controversial figure to make sure his/her story is told the way he/she likes it.

Given these details, Josh Marshall calls the emails, "Hacks on Parade."

There are reportedly other emails that have not yet been published. Maybe they'll be exculpatory for the conservative media figures, but I kind of doubt it.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

Media professionals are not supposed to coordinate with a controversial figure to make sure his/her story is told the way he/she likes it.

And indeed, media professionals don't. Sadly, propagandists-for-hire certainly do, and recent history suggests there's as much money to be made in the right-wing propaganda business as in quaint disciplines like journalism.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 14, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Fair and balanced, you betcha!

Posted by: a different phil on July 14, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Deep truncation

The media is the mess...

Posted by: koreyel on July 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's good to know that the Washington Times, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal are on the side of adultery (unless you're a Democrat).

Posted by: qwerty on July 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, this is the limited conservative media, which only defends itself against the liberal media. Everyone knows that Rev. Moon & Roger Ailes & Rupert Murdoch do not have a political agenda and are only looking out for the best interests of our country.

Everyone knows that the biggest part of the media is liberal. That is why Sarah got to have her 9th grade essay published in the liberal Washington Post tody.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on July 14, 2009 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Instead of telling us how great go the campaigns for cap and trade and fighting global warming, and how impressive the liberals' health care "reform" will turn out to be, this site continues to beat up on conservatives- hey, as your president keeps reminding us- "you won." Now talk up your programs. Liberal Democrat Franken was impressively ignorant when he commented at the Sotomayor hearing that she was the best prepared nominee to the Supreme Court "in a hundred years." He's going to be a barrel of laughs.

Posted by: mhr on July 14, 2009 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Over many a Quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping,
Suddenly there came a bopping
Sycophants at my office door


Posted by: FRP on July 14, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, for a long time, I've been thinking (and saying in comments at various & sundry blogs) that the single biggest & best lie of the whole Vast RightWing Conspiracy has been the "Liberal Media" (aka "drive-by," dinosaur," etcetc) meme. Even people who should know better (and on our side) -- both bloggers and posters, pundits and pols -- buy into and support the lie w/their terminology (usually, I'm sure, completely unconsciously).
(The reason it's the "best," as well as biggest, lie, is obvious: it permits, supports, and validates all the other, more specific, lies by which our polity has been stolen from Us, the People.)
And I've also believed, for a long time, that it would be very difficult, if not outright impossible, to correct the lie even just to the extent of undoing it, let alone convincing a significant number of people that (as is usually the case with the reichwing lies) that the exact opposite is true; that the mass media are, quite literally, the propaganda arm of the same corporate powers that own the Publican Party (and too many of "our" pols, too).
But this -- this is a brilliant discovery, and suggests that it might not just be achievable, but on a relatively short time-scale (years, instead of decades).
Every single blogger, writer, commentator, pundit, and pol on the left should make publicizing this (and the discovery, by FOIA and every other means, of other corroborating evidence) their job #1 from now forward.
Everything else will then follow.

Posted by: smartalek on July 14, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

You guys need a new thread. Go look in the mirror.The person you see there has very good chance of doing something just as dumb. It makes no difference that you are moraly superior.

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on July 14, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist usually beats me to it (and more cogently & eloquently) on stuff like this. SA, you ok out there?

Posted by: smartalek on July 14, 2009 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

What is different about this story is that it broke at all. I suspect all the big media types are often privy to this kind of information, but since they all have each other's back it is never reported. The next time they are dealing with a governor from a state with an open meetings law and an active local press I suspect the big media types might be a little more cautious with their emails.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 14, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Re: HOW THE CONSERVATIVE MEDIA GAME IS PLAYED...

It's not much different with most of the traditional media. They're just less obvious.

Posted by: Chris on July 14, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I should be concerned because of my realization that a corrupt practice may be something that might involve me . This apparently includes morally superior dangers too ? The fainting couch please ...

Posted by: FRP on July 14, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives seem to corner the market on dumb. I work in government and one of the first lessons you learn is that if you don't want a record , pick up the phone. If you don't want it repeated or have it subject to a records request don't put it in writing. All emails in most governments are retained , in fact it has become big business archiving the emails. Companies such as
http://www.barracudanetworks.com/ns/products/archiver-overview.php
Provide indexed emails , so the seaching is easy.

Posted by: John R on July 14, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

smartalek: "Every single blogger, writer, commentator, pundit, and pol on the left should make publicizing this (and the discovery, by FOIA and every other means, of other corroborating evidence) their job #1 from now forward."

Really, really interesting. smartalek's point is absolutely right. A huge challenge facing Americans as we try to rebuild our country after 30 years of Republican idiocracy is convincing enough people that the "mass media are, quite literally, the propaganda arm of the same corporate powers that own the Publican Party" To that end, this evidence of the alliance between the media and the conservatives is an antidote, if we use it.

Posted by: PTate in MN on July 14, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

The best part is the e-mail from Stephen Colbert. Would that Sanford had taken him up on his offer!

Posted by: The Pop View on July 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I really hope Olberman and Maddow run with this tonight.

Posted by: Michael W on July 14, 2009 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Hacks on Parade" reminds me how I miss the "Horse".

Posted by: RichardS on July 14, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal Democrat Franken was impressively ignorant when he commented at the Sotomayor hearing that she was the best prepared nominee to the Supreme Court "in a hundred years." He's going to be a barrel of laughs.

Well, mere hapless retard, the good Senator from Minnesota is going to have to be at the top of his game to top the hilarious display bigot Sen. Sessions put on today.

What? Sessions wasn't joking? Really??? Well, never mind.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on July 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK
You guys need a new thread. Go look in the mirror.The person you see there has very good chance of doing something just as dumb. It makes no difference that you are moraly superior.

Posted by: EC Sedgwick

I'm sure that made more sense before you posted it.

Meanwhile, in reality, this story shows how the rightwing media plays the game -- it's not about truth, or reporting, or even using basic facts. It's about pushing the agenda and ensuring the GOP stays in power.

For fun, I'd love to see someone track down what some of these reporters wrote during the GOP's witch hunt against Clinton. If they did write something, I bet it was the opposite of the way they promised to treat Sanford.

Oh, and if any of the trolls had evidence that Dems are treated by the media in the same manner by numerous reporters and outlets, they'd offer up proof. Strange how they haven't. That's par for the course with these clowns, but still ...

Posted by: Mark D on July 14, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's worth noting that the hack Brendan Miniter is actually the brother of the hack Richard Miniter, who works for... you fucking guessed it... The Washington Times!

Is this even surprising at this point?

Posted by: Joshua on July 14, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The mistaken belief that folks busy profitting from work in your political sphere can be trusted is similar to the mistaken belief that if the financial investment guy from your church handles the minister's money, he must be okay. Fundamentalist churches suffer from frequent Ponzi schemes. This happens because of their mistaken faith in the goodness of each other, and their lifelong practice at suppressing critical thinking in favor of "belief."

As goes theology, so goes politics.

Posted by: KazooGuy on July 14, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"You guys need a new thread. Go look in the mirror.The person you see there has very good chance of doing something just as dumb. It makes no difference that you are moraly superior."
Posted by: EC Sedgwick on July 14, 2009 at 2:28 PM

So, moral outrage is misplaced only when your guy is the one who got caught acting immoral? Huh. Funny that.

Posted by: sugarbiscuit on July 14, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Also: I await the high dudgeon from Dana Milbank, Helen Thomas, and/or Chip Reid over this shocking example of collusion between the media and the government.

Posted by: sugarbiscuit on July 14, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this is another version of a friendly hand on the inner thigh...

Posted by: mlm on July 14, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

But this Sanford story seems different, to the extent that conservative news outlets communicated to aides for a conservative governor that they're on his side. In the case of the Washington Times, there isn't even a pretense

Compare and contrast with the fauxtrage when Obama merely appeared on ABC to discuss his health care proposal.

Posted by: Gregory on July 14, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK
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