Those Poor Census Takers and TV Producers!

I’ve kept this story open in my browser for days, intending to do a blog post about it. Today is that day.

Can anyone tell me a good way to convey the challenge that homelessness presents to census takers, in the space of one headline? Maybe “Census Challenges Bring Homelessness Into Stark Relief?” Something like that? Not this:

This was right after I broke Howard Kurtz’s chops on Twitter for a similarly phrased observation:

The true measure of this tragedy RT @HowardKurtz: J.D. Salinger dies: Tough for TV since there are no sound bites of him being interviewed.

Brevity truly is the soul of wit, even unintentionally.

Introducing Lee Stranahan

Hi, Daily Dose readers, remember me?  The guy on the poster next to the pot-smoking alien?  Sorry I’ve been away for so long.  I’m still getting used to the extraordinary blessing that is being a real, full-time writer.  For those of you who don’t know, my initial deal with Mediaite only called for a weekly column.  The rest of what I wrote was voluntary gravy.  As of this month, however, I’ve gone from Pinocchio to real boy, with an obligation to crank out lots of content.  Concurrently, Asylum has also been asking for a lot more content from me.

As a result, I’ve been an absentee father to my home here.  Billie has stepped up admirably to fill in the gap, and traffic hasn’t really suffered.  I hope to be back here posting regularly soon, but it still won’t be what it was.

I’ve also been trying, for awhile, to establish a small contributor base.  This is tough, because I have high standards for you, our readers.  With this in mind, I’m proud to introduce you to our newest contributor, Lee Stranahan.

Lee Stranahan really needs little introduction, but I’ll do it anyway.  Lee first crossed my radar early in the 2008 Presidential campaign when I caught some of his very funny, satirical videos.  Our paths have crossed online quite a bit since then, especially on the Twitter.

He also blogs at Huffington Post, where he landed after being banned by Daily Kos for daring to believe what his lying eyes were telling him about John Edwards.  Lee currently spends his time writing and making films in support of aggressive health care reform.

Stylistically, Lee brings a harder ideological edge to the site than you might be used to here.  He’s also a very responsive guy, but I’ll remind you all to remember the rules anyway.  Let’s have fun.

Jake Tapper “defending” Fox News?

bllieddose

Disclaimer:  This is not an argument IN ANY WAY in defense of Fox or Fox News.

Was ABC’s Jake Tapper “defending Fox News” as the Huffington Post reported today after Tapper asked:  “It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one…?”

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My answer is a resounding no. Not AT all.

What Jake was doing was what Jake does.  He  does that a lot … I won’t lie and say he hasn’t infuriated me on a number of occasions when asking certain questions (Sorry, Jake) but, it IS his job to ask these questions.

Consider this:  Major Garrett of Fox News is, in a way, a colleague of all of those who frequent the White House Briefing Room … and, I would assume that most of those attending those meetings are friendly with one another, and generally think that those colleagues ask good questions – Major Garrett (also who infuriates me, in fact so much that I tweeted “F*** YOU MAJOR”  once after he asked what I felt was a particularly vexing question) actually asks quite good questions and he works with Fox News … so does Shep Smith.

So, it should come as no surprise that Jake would ask this question of the White House Press Secretary Mr. Gibbs … considering they BOTH work with Garrett EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

So, to again answer the question “Was Jake Tapper defending Fox News?”  No.  I think, and I’m probably wrong, but I think Jake was defending a colleague who he respects.  And, I would too.

Postscript:  Of course, I can’t fail to note the many times CNN has been complicit in ridiculousmongering (ie Obama as the Antichrist) and MSNBC in funmaking (ie Teabaggers) – I still say Fox is far more egregious across the board … but that’s a different matter :).

Washington Post Publisher’s Apology Doesn’t Wash

Update: This is a piece I wrote for Mediaite that got pushed out by other news.  The WaPo ombudsman is as unimpressed as I am by Weymouth’s explanation.

The hot, steaming mess that is the Washington Post Salon-gate scandal just keeps getting hotter and more messified.  Katharine Weymouth, the publisher who was to host the chummy, “non-confrontational” soirees with Post reporters and Obama administration officials, has issued an apology:

I want to apologize for a planned new venture that went off track and for any cause we may have given you to doubt our independence and integrity. A flier distributed last week suggested that we were selling access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at my home. The flier was not approved by me or newsroom editors, and it did not accurately reflect what we had in mind. But let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem (emphasis mine). Our mistake was to suggest that we would hold and participate in an off-the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers paid for by a sponsor. We will not organize such events. As publisher it is my job to ensure that we adhere to standards that are consistent with our integrity as a news organization. Last week, I let you, and the organization, down.

That’s a pretty good start, but then, Weymouth goes on to explain that the way she had planned out the events would have been just ginchy.  So what happened?

When the flier promoting our first planned event to potential sponsors was released, it overstepped all these lines. Neither I nor anyone in our news department would have approved any event such as the flier described.

We have canceled the planned dinner. While I do believe there is a legitimate way to hold such events, to the extent that we hold events in the future, large or small, we will review the guidelines for them with The Post’s top editors and make sure those guidelines are strictly followed.

That sounds a lot, to me, like “Yeah, the problem was the fliers.”

The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, doesn’t seem to be buying what Weymouth is selling:

Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti issued a statement describing the flier as a “draft.”

The “draft” is a single-page solicitation, printed in full color on glossy paper, which was distributed to potential underwriters for a gathering on health care. It reads: “Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth” on July 21.

Oh, it was a draft.  Kinda like those photocopied sheets they distribute in every office in America for the football pool, or something.  Just a sketchy, hastily prepared spitball-y deal, right?  Not so much.

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Alexander goes on to quote Charles Pelton, whose office produced the flier, taking a curiously high-handed attitude:

“There’s no intention to influence or peddle,” Pelton said this morning. “There’s no intention to have a Lincoln Bedroom situation,” referring to charges that President Clinton used invitations to stay at the White House as a way of luring political backing.

Do you really want to bring up bedroom hijinks here, Chuck?

The one positive, as I have noted, is that the Washington Post’s own Howard Kurtz did a good job in reporting on his own paper’s scandal.  Still, although it’s pretty clear to me that Kurtz got all he could out of Weymouth, some may question whether he really held his boss’s boss’s feet to the fire.

It also has the side-effect of undercutting Post reporters’ ability to point out other journalists’ potential conflicts of interests.  For example, when this story broke, I was immediately put in mind of Dana Milbank’s lecture of HuffPo’s Nico Pitney on Kurtz’s own “Reliable Sources.”  That splinter in Pitney’s eye is looking positively microscopic, now.

Kurtz, ironically enough, raised questions about such conflicts in reporting on the launch of this site.  In responding to criticism about his consulting business, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams was blunt:

Says Abrams: “It does seem I’m being held to a higher standard than anyone else in the history of the consulting world. That’s okay. . . . What some of the purists say is that if you’re engaged in journalism at all, you should not be able to work with business, ever.”

By that standard of purity, it would be tough to argue for the continued existence of the Post, at least under the stewardship of Katharine Weymouth.

“Washington Post For Sale” Bombshell Good News/Bad News

What a disappointing day for journalism.  Not minutes after I revisited the dark Playboy saga, I got an email from Lee Stranahan with his video parody of a story I hadn’t even heard yet:

Apparently, WaPo’s publisher hatched a half-baked scheme to pimp the paper’s staff, and the Obama Administration, for huge wads of cash: Continue reading

Dana Milbank vs Nico Pitney=Old Media Trying to Stuff New Media in Locker

Update: Here’s Nico’s take, including the fact that Milbank called him a dick off-mic.  Also underscoring my earlier point, in Nico’s article, Politics Daily’s Lynn Sweet brags about being the only journalist besides Milbank to ask about Obama’s swimsuit.

Sure, it is delicious to watch, like trains full of fireworks colliding, but this is the culmination of a growing blood feud between Old Media and New Media.  Here’s the clip, from Reliable Sources:

Let me start by saying that neither of them did themselves a favor with their tit-for-tat deconstruction of the other’s “record,” but Milbank seemed especially childish with his Rain-Man-esque “dossier” on Pitney.  Nico would have been wiser to point out that his and the White House’s only “crime” was in trying to give voice to the voiceless.

I’ve already said my piece on the “collusion” charge, and although Milbank highlights something I didn’t know about the timeline of the social media solicitation and the White House’s contact with Pitney, it doesn’t change the larger point.  The question was not staged, the President didn’t know what it would be, and Pitney/HuffPo was selected because they have been outclassing old media with their coverage of the Iranian unrest.  Because they’ve had their ear to the ground, they were the natural choice to get a question from an Iranian on that ground.  It was a reward for responsive journalism.

Despite what Milbank and Amanda Carpenter want to make out of it, this is a win for New Media, not for partisan blogging.  It’s also the latest in a string of Old Media attempts to push New Media down the stairs, “All About Eve”-style.

Continue reading

Huffington Post Smacks Down Dana Milbank Over Press Conference

My pal, Jason Linkins, really unloads on the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank over Milbank’s accusation that HuffPo’s Nico Pitney asked a “planted question.”  The takedown is so thorough, I’m tempted to piss Jason off myself, just to see what he comes up with.

I happen to like Milbank, too, having gotten to know him a little during the Presidential campaign.  Like Pitney, I’ve been lectured by Milbank on journalism, altohugh in my case, Dana was right.  Milbank, in turn, got lectured and thrown under the bus by Keith Olbermann, a guy with his own problems correcting himself.

So, now, it’s Dana’s turn to be wrong.  The White House rewarded Pitney for practicing responsive journalism. and more importantly, the Iranians by giving them a voice.  This is a good precedent, not a bad one.

Still, Linkins goes at Milbank hard:

Anyway, for a few weeks now, I had been of the mind that Nico had really raised the bar for all of us at HuffPost, with his tireless and relentless focus on this story as it unfolds. It seemed to me to be the work of a serious person, and his question seemed to me to be an extension of that seriousness. But Milbank has forced me to reconsider that maybe serious journalism is dressing up in costumes, telling a bunch of unfunny jokes, and portraying yourself as an entitled ass. Seriously! I am weighing the two options carefully! With the help of this video that Milbank made with Chris “Let Me Write A Hundred More Blogs On Post-Partisanship” Cillizza.

Ouch! Here’s the video that Jason’s taking apart:

Yes, it’s a funny takedown, and yes, the MSM has been crying way too hard about a blogger being thrown a well-deserved bone.  And, hey, who doesn’t love a good pissing match?