Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When the Media Went Pathological in Covering Hillary’s Campaign

Original Link:

In Monday’s post, Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central takes on the media’s failure to provide fair and balanced coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign – that is to say the campaign of the first viable female presidential candidate in our nation’s history.

Sargent chides the NY Times for addressing the issue by interviewing members of the press who were asked to evaluate - presumably with a degree of objectivity - their own coverage. With a touch of sarcasm, Sargent says, “You'll be surprised to hear that many of these media figures pronounced their own conduct impeccable.”

Sargent’s approach is to examine the coverage itself, and he finds plenty that should shame any reasonably professional journalist. But then some of us figured out weeks ago that by and large the nation’s media is so unprofessional that a majority of them are simply unaware of their misogynist tendencies.

Sargent begins:

“I’ve compiled a long list of episodes after the jump where media figures indulged in bogus, unfair, or outright misleading coverage of the New York Senator. While this puts me at risk of being declared the "worst person in the world" by Keith Olbermann, I submit that it's a useful exercise, on the theory that a debate about the coverage should include a discussion of the actual coverage.

“Do my examples prove that the media was unfair to her as a whole or worse to her than to Obama? Not really. But taken together, they amount to a startling parade of media buffoonery and mendacity that should have been unacceptable to any reasonable observer -- even ones who supported one of her rivals.

“So here's our list.

“On occasions too numerous to count, ridiculous non-stories first pushed by Drudge and other confidence men were actually deemed real news by major news orgs. Here are but three high-profile examples:

“Following Drudge, multiple news orgs decided it was big news that Hillary had used an allegedly phony southern drawl during a speech. Making matters worse, reporters failed to tell viewers that Drudge had manufactured this story by posting video that ripped her words out of context in a comically dishonest way.

“-- Following Drudge, multiple news orgs treated seriously a completely ridiculous story alleging that unnamed Hillary staffers had "circulated" a picture of Obama in a turban.

“The only evidence that this ever happened was that confirmed-fact-inventor Drudge said it did -- and what's more, his story wasn't even specific in its allegations. It didn't say what level the staffers operated at and didn't even say what was meant by the meaningless charge that it had been "circulated." Nonetheless, reporters and pundits treated the story seriously, often without noting these obvious defects.”

‘“-- Following Drudge, news orgs actually decided that it was news that Hillary's non-use of her middle name showed she was having an ‘identity crisis.’

Hang on, dear readers, there’s more:

“-- Reporters and pundits offered wall-to-wall coverage of the most trivial of emotions on Hillary's part -- her laugh, and her tears -- and repeatedly seized on such moments to assert that her emotions were entirely staged in order to manipulate voters into believing that Hillary is a human being.

‘“There's no polite way to put this: The coverage of Hillary's ‘cackle’ was simply sick to its core. Even Howard Kurtz acknowledged that reporters and analysts were lavishing attention to it because ‘examining her personality quirks is more fun than deconstructing her stance on Iraq.’

“Meanwhile, some of you will argue that coverage of her tears helped her in the run-up to New Hampshire. That's very possible. Nonetheless, it fed the ‘Hillary is a phony’ narrative, and it just doesn't change the fact that the reporting and punditry on her laugh and her tears was over-the-top by any reasonable standard and at times bordered on the pathological.”

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