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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fantasy Land reporting

Hey Barack Obama: you've just passed a $789 billion stimulus bill that contains money for infrastructure, helps states meet the some of the crushing deficits they face and provides a tax cut in pay checks for millions of Americans. What are you going to do now?

Well, unlike the Super Bowl MVP, the president is not going to Disney Land. But there's a chance he may wonder whether he's in Fantasy Land anyway, as he gets kicked from the left and the right.

Welcome to that peculiar Washington disease called "Inside the Beltway Bias."

While governors across the country -- including many with an "R" after their names -- are quietly counting how to spend the federal cash infusion to avoid layoffs and put people back to work, the media wisemen and women are seeking out the naysavers who think Obama did too much or too little.

The Washington press corps sees just three Republican votes and declares the Obama plan a failure because it did not achieve bipartisan support. That is until they picked up the phone and called people like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist -- last seen on the national stage standing next to his presidential candidate, John McCain.
“It really is a matter of perspective,” Mr. Crist said in an interview. “As a governor, the pragmatism that you have to exercise because of the constitutional obligation to balance your budget is a very compelling pull” generally.
Then there's the other side of the aisle. Here Washington insiders talk to other Washington insiders and come up with a different view of the stimulus package.
Liberal Democrats recognize the package's scale and accomplishment, and they have defended it against Republican attacks. But they also wonder whether Obama could have used the opportunity of a large congressional majority and a moment of economic emergency to pass a bigger package, with a better chance of boosting the economy and with more of his priorities intact.
Until they stumble upon someone who entered the Beltway from beyond:

"We can't suddenly say, 'Change has come,' and just talk to one another and add more demands. We have to be out there explaining in the most elementary ways why something like universal health care is good for America," said Theda Skocpol, a Harvard University political scientist, addressing a conference of left-leaning groups in Washington last week.

She added: "It isn't going to happen in one week, and it isn't going to happen with one bill, with Olympia Snowe telling us what to do. It's going to be a long slog."

I was taught as a young reporter to get out and talk to real people. Has that message changed so drastically since my young days?

While a Harvard professor may not be the ideal example, it still proves the point that there are shades of gray to be found beyond the black and white of the people you cover on a daily basis.

I have argued long and hard that liberal media bias is a myth. Reporters have a bias against those in power and look to challenge them in the best sense of the old line that journalists are supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

But journalist also have a tendency to wear blinders and see only what is in their immediate field of vision. Political reporters in particular don't spend a lot of time outside their comfort zones. I know that first hand.

So I have a "stimulus" suggestion for the Washington press corps: Stop pontificating on the Sunday yak shows, get off your butts and get out there and see what life is like in the states that will receive the stimulus money.

Find out if the people who voted for the Republican House members agree with their decisions -- or like the fact they will get a tax break in their pay checks (assuming they still have jobs after the havoc wreaked by the Wall Street moguls who benefited from Bush-era tax cuts).

The media is facing its own hard times. Putting an end to Fantasy Land reporting would be a nice way to restore some credibility and maybe win back a few readers.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You talk of reporting the facts and removing liberal bias in reporting yet you blame Bush era tax cuts and wall street moguls for the economic mess we are in. Why dont you do some real research and see who voted to relax the lending rules and "make homeownership available all" Get out of the clouds..

February 17, 2009 11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well, consider this when you suggest there is no "liberal bias" in the media as a whole: It's not so much the reporting itself but the issues covered and re-covered by pack journalism.

I've been in the business over 40 years and as a triple English,philosophy and history major newspaper trained through apprenticeship rather than a major (spelled "liberal") university, I was taught to find my own stories that were "new" rather than recycling what other media do.

That latter is seldom done today. A president - Bush or Obama is irrelevant - decides to do "X," rather than covering local street and sewer projects or politics, or potential local impact of a national "thing," we instead ask for editorial comment from local faces.

That, of course, is easily manipulated by the reader, if not the writer or editor, into something else where a set of figures is not. On the other hand, it's faster for sharply-cut professional media staff to do the former than the latter.

February 17, 2009 11:19 AM  
Blogger Douglas Bickford said...

Here is some truth for you. Flight 3407 was sabotaged by the US Government so they could kill Beverly Eckert. Her husband died in the world trade centers on Sept 11, 2001. The reason they killed her and 49 others is becaused she refused the 1.8 million dollar BRIBE( PAY-off) from the US Government so she would SHUT HER mouth about what REALLY happened that day. She was scheduled to testify on 2 March 2009 before the hearings. She wanted a real investigation into the attacks. She didn't BUY into the OFFICIAL US GOVERNMENT story the 911 commission LIE!

Douglass Bickford
Portland, Oregon

February 17, 2009 11:24 AM  
Blogger mjslupe said...

our society needs to reinvent itself
we can produce our own food and goods
we need to stop importing goods and labor
we can redo our society
and it is not that difficult
we need to stop spending money on goods we cannot afford
i am a retired engineer in so ca
i grow a lot of my own fruits and vegetables
when i was growing up in mn we had a large garden and grew alot of our own foods
it is ridiculous to be spending money and oil on transporting goods large distances
we have labor and resources here in the usa
we also need to stop importing cheap labor
send the illegals back
and stop immigration for awhile
we need to allow the people of the usa to create jobs in factories

we can do this after all we are americans and we should have some business sense still

February 17, 2009 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to contribute the "rest of the story" to Mr. Bickford's inside scoop on the Flight 3407 sabotage, the way the government pulled off this hit was to post Mothman in the fuselage and, at the crucial moment, he emitted laser rays from his glowing red eyes and destroyed the engine. He then bailed out and flew away before the plane went down. Now, I hope this doesn't make Mr. Bickford's revelation sound, well... crazy or anything, but what good is half the story?

February 17, 2009 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree that there is a bias to a degree - that does not mean that the republicans are saints or that wall street has ever been in touch with main street.
Nor does it mean that banks etc were honest in their dealings concerning the sub-prime mess.
Just because Clinton and the dems passed a law forbidding red-lining that in no way forced a bank or broker to write bad loans any more than it forced them to repackage them and buy a bogus AAA rating for them and then pass them off to some unknowing sucker !!


February 17, 2009 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has any Washington politician ever truly passed legislation that indicated they understand what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck? To be unable to afford health insurance? To eat peanut butter sandwiches for three days before payday?

And, Mr. Bickford, if what you said were true, the government's Internet watchdogs would have already discovered and deleted your post, wiped your hard drive, and hidden your body.

February 17, 2009 12:17 PM  
Blogger Silent_Majority said...

Its nice to see that liberal bias has not tainted your opinion. I find it laughable that you would argue that people like Kieth Oberman and the like on CNN are note biased. Msnbc is not biased. Either you are blind to the facts or choose to ignore them either way your bias is clear. I am not a George Bush fan. I found his social policies way to liberal for my taste. I think Obama is a socialist not based on anything other than his stated policies and this massive socialist spending bill. I admit my bias at least. I guess I would find it a bit more refreshing if everyone else would as well.

February 18, 2009 10:58 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Silent, you seem to leave Fox off your list of "not biased" outlets so I can only assume that you think they do have a bias :-)

Olbermann is like Bill O'Reilly. Neither are journalists. They are: 1) commentators, who are paid for their opinions, or 2) entertainers or 3) jokes. Oh, that's Geraldo, sorry.

And now that I am blogging, I'm quite willing to display a bias that never crept into my news stories. That why I call this blog Massachusetts Liberal.

But you should note I have some nice things to say about at least one Massachusetts Republican. OK, maybe only one. But it's a start.

February 18, 2009 7:22 PM  

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