BARBERSHOP IINOT THE MOVIE! Atop page one, the Times quotes a barbermaking false claims RE Barack: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
SOURCES OF TRAGEDY: The nomination of Gore for the Nobel Prize is the smiling face of a vast human tragedy. Gore was able to make last years film because Bush ended up in the White House; Bush then marched us off to Iraq. By the way: How did the brilliant New York Times treat Gores environmental work during Campaign 2000? How else? They mocked him for it, on page one. On Monday, well refresh you.
A number of people should burn in hell for the scams they ran on this country back then. For unknown reasons, liberals and Democrats still prefer to pretend that this just didnt happen.
BARBERSHOP IINOT THE MOVIE: When we began THE DAILY HOWLER, we suppose we viewed it as a political project. Now, though, we often tend to see it as an act of anthropology. A basic question keeps coming to mind: In the American context, are we humans smart enough to perform the basic functions of journalism? This fundamental question came to mind once again when we read todays New York Times.
On page one, above the fold, Rachel Swarns reports on black voters reactions to Barack Obama. In paragraph 5above the foldshe prints this remarkable paragraph:
SWARNS (2/2/07): ''When you think of a president, you think of an American,'' said Mr. Lanier, a 58-year-old barber who is still considering whether to support Mr. Obama. ''We've been taught that a president should come from right here, born, raised, bred, fed in America. To go outside and bring somebody in from another nationality, now that doesn't feel right to some people.''That paragraph appears above the fold on page one of todays New York Times front page. Again, it raises the anthropological question: Are we Americans smart enough to conduct the most basic journalism?
Whats so remarkable about that paragraph? In it, Swarns quotes a 58-year-old barber as he makes a string of counterfactual claims about a White House candidate. What does this barber seem to say? He seems to say that he is concerned because Obama is not an American. He seems to say that Obama is from another nationality. And he seems to say that he is concerned because Obama wasnt born, raised, bred, fed in America. These statements appear without challenge or comment. And all of these claims are just false.
Duh! Barack Obama was born in America; otherwise, he couldnt serve as president. And Obama was raised, bred and fed in America, except for a four-year period (ages 6-10) when he lived with his mother in Indonesia. Meanwhile, is Obama an American? Is he from another nationality? The latter phrase has various meanings, but Obama plainly is an American; he has been an American citizen since the day of his birth. But uh-oh! Given the rest of the quoted material, a reader of Rachel Swarns fifth paragraph may well come away thinking different.
Why is that passage so remarkable? No, it isnt surprising that theres a man-in-the-street who believes a string of things which are false. Whats remarkable here is Swarns herself (and her editor), not that blathering barber. Remarkably, Swarns prints those counter-factual statements above the fold on page one of the Times, without making the slightest attempt to tell readers that the statements are factually false. Obama wasnt born and raised in America! And: Obama is from another nationality! And: Obama isnt an American! These implied statements are all false, but Swarns makes no effort to let readers know that. And yesthis is how bogus claims get spread. In this case, the bogus claims are getting spread above the fold on page one of the Times.
Well assume that Swarns (and/or her editor) are stupid, not devious. But as we told you just last week, this is one of the simplest ways a reporter can spread false information. Want to put a false claim into print? Without making the bogus statement yourself? Simple! Go talk to the main-in-the-street! As every reporter surely knows, if you interview twenty barbers, youll hear a wealth of bogus factual statements. You can then pick out the false claim you like. You can type it up; put it in quotes; then put the false statement into the paper. And yes: People who proceed to read the false claim will often believe that its accurate! To see the Washington Times play this game RE Candidate Gore, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/30/99.
SWARNS (2/2/07): On Wednesday, the question of race took center stage in the presidential campaign because of remarks that Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, made about Mr. Obama. Mr. Biden characterized Mr. Obama as the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy'' and then spent the dayhis first as an official presidential candidate, explaining and apologizing for his remarks.As we noted yesterday, Biden made a hopelessly clumsy statement. But that transcription (which, in part, is simply inaccurate) makes his statement even worse. But so what! This lazy transcription has become standard, and a string of daft cable hosts took things one step farther last night. Duh! They could have simply played the tape, letting viewers hear what Biden had said. But no! Instead, they posted this incomplete transcription on the screen, then read the transcription in their own voices! Lost were Bidens own inflectionsand part of what Biden had said.
For the record, heres a fuller transcript of the exchange from which Swarns transcription has been cadged. Some of what Biden said has been killedalong with an interviewers interruption:
BIDEN: I mean, youve got the first, sort of, mainstream African-AmericanWell pass you on to Paul Kiel for this, although wed express certain points somewhat differently. Note: Some statements, including this one by Biden, are extremely hard to transcribe if youre trying to be fair to the speaker. In such cases, journos should simply present the transcription which comes most easily. But expecting our press corps to deal with such matters is like asking gorillas to invent fine perfumes. Swarns transcription removes several things which were actually said in this exchange. And when TV hosts insisted on reading the simplified text for themselves, they also dumped Bidens inflections.
By the way, who was dumbest of the dumb last night? Not OReilly! OReilly played the actual tape, letting viewers hear what Biden had said On Hardball, though, a consummate dumb-ass read the transcription in his own voice, with his own inflections! Are humans smart enough for this game? Watching Hardball, must humans really ask?
PANDERING ONWARD: Too dumb to play the tape of the statement, Matthews continued to pander for Biden. Several times, he took digs at Obama, suggesting the whole thing had been his fault. (Obama wasnt being chivalrous like Jesse Jackson was, Matthews said at one point. And he said that Obamas reaction had been staffed up. Translation: His reaction was phony.) At one point, Matthews asked Biden the following question. Good God! Theres simply nothing so perfectly foolish that millionaire pundits wont say it:
MATTHEWS (2/2/07): Is this media too in love with "gotcha?"Is this media too in love with "gotcha?" Surely, the gods on Olympus howled, delighted by this borderline mortal!
Is the media too in love with gotcha! This same talker had spent Monday and Tuesday nights beating the shit out of Hillary Clinton because shed dared to tell a joke, a joke at which her audience laughed. It was girl humor about girls and the trouble they all have with men, Matthews groused on Tuesday night. And that could be her strategy. We girls have had a lot of trouble with men, lets face it. I`ve had to deal with Bill. Lets face it. Lets all giggle together.
Lets all giggle together! And on Thursday and Friday of the previous week, Matthews had pretended that Clintons husband calls her an uppity woman. And, of course, during Campaign 2000, he played gotcha with Gore for two solid years. He lied his ass off about various pseudo-scandals, and dumped an endless stream of insults on the Democratic candidates head. Now, he worries that the corps may be playing gotcha with Biden! Hes worried, of course, because Bidens involvedand Biden is part of the club.
SHARPTON (2/1/07): Reverend Jackson beat Joe Biden in some states [in 1988]. So who defines mainstream?It sounded like Jackson had put the wood to Matthews, reminding him of certain facts. At any rate, Chris played friend-to-the-brothers all night. Read the transcriptyou can tease out a few low, mordant chuckles.
Mainstream? Its an amorphous term. Bidens friends have spent two evenings explaining what he probably meant by the term. But lets get clear about the race for the Democratic nomination in Campaign 88. In fact, Jackson finished second in the final delegate count (2876 for Dukakis; 1218 for Jackson). The nomination chase had been decided in Aprils New York state primary. Here were the statewide vote totals:
Dukakis: 784,422 (51%)Jackson finished second in the New York state primary, getting 37 percent of the vote. And he finished second at the convention. Mainstream is an amorphous term (in part, thats why Biden shouldnt have used it). But if you arent in the mainstream when you run a strong second, we find it hard to interpret the term.
Last night, Matthews fawned and pandered to Jackson, saying how super-fab he is. And yes, it sounds like Jesse called Chris up and gave Mr. Dumb-ass a pep talk. But readers, why did Jackson have to call Matthews up? Heres what Jacks boy said Wednesday night, speaking about this same subject:
MATTHEWS (1/31/07): Im going to ask you, Tony [Blankley], after I read the response from Senator Obama. This took a couple hours, by the way, this response. I think it was staffed up. Just askingjust thinking.Classic Matthews! On Wednesday, he said he didnt think that anybody would call Jackson mainstream. It was outside the realm of thought. By Thursday night, he was pandering hard. He was a man of the brothers.
As one can imagine Chris Rock saying: I love my Irish-American friends. Its these dumb f*ckin micks I cant stand!
JAY CARNEYS SENSE OF THE MAINSTREAM: How do they get themselves dressed in the morning? On Wednesdays Hardball, Times Jay Carney shared his idea of the mainstream:
CARNEY (1/31/07): What Biden was saying, and this is Bidens fault for not being clear in what he was saying in this interview, is that there hasnt been a candidate, a viable African-American candidate with all those qualities in one.You think Biden tends to express himself poorly? According to Carney, youre not a mainstream candidate if you come from the civil rights movement! If the gods still laugh on Mount Olympus, its because they watch Hardball each night.