Friday, May 31, 2013

We still need better media critics

Three lies in nineteen words.

NPR’s On the Media tackled the Obama scandals and the media coverage surrounding them.

The Three-Headed Scandal Monster
Actually OtM tackled the “scandals”: Like the White House they decided that there was no there there.

Unfortunately, their incisive commentary rested on a foundation of ignorance and disinformation.

The IRS scandal centers on a feckless, unsupervised, overworked office in Cleveland tasked with assessing a group's nonprofit status.
That is an astounding sentence. Brooke Gladstone manages to make three mistakes in 19 words. She is even confused about the location of the IRS office. Anyone who has spent fifteen minutes on this story knows that the IRS office was in Cincinnati, not Cleveland.

The rest of Gladstone’s work leads me to believe that she did not spend even fifteen minutes researching the story. The piece sounds like she read the early journolist talking points dismissing the matter and decided to do a story about media-driven summer “scandals”.

In other words, a news anchor calls something a scandal without quotes, a newspaper puts it in a headline and it's a scandal because we say it is.
Had Gladstone really tried to keep up with the story she would have known that the “overworked” and “unsupervised” excuses were now inoperative. Nor would she have suggested that the Tea Parties were over-reacting:

The IRS Chief, later fired, said that the profiling wasn’t political. Keywords were used to shortcut the process. And it turns out some liberal groups with “progress” in their names were mistreated too.
Gladstone did not want to analyze the story as it unfolded. She had other objectives.

If you want to do a piece of high-brow agit-prop explaining that your boy friend in the Oval Office did nothing wrong--- COULD DO NOTHING WRONG--then those obsolete lefty talking points were all the research you need. They are just the thing to reassure your listeners that the “scandal monster” was the creation of those mean, old Republicans.

The NPR bubble is a wondrous thing.

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