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June 22, 2011


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the genre-constrained nature of most political reporting

Thanks for this. When I have time I'm going to have to read that piece. I've long been aware of what he refers to, but I never thought of it before in the way he has. I think his description (as you've quoted it) seems quite apt.

I've usually referred to it as inertia, and I sometimes talk about it by referring to the MSM cranking up the Wurlitzer. There are certain story lines that get told over and over (with whatever the latest relevant embellishment happens to be), whether they're still accurate or not.

kathy a.

agree with the description.

sorry for not closing a tag in the last thread.

kathy a.

that's a great interview. i think he is correct in viewing the complexity of matters affecting people's lives being an enemy of understanding, and in people feeling more comfortable with a simple-minded certainty than with not "knowing" exactly how things will play out. it sounds like he views his role as processing and perhaps translating these complex matters so they are more accessible.

the quote about genres made me think of the "fair and balanced" approach to reporting that many of us have bemoaned -- where if some crackpot proclaims "obama is an alien kumquat," it is reported as a "controversy" requiring "expert opinions" from "all sides," which in talking head format means there will be several defenders of the kumquat view (some hedging their bets by saying "we just don't know; why does the president refuse to give the people proof?") and someone else saying "he is not."

Paula B

That's what happens when you study journalism at places like University of Idaho at Moscow. Plus, this stupidity has been going on long enough that a whole generation of young (broadcast) reporters have grown up assuming that format is appropriate, especially if they lived in areas served by small-market television stations. They don't know from Bill Moyers, Robert MacNeil, Gwen Ifill and Dave Marash, some of my favorite television journalists (when they were still reporting). CNN wasn't bad when it was new, but now it's one of the worst offenders. Some days I want to strangle Wolf Blitzer.


I never watch CNN and truly, I couldn't stomach Wolf Blitzer even if I was watching CNN.

In the tiny snippets of him I accidentally encounter once in a rare while it always seems to me as if he has absolutely zero understanding of anything, almost as if he was a male Sarah Palin without the sex appeal and who accidentally stumbled into a lucky gig on a major news network.

Paula B

HE and two other CNN reporters were trapped in a hotel in Baghdad during the Gulf War. They managed to get out pretty good reporting, in spite being holed up in the middle of a bombardment. For that, WB was given a desk job in Atlanta. One of the other guys has since died and the third was discredited on some story (i don't remember the details), and has faded from view. We're left with exactly what you described, OJ. I don't watch CNN, either, unless there's some breaking story I want to follow and nobody else is on it.

Sir Charles


That was long time CNN Anchor Bernie Shaw -- who asked Dukakis the infamous "Governor, if your wife were raped and killed" question during the 1988 presidential debate.

The other reporter was Peter Arnett, who had done some well regarded reporting from both Vietnam -- he was the original reporter on the "we had to destroy the town in order to save it" incident -- and produced quite a bit of highly critical reporting for a 13-year period -- and in the Middle East.

Arnett was fired by CNN for allegedly shoddy reporting on a story critical of the U.S. military in Laos in the early 1970s, but many suspect that he was the victim of Pentagon ire at years of not playing ball. Blitzer, on the other hand, a former AIPAC staffer, proved to be a cheerleader for the military.



SC--In the "politics and strange bedfellows" category--did you notice that Arnett's daughter is married to John Yoo? Holidays must be interesting indeed. ^^

Sir Charles


Wow -- no!

At the Thanksgiving table:

Peter: And then he said "we had to destroy the town in order to save it" -- can you imagine?

Yoo: Yes. Yes I can.

kathy a.

omg. nancy wins the trivia contest.

kathy a.

here's something from rolling stone on climate change and denial, with a sub-theme about "scripts" and the infotainment industry. it's by a guy you might remember, al gore.

Paula B

Thanks, SC, I could picture the faces but couldn't remember the names. Nobody asks questions like that anymore. In fact, few television ask questions at all. They start to, then answer the questions themselves, while the interviewee nods his or her head until the interviewer shuts up. It's pathetic.

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