A Philosopher's Blog

Ralph Peters & Killing Journalists I

Posted in Ethics, Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 30, 2009

A recent essay by Ralph Peters’ in the The Journal of International Security Affairs argues in favor of attacking journalists within combat zones. Naturally, he does not advocate killing any journalists-just those in the “partisan media.”

In making his case, he begins with the straw man of the liberal American media: “we can acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that, to most media practitioners, our troops are always guilty (even if proven innocent), while our barbaric enemies are innocent (even if proven guilty).”

This claim seems to be factually incorrect, unless Peters has access to TV channels, magazines and newspapers that I do not. While there are individuals who have this sort of view, the majority of media practitioners have not exhibited this tendency. However, this is an empirical question. We just need to conduct a suitable random survey across the entire media establishment. This would involve assessing what they have said or written. It should also include surveys of their attitudes. While I do not have the funding for this, given the endless claims of liberal media bias made by folks on the right, they should commission a fair and unbiased survey of this sort to settle the matter. As it stands, this perception seems to be unfounded on an adequate survey. If there is such an unbiased, scientifically rigorous survey conducted by a neutral third party, I would like very much to see it.

Peters goes on to make another common assertion from the far right, that the media folks subscribe to an odd religious view: “rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists’ bloody altar.” Once again, perhaps my cable service does not get those channels, but I have not seen evidence that most media folks are neo-pagans. No doubt there are some-just like there are Satanists in the military. Again, this is an empirical matter and can be settled empirically. Peters sees the media this way, I don’t see the evidence for that. But, this can be settled easily enough using the method above. As always, I am open to objective and adequate proof.

Peters is right that the media shapes conflict. Information and how it is presented shapes how we see the world. This, as he argues, does make the media a potentially powerful force in any conflict. Naturally, he thinks that the majority of the folks in the media take sides and that this side is not that of America. Because of this, he goes on to say “although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media.”

None of this is new, of course. Even in the United States, the media has been censored in times of war and there have been news blackouts. Other countries military forces have killed journalists-as have terrorists. However, having an actual policy of American forces killing unarmed journalists would be something new (I hope). It also seems a bit odd to call for this, given how the media behaved during the first and second Gulf Wars. They accepted censorship and were generally very positive-especially those embedded with the troops.

Of course, Peters does not advocate harming all journalists and he does acknowledge the freedom of the press. However, he says that “freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.”

Peters view has a certain plausibility. What sort of information is presented by the media and how it is presented does shape how people see the world. If a journalist acts in such a way that American soldiers are harmed and the enemy is aided, then the journalist can be seen as giving support to the enemy. A clear cut example would be revealing troop locations, attack plans, and so on. Of course, I have never seen CNN or even MSNBC doing that sort of thing. It is hard to imagine a professional American journalist doing that, though not impossible. In any case, doing that sort of thing is already covered by existing policies and procedures.

Perhaps Peters has something broader in mind in regards to abusing the troops and strengthening the enemy. Now, if his view is that malicious lies and deceit that are intended to attack our troops and aid our enemies should be dealt with, then I agree with him. Of course, this is already be covered by existing laws and professional practices. If CNN broadcast a made up story about US soldiers strangling kittens and another one that the Taliban existed solely to protect kittens from the evil troops, then that would be libel and slander.

However, I am not sure if he has something much broader in mind here. That is, I am not sure of the standards he is using as to what would count (in his mind) as abuse that kills soldiers and strengthens the enemy.

In my next post I’ll take a look at his moral justification for his view.

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67 Responses

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  1. magus71 said, on May 30, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Ok-before I read the article, I must contend with your view that the media as a whole does not lean left.

    For one thing, do you think it’s exactly in the middle? Nothing could be. So, to which side would you assume they lean?

    Here are some astounding stats compiled by The Media research Center:

    http://www.mediaresearch.org/biasbasics/biasbasics3.asp

    The argument is pretty much over about that and even most of the media admits it now. They just assure us that their views are right, so who should care?

    So we can see that journalists are overwhelmingly Democrats. While this does not prove that they would present their information with a bias, do we really need a study to know what this means? Do we have that little a grasp on human nature?

    The blogoshere is the same way. it’s overwhelmingly left.

    Now to reading my favorite essayist…..

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

      But Peters does not claim that they just “lean left.” He makes claims that are rather more extreme.

      I’m not sure how the media as a whole leans. To have an adequate picture, a proper study would need to be done. This would require: 1) defining “the media.” Do you mean the professional TV media? The professional radio media? The professional print media? The professional web media? Local media of these types? Amateurs of these types? Anyone with a blog? Anyone who does anything on the web with media? 2) Taking a random sample of adequate size and stratification using neutral questions. 3) Taking a random sample of adequate size, stratification and variety of the relevant media mediums (web, TV, radio). 4) Objectively assessing the results using unbiased professionals.

      As far as I can tell, this has not been properly done.

      The right thinks the media is left, perhaps because any left comments tend to stick (a variation of the spotlight fallacy) and that from a right perspective, even moderates would seem left.

    • kernunos said, on May 31, 2009 at 9:54 am

      “But Peters does not claim that they just “lean left.” He makes claims that are rather more extreme.

      I’m not sure how the media as a whole leans. To have an adequate picture, a proper study would need to be done. This would require: 1) defining “the media.” Do you mean the professional TV media? The professional radio media? The professional print media? The professional web media? Local media of these types? Amateurs of these types? Anyone with a blog? Anyone who does anything on the web with media? 2) Taking a random sample of adequate size and stratification using neutral questions. 3) Taking a random sample of adequate size, stratification and variety of the relevant media mediums (web, TV, radio). 4) Objectively assessing the results using unbiased professionals.

      As far as I can tell, this has not been properly done.

      The right thinks the media is left, perhaps because any left comments tend to stick (a variation of the spotlight fallacy) and that from a right perspective, even moderates would seem left.”

      Obviously the media as a whole would seem more middle to you and not out of the ordinary because you lean left. An adequate proper study? Are you serious? They admit it now. Most TV is Democrat and most newspapers are definitely Democrat. Add in more Liberal blogs, or I will give you even here at most and you are left with radio. Radio is more Conservative because it is the only side that can survive without huge money from the likes of Soros. I’m not sure whether you are joking or I should take you seriously.

      What is up with the “tend to stick” comment? Are you saying that the Left on tells the truth?

      • kernunos said, on May 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

        I need a new keyboard, or my keyboard needs a new typist.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm

        Well, the news seems mostly middle of the road. But, again, to get a proper picture we’d need to develop an objective scale and apply it objectively as possible. I do recognize that some folks are left (like most of MSNBC). But, the tendency does seem more towards moderate views.

        Just because they are Democrats does not mean they are left, unless you just mean left of the far right.

        The right leaning folks have access to plenty of money-they include some very rich people (including people who own media companies). Also, Fox is quite right leaning.

        By “tend to stick” I mean that people tend to remember what annoys them. So, a right leaner would tend to remember a lefty statement more so than moderate statements. Since they would tend to remember that more vividly, they might then think that most of what was said was lefty. The same is true of the lefties listening to a right wing comment.

  2. magus71 said, on May 30, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    As to be expected, Peter’s is brilliant.

    As I’ve said over and over (and over) and as Peter’s says here: “The point of all this is simple: Win.”

    We won’t be part of the debate if we lose. There will be no debate.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm

      I wouldn’t say “brilliant.” Bloodthirsty, yes. :)

      My disagreement with him is that abandoning all limits and restrictions is the abandonment of morality. To be purely evil is to recognize no limits, no boundaries and to accept no restrictions on achieving one’s goals. If I take him at his word, he is advocating just that: do anything to win. That means anything.

      He does the usual thing to justify this-our goals justify our means. The usual response to this is to point out the obvious: to be good means that there are some lines that you will not cross, some prices that are too high to pay even for what Peters would call “winning.” The other usual response is that how we achieve “victory” can change that victory. If we do horrible things, then our victory becomes tainted with that horror-and it is hard to wash that away. This is not an instant thing. As he pointed out, dropping a nuke on Japan and then another one did not make us monsters. But evil deeds puts us on a path towards evil. Not today, not tomorrow, but someday. Think, if you will, of all the movements that began with noble goals and ended up drowning in blood. We could do that. While some might think that we are somehow the chosen people and that no amount of wickedness can stick to our gleaming and might souls, that is not true. We are just as vulnerable as anyone else-just as vulnerable as those who have fallen before us.

      What has made us great, in part, is our commitment to principle. We have done some harsh and terrible things. But, we struggle to win within the limits of our laws and our morality. This is the harder path, but it makes us a better people than if we just sacrificed all that we value for the sake of “winning.”

      • magus71 said, on May 31, 2009 at 1:25 am

        Well, Peters himself has been a part of the media for about a decade now. He writes for the New York Post, USA Today and is a commentator on strategic issues on TV.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:30 pm

          That is true. Are you implying that this grants him special knowledge? Or do you mean that he is secretly a liberal?

      • magus71 said, on May 31, 2009 at 1:40 am

        You seem to be ignoring 90% of the article and focusing on hi statement about killing journalists.

        Peters says that one day this MAY happen. he’s not advocating killing them now.

        Peters doesn’t advocate doing anything at anytime to win a war. Such as nuking Baghdad to beat the insurgency there, so that argument is a strawman. But as with any struggle of any kind, in order to win, you must apply a sufficient amount of effort or pressure. We didn’t that in Iraq and we’re still fighting. We didn’t what we needed to because we were afraid of making the media mad and thus irritating the populace. I’m sure the remember the congressional hearings where Gen. Patreaus spoke about the surge. When MoveOn.org was given massively cut rates to display their “General Betray Us” piece in the NY Times. Now why do you think the NY Times would do that? That space cost ten of thousands of dollars.

        His points about Israel’s fight with Hezbollah in 2006 is exactly right. Israel lost that war. The media hurt Israel’s war effort. A lot.

        In any event, it’s patently obvious to me where the media generally stands.

        And Harvard University seems to agree with me: The media helps terrorism:

        http://magus71.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/the-media-is-helping-terrorists/

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:36 pm

          I’m not ignoring the rest. I just focused on one point to keep my blog short.

          I note that point-I don’t say that he asserts we should kill journalists now. I assert that he advocates that it would be acceptable under certain conditions.

          Well, he does advocate doing anything: “The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. ” I think that the phrase “nothing else matters” is quite clear. Are you saying that he says this, but does not really mean what he says?

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:43 pm

          You are rather oversimplifying the article and leaving out some key points.

          1: “‘the possibility that insurgent violence was provoked by [anger at] declarations of U.S. intent to stay in Iraq,’ as well as fueled by any encouragement gleaned from statements suggesting U.S. forces might be leaving.”

          2: “The researchers conclude that the increases in attacks are a necessary cost of the way democratic societies fight wars and say they are concerned that the research may be seized upon by the Iraq war’s supporters to try and silence its critics.”

          3: “Our data suggests that there is a small, but measurable cost” to “anything that provides information about attitudes towards the war.”

          None of this shows that the media helps terrorism. It just indicates that there is a reaction to what we say. To use an analogy: suppose that I express my view on an issue and someone takes a swing at me. Do I thereby help violent crime?

          • magus71 said, on June 1, 2009 at 1:00 am

            “as well as fueled by any encouragement gleaned from statements suggesting U.S. forces might be leaving.”

            Exactly.

            “The researchers conclude that the increases in attacks are a necessary cost of the way democratic societies fight wars and say they are concerned that the research may be seized upon by the Iraq war’s supporters to try and silence its critics.”

            I researched this. They researchers were asked if they were afraid this would be used in such a manner. Of course their response is: “Oh yeah. You never know what the Neo-Cons will use to bring death and destruction to the brown people of the world.”

            And–was it seized upon to “silence critics”? When have the critics ever been silent about the war. The won’t be silent for the next 50 years, maybe more. So I guess their fears didn’t come to fruition, and it should have been obvious that no one would be silenced by any amount of data proving or disproving anything.

            Look. The article plainly states that there are an increase in attacks because of certain ways the media covers things. Those are facts, supported by statistics. Things like: “The researchers conclude that the increases in attacks are a necessary cost of the way democratic societies fight wars and say they are concerned that the research may be seized upon by the Iraq war’s supporters to try and silence its critics.”, are not facts but are an analysis of the second and third order of effects of this type of reporting. that analysis may or may not be correct.

            I also want to make the point that many journalists embedded with our troops at the beginning of the war, and they saw first-hand that our men fight very differently from al-Qaeda. What was the reaction from their far-left bosses? Pull the embeds out, they’re not being objective. The embedded journalists saw first hand what it’s like, and all the lefty, “I hate our troops” talk he’d heard at Starbucks just before his international relation class went out the door.

            There is a happy medium here. we’re not there. The media does cause some problems and the military needs to address and better train its leaders to deal with the media. Media relations is now the 4th dimension of the Battlespace. If we do not effectively maintain a presence there, our enemy will fill the vacuum. The enemy has entire websites and and news channels dedicated to changing the way westerners perceive reality. We are more vulnerable to propaganda than our enemy since we have easy access to technology and for the most part, very literate. America needs to rebuild entire cities and feed thousands to have an impact. The enemy has only to show a picture of a prisoner at Abu Graib.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

              “They researchers were asked if they were afraid this would be used in such a manner. Of course their response is: “Oh yeah. You never know what the Neo-Cons will use to bring death and destruction to the brown people of the world.”

              They said that? Really? Do you have the source?

              And–was it seized upon to “silence critics”? When have the critics ever been silent about the war. The won’t be silent for the next 50 years, maybe more. So I guess their fears didn’t come to fruition, and it should have been obvious that no one would be silenced by any amount of data proving or disproving anything.

              Ironically, their point is that people will use the data to do what you seem to be doing-attacking the media.

              What was the reaction from their far-left bosses? Pull the embeds out, they’re not being objective. The embedded journalists saw first hand what it’s like, and all the lefty, “I hate our troops” talk he’d heard at Starbucks just before his international relation class went out the door.

              You have proof of this? Who are these far left people? Do you mean the owners of the major media corporations? They are lefties?

              Propaganda has always been a part of war fighting. However, it does run at odds with key democratic values such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and a moral commitment to the truth. After all, the standard goal of PR is to make the other guy look worse and yourself look better. One mistake that was made in the Bush and Clinton eras was trying to manipulate the media-sometimes when the truth would serve better.

              Naturally, I see that image control and manipulation is a critical part of war. Being able to undercut enemy moral and support via propaganda is very useful-a weaker enemy is easier to beat. Likewise, making one’s side look good helps boost morale and gain allies. Of course, doing this with truth is best.

              On the face of it, the PR war should have been an easy win for us. I think part of the problem is that PR people seem compelled to lie-even when the truth would serve better. For example, there is the infamous Private Lynch incident.

            • magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:10 am

              The truth will serve the media better, too. Not just the government.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 2, 2009 at 8:47 pm

              Truth serves us all best. “Honesty is the best policy.”

            • kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:16 am

              “You have proof of this? Who are these far left people? Do you mean the owners of the major media corporations? They are lefties?”

              GE owns NBC and MSNBC

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 2, 2009 at 8:54 pm

              I’ll give you MSNBC. They’re still on the air? :)

            • T. J. Babson said, on June 4, 2009 at 6:22 am

              Here is an interesting bit of sophistry.

              Rush and Newt Are Winning
              By E.J. Dionne

              WASHINGTON — A media environment that tilts to the right is obscuring what President Obama stands for and closing off political options that should be part of the public discussion.

              Yes, you read that correctly: If you doubt that there is a conservative inclination in the media, consider which arguments you hear regularly and which you don’t. When Rush Limbaugh sneezes or Newt Gingrich tweets, their views ricochet from the Internet to cable television and into the traditional media. It is remarkable how successful they are in setting what passes for the news agenda.

              The power of the Limbaugh-Gingrich axis means that Obama is regularly cast as somewhere on the far left end of a truncated political spectrum. He’s the guy who nominates a “racist” to the Supreme Court, wants to weaken America’s defenses against terrorism, and is proposing a massive government takeover of the private economy. Steve Forbes, writing for his magazine, went so far recently as to compare Obama’s economic policies to those of Juan Peron’s Argentina.

              Democrats are complicit in building up Gingrich and Limbaugh as the main spokesmen for the Republican Party, since Obama polls so much better than both of them. But the media play an independent role by regularly treating far right views as mainstream positions and by largely ignoring critiques of Obama that come from elected officials on the left.

              This was brought home at this week’s annual conference of the Campaign for America’s Future, the progressive group that supports Obama but worries about how close his economic advisers are to Wall Street, how long our troops will have to stay in Afghanistan, and how much he will be willing to compromise to secure health care reform.
              In other words, they see Obama not as the parody created by the far right, but as he actually is: a politician with progressive values but moderate instincts who has hewed to the middle of the road in dealing with the economic crisis, health care, Guantanamo and the war in Afghanistan.

              While the right wing’s rants get wall-to-wall airtime, you almost never hear from the sort of progressive members of Congress who were on an America’s Future panel on Tuesday. Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Raul Grijalva of Arizona all said warm things about the president — they are Democrats, after all — but also took issue with some of his policies.

              All three, for example, are passionately opposed to his military approach to Afghanistan and want a serious debate over the implications of Obama’s strategy. “If we don’t ask these questions now,” said Edwards, “we’ll ask these questions 10 years from now — I guarantee it.”

              Polis spoke of how Lyndon Johnson’s extraordinary progressive legacy “will always be overshadowed by Vietnam” and said that progressives who were challenging the administration’s foreign policy were simply trying to “protect and enhance President Obama’s legacy by preventing Afghanistan and Iraq from becoming another Vietnam.”

              As it happens, I am closer than the progressive trio is to Obama’s view on Afghanistan. But why are their voices muffled when they raise legitimate concerns while Limbaugh’s rants get amplified? Isn’t Afghanistan a more important issue to debate than a single comment by Judge Sonia Sotomayor about the relative wisdom of Latinas?

              Polis, Edwards and Grijalva also noted that proposals for a Canadian-style single-payer health care system, which they support, have fallen off the political radar. Polis urged his activist audience to accept that reality for now and focus its energy on making sure that a government insurance option, known in policy circles as the “public plan,” be part of the menu of choices offered by a reformed health care system.

              But Edwards noted that if the public plan, already a compromise from single-payer, is defined as the left’s position in the health care debate, the entire discussion gets skewed to the right. This makes it far more likely that any public option included in a final bill will be a pale version of the original idea.

              Her point has broader application. For all the talk of a media love affair with Obama, there is a deep and largely unconscious conservative bias in the media’s discussion of policy. The range of acceptable opinion runs from the moderate left to the far right and cuts off more vigorous progressive perspectives.

              Democrats love to think that Limbaugh and Gingrich are weakening the conservative side. But guess what? By dragging the media to the right, Rush and Newt are winning.

            • magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:27 am

              I mean the editors of major news papers. They make the ground level decisions.

            • magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 3:25 am

              Here’s an article that talks of the concern that journalists would become too sympathetic by being embedded.

              http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/05/embedded_journalists_won_over.html

              And… http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=34&paper=461

              It may not change the ideas that journalists have about the invasion itself, but the embedding changed the perception that journalists had of our troops. They weren’t running around committing attrocies. Abu Graib was not the norm. Rape was not a normal Soldier’s passtime.

              And I have to problem with bombing Al Jazeera: Being a journalist is not pretection in and of itself. If you do as the enemy does, you are the enemy.

              http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/dailyUpdate.html

          • kernunos said, on June 1, 2009 at 11:29 am

            “None of this shows that the media helps terrorism. It just indicates that there is a reaction to what we say. To use an analogy: suppose that I express my view on an issue and someone takes a swing at me. Do I thereby help violent crime?”

            This is assuming they are telling the truth and the delivery is objective. That is the problem I have at times. It is sort of like statistics. You can come at them from any angle and use them the way you want and say two opposite things.

            An example. Say a unit of American soldiers was ambushed, dug in hard and had a two hour firefight. They were patrolling a sensitive area looking for insurgents. They lose no troops and kill 15 and were outnumbered two to one.

            Spin one: Outnumbered two to one and ambushed by insurgents, US troops suffer no casualties. US troops while patrolling through the ……

            Spin two: US troops incite violence in a religiously sensitive area of and kill 15 Iraqis…..

            See how this is done?

            • magus71 said, on June 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

              That’s exactly right about assuming the media telling the truth.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

              What you are talking about is a different matter. The study did not, as far as I saw, study the impact of slanted vs. objective reporting. We’d need another study for that.

              But, slanted reporting can, intuitively, have an impact. For example, see the impact of Rush and Fox news on people’s views.

            • kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:15 am

              I disagree. the slant tells all Mike.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 2, 2009 at 8:48 pm

              Tells all what?

            • magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:15 am

              You’re worried that Rush’s and Fox News are having an impact because they’re the only ones that aren’t objective? Are they the only ones telling lies? Ok–a dang thesis is in order for this one. I really can’t believe that you doubt that most of the large media outlets in the country have a left-leaning slant, which means doing things like were done to David Patreaus, and understating enemy atrocities, while talking about Gitmo for 6 years.

              The Left has to come up with more than Rush and Fox. Publishing companies too are notoriously left. And so on…

              The only explanation that I can come up with as to why you wouldn’t see the slant left, is because you agree with what they’re saying.

            • kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:20 am

              75%-85% of media outlets seem Left to me. Reactions please.

            • magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:25 am

              Yup

            • T. J. Babson said, on June 2, 2009 at 6:56 am

              There is no question the media love Obama, and there is plenty of numerical evidence to back it up. Even the late night comics are reluctant to make jokes about him.

              The Obama Infatuation
              By Robert Samuelson

              WASHINGTON — The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment; but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.

              Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don’t provide effective opposition. And the press — on domestic, if not foreign, policy — has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.

              Obama has inspired a collective fawning. What started in the campaign (the chief victim was Hillary Clinton, not John McCain) has continued, as a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows. It concludes: “President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House.”

              The study examined 1,261 stores by The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, Newsweek magazine and the “NewsHour” on PBS. Favorable stories (42 percent) were double the unfavorable (20 percent) , while the rest were “neutral” or “mixed.” Obama’s treatment contrasts sharply with coverage in the first two months of the presidencies of Bush (22 percent of stories favorable) and Clinton (27 percent).

              Unlike Bush and Clinton, Obama received favorable coverage in both news columns and opinion pages. The nature of stories also changed. “Roughly twice as much of the coverage of Obama (44 percent) has concerned his personal and leadership qualities than was the case for Bush (22 percent) or Clinton (26 percent),” the report said. “Less of the coverage, meanwhile, has focused on his policy agenda.”

              When Pew broadened the analysis to 49 outlets — cable channels, news Web sites, morning news shows, more newspapers and National Public Radio — the results were similar, despite some outliers. No surprise: MSNBC was favorable, Fox was not. Another study, released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, reached parallel conclusions.

              The infatuation matters because Obama’s ambitions are so grand. He wants to expand health care subsidies, tightly control energy use and overhaul immigration. He envisions the greatest growth of government since Lyndon Johnson. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal spending in 2019 at nearly 25 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). That’s well up from the 21 percent in 2008, and far above the post-World War II average; it would also occur before many baby boomers retire.

              Are his proposals practical, even if desirable? Maybe they’re neither? What might be unintended consequences? All “reforms” do not succeed; some cause more problems than they solve. Johnson’s economic policies, inherited from Kennedy, proved disastrous; they led to the 1970s’ “stagflation.” The “war on poverty” failed. The press should not be hostile; but it ought to be skeptical.

              Mostly, it isn’t. The idea of a “critical” Obama story is a tactical conflict with congressional Democrats or criticism from an important constituency. Larger issues are minimized, despite ample grounds for skepticism.

              Obama’s rhetoric brims with inconsistencies. In the campaign, he claimed he would de-emphasize partisanship — and also enact a highly-partisan agenda; both couldn’t be true. He got a pass. Now, he claims he will control health care spending even though he proposes more government spending. He promotes “fiscal responsibility” when projections show huge and continuous budget deficits. Journalists seem to take his pronouncements at face value even when many are two-faced.

              The cause of this acquiescence isn’t clear. The press sometimes follows opinion polls; popular presidents get good coverage, and Obama is enormously popular. By Pew, his job performance rating is 63 percent. But because favorable coverage began in the campaign, this explanation is at best partial.

              Perhaps the preoccupation with the present economic crisis has diverted attention from the long-term implications of other policies. But the deeper explanation may be as straightforward as this: most journalists like Obama; they admire his command of language; he’s a relief after Bush; they agree with his agenda (so it never occurs to them to question basic premises); and they don’t want to see the first African-American president fail.

              Whatever, a great edifice of government may arise on the narrow foundation of Obama’s personal popularity. Another Pew survey shows that since the election both self-identified Republicans and Democrats have declined. “Independents” have increased, and “there has been no consistent movement away from conservatism, nor a shift toward liberalism.”

              The press has become Obama’s silent ally and seems in a state of denial. But the story goes untold: Unsurprisingly, the study of all the favorable coverage received little coverage.
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            • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 2, 2009 at 8:53 pm

              You are making a straw man of my view. MSNBC seems to be largely a cave of the Americanus Moonbaticus. I can’t even watch the station for more than 30 seconds-and I’m often branded as a liberal. CNN seems to be mostly middle of the road, with some left and some right folks. The big news operations have considerable internal variations in views-mainly because they have so many people.

              Journalists do tend to be Democrats, but an American Democrat is typically a moderate on the political scale. Actually, most Republicans tend to be moderate as well. America is generally a moderate, practical nation, with some very loud folks on either extreme. That helps explain our stability (well, aside from that civil war thing).

  3. T. J. Babson said, on May 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Mike,

    Here is an example of what Peters is talking about:

    http://www.daylife.com/photo/05uh8Up24L1U1?q=A+Palestinian+passed+out+from+tear+gas+fired+by+Israeli+troops

    This is an obviously staged photograph and blatant piece of propaganda.

    • magus71 said, on May 31, 2009 at 1:42 am

      That’s horrendous. “passed out from tear gas.” Right.

      But still clasping the symbolic key! Nothing, not even tear gas can make him release his grasp on hope….

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:28 pm

      One example doesn’t prove a sweeping generalization. What is needed, as with any generalization, is an adequate sample. I agree-some folks who are involved in the media are total lefties. Some are totally on the right. But proper generalizations don’t deal with the vivid extremes but with proper samples.

  4. kernunos said, on May 31, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Oh hey look at this. I think Israel gets the left swinging media against them as much as me do.

    http://www.zombietime.com/reuters_photo_fraud/

    • magus71 said, on May 31, 2009 at 1:20 pm

      Maybe even more. They’re a lefty punching bag since the 70s.

    • magus71 said, on May 31, 2009 at 1:23 pm

      Yup. There was a full-on media propaganda blitz against Israel in that war. That’s why i said during the recent clashes with Hamas, that the best thing to do is to win the war quickly. Then the media gets bored and goes onto other “atrocities”.

      In order to win quickly, you must hit and hit hard. Otherwise the media may help ensure you don’t win at all, such as happened in the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

  5. kernunos said, on May 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I know you don’t want to look for the proof Mike but it is almost limitless. We have been over this before. I could post at least 20-30 articles and videos before tomorrow with ease. that would be without even breaking a sweat. The fact remains too that they have admitted that they are biased multiple times and these are the major media outlets. The majority is the fact. Just because you are in denial and choose not to do the footwork does not mean the proof is not there.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 31, 2009 at 7:58 pm

      I’m not denying anything. I’m just calling for an adequate study on a large scale. I’m mainly just curious. I’ve written elsewhere about media bias, so I won’t recap it here. I just presented what I teach in my critical thinking class about media bias and the factors impacting what we see in the news and how it is presented. My main point is to regard the media claims with a critical eye. After all, the media is there to make money-that is their overwhelming potential bias.

      As such, the media folks main weak point is that they will put out there what they think people will watch. So Fox and Rush talk right and MSNBC talk left. When I am feeling cynical, I think they are mainly just branding (Fox vs MSNBC being like Coke vs. Pepsi) and appealing to a market. That is, they are good capitalists and making a buck. :)

  6. kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:18 am

    By the way, this site sucks when it comes to lining up replies with posts.

  7. magus71 said, on June 2, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Read THE FOREVER WAR, by Dexter Filkins.

    No, it’s not an apology for America or the invasion of Iraq. Filkins is a journalist for the New York Times, so everyone can do the math on his beliefs. But he is a great writer. I’m fully willing to give a person a chance even if he doesn’t agree with me on some things.

    (By the way, as is usual, I think we’re focusing on the things we don’t agree on, while there is much more that we do. I’ve never been for the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents. But I’m also willing to say that al-Qaeda started all this, not us. ) And do I wish we hadn’t invaded Iraq? Yes. But I also understand why it happened, and the Democrats that supported it when the polls showed 75% public backing, but now want to wash their hands as if they’re Pontius Pilate, well, they can kiss my butt.

    As happens, off subject. Anyway, people should really read THE FOREVER WAR and/or MOMENT OF TRUTH IN IRAQ. One is written by a former soldier who was there in the fighting as a journalist, and the other is written by an award winning journalist who was right in the middle of the Battle of Fallujah and saw with his own eyes what our troops are like. We already know right from wrong. We just need meddling politicians to let us kill the enemies of the United States when they send us into a fight. We want to come home to our families, not be sacrificed on the alter of a morality that only protects our enemies.

  8. T. J. Babson said, on June 2, 2009 at 6:55 am

    There is no question the media love Obama, and there is plenty of numerical evidence to back it up. Even the late night comics are reluctant to make jokes about him.

    The Obama Infatuation
    By Robert Samuelson

    WASHINGTON — The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment; but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.

    Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don’t provide effective opposition. And the press — on domestic, if not foreign, policy — has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.

    Obama has inspired a collective fawning. What started in the campaign (the chief victim was Hillary Clinton, not John McCain) has continued, as a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows. It concludes: “President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House.”

    The study examined 1,261 stores by The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, Newsweek magazine and the “NewsHour” on PBS. Favorable stories (42 percent) were double the unfavorable (20 percent) , while the rest were “neutral” or “mixed.” Obama’s treatment contrasts sharply with coverage in the first two months of the presidencies of Bush (22 percent of stories favorable) and Clinton (27 percent).

    Unlike Bush and Clinton, Obama received favorable coverage in both news columns and opinion pages. The nature of stories also changed. “Roughly twice as much of the coverage of Obama (44 percent) has concerned his personal and leadership qualities than was the case for Bush (22 percent) or Clinton (26 percent),” the report said. “Less of the coverage, meanwhile, has focused on his policy agenda.”

    When Pew broadened the analysis to 49 outlets — cable channels, news Web sites, morning news shows, more newspapers and National Public Radio — the results were similar, despite some outliers. No surprise: MSNBC was favorable, Fox was not. Another study, released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, reached parallel conclusions.

    The infatuation matters because Obama’s ambitions are so grand. He wants to expand health care subsidies, tightly control energy use and overhaul immigration. He envisions the greatest growth of government since Lyndon Johnson. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal spending in 2019 at nearly 25 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). That’s well up from the 21 percent in 2008, and far above the post-World War II average; it would also occur before many baby boomers retire.

    Are his proposals practical, even if desirable? Maybe they’re neither? What might be unintended consequences? All “reforms” do not succeed; some cause more problems than they solve. Johnson’s economic policies, inherited from Kennedy, proved disastrous; they led to the 1970s’ “stagflation.” The “war on poverty” failed. The press should not be hostile; but it ought to be skeptical.

    Mostly, it isn’t. The idea of a “critical” Obama story is a tactical conflict with congressional Democrats or criticism from an important constituency. Larger issues are minimized, despite ample grounds for skepticism.

    Obama’s rhetoric brims with inconsistencies. In the campaign, he claimed he would de-emphasize partisanship — and also enact a highly-partisan agenda; both couldn’t be true. He got a pass. Now, he claims he will control health care spending even though he proposes more government spending. He promotes “fiscal responsibility” when projections show huge and continuous budget deficits. Journalists seem to take his pronouncements at face value even when many are two-faced.

    The cause of this acquiescence isn’t clear. The press sometimes follows opinion polls; popular presidents get good coverage, and Obama is enormously popular. By Pew, his job performance rating is 63 percent. But because favorable coverage began in the campaign, this explanation is at best partial.

    Perhaps the preoccupation with the present economic crisis has diverted attention from the long-term implications of other policies. But the deeper explanation may be as straightforward as this: most journalists like Obama; they admire his command of language; he’s a relief after Bush; they agree with his agenda (so it never occurs to them to question basic premises); and they don’t want to see the first African-American president fail.

    Whatever, a great edifice of government may arise on the narrow foundation of Obama’s personal popularity. Another Pew survey shows that since the election both self-identified Republicans and Democrats have declined. “Independents” have increased, and “there has been no consistent movement away from conservatism, nor a shift toward liberalism.”

    The press has become Obama’s silent ally and seems in a state of denial. But the story goes untold: Unsurprisingly, the study of all the favorable coverage received little coverage.
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    Copyright 2009, Washington Post Writers Group
    Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/06/01/the_obama_infatuation_96768.html at June 02, 2009 – 05:27:12 AM PDT

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 2, 2009 at 9:01 pm

      I agree-Obama had it easy. In many ways, he still does. He is, in some ways, a celebrity president. A star. As such, he tends to get treated a bit like a star.

  9. Kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    “Tells all what?”

    The slant on the information tells us whether the source is Left/Middle/Right. You said it requires a different study. I think it is one and the same.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

      I still think we need a proper study. I’d like to see clear definitions and standards for sorting out right, left, and moderate. Also, a clear measure of bias would be useful. What I often see is the usual: “bias” = “saying something I do not agree with.”

      Also, I think it is more useful to focus on the breakdown of alleged bias rather than people making sweeping generalizations about “the media”-as if it were a collective entity with a monolithic approach. I doubt this would be done, but a political spectrum ID system might be nice. Sort of like how food is labeled.

  10. Kernunos said, on June 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    http://www.businessinsider.com/nbc-brass-doesnt-like-all-the-obama-bashing-on-cnbc-2009-4

    CNBC was told to cut it out. The problem was they were actually saying it as they saw it. They are economic analysts and what Obama did and is doing with the economy is insane. Then the owner of GE who also owns CNBC didn’t like it and wanted it to stop. Seems that GE has a conflict of interest if they are pressuring their ‘unbiased’ analysts on what to say and what not to say. GE is looking to get huge money from the stimulus package because of their technologies.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:42 am

      So, the folks at GE are pro-Obama liberals who want to make piles of money through capitalism? :) Or are they just folks who want to use the system to make piles of money? If so, are they not just working the free market to make money? Isn’t that what capitalists are supposed to do? You would not advocate regulating them on this, would you?

      • kernunos said, on June 3, 2009 at 7:09 pm

        Don’t bring out the ‘straw man’ “Conservatives don’t want ANY regulation” crap again. It is getting tiring.

        “”So, the folks at GE are pro-Obama liberals who want to make piles of money through capitalism? :) Or are they just folks who want to use the system to make piles of money? If so, are they not just working the free market to make money? Isn’t that what capitalists are supposed to do? You would not advocate regulating them on this, would you?””

        It is a conflict of interest Mike and is unethical at best and may be breaking some laws. Insider trading is bad too Mike. I’ll state this one more time to make my stance clear on regulation. There must be enough regulation in place to protect all parties in a business transaction but not too much as to needlessly hinder the transaction or make it less than useful to even make the transaction. It really is very simple.

        We the tax payers are a part of this transaction or have you forgot about that? GE is pressuring their own news outlets to basically not do their job to protect their own GE big money making interests. This is bordering on passive aggressive propaganda if their could be such a thing. Suppression of free speech through a proxy maybe?

        ..and yes, the owner of GE is a Democrat. Financial oppurtunity has made him very ‘Green’. No pun intended…..well, maybe.

  11. kernunos said, on June 3, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Here is another bit of proof of left leaning by the majority of media. Look what happened at about the same time the Abortionist was killed recently.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,524139,00.html

    What got 100 times more airtime? Which story if presented shows a Left slant and which one shows a Right Slant?

  12. kernunos said, on June 4, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I have recently made three posts that have not been placed in here. Two had one link and another did not have one?

  13. kernunos said, on June 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    “In other words, they see Obama not as the parody created by the far right, but as he actually is: a politician with progressive values but moderate instincts who has hewed to the middle of the road in dealing with the economic crisis, health care, Guantanamo and the war in Afghanistan.”

    Maybe they just question why he said just the opposite or promised just the opposite to get their votes. Maybe they are angry because he has not done what they wanted him to.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 5, 2009 at 10:39 am

      Some folks on the left are a bit upset. They no doubt thought that Obama was what the right wing folks said he is: a loony lefty. But, Obama seems to be a moderate and a practical politician.

    • kernunos said, on June 5, 2009 at 11:59 am

      We shall see Mike. With foreign policy he does not seem Left but that is usually the way. Foreign policy does not count for me. They both start wars and put in each others’ shoes they would say similar things. Nationalizing banks and getting 60% of GM for the government is not even close to center though. Spending this money is not even close to Conservative if you want to align Right with Conservative. His domestic social policies and economic policies will tell the tale. So far I think he has been left. You may not know when listening to a speech but the reality is showing it.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 5, 2009 at 4:58 pm

        I do disagree with his approach to the economic crisis; but I am operating from a state of ignorance. Of course, I am in excellent company here-does anyone really know what is going on and how to fix it?

        Well, if conservative means small spending, then our last conservative President was Clinton.

      • kernunos said, on June 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm

        Oh, I agree just as I said that Bush spent too much. It is taken to an exponential level now though. Oh, and I definitely could turn the economy around faster. Cut needless spending, trim the government payrolls, cut capital gains taxes, cut corporate income taxes, don’t take over private industries with the federal government and start going for our own resources while working on alternative energy sources. I certainly know my plan would work better.

  14. kernunos said, on June 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    These are the moonbats we need to deal with Mike from the major media outlets. I don’t think anyone ever compared George Bush, Sr. or Jr., to God.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=95a_1244258652

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 7, 2009 at 8:29 am

      No, but Harris said that “God is the one who chooses our rulers” when talking about George Bush. I guess God decided to stop picking our rulers and came down in the form of Obama to run the show.

  15. kernunos said, on June 8, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Here is how clear us conservatives see things with biased media. This is fairly common though usually not so blatant.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2009/06/08/quick-take-evan-thomas-vs-evan-thomas

    I’ll have more proof as it comes in. Oh, and Time has had Obama on its cover 17 times. Were any of them negative?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on June 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm

      A lack of negativity does not entail bias.

      • kernunos said, on June 9, 2009 at 9:52 pm

        Mike, to say one thing is his job under one president and to say the opposite is his job under another shows clear bias. He would lick the kernels from Obama’s butt from the sounds of it.


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