Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Grey Lady

Ah, the New York Times, a joy to read because of its excellent pre-Iraq reporting on WMDs journalistic ethics separation of the news pages and editorial opinion fluid, natural phrasing:

“The effect of the Fed’s action has been limited to the megabanks and larger financial institutions,” said by telephone Hirokazu Kubo, a credit market analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking in Singapore. He said smaller financial companies would continue to struggle.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Gods in America

The treatment of Clinton's wins in Ohio and Texas in the press is a good illustration of how vapid and self-serving the media can be.

Here are the relevant facts. Obama and Clinton came out of Super Tuesday essentially tied. Several of the states that followed Super Tuesday were favorable to Obama (but not all of them - Wisconsin and Maine were supposed to be Clinton states). Everyone knew that Obama was going to rack up some wins, though. Everyone also knew that Ohio and Texas were unfavorable to Obama, the former because of its aging white population, and the latter because of the Hispanic vote. As Obama won state after state by huge margins, the press coverage was naturally good for him. Clinton stopped acknowledging that Obama was winning states, but most people were aware of it. Her "firewall" was her ability to match his victories in small states with victories in big states. The only problem, of course, is that she barely won Texas and only won by 10 points in Ohio. That's an impressive victory, but Obama racked up 30-plus point victories during his 11-win streak, and now Clinton's "win" isn't even close to adequate to make up the difference.

And so the genius move on the part of the Clinton campaign was to pull a play from the conservative playbook and start talking about how biased the media is. Now, what's brilliant about this is that it's true that some members of the media probably like Obama more than they like Clinton, and the coverage sometimes reflects this. Whether the media's overall coverage, as opposed to the sentiments of certain members of the media, actually favors Obama is questionable. However, in general the press reacts to these charges not with introspection but with blind pro-Clinton coverage in an attempt to prove their fairness. They care less about being fair than about seeming fair. When Republicans pull this maneuver, seeming fair means taking Republican talking points at face value while aggressively attacking Democrats. This gave rise to the famous joke that if the Republicans argue that the world is flat, the media will cover the story with the headline, "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ."

With Clinton, the media's over-compensation means that her failure to catch up to Obama in Ohio and Texas will be covered not as a loss but as a game-altering win. I could write at length about why this narrative serves the needs of the media more than it serves the truth, but just consider the New York Times as an example. Today we learn that "After appearing nearly invincible last week, Barack Obama now faces questions about whether he can win states vital to a Democratic victory in November."

This is just about as ridiculous as "Shape of the Earth: Views Differ." Obama and Clinton have basically traded swing states, with Obama winning Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin and Clinton winning Ohio. Meanwhile, Obama gets a lot of his support from swing voters within those swing states, while Clinton is able to turn out hardcore Democratic voters who are, if you believe the media, supporting her for the same reasons they will vote Republican in the fall, denying Obama key states. But now suddenly it's Obama who can't win the states he would need for a victory in November.

And here's the crazy part. All of this reasoning, which is completely fucked in its own right, is the result of smaller-than-needed wins in states that are practically designed to be favorable to Clinton. What about Wisconsin makes it possible for Obama to get a 17% victory there while Clinton can only get a 10% victory in Ohio? Both states were considered Clinton-friendly until Obama won easily in one while Clinton won by a much smaller margin in the other.

I'm fairly sure the gods are out to destroy me, because they are driving me fucking crazy with this shit.