July 29, 2010

Politico’s Roger Simon: Journolist Sullies ‘Holy Calling’ of Reporting

column_rogersimonRoger Simon’s Wednesday morning column (“Journolist veers out of bounds”), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.

Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon’s column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal “has been keeping him up nights, and he’s especially frustrated that ‘the right’ would use it as ‘a sledgehammer’ against everyday journalists, ‘those of us who don’t practice advocacy journalism.’”

I’ll suggest that Simon’s rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd’s reaction, in that it’s laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):

… when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)

We really believed we were doing good. We informed the public and helped make democracy work. We exposed wrongdoing wherever we found it. (2)

… We were proud. We felt — I am just going to go ahead and say it — honorable.

There were wrongdoers. Fakers, plagiarists, those with private agendas who wished to slant the news. When found, they were often fired. Even when they were subjected to a lesser punishment, their sins were made clear as a lesson to the rest of us. (3)

Somewhere along the way, things have gone terribly wrong. Journalism has become a toy, an electronic plaything. I do not blame technology. (4)


(1) — I’m really tempted to give Simon a pass on the “holy calling” characterization. After all, doing any job well, no matter what it is or how the public perceives, is a “holy calling.” But holiness is a religious and a decidedly non-secular concept. Previous Media Research Center studies have shown that journalists in general aren’t just indifferent to religion. All too often, they’re openly hostile to it, as seen in Tim Graham’s 2006 report, “The Trashing of the Christ,” where he concluded:

Network television news stars may boast at seminars that they are tough on everyone, “without fear or favor,” but in real life, their devotion to secularism is almost religious in its intensity.

Especially since several surveys have shown that “Between 6 and 8 percent (of journalists) attended religious services regularly, a tiny fraction of the corresponding rate for the public at large,” I’m entitled to a high degree of confidence that Simon’s “holy calling” characterization is not religion-based. Absent contrary evidence, Simon’s free pass is revoked. In any event, even if Simon is religious, the vast majority of his professional colleagues aren’t. Thus, his use of the word “holy” is wholly out of bounds.

(2) — I’ll supply just a sample here of wrongdoing found or suspected and not exposed or investigated:

  • I’m still waiting for the hard-hitting coverage of blatantly obvious wrongdoing in the management of Barack Obama’s campaign donations made via plastic in 2008.
  • I’m holding on for someone, anyone, to get out the year-by-year details, with the names of the people who orchestrated it and the dollar amounts involved, of the 15-year campaign of mortgage quality misrepresentation to the securities markets by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • On a very recent matter, I’m wondering when if ever we are going to find out whether Shirley and Charles Sherrod have actually done anything with their seven-figure Pigford settlement that would involve actual farming, or whether Mr. Sherrod’s infamous statement that “We must stop the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections” will be carried anywhere besides Fox News and center-right blogs.

Surely readers can supply a myriad of other examples.

(3) — Since their perpetration of the Rathergate phony documents scandal that was obviously ginned up and timed to have maximum impact on the 2004 presidential election, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes have been defended by people like Ted Koppel and others who should know better, and don’t.

(4) — It’s a good thing Simon doesn’t blame the existence of technology for the advent of Journolist. In proper historical perspective, as I showed last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) when the story first broke, story coordination by establishment journalists isn’t a recent tech phenomenon. Instead, it’s a time-honored tradition. Between the early 1990s and 2005, when Editor & Publisher exposed it and appeared not to recognize its impact, the Washington Post and New York Times shared at least their front-page headlines before putting them on paper. Someone should ask them if they’re still doing it today, and if it goes beyond headlines. The fact that WaPo was fine with having head Journolister Ezra Klein on board would seem to indicate that the words “journalism” and “ethics” don’t spend a lot of time together in conversations there.

All in all, because Simon is writing a column and not reporting straight news, his pathetic prose doesn’t quite rise (or actually sink) to the level of gems like the June 2008 item I called the “Worst AP Story Ever” (“Everything seemingly is spinning out of control”). But it’s pretty close.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters.org.


BizzyBlog Update: It looks like Shirley Sherrod might be using her and husband’s Pigford settlement money for a form of “farming” — i.e., harvesting more money from the legal system (“Sherrod to sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart”).

Reuters 2Q10 GDP Growth Consensus Estimate: +2.5% Annualized

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:14 pm



Additional noteworthy items at the link:


“We estimate real GDP grew at a below-consensus 2 percent pace in the second quarter. The report should feature solid growth in domestic demand but substantial trade drag and little if any boost from inventory accumulation.”

“The economy entered the second quarter with plenty of momentum, but exited with very little. We expect that growth in the third quarter will be slower than in the second.”

Looking back: Three months ago (April 27-28 meeting) an “upbeat” Fed predicted full-year growth of 3.5%.

With 1Q10 at 2.7%, 2Q10 at 2.5%, and 3Q10 lower than 2Q10 (say, 2.2%, which at the moment would seem to be optimistic), the fourth quarter would have to come in at something like an annualized +6.4% (factoring in compounding) for the Fed’s 3.5% prediction — again, about 90 days ago — to happen.

I don’t think so.

Related: From Zero Hedge yesterday —

Durable Goods Are Latest Economic Disappointment: June -1.0% Reading Is Largest Decline Since August 2009 (And Misses Consensus Of Course)

The June US durable goods order is the latest disappointment in a streak of poor macroeconomic data that started well over a month ago, and which will soon enough begin to impact not only GDP but also corporate earnings, as the macro double dip which is now firmly in place, makes it all too clear why companies have been miserly conserving cash. Durable Goods came at -1.0%, a major disappointment to consensus which had been hoping to a nice boost from the previous -1.1% number (now revised to -0.8%), and looking for a +1.0% reading. Better luck next time.

Sidebar: Something funny may be going on in manufacturing reporting. It will become clearer if this is or isn’t the case sometime next week. If it’s a legitimate possibility, you’ll see something here. If not, you won’t.

The Journolist Collection

From the Daily Caller, as links to current news and for future reference:


July 29Political operatives on Journolist worked to shape news coverage

Despite its name, membership in the liberal online community Journolist wasn’t limited to journalists. Present among the bloggers, reporters and editors were a number of professional political operatives, including top White House economic advisors, key Obama political appointees, and Democratic campaign veterans.

… Journolist founder Ezra Klein, a staffer at the Washington Post, says he “tried to be very strict” in making sure no active political operatives joined Journolist. “It’s possible I missed someone,” he explained in an email.

In fact, he did. Jeff Hauser wrote scores of posts on Journolist during the time he was managing the New Jersey (campaign of a congressman).

… Jared Bernstein, meanwhile, worked as an unpaid surrogate for Barack Obama during much of the campaign. All the while, he remained a member of Journolist. Even after the campaign ended, and he had joined the Obama administration, Bernstein continued his contact with the group.

July 28“Heroes of Journolist: Dan Froomkin, James Surowiecki, Jeffrey Toobin, Michael Tomasky — and founder Ezra Klein”

I’m less than impressed with the examples of “heroism” cited, given that the entire enterprise was devoted to news coordination and media agenda-setting.

Here’s a peripheral but revealing excerpt:

When MoveOn.org infamously called General David Petraeus a traitor with its “General Betray Us?” advertisement, many members of Journolist were livid with MoveOn. In their view, the ad was a public relations disaster for their side.

As then-Mother Jones (and now-Politico) reporter Laura Rozen put it, quoting a friend, the ad “‘accomplishes nothing: it preaches to the converted, persuades no one, and only serves to piss off the other side and make all Dems look bad.”

“Enough aiding and abetting the enemy! as Cheney says,” she added.

In other words, the MoveOn campaign wasn’t bad because it was wrong and fundamentally slanderous, it was bad because it was ineffective.

July 26“Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s first miscue’”

Palin’s alleged “miscue” was saying on September 8, 2008 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” According to Sam Stein “reporting” at HuffPo, this statement was a “gaffe” because Fan and Fred “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies.”

Yeah, this is the same Sam Stein who lied about the unavailability of local news archives at Palin’s hometown paper, which supposedly proved that John McCain didn’t adequately vet her; the reality is that over 900 articles going back 12 years were right there for everyone to see. An updated list here identifies Stein as a Journolist member.

Many Journolisters saw Palin’s statement as an example of “alarming ignorance.”

The real ignorance was at J-list. Palin was commenting on the September 7 news that Fan and Fred had been … wait for it … had been seized and bailed out by the government. In other words, they were already no longer operating “as private companies.” The seizure and bailout occurred because (duh) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.”

Nearly two years later, and after over $100 billion dollars of “taxpayer funding” with no end in sight, who’s “ignorant” now? The same people who were ignorant then.

July 26“Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s Downs child’”

The subject was whether Palin is really Trig’s mom. The link is to the third page, where this quote from the oh-so-objective Kathleen Geier of Talking Points Memo can be found:

I am really hoping Palin will self-immolate and bring down the ticket with her. Because if she proves to be a popular choice who doesn’t screw up too badly, she could be really, really dangerous in the years to come.

July 26“Journolisters debate making coordination with Obama explicit”

(Sarah) Palin’s (Republican Convention) speech had been remarkably effective. This troubled members of Journolist. On Sept. 8, 2008, five days after Palin’s national debut, some members of the group discussed producing coordinated propaganda designed to wound Palin and boost Obama.

Luke Mitchell, then a senior editor at Harper’s magazine … (asked) “… Would it be a good use of this list to co-ordinate a message of the week along the lines of the GOP? Or is that too loathsome? It certainly sounds loathsome. But so does losing!”

July 25“The Fix was in: Journolist e-mails reveal how the liberal media shaped the 2008 election”

In a key episode, Journolist members openly plotted to bury attention on then-candidate Barack Obama’s controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman, for instance, suggested an effective tactic to distract from the issue would be to pick one of Obama’s critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Conservative critics of Washington’s journalistic establishment have long charged the media with a striking liberal bias. But those critics have also said the problem was mostly unintentional, the result of a press corps made up mostly of Democratic-leaning scribes.

Yet Journolist’s discussions show an influential left-wing faction of the media participating in a far more intentional sort of liberal bias.

July 21“Liberal journalists suggest government censor Fox News”

In the summer of 2009, agitated citizens from across the country flocked to town hall meetings to berate lawmakers who had declared support for President Obama’s health care bill. For most people, the protests seemed like an exercise in participatory democracy, rowdy as some of them became.

On Journolist, the question was whether the protestors were garden-variety fascists or actual Nazis.

… The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.

Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”

“Law professor” Zasloff apparently doesn’t understand that Fox doesn’t have a “broadcasting permit” from the FCC. Individual TV stations have broadcasting licenses.

July 20 — “Documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright”

According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

July 21“Meet the new Journolist, smaller than the old journolist”

It’s called “Cabalist.”

Positivity: Canadian Anglican Catholic group votes to unite with Rome

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:33 am

From Vancouver:

Jul 28, 2010 / 01:10 am

With “overwhelming support,” a recent meeting of leaders in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) voted to unite with the Roman Catholic Church through the Apostolic Constitution created by Pope Benedict XVI.

The ACCC, part of the Continuing Anglican Movement, is made up of more than two dozen congregations. Its Eighth Provincial Synod and Thirteenth Diocesan Synod were held simultaneously at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Center in Surrey, British Columbia.

The website VirtueOnline.org published a letter from Dean Shane B. Janzen detailing the event.

The meeting was attended by four ACCC bishops, including Bishop Peter Wilkinson, the communion’s Metropolitan and Ordinary. Archbishop John Hepworth, the Australia-based Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), was also present.

The discussion included the House of Clergy and the House of Laity and focused on the implementation of a proposed Canadian Anglican Catholic Ordinariate under the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Support for the Ordinariate was unanimous in the House of Clergy and received 25 of 30 votes from lay delegates, with two members opposing the proposal and three abstaining.

The synod then passed a resolution enabling Bishop Wilkinson, with the advice and consent of the Provincial Council, to enact the necessary canonical ordinances and rules to establish the Ordinariate. …

Go here for the rest of the story.