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6/3/01


 

YOU COME HERE WITH A MIND FULL OF MUSH -
AND YOU LEAVE A JOURNALIST

By David Podvin

Or is it the other way around?

KATHARINE Q. (KIT) SEELYE
New York Times Staff Writer
November 3, 2000  

   The vice president never allowed that Mr. Bush’s comment might have been a slip of the tongue or a poorly worded thought, instead milking the idea that it was just plain dumb…

Professor’s Note - “Milking the idea” is not a journalistic phrase, Kitten. It is a snide observation that ethical newspapers confine to the opinion section, so we’ll blame that one on your editors’ fondness for crack cocaine. However, your observation about Gore not giving his opponent the benefit of the doubt is subjective political commentary on your part. And when it is placed in context, it is establishes a new low in modern journalistic hypocrisy.

Less than a month earlier, it was you, Katherine Q., who led the mindless chorus of telepathic dissemblers in screaming that Gore’s mostly accurate anecdotes during the first debate proved that he was a “habitual liar”. Now, you have the gall to complain that he is not giving Bush the “benefit of the doubt” on false statements about major public policy. What happened to just reporting the facts? Why didn’t the Times assign someone who was less hostile to cover Gore? Wasn’t Karl Rove available?

   The grasping at Mr. Bush’s remarks…

Grasping – a verb evoking desperation, i.e., “grasping at straws”.

   Mr. Gore sprinkled his speech with Spanish phrases…wailing that Mr. Bush uses “mala matematica”.

Wailing – a high-pitched sound suggestive of a cry.

   He also made an appeal based on what he described as his hard work for the state — as if a debt were owed in return for his years of service.

He said that he had worked hard for them and that he thought he had earned their votes. Your deliberate misinterpretation of his comments (and why are you interpreting instead of reporting?) is that he was demanding payment for services rendered. You really hate this guy, don’t you?

   The vice president focused suddenly on one baby, bundled up in a pink snowsuit and held aloft by a man. "Hold your baby up one more time," Mr. Gore yelled out. "What is your baby's name?" he asked.

    The answer drifted back across the crowd, "Christina."

    "Let me tell you," Mr. Gore shouted. "This entire election is about Christina's future. Will we have the best schools? Will she have opportunity in her life?"

   Christina started to bawl.

The end of your story.

You’ve certainly learned that vignettes can be an extremely effective method for leaving the desired lasting impression. This story began with Vice President Gore criticizing Bush for making uninformed comments about Social Security. However, using your skill as an objective journalist who works for the most important newspaper in the world, you turned it into a story about how even infants have enough common sense to find Gore repulsive. You wrote this kind of sewage for an entire year, knowing that mainstream reporters base their coverage on what they read in the New York Times. And yet, after a year of your relentless anti-Gore propaganda, your favorite candidate still needed the Supreme Court to steal the election for him.

Your grades:
Propagandist: D
Journalist: F

Your Editors’ Grade: F-

THOMAS M. DeFRANK
New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief 
January 27, 2001

   Departing Gore staffers left obscene messages directed at President Bush on the walls of their offices and washrooms, well informed sources said yesterday.

A “journalist” who fails to verify facts because he assumes that his sources are “well-informed” leaves himself vulnerable to writing lies and hurting innocent people, not to mention demonstrating that he is incompetent.

   … extensive damage was found throughout the huge office complex, including slashed computer cords, overturned desks, mounds of garbage and pornographic material in some copying machines.

Did you ask to see the damage? Did you ask to see photographs of the damage? Did you ask to interview witnesses to the damage? Have you ever considered a career that involves manual labor?

   Nevertheless, the White House relentlessly soft-pedaled the vandalism, refusing to release estimates of property damage and denying that a formal investigation was underway. Press secretary Ari Fleischer downplayed his statement that aides were cataloguing the damage.

You have been played for a fool, my boy. Ordinarily, I would suggest that you view this as a painful learning experience. However, since I note that you have not had the integrity to issue a retraction or an apology, I feel compelled to insist that you find a vocation that is better suited to your skills:

Organ donor.

Your grades: 
Journalism: F
Integrity: F

SPECIAL CITATION FOR ACHIEVING BASIC COMPETENCE IN JOURNALISM
ANNE E. KORNBLUT
Boston Globe Columnist
May 28, 2001

   What made me suspicious was the fact that the White House wouldn’t give specific examples and wouldn’t say, on the record, that this happened here or that happened there. I made phone calls to people who told me it just wasn’t true. Also, there were no pictures, and they never seemed to say on the record, in public or at a press conference, here is what happened.

Annie, you are a normal sized person walking amongst pygmies.

Your Grades:
Journalism: Pass
Nonconformity: A+

CLAIRE SHIPMAN
ABC News
Good Morning, America
May 24, 2001

   School vouchers are extremely popular with parents, but the Democrats in Washington oppose them.

Statewide school voucher initiatives have been defeated twelve times in a row. As with your lemming-like coverage of the Gore campaign, your grades are a mixed bag.

Your Grades:
Hairstyle: A
Make-up: A
Journalism: F

George Will
ABC News
This Week
May 27, 2001

   George W. Bush won the vast majority of counties, so that resolves whether he is legitimate.

Your Grades:
Logic: F
Sophistry: C
Dishonesty: A

Podvin on the Media

Podvin, the Series

 


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