Thursday, April 21, 2005

In USA Today, Prof Complains About "Me-Tooism," Then Commits It

In an April 19 op-ed piece in USA Today, Rutgers University professor Ross Baker complained about Democratic "me-tooism" -- what he called the desire of some Democrats to "emulate Republicans in everything but name."

Then, ironically, he emulated some Republicans, repeating a well-worn myththat former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey was prevented from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he opposes abortion rights.

In the piece, "Soul-Searching within the Democratic Party," Baker writes: Democratic me-tooism can be seen in the efforts by some Democrats to seek out pro-life candidates such as Bob Casey Jr., son of the late governor of Pennsylvania, who was snubbed at the 1992 Democratic convention for his pro-life views."

As reported on JABBS and elsewhere, Casey was denied a speech at the 1992 convention because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. At least eight speakers who opposed abortion rights spoke at that convention, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Sens. John Breaux (D-LA) and Howell Heflin (D-AL). The same has held true at subsequent conventions, in 1996, 2000 and 2004.

Baker isn't some faux Democrat. He served on the staffs of Senators Walter F. Mondale (D-MN), Birch Bayh (D-IN), and Frank Church (D-UT), and more recently, he was a senior advisor to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

But he isn't doing the party any favors by repeating 13-year-old conservative myths.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am curious about something on this blog. The basic premise here is that there is no liberal bias to the news and in fact there is a conservative bias. And i assume that Jabbs assumes that people will assume a fiction as truth if repeated often enough.

Why do you think the media leans in this way? What would cause it to lean right overall. I dont get it. I can understand the argument that corporations run the news and therefore must be conservative but that has always been true and i find it hard to believe that fully explains it. What is the premise/rationale behind what you consider to be the truth.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

I can't speak for JABBS, but let me take a crack at this.

First, JABBS doesn't say that there's no liberal bias in the news. What he does say is the great conservative claim of LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS is ridiculous, because there is widespread conservative media bias, too.

The way I see it, conservatives need to claim "liberal media bias" as a way to ensure that they get equal billing for their ideas and objectives. The mainstream media cowers in fear of being identified as left-leaning, so you get a lot of he said/she said reporting, even when one side is fact-based and the other side is spin.

A recent example of that is the Schiavo tragedy. As JABBS wrote a few weeks back, an "alternate universe" was formed by the Joe Scarborough types, in which well-established medical facts were turned into opinions, and the discredited Dr. Hammesfahr was given equal billing for ideas that, in court testimony, he was unable to defend with evidence. That "alternative universe of facts" became the conservative position (that Schiavo wasn't really in a vegetative state, etc.), and was given a place in the mainstream media that it didn't deserve.

Another "alternative universe of facts" is what has called the "War Against Gore," which was the mainstream media's lazy use of conservative spin to tell and re-tell the Gore myth that he claimed to "invent the Internet" -- something he never said, or that he claimed to be the role model for the lead character in "Love Story," which the mainstream media made out to be a lie, when in fact author Erich Segal said it was true. Those "alternate facts" get repeated over and over -- JABBS has several examples just from the past few weeks.

It's not that the media leans left or right, I guess. It's that the media is prone to repeating myths and spin, even when the facts are readily available by doing homework, either on the Internet (Gore's original interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer is easy to Google, proving he never said "invented the Internet") or by Lexis/Nexis. I think too many journalists take things they are told by politicians and related groups, like think tanks, at face value, without considering whether it's spin.

The media is too often being driven by some very motivated conservatives, who are very adept at spinning things. It's easy to point out the distortions of an Ann Coulter, but it's harder to point out the distortions in the New York Times or Washington Post. It's easy for conservatives to yell "liberal media bias" and have it resonate. It's harder to convince people that conservative media bias exists, too. Conservatives are willing to concede talk radio and Fox News, but less likely to accept honest criticism of the other television news programs, let alone major newspapers.

There are several media criticism sites that appeal to me because they do the research to get the facts straight, and then show how the conservatives spin those facts, many times to the point where the spin replaces the original truth.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks-good analysis. the only thing i would say is that to be fair, there is no question that some news outlets (NYT comes to mind) often lean left or exagerrate left as well. i dont see them repeating things over and over but i do see it. But you did say it goes both ways which makes your assessment both accurate and fair.

i actually think that cable news or 24 hr news, while a positive phenomenon, has a negative side----the continous coverage of what otherwise would not be major news. schiavo comes to mind. scott petersen etc....

its sad when i think the guy who callthings best is a comedien, albeit an angry one. not jon stewart, who is in it for laughs often. I speak of Bill Maher.

4:23 PM  

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