Kiss Off

Friday, September 05, 2008


At the Republican National Convention this week, politicians and their spokespeople levied harsh criticisms at the elitist, " left-wing" media. The main complaint seemed to be reporters' insistence on asking questions about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Will the media fall for it? Brooke and Bob weigh in.
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Comments [36]

A. from atlanta, georgia

"At what point does an extreme attempt to de-legitimate the press actually de-legitimate the candidate as an extremist in the eyes of the press? If the McCain campaign says ( the Times is not a legitimate news source why does the Times have to treat McCain as a legitimate candidate?"
> E.J. Dionne: ( "The McCain campaign just doesn't want anyone to call them out on anything. It hopes to intimidate reporters and discredit those who try to give an honest account of the campaign."

Sep. 23 2008 01:34 PM
John R from Virginia

More people study how the questions are asked, and how they are answered instead of the actual question and answer. More questions are good, but I think either people don't understand the question, or the answer so they rather watch the reactions. Both ways. I saw a lot of editing in the video that ABC aired last night. It looked like two very uncomfortable people thrown in a pit. Lets ask the same questions to all the candidates, with less editing.

Sep. 12 2008 02:53 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Considering the topic of the day yesterday (the pig with lipstick line) the "Kiss off" headline seems almost clairvoyant.

What really bothers me is that when Mrs. Palin answers questions from the press for the first time, the interviewer will be someone I view as entirely incompetent. (My 92-year old roommate insists on watching him.)

When the House voted to condemn the Turks for the genocide of Armenians at the beginning of the last century (a little late) last autumn, he said they killed 1.5 million Americans! I’m guessing he misread the teleprompter, but was too vain to wear his glasses and too proud to correct the error.

Both yesterday and tonight he said scientist at CERN were trying to discover how the world began with yesterday’s accelerator experiment when any educated person (heck, I’m only a high school graduate) knows the Big Bang Theory is an attempt to describe how the universe began, not the planet. Here, I’m guessing he was avoiding offence to Palin’s Creationist supporters.

My problem with the press isn’t so much about liberal or conservative biases. (There are plenty of both out there.) It is stupidity.

Sep. 11 2008 05:41 AM
David Rowe from Lawrenceville, NJ


No one has a problem with questions. PLEASE ask Sarah Pallin question after question.

The issue for many is why the media want to look behind the mask of the "super hero" (great!) but never use their backstage pass to find out who the "rock star" is. The media – those that have said they "Can't help but be inspired!" by Obama – should be embarrassed that Bill O'Reilly is getting more details out of Obama in 20 minutes of a single interview than the rest of the media did collectively over the last year and a half. I guess they didn't feel they had to have any "temerity" to look into his background – they read it in his own book.

If you doubt that smears exist, and that this is not just about reporters asking questions, when a headline screams "Babies, Lies and Scandal" on a Jann Wenner scandal sheet, and the lies, well...., they really didn’t have any that she told, only lies about her... well, that would be a smear.

So no, no one has anything against reporting, Bob. We only wish they'd "stand tall" iin Chicago, too.

Sep. 09 2008 05:09 PM
Rita from Washington DC

Bob's sneering about Ms. Palin was too much to take. Hey Bob, didja check if Campbell Brown asked Axelrod this aggressively about Obama's experience within one week of him declaring his candidacy? When I read articles by Arianna Huffington, Maureen Dowd, Peggy Noonan, Sally Quinn and Gloria Steinem or listen to Campbell Brown, Andrea Mitchell, Brook Gladstone, Rene Montaigne and others of the MSM sisterhood, it really brings home the expression, "the female of the species is deadlier than the male". But only towards other women it seems.

Sep. 09 2008 05:06 PM
Jack from Chicago

Republicans are hardly the only ones who have been complaining about their treatment by the media. Nobody whined more than Hillary, and when she wasn't whining she was crying. Shameless allegations of sexism and favoritsm were a constant diatribe of Clinton and her supporters. It didn't work.

If there is one thing Clinton and Palin supporters can agree on, it's that the media has picked its favorite and it's not them. There are no doubts about where Bob is either.

Sep. 09 2008 09:51 AM
Carolyn from Montana

NPR's defensive response to the charges of media bias against Sarah Palin only served to bolster the perception and reality of liberal "in the tank" support of Obama. It would do well for the media to honestly recognize their deficiencies rather than trying to cover up by contemptuously reacting to valid criticisms.
By the way, tone of voice in "On The Media" tends to reveal exactly how much disdain and disgust the narrators have for the Republican ticket. Clearly, this program operates on the premise that everyone will agree with the hosts.

Sep. 08 2008 08:21 PM
janis from Oakdale, CA

Dear Paul Morado:

You say:
"WE dont need a President that will run the country like Detroit.

And why dont you talk about the murder rate in Chicago? I think the is Obamas city?"

With that brilliant logic, you might also say "George W. Bush allowed over 4000 service men and women be killed in an immoral war. Bush is a WASP male, as is John McCain, thus McCain will do the same."

Or the rest of us could apply your logic and say "All men from NE Ohio are stupid."

Sep. 08 2008 04:32 PM
Todd from Philadelphia

Right on Marianne, Wendy and Bert!

"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." -Thomas Jefferson

The point is to learn about each candidate from credible sources, not just the convention speeches and campaign press releases. If the stories are not valid, they'll fade from mainstream and/or recede to the partisan blogs.

Furthermore, there is no "liberal media." The media is far too vast and factional to be defined by a single ideology. Check out the painfully non-partisan, if you want an easy way to distinguish the nuggets from the chaff.

BTW- If you want the truth about Michelle's raise, check the 09/27/06 archives from the Chicago Tribune or USA Today,

Overall, The Tribune was pretty even-handed, essentially condemning the amount, but qualifying that it was in line with others in similar positions within the organization. Of course, that explanation doesn't "sound bite" very well. (I would have linked, but the URLs were far too long.)

Sep. 08 2008 03:58 PM
Jack RIce from Long Beach, California

As narcissists, the media's favorite subject is themselves. I was amused when one of the crews outside the RNC tried to flash their press cards, expecting the police to kowtow, and the Red Sea to part. The media, particularly the news media, think they are a breed apart, privileged, immune to constraints imposed on lesser mortals, with their "I'm the press, move out of the way". So, my reaction to arrogant scumbags getting their comeuppance in the back of a paddy wagon is pure schadenfreude.

Then there's the clown who narrated the piece about the grilling of Sarah Palin's spokesman, over his candidates foreign policy experience, which resulted in charges by the RNC of attack journalism. He described the relentless, hostile cross examination as "just questions," when it was obvious the "reporter" wasn't satisfied at letting the audience judge for themselves the response to the question, but would only relent when she could say, Aha, touché! I'm not sure what's more nauseating, her performance or the narrator's glib, self-serving depiction of it.

The press, despite their pompous depiction of themselves as "The Fourth Estate," are no more than institutionalized gossips. I'm not sure which is the better simile: like Kipling's Bandar-log, monkeys in trees, trumpeting their superiority as they fling down excrement on those below; or like maggots, occasionally useful, but on the whole, a loathsome presence.

By the way, I'm a Democrat who plans to vote Obama/Biden.

Sep. 08 2008 03:17 PM
Marianne from Georgia

My post is in response to Wendy's... I, too, was struck by the tone of the comments. Several years ago, the Univ. of MD conducted a study. "True or False," they asked a group of people who got their news primarily from Fox, CNN, or NPR. "In 2003, with the overwhelming support of the international community, the United States invaded Iraq and found weapons of mass destruction." NPR listeners made up the largest group of people who CORRECTLY replied "false" to this statement. As it was, I think the percentage who got it right was a shockingly low 33% (or something close to that). Looking at some of the viral canards that made it onto the comment section of this website, I guess OTM listeners helped make up the 67% of NPR listeners who answered "true" or "I don't know."

Sep. 08 2008 07:01 AM
Jay D

"Palin's given one speech and now can be in line for President??"

The irony of hearing this argument from an Obama supporter is just too delicious!

Sep. 08 2008 05:51 AM
Bert from North Carolina

I think it is very plausible that Republicans, with help from Karl Rove-type advisors, have a strategy to intimidate the media into backing off asking tough questions - like those relating to foreign policy experience, or lack thereof. Palin's given one speech and now can be in line for President??

What doesn't help is the 24-hour news cycle and competitive news organizations looking for a scoop. This can lead to "soap opera" journalism - entertainment versus educating the public with factual information relevant to running for these top jobs.

I think many more tough questions should damn well be asked about Sarah Palin's qualifications for VP and President - she's much less known and written about than the other three candidates, and has some troubling past actions, incorrect statements, and far right positions to explain.

If there are issues regarding Barack Obama that haven't been thoroughly vetted already in a long 18 months, then by all means ask those questions too.

Bottom line - what would Tim Russert do? We really miss and need him!

Sep. 08 2008 12:54 AM
Wendy from New Jersey

Wow! So much for NPR being a "liberal media outlet." I would say the comments on this story veer a bit further to the right so far. Just to make things a bit more balanced, I thought I would remind listeners/writers that many in this country were misled into supporting the war in Iraq in part because the media didn't ask the hard questions of those in power. I believe this was due to their reluctance to look too "liberal" and a direct result of the success of this old Republican tactic of attacking the press for being biased. (Do Republicans think Fox is biased, or is it only the NY Times and NPR?) The point is that it's the media's JOB to ask people uncomfortable questions, and we are at the mercy of party spinmeisters otherwise. Ms. Palin should have known full well what she and her family were getting into when she accepted the nomination. Didn't she watch Barak Obama's pastor get outed? I think that story was fully covered by the liberal east coast media also.

Sep. 07 2008 09:33 PM
Jay D

Governor Palin has been put through much more inquiry in one week than Senator Obama has in two years. Who among the media are asking the tough questions – ANY tough questions – about Tony Rezko, Michelle’s Magic Raise (from $100,000 to $300,000 after her hubby became a Senator and got her employer $1 million from Washington), William Ayers, Obama’s non-existent legislative record, etc. etc. Obama promises a new politics but wins both his elections by unsealing divorce records. Who has talked about that?

Sure there’s hypocrisy in the RNC, but the Democrats have more than their fair share. And the media tops the list.

The problem is that the media live in a bubble, surrounded by liberals who reinforce their world view. They don’t understand Gov. Palin because they don’t know anyone from her base.

Think of it; how many evangelical Christian friends do you have?

Sep. 07 2008 05:56 PM

Wow. Lots of comments about "liberal media."

McCain and Rove won THAT round, didn't they? The troops are up and waging the same old war against "media elites," and the media are, if anything, timid when it comes to the new superduperstar.

Sep. 07 2008 05:30 PM
Will from Phoenix, AZ

It's amazing how high and mighty the left wing NPR gets about being "journalists" when it comes to investigating every minutia of Palin's life yet Obama remains untouched.

Anybody at NPR looking ta the Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers that reveal Obama was in fact for a long time closely associated with unrepentant communist terrorist William Ayers? Obama lied, but does NPR investigate? How about his relationship with Frank Marshall Davis, another known Communist? ...Oh no, nothing to see here, move on...Let's check Palin's relatives driving records...

We've had more "good journalism " about Palin in one week than we've had about Obama in 19 months..

Sep. 07 2008 05:14 PM
David B.

Hey On The Media.

Now, I know we've been friends for a while-- gone on a couple dates, a drive up to Chicago or two... do you remember that one special night I fell asleep with you, while you were whispering into my ear those little nothings about historical revisionism?

Yeah. That was pretty nice.

But today, On The Media, you came to me with tears in your eyes. Turned out the big bad Republican Party had gone and called you and your friends some mean names. And then you started calling them names, too, On The Media. You, through your flashing anger and injured pride, began justifying your actions to me, began insulting Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin... and suddenly that little snarky streak I've always found so charming about you, well, it got a little too out of hand.

So On The Media, I want you to take a real deep breath here. You're going to have to learn to swallow your pride. Sure, the Republicans were mean to the press at the convention. That wasn't very nice of them. But complaining about it won't do you any good, either. What you need to do is just keep holding up your journalistic standards-- keep yourself calm, collected, and impartial. If you don't give them anything to make fun of, then they'll lose interest and move on to evolution.

I forgive you, On The Media. And I still love you.

Make me proud.

Sep. 07 2008 04:39 PM
Todd from Philadelphia

I think that Mr Obama's "questionable" activities have been exhaustively investigated and debated. It just can't be said that Obama hasn't been tested; are our memories that short? The media's attention to Obama has been covered by this show many, many times.

Furthermore, the recent introduction of a new, unknown and protected character (prior to her acceptance speech) is not necessarily an opportunity to rehash settled claims on others.

Let's have an open discussion around her entire background, which is necessary for candidates of national office. If there's no "there" there, the discussion will wither.

Sep. 07 2008 03:45 PM
Mark Smith from Oslo, Norway

I was pretty astounded at the level of denial and lack of self reflection that Bob in particular exhibited. Yes, press bashing is not new and no it is not surprising.

However the press (and Bob in this case) needs to be more introspective and less defensive. They are too often the story when a politician wants to make them the story, but when they get it wrong it usually fades as fast. This should give some at least a moment of pause.

A good example and one relevant to this story is one referenced by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Here is the quote from Moyer´s recent interview where she cited the hipocacy of journalist claiming McCain did not vet enough.

Bob, I think that your reaction was a little knee-jerk. There are mistakes made and the press does better to recognize them and learn from them rather than joining the snark and give no quarter gangs.

The search for the truth also means being truthful about untruths and bad journalism. It aint´t all good.

Sep. 07 2008 03:36 PM
Long Time Listener, First Time Poster

Your story is spot on, but I take issue with one phrase Bob used: "...strong BUT beautiful...." Do you mean to suggest a woman can't be strong AND beautiful?

Sep. 07 2008 03:15 PM

I don't recall OTM ticking off a list of Obama's questionable activities. Perhaps next week. And can't OTM do some basic confirmation before repeating nonsense like Palin banning books? I know OTM's stories generally support liberal views and demean conservative views, but can't you even try to present a more balanced perspective? In its current guise, I just can't take OTM seriously.

Sep. 07 2008 02:45 PM
Brian from Boston

Thank you, Bob, for this piece. This has all gone on far too long. It is no secret that newspapers and network news organizations often have biases (mostly depending on who pays the bills), but it is abhorrent to imply that the media is simply "liberal". Has anyone read an AP article lately? They stray pretty far from, to use the laughable Fox News phrase, "fair and balanced". Even CNN has become a place clogged with special interest stories that are neither special, interesting, nor neutral.

Simply put, it's nearly impossible to get news in this country that isn't influenced.

This all sets a horrible example for our children. The petty squabbling, name-calling and now being told that asking questions of any type is wrong. To be labeled as unpatriotic, sexist, or any other type of hateful person for reasons of wanting answers or, God forbid, the truth is going to prove to be terribly damaging for our country.

All sides are guilty of this. Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Sep. 07 2008 02:41 PM
Todd from Philadelphia

Of all the talk about the GOP VP candidate, I'm curious why I haven't heard or read the bigger story of the Bridge story in bigger news but especially on OTM.

Simply put, the governor was not even in office when the bridge funding was re-allocated. It was not her decision. Any claims otherwise are false. She didn't tell congress anything.

Here's a very comprehensive yet concise accounting by Bob Somerby.

Sep. 07 2008 02:12 PM
Greg Gaudet from Canada

I think it's time to play that piece that aired about a year ago regarding perceived media bias. I believe the item dealt with the exact same neutral stories being presented to Israelis and Palestinians. As a neutral observer in Canada I find it maddening that your press is reluctant to force the politicians to actually discuss policy. When did the motto of journalism become who
* Who?
* What?
* Where?
* When?
* Why?
* How?
* Will it make me /my news outlet look bad?

Sep. 07 2008 11:29 AM
Chuck Renaud from New York


McCain and the GOP really like to “borrow” Obama's ideas.

McCain is a bully, traitor, liar, adulterer and warmongering criminal.


Not so much.

Sep. 07 2008 10:16 AM
Greg Welch from Pewaukee, Wisconsin

The Republican Party has for years been running on anti-intellectualism, and the anti-media campaign is just one aspect of it. Over the years, they have also branched out against universities and public schools, science, and (if I'm not mistaken) libraries, declaring them all liberally biased. What it comes down to is, the Republican Party is saying it is the only source of the truth, and the only source of verifiers of the truth. It really is a form of totalitarian thought.

On The Media, I love you guys, and I thought your report was right on. I wish everyone would hear your stories.

Sep. 07 2008 10:08 AM
Paul Marado from NE Ohio

Obviously for you to cover a story as such, means you have taken notice of the liberal media bias.

Please cover Obama in the same negative way. Tell us about him and his wife. You are obviously not telling us something about them.

WE dont need a President that will run the country like Detroit.

And why dont you talk about the murder rate in Chicago? I think the is Obamas city?

Sep. 07 2008 08:53 AM
Connie Snyder from Henderson, Nevada

St. Paul looked like a war zone with storm troopers and barbed wire. Scores of journalists were arrested for trying to show the protests. The Republican Convention was closed to everyone but the faithful. America has a right to the truth. All of it. Hiding Palin from the public and hoping they can intimidate the fourth estate is indicative of a party with much to hide. The entire approach is all too reminiscent of closed societies such as China and Russia. Once again, the Republican's actions say much more than their fictitious and cynical words. Perhaps a brave portion of the media has decided to show some spine? Not a moment too soon. Great job WNYC, and thanks!

Sep. 07 2008 03:22 AM
John Hendrickson from Middletown, NJ

I recall during my school days we would say "he's not conceited, he's convinced." Well, the media is not liberal, it's convinced. Convinced it is actually unbiased and neutral in its reporting; and flabbergasted that anyone would think otherwise.

It is quite telling that immediately after Bob Garfiled indignant piece justifying Campbell Brown and the media in general as "just asking questions" there was a piece on polls which made the point that which questions were asked in polls influenced the outcome. Didn't Bob know his "just asking questions" was going to be shown to be the specious excuse it is? This is why when the media seems to be reading off of Democratic talking points it is apparrent where they are coming from. It is just hard to believe they do not see or know what they are doing.

BG may think he and his cohorts are neutral, but that is only because they do not view left wing ideology as anything other than what ought to be and the touchstone of what is right and wrong. They cannot see the demogoguery of democrats for what it is. They think it is merely factual analysis.

Sep. 06 2008 08:34 PM
jennie wheeler from florida

I do not understand why the media has not reported
on Joe Biden.Heis a plagarist, a liar and was withdrawn
for an earlier presidential campaign. It is scary.

Sep. 06 2008 07:53 PM
Ol' McCreedy from Virginia

Since you failed to provide both sides, though, here's an article for you and your listeners to contemplate.

Sep. 06 2008 04:42 PM
Ol' McCreedy from Virginia

No one has a problem with the media's asking questions. The problem is with the media homing in on her daughter's pregnancy and asking her if she can raise a family and be president--both of which are irrelevant, not to mention no one has questioned whether Obama can raise a family and be president, which constitutes media bias.

I assume you know better, but just ignored the distinction. Surely you don't want Obama to be elected so bad that you would mislead listeners?

Sep. 06 2008 04:40 PM
Steve from St. Paul

I live in St. Paul, less than two miles from the Xcel Center and just five blocks from where the I-Witness journalists were detained. I am now a lawyer, but I spent fifteen years as a newspaper journalist, most recently at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. So consider the source. But here goes ...

My neighbors and I are thrilled that the convention is over, that the tear gas has dissipated, and that the concrete barricades topped with chain-link fence are coming down. Downtown St. Paul looked like East Berlin for a week. The rabble-rousers who upset our city may very well deserve to be prosecuted for inciting riots, but if even one journalist is charged with a crime for documenting the worst civil unrest in St. Paul history, this would be a travesty.

I blogged about this issue at The issue is not whether journalists deserve special treatment and a license against criminal prosecution, but rather whether there is probable cause to believe that any journalist, mainstream or not, has committed a crime. At this point, the answer to that question appears to be a resounding no.

Sep. 06 2008 04:32 PM
David from Rhode Island

Yes, the questions about her policy choices while campaigning and while in office, executive decisions as mayor and governor, and similar lines of questioning are very fair. Same with questions about her experience level, as they are for Obama. But questions regarding her pregnant daughter and how she would handle life as a VP with school age children, one with Down Syndrome, seem archaic and intrusive. She is married, after all. Maybe he will stay with the kids. Maybe they will hire more help. Maybe some combination of the two. I would bet you that life as governor is actually busier than life as VP, but either way they are full time jobs. And by all accounts she and the family are handling it well.

But to even proffer a question that suggests something straight out of a tabloid regarding her infant son is totally disgusting, and the person asking it should be slammed. Does Bob really think that is "just a question"? No way Bob should be defending that in any context, off the record or not. Hey Bob, beaten your wife lately?

Sep. 06 2008 12:29 PM
Not So Much from Philly

I know nothing about this lady and she's within 60 days of being elected to a position where she can become president. So ask all the questions you can.

That said, I still don't know enough about Obama. The two best known candidates in this race are are McCain & Biden.

Sep. 05 2008 10:32 PM

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