The Seeds of a Story

Friday, September 18, 2009


In the last two weeks, conservative blogs helped drive real world change. First, Van Jones, a presidential adviser, resigned. Then, non-profit ACORN lost funding amid embarrassing revelations. In both cases, most traditional media outlets lagged in telling the story. The Atlantic's Mark Bowden says partisan sources are increasingly setting the news agenda. He talks about what that means for the news consumer.

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Comments [9]

Chris Gray from New Haven

Well, Rachel Maddow is doing just that on MSNBC starting tonight. She not only exposed some of the myths about the voter registration errors, which ACORN first reported but also a nice piece on the source of some of the misinformation being promulgated right from the horse's mouth (taken directly from a 60Minutes interview).

I especially enjoyed Mr. Richard's claim that the (so-called liberal) Main Stream Media has so drastically declined in influence, which completely explains the election of President Tancredo.

Sep. 25 2009 12:58 AM

Wow -- I just read the first 7 comments; all from the right spouting the "party line." At least they aren't the usual illiterate UPPER CASE RANTS but they still are party line. Let me ask why the MSM gave Bush a pass for 8 years. Bush said, "Anything that happened in my life before 1980 isn't on the table." so the MSM skulked off and ignored reputed drug use, drug selling, DUI (until it couldn't be ignored.)

When the MSM investigates ACORN, I'm sure they'll have to include the reason the right has been after them for much longer than this year: they're an effective mechanism for registering poor and minority voters and helping the poor fight for their neighborhoods. Specifically, community organizing is a threat because the right does not want "them" to vote.

The illegal voter registration attempts are a myth. Every year people try to register as Mickey Mouse, Elmer Fudd ...and even if they get by the folks gathering the registrations, THEY CANNOT AND DO NOT VOTE.

When is the left going to get organized enough to launch this kind of concerted attack against the truth?

Sep. 24 2009 02:37 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

I just read Mr. Bowden's piece in The Atlantic. It confirms the common enough perception that much activity which has been common practice among people on the Left side of the political spectrum for decades - whether it is Saul Alinsky-style organizing and disruption of public meetings, or guerrilla-media tactics as in the ACORN bust, or attempts by political activists to drive 'the news', or hyperbolic political rhetoric - becomes alarming to writers and pundits who speak in non-partisan tones only when activists on the Right respond in kind.

Sep. 23 2009 01:22 PM
Matt W. from Arlington, Virginia

Why is it that conservative blogs drive stories, while progressive blogs break news? That sounds like institutionalized bias, not some random order emerging from the Chaos of today's media landscape.

Sep. 22 2009 09:42 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus, Ohio

I recall that the partisan Talking Points Memo generated the uh, 'scoop' that the Bush Administration fired U.S. attorneys (bad politics, but legal) for insufficient enthusiasm for its politicies. Josh Marshall was welcomed as a serious player by mainstream journalists, and if NPR or The Atlantic had any concerns about partisan activists driving 'the news', it didn't reach my ears. Same story going back as long as I can remember - behind every (generally left-leaning) 'expose', an activist group of the Left with access to an editor, producer, or reporter.

The real question for honest journalists is why there is such concern when right-wing groups start using the same tactics to get their issues picked up by the MSM that left-wing groups have used for years. Coke Pink can interrupt Congressional hearings - business as usual. Some oldsters interrupt 'town hall' meeings, and, my God, knickers start twisting in newsrooms from New York to Washington to L.A. Ann Coulter could take lessons in nasty rhetoric from Michael Moore or Al Franken, but she gets the hostile treatement from journalists who deny any political slant, while Mike and Al get the respectful treatment. So it goes. Possibly OTM will have the guts to ask itself if the perceived political partisanship of the MSM is in any way related to the decline in its influence - but how can it ask this (and answer it honestly) without admitting that its own proprietors are, to judge from the product, themselves completely and unanimously predictable urban, 'hip', politically-correct soldiers of the Left?

Sep. 22 2009 12:59 PM
N. R. Bachur from USA

I heard this program while driving between stores so I looked it up, on line to see if what I heard was correct. Yep, as biased and distorted a report as it could be. Why are these "professional journalists" focusing on Fox, Glen Beck, James O'Keefe, and bloggers when the major distortions, omissions, co-missions, biased reporting, put-me-downs, etc. come from all the main line liberal and leftist news outlets. Please, you know it alls, tell me ONE honest liberal news outlet.
Golly, and my taxes pay for this dung.

Sep. 20 2009 04:07 PM
Mike H from Naperville Il

Here's another question: why did the Times spike a story about Acorn's corruption last year?

A lawyer involved with legal action against Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) told a House Judiciary subcommittee last March 19 The New York Times had killed a story in October that would have shown a close link between ACORN, Project Vote and the Obama campaign because it would have been a “a game changer.”

Partisan sources indeed!

Sep. 18 2009 11:49 PM
David C Rowe from United States

Here is a question: will the mainstream media now be satisfied to let ACORN conduct its "internal investigation" after what they have seen, or will they do their own? I suspect they will let it go. Why? Because they are partisan enough to not want to stoke the alternate, partisan pride of Fox and give Beck his props for helping to break a story!

And Brooke, don't you think your model for how "news with a purpose" finds its way into the mainstream media in the Obama era is a bit limited? I don't think it is just as you define it – an independent, conservative blogger starts something and it is picked up by Fox. Does not it also include bloggers on the left, which are picked up by MSNBC and Media Matters? Don't we have many examples?

You know, it sounds archaic. But Mr. Bowden's point of view depends on an objective media – teaching it, trying for it, and editors insisting on it. It's probably too late.

Sep. 18 2009 06:47 PM
David C Rowe from United States

I've not yet read Mr. Bowden's Atlantic piece, but here he is far more hopeful and sanguine about the major news organization than I. Or perhaps he has some blinders on.

Are the major news organizations lazy when they do not report on Sotomayor's comments? I doubt it. I think what they are is, they are just like those other groups Bowden decries: partisan. They don't want to look at the tape because they want to ignore it all together. For example, why does the mainstream media focus on the relatively few and powerless "birthers" at various tea-parties, but avoids reporting on a "truther" and racist like Van Jones who is right under their nose in the real halls of power in Washington – the very people they are to keep accountable? Because they are as partisan as the activists. When the New York Times decides to report on a non-affair that John McCain supposedly had on the front page – there is news as ammunition (!) – but does not think Van Jones who is czar with very strange views (for goodness sake even Russ Feingold thinks czars should be vetted) one knows they are just as partisan.

Sep. 18 2009 06:47 PM

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