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Posts Tagged ‘Alex S. Jones’

Sorry is Easy. In the Case of Martin Bashir, Suspension Seems to be the Hardest Word

Martin Bashir 304Judging strictly by precedent at MSNBC, if Martin Bashir had called Sarah Palin a ‘cocksucking fag,’ ‘right wing slut,’ ‘dick,’ ‘pimp,’ or ‘nappy headed ho,’ he would be on suspension, at the very least.

Instead, Bashir is a free man. All he said about Palin on Nov. 15 was that she should be forced to have someone defecate in her mouth and urinate in her eyes as punishment for her remarks on slavery.

What’s wrong with this picture? Plenty, if one considers MSNBC’s long history of Foot in Mouth disease. In every case, the commentator was either suspended or fired. In every case, the perps have been men, and in every case but one, the broadcast slurs have been aimed at women.

Ten days ago, actor Alec Baldwin was benched for two weeks after he was caught on video calling a paparazzi a ‘cocksucking fag.’ He may not return.

In 2011, Ed Schultz and Mark Halperin were both suspended — Schultz for labelling conservative commentator Laura Ingraham a ‘right wing slut,’ and Halperin for describing President Obama as a ‘dick.’ (Sidebar: If it had been Nixon, Halperin would have been technically correct.)

In ’08, David Shuster served two weeks for saying that Chelsea Clinton was being pimped out to support her mother’s campaign. And in ’07, Don Imus’ description of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as ‘nappy headed hos’ got him fired.

Like all his predecessors, Bashir apologized – the latest to join the celebrity culture of contrition. In a statement Friday, MSNBC said Bashir had also apologized to the Palin family, that he’s “committed to elevating the discourse” and that the network was handling the matter internally.

Still, many critics argue that Bashir deserves harsher punishment.

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Why Nate Silver is Such a Hot Commodity

Nate Silver’s migration from the New York Times to ESPN represents more than a new URL – it augurs a sea change in the news business itself, experts say.

Silver’s acclaimed political blog, fivethirtyeight, will expand to sports, weather and entertainment, among other areas, as part of its analytics-driven venue at espn.com, he told reporters yesterday in a conference call.

Though the focus at this point is the blog, expect to see Silver on ESPN and ABC News, especially at election season. Regardless, the blog itself has the muscle to alter the paradigm in news reportage, says Jane Hall, an associate professor in American University’s School of Communication.

“The new buzzwords in the future of journalism are ‘data driven’ and ‘visualization of data,’” Hall says. “Silver brought tremendous credibility and proved himself with his political blog. To branch out to other areas could be very exciting.

“You can do a lot of analysis of data that is credible, if you do it right. A new paradigm could be a very good thing, but I still believe in shoe-leather reporting. You still need to talk to people, face to face, to see what’s on their minds.”

Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy – and a loyal Timesman – says Silver’s methodology will become a trend because “he’s not the only genius in the world. There will be a lot of people trying to out-Nate Nate.”

Using metrics for weather is a great thing, Jones says, but applying it to sports would be “depressing. If you knew, at the beginning of the season, that the Yankees would lose, it takes away the mystery, the uncertainty.”

Moreover, if Silver, a former baseball numbers wonk, is as accurate with sports prognosticating as he is with politics, “he’ll make it impossible for bookies to make a living,” Jones warns. “People will be less likely to make stupid bets.”

Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO’s “Real Sports,” isn’t convinced that Silver, whom he labels as “a smart guy with a lot of talent,” will be an actual handicapper.

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As Journalists Become the Story, Will the Rules Change?

Will news organizations’ boycott of the Attorney General’s ‘off-the-record’ background sessions last week change the rules of the game between government sources and media?

On the record: Doubtful, at best.

“It won’t change anything,” says Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. “In Washington, media will continue to deal with administration sources, brokering access and information for pledges of confidentiality.

“It’s a pernicious practice, and very widespread, but it’s how business is done.”

Embattled AG Eric Holder held meetings with top Washington journalists Thursday and Friday to discuss concerns about Department of Justice guidelines for dealing with journalists in investigations of possible security leaks.

The New York Times, CNN, CBS News, NBC News and the Associated Press, among others, passed on Thursday’s meeting because of its off-the-record requirement. At that gathering, however, the DOJ blinked, and news outlets were told they could report on ‘general’ topics of discussion.

Thursday attendees included The Washington Post, Politico, New Yorker, Daily News and The Wall Street Journal. ABC News, the lone network representative last week, met with Holder Friday, along with USA Today and Reuters, which had initially said no to Thursday.

David Westin, ABC News president from 1997 through 2010, agrees with his alma mater’s decision to attend and says it was “smart” of the DOJ to modify its rule.

“News organizations are in the business of reporting news, not keeping it secret,” says Westin. “This happens from time to time. It’s part of a larger issue with the White House itself. It’s part of the normal give-and-take, back-and-forth of the press covering the administration.”

In Westin’s view, Holder’s sessions presented a particular challenge in that the news outlets were also principals in the story. “They were asked not as reporters, but as people being affected by the Justice Department.”

Going further, Harvard’s Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the New York Times, says the meetings served as de facto press conferences, regardless of Holder’s intentions, and that Holder was “naïve” to think otherwise.

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Differing Views on Obama’s Visit to ‘The View’

ObamaView.jpg

Is it beneath President Obama’s dignity to appear on “The View” tomorrow?

Yes, say Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) and Republican Pat Buchanan. They both blasted Obama’s scheduled visit to ABC’s daytime female chatfest, but theirs appears to be the minority opinion. The program is to be taped today.

A sitting U.S. president should do “serious” shows, Rendell argued yesterday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The View” can be serious, he said, but it also “rocks and rolls a little bit.” Buchanan agreed, saying there should be some “majesty” to the presidency.

“If Buchanan wants majesty, he’s revealing his royalist side,” riffs Charles Bierbauer, dean of the College of Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina and a former CNN correspondent.

“Wasn’t it Nixon who put the White House police in palace guard uniforms? Then again, wasn’t it Nixon who said ‘Sock it to me!’ on ‘Laugh-in?’” in 1968.

Tomorrow will mark the first time a sitting U.S. president has appeared on a daytime talk show, according to “View” producers. Accordingly, matriarch Barbara Walters will return to the set for the first time since her heart surgery in May.

Obama was previously on “The View” twice — in November 2004, as a U.S. Senator, and in March 2008 (photo above), as a prospective presidential candidate whom Walters pronounced “very sexy.”

Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, sees no problem with the embattled president sitting in on “The View.”

“Does Obama want to get his message out? Of course he does. If you’re a politician, you go to where the people are going to listen. ‘The View’ is a great place for him to reach a large group of people, a lot of them women concerned about issues like the economy.”

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