The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

27 May 2006

Media Matters, New York Times, George W Bush, Bill Clinton

GOING TOO FAR?

Over Tabloid Bush Marriage Story, Lefties Attack NYT




For not jumping on a tabloid- originated story about a supposed Bush marriage "breakup", is the New York Times guilty of pro-Republican bias?

Despite a carefully- worded upfront qualifying statement, that's the baffling new assertion from anti-Bill O'Reilly website Media Matters For America.

For the tip, thanks to Radio Equalizer reader Joey Torres, who writes, "Media Matters has gone TOO FAR this time."

Where's the supposed bias? After a major recent New York Times piece detailing how marriage troubles might affect a future Clinton presidential run, the paper is wrong to ignore a report by supermarket tabloid the Globe indicating a serious breakdown between President Bush and the First Lady, claims Media Matters:

In his May 23 front-page article in The New York Times, staff writer Patrick Healy asserted that "[w]hen the subject of Bill and Hillary Clinton comes up for many prominent Democrats these days, Topic A is the state of their marriage" and how it "might affect Mrs. Clinton's possible bid for the presidency in 2008."

Healy offered no specific reasons for this purported interest among "prominent Democrats" aside from the amount of time the Clintons spent apart, a mention of a decade-old affair, and a reference to year-old "concern[]" over a "tabloid photograph showing Mr. Clinton leaving B.L.T. Steak in Midtown Manhattan late one night after dining with a group that included Belinda Stronach, a Canadian politician." Healy continued: "The two were among roughly a dozen people at a dinner, but it still was enough to fuel coverage in the gossip pages."


And here, they connect it to the Bush family:


Media Matters does not endorse the decision by The New York Times, NBC's Tim Russert, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, The Washington Post's David Broder, and countless other elite media figures to take their cues from tabloids like the Globe, or to pry into the personal lives of political figures. But if they are going to do so, we expect them to be consistent.

As it happens, the cover of the May 29 edition of the Globe contains another sensational headline about another high-profile political couple:

BUSH MARRIAGE BREAKUP!

EXCLUSIVE!

SEPARATE LIVES IN THE WHITE HOUSE

* Nasty fights
* Booze problems
* Laura urges counseling

On Pages 20 and 21, the Globe announces "Bush and Laura's 29-year marriage FALLS APART," adding: "They barely talk to each other," "[t]hey argue when they do speak," and "[s]he's afraid he'll hit the bottle." Quotes in the article attributed to "a longtime friend" include the assertion that "[w]hen the cameras aren't on, they have nothing to do with one another," and that "[f]or all practical purposes, they've broken up." The "family friend" continues: "After their last fight over booze, they just stopped talking -- period." The Globe's report that Laura Bush is concerned that President Bush may "hit the bottle" is reminiscent of a September 21, 2005, National Enquirer article about "Bush's booze crisis," which reported: "Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again."

Media Matters wonders when we can expect The New York Times to assign a reporter to tally the number of nights the Bushes spend together and to conduct 50 interviews with Republicans to assess their interest in the state of the Bush marriage, or in President Bush's reported relapse -- and when it will run a 2,000-word front-page article on the topic. If it does so, we wonder if Broder will refer to the article as "anything but unsympathetic" to the Bushes.


Isn't the difference clear? Reports on the Clinton marriage have emerged from eyewitness sources over the course of many years.

The alleged Belinda Stronach affair is just one small element of the overall story regarding Bill Clinton's legendary womanizing. In the recent NYT piece, very little new information was reported, instead, it was primarily an assessment of how the Clinton's personal troubles could affect a future political contest.

Instead of treating tabloid reporting as legitimate, the NYT was looking at public perception of the Clintons. Over time, supermarket publications have certainly had a role in building it.

By comparison, this Bush "story" comes from one also-ran supermarket tabloid that placed it just above "Royal Scandal! Prince Harry's Steamy Party Pics" on the front cover.

Unless more reliable information emerges that makes it worth investigating, we shouldn't expect any reputable newspaper to devote increasingly- scarce resources to the matter.


ALSO TODAY: Happy fourth birthday to Powerline!

--- Legal victory for bloggers in confidential source case involving Apple Computer.

--- Can conservatives salvage what's left of the GOP? Captain Ed wonders.


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11 Comments:

  • What does this even have to do with radio? Do you have nothing else to write about? How about another post about the "sleazy" funds transfer? Or yet another post about AAR always-impending never-happening demise?

    Christ, not only are you a fake journalist, you are a bad fake journalist.

    Also, to say that MediaMatter are anti-O'Reilly is to imply that they give O'Reilly extra attention. They are opposed to all conservative liars.

    How's your hit total? Have you hit 2000 yet? Still trying, eh? Well good luck with that.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 27 May, 2006 11:22  

  • Brian, thanks for posting comments about this disgusting form of low-life reporting.

    Your mission is discuss "Where talk radio, TV, print media and politics collide."

    You nailed this one.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 27 May, 2006 12:03  

  • You gotta love these guys-- they're either angry because I'm writing too much about Air America, or puzzled over why I'm covering something else!

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 27 May, 2006 14:24  

  • Who the hell is angry that you're covering AAR? To the contrary - I think its hilarious. I think its hilarious that AAR is the focus of 90% of your posts despite there being an entire world of talk radio to cover. Do you have some kind of grudge against them because they're on the air and you got your ass canned from two stations?

    And when the hell are you going to get a real website? Can't afford one with the meager pittance O'Liar gives you? Whatever the case may be, no one (with any sense) is going to take you seriously when you can't even control your own site. Blogger.com could take it away if they please, or if they were to fold.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 27 May, 2006 14:44  

  • mr. kite: "What does this even have to do with radio?"

    What We're Equalizing: Where talk radio, TV, PRINT MEDIA AND POLITICS collide.

    By Blogger OttO, at 27 May, 2006 17:36  

  • Brian Maloney sez:
    You gotta love these guys-- they're either angry because I'm writing too much about Air America, or puzzled over why I'm covering something else!

    Truth be told, a conservative wouldn't be writing this stuff unless he perceived it a threat. So I come here to check the barometer and I get a few chuckles along the way.

    By Blogger pbrauer, at 27 May, 2006 18:48  

  • Brian Maloney sez:
    You gotta love these guys-- they're either angry because I'm writing too much about Air America, or puzzled over why I'm covering something else!

    Truth be told, a conservative wouldn't be writing this stuff unless he perceived it a threat. So I come here to check the barometer and I get a few chuckles along the way.

    By pbrauer, at 27 May, 2006 18:48

    I guess you haven't seen AAR's last ratings book.

    Either that or you have the word "threat" confused with "laughingstock."

    By Blogger Brett, at 28 May, 2006 00:37  

  • Mr. Kite said...
    Who the hell is angry that you're covering AAR? To the contrary - I think its hilarious. I think its hilarious that AAR is the focus of 90% of your posts despite there being an entire world of talk radio to cover. Do you have some kind of grudge against them because they're on the air and you got your ass canned from two stations?


    27 May, 2006 14:44

    It's called filling a void.

    Some of us find it odd that the NY TIMES thought that AAR was a big enough deal to put Al Franken on the cover of the Sunday Magazine just before the lefty station's launch.

    However, that same newspaper doesn't have the slightest inclination to question why AAR hasn't lived up to expectations. Not one friggin' story asking: What's Wrong with Lefty Radio?

    By Blogger Brett, at 28 May, 2006 00:48  

  • One of my former News Directors (who works for NPR by the by) told me to never trust the tabloids. In this case I think she'd be right.

    And for otto and his comments:

    "What We're Equalizing: Where talk radio, TV, PRINT MEDIA AND POLITICS collide."

    He hit the nail on the head--radio is one MEDIUM in the MEDIA.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 28 May, 2006 09:52  

  • So, did Media Matters also criticize the NYT for not jumping all over that "Bush Meets With Space Aliens" story in the Weekly World News?

    By Blogger V the K, at 28 May, 2006 16:38  

  • free tunes at my [non-profit] website!
    instamusic.biz

    By Blogger bluepaul, at 30 May, 2006 07:03  

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