Spinning Their Wheels

The left wing journalists, who dominate the staffs of most large newspapers and the alphabet television networks, have reached a critical point. Driven by their conviction that George Bush simply must be defeated, and surrounded by friends and colleagues who share this same worldview, key editorial decision—makers engage in self—discrediting collective overkill on certain stories. The general public, especially the crucial swing voters, is learning to dismiss their news product as unreliably biased. Like a driver stuck in the snow, they are spinning their wheels. Instead of gaining traction, the faster they spin, the more the snow melts, and the less chance they have of getting out of their fix.

A perfect recent example of this phenomenon is the press coverage afforded to the launch of the liberal talk radio network Air America, a very modest outfit by any broadcast industry standard. The New York Times gave it the most powerful boost the newsprint media can offer: a cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, along with repeated articles on other days. Other daily newspapers followed suit, as did the television networks. The San Francisco Chronicle went to the absurd length of headlining the 'news' that Bay Area listeners would have to wait, because the network had no San Francisco outlet as it hit the nation's airwaves.

All of this fuss over a network whose outlets numbered five low—powered, low—rated AM stations, whose airtime was purchase in blocks by the network. Not one program director in the entire country decided on his own that the potential listenership was attractive enough to merit carriage of the network as a commercial venture. Even worse, Air America's radio outlets in the two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, formerly served black and Hispanic ethnic audiences. There has already been one protest rally in New York, as 'community leaders' protest the loss of their ethnic broadcasts.

Not since Howell Raines published dozens of stories about Martha Burke's efforts to force Augusta National to admit women members, while she was only able to muster a handful of demonstrators at the climax of her campaign, has there been such an obvious case of obsessive—compulsive coverage.

But Raines was one (now—unemployed) editor. The Air America overkill was collective. Nobody who pays attention to the news has been able to escape repeated exposure to the story. All this for an operation reaching, in all probability, fewer people than a single evening newscast in a decent—sized TV market.

You don't have to be a Ronald Reagan worshipper to think to yourself, 'There they go again.'

Coverage of the economy is another unfolding debacle for the credibility of the traditional media. The Democrats have invested heavily in the single statistic of 'jobs lost' since George W. Bush took office. Leaving aside very serious issues of measurement (the rapid rise in the number of independent contractors, whose work is not defined as a 'job', and whose existence is not turned up by telephone surveys of employers), the usual suspects have focused like one Bill Clinton's lasers on this squishy job loss number, to paint a picture of doom and gloom.

The key code word has become 'outsourcing.' Jobs are supposedly being shipped to China and India by the boat load. When all the jobs are gone, we will all be flipping hamburgers for each other, or so we are being led to believe.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it is easily refuted with both numbers and pictures. For every call center, with its low paying jobs, outsourced to India, there is a Mercedes Benz factory, in—sourced to Alabama, or a Nissan factor in—sourced to Mississippi. The workers at these plants are making some of the highest wages in their region, and they are rather happy about the outsourcing trend hitting Germany and Japan. In—sourced jobs actually outnumber outsourced jobs

In—sourced jobs are worked by people who have faces and personal stories. Given that a Presidential campaign is underway, it will be short work for the Republican ticket to arrange visits to the Honda, whose Ohio factories employ 14,000, or the vast Michelin tire factory in South Carolina. President Bush might even want to take the wheel of one the Kentucky—made Toyota Solaras as it is loaded for shipment back to the Japanese market.

Great pictures, there.

Public perception of liberal bias in the media has been growing for at least a decade. The famous survey of Washington journalists which showed that 90% of them voted for Clinton has never been contradicted by a subsequent measure. People know this. Public opinion surveys show that a plurality accepts the notion that press has a liberal bias.

What's different now is that left wing hatred for President Bush has risen to such intensity, and is so pervasive among the coastal media elites, that many journalists and editors have lost their moorings. They can't help themselves. Taken individually, their work might pass muster. But there are masses of them putting out masses of stories which create an overall impression that the press is simply not to be trusted.

Newspaper circulation and alphabet network TV news ratings are plummeting, as new competition springs up, fuelled by both technology and the spreading realization of the unreliability of the traditional media.

The proper term for this phenomenon is clear. It is a death spiral.

The left wing journalists, who dominate the staffs of most large newspapers and the alphabet television networks, have reached a critical point. Driven by their conviction that George Bush simply must be defeated, and surrounded by friends and colleagues who share this same worldview, key editorial decision—makers engage in self—discrediting collective overkill on certain stories. The general public, especially the crucial swing voters, is learning to dismiss their news product as unreliably biased. Like a driver stuck in the snow, they are spinning their wheels. Instead of gaining traction, the faster they spin, the more the snow melts, and the less chance they have of getting out of their fix.

A perfect recent example of this phenomenon is the press coverage afforded to the launch of the liberal talk radio network Air America, a very modest outfit by any broadcast industry standard. The New York Times gave it the most powerful boost the newsprint media can offer: a cover story in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, along with repeated articles on other days. Other daily newspapers followed suit, as did the television networks. The San Francisco Chronicle went to the absurd length of headlining the 'news' that Bay Area listeners would have to wait, because the network had no San Francisco outlet as it hit the nation's airwaves.

All of this fuss over a network whose outlets numbered five low—powered, low—rated AM stations, whose airtime was purchase in blocks by the network. Not one program director in the entire country decided on his own that the potential listenership was attractive enough to merit carriage of the network as a commercial venture. Even worse, Air America's radio outlets in the two largest markets, New York and Los Angeles, formerly served black and Hispanic ethnic audiences. There has already been one protest rally in New York, as 'community leaders' protest the loss of their ethnic broadcasts.

Not since Howell Raines published dozens of stories about Martha Burke's efforts to force Augusta National to admit women members, while she was only able to muster a handful of demonstrators at the climax of her campaign, has there been such an obvious case of obsessive—compulsive coverage.

But Raines was one (now—unemployed) editor. The Air America overkill was collective. Nobody who pays attention to the news has been able to escape repeated exposure to the story. All this for an operation reaching, in all probability, fewer people than a single evening newscast in a decent—sized TV market.

You don't have to be a Ronald Reagan worshipper to think to yourself, 'There they go again.'

Coverage of the economy is another unfolding debacle for the credibility of the traditional media. The Democrats have invested heavily in the single statistic of 'jobs lost' since George W. Bush took office. Leaving aside very serious issues of measurement (the rapid rise in the number of independent contractors, whose work is not defined as a 'job', and whose existence is not turned up by telephone surveys of employers), the usual suspects have focused like one Bill Clinton's lasers on this squishy job loss number, to paint a picture of doom and gloom.

The key code word has become 'outsourcing.' Jobs are supposedly being shipped to China and India by the boat load. When all the jobs are gone, we will all be flipping hamburgers for each other, or so we are being led to believe.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it is easily refuted with both numbers and pictures. For every call center, with its low paying jobs, outsourced to India, there is a Mercedes Benz factory, in—sourced to Alabama, or a Nissan factor in—sourced to Mississippi. The workers at these plants are making some of the highest wages in their region, and they are rather happy about the outsourcing trend hitting Germany and Japan. In—sourced jobs actually outnumber outsourced jobs

In—sourced jobs are worked by people who have faces and personal stories. Given that a Presidential campaign is underway, it will be short work for the Republican ticket to arrange visits to the Honda, whose Ohio factories employ 14,000, or the vast Michelin tire factory in South Carolina. President Bush might even want to take the wheel of one the Kentucky—made Toyota Solaras as it is loaded for shipment back to the Japanese market.

Great pictures, there.

Public perception of liberal bias in the media has been growing for at least a decade. The famous survey of Washington journalists which showed that 90% of them voted for Clinton has never been contradicted by a subsequent measure. People know this. Public opinion surveys show that a plurality accepts the notion that press has a liberal bias.

What's different now is that left wing hatred for President Bush has risen to such intensity, and is so pervasive among the coastal media elites, that many journalists and editors have lost their moorings. They can't help themselves. Taken individually, their work might pass muster. But there are masses of them putting out masses of stories which create an overall impression that the press is simply not to be trusted.

Newspaper circulation and alphabet network TV news ratings are plummeting, as new competition springs up, fuelled by both technology and the spreading realization of the unreliability of the traditional media.

The proper term for this phenomenon is clear. It is a death spiral.