Comments of the Week

November 16-20, 2009

Every Friday, we excerpt some of the most insightful, articulate, interesting, and entertaining comments we receive each week. Think we’ve missed something? Well…comment!

The Newest Trend: ‘Rogue’-ing

Megan Garber’s decidedly defiant take on Sarah Palin’s “sexist” Newsweek cover generated a high volume of responses on everything from Palin’s reception in the media, to the evaluation of “sexism” in our culture, to the “relevancy” of a few choice news outlets.

“I cannot stand Sarah Palin’s politics, and think her rise to national prominence reflects badly on the state of our society, and even on journalism.

“That said, I really like the way she is so healthy and outdoorsy. This cover, and her Runner’s World article, were refreshing. It’s one thing about her I admire.

“Signed, a very liberal man.”


“Daisy Dukes? Are you kidding?

“These shorts are nowhere near being “too” short. They hit just above mid-thigh (nice mid-thighs, I may add) and bear no resemblance whatsoever to the cheeky cutoff denim shorts worn by Barbara Bach in the “Dukes of Hazard” television show.”


“I’m fascinated that there’s so little discussion about the downslide of Newsweek since the arrival of its new editor. The magazine’s focus is veering toward a tabloid-style outlet, such as the recent cover headline, ‘Is Your Baby Racist?’ The mag also is becoming loudly and unapologetically slanted to the left, as if the head staffers think they’re competitors are The Nation, Slate or The New Republic…. C’mon, politics aside, it this what you really signed up for in journalism school? This isn’t about sexism at all. Palin just uses that to shore up the base and complain that there’s a left-leaning mainstream media. And, clearly, Newsweek will be happy to sell as many magazines as possible — whether it’s the Palin-hater who buys or the 13 goofs who’d actually buy a news mag because a pretty lady’s legs are shown off.

“Does every damn news outlet have to turn into a reflection of the cheerleading or derision on Fox News or MSNBC? It’s just so damn hard to be a journalist these days when just about everyone at home is trying to determine which political ‘team’ you’re shilling for.”
–Meg Garbles

“What an immature, cop-out of a cover. It’s an insulting, cheap shot. She said she would have never agreed to work with you had she known how she’d be portrayed. Show some respect. We all know you’re biased, but do you have to be so obvious? In your confined, media world you are amongst friends. But people like myself (an east coast city dweller and art school graduate) have respect for someone who speaks for our values and opinions. We’re sick of media outlets such as yours telling us what we should think. There ARE caring, intelligent, interesting women and men who think like she does. If she was liberal, she’d be idolized and you know it. If you all were truly liberal, you’d have more open minds and show some fairness.”


“I gave Newsweek several trys with the new format and finally decided I should ask for a subscription refund as the “NEW” Newsweek is not suitable for short factual reads —- only long, detailed opinion. Then the insult to Sarah Palin with your latest cover. Please stop by subscription and refund my money”


Just the Facts

Continuing this week’s coverage of all things Sarah Palin, Greg Marx addressed the AP’s fact-checking of the ex-VP candidate’s memoir in “Straying from the Facts.” The piece provoked dozens of reactions, including some substantive commentary on the ole’ liberal/conservative media bias from frequent antagonists Thimbles and Mark Richard.

“More significant than any fact-checking errors or omissions is the fact that AP put eleven - eleven reporters to work on this titanic event, Sarah Palin’s book. Did eleven AP workers fact-check Barack Obama’s two books in 2008? Any Clinton memoir? Can anyone remember such detailed fact-checking of a political memoir? The meta-event here is that Palin and the conservatives point out the higher standards to which they are held, and a seemingly irony-impaired mainstream media walks right into the trap - with the result that belief in the fairness of MSM product has been significantly and documentably undermined even among people who are not partisans of Sarah Palin….The real story here is the resources that the MSM routinely expends toward making conservatives and Republicans look bad, vs. the lack of same for some eminently eligible liberals and Democrats. Since urban liberalism is the very air that most political journalists breathe, I’ve come to believe that it is so reflexive that these folks aren’t even aware of how they come across to consumers who are not orthodox Democrats.”

–Mark Richard

“You know, I could have taken CNN’s Sanjay Gupta’s dishonest attack fact check on Michael Moore’s movie Sicko as a indictment of the whole media industry. I could have made the case that I and my political beliefs are just big victims of the 10,000 ton anvil constantly being dropped on our heads called the MSM.

“But wouldn’t I sound like a broken record if I did that constantly?

“And I know it would be especially annoying if one went back 15 years and watched the silly impeachment and investigations lead by a media nursed at the breast by an opposition website that benefited my side.

“And it would be terribly annoying if one watched as a better candidate who lost the presidency by a handful of votes, partly because the press attacked the better candidate to shreds using partisan fact checks which benefited my side.

“And it would be excruciatingly annoying if that lesser candidate got the most sycophantic coverage in the history of the republic while he pillaged the government’s finances and lead the country into a war of impulse based on flimsy claims that weren’t fact checked to the benefit of my side.

“If that was me, I’d say it was about time the MSM fact checked my side because it’s gotten away with murder over the last 15 years. Literally.

“But that’s me, and I have a conscience.”


“I learned everything I need to know about MSM “journalists” from watching Wolf Blitzer on Jeopardy.

“Those 30 minutes told us more about the liberal press than 100 truckloads of newspapers.”

–Steve Levy

“It is interesting to see the commies at Columbia defending a conservative woman…one guesses, there are always exception to their madness.”


Buying Support, Framing the Debate

Reacting to a New York Times piece from earlier this week, Greg Marx discussed the role played by lobbyists in the ongoing Congressional battle over health care reform. How do they—and how should they—put their ideas into action?

“…It is not the case that simply because you cannot identify direct relationships between the the money and the influence through lobbyists doesn’t mean that it isn’t essentially a problem of the influence of money. While not all lobbyists are lobbying for big business, big business is the sector that has the most money to spend on lobbyists. If lobbying as an activity were representative or evenly distributed we might not have so much concern about the business of government being farmed out to lobbyists. We are (or should be) worried about because very often farmed out to lobbyists or having lobbyists set the agenda means having a systematic bias towards the interests of big business. And while there is nothing wrong, indeed much good, about big business, it is disturbing to have it so involved in the drafting of legislation that is in part aimed at placing restraints on it. It suggests that these efforts are likely to be sabotaged from within the drafting process. Transparency about the role of funding and lobbying may not cure this problem but it is certainly a step in the right direction which is why the outcome of the Citizens United case could be critical.”

–Tamara Piety

Emissions Omissions

In reaction to a story by Curtis Brainard (“Trains, Planes, and Carbon Offsets”), about the benefits of two Times articles that track programs allowing consumers to reduce their carbon footprints, a reader points out some invisible hazards of a different sort.

“Curtis, may we (at some point) raise the issue of what The New York Times is NOT reporting? For example, as far as I can tell, The Times entirely forgot to report on the amazing letter that 18 leading scientific organizations sent to members of the U.S. Senate. And, The Times has almost completely ignored the task of giving readers the straight scoop on issues that ExxonMobil routinely confounds. And so forth.

Given the stakes of climate change, and the insufficient degree of public understanding, what is NOT reported is just as important as what IS reported. Indeed, without examining the issue of what is NOT reported, and (ideally) why, questions such as ‘why is public understanding still poor?’ are made almost entirely silly and irrelevant. After all, a key part of the answer to that question comes back to the issue of what is NOT reported.

I’m mentioning this just to point out what might be called a ‘glaring absurdity’ in how many leading members of the media approach those matters. They ask, ‘why does the public not get it?’ even as the answer has much to do with the media’s own choices. And, credibility is lost as long as that obvious factor and “problem” are not examined and addressed.

The CJR’s credibility is at stake as well, in that regard. Is the CJR going to raise and explore that issue with the verve it calls for? That’s the question, and I’m hoping that the answer is yes.”

–Jeff Huggins

Horse of a Different Color

Responding to this week’s “Language Corner” about the difference between “founder” and “flounder”, reader Cass Peterson offers a unique relation between the two.

“Horses also founder, meaning they become afflicted with laminitis. That’s what finally did in the noble Barbaro. This usage is so often confused with “flounder,” but it happens.
–Cass Peterson

And then, two minutes later:

“Make that “not” so often. Or not.”

–Cass Peterson

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Sara Germano is an intern at CJR.