Exactly Which “L” Word Are We Talking About?

It’s Blame It on the Media Day in the blogosphere, with both Republicans and Democrats taking cracks at the press.

Stanley Kurtz, blogging on The Corner, thinks that the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney is missing the mark with his analysis that Kerry’s fall in recent polls is due to the Mary Cheney remark. For Kurtz, Bush’s emphasis on Kerry’s liberalism is responsible for Bush’s recent gains. “The Times would have it that Kerry’s victories on substance are being canceled out by the kind of minor cultural gaffe only flyover country types could care about. What Nagourney and the Times don’t want to admit is that, despite Kerry’s smooth performance in the debates, the public is just not comfortable with his extreme liberalism.”

Erick over at Redstate.org opines, “The mainstream media might want to rethink how helpful the debates were for Kerry … If Kerry won all three debates, which people surveyed said he did, it must have been a pyrrhic victory. He won those three battles and lost the war because people realized they didn’t want to live with him for four years.”

On the other side of the aisle, Brad DeLong picks up on yesterday’s column by Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler examining the media’s awareness, or lack thereof, that one candidate is more deceptive than the other. DeLong writes, “Getler says that reading the headline and first paragraphs of Post stories often give a false and Bush-friendly impression of what the story says … Put me down as one who does not appreciate those ‘nicely balanced headlines and lead paragraphs.’”

Pegging his comments to the same column, Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum is fired up: “It’s good to see reporters starting to wake up to this. Exaggeration and oversimplification are the stock in trade of all politicians, but the Bush/Cheney campaign has relied on outright deception far more than the Kerry/Edwards campaign, and it’s time to say so. It’s not enough to simply write a laundry list article that points out, say, five serious lies by Bush in a debate and two moderate ones from Kerry, with 90 percent of it unread anyway because it’s on the jump on page 23. If that’s what the story says, the headline and the lead should clearly reflect it. The media is allowing its own conventions to be used against it, and this won’t stop unless politicians pay a price for doing so.”

And finally, no media rundown is complete without some commentary on the Sinclair Broadcasting controversy. Digby caught Brit Hume and gang defending Sinclair’s right to broadcast the anti-Kerry documentary so long as they aired a Democrat’s rebuttal to the charges. “The question I have, is this,” writes Digby. “If [the allegations in the documentary Sinclair wants to air are] news, then why isn’t the news media as a whole, and Fox News network in particular, broadcasting it?”

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.