Dec 11, 2008

Scattershot Journalism

I read a NYT article this morning because the headline caught my eye, Illinois Scandal an Early Test for Obama Team. Oh really? Did Mr. Obama or someone on his team have some involvement in the Illinois Governor’s criminal attempt to sell the soon to be vacant Senate seat? I read the article and I have to tell you that it is lacking any substance at all. It was like a wisp, a ghost, a bit of fog captured on the page but fading in and out. I had to read it a few times to see if I was missing something. No, I didn’t miss the main point because…..there wasn’t one.

Here are some highlights from the article:

An Illinois hopeful for the Senate seat commented on how she couldn’t get any insider info out of Rahm Emanuel (Obama’s Chief of Staff) on what the Governor was thinking.

Obama and his advisers were keeping their distance from the Governor and not looking to influence his decision, partly because he was known to be under federal investigation.

Democrats have stated that Obama had strained relations with the Governor and made the decision to stay out of the decision process.

Two potential candidates are cited as saying that they never talked to Mr. Obama about the vacant senate seat.

This all sounds like A-Number-One judgment to me. Mr. Obama and his team declined to speak about something out of their control with people who had a direct personal interest in the outcome. Wow, what were they thinking? And, gasp, they didn’t trust or want to associate with the Governor of Illinois. Again I ask, where’s the story?

Then the article does a complete about face for no apparent reason:

Republicans have raised questions about Mr. Obama’s refusal to say more about his past ties with the main characters of the scandal.

Mr. Obama stayed out of sight on Wednesday, calling for Mr. Blagojevich’s resignation through an aide and only after other Democrats had done so.

Even if Mr. Obama remains untouched by the investigation, it shines a light on the corrupt politics of the state he emerged from.

Past ties? This is the Governor of Illinois, not some weapons dealing, drug smuggling, nefarious character. I’m sure many of these same unnamed Republicans also had “past ties” with the Governor since we’re not exactly being clear on the definition of “tie”.

And what exactly is being implied with the statement about the timing of Mr. Obama’s call for the Governor’s resignation? It seems to imply that he did it under some sort of pressure, almost against his will. At worst, this implies that Mr. Obama hesitated because he was somehow involved. At best it insinuates that Mr. Obama didn’t have the guts to do it earlier. They are kidding, right?

Then they deal the coup de grĂ¢ce, reporting that Mr. Obama is somehow tainted because he and the Governor both come from the same State. Well, with that logic, anybody from the State of Texas is a blithering idiot.

I seem to remember from my grammar school days that first you “Start with your main topic in mind and expand on it”. Now certainly the writers at the NYT have gone to grammar school and certainly they should be expected to collect their thoughts in a cohesive fashion and translate it to paper. So what is going on here? I know exactly what is going on. Throw enough chum into the water and the sharks are bound to show up. That’s today’s media for you. Throw a bunch of disjointed statements on paper, none backed by any named sources and hope that a public furor ensues because then you can really sell some papers.


  1. I was so mad when I heard about this moron trying to sell the Senate seat,because I knew the right wing was gonna jump all over Obama.
    You're right..It's all about turning things into controversial crap just to sell papers.

  2. "Throw enough chum into the water..", "..a bunch of disjointed statements.."

    Does this strategy remind anyone else of a recent failed Presidential bid?

    You're right about not needing a logical coherent argument in order to attempt to sway people's opinions. Unfortunately, it often succeeds.

  3. Sling - They did the same thing to Clinton when he took office. Unfortunately, these days, I think the majority of people are much less likely to ask questions and will just swallow whatever they are fed.

    GBox - The scary thing is if the economy hadn't tanked I think it may have worked.