Monday, June 16, 2008

Democrats – Can’t See The Forest For The Trees

The day after it was revealed that former ABC News Capitol Hill correspondent Linda Douglass was going to be joining Barack Obama's presidential campaign, "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace said this was a perfect example of how liberal and biased the mainstream media are. Image Credit: NewsBusters

Democrats – Can’t See The Forest For The Trees

It is funny to pick up the paper, or turn on the computer and read what political reporters, writers, and political operatives have to say about each other and further, what they have to say about the landscape they operate in.

On one hand, they all speak in the highest deference about how they respect people who are able to draw the line between personal opinion and respecting the point of view of others, while on the other, they view the world as a mine field … even when they know the communications world is so totally committed to left focused politics.

We, at MAXINE, don’t get it. Many, in the media communications field, think that tough questions are the bulwark of fairness, yet when these very same people make the decision to play a role where they may actually have to field a question, they invariably respond as though they are having to enter a war zone as opposed to actually respond with reasoned counterpoint … and fairness to the question and issue at hand.

CNN's Howard Kurtz, on Sunday morning's Reliable Sources, raised the accuracy of the story with Linda Douglass who covered Capitol Hill for ABC News until the end of 2005. Image Credit: NewsBusters

This example excerpted and edited from the Washington Post -

As Obama Aide, Reporter Dons Flack Jacket
Howard Kurtz - Washington Post Staff Writer - Monday, June 16, 2008; Page C01

Barack Obama started fielding questions at a hospital here last week, Linda Douglass stood off to the left, scribbling in a reporter's notebook, as she has in every presidential campaign since 1980.

It wasn't until 20 minutes later, when she shouted, "Last question!" that her former colleagues were reminded of her new role as a traveling spokeswoman who will be the public face -- a female face in this post-Hillary period -- of the campaign.

After three decades as a television correspondent, Douglass is now on the inside -- but still not getting all the answers. She recalls Obama telling her that he would not talk to her, let alone the outside world, about the vice-presidential selection process, saying: "We're locking it down, we're buttoning it up."

Which is fine with Douglass: "That was so the people who are trying to claw me every day won't get anything. I expect to be kept in the dark."
Given her background, is Douglass, who covered
John McCain's 2000 campaign, prepared to slam the presumed Republican nominee?

"I do like McCain and the people around him, and I consider him still to be a friend," she says. "But I have fundamental differences with John McCain on the issues and always have. I don't have any problem criticizing John McCain."

Describing her disagreements with the Arizona senator -- on the Iraq war, health care and the Bush tax cuts -- Douglass says: "It was no secret to the reporters around me that I have Democratic-leaning views. But they said I was always fair."
It wasn't until a 45-minute job interview with Obama last month that she decided to leave journalism for good.
At first, "I was afraid I'd slip into on-one-hand/on-the-other-hand mode. I think reporters are constantly struggling with themselves to suppress their own opinions." Because she believes in Obama's message, Douglass says, "for me this is really liberating."
McCurry likens the switch to a film critic who is handed a camera and told to make a movie. "She wants to do it in a different way from the spinners of the past," he says. "She wants to get away from the rat-a-tat-tat back-and-forth and keep focused on what journalists need to get the job done."

GOP strategist Dan Schnur, a spokesman for McCain's 2000 campaign, says that Douglass was known for being fair but that the transition may be difficult. "The more us communication types are trained in spin, the more different we become from the reporters who are covering our candidates," he says.
The Illinois senator may have unrealistic expectations about news management. In telling reporters on his plane that he would no longer discuss his search for a running mate, he said that if they heard "secondhand accounts, rumors, gossip about this election process, you can take it from me that it is wrong." Of course, details usually leak out, and they are sometimes accurate.
Douglass's first television appearance as a newly minted flack took place on her old network, ABC, the morning after Obama clinched the nomination.
After saying, "All right, Linda, the niceties are over," anchor Chris Cuomo asked whether Obama might pick Clinton or another woman as his running mate. Douglass deflected the question -- "There is no short list, there is no long list" -- and pivoted to her talking points, ticking off "the very sharp contrasts" with McCain in "health care and whether the tax cuts go to the rich, as John McCain wants, or to the middle class, as Barack Obama wants, and getting out of Iraq."
Behind the scenes, Douglass tries to dig out answers to reporters' questions. "I bug everyone all day.
But there are limits to Douglass's clout, as she learned when she twice tried to end the news conference and Obama didn't stop taking questions.

"If he wants to keep talking, he'll keep talking," she says.

A Clintonite's Choice

Fox News's newest contributor, to be announced today, may surprise the liberal crowd: former Clinton White House lawyer Lanny Davis.

"Fox has always treated me with respect and given me a chance to express my point of view," Davis says of the network that the Democratic candidates refused to grant a debate out of concern that it favors Republicans. He will be a frequent guest, along with such Fox stalwarts as
Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich.

A relentless surrogate for Hillary Clinton, Davis says, he felt "ganged up on" during appearances on the other cable channels. He says that Clinton was "demonized" by
MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, and that CNN's primary-night panels were tilted toward the Obama side.

"Does Fox have a conservative slant on some of their programs? Yes," Davis says. "They're giving me a chance to provide a counterpoint, and that's all I can ask."
Reference Here>>

As a citizen out here in the cable bill paying, and program viewing public, isn’t having viewpoints being given a chance to be expressed clearly all we can ask?

Given Lanny Davis’s view of most of the media landscape … the answer is sadly, NO.

The only communicative structure we are all aching for is an attempt at balance in the communication of viewpoints.

The Howard Kurtz piece on Linda Douglass (and Lanny Davis) puts a spotlight the on the reason why the media landscape will not change for the better anytime soon - Democrats can not see the forest for the trees.

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