Well, that didn’t take long. The media is already pointing out that the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of planting the bombs at the Boston Marathon and getting involved with a shootout with police, were not licensed to own firearms:
The two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, who police say engaged in a gun battle with officers early Friday after a frenzied manhunt, were not licensed to own guns in the towns where they lived, authorities said on Sunday.
In the confrontation with police on the streets of a Boston suburb, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were armed with handguns, at least one rifle and several explosive devices, authorities say.
But neither brother appears to have been legally entitled to own or carry firearms where they lived, a fact that may add to the national debate over current gun laws. Last week, the U.S. Senate rejected a bill to expand background checks on gun purchases, legislation that opponents argued would do nothing to stop criminals from buying guns illegally.
Let’s hold on just a second here. The Tsarnaev bothers didn’t legally obtain the firearms used during a shootout with police in a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. For example, Massachusetts has banned so-called “assault weapons” and has limited magazines to 10 rounds (similar proposals failed last week in the United States Senate). Massachusetts also prohibits anyone under the 21-years-old from owning a handgun. Dzhokhar, who was apprehended on Friday evening, was 19.
In the aftermath of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, a lot of information came out, and less than 36 hours we now know that most, if not almost all, of that information was incorrect. As Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) tweeted yesterday:
Phones weren’t shut down, other explosives were not found, there is no suspect in custody. Beyond “there was explosion” most MSM info wrong
— Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) April 16, 2013
Every time something big happens, particularly if it is tragic, the media reports a lot of things that just aren’t so. You’ve heard the saying “if it bleeds, it leads?” Well that is completely true, and every news outlet wants to be the absolute first to report every detail. When things are happening quickly, news outlets report whatever information they have, with no time to fact-check the details to make sure that what they report is accurate. In the 24-hour news cycle, every broadcast news outlet is competing for ratings, so being right, but second to report, does not help. Being wrong, but first to report, can help a broadcast station because they get the reputation as “the first on the scene,” but there is no accountability later for being wrong. After all, it’s a chaotic scene, so how can you blame them for being wrong?
Twitter is full of morons. But today, the Moron of the Day is Politico senior writer Steve Freiss, who tweeted:
.@goproud issues statement: “as federalists, we do not believe in 1-size-fits-all” on gay marriage. But aren’t federalists pro-federal govt?
— Steve Friess (@SteveFriess) January 18, 2013
No, Steve, they’re not.
This is why we’re up crap creek without a paddle these days—because people just do not understand what terms used in politics actually mean. It is true that in the very beginning, back when we were still under the Articles of Confederation, that federalists wanted a stronger national, federal government. But they did not want “one size fits all” policies for the states, and were very adamant about having power distributed across the states, and between the states and the federal government.
Read up on Madison, Adams, and Jefferson, man. It’s not that hard. Or take a look at the Cato Institute. Or hell, Cornell University Law School. Or any number of other places. It’s pretty obvious what federalism means, and Steve Freiss is an ignorant fool to completely miss it.
Yet, as I’ve noted, he’s a senior writer at Politico. And these are the guys writing stories and feeding information to the masses—people who have absolutely no idea about American politics and what words actually mean. These are likely also the same reporters and writers crafting stories that are subtly pro-gun control.
Can we stop taking them seriously, now?
There’s been a lot of ink (digital or otherwise) by conservatives and libertarians about the lack of critical thinking on the part of much of the press regarding President Obama and his policies. I’ve been accused of just being paranoid (which may be true), but it looks like there is some validity to the argument.
In conversations with POLITICO, some of the left’s most influential voices in media said that, with the concerns of re-election over, they intend to be more critical of the president’s performance and more aggressive in urging him to pursue a progressive agenda as the clock ticks on his last four years in office.
“Liberals in the media are going to be tougher on Obama and more respectful at the same time,” Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker’s chief political commentator and a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, told POLITICO. “He was the champion of our side, he vanquished the foe….. [but] now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.”
“In a tight election, people were sensitive to anything that would jeopardize the president’s re-election,” said Melber. “There’s no question that a second term changes the center of gravity for any administration: There is no reasonable argument that criticism will result in the defeat of Barack Obama.”
On the right it is considered an axiom that the “mainstream media” is incredibly biased towards the left. Now, this is not a charge without merit - I think it’s hard to deny that most media comes from major cities that tend to lean liberal. But whether or not the media favors the left or the right, both sides know one thing for certain — their candidates will be covered extensively. Every word from Romney or Obama will make the news in some format.
But for anyone outside the two major parties, it is rare to even be mentioned, except in passing as a potential “spoiler” for one candidate or the other in a swing state. To the average voter, then, there are only two people running. One cannot be surprised then that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of third party candidates. They are presented a world where there are only two choices, as if the vast spectrum of political thought can only come in two colors, red and blue.
Take this quiz on USA Today for a perfect example. Immediately upon opening the quiz, you are shown a graphic that is half Obama and half Romney. Every option moves the bar one way or the other. For me, the first couple questions were about the economy and moved it to Romney. But then came questions about gay marriage, the War in Afghanistan, and cutting military spending, which knocked it to the blue side. In the end, my score came out 55%. Were the world truly consigned to two poles, then, I would have to vote Democrat.
Yes, there does appear to be a media bias. I see it all the time, just like you probably do. Part of the reason Fox News does as well as it does is because he simply presents a different media bias than what it’s watchers see elsewhere. They’ve presented something new, and are being rewarded for it.
However, many people don’t believe in media bias. They just don’t think it exists. Well, let’s take a quick lesson in media bias, and some of the reasons for it. For the record, I am the publisher of The Albany Journal, what was once a weekly newspaper in Albany, Georgia but is now an online news website. I’m not telling you this to try and make it out like my vast newspaper experience gives me some insight (I only bought the paper last October after all), but so some stories later on will make some sense.
When talking about media bias, there are some things that happen. I’m guilty of it as much as the next newspaper editor/publisher/news director. Some stories cross my desk, and my natural reaction is to not devote space to them. Even if they don’t cross my desk, I sometimes read articles on other sites and think “I wouldn’t run that”. Sometimes, it’s well founded. An eatery half way across the state that says it is going to start making their own bread just isn’t news for Albany.
Sometimes though, my subconscious makes the decision for me. For example, a story about how laws regarding junk food in schools may be helping reduce childhood obesity. Now, this as an AP story, and I don’t get to run AP stories, but this is a case of one I would probably not have run. Consciously, I would probably argue to myself that I just don’t think my readers would find it interesting, but is that really the reason?
That’s the title of an opinion piece I wrote for The Daily Caller which you can read in its entirety here.
…in the market for political representation, the powerful thrive on market failure. Economics teaches us that (near-) perfect information is a prerequisite for well functioning markets. Thus, in the market for political representation, the press plays the critical role of finding and relaying information to the public it otherwise would not have, of correcting an information asymmetry. When the press cannot (or does not) do its job, or when the government will not allow it to do so, the government enjoys surplus political capital (support, votes, power) at the expense of the governed.
It is deeply troubling that reporters have succumbed so far to this paradigm of failure that an incident like Friday’s [kerfuffle between The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro and President Obama] shocked the status quo such that a veteran Washington reporter found himself castigated openly by his colleagues.
I hope you’ll read the rest, and share with your friends!
Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of once again visiting the Cato Institute in downtown DC for a book forum. (As a bibliophile, I’m constitutionally required to go. “Constitutionally,” as in, my body would fall apart if I didn’t.) I was particularly interested in last week’s offering, Professor Tim Groseclose’s Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, because it’s something that everyone talks about but no one really believes. What Dr. Groseclose was claiming to do—and really, after reading this book, I don’t think it’s really a claim, it’s proven—was to document this in numbers and math, and thus make it truly science.
I’m not going to repeat the video above; they go quite in depth into what the book is about, and I do encourage you to watch, although it is about an hour long, so get popcorn if you do. (Fortunately, I do not believe there is any threat of seeing my ugly mug, so don’t worry about spit takes on your monitor.) Instead, I’ll provide a few highlights and commentary.
The core idea of the book is, obviously, that there is liberal bias in the media, and moreover, that it actually affects our perceptions and our voting. He does say, though, that this is not from false statements, but bias is actually the choice of topics to cover. Someone with a conservative bias would naturally look to find stories that proved that free market capitalism is the best way to ensure prosperity for all, while someone with a liberal bias would naturally look for a story that showed a corporation ripping off people or poor people not being able to help themselves. No lies, just different focus areas.
MSNBC’s bias against conservatives is well-known. A study released in March by Pew Research showed that the MSNBC relies more on opinion — rather than actual reporting —more than any other network, even more than Fox News.
At this point, there not even trying to hide their bias. Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, recently knocked Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC), telling a crowd that he hoped voters would send her “back to wherever the hell she came from.” Mika Brzezinski, co-host of the MSNBC’s Morning Joe, conceded that the network would have led with the story had a Republican made those classless comments.
Earlier this week, Lawrence O’Donnell, host of the MSNBC’s The Last Word and a self-described socialist, had Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on his show to discuss her terrible student loan proposal, which is also the first bill she has sponsored. At the end of the segment, O’Donnell, who was already a complete hack, turned into a fan boy asked Warren to sign his copy of her legislation:
It’s not a surprise that politicians use a a time of heightened fear or a tradegy to pass legislation or pursue policies that aren’t necessarily in the public’s best interest.
Just after the 2008 financial crisis, President-elect Barack Obama was making a push for his $830+ billion stimulus package. His subordinates were making the rounds on cable news shows and in the press as they tried scare Americans into supporting the plan. In a rare moment of honesty from a politician, Rahm Emanuel, who would later serve as President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, told reports that using the recession for political gain was imperative.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” Emanuel said. “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
During a trip to the European Union in January 2009, the newly minted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience in Brussels that the global recession provided an opportunity for countries to rebuild their economies with so-called “green energy.”
“Never waste a good crisis,” Clinton said, as quoted by Reuters. “Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security.”
The on-going push for new and expanded gun control measures in the Senate is largely based on the same political games — pushing long-held policies at a time when Americans have a sense of uncertainty. While there aren’t many members who’ll say that outloud, the media is certainly highlighting point for them.