Sunday, January 15, 2006

NYT: Carlotta Gall brings you news, Adam Nagourney brings you fluff

There are some e-mails asking about the morning's post. It's going up now (it's up if you're reading it, this is it). I have a really bad case of swimmer's ear and it slowed down The Third Estate Sunday Review as well as this site. We'll all have to work with it/through it.

So what's in the New York Times?

Better question, what's in this morning's paper worth reading?

Carlotta Gall covers Pakistan's reaction to our "airstrike" that killed civilians. Gall's "Airstrike by U.S. Draws Protests From Pakistanis" informs you that the government of Pakistan is "confident that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda and the target of the strike, had not been in the village when it was hit." However, eighteen civilians were killed, six of them children. Killing children? Gee, some might call that state-sponsored terrorism.

Pakastin's president Pervez Musharraf is quoted as saying (to the people of Sawabi) "We are looking into it, as to who has done it. We are looking into it, that there were people who came from outside."

What's the worst article in this morning's paper (main section, news section, only)? That could be a draw were it not for the fact that Adam Nagourney (who reports like Scooby Doo's Velma in search of her glasses) has a front page story. When the Dems, especially centrist Dems, need a stenography they go with Kelly Boy Adam.

"Glum Democrats Can't See Halting Bush on Courts" blares the headline (possibly offering more depth than the article). The byline? Nagourney wrote it. But for laughs (and to spread the blame around) we'll include the byline in full (remember when byline's just listed the name of the reporters?):

This article was reported by Adam Nagourney, Richard W. Stevenson, and Neil A Lewis and was written by Mr. Nagourney.

All that was needed was "by Adam Nagourney, Richard W. Stevenson and Neil A. Lewis." Nagourney acted like a glory hog, now he can be a blame hog.

There is so much wrong with this article that goes far beyond the "conventional wisdom" that finds Adam Nagourney out of the loop more often than in it.

His constant coverage of the DNC race was flat wrong -- and we noted that in real time while it was ongoing. The same problems that led to getting that wrong -- the coziness with centrists -- is at the heart of the problems with this article. Also taking up space in the lifeless heart is his tendency to run with conventional wisdom. You saw that at it's worst in November of 2004 when he co-authored the trend/myth story of the value voters that attempted to summarize a poll but instead selectively used data to stroke the results into a nice conventional spin. Spin that happened to be wrong; hence, his refuting the myth in January of 2005 while never making a point in that article to note that he co-wrote the mythical story for the Times. (Outside the paper, many others had a hand in promoting that nonsense. In terms of the Times, it fell to Janet Elder and Adam Nagourney.) (And we should note that while that myth/spin was taking hold, Frank Rich was refuting in the pages of the New York Times.)

The right-wing press falls all over themselves painting Nagourney as a raving liberal. Hint to the right-wing, liberals, raving or otherwise, rarely last in the main section of the paper. Centrists is what saved the paper from ruin, centrists is what they carry to the bank, day after dull day. If the right wants to paint him as in bed with the DLC, by all means do so. But we'll try to avoid calling McCain right-wing (the extreme right doesn't claim him) if they can stop confusing Nagourney with those of us who are left.

Before we go any further, question: Does Nagourney fancy himself a gentleman or does he just think women are so unimportant that they're not worthy of a critique? Considering Diane Feinstein's embarrassing performance in the hearings, it's surprising that she's not mentioned once in his long (overly long) article.

What we get is Adam telling us all about the secret summit (read "secret" -- the Times always enjoys thinking they know more than readers -- quite often that's true since they fail to report so much on the pages of the paper). The Dems were told by legal experts that if they made the case that Alito was out of the norm in his views, they could stop the nomination.

Now, Adam explains it all, the Dems realize that they can't stop a Bush nominee, even one out of the norm.

If you're missing it, and maybe this was more clear if you were in DC and seeing the negoitations going on, some in the party are hoping to use that myth to steer the party ever more right ward.
I don't have time for Nagourney's crap and I don't think Americans who care about the Democratic Party do either.

He's the errand boy for the DLC pushing each and every spin. We're supposed to believe that the Dems put up a brave fight but in the end lost so now the message to take away from the proceedings is that America isn't interested in partisanship. (Nagourney, I heard the same crap talking points on Wednesday, why did it take you until Sunday to get it in the paper?) So the answer is, as it always is when it comes from the DLC, to move away from "left/right" and (here's the nonsurprise) move to the center. (The ever rightward shifting center.)

This talking point began being floated on Tuesday. It was crafted in its present state (the way it's reported in the Times this morning) on Wednesday. It wasn't true then and it's not true now.

The Dems did a lousy job. The message at the summit was to paint Alito out of the mainstream. If anyone was supposed to get that Alito had horns, they didn't get it from Diane Feinstein aping Mother Confessor Barbara Walters. They certainly didn't get it from Kohl acting tentative and, when he finally had something to say, speaking so softly that people present were straining to hear him.

The message of the summit was to bear down on how out of the mainstream Alito was (which I believe he is). The Dems didn't do that. You did have Ted Kennedy doing the job that he so frequently is the only one doing. You can note Feingold. But as a team, they didn't do the job that they were advised to.

Feinstein was serving tea and cookies. (Trina has good comment on this in her post on Saturday -- one highlight: "As my sister-in-law Peggy said, 'Donna Reed had more bite.'")
She couldn't have come off more heavenly unless she donned a white robe and matching turban.
Biden did well with his prepared questions, when he stuck to them. Too often, he "improved" on them (adding more and more words) and, worst of all, he wasn't able to devise a coherent follow up because he didn't appear to be listening closely.

There was no organized plan. It was as though they listened in the summit saying "Uh-huh, Uh-huh, Uh-huh. Got you!" and then went off and decided to do whatever they wanted. The strategy didn't fail, the execution of it did.

But when ever the Dems stumble, the DLC is there to scream for a march to the right and they've got Nagourney on something (I won't claim it's "speed dial" since the main talking point of his article was well known on Wednesday) and he rushes it into print as fact.

The most repeated comment to me, all last week, by friends in the press was that the Dems weren't fighting. Now maybe Nagourney doesn't speak to his peers (not surprising if that's the case, he's not well thought of, I was surprised that Richard W. Stevenson was -- so someone can pass that along to him that he's rated highly by his peers), but he's yet again missed the story.

And the question asked the most often about Nagourney is if he is deliberately missing the boat? Is that how you succeed at the Times? He takes every thing he's spoon fed by his centrist sources and runs with it as fact. Does he do that to be a good lapdog for the paper or is he really that out of it that he can't see with his own eyes what went down?

When there are myths to be made a set group reads from the same page. So expect to hear Cokie Roberts clutch the pearls on NPR make the same points. (Possibly Monday if she's not holidaying to honor the "progress" she feels war brings to African-Americans.) Expect the usual suspects to cluck over how the Dems tried to be left and it didn't work out so the only thing to do is to move to the center.

Most of the time with Nagourney's stories, I just ignore them because they are so worthless as they cobble together talking points that made the rounds as trial balloons before being firmed up and then megaphoned through his ilk. When he's pushing the trend story that will be accepted as fact, I do make a point to weigh in. This is a trend story and you're going to hear a lot of it.

You're going to hear the lie that the Democrats did a fine, outstanding job trying to prove that Alito was out of the mainstream. Go to the transcripts if you find yourself soaked in spin and losing your hold on reality. (Or check out Pacifica's main page because I'm sure they'll archive their live broadcast as they did with the Roberts hearings.)

The Democrats were ineffectual. They did a lousy job making a case. And, please note, the Times sometimes pointed this out in real time. But here's Nagourney, rewriting history. He is the DLC errand boy, he is the DLC cleaner come in to clean up the mess and hide the body. Or, to put it in Times terms, he's the anti-Scott Shane. He's the type of reporter that requires his own minder to follow up his reporting. (Probably because he's so busy being all thing to the DLC.)

And if that hurts Nagourney's feelings (this is the "man" who ran to Daniel Okrent) too bad. I'm not in the mood to put up with nonsense. (Want to really hurt his feelings? Point out that a leg isn't part of the "inside gang" no matter how well he repeats spin.)

George e-mailed to ask where was something about yesterday's broadcast of RadioNation with Laura Flanders?

It's at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Here's a list of their new content:

"A Note to Our readers"
"Editorial: Senate Judiciary Dems Go Stand in the Corner"
State of the Party (in question), State of the Country (Purple, ask Laura Flanders)"
TV Review: Four Kings? They're bluffing"
Day by Day coverage of the Alito fan club"
Pacifica Radio programs to note"
Five Books, How Many Minutes?"

"State of the Party (in question), State of the Country (Purple, ask Laura Flanders)" is the one on yesterday's broadcast.

I'm assuming George is asking about a commentary of the show because Kat did do a heads up yesterday. (And George wrote this morning.) Today, as Kat noted, the line up is:

On Sunday, our journalists' roundtable features RYAN TRONIER of KRCL's "RadioActive" and ROBERT GEHRKE, DC correspondent for the Salt Lake Tribune. We'll also hear from environmentalists achieving the impossible with among others, TomDispatch contributor CHIP WARD.
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

Remember that the programs airs live from seven to ten pm eastern standard time.