Mainstream Media Fail

10 05 2010

I heard last night that Obama was planning on nominating Elena Kagan, former dean of Harvard Law, to replace Justice John Paul Stevens in the Supreme Court. I don’t know much about her, so I decided to do some Googling and see what she was all about.

Instead of finding an objective portrait of Kagan and a reasoned evaluation of her potential as a SCOTUS Justice, as I hoped, I found the most ridiculously obvious display of media bias I’ve ever seen on the web.  Sure, you expect somebody like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh to skew everything to the right, just as you expect Rachel Maddow to view everything through a liberal lens.   But I thought FoxNews.com and ABCNews.com had to at least pretend to deliver unbiased news.

In ABCNews.com’s coverage of Kagan, they use a relatively flattering picture of her.  She’s kind of smiling a half smile, appears well-dressed, and has her hands spread out as if she is Jesus and the world is hungrily lapping up her words.

The headline reads, “Supreme Pick? Elena Kagan Gets Nod as Obama Nominee.”  And the article begins:

President Obama has selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, ABC News has learned.

If her nomination is approved by the Senate, Kagan would fill the seat left open by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth woman ever to sit on the nation’s highest court.

Kagan, 50, is considered one of the finest legal scholars in the country, dazzling both fellow liberal and conservative friends with her intellectual and analytical prowess but also her ability to find consensus among ideological opposites.

“She’s a solid, hard working, intelligent, really smart lawyer, who’s had an extraordinary amount of experience in the law even though she hasn’t been a judge,” said Greg Craig, former White House counsel, on “Good Morning America.” “Politically, I think she’s also as mainstream as they can get.”

We are left with a delicious taste in our mouths.  She’s supreme!  She’s a woman!  She’s dazzling and impressive!

Flip over to FoxNews.com.  Here’s the picture they use:

It’s about as unflattering as a picture can get.  Her skin is pale, her hair looks thin, and it appears as if she just picked a booger and is rolling it around in her left hand as she snaps at somebody off camera.  Directly under this picture on the front page, the teaser reads: “President Obama set to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to Supreme Court, potentially making her the first justice without judicial experience in 38 years.”

The article reads:

If confirmed by the Senate, the relatively young Kagan– 50 years old– will fill the gap left by the imminent retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.

The pick is hardly a surprise; as speculation over a handful of choices finally settled on Kagan over the weekend. Liberals and conservatives alike speculatively staked out positions on her nomination. Conservatives have already said Kagan’s confirmation would amount to a rubber stamp of the Obama agenda that many Americans are opposed to.

Hurdles for Kagan in her confirmation process could include the fact that she has never been a judge and her push to oust military recruiters from the Harvard Law School campus when she was dean. Kagan opposes the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Democrats, on the other hand, may like that Kagan is known for her ability to coalesce opposing sides and the fact that when she worked for President Clinton, she successfully negotiated with Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) for federal authority to control the sale of cigarettes.

Zero mention of the fact that she’d be the fourth woman ever to sit on the court, zero mention of her record of achievement, and the only mention of her being dean at Harvard Law is buried in a comment about her “ousting” military recruiters, because that’s sure to rile up Republicans.  The one positive thing they attempt to say about her is that Democrats might like her because she negotiated with McCain to control the sale of cigarettes.  Obviously conservatives are not expected to see this as a positive, but rather another example of her pushing Obama’s socialist agenda.

I mean, maybe I’m just pointing out the obvious here, but isn’t that a little disturbing?  Where can we turn to assure that we get a fair, objective report of political news? Is there even such thing?  What about people like me, who honestly don’t know anything about Elena Kagan and would like someone who is completely free of political agenda to tell me what she’s about, what her nomination means for the future of the court and which way she likely to vote on issues that matter to me?

Fox, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, if you are reading this: I’m pissed.  Please leave the opinionating to the blogs and give it to us straight.

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15 responses

10 05 2010
bros

either way you slice it, she looks like an underdone egg fetus.

10 05 2010
bros

oh, and NPR had a very good balanced and comprehensive report on her this morning, which is what I woke up to. thank god for npr.

to be fair, their leader says the same thing about her not having judge experience.

“The president has chosen the solicitor general and former Harvard Law School dean for the position. Elena Kagan, 50, would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. If she is confirmed, the court will have three women serving for the first time in its history.”

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126657976

10 05 2010
geof

No way, she is hard-boiled.

Commercial capitalism panders to the LCD that will give them enough market share to pay the bills and stockholder dividends. I think the journalists who work for the big commercial news orgs get caught up in that and lose sight of what’s important, if they ever had a clue about it.

10 05 2010
bros

she’s a little bit humpty dumpty. with a dash of mr. potato head.

10 05 2010
geof

let’s hope all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are a little more capable this time around

10 05 2010
BS

There is no such thing as unbiased news, anywhere. Every reporter or newspaper, or commentator is showing you the world through his lens.

From a left standpoint, Glenn Greenwald (former constitutional lawyer) has been highly critical of the pick and has written a lot about it.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/index.html

10 05 2010
BS

also, debate regarding kegan on dem now this morning: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/10/progressives_divided_over_obamas_nomination_of

10 05 2010
AtoP

Right on BS.

We must not forget: most media outlets are businesses. Thus, MSM gives their audience what they want to hear, not necessarily what they need to know. — I don’t blame the media for this, I blame their subscribers for expecting something that never was and never will be–“unbiased reporting”.

The only way to find some level of informative reporting is to read between the lines of opposing viewpoints. If we choose to remain sponges and accept whatever we are told, we will never be truly informed.

10 05 2010
swirlz

Wonder whether she’ll come out while a sitting judge; doubt it. Betcha she’ll select hot clerk-ladies. 6 catholics and 3 jews? Now that is a strange bunch. God I wish NPR and BBC weren’t so boring, but you’ve identified the alternatives, and the alternatives are…us.

10 05 2010
leverman

Which one is the flattering picture, I forget. 🙂

I was thinking of the same issue reading Doonesbury the other day. Every so often he has a Sarah Palin character and last week I was struck by how harsh and almost ugly the cartoon version of Palin is in his cartoons. If i knew how to post a picture of it here, I would.

http://www.thepoliticalcarnival.net/2010/04/doonesbury-sarah-palin-action-dolls-tea/

Whether you like Palin or not, she is a very attractive lady (indeed if she was not, I doubt we would have ever heard of her). Gary Trudeau, Doonesbury creator, obviously could have drawn a more attractive Palin than he did. As an aside, its interesting to me who cannot draw a proper stickman how some people can draw likenesses of another. Trudeau could have done a pretty palin or an ugly one, yet we would have recognized both. How do they do that?

Back to my point, there is not much balance in the media out there. And its not just in pictures, its in writing about someone or a topic and telling only part of the story.

I have moved to the middle in my old age. I know it sounds boring and people in the middle sometimes seem to have less passion than those on the edges, be it the left or the right edge.

I have found that the truth and the answer often lies in the middle. Not always, but more often than not it does. I think I might start the “middle party”. Instead of red or blue, our color will be a nice beige. People who work on our news network must have balanced views, the women reporters can only be cool or warm, not smoking hot like the Fox girls. My network would have tried to find a more neutral picture of Kagan, of that you can be sure. Then again, our ratings will probably suck. Given the choice between our middle magazine at the checkout counter and a National Enquirer cover about Lindsay Lohan having Britney Spears baby, I am afraid we lose.

10 05 2010
districtramblings

Yea, sorry. I’m not going to buy your beige magazine with a neutral picture of someone mildly attractive on it, but I would appreciate your attempt at unbiased news.

10 05 2010
graber

i think the unbiased view is that she kinda looks like a dude.

11 05 2010
BS

My favorite example of this was a couple of years ago. Here is Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s nuclear head. He has his phd, from MIT. He is a very calm guy.

Image of him: http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/10/09/alg_ali-akbar-salehi.jpg

Video interview of him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GR3KyiXhdY

Now, here is the picture of him that most main stream media outlets used when he was first announced.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/17/ali-akbar-salehi-ahmadine_n_237530.html

Looks like he just got finished eating some little american babies.

13 05 2010
Vjane

I read that she is not the first to lack judicial experience. In fact I looked up on Google and it says 40 out of the 111 justices on the supreme court did not have prior judicial experience when appointed to the court. Why don’t they mention that when pushing her cause ???

19 05 2010
Vjane

i’m coming in late with this one but reading about the bias media, I began to think about the obituaries. I read them in our paper in the morning just to be sure I didnt die during the night. Many of them here start out with So and So has gone to live with her lord. I love that. then it goes on to tell all the wonderful things that So and So did during her life. Wonderful wife, Mother, volunteer wonderful this and that. I have never read a negative word about the person who has gone to live with her Lord. I guess it is only fair that So and So gets an A plus for her live because she cant talk back.
But the “victim” in this case Kagan, has a chance to talk back when she is grilled and probably fried because she may be a lesbian, or because she likes to play soft ball.

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