Monday, December 03, 2007


Bloggers often are a target for journalists who question their methods, lack of editorial oversight, and lack of impartiality. Some criticisms can be fair, often though the coverage appears to be over the top.

Less often discussed is the impact of people who have the same reach as the majority of bloggers, yet their shortcomings are rarely publically scrutinized. I am referring to small town papers. Googling something on Michelle Bachmann (Crazy Congresswoman-Minnesota), I stumbled upon an article from the Stillwater Courier. The Courier is a small town paper in her district that is part of a larger chain run by Forum Communications with dozens of papers under their umbrella.

Read the whole article for yourself. But I will highlight some of the passages to give you a flavor.

Bachmann noted the improved health of the country’s economy since tax cuts went into effect in 2003, saying that the country’s economy has tripled its growth rate since then. Previous to the tax cuts, the country was losing jobs; now it is adding jobs to its employment rolls, she said. “That’s what happens when you stimulate the economy from the private sector,” she said.

Such stimulation makes an economy “recession proof,” she said, marked by “competition and prosperity.”

No attempt at fact checking these dubious statements was made. There is simple stenography instead. This continues for the entire "article".

The 2008 House of Representatives is intent on raising taxes, Bachmann told the group, something that she will fight against. “I don’t think that’s the direction we want to go if we want to maintain prosperity.”

Other concerns are an energy bill, and a farm bill, which could be written to increase taxes, Bachman said. “It’s easy to go to look for sources of revenue,” she said, without recognizing the implications of what that would do to the economy.

There isn't any of the crappy "he said/she said" faux journalism. Michelle Bachmann said it. This is nothing other than a glorified press release. Small town papers like these may have low circulation, but often they have the same editorial and reporting bent.

They have websites like bloggers, print copies in circulation, and when you consider their cumulative effect with total circulation nationwide, quite an impact. Where are the Howie Kurtz's demanding better reporting for these papers that reach heartland voters? Where are the talking heads tsk tsking about the unprofessional jobs done by their small town brethren?

Speaking of which, a few days ago, my nemesis (ABC News Radio) ran a piece on how horrible the situation is in Venezuela because of Hugo Chavez and how the people there are starving because of his level of suckitude. Not being the world's biggest Chavez fan, I am still offended at the double standard in the press. Right wing dictators rarely if ever get this kind of one sided slanted coverage. Atrios summed up my thoughts on this issue succinctly.

I always find Hugo Chavez to be a somewhat annoying subject because he's neither the Satanic Hitler as reflected universally in our media (and it's really creepy how much he's distorted) nor the Great Savior Of The Left. He's a left wing populist with an authoritarian streak, but no matter what they say it's "left wing populist" which makes the Villagers froth, not the authoritarian part. There are plenty of dictators around the world which get respectful treatment from our media, and the anti-Democratic authoritarian actions of our own president disturb them not at all.

But, in any case, it seems the dictator lost an election. Strange dictatorship indeed.

Anyway, watching US media coverage of Venezuela makes me realize that US coverage of foreign affairs is utterly corrupted by something.

If we would be spared the fair and balanced crap, our media would be free to be biased against left wing authoritarians all they want, and still be credible in their mission. The reporting on Venezuela is worse than Chavez. The "dictator" did lose an election and accepted the results. The press should reflect on their coverage and ask collectively why they are harder on Chavez than the King of Saudi Arabia.

If you are going to proudly stand on the principle of neutrality, be neutral. No?