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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Post-NH Wrap 

Gotta admit...article wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. He focused largely on exit polling data at the end, rather than the punditry. Good.

The Post-NH Wrap 

Gotta admit...article wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. He focused largely on exit polling data at the end, rather than the punditry. Good for him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Let's Play A Game - Impress Dan! 

Point 15 of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics (thanks fact-esque)is:
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Finally with his own by-line, Dan Balz is once again making up his own standards for the candidates, this time for the February 3rd states. This sort of analysis should be saved for the op-ed pages, or at least clearly labeled as such. The Balzian expectations/challenges are:This is not journalism. This is the job of the punditry. He forgets that his readers rely on him as an objective source of information about the next Democratic Nominee. Most people don't have the time or desire to do more research than reading the newspaper. However, Balz appears to be resorting to his base instincts. Rather than writing about what actually matters [Read: Issues], he takes the easy route out and decides to set expectations. That is the right of voters, not reporters.

Stay tuned 'till tomorrow, when we focus on who beat Dan's NH expectations, and who didn't.

Letter to the Editor 

Esther Riley's letter to the editor in today's WaPo makes an excellent point about the equal time (or lack thereof) given to the various candidates. Kudos.

Letter to the Editor 

Esther Riley's letter to the editor in today's WaPo makes an excellent point about the equal time (or lack thereof) given to the various candidates. Kudos to you.

Monday, January 26, 2004

I Guess Somebody Reads This Blog 

A recently posted article, co-written by William Branigin and John F. Harris, mainly focuses on Dean, with mentions of Clark and Kerry events. It appears that Balz is talking more about dirty tricks, this time in the way of anonymous emails and faxes. It would be helpful for them to mention the commonality of these sorts of things.

Is that a new meme I smell? 

Howard "Walking Conflict of Interest" Kurtz appears to be starting a Kerry's-Getting-the-Easy-Treatment Meme. I'm reminded of all the Dean's-Getting-the-Easy-Treatment stories around last September. I think we all know how that ended working out. Now it's time to wonder how much Kerry will get Gored, assuming he's the frontrunner long enough for the media to get a hold of him.

New Hampshire's Almost Done 

Dan Balz and Paul Schwartzman, along with contributions from David S. Broder, Paul Farhi, Jonathan Finer and Vanessa Williams wrote another hodgepodge about last-minute campaign events. For a different take on some of the mentioned events, take a glance at Josh Marshall. My big beef is the first paragraph,
"The Democratic presidential candidates called in all available reinforcements Sunday as the campaigning for Tuesday's New Hampshire primary entered its frantic final hours."
The candidates did not call in all available reinforcements, as their staff currently in states with later primaries stayed there. That is in direct contrast to the mryiad of staffers who went to Iowa as the caucus drew near. It would be fair to say they had surrogates and endorsers in the state, but that's not what was said.

I also have a beef with this out-of-context quote: "[Dean] added that the war had serious consequences for the Iraqi people, including the loss of many lives and a living standard that 'is lot worse now' than it was." Problem is, Dean was referring to dead Iraqis, not Iraqis in general. He also says that Dean was attempting to specifically court female voters, without ever explaining how. I also don't like the lack of equal time found in this paragraph buried at the end:

Outside the Hullabaloo Coffee Shop in Claremont, Dean supporters passed out video cassettes of the Deans' interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on Thursday while Edwards was speaking inside.
This is an unusual passage. I went to New Hampshire this weekend, and found that this sort of thing is very common. A Dean volunteer I spoke to said that one of Clark's bodymen attempted to convince him to switch to the General's side. An Edwards supporter was putting fliers on cars at a Dean rally. Odd that he only mentioned Dean supporters doing this, rather than acknowledging all the campaigns have been doing these sorts of things.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

I'm Back 

Operation Fix Computer has been a success, although I appear to have missed chances to be in news articles at wired and NPR. Journalists, feel free make my mom a happy woman and give me a mention. Now back to posting. Rather than reposting Mr. Balz's articles over the past week, I'm just going to over-generalize the two big memes that have come and gone recently. First:

Dean's "Scream Speech" is the end of his campaign.

This sort of Media Speculation is bad for a number of reasons. It focuses the coverage on process, rather than issues. It often causes self-fulfilling prophecies. It is impossible to predict the future. Mr. Balz mentioned it (logically) but not with the venom many other journalists did. Kudos. Also:

Dean's Debate Performance Will Make or Break His Campaign.

Again, this is wrong. I can count on one hand the number of times that a single event made or lost a Presidential Campaign (Nixon Debates, Muskie Crying and the Mondale-Regan Debates come to mind.) Although important, it would be unfathomable to assume that the debate was his only chance. It does add a deal of drama, the reason that it the media attempted to build it up,but does not jive well with the facts.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Technical Difficulties 

Some computer problems...expect sparse posts for the time being...hopefully all will be fixed soon.

Technical Difficulties 

Some computer problems...expect sparse posts for the time being.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The results are in... 

Dan Balz is starting (along with contributions from David Broder) the anybody's-race meme, meaning that the Bash-Dean movement has been a success, from the Media's point of view. We now have plenty of drama, and a race that could last until the Convention. I can almost hear the glee in the first two paragraphs:
Iowa Democrats dealt a serious blow to the once front-running campaign of Howard Dean here Monday night and to predictions that the Democratic presidential race might end as quickly as it began.

With the big victory of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the party faces an open and potentially protracted contest to find a nominee to challenge President Bush in the fall.

He also began to make a mention of a Dean-Can't-Lose-NH theme, as he claims Dean needs to take first to remain viable. We'll be seeing alot of that in the next week, a la Gephardt-Can't-Lose-IA theme. Speaking of 'ole Gep, Balz almost ignores his imminent withdrawl from the race (one short paragraph.) Anywho, My prediction is the Media will be spinning this as Dean/Clark/Kerry/Edwards as the frontrunners, with Lieberman having an outside chance.

The results are in... 

Dan Balz is starting (along with contributions from David Broder) the anybody's-race meme, meaning that the Bash-Dean movement has been a success, from the Media's point of view. We now have plenty of drama, and a race that could last until the Convention. I can almost hear the glee in the first two paragraphs:
Iowa Democrats dealt a serious blow to the once front-running campaign of Howard Dean here Monday night and to predictions that the Democratic presidential race might end as quickly as it began.

With the big victory of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the party faces an open and potentially protracted contest to find a nominee to challenge President Bush in the fall.

He also began to make a mention of a Dean-Can't-Lose-NH theme, as he claims Dean needs to take first to remain viable. We'll be seeing alot of that in the next week, a la Gephardt-Can't-Lose-IA theme. Speaking of 'ole Gep, Balz almost ignores his imminent withdrawl from the race (one short paragraph.)

We have a Busy Balz 

Many articles written, due to the end of the Iowa Caucuses. First, a pre-Cacusus Logistics Article. Strangely, he references ABC's The Note on the "organization v. momentum" argument, when every pundit in the country was saying the same thing.

He also participated in an online discussion. He predicted Kerry's organization was better than people expected (props,) and appeared to imply that they would do well. I disagree with his analysis of Bush's current popularity, as recent polling (which he said he read) is not positive for the President. He strangely takes into account the positive effect of the Iran hostage situation on Carter's approval rating, yet ignores the Saddam factor temporarily helping Bush, which just goes to help prove my unique theory: The Media Loves Bush.

Monday, January 19, 2004

The Anti-Dean Media Part III 

It seems that the "Mainstream Media" is starting to get the message on Anti-Deanism, as seen in this article by Public Editor Daniel Okrent. It's certainly good that these sorts of abuses are starting to get recognized, although Economists for Dean takes it in a much more negative light. I'd like to point out one line that we should keep in mind:
Think of a politician you dislike - maybe one of the Democrats Dean is battling - and substitute his name for Dean's in any piece about your man. If it still sounds unfair, there's the possibility it is. But without passing such a test, you're left not with ''an insult to our democracy," as one of my correspondents calls the paper's campaign coverage, but with journalism.
This article is a good first step, and it'll remain to be seen if Wilgoren gets the message. However, we need to continue emailing ombudsmen and reporters whenever we see bias, especially with those reporters with a history of abusive reporting (Mr. Balz is among the least of the offenders, although he still follows the pack.) To Mr. Okrent, for whom I have newfound respect, congratulations on taking the first step to restore your publication's credibility. However, most of the kudos belong to William of the Wilgoren Watch and all those emailers, who helped make this happen.

The Anti-Dean Media Part III 

It seems that the "Mainstream Media" is getting the message on Anti-Deanism, as seen in this article by Public Editor (Ombudsman) Daniel Okrent, a man I have newfound respect for, has written a column vindicating many of our claims. Now we have to ensure that certain other unfair reporters (which don't include Mr. Balz) are tattled on to the Ombudsmen. It's the only way to ensure that the media recaptures its objectivity. Kudos to William of the Wilgoren Watch and those emailers to help make this happen.

Dan Balz on the Iowa Race...Again 

Although it's well-written, it's the same four-way tossup article. A bit repetitive, but hopefully he'll write some articles about issues at some point, rather than just predicting the finish. This time, Ceci Connolly, Vanessa Williams (a different one, I imagine) and David Broder contributed.

If Somebody Doesn't Watch Nedra Pickler Soon... 

Normally, I don't like to use this space to talk about other journalists, but this article
is asking to be shot down. Problems:Generally, I believe that journalists are motiviated by non-ideological motives. This, ladies and gents, is the exception that proves the rule.

UPDATE: Just caught the video on MSNBC. Judy Dean was not at all nervious, as stated in the article. That Pickler Watch can't start soon enough...

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Anti-Dean Media Part II 

Now lets relate my earlier post on this to Dan Balz. He's written (or co-written) articles over the past two months entitled (deep breath):

"Dean's Rivals Question Campaign's Tone in Iowa; Kerry, Edwards Say Anger Won't Win White House"
"Dean Must Show Strength, Iowa Governor Says; Vilsack Contends Candidate May Be Vulnerable to GOP Criticism That He Is Not Tough Enough"
"Other Candidates Question Dean's Record, Experience"
"Dean Records May Remain Sealed; Addressing Criticism from GOP, He Says Decision Is Complicated"
"As Anti-Dean Forces Shrink, Their Battle Grows More Urgent"
"Democratic Rivals Dismiss Dean's Chances; In Final Debate, They Assert That Race for Presidential Nomination Is Not Over"
"Lieberman Lashes Out at Dean; Senator Says Endorsement Runs Counter to Gore's Views"
"Gephardt Wins S.C. Backing; Kerry Attacks Dean on War"
"Gephardt Challenges Dean on Enron Ties; Vermont Records' Release Sought"
"A Boost for Bush and His Foreign Policy; Capture Weakens Democrats' Argument Against President,"
"Rivals Assail Dean on Hussein Remark; Front-Runner Says Ex-Iraqi Leader's Capture Will Not Make U.S. Safer"
"As Pre-Primary Season Closes, Questions Cling to Dean's Gains (quoted below)"
"Lieberman: Dean Will 'Melt' Under GOP Attacks; Rival Says It Was 'Outrageous' for Front-Runner to Suggest Party Shield Him"
"A Double-Edged Swipe at Dean; Gephardt Questions Rival's Health Care Record and Temperament"
"Clark Touts Security Strength; Candidate Says President And Dean Lack Expertise"
"Dean Absorbs Most Attacks From Rivals; At Debate, Front-Runner Hit on Remarks and Record"
"Kerry Attacks Dean, Gephardt On Tax Issue; Senator Says Plans Would Hurt Working Families"
"In Iowa, Dean Is Again Target; Rivals Cite Record On Minorities In Final Debate,"
"Dean Goes on Offensive in Iowa; Democrat 'Tired of Being a Pincushion"

First, thank you Lexis-Nexis. Secondly, I think we all note the trend, which has been pretty common. The media has been acting very much in its own interest in bashing Dean. Unfortunately, Mr. Balz is not above this (note to watchers: check out your guy's history on this). There are, regrettably, very few issue-oriented articles. Although I know it is a tired refrain, I hereby challenge Dan Balz (along with other campaign journalists) to write as many issue articles as they do on horseraces.

Meet the Press, Meet the Press, Step Right Up and Meet the Press 

Dan Balz joined a roundtable today with Tom Brokaw, Joe Klein and Roger Simon. It's the same 'ole analysis, but with a mention (by Brokaw) of how the State of the Union may decrease the Iowa bump.
UPDATE: Transcript (scroll down for Balz)

What is a Caucus, Anyway? 

Dan Balz writes a second sound article today, this time explaining what a caucus is, which can be difficult (I tried with my parents last night.) If you're curious, click the link.

An Anecdote Article 

Today's front page article, with contributions from Ceci Connolly and Vanessa Williams, is a hodgepodge of quotes from mainly undecided Iowans, with a mention of last night's Des Moines Register Poll. In a race this fluid, it's a good technique for emphasizing the volatility of the race, and how undecided most Iowans are. Well done.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Anti-Dean Media Part I 

Housekeeping notes My apologies for those of you who saw mysterious postings. I'm still getting use to the blogspot sotware. Anywho, this is gong to be the first part of my ranting on the subject. Secondly, I will be blogging about Dan Balz on Washington Week yesterday when the transcripts become available (although I blog, I have a social life) and his show on MTP tomorrow morning.

We lead off with the obligatory links about the Media's paying alot of attention to the Media paying alot of attention to Howard Dean's "Anger Problem" here, here, here (and really funny) here, here, here (guess which ex-Pres. Newsmax blames) and here.

It seems prety clear to me that the Media's being Gore-ing Dean rather unfairly. See the ridiculous, Drudge-syle Trooper story or my collegue at Wilgoren Watch on Dr. Judith Dean. The theories I've heard/come up with are (feel free to submit your own):

Odds are, it's a combination of all of them, besides the last one. I also doubt the next-to-last one being a major factor. The Establishment is something of a myth, as its often seen as a monolithic punching bag (and I acknowledge the Media is too, but we're gonna ignore the irony for the purpose of these posts.) While there are Beltway Democrats, (see Daschle, Mcauliffe, Gephardt, etc,) they rarely think or act alike, which is part of the problem with the modern Democratic Party. Their power is also greatly exaggerated, as it is largely limited to memo writing.

I also doubt that the Media's Bush Affair has that much to do with it either. Although they have their favorites, (McCain certainly comes to mind,) the Media is out for self-interest, not ideology. It is certainly in the Media's interest to have as close a race as possible, with as many horse racing analogies as they can find. There's nothing they love more than drama. Journalists have a vested, non-ideological interest in writing articles about juicy scandals, Russert-style gotcha quotes, and neck-and-neck finishes. Keep that last statement in mind until we meet again.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Balz on Front Page 

Today's latest article, Democratic Candidates Launch Final Push was co-written by William Branigin and features contributions from John F. Harris. The point is that Iowa is anybody's game. It's focused on John Kerry for close to the first half, who, judging by the picture, is doing an excellent job practicing his imaginary handshaking. He gives two pedestrian paragraphs of qutoes, apparentally because he's leading the tracking polls. There are also quotes from Joe Trippi and Dick Gephardt.
My two gripes are:

Yesterday's Front Page 

I'm gonna backtrack a bit to yesterday's solo-written front page analysis about Dean's grassroots. It follows the Dean-Is-Falling meme that's been very common in the media. Most of it is questioning whether or not Dean's grassroots will reliable. A couple of things stuck out at me, firstly:

But on the eve of the first critical votes of 2004, Dean's campaign is showing obvious signs of nervousness. His campaign is now less about cyber-innovation and more about delivering support from Democratic voters..."
I'm not quite sure what he means about the campaign being "less about cyber-innovation." I've been hearing for months that Dean was going to rely on that "latte-drinking freak show" (note: sarcasm). Seconldy:

[N]or has he been the pick of the elected officials in his party.
I think Mr. Balz is ignoring or forgot that Dean is leading in terms of superdelegates (according to most unofficial counts), Congressional endorsements (impressive for one who never served there) and in mega-endorsements (Gore, Bradley, Harkin, whatever Carter's going to do Sunday.) He may have meant to say (correctly) that Dean was not the overwhelming pick, or that Dean (correctly) has been unpopular with much of the "establishment." However, he specified "elected officials," which is unusual. An unofficial Dean Endorsement Database is here. Otherwise, it's a run-of-the-mill article, with your typical Campaign Guru Joe Trippi quotes, and no real answer to the question of "whether Dean has built his campaign on a solid foundation or one that will fracture if there is a setback or defeat." I'll let you know Tuesday, although I think they'll hold.

Dan Balz in Audio 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/mmedia/politics/011604-1s.htm

Mr. Balz plays political analyst, talking about endorsements, horseraces and how poll numbers will turn into votes. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid analysis. No transcript available-link opens audio file.

Dan Balz on Sen. Mosley-Braun's Withdrawal 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19941-2004Jan15.html

Mr. Balz's (now in Iowa) latest article, co-written by William Branigin and John F. Harris, is on Carol Moseley-Braun's withdrawal from the Presidential race and endorsement of Howard Dean. The article begins with a summary of the announcement event in Caroll, Iowa (no relation.) They then focus on Moseley-Braun's impact on the race, implying that it may help some in South Carolina, but is largely of symbolic importance. There also a few paragraphs summing up her run.

There's a slight factual misstatement in the article, however. In paragraph 15, Branigin/Harris/Balz imply that there were no latinos or blacks in high posts in Dean's administration. However, that's only true for cabinet-level positions. Perhaps a clarification is in order.

They also wade down into horserace coverage (easiest way to fill space). Dean Campaign Manager Joe Trippi is allowed to spin John Zogby's latest poll, but don't quote other campaigns.

It's adequately written, and not a set of talking points. Although not perfect, this article is acceptable.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Welcome to the BalzBlog 

[cue voiceover and dramatic music]
In every generation , there are chosen ones. They will stand against the ideologues, biased reporting and the opinionated journalists. They are the WATCHERS.

Hopefully, we all get the Buffy reference.

This blog will be devoted to the work of Washington Post National Staff Writer Dan Balz, as part of the Adopt-a-Journalist campaign. I am your humble watcher, Eric, and I hope to give you both unbiased criticism and praise of Mr. Balz. Feel free to email me your critiques of my critiques, or whatever thoughts happen to come into your head.

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