Try Not To Barf

…while you read Glenn Greenwald describe how Mark Halperin, political director for ABC News, spent three hours groveling at the feet of Hugh Hewitt. Recall earlier statements by Halperin and ABC’s blame-it-all-on-Clinton “documentary.” Add this latest embarrassment and you don’t need a crystal ball to see that Halperin has decided to give up on fairness and chase the FOX demographic wherever it leads. I think that Billmon recently summed up best what is going on here – business is business, and fairness just doesn’t pay the bills.

Sadly I think that Mark Halperin had a real brainfart. The FOX demographic won’t follow ABC’s namby-pamby under-the-radar rightwing bias when they can get the real thing on Cable, and anyway they will never trust an outlet that employs Brian Ross. Would FOX News keep a world-famous enabler of terrorists on staff? Of course not. Plus you have to wonder about Halperin’s timing. Jumping boldly to the right after 9/11 would have had enough internal logic that the ‘wingers might not see it as pandering, and it would have given ABC five or six good years to join or even lead the violent domination of the national discourse by rightwingers. They would have made money hand over fist.

Today, where’s the benefit? The conservative wave has crested. Other than a few dead-enders like Hewitt rightwing pundits across the board (Richard Viguerie, Peggy f-cking Noonan) have decided that the current leadership needs to go down in disgrace. Bungled wars and massive failures in every aspect of government have pushed independent Americans to the left in unprecedented numbers. One sign of the changing times, Rupert Murdoch has chummed up with the Clintons to the point that he recently held a fundraiser for Hillary (Roger Ailes attended but did not give). Looking at ratings trends the national audience is clearly shifting towards stations which do not grovel at the feet of Dick Cheney and Hugh Hewitt. Yet for some inane reason the political director of ABC News has decided to change tack five years late and in the wrong direction.

Maybe there is some calculation involving juicy favors from the FCC, trademark policy favoring Disney or an NSA wiretap of Halperin planning a murder, who knows. On the face of it ABC’s decision looks pretty stupid.

***Update***

Hewitt doesn’t buy Halperin’s conversion so the ABC political guru gets back on his knees. Repeatedly. The pathos of Mark Halperin’s desperate, shameless self-debasement simply baffles me. Add quixotic, since Hugh doesn’t like anybody to the left of Dick Cheney.

The self-punishing aspect of Halperin’s venue choices is even stranger. If you want to reach mainstream America go on Scarborough, Imus; even O’Reilly occasionally makes a weak stab at political independence. Limbaugh might give you an airing. Michael Savage has that Republicans-left-me independence thing, although his complaint is that they’re too far left. As a mainstream media figure you can’t just sidle up to the hackiest hacks who ever hacked and expect them to like you.






46 replies
  1. 1
    craigie says:

    or an NSA wiretap of Halperin planning a murder,

    Clearly, the most likely possibility.

  2. 2
    craigie says:

    Actually, it makes perfect sense. They are going to merge the “news” content with “Lost,” and “Desperate Housewives,” and make one huge mega-hit show! It’s brilliant!

    I’m thinking “Lost in the Search for Desperate Wingers.” It will run and run…

  3. 3

    ABC knows something you don’t know, moonbat! Jeb Bush in ’08- the fix is in!

  4. 4

    I must not think.
    Thought is the mind-killer.
    Thought is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my thought.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the thought has gone there will be nothing.
    Only liberal media bias will remain.

    Wingnut Litany Against Reality – Michaelmooreisfat Ch. 13 v. 20

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Sounds like Disney is just getting on late to the gravy train. That or ‘Pubs are doing a little last minute arm twisting in hopes that putting a big money broadcaster under its belt will turn the tide, or at least set up a big political revival in ’08.

    Or maybe someone just hit Mark Halperin with an especially strong dose of the Kool-aid. Who can say?

  6. 6
    Punchy says:

    If Timothy Eff can offer up some theories, so can we. Here’s mine:

    ABC wants the NFL badly next year. They’ve decided not to re-up women’s sand volleyball and the Professional Lacrosse league, and really need some gov’t help in getting the Bears on their channel.

    Halperin nailed his 16-year old babysitter, and those Predator drones see everything

    Ever wonder why there’s no competition–despite the obvious need–for ABC’s ESPN network? Coincidence? Nope.

    ABC’s new name….Another Bush Crony. Now they must put up or shut up.

    Tim–“barf”?? who uses “barf” anymore? Ralph, maybe. reverse-eat works, too. perhaps “top hole eruption”…

  7. 7
    Ned R. says:

    I keep singing the thread title like REM’s “Try Not to Breathe.”

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Damnit. I just finished… reading… Greenwald… and…
    *spew*

    Wow. That feels alot better.

    Seriously, I don’t know how to describe this beyond Red China and the counter-revolutionary purges. The ones where “insurrectionists” and “royalists” got rounded up and forced to confess over and over again about all the thought crimes and evil plots they’d been working on since the revolution began. Straight out of “Life and Death in Shanghai”. I remember one scene when Red Guard storm the author’s house and demand that she turn over all her horded gold and hidden guns. When she says she doesn’t have any, they ransack (read: loot) her house. When they still don’t find anything, they make her dig around in her backyard until the sun goes down.

    All in search of that evil subversive element she’s got buried somewhere.

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    Hewitt’s interview makes clear what the media should have gotten years ago: no matter how much you try and try to appease the right wing, they’re still going to hate you! Stop begging for their approval already.

  10. 10
    Andrew says:

    Seriously, I don’t know how to describe this beyond Red China and the counter-revolutionary purges. The ones where “insurrectionists” and “royalists” got rounded up and forced to confess over and over again about all the thought crimes and evil plots they’d been working on since the revolution began.

    This sounds like a great plan for the mainstream media. The freepers still get the internment camps, though.

    President Hillary ’08. “She’ll imprison the bitches.”

  11. 11
    ThymeZone says:

    It’s business. Business does what business does. Get over it. The responsibility for your information stream rests with you, not with the media. You and you alone are responsible for how you seek, cull, and process information. It’s no different from the responsibility you have for your diet. If you spend all your time worrying about the trash McDonald’s is serving, it will do nothing for the quality of your diet.

    All media content is biased. Learn to read the bias and include it with your processing. Quit worrying about what other people are getting or not getting, that is not your responsibility.

    All political people will try to use and abuse the media, that’s their political job. That, too, needs to be part of your processing.

  12. 12
    danelectro says:

    time to reduce the term from copyrights to 14 years, don’t ya think, dems?

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    Have you noticed how badly Halperin’s book with John Harris is doing? It’s at #950 over at Amazon. I think I’m typical of the political junkie demographic: I love the Post’s political coverage and would have bought the book in a heartbeat if it hadn’t had Halperin’s name on it. The book had a big push behind and it completely tanked.

    Conservatives don’t read — except for books with titles like “The Islamofascists will kill us all and it’s all Clinton’s fault”. If Halperin and Harris are so smart, then why didn’t they know this?

  14. 14
    ThymeZone says:

    Conservatives don’t read

    “None Dare Call It Treason.” Still selling copies all these years later.

    True conservatives read just fine. The crazy ones, the ones now in charge, read whatever material tells them that what they already think or feel is correct.

    The self-referential crap, they read voraciously. Can’t get enough of it.

  15. 15
    DougJ says:

    True conservatives read just fine. The crazy ones, the ones now in charge, read whatever material tells them that what they already think or feel is correct.

    Fair enough. Should have said “wingnuts don’t read.”

  16. 16
    Zifnab says:

    If you spend all your time worrying about the trash McDonald’s is serving, it will do nothing for the quality of your diet.

    This logic works right up until there’s a McDonalds on every corner and they’ve knocked down all the grocery stores.

    This is disturbing not because I physically can’t lift my finger to hit the channel clicker on the remote, but because if yet another station falls to the right-wing machine you begin to wonder if ANYTHING remains reliable.

    Do I need to visit DailyKos, tune in exclusively to the Daily Show, and Google every other news article I hear to sleep at night knowing I haven’t been pathologically lied to? And what happens when someone puts the lean on ComedyCentral? When Google decides “expanding the market” is more important than “freedom of information” like they did in China? When the DailyKos DNS gets accidentally jammed by NSA agents trying to bring down the terrorists?

    You can’t just poo-poo this away as a “personal responsibility” thing. It’s a national responsibility thing.

  17. 17
    Lee says:

    Remember that story about the ammo depot attack?

    Apparently there is a massive under-reporting of the casualities.

    Not sure of the source, but it is interesting:

    300+ Casualities not reported

  18. 18
    jcricket says:

    no matter how much you try and try to appease the right wing, they’re still going to hate you! Stop begging for their approval already.

    Ding Ding Ding we have a winner.

    The right wants the media destroyed to the point where they print nothing but Republican press releases.

    The left wants the media to work better (i.e. not print propaganda as fact, not use faux-evenhandedness just because an issue is controversial, etc.).

    I think the situation is same with the judiciary and the K-12 education system. It’s not that the left doesn’t criticize the media, the judiciary, educators, etc. It’s that our criticisms rarely target the independence of these institutions, and I believe we could be largely “appeased” if the institutions worked “as designed”. The right will only be happy with all impediments to their “mission” are destroyed.

  19. 19
    Steve says:

    I think I’m typical of the political junkie demographic: I love the Post’s political coverage and would have bought the book in a heartbeat if it hadn’t had Halperin’s name on it.

    Political junkies tend to be junkies because they view politics with deadly seriousness – not that DougJ doesn’t know how to enjoy a laugh, mind you! But people who follow politics closely are deeply concerned about the real-world consequences of our nation’s policies.

    Halperin, on the other hand, embodies the stereotype of the media elite who really couldn’t care less about it all. It’s all a big game: will Karl Rove find a way to push his horse across the finish line yet again? Why bother analyzing the merits of this week’s developments when we can spend hours discussing who “won the news cycle”? It’s like they don’t feel they have any skin in the game and they can just make snide remarks from their position way above the fray. Thus, it’s unsurprising that people who take politics seriously wouldn’t be interested in hearing from someone who belittles their preferences.

  20. 20
    Teak111 says:

    Agree completely TZ. In the 60s, Amer learned not to trust its government (something the Founding Fathers knew long ago) and in the new century, Amer is just now learning not to trust its media, any media (cept maybe the News Hour). Media is for profit and they will change directions to continue to make money. Currently, aiming right seems to make more then aiming left. Every story is a calculation on ratings. Halprine is merely leaning right to sell books. The reason I think News Hour is ok is there is no profit motive, but even more important, its so utterly boring that any possible bias (despite what the right says) had got to be tiny.

  21. 21
    ThymeZone says:

    This logic works right up until there’s a McDonalds on every corner

    No, your assertion works only if you think that broadcast and MSM print are the sources of information.

    That stopped being true the day the Internet became upbiquitous in American homes.

    Your assertion works only if you think that a few cable outlets are the only info streams on tv. Fewer than 5% of Americans ever watch cable news, as far as I know. Somewhere in the vicinity of 90% of Americans pay little or no attention to broadcast journalism other than for the obvious real-time stuff, like traffic reports and whether that big fire got put out or that hurricane is headed for their county.

    Your question is nonsensical. Yes, you are going to be lied to, all the time, by a lot of people. But if you can tell lies from truth, that becomes less and less of a problem. The more you practice the distinction, the better at it you get.

    The main vaccine against what you apparently fear is critical thinking. With proper critical thinking, most of the toxicity of a bad info diet goes away.

  22. 22
    DougJ says:

    It’s like they don’t feel they have any skin in the game and they can just make snide remarks from their position way above the fray.

    Well put. I’d like to add, though, that I think there are many political journalists who don’t have this attitude at all. The political reporters at the Post, in particular, with the possibly exception of Shaliagh Murray, don’t seem that way.

    Halperin is Exhibit A of this horrifying phenomenon.

  23. 23
    ThymeZone says:

    You can’t just poo-poo this away as a “personal responsibility

    Get a grip, man. There is nothing “poo poo” about personal responsibility. It’s the basis of everything.

    Without it, whatever you think “national responsibility” doesn’t exist. It’s a fiction.

    It begins and largely ends with personal responsibility and personal competance at getting and using information. Everything else hangs from that.

  24. 24
    Teak111 says:

    That’s why I like this site lately, its so contrarian. Dkos is all about dem koolade lately (cept for bondad), which the right has been drinking it for quite a while. Firedog Lake is obsessed with the Kiss and Eschaton likes shooting fish in a barrel. LGF is obessed with islam radicals in the shadows, RS spins at windmills as the hurricane approaches, PL is just plan odd, while instrapundit is above it all. Not sure whats up with Drum, seems to have lost interest and TPM is the drudge of the left. That leaves Billmon and Balloon Juice.

  25. 25

    What I care about is the policies effecting the future of this country. I don’t care who wins or loses.

    That’s what is so sad about the Karl Rove worship. All Rove cares about is winning. It’s clear in his policy choices too… they’re all over the map, all about buying votes or turning people against one another, with no actual thought put into them to understand what happens in 20 years.

  26. 26
    jcricket says:

    True conservatives read just fine. The crazy ones, the ones now in charge, read whatever material tells them that what they already think or feel is correct.

    Hmmm, reminds me of something, oh yeah:

    “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to your, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

    And regarding the attempts to “reclaim” the glorious policies of internment camps and Joseph McCarthy:

    “If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.” —pg 32

  27. 27
    Zifnab says:

    Fewer than 5% of Americans ever watch cable news, as far as I know. Somewhere in the vicinity of 90% of Americans pay little or no attention to broadcast journalism other than for the obvious real-time stuff, like traffic reports and whether that big fire got put out or that hurricane is headed for their county.

    I’d like to see some stats on that. The New York Times alone has a circulation of 1,142,464 issues a day.

    As for the national media:

    Total viewers: NBC: 8,650,000 / ABC: 8,450,000 / CBS: 7,560,000

    That’s 10% of the US population tuning in every night. If these networks were to go up in a puff of smoke tomorrow, I’m sure people would learn to adapt over time. You CAN get your news from other sources. But generally what is put up on the air and what is put up in print is regarded as credible and factual.

    People aren’t complete bums. They’ll do research as time permits and they’ll investigate as their interests compel them. But a free and untainted press is crucial to a functioning Democracy. If the media doesn’t report smoke, its alot harder to see the fire.

    Your question is nonsensical. Yes, you are going to be lied to, all the time, by a lot of people. But if you can tell lies from truth, that becomes less and less of a problem. The more you practice the distinction, the better at it you get.

    And that’s the thing. I’m not lied to, all the time, by a lot of people. When I turn on the weather and they say a storm is coming, it inveritably comes. When I open the paper and read about a school shooting somewhere in Kansas, I can be reasonably certain somewhere in Kansas someone has been shot in a school. When I turn on the radio and they tell me “spinach has salmanila” I stop eating spinach for a while because I, like millions of other Americans, have an inherent trust in the words of my fellow citizens.

    When that breaks down, when you literally can’t trust the words being echoed by your newsman or your postman or your neighbor, you have a very very serious societal problem because the transfer of information effectively comes to a dead end.

    The hallmark horror of the Republican Party apologists is their practice of not believing anything anybody tells them unless they’re absolutely sure it’s “unbiased”. The result? They get their info from a pitful number of sources because they are convinced the rest of the world is untrustworthy.

    Wow. That was unnecessarily long, and I apologize.

  28. 28
    radish says:

    Tim, this wasn’t about ABC news at all, and Halperin is a very media-savvy guy. This was all about the book. Halperin’s book has a natural audience among Hewitt listeners, and that 3 hour interiew was probably good for a couple of hundred sales. He spends a little time reinforcing their preconceptions and they reward him by buying his book. Lord knows middle america don’t seem to be buying the damn thing.

    DougJ if you’d bought it I bet you would have been disappointed — near as I could tell without actually reading it it seemd to be saying that the only way to get elected is to suck-up, or bully, or preferably do both, to mainstream journalists. And that you do this in order to influence whether or not they serve as an amplifier for nonsensical bullshit that people like Drudge, Rush, and Hewitt throw against the wall to see if it sticks.

    Yeah, I know. Shocking new media insights you won’t get elsewehere. And now I’ve gone and spoiled it for you.

    That leaves Billmon and Balloon Juice.

    Obsidian Wings… Unqualified Offerings… And others. (I have to admit it’s gotten a little lopsided obver at ObWi, but frankly it seems to have gotten a little lopsided everywhere. I eagerly await the day when I stop being a single-issue voter focused solely on the “how to prevent the government from destroying the country” issue. Hey I’m only middle-aged — it might even happen in my lifetime.)

    Zifnab, don’t apologize, man, it was boo’ful. (sniffles, blows nose)

  29. 29
    jcricket says:

    When I turn on the radio and they tell me “spinach has salmanila”

    Sal Manila, he’s out fastest worker.

    Repeat after me: salmonella

    :-)

  30. 30

    Repeat after me: salmonella

    I never did like fish

  31. 31
    Inactivist says:

    Potpourri Post

    Intelligent Defection
    Economist and Reagan Republican Bruce Bartlett is committing a virgin act:

  32. 32
    Bender says:

    The FOX demographic won’t follow ABC’s namby-pamby under-the-radar rightwing bias

    Waaaaaaaay under the radar. I mean, it’s not as if Halperin wrote a memo to his ABC staff in 2004 telling them to let Kerry’s lies and exagerrations slide and to pound Bush on his. Oh, no. He did that. Never mind. So, what was GG’s point again?

    Wonder how Sock Puppet didn’t mention the Halperin memo? Oh, Greenwald’s just being himself — a sloppy, logic-challenged, whiny drama queen.

    I’ll trade one trying-to-sell-a-book interview for an election-year marching order to sway the election every day of the week.

  33. 33
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Sal Manila, he’s out fastest worker.

    Actually Sal Manila was a character on Imus in the Morning a good 15 years ago when Imus in the Morning was actually pretty funny.

  34. 34
    radish says:

    I never did like fish

    You’ve obviously never had the aged tuna salad at Sam and Ella’s cafe… it’s to die for…

  35. 35
    Paul L. says:

    Care to comment about this from the Mark Halperin interview.

    MH: There’s a reason why Howard Dean has yet to agree to do a debate with Chairman Mehlman.

    HH: What is that reason?

    MH: I don’t think…I assume the reason is he doesn’t think he would do well in the comparison.

  36. 36
    Steve says:

    I mean, it’s not as if Halperin wrote a memo to his ABC staff in 2004 telling them to let Kerry’s lies and exagerrations slide and to pound Bush on his. Oh, no. He did that. Never mind.

    I wonder if you guys would melt into goo or something if you were forced to be honest for one moment.

  37. 37
    ThymeZone says:

    That was unnecessarily long, and I apologize.

    None required, but you are working awfully hard to avoid my main point, which is not only correct, it is the crux of this entire matter:

    Each person is responsible for his or her information stream, and what is done with it.

    Period. You are what you eat, and you are what you read/listen to/watch.

    If you eat crap, you will suffer the consequences.

    If you read/listen to/watch crap, you will suffer the consequences.

    Sorry, that’s the way it is.

  38. 38
    DougJ says:

    It seemed to be saying that the only way to get elected is to suck-up, or bully, or preferably do both, to mainstream journalists.

    No, that’s why I would have bought it. I believe that’s completely true. I have no sympathy for mainstream journalists, they deserve all the bullying they get.

    In prison, once someone makes you their bitch, you’re everyone’s bitch. Karl Rove made the mainstream media his bitch. They shouldn’t act surprised that Democrats are coming after them in the shower now too.

  39. 39
    radish says:

    No, that’s why I would have bought it.

    LOL. Okay, point taken. At least you already know what it says…

  40. 40
    Bender says:

    I wonder if you guys would melt into goo or something if you were forced to be honest for one moment.

    I’d love to hear the Revised Democrat History for the Halperin memo anytime.

  41. 41
    Tim F. says:

    Care to comment about this from the Mark Halperin interview.

    My post is the comment. Please think first, then type.

  42. 42
    yet another jeff says:

    The venue choice is weird, if it weren’t for you, Andrew Sullivan, Libertarian Puppy Smoothie Drinker, and James Lileks, I wouldn’t even know who Hewitt is…I don’t even know if he’s available on the radio in this region but I’m too ADD for talk radio. I was cursed for a while in 1992 to drive a pickup with AM radio only and all I could pick up on the way to work in the afternoon was Rush…and that pretty much turned me off of talk radio even if I could keep my mind on listening.

  43. 43
    Paul L. says:

    My post is the comment. Please think first, then type.

    Your post says nothing about Howard ducking debates with Mehlman.

  44. 44
    Bender says:

    Greenwald and his Makebelieve Friends are right. How could Halperin dare say that journalists are liberal, just because 85% of them vote Democrat! Let’s look at their coverage of Kerry’s speech:

    Suzanne Malveaux: And, then, Paula, late in the day as well, we got yet another press release from Kerry, criticizing, reacting to Bush’s criticism of him earlier in the day, calling it smear.

    So, we hope and we think that all of this is going to go away tomorrow. But we will just have to wait and see.”

    CAFFERTY: Well, listen, it’s tailor-made for the media. We get so sick and tired of, you know, running sound bytes of the candidates that when somebody comes along and does something that’s even this much out of ordinary, we pounce on it like cats on a mouse and drag it around until it’s dismembered on the living room floor.

    ZAHN: Will it be dismembered by election night is the question, Jack Cafferty.

    CAFFERTY: If we have our way with it, it will be.

    BLITZER: I’m sure there’ll be something else that will pop up between and probably an hour from now.

    CAFFERTY: One can only hope.

    Fair and balanced. As Newsbusters pointed out, when did the media ever express hope that the Foley story would “go away tomorrow”(obviously rhetorical)?

  45. 45

    …the national audience is clearly shifting towards stations which do not grovel at the feet of Dick Cheney and Hugh Hewitt.

    That trend is escalating and is reflected in the latest ratings report that shows MSNBC up again and Fox down again. MSNBC’s increase is driven by Countdown’s 67% rise, while Fox is weighed down by O’Reilly’s 22% decline.

    But I’m still not surprised that ABC and others are learning the wrong lessons. They have long been misinterpreting Fox’s success as being related to it’s ideology. The truth is that Fox succeeded because it didn’t actually program news at all. It’s just Jerry Springer dressed up in a news format, and the TV audience just loves conflict. But most of these network suits are too stupid to notice or to frightened to stake their careers on meaningful analysis.

  46. 46

    Cool!!! Good point of view, loved it. Great site, congratulations.

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  1. Inactivist says:

    Potpourri Post

    Intelligent Defection
    Economist and Reagan Republican Bruce Bartlett is committing a virgin act:

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