Church Watch

This kind of thing makes me want to puke:

It has also been three and a half months since the White House insisted that the First Family continues to look for a church in Washington to join. Few people would blame them if they decided it would be too disruptive to upend a local congregation–Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush all chose to largely avoid Washington churches for similar reasons, and conservatives defended their decisions to do so. It’s all the more surprising then that the White House has chosen to dig in on this point and continue to maintain that the Obamas will choose a local church as their main place of worship. It only becomes a Church Watch if they make it one

It’s a Church Watch because you just made it one, Amy Sullivan.

We live in a country where “journalists” spend a lot of time tracking the church-going habits of our president. Sometimes I think I’d be happier living in Spain under Franco. The food would probably be better and otherwise the general atmosphere would be about the same.






88 replies
  1. 1
    DFS. says:

    The trains, as they say, would run on time.

    I mean, shit, here the trains barely run at all.

  2. 2
    4tehlulz says:

    Is Franco still dead?

  3. 3
    Demo Woman says:

    Since most reporting is in the sewer anyway, will the next headline criticize the President for using too much toilet paper.

  4. 4
    Demo Woman says:

    Vote for Little Bitsy.. Maybe this will be the week.

  5. 5
    Keith G says:

    Amy Sullivan is a hack’s hack. Her stuff at Washinton Monthly was usually unreadable and greatly scorned. So she picks up another gig.

  6. 6
    srv says:

    Has someone done a website yet of what a real Marxist Obama would do?

    You know, like not go to church, not bailout WS, revel in 50M unemployed… Just saying, I’d read that. Maybe it could have tabable themes for Islamofascist, Nazi, Soshulist and Capitalist Obama too.

  7. 7
    Llelldorin says:

    @DFS.:

    Speak for your own trains. The Capitol Corridor trains here in California are about the only thing in the entire freaking state that does run properly!

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    Not to go too O/T or anything but – I just loves me some Tony Dungy as football analyst.
    Way, way more than I did as Coach Dungy. Dude is just solid.

  9. 9
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Clearly, Obama is just looking for a mosque that looks like a church.

  10. 10
    jl says:

    @Llelldorin: Yeah, lay off the trains. The CA commuter corridor trains are most reliable and convenient ways to get around some parts of the state. Unless you like sitting still on I-80 for X amount of unknown time everytime you want to get anyplace betwee the SF Bay Area and Sacramento. Some may revel in their freedom, sitting in an endless traffic jam burning 3+ dollar a gallon gas, I don’t.

    Oh yeah, what was this post about? OK, right: dump the church watch. That is a sad and empty thing for a religion reporter to be writing about. It reduces religion to the cartoon character we see on the TV political affairs talk shows. It is stupid TV, about trivial topic written boringly on dead trees. Dump it.

  11. 11
    freelancer says:

    Doug,

    Can we just all nod in agreement that Time Magazine sucks?

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    The White House should install a non-denominational chapel-y space somewhere in the private quarters (like airports and hospitals). Any First Family could turn it into the most appropriate setting for worship according to their personal beliefs or lack thereof. It could be converted to a synagogue for Jewish presidents, a mosque for Muslim presidents, a Friends meeting house for Quakers, or . . . just a ROOM. Off limits to press and public. The presidents and their families could hang out there 10 times a day, once a week, once a year, or NEVER. Why the hell our MSM thinks we the people need to know or have an opinion on the spiritual beliefs and practices of our leaders simply baffles me.

  13. 13
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    They have a Church Watch. We have an Idiot Watch. NO one here, gets out alive.

  14. 14
    RSA says:

    Amy Sullivan, a watcher, is blaming the Church Watch on the people she is watching. Okay…

  15. 15
    calipygian says:

    Can we just all nod in agreement that Time Magazine sucks?

    There’s still a dead tree edition of Time?

    Who knew?

  16. 16
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    . Sometimes I think I’d be happier living in Spain under Franco

    Francisco Franco is deader than Jesus Christ, swear to Gawd.

  17. 17
    LD50 says:

    @Llelldorin: The Capitol Corridor rawks. It is also Amtrak’s only consistently profitable line, I am told.

  18. 18
    Martin says:

    I mean, shit, here the trains barely run at all.

    That’s because they are social!st. If you want the trains to run on time, you want fascist trains. If you want capitalist trains, they’re called federally funded National System of Interstate and Defense Highways – not social!st at all. Nosiree.

  19. 19
    Joey Maloney says:

    The comments on that waste of electrons are priceless.

  20. 20
    Nellcote says:

    Title of Sullivan’s previous post:

    “Pope Gives Obama an Atta-Boy”

    that one just makes me cringe 7 kinds of ways.

  21. 21
    calling all toasters says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    Clearly, Obama is just looking for a mosque that looks like a church.

    I got just the place. Heck of a commute, though.

  22. 22
    jl says:

    @calipygian: Both Time and Newsweek are very thin these days. I saw a pile of them at my parents house a few weeks ago that thought that they had torn the covers off and piled them up, or they were promotional flyers or something.

    So I pick one up and leaf through it, and say “This is the whole thing? Not much in them anymore, huh?”

    they say, “Well they had these offers, so they’re almost free, not sure it is worth it even at that price.”

    I do worry about how local and state news will get reported after the dead tree press is gone. But things like Time and Newsweek may already do more harm than good. I don’t fear losing them.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @freelancer: …Nodding…

  24. 24
    El Cruzado says:

    Trust me, the trains under Franco did NOT run on time.

    On the other hand, a few decades of National-Catholicism (the official regime ideology, guess what) did wonders to transform Spain into a secular society after centuries of being more Catholic than the Pope. Maybe a similar experiment could be run here.

  25. 25
    Brachiator says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    Clearly, Obama is just looking for a mosque that looks like a church.

    Another requirement. The church must allow Rev Wright as guest pastor, with sermons written by Bill Ayers.

    And the most prestigious DC area churches require that you provide a birth certificate, also, too.

    Meanwhile, tea baggers eat their own.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/28157

    Whether it’s the loose confederation of Washington-oriented groups that have played an organizational role or the state-level activists who are channeling grass-roots anger into action back home, tea party forces are confronting the Republican establishment by backing insurgent conservatives and generating their own candidates — even if it means taking on GOP incumbents.

    In Florida, where the national party has signaled its preference for centrist Gov. Charlie Crist in the GOP Senate primary, tea party activists are lining up behind former state House Speaker Marco Rubio in reaction to Crist’s public backing for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.

    What is Fox News going to do? Having established themselves as the official propaganda organ of the GOP and been the main backers of the tea baggers, how will they keep them on their preferred message?

  26. 26
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Martin:

    If you want the trains to run on time, you want fascist trains.

    Well yea. Fascist trains often come back empty.

  27. 27
    jl says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I wonder if that would cause problems with separation of church and state. I hope not, if it were part of the private quarters. If they can have pastors visit and cough up free gummint paid WH chef kitchen meals for them, why not a room?

    They will have to put a Santa Claus and Easter Bunny in it, and let the media know, so the TV celebrities and reporters like Sullivan will be convinced that it really really seriously relgious.

  28. 28
    Nellcote says:

    oh yeah, YAY! trains!

    http://www.skunktrain.com/

  29. 29
    mcc says:

    If I worked for a DC local church I’d be highly worried about the Obamas joining the congregation. Just think, as soon as the church got picked, Fox News will immediately start poring over all available footage of all current and prior pastors looking for the magical out-of-context sound bite that proves they are extremist anti-white socialist Muslims.

  30. 30
    WyldPiratd says:

    Good FSM, I hate Amy Sullivan with the heat of a billion stars, as she is a God-botherer of the worst sort.

  31. 31
    Anne Laurie says:

    The food would probably be better and otherwise the general atmosphere would be about the same.

    … for the straight white men.

    And really, who else matters?

    (Because it had to be said.)

  32. 32
    smiley says:

    Amy wants to be Karen Armstrong, short form, and Catholic. When I brought up this book and the things I learned from it, to my family at a family reunion last summer, no one had a response. The world happened in the Mediterranean basin for them. That’s OK though, I grew up that way too.

  33. 33
    mcc says:

    …I used the Bad Word and got hold for moderation. Reposting:

    If I worked for a DC local church I’d be highly worried about the Obamas joining the congregation. Just think, as soon as the church got picked, Fox News will immediately start poring over all available footage of all current and prior pastors looking for the magical out-of-context sound bite that proves they are extremist anti-white communist Muslims.

  34. 34
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    Spain would probably welcome a nitwit like you; why don’t you go?

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    I wish Obama would come out and say something like, well, we checked out all the local churches, but all we found was a bunch of god-bothering, self-satisfied, and ignorant assholes. So we’ve decided our Sunday mornings are more spiritually and productively spent watching CBS Sunday Morning and commenting about it on Balloon Juice. That would be awesome.

  36. 36
    Desert Rat says:

    I’ve always said that Amy Sullivan was ideologically a hell of a lot closer to that lunatic Donahue than she is anybody on the left.

  37. 37
    Anne Laurie says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    The White House should install a non-denominational chapel-y space somewhere in the private quarters (like airports and hospitals). Any First Family could turn it into the most appropriate setting for worship according to their personal beliefs or lack thereof.

    Great idea, except that it would become the equivalent of the (noble) family chapel in an Austen novel. Our public nags and professional godsbotherers would demand access to make sure the “servants”, whether WH interns or Cabinet secretaries, were showing proper deference to this week’s chosen pieties.

    As it stands, the family occupying “our” White House during any given four-year period have enough extra space to set up a private worship space in some low-traffic sitting room, and the freedom to invite all the god-channelers of their choice to use it. And, as a devoutly religious animist, I wish we could elect a president who had the guts to tell the Corporate Scolds like Amy Sullivan to go shove their coatimundi noses up in each others’ businesses and leave the rest of us alone!

  38. 38
    calipygian says:

    I do worry about how local and state news will get reported after the dead tree press is gone. But things like Time and Newsweek may already do more harm than good. I don’t fear losing them.

    I don’t worry about that so much. In fact, I think there is a niche for the dead tree press for National and International news and analysis.

    There are a couple of good blogs that cover local politics in my neck of the woods better than the WaPo or the local NoVa rags.

  39. 39
    Nellcote says:

    @geg6:

    So we’ve decided our Sunday mornings are more spiritually and productively spent watching CBS Sunday Morning and commenting about it on Balloon Juice.

    Has anyone ever seen a photo with John Cole and Prez. Obama together in the same place?

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @Anne Laurie: Must..resist..the easy..”noble” vs “Nobel” gag…

  41. 41
    Anne Laurie says:

    @mcc:

    If I worked for a DC local church I’d be highly worried about the Obamas joining the congregation…

    … because who wants Scott Roeder’s brethren-in-arms hanging around their church vestibules, looking for a six-bullet “argument” about their latest grievance?

    The Secret Service is tasked with protecting the President and his family, but what genuinely spiritual person wants to turn their communal space into a magnet for dangerous psychotics and gun-wielding publicity seekers?

  42. 42
    Nellcote says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Maybe the WH could get something like that big red religion button Steven Colbert used on the Daily Show to set up random religion stories. It’s portable so they wouldn’t need a special room for it.

  43. 43

    I thought they were going to the little church across from the White House. But then, after eight years of a fucktard who thought God wanted him to be pRezident and crammed the admin. full of Jesus Camp Kids, I struggle to give the requisite level of fuck about this issue.

    @mcc: Followed by pearl clutching because the Obamas carelessly unleashed a media circus/hordes of teabaggers and birfers on the poor unsuspecting church goers.

    Unless the church is predominantly (more than 5%) black, in which case it will be proof Obama hates white people.

  44. 44
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Spain would probably welcome a nitwit like you; why don’t you go?

    Golly, that was clever/not.

  45. 45
    Dr.BDH says:

    We are saddled with Amy Sullivan and Andrew Sulliavan, two self-centered wrongenaraians. Let’s trade them in for Amy and David Sedaris.

  46. 46

    Hope no one is doing a church watch on me. It’ll be a long watch.

  47. 47
    New Yorker says:

    Good. After the damage done by the devout Christians in the last administration, I want my President to be as close to a deist/atheist as possible.

  48. 48
    JD Rhoades says:

    Can we just all nod in agreement that Time Magazine sucks?

    Whatever you do, don’t subscribe. I made the mistake of doing that once. When I decided not to renew, the fuckers harassed me on a nearly daily basis to re-up. Not just mailers in every days’ mail, but phone calls, at least twice a week. It was insane. I was starting to worry they were going to kidnap one of my children.

  49. 49
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bob In Pacifica: Holla. They’d have some serious survivability issues at this point.
    In fact, they’d *have* to believe in a higher power to continue to think I might show up there one day.

  50. 50
    smiley says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Spain would probably welcome a nitwit like you; why don’t you go?

    So I bought me a ticket caught a plane to Spain
    Went to a party down a red dirt road
    There were lots of pretty people there
    Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue
    They said, “How long can you hang around?”
    I said “a week, maybe two,
    Just until my skin turns brown
    Then I’m going home to California…

    I happen to know from personal experience that there are a lot of very pretty people there. Very smart too.

  51. 51
    Brachiator says:

    @jl:

    I do worry about how local and state news will get reported after the dead tree press is gone.

    You do realize, don’t you, that the InterTubes still depends on dead tree press organizations?

    There is precious little original reporting on the web and when the dead tree press is finally gone, there will be less real news, period.

    My fellow commuters noted that Los Angeles area transit officials recently awarded a $300 million train contract to an Italian firm which has already failed to deliver reliable trains on time and which are 6,000 pounds over the desired weight for the vehicles (which tears up the tracks). There was no coverage in either the newspapers (fewer reporters) or local TV (typical shallow coverage). There was spotty coverage on some local blog sites, and finally coverage on the local public radio station, but only after the deal was done.

    And Time and Newsweek, as crappy as they are, could never be worse than the right wing propaganda organ that Fox News has become.

  52. 52
    JD Rhoades says:

    If I worked for a DC local church I’d be highly worried about the Obamas joining the congregation. Just think, as soon as the church got picked, Fox News will immediately start poring over all available footage of all current and prior pastors looking for the magical out-of-context sound bite that proves they are extremist anti-white communist Muslims.

    Excellent point. Maybe they’re having trouble finding a church that’ll put up with that.

  53. 53
    JGabriel says:

    OT, but this is weird. AP (via TPM) is reporting:

    A wild shootout involving at least five gunmen sent patrons fleeing from a northwestern Ohio bar near the University of Toledo campus. No injuries were reported. […] The fight apparently began when a bar employee asked a man who was trying to sell marijuana to leave …

    A five man shootout? I thought that kind of thing only happened in movies and tv.

    And then there’s the “No injuries were reported…” angle. I mean, I’m grateful if these guys were each that lousy a shot, but it hardly seems likely. And even a lousy shot should hit someone by mistake, especially with that many of them.

    Something just seems very wrong with this story, though I can’t tell for sure whether it’s tragic or comic yet.

    On the other hand, I guess all those guns sold in the wake of Obama’s election finally found the uses for which they were produced:

    Williams: He [the soap-box speaker] said everything should be made use of.
    Hildy: It makes quite a bit of sense, doesn’t it?…Now look, Earl, when you found yourself with that gun in your hand, and that policeman coming at you, what did you think about?…You must have thought of something…Could it have been, uh, ‘production for use’?…What’s a gun for Earl?
    Williams: A gun?…Why to shoot, of course.
    Hildy: Oh. Maybe that’s why you used it.
    Williams: Maybe.
    Hildy: Seems reasonable?
    Williams: Yes, yes it is. You see, I’ve never had a gun in my hand before. That’s what a gun’s for, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why.
    Hildy: Sure it is.
    Williams: Yes, that’s what I thought of. Production for use. Why, it’s simple isn’t it?
    Hildy: Very simple.
    Williams: There’s nothing crazy about that, is there?
    Hildy: Nope. Nothing at all.
    Williams: You’ll write about that in your paper, won’t you?
    Hildy: You bet I will.

    .

  54. 54
    NobodySpecial says:

    You know what?

    I demand to know what church Amy Sullivan goes to, if she goes at all.

    How about a reporter on THAT story?

  55. 55
    Cat Lady says:

    @Bob In Pacifica:

    Fuckin’ A. People like Church Lady Amy Sullivan are in churches, and that’s all I need to know.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    @Nellcote:

    Title of Sullivan’s previous post: “Pope Gives Obama an Atta-Boy”. That one just makes me cringe 7 kinds of ways.

    Oh, man, that is hilarious. What an idjit.

    .

  57. 57
    edsaid says:

    You know what makes me want to puke? Paid writers who use other’s miscreant deeds as a subject of their writing. Watch. I am going to piss into a fan so you can see how stupid people who piss into fans are. Limbaugh lives on the shit. If you don’t like something this irrelevant and stupid, ignore it. When you choose to shine a light on it, you are doing the same thing – same song, second verse. Sanctimonious twit.

  58. 58
    Ripley says:

    Who will church-watch the church watchers?

  59. 59
    DougJ says:

    Paid writers who use other’s miscreant deeds as a subject of their writing.

    You do know I’m not paid, right?

  60. 60
    JD Rhoades says:

    Well, according to this story, they’ve been worshipping at the evergreen Chapel at Camp David. Which looks like a pretty awesome place to go to church if you’re into that kind of thing:

    http://whitehouse.gov1.info/ca.....chapel.jpg

  61. 61
    gbear says:

    You know what makes me want to puke? unpaid writers and commenters who use other’s miscreant deeds as a subject of their writing….

  62. 62

    It was insane. I was starting to worry they were going to kidnap one of my children.

    And then run a poorly written 6-part series on the kidnapping.

    Wasn’t it a decent mag. once? Maybe I’m having one of those old codger “Everything was better when I were a lad” moments.

  63. 63
    Scott Rock says:

    If you don’t like something this irrelevant and stupid, ignore it.

    Pot? Kettle?

  64. 64
    LoveMonkey says:

    I found this mildly irritating … until I started reading the comments on the TIME site under Amy’s post.

    Bif! Bam! Zonk! The commenters put the sharp stick to her eye. I found myself almost weepy with appreciation. Commenters telling the front pager to shove the thing up her ass. Now that is some good old country style bloggin’!

    Look, TIME is just like everybody else in the Blogomediarrheaville Whorehouse. They want attention. It’s all about seeking attention. And getting attention. Without attention, nothing sells, checks don’t get written.

    Amirite? Amirite?

  65. 65
    Warren Terra says:

    My favorite “religion reporter” story was in 2004 when NPR’s awful Bradley-Haggerty interviewed 3 parishioners outside weekday Mass about the Church & Kerry. Unmentioned: all 3 were prominent wingers.

  66. 66
    Batocchio says:

    Isn’t Amy Sullivan’s point almost always that everyone should think, behave and vote as a socially conservative Catholic? The rest is just veneer.

  67. 67
    TenguPhule says:

    Can we just all nod in agreement that Time Magazine sucks?

    Our necks would give out by the second hour.

  68. 68
    JGabriel says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    Maybe I’m having one of those old codger “Everything was better when I were a lad” moments.

    Born in ’65, grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s. Most of my moments are more like, “God, everything really sucked when I was kid. The Internet is so much cooler than Brady Bunch/Gilligan’s Island/Star Trek re-runs.”

    I guess that’s my generation’s version of “I had to walk 3 miles to school each day and back!” Which, in fact, I did, but that’s another story. Hated the school bus — actually, I guess it’s not that long of a story.

    .

  69. 69
    slag says:

    Just when did pastor sniffing become a national pastime anyway? I mean, it had to have been pre-Kennedy.

  70. 70
    Martin says:

    Since the blogmasters haven’t given us an open thread to discuss important matters, I temporarily hijack in order to note that the Angels won and fuck the Yankees.

    On a positive note, the Yankees didn’t exactly dominate this series. If they expect the Angels to just roll over and hand them some wins, I think they’re going to be disappointed.

  71. 71
    anonevent says:

    @New Yorker: Actually, having one that believes in a god is not a bad thing; it’s when you have one that believes he is a divine instrument of God and cannot do wrong because God is working through him that is the problem.

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    @LoveMonkey:

    Look, TIME is just like everybody else in the Blogomediarrheaville Whorehouse. They want attention. It’s all about seeking attention. And getting attention. Without attention, nothing sells, checks don’t get written. Amirite? Amirite?

    Nope. I’ve read editors praise themselves for having their reporters and columnists write controversial or “edgy” articles specifically designed to spark outrage or attract attention.

    But when the issue has little merit on its own, or is unrelated to anything remotely like the public interest, you drive away readers looking for information or expertise, and end up catering to a small, narrow band of the bored or cynical looking for cheap thrills as they mock the writer and those who get upset over deliberate provocation.

    LoveMonkey — I found this mildly irritating … until I started reading the comments on the TIME site under Amy’s post.

    This has been on of the greatest innovations of the InterTubes, even though some editors and reporters hate it. In the past, they had to depend on a trickle of letters to the editor. Now they get a wider range of feedback, the best of which ably demonstrates how full of it the reporter is. In the past, editors would only pay deep attention to letters from recognized authorities or pubic figures.

    And still, I’ve seen reporters cling to their original story even when it’s been blasted clean out of the water.

    Wasn’t it a decent mag. once? Maybe I’m having one of those old codger “Everything was better when I were a lad” moments.

    I figure that stuff in the past was crappy, just in a different way. Still, I think there was a time, especially in the 70s and 80s, when a lot of good journalism was being done.

  73. 73
    LoveMonkey says:

    @Brachiator:

    If you were right, Brach, TIME would be a better venue today for all that swell feedback. It is not. I have not seen a single example of “interactive” media improving the quality of media, in the specific or in the general. What I see is crummy feedback, spurred on by more crummy content. TIME is no exception.

  74. 74
    ericblair says:

    @Brachiator: You do realize, don’t you, that the InterTubes still depends on dead tree press organizations? There is precious little original reporting on the web and when the dead tree press is finally gone, there will be less real news, period.

    I’m not so sure about this one. I seem to recall the Iranian election protests, where none of the major American media organizations had any boots on the ground, and sat around with their thumbs up their asses excitedly hyping the latest tweets they got. So you could watch Twitter and the blogs, or turn on CNNMSNBCFOX and watch overpaid ninnies watch Twitter and the blogs.

    And it’s not only them: there seems to be a lot more news these days where the important part of the news isn’t the bunch of resources and access that a major news organization can toss into a story, but one or two of the people in the middle of the action who can post to a blog. TalkingPointsMemo has broken a few, including the US attorney scandal.

    Face it, the major media has turned into a 24/7 Georgetown cocktail party circle jerk interrupted by missing white women and the occasional shark attack. Pardon me if I’m not interested.

  75. 75
    gwangung says:

    @ericblair: This is not very impressive, given all the things that occur. Few blogs are like TPM and there were many more news eyes out there than just the big ones.

  76. 76
    DougJ says:

    If you were right, Brach, TIME would be a better venue today for all that swell feedback. It is not. I have not seen a single example of “interactive” media improving the quality of media, in the specific or in the general. What I see is crummy feedback, spurred on by more crummy content. TIME is no exception.

    I disagree. I think Joe Klein has improved noticeably since he started getting beaten up by the Swampland commenters.

  77. 77
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Isn’t Amy Sullivan’s point almost always that everyone should think, behave and vote as a socially conservative Catholic?

    Ooh, no. She’s an Episcopalian, I think, having been through more denominations than Zsa Zsa has husbands — and written about it.

    Anyway, Pastor Amy is a smug, presumptuous scold of long scolding pedigree. As such, the MSM will always provide her with a paycheck.

  78. 78
    Brachiator says:

    @LoveMonkey:

    If you were right, Brach, TIME would be a better venue today for all that swell feedback. It is not. I have not seen a single example of “interactive” media improving the quality of media, in the specific or in the general. What I see is crummy feedback, spurred on by more crummy content. TIME is no exception.

    I didn’t say that the feedback would always make a media outlet better. In fact, I noted that some editors and writers resent the feedback, but do so to their detriment since this interactivity, when done well, is one of the things that makes the InterTubes not simply an online recreation of the dead tree media, but something superior.

    The NY Times blogs on economic issues and global warming are quite good, and dovetailed nicely with the recent stories about the chamber of commerce attempting to fight back against global warming critics.

    But I also had something more concrete in mind. A while back, an LA Times columnist wrote an article about the California budget that based some of its main conclusions on a serious math error, and also used an arcane method of calculating inflation to justify the need for tax increases.

    Despite letters and direct email to the writer, the columnist at first would not back down, and even made the mistake of sending a nasty reply to one of the letter writers. The mess was covered on a local talk radio station and erupted on some local blogs, and in the blogs of other newspapers that allowed more interactivity.

    The Times could not contain the mess, or their stupidity. The result damaged their reputation and probably has contributed to their continued circulation decline.

    Writers and editors are used to being oracles, handing down the sacred text of journalism to be passively accepted by awed readers.

    My point was that the InterTubes does not allow this anymore. Most news organizations have not adapted well to this new reality. But they don’t have a choice.

    The smarter reporters and editors already realize this, but tradition dies hard.

  79. 79
    LoveMonkey says:

    @Brachiator:

    I can’t disagree that their blogs are okay more or less, if you like civility, which I generally don’t ….

    But the fact is that NYT is not a better newspaper than it was 20 years ago. And NYT is a pioneer in the intertrons world of newspapreridom. One of the first big and successful news sites. And with all their smarts, all their net presence, all their resources, I can’t see that they are doing a better job today representing our interests, or advancing quality journalism, or even commentary, than they did before. Mostly worse by my lights.

    Eh?

    The only signs of good old journalism I have seen lately are in the movie Good Night and Good Luck. And that was a story from fifty years ago.

  80. 80
    Brachiator says:

    @LoveMonkey:

    I can’t disagree that their blogs are okay more or less, if you like civility, which I generally don’t ….

    Media site blogs which are not civil quickly degenerate into an unreadable mess. The LA Times had to suspend comments because posters insisted on stupidity, profanity and slander. While this may amuse some, it is a waste of time for anyone who values his or her time.

    But the fact is that NYT is not a better newspaper than it was 20 years ago. And NYT is a pioneer in the intertrons world of newspapreridom. One of the first big and successful news sites. And with all their smarts, all their net presence, all their resources, I can’t see that they are doing a better job today representing our interests, or advancing quality journalism, or even commentary, than they did before. Mostly worse by my lights.

    You keep criticizing points that I have not made and missing the significance of the points that I have made.

    I have not said that the NY Times is a better paper now than 20 years ago.

    But let me be blunt. When dead tree papers disappear, they will take most of their online versions with them, along with competitors and startups. What will be left, for a time, will be more opinion sites, the AP and Fox News. Original reporting will be severely circumscribed.

    No news ain’t good news, and opinion without context ain’t news at all.

    Local news coverage has already been affected. Fewer stories are being covered because the reporters who previously would be on the beat are out of a job. National news is becoming more shallow.

    I think, I hope, that things will get better.

    Time and Newsweek probably deserve to go, not just because their coverage is crap, but because general newsweeklies are dinosaurs in the age of the InterTubes, at least as they currently exist.

    But when I ask people about alternatives, they typically respond with opinion sites (i.e., propaganda they believe in), or public radio (which is more dependent on AP than people realize) or shoestring operations which can barely cover a neighborhood, let alone a city or a nation.

    There are some good blogs that add news value, but they are hard to find and still largely hit or miss boutique operations.

    And the money is not quite there yet, which limits the reach and professionalism of nascent InterTube operations.

  81. 81
    LoveMonkey says:

    You keep criticizing points that I have not made and missing the significance of the points that I have made.

    Now, that made me laugh out loud. Sort of a horse laugh, actually.

    Let me be painfully clear, since ordinary clear doesn’t work. I am saying an entirely different thing. Namely, that the blog/comment model isn’t helping anything, and isn’t accomplishing any worthwhile purpose.

    I said “eh?” to get your feedback, you see. I think we are talking around each other.

    Personally, I think that the phase we are in now will be very short-lived. I don’t see a future for it. An entirely new model of information delivery and consumption is coming, and we are in that funny period similar to, say, when the phone company got rid of operators for local calls and changed from named exchanges to numeric prefixes. There was churn, but personal communication didn’t really change until the cel phone came along.

    I don’t think we have reached that critical point yet in information streams. We are still using the new technology to look at the old streams. Those old streams are pretty inefficient, pretty lacking. They are basically Glen Beck mated with Jerry Springer and then with the 700 Club. In other words, pure shit.

    People are learning how shitty it is, and are going to demand something better.

  82. 82
    Brachiator says:

    @LoveMonkey:

    I am saying an entirely different thing. Namely, that the blog/comment model isn’t helping anything, and isn’t accomplishing any worthwhile purpose.

    I understand you here and simply disagree. Now, that wasn’t difficult, was it.

    Personally, I think that the phase we are in now will be very short-lived. I don’t see a future for it.

    I’m not much for predicting the future. There are too many unintended consequences.

    I like your example about the phone company, although I think you compress a lot of history into your example.

    But whatever new models of information delivery and consumption pop up, you still have to be able to hire and deploy reporters. And this is the heart of the current problem. The new model also has to include a way of making a profit.

    People are learning how shitty it is, and are going to demand something better.

    The sad thing is that a whole lot of people are not demanding anything better, they are demanding more personalized propaganda.

    As an aside, many PBS stations recently ran a very good documentary about the LA Times and the Chandler family. One sad lesson from the documentary is that the paper got better not because the people demanded it, but because of the drive of Norman Chandler and his son Otis.

    The InterTubes offers a number of technological advantages over print media with respect to delivery and consumption, as you note.

    But content is a whole other thing.

    By the way, conservatives are trying to get around even the nascent potential of the InterTubes. An all news station here in Southern California added Dr Laura and some other conservative talk hosts. No big deal. But in the morning they replaced real news with something sponsored and controlled by the Washington Times. The format, however, is that of an anchored radio news show. In effect, the program is riding on the station’s past reputation as a straight news station in order to push propaganda to unsuspecting listeners.

    The irony is that this station is owned by the CBS radio network.

    Profits before substance. It is a problem now, and will still be a problem with future developments of the Net.

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    Yutsano says:

    Being one of the regular commenters over at Swampland (I’m easy to spot, I use the same name just about everywhere over the Internet) I can say that Amy Sullivan makes herself an easy target simply by the fact of her sheer vapidity. There were a couple of columns where she did have some potential to do actual journalism (specifically one on teenage pregnancy rates) but then she goes off the reservation into THIS. That to me is not the worst part. SHE ALREADY DID THIS EXACT SAME FUCKING COLUMN NOT FOUR MONTHS AGO!!!

  84. 84
    Brachiator says:

    @ericblair:

    RE: You do realize, don’t you, that the InterTubes still depends on dead tree press organizations? There is precious little original reporting on the web and when the dead tree press is finally gone, there will be less real news, period.

    I’m not so sure about this one. I seem to recall the Iranian election protests, where none of the major American media organizations had any boots on the ground, and sat around with their thumbs up their asses excitedly hyping the latest tweets they got. So you could watch Twitter and the blogs, or turn on CNNMSNBCFOX and watch overpaid ninnies watch Twitter and the blogs.

    Interesting point. Here the traditional news organizations were caught flat-footed, but there was also no new media InterTubes organization to fill the vacuum.

    What you had early on was a lot of raw information with no reporters able to provide necessary context. There were even debates (including here on Balloon Juice) as to the extent and significance of the protests.

    The problem was made worse, of course, by Iranian government attempts to censor any reporting and to control the flow of information.

    By the way, an earlier example of this was the way that people used cell phones and the Internet to search for loved ones and to get information out about the 2004 tsunami which affected Thailand and other nations in the region.

  85. 85

    According to what I’ve heard the food and wine in Spain suffered a serious decline under Franco, and it is only in the last 30 years that it has once again become a major leader in fine cuisine. It only goes to show that there is nothing so basic that conservatives cannot screw up.

  86. 86
    LoveMonkey says:

    The sad thing is that a whole lot of people are not demanding anything better, they are demanding more personalized propaganda.

    That’s a good point, but I think it actually ends up supporting my position.

    There are several classes of information consumer here, but I think we take some broad strokes and reduce them down to approximately two, for the purposes of this exchange.

    One class wants facts, and the other class wants its belief systems supported. Fact based, versus faith based, if you like that better.

    We are over here on the fact-based side. The idjuts are over there on the faith based side. So you have these two different ways of processing information. Who comes out ahead in the long run?

    What I see of most interactive “news” sites is that the interactive part is just a way for the morons to let off steam over their pleasure or displeasure at having seen the information. If you publish a story about how a light rail car struck a taxicab, you get 100 posts about how public transit is social-istic and how our taxes are too high. I can’t see that this kind of thing serves any useful purpose.

  87. 87
    LoveMonkey says:

    Reposted because you guys still have the dumbest mod filter on earth:

    The sad thing is that a whole lot of people are not demanding anything better, they are demanding more personalized propaganda.

    That’s a good point, but I think it actually ends up supporting my position.

    There are several classes of information consumer here, but I think we take some broad strokes and reduce them down to approximately two, for the purposes of this exchange.

    One class wants facts, and the other class wants its belief systems supported. Fact based, versus faith based, if you like that better.

    We are over here on the fact-based side. The idjuts are over there on the faith based side. So you have these two different ways of processing information. Who comes out ahead in the long run?

    What I see of most interactive “news” sites is that the interactive part is just a way for the morons to let off steam over their pleasure or displeasure at having seen the information. If you publish a story about how a light rail car struck a taxicab, you get 100 posts about how public transit is soci@-l-istic and how our taxes are too high. I can’t see that this kind of thing serves any useful purpose.

  88. 88

    Amy Sullivan? Isn’t she the neoliberal equivalent of church news reporting?

    Of course, Kevin Drum loves her, which says something right there.

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