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The [Friday] Papers

ABC News political director Mark Halperin was on Charlie Rose last night explaining that, sure, John Kerry didn't say what he was accused of saying, and no honest, serious person believes that he did. Nonetheless, Halperin argued, Kerry got what he deserved because he failed to properly manage the media's reporting of what was never true in the first place.

That's where we're at, folks.

The truth doesn't matter; managing the spin does. And when the media blindly buys into one party's spin instead of doing their job and vetting political claims, it is incumbent on targets of spin to satisfy these dimwits by doing things like apologizing in just the way reporters demand for what the reporters reporting the apology know was an offense that never actually occurred. But reporters now operate on the playing field of political strategists - the most cyncial creatures on the planet - instead of dragging the vipers onto the playing field of journalism and giving them the shellacking they deserve.

Similarly, Newsweek's chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman, laughed his head off this week at the suggestion that President Bush or anyone in the White House actually believed Kerry said what they accused him of saying. Of course not, Fineman said, but that's not the point.

I happen to believe it is.

If politics is a House of Mirrors, so be it - that just makes it even more incumbent on journalists to be hell-bent on getting and presenting the truth. Now large chunks of America will never know the truth in this case - just as folks still believe Al Gore said he invented the Internet and that Bill Clinton held up air traffic at LAX to get a haircut and Dan Quayle didn't know how to spell potato (he was reading off the answer card given to him) and George H. W. Bush didn't know what a grocery scanner was.

Those guys aren't the idiots. The idiots are people like Neil Steinberg, who doesn't know the first thing about politics or John Kerry's history as a genuine war hero and how he's handled it all these years, and people like Steve Huntley, who finagle their way into influential positions without any particular skill or insight to deserve them and write bizarre stream-of-consciousness columns like this one filled with outright falsehood and folly.

Halperin himself calls this media phenomenon The Freak Show.

The truth of the matter is that the White House and national party leaders and the national press corps all know it is a game. In the end, you all get played for rubes - which at least isn't as bad as being one of the fools unwittingly drafted into rube-playing business, like Steinberg and Huntley.

Brain Freeze
"The mayor's son, Patrick, enlisted in the Army in 2004 at the age of 29 after graduating with honors from the University of Chicago's MBA program," Fran Spielman noted this week. "In other words, he's no dummy."

Choose from among the following punch lines:

A) Unlike Kerry, who graduated from Yale and got his law degree from Boston College. What an idiot!

B) Though, truth to be told, the longer acronym for the MBA program he went through is MBAFCMI - for My Bad Ass Father Clouted Me In.

C) How does that explain Bush, then, who went to Yale and got his MBA at Harvard?

Mission Really Looks Like Fun!
Steinberg sang a different tune about war heroics three years ago when he castigated critics of President Bush's flyboy Mission Accomplished stunt. "When I saw the president take off his helmet, smile broadly and greet the assembled servicemen and women, I thought: That looks fun," wrote Steinberg, who now poses as a war critic.

"Bush doesn't really need to underline his commander-in-chief chops - the Iraq War did that nicely," Steinberg wrote back then. "Rather, I believe, he chose to arrive on the Abraham Lincoln the way he did because it seemed like a hoot."

Aw, shucks.

Vote Smart
Remember, you are allowed to take The Beachwood Election Guide To Throwing The Bums Out And Smashing The Machine into the voting booth with you, no matter what our corrupt election judges say.

Read Kass to the bottom. We should never forget who Rahm Emanuel is - Cynic Incarnate.

A Better Question
"Can Merit Pay Turn Around Failing Schools?" a Sun-Times headline asks today.

I don't know, can it turn around a failing newspaper?

Clout Care
"Even Docs Needed Clout, Says Ousted Chief of County Hospitals" might have landed on front page - EVEN DOCS NEEDED CLOUT! - if the publisher hadn't decided to back Todd Stroger in an effort to win back black readers the paper abandoned years ago when Hollinger and its stellar cast of high-quality journalists came to town 12 years ago.

Daley's Dots
The Daley media message team is planting seeds among its willing dupes in the press. Today it's Sneed, who hears from a "source" about one of the mayor's vaunted and useless ethics reforms that was announced to the entire world two years ago.

It's a Two-fer!
Later in her column today, Sneed hears - Pssst! - that Daley attended the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 65th birthday party last Saturday, which was only documented on video by local TV news crews, though she did get the scoop that the mayor didn't even skip to the front of the receiving line - as if Al Sharpton would have let him.

Letters to Their Editor
* Paul T. Baker of Avondale is the most astute writer in today's Sun-Times (second item). No offense to Baker, but that's just sad.

* Even letters to the editor are edited. Newspapers generally don't publish letters from people who claim World War II never happened, for example, or that the Blackhawks won the World Series this year. So why publish the letter from Jim Glogovsky of Gurnee? Then again, Glogovsky's only mistake is believing what he reads.

Advocating Ignorance
Huntley's editorial page today advises voters to ignore negative political advertising because then, maybe, the ads will go away - even as it further propagates the anti-Kerry spin point to poor folks like Jim Glogovsky.

Here's a better idea: Advise your reporters to fact-check every claim put forth in political advertising, and put the results on your front page, even if it means calling liars liars.

"Let me get this straight now," Chris Matthews said this week. "When your opponent takes a word you said out of context and dump all over you on it, turning it into an attack on the military, then you apologize to the military for the fact they did it to you, right? Is that how it works, now?"

Memo to Steinberg: John F. Kennedy's election was NOT contested; even without any stolen votes in Illinois, he would have easily won the Electoral College. And Hugo Chavez is not a Latin American despot. He was elected by popular vote twice and survived an additional recall vote. Bush was only elected by popular vote once.

Ballot Bollocks
Rich Miller has a sample ballot distributed by Democratic candidate for Cook County Board Jim Dasakis and asks if you notice anything odd.

Answer: Not only is Rod Blagojevich's name missing, but it's disingenuous to give the impression that all of those newspapers endorsed all of those candidates - particularly Todd Stroger.

Green Screen
Miller also has the latest polling numbers and argues that it's all about Whitney. And here I thought it was all about Nieukirk.

Bank Draft
Huh, a press release was accidently published as news.

From CJRDaily
"[T]he raised voices of Republican operatives alone - even when the president is among them - do not a story make. For that you need reporters to amplify it and editors to give it prominence.

"The [Washington] Post article on the affair described its spread this way: 'The White House and Republican allies orchestrated a cascade of denunciations throughout the day to keep the once and possibly future presidential candidate on the defensive and force other Democrats to distance themselves.'

"What about the fact that these "denunciations" were picked up by the press and treated as a substantial story?

"To describe the Kerry kerfuffle passively - 'much of the day's political conversation centered on Kerry,' wrote the Post - is a guileless way of absolving journalists from any role in the story at all.

"Ironically, many of the articles on the Kerry slip-up were written as 'meta' analyses. Not wanting to deign to reprint blatant exaggerations by one side or another, the respectable press opts for writing stories about the fact that blatant exaggerations are being hurled from one side or another. Such an article might have been a good place to describe the press's role. But no.

"Take today's [New York] Times' 'Political Memo.' This is the closest we get to an admission of involvement: 'The White House, which had been struggling for ways to make President Bush less of a liability in the election, seized on Mr. Kerry's comments, with the president, vice president and spokesmen blanketing radio and television to blast him for impugning the troops.' (Note the absence of newspapers in that list of the culpable.)"

Media Matters
The Kerry media madness conveniently drowned out Republican House Majority Leader blaming the generals on the ground for the botched war in Iraq, as well as the president's pledge to retain Don Rumsfeld for the remainder of his term. Here's how the whole thing got started.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Do your homework; don't get stuck.


Posted on November 3, 2006

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - Harold vs. the Haters.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Go Ahead, Eat Raw Cookie Dough!

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