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  #1  
Old 04-14-2008, 10:03 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default John Yoo's Haircut

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  #2  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:22 PM
somerandomdude somerandomdude is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Oh my God is this really happening? Glennzilla versus his mortal enemy?

Awesome!
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:34 PM
threep threep is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Uh oh. This is gonna be rough.
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  #4  
Old 04-15-2008, 11:03 PM
eric eric is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I love when journalists complain about the popularity of trivialities like Britney and Obama's bowling score. What do you expect to be most popular, health care plan details? Not everyone is a policy wonk. Pedestrian means popular.

I think Megan's incredibly cute.
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  #5  
Old 04-16-2008, 01:02 AM
~GW~ ~GW~ is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Greenwald makes journalists sound like some sort of Jedi order. A special class of people charged with the protection of the republic, who are totally unaccountable, but have special rights.
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2008, 01:18 PM
-asx- -asx- is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~GW~ View Post
Greenwald makes journalists sound like some sort of Jedi order. A special class of people charged with the protection of the republic, who are totally unaccountable, but have special rights.
I missed the part where he said journalists are totally unaccountable.

That's funny, too, since he spends the entire diavlog holding them to account. It's Megan who says journalists are totally unaccountable, right?

I have never heard anyone spit on the First Amendment by calling it "special rights," either. (I assume the term "special rights" is intended pejoratively, since it is the same dismissive term conservatives have coined to discredit anti-discrimination law.)

Heck, even the Jedi weren't unaccountable.
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  #7  
Old 04-16-2008, 01:07 AM
Dee Sharp Dee Sharp is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Gee, Glenn sure is a good person. Better yet, he's a political journalist, possibly the most important job there is, and he takes the responsibilities of that job more seriously than just about anyone else. Best of all, he doesn't remain neutral on the important questions of the day. He's pro-good, and anti-bad.

That said, he hasn't noticed that having a virtuous person or group controlling a large endeavor doesn't guarantee optimal management. Megan explained her position well to me, and I found it convincing, but when Glenn clearly didn't understand, she should have shifted to an economic / ecological explanation. ( Foreshadowing of a mixed metaphor.)

Since she didn't, I am obligated to do so. The 1st A doesn't specify that the press shall be Good. It says it shall be free. In a free press, some are most concerned with candidate bowling scores, others with weightier matters. The overall mix becomes an equilibrium between what readers want and what writers want. In the same way, a restaurant in a market economy may offer a dish just because someone wants to cook it, and some will try it out of curiosity, but few will be served if the customers don't like it, so over time the menu reflects both the customers' and the owners' tastes.

A state press, or Glenn's preference, a press primarily concerned with being Good, may begin with the best of intentions, but can ossify as times change, be hijacked by a narrow interest, or write material that almost no one reads. The same maladies afflict elements of a free press, but those who are dissatisfied can read something else or start their own paper or what have you. Papers flourish, then flounder, but blogs proliferate- for now. Media splintering and new technology makes the process more efficient, so that Glenn can write long pieces on his view of the Fourth and actually have them read, though only by those that want to.

Glenn never said how his favored press could operate in practice. Whenever Megan mentioned a practical limitation, Glenn talked morality. Like many intractable arguments, there could be no resolution, because they weren't talking about the same thing.
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2008, 11:57 PM
StillmanThomas StillmanThomas is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

The irresistible object meets the immovable force. I'll leave it up to you to decide which is which. ;-) Lotta heat, here, but I'm afraid not much light. Still, it was vaguely interesting. They've both been better in other conversations.

But thank you both for your efforts.
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  #9  
Old 04-15-2008, 12:07 AM
somerandomdude somerandomdude is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

One thing I like about McCardle is that she will forthrightly disagree with Glennzilla and confront him directly. Unlike Wonkette, which was just embarrassing to watch.
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  #10  
Old 04-15-2008, 12:28 AM
Tom Wittmann Tom Wittmann is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Boy, GG does abrade, doesn't he?

But still, he has the better end of the argument, although he fails to press the right points.

MM goes on and on about how there are no LEGAL privileges for journalists, and GG only mentions in passing that virtually every state has shield laws.

Well, here is the argument, plainly stated. The evidence suggests that in the US journalism is a legally privileged profession because ALMOST EVERY STATE HAS A SHIELD LAW.

Since GG does not concentrate on this fact MM is able to make her weak claim that journalists have no special watchdog responsibility seem stronger than it is.

GG is a lawyer in the good and bad ways. Logical, argumentative, pushy, adversarial, passionate.

MM is a libertarian in the typical bad way: Logical but blind. Out of touch with the way things play out in the real world. For example, saying that journalists have no more responsibility to expose malfeasance than any other citizen is special in a way only libertarians manage. Even Republicans know journalism is a piller of a free society. They just mis-identify the villains.
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  #11  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:07 AM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Mr. Greenwald speaks of Benjamen Franklin being a journalist, I always thought he was one of a broad class of individuals known as pamphleteers; anyone that had access to a printing press or enough cash to pay some one to print it for them. I guess that the founding fathers were the original conceivers of blogs.
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  #12  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:41 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

pisc:

From what I can remember reading about Ben Franklin, I think his newspaper work was more substantial than just pamphleteering. See, for example, here. here, and here.

But I think you're right about there being a lot of similarities between The Pennsylvania Gazette and blogs.
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  #13  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:04 PM
Alworth Alworth is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

<i>But still, he has the better end of the argument, although he fails to press the right points.</i>

No, he has by far the worse end of the argument. It's incredibly inept thinking. They spend minutes belaboring the point, and it's clear Glenn doesn't grasp his constitution. He gets mired in a moralistic, quasi-constitutional argument when he should be asking a completely different question--why doesn't the US regulate its media more? This is the legal argument with teeth, and he could draw in the free airwaves and Congress's right to regulate and make law. (I'm only about 30 minutes in, and pulling my [few remaining] hairs out listening to him thrash about.)

Megan has won every single point so far. Greenwald is on the side of angels, but this is a bad defense.
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  #14  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:44 PM
Bloggin' Noggin Bloggin' Noggin is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Haven't finished the diavlog yet, but I second your assessment, Alworth.

Glenn does have a point, not about the constitution (where he seems to read early 20th century progressivism into Ben Franklin and the Constitution), but about a journalism as a profession that should have a certain code of ethics.

Journalists do actually recognize that they have certain responsibilities -- fact checking and some degree of fairness. Glenn is suggesting that these responsibilities should extend further -- when the media pursue sensational stories because they sell, they wind up creating a distortion in the public mind which may be far more significant than any individual distortion or misstatement in a particular story. For example sensational crime stories --e.g., stranger abduction of children -- sell very well, so they end up being overrepresented and the public end up with a very distorted idea of how frequent such sensational crimes are. SOMETHING ought to be done about this distortion.

The difficulty is, as Megan would point out, that those who don't go after the sensational story and focus on the more important spinach stories will likely lose market share and ultimately get driven out of business for their pains.

Apparently, we need journalistic norms that cover this kind of distortion and some kind of enforcement that would keep the competition within certain bounds. Of course, first amendment issues make government intervention here rather problematic. Media critiques, like Glenn's, might be the best we can do -- just try to embarrass the media into doing a better job of informing the public.

Although I'm sure the public really would rather read about Edwards's hair than about torture (who wouldn't?), we shouldn't assume that the forces that apply to the media all come from the public. I gather that one reason why there used to be so many silly sitcoms is not that the public was demanding them, but that advertisers found that such sitcoms put people in a better mood to listen to advertising pitches -- the same might go for flufy "human interest" stories that you find in news broadcasts. We may be getting news media somewhat worse than we deserve.
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  #15  
Old 04-15-2008, 02:00 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

BN:

Quote:
SOMETHING ought to be done about this distortion.
That's the whole sticking point there in a nutshell, isn't it? I think we'd like to see the MSM do a better job but the notion of ought troubles me. It's why I thought Glenn had a tough case to make. Ought implies some mandate or forcing mechanism, and I don't think we want to go there. If you start making rules about what should and shouldn't be covered, or even how much emphasis should be given to one topic over the other, red flags immediately spring up. At least in my mind.

And I can't buy this, either:

Quote:
Apparently, we need journalistic norms that cover this kind of distortion and some kind of enforcement that would keep the competition within certain bounds.
I think you're right to say that media criticism is probably the best we can do for the time being.

I would also speculate that having some fluff increases the chances that news consumers will notice other, more important stories. Maybe not on TV, where it's so easy to change the channel, but in print and on blogs, anyway.

Finally, I do think there has been some reaction to many of the dumbed-down news outlets. NPR, for example, has steadily been gaining market share, as has TPM. It seems to me that there will always be some people who have no interest in hard news, and we just have to accept that. For the rest of us who do have such an interest, I am hopeful that the lower barriers to publication and easier access to a wider choice of outlets means that at least some organizations will focus on quality as their main selling point.
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  #16  
Old 04-15-2008, 04:34 PM
Discovery Institute Discovery Institute is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

What McCardle is successful in doing is making it seem as if Greenwald is the one making absolutist arguments, and not her. She appears to believe that this is the case, and Greenwald does play into it with his hyperbolic style of writing.

But Greenwald is assigning some blame to some journalists, while McCardle is insisting that all journalists be shielded from all blame. All blame rests with consumers, and there is absolutely, 100%, no way of getting them to pay attention to important things, so journalists are absolved if they don't try, or don't try hard. And even though the media as a business is, by her definition, mostly a machine for disseminating trivia, those who enter into the business are still entitled to the reputation of civic-minded intellectuals who certainly WOULD be doing hard reporting on all this stuff, if only the public would change. (Though the public is unchangable, 100%, forever, so suggesting that anyone try to change their tastes is like asking them to starve to death.)

Greenwald's conception of the media doesn't rule out the existence of people like this, and he links on his blog to examples of what he considers "good" journalism. He simply says that they aren't the norm. McCardle says that they are, and insists that we believe her, even if there's no evidence to back her up, because the lack of good journalism, no matter how dire it gets, will always be the fault of consumers.

Greenwald might idealize the public somewhat, but really, he just seems to be holding out some hope that they'd be improved if exposed to more good journalism. McCardle, meanwhile, insists that more good journalism would just be pearls before swine. But her argument is still the more idealistic one, she just reserves her naivete for the people who share her job.
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  #17  
Old 04-15-2008, 02:09 PM
PaulL PaulL is offline
 
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Default Glenn just does not like it when his ox is gored.

Great job Megan.
The looks Glenn gave when she was schooling him on Journalism was priceless.
It was like he was passing a stone. How dare this woman question his sacred holy doctrine of the Journalist!!!!!!!
I do not remember Greenwald complaining about Howard Raines Times campaign to force the Augusta National golf club to accept women as pushing a vacuous pointless BS story.
Or when he complained about the Obama/Rev Wright story after he tried to push the Mccain/Hagee story.

How do those square with Greenwald's sacred holy doctrine of the Journalist?

He can also explain how not granting US constitution fourth amendment protections to a non-US citizen who violated the Geneva Conventions and is not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections results in a war crime.

Last edited by PaulL; 04-15-2008 at 07:17 PM.. Reason: Can't write add G conv
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  #18  
Old 04-15-2008, 06:52 PM
Alworth Alworth is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I continued listening, and the pain continued. When they got into that bit over whether Glenn had worked in journalism, it was so painful I had to stop again.

The truth is, since he has set himself up as the MSM critic, Megan's right to question his authority. I have worked tangentially as a reporter a number of years ago (my beat was the Portland beer scene), and it was eye-opening. Later, I did a little business reporting, and have covered politics freelance. Actually reporting does awaken one's awareness to a number of issues that aren't apparent from the outside.

I still think Glenn's overall point is well-made, but man, I have rarely seen someone so clearly wipe the floor on a diavlog (Frum springs to mind, though).
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  #19  
Old 04-15-2008, 07:26 PM
hans gruber hans gruber is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

A previous commenter quoted GG:

"The Constitution doesn't allow the gov't to break into your house and break down your door or to listen to your phone conversation without a warrant, and yet the Bush administration in secret concluded that doesn't apply to them; that they're free to violate that whenever they want inside the United States."

Well, then I guess GG, on a subject he considers himself an expert, doesn't even understand the basics. No warrant is required. The standard is REASONABLENESS which usually requires a warrant, but not always.

Last edited by hans gruber; 04-15-2008 at 07:30 PM..
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  #20  
Old 04-15-2008, 09:50 PM
piscivorous piscivorous is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Actually the government can search all it wants, warrant be dammed, it boils down to what can the government present in court to use against you. With out a warrant the evidence is inadmissible but the constitution does not necessarily prevent the government from listening; just using the evidence gathered, with out a proper warrant, being used in a court of law against you.
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  #21  
Old 04-15-2008, 10:09 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Quote:
Originally Posted by piscivorous View Post
Actually the government can search all it wants, warrant be dammed, it boils down to what can the government present in court to use against you. With out a warrant the evidence is inadmissible but the constitution does not necessarily prevent the government from listening; just using the evidence gathered, with out a proper warrant, being used in a court of law against you.
A good point, pisc. But there are some limits, aren't there? Say, invasion of privacy or harassment?
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  #22  
Old 04-16-2008, 02:05 AM
hans gruber hans gruber is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

pisc,

The standard is one of "reasonableness" not if a warrant is issued. Now in a lot of cases to be reasonable requires a warrant, but there is not an express requirement for a warrant in either the Constitution nor opinions by the Supreme Court. A so-called specialist in the field, like GG, should be aware of this and not be clumsy in his wording as a commenter cited above.

The absolute best legal case against the Admin's spying is not one based on a Fourth Amendment argument, but instead a plausible STATUTORY violation of FISA, which then is subject to constitutional challenge under Article II, as well as interpreting the finer points of the statute. Of course, the idea that the Constitution prevents military torture In Iraq to secure intelligence is just strange (the 8th Amendment deals with punishment, and its enforcement is limited to US soil). Again, on this question the best arguments rest on statutes and treaties rather than constitutional law. But to scream, BUSH VIOLATED THIS STATUTE FROM 1974 doesn't have the same ring to as BUSH HATES THE CONSTITUTION; thus we get sloppy and just plain stupid arguments from Greenwald and company.
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  #23  
Old 04-16-2008, 03:31 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Good points, Hans. But in GG's defense, he was trying to illustrate how the gist of an idea could be gotten across in not very many words.

If you ever read his stuff, I think you'll see that he takes pains to be precise when he is not hampered by the 700-word limit that he and MM were discussing.

Also, I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the original text:

Quote:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (source)
makes it not completely incorrect to equate warrantless wiretapping with a violation of the 4th Amendment.
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  #24  
Old 04-16-2008, 04:46 AM
travis68 travis68 is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

MM makes the point that it doesn't do any good to print stories that no one reads, and GG counters that yes it does, because people can be put in jail. The press *has* printed stories about Yoo and the torture memos, so by GG's own standard, the press has done its job.

So the question then boils down to whether the press should continue to beat the drum with long stories about a situation when new information doesn't enter into the narrative.

GG's supposed ability to get his 15 word claim about the 4th amendment into a 600 word story is a misdirection, because that sort of claim must be backed up with evidence. You can't do that in a 600 word story.

Frivolous stories can get reported a lot because by their very nature they are short and uncomplicated. Consequently they can easily be printed, repeated and get lots of Nexis hits. Stories about the 4th amendment need factual backing that takes more space. They are difficult to repeat. Consequently they get fewer Nexis hits.
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  #25  
Old 04-16-2008, 11:10 AM
hans gruber hans gruber is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

"If you ever read his stuff.."

I find him unreadable. Self-righteous, wordy, hyper-partisan. Makes Andrew Sullivan look like a paragon of dispassionate reason.
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  #26  
Old 04-16-2008, 12:14 PM
Seth Hurwitz Seth Hurwitz is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

How can MM be so cute and yet so wrong? Aren't TV networks allowed spectrum to serve the public good? Maybe Megan counts Dancing With The Stars as serving the public interest but without investigation and analysis (for which journalists get special access and protections, although she apparently disagrees with this notion), all we're left with is propaganda and immunity challenges. Is that really what she's arguing for here?
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  #27  
Old 04-16-2008, 03:03 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Quote:
Originally Posted by hans gruber View Post
"If you ever read his stuff.."

I find him unreadable. Self-righteous, wordy, hyper-partisan. Makes Andrew Sullivan look like a paragon of dispassionate reason.
I do agree that he does go on, and sure, he's partisan. Still, I maintain that he's careful to be precise.
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  #28  
Old 04-15-2008, 03:13 PM
popcorn_karate popcorn_karate is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I like how she uses the exact same technique as Ana Marie Cox to shut down Glen - "I am vastly superior and more important than you, because you see, I am a REAL journalist and you are just a piddly blogger and so you could never really understand"

disgusting.
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  #29  
Old 04-15-2008, 12:13 AM
somerandomdude somerandomdude is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Does McCardle ever make a non-trivial objection in this entire episode?
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  #30  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:22 AM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I agree with Tom Wittman's comments on a number of your points, particularly the reaction to Glenn: I side more with his thesis, but I'm not sure he presented and defended it as well as he could have.

I also agree with Tom that Megan hurts her argument with her insistence on forcing everything she says through the filter of libertarian dogma. On the other hand, I frequently criticize Megan for being insubstantial or inconsistent, or for relying on anecdotes, or for whatever, but I have to say I thought she did a really nice job both rebutting Glenn and presenting her own point of view. To the former, this diavlog may help Glenn sharpen his argument in the future.

In the end, I'm not sure it was possible to "win" this debate. I think pretty much everyone can agree that journalists have some special responsibilities, and that among the founding principles of our country is the idea that a free and unfettered press is part of the system of checks and balances. I also think pretty much everyone can agree that no particular news outlet is required to cover or emphasize any particular area or story, nor should any of them be. We would all like there to be fearless reporters dedicated to holding the government's feet to the fire, particularly those members of the government whose views differ from ours. We would also like everyone else to be better informed about issues we consider important, and not to waste so much time obsessing about ones we don't.

In a lot of ways, I am sick to death of the way the MSM, even given a near-limitless number of TV channels, radio spectrum, and dead trees, all tend to clump around the same few stories of the day. On the other hand, I am encouraged by the possibility, at least, of the wider array of choices for news and analysis that we now have. It's not clear to me that the general population was ever particularly better informed than it is now, nor that news outlets ever did a particularly better job. I'll agree that Murrow and Cronkite were better than Cooper and Couric are, and I bemoan how many cities become one-newspaper towns. On the other hand, the blogosphere and sites like this one have already started making up for some of the failings of older news outlets. Perhaps we'll continue to experience greater fragmentation and more strident divisiveness. On the other hand, the opportunity to become well-informed, or indeed to contribute to the great mission of journalism, has never been easier. For all of Glenn's legitimate gripes, I wonder if he would ever have been able to garner the audience he has now, doing what he wants to be doing, at any time in the past.
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  #31  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:30 AM
daveh daveh is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Glenn Greenwald's argument was so bad....

How bad was it?

It was so bad, that Megan McCardle took him to the woodshed and forced him to break the Hitler rule.
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  #32  
Old 04-15-2008, 01:53 AM
policy wank policy wank is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

Megan was able to thwart Glenn's bullying by constantly going off on tangents to which Glenn felt obligated to follow and bellow his opinion on. Hence the mini-argument over how many words he used to summarize the 4th Amendment. The bottom line is that Glenn could be a much more effective advocate for his positions if he wasn't such an insufferable boor (bore) (boar) (but not Boer).
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  #33  
Old 04-15-2008, 03:22 AM
binxdoggy binxdoggy is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I'm sorry, but whenever I read anything that McCardle writes, or listen to anything she says, I am always reduced to commenting in a simplistic and banal way.
She does that to me.
She is just plain stupid.
She reminds me of people I knew in graduate school who had no idea about applying whatever they'd learned to the real world.
They might amuse themselves and a few others by presenting vaguely interesting - to them - arguments that sound vaguely well-grounded as long as one doesn't scrutinize too closely.
I've also known a few bright children who were capable of formulating vaguely coherent arguments that made a slight amount of sense as long as you didn't examine them too closely.
But upon closer examination, there is no there there.
She cannot make - or understand - a logical argument to save her life.
While Greenwald tries to talk about facts and evidence, she bounces from feelings and anecdotes and generalities and stuff that she just "knows" - based on god knows what! -and never agrees to any real common basis for a discussion.
Her ignorance is appalling. Considering that she writes for a major publication.
The very idea that she cannot understand the role envisioned for journalists by the founders - as best manifested by the Constitution itself - is proof positive of her inability to grasp the most basic fundamentals of a conversation about journalists and their duties in this country.
What an idiot.
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  #34  
Old 04-15-2008, 03:28 AM
binxdoggy binxdoggy is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

She's learned an important trick, however, for someone who does what she does.
Even though she is monumentally ignorant of certain things - like Nuremberg and the principles of law that resulted from those trials - she at least attempts to sound authoritative, even as she acknowledges that she knows nothing about the law.
Way to go!
She may be dumb, but she sounds like she knows what she is talking about.
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  #35  
Old 04-15-2008, 04:16 AM
Eastwest Eastwest is offline
 
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Default Glenn = Correct & Clear; Megan = Libertarian Ideologue

It's a shame that some people find rationality somehow "boring."

Funny, MM gave so much weight to the dunderhead who "never got it" even after reading her daily for five years. Excuse me, by definition, anyone who could find her approach to facts interesting every day for five years is one who couldn't ever possibly be expected to sort out even up from down.

Glenn clearly had the high ground and the right ground. Probably could have saved himself a lot of trouble euthanizing her craftiness by refusing to chase down every rabbit-hole Megan insisted was important to explore. But, yeah, she seems to make a case for the urgency of considering all manner of BS digression. Can't say she was overtly "dishonest," per se, still she was refusing to be honest with herself and, guess what, the effect is not much different.

Megan was ever-dancing away from logic down little side-issues, all for the purpose of not having to face the fact that she was just out-and-out wrong in cementing herself into her libertarian ideology on this one.

Tom Wittman's comments were probably the best so far in summing it up.

It didn't need to run that long as the issues were basically fairly simple.

Megan gets the "Tenacious Obfuscation" award.

EW

Last edited by Eastwest; 04-15-2008 at 04:27 AM..
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  #36  
Old 04-15-2008, 03:16 AM
bramble bramble is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

I take MM's point that the media cannot be wholly blamed for the appalling ignorance of the American public. A minority of Americans vote, and fewer still make informed choices in the ballot box. If you're not involved as a citizen in the political process, why pay any attention to the news about that process?

Still, I don't think she overcomes GG's point about the moral and civic obligations of the media. Media companies like CNN and even Fox recognize their obligation to cover important stories about politics and government. Otherwise, they would run nothing but Paris Hilton stories and Larry King interviewing washed-up TV actors. That obligation is what gives their journalists and talking heads their sense of importance. Bill O'Reilly believes (or pretends to believe) that he is doing serious work that benefits his viewers.

But the media companies want to have it both ways. They want to be seen as serious yet broadcast a lot of filler and fluff because it pays better. When the issues become deadly serious -- i.e., war and peace - we get this situation where the media is using government propaganda as filler and fluff. This is a problem.
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Old 04-16-2008, 02:38 PM
-asx- -asx- is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

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I agree with Tom Wittman's comments on a number of your points, particularly the reaction to Glenn: I side more with his thesis, but I'm not sure he presented and defended it as well as he could have.
I'm not sure what else Glenn could have said, or how he could have argued the point better than he did. Really, it's not a topic that requires 78 minutes of discussion: There's just one basic premise: The media should do it's job better, and one basic rebuttal: You can't make me. Since they both agree that there should be no regulation of the media, there's very little left to debate.

Megan repeatedly tried to turn the conversation to a question of individual responsibility, while Glenn was speaking more of an institutional responsibility. Megan, viewing everything through Ayn Rand's individualist prism, wanted to talk about the responsibility of the fashion journalist to write about the Energy Task Force, despite Glenn's never having suggested it is the individual responsibility of every journalist to talk about that particular topic.

If anything, I think Glenn's argument may have been better if he had focused a bit on this difference between group and individual responsibilities: He wasn't asking for each individual journalist to do anything, but for the press as a whole to do a better job.

It's like finding nutritious food on the menu at a restaurant: Nobody expects that the entire menu be composed of health food, as long as there are some healthy choices. People won't begrudge the burger and fries if they can find a salad.

The problem with the national press is that it is so heavily skewed in favor of the trivial and the stupid.

But I must admit: We're moving in the right direction if the conservatives are all standing up to defend the quality and integrity of the MSM. It's about time they acknowledged how much the Republican Party needs a media that functions like this. Megan does a nice job of illustrating the conservative desire for a firewall between reality and the public: A media that ignores the important issues in favor of gossip and trivia. This is how John McCain will become the next president.

Last edited by -asx-; 04-16-2008 at 03:42 PM..
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Old 04-16-2008, 03:09 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

asx:

Quote:
Really, it's not a topic that requires 78 minutes of discussion: There's just one basic premise: The media should do it's job better, and one basic rebuttal: You can't make me. Since they both agree that there should be no regulation of the media, there's very little left to debate.
In some ways, I agree. But another part of me thinks this was an interesting conversation, and one that was worth having. No one wants to mandate how the media works, but many of us would like them to do a better job, whatever that might mean exactly. So, public griping is about the only way we can put pressure on the MSM.

I agree with most of the rest of your comments.
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Old 04-16-2008, 03:39 PM
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asx:



In some ways, I agree. But another part of me thinks this was an interesting conversation, and one that was worth having. No one wants to mandate how the media works, but many of us would like them to do a better job, whatever that might mean exactly. So, public griping is about the only way we can put pressure on the MSM.

I agree with most of the rest of your comments.
Good points, and I also found the diavlog very interesting. I should have been more clear: I didn't mean they talked too long, just that there was only one basic premise on each side, and regardless of how long you talk about it, there are only so many ways for Glenn to say that the media should do a better job. But I agree wholeheartedly that "public griping" is an essential tool for putting pressure on the MSM.

To be honest, what I found interesting was that as the diavlog unfolded, Glenn constantly found new points to bolster his premise, approaching the topic from different angles and with new information, while Megan (on the other hand) repeated two basic points from beginning to end: there is no individual legal responsibilty to cover a particular story, and the profit motive is the only consideration in dictating coverage. I found it remarkable she would respond with these two points no matter what Glenn said. (It was her way of refusing to concede that the media has failed spectacularly in the last 7 years, something she and the other conservatives on this thread are reluctant to do as it leads inevitably to criticism of the Republican Party and conservative institutions. As long as she and the other conservatives can hold the line at "the media doesn't have to," they can forestall discussion of the central issues that should have received greater coverage, most spectacularly the run-up to the Iraq war.)

There's one thing Megan didn't say that she was probably thinking: the legal responsibility of corporations to maximize shareholder value. I'm sure in her heart of hearts, Megan would have liked to argue that media corporations could be held legally responsible if they didn't cover Britney Spears instead of more important matters. After all, the market is the supreme civic institution in the Ayn Rand-libertarian worldview of Megan McArdle, and all goodness and virtue flows from it. Contrary to American history and the known expectations of the media, Megan holds that their only responsibility is to generate profit.

This is why few people want to live in the Ayn Rand dystopia.
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Old 04-16-2008, 05:18 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
 
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Default Re: John Yoo's Haircut

asx:

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I'm sure in her heart of hearts, Megan would have liked to argue that media corporations could be held legally responsible if they didn't cover Britney Spears instead of more important matters.
That's an interesting extrapolation. I could almost imagine some shark like Carl Icahn filing a shareholder lawsuit on exactly such grounds, especially if a particular news outlet had made a significant change from covering trash to covering more weighty matters.

It also reminds me that I have thought for some time that the fact that many news organizations are publicly held is part of what has contributed to their declining standards. The LA Times is one obvious example, but many, many new organizations have slashed reporting and editorial staff, closed remote bureaus, and boosted things like celebrity gossip almost entirely in an attempt to boost short-term profits. Of course, the alternative to public ownership can result in travesties like William Randolph Hearst and Richard Mellon Scaife. What shall we do about the chronic shortage of honorable billionaires? ;^)

In the end, it boils down to the same, nearly insoluble, problem: How can we make people "behave better" when we know that any attempt to do so would be worse than the problem? I guess we have nothing left except exhortations, and once in a great while, market forces -- some news outlets do get rewarded, eventually, for doing a good job.
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