23 YEARS LATER: Chozick and Stelter and bombshells oh my!


Part 3—The latest fine pseudo-report:
Judged by journalistic standards, the New York Times’ Amy Chozick is a genuine mess.

This Sunday, in a front-page report, she created the latest excitement with her latest journalistic fail.

That said, this is how Chozick plays the game. In fairness, it’s how political “reporting” typically works at the New York Times.

Last Sunday, Chozick used the “reporting” of Maureen Dowd to create the famous newspaper’s latest front-page debacle. And how strange:

As this was occurring on page A1, public editor Margaret Sullivan was attempting to address the paper’s previous front-page debacle. She was doing so in her weekly column, deep inside the Times.

In her public editor column, Sullivan even seemed to suggest that the New York Times may be conducting some sort of “vendetta” against Candidate Clinton. Given the nonsense occurring on page A1, you could almost say that Sullivan managed to call her shot!

Is the New York Times conducting some sort of “vendetta” against Clinton? It’s hard to evaluate such sweeping, amorphous claims.

Today, let’s start with a simpler task. Let’s evaluate Chozick’s most recent work, this pitiful, follow-up news report from yesterday’s New York Times.

Judged by journalistic standards, Chozick’s work tends to be quite poor. In yesterday’s follow-up piece, she described the way Maureen Dowd’s “report” had “heightened speculation” about the possibility that Joe Biden will enter the White House race.

(Hello speculation, their old friend! We think Paul Simon wrote that!)

Judged by journalistic standards, Dowd’s “report” was really a novel. She cited no source for her various melodramatic claims concerning what a dying man had done with his last few nouns.

On a journalistic basis, there was no reason to believe that Dowd wasn’t simply making it up. But so what? Chozick had taken Dowd’s unsourced “report” and rushed it onto the Times’ front page, where it proceeded to pollute the journalistic environment.

Chozick doesn’t do this sort of thing on her own; unnamed editors help her. But yesterday, she followed up on Sunday’s fine mess by trying to start a political fight in the dumbest possible ways.

Judged by journalistic standards, work like this is a simple mess. Basically, this is a gong-show:
CHOZICK (8/4/15): Mrs. Clinton’s allies do not hide their annoyance at the implication by Mr. Biden’s advisers and supporters that she is vulnerable, and ripe for a challenge from the vice president.

“She has the most money and she is beating every Republican in most of the polls,” Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the campaign, told CNN on Sunday. “So you can’t really ask for much more than that.”
Yesterday’s report wasn’t dumb enough to merit the Times’ front page. But in this passage, as in others we’ll show you, Chozick offers to hold the Biden team’s coats as they respond to ginned-up insults coming from ClintonWorld.

Does this first clip from Chozick’s report make any actual sense? Not really, no! Consider:

On Sunday, we happened to watch Palmieri’s appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources, the network’s weekly program about the work of the press corps. We saw no hint of “annoyance” on her part, hidden or otherwise, as she answered a string of questions from Brian Stelter about a possible challenge from Biden.

Below, you see the way Palmieri failed to “hide her annoyance” as the session began. In the exchange, CNN’s hapless Stelter hypes the Times’ new “bombshell” report concerning what Biden’s dying son had done with his final few nouns.

Politely, Palmieri responds.

Let’s state the obvious. As CNN’s media reporter, Stelter should have been noting the obvious problems with the Times’ latest front-page report. But with insider careerist players like Stelter, such things simply aren’t done.

As you can see below, Stelter began by skipping past the Times’ previous front-page debacle, the original intended subject of his interview with Palmieri. He did this so he could focus instead on the new front-page report.

Are you able to spot Palmieri’s failure to “hide her annoyance” as she responds to Stelter’s questions? Two days later, at the Times, Amy Chozick did:
STELTER (8/2/15): Let's begin with the Hillary Clinton campaign calling out the New York Times for, quote, “egregious errors” in a story about Clinton's private email server.

Check out this nearly 2000-word letter from the campaign, lambasting the Times. This morning, the newspaper is responding and promising that Clinton will be treated fairly right on the back page of the opinion section.

But it's on the front page that there's bigger news. The headline here says, “What Would Beau Do?”

Columnist Maureen Dowd says Joe Biden is actively thinking about running for president against Clinton. She says that when Biden's son Beau was dying, I'm quoting here, "He had a mission, he tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country will be better off with Biden values."

This story is something of a bombshell. It's on the front page of other papers now as well. So how is the Clinton campaign reacting?

Well, Jennifer Palmieri joins me now. She is the campaign's communications director and the author of the letter to the Times.

And I want to ask you about the letter and what the Times is telling you about unfair coverage. But first, this Biden news.

There has been talk for months about maybe, possibly Biden entering the race. He has said he'll decide by the end of the summer.

What do you make of this new development, all of this new attention? Will it fundamentally change the race if he does enter the race?

PALMIERI: I don't know about the—I don't know about new attention. I had imagined that this would be coming, that there would be more discussion about the VP in the news because he said that he would be making his decision relatively soon.

I have a great deal of love for Vice President Biden, a lot of respect. So do the Clintons and everyone in the campaign. And we're going to let him make his decision and otherwise stay out of it.

STELTER: You know this better than anybody. Is it too late for anybody else to enter the race?

PALMIERI: I don't know. It's pretty—the Democrat side is dynamic. So, it—you know, you have a lot of early states up. I don't know that it's—I'll let them decide that.

STELTER: So it's not too late, you're saying? You're saying it's not too late?

PALMIERI: Well, I'm saying—I'm saying I'll let the vice president decide if he thinks, if he thinks the timing is right or not.
Go ahead! Can you see Palmieri failing to “hide her annoyance” as she answers these questions?

Granted, Palmieri didn’t play videotape of herself washing Biden’s feet.

She said she loved and respected the vice president. She said the Clintons did too. But she thoughtlessly failed to offer evidence of inappropriate personal favors. Presumably on that basis, Chozick judged that she made no attempt to “hide her annoyance” with the claims being made by Biden’s supporters.

In simple language, Chozick was trying to start or suggest a fight. Two days earlier, Stelter had also authored a fail.

Excited by the Times’ new front-page report, Stelter abandoned his weekly program’s focus on the work of the press. Skipping past his planned discussion of the Times’ previous front-page debacle, he asked Palmieri a string of questions which were purely political in nature.

Excitedly, the hapless Stelter said the Times' new unsourced front-page report was “something of a bombshell.” Swept away by his excitement, he abandoned his planned discussion of the Times’ previous fail.

As we’ve told you for eighteen years, this is the way the mainstream press corps pretends to examine itself. In this instance, Stelter abandoned his program’s beat by the time he asked his first question!

Two days later, Chozick was reporting that Palmieri had made no attempt to hide her annoyance—as she said she loved Joe Biden and basically said nothing else.

This is the way our ranking “journalists” play their eternal games. You can see Chozick playing these games all through Tuesday’s report.

Chozick scanned the countryside trying to gin up a fight. The analysts groaned as they pictured Times readers being asked to swallow this undercooked guff:
CHOZICK: (Mrs. Clinton has already denounced parts of one of Mr. Biden’s signature pieces of legislation in the Senate, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which former President Bill Clinton signed into law.)

Friends described Mr. Biden’s relationship with Mrs. Clinton in the Senate as cordial and warm. But his relationship with the Clintons has not been without awkwardness and slights.

In December 2011, pollsters working for President Obama’s re-election campaign asked voters in an indirect but obvious way whether they would be more inclined to vote for Mr. Obama if Mrs. Clinton, rather than Mr. Biden, were his running mate.

The following year, as Mr. Obama planned his speech for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, he made sure to edit out a joke about dropping Mr. Biden from the ticket, concerned the subject would further annoy the vice president.
Chozick was working every angle, hoping to trigger a fight. Consider:

Were “awkwardness and slights” toward Biden involved in those last two anecdotes? Possibly, possibly not. But any such “slights” would have come from Obama’s campaign and Obama’s joke writers, not from “the Clintons.”

Has Candidate Clinton “already denounced parts of...the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act?” Implicitly, she has. But the focus certainly wasn’t on Biden when she did that. For all we know, Biden himself has reconsidered the parts of the law in question—the parts of the law which helped create the era of mass incarceration.

Chozick offered typical piddle all through Tuesday’s report. No, it wasn’t dumb enough to qualify for the Times front page. But the report was basically free of any actual information. From its start to its finish—she closed with a tweet from Rupert Murdoch!—Chozick’s pseudo-news report ran on typical silly jive.

At the same time, let’s examine what Stelter did on Sunday’s Reliable Sources.

Cracker, please! He invited Palmieri onto his show to discuss the previous front-page debacle—the front-page debacle Sullivan was trying to discuss in that morning’s Times.

But how perfect! Before Palmieri got a chance to discuss that debacle, a new debacle had appeared on the Times’ front page!

Flush with excitement, Stelter failed to see the problems with the newer front-page report, which he called “a bit of a bombshell.” Instantly, he abandoned his beat, asking questions which had virtually nothing to do with the press corps’ performance:
STELTER: But, you know, let me mention Maureen Dowd one more time. I have a quote I want to put on screen.

We know she's not a fan of Clinton, hasn't been for a long time. But here is something she wrote in her column this morning: "Many Democrats fret that she seems for impatient than hungry, more cautious than charismatic."

Would you agree with that assessment of your candidate?
That question had nothing to do with assessing the work of the press. But as Stelter kept asking such questions, he kept delaying his examination of the New York Times’ previous front-page debacle. Even on CNN’s weekly media show, he couldn’t maintain his focus.

Eventually, Stelter asked Palmieri about the previous front-page debacle, the topic she’d been booked to discuss. But even on CNN’s media program, the previous debacle had been upstaged by the Times’ new front-page report.

Stelter didn’t seem to see the problems with the new report. In the course of all the excitement, he never mentioned Sullivan’s plain suggestion that the Times is being less than fair to Candidate Clinton.

Dowd’s tale of the dying man’s last nouns had captured everyone’s attention. Sullivan’s column had been overshadowed by the latest front-page report.

In our view, that new report was a journalistic mess. But then, what else is new? The Times routinely prints such debacles. This takes us back many long years.

Tomorrow: Four front-page debacles since April! Also, other front-page debacles, dating to 1992

Friday: Twenty-three years later, liberal leaders “respond”


  1. "Friday: Twenty-three years later, liberal leaders “respond”"

    Today: Twenty-three minutes later, liberal "readers" respond:

    Somerby's the big problem.

    Beyond the rather obvious stylistic faults in a major micro-blogger, when I look around I can see no evidence that the major press organs behave problematically, no evidence that when supposed media analysts pretend to engage the topic they behave deferentially rather than analytically.

    Nope, all's well.

    Except for that awful Somerby, of course!

  2. I wouldn't confuse the various trolls that inhabit these blog comments with liberal readers. Because it is such a waste of time, they mostly don't participate here, so we don't know what their thoughts are. I doubt they think Somerby is the problem. That is strictly troll territory.

  3. Just this once be honest. Nobody buys into the idea that liberals are uniquely smart and honest people.

  4. Let's be even more honest. Nobody gives a rodent's ascot. The rats and their rears ends have left. Even the one who was already dead. So have the the trolls, the spellcasters, and the readers.

    1. Last refuge of the trolls: "Nobody even reads this repetitive blog but us trolls!"

    2. Last refuge or only generators of participation?

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