Morning Edition: May 21, 2015

Courtesy of AFP
Courtesy of AFP

CLINTON WATCH

Ron Fournier of the National Journal is the dean of the Clinton watchers.

In his 30 years covering the Clintons, Mr. Fournier has praised the Clintons, but he has recently been among those who find fault with them.

In a column that provides context and transparency about his coverage—a move that stands in stark contrast to ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos—the National Journal’s senior political columnist and editorial director explains the long and winding road of his Clinton coverage.
“[M]y appreciation of the Clintons’ strengths doesn’t blind me to their weaknesses, including entitlement, mild paranoia and an ends-justify-the-means mentality. Nor does my criticism mean that I hate them,” he wrote. “Relationships are more complicated than that, especially for journalists trained to show no fear or favor.”
We plan to pay close attention to Mr. Fournier’s analysis of Hillary Clinton as the election cycle nears. To see the column, visit http://bit.ly/1R611jy

CHARLIE BLOWHARD, IS THAT YOU?

New York Times columnist Charles Blow may take over from former colleague Fox Butterfield for providing ludicrous assessments of trends.

In today’s column, Mr. Blow, whose expertise is graphics and is the only black among the news organization’s opinion writers, argues that the media have used inadequate descriptions of those involved in a shootout that left nine dead in Waco, Texas.

“In Waco, the words used to describe the participants in a shootout so violent that a local police spokesman called the crime scene the bloodiest he had ever seen included ‘biker clubs,’ ‘gangs’ and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“While those words may be accurate, they lack the pathological markings of those used to describe protesters in places like Ferguson, Missouri., and Baltimore. President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were quick to use the loaded label ‘thugs’ for the violent rioters there. That the authorities have not used that word to describe the far worse violence in Waco makes the contrast all the more glaring,” he wrote today.

We looked up “thug” in the Oxford English Dictionary, which provides synonyms for the word. One is gangster.

We think it’s not a huge leap of faith to extrapolate that a gang is made up of gangsters. Therefore, we would argue that thug and gangster are almost synonynous.

Mr. Blow continued: “Now, to some this may simply be a semantics issue about how best to describe a criminal and a possible inconsistency, or maybe not even that. But to me it’s not. I try to register interconnections and historical context. To me, this is a societal and media issue about the imbalances in characterization, which is itself a proxy for the very value we place on different people simply because of their inherent identities and their personal presentations. And yes, race is a part of that presentation.”

Yes, we do think it is a matter of semantics and unworthy of a column in the gray lady. We teach history of journalism, so we suggest that Mr. Blow reread some of the works of Ida B. Wells, a media critic and chronicler of lynchings in the early 1900s. She does a superb job of analyzing race relations in the context of history. She used “mob rule” to accurately describe whites attacking blacks in New Orleans.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto frequently uses the headline, “Fox Butterfield, Is That You?,” to describe false equivalencies in the media. We think Mr. Blow could take up the baton from Mr. Butterfield

LETTERMAN SAYS GOODNIGHT

We never watched David Letterman during his 33 years as a late night host. But Ace of Spades, once a devoted fan of Letterman in his early years, isn’t sad to see him go. In a column, with the headline, “Liberals: We Just Can’t Tell If David Letterman is Liberal Or Not,” the website does a critical analysis of the host.

Ace’s answer to the headline: “No? Really?”

“You could compare his extremely hostile interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh–in one he snapped, without smiling, that what [Mr.] O’Reilly was saying sounded like pure ‘bullshit’—with his fawning, Tell Me More interviews with Rachel Maddow and undisclosed (but obvious) liberals like Brian ‘Chopper Warrior’ Williams and Tom Brokaw.

“The man has been phoning it in for at least 20 years. Yeah, he got off to a great start. But then he did nothing for 20 years. Tonight, Dave Letterman retires. But he quit a long time ago. Read the column at http://ace.mu.nu/

My weekly column in The Washington Times can be found at http://www.washingtontimes.com/staff/christopher-harper/

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