79: Katherine Graham: From “Personal History”
80: Larry Sabato, "Feeding Frenzy."
81: Bradley Patterson, The White House Staff, Advance Office
82: Martin Wattenberg, "Where Have all the Voters Gone?" [+]
83: Brian Anderson, "South Park Conservatives." [+]
84: Harrison Salisbury, "A Time of Change." discontinued
Katherine Graham: From “Personal History”
By Chrys Lake, Fall 2007
- - In 1972 The Washington Post began its investigation into what is now known as the “Watergate Scandal”. Katharine Graham, owner and publisher of the Post, teamed with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (journalists) to crack open a case that ended up being “the tip of the ice-burg” to a much bigger story that took over 2 years to uncover.
- - When 5 men broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, Nixon’s administration denied any real involvement, regardless of the fact that 7 of the people soon linked to the break in where connected to Nixon and his re-election efforts.
- - There was mounting pressure on the Post to discontinue coverage of the story from the Nixon administration—mainly because they appeared to be the only paper investigating and covering the story. Threats were made by Nixon, Republicans, and other influential people within the administration to shut down, mute, and stop circulation of the paper. Soon 5 employees of the paper are subpoenaed by the court for their information sources, but were acquitted.
- - Graham relied on the “two-source” policy to insure the reliability and accuracy of their sources. All stories were repeatedly reviewed and edited and were independently verified to make sure that they were true. The investigation into the Watergate Scandal and the Nixon Administration has been considered the most error-free and thorough journalistic investigations in history.
- - Graham attributes the breakthrough to good investigation by Woodward and Bernstein, faith in the people—not necessarily in the government, and pure luck.
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Sabato, Feeding Frenzy
by Sarah Ward, Fall 2008
- Feeding Frenzy - the press en masse attacks a wounded politician whose record, or more accurately, his or her character has been questioned.
- The wounds may have been self-inflicted, and the politician may richly deserve his or her fate, but the journalists now take center stage in the process, creating the news as much as reporting it, changing both the shape of election-year politics and the contours of government.
- Press invasion of privacy is leading to the gradual erasure of the line protecting a public person’s purely private life which makes the price of public life enormously higher
- According to ABC News Correspondent, Brit Hume, “We don’t see ourselves institutionally or collectively anymore as a bunch of journalists out there faithfully reporting what’s happening day by day…We have a much grander view of ourselves: we are the Horatio at the national bridge. We are the people who want to prevent the bad characters from crossing over into public office.”
- Gossip has always been the drug of choice for journalists as well as the rest of the political community, but as the threshold for publication of information about private lives has been lowered, journalists sometimes cover politics as “Entertainment Tonight” reporters cover Hollywood.
- The sorry standard set on the campaign trail is spilling over into coverage of governmental battles. Ever since Watergate, government scandals have paraded across the television in a roll call so lengthy and numbing that they are inseparable in the public consciousness.
- The sad conclusion is inescapable: The press has become obsessed with gossip rather than governance; it prefers to employ titillation rather than scrutiny; as a result, its political coverage produces trivialization rather than enlightenment. And the dynamic mechanism propelling and demonstrating this decline in news standards is the “Feeding Frenzy”
- The term “frenzy” suggests some kind of disorderly, compulsive, or agitated activity that is muscular and instinctive, not cerebral and thoughtful.
- The similarity of a piranha in the water and press on the campaign trail can be summed up in a shared goal: If it bleeds, try to kill it.
- Feeding frenzy, in the kingdom of politics, is defined as the press coverage attending an political event or circumstance where a critical mass of journalists leap to cover the same embarrassing or scandalous subject and pursue it intensely, often excessively, and sometimes uncontrollably
- Due to advances of media coverage such as satellite broadcasting which allows the media to go live from anywhere, conditions are always ripe for a media feeding frenzy like when Senator Joseph Biden was accused of exaggerating his resume in 1987.
- Watergate shifted the orientation of journalism away from mere description providing an accurate account of happenings and toward prescription - helping to set the campaign's agendas by focusing attention on the candidate's shortcomings, as well as, certain social problems.
- Presently an individual seeking office must understand that nothing is private anymore. All financial and private records will become public. Every investment made, every affair conducted, every private sin committed from college years to the present may one day wind up in a headline or on television.
80: Larry Sabato, "Feeding Frenzy"
Tiffany Holley, 2002
-Feeding Frenzy - the press en masse attacks a wounded politician whose record, or more accurately, his or her character has been questioned.
-The wounds may have been self-inflicted, and the politician may richly deserve his or her fate, but the journalists now take center stage in the process, creating the news as much as reporting it, changing both the shape of election-year politics and the contours of government.
-Press invasion of privacy is leading to the gradual erasure of the line protecting a public
person's purely private life.
-Gossip has always been the drug of choice for journalists, as well as, the rest of the
-The press has become obsessed with gossip rather than government; it prefers to employ titillation rather than scrutiny.
-As a result, its political coverage produces trivialization rather than enlightenment.
-Frenzy- suggests some kind of disorderly, compulsive, or agitated activity that is muscular and instinctive, not cerebral and thoughtful.
-The news cycle without end- creates a voracious news appetite demanding to be fed
constantly, increasing the pressure to include marginal bits of information and gossip and producing novel, if not distorting, "angels" on the same news to differentiate one report from another.
-Press energies are devoted to finding more variations on a theme, while a mob psychology catches hold that allows little mercy for the frenzy victim.
-Watergate shifted the orientation of journalism away from mere description -providing an accurate account of happenings and toward prescription - helping to set the campaign's agendas by focusing attention on the candidate's shortcomings, as well as, certain social problems.
-The price of power has been raised dramatically, far too high for many outstanding potential office holders.
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82: Martin Wattenberg, "Where Have all the Voters Gone?" [+]
notes by Jeremy Lewis, Fall 2007
- Young non voters are indeed common, stereotype is upheld by data.
- Despite this, 75% of freshmen active in community groups.
- Keeping up with politics important to only 26% of freshman in 2002 -- down from 58% in 1970.
- In 2000 only 11% reporting being very interested in the campaign, a new low.
- Youth report issues of day are not interesting -- but no more true than for previous generations.
- Real difference lies in media coverage: narrowcasting by cable and web sites.
- Political events are no longer shared experiences, because youth can avoid them by channel surfing.
- President Nixon attained a 50 share in presidential speeches, Clinton only a 30 share.
- Presidential conventions recently covered for only one hour per night.
- NES shows political knowledge of youth (with parallel questions) is far lower in 2000 than in 1964.
- Decline of knowledge among older is much less marked.
- Jefferson's concern that knowledge gives freedom.
- Politicians now know that youth are not their customers.
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84: Harrison Salisbury-A Time of Change -- discontinued
Tiffany Holley, 2002 [Additions by Jeremy Lewis]
[Theme: traditional reporting involves an adversarial relationship with those in power. Examples of Salisbury's provoking governments at home and abroad.
[1960-63] Kennedy Assassination coverage.
-Thought there was not much difference between Kennedy's and Nixon's ideologies, but not true
-Nixon was shabby in character but had a better grasp of the world
-Kennedy had style, but he was lazy
-Essence of journalism was reporting and writing
-Wanted to find things out-particularly things which no one else had managed to dig out
[Kennedy revealed to Salisbury his distaste for the press -- but unlike Nixon he had the ability to hide it for tactical reasons.]
-Dallas had seemed like another country, ranting against everybody.
-Said in the year 2000 the Kennedy assassination would still be a matter of debate.-Public felt for a man so noble the cause of death must lie in high conspiracy.Democratic convention [Chicago, 1968]
-yet to this day not one material fact has been added to the New York Times account of the assassination and the events that followed it.
[Street reporting was excellent; Warren Commission report added no facts -- but people find it difficult to accept that the "Sun King" could be struck down by a madman alone.]
-Everything was set for the convention to rise and sweep LBJ into the nomination but nothing went according to plan.
-The secret service couldn't guarantee his safety so he was confined to his Texas ranch.
-At the Conrad Hilton, police beat and hounded young people from Lincoln park down to Grant park opposite the Hilton.
-"The police have charged on a lot of innocent people and driven them through the glass window in the Hilton cocktail lounge, following them in and are beating them."
[NY Times reporters' coverage of the police violence was excellent, though head office moderated their language out of disbelief that Chicago police could have acted so badly.]
[Modern news coverage has declined: accountants have replaced courageous editors.]
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