News Media: Young, Old, Hip, Square, Whatever

I hadn’t heard that Channel 10 let Julie Tremmel go, but on GoLocalProv, Dean Starkman casts the dispute (now entailing a union-backed grievance against the station) in terms of the tension between the old-line news machine and the Internet generation. I don’t know if that accurately captures what’s going on in this case or in media generally.

A week ago, or so, I had a Twitter debate about Tremmel’s handstand video in which I came to her defense. It wasn’t that I was impressed with her performance so much as that I have a soft spot for people taking risks and trying different things.

(Soft spot aside, and in the spirit of critique, if you’re going to take those sorts of risks, the production values have to be beyond reproach. Being a clown is nothing new, and both the handstand video and Tremmel’s bear-attack skit had the feel of low-grade improv.)

What makes the Twitter discussion relevant, though, is that the people taking the old-line side against Tremmel were Ted Nesi, blogger-journalist for WPRI, and Matt Allen, the next-generation voice on talk-radio WPRO. Given those lines, it would be difficult to argue that Tremmel is representative of an up-and-coming ethos.

Starkman does catch a critical point about the speed at which news consumers want their information, but that only indicates a need for differentiation between breaking news and more-in-depth, informative stories. The real challenge lies in conflict.

The Internet has left the old-media oligopoly with less room to do what it used to do — namely, align with a political party and worldview and cast all opposition as villains. Over the long-term, in the narrative that builds day after day, news consumers need to feel that there’s a chance the winner might lose and the loser might win.

Whether any given reader/viewer sees the situation as the enlightened establishment fighting back the barbaric upstarts or as the righteous rebels laying siege to the walls of an oppressive stronghold is immaterial. For people to care what’s happened on a given day, there has to be some chance that things might have changed.

By the Time the Science Filters Through the News

The snow is falling outside the window (again), and upon my desk, figuratively speaking, John Miller has dropped a study showing that Democrats are more likely than Independents or Republicans to believe that astrology is scientific. The group most likely to believe otherwise — and to know both that the Earth revolves around the sun and that it takes a year to do so? Conservative Republicans.

The finding is particularly timely, because I was mulling over Seth Borenstein’s AP article in today’s Providence Journal:

The Arctic grew 8 percent darker between 1979 and 2011, [Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California,] found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected into space. …

[Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland] and University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati, who was not part of the research, called the work important in understanding how much heat is getting trapped on Earth.

How such an article could fail to note the interesting facts that Arctic ice is up, in recent years, and that Antarctica has been at historic highs, I don’t know. The intellectually curious conservatives who read this site might be interested to play with this interactive chart on Arctic sea ice “extent.”

“Extent” means the area covered by sea ice, and what one sees is that, while there may have been some downward shift over the decades, 2007 brought a rather sudden downward drop. I’m not sure what to make of that, but it seems like a result that would at least require some work to reconcile it with the idea of a gradual human-caused warming trend and self-reinforcing ice coverage decline.

The world’s an interesting place. It’s too bad the New England Democrats who read the Providence Journal don’t get to ponder it before they turn to the horoscopes on page C6.

Channel 10 on the Robert Martin Affair

With public officials at both the town and state levels pointing fingers at Channel 10 as the reason Tiverton Maintenance Foreman Robert Martin got away with apparently working on his own projects during the workday, as well as utilizing town resources and employees, I asked the news network for a comment. The following is from Chris Lanni, News Director:

No Tiverton town official has ever reached out NBC 10 News regarding the I-Team investigation into the former Tiverton maintenance manager’s misuse of town time and resources. If they had, they would have been granted access to the same information we shared with our viewers and with Rhode Island State Police. Our role as journalists is to be a watchdog for the communities we serve. In this capacity, we shed light on a clear abuse of taxpayer dollars and helped save Tiverton residents from future financial waste. While we will always be an advocate for our viewers, we can never become an agent of government. We are not here to do their jobs. We are here to make sure they are doing theirs.

It bears additional mention that the town and the state police are not without options if there were information they desired, but that Channel 10 wouldn’t share. Ten years ago, Channel 10 reporter Jim Taricani defied a court order to reveal an anonymous source, but it’s very likely that the network would comply with requests and subpoenas for information short of revealing sources, like time records of when reporter Parker Gavigan was tracking Martin, to check against Martin’s employment records.

As I’ve already written, though, it isn’t the journalists’ job to do the work of the police. Nobody has yet explained why investigators for the town or the state couldn’t put the pieces together independently of Channel 10, especially with the assistance of a known whistleblower.

America Once Was a Land of Laws and Freedom

Some mornings America’s new reality hits you the moment you turn on the computer. The point is driven home, deep within blue country, with parallels of national concerns at the state level, with the “bizarre” backroom maneuvering on pension reform (to quote House Minority Leader Brian Newberry), and at the local level, with Tiverton’s farewell to the rule of law.

But it’s the Obama Administration that wins the spotlight, today. There’s the new innovation in abusive use of the IRS that requires businesses to swear, under threat of perjury, that their layoffs have nothing to do with ObamaCare:

Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50 to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS – under penalty of perjury – that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions.

At the very least, that will keep a lid on news stories giving the legislative affront to the Constitution the blame for continued economic suffering.

Speaking of news stories, here’s one that’s gotten surprisingly little play:

The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the “most transparent” administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots. The index, compiled by the press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, analyzes 180 countries on criteria such as official abuse, media independence and infrastructure to determine how free journalists are to report.

It appears that we’ve got a long way to go to the freedom of Namibia, but at least we’re still edging out Haiti (barely).

What I can’t help but wonder is this: How can we trust the American news media to protect our freedoms when they aren’t making much noise about their own?

Rhode Island’s Problem: Lack of Vision, Lack of Responsibility

The two most disturbing aspects of the Town Council meeting in Tiverton, last night, speak directly to the corruption of Rhode Island, more generally.

Events From 12+ Billion Years Ago Cited as Evidence of Human-Driven Global Warming

Phil Plait, a blogger for Slate magazine, recently linked to a literature-review style “investigation” which claims that only 1 out of 2,258 “peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals over the period from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013…rejected man-made global warming”.

Here’s an example of the quality of analysis that went into the literature review.

Paper number 2254 is titled “X-ray emission from high-redshift miniquasars: self-regulating the population of massive black holes through global warming”. The subject of the paper is super-massive black hole formation believed to have occurred in the first billion years of the universe, which the authors attempt to explain in a way that is consistent with the observational record of distant quasars. The “global warming” being referred to has nothing to do with planet Earth. In this paper, it is the name given to a warming of the intergalactic medium, associated with early cosmological objects, that occurred 12-and-a-half-billion years ago (i.e., the 13.7 billion year estimated age of the universe, minus the first billion years, plus or minus a few hundred million).

This is one of the 2,257 papers considered as supporting the consensus that human-driven global warming is occurring.

Anyone claiming the mantle of “science” should realize that events that occurred 12-and a-half billion years ago are not relevant to the particulars of Earth’s climate of the last several centuries — but ironically and dangerously, actually reading a scientific paper and trying to understand what it means and how it fits with other work is more likely to be labeled “anti-science” at the present time, than is taking a decidedly unscientific posture that details matter less than consensus when trying to prove the existence of scientific phenomena.

Who Needs Press Secretaries When the Newspaper Does the Spin?

Providence Journal, front page headline, above the fold, today:

Enrollment in R.I. exceeds expectations
New data from HealthSource RI sums up who made what choices in first 3 months

From the eighth paragraph of the actual story, appearing on the next page:

But that target was clearly lower than most expectations. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island had expected 40,000 by March 31. A state estimate prepared in 2012 projected 62,000 individuals would have private insurance after the end of 2014. Last fall, Ferguson estimated that 70,000 to 100,000 people would get coverage through the exchange during its first 18 months.

I mean, come on. It’s bad enough for credibility when people who skim the headlines later find a story somewhere else that seems to contradict the impression the newspaper had tried to give them; it’s another thing when that reader can find the contradiction within the paper itself.

Progressive Strawmen Are Meant to Be Scarecrows

Whether it’s a conservative magazine’s editorial position on marijuana or the Catholic Church’s position on terminating pregnancies for medical reasons, Progressives’ goal is to distort and make their opponents seem unreasonable.

Changing the terms of debate doesn’t seem possible… until it seems inevitable

Libertarians and moderates who don’t think the Left’s strategy with same-sex marriage is transferable to economic issues should consider Rolling Stone and Shakespeare.

Suggested Announcement for DePetro’s Show Tomorrow

John Depetro returns to his show on WPRO tomorrow morning. Pop some popcorn (… er, pour some coffee?) and tune in; it’s bound to be interesting.

Personally, I hope he opens with an announcement of an eight figure defamation lawsuit against the group (though perhaps “beard” would be a more accurate term) For Our Daughters RI for their statement that DePetro

was accused of sexually assaulting a female co-worker

an accusation so rancid that PolitiFactRI (yes! PolitiFactRI!) rated it a “Pants-On-Fire” in today’s Providence Journal.

Katz in Today’s ProJo: Participation In Boycott of WPRO Is Evidence That the Person Is Not Fit to Hold Office

Ed Fitzpatrick’s column in today’s Providence Journal is about the public union led attempt to boycott WPRO until they fire John Depetro. As preamble, I repeat my own take on this brouhaha: I don’t agree with Depetro’s use of those epithets. They were nasty and unnecessary. However, if Depetro had made his comments about the […]

Policy Allows the Outliers to Exist

Bob Plain, of RI Future, just tweeted an interesting objection to a news genre of which Monique’s latest post is probably an example, from his point of view: “When it comes to public employees, #RImedia focuses TONS of attention on the outliers. Why? Like car accidents/house fires, it sells…”

As I replied, of what topic is that not true? Celebrities, deviants, traumas, disasters, even Plain’s much beloved trope of “the 1%” — what makes something news is that it’s new and/or out of the ordinary. If taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from employees most of the time, that doesn’t make it less newsworthy that they’ve spent around $200,000 keeping one in a holding pattern.

And what makes news relevant is whether anything can be done in response to it. Does a disaster indicate anything that people not affected should do, or anything that should be changed that might have prevented it? Are there policies or social factors that make a 1% inevitable? Is there something about the way government is constructed that makes it possible for a complaint against an employee to turn into a two-year paid vacation for that employee, or that makes employees feel as if they can spend 60% of their time working on their own projects?

If there’s a problem with Rhode Island news media, as a group, it’s not that they’re too skilled at finding misbehaving government workers, it’s that they spend a vanishingly small amount of time exposing the reasons that Rhode Island government is structurally likely to create these “outliers.”

Boycotts Versus Facing Questions in Public

Combining two serious matters playing out in Rhode Island at the present time…

…does anyone seriously believe that Rhode Island would be better off right now, if Cranston Mayor Allan Fung was refusing to discuss his city’s highly questionable parking ticket surge with Dan Yorke or Buddy Cianci on live radio, because of things John DePetro said?

That WPRO Boycott List & Representative Priorities

Rep. Mike Chippendale (R, Coventry, Foster, Glocester) writes to request that I note his position on the total boycott of WPRO as identical to Allan Fung’s — namely, that he’s not going to appear on John DePetro’s morning show, but is not going to shun the other hosts. According to Chippendale, his name was on the list of politicians who’ve signed on to the whole-station boycott, but it appears to have been removed, at least on the For Our Daughters site.

Simply because of the proximity of this morning’s reading, as I skimmed the list, the names of Rep. John Edwards (D, Portsmouth, Tiverton) and Sen. Louis DiPalma (D, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton) stand out. Earlier, I noted their confidence that they can sway the legislature to eliminate the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, and the two issues seem to sit together uncomfortably.

Do Edwards and DiPalma mean to say that if the push to eliminate the tolls comes to a head — hits one of those points in politics at which every Rhode Islander who can be reached with a message could be critical — they’ll refuse to reach out to the audiences of Gene Valecenti, Dan Yorke, Buddy Cianci, Matt Allen, Tara Granahan, Steve Klamkin, John Loughlin, the station’s news reporters, and even Rep. Deborah Ruggerio (D, Jamestown, Middletown), who has a Sunday show called “Amazing Women”?

That says a great deal not only about the general civic blindness of Rhode Island’s governing class, but also the specific priorities of the people on that list.

Kudos to Quiroa For Getting the Critical Point About the DePetro Flap

In the last hour, the Providence Journal put on line a letter from David Quiroa, the president of the Alliance for Guatemala. What did he “get”? Not that John DePetro voices the thoughts of “the right”; sometimes he does, sometimes not. Nor is it true, as Quiroa implies, that the thoughts of conservatives are dominated […]

Projo on DePetro shows exactly the problem.

Thanks to Kathy Gregg for illustrating the point I was trying to make yesterday on Twitter about how the local media is covering the unions’ push to get John DePetro off the WPRO airwaves.

In her Providence Journal article, today, she reports on the politicians who have pledged to boycott all WPRO shows until DePetro is fired, but the one she singles out for additional questioning is Cranston Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung… who was the only one (to his credit) to limit his boycott to just the host whom he finds objectionable.

That is the position that the local media finds to be in need of additional defense.

Based on commentary and private emails, yesterday, it’s clear to me that members of Rhode Island’s governing class do not understand the gravity of their positions. Their personal dislike of DePetro overwhelms their sense of responsibility to the people of Rhode Island — for many of whom WPRO is an important medium to learn the news, gain insight into government, and interact with politicians. Avoiding a single host is a comment on him and his show; boycotting an entire media outlet is a guilt-by-association effort to limit the ability of an organization to perform its function in our community, holding it hostage to political demands.

The local media should be outraged by that, and the lack of outrage raises questions about how well they fill their own roles. It shows an accedence to the principle that the news media must stay within government’s good graces.

Incidentally, Gregg notes the prominence of the AFL-CIO labor union behind the group that’s stoking this controversy, but without disclosing that she and her fellow Providence Journal reporters are members of the Providence Newspaper Guild, which falls under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO.

What do you mean, “media”?

Based on an ongoing Twitter conversation that’s spread into various threads (and since this wouldn’t possibly fit within even a half-dozen tweets), I thought it would be interesting to break down the idea of who counts as “the media.” The following list is ordered from broadest to narrowest, following the branch that ends on “reporter.”

  • Media: Includes all people who produce content for popular consumption through the senses, mainly sight and hearing, whether for informative or entertainment purposes. The information side probably ends somewhere short of scholarly journals, and the entertainment side probably ends somewhere short of fine art.
  • News media: Includes all people who produce media content that has mainly to do with current events. May or may not include explicit parodists.
  • Journalist: Includes all members of the “news media” who seek to provide information about current events in a way that treats subjects as objective areas of study (whether or not they provide their own opinions), with some effort to expand the reader’s amount of knowledge about it. Includes “opinion journalists.”
  • Reporter: Includes those journalists whose primary occupation is the provision of new information about current events, through research and investigation.

The subject of the tweets was whether talk-radio hosts are members of the “news media.” By this taxonomy, they would definitely be members of the “news media” (distinguished from, say, radio DJs, who would stop at “media”), and depending on the nature of their shows, they would count as “journalists” who sometimes do actual reporting.

To answer a question from Phil Eil of The Providence Phoenix, I would probably count as “news media” and sometime-journalist. When The Current was my full-time gig, I was a journalist who could be classified as a reporter.

RIGOP Joins Boycott of WPRO

It’s not at all clear how large the boycott of WPRO actually is. However large or small it is, the RIGOP announced via e-mailed press release just now that it is joining. RHODE ISLAND REPUBLICAN PARTY TO BOYCOTT WPRO PROVIDENCE: Mark Smiley the Chair of RIGOP issued a statement today regarding a boycott of WPRO. […]

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 14 (Unions & Politicians v. John DePetro)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the union-driven push to defenestrate John DePetro and whether it’s appropriate for politicians (in and out of office) to boycott an entire media organization and petition private businesses to do the same.

Now, This Petition Was Not Appropriate for the Governor

Frankly, the John DePetro v. Union Front Groups, with elected officials pledging to boycott an entire media outlet if one host is not removed from the air has mainly been an indication of how unserious government is, in Rhode Island. For people in office, as candidates or otherwise, to shirk their responsibility to let their constituents hear from them as part of a political spat is irresponsible posturing.

Still, when Monique asked whether it was appropriate for the sitting governor to join that list, it’s hard not to just shake one’s head and say, “Well, that’s Rhode Island for you.” And as I commented to the post, there’s much from which Rhode Island politicians and progressives generally want to distract the public.

But this, I think, is plainly not right, and in a healthy polity, it would be seen as such across the political spectrum:

On Thursday, Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger confirmed the governor’s decision not to go on any WPRO radio show as long as DePetro works for the station.

She also confirmed that Chafee had signed the group’s petition urging Rhode Island-based jewelry company Alex and Ani to withhold its advertising dollars from the station.

It’s highly suspect for Chafee to deprive WPRO’s audience of his participation because he’s made the decision that one on-air personality “has to go.” But the governor of the State of Rhode Island should not be urging one private entity to sever its business relationship with another private entity based on a single product that the latter produces.

By doing this Governor Chafee pushes Rhode Island one step farther into the realm of Banana Republics and Lord of the FliesFlies — not to mention giving business owners one more reason to think that Rhode Island might not be the business environment for them.

When Is a Lie “Half True”?

Maybe when reality begins to make a desire for political manipulation into a threat to personal professional credibility.

Such is the case, one may presume, with this year’s PolitiFact Lie of the Year, which went to “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” The article acknowledges that PolitiFact twice graded the statement “half true,” but it never suggests an intention to revise those rulings or explains how a statement that “is partially correct and partially wrong” could be considered a lie.

If you like your “half true,” you can keep it?

Indeed, every other Lie of the Year had previously been ruled “Pants on Fire” (sometimes in combination with being “False”):

As painful as the next three years are likely to be, it’s going to be fascinating to watch as the supposed watchdogs in the mainstream media search for the boundaries of their hedges.

Was It Appropriate For The Governor To Sign a Petition Pushing for a Talk Show Host To Be Fired?

GoLocalProv reports this morning that

Governor Chafee’s Spokesperson Christine Hunsinger told, “Chafee signed the petition (to remove DePetro) because he has daughters.”

This is the wording of the petition:

The pledge says, “We have asked Rhode Island elected officials and candidates running for office not to go on any WPRO talk show until WPRO ends their relationship with John DePetro.”

Was it appropriate for Governor Chafee to sign this petition?

And the role of the state’s paper of record is?

Further to my post, this morning, I want to add a stick to the flame of the idea that a state doesn’t get to Rhode Island’s current condition unless every institution that’s supposed to be a corrective to the corrupting power of government is perverted.

It must be stated upfront that there are some really excellent journalists at the Providence Journal. Considering the paper institutionally, however, I have to agree with Andrew Kadak of Barrington, in a letter published in today’s paper:

I hope that when the paper looks for a new owner, it will find one that really wants to expose corruption and mismanagement, and not be beholden to special interests. As an “outspoken voice,” the paper has been very quiet, and if Rhode Island is ever going to change, it needs a newspaper that cares about and understands its mission.

PolitiFact is a helpful symbol of the problem, but it’s a organization-wide issue. The things that get covered, or don’t get covered; how deeply an issue is inspected, and in what direction; who gets the benefit of the doubt, or doesn’t. Just look at today’s paper.

Our incompetent president, whose national approval rating is rightly plummeting, gets a boosting tie to Nelson Mandela on the front page. By contrast, it is news that left-wing, pro-abortion groups are “criticizing” Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin for making the point that Mandela supported abortion. It’s news that Angel Taveras might have made a math error regarding a pre-K proposal, but it’s not news that studies are finding such programs to be of dubious benefit in the first place.

This could be a daily exercise. As an organization, the Providence Journal has picked a side, and it’s the side that’s wreaking havoc on our communities, our state, and our nation.

Contrary to a Certain “Fact”-Checking Service, Rhode Island Does, Indeed, Have the Highest Number of Health Insurance Mandates

One of the reasons that Rhode Islanders may seem to suffer slightly less than other states under the mandate-heavy ObamaCare law is because … well, we’ve already been suffering: the Rhode Island General Assembly has heaped the most number of health insurance mandates on us. “On us” because, contrary to the muddled thinking of too […]

CORRECTED: The Pre-Spin on Forthcoming Unemployment Spike


The central premise and complaint of this post is factually incorrect. According to an October 30 release from the BLS:

Persons on temporary layoff need not be looking for work to be classified as unemployed. (Persons not on temporary layoff need to have actively looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey in order to be classified as unemployed.)

I’d thought people on temporary layoff were counted in one of the more-expansive, alternate measures of unemployment; that was incorrect, and inasmuch as the above clarification was published before my post, I could have discovered my error if I’d looked more carefully.

I apologize to readers and to Christopher Rugaber and thank commenter Joe Smith for bringing my attention to my mistake.

We may be about to see a big spike in the unemployment numbers, warns AP writer Christopher Rugaber, but don’t go thinking there’s anything wrong with the Obama economy. No, sir, it’s a statistical quirk and the fault of the so-called Republican shutdown… you know, when the Republicans had a score-plus of votes to keep the government open while trying to negotiate with Democrats to budge even a little to soften what predictably proved to be a disastrous ObamaCare implementation.

Unfortunately, the reasoning that Rugaber conveys contains a glaring contradiction:

One [measure of unemployment] is a household survey. Government workers ask adults in a household whether they have a job. Those who don’t but are looking for one are counted as unemployed. That’s how the unemployment rate is calculated. …

Suppose you’re a federal worker who was furloughed by the shutdown. The payroll survey would consider you employed.

Note that people are only counted as “unemployed” if they say that they are not working and have looked for work in the past month.

“Furloughed” means an unexpected period of time off, and the article goes on to explain that government workers furloughed for the shutdown were promised back pay (a promise made pretty quickly in the shutdown). So, for this analysis to be accurate, government workers who were essentially given some unexpected paid time off would have had to tell the employment-survey interviewers that they were actively looking for work. That doesn’t sound very likely.

Of course, this sort of spin is now par for the course on the media’s Obama-era golf course.

One Brown Professor Who Gets Why We Should Listen (But Needs Reminders)

Brown Professor Ken Miller steps forward to instruct students about the importance of listening to opposing views (though his own past activism suggest the lesson has farther to go).

PolitiFacting in the Service of Extremism Is a Vice

The journalists at PolitiFact RI appear to be okay with military presumptions against Americans provided it’s in opposition to the Tea Party.

When Even NBC Calls Him A Liar…

We’ve seen the battles between Fox News and NBC as they effectively act as the PR wing for the right and left. But what does it mean when one of them breaks ranks and writes an article that could have just as easily come from the other side? NBC News did a little digging and tells us what many of us already knew. President Obama has not been telling us the truth about the Unaffordable Care Act.

The Projo needs self awareness, not self defense.

The response PolitiFactRI editor Tim Murphy tacked onto the end of Jennifer Parrish’s objection to PolitiFact’s treatment of her is in keeping with something that I’ve found worrisome, lately.

Understandably, Murphy defends his department, but he does so in the form of an argument, without responding to or even acknowledging Parrish’s legitimate concerns. There’s no concession that the paper’s other sources were SEIU clients; there’s no explanation about why PolitiFact picked a particular fact to check; there’s no promise to look into claims made by the union. His commentary gives the impression of one party to a debate responding to another, not the disinterested judge that PolitiFact claims to be.

Murphy’s response brings to mind a recent column by Mark Patinkin, in which he defends newspapers — beginning with the cover price, but delving into the value proposition. He notes the number of reporters, some specialized; he talks about their watchdog function and the value of editors.

Arguments are possible, but for now I’d highlight what he doesn’t include: any sort of introspection about the paper’s responsibility to prove its value and question whether it’s doing the things that make a watchdog and layers of editors valuable. Maybe Rhode Islanders need and want a watchdog against powerful organizations that strive to change policy to their own benefit, not individual child care providers who are part-time advocates against those forces. Maybe skepticism about the watchdog function is justified when it looks like the DNC is doing the paper’s page layout.

Maybe when folks dip into the “splintered, random view” that Patinkin says he gets from online news, they see that the “informative portrait” they get through the paper is leaving out or amplifying details in a way that serves an agenda other than informing the consumer.

A major lesson in the consequences of media bias

Without agreeing with much else, I think Jim Geraghty gets this right, in his Morning Jolt email, today, and that it offers a lesson that Rhode Islanders and their local media ought to take sincerely to heart:

We live in an atmosphere where Democrats aren’t worried about any of their decisions backfiring, because they know the mainstream coverage will always give them the better of the doubt, hammer their opponents, and gloss over or downplay their worst moments. The flip side of the coin is a “Tea Party caucus” (for lack of a better term) that has absolutely no fear of getting bad press — because they feel/suspect/know they’ll get negative coverage no matter what they do. Most of these guys shrug at the Morning Joe panel unanimously denouncing them as fools and unhinged extremists, because they think the only way that panel won’t denounce them as fools and extremists is to stop being conservatives. A lot of those House members feel they might as well vote their principles and draw the hardest line possible — because if you’re going to get bad coverage, you might as well get bad coverage while fighting for a good cause.

I thought of this again when Jessica David tweeted an observation from Joshua Wright:

At the bottom, Rhode Island is the only state that’s lost middle-wage jobs the last few years. Coincidentally, it’s also seen a decline in high-wage jobs, meaning all of its job growth has been in occupations that pay $13.83 or lower.

Rhode Island is a land with no hard rules and an establishment that can’t lose, in large part because the media won’t push in the necessary places, because the only thing worse than a corrupt Democrat who destroys his community is a conservative who actually believes what he says.

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