Thoughts about...Journalism and Media

Getting NPR and PBS
Off Taxpayer Crack

Uncle Crack

by Terry Michael | March 11, 2011

As one who founded (22 years ago) and continues to operate a journalism-related non-profit/501(c)(3), I offer this commentary and some suggestions with regard to the NPR fund-raising debacle and the continuing debate over taxpayer funding of "public" broadcasting.  I do so as an admirer of great reporting by dedicated journalists at both NPR and PBS, and their local stations.

Let me begin by observing and commenting on what an NPR spokeswoman had to say about a fund-raising employee (Betsy Liley, NPR's senior director of institutional giving), who suggested the corporation might shield a donor with anonymity:

An NPR spokeswoman, Anna Christopher, had no comment on the phone recording. But she said: "All donations, anonymous and named, are reported to the IRS. NPR complies fully with all tax and financial disclosure regulations."

Those are  weasel words. I know them when I see them, having spent 16 years as a political press secretary.

Running a 501(c)(3), I am familiar with filing Form 990's. I've spent countless hours filling them out for over two decades. We list our donors over $5,000--names, addresses and amounts--on Schedule B of the Form 990--but the IRS does not make that public!  When we post a copy of WCPJ's Form 990 on our web site, we voluntarily include the Schedule B...
...because we believe in full transparency. For two decades, we have made complete PUBLIC reports of every single donation and every single expenditure, by line-item.  That should be REQUIRED BY LAW for all organizations that claim tax exemptions, and particularly by those to which donors can make tax deductible gifts.  Over the last 22 years, several individual donors have asked that their names not be released by WCPJ.  In each case, the gift was $500 or less, and we listed the amount with the word "Anonymous" in our regular reports of gifts, making the judgment that the donor either didn't want to be solicited by others, or just didn't want to brag about his giving.  In no case have we ever accepted an anonymous gift from an institution.

Washington Center for Politics & Journalism has never sought a government grant and never will, as long as I lead it.  We (I) do it the old-fashioned way, begging benefactors to give money if they believe in our mission.  And then we let everyone decide whether a gift or an expenditure compromises that mission.

With that background, here are my suggestions to NPR, PBS, CPB, et al......

(1) Wean yourselves off taxpayer crack. Tell the politicians who give you government grants that doing so compromises your ability to cover them objectively.  You would never accept politicians making grants to The Washington Post, so why should you get them?  Ask legislators and presidents to phase out federal funding for all "public broadcasting" over the next three years, which will give you a reasonable amount of time to come down from your addiction.

(2) End the fiction that "support provided by" is not advertising.  That is a euphemism, which allows your benefactors to hide the amounts of their donations in the secret part of your Form 990 filings.  Accept advertising, but publicly disclose every cent you get from advertisers, just as your reporters expect politicians to do so, when they file their FEC reports on campaign contributions.  Your listeners and viewers can then decide for themselves whether your reporting has been compromised by your benefactors.  That transparency occurs everyday in the profit-making newspaper and magazine business, when a reader can decide for himself whether The New York Times or Newsweek is being influenced by money it gets from advertisers who appear right next to news, analysis and opinion reports.

(3) Continue to operate as non-profits, if you must.  You can do that and still take money from advertisers, as well as donors.  Doing so frees you from that awful pressure of having to make a profit by satisfying customers--though a lot of good profit-making newspapers and broadcast networks still deliver excellent reporting to their customers, despite seeking that filthy lucre.

Call this Terry Michael's three-step program for ending the addictions of "public" broadcasting.

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Sprayed sperm and
Washington Post tabloidization

by Terry Michael | August 19, 2010

“Man Accused of spraying semen led a normal life. Suspect never had any issues. Showed no indication of bizarre behavior.”

You just read the headline and sub-heds for a story in the Metro section of last Sunday's (August 15, 2010) issue of the ink-on-dead-trees edition of The Washington Post. It led the front page of a section charged with reporting important District of Columbia news. It did so only four weeks until a local election, featuring a Post-endorsed young mayor who seems to think DC’s treasury is his personal piggybank for friends--though you wouldn’t necessarily know much about that from the meager space devoted to Mayor Adrian Fenty’s alleged transgressions. But I digress.

Just when I thought the Post couldn’t outdo itself in wasting space to pander to prurient interests, some genius editor decided to hype an account of a 28-year-old accused of spraying semen on “three women inside the Giant supermarket on Muddy Branch Road.” (“He’s never had any issues,” his mother...said in an interview. “He grew up in the church.”)

If you made it this far, you’ve either burst out laughing or you’re wondering, “Where the hell’s Terry going with this?” Stick with me, friends of journalistic excellence.

Two summers ago, it became clear to me that fewer adults were in charge of editing The Washington Post, one of the most politically influential papers in America--an arbiter of opinion, with clout to steer us away from disasters like Watergate, or encourage them, as in the Post’s neo-conservative boosterism of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In a twelve part July 2008 “Who Killed Chandra Levy?” series, the paper that brought down a corrupt president with investigative reporting by two local Metro desk staffers used its limited investigative resources to exploit the baser interests of a dwindling number of customers. Jesus may have needed 12 disciples to help him get the word out, but God published only ten commandments; so why, writing at the time I asked, do editors of The Washington Post require a dozen units of space to “investigate” the sad demise of a young woman?

This is not to say the Post didn’t, in the intervening time, also produce some fine investigative pieces, like Debbie Cenziper’s expose last October of the theft of $25 million by HIV-AIDS Industry “non-profits” colluding with the local DC HIV-AIDS administration to bilk taxpayers of millions, and Dana Priest’s “Top Secret America” this summer, exploring the frightening national security build-up since 9/11.

But the Post once again descended into tabloid hell this July, with “Lurking in the Schools,” wasting the investigative talents of three reporters and devoting hundreds and hundreds of column inches beating to death the story of a Virginia suburban sexual molester. Page after page was squandered on this anomalous tale, so far out of proportion to reality it reeked of the slimy Dateline NBC “To Catch a Predator” series, which fabricated news instead of covering it.

Sure, newspapers are in crisis, losing a business model that worked for decades, trying to find ways to attract revenue-producing readers. But the Post parent corporation is profitable, able to fund reporting that serves the purpose of the First Amendment, educating us for our civic responsibilities.

I remain a devoted reader and a fan of the Post and its great reporters and editors, like Dan Balz, the premier political journalist of his generation, and Marcia Kramer, a talented former Metro desk copy editor, who Ben Bradlee said “transformed [the Metro copy desk] into a first-rate, highly regarded organization.” I went to college with both, so I know them well. And I am sure more talent like theirs fills the newsroom.

But leadership has to come from the owners, sending signals to top managers that pandering is no substitute for quality journalism. And they need to lay down the law that flouting journalistic ethics will not be tolerated, as the Post unfortunately has done in the case of Mr. Ezra Klein and his band of “Journolist” liberal policy advocates masquerading as journalists. Apparently, the Post believes the telegenic Mr. Klein is just too cute to fail, because he’s still employed.

Maybe I’m just an aging curmudgeon. But I take seriously my 1969 Univ. of Illinois journalism degree, informed by news values from the Progressive Era. The Progressives were foolishly infatuated with social engineering by “experts,” but they sure as hell were right about the importance of fair, dispassionate and proportionate reporting.

Back to my digression above: Post editors, how about a little more serious reporting in the print edition about the paper’s endorsed candidate for mayor? I’ve been noticing that some of the really interesting stuff about Adrian Fenty only appears on your web pages.

Terry Michael is director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, for the past 21 years teaching college journalists about politics. He is a former political press secretary. He writes opinion and analysis at his “libertarian Democrat” web site,

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Elective Wars.
Brought to you with a little help from
our friends in the MainStreamMedia.

by Terry Michael | March 19, 2010

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) let his anger get the best of him recently, when he exploded at America’s press for obsessing on a disgraced congressman while blood and treasure is spilled for a corrupt U.S. client government in Afghanistan.  But Kennedy got it mostly right, despite his over-the-top angry tone.

Years ago, America’s now decimated newspapers and broadcast news divisions shut down all but a handful of foreign bureaus, leaving international coverage to flag-waving Cable TV anchors, embedding themselves with troops to market their “shows.” American journalism has scant resources--and even less will--to investigate foreign affairs.

With military boosterism substituting for intelligent foreign policy coverage, America’s mainstream media has made itself the propaganda organ for a phony bi-partisan, military and congressional industrial complex.

“I talk to myself because I like dealing with a better class of people.”  Jackie Mason's Borscht Belt humor sums up the Washington echo chamber control of keys to the foreign policy temple, open to a few Democratic and Republican congressional and think tank “experts,” plus a cadre of neo-conservatives who populate cable babble punditry and op-ed pages read by official Washington and its press corpse (sic.)

It takes no imagination to see how the “liberal” Washington Post circumscribed discourse in the run-up to the Iraq War and drove a non-debate about Afghanistan.  The appropriate aphorism is, “He who controls terms of a debate leverages its outcome.”  Two names come to mind as controllers of the foreign policy “debate” inside the Washington establishment:  the neoconservative editor of The Washington Post editorial page, Fred Hiatt, and his neo-con deputy editor, Jackson Diehl.

Conservatives used to deride the Post as "Pravda on the Potomac."  Now they have two of their own driving the sheep-like herd of Beltway policy makers and pundits.  Hiatt and Diehl  have stacked the Post 's so-called “op-ed” page with a bevy of neo-con artists.

Chief among them, Charles Krauthammer, with neo-con bona fides reflected in his Wikipedia biography, noting his 2004 'Democratic Realism' speech, when he won the “Irving Kristol Award.”  Krauthammer also writes for The Weekly Standard, edited by Bill Kristol, son of the late godfather of neoconservatism, for whom is named Krauthammer’s commendation--neo-con self congratulation.

Bill Kristol is a Republican political hack, pretending to be a public intellectual.  Bounced from The New York Times op-ed page last year, Kristol received a consolation prize from Hiatt, a monthly Post column.

Also writing monthly for the Post ’s one-sided foreign policy opinion page is neo-con cheerleader Robert Kagan, of the poorly-named Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  His most recent column: “On foreign policy, Obama and the GOP find room for agreement.” Yes, "bi-partisan" agreement, indeed--formulated by the militarist Republican Party’s tiny but influential neoconservative branch and the Neo-Con Lite Democratic war boosters, obfuscating relationship to the military-congressional complex by calling themselves “liberal internationalists.”

In that March 5 Post screed, Kagan wrote: “Democrats who look back fondly to the days of George H.W. Bush forget that they voted overwhelmingly against the Persian Gulf War...Today, by contrast, the administration and opposition largely agree on some of the most pressing issues. [F]oreign policy is one area where the government is working.” It has worked really well for the neo-cons, who in 2002 enlisted “liberal” prospective presidential candidates Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, who feared they wouldn’t look tough if they resisted the blank check for the elective war into which Bush-Cheney scared the country.  It took "anti-war" Obama only months to be co-opted into the phony bi-partisanship of the military-congressional industry, which has insinuated itself as a jobs program into every state and district.

Briefly playing  good “liberal” cop to Obama’s dithering bad cop in the kabuki theatrical Afghan policy review, Biden received a pat on the back for his good behavior from Kagan: “[W]e may be seeing reestablishment of the...alliance between liberal interventionist Democrats and hawkish internationalist Republicans that provided working majorities throughout much of the Cold War and...Clinton years. In the 1990s, Joseph Biden was a card-carrying member of this coalition...[and] Biden's willingness to take ownership of Iraq today may be a signal that the pendulum is swinging back again.”

Kagan also blessed President Woodrow Obama: “Nothing would do more to cement bipartisan support...than a return to the old American tradition of making the world safer for democracy.”

Rounding out Fred Hiatt’s stable of neo-cons is the self-promoting big government conservative and former Bush speech writer, Michael Gerson.  Talk about rewarding incompetence!

Of course, Hiatt would point to his token op-ed liberals, Progressive Era throwback, E.J. Dionne, and self-described “democratic socialist” Harold Meyerson, both of whom write almost exclusively about domestic affairs.

The Post hasn’t been alone in neo-con stacking of the policy deck.  David Brooks and Tom Friedman were New York Times war boosters. Friedman, darling of establishment moderate Democrats, has penned countless weasel words to square his early war-making drum beats with unfolding reality.  Recently, he all but declared Iraq a success, arguing: “I only care about one thing:  that the outcome in Iraq be...forward-looking enough that those who have actually paid the price--in lost loved ones or injured bodies....see Iraq evolve into something that will enable them to say that whatever the cost, it has given freedom and decent government to people who had none.”  

Well, isn’t that special. Worthy of neo-con accolades.

Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael tries to teach college journalists not to mimic their baby boomer MSM bosses. His “thoughts from a libertarian Democrat” are at

Writer's Note to Readers: This argument in no way disparages some excellent reporting in the news pages of both the Post and the Times. But the identity of a great newspaper is, in significant measure, a function of its editorial and op-ed pages.

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Swine Flu Fantasies
A testing epidemic, spread by media ignorance

by Terry Michael | June 2, 2009

Two very unfortunate realities explain the recent frenzy of public mask wearing, cable TV fear marketing, and the waste of probably a billion tax dollars worldwide in flu virus surveillance. First, there are the tunnel-visioned infectious disease prevention bureaucracies, which tout their epidemiological monitoring as the frontline protecting human health. Then there are their half-witted media propagandists, who wouldn't know the inside of a biology lab from a Labrador Retriever, and who avoided Statistics 101 like the plague.

I write while traveling late May in the South Pacific, where tens of thousands of passengers like me are greeted daily by an army of health ministry workers in New Zealand and Australia, collecting special health report forms from generally healthy passengers, and even video-capturing each face that passes by their airport control points. Late May. That's over a month since it should have been obvious to anyone with elementary logic skills that the pig flu is no uglier than hundreds of its viral cousins.

What separates H1N1 or "swine flu" (pity the poor pork producers) from other genetic code written in nucleic acid and wrapped in a little protein—the definition of a virus—is not an epidemic of illness or death. It's an epidemic of testing.

If you do a Google search for news from the first week of the "epidemic," you will find that Mexican health authorities counted 159 deaths as of April 28, as reported in The New York Times. A month later, when you might expect that number to be appreciably higher, the Associated Press listed the death toll in Mexico at 89—with the AP conveniently forgetting to report the nearly 100% disparity from the earlier statistic. That same AP story noted that the "world's death toll" was 108.

By April 29, Mexican health authorities were triumphantly heralding the discovery of "patient zero," a little boy in the town of La Gloria, who had suffered some flu-like symptoms a few weeks earlier and had fully recovered—again, according to the Times. In the same story, however, the Times also reported that, "Before Édgar fell ill, another person in San Diego may have been affected, said Dr. Miguel Ángel Lezana, Mexico's chief government epidemiologist." So much for patient zero.

Within a couple of weeks of that triumph of Mexican epidemiology, we learned no virus had been detected by testing swine at the pig farm near little Édgar Hernández's home. (Pity the poor little boy and his tearful mother, who lamented the world's fingering her son as the source of the Great Swine Flu of 2009.)

A few more than 100 deaths in the past month would be no more than a fraction of those who die each day in the U.S., Mexico, and the rest of the world from the amorphous disease described by the medical term of art, "the flu."

Indeed, the New York school children who tested positive for it in late April yet suffered nothing more than sniffles and tummy aches, provided early confirming anecdotal evidence that H1N1 was no killer bug.

So why the pig flu panic? Thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO)—and all the health ministries they influence, like those in New Zealand and Australia—the world was subjected to frenetic surveillance of a single "new" flu strain.

If similar resources were used to check for other strains of virus causing other cases of flu-like illness during the same time period, mothers around the globe would have been panicked by some other viral code, though perhaps one with a less scary and dirty-sounding name.

But the well-funded CDC and WHO, not to mention those health ministries in New Zealand and Australia, wouldn't have had the necessary threat to yield them even bigger budgets from politicians pandering to a panicked public. And that panic, of course, has been provoked by science-challenged "news" organizations that propagandize for the virus-obsessed health agencies.

Epidemiologists studying communicable diseases are not the first or even second line of defense for our health. Strong immune systems are. It was their immune systems—not the CDC and WHO, not doctors, not drug peddling pharmaceutical companies—that protected those school children in New York, a few of whom had been to Mexico, where, like much of the developing and third world, poor nutrition and exposure to drinking water polluted by old bacterial pathogens weakens natural immunities to disease.

But proper nourishment and clean water don't have public relations advisors like the CDC and the WHO. So what we might call "flu-ism" spreads, a psychological phenomenon that can make us stupid as pigs, but not actually very ill.

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Brain Graphic by Terry Michael

Voters from Venus,
Press from Mars

Judging debates with lower brain amygdalae,
not the slower higher brain neocortex

Terry Michael | September 25, 2008

Voters are from Venus, political reporters are from Mars.

More precisely, the majority of those electing the next president will analyze the candidates mostly with the pattern recognition area partly centered in the amygdalae and other regions of the lower brain, gray matter that governs speedily-processed emotions quickly allowing us to flee the tiger, or stay and fight.

It's that high quality emotional intelligence to which Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain need to pay most attention as they prepare for debates, in which they'll be compared side-by-side for 90 minutes, instead of as 9-second sound-bites or 30-second "I approved this message(s)."

In contrast to voters, journalists who interpret politics seem to do most of their thinking with the neocortex, six layers of brain cells just below the top our skulls, where we slowly weigh complex options--like 61-point health care plans--to make "informed" decisions.

This is no politically incorrect argument that the "lower" brain is feminine and the "higher" male.  But what used to be called women's intuition and can now be termed Blink thinking (by Malcolm Gladwell) is a better guide to analyzing voters than the political press' apparent vision of citizens working their way through a checklist of The Issues published by the League of Women Voters.

That brings us to the puzzle facing about half of the electorate, political and media elites, who can't fathom why Obama, with domestic policies favored by solid majorities, isn't far ahead of Sen. John McCain, saddled with a nose-diving economy, a disastrous war, and one of the most unpopular GOP incumbents in history.

After McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin, those who urged Obama to just get back to the issues were naive, even when it would seem that 2008 is once again the economy, stupid.

For years, liberal Democrats like John Kerry have deluded themselves into believing voters will flock to them if only the unwashed masses can be made to understand the party's wealth re-distributionist plans for the poor and middle class, instead of focusing on pesky values.  For a fuller understanding, see the left-liberal nonsense published as, "What's the Matter with Kansas."

In 2004, I asked my mother, then 84, if she had watched George Bush's acceptance speech.  "I can't stand to look at him."  Well, how about Kerry? "Oh, I can see right through him."  By which she meant a man trying to have everything every way.

My mother, who died this March, was a Hillary fan.  Some part of her emotional intelligence felt a kinship, though Mom had no knowledge of The Plans at I wish I could ask her what she thinks of Gov. Sarah Palin.  I don't have a clue, because Mom might have empathized with another mother of five--or she might have chastised a young mother for not staying home.  But I'm certain my mother wouldn't have cited either Palin's energy expertise or ignorance of policy wonkish blather that infatuates reporters.

The problem for Democrats is that Palin dramatically yielded an emotional connection for the GOP ticket with some conservative and populist leaning independents, albeit mostly with Republican base voters on the social-cultural right.

When that occurred, Obama's Achilles heel, a too cool persona, became more of a liability--though we really have no idea with how many among the ten percent of persuade-ables, in the 15 or 20 battleground states.

Of course, he now needs to talk about the economy, as does McCain.  But the cure for Obama is not to convince stupid voters to stop pushing back against their economic interests, though the Wall Street crisis will undoubtedly push a significant number of independents in his direction.  And McCain's challenge is not to develop a ten-point-plan for economic recovery.

Obama needs to make himself more of a regular guy, who shops at Safeway rather than Whole Foods--someone who seems to feel the pain of voters.  He needs to stop being so professorial, thinking out loud in carefully measured "um" and "uh" phrases; and get himself on as many basketball courts as possible, surrounded by NBA stars.

And McCain, through body and face language and effective sound-bites, must prove that he gets the economic crisis and isn't too old to handle the burden.

With the debates, both candidates actually get a second chance to make a first impression with voters, who'll think more like my mother did than do issue-obsessed editorial writers and policy pundits.


Sources Note: In addition to "Blink" by Gladwell, read Jeff Hawkins' "On Intelligence", another popular work dealing with the brain's pattern recognition.

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by Terry Michael
July 14, 2008

New Journalism

at The Washington Post

Pandering to the masses with the
12 (twelve!) part Chandra Levy series.

"The Chandra Levy case captivated the world."

You can see those breathless words for yourself if you navigate to a web page posted Friday, July 11 touting a 12-part series about a dead intern (yes, you read that correctly: twelve!), the first installment of which was plastered across the front page of the Post's Sunday print edition two days later.

Stop whatever youre doing and think about that.  Reporting staffs are being decimated all over the American daily newspaper landscape.  Seasoned journalists are being forced into early retirement buy-outs.  Hundred-year-old news values--objectivity, fairness, dispassion, fact-based arguments, proportionality--are being trashed in an infotainment media culture that dumbs down public discourse to verbal food fights, featuring talking-pointed-heads on cable "news" channels.

And the paper of record in the capital of the free world, a few miles up the road from where Jefferson and Madison understood the importance of the printed word to our experiment in liberty, has used its investigative and metro staff resources to publish a 12 part (twelve!!!) tabloid-style series pandering to the prurient interests of readers captivated by the unsolved murder of an intern.

Jesus probably needed 12 disciples to help him get the Word out.  God made do with ten commandments.  But why do the editors of The Washington Post require a dozen units of precious news hole space to investigate the sad demise of a young woman in Washington?

Could I suggest some other uses of that reporting talent?

Might those metro correspondents have made better use of their time looking into the deep culture of corruption that so obviously is festering in the District of Columbia government, where property taxpayers were bilked of tens of millions of dollars in a scam that had to involve scores of employees winking and nodding?  Or how about the $650,000 appropriation for needle exchanges, advocated earlier this year by our peripatetic young mayor.  Who's getting those contracts, financed by taxes paid by about 65 people like me, who each involuntarily donated roughly $10,000 in income, sales and property taxes to the District of Columbia in the past year?

Or, how about using those investigative correspondents to look into the hideous failure of our war on drugs, the 35th anniversary of which was celebrated a few weeks ago at the Drug Enforcement Administration.  The Post might have used the leg work and document explorations devoted to the death of an intern to question what we've gotten for those tens of billions thrown at neo-Prohibition.  (HBO's The Wire stepped in to explore that question, which bviously was too demanding for a news organization with murder mystery priorities.)

Here's another thought.  Next April, we come upon the 25th anniversary of a press conference held in Bethesda, heralding the discovery of the virus that was the "probable cause" of AIDS--a scientific feat performed at the National Institutes of Health without publication of a single peer-reviewed paper preceding the press release.  Could the Post's investigative team have set aside a little time to explore the anomalies that have piled so high from that hypothesis they might not actually be anomalous, but rather contradictions of a seriously flawed theory?

Make your own list.  Those are the favorites of this particular skeptic, with his 1969 bachelor's degree in journalism from the Univ. of Illinois.

I run a program to teach college journalists about politics.  My next class of 13 students arrives in Washington September 2 for four months of interning in news bureaus while they receive twice-weekly seminars about politics.

I just hope the Post's 12-part series is over before they get here, because I dont want them to see this "journalism" from the newspaper at which two young metro reporters helped bring down a corrupt administration several decades ago.

Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael writes at his "libertarian Democrat" blog,

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Washington Post to Readers:
Stop Us Before We Kill Again

Post (war) Partum Depression?

by Terry Michael, March 20, 2007

People! Listen up. If there’s a journalism shrink in the crowd, please proceed immediately to the media tent. The editorial page editors of The Washington Post seem to have dropped some really bad shit on this otherwise fun and fabulous fourth anniversary of their first Iraq war trip. They’re having these, like, uh...reality-based flashbacks about no actual WMD’s, and non-threatening paper tiger thugs, and tribal, theocratic cultures that don’t seem to be into flower power. If you’ve got any anti-anxiety stuff to help ‘em out, man--pills, or whatever--they could really use it. Please help, man. Peace and love. Rock on.

I live in Washington, DC. I know surreal when I see it. And I saw it in vivid blotter acid color this past Sunday on the editorial page of a paper that once helped bring down a president who also undercut America’s moral authority several decades ago.....

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Nieman Reports / Spring 2004
Why Political Journalism Fails
at Handicapping the Race

By Terry Michael
Money, ads, staff and calendar. Those themes dominate much of political journalism in the months before a presidential election cycle really kicks in. And they are pushed by reporters acting as horserace handicappers, trying to determine the main contenders and which candidates have what it takes to win the nomination and even the fall election.

It’s a kind of “supply-side” approach to political reporting. Figure out who has the most money, the cleverest commercials,the most seasoned operatives, the advantages of early caucus and primary dates—and reporters have the data they think they need to predict likely winners.... read the complete text:
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The non-debate on the war
Published August 25, 2005
By Terry Michael
"Teach your interns the role of journalists is to question power, not propagate it." That advice arrived recently from retired New York Times columnist Tom Wicker. While Mr. Wicker's words are important for my journalism students, they're a timely reminder for the Baby Boom leaders of America's newsrooms — who should have learned more than they did in the '60s, when the best and the brightest gave us Vietnam. The most influential interpreters of our public affairs are accepting, rather than expanding, a noose-tight frame the Washington political culture is enforcing to limit permissible discourse on the war in Iraq.... read the complete text:
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