A Joke

You must be kidding…

“Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly?…

…because Janet Reno is her father”.


Suppose I told you that the joke was told in public to a handful of Republican funders by John McCain.

10 years ago, in Arizona.

The Washington Post reported the story in June 1998, but on the grounds that the joke was “too vile to repeat” only alluded to the specifics.

Perhaps had the Post the courage to publish the specifics, we might not now be facing the prospect of a McCain/Palin ticket.

American mainstream journalism, and American television in particular are increasingly spineless.

This morning, on Today, I heard anchor Hoda Kotb listen to a guest say with a straight face that Sarah Palin was the most qualified candidate to be Vice President of the United States.

The Today Show is a major money-maker, and every viewer counts.  As a result, (I would guess) they take great pains not to alienate anyone. Anyone. As a result, they are loathe to ask any hard questions, or raise any ‘unpleasant’ or ‘offensive’ comments.

Blogs, on the other hand, have no such constraints, which is what makes them so increasingly attractive.

Grizzly Bay, an Alaskan blog has more information on Sarah Palin in one page than a week’s worth of Today Show coverage.

I find myself going to Huffingtonpost.com on a daily basis now to read the most interesting and informative stuff about Palin. There is a reason that Huffington has skyrocketed to a valuation of $200 million while mainstream newspapers are going down the drain. Part of it has to do with the technology, but part of it is also the content.  More and more major stories are posted on blogs first and appear in the mainstream media later. But why wait for the mainstream media at all.

At our Vermont wedding I sat next to an executive from The New York Times Company.  He bemoaned the fate of The Times, it’s spiral downward toward insolvency.  The answer may be in part technology, but it is also in part capturing the cutting edge of news, without fear.

Oatmeal may offend no one, but it is not my favorite thing to eat.


8 responses to “A Joke

  1. Spot on Michael.

    Denial – it’s a river in Egypt.

    I still don’t get why – with the information clearly stating to the contrary – that so many refuse to make the shifts necessary to maintain their revenue. It’s this way for the “archaic” forms of news media – print and broadcast.

    Obama got it – he utilized the Net in a way that has never been done before – and it is paying off in a major way. When I hear McCain saying he tried to use “The Google” – I think OMFG – and this guy wants to run this country. I equate McCain with current mainstream news media – Obama is web 2.0

    McCain doesn’t have a snow balls chance…

    Now Google jumps into the fray by releasing its own browser – Google isn’t stupid, they refuse to split their stock according to Eric Schmidt on Cramer’s Mad Money (Which was at a paltry $500/share when that was broadcast) – THose at Google see where the net is headed – cloud computing, social networking apps that are web based, targeted ads based upon their alchemy of code targeting key words in a page. YouTube will improve in it’s display quality – Why is it that Comcast is placing a cap of 250GB on each account beginning Oct. 1, 2008? More video is coming. Web video is going to be so prolific that stills will be viewed archaic within a very short amount of time.

    It will be the so called “Non-Professional ” Journalist Bloggers who will give news reporting a breath of fresh air IMO.

  2. the reason that huffington post, guardian, dailymail and WSJ are on the up while almost all the US regioanl dailies are headed towards bankruptcy.

    The answer is simple – huffpo, wsj and the others target their audiences – they create niches.

    Here’s the kicker – geographic locations (with few exceptions) are not niches. That’s why the regional dailies are going to crash and burn,

  3. Agree that it’s about knowing exactly what your audience wants and delivering it consistantly.

    I know of a newspaper in a rural area of Ireland. It breaks every graphical convention in its layout, tramples roughshod over the finer points of libel and contempt, and often has large pictures of cattle and sheep on the front page. It is not so much sub-edited as randomly glued in place like a child would arrange a scrap-book. The sports reports can run to 10 pages, the obituaries to 15. It is mocked by those in the profession.

    And yet it consistantly sells out. Readers often queue-up at the post office to buy a copy of the 100 page Christmas Edition. They like the extra photos of school nativity plays.

    It’s thriving when so many local papers are agonising about their ‘branding’ and their ‘offer’.
    Thriving because its owner walks the streets and drinks in the pubs and knows exactly what people want to read and how they want to read it. Its owner is a millionaire.

  4. Paul, I love to hear things like that… it shows again that to read the public can and is a difficult thing, Im sure that the millionaire couldnt give a toss about hard news or journalistic integrity, he just gives the public what they want. Keen to have a look at it, any chance of its name…

  5. well done Paul – the major exception to the “geographical locations are not niches” mantra is of course Ireland.

  6. Mike, more and more, it looks to me like journalism is pandering to the reader. Instead of objective news, we get what we want to read, slanted to our very own sensibilities.

    I just wrote something on my blog about how some of these more evolved information peddlers, such as huffo, time, and dailycos might be manipulating digg and other aggregates to gain readership. Here’s the link: http://www.dare2believe.com

    Sorry. I guess I’m still a boyscout at heart and was hoping news would someday become objective and honest.

    Ho hum.

    PS – why do so many journalists seem so liberal in their politics? Am I missing something?

  7. Tom – look at the past 8 years. That speaks for itself.

  8. Cliff, I resist your generalization – you holding McCain and Palin responsible for Bush. If that’s the case, I can hold Obama responsible for Clinton or Carter.

    I don’t vote a party, nor do I hold a candidate accountable for someone else’s actions – only his or her own.

    And if I look at the last eight years in that vernacular, I see that McCain took a position on all of the important issues that were placed before him, while Obama did not. Indeed, Obama missed the majority of the votes in Congress, electing to vote “present” instead.

    Sorry to offend anyone – I’m amazed there is such a chasm between normally rational people and I am at a loss to understand why.


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