The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Sad, sad tales from Iowa: #2

What's so very wrong about Schadenfreude?

(As Bernard Bresslaw would have put it, I only arsked...)

You can scarcely move for why, oh why, oh why pieces on the punditry's folly in plumping for Mr Angry with so little caveating. (But take Howard Kurtz as representative [1].)

I'm not expert in these matters. But I do get the impression that it's not the first time in such contests that a favourite has come unstuck down the home stretch.

Perhaps the commentariat are paid telephone numbers to overlook such annoyances and give the downright, one-handed forecasts that Joe Blow wants to read over his waffles of a morning. (What is the demo for this sort of op-ed? Is it pundit talking to pundit, with Joe Blow sticking with the sports section and keeping the op-eds for when he runs out of Angel Soft?)

From the media outlet's viewpoint, surely snafus like Iowa are entirely predictable. After all, if the racing [1] tipsters a paper runs got their tips even 50% right - well, they'd be backing them themselves, and not struggling on a journo's wage.

The fact that predictions might have been on the op-ed pages, and the (so-called) straight journalists stuck to just the facts, doesn't affect the matter much: it's a division of labour I'd suspect to be not universally recognised by the readership, and much less respected than recognised. After all, it's the same newspaper, regardless of the page on which the words of unwisdom appear.

(The fallacious notion of objective journalism no doubt informs media thinking: that factual reporting can be kept hermetically sealed from the taint of the necessarily cowboy hackery involved in punting on election results.)

  1. Howie is, himself, not exactly the model of journalistic moral rectitude, what with the conflicts of interest inherent in his Reliable Sources gig on CNN. Will the reptiles bite back?

  2. Horse-racing, that is.

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