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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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Those WH pool reports were on the up and up after all...

Without giving the matter any thought, I'd rather though that the White House pool reports with which the lovely Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette, regales her readers were spoofs, along the lines of Mrs Wilson's Diary and the 'Dear Bill' letters [1].

But the WSJ - the news section, not the op-ed crazies - says they're perfectly genuine.

Whoda thunkit.

The piece quotes a 2001 pool report from Dana Milbank, which gives an explanation for my error:
Our protagonist departed the White House near unto 9:20 this morning, bound for the Capitol in a determined effort to find Gary Condit...The big news of the day was made when our protagonist spoke about education. He declared that education is 'a passion for me.' In addition to this startling revelation, he made a case for free trade and his faith-based initiative.

The question begged is: why do the editors of the Post, Times, LA Times and the like not serve up this sassy fare on the news pages of their papers, rather than the usual Stalinist stodge of he said, she said.

Because, I suspect, the bean-counters have run the numbers, and Pravda pays better than raking the muck.

I'm still amazed that, in the immense volume of why, oh why pieces about the state of American journalism today and in the future, one rarely sees questions of management strategy discussed. It's pretty much all about the Judith Millers, and none about the Arthur Sulzbergers.

And why is that? Because - I hypothesise - to imagine the practice of news as governed by irresistible impulse rather than the policy decisions of senior management eliminates the possibility of blame attaching for systemic failure.

Big Media embraced nut-job right-wing radio jocks in the 1980s and 1990s not because of any ideological attachment to the Reagan Revolution but because said jocks provided a profitable business model for exploiting otherwise redundant AM frequencies.

(A fact most plainly exemplified that Clear Channel now broadcasts Air America Radio shows on several of its stations. It is interested not in Blue or Red, but in Green.)

  1. From the UK (once) satirical mag Private Eye. Mrs Wilson was the wife of Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1964-70, 74-76); Bill was William Deedes (former editor of the Daily Telegraph and model, apparently, for Evelyn Waugh's William Boot - his correspondent was supposedly Denis Thatcher, spouse of Margaret).

    (That's enough footnoting. Ed.)

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