An Issue of Fairness

mamayaga makes a superb point, in response to Byron Calame’s explanation that withholding the NSA domestic spying story was an issue of fairness:

[C]andidatesaffected by a negative article deserve to have time — several days to aweek — to get their response disseminated before voters head to thepolls.

To which mamayaga asks:

By the same logic, shouldn’t the major news media have held the storyof bin Laden’s conveeeenient new videotape until a few days after theelection? Or did they only want to be "fair" to one candidate?

Well, Calame doesn’t really speak for all the major news media. But let’s see how the NYT treated the OBL video:

  1. Kagro X says:

    More precisely, the NYT is going to report it because it’s news they can be scooped with, and thus made to look foolish and out of touch.

    The work of their own reporters, however, is something over which they have exclusive control, and can, when they decide to bury it, bury it completely.

    When the issue is â€if we don’t report it, it stays quiet,†they claim the question turns on fairness to the candidates.

    When the issue is â€if we don’t report it, someone else will,†the question appears to turn on fairness to their shareholders.

    By the way, where did this fear of effecting the outcome of elections come from? Why do newspapers endorse candidates? Or indeed, why do they cover campaigns at all? Wouldn’t it be more â€fair,†not to mention easier, to just stop covering campaigns altogether, and merely report the date of the election?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Beyond the fact, in those three days, the OBL video got spun pretty hard, by both sides. I think the NSA spying story MIGHT have been the same, particularly in 2004. A lot of Republicans would have used the revelation to say Kerry was soft on terror.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to pretend I don’t understand this from Calame: â€I agree that candidates affected by a negative article deserve to have time — several days to a week — to get their response disseminated before voters head to the polls.â€

    What negative article? I was under the impression–mistaken perhaps–that Bush was (and remains) proud of the NSA program. That, ultimately, the only reason Bush didn’t want to see a big article about it in the NYT was because such publicity might tip off the evildoers. After all, Calame also says, â€[NYT Executive Director Keller] has repeatedly indicated that a major reason for the publication delays was the administration’s claim that everyone involved was satisfied with the program’s legality.â€

    Everyone involved was satisfied. Bush thought it was a vital program to our national security. Kerry would, presumably, have come out against it. In other words, except for the (dubious) operational need to keep the program double-super secret, it was like most of the other issues in the election: Bush thinks we should be doing XYZ; Kerry thinks XYZ is a bad idea.

    So who decided the NSA program was a â€negative storyâ€â€“one that demanded giving Bush time to disseminate a response?

    I guess I’m with Kagro X on this. The media should stop covering campaigns entirely. An even fairer option might be to keep the names of the candidates secret (ala Iraq) so voters can’t hold unfair conversations around the proverbial water cooler (or in the fever swamps.)

  4. orionATL says:

    a nice short history here. very informative; very damning.

    can anyone doubt that the times, like any other corporate media, will always act in what its honchos perceive to be the corporation’s (aka their own)best interest, rather than in any national or public interest?

    this is where non-corporate media, like the next hurrah, has it all over the corporate media.

    i’d guess emptywheel’s only editor is spell-check and her conscience. she doesn’t have multiple editors or producers to slowly grind her research and insights into chewed silage.

    james risen probably had two to four editors, not to mention the nitwit, masticating his work. the only result was an eventual belch from byron calame.

  5. Kagro X says:

    Bush became â€proud†of the NSA spying when he could no longer hide it, and the election was over.

    When there was still an â€accountability moment†looming, it was a â€negative†story. Or so they surely argued to the Times.