The answer to the above question: When it’s impossible to distinguish the satire from the real thing.
I received several emails today alerting me to a post at Power Line that purported to reprint a directive from a powerful person at a major media outlet, describing how to cover the upcoming Republican Convention. Here, let me share some of it with you:
We all know that network news coverage of national conventions has come in for severe criticism in recent years. While no one expects gavel-to-gavel coverage anymore, we’ve been accused of superficial and insufficient coverage, and of refusing to allow the parties to tell their story in their words before we pounce.
This year’s Republican convention provides us with a golden opportunity to restore our convention coverage to its former glory. If we handle things properly, and follow the guidance set forth below for each day of the convention, we can give the Republicans all the air time they want while still providing our viewers with the real story of the convention.
With Bush out of the way, Republicans will turn to what they do best — bashing the opposition. The heavy guns will be trained on Obama and it will become imperative that we capture the raw hatred, and dare I say envy, that the delegates will manifest. Close-up shots and interviews with the meanest looking (and “largest”) delegates are strongly encouraged. If a delegate seems too restrained, pose well-phrased questions such as: “Are you bothered by the fact that Obama doesn’t look like the presidents on our paper money?” and “Do you think an Obama presidency will restore our image overseas?”
It is not our place, of course, to attribute the rabid hatred these delegates feel towards Obama to race. But viewers may be able to connect the dots if we intersperse our coverage with film clips of Bull Connor, old-time Alabama state troopers (preferably “large”), and the hosing and beating of black protesters in the early 1960s.
The past two Republican conventions have produced a not inconsiderable bounce for the GOP. This has given rise to plausible charges that our coverage has been slanted in favor of the Republicans. By following the principles set forth above, we can do our best to make sure that there is no bounce, and hence no bias in our coverage.
Many asked me if this was the real deal. I was skeptical because of the post title (“Minnesota dream”), and I did think that the tone was a bit extreme. However, so much of what comes from the Left has this extreme tone that wasn’t dispositive. Nor was the fact that a media figure was trying to undermine the Republican Convention. After Rathergate (“fake but accurate”), we have no reason to believe that the media won’t do its best to control the debate by inserting negativity towards Conservatives. Still, my feeling was “satire,” so I didn’t blog.
As it turned out, I was correct. Power Line’s Paul updated the post to assure us all that he wrote this from his imagination: “For those of you who didn’t read all the way to the Major League Soccer reference, this is something I made up as a joke. It does have the ring of truth, though, doesn’t it?” John added, though, that a lot of people took it very seriously.
And why shouldn’t they? Zhombre emailed me a link to a newspaper’s own blogspot — a genuine, not satirical, site — with a post that reads every bit as ridiculously as the above satire:
August 04, 2008
Lunch with Joe
Joe Lieberman is scheduled to swing through Tampa on Thursday for a John McCain fundraiser at the Avila estate of Mark and Christel Yaffe. The cost is $500 per person/couple for the noon event. And just because: The Yaffe’s 28,000-square-foot home is valued at $8-million, according to the property appraiser’s web site.
Stop me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any newspapers printing the size or fair market value of those homes hosting Obama fundraisers. When Obama lolled around with the rich in San Francisco, we didn’t get blow-by-blow details of their home’s furnishings and values. Indeed, that little visit made news only because Obama inadvertently revealed what he feels about the rest of us poor, embittered, God-loving fools.
So if the “real” news looks like that little squiblet, how in the world are we supposed to figure out something is fake when it sounds exactly the same?