Cause — meet effect

Once again, a writer for the MSM leads with a sentence that implies that there is no causative relationship between two obviously related facts.  This from the San Francisco Chronicle:

California home sales surged last month even while prices plunged a record amount, as buyers snapped up bargains among the state’s hundreds of thousands of foreclosed and distressed properties, according to an industry trade group.

Had I written that sentence, it would have read as follows:

California home sales surged last month because prices have plunged a record amount….

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  • dg

    What is MSM and how do I get it from my cable company?!? But seriously, can we just say that such-and-such a reporter made an analytical mistake rather than trying to show that the mainstream media is biased or stupid? Haven’t people realized that when Fox News attacks the “mainstream media” (a stretch, given it’s own mainstream ratings), they are doing it so they can interject a Fox News commercial into the news matter? And those areas outside the mainstream, like talk radio (although, like Fox, the listeners are pretty numerous to be non-mainstream) or bloggers, seem to do far little fact checking to make fewer mistakes; and they have their own biases. Here’s a suggestion: since all media is biased and flawed, use a broad cross section of it to gain multiple viewpoints from differing ideologies and perspectives. And try to find sources that don’t have a financial interest in selling a particular viewpoint for ratings. For example, Jim Lehrer’s News Hour is repeatedly identified as the most ideologically neutral nightly newsprogram, and I believe it’s because they don’t have commercial-buying customers, ratings-focused managers or growth-watching Wall Street analysts to placate. They do the news the way it was done before the chinese wall between editorial and business turned it into info-tainment. That transition, more than the left-right bias, is what concerned citizens should be worried about. That, and the difference between cause and correlation…

  • Bookworm

    Quick response to your first point, dg, and then I have to run: I’m not inclined to attribute this to a single reporter’s error. This is a common reportorial logic error, and I note it whenever I see it — which is fairly often. James Taranto does too, highlighting these things at Best of the Web. Whether it’s ignorance of basic cause and effect, bias, stupidity, whatever, it happens too often to be someone’s mistake — especially when one considers that, while I write unedited, these reporters have someone checking their work.

  • dg

    Conflating causality with correlation is a classic logical fallacy, but so is confirmation bias. In arguing that the left-wing-biased MSM commits the first fallacy with greater frequency than right-wing-unbiased media, you are committing the second fallacy. There is too much evidence of bias on both sides for you, along with Taranto (whoever he is) to argue otherwise.

    BTW, check out to see a long list of logical fallacies. The list is so long, it’s no wonder that we ALL make them quite frequently. Even you, Bookworm.

  • dg

    By the way, Appeal to Authority is a logical fallacy as well, when the authority is false or itself biased. Taranto might qualify, given his WSJ affiliation (“buy our newspaper instead of the other guy’s biased yellow journalist’s rag…”) and his conservative ideology (from Wikipedia: “Most of Taranto’s commentary is politically oriented and conservative/neoliberal in perspective…”). You pointed out one fallacy in the MSM but committed two yourself in the process. Not fair, Bookworm, nor balanced at all…

  • Ymarsakar

    You know that if you demonstrate an ability to perceive logic and recognize causality, Book, that they would suspend your Leftist id card.

  • Gringo

    dg is also committing a logical fallacy: tu quoque. Instead of dealing with the example given, dg is saying, what about talk radio? What about Fox? Deal with the example given. That is what we are discussing. Or is dg afraid to?

    I also find it rather amusing for dg to bring up talk radio or Fox as I use neither for news sources.

    Another example of the tu quoque fallacy is from the Cold War. When the Soviet Union would be condemned for the millions it had killed in its gulags, the reply came back, what about blacks in the South?

    I wonder what dg’s response would be to others pointing out the numerous factual errors and various stupidities emanating from the mouth of Speaker of the House Pelosi.
    What about Dubya? What about Enron?

  • BrianE

    But seriously, can we just say that such-and-such a reporter made an analytical mistake rather than trying to show that the mainstream media is biased or stupid?

    Wow, that kind of analysis makes my head hurt! Prices fall, people buy– kind of like the blue light special at Kmart.
    I would have liked it better if he’d said “in spite of falling prices”.
    I vote for stupid.
    Oh, and I used to work as a reporter, so I know what I’m talking about.

  • dg

    Gringo, even I was smart enough to acknowledge the point, which is why I said the reporter was stupid. Sorry to make you think I was hiding the ball. Having dealt with the issue of the idiot reporter conflating causality with correlation, I speculated on how wrong it is to claim that the non-MSM would make that mistake or mistakes in general less frequently, since this was clearly Book’s implication. I picked talk radio and Fox News because they frequently criticize the so-called MSM for the same failings that Book does. I have no idea what you read, but if it’s not rigorously fact-checked, researched, peer reviewed and devoid of a dependency on ratings, it likely falls into the same trap as the rest of the popular media and must be supplemented.

    Now regarding that logical fallacy you accuse me of: If I believe that MSM and non-MSM are identical in their bias and mistakes, then how do you want me to describe it? If the US had killed 30 million blacks, then it would be right for the USSR to say, what about that? Correct? So how is it logically flawed to point out that the MSM-is-so-much-more-biased claim is BS? There are loads of studies (e.g., Hoover Institute study on media bias four years ago) that back me up. Stop changing the subject. Produce the evidence that Rush Limbau and Sean Hannity or whatever supposedly superior right-wing media that I’ve missed is less biased than the MSM.

  • BrianE

    Produce the evidence that Rush Limbau and Sean Hannity or whatever supposedly superior right-wing media that I’ve missed is less biased than the MSM.

    The difference is that those two don’t hide their conservative perspective. When I has in J school, Hunter Thompson was a big deal, advocacy journalism was the hot topic and the concept of objectivity was passé.
    Viewing the output of the neutral media, I’d say the advocacy group won.

    If I believe that MSM and non-MSM are identical in their bias and mistakes, then how do you want me to describe it?

    As opinion.

  • dg

    How about with statistics? To be more objective about it.

    What bothers me is that you think it is a virtue to show selection bias and only cite the evidence that bolsters your world view. This is a common human failing that leads to all sorts of trouble, including for journalists who are paid to inform and not just opine or (worse) entertain. For example, Hugo Chavez, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jingtao, Angela Merkel and others each believe that he or she is on the right path, although their paths are often completely at odds. Now, if you say to me that “America is the best country, so George Bush is the best leader on this list” and wave the flag a lot, I will tune you out and think you dim-witted. If you cite standards of living, economic statistics, empirical measures of personal freedom and the like, showing that the policies of the US and the policies of George Bush have produced more positive measurable results, then I will listen to you.

    Similar analysis can be done for journalists, and have been. A recent one I’ve seen from the Hoover Institute used statistics to study what authorities, think tanks, philosophers, etc. were referenced and at what frequency, poring over many months worth of transcripts; they then compared this to Congressional records to have a control. What they found was that Fox News, for example, is far more to the right than CNN is to the left–using the Congressional records to determine where the democratically elected “center” is. PBS news and NPR were closest to the center, while the big three were a little bit left of center. The economists that did this work are self-described Republicans and the Hoover Center, as you might know, is regarded as a conservative think thank. This adds force to the result, given that most of the complaints about the media come from the right. You can probably find the study with a Google search.

  • Ozzie

    What they found was that Fox News, for example, is far more to the right than CNN is to the left–using the Congressional records to determine where the democratically elected “center” is. PBS news and NPR were closest to the center, while the big three were a little bit left of center- dg

    This reminds me of the study that was conducted by the University of Maryland in 2003, which showed that FOX News’ audience held the most misconcentions about the war in Iraq, while those who relied in PBS and NPR were the most informed.

    I remember trying to talk to people way back then, who would tell me that the only people who were against the war were liberals, which was decidely untrue.

    If you cited PBS or NPR to make a point, that cemented it in their mind: you were some sort of Commie. And when that statue of Saddam fell in April, 2003, that was proof enough that they were right and naysayers were wrong, even though a study of the photo showed that that moment was as staged as Bush’s aircraft carrier landing.

    I’m admittedly pessimistic about the future. But mostly because people only read and watch the news they agree with, and dont want to hear any truth that brings discomfort.

    Bill Clinton says a lot of stupid, self-serving things, but he said one thing I agree with: “When people feel uncertain, they’d rather have someone who is strong and wrong, than someone who is weak and right.”

    For some people, “Strong and wrong” is still a virtue.

    God help us all.

  • dg

    Ozzie, I completely agree. I also find it funny how when you start to cite numbers and statistics, that unequivocally prove someone wrong, they simply stop talking, listening, discussing. The great thing about science instead of social science, religion and other less precise disciplines is that you can prove someone wrong and they cannot acquit themselves with rhetorical flourish. I would have thought that the growing prevalence of science and statistics in our daily lives and work would cause people to be wrong less often and stop holding clearly erroneous views. Instead, they cling to their wrong-headed views and shout louder to drown the evidence out. This is a symptom of ideologues on the right and the left, and it’d be really funny if it weren’t so sad.

  • BrianE

    How about with statistics? To be more objective about it.

    OK, I’m waiting…
    How about a link to the Hoover study.

    Ozzie, that story on Carpetbagger, linked a study that has been taken down. No research, no questions (the devil is in the details), nothing to back up the claims.

    So far, dg, what I’ve seen from you is one long, long, opinion, masquerading as opinion.

  • Ozzie

    Ozzie, that story on Carpetbagger, linked a study that has been taken down. No research, no questions (the devil is in the details), nothing to back up the claims.- Brian.

    It worked fine for me, Here:

    October 6, 2003
    Study shows Fox News viewers misinformed about war, Iraq, WMD
    Posted October 6th, 2003 at 11:43 am

    I have naively believed for years that staying informed about current events by getting some news is better than blissful ignorance derived from getting no news. Then Fox News Channel helped demonstrate just how wrong I was.

    The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland conducted a thorough study of public knowledge and attitudes about current events and the war on terrorism. Researchers found that the public’s mistaken impressions of three facets of U.S. foreign policy — discovery of alleged WMD in Iraq, alleged Iraqi involvement in 9/11, and international support for a U.S. invasion of Iraq — helped fuel support for the war.

    While the PIPA study concluded that most Americans (over 60%) held at least one of these mistaken impressions, the researchers also concluded that Americans’ opinions were shaped in large part by which news outlet they relied upon to receive their information.

    As the researchers explained in their report, “The extent of Americans’ misperceptions vary significantly depending on their source of news. Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who receive most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing the demographic subgroups of each audience.”

    Almost shocking was the extent to which Fox News viewers were mistaken. Those who relied on the conservative network for news, PIPA reported, were “three times more likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions. In the audience for NPR/PBS, however, there was an overwhelming majority who did not have any of the three misperceptions, and hardly any had all three.”

    Looking at the misperceptions one at a time, people were asked, for example, if the U.S. had discovered the alleged stockpiles of WMD in Iraq since the war began. Just 11% of those who relied on newspapers as their “primary news source” incorrectly believed that U.S. forces had made such a discovery. Only slightly more — 17% — of those who relied on NPR and PBS were wrong. Yet 33% of Fox News viewers were wrong, far ahead of those who relied on any other outlet.

    Likewise, when people were asked if the U.S. had “clear evidence” that Saddam Hussein was “working closely with al Queda,” similar results were found. Only 16% of NPR and PBS listeners/viewers believed that the U.S. has such evidence, while 67% of Fox News viewers were under that mistaken impression.

    Overall, 80 percent of those who relied on Fox News as their primary news source believed at least one of the three misperceptions. Viewers/listeners/readers of other news outlets didn’t even come close to this total.

    In other words, Fox News viewers are literally less informed about these basic facts. They have, put simply, been led to believe things that are simply not true. These poor dupes would have done better in this survey, statistically speaking, if they received no news at all and simply guessed whether the claims were accurate.

    And, in addition to a fun bash-Fox-athon, I wanted to add that the PIPA study also documented that those who relied on newspapers as their primary news source were better informed than those who watched any of the television news broadcasts. The only folks more informed than newspaper readers were NPR listeners.

  • dg

    BrianE, you just produced a second study saying the same thing (although NPR does appear more lefty in the study you cite). Do you doubt the Hoover Study even though it largely confirms your own? I just tried to find it on Google, but can’t find it. I’ll try to find a link, assuming it’s still active and on a public/open site.

  • Ozzie

    Instead, they cling to their wrong-headed views and shout louder to drown the evidence out. — dg

    Remember during the drive to war? When TV stations hurled out “Countdown to Iraq” and “War With Saddam” banners and drummed out — or mocked — any and alll dissent? (My favorite was the NBC-Commissioned report that spoke of the need to get rid of “tired, left-wing liberal” Phil Donahue who was “out of touch with the current marketplace” and seemed “to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that [their] competitors [were] waving the flag at every opportunity.”.

    I stumbled up a wonderful passage from Mark Twain, proving that while statistics are wonderful. sometimes literature makes the point as well::

    “The loud little handful–as usual–will shout for the war. The pulpit will– warily and cautiously–object–at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.” Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers–as earlier– but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation–pulpit and all– will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

  • dg

    Great Twain quote, but I’ll stick with the damn lies–I mean, statistics. There are fewer degrees of freedom for error.

  • Ymarsakar

    Do you doubt the Hoover Study even though it largely confirms your own?

    When does someone asking to see your sources mean that they think you are misrepresenting data?

  • Ymarsakar

    dg is also committing a logical fallacy: tu quoque. Instead of dealing with the example given, dg is saying, what about talk radio? What about Fox? Deal with the example given. That is what we are discussing. Or is dg afraid to?

    He does that all the time on China’s issues. It’s nothing new, or commendable.

  • Ymarsakar

    Dg, you don’t know what logical fallacies are. You don’t even know what logical axioms are and what they imply in terms of what can be derived from them. How then, can you claim to know what logic is being misused?

  • Ymarsakar

    What is MSM and how do I get it from my cable company?!? But seriously, can we just say that such-and-such a reporter made an analytical mistake rather than trying to show that the mainstream media is biased or stupid?

    When you try to change the subject and fast talk your way through, instead of actually defending the main sewer media (hope you knew that when people like us use MSM, we don’t mean mainstream anything), what exactly do you think you are accomplishing here, dg?

    Can we just say that you are changing the subject because you don’t want to talk about the factual errors Book has referenced? Or is that too logical.

  • BrianE

    I was looking for the methodology and questions, which have been removed.
    I’m not particularly surprised, since the article you cite is from October 2003.

    And dg, I would like the link.

    An objective analysis of whether a person is biased in their presentation of events would be incredibly difficult to prove at best, and subject to attack. To apply that to an industry– trying to equate bias in print and electronic media is even harder.

    For example, if i said “George Bush is a genius”, that would be credited as a positive response for conservative bias. Depending on inflection, body language, setting, etc. it might actually be quite negative.

    I’ll stipulate that the many in the media are lemmings, chasing a story to remain part of the “club”. I see bias, as do most Americans– liberal in leaning, but I can’t prove it, and you see it differently.

    My reasons: Journalists vote for liberals; journalists say they are liberal; journalists deny they are biased; the public believes they are biased. I was trained as a journalist to recognize my bias and remain neutral in my reporting. Was I always neutral? Unfortunately not. Did I sometimes write a story to impress my reporter friends? Guilty.

    When liberals complain about the conservative nature of the news, they often cite the editorial page– which was traditionally controlled by the publisher or executive editor (and represented a business point of view). Reporters on the other hand, are typically liberal. But even the editorial page has moved left, though not necessarily as left as the reporter.

    Certainly not proof, but that was my experience.

    Here’s the methodology used in the UCLA study in a nutshell:
    “Groseclose and Milyo based their research on a standard gauge of a lawmaker’s support for liberal causes. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) tracks the percentage of times that each lawmaker votes on the liberal side of an issue. Based on these votes, the ADA assigns a numerical score to each lawmaker, where “100” is the most liberal and “0” is the most conservative. After adjustments to compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low-population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia, the average ADA score in Congress (50.1) was assumed to represent the political position of the average U.S. voter.

    Groseclose and Milyo then directed 21 research assistants – most of them college students – to scour U.S. media coverage of the past 10 years. They tallied the number of times each media outlet referred to think tanks and policy groups, such as the left-leaning NAACP or the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

    Next, they did the same exercise with speeches of U.S. lawmakers. If a media outlet displayed a citation pattern similar to that of a lawmaker, then Groseclose and Milyo’s method assigned both a similar ADA score.”

  • Mike Devx

    The study in question dealt solely with misperceptions about Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

    “Asked “Has the US found clear evidence Saddam Hussein was working closely with al-Qaeda”? 68 percent of Bush supporters replied affirmatively. By contrast, two of every three Democrat-backers said no.”

    It really is troubling that 68 % of Bush supporters in 2004 thought that the USA had found *clear* evidence of such a *working closely*. Sigh. But there you have it.

    This is a problem with Bush partisans, not with Fox news. Most Bush partisans gravitate to Fox. This does not make Fox “neoconservative”. Since the vast majority of the MSM has a strong liberal bias, it may in fact only mean that Fox is neutral to slightly leaning right. (And yes I do hear our liberal commentators howling with laughter at that, but, oh well.)

    I find the study ludicrous when it states that NBC/MSNBC are non-partisan – in one summary that I read. That is really quite humorous and precious.

  • dg

    Ymarsakar, I am not defending the mainstream media, nor did I ever seek to defend that journalist with the SF Chronicle or whatever paper it was. I am stating that all media is equally likely to be biased and make errors. To prove this, one must also show that Fox News, purportedly not-MSM, is also biased and also makes errors. That is what the Hoover Study shows. I am sorry I cannot find it anymore, but it says the same thing that BrianE’s study did, more or less. Is it clear now? Or am I still changing the subject.

    On China, I was not defending China’s behavior in quashing dissent, but pointing out that there is a lot of good coming out of its development that is not being acknowledged when people call that development “rotten”, and there is too much economic growth for the country to be “totalitarian”. How is that changing the topic? It is rebutting the charge. You can criticize the political climate all you want, but you cannot call its economy “rotten” or “totalitarian” when it clearly is not. Why is that changing the topic?

    I didn’t write that long list of logical fallacies. A professor of logic and philosophy at California State University did. I just try as best I can to avoid them, and ask others to do the same. I never said I always managed to do that, and I hope that you wouldn’t either…

  • dg

    BrianE, I understand and would like to find it. When I do, I promise to post. From what I remember the methodology is as follows:

    1. define the political spectrum of Americans by ranking senators and reps on a scale of 1-100 using an ideological scale (I think there are a few services that do this to determine who the “most liberal” or “most conservative” Congressman is)

    2. catalogue the think-tanks and other authorities producing studies and other sources used and referenced in Congressional speeches and preambles to legislation, and map the frequency of each Congressman’s citations of these against their ideology score; thus, you transfer the ideological ranking to the authorities cited, under the assumption that people cite what they agree with

    3. catalogue the number of times these authorities are cited to bolster argument and opinion or interviewed in the media, noting positive or negative coverage; thus, you transfer the ideological ranking to the media outlet, under a similar assumption of citation proclivities

    4. compare the media ideology score to the mean of Congress (i.e., the center of the American political spectrum) to see if it is “left” or “right” and how far in either direction

    Obviously, there is a lot more detail that I may or may not have read, much less remembered when I looked at this report 3 or 4 years ago.

    I hope that helps. As a journalist you likely have better insights into the difficulty of constructing the study. That said, a second study confirming the first would seem to bolster its credibility.

  • dg

    Mike Devx, in the study I saw, Fox was more to the right than CNN was to the left, but ABC News was farther to the left than Fox was to the right. It’s hard to call any network neo-conservative since there are lots of different conservatives and even some liberals on their network. The one thing that Fox is doing now that is bothersome, and I haven’t seen on CNN (although I might have simply missed it) is that they bring Karl Rove on as an analyst although he is advising the McCain campaign. They introduce the Republican pollster Lutz as an independent pollster. They have run video footage or talking points from the White House unedited, but do not say so. In every case the benefit is to the Bush Administration or the Republican in question. It’s as bad as the Jordan plagiarism scandal at the NYT or the CNN move to edit out the Tibetans hurling stones at Chinese soldiers to make Tibetans look more innocent. I don’t know why they keep chanting the fair and balanced mantra–it’s more marketing than methodology.

  • Bookworm

    Fox is straightforward about its rightwardness. The other networks pretend to some Olympian objectivity. I’m fine with bias, as long as its spelled out.

  • dg

    Bookworm, you cannot be serious. Fox has a ubiquitous tagline calling itself Fair and Balanced. How is that being straightforward? Or did they change it to We’re Right because We’re Right since I watched it this evening?

    I just mentioned how they hid the ball by pretending to cover a story regarding the Bush administration, implying fact-checking, when all they did was act as a propaganda mouthpiece for a governmental body. I don’t know who specifically pretended to objectivity at the other networks, but even if they did, it would not exonerrate Fox for the fraudulence of its own network.

    By the way, did Sean Hannity kill Michael Dukakis tonight or what? I mean, I thought he was a vacuous pundit, but he completely knocked out a former governor/Harvard lecturer. It was ugly.

  • dg

    Bookworm, the other potential problem with what you are saying is that it’s ok to be misinformed/under-informed as long as you know you’re being misinformed/under-informed. A right-leaning media outlet will not cover the negative aspects of the Bush Administration, leaving you without a complete set of fact with which to judge it. Mike Devx earlier pointed out how completely misinformed Republicans were about the terrorists-Iraq link in the run up to the war. Fox News was partly to blame. According to your theory, people should be able to remain misinformed. I worry about that in a democracy of one-person-one-vote. We construct our court/legal system as an adversarial one, as opposed to the judge-driven systems in Europe and East Asia, believing that no single source of discovery is better than multiple ones that are at odds. The media is the same way. You cannot be informed if you only watch Fox. Conservatives shouldn’t attack the left wing media and I should go easier on Fox (which I do watch often), because they are two necessary, indivisible sides of the real story we all need to hear.

  • Bookworm

    The fact that Dukakis went to Harvard and was a governor does not remove the possibility that he is an idiot. Nor, of course, does it automatically mean that he is an idiot. If you’re assuming the Harvard degree confers on him some mental of intelligence or insight, you’re committing even worse logical fallacies than those you accuse the rest of us of committing.

  • dg

    The position, not the degree, although both are correlated with intelligence (which is why P&G and Goldman go to Harvard rather than Slippery Rock College to find smart hires.) For the record, he is or was a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government at the INstitute of Politics. I would venture that as an expert on politics at one of the top public policy schools in America, he ought to have more insight. I also bet the average IQ of a Harvard professor is above 100. I don’t have the data, so it is an assumption, but probably a good one. Like assuming the sun won’t blow up tonight rather than coming up tomorrow–it’s possible, but highly unlikely.

    Which is why his breathtaking lack of knowledge or specifics on Obama’s policies is so surprising. Kind of like a lawyer not being able to state the issue in Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education. I found it surprising, anyway.

    Of course, it now seems that the anti-communists on a conservative blog would have me believe that we’re all equally smart too…

  • dg

    That he was a governor doesn’t prove much of anything. We’ve had some pretty dumb governors.

  • Bookworm

    Long-time readers know that, as a lawyer, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of working with and against a disproportionate number of utterly incompetent Harvard law grads. I am, as a result, deeply suspicious of that Harvard degree (which is not a suspicion that crosses over to the other Ivy Leagues). In any event, life experience has taught me well that a high-ish IQ and some academic chops often matters only within the halls of academia. Once outside, you need to add in common sense, the ability to learn from errors and observations, and a certain amount of humility (among other things), qualities that seem to be in short supply amongst many Harvard grads — Dukakis included.

  • Ozzie

    This is a problem with Bush partisans, not with Fox news — Mike

    Scott McClellan admitted that the White House delivers talking points to FOX commentators. I don’t think he’s lying, particularly after reading agenda-setting memos by FOX’s head honchos.

    “I find the study ludicrous when it states that NBC/MSNBC are non-partisan – in one summary that I read. ” – Mike

    The leaked memo I posted earler shows that MSNBC was biased towards “the current marketplace” and against the “liberal anti-war agenda.”

    That’s all changed now that being anti-war and anti-Bush is in vogue, showing, (in my eyes anyway), that MSNBC is mostly biased towards what’s going to land them the most viewers and make the most money.

    But then again, most American TV stations marginalized anyone who spoke out against the Bush administration’s claims, if they acknowledged them at all. CNN was especially brutal to Scott Ritter who was one of the only doubting souls seen or heard on TV, where pundits accused him of being “misguided,” “disloyal” and “an apologist for and a defender of Saddam Hussein.” (Paula Zahn explained that people believed Ritter had “drunk Saddam Hussein’s Kool-Aid,” while Kyra Phillips suggested that Ritter had been bought and paid for by Iraq).

    Meanshile, MSNBC’s Curtis Sliwa compared him to “a sock puppet” who “oughta turn in his passport for an Iraqi one.”

    Luckily, papers in England, Australia and Canada, as well as alternative outlets in the U.S., provied a venue for former CIA officials and defense anylsts who were stymied in their effors to correct inacuracies and speak the truth.

    I learned to distrust the mainstream media during the build up to war, after learning that I could only find the TRUTH from other sources.

    And, as I said, thanks to Judith Miller, the front page of the New York Times was used to spread disinformation to help make the case for war.

    But then again, the same thing occured during the build-up to the first Gulf War, when U.S. media outlets delivered lies and propaganda to citizens who often believe that the media is telling them the truth.

  • Ozzie

    see bias, as do most Americans– liberal in leaning, but I can’t prove it, and you see it differently.- Brian

    What I believe is that when there is an agenda — such as during the push to war — the U.S media falls in line, disregards the truth, and demonizes anyone trying to tell the truth.

    This has been especially true since the first Gulf War, a case that was made, on the eve of the current war, by the Christian Science Monitor:

  • suek

    Ok Ozzie…

    So what’s your solution?

  • Ozzie

    “I see bias, as do most Americans– liberal in leaning, but I can’t prove it, and you see it differently.” – Brian

    I don’t focus on liberal vs conservative bias, Brian, because I dont care about that. I care about who’s telling the truth.

    I suspect, however, that (with the exception of Fox pundits and talk radio which is overwhelmingly conservative), most individual reporters tend to lean left, while most media outlets tend to lean towards whatever guarantees ratings and profits.

    But, just to challenge your theory, I have read studies that suggest that Al Gore was treated unfairly by the media during the 2000 election, while George Bush was depicted as the guy you’d like to have a beer with.

    For example, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Committee of Concerned Journalists, forty-two percent of the media’s coverage of Al Gore related to how deeply he was tainted by scandal, another thirty-four percent focused on his alleged fibs, while only 14 percent of news coverage addressed his experience. Meanwhile, forty percent of Bush-related news stories focused on positive portrayals of the Texas governor as a “different kind of Republican.”

  • Ozzie

    Ok Ozzie…

    So what’s your solution?- suek

    The solution would be a better educated populace, suek, so that when the media is spoonfeeding us garbage, we know better than to swallow.

    Will that happen? I’m pessimistic.

    Most people don’t have the time nor the inclination to read several newspapers (including those from other countries) and compare and contrast to try to get at the truth. Then again, the truth often doesn’t emerge until after the fact

    Personally, I try to avoid TV “news shows” and talk radio pundits, and I try to read as many sources as possible. I still have a hard time discerning who’s telling the truth, though it’s prety easy to read through those who are concerned that thier “political team” wins.

    For the most part, those who seem to be motivated out of a concern for the truth (as I believe people like Karen Kwiatkowski and Vincent Cannistraro were), are the ones who hold my attention.

  • dg

    Ozzie, good point on Gore’s fibs. Gore actually did not say he invented the internet, but said he provided funding to its DOD precursor Darpanet. Then the RNC put out a fax to all of the networks with quotes taken out of context claiming that he did, created a huge fake controversy around “Gore the pathological liar” and froze a discussion on the issues. What Suek and others do not understand is that they are willing stooges in this game of political misdirection, just as the liberal bloggers I take to task on Kos and elsewhere are when the DNC plays the same game (I mean, who cares how many houses McCain had–it didn’t prevent Thomas Jefferson from being a great President). People think that these are discussions of importance because they don’t know what is important. Or maybe they do, and just don’t care if that the opponent is vanquished in a dishonest way. I think it is corrosive to democracy, like the New England Patriot’s cheating was corrosive to the NFL.

  • suek

    Truth is an interesting concept. What do you do with it when you get it? sometimes it takes a _long_ time for “truth” to surface, and actions need to be taken in the present.

    You’ve used referenced to a number of books which you rely on for “truth” – but what gives you assurance that the writers of those books are any more reliable than those who write in the present? An example is Pat Buchanan and his book on WWII – that it was unnecessary ( name of which I don’t remember). Book pointed out that he was an anti-semite and it showed in his book. I had seen interviews about the book, and saw no indication that Book was correct in her assessment. On checking her links, however, and looking a bit further, she was correct. But his book is out there, and contains about 90% verifiably correct information. It’s that missing 10% that misleads.

    Do you have specific principles that you adhere to when you make judgements about the material you read? I haven’t been able to discern any…

  • Ozzie

    You’ve used referenced to a number of books which you rely on for “truth” – but what gives you assurance that the writers of those books are any more reliable than those who write in the present?- suek

    CIA covert actions remain declassified for quite some time. And you can’t be sure the US was involved with any of them until files become declassifed.

    For YEARS the CIA denied involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile, until declassifed documents proved otherwise.

    Every human being has a point of view. That can’t be avoided. You can however, investigate what the U.S did in Iran, Iraq, Chile, etc., but, in most cases, ony decades after the fact.

    Most Americans dont realize that Osama bin aden and Saddam Hussein were once CIA assets. And you’re not going to hear about any of it on the nightly news.

  • Ozzie

    I think it is corrosive to democracy. – dg

    It is totally corrosive.

    One of the fienst moments in modern television was when Jon Stewart told the hacks at “Crossfire” to “Stop Hurting America.”

    Hackery rules the day, however, and seems to be getting worse.

    During the military action in Kosovo, screenwriter and Yugoslavia native Steve Tesich addressed this trend in a letter to the New York Times.

    Money quote:

    “Events in the world are no longer judged by hard evidence or impartiality to the true causes which gave rise to them. Even the normal journalistic standards of trying, merely trying, to get the whole story have been discarded as too cumbersome, too demanding. What has replaced the tradition of truth seeking, both philosophical and factual, is a kind of lazy drama critic’s response to the events on the world stage. In this new way of doing things, events themselves have no intrinsic value in determining who is right or who is wrong, who is guilty or who is innocent. It’s all much simpler than that. It’s all a matter of who in our opinion seems right. Who moves us.”

  • dg

    Tesich is a genius. A modern day Pushkin.

  • dg

    Suek, show me the evidence that Buchanan is an anti-Semite, then explain how that fact negates the factual accuracy of the other 90% you cite. Wagner was an anti-semite, but composed some amazing works of art. But we shouldn’t listen to them, should we…

  • Ozzie

    Tesich is a genius. A modern day Pushkin- dg

    He saw it coming, that’s for sure.

    Some of the points he made, back in in 1993:

    “In the age of opinions the man of facts is seen as inconvenient at best or even as potentially a sinister figure.”

    “What keeps us from wanting to know the truth? Has it become too hard for us to keep it in focus? Is it much easier to simply divide the world in our minds, as we once divided it in fact, into ths simplistic notions of good guys and bad guys? ”

    “What Hanna Arendt never envisioned is that you can have a totalitarian atmosphere without totalitarian regimes where truth, philosophical and factual, is no longer suppressed but simply doesn’t matter anymore.”

  • dg

    Wow. I’d sit at his feet and listen to him preach anytime. Thanks for that, Ozzie.

  • Ozzie

    Wow. I’d sit at his feet and listen to him preach anytime. Thanks for that, Ozzie.- dg

    Sadly, he died of a heart attack at age 53.

    We was an idealist and a firm believer in the American dream, and his movie “Four Friends” underscored his love affair with this country. He won the Oscar for “Breaking Away,” which was listed by the American Film Institute as one of the most inspirational movies of all time.

    His idealism was cut short, however, during the first Gulf War when he saw through the propagnda and lies. The propaganda re Yugoslavia filled him with rage, as did the media’s refusal to print his pieces, which refuted those lies.

    I stumbled across his writing by accident, though I was a fan of his films.

    If I read him in 1993, I would have thought he was bonky. But Gulf War II propaganda – and the vilification of truth-tellers — made me appreciate him all the more.

  • Ozzie

    Truth is an interesting concept. What do you do with it when you get it- suek

    You dont allow youself to be duped.

    A favorite quote:

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”– Voltaire

  • dg

    Bookworm, do you think that your blogging shows more humility and a greater ability to learn from mistakes than those displayed by Harvard grads? By the way, which Harvard grads? My guess is that physics PhDs are just a little bit different than the HBS MBAs, and both are different than the HLS grads. But you’re the expert on the entire Harvard University (including Dukakis’ Kennedy School of government), having worked with a “disproportionate” number of “incompetent” Harvard Law School grads…

  • dg

    BTW Bookworm, at what law school did you study that you would know how Harvard University’s graduates compare to other ivy grads?