Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A New First for Sarah Palin

Today, Sarah Palin managed to accomplish something that many us thought would never happen. She has managed to get MSNBC and the Fox News Channel to agree.

The Palin campaign was criticized from both the left and the right for barring reporters from her meetings with meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, and Former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger. Only photos and video were permitted, which as Fox’s Shushannah Walshe explained:

“This means that the Palin camp has the benefit of pictures of her shaking hands with world leaders and have that video broadcast all over the world, but there would be no risk of her having to answer even one question from a reporter at the beginning of the meetings. It is many television network’s policy, including Fox News Channel to not provide a camera if an editorial presence is not allowed in.”
Over at MSNBC, Matthew Berger reported that the campaign eventually relented and allowed a CNN pool producer to view the beginning of Palin's meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. According to Berger, members of the press were in the room for a total of 29 seconds.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Family Affair?

Near the end of Saturday’s Rutgers-Navy football game, Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel took a swing at one of his teammates. Afterward, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano and the players characterized the incident as "a family matter."

That’s all well and good. From all indications, it was an unfortunate incident that resulted from the frustration of losing a third consecutive game. But when an incident takes place in front of 37,000 people during a televised football game, it is a public matter.

Perhaps, the Scarlet Knights are taking lessons from politicians who use their families to score political points, but cry “foul” and “off-limits” when the press raises legitimate questions about those same family members.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

This photo (or variations of it) appeared in news reports about the nation’s economic crisis yesterday and today. It shows the officials who are working to address the problem - (from left) Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox.

As such, it is an accurate representation. But it also sends a different message to hundreds of thousands of Americans. Here we have four middle-aged white men in suits making decisions that will impact the nation for years to come. I have nothing against middle-aged white men; I’m one myself. But the nation is more diverse. African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans and women all are part of our culture.

These four people may in fact be the best four to deal with the current situation and it would be tokenism to diversify the group just for the sake of diversity. But there are gaps in our gaps in our nation. Large segments of the population feel a disconnect with government. And items such as this only make that gap a little wider.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Economy & the Race for Governor

This week’s economic developments have fueled speculation about how the nation’s faltering fiscal health will impact the 2008 presidential election. But looking further ahead to 2009, what does the fiscal crisis mean for New Jersey's next gubernatorial race? I made an attempt to answer this question in a piece I wrote for the Hall Institute this week: The Economic Crisis and the 2009 Campaign for Governor in New Jersey.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

Today's revelation that a computer hacker had broken into Sarah Palin's personal email account could have some interesting repercussions in New Jersey.

Supporters of the Republican vice-presidential candidate contend that this represents an invasion of privacy, but others have no problem with disclosure of the emails since several of them apparently were about official government business in Alaska. This latter argument sounds surprisingly similar to the case being made by New Jersey Republicans, who are in court attempting to have some of the Democratic governor's email made public.

If the Palin emails continue to be an issue, could the NJ Republicans back off their case -- at least until after election day -- for fear of sending conflicting messages to the public during what most likely will be an extremely clse presidential election?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Media Bias in the Political Process

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at Ocean County College’s Fall Colloquium on the topic media Media Bias in the Political Process. In my talk, I took the position that there is no widespread bias in the media today. However, I did outline what I perceive to be a series of major problems and issues confronting the news industry.

In light of all the charges and counter-charges we’ve heard about the media over the past few days, I thought a few words from the close of my speech might be relevant to the current discussion and hopefully of some value for guidance as we move forward with this year’s historic presidential campaign:

"We have more news outlets than ever. And no one is going to sort out the good, the bad and the ugly for you. To make intelligent, informed decisions, we need to be open to all viewpoints.

"One of the downsides about all the media outlets available today is that we can choose to never read, listen or view anything with which we disagree. If you lean to the right, you can get what you want from Fox News. Lean to the left and you’re likely to have much in common with MSNBC.

"When there were fewer news outlets than we have today, we had no choice but to be exposed to different perspectives and ideologies. Today, we have to make a conscious effort to do this.

"So I leave you with a challenge of sorts.

"Watch the news on a different station tonight. Or read a different newspaper tomorrow morning.

Visit the websites for the Columbia Journalism Review, the PEW Research Center or one of the other organizations regularly producing research, analyses and critiques of the news media.

"Or just watch a few episodes of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

"The bottom line is that there is more information available to us than ever before. Take advantage of it to make the best decisions you possibly can."