Help Elisabeth Bumiller Uphold the Standards of Our Profession

Bloggers, I mean journalists, received some great news today. It would appear that we now have the same FEC exemptions as other media outlets:This morning, the Federal Election Commission unanimously approved Advisory Opinion 2005-16, agreeing that the Fired Up! sites were entitled to the same press exception from campaign finance laws as are the New York Times, National Review and Sean Hannity.

You can read the opinion via this PDF link, and our official comments on that draft over here. (...)

In addition, as part of its written request, Fired Up! noted that its sites would "endorse, expressly advocate, and urge readers to donate funds to the election of Democratic candidates for federal state, and local office." The FEC did not challenge this aspect of Fired Up's activities.

What This Means: Under the Commission's rules, "any person involved in a specific activity 'indistinguishable in all its material aspects'" from Fired Up! can rely upon this ruling unless Congress acts otherwise, and you can imagine what sites might feel better-protected today. Any such site engaged in news, commentary and editorial can continue in such activities without fear of falling into FEC filing requirements turning groups into political committees or incorporated sites into outlaws.

Great! I guess I am a journalist now. I suppose many of you all are journalists now too. While I am new to the profession, I intend to uphold its professional standards with the utmost care and respect. Also, I hope you will join me as I work to assist my journalist colleagues to do the same.

As our first such act, I think we should lend a helping hand to Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. Now, from what I understand, it is generally understood that part of responsible journalism is making sure that you report both sides of the story. However, in her story about Cheney's speech yesterday, she failed to do that:

Mr. Cheney, who was the administration's toughest, most persistent advocate for the war in Iraq, depicted the senators as hypocrites swayed by antiwar sentiment and their own political ambitions.

"Some of the most irresponsible comments have, of course, come from politicians who actually voted in favor of authorizing force against Saddam Hussein," Mr. Cheney told the group, Frontiers of Freedom, at the Mayflower Hotel. "What we're hearing now is some politicians contradicting their own statements and making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war."

The Republican National Committee simultaneously posted on its Web site comments from important Democrats who in the past had warned of the threat of Mr. Hussein.

Among them was the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who was quoted on the Web site as saying on CNN in 2002 that "Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community, and I think that the president is approaching this in the right fashion."

Now, perhaps she was confused here. While she quoted from a Democratic Senator, she did so by taking the quote from the RNC website. Maybe she thought that Republicans supplying her with Democratic quotes was sufficient when it came to actually interviewing Democrats about Cheney's speech. However, any honest person would have to admit that what Bumiller did was not exactly "getting both sides of the story." She should have actually asked a Democrat what they thought of Cheney's speech.

Now, since we have become journalists, I think it would be only fair to ask Bumiller herself why she didn't interview any Democrats about the speech, and why she quoted directly from a Republican website in her article. That way, we get practice being responsible journalists, and Bumiller learns a valuable lesson about doing proper research before publishing.

You can email her at bumiller@nytimes.com. Please do so. Please do so several times if you have to. As long as it takes until she starts upholding the standards of our shared profession.

Again, her email is bumiller@nytimes.com

Tags: Media (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

emailing Bumiller
I was so happy to do this, only to get this bounce error (I guess her Blackberry is maxed out)

The original message was received at Thu, 17 Nov 2005 23:18:06 GMT from mx18.bwc.prod.on.blackberry [172.16.132.38]

   ----- The following addresses had permanent delivery errors ----- <vzw-bumiller@imap124.bwc.na.blackberry.net>

by timraines 2005-11-17 01:19PM | 0 recs
meet a real journalist
Helen Thomas at the Northern Virginia Democratic Business Council

OK, more than slightly off topic

but could not resist.

by Alice Marshall 2005-11-17 01:34PM | 0 recs
Welcome, Journalists!
Great! I guess I am a journalist now. I suppose many of you all are journalists now too.
Well, welcome, y'all. I guess it's now official that there's no difference between any of us.

After many years of activisim, and writing things for newletters and such, I published my first Op-Ed 11 years ago. But it was an advocacy piece for an issue was working on (a rare-for-me stint as a paid staffer), so I guess that doesn't count. But my second one, a few weeks later, was about proportional representation, and was less about something I was working on, more about something I care about, and something timely--appearing just before an election. I wrote a couple hundred book reviews, and a few scattered reports on events before getting a staff job at Random Lengths News in early 2002.  

Through all of this, I have never adhered to the notion of detached objectivity.  For it is a myth.  I have always seen it as my role as that of an advocate. Doing this honestly entails a respect for the facts, of course. But I am writing in an environment dominated by business interests, and others who point of view is so omnipresent it has the false appearance of "objectivity," being "just the way things are." It's my job to pierce that illusion--that is how I contribute to the reality-based project.

By all means, those who pretend adherence to the myth of objectivity need to be held to their own standards. But do not think for a minute that we must necessariy adopt those standards as our own, or else abandon ourselves to the outer darkness where Fox News and dittoheads dwell.  The 19th Century was dominated by a partisan press in America, and Europe still is today. Does anyone doubt that Europeans have a truer, more comprehensive view of the world than we do?  Not perfect, not by a long shot, but much freer of single-viewpoint dogmatism.

So, now that we're all officially journalists together, maybe we should talk more often and in more depth about the different sorts of standards and/or models we can follow that will actually produce the intended effect--a well informed, political engaged community, actively involved in self-government.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-11-17 01:52PM | 0 recs
public editor
Chris,

You might want to provide the email address for the public editor/ombudsman at the NYT.  That might do more good than writing Bumiller herself.
She's hopeless.

by global yokel 2005-11-17 02:03PM | 0 recs
what was that email address again?
Oh yeah bumiller@nytimes.com.

seriously...it is really interesting to me to be considered a journalist.  i grew up listening to my uncle rail on about the obligation of journalists to act in the public interest.  with this wave of blogging he has found a way to hold people accountable and open up the two way channels between journalists and their audience and critics.  now, i find myself working to uphold those ideals he so clearly laid out. just like being badgered around the turkey at thanksgiving, i must be able to defend anything that i have to say.  not just to one questioning listener, but to whomever finds there way to my writings.  by having an open dialogue you foster community and civic engagement.  that for me is the real power of the blog.

Bumiller should have paid more attention to her idealistic professors in J school.  she owes her audience more than she has shown.

by juls 2005-11-17 02:41PM | 0 recs
Not a Journalist here
I prefer creative writer who is a journalist watchdog. Somebody has to keep them honest. If bloggers start seeing themselves as journalists, it's only a matter of time before we get invited to DC cocktail parties, then start misquoting Republicans, turning a blind eye to Democratic corruption, report on what other bloggers think of things instead what is actually happening, get our own cable news shows where we shout our Democratic talking points at one another in 30 seconds or less, then become willing dupes in helping a Democratic president take the country into a war of choice.

Nope. I'll have no part of that. I'm a blogger. I have some standards.

by michael in chicago 2005-11-17 03:24PM | 0 recs
worst Journalist this side of Judy Miller
Bumiller is the proto-typical example of what is wrong with the media today.  They are stenographers whose only goal it to seek balance rather than the facts. I have given up reading the Times for about 3 months now, and I no less informed...actually I am better informed.
by DaveB 2005-11-17 03:42PM | 0 recs
Speaking as a journalist
I would like to uphold the same journalistic standards followed by Bumiller and O'Reilly with this fair and balanced report:

The viscous, shit-smelling goo that forms the life ooze of netherworld evil that pollutes the soil of the earth once again shifted itself into the shape of Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday when it opened its horrible maw and spat forth at the Ronald Reagan Gala of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute.

                                     .  .  .

And when it was over, Cheney was whisked away where he could give off his shape, melt back into the pool of vile, gelatinous savagery that is his true form, and be stored away until he is needed again.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-17 03:43PM | 0 recs
I got a reply
For what it's worth, here's what she wrote to me:

"Thank you for your email.

I did include a response in my article from Senator Kerry that was cut for space, but I insisted that a lengthy paragraph on what the vice
president left out of his remarks be included, and it was -- specifically, that he did not address the question of how the administration used the pre-war intelligence.That paragraph also contains a sentence about how many Democrats now believe that the White House misled them about the
pre-war intelligence and distorted its conclusions.

I welcome your comments, and I know that you didn't direct them at me because I am another woman reporter for the New York Times covering the
Bush administration. At least I hope not.

Many thanks for your interest.

Sincerely,
Elisabeth Bumiller

by Omark 2005-11-17 04:28PM | 0 recs
this month I don't want to be called
a journalist, not with Miller and Woodward in the profession
by Tom Kertes 2005-11-17 04:33PM | 0 recs
asdf
Her last paragraph was the best but I emailed her saying I would have liked to hear a democratic response. And there was a lot of noise even when this 'intelligence' was being put out about pressure and an agenda-driven interpretation.

The administration, however, had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did. The administration also left unaddressed the question of how it had used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradictions. Many Democrats now say they believe they had been misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence.

 

by 2liberal 2005-11-17 05:14PM | 0 recs
Bumiller's Lever
Bumiller works for a bureaucracy.  As anyone who has ever worked in a bureaucracy knows, the individual to move in a confrontation is the resister's boss and not the resister.

Omark on Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 09:28:39 PM EDT indicated:
"...I did include a response in my article from Senator Kerry that was cut for space, but I insisted that a lengthy paragraph on what the vice president left out of his remarks be included, and it was -- specifically, that he did not address the question of how the administration used the pre-war intelligence.That paragraph also contains a  entence about how many Democrats now believe that the White House misled them about the pre-war intelligence and distorted its conclusions."

This shows that Bumiller is trying to pass the buck on responsibility, classic bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo.  She doesn't note that the retained graf was buried where no one would read it.

peter jung on Thu Nov 17th, 2005 at 07:03:21 PM EDT  goes on to observe:
"You might want to provide the email address for the public editor/ombudsman at the NYT.  That might do more good than writing Bumiller herself.
She's hopeless."

We might do better to also get the email address for the publisher and the managing editors.  They need to know directly the righteous wrath of the public they are filtering through the public editor, who is, let's face it, nothing but a sop by Keller to get the public to shut up.  No, he and his peers need to have their mailboxes inundated with unfiltered and unpolished commentary.

Bumiller is hopeless.  She also needs to be fired, like Judy Miller was.  She is no longer a journalist.  

by VizierVic 2005-11-18 02:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Good Article
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by posco 2006-04-26 10:30AM | 0 recs

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