"A Vote for Lieberman is a vote for more war...."

The Fix has an interesting catch from a Gallup survey.

So, a new poll from Gallup is sure to cause considerable agitation in the world of elected officials. The survey, testing 1,009 voters from Dec. 8-10, asks people to rate the "honesty and ethical standards" of a variety of professions. The results are somewhat dismal (even for the most cynical observers).

...

Governors are the most respected of public officials with 22 percent rating their ethics and honesty as high or very high and 26 percent scoring it low or very low. Journalists nudged out governors with 26 percent rating their ethics as high or very high and 25 scoring them low or very low (We'll take it.)

Not surprisingly, the most trusted professions remain those related to healthcare. Eighty-four percent of the sample rated nurses as possessing high standards for honesty and ethics. Druggists/pharmacists (73 percent), doctors (69 percent), dentists (62 percent) and engineers (61 percent) rounded out the top five.

I find this fascinating.  Unlike car salesman or nurses, what journalists 'sell' to the public is trust.  And yet the public doesn't rate journalists as having particularly high integrity, which is puzzling because they still in some ways dominate public discourse.  If I were a journalist seeking to serve the public, I might find this incredibly alarming and a reason to fret and examine why the public is skeptical.  For Cillizza, who I'm picking on only because his attitude is hardly unusual among journalists, it's cause for snark and nothing more.  'I'll take it' is his mantra, since it doesn't really matter if you trust him or not, he's secure in his post at the Post.

This could explain why paid media is so dominant in the narratives of campaigns.  I've seen two campaigns up close where journalism essentially made zero difference - Jon Corzine for Governor in 2005 and Ned Lamont in 2006.  Voters are using different sources of information to make political decisions at this point, and the press doesn't really help matters by allowing paid media and statements from campaigns back and forth to dominate the discourse.  Whether paid media is dominant because voters have somehow 'changed' to a more apathetic and less information-rich stance or whether journalism has become less trustworthy isn't clear.

My guess is that journalists are no longer communicating in a way that makes sense to voters.  For instance, if you look at most Connecticut papers, you would find almost no coverage of the fact that Lieberman misled voters on his main campaign promise to bring the troops home as soon as possible, or that Lamont's claim that a vote for Lieberman is a "vote for more war" happens to be true.  The campaign is over, so it's apparently not relevant that Senator Lieberman just called for more troops, which simply cannot be taken as anything but a call for more war.   This isn't just sour grapes; it would have been incredibly tough for Lamont to win regardless, but the fact that Lieberman was able to utter statements in the post-primary which are now revealed as lies, and have basically no coverage in local papers, is remarkable.  It's shallow.  It disempowers Connecticut voters, who are not told the truth about what they voted for.

I don't really have an answer for irresponsible lack of follow-on coverage, or the boring scandal-driven untrustworthy nonsense that passes as news.  At this point we still need the press, I suppose, and we need them to dig up credible information so that we can consider public discourse reasonably and responsibly.  Still, it would be nice if journalists considered a lack of trust from the public as an identity crisis rather than an opportunity for snark.  In the meantime, the press will continue to lose relevance and other more unpredictable social structures will take its place.

Tags: Connecticut, CT-Sen, Joe Lieberman, journalism, Ned Lamont, netroots, public (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Can the media be fixed?

I don't see any easy way to "fix" the media - I wish there was.  De-consolidation would help, some liberal ownership would help.  I'm skeptical about returning the Fairness Doctrine, because I think it could be gamed and used as a figleaf; i.e., Lieberman or Joe Klein presents the "liberal view" on the issue.

I think the best outcome we can hope for is the one you've just pointed to: That people start realizing that the media are corrupt and useless, and start looking for alternatives.  Unfortunately, what that poll doesn't tell us is whether the people who don't trust the media think it has a liberal bias or a conservative bias.

If a majority still believe the Republican meme that the (corporate-owned) media somehow has a liberal bias and adjust and seek alternatives accordingly, then that's a huge problem.  It would also dictate which direction the media's course-correction-for-credibility will be.  I don't really want to see an army of Halperins stampeding to the even-farther right.

by Eli 2006-12-14 05:22PM | 0 recs
A vote for Clark is a vote for war too...

Sheesh...listened to Clark on NPR and he's talking spending another $1T, adding 100K(?) new troops and hunkering down for a long drawn out war of attrition with the Iraqis.

by BrionLutz 2006-12-14 05:47PM | 0 recs
Are you sure about Clark and prolonging war?
Elaborate. Was he predicting or advocating?
From what I have seen of him, it would be very uncharacteristic of him to advocate this course.
by Pravin 2006-12-14 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: A vote for Clark is a vote for war too...

Shorter Brion Lutz:  Time to slash one of Obama's primary competitors.

by jsw 2006-12-14 08:27PM | 0 recs
Re: A vote for Clark is a vote for war too...

At what point did the world begin to revolve around Barack Obama?

by craverguy 2006-12-14 08:47PM | 0 recs
Your guess
"My guess is that journalists are no longer communicating in a way that makes sense to voters. "

I think that is a damn good guess. Fox News created a paradigm where they communicated with voters in a different way (ala, being conversative). It worked for a while, but is failing. Now, all stations are trying to follow them. the estabslihed media is so sucked up into dominant power structures that they don't know how to communicate with people anymore. They worship power. And that, ultiamtely, is why they are failing.
by Chris Bowers 2006-12-14 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Your guess

They could try reporting on objective reality.  Many people would respond favorably to that, but it sounds really really hard - those cocktail weenies are soooo tasty. (I personally think it's more a matter of top-down corporate directives on What To Report, but there is definitely a Kewl Kidz and Kewl Kidz wannabe vibe as well)

by Eli 2006-12-14 06:20PM | 0 recs
A Vote for Lieberman was a vote for stupid!

The public is voting with their mice Matt. You could see it a dKos during the election, ask Kos what his traffic numbers were, and even now there are many more people showing up there and elsewhere in Left Blogistan asking what this 'blogosphere thing is all about...' Just as the public decided that the ReThugs were not trustworthy, liars and thieves actually, which resulted in the Democrats winning almost everywhere so now the corporatist media is next.

People are really, really tired of being lied to and they don't like it. The trendlines are clear: 'The Blogosphere' up and the WaPo, LA Times and NYT down along with cable and local TV.

On cable only Olbermann is showing better ratings...

And isn't that interesting...

.

by Pericles 2006-12-14 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Vote for Lieberman is a vote for more war

At the heights of journalism this may not apply. But at the local level, I've often discovered that I'm dealing with a reporter who simply doesn't know anything about the subjects s/he is tasked to cover. They don't bring any background to their topics, so they are suckers for anyone who can give them a coherent story line.

How would they know Lieberman campaigned promising to work to end the war? They didn't understand this when he did it and they certainly don't remember when he breaks his promise. Their cynical bluster is a cover for abysmal ignorance of the meat of the stories whose surface they skim over.

by janinsanfran 2006-12-14 07:46PM | 0 recs
But, who's the consumer of bad media?

Yeah, there's lot of crap out there, but I also think this is a two-way street.

Lots of people like sleaziness and sloppiness. Many aren't interested in being informed but rather entertained (even if it's the car accident by the side of the road).

We do have NPR, BBC and other more reputable news sources but they don't as high ratings.

Even in this stinking mess of the media, why (dare to ask?), say, O'Reilly has so many viewers? Hannity? Limbaugh?  It's the same with the lunatics of Robertson & Falwell... they have millions of viewers/listeners/followers... and that's why they are relevant.

If more people demanded better quality those gasbags wouldn't be so popular.

No one wants to offend the public or the voters, I know, but when so many people are interested only in confirming their own biases/point of view, better and more widely available media that informs and challenges will not happen.

by Andros 2006-12-14 08:02PM | 0 recs
Re: But, who's the consumer of bad media?

It's interesting how NPR and the BBC are such reputable/reality-based news outlets, much more so than most for-profit news.

The profit motive kills news: a drive to entertain rather than inform equals a drive for less news and more O'Reillys. Hence Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News. Even Olbermann devotes massive time to stupid and irrelevant celebrity "news."

by Mirza 2006-12-14 08:51PM | 0 recs
Lawyers hated at 38! W00t!

Being a law student that's the number that matters most to me.

by MNPundit 2006-12-14 08:29PM | 0 recs
No Proof of Intent

the "Joe Lieberman is lying when he says he doesn't want more war," message didn't take in the media cause there's no proof of the accusation.  imo, it's not even a very strong statement.  it doesn't resonate with me, i can say for sure.

I would suggest the blogosphere focus less on trying to tell other people what they themselves want, and more on the consequences of their policies.

the simple and obvious response to the accusation is:  "no one wants more war.  i believe more war may be NEEDED to avoid escalation of civil war in iraq."

if one looks at that statement and says "liar," that's a perfectly valid response.  i think the more effective response, as far as electoral politics is concerned is:  "idiot."

i suppose it could have worked if there were secret tapes of Joe saying:  "i want more war in iraq."  but without that, it's like trying to prove murder without any evidence of intent.

best we ever had was man 1.

(if this turns out to be double post, apologies in advance.)

by Stewieeeee 2006-12-14 09:52PM | 0 recs
sweet

the candidate I intend to work for in the 2007 Virginia legislative races is a nurse. running against a career politician. nice.

by msnook 2006-12-14 11:00PM | 0 recs
Media Amnesia is Deliberate

It is not a matter of the Media not doing follow-up reporting on history.  It is a deliberate action. During Clinton's administration, I heard so many NPR stories about how Clinton was doing something different than he is talked about during the election campaign, often spurious, that I made up the following lede.  

"President Clinton, opened his news conference today but saying "Good Morning".  In contrast, during his election campaign, he often said, "Good Afternoon".  The White House has not justified the discrepancy"

by msobel 2006-12-15 09:58AM | 0 recs

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