A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

Back on August 8th, Matt wrote a piece that listed many of the journalists who simply repeated the Lieberman camp's assertion that their campaign went down as a result of "dirty tricks." This Robert Yoon piece from CNN is a good example of that stenography. as documented in Matt's post and in the comments to that post, the stenography on this subject extended to, at least, the AP, the CBS Evening News, The New York Times, and MSNBC and, not surprisingly, Fox News. "Reporting" in this case was simply repeating whatever the Lieberman camp said. For example, to quote Yoon:"This type of dirty politics has been a staple of the Lamont campaign from the beginning, from the nonstop personal attacks to the intimidation tactics and offensive displays to these coordinated efforts to disable our Web site," said Smith in a statement e-mailed to reporters Monday evening.

"There is no place for these Rovian tactics in Democratic politics, and we demand that our opponent call off his supporters and their online attack dogs."

Tuesday afternoon, the Lieberman campaign formally complained to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, asking him to investigate attacks on the site.

In its letter to Blumenthal, the campaign, citing joe2006.com's Web-hosting company, said the site had been brought down due to traffic "neither natural nor done by normal site visitor volume."

When asked by CNN whether the service outage was due to an unpaid bill, Sean Smith, Lieberman's campaign manager, said "Are you kidding?"(...)

The Lieberman campaign said Tuesday in a statement: "... The the suspension of displaying the Web site www.joe2006.com was not due to to an overdue account. Friends of Joe Lieberman is completely paid in full. The screen that showed yesterday is a default image from the server. In order to isolate where the denial of service attack was coming into the site, we disabled it as rapidly as possible. Once we were able to isolate all the site files for study, we were able to add an appropriate one-page maintenance message." As you can see, huge parts of this article were simply direct quotes from Lieberman campaign statements. I bring this up because now, to great fanfare, it turns out that such claims from the Lieberman camp were utterly inaccurate:"The investigation has revealed no evidence the problems the Web site experienced were the result of criminal conduct," said Tom Carson, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal confirmed the joint investigation "found no evidence of tampering or sabotage warranting civil action by my office." Both men declined to provide additional information, such as what might have happened to the site.

Calls to Lieberman went unanswered yesterday.

Lieberman's site, www.joe2006.com, failed the afternoon before the Aug. 8 primary, which he lost to Lamont. Lieberman won a fourth term in November's general election as a petition candidate.

Dan Geary, who developed Lieberman's site, had classified the problem as a denial-of-service attack, which is characterized by attempts to prevent access to a site by overwhelming it.

The Web site crash received media scrutiny, fueled by comments from Lieberman and his staff who implied it had been hacked by Lamont's supporters.

A Lieberman campaign spokeswoman, Marion Steinfels, had called it a "coordinated effort to wreck our Web site and make us incapable of communicating with each other and our voters." At this point, the only news outlets covering this latest development in the story are local outlets in New England. With only two exceptions, one from Massachusetts and one from NYC, those outlets are all in Connecticut. No AP. No New York Times. No CNN. No MSNBC or Fox News News. Certainly no mentions of their Election Day reports that unquestioningly repeated the Lieberman camp's claim that the website was down because of an "attack."

I wonder if the news organizations that are reporting on this story will continue to press Lieberman's staff to make a statement. If such a statement comes, will it be repeated without question, or will the journalists to point to earlier claims from the Lieberman camp on the incident? Will anyone ask Lieberman's staff why they had no problem jumping to the conclusion that the website was under attack? Will anyone ask why they held at least one press conference on the story but are unwilling to comment now? Will anyone comment on this smacking of crass political maneuvering on Election Day back in August, and be less willing to simply repeat claims from the Lieberman camp in the future as a result? It would be nice if they were, but I'm not holding my breath. We have entered an era where being an "objective" and responsible journalist has little to do with actual research, and has much more to do with simply repeating, word for word, statements from campaigns. Is this environment, is it any wonder that paid media now far surpasses free media when it comes to influencing elections? Is there anyway back to a time when journalists considered their job as being much more than just stenography?

CT Blogger goes into more detail.

Tags: CT-Sen, Joe Lieberman, Media, Ned Lamont (all tags)

Comments

12 Comments

Re: A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

It's never ever going to happen.  The "journalists" who work in the mainstream media are simply incapable of recognizing how biased their work is now.  You know the fable about how, if you put a frog into boiling water, it will immediately leap out, but if you put a frog into cool water and gradually warm it up to boiling point, you'll have a nice parboiled frog for dinner (or something like that?)?  At some point in the last twelve years, mainstream media has become the frog in the cool water...

by CTvoter 2006-12-20 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

But Matt,

That's what reporters do.  They report.  

The politicians speak, the reporters write it down and release and we read or listen.

Don't you watch the Colbert Report?

by dayspring 2006-12-20 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

I'd like to know how much money the FBI and Connecticut Secretary of State's office spent investigating a charge that was proved bogus on the same day it was levied.

by Les Mots et les Choses 2006-12-20 08:51AM | 0 recs
Why would they care?

I wonder if the news organizations that are reporting on this story will continue to press Lieberman's staff to make a statement.

Why would they care?  They wanted to harm the Lamont  campaign, they wanted to build their "bloggers are bad" theme, and they did.  Why would they do anything to undermine that?

I don't know what motivated so many people in the press/media to help Lieberman. I don't think he could have succeeded without their help.

I know that they did help him and that it worked.  He's in the senate and Lamont is on his way to becoming another footnote.  I am sure they are all happy with themselves and see no reason to question anything they did.

by James Earl 2006-12-20 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

Lucas,

The list is too long.  Chris Matthews asked Ned about the "pajamahadeen" and their role in the hack on election day, for example.  CNN rolled out the "developing story" banner.  The NYT had it splashed all over the front page of their website.  Every local television station ran the story as part of their lead on election day.  Joe Lieberman claimed his site was hacked on his nationally televised "concession" speech."  And on.  

Tim

by Tim Tagaris 2006-12-20 09:00AM | 0 recs
Old News and Lamont PR Failure

This story doesn't matter any more, and it didn't matter at the time. Lamont won anyway. With Tim Johnson struggling for life in the hospital, I'm not sure this is an auspicious time to be tearing the scabs off old Democratic wounds.

The reason the story was chockful of Lieberman was, at least in part, a failure on the part of the Lamont Campaign to respond effectively.

When the media is manipulated, we need to manipulate back. No one on this site hesitates to blame John Kerry--and his dreaded consulstants--for losing a PR firefight with Rove over the Swift Boat attacks; why not also blame Lamont and his campaign for getting faked out on this horseshit denial of service story?

Philosophers have merely interpreted history; the point however is to change it.

by stevehigh 2006-12-20 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Old News and Lamont PR Failure

What?

What does Tim Johnson have anything to do with this?

Further, I think "the hack" was one of our shining moments in PR pushback, to be honest.  It was "people power" and thousands of online researchers providing us with the information needed to debunk the claim in real time.  When has that ever happened before?  I remember talking to all kinds of reporters that day holding print-outs of Daily Kos/MyDD in one hand and the phone in another.  Maybe they totally crafted the story out of thin air, but the the pushback was, while not absolutely immediate, a thing of beauty in my estimation.

Tim  

by Tim Tagaris 2006-12-20 09:33AM | 0 recs
Not the time to tangle assholes with Holy Joe

As has been stated, we are in the majority although not by much. Sen. Johnson's health highlights just how thin this majority is.

To refight this Lamont-Lieberman fight this month is to give aid and comfort to Mitch McConnell in my view.

My other point is that it is usually more productive to look at bad press as a PR failure than to whine about unfair coverage. The CNN story has next to nothing from the Lamont camp, and one of the two paragraphs confirms (by 'denouncing' it) the essence of the charge--that a denial of service attack had taken place.

Why did not Lieberman get five or six paragraphs to Lamont's one? I don't know the answer, but at least one possible reason is that the Lamont comments were not very interesting and that the Lamont Campaign was not persistent enough.

A high-tech candidate with a high-tech campaign should have been able to smother the media with cooperation, explaining authoritatively the various reasons that can cause a server to crash, the security and redundancy precautions that modern computer installations--including CNN's--use to foil such attacks, and the tendency of inexperienced users to blame everything on hackers and viruses instead of looking at the more likely possibility of operator error. The moral: if Joe Lieberman can't run a website, how can he help run the country?

As I said, I don't know what happened here. And, I  don't care. What I care about is the future. Free media, which includes Internet media, will continue to be crucial in shaping opinion, and we need to do a better job shaping it. The media environment is hostile, but that is all the more reason we must fight for our fair share.

by stevehigh 2006-12-20 12:39PM | 0 recs
Lamont should sue Lieberman

Liebermans campaign and maybe some of the credulous for damage to his reputation and more.  While you can get away with a lot in the current libel law situation, you cannot make claims you know to be false or unfounded.

by Eli Rabett 2006-12-20 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Lamont should sue Lieberman

Suing a 64 year old man with many staffers in his employ for making a false claim about computers?

Even in the unlikely event that he couldn't convince a court he lacked the knowledge to know that the claim was false, he'd just argue that he was just following what he was told by others, who could also try the 'I don't know much about computers, but that's what I was told' line.

by Englishlefty 2006-12-20 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Lamont should sue Lieberman

Doesn't matter how old they were, they made reckless claims that were injurious and that nails them

by Eli Rabett 2007-01-06 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: A Long Awaited Follow-Up On Press Stenography

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by manuelz 2007-03-09 12:31AM | 0 recs

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