Frat Boy Journalism

Sad and pathetic, not to mention sophomoric, is this piece from Washington Post "journalists" Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza. They think themselves clever as they match beer brands to politicos but they crossed a line when they suggest that Secretary of State Clinton be given some "Mad Bitch" Beer.

This attempt at satire misses its mark entirely and quite frankly descends into frat boy misogyny. Please consider contacting the ombudsman of the Washington Post by e-mail at ombudsman@washpost.com or by phone at 202-334-7582 to register a complaint.

Update [2009-7-31 20:55:17 by Charles Lemos]: Megan Garder of the Columbia Journalism Review is also not amused:
One wonders how much of the Post staff’s time and resources were devoted to researching, writing, staging, shooting, and editing such an extraordinarily value-free contribution to the annals of political commentary. Milbank and Cillizza are no Stewart/Colbert—they’re not even Letterman/O’Brien—not only because they’re simply not as funny, but because their status as (ostensibly) reporters means that they owe us more than lame-puns-for-the-sake-of-lame-puns, as per the typical humor of late-night TV. “Two of the biggest maws in Washington”—judging from the impish grins they maintain throughout the video and from their general teehee! look what we’re getting away with! tone (oh, and from the fact that their video closes with TotBMiW taking swigs of Jackass Oatmeal Stout)—seem, actually, to understand this. They seem to understand, in other words, that “Mouthpiece Theater,” in its spectacular lack of substance, represents a kind of journalistic subversion. But, in that, the pair are victims of irony rather than purveyors of it. Yesterday’s “Beer Summit”—and, in particular, the media’s treatment of the event as alternately epic and ironic (as in, for example, dubbing the thing the “Beer Summit” in the first place), is certainly ripe for criticism. The video in question could have been—relatively—trenchant, along the lines of the “suds summit” column Milbank published in today’s Post. It could have been, given the participants, witty/revealing/justified. Instead, “Ménage à Stella Artois” simply mocks itself. And in that, it mocks by extension: - Dana Milbank - Chris Cillizza - the staff of The Washington Post who are not Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza - the audience of The Washington Post - all of us, generally.

And I'm kicking myself because the title of this post should have been "Ménage à Stupide".

Update [2009-8-1 0:30:15 by Charles Lemos]: The Washington Post has released a short statement and taken action: "The video was a satirical piece that lampooned people of all stripes. There was a section of the video that went too far, so we have removed the piece from our website."

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Cillizza Misses the Forest on Palin Resignation

Chris Cillizza's big deal is making lists, the ten closest Senate campaigns or what have you. At times these lists aim at determining who the winners and the losers are from a particular political event. Today, the event in question was the resignation of Sarah Palin. Here's who Cillizza thinks benefits and suffers from the weekend's news:

Winners: Mark Sanford, Mitt Romney, Don Young, Fred Malek

Losers: Mike Huckabee, Alaska

Notice anyone missing from the list? How about Sarah Palin, a clear loser over the weekend. The spinmeisters might have the political elites thinking that somehow by quitting her job Palin is boosting the shot that someday, perhaps even in four years, she will become President. But anyone not mired in Beltway thinking can figure out that this logic is way too convoluted. Quitting proves she's not a quitter? Giving up on her state proves that she is apt to lead the country? Saying no to governing proves she can handle policy formulation and implementation? Resigning due to pressure proves that she could handle the heat in the Oval Office? Come on. While this move might not entirely foreclose on the possibility that Palin will become President one day, it most certainly decreases the odds of her success.

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Simple Answers to Simple Questions

Chris Cillizza asks, "Are Republicans on the March?"

In the wake of an election cycle dominated by bad news for Republicans, the last five days have been a welcome relief.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss cruised to a runoff victory last Tuesday, and House Republicans held Louisiana's 4th district and pulled off a massive upset win over Rep. Bill Jefferson in Louisiana's 2nd district on Saturday.

Those three developments have led some Republicans to insist that what happened on Nov. 4 was almost entirely due to President-elect Barack Obama's unique electoral appeal and that when the soon-to-be-president is not on the ballot -- the 2010 midterm elections -- his party will not fare nearly as well.

The simple answer to Cillizza's question is, "no," Republicans aren't on the march. Surprisingly enough, the more complex answer is also "no."

Cillizza does concede that the Republican victory in Georgia came in a state that has, not withstanding Barack Obama's strong showing on November 4, been trending noticeably away from the Democratic Party and towards the Republican Party in recent years. He also does note that the Republican win in Louisiana-4 came in a district that is very red, and that the surprise upset of "Dollar" Bill Jefferson came against a Democratic incumbent sporting 16 criminal indictments.

However, Cillizza concludes, "The wins in Georgia and Louisiana give Republicans something to rally around -- a not insignificant development given the massive losses the party suffered in 2006 and 2008... [T]hey lay the foundation for at least the possibility of a comeback in 2010 and beyond."

I submit, however, that this is reading way to much into these elections. First and foremost, the Republicans' problem isn't that they can't win in the south -- it's the exact opposite, in fact. Republicans are facing so much difficulty nation-wide because their focus is so overwhelmingly on the South. They are a Party that no longer looks like the whole country but rather one region of the country. Scoring a few more wins in that region won't go far in reversing this trend.

What's more, special elections aren't tremendously good predictors of future developments. In early 2004 Democrats won special elections in significantly more difficult races in Kentucky and South Dakota than the Republicans faced this fall in Georgia and Louisiana and came out with strong victories -- only to face one of their most stinging defeats in November 2004. Democratic victories in early 2008 special elections in red districts did presage later victories in the fall, but that just isn't always the case. So over-reading the implications of these December 2008 contests is ill-advised.

But more broadly, look at where we stand now. The last time the Republicans had as many seats in the House of Representatives as the Democrats now hold was following the 1928 elections. As best I can tell, the last time the Republicans have had a greater share of Senate seats than the Democrats now hold was following in the 1920 elections. Perhaps one could argue that Republicans have nowhere to go but up from this point (though I don't think that's the case if they continue on the path of obstructionism against popular and necessary policy shifts). But to merely pass on conclusory talking points asserting that the Republicans are back in action merely because they won three quirky, low turnout affairs in the South seems to me to be without basis.

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GOP Pres Candidates Looking Bad

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be facing a weak GOP candidate, no matter how skilled Republican strategists are at dividing the country.

In the 2008 election that is indisputably a challenging historical period for the GOP to begin with, the top five candidates for the GOP presidential nomination all present major problems in assembling a winning GOP coalition in the general election, and even two weeks away from the Iowa caucuses no candidate looks like a winner.

But as Chris Cillizza says: "Someone Has to Win the GOP Nomination."

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Blogfight!

Man, I hate blogfights. After all, what kind of message does it send to the children? Take my latest dust up with the National Journal's Beltway Blogroller Daniel Glover. I cited a Chris Cillizza post at The Fix as an example of journalistic laziness, something I think is all too prevalent. Glover took offense for some reason, calling my assertion "ridiculous and wrong" and criticizing me for not proving my opinion that most journalists are lazy. Aren't there more important issues in the world? You'd think so.

Glover's taken this to heights I can't really understand, updating his initial post twice to in response to my comments as well as responding in the comments. Each post seems to have gotten progressively more angry, and at this point, I think Glover doth protest too much. But still, I can't let some of this stuff stand without response. I won't bore those of you who don't care, but if you're interested in what I have to say, it's in the extended entry.

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Diaries

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