Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Who Decides What News Is? Whose Ox Is To Be Gored?

One of the more cogent of the quotes of Stalin was his observation that "It is not important who votes, or how.  What is important is who counts the votes, and how."  Similarly, as I have often pointed out, it is not so important to see how the news is reported – an obvious discrepancy between organizations that comment on current events – but what is more important is that powerful media can decide what to report as news, and what to ignore.

California State Senator and Gun Smuggler Leland Yee (D-San Francisco)

Glenn Reynolds, a professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and the scribe of the popular Instapundit web log, has penned another column for USA Today that takes up a spate of recent examples, reported as "The media hate Republicans".  He begins with the recent news (some people would call it that) that Democrat California state senator Leland Yee, a frequent and vocal opponent of gun rights, has been caught in an FBI sting operation (think west-coast version of American Hustle) trying to smuggle guns and rocket launchers from a Muslim terrorist group in the Philippines into New Jersey, with the help of contacts in a Chinese crime syndicate.

Some people trying to follow the story found it curious that CNN had not reported the story at all.  Among them, one source on Twitter is @TheINDYpundit (pardon me on the copying; I don't tweet), who asked last Friday:
Curious that the Leland Yee story appears nowhere on @CNN's website. What say you, @CNNWriters?
To which the reply:
@The INDYpundit It's in line with us covering state senators & state secretary of state races just about never. You see another conspiracy?
Nice touch that – "another conspiracy", as opposed to bias.  The helpful reply reminding them of their notes from Journalism 101:
Not a conspiracy. Just fascinating story. Undercover FBI, Gun-Running, Bribery, Corruption from pro-gun control legislator. @CNNWriters
CNN promised to Get Right On It™:
Apologies, @TheINDYpundit. Thought you were alluding to reluctance to chase on our part. We'll make sure politics crew is across it. Thanks!
Some five days later now, CNN has done precisely nothing with the story, after dismissing it as not newsworthy beyond its political angle.  Yet Reynolds finds the "we don't do local" excuse rather curious considering CNN stories on Tennessee state senator Stacey Campbell on his "extreme" comments, and Wisconsin state senator Randy Hooper and his "marital problems".  The distinction is that the media will leap upon local Republicans if the story is critical and comparatively minor (Campbell, Hooper) but will give a pass if the story involves a Democrat (Yee) even if it involves federal felonies involving terrorism and gun-running (a page from Fast & Furious?) that are directly counter to his public gun control campaign.

As for a positive story, if it can spun that way, a local Democrat gets an enormous benefit, as for example Texas state senator Wendy Davis and her widely covered filibuster against a state bill that restricts abortions past the five-month period of gestation.

Reynolds tosses in another comparison for clarity's sake, wherein the Washington Post refused to cover the stomach-churning Kermit Gosnell murder trial for his abortion chamber of horrors since it was a "local crime story", but went ape over the local crime story of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
It's almost as if "what's news" is just a synonym for "what advances the narrative chosen by the Democratic Party."  The question that "news" operations like CNN may want to ask is, how many people are really interested in getting their news from party organs.

In a related story, former US Senator, Governor, and former presidential candidate Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska) brought his iconoclastic and irreverent viewpoints to bear on Obama recently, calling him "misleading" and "self-delusional".  He went on to call ObamaCare "absolutely impossible" ("And affordable? Forget about it!"), accused Obama of class warfare through his 'income inequality' campaign, and declared him incapable of resolving the divide with Congress ("If he was up to it, he would have done it.").  Kerrey said that Obama has completely missed the point that he won re-election simply because he "sucked less than Romney".

Kerrey (not to be confused [please!] with John Kerry) is an intelligent and never-a-dull-moment presence who ended up trading his right leg for a Medal of Honor as a SEAL Lt(jg) in Viet Nam, and went on to serve as president of the New School university in New York.

You may be forgiven if you are unaware of Kerrey's recent opinions of Obama.  He is a Democrat and the interview was printed in Britain's Daily Mail.  Here in the US – not so much.

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