Saturday, June 11, 2005

Now, let's watch that darn liberal media downplay Sensenbrenner's abuse of power 

Piggy-backing on Riggsveda's post (below), the story is that a Republican committee chair repeatedly cut off Democratic witnesses, turned off the mikes, and stormed out of the hearing, gavel in hand.

So, how does Pravda on the Potomac cover the story?

Here's the headline on page 1: "Patriot Act Meeting Disrupted". Not a breath, not hint of the idea that the Republican chair of the meeting was doing the disruption! [UPDATE: Izvestia on the Hudson does the exact same thing: "Hearing on Patriot Act Ends in an Angry Uproar" But why? Gosh, what a setup for a "he said/she said"!]

And here's WaPo's headline on the inside (page A04, not too bad): "Panel chairman leaves hearing. Still nothing unusual, right? I mean, if the panel chair didn't leave the meeting, it would go on forever, right? [UPDATE The Times re-uses the leaving-reader-clueless "Angry Uproar" headline on the inside.]

And now the story. To his credit, Mike Allen gets the story into the lead:

After repeated criticism of the Bush administration, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday gaveled a hearing to a close and walked out while Democrats continued to testify -- but with their microphones shut off.

As [Banana Republican] Sensenbrenner left, [Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)] continued talking and was applauded after saying that "part of the problem is that we have not had the opportunity to have hearings on all these other administration policies that have led to abuses."

"The other thing that I wanted to say -- and that I will say at this point, even though the chairman is not going to listen," Nadler said.

Then his voice faded out. "I notice that my mike was turned off," Nadler said, speaking up, "but I can be heard anyway."
(via Wapo)


UPDATE And David Kirkpatrick the Times reporter, again, actually gets the story into the lead:

A hearing on the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act degenerated into chaos on Friday, as Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. called Democrats "irresponsible," gaveled the session to a premature close and stormed out of the room.
(via Times)

So, again, "premature" would imply that the "uproar" was the responsibility, well, of the ruling Partei, eh? Not a hint of that in the headlines from The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!)

Of course we, as Democratic (though unrepresented) taxpayers, paid for that microphone.

So in what sense is pulling the plug on the Dems and walking out "leaving" a meeting, as the story headline has it? Doesn't that headline obscure, rather than summarize the story? And doesn't A1's passive "Disruption" obscure the essential point that the chair of the heading was the one doing the disruption?

It's almost like there's a defense in depth against covering anything the Dems might do, isn't there? If a reporter actaully writes the story, the editors, if they don't spike it, obscure the point with headlines (which the reporters don't write, remember). And the editors are the managers, so if the paper systematically screws up, it's down to them, not the reporters. The reporters will be working stiffs, soon enough, when the corporations finish gutting the newsrooms...

UPDATE WaPo's reasonable ombudsman, Michael Getler, is here. Barney Calame, the untested Times ombudsman—though how could he possible be worse than the foppish elegant Little Danny Okrent—is here.

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