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Posts Tagged ‘The Wall Street Journal’

STRATEGI | Medan seriös media ägnar allt mer tid åt att kontrollera politikers utsagor spelar sanningen en allt mindre roll i valkampanjerna.

En förklaring till denna paradox är att väljarna i allt större utsträckning hämtar information från källor som bara överrensstämmer med deras egna åsikter (och fördomar).

Är man höger i USA tittar man på Fox News, läser The Wall Street Journal och surfar på Drudge Report. Är man vänster blir det istället MSNBC, ledarsidan i The New York Times och The Huffington Post på nätet.

“We don’t collect news to inform us. We collect news to affirm us,” säger t.ex. Frank Luntz som är opinionsanalytiker för republikanerna. “It used to be that we disagreed on the solution but agreed on the problem. Now we don’t even agree on the problem.”

Och det gäller säkert även här i Sverige. Skulle man göra en opinionsmätning här för att ta reda på vem av de två presidentkandidaterna man anser är  mest sanningsenlig skulle med största sannolikhet Barack Obama vinna med hästlängder över Mitt Romney .

Michael Scherer och Alex Altman på tidskriften Time har tittat på hur presidentkandidaterna använder och förvränger fakta om varandra. Och de kan konstatera att verkligheten är mer komplex än så.

Obama har t.ex. medvetet och kontinuerligt misstolkat Romneys åsikter om immigration och aborter. Romney däremot har på motsvarande sätt förvridit Obamas politik när det gäller välfärdsfrågor, immigration och presidentens ekonomiska stimulansåtgärder.

En annan skillnad: Obamakampanjen har varit betydligt subtilare i sitt sätt att måla sin motståndare i mörka färger. Romneykampanjen däremot har varit betydligt mer uppenbara i sitt sätt att agera.

Så vem ljuger mest? Obama eller Romney? Alex Altman skriver:

Compared with the Obama campaign’s, the Romney operation’s misstatements are frequently more brazen. But sometimes the most effective lie is the one that is closest to the truth, and Obama’s team has often outdone Romney’s in the dark art of subtle distortion. On both sides, the dishonesty is “about as bad as I’ve seen,” says veteran journalist Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org.

The lying game unfolds on many –levels. Campaigns obfuscate, twist the truth and exaggerate. They exploit complexity. Most of all, they look for details—real or unreal—that validate our suspicions.

[…]

Even for the most open-minded and informed voters, truth is often subjective. Discerning it is that much harder when the campaigns cater to two different groups of voters who seem to prefer two very different sets of facts.

Michael Scherer har några talande exempel från den pågående valkampanjen.

“The truth of the matter is you can’t just make stuff up,” [Obama] told the scribblers who get paid to check his facts. “That’s one thing you learn as President of the United States. You get called in to account.” It was just what reporters wanted to hear, even if it was not exactly true.

At the time, Obama was speaking about a campaign ad from Mitt Romney that falsely claimed that the President had eliminated the work requirement for welfare. The ad was unmistakably deceptive. But just five minutes earlier in the very same press conference, Obama had offered some misdirection of his own. “Nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon,” he said. In fact, one of the President’s senior strategists, Stephanie Cutter, told reporters a month earlier that Romney was misrepresenting himself either to the American people or to securities regulators — “which is a felony,” she said.

Cutter’s was a conditional accusation but an accusation nonetheless, and at the time it allowed the Romney campaign to take its turn playing truth teller. “A reckless and unsubstantiated charge,” protested Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades, who asked Obama to apologize. Of course, no apology was forthcoming. So the posturing got worse.

[…]

Indeed, the 2012 campaign has witnessed a historic increase in fact-checking efforts by the media, with dozens of reporters now focused full time on sniffing out falsehood. Clear examples of deception fill websites, appear on nightly newscasts and run on the front pages of newspapers. But the truth squads have had only marginal success in changing the behavior of the campaigns and almost no impact on the outside groups that peddle unvarnished falsehoods with even less accountability. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” explained Neil Newhouse, Romney’s pollster, echoing his industry’s conventional wisdom.

Similarly, the so-called Truth Team for the Obama campaign has found itself in recurring spats with journalists brandishing facts. One of the most galling Obama deceptions, embedded in two television ads, asserts that Romney backed a bill outlawing “all abortion even in cases of rape and incest.” This is not true. Romney has consistently maintained, since becoming a pro-life politician in 2005, that he supports exceptions for rape and incest and to protect the life of the mother.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget, den amerikanska utgåvan av Time den 15 oktober 2012, illustrerades av Dylan Roscover.

(Inlägget publiceras parallellt på Makthavare.se)

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USA | Kommer de många negativa utspelen från Barack Obama och Mitt Romney entusiasmera fler väljare än man riskerar stöta bort?

Den negativa framtoningen är ett vågspel för båda kampanjerna.

Carol E. Lee, The Wall Street Journal, skriver:

For both sides, the harsh rhetoric may actually serve a useful purpose this year. The 2012 vote figures to be a close one in which energizing the base of each party is the top priority, because there are so few undecided voters up for grabs this year. Tough campaign talk tends to fire up a party’s core.

But for Mr. Obama, the tone could damage his political brand of optimism that had appeal across the political spectrum in 2008. For Mr. Romney, the negativity distracts from his message on the economy, which polls show as Mr. Obama’s biggest vulnerability.

Neither side shows any signs of curtailing the negativity. The Obama campaign is planning an onslaught of attacks based on the budget crafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate. The Romney campaign is running tough ads that accuse Mr. Obama of letting welfare recipients off the hook on requirements that they seek work. Each side is bitterly protesting the other’s ads.

[…]

One effect of such early negativity is that both candidates figure to be battered by November, and voters could become fatigued earlier. And that could reduce even further the number of swing voters participating on election day—and increase even further the importance of turning out each party’s base.

[…]

The negative strategy for each campaign has become clearer in recent days.

The Obama campaign decided more than a year ago to define Mr. Romney early, on its terms, in an attempt to make the election at least in part a referendum on him and his business record rather than what most re-election campaigns tend to be, which is a referendum on the incumbent. The result has been a negative message designed to raise doubts about whether Mr. Romney is trustworthy and stump speeches where the president takes on his opponent by name.

Mr. Romney’s campaign is seeking to drive up negative views of Mr. Obama, who remains personally fairly popular even as ratings of his job performance have stagnated. The campaign, seeing a potential vulnerability for Mr. Obama on the issue, has recently launched ads criticizing Mr. Obama for not fulfilling his promise in 2008 to bring a more civil tone to politics. Mr. Romney repeatedly said Mr. Obama doesn’t understand America.

Och Washington Post skriver Amy Gardner bl.a. om hur valet av Paul Ryan till Romneys vicepresidentkandidat har påverkat Obamas valstrategi.

Over three days and a dozen stops across this battleground state this week, Obama offered a road map of how he will appeal to the moderate and independent voters who will help decide the 2012 election.

He talked about the usual subjects of taxes and preserving the government investments, such as education aid, that help the middle class. But he also cast himself as the one who better understands — and has actually lived — the plight of such voters.

[…]

Ryan’s entrance into the race Saturday has emboldened Obama to intensify the contrast. Ryan is the “ideological leader” of the House Republicans, the president said — the author of a GOP budget proposal that would make deep cuts in federal programs and grant $5 trillion in tax breaks, much of which would go to wealthy Americans.

“He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision,” Obama said of Ryan in Dubuque. “I just happen to fundamentally disagree with his vision. My opponent and his friends in Congress, they believe that if you just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and big banks, and then you give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, that that will automatically lead to jobs and prosperity for ordinary families. And I’m not exaggerating here, that’s their basic economic plan.”

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BURN RATE | Obamas kampanj spenderar mer pengar än vad man får in. Poängen är att hinna definiera Mitt Romney så tidigt som möjligt i väljarnas ögon.

Ett exempel på detta är tv-reklamen ”The Choice”.

För en gångs skull är det Barack Obama som talar direkt till väljarna. Videon saknar de vanliga ljudeffekterna och bilderna som man brukar använda för att få motståndaren att framstå i negativ dager.

I stället talar presidenten direkt till väljarna. Man vill att tittarna skall förstå att valet handlar om att välja mellan två tydliga politiska alternativ.

Romneys kampanj vill i sin tur att valet skall bli en folkomröstning om presidentens skötsel av ekonomin. Man vill att väljarna skall fundera över om man verkligen har fått det bättre rent ekonomiskt under Obamas tid i Vita huset.

Peter Nicholas och Danny Yadron skrev redan i juli i The Wall Street Journal:

The president spent twice as much as Mr. Romney in June, as his campaign purchased more TV ads, paid more than twice as many employees and spent millions of dollars on public-opinion polls, federal records show.

June was the second month in a row that Mr. Obama’s campaign dipped into the red, while the president was outraised by the Romney campaign. In May and June combined, the Obama campaign spent 20% more than it took in, records show.

Obamakampanjen har både försökt förstärka och tona ner bilden av att man spenderar mer än man får in.

Å ena sidan vill man lugna ner oroade demokrater med att pengaflödet är en del av strategin.

Mark Halperin, Time, skriver:

Meanwhile, Obama headquarters in Chicago dismissed the criticism (rattled derision from Republicans and nervous anxiety from Democrats) over its hefty summertime budgets for TV ads and personnel: spending now, Obama aides say, will have a big impact in their efforts to define Romney, while attempts to reach voters in the fall through paid messaging may not work…

Å andra sidan kan det vara bra med lite oro i leden för att få anhängarna att lätta på plånboken.

Michael D. Shear, bloggen The Caucus i The New York Times:

“My upcoming birthday next week could be the last one I celebrate as President of the United States, but that’s not up to me — it’s up to you,” Mr. Obama said to his supporters in an e-mail late last week.

Accompanying the e-mail was a link to donate in exchange for a chance to attend his “birthday get-together” in August.

The dire hand-wringing is partly tactical for a campaign that is likely to have more than enough money to execute its strategy. By appearing desperate, Mr. Obama’s campaign hopes it can persuade more of its supporters to donate now, rather than later.

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NYHETER: James Fallows skriver i senaste The Atlantic om Googles försöka att tillsammans med traditionell media arbeta fram nya affärsmodeller som kan rädda den seriösa journalistiken.

”Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.”

Detta är goda nyheter för all som inser att vitala demokratier kräver fri och obunden media som kan och har råd att granska och rapportera vad som pågår i maktens korridorer.

[H]aving helped break the news business, the company wants to fix it—for commercial as well as civic reasons: if news organizations stop producing great journalism, says one Google executive, the search engine will no longer have interesting content to link to. So some of the smartest minds at the company are thinking about this, and working with publishers, and peering ahead to see what the future of journalism looks like. (…)

The challenge Google knows it has not fully coped with is a vast one, which involves the public function of the news in the broadest sense. The company views the survival of “premium content” as important to its own welfare. But [company’s CEO Eric] Schmidt and his colleagues realize that a modernized news business might conceivably produce “enough” good content for Google’s purposes even if no one has fully figured out how to pay for the bureau in Baghdad, or even at the statehouse. This is the next challenge, and a profound one, for a reinvented journalistic culture. The fluid history of the news business, along with today’s technological pattern of Google-style continuous experimentation, suggests that there will be no one big solution but a range of partial remedies. Google’s efforts may have bought time for a panicked, transitional news business to see a future for itself and begin discovering those new remedies and roles.

This April, the company’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, delivered a keynote address to the major news editors’ convention, telling them “we’re all in this together” and that he was “convinced that the survival of high-quality journalism” was “essential to the functioning of modern democracy.” (…)

But after talking during the past year with engineers and strategists at Google and recently interviewing some of their counterparts inside the news industry, I am convinced that there is a larger vision for news coming out of Google; that it is not simply a charity effort to buy off critics; and that it has been pushed hard enough by people at the top of the company, especially Schmidt, to become an internalized part of the culture in what is arguably the world’s most important media organization. Google’s initiatives do not constitute a complete or easy plan for the next phase of serious journalism. But they are more promising than what I’m used to seeing elsewhere, notably in the steady stream of “Crisis of the Press”–style reports. The company’s ultimate ambition is in line with what most of today’s reporters, editors, and publishers are hoping for—which is what, in my view, most citizens should also support. (…)

The problem Google is aware of involves the disruption still ahead. Ten years from now, a robust and better-funded news business will be thriving. What next year means is harder to say. I asked everyone I interviewed to predict which organizations would be providing news a decade from now. Most people replied that many of tomorrow’s influential news brands will be today’s: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the public and private TV and radio networks, the Associated Press. Others would be names we don’t yet know. But this is consistent with the way the news has always worked, rather than a threatening change. (…) The news business has continually been reinvented by people in their 20s and early 30s (…) Bloggers and videographers are their counterparts now. If the prospect is continued transition rather than mass extinction of news organizations, that is better than many had assumed. It requires an openness to the constant experimentation that Google preaches and that is journalism’s real heritage.

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MEDIA: Trots segern med sjukvårdsreformen har president Barack Obamas administration haft stora problem att hantera media. 

Team Obamas briljanta kommunikationsförmåga under presidentvalskampanjen har inte förvandlats till en lika lysande förmåga att kommunicera från Vita huset. 

En intressant analys av problemen kan man läsa i en essay – Non-stop News – av Ken Auletta i tidskriften The New Yorker.

As criticism of the President has escalated, the Administration has at times seemed affronted by the impertinence and the haste of coverage. ”This White House does expect a fairly deferential press”, Jonathan Weisman, the Wall Street Journal’s White House correspondent, said. ”They are fairly thin-skinned. Of course, all White House s are. But in the Bush White House there was an expectation that they would not get a positive press. I suspect that the positive press Obama got in the campaign shaped his perceptions.”

Även Andrew Stephen – ”US Editor” för New Statesman – har skrivit om problemen i Vita huset;

We are witnessing a self-annihilating battle between Obama the Candidate, largely the creation of 55-year-old David Axelrod, the cynical, dream-peddling public relations man from Chicago who is unhappily ensconced as a ”senior adviser” in the White House, and Obama the President, as exemplified by the ruthless and pragmatic [Vita husets chief-of staff Rahm] Emanuel, a Washington insider who also served as a senior adviser in the Clinton administration 17 years ago before becoming a congressman himself (also representing Chi­cago, incidentally).

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TIDNINGSDÖDEN: Alla med intresse för kvalitetstidningar följer noga The New York Times utveckling.

Att The New York Times fortfarande är USA:s – och för all del även världens – absolut bästa morgontidningarna betyder inte att tidning saknar problem. Tvärt om.

Tidningen brottas precis som alla andra kvälls- och morgontidningar med stora ekonomiska problem och den hårda konkurrensen inom tidningsvärlden och Internet. Till detta kommer att NYT har haft sin beskärda del av skandaler som urholkat förtroendet för journalistiken både internt och externt.

En av dessa skandaler beskrivs ingående av Seth Mnookin i boken Hard News: Twenty-One Brutal Months at the New York Times and How They Changed the American Media. Mnookin beskriver hur en av tidningens journalister – Jayson Blair – lyckades få en lång rad fabricerade artiklar publicerade innan någon reagerade på de varningssignaler som trots allt fanns från första början.

Men främst handlar problemen om dålig ekonomi och knivskarp konkurrens. Mark Bowden har beskrivit problemen för Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. som är tidningens fjärde generation publisher och ägare;

For 10 years or more, Arthur’s signature phrase about this seismic change in the news business, the one he repeats to show that he gets it, has been platform agnostic (…) The phrase itself reveals limited understanding. When the motion-picture camera was invented, many early filmmakers simply recorded stage plays ( …)  But the true pioneers realized that the camera was more revolutionary than that. It freed them from the confines of a theater. Audiences could be transported anywhere (…) To be platform agnostic is the equivalent of recording stage plays.

“When I first heard Arthur talk about being platform agnostic, I knew he was trying to suggest that he was not stuck in a newspaper mind-set,” says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. “But I thought there were two problems with that language. One is, agnostics are people who don’t—who aren’t sure what they believe in. That’s the first problem. And the second problem is, in practice, there is no such thing as being platform agnostic (…) If you really want to move to the Internet in a serious way, you need to change the culture of a news organization and decide that the Internet is the primary new thing. Platform agnostic means that all the online companies are going to zoom past you, because they’re going to exploit that technology while you’re sitting there thinking (…) You need to be, in fact, not platform agnostic but platform orthodox (…)”

Arthur’s argument, or his hope, is that the quality of the Times’s brand will prevail, that quality independent journalism is so obviously valuable that serious readers will continue to seek it out. He has been offering the Times content for free because experience has shown that subscriber-only stories leak—they are copied and e-mailed and rapidly proliferate for free anyway—and because Internet users, accustomed to getting information for free, are loath to pay for it. Do you remove yourself from the global conversation if you wall yourself off? Can you make enough money on subscriptions to survive? The Wall Street Journal has gone in this direction online, while offering some free content. The jury is still out. Arthur has continued to provide Times content for free, but is considering reversing direction. His brand remains the best in the business, but that hasn’t solved his revenue problems. Journalism costs. The revenue from Internet advertising is still only about a tenth of total revenue. Even if those millions of brief hits on nytimes.com continue to swell, the Times itself may be in bankruptcy court long before the Web site generates enough revenue to replace what Arthur has lost.

 In fairness, no one has the answer for newspapers.

Se även: End Times, Michael Hirschorn (The Atlantic, januari/februari 2009); Rupert To Internet: It´s War!, Michael Wolff (Vanity Fair, november 2009) och Slim’s Time, Lawrence Wright (The New Yorker, 1 Juni 2009)

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Losers av Michael LewisVITA HUSET: I USA finns en bokgenre som knappast finns i Sverige – reportageböcker av journalister eller politiska veteraner som beskriver en valkampanjs alla turer. En av de mer underhållande är Losers: The Road to Everyplace but the White House.

Författaren Michael Lewis har i boken koncentrerat sig på att beskriva förlorarna i 1996 års valkampanj. Den slutgiltiga segaren – president Bill Clinton – spelar bara en högst undanskymd roll. Istället är det de republikanska kandidaternas inbördes strider för att bli sitt partis presidentkandidat som är Lewis huvudpersoner.

I Losers får vi naturligtvis stifta bekantskap med alla de kända och okända kandidaterna: Pat Buchanan, Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander, Alan Keyes, Dick Lugar, Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes och John McCain. Men framför allt är det den minst kände och den mest orutinerade Morry Taylor, av sig själv kallad The Grizz, som får störst utrymme i berättelsen.

Den kandidat som verkar vara minst motiverad är Bob Dole. Han framstår inte ens som motiverad av att framstå som motiverad. Trots detta är det just Dole som slutligen tar hem spelet på den republikanska spelhalvan;

A dozen times I listen to his talk, pen poised idly over paper. Nothing. Not a thought, not an image, not a quote. It takes me a while to figure out why this is, but then it strikes me: Bob Dole isn’t running for president. The concept of Bob Dole is running. The man himself has subcontracted out all the dirty work to people who make their careers managing reality for politicians. That is why he is referring to himself in the third person. He isn’t there, at least not in any meaningful sense. Every Dole speech leaves me feeling that a man like this runs for presidency not because he thinks he should be president. He thinks no one else should be president, so it might as well be him.

För den som läser Losers blir genast påmind om den tecknade tv-serien Simpsons. I ett av avsnitten parodieras Bob Dole som politikern som hela tiden monotont upprepar mantrat ”Bob Dole, Bob Dole, Bob Dole”. För att slutligen somna stående.

Att president Bill Clinton skall ta hem slutstriden är så uppenbart för alla journalister och professionella analytiker att Michael Lewis inte ens bryr sig om att alltför noga följa den slutgiltiga valkampanjen.

Detta kan låta som om Losers skulle vara en tråkig bok men det motsatta. Två citat från The Wall Street Journal respektive Newsday kan här få stå som bevis på motsatsen;

Hilarious, genuinely funny, and insightful, the work of a truly gifted writer.

Unveils the pomposities and absurdities of spinning campaign life with wit and restraint, with a touch, in other words, that is all the more devastating for its lightness.

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