Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jackass Journalism

Memeorandum informs us of the story of the day. Hard to choose from the many posts and stories on the topic, but we'll go with the Dave Weigel description:
"The video sting artiste publishes the latest work from his shop -- a covertly taped interview with then-NPR Foundation senior VP for development Ron Schiller and current senior director of institutional giving Betsy Liley. Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar posed as members of a wealthy Muslim education foundation "founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood," and taped the NPR representatives -- largely Schiller -- answering them with exactly what they wanted to hear... Schiller is a professional fundraiser, not a journalist. His pandering to the group is actually sort of masterful."
The Dividist cannot get too worked up about this latest episode of Jackass Journalism* - The art of pranking political opposition in the hope of getting stupid and embarrassing quotes on tape (with extra credit for reinforcing your teams worst stereotypes of the other team).

The Dividist puts this particular clip in the same category as the prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. What did we learn from these two "expose's"? We learn that politicians and professional fundraisers are willing to pander and pretend to agree with whatever comes out of the mouth of potential contributors with big checkbooks. The Dividist is shocked... shocked. Oh - we also learned that Ron Schiller is a dick.

The only potential policy issue here is the federal funding of NPR. The Dividist does not see how or why this should have any impact on that debate. It is interesting that Schiller says NPR would be "far better off"without federal funding, but he also said he was speaking only for himself and not NPR. The Dividist does not think there is any particularly good reason for taxpayers to fund this organization. But in terms of the actual level of funding, it is meaningless and a distraction from the very real budget crisis we are facing. The Dividist would far prefer to see our legislators working to solve the real problem - entitlements, rather than debating the merits of funding NPR, which does not rise to the level of a pimple on the ass of our budget crisis.

The Dividist expects the media and Congress will get to the real issues eventually. Whether they want to or not.

*BTW - the Dividist believes he is the first to use the term "Jackass Journalism" in this context and insists on attribution whenever and wherever it is used from now until forever. Yes you can google some random earlier uses, but this is the right name for the O'keefe style of Journo -kaf- whatever.

Cross-posted at Donklephant.

Divided and Balanced.™
Now that is fair.


Tully said...

Hey, half a billion here and half a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money!

Point being that while you certainly can't balance the budget on the back of NPR/PBS/CPB, neither should it be immune to the ax when times are tight. (Ditto with Harry Reid's beloved National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which one suspects would do just fine without federal funding.)

If our legislators can't develop the backbone to cut back luxuries in tight times, how the hell do we expect them to develop the backbone necessary to reform entitlements? Nor would ending public subsidies for NPR kill it off. Over 80% of their funding comes from non-governmental sources sources.

mw said...

You'll get no argument from me. It is just that after having the bejeezus scared out of me reading the Meeker report, I don't have the patience to worry about mouse-nut programs when we ares staring at a fiscal disaster withing a few years.

I did follow the links back to the Elko Cowboy Poetry gathering website. Odd thing - while there is a lot about the event, there is no actual written poetry anywhere on the site that I can find. Just wanted to see if we were getting our money's worth. I think that is fitting cautionary tale of what happens when the feds throw money at anything. Even a cowboy poetry festival.

No matter, Mark Steyn fills in the Cowboy poetry gap:

An ol’ cowpoke went ridin’ out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
When all at once he spied a posse from the GOP
A-hangin’ from that ol’ mesquite his fed’ral subsidy

His pen was still a-fire and he knew how to spell “git”
But an ol’ paint can’t outride a trillion-dollar deficit
If only Harry Reid can head ’em off at that there pass
‘Cuz he hasn’t finished paying off creative-writing class

Yipp-ki-o yippi-ki-ay
Cow Poets On The Dole
Yipp-ki-o yippi-ki-ay
Cow Poets On The Dole…

Tully said...

while there is a lot about the event, there is no actual written poetry anywhere on the site that I can find

More cogently, you won't find their financial statements either. If they're consistently getting the attendance they report, they don't need federal money, they should be showing a comfortable break-even at worst. Betcha a decent cigar the money goes pretty directly to staff salaries at the Center. And they seem to have a pretty fair-size staff, considering.

I like the term Jackass Journalism for this stuff, but I think it plays a large and rather useful role, and I'd not dismiss it out of hand as unimportant. Stuff like this plays directly to the Great Middle who decide elections.

mw said...

I guess I'm coming across as dismissive, but there is certainly no denying how impactful this stuff can be. Look what happened to ACORN, Governor Walker's approval flipped almost to the second he took that call from Fake Koch, and they're still dropping like flies over at NPR.

Jackass does not necessarily carry a negative connotation in this context. The central defining characteristic of these episodes is the "prank". Which is the same core of the movie series "Jackass". Since they've now made three of them, with no end in sight, someone must like the notion of Jackass pranks.

I'm thinking that, besides being based on jackass prank, an additional criteria for qualifying as "Jackass Journalism", is that there must be an obvious jackass on both sides of the camera (or the phone line).

In any case, as you may know, I am deeply envious and have issues to work out over the fame and fortune you have achieved by coining the phrase "Comparative Political Demonology".

I just want a catch-phrase I can call my own.