Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Andy Barr: Hack Journalism 101 (Part 1)

I'm sitting at Whole Foods listening to some good music on a warm spring day. (I know, but there just aren't many blogger-friendly establishments with free WiFi that don't attract liberals. Besides, they are a whole lot more capitalist than they let on.) Palin has come and gone, leaving in her wake mostly honest press coverage (for once), with one glaring exception: this horribly flawed article by Politico's Andy Barr. Frankly, I'm surprised that Politico hasn't bothered to print retractions. If I were a reputable news agency, I would insist that my reporters get the basic facts of their stories straight. I'm surprised no one has called for Andy Barr's resignation in this latest episode of media malpractice. Not only did Barr completely embarrass himself with this excuse for reporting, but he dug the hole even further on May 10th with another disingenuous article about Palin's poll numbers. Since the list of Barr's transgressions here is already pretty long, we'll deconstruct the second article in Part 2. In this episode, we take you deep inside the dark heart of hack journalism by wading through the demented inner working of Andy Barr's "brain", or whatever organ it is that resides inside his skull. Look at that Andy, I can use quotes to mock someone too!

The article starts out with an innocuous enough title: "Sarah Palin's pragmatic moment". But apparently, Barr has interpreted Palin's new-found pragmatism as a call to redouble his efforts to destroy her career. The article gradually deteriorates as you read further. Virtually every sentence is riddled with problems, so let's deconstruct them one by one:
Sarah Palin outlined a more detailed foreign policy agenda Monday night than she had before, arguing the mission that killed Osama bin Laden perfectly exemplifies a proper use of American force.
Why not just say that Palin outlined a concrete policy? According to lamestream media doctrine, Palin is never allowed to get anything right on foreign policy, so it was only "more detailed than before". Moreover, Palin did not merely "argue" that the mission exemplified a proper use of American force, she won the argument. Unless, of course, Barr would like to disagree with the President, the Democrats, the GOP, and virtually every American other than a few loons on the left who somehow think that taking out bin Laden equates to a violation of the chimerical construct of "international law". Heavens! The delicate sensibilities of terrorist sympathizing Pakistani officials might be offended that we did not first seek their approval before going after bin Laden (at which time, of course, bin Laden would have mysteriously disappeared). No Andy, Palin articulated a more solid foreign policy than I have heard from any other potential presidential candidate, including Obama, and knocked it out of the park.

Next sentence:
Palin had been circling around for a semblance of a concrete foreign policy philosophy in recent weeks, seeking out opportunities to attack President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya.
No Andy, Palin was not aimlessly wandering around in left field searching for a viable foreign policy to attach her name to. And it was not a "semblance". The woman has a brain. She was slowly and thoughtfully analyzing America's position in the world, further complicated by Obama's poorly thought out lark in Libya, in order to craft just the right foreign policy for these perilous times. Nor was she "seeking out opportunities to attack President Barack Obama's decision to intervene in Libya". (Note the overbearing emphasis on Obama's title, for a president who hasn't accomplished much: Obama, the President, or President Obama would have sufficed). Palin criticized the President's boneheaded bungling of our, um, "kinetic military action" in Libya, because, well, it was boneheaded and as a woman who cares about our foreign policy and our troops it was incumbent upon her to present a better option to the American people.

Sentence 3:
But in the wake of bin Laden’s killing, Palin shied away from attacks on the president – she didn’t even mention him by name – and instead articulated her own “common sense” spin on classic realist foreign policy.
Palin isn't some coward who "shies away" from attack on the President. But besides that, didn't Barr just criticize Palin for attacking the President? Seriously, this man is schizophrenic. Barr writes that Palin "didn't even mention him by name", which obscures the fact that she did mention him, just not by name.  Frankly, Bush's foreign policies deserve more credit than he does for getting Osama - if Obama had his way we would not have obtained the intelligence which led to his demise. The quotation marks around "common sense" are obviously unnecessary, and there is more spin coming from Barr than Palin. I surmise that if you were to take a poll, upwards of 80% of Americans would agree with foreign policy outlined by Palin.

Let's go paragraph by paragraph, in a (mostly futile) effort to speed things up:
The former Alaska governor riled the crowd at a military appreciation rally here with patriotic sentiments and shows of support for American forces. “You tell ‘em Sarah!” a particularly emphatic man within earshot of her kept shouting in response to each blanket statement of support for those who serve.
"Riled"? How about, "thrilled"? You can literally here the spittle dripping off of Barr's lips as he poo-poohs "patriotic sentiments and shows of support for American forces". I guess he hates America. The disdain he feels for average Americans rolls of his tongue as he quotes the "emphatic" man who "kept shouting",  "You tell 'em Sarah!". God forbid that one of the unwashed masses should agree with this woman's support for our troops. Because of course, these "blanket statements" are clearly so "hoi polloi". You can imagine Barr frantically trying to avoid contact with these lesser mortals and scrambling to get back to his caviar in New York, except that I'm fairly certain Barr phoned it in, as I did not see him in the press section.

After thumbing his nose at the "pep rally" feel of the event which was an "odd setting" for Palin's foreign policy statement (elitist for "not on NBC"), Barr finally gets to the heart of the article: outright lies.
Only a few hundred people came to Colorado Christian University just outside Denver to hear her speak – and those who did seemed more interested in Palin’s platitudes than policy.
This is a false statement, and factually incorrect. Barr should print a retraction, or better yet resign. The tickets sold out almost immediately, and overflow seating was arranged outside so more tickets could be sold. The overflow tickets sold out promptly as well. The place was packed, with the Denver Post reporting that the event was attended by "about 1,000 people". Moreover, Palin had no "platitudes", as she meant every single world that came out of her mouth. Regardless of whether or not Palin's foreign policy was scripted, teleprompted, and stuffed chock full of applause lines like the speeches of our feeble Commander-in-Chief, every person in attendance was just as interested in her foreign policy as they were in any other aspect of the speech. Especially given the flak she has taken from the left for supposedly being weak on foreign policy.

With a healthy dose of good ol' fashioned Palin-bashing (her foreign policy is merely a "folksy" version of the Palin doctrine, she was "dismissing" nation-building), Barr finally chokes out the five points of the Palin doctrine. He seems to be having a hard time finding anything to criticize by the time he is finished, instead resorting to bland statements: "as her fourth point, [quote]", etc.

Then, in an amazing new feat of double standards, Barr suddenly has the gall to claim that this woman who he has led us to believe is a mental lightweight is now articulating a policy which gives her a "clever escape clause" to criticize Obama's intervention in Libya. As if one needs to find a reason to justify criticizing the latest great crusade of teh One. And of course her criticism, "as she said", is that Obama acted too slowly. Got that people!!!11!l! Andy Barr does NOT think Obama acted too slowly. That was Palin's idea. Nothing to do with it. Are we clear, potential employers? Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one. And he did NOT call the mission "ill-defined". That was Palin, again.

How dare the woman be "celebratory and upbeat" over the killing of bin Laden? This whole thing, of course, amounts to nothing more than a violation of the sovereign territory of Pok-ee-stan, which oh-so-augustly gave a wink and a nod to the mastermind of world terrorism hiding out a block or two from that country's version of West Point.

The gratuitous use of quotes continues for a while, before even that fails to contain Barr's allergic reaction to Palin.
Palin, typically eager to be critical in her assessments of the president, only directed one question at the administration, expressing curiosity over bin Laden’s burial at sea.
Again, why does this joker still have a job? He is now criticizing Palin for not criticizing Obama enough, after bashing Palin for criticizing Obama. At this point, all you can do is laugh.
Palin demonstrated a seriousness Monday that many Washington pundits would posit she lacks, while her speech and the crowd in attendance showed off the impressive strengths and glaring weaknesses in her political brand.
I really can't see why Barr actually feels the need to admit that Palin demonstrated the seriousness she needed to demonstrate in order to be a formidable candidate given everything else he just said, but maybe he thinks he needs to alert Obama to what is just over the horizon. And of course, he makes up the "glaring weaknesses in her political brand" that were supposedly "showed off" at the event (no clue what he's referring to there) in order to cover for his momentary lapse in snark.

Back to the lies:
The small crowd didn’t even completely fill the bleachers. And though the event was ostensibly a celebration of the troops, it felt more like a B-list conservative gathering – replete with booths for little-recognized social conservative groups, iconic imagery of Ronald Reagan, and of course dozens of copies of Palin’s two books. One of the small university’s music instructors had prepared an original trumpet composition to commemorate Palin’s visit. And the National Anthem was sung by what could have been a barbershop quartet were it not for the odd variances in octave.
This is false. The crowd most certainly filled the bleachers, and here is the photo evidence to prove it (via Tea Party Brewing on facebook).
There was overflow seating outside too. How does he do it without batting an eyelash? Perhaps he's a sociopath; I've heard that they can lie without compunction or remorse.

The rest of the paragraph is just as bad. I was told that Ken Buck and Jane Norton were both there: B-list conservatives? Plenty of other elected officials and activists were in attendance. Ronald Reagan is hardly B-list either. I don't know what Barr has against original trumpet compositions or barbershop quartets. Either Barr is not musically inclined, or, more likely, was not at the event. Memo to Barr: those "variances in octave" are called "harmony". Geez.
The other painfully noticeable aspect of the crowd was the advanced age of the attendees, especially given that Palin was speaking on a college campus.
There you have it folks, straight up. Andy Barr hates old people. Maybe that's why people like him support death panels. The only painfully noticeable aspect here is the number of his misstatements.
Still, Palin was pitch perfect for her narrow demographic – seamlessly idealizing the “common sense principles” that she preaches while at the same time elbowing her perceived opponents.
The remnants of his conscience apparently kick in - but not for long. Her demographic is hardly "narrow". Palin has had some of the highest favorable ratings in history, and if they have suffered at all in recent weeks (they haven't - but that's for Part 2), it is because of the relentless false attacks from useful idiots like Barr. And Barr, you've got quit the nerve to complain that those in the media are only "perceived" opponents after writing an article like this. Finally, once again, quotes are not necessary around "common sense principles". God forbid that she should "seamlessly idealize" such idiotic and ignorant ideas. Far better to chuck common sense out the window.
“It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of press,” she said, going on to offer her only semblance of a shot at Obama. “It is the veteran, not the community organizer, who has given us the right to organize.”
I wasn't informed that Obama was a reporter, but in retrospect it makes sense. Perhaps he writes Andy Barr's articles. Freudian slip. Clearly, the crack is kicking in at this point. Earlier, Barr snidely reported that Palin did not correctly acknowledge President Barack Hussein Obama(TM) (peace be upon him) by name. He also claimed her foreign policy was a clever way to continue to attack Obama over Libya. Were these not "semblances" of shots at Obama? Again, he's criticizing Palin for not criticizing Obama.
The group that had watched her detailed speech and then followed Palin out to wish her well was speaking adoringly of her and expressed hope that she will run for president. When one man suggested the Republican Party "show some balls” and place Donald Trump on the ticket with her, the group nodded in approval.
A last parting shot at Palin's fans, who speak "adoringly" of her (earth to media: what about your Obama worship?), a desperate attempt to smear them with the specter of Trump's misguided populism, and we are put out of our misery.

Tune in next week, as we continue to dig deep inside the bowels of the hoity-toity, logically contradictory, ageist, elite liberal hack journalism spewed forth by aspiring Obama sycophants.

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