Politics

Fact-Checkers Bypass Spin Alley

"When Jon Stewart 'busted' Spin Alley [the post-debate media feeding frenzy where campaign officials talk up their candidates for journalists] for in his famous confrontation with the Crossfire people (the most downloaded video clip ever, at the time) he was hitting on a practice that had grown more and more disreputable. As a designated spot for the practice of spin, the Alley only fell from legitimacy when an alternative practice rose up and called out to conscience of the press.

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Providing Moral Support (Not Tank Armor)

The Washington, DC-based public affairs firm Susan Davis International "is handling the Pentagon's 'America Supports You' campaign to drum up support for the nearly 150,000 U.S. forces that may be occupying Iraq during the next four years," reports O'Dwyer's. "America Supports You," a Defense Department campaign, will run through May 2005.

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Rallying to Confirm (Insert Name Here)

The Hill reports on a "sophisticated, multipronged plan" to support whomever George Bush nominates to the Supreme Court, after the expected resignation of ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist. The plan includes "pre-emptive" press releases, "to deflect liberal efforts to define the nominee," and public statements and floor speeches by Senate Republicans.

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Censoring Private Ryan

"As American soldiers were dying in Falluja, some Americans back home spent Veteran's Day mocking the very ideal our armed forces are fighting for freedom," writes Frank Rich. "Ludicrous as it sounds, 66 ABC affiliates revolted against their own network and refused to broadcast 'Saving Private Ryan.' The reason: fear.

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Getting Out the Quid Pro Quo

"Washington lobbyists are being deployed in droves to tight congressional races and presidential battleground states around the country," reports The Hill. "Both parties have been recruiting," but some Republican officials have set "participation quotas, requiring [firms] to supply a certain number of volunteers." The pressure is high; "People who didn't go may be looked on negatively" after the election, said one lobbyist.

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Journalists Unhappy With Election Coverage

The Committee of Concerned Journalists, a consortium of reporters, editors, producers, publishers, owners and academics, has surveyed its own membership about the quality of election campaign coverage this year, and the results aren't pretty. Nearly three quarters of respondents gave the press a C, D or F grade, and only 3% gave an A. By large majorities they felt the news media has become sidetracked by trivial issues, has been too reactive and has focused too much on campaign strategy rather than substance.

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