The Same Rowdy Crowd

Ruminations and Fulminations on Communication


Fox News

Benghazi, We Hardly Knew Ye …

NEW SLAUGHTERAnd then a big wind came and blew it (almost) all away … .

Republicans can’t catch a break. Just when it felt like they were getting somewhere in their now five-year campaign to neuter Barack Obama, another giant tornado rips through Oklahoma and the national press pretty much drops three mega “scandals”  — Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate and AP-gate — and rushes off to do its professional public comforter thing for the storm victims. “How did you feel?”, “We’re sorry for your loss/thankful for your survival”.

Meanwhile, the effect on the “ten times worse than Watergate” episodes left behind in DC will vary, as they should.

Continue reading “Benghazi, We Hardly Knew Ye …”

1st and 20 – Romney Drops Back, Goes Deep…

The classic “Hail Mary” pass is a desperation play in the last seconds of the game when the only chance of victory is to wind up and heave the ball into the endzone with the hope that one of your receivers will miraculously come down with the ball and the win.

That said, there are lots of Hail Marys that are thrown much earlier in the game, usually when one team starts to feel the pressure of the clock, is down by a touchdown or so and concludes its game plan isn’t working.

Make no mistake, the Romney campaign has just thrown the first Hail Mary of the 2012 presidential election.  The ball is still in the air, but I’m not seeing a lot of receivers in the endzone.

I’m referring, of course, to Governor Romney’s doubling down on his now-infamous “fuggedaboutit” to the 47 percent of the country who apparently are only voting for Obama out of a lazy, selfish unwillingness to stop feeding off the work of the decent people.  Rather than try to deny the comments (which would have been well-nigh impossible IMHO) or try to mealy-mouth them away, the campaign and the candidate has embraced them and is trying to make them a fulcrum for a debate about a vision for America.  In the revised version of reality, Governor Romney would have us believe he wasn’t pandering to a crowd of rich folks that some people are worth keeping and some aren’t, but was instead “inelegantly” trying to frame a debate about the future of America.  As noted in the New York Times article on this long bomb, one that actually breaks with some very long-held conservative views:

Mr. Romney stood by his statement in an interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News on Tuesday. “I think a society based upon a government-centered nation where government plays a larger and larger role, redistributes money, that’s the wrong course for America,” he said, adding that he hoped to improve the economy enough that people would be able to get well-paying jobs and rejoin the tax rolls.

So far, I’m not seeing much evidence that the play will work.  Despite a little razzle-dazzle in the form of the release of a 14-year old audio tape in which State Senator Obama goes on the record in support of – horrors! – “redistribution” in pursuit of the apparently un-American goal of “to make sure that everybody’s got a shot” (the comments were made in the context of how do we help the working poor) that has been slavishly flogged by the campaign’s principals and surrogates, the spin doesn’t seem to be working, even among the faithful (here and here and here and here and here just to name a few).

It’s be a few more seconds before the ball lands (uncaught I think).  That’ll make it 2nd and long with the clock at 48 days…and counting.  What’s the next play, Coach?

– Austin

Top 5 Dying Facts That Endanger Obama’s Reelection

A brilliant and widely circulated Chicago Tribune obituary claims that Facts has died. If you haven’t read the whole thing, here is a flavor:

Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power.

But those halcyon days would not last. People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.

… Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion.

Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC.

I’m a starry eyed optimist, so I choose to think Facts is still on life support hoping for a miracle recovery. But if the President and his team can’t successfully breathe life back into five key Facts that are currently on life support, it’s difficult to see how he can win in November.

Fact #1: Obama opted for a private health insurance reform model developed by Mitt Romney and other conservatives, rather than an insurance plan run by government.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Only 25% of people who took the Kaiser health reform quiz understood that Obama’s health reforms will not “create a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans.”

• Implications of Death: GOP parrot trainer Frank Luntz has commanded his cockatiels to repeat the phrase “government takeover of health care” for a very sound political reason, because market research shows that is a compelling reason for moderate swing voters to oppose health care reform. The more swing voters believe that falsehood, the less they like Obamacare and Obama.

Fact on life support.
Fact #2: Bush policies and the economic downturn under Bush were the most powerful causes of the ballooning national debt, and Romney wants to extend those Bush policies.

• Fact on Life Support: Out of twelve issues, there is only one issue where voters say Romney would do a better job than Obama – handling the deficit. Voters currently believe Bush disciple Romney is the best person to tackle the debt that Bush policies largely created.

• Implications of Death: The size of the debt is especially concerning to moderate swing voters, so getting blamed for causing that problem badly hurts the President’s prospects of wooing that key constituency.

Fact #3: Obama’s stimulus package of tax cuts and investments helped ease the pain and damage done by the Great Recession.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Over half of independents (56%) believe the stimulus didn’t make any difference.

• Implications of Death: The central issue of the campaign is the economy, stupid. If swing voters don’t believe Obama was effective on the issue that concerns them the most, look out.

Fact #4: In terms of private sector job creation, things have gotten significantly better during Obama’s time in office than they were under Bush and the the Bush policies Romney proposes to resurrect.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Three-fourths (75%) of independents believe that the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same, and 77% of independents believe the economy is still in recession.

• Implications of Death: Even if most voters blame Bush for the economic meltdown, as most still do, according to polls, it’s difficult to see how swing voters who believe that things are still headed in the wrong direction will vote to rehire the incumbent President.

Fact #5: In the Obama years, taxes for the middle class were near historic lows.

Fact on life support.
• Fact on Life Support: Eighty-five percent of independent voters incorrectly believe taxes on the middle class either increased or have not changed.

• Implications of Death: Independent swing voters vote their pocketbooks, and oppose paying more in taxes. If they perceive that they were paying high taxes in the middle of a recession, the Democrat in charge will get the lion’s share of the blame, because Democrats are usually presumed to be advocating for higher taxes.

Of course, there are many other falsehoods hurting Obama. Little things like he is a foreigner, Muslim, socialist designing death panels to kill off your loved ones.

But in a year when the economy is the top issue, and with the health reform bill about to get hot again after the Supreme Court rules, these are the five dying Facts that are hurting Obama the most with swing voters. Team Obama needs to resuscitate good old Fact, or Obama’s political career will perish with him.

– Loveland

Pawlenty of Desperation

The other day, Minnesota Public Radio noted that former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is trying out a faux southern accent on the Presidential campaign trail. For instance, MPR cited a piece in the New York Times:

The knock on Mr. Pawlenty, according to conversations with voters, is that his speeches sound sincere but do not always sizzle. At a faith forum last week in Iowa, he displayed vigor. But the next day at the Statehouse, the talk among several Republicans was that it seemed he had suddenly developed a Southern accent as he tried connecting to voters by speaking louder and with more energy.

The political blog of Radio Iowa heard it too and noted, “Pawlenty seems to be adopting a Southern accent as he talks about his record as governor.” As he spoke of the country’s challenges, he dropped the letter G, saying: “It ain’t gonna be easy. This is about plowin’ ahead and gettin’ the job done.”

Ever since I heard about this, I just can’t get this tune out of my head:

Come-n-listen to a story ’bout a man named Tim.
Poor Governeer left his state a mighty grim.
Then one day he was fixin’ to win it all,
And out of his trap come a bumblin’ “y’all…”
(Dropped “g’s” that is, political gold, real folksy!)

Continue reading “Pawlenty of Desperation”

“Fair & Balanced” is Demonstrably Misleading



I recently reviewed a textbook called MEDIA STUDIES: AN INTRODUCTION
by eminent film scholar Robert Kolker. I don’t expect the Rowdies to rush out and buy the text so let me summarize. The work posits we not only create the media, they also create us. We mediate each other and the messages that pass between and among us. Media studies is, in part, the examination of those messages, the texts within the contexts.

One interesting proposition put forth by Kolker was this: Television news– and local news in particular–grabs and keeps its viewers’ attention through the nightly generation of fear.

Case in point: on Monday night’s local news, two of the top three stations in the Twin Ciities led with the ol’ “if it bleeds, it leads” approach. The story line had something to do with three teens being charged with murder? — or — was it the murder of three teens? Or two out of three teens now murder someone? Something like that.

If I sound flippant about these “facts,” it’s because I (as a viewer) never really got past the word “MURDER” in the lead story. Add the words “THREE..TEENAGERS” to the code word “MURDER” and my fright complex kicks in big time.

How does this play into the local news team (which, by the way, has been so Magid-ized that every news team in any city across the country looks and acts the same)? Well, after scaring us to death with details of the blood, guts and gore, the team reassures us that “We’re keeping an eye on this story for you.” Yes, we are your EYEWITNESS NEW TEAM and so much more, viewer.

Not only are we keeping our eyes on this story for you, we are your protector. You, dear viewer, might want to consider staying inside your home, where things are safer, and watch our gaze as we watch over you.

By the end of the half-hour, I am finally given the cue to relax. That’s when the news team begins smiling and joshing again. I can exhale. I’ve lived through what could have been a pretty grim day for me, thanks to knowing EYEWITNESS NEWS is on my side.

(BTW: What does this have to do with Sarah Palin? Absolutely nothing. But the way you hear some news folks hyper-ventilating about her new gig, you would think she crashed a White House reception or put her son in a weather balloon or something equally improbable.

Instead, I tend to agree with this tweeter: @jilevin: “UNEMPLOYED HALF-TERM GOVERNOR HIRED BY FOX NEWS”. Wish her well, people. What’s wrong with her shaking a gazillion dollars out of Rupert Murdoch?)
corporate access nice

FOX and the (News)Hound

It’s darn hard to write a blog during the State Fair, when the news world is slower than a Minnesota Senate recount. But then again, there was this interesting communications-related tidbit in today’s Associated Press briefs.


SAINT PAUL, MN — Former Governor Arne Carlson and former Congressman Tim Penny today announced that they have moved the site of their proposed non-partisan budget summit to the studios of Fox News Network in an attempt to lure Governor Tim Pawlenty into a governance role.

The bipartisan pair of Minnesota elder statesman have been trying for months to convene Minnesota’s top elected leaders to come to grips with the dire long-term fiscal difficulties facing the people of Minnesota. All of Minnesota’s major party officials have agreed to participate in the summit except Governor Pawlenty, who is actively running for President.

Gov. Pawlenty on Minnesota_s Budget Deficit -“Okay, so it’s only about state solvency,” admitted Carlson, Minnesota’s last GOP Governor. “But have we mentioned we now offer a ginormous national audience of conservative primary voters?”

“Heeere Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, Timmy,” added Penny, a former Independence Party candidate for governor and fiscally conservative DFL congressman. “You wouldn’t want us to offer your slot on a prime time national news broadcast to Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee, now would you?”

In the wake of the announcement, Pawlenty is reportedly reconsidering his earlier refusal. However, he is said to be demanding that all mention of “Minnesota” be bleeped from the broadcast.

A boy can dream, can’t he?

– Loveland

Circumstantial Journalism

myfox-twin-cities-exclusive_-coleman_s-renovation-project-coincides-with-lawsuitWhen a Republican CEO from another state alleges that a Minnesota Republican Senator has received $75,000 in laundered money from a supporter, that allegation is newsworthy. But when the alleged event happens to have occurred in the same time period when the Senator was investing in his home, that strikes me as irrelevant information.

The local Fox affiliate sees it differently. It did a breathless story last night noting that Coleman had been remodeling his home and had encountered a cost overrun at the same time as the cash was allegedly being funneled from Texas-based Deep Marine Technologies to Coleman. Fox’s follow-up story, and the hyped versions of it on places like Huffington Post, are unfair to Coleman. Pointing out the remodeling timing tells us nothing about whether the original allegations are true or false. It is good grist for the conspiracy mongers, but this circumstantial evidence sheds more heat than light.

breaking-news-and-opinion-on-the-huffington-postIn an even bigger stretch, Fox pointed out that the interior designer who worked on the remodeling project was, gasp, a friend and supporter of Coleman. The odd inclusion of this irrelevant fact inferred there was something unsavory about that. Am I missing something? Is there something illegal or unethical about people hiring friends and supporters for home projects? If so, lots of us are guilty of the same crime.

Holy hyperventilation. The Texas CEO’s allegations are very serious, and reporting that actually helps us understand whether the allegations are true or false is welcomed. But reporters should stick to evidence directly relevant to the allegations, instead of hyping the allegations with lighter than air motive theories. This didn’t pass the smell test.

– Loveland

internet sales nice

Blog of the Day…

Time to move the countdown clock to a new color.  We’re going to DefCon 2.

I can’t wait for this damned election to be over as I’ll regain about 5 hours of productivity a day; I find myself clicking from link to link to link instead of doing the things people pay me for (I’m available for contract web-surfing if you’re interested).

But, like everything, there’s a silver lining to my predicament as I’ve come across lots of very interesting sites that actually give me hope that this internet thing is going to turn out to be more than just a giant porn distribution system.  One that I’ve tripped over a couple of times is not my favorite political site but it gets my award for best slogan:

News Hounds:  “We Watch FOX So You Don’t Have To”

Not bad.  Not too bad at all.

What sites have you come to rely on for your fix of political intel?  Share with the Crowd; it’s good for the soul.

– Austin direct marketing fine

Sarah Reborn…

America’s favorite moose hunter (c’mon, do you know any others?)  was stepping out a little today, upbraiding the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.  As the New York Times put it,

Ms. Palin made it clear she had not been consulted about the McCain campaign’s decision to pull its ads and campaign operation out of Michigan, a tacit admission that it could not win there. She had found out the morning of the debate, she said, and fired off an e-mail to campaign brass to let them know she was disappointed.

I think it’s a really, really good thing if Governor Palin takes on more campaign management responsibilities in the last 30 days of the campaign.  She has all that executive experience, after all.  Maybe she’ll get them back into California, too.


Ms. Palin made her comments in a Fox News interview with Carl Cameron that is a continuation of the “friendly fire” strategy they’ve adopted for her media engagement.  It worked well again and – surprise – it turns out that when asked the “What do you read?” and “What Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?” questions again, gosh darn it she can answer ’em now.  She implies that she could have answered them during the Couric interviews but she was “filtered.”


I also picked up the repeat of a line from the debate that apparently Ms. Palin has been told to use anytime she finds herself at odds with a McCain position (as she was with Michigan):

Palin said it should surprise no one she disagrees with the McCain on strategy regarding Michigan, saying they are “a team of mavericks. Of course we’re not gonna agree on everything.”

As we used to say in the software business, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

– Austin professional tax software fine

Hannity Misses the Jugular…

…but does find another piece of Governor Palin’s anatomy to attack in Part I of his two-parter with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  Ms. Palin won’t be able to sit for a week due to the ferocity with which Mr. Hannity applied his lips to her cheeks.

To call this interview a softball is an insult to softballs everywhere.  Hell, comparing this interview to anything found in the physical universe would be an insult to the space-time continuum (which is already under assault at CERN).   You’d be more likely to find a molecule of substance in the empty spaces between the stars than in this laugher.

Continue reading “Hannity Misses the Jugular…”

Terrorist Fist Gab

Fox News was recently ruminating and fulminating about non-verbal communications, and asked the question all of America is surely asking: Why is Barack Hussein Obama doing a “terrorist fist jab” with his wife?

Huh? Terrorist fist jab? If that was a terrorist fist jab Barack and Michelle were doing at the Excel last week, America’s schools are even more infected with junior terrorist cells than the Star Tribune’s Katherine Kersten feared.

Obviously Fox didn’t make a serious accusation here, but it’s pretty bizarre to even mention a completely unsubstantiated terrorist-Obama connection.

– Loveland tax masters fine

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