Tigers Having Sex In The Woods (VIDEO) – Part 2

Author’s note: I wasn’t intending on posting this, but in the course of putting together the post about “What Should Tiger Do?” that follows this one, I wrote up the ‘graph of how I came to know of this tomfoolery and even recreated a graphic to illustrate it.  When I was done with the larger post, this stuff no longer fit but I was reluctant to throw away perfectly good content.  As a result, I’m recreating in miniature the same shameless SEO gaming I poke fun at to see if it works.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

– Austin

Marketwatch‘s Jim Bernard, a speaker at David Brauer‘s #ofon gathering about the future of news, noted the Huffington Post had put up an item featuring a video of tigers (not Tiger) mating in a natural setting.  This was enjoyed for what it is – a blatant example of trying to game the search engine algorithms – that has been ridiculed elsewhere as well. It’s particularly fun to note the terms the post is tagged with (see the call-out in the image below), particularly the “green news” add at the end of the list.

It will be interesting to see what the same blatant exploitation of this situation does for us here at the Crowd.

– Austin

Arianna Huffington Gives $1.75 Million for Investigative Journalism

Arianna Huffington, the doyenne of blogging, has made the prospect of investigative journalism a lot brighter. As her blog put it today:

NEW YORK — The Huffington Post said Sunday that it will bankroll a group of investigative journalists, directing them at first to look into stories about the nation’s economy.

The popular blog is collaborating with The Atlantic Philanthropies and other donors to launch the Huffington Post Investigative Fund with an initial budget of $1.75 million. That should be enough for 10 staff journalists who will primarily coordinate stories with freelancers, said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or Web site to use at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post, she said.

Huffington urges other foundations to follow suit in funding collaborative investigative projects. I not only applaud her stepping up and starting this fund but for asking these investigators to look into only one story — the colossal economic disaster we are all witnessing due to government and business negligence, greed, stupidity and criminality.

And I’m proud to see Huffington validating the notion of the common weal by allowing this information to be freely shared. Not only does this benefit cash-strapped publications but– ultimately –the people of the United States. She is directing the content outward, sharing it, and not holding it as an exclusive to her site alone where others must “visit” and perhaps “pay” before viewing.

That is the best use of the democratic form of new media possibilities.

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

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Franken Sense and Blur

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Where's the Franken viewpoint? (Source: startribune.com).
The outlook of the Minnesota U.S. Senate election recount is obviously blurry. The source of much of the confusion is related to how challenged ballots should be characterized during the period before the State Canvassing Board rules on them.

FRANKEN VIEWPOINT. The Franken campaign says their count now shows them 22 votes ahead of Senator Coleman. They say that count assumes that the call the local election judge(s) originally made for each challenged ballot will be upheld by the Canvassing Board. For instance, even if a local election judge originally called a ballot a Coleman vote, and the Franken campaign has challenged that local judge’s original ruling, the Frankenistas’ count reportedly assumes that vote will end up as a Coleman vote.

COLEMAN/MEDIA VIEWPOINT. The Coleman campaign and the major media outlets are counting challenged votes differently. They are using raw data released by the Secretary of State’s office. These data are the most “official” data available, but their use effectively assumes that every challenge will be upheld by the State Canvassing Board. This is certainly a debatable assumption. By this count, the major media outlets and the Coleman campaign show Coleman with a lead of over 300 votes.

Putting aside for a moment the issues of which counting assumption is more reasonable and how the rejected absentee ballots play into all of this, I’ve been surprised and disappointed the Franken campaign’s interpretation of the count has often not been reported by reporters. I’ve seen the Franken count and arguments on liberal blogs, analytical blogs, and Franken campaign emails, but not in many mainstream news stories.

Including the Franken claims makes mainstream news stories more murky, and reporters, for very good reason, strive to give their consumers clarity and certainty. But in this case, the reality is much more blurry than the daily count released by the news media leads the public to believe. Reporters should characterize the Franken count as a “claim,” “contention” or “assertion,” because it can’t currently be verified, but it deserves to be included in the reporting, so Minnesotans are aware of both sides’ viewpoints and rationale.

– Loveland

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Judicial Jujutsu

Lawsuits are flying around the Minnesota Senate race right and left today.

LAWSUIT #1: First, the Huffington Post reports that a lawsuit in Texas against Coleman alleged that a family friend provided $75,000 to the Senator’s family through the friend’s business. If true, that would be a very big deal, but this lawsuit has apparently been withdrawn.

LAWSUIT #2: According to news accounts, Coleman’s has filed a lawsuit alleging he was defamed by Franken, because Franken said Coleman was ranked the fourth most corrupt Member of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Which lawsuit is righteous, and which is frivolous? I have no idea.

It’s worth noting that Coleman has filed similar suits against Senator Paul Wellstone and Attorney General Hubert Humphrey in the waning days of past campaigns, so there’s a fighting chance that this lawsuit may be more about winning in the court of public opinion than winnning in a court of law.

But Franken did seem to make a factual error. Apparently CREW said Coleman was one of the 20 most corrupt Members of Congress (out of 535), a fact Coleman doesn’t seem to dispute. But Coleman does dispute that CREW specifically ranked him fourth.

And lots of crazy lawsuits get filed against incumbents like Coleman in the final week of campaigns, and there is a good chance that the Texas suit lacks merit as well.

Merit aside, I do find this back-and-forth interesting from a public relations standpoint.

First, does it really help Coleman to call in the news media to essentially declare “how dare my opponent say I’ve been named fourth most corrupt, when I’ve only been named as one the 20 most corrupt?!” Is shining the light on a corruption ranking ever a good idea?

Second, if Coleman is innocent, shouldn’t he deny the allegations? Might the mum and run routine (see videoclip above) feed a perception of guilt at a delicate political hour?

Finally, shouldn’t the Star Tribune mention both the pro- and anti-Coleman lawsuits in its coverage? In the current on-line story, only the anti-Franken lawsuit is mentioned.

– Loveland

Post-post postscript: Since the original post, the Star Tribune has published a separate story by investigative reporters Paul McEnroe and Tony Kennedy about the anti-Coleman lawsuit. Hence, the deletion above. The Pioneer Press did a story on the anti-Franken lawsuit, but not the anti-Coleman lawsuit. vat invoice nice

Victoria’s Secret

In a star-studded pro-Norm Coleman NRSC attack ad, ex-Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson paints Al Franken as being unfit for celebrity endorsements, noting “We don’t all write dirty jokes for Playboy.”

True enough. But it’s also worth noting that celebrities don’t all label U.S. Senators as “the anti-Christ,” which is what Ms. Jackson apparently has written about Senator Barack Obama, according to the Huffington Post:

“I don’t want a political label,” she wrote on her website, “but Obama bears traits that resemble the anti- Christ and I’m scared to death that un- educated people will ignorantly vote him into office.”

Later in the posting she wrote: “We must in all seriousness ask if Barack Hussein Obama could be a Muslim terrorist sympathizer or a Marxist mole. His closest friends include Communists, domestic and Muslim terrorists, racists and convicted felons. In his book Audacity of Hope, Barack Hussein Obama says, ‘I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” (emphasis added)

Senator Coleman, with all due respect, this is your character witness?

– Loveland

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Who’s Voting and Who’s Lying?

Note: This long, long, long post started out to make a simple point about the AP/Yahoo poll released this weekend and – like a number of things I’ve done to the readers of this blog – turned into one of those items that will no doubt be used as evidence in my commitment hearings. I can’t imagine anyone will have as much fun reading it as I did writing and researching it, but then again, maybe you lost your copy of Moby Dick or whatever you use to fall asleep with and this can help.  – Austin

Political junkies and others are spending a lot of time these days pondering a couple of seemingly contradictory data points:

  • As has been noted on this very blog, based on history, the Republican party and its candidates ought to be – in the words of Jim Morrison – “down so god damned far that it looks like up to me.”  Specifically, a party presiding over this level of economic disaster is usually flogged in the voting booth (think 1992 and multiply by 4-5).  We’re in the midst of an economic calamity on par with the Depression that brought to office a Democratic administration that remained in power for 20 years.

Similarly, when sitting presidents are unpopular – and no occupant of the Oval Office has ever been this unpopular for this long – his would-be political successors are pretty much toasted in the polls (think 1976 when Jerry Ford lost to Carter and 1980 when Carter lost to Reagan; add them together and multiply by whatever big number you can think of and you’ve got some idea of how bad the George W Bush brand is).

  • Voter registration trends across the country overwhelmingly favor the Democrats.  In state after state, Democratic voter registration has far outpaced GOP efforts, especially in key battleground states.  The Columbus Dispatch, for example, reported that there are a million new Democratic registrations in Ohio since 2004 versus just 356,000 new Republican registrants.  In Florida, Democrats picked up 258,000 registrants in about eight months versus 101,000 for the GOP. In North Carolina, Democrats have added a net-net of 50,000 registered voters over the GOP, 7,500 net-net in New Hamphshire and 13,000 net-net in New Mexico.
  • Voter enthusiasm – interest in voting – also has tended to favor the Democrats this election.  An enthusiastic voter is far more likely to make the effort to go to the polls, to volunteer and donate.  All those factors matter on election day when races are really decided by who turns out their supporters.  In recent elections, the GOP has benefitted from low-turnout elections because they have done a better job of motivating and turnout their ranks.  This is why on election day, all good Republicans are on their knees praying for rain.  This year, though, the motivation edge seems to favor the Donkeys.

This advantage has been at least temporarily offset by the Palin Effect but even if she is an enduring factor (there’s some evidence that the Palin Effect may not be a long-lasting phenomenon), given the voter registration numbers, this is still a positive check in the Dem’s column.

And yet…

Continue reading “Who’s Voting and Who’s Lying?”