Amy Sullivan’s piece on the 2010 census has a big picture of Judd Gregg at the top and begins:
When Republican Senator Judd Gregg announced on Thursday that he no longer wished to be the Commerce Secretary nominee, he said that the decision was based in part on serious disagreements with the Obama White House over the 2010 census.
And Gregg himself backed off the issue in a news conference after he announced his withdrawal, insisting that his concerns over the census were “slight” and refusing to address it further. Nonetheless, the experience has reminded partisans on the left and the right of their investment in the census. The fight to determine how it happens and what the consequences will be has only just begun.
Shorter Amy Sullivan:
The role of the census issue in Gregg’s withdrawl is a red herring and I admit it. Nonetheless, I decided to lede lead with it to sex up a boring he-said, she-said column about a statistical issue I don’t understand.
This really, really bothers me. If the census wasn’t an issue for Gregg, then why the fuck do you lede lead by suggesting it was? How is that not the kind of thing that would get you an “F” in Journalism 101? And why did her editors let it in and then make things worse by putting a big picture of Gregg biting his lip at the top of the article?
Because they can!
You want to see something funnier go check out Amy Sullivan’s post on Swampland purporting that Mormon’s didn’t really give money to Yes on 8 in California. She got her teeth kicked in by the commenters. And yes I got me some too! Talk about ridiculous ledes
Actually, since the lead seems to be introducing questions about the census, it is perfectly valid to start with Gregg as a way of explaining why the issue may have some particular current salience.
I hate you for making me defend Amy Sullivan.
Because that’s the lede that the Republicans want.
Wile E. Quixote
Dude, she’s writing for Time, which is barely a step up over Newsweek. Expecting quality from either publication is a bit much.
Under different circumstances it might be, but given that “Gregg quit because Obama wanted to run the census” is a (discredited) right-wing talking point, I find it very irresponsible.
I will admit that the worst of it is the picture of Gregg on the top, which is not her fault.
If you don’t toss some kerosene on that ember to get it going, then how will anyone notice you?
This isn’t Sullivan’s first go around in the hack-rodeo.
And never discount the pavlovian response these MSMer’s have to the beltway CW. It’s like that dude that constantly states at every pair of boobies who walk by. He. just. can’t. help. it.
Hm. This doesn’t seem that weird to me. If the guy is going to announce that it’s an issue, then later backpedal from that stance, it seems to me that you report that he announced it was an issue, then he later backed off it. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t an issue for him, depends on which statement you take more seriously, no?
It’s a little weird to illustrate a story about the census with his picture, true, but it’s also hard to illustrate population counting methodology.
@El Tiburon: Hey! I told you I was just reading the saying on the t-shirt.
I’m not convinced the census issue was a red-herring, and Sullivan’s dismissal without explanation doesn’t help anything except to prop up her apparent cop-out.
Typical, but hair-pulling maddening.
Excellent post, natch, but "lede" is the noun; "lead" is the verb here you’re looking for….
But it gets her an "A" in "Journalism 103b: Bullshit Articles that Generate Page-views". Hypnotoad will be pleased…
Yeah, but wouldn’t your report the back-off and the statement at the same time, rather than leading with the statement and then burying the back-off in the last paragraph?
Unless you own the paper, or the service, or whatever, if you don’t sleep with the editor, or aren’t related to the publisher, you ALWAYS get edited.
So, if the eitors let it go like this, they did it on purpose. it wasn’t an oversight, a mistake, or any other lie.
It ran that way because that’s the way the bosses wanted it to run…
Didn’t ANY of you ever write for money? Work at a newspaper??? WTF???
It would be better that way, but the story isn’t about him. He’s more of a stand-in for the census controversy. I’m trying to find my outrage here, I’m just flailing a little. Hail Lady of Perpetual Outrage, full of grace, the Countertops are with thee, blessed art thou among blogger-cheerleaders…
Comrade Desert Hussein Rat
Amy Sullivan exists for one purpose only, to point out that there are purported "lefty" columnists, who are just as incoherent, and wrong, as Republican douchebags like William Kristol and George Will.
To paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous quote about Jane Austen and libraries, any editorial page or magazine that does not publish Amy Sullivan is a better magazine, even if it doesn’t publish anything else.
Speaking of which, we’re probably about due for another of her dreadful, cloying, mindbogglingly stupid columns about how the Democratic Party would rule forever if only it threw women’s health and reproductive rights under the bus any day now. Seems like she rolls one of those steaming turds out about every six months.
@woody: Oh bullshit. If the editor is so infallible, let him/her write the damn articles. Editors can be just as sloppy, lazy, and ignorant as the journalists they supervise.
I don’t know if this is all as insidious as the conspiracy theorists would have you believe. If anything, it could be the floating rumor in DC that Gregg dropped out over the census. And Sullivan is letting her bias on the matter taint her reporting heavily. The editor, who probably goes to all the same restaurants and cocktail parties as Sullivan, just happens to have the same mindset and doesn’t see anything wrong with the piece.
Nevermind what the facts say or what the major players proclaim, Sullivan’s job is to harp on DC common wisdom. So you have a lead thick with it. That’s as valid a hypothesis as any.
Comrade Desert Hussein Rat
Neither am I. Make no mistakes about it, there’s few things more important to this country than the census. House Seats, Federal funding, Presidential elections, and so many other things ride on something that seems so simple, and yet is so important.
I normally find myself on the unoutraged side of things with the media (when I’ve been around a while, I may write about how I think Politico is pretty good overall and brace myself for the onslaught), but what bothers me here is that it’s an insidious way or perpetuating a crazy talking point.
OMG, somebody warn John:
Gay snipers are on the loose in WV.
Sez so right here.
@burnspbesq: I will tell you how big this movement is- I live in West Virginia and I heard about it… at Andrew Sullivan’s.
Sounds like Trunch as created bigger "movements" in his litterbox.
The census, or lack of one, is a legitimate issue, and it should be addressed. The deliberate under-counting, or the refusal to correct it, is the issue. If Obama proposes to do something about it, bully for him. If the Repuke’s object, it simply re-emphasizes their anti-democratic position on nearly everything. Let’s kick them for that, constantly.
As to the tame corporate media, they are dying institutions. Let them die quietly, without giving them any more free publicity in the new emerging media. Discuss the issues, not the discussion of the issues, or the personalities involved. That’s what killed the MSM.
What we want, what we need are facts and intelligent analyses of the facts. That’s what preaching to the unconverted will require: Not more talking points or hatchet jobs, opinions of opinions of opinions or media critiques.
I’ll give it some more thought. Is the talking point the idea that Gregg withdrew because of the census? (if anyone actually believes that, oceanfront property in Arizona and all that.) Because the census methodology probably is going to be a real debate.
Republicans annoy me for many reasons, but the most maddening has to be that I actually do respect the Constitution. And the Constitution is fairly clear on census methodology. It is true that the founding fathers could not possibly have conceived of a great many ways of conducting the census, including statistical sampling, but nonetheless they are actually right on that point. It’s the fact that they’ll pick a fight over the constitutionality of census methodology but ignore that of, say, indefinite detention without charge, that is so shamelessly, hacktacularly partisan, and so infuriating.
As if there’s 14,532 newspaper writing gigs available each year ripe for the picking.
We live in a world where nobody would have noticed the Times’ McCain/Lobbyists piece if it didn’t lead "McCain might have slept a lobbyist. And by the way, look at these other shady dealings…"
I wish the Pentagon Propaganda article had led "Donald Rumsfeld might have ties to an Afghani prostitution ring – but we have no proof. What we can prove, however…"
Then maybe someone on TV other than Olbermann might have spent 5 seconds discussing it.
The Politico did a similar thing last week with that fathomlessly stupid story on Obama "dissing" Jessica Simpson. The title of the piece? "Did Obama Dis Jessica Simpson". The second graph? "No, he didn’t".
If they really felt they had to write a story about Barack Obama reading aloud a People magazine cover, couldn’t they at least have titled the damn article "Obama didn’t dis Jessica Simpson". I mean, I still would have read the stupid thing, because I’m an idiot.
Well, don’t worry, the constant repetition of the same question form every two days on the blogs doesn’t really, really bother anybody. Really. No, seriously. Would I be sarcastic about something like this? Would you?
The story was led that way for the same reason the blogs talk about this kind of nonsense. TO ATTRACT ATTENTION.
Jesus H. Christ in an Italian Meatball.
Nobody outside the B&B (beltway and blogs) cares about these things.
Wanna talk about a misleading lede?
Who knew Obama was the Presiden of Israel? WTF?
You are aware that we are on a blog here?
Mmmm, christ-ey italian meatballs!
New from Subway, the Matzo Meatball sub! Available in four and ten inches!
I don’t think the census issue is a Red Herring, and neither was it the deciding factor. I tend to take Gregg basically at his word, that he just wouldn’t be a happy camper carrying out Marxoliberoweenie policies. Maybe the census thing helped wake him from the ego trip he was on at being one of the knights of the round table, but I doubt he is stupid enough to think democrats would let him use the wingnut countem only if we foundem method either. I never read Amy Sullivan, or any of the DC quasi liberal, but, ‘ not if it gets in the way of my career pundits".
@DougJ: He appears to be aware of all Internet traditions.
Particularly astonishing about that is that, presumably, Time writers write using the same inverted pyramid style that any writer for a daily would be using. Putting that backpedaling in the last para is sleazy, but in IP you write with the assumption that the closer to the end things are the more likely they are to be cut. Putting something in at the end that changes the meaning of the article is… boggling.
As far as this faith in editors, I’d be astonished if Time hasn’t been doing the same cutting back on editors as every other print operation.
@John Cole: Yeah, exactly. It was hard to figure out what "Why are you staring at my tits?" said.
Not necessarily. First off, she attended Havard Divinity School, so apparently she never had to take any of those messy journalism classes. Second, writing as a "professional journalist" is no doubt very different than writing as a journalism student. Writing that would get you flunked as a journalism student actually gets you promoted in the real world. This is not unlike the legal profession, where actions that would cause one to fail a professional responsibility class will in the real world of law cause you to become the head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Administration. Third, why are you reading Time?!?! Are you trying to make yourself dumber?!?!
Actually, they’re 3 1/2 and 9 1/2 inches. They cut a little bit off the end.
Amy Sullivan= enough said…
amazing that she can even get a paid job writing as her writing sucks big hairy balls and, on top of that, her endless Jeebus-screeds and how the Dems ought to be all about some Jeebus suck hairy balls dipped in fresh elephant dung.
The Jeebus-botherers can take a looong walk in the wilderness. There is a lot more in this country to be worried about than an adult tooth fairy for a bunch of morons (religious folks) that aren’t grounded in reality.
I like Joe Klein’s posts at Swampland. The Iraq stuff is very good.
Nice to see Amy Sullivan’s hacktasticness extends beyond just concern trolling for evangelicals.
@DougJ: What does that silly question have to do with what I said?
What I said was, nobody but B&B types care about this stuff.
Yes, I’m aware that this is a blog. That’s why I said what I said, to point out that self-referential navelgazing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Even you can get that point, eh?
So what’s next …. Malkin? Cindy Sheehan? I’m puttin’ on the popcorn!
joe from Lowell
You need to ask?
Editor: "OK, what have you got?"
Reporter 1: "I’ve got a story about the use of statistical methods in the census. It’s explosive!"
Editor: "Uh-huh. How ’bout you?"
Reporter 2: "Uh…well…uh…" thinks quickly, because her story is also about statistical sampling in the census. "Uh…you remember that guy who Obama nominated to the Cabinet, but…"
Editor: "Run it." Glares at Reporter 1. "What the hell, honey? Statistics?"
Shawn in ShowMe
@joe from Lowell
That reads like a Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell exchange. Well done.
Obama’s stealing the census from Congress has suddenly awakened and enraged the Republicans. Maybe this will arouse them as well to challenge Obama for stealing the Presidency itself. They surely know he is not an Article 2 “natural born citizen” (which is more than merely being a 14th Amendment “citizen”) by virtue of either Obama’s birth to a dad of Kenyan/British citizenship or birth in Kenya itself — as manifested by his unwillingness to supply his long form birth certificate now under seal.
BTW (and hugely OT but whatever) the following are t-shirts that I have actually seen being worn by people for their appearance in court:
I am the girl your mother warned you about.
After I’ve eaten my vegetables where do I put the wheelchairs?
I only do what the voices in my wife’s head tell me to.
Stupidity is not a crime therefore you are free to go.
If you see a cop Warna Brotha (with a daffy duck picture)
My baby momma most wanted (with a picture of a dollar bill)
I often wonder what these people were thinking when they were getting dressed in the morning "Hmmmmm what shall I wear to show my total disrespect for the Judge and the Court in general" well that and wearing jammie bottoms (I kid you not). Carry on.
No, she’s retiring to a candlelit bubble bath with a current copy of Time and the cover story on "How Faith Heals" for a little special time.
Ooooooh Ted nice to see you, wondered what you had been up to (other than the whole batshit lunatic birther stuff obviously kisses to Dr. Orly) How’s the latest lawsuit going? Bwahahahahahahahaahah. Ahem sorry.
Actually, a lot of perfectly intelligent people believe that insidious bullshit, too. No need to ad hominize, brother, just keep chipping away at religion’s stranglehold on the public imagination. Calling believers morons just makes a) them defensive and b) you look like a dick.
Love the sinner, hate the sin, ain’t that how that one goes?
joe from Lowell
I give Ted @ #46 an 8/10.
Leading off with "stealing the Census from Congress" – getting the talking point wrong – is a good move, and I liked the "either/or" bit at the end.
The bit in the middle about different kinds of citizenship had a nice, wingnutty aroma to it.
But I gotta say, he went for "stolen presidency," but where’s the ACORN? Gotta have the ACORN.
Ah, another entry for the ever-popular "True, Yet Wrong" sweeps. Millions of "low information voters" still get what few facts/ideas/theories they collect from the Media Village Idiots; millions more base their votes on vague ideas about What Everybody Is Saying. Letting the Village Idiots and their Rethuglican handlers "catapult the propaganda", i.e., control the parameters of how information is discussed, or not discussed, or misunderstood, is what killed the Clintons’ health-care initiatives, just to use one giant stinking example. Refusing to "enable" the "tame corporate media" would have kept President Obama from end-running past the cantankerous Rethuglican anti-American congresscritters and passing *any* kind of stimulus bill. Our enemies (including the perennially and hopelessly stupid) are always going to be focused on new forms of lies, damned lies, and hopeless misunderstandings; we can’t afford to wall ourselves up in our Monasteries of High-IQ Correctness and assume that even if the rest of the country (world) goes to sweaty hell, we’ll have our righteous to keep us comfortably hydrated.
I thought every Shorter Amy Sullivan was STOP MAKING FUN OF JESUS FREAKS IF YOU FILTHY DEMOCRATS WANT TO WIN AN ELECTION ABOVE DOGCATCHER EVER AGAIN. It’s good to see that she’s branched out into uncharted, mendacious territory.
Now, this is probably the only time in history that I will agree with (the generally idiotic) Amy Sullivan, but I think all of the people saying "look, it can’t have been about the census because Gregg says it wasn’t about the census" are just being silly. As if it’s somehow impossible for this guy to lie about this!? Hello, folks, he’s a Republican, and he’s lied throughout the process so far, so why would he stop at the end?
Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, unless you really don’t understand some very basic things about how our government allocates money and influence based on the census, it would be easy to blow the issue off. However, when you realize that Gregg has personally lobbied Reid for this position (which he did), Gregg voted to eliminate the Dept. of Commerce in the first place (he did) and then look at the fact that immediately after Gregg was nominated, Rahmbo took the handling of the census out of the hands of the Commerce Sec. come on! There was obviously a large-scale disagreement over the census. Gregg was, of course, a mole for getting Republican hands on that census data and manipulating it to the hilt. People caught on right away, and took the only thing he wanted away from the job so he quit.
It’s really not that complicated.
@jibeaux: I don’t get it, why? What evidence is there anywhere, other than his own self-excusing words, is there that Gregg had no interest in the census? Because – really, there’s plenty of evidence that he was, in fact, interested in it. May not be the whole reason he withdrew, but it was certainly a reason. And if you can’t see that, you know, beachfront property in AZ, etc.
The guy was quite enthusiastic about the job until, suddenly, handling the census was no longer a part of it. Then he, very abruptly, lost interest for something he had lobbied Harry Reid for and subjected himself to massive scrutiny for. And people are just saying "take him at his word" when his words have been absolutely contradictory from one day to the next over this matter? And y’all think we’re naive?? Hehe.