Sunday, August 19, 2007

Journalists and Candidates

Earlier this summer, MSNBC did a big "investigative" report on what candidates journalists were maing contributions to. Three of my colleagues were named (two gave money to specific Democratic candidates and 1 to thew Republican party at large) and I thought it was all a rather stupid waste of time.

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz then weighed in, saying that journalists give up their rights to give money to candidates and that journalists giving money to Democratic candidates just makes the press look biased. He said journalists should never donate. It think Kurtz is silly. There's nothing about being a journalist that denies some one the right to donate to a candidate -- political donations are, for the most part, free speech (though the practice is somewhat regulated, the Supreme Court agrees with me on that).

Now, Sean Hannity is holding s fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani. Well, my employer is Giuliani's national campaign chair so I guess I'm not likely to think this is a big deal.

But... it isn't.

Sean Hannity is an outspoken conservative. If he wants to back Giuliani in a public way, then so be it.

My boss, also an outspoken conservative, made the same choice.

And my colleagues who made political donations also did it publically because all political donations are public.

Fact is, everybody has opinions about who they want to see elected and everyone should. Having a job in media shouldn't change that. I have no problem with Hannity because it's public. Far better that people in all fields live their biases and beliefs rather than pretend to objectivity.

It's easier for me as a magazine journalist to say so. Newspaper types hold objectivity as a prime virtue. We magazine people, involved in more analytic work, hold fairness as the highest virtue. One can be biased but fair. I guess my bias is towards that type of journalism.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Tancredo to Attack Mecca

Seriously, Tom Tancredo thinks that the best way to deter a terrorist attack in the US is to use the threat of attacking Mecca and Medina, holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Now that's the kind of thought that will win over the Arab street!

What strikes me as funny about it, though is that Tancredo has inadvertently stumbled onto the right targets. No, I'm not advocating bombing religious sites. But one old and legitimate criticism of our foreign policy has been that we have bombed and invaded countries like Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan that have been guilty of crimes that Saudi Arabia's government has also committed. And yet, we love Saudi Arabia.

To sum up, Tancredo is retarded and his ideas are dangerous. But from the mouths of the mentally challenged, sometimes a truth emerges. The truth is that we've always given the Saudis a pass that we don't give to other countries. Not only have we never gone to war against Saudi Arabia, but we have gone to war for them (the first Gulf War wasn't for Kuwait, it was to make sure that Saudi Arabia wasn't Saddam's next target).