I’ve Been MSM’d!

You can read my coverage of the Federalist Society Convention at RedState here and here. At lunch at the convention on Thursday I sat down and started chatting with the other people at my table, one of whom introduced himself as Neil Lewis of the New York Times. I introduced myself by my name and city (as well as giving him my impromptu RedState.com press pass and giving him permission to quote me by name) and we talked about the aftermath of the elections; it was obvious that he was working on a story that would include the reactions of Federalist Society members to the Democratic takeover of Congress. Lewis seemed pretty much a Times reporter from central casting, a pleasant middle-aged bearded guy in a suit, with a bit of a tone of pretension in his voice and quick to quibble with a woman at our table who said she enjoyed Fox News and found it fair and balanced.
Let’s see how Mr. Lewis quoted me in Sunday’s paper:

How glum was the mood? “Well, I guess I’ve just about climbed back from the ledge – the one I was about to jump off of,” said Daniel McLaughlin, a New York lawyer who attended the convention. Mr. McLaughlin said he could not stop fretting over who would be confirmed to the federal bench in the next two years.

The part in quotes is, in fact, an accurate quote, albeit leaving aside the smile I delivered it with. (I should add that I thought that the line about coming in off the ledge was self-explanatory; I added the latter part when he asked for clarification). “Could not stop fretting” is another matter. As I have said to several people, I told him that I was more concerned about the loss of the Senate than the House because I’m concerned about getting the president’s judicial nominees confirmed, but I didn’t intend to leave him with the impression of despair; what I added was that since there were still 52 Senators left who voted for Justice Alito, my main concern was getting floor votes. That part didn’t fit the theme of Republicans hanging their heads in defeat, I guess, and so it was blurred into “fretting”.
All in all, a fairly typical mainstream media treatment – not a fabrication, no made up words; nothing so dramatic. In fact, as I said, the part in quotes is accurate, and might have bothered me a bit less if it stood on its own. And yet, there had to be a bending and selective truncation of my words to fit a pre-selceted narrative. Which, by now, is not news.

2 thoughts on “I’ve Been MSM’d!”

  1. At least you weren’t mis-quoted. And let’s face it, the NY Post, Fox, CNN, they all will take quotes and sound bites and twist them however they will.
    Compared to how it was a century ago, the National Enquirer is better.
    My kids all, just as we did, studied the Gettysburgh Address (wish they would also study the 2nd inaugural). They all get touched by it. A 200 plus word sound byte. Not one wasted syllable. Think of the sound bites that history will remember:
    “I am not a crook.”
    “I did not have sex with that woman.”
    “It is terrible to waste one’s mind”
    “Mission Accomplished.” (The banner on the Abraham Lincoln)
    Also these:
    “Speak softly but carry a big stick.”
    “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
    “The buck stops here.”
    “A shining city on the hill.”
    And, as I said, “Four score and……….”

  2. I was a Sociology Major at HC and I remember taking some interesting Media classes. One book that has stuck with me (at least in its premise if not the entire book) is called Daily News, Eternal Stories (Lule). This may be a poor abstract, but essentially there is very little news in the news, simply eternal stories. Every day you can read about a victim, a natural disaster, a tragic comedy, etc… but the players change every time you read the stories. Anyway, when you mentioned pre-selected narrative, it made me think of this. That’s the news for you, or well, not really the “news” but you know, we call it such. It can also be interesting to think about who creates the news, vs. an assumption we have that the news gets reported rather than created. With so much “News” out there, there’s obviously a sort of large net that media uses to catch stories, but a whole lot of stories slip through the net, or get thrown back. (Deciding what’s News, Herbert Gans)

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