Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Retraction in The Daily Beast

From The Daily Beast:
CORRECTION AND RETRACTION: A Daily Beast college columnist at the University of Wisconsin based this article off a Jezebel posting which was incorrectly reported. Jezebel updated their post on Saturday with the following after USA Today published a story debunking Jezebel's account and clarifying Gov. Scott Walker's position. "UPDATE: After Jezebel ran this item yesterday, a spokesman for the University of Wisconsin came forward—over two weeks after the budget was released—to clarify: the University requested that Gov. Walker delete the requirements because efforts were redundant with their compliance of the Cleary Act. Scott Walker's camp assures that he's committed to protecting victims.”
When The Daily Beast contacted Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel for comment on Friday, his office expressed reservations about Walker’s proposal. His office told The Daily Beast in a statement that the Attorney General “is concerned about some of the provisions in the budget that may reduce information provided to college students and take away reporting requirements. He will work with representatives from UW and the Governor’s office to determine what prompted these changes and to ensure that we provide all of the protection we reasonably can for our college students,” but it is unclear if Schimel’s office was aware of the stated purpose of the provision in question. The Daily Beast is committed to covering the news fairly and accurately, and we should have checked this story more thoroughly. We deeply regret the error and apologize to Gov. Walker and our readers. Our original story should be considered retracted.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jeb Bush and Rick Perry illegal immigration comments

While reading news on Jeb Bush, I came across a video from April 2014 in which he said that when immigrants come to America to create a better life for their family, "it’s not a felony” but "an act of love” (about 2 minutes in).  This is similar to Rick Perry’s “I don’t think you have a heart” comment we heard in class. Just as Perry likely lost some of his Republican base for expressing such views on illegal immigration, Bush’s comments and position on illegal immigration could lose him some Republican support and give his 2016 Republican opponents a platform to criticize him.     


In other words, the FCC has, thanks in large part to a huge public pressure campaign from us plebeian Internet users, voted to protect net neutrality. For those who haven't been following — and if you haven't, John Oliver (as always) has a great segment explaining it — net neutrality means that the Internet will remain a level playing field, and large corporations won't be able to pay service providers to make their sites load faster than others.

For an example of this, Netflix posted this great tweet yesterday:

More on the vote from NPR:

The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."
The policy helps to decide an essential question about how the Internet works, requiring service providers to be a neutral gateway instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways — and at different costs.
"Today is a red-letter day," Wheeler said later.
The dissenting votes came from Michael O'Rielly and Ajut Pai, Republicans who warned that the FCC was overstepping its authority and interfering in commerce to solve a problem that doesn't exist. They also complained that the measure's 300-plus pages weren't publicly released or openly debated.
The new policy would replace a prior version adopted in 2010 — but that was put on hold following a legal challenge by Verizon. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled last year that the FCC did not have sufficient regulatory power over broadband.
After that ruling, the FCC looked at ways to reclassify broadband to gain broader regulatory powers. It will now treat Internet service providers as carriers under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which regulates services as public utilities.

And the John Oliver segment, because you can never really get enough of him:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Rise of BuzzFeed

Matt Yglesias at Vox noted an interesting blurb in the latest edition of Harper's Magazine yesterday. The blurb details the way the NYT has described BuzzFeed over the years and reflects the changes in its relevance to the news media.

Buzzfeed's rise to fame and fortune can be tracked surprisingly effectively by the different ways the New York Times has described it over the years:
Of course the descriptive matter changes over time in a way that tells a story. But the real thing to pay attention to when reading the New York Times is the use of the indefinite article ("a") versus the definite article ("the"). When the Times describes something with an indefinite article, they are signaling that it is perfectly okay for you to not know what they are talking about. When an institution really hits the big time, however, the definite article takes over in a clear sign that as a respectable member of society you ought to already know what they are talking about.

Williams vs. O'Reilly

After watching this video, I was shocked to the see the difference between Brian Williams' and Bill O'Reilly's response to accusations of each host lying about their respective experiences covering a war zone. While Williams apologized for his misstep only hours after his scandal had made the front page, O'Reilly went on the offensive immediately. He called the reporter who broke the story an "irresponsible guttersnipe" and then preceded to make appearances on almost every conservative talk show in America in order to defend his reputation. In the process, O'Reilly has made a relatively benign issue into a bigger one, which his parent network, Fox News, probably adores. This quasi-controversy has drummed up more attention for O'Reilly and his network than anything in recent memory, making O'Reilly's aggressive offensive a seemingly shrewd marketing move.

O'Reilly's response has received generally positive responses from his core group of supporters and ensured that his job is safe for the time being. Clearly, the difference in response and public reaction, begs the question if Williams should have been a little bit more aggressive in response to his seemingly overblown "scandal." Would a different response by Williams have led to a better outcome for him and his network? Or do O'Reilly and Williams different roles (one being a provocateur and the other a stately news anchor, a la Walter Cronkite) in the media prevent Williams from responding in such an aggressive manner? What do you all think?

Campaigns and Elections IV

We’re all friends— all part of the same tribe— and we cooperate on the trail. You help your fellow reporters get accurate quotes, spellings, names of the locations visited. You back one another up against the campaign flacks. You share rental cars and power chargers. You drink together. But a scoop is a scoop.

Root, Jay (2012-09-20). Oops! (A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail) (Kindle Locations 1862-1865). Byliner Digital Services. Kindle Edition.

The "heart" comment:

As Jay Root points out, oppo guys were very active:

Opposition Research:  American Bridge and America Rising

Obama vetoes Keystone Pipeline

Most of us have probably heard of this already, but it seemed worth officially noting nonetheless. After the Keystone XL Pipeline bill passed the House and the Senate, Obama vetoed the bill yesterday—his third-ever veto in office. We should keep an eye out for how the media reacts to this throughout the week.

Read more at USA Today (or anywhere else, since everyone is covering it):

President Obama vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have approved the Keystone XL pipeline, making good on a threat to reject a proposal embraced by Republicans as a jobs measure but opposed by environmentalists as contributing to climate change.
"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously," Obama said in his veto message to the Senate. "But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established executive branch procedures and cuts short thorough consideration of issues that could bear on our national interest — including our security, safety, and environment — it has earned my veto."
It was only the third veto of his presidency, but likely to be the first in a series of vetoes as he parries a Republican-controlled Congress in the last two years of his presidency. The White House has already issued 13 formal veto threats so far this year — the most ever at this point in a new Congress since President Reagan first started issuing written veto threats in 1985.
. . .
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president vetoed the bill almost as soon as it arrived at the White House, "without any drama or fanfare or delay."
An override of the Keystone veto is unlikely. The bill passed the House 270-152 and the Senate 62-36, margins well short of the two-thirds majorities needed to override. McConnell said a veto override vote will be scheduled by March 3.

The American Sniper Shooting

Routh Convicted for Rough Creek Shooting
Elise Hansell

The murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh came to a close on Tuesday afternoon in Stephenville, Texas. Routh was convicted of the first-degree murder of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, 38 and Chad Littlefield, 35. The shooting took place at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, where Kyle would spend time with veterans, taking them to a rifle range that he helped to design. Oftentimes these veterans struggled from mental disorders or PTSD.

The defense argued that Routh should be found not guilty because he suffered from psychosis at the time of the shooting. The defense presented the evidence that Routh had been hospitalized four times in two years, and was released just a week before the February 2, 2013 killing. Reasons for his hospitalization included diagnoses of psychotic disorder, depression, and substance abuse. However, the mental state of Routh was disputed during the trial with a number of psychologists testifying that Routh did not meet the definition of legal insanity (because he knew what he did was wrong). Instead, psychologists claimed he was affected by alcohol and cannabis abuse, ultimately aggravating his paranoid disorder. Despite this dispute, only a preponderance of evidence is necessary in a finding of insanity.

The killing of Kyle was viewed as a national tragedy, which greatly affected the Stephenville area.  Partly due to Kyle’s notoriety as the “deadliest sniper in American History” thousands attended his memorial service, which was held at the Cowboy’s Stadium. In addition to this public mourning, the release of the blockbuster film, “American Sniper” on January 16,, 2015 preceded the start date of the trial, on February 9, 2015. It is highly likely that a number of jurors viewed this film, which presents a character sketch of Kyle. The film ends with Kyle waving goodbye to his wife and children as he gets in a pick-up truck with Routh.

Mr. Routh’s lawyers tried to postpone the trial and move it out of Erath County, but this request was denied.

Another Option for Your Next Assignment!

Pick any national interest group or party organization. You are the communications director for that organization. Devise an advocacy campaign for or against some aspect of President Obama’s agenda. You may draft print or Internet ads, write scripts for a video or audio spots, or (if you have access to the equipment), actually produce such spots. Whom are you trying to persuade to do what? Where would you place the ad(s)? How would you try to get “reverb” in the MSM and new media? If the group already runs ads, tell why yours is an improvement, or at least a worthy addition. (The ad will not count against the page limit.) In your analysis, supply appropriate evidence for any claims that you make (e.g, survey data to back up assumptions about public opinion).

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Face Jesus Garcia in April Run-Off

In a five-candidate election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not get enough votes for a second term. The next competitor, Jesus Garcia took 33.9% of the vote while Emanuel took 45.4%.

Emanuel was only a couple thousand votes away from an outright win.

Many consider this to be a huge blow to Mayor Emanuel with his greater resources and recognition. His opponents have been repeatedly accusing him of a "Pay-to-Play" Administration, often referring to him as "Mayor 1 Percent." 

His opponent in the runoff, Jesus Garcia, raised about $1.4million for his entire campaign. Emanuel raised more than $16 million, much of which went to more than 4,600 television ads.

Just last week, the Chicago mayor received a full endorsement from President Obama. But Emanuel, who was Obama’s first chief of staff, has had a rocky term as mayor of Chicago. He has faced great pushback from the Chicago Teacher's Union, who endorsed Garcia in this election. 

The April 7th runoff election, the first runoff mayoral campaign in Chicago, will force candidates to face greater scrutiny on key issues, including city violence and public education.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Can presidential debates change the outcome of a race?

In light of our analysis of presidential debates, I thought it would be of interest to the class to see how presidential debates have affected campaign outcomes over the past 50 years. Gallup Poll provides the following graphic which illustrates how the gap of support among voters for the election winner and his opponent changed from before the first debate to after the last debate:

Note: Gallup did not have comparable pre- and post-debate registered voter figures on presidential preferences, so it is hard to interpret the influence of the debate. Gallup says that the 1980 Carter-Reagan debate likely did not have a significant impact on the outcome of the race.

Thus, there have been two debates from between the 1960 and 2004 elections which have shifted voter support from one candidate to another: the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates and the 2000 Bush-Gore debates. We have already analyzed the Kennedy-Nixon debates, but I wanted to learn why the 2000 debates resulted in such a huge shift of support from one candidate to another. Gallup's polls after each debate show that Bush's performance steadily garnered support among voters:

What is interesting to note is the discrepancy in support from registered voters from 1-3 days after a debate to 4-7 days after the same debate. While other factors may account for this difference, it appears that media coverage of a debate in the days following it can significantly affect the public's perception of it. Why else would there be a 5% swing from October 4-6 to October 8-10? It would be interesting to examine the results of the debates from the past two Obama elections and see if a similar result occurs, or if social media, such as Twitter, has made the immediate reaction to a debate more permanent.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Seattle Police Department's New Social Media Policy

Last Friday, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) unveiled a new social media policy. The policy was announced three weeks after two SPD officers were placed on paid leave due to comments on their private Twitter and Facebook accounts. Prior to the policy change, the SPD was operating under a 2011 directive that outlined appropriate social media use.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole told the Seattle Times, "I am particularly disappointed by these incidents because they undermine community trust, the reputation of the SPD and the outstanding work of many professional, hardworking officers." [Quick background: S
ince the DOJ opened an investigation into the SPD in 2011, the SPD has been working to enact federal reforms and regain public trust].

These social media policy changes touch on many issues we have discussed in class. These include how the rise of social media has blurred the line between the public and private lives of public officials and how social media influence public perception (particularly whether the public trust public officials).

Elections III

Nixon dissembles on Cuba

The "last press conference"


Hunter Thompson recalls talking football with Nixon:
We had a fine time. I enjoyed it — which put me a bit off balance, because I’d figured Nixon didn’t know any more about football than he did about ending the war in Vietnam. He had made a lot of allusions to things like “end runs” and “power sweeps” on the stump but it never occurred to me that he actually knew anything more about football than he knew about the Grateful Dead.
But I was wrong. Whatever else might be said about Nixon —and there is still serious doubt in my mind that he could pass for Human— he is a goddamn stone fanatic on every fact of pro football. At one point in our conversation, when I was feeling a bit pressed for leverage, I mentioned a down and out pass —in the waning moments of the 1967 Super Bowl mismatch between Green Bay and Oakland — to an obscure, second-string Oakland receiver named Bill Miller that had stuck in my mind because of its pinpoint style and precision.
He hesitated for a moment, lost in thought, then he whacked me on the thigh and laughed: “That’s right, by God! The Miami boy!”
I was stunned. He not only remembered the play, but he knew where Miller had played in college.
The less-controlled relationship, circa 2000:

An early analysis of the Internet and presidential campaign politics

The Internet and campaign fundraising

The 2004 National Guard story -- and the blogs

Then came Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

Second Assignment (Six Pager)

Choose one:

1. Pick any news event (e.g., speeches, press conferences, Sunday morning talk shows) since January 1, 2015 for which you can get a full transcript, recording, or video. Read the coverage of that event in four major mainstream news sources (e.g., New York Times, Politico). How did each define the story?On what sources did the stories draw? Did any miss or distort something important? Explain in light of the news organizations' audiences, constraints, and organizational processes. You may find transcripts and video at:
Points to keep in mind:
  • Coverage may consist of multiple stories over several days.
  • Distinguish hard news stories from op-eds and editorials.
  • Distinguish wire copy from material by the organization's own staff.
  • Do background research on the organizations that you analyze.
2.  The Groseclose book came out in 2011. Write a postscript.  To what extent do events of the past four years confirm or undercut his analysis?

3.  Write on a relevant topic of your choosing, subject to my approval.

  • Essays should be double-spaced 12-point Word documents (not pdfs),  and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Cite your sources.Use endnotes in a standard format (e.g.,Turabian or Chicago Manual of Style). 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. 
  • Return essays to the class Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM on Thursday, March 12. Essays will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness and a full grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Some Sensible Observations about Outside Spending

At Crystal Ball, Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz writes of the 2014 Senate elections:
These spending data indicate that liberal and conservative outside groups along with the national parties were all pouring money into the same relatively small set of races that were considered competitive, and there was almost perfect agreement about which races those were. Moreover, even though they are not legally allowed to “coordinate” with each other, the outside groups and parties track each other’s spending closely: If they see other groups or parties spending money on a race, they spend money; if they don’t, they don’t. This can be seen from the fact that neither outside groups nor the parties spent a significant amount of money on the Virginia Senate race — a race that shocked everyone by turning out to be extremely close.

The fact that vast sums of money were being spent by liberal and conservative groups along with the national parties on the same small set of Senate races probably limited the impact of such spending. Not only was one side’s spending generally matched by the other side’s spending, but the sheer volume of spending probably exceeded the point of diminishing returns in many of these states. For example, after each side had spent $30 million on attack ads in a small state like Iowa, it’s hard to believe that an additional $1 million in spending on attack ads by either side was going to have much impact on the Hawkeye State electorate — except perhaps causing more Iowans to turn off their televisions.
Republicans made major gains in the 2014 Senate elections but the findings reported here indicate that outside spending by conservative groups had little or nothing to do with those gains. The main reason why Republicans did very well in 2014 was that Democrats were defending far more seats than Republicans and many of those seats were in states that normally favor Republicans based on recent presidential voting patterns. Democrats lost all seven of their seats in states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 even though Democratic candidates enjoyed an advantage in outside spending in several of those races.
The factors that limited the impact of outside spending in 2014 are very likely to be present in the 2016 elections as well. In the large majority of states, the winners of the presidential and Senate elections will be determined by the relative strength of the parties in the state. In the last four presidential elections, 40 of the 50 states have supported the same party in each contest, and there is little reason to expect anything different in 2016. In the 2016 Senate elections, Democrats are likely to gain at least a few seats simply because Republicans will be defending a large number of seats in blue states that they picked up in the 2010 midterm election. Notwithstanding the plans of the Koch network to spend almost $900 million on the 2016 elections, neither party is likely to enjoy a substantial advantage in spending in the relatively small number of competitive states that will decide the presidential election or control of the Senate.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Elections II

Designated Market Area (DMA) is a media market, a group of counties that account for the major viewing audience for television stations located in a metropolitan area.

California's DMAs (left) v. US House districts (right)

Campaign Strategy
Some History


CCTV, China’s Propaganda Tool, Finds Itself at Center of Antigraft Drive

Edward Wong of the Times wrote an informative piece on the state of the media in China last week. Wong states that the the Chinese Communist Party leadership has waged a war in an effort to weed out corruption within its own propaganda organization, CCTV, which is also the nations most influential news organization. The party's investigations of the scandal within CCTV, which is "riveting the country with reports involving a seamy mix of celebrities, sex and bribery", follows two main strands that overlap. One aspect of the investigation focuses on the corrupt businesses practices at the financial news division of CCTV where many senior officials have accepted bribes in exchange for positive coverage. The other overlapping aspect of the investigation focuses on intimate and inappropriate relationships between party leaders, news anchors, and network executives at CCTV.

Additionally, Glenn Greenwald wrote a piece on The Intercept regarding the United States drop to 49th in the World Press Freedom Rankings, the lowest ranking since Obama became president, and the second lowest ranking on record (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. ranked 53rd).

Although these two articles aren't related, I find it peculiar that the Chinese leadership has so openly waged a campaign against its own propaganda machine. Moreover, I find Greenwald's piece on the drop in U.S. press freedom rankings all the more alarming in light of the fact that an authoritarian government is pushing for greater transparency and an end to media corruption.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CMC's Very Own Lucas Agnew Featured in the Washington Post

CMC senior Lucas Agnew founded Millennials for Jeb a super PAC, in an effort to stir up support for Jeb Bush among the Millennial generation. The Washington Post has written a story on his efforts. The story has also generated buzz from the Washington Post's political blog, "The Fix."

Lucas first filed paperwork to create the super PAC, which he mentions as being easier to do than he imagined. He then proceeded to make a website, and he has included an online shop which sells Jeb Bush-related merchandise.

I think that Lucas's efforts show how a small out-of-the-box idea can go a long way. Living in a generation that can be described as politically apathetic (only 21% of Millenials cast a ballot in the 2014 election), Lucas is able to make headlines by becoming politically involved in ways that are not too complex. Furthermore, Lucas's efforts also show how concepts that may seem intimidating and may alienate some Millenials from engaging in politics, like the super PAC, are not all that complicated.

Some of the memorable quotes of the article are as follows:
“I hope this is the start of a counteraction by millennial Republicans,” he said. “We’re just focusing on Jeb, not trying to saying anything about Hillary.”  
“I think a lot of my friends are like the average millennial and not too politically involved,” said Agnew, a dual major in government and legal studies who is minoring in leadership. “Obviously, people know the last name. The goal is to get people to see past the last name and look at who Jeb Bush is as a candidate.”
“Our goal is to create pro-Jeb content with the intent that it goes viral,” he said. 

The Death of Facts - R.I.P. :'(

"Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact."

In lieu of flowers, you can support Facts by not believing anything BuzzFeed or TMZ says. Thank you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rick Perry is fired up.

Second time presidential hopeful Rick Perry released his first web ad of the year, indicating that he is indeed "fired up" for New Hampshire (if any of you read Playbook, you saw the ad this morning). 

Perry is great example of candidate attempting to re frame his image since the "oops" moment of 2012. In a CNBC interview with John Harwood last December, Perry insisted the moment "wouldn't be in his obituary." His new specs might help, too.