Friday, May 22, 2009

Is Mark Halperin Really The Best "Public Face" for Time Magazine?

Carnival barker at the Vermont State Fair - 1941

On May 20, Time magazine's Swampland ran a piece about Nancy Pelosi called Pelosi Probably Right. In that piece the reporter, Jay Newton-Small, put to shame the establishment media's more "experienced" reporters by actually reading the statements of Porter Goss, Richard Shelby, Nancy Pelosi, Leon Panetta and Bob Graham and comparing them. You know, something anyone who knows anything about reporting would do before jumping to conclusions in order to create a narrative that agreed with their own political bias.

When Ms. Newton-Small read those statements she reported that even Porter Goss was parsing his language in his op-ed piece and was not directly contradicting Pelosi. Her conclusion after reading all of the statements was that Pelosi was probably telling the truth. Now for those of us who no longer trust our establishment media, the story in Swampland was nothing new to us. We've known about how carefully Goss chose his words in his Washington Post op-ed and we've known about how all of the statements and other evidence did not support the establishment media's narrative that assumed that  Pelosi was not telling the truth. We knew it because of the wonderful reporting done by Marcy Wheeler and others that have focused on reporting facts.

What's also notable about this piece in Swampland is that Time's Mark Halperin evidently didn't bother to read the Pelosi, Graham, Goss or Shelby statements like Ms. Newton-Small did because he's been reporting this story incorrectly since it started. He also evidently doesn't read his own magazine because he appeared on the Morning Joe show the day after the piece in Swampland was reported yet he never bothered to set the record straight during the two segments on Morning Joe where Pelosi was trashed. He never mentioned the Newton-Small story that Time includes in the MUST READS section on the front page of it's website. 

The day after Pelosi's initial press conference, Halperin wrote this piece in Time. Two of his three things "to watch for" were about Pelosi:

Mark Halperin's three things to watch for in politics for Friday, May 15.

1. Watch to see how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi handles herself today. The press conference she had yesterday on what she knew about the government's enhanced interrogation techniques got her into more trouble, so watch to see if she's willing to answer more questions today to clear up some of the contradictions and allegations swirling around her.  

2. Watch to see how people around Pelosi treat her. See what liberal bloggers, her constituents, the White House, Republicans and Democrats say about her today and whether there seems to be a strong sense that she's really in trouble. In particular, watch to see whether any prominent Democrats raise questions about her credibility on the briefings and in general. (Halperin reported on plenty of Republican comments, a few comments by a select group of Democrats, the WH, no liberal bloggers, no constituents).

Mr. Halperin never revised his "things to watch for" on Pelosi (like whether maybe Pelosi was truthful) and he obviously never reported what liberal bloggers were saying or he would have reported what Newton-Small reported even earlier than she did.  Halperin started out with the premise that Nancy Pelosi was in trouble on this issue because he assumed she did not tell the truth and that's how he's covered it, both on Morning Joe and at Time. It's clear from his "reporting" that he never changed his initial narrative and when facts were reported that supported Pelosi's comments he just didn't report them because they didn't fit his narrative. He was evidently more concerned with selling entertainment and a political view than he was in reporting all the facts so that readers and viewers could make an informed decision about the story. Here are the pieces he did for Time since he laid out his narrative, beginning with the most recent one that he reported on today that shows that even two days after the Newton-Small piece in Time he's still ignoring the facts she laid out and is still working off his "narrative."


House Dems Shut Calls for Pelosi Probe

Potus Praises Pelosi

Speakers Brawl

Penn to Pelosi: "Close the Door" on CIA Controversy

Boehner: Pelosi Needs to Come Clean

Pelosi Wants to Move Forward

Panetta: CIA Didn't Lie

Pelosi Newted

What Now?

Pelosi on Waterboarding: CIA Misled Me

Thank goodness Ms. Newton-Small doesn't use the Mark Halperin method of reporting. Rather than creating a narrative about Pelosi and then reporting on what fits the narrative, she reported on the facts in her story (substance)  even if they led in a direction that contradicted the widely used faux narrative of people like Halperin

Maybe Time magazine needs to question the wisdom of lending Mr. Halperin to Morning Joe in light of the fact that he's not a very good emissary for the magazine. His bias and sloppy work is being noticed by average Americans and that certainly won't help Time's image.  Maybe Time needs to place Mr. Halperin on a shorter leash so that instead of making TV appearances where he can yuck it up with his buddies he can have more time to sharpen his basic reporting skills. Maybe they can have him sit with his colleague, Jay Newton-Small, and let her educate him about basic reporting that he's either evidently forgotten or never learned in the first place. Or better yet, why don't they hire Marcy Wheeler to replace Mark Halperin. She's obviously a much better reporter on her worst day than Halperin is on his best. 

Here are two videos from Thursday's Morning Joe show where Nancy Pelosi was repeatedly trashed yet Halperin never mentioned the facts laid out in the Newton-Small piece. 

I'll continue to watch for Halperin's appearances on Morning Joe to see if he ever sets the record straight on the Pelosi story or if he sticks to his "narrative," come hell or high water.

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