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nellie On January - 14 - 2010

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: Dec 22, 2009 @ 7:34

Cher’s phenomenal article on the media and e’cat’s excellent Rashomon feature have left me thinking that there are some steps we might take to push back against the demoralizing of the progressive community. And I think we can start with the site that is currently recognized as the lead progressive voice on the internet — the Huffington Post. Loathe as I am to devote any more PPOV space to that website, I am motivated by a particular article to do something to help my community get its groove back. We have elections coming up. We can’t afford any setbacks.

So I’m suggesting a letter-writing campaign — letters to truly progressive sites and think tanks — describing and supporting with evidence the damage that HP is doing to the progressive community. There is nothing wrong with disagreement among progressives, but we can disagree and still remain a force to be reckoned with. If we are fractured, we cannot keep pushing together for change.

I’m asking fellow Planet members to help draft such a letter, as well as a distribution list. I feel this is necessary because HP is becoming the go-to source for progressive commentary in the mainstream — on CNN, in the NYTimes and Washington Post. It does not deserve that reputation.

We can’t change the practices of the site, but perhaps we can get a conversation going among other progressive commentators about whether the site serves the progressive cause.

After all, sites like Raw Story, Truthout, BuzzFlash, AlterNet, and originally, The Huffington Post, were founded as a push back against the corporate media — to inform and unite the progressive community. So that we could push for progressive causes. When one of those organizations begins to corrupt that mission, I think we have a responsibility to raise a warning flag.

I realize this is not the week for such a project. We are celebrating the return of light, the Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Shabe-Yalda, Kwanza — celebrations of life and joy. But I wanted to post when I thought of it. And return to the idea in the New Year when we can take our time and compose a really good letter. With the strong writers and thinkers we have here, we should be able to produce something powerful.

What does everyone think?

Categories: ProjectPOV

187 Responses so far.

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  1. escribacat says:

    I’ve been toying with an idea about huffypuff. Maybe taking one month, eg, February, and monitoring all their headlines at a given time each day. Categorize the headlines, eg, Obama bashing, Palin bashing, Geithner bashing, pro -- Obama, etc. This would require an offline excel spreadsheet or something like that — or maybe just a Word document. At the end of the month, I think some interesting patterns would emerge. I honestly couldn’t say, but here are some related questions:

    Whom do they bash more — obama or Palin?
    What type of stories do they publish most: politics or Jon Gosselin updates?
    Is there a pattern emerging — an agenda revealed by their headlines and choice of stories?

    This project would be more than I could handle myself. I could take one section, eg Main or Politics or Media. Perhaps other volunteers could take other sections?

    Having this data would reinforce our soon-to-be written treatise on Despite Those Millions Who Believe It Is, Huffington Post Is Not a Progressive Platform.

    And if no pattern emerges and all our concerns prove to be insane paranoia, then I will henceforth shut my trap about HP and AH.

  2. Chernynkaya says:

    Here is a quick, down ‘n dirty progress report on the first 15 days of my work.

    I have been watching HP stories and have saved 133 stories that I have deemed either Obama/Negative or Obama/Positive.

    [NOTE: These stories are not well analyzed. Some may not be considered to be negative or positive; some are just generically negative/positive about the Dems. More about that later.]

    Thus far, HP has published 111 Negative stories and 23 Positive stories. So that’s about 80% negative coverage of Obama.

    I am going to need advice about my criteria for Negative/Positive. I have been very broad in my consideration. Frankly, I am using my gut reaction, based upon my experience with HP comments. I look at the headline/story and I can almost guarantee how the readers will react. Even if the story is not directly about Obama, many, if not most readers blame him. For example, if Coakley loses in Mass., they will blame Obama. If a Federal agency has a scandal or is ineffective, they will blame Obama. My problem is this: A story might not blame Obama-- might be strictly factual with no editorializing. Is that an Obama negative? For now, I am ruling “yes” not because of the story, but because of the negative emphasis in general. Please-- Let me know what you think!

    • escribacat says:

      Cher, I agree with how you are assessing things. Just the simple choice of a story and the method of approach has a negative or positive slant. Of course, that’s my take on things because I see it as a propaganda machine. I suppose someone could argue that a story appears because it’s “news” but in many cases you can see beyond the headline and “hear” an editor over there saying: Do another post on the bankers’ bonuses. Let’s have another story about how Americans have lost confidence in Obama (like today).

  3. Emerald1943 says:

    Great Nellie! Let’s start with letters to MSNBC. They seem to be the progressive’s only advocate these days.

  4. Chernynkaya says:

    I’m now into the fairly deep bowels of The Internets.

    ~~~Hello~~~lo~~~lo~~o!~~~

    I like this story from Daily Kos:

    This is Why I Don’t Like Huffington Post Any More

    There’s a fine line between writing a story with a point of view and slanting a story to fit a point of view. In the last couple of years, I’ve been feeling more and more that Huffington Post (HuffPo) has forgotten about that line.

    A particularly bad example: Right now on HuffPo’s front page is this headline:

    Biden’s Standing in White House in Question After Afghan Decision

    Sounds scary. Only it’s no such thing -- except you have to read to the end of the article to realize that. The headline -- a news headline -- appears crafted not to fit the story, but to pursue an agenda.

    And that’s even more troubling, for reasons I’ll explain below.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/4/810652/-This-is-Why-I-Dont-Like-Huffington-Post-Any-More

    I’ll see y’all when I rappel back up!

  5. Chernynkaya says:

    From the site News Corpse:

    Michael Calderone has a column at Politico that suggests a new tactical approach by Republicans to get their message out. He asserts, that the GOP is exploiting the broad reach of the Huffington Post to expand their media presence. It

    • escribacat says:

      What a great link, Cher. AH admits she’s “not ideologically positioned,” ie, no longer pretending to be a progressive website. Too bad most of her readers think she still is and believe everything she feeds them.

  6. Emerald1943 says:

    Afternoon, all! I am dipping in and out today as I cook. No news on my sister…thanks so much to all of you who have expressed concern.

    Regarding the subject matter, I have been aware of the “flip flop” over at HP but had not given it too much thought. I just assumed that Arianna was going after those almighty dollars and ratings.

    So I just cruised over to check out the site today. On the Politics page alone, there were the following articles:

    1. “McCain Emerges as Front Man to Claim Reform Mantle”
    2. ” Obama Privately Preparing for Delay”
    3. “Drew Westen: WEAK, WAFFLING OBAMA DOESN’T HAVE THE STOMACH FOR THE JOB” (That one really frosted me!)
    4. “Key Dem, Disappointed to Hear that Obama Didn’t Push Public Option”
    5. “New Ad: Obama promised us a Public OPtion”
    6. “Taylor Marsh: If Obama Was a Liberal, We’d Have a Better Bill”
    7. “House Dems Delaying Gitmo Closing” (a shot at both the Congressional Dems as well as the President)

    I didn’t have time to read every article completely, but the overall message was clear as a bell. Every article had a negative spin on it against President Obama in some way. That was JUST on the Politics page. I didn’t even look on the Main.

    I am really disappointed in the site as I depended on it for news with a “progressive” slant, something that is hard to find these days. Well…NO MORE! I am sick of the O-bashing, the heavy-handed moderation and scrubbing, the trolls and their vitriol, and the personal attacks.

    I know you all are thinking about a letter or something like it to point out all these things to HP. I have way too much on my plate right now to be able to give constructive help, but definitely count me in…I’ll sign!

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Hi, Emerald! me too-- in and out today. But I think what you are doing is exactly right. We should all just post those stories here on this thread whenever we come across them.

  7. Scheherazade says:

    Sorry if this seems OT, but in some of the research I’ve been doing a thought occurred to me that I can’t get out of my mind. So I thought I would ask here if that’s okay.

    Does anyone know who Glenn Greenwald backed in 2008? As hard as he’s been on this administration I’ve been wondering that, but can’t seem to remember if he even endorsed anybody. The reason I’ve wondered is because he and some people on FDL have been leading the charge against this administration, and Arianna is following along too.

  8. boomer1949 says:

    Cher,

    Tiger left this for me waaaay down the page, thought you might find it useful if not brilliant :-)

    Tiger99 says:
    12/23/2009 at 11:33 AMBoomer may I suggest using these archives when exploring AH

  9. Scheherazade says:

    I just realized I mentioned LexisNexis without explaining what it is. For those of you who might not be familiar with LexisNexis here’s some info.

    LexisNexis

    LexisNexis (often called “Lexis” or “Nexis” by customers), a division of Reed Elsevier, offers a widely used, searchable, and identically named archive of content from newspapers, magazines, legal documents and other printed sources. LexisNexis describes itself as the “world

    • nellie says:

      If someone works at a university — LexisNexis might be part of the online research package.

      • Scheherazade says:

        True!

        • nellie says:

          Then I might (know someone who might) be able to help — but don’t tell anyone!

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Nellie-- I really want to do this, but it is YOUR idea. Please let me know if you want me to do this in any particular way.

            • nellie says:

              I’m just offering my assistance. :-)

              Please please don’t think of this as mine. I don’t. I tossed it out there to the Planet, hoping it might spark some interest as a project — that a few people might be interested in collaborating with me. I’m overwhelmed by the response. Whatever you would like to do, I’m excited!

              This is starting to look like a project that will need good coordination because there are so many good parts going on. So many people have great ideas, and we’ll figure out how to put it all together.

              Who knows — we might end up with an article submission in addition to a letter.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Super-- thanks!

  10. Chernynkaya says:

    Good morning everyone! I just wanted to say Hi and let you know that I have been doing an HP search on negative Obama stories, and bookmarking them. I’ve got a bunch, but still have plenty left to read. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to organize them, please tell me.

    After I compile them in my bookmarks, I need to do the Escribicat thing-- I think-- and compare the story on hp to other news outlets. Does that seem right?

    • abby4ever says:

      It does to me.

      The very fact that hp is doing two and three, sometimes even four negative articles per day about Obama is itself strong evidence that someone over there is on a mission.

      Don’t you agree?

    • Tiger99 says:

      May I suggest that you bookmark them in Categories and by date…

      First, I would bookmark them all by date showing a timeline that would most assuredly show the increase in frequency, Second Catalog them in sub Categories related to issues or topics, example: Health Care Reform, Big Pharma Deals, Economy, Wall Street etc…

    • Scheherazade says:

      I’m not sure what operating system you’re using, but you could make a folder where you keep links to those URLs. Within that folder you could further organize things by date, subject, or whatever. That would be my advice for the time being.

      As for comparing information, I would suggest doing three things:

      1) Contact DailyKOS. They’ve got tons of people who would be ready, willing, and able to search lexisnexis for you and help you compile a list of news sources that have covered those stories. At the very least they would be able to point you in the right direction.

      You can contact them via this link http://dailykos.com/contactus Also, you can blog about it via your own account. I personally would consider doing both.

      2) Contact Media Matters for America. You can even call them if you like.

      Media Matters for America
      1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW
      Suite 300
      Washington, DC 20036
      (202) 756-4100

      You can also email them via the forum on this link http://mediamatters.org/p/contact_us

      Just make sure you explain what you’re doing to them. They are interested in debunking lies, but they may not have Huffy on their radar screen as much as other blog sites such as Drudge. Contacting them will further bring things to their attention, and offering a list of links to disinformation and spin would likely be interesting to them, especially if they knew Arianna started the website with help from the right wing.

      3) Don’t look everywhere when you’re doing your research. Check the sources that HP references in the articles, but beyond that I would stick to the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, the LA Times, Washington Post, BBC, NPR, and PBS. I’d try not to venture out beyond them too much. Those are mainstream sources and are the best to choose from IMO.

    • boomer1949 says:

      Cher,

      Compare and Contrast, yep sounds good to me. But then again, I’m only starting to think I’m brilliant; you might not want to rely too much on my blinding light. :-)

  11. KevenSeven says:

    I don’t know how many years I have been describing Huff as classic yellow journalism. Three? Why did I not predict this turning on Obama?

    But it is true, that Huff is now considered a legitimate opinion source. Wadda joke.

    • nellie says:

      You were way ahead of me, K7. I didn’t see it until HP’s reporting on Wall Street and the economy. I know a little bit about economics, and I was able to recognize bad reporting. And there was an awful lot of it.

    • boomer1949 says:

      abby,

      We all realize we can’t just pounce. Then we’d be mirroring the Mother Ship. My pea brain is going to approach this like one giant team research project — call it investigative journalism/reporting as it were — and the gathering of facts is just the beginning. Oh, and I do believe identifying ourselves as former HPers, stating why we left will give us more credibility and have a greater impact.

      What AdLib had to say yesterday makes sense:

      “First, I think for such a letter to have impact, it needs to be detailed instead of presenting general criticisms.

      We could use this thread to coalesce the specifics and details of what we want to say in this letter. I think it would be positive to recap some history in the letter first:

      a. Arianna

      • Tiger99 says:

        Boomer may I suggest using these archives when exploring AH’s flip flop…
        http://ariannaonline.huffingtonpost.com/columns/index.php
        This link below is one where she praises Dick Cheney titled “Cheney To The Rescue”
        http://ariannaonline.huffingtonpost.com/columns/column.php?id=696

        One thing to keep in mind that AH has always been a “Clinton Hater” and that is what motivated her backing of President Obama… I question that this may be what is motivating her attacks on this Administration since Hillary is in a powerful position and President Obama hasn’t exactly proved to a “Bill” hater himself…

      • abby4ever says:

        to boomer: thanks for your words and for posting AdLib’s idea about all this.

        Let me put it this way, i.e. this is what I was thinking. If we were to do this as individual former hp posters, without naming the new site we have gone to, I think that would have more weight than if we were to do it as PlanetPov posters.

        Imagine (I say this next just to make my point) if a bunch of posters at Daily Kos were to do this letter thing about hp. Some might say, “Well! Daily Kos just can’t stand it that hp is becoming the go-to, becoming the site to visit! They are just bad-mouthing hp out of envy (sour grapes)!’

        That is all I meant. If people thought the letter was coming from a rival site, one that is in competition with hp, they might indeed think what I said above. Then they might shrug at the letter, i.e. not take it seriously enough.

        (Don’t say: ‘But abby, we are not even trying to compete with hp!’ To say that would be to take my use of ‘compete’ much too literally. Even if the letter was swimming with details, with concrete instances of almost criminal behaviour on the part of hp, they still might take it as some kind of plot to malign hp, all because Planet is another site… a competitor, this no matter how different in nature a site Planet is from hp.)

        What do I know, though? You all are much more experienced at these kinds of things than I am, I will bow to your greater experience. And anyway I tend to overthink things.

        As I said, it was just a thought.

        • boomer1949 says:

          abby,

          Me? Experienced? Trust me I often feel like a fish out of water, little fish in a big pond kind of thing. That said, I have learned so much in my short tenure here that I’m starting to think I’m brilliant :-)

          • abby4ever says:

            to boomer: Ha! But it may be that you are brilliant!

            I really don’t have as much experience with these kinds of things, I am young to politics.

            I will tell you one thing, and my lack of experience should not negate what I say, because what I will say isn’t about experience, it’s about (1) common sense, and (2) a pattern hp has developed. Here it is. If Planet goes after hp, as Planet, hp will go after Planet. You can count on that. And they would hit hard.

            Whereas if we did it as former hp posters but not under the Planet umbrella, they would not know where to hit.

            Look at the pattern: at how hp has gone after Obama. You don’t think Ari would just lie down for this, do you? Not that that should stop us, but it could mean all-out war.

            Anyway, I, too, think Nellie’s idea is a good one, even a great one. But she did ask at the end of her post: ‘What do you think?’ and all I have done is answer her.

            • nellie says:

              I’m not criticizing your response, abby. I’m just trying to understand it. The “sour grapes” threw me because I didn’t really see the letter as coming from a competing interest. Yesterday, we talked about generating a number of different formats that people could use as they like. Or we could write a single letter and have a lot of people sign it. It’s a project of the site — which is a blogger’s site. So I saw the letter as coming from progressives.

              But I see your point. Thanks for hanging in there to explain it.

    • nellie says:

      I don’t find it a dilemma because I have no “sour grapes” about HP. There’s nothing to have sour grapes about.

      What I object to is that this site — whose editorial policies are currently demoralizing the progressive community, as well as demonizing a president with a progressive agenda — is seen as a leading progressive voice.

      I would like to start a conversation about progressive unity and how important it is. And how there is a way to disagree without fracturing this important community.

      • AdLib says:

        I agree, a letter written containing facts and logical conclusions is just that.

        If some people, including HuffPo, don’t like facts and logical conclusions because of what those facts and logical conclusions expose, welcome to the world of journalism.

      • abby4ever says:

        Arrrrrrrrrrrrgggh! We are not communicating very well these days. I know you have no sour grapes, none of us do. I was talking about the impression such a letter might give and whether, if it did, the influence of the letter might be less than we would hope.

        It was just a passing thought.

        • javaz says:

          I understand what you mean, abby, and yes I agree that many might take it as ‘sour grapes’, especially HP loyalists.

          It does not need to be a dilemma though if a letter is worded correctly using facts and not emotion.

          My question is -- after completing such a letter listing the factual complaints against AH and HP, where would such a letter be sent?
          AH would not give a darn about it and would attack back, using the ‘sour grapes,’ if she even felt threatened by it.
          AH is a Republican after all.

          I understand the desire to write such a letter in which progressives disprove AH being a progressive and that the reasons listed are against AH being used by the MSM as the voice of progressives.

          With so many bright, intelligent people at PPOV, I’m confident the issues can be resolved.

          • boomer1949 says:

            javaz,

            Yesterday’s posts brought many suggestions, ideas, and possibilites. Going to some of the older comments and replies, might give you an answer to your questions and concerns.

          • nellie says:

            I’m not talking about a personal attack against Arianna Huffington. I’m explicitly NOT talking about something like that. It would just seem hostile, and that’s not what I have in mind. And I don’t really have those kinds of feelings.

            But I am genuinely concerned that this outlet is taken as representative of the progressive movement when it is fracturing that movement.

            In fact, there’s a turn on progressive radio lately against this kind of rhetoric. For a while, broadcasters were picking up the sniping. Now they’re talking about unity.

        • nellie says:

          But what sour grapes do you mean?

          We’ll keep working at it abby! 😀

          • boomer1949 says:

            nellie,

            Does this help?

            sour grapes(dictionary.com)

            1. pretended disdain for something one does not or cannot have.
            2. Denial of the desirability of something after one has found out that it cannot be reached or acquired.
            3. Disparaging what one cannot obtain.

            • nellie says:

              I understand what the expression means.

              Why would a group of people writing letters about progressive unity feel sour grapes? That’s what I don’t understand. Sour grapes about what?

            • boomer1949 says:

              nellie,

              I hear you; just misunderstood the “what sour grapes?”

              I still think it’s a brilliant idea and am with you regarding waiting until next month; not something which can be accomplished overnight and it’s important that it’s done well and with 150% credibility. :-)

          • abby4ever says:

            I mean sour grapes, it’s an expression. What do you mean ‘what sour grapes’?

            Never mind.

            Are you all ready for Christmas?

  12. Emerald1943 says:

    Good morning, PlanetPeople! It’s nice to see our group of progressives growing by the day, although HP has made it nigh on impossible to let anyone else know about us. Some of my favorite people are here and it’s great to touch base with you all.

    I got some bad news yesterday. My younger sister was found unconscious on the floor of her condo yesterday morning. They rushed her to the hospital where she was admitted to ICU…her kidneys are failing and she is not expected to live. Needless to say, I have been completely distraught. She lives about 100 miles away from me and I am unable to get there…there is still about 16″ of snow on my car and drifts over my knees. My little sis had been ill for many years with several chronic debilitating problems. She apparently had developed a kidney infection that just overwhelmed her. The doctors advised the family to come and I feel so bad that I cannot be there…but then, there is absolutely nothing I could do if I was able to make the trip.

    So, I am going to try to salvage Christmas for my beautiful grandkids, Nikos and Nicole. They are coming tomorrow to spend Christmas with me. There will be turkey and all the trimmings, pumpkin pie, and of course, fruits and nuts and candy! My heart is not really in it, but I know my sister would want me to do that.

    In the meantime, I wish a joyous holiday for each and every one of you here. May Santa bring you your heart’s desires!

    • Emerald1943 says:

      A quick note to all of you who wrote such wonderful and comforting words in response to my tale of woe! I cried reading them…You PlanetPeople are simply the BEST!

      There is no change in Sherri’s condition, but the nurse has reported that she has a little kidney output this morning!!!
      That was a welcomed piece of information. I am an RN by profession and always have to ask the technical questions. However, she is still comatose and responds only to pain stimuli.

      I wish all of you could know her! She is a brilliant woman who was getting ready to attend Wake Forest Law School when she first became seriously ill. She would have been an incredible attorney…I’ve always told her that she could argue with a stop sign! :-)

      Anyway, I am so grateful to you all for your kind thoughts and words. It really is a comfort as I feel so alone right now. But I’m baking pumpkin bread and almost ready to put the pies in the oven. The house smells good…and you ALL are cordially invited!!

      Love to you all!
      Dana

    • boomer1949 says:

      Emerald,

      What a terrible thing to have happen, and I am so sorry you are unable to go to your sister.

      All of us will keep you, your sister, and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Scheherazade says:

      OMG! :( I’m so sorry, sweetie. Your post fills me with such sadness for you. Know that every tear I shed now is a testament to my hope that you will find comfort in this time when you should be expecting the joys of the holidays. I dearly hope that her doctors are wrong, and that she does pull through.

    • AdLib says:

      Emerald, so sorry to hear about your sister. Keep in mind that you have many here who are and will be thinking about you and wishing you and your family all the best.

    • javaz says:

      Oh, Emerald, your post brings me to tears for you and I understand.
      You are doing the right thing by staying busy and concentrating on your grandchildren and giving them a good holiday that they will remember.
      There are no words to express my sympathy.
      Please do take care of yourself.

    • kesmarn says:

      Emerald, I’m so sorry to hear that you had such sad news, especially at this time. It’s doubly hard when you feel a bit helpless about being unable to get there. But I think your sense that your sister would want you to do what you’re doing is probably very true. You’re a generous person to be thinking of the happiness of others when your thoughts and concern are (rightfully) with your sister!
      Prayers for peace and joy (which is a little different from “feeling happy”) over the holidays, and have fun with the grandkids!

    • escribacat says:

      Hi Emerald, I’m sorry to hear about your sister. That’s a really tough situation. Remember to take good care of yourself.

    • nellie says:

      Emerald, I’m sorry to hear this sad news, and I know it must be hard to be away from your sister. Enjoy your time with your grandchildren — they are a precious gift.

    • 4cats4 says:

      Emerald, I feel so bad for you. By coincidence, my family suffered most of its worst tragedies at Christmastime, so it is never a wholly happy holiday for me. I wish you light and peace, and do enjoy those grandkids.


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