Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin daughter pregnancy was valid news

Although the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s daughter by rights should not have been news, the media had no choice but to report on it after the matter was injected into the maelstrom of the presidential campaign

My friend and former colleague Don Wycliff makes the case for why the press should have respected the privacy of the 17-year-old girl and ignored the fact the unwed high school student is expecting a baby.

I agree the girl is not a public figure and the matter properly should have been off-limits to the media. But there was nothing proper about the way the case came to light. Once it did, the press had no choice but to pursue the story, especially after the McCain campaign made a public announcement about it.

This admittedly unsavory episode got started when bloggers last weekend began circulating the speculation that Gov. Palin’s new baby actually was born to her daughter, Bristol. The rumor suggested the governor was saying she was the mother to spare her daughter the embarrassment of being an unwed mother.

When the chatter became too loud to ignore, the McCain campaign knocked down the rumor on Monday by acknowledging that Bristol is pregnant and then naming the father of her child.

The press was right to investigate the original rumor, which would have been a legitimate story if it had it had been true. If the rumor proved to be unfounded, as it was, the press would have been right to remain silent.
Once the McCain campaign started talking about it, however, it was news and the media had no choice but to pursue it.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Dave D. said...

..Valid news is whatever the media wants it to be. Sure this is valid; the media is overwhelmingly for Obama and this appeared to cast Obama's competition in a bad light. That's why it's " news ". But at another time, in another place, former Presidential candidate John Edwards love child is " not news " , because it might reflect badly on the cause the media supports.
..Those who write, print and speak the news get to decide what is news. And we get to decide what we think is newsworthy and what is diddling us to advance their agenda. Don't tell me that's rain in my ear.

8:11 AM  
Blogger LGD said...

"the media had no choice but to report on it after the matter was injected into the maelstrom of the presidential campaign"

Who injected it? The Mainstream news media, Obama supporters one and all.

12:42 PM  
OpenID teachj said...

I agree, but disagree at the same time. In the past, this may have been a valid model. But in the world of blogs - it no longer works. Blogs are what fed the fires of the first rumors - that Palin's 4 month old was actually Bristol's. The McCain campaign had to address this widespread wildfire rumor. Under your test for newsworthiness, once that happens the media has a responsibility to go crazy and turn a 17 year old girl into a public figure. Basically you have created a world where blogs can say anything - any lie they want, but politicians open up their family to intense media storms if they defend them from those lies.

I'm sorry, but the story was simple Bristol is pregnant, the campaign announced it and the father's name and rumors on the Daily Kos and other blogs were false was the story, the whole story and nothing but the story. Everything else aobut it was the family's personal business.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bullshit, Mutter.

Bristol Palin is NOT news, just as John Edwards' love child IS news. The way your buddies in the MSM twisted themselves into knots trying to NOT report about Edwards while leaping with all four feet on the Palin story could not be a starker contrast.

Those of us who read your blog are likely relatively sophisticated news consumers. So stop trying to snow us with propaganda defending your buddies in the old media.

Walter Abbott

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The logo on the New York Times is "all the news fit to print." That means there is news that is unfit and so, yes Dave D, decisions are made on what is proper for publication and what is not. I would point out that the charges against John Edwards were printed, although I gather from your post they were not printed as widely as you wanted.
Nevertheless, there has been a tradition that the children of politicians are generally off-limits. Jimmy Carter's son got away with a lot during his father's presidency, and the Clintons had to remind reporters from time to time to leave Chelsea alone. But I really wonder with the way blogs are operating these days how kids who grow up in the White House are going to be allowed to be kids before being dragged into the political fray. In the day of print, the rules of public discussion were understood. But today, there don't seem to be any rules, and I predict a backlash will come soon from court rulings aimed at restoring something private to private lives.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Evil Pundit said...

Yet somehow, Obama's close association with the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers is not news.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree that the press went off to "pursue the story," even after the Republican campaign deliberately introduced it. The press dutifully announced what it had been told and then retreated into its poodle house.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main stream media are famously part of John McCain's base. They love him because of his barbecues and tire swings. They know his favorite donuts have sprinkles -- and they bring them to him whenever they get the chance to sit in the front of his plane.

The mainstream media has supported the Bush/Cheney/Republican administration for 8 straight years. They happily seek to extend that with their best friend McCain and the new love of their life Sarah Palin.

The mainstream media prints the Bush administration's press releases and talking points. Huge percentages of Americans have learned from the mainstream media that Sadaam Hussein attacked on 9/11, that the President can suspend the constitution, that habeus corpus like the Geneva conventions are outdated, we can drill out way to lower gas prices and on and on.

This is a fine, insightful blog. It's astonishing, therefore, that so many commentators merely ape the ignorant and demonstrably inaccurate right wing talking points.

Oh, and one more thing. For those of you who so deeply believe the Republican/Rovian talking points about MSM, how do you classify Fox news and Bill O'Reilly?

5:36 AM  
Anonymous dscott said...

Sorry Alan, you missed the boat on this one, it's called the "Appearance of Impropriety". Given the context of the MSM NOT covering John Edwards sex scandal until forced to do so this makes them look really bad and partisan. Given the less than stellar record of the MSM in it's coverage of political candidates, the public's conclusion is DISGUST at it being shamelessly in the tank for Obama.

Until the MSM gets the message from the public that they will uphold journalistic standards of non-partisanship, the print and media will continue on it 's downward trend. That Alan is where you missed the boat, any excuse making that continues to seemingly validate partisanship by the MSM, no matter how technically correct will be viewed as condoning unacceptable behavior. Whether you believe the wrap the MSM has for being partisan is valid or not, the point is the public believes it and you know as well as I do the MSM lives and dies on credibility. Either the MSM behaves with high standards to dispell the belief or will continue to lose credibility with perceived standards less than that of the National Enquirer. Your choice Alan, victimhood or survival, which is it?

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Evil Pundit said...

Anonymous 5:36

Are you serious? Sarah Palin has been subject to the most savage media inquisition in living memory. Everything from her youngest child to her high school football team has been dragged through the mud to smear her.

This blatant example of press bias has not gone unnoticed. You can rant all you like about 'right-wing press', but the public is no longer listening. The credibility of the industry has been destroyed for the sake of political expediency.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Steve Buckley said...

Anonymous wrote, "how do you classify Fox news and Bill O'Reilly?" I'd classify them as a counterbalance to CNN and James Carville.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they had no choice but to mention it 20 times a day, even on a 'reputable' network like NPR?

for every second i had to hear about some 17 year old kid who got pregnant, somehow becoming a political football, i could have instead been hearing someone help me understand the mortgage crisis, the war in south ossetia, what the hell is going on in afghanistan, etc.

then again, i guess i didnt 'have' to hear about this 'story'. i have a choice too .. turn off the damn tv/radio and go on the internet.

i dont know why so many media outlets felt that somehow they were doing me a service by pointing out 'palins hypocrisy', and basically hanging a scarlet letter around the neck of a 17 year old girl.


it was in extremely bad taste. not once did they express any concern for the feelings of that 17 year old girl, or for the feelings of all the other teenage moms out there. the number one problem these kids face is judgement... it prevents them from going to school, getting jobs, etc. this only leads to worse outcomes, not better outcomes....

it was just completely unnecessary. i mean, people are losing their houses, people are working 3 jobs, or 2 jobs and going to school for jobs that might not even be there... and you are spending hours a day 'exposing' a 'pregnant teen'... like we dont know any pregnant teens in our day to day life? what the hell do they think , that we are somehow going to be 'surprised' by this, or 'scandalized' by it? that somehow having a teenager who is pregnant, makes you a horrible person and unfit to have a job? or that being that teenager makes you a bad person? what the hell kind of screwed up world view is that??

we dont need to be lectured on morality,, we need to understand what the hell is going on in the real world.

if the media wants to 'help teenagers', why not do a bunch of stories on what its like to be a teenage mother, what challenges they face? why dont you, god forbid, listen to them?

9:11 AM  

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