The dismissive paragraph--Palin edition

In an otherwise fair report on Gov. Palin the NY Times' Monica Davey includes this:


To detractors, she is painfully unprepared for the vice presidency — someone who appeared blank or muddled when questioned about the Bush doctrine, United States Supreme Court rulings she disagreed with (other than Roe v. Wade), and publications she reads regularly, even if she never shed her striking bravado. “What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?” she said in July when asked on CNBC if she would be interested in the job — a response suggesting the position may not be as consequential as her current one.

This followed a "To her supporters..." paragraph, but the balance is still missing because the detractor paragraph lacks context.

The Bush doctrine question was pretty muddled and there were several different Bush doctrines out there which made her response make more sense than the question.

The Supreme Court question was too open ended and very few people have a listed of cases on the top of their head. Law school proofs don't even require that students give cases on examines. They give fact situations and ask students to discuss the issues. That is what a good reporter would have done.

Historically, her question about the day to day job of the VP also makes sense, at least to several who have held it. At least Davey attributed her dismissive paragraph to "detractors." I think it is often thrown in as a factoid by reporters too lazy to put it in context.

When you saw the frantic digging by the media after Palin was announced what they were really searching for was material for the dismissive paragraph. They did the same with Joe the Plumber. There has been a noticeable absence of such a search about Obama. It is one reason why many believe the media is biased in favor of Obama.

The same phenomenon happened with the Swift Vets when they challenged Kerry's stories about Vietnam. When they found a minor inconsistency, it became their dismissive paragraph allowing them to ignore Kerry's even greater inconsistencies such as his Christmas in Cambodia fantasy.

In the future those studying the media should focus on the dismissive paragraph when they are looking for bias.


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