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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rove’s Resignation: Worth Cheering For

posted by on August 14 at 16:03 PM

When Karl Rove’s resignation was brought up at a Seattle Times news meeting yesterday some of the assembled reporters cheered. This has, of course, bunched panties in cracks on Fairview Ave. Seattle Times Executive Editor Dave Boardman sent out a memo reprimanding the news staff: “That sort of expression is simply not appropriate for a newsroom,” he said. Adding, “As we head into a major political year, now’s a good time to remember: Please keep your personal politics to yourself.”

David Postman writes about the incident on his blog—which he probably got the green light to do because, as Boardman notes in his memo, there was an “outside guest in the room.” Hm. Wonder who that was. Anyway, here’s Postman:

It sounds like a conservative’s parody of how a news meeting would be run. I wasn’t there, but I’ve talked to several people who were. It was only a couple of people who cheered and they, thankfully, are not among the people who get a say in news play. But obviously news staff shouldn’t be cheering or jeering the day’s news…

Well, gee. Maybe the reporters cheered because they, of all people, are in the best position to recognize Rove’s departure as a positive development for the nation—and for the ideal that all journalists everywhere honor the most: the truth. Everything that came out of Rove’s mouth—even spit—was a lie. After six years of Bush/Cheney/Rove, all journalists everywhere, irrespective of political affiliation, should be glad to see Rove go. No one has made a move at the White House over the last six and half years without Rove’s okay; nothing has been said by the executive branch without Rove’s okay. And everything that’s come out of the White House—from the Iraq war to global warming to torture to the outings of CIA operatives to the firing of those eight US attorneys—has been false and/or misleading. And daily reporters have had to stand there, taking dictation, relaying the lies with a straight face, running off to find Democrats to tell them what they already know: It’s all bullshit—every paragraph, every sentence, every word. Any reporter that didn’t cheer Rove’s departure shouldn’t be a reporter.

Back to Postman:

Jokes get made in newsrooms, of course—even what you would call gallows humor. And Boardman wrote that he was “all for equal-opportunity joking at both parties’ expense.”

So it seems that even jokes at daily papers, like quotes and op-ed columns, have to be apportioned out equally. Why? Because charges of “liberal media bias” make you piss your pants. It must suck to work at a place where you’re not allowed to feel contempt for people that spit in your faces day after damn day.

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Couldn't the cheering have been for "hey, we have a great big news story to report on"?

Posted by N in Seattle | August 14, 2007 4:40 PM

You have the most amusing vitriol, Savage. Keep up the good work.

Posted by christopher | August 14, 2007 5:04 PM

The total failure of our establishment media is one of the biggest issues of the last seven years.

All we get from them now is double talk and propaganda, now helpfully renamed "spin," along with many stories citing "unnamed government sources."

They're the ones who've helped enable the Bush fiasco all these years, and they deserve just as much blame for this despicable state of affairs as Karl Rove.

On the upside, they've encouraged a hell of a lot more independents to set up shop online, and the new guys and gals have made news fun and relevant again, hello Wonkette!!

Posted by Original Andrew | August 14, 2007 5:06 PM

Why wouldn't patriotic Americans cheer when hearing that a Traitor was leaving?

I'd be surprised if they hadn't.

The same thing will happen if Bush goes to jail.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 14, 2007 5:34 PM

As far as Republican political hegemony is concerned, Rove is a true believer. He'll be back on the scene come 2008 working for republican victories in the executive and legislative branches.

The King of Smears will return, you can bet on it.

Posted by neo-realist | August 14, 2007 5:42 PM

Ahem * "It was only a couple of people who cheered and they, thankfully, are not among the people who get a say in news play."

Thankfully, those same peons thought his "rant" was pure horse shit.

Posted by Freedom of Speech | August 14, 2007 6:04 PM

I would favor a constitutional amendment allowing Texas to return to its Republic, not part of the US status. Then I'm willing to spend billions on a wall, Berlin style. Make sure to include money for the sharpshooters.

Posted by Dave Coffman | August 14, 2007 6:18 PM

I was at the press conference at which Bob Barr introduced his articles of impeachment against Clinton, BEFORE the Monica Lewinsky story ever broke. After he left the room, a TV news cameraman turned to his reporter colleague and said, "What an asshole." The small room of reporters all nodded to acknowledge that Barr was completely out of control. And yet. They covered it as if it were news, officially treated it seriously while privately hating it.

This is what a too-strict belief in objectivity does to reporters. It allows them to say that their conscience is personal, to report on shit that they know isn't news, to ignore stuff that is news cause they're too busy reporting fluff, and to leave their intelligent analysis on the cutting room floor or for witty bar conversations. I wish they could see the difference between being a watchdog for democracy and due process and giving even the most outlandish opinions equal voice.

Posted by Trevor | August 14, 2007 6:35 PM
Posted by Phil M | August 14, 2007 6:45 PM

Dan, thanks for this. I am so sick of the establishment media who treat "objective reporting" as "telling both sides of the story" as opposed to "telling what is true and what is not true."

Posted by arduous | August 14, 2007 7:05 PM

As much as I feel Karl Rove is possibly a form of Satan himself (if he does truely exist).

I wish I had stronger feelings toward objectivity in the news.

Good bye Karl Rove

Posted by OR Matt | August 14, 2007 7:32 PM

Fuck objectivity. "Objective" media means "conforming to the prevailing biases." And I didn't hear any editors smacking down the cheerleading for the war.

Posted by Gitai | August 14, 2007 7:34 PM

I guess that's it, according to @12 ... "Objective" media means "conforming to the prevailing biases."

like "secular violence" is a nice way to say "civl war"

"insurgents" and "terrorists" are really "guerilla fighters"

when the hell does it end? I miss using the word quagmire ...

Posted by OR Matt | August 14, 2007 7:40 PM

I'm no fan of Carl "Moby Dick" Rove but if anyone thinks he's resigning because he thinks he's beat (or wants to spend more time with his family) you're dreaming. He just knows that George "is it W for War or Whore?" Bush's time is up and it's time to suck krill in another ocean.

Posted by Wise Enough | August 14, 2007 9:00 PM

the seattle times is objective? which fool believes that? did this believing fool ever notice that the headlines typically have some slight or complete Rovian slant?

politics facts ain't math facts. the facts of some social / economic / policital event are always debated - which facts are true, which facts are fake, which facts matter, whcih facts don't matter, what is the outcome.

people who are full of shit are the ones who proclaim THE TRUTH,

instead of saying

these are the facts that I think are important, and why, and here are the conclusions I support, and why.

the hypocricsy starts with this lie of 'objectivity', and this lie has worked wonderfully for the MSM incessant propaganda for the rich, by the rich, of the rich.

screw the seattle times. I NEVER buy that rag.


Posted by seabos84 | August 14, 2007 10:43 PM

So this is where the moonbats come to play word games. "Seattle's only newspaper" Seattle's comic book perhaps. Or perhaps, Seattle's only Daily Kos wannabe. What a bunch of stupid useless people you have that comment here. Any not on welfare?

Posted by Not a Yank | August 14, 2007 10:54 PM

Dan, part of your argument seems to be that reporters should be glad to see him go because they've had to stand there and accept the White House's lies for the past 6 years, relaying what they knew to be bullshit. Well, no. A good journalist wouldn't stand there and do Rove's bidding. A good journalist wouldn't need to cheer Rove's departure, as they would've spent the past 6 years continuing to muckrake, dig and pester.

Any reporter that didnít cheer Roveís departure shouldnít be a reporter.

That's just crazy, especially coming from an editor. I know the Stranger obviously subscribes to the idea of activist journalism, but there are plenty of great journalists who don't engage in partisan behaviour in their work.

Posted by Gabriel | August 15, 2007 4:22 AM

Maybe I am just a lurking cynic - but ----

Do not be surprised if
Rove emerges as a key player in the big 2008 all the cards on the table fracas - all that hooey about resting, family and so forth - I don't believe it.

He needs them, mucho $$$, ego and power, they really need him.

The White House is a dead dog - or - rather a holding pen for dead dogs.

Not an action stage like Karl is used to in election years.

MARK my words - too much on the line for the Criminal R. Cabal, they would hardly retire him right now - just staging and setting him up in a new venue, not so visible a role ... think think tank ... the Rs have many that are used for pulling strings.

Posted by George | August 15, 2007 5:04 AM

Gabriel @ 17:

Several employees cheered in a meeting. That is hardly "partisan behaviour at work." If there is any evidence that expressing an opinion must necessarily lead to bias in the newspaper's coverage, please produce it. Otherwise STFU.

Posted by ivan | August 15, 2007 5:24 AM

Ivan, putting your childish tone aside for a moment - did I ever say that I had a problem with the reporters cheering? No. Re-read my post. My problem is with Dan's argument that a good reporter necessarily has a positive reaction to the news. That argument rests on the idea that reporters have been victims of Rove and the White House in general, which I don't buy for a second.

Posted by Gabriel | August 15, 2007 6:07 AM

Hey, as long as the reporters are cheering for my side, then it's A-OK! It's only when reporters slip up and report something favorable to Republicans - those pukes MUST be sent to the gallows! It's all about supporting my side! All else must fall before the politics of ME!

Posted by steve miller | August 15, 2007 6:31 AM

He's right. They should remain professional while on the job. There should be no cheering. It's not like Rove slid under a gas truck and tasted his own blood or anything.

Posted by monkey | August 15, 2007 6:51 AM

Journalists should be professional on the job and as objective as possible. (Pipe dream I know but still)

Besides, Rove's resignation just frees him up to steel the 2008 election again for the Republicans. Like commentators have said before it is a race between Hillary and Karl.

Posted by Cato the YY | August 15, 2007 7:56 AM

Wow. Look at all the love, tolerance and compassion here. I wish I was a good enough person to be a lefty.

Posted by John Galt | August 15, 2007 10:30 AM

Gabriel @ 20:

I was a professional journalist before you were born and probably for longer than you have been alive. Dan is right and you are wrong.

Journalists who do not have a vested interest in seeing that the truth gets out, and a vested interest in combatting those who would suppress the truth, are nothing more than stenographers.

It has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, whatever that means anymore, or left or right. They all should have cheered when Stalin died, too.

Posted by ivan | August 15, 2007 11:03 AM

Journalists who do not have a vested interest in seeing that the truth gets out, and a vested interest in combatting those who would suppress the truth, are nothing more than stenographers.

Thanks for making my point perfectly for me. Dan was suggesting that journalists should be happy Rove is gone because they've had to take the bullshit he feeds for six years. My point is that they didn't have to roll over - they could've tried harder. If there is any journalist out there cheering and saying "yay, I don't have to repeat Rove's lies anymore," that's a pretty piss-poor journalist.

Posted by Gabriel | August 15, 2007 11:33 AM

I don't think that contradicts anything Dan said, but he can speak for himself.

Posted by ivan | August 15, 2007 12:15 PM

Iím a fan of Dan Savage, The Stranger, and The Seattle Times, as well as one of those horrid mainstream media reporters, and a former Times intern. I feel obligated to speak up on this one.

Boardman was right to silence the cheers. The mainstream media has an important job to do. Itís different than Dan Savageís job or The Strangerís job, and it canít be done in a cheering newsroom.

I think people are misunderstanding the meaning of not-cheering. Itís simply a mark of professionalism. Itís one more way of saying to sources, and readers, that youíre going to do your job fairly and represent both sides.

Itís the same reason I wore a tie every day when I covered a state legislature (not in Washington). Itís a tool for blending in; itís a mark of professionalism; itís a symbol that youíre in the room for a particular reason. To do your job.

Itís not because weíre worshipping the god of Objectivity, or that weíre capital-T Truth Tellers or donít have opinions.

The mainstream mediaís job is to get the vital information to its audience, which isóthis next word is importantóeveryone. Absolutely everyone, Democrats and Republicans, the loony left and the nutbar right. Thereís a professional way to do that job, and it can be done by any intelligent and trained person, whatever her politics.

There are lots of jobs where you have to keep your politics to yourself. The head of the state DMV canít put up Bush or Kerry posters in her office. Many non-elected public workers must be constrained in how they express their politics at work.

I donít understand why the same people who keep their own views to themselves every day, who maintain certain norms of behavior in their work life, believe that a reporter who does the same is a hypocrite.

When I covered the legislature for the AP, I developed strong views on several bills. One bill I thought was an important health care consumer-protection measure happened to be pushed by a conservative Republican doctor; it was killed by the Dems out of sheer spite, or ignorance, Iím not really sure. (Similar measures were pushed in several states, all by Democrats). I almost choked on the floor; I wanted to throw up. But I kept it to myself, knowing Iíd have to talk to both sides again the next day.

The committee chairs in my house were all Republicans. Maybe they all suspected Iím a liberal, and maybe not. If I were to cheer, or put up stickers or anything like tható-it wouldnít be wrong so much as just asinine. They know Iím voting for someone when I go to the polls. They know I have opinions. They just expect me to not act like a jackass when I do an interview or write a story. They expect the same thing of Dave Postman and every other Seattle Times reporter.

Then those stories are out there for everyone to comment on. Whether you get your thrills from alt-weeklies or talk radioóultimately, the entire commentariat relies on a group of non-cheering reporters to get their raw material.

The partisan press is greatóI think the Stranger and many blogs are proof of thatóbut theyíre not a replacement for the mainstream. Maybe one day they will be.

Someone has to talk to the chair of the committee. Someone has to talk to the minority leader, and the majority leaderóon the same dayóand be fair to them both.

Someone has to talk to that increasingly tiny fraction of Americans that thinks Karl Rove is a great guy. Reporters are supposed to monitor power, wherever it comes from. My friends, nearly all some shade of liberal, would not be well served by me if I only quoted Democrats.

I have strong political views. Iím proud of my views and happy to talk about them in most contexts. Sometimes itís hard not to cheer; sometimes itís hard not to shout; sometimes itís hard not to cry. I can and do feel all the contempt I want; I just donít get to show it. Iíve got my job; youíve got yours. Mine doesnít suck, but thanks for caring.

And I donít think anyone one pisses their pants anymore over the very worn-out charge of ďliberal media bias.Ē

I understand that one of The Strangerís raisons díetre is critiquing the big daily. But despite all the scorn, newsrooms full of reporters who know when to shut up are still very much in the public interest.

Posted by Mainstream Reporter | August 15, 2007 12:54 PM

@28 LONGEST POST EVER. However, as someone already pointed out in a previous post. It shouldn't be your job to report "both sides" of the story. It should be your job to report the truth.

Posted by JessB | August 15, 2007 1:57 PM


Boardman is wrong and so are you. The test is not whether someone is "unprofessional" for a spontaneous cheer uttered inside the workplace, and not in public.

The question is: Are that person's personal beliefs reflected in the newspaper's coverage. If they are, THAT's "unprofessional."

There is in most newsrooms a rigorous self-policing mechanism for fairness in coverage, news play, headlines, etc. That is as it should be. Journalists can get at the truth without being unfair and without setting up false equivalencies.

To squelch a spontaneous expression uttered in private, though, is just oppressive, overbearing, controlling, burearatic absolutist bullshit, and such bureaucratic control should be considered the natural enemy of all journalists who call themselves "professionals."

Posted by ivan | August 15, 2007 3:50 PM

Hey Ivan W. --
I worked with you, and you were never "professional."
How dare you.

Posted by Little Me | August 15, 2007 5:34 PM

Hey Ivan W. --
I worked with you, and you were never "professional."
How dare you.

Posted by Little Me | August 15, 2007 5:34 PM

Hate to douse a good tale, but reporters don't attend the morning meetings at the times. Could have been page designers for all we know.

Posted by skeptic | August 15, 2007 6:09 PM

Hate to douse a good tale, but reporters don't attend the morning meetings at the times. Could have been page designers for all we know.

Posted by skeptic | August 15, 2007 6:09 PM

Savage like most if not all clueless LIBTARDS was heavily invested in seeing the swine from the party of the SEDITIOUS & SLEAZY (a.k.a. Dem0Rat party) win in 2000 and 2004 and guessed wrong both times...

Why? Rove ran rings around the LIBTARDS...LOL!

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