Ed Driscoll.com Ed Driscoll.com
The Liar's Poker School Of Journalism
By Ed Driscoll · September 28, 2005 04:03 PM · Oh, That Liberal Media!

In Liar's Poker, Michael Lewis' brilliant, Plimptonesque look back at his mid-'80s tour of duty with Salomon Brothers, Lewis wrote that when necessary, he and his fellow bond traders would "jam" bonds down their customers' throats. These were typically corporate bonds with lower yields or credit ratings, and Salomon's sales managers would encourage their salesmen to use as much verbal force as appropriate to make a sale. As Lewis wrote:

"I had made the mistake of trusting a Salomon Brothers trader. He had drawn on the pooled ignorance of myself and my first customer to unload one of his mistakes. He had saved himself, and our firm, $60,000. I was at once furious and disillusioned. But that didn't solve the problem. . . . Bellyaching would. . . make me look a fool, as if I had actually thought the customer was going to make money on the [bonds]. How could anyone be so stupid as to trust a trader? The best thing I could do was pretend to others at Salomon that I meant to screw the customer. People would respect that. That was called 'jamming.' I had just jammed bonds, albeit unknowingly, for the first time."
Beginning, arguably, with Walter Cronkite's calling the Tet Offensive a military failure, the mainstream media has had a long history of jamming news stories--frequently with a poor credit rating of their own in terms of their honesty attached to them--down their audiences' throats, rather than living up to their self-proclaimed motto of being objective and unbiased.

That's what CBS tried to do last year with a story that ultimately boomeranged so badly against them, it was dubbed "RatherGate", complete with superscript "th", to remind readers of Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes' folly.

Lewis would occasionally refer in Liar's Poker to the out-of-touch "ozone layer" of Salomon's management, clueless as to what their salesmen and traders needed to succeed. The quotes yesterday from Mapes and Rather are a reminder at just how clueless the ozone layer of CBS' then-management was. As for Rather's what's-the-frequency remarks, Duane Patterson has fisked them within an inch of their life. To the point where he feels sorry ("Elder Abuse" is the name of Duane's post) about deciphering the mutterings of a now aged man who for decades has made Ted Baxter seem like Edward R. Murrow.

But let's take a look at Mapes' classic quotes, including this one, describing her "incredulous" reaction to the response of the Blogosphere, and Internet forums like Freerepublic.com, to the 60 Minutes II show that she built around forged documents:

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS.
Has any individual, or any organization, ever been called "hyperliberal" by any reporter or anchorman at CBS?

Is Mapes aware that she's ceding half her show's potential audience by tossing aside the complaints of the Freepers, the Lizardoids, the readers of Power Line, and by extension, everyone else who considers him or herself a conservative? Is she aware of out of touch she makes herself sound, when she claims she hasn't heard of any of these sites, three quarters of the way into an election year dominated--even before RatherGate--with Internet and blog-oriented stories?

And you cannot claim to have an anchorman who is free of bias and not "loaded with vitriol" when you let him go on the air and say things like this, in an editorial-masking-as-reporting was delivered seemingly as "the first draft of history" to millions of Sunday viewers watching the second half of NFL doubleheaders--viewers of all political persuasions, not the readers of The New Republic or The Nation, where Dan's editorializing would have been perfectly appropriate and right at home with its bias.

But that was back in November of 2000. Let's return to Rather's producer's words from this year concerning her efforts last September:

Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.
Yes, that's precisely right.

This is the one instance where Mary is spot-on, and she has no idea how accurate she is about the connection with another big media fabulist who masqueraded as a reporter. As Mark Steyn writes:

Yes, the US media is overwhelmingly "liberal" but it's also slow, dull, arthritic and bureaucratic. Hence, Ms Mapes' bewilderment at how the rest of the world managed to identify within seconds the obvious fakeness of her documents despite the "months" of "analysis" CBS devoted to them.
What Mary and Dan still don't seem to understand is that when you try to jam news stories these days via the press or television, there's now a whole nation of citizen journalists--some who are amateurs, some who are pros, many of whom are bloggers, but some simply members of online forums--who are examining your efforts, and determining whether they're fair, or you're trying to play liar's poker with us.

Update: Welcome readers of Hugh Hewitt and his producer, "Generalissimo" Duane. Please look around; we're sure you'll find plenty of other posts you'll enjoy.

Since 2002, News, Technology and Pop Culture, 24 Hours a Day, Live and in Stereo!

(And every Saturday on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.)

What They're Saying

"The Svengali of style"--Patrick Ruffini

Twitter Feed
About Me


Support the Site


February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002


Bookmark Me!

Blogroll Me!

Steal This Button!

Syndicate this site (XML)
Podcasts Feed

AddThis Feed Button

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Our Podcasts' Apple iTunes Page

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35

Site design by

tumblr site counter
Copyright © 2002-2008 Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. All Rights Reserved