McGuire on Media

From Saturday Night Live to Galveston

The Saturday Night Live Sketch satirizing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton is apparently taking the web world by storm. It was fascinating that the first word from Gov. Palin was that she loved the skit, but now the McCain campaign tells us it was sexist. Apparently Gov. Palin can’t be allowed to decide that for herself. That strikes me as sexist on the part of the campaign.

All of which is worth mentioning because I think the most interesting part of the Tina Fey/ Amy Poehler skit was Poehler’s Clinton quote to “invite the media to get a pair, and if you can’t I will lend you mine.”

I’m not sure the press needs a new pair, but it does seems easily intimidated these days when information is our most important commodity. Jon Friedman notices the same problem with financial coverage. His call for respect with skepticism toward the financial moguls who are bringing economic pain to all of us is right on.  As Friedman says these people are not heroes and they need to be held accountable.

McCain’s campaign showed remarkable gall when it said reporters must show respect and deference to Sarah Palin before reporters could interview the Alaska Governor.  If the campaign defines respect the way Kant does, dignity for all, that part works. But as this  LA Times blogger points out,  “the dictionary definitions of deference I find begin with “respectful submission” and “yielding.” That is a ridiculous and anti-democratic request to make and shows the extent to which the McCain campaign is trying to manipulate the public.

Newsweek’s piece Tuesday that shows Palin’s numbers declining the more the public hears, is strong evidence that information CAN be the lubricant of our democracy if we will let it.  Elections should be about information and debate. That’s what the marketplace of ideas is all about. It is essential that the press carry out that mandate evenly and fairly, but only the press can be the guiding light to informed debate. 

MY FIRST REACTION to the Douchebag headline on the Baltimore Sun’s free tabloid  was probably the same as yours. I cringed.  The more I thought about the more comfortable I became. That’s the really hard lesson newspaper people are going to have to learn about segmentation. If we are going to successfully serve different sets of readers we have to shed the old “one size fits all”sensibilities and serve the audiences where they live. Sometimes, as it is in this case, that’s going to be ugly. 

THE GALVESTON MAYOR tells employees not to talk to the press and life goes on. Meanwhile the press is trying to do its job in informing protecting and guiding Galveston citizens reeling from a horrible natural disaster. The press should be the mayor’s best friend and she’s making them the enemy.  Our world is upside down.

MY WIFE THINKS I am nuts on this one, but I found the MSNBC and Weather Channel coverage coverage of Hurricane Ike Friday night and Saturday vaguely disturbing.  To me, it felt more like watching a video game than watching a tragedy change the lives of thousands of people.  I found the coverage bloodless, especially in light of the damage done to the daily lives of people that we came to appreciate in the light of day. Those channels need to get past radar and goofy reporters swaying in the wind and begin to think about impact and damage.

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