Turbo-Tax Tim Does 3 Sunday Shows UPDATE: Geithner Praises Obama’s ‘Incredibly Effective’ Economic Policies
Posted on | April 15, 2012 | 17 Comments
The Treasury Secretary is ubiquitous on Tax Day:
- ABC This Week: Timothy Geithner.
- NBC Meet the Press: Timothy Geithner; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
- CBS Face the Nation: Timothy Geithner; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
- CNN State of the Union: Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
- Fox News Sunday: Ed Gillespie, adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; David Axelrod, adviser to President Obama’s re-election campaign.
UPDATE: Kool-Aid? Anybody want some Kool-Aid?
President Obama’s economic policies “were incredibly effective,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday, crediting the president with having prevented a depression.
While admitting it is “still a very tough economy out there,” Geithner said the administration is “making a lot of progress” and said “the broad indicators are pretty encouraging.”
Interviewed on ABC’s This Week, Geithner was asked by host George Stephanopoulos about the gloomy forecasts from economists such as New York University professor Nouriel Roubini, who called the current recovery “anemic, subpar, below trend, below potential.”
Geithner suggested Obama could not be blamed for that, saying “if he’d had more support from his opponents in Congress, then we could have got more things passed that would have put more people back to work more quickly.” . . .
Read the whole thing at The American Spectator, which I hope citizen-journalists will study as a lesson in Neutral Objective Journalism. One of the basic jobs of a D.C. political reporter is the Sunday show round-up: What did the “newsmakers” (government officials, party leaders, candidates, etc.) say on the Sunday shows?
If you can do nothing else from the comfort of home, you can always report What People Say on TV. The key to doing that effectively, however, is to write it as straight news: “Joe Friday, Just-the-Facts-Ma’am” is a style that anyone can learn by study and practice. Repress your bloggerly temptation to snark it up, resist any urge you might have toward sensationalism, and just tell it straight. Identify the key quotes and facts and assemble them into the kind of basic reporting that wire services do.
When doing a Sunday show roundup, you generally want to work pretty quick: If your version isn’t online by noon or 1 p.m. Eastern, you might as well not bother. But on other occasions and with other kinds of What People Say on TV stories, you may have time — if you think nobody else saw the significance of the interview, news story or C-SPAN segment you saw — to fill in the background from other sources.
Some may ask, “Where’s the value-added? Anybody can see what people say on TV. Why should I do my own version of the story? Why not just link the Associated Press or Politico story and add my own caustic ideological sarcasm?” I reply that the way other sources assemble the quotes and facts — the way they do Neutral Objective Journalism — inevitably introduces a certain angle or bias to the story.
You will discover, if you try your hand at writing the What People Say on TV story, that there is no such thing as neutrality, no matter how straightforward and factual your account may be. Other than transcripts, every news story on a subject of political controversy (and what Tim Geithner said Sunday was obviously such a case) includes elements of selection and emphasis that amount to a slant.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ripped presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday, calling Romney’s argument that women have been disproportionately hurt during the recession “a ridiculous argument.”
Easley thus focuses on Geithner’s criticism of Romney, while my story at The American Spectator focuses on Geithner’s praise for Obama.
There will always be a surplus of conservative pundits available to slam liberal bias in the media. What we have is a shortage of conservative reporters providing a competitive alternative in the form of Neutral Objective Journalism. Basic stuff like reporting What People Say on TV is something that any literate person can learn to do, and I would argue that such basic reporting — not punditry, nor the pursuit of sensational “exclusives” — is the kind of useful work more citizen-journalists should be encouraged to provide.
If you were a student at the R.S. McCain School of Journalism, I’d make this assignment: Record a TV interview with a “newsmaker” and then transcribe the interview. Use that interview as the material to write a short news story (250-450 words) and then append the full transcript at the end. Only after you’ve done that a few times — and compared your stories to whatever other versions of the same story are published by other news outlets — will you begin to understand the value of such basic reporting. By attempting to improve your product to match what other outlets provide, by a process of comparison study, you will build your chops as a straight-news reporter.
One thing every reporter in Washington gets used to is when the editor comes over to show him an exclusive by another news organization and says, “We need to match this,” which is to say: Call some sources and re-report the story, verifying (or not) what the other organization has reported and, somewhere in the third or fourth paragraph, include the mention that this was “first reported by” whoever got the original scoop.
Again, people may ask, “What’s the point? Why do something like that? If Politico has the scoop, why should we knock ourselves out verifying what they’ve already reported?” The answer is that what your sources tell you may add some new angle on what Politico‘s sources told them. And if the exclusive is important enough, there will be new opportunities for other organizations doing reporting for second-day and third-day follow-up articles about a continuing story.
Journalism is not rocket science, as I’ve said a thousand times. And I just wish more people would concentrate on basic reporting.
UPDATE II: We shall now proceed to our next lesson, Advanced Methods in Online Aggregation. Again via Memeorandum, we see how ABC News Neutral Objective Journalist George Stephanopoulos reports his own Geithner interview:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he believed the economy is “gradually getting stronger,” but said “we can’t tell yet” whether growth has stalled as it has in previous spring months during the Obama administration.
“We can’t tell yet,” Geithner said on “This Week” when asked if the same pattern from previous years was repeating, with strong growth in early months of the year, followed by a slow-down, as happened the last two years.
“But if you look back at what happened in 2010 and 2011, you’re right that you saw some early strength in the beginning of the year,” Geithner said. “But then what happened was, the crisis in Europe in 2010 and 2011 and then the crisis in Japan and then the oil shock caused growth to slow. And then in ’11, it was made worse by the – by all the political drama around the debt limit, which was very damaging to confidence.”
Geithner said the economy is still showing signs of improvement, despite the March jobs report showing just 120,000 new jobs created — far below predictions, and lower than the 200,000 — jobs created in the last three months.
For comparison, see this headline by Ed Morrissey:
Professor Morrissey provides this video of Geithner’s appearance on Meet the Press with NBC News Neutral Objective Journalist David Gregory:
Via Susan Duclos at Wake Up America, we have this interesting headline by Wynton Hall at Breitbart’s Big Government:
Now, if any student in the R.S. McCain School of Journalism wishes to get extra credit, let them attempt this simple exercise:
- You are the reporter who has drawn the short straw in the newsroom, and are assigned Sunday duty, your job being to provide the front-page Monday story about What People Said on TV. However, while your story is largely based on these quotes — readily available to anyone with access to the Internet — your story should present this (as will similar stories in The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, etc.) in the context of a legitimate economic/political controversy, reporting the opening salvos in the 2012 presidential campaign.
- The network sources of the quotes should be tucked into attributions stuck in the middle of paragraphs, and you should not mention before the third paragraph that what Geithner (or any other source) “said Sunday” was said during a television interview.
- “Balance” and “fairness” to remarks by Geithner can be provided by reference to statements by Republican officials, economic data, and/or sarcastic putdowns from right-wingers, e.g.: “Geithner’s comments were greeted with widespread derision from conservatives, including syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, who remarked on Twitter . . .”
What is desired is an in-depth news article, as Neutral and Objective in its basic factuality as whatever the “mainstream” media produce, between 700 and 1,000 words in length. The sources for your story should be linked, either in the body of the story, or in a series of bullet-points at the end. Deadline is 11 p.m. ET.