Dana Milbank vs. Nico Pitney

By Razib Khan | June 29, 2009 8:32 am

I don’t post much on contemporary politics, mostly because I don’t have much value-add, but also because so much of it from the blogosphere is simply a critique of the mainstream press. In fact I think the mainstream press is essential and invaluable in many domains. The current crisis in print journalism is going to cause problems because these organizations serve as primary sources for many webloggers on abstruse or specialized topics. Who do you think puts bread on Carl Zimmer’s table?
But, I do believe that almost all “political analysis” and “commentary” in the mainstream media can be, and is being, easily substituted by weblogs (compare & contrast The New York Times analysis of the Democratic primaries vs. Nate Silver’s). I don’t see any comparative advantage here for the establishment. The existence of these sectors of the media seems a relic of the pre-internet era. Both the Right and Left are correct in their criticisms of the trivialities which the media often engage in to maintain the perception of objectivity. Below is an awesome face to face “exchange” between Nico Pitney and Dana Milbank.

Embedded video from CNN Video
I think both Milbank and Pitney are behaving a bit childishly above. But Milbank’s obsession with the details of process & perception of objectivity reminds me somewhat of Chinese eunuchs playing back-stabbing political games and telling the Emperor that all is well, while the barbarians surround the palace and loot the city. The finer ethical points of posing questions in the White House press corps while an earthquake is tearing apart modern journalism bring to mind pampered sycophants continuing to dispute the proper precedent during court ritual while barbarians kill their way to the imperial dais.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Competitive arse-licking of Obama is not a pretty sight; no wonder they wish to hide it behind a veil of purported objectivity.

  • marc

    The biggest threat to either a blogger or the MSM is the ability to get source data. I usually look at boston.com (boston globe) to get an idea of what is going on, but I do not rely on it for information, and it could easily be substituted.
    The reason I do not rely on it for information, is it generally lacks information and reports most news stories as war stories (who is winning, who has the advantage, what tactics they are using, etc.), while giving you precious little information about the what they are actually reporting about. It is the same for any of the other major news outlets in the Boston area or news on the national level.
    Any budget battle at any level of government, you can find source information. The CBO even has an RSS feed. I may be in the minority, but I see little difference in the information content of Fox news, MSNBC, RedState, or the DailyKos.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    I think it was obvious Milbank was a joke well before this. What I find most hilarious about the whole exchange is the assumption that there’s anything serious about White House press conferences in the first place.

  • Billare

    1:51 – 1:57 of this clip is pure comedy gold, 1:53 in particular. Watch the change in expression, and appreciate the hilarious look of realization, in Nico’s face after Dana compares him to some other Fox News reporter. Nico’s slightly upturned smile changes into a hardened serious expression as if someone had just analogized his journalistic prowess to Nazi propaganda.

  • Alex

    …the hell? Pitney’s question was easily one of the harder questions asked at that presser. I mean Obama didn’t even come up with a good answer to it. As is perfectly normal, the president picked the questioner, not the question. Dana Milbank is off his rocker. Or maybe it’s just sour grapes.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com


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