White Noise: News from inside the Media Bubble

by the YES! staff

The Old North debate

One of the perks of being suddenly thrust into the limelight thrown off by this presidential election is that we in North Carolina are finally getting some much-needed candidate love. Sen. Barack Obama will be in Greensboro on Wednesday, and he’s agreed to a debate with Sen. Hillary Clinton on April 19 at a yet-to-be-determined venue. As of press time, Clinton had not yet come aboard. But the media angle we’re teasing out here is the fact that CBS will host after “aggressively pursuing” the matter, according to The New York Post. Interesting because the network reportedly sees the debate as a chance for news pixie Katie Couric to break her cherry. Couric, as it turns out, is the only current network anchor never to have hosted a presidential debate before, something the suits at the Tiffany Network want to rectify. And you thought presidential politics was just about the candidates and the issues. We’d also like to be the first to suggest Greensboro as the site of the debate, because if it were we would save money on gas.

– BC

Malcolm Gladwell, prevaricator

Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell may have been, well… lying when he visited NPR’s “This American Life” to discuss his journalistic misadventures at The Washington Post. Gladwell claimed he and fellow Postie William Booth conspired to smuggle the phrases “raises new and troubling questions” and “perverse and often baffling” into their copy. Naturally press marm Jack Shafer had to check it out. Turns out Gladwell did use the phrase “raises new and troubling questions” in four of his stories, not the 10 he bragged about. And Shafer turned up only one variation on “perverse and often baffling.” In fact, the only facts that checked out were that Gladwell did indeed work at the Post and that he spoke to Booth on a couple of occasions. You can find Shafer’s deconstruction online at Slate. Gladwell posted a slippery response on his blog, where he encourages listeners to enjoy the tale “with a rather large grain of salt.”

– AK

Looking for the real Hillary

Here at YES! Weekly we’ve been known to have a tough time getting a local US Senate candidate on the phone, so imagine what it would be like if you were a reporter, you called your local congressman and Hillary Clinton answered the phone. That’s what happened to Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle reporter John Goodall on March 18. Or so he thought. The woman who answered the phone at the office of Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio), said, “This is Hillary.” Believing he was speaking to the Democratic presidential candidate, who he figured must have popped into the congressman’s office and decided to handle receptionist duties for a couple minutes, Goodall took down several quotes which made their way to print. The speaker was actually Hilary Wicai Viers, Wilson’s communications director. Everyone makes mistakes, and no reporter takes pleasure in misinforming readers; your guts twist into a knot just thinking about it. Still, how exactly do you make an error like that?

– JG