How To Know You Are Being Used

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Dec 09, 2008 at 06:00


I just noticed this article in the New York Times now. Emphasis mine:

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the influential Daily Kos site on the Internet, said it was way too early to begin judging Mr. Obama. "Some people may be nit-picky about his choices but at the end of the day, he's going to make better choices than John McCain would have made," Mr. Moulitsas said by telephone. "There will be a time to push him, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to wait to see what it means on a policy basis, not on personalities."

Some bloggers have been less patient. "Why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left?" asked Chris Bowers on his site, OpenLeft.com.

The reason I emphasized those two lines is because I was never contacted by the author of the piece, Peter Baker, about an interview for the article. So, if you are a blogger perceived as supportive of Obama, you get a phone call. However, if you are perceived as critical of Obama, you are just selectively quoted in order to fit into the existing narrative.

Come to think of it, I wasn't I contacted by The Politco for their piece that quoted me. Nor was I contacted by the New York Times for the piece where they quoted me last month. Nor by USA Today last month. Nor by UPI. Nor by Salon. Nor by Time (even though Beinart actually works with someone who is dating one of my cousins, and it wouldn't have been hard to fine me). Nor by The Washington Post. I was actually contacted by Fox News, which has quoted me a few times recently, but I declined to appear on their network. MSNBC also contacted me, and I had a great time on Hardball.

That so many news organizations would quote me and identify me as representative of a certain viewpoint without even bothering to contact me doesn't make it difficult to see that I am being stereotyped and used. If you are a "reporter," and you are quoting me--in a forum where I can't possibly respond--but not actually bothering to contact me, then you don't actually care about my thoughts on Obama's personnel decisions so far. Even though those view happen to be quite detailed and mixed, they don't care. Instead, two quotes I wrote, out of about 60,000 words I have published since the election, have been constantly recycled used to fit their established narrative. What I actually think, be damned.

Sure feels great to be used. It feels even better when it results in thousands of members of a community to which you have dedicated the last five years of your life hating you now. Way to mess with my life without even bothering to contact me. I'm glad the news outlets these people work for are all about to file for bankruptcy. Hopefully, they won't get bailed out.

Chris Bowers :: How To Know You Are Being Used

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Breaking: Obama-hating blogger Chris Bowers enjoys being used by media (4.00 / 5)

Some bloggers have been less patient with Barack Obama. "Why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left?" asked Chris Bowers on his anti-Obama far-left commie website, OpenLeft.com.

We were going to contact Mr. Bowers prior to publishing this article.  However, Mr. Bowers states clearly on his website OpenLeft.com that he "feels great [being] used" when we selectively quote some of his remarks, and that it "feels even better" when we use them to push a false narrative that we find more convenient than actual journalism.

// advanced copy of tomorrow's headlines


You sure the emails aren't hidden somewhere in your inbox, Chris? (0.00 / 0)
Only joking!
But you folks sure get hundreds of mails every day, so missing an interview request isn't totally impossible. Or are you sure that those reporters have your phone number?

There is an agenda here. (0.00 / 0)
I wonder if you are being used in an intra-Obama campaign game about the future of the Obama campaign apparatus?  Hildebrand's idiocy had a purpose.  

I really do not think Obama wants the Left to shut up.  If the Left did, ity might not be there when Obama needed it, and I think Obama is smart enough to know that.

The campaign always tried to squash any criticism.  Remember the attacks on Paul Krugman?

The campaign is over now.  I don't think it seeks to govern as it campaigned.  


Pre-written (4.00 / 4)
This is clearly a piece that was pre-written as a response to the Hidebrand article.  Progressives told to shut up.  Response, most progressives are taking a wait and see attitude but a few are clearly unhappy (see Bowers and Corn quotes, not from interview).

The unfortunate fact, is that often the interview (if they bother) is not a quest for facts but simply an attempt from a manipulative human being to get a quote that fits into the article.  They don't research the article and then write it based on what they found.  Nope, they write the article and collect a few quotes from the usual suspects to decorate it and make it colorful like Christmas tree lights.  I was once the victim of one ofthose set ups and many others have the same experience.  That's why large organization have PR people and spokesmen and advise people not to speak to the newspaper.

Of course, those who avoid the interview wind up tarred and feathered (very specifically by the NY TImes, I might add) as non-cooperative and shady and are then defined by their opponents.

At least, Chris, you are becoming one of the usual suspects and getting massive publicity for Open Left.


Did you or didn't you (4.00 / 1)
ask, "Why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left?"

To me this is an important question.

Judging from Obama's statements, votes and behavior during these last two years it is a question that answers itself.

But in reading the Times article, I felt you were being rightfully credited with expressing what many on the left feel - especially those interested in ending the war(s) in which we are engaged.

I believe that your complaint is that you were not contacted before publication of what you are quoted as saying, But do you disavow the content or accuracy of the quote?

Is it the characterization that you are "less patient" than others?

Only my opinion - but "less patient" is a virtue - especially when we read that our government is busy building barracks for 20,000 for American soldiers to be "redistributed" to Afghanistan without a word of disapproval from Obama or any member of his entourage.



That quote is from Nov.21, and about Jim Jones as candidate for the NSA! (4.00 / 3)
http://openleft.com/showDiary....

Excuse me pls, lentinel, but you seem to have missed that important point! What we have here is a sentence by Chris, written more than two and a half weeks ago, being (mis)used by the media as if it was about the most recent appointments and news about the cabinet post race. In the meantime, there have been several appointments, and we hear about new candidates every single day! Is it fair, or good journalism to simply assume Chris' position hasn't changed? Heavens, no! And no matter if it's generally positive that the view of preogressives reaches a larger audience, Chris is totally right in pointing out that this isn't the correct way for the media to do that.


[ Parent ]
Now you're talking... (0.00 / 0)
The bigger question for a journalist than the ones Chris raises here is "Is it an accurate quote?" or "Is it still an accurate representation of Chris's position?"

That's all. If Chris isn't the center of focus of the article, they aren't going let him lard up a response with a ton of qualifiers. This is also referred to as "rambling," ie, "Bowers gave a long rambling response to the question of..."

Every politician would love it if reporters would quote them at great length with all the hedging and hemming and hawing to placate various groups. Any reporter who has cut his chops in politics has been trained to get to the point.


[ Parent ]
If (0.00 / 0)
If Chris does not think that his statement, as quoted, is as relevant today as it might have been on Nov. 21, it is puzzling to say the least.

In his statement above, he makes no mention of the context you mention.
He does not say anything about being quoted out of context.
All he says is that he is miffed that the Times didn't call him before printing his quote - and that he is feeling assaulted by all the Obama fans who are dumping on him. He is acting as if his life and career have been ruined.

I still say that the quote is something that is relevant today.
There is no one on the left to advise Obama.
It is true.
He is heading into a beefed up war with Afghanistan.
All of his picks are people like Clinton, or generals, or other people who supported the invasion of Iraq.
Not one person has he chosen that said anything like what Obama himself said in 2002.
I think it is scary.


[ Parent ]
insulting *and* stupid (4.00 / 1)
insulting to think that you don't read their publication or do searches to find out who is talking about you. stupid to think that you don't have a blog and won't respond to lies and misrepresentations.

good news because it's more proof you worry them. bad news because it's more proof that the SCLM is an utterly lost cause in this country. oh well, at least we have blogs.


Hating You? (4.00 / 6)
I can only speak for myself, but I admire your willingness to speak (self-evident) truths about Obama's appointments.

As far as I can tell, the news pieces are accurately representing what you said. So I urge you: be proud of what you said, and try to enjoy the exposure. Those same reporters will come looking for you again for quotes, and God knows many of us would rather have you speaking for us than Markos.


I admire it too. (0.00 / 0)
But why is Chris backing away from it?
Why is he not proud?
What is going on here?

[ Parent ]
That's pretty slimey. (0.00 / 0)
I admit I've been annoyed at what I see as some premature overreaction on this site (not from Chris, he's been pretty qualified in his criticism of the not-yet-Obama-administration...) but this is sad ass journalism.

You were also selectively quoted on CNN this morning (4.00 / 1)
Kyra Phillips was interviewing Tony somebody from a progressive alliance network group.  She mentioned you specifically.  So maybe she read the same New York Times piece and that's where she got your name from, or this is a coordinated attack to bring down openleft or pressure you to shut up.  If I were you, I'd be totally paranoid and panic.  I'm just kidding.  Keep saying what your saying, I'll back you.  If they come after me, we got nothing left to lose, well apparently 100,000 to 350,000 jobs, including MINE.  but like they say, then then they came for me and there was no else to speak up for me.

the point is that the phone isn't some highly limited technology (4.00 / 3)
they can call Markos and speak with him, but chris is in outer mongolia and completely out of reach by that new fangled technology known as "the phone?" or how about, if talking to chris is too risky and causes the reporter to contract AIDS, emailing him? maybe IM Chat?

seriously, shoddy selective quoting and reporting laziness like this is exactly why i don't bother with the NYT or most of the SCLM anymore. they are lazy wankers, and it's sad that people seem to want to excuse them for that. do you  have any idea what most of these people are paid?

minimum wage workers who slip up like this get fired. trustifarians who work for the times? they get promoted. it's our society of rewarding those who fail with upward movement, and it sucks.


And then the MSM puts forth the notion that people get (4.00 / 1)
information from the internet because they are just too cheap! Nope, no problem with the product itself! That's why the liberal blogosphere raises so much $$$, right? Because internet users are selfish and cheap, clearly.

[ Parent ]
Over the years I have been a subscriber to (4.00 / 1)
so many newspapers and magazines, and now I've let all of them go except Harpers.

If any one of those rocket scientists in the traditional media could figure out how to deliver something like OL in print, or even Kos, I would subscribe to it immediately.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
You made your bed, Chris (4.00 / 2)
If only you had the good sense and good taste to suspend your critical faculties and make like Britney "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens" Spears, you wouldn't be having these problems.

As Glenn Greenwald predicted:

Once he's elected, it will transform into: "It's vital that Obama keeps his majority in Congress so you have to keep quiet until after the 2010 midterms," after which it will be: "It's vital that Obama is re-elected so you have to keep quiet until after 2012," at which point the process will repeat itself from the first step. Quite plainly, those are excuses to justify mindless devotion, not genuine political strategies.


a political rule (0.00 / 0)
A classic campaign rule might be appropriate here: don't write anything down you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

Seems to me the quote accurately captures your opinion, so I'm not clear why you take issue. The NYT is using you, but  you are also using the media, and the NYT, to advance your own agenda. You've amply shown here that you stand behind that quote, so ignore the slings and arrows and keep writing what you believe. Taking a stand always has a cost.


Relax Chris. (4.00 / 1)
At least they spelled your name correctly.



This is a Test of the Emergency Free Speech System. This is only a Test. In an actual Free Speech Emergency, I'll be locked up.


Beware (0.00 / 0)
of turning a back-handed compliment into a victim stance.

Obviously, you were quoted verbatim from your own writings.  That's hardly anything to object over.

To worry that this makes you unpopular and that it's "their" fault?

Hmmmmmm*.....you're young, right?

Own it.


You Just Made Your Point So Well, There Was No Need For Anything More (0.00 / 0)
Okay, I know that's probably not the case with any of these guys, particularly given the larger narrative environment they live within.

But sometimes I do much the same thing.  Someone says or writes something that so perfectly states one aspect of the debate that nothing more is needed.

Of course, I usually do that in the in the context of a story whose complexity or direction of change lies in a different direction--which, of course, is not the case here.  And my pre-conceived notions generally have months or more likely years of backstory on-the-ground reporting from which they were originally conceived.  Again, not the case here.  And when I get whiff of an interesting reversal or complexification, I do tend to sniff things out, if it touches on a story I'm working on again.  Again, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But, still, my point is that you're better off taking this complaint deeper, as opposed to the argument about appointments mattering, where you gave the best presentation possible when you made it as simple as possible:

If personnel did not matter, and only the policies of the President mattered, then there would be no need for any President to appoint anyone new in the federal government. Obama would not need to fire anyone in the Bush administration, except Bush himself.

That short, sweet statement of the obvious was game, set and match all in two sentences, no need to ever write anything more on the subject.

This is a little more complex.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


I don't hate you (0.00 / 0)
The reason I want to be here instead of Kos for the foreseeable future is that Kos needs to figure out what they are to be at least until 2010. I have been to Kos once since Election Day. I also thought that I do not want to be on Daily Kos while the discourse of "Obama's a hero" vs. "Obama's a bum" is going on. Everyone on this blog has been dry-eyed on the issue of Obama since forever and knows what they want to accomplish, even if I expect Matt will drive me up the wall once a day.  

Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable, and lightness has a call that's hard to hear.  

Seriously, folks (0.00 / 0)
538 and SSP will do outstanding work on the campaigns and elections angle as well.  

Darkness has a hunger that's insatiable, and lightness has a call that's hard to hear.  

[ Parent ]
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