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Times Reporter Defends Asking Obama If He’s A “Socialist”

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:39 PM
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Times Reporter Defends Asking Obama If He’s A “Socialist”
Maybe this is why it took so long for President Obama to grant an interview with the NYT. Hopefully this will be the last one they get.


http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/political-media/times... /

Times Reporter Defends Asking Obama If He’s A “Socialist”


New York Times reporter Peter Baker is defending the paper’s decision to ask President Obama whether he’s a “socialist” in an interview that the paper published over the weekend, saying it was an effort to plumb how the “new president defines his political philosophy.”

The paper’s question — which drew sharp criticism from the left and kudos from the right — read as follows:

The first six weeks have given people a glimpse of your spending priorities. Are you a socialist as some people have suggested?


Obama, unsurprisingly, said he wasn’t a socialist, pointing to his vow to reduce non-defense discretionary spending and suggesting that health care and energy reform hardly constitute a wild-eyed radical agenda. After the interview, Obama called the paper back to say that it was hard for him to believe that the paper’s question had been “entirely serious.”

I emailed a Times political editor to ask what the rationale behind the question was and got back the following from Baker, the Times reporter:

The goal of the question was to get at the same issue your sister publication, Newsweek, was addressing with its recent cover story, “We Are All Socialists Now.”

The point is not the label, per se, but the question of whether the times and the solutions under consideration represent some sort of paradigm shift in our national thinking about the role of government in society. In a moment of taxpayer bank bailouts and shifting tax burden proposals and exploding deficits and expansive health care and energy plans, what is the future of American-style capitalism?

We were also interested in exploring how a new president defines his political philosophy, something that has been the subject of intense debate. We wanted to draw him out on all of that and I think his answers, both in the interview itself and the follow-up phone call, were interesting and important.


The unavoidable political context here, though, is that Republicans and conservatives — or “some people,” as the paper put it — are trying to tar Obama as a socialist right now in order to turn the public against his agenda.

Reporters often walk a fine line between asking a politician to respond to the valid or substantive criticism of opponents and asking him to respond to criticism that’s politically motivated, substance-free, or plainly out of touch with reality, which risks doing the bidding of those opponents. It’s tempting to place the “socialist” question in the latter category. But on the other hand, as Baker points out, it did elicit an interesting answer from Obama, and few would dispute that the interview overall was sharp and informative.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. "Have you stopped beating your wife?" - Times
Edited on Mon Mar-09-09 12:44 PM by SpiralHawk
OBAMA DENIES BEATING WIFE

OBAMA DENIES SOCIALIST LEANINGS

Next day Yellow Journalism headlines in The Times
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marshall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:42 PM
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2. Not that there's anything wrong with that....
What is wrong with being a socialist? Or having socialistic ideals and goals?
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Democrats_win Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:45 PM
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3. "Journatilist" should understand the inflamatory nature of the word "socialist."
Of course, "journalist" no longer has any meaning since that Jeff, the Bush White House gay prostitute, became one.
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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:47 PM
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4. If they really just wanted to know how he defines his political philosophy,
the most reasonable question would be, "How do you define your political philosophy?" not "Are you a socialist?"

Also this bit is strange: "Reporters often walk a fine line...asking him to respond to criticism that's politically motivated.....It's tempting to place the "socialist" question in the latter category..." Tempting? Really? Are they kidding? How about "It's plainly, painfully appropriate to place the socialist question in the latter category."
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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:53 PM
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5. More like an effort to plumb the depths of insipid "journalism".
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Danger Mouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 12:55 PM
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6. And the media continues its slouch towards irrelevancy.
Hand in hand with the repukes.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 01:12 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. You got it, Danger Mouse. They are rendering themselves ever more irrelevant
eom
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Jennicut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-09-09 01:23 PM
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8. What is so scary about capitalism with protections and regulations?
Free marketers are nuts.
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