Friday, March 30, 2012

Get It First! Get It Right!

That's the goal of good journalism. And this blog, opinionated as it is, is grounded in my journalism training: accuracy and timeliness.

So I'd like to give a pat on the back to this blog and some reassurance to you.

On the same day the insurance mandate was argued in the US Supreme Court, the New York Times, ever the gold standard of journalism, led the commentator pack by declaring that the mandate's constitutionality had taken a bad beating. All major commentators immediately fell in line. They all agreed that Justice Kennedy, the Court's swing vote, was dead set against the insurance mandate.

But I read the transcript of the hearing and disagreed with the media's conclusion in a blog posted March 28, analyzing (from my legal training) Justice Kennedy's use of the phrase "uniquely proximately"as indicative that he might see the uninsured as being already part of a stream of commerce and therefore constitutionally subject to a federal mandate. (I won't repeat the analysis here.)

Now  -  two days later  -  the top story in the on-line New York Times belatedly makes the same point. It's clearly a case of having second thoughts on the part of Adam Liptak, the Times' lead reporter on the Supreme Court health care case. Liptak rightly backpedals from his original pronouncement that Kennedy is clearly against the mandate. (Note that Liptak and I are not predicting how Kennedy will finally decide.)

It's gratifying to know that when I stuck my neck way out and publicly disagreed with all the "experts" in the media I wasn't completely off-base. I wanted you to know this and not just so I could boast. You have a right to know if you are reading idiocy or substance.

Is someone in the shadows reading this blog? It increasingly appears so. The authors of the recent book "Millennial Momentum" read a posting this winter and twittered about it. So they aren't among those in the shadows; they're out front about reading "outfrontpolitics." But are there other "big shots" or their staffs who read this blog, use something from it, and don't acknowledge they have? (Which is just fine actually.) What is intriguing is the pattern that has emerged: something said in this blog is unique in political commentary but only for a while. Several days or several weeks later, the same insight or conclusion appears, even word for word, on MSNBC or in print or in a White House statement. This last situation occurred when I wrote about the great success of GM and how Bain Capital and Mitt Romney would have let GM go bankrupt because business thinking is not the same as governing. Up to that time the White House had been completely silent on the stunning success of its bailout of GM, a success that had been evident for months if one reads the business pages. A few weeks after my blog, the President was  -  finally  -  trumpeting the success of GM. Coincidence? Yes, of course.

Most likely all the incidents were coincidence. Most likely there's no one in the shadows monitoring this blog. But it's fun to think so! As Fats Waller would say, "One never knows, do one!"

What is of more substance is the reassurance on the front page of the New York Times today that I haven't been leading you down the garden path. It's the most recent confirmation that this blog is doing the job of getting the story or the analysis first and getting it right. It is, to quote Lina Lamont in "Singing In the Rain", clear evidence that my efforts "ain't been in vain for nothing."

Best of all, it is clear confirmation that you haven't been wasting your time reading "outfrontpolitics". And that's the most important consideration of all.

Now go do something really useful!

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