Green Room

Mark Halperin gives a media bias demonstration

posted at 9:18 am on September 6, 2012 by

“I don’t think it’s liberal bias in the media that says this story is pretty much done, because they fixed it.”

So said Time magazine’s Mark Halperin on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program about reinstating the word “God” and support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel back into the Democratic platform at the DNC convention Wednesday night.

If anything proves liberal media bias, however, it was Mr. Halperin’s ridiculous statement. Of course the platform kerfuffle is still news; its story has yet to be completely told. Even Mr. Halperin himself admitted that he’s “still not entirely clear” on how the deletions in the Democratic platform were made initially. Maybe a real journalist would be curious enough to pursue this story, but Mr. Halperin obviously doesn’t think it is a story at all anymore, now that the language on God and Jerusalem were reinserted.

Does anyone doubt that this controversy would have been a lead story had it occurred at the GOP convention, eclipsing marquee speakers, no matter how good they were?

The only reason it’s not news anymore to someone like Mr. Halperin is because he doesn’t want it to be—it embarrasses the Democrats. If that’s not media bias, what is?

Think about it—what exactly is news? The convention speakers are scripted and programmed—journos know what will happen, even if they don’t have the transcript of the speech in front of them beforehand. The bulk of the stories could have been written before the actual speeches: Ann Romney humanizes husband, Bill Clinton wows crowd.

The vote on the DNC platform changes was unscripted, though, with no clear indication of the outcome. If you caught it live, as I did, it was riveting. DNC Convention Chair and Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa presented the new language (with a reference to “God” and support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital) to the delegates, then asked for the Yeas and Nays. The first voice vote was unclear. Looking confused, he asked for a do-over. The second voice vote sounded as if the Nays had it. Yet he asked for another voice vote. The third one sounded as if the Nays definitely had it. And then he declared…the Yeas the winner, to strong boos from the losing voters. Normally, an ambiguous voice vote outcome is followed by a roll call vote. Why didn’t the DNC convention chair call for one? Why did he ignore the outcome of the vote?

Why is that alone not news–DNC Convention Chair Steamrolls Platform Vote.

This is, in fact, a perfect example of the old news definition cliché. Speeches are dog-bites-man, routine and predictable. The platform vote was man-bites-dog, something new, different and unpredictable.

There were several “man bites dog” moments in the platform controversy, starting with the elimination of the word “God” and the shift in policy position on Jerusalem and Israel in the first place. That alone would have been worth a discussion or two by the talking heads on the convention coverage panels. Yet Mr. Halperin was phenomenally uncurious, considering the whole issue unnewsworthy because “they fixed it.”

Yes, they did “fix” it, if you view the vote. And one would think that even the greenest of rookie journalists would be able to identify vote-fixing as a news story. Not Mr. Halperin, however.

Here’s the clip of the vote itself that Mr. Halperin doesn’t deem a story any longer because the platform was fixed:

Here’s Mark Halperin’s remarks (be warned: MSNBC usually embeds an ad at the outset of their clips):

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Libby Sternberg is a novelist.

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Look at John Heilmann’s expression when Mark Halperin says “Conservatives like John Podhorhetz say we’re going to see this clip over and over….”

He, being the hack he is, shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

Marcus on September 6, 2012 at 9:34 AM

The picture at Greta’s site strongly suggests that Villaraigosa was just up there reading whatever someone put on the prompter. Perhaps the second and third ballots were ad-libs because he was hoping to make the process look better, since even the first ballot clearly is not 2/3 affirmative.

By the third ballot, the “nays” were steadily increasing in volume, and obviously louder than the “ayes”. Villa-etc looks like the proverbial deer in the headlights once the voting goes off the rails, until an unidentified woman tells him what to do. Some leader.

bofh on September 6, 2012 at 9:45 AM

That’s the way votes usually go with Democrats, just keep counting over and over until you get the result you want, then immediately declare victory and forestall any further investigation.

See also: Franken’s Senate election, the Washington gubernatorial race, and the Gore presidency that almost was.

The Schaef on September 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Halperin should just get it over with and formally change his name to Chip Diller.

jon1979 on September 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Query: How does a pro-Israel, pro-God Party Platform Committee initially omit any reference to God or Jerusalem?

Cause the Democrat Party ain’t “pro-God” and they certainly ain’t “pro-Israel.”

BigAlSouth on September 6, 2012 at 11:04 AM

The interesting thing about Tony Villar’s handling of this (it was all over LA’s conservative talk radio stations yesterday) is after the first voice vote, he started to say his line accepting the Yeas had won. He then stopped, regrouped and asked for a second and third voice vote, after which he then said his “by 2/3 majority” line.
It’s almost as if the whole thing was scripted from the get-go, but the No delegates were the unexpected news that no LSM outlet wants to cover.

OccamsRazor on September 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

It’s almost as if the whole thing was scripted from the get-go, but the No delegates were the unexpected news that no LSM outlet wants to cover.

OccamsRazor on September 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

It WAS completely scripted; if you follow the link in bofh’s 9:45 AM post, you’ll see he was just reading straight from the teleprompter.

bigmacdaddy on September 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM

democRAT ‘shovel ready’ has nothing to do with jobs, but with the liberal media burying stories not to their liking

burserker on September 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM

he started to say his line accepting the Yeas had won. He then stopped, regrouped and asked for a second and third voice vote, after which he then said his “by 2/3 majority” line.

Yes, I noticed (and I’ve seen the picture of the teleprompter). It was as if you could see him visibly wrestling with his conscience, knowing the Yeas had not won. Amazing.

Libby Sternberg on September 6, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Who was the woman who told him to lie and claim that there was a 2/3 majority vote and “let them do what they are going to do”?

Blake on September 6, 2012 at 12:31 PM

it was all over LA’s conservative talk radio stations yesterday) OccamsRazor on September 6, 2012 at 11:38 AM

John and Ken had a lot of fun with it yesterday. Who the heck in the DNC thought trotting out Villar for anything was a good idea? I know he’s got this season’s hot new melanin level, but he can’t even talk!

Kungfoochimp on September 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM

What a strategic error on the part of Conservatives. We should not have made this an issue until the convention was over and it was set in stone. How many times we will shoot ourselves in the foot?

SpiderMike on September 6, 2012 at 3:22 PM

I’m not so sure it was a mistake, Mike. We now have the above tape that shows the Democratic Party delegates denying God three times.

fadetogray on September 8, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Who was the woman who told him to lie and claim that there was a 2/3 majority vote and “let them do what they are going to do”?

Blake on September 6, 2012 at 12:31 PM

..where were the networks on that?

KOOLAID2 on September 8, 2012 at 7:03 PM