A strange “gotcha” from Mitchell Schnurman

This is a strange twitter “gotcha” from Mitchell Schnurman, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News:

Of course, Obamacare represents interference with markets, large government (not small), and patronage (the “Navigator” program is not subject to much in the way of oversight, or even much in the way of minimal qualifications for the job — in other words, it’s a great way to provide jobs to those who support the President and his party, Chicago-machine-style).

Texas conservatives looking to provide SOME guidance as to what qualifications/training a “navigator” should possess have not exactly become anti-market, big-government zealots — and Schnurman’s insinuation that they are being hypocritical or contradictory is just silly.

Of course, Schnurman has a history of being silly (perhaps even biased) when it comes to politics (scroll down to “Houston is role model for pensions” — the column is no longer available, but it was intended as a boost to Bill White way back when). Maybe Schnurman should stick to business.

Texas Monthly executive editor: Tea Partiers and Ted Cruz are big stupidheads

Many journos who use Twitter place the disclaimer “RTs don’t constitute endorsement” (or some variant) in their bio, presumably to keep up the illusion of not having an opinion on politics, which they can therefore cover objectively.

It’s really kind of a silly claim, but that’s the modern j-school mindset at work here in the U.S.

Still, what’s fun about Twitter is that those journos who do a fair amount of RTing — say, the Houston Chronicle‘s leftwing bureau chief David McCumber — usually reveal quite a bit about their reading patterns (in McCumber’s case, a heavy dose of establishment and left-leaning sites, and no real conservative sites).

And then there are the journos who seem to think nobody is actually paying any attention to what they tweet. Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is one of those sorts of twitter users (although she also exhibits the RT behavior of McCumber).

Recently, there’s Mimi Swartz all but calling Sen. Ted Cruz dumb:

And then there’s Mimi Swartz with a non-sequitur:

What does Ted Cruz have to do with Kony? Beats me. But Mimi Swartz knows, because she’s sharper than you. And me.

Don’t believe me? Well, if you have any sympathies for the Tea Party movement — and chances are you might if you’ve followed this blog for very long — Mimi Swartz has tweeted just that:

So, to sum up the executive editor of Texas Monthly from recent twitter output: Ted Cruz is stupid, Tea Party people are stupid, and Ted Cruz hasn’t tracked down Kony (or something).

At least Mimi Swartz doesn’t bother with the insipid “RTs don’t constitute endorsements” disclaimer on her twitter bio. *shrug*

Public Interest Journalism(!): How to frame an abortion clinic safety regulation story

I don’t bother much with posts about media bias these days for any number of reasons (it’s a little like shooting fish in a barrel, it eats up a lot of time, there’s less need for it now that academics have taken up the matter more rigorously), but every once in a while it’s still instructive to take apart a story that clearly illustrates the phenomena. So without further adieu, here’s a graf-by-graf examination of a story that appeared a few weeks ago in the Texas Tribune, a Texas online news site founded by a rich one-time Democratic activist that bills itself as a “public interest journalism” nonprofit.

We’ll first start with the headline:

Bill Could Reduce Number of Texas Abortion Facilities

Headlines are important. A good headline should briefly convey what is to come, and what is most important about what is to come.

Headlines reflect editorial choices and emphasis. For example, the Texas Tribune might have chosen the following factual headline: Legislators propose to tighten abortion clinic safety requirements. They did not.

The Texas Tribune might have chosen to append “critics say” to their headline. They did not.

Rather, the Texas Tribune chose a headline that signals to readers, right off the bat, that there is merit to the critics’ assertions — that they are closer to fact than opinion.

It’s preliminary framing, and indeed sets the stage for what follows.

Read more »

Texas online news organization discovers Tea Partier’s interesting past

The Texas Tribune, founded through the vision (and cold hard cash) of a onetime Democratic activist who claims to have forsworn traditional politics, posted an interesting story Monday about an area Tea Party activist who had at least one *ahem* interesting association ten years ago:

As recently as 2003, the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party had a very different title: director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party.

James Ives, a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio, was the AFP’s fourth in command, commenting about the party’s principles on a fascist message board. An image of Ives in what appears to be a black uniform with yellow shoulder patches can be seen in a 2006 promotional video for the party.

Mr. Ives tells Texas Tribune that he discovered the group’s online message board, and decided to participate as part of his research for a future novel (as yet unwritten). Make of that what you will.

Dan Patrick, on whose radio station Mr. Ives has appeared, seems to be backing away as quickly as possible now:

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, whose radio station has regularly hosted Ives’ political commentaries in recent years, said that if his past connections to the American Fascist Party were legitimate, the station would no longer put him on air. Patrick said Ives had “never been on our payroll, never been an employee.” He called the promotional video and online postings “very disturbing, no matter how far in the past it is.”

True, it does seem to go somewhat beyond painting one’s face Oilers (Luv Ya) blue for Houston TV, or broadcasting one’s vasectomy on one’s own radio station.

Debra Medina had this to say:

Debra Medina, a well-known Tea Party activist who ran against Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 Republican primary, said she isn’t familiar with Ives and isn’t in a position to judge his dealings with the fascist group.

Ah, well, THAT sounds like someone to quote (if there’s no editor minding the store, anyway).

Not that it changes anything, but it would be really interesting to know who dropped this tidbit in Texas Tribune’s lap (since we’re pretty sure the American Fascist Party-Texas message board archives probably aren’t part of any regular beat at the online news shop).

Introducing Texas Iconoclast

Evan, Cory, and I threw open the doors to our new project today.

Please come check out Texas Iconoclast.

Evan does a nice job describing our thinking here, and the About page has a bit more.

Basically, we’re offering a daily roundup of essential reading on Texas Politics, from a center-right perspective, with a little commentary thrown in for good measure. We’re still feeling our way through the group production a bit, but eventually I think we’ll get a pretty nice discussion going. Be an early adopter and come chime in!

TX Senate GOP: What damaged brand?

Senate Republicans put the GOP first, not issues that matter (Austin American Statesman)

Forget the $9.1 billion drop in projected state revenues and the state’s slowing economy.

Never mind the scandals in the Texas Youth Commission and state schools for Texans with mental retardation. Or that the Texas Department of Transportation made a $1 billion budget error, and not in the state’s favor.

No, for Republicans in the Texas Senate, the most important crisis facing the State of Texas is: voter fraud. That’s the first issue the Senate GOP majority addressed Wednesday