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    Balanced Coverage and Baseball

    So today, Paul Krugman told it like it is about the newspaper that employs him and its strange "balance via bias" coverage of the Clinton and Trump campaigns, in which the Grey Lady tries to give both candidates equivalent amounts of negative coverage. This requires (or allows) the Times to exhaustively cover "shadows over" and "questions about" the Clinton campaign while outright ignoring outrageous Trump behavior (such as funneling $25,000 to a state DA who was considering whether to sue one of Trump's businesses). The Times has written multiple stories on donors to the Clinton Foundation asking for favors and (wait for it) not getting them, while writing no (none, nada, zero) stories about the Trump Foundation giving the Florida DA twenty-five grand while a lawsuit was being considered. That's fair, right?

    And the logic here, as in much of the media coverage, is that Trump has done so many terrible things that there isn't room to cover them all. So if he behaves badly enough, he gets some free bad behavior as an incentive. What journalism!

    Then the Times, in a not at all biased piece of behavior, responded like this:

    Looks like @nytimes isn't tweeting out Krugman's column, which was basically a subtweet of NYT's campaign coverage. https://t.co/h0l5DT6P3i
    — Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 5, 2016

    The Times did eventually tweet a link to Krugman's column, about nine hours after Silver's public shaming. So public shaming, plus nine hours, to get the routine social media promotion that all the paper's op-ed columns get. Nice.

    Now, I know some of you will want to get into the weeds about details of Hillary Clinton's e-mails and the penumbras and emanations of the meetings she did not actually hold. So let me switch the topic entirely. Let's talk about baseball.

    Sixteen years ago (on August 29, 2000, to be precise), two baseball teams played a game in which an eye-popping eight members of one team, including the manager, were ejected by the umpires, while exactly none of the other team's players or coaches got thrown out. Eight ejections to no ejections. How can that be fair? I have occasionally heard sportscasters ask exactly that question. If one team has eight people thrown out and the other side none, I have heard one Hall of Famer say, something has to be wrong. Obviously, this discrepancy is a sign of biased umpiring, right? Right?

    No. Not at all.

    On the home team's first at-bat, the visiting pitcher, Pedro Martinez, hit the leadoff batter with a pitch. (Full disclosure: I am an ardent Red Sox fan, and a pretty big Pedro fan. But I will fully admit that Pedro Martinez sometimes threw at guys intentionally. I might be biased in the Red Sox's favor, but in this case all of the pertinent facts are clear beyond question.) The umpires, rightly or wrongly, believed that Martinez had hit the home team player (Gerald Williams of the Tampa Devil Rays) by accident.

    Williams, however, chose to run out to the mound to attack the pitcher. This is a clear baseball no-no. It also led to nearly all the players from both teams rushing onto the field, pushing and shoving each other. Have I mentioned that the game had just started? The umpires regained control, sent everyone back to their places, and resumed the game. They ejected one player, the player who had rushed the pitcher's  mound, and kept everyone else in the game. That was basically the last eviction that involved the umpires' judgment calls. One Devil Ray ejected, no Red Sox ejected. Still with me?

    A couple of innings later, the Devil Rays pitcher hits a Red Sox batter. This, too, may be an accident. But there is a clear baseball tradition of pitchers retaliating for hit batsman by going out and hitting one of the other team's batters as payback. At this point, the home team pitcher is not ejected. But, in baseball parlance, the benches are warned. This means that any further hit batters, or clear throws at batters, will lead to the automatic ejection of that pitcher AND his manager. Automatic. No questions. Great. Each team has hit one batter, one player has been ejected for starting a fight, and now both teams face automatic ejections if someone else gets hit.

    Two batters later, the Devil Rays pitcher hits another Red Sox batter, the Red Sox's best hitter, pretty clearly not by accident but that's no longer even the question. The pitcher and the team manager get run off the field. 3 Devil Rays ejections, 0 Red Sox ejections.

    Meanwhile, the Red Sox are doing pretty well. They build up a three-run lead and -- this part will be important -- their pitcher Pedro Martinez is throwing a no-hitter. After hitting that first batter, he hasn't let anyone else on base. He has gotten every single Devil Ray batter out, inning after inning. They simply can't hit him. They can't even work a walk.

    So, eventually, the Devil Rays pitchers hit, or try to hit, more Red Sox batters. When they do this the pitcher, and whichever coach is filling in as manager at that moment, get ejected. In one memorable sequence (and I still remember watching this), the Devil Rays pitcher throws at one Red Sox batter so that the pitch is literally behind the poor guy. That pitcher gets ejected, taking one of his coaches with him. The Devil Rays bring in a new relief pitcher, let him warm up, and he immediately hits the very same batter that the last pitcher was ejected for throwing at. Four ejections in one at-bat. This is how you get to eight.

    Why did this happen? Because, after a certain point, the Rays kept hitting batters because they wanted to bait the opposing pitcher into hitting one of them. If he got upset and retaliated, he would be thrown out of the game. They desperately wanted him out of the game, because he was throwing a no-hitter. But he obviously was not going to do anything to get thrown out of the game for the very same reason: he was throwing a no-hitter, a record-book accomplishment that he had never achieved. He was not going to be ejected if he could help it, and since he could help it, he did.

    The team that was getting repeatedly ejected were not being treated unfairly. They were breaking rules that the other team was following. They were doing it to bait the other side into a misstep, and also trying to work the umpires. Should one of the Red Sox been ejected for "balance" every time a Devil Rays player got ejected? If that were true, the Devil Rays could get the Red Sox punished for the Devil Rays' own bad behavior. Which brings us back to the 2016 election.

    The Clinton-Trump election is like this. One side is way outside the established rules and falling behind. The other is playing carefully by the rules and winning. The rule-breakers are protesting loudly that things are not fair and many in the media (who now behave, in the worst possible way, like sportscasters) are coddling those complaints and seeking to punish the winning campaign for the losing campaign's misdeeds. This dynamic will only intensify when Trump next falls further behind in the polls. He will do his damnedest to get Hillary thrown out of the game.

    To some, including some people who make their living as Serious Journalists, this seems only fair. Because they have lost their sense of what fairness actually entails.

    Comments

    This is really something Doc.

    Just as an aside, Q once hit one of my blogs in the last few years and honored my Minnesota Twins.

    We had this batter by the name of Tony Oliva who was one of the greatest batters of all time.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Oliva

    He was batting over 400 one year and the pitchers just began throwing at his head.

    It was a damn shame.

    Oliva was hit so damn many times, he lost his mojo.

    Tony ended up hitting 380 or so.

    BUT DAMN!

    One side of this election contest is way off the mark.

    There are no rules.

    And in the end, the supposed 'umpires' have no sense of fairness.

    As the bad guys just throw their entrails.

    hahahahah

    ​The only umps we have in this nation are the voters.

    LET US PRAY.


    Driftglass on 'serious journalists':

    "After years of maintaining the Big Both Siderist Lie by lending its tattered mantle of respectability to an increasingly dangerous and bizarre gallery of Conservative lunatics and con men in order to achieve "balance", the Beltway media finally arrived at the place it was headed all along:  with a Republican Party which was now so openly and confidently racist and insane that there is no possibility of wishing it away any longer."

     DG Shines light on 2 of the tribe, Brooks & Fournier:


    Nice Polite Republicans Radio, Morning Edition:

    9/6-"this campaign anything but traditional (ohhh?....on both sides..?), it is a horse race, Trump has had trouble with message discipline (has he, did he say so, the KKK loves it..?) and has changed that recently has narrowed gap, Trump is now staying on message (or obfuscating and dissempbling?) he says he will "restore America's strength in world, says China pushing US around".

    Why is this so close Mara Liasson?

    Mara: Both sides are the most unpopular candidates ever, both have historically high unfavorablity, more than half supporters from both sides say vote is against a candidate, so inspite of all Hillary endorsements race is close, the electorate is in the mood for change, the change candidate is Donald Trump yet he has not yet passed the plausibility test with enough voters, we wait for the debates....

    Mara Liasson: "Trump has not passed the plausibility test".....which is exactly what???

    Plausibility to be the leader of America and the free world?

    Does that have anything to do with his record of never holding or running for public or government office?

    Never specifying details of policy beyond 'making it great, ending something the first day or first week in office'.

    Record of lawsuits, bankruptcies, scams and business failures, incendiary statements, dislike of him and his statements from abroad, reckless positions on NATO and treaty commitments, ludicrous plans like 'the wall' paid for by Mexico?

     


    ahh-plausibility....


    One quibble:  it was Florida's AG (Bondi), not a DA, who accepted the donation and then in a completely unrelated development chose not to pursue charges against Trump U.


    Maybe that's what Fox means by (Fair and) Balanced?  http://mediamatters.org/video/2016/09/04/fox-s-chris-wallace-its-not-my-...

    Of course, Chuck Todd said nearly the same thing years ago - http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/chuck-todd-it-s-not-media-s-job-to....  He's also on record as saying that if he asks questions that are too tough then he won't get the guests back on his show, and what could possibly be more important than that?


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