Monday, June 23, 2008

MSNBC Continues the Kos Meme on Berkowitz vs. Young

MSNBC did an Ethan Berkowitz the musher story today. It was called Way Up North....

About a musher who doesn't actually exist.

It described two races - not dogsled races - that also don't exist. The Ethan Berkowitz-Don Young race, or - if something the article can't describe happens - the Ethan Berkowitz Sean Parnell race.

Berkowitz has worked with dog teams here and there over the years, from Antarctica to Spenard. But his mushing creds run rather short. Don Young has taken numerous photo ops over the years on dogsleds, with mushers, giving out awards to teams at the ends of races. I'm not aware of any mushing pictures of Sean Parnell out there, but there have to be some, eh?

The MSNBC article, by L. D. Kirshenbaum, fails to mention that Ethan Berkowitz isn't running his dogs against Young or Parnell. He may not get to.

To its credit, the Berkowitz campaign web page hasn't yet linked to Kirshenbaum's piece of failed journalism. Instead, they put up a header on their press page today describing his Sunday debate in Fairbanks with the musher he's got to beat, Diane Benson. The header says:

Democrats Benson, Berkowitz agree on energy, attack Young

It is the first time either campaign has acknowledged their opponent in a campaign page header. Hats off to Ethan's new campaign team. They probably found some new found respect for Benson in the Sunday debate in Fairbanks, hosted by the Fairbanks Democrats.

When I first started volunteering for Diane Benson, two years ago, she described something quite moving. When she got back to Chugiak from attending to her son and other wounded warriors in early 2006, she saw hers and her son's dogs were restless from inattention, lack of exercise. She checked them out, gave them lots of pats and hugs and soft words.

Diane and Latseen didn't have a lot of dogs by serious mushing standards, but she got a good team together, mixing her son's dogs with her own.

She ran them hard. For several days. The dogs loved it!

She cried a lot.

Soon afterward, Diane Benson began her race to truly represent us.

I doubt the Berkowitz campaign has anything to do with the false meme portrayed by Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos and by MNBC's article today, that Benson's campaign doesn't exist. I over-reacted back in early May, blaming part of this myth's advancement on Jake Metcalfe and Ethan, after seeing continuing neglect of Benson's fight, in an injudicious way. I'm learning.

But two things strike me as important, as the MSNBC article continues this false narrative. The first is that Alaskans resent it when outsiders like Moulitsas and MSNBC totally misunderstand what is happening in Alaska. The second is that the Berkowitz campaign may or may not wish to continue taking advantage of this myth, as they did to raise money based on Kos's articles.

We'll see...

Update - Tuesday, 11:00a.m: Steve at What Do I Know? is also piqued by the MSNBC article's errors of omission.

A commenter notes that since PA posted this essay, the Berkowitz campaign has linked to the egregious MSNBC story.


clark said...

the kos debacle is really, really beginning to bug me now. if diane wins the primary, are you planning to post at daily kos about it? i wonder what markos's reaction will be? i wonder what anyone else would say, if they knew that advocacy by the site owner is ignoring the more progressive of the two democratic candidates in an important US house race against an entrenched, embattled republican? would they welcome the same tactics in their own district's house race? i also wonder, has anyone approached a more progressive national advocacy group such as DFA about channeling some money to benson and increasing awareness of her campaign?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Phil, I'm surprised that you failed to notice the fact that the "reason" Diane's name hasn't been in any of the headers on the Berkowitz press page is because the media has yet to put her name in articles about she and Ethan. The headers on the press page (at least the one you provided a link to) are the titles of the articles written by the media. As far as I can tell from looking through those articles they post on their website, they just copy and paste the words used by whatever media outlet wrote a particular article.

Also -- the MSNBC article is on the Berkowitz website. It's right above the article about the debate.

I'm not sure I read the MSNBC article with the same bias as you, but here's what I came away with (at least in reference to dog mushing): it was only the hook MSNBC used to open the article. As the writer puts it, mushing is "the northern equivalent of kissing babies."

One of the points of the article, as I read it anyway, was that candidates form Alaska might be trying to "out Alaska" each other, but that's pointless. To Ethan's credit -- which I know you are not likely to give him -- his closing quote really summed it up best: "It’s not about how many miles you’ve logged mushing dogs... there are all kinds of Alaskans, and all kinds of ways to be Alaskan."

Pretty astute observation, if you ask me. If we've learned anything from our current Congressman, having "Alaska cred" doesn't necessarily mean you'll be a great congressman or congresswoman.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ #2

It is getting pretty tiresome responding to the various anonymouses.

1) posting as "anonymous" is an option here. I'm not about to stop people from posting that way here.

2) but I find it difficult to have much respect for people who post long "anonymous" comments here. You do have the option of creating a "nom de blog" to differentiate one anonymous from others. Or you could put your real name at the bottom of your comment. It takes less than 15 seconds...

Philip Munger said...


Thanks for the observation/suggestion.

I don't clear my posts about any candidate with the candidate or candidate's staff. Over the months, posts here have brought money in to more than one candidate for more than one reason.

Some essays I've posted here have been posted elsewhere. Sometimes the editors of other blogs have modified my essays to better suit their readers. Howie Klein regularly does small changes to my DWT posts. Sometimes I've modified them myself for other readers.

As far as the Benson or Berkowitz campaigns, or any other campaigns coming up with more innovative fundraising strategies that use the web - please call their campaigns with your suggestions!!

In the past 24 hours, I've been in touch with people volunteering for or being paid by seven campaigns, and in touch with Sen. Stevens' office (I called two hours ago to ask Sen. Stevens to consider the Feingold motion on the proposed new FISA legislation).

Linda Scates said...

Phil, I saw Markos' smug little mug on Countdown yesterday afternoon, and if we hadn't just bought a brand new HDTV, I probably would have thrown a shoe at him. I'm not quite sure what makes him think he's an expert on what's best for Alaska, and why he continues to misrepresent this election, but I wish he would knock it off.

I have nothing against Ethan (I don't really know him, after all), but I do know Diane, and I know that her experiences in the "real world" have uniquely qualified her to represent us in the "people's House."

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Phil -- Anon #2 here. Don't be mad that I don't have a Blogger account. I never read a blog regularly until yours.

The first point of my post is this: I don't think Ethan is snubbing Diane. Looking at their website, at least the "In the News" section, it looks to me like they just copy and paste the titles of articles. So it's the media that's leaving her out of the titles, not Berkowitz.

The second point (and this is the one I'd like you to discuss) is the question of "I'm more Alaska than you" between candidates. Don basically says that in this article. I remember Murkowski saying that about Knowles (and his campaign staff) in 2004. And you kind of imply it in the article too.

Is that a fair measure of a candidate? Just because Don is more Alaskan than anybody else (and he's got the trinkets in his DC office to prove it!) does that mean he should be re-elected?

Philip Munger said...

To paraphrase Ethan on Benson, "I like Ethan." I haven't heard Benson pull the "I'm more Alaskan than you" thing on Berkowitz. Nor does this site.

It is far more important to me that Benson is a solid progressive and that Berkowitz - in terms of his funding from such sources as Veco and Rahm Emanuel - and in regard to health care, is distinctly NOT progressive.

What I'm saying in regard to what seems to concern you is that the MSNBC hack gave readers all over the world a distinctly erroneous story. Neither Berkowitz nor Benson are running against Don Young. They are running against each other. That is the ONLY race those two are currently legally in.

Chances are neither of them will be. The August winner, very much in play yet, will run - most likely - against Sean Parnell.

clark said...

i probably will call the kos thing to the benson campaign's attention at some point. not sure what difference it makes really -- it will be doubly funny when she actually wins and they called it so wrong. it's just a huge disappointment to me, because i considered daily kos to be credible. it makes me wonder what else they're getting totally wrong, or how much of the rest is agenda-driven and intentionally misleading?
i did send a note today to the 'votemaster' at electoral vote, a site that's proud of its predictions of presidential and congressional races... and let him know about benson and asked him to stop representing berkowitz as the democratic nominee.
i don't have anything against berkowitz, either. just belive benson is the far superior choice.

Anonymous said...

Anon#2 here again -- here are the direct quotes from your blog that make it sound like "Ethan's not Alaskan enough" to represent us:

"Berkowitz has worked with dog teams here and there over the years, from Antarctica to Spenard. But his mushing creds run rather short."

Okay, so his mushing creds fall short. He's not quite Alaskan enough.

"She ran them hard. For several days. The dogs loved it! She cried a lot. Soon afterward, Diane Benson began her race to truly represent us."

Okay, so apparently her mushing creds are stronger and thus she can "truly represent us."

That's how this blog reads to me...