The Daily Howler

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The Daily Howler
small
Web address DailyHowler.blogspot.com
Slogan Caveat lector
Type of site Political blog
Available in English
Created by Bob Somerby
Launched April 1, 1998

The Daily Howler is an American political blog written by Bob Somerby. It was perhaps the first major political blog, started in 1998. The style is by turns earnest and sarcastic. Somerby criticizes what he considers the media's frequently biased or lazy coverage. In his view, the media frequently latch on to a generally agreed "script" with little regard for facts that contradict the script. For instance, in the runup to the U.S. 2000 election it was frequently said or assumed that Al Gore was untruthful, but Somerby shows that much of what supposedly underlay that script was in fact untrue, misrepresented or greatly exaggerated.[1] He also argues that the media frequently ignore substantive issues and concentrate on trivial ones instead (in the 2000 presidential election, for example, professing bewilderment in response to the candidates' budget proposals while writing repeatedly and at length about irrelevant issues such as Gore's choice of clothes, or in 2006 writing articles about Barack Obama's middle name.) Despite being left of center in his politics, Somerby mainly critiques liberals in the U.S. mainstream media who he feels do poor journalism, such as Rachel Maddow[2] and Keith Olbermann,[3] both of MSNBC.

The Daily Howler critiques education writing, often by analyzing badly reported data on scholastic achievement in low income or minority populations. For example, Somerby dissected a 2005 PBS "feel good" documentary Making Schools Work that touted the achievements in a low-income school district, showing that the showcased test score gains were neither remarkable (they were similar to average statewide score increases) nor indicative of large achievement (as evidenced by NAEP national tests).[4] On the other hand, journalist Robert Samuelson supported a claim that public schools have made minimal progress since 1970 by using aggregated NAEP statistics that hid the spectacular multiple grade-level increases in the achievement levels of African American students.[5] Similarly, a Washington Post article turned Maryland's twelfth-in-the-nation average eighth-grade math score into "last among the 50 states" by looking at differences rather than absolute numbers.[6] Among other frequent education themes, Somerby criticizes reporting on Teach For America[7] and what he calls "high-minded" punditry.[8]

In January 2010, Somerby started a companion blog How He Got There where he is posting a book on the 2000 U.S. presidential election piece-by-piece as he writes it.

Bob Somerby is also a professional stand up comic. He has appeared on Larry King Live, with Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly and with Brian Lamb on C-SPAN. In college at Harvard, he was roommates with the actor Tommy Lee Jones and former Vice President Al Gore. After college he taught for twelve years in Baltimore public elementary schools.

Commentary[edit]

A message to my fellow journalists: check out media watch sites like campaigndesk.org, mediamatters.org and dailyhowler.com. It's good to see ourselves as others see us. I've been finding The Daily Howler's concept of a media "script", a story line that shapes coverage, often in the teeth of the evidence, particularly helpful in understanding cable news.

  • From a Virginian-Pilot editorial writer:[11] ...his persistent needling made something of a splash in state education circles last week. ... What he’s discovered about the way Virginia calculates school accreditation ratings ought to be far more broadly understood.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Somerby, Bob (Jan 2010). "How He Got There, Chapter 2: Inventing a LIAR". Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  2. ^ Somerby, Bob (2009-04-15). "Try Telling the Truth! Maddow was emoting hard—and handing us rubes half a story". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  3. ^ Somerby, Bob (2009-04-09). "Greetings from the Idiocracy! KO’s report may have been the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen on cable". Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  4. ^ Somerby, Bob (Nov 17, 2005), Special Report: Gush, Gush, Sweet Charlotte!  and Special report: You know the drill!, Nov 29, 2005  (scroll down to the Special Reports).
  5. ^ Somerby, Bob (Sep 8, 2010). "Special report: Who cares about black kids!". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  6. ^ Somerby, Bob (Sep 13, 2010). "Epilogue". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  7. ^ Somerby, Bob (July 14, 2008), Special Report: Worst Interview Ever?  (scroll down to the Special Report).
  8. ^ Somerby, Bob (March 9, 2009), Type The Right Thing: Broder typed a standard script–a script which is highly high-minded .
  9. ^ Twomey, Steve (Jan–Feb 2005). "The Howler’s Quiet Moment". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Krugman, Paul (2009-08-04). "Reading the Script". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  11. ^ Edds, Margaret (2006-03-19). "Web watchdog sniffs out SOL quirk". The Virginian-Pilot (Hampton Roads, VA). Retrieved 2 March 2010. 

External links[edit]