The Deaf Claque

Because they’re worth clapping for…probably…

Op-Ed: A Political News Media Form

Central to the theory of the constitutional republic is the press—or news media—as a facilitator of political discourse as well as a means of political information of the masses (5). It follows then that any constitutional republic must therefore contain and utilize a body that serves this purpose; the United States, as an example of this governmental mode, must adhere to this basic principle. In opposition to this view is the argument that the contemporary news media should shape their output material with readings of informational or program popularity as its main content barometer.

Constitutional framer Alexander Hamilton argued for a dynamic conception of the press, with respect to its liberties and restraints, subject to the opinions of the people (1). This point is often extended to argue in defense of “infotainment”—a form of media that mix information and entertainment in response to the reception of the people—and includes stories of which the chief aim of content is to entertain rather than to inform (4). Playing to popularity in this way is not universally bad; there are some important points to be made regarding this. First, a definition of the news must be understood: in an article for The Poynter Institute, David Zeeck thinks of news as a “manifestation of a human desire to know what’s going on” (6). This definition provides for a wide variety of interpretations as to the role of the news media by the way in which they fulfill this desire. Based on this understanding it is clear to see that the media in general must be separated into categories depending on the specific desires each category intends to fulfill; news of which the chief am is to fulfill the desire to be entertained should be distinct from that of which the chief aim is to provide a platform for political discourse. Key to understanding this concept of media compartmentalization is the idea that the chief nature of the specific material must cohere to the desire to be fulfilled.

A perfect example of an improper mixing of material under a single category is Bill O’Reilly’s interview with “Obama Girl,” a sensationalist political icon from this past election. In one of his intended “hard news”—news concerning issues of import—segments devoted to the 2008 presidential campaign, O’Reilly interviews “Obama Girl,” legitimizing in the sphere of public political discourse sensationalism that is irrelevant to critical political evaluation (3). There is a place in the media for entertaining news and a place for news relevant to political discourse but issues of the former should never be cast as that of the latter. Journalist Christopher Patton argues that viewers of infotainment programs such as The Daily Show actually are among the most informed and therefore this form of infotainment can be and is a good thing (4). However, the problem with this argument is that it assumes a link of causality between viewership and viewer knowledge that cannot be derived from mere correlation: this finding only states that these viewers are more informed, not why they are more informed.

Finally, the strongest argument in support of the news media as a function of popularity is that hard news is more difficult to sell and that news should be sensationalized in order to retain the attention of viewers—surely if there are no viewers, the material presented is pointless (2). Stephen Harrington, contributor to Journalism, argues that if the content and means of analyzing supposed hard news is altered in order to gain popularity, the content can become something that can no longer be considered hard news and therefore fails in its purpose to serve public political discourse. It should be explicitly noted that this argument holds true only in the specific case that the actual substantial content of the news is altered for purposes of viewership.

There are, however, ways of getting around the problems of low interest in hard news and a degradation of the political news media in the seeming failure to adequately provide for responsible public discourse. This solution rests on three key points. First, the general media should be divided up based on the intent of the content itself: political news media should be distinct from entertainment news media. Second, the primary mission of the political news media must be to educate the public and to encourage honest, accountable political discourse on all levels. Lastly, the way in which the political news and analysis is presented must be enjoyable but the content itself must not be altered as a result. There is no reason why political discourse must be drab in order to be considered legitimate. Indeed, it is conceivable for a model similar to The Daily Show to be implemented in the political news media but with a distinct focus on hard news, solid discourse, and the use of comedy only as tool of analysis. The issue of media functionality and purpose is much more complex than many give it credit for and therefore should not be thought of in terms of simply “popularity or education,” but in terms of how it best serves both society and individuals’ interests.


1. The Federalist Papers No. 38

2. Popular News in the 21st Century (Journalism)


4. In Defense of Infotainment

5. The Role of Media in Democracy

6. Toward a Definition of News

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Journalism, Nathan Schmitt, The Media | Leave a comment

Obama: Executive Order to Close Guantanamo

This morning President Obama signed four executive orders (I’ll provide the link when the white house puts the text up) shutting down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. (Click Here for the video)

He signed the first Executive Order:

“In order to affect the appropriate disposition of individuals currently detained by the DOD at Guantanamo and promptly to close the detention facility at Guantanamo consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the united states and in the interest of justice. We will be setting up a process whereby [Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now].”

The second order:

“Ensures that anybody detained by the US for now is going to have to abide by the army field manual. we believe the afm reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don’t torture that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need.”

The third:

“set[s] up an special inter-agency task force on inter-agency on detainee disposition […] they are going to provide me with information on how we are goign to deal with the disposition of some oft he detainees that may be currently in Guantanamo that we cannot transfer to other countries, who could pose as serious danger to the US but we cannot try because of various problems related to evidence […] and detainee policy going forward so we don’t find ourselves in these kinds of situations in the future.”

And the final is a more specific order asking for the delay of a detainee whose case is currently before the supreme court in order to properly review evidence.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Executive Orders, Guantanamo Bay, Nathan Schmitt, Video | 1 Comment

Deaf Claque is Back: Obama Administration Resources

By Nathan Schmitt

Inauguration 01.20.2009

With the dawn of a new administration and an exciting new political atmosphere, the Deaf Claque will again start to be updated regularly.

I’d like to start by providing a few new resources that I believe had enormous potential to be incredibly informative and will hopefully encourage genuine political discourse:

1. White House Blog: This is the newly established blog for the White House. Its priorities are as follows:

Communication: This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated.

Transparency: The President’s executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review.

Participation: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it” (1)

2. State Department Blog: Statement of purpose: offers the public an alternative source to mainstream media for U.S. foreign policy information. This blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials” (2)

3. Congress’ Daily Digest: Congress’ Daily Digest provides a daily summary of the events of congress and is, of course, updated at the end of each day. It is separated into two parts: the House and the Senate. This is not RSS subscribable but hopefully it will be soon.

4. Speaker of the House’s Blog (Pelosi): For a more detailed look at the House. Updated multiple times daily by both Karina Newton (Pelosi’s Director of New Media) and Speaker Pelosi.

This seems to be a huge step in the right direction and though this is still a new direction, I hope the Obama Administration’s focus on transparency and public accountability is developed and utilized to its full potential. The Judiciary has yet to update its website but hopefully this will take place soon.

If you’re interested in learning how to stay informed with minimal effort let me know and I’ll show you how to set up a blog newsfeed so the news you want comes to you instead of having to search it out (this is mostly for my friends around these geographical parts).

January 22, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Department of State, General Discourse, Hillary Clinton, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Nathan Schmitt, Senate, The Media, White House | 3 Comments

Obama’s Statement on the FISA Bill

I hope this isn't an accurate metaphor for Obamas campaign

Yesterday after hearing about and reading through the FISA bill, I sent an email to Senator Obama/ his campaign. It basically said that I supported him and was very disappointed to see that he voted in favor of the bill.

I also said that though his message is of empowering the people and encouraging them to participate in the political process, his vote had the opposite affect on most that I’ve talked to. It’s one thing to be let down by the Bush Administration, but it’s something else to be let down by someone you support.

Here’s the message I received back; Obama’s statement in response to criticism for his vote:

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

After months of negotiation, the House passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year’s Protect America Act. Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President’s illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future.

It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I voted in the Senate three times to remove this provision so that we could seek full accountability for past offenses. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsuccessful. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people.

I, sir, am not convinced. The bill is considerably better, but taking the opportunity of just compensation for losses from American citizens is just not acceptable, no matter how much better it is than the original bill.

If a car dealer asks $2 Million for a Hyundai, I’m not going to pay $500,000 for it just because it’s a lot better than $2 Million.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bills, Congress, FISA, General Discourse, Nathan Schmitt, Senate | Leave a comment

Phase 2: Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Phase 2 of the Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence was released this past Thursday. In a press conference about it’s release, Senator Jay Rockefeller stated that, “In making the case for war administration officials distorted the facts or were not supported by the facts, and said that they knew or should of known were not true.

The Huffington Post is sadly one of the few news sources that really covered it. Below is an excerpt, kind of the meat of it:

“the breadth of the Committee’s citations of examples in which the Bush administration’s comments were not supported by intelligence could reignite public dissatisfaction over the war. According to a release from Rockefeller’s office that was provided to The Huffington Post, these examples include:

— Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

— Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

— Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

— Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.”

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Congress, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Jon Stewart, Nathan Schmitt, Senate, The Media, Video, White House | , | Leave a comment

UPDATE: The Dainty Knife

Hi, it’s been a while since I’ve posted any news articles. I’ll be coming back to The Deaf Claque sometime in the future, probably when the general elections begin to near; all of this “drama”–if you can even call it that–of the primaries is just too ridiculous and doesn’t deserve real coverage. UPDATE: I will be covering other news over the summer, as there is plenty going on in the world, especially Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the meantime, please visit The Dainty Knife. This is another blog I just started on which my friends and I post all different kinds of media that we find entertaining or uniquely useful in some way.

April 19, 2008 Posted by | Blogs, Nathan Schmitt | 1 Comment

Signing Statement: National Defense Authorization Act for 2008

By Nathan Schmitt

Vodpod videos no longer available.

On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Searchable) (H.R. 4986) along with a signing statement effectively giving himself the power to ignore sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222. Here is a quick summary of these four sections:

§ 841 “established a commission to be known as the `Commission on Wartime Contracting'” that is essentially in charge of investigating defense contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

§ 846 Provides “protection for contractor employees from reprisal for disclosure of certain information” relevant to violations of law regarding such defense contracts.

§ 1079 States that the various heads of Intelligence must deliver requested Intelligence information, within 45 days of such a request, to one of the congressional Committees on Armed Services.

§1222 Prohibits the use of alloted funds for the creation of permanent military bases in Iraq or for the U.S.’s “control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

I’m not quite sure from whence the President claims this authority because he does not explicitly (or implicitly) state why he thinks he has such power. There are however three constitutional provisions that speak directly to this question:
Art. I, § 8, ¶ 12: Congressional Enumerated Powers:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years[…]

This provision vests the power of Military Appropriations specifically in Congress.

Art. I, § 8, ¶ 18: Necessary and Proper Clause:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution [the powers] vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States […]

This provision states (along with Art. I, § 1, ¶ 1) that Congress is the sole legislative body and that it has the power to make laws that it deems necessary and proper to uphold the Constitution.

Art. I, § 7, ¶ 2 & 3: The Presentment Clause:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated […]

This clause lays out the process which a bill must go through to become a law.

The first provision clearly implies that the President does not have the power to overlook Section 1222 of H.R. 4986. It really doesn’t get any more black and white: the power of military appropriations was vest explicitly and distinctly to Congress and the President’s signing statement is therefore in direct conflict of the Presentment Clause.

As far as the other three sections that the President posits to negate, the language of the Presentment Clause is very clear in stating “If he approve[s of the bill] he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections.” This is not a debate of any kind, I’m simply at a loss. The President assumes the power he does on the basis that he wants it, and not on any Constitutional provision, law, statute, case, precedent, etc…


February 13, 2008 Posted by | Bills, Committee on Oversight, Congress, George W. Bush, House of Representatives, Impeachment, Iraq War, Jon Stewart, Nathan Schmitt, Presidential Vetos, Video | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Common: “A Dream”

By Nathan Schmitt

“A Dream” by Common

January 14, 2008 Posted by | music, Nathan Schmitt, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The Primaries

By Nathan Schmitt

I thought it might be helpful, since I haven’t posted in awhile, to show that I’m alive and give a little bit of useful information at the same time.

As you probably know, the 2008 Presidential Primaries have begun and the processes in Iowa and New Hampshire have already taken place. Here are two helpful sources for Primary data that may help keep you informed in this lengthy process.

CNN has a very well organized page on the Primary results. If you click the states in the picture under the headline “Follow the Primaries and Caucuses,” you will be taken to a data summary of that state.

MSNBC’s page is less organized with respect to hard results but it is better for keeping up with current stories relating to the Primaries.

P.S. The headline picture is intended to put the whole process in perspective. Interpret it as you’d like.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | "The Candidates", 2008 Election, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment

Oregon Football: Dennis Dixon out for the Season

By Nathan Schmitt

Star quarterback and first pick for the Heisman (even as I’m writing this, after the post-loss update) went down Thursday at Arizona with a torn ACL. Dixon will be out for the season, a truly tragic turn of events not only for University of Oregon but all of college football.

And there wasn’t a more telling moment in the stadium than watching his expression change from a kid who was home free — paydirt — to a player who was now going to have to explain to America how he felt about fading out of the Heisman Trophy race.

So how does Dixon feel: “I don’t really care about that; I never really cared about it.”

Then he talked about being a good teammate, and cheering for his friends.

It was perfect. And succinct. And telling. But after you looked around Tucson, absorbing the evening, there was one clear thought — is there really a college player worth more to his team anywhere in America?

Consider that Oregon’s beautiful offense was turned into a stumbling, sputtering mess on Thursday. Not because Arizona stopped it. But because Dixon left the field in the second quarter.


In the end, though, the kid capable of winning this game despite all the mistakes was out of uniform in the second quarter. He was ushered into the locker room. His father, Dennis Sr., followed. Inside, there was some shouting, and crying, and later, the father said, “He’s really taking it hard.”

Yet, in the second half, here was Dixon on the sideline, smiling. Cheering. Clapping on third down. He was rooting for Brady Leaf, the guy who stole Dixon’s starting job last season.

When it was done — and it feels done — Ducks coach Mike Bellotti said: ‘When a guy like that goes down, it’s very difficult. I feel bad for Dennis.’” (1)

I would just like to point out the amazing level of maturity and the equal amount of respect he deserves for how he has handled this extremely unfortunate situation.

This is truly a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. I guess in some sad way you could say “Well, it’s good for the other teams.” But is it? What good is a win against a disorganized, emotionally distraught team who is without their leader and half of their explosive offensive line? Quantitatively, it gives the other teams a better chance at winning a national title. But where is the glory, or even the respect, in winning a race against a crying kid on crutches?

Here is the list of the seven injured players i referred to:

Dennis Dixon #10

Jonathan Stewart #28 (Status questionable)

Jeremiah Johnson #24

Brian Paysinger #19

Cameron Colvin #3

John Bacon #40 (Defensive Line)

A.J. Tuitele #34 (Defensive Line) (2)

Dixon, we all wish you a quick and full recovery and thank you for the amazing season. It’s not even a question of how Oregon will do in the BCS, we just wish you and the rest of the injured players a good recovery.

November 17, 2007 Posted by | College Football, General Discourse, Nathan Schmitt | , , , , | Leave a comment