The Boys on the Bus

It is discouraging that despite being a fixture in political and journalism syllabi, not much seems to have been learned in the 44 years since Timothy Crouse’s seminal The Boys on the the Bus took place.  Crouse’s book-length study of the press covering the 1972 presidential election highlights issues with campaign and White House journalism which has largely remained the same (and perhaps gotten worse) since.  While the technological innovations have made things different, and the proliferation of the 24-hour news has made the demands of journalists for content greater – what Crouse discovers has not dated in any meaningful way.  It paints a grim picture of the press, but a sympathetic one.  What has devolved was inevitable.

Crouse at the time worked for Rolling Stone in its fledgling political department.  The big hitter in the politics department was Hunter S. Thompson (who wrote a notable book on the election himself), but for lots of reasons (all quite obvious if you know anything about Thompson) he was not writing factually heavy, meaty “reporting”.  That was Crouse’s bag (along with presumably cleaning up Thompson’s vomit).  While covering the campaign, Crouse decided to turn the eyes towards the press covering the events, to uncover the tendencies and challenges for these (largely) men who had a very very thankless job.

The 1972 Presidential election happened to be a very good election to look at if you were going to study this sort of thing – as Richard Nixon was running for re-election against South Dakota Senator George McGovern.  Nixon, who was elected in 1968 after a remarkable political comeback – was deeply suspicious of the press whom he accused (not without merit) of favoring John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election.  In his 1968 incarnation, Nixon’s strategy – was to rely on statements and news releases and photo ops to announce policy while more or less eliminating access to the press.  He held one of the lowest number of press conferences in history throughout his tenure as president.  Indeed, he apparently never actually campaigned as a candidate and bristled at the notion that he was – there were no debates.  On the other hand, George McGovern’s campaign had it all – McGovern’s aides were former journalists and broke bread with them, he was an upstart candidate who stunned the establishment to get the primary nod, and then fell apart with a Vice Presidential Nominee scandal.

Against this backdrop, Crouse shows a press corps in its tiers and cliques – the national writers, the large papers who do the dailies – the wire services who set the tone for the coverage (more below), the magazine writers and the television reporters.  With the sort of concentrated coverage a candidate – let alone the President – receives, each campaign becomes a very insular bubble.  When combined with the competitive pressures of day to day journalism and actually fairly well intentioned notions of journalistic integrity – what results is a press corps which – in 1972 totally neglected Watergate while covering McGovern much more harshly than they ever covered Nixon.  Crouse explores a lot of themes here which still resonate today:

  • Copying off of the popular kids – in 1972, while most people got their news from newspapers, most towns got their news from the wire.  As such, the Associated Press and UPI reporters had inordinate editorial influence.  Editors were deeply suspicious of ledes that did not align with the AP (and indeed, the AP stories were usually the most immediate ones).
  •  Faux objectivity – From Crouse’s research, most of the reporters actually did like McGovern more.  However, to reconcile this with their sense of objectivity, many reporters were much harder on McGovern.  Additionally, McGovern gave so much more access – there was just more to say.  By comparison, reporters covering Nixon were almost admiring of the professionalism with which Ziegler browbeat them.
  • Pack journalism – You’re not going to get much good information from the folks following a campaign – but the editorial pressure to not be left behind almost forces the reporters to follow and write down the same stuff.  So we get coverage about what the candidates ate – and photo ops.  It is easier to cover the personalities than the issues – and the editors did not want that anyway.  Indeed it seems like the editors were happy to have inside dish, but not for public consumption.
  • The White House Correspondent Capture – The White House Correspondents Association existed in 1972 – according to Crouse almost exclusively to put on the Nerd Prom.  Crouse’s coverage here is particular harsh as he talks of a White House corps which saw themselves as part of the White House itself.  Of course, this describes DC reporting perfectly.  All of these reporters live in town and are so intertwined with the folks they cover – you are left with conventional wisdom because that is all anyone hears.

These themes are infuriating – and Crouse’s coverage of folks readers know (like RW Apple, David Broder) reveal a sort of collective abdication of real reporting in such a way that he vapidity of stuff Chuck Todd says almost seems natural.  They don’t discuss issues because they can’t (even Watergate was broken by folks on the city desk – before Woodward and Bernstein were assimilated by the DC press borg).  At the same time, the book is a pleasure to read throughout – and going behind the scenes about how all this stuff works is consistently engaging, even if it is a bit disspiriting.

 

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 11)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in CAPS

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) SOUTHERN/FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
  • (8) Wisconsin v (9) Notre Dame
  • (4) Utah v (13) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
  • (5) SETON HALL v (12) UNC-WILMINGTON
  • (2) OREGON v (15) GREEN BAY
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Colorado
  • (3) Xavier v (14) MIDDLE TENNESSEE
  • (6) Texas v (11) USC

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) AUSTIN PEAY/HOLY CROSS
  • (8) Texas Tech v (9) Saint Mary’s
  • (4) Indiana v (13) CHATTANOOGA
  • (5) Arizona v (12) STEPHEN F AUSTIN
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) Buffalo
  • (7) Connecticut v (10) Pittsburgh
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD
  • (6) Iowa v (11) Michigan/Oregon State

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) HAMPTON
  • (8) Providence v (9) Vanderbilt
  • (4) Texas A&M v (13) NORTHERN IOWA
  • (5) Baylor v (12) YALE
  • (2) Oklahoma v (15) UNC-ASHEVILLE
  • (7) Gonzaga v (10) VCU
  • (3) Purdue v (14) IONA
  • (6) Duke v (11) South Carolina/Syracuse

REGION D:

  • (1) NORTH CAROLINA v (16) FLORIDA GULF COAST
  • (8) Saint Joseph’s v (9) Cincinnati
  • (4) Iowa State v (13) FRESNO STATE
  • (5) California v (12) HAWAII
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) WEBER STATE
  • (7) Butler v (10) Dayton
  • (3) Kentucky v (14) STONY BROOK
  • (6) Maryland v (11) AR-Little Rock

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Pittsburgh, Michigan, VCU, USC

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: Colorado, South Carolina, Syracuse, Oregon State

FIRST FOUR OUT: Florida, Valparaiso, Kansas State, Florida State

NEXT FOUR OUT: Creighton, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Washington

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 11)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in CAPS

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) SOUTHERN/FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
  • (8) Notre Dame v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Arizona v (13) UNC-WILMINGTON
  • (5) Texas A&M v (12) Stephen F Austin
  • (2) Xavier v (15) GREEN BAY
  • (7) WICHITA STATE v (10) San Diego State
  • (3) Oregon v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) Texas v (11) VCU

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) HAMPTON/HOLY CROSS
  • (8) Wisconsin v (9) Saint Mary’s
  • (4) Indiana v (13) Akron
  • (5) Baylor v (12) YALE
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) Middle Tennessee
  • (7) GONZAGA v (10) Michigan
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) IONA
  • (6) Iowa v (11) USC

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) AUSTIN PEAY
  • (8) Texas Tech v (9) Saint Joseph’s
  • (4) Iowa State v (13) SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
  • (5) California v (12) Hawaii
  • (2) Oklahoma v (15) UNC-ASHEVILLE
  • (7) Butler v (10) Pittsburgh
  • (3) Utah v (14) Stony Brook
  • (6) Duke v (11) Colorado/Oregon State

REGION D:

  • (1) North Carolina v (16) FLORIDA GULF COAST
  • (8) Connecticut v (9) Cincinnati
  • (4) Kentucky v (13) CHATTANOOGA
  • (5) Maryland v (12) Arkansas-Little Rock
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) Weber State
  • (7) Providence v (10) Vanderbilt
  • (3) Purdue v (14) NORTHERN IOWA
  • (6) Seton Hall v (11) South Carolina/Syracuse

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Pittsburgh, Michigan, VCU, USC

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: Colorado, South Carolina, Syracuse, Oregon State

FIRST FOUR OUT: Florida, Valparaiso, Kansas State, Florida State

NEXT FOUR OUT: Creighton, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Washington

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 10)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in BOLD

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) Hampton/Fairleigh Dickinson
  • (8) Texas Tech v (9) Saint Mary’s
  • (4) Kentucky v (13) UNC-Wilmington
  • (5) California v (12) Stephen F Austin
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) Green Bay
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) USC
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) New Mexico State
  • (6) Texas v (11) Colorado

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) Austin Peay/Holy Cross
  • (8) Wisconsin v (9) Connecticut
  • (4) Arizona v (13) Akron
  • (5) Baylor v (12) Hawaii
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) Middle Tennessee
  • (7) Notre Dame v (10) South Carolina
  • (3) Oregon v (14) Iona
  • (6) Iowa v (11) VCU/Syracuse

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) Texas Southern
  • (8) Cincinnati v (9) Vanderbilt
  • (4) Purdue v (13) South Dakota State
  • (5) Texas A&M v (12) Yale
  • (2) Xavier v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Butler v (10) Pittsburgh
  • (3) Indiana v (14) Stony Brook
  • (6) Seton Hall v (11) San Diego State

REGION D:

  • (1) Oklahoma v (16) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (8) Providence v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Iowa State v (13) Chattanoooga 
  • (5) Duke v (12) Arkansas-Little Rock
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) Weber State
  • (7) Gonzaga v (10) Saint Joseph’s
  • (3) Utah v (14) Northern Iowa
  • (6) Maryland v (11) Michigan/Oregon State

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Pittsburgh, South Carolina, USC, Colorado

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: VCU, Michigan, Oregon State, Syracuse

FIRST FOUR OUT: Florida, Valparaiso, Tulsa, Houston

NEXT FOUR OUT: Florida State, Kansas State, Creighton, Virginia Tech

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 9)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in BOLD

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) Austin Peay/Holy Cross
  • (8) Texas Tech v (9) Connecticut
  • (4) Arizona v (13) UNC-Wilmington
  • (5) Duke v (12) Stephen F Austin
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Butler v (10) Colorado
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) UAB
  • (6) Seton Hall v (11) South Carolina

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) Hampton/Fairleigh Dickinson
  • (8) Notre Dame v (9) Saint Mary’s
  • (4) Kentucky v (13) Akron
  • (5) Iowa v (12) Hawaii
  • (2) Xavier v (15) Green Bay
  • (7) Wisconsin v (10) USC
  • (3) Oregon v (14) Iona
  • (6) Baylor v (11) VCU/Michigan

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) Texas Southern
  • (8) Vanderbilt v (9) Pittsburgh
  • (4) Purdue v (13) South Dakota State
  • (5) California v (12) Yale
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Saint Joseph’s
  • (3) Indiana v (14) Stony Brook
  • (6) Texas v (11) Oregon State/Syracuse

REGION D:

  • (1) Oklahoma v (16) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (8) Cincinnati v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Utah v (13) Chattanooga
  • (5) Texas A&M v (12) Arkansas-Little Rock
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) Weber State
  • (7) Gonzaga v (10) Providence
  • (3) Iowa State v (14) Northern Iowa
  • (6) Maryland v (11) San Diego State

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Saint Joseph’s, USC, Colorado, South Carolina

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: VCU, Oregon State, Syracuse, Michigan

FIRST FOUR OUT: Valparaiso, Florida, Tulsa, Houston

NEXT FOUR OUT: Kansas State, Florida State, Creighton, Georgia Tech

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 8)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in BOLD

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) Austin Peay/Hampton
  • (8) Notre Dame v (9) Saint Mary’s
  • (4) Arizona v (13) UNC-Wilmington
  • (5) Duke v (12) Stephen F Austin
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Butler v (10) VCU
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) Iona
  • (6) Seton Hall v (11) Syracuse

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) Texas Southern/Fairleigh Dickinson
  • (8) Vanderbilt v (9) Connecticut
  • (4) Kentucky v (13) Akron
  • (5) Iowa v (12) Hawaii
  • (2) Xavier v (15) Green Bay
  • (7) Wisconsin v (10) South Carolina
  • (3) Oregon v (14) UAB
  • (6) Baylor v (11) San Diego State

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) Florida Gulf Coast
  • (8) Cincinnati v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Purdue v (13) South Dakota State
  • (5) Texas A&M v (12) Yale
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Texas Tech v (10) Saint Joseph’s
  • (3) Indiana v (14) Stony Brook
  • (6) Texas v (11) Colorado/Florida State

REGION D:

  • (1) Oklahoma v (16) Lehigh
  • (8) Gonzaga v (9) Providence
  • (4) Utah v (13) Chattanooga
  • (5) California v (12) Arkansas-Little Rock
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) Weber State
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Pittsburgh
  • (3) Iowa State v (14) Northern Iowa
  • (6) Maryland v (11) USC/Michigan

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Saint Joseph’s, South Carolina, VCU, Syracuse

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: Colorado, USC, Michigan, Florida State

FIRST FOUR OUT: Oregon State, Florida, Valparaiso, Tulsa

NEXT FOUR OUT: Houston, Kansas State, Creighton, Georgia Tech

Mock Tournament – 2015/16 NCAA Men’s Basketball (results thru March 7)

For the whole season I’ve been fitting Bradley-Terry results, and that still holds.  But another consideration is “HOW” you play – and nothing captures that better in a simple way than Ken Pomeroy (and schedule adjusted also).  Giving them equal weight?  I used the “Bradley-Terry” winning percentage as one scale and KenPom’s pythag ratings as another.  Averaging them, how do things change?  We’ll track this the rest of the way.  Automatics in BOLD

REGION A:

  • (1) Kansas v (16) Florida Gulf Coast/Hampton
  • (8) Notre Dame v (9) Connecticut
  • (4) Arizona v (13) UNC-Wilmington
  • (5) Duke v (12) Stephen F Austin
  • (2) North Carolina v (15) New Mexico State
  • (7) Butler v (10) VCU
  • (3) Miami-FL v (14) UAB
  • (6) Seton Hall v (11) Syracuse

REGION B:

  • (1) Villanova v (16) Texas Southern/Austin Peay
  • (8) Vanderbilt v (9) Gonzaga
  • (4) Kentucky v (13) Akron
  • (5) Iowa v (12) Hawaii
  • (2) Xavier v (15) Green Bay
  • (7) Wisconsin v (10) South Carolina
  • (3) Oregon v (14) Iona
  • (6) Baylor v (11) San Diego State

REGION C:

  • (1) Virginia v (16) Lehigh
  • (8) Cincinnati v (9) Dayton
  • (4) Purdue v (13) South Dakota State
  • (5) California v (12) Yale
  • (2) West Virginia v (15) UNC-Asheville
  • (7) Texas Tech v (10) Saint Joseph’s
  • (3) Indiana v (14) Stony Brook
  • (6) Texas v (11) Colorado/Oregon State

REGION D:

  • (1) Oklahoma v (16) Wagner
  • (8) Saint Mary’s v (9) Providence
  • (4) Utah v (13) Chattanooga
  • (5) Texas A&M v (12) Arkansas-Little Rock
  • (2) Michigan State v (15) Weber State
  • (7) Wichita State v (10) Pittsburgh
  • (3) Iowa State v (14) Northern Iowa
  • (6) Maryland v (11) USC/Michigan

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 64: Saint Joseph’s, South Carolina, VCU, Syracuse

LAST FOUR IN FIELD OF 68: Colorado, USC, Michigan, Oregon State

FIRST FOUR OUT: Florida State, Florida, Valparaiso, Tulsa

NEXT FOUR OUT: Houston, Kansas State, Creighton, Georgia Tech