The Newsbusters crew, not yet over the fainting spell they went through upon learning that longtime friends Rahm Emanuel and George Stephanopoulos talk on the telephone, thinks it has found more evidence of a shadowy leftist cabal. Here's Warner Todd Huston, under the overheated headline "WaPost Shocker: Obama Staffers Attend Secret Dinners With Lefty Media":
HUSTON: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz has let the cat out of the bag in the Post's April 27 issue about a regularly scheduled secret media dinner attended by some of the top left-wing journalists in the country. But it isn't just the lefty scribblers that have attended these secret, off-the-record dinners for these gatherings have each featured a guest. Rahm Emanuel, Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have all recently had their chance to schmooze the press and guide them with the spin desired by the White House.
So, not only does Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have secret daily phone calls with which to program the media's coverage of the White House, now it is revealed that Emanuel and other Obama staffers have been attending secret dinners to help the press understand what the White House wants reported? As Kurtz says, it all sounds "rather cozy," doesn't it?
Huston continues: "The secret dinners for Obama staffers and his boosters in the Old Media have been going on for 'more than a year' and are sponsored by David Bradley, the owner of the Atlantic."
That's a pretty glaring distortion of Kurtz' report; the "secret dinners for Obama staffers" are actually dinners that sometimes involve Obama staffers. Other guests have included Karl Rove, General David Petraeus, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and GE's Jeffrey Immelt.
More Huston: "In attendance have been some of the most well known lefty journalists in Washington. Not surprisingly, not a single name mentioned in the Kurtz report is conservative." Huston then quoted a paragraph in which Kurtz listed some of the regular attendees. The very first name listed? Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks.
Still more Huston:
HUSTON: Kurtz tries to liken these secret media programing dinners to those long-held dinners put on by Godfrey Sperling until he retired from the Christian Science Monitor. But those dinners were not secret, were on the record, and were also not by invite only as are the Atlantic's dinners.
Wow, Huston really caught Kurtz pulling a fast one, huh? Oh, wait - Kurtz drew precisely the same differences between the Sperling and Bradley gatherings that Huston pretends Kurtz ignored:
KURTZ: Bradley, a native Washingtonian, had long been intrigued by the Sperling breakfasts, the 35-year ritual conducted by the Christian Science Monitor's Godfrey Sperling until his retirement. But those were on-the-record affairs open to any hungry journalist, while Bradley's dinners are both uber-exclusive and decidedly discreet.
Finally, Huston admits that some of the dinner guests have been conservatives. But he tries to explain it away - unsurprising, since it destroys his premise that the dinners are "secret dinners for Obama staffers":
HUSTON: Kurtz also reports that a few Bush folks have been invited to the dinner. Carl Rove is mentioned, but one rather assumes he had long since left the Bush White Hose before that invite came. From Kurtz' reporting, it seems rather clear that this secret dinner has been rather more left-leaning than not.
I'm not sure why it matters if Rove had left the Bush White House before he was invited to the dinner; it isn't like he has since become a liberal Democrat. But I do rather think that Huston would be rather well-served by being rather more careful about his writing, given that just two days ago he posted a lengthy screed attacking Sean Penn as an "illiterate":
HUSTON: Penn's brand is proof of the lowest quality of education. I mean the man can barely put two words together sensibly much less exhibit a grasp of grammar and syntax. It really is a crime how badly he's been educated.
It's "Karl" Rove, Warner. Not "Carl." And the President lives and works in the "White House," not the "White Hose."