Over at Grist, David Roberts takes TPM's bait revealing who The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes may be using as his super-secret climate change source.
To bring you up to speed...TPM noted Monday afternoon:
Check out this passage from Barnes' latest column for the Weekly Standard:
"Democrats couldn't hide their self-consciousness about the excesses of their own bill. Supporters made few TV appearances to defend it and rarely talked about specific spending items. Obama sounded like Al Gore on global warming. The more the case for man-made warming falls apart, the more hysterical Gore gets about an imminent catastrophe. The more public support his bill loses, the more Obama embraces fear-mongering. (our itals.)"
We hadn't heard anything lately about the case for man-made global warming falling apart. In fact, just the opposite. So we called Barnes and asked him what he was referring to.
At first, he cited the fact that it's been cold lately. Perhaps sensing this was less than convincing, Barnes then asserted that there had been a "cooling spell" in recent years. "Haven't you noticed?" he asked.
Asked for firmer evidence of such cooling, Barnes demurred, telling TPMmuckraker he was too busy to track it down.
We pressed Barnes again: surely he could tell us where he had found this vital new information, which could upend the current debate over how to address global warming.
In response, Barnes said only that he knew where he had found it, but would not tell us, apparently as a matter of principle. "I'm not going to do your research for you," he eventually said, before hurriedly ending the call.
So, who is the super-secret-science-source behind Barnes' ridiculousness? Grist does an admirable job jumping down the rabbit hole:
I'm seeing a lot of people passing around a link to this story on TPM, which mocks Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes for saying that the case for man-made warming is "falling apart" but refusing to divulge any of his sources for that seemingly significant piece of info.
At first I just laughed about it, but it occurred to me later that maybe people really don't know the answer to this question -- maybe people really don't know where Barnes is getting his info. The answer is an open secret:
Barnes gets his information on climate change the same place everyone in the right-wing media world gets it: from Marc Morano, the in-house blogger/agitator for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Morano's entire job is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts that get echoed throughout the right-wing blog world and eventually find their way into places like Fox News and the Weekly Standard. From there they go, via columnists like George Will and Charles Krauthammer, into mainstream outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post.
That's where Barnes gets it. That's where Glenn Beck gets it, and Lou Dobbs, and Will, and Krauthammer, and all the rest of them. This is something everyone involved in climate- or energy-related media knows.
This should come as no surprise. Sen. Inhofe is a greatly respected, neutral arbiter when it comes to the science behind global climate change – if by respected you mean, the oil and gas industry, climate change deniers, and clueless conservative media hacks just love him.
CNN, along with much of the Beltway press, was busy yesterday hyping what might happen when Democrats in the House and Senate met to negotiate the final stimulus bill:
Now that the Senate has passed its economic recovery package, it's time for the really hard part -- trying to reconcile the differences between House and Senate versions of the plan without losing the support needed to pass the final version in both chambers. Senate Democrats are downplaying talk of a contentious battle ahead.
Well, so much for for bitter negotiations battle. Reminds me of how the press was hyping the "bruising" battle that was supposed to unfold around Eric Holder's AG confirmation hearing. That too, never materialized.
The press sure likes to stress how badly things might get for Dems, no?
The Women's Media Center is demanding an apology from Fox News' Bill O'Reilly for mocking veteran White House reporter/columnist Helen Thomas as "old lady" and comparing her to "the Wicked Witch of the East":
On last night's show (February 9th, 2009) O'Reilly compared Ms. Thomas to "the Wicked Witch of the East" along with disparaging remarks about her appearance and age. Guest Bernard Goldberg added his own insult, and even Alan Colmes, while attempting to defend her, seemed to be having too much fun. This kind of verbal degradation in the guise of humor is unacceptable, and as Media Matters has documented, it's part of an on-going pattern where he's targeted Thomas.
It was an attack no woman deserves--including this accomplished, award winning journalist working in the White House press corps, where women are underrepresented. The Women's Media Center demonstrated in its Sexism Sells But We're Not Buying It viral campaign that sexist remarks went unchecked by networks during the primary season. Now, as then, the WMC demands accountability.
An immediate public apology is required.
One of the Luskin columns Gavin links to was Luskin's arguement in August 2008 that the economy was not in a recession. Here's Luskin's explanation:
[W]e are not in a recession.
The word "recession" has a specific meaning to economists who study the business cycle. Whether we are in a recession or not is therefore an objective matter of science, not opinion.
The official determination of recessions is made by a committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research. They have latitude to use their judgment in making the determination — it's not exactly a formula — but they are clear about what factors they consider, and how those factors have to behave to result in a determination.
Note that Luskin writes that whether we are in a recession is "an objective matter of science, not opinion" -- then, just a few sentances later, writes that NBER has "latitude to use their judgment ... it's not exactly a formula."
Anyway, that's not my point. That's just amusing.
My point is this: Last August, Luskin argued that the US was not in a recession because, basically, NBER hadn't declared the economy to be in a recession. And yet, just a few years ago, Luskin took the opposite view -- and both times, Luskin's assertions just happened to make George W. Bush look good.
See, one of the very first things Media Matters posted when we launched back in the Spring of 2004 was a report I wrote demonstrating that the news media (particularly Sean Hannity) kept insisting that Bush had "inherited a recession" from Bill Clinton, despite the fact that according to NBER, the recession in question didn't begin until March of 2001 -- after Bush took office.
Well, Don Luskin didn't like that very much. He took to National Review's web page to declare "So far the work from Media Matters isn't very impressive." Luskin went on to explain:
The first major article posted on the Media Matters website is an attempted exposé of the often-heard conservative claim that the last economic recession began during the Clinton administration — or, in other words, that it was already underway when George W. Bush took office in 2001.
The claim that the last recession started under Clinton is absolutely true.
Now, before we go any further, keep in mind what Luskin wrote last August, when he was desperate to argue that we weren't in a recession: "The official determination of recessions is made by a committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research." Those are Don Luskin's words in August of 2008. And here are Don Luskin's words back in May of 2004:
The one and only piece of evidence offered by Media Matters that's to the contrary is that fact that the National Bureau of Economic Research set the beginning of the last recession at March 2001 — two months into the Bush administration. ... according to Media Matters, this single authority determines truth, and everyone else is a liar. The article declares that "if NBER says the recession began in March 2001, the recession began in March 2001."
The reality is that NBER is just like any other group of economists, struggling with partial and imperfect information to characterize phenomena that don't have any hard-and-fast definitions.
So, in 2004, Luskin argued that NBER should not be considered the final word on recessions. Interesting.
But wait! There's more.
Luskin went on to claim that NBER was "on the verge of changing the recession's start date" to sometime before Bush took office. To support his claim that a change would come any day, Luskin quoted a four-month-old Washington Post article in which NBER president Martin Feldstein -- a Bush campaign advisor -- claimed the March 2001 start date was too late. Luskin then chided us: "Media Matters chooses not to mention" that NBER was "on the verge" of changing the recession's start date.
As I pointed out at the time, of course we didn't mention that. Why would we? NBER hadn't changed the date. Not to mention that there was a much more recent Washington Post article in which an NBER spokesperson quoted saying no such change was imminent.
Anyway, that was nearly five years ago. And NBER -- which, according to Don Luskin, was "on the verge of changing the recession's start date" -- still says the recession begain March 2001.
Whenever Luskin wants to retract his nonsensical criticisms of Media Matters, I'd be happy to post the retraction.
Oh, and by the way: NBER says we've been in a recession since December 2007. In his August 2008 column, Luskin touted a formula that "shows with absolute clarity that we are not in a recession now. In fact, we're not even close."
In short: Do not listen to Don Luskin.
Today, it's in the form of a brief editorial (no link found) headlined "Obama's Press List," which chastised Obama for referring to a list of reporters he was going to call on during his Monday press conference
The President was running down a list of reporters pre-selected to ask questions. the White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.
We actually agree with the main point; that presidents ought not to use cheat sheets at press conferences for the simple task of calling on reporters. (It tends to cheapen the process.) But the Journal then immediately drove into a ditch when it claimed Obama's predecessor would have never done something like that:
We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with pre-screening his interlocutors.
Except, of course, when Bush did pre-screen his queries, like during his primetime news conference on the eve of war with Iraq in 2003. From Lapdogs [emphasis added]:
At one point while making his way through the press questioners, Bush awkwardly referred to a list of reporters who he was instructed to call on. "This is scripted," he joked. The press laughed. But Bush meant it was scripted, literally. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer later admitted he compiled Bush's cheat sheet, which made sure he did not call on reporters from some prominent outlets like Time, Newsweek, USA Today, or The Washington Post.
Yesterday, Media Matters noted:
In purporting to "take a look back" at how the economic recovery plan "grew, and grew, and grew," Fox News' Jon Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods -- all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release.
My, how a day of criticism from media critics and progressive bloggers changes things – even at Fox News. Today, Scott offered... an apology of sorts (emphasis added):
Yesterday on Happening Now we showed you how the stimulus bill has grown over time. Our story prompted by a news release from the Senate Republican Communication Center. There point that a $56 billion proposal in September has grown to $838 billion in five months. In compiling the story, our producers and researchers did what we always do -- we verified the accuracy of the material. But in double checking the newspaper quotes referenced in that news release we made the same mistake they did. We labeled a Wall Street Journal article as having run in 2009 when in fact it was 2008. That was our error, and we apologize.
Of course, I'm kidding.
See what Scott does there? He apologizes, not for passing along a one-sided argument made in a Senate Republican Communications Center's press release as Fox News' original reporting, but for reporting the typo.
In his initial report, Scott didn't tell his audience that the citations in his report were based entirely on a press release from the Senate Republicans – a fact he glosses over in his half-hearted apology for the typo.
I'd question Fox News' journalistic integrity; that is of course if they had any to question in the first place.
Today's Examiner features an op-ed by Richard Berman titled "Employee Free Choice Act may backfire on unions." At the bottom of the column, the Examiner identifies Berman:
Richard Berman is executive director of the Center for Union Facts, a non-profit 501(c3) union watchdog organization. Learn more at www.unionfacts.com.
Now, you might think from that identification, and the column headline, that Richard Berman's opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act is motivated by a desire to look out for the well-being of the nation's labor unions.
In fact, Berman is an anti-union activist and lobbyist who does the bidding of big business via front groups he creates with warm-and-fuzzy sounding names like "The Center for Consumer Freedom" and "The Employee Freedom Action Committee."
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has much more about Berman on their Berman Exposed web page, including this summary:
Richard Berman has been a regular front man for business and industry in campaigns against consumer safety and environmental groups. Through his public affairs firm, Berman and Company, Berman has fought unions, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PETA and other watchdog groups in their efforts to raise awareness about obesity, the minimum wage, the dangers of smoking, mad cow disease, drunk driving, and other causes. Berman runs at least 15 industry-funded front groups and projects, such as the Center for Union Facts and holds 16 "positions" in those organizations.
Each year, Berman, using his front groups to spread misinformation, spends millions of dollars distracting the public with misleading ads.
Rachel Sklar offered up an interesting take on the comparison, in the wake of Tapper's "pissing" match last with WH flak Robert Gibbs. (Tapper pretty much lectured Gibbs following a rather mundane exchange between the two. Y'know, just like reporters used to lecture Ari Fleischer back in February 2001.....)
According to Sklar, the much-discussed scuffle caused quite a tizzy inside the press room.
Tapper won that point—we've seen just how pertinent it is to Cabinet nominees that they pay their taxes—but with it came something else: the title of Briefing Room Badass.
And then came the inevitable comparison with NBC's David Gregory. Reported Sklar:
No less than three separate Washington political reporters spontaneously compared him to Gregory, who made his name being a thorn in the side of various White House press secretaries.
Interesting point. But here's where the lack of context comes in within the WH press room. The Tapper/Gibbs exchange took place during the third week of the Obama administration. David Gregory however, did not make a name for himself as a thorn in the side of the Bush White House until like four years after Bush was sworn into office.
Interesting, right? The WH press corps is all atwitter just days into the Democratic term over who's going to be the official press room "Badass" during the Democratic administration. But that's something nobody in the same press room even thought about becoming until 50 months into Bush's tenure.
No double standard there, right?
In fact, get this. During the first 100 days of the Bush White House back in 2001, Gregory, rather than being a pitbull, was honored by the right-wing Media Research Center as the Best White House Correspondent for Gregory's pro-Bush coverage.
In the Financial Times, columnist Martin Wolf, addressing Obama's handling of the unfolding financial crisis, writes:
Has Barack Obama's presidency already failed? In normal times, this would be a ludicrous question. But these are not normal times.
I had to chuckle. Wolf prefaced his comments by ackowleding it normally would be "ludicrous" for a pundit just weeks into a new president's term to declare it a failure. Sheer madness.
What Wolf should have suggested was that it would be ludicrous for a pundit just weeks into a new Republican president's term to declare it a failure. Because that truly is crazy talk. Nobody in the press would ever air such an insulting claim. But when it comes to declaring Democratic presidents to be complete failures just weeks into their tenure, that's old habit by now.
See, members of the press did the same thing back in 1993, the last time a new Democratic president arrived in the White House. As I noted in a November column:
On January 31, 1993, 12 days after Clinton had been sworn into office, Sam Donaldson appeared on ABC and made this jarring announcement: "Last week, we could talk about, 'Is the honeymoon over?' This week, we can talk about, 'Is the presidency over?' " (At the time, Clinton's approval rating hovered around 65 percent.)
I'm chuckling again reading about Clinton's 65 percent approval rating at the time of the media's failed presidency meme: Isn't that the exact same approval rating Obamaacknowledging enjoys today?
Get a load of these "some say" and "most Republicans oppose" questions:
"Some people say that the nearly one trillion dollars in debt and subsequent interest incurred by the stimulus bill during an economic downturn will make the recovery hard to achieve. Do you agree or disagree?"
"Some Republicans say the Obama stimulus package spends too much and stimulates too little. Do you agree or disagree?"
"Most Republicans oppose the currently proposed stimulus bill supported by President Obama because they say there is too much money being spent for non-stimulus items. Do you agree or disagree that too much money is being spent on items that won't improve the economy?"
How loopy is the poll, done in conjunction with something called ATI-News? It doesn't even register the response among Democrats. It only measure answers from Republicans and Independents. (At least, that's what the press release does.)
Naturally right-wingers are pushing the "Zogby poll," but if a single news organization runs with this data it will be a disgrace.
UPDATE: As we learn from the ConWebBlog:
ATI News is merely an aggregator of other news websites and generates no original content, and O'Leary is author of the WorldNetDaily-published Obama-bashing speculative fantasy "The Audacity of Deceit." So O'Leary clearly has a biased agenda to push, as if the Zogby poll he commissioned wasn't evenough proof of that.