As the Dow Jones Industrial Average bounces around 10,000, it's worth looking back at the pathetically cynical way Fox News host Sean Hannity has treated the stock market during the Obama administration.
Back in March, the Dow was at its recent nadir - and Hannity knew just who to blame. "Obama, since he's elected, has tanked the markets," Hannity told former Democratic National Committee financial committee chair Michael Brown. "Oh, that's Obama's fault?" Brown asked. "That's right," Hannity proclaimed. That same month, Hannity declared it "Obama's Bear Market," and claimed that "Markets react to numbers. If they had faith and hope in [Obama's] plan, why wouldn't they react more confidently?"
Either the markets found their "faith in hope" in Obama, or Hannity has no idea what he's talking about, because the day before Hannity claimed that Obama "tanked the markets," the Dow hit its low point and started to climb.
On May 1, Fox Business Network anchor Alexis Glick pointed out to Hannity that the Dow, then at just over 8,200, had made it back to the level it was at before Obama's inauguration. But while Hannity was happy to hand Obama all the blame for the Dow when it was falling, he wasn't about to give Obama any credit now that it was rising. "The market doesn't mean anything to me," Hannity said "Alexis, you're the first person to tell people don't look at the market unless you're in it for five or 10 years, right? All right, so we're not looking at the market." Glick was either unaware or too polite to point out Hannity's hypocrisy.
Almost three months later, with the Dow passing 9,100, Hannity decided that the market did, in fact, "mean something" to him - it could be a convenient excuse to attack Obama. On July 27, Hannity did a segment linking "President Obama's approval rating," which he said "has dropped 7 points in the last month," to "the Dow Jones industrial average," which he noted is "now back over the 9,000 mark." After displaying a graph mapping the Dow and Obama's approval rating, Hannity asserted, "Now you can see that as the president's job approval rating crumbles, well, the Dow has been on the rise. Is it just a coincidence? We'll let you be the judge."
Since then, Hannity has largely been silent on the issue - a search of the Nexis database for (dow or stock market) indicates that Hannity has not mentioned the Dow's 900-point rise since late July. On August 19, he did, however, share some investment advice with his audience:
HANNITY: Stuart, I've taken half of the money that I had in the stock market, which was not a big part of my portfolio out of the market. I want to get out totally. And I say that to people and they say, well, historically, over the years, you're going to do -- you're going to be better off in the long term. You're fairly young. You should keep it there.
I have a feeling that if the market continues to rise and Hannity misses out on it, he'll somehow find a way to blame it on Obama.
Fox News employee Tucker Carlson weighs in on the White House/Fox News flap:
Tucker Carlson: In the long run it doesn't hurt any news organization to find itself on a White House enemies list, but Fox didn't start this. Anita Dunn did. Very foolish I think.
Regardless of what one thinks of the White House strategy for dealing with Fox News, nobody who has watched more than ten minutes of Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity can seriously think Anita Dunn "started it."
Did Dunn and the White House escalate "it"? Sure, maybe. Was it a good idea? I'm actually not sure; there are reasonable arguments both ways. But to say "Fox didn't start this" doesn't just strain credulity -- it takes credulity out back and beats it to death with a shovel, as Beck might say.
Actually, the fact-free talker is threatening to sue journalists who report what Limbaugh claims are falsehoods regarding him. Hmm, suddenly, Limbaugh doesn't like being on the other end of misinformation? Suddenly he's demanding folks back up and source all their information, in a way that he almost never does?
Good to know.
Meanwhile, is this a precedent Limbaugh really wants to create for his show? Does the chronic misinformer really want to start a movement where those who are demeaned by his lies are encouraged to contract their attorneys and threaten legal action against the host until he retracts his statements. (If so, Limbaugh's gonna have to put more lawyers on retainer.)
I love how Limbaugh reflexively reaches for the phone to call his lawyers when people say things about him that might be inaccurate. But when Limbaugh spends hour after hour behind the microphone concocting whatever version of reality strikes him that day, all that misinformation is protected by the right-wing notion of free speech.
UPDATED: Limbaugh is complaining that in the reporting on his effort to buy an NFL team, some journalists have attributed to him racially inflammatory quotes that are phony.
Well, here are some that are real.
My guess is that members of the NFL community who oppose Limbaugh ownership bid will also oppose it after reading how he called Barack Obama a "Halfrican-American," and claimed Americans are being urged to "to bend over, grab the ankles" and hope Obama succeeds "because his father was black."
The point is that when Limbaugh's NFL bid officially fails (and it will), right-wingers will claim it's because nasty reporters manufactured race-baiting quotes from Limbaugh. Truth is, there are plenty of real ones to go around.
I ask because over the weekend blogger and WashTimes columnist Andrew Breitbart was back hyping the tall tale of Kenneth Gladney, the conservative African-American activist who was reportedly "beaten" by "union thugs" outside of town hall forum hosted in St. Louis in August. At the time, the right-wing noise machine went bonkers over the dubious Gladney tale, claiming it showcased how vicious and violent unions really are. And Breitbart himself published an unintentionally hilarious column headlined "I Am Kenneth Gladney," in which Breitbart immortalized Gladney's "horrifying" tale, and also lied by claiming the White House had "directed" "union thugs" to rough up anti-health care protesters.
The problem for Breitbart and company (and yes, this is a chronic problem for Brietbart), is that the facts didn't stand up, and the lavish tale of the Gladney "beating" quickly collapsed. (Bloggers were sure he had been rushed to the hospital clinging to his life. Not true. Not even close.) Even a former St. Louis pal of Gladney's suspects the incident was seized upon by Gladney's lawyer/agent as a way to make a quick buck. (Was it Gladney's attorney who told him, days after the incident, to show up a right-wing rally in a wheelchair even though Gladney had no discernible injuries?)
Yet there was Breitbart over this last weekend tweeting about the vicious Gladney "hate crime," which is interesting because the Gladney episode (i.e. the savage "beating") was captured on video, and the St. Louis police know who the suspected culprits are. Yet here we are nearly ten weeks after the alleged beat-down, which according to right-wing blogs left Gladney blooded (fact: it did not), and nobody in connection with the "hate crime" has been formerly charged.
As of right now, St. Louis prosecutors don't seem to share Breitbart's conviction that a hate crime, or any crime, was committed by union "thugs" that night at a St. Louis town hall forum. (And of course, even if prosecutors do someday file charges, defendants will have a chance to defend themselves, or would Breitbart prefer that right be waved?)
So yes, if Breitbart has some super-secret evidence from the Gladney case, by all means he should share it with the St. Louis police department. If not, I'd suggest Breitbart stop advertising his ignorance. Then again, he's sort of turned that routine into his full-time job, so I suspect we'll be be hearing much more martyrdom talk about Kenneth Gladney.
UPDATED: And if Breitbart's such a Gladney fan, why doesn't he pay the overdue bills and get the alleged beating victim's website back up and running? After all, it was Breitbart who wrote "I am Kenneth Gladney."
UPDATED: Breitbart responds (relentlessly) via Twitter. As expected, he doesn't dispute a single fact posted here. Maybe he's saving all the good stuff for the St. Louis PD.
Air America's Beau Friedlander writes:
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Air America's mission remains unchanged, but now you will find the most up-to-date news, a progressive take on issues that matter to you—war policy, social equality, education, the economy, energy and the environment—alongside insightful commentary, smart bombs of political theater, and the context you need to form and inform your take on the world of politics and beyond.
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Mickey Kaus, Friday: "the possibility for a Nobel backlash seems non-farfetched."
Time magazine, Friday: "Why Winning the Nobel Peace Prize Could Hurt Obama"
Gallup, Monday: "Barack Obama appears to have gotten a slight bounce in support after he was announced as the Nobel Peace Prize winner on Friday. His 56% job approval rating for the last two Gallup Daily tracking updates is up from a term-low 50% as recently as last week, and 53% in the three days before the Nobel winner was announced."
Huh. Maybe it turns out that Americans don't hate their president for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Weird.
(A quick pre-emptive note to commenters: Read that again. I didn't say anything about whether Obama should have won the award. My point is simply that the idea that it was absurd to suggest that winning the award was some sort of disaster for Obama.)
As I wrote in my column this week, Fox News has filled the conservative leadership vaccum that emerged following Sen. John McCain's campaign defeat last November, and has obviously transformed itself into a purely political entity. That means the press needs to change the way it treats Fox News.
One of the points I stressed is how the RNC now often plays catch-up to Fox News; a fact nicely illustrated by a recent must-read piece in Salon.
From the column [emphasis added]:
Truth is, in recent years the RNC used to use Fox news to help amplify the partisan raids that national Republicans launched against Democrats. It was within the RNC that the partisan strategy was mapped out and initiated. (i.e. it was the RNC that first published the Al-Gore-invented-the-Internet smear). But it was on talk radio and Fox News where the partisan bombs got dropped. Today, that relationship has, for the most part, been inversed. Now it's within Fox News that the partisan witch hunts are plotted and launched, and it's the RNC that plays catch-up to Glenn Beck and company.
And here's Salon:
*March 17: Talking to guest Kevin Williamson of the National Review, Beck has his first discussion of the supposed proliferation of czars in the administration. But the only explicit complaint comes from Williamson, who says, "We have way too many people named czar in their job title."
*May 29: Beck makes his own first comment. "And, I'm so excited. We're getting a new czar, everybody! Yes. Can we stop with the czars, please?" He continues to refer to the phenomenon almost daily over the summer. Obviously influenced by Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism," Beck links the czars to early American progressives like Woodrow Wilson, and through him, naturally, to Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin.
*July 15: Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., introduces the "Czar Accountability and Reform (CZAR) Act of 2009." By September 16, the bill has 99 co-sponsors, including one Democrat.
*July 30: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor writes an op-ed in the Washington Post accusing the Obama administration of making an "end run around the legislative branch of historic proportions." Notes Cantor, sagely, "At last count, there were at least 32 active czars that we knew of, meaning the current administration has more czars than Imperial Russia."
In two separate articles today, the Washington Post makes a point of mentioning that Sen. Joe Lieberman said he won't support the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill -- but neither article says anything about whether Lieberman says he'll filibuster it.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he would not support the finance panel's bill because of cost concerns.
"I'm afraid that in the end the Baucus bill is actually going to raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country," he said on Fox Business Network's "Imus in the Morning" program, referring to Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
And the other:
Dodd's Connecticut colleague, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I), said Tuesday that he could not support the Finance Committee bill, citing insurers' concerns that the fees and taxes it would impose on their industry would drive up premiums. Connecticut is home to numerous health insurance companies.
Another day, another Washington Post article by Ceci Connolly about the insurance industry's attack on health care reform. This time, Connolly does make passing mention of one of the significant flaws in the industry-commissioned "report" that Connolly has now written three articles about. Buried in the 19th paragraph, Connolly notes:
As the report has come under fire, PricewaterhouseCoopers has distanced itself somewhat from it. The firm said Monday that AHIP had instructed it to focus on only some features of the bill, while not taking into account other major features such as the effect of subsidies for those buying insurance.
But still no mention of the fact that the report was based on assumptions PricewaterhouseCoopers acknowledged are unlikely to come true.
Maybe if Connolly writes three more articles, she'll get around to mentioning that.
The Associated Press spent a lot of time sniffing around the White House's travel records in search of a big scoop. I don't think they found one, but the AP did lay on the spin quite thick, perhaps in hopes of justifying the amount the time they spent researching the soggy story.
The AP's supposed scoop? Obama and his top officials spend lots of time traveling to "blue states." i.e. They've never stopped campaigning!
The nut graph:
An Associated Press review of administration travel records shows that three of every four official trips Obama and his key lieutenants made in his first seven months in office were to the 28 states Obama won. Add trips to Missouri and Montana — both of which Obama narrowly lost — and almost 80 percent of the administration's official domestic travel has been concentrated in states likely to be key to Obama's re-election effort in 2012.
Wow, 80 percent of domestic travel have been to 30 of the U.S. states. Or, 80 percent of the travel have been to states that represent 60 percent of the United States. And if you look at U.S. population, the states Obama's team has visited probably represents at least 70 percent of the U.S. population. So tell me again, why the AP is trumpeting this as a big deal?
The AP also leaves out key context. It appears that based on its reporting, White House officials have not spent much time in sparsely populated states such as Alaska, Utah, South Dakota, Kansas and Mississippi. But have previous presidents? Did George Bush keep sending his top team to Oklahoma and West Virginia when he was in office? Readers don't know because "similar data hasn't been compiled for previous administrations," according to the AP.