A couple of days ago, Glenn Beck kicked off his Fox News show with one of his standard monologues about the evil politicians who are stealing the country, peppered with vague warnings about how "things don't make sense" and "we're running out of time." But interspersed between his defense of Joe the Plumber, his comparison of Obama to Lenin, and his pointless smearing of a community organizing activist, Beck offered glimpses of what he believes are the roles that journalists and journalism are supposed to play in our society.
First, Beck explained the vital role that his own program plays: "Look, this show makes people uncomfortable every night. Good! Good! It's good to ask honest questions that make you uncomfortable. It makes you think out of the box." OK, so "uncomfortable" questions are a good thing, but under no circumstances should we think that Beck himself is a journalist: "I tell you all the time, I'm not a journalist. I'm not. I've joked that I'm a rodeo clown, but you know what? I take that back. I no longer am a rodeo clown. I am a dad, and quite frankly, I'm a little pissed off right now." Fair enough. None of those roles are mutually exclusive, but we'll play along.
But here's the meat of non-journalist Beck's argument: "You can call me names. You can make fun of me -- whatever. I'm doing what I believe is right. I am doing a job as a private citizen right now. I'd love to have The New York Times, The Washington Post, a duo like Woodward and Bernstein, even if they would just go for the Pulitzer, even if they didn't believe it, just go for the Pulitzer, would you? I'd love for them to look into these things so, quite frankly, I didn't have to." So Beck's not a journalist, but he's boldly martyring himself before the altar of journalism, a courageous, "pissed off" regular dad and "private citizen" (who just happens to have national radio and television shows) doing the job that no one else will do, asking the "uncomfortable" questions that those media slackers won't even consider.
And what might those questions be? Beck didn't offer any specifics, but here's a representative sample: Just what is the connection between health care reform and those who think "people are a virus"? Why does the first African-American president hate white people? Which members of ACORN conspired to hide their misdeeds by allowing the New Orleans levees to fail during Hurricane Katrina? Which members of government should be bludgeoned to death with shovels? And, quite memorably, "Why don't you just set us on fire?"
But then Beck let slip his real beef with the press: "Will anyone look at these issues instead of looking at my past?" Now we get to the nub of things -- "uncomfortable" questions are good, except when they're directed at the questioner. And Beck clearly understands the problems his tumultuous past can still cause him -- the self-styled crusader for truth and honesty can't be forced to deal with his long record of lying, smearing, and defamation. Particularly when it contains so many blatant hypocrisies, such as his shift from hater of 9-11 families to tearful founder of the 9-12 Project.
And, strangely, Beck's demand that the media stop looking into his past actually lends credence to his claims that he's not a journalist -- anyone who understood journalists would know that the best way to get them to look at something is to tell them not to look at it.
And it's a big jump, too, according to the AP:
An Associated Press-GfK poll says 56 percent of those surveyed in the past week approve of Obama's job performance, up from 50 percent in September. It's the first time since he took office in January that his rating has gone up.
We'll see how much media play this poll gets, and then try to compare that coverage to how we think an AP poll reporting a sharp drop for Obama would play inside the Beltway right now. (Hint: that coverage would be significant.)
Isn't it strange that the WashTimes' Joseph Curl went to hear ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis speak at the National Press Club and Tuesday and Curl heard comments that no other journalist in attendance heard. Curl heard Bertha call ACORN critics "racist." But I can't find a single journalists from any other news organization that reported from the National Press Club and also heard Bertha call ACORN critics "racist."
Reuters didn't hear it.
The New York Times didn't hear it.
CNN didn't hear it.
Politico didn't hear it.
The Wall Street Journal didn't hear it.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch didn't hear it.
Talk Radio News Service didn't hear it.
Either everybody else missed the "racist" story, or Curl simply made it up. Which one do you think it was?
The problem is he's making stuff up about ACORN and then publishing it not one, but two separate Times articles in the last 24 hours.
We noted that Curl went to hear ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis speak at the National Press Club on Tuesday and quickly filed a dispatch in which Curl reported that Lewis had attacked ACORN critics as "racist." Yet Curl's article included no quote from Lewis to back that up. It appear Curl simply manufactured the explosive "racist" claim.
Well, Curl like the falsehood so much he wrote another piece yesterday about Lewis at the National Press Club and also inserted the lie that Lewis had called ACORN critics out as racist [emphasis added]:
Fresh off her ACORN Apology Tour, the group's CEO on Tuesday kicked of her new Denial Tour, charging that nearly every accusation lodged against the embattled community organizing group in recent weeks is not only false but downright racist.
Again, Curl provides no evidence that Lewis ever suggested ACORN critics are racist. She clearly never used that word. And in fact, Lewis appeared to go out of her way not to make that claim on Tuesday. Curl just made it up. Twice.
Editor John Solomon needs to address both egregious errors, because Solomon, and the WashTimes, has a Joseph Curl problem.
Because as the story reads right now, the Washington Times, in its headline and article, reports that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, during an address at the National Press Club on Tuesday, claimed ACORN critics are "racist."
Slight problem: The WashTimes fails to include any quotes, any evidence, any anything, to support the "racist" angle; a specific word the daily uses three different times. Instead, it appears that the WashTimes' Joseph Curl just invented the explosive charge of racism.
The piece is relatively brief, so I'll paste it in full below. [Emphasis added.] If I'm missing the section where Lewis claimed ACORN critics are "racist," please point it out. But if I'm right, and the WashTimes simply concocted the allegation, which of course has caught fire in the right-wing fever swamps, than the paper needs to clean this mess up immediately, complete with a correction.
ACORN's Lewis suggests opponents are racist
ACORN's Bertha Lewis charged Tuesday that accusations about the embattled community organizing group are racist, alleging that a coordinated political effort started by former Bush adviser Karl Rove sought to stop the group from registering minority voters.
"For many years, there've been folks who've disagreed with our ideology or methodology that [have] gone after us," Mrs. Lewis, ACORN's chief executive officer, said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.
"I mean we, [going back] to 2004, we now see through e-mails from Karl Rove from the previous administration that ACORN itself was targeted, targeted to go after us so that we would stop doing voter registration because it was said that we were moving too many minorities to vote, changing the power dynamics on the local election and that we needed to be stopped."
She also labeled as racist the infamous videos that show ACORN workers advising a man and young woman posing as pimp and prostitute how to circumvent the law. "These new filmmakers, [James] O'Keefe himself, told The Washington Post, 'They're registering too many minorities; they usually vote Democratic; somebody's got to stop them,'" Mrs. Lewis said.
But Mrs. Lewis did not mention that The Post was forced to issue a later correction on the story, saying the quote attributed to Mr. O'Keefe was inaccurate.
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported this afternoon that the New York Post has confirmed that an "editor who spoke out against a controversial cartoon the paper ran comparing the author of the president's stimulus package to a dead chimpanzee has been fired from her job."
More from Stein's report:
Sandra Guzman was quietly dismissed from her position as associate editor last week for reasons that are being hotly debated by personnel inside the company. An official statement from the New York Post, provided to the Huffington Post, said that her job was terminated once the paper ended the section she was editing.
"Sandra is no longer with The Post because the monthly in-paper insert, Tempo, of which she was the editor, has been discontinued."
Employees at the paper -- which is one of media mogul's Rupert Murdoch's crown jewels -- said the firing, which took place last Tuesday, seemed retributive.
Guzman was the most high-profile Post employee to publicly speak out against a cartoon that likened the author of the stimulus bill (whom nearly everyone associated with President Barack Obama) with a rabid primate. Drawn by famed cartoonist Sean Delonas, the illustration pictured two befuddled policeman -- having just shot the chimp twice in the chest -- saying: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
"I neither commissioned or approved it," Guzman wrote to a list of journalist colleagues shortly thereafter. "I saw it in the paper yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management."
The remark from Guzman was a rare instance of dissension within the halls of the paper making its way into the public domain. And sources at the Post now say it cost her a job.
WP has no plans to monitor tweets as far as I know, so there's no czar in charge. Grownups should just exercise a bit of discretion...
The obsession in question is over the controversy surrounding CBS' David Letterman of late. Check out the rest of her post for all the details on Kurtz's Twitter obsess...err "discretion."
Shameless Plug: You can follow me on Twitter @KarlFrisch. My obsession happens to be media accountability, not Letterman.
Conservatives have been all excited about right-wing investigative journalism coming from the likes of Andrew Breitbart. They're less excited, however, when the investigative eye is trained on one of their own.
Last week, we highlighted reporting noting that the record does not necessarily support Glenn Beck's longtime claim that his mother committed suicide when he was a teenager -- in fact, there is a possibility that her death may have been an accident. We made no editorial comment about it but merely noted what had been reported.
But that was too much for some. At NewsReal, the group blog at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Kathy Shaidle was unhappy that we committed such a horrible act, going on to falsely suggest that we claimed "Glenn Beck is modeling his life and career on that of fellow Washingtonian... Kurt Cobain." (Shaidle also asserted that "billionaire leftist" George Soros "bankrolls Media Matters." He doesn't.)
Meanwhile, NewsBusters' Jeff Poor uncritically repeats Beck's "impassioned plea to stop looking into his past," noting that "the McClatchy-owned The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash. and the left-leaning Salon.com ran stories questioning whether or not Glenn Beck's mother, Mary Beck committed suicide. It was later propagated by the left-wing storefronts." The "left-wing storefronts" remark links to Media Matters. Doesn't that make Poor's employer, the Media Research Center, a "right-wing storefront"?
Poor seems to be missing the point. Isn't a person's demand that the media stop looking into him a red alert that the media should be looking even more? If Beck has nothing to hide, why is he acting like he does? And why don't conservatives want anyone to know?
So far, 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his October 6 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
It's to the point where you can't even make it through the first paragraph of one of the fringe pub's posts without running into massive, skyscraper-like misinformation:
Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so quiet about Kevin Jennings? Jennings is in the news because he is the Obama administration's Safe Schools czar, in bureaucratese the assistant deputy secretary of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools inside the Department of Education. And because he has now admitted that when, as a teacher, he was sought out by a 15-year-old boy asking for advice about an affair with an older adult male, Jennings suggested wearing a condom.
As anybody who's been following the Kevin Jennings Witch Hunt knows, the boy in question was at least 16 years old, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts where the incident occurred. This has been known for days. The Spectator however, just doesn't like that fact, so it opts for its own version of the truth.
Meanwhile, love that opening line:
Why is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi so quiet about Kevin Jennings?
The Spectator pretends the radical right's Kevin Jennings Witch Hunt demands the attention of our nation's leaders. Interesting notion. Let's turn the tables and ask, why is Sen. Mitch McConnell so quiet about Kevin Jennings? And why is Rep. John Boehner quiet about Kevin Jennings. Indeed, why is the entire GOP leadership so quiet about Kevin Jennings? (Could it be because they just don't care?)
I'm sure the Spectator, with its ace reporting skills, can get to the bottom of this political whodunnit.
UPDATED: Parallel Universe Alert! In the comment section of the Spectator piece, a reader notes that the boy is question was 16 years old, not 15, and wonders if the Spectator ought to correct the story.
Here's what author Jeffrey Lord wrote back:
Remember that the source for this story is Kevin Jennings himself. He has, as noted, said he should have handled this differently. Something he presumably would not believe if the student were of legal age. I am aware of no statement by Jennings that the boy was of a legal age. If Jennings provides that fact and can document it we will be happy to correct.