Newsbusters' Tom Blumer demonstrates once again the idiocy upon which the Right's media criticism is based.
Blumer is upset that an Associated Press article about a former Detroit city councilwoman's bribery sentencing didn't mention in the headline that the councilwoman is married to Democratic Congressman John Conyers. Blumer thinks this reflects a pro-Democrat double-standard because a separate AP article about a former aide to Republican Congressman Chris Shays pleading guilty did mention Shays in the headline.
Now, on its face, Blumer's complaint probably seems like small potatoes -- but that can be forgiven. Sometimes small transgressions can be representative of greater trends. No, the problem with Blumer's complaint isn't that it doesn't identify a problem of sufficient magnitude. The problem with Blumer's complaint is that it's really, really stupid.
See, Monica Conyers is a public figure in her own right, and she was sentenced for crimes she committed as a Detroit city councilwoman -- crimes that had nothing to do with her husband. That's why the AP's headline identified her as "Ex-Detroit councilwoman": because she was convicted of taking bribes in her capacity as a councilwoman. That isn't terribly complicated, is it?
Meanwhile, the former Shays aide is ... just a former Shays aide. He isn't a public official in his own right; his significance stems directly from his relationship to Shays. And -- now, pay attention, this part is important -- he is pleading guilty to crimes he committed in his capacity as Shays' campaign manager, including embezzling funds from the campaign. I assume it is quite obvious to everyone other than Tom Blumer why Shays' name would appear in the headline.
Basically, Blumer's complaint boils down to this: The Associated Press handled different situations differently. Bias!
Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?
Watching the elite Beltway press actually rally around Fox News last year after the White House called it out as an illegitimate outlet for real news was one of the saddest journalism spectacles in recent memory. Recall that during the Bush years, the GOP White House often cooked up allegations and lashed out at prominent (i.e. genuine) news organizations, such as NBC and the New York Times, and I don't recall anybody rallying around them.
But when a Democratic administration called out Fox News for what it really is, a GOP propaganda tool (i.e. the Opposition Party), the same D.C. press corps played defense for Murdoch's dishonest empire and actually demanded Dems back off.
As Raines notes in his column, and as Media Matters has been documenting for a very long time, today's Obama-era Fox News has shredded any semblance of professional, modern day American journalism. It long ago cut the chord with that tradition.
And yet last fall, the tsk-tsking chattering class agreed that it was the White House that was way out of line when it fact-checked Fox News.
Raines asks all the right questions, and his essay is dead-on in every way, except one. When it comes to answering the essay's central question (why won't journalists label Fox News for what it really is), I think Raines pulls his punches. His conclusion is that in this age of mass news media layoffs, journalists don't tell the truth about Fox News because they might have to work for Murdoch one day [emphasis added]:
He and his video ferrets have intimidated center-right and center-left journalists into suppressing conclusions -- whether on health-care reform or other issues -- they once would have stated as demonstrably proven by their reporting. I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it's hard to ignore the evidence. News Corp., with 64,000 employees worldwide, receives the tender treatment accorded a future employer.
I don't believe that for a second. Well, that might account for a fraction of the playing dumb that routinely goes on regarding Fox News.
But I think the huge majority of it is explained quite simply: fear or the 'liberal media bias' charge. Conservatives have been pounding the press for more than four decades about their alleged bias and the Beltway press corps has developed rabbit ears when it comes to the allegation. And frankly, there's plenty of evidence that jouranlists are terrified of the charge and nervous about what can happen to their careers if that tag sticks.
So what's an easy way to prove you're not liberal? (Aside from becoming lapdogs during the Bush years.) You pretend Fox News is legit. You pretend that sure, Ailes has some opinion guys on at night, but there's a clear dividing line between the news and opinion. You pretend that Fox News is just the mirror opposite of MSNBC.
Basically, you sign off on a charade that, as Raines points out, any newsroom pro can see is a complete joke.
The whole thing was embarrassing to watch, and the cone of silence that Raines highlights continues to be a stain on the industry. I'm glad Raines, the former Times editors, is coming forward. It would be even better if more high-profile, working members of today's press corps did the same.
I usually avoid trying to make any larger connection, or draw any type of conclusions, based on posted comments online. Most often written anonymously, they certainly tend to be angry and combative and at times downright offensive. Readers can essentially post whatever they want and never be held accountable. Plus, because of the sheer volume of comments, it's difficult for host sites to monitor them all.
Everybody knows online readers from every corner of the political spectrum write all kinds of crazy stuff, day in and day out, which is why I generally just ignore offensive comments, and rarely highlight them.
That said, the comment section thread connected to a recent Politico article about how Sen. Harry Reid's wife and daughter were seriously injured in a Washington, D.C. area car crash, was -- even for a online veteran like myself -- just jaw-dropping.
What was so stunning was the sheer, unadulterated hatred that conservative readers tapped into so they could mock and heap scorn on Reid and his injured family, and to wish that Reid's body had been mangled as well. To see this stuff published on a mainstream news site like Politico is also disturbing.
The GOP Noise Machine long ago turned the vitriol way past 11 when it came to trying to dehumanizing their political opponents. And if people want a glimpse into the dark soul of today's right wing, then keep reading.
This was the second comment posted under the Politico article about Reid's injured wife and daughter:
Quick, get Rahm out of the shower and send him over there--They might need poking!
This was the third:
Reid's a Mormon, so he probably has spares
And that was just the beginning:
Personally, we don't give a d*mn. If Reid had been in the car too, we'd call that the cherry on the sundae of our day.
A pity Harry wasn't in the car.
Its to bad it wasn`t him instead.
too bad harry wasn't driving the car, with that hag pelosi riding shotgun, love to see her face go splat.......what goes around comes around, keep being socialists....
Too bad it wasn't Queenie Botox Pelosi's demise. KARMA: It WILL Get You!!
If Reid gets his way your family could die in the street for all he cares. Don't give me this crap about respecting his family because I can assure you he doesn't respect yours.
Maybe the creep Seedy Reidy realized his campaign needed some sympathy.
KARMA.........KARMA........KARMA.....Ain't it *Magical*????
... ashes,ashes and they all fall down.......
What goes around comes around....
Poor idiot Ried ,wife and daughter in an accident, right before he accidently destroys the USA. Oh thats right he`s doing it on purpose.
Remember, the fanatical outpouring of hate was not prompted by news about what a politician had done, but by the revelation that members of a senator's family had been badly injured.
I should also note that a couple commenters posted pleas for Politico to shut the article's comment section down since portions of it had deteriorated into a cesspool. But no action was taken.
UPDATED: It appears that editors at Politico have now gone in an deleted the offensive comments highlighted by Media Matters.
From Pamela Geller's March 12 Atlas Shrugs blog post:
First of all, it needs to be said: Obama, get your hands off our kids. Seriously. Stop the fascist recruitment. It's sick.
Obama said he was going to build a civilian army -- and he is using our children. How? He uses the classrooms, as I exclusively broke the story here: Organizing for America recruitment in the classroom.
But AmeriCorps (can Obama pronounce the second syllable?) is the machinery for his youth army. And there is huge dough behind it -- yours and mine.
From R. Emmett Tyrrell's March 12 The Washington Times column:
There has been yet another eruption of violence from what our liberal friends a year or so ago were wont to call "the angry left." However, if you read The Washington Post, you might think this recent outburst of violence came from talk radio.
The angry leftist behind the violence was John Patrick Bedell, 36, who, on the evening of March 4, walked up to an entrance of the Pentagon, pulled a gun on two Pentagon guards, Jeffrey Amos and Marvin Carraway, and was fatally shot. Both guards were wounded.
In the aftermath of this attack, it was reported that Bedell was a pot-smoking intellectualoid from California who had left word on the Internet that, according to his findings, a "coup regime" took over Washington at the time of President Kennedy's assassination and has governed the country "up to the present day." What is more, the "coup regime," according to Bedell, was complicit in Sept. 11, 2001. This judgment might strike you as extreme, but apparently it is not, at least not on the left. You will recall that President Obama's recently resigned environmental czar, Van Jones, had signed a petition to this effect before being invited into the administration.
In The Post's report on Bedell's assault - headlined "Pentagon Shooter's Erratic Journey" - a high school classmate recalled: "I remember [Bedell] being a sweet-natured, funny peacenik." Another acquaintance reported to The Post that Bedell was a heavy marijuana user, and elsewhere, one of Bedell's brothers reported that he was a perpetual student who, so far as the brother knew, never held a job while bouncing from campus to campus and developing his esoteric theories. All in all, this glassy-eyed ideologue surely was a man of the left, the infantile left to be sure, but the left.
Thus John Patrick Bedell, a life-long member of the angry left, gets himself killed while assaulting the Pentagon, and the pious journalists at The Washington Post lump the poor guy in with right-wing militias. It is shoddy journalism. Much worse, it is a shocking act of disrespect for the dead.
Boehlert: The Pentagon shooter, insurrectionism, and right-wing bloggers
From George F. Will's March 12 Washington Post column:
We could take one small step toward restoring institutional equilibrium by thinking as Jefferson did about State of the Union addresses. Justice Antonin Scalia has stopped going to them because justices "sit there like bumps on a log" in the midst of the partisan posturing -- the political pep rally that Roberts described. Sis boom bah humbug.
Next year, Roberts and the rest of the justices should stay away from the president's address. So should the uniformed military, who are out of place in a setting of competitive political grandstanding. For that matter, the 535 legislators should boycott these undignified events. They would, if there were that many congressional grown-ups averse to being props in the childishness of popping up from their seats to cheer, or remaining sullenly seated in semi-pouts, as the politics of the moment dictates.
In the unlikely event that Obama or any other loquacious modern president has any thoughts about the State of the Union that he does not pour forth in the torrential course of his relentless rhetoric, he can mail those thoughts to Congress. The Postal Service needs the business.
We've noted before how Fox News acts as a campaign arm for the Republican Party, campaigning for Republican candidates and repeatedly passing off GOP talking points as its own research (once without even deleting the typos the talking points contained). The Huffington Post has uncovered what appears to be another example of Fox News' favoritism for the GOP. HuffPo reports that Fox News has lodged a copyright claim, leading YouTube to take down a Democratic National Committee ad that uses footage from Fox News, while a Republican National Committee ad that uses Fox News footage is still up on YouTube.
HuffPo reports: "Fox News Channel has forced YouTube to take down a Democratic National Committee Web ad that mocks Florida Senate candidate Marco Rubio for spending $130 on a haircut saying that the spot illegally uses network footage." HuffPo later adds:
A Democratic source, arguing that this could constitute evidence that Fox News is in the tank for Rubio, points out that the YouTube page where the DNC ad used to be currently contains the following disclaimer: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Fox News Network, LLC."
By contrast, HuffPo notes that an RNC web video that consists of a clip of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) appearing on Fox News remains on YouTube. The RNC video was put on YouTube on February 24.
From the Fox Nation (accessed on March 11):
The Reuters article to which Fox Nation linked, however, was headlined: "Reid says will use 'reconciliation' on healthcare."
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen just won't give up on his defense of the witch hunt against DOJ attorneys who represented terror suspects even in the face of overwhelming criticism from conservatives and progressives alike. In his latest piece for The Washington Post, Thiessen lashes out at the critics, writing: "Defenders of the habeas lawyers representing al-Qaeda terrorists have invoked the iconic name of John Adams to justify their actions, claiming these lawyers are only doing the same thing Adams did when he defended British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. The analogy is clever, but wholly inaccurate."
In essence, Thiessen is saying that he is correct, and almost everyone else is wrong, since people from across the political spectrum have agreed that the DOJ attorneys were working in the Adams' tradition.
Here are just a few of the people who, unlike Thiessen, have said that there are similarities between John Adams and the attorneys who represented detainees: former independent counsel Ken Starr; Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; Larry Thompson, the former number two official at the Bush Justice Department; Peter Keisler, who served as acting attorney general under President Bush; senior Bush defense department officials Matthew Waxman, Charles "Cully" Stimson, and Daniel Dell'Orto; Bush associate White House counsel Bradley Berenson; former top advisers to Condoleezza Rice Philip Zelikow and John Bellinger III; Slate.com columnist Dahlia Lithwick; Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman; Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor for the military commissions; Orrin Kerr, who served as special counsel to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during the confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. Former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey has also criticized the attack. Previously, Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson also defended lawyers who represented detainees from attacks.
Looking at the substance of Thiessen's attempt to differentiate Adams from the DOJ lawyers under attack, it's no wonder that so many people disagree with Thiessen. Thiessen's first argument appears to be that Adams was merely acting as a loyal British subject, defending his "fellow countrymen." Thiessen writes:
For starters, Adams was a British subject at the time he took up their representation. The Declaration of Independence had not yet been signed, and there was no United States of America. The British soldiers were Adams' fellow countrymen -- not foreign enemies of the state at war with his country.
Thiessen then appears to abandon the argument that Adams was acting in the British tradition, claiming rather that Adams was acting according to the "American tradition later enshrined in the Sixth Amendment":
Second, the British soldiers were accused of a crime. The constitution was not yet in place, but as I pointed out in my column this week, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy explains that the great American tradition later enshrined in the Sixth Amendment "guarantees the accused -- that means somebody who has been indicted or otherwise charged with a crime -- a right to counsel. But that right only exists if you are accused, which means you are someone the government has brought into the civilian criminal justice system and lodged charges against."
Hmm. So, Adams was actually acting according to a "great American tradition" that wouldn't be enshrined until Congress passed the Bill of Rights two decades later.
One more inconvenient fact for Thiessen: The trial of the Boston Massacre took place in the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, the forerunner to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, a Massachusetts state court. The U.S. Supreme Court did apply the Sixth Amendment to criminal trials in state courts until 1932, when it held in Powell v. Alabama that the right to counsel applied to the states in capital cases. Furthermore, the Supreme Court did not extend the right to counsel to state courts in all felony cases until the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision in 1963, nearly 200 years after the Boston Massacre trial in which Adams participated.
Thiessen then goes on to reiterate his attacks against the DOJ attorneys:
In the 234 years since Adams and his compatriots fought for our independence, the United States has held millions of enemy combatants -- and not one had ever filed a successful habeas corpus petition until the habeas campaign on behalf of Guantanamo detainees began.
The habeas lawyers are not doing what John Adams did -- representing accused criminals already in the judicial system. Rather, they have reached outside the judicial system and dragged the terrorists in.
Importantly, Gideon -- a habeas corpus case -- explicitly overruled a prior Supreme Court case, Betts v. Brady, which held that, absent a capital trial or other extraordinary circumstances, states did not have to provide counsel to defendants. Gideon actually filed the habeas corpus petition himself, but once the Supreme Court accepted the case, numerous lawyers filed briefs supporting his case. One could say: "In the  years since Adams and his compatriots fought for our independence, [the states tried countless American citizens] -- and not one had ever filed a successful habeas corpus petition [fully extending the Sixth Amendment to the states] until the habeas campaign on behalf of [Gideon] began."
So, by Thiessen's logic, we should be excoriating the Gideon attorneys. Behold the Gideon 32:
Abe Fortas, by appointment of the Court, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Abe Krash and Ralph Temple.
J. Lee Rankin, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the American Civil Liberties Union et al., as amici curiae, urging reversal. With him on the brief were Norman Dorsen, John Dwight Evans, Jr., Melvin L. Wulf, Richard J. Medalie, Howard W. Dixon and Richard Yale Feder.
A brief for the state governments of twenty-two States and Commonwealths, as amici curiae, urging reversal, was filed by Edward J. McCormack, Jr., Attorney General of Massachusetts, Walter F. Mondale, Attorney General of Minnesota, Duke W. Dunbar, Attorney General of Colorado, Albert L. Coles, Attorney General of Connecticut, Eugene Cook, Attorney General of Georgia, Shiro Kashiwa, Attorney General of Hawaii, Frank Benson, Attorney General of Idaho, William G. Clark, Attorney General of Illinois, Evan L. Hultman, Attorney General of Iowa, John B. Breckinridge, Attorney General of Kentucky, Frank E. Hancock, Attorney General of Maine, Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General of Michigan, Thomas F. Eagleton, Attorney General of Missouri, Charles E. Springer, Attorney General of Nevada, Mark McElroy, Attorney General of Ohio, Leslie R. Burgum, Attorney General of North Dakota, Robert Y. Thornton, Attorney General of Oregon, J. Joseph Nugent, Attorney General of Rhode Island, A. C. Miller, Attorney General of South Dakota, John J. O'Connell, Attorney General of Washington, C. Donald Robertson, Attorney General of West Virginia, and George N. Hayes, Attorney General of Alaska.
In a column titled, "Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?" to be published in Sunday's Washington Post, but available online, former New York Times editor Howell Raines writes:
One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?
Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: "The American people do not want health-care reform."
Fox repeats this as gospel. But as a matter of historical context, usually in short supply on Fox News, this assertion ranks somewhere between debatable and untrue.
Raines later wrote:
For the first time since the yellow journalism of a century ago, the United States has a major news organization devoted to the promotion of one political party. And let no one be misled by occasional spurts of criticism of the GOP on Fox. In a bygone era of fact-based commentary typified, left to right, by my late colleagues Scotty Reston and Bill Safire, these deceptions would have been given their proper label: disinformation.
Under the pretense of correcting a Democratic bias in news reporting, Fox has accomplished something that seemed impossible before [Roger] Ailes imported to the news studio the tricks he learned in Richard Nixon's campaign think tank: He and his video ferrets have intimidated center-right and center-left journalists into suppressing conclusions -- whether on health-care reform or other issues -- they once would have stated as demonstrably proven by their reporting. I try not to believe that this kid-gloves handling amounts to self-censorship, but it's hard to ignore the evidence. News Corp., with 64,000 employees worldwide, receives the tender treatment accorded a future employer.