Sometimes, it's like Howard Kurtz doesn't even try to do his job. Check out this passage from the Washington Post media critic's profile of Rachel Maddow:
[S]he rejects the notion that she's explicitly pushing for change: "I think of it more in the tradition of muckraking. A lot of the best reporting since time immemorial has been driven by outrage about things not being the way they should be, by the shock at shameless, lying hypocrisy."
She adds: "For me it's a question of whether you're doing advocacy journalism or not. It's not activism -- you see a lot of that at Fox, using news coverage to inspire political participation."
Asked for comment, a Fox spokesperson says, "These feelings that she experienced about Fox News didn't stop her from applying for a job here."
Wait, what? A Fox spokesperson says Rachel Maddow applied for a job at Fox News? What does that mean? How long ago? What were the circumstances? Howard Kurtz doesn't explain; he just leaves it there. That's more than a little odd, particularly since the claim is meant to impugn Maddow's credibility.
Fortunately, Politico's Michael Calderone finished Kurtz's job for him:
So did Maddow, former Air America host and now a star of MSNBC's liberal prime-time line-up, really apply to work at Fox News?
"I never personally applied for a job at Fox," Maddow tells POLITICO in an email. "I have an agent who I assume talks to everyone on my behalf, so I have no reason to believe that Fox's claim that they were approached on my behalf is false, even if I never knew anything about it at the time."
So ... Yeah. It doesn't exactly sound like Maddow was stopping by Fox HQ twice a week to fill out applications and ask for an interview, does it? Actually, Maddow's version doesn't sound like anything that is typically meant by "applying for a job," which suggests that the Fox flak's statement to Kurt was quite misleading. Good thing -- for Fox, that is -- Kurtz didn't ask for an explanation.
Here's the daily's peculiar headline:
Biden bickers with Cheney across TV airwaves
Well, that doesn't sound good, does it? But according to the daily it was Biden who was bickering. It was the VP, to use the working definition, who "engaged in a petulant and peevish argument" with Cheney.
Really USA Today? That's how you describe what Biden did on the Sunday talk shows? Becuase I'd suggest the far more accurate description is Biden defended the administration from Cheney's latest bout of incessant attacks. It was Biden who responded and fact-checked Cheney.
Oh, and which man had the facts on his side during Biden's bickering? USA Today doesn't inform readers about that. USA Today just transcribes the back-and-forth and then places the onus on Biden for the unsightly bickering.
Newsbuters associate editor Noel Sheppard blows the lid off ... uh ... something:
President Obama's Official Twitterer Connected To MoveOn.org
Sun, 02/14/2010 - 16:06 ET
The woman that poses as Barack Obama on all his social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is connected to the far-left organization MoveOn.org.
See, it seems that Mia Cambronero, a DNC staffer who updates Twitter and Facebook accounts in Barack Obama's name, used to be a fellow at New Organizing Institute, which has ties to Move On. Shocking, isn't it? Sheppard thinks so:
And this is what the person acting as the President's Twitterer used to be affiliated with.
Color me unsurprised not only that this is the case, but that so-called journalists in the mainstream media haven't reported it.
Yeah, I bet Bob Woodward is kicking himself for getting scooped on this one.
Sweetness & Light, the right-wing blog Sheppard cites for this stunning scoop, describes Cambronero as "a NOI Fellow." Apparently that didn't sound damning enough for Sheppard, who embellished it a bit: "Our friends at Sweetness & Light have discovered that she is a senior fellow at the New Organizing Institute." Did Sheppard think that made this incredibly mundane discovering more damning? (It doesn't.) Or did he just misread the blog post? (The Sweetness & Light blog post also insists "Ms. Cambronero's resemblance to Mr. Obama is quite startling," and a previous post snarked "it is quite telling that Mr. Obama hired a girl to sound like him." I have no idea what that hire was supposed to "tell," but this should give you some sense of the kind of people we're dealing with here.)
Another right-wing blog, FireAndreaMitchell.com, then further embellished Sheppard's account in a post titled "Your tax dollars at work - Obama's Official Twitterer is Mia Cambronero who is connected To Soros's MoveOn.org."
Just one problem: Cambronero works for the Democratic National Committee, not the White House. Your tax dollars don't have anything to do with it. (Not that there would be anything wrong with a government employee having a gig working for Move On as a line on her resume.)
Apparently, being a right-wing blogger is easier than reading.
Right-wing blogs -- and now Fox Nation -- have seized on a Daily Mail write-up of a BBC interview with Dr. Phil Jones, who was heading the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia until the political fallout from the infamous hacked emails forced him to temporarily step aside pending an inquiry.
In the interview, Jones was asked, "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming." He responded (caution: a brief bit of math-speak ahead):
Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.
In other words, Jones is stating he didn't find statistically significant evidence of warming from 1995 to 2009, but that doesn't mean it isn't occurring. Indeed, later in the interview, Jones says that he is "100% confident that the climate has warmed" and that "there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity."
Predictably, the Right chose to focus on only his comments about the period from 1995 to 2009.
The Daily Mail headline set the framework for the American right-wing echo chamber: "Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995."
At its worst -- and most malicious -- here's what the Daily Mail's terrible write-up led to:
In fact, the only thing that was "all a lie" was Gateway Pundit's headline. Jones did not admit "there is no global warming."
Again, Jones said:
I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.
In their attacks on global warming -- and on Jones and the CRU specifically -- the right-wing media have frequently accused scientists of cherry-picking data. This is often because of their ignorance -- in some cases, willful -- of statistics and scientific research methods.
But it doesn't take a scientist to see how the conservative pundits cherry-pick false or misleading statements from poorly written British reports to advance their political agenda.
From Chapter 1 of Peter Robinson's interview with News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch: [emphasis added]
ROBINSON: David Carr, writing in the New York Times. Carr says that Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, and Gerard Baker, the deputy managing editor, quote, "The two men have had a big impact on the paper's Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone and editing and headlining articles to reflect chronic skepticism of the current administration," closed quote. Fair?
MURDOCH: I don't think it's become conservative, maybe a little more -- a little more balanced. I -- if you read into every story very carefully, it certainly hasn't become conservative. Were there, in the past, a few correspondents there who had a bit of a left-wing tinge or what in the way they covered stories? Yes, probably.
ROBINSON: Can I -- according to the Gallup organization, 20 percent of Americans call themselves liberals. Forty percent call themselves conservative. I think we can accept, given the various polls that have been done through the years, the various newsroom surveys, that overwhelmingly newspapers in this country are dominated by editors and reporters who are liberal. Why shouldn't the Wall Street Journal be quite straightforward about saying we intend to be a newspaper for the rest of Americans, and incidentally that market is twice as large? Or is there a danger in being explicit about it? How do you think that through?
MURDOCH: No, we want to be objective as one can be and as fair as one can be. And we think the rest of the press is monolithically very often unfair. But you forgot to mention the 40 percent of Americans who call themselves independents.
MURDOCH: Now they're the people who don't like either party. They're not about to join the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. This country is, I say, vaguely center right in mood. And if you look at me and a few people, you might say we're a little bit more right than that. But the paper, I don't think is. There's no question that the editorial writers, the opinion writers at the back of the paper of the front section are consistently -- take a pretty conservative attitude. They never endorse candidates, but they look very skeptically at big government and what's going on in Washington.
From Brian Stelter's February 14 New York Times report:
Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.
To viewers, it seems to be an endless televised political campaign, with former, and possibly future, politicians biding their time giving sound-bite versions of stump speeches. (Mr. Huckabee's recap of President Obama's State of the Union: "rudderless confusion." Ms. Palin's perception of Mr. Obama's counterterrorism strategy: "lackadaisical.")
The benefit for the part-time, but highly paid, pundits is clear: it increases their visibility. "It makes sense for candidates to seek out positions in niche cable, because it is a direct pipeline to voters," said Jonathan Wald, a former senior vice president at CNBC and an adjunct professor at Columbia's journalism school. "It's an automatic affinity group."
The benefit to the viewers is less clear. Some experts say the arrangements can cloud the objectivity of the news organizations.
"As long as they are still newsmakers, there is a strong potential for conflict," said Andy Schotz, the chairman of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. At the very least, it can amount to an advantage for the analysts, and create a perception of favoritism.
"It's a little awkward," said David Bohrman, the Washington bureau chief for CNN. The networks that employ the analysts "probably ought to realize that they're being taken advantage of a little bit," because some of the people are "posturing for election advantage," he said.
None of the analysts in CNN's stable are likely to run for office in 2010 or 2012, and the same is generally true for the broadcast networks. But MSNBC until recently had Mr. Ford on the payroll, and Fox News has a veritable bullpen of potential conservative candidates.
When Mr. Kudlow was said to be considering a run for Senate in Connecticut last year, the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters fired off a letter to CNBC demanding clarity about his on- and off-air roles. "As a private citizen, Mr. Kudlow has a right to explore a run for public office, but using his platform as a CNBC host to further his political ambitions jeopardizes the integrity of your network," the letter stated.
Mr. Kudlow soon declared on television that he would not run. Also last year, Chris Matthews chose to stay at MSNBC rather than run for the Senate from Pennsylvania, but not before similar complaints were filed.
"If you're seriously examining a run for office," Mr. Griffin said, "you can't host a show or be a general analyst."
Newsbusters associate editor Noel Sheppard blasts "ignorant" Fareed Zakaria for "the staggering stupidity" of saying the Bush tax cuts are "the single largest part of the black hole that is the federal budget deficit." But when you look past Sheppard's invective, you see that he is comparing current (well, 2007) revenues to 2000 revenues, rather than to what current revenues would be if the Bush tax cuts hadn't happened:
In fiscal 2000 before the Bush tax cuts, our government brought in $2.025 trillion in unified revenues while spending $1.789 trillion. Seven years later, before the recession hit, we received $2.568 trillion, a 27 percent increase. BUT, our expenditures rose to $2.729 trillion, a 53 percent rise.
To further illustrate the stupidity on display, even with tax cuts, receipts grew faster than the rate of inflation. BUT, if our elected officials would have kept spending to the rate of inflation during this period, our outlays in 2007 would have totaled $2.154 trillion resulting in a surplus of $414 billion!
Note also that Sheppard is focusing on 2007 because if he focused on 2009, his numbers would show only a 3.95 percent increase in revenues -- not per year, total. (Sheppard notes "In 2009, we brought in $2.105 trillion in tax receipts. Bear in mind that even with a recession this was still greater than BEFORE the Bush tax cuts were implemented." For some reason, he doesn't tell us what percentage that increase is, or compare it to inflation, as he did with the 2007 figures.)
Note also that Sheppard is completely ignoring the budgetary impact of increased interest payments as a result of debt run up previously -- debt that was run up in part because of the Bush tax cuts. That's a neat little trick -- force the government to spend more money repaying the interest on debt you ran up by cutting taxes, then blame additional spending for growing deficits.
From today's New York Times article on news orgs waging battles to gain access to government information [emphasis added]:
But The A.P. has been vastly more assertive in appealing denied Freedom of Information Act, or F.O.I.A., requests from the federal government under the Obama administration, which came to power promising to operate a more open government and alter what some media lawyers complained was a trend toward more government secrecy in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"After 9/11, I sensed there was an element of defeatism around government secrecy," said Mr. Tomlin, adding that news organizations were often not forceful in filing appeals of denied information requests.
On appeals, The A.P., which last year hired a new in-house lawyer, Karen Kaiser, will send documents, sometimes just a letter, that often resemble full legal briefs to agencies being tight with information. "We give them a taste of what a lawsuit looks like," Mr. Tomlin said.
Last year, according to Ms. Kaiser, The A.P. appealed over 40 denied F.O.I.A. requests, and 28 have been resolved, 24 of them successfully. "The decision was made to be more aggressive because we believed it was the only way to force agencies to comply with the law," she said.
So, for the record, during the Bush years, news outlets, including the AP presumably, "were not forceful in filing appeals of denied information requests." But under Obama, the AP has suddenly become "vastly more assertive" in appealing the exact same type of denials.
Curse that liberal media!
On February 11, Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote his impressions of former Gov. Sarah Palin's address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, in which he described her as "by all odds a threat to the more uptight Republican aspirants such as Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty -- and potentially, to [President] Obama as well." Broder attributed her power to her "pitch-perfect recital of the populist message that has worked in campaigns past":
Her lengthy Saturday night keynote address to the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville and her debut on the Sunday morning talk show circuit with Fox News' Chris Wallace showed off a public figure at the top of her game -- a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself, even with notes on her palm.
This was not the first time that Palin has impressed me. I gave her high marks for her vice presidential acceptance speech in St. Paul. But then, and always throughout that campaign, she was laboring to do more than establish her own place. She was selling a ticket headed by John McCain against formidable Democratic opposition and burdened by the legacy of the Bush administration.
Three days after this stirring tribute to the former governor, Broder devoted his latest column to the recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Given his assessment that Palin has "locked herself firmly in the populist embrace," it should come as no surprise that Broder's coverage of the poll results completely ignores one of the most significant findings: that very few Americans actually hold a favorable view of Palin, and even fewer consider her to be qualified for the presidency:
Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.
Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party's presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall.
Among all Republicans polled, 37 percent now hold a "strongly favorable" opinion of Palin, about half the level recorded when she burst onto the national stage in 2008 as Sen. John McCain's running mate.
Among Democrats and independents, assessments of Palin also have eroded. Six percent of Democrats now consider her qualified for the presidency, a drop from 22 percent in November; the percentage of independents who think she is qualified fell to 29 percent from 37 percent.
If this is Palin at the top of her game ...
I'm as shocked as you are, but RedState's Erick Erickson is quite clear in his announcement:
Today I want to reaffirm and make it more definitive. If you think 9/11 was an inside job or you really want to debate whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen eligible to be President, RedState is not a place for you.
Got that? RedState's banning birthers and anyone who wants to have a "debate" about Obama's birth certificate.
Cue Sarah Palin, last December:
"Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?" she was asked (around 9 minutes into the video above).
"I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers," she replied.
"Do you think it's a fair question to be looking at?" Humphries persisted.
"I think it's a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records -- all of that is fair game," Palin said. "The McCain-Palin campaign didn't do a good enough job in that area."
Uh-oh, Palin said the public was "rightfully" asking birther questions and that it was "fair game."
Question: Will Erickson grant Palin dispensation?
UPDATED: Perhaps Erickson should compare notes with Andrew Breitbart on the pitfalls of RW birther hypocrisy.