What, exactly, is the point of Fox News Watch, Fox News' purported media criticism show?
On the show's November 21 installment, host Jon Scott told viewers, "I had better be accurate on a media criticism show." He's not.
We've noted that Fox News Watch routinely gets facts wrong, while excusing or ignoring criticism of its own network. Recently, the show falsely claimed that President Obama watched an HBO documentary about himself instead of election returns - days after Fox News apologized for starting the incorrect story. (Fox News Watch has yet to correct the record on its program.)
There's a special irony in having Jon Scott host a media criticism show. Scott has been repeatedly caught cut and pasting GOP talking points and press releases as his own research. After one Jon Scott cut and paste incident, Washington Post and CNN media critic Howard Kurtz blasted Scott for failing to apologize "for using partisan propaganda from the GOP without telling your viewers where it came from."
On November 21, Fox News Watch took on Obama's bow and Scott painted it as upsetting "a lot of people":
SCOTT: There was the announcement that he made as he got ready to jump on the plane that he was going to hold a jobs summit. This, after it came out that unemployment is, what, 10.2 percent now.
ELLIS HENICAN (Fox News contributor): That's right. Uncomfortable news. And you do anything you can as a politician to bury it.
To me, what was a little disappointing about the coverage was it didn't have a lot of discussion how it is, when we see our banker, always an uncomfortable situation, and it was the kind of silly stuff. It was the bowing and the political hits back and forth and the buried fact. I wish we had a discussion about the other stuff.
SCOTT: Symbolism did matter. I mean, the bowing did offend a lot of people.
RICH LOWRY (Fox News contributor, National Review editor): Yes, I find it offensive. I believe it's an offense against smaller "R" Republican manners for any president of the United States to bow to a foreign potentate. Look, this is a classic narrative story where a Republican -- you know, Nixon can do it, and it's not a big deal. But Obama does it, because the idea's out there, justifiably in my mind, that he's a weakling abroad, that he has an overly submissive attitude towards foreign countries. And that's why it was exploded. And kudos to the blogosphere, which was onto this way before the mainstream media.
Scott claims that "the bowing did offend a lot of people." But Americans overwhelming say that Obama's bow didn't offend them - according to a Fox News poll. 67% of Americans view Obama's bow as appropriate, while 26% view it as never appropriate. Even a majority of Republicans (53-40) view Obama's gesture as appropriate. Shockingly, Scott never mentioned the poll.
Daily Kos' Jed Lewison wrote, "Perhaps Fox should change their slogan: we report and you decide, but only if it's something that we think will make you hate President Obama." Indeed, when given a chance to note Fox News' polling days after its release, and while discussing public perception of that very topic, Scott - Fox News' designed media critic - claimed the opposite of what his own poll found.
Then again, with Fox News' own history of deception and inaccuracy, maybe Jon Scott is a 'perfect' fit as Fox News' media critic.
Today's typically breathless Politico headline:
Forecast for Dem primaries: Ugly
And lede [emphasis added]:
Republicans aren't the only ones staring at the unnerving prospect of a 2010 primary season filled with smash-mouth intraparty contests that threaten to distract the party and leave Senate nominees bloodied and cash-depleted.
In a handful of next year's most competitive Senate races — and for a few of the Democratic Party's most precariously perched incumbents — discordant Democratic primaries are already taking shape, complicating a midterm election landscape in which the party will be playing defense for the first time in four years.
A couple things here. Politico suddenly thinks it's just amazing and shocking that Democrats are competing in primaries. Why Politico expresses such astonishment is unclear, since the primary system has been in place for many many generations. Yet for some reason Politico suggests the Democratic primaries next cycle could cripple the party.
And hey, if Politico wants to play dumb, it wouldn't be the first time. But the article really falls apart when Politico starts lumping in Democratic primaries in which there is no Democratic incumbent. Meaning, we all know the notion of a contested primary is really only interesting and newsworthy if an entrenched incumbent faces a stiff intraparty challenger, the way Joe Liberman was defeated in the Democratic primary in CT. in 2006.
It is a big deal when a primary challenger takes on an incumbent and makes a strong run at the party's favorite. And from the headline of the Politico piece, you'd think that's what's happening to Democrats all across the country. Except as you read the article, Politico quickly focuses on Democratic races in Kentucky and Illinois, where, in 2010, there will be no Democratic incumbent running for re-election. In those instances, the primaries are just old fashion open contests, and the fact that several Democratic candidates are battling to win their party's nomination in those states is not news at all. In fact it's utterly mundane. It happens all the time. But Politico decides to treat it like a very big deal.
In the end, the only truly contested Democratic primary that Politico points to is the one in Pennsylvania, which is hardly surprising since the incumbent, Sen. Arlen Specter, recently switched over from the GOP, and everybody knew that would spark a strong primary challenge.
So yes, the only thing "ugly" in this primary story is Politico's (GOP-friendly) analysis.
From Politico [emphasis added]:
Additionally, POLITICO has learned that Beck's 9.12 Project is co-sponsoring a march on Washington on Sept. 11, 2010 to voice unhappiness with the agenda of President Obama and the Democratic congress, and that the group will also become involved in voter registration drives.
The idea of trying to politicize the 9/11 anniversary in such a naked way is shocking. But of course nothing actually shocks us any more about Beck's tasteless, Obama-hating campaign. What would be amazing though, is if Beck is able to get away with this. (At least this year's anti-Obama rally was held the day after Sept. 11.) Meaning, if Beck's followers really follow through with their plan and use the hallowed anniversary of 9/11 and turn the tragic terrorist attacks of 2001 into a day for hurling hateful attacks against the President of the United States, will there be no outcry?
Will the Beltway press corps look away from the right-wing attempt to turn a day of healing into a day of hate? And will leaders of the conservative movement in America stand by silently while rodeo clown Glenn Beck and company make a mockery out of our collective mournful memory?
After all, news of the 9/11, Obama-hating rally has been out for several days now, and so far the silence has been deafening.
UPDATED: Of course, remember that Beck hates the 9/11 families.
From a November 22 Associated Press article:
If the email was "stolen by hackers," it's not exactly a "leak," is it?
Always one to prefer drama over substance, it was little surprise that Glenn Beck was nearly an hour late to his own rally in The Villages (a retirement community in Florida) on November 21. During the wait, Beck's patient and very non-diverse crowd was treated to supposedly live footage on giant video screens of him getting lost driving a golf cart to the rally. He admitted to have gone in a circle at least once, complaining that it took 50 minutes to drive just three miles. Soon afterward, his big tour bus pulled up alongside the crowd, and Glenn Beck took to the stage among loud cheers and applause.
Beck wasted little time before displaying his narcissism, declaring himself and all those present as the nation's "Constitution czar" just a few minutes into his appearance. He then tried to stir up the crowd with what appeared to be a reference to climate change, declaring: "The science is not settled. We will not sit down. We will not shut up. We will stand!"
Next, Beck decided to try to scare the crowd with the size of the national debt, throwing out big, impressive-sounding numbers like $12 trillion, the current level. Naturally, he did not mention that such numbers are far less scary with the proper context. When Beck brought up the projected debt 10 years from now, he seemed to acknowledge his own and Fox News' lack of credibility on this issue, saying that "Now, that's not from Glenn Beck and Fox News ... [that's] from WhiteHouse.gov." Beck then issued a call for all present to live within their means, declaring that "we must change our lifestyle, because our lifestyle is unsustainable." Beck continued to display his ignorance of how deficit-neutral legislation works, complaining that it's only "debt-neutral" because "somebody has got to pay for it."
Next, Beck continued on his crusade to expose the corruption in this country, though of course only corruption relating to anything and anyone connected to the Democratic Party, declaring that the $100 million in the Senate health care bill for Louisiana is a "$100 million bribe for one person's vote." Demanding that "The corruption must stop," Glenn invoked the case of former Congressman William Jefferson, and just like any good little political hack, he did not mention any Republican corruption problems. Beck then revealed that he was really concerned about this issue not because they are stealing from us, but our children.
As usual, Beck then brought up the example of the Weimar Republic of Germany. Glenn then tried to connect to his audience, saying that he knows "You're not the ones getting rich right now, you're not the one taking all of your money and buying precious minerals." No, it's Beck who is the one getting rich right now. (And better not let Beck's advertisers hear about his precious-minerals comment.) Beck then cited Nouriel Roubini to say that our country is building up an "asset bubble," which of course said will more or less mean the end of our economy when it collapses.
Beck then gave the requisite shout-out to Ronald Reagan, because as Beck put it, he always felt like Reagan was telling him the truth and treating him like an adult, even though Beck was a child at the time, and that he made it seem like there was always "hope on the other side." In that spirit of telling the truth, treating Americans like adults, and providing hope, Beck engaged the crowd in an analogy comparing America to the Titanic. Of course, Beck stated that it was the current administration that was "ramming it into the iceberg" with "health care, cap and trade, and stimulus." Beck used this analogy as a vehicle to get to the point of this whole rally, announcing that his plan for America will be like the lifeboats of the Titanic. After another shout-out, this time to the 9-12ers present, Beck continued this Titanic analogy to speak about why he created the 9-12 Project, which was so that nobody who sees what Beck sees is coming would feel alone.
Next, Beck explained the first step of his plan. He has formed a shadow cabinet to advise him on various issues including health care, defense, energy, education, and others, just like a political figure. Beck then astonishingly declared that "we need to start thinking like the Chinese", and announcing he would spend the next year with his shadow cabinet to create "a 100-year plan for America."
Beck then spent a few moments engaging in his famous emotional side, promising the crowd that if they followed him, they would be able to tell their children they did all they could for America. To do this, they could go to any of Beck's seven "education conventions" to learn "everything we need to know" such as an alternative history of the Statue of Liberty, and even community organizing, and of course Beck will "teach you how to be a politician" if you really want to run for office. (Will Beck train attendees how to quit before your first term as governor has expired, and improperly use your taxpayer-funded resources to put on a partisan political event, just like two of his favorite politicians?) Beck finished this plan up by taking an unsurprising potshot at ACORN, and announcing that he will organize voter registration drives, stating that "two can play at this game." Does that mean he will fire anyone who fills out voter registration forms fraudulently, yet turn in all voter registration forms as required by law in many states? Only time will tell.
After asking all those assembled to make plans to join him in Washington, D.C. "at the feet of Abraham Lincoln" next August on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous speech, Beck dispelled any rumors that he will run for political office, to the dismay of the crowd. He then made a pre-emptive strike against credible crowd estimates for his rally, saying that the crowd will be reported as "tens of thousands ... on the Mall." Incidentally, Media Matters has documented Beck's practice of inflating crowd sizes for the events that he promotes. Beck then promised that at the planned D.C. rally, the congressional representatives "will either come to us, or we will blow by them and put our own people in." Next, Beck declared that if what he demands will lead to the rise of a third party and destroy the two-party system, "so be it, they should to be destroyed."
Raising the fear that those in debt could be enslaved in the future, Beck called on everyone present to be an example for the country, to get out of debt and to not use violence - which he often feels the need to plead with his viewers to refrain from committing. He also called on his followers to be as religiously devout as the Pilgrims were when they landed. After all, as Beck said, "If He is on our side, who can stand against us?" Later on, Beck complained about South Park, Saturday Night Live, and The Daily Show mocking him. He then asked if everyone present was prepared to sacrifice everything for their children, to lose their jobs, their homes, to live like their grandparents -- or in many cases, their parents or even themselves - lived during the Great Depression, and nearly every hand in view shot up.
Beck concluded his rally by continuing with his Titanic analogy, then urging everyone to join him next year "as we take our country back, and usher in the next greatest generation of Americans." This was obviously no mere speech by a member of the media. This was a classic political rally, designed to rev up what is now undeniably Glenn Beck's political base to help him accomplish a political agenda. And it all leads to the question: Just how much political organizing is too much for Fox News?
Yesterday, the United States Senate voted to bring health care reform legislation to the floor for debate. Now, take a look at how the Washington Post reports that vote in the lead headline on the paper's web site:
Democrats vote. Now, it's true that all of the Senate's Democrats voted to bring the bill to the floor. But not only the Democrats: Connecticut for Lieberman party member Joe Lieberman -- who is a Senator today because he ran against the Democratic party's most recent nominee for his seat -- did, too, as did independent Bernie Sanders.
More importantly, "Democrats vote" -- as compared to, say, "Senate votes" or "Senate decides" -- suggests Senate Democrats' vote to bring the bill to the floor was a political act rather than an act of governing. It suggests that yesterday's vote didn't take place in the full Senate, but in the Democratic cloakroom, or at the DNC -- that it was just Democrats deciding among themselves to move the bill to the floor, without any Republicans (or Connecticut-for-Liebermans) involved in the vote. And it suggests that the actions of a house of Congress don't really count unless they are "bipartisan."
More unintentional comedy, courtesy of Breitbart and Big Government.
As CF noted, Breitbart's defending himself against the claim by Columbia Journalism Review that he's "blackmailing" Attorney General Eric Holder. This, after Breitbart went on Fox News last week and demanded that the DOJ launch an ACORN investigation or that Breitbart would reveal more undercover videos during next year's election season.
Here's Breitbart defending his look-at-me, investigate-or-else charade [emphasis added]:
And now to address the fever-swamp's notion that what I said on "Hannity" last night was "blackmail." Blackmail occurs when one party threatens to reveal an unsavory piece of information about another party, and demands money in exchange for silence.
There's no way Breitbart is trying to blackmail Holder, because Breitbart isn't demanding money, right? Laugh along at Breitbart's ignorance as you read the definition of "blackmail":
1. (Law) to exact or attempt to exact (money or anything of value) from (a person) by threats or intimidation; extort2. to attempt to influence the actions of (a person), esp by unfair pressure or threats
Blackmail has been defined in the broad sense to mean "compelling someone to act against their will or gaining or attempting to gain something of value." Courts vary on interpreting what "something of value" includes, but it is not necessarily a money payment in all cases.
[CJR] has been sitting it out on the sidelines, waiting - rooting - for Hannah Giles, James O'Keefe and me to make a mistake.
The Washington Post's David Broder had a predictably dour column about health care reform yesterday -- a paint-by-numbers job consisting of little more than a couple of quotes from interest groups that don't like government spending and a poll showing that people worry health care reform will add to the deficit. (Broder's summary of the poll alone took up 6 of his 16 paragraphs.)
If Broder ever was worth reading for his insights rather than his reporting, that time is long gone, as yesterday's column reminds us.
And, indeed, Broder's colleague Ezra Klein quickly exposed the flaws in the little bit of Broder's column that wasn't simply a regurgitation of poll results and interest-group quotes:
David Broder has a column today expressing skepticism that health-care reform will really cut the deficit. But he doesn't provide much evidence for the charge.
The specific budget gimmick mentioned in the column is that Reid has delayed the subsidies "from mid-2013 to January 2014 -- long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun." But not that long. The excise tax, for instance, begins in 2013. More to the point, it's not clear what Broder's complaint is. Reid delayed the implementation of the subsidies in order to ensure the bill's deficit neutrality in the first 10 years, which is what Broder wants. Why attack him for it?
In other words, the revenue and the savings grow more quickly than the costs. Extend that line out further and, yes, federal spending on health care falls as a result of this bill. In other words, the bill satisfies Broder's conditions. But he doesn't come out and say that.
More broadly, I'm confused by the budget hawks who that take the line: "This bill needs to cut the deficit, and I don't believe Democrats will cut the deficit, but since the actual provisions of the bill unambiguously cut the deficit, then I guess Congress won't stick to it."
People who want to cut the deficit should support this bill, and support its implementation. The alternative is no bill that cuts the deficit, and thus no hope of cutting the deficit.
If anyone wants to offer a reason -- other than inertia -- why the Post's print edition carried Broder's column and not one by Klein, I'd love to hear it.