A December 4 New York Times article on White House social secretary Desirée Rogers reported that the Obama administration had apparently considered a "non-religious Christmas" celebration in the White House as a way to reach out to other faiths and that, according to the Times, there was a debate about whether to display the traditional nativity scene. In the end, the article added, "tradition won out; the executive mansion is now decorated for the Christmas holiday, and the crèche is in its usual East Room spot."
Run that story through WorldNetDaily's looking glass -- heavily distorted by right-wing partisanship and sheer, unreasonable hatred of Barack Obama -- and you get a December 8 WND article by Chelsea Schilling, headlined "Obama's latest target: Ousting baby Jesus" and carrying this lede:
The Obama administration sought to ban baby Jesus from the executive mansion as part of its plans for a "non-religious Christmas," according to a participant at a White House luncheon.
Briefly considering not erecting a nativity scene means you "sought to ban baby Jesus"? Really?
Does the WorldNetDaily store sell these looking glasses so the rest of us can take part in this same mind-bending distortion? Or is the experience open only to those who hate Obama with a burning passion like Joseph Farah and Co. do?
This may come as a shock to many of you, but Rush Limbaugh was not entirely honest during a discussion of Tiger Woods today. I know, it's hard to believe. But take a listen:
LIMBAUGH: Compare the attention that the drive-bys are giving all of these alleged mistresses. Compare that to the way they treated Gennifer Flowers and the other bimbo eruptions during the first Clinton campaign. They made excuses for Clinton. ... Gennifer Flowers was ignored, and then she was mocked, and then discredited. And she had tapes!
Ok. First, Gennifer Flowers was not "ignored," unless by "ignored" Limbaugh means "The New York Times never quite got around to changing its name to Gennifer Flowers Daily." A Nexis search for "Gennifer Flowers" in the New York Times directory yields 77 hits in 1992. In the Washington Post directory, 171. CNN: 150. ABC: 30. CBS: 41. Flowers' allegations got so much attention, Clinton went on 60 Minutes after the Super Bowl to respond to them. So, "ignored" is just a flat-out lie.
Now, on to "mocked, and then discredited." As Arkansas journalist Gene Lyons has detailed, "Flowers' resumé claimed degrees from colleges she'd barely attended, membership in a sorority she'd never joined and jobs she'd never held. Her claim to have won the Miss Teenage America crown proved false. Much was made locally of her claim to The Star that she and Clinton had many torrid assignations during 1979 and 1980 at the Excelsior, Little Rock's fanciest hotel. The Excelsior didn't exist until November 1982."
Gennifer Flowers, in other words, discredited herself, by lying about just about everything she could think of. And still, the media did not ignore her; years later, she was still showing up as a guest on Chris Matthews' television show, where she spread lies that the Clintons were murderers.
Finally, the tapes: contemporaneous news reports indicated the tapes were selectively edited to make Clinton look worse. (Years later, Flowers sued James Carville and George Stephanopoulos for defamation because they referred to those news reports. Her suit was thrown out of court.)
Back to Limbaugh:
LIMBAUGH: And they went out of their way to save Bill Clinton and to destroy-- even when the Lewinsky thing hit.
Right. The Washington Post and New York Times each assigned half their newsrooms to cover the Lewinsky story -- and they were certainly not alone in their obsessive coverage.
LIMBAUGH: They all joined forces and tried to make Ken Starr out to be some sex pervert. That was so laugh-- but anyway.
Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr submitted a report to Congress that mentioned the word "Whitewater" twice and the word "sex" more than 500 times -- not to mention the countless graphic descriptions of sex acts. If anyone made Ken Starr appear to be obsessed with sex, it was Ken Starr. (And remember, Starr was snooping around Arkansas trying to find women who had slept with Clinton long before the Lewinsky matter came to his attention.)
Back to Rush:
LIMBAUGH: Now, with Tiger, all theses alleged mistresses are believed: Every word they say. The media is digging deep to find out everything they-- imagine if the media had acted this way with Bill Clinton and John Edwards back in their day.
Please. If the media had devoted any more attention to the Lewinsky story, they wouldn't have had room for baseball box scores or movie listings.
The simple truth is that no single story -- political or otherwise -- has received the sustained level of media attention the Clinton-Lewinsky story got for all of 1998 and the early part of 1999. Limbaugh claiming the media ignored allegations of infidelity by Bill Clinton isn't like claiming two plus two equals five; it's like claiming two plus two equals three-hundred and forty-seven thousand.
In a segment about the Environmental Protection Agency's announcement that it will issue an endangerment finding allowing it to regulate greenhouse gases, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy brought up a GOP press conference that he claimed was about "a bombshell internal EPA report that showed that the White House was interfering with the EPA's investigators who were looking into the effects of carbon dioxide." He also aired a clip of Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas saying:
"They [EPA scientists] were told point blank, the decision's already been made at the White House, we're gonna move forward with this, your report's not helpful, in fact it's harmful. Stop working on it. Now I have a copy of that report, I'm sure Mr. Sensenbrenner and Mr. Issa, we can provide it to anybody in this room, and it clearly, just a casual review of this report shows that they had made a predetermined decision to issue the endangerment finding, to heck with what the facts are."
According to Nexis transcripts, Barton also said, "There is a suppressed report that we've been able to get a copy of and Mr. [Darrell] Issa [R-CA] has done yeoman's work on this, and Mr. [Jim] Sensenbrenner [R-WI], that we'll be using in the future. It's an internal EPA report that shows that it's way too early to issue a public health endangerment finding.... The group within the EPA that was supposed to go out and verify issued a report that was suppressed and they were told, point blank, the decisions have already been made at the White House, we're going to move forward with this, your report is not helpful, in fact, it's harmful, stop working on it."
Barton is presumably referring to the conspiracy the right-wing hatched last June about the agency suppressing EPA "scientist" Alan Carlin's dissenting report on climate change. The right-wing blog Human Events certainly seems to think so, reporting today that Carlin's March 16 report "was disclosed by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in which he said that the report was not considered by EPA in reaching its Monday determination."
But the idea that the EPA suppressed Carlin's report has been repeatedly debunked -- the EPA said Carlin was not a scientist and was never asked to work on the endangerment finding, but that nonetheless, his opinions would be incorporated. Sure enough, Carlin is listed as one of the "authors and contributors" to the technical report the EPA issued yesterday supporting the finding.
But Fox & Friends ran with it anyway; as Doocy was speaking, the following on-screen graphics appeared, despite the fact that no information provided by Fox & Friends, nor anything in Barton's remarks, supports the graphics' claim that "an EPA scientist "admit[ted] findings were fraudulent," or that the White House "interfered" with any of EPA's actual scientific research.
For days now, the Fox & Friends trio -- Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade -- have doled out an insane amount of false rhetoric about climate change science. Baited by skeptics who say emails reportedly stolen from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) show that climate change is not happening, the Fox & Friends hosts have repeatedly distorted the emails' content without any regard for facts or context.
But since they can only spin one topic for so many days before it gets old, today they moved on to rehashing the old, debunked, Carlin was "hushed up" claim.
Support for the U.S. role in the war in Afghanistan jumped 9 points following Obama's West Point speech last week, according to a new Quinnipiac Univ. poll. It will be interesting to see what kind of media play that gets, considering how lots of pundits panned Obama's address, and how the press this year has shown an overwhelming interest in Obama polling data when the numbers go down for Obama.
UPDATED: An even more recent Quinnipiac survey puts Obama's approval rating at 46 percent, while a new Bloomberg News poll puts that number at 54 percent. Which result do you think is getting more media attention?
UPDATED: This is kind of priceless. Time's Mark Halperin does highlight the Bloomberg poll, but not the good news for Obama. Instead, here's the news Halperin found in the poll that showed Obama with a robust job approval rating:
Poll: Majority See Nation on Wrong Track: Despite reporting 54% approval for Obama, new Bloomberg survey shows 59% think country is heading in the wrong direction.
So, if you're following at home, the Quinnipiac poll that showed Obama's Afghanistan policy receiving a spike in support is of little interest to the press. But the Quinnipiac poll that shows Obama's approval rating falling is of interest. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg poll showing Obama's approval rating remaining strong is of little interest to the press. But the portion of the same Bloomberg poll showing bad "wrong track" numbers is of interest.
In other words, good news is no news.
On the extraordinarily unlikely chance that anyone out there takes Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard seriously, his latest offering should put an end to that:
Later, Sheppard declared Chetry's mention of a snowstorm "absolutely delicious."
Whenever you see someone suggesting that a December snowstorm in New England undermines the scientific consensus behind global warming, you know one of two things is true: Either they are a fool, or they think you are.
It's basically the equivalent of saying "The economy is fine: Bill Gates still has a lot of money." And yet it is one of the central talking points of the right-wing media's assault on global warming science.
From the December 8 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down|
There are many, many problems with the product NewsBusters turns out every day -- awful writing, specious arguments, and outright falsehoods, just to name a few. Among the most glaring, however, is their seemingly deliberate effort to be as inconsistent and hypocritical as possible.
Yesterday, NewsBuster Lachlan Markay attacked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for saying of Gallup's daily presidential tracking poll trendline: "I'm sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend." Markay responded:
Saying the Fox News Channel was not a real news organization was bad enough. But comparing a reputable polling organization to a 6-year-old child with a crayon? That is quite a stretch. This childish accusation--either of incompetence or dishonesty, Gibbs did not make clear which--demonstrates the White House's knee-jerk instincts when confronted with potentially damaging news. The administration, like many on the left, almost seems to feel entitled to news that portrays it in a positive light and advances its agenda.
And here's where the rank hypocrisy comes in. Anyone who is at all familiar with NewsBusters knows that when they are confronted with polling data they don't like, their standard response is to attack the pollster as liberally biased and accuse pollsters of cooking their numbers. Back in October, Tim Graham claimed an ABC News/Washington Post poll "stuff[ed] its poll sample with a few extra Democrats" to get the result they wanted. In June, Noel Sheppard accused the New York Times and CBS News of helping President Obama's health care initiative along "by creating a new poll on the subject that WAY oversampled people who voted for Obama." In April, Graham wrote of a New York Times poll: "Are the liberals cooking the party-ID books again for these polls? Yep." The examples go on and on and on and on.
More to the point, NewsBusters has accused Gallup -- the "reputable polling organization" whose honor Markay defended -- of cooking their numbers to favor Obama. In October 2008, Tom Blumer wrote of Gallup's expanded likely voter model: "Yeah, right. 86% - 9% [sic] of the 159 new 'expanded' likely voters go to Obama. How convenient. This doesn't even pass the stench test, let alone the smell test."
I don't know if NewsBusters has an editorial staff to keep track of all this, but it can't be the case that their contributors don't read their own blog. What's more likely is that they simply don't care. They'll readily sacrifice what little credibility they have just to make a lame attack on a political figure they don't like.
From a December 9 Washington Examiner editorial, headlined "Czar Obama takes aim at Congress":
Congressional liberals who failed to get their cap-and-trade scheme approved in the Senate are ecstatic about the EPA's ruling. There was a time when American liberals worried about excessive executive power; today they cheer as Barack Obama dons the robes of the imperial presidency in ways that Richard Nixon never dreamed possible. Consider, for example, the enthusiasm of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who said "the message to Congress is crystal clear: Get moving. If Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration is more than justified to use the EPA to impose new regulations." In other words, if Congress heeds public opposition and refuses to pass cap-and-trade, well, then Czar Obama will act on his own.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is challenging the EPA Endangerment Ruling in federal court, but Congress ought not wait on the judicial branch to declare this action unconstitutional, as it surely should if and when the Supreme Court reconsiders the issue. Congress must assert its supreme authority now by denying funds for the enforcement of this pernicious ruling and explicitly directing EPA to withdraw it. Like Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are Democrats, but does that mean they must also be his servants?
Well that was fun while it lasted.
As Jeremy Schulman spelled out on CF last night, you can pretty much throw away Fox News' supposed "zero tolerance" policy for making newsroom blunders. After Fox News made a string of sloppy whoppers in recent weeks , execs claimed they were going to clean house, get back to basics, hold everyone responsible, and some people might even get fired! Because, darn it, Fox News plays home to real journalists, or so claimed the Fox News team.
But as MMA highlighted yesterday, it's all BS. Fox News was caught, yet again, making the type of mistake that would cause red faces at a community access channel. And the cabler's response? It just tried to spin it away. (Read here why the spin was almost as embarrassing as the original blunder.)
Big surprise? Hardly. Fox News simply has no track record of holding accountable employees who regularly commit all kinds of crimes against journalism. (Y'know, like its anchors.)
But perhaps even more importantly, the latest transgression highlights again how Fox News and journalism just don't mix. Because when newsroom blunders crop up, actual news organizations try to figure what went wrong and then takes steps to safeguard them from ever being repeated. But since Fox News doesn't really function as a news outlet any more (it's a purely political entity), it's no surprise that that kind of introspection does not take place. Even after the cabler touted a "zero tolerance" policy for mistakes, it still found a way to explain away its latest gaffe, rather than hold anybody accountable.
My point is, how can Fox News brass suddenly force a "zero tolerance" policy onto a newsroom staff that really doesn't do news? (i.e. It's Greek to them) And we keep seeing the proof. How else would the wrong video mysteriously be pulled from the Fox News archives and inserted into a wildly misleading Sean Hannity report about a right-wing protest? Why else would a Fox News producer treat a political rally like an in-studio audience and pump up partisan members off-camera just moment before a live "news" report?
The mistakes that routinely tumble out of Fox News are not the same kinds of mistakes that get made at the competition. They don't get made at CNN, for instance, and they don't get made at ABC News. They don't get made at those place because CNN an ABC are actual news operations. Fox News is not.
So why Fox News execs ever thought they could institute a "zero tolerance" policy remains a mystery, since there seems be a culture within Fox News where everyday staffers have decided there are no rules left; that they don't actually work for a "news" organization.
And honestly, can you blame them?
WH spokesman Robert Gibbs caused a small media ripple this week when he was asked Monday about Gallup's daily tracking poll which showed the president down three points to 47 approval rating. (On Tuesday, Obama was back up to 50 percent.)
On the company's site, Editor in Chief Frank Newport posted a response to Gibbs' mild swipe at Gallup's never-ending Obama polling data, and Newport himself raised several interesting points about the nature of polling. But this one seemed a bit off-course, as Newport oversold the significance of the daily tracking numbers:
But keeping tabs on the people's views of their elected representatives between elections is vitally important - and something in which the people of the country are demonstrably interested.
It's vitally important to know how Americans feel about Obama each and every day of the year? That seems like a stretch. (The nation seemed to manage prior to Gallup's non-stop presidential polling.)
But I thought this was even more off the mark:
Obama is set to travel to Oslo, Norway, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The White House is probably just as interested as we are in how the American public is going to react to this event. Our tracking will give us the answer -- both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Baloney. What the Gallup numbers will do during the days when Obama travels to Norway is measure the percentage of Americans who approve of the job he's doing as president. Period. Nothing more and nothing less. The notion endorsed by Gallup--that from the extremely vague job approval questions that we can extrapolate how Americans (in this instance) view Obama's Norway trip--doesn't really make much sense. If Gallup commissioned a poll and specifically asked Americans about Norway, then sure, we'd get some insight.
But assuming that because the job approval rating question is asked when Obama is in Norway that respondents will give their answer based solely on the fact that Obama is in Norway, again, makes no sense.
And my guess is that that's the larger point Gibbs may have been trying to make on Monday, which is that the press' obsession with Obama's daily tracking numbers (an obsession, BTW, that only kicks in when the numbers inch downward) is off-base because journalists read way too many things into the generic question. Just like Frank Newport does when he claims that we'll know how Americans feel about Obama going to Norway.
Not by looking at the daily tracking poll numbers we won't.