Hey, what do you know, another Beltway media beast deciding that the crazy right-wing claims last week that Obama's bow in Japan was somehow the sign of worldwide submission and that that, of course, represented breaking news.
From Newsweek [emphasis added; no link found]:
The president was pilloried last week for his deep bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito during a visit to Tokyo. Was he groveling before a foreign leader--or just being polite?
And who did the all-important pillorying? Newsweek was mum on that front. I wonder if that's because the unhinged cries about the bow were shouted out by the same crazies who claim Obama is a racist and a communist and a fascist and, yes, not an American citizen. Maybe Newsweek played dumb about who had "pilloried" Obama because it's the same people who cane him every day of the year regardless of what he says or does.
As I note in my column this week:
The sad truth is that the press is still way too impressed with the right-wing shouts and still capitulates to them, and then dutifully translates those shouts into "news" with coverage that seems purposefully dumbed down in order to avoid bringing news consumers to the obvious conclusion that the Obama-hating allegation being "debated" that day is absurd. Or, to avoid bringing news consumers to the equally obvious conclusion that the allegation being "debated" raised more questions about critics making it (i.e. what is wrong with these people?), than it did their target.
But never mind any of that. Newsweek decided to play the bow up as news. And oh yeah, Newsweek forgot to mention that, according to a Fox News poll last week, a overwhelming majority of Americans approved of Obama bowing in Japan, and even a majority of Republicans approved. So much for that "controversy." But for some reason that didn't stop Newsweek from pushing the bowing nonsense as a big deal.
UPDATED: And yes, it was Newsweek's own Katie Connolly who last week wrote that the phony 'debate' over Obama's bow was both "contrived and unhelpful."
Too bad her editors didn't heed her words.
From Richard Cohen's November 24 Washington Post column:
But to reread the speech is also to come face to face with an Obama of keen moral clarity. Here was a man who knew why he was running for president and knew, also precisely, what he personified. He could talk to America as a black man and a white man -- having lived in both worlds. He could -- and he did -- explain to America what it is like to have been a black man of Wright's age and what it is like even now to be a black man of any age.
Somehow, though, that moral clarity has dissipated. The Obama who was leading a movement of professed political purity is the very same person who as president would not meet with the Dalai Lama, lest he annoy the very sensitive Chinese. He is the same man who bowed to the emperor of Japan when, in my estimation, the president of the United States should bow to no man. He is the same president who in China played the mannequin for the Chinese government, appearing at stage-managed news conferences and events -- and having his remarks sometimes censored. When I saw him in that picture alone on the Great Wall, he seemed to be thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" If so, it was a good question.
The Barack Obama of that Philadelphia speech would not have let his attorney general, Eric Holder, announce the new policy for trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court, as if this were a mere departmental issue and not one of momentous policy. And the Barack Obama of the speech would have enunciated a principle of law and not an ad hoc system in which some alleged terrorists are tried in civilian courts and some before military tribunals. What is the principle in that: What works, works? Try putting that one on the Liberty Bell.
From The New Yorker's November 23 profile on Glenn Beck:
If you sensed something of a quiet spell about ten days ago, a lull in the usual media storm, it may have been owing to the fact that Glenn Beck, the energetically hateful, truth-twisting radio and Fox News Channel talk-show host, was absent from the airwaves for a week, to have his appendix removed. A few days after his surgery, he made it clear, via his Twitter feed, that he hated just watching TV, which is, of course, the terrible fate of those of us who don't have talk shows. ("I know how U feel. Watching the news & knowing wht I say 2 my tv makes no difference," he wrote. "I cnt wait 2 giv U wht I think has bn going on.") By the middle of last week, he was back, breathing fire about Obama's response to the Fort Hood shootings.
A headline at the top of Beck's Web site announces what he thinks he's selling: "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment." If by this Beck means that his product is radioactive, he's got that right. We can only hope that its toxic charge will fade over time. But that seems unlikely. At the end of the Elia Kazan-Budd Schulberg movie "A Face in the Crowd," the Arkansas opportunist and petty criminal who has been repackaged, by a radio broadcaster, as a guitar-playing professional hayseed called Lonesome Rhodes (played brilliantly by Andy Griffith), and who has been consumed and ruined by fame, shows his true colors when he bad-mouths his audience over an open mike. The nation abandons him, and, as the movie ends, he's shouting, unheard, into the night. These days, because of the Internet, it's not so easy to get rid of a demagogue. Long after Beck leaves radio and TV, his sound bites will still be with us.
Newsbusters Mike Bates provides the lamest criticism of poll reporting in quite some time:
That private health insurance companies would still be available to compete with a public option is a major consideration in how Americans answer such questions.
Contrary to what [CNN's Kiran] Chetry intimated, her own network's poll doesn't show 56 percent simply favoring "some sort of public option," but rather one that specifically would be in competition with private insurers. She's the one who's confused, not Michael Steele.
That might be a good point if proposed health care reform didn't allow private health insurers to compete with the public option. But it does. So ...
Eighty 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 November 23 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Let it never be said that Glenn Beck fails to repay those who are loyal to him.
On his show today, Beck told his audience that they should buy gold to protect themselves in the event of a U.S. economic collapse. Minutes later, that same audience was treated to a commercial for Goldline International, featuring a "gold investor and a Goldline client" who cited "our government spending trillions of dollars and counting" and "a debt that will burden our children and grandchildren for years to come" as reasons to buy their product. I wonder how many of Beck's viewers called their hotline on the spot?
Gold investment firms are among Beck's most loyal advertisers. If you follow our regular County Fair post documenting the companies running ads on Beck's program, you know that at least four such firms run ads on Beck's show: Goldline International, Rosland Capital, Superior Gold Group and Merit Financial. Rosland and Goldline in particular run ads on virtually every edition of the program.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." The gold companies are among the last ones that still want to be associated with Beck.
Today, they got their reward.
As my colleague Eric Hananoki noted below, FishbowlDC posted a Fox News memo today acknowledging "a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months" and stating that in the future, "there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors" and "[m]istakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the 'mistake chain,' and those who supervise them... up to and including termination."
I wonder how far up the "mistake chain" this "zero tolerance" policy will apply? Does it extend to the on-air "talent," or is Fox News planning to blame all the mistakes on their assistant producers? If the "talent" misleads the audience, will some kid just out of college pay for it, or is the network actually planning to disciple its hosts, anchors, correspondents, and contributors for their errors?
My guess is that the buck isn't going to stop with the moneymakers on camera. But let's imagine if it did...
After Bill Hemmer falsely claims that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings knew about a "statutory rape" case and "never reported it," he's fired.
Chris Wallace gets suspended after channeling a stream of falsehoods about the Veterans Administration's purported "death book."
That would be accountability... but I really can't see it happening. If anyone pays at Fox News, it's going to be the little fish. Joe Lieberman's party affiliation may be labeled correctly in the future, but the "mistakes" in Fox News' reporting and commentary will be permitted to live on.
In any case, if Fox News' disciplinarians are interested in finding out when their personnel are making mistakes, they should watch this space. Media Matters will continue to comprehensively document Fox News falsehoods - and we hold all levels accountable.
This morning, the Washington Post published Howard Kurtz's 2,600 word profile of Emily Miller, a former GOP flack trying to get her career back on track after getting caught up in the Abramoff scandal. A few hours later, a Post reader had a simple question: Why? And Kurtz had no answer:
Emily Miller story: Why? What was the point -- to get her resume in the Style section so she can get a job?
I read the whole thing and can't figure out for the life of me why it was written and published.
Howard Kurtz: But you read the whole thing. And based on the feedback I'm getting, lots of other folks did too.
Should we write only about people who are already famous? There are thousands of people in Washington who make the town run but ply their trade behind the scenes.
Offered an open-ended invitation to explain what is important or newsworthy about Miller, Kurtz couldn't do it. Worse, it didn't even occur to him to try. He just responded by saying people read the article (many, like his questioner, probably did so in hopes of finding a point, only to be disappointed) and by defending the concept of writing about people who are not already famous (a concept under assault from absolutely nobody.)
It seems rather obvious that the author of a 2,600-word Washington Post article should be able to ask the straightforward question "What was the point." When he can't, there's pretty clearly a problem here somewhere. That the reporter in question is a media critic and still can't see the problem is appalling.
Arlington, VA: Of all the Senators, only Voinowich of Ohio, a Republican, did not vote. As he voted on other legislation that day, could the non-vote indicate that he might be supportive of the health care bill?
Perry Bacon Jr.: I'm pretty sure he will be a no, he's retiring, but known as a strong fiscal conservative.
Bacon didn't bother to explain why being a "strong fiscal conservative" makes Voinovich likely to vote against legislation that would reduce the deficit.
I'm fine with "fiscally conservative" becoming synonymous with "running up massive deficits" -- that is what conservatives have done for the past few decades. But I doubt that's what Bacon meant. So why does he think a fiscal conservative should vote against deficit-reducing health care reform?
Breitbart's tired ACORN smear campaign took an even lamer turn today with BigGovernment's attempt to manufacture a "San Diego ACORN Document Dump Scandal." "Licensed" investigator Derrick Roach dug through the garbage of the San Diego office and found some sensitive documents. To be clear, the documents he purportedly found - a few of which BigGovernment provides in the post - contained sensitive employee and donor information and should have been shredded rather than just dumped in the trash dumpster so that such information couldn't be used by anyone else (e.g. rabid right-wingers with an ACORN obsession).
That said, the information found in the documents BigGovernment provides in the post appears to be so inane that the only scandal promises to be if the conservative media actually continues to run with this tired charade. BigGovernment does promise that "[o]ver the weeks and months ahead, BigGovernment.com will continue to release information from this shocking document dump by ACORN, slowly revealing the ugly truth of ACORN: the fact that their stated mission of helping the poor and downtrodden is just a ruse and a cover for an organization that is highly partisan and highly political, and thus rotten to the core." But if there was really anything that damning in the documents, would BigGovernment really wait weeks and months to release it?
And if the information Breitbart and crew found did show hard and fast evidence of anything criminal, isn't Breitbart ethically - if not legally - obligated to turn over such information to the authorities?
But Breitbart's investigation takes a turn toward the bizarre and downright creepy with what Roach claims is a video shot from outside the San Diego ACORN office, showing several purported ACORN employees talking around someone's desk. Roach explains: "[T]he video clip, from the evening of the document dump, shows ACORN operatives clearly engaged in some kind of discussion - likely related to the activities of that evening." Activities of the evening? Like where to grab dinner and drinks? Or maybe they were discussing whether to see "Zombieland" or "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself." Who knows? But we can be certain that they were discussing something.
Breitbart should do one of two things (or both) immediately: Release everything to the public - tapes, (redacted) documents, etc. - and/or hand everything over to the proper authorities. Unless, of course, it's all just smoke and mirrors...