I'm goofing a bit here on the beloved, and simplistic, right-wing meme that's been popular for years now as big city daily newspapers continue to shed readers. The claim is that newspapers are shrinking because they're so darn liberal; because they've lost touch with their readers.
Forget about the Internet or how free media has transformed our culture. Readers are canceling their subscriptions because there are too many liberal columnists! And hey, that's how the marketplace works.
What's so ironic is that it turns out it's the WashTimes and the New York Post, two unabashedly conservative newspapers, are losing perhaps the most readers of any newspaper. Both dailies have cost their owners billions of dollars in losses. Indeed, the owners don't even pretend the papers could earn a profit in the marketplace. Instead the dailies act as subsidized conservative workfare projects, paid for in the name of giving the owners a (money-losing) media platform.
Increasingly though, the news for the WashTimes and New York Post is getting so grim that perhaps even the Rev. Sung Myung Moon and Rupert Murdoch, respectively, are starting to have second thoughts. The Post, for instance, has lost nearly 200,000 readers since 2007. And at the Moonie Times, executives were swept out of office this week in the wake of more dismal financial numbers.
If only the dailies weren't so conservative, maybe they wouldn't be losing so much money.
From the New York Post's November 10 editorial:
Late Saturday night, House Democrats slipped through the largest piece of legislation America's seen in decades.
If it becomes law, it would radically alter American life in countless ways -- for the worse.
The pain would kick in as soon as 2011, putting at risk any chance of economic recovery. (No wonder gold soared past $1,000 an ounce yesterday.)
And vital medical decisions would need Washington's OK, meaning they'd be based on political considerations.
All told, a huge setback for America, yet one possibly headed your way soon.
The Fox Nation is currently highlighting a November 6 Red State post titled "Another Czar Bites the Dust" that claims that "Internet Czar" (actually, special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy) Susan Crawford was the latest "body tossed under the insatiable Obama bus."
So according to the active imaginations of right-wing bloggers, the announcement that Crawford will leave the White House (sometime in January) is their latest victory in the Fox-led witch hunt against supposed "czars." The only problem with that theory is that there isn't any evidence that it's true, and there is significant evidence that it's not.
The Washington Post first reported Crawford's planned departure in an October 27 piece that undermines the right-wing media's narrative of a "czar" forced to resign amidst growing public outcry. According to the Post, "Crawford will leave her position in January to return to the University of Michigan Law School where she is a tenured professor, according to the Obama administration." The Post reported that Crawford "has been on temporary leave from the university to serve in the White House" but that her "sabbatical, which began two months after she received tenure at the University of Michigan, will end in January." The Post quoted an Obama spokesperson saying:
Susan has done an outstanding job coordinating technology policy at the National Economic Council where her expertise on issues from intellectual property to the Internet has been invaluable. ... We understand that she needs to return to her responsibilities in Ann Arbor, but we will miss having her wise counsel in the White House.
So what evidence do right-wing media have that the Post report is wrong or that the Obama administration is lying about why Crawford is leaving? Well, the Red State post that Fox Nation highlights cites two sources: a November 2 "Washington Prowler" column in The American Spectator and a November 5 post on Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog, which in turn cites only the Spectator column. And here's what the Spectator claims:
Crawford resigned, citing the need to return to her tenured position at the University of Michigan law school, but White House sources say that when Crawford signed on to the administration, she told them the university had given her a two-year waiver before requiring a return. "There may have been miscommunication there, but we thought it was two years," says the White House source. Similar waivers -- usually two or three years -- were given to a number of academics who joined the Bush Administration in various positions back in 2001.
Crawford's exit comes at a time when some Obama Administration aides, after seeing the fallout from the resignation of Van Jones and the spotlight placed on leftists inside the administration, like Anita Dunn, wonder if it is too late to pull back many of the more radical aides now placed in a number of different cabinet level departments, including the Department of Justice, and the Energy and Education departments, and federal agencies. "They haven't done us any good on any level," says the White House aide. "And now they are just a bunch of targets on our back that we can't shake."
So that's it. A right-wing gossip column claims to have somehow obtained a statement from an anonymous "White House source" saying something that appears to contradict what the White House is telling actual journalists.
As any regular reader of the Spectator knows, however, highly improbable anonymous quotes are a staple of the Washington Prowler column. For example, "Allahpundit," a conservative writer for Michelle Malkin's Hot Air blog, has made the following observations about the reliability of the Prowler's reporting:
There's another apparent problem with Fox Nation's latest tale. The Washington Post first reported Crawford's planned departure the evening of Tuesday, October 27. But Glenn Beck -- who had criticized Crawford a couple times in the past, and who was on the air that entire week -- never declared victory. He never even mentioned on Fox News that she planned to step down. In fact, a Nexis search reveals no examples of anyone on Fox News discussing Crawford's departure.
If this really was the great right-wing victory Fox Nation now wants us to believe it was, wouldn't Fox News hosts have mentioned it two weeks ago?
Back in July, after Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist, NBC News' First Read blog stated:
What's most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn't a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it's now encouraged
Today, we found out why there were no repercussions whatsoever for Beck's comment - his boss agrees with him. As Think Progress noted, in an interview with Sky News Australia, Rupert Murdoch said of the comment:
On the racist thing, that caused a grilling. But he did make a very racist comment. Ahhh...about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, and which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And um, that was something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the President, but if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
So there you have it. Fox News' host calls the president of the United States a racist, Fox News' owner agrees with him, and Fox News' president has a long history of appealing to racial fears and biases for political gain as a Republican strategist. But of course, Fox News is a legitimate news organization.
From Pamela Geller's November 9 Atlas Shrugs post:
FSM: Who is, or are, to blame that this act was able to be completed? Please name names as well as organizations.DG: The people with "blood on their hands" due to this tragedy (aside from (allegedly) Maj. Hasan) are taught by his Muslim leaders and from the materials they provide to them to study. Politicians have "muzzled" full investigations and who even now label it as an isolated incident. Flat out: this is a lie and will cause more deaths for young men, women, and children. This was not an isolated incident. Maj. Hasan (allegedly) did what he was taught. Politicians, Muslims, and law enforcement are concerned about a 'backlash' against Muslims. Now is the time for a professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders. Muslims know what materials are being taught in their mosques and they know many of the materials instruct young Muslims to kill innocent people who do not adhere to Sharia law. If Muslims do not want a backlash, then I would recommend a "house cleaning." Stack every Saudi, al Qaeda, Pakistani, Taliban, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood piece of material from their mosque and have a bonfire. Tell the American, Jewish, and Muslim community this hatred will no longer be allowed in their mosques.
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 9 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Big changes are afoot at The Washington Times, including the possible departure of executive editor John Solomon. TPM's Ben Frumin reported today that in a "major shakeup," three executives are leaving the right-wing newspaper, and that "two newsroom sources said they expect [Solomon] to resign" as well.
The reasoning behind the "major shakeup" may be a surprise to many. In its official announcement of the moves, the paper stated: "Today's industry conditions and the general economic downturn necessitate this team-based assessment, planning, and subsequent implementation of a plan to enable The Times to become a sustainable multimedia company in today's challenging news industry environment. ... The process will clarify the steps needed to achieve the goal of a market-based, financially sustainable media enterprise."
That's right, fiscal responsibility has finally reached The Washington Times after decades of red ink.
One has to wonder what prompted this new attention to the bottom line. A Washington Post article on the Times' 20th anniversary in 2002 reported that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder, had "plowed about $1.7 billion into subsidizing the Times" in its first two decades of operation. That's a lot of cheddar to make sure your "bolder, brighter" paper gets out to one-eighth as many readers as the local competition. You can buy a lot of phony attacks on President Obama's "czars" with that kind of money, but the Times has now apparently decided that such expenditures are unacceptable.
What effect will the shake-up have on the Times' editorial content? We'll have to wait and see. In a memo to the Times staff upon his hiring, Solomon discussed making the operation "more profitable"; he also mentioned the staff's "shared pride as journalists" and claimed he wanted to create a "superior print and online news product." It's unclear how successful he was at pushing the Times toward profitability, but he seems to have maintained its standing as a major purveyor of conservative misinformation.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."