We've said it again and again: Conservatives, and especially conservative media critics, seem to have no real understanding of how journalism actually works, which means their critiques are often unintentionally comical.
Cue The Weekly Standard.
In full-on pity party mode over Limbaugh's failed Rams purchase, the Standard's John McCormack suggests CNN is guilty of "libel" because Rick Sanchez earlier this week attributed a quote about slavery to Rush Limbaugh; a quote which Limbaugh claims he never made.
Now, even based on that brief episode, the idea that McCormack reaches for "libel" simply illustrates he has no idea what the word means, at least not in the context of American journalism and the U.S. courts. The notion that Rush Limbaugh, a supremely public figure, could sue CNN for libel for attributing a quote to him which denies making is quite amusing.
But here's the real punchline. When Sanchez was notified that Limbaugh disputed the slavery quote, what did the CNN host do? Sanchez went on CNN and informed viewers about Limbaugh's denial.
This is what Sanchez said:
Among the news organizations that reported that [quote] yesterday was our show at 3:00. Limbaugh's response to this is -- and I -- we want to be fair to Rush -- he says: "We have gone back. We have looked at everything else, and there is not even an inkling that any of the words in that quote are accurate. It's outrageous."
So, Rush Limbaugh is denying that that quote has come from him. Obviously, that does not take away the fact that there are other quotes who have been attributed to Rush Limbaugh which many people in the African-American community and many other minority communities do find offensive.
In other words, Sanchez did what any respectable and responsible journalists would do when notified that he may have misspoke on the air. He returned to air and informed viewers. (This, of course, is something hosts on Fox News, and Limbaugh himself, religiously refuse to do.) Yet the Standard is still claiming that CNN might be guilty of "libel."
Like I said, conservatives know so little about journalism, half the time their critiques just make us laugh.
UPDATED: Honestly, is there anything more amusing than watching the GOP Noise Machine lecture people about accuracy and treating people fairly?
From an October 15 "You Decide" FoxNews.com poll:
FoxNews.com's poll is highlighted on the website's front page:
The countdown is on for the right-wing Oct. 17, rallies scheduled at media outlets across the country as "freedom-loving, American-loving, free-speech loving friends" gather to shout insults at news organization. Sounds like fun!
I already mocked the premise based simply on the idea that the Operation: Can You Hear Us Now is built upon the obvious lie that the media ignored conservatives when "about 2 million mad-as-hell taxpayers assembl[ed] in Washington, D.C. for the largest-ever (most well-behaved ever, most respectful ever) protest did not make it onto their radar screens (or our TV screens)." [Emphasis added.]
Um, no you didn't. (It was more like 70,000 protesters.) And yes, you did make into onto TV screens.
But the more I read about the plans for Oct. 17, the more I chuckle. For instance, right-wingers are urged to "Identify local left-wing media outlets" and then protest them this weekend. Activists are urged to "pick your least favorite, liberally biased outlet as ground zero."
So which media outlets do most protesters have their sights set on? Their local television channels, like Channel 4 KARK-TV in Little Rock, AK., and KSN-TV in Wichita, KS., and WLOS in Asheville, N.C. Do you see the irony? Right-wingers are going to protest local affiliates that barely even cover politics. They're going to picket TV channels that spend most of their news budgets covering local sports, weather and robberies. How exactly is local news "liberally biased"?
I can't wait to hear right-wingers air their grievances on Saturday.
And oh yeah, note that "liberally biased" KMPH in Fresno, CA. and KTMJ in Topeka, KS., are targeted for protest this week. And guess what? They're both Fox stations!
We assume today's Limbaugh program will be insufferable as the host wallows in his humiliating NFL defeat, emphasizing that his long history of hateful speech had nothing to do with the football league resoundingly rejecting his bid presence, and that he's simply a victim in this play; that he's the victim of misinformation! In fact, if you hear the sound of pounding in the background of the radio show today, it's probably Limbaugh trying to nail himself to the cross.
Of course, the talker already has lots of support within the GOP Noise Machine, which has decided that multi-millionaire Limbaugh's failed attempt at a vanity business deal represents the most pressing matter facing the conservative movement and America today. They've whipped themselves into a frenzy as they work overtime to convince themselves that Limbaugh's humiliating failure doesn't say anything about how the radical right in perceived by mainstream America. And that Limbaugh's humiliating rejection shouldn't for a moment be considered a slap in the face of the right-wing hate movement that Limbaugh leads.
Good luck with that.
UPDATED: To get a true sense of the incoherent right-wing reaction to the NFL public rejection of Limbaugh, please go read professional Palin pal John Ziegler's name-calling screed at Big Hollywood. It's priceless, as Ziegler asserts that everyone/anyone who dislikes Limbaugh's brand of hate is ignorant. (And yes, that includes pretty much the entire NFL.) And nobody has permission to criticize Oh Mighty Rush because he has free speech rights....or something. (Note to Ziegler: Free speech protects your right to say things. That doesn't mean people have to agree. Just sayin'.)
Here's what's so satisfying about watching the screaming and foot-stomping on the right: Limbaugh makes his living smearing and insulting anyone who disagrees with him. And then when he ventures out of his protected right-wing talk radio bubble and tries to become a player in mainstream American culture and he's resoundingly told to get lost because people don't like the the type of smears and insults he wallows in for a living, his allies announce it's not fair. They claim nobody is allowed to question Rush or his motives.
UPDATED: In an effort to explain away Limbaugh's failed bid, conservatives are now depicting the NFL (owners, players, etc.) as a collection of brain-dead fools. Specifically, writers like Andy McCarthy at NRO claim it was Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who alone turned the tide against Limbaugh in the NFL, and that the multi-billion dollar football industry was completely hoodwinked by a pair of "race baiters."
Hey, if makes you feel better Andy, then by all means keep believing it was Sharpton (who belatedly penned a single letter to the NFL) and Jackson (who also belatedly wrote a letter in protest) who ultimately convinced NFL millionaires to tell Rush to get lost.
P.S. McCarthy has no idea why people think Rush has a problem with race, because he treats people just like Martin Luther King did.
Right. And which MLK quote does this Limbaugh quip remind you of:
"We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black."
UPDATED: Notes Salon's Joan Walsh:
Even as he denies it, Limbaugh is making himself the face of the Republican opposition, and today that face is puffy and tear-streaked and red with self-pitying rage.
UPDATED: Surprise! Limbaugh is serving a vintage whine this afternoon. And suddenly, the NFL, that GOP bastion which Limbaugh praised earlier this week as the undying object of his love and admiration, is a nothing more than a snake pit. It's "an outpost of liberalism and racism."
Now he tells us!
UPDATED: Rush dips into the classic rock archives and announces he's been the victim of a "high-tech lynching."
UPDATED: No, wait. It's all Bob Costas' fault!
UPDATED: And for the record, Limbaugh on his program today also blamed sports writers, Democrats, the players union, Al Sharpton, and Obama (among others) for the talker's humiliating purchase fiasco.
Like I mentioned at the top, that pounding you heard in the background of Limbaugh's show today was the sound of him trying to nail himself to the cross.
Could Limbaugh's unfolding NFL fiasco get any more humiliating after word leaked out late Wednesday that Limbaugh was no longer going to be part of a potential bid to buy the St. Louis Ram? Because reading the statement of Dave Checketts, the pro sports veteran who had initially teamed up with Limbaugh in hopes of landing the Rams, it's clear that Limbaugh was shoved off the bid--dropped like a low round draft pick--and done so in an unflattering, get-lost manner.
In the statement, there wasn't even the pretense of allowing Limbaugh to bow out gracefully with lots of double talk about how he didn't want to become a distraction, etc. Checketts simply confirmed that the investment group he was part of was "moving forward without" Limbaugh, who, thanks to his long record of hate speech, had nearly single-handedly sunk Checkett's chances of acquiring the Rams, as players and owners made clear this distaste for the turbo talker.
More humiliation? On his Wednesday radio program, Limbaugh had vowed to fight on with his pursuit of the Rams; that he would never back off:
"I'm not even thinking of exiting," Limbaugh said on his program, according to a transcript provided to ESPN. "I'm not even thinking of caving. I am not a caver. None of us are."
Well, technically I guess Limbaugh's Alamo-like claim was accurate, since he didn't "cave." But hours later Checketts did throw Limbaugh under the bus.
Enjoy the ride.
UPDATED: Here's the $64,000 question: Did Limbaugh's incessant on-air whining Wednesday about the coverage of the NFL story, and his eagerness to turn the story into a purely partisan one, seal his fate? Meaning, did Checketts and company tune in Wednesday and and hear Limbaugh's typically deranged brand of victimhood and realize that there was no possible way the NFL was ever--ever--going to allow Limbaugh within shouting distance of an owner's box, and that Limbaugh had to be thrown overboard immediately?
UPDATED: Right-wing bloggers are politely reporting that Limbaugh's bid attempt was "withdrawn." Right. Rush went on the radio vowing to never withdraw his bid and then hours later his partners released a press release and abruptly announced they were moving on without him. But in right-wing world that qualifies as Limbaugh having "withdrawn" his bid.
You know what they say about that river in Egypt...
From Sargent's "The Plum Line" blog:
CNN has acknowledged in a statement to me that a high-profile Republican commentator who frequently discusses health care on the air is also the media buyer for one of the ad campaigns bankrolled by America's Health Insurance Plans, the major industry trade group currently waging war against the White House and Dem reform proposals.
CNN tells me his ties to the industry will be disclosed in the future.
The CNN contributor, well-known GOP consultant Alex Castellanos, is best known for producing the racially-charged "Hands" ad, has repeatedly appeared on the network attacking Dem health care plans and the public option, which is strongly opposed by AHIP.
Castellanos's consulting firm, National Media, also recently placed over $1 million of TV advertising for AHIP, according to info obtained by Media Matters. AHIP's most recent $1 million ad buy attacks the health care plan as a threat to Medicare.
This connection, you'd think, should be disclosed whenever Castellanos appears on CNN discussing health care. Asked for comment, CNN spokesperson Edie Emery acknowledged the tie and promised full disclosure in the future. She emailed:
"When Alex Castellano returns from his vacation and next appears on CNN, we will clearly disclose to our viewers relevant information including his firm's relationship with AHIP."
CNN doesn't appear to have known about Castellano's work, and this is not the first time outside help retained by AHIP in the health care wars has created a PR mess. AHIP took heavy criticism after the firm it retained to release a study faulting the reform proposals publicly undercut its own findings.
In recent weeks, Fox News' Glenn Beck has displayed an utterly shameful amount of disrespect toward Jewish people. Yesterday, Beck compared Fox News to Jews during the Holocaust, imploring journalists at other news networks to "[a]sk yourself this question: When they're done with Fox, and you decide to speak out on something. The old, 'First they came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish.'" He went on to add: "Do you really think that this man is then not going to turn on you? That you and your little organization is going to cause him any hesitation at all not to take you out?"
The comments quickly made the rounds on the progressive blogosphere and over at MSNBC. But Beck has employed the analogy on his show before. Back in June, referring to the closures of auto dealerships under the bankruptcy deals of GM and Chrysler, Beck declared:
This is fascism. This is what happens when you merge special interests, corporations, and the government. This is what happens. And if people like you don't take a stand...at some point, you know what poem keeps going through my mind is 'First they came for the Jews.' People, all of us are like, well, this news doesn't really affect me. Well, I'm not a bondholder. Well, I'm not in the banking industry. Well, I'm not a big CEO. Well, I'm not on Wall Street. Well, I'm not a car dealer. I'm not an autoworker. Gang, at some point they're going to come for you.
Both Beck's comparisons of Fox News and auto dealers to the Jews are so colossally stupid and absurd that they deserve to be dissected and mocked, but that's probably best done over cocktails at happy hour or by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show. Much more troubling is how frequently he uses Nazi analogies and how offensive they are.
In fact, Beck's use of Nazi analogies occurs so frequently -- and on such a large stage -- that Godwin's Law ought to be renamed in Beck's (dis)honor.
Among Beck's greatest Nazi hits misses:
Beck apparently has no sense that drawing such analogies on a regular basis diminishes the very meaning of the Holocaust and thus the meaning of those who were victimized by it. Has it never occurred to him that his use of these analogies might offend Jews? Or does he just not give a damn?
Huff Post's Sam Stein reported on Wednesday that the use of such analogies by Beck and others has led to "growing alarm among Jewish groups and anti-defamation activists." Anti-Defamation League's Deborah Lauter told Stein that "we are seeing more of it than usual," particularly in the health care debate. "Using a Nazi analogy just to say that your adversaries position on health care is bad," Lauter said." It "demeans the experience of those who died and those who are still around. It is so offensive on so many levels."
Further evidence of Beck's insensitivity toward Jews is his (failed) attempt to encourage his listeners to set aside September 28 - Yom Kippur - as a "day of Fast and Prayer for the Republic." In a September 19 tweet, Beck wrote:
Today, I'm being ripped apart by some Jewish organization and the Huffington Post is reporting it. Is Glenn so stupid he didn't know that was the day of atonement for Jews? ... No, I just thought it would be a good idea. It could bring people together. And you know, honestly, we don't really have a day of fast and prayer in Christianity. At least my faith doesn't really have a day that you do that, so I figured if they're already doing it, we could just join them. I mean, they're already gonna be miserable on that day. We could all not eat together but do it for the republic. Atone and begin again.
And on his September 23 radio show, Beck still refused to let it go.
This man has no shame. Absolutely none.
It's hard to imagine how he could top comparing his news organization to the victims of the Holocaust and trying to co-opt Judaism's most sacred holy day and turn it into a partisan protest, but knowing Beck, he will.
In the meantime, he will continue to say what he wants about the tenets of national socialism -- at least it's an ethos.
Beck's only motivation appears to be himself.
This is incredibly stupid, which gives it a pretty good chance of catching on with the conservative media and blogosphere.
Fox Nation is currently featuring this on its home page:
Everyone hates the DMV, and people will be livid that they have to go there for health insurance. Here's Terry Jeffrey at the headlined CNSNews.com article with the stunning revelation:
Page 19 of the committee's "plain English" text says: "The Secretary and/or states would do the following: ... Enable customers to enroll in health care plans in local hospitals, schools, Departments of Motor Vehicles, local Social Security offices, and other offices designated by the state."
Sound the alarm! The bill will actually "enable customers to enroll in health care plans" at a wide variety of places, including the DMV. Oh, wait, that doesn't sound controversial at all. Can you enroll in health insurance at the DMV under the Baucus bill? Apparently. Will you, as the headline suggests? That seems to be up to you. The headline also absurdly suggests that the DMV may suddenly function as a treatment center if the Baucus bill passes. No, the DMV won't suddenly be performing surgeries on the hoods of cars; they'll simply be providing people with the forms necessary to enroll in health care plans (as they do with voter registrations)
Jeffrey continues with his blockbuster find:
This is the bill's most revelatory passage because it sublimely symbolizes the bill's true aim: a government takeover of the health care system.
Cue scary music. Apparently this passage "sublimely symbolizes the bill's true aim," but I think Jeffrey and Fox Nation have inadvertently "sublimely symbolized" the true aim of the bill's opponents: trying, desperately, (per Frank Luntz's lead) to recast the bill as a "government takeover," despite all the evidence to the contrary. Sometimes I marvel at the right's straw-grasping abilities. To recap, according to CNSNews.com and Fox Nation, a clause enabling people to enroll in health care plans at their DMV (in addition to local schools, hospitals, Social Security offices, and other designated offices) somehow becomes: You Will Get Your Health Insurance At The DMV - Literally. How bereft of substantive health care criticism does the conservative media have to be for this "revelatory passage" to be worthy of prominent placement on Fox Nation?
Maybe I'm misreading Jeffrey's post, and this is just some biting satire about the lengths health care reform opponents will go to fearmonger and foster confusion about various proposals. Jeffrey:
This is no joke.
A potential ownership group that is attempting to purchase the St. Louis Rams has dropped radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh as an investor.
The group includes Dave Checketts, the chairman of hockey's St. Louis Blues, and announced the decision to drop Limbaugh on Wednesday.
"Rush was to be a limited partner--as such, he would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations," Checketts said in a written statement. "This was a role he enthusiastically embraced.
"However, it has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions; endangering our bid to keep the team in St. Louis. As such, we have decided to move forward without him and hope it will eventually lead us to a successful conclusion."