To date, the answer continues to be "no."
The Beltway press still refuses to raise questions about Palin's decision to attend the first annual Tea Party convention in Nashville next month and share the stage with a fringe radical like Joseph Farah, who is an avowed gay and Muslim-hating extremist, and whose wingnut publication, WND, remains obsessed with the loony, and thoroughly debunked, conspiracy claim that Obama was not born in America.
Naturally, Farah and WND are thrilled by the upcoming Palin appearance and are trumpeting the "Palin-Farah ticket." And typically when high-profile politicians align themselves with fringe radicals, media unpleasantness ensures. But so far, it's crickets from the press.
Just look at this lengthy Politico article headlined, "Palin's tea party raises eyebrows." It completely ignores the thorny question of Palin teaming up with a loon like Farah. For Politico, that issue's a non-starter. But trust me, if a very high-profile Democrat ever agreed to share a platform with the left-wing radical equivalent of Farah (if that person even existed), all hell would break loose in the press.
Another week, another WSJ column from Noonan harping on how unpopular Obama is. This, of course, from a women who worked as a Ronald Reagan's speechwriter and who knows fully well how in his second year in office Reagan bottomed out with a dismal 35% approval rating. But Noonan now plays wistfully dumb about the past and pretends that Obama's 50-ish approval ratings is cause for grave concern. It's deeply troubling.
Worse, this week Noonan just makes stuff up [emphasis added]:
A president in those circumstances must use all the goodwill he's built up over the months and years to get through that moment and survive doing what he thinks is right. Mr. Obama acts as if he doesn't know this. He hasn't built up popularity to use on a rainy day. If he had, he'd be getting through the Christmas plot drama better than he is.
That's part of an extended Noonan riff on Obama's popularity, so I'm assuming that Noonan's suggesting Obama's took a hit in the polls after the attempted terror attack from Christmas Day. That's what the "better than he is" means.
Well guess what? According to Gallup, Obama's job approval rating hasn't budged since Christmas Day. Which means that despite all the GOP Noise Machine caterwauling and its unprecedented attempted to immediately score political points off an attempted terror attack, the American public don't seem to be buying the blame game.
The truth is, despite the constant media chatter about Obama's supposedly falling approval numbers, according to Gallup's daily tracking poll, the president's rating has remained essentially unchanged since mid-August. Meaning, there has been no huge downward movement in the polls in recent weeks or months. But boy, the press sure loves to push that imaginary claim.
UPDATED: I chuckled when i read this Noonan passage:
If you mention to Obama staffers that they really have to be concerned about the polls, they look at you with a certain . . . not disdain but patience, as if you don't understand the purpose of politics. That purpose, they believe, is to move the governed toward greater justice.
Raise your hand if you think Noonan made this up. Meaning, raise your hand if you don't believe that Noonan, a professional partisan and dependable dispenser of GOP talking points, spends any time talking to "Obama staffers."
Yeah, me neither.
In a January 8 Politico article, Kenneth Vogel writes:
No one has been less forgiving than Glenn Beck when it comes to Democrats with tax problems. Not just the well-known ones like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, but less serious ones such as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, whose husband only recently paid off $6,400 in tax liens on his auto repair business, and Nancy Killefer, who withdrew her nomination to be White House chief performance officer, citing a $946.69 tax lien on her Washington home.
Their tax issues are just one indicator of "a culture of corruption among some of the left," Beck declared just last month in a segment on his hugely popular Fox News television show, in which he branded Geithner, Killefer, Solis and a handful of other Obama nominees "tax cheats," whom he wouldn't trust "with my children, let alone my children's future."
Mocking the excuses offered by the nominees, Beck sarcastically intoned "Oh, the tax thing, it was an accident. It was my husband's fault. I didn't do it, he did it. I didn't mean to do it. I was just working hard for the people."
So what to make, then, of the fact that Beck has had his own minor tax problems over the past few years?
Vogel goes on to write that Beck's production company, Mercury Radio Arts, "has at times struggled to keep up with the heightened tax and filing demands accompanying his success."
In October 2007, New York City issued a tax warrant against Mercury Radio Arts, indicating that the company had been penalized $10,927.49 for overdue 2006 general corporation taxes, and still owed $7,111.03, according to documents obtained by POLITICO.
The source with knowledge of the situation explained the issue "arose during the process of the company's transition from Philadelphia to New York" in 2006 - after Beck began hosting a daily news and commentary television show on CNN's Headline News - and was "immediately addressed." Two weeks after the warrant was issued, New York City released it, indicating in a filing obtained by POLITICO that the debt was satisfied.
The source said Mercury's relocation also resulted in confusion over the company's unemployment insurance, culminating in the New York State Workers Compensation Board in July 2007 issuing a judgment obtained by POLITICO assessing an $8,250 fine against Mercury for failure to carry workers' compensation insurance from March 31, 2006 through February 25, 2007.
But, less than three months later, the board issued a notice indicating that the "judgment has been fully satisfied." And board spokesman Brian Keegan explained that the board rescinded the penalty after determining that Mercury had carried the appropriate insurance since it began doing business in New York in 2005 and that Mercury's insurance carrier had merely failed to submit proof of coverage to the board.
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 January 8 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Politico's front page:
UPDATE: The Politico article describes how both Democrats and Republicans are approaching potential Congressional hearings about the Christmas day attempt to bring down a plane. But Politico described only the Democrats as "plot[ting]"; no such loaded phrasing was attached to the GOP.
WorldNetDaily has not taken Glenn Beck's mocking of birthers well -- birtherism, after all, has been WND's raison d'etre for a good year and a half.
WND's first response was a "news" article that aimed to set him straight on what birthers believe (with an accompanying opt-in poll headlined "Arguing With Idiot"), insisting that birthers "reflect a far greater diversity of opinion than is assumed by Beck's characterization." This was followed by an article by Jerome Corsi insisting that, contrary to Beck's idea that birthers believe "a wild conspiracy in which Obama's parents, knowing he would someday be president, 'preemptively' collaborated with two separate newspapers to publish phony announcements stating he was born in Hawaii," the real truth is that "the birth announcements offer no proof of citizenship, because they might reflect nothing more than information a family filed with the Hawaii Department of Health to obtain a state Certification of Live Birth for a baby born outside Hawaii."
Note the word "might" in there. That's a major clue that WND's birther conspiracy hinges on what might be the truth -- that shadowy area where conspiracy theorists like Corsi do their work -- not what actually is the truth.
Corsi also repeats the claim that "even the Hawaii state government refused to accept a short-form COLB [certification of live birth] as proof of a Hawaiian birth required for eligibility in state programs," citing as an example the state's Home Lands program. But given that the Home Lands program is open only to people of "native Hawaiian" ancestry -- something Obama has never claimed to be -- the question of whether Obama's COLB is sufficient proof for it is irrelevant.
WND then brought in the heavy artillery -- Alan Keyes.
In his January 8 column (yes, he's a regular WND columnist), Keyes questioned Beck's constitutional bona fides, claiming that "he apparently fails to appreciate the real issue raised by the controversy over Barack Obama's constitutional eligibility for the presidency" and that he "simply parrots the mad-stream media's malicious caricature of the eligibility issue." Keyes also claims that Beck's words "carry overtones of the notion that the Constitution is a 'living document,' to be shaped and reshaped in light of the trendy preoccupations and priorities of the moment." (Actually, the opposite is true -- Beck has touted a book claiming that the "living Constitution" idea "is so alien to the constitutionalism of the American Founders.")
All this is targeted, by the way, at someone who just a week earlier received honorable mention in WND's "person of the year" competition.
While we're as entertained by intramural battles over conspiracy theories as much as the next person, it's important to note that Beck has previously had no problem embracing claims propagated by WND.
Chief among them is the conspiracy theory that Obama wants to create a "civilian national security force" that would serve as a personal army -- a WND favorite. There's also the false claim that Anita Dunn asserted she controlled the media while communications chief for Obama's presidential campaign, as well as the witch hunt against Van Jones (WND has touted how Beck "picked up WND's reporting" on Jones).
Just because Beck is trying to distance himself from the birthers doesn't mean he's keeping the crazies at WND at arm's length. As soon as one or the other forwards a new smear that fits their mutual goal of taking down the Obama administration, it will be dutifully echoed, and they will be BFFs once again.
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From a January 8 PolitiFact.com post:
Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and a candidate for president in 2008, appeared on Good Morning America on Jan. 8, 2010, to offer his assessment of the Obama administration's counterterrorist operations. He criticized plans to try suspected Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in a Michigan criminal court and questioned Obama's decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Giuliani said U.S. intelligence agencies stand to lose potentially critical information on other al-Qaida operatives and operations if the man at the center of the Northwest flight terror incident is tried in U.S. court. "What he (Obama) should be doing is following the right things that Bush did -- one of the right things he did was treat this as a war on terror. We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama," Giuliani said. "Number two, he should correct the things that Bush didn't do right. Sending people to Yemen was wrong, not getting this whole intelligence thing corrected was both Bush's responsibility and Obama's."
Giuliani, the mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, claims there were no domestic attacks under the Bush administration. That's obviously a preposterous statement that would warrant a Pants on Fire rating. We can't help but remember now-Vice President Joe Biden's line during his presidential campaign, "Rudy Giuliani -- there's only three things he mentions in a sentence. A noun and a verb and 9/11."
Unfortunately, interviewer George Stephanopoulos never sought clarification on Giuliani's statement. After the interview, Stephanopoulos updated his blog to say Giuliani was wrong to say there were no domestic attacks under Bush.
Media Matters For America, a liberal group that analyzes the news media, documented other examples of U.S. terrorism:
2002 attack against El Al ticket counter at LAX. Hesham Mohamed Hadayet opened fire at an El Al Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport, killing two people and wounding four others before being shot dead. Media Matters found a 2004 Justice Department report that Hadayet's case had been "officially designated as an act of international terrorism."
Campus attack at UNC. In March 2006, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate drove an SUV onto campus, striking nine pedestrians. Reza Taheri-azar reportedly stated in a letter: "I was aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of my role models, Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11/01 hijackers, who obtained a doctorate degree."
WorldNetDaily's latest attempt to attack Kevin Jennings is a January 8 article by Bob Unruh -- as per usual, following the lead of anti-gay group MassResistance, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group -- writing that Jennings "is president of the board of the Tectonic Theater Project, which created 'The Laramie Project,' a play about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming homosexual Matthew Shepard that condemns traditional biblical views on homosexuality as hateful and bigoted."
Unruh described Shepard as "the 21-year-old man who, according to a 2004 ABC News '20/20' report, actually was killed by drug-using thugs intent on robbery -- a fact ignored by the production." But it's not a fact -- it's right-wing revisionism. As we've detailed, one of Shepard's killers mounted a gay-panic defense at his trial, and the 20/20 report ignored the killer's in-custody interview, during which he offered what the Matthew Shepard Foundation calls "an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence."
Unruh uncritically repeats whatever MassResistance asserts about The Laramie Project as fact without any apparent attempt to verify them or obtain any response to the attacks. Among them:
Unruh stated that, in repeating MassResistance's attack on a high school's production of The Laramie Project, "Mass Resistance also noted the graphic language of the play for high schoolers to recite." Apparently high school students had never used graphic language until The Laramie Project came along.
In contrast to the hyperbolic MassResistance attack that Unruh swallows whole, The New York Times noted of The Laramie Project upon its New York premiere that "Even the evening's less sympathetic characters, including the Kansas preacher who showed up at Mr. Shepard's funeral as an anti-gay protester, are served up with respectful caution," adding that "There is an overriding sense that the characters -- who range from ranchers to university professors, from a lesbian waitress to a Baptist minister -- are cut from the same cloth of perplexed decency, embellished with the occasional signpost of an eccentricity." The Times also stated that the play has become "a catalyst for communities to discuss something of urgent importance: in this case, hate crimes, homophobia and the treatment of difference in American society," and that "it serves as a model for a way of speaking tough truths and listening respectfully."
Listening respectfully? That's a message WorldNetDaily and MassResistance don't seem interested in hearing.
From a January 8 post to George Stephanopoulos' ABCNews.com blog:
The Mayor's spokesman says that the remark "didn't come across as it was intended" and that Giuliani was "clearly talking post-9/11 with regards to Islamic terrorist attacks on our soil."
Whatever the Mayor meant, it's not what he said. All of you who have pointed out that I should have pressed him on that misstatement in the moment are right. My mistake, my responsibility.