The conservative media seem to be having some difficulty figuring out what to make of Sen. Ben Nelson's support for health care reform.
Here's Fox's take:
Nelson Accused of Selling Vote on Health Bill for Nebraska Pay-Off
What started as Sen. Ben Nelson's personal stand against covering abortion with taxpayer money translated, somehow, into millions of dollars in federal aid for his home state.
Critics were calling it the "cornhusker kickback" and the "Nebraska windfall," lobbing accusations of political deal-making at Nelson.
And the Weekly Standard:
Ben Nelson, Cheap Date (Cont.)
According to the CBO, Nelson got $100 million for Nebraska in Medicaid funding--20 percent of what Massachusetts got
Maybe they should huddle up and decide whether they want to attack Nelson for selling his vote for a massive windfall, or for being a "cheap date" who got far less than Massachusetts. We'll wait.
Just add this to the laundry list of purposeful lies Breitbart's site publishes under the name of "conservative journalism," which is quickly becoming my favorite oxymoron.
From Big Government:
Obama's approval rating is at the lowest ever for a President in office for one year.
False. As previously noted, Obama's approval ratings is virtually identical to Ronald Reagan at the end of his first year in office. That's right, Obama's performance mirrors that of GOP idol, Reagan. But the folks at Big Government are either too ignorant or too dishonest to note the facts, so they spin their own fiction, as usual.
And these are the same people who are going to launch a site next year to criticize the press; to fact-check the media? Oh, that's going to fun to watch. Breitbart, whose site has absolutely not correction policy and makes zero attempt to be factually accurate, is going to lecture professional reporters about all their supposed mistakes. (Hmmm, Newsbusters Lite?) Yeah, I'm sure journalists will take that effort very, very seriously.
UPDATED: Aside from the part where Big Government simply invented facts about "Barack Hussein Obama's" polling data, this was the other favorite part of the post [emphasis added]:
Now, that we have had him as President for one year, nothing has changed and the hope is dimming by the minute. His first year in office has been notable for basically one thing: he has accomplished nothing.
This kind of right-wing media logic brings a smile to my face every time I read it. I love it when deep-thinking writers, like the amateurs collected at Big Government, announce that the problem with Obama is that he hasn't done anything. I love it because that line of thinking begs the obvious question: if Obama hasn't accomplished anything than why has the right-wing movement been in meltdown mode since Inauguration Day? If Obama hasn't done anything, why do hysterical sites like Big Government, devoted to cataloging Obama's supposed crimes against humanity, even exist? If Obama hasn't done anything, than why don't conservatives just calm down and start acting like sane people again?
`Wingers can't have it both ways. They can't spend all of 2009 warning about how Obama's destroying our American way of life (on purpose!), and then announce that the real problem with Obama is that, y'know, he hasn't done anything.
Visitors to Fox News' web page today encountered this fair and balanced headline:
What? CBO says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits. Why does Fox News headline the opposite?
Because the CBO now says the Senate health care bill will reduce deficits by slightly less than it had previously estimated. That, once Fox News runs it through their patented Lie-O-Mator 3000, turns into "CBO: Senate Health Bill Won't Reduce Deficits."
UPDATE: Or, um ... this.
You might think that asking Sen. John McCain, who has long cultivated his reputation for bipartisanship, when he'll actually work with President Obama would be one of the less controversial things a reporter could do. But to the Right's premiere media-criticism outfit, it's a sign of bias:
Here's the question from Stephanopoulos' that upset Shepherd so much:
Let's talk about bipartisanship a little, because, just about a year ago that you and President Obama, then-President-elect Obama met in Chicago and made this pledge to work together in this first year of his presidency. Yet on issue after issue after issue, you have all been at odds. I know that you think that President Obama bears the majority of the blame for that, but is there anything more you could have done? And can you name an issue next year where you're going to be joined at the hip with President Obama?"
If anything, Stephanopoulos was overly kind to McCain, stipulating to McCain's claim that Obama "bears the majority of the blame" for the lack of bipartisanship. In any case, this is what the Right means when they complain about "liberal bias": asking a Republican who has spent years portraying himself as the paragon of bipartisanship to name an issue on which he'll work with the Democratic president.
The most recent results from a WorldNetDaily reader poll asking, "What would you like to give Obama for Christmas?"
In his weekend defense of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Post's Dana Milbank seemed to go out of his way to not explain why so many Democrats were angry, or "felt betrayed" by the Connecticut senator for his last-minute announcement last week that he would not vote for the proposed health care reform legislation unless key changes were made. (They eventually were.)
Milbank cheered the fact that the "iconoclastic" Lieberman had again angered his former Democratic colleagues as well as their supporters, and Milbank claimed it was Lieberman's critics who were in the wrong. i.e. Joe was just being Joe. It was the liberals who'd changed. It was liberals who were trying to enforce a litmus test on Lieberman.
But note the only passage where Milbank even tries to explain, or put into context, why emotions ran so high last week when Lieberman so publicly, and suddenly, balked at the health care bill [emphasis added]:
And his explanations of why he is undermining the Democrats' health-care legislation aren't exactly cogent.
How were Lieberman's explanations not cogent? Milbank never says. What did Lieberman do to undermine the Democrats' legislation last week? Milbank remains mum, but spends lots of time blaming liberals for over-reacting to Lieberman's maneuvers.
The truth is that Lieberman last week suddenly balked at the inclusion of a Medicare expansion program known as Medicate buy-in, which would allow people under the age of 65 to purchase Medicare coverage. Lieberman promoted the idea when he was VP candidate in 2000. He promoted the idea as a 2006 candidate for senator. And he promoted the idea three months ago. (See below.)
Then last week Lieberman announced he wouldn't vote for health care reform unless the Medicare buy-in was removed. That's why Democrats and liberals were livid. But Milbank, like so many in the press, made sure to leave all that information out.
UPDATED: This Milbank passage is also wildly misleading:
Lieberman probably is still angry about being beaten by Connecticut businessman Ned Lamont and forced to run as an independent while his Democratic colleagues -- including Barack Obama -- campaigned for his opponent.
The truth is Obama supported Lieberman in his primary battle against liberal candidate Lamont, and Obama caught holy hell from liberal bloggers for doing so in 2006. The only time Obama "campaigned" for Lieberman's opponent was after Lieberman lost in the primary and then faced Lamont in the Connecticut general election, and after Lieberman quit the Democratic Party to run as an Independent.
Why any of Lieberman's former Democratic colleagues would have supported him in 2006 after he quit the Democratic Party, Milbank never really explains.
On Friday, the Washington Post finally ran an op-ed in response to former half-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin's recent falsehood-filled global warming column.
In defending the paper's decision to run Palin's op-ed, Post editor Op-Ed editor Autumn Brewington told Editor & Publisher that the Post had received an offer from a professor who wanted to write a response to Palin. But Brewington seemed to be dismissive of the offer: "It is always interesting to see who reaches out to us."
Brewington didn't name the professor, so we can't be sure if she was referring to Michael Mann. In any case, the Post didn't run Mann's column until after running a response from Sarah Palin to Post columnist Eugene Robinson's criticism of her.
I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the Post runs a response from Palin to Mann, and then, eventually, simply starts running daily transcripts of everything Palin said the day before.
On today's Reliable Sources, Ceci Connolly demonstrated the fundamentally warped way the Beltway media approaches policy debates:
CONNOLLY: It's interesting though because, on substance, most smart people in Washington knew the United States Senate was never going to vote for a public option. So, for the liberals to suddenly say, gosh, Joe Lieberman killed it at the last minute, just not true.
This doesn't make much sense. First of all, Connolly is saying people shouldn't blame Lieberman for killing the public option because the public option was always going to be killed. That's pretty mind-blowing in its circularity. She's essentially saying "Joe Lieberman was never going to support the public option, so you shouldn't blame Joe Lieberman for not supporting the public option."
But there's a deeper problem here, and it's contained in Connolly's assertion that "most smart people in Washington knew the United States Senate was never going to vote for a public option."
This is a particularly irritating example of the "smart people say" tic that has become so common among political reporters in recent years. At its most harmless, it's pointless source-stroking. At worst, its an insidious means of restricting debate and shutting off any challenge to conventional wisdom.
See, when a beltway reporter like Ceci Connolly attribute a sentiment to "smart people in Washington," what that means is "me and the people I agree with." (Which, in turn, often means "me and the people I associate with.") After all, how often do you see someone use the "smart people say" construct to introduce an idea they disagree with? So the way you get described as "smart" by the punditocracy is to say things the punditocracy agrees with, leading to a homogenization of the public discourse.
Take Connolly's example: "smart people in Washington" always "knew" the public option wouldn't pass, so journalists covered it accordingly. Then -- surprise! -- the public option was stripped out. And "smart" Washington journalist Ceci Connolly says "We knew it all along" -- never pausing to consider that, had her reporting on the health care debate not been so lousy, this might not have happened.
Mightn't things have gone differently if health care reporting had made clear that the public option reduced the deficit? If every time a politician -- say, Joe Lieberman -- was quoted suggesting it was too expensive, the media made clear he wasn't telling the truth? Just to pick one example? Oh, but why would they bother doing that -- they and all the "smart people" they talked to just knew the public option wouldn't pass.
The reality is that "smart people in Washington" are wrong all the time. And when they turn out to be right, it's often simply because they all behave as though they're right and, to borrow a phrase made famous by a Bush aide in another context, "create their own reality." Just take a look at this post by my colleague Brian Frederick, in which several "smart" journalists who have been around Congress for decades demonstrate that they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about when they pontificate about Senate procedure.
When you see a journalist like Ceci Connolly invoke the certitude of "smart people" rather than facts and logic and reason, just stop listening. Immediately.
UPDATE: From a new Jay Rosen post about what he calls the "Church of the Savvy" that has come to define political journalism:
The savvy do know how things work inside the game of politics, and it is this knowledge they try to wield in argument.... instead of argument.
Now in order for this belief system to operate effectively, it has to continually position the journalist and his or her observations not as right where others are wrong, or virtuous where others are corrupt, or visionary where others are short-sghted, but as practical, hardheaded, unsentimental, and shrewd where others are didactic, ideological, and dreamy. This is part of what's so insidious about press savviness: it tries to hog realism to itself.
From a December 20 post by Gateway Pundit titled, "DC cop brings gun to snowball fight (video)":
Barack Obama gave his marching orders this year:
Obama: "They Bring a Knife...We Bring a Gun"
Obama to His Followers: "Get in Their Faces!"
Obama on ACORN Mobs: "I don't want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I'm angry!"
Obama To His Mercenary Army: "Hit Back Twice As Hard"
It looks like some people took him seriously.
A DC cop pulled a gun at a snowball fight in Washington DC yesterday.