The Washington Independent's David Weigel catches Politico's Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen calling Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray "a centrist Republican." Weigel explains:
Bilbray was a member of the class of 1994 who lost his old House seat in 2000, then stayed in Washington as a lobbyist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates "a temporary moratorium on all immigration except spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and a limited number of refugees." Bilbray returned to Congress in a 2006 special election, which he won in part by accusing his Democratic opponent of soliciting votes from illegal aliens. Since then, Bilbray has maintained a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union, which makes him an "ACU Conservative" in their ranking system. He voted against increasing the minimum wage, voted to repeal the Washington, D.C. gun ban, voted against a ban on anti-gay job discrimination, and voted against expanding SCHIP.
Voting against a minimum wage increase, expanding health insurance for kids, and against banning workplace discrimination puts Bilbray far out of the mainstream of the American people. And in the last Congress, Bilbray's voting record put him far to the right of most of his colleagues, too -- he was the 79th most conservative member of the House of Representatives, out of a total of 435. That means Bilbray's voting record was more conservative than more than 80 percent of all members of Congress.
To Politico, that makes him a "centrist." Just like MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell thinks Diane Feinstein is one of the "most liberal" Senators. And Time's Jay Newton-Small thinks Lindsey Graham is a "moderate."
It's almost as though the media has no idea where the "center" really is.
Las Vegas TV anchor Nina Radetich got caught red handed offering the PR services of her husband to a local auto repair chain that her station, KTNV, was doing an investigative report on. So far, Radetich hasn't been fired. But then again, isn't that just emulating what we see time and time in the national media?
Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz pretends as if his employer, CNN, doesn't broadcast birther-proponent Lou Dobbs every night. And NBC/MSNBC regularly features analyst Gen. Barry McCaffrey without disclosing his DynCorp ties.
The national media - with an audience in the millions - regularly plays fast and loose with the ethics of journalism. What incentive is there for a local anchor to do the right thing?
The punchline: This is supposed to be a site that critiques the media. But what does NewsBusters do instead? It makes stuff up.
The idiocy honors go to Tom Blumer, who states as fact that Saturday's D.C. anti-Obama rally "drew an estimated 1-2 million people." Where did that (bogus) number come from? Blumer won't say. He never provides a link and never quotes a single law enforcement source to back up that claim. Of course, Blumer can't do that because the "1-2 million people" number is a flat-out lie. It's pure right-wing fantasy.
But that does not stop Blumer from delving into all kinds of (Wikipedia!) research to explain just where Saturday's rally stands in terms of the largest D.C. events while. Blumer does this, of course, while using concocted numbers to size-up the modest crowd.
Behold the NewsBusters wonder:
If even the low end of the D.C. rally estimate holds, it would be the largest-ever gathering in Washington not related to a presidential inauguration -- larger than the misnamed Million Man March (October 16, 1995; while others claimed almost a million were there, the National Park Service estimated 400,000), larger than Moratorium Day (November 15, 1969; Wikipedia says it had 500,000; other sources report lower numbers), and larger than the day of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech (August 28, 1963; 250,000).
If the high end of the estimate holds, it would be the largest gathering of any kind in Washington, exceeding the 1.8 million claimed to have attended Barack Obama's presidential inauguration.
Again, keep in mind the "1-2 million people" is pure fiction. It's a nifty-sounding number dreamt up by right-wingers. It has no basis in reality. But that doesn't stop NewsBusters from using bogus numbers to critique the "liberal media."
Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon, defending the paper's front-page coverage of Saturday's right-wing rally in Washington, DC:
We covered extensively the huge crowds Obama drew at events last year, where I assumed everyone was voting for him and we also covered anti-war protests back in 2002, where I'm guessing there were few Bush voters. The rally was important in that it was the one of the bigger shows of this anti-Obama movement that seems, interestingly, to be in some ways outside of the official Republican Party.
As Eric noted yesterday, The Post put Saturday's roughly 30,000-person rally on the front page. In 2002, the Post buried a 100,000-person anti-war rally in the Metro section.
The inconsistency in coverage is bad enough. But it borders on the offensive to see a Post reporter justify the paper's front-page coverage of last weekend's gathering of conservatives by pointing to their coverage of anti-war rallies.
From Howard Kurtz's online discussion today:
Bellingham WA: Howard-
How does the media define "many"? Last week the coverage was"'many' school districts did not show Obama's speech to students" and/or "'many' parents kept their kids away from Obama's speech". When did a relatively few school districts, mostly in the South become "many"? When did a few, mostly southern, mostly white parents become "many"? Why was no mention made of the thousands of districts and millions of parents who looked forward to the speech and willingly allowed their children to see it? Thanks
Howard Kurtz: "Many" is a great journalistic dodge, second only to "some." But it is hard if not impossible to quantify something that involves, say, thousands of school districts, or, potentially, millions of parents.
Notice how Kurtz justifies the media coverage by saying the protests involved "potentially millions of parents" -- and does so while talking about "journalistic dodges." That, of course, is precisely the role "potentially" pays in Kurtz's response.
So, what of it, Mr. Kurtz? Did millions of children stay home from school? Or just potentially millions?
Adam Brandon, spokesman for Freedom Works Foundation, one of the main sponsors of the event, estimated the crowd at 150,000. But on Sunday, the group's Web site estimated that hundreds of thousands of people turned out.
In fact, the closest thing to an official estimate comes from the Washington, D.C., fire department, which reported a turnout of 60,000 to 70,000. But Lucas didn't report that -- or the fact that FreedomWorks already has a record of making false assertions about turnout numbers. ABC traced a claim that it had reported that more than 1 million attended the rally -- ABC reported no such thing -- to FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe.
Lucas later uncritically noted that "High Caliber, a conservative rapper," said, "I've done tea parties for 500 people. But not 500,000 or whatever it is we've got here." Because rap artists, unlike those big government fire departments, are accurate estimators of crowds, apparently.
The public's assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans' views of media bias and independence now match previous lows.
Republicans continue to be highly critical of the news media in nearly all respects. However, much of the growth in negative attitudes toward the news media over the last two years is driven by increasingly unfavorable evaluations by Democrats. On several measures, Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Today, most Democrats (59%) say that the reports of news organizations are often inaccurate; just 43% said this two years ago. Democrats are also now more likely than they were in 2007 to identify favoritism in the media: Two-thirds (67%) say the press tends to favor one side rather than to treat all sides fairly, up from 54%. And while just a third of Democrats (33%) say news organizations are "too critical of America," that reflects a 10-point increase since 2007.
The partisan gaps in several of these opinions, which had widened considerably over the past decade, have narrowed.
So, how that bending-over-backwards-to-appease-Republicans thing working out?
Who could have imagined that a decade-long assault on the Clintons and Al Gore, including all but handing an election to George W. Bush, unabashed cheerleading for Bush's rush to war in a country that didn't attack us, and a general refusal to call right-wing lies "lies" would eventually result in the media losing credibility among Democrats?
Anyway, I'm sure hiring a few more former Bush administration officials will finally win over Republicans without further alienating Democrats. Right?
National Journal's Stuart Taylor (whose legal analysis is, quite inexplicably, taken very seriously by the Beltway media) acknowledges that the Bush administration tortured detainees, but argues that those responsible have already "suffered" enough for their misdeeds. See, they've been called names, and their public appearances have been picketed:
Of course, when all is said and done, there is little doubt that some CIA detainees were tortured. This is a stain on our nation's honor that should never be repeated. But the responsibility was so widely diffused, across such a large number of honorably motivated officials who tried (and sometimes failed) to stay within the law, that it makes no sense to seek to atone for the nation's sins by singling out individuals for bar discipline or other punishment.
This is especially true when those individuals have already suffered greatly from being trashed as "war criminals," picketed at public appearances, stalked by grandstanding Spanish judges, and otherwise harassed across the country and around the globe.
Sure, John Yoo said it was fine with him if George W. Bush wanted to order interrogators to crush a child's testicles. But the man has been picketed! What more must he endure? Leave him alone!
Oh, and Taylor worries that a torture "truth commission" might become "adversarial":
The sort of fact-finding "truth commission" that many have advocated could report on what was done and the lessons learned -- although it could do more harm than good if such a panel conducted the sort of adversarial hearings that would become a public circus.
Yeah, we wouldn't want anyone to raise their voice to a guy who said it is OK to crush a child's testicles. That would be ... Rude. Or something.
Once again: Who cares what Stuart Taylor thinks?
It's the gift that keeps on giving.
The latest guffaws come courtesy of Gateway Pundit, which was last seen spreading the lie that 12,000 people showed up at a Quincy, Ill., tea party on Saturday. (The Quincy cops said the actual figure was 2,000.) Now, Gateway Pundit is still clinging to the thoroughly debunked 2 million mark for the D.C. protest and claiming conservative protesters left D.C. neat and tidy, as compared to the "filthy" 2 million liberals who stormed D.C. for Obama's inauguration and left the city a mess.
Gateway Pundit even has photos to prove it.
Of course the comedy comes from the fact that, according to official D.C. estimate, there were approximately 60,-70,000 anti-Obama protesters in town Saturday, compared to the approximate 2 million who actually did gather on Inauguration Day. Now, which crowd do you think would leave behind more litter, the one that's 70,000 strong, or the one that had 1,930,000 more people?
We'll let Gateway Pundit ponder that one for a while.