As I note in my column this week, both Andrew Breitbart and James O'Keefe (with some help from Fox News, of course) did their best last year to mislead the public and the press into believing that as part of his ACORN sting, O'Keefe wore his outlandish pimp costume right into the offices, and that clueless ACORN workers didn't blink an eye.
But it's not true. Based on all available evidence, O'Keefe never wore his pimp costume inside ACORN offices. (Raise your hand if you got duped.)
Turns out last night Breitbart, doing lots of yellling and name-calling (surprise!), appeared on a conservative radio show with blogger Brad Friedman who pressed him on the myth of the ACORN pimp. At first, Breirtbart denied any wrong doing:
I didn't lie about James O'Keefe. When did I lie about James O'Keefe?
When Friedman then read out loud from an erroneous Washington Times column by Breitbart in which he claimed O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving advice from ACORN workers, the furious (and confused) spin began.
Go here to listen. (The fun begins at the 36 minute mark.)
UPDATED: Breitbart insisted last night he had nothing to correct in his Times column, even though he falsely reported O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" while receiving ACORN advice.
Nearly a week after an ABC/Washington Post poll found that an overwhelming 71 percent of Americans think Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm has finally come up with a way to spin that finding as a positive. Malcolm, formerly a Bush press secretary, has an odd obsession with Palin that frequently leads him to twist and distort her poll numbers in what we can only assume is an attempt to assemble a clip file for his inevitable interview for a position on Palin's staff. But this time, Malcolm has outdone himself.
Check out Malcolm's lede:
A recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll found that 30 months out from the 2012 party presidential nominations, only 71% of Americans believe that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be president.
This compares with someone named Barack Obama. At the same point in his then unannounced campaign, 0% thought he was qualified for the Oval Office. That's because he wasn't even on the polling lists' radar then.
I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that "only 71%" was meant to be taken as sarcasm. But arguing that it's a good thing that after near-constant exposure to Sarah Palin for a year and a half, nearly three-quarters of Americans have concluded that she is not qualified to be president? That's Baghdad Bob-level spin -- just as audacious, and just as absurd.
Malcolm then moved on to writing about "how quickly the modern American presidential selection process and landscape is changing, making traditional patterns of political prediction as reliable as Prius brakes." But his "evidence" ... well, it doesn't make any sense:
For starters, the last three presidents all won the nation's top political office on their first try for the Oval Office, a break from usual U.S. political tradition when voters seemed to want candidates to serve years in another office or executive position to come to know their political personalities before entrusting them with their highest office.
Winning the presidency "on their first try for the Oval Office" is in no way a break from voters wanting "candidates to serve years in another office." Those two things simply aren't inconsistent. But the second part of Malcolm's sentence isn't merely inconsistent with the first, it is also wrong. Andrew Malcolm surely knows that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did, in fact, "serve years" in an "executive position" -- after all, he was press secretary for Bush's wife. So, basically, that paragraph is complete nonsense.
Next, Malcolm moves on to Sarah Palin's qualifications:
Palin also has other apparent qualifiers for the GOP 2012 race: she is not of Washington and doesn't currently hold an elective office, having resigned the Alaska governor's job last summer.
So now abruptly quitting the governorship halfway through her first term is a qualification? I guess Malcolm must be thinking of the lengthy track record of major parties nominating candidates for president who didn't hold elective office at the time of their selection. That's a list with exactly three names on it since 1960: Nixon, Reagan, Mondale -- two former vice presidents and former two-term governor of California who had already run for the presidential nomination once.
But here's where Malcolm's desperate spin veers into outright dishonesty:
While vocal Palin-haters reveled in her awful recent national poll numbers about presidential qualifications, they missed a fact: if she decides to run for anything, the first goal is to become the GOP nominee. And the voters Palin needs to convince about that are state-by-state Republicans, 69% of whom still see her favorably.
Malcolm didn't provide a link for that poll number, or even tell us what poll it came from. But the ABC/Washington Post poll Malcolm cited at the beginning of his post, and which he attempts to rebut by pointing to unspecified polls, has something interesting to say about Palin's standing among Republicans: "Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House."
Wow. Malcolm dismisses the ABC/Washington Post poll's findings that the overwhelming majority of Americans think Palin is not qualified to be president by arguing that she only needs to convince Republican voters, who he says view her favorably -- and all the while he ignores the ABC/WaPo poll finding that a majority of Republicans don't think Palin is qualified to be president.
This is simply not honest behavior.
It appears there's some division in the ranks of the right-wing media's "terrorism experts." This morning on Fox & Friends, Michael Scheuer explained that the recent capture of Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is no big deal, because "you win wars by killing people, not capturing them," and commented that currently, "we're not killing enough people" in Afghanistan, "we're simply apologizing."
(We're still waiting, by the way, for Scheuer to apologize for calling the Obama administration "pro-terrorist," asserting that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel wants terrorists to attack the United States, and, of course, saying that "[t]he only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States." We do not have high hopes.)
Scheuer's comments took us back a bit, because just last week, former Bush speechwriter, incoming Washington Post columnist, and torture advocate Marc Theissen took to Foreign Policy to offer the ludicrous charge that the problem is that the administration is killing too many terrorists. Apparently, Theissen thinks that "the Obama administration is no longer attempting to capture men like these alive; it is simply killing them," which is a dilemma because "[w]ith every drone strike that vaporizes a senior al Qaeda leader, actionable intelligence is vaporized along with him."
Of course, as Adam Serwer notes over at American Prospect's TAPPED blog, "The drone attacks are the 'actions' taken as a result of acquiring 'actionable intelligence.'"
A year into the Obama administration and the right-wing are arguing over whether Obama is killing too many terrorists, or too few. It's enough to make you wonder if there's anything they won't use to attack Obama.
Following Sen. Evan Bayh's surprise announcement of his intentions to retire, Fox News has wasted little time in attempting to influence the race. Yesterday, Fox & Friends hosted Tamyra D'Ippolito, a long shot Democratic candidate who was being promoted by right-wing bloggers who believed she would be an easily beatable candidate. D'Ippolito did not obtain enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for the Democratic primaries -- in fact, she didn't even come close -- despite the best efforts of Fox & Friends and the blogs to assist her in doing so.
Now that the race is wide open, Fox & Friends is already taking shots at Democrats who they think may end up choosing to run in Bayh's place. Today, Fox & Friends hosted two Indiana University journalism students who back in September 2009 were told that they could not videotape Rep. Baron Hill's town hall meeting, which they were attending. They claim Hill informed them that he had a policy of not allowing his town halls to be filmed because the films tended to end up being edited and exploited on YouTube. Judging by the town hall spectacles of last summer, it's easy to understand why Hill would hold such a position, unless, of course, you work at Fox (also, despite Hill's policy, Fox managed to find some video of the exchange between Hill and the student). Doocy repeatedly sniffed that most people probably wouldn't know about this story because the "mainstream media" didn't cover it. Doocy wasn't even subtle about his motivations for reporting on the story now: "[T]his got so little coverage from the mainstream media. We're bringing it up because it sounds like this guy is on the short list for Evan Bayh's seat."
So, imagine my lack of surprise when about an hour later, Fox hosted Dan Coats, the former Indiana senator who is likely to be on the Republican ticket for Bayh's old seat. Coats preemptively attacked whoever ends up being Democratic nominee because this candidate will be chosen by the Indiana Democratic Party, rather than the "people." Yesterday was the deadline for Democratic candidates to submit signatures to be added to the primary ballot. Given that Bayh announced his retirement on Monday, this didn't really afford prospective candidates much time to collect the neccessary signatures. No matter. Coats also attacked Obama for failing to deliver the hope and "change" that Indiana voted for and declared that "liberals" have steered this country on the "wrong track." Impressed, Doocy said to Coats: "Now, Dan, you have technically not officially declared yet. We have a camera, pointing right at ya. Anything you'd like to say?" Coats demurred from making a formal announcement, but all but announced his intentions to run anyway.
While interviewing Coats, Doocy did point out that there are "three other Republicans in addition to you" in the running for the Republican nomination. Any bets on how long it will take before they, too, get invited to appear on Fox & Friends?
It seems today, that all you see, is hypocritical half-term governors on Facebook and T.V. But where are those good old fashion values... On which she claims to rely?! Guess she's just a News Corp gadfly! Guess she's just a gal who, just can't live up to, all the things she should do, but please, don't you cry! She's just a News Corp gadfly!
Not long ago I wrote about Fox News contributor and half-term former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's politically motivated selective-victimhood, noting the hypocritical disconnect between her call for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's resignation over his use of the term "retarded" and her defense of radio host Rush Limbaugh's repeated use of the same word as "satire."
Well, she's at it again.
Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Family Guy crossed the line this weekend with an episode taking aim at Sarah Palin and her family, specifically on the subject of Down syndrome children. The Associated Press reports:
Sarah Palin is lashing out at the portrayal of a character with Down syndrome on the Fox animated comedy "Family Guy." In a Facebook posting headlined "Fox Hollywood - What a Disappointment," the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and current Fox News contributor said Sunday night's episode felt like "another kick in the gut." Palin's youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome.
The episode features the character Chris falling for a girl with Down syndrome. On a date, he asks what her parents do.
She replies: "My dad's an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska."
Palin resigned as Alaska governor last summer.
Palin's oldest daughter, Bristol, also was quoted on her mother's Facebook page, calling the show's writers "heartless jerks."
Palin and her family are right. The episode was "heartless," even cruel - just like much of the humor and satire found on other episodes of the highly rated Fox cartoon.
I don't for a minute believe radio host Rush Limbaugh was using "satire" when he said liberals who complained about health care reform "are retards." Nor do I think he was using "satire" when discussing flu prevention efforts he appeared to mock those concerned with the use of such language, saying, "[a]nything you can do to stop it or to arrest it or to retard -- sorry -- to 'Special Olympic' its duration, then it -- you should do it."
Ultimately, Palin has a choice. She can let Family Guy off the hook for its humor just like she did with Limbaugh or she can condemn them both. Failure to do either will only further expose her as a hypocritical political opportunist.
As someone whose mother has in the past volunteered countless hours with the Special Olympics in southern California, I can tell you that people with Down syndrome and their families could use more advocates with the star power and media pull of people like Palin. What they don't need are fair-weather friends who pull their punches and are more concerned about offending political allies who step over the same "kick in the gut" line than they are with being a consistent ally.
A Reality Check for Newsbusters
Weighing in on the Family Guy controversy, Newsbusters's Kyle Drennen has a post up taking MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan to task for observing, "If Palin really wanted to make a statement, she would reject her paycheck from Fox and remove herself from the network, wouldn't she?"
Drennen attempts to refute Ratigan's thought with this delusional claim:
Of course, Fox News has no connection to the Fox broadcast channel or any of its entertainment programming.
Well, yeah, he's right if you refuse to acknowledge Fox Broadcasting Co. and Fox News Channel are both owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Oh, he's also right if you conveniently forget that Palin gave her first free-pass to Limbaugh for his use of "satire" during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, which is heavily promoted each week by Fox News Channel and is broadcast by, drum roll please... Fox Broadcasting Co. And! And, his statement makes a lot of sense if you suspend intelligence and work for a media-hating website which regularly misleads its readers.
Over the weekend, Instapundit's Gleen Reynold unccorked the claim that over the past twelves months "millions of Americans" had taken to the streets to protest the Obama administration. The problem? Rather than millions, the actually number is probably in the low six-figures.
But mere facts have never stopped Glenn Beck, of course. So yesterday he endorsed the Reynolds fabrication and wallowed in the wonder of the "millions and millions of tea party people" who protested last year.
Punchline: Beck made the phony crowd claim while critiquing the New York Times' supposedly inaccurate Tea Party reporting!
UPDATED: Also last night on Fox News, Tea Party organizer Karin Hoffman eagerly spread more falsehoods about protests, claiming 1.7 million people showed up in D.C. last September. According to official crowd estimates by D.C. officials, that number misses the mark by 1.6 million.
Please note, the Tea Party movement is now building itself around an obvious, and provable, lie. Will the press ever point that out?
"Culture war" isn't a term we hear that often anymore because, well, the crucial center of American politics is sick and tired of the very idea of culture war.
But the concept (first coined by professor James Davison Hunter) still best explains where we are today in US politics -- where the vast center of America is stuck in a tug-of-war between two deeply competing visions of reality.
Cultural power, explains Hunter, is the power to "name reality." Culture is mostly created in urban centers and spread to the periphery. E.g.: Harvard Law School decides that gay marriage is a basic human right, which spreads through judges until it runs smack up into the one source of cultural power in America that isn't controlled by urban centers -- the American people.
We are by far the most democratic system on earth. A certain form of Euro-liberalism may capture the universities, reinforced by its dominant control over government money, influencing the media and Hollywood.
In Europe, the political leaders respond to this complex of cultural power mostly by submission to it -- it's easier. And then voters are deprived of choice. Where elite leaders cooperate to end the culture war by giving in, voters do not get to choose between competing visions.
But in America, leaders can spring up from nowhere, develop their own financial base, form a counter-academy through think tanks and a counter-media with talk radio and Fox News, and finally swarm into primaries to unseat party bosses who try to be an echo, not a choice.
From David Leonhardt's February 16 New York Times analysis:
Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.
Let's say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and had rapidly helped the economy. Let's also imagine it was large enough to have had a huge impact on jobs - employing something like two million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.
If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?
Well, it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren't hypothetical. They are descriptions of the actual bill.
Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody's Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.
Because the economy is still a long way from being healthy, members of Congress are now debating another, smaller stimulus bill. (They're calling it a "jobs bill," seeing stimulus as a dirty word.) The logical thing to do would be to examine what worked and what didn't in last year's bill.
But that's not what is happening. Instead, the debate is largely disconnected from the huge stimulus experiment we just ran. Why? As Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, the newest member of Congress, said, in a nice summary of the misperceptions, the stimulus might have saved some jobs, but it "didn't create one new job."
Given what people have been saying about a successful stimulus bill, just imagine what they'll say about one that doesn't accomplish much.
At least 80 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 for white people." Here are his February 16 sponsors, in the order they appeared: