I'm still trying to figure out what conservatives expect from Larry David. The star of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm is about as liberal as you can get, doesn't hide his disdain for conservatives and Republicans, and routinely mocks Christians, Jews, and organized religion in general. On the show he has eaten Jesus and Mary and gotten into a fistfight with Joseph, interrupted a Christian Science prayer circle with his Hava Nagila ringtone, exhumed his mother's body because she was put in the wrong section of a Jewish cemetery, and pretended to speak Hebrew in order to ingratiate himself to an orthodox Jew. Most recently, he accidentally urinated on a picture of Jesus, prompting its owners to believe that the picture had miraculously started crying.
This latest bit of blasphemy has sent NewsBusters into fits of outrage, calling the scene "disgraceful," and reprinting an angry statement from Catholic League president Bill Donohue, as well as an e-mail from a BigHollywood.com reader who wrote that "the hypocrisy is that Mr. David would never exhibit such gross contempt for any other religion, especially Islam." That, of course, is not true - Larry once attempted to set his blind friend up with an ugly Muslim woman whose unsightly features were hidden by her burqa.
But there's a larger point to be made. In the past, NewsBusters has stood behind mockery of religious figures as expressions of free speech. When a Swedish paper printed cartoons depicting Mohammed's head on a dog's body, NewsBusters attacked the "manufactured outrage in the Islamic world" and praised the paper for writing "an excellent editorial defending free speech, especially the freedom to parody." They later returned to the issue, writing: "Islamic radicals continue to spread irrational hate against the Swedish Mohammed dog sketches."
Is NewsBusters' outrage at Larry David any more legitimate? Does he not enjoy the same right to parody?
When you defend mockery of one religious figure as free speech and then roundly condemn mockery of another, that's not outrage, that's hypocritical bigotry.
Conservative blogger JammieWearingFool, 2008 Weblog Award Winner for "Best Big Blog," today confirms that at least one-third of his name is accurate.
In a post titled "Was Alan Grayson Really a Mental Patient?" he excerpts at length and links to a post titled "Congressman Grayson Briefly Spent Time in Mental Hospital in 1980s" at the blog Right Handed Pitcher. The post alleges that Grayson "spent four days in the Psychiatric Institute of Washington," and that he "was extremely combative with fellow employees, including slapping a female intern in the face."
While JammieWearingFool is careful to add a question mark to his headline and couch his post in wishy-washy language like "take it for what it's worth," this is yet another case of conservative bloggers proving they lack even basic fact-checking skills.
While there are several things that probably should have given JammieWearingFool pause before he forwarded this story, one stands out above the others. The byline on The Right Handed Pitcher post is Matthew Avitabile. You may remember Matthew Avitabile from last Friday, when a hoax post about Obama's thesis with Avitabile's byline was picked up by Michael Ledeen, then Limbaugh, Dobbs, et. al. Back in January, Avitabile also fooled gullible conservatives with a bogus story about an Obama military oath. While I suppose it is unreasonable to expect every conservative blogger to keep up with the embarrassing failures of their compatriots on the right -- it's a lot to keep track of -- perhaps the "Satire" tag at the bottom of the Right Handed Pitcher post might have been a good tipoff.
We can probably look forward to another game of conservative telephone, where everyone cites each other making outrageous claims without anyone doing basic fact-checking.
The conservative media: where no story is too flimsy to run with.
MSNBC's Nancy Snyderman and Savannah Guthrie just discussed health care polling:
Snyderman: I must say I have looked at these numbers since last night and into this morning. I think they are all over the place. Which, to me underscores the confusion about what's what.
Gutherie: Yeah, you know, I had the exact same reaction. Kind of, "What?!?" You really see Americans all over the map. On the one hand, support for the public option growing. On the other hand, when you ask if they like the president's plan, which he has said he supports a public option, the majority don't like it.
So what you really take away from all of these conflicting and self-contradictory numbers is, there's a failure of message here. Either Americans don't understand what it is, whether or not to oppose it or favor it, because you see them thinking that it's going to make costs go up, but then some people think it should pass. It's really hard to look at these numbers and come up with a consistent philosophy as to how Americans feel about health care reform. And if that is the case so far into this debate, one really wonders where the messaging is, and where the failure is.
Where to start?
Is Savannah Guthrie really surprised that American public opinion is not monolithic?
Are MSNBC reporters really just realizing that polling on health care reform yields contradictory results?
Guthrie thinks disjointed poll results "so far into this debate" shows a "failure of message" on the part of reform advocates. Does she really not understand that a "debate" involves two sides, and that the two sides have been saying contradictory things, and that if the public has trouble sorting out what's true, that means the media has done a lousy job of making clear which claims are true and which are false?
Guthrie never so much as hints at the possibility that maybe the media haven't done a good job of explaining health care reform. The lack of self-awareness is stunning.
Politico's Manu Raju and Glenn Thrush join the lengthy list of reporters who have quoted Joe Lieberman's stated reasons for opposing health care reform that includes a public option without noting that those reasons appear to be, as TNR's Jonathan Chait put it, "babbling nonsense."
Raju and Thrush quoted Lieberman arguing: "To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. ... I don't think we need it now."
But they didn't mention that, as Media Matters noted yesterday, "while Reid has yet to release details of the compromise Senate legislation, every other proposed bill with a public option so far has required the costs of the public plan to be covered by the premiums of those who enroll in it."
Later, the Politico reporters wrote that among Democrats "there is much lingering ill will over Lieberman's perceived lack of loyalty."
In the past three years, Lieberman has run against the Democratic nominee for his seat, endorsed the Republican presidential candidate, attacked Barack Obama during a speech at the Republican National Convention, and campaigned for Republican Senate candidates. When President Obama and the Senate Democratic caucus let him keep his committee chairmanship anyway, he repaid their kindness by announcing his intention to join Republicans in filibustering health care reform.
What does he have to do to get Politico to drop the "perceived"?
I know, right?
Nonetheless, the GOP-friendly newspaper today treats the mundane revelation as a very, very big deal. In fact, the Times even created a interactive page ("Bowling for Dollars at the White House") where you can view key "documents" and view a "timeline" to the non-existent story.
In particular, the posted "documents" lack any "wow" factor, since they're essentially external, boilerplate outreach letters by the DNC asking for money, while the touted timeline includes dates when Obama has played golf with donors. (Zzzz.)
All in all, a rather sleepy scoop from the Moonie daily.
UPDATED: Surprise! The RNC uses the Times' rickety reporting to call for a Congressional investigation into the White House. (Good luck with that.) See how the conservative food chain works? But the Times is a completely independent news operation, right?
Because this headline makes no sense, based on the facts contained in the article.
Jarrett makes, retracts charge Fox is biased
I'll just say right now, good luck finding White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett's so-called retraction, because it does not exist. Period. She never retracted her claim that Fox News is "biased." CNN.com just made that part up.
More awful journalism? Try this [emphasis added]:
The White House carefully continued its assault on Fox News Tuesday, as a senior White House adviser told CNN's Campbell Brown that the network was "of course" biased against the Obama administration, but immediately backtracked slightly.
And gee, how exactly did Jarrett play her role in the White House's masterfully, or "carefully," executed "assault" on Fox News? She answered a question posed by a journalist.
What will that calculating WH think of next?
Here's CNN president Jon Klein shrugging off his cable channel's lousy ratings:
Excellent journalism is what we are focused on. We refuse to do the things that might get us a quick number or cater to the extremes that would alienate our core viewers.
And here's CNN's Lou Dobbs.
And no, Klein isn't somehow unaware of Dobbs' existence. Over the summer, when Dobbs was hyping Birther conspiracy theories, Klein leapt to Dobbs' defense. Oh, and earlier this year, Klein said Dobbs does a relatively straight newscast. Right.
Yesterday, we highlighted a Zogby poll question asking whether "good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry" should "step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions." But given that Zogby does a lot of polling-for-hire, the probability is high that someone paid Zogby to ask that question.
Indeed, that's the case here. As FAIR noted, that poll was paid for by conservative activist Brad O'Leary. He's the guy who presented an award to Rush Limbaugh at CPAC earlier this year. He has also penned two books, one a speculative, factually challenged attack on Barack Obama, that were published by WorldNetDaily.
O'Leary also has a history of hiring Zogby to do slanted polling. Eric Boehlert has previously noted that these polls -- which are conducted with Zogby under names such as ATI News and the O'Leary Report -- include vague and leading phraseology designed to elicit a specific answer, which O'Leary can then promote to further his anti-Obama agenda.
WorldNetDaily, which has regularly promoted O'Leary's slanted polls, did so again with this one, even faithfully reproducing the "good white people" question and adding a email address to contact WND's PR folks if "you are a member of the media and would like to interview Brad O'Leary about this story." Interesting that WND would let that poll wording slide by. Or Zogby, for that matter.
UPDATE: It seems the "good white people" phrase is taken from a statement by FCC official (and right-wing witch hunt target) Mark Lloyd. But the O'Leary/Zogby poll's claim that Lloyd "wants the FCC to force good white people in positions of power in the broadcast industry to step down to make room for more African-Americans and gays to fill those positions" is completely false.
Greg Sargent notes that last week the inside baseball dispute between the White House and Fox News grabbed as much overall news coverage as the swine flu. You know, that thing that the president recently labeled a national emergency.
No doubt it's depressing to watch journalists spend so much time navel gazing. (BTW, it's our job and Media Matters to watch the press, what journalists' excuse?) But it actually gets worse when you break down the recent Pew Research data by media sector and see just how much time cable TV devoted to the Fox News story.
That's right, last week cable news channels devoted nearly three times more coverage to Fox News as they did the swine flu, which has killed more than 1,000 Americans this year.