Yesterday, The Washington Post published a falsehood-laden op-ed on climate change from noted climatologist...Alaska Governor...uh, social network celebrity Sarah Palin. In an interview with Editor and Publisher's Joe Strupp, op-ed editor Autumn Brewington explained how Palin's piece came to appear in the paper, and defended the decision to run it:
She said the newspaper received an e-mail from Palin Tuesday asking to write about the issue and it decided it should run Wednesday, before President Barack Obama was to head to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
"If we were going to use it, we had to use it immediately," Brewington said. "It was a quicker turnaround than is often the case. But we made the decision based on news."
Brewington did not regret giving Palin space, noting, "She is someone who stirs discussion and we are in the business of putting out opinion. She reached out to us."
A few things come to mind in response to this. Considering Palin's history of falsehoods, rushing her piece through the editorial process was probably not the best idea. As Media Matters research director Jeremy Schulman pointed out on Wednesday, not only were Palin's falsehoods contradicted by scientists and temperature data, but also by the Washington Post's own reporting.
Also, the idea that Palin's thoughts are worth publishing for no other reason than she "stirs discussion" suggests that The Washington Post is more interested in getting attention than informing its readers. Does Palin have an open invitation to write ill-informed pieces on newsworthy issues just because she "stirs discussion?" How about a piece about Barack Obama's birth certificate? Actually, I don't think I want to know the answer to that.
Yesterday, under the headline "Hard Questions," Josh Marshall framed the recent "Climategate" kerfuffle perfectly:
Who to believe on climate change mystery: scientists or conservative pundits? Any thoughts?
WaPo answers: That depends - how many clickthroughs will these "scientists" get us?
The NY Post seems to be following in the factually challenged footsteps of corporate sibling Fox News. At 10:19am EST today the NY Times Media Decoder blog noted that in a disclosure in the middle of a news story, the NY Post identified itself as the corporate parent of News Corp. Of course, the opposite is true: News Corp is the parent of the NY Post.
Six hours later (as of 4:38pm EST), the error remains.
Even better, the error is in the Post's "Media Ink" column.
Shortly after Media Matters for America posted a research item documenting that an Accuracy in Media blogger had smeared Department of Education official Jennings as a "pedophile" and falsely claimed that "[v]ideos have surfaced of Jennings teaching 14-year-old boys the dangerous sexual practice of 'fisting,' and discussing with them the particulars of oral sex," the AIM post was removed from its site without comment.
The anti-gay right's newest line of attack on Department of Education staffer Kevin Jennings is that he "knew" in advance about the content of a seminar held at his organization's 2000 conference, in which two Massachusetts Department of Education employees engaged in explicit discussion of sexual practices with a teen audience. But the evidence those right-wing sources are hanging their hats on is extremely thin - even for them.
WorldNetDaily and Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft are both claiming that one of those instructors is on the record stating that Jennings knew. Both are pointing to a blog post by the anti-gay hate group MassResistance which states, "Of course Jennings and the Massachusetts Department of Education knew beforehand what the 'sexuality educators' would discuss with children at the 'fisting' workshop. The instructor Margot Abels said so herself."
But the statements MassResistance cites Abels reportedly making only indicate that her immediate supervisors in the Department of Education were aware of her work - not Jennings or other GLSEN officials. MassResistance emphasizes Rod Dreher's Weekly Standard report that "Abels fumed to the press that the education department had known perfectly well what she had been doing for years and hadn't cared until the tapes had surfaced." They also point to a report in the conservative Mass News, which states that Abels told the LGBT newspaper Bay Windows that "she had the support of state officials during her seven years at the state Department of Education," and quoted her statement that "Maybe David Driscoll [Commissioner of Education] didn't always know everything that we did, but certainly our supervisors did."
So no, Abels hadn't "said so herself" that Jennings "knew beforehand" the contents of her workshop.
The other piece of "evidence" MassResistance and their allies in the right-wing blogosphere are pointing is as follows:
Jennings, after all, worked hand in hand with the Mass. Department of Education from the beginning, as co-chair of the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth education committee, which set up the statewide program, "Safe Schools for Gay and Lesbian Students" in the DOE. That is the program the fisting workshop instructors worked for.
In fact, as the bio on Jennings' website indicates, he left that commission years before the 2000 conference. Unless these people are alleging some massive conspiracy in which Jennings plotted out the details of the workshop discussion years in advance (and I suppose we can't really rule out that sort of logic from them), this line of reasoning falls apart pretty quickly.
For that matter, even if Jennings had been aware of the general contents of Abels' presentation (and there's no actual evidence to that effect), that still wouldn't in any way support the argument that he was aware of the specific discussion the right-wing finds so offensive before it happens. What we're left with is still that Department of Education officials held the seminar at GLSEN's conference, Jennings criticized them, and they were fired or resigned.
In short, the right is dredging up a ten-year-old instance that was widely reported at the time, and using innuendo and faulty logic to try to smear Jennings with it. But I guess we couldn't have expected any less.
Not only was Glenn Beck's December 9 rant against India and the Indian health care system xenophobic, it was incredibly elitist and ignorant.
After airing video of an American woman explaining why she went to India for her hip replacement - $40,000 in the U.S. v. $16,500 for her trip to India, the surgery and 13 days of medical care - Beck explained the cost differential thusly:
The best I can figure is all that money goes to high-tech hospitals and doctors who studied at Harvard rather than Gajra Raja medical school. Oh sure, yeah, you know, it's weird. You can buy a Gucci bag on any New York street corner for like four bucks. No different than the 3,000 dollar real thing. They're identical! They are! Yes, yes.
So Beck is defending the $3,000 Gucci bag rather than the $4 knockoff? That's not very populist!
Of course most people will never be able to afford the Gucci bag and thus, the knockoff is their only option. After all, in many cases, there is no difference between the Gucci bag and the knockoff - they are assembled the same way using the same materials. One just is licensed by Gucci and the other is not. Gucci is using its brand name to mark its price up by 1,000% (or whatever) so that its cost is what it's worth to upper class consumers and the knockoff is worth what it cost to make it.
All of which is to say, Beck is defending the American health care system by pointing to Harvard-trained doctors - but how many of his audience members -- how many Americans -- will ever have access to a Harvard-trained doctor? And do most Americans regularly need access to a Harvard-trained doctor?
Truth is, American patients are far more likely to be treated by a doctor trained in India than at Harvard.
In fact, more than four times as many Indian-trained MDs practice in the U.S. as their Harvard-trained colleagues.
According to NPR, "No other country has exported as many physicians as India. More than 40,000 practice in the United States, making up one of every 20 U.S. doctors."
According to Harvard Medical School, there are 9,088 living alumni with MDs from the classes 1929-2008.
Of course, with the estimated $18 million Beck makes this year, he can have his choice of doctors - and Gucci handbags.
As I mentioned last week when the shockingly good (or, shockingly not bad) job numbers were released, it will be interesting to see how conservative pundits react. The right-wing media seems to have tied their hopes on the U.S. economy remaining in the ditch. And any sort of turn around, particularly in job growth, represents very bad news for the Obama haters.
But how do you sustain a political, and media, movement that's build around the hope that as many Americans as possible lose their jobs and remained unemployed? It's an unsightly platform to rally around, but so far conservative pundits seem to be doing just that.
Check out Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. Here's the headline to today's column
ObamaJobs: Uncle Sam's Hiring Hall
First, in a column devoted to the topic of jobs, Henninger magically forgot to mention the jobs numbers from Friday; the optimistic job report that Obama's critics don't want to acknowledge.
Second, watch how Henninger dismisses the idea of an economic recovery [emphasis added]:
Every serious person should welcome the president's proposals to lift the dormant economy and reduce unemployment. Not because every serious person would agree with them but because they are a clear test of how a left-wing government would run the American economy. If this works, hats off to them and we become France.
If not, Americans may finally dump left-wing economics into the ash heap of history, starting next November and then in the next presidential election, which can't come soon enough.
Note the open disdain Henninger has for the idea of an economic recovery, and how he claims that even if job creation works, it will be the wrong kind of recovery. Andn that even if the unemployment rate falls it will be because Obama ruined America in the process. (i.e. Turned it into France.) Henninger would clearly prefer Obama get blamed for continued high unemployed "next November and then in the next presidential election."
It seems obvious that Henninger doesn't really care about people today who are unemployed, and in fact, because of his partisan blinders, he'd actually prefer that people remain unemployed so he can writes columns slamming Obama.
Me? I just wish conservatives would stop rooting against America.
Fox News just ran a segment on public relations superpower Burson-Marsteller's receipt of federal stimulus contracts for their work on a campaign to raise public awareness of the national switch from analog to digital television. During her discussion with Douglas Schoen - who used to work with B-M head and former Clinton pollster Mark Penn -- and National Review's Rich Lowry, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum commented that "people say" "so this is a place that needs $6 million in stimulus to save three jobs?":
Luckily for MacCallum, there's someone within the Fox News family itself who may be able to answer her question: Fox News contributor Dana Perino, whose day job is Chief Issues Counselor for Burson-Marsteller. Perino has no trouble using her Fox News platform to defend her former boss, President Bush; surely she'd have no qualms about defending her current one.
I would really like to visit whatever planet it is that NewsBuster Brent Baker calls home. It sounds like an interesting place -- not only is there no climate change, but on Baker's planet acts of wanton criminality are "laudatory" feats that deserve copious amounts of praise.
At least, that's the story Baker told this morning as he attacked the ABC and CBS evening newscasts for "discount[ing] the scientific relevance of the admissions and obfuscations displayed in the ClimateGate e-mails." According to Baker: "The two networks, however, painted the 'stolen' e-mails not as laudatory whistle-blowing, but as an unwanted impediment to the left's global warming agenda."
Let's consider that sentence for a moment -- Brent Baker, one of the premiere media critics on the right, considers hackers who illegally broke into e-mail servers at the University of East Anglia and stole several thousand e-mail messages to be "whistleblowers," and he wanted ABC and CBS to praise these criminals for their "laudatory" actions.
Once again, Brent Baker, media critic, praises criminals and wants the media to do the same. This isn't media criticism. This isn't even sane.
So yeah, book me a seat on the next rocket ship to the Bakersphere. That's an alternate reality I'm curious to explore.
In support of health care reform, SEIU's website recently highlighted the case of Karlyn Zimbelman, an American who received successful medical treatment abroad because she couldn't foot the $40,000 bill for hip replacement surgery she would have been forced to pay in the United States. And so, she went to India, where the surgery and 13 days of medical care cost her $12,500 -- $16,500 with travel and other costs.
Beck ran parts of a video testimonial from Ms. Zimbelman, who had the audacity to say the following: "I think the American health care system is excellent, but I just think it's so expensive. Where's the money going?" Beck then offered the following explanation of the cost differential (emphasis added):
The best I can figure is all that money goes to high-tech hospitals and doctors who studied at Harvard rather than Gajra Raja medical school. Oh sure, yeah, you know, it's weird. You can buy a Gucci bag on any New York street corner for like four bucks. No different than the 3,000 dollar real thing. They're identical!
But he wasn't finished. Beck continued (emphasis added):
And also, in our research that it took us, oh about 40 seconds, we figured out that some of that money here in America winds up in the pocket of a skilled doctor that helps off-set the 20 years of schooling that he endured and the loans he took out. And - you're not going to believe this one, Karlyn - some of that money seems to go to the 1 million SEIU workers in the healthcare industry that make slightly more here than in India. Because, you know, they have an American lifestyle, maybe a couple of cars, great union benefits, and homes with something that we in America like to call flush toilets.
And finally (emphasis added):
I don't want a discounted doctor. I don't want discounted wages. I don't want any of this stuff. If I wanted to live in India, I'd live in India. I want not the Indian lifestyle, I want the American lifestyle. I'm sure, no offense to India, I'm sure it's beautiful and everything. I've heard especially this time of year, especially by the - you know that one big river they have there that sounds like a disease? Come on, it does. I mean, if somebody said, 'I'm sorry, you have a really bad case of Ganges,' you'd want Cipro."
Thus, within the span of a few minutes, Beck implied that there are no quality medical schools in India; implied that medical care in India is a shoddy imitation of real health care; implied that the entire nation is an undeveloped backwater without even so much as indoor plumbing; and compared the Ganges River, a holy body of water for one of the world's oldest and largest religions, to a disease.
What does this say about Beck's respect for the millions of Indian-Americans living in the United States, let alone the Indian people? What does it say about his respect for the faith traditions of others? What does it say about his views on the tens of thousands of doctors who graduate Indian medical schools every year in the hopes of serving the world's second largest nation? Or on the tens of thousands of doctors who studied medicine in India but now practice it in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia?
Most importantly, why does Beck feel that ignorant, bigoted rants like these are funny? Or does he simply have so little respect for his viewers that he thinks he must resort to this kind of xenophobia in order to maintain his ratings?
You can watch the clips here: