The Plum Line's Greg Sargent gets Politico editor John Harris to defend Politico's uncritical copying-and-pasting of Dick Cheney's attacks on the Obama administration. But Harris's defense doesn't hold water.
Harris writes "[I]t seemed to me that the people who found Cheney's comments most objectionable were the ones who found them most newsworthy." What does that even mean? That the people who found Cheney's comments objectionable objected to them, which means they were noteworthy? That's incredibly circular. Further, Harris is ducking: He ignores a key aspect of the criticism of Politico, which was not merely that Cheney's comments didn't deserve attention, but that Politico failed to place them in appropriate factual context.
Next, Harris suggests that it's ok that Politico uncritically passed along Cheney's attacks because other Politico articles filled in some of the gaps:
If you look at the other stories we ran at the same time as the Cheney quote there was a Josh Gerstein piece leading the site comparing Obama's response to Bush's after the 2001 shoe bomber and debunking the notion that Obama's response was more sluggish. We also had a piece looking at GOP politicization of national security.
If anyone should be aware of the need for individual articles to stand on their own, it should be a Politico editor. How many people sit down and read Politico cover-to-cover? Somewhere in the neighborhood of "none," I'm guessing. If it was ever adequate for a news organization to pass along unfiltered partisan attacks in one report, then add the necessary context in other reports, that time is long gone. It simply doesn't reflect the way people consume news.
Finally, Harris offers this:
Trying to get newsworthy people to say interesting things is part of what we do. Also in December we had a long Q and A with the other prominent former vice president Al Gore. That story might also have looked to some like providing an uncritical platform if you viewed it only isolation.
Another misleading dodge. The Cheney article that drew criticism wasn't the result of a "long Q and A." It was based on what Politico described as a Cheney "statement to Politico." A press release, in other words. Which Politico reporter Mike Allen dutifully copied-and-pasted in its entirety. It isn't a "Q and A" if the person providing the A doesn't face any Q.
You would think that, just a few weeks removed from getting caught red-handed spreading falsehoods about Kevin Jennings and being forced to issue an embarrassing retraction, Accuracy in Media would want to stay away from the subject of Jennings, lest it stray into further misleading smears. But AIM doesn't, and it does.
In a January 4 AIM column, Cliff Kincaid tries once again to falsely link Jennings to pedophila -- defying AIM's retraction statement that it has "no evidence" to support such a link -- by bringing up Jennings' praise for gay-rights pioneer Harry Hay, stating that Hay was a "supporter of the North American Man-Boy Love Association" and insisting that "The praise of Hay by Jennings has led to questions about Jennings's relationship with NAMBLA itself."
In fact, Jennings' praise of Hay has only "led to questions" among those determined to mischaracterize that praise. Jennings praised Hay's role in helping start "the first ongoing gay rights groups in America" in 1948, which has nothing to do with NAMBLA.
(Just as unacceptable to Kincaid, it appears, is that Hay was also "a prominent member of the Communist Party USA and 'Radical Faerie' who believed in the power of the occult.")
Kincaid also curiously embarks on a defense of a proposed anti-gay law in Uganda, asserting that any claim that it would result in the death penalty for homosexuality is "flat-out disinformation" and that the death penalty is for "aggravated homosexuality," which is, according to Kincaid, "pederasty, pedophilia, homosexual parent/child incest, homosexual abuse of a disabled ward, and knowingly spreading AIDS."
But CNN reports that the death penalty could also apply to those who "engage in homosexual sex more than once," as well as "people who test positive for HIV." The law would also apply even to Ugandans participating in same-sex acts in countries where such behavior is legal.
Kincaid's source for his claims about the Uganda law is anti-gay pastor Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries -- which is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups. The New York Times reports that Lively "has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss" the proposed law and was one of three evangelical activists who headlined a recent conference on the "gay agenda" in the country in which, according to the Times, they "discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how 'the gay movement is an evil institution' whose goal is 'to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.' "
Kincaid quotes Lively stating that the bill "does not emphasize rehabilitation over punishment and the punishment that it calls for is unacceptably harsh. However, if the offending sections were sufficiently modified, the proposed law would represent an encouraging step in the right direction." According to Kincaid, Lively defends the law as "a response to the history of the country, where Christians were persecuted and even killed for resisting the homosexuality of King Mwanga, a violent pedophile." Lively also cites "homosexual political activists from Europe and the United States [who] are working aggressively to re-homosexualize their nation" and claims that "Ugandan citizens report a growing number of foreign homosexual men coming to their country to turn desperately poor young men from the slums into their personal houseboys, and that some girls in public schools have been paid to recruit others into lesbianism."
Kincaid joins WorldNetDaily's Molotov Mitchell in defending the Ugandan bill.
Thanks to Kincaid's smear, AIM owes another apology to Jennings. They might want to quit while they're behind.
From Washington Times' editor emeritus Wesley Pruden's January 5 column headlined "A little religion for the messiah":
Since it's an ill wind that blows nobody good, even downwind from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his deadly skivvies, we may owe a profound debt of gratitude to the Detroit underwear bomber.
He's the instrument, maybe, of Barack Obama getting a little religion, and if so it's not the stuff of Arabia, but real, heartfelt attitude-changing religion. The president has apparently decided that Islamic terror is real, and aimed straight at America. He's even calling terror "terror" (just like George W. Bush).
This was no doubt difficult for the messiah from Hyde Park, who arrived in Washington persuaded that "terrorism" was a figment of George W.'s benighted imagination, that misunderstandings between America and the Muslim world were all the fault of America. A few apologies, a bended knee, a deep head-banging bow to an Arab king would demonstrate that Americans understand at last what chauvinist pigs and imperialist dogs those founding fathers really were - Englishmen all, with their ignorant ideas about American "exceptionalism" and the idea that free men bow to none but the Almighty.
Mr. Obama seems to have put a tentative foot on the sawdust trail that leads to redemption. He seems to understand what's at stake, maybe, and has decided that more speechifying won't stop the mad Muslim suspects who allegedly vow to kill us. We can always hope for change to believe in.
From Fox News' website, FoxNation.com:
For months, the right-wing media has launched obsessive, anti-gay attacks on President Obama's gay and lesbian appointees. The attacks are ugly, gay-baiting smears (trust us, they're ugly), and have had little, if anything, to do with the appointees' qualifications to do their jobs. But many on the right would be loathe to openly admit that they oppose an appointment because of that person's sexual orientation or gender-identity.
Enter the Christian Broadcasting Network's [CBN] David Brody (you know, the one who used to regularly appear on NBC's Meet the Press as a credible roundtable guest). He plainly suggested yesterday in a blog post on CBN's website that Obama should not have nominated Amanda Simpson to be the Senior Technical Adviser to the Commerce Department because she is a transgender woman.
Brody doesn't even hide the fact that he doesn't care about whether she's qualified or not; rather, he has a "newsflash" for us: "The transgender thing doesn't play well with millions of conservative Evangelicals," or "the million of [sic] conservative Independent voters and Catholics who will be up for grabs again in 2012 as well." Here's a portion of Brody's post:
President Obama has appointed a transgender woman named Amanda Simpson to be the Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. It's the first time a President has appointed an openly transgender person. You've got to hand it to the President on this one. He delivered on his campaign slogan because this is definitely "Change you can believe in."
Oy-vey. Someone hand me an Advil. I wonder how this is going to play in the heartland.
I know. I know. There will be those who say all that matters is whether or not Simpson is qualified for the job. And I know there will be those who will wonder why I am even writing about this considering there may be more important topics to discuss but here's a newsflash for you: The transgender thing doesn't play well with millions of conservative Evangelicals. Sorry if Biblical absolutes offend you or are so "1950 ish" but don't think conservative Evangelicals are apologizing for it.
I understand President Obama won't be after die hard conservative Evangelicals in 2012 but let's remember that moves like this don't play well with the million of conservative Independent voters and Catholics who will be up for grabs again in 2012 as well. A move like this could easily be part of a liberal ammunition package against the President in 2012. Hey, remember how he won North Carolina and Indiana in 2008? You think those conservative minded states may listen a little more closely when they hear the word "transgender?" Oh, and one more thing. I know the economy is the big story but don't think for a second stories like this don't resonate in people's minds. They do. It's part of the psychology of voting and it all lumps in with a larger portrait. Can anyone say Chai Feldblum? Research here.
This isn't new territory for Brody; back in October, he accused Department of Education appointee Kevin Jennings of "not reporting sexual abuse of a minor to authorities" and of "[p]ushing a homosexual agenda." It appears that his opposition to LGBT appointees has now devolved into, well, it won't "play in the heartland."
Lost amid the controversy over the Washington Post turning its news pages over to billionaire Pete Peterson's anti-government crusade is a fairly basic question: Do Peterson and his allies have a track record of being right? The guy didn't just appear out of nowhere; he's been trying to influence public policy for decades. Shouldn't newspapers give some consideration to his track record?
Here's a starting point: In 1993, Peterson opposed health care reform, saying we couldn't afford it. How did that turn out? Does Peterson stand by that statement? If so, what evidence does he have that health care costs would have risen more quickly over the past 16 years had the Clintons' reform efforts succeeded?
Perhaps aware of Peterson's dubious pronouncements, Fiscal Times Washington editor Eric Pianin claims Peterson and his foundation have no editorial input:
Eric Pianin, a former Post editor and budget reporter who is Washington editor of The Fiscal Times, said that Peterson and his Peter G. Peterson Foundation have no editorial input. "This is strictly a journalistic venture," Pianin said. "We're not advocates. I wouldn't be involved in it if it was otherwise. But Pete Peterson thinks it's important enough that journalists pursue these areas that he's helping to fund it."
That's nice spin, but it's obviously nonsense. If Peterson is funding journalists' pursuit of "these areas," he is -- by definition -- choosing what they cover. And what the media covers is often as important as how it is covered. It doesn't matter that Peterson doesn't stand over anyone's shoulder telling them where to put commas and who to quote; the fact is that he is causing additional media focus on the deficit, which causes people to think it is an urgent problem -- at a time when many economists think excessive worry about deficits could exacerbate economic difficulties.
UPDATE: Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli told Politico the Post has "quality control" over the Fiscal Times pieces it runs. Looks like his story checks out:
Consistent with Mr. Peterson's longstanding objective, the article the Post published is rife with factual errors, important omissions and significant distortions, which lead the reader to see a fast-tracked commission as sound policy and without opposition – indeed, virtually inevitable.
Not surprisingly, the GOP's favorite pollster Scott Rasmussen showed up on The O'Reilly Factor last night (it's his base), where he continued to misrepresent one of his wildly misleading polls. But hey other than that, he's a great pollster.
As we keep detailing, Rasmussen's recent polling questions about whether investigations surrounding terror arrests in the U.S. should be handled by the military as a terror act, or civilian authorities as a criminal act makes no sense. Zero. None. Why? Because it's not an either/or choice. i.e. Acts of terror are criminal acts. Also, "civilian authorities" (read: FBI, DOJ) have been handling terrorist investigations for generations, and certainly handled them after 9/11.
In other words, civilian authorities launch terrorist investigations all the time, so why does Rasmussen pretend that only "military authorities" do that? (And if Rasmussen was trying to determine if American thought the Christmas Day bomber suspect should be tried in a military tribunal, than Rasmussen should have asked that. He did not.)
Behold Rasmussen on O'Reilly last night:
The number who want this guy treated by the military is higher than the number we found for the Fort Hood shootings a little while ago. Why? Well, there now have been two events. Overall, the American people are coming to believe that our system has shift shifted too far in the direction of protecting individual rights at the expense of national security. And the numbers are pretty dramatic. They'd been moving a lot in the last few months.
So based on a poorly worded and deeply misleading poll question, Rasmussen is able to divine all kinds of insights regarding how Americans now think our legal system leans too far towards "protecting individual rights at the expense of national security"?
No wonder he's the GOP's favorite pollster.
UPDATED: Loved this comment from Rasmussen on Fox News last night, as he defended his firm's work:
We had a great cycle for the presidential year.
Flashback: In very late October of 2008, on the eve of Obama's electoral rout, Rasmussen had Sen. John McCain closing the gap to just three points. One week later, McCain lost by more than twice that.
UPDATED: Rasmussen is out with yet more great-news-for-GOP poll results. How does he do it?
Matthew Yglesias makes fun of Mark Halperin's complaints that Barack Obama hasn't succeeded in "Wooing Official Washington":
If a failure to woo "official Washington" is one of the major failings of an administration, then I'd say the administration is doing pretty well. Especially because if you read the item, it's clear that by "official Washington" Halperin means something like "my friends" rather than anything actually "official"
The people I know who work in the administration, though by no means "top aides," generally seem quite busy. They're trying to govern the country under difficult circumstances! And I think the public will generally sleep easily knowing that more time is being put into policies aimed at improving people's lives than on hankering for the "establishment seal of approval."
Yglesias is right on the merits, of course. But we shouldn't simply ignore Halperin's hurt feelings; this is the kind of idiocy that contributed to the elite media's hatred of the Clintons:
Actually, it could be said that Sally Quinn has been floundering around for the last couple of decades, when she failed first as a journalist, then as a novelist, before emerging as a hostess in a Washington society that even she admits is in its death throes. Which brings us to a central question: Who appointed Quinn as the mouthpiece for the permanent Washington establishment, if there is such an animal? A peek into Quinn's motives reveals a hidden political agenda and the venom of a hostess scorned, and ultimately, an aging semi-journalist propped up by a cadre of media buddies, carping at the Clintons because they wouldn't kiss her ring.
According to society sources, Sally invited Hillary to a luncheon when the Clintons came to town in 1993. Sally stocked her guest list with her best buddies and prepared to usher the first lady into the capital's social whirl. Apparently, Hillary didn't accept. Miffed, Sally wrote a catty piece in the Post about Mrs. Clinton. Hillary made sure that Quinn rarely made it into the White House dinners or social events.
In return, Sally started talking trash about Hillary to her buddies, and her animus became a staple of the social scene. "There's just something about her that pisses people off," Quinn is quoted as saying in a New Yorker article about Hillary.
Oh, and just this morning the Washington Post ran a column by that same Sally Quinn. She has had enough, and demands the resignation of the White House social secretary. Then again, Quinn just knew all along Desiree Rogers wasn't right for the job:
White House social secretary Desirée Rogers came under fire after the Salahi scandal erupted. From the start, Rogers was an unlikely choice for social secretary. She was not of Washington, considered by many too high-powered for the job and more interested in being a public figure (and thus upstaging the first lady) than in doing the gritty, behind-the-scenes work inherent in that position.
Always a few days late to the party, the Fox & Friends brigade took some time out of their busy morning to attack President Obama for his "detached," "tepid" response to the Christmas day attempted bombing of a Northwest airline flight. "It took him three days" to respond, co-host Steve Doocy sniffed, while Brian Kilmeade reported that he didn't think "anyone was going to get fired" because of the incident.
The right has been complaining about Obama's response pretty much since the incident took place, as Huffington Post's Sam Stein pointed out on December 29, 2009. But, as Stein noted, Bush waited six days to respond to a shoe-bomber Richard Reid's very similar attempted bombing of a passenger plane, with no complaint from the right. In fact, it seems that the Obama administration's initial response and the Bush initial administration's response to similar attempted terror attacks, were, well, very similar. Both administration's monitored "the situation," and once enough facts were known to reply, the President responded. The only difference is that Obama responded publically sooner.
This, of course, is no matter to Republicans, including former Bush administration officials who were actually in office when the Reid incident occurred, and their cohorts in the media.
As for Fox & Friends' feigned concern over whether "heads" were going to "roll," because of the attempted attack (like, oh say, Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's), no Bush administration heads seem to have rolled because of Reid's attempted attack. In fact, no heads rolled after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, where over 3,000 people were killed. Indeed, in 2004, Bush awarded former CIA director George Tenet, who was the CIA director during both the September 11 attacks and Reid's attempted attack, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The FBI Director at the time, Robert Mueller, is still FBI Director today. Then-Attorney General John Aschroft remained on the job, as did Condoleezza Rice, who was at the time, Bush's National Security advisor. Of course, Rice was later promoted to Secretary of State. I don't recall the right-wing media calling for any of their heads back in 2001.
Compare that silence to the hand-wringing and chest thumping reverberating from right-wing media figures and Republican politicians today, with their relentless, politically motivated assaults on everyone from Napolitano, to Attorney General Eric Holder, to Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan. Oh how their principles change when there's a Democrat in charge.
It's your laugh-or-cry moment from the right-wing blogosphere, this time courtesy of Gateway Pundit who's been working closely alongside Andrew Breitbart for the last month in their failed effort to get a single serious news outlet to pay attention to their oddly explicit, gay-baiting campaign against Kevin Jennings.
But, as Gateway Pundit recently crowed, the story's finally showing signs of life. In Bulgaria. And no, this is not a joke:
The US media would rather see children put at risk and handed fisting packs than report on this story because it may embarrass their failed superhero. They would rather protect the radical president than protect America's children. It shows you how corrupt the mainstream media has become in this country.
But the Bulgarian media is covering it. Bulgarian writer Ivan Stamenov is reporting on the Jennings' scandal today...
The US state-run media may be hiding from the Jennings' scandal. Maybe they even think teaching fisting is appropriate for 7th graders? Whatever the reason, even Bulgarian reporters are brave enough to report on this abuse of children.
For the better part of a year we've heard the far-right Fox News family telling anyone who would listen that their opposition to President Obama and progressives in Congress was all about liberty... and freedom... and the founding fathers... and mom's apple pie. You get the picture.
Apparently those freedoms... those liberties aren't meant for Muslim men.
As Media Matters noted yesterday:
In the wake of the Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight, numerous Fox News hosts, contributors, and guests have called for profiling of Muslims by airport security personnel. But several national security experts have termed such policies ineffective, with Bush administration secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff stating that "relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and, arguably, dangerous."
It's nice to know that the Fox News gang is so quick to throw an entire group of people under the Tea Party Express (i.e. bus).
You'd think they have no principles at all.