If you get caught defending Adolph Hitler one time, you could, I suppose, claim it was an accident; a momentary lapse of reason.
If you get caught defending Hitler two times ... Well, I guess you could say it was just be an unfortunate coincidence.
But if you defend Hitler as often as Pat Buchanan has, that isn't an accident, and it isn't a coincidence: it's a pattern. And it's pretty hard to avoid the conclusion that you just don't think Hitler was all that bad.
Over at Daily Kos, Markos catches Buchanan marking the 70th anniversary of Britain declaring war on Nazi Germany by arguing that Hitler has gotten a bum rap -- he didn't really want war.
As crazy as it seems, this actually isn't a new line of argument for Buchanan. He has long held that World War II was not "worth it," that Hitler needn't have been deposed, and that the Holocaust was Churchill's fault, not Hitler's. I catalogued those and other monstrous Buchanan claims in a column back in June:
Buchanan has called Adolf Hitler an "individual of great courage." He also questioned whether World War II was "worth it" and wondered, "[W]hy destroy Hitler?" That wasn't 40 years ago; that was just four years ago. Just last year, he wrote that the Holocaust happened not because of Hitler, but because of Churchill.
That actually may demonstrate a hint of progress for Buchanan: At least he acknowledged the Holocaust did happen. In the past, he has peddled bizarre Holocaust denial claims, and as recently as two months ago, compared suspected Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk to Jesus Christ.
Defending an accused Nazi war criminal is one thing. Relying on the discredited arguments of Holocaust deniers in order to do so is quite another. And that's exactly what Buchanan has done.
In a 1990 column defending Demjanjuk, Buchanan wrote: "Reportedly, half of the 20,000 survivor testimonies in Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem are considered 'unreliable' " because of "Holocaust Survivor Syndrome," which involves "group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics." Buchanan didn't say who "reported" this claim, which would fit in nicely in the most extreme Holocaust denial literature. Nor did he identify a source for his claim that Jews could not have been killed at Treblinka because "[d]iesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody," a claim he purported to prove by noting that, in 1988, "97 kids, trapped 400 feet underground in a Washington, DC tunnel while two locomotives spewed diesel exhaust into the car, emerged unharmed after 45 minutes." Buchanan later refused to tell journalist Jacob Weisberg where he got that anecdote, saying only, "Somebody sent it to me." Evidence strongly suggests the claim came from a Holocaust denial newsletter. Regardless of where Buchanan got his theories about diesel engines, the mass graves at Treblinka are rather more persuasive.
Buchanan's bizarre comments about Nazis and the Holocaust kicked into high gear during his time as a columnist, but his questionable approach to the subject began earlier. As an aide to President Reagan, Buchanan successfully urged his boss to visit Germany's Bitburg cemetery, where Nazi troops are buried. Buchanan was reportedly responsible for Reagan's statement that the SS troops buried there were "victims just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."
And that's just the stuff about Nazis. There's much more, including Buchanan's defense of segregation.
Earlier today a member of our research staff was on his way to lunch when he spotted a man filming the Media Matters office building from across the street.
When the staffer returned from lunch he spoke to one of our building's great security guards and was told that the cameraman had initially been on our side of the street filming but they'd asked him to move. The cameraman identified himself as affiliated with "Fox TV" and said that his assignment was to take several exterior shots of the building from different angles.
So, what does this all mean?
Will Media Matters be subjected to one of Bill O'Reilly's notorious ambush interviews?
Will Glenn Beck wrap us up into one of his loony conspiracy theories?
Will Sean Hannity lay into us for cavorting with socialists, communists, cartoonists and pianists?
Who knows, I guess we'll just have to stay tuned.
Fox News: Fair, Balanced and Bizarre.
WorldNetDaily founder and editor Joseph Farah is responding to news of a conservative boycott against supporters of his "news" organization in the expected way -- by demonstrating why conservatives would want to boycott WND in the first place.
In his Sept. 1 WND column, Farah dismisses the Next Right writer who proposed the boycott, Jon Henke, as "this fellow I have never known nor associated with nor even heard of," then misportrays Henke's post, suggesting he was moved to support a boycott solely "because of an article he read in the Boston Herald last week." In fact, it's clear from Henke's post that the Herald article was merely the last straw, not the entire rationale.
Farah then complains that the Boston Herald article in question offered only a "partial quote," taken "out-of-context," from a Feb. 1 WND article by Jerome Corsi suggesting that the federal government wants "to create the type of detention center" that "could be used as concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany." Corsi, Farah insisted, offered a "much more nuanced and accurate statement."
But actual nuance would have required Corsi to tell all sides of the story -- not just the point of view of "those concerned about use of the military in domestic affairs" but what the sposnor of the bill in question, Rep. Alcee Hastings, has said about it.
On Jan. 22 -- nine days before Corsi's article was published -- Hastings issued a press release on his sponsorship of the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act, which would "create six National Emergency Centers throughout the United States to better respond to national emergencies":
The Centers would provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance, including education for individuals and families displaced due to an emergency. In addition, the Centers will also serve as a centralized location for the training and coordination of first responders in the instance of an emergency.
"The lack of natural disaster preparedness efforts and temporary housing options for disaster-stricken citizens has only exacerbated an unbearable situation. Deficient recovery responses have led to elongated recovery rates in my district and across this nation," said Congressman Hastings.
"We have an obligation to better prepare and more adequately respond to the needs of communities hit by natural disasters. We have a responsibility to ensure that basic needs of disaster victims are met immediately following the devastation. Our nation was not prepared for the disastrous hurricanes that struck Florida and the Gulf Coast in 2004 and in 2005. The enactment of this legislation will help to ensure that our government is able to adequately respond to families and individuals displaced due to an emergency."
Corsi reported none of this. Instead, the only quote of Hastings in his article was of a 2008 statement critical of Sarah Palin -- which is completely irrelevant to the bill in question. Corsi's only goal in this article was to ridicule Hastings and fearmonger about the bill he introduced.
Farah goes on to complain that other organizations reported on the boycott, including Media Matters. He then defends the organization he founded:
I didn't found WorldNetDaily to be esteemed by my colleagues.
I didn't found it to make People for the American Way or Media Matters happy.
I didn't found it because I wanted to be part of the "conservative" movement.
I founded it because there was a crying need for an independent brand of journalism beholden only to the truth.
Farah concludes: "I hope you appreciate that WorldNetDaily difference." Of course, "that WorldNetDaily difference" -- fearmongering, hatred and falsehoods -- is exactly why people like Jon Henke want to boycott WND.
Perhaps it might be easier for the beleaguered bias hunters at NewsBusters to explain the ways in which President Obama is not a communist. They spend countless hours documenting the various ways in which the red menace lurks behind nearly everything the president does, and all that time, effort, and money could be saved were they to just post a list enumerating those activities of Obama's that are not Trotsky-inspired. Then they could call it a presidency and get back to the important work of exposing Matt Lauer's terrorist neckwear.
But, unfortunately, that's not to be, as NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein has discovered yet another communist phantom in President Obama's upcoming national address to students on the importance of education. As Finkelstein sees it, this directly from Mao Tse-Tung's playbook, particularly the Department of Education's accompanying study guide asking students: "[W]hat can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally." Finkelstein even challenges the media to "report on the interesting parallel between our president's plan for our children and the approach of another Great Leader from the past."
Joe McCarthy at his most drunkenly paranoid would have been hard-pressed to achieve this level of inane red baiting.
But let's take Finkelstein at his word -- a presidential address to schoolchildren and White House study guides are Maoist indoctrination tactics of the most insidious sort. He is, therefore, duty-bound to denounce former President George H.W Bush, the communist stooge, for delivering his October 1, 1991, national address to schoolchildren, in which he, according to an aide, endeavored to "motivate America's students to strive for excellence; to increase students' as well as parents' responsibility/accountability; and to promote students' and parents' awareness of the educational challenge we face." [Washington Post, 10/2/91]
And Finkelstein surely must denounce former President George W. Bush, that Maoist rat, for posting on the White House website a "teacher's guide" that helped students understand the "freedom timeline" and encouraged them to "explor[e] the biographies of the President, Mrs. Bush, Vice President, and Mrs. Cheney."
And it's not just Finkelstein -- right-wing bloggers everywhere are joining together in a mass freak out over something as anodyne as a presidential address to schoolchildren. Just imagine what would happen if Obama were to do something really controversial, like wear a hat, or use a pencil.
Via Funny or Die:
The Uncler has returned to Washington D.C to find out how his country is doing by talking to some of the experts of the political landscape.
As FishBowlDC notes:
First, only at Politico do writers hype as news events that might happen:
Historically, Obama's fall is fast
Here's the lede [emphasis added]:
President Barack Obama's approval ratings, once seen as historically high, could soon be among the worst early poll numbers for a modern American president...
The Gallup Organization — whose polls show Obama at just 50 percent approval rating less than eight months into his first term — says only two modern presidents, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, saw their approval ratings drop below 50 percent by this time in their presidencies. Ronald Reagan is the next in line, with his numbers dipping after 10 months, while Jimmy Carter retained positive approval numbers for more than a year.
Could Obama's ratings soon become the worst in history? It's possible. Could they soon become the best in history? Also equally possible. (Do you see how pointless this exercise is?)
There are other problems in the Politico report, though. For instance, when readers follow the link to Gallup daily tracking poll, they discover that Obama's approval rating actually stands at 52 percent, not "just 50 percent," as Smith claimed in his report. (The 50 percent mark was hit briefly last week.)
But here's the missing context: In June of 2001 George Bush's approval ratings, according to Gallup, had fallen to 52 percent, just five months into his first term. But for some reason in an item about how Obama's "fall" may be "historically" "fast," Smith forgets to mention that Bush fell faster (by two months) than Obama did.
But no matter. For Smith, the item was a success because last night Karl Rove was tweeting about how Obama's ratings had fallen "faster than any president in modern history." The claim is completely false, but it sure seemed to be on the one Politico wanted to push.
Here are Glenn Beck's September 1 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Conservative columnist Michael Barone attacks the Washington Post for its coverage of Virginia political campaigns with a string of paper-thin complaints.
Barone starts off:
In the 2006 campaign season the Washington Post ran more than a dozen front-page stories on Senator George Allen's reference, at an August 11 campaign stop almost 400 miles from Washington, to an opposition campaign staffer as "Macaca."
What does the fact that the campaign event took place "almost 400 miles from Washington" have to do with anything? It's obviously an attempt to suggest the Post shouldn't have paid attention to something that happened so far from its base of operations. But that ... Well, it just doesn't make any sense.
George Allen was running for the United States Senate. The way the US Senate works is that each Senator represents an entire state. Are the Washington Post's many readers in Northern Virginia supposed to disregard comments a Virginia Senate candidate makes in another part of the state? That may well be the dumbest thing I've ever seen a purported political "expert" write.
Actually, it's probably dishonest rather than stupid: Barone must know the distance of the campaign stop from Washington just doesn't matter, as he doesn't even attempt to explain why it should. Instead, he seems to just hope the insinuation undermines the Post before anyone notices its fundamental irrationality.
Next, Barone threatens to make this kind of inanity an ongoing feature:
To provide a fair perspective, we'll start a Macaca watch, to list stories which make the front page of the Post not on the basis of news value but solely and obviously to defeat the Republican candidate.
Barone's first example of the Post putting a story on the front page "solely and obviously to defeat" a Republican?
Item number one on the Macaca Watch is the Sunday front page story on the thesis Bob McDonnell wrote in 1989 at Regent University where he obtained a masters degree in public policy and a law degree.
Really? The fact that a major-party gubernatorial candidate wrote a thesis arguing that working women and feminists are "detrimental" to the family is not legitimate front-page news? Does anybody really believe that?
Barone explains, continuing directly:
This is, as the story acknowledged, a publicly available document and its contents would certainly be a legitimate part of an article on McDonnell's background and the evolution of his political views.
Well, nice of Barone to acknowledge that such a thesis could be mentioned as part of a larger article. But what does the fact that the Post "acknowledged" the thesis is "publicly available document" have to do with anything? Like the "400 miles" business: nothing. Barone is again trying to undermine the article by describing utterly innocuous facts with loaded language.
Barone, continuing directly:
But the first paragraph of the story, prominently on the front page, sends the culturally liberal voters of Northern Virginia in the Post's local circulation area a pretty clear message: you better not vote for this guy. He went to an "evangelical" school (Regent University Law School), described feminists as "detrimental" and "said government policy should favor married couples over 'cohabitors, homosexuals or fornicators.'"
Oh, I get it: the Post shouldn't have mentioned the stuff about feminists, gays, and fornicators in the first paragraph. I guess it should have been a subordinate clause in paragraph 37.
Next, Barone discusses another Post article about McDonnell's thesis:
Those are pretty fair-minded descriptions of the arguments the two sides are marking. One wonders how they got in here: did a fair-minded editor insist on including that second paragraph over the objections of a partisan reporter, or vice versa?
Well, that's a nifty trick, using "fair minded descriptions of the arguments the two sides are making" as evidence of the Post's partisanship. We're through the looking glass, people.
Barone, continuing directly:
But of course they're not as prominent in the story as the lead paragraph's reference to "what he [McDonnell] wrote about working women, homosexuals and 'fornicators.'"
Is Barone kidding? That paragraph doesn't mention or even characterize what McDonnell wrote; it merely indicates the topic. It contains not even a hint as to why the writings were controversial. McDonnell couldn't have asked for a better lead paragraph in an article about the thesis. It isn't until the sixth paragraph that Post readers are told what McDonnell wrote -- after McDonnell is quoted attacking his opponent, and after McDonnell is paraphrased asserting that his views have changed. And after the Post makes the McDonnell-friendly assertion in it's headlines that McDonnell no longer holds the views he expressed in the thesis.
Yet Michael Barone wants you to think the Post unfairly led with a loaded description of McDonnell's comments. That's why he doesn't actually quote the Post article in any detail; doing so would show how dishonest he's being. The truth is that before the Post article ever gave any indication of why McDonnell's comments were controversial, it:
If this is the best Barone can do, he should retire his "Macaca Watch" before he makes a complete fool of himself.
During an online discussion today, Washington Post television writer Tom Shales made this emphatic point about the media:
CONSERVATIVES DOMINATE THE BROADCAST AND CABLE MEDIA IN THIS COUNTRY. They have very little to complain about in terms of access to an audience.
That led to this exchange later in the discussion:
Atlanta, Ga.: Tom, I'm a big fan, but can you explain this sentence?
CONSERVATIVES DOMINATE THE BROADCAST AND CABLE MEDIA IN THIS COUNTRY
I think you meant to write that Liberals dominate the broadcast and cable media in the country. True, Fox News has the highest cable ratings, but other left-leaning outlets on cable and, certainly, network television are more numerous than right-leaning.
Do you have examples of the conservative dominance?
Tom Shales: Well now let me see. The networks are all owned by Big Business and Big Businessmen certainly tend to be conservatives. The Fox News Channel isn't a minor detail to be lumped in with other networks; it is a 24-hour-a-day conservative propaganda machine; MSNBC is liberal only during prime-time and late-night, don't you think? Phil Donahue is off the air and has been for years; he was too "liberal." Perhaps with a liberal in the White House, the pendulum WILL swing the other way for a while. Chacun a son gout, n'est-ce pas? Yes nothing like some bad high-school French to end a chat. Thank you very, very much for joining in.
Shales forgot to mention the three hours a day that Joe Scarborough hosts on MSNBC, or the consistent tendency of MSNBC anchors like Andrea Mitchell and Norah O'Donnell to adopt conservative-friendly framing. And he didn't mention that CNN's only host with a clear ideological tilt is right-winger Lou Dobbs, he of the Birther conspiracy theories.
But that's picking nits: It's great to see a highly-respected employee of a massive media company acknowledge the conservative dominance on-air, as well as institutional factors like the tendency of news organizations to be owned by "Big Business."
Washington Post television writer Tom Shales shares an anecdote:
I have a short antidote. I mean anecdote. Years ago I was phoned & asked to be on some news show, this happened a lot in years past, and first I was quizzed on the topic to be discussed. And what I said essentially was that I thought both sides of the argument had validity and that it wasn't a clear cut black&white issue. Bam - that was the end of THAT conversation. They wanted someone who totally adhered to ONE view or the other, not somebody who could see both sides. I think this is a very real problem that results in a lot of yelling where there should be an "exchange of ideas."
You see this kind of story from time to time -- another variant is the prospective guest whose services are no longer required after it becomes clear that he or she won't take the position the booker wants a guest to take.
The implication of the story is usually clear: Look how hackish television bookers and producers are; how they rig things to get the shoutfest they want, and to get on-air the opinions they want expressed.
But there's another side these stories: The clear implication is that the pundits you see as guests on television are the people who are most willing to play their assigned role; to tailor their actual views to what they think their hosts want them to say.
So the next time you're frustrated that the guest representing the "other" side is lying, or that the guest representing "your" side is ineffectual, remember: They didn't get there by accident.