In an article that is burning up the tubes, the Associated Press' Erica Werner reported today that the House Democrats' tri-committee health-care reform proposal would cost "$1.5 trillion." Where does that figure come from? Werner doesn't break it down.
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary analysis scoring "specifications... reflected" in the bill released the same day. That analysis pegged those specs at a cost of a little over $1 trillion. The CBO went out of its way to point out that their estimates "are based on specifications provided by the tri-committee group rather than an analysis of the language released"; there are provisions included in the bill that the CBO did not include in their analysis.
So where did the AP's $1.5 trillion figure come from? Well, AP reports that "a House Democratic aide said the total bill would add up to about $1.5 trillion over 10 years." So Werner got an anonymous source to give her a figure, and with no indication in her article that she consulted anyone inside or outside Congress to confirm that number, reported it as fact. Where is the extra $500 billion coming from on top of the CBO score? What provisions did the CBO not score? Why does this anonymous aide think those provisions cost half a trillion dollars? Does anyone else agree with him or her? Readers wouldn't know from the AP article.
From Fox Business Network host Cody Willard's Twitter:
We called this one, right?
Yesterday we predicted the press would echo the GOP claim that Sen. Patrick Leahy had taken Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "Latina woman" quote out of context during his questioning of her at the hearing. And yes, we noted the irony considering the "Latina woman" story only exists because it's been ripped out of context and that the Beltway press categorically refuses to provide any context.
Well, here's the AP dutifully repeating RNC talking points. (Irony points are doubled because the AP spun RNC talking points within a "Fact Check" feature):
LEAHY SAID: "You said that, quote, you 'would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions.'"
THE FACTS: If that's all Sotomayor said, the quote would barely have mattered to opponents of her nomination. The actual quote, delivered in a 2001 speech to law students at the University of California at Berkeley, was: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Leahy's revision dropped the controversial part of the phrase, the part that has attracted charges of reverse racism.
Message from AP: Context is king!
The AP lectures a Democrat for leaving out all the important stuff regarding the "Latina woman" quote, while the AP itself leaves out all the important stuff regarding the "Latina woman" quote.
At least NRO's Mark Hemingway thinks it's a big deal. And of course, Hemingway concludes the copyediting error confirms all his dark suspicions about Media Matters. When in fact, the oversight simply highlights the extent to which Media Matters goes to make factually and logically sound arguments.
The press release highlighted a research item Media Matters did which pointed out how five major newspapers reported on Sen. Jeff Sessions' opening statement at the confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor without noting in that day's paper that, in 1986, Sessions' nomination as a U.S. district court judge was rejected following allegations that Sessions had a history of making racially charged comments. Meaning, Sessions spent a lot of the day talking about race in the context of Sotomayor's nomination, but the press never connected the dots back to Sessions' own failed confirmation.
What Hemingway highlighted was the fact that the press release we sent out accidentally included an internal edit suggesting a possible change.
Here's the key section of Hemingway's item:
Media Matters, and So Does Proofreading [Mark Hemingway]
Media Matters for America just sent out the following press release:
I wanted to make sure you had seen Media Matters' latest research on the media ignoring allegations that surfaced during Sen. Jeff Sessions' 1986 nomination to the U.S. district court. As reported by the Associated Press, Sessions' "nomination originally drew fire from civil rights groups because of his  prosecution ... of three west Alabama civil rights activists on vote fraud charges. The three were acquitted by a federal court jury, prompting civil rights leaders to charge that the prosecution was an attempt to intimidate black voters." Doesn't the fact that we quote the AP undermine the idea that the media is ignoring the story? Could we say, "research on much of the media ignoring..."
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like additional information.
Media Matters for America
My emphasis added -- I guess somebody forgot to delete that parenthetical edit. I'd always thought that Media Matters tried in vain to prove conservative media bias, but I didn't expect that the organization itself would confirm my suspicion.
Obviously that internal edit suggestion should not have appeared in the final release. But how did it "confirm" Hemingway's suspicion that Media Matters tried in "vain" to prove conservative media bias? (And for the record, Media Matters is not in the "media bias" business.) All the internal edit did was show that before Media Matters signs off on its research items (and press releases), it does its best to make sure its central point is air-tight. In this case, somebody inside Media Matters suggested that because the AP had reported on Sessions' controversial past, the wording of the release should be changed.
But in fact, the AP reference was from the 1980's and did not undercut the Media Matters point that in their July 14 editions, the five major national newspapers gave Sessions a pass on his controversial history when it came to the topic of race.
So despite Hemingway's claim, the copyediting error did nothing to undermine that important point.
I can't get enough of this South Carolina media story about how journalists were flooding the office of Mark Sanford with emails promising friendly coverage if they could land an interview. This was before he admitted to cheating on his wife and using taxpayer money to do it. Back when he appeared to be lost on the Appalachian Trail.
I've already highlighted the questionable efforts by the WSJ's editorial page, as well as ABC News's Jake Tapper. Saving the 'best' for last, let's look at right-wing blogger Erick Erickson.
From The State:
"If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I'm happy to help," wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState.com. On June 23, Erickson ripped "media speculation" about Sanford's whereabouts.
And boy, did Erickson push back at RedState. Here's what he wrote on June 23:
First, we need to be clear on the facts - not the media speculation:
- Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
- Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.
- His political enemies - Republicans at that - ginned up the media story.
- When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.
- Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanford's staff and family knew where he was.
As Blue Texan quickly noted at FDL, pretty much everything Erickson wrote about Sanford's escapade turned out to be false.
But here's the kicker. Contacted by The State regarding the email he sent to Sanford's office offering to "push back" on Sanford's behalf, here's what Erickson said:
"I wasn't trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story," Erickson said by e-mail. "Well that didn't work."
Love that. Erickson wanted to curtail the story even though, at the time, he had no idea what the facts of the story were. Not that that stopped him from blogging a laundry list of falsehoods.
There's something pathological about much of the media's overstatement of public opposition to regulations on gun ownership. Here's Chris Matthews moments ago:
"You take a pro-gun control position in PA statewide, and you're finished. Arlen Specter can't take it. Bobby Casey can't take it. Ed Rendell can't."
And here's reality: A 2006 survey in which Ed Rendell indicated his support for requiring "background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows." He also indicated his desire to "Maintain and strengthen the enforcement of existing state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns." And he did not indicate support for easing or repealing restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns, or allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Then, of course, there's the fact that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama - all of whom support various gun regulations - have won Pennsylvania in the last five presidential elections.
I guess what I'm getting at is that Chris Matthews doesn't have any idea what he's talking about. None.
Journalists like Matthews often conflate the public's belief that people generally have a right to own guns with opposition to any regulation of the ownership and sale of guns, or of when and where they can be carried. That's nonsense. And they overstate the intensity of the purported opposition to gun regulations, treating the topic as a "third rail" in places like Pennsylvania. It isn't - as Rendell, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama have shown.
The right-wing blog crows that Obama was "booed" (!) when he threw out the first pitch of MLB's All-Star game last night. That he got embarrassed on national television:
It's going to be a rough 4 years. He's only been in office 5 months and he's already getting booed.
In fact, when you watch the clip, Obama was cheered uproariously for nearly an entire minute. The feint whisper of a boo bird or two? Perhaps. But only a determined Obama-hater would make those distant rumbles the headline. Honestly, right-ring bloggers are taking this living-in-a-parallel-universe thing to whole new heights.
UPDATED: More from Gateway Pundit:
UPDATE 2: Even Yahoo had to admit Obama was booed...
Actually, here's what Yahoo reported [emphasis added]:
Though Obama was roundly cheered by the All-Star fans, his live presence still didn't attract the applause that George W. Bush did during a taped announcement by the four previous Presidents before the game and some boos could even be heard among the cheers.
UPDATED: FYI, from ESPN.com's report:
Wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, jeans and sneakers, and cheered by the sellout crowd, Obama walked out of the NL's dugout on the first-base side, shook hands with Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial and trotted to the mound.
UPDATED: Aside from declaring a quasi-national holiday over the fact that Obama was roundly booed in St. Louis (shhh, let them dream), right-wingers like Andrew McCarthy are also feasting on the fact that Obama's ceremonial first pitch may have bounced before it reached home plate.
UPDATED: Power Line insists the "weird camera angle" used last night to broadcast Obama's ceremonial first pitch was some sort of media conspiracy in order to prevent viewers from seeing the president's weak toss.
Folks, I cannot make this stuff up.
Here's the AP headline:
Sotomayor refuses to renounce 'wise Latina' words
And here's the lede:
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor declined Wednesday to renounce her comment that a "wise Latina" woman might make a better ruling than a white man without the same life experiences.
Wasn't the news hook from yesterday's hearing that Sotomayor had distanced herself from the "wise Latina" quote and said she'd misspoke?
But here's how the AP reported today's exchange [emphasis added]:
She was answering questions at her confirmation hearing from Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a former state judge and attorney general who said he was troubled by conflicting images he had of the nominee — one from her speeches and writings and another, more moderate snapshot, from her bench rulings.
"I need your help reconciling those two pictures," Cornyn told Sotomayor.
Sotomayor told Cornyn that "my words failed" because they have been taken by many to suggest she believes she'd be a superior judge because of her personal profile and life experiences.
But she also said that "I stand by the words."
Here's the actual exchange with Cornyn in which it's blindingly obvious that when Sotomayor said she "stands by the words," she was referring to yesterday's testimony in which she walked back her "wise Latina" quote. In other words, the AP got the story exactly backwards:
CORNYN: Do you stand by your words of yesterday when you said it was a failed rhetorical flourish that fell flat, that they were words that don't make sense, that they were a bad idea?
SOTOMAYOR: I stand by the words. It fell flat.
We await the AP correction.
UPDATED: No formal correction, but AP cleaned up its flawed Sotomayor article. It now states the obvious that she "acknowledged Wednesday that her 'wise Latina' remarks had stirred controversy and conceded that they'd been taken the wrong way by some."
From a July 15 NewsBusters.org entry: