But most of the anger we see and hear comes from people who are paid to be angry, on cue, on cable television--as opposed to people with actual grievacnes. Suddenly, the White House press corps goes barking mad over the AIG Bonuses. It is said that the bonuses are an aspect of the bust that the "public" can understand; in truth, the bonuses are an aspect of the bust that reporters can understand. Suddenly, the Obama Administration has a "crisis." The President has to go on television and act as if he's angry, even though he knows these bonuses are the tiniest outcropping of outrageousness.
If you want to be angry about something, get pissed at a media culture that goes beserk about bonuses one week and forgets all about them the next. And be worried, quite worried, about a society for whom anger is a form of entertainment.
We noted over the weekend that the fact-free Malcolm's attack on a group of black journalists who met with Obama last week was cheered by right-wing bloggers whose readers gathered at Malcolm's blog to post hate comments. Comments that clearly violated the Times' state policy of deleting any reader post that:
contains vulgar, profane, abusive, racist or hateful language or expressions, epithets or slurs, text, photographs or illustrations in poor taste, inflammatory attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature.
To date, Malcolm and the Times continue to ignore its own policy; the comments remain on the site.
What do you get in exchange for a history of sexist comments, cluelessness about public opinion, baseless and hypocritical accusations of "elitism," and mindless gushing over George W. Bush?
If you're Chris Matthews, all that is good for roughly $20 million.
Keep that in mind next time Matthews says that Barack Obama is out of touch with regular people because he plays pool.
PS: What's the over/under on the number of public apologies Matthews has to make before the new contract expires?
Pretty much sums up the state of things, no?
Crooks and Liars notes that on CNN's "Reliable Sources" yesterday Kurtz built a conversation around some pointless criticism Sean Hannity had made on TV. CNN guest John Aravosis did a good job pointing out to Kurtz that Hannity, and the completely predictable fact-free attacks he makes on Obama, is irrelevant. Kurtz seemed surprised.
I'd like Howard Kurtz to explain to us why anything Sean Hannity says about Democratic politicians or anything in politics is relevant? He's a right wing talking point machine that misquotes and lies at every turn and gets paid millions of dollars to do so, but to Howard, he's relevant. Relevant to whom and/or what?
In 2005, three Fox hosts reacted to the terrorist attacks on London's mass transit system with callous comments that drew heated denunciations abroad. Brit Hume, for example, said his first reaction upon hearing the news was to see the attacks as a way to make a quick buck in the futures markets. John Gibson suggested the real tragedy was not that the attacks happened, but that they didn't happen in France.
Now Fox has insulted Canada, attacking the country's military even as four Canadian soldiers were killed in attacks in Afghanistan:
The Canadian government has demanded an apology from Fox News for "despicable" and "disgusting" comments made on one of its late-night programs.
The government was incensed by a recent talk-show segment on the American conservative cable network that poked fun at Canada and the Canadian military.
A group of pundits took turns trashing Canada and its reliability as an ally in fighting terrorism last week as four more Canadian soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay requested an apology just before leaving for Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where he was to attend a repatriation ceremony with the families of the latest soldiers killed.
"It's crass, it's insensitive, it's in fact disgusting, given the timing," MacKay said.
"There should be an apology - to the families in particular, and to the Canadian Forces and to Canada generally - given the sacrifice and the commitment that we've demonstrated in Afghanistan."
Canadian soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001 and have spent the last four years in the country's most violent region.
Canada has lost 116 soldiers in Afghanistan.
Media Matters today launched Financial Media Matters (www.FinancialMediaMatters.org) a website dedicated to holding accountable those who report on the financial and business industry as well as those who report on labor, economic, and other fiscal matters. The new website will focus extensively on ensuring that outlets such as CNBC, Fox Business Network, and The Wall Street Journal are held accountable.
"As people across the country struggle with losing their jobs, losing their homes, and losing their nest eggs, Americans are depending on the media -- especially the financial media -- for answers," said Eric Burns, President of Media Matters. He added, "We are launching Financial Media Matters because the public deserves accurate and honest reporting on what is happening and what is being done to fix the economic crisis."
Which reminds me, have you checked out Burns' open letter to CNBC regaring Larry Kudlow potentially using his platform to further his possible candidacy for Senate in Connecticut?
The Noise Machine jumped on Obama's 60 Minutes interview and the fact that CBS's Steve Kroft at one point asked Obama if he was "punch drunk." Kroft was concerned Obama was laughing too much at his very serious questions about the economy. Obama assured him it was just gallows humor.
The president was actually just being polite--he was laughing because the premise of one of Kroft's questions was so dumb. It was about the AIG bonus scandal [emphasis added].
KROFT: There is a perception right now, at least in New York, which is where I live and work.
KROFT: That, um, people feel they thought that you were going to be supportive. And now I think there are a lot of people say, "Look, we're not going to be able to keep our best people. They're not going to stay and work here for $250,000 a year when they can go work for a hedge fund, if they can find one that's still working.
Obama chuckled at the idea that angry executives on The Street who had their pay capped would bolt and go find jobs at hedge funds. He laughed because it's funny.
Hedge funds closures last year totaled $84 billion in worth, and more than 1,400 hedge funds were liquidated in 2008. So yeah, it's pretty funny to think that disgruntled bankers are going to parachute into new hedge funds jobs.
We noted over the weekend that:
Even when announcing how "the public" is reacting to a news story, the press doesn't actually really care what "the public" thinks. The press decided immediately that the AIG story was a "cataclysmic" event for Obama and that "the public" was blaming him.
Polling guru Nate Silver digs through the data and fleshes out that claim:
But so far, and in spite of numerous assertions to the contrary inside both the blogosphere and the mainstream media, there's little evidence that the bonus controversy is hurting Barack Obama.
Newsbusters' Tim Graham is irritated that the Gridiron Dinner didn't feature jokes at President Obama's expense. Graham quotes a Washington Post article to provide evidence of what happened at the dinner. Among those quotes is this passage:
Throughout the night, the Sarah Palin jokes keep coming, as do the Hillary Clinton jokes, unemployment jokes, AIG jokes, death-of-the-newspaper jokes, Obama-as-messiah jokes, jokes about Rahm Emanuel's potty mouth, jokes about Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh and the fate of the GOP -- everything you've heard before, and done better, on "The Daily Show."
Wait a minute: Obama-as-messiah jokes? Aren't those the precise jokes Tim Graham and the Newsbusters crowd (tediously) make every day? Yes, yes they are. In fact, Graham makes one in this very post, which he decorates with what he calls an "Obama messiah image":
So the Gridiron Dinner featured the very same tired Obama-as-messiah jokes Tim Graham just loves -- and yet Graham whines that the dinner didn't feature jokes at Obama's expense.