Joseph Curl and Matthew Mosk at the Washington Times came up with a heck of a non-story story today for the reportedly troubled newspaper, titled, "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." Take a look:
The print article ran on the Times' front page with the headline, "Obama's big tent leaves out GOP bigwigs; Dinner to honor India's leader." Slightly different, but it gets the same point across. From the headlines, one would think that Curl and Mosk had exposed President Obama as a biting partisan, who ran Republicans' invitations to the White House's first state dinner through the shredder while they eagerly awaited them at home. But one would have to read on.
As it turns out, Obama did invite "top Republican lawmakers." They just aren't attending. Let's run through the list of Republicans the Times names in its story, despite its headline:
House Minority Leader John Boehner: He certainly counts as a "top Republican lawmaker." Curl and Mosk write that "Boehner won't be there; he's on Thanksgiving break and home in Ohio." Left out of their story? That Boehner was reportedly invited.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Also a "top Republican" who "received an invitation" but "decided to skip the dinner."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: He was invited, according to the Times, because he is a "prominent Indian-American." You could make a pretty solid argument that Jindal rose quickly in the GOP's ranks after they chose him to give a rebuttal to Obama's first address to Congress. At the time, the Times even decided that Jindal sounded pretty presidential.
Sen. John McCain: Not invited. The Times writes that this is despite the fact that "Obama the candidate pledged a post-partisan presidency."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor: Not invited.
So let's recap: Mosk and Curl named five Republicans in their story who are "not on the A-list" for the White House's state dinner, two of which were apparently not invited. But they frame their story as "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." And of course, the clearest indication that this is a non-story is that Drudge has taken the bait by linking to the article with the outrageously false headline: "Not invited: Republican lawmakers..." Let's hope Times readers can wade through the muck and decide what's actually news today.
Former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd may have nailed down that honor today in the pages of the WashPost.
Behold this car wreck of a nut graph:
Yet while the conventional wisdom has it that Palin is too badly damaged to make a serious run in 2012 -- and I agree that her success is not probable -- it is definitely a possibility that Palin could be elected president of the United States.
Dowd doesn't think Palin can become president (it's "not probable"), but there's "definitely a possibility" that Palin could become president.
Honestly, what more is there to say?
UPDATED: As a bonus, Dowd lied about this:
Polls show that Palin's favorability numbers are a mirror image of those of Obama.
Hey, what do you know, another Beltway media beast deciding that the crazy right-wing claims last week that Obama's bow in Japan was somehow the sign of worldwide submission and that that, of course, represented breaking news.
From Newsweek [emphasis added; no link found]:
The president was pilloried last week for his deep bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito during a visit to Tokyo. Was he groveling before a foreign leader--or just being polite?
And who did the all-important pillorying? Newsweek was mum on that front. I wonder if that's because the unhinged cries about the bow were shouted out by the same crazies who claim Obama is a racist and a communist and a fascist and, yes, not an American citizen. Maybe Newsweek played dumb about who had "pilloried" Obama because it's the same people who cane him every day of the year regardless of what he says or does.
As I note in my column this week:
The sad truth is that the press is still way too impressed with the right-wing shouts and still capitulates to them, and then dutifully translates those shouts into "news" with coverage that seems purposefully dumbed down in order to avoid bringing news consumers to the obvious conclusion that the Obama-hating allegation being "debated" that day is absurd. Or, to avoid bringing news consumers to the equally obvious conclusion that the allegation being "debated" raised more questions about critics making it (i.e. what is wrong with these people?), than it did their target.
But never mind any of that. Newsweek decided to play the bow up as news. And oh yeah, Newsweek forgot to mention that, according to a Fox News poll last week, a overwhelming majority of Americans approved of Obama bowing in Japan, and even a majority of Republicans approved. So much for that "controversy." But for some reason that didn't stop Newsweek from pushing the bowing nonsense as a big deal.
UPDATED: And yes, it was Newsweek's own Katie Connolly who last week wrote that the phony 'debate' over Obama's bow was both "contrived and unhelpful."
Too bad her editors didn't heed her words.
From Richard Cohen's November 24 Washington Post column:
But to reread the speech is also to come face to face with an Obama of keen moral clarity. Here was a man who knew why he was running for president and knew, also precisely, what he personified. He could talk to America as a black man and a white man -- having lived in both worlds. He could -- and he did -- explain to America what it is like to have been a black man of Wright's age and what it is like even now to be a black man of any age.
Somehow, though, that moral clarity has dissipated. The Obama who was leading a movement of professed political purity is the very same person who as president would not meet with the Dalai Lama, lest he annoy the very sensitive Chinese. He is the same man who bowed to the emperor of Japan when, in my estimation, the president of the United States should bow to no man. He is the same president who in China played the mannequin for the Chinese government, appearing at stage-managed news conferences and events -- and having his remarks sometimes censored. When I saw him in that picture alone on the Great Wall, he seemed to be thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" If so, it was a good question.
The Barack Obama of that Philadelphia speech would not have let his attorney general, Eric Holder, announce the new policy for trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court, as if this were a mere departmental issue and not one of momentous policy. And the Barack Obama of the speech would have enunciated a principle of law and not an ad hoc system in which some alleged terrorists are tried in civilian courts and some before military tribunals. What is the principle in that: What works, works? Try putting that one on the Liberty Bell.
From The New Yorker's November 23 profile on Glenn Beck:
If you sensed something of a quiet spell about ten days ago, a lull in the usual media storm, it may have been owing to the fact that Glenn Beck, the energetically hateful, truth-twisting radio and Fox News Channel talk-show host, was absent from the airwaves for a week, to have his appendix removed. A few days after his surgery, he made it clear, via his Twitter feed, that he hated just watching TV, which is, of course, the terrible fate of those of us who don't have talk shows. ("I know how U feel. Watching the news & knowing wht I say 2 my tv makes no difference," he wrote. "I cnt wait 2 giv U wht I think has bn going on.") By the middle of last week, he was back, breathing fire about Obama's response to the Fort Hood shootings.
A headline at the top of Beck's Web site announces what he thinks he's selling: "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment." If by this Beck means that his product is radioactive, he's got that right. We can only hope that its toxic charge will fade over time. But that seems unlikely. At the end of the Elia Kazan-Budd Schulberg movie "A Face in the Crowd," the Arkansas opportunist and petty criminal who has been repackaged, by a radio broadcaster, as a guitar-playing professional hayseed called Lonesome Rhodes (played brilliantly by Andy Griffith), and who has been consumed and ruined by fame, shows his true colors when he bad-mouths his audience over an open mike. The nation abandons him, and, as the movie ends, he's shouting, unheard, into the night. These days, because of the Internet, it's not so easy to get rid of a demagogue. Long after Beck leaves radio and TV, his sound bites will still be with us.
Newsbusters Mike Bates provides the lamest criticism of poll reporting in quite some time:
That private health insurance companies would still be available to compete with a public option is a major consideration in how Americans answer such questions.
Contrary to what [CNN's Kiran] Chetry intimated, her own network's poll doesn't show 56 percent simply favoring "some sort of public option," but rather one that specifically would be in competition with private insurers. She's the one who's confused, not Michael Steele.
That might be a good point if proposed health care reform didn't allow private health insurers to compete with the public option. But it does. So ...
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his November 23 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Let it never be said that Glenn Beck fails to repay those who are loyal to him.
On his show today, Beck told his audience that they should buy gold to protect themselves in the event of a U.S. economic collapse. Minutes later, that same audience was treated to a commercial for Goldline International, featuring a "gold investor and a Goldline client" who cited "our government spending trillions of dollars and counting" and "a debt that will burden our children and grandchildren for years to come" as reasons to buy their product. I wonder how many of Beck's viewers called their hotline on the spot?
Gold investment firms are among Beck's most loyal advertisers. If you follow our regular County Fair post documenting the companies running ads on Beck's program, you know that at least four such firms run ads on Beck's show: Goldline International, Rosland Capital, Superior Gold Group and Merit Financial. Rosland and Goldline in particular run ads on virtually every edition of the program.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." The gold companies are among the last ones that still want to be associated with Beck.
Today, they got their reward.
As my colleague Eric Hananoki noted below, FishbowlDC posted a Fox News memo today acknowledging "a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months" and stating that in the future, "there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors" and "[m]istakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the 'mistake chain,' and those who supervise them... up to and including termination."
I wonder how far up the "mistake chain" this "zero tolerance" policy will apply? Does it extend to the on-air "talent," or is Fox News planning to blame all the mistakes on their assistant producers? If the "talent" misleads the audience, will some kid just out of college pay for it, or is the network actually planning to disciple its hosts, anchors, correspondents, and contributors for their errors?
My guess is that the buck isn't going to stop with the moneymakers on camera. But let's imagine if it did...
After Bill Hemmer falsely claims that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings knew about a "statutory rape" case and "never reported it," he's fired.
Chris Wallace gets suspended after channeling a stream of falsehoods about the Veterans Administration's purported "death book."
That would be accountability... but I really can't see it happening. If anyone pays at Fox News, it's going to be the little fish. Joe Lieberman's party affiliation may be labeled correctly in the future, but the "mistakes" in Fox News' reporting and commentary will be permitted to live on.
In any case, if Fox News' disciplinarians are interested in finding out when their personnel are making mistakes, they should watch this space. Media Matters will continue to comprehensively document Fox News falsehoods - and we hold all levels accountable.
This morning, the Washington Post published Howard Kurtz's 2,600 word profile of Emily Miller, a former GOP flack trying to get her career back on track after getting caught up in the Abramoff scandal. A few hours later, a Post reader had a simple question: Why? And Kurtz had no answer:
Emily Miller story: Why? What was the point -- to get her resume in the Style section so she can get a job?
I read the whole thing and can't figure out for the life of me why it was written and published.
Howard Kurtz: But you read the whole thing. And based on the feedback I'm getting, lots of other folks did too.
Should we write only about people who are already famous? There are thousands of people in Washington who make the town run but ply their trade behind the scenes.
Offered an open-ended invitation to explain what is important or newsworthy about Miller, Kurtz couldn't do it. Worse, it didn't even occur to him to try. He just responded by saying people read the article (many, like his questioner, probably did so in hopes of finding a point, only to be disappointed) and by defending the concept of writing about people who are not already famous (a concept under assault from absolutely nobody.)
It seems rather obvious that the author of a 2,600-word Washington Post article should be able to ask the straightforward question "What was the point." When he can't, there's pretty clearly a problem here somewhere. That the reporter in question is a media critic and still can't see the problem is appalling.