On yesterday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz led his panel in a discussion of the media's fascination with tabloid and celebrity stories -- during which Kurtz went out of his way to suggest his disapproval:
KURTZ: As we look back at the press's performance in 2009, there were times when the news business was just swept away by strange and sensational stories. These ranged from the death of world famous celebrities to runaway reality shows to high-profile hoaxes. And they all became Category 5 media storms.
So why do journalists allow themselves to be hijacked by frivolous fair?
let me move on to the creeping influence of the reality show culture.
The media went crazy, Jessica, over the Salahis, the White House party crashers.
What about Richard Heene, the balloon boy's father, or Octomom? I mean, the media just seems magnetically drawn to these freak shows.
I actually think that's a good thing, that we are no longer the sole gatekeepers and people can file online on their Facebook -- but it now seems that we have totally abdicated our leadership and we just follow whatever's hot.
But Kurtz never addressed why he is "magnetically drawn to these freak shows." See, few journalists obsess over celebrity news and scandal and "frivolous fair" as much as Howard Kurtz does. For a while there, it looked like he was going to pitch a tent in Tiger Woods' front lawn, for example. And that came after his months-long obsession with David Letterman (an obsession which continues long after everyone else stopped caring.) If Kurtz really wanted to have a meaningful discussion of the media's focus on these stories, he could kick things off by explaining why he devotes so much attention to them. Instead, he pretended it has nothing to do with him.
I'll put this in terms Kurtz can understand: Howard Kurtz leading a discussion of why the media obsesses over tabloid and celebrity stories without ever once explaining why he obsesses over them is like Tiger Woods giving a speech about why athletes have affairs without ever addressing his own.
TPM reported a few days ago that the Washington Times has pulled the plug on TheConservatives.com, the right-wing paper's laughably redundant effort to highlight conservative opinion:
Brian Faughnan, editor of the site, tells us the Times has officially canceled the project.
The site, rolled out in September, is no longer loading. Its Facebook page stopped updating the morning of Dec 23, as did the site's Twitter feed ("House Blue Dog: We'll Cave on Health Care, Too #tcot #right").
Amid the disintegration of the conservative daily paper, Times management said in a Dec. 2 press release that TheConservatives.com would actually be an area of focus and growth as part of a new online strategy. But the site was conspicuously absent from a news release yesterday on the latest staff departures and the Times' future.
When the Times launched TheConservatives.com back in September, it seemed to undermine claims -- by Howard Kurtz, among others -- that the paper had become more "balanced" since John Solomon took over. For his part, Solomon insisted that the Times was considering following up with a similar site for progressives.
Oh, they're being "considered"? That's just super.
If I was trying overcome my newspaper's well-established history of acting as little more than a mouthpiece for the conservative movement, I probably wouldn't start by launching a web site called TheConservatives.com and promising that later, some day, if there's time, we'll think about adding a site for progressives.
Neither did Eric Boehlert:
Just give the WashTimes a few more weeks and they'll launch its new hub of the progressive movement, TheLiberals.com. And no doubt it will be a joint venture with Center for American Progress, right? It will be the awesome-est tool ever to reinvent the left, right?
Well, actually that kind of site is merely being considered, if you want to get technical about it. But no doubt the Rev. Moon, the self-proclaimed sun of God and WashTimes owner, wants badly to become a major player in the progressive world.
Still, a month later, Solomon insisted that launch of TheProgressives.com was imminent, though the paper apparently didn't own the domain name:
"There'll be a site called www.TheProgressives.com as well," said Solomon. "We'll have it up and running in 2-3 weeks."
According to the domain registration directory WhoIs.com, the domain name was purchased by Domain Asset Holdings of Maryland on January 25, and it is up for sale. TheConservatives.com is owned by The Washington Times. Solomon did not answer a follow-up e-mail about the new site.
But TheProgressives.com never did launch, shocking exactly nobody.
The lesson in all of this is not a new one, but it is worth repeating: When right-wing news organizations like The Washington Times insist that they care about balance, they're lying.
Leave it to super-sleuth Matt Drudge to uncover the obvious:
COLD, COLD, COLDER
And BTW, as we noted recently, here were some weather-related headlines that Drudge--always pushing the gee-it's-cold-today-so-global-warming-must-be-a-hoax line--did not link to:
-"Heatwave puts Moscow's white Christmas on hold"
-"Record warmth and strong winds"
-"Hot summer tipped after record November"
-"Record heat in November"
-"Heat, rainfall records for November in SA"
-"November among warmest on record"
-"Lincoln has record November temperatures
-"November enters record books as seventh warmest on record"
This, from the site that can't read WH visitor's logs, doesn't understand pop culture, can't read polling data, doesn't know what a hate crime is, is clueless about the law, openly mocks Christmas, has trouble reading English, and launched one of the most incompetent smear campaigns in internet history.
And that was just 2009!
So yes, by all means Breitbart & co., please explain to us who's "credible."
UPDATED: Keep in mind that Breitbart's Big Government is a "conservative journalism" site that refuses to post corrections. Although honestly, with that kind of track record, can you blame him? If Breitbart actually acknowledged the site's flood of errors, he'd have to hire a full-time editor just to handle corrections.
UPDATED: P.S. Did Breitbart ever figure out who those community organizers were praying to? (That one never gets old...)
UPDATED: Start the clock running. Since I've critiqued Big Government's substance, or lack thereof, it's only a matter of time before Breitbart responds with a wave of incoherent, name-calling tweets. He never deals with substance. Behold the future of "conservative journalism."
UPDATED: Note that it was Breitbart who sat by quietly on Fox News while fellow, factually-challenged guest Ann Coulter tried to re-launch the Obama-attended-a-madrassa smear.
From Jim Hoft's January 3 Gateway Pundit post, headlined "After Passenger Saves Plane From Terrorist Bombing- New Rules Require Heroic Passengers to Stay Seated During Last Hour of Flight":
It's an Obama World... Up is down, big is small, losing jobs is creating or saving jobs, and heroes are asked to be seated.
Yesterday, Jasper Schuringa, a video director and producer from Amsterdam, told CNN how he helped the cabin crew to subdue Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old who reportedly ignited a small explosive device on board the plane Friday as it prepared to land in Detroit.
In response to this courageous act of heroism, the Obama Administration enacted new policies today. The new rules will force heroic passengers to stay in their seats for the final hour of their flight before landing.
Could I possibly make this stuff up?
Althouse even dreams up how Obama would announce to the country his plans to not run for reelection. Hint: It's completely illogical [emphasis added]:
I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing... With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office — the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
That's right, Althouse thinks Obama won't run for reelection because of "partisan divisions."
UPDATED: Some common sense commentary from National Review Online's Mike Potemra, who's equally perplexed by the right-wing blogosphere's reaction to a single, benign Obama photo:
A picture of Obama and Biden going around on the Internet is attracting some negative comments, but I haven't yet seen any real explanation of how the photo is actually unflattering. To me, the president looks like a tired man with a tough job, having to go to a formal event at the end of the day when he'd rather be at home relaxing, and the James Bond-style crossed legs show he's trying to make the best of his lot. I'd appreciate it someone could explain to me what's so bad about the picture; until then, I will suspect that this is a case of the wish being father to the thought.
Fox's Brit Hume says Tiger Woods' faith is inadequate, urges him to become a Christian:
"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith," said Hume. "He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
If this wasn't Fox News, I'd take "Tomorrow, 2 pm" in the when-will-Hume-apologize pool. But it is Fox, so "the Fifth of Never" seems like a safer choice.
This one's a couple days old, but it still deserves to be mocked. And yes, it's by the GOP's favorite polling firm, Rasmussen, which seems to have a patent on asking really dumb, and misleading, polling questions designed solely to generate dubious "buzz."
Behold the latest [emphasis added]:
The good news for Senator Ben Nelson is that he doesn't have to face Nebraska voters until 2012.
If Governor Dave Heineman challenges Nelson for the Senate job, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows the Republican would get 61% of the vote while Nelson would get just 30%.
That's right, Rasmussen is now polling hypothetical election match-ups that may or may not take place 33 months from now. I believe in the polling industry the Rasmussen survey would be what's known as "utterly useless."
UPDATED: Turns out lots of people have problems with Rasmussen's work.
The first Sunday show lineup of the New Year looks to be focused on the aftermath of the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253.
Among the guests appearing tomorrow will be Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on CNN's State of the Union. Will guest host Gloria Borger ask DeMint about his vote against the FY 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which included $4,358,076,000 in funding for screening operations by TSA, $1,116,406,000 of which was specifically for explosives detection systems? [Senate Vote #323, 10/20/09]
Or how about his vote against the Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which implemented recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including several provisions related to airline security? [Senate Vote #284, 7/26/07]
Terry Moran, who is guest-hosting ABC's This Week, is including Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) on his roundtable. Given Dick Cheney's recent attacks on President Obama for not using the phrase "war on terror," will Moran remind the Congressman of his own May 2008 comment that "the phrase 'war on terror' was the 'dumbest term...you could use'"? [Financial Times, 5/28/08]
Finally, Bill Kristol will take his regular spot on Fox News Sunday's panel. Will the other panelists allow him to blame Northwest 253 on Obama, or will they remind him of his previous statement that 9/11 is part of Clinton's "legacy"? [WeeklyStandard.com, 8/28/08]
May's December 31 post on National Review Online's blog The Corner, headlined "A Bipartisan Proposal":
Step (1): Return all Gitmo detainees to Yemen.
Step (2): Use Predator missiles to strike the baggage-claim area 20 minutes after they arrive.
Just an idea.