More often than you'd think, Media Matters president Eric Burns is confused for former Fox News host Eric Burns. Well, the other Eric Burns (the former Fox News one, not the Media Matters one) has a pretty great piece up over on the Huffington Post about his former employer, here are some choice excerpts but be sure to read the entire thing:
I am not the Eric Burns who heads Media Matters, the liberal watchdog group. I am the Eric Burns who used to host Fox News Watch on the right-wing partial-news-but-mostly-opinion network. In the past year and a half, since departing from Ailes and friends, I have been much more silent about media matters than my namesake.
I speak out now because it is the time of year when one is supposed to count blessings. I have several. Among them is that I do not have to face the ethical problem of sharing an employer with Glenn Beck.
Actually, Beck is a problem of taste as well as ethics. He laughs and cries; he pouts and giggles; he makes funny faces and grins like a cartoon character; he makes earnest faces yet insists he is a clown; he cavorts like a victim of St. Vitus's Dance. His means of communicating are, in other words, so wide-ranging as to suggest derangement as much as versatility.
I ask myself what I would have done if I worked at Fox now. Would I have quit, as the estimable Jane Hall did? Once a panelist on my program, Hall departed for other reasons as well, but Beck was a particular source of embarrassment to her, even though they never shared a studio, perhaps never even met.
I think . . . I think the answer to my question does not do me proud. I think, more concerned about income than principle, I would have continued to work at Fox, but spent my spare time searching avidly for other employment. I think I would not have been as admirable as Jane Hall. I think I would not have reacted to Beck with the probity I like to think I possess.
But, in my defense, I would never have gone out in public without wearing those funny black eyeglasses with no glass, bushy eyebrows and a fake nose.
Yesterday, my colleague Simon Maloy pointed out that one of the hallmarks of conspiracy theorists is their overwhelming desire to believe in their theory in spite of any and all evidence to the contrary. An hour later, a blogger at Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com website demonstrated another such feature: a complete inability to accept a simpler, more prosaic explanation instead of an extraordinarily complicated one that ties in all of their personal hobgoblins.
You see, the simple explanation is just too normal, too prosaic, to be accepted by these people. John F. Kennedy was too important a figure to have been struck down by a lone nut; it is far more satisfying to blame his death on a conspiracy involving some combination of the Mafia, LBJ, the CIA, and the Soviet and Cuban governments. Barack Obama simply MUST be an illegitimate president, so he couldn't have been born in Hawaii, as his birth certificate and local newspaper notices indicate: instead, he and his family must have woven a web of lies for decades to disguise his actual Kenyan birthplace.
In his post, "Stage Right," a "veteran of the Broadway theatre industry," adopts this conspiratorial line in discussing the August altercation between Kenneth Gladney and several SEIU union reps. Breitbart and his cronies have taken up Gladney's "cause" over the past months, claiming that he was savagely beaten and is the victim of a hate crime; last week, the union reps were charged with "misdemeanor ordinance violations."
I won't pretend to know what happened that night in St. Louis; I don't know who started the fight or why. But the simplest possible explanation seems to be this: sometimes, people get into fights. They get into an argument, tempers flare, and blows are thrown. Fights are common, not a massive aberration that requires an extraordinary explanation.
But portraying what happened as a common fight is boring. Doing what Stage Right did, and blaming a conspiracy involving the White House, the House Democratic Leadership, the DNC, and HCAN, is not:
Here are the facts (circumstantial though they may be) that show a clear level of coordination from the House Democratic Leadership ("in close coordination with the White House") all the way down to the SEIU staff members now facing charges for beating Kenneth Gladney:
- July 31st: House Democratic Leaders state they are coordinating with the White House and HCAN to ensure they are implementing grass roots efforts in August.
- August 4th: HCAN releases an instruction sheet with a plan to "Fight Back Against the Right" with details on security, confiscating posters and leaflets, loading the room with supporters, providing pre-written and rehearsed questions and suggestions on how to keep protestors out of the town halls
- August 5th: Speaker Pelosi derisively callsprotesters"Astro-turf" and says they are coming to these meetings carrying swastikas. DNC releases a video calling theprotestersan "Angry Mob".
- August 6th: White House political strategists David Axelrod and Jim Messina meet with Congressional Democratics with rules and suggestions for August town hall meetings. Messina is quoted saying: "If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard."
Can one conclude that it is common knowledge that one of the ways unions in America have exercised their power in the past is by using intimidation tactics and physical violence? Is that a stretch? And when the Democratic Leadership ("in close coordination with the White House") charge the unions who support them with the responsibility of coordinating grass roots efforts at Town hall meetings, wouldn't a reasonable person conclude that they were asking the unions to "punch back twice as hard" on their behalf?
THIS is why Kenneth Gladney was beaten. And McCowans, Molens, SEIU, HCAN, the House Democratic Leadership and yes, the White House is who did it.
It's an explanation that will certainly look interesting once it's been slapped up on Beck's chalkboard. In its attempt to blame everyone Stage Right hates for this incident, it neglects to consider questions such as why, exactly, the White House and Democratic leadership would have wanted Kenneth Gladney beaten.
We should consider, of course, the possibility that he was in possession of Barack Obama's real birth certificate.
The Financial Times' John Gapper thinks the nasty Rupert Murdoch is… back?
The Rupert Murdoch we all know and love (or love to hate) is an aggressive, insurgent media tycoon who prefers to fight against entrenched media forces and insult them while doing so.
The Rupert Murdoch we have seen in the past couple of years is a humble pussycat who says nice things about how News Corp has to learn to play nicely with the digital generation.
Thankfully, nasty Rupert seems to be back.
Had he every really left? Sure, Gapper is talking more specifically about the business end of News Corp., but surely there's more to Murdoch that one could describe as "nasty."
How about agreeing with Glenn Beck that President Obama is a racist -- errr, made a "very racist comment"?
What about letting Fox News morph from a conservative cable news outlet to an all out partisan political operation?
We could spend an entire day rattling off the evidence that regular readers of this blog are already well aware of, but we'll save our breath.
Huffington Post's Danny Shea writes:
The Wall Street Journal has scrubbed an article from its website after learning that it was plagiarized from several sources.
"A Nov. 10 "New Global Indian" online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine," a notice to readers now reads where the column once lived.
"In the column, 'Homeward Bound,' about H-1B visa holders returning to India, Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers' names to individuals who appear to be fabricated," the notice continued. "The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal's Web sites."
The original article — near 1,200 words — described Sarika as "a graduate student and freelance writer who hails from India and currently lives in New York City."
Now if News Corps could just get a handle on Fox News' penchant for doctoring of video, we'd have some real progress.
Back in April, Joe Scarborough claimed that President Obama "has never received a paycheck ... he's never received a check from a profitmaking business in his entire life, not one check. Think about it." Had Scarborough done more than just "think," he could have found evidence that would have quickly disproven his claim.
Today, Scarborough was at it again. Prompted by Rep. John Boehner's near repeat of his April claim, Scarborough and the Morning Joe crew complained about the Obama administration's purported dearth of private sector experience:
BOEHNER [CLIP]: You have to remember that President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid have never run a business, much less ever had a real job in a private sector. How would they know what it takes to create real jobs? So the American people continue to ask where are the jobs?
SCARBOROUGH: Mike Allen of Politico made the mistake of coming on this show, and we asked him to name one person in Barack Obama's inner circle that had ever run a business. And he stumbled and stammered around for a while. And basically couldn't name anybody. Can you?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: No. I think one of the issues --
SCARBOROUGH: Is this unprecedented?
ZUCKERMAN: I've never seen anything like this in the sense that there isn't a single person with serious business experience at any senior level of that administration that I know of.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you figure out how to turn an economy around if you don't have a single person in the president's inner circle that's ever created a private sector job?
Not a single one!
All those talking heads and they couldn't find something like this?
In Obama's Cabinet, at least three of the nine posts that Cembalest and Beck cite -- a full one-third -- are occupied by appointees who, by our reading of their bios, had significant corporate or business experience. Shaun Donovan, Obama's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, served as managing director of Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., where he oversaw its investments in affordable housing loans.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu headed the electronics research lab at one of America's storied corporate research-and-development facilities, AT&T Bell Laboratories, where his work won a Nobel Prize for physics. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in addition to serving as Colorado attorney general and a U.S. senator, has been a partner in his family's farm for decades and, with his wife, owned and operated a Dairy Queen and radio stations in his home state of Colorado.
Two of the Obama appointees could be considered entrepreneurs -- the very people Beck would "unleash." Vice President Joe Biden, officially a Cabinet member, founded his own law firm, Biden and Walsh, early in his career, and it still exists in a later incarnation, Monzack Mersky McLaughlin and Browder, P.A. (The future vice president also supplemented his income by managing properties, including a neighborhood swimming pool.) And Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag founded an economic consulting firm called Sebago Associates that was later bought out by a larger firm.
It's also worth noting that if you examine a larger group of senior Obama administration appointees, you'll find that more than one in four have experience as business executives, according to a June study by National Journal.
WorldNetDaily is currently in full-fledged snit mode because the United Nations won't grant WND's Jerome Corsi (remember him?) press credentials to cover the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. According to WND, The U.N. denied the press credentials because "advocacy publications of nongovernmental or nonprofit organizations do not qualify for media accreditation."
WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah responded by stating that WND is not a part of a nonprofit organization, having been spun off from the Farah-founded nonprofit Western Journalism Center in 1999. We'll take Farah's word on that, even though he has long refused to make the names of WND's investors public. But Farah also claims:
Neither is it an advocacy organization, though, like all news organizations, it does publish a broad spectrum of opinion -- we believe, in fact, the broadest ideological spectrum of any news organization in the world.
In a word, bollocks. WND's "broad spectrum of opinion" is mere window-dressing. Out of the 50 or so regular columnists that WND publishes, only two -- Bill Press and Ellen Ratner -- are genuine liberals. The rest are conservative, libertarian, right-wing Christian, or some combination thereof. On any given day, liberal opinions at WND are outnumbered by conservative opinions at WND by at least 6-to-1.
And Farah's claim that WND is not an "advocacy organization" is simply laughable. Just because WND is a for-profit operation doesn't mean it doesn't advocate -- it does. More to the point, WND advocates against the very organization from which it demands press credentials.
From an October 2007 column by Farah, headlined "Death to the U.N.!":
Today is United Nations Day. How shall we celebrate?
Easy. We ought to be mourning the continued life of this globalist monstrosity, not celebrating it.
I understand I'm wasting my breath. Too many Americans have bought into the lie that only a worldwide body such as the United Nations can really move us closer to peace. Even most of those who don't care for the United Nations don't really consider it to be a threat to their freedom.
There's just no place for the United States in the United Nations. And there's just no place for the United Nations in the United States.
I wish my fellow Americans had the courage and foresight to stand up tall against the march toward global political and economic unions that afford the American people no accountability, that recognize no inalienable rights and that create supranational governments that can eventually lead only to tyranny on a worldwide scale.
The United Nations is not just, as many Americans suspect, a group of incompetent busybodies. It is, instead, a global criminal enterprise determined to shift power away from individuals and sovereign nation-states to a small band of unaccountable international elites. Just think oil-for-food scandal. Just think Rwanda genocide. Just think of the incredible human-rights and sexual-abuse scandals by "peacekeeping" forces in Africa and elsewhere.
Now's the time to stand up for our sovereignty and our individual rights by demanding that we withdraw from the United Nations and, most importantly of all, stop funding this madness with U.S. taxpayer dollars.
Even more laughably, Farah suggests in a December 2 column that WND can be an "impartial witness" to the U.N.'s "shenannigans." Really? What part of "Death to the U.N.!" suggests any capability of impartiality on WND's part?
Farah is trying to frame this as a free-press issue. But at no point does Farah explain why he's submitting to the process of seeking press credentials from an organization whose legitimacy he doesn't recognize and which he wants to see destroyed -- or why the U.N. should grant credentials to a "news" organization that advocates for its destruction.
Sometimes I think folks at Rasmussen sit around and brainstorm ways to concoct utterly pointless poll questions and then manufacture convoluted ways to misinterpret the results. The latest re: global warming is just the another example of why lots of serious news people just don't take Rasmussen, and its never-ending supply of GOP-friendly polling results, seriously.
Headline from Rasmussen:
Americans Skeptical of Science Behind Global Warming
It's an interesting headline considering there's nothing from its own polling results to back up that claim. I'm not exaggerating. There is literally nothing in this poll that suggest "Americans" are skeptical about global warming science (i.e. they're skeptical about what causes global warming), especially since a plurality of respondents told Rasmussen global warming remains a very serous problem. Even worse, Rasmussen never asked Americans if they were "skeptical of the science behind global warming."
No joke. The Rasmussen headline makes the loud claim that Americans don't believe the science behind global worming. But uh-oh, Rasmussen never asked Americans about the science behind global warming. (Instead, the polling firm asked a vague question about what scientist do with their research.)
The Rasmussen lede:
Most Americans (52%) believe that there continues to be significant disagreement within the scientific community over global warming.
This just seems dumb. If Rasmussen wanted to know if American think lots of scientists, y'know, don't believe in global warming, than why didn't they just ask that question. But as is Rasmussen tradition, they asked a question in what seemed to be a purposefully vague manner in order to attract as many respondents as possible. i.e. Well, yeah there's probably disagreement among scientists. But that doesn't mean lots of them deny global warming is real.
Trying to tie the scientist question to current events, Rasmussen stressed this:
But just in the last few days, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs seemed to reject any such disagreement in a response to a question about global warming, "I don't think … [global warming] is quite, frankly, among most people, in dispute anymore."
But note that Gibbs wasn't talking about global warming being in dispute among scientists, he was referring to "most people." And again, according to Rasmussen's own polling, most respondents agreed that global warming is a very serious problem, which backs up Gibbs' suggestion.
Even more dumbness:
Even as Obama and senior members of Congress are pushing major anti-global warming initiatives, Americans overwhelmingly believe they should focus on the economy instead. Seventy-one percent (71%) say the bigger priority for U.S. national leaders is stimulating the economy to create jobs. Only 15% say they should focus instead on stopping global warming to save the environment.
Right, because exactly which "senior members of Congress" have announced that stopping global warming takes precedence over creating new jobs in the U.S.? That stopping global warming should be the focus "instead" of creating new jobs? Oh yeah, nobody. But yep, Rasmussen did a poll about it.
UPDATED: The percentage of American who, according to Rasmussen's own polls, think global warming is a very serious problem hasn't budged--and has not decreased--in the last 20 months. But Rasmussen ignores that fact and instead manufactured a phony, sweeping claim that Americans are skeptical about the science behind global warming, and based that conclusion on a question Rasmussen never even asked.
One of the few legitimate grievances Sarah Palin had regarding the way she was treated during the 2008 presidential campaign centered on the ludicrous questions about her son Trig's birth. There was never any real reason to question whether she was, indeed, Trig's mother, and the few online media types who flogged the bogus story line certainly didn't do themselves any credit.
That said, you'd think Palin would be particularly sensitive and careful regarding questions of birth and parentage. Alas, no ...
As Salon's Alex Koppelman detailed, the former Alaska governor appeared on a conservative radio program on Thursday and was asked if she would "make [Obama's] birth certificate an issue" should she run for president. Palin said that "the public, rightfully, is still making it an issue," and that "it's a fair question" to wonder whether the president was born in the United States. She went on to denounce, once again, the "weird conspiracy theory freaky thing that people talk about, that Trig isn't my real son," but then counseled that "maybe we should reverse that and use the same type of thinking on [Obama]."
There are lots of things to unpack here, so let's get to it.
Lying: President Obama's birthplace and nationality have been established beyond any credible doubt -- he was born in Hawaii, in 1961, and is and always has been an American citizen. It is not a "fair question" to suggest otherwise.
Hypocrisy: What little credibility her attacks on the media had were based largely on the poor treatment she received from isolated quarters of the blogosphere regarding the birth of her son. For her to continue to complain about that while simultaneously questioning the president's birth, and suggesting that she would be justified in doing so, is hypocritical and disgusting beyond anything I thought Palin capable of. And let's not forget that when Palin's family first became an issue in the press shortly after McCain tapped her, Obama came to her defense: "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."
Political stupidity: If Palin does, indeed, have political ambitions, then she's doing everything she possibly can to scuttle them by embracing Birtherism. There's a reason that national-level elected Republicans don't (for the most part) wade into the Birther swamp -- because the issue is so radioactively crazy that it would be political suicide to do so. If news reports are to be believed, Lou Dobbs was dropped by CNN because he indulged his Birther curiosities. It was hardly the first crazy thing Dobbs did while at CNN, but it was that special kind of crazy that made CNN say "enough." In short, anyone who has the Birther stain is not going to be a success in the political mainstream.
But let's not lose sight of the fact that the only reason we're talking about this at all is because John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be the next vice president of the United States. Perhaps David Gregory can ask the Arizona senator his thoughts on Palin's Birther tendencies on this Sunday's Meet the Press.
Laura Bush's former flak is en fuego today!
Take back Al Gore's Oscar, 2 Academy members demand in light of Climategate
Wow, Academy members, well at least 2, are really mad, and Malcolm dutifully treats their demands as news. But naturally as a proud member of the GOP Noise Machine, Malcolm leaves out any context about the absurd "demand."
For instance, exactly how many Academy members are there? The answer would help put the "2" in context, right? Well, there are more than 6,000 Academy members. In other words, approximately .05 percent of the Academy members want Gore to lose his Inconvenient Truth Oscar. But nonetheless, the Dem-hating Malcolm thinks the claim is news. (Hello Drudge link!)
UPDATED: More serial mendacity from Malcolm. He claims the so-called "Climategate" emails were "leaked." Of course, they were stolen, not "leaked."
Under the header "Leaving the Right," Andrew Sullivan explains his departure from the conservative movement:
... I've always been fickle in partisan terms. To have supported Reagan and Bush and Clinton and Dole and Bush and Kerry and Obama suggests I never had a party to quit.
For these reasons, I found it intolerable after 2003 to support the movement that goes by the name "conservative" in America.
I cannot support a movement that exploded spending and borrowing and blames its successor for the debt.
And yet he supported Reagan, and Bush after Reagan -- presidents who exploded spending and borrowing. He supported Clinton, who dramatically reduced the deficit in his first term, and then abandoned him for Dole. Then, after Clinton balanced the budget in his second term, Sullivan supported Bush the Second. Huh?
Back to Sullivan:
I cannot support a movement that so abandoned government's minimal and vital role to police markets and address natural disasters that it gave us Katrina and the financial meltdown of 2008.
It's just now occurring to Sullivan that the conservative movement isn't big on policing markets? Really? Where was he during, for example, the savings & loan meltdown of the 1980s?
I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.
Welcome to the party, Andrew. Didn't you notice what Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed and the rest were up to in the 1980s and 1990s, or how much influence they had on the Republican Party?
I cannot support a movement that is deeply homophobic, cynically deploys fear of homosexuals to win votes, and gives off such a racist vibe that its share of the minority vote remains pitiful.
Yet Sullivan supported the Ronald Reagan who kicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi and the George Bush who campaigned on Willie Horton. And -- I can't believe this is news to Andrew Sullivan -- the hostility of the Republican Party and the conservative movement towards gays is not exactly a recent development.
Nor is any of this:
I cannot support a movement that criminalizes private behavior in the war on drugs.
I cannot support a movement that regards gay people as threats to their own families.
I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.
I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy.
I cannot support a movement that refuses ever to raise taxes, while proposing no meaningful reductions in government spending.
And yet Sullivan supported Reagan, and Bush after him. He supported Dole, and Bush, both of whom campaigned on massive tax cuts that would have led to the deficits Sullivan says he can't abide (Bush's, in fact, did so.) In fact, the most famous tax increase backed by a Republican president in decades came in George H.W. Bush's first term -- and Sullivan promptly abandoned him for Clinton.
I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.
Rush Limbaugh was so intertwined with the GOP in the early 1990s that when Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 elections, they nicknamed him the "majority maker" and made him an honorary member of the class of '94. Sullivan supported the GOP presidential candidate in the very next election, and took another decade before deciding the GOP's embrace of Limbaugh was a deal-breaker. For those who were not aware of Rush Limbaugh 15 years ago, let me assure you that he was not speaking favorably of gay rights or deficit-reducing taxes or environmental protection or evolution at the time. He was attacking all of that, when he wasn't busy suggesting Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered.
To paraphrase Reagan, I didn't leave the conservative movement. It left me.
Yes, but it left Sullivan long ago, if it was ever with him. The question is why it took Sullivan so long to realize that. But Sullivan simply tells us the modern conservative movement runs up massive deficits and is, if not racist and homophobic, quite eager to exploit racism and homophobia. Well, duh. Some of us have known that for quite some time. If Sullivan wants to contribute something interesting, he can tell us what took him so long.
Deficits, bigotry and financial meltdowns are not particularly popular. And yet the conservative movement and the Republican Party enjoyed great success while running up massive deficits, embracing bigotry and refusing to regulate markets, with disastrous results. They enjoyed that success not only because of people who say they support deficits and bigotry, but because of those who say they cannot support such things but do so anyway.
I'm sure it feels good for Sullivan to denounce the evils of the conservative movement, but it would be more useful -- and more honest -- if he would explain his role in making them possible.