This continues to be one of the more amusing sidebar's to the Teabugging story -- the fact that Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism is requesting corrections from media outlets that mistakenly reported that James O'Keefe had been charged with trying to "bug" Sen. Mary Landrieu's office. Breitbart's crew is trying to show how biased the nasty liberal media is.
However, there's a ginormous exception connected to the corrections drive: Breitbart is asking for corrections, except from right-wing media sites who made the exact same "bug" error. Why? Because Breitbart isn't interesting with holding journalists 'accountable.' (He doesn't have the foggiest idea of what that even means.) He's only interested in trying to score political points because Breitbart himself isn't a journalist, but rather a factually challenged ideologue.
So, considering that O'Keefe is giving an exclusive interview to Fox News' Sean Hannity tonight, and I guarantee O'Keefe is going to whine about how the media made errors in reporting the "bug" angle, here's my simple challenge to O'Keefe: I dare you to go on the Murdoch-owned Fox News and scold the Murdoch-owned New York Post for botching the "bug" story.
In fact, I triple dog dare you.
Here's the lede from today's Washington Post article about President Obama's budget:
The $3.8 trillion budget blueprint President Obama is submitting to Congress on Monday calls for billions of dollars in new spending to combat persistently high unemployment and bolster a battered middle class. But it also would slash funding for hundreds of programs and raise taxes on banks and the wealthy to help rein in soaring budget deficits.
To reduce deficits, he would impose new fees on some of the nation's largest banks and permit a range of tax cuts to expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year, in addition to freezing non-security spending for three years.
The budget includes $1.4 trillion in new taxes over the next decade, including the expiration of Bush administration tax breaks that benefit families making more than $250,000 a year.
Not once does the Post indicate that the "new taxes" and "raise[d] taxes" in the form of the expiration of the Bush tax breaks for families earning more than $250,000 a year are exactly what are provided for under current law -- a built-in feature of Bush's tax cut package. Portraying the decision to allow tax cuts to expire as scheduled as a tax increase -- or, worse, "new taxes" -- fundamentally skews tax policy debates in favor of conservatives, as I explained last year:
What makes all of this even more absurd is that the increase in the top tax rates probably shouldn't be considered a tax hike in the first place. Obama's tax rate proposal merely allows the Bush tax cuts to expire as they were designed. See, when the Republican Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the tax cuts in 2001, they decided not to make them permanent, scheduling them to expire in 2010. Obama's proposal simply allows that to happen for the top rates -- it makes no change to what is already going to happen under current law.
If the expiration, on schedule, of tax cuts that were always scheduled to expire is described as a policy of raising taxes, that makes a mockery of the entire tax policy debate of the past decade. It rigs tax debates in favor of Republicans, who find it easier to argue for tax cuts for the wealthy if they can argue that the cuts won't cost very much -- by making them "temporary" -- but who then get to argue that the scheduled expiration that they included in order to make the cuts look affordable would constitute a tax increase. The GOP gets to have it both ways, describing tax cuts as temporary when it helps them, and pretending they were intended to be permanent when it helps them. It's no great surprise Republicans want to have it both ways -- but that doesn't mean the media should go along.
Later in today's Washington Post article:
The new budget projects that the deficit will increase by $8.5 trillion over the next decade, a slight improvement over the $9 trillion, 10-year increase that the White House projected in August. Still, the deficit spending would drive borrowing from private sources to more than 68 percent of the economy by the end of next year, and to 77 percent of the economy by 2020.
I doubt many people flinched at the phrase "deficit spending" -- it has been a common element of news reports about the budget for years. But when was the last time you saw the phrase "deficit tax-cutting" in a news report? You have probably never seen it. It should be obvious that when the media employs a derisive short-hand phrase to describe spending during a time of deficits, but does not do so for tax cuts, that has a distorting effect on the public discourse.
Indeed, the Post carries the Republicans water, making their attacks on spending for them:
But Republicans are more likely to highlight the fact that a jobs bill would drive this year's budget deficit even higher than the record $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.
Incredibly, the Post goes on to quote Republicans denouncing Obama's "fiscal discipline" and calling for further tax cuts -- without once indicating that those tax cuts would be "deficit tax cuts," or noting that they would open Republicans up to criticism for policies that would increase the deficit. The Washington Post apparently thinks only Democrats can be criticized for increasing the deficit -- and only through spending, not tax cuts.
This is becoming rather comical, but the facts remain stubborn. We're about to see what could be the first snow-less Winter Olympics, thanks to an extended warm streak in Vancouver, Canada. For the conservative media, which was atwitter over weather headlines about how cold it was earlier this month, this is very bad news.
Specifically, it appears that The Drudge Report and Fox News remain in complete denial. Of course, they don't want to cover -- let alone hype -- the story because it would uncut their beloved premise that cold weather in January means there is no climate change. So of course, news of an prolonged warm streak in Canada doesn't sit well with them, so they just play dumb.
But if Drudge or Fox News editors every get curious, here's a whole new batch of no-snow-in-Vancouver headlines they might want to check out:
Just to add to Simon Maloy's point below about how Roger Ailes today claimed that Glenn Beck had "apologized" for the one "unfortunate" thing he'd said on Fox News over the last 13 months.
Of course, the most famously "unfortunate" thing Beck said last year was when he called the president of the United States (i.e. "this guy") a "racist" with a deep-seated hatred of white people. But Beck never apologized. Indeed, his stubborn refusal to apologize is why he's lost nearly 100 advertisers since his "racist" charge. But now Ailes seems to be spinning the facts to suggest Beck did apologize.
So here's my question: If Ailes is actually now conceding that Beck's "racist" attack was "unfortunate," then why didn't Ailes say so in real time when the shocking comment was made on Ailes' cable channel?
As I noted last September:
Despite media reports to the contrary, Fox News executives explicitly refused to distance themselves from Beck's claim that President Obama is a "racist," let alone reprimand the host for the shockingly hateful comments. Fox News' initial knee-jerk response of failing to question any of the gutter rhetoric Beck dishes out, and the cable news giant's decision to treat the transgression as a nonstory unworthy of a serious response, of course, is what led to the boycott drive.
The fact that nobody anywhere inside Fox News had enough sense to hold Beck accountable or to even suggest that calling the president of the United States (aka "this guy") a "racist" on national television was well outside the bounds of professional broadcasting -- the fact that Fox News could not even for a moment publicly contemplate that Beck had stepped over a glaringly obvious line of common decency -- is why those same executives have been forced to watch as an avalanche of A-list advertisers go public with their plans to make sure they are no longer associated with Beck.
Looking back, it's hard to imagine how executives at Fox News could have handled Beck's "racist" smear any worse. And it's hard to imagine how Fox News could have inadvertently cultivated the ground any better for a sweepingly successful advertising boycott than the cavalier way they dealt with Beck's presidential race-baiting.
From NewsMax.com's January 31 "Insider Report":
1. 'Draft Kudlow' Movement Picking Up Steam
A rising voice is calling for CNBC talk host and supply-side economist Larry Kudlow to challenge liberal New York Sen. Chuck Schumer in this year's election.
And Kudlow said he is going to give a possible run "careful consideration."
Newsmax first disclosed that Kudlow could have political aspirations back in March 2009, reporting that he was mulling a bid for Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd's Senate seat from Connecticut. Kudlow announced several weeks later that he wasn't running.
But on Jan. 20, Newsmax reported that "the New York political scene is buzzing with talk of a movement to draft Larry Kudlow" to run as a Republican challenger to Schumer.
Several media outlets cited and/or linked to the Newsmax story in the days that followed, including Politico and The Village Voice in New York.
Then on Sunday, Jan. 24, the Buffalo News reported that Michael Caputo, who served as a speechwriter for Rep. Jack Kemp, is leading an online movement to draft Kudlow for the race, and has set up a Web site at www.draftkudlow.com.
"No one in New York State deserves to stay home more than Chuck Schumer, and I really believe Larry Kudlow is the one person who can send him home," he told the newspaper.
And Caputo told Newsmax: "It's time for Chuck Schumer to be sent packing."
Kudlow has served as chief economist for several Wall Street firms, and was an economics adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He now runs his own economics research firm, hosts CNBC's "The Kudlow Report" and "The Call" programs, and hosts "The Larry Kudlow Show" on WABC Radio on Saturdays.
Caputo and his group aim to collect 100,000 signatures online to help convince Kudlow to enter the Senate race.
For reasons that still aren't exactly clear, Fox News president Roger Ailes participated in the roundtable discussion on ABC's This Week earlier today, appearing alongside This Week regulars Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and George Will. When Huffington challenged Ailes on Glenn Beck's inflammatory rhetoric, Ailes defended his ratings wunderkind, saying: "He did say one unfortunate thing which he apologized for, but that happens in live television."
Ailes declined to go into specifics, so we'll just have to guess as to what he was talking about. Of course, the most memorably "unfortunate" thing Glenn Beck has said as a member of the Fox News family was his declaration that President Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people." But here's the thing -- Beck never apologized for calling Obama a "racist." He apologized for the way he "phrased" the statement, but said that it's a "serious question" that needed to be asked.
So that leaves us with two possible situations:
First, Roger Ailes used his first guest spot on This Week to quite brazenly lie about his network's rising star.
Second, Roger Ailes was talking about one of the many other "unfortunate" things Beck has said on Fox News, to the exclusion of the "racist" smear. That would mean Ailes is in the same camp as his boss, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said that Beck was "right" to call the president a "racist."
The sad part is that both these situations are equally as likely to be true.
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt on the paper's coverage of Game Change:
The Times has treated "Game Change" as news, but carefully: a review in the daily paper that raised the sourcing issues; a Sunday review; coverage of Reid's apology and Republican attempts to capitalize on it; an essay on the death of loyalty among political staffers; and another on the damage to the image of Elizabeth Edwards, portrayed in the book as "an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman."
Judith Warner, who wrote the Style section column about Elizabeth Edwards, said she did not try to verify what the book said because she was examining the issue of image. It's too bad she did not try, because on the same day her column appeared, former aides to Edwards told Politico, on the record, that the book's portrayal was accurate but incomplete, failing to capture her warmer side.
Well, that's a lame defense. How, exactly, do you "examine the issue of image" without exploring the accuracy of that image? You can do it, but you're left with an awfully shallow examination.
And, in fact, Warner's column wasn't exactly silent on the question of Game Change's accuracy. Here's how she began:
YET another illusion has been shattered.
In a new book about the 2008 presidential campaign, "Game Change," Elizabeth Edwards is portrayed as "an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman," and nothing like her image as "St. Elizabeth."
That certainly sounds like she's endorsing Game Change's portrayal of Edwards, doesn't it?
Today's Times headline:
G.O.P. Envisions Northeast Comeback
Number of independent political analysts quoted: 0
Number of Democrats quoted: 0.
Curse that liberal media!
According to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, Times columnist Maureen Dowd disputes much of what Game Change claims about her and David Geffen -- and says the book's authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, neither interviewed her nor checked all of their facts with her:
According to "Game Change," Dowd persuaded Geffen to give her an interview by telling him that, when it was over, if he did not want her to use it, she would not. She read the finished column to Geffen, the book said, warned him it would be explosive and asked if he wanted to take back anything. If true, Dowd would, in effect, have surrendered editorial control to her source, an unacceptable situation.
The book also implied that Dowd attended a private $2,300-per-person Obama fund-raiser the following night. Afterward, it said, she was among a small group of 35 who "repaired to Geffen's mansion" for a dinner for the Obamas.
Dowd said it didn't happen that way. "I never gave David Geffen veto power over the column," she said. She said she did not read the column to him, warn him that it would be explosive or ask if he wanted to take back his words, and she did not attend the Hollywood fund-raising event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She was a guest at the dinner later, she said, although the candidate's camp sought to have her barred.
Dowd said that, as is often her practice, she told Geffen which quotes she was using and checked them for accuracy and context. He had been unsure whether he wanted to say some of the things he told her but agreed to all of it, she said.
Geffen, who did not want to get embroiled in a controversy among journalists, would only say: "I don't think anyone imagines Maureen would allow anyone to edit her column. I certainly didn't."
Dowd said the authors did not interview her for the book but that Halperin called at some point to "check a few - but not all - of the details."
* The convoluted sourcing rules used by Halperin & Heilemann, in particular their bizarre explanation of how they came to quote Harry Reid, have inspired the derisive phrases "Halperin background" and "Halperin deep background." It may be time for "Halperin facts" -- things that might be true, but require blind faith in Mark Halperin.
Just the latest example of how once neutral (and once deeply respected) WSJ newsroom now openly leans right in the wake of its Rupert Murdoch purchase.
In Saturday's newspaper, the Journal reported on Obama's 90-minute sparring session with House Republicans which was covered on national TV. The near universal, chattering class consensus was that Obama came out out the winner. In fact, GOP aides privately conceded they never should have allowed TV cameras to broadcast the event, because of how well Obama performed. (How well? So well Fox News had to cut away from it.)
But take a look at how the Journal "reported" the event:
Privately, Republicans welcomed the exchanges, many of which turned on policy nitty-gritty. The meeting elevated members of the House minority to Mr. Obama's footing and neutralized the Democratic line that the GOP is "the party of 'No,' " said one Republican strategist.
Surprise! According to an anonymous GOP strategist, the session was a success for the GOP.
A couple things. Why on earth would the Journal grant anonymity to a GOP strategist who's simply pushing obvious talking points? (i.e. Our side did great.) Is that really such coveted information that the Journal should allow the source to go un-named?
But secondly, and more importantly, what did Democrats "privately" think of the session? Oops, the Journal forgot to find out. Murdoch's daily only quotes a GOP strategist to find out how the session went.
It's funny how liberal media critics are always proven right.