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  • So dumb it hurts

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I'm not humorless, and I don't think there's anything wrong with Beltway journalists having fun. But this kind of institutional clowning from the WashPost's Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza only highlights how juvenile and purposely un-serious our elite press corps has become.

    Good grief, what would Katherine Graham say about the Post tarnishing its brand in such a thoughtless way?

  • Fox's Baier: Success due to "scrappy" attitude

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Mediabistro.com's TVNewser points to a Fresno Bee profile of Fox News' Bret Baier who took the reins of Special Report from Brit Hume about six months ago.

    Says Baier of his early success (emphasis added):

    "I have a lot of people tell me they establish a relationship with an anchor. It is about believability and trust. It is about inviting that person into your home, into your living room, every night," Baier says in a telephone interview. "It is about the product that goes on the air. It is about being true to our motto which is 'being fair and balanced.'

    "I am proud of what we have been able to do and I think our numbers and the network numbers show that we are striking a chord."

    Too bad the "chord" Baier and his Fox News buddies keep striking is so badly out of tune.

    The piece goes on to note that Baier attributes Fox News' success to its "scrappy" early days as a new kid on the cable news block. How touching, they only had bagels and a moving truck (again, emphasis added):

    Baier knows what it means to fight for viewers. He's been with Fox News since 1998 when he started the network's Atlanta bureau out of his apartment only two years after the channel launched.

    Two years later, the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore rested on "hanging chads" in Florida and a Supreme Court decision in Washington, D.C. Baier was dispatched to Florida.

    "I remember CNN had all of these trucks. And they had this buffet set up. We were working out of the back of a Ryder truck and eating bagels," he recalls. "That is the beauty of Fox. We have always been scrappy."

    I don't know if "scrappy" is the right word for what Fox News has "always been."

    Seems to me there may be an extra letter in there somewhere.

  • Wash. Times Gaffney: "There is mounting evidence that the president ... actually may still be [a Muslim] himself"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    GAFFNEY: America's first Muslim president?

    During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton -- someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a "white male" -- was dubbed "America's first black president" by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president.

    This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim any more than Mr. Clinton actually is black. After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich.

    What little we know about Mr. Obama's youth certainly suggests that he not only had a Kenyan father who was Muslim, but spent his early, formative years as one in Indonesia. As the president likes to say, "much has been made" -- in this case by him and his campaign handlers -- of the fact that he became a Christian as an adult in Chicago, under the now-notorious Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright.

    With Mr. Obama's unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls "the Muslim world" (hereafter known as "the Speech"), there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself. Consider the following indicators:

    • • Mr. Obama referred four times in his speech to "the Holy Koran." Non-Muslims -- even pandering ones -- generally don't use that Islamic formulation.
    • • Mr. Obama established his firsthand knowledge of Islam (albeit without mentioning his reported upbringing in the faith) with the statement, "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed." Again, "revealed" is a depiction Muslims use to reflect their conviction that the Koran is the word of God, as dictated to Muhammad.
    • • Then the president made a statement no believing Christian -- certainly not one versed, as he professes to be, in the ways of Islam -- would ever make. In the context of what he euphemistically called the "situation between Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs," Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day ". . . when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) joined in prayer."

    Now, the term "peace be upon them" is invoked by Muslims as a way of blessing deceased holy men. According to Islam, that is what all three were - dead prophets. Of course, for Christians, Jesus is the living and immortal Son of God.

    In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the Speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah -- notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood -- to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton's fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison.

    Previously: Wash. Times' Gaffney made false and baseless claims about Obama's birth certificate, purported "ties" to Khalid al-Mansour

    Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.

  • Because Politico is really just a GOP bulletin board

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And so whatever hopes and aspirations Republicans might have, no matter how far-fetched, means Politico will cover it as news.

    Witness this week's beaut:

    Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina

    Republicans are clinging to the what-if that Obama's bureaucratic decision to help bail out General Motors will be the political equivalent of President Bush's epic and historic failure to help the city of New Orleans as it drowned following Hurricane Katrina. Yeah, that sounds about right.

    But it's true, even GOP player Grover Norquist said it was so:

    "This is somewhere in between Baghdad and fixing the flood in Louisiana."

    Obama's decision to try to help GM work its way back to profitability is just like Bush's decision to preemptively invade Iraq and his failure to rescue New Orleans.

    Of course, professional Republican spinners are free to tell whatever kind of tale they want. But Politico ought to be embarrassed to treat the fanciful scenarios as news.

    Also, please note that the Politico article basically consists entirely of quotes from Republican members of Congress criticizing the GM bailout. That's all Politico ever needs to justify an article because if Republicans are criticizing Obama it's news. C'mon people. Keep up.

    BTW, the Politico article is cribbed from a column conservative Byron York wrote last week for the Washington Examiner:

    We might be catching a glimpse of Obama's tipping point with his handling of General Motors' bankruptcy, and Chrysler's before it. The government takeover of the automakers is by far the most unpopular thing Obama has done so far. And it's not just unpopular -- it is partisan, appealing to the base of his party and virtually no one else.

    Follow that logic? Lots of Americans are not happy that the government is bailing out GM, but Obama did it anyway; therefore, his job approval rating will likely soon crater. If you say so, Byron. But it strikes me as a bit odd to think that when pollsters call Americans and ask them the very broad question of whether or not they think the POTUS is doing a good job, they will answer that question based on how Obama handled the forced bankruptcy of General Motors. I actually can't think of an issue less significant in terms of today's presidential polling results (in terms of what impacts most people's day-to-day lives), but that's just me.

    UPDATE: Oh yeah, Obama's overall job approval rating has gone up since he signed off on the GM bankruptcy deal.

  • The Red Scare Index: 76

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Monday, June 8, 2009:

    TOTAL: 76
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 30
    Communism, Communist, Commnistic: 43
    Marxism/Marxist: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    By Network:

    CNN: 19
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 16
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNN Headline News: 13
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 10
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 15
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 7
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 7
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    Fox Business Network: 9
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    MSNBC: 5
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNBC: 15
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 6
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.

  • I present to you the class of 2009...

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    The path here was long. Some said it would never end.

    You lost your integrity. You lost your senses. But you did it with gusto!

    You lied. You misled. You twisted the truth beyond recognition.

    Together, you may not have learned much, but you certainly sounded convincing to the unsuspecting ear. And that's what really matters, right?

    History, science, economics, pre-med, pre-law... the degrees you have earned may mean nothing in real life but in the cable news business, well, it's solid gold (and if you need the money, G. Gordon Liddy will gladly sell it for you at 2 a.m. on basic cable for a modest commission.)

    Friends.

    Family.

    Fellow wingnuts.

    I present to you, the Conservative Misinformation University class of 2009!

  • Gallup buries the lede about Obama's job approval rating (Psst--it went up!)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We noted yesterday how Politico completely botched its story about Obama's job approval rating going down, based on the latest data from a USA Today/Gallup survey. In fact, Obama's job approval rating went up three points in that poll between May and June, but Politico pretended it went down.

    How hard is it to read polling results, right?

    Well, after reading Gallup's own write-up about its own polling data, we sort of understand why Politico got the story wrong, because Gallup itself seemed to go out of its way to ignore the fact that Obama's overall job approval rating went up between May and June. In fact, in his online piece, Frank Newport never once mentioned that salient fact. It was completely ignored. (Gallup did detail Obama's favorable ratings, which is slightly different than job approval.)

    Can anyone else recall the last time a major polling firm released the results of presidential job approval ratings and then forgot to even mention that the president's ratings went up? It's quite odd.

    Instead, Newport, mimicking the preference of the Beltway press corps, stressed how many Americans had a lower opinion of Obama's handling of specific issues. The Village thinks this is a very big deal: Sure Obama's popular, but most Americans don't agree with all his policies, which means it's all a house of cards.

    At least that's how I read a lot of the coverage. And when you have that kind of mindset, you get write-ups like the one from Gallup that forgot to mention the president's job approval rating went up since May. (i.e. Boring!)

    Talk about burying the lede.

  • L.A. Times' McGough uses Sotomayor injury to revive "wise Latina" comments

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From McGough's June 8 blog post:

    I don't know if Sotomayor will be able to sue New York's LaGuardia Airport, where she stumbled. The real consolation for the judge is that this experience increases her empathy quotient. It's debatable, however, whether she should tell the Senate that "I would hope that a wise Latina woman who has had to schlep around on crutches would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who can run down the stairs of the Capitol."