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  • Politico's mission statement: serve as "key outlet" for DC spinners

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    TNR has posted an internal Politico memo "revealing the organization's formula for 'must-read' coverage." Reading through CAPS-laden passages like these, I couldn't help imagining them read by Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross:

    "We are not the AP or the New York Times" ... If we ONLY do what those two great organizations do, WE WILL NOT SURVIVE AND WE WON'T HAVE JOBS."

    ...

    "Speed kills. Velocity - SPEED + POWER (good sources, smart thinking) - will make you a winner."

    Coffee is for closers. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired. Always be closing.

    And like Mamet's salesmen trying to talk their marks into investing in swampland, it seems the Politico is little more than a con. See, the Politico memo has a lot of instructions for reporters, including a list of questions Politico employees should ask themselves about prospective stories. Things like "Would this be a 'most-emailed' story?" and "Will a blogger be inspired to post on this story?" But it omits any mention of striving to ensure accuracy or quality. No questions like "Do I have the story right?" or "Am I being spun by my sources?" or "Is this story important?" (And certainly no "Does it really matter how much someone paid for a haircut?")

    Maybe those questions aren't included because they aren't relevent to Politico's extraordinary mission statement, presented at the top of the memo:

    THE MISSION: Politico journalism drives conversation in official Washington, making us ESSENTIAL READING for anyone who is or wants to be a player, and a KEY OUTLET for anyone who is trying to shape a political or government debate.

    That's it. That's the whole mission. Nothing about informing people, or finding the truth. Instead, Politico sees its mission as being a "key outlet" for the "players" trying to shape political debates. With that as the Politico's mission, it seems unlikely they even care whether they're being spun, or getting the story right.

    The memo concludes by claiming Politico is "one of the greatest adventures in journalistic history." Yeah, stories about John Edwards' haircuts are right up there with Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Right.

    Like Ricky Roma and Shelley Levene, Politico doesn't have much of value to offer. But they think they can talk you into buying it anyway.

  • Malkin responds to swastika Obama photo uproar

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Michelle Malkin is up with her defense for a photo we posted yesterday (originally posted by ProgressNowColorado) showing the right-wing blogger posing for a photo with a man holding a sign that uses a circled swastika as the "O" in Obama. The photo was taken at a Colorado rally against the President's economic recovery plan. For those of you who missed the photo, here it is again:

    Courtesy of ProgressNow Colorado

    Malkin's defense? Post a bunch of images using the swastika and Nazi imagery to attack former President Bush and other conservatives (including herself.) Like much of her writing, Malkin misses the point. Are there looney-tunes on both sides of the aisle who have used Nazi imagery to attack those with which they disagree? Yes.

    Did Malkin post any images of prominent progressives -- say, Markos from DailyKos, radio's Ed Schultz or MSNBC's Rachel Maddow -- posing with someone holding a swastika sign? No.

    This is about Malkin's judgement, or lack thereof.

    How could anyone, let alone a quasi-public figure such as herself, think it a good idea to pose with a man holding that sign?

  • Will David Frum and Ross Douthat follow Pat Robertson's lead?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The tele-evangelist told U.S. World and News Report that it was wrong for Rush Limbaugh to announce that he hoped Obama fails:

    That was a terrible thing to say. I mean, he's the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn't, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally.

    But who else on the right will step forward and take on Limbaugh and the purposeful dumbing down being done by the Republican Noise Machine? I mention conservative writers Frum and Douthat because they both posted laments this week about the state of the GOP and what they say passes as the sorry attempt at public policy and public debate.

    Wrote Frum, a former Bush speechwriter, after reviewing the GOP talking points during the stimulus 'debate'":

    Could we possibly act more inadequate to the challenge? More futile? More brain dead?

    Added conservative blogger Douthat:

    I spent a lot of time during the election just past issuing complaints roughly like this one about the McCain campaign, and the GOP more generally. I've issued fewer over the last few weeks - partially out of exhaustion with the topic, and partially out of a sense that there's nobody to issue them to.

    There's no real leadership on the right, according to Douthat, and Republicans at a time of national crisis are focused on pointless trivia, complained Frum. Together, the combination is producing insipidness, they seemed to agree.

    But look at who Frum and Douthat don't blame. They don't blame the Republican Noise Machine. Conservatives helped build the media attack machine, and now its running the GOP--it now functions as the public voice of the Republican Party--but even GOP critics like Frum and Douthat are reluctant to blame Noise Machine stalwarts for doing damage to the conservative movement. (Frum though, does at least mention Glenn Beck and Limbaugh in his lament.)

    I realize conservatives aren't likely to take my advice, but I'll offer it anyway: Until the rampant stupidity that defines the Republican Noise Machine is called out by GOP insiders like Frum and Douthat, the conservative movement--in the absence of any real political leadership--will continue to be defined by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Matt Drudge.

    Good luck with that.

  • Is the NY Post comparing Obama to a chimp?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Here's the cartoon from today's paper:

    Notes Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

    At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.

  • ABC News embarrasses itself, again

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    A couple weeks ago ABC News shanked one badly when it concocted the phony premise that it was somehow hypocritical of Obama to criticize executive pay on Wall Street (which often reaches into the tens of millions of dollars annually) because he made a lot of money as POTUS (i.e. $400,000). ABC News somehow saw a connection between the two sets of salaries.

    Now ABC's Jonathan Karl returns with a similarly harebrained premise, which is this: Some members of Congress recently criticized CEOs for their use of corporate jets, but Congressmen are sometimes flown overseas for free by the Air Force while conducting official government business.

    Period. That's it. Although ABC News treats it as a very big deal. Here's the unintentionally humorous headline, "Congress Travels Free on Taxpayers' Dime."

    Honestly, does that come as news to anyone in America? Do voters actually think that Congressmen, and their wives, pay their own airfare and fly commercial flights when they're part of a Congressional delegation visiting, for instance, Afghanistan or Iraq or even Europe? I mean really, how dumb does ABC News think Americans are?

    The sheer stupidity of the report is just jaw-dropping, though. Here's an example:

    Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., has taken four taxpayer-financed trips to nine countries over the past four years, despite criticizing corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts.

    Follow? Ackerman has taken four trips in four years (as a reader you're supposed to be outraged), even though Ackerman has criticized "corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts."

    But what's the connection? In an extraordinary move, CEO's of private companies recently turned to the federal government for billions in bailout assistance and caught flak for using corporate jets to fly to D.C. Ackerman though, is a Congressman paid by the government and approximately once a year takes government-paid flights overseas to represent the United States, just as Congressmen have done for decades.

    How on earth are those two set of facts even remotely connected? And why did Karl embarrass himself by pretending he couldn't tell the obvious differences between the two?

    P.S. Note that ABC reports the airfare practice is bipartisan, but for some reason only Democrats get mentioned by name in the report.

  • An historian's take

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Richard Norton Smith, discussing Obama in Time:

    I think there is a fundamental disconnect between much of the media — with its breathless and impatient coverage — and most people out there. Most people are more patient and sophisticated, and appreciate that our problems have developed over a long period of time. They're realistic enough to understand that they are not going to disappear overnight.

  • Still waiting for George Will's correction, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker's on the case, contacting both Will and his WashPost boss, Fed Hiatt, editor of the Post's Op-Ed page, trying to find out if and when the Post is going to correct central factual errors found in Will's most recent anti-global warming column.

    Writes Roth:

    Will's assistant told us that Will might get back to us later in the day to talk about the column. And Hiatt said he was too busy to talk about it just then, but that he'd try to respond to emailed questions. So we emailed him yesterday's post, with several questions about the editing process, then followed up with another email late yesterday afternoon.

    But still nothing from either of them, over twenty-four hours after the first contact was made. Nor has the online version of Will's column been updated, even to reflect the fact that the ACRC has utterly disavowed the claim Will attributes to it.

    We're hearing that the Post's editing process for opinion pieces is virtually non-existent. Maybe that makes sense in some cases -- it certainly seems reasonable to give most columnists a freer hand than straight news reporters get. But it's difficult to know for sure when the Post won't talk about it. And that approach sure didn't serve the paper well here.

  • Amazing: Network of climate change "Denial Jokers" exposed

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Check out this amazing piece over at TheWonkRoom which identifies the cast of characters used by Marc Marano, communications director to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), to push climate change skepticism.

    TheWonkRoom reports:

    Marc Morano, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)'s environmental aide, sits at the center of the right-wing global warming denier propaganda machine — of fifty-two people. Conservative columnist Fred Barnes recently refused to tell TPM Muckraker who's informed him "the case for global warming" is falling apart, but all signs point to Marc Morano. Morano's "entire job," Gristmill's David Roberts explains, "is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts" to the right-wing echo chamber. The Wonk Room has acquired Morano's email list, and we can now reveal the pack of climate skeptics, conservative bloggers, and corporate hacks who feed the misinformation machine.

    Promoted on the Drudge Report and Fox News, Morano's moronic misinformation enters mainstream discourse through columns by Barnes, George Will, Robert Samuelson, and others. Many in the Morano gang are funded by right-wing think tanks, though a few are committed activists, conspiracy theorists who believe their homebrew interpretations of climate data. Others are aging scientists with strong conservative beliefs, motivating them to challenge action on global warming not because they disbelieve its existence, but because they are ideologically opposed to regulation of pollution.

    Check out Marano's full list here.

    You may recall our recent posts on Fred Barnes' super-secret climate change source and George Will's refusal to correct his recent wacky climate change denial column.

  • UPDATED: Michelle Malkin takes photo with man holding swastika Obama sign

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Courtesy of ProgressNow Colorado

    Just the messenger. According to ProgressNowColorado:

    That's noted right-wing shill Michelle Malkin posing with who we've dubbed "Swastika Guy," owing to the sign he carried right onto the stage with State Senator Josh Penry, Congressman Mike Coffman, Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams, State Senator Dave Schultheis, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, among others. None of whom did anything about it, and in fact one person defended the guy to one of our people saying that the swastika is not a Nazi symbol, but an honored Native American symbol.

    UPDATE: Ohhhh, wait a minute. I get it. The man with the sign isn't professing his affinity for Nazis. He isn't even identifying himself as a Nazi. The swastika in question has a circle around it forming an O and the rest of the sign reads "BAMA". Get it? Obama is a Nazi. That's much better. Sigh.