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  • The Red Scare Index: 33

    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, May 19, 2009:

    TOTAL: 33
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 12
    Communism, Communist, Commnistic: 16
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 5

    By Network:

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

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

    Fox News Channel: 6
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    Fox Business Network: 5
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 4

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

    CNBC: 19
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 16
    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.

  • Does Maureen Dowd regularly credit others for their work?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Yesterday, I noted that, according to Tucker Carlson, Maureen Dowd regularly uses other lines she hears from others, without giving credit for them. That conflicted with a NYT spokesperson's claim that Dowd is "eager" to give such credit. Here's Carlson:

    [T]he whole thing is an interesting window into how her column is created. I knew someone once who was on her call rotation. Every week, she'd call and collect amusing lines from him, which she'd invariably use without attribution. Every writer does this to some extent -- I've made a lot of money over the years stealing from my conversations with Matt Labash -- but she seems to do it more than most.

    Now here's Slate's Jack Shafer:

    Right now, I suspect that, more than anything, Dowd wants the whole mess to disappear. Even though she has a reputation for routinely crediting others in her columns—a point Dan Kennedy makes today in his critical Guardian column—that doesn't really matter.

    So, what gives? Does Maureen Dowd regularly -- more often than other reporters -- use "amusing lines" without attribution? Or is Carlson unfairly smearing her?

    (Keep in mind that for Maureen Dowd, "amusing lines" aren't insignificant; they are her claim to fame.)

  • About that Gallup abortion poll...

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, Gallup announced "More Americans 'Pro-Life' Than 'Pro-Choice' for First Time," a finding that got a great deal of attention in light of the manufactured "controversy" surrounding President Obama's speech at Notre Dame.

    That Gallup result seems a little fishy, though, for reasons I touched on in my latest column:

    Gallup says the large swing from a year ago is attributable entirely to a 10-percentage-point increase in Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who call themselves pro-life. But that 10-point increase can only result in the overall swing Gallup claims has occurred if more people are Republican or lean Republican today than a year ago. That's possible, but is inconsistent with other polling that shows fewer Americans than ever consider themselves Republicans.

    On Saturday, Pollster.com's Charles Franklin confirmed that the Gallup poll "has party identification tied at 32-32," which he explains is an "outlier."

    But don't take Franklin's word for it. Take a look at some other recent Gallup releases:

    April 30, 2009
    Democrats Maintain Seven-Point Advantage in Party ID
    Have held significant edge since 2006

    May 18, 2009
    GOP Losses Span Nearly All Demographic Groups
    Only frequent churchgoers show no decline in support since 2001

    So, according to Gallup, Democrats have held a "significant edge" in Party ID since 2006, and continue to hold one today, as Republicans have lost support among "nearly all demographic groups" since 2001.

    And yet Gallup hypes a poll that finds a majority of Americans self-identify as "pro-life" for the first time ever, even though that finding is based on the implausible premise that the two parties are tied in Party ID -- a premise that Gallup itself contradicts elsewhere. And, get this, Gallup didn't mention the tie in Party ID in its release touting the abortion findings. Had it done so, the findings would have (appropriately) been greated with much more skepticism.

    That's pretty dishonest -- Gallup withheld information about its own poll that undermined the sensational claim it was making about that poll's findings. And it's a useful reminder that broad announcements like "More Americans 'Pro-Life' Than 'Pro-Choice' for First Time" shouldn't be taken particularly seriously unless they are accompanied by the complete poll.

  • CNN's dreadful Pelosi polling story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The press is now so fully committed to advancing the GOP's talking point about Pelosi and how much supposed trouble she's in regarding the CIA briefing story, which seems only to be consuming the 202 area code, that the press will construct any news angle to support it. This CNN.com example is particularly egregious.

    The headline:

    CNN Poll: Pelosi facing Gingrich-like approval ratings

    Cue breathless lede:

    As Nancy Pelosi continues to face a firestorm over what she may have known about aggressive government interrogation techniques, and when, a new survey has more unpleasant news for the House Speaker.

    Nearly half of all Americans — 48 percent — disapprove of how the California Democrat she is handling her job as Speaker of the House in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday, while 39 percent approve of her performance.

    Where to begin? Ok, the headline. To me it implies that Pelosi's become so unpopular that she's crashing into Newt Gingrich territory, and he was so widely disliked that he was forced to leave office. Good golly, does the same fate await Pelosi?

    Probably not, because as the CNN.com article eventually concedes, Pelosi's approval ratings today (39 percent) are similar to Gingrich's not when he was driven to office, but when he first became speaker. Meaning, that 39 percent pretty much represented Gingrich's high point, not low. But CNN suggests it's bad news that Pelosi's approval ratings are the same as Gingrich's best poll numbers as speaker? That doesn't make sense.

    Next, CNN clearly draws a connection between Pelosi's CIA troubles and her low approval ratings. (i.e. "More unpleasant news for the House Speaker.") CNN implies there's a cause and effect between that Beltway process story and the speaker's low numbers. But is there? The answer is unequivocally no, because Pelosi's approval ratings haven't budged all year. The CIA story hasn't moved the needle one inch in terms of how Americans view her.

    Fact: In CNN's January poll, Pelosi's approval rating was also 39 percent. That means the CNN headline would have been just as factual if it read this way:

    No change at all in Pelosi's approval ratings this year

    Meanwhile, CNN leaves out crucial context, like how is Pelosi's Republican counterpart in the House viewed by Americans? CNN hasn't polled on Rep. John Boehner recently, but in March, Newsweek did and found that just 21 percent approved of the Republican's House leader. Suddenly Pelosi's 39 looks pretty good, right? But CNN dutifully leaves out that context in order to push the Pelosi's-in-trouble-because-of-the-CIA angle.

    UPDATE: Writing about the CNN poll, and buying into the CNN spin, Politico's Glenn Thrush claims:

    The CIA torture briefings story line is taking its toll on Nancy Pelosi's approval ratings.

    This is pure fiction. The fact is that the CIA torture briefings story line has taken no toll on her ratings as measured by CNN. But the press has a preferred story that it would like to tell.

  • Can Maureen Dowd produce her friend's email?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Y'know, the one she sorta claims she received from a friend that included a passage that she used in her column, but turned out to be lifted from Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. I say 'sorta' because so far Dowd has been incredibly unclear about the specifics that led to the obvious plagiarism. And (surprise!) her Times editors don't seem to be all interested in uncovering the facts.

    To recap, after it became clear Dowd used the TPM material without attribution she emailed the Huffington Post and explained [emphasis added]

    josh is right. I didn't read his blog last week, and didn't have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now. i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent -- and I assumed spontaneous -- way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.

    but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me.
    we're fixing it on the web, to give josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow.

    As Jamison noted at CF yesterday, the idea that Dowd spoke to her friend and via that conversation Dowd came up with the exact same wording that TPM had used simply is not believable. What does make some sense is the idea that a friend emailed the passage to Dowd, but in the email the friend failed to explain that the passage came from TPM and Dowd simply cut and pasted it into her column thinking she was simply cribbing from her friend.

    In fact, that's what Dowd seemed to suggest in an email to Michael Calderone at Politico:

    Its a friend I talk to by phone and email; I just had no idea that point was josh's; josh is now credited on the web in my column and I asked [editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal] to do another formal correction. And I owe him lunch.

    But, Calderone asked, does that mean it's common practice for Times columnists to simply cut and paste sections of emails into their column. Calderone asked Dowd if that's what happened; if a friend had emailed her the passage. But Dowd never responded and has not answered that simple question publicly.

    Of course, if it was a friend's email that caused the turmoil, than Dowd could easily produce the electronic correspondence today and confirm her story, right? So why doesn't she do that, and why don't Times editors demand that she produce it?

    On the other hand, If there was no email and if Dowd lifted that passage via a conversation, well again, that simply is not a believable explanation.

    UPDATE: Despite Dowd's obvious dodge, Slate thinks she's done a swell job explaining the circumstances of her mishap. Ah, life inside The Village.

    UPDATE: What do y'know, the WashPost's Howard Kurtz (a media critic) also thinks what Dowd did is no big deal.

  • Newsmax invites you to "Join Vitter, Coburn, Ruddy in New York"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Right-wing website Newsmax reports:

    Join Vitter, Coburn, Ruddy in New York

    Sunday, May 17, 2009 7:24 PM

    The largest conservative insider meeting - The Monday Meeting in New York - will take place in New York this Monday, May 18.

    This important meeting will include Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia attorney general and Republican nominee for governor of Virginia, also will be there.

    Obviously, it's probably too late for you to be there in person.

    But thanks to Fox News, the Monday Meeting will be streamed live at www.foxnews.com/strategyroom.

    To view the meeting, which will air Monday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EDT, simply go to www.foxnews.com/strategyroom.

    The Monday Meeting has received extensive coverage in the media. The Meeting has been profiled in New York Magazine and the Washington Post, among other publications and referenced extensively on electronic media. This is the first time that the meeting has been opened up to a broader audience.

    In addition to attending "conservative insider meetings," Ruddy's past work involved spreading discredited conspiracy theories about the death of Vince Foster. Numerous official investigations have conclusively established that Foster committed suicide.

    In the March/April 1996 Columbia Journalism Review, contributing editor Trudy Lieberman reported:

    That Christopher Ruddy would win the Western Journalism Center's first "Courage in Journalism Award," with its crystal trophy and $2,000 check, is hardly surprising. Ruddy is a free-lance writer for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Tribune-Review, whose oeuvre is the 1993 death of White House aide Vincent Foster. The Western Journalism Center, based in suburban Sacramento, bills itself in a biweekly newsletter as a "nonprofit tax-exempt corporation promoting independent investigative reporting" and "the only national news agency supporting a full-time probe of the mysterious death of White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr." What this means, it seems, is that the Center mostly recycles stories written by Christopher Ruddy.

    Ruddy was a reporter for the New York Post until the summer of 1994. A few months later he was hired by the Tribune-Review, which is owned and published by Richard Mellon Scaife, a Pittsburgh philanthropist well-known for funding right-wing causes and media watchdog organizations (see "Citizen Scaife," cjr, July/August 1981). At the Tribune-Review, Ruddy, who did not return calls to cjr, turns out frequent Foster stories, often on Sunday. The Western Journalism Center, too, has a strong connection to Scaife: last year a good chunk of its funding came from the Carthage Foundation, one of several foundations connected to him. Another large Center contributor is James Dale Davidson, who co-edits the newsletter Strategic Investment and is also chairman of the National Taxpayers Union, a conservative group whose research arm has received thousands of dollars from Scaife foundations.

    One of the Center's major activities is trying to inject the dark view of Foster's death into mainstream reporting and thinking. Last year, to this end, the Center bought full-page ads in several major newspapers, including The New York Times, to showcase Ruddy's work and to offer for sale special Vince Foster reports, including a compilation of Ruddy's stories, titled "The Ruddy Investigation," for $12, and a forty-minute "riveting new video documentary" titled "Unanswered -- The Death of Vincent Foster," which Ruddy helped produce, and which goes for $35.

    In an October 19, 1997, Slate.com review of Ruddy's book The Strange Death of Vincent Foster: An Investigation, Michael Isikoff wrote:

    Ruddy, of course, is the Inspector Clouseau of the Foster case -- a determined, if bumbling, former New York Post reporter who has virtually single-handedly spawned a cottage industry of conspiracy buffs dedicated to the proposition that a foul and monstrous cover-up surrounds the circumstances of Foster's death.

    Financed by a cranky right-wing philanthropist, Richard Mellon Scaife, Ruddy's repeated bromides about the Foster case have been republished in newspaper ads across the country; his sheer persistence has led some casual observers to conclude he might be on to something. The Strange Death, published by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, is endorsed as "serious and compelling" by former FBI Director William Sessions. In the New York Times Book Review, National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser chides political journalists for failing to pursue Ruddy's many "unanswered questions" about the case.

    Don't worry, when it comes to how Foster died, there aren't any -- or none that matter. Ruddy's book -- and the entire movement he has helped create -- is utterly preposterous. Turgidly written and dense with 534 footnotes and seven appendixes, Ruddy's plodding book repeatedly confuses the evidence and chases after scores of imaginary holes in the official verdict -- without ever positing an alternative scenario that makes the least bit of sense.

  • The Red Scare Index: 33

    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 last, Friday, May 15, 2009:

    TOTAL: 33
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 21
    Communism, Communist, Commnistic: 6
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 6

    By Network:

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

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

    Fox News Channel: 9
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    Fox Business Network: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 4

    MSNBC: 4
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNBC: 10
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 10
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    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.

  • Christopher Hitchens and Slate editors play dumb

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Determined to be the last person to dissect in detail on the week-old (zzzz) story of Wanda Sykes' appearance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner nine days ago, Hitchens, in a very boring dispatch, explains why neither she, nor president Obama, were funny during the roast.

    The rather astonishing part though, is that Hitchens has already famously commented on Sykes' Corespondents performance, yet both he and his Slate editors play dumb and act like it never happened. Both Hitchens and the Slate editors pretend Hitchens, just hours after the performance, didn't tell the New York Observer that "the black dyke [Sykes] got it wrong."

    Does Hitchens have no memory of saying it? We don't know, simply becuase he never even acknowledges the slur in his column and Slate editors let him pretend it never happened, even though he's writing about Wanda Sykes.

    BTW, Hitchens complains that Sykes was too mean to Rush Limbaugh. Ironic, don't you think?

  • NYT claims MoDo is "eager" to give credit; Tucker disagrees

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    New York Times spokesperson Diane McNulty:

    There is no need to do anything further since there is no allegation, hint or anything else from Marshall that this was anything but an error. It was corrected. Journalists often use feeds from other staff journalists, free-lancers, stringers, a whole range of people. And from friends. Anyone with even the most passing acquaintance with Maureen's work knows that she is happy and eager to give people credit.

    As Politico's Michael Calderone notes, the fact that Marshall hasn't lodged any further complaints doesn't mean anything about anything. Whether or not Maureen Dowd did something wrong is not dependent upon whether Josh Marshall says she did.

    But that bit about Dowd being "happy and eager to give people credit" caught my eye, because just moments earlier, I read Tucker Carlson's comments during a Washington Post online discussion:

    [T]he whole thing is an interesting window into how her column is created. I knew someone once who was on her call rotation. Every week, she'd call and collect amusing lines from him, which she'd invariably use without attribution. Every writer does this to some extent -- I've made a lot of money over the years stealing from my conversations with Matt Labash -- but she seems to do it more than most.

    So which is it? Is Dowd "happy and eager to give people credit," or does she rely more than most writers on the attribution-free use of lines told to her by others?

    Earlier: How would the NYT react if Joe Biden gave an excuse this lame?