• Peggy Noonan peddles Drudge nonsense

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And she's the Journal's premiere political columnist? Oy.

    Here's Peggy's lede from the weekend [Emphasis added]:

    What makes it hard at the moment to write sympathetically of Barack Obama is the loud chorus of approbation arising from his supporters in journalism as they mark the hundred days. Drudge calls it the "Best President Ever" campaign.

    First, are you chuckling at the thought that the hyper-partisan Noonan, who turned endless Clinton-hating into something of a cottage industry for herself, and who during the 2008 campaign announced that Obama was not normal, really wanted to write sympathetically about Obama? She did, honest.

    But she just couldn't because those darn Obama supporters are acting so cultish again. To prove that point, Noonan quoted Drudge. (Talk about a recipe for a journalism disaster.) Noonan quoted Drudge claim that Obama supporters last week announced the new president was the best ever. Get it? It's loony to suggest somebody's who hasn't even been in the Oval Office 100 days is the best ever. It's insane. That's how delusional Obama fans are, Peggy assured us. And that's why Peggy couldn't write anything nice about him, even though she really, really wanted to. (Right after she posts that item about a bridge for sale on Craigslist, right?)

    Here's the thing. Peggy's either very lazy or very dishonest. Take your pick. She's lazy if she quoted Drudge without taking three minutes to read the article he linked to for the "Best President Ever" quote. Or she's dishonest because she did read the article and ignored the fact there was nothing in it to even remotely support the spin Drudge put on it. He just made it up.

    We undressed this nonsense last week. But apparently, Peggy Noonan, high-profile columnist for the Wall Street Journal, didn't care that Drudge had completely concocted the "Best President Ever" nonsense. Either that, or Peggy did realize Drudge concocted it and knowingly did her best to spread the smear.

    Which was it Peggy?

    UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes also signs off on the fictitious "Greatest" meme. (Barnes earns extra GOP credit, no doubt, for working in a Muslim reference as well.)

  • Would somebody please explain "cause and effect" to David Broder?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's David Broder:

    If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the "torture" policies of the past.


    Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps -- or, at least, careers and reputations.

    Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance.

    And more David Broder:

    Gaithersburg, Md.: Settling Scores: I actually don't see it so much as settling scores as a warning to the future. Perhaps if there was a deterrent in place, we would not have the situation where some politicians feel above the law. Just because Nixon said it's legal if the president does it, it must be true. I think that while the pardoning of Nixon helped in the short-run, it caused irreparable harm in the long-term.


    David S. Broder: Yours is a perfectly legitimate point of view. But I have become convinced that there is not much learning that takes place from one administration to the next; otherwise, we would not have repeated scandals and coverups in Washington. So I think we're better off putting our focus on the policies (and people) a new president is putting into place.

    Maybe someone could create some sort of diagram or flow chart for Broder, showing the connection between his preference that executive lawbreaking go unpunished with his complaints that administrations don't learn from the scandals of their predecessors? Here, I'll take a first stab at it:

    Administrations do learn from their predecessors. They learn from the fact that Nixon was pardoned. And they learn from the fact that Reagan and Bush (and those they pardoned) got away without punishment for Iran-Contra. And if the Bush administration officials who ordered torture and illegal wiretaps don't face punishment, future administrations will certainly will learn from that.

    The question is not whether administrations learn from their predecessors - it is whether the lessons they learn are the ones we want them to learn.

    David Broder is teaching a pretty clear lesson - that presidential administrations can do pretty much whatever the hell they want*, and the DC Establishment will close ranks behind them. And then he's complaining that presidential administrations do pretty much whatever the hell they want.

    * As long as they don't lie about sex.

    UPDATE: It's worth keeping in mind that Broder wasn't exactly chomping at the bit for investigations of administration wrongdoing while Bush was in office, either. In 2006, Broder wrote that Bush "has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution." But Broder didn't call for resignation or impeachment of the president he described as "lawless," or even call for investigations. So Broder didn't back investigations during Bush's presidency, and now he says we can't investigate the administration once it has left office. And he wonders why we have "repeated scandals and coverups in Washington."

  • BTW, "tea party" coverage pretty much matched interest level

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Conservatives bitched and moaned last week about how the press didn't give the events enough coverage; about how the liberal media were out of touch with mainstream Americans. But according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center, that allegation doesn't fly.

    As it does every week, Pew determined which news stories garnered the most interest among news consumers and compared it to how much coverage those events received. For the "tea parties," the amount of top interest and the amount of coverage was pretty much dead-on.

    Pew found that nine percent of American paid the most attention to the "tea party" story last week, while seven percent of last week's news coverage was devoted to the "tea parties."

    BTW, nearly four times as many Americans last week were interested in the breaking pirate story than cared about the "tea parties."

  • Newsbusters and The Corner shouldn't pick fights with Paul Begala

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    At least not when facts are involved.

    Recently on CNN, Begala, discussing the topic of torture, made this point:

    Our country executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. We executed them for the same crime that we are now committing ourselves. How do you defend that?

    Mark Hemingway at NRO's The Corner claimed Begala got the facts all wrong, and then Newsbusters chimed in, too. Begala was making stuff up about torture!

    The irony is that right-wing outlets really have a beef with Sen. John McCain, because he's the one who's talked publicly about how Japanese soldiers were executed for torturing--for waterboarding--American POW's.

    "...following World War II war crime trials were convened. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."

    That was McCain, on November 29th, 2007, at a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Florida. quickly looked into McCain's claim and noted:

    In a recent journal essay, Judge Evan Wallach, a member of the U.S. Court of International Trade and an adjunct professor in the law of war, writes that the testimony from American soldiers about this form of [water] torture was gruesome and convincing. A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.

    We find McCain's retelling of history to be accurate, so we give him a True.

    So NRO, tell us again how "Begala certainly doesn't know what he's talking about."

  • Suddenly pundits don't want to hold previous (read: GOP) administrations accountable?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's been bemusing to watch the media 'debate' over the torture memos and whether the Obama White House should just drop the matter. Lots (most?) media elites argue that that's the best strategy, hinting that only partisan loons would want to hold an exiting administration accountable for wrongdoing. That's dismissed as nasty "retribution."

    Allison Kilkenny at HuffPost helps put into context the media's current blinders:

    Apparently, upholding the law is now a fringe issue. Those on the "hard left " want accountability, and the serious beltway "journalists" want to "keep walking" away from "retribution" so as to maintain life's sweet "mystery."

    But boy, it was hard to find any members of the punditocracy in early 2001 who argued that point when Congress launched hearings and investigations into the Clinton pardons and gift 'scandal' after that Dem team had left the White House. Back then the message was clear: only partisan loons wouldn't want to hold the exiting administration accountable for wrongdoing.

  • The Red Scare Index: 44

    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 Thursday, April 23, 2009:

    TOTAL: 44
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 23
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 18
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 3

    By Network:

    CNN: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    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: 8
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 3

    Fox Business Network: 6
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 4
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    MSNBC: 22
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 11
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 11
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

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

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

  • Cue the world's smallest violin. Again.

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Another primetime Obama television appearance, another round of TV industry whining, courtesy of Lisa de Moraes at the WashPost who laments how the president's press conference next week is going to cost the networks millions in lost ad revenue and muck up their precious primetime schedule.

    We've been through this several times already, yet the Post continues to harp on the idea that television broadcast, including the nets which use the public airwaves for free year-round, are supposed to get our sympathy because the White House is asking for a small sliver of time to address the nation. (BTW, for the news cable outlets, Obama's presser is sure to bring them a surge in viewers. The WashPost leaves that part out.)

    Plus, the WashPost continues to peddle this batty/naive idea that because the nets can't run ads during the press conference that they're going to lose millions from commercials that are lost forever.

    Writes de Moraes:

    But broadcast TV, like so many other industries, is having a tough time these days. What broadcast networks have to sell is time, and when it's gone, it's gone forever.

    That's actually not how the TV industry works. We're repeating ourselves, but so is the Post. Combined, networks control more than one hundred hours of primetime programming each week. Obviously, if some ads get bumped for breaking news (i.e. a White House press conference), networks have the ability to air a those handful of lost ad slots on other programs, just as networks have done for decades.

    Think about it. Do you really think that when networks break into programming for hurricane coverage, or whatever, that the next day their ad salesmen start writing checks to Procter & Gamble and Budweiser and State Farm because their ads didn't run the previous day? That's simply not how the television business functions.

  • Meghan McCain says what the press won't about Cheney and Rove

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As little interest I have in legitimizing daughter McCain's place at the forefront of our media landscape, during her recent appearance on The View (this whole premise pains me....) she said out loud what virtually nobody inside the Beltway press has dared to in recent weeks. McCain was discussing Karl Rove and Dick Cheney's relentless attack campaign against Obama. Y'know, the guy they lost to--badly--in November.

    Said McCain:

    It's very unprecedented for someone like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney to be criticizing the president. My big criticism is just, you had your eight years, go away.

    God bless her because McCain speaks the unvarnished truth; a truth the press is too afraid to acknowledge. And it's this: We have simply never seen, in modern American politics, the losing VP and a losing top WH adviser smear and belittle a new president, just weeks into his first term, the way Rove and Cheney now routinely do in the media. Why? Because such conduct among grown-up politicians was considered unconscionable, shameless, and pitiful. Period.

    Because those were the ground rules the press established: if you, or your side, lost the November election (and especially if your side lost in a rout), you went away for a long time and remained silent. (Think Michael Dukakis or Bob Dole.)

    The press used to consider it beneath contempt for the losing side to take partisan swipes at the White House winner during the early days of his presidency. Note that in 2001, Sen. Hillary Clinton waited until May before she made her first public criticism of president Bush. (She did it during a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, not on cable TV.)

    And former VP Al Gore waited 21 months before he re-entered the public debate, giving a speech in San Francisco in 2002 where he raised all kinds of concerns about looming plans for war in Iraq. He waited so long, I suspect, because the press made it absolutely clear that Gore's opinions were not welcome at the table. Unless, that is, he wanted to suffer the wrath of the punditocracy which was just itching to label him a "sore loser."

    That's how the game was played for decades. But Cheney goes public with claims that Obama, weeks into his first terms, is making America less safe and the Beltway press doesn't flinch. The press corps acts like it's normal; like that's what all former VP's do right after they vacate the WH. It's not. It's unprecedented.

    At least Meghan McCain provides the context.

    UPDATE: The NYT very gently addresses the issue today in a piece about Cheney's attack campaign.