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  • Ombudsman Alexander faults Wash. Post editors, Will in global warming column controversy

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Alexander's column, which will appear in the March 1 edition of the Post:

    The column triggered e-mails to The Post from hundreds of angry environmental activists and a few scientists, many asserting that the center had said exactly the opposite.

    The ruckus grew when I e-mailed readers who had inquired about the editing process for Will's column. My comments accurately conveyed what I had been told by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt -- that multiple editors had checked Will's sources, including the reference to the Arctic Climate Research Center. Although I didn't render a judgment, my response was understandably seen as an institutional defense and prompted an orchestrated e-mail campaign in which thousands demanded that The Post correct Will's "falsehoods." Like they say when the pro football rookie gets clobbered: "Welcome to the NFL."

    [...]

    As the debate continues, questions linger about The Post's editing process. And there are separate questions about how The Post reacted once readers began questioning the accuracy of Will's column.

    First, the editing process. My inquiry shows that there was fact-checking at multiple levels.

    [...]

    The editors who checked the Arctic Research Climate Center Web site believe it did not, on balance, run counter to Will's assertion that global sea ice levels "now equal those of 1979." I reviewed the same Web citation and reached a different conclusion.

    It said that while global sea ice areas are "near or slightly lower than those observed in late 1979," sea ice area in the Northern Hemisphere is "almost one million sq. km below" the levels of late 1979. That's roughly the size of Texas and California combined. In my mind, it should have triggered a call for clarification to the center.

    Previously:

  • NCLR President demands correction from Hannity

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last night, we noted that Sean Hannity claimed the National Council of La Raza "has called for Mexico to annex southwestern states."

    That isn't true, and today, NCLR president Janet Murguía blasted Hannity in a letter to Fox Executive Vice President John Moody:

    NCLR has never made the statement and does not support the views Mr. Hannity attributes to us, as even a cursory review of our public statements or website would substantiate. Such conspiracy theories would be silly if they were not so often used to create fear and distrust of all Hispanics living in America. While Mr. Hannity is well within his rights to disagree with the views of our organization, he is not entitled to lie about us. In light of this, we are asking in the strongest terms possible for an immediate on-air correction.

  • Lying about Joe Biden's "lie"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Right-wing bloggers claimed Biden simply made up his claim that Louisiana was losing 400 jobs a day. Biden was poking Gov. Jindal who suggests he might not take the stimulus money for his state of Louisiana.

    With that the right-wing bloggers came crashing down on Biden, calling him an "idiot," an "IDIOT," and "Vice Liar." (Get it?) The 400 figure was pure fiction.

    Blogger Dan Kennedy looks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Data and says Biden got it right. And Think Progress confirms that Louisiana had 430 new unemployed people every day during the month of December.

  • Coulter suggests Pelosi is "mentally retarded"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Coulter's February 25 column:

    As Obama prepared to deliver his address to Congress on Tuesday, the Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, Fox News' Bret Baier and Charles Krauthammer all gushed that history was being made as the first African-American president appeared before Congress. Even Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom I suppose I should note was the first Indian-American to give the Republican response to a president's speech, began with an encomium to the first black president. (Wasn't Bobby great in "Slumdog Millionaire"?) Are we going to have to hear about this for the next four years? Obama is becoming the Cal Ripken Jr. of presidents, making history every time he suits up for a game. Recently, Obama also became the first African-American president to order a ham sandwich late at night from the White House kitchen! That's going to get old pretty quick. But as long as the nation is obsessed with historic milestones, is no one going to remark on what a great country it is where a mentally retarded woman can become speaker of the house?

    Previously highlighted by Matthew Yglesias.

  • DeLay: To regain power, conservatives need "communications organizations that can... match Media Matters"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As first reported by TPM Media.

    MATT COOPER (Talking Points Memo): Congressman, it's good to see you. What do conservatives need to do to get back in power?

    FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DeLAY (R-TX): Well, first of all, we need leadership that understands that we've got to take this energy that President Obama is creating in the conservative movement and come together and build organizations that can drive a conservative message. We need a communications organizations [sic] that can, again, match Media Matters and Media Fund and the left-wing national media. We need coordination. Conservatives don't get it. We need to be working together and leverage not only our organizations but leverage our money. We need our donors to coordinate their giving and only give to projects that are effective. And we need to understand what the left is doing.

    COOPER: Right.

    DeLAY: People aren't even looking at what the left is doing. They've built the most powerful political coalition I've ever seen in my lifetime, and we're not anywhere near as good as they are. And we've got to rebuild our movement.

    COOPER: And how's your work on CCM [Coalition for a Conservative Majority] going?

    DeLAY: Well, we're struggling like everybody else, but if we can get our donors back again, we'll be out there just kicking butt and taking names.

    COOPER: I hear you. All right, thanks.

  • You mean Jindal exaggerated?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    About the tall Katrina tale he told on national TV Tuesday night?

    Well, then his aspiring national political career is over, right? Because the Beltway press made it quite plain while covering Al Gore's 2000 candidacy that exaggerating was a disqualifying offense for the White House. That exaggerating revealed a disturbing character defect, and that people prone to exaggeration were not only self-aggrandizing creeps, but could not be trusted to be POTUS. Period.

    Sorry, Gov. Jindal. The press was quite clear about that fact. Your only hope is that the press will adopt a completely separate standard for judging Republican and Democrat aspirants. And that the media's previously unwavering obsession with exaggerations will fail to materialize this time around.

    And c'mon, what are the odds that will happen?

  • Politico, please define "class warfare"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Responsible journalists use that loaded phrase with care. But we're talking about Politico, so today we get this ugly effort by Jeanne Cummings:

    "Class warfare returns to Washington"

    Wow, Obama, not known for his angry rhetoric--in fact, he's know for the opposite--has brought class warfare back to the Beltway? Here's how Politico defends using the nasty phrase:

    And right on cue, Obama defended his $1.3 trillion in tax hikes over 10 years with a little class warfare.

    "I know that this will not always sit well with the special interests and their lobbyists here in Washington, who think our budget and tax system is just fine as it is. No wonder — it works for them," the president said. "I work for the American people, and I'm determined to bring the change that the people voted for last November."

    You can read that passage twice or three times or ten times and you're not going to find any "class warfare." (Obama very gently tweaked "special interests and their lobbyists." That aint class warfare folks.) My hunch is Cummings and her editors knew that but didn't really care because they were wed to the phrase and they were wed to the misleading headline, which has become a sad hallmark at Politico.

  • RE: Fred Hiatt

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Speaking of Fred Hiatt's absurd claim that people who don't like George Will spreading global warming misinformation should "debate" him, rather than expect the Post to run a correction ...

    Yesterday's Washington Post featured op-eds by Henry Kissinger, David Broder, Bill Kristol, David Ignatius, and George Will. Today's brings op-eds from George Will, Michael Gerson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Kinsley, and Eugene Robinson.

    That's ten columns total. One is by a liberal (Robinson), one by a contrarian who may lean left (Kinsley), two by centrist Villagers (Broder and Ignatius - and remember, Village centrists are typically to the right of the actual center.) And six are by staunch conservatives - Will (twice), Krauthammer, former Nixon aide Kissinger, former Bush I aide Kristol, and former Bush II aide Gerson.

    Now, who is in charge of the Post's op-ed page? Fred Hiatt. If Fred Hiatt wants to pretend that critics of Will's falsehoods are welcome to debate Will, Fred Hiatt can start by regularly running op-eds by (more honest) liberal equivalents of Will, Krauthammer and Gerson. And no, Richard Cohen does not count.

  • Newsbusters' Huston shoots blanks at MSNBC

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Warner Todd Huston is upset that in a headline for an article about a triple homicide, MSNBC included the fact that the homicide was committed using an assault rifle. This, Huston insists, demonstrates "some old fashioned bias" on MSNBC's part; an attempt to "push its own anti-'assault rifle' meme."

    Here's Huston:

    MSNBC's version of the story clumsily screams "Man charged in assault rifle killings of 3 teens" over the top of its AP wire feed. Yet, while every story in the news and certainly every AP story mentions that the killer used an "assault rifle," only MSNBC put the words in the headline. This befits MSNBC's anti-gun agenda, presumably.

    By contrast, Huston offers examples of what he apparently views as good, unbiased headlines:

    Prosecutors: Man charged with murder in shootings of 3 teens on Chicago's South Side

    Now, if mentioning in the headline that the crime was committed using an assault rifle constitutes an effort to push an "anti-gun agenda" ... well ... wouldn't mentioning in the headline that the killings occurred by "shootings" do much the same thing? Does Huston think people are going to read headlines that refer to "shootings" and assume that they were the work of a criminal with a slingshot? A crossbow?

    But Huston can't criticize those headlines, though they also make clear that a gun was used. He can't do it because he needs something to contrast favorably with the MSNBC headline; the contrast is his evidence of "bias":

    MSNBC took the occasion of a triple homicide on Chicago's south side to push its own anti-"assault rifle" meme on February 27 by including the words "assault rifle" in the headline of its story on the incident. No other media source, however, took this unusual step. So, here we have some old fashioned bias by MSNBC.

    ...

    However, no other story has "assault rifle" in the headline but MSNBC.

    ...

    it is interesting that MSNBC elected to put the term in its headline, isn't it? It is telling that no other news source did so.

    Of course, you could just as easily say that news organizations that didn't note the use of an assault rifle demonstrated pro-assault weapon bias, and that the fact that MSNBC did include that detail confirms that the other news organizations are biased. See how easy it is to find bias the Newsbusters way?

    Huston concludes with a cheap shot at MSNBC:

    I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that the gun got top billing on MSNBC! Perhaps the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds of the headline writers at the cable TV newser?

    This is nothing more than a dishonest and dishonorable attempt to use the deaths of three teens in order to make MSNBC look bad.

    See, all of the headlines Huston cites in his diatribe - the MSNBC headline and the headlines he approves of - refer to the victims in much the same way. MSNBC mentions "3 teens"; the other two refer to "Chicago teens" and "3 teens." There is no difference between the "billing" MSNBC gives the victims and the "billing" given them by the headlines Huston approves of. Yet Huston falsely claims "the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds" of MSNBC headline writers.

    I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that Warner Todd Huston would cynically use my relative's death to score baseless political points against MSNBC.