• Newsbusters' Blumer digs deeper

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, I explained that Newsbuster's Tom Blumer had a bit of trouble reading an AP article he criticized. See, Blumer quoted a paragraph that was clearly referring to Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer - and then attacked it for downplaying Tim Geithner's tax troubles.

    But the paragraph didn't have anything to do with Geithner. Here's the first clue: the paragraph began, "An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday." Guess what? The Geithner story played out before last Tuesday. And here's how the paragraph ended: "rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on." Guess what? The administration didn't drop Geithner; it stood by him, and he was confirmed as Treasury Secretary.

    In other words, it is completely obvious that the paragraph wasn't about Tim Geithner in any way. Yet Blumer huffed that it was "beyond risible" because the AP reporter "knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"

    Well, it turns out that Tom Blumer responded to my post. Incredibly, he stands by his misreading of the paragraph in question. Well, sort of. Here's Blumer:

    As to the accusation of misreading the fifth paragraph -- Nice try, no sale. Of course, "Tuesday's nominees" in the fifth paragraph weren't Geithner or Daschle; but the "old story" Babington referred to was all about them. Babington made it look as if Tuesday's nominees had the same problem as the previous nominees (taxes on "household help and other services). That's obviously not the case.


    Blumer wants you to think he knew all along that "Tuesday's nominees" wasn't a reference to Geithner. This is nonsense for a couple of reasons, the first being that the phrase "Tuesday's nominees" didn't appear in the AP article. Blumer invented it, then put it in quotes. Second ... well, decide for yourself. Here's the AP paragraph in question:

    An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday: A new president's team imperfectly vetted top nominees. The nominees, it turns out, had not paid taxes for household help or other services when they were private citizens. The news media and political adversaries bored in. And rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on.

    And here's what Blumer said about it: "This is beyond risible. Babington knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"

    Does that sound like someone who knew that the paragraph wasn't about Geithner? Of course not. He thought it was about Geithner, it clearly wasn't, so now he's trying to pretend that he knew all along that it wasn't. Except that he's also asserting that it really was about Geithner, by claiming "the 'old story' Babington referred to was all about them."

    Well, that doesn't fly, either. I'll explain this once again, and for Blumer's benefit, I'll use the smallest words I can think of:

    Tim Geithner's story didn't play out last Tuesday.

    The administration (oops: "White House") didn't drop him and move on - last Tuesday or any other time.

    Therefore, the "old story" cannot be "all about" him; his story does not fit the "old story" Babington described.

    Also, Geithner's story isn't all that old; it happened a couple of weeks ago.

    So what did "an old story" refer to? It obviously referred to a history of nominees of both parties whose confirmations ran trouble because of tax problems.

    Bottom line: The paragraph in question doesn't say a word about Tim Geithner, and Tom Blumer attacked it as though it did. When his error was pointed out, he asserts that the phrase "old story" referred to Geithner. But it didn't, for painfully obvious reasons.

    Blumer concluded his response: "I recommend remedial reading and comprehension courses for MM's 'County Fair.'"

    No, really, he did.

  • Victim Alert: Ann Coulter being investigated for voter fraud

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Anyone want to guess how long it will take for Coulter to play the victim?

    From The Huffington Post via The New York Daily News:

    The New York Daily News reports that Ann Coulter is under investigation by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission for allegedly voting in that state while registered to vote in New York City.


    Coulter was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing in 2006 for allegedly violating Florida's voter registration laws by voting in the wrong precinct.

    But Brad Friedman of reports that Coulter was never actually cleared; the Florida Election Commission dropped the case after deciding that the two-year statute of limitations had run out.

  • A five part plan for progressives

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Chris Bowers over at Open Left offers up a five point plan for the "Stimulus Aftermath" and how progressives can do better next time. Including this tidbit:

    5. Join Media Matters for America: Again, this one is straightforward, but still important. The media coverage of the Obama administration has clearly become a huge problem, and there just aren't many progressive organizations other than Media Matters working to correct it. If you want to help out, join MMFA now.

    And really, support progressive media in general. Click on ads on progressive websites, and make donations to progressive media organizations of all types when they hold fundraisers. If we want a better media, we need to not only put pressure on existing, national media institutions, but to actively support emerging media of all sorts.

  • The Los Angeles Times forgets the money quote

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Profiling Rush Limbaugh, the Times made reference to the AM talker's "contentious commentary." But for some reason the Times left out Limbaugh's famous quote, recently aired during an interview with Fox News. It's a quote that perfectly captured the hate speech that Limbaugh peddles, but it's a quote the mainstream press just isn't comfortable repeating. So, as with the Times article, the offensive quote got flushed down the memory hole.

    Here's what the Times didn't include in its Limbaugh profile: "We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles...becaue his father was black."

    And yes, the Times won't touch it but that Limbaugh quote picked up on the theme the talker aired during the general election, about how "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me'" to African-Americans and gays.

    The traditional press seems very anxious to document Limbaugh's power, but very uncomfortable reporting what the host actually says.

  • An Alex Rodriguez prediction

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC -- among other news outlets -- is showing signs of obsessing over Alex Rodriguez' steroid use.

    Here's betting that their coverage doesn't spend much time on the fact that Rodriguez' test results were supposed to remain confidential, and the labor relations implications of the fact that they didn't. Millions of employees across the country are subjected to drug testing, presumably with some assurances that the results will be private. If employers don't keep those assurances to millionaire baseball players, why should anyone think they will be any more careful with a minimum-wage-earning janitor? What consequences will there be for Major League Baseball's failure to keep Rodriguez' test results confidential?

    Rather than merely focusing on the fact that someone who was already one of the 2 or 3 best baseball players in the world used steroids for a few years, news reports -- particularly those that don't appear in the sports pages -- should keep in mind that there's more to this story than what Alex Rodriguez did, regardless of what you think of him. Maybe they could sprinkle in the occasional privacy expert among the indignant sports radio hosts.

  • But I want to watch tv's The Bachelor!

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Hullabaloo's Digby and Washington Monthly's Steve Benen look at the media hysterics surrounding tonight's Presidential press conference on the economy – they networks are upset because broadcasting the press conference will amount to $9 million in lost ad revenue.

    I for one – and I may get in trouble for saying this – think the nets are right. The Bachelor, The Big Bang Theory, House and Chuck, are obviously far more important than a major presidential press conference about the dire economic condition of our nation.


  • Video killed the radio star... and intelligent debate of the stimulus

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Washington Monthly and Truth Dig look at the fundamentally flawed coverage of the President's economical recovery plan.

    Responding to a new Gallup poll, Washington Monthly notes:

    Two quick thoughts on this. First, I'm a little surprised by these results. Not only have conservative Republicans been dominating the discourse, but the critics' talking points have been largely internalized by journalists covering the debate. There's at least some data suggesting Americans actually want less stimulus in the stimulus bill. It's at least possible, then, that the Gallup results are an outlier. (It's also possible that the numbers are connected to Obama's personal popularity -- Rasmussen doesn't include the president's name in its stimulus polling, while Gallup did.)

    Second, Gallup noted "the degree to which Obama appears to be maintaining the upper hand over his opponents." If only that were true. Given what we've seen of late, there's no reason to believe Republicans' conduct is in any way connected to the demands of voters. The president would have the upper hand if the minority party were swayed by public opinion, but at least for now, the GOP is more interested in standing on the party's "core principles" than anything else.

    From Truth Dig:

    ...watching TV news may actually shrink your brain. Well, that's not fair, but it certainly won't teach you much about stimulating the economy. That's because the personalities that populate the airwaves—and not just Fox News—are given license to repeat untruths over and over again.

  • Will the press try to clear up GOP misinformation?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That's what blogger Bob Cesca wonders, noting that's it's become clear Republicans, with the help of Matt Drudge, seem to be purposely conflating Obama's stimulus bill with the separate, pending attempt to bailout out struggling banks.

    Cesca notes:

    Recently, there's been pundit chatter about how some Americans are inadvertently confusing the two (very different) government plans. It now appears as if the Republicans will be seizing upon this confusion in order to further diminish public support for the recovery bill.

  • Ann Coulter: Economic Expert?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    News Hounds takes apart Ann Coulter's recent appearance on Fox News' Hannity:

    It seems that on FOX News, the only credentials a guest needs are a willingness to viciously malign Democrats. How else to explain the appearance of Ann "Boombox" Coulter on last night's (2/6/09) Hannity as an expert to discuss the Senate's compromise on the stimulus plan?

    …Coulter, who has no discernible expertise in economics, provided just the kind of thoughtful and insightful analysis of the stimulus plan you'd expect from her.

    First, she declared the three Republican Senators (Snowe, Collins and Specter) who are supporting the Democratic plan, "literally, a couple of the stupidest, most traitorous Republicans."

    Then Coulter displayed her money mojo. "The government doesn't do anything," Coulter said. "It doesn't make money."


    Next, Coulter revealed her grasp of international economics – by repeating a false conservative talking point: "Japan tried it and if the Japanese can't pull it off..." She switched gears to add this patriotic thought, "As Charles Murray has pointed out, they DO have higher IQ's. If they can't pull off this kind of spending your way into an economic recovery, then we certainly can't."

  • Media out of touch on "bipartisanship," part IV

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Earlier, I noted that a Gallup poll showing broad public support for President Obama's handing of the stimulus package and broad disapproval of the GOP's performance undermines the media meme that it is the Democrats who have been insufficiently "bipartisan" in their approach.

    Turns out a CNN poll provides even better evidence that the media and the public are far apart:

    Three out of four poll respondents said that Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, but only 39 percent feel that congressional Republicans are cooperating enough with the president.