• A run on post-election gun sales?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That's what the Los Angeles Times claims in an article today. It reports that some gun owners are terrified that president Obama ("the nation's first black president," the newspaper reminds us in the lead) will outlaw firearms. Either that or they're "preparing to protect themselves in the event of a race war," say the gun buyers.

    A provocative news angle, for sure. But the Times' proof of a gun rush seems pretty thin. The paper acknowledges there are no statistics on the number of guns purchased nationwide, or even within individual states, since Nov. 4. Instead, the paper relies on "anecdotal reports," which turns out to be quoting two gun shop owner in Texas, and citing the fact that background checks for new gun owners in Colorado was up dramatically the Saturday before Election Day.

    Seems to us the Times needed to corral more proof if it was going to splash such a controversial story (i.e. a possible "race war") in its news pages.

  • Let's count the ways CBS kowtowed to the GOP during Memogate

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    When controversy erupted in September 2004, about CBS' report regarding Bush's Texas Air National Guard service and documents used in the report, CBS execs, as they created an "independent" panel to review the saga, were for more concerned with pacifying their right-wing partisan critics than they were actually getting to the bottom on the Bush story.

    That's become quite clear thanks to the revelations found amidst the ongoing lawsuit between CBS and Dan Rather, who was shown the door after Memogate. No wonder CBS attorneys were so desperate to get Rather's civil suit tossed; the revelations about CBS's butt-kissing to the GOP are nearly as damaging as the original Memogate story. Let's review:

    *In coming up with names of media luminaries to serve on its "independent" panel, CBS included committed fact-finders such as Rush Limbaugh, Roger Ailes and Matt Drudge.

    *CBS attorneys conceded the "independent" panel list tilted way right in order to "open itself up to its harshest conservative critics and to ensure that the Panel's findings would be found credible."

    *CBS reached out to "GOP folks" prior to assembling its "independent" panel and took their temperature on who should oversee the work.

    *CBS insiders were concerned that former GOP senator Warren Rudman would not "mollify" the network's right-wing critics; he was not selected for the "independent" panel.

    *CBS tapped GOP attorney Dick Thornburgh, who enjoyed close relations with the Bush family, to head up the "independent" panel.

    *When Thornburgh sent detailed questions to the White House for Bush to answer about his indifferent military service, Thornbugh was told by Bush aide Dan Bartlett that Bush would not cooperate. The "independent" panel dropped the queries and made no mention of Bush's lack of cooperation.

    *After the "independent" report was issued, CBS rewarded the White House stonewalling by hiring Bartlett to be an on-air news analysis.

  • Newsbusters can't find hate on talk radio

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Brent Bozell's team is angry that somebody wrote a column criticizing talk radio and called it hateful. Newsbusters seemed to suggest that Douglas Turner, the offending Buffalo News columnist, didn't provide any examples of this alleged right-wing hate on talk radio because it doesn't really exist:

    He makes this "violent" claim but offers not one single example. Who was "violent"? What radio host urged listeners to violence? This is quite a charge and it would be nice if Turner would provide an example instead of throwing such a bomb without proving his wild-eyed claim.

    Let's see if Media Matters can help shed some light on the topic and put an end to this quaint notion that GOP talk radio, particularly during the just-concluded election, was just minding its own business talking policy and never crossed the line into hate mongering.

    *Bill Cunningham claimed Obama "wants to gas the Jews."

    *Mark Levin compared Obama to Hitler

    *"Gunny" Bob Newman claimed "there will be an invasion of Muslim terrorists" if Obama were elected.

    *Michael Savage announced that Obama was "hand-picked by some very powerful forces ... to drag this country into a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War."

    See here for all the details and see if you think Turner's claim about hate radio stands.

  • And so it begins

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    First small, and soon mid-sized, American cities begin to lose their daily newspapers. First up, New Britain and Bristol, Ct. It's a void that will not be filled, as the Hartford Courant notes:

    What's harder to quantify is the loss to the communities that rely on the newspapers to report births, deaths, local government news, local sports and snippets of daily life. No one appears ready to fill the void. The Courant, the state's largest newspaper, sharply cut its local news reporting staff in July.

    The stock for the Journal Register Company, which owns the two faltering Connecticut dailies, is currently trading for 1 cent.

    Meanwhile, conservative press critics, who don't want to improve journalism, they want to eliminate it, snicker as they watch the demise of newspapers.

  • Roger Ailes misremembers the past

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Interesting behind-the-scenes article in Broadcasting & Cable from the Fox News set on Election Night. ("It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one—for America and Fox News.")

    The misremembering comes from FNC's Roger Ailes, when asked about how the Obama administration might affect Fox News' ratings:

    "I remember when Bill Clinton took over and within a very short time he had to get rid of a couple of appointees," he says, referring to Zoë Baird and Lani Guinier. "And then he got into gays in the military, and suddenly issues became critical and our ratings started to climb back up. I expect a dip over the next couple of months and then a big return to our numbers in late January, early February."

    Slight problem, Fox News wasn't even on the air "when Bill Clinton took over" in early 1993. Fox News debuted in 1996.

  • Why can't the press quit the Clintons, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton recently spoke on the phone, with Obama in search of advice from a White House pro on how to protect her children from the media spotlight. Clinton reportedly was generous with her time and advice.

    If you don't think that's a news hook for more endless speculation about what the Clintons really think, than you're not cut out to be a modern day Beltway reporter.

    Because of course the the D.C. press corps would use that phone call to fire up its incessant Clinton drama engine, the way Politico did, comically insisting the innocuous Cilnton-Obama chat represented, "the latest phase in the ruling-class soap opera that is the Obama-Clinton alliance."

    As one Politico commenter counseled, "Ah, just like Politico to keep stirring up old ****! Give it a rest already!"

  • Still searching for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Republican-friendly Maegan Carberry and Elizabeth Blackney urge conservatives to join the online revolution, which seems to be passing them by.

    They write at HuffPost:

    When will the new media market evolve to become the more balanced forum of news and analysis that Americans clearly crave? Or let's be more frank: When will the Republicans stop jabbering on talk radio and join the blogosphere to diversify the talking points and conversation?

    Good question.

  • Worst Headline of The Day

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Goes to the WSJ's "New Administration Would Risk Backlash With Gas-Drilling Reversal."

    It's about the possible political drawbacks the Obama administration would face for taking quick action to reverse the current White House's decision to expand natural-gas drilling in Utah. That's all well and good in terms of a legit news story.

    But the Journal never points to any proof (i.e. polling data) to substantiate the claim that Obama would face a "backlash" if he halted the drilling. The closest the article comes is here:

    John P. Burke, a professor at the University of Vermont who wrote a book on presidential transitions, said the incoming administration risks a partisan backlash if it clamps down too hard on drilling -- especially coming off a campaign in which a potent Republican rallying cry was "Drill, baby, drill!"

    So basically, hardcore Republicans might be upset with the gas-drilling reversal. But we're pretty sure partisan Republicans are going to be upset by all sorts of initiatives taken by the Obama team.

    To us, that hardly constitutes a "backlash."

  • CBS: Warren Rudman wouldn't "mollify" the right during Memogate investigation

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Looking through some of the legal documents in connection to the ongoing between Dan Rather and CBS regarding his dismissal from the network following the Memogate controversy in 2004, it's becoming increasingly clear just how spooked the network was by right-wing attacks CBS. And how CBS suits bent over backwards to placate them.

    We noted earlier that in an effort to pacify conservatives who were howling about CBS' liberal bias, the network, when putting together its "independent" panel to investigate memo reporting, drew up a list of possible members that included Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh.

    Looking at the documents ourselves, we now see that even when discussing more serious candidates for the panel, insiders at CBS were preoccupied with selecting somebody to run the "independent" panel who conservatives would embrace.

    One finalist was former GOP senator Warren Rudman. According to an internal CBS memo, he received high marks: "Mentioned by several GOP folks who feel he is above reproach and he would be his own man."

    Did you notice how it seems obvious that CBS execs were out taking the temperature of "GOP folks" before they appointed the point person to their "independent" panel? Note that there's no evidence from the assembled memos that CBS reached out to any Democratic "folks" to get their input.

    Despite those high mark for Rudman though, reservations persisted. From the memo: "Was not sure Rudman would mollify the right."

    And with that, Rudman was not selected.

    Anyone else having increased doubts about the conclusions reached by CBS's "independent" panel?

    FYI, GOP attorney Dick Thornburgh, who enjoys close ties to the Bush family, was ultimately selected to investigate CBS's reporting on George W. Bush's national guard service. Thornburgh's law firm billed CBS $594,000 for its work on the "independent" panel.