• Barbara Walters thinks Rush Limbaugh is "fascinating"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Of course she does. And that's why ABC is including the right-wing hate talker in a primetime special of the year's most fascinating people. (Be sure to check local listings.)

    Because naturally, in a year when the country turned blue ABC should definitely celebrate the success of right-wing radio radio, right?

    Of course this is how the how media elites have treated Limbaugh for years; he's not a hate merchant, he's an engaging entertainer. He's not hack, he's influential. Y'know, the way he was able to rally conservatives last winter to reject John McCain as their party's nominee and the way Limbaugh's non-stop attacks on Barack Obama were able to turn the tide of the general election.

    Okay, those were complete failures and only highlighted Limbaugh's growing political irrelevance. But for celebrity journalists like Walters, the Limbaugh script was written long ago--he's fascinating. Anxious for his right-wing seal of approval (and spooked by his liberal bias charges), the mainstream press corps has for years treated Limbaugh with undeserved respect, worked to soften his radical edges, and presented him as simply a partisan pundit.

    That's why Time's Mark Halperin has labeled Limbaugh an "American iconic" figure, while NBC News anchor Brian Williams fretted that Limbaugh doesn't "get the credit he is due" as a broadcaster.

    Do you think there was any other reason the New York Times showered Limbaugh with attention this summer, with a laudatory Sunday magazine cover story (penned by a professional dittohead) that painted him as the brains of the GOP; "a polemicist and public intellectual."

    To the 'liberal' New York Times, Limbaugh's a "funny," "public intellectual" who produces "fluent, often clever political talk" and who also "instructs" and "teaches."

    And now Babs agrees.

    Here's a friendly wager. I'll donate $5 (hey, we're in an economic crisis) to Walters' charity of choice for each of the following questions shes asks Limbaugh in primetime:

    *Do you still think that' "what's good for Al Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party in this country today"?

    *Can you explain how Obama "loathes America"?

    *Do Democrats really "hate this country"?

    *What makes you think "Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, 'Have your way with me' " to African-Americans and gays"?

    *What makes you think philanthropist George Soros is a "self-hating Jew"?

    *Why did you call Sen. Tom Daschle "an Al Qaeda sympathizer"?

    *Are you gong to continue to refer to president Obama as a "Halfrican American"? Or the "little black man child"?

    *Do you still think Obama is "not black" and that "he's Arab"?

    *Were you able to find any proof that "Islamofascists are actually campaigning for the election of Democrats"?

    If Walters ever got up the nerve to confront Limbaugh about his hate speech, now that would be fascinating.

  • The NYT's woeful Minnesota recount reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The top of this article seems fine as the reporter outlines the extraordinarily close recount race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. But boy, the piece completely falls apart as the Times' Christina Capecchi stuffs the second half of the dispatch with right-wing talk points presented by right-wing talking heads.

    *The article quotes Coleman's election attorney who accuses the Franken camp of vote-counting ""shenanigans," but requires the attorney to provide not proof/examples.

    *In addressing the fact that the Secretary of State overseeing the recount is a Democrat (last time we checked that was allowed), the Times reports that Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten traced the official's "ties to liberal Democratic groups."

    The Times though, doesn't bother to note that Kersten is a right-winger who smeared Franken right before Election Day as a "slanderer of Christianity." She's hardly a source worth citing in the New York Times.

    *Speaking of dubious sources, the Times also quotes Sean Hannity who claims there's some "fishy business" unfolding in Minnesota. This has been the right-wing mantra all week: Dems are trying to "steal" the Minnesota election. The proof? There is none, which means there's absolutely no reason for the newspaper to be legitimize that kinds of GOP conspiracy talk.

    In total, the Times article quotes or references six Coleman supporters but just one Franken backer.

    The Franken/Coleman recount is going to be a lengthy process. Let's hope the Times can improve its coverage.

  • We don't think FNC's Moody's gonna get that apology

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Fox News' SVP John Moody wrote to FAIR in search of an "apology" after the liberal watch dog group highlighted the cabler's misguided, pre-election talking point about how the White House race was "tightening."

    In defending FNC, Moody claimed that analysis was made by on-air guests and that FNC had no control over what they would say.

    First, we're pretty sure Fox News had control over which guests they put on the air to discuss the campaign and also had a about a 90 percent idea of what the guests would say about the election. Meaning, who doubt Moody and company were displeased when guest after guest talked about the "tightening" White House race.

    And second, as FAIR notes, the "tightening" schtick was also peddled by lots of Fox News employees. Fox News, of course, was free to stitch together whatever narrative it wanted about the election (i.e. it's "tightening"). But the news org shouldn't then play dumb when observers note how wrong the narrative was.

  • Bill O'Reilly, love him and hate him

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That, according to Americans surveyed by Pew Research.

    Asked to name their favorite campaign journalists, O'Reilly landed the top spot. Asked to name their least favorite campaign journalists, O'Reilly also landed the top spot.

    In general, the survey was a bit of a joke, because most people polled couldn't, or didn't, name any journalist they liked or disliked. O'Reilly was the most/least favorite, but only about 5 percent mentioned him. The huge majority of people asked about journalists (approximately 55 percent), drew a blank.

    Oh, and we also chuckled over the response to the post-election Pew question, "Will you miss following campaign news?" A whopping 82 percent said no.

  • The NYT takes CF's advice!

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Well, that's our story and we're sticking with.

    But in truth, we doubt news from the Times today that Patrick "Cackle" Healy is moving off the politics beat and will now be covering Broadway has much to do with our constant critiques of Healy's dreadful, trivia-obsessed work (as we quote ourselves at length):

    The New York Times has a long, proud tradition of highlighting campaign reporters who are able to size up elections and write with grace and insight about unfolding events and help make the campaign more sensible for readers.

    Patrick Healy pretty much does the opposite.

    Whether or not we can take credit, we still think the latest personnel move is best for everyone involved. (Especially CF!)

  • Why it's impossible to take Salon's Camille Paglia seriously

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    There are lots of reasons, actually. But just to pick the most egregious in the light on the right-leaning feminist writer's latest (where she gets bogged down in paragraph after paragraph of Bill Ayers speculation), it's the part where she condemns Democrats for their "sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy."

    She continued:

    A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology -- contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought. One would have to look back to the Eisenhower 1950s for parallels to this grotesque lock-step parade of bourgeois provincialism, shallow groupthink and blind prejudice.

    Basically, Paglia was shocked by the hate and certainly suggested it was fueled by the fact that Palin's a woman.

    Of course, it's possible that the 2008 campaign produced writers who uncorked more irrational, gender-bashing hatred of Hillary Clinton than Paglia did, but it would be a pretty short list.

    As Jessica at Jezebel notes today:

    Paglia decries what she describes as "A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage," Democrats displayed when dealing with Sarah Palin. If she wants to see a shocking level of irrational emotionalism, I suggest she look in the friggin' mirror.

  • Into the swamp of hate radio

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Last week Media Matters detailed how, beyond the marquee names of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, right-wing talkers across the AM dial wallowed in the some of the nastiest imaginable Barack Obama smears during the campaign. (i.e. Obama "wants to gas the Jews.")

    This week, MMA offers more illumination, and it ain't pretty. Among the talkers' favorite targets:

    Racial and ethnic minorities, women, gays and lesbians, and the poor...those with HIV/AIDS, people with autism, teachers, other radio hosts, comedians perceived as progressive, Democrats in the House and Senate, and the organizations that document their attacks.

    Just last week during a radio interview I was asked what was the biggest difference between liberal AM talk and right-wing AM talk. I think the answer's pretty obvious: hate.

  • Tell us again why Palin avoided the press?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because from what we can see, journalists, especially the TV ones, are in love with the woman. And we assume the crush will last for many years to come.

    Her post-election chats have been, for a journalism perspective, pretty dismal. But we don't really think journalism was the point of Matt Lauer hanging out in Palin's Wasilla kitchen. Palin is now a celebrity and the press is very happy about that. (Not more tedious discussions about energy dependence.)

    As David Zurawik, the Baltimore Sun's television critic, told the WaPo:

    "I was really disappointed in Matt Lauer," he says. "I thought he was so accommodating and letting her get away with stuff without following up." Zurawik calls the Van Susteren interview "beyond friendly," saying: "Greta Van Susteren is totally sympathetic to her and makes no secret about it."

  • Is Shep Smith looking for a new home?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because Fox News doesn't really seem to suit him any more, in part because he has no patience for the FNC mantra that the "mainstream media was so in the tank for Obama," as a recent guest of his put it. Here was Shep's response:

    "Oh, please...the mainstream media reflected what was happening in this nation. It did not drive it. The blogs didn't drive this movement. The media didn't drive this movement. Barack Obama did not lose this election. It was his to lose, it was not John McCain's to win. The Republicans had no shot unless the Democrats gave it to them, and they didn't. And to blame the media is a cop out and ridiculous. We are always here to be blamed by people like you who enjoy that activity. We always will be. When the Democrats lost last time, it was our fault. When the Republicans lost this time, it was our fault. It's not."