• MoDo, eight years late

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's amazing how so many pundits who spent the entire 2000 mocking Al Gore, telling us how phony and abnormal and boring he was, and how authentic George W. Bush was, now try to rewrite history and pretend that they saw right through W. eight years ago. Add Maureen Dowd to the list of fictional I-told-you-so's.

    In her Sunday column, Down writes:

    The really scary part of the Palin interview was how much she seemed like W. in 2000, and not just the way she pronounced nu-cue-lar. She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads, not people who clear brush at the ranch or shoot moose on the tundra.

    Palin's a lightweight just like W. in 2000, Dowd warns us. It would have been nice if Dowd had, y'know, actually warned us about that eight years ago instead of obsessing over Gore's trumped up faults.

  • Old habits die hard

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    These are the three latest entries on the Los Angeles Times' "Top of the Ticket" blog:

    "The Ticket's weekly national electoral map; McCain's bounce gains 2 states": Actually, The Ticket's national electoral map is Karl Rove's electoral map. Literally: "Here is the latest national electoral map constructed by Karl Rove & Co., which The Ticket publishes weekly as they become available."

    "So, looks like it was Charlie Gibson's gaffe on Bush doctrine, not Sarah Palin's": Based on nothing more than the say-so of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, The Ticket leaps to Sarah Palin's defense, approvingly quotes Krauthammer's attacks on Gibson, and snidely concludes: Wonder if there'll be time to cover this story on 'World News' come Monday night." But even Krauthammer acknowledges "Palin didn't know" what the Bush doctrine is. The Ticket quotes that acknowledgment - but still asserts that Palin didn't commit a "gaffe" on the question. Bizarre.

    "Oops, Obama ad mocks McCain's inability to send e-mail. Trouble is, he can't due to tortured fingers": The Ticket picks up on conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg's spin and runs with it. The Ticket doesn't mention that McCain told the New York Times earlier this year, "I use the Blackberry, but I don't e-mail, I've never felt the particular need to e-mail." If he can use the buttons on a Blackberry, it seems pretty safe to assume the Goldberg/Ticket line is just spin. (h/t John Cole, via Atrios)

    So: a post in which The Ticket uncritically adopts as fact Jonah Goldberg's defense of John McCain, a post in which The Ticket uncritically adopts Charles Krauthammer's defense of Sarah Palin, and a post in which The Ticket adopts Karl Rove's electoral map as its own.

    Now, would it surprise you to learn that all three entries were written by Los Angeles Times reporter Andrew Malcolm? Would it surprise you to learn that Malcolm used to be Laura Bush's press secretary?

  • UPI still exists?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The struggling wire service, owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has been fading fast in recent years. Is this why? In a reaction piece to the Palin/Gibson interview, UPI runs a wildly opinionated piece, although it's not tagged as an editorial, that claims, "Gibson was out to embarrass Palin and expose her presumed ignorance from the word go," and that the ABC host was "out for blood and inherently applied a double-standard compared."

    That seems to be putting the thumb on the scale, don't you think?

  • "Hack theater critics"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    techPresident's Zephyr Teachout, via CJR, on today's campaign press corps:

    Post-modern political reporters and bloggers act as hack theater critics, judging performances not by how they as individuals respond, but by how they believe the mythical "american people," "independent voters," and "women" (and most bizarrely "the media") will respond. The standard role of the most prominent commentator and reporter is theater critic first, fact-checker second, independent questioner a distant third. (The inverted triangle reflects this-five paragraphs of post-modern critique; two paragraphs of fact-checking; an unanswered question dangled like a preposition going nowhere at the end.)

  • NYTimes quotes Michelle Malkin

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As if she's an authority on something, which is always dangerous.

    The article is about Charlie Gibson and the reviews he received for his interviews with Sarah Palin. The Times reported that conservative were angry and noted that Malkins on her blog, "posted the headline "ABC News Blows It" on minutes after the first of Mr. Gibson's interviews had been shown on "World News" on Thursday. Specifically, "The concerns she tallied about Mr. Gibson included: "Taking quotes out of context," "Getting basic facts wrong," and "engaging in distortionary hype.""

    That's all well and good. But this being Michell Malkin, whose track record for truth telling is thin, the Times should have tried to determine whether her allegations carried any weight. The Times did not, giving readers the impression that Malkin was dealing with facts. (Not smart.)

    Had the Times bothered to investigate, it would have discovered that, for instance, for her claim that Gibson got "basic facts wrong," Malkin, to prove her point, linked to an item at National Reviews Online which criticized the wording of an ABC News press release touting the Palin interview. That's the proof that Gibson got "basic facts wrong." Oy.

    Like we said, whenever the Times feels the temptation to take Malkin seriously, it ought to resist.

  • WaPo plays dumb about Bush Doctrine

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is just sad.

    Embracing the GOP spin from the right-wing press, the Post on Saturday runs a front page piece actually suggesting it wasn't such big a deal that Sarah Palin didn't know what the Bush Doctrine was when quizzed by ABC's Charlie Gibson this week. The Post, acting confused, claims there have been so many so-called Bush Doctrines that Palin might have just not known which one Gibson was referring to.

    Ugh. Let's just say we agree with WaPo reader "toohool" who posted this comment: "This is dumb. Do a Google News search for "Bush Doctrine" for any span of time prior to yesterday. There is no ambiguity."

    But look, the Post even got a serious person to back up the laughably thin premise of the article. Which independent source did the paper tap? The Post got a former staff member of Bush's National Security Council.

    It makes sense that Charles Krauthammer would float the same Bush Doctrine spin on the WaPo opinion page on Saturday. It's his job to stand up for the GOP ticket. But in the Post's news pages?

  • Where's the rest of the story?


    The media finally seem to be showing interest in the refusal on the part of the town of Wasilla, Alaska, while Sarah Palin was mayor, to pay for rape kits for the victims of sexual assault. The Associated Press has a fairly informative article on the subject, but we can only assume that its last paragraph was inadvertently lopped off. Here's how one version of the AP story currently ends:

    Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the campaign of Palin and John McCain, said that Palin "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."

    The AP gave no indication that it asked Comella the obvious follow-up: Why, if Palin does not believe that rape victims should have to pay for their own evidence-gathering test, did this practice continue for four years while Palin was mayor, with the practice ending only after the state legislature stepped in and outlawed it?

  • Inappropriate content?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Blogger Bruce Wilson specializes in researching the religious right and it was his viral video earlier this year, "God Sent Hitler," that forced McCain to walk away from Pastor John Hagee. More recently, Wilson posted a very important clip about Sarah Palin's church and the often radical brand of faith it practices. The clip was picked up all over the blogosphere and as of Thursday had been seen more than 160,000 at YouTube. (Watch the video here.)

    But then the clip was yanked. When Wilson tried to find out why he was told by YouTube it was because of "inappropriate content," which strikes us as very odd. Here's hoping YouTube rethinks the ban.

    Meanwhile, we hear the video has sparked a growing online debate within the religious right itself, as more and more followers raise questions about Palin's church and the faith practiced there.

  • More questions for the AP's Tom Raum

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, AP reporter Tom Raum claimed "many liberals" are "belittling" Palin by saying that as a mother of five, she lacks the "time" to be vice president -- but Raum didn't bother to name a single such liberal. So Atrios suggested readers contact Raum and ask him to do so.

    Today, Glenn Greenwald explains that one blogger got a response from Raum consisting of 19 quotes -- not one of which was an example of a liberal belitting Palin by saying that as a mother of five she lacks the time to be vice president. Not a single one.

    You can see Raum's list here. It raises an obvious question: Did Raum compile the list himself? Did someone else at the AP compile it? Or was it compiled by Republican operatives? If it was compiled by Republicans, why is Tom Raum simply cutting and pasting from GOP opposition research in support of his articles?

    Greenwald has invited Raum to appear with him on Salon Radio to discuss Raum's article. If Raum appears, maybe he'll explain where he got that list.