There are many things wrong with Ben McGrath's Tea Party valentine in this week's New Yorker, which goes out of its way to whitewash the divisiveness and hate that fuels much of the movement. (Instead, "Inclusiveness was the point" of the movement, McGrath stresses.)
But this part is really inexcusable, as the New Yorker plays dumb about the crowd estimates for last September's rally in Washington, D.C. [emphasis added]:
Politics is ultimately a numbers game, and the natural excitement surrounding 9.12 drove crowd estimates upward, from an early lowball figure of sixty thousand, reported by ABC News, into the hundreds of thousands and across the million mark, eventually nearing two million--an upper limit of some significance, because 1.8 million was the figure commonly reported in mainstream or "state-run" media outlets as the attendance at President Obama's Inauguration. "There are more of us than there are of them, and we know the truth," one of the Kentucky organizers, who had carpooled to D.C. with a couple of co-workers from an auto-parts warehouse, told me. The fact that the mainstream media generally declined to acknowledge the parallel, regarding the marchers as a loud and motley long tail of disaffection, and not a silent majority, only hardened their resolve.
Are you kidding me? According to the New Yorker, the "mainstream media" declined to acknowledge that 1.8 million people showed up at the Tea Party rally? Might that be because 1.8 million people didn't show up and that number was pure fantasy, whipped up by the likes of Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck. Or, to put it another way, the press didn't report the 1.8 million number because it was off the mark by 1.7 million.
Faced with one of the Tea Party's truly monumental falsehoods (1.8 million marched on Washington!), the New Yorker, rather that highlighting the fictional streak that runs through the movement, instead treats the 1.8 million number as legit and seems to scold the "mainstream media" for not reporting the number. A number the Tea Party folks made up, which the New Yorker never makes clear.
UPDATED: Notice how ABC News reported the "lowball" figure of 60,000, according to the magazine. But that makes no sense because that 60,000 crowd estimate came from Washington, D.C.'s fire department. Meaning, it wasn't a "lowball" estimate. It was the official estimate. The other, larger numbers were simply fabricated.
The New Yorker leaves that part out, though.
In a January 25, 2010 New York Times article, Kate Zernike writes:
A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about "profiteering."
The convention's difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.
The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost -- $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare -- as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin's speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny.
The article also quotes Philip Glass, national director of the National Precinct Alliance, on his concerns regarding the Tea Party Nation. The National Precinct Alliance, described on its website as "a constitutionally conservative organization," has reportedly withdrawn from the Tea Party convention:
"We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grass-roots movement," [Philip Glass] said in a statement. "We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a nonprofit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena."
In a Politico article headlined "History according to Glenn Beck," reporter Michael Calderone asked history professors what they thought of Beck's documentary on "the atrocities of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara - 'the true unseen history of Marxism, progressivism and communism; as Beck described it."
In the article, Clemson professor Steven Marks called Beck's assertions "a complete lie":
Clemson University professor Steven Marks, author of "How Russia Shaped the Modern World," said that while Beck doesn't explicitly tie the left-wing totalitarian regimes of the past to contemporary liberals, that's what "he's hinting at here."
"No one in their right mind is going to defend Stalin or Mao or Che Guevara," Marks said. "The implication is that this is what's going to happen if Democrats get their way. This is just a complete lie."
Boston College professor Alan Wolfe said Beck "lives in a complete alternative universe":
Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Life at Boston College, said that the film not only isn't accurate, but that Beck "lives in a complete alternative universe."
As an example, he said, Beck mentions how the Nazis supported programs like universal health care as evidence that their ideology may have more to do with the left than the totalitarian right.
Nazi Germany was "not evil because of their economic program," said Wolfe, which he noted included a few programs designed to promote public health.
"It was evil," he said, " because it aimed at the extermination of European Jewry."
From the polling firm comes this headline today:
Obama's Approval Most Polarized for First-Year President
It turns out Democrats really like Obama, Republicans really don't, and there's a 65-point gap between the two, which is the largest Gallup has ever recorded during the first year.
What's more telling, though, is that from Gallup's polling data in recent years, we learn that Republican voters basically don't like new Democratic presidents. Period. By comparison, though, Democratic voters often give new Republican presidents the benefit of the doubt in their first year.
So, while it's technically accurate to say Obama is the most polarizing first-year president, it's also accurate to say that partisan Republicans voters have, once again, almost instantly rejected a new Democratic president.
Should the December attempt to blow up an airliner as it was landing in Detroit be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act or by civilian authorities as a criminal act?
The Chronicle noted:
As Eric Boehlert of Media Matters observed when Rasmussen asked the same question about the Fort Hood shootings, it's a misleading proposal, based on false assumptions, since terrorism is a criminal activity and is investigated by civilian authorities all the time.
The newspaper then pressed pollster Scott Rasmussen on the issue. Note his complete lack of response to my specific critique about his illogical polling question [emphasis added]:
Rasmussen's general response to such concerns was simple: "For the most part, it's just people don't like a particular question, they get upset about it, and more generally they either don't pay attention to the details or they are just don't like the message that comes out of it."
Not a reassuring sign when Rasmussen won't even try to defend the often God-awful polling question his team concocts.
Howard Kurtz suggests Fox's "news programming" is balanced and the Washington Post's editorial page is liberal:
Knoxville, Tenn.: Why do so many media outlets, when mentioning "Fox News", say "which some say has conservative views"? This seems to be the equivalent of saying "The Washington Post, which some say is a newspaper..."
Why is the rest of the press corp afraid to call a spade a spade, particularly when (as in this case) it is so virulently blatant?
Howard Kurtz: Because some say a distinction must be made between Fox's opinion shows (O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity) and its news programming. Just as you have to make a distinction between The Post's news pages and its left-leaning editorial page.
This reveals more about Kurtz's own leanings than those of Fox News and the Washington Post's editorial pages.
First, no such distinction "must be made" between Fox's opinion shows and its news programming other opinion shows:
And there's plenty more where that came from.
As for the Washington Post: Does this sound like a "left-leaning editorial page"?
Powell's U.N. address occurred on February 5, 2003. A look at the editorials and columns that appeared in the next day's edition of The Washington Post makes clear how quickly the media ran to Powell's side.
The Post itself led things off with an editorial headlined -- what else? -- "Irrefutable" that declared, "AFTER SECRETARY OF STATE Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council yesterday, it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. ... Mr. Powell's evidence ... was overwhelming."
The Post's columnists took it from there. Four Washington Post columnists wrote on February 6 about Powell's presentation the day before. All four were positively glowing...
More examples of the Post's editorial and op-ed pages not leaning to the left:
Then there's this: "On Social Security: The Washington Post Gets It." That's a column praising the Post's editorials defending George W. Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security. The author? Jack Kemp. The column appears on the web site of Freedom Works, a right wing group led by former House GOP leader Dick Armey.
"Left-leaning": yeah, right.
Back in 2004, the United Church of Christ (UCC) attempted to run the following advertisement during CBS' broadcast of the Super Bowl:
The attempt was thwarted however when CBS rejected the ad – apparently because of the network's policy of "prohibiting advocacy ads, even ones that carry an 'implicit' endorsement for a side in a public debate."
Now, six years later, CBS is set to air an ad by the anti-choice, anti-gay, far right-wing Focus on the Family during this month's Super Bowl broadcast.
It isn't surprising the CBS' hypocrisy has sparked an effort throughout the progressive blogosphere and on Facebook demanding that the network either reject the Focus on the Family ad or agree to also air the UCC's.
On January 24, Dick Morris wrote an article for Newsmax entitled "Pelosi and Reid Plot Secret Plan for Obamacare," and Fox Nation linked to it under the headline "Exclusive: Reid & Pelosi's Secret Plot to Pass Obamacare":
According to Morris, he found out through "highly informed sources on Capitol Hill" that Democratic leadership has a "plan to sneak Obamacare through Congress." Morris reveals that this is a "secret" two part plan. First, the House will pass the Senate's health care bill, despite ideological differences. Next, Congress will modify the bill after passage through a Senate process called "reconciliation" which requires a simple majority vote in the Senate and is not subject to filibusters. Morris claims that through putting pressure on "a core group of 23 Democratic Congressman," this "secret" plot can be averted.
Morris is correct that this is one plan that has been floated as a possibility for passing health care reform, but his assertion that this is a "secret" plot between Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid is laughable considering that this very approach to passing health care reform has been reported on extensively by left-wing blogs, right-wing blogs, and the mainstream media since the election of Scott Brown in Massachusett's January 19 special election. For instance, here's CBS on January 22:
Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts Senate special election essentially obliterated any chance Democrats in the Senate had at passing a revised health care reform bill. In the wake of that blow to Democrats, two options for passing reform have emerged:
One option would be for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill -- on the condition that Democrats would make revisions to the legislation through a separate "fix it" bill passed in the Senate via reconciliation (a procedural step that only requires a 51-vote majority).
The Baltimore Sun on January 21:
Democratic leaders are still exploring whether the House could pass the health care bill approved by the Senate just before Christmas, obviating the need for another vote on major health care legislation in the Senate, where Democrats would no longer be able overcome a Republican filibuster.
The two chambers could then take up a separate package of changes to the Senate bill through a process known as budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority in the Senate.
The New York Times on January 21:
Another option considered by Democrats would be to use the procedural maneuver known as reconciliation to pass chunks of the health care bill attached to a budget measure, which requires only a simple majority.
You get the point.
Well, this is a little weird.
As we have documented, Los Angeles Times reporter/former Bush press secretary Andrew Malcolm is fairly obsessed with Sarah Palin's poll numbers -- among other things, he regularly makes misleading completely bogus comparisons of them to President Obama's poll ratings and shoe-horns them into completely unrelated blog posts.
But Malcolm hasn't mentioned last-week's CBS poll about Palin -- a poll that got a fair amount of attention otherwise. It isn't like Malcolm to ignore a Palin poll; indeed, it often seems his only reasons for getting out of bed in the morning are making fun of Joe Biden and touting the results of polls about Palin. So what could possibly explain his disinterest in the CBS poll?
Wait: I wonder if this could explain it:
A new CBS News poll finds that a large majority of Americans say they do not want former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to run for president.
Specifically, 71 percent say they do not want the former Republican vice presidential nominee to run for president, while 21 percent say they do want her to run.
When the results are split out by party, 56 percent of Republicans say they do not want her to seek the office and 30 percent do. Meanwhile, 88 percent of Democrats do not want her to run. Among independents, 65 percent do not want her to run and 25 percent do.
The poll also finds that more people view Palin negatively than positively and that her book tour did not improve overall views of her.
Now, let's see: What do you call someone who regularly touts poll numbers that make a political figure look good, distorts those poll numbers to make the political figure look even better, and completely ignores poll numbers that make that political figure look bad? Oh, yeah: Andrew Malcolm (R-CA).