It allows politicians and pundits, like Newt Gingrich, to spread misinformation.
Yesterday the AP reported that the House Democrats' tri-committee health-care reform proposal would cost "$1.5 trillion," which is $500 billion more than what the Congressional Budget Office has estimated. So were did the AP numbers come from? From an anonymous Democratic Hill staffer.
As CF noted:
Where is the extra $500 billion coming from on top of the CBO score? What provisions did the CBO not score? Why does this anonymous aide think those provisions cost half a trillion dollars? Does anyone else agree with him or her? Readers wouldn't know from the AP article.
So conservatives have been plastering the misleading article everywhere, and when called on it they just say, well that's what the AP reported.
Here's Gingrich's Tweet from this morning:
A blog challenged my tweet that house democratic health bill would cost $1.5 trillion.that was associated press report of democratic staffer
Must be nice to have one of the world's largest news organizations do your oppo research for you.
The Fox Nation headline, "Soldier Who Challenged Obama's Citizenship Fired From Job," links to a July 15 WorldNetDaily article which includes the following promotions for WND's "Where's the [Obama] birth certificate?" campaign:
In addition to advancing the birth certificate conspiracy theory, the Fox Nation-promoted article also raises claims that Obama was born in Kenya.
Yesterday, I noted that Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza's list of Sotomayor hearing "Winners and Losers" included Lindsay Graham among the winners, despite what many saw as condescending questioning. And that Cillizza couldn't think of a single Republican to list among the day's losers - not even Jeff Sessions, whose suggestion that all judges of Puerto Rican heritage should rule alike served as a reminder of his history of racially insensitive rhetoric.
Today, Cillizza is back with more "Winners and Losers." Among his winners: Sen. Tom Coburn. Yes, the same Tom Coburn who channeled Ricky Ricardo during his questioning of Sotomayor. And, once again, Cillizza doesn't list a single Republican among the day's losers. (Though two Democrats make that list, four in the last two days.)
UPDATE: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter appears on Cillizza's current losers list, so perhaps the answer to the question posed in the headline of this post is "Become a Democrat."
Does anybody think this featured photo, complete with the caption "
In an article that is burning up the tubes, the Associated Press' Erica Werner reported today that the House Democrats' tri-committee health-care reform proposal would cost "$1.5 trillion." Where does that figure come from? Werner doesn't break it down.
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released a preliminary analysis scoring "specifications... reflected" in the bill released the same day. That analysis pegged those specs at a cost of a little over $1 trillion. The CBO went out of its way to point out that their estimates "are based on specifications provided by the tri-committee group rather than an analysis of the language released"; there are provisions included in the bill that the CBO did not include in their analysis.
So where did the AP's $1.5 trillion figure come from? Well, AP reports that "a House Democratic aide said the total bill would add up to about $1.5 trillion over 10 years." So Werner got an anonymous source to give her a figure, and with no indication in her article that she consulted anyone inside or outside Congress to confirm that number, reported it as fact. Where is the extra $500 billion coming from on top of the CBO score? What provisions did the CBO not score? Why does this anonymous aide think those provisions cost half a trillion dollars? Does anyone else agree with him or her? Readers wouldn't know from the AP article.
From Fox Business Network host Cody Willard's Twitter:
We called this one, right?
Yesterday we predicted the press would echo the GOP claim that Sen. Patrick Leahy had taken Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "Latina woman" quote out of context during his questioning of her at the hearing. And yes, we noted the irony considering the "Latina woman" story only exists because it's been ripped out of context and that the Beltway press categorically refuses to provide any context.
Well, here's the AP dutifully repeating RNC talking points. (Irony points are doubled because the AP spun RNC talking points within a "Fact Check" feature):
LEAHY SAID: "You said that, quote, you 'would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions.'"
THE FACTS: If that's all Sotomayor said, the quote would barely have mattered to opponents of her nomination. The actual quote, delivered in a 2001 speech to law students at the University of California at Berkeley, was: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Leahy's revision dropped the controversial part of the phrase, the part that has attracted charges of reverse racism.
Message from AP: Context is king!
The AP lectures a Democrat for leaving out all the important stuff regarding the "Latina woman" quote, while the AP itself leaves out all the important stuff regarding the "Latina woman" quote.
At least NRO's Mark Hemingway thinks it's a big deal. And of course, Hemingway concludes the copyediting error confirms all his dark suspicions about Media Matters. When in fact, the oversight simply highlights the extent to which Media Matters goes to make factually and logically sound arguments.
The press release highlighted a research item Media Matters did which pointed out how five major newspapers reported on Sen. Jeff Sessions' opening statement at the confirmation hearing of Judge Sonia Sotomayor without noting in that day's paper that, in 1986, Sessions' nomination as a U.S. district court judge was rejected following allegations that Sessions had a history of making racially charged comments. Meaning, Sessions spent a lot of the day talking about race in the context of Sotomayor's nomination, but the press never connected the dots back to Sessions' own failed confirmation.
What Hemingway highlighted was the fact that the press release we sent out accidentally included an internal edit suggesting a possible change.
Here's the key section of Hemingway's item:
Media Matters, and So Does Proofreading [Mark Hemingway]
Media Matters for America just sent out the following press release:
I wanted to make sure you had seen Media Matters' latest research on the media ignoring allegations that surfaced during Sen. Jeff Sessions' 1986 nomination to the U.S. district court. As reported by the Associated Press, Sessions' "nomination originally drew fire from civil rights groups because of his  prosecution ... of three west Alabama civil rights activists on vote fraud charges. The three were acquitted by a federal court jury, prompting civil rights leaders to charge that the prosecution was an attempt to intimidate black voters." Doesn't the fact that we quote the AP undermine the idea that the media is ignoring the story? Could we say, "research on much of the media ignoring..."
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like additional information.
Media Matters for America
My emphasis added -- I guess somebody forgot to delete that parenthetical edit. I'd always thought that Media Matters tried in vain to prove conservative media bias, but I didn't expect that the organization itself would confirm my suspicion.
Obviously that internal edit suggestion should not have appeared in the final release. But how did it "confirm" Hemingway's suspicion that Media Matters tried in "vain" to prove conservative media bias? (And for the record, Media Matters is not in the "media bias" business.) All the internal edit did was show that before Media Matters signs off on its research items (and press releases), it does its best to make sure its central point is air-tight. In this case, somebody inside Media Matters suggested that because the AP had reported on Sessions' controversial past, the wording of the release should be changed.
But in fact, the AP reference was from the 1980's and did not undercut the Media Matters point that in their July 14 editions, the five major national newspapers gave Sessions a pass on his controversial history when it came to the topic of race.
So despite Hemingway's claim, the copyediting error did nothing to undermine that important point.
I can't get enough of this South Carolina media story about how journalists were flooding the office of Mark Sanford with emails promising friendly coverage if they could land an interview. This was before he admitted to cheating on his wife and using taxpayer money to do it. Back when he appeared to be lost on the Appalachian Trail.
I've already highlighted the questionable efforts by the WSJ's editorial page, as well as ABC News's Jake Tapper. Saving the 'best' for last, let's look at right-wing blogger Erick Erickson.
From The State:
"If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I'm happy to help," wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState.com. On June 23, Erickson ripped "media speculation" about Sanford's whereabouts.
And boy, did Erickson push back at RedState. Here's what he wrote on June 23:
First, we need to be clear on the facts - not the media speculation:
- Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
- Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.
- His political enemies - Republicans at that - ginned up the media story.
- When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.
- Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanford's staff and family knew where he was.
As Blue Texan quickly noted at FDL, pretty much everything Erickson wrote about Sanford's escapade turned out to be false.
But here's the kicker. Contacted by The State regarding the email he sent to Sanford's office offering to "push back" on Sanford's behalf, here's what Erickson said:
"I wasn't trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story," Erickson said by e-mail. "Well that didn't work."
Love that. Erickson wanted to curtail the story even though, at the time, he had no idea what the facts of the story were. Not that that stopped him from blogging a laundry list of falsehoods.