The New York Times' David Carr looks at the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch's ownership, complete with complaints from the paper's reporters that the Journal has lurched rightward. One example of that shift caught my eye:
Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits - "health care reform" is a generally forbidden phrase - and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)
That's the kind of fairly subtle that often goes unnoticed by reporters, but it's actually quite common. During the 2007/2008 presidential primary debates, for example, it was common for the Democratic candidates to be asked only one question about health care reform: How you gonna pay for it? (The Republicans, meanwhile, were not typically asked how they would pay for their tax cuts. In one debate, MSNBC's Chris Matthews even encouraged the GOPers to propose more tax cuts, rather challenging them to explain how they'd pay for any of it.)
And this kind of thing isn't limited to health care coverage. Last March, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, while raising them on those who make more than $200,000 a year. And, as I explained at the time, much of the media focused like a laser on the tax increases, all but ignoring the cuts:
The [Washington Post] article was chock-full of details about the tax hikes, referring to "nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade on the nation's highest earners ... $318 billion in new taxes on families in the highest income brackets, who would see new limits on the value of the tax breaks from itemized deductions. ... That proposal is a fraction of the new taxes Obama proposes to heap on the nation's highest earners. ... Hedge fund managers would take an even bigger hit. ... Oil and gas companies would be asked to pay an extra $31 billion over the next 10 years ... Corporations that operate overseas could expect to pay $210 billion more over the next 10 years."
By my count, at least 484 of the article's 1,284 words were about the tax increases in Obama's proposal. Among those 484 words was this quote from House GOP leader John Boehner: "The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it." That simply isn't true, unless you make more than $200,000 a year -- though the Post simply presented Boehner's claim without rebuttal.
And how did the Post address the tax cuts in Obama's plan? The article devoted just 39 words to them. Among other omissions, the Post completely ignored the fact that the plan makes permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
And by the following Monday, tax cuts had disappeared entirely from the Post's reporting. Under the headline "Aides Defend President's Budget; White House and Fiscal Conservatives Set for Showdown," the Post reported Obama's budget would be "raising taxes on top income earners and oil and gas companies" and again quoted a Republican criticizing the tax increases. But there wasn't so much as a hint that most Americans would see their tax bills go down.
The New York Times' coverage of Obama's proposal was little better -- and cable news was often even worse.
Here's one indication of how hysterical the media went over potential tax increases for very few Americans: both The New York Times and ABC News rushed to produce reports about wealthy taxpayers purportedly seeking to reduce their incomes to avoid paying the higher tax rates. The ABC article in particular was deeply flawed, prompting widespread condemnation that led to an editor's note and re-write that improved things -- if only a little.
The conservative framing reporters are detecting in Wall Street Journal articles lately is certainly not limited to news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. It's quite common across the board, and is a key piece of evidence that the "liberal media" is no such thing.
P.S.: Look back at those examples of complaints from WSJ reporters: "global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride." That's pretty clearly true of the Washington Post (among others), too.
It felt a bit like Groundhog Day reading this Politico article about right-wing sites vying to become the conservative answer to the Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo. How is it like Groundhog Day? Because the right-wing Noise Machine has been vowing for years to finally catch up with liberals online,- to finally create sites that produce original reporting, are professionally managed, and keep the attention of the Beltway press.
But the right-wing keeps swinging, and the right-wing keeps missing.
Why do you think when the White House Correspondents Association recently expanded its roster of eligible reporters for in-town pool report and accepted reps from online sites, there wasn't a single conservative outlet represented? Instead, Salon, Huffington Post, and TPM got the nod. (When it launches in 2010, Tucker Carlson's conservative site, Daily Caller, is reportedly going to join the group.)
Conservatives got locked out in 2009 because there is not one site in operation today on the right side of the Internet that consistently produces original and dependable journalism. And why is that? Because conservative don't do journalism. They don't respect it and they don't have the foggiest idea of how to produce. They're clueless.
Instead, we get sites like Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, which seems to be driven by the guiding principle of posting as much nonsense as possible in a 24-hour cycle. This is a site that has have no idea what an "enemy combatant" is, can't figure out a "hate crime" is, only a marginal understanding of how our laws work, and posted doctored hidden-camera video and now refuses to make public the unedited versions. Yet the comically amateurish Big Government is supposed to represent the conservative media's shining light for the Internet future?
Yeah, good luck with that.
My hunch is that come 2010 and then 2011 and then 2011, we'll read more stories about how conservatives really think that this time they have figured out how to catch-up to liberals who have virtually reinvented politics and the press online in the last five years. We'll see lots of new quotes from right-wing players set to launch new sites about how they have it all figured out.
In truth, the answer that keeps alluding conservatives partisans isn't that complicated. It's simple. Just do produce journalism. Be intellectually honest. Yet in the nearly ten years the Internet has been in the political mainstream, that very simple challenge has completely eluded the conservative movement online.
Why? `Wingers do don't journalism.
UPDATED: Note to Breitbart: the Huffington Post has a strict policy for bloggers when it comes to correcting factual errors. If bloggers don't abide, their HP access is revoked. Is Big Government just too chicken to institute similar guidelines, or does Big Government prefer it when its bloggers just make stuff up?
And conservatives wonder whey they don't have their own Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo?
And conservatives wonder why they don't have their own Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo?
From a December 13 New York Times report:
Joel Cheatwood, the senior vice president of development for Fox News, said the network's legal department had recently sent a letter to Mr. Beck's representatives "seeking clarification" about his work for Goldline.
"They sent back word that he is not a paid spokesman," Mr. Cheatwood said, adding that it would be "problematic without question" if Mr. Beck did have a position as a paid spokesman for a product.
Fox News released a statement outlining its official policy about such issues: "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."
Fox News stressed that it was not aware that Mr. Beck was listed on the Internet as a paid spokesman. But he definitely was, until very recently. On cached editions of the Goldline Web site over the last week to 10 days, a photograph of Mr. Beck was accompanied by an asterisk which led to a line at the bottom of the site that read: "paid spokesman."
Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Mr. Beck, said the host should never have been listed as a "paid spokesman" because he did not receive separate fees beyond the sponsorship for that or any other work he did for the company.
Before he moved onto Fox News, however, Mr. Beck appeared in a video on the Goldline Web site extolling the virtues of gold. And Mr. Beck routinely reads Goldline ads on the radio, a practice Fox said was acceptable under its guidelines.
From McCullough's column:
When Tiger Woods wrapped his SUV around a neighborhood tree, following his running over a fire hydrant, few if any knew of the damage that would be done to his family in the following days. With what looks likely to have been more than a dozen women, with more being revealed each news cycle, no one is surprised that the wealthiest athlete ever and the most successful golfer in history is experiencing the pain that is his to bear. Causing his children and wife to be put a risk of life, health, reputation, and a stable home, the golfer is depressed, saddened, and to no one's surprise desiring to withdraw to his gated community, and even to his window-shades-drawn home as he seeks to examine his sinful nature, his ability to hurt those he loved, and wonder if his life will ever get put back together again.
Yet for all the agony that Woods' actions have caused his God, wife, children, endorsement clients, and fans his actions pale in comparison to the merciless march the current administration is on to empower themselves, seek to increase the divide between the powerful and the needy, and in the end ruin the lives of families in America today.
Tiger's only chance at redeeming his psyche, his life, and somewhere far down the road his game, is to ultimately choose to be a different person. He must volitionally make better choices, better friends, and cling to the real love of one woman. I personally believe that those tasks are made easier if he also couples those choices with a genuine belief, faith, and trust in God.
President Obama's chances at redemption are actually easier, all he must do is admit the truth, and make a handful of different choices about policy. If he wished to redeem his party's chances of avoiding serious losses in 2010 he would specifically choose to drop the public option in health care, insure the prevention of any federal monies used for abortion, scrap "Cap & Trade", reject the current 2 trillion dollar budget that is headed for his desk, and extend federal tax reductions for small businesses.
None of that would make him a conservative, or even a Republican, but it would demonstrate a genuine humility that took the lives of those he serves seriously.
And while his numbers are falling, and he has slid into a tie with current Republican front-runner Gov. Mike Huckabee, he has not yet suffered enough--nor sensed the suffering of the American people enough (just yet)--for him to take the serious steps that Tiger Woods is being forced to do.
Because of this, "We the People" feel very much like the wife who has been cheated on and even abused by neglect, dishonesty, lies, and trickery.
Thus the only question left to answer is, "Whose love and affection is the nation's President truly pursuing?"
The New York Times reports that Senator Joe Lieberman will vote against health care reform in its current form -- and, in doing so, uncritically reports Lieberman's false claims about that legislation. Here's the article, by Times reporters Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn:
Mr. Lieberman described what it would take to get his vote. "You've got to take out the Medicare buy-in," he said. "You've got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit."
The Class Act refers to a federal insurance program for long-term care, known as Community Living Assistance Services and Supports.
Mr. Lieberman said he would have "a hard time" voting for bill with the Medicare buy-in.
"It has some of the same infirmities that the public option did," Mr. Lieberman said. "It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It's unnecessary. The basic bill, which has a lot of good things in it, provides a generous new system of subsidies for people between ages 55 and 65, and choice and competition."
But adding to the deficit is not an "infirmity" of the public option. The public option would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduce the deficit.
Here's a November 22 article by those very same New York Times reporters -- Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn:
The bill would expand health benefits by broadly expanding Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income people, and by providing subsidies to help moderate-income people buy either private insurance or coverage under a new government-run plan, the public option. And it would impose a requirement that nearly all Americans obtain insurance or pay monetary penalties for failing to do so.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the legislation would be more than offset by new taxes and fees and reductions in government spending, so that the bill would reduce future federal budget deficits by $130 billion through 2019.
So, New York Times reporters Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn know that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Joe Lieberman simply isn't telling the truth. But they won't tell their readers that. Instead, they type up what he says and pass it along, as though it is true.
When someone knowingly passes along falsehoods from government officials as though they are true, isn't that the essence of propaganda?
See Also: LIEBERMAN'S ON TO REASON #7....
From a December 11 video posted on GlennBeck.com:
In a December 12 Politico article, serial smear merchant Andrew Breitbart said of Media Matters: "I'm 100 percent at war with those people." From the article:
Andrew Breitbart, who's already made some dents in what he considers the "Democrat-media complex" in 2009, says he's going to roll out his own site, Big Journalism, a few days earlier - designed, he says, to report stories that the mainstream media is either missing or willfully ignoring.
Breitbart, who was a co-developer of the Huffington Post, knows how to generate buzz online, and even uses his Twitter feed for a public battle with liberal media watchdog, Media Matters. "I'm 100 percent at war with those people," he said.
From a December 10 entry at David Horowitz's NewsReal blog titled, "Sean Hannity and Birtherism: Give to Idiocy No Sanction":
Media Matters is disseminating audio from Sean Hannity's December 8, radio show, in which he takes a challenge from a caller over his support for conservative website WorldNetDaily, which is also one of the Right's most aggressive advocates of paranoia over President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
Maybe it was legitimate to ask when the story first broke, but regardless of who did the original asking, the caller is right that it has been repeatedly investigated, answered, and should be a dead issue now. During the 2008 campaign, blogger John Hawkins ran down the case against Birtherism for Townhall.com:
- The people at FactCheck.org have seen the certificate of live birth provided from the state of Hawaii to the Obama campaign and it is genuine.
- Although Hawaii state law prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record, the director of Hawaii's Department of Health has certified that Obama does have a legitimate birth certificate on file in Hawaii.
- In a print copy of the 1961 Honolulu Advertiser, there's a notice that Barack Obama was born. In and of itself, this is a game, set, match conversation-ender on this subject unless people want to argue that this isn't genuine or that there was a conspiracy going all the way back to the day of Obama's birth to make him President.
A few additional points: FactCheck.org is not infallible, but their report on the birth certificate is substantive and detailed. Hawaii's Health Director, Chiyome Fukino, is a Republican. As I've noted elsewhere, the Right's most prominent (and most conservative) voices have all rejected Birtherism.
WorldNetDaily, however, obsessively clings to any bizarre hypothetical that might explain how a Kenyan-born Obama got illicit citizenship credentials (indeed, their front page still hosts links to their full coverage of Birthergate, "Where's the birth certificate?" postcards, and a petition demanding that the President release the certificate). This isn't due diligence; it's a cottage industry.
As David Swindle has pointed out, Birtherism is a poison to conservative credibility, and by drinking it we play right into the Left's propagandizing hands. Sean Hannity's defense of "asking questions" is all well and good, but for all our sakes, he needs to recognize the difference between asking a question and ignoring the answer.
It's not surprising that a conservative outfit like NewsBusters would take a pro-Sarah Palin stance. And it's not surprising that they'd sometimes go a little overboard in their Palin adulation -- as much as the right loves to complain about irrational hatred from the left, its own worship of the half-term governor who quit to spend more time on Facebook does tend to get a little out of hand.
Then there's Noel Sheppard.
The NewsBusters associate editor has never made any secret about his admiration for Palin. For a while now, he's been serving as her unofficial press office, dutifully republishing every single message the ex-governor posted on Facebook, frequently appending them with a rousing "Hear, hear!"
But in the past couple of days, things have become a little ... weird.
Here's how Sheppard began his blog post this morning on Palin's "Tonight Show" appearance last night:
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin continued her historic climb into the hearts of Americans Friday by appearing on NBC's "Tonight Show" in a small cameo role.
And here's his opening paragraph from a December 10 entry on Palin:
Showing the sense of humor millions of Americans fell in love with last year, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Thursday that critics of her previous day's op-ed in the Washington Post "kind of got all wee-weed up about it and wanted to call me and others deniers."
Yipes ... Perhaps not quite to the same level of Rich "Starbursts" Lowry, but still ...
From his recent Salon column, Joe Conason details what former Massachusetts AG Scott Harshbarger discovered about the undercover ACORN videos made by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. The discovery came as part of Harshbarger's larger, and often critical, review of ACORN's practices. (Read the report here.)
Conason notes [emphasis added]:
To assess the meaning and accuracy of the videotapes, Harshbarger and his colleagues did the job that journalists ought to have done from the beginning. They interviewed ACORN employees. Later, they reviewed both the tapes and the transcripts made available on BigGovernment, a Web site owned by Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing impresario behind Giles and O'Keefe.
What Harshbarger discovered, as his report's Appendix D reveals, is that much of what appeared on Fox News Channel and in other media outlets, let alone on right-wing Web sites, was not what had actually occurred in the ACORN offices -- and that exculpatory material was edited out of the tapes.
Question: Is Andrew Breitbart's site Big Government ever going to release all the unedited ACORN tapes? And if not, what is he hiding? At the very least, why won't Breitbart detail exactly which tapes were edited and which exculpatory material was cut?
UPDATED: The Harshbarger report seems to demolish the idea that Breitbart even practices journalism. Unless this new brand of conservative 'journalism' includes deceptively editing hidden-camera videos and then refusing to produce the original tapes when discrepancies are highlighted.
UPDATED: Conason also note the following:
Contrary to the claims of right-wing critics, who complain that Harshbarger failed to interview any of ACORN's adversaries, the lawyer and his colleagues were rebuffed when they tried to speak with O'Keefe and Giles. Amy Crafts, a Proskauer associate who co-authored the report, told me that she made several efforts to contact the video producers both in person and through their attorneys.
What are these people hiding?
UPDATED: More from Conason:
On Oct. 21, [Harshbarger's associate Amy] Crafts said, she was barred from the press conference held by O'Keefe and Giles at the National Press Club in Washington, even though she promised not to ask any questions.