From the April 20 edition of Fox News Glenn Beck:
File this one under half-baked political analysis.
USA Today's Susan Page rattles off a number of reasons she thinks Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) is a "weak" U.S. Senate candidate in Florida including the fact that he's... an African-American.
From the April 19, 2010 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
He's an African-American. We know it's hard -- although not impossible -- for African-Americans to win statewide.
Nope, it's not impossible. In fact, it happened in the most recent Florida statewide election when Barack Obama carried the state in the presidential contest.
Incidently, according to a Miami Herald article from earlier this month, Meek is "the first U.S. Senate candidate in state history to qualify for the ballot by petition" submitting a few thousand more than the required 112,476 valid signatures. A sign of weakness to be sure.
We know it's hard -- although not impossible -- for reporters to offer thoughtful political analysis on cable television.
The Washington Post reported this morning on GOP efforts to portray financial regulatory reform as a bailout without giving any indication as to whether this criticism was based in reality. In so doing, the Post helped the GOP push a talking point formulated by Frank Luntz, who advised that linking the bill to bank bailouts is the best possible way to derail reform.
I could not disagree more with Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon's statements during an online Q&A today that the media gets too much blame for the public's lack of understanding of politics and policy. Here's Bacon:
I'm going to suggest another group that deserves some blame: the public. Americans spend a lot of time shopping for cars, in line for I-pads, etc. But the number of people who don't know who the chief justice of the Supreme Court is or the name of their member of Congress is really high. Politicians, I would say this on both sides, wouldn't make so many misleading claims if they knew voters would bother to check them out. There is more information out there than ever, not only articles like what we do in the Post, but factcheck.org and cites like that, where you can verify claims. That people believe misleading things suggests A. they don't want the facts or B. they aren't interested in looking them up.
Later, Bacon added:
I do worry we pin too much of the blame on politicians and the press to almost force people to learn more about politics, but I think for most Americans, politics is something they are occasionally interested in.
That's a little garbled, but in context, it is clear that Bacon is saying "politicians and the press" receive too much blame for the public's lack of knowledge about politics.
The fact that "there is more information out there than ever" is all the more reason why people need the media to sort through that information and make some basic determinations about what is true, what is false, what is meaningful, and what is not. Bacon is missing a jaw-droppingly obvious Option C: Most people have neither the time nor the expertise required to sort through complex claims and counter-claims about public policy.
It's all well and good for a Perry Bacon to say the information is out there, people should go find it. But Perry Bacon is a political reporter for the Washington Post -- it's his job to know where to find that information and what it means. That is not the case for an accountant in Omaha or a math teacher in San Antonio or a construction worker in Pittsburgh. They don't have the time or the resources or the expertise to do so. Frankly, it's an amazingly elitist attitude for Bacon to assume that because he (a person who gets paid to do things like visit "factcheck.org and cites [sic] like that") has time to check out false claims, so does a single mother working a retail job. You have to be incredibly out of touch to think, as a political reporter whose job it is to research these things, that everyone else has the time and ability to do so, too. To think that readers should be able to -- and should have to -- go figure out on their own whether Barack Obama is Muslim, for example. (He isn't.)
What does Bacon think people do when they "spend a lot of time shopping for cars" and iPads? They seek guidance from people who have expertise about cars and electronics -- friends, relatives, and media like Consumer Reports. That's what Perry Bacon and the Washington Post should be when people need information about health care reform and tax policy -- a resource people can rely on, like Consumer Reports or PC World or whatever. That's what the public needs. (And, for the millionth time, doing it once is not enough.)
And if that isn't what Perry Bacon and the Washington Post think their role in the world is, I have to wonder: What would they say they do here? What value do they bring their readers, if not a solid understanding of important issues?
Following the announcement that the Security and Exchange Commission is investigating the investment firm Goldman Sachs for fraud, an April 19 FoxNews.com article reported that the "White House...strongly denied any involvement in the timing of the high-profile fraud case against Goldman Sachs," after Republicans and their media acolytes suggested the charges were timed to help pass financial reform. Fox News reported that "Republicans also accused the administration of biting the hand that fed it, since Goldman Sachs was President Obama's top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 campaign, with employees donating nearly $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," and went on to quote Rep. John Boehner as asking "just whose side is President Obama on?" Pause for reaction. First of all, the SEC is a non-partisan body that is operating independent of the White House. Secondly, the accusation that the President is "biting the hand that fed it" makes absolutely no sense. Wouldn't the real scandal be if Obama interfered with a SEC investigation because the subject of the investigation was a large campaign contributor of his?
The problem for Mr. Clinton is that his concern about the dangers of incendiary rhetoric seems to have taken flight during the two terms of the Bush presidency, as well as during his own. Regarding the former, there was, for starters, the 2006 film, The Death of a President, on the assassination of President Bush. Mr. Clinton did not, to my knowledge, condemn the movie in a front-page story in the New York Times or in a major speech.
Ponnuru joins in:
Former president Clinton--who, as Peter Wehner reminds us, didn't raise a peep when liberals were writing novels and making movies about assassinating President Bush--got into the act over the weekend, suggested that today's anti-government rhetoric could encourage bloodshed.
A few facts about The Death of a President make it a pretty lousy comparison. First, it was a British film, not an American one, which undercuts Ponnuru's attempt to equate today's overheated right-wing rhetoric with previous liberal speech. Second, nobody saw it. The movie grossed a meager half a million dollars in the US, and was in theaters for only 14 days. It was utterly insignificant, which goes a long way towards explaining why Bill Clinton didn't bother to condemn it.
By the way, Hillary Clinton did weigh in, calling the movie "despicable" and "absolutely outrageous" and adding "That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick."
Last month, Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick responded to criticism from Media Matters in part by writing:
The good news is that Media Matters doesn't mean much when it comes to actual readers. They've posted their bile for several days and only garnered five comments. Five comments? Hell, I can get five comments by posting a blog that says "the sky is blue."
We responded by noting that Media Matters ranked far higher in traffic than the website of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in the "several days" after the item was published. But since Frederick apparently thinks reader comments are extremely important, it seems worth pointing out how his readers have utterly savaged his latest attack on our partner organization, Media Matters Action Network.
From Fox Nation, accessed April 20:
As Media Matters' preveiously noted, Morris appeared on Fox News' Hannity and claimed that President Clinton personally told Morris, "I couldn't not appoint Reno because she would have turned on me over Waco. That's the phrase he used." But this contradicts what Morris said in his 2004 book on the subject, as Media Matters' Brian Frederick noted:
[W]hen Morris wrote about Clinton, Reno, and Waco in his 2004 book, Because He Could, he told a much different story. In fact, he indicated that he had no idea why Clinton reappointed Reno and merely speculated that it "may well have been" that Reno was "demanding reappointment as her price for taking the fall for Waco."
You might think that if Morris had direct knowledge of such a specific quote -- "she would have turned on me over Waco" -- he would have included it in Because He Could or mentioned it in any one of the countless smear columns and books he's written since. Or you might just think Morris is lying.
Howard Kurtz writes up the controversy over reporting that Comcast is partnering with RightNetwork:
The Huffington Post had reported that "a new conservative-leaning network is set to launch this summer, featuring a partnership with Comcast and promotion from one of Hollywood's most outspoken Republicans."
Comcast, which is buying NBC, teaming up with the RightNetwork?
The report spread across the blogs, but then came this update:
"Comcast tells Politico that Crooks & Liars' headline -- 'Comcast partners with teabaggers to bring new right-wing broadcast network online' -- is misleading. Comcast tells me that it has received RightNetwork's pitch but has not made an official decision to partner up with them. 'We are not a partner, we don't have an investment with them and we don't have any plans to distribute the network at this time.' "
"Kinda embarrassing" to who? Based on Kurtz's account, you'd probably assume it is embarrassing to Crooks & Liars and Huffington Post, right? After all, in Kurtz's telling, they misreported the story.
But the Crooks & Liars post was based on RightNetwork promotional material that touted its partnership with Comcast, as Kurtz would know if he read the post. Here's a quote from the promotional material C&L used:
On television, through partners including Comcast, RightNetwork delivers programming on demand that enables our audience to watch what they want, when they want. Everything Right, at the click of a remote. the lineup focuses on entertainment with pro-America, pro-business, pro-military sensibilities - compelling content that inspires action, invites a response, and influences the national conversation.
So if anyone is embarrassed, it should be RightNetwork. Oh, and Howard Kurtz, for misreporting the controversy.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post article was also based on RightNetwork materials. Here's what HuffPo reported: "RightNetwork promotional materials say that the channel will be broadcast 'through partners including Comcast.'" Does Howard Kurtz actually read the news reports he writes about? Either way, he owes HuffPo and C&L an apology.
Gee, you think former president Bill Clinton hit a nerve when he warned about today's rampant, violent anti-government rhetoric and how it's reminiscent of the same right-wing hate that seemed to fuel Timothy McVeigh's terror attack in 1995? Ever since his comments, the GOP Noise Machine has gone bonkers attacking Clinton. (All the while letting right-wing terrorist McVeigh off the hook, right Rush?)
In the case of Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley, today he simply rewrites history. (i.e. He makes stuff up.) The irony? Blankey's column claims Clinton's guilt of fudging the facts.
Clinton is not, but Blankley sure is.