Its insistence on treating every little story with the same breathless voice has gone beyond annoying and has entered the realm of the comical. And of course, it makes a mockery out of Politico itself.
From yet another Politico party crasher story, this one with an emphasis on Obama's social secretary Desiree Rogers [emphasis added]:
In a White House not known for its tolerance of staffing errors, Rogers has been the beneficiary of an unprecedented show of support from senior administration officials.
While Rogers isn't the first White House aide to take hits from the Hill, she may be the first to do so with such ferocious support from her superiors.
This is just dumb. Because what's Politico's evidence to back up the rather hysterical rhetoric? It's the fact that WH aide Valerie Jarrett answered a question about Rogers during an ABC interview, and WH spokesman Robert Gibbs answered some questions about Roger during briefings this week. Both Jarrett and Rogers expressed complete confidence in Rogers. That's it. That's the extent of the "unprecedented" and "ferocious" support that Politico manufactured.
Like I said, Politico needs to calm down. It also needs to stop making stuff up.
UPDATED: And oh yeah, the truly awful Politico lede:
If White House social secretary Desiree Rogers survives this week's withering attacks over her role in last week's state dinner security breach, she'll have gotten by with a lot of help from her friends in the West Wing.
Improving the story (i.e. just making stuff up), Politico suggests Rogers might no survive in her job, even though, as the Politico article itself stresses, she has the full support of the White House.
Question: Does anyone edit Politico? Or are the chronic deceptions purposeful?
From Politico's December 5 article, "Right-wing talkers go for the gold":
For years a certain strain of conservative thought has held that there was one sure hedge against economic depression, civil disorder and liberal rule - gold. Now that belief has led to a kind of harmonic convergence between ideology and commerce.
Anyone tuning in to conservative talk radio or Fox News's Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck shows is bombarded by commercials for gold, mainly in the form of collectible coins, with announcers intoning that inflation and deficits caused by big government spending are devaluing the dollar and making gold the best investment money can buy.
The dire tone sounded in the ads often echo the occasionally apocalyptic economic forecasts of the shows' hosts, many of whom have endorsement contracts with the gold retailers, appear in their ads, or have had their executives as guests to trash the economic course set by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, and to preach the attractions of gold.
And it's become an increasingly profitable synergy for everyone involved - the retailers, the networks and an array of hosts including O'Reilly and Beck, as well as radio talkers Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller, Fred Thompson and G. Gordon Liddy.
This year, Goldline boasted it had become "the exclusive gold and precious metals company" of both Levin's show and the one hosted by Thompson. Other Goldline endorsers include Beck, Ingraham, Miller and Lars Larson.
Beck, who has taken to comparing the state of the U.S. economy to that of modern day Zimbabwe or pre-Hitler Germany, has been urging his viewers to invest in gold, and bragging about his own gold investments since at least last year.
"I know that you've been listening and watching my shows," he said in a promo incorporated into a "Beck talks" video on his website.
"If you've been watching for any length of time, and you still haven't looked into buying gold, what's wrong with you? I was going to say 'are you just a reporter for the New York Times?' but I don't think they actually watch. They just write about it.
"I think you're nuts. When the system eventually collapses, and the government comes with guns and confiscates, you know, everything in your home and all your possessions, and then you fight off the raving mad cannibalistic crowds that Ted Turner talked about, don't come crying to me. I told you: get gold."
But Beck has recently come under fire from liberals alleging a conflict of interest. The criticism spiked after he used one of his trademark blackboard illustrations to provide tips for weathering "the three scenarios that we could be facing: recession, depression or collapse." In the case of a total collapse of the economic system, he recommended that his viewers construct "fruit cellars" and rely on what he called "the three G system. It's God, gold and guns."
The Democrat-aligned watchdog group Media Matters asserted the segment was a "reward" to his gold advertisers, while liberal MSNBC host Keith Olbermann charged that Beck is "in it for the money. He keeps trying to sell people gold, largely because a disproportionate number of his advertisers sell people gold."
Peter Epstein, president of Merit Financial Services, which advertises on Beck's show, says gold retailers expect favorable coverage from commentators on whose shows they pay to advertise. "You pay anybody on any network and they say what you pay them to say," said Epstein. "They're bought and sold."
Beck, who through a publicist declined to comment for this story, addressed the Media Matters allegation on his Thursday show, saying "So, I shouldn't make money?" And he made the point that he touted gold before he became a Goldline endorser, and urges viewers to study and pray before investing in it.
I don't necessarily mean that as a slight directed at George Stephanopoulos who may end up replacing Diane Sawyer who exits to become ABC's new evening news anchor. I'm sure within the television industry these kind of celebrity anchor changes are a big deal, and if Stephanopoulos gets the lucrative assignment, good for him.
What I do think was absurd though, was the the kind of breaking-news approach that the WashPost's Howard Kurtz took in reporting that ABC's This Week host had reportedly been offered the a.m. job, but no actual deal had been signed. In other words, negotiations were continuing. (And....?)
Check out this passage:
As the discussions have dragged on for weeks, Stephanopoulos has pushed for a role reshaped to spotlight his interest in politics and hard news rather than feature segments. The sources, who declined to be identified discussing internal personnel matters, cautioned that the negotiations are complicated and the two sides might fail to reach agreement.
Will you be able to sleep tonight knowing the multi-million dollar GMA deal might not become a reality? Honestly, this kind of reverential coverage for a wake-up co-host job on a feather-light program is rather absurd, and more than a little unsightly. And Kurtz especially is guilty of often filling his media beat with lots of worshipful coverage of network news readers, treating them like movie stars. It's creepy.
Now, as a result of ClimateGate, the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Malcolm reports a small movement to take these Oscars back:
Oh my, the two members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are "demanding" Gore lose his Oscar suddenly constitute a movement? The two out of 6,000-plus Academy members represent a movement? The .05 percent of Academy members (i.e. a right-wing blogger and the right-wing blogger's friend) who want Gore stripped of his Oscar now equal a movement?
Let's just say Malcolm and Newsbusters make a perfect pair.
Given the right-wing freak-out over the existence of sexually explicit passages in several books that Kevin Jennings' former organization has recommended for adolescents, we look forward to the I'm-sure-forthcoming denunciations of the Ayn Rand Institute. It'll be hard for them, of course, since The Right loves Rand's books and considers her one of the founders of modern conservative philosophy, but in order to avoid being hypocrites, they will have to do so.
The Ayn Rand Institute, according to its website, "works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience."
And boy, do they promote! Here's their website for high school students. Here's the description of the contests they hold for high students competing to see who can write the best essays on Rand's works: 8th, 9th, and 10th graders compete for the best essay on Anthem and 11th and 12th graders compete for the best essay on The Fountainhead. Here are the Institute's lesson plans for high school teachers who want to assign Anthem or The Fountainhead. And here's the Institute's notice to high school teachers that they can get free copies of Rand's novels to teach in their schools from the Institute.
Oh, and here's the Scribd.com version of The Fountainhead. If you scroll down to page 186, you'll find an extremely explicit rape scene, which the Institute apparently finds appropriate for 11th and 12th graders.
I'm sure those denunciations will be coming any time now.
I'm humbled to have been nominated in the Air America Cruise Contest – even more so to learn today that thanks to the support of Air America readers and others I've made the Top 5 (along with Digby, Joe Jervis, Mike Lux, and Pam Spaulding) and moved on to the second and final round of voting. David Brock, the founder & CEO of Media Matters, sent around the below email today encouraging County Fair readers to take 30 seconds and cast a vote in my favor before the second round of voting ends on December 17.
Needless to say, your vote today would be greatly appreciated – it really only does take 30 seconds. Don't forget to tell your friends and spread the word on Twitter and Facebook:
Post for Twitter: Top 5 Announced: VOTE NOW for @mmfa's @KarlFrisch in Round 2 of the Air America Cruise Contest: http://bit.ly/6U6inX - #aamcruise
Post for Facebook: Top 5 Announced: VOTE NOW for Media Matters' Karl Frisch in Round 2 of the Air America Cruise Contest: http://bit.ly/6U6inX
Here's that email from David Brock:
Air America is having a contest, and with your vote today, our very own Karl Frisch, a Senior Fellow here at Media Matters, could be the winner!
Please take 30 seconds and cast your vote TODAY for Karl Frisch.
One lucky progressive blogger will win a seven-day cruise through the Mexican Riviera with Howard Dean, Rachel Maddow, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ron Reagan, and other leading progressives.
Thanks to the support of Air America readers and others, Karl and four other progressive bloggers have moved on to the second and final round of voting.
Please take 30 seconds and cast your vote TODAY for Karl Frisch.
This second round of voting will end on December 17, but your vote is needed today to make certain it is counted. The winner will be announced on December 21.
Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm.
Founder & CEO,
Media Matters for America
The Right-wing has rushed to attack Kevin Jennings because the organization he used to run lists several books with sexually explicit passages among those they recommended for adolescents. Aside from the fact that GLSEN's list specifically recommends that adults review the books themselves before selecting them for youths, the conservative media's argument is undermined by the fact that numerous books that are often assigned to high school students and are considered classics contain similar material.
For example, during my tenure at a public high school, I read the following books from an American Library Association list of "Banned and/or Challenged Books" that have been cited for sexual content:
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of 'language and sexual references in the book.'"
- The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger, challenged or removed from several schools due to "sexual scenes," "sexual references," "depict[ion of] premarital sex," "lurid passages about sex," and "sexual exploits experienced in the book"
- The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, "Challenged in the Greenville, S.C. schools (1991) because the book uses the name of God and Jesus in a 'vain and profane manner along with inappropriate sexual references.'"
- Beloved, Toni Morrison, "Challenged in the Sarasota County, Fla. schools (1998) because of sexual material."
- The Lord of the Flies, William Golding, "Challenged in the Waterloo, Iowa schools (1992) because of ... lurid passages about sex."
- 1984, George Orwell, "Challenged in the Jackson County, FL (1981) because Orwell's novel is 'pro-communist and contained explicit sexual matter.'"
- Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck, "Challenged at the Jacksboro, Tenn. High School (1991) because the novel contains 'blasphemous' language, excessive cursing, and sexual overtones."
- Native Son, Richard Wright, Challenged or banned in various districts because it was considered "sexually explicit," "sexually graphic," and for "sexual content."
We also read Gunter Grass' Cat and Mouse, which is not on the ALA's list, but contains an extremely vivid scene of group masturbation.
On the other hand, most of the sexual content in the above books is of the heterosexual variety. Perhaps that is why the conservative media isn't as worked up over them.
In the latest in a long line of smears conservative media figures have hurled at Department on Education staffer Kevin Jennings, Scott Baker of Breitbart-tv.com takes to the blog Gateway Pundit today to claim that Jennings' organization, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), recommended books to students which include explicit sexual passages. Baker states that the information comes from "team of independent researchers that I have known for some time and have come to trust." Baker goes on to falsely claim that "these are the books that GLSEN's directors think all kids should be reading."
Somehow, Baker missed the following note at the bottom of the GLSEN BookLink website, in bold red type, recommending that adults review the books before adolescents read them:
All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at Amazon.com often provide information on mature content.
CORRECTION: Buried in the 13th paragraph of his post, Baker does acknowledge that "GLSEN does advise adults to 'review content for suitability.'" He does not acknowledge that this undermines his entire point.
And it's confirmed by the FBI.
Backstory: Right-wingers like Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck claim SEIU union reps who were recently slapped on the wrist for "misdemeanor ordinance violations" in connection with an August altercation outside a town hall health care forum, ought to face "hate crime" charges for allegedly beating up Kenneth Gladney.
But as I noted earlier:
Meaning, Gladney, a black man, was allegedly punched by [Elston] McCowan, a black man, and now Breitbart and Beck want prosecutors to file hate-crime charges because McCowan was prejudiced against Gladney's race; because McCowan's assault was driven by his hatred of Gladney's race. That, despite the fact that Gladney and McCowan share the same race.
It made no sense that a black man would be charged with a hate crime for hitting another black man, even if the accused used a racial epithet just prior to the scuffle.
And what do you know, the FBI agrees. From its "Hate Crimes Data Collection Guidelines," the FBI cautions law enforcement about certain extenuating circumstances [emphasis added]:
2. Misleading Facts — Agencies must be alert to misleading facts. For example,
the offender used an epithet to refer to the victim's race, but the offender and victim were of the same race.
According to the FBI, if the victim and the offender are "of the same race" than hate crime charges should not be brought.
UPDATED: Breitbart sure does have a tough time trying to decipher the law.
UPDATED: With all that right-wing funding, you'd think Breirtbart would put an attorney at retainer so his site wouldn't keep making these embarrassing gaffes.
Then again it's quite possible Breitbart's staff knows that it's wrong about the law and purposefully publishes falsehoods any way. After all, we are talking about conservative "journalism."