Newsbusters Mike Bates provides the lamest criticism of poll reporting in quite some time:
That private health insurance companies would still be available to compete with a public option is a major consideration in how Americans answer such questions.
Contrary to what [CNN's Kiran] Chetry intimated, her own network's poll doesn't show 56 percent simply favoring "some sort of public option," but rather one that specifically would be in competition with private insurers. She's the one who's confused, not Michael Steele.
That might be a good point if proposed health care reform didn't allow private health insurers to compete with the public option. But it does. So ...
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his November 23 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Let it never be said that Glenn Beck fails to repay those who are loyal to him.
On his show today, Beck told his audience that they should buy gold to protect themselves in the event of a U.S. economic collapse. Minutes later, that same audience was treated to a commercial for Goldline International, featuring a "gold investor and a Goldline client" who cited "our government spending trillions of dollars and counting" and "a debt that will burden our children and grandchildren for years to come" as reasons to buy their product. I wonder how many of Beck's viewers called their hotline on the spot?
Gold investment firms are among Beck's most loyal advertisers. If you follow our regular County Fair post documenting the companies running ads on Beck's program, you know that at least four such firms run ads on Beck's show: Goldline International, Rosland Capital, Superior Gold Group and Merit Financial. Rosland and Goldline in particular run ads on virtually every edition of the program.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." The gold companies are among the last ones that still want to be associated with Beck.
Today, they got their reward.
As my colleague Eric Hananoki noted below, FishbowlDC posted a Fox News memo today acknowledging "a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months" and stating that in the future, "there is zero tolerance for on-screen errors" and "[m]istakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action against those who played significant roles in the 'mistake chain,' and those who supervise them... up to and including termination."
I wonder how far up the "mistake chain" this "zero tolerance" policy will apply? Does it extend to the on-air "talent," or is Fox News planning to blame all the mistakes on their assistant producers? If the "talent" misleads the audience, will some kid just out of college pay for it, or is the network actually planning to disciple its hosts, anchors, correspondents, and contributors for their errors?
My guess is that the buck isn't going to stop with the moneymakers on camera. But let's imagine if it did...
After Bill Hemmer falsely claims that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings knew about a "statutory rape" case and "never reported it," he's fired.
Chris Wallace gets suspended after channeling a stream of falsehoods about the Veterans Administration's purported "death book."
That would be accountability... but I really can't see it happening. If anyone pays at Fox News, it's going to be the little fish. Joe Lieberman's party affiliation may be labeled correctly in the future, but the "mistakes" in Fox News' reporting and commentary will be permitted to live on.
In any case, if Fox News' disciplinarians are interested in finding out when their personnel are making mistakes, they should watch this space. Media Matters will continue to comprehensively document Fox News falsehoods - and we hold all levels accountable.
This morning, the Washington Post published Howard Kurtz's 2,600 word profile of Emily Miller, a former GOP flack trying to get her career back on track after getting caught up in the Abramoff scandal. A few hours later, a Post reader had a simple question: Why? And Kurtz had no answer:
Emily Miller story: Why? What was the point -- to get her resume in the Style section so she can get a job?
I read the whole thing and can't figure out for the life of me why it was written and published.
Howard Kurtz: But you read the whole thing. And based on the feedback I'm getting, lots of other folks did too.
Should we write only about people who are already famous? There are thousands of people in Washington who make the town run but ply their trade behind the scenes.
Offered an open-ended invitation to explain what is important or newsworthy about Miller, Kurtz couldn't do it. Worse, it didn't even occur to him to try. He just responded by saying people read the article (many, like his questioner, probably did so in hopes of finding a point, only to be disappointed) and by defending the concept of writing about people who are not already famous (a concept under assault from absolutely nobody.)
It seems rather obvious that the author of a 2,600-word Washington Post article should be able to ask the straightforward question "What was the point." When he can't, there's pretty clearly a problem here somewhere. That the reporter in question is a media critic and still can't see the problem is appalling.
Arlington, VA: Of all the Senators, only Voinowich of Ohio, a Republican, did not vote. As he voted on other legislation that day, could the non-vote indicate that he might be supportive of the health care bill?
Perry Bacon Jr.: I'm pretty sure he will be a no, he's retiring, but known as a strong fiscal conservative.
Bacon didn't bother to explain why being a "strong fiscal conservative" makes Voinovich likely to vote against legislation that would reduce the deficit.
I'm fine with "fiscally conservative" becoming synonymous with "running up massive deficits" -- that is what conservatives have done for the past few decades. But I doubt that's what Bacon meant. So why does he think a fiscal conservative should vote against deficit-reducing health care reform?
Breitbart's tired ACORN smear campaign took an even lamer turn today with BigGovernment's attempt to manufacture a "San Diego ACORN Document Dump Scandal." "Licensed" investigator Derrick Roach dug through the garbage of the San Diego office and found some sensitive documents. To be clear, the documents he purportedly found - a few of which BigGovernment provides in the post - contained sensitive employee and donor information and should have been shredded rather than just dumped in the trash dumpster so that such information couldn't be used by anyone else (e.g. rabid right-wingers with an ACORN obsession).
That said, the information found in the documents BigGovernment provides in the post appears to be so inane that the only scandal promises to be if the conservative media actually continues to run with this tired charade. BigGovernment does promise that "[o]ver the weeks and months ahead, BigGovernment.com will continue to release information from this shocking document dump by ACORN, slowly revealing the ugly truth of ACORN: the fact that their stated mission of helping the poor and downtrodden is just a ruse and a cover for an organization that is highly partisan and highly political, and thus rotten to the core." But if there was really anything that damning in the documents, would BigGovernment really wait weeks and months to release it?
And if the information Breitbart and crew found did show hard and fast evidence of anything criminal, isn't Breitbart ethically - if not legally - obligated to turn over such information to the authorities?
But Breitbart's investigation takes a turn toward the bizarre and downright creepy with what Roach claims is a video shot from outside the San Diego ACORN office, showing several purported ACORN employees talking around someone's desk. Roach explains: "[T]he video clip, from the evening of the document dump, shows ACORN operatives clearly engaged in some kind of discussion - likely related to the activities of that evening." Activities of the evening? Like where to grab dinner and drinks? Or maybe they were discussing whether to see "Zombieland" or "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself." Who knows? But we can be certain that they were discussing something.
Breitbart should do one of two things (or both) immediately: Release everything to the public - tapes, (redacted) documents, etc. - and/or hand everything over to the proper authorities. Unless, of course, it's all just smoke and mirrors...
Seems odd, even for Malkin.
The right-wing blogger doesn't like the fact that among the nearly 500 times MSNBC mentioned "Palin" last week, on three of those occasions, comments were made about how Palin's fans were nearly all white. Malkin took offense. Not because the observation was inaccurate. Even Malkin doesn't claim Palin draws any real support among minorities. Instead, Malkin tries to turn the tables by pointing out MSNBC's lineup of TV hosts are really white. In fact, all-white.
Okaaaaay, and Malkin's point is what exactly? I'm all for increased diversity on TV. And I'm total agreement that all the cable news channels, including MSNBC, ought to employ more minority hosts and invite more minority guests on their shows.
But the supposedly offensive MSNBC comments made about Palin were, of course, made in the context of her being a politician and (theoretically) leading a political movement, which is all about getting votes. The MSNBC hosts and guests who commented on the all-white crowds Palin attracted last week were making a political observation. That's their job.
But Malkin, ignoring the difference between journalism and politics, thinks its hypocritical and unfair for pundits to talk about Palin's all-white crowds if the pundits themselves are also white, or work for a cable channel whose hosts are white. Or something like that.
Just curious, does Malkin think pundits shouldn't comment on economics unless their a economists, and foreign policy unless they used to work at the State Dept.? Or is it just race specifically, and pundits aren't allowed to comment on how Palin's fans are all-white unless the pundits themselves are minorities?
Seems like Malkin's pushing to be the new PC police chief.
Assume, for a moment, that you are a cable news executive. You are responsible for maintaining a certain standard of journalistic credibility on your airwaves and, as such, insist upon a clear line separating practices like reportage and commentary from issues advocacy and politicking.
But now you're faced with a problem -- one of your more popular prime-time personalities is seeking to expand beyond the media sphere and enter the world of political activism. It's a thorny issue, given that this personality's program is almost exclusively devoted to commentary, and it would be very easy for this person to give the impression that he is using his media perch to promote his own brand of politics. What do you do? Do you make no changes, trust that your newly political host will police himself, and hope against hope that your network doesn't come off looking like paid political programming? Do you insist that this personality retool his program to minimize the incidences of perceived politicking? Do you issue an ultimatum, forcing him to choose between being a politician and a cable news host?
Well, if you're Fox News and that politically inclined host is Glenn Beck, you do nothing. Fox News has thus far shown no interest in policing Glenn Beck's behavior, no matter how outrageous. They readily admit that their opinion bloc of programming is devoted to Republican-boosting, progressive-bashing conservatism (and their news programming isn't much different). And they already have a host whose political ambitions are nakedly obvious -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The failed candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination graduated to his spot on Fox News' weekend lineup before the campaign season had ended, and has already used the show to collect e-mail addresses for his political action committee. In the last year he's made two trips to Iowa, site of the first Republican caucus of the 2012 primary.
So don't expect anything different from Beck or Fox News. It's just part of the network's natural progression from untrustworthy news outlet to untrustworthy political outfit.
In May, new Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente told TVNewser that "probably the most important imprint [of Fox News] has been the fact that no big story has ever had to be taken off the air, that for almost 13 years, there hasn't been the kind of issue that others have had in terms of having to take things down, or apologize, or pay out on. So I'd love to have the next 13 years be as strong as the previous 13 have been."
Today, FishbowlDC posted a Fox News memo acknowledging "a series of mistakes on FNC in recent months" and pledging to "quality check everything before it makes air, and we never having [sic] to explain, retract, qualify or apologize again." The memo added that "[m]istakes by any member of the show team that end up on air may result in immediate disciplinary action" and "jobs are on the line here."
Fox News' first year under President Obama has been rife with errors, falsehoods and smears. We've documented that Fox News has apologized for some -- but certainly not the vast majority -- of its misinformation.
Over the years, Fox News has protected its brand by pushing the myth that it hasn't had to issue retractions for its stories. Like Clemente, in 2005, Fox News chairman and chief executive officer Roger Ailes was quoted by the Washington Post claiming that "in his nine years at Fox, 'I've never deleted a word, a phrase, a story. ... Unlike Newsweek and the Koran incident, [Ailes] adds, Fox hasn't just done a major retraction."
While Fox News management may quibble about the definition of "big" and "major," the Fox News "no retraction" line is silly. Even before Clemente and Ailes' remarks, Fox News issued multiple retractions and apologies. During the 2008 campaign, Fox News was one of the leaders in spreading the smear -- later retracted -- that Obama "spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father -- as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa." If you followed the cottage industry of smears against Obama, this was certainly a "big" story.
It's clear that Fox News has a cultural problem. What's not clear is whether Fox News management will make good on its threats.
To wit, Fox & Friends has been repeatedly admonished for airing multiple fake stories -- including the madrassa smear. Then-Fox News executive John Moody issued memos and statements warning staff to get things right. Sound familiar? Yet Fox & Friends and the offending hosts are still on the air, pushing smears and falsehoods - when not photoshopping pictures of New York Times reporters, or remarking on America's lack of pure genes.
More recently, Fox News apologized for starting the fake story that Obama watched an HBO documentary of himself instead of election returns. Fox News was apparently so serious about its apology that Fox News Watch host Jon Scott repeated the fake story again days later while mocking Obama.