Nearly 2,200 words into Howard Kurtz's column today, he finally got to something that could conceivably be considered media criticism -- and that consisted of quoting three paragraphs of a conservative blogger's attack on the New York Times.
If Kurtz is at a loss for story ideas, might I suggest this?
National Journal seems to make a bit of a thing out of the fact that Sarah Palin turned down all of CBS's interview requests last week. NJ linked the snub to the fact that Palin famously bombed during her Katie Couric interviews during last year's campaign. (In her book, Palin, without providing any evidence, claims it was biased CBS editing that made her look bad in those extended interviews. Okaaaay)
Here's NJ's Hotline:
Sources tell Hotline OnCall that Couric's producer sent two requests to Palin's publisher for interviews during the "Going Rogue" book tour, and so far, Couric has been denied.
It's not surprising -- Palin has not agreed to sit down with more than a small handful of mainstream media interviewers -- but the move looks to be part of a larger Palin blackout from CBS News and Entertainment.
But here's the thing to remember, and Hotline makes a passing reference to it above, Palin's freezing out all independent Beltway journalists during her book launch. She hasn't agreed to sit down with a single political reporter, even though Palin just wrote a very political book. (The boycott got so bad MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell was forced to elbow her way to the front of a fan rope line in hopes of simply asking Palin a couple questions.)
Can you imagine if Hillary Clinton, for instance, published a book and then refused to sit down with a single non-partisan cable host or a single political reporter from a major newspaper or magazine? Imagine if Clinton only agreed to do interviews with The Nation, Rachel Maddow and Air America? The Beltway press would go berserk mocking Clinton's timidity. But Palin snubs the entire D.C. press corps, and rather than complain, they just keep obsessing over her.
The whole spectacle has been rather pathetic to watch:
-Step 1: Palin launches a new book.
-Step 2: The news media lavish tens of millions of dollars in free publicity on the book.
-Step 3: Palin tells the news media to get lost and drives her book launch tour bus right around the independent press, which never complains. And in fact, it continues to give Palin even more free publicity.
As I asked last week, do journalists enjoy being used by Palin and then completely snubbed?
From Cal Thomas' November 24 column:
We've only just begun with this. The new breast and cervical cancer screening guidelines may soon become mandatory as health care rationing kicks in. The unwanted, the inconvenient and the "burdensome" could soon be dispatched with a pill, or through neglect.
Great horrors don't begin in gas chambers, killing fields or forced famines. They begin when there is a philosophical shift in a nation's leadership about the value of human life. Novelist Walker Percy examined the underlying philosophy that led to the Holocaust and wrote: "In a word, certain consequences, perhaps unforeseen, follow upon the acceptance of the principle of the destruction of human life for what may appear to be the most admirable social reasons."
In our day, the consequences of government seizure of one-sixth of our economy and government's ability to decide how we run our lives (it won't stop with health care) are foreseen. They are just being ignored in our continued pursuit of personal peace, affluence and political power.
Opinion polls show a majority of Americans reject this health care "reform" bill. They think haste may waste them in the end. It doesn't matter. Like members of a cult, whatever the leader says, goes. The facts be damned. The crowd from the '60s will "seize the time," in the words of Black Panther radical Bobby Seale, thus sealing our doom as a unique and wonderful nation.
Welcome to the U.S.S.A., the United Socialist States of America.
From WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah's November 23 WND.com column headlined, "Why sin cannot be condoned by state":
On Friday, more than 150 Christian leaders, most of them conservative evangelicals and traditionalist Roman Catholics, issued a joint declaration reaffirming their opposition to homosexual marriage on the basis of protecting religious freedom.
While I agree that government's granting of special "rights" based on aberrant sexual behavior is a religious freedom issue, it's not the main reason for concern by Christians and Jews.
The Bible clearly identifies homosexual behavior, as opposed to homosexual thoughts or predilections, as sin.
The issue Christians and Jews should be focused upon is whether it can ever be acceptable for the government to condone sin - or, worse yet, encourage it by making it a "right."
I don't believe government can do that without dire consequences.
America is being judged by God.
The biblical proof text is Romans 1.
I am not stating the obvious here - that individuals will be judged for their behavior in the afterlife. What I am saying is we are already being judged in the here and now for rejecting God and one of those judgments is the explosion of homosexuality in our culture and the absolute explosion in the number of people accepting it, condoning it and even rejoicing in it.
Whether you are a believer or not, this affects you. It shapes the world in which you and your children live. If you think your society is depraved now, you have seen nothing yet.
Farah's column is promoted on WND's frontpage next to an unscientific online poll asking readers, "LET'S NOT MINCE WORDS; What do you think of homosexuality?" From the WND.com poll, accessed on November 24:
Joseph Curl and Matthew Mosk at the Washington Times came up with a heck of a non-story story today for the reportedly troubled newspaper, titled, "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." Take a look:
The print article ran on the Times' front page with the headline, "Obama's big tent leaves out GOP bigwigs; Dinner to honor India's leader." Slightly different, but it gets the same point across. From the headlines, one would think that Curl and Mosk had exposed President Obama as a biting partisan, who ran Republicans' invitations to the White House's first state dinner through the shredder while they eagerly awaited them at home. But one would have to read on.
As it turns out, Obama did invite "top Republican lawmakers." They just aren't attending. Let's run through the list of Republicans the Times names in its story, despite its headline:
House Minority Leader John Boehner: He certainly counts as a "top Republican lawmaker." Curl and Mosk write that "Boehner won't be there; he's on Thanksgiving break and home in Ohio." Left out of their story? That Boehner was reportedly invited.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: Also a "top Republican" who "received an invitation" but "decided to skip the dinner."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: He was invited, according to the Times, because he is a "prominent Indian-American." You could make a pretty solid argument that Jindal rose quickly in the GOP's ranks after they chose him to give a rebuttal to Obama's first address to Congress. At the time, the Times even decided that Jindal sounded pretty presidential.
Sen. John McCain: Not invited. The Times writes that this is despite the fact that "Obama the candidate pledged a post-partisan presidency."
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor: Not invited.
So let's recap: Mosk and Curl named five Republicans in their story who are "not on the A-list" for the White House's state dinner, two of which were apparently not invited. But they frame their story as "Top Republican lawmakers not invited to State Dinner." And of course, the clearest indication that this is a non-story is that Drudge has taken the bait by linking to the article with the outrageously false headline: "Not invited: Republican lawmakers..." Let's hope Times readers can wade through the muck and decide what's actually news today.
Former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd may have nailed down that honor today in the pages of the WashPost.
Behold this car wreck of a nut graph:
Yet while the conventional wisdom has it that Palin is too badly damaged to make a serious run in 2012 -- and I agree that her success is not probable -- it is definitely a possibility that Palin could be elected president of the United States.
Dowd doesn't think Palin can become president (it's "not probable"), but there's "definitely a possibility" that Palin could become president.
Honestly, what more is there to say?
UPDATED: As a bonus, Dowd lied about this:
Polls show that Palin's favorability numbers are a mirror image of those of Obama.
Hey, what do you know, another Beltway media beast deciding that the crazy right-wing claims last week that Obama's bow in Japan was somehow the sign of worldwide submission and that that, of course, represented breaking news.
From Newsweek [emphasis added; no link found]:
The president was pilloried last week for his deep bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito during a visit to Tokyo. Was he groveling before a foreign leader--or just being polite?
And who did the all-important pillorying? Newsweek was mum on that front. I wonder if that's because the unhinged cries about the bow were shouted out by the same crazies who claim Obama is a racist and a communist and a fascist and, yes, not an American citizen. Maybe Newsweek played dumb about who had "pilloried" Obama because it's the same people who cane him every day of the year regardless of what he says or does.
As I note in my column this week:
The sad truth is that the press is still way too impressed with the right-wing shouts and still capitulates to them, and then dutifully translates those shouts into "news" with coverage that seems purposefully dumbed down in order to avoid bringing news consumers to the obvious conclusion that the Obama-hating allegation being "debated" that day is absurd. Or, to avoid bringing news consumers to the equally obvious conclusion that the allegation being "debated" raised more questions about critics making it (i.e. what is wrong with these people?), than it did their target.
But never mind any of that. Newsweek decided to play the bow up as news. And oh yeah, Newsweek forgot to mention that, according to a Fox News poll last week, a overwhelming majority of Americans approved of Obama bowing in Japan, and even a majority of Republicans approved. So much for that "controversy." But for some reason that didn't stop Newsweek from pushing the bowing nonsense as a big deal.
UPDATED: And yes, it was Newsweek's own Katie Connolly who last week wrote that the phony 'debate' over Obama's bow was both "contrived and unhelpful."
Too bad her editors didn't heed her words.
From Richard Cohen's November 24 Washington Post column:
But to reread the speech is also to come face to face with an Obama of keen moral clarity. Here was a man who knew why he was running for president and knew, also precisely, what he personified. He could talk to America as a black man and a white man -- having lived in both worlds. He could -- and he did -- explain to America what it is like to have been a black man of Wright's age and what it is like even now to be a black man of any age.
Somehow, though, that moral clarity has dissipated. The Obama who was leading a movement of professed political purity is the very same person who as president would not meet with the Dalai Lama, lest he annoy the very sensitive Chinese. He is the same man who bowed to the emperor of Japan when, in my estimation, the president of the United States should bow to no man. He is the same president who in China played the mannequin for the Chinese government, appearing at stage-managed news conferences and events -- and having his remarks sometimes censored. When I saw him in that picture alone on the Great Wall, he seemed to be thinking, "What the hell am I doing here?" If so, it was a good question.
The Barack Obama of that Philadelphia speech would not have let his attorney general, Eric Holder, announce the new policy for trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court, as if this were a mere departmental issue and not one of momentous policy. And the Barack Obama of the speech would have enunciated a principle of law and not an ad hoc system in which some alleged terrorists are tried in civilian courts and some before military tribunals. What is the principle in that: What works, works? Try putting that one on the Liberty Bell.
From The New Yorker's November 23 profile on Glenn Beck:
If you sensed something of a quiet spell about ten days ago, a lull in the usual media storm, it may have been owing to the fact that Glenn Beck, the energetically hateful, truth-twisting radio and Fox News Channel talk-show host, was absent from the airwaves for a week, to have his appendix removed. A few days after his surgery, he made it clear, via his Twitter feed, that he hated just watching TV, which is, of course, the terrible fate of those of us who don't have talk shows. ("I know how U feel. Watching the news & knowing wht I say 2 my tv makes no difference," he wrote. "I cnt wait 2 giv U wht I think has bn going on.") By the middle of last week, he was back, breathing fire about Obama's response to the Fort Hood shootings.
A headline at the top of Beck's Web site announces what he thinks he's selling: "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment." If by this Beck means that his product is radioactive, he's got that right. We can only hope that its toxic charge will fade over time. But that seems unlikely. At the end of the Elia Kazan-Budd Schulberg movie "A Face in the Crowd," the Arkansas opportunist and petty criminal who has been repackaged, by a radio broadcaster, as a guitar-playing professional hayseed called Lonesome Rhodes (played brilliantly by Andy Griffith), and who has been consumed and ruined by fame, shows his true colors when he bad-mouths his audience over an open mike. The nation abandons him, and, as the movie ends, he's shouting, unheard, into the night. These days, because of the Internet, it's not so easy to get rid of a demagogue. Long after Beck leaves radio and TV, his sound bites will still be with us.
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 ...