As in, Obama's appearance at Notre Dame sparked a "public outcry."
But if the White House once hoped the speech was another way for Obama to reach out to this key constituency, the address instead is likely to be overshadowed by the public outcry, and in a state that Obama carried in the fall, Indiana.
Obviously there was an organized effort among some single-issue conservatives who opposed Obama's commencement invitation; who claimed the university had shamed itself by invited the President of the United State to address its graduates. But that in now way represented a "public outcry," a term which suggests a widespread reaction.
While we're at it, we'd ask CNN to define "backlash." Its online headline from May 15:
Obama faces Notre Dame speech backlash
And USA Today to clarify "mixed":
Mixed reception at Notre Dame for Obama
By all accounts Obama was greeted by the ND crowded with rapturous applause and an extended standing ovation, while three people heckled him. That's "mixed"?
Like Politico, CNN and USA Today conflated a minority protest into something much bigger and more widespread than it really was.
The Washington Post reports on a new poll under the header: "Some Call It Torture. In One Poll, Most Call It Justified."
The headline alone raises a flag: Most call what justified? Torture?
No, as it turns out, the poll does not find that most people say torture is justified. It finds that most people think "harsh interrogation techniques of detainees" is justified. I'm sure if you conducted a poll that called it "safe, legal, and humane treatment of detainees," you'd find even higher approval. But that isn't what it was; it was torture.
Eventually, in the fourth paragraph, the Post gets around to mentioning that the poll in question was conducted by Resurgent Republic, which, according to the Post, is "made up of Republican strategists." That's a bit of an understatement; Resurgent Republic is a Republican organization founded by former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie for the purpose of "shaping the debate over the proper role of government."
Shaping the debate, not measuring it.
Here's how Resurgent Republic summarized the pro-torture position:
Congressman B says that, while harsh interrogation techniques of detainees should be used only rarely, they may be necessary in exceptional situations to protect the country. Those techniques are justified when they are the only way to stop the murder of another 3000 innocent Americans in another 9/11.
Not only did Resurgent Republic use the euphamism "harsh interrogation" rather than torture, it pretended torture was used only rarely, and only to stop the murder of 3,000 innocent Americans. Had Resurgent Republic asked if people supported the use of torture in order to elicit a false confession of a link between Iraq and 9/11, I suspect public support would have been quite a bit lower. Had Resurgent Republic noted that, according to Bush administration officials, that torture could include crushing a child's testicles, support probably would have been lower still.
But the Post didn't mention any of that; it just pretended that most people think torture is justified.
Today's Washington Post: "Boehner Says Pelosi Should Back Up Her CIA Allegations":
Boehner's comments were the latest attempt by Republicans to focus on the speaker's knowledge of interrogation tactics in 2002, when she was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Republicans have suggested that Pelosi, who has criticized the use of controversial interrogation tactics in recent years, did not object to them in private briefings at the time and has given inconsistent comments as to when she learned of the use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning.
And today's Post article is the latest example of the media going along with that effort. Here's how the Post article concludes:
Pelosi has acknowledged in recent weeks that she learned of the use of waterboarding from an aide who was briefed in 2003. But Pelosi says that by then she was no longer the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee and had little recourse to object to the tactics. The CIA says its records show Pelosi was briefed on the tactics in 2002, which the speaker has adamantly denied. She has asked that the CIA release the notes from that briefing, a request the agency has not granted.
Boehner sidestepped questions about whether Congress should start a formal inquiry into what Pelosi knew in 2002, as some Republicans, including former speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), have sought.
In the entire article, there is no mention of the fact that Pelosi supports a torture investigation, and the Republicans do not. Instead, the article suggests that the open question is whether there should be a "formal inquiry into what Pelosi knew in 2002" -- as opposed to an investigation into what the Bush administration did. The possibility of a "formal inquiry" with a broader focus than Pelosi isn't even hinted at.
There were new indications last week that the Bush administration used torture to try to get people to "confess" a non-existant link between Iraq and 9/11 so they could justify the Iraq war. And the media is going along with the GOP's absurd efforts to focus on Nancy Pelosi.
Here's Maureen Dowd's explanation for how her column came to contain a 42 word passage -- commas and all -- lifted without attribution from Josh Marshall:
I didn't read his blog last week, and didn't have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now.
i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent -- and I assumed spontaneous -- way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.
but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me.
Here's what Marshall wrote:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
And here's what appeared in the New York Times under Maureen Dowd's byline:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
So, does it seem even remotely plausible that Maureen Dowd had a conversation with a friend in which the friend repeated 42 words written by Josh Marshall, and that Dowd later typed those 42 words perfectly, with the commas in the same place, from memory? Of course it doesn't. (And by the way: Even if you take Dowd's explanation at face value -- which you probably shouldn't -- she still has some explaining to do. Because based on Dowd's story, she didn't "weave" her friend's "idea" into her column; she passed her friend's thoughts off as her own, lifting them word-for-word.)
So how do you think Maureen Dowd would react if, say, Joe Biden ripped off a few dozen of someone else's words, then offered up an excuse this lame? Or if Al Gore did?
Jason Linkins is stunned by David Gregory's disinterest in getting to the bottom of who knew (and authorized) what and when:
David Gregory is talking about torture. He's talking about criminal behavior. He's talking about moral failings. And by his own admission, "nobody comes out cleanly." By his own admission, everyone was "told what was going on." Everyone "knew what was going on." You'd think that such a target-rich environment would lead a journalist to scramble all available resources to pin down all the wrongdoing, get to the bottom of everything, ensure that the whole matter comes out into the light. You will not be able to watch David Gregory in the above clip and feel like he is even remotely inspired to follow the story. All you get is shrugging, stooped, passivity.
Linkins' whole piece is worth a read.
But when it comes to the media's seeming disinterest in finding the truth, there's an explanation sitting right there in the middle of Gregory's comments: "nobody comes out cleanly."
That includes the media.
The elite media is stocked of people - many of them liberals, or sold as such - who supported torture.
Once a week or so, Jonathan Alter appears on MSNBC to talk about investigating torture. Well, Jonathan Alter supported torture. (To his credit, Alter seems more interested than many of his peers in finding out what happened, if not in punishing wrongdoing.) Richard Cohen -- "liberal" columnist for the Washington Post - still supports torture. You could spend days compiling other examples.
So, yes, last week's indications that the Bush administration employed torture in an effort to get people to say there was a tie between Iraq and 9/11 so they could justify their unnecessary war in Iraq should cause reporters to redouble their efforts to find out exactly what happened and who was involved.
But many of those reporters supported torture, and many of them supported the Iraq war. And most of those who didn't support the war did little to challenge the Bush administration's lies*. That probably has at least something to do with their passivity in following the story now.
* There are exceptions, of course. But the exceptions tend to be people you haven't heard of; people who end up on page A18, not NBC News.
Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page editor Harold Jackson:
Unfortunately, most of the critics of our contract with Yoo have their facts wrong.
But that happens when your information comes from those bloggers who never let the facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost Web site hits.
Jackson didn't address the fact that in his Inquirer columsn, Yoo hasn't let the facts get in the way of his partisanship.
In his May 10 column, for example, Yoo attacked President Obama for citing empathy as a qualification he will seek in a Supreme Court nominee. But Yoo himself has praised Supreme Court justice Clarance Thomas - Yoo's former boss - for displaying that very quality.
Yoo also argued against the appointment of an "activist" judge - a meaningless label that partisan conservatives like Yoo attach to anyone they don't like. Want proof? According to at least one assessment, the single most "activist" member of the high court is Clarence Thomas, for whom Yoo clerked, and whom Yoo praises enthusiastically.
And Yoo falsely suggested that liberals want President Obama to make a pick "based solely on race or sex" -- something nobody is in favor of. That's just a flatly dishonest description of the opposing view; Yoo grossly exaggerated and distorted views with which he disagrees for the purpose of more easily discrediting them.
It's like trying to discredit John Yoo's views on torture by saying "John Yoo thinks the President should be able to order the crushing of a child's testicles."
Oh. Wait. That wouldn't be an exaggeration at all. John Yoo actually thinks the president should be able to order the crushing of a child's testicles.
Anyway: Harold Jackson, so busy denouncing "bloggers who never let the facts get in the way," couldn't be bothered to address the hypocrisy and falsehoods found in Yoo's column. Apparently the Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial page editor think Inquirer readers should be held to a higher standard than Inquirer columnists.
And he wonders why the Inquirer faces a "murky future."
It's so annoying: He's a man of the people, he's one of us, he hasn't forgotten his roots. He used to be a firefighter! I might even believe some of his relentless NBC marketing rhetoric if Williams didn't stop reminding us every chance he got. Of course, the fact that a journalist feels the need to construct, and relentlessly sell, a forced public persona pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the state of corporate journalism in America today.
But Williams takes the whole blue collar thing and just jams it down everyone's throat. All the time. BriWi, give it a rest. You reportedly pocket $10 million each year to read the news for 20 minutes each night. (That comes out to roughly $50,000 per-broadcast.) You live in a restored farmhouse in Connecticut, and park your 477-horsepower black Porsche GT2 in the garage. And that's when you're not decamped to your Upper East Side apartment or appearing on Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show. You're not like everyone else. You occupy the tiniest stratosphere of elitism in America. So why this obsessive marketing campaign to sell yourself as just an Everyday Joe?
I'm reminded of all this beause when I opened my NJ newspaper today out popped a copy of Inside Jersey magazine.
Williams spent part of his youth in Jersey so Inside Jersey profiled him. That's great. But the blue collar shtick is, as always with Williams, just relentless:
Williams says his youth at the Shore was fantastic, though solidly middle class -- a three-bedroom ranch, a wooden locker at the Surfrider Beach Club instead of a cabana, a 10-year-old car when he was old enough to drive...And with it comes a little dose of middle-class Jerseyness, too. "It's my world view. It's who I am," he says.
He considered taking the police exam in Middletown or becoming a county dispatcher. "I could have easily and happily become a 'townie' as we used to call them."
Yep, just one of the guys. The marketing routine has become so predictable, even Williams' boss know which phrases to pitch to reporters:
Steve Capus, president of NBC News, says Williams' Jersey roots are part of his success. "He has a real connection with middle America," says Capus, a Hoboken resident who has worked with Williams since 1986. "He stays true to his roots and who he is. He could go out to a black-tie event every night of the week, but he'd rather go home and watch a Yankees game with his son."
Williams is special and different and remarkable because he likes his kids! Can you imagine Peter Jennings or Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite ever being so slavishly devoted to maintaining a public persona in such a hackneyed way? But hey, it works. Here's the second comment posted under the article at Inside Jersey:
Good story. He sounds like a terrific, down to earth guy.
Because the British press makes stuff up and then Drudge hypes it. It's pretty much like clockwork at this point.
Today's entry, via Drudge:
OZ TV AIRS NEW TORTURE PHOTOS
New 'prisoner abuse' photographs emerge despite US bid to block publication: Graphic photographs of alleged prisoner abuse, thought to be among up to 2,000 images Barack Obama is trying to prevent from being released, emerged yesterday.
Except that the photo highlighted by the Telegraph was published by Wired 16 months ago. But other than that, great scoop for the Telegraph and Drudge.