As the walls come crashing down on undercover ACORN video auteur James O'Keefe and his carefully constructed "citizen journalist" image evaporated, Andrew Breitbart clearly found himself at a moment of choosing. By all accounts, things did not look good -- his star pupil and the famous face of his newly-established online media empire had been arrested by the Feds for unlawfully entering the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu with the intent to commit a felony, and his name, mugshot, and connection to Breitbart were being plastered all over the media. Breitbart was faced with a dilemma -- what to say about the actions of his protégé?
I can't presume to know which thoughts ran through Breitbart's head as he mulled over the situation, but I'd like to think that he boiled it down to two scenarios, one reality-based, the other... well, not.
SCENARIO 1: O'Keefe, the newly-minted hero of the right-wing media, turned out to be not so much a "journalist" as an unethical, lying hack who allegedly refused to allow basic journalistic integrity or the law get in the way of his ideologically-motivated scam-jobs. The story already had legs on its own (unlawfully entering a senator's office -- allegedly -- is news in and of itself), but the coverage was fueled by O'Keefe's own notoriety, which, ironically, had been burnished by Breitbart and the other media conservatives now complaining about how much attention the story was getting.
SCENARIO 2: Attorney General Eric Holder, upon hearing that O'Keefe had been detained on bogus charges in Sen. Landrieu's New Orleans office, immediately threw together a conference call with editors from local and national newspapers. Explaining to them that he wanted to keep secret his secretly secret plans to never ever prosecute ACORN over the O'Keefe videos (even though they totally showed ACORN doing, like, all kinds of illegal stuff), Holder announced his intention to mobilize all the Justice Department's resources, in coordination with these newspapers, in a massive effort to destroy O'Keefe's reputation and maybe send him to prison for a while, even though he'd done nothing wrong. Every single newspaper editor agreed to the mission, then they crossed their hearts, hoped to die, and promised to stick a needle in their eye if they ever told anyone, and got to the business of smearing and defaming O'Keefe.
And the best part is, Breitbart's take on things, like most conspiracy theories, is immune to evidence and common sense. Of course there's no proof -- not even the slightest indication -- that Eric Holder has anything to do with O'Keefe's arrest, or that the Feds in Louisiana fed information to the media (an accusation they deny). But Breitbart insists that Holder must be involved because, well, that's the easiest way for him to continue to ignore reality. Hence, you get this wild theory about massive government corruption with the aim of destroying the reputation of one 25-year-old non-journalist.
Points for creativity. Demerits for pants-on-head stupidity.
From Roger Hedgecock's February 1 WorldNetDaily column, "Obama attacks Toyota":
The current cascade of troubles for Toyota started on Aug. 28, 2009, when a San Diego family died in their Lexus in an horrific crash caused by what is known as SUA - sudden unintended acceleration. The actual cause of SUA is not known. Rumors about a "stuck" gas pedal or faulty software or the floor mat interfering with the gas pedal are still rumors. An investigation is still underway.
Disclosure: My family drives Toyota cars (a Prius and a Lexus SUV), and we have never had a problem with these excellent products. On our cars (and every other Toyota vehicle I've seen), the floor mats are firmly secured by hooks and cannot interfere with the gas pedal. And the gas pedal works just as it should - press down and the car moves faster. Ease up and the car slowly decelerates.
Nonetheless, Toyota faces a perfect storm from SUA. But is government "greed" a factor here? As a co-owner of Toyota rivals GM and Chrysler, is the Obama administration and its jihad against Toyota "consumer protection" or revenge against a successful, non-union, red state based rival? Given what Rahm Emanuel said about crisis as an opportunity to "advance the agenda," this question deserves closer attention.
All of this is a field day for the Plaintiff's Bar, another Obama ally. Attorneys made fortunes in the "unsafe at any speed" Corvair, exploding Pinto and rollover Ford Explorer cases. These could pale in significance compared to SUA and the scale of Toyota's recall. The publicity over 52 complaints out of 1.8 million Toyota/Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2008 has made every owner concerned about the safety of their Toyota vehicle.
This panic could fuel lawsuits big enough to put Toyota out of business in the U.S. What a boon for Government Motors! Indeed, last Friday, GM, Chrysler and Ford all announced ad campaigns aimed at worried Toyota owners.
Toyota will announce a "fix" for the gas pedal this week. What's at stake here is not just the safety of the individual Toyota vehicle, nor even the financial health of that company - but the very existence of a free competitive vehicle market in the U.S.
Pretty dreadful stuff, courtesy of the Times of London. And more proof that reporters writing about U.S. politics for British newspapers feel pretty comfortable just making stuff up. They especially love to make stuff up about Democrats and watch as the right-wing blogopshere eats up the U.K. falsehoods and rewards them with links.
The Times headline:
Chicago cools on Barack Obama, its hometown boy
So how did the Times come to the sweeping conclusion that Chicago had "cooled" on Obama? Simple. Because several local Republicans, a conservative talk show host, and two barbershop employees said so. No joke. That's the extent of the Times' research.
Also, a note to Times editors: Not sure I'd refer to U.S.'s first African-American president as "boy" in the headline.
From Andrew Breitbart's Twitter feed:
From Ben Stein's February 1 American Spectator column, headlined "Free James O'Keefe":
These men were journalists trying to get a story. They didn't even touch a phone as far as I can learn. They were undercover reporters and TV operators. But that doesn't matter. Their real crime was disturbing the peace and quiet of the nation's liberal establishment and embarrassing ACORN. For this, these young overeager guerrilla journalists are charged with a federal crime. ("First Amendment? What's that?")
Meanwhile, no charges against those thugs with the clubs at the polling place.
Does this give you the feeling that maybe the prison orange for Mr. O'Keefe and his pals is a mark of courage and honor and that the rest of us should be shivering about what the Obama Justice Department thinks is law? When was the last time you read about federal charges against a liberal reporter for going undercover? The behavior of the feds here is not just worrisome. It is something beyond that. But, Mr. Holder, here is a line from the civil rights struggle I worked in before you were born: We are not afraid. And we're not going away.
From the front page of PajamasMedia.com, accessed February 1:
The link goes to a video (registration required) entitled "President's Message Shoot First, Blog Later: Roger, Breitbart & Top Web Journos Go Shooting With Texas Gov. Rick Perry," in which Breitbart states that he "need[s]" a gun "these days with SEIU and ACORN."
The right-wing's ludicrous fearmongering about how President Obama is trying to indoctrinate children isn't going away any time soon.
This time, Pamela Geller is leading the charge. Geller knows two things: 1) Obama's Organizing for America organization has a high school internship program (a secret program cunningly hidden on OFA's website - classic Alinskyite misdirection!) and 2) One teacher at one high school appears to have handed out applications to a high school class (according to one of Geller's readers).
From these pieces of information, Geller determines:
1) Obama is "recruiting in our high schools" to promote Obama's agenda of "national socialism."
2) The students are being "enlisted like SS youth."
3) Obama "is poisoning our public school system" by acting like "it's his own private breeding farm."
4) This indicates that "academic learning and achievement is hopelessly abandoned, and supplanted by radical leftist activism from the leftwing Alinsky indoctrinators in the perverse public school system."
5) The interns will be "force fed" "The mother's milk of the left -- anti-war agitation, anti-capitalism, Marx, Lenin, Ayers, Ellie Light activism, LGBT agenda promotion, global warming, pro-jihad, and illegal immigration. For starters."
Geller, of course, goes on to link the internship program to Obama's "creepy speech" to students about how they should stay in school, and how "public school teachers more than once were caught indoctrinating children into the Obama cult," i.e., the release of YouTube videos of students singing songs honoring Obama over which the Right previously freaked out.
If this particular wackiness were confined to Geller's blog, it would be one thing. But of course, Andrew Breitbart - who's never met a lie, smear, or distortion he didn't like - was quick to give Geller a "Big" platform to push it.
FAIR's Peter Hart points out this statement by CNN anchor Kiran Chetry this morning: "You also talk about letting taxes expire for families that make over $250,000. Some would argue that in some parts of the country that is middle class."
As Hart noted, households that make more than $250,000 make up only 1.5 percent of the U.S.
In 2008, Newsweek's Daniel Gross explained that even in the wealthiest metropolitan areas, $250,000 is a lot of money:
As census data show, state median incomes vary from $65,933 in New Jersey to $35,971 in Mississippi. But even in wealthy states, $250,000 ain't bad-it's nearly four times the median income in wealthy states like Maryland and Connecticut. And even if you look at the wealthiest metropolitan areas-Washington, D.C. ($83,200); San Francisco ($73,851); Boston ($68,142); and New York ($61,554)-$250,000 a year dwarfs the median income.
[T]he number of places where $250,000 stretches you is small indeed-certain parts of Greenwich, Conn.; several neighborhoods in Manhattan; some of California's coast. Even in the most exclusive communities where the wealthy congregate, $250,000 is still pretty good coin. Consider this: CNNMoney recently ranked America's 25 wealthiest towns. In all of them, someone making $250,000 would have a difficult time buying his dream house. But in all of them, making $250,000 means you're doing better than most of your neighbors. Even in America's richest town, New Canaan, Conn., the median income is $231,138.
In other words, to make Chetry's statement that $250,000 is "middle class" in "some parts of the country" true, you have to define "some parts of the country" as specific neighborhoods -- not regions or states or even metropolitan areas. Neighborhoods.
Chetry's statement recalls Charlie Gibson's embarrassing performance during a 2008 Democratic primary debate, in which he suggested that a family with two public school teachers as makes $200,000 a year. Gibson's statement was so badly out of touch with reality, the audience actually laughed at him.
As I noted at the time:
You have to wonder how media stars like Blitzer and Gibson have lost touch with their viewers so badly that they think $200,000 incomes are typical.
Charlie Gibson reportedly makes $8 million a year and is paid less than his counterparts at CBS and NBC.
Might that have something to do with his lack of perspective? How could it not?
Charlie Gibson would see his taxes go up under the Democrats' plan. So would Wolf Blitzer. And, coincidentally, they suggest that their viewers' taxes would go up, too -- even though for the vast majority of viewers, that isn't true.
With Candy Crowley set to take over CNN's Sunday State of the Union broadcast, let's take a moment to review some of her most memorable moments.
And the time Crowley claimed Democrats "message" was "we don't support the troops and we're not tough on national security."
That's the kind of track record that gets you a high-profile gig hosting a Sunday political talk show on CNN.
Earlier, I noted that the Washington Post's article about President Obama's proposed budget adopts Republican-friendly framing. It's striking how much better the New York Times' article is.
Unlike the Post, the Times makes clear that the budget simply allows the Bush tax cuts for those making at least $250,000 a year to expire as scheduled. (Though the Times does not spell out that the schedule was put in place by Bush himself.)
Unlike the Post, which simply quotes, paraphrases, and previews GOP attacks on Obama for the size of the deficit, the Times notes that "more than half the debt stems from policies enacted when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House."
And take a look at how the two papers put the size of the deficit in context:
To stabilize the debt, many economists say, the government should run annual deficits of no more than 3 percent of the overall economy, a target the White House has told key lawmakers it hopes to hit by 2015. But under Obama's new budget blueprint, deficits would sink no lower than 3.9 percent of the economy and begin to rise again by 2020.
A $1.6 trillion deficit for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, would be about $150 billion greater than the shortfall in 2009, which was the highest since World War II. It would equal almost 11 percent of the gross domestic product. Economists generally consider anything above 3 percent to be unsustainable over the long haul, although many say it is a necessary evil at a time of deep economic distress.
The Times article could certainly benefit from additional detail, but it's far better than the Post's treatment of the question, which completely ignores the fact that economists think larger deficits are necessary during tough economic times.