So, let me get this straight: CBS Early Show host Harry Smith interviewed Ann Coulter after she called him "certifiably insane" -- but the morning show has allegedly cancelled a scheduled Michael Moore appearance out of fear that he will criticize CBS?
Moore explains, via Twitter: "Backlash Begins: CBS has cancelled me on its Mon. morning show. After I criticized ABC/Disney on GMA, they didn't want me to do same to CBS."
Like clockwork, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt joins the parade of journalists buying into the right-wing attacks that because they were supposedly slow to cover the Most Important Story in the World (that would be ACORN, of course) that means they demonstrate liberal bias.
Like Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander and others who have recently taken up this theme, Hoyt manages to get through an entire column about the possibility that the Times is biased in favor of liberals without ever once mentioning the paper's coverage of the 2000 election or the run-up to the Iraq war, to pick just two of the most obvious counter-examples.
And like Alexander, Hoyt manages to avoid quoting or paraphrasing anyone arguing against the premise that the media in general and the Times in particular suffer from "liberal bias."
Hoyt does, however, break a bit of news:
Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, agreed with me that the paper was "slow off the mark," and blamed "insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio." She and Bill Keller, the executive editor, said last week that they would now assign an editor to monitor opinion media and brief them frequently on bubbling controversies. Keller declined to identify the editor, saying he wanted to spare that person "a bombardment of e-mails and excoriation in the blogosphere."
A few years ago, the New York Times created a conservative beat -- a reporter assigned full-time to reporting on the conservative movement (the paper didn't bother assigning anyone to cover the progressive movement.) Now, in response to right-wing whining, they're assigning an editor to brief them regularly on Glenn Beck's latest ravings. I'm sure that will make for some excellent journalism.
Hoyt's column ends with a quote from Pew's Tom Rosenstiel:
Rosenstiel said The Times has a particular problem with conservatives, especially after its article last year suggesting that John McCain had an extramarital affair. And Republicans earlier this year charged that the paper killed a story about Acorn that would have been a "game changer" in the presidential election - a claim I found to be false.
"If you know you are a target, it requires extra vigilance," Rosenstiel said. "Even the suspicion of a bias is a problem all by itself."
This is mind-blowingly clueless. The suspicion of bias will never go away. These efforts to bend over backwards to appease the Right -- people who will never be appeased -- no matter how ridiculous their complaints, in which newspapers like the Times fret over the suspicion of bias regardless of the merits of the complaint, are exactly how the paper ends up handing a presidential election to George W. Bush -- and then handing him his Iraq war on a platter.
And the idea that conservatives have "particular" reason to dislike the Times because of an article that may have implied John McCain had an affair is laugh-out-loud funny. I seem to have some vague memory of the Times suggesting a certain Democratic president was less-than-faithful -- and doing so more directly and more frequently than anything the Times published about John McCain. I seem to remember the Times -- a decade later -- trying to tally up the number of times the Clintons slept together in a given month, a task they never undertook with John McCain.
And conservatives have "particular" reason to dislike the Times because it ignored an election-year story about ACORN? Come. On. After what the New York Times did to Al Gore during the 2000 election -- making up a quote Gore never said in order to accuse him of being a liar was only the most sensational of the paper's offenses -- you have to be completely clueless to think conservatives have "particular" reason to distrust the paper's campaign coverage.
Oh, and there's still the little matter of the Iraq war. The Times implied John McCain was having an affair? Well, boo hoo. Thousands of Americans have died in an unnecessary war in part because the Times was insufficiently critical of the Bush administration's Iraq claims.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: The news media's disparate treatment of media critiques from the Left and from the Right pretty much disproves the idea of "liberal bias." If they really were biased in favor of liberals, liberal concerns about their coverage of huge matters like Iraq and Gore/Bush would get far more play than conservative complaints about whether an article about ACORN should have come a week earlier.
A school for kindergartners through second-graders in a comfortable Philadelphia suburb has become the latest target of accusations by conservatives that schoolchildren are being indoctrinated to idolize President Barack Obama.
If Michelle Maklin and Glenn Beck and the usual band of jokers created a "controversy" in which they claimed Obama was going to demand the first-born child from each U.S. home, would the AP type that up as news, as well? Meaning, is that any hate-filled charge of fiction that the right-wing will launch against this White House that the press won't treat as being newsworthy?
And note how the AP's Mulvihill plays monumentally dumb about the previous "controversy" about Obama addressing school children nationwide:
The notion that schoolchildren are being subjected to partisan politics rather than taught civics emerged earlier this month before an Obama speech to students was played in thousands of schools.
Left out of the AP report was the fact that those charges were absolutely absurd and that nobody on the planet who heard Obama's speech about exceling in the classrooom thought it was partisan or trying to "indoctrinate" anyone. For some reason, the AP, propping up the latest nonsense about "indoctrination," forgot to mention that right-wing hysterics over Obama's school speech were completely unfounded.
Last point: the AP actually quotes Malkin's blog regarding the school "controversy" as a news source, which is pretty hilarious since a couple weeks ago Malkin's right-wing "news" source claimed 2 million people showed up for an anti-Obama rally in Washington, D.C.
Media Matters for America recently released a report documenting the obsessive attention Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have devoted to ACORN -- due, of course, to their self-professed determination to expose taxpayer-funded waste, fraud, and abuse wherever it appears. As such, Media Matters compared the focus each host's television programs have given to the story with their coverage of well-documented political scandals involving Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, as well as massive corruption scandals engulfing Halliburton, Blackwater, and KBR -- corporations which have received thousands of times more money from the government than ACORN ever has.
The results were shocking: taken together, Beck and Hannity have been approximately 35 times more likely to reference ACORN than any of the military contractors, and 24 times more likely to reference ACORN than either Abramoff or Ney.
This is agenda-driven journalism at its worst -- and it's nothing new. An impressive study by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College has taken an even broader view of how ACORN has been portrayed in recent years, starting in 2006 and going through the 2008 presidential election. Rachel Maddow discussed it last night.
Among the study's conclusions (emphasis added):
The attacks on ACORN originated with business groups and political groups that opposed ACORN's organizing work around living wages, predatory lending, and registration of low-income and minority voters. These groups created frames to discredit ACORN that were utilized by conservative "opinion entrepreneurs" within the conservative "echo chamber" -- publications, TV and radio talk shows, blogs and websites, think tanks, and columnists -- to test, refine, and circulate narrative frames about ACORN. These conservative "opinion entrepreneurs" were successful in injecting their perspective on ACORN into the mainstream media.
What was the substance of the anti-ACORN campaign? If you had heard anything about ACORN before Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe burst on the scene, you had probably also heard that the group was guilty of systematic (and pro-Obama) voter fraud -- itself a fraudulent story line. From the Occidental study (emphasis added):
The mainstream news media failed to fact-check persistent allegations of "voter fraud" despite the existence of easily available countervailing evidence. The media also failed to distinguish allegations of voter registration problems from allegations of actual voting irregularities. They also failed to distinguish between allegations ofwrongdoing and actual wrongdoing.
More specifically, the Occidental study revealed that:
And perhaps most importantly:
It sounds familiar, doesn't it? The conservative media's coverage of the newest ACORN "scandal" has been defined by politically motivated journalistic malpractice, and once again, too many mainstream outlets have fallen in line, taking their cues from Fox instead of examining the story in a responsible way.
It's obvious that the right-wing media, and Fox in particular, will do anything it can to turn ACORN into a never-ending source of anti-progressive invective. But it remains the mainstream media's duty to serve as more than just a handmaiden for this conservative crusade. It may have failed before, but it owes it to the country not to fail again.
This A1 article is getting lots of attention, and fits in nicely with the Beltway's preferred Dems-are-in-big-trouble narrative:
Democrats Are Jarred by Drop In Fundraising
That's the headline. Should we count the problems with Paul Kane's article?
First, there's not one Democrat quoted in the Post piece who is "jarred" by the drop in fundraising, or anything like it. The Post simply makes that announcement itself. In fact, some Democrats quoted seem to suggest it was inevitable that a fall-off would occur given the historic amount of money the party raised during Obama's run. i.e. Don't fundraising tallies, even for committees that oversee Congressional races, often drop after presidential election year cycles, which now last two years long, including the primary season?
Yet Kane spends almost his entire article comparing fundraising tallies collected immediatialy after a presidential compaign, with tallies collected during one. Pretty obvious apples and oranges, no?
Then there's this graphic the Post used to show just how supposedly jarring the drop-off has been for Democrats.
Note there is no accompanying chart for GOP efforts so it's difficult for readers to get a sense of how the two parties compare. But also notice that through August of 2009, Democratic fundraising was up significantly as compared to the first eight months in 2005. (Despite that, the Post calls the Dems' 2009 efforts "poor.") So if you take out the most recent presidential cycle, Dems are raising more money than in 2005. Again, perhaps that's why the Post could find any Democrats who are "jarred."
And then there's this. The Post leans heavily on the idea that because furndraising in 2009 is down from 2007, that means big trouble for 2010's off-year, midterm showdown with the GOP:
Large-scale defeats in the midterms could be a crippling blow to the ambitious agenda mapped out by Obama's top advisers, particularly if they happen in the Senate, where Democrats caucus with a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority. The party will have to work furiously to defend at least six Senate seats and as many as 40 in the House, including many snatched from Republicans.
But back to that fundraising graph. Note again that Democrats are ahead of where they were in 2005, the lead-in year to the 2006 off-yeare midterm contests. And what happened in the 2006 midterms? Democrats scored huge wins over the GOP. So see the problem with the Post's analysis? The paper claims Dems are down in fundraising this years which could mean a problems for the off-year midterm contests. When in fact, Dems are ahead of their last off-year mid-term tallies, when Dems won big.
UPDATED: Another glaring problem with Kane's reporting:
Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party's harsh rhetoric about big business.
That's the lede and it contains a sweeping assertion that there's "boycott" among the bigbest Dem donors. Wow, that seems like a big deal. How exactly does Kane back up that controversial assertion? Like this:
Other Democrats and their aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party strategy, said that rhetoric toward big business has grown so antagonistic that it has become increasingly difficult to raise money on Wall Street, particularly after the controversy about bonuses and executive compensation.
Good grief. Does that very vague, very general reporting from Kane, based on off-the-record comments, in any way support his earlier, definitive claim that there's a donor boycott--a Democratic backlash--because of anti-big business rhetoric? Not even close. In the lede, Kane reports there's a "boycott" due to the rhetoric. Later in the piece Kane reports it's "difficult" to raise money from Wall Street due to the rhetoric. Which is it?
And where exactly is this populist, Democratic crusade against big business coming from? The Obama White House and Congressional leaders have been bashing corporate America this year? I must have missed it. And Kane includes no quotes to highlight the supposed push.
Kane does interview one wealthy private investor and longtime Democratic supporter. But the donor makes no mention of anti-big business rhetoric as the reason some donors may have stopped writing checks.
It's been several days since we noted Barone plainly manufactured a claim in his Examiner column. But still no correction or retraction. Maybe the Examiner just doesn't bother with exercises like that.
The problem with Barone's column came when, when trying to prop up the right-wing meme that it was liberals who unleashed violence this summer at the health care mini-mob forums, he claimed "a union thug beat up a 65-year-old black conservative in Missouri." Barone was referring to Kenneth Gladney, and whether he was "beaten" remains open to debate. (The police still have not pressed any charges in the case even though they know who the supposed assailants are.)
But suddenly Gladney's 65 years old? Oh brother. I understand why Barone wanted to emphasize that point; it makes the "union thug" seem even more heartless and scary. But in truth, Gladney is 38 years old. Barone was only off by 27 years. Sort of an important fact, no?
Question: Will the Washington Examiner columnist correct his obvious error, or does writing for the conservative Examiner mean you don't have to be bothered with such trivialities?
UPDATED: Since Barone's email address is attached to the bottom of his column, I'm sure he wouldn't mind if readers inquired about a possible correction.
And honestly, who gets angry at The Onion? Answer: Humorless right-wing bloggers, that's who. Worse, humorless, right-wing bloggers who write for Andrew Breitbart and don't read and/or do research very well. (Surprise!)
Here's the trenchant media criticism posted at Breitbart's Big Hollywood site:
Cowardly 'Onion' Ignores Obama, Ridicules Reagan's Alzheimers
And yes, blogger Christian Toto is actually angry that a satirical publication ridiculed somebody. (Noted.) But worse, The Onion totally lays off Obama [emphasis added]:
Week after week The Onion bends over backward not to satirize The One. That's keeping in line with most of today's cowardly comics, from David Letterman to Bill Maher.
Yeah, except that when you punch in "Obama" into The Onion's search engine it spits out 198 times that Obama has been featured in the mag. A few sample headlines:
-"Obama Revises Campaign Promise Of 'Change' To 'Relatively Minor Readjustments In Certain Favorable Policy Areas'"
-"Obama Suddenly Panicked After Gazing Too Far Into Future""
-"Obama Peddling Stimulus Package Door-To-Door"
-"White House Reveals Obama Is Bipolar, Has Entered Depressive Phase"
-"'Time' Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece"
-"Nation Descends Into Chaos As Throat Infection Throws Off Obama's Cadence"
-"Obama Practices Looking-Off-Into-Future Pose"
We'll wait because this one's a whopper.
The Tribune's Mark Silva pretends the right-wing's jihad against a group of small school children who sang an Obama-inspired song is news. It's not, of course, which might be why the Tribune's Swamp blog did its best to improve the facts. I suggest the Tribune correct the false report immediately.
The blatant misinformation is found right in the headline [emphasis added]:
It was the posting of the video on YouTube that brought a school apology.
Categorically false. The school where the children sang did not issue an apology in response to yesterday's hateful online crusade. Why should it?
Here is the statement issued by the school, in its entirety. Good luck finding the "apology." Or maybe Tribune editors have special, Michelle Malkin-issued decoder glasses and can locate the mysterious apology:
Dear Burlington Township Families:
Today we became aware of a video that was placed on the internet which has been reported in the media. The video is of a class of students singing a song about President Obama. The activity took place during Black History Month in 2009, which is recognized each February to honor the contributions of African Americans to our country. Our curriculum studies, honors and recognizes those who serve our country. The recording and distribution of the class activity were unauthorized.
If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me or Dr. King, Principal of B. Bernice Young School, directly.
Dr. Christopher M. Manno,
UPDATED: Silva and the Tribune might also want to think about at least blurring the images of the second graders who appear on the Swamp blog, since this whole 'news' charade as been one massive invasion of their privacy.