For the better part of four years now, the crack bias sleuths at NewsBusters have had something of a monopoly on really awful media criticism. If you wanted to read some of worst, most puerile carping on the alleged transgressions of the mainstream media, all you had to do was head over to Tim Graham's place and read about MSNBC's biased promo announcers, Andrew Sullivan's unforgiveable foreignness, and the Washington Post's anti-"Wolverines!" slant. And let's never forget Matt Lauer's terrorist neckwear.
But it looks like Andrew Breitbart's BigHollywood.com is looking to dethrone NewsBusters as the premiere source for asinine right-wing media criticism, and they made a compelling case with one of their "featured stories" this morning which documented the absurd liberal bias in an episode of Sesame Street that aired two years ago.
Just let that sink in for a moment...
So, in the spirit of one of Sesame Street's many iconic characters, let's count the ways in which BigHollywood.com embarrassed themselves this morning:
Add one more soldier to the Left's war on Fox News: Oscar the Grouch.
Later in the episode, Anderson Cooper from 4th place CNN, guest stars as a reporter for GNN. He interacts with "Walter Cranky" and "Dan Rather-Not" - Muppets representing real-life liberal news personalities - and they talk about "Meredith Beware-a" and "Diane Spoiler." But no affectionate nicknames for Fox News personalities; no Spill O'Reilly or Brittle Hume - nope, and the only disparaging characterization of real-world news is reserved for Fox: Fox is a POX. It is trashy. They didn't even attempt to try "MessyNBC."
The message is clear, I can't even sit my kids in front of "Sesame Street" without having to worry about the Left attempting to undermine my authority.
The fact that this is a re-run from an episode written during the Bush Presidency only reinforces that this is nothing new. The Left has been doing this for years now. All of us have seen it and felt powerless to mention it, because if we do, we're ridiculed and dismissed (thank you, Mr. Alinsky).
"Sesame Street" can awkwardly slam FoxNews from the comfort of their stodgy old PBS studios... Meanwhile, we have the cool kids on our side: Dennis Miller, Greg Gutfeld, Andrew Breitbart and yes, even Glenn Beck. And our cool kids are pointing out just how boring, lame, predictable and lazy the other side has become.
And so forth...
I'd like to think that this is satire of some sort. I really would. But we've all seen how earnestly idiotic these folks can be.
No matter what Bill O'Reilly, Mike Allen, Kathleen Parker, Clarence Page, Michael Wolff, David Gergen, Ruth Marcus and an army of media pundits insist, the cold facts are clear: in the two weeks following its public dispute with the White House. Fox News' ratings did not "soar" or "spike" or "go through the roof."
Instead, the ratings flat-lined.
As I note in my column:
The chattering class wanted to claim Fox News' ratings were going up, up, up. They wanted to suggest that the White House critique had massively backfired. But now we know that's fiction. So when are the pundits going to start posting their retractions?
Full column here.
Here's a "fair and balanced" promo Fox News has been airing all week for its Tuesday election coverage:
On his Twitter account, former Bush adviser Karl Rove writes: "I'll be on Fox & Friends tomorrow at 8 AM and most of the day for election coverage" and "Live Desk, Your World, Hannity, O'Reilly, FBN w/ Cavuto, and Fox Election Special at 10 PM."
While promoting his Fox News appearances, Rove also pushed people to contribute to candidates, writing: "Visit www.doughoffmanforcongress.com to contribute"; "Corzine spending more than $20 mm attacking Christie. RGA is fighting back. Give now so they can stay on air http://tinyurl.com/ylruh22"; "GOP Comeback begins in NJ and VA with RGA. Give now to help them stay on air. http://tinyurl.com/ylruh22."
So let's get this straight: Fox News' top "Fox News political analyst" is actively encouraging people to defeat Democrats. And that top "Fox News political analyst" will participate "most of the day" for Fox's "fair & balanced" coverage. Rove, by the way, routinely appears by himself, unchallenged, in his role as election analyst - as he's already done on today's Fox & Friends and yesterday's On the Record:
No active follower of politics should see Bush's Brain as anything other than a partisan Republican hack. Then-Fox News executive John Moody said of Rove: "Are we getting a Republican spin? Of course. But that's what he's there for. There's no attempt to conceal that."
So there it is. Fox News' "fair and balanced" political coverage will feature self-described "Republican spin" - again, often by himself and unchallenged - from its top political analyst who also happens to be actively soliciting for Republicans and conservatives. We report, you decide.
In the third sentence of his 1,220-word innuendo-filled column warning of voter fraud in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund writes that "if serious allegations of fraud emerge, you can also expect less-than-vigorous investigation by the Obama Justice Department."
The key word there is "if." Fund was obviously unable to come up with any actual "serious allegations" of voter fraud, so Fund -- as he does almost every cycle -- makes a series unserious fraud insinuations that are unconstrained by actual facts. In one passage, Fund writes:
Authorities in nearby Philadelphia know about such scams. In one infamous case, a key 1993 race that determined which party would control the Pennsylvania state senate was thrown out by a federal judge after massive evidence that hundreds of voters had been pressured into casting improper absentee ballots. Voters were told by "bearers" that it was all part of "la nueva forma de votar" -- the new way to vote. Local politicos tell me Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn may now be advising their Jersey cousins on how to perform such vote harvesting.
That last sentence is a bit hard to follow. Let's break it down into more manageable pieces to fully appreciate what Fund is doing here.
"Local politicos tell me": Fund claims to have spoken to anonymous people who live in New Jersey and who apparently have some involvement in politics.
"Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn": Fund's anonymous sources are purportedly telling him that unnamed people from Philadelphia who are apparently also involved in politics have -- at some point in the past -- had some undefined connection to ACORN, which by implication makes them inherently corrupt.
"may now be advising their Jersey cousins": Fund's anonymous sources purportedly tell him that the unnamed, allegedly once-ACORN-associated "operatives" from Philadelphia might be advising people apparently involved in New Jersey politics, but really, who can say for sure?
"on how to perform such vote harvesting": The advice that the unnamed allegedly once-ACORN-associated "operatives" from Philadelphia might be giving to the politically involved New Jerseyans centers around encouraging voters to vote by mail -- an activity that appears to be perfectly legal in New Jersey.
So just to recap: In a single sentence, Fund claims to have spoken to anonymous New Jerseyans somehow involved in politics who purportedly told him that unnamed Philadelphians, who are also involved in politics and who once had unspecified ties to ACORN, "may" (or may not) be giving New Jersey political operatives advice on how to do something that is apparently legal in New Jersey.
No wonder Fund apparently was so unconvinced by his own column that he felt the need to lie to Glenn Beck about is contents.
In September, I detailed how Fox's Chris Wallace, who used to enjoy sort of hold himself up being part from the boisterous Fox News, how Wallace like to present himself as the adult supervising the Fox News romper room, had gulped the kool-aid and embraced the Glenn Beck era of Fox Land.
So just a couple thoughts re: Wallace's recent Limbaugh interview. Watching a Sunday morning talk show host leaving his D.C. studio and flying half way across the country to interview a AM talk show host really told us all we needed to know about the state of Wallace's journalism career, and how he had completely abdicated any sense of professionalism. It also told us all we needed to know about Wallace's last place Sunday morning show, which has been in the cellar longer than the Oakland Raiders. Meaning, going to kiss Limbaugh ring, to me at least, certainly had the air of desperation to it, as Wallace practically groveled for a one-time ratings spike via Limbaugh's large radio audience.
As for the interview itself? You expected actual journalism on display? Didn't think so. The whole thing was just a 30-minute Obama-bashing infomercial for Limbaugh. But this comment by Wallace, made to to the Fox online audience as Wallace tried to drum up interest in the softball interview, caught my attention [emphasis original]:
I was surprised by the strength of his feelings about this president.
Got that? Chris Wallace sat down to interview Rush Limbaugh who, in 2009, has literally run out of way to express his unabiding contempt, disgust and outright hatred for the President of the United States, and the tuned-out Fox anchor was surprised to find out Limbaugh really didn't like Obama.
Chris Wallace is a supposedly serious journalist, and Chris Wallace was surprised to find out that Rush Limbaugh really dislikes Obama?
That's just another example of how Chris Wallace has become irrelevant.
UPDATED: Crooks and Liars' John Amato did a nice job dismantling Wallace Sunday performance:
Chris Wallace had a chance to prove to America that he actually has journalistic integrity and is not part of the Fox Sphere of phony reporting when he interviewed Rush Limbaugh on Fox News Sunday. What we got was FOX News #1, fair and balanced reporter acting like a bowl of jelly for Limbaugh's rants.
Like we said, in terms of serous journalism, Chris Wallace has become irrelevant.
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 2 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From the turbo talker:
"I think he's got an out-of-this-world ego. He's very narcissistic. And he's able to focus all attention on him all the time."
You don't say.
Newsmax has apparently learned nothing from the controversy over columnist John L. Perry calling for a military coup against President Obama. It has followed WorldNetDaily by publishing a column by Pat Boone calling for a "tenting" of the White House.
As we noted, Boone describes the current residents of the White House has "social and political voracious varmints" who need to be dealt with, "figuratively, but in a very real way," through tenting: "Experts come in, actually envelope the whole dwelling in a giant tent -- and send a very powerful fumigant, lethal to the varmints and unwelcome creatures, into every nook and cranny of the house. Done thoroughly, every last destructive insect or rodent is sent to varmint hell -- and in a day or two, the grand house is habitable again."
Newsmax actually showed some responsibility by removing Perry's column (though not to the point where it apologized to its readers for publishing it in the first place). Will Newsmax show the same quasi-responsibility here by curbing Boone's eliminationist rhetoric?
As for Boone, his eliminationist rhetoric pretty much destroys his nice-guy reputation, much more than his heavy-metal album did.
UPDATE: Newsmax seems to have placed Boone's column in some sort of stealth mode -- the link is still active as of this writing, but it's been removed from Boone's article archive.
Sometimes it's healthy to step back from the blaring din of political news coverage, separate oneself from the gritty minutiae of polling data and CBO scores, and look at issues of broader significance and deeper meaning, if only to obtain a fleeting dose of perspective before plunging back into the cable news fray. In that spirit, I wandered over to Dan Gilgoff's God & Country blog at USNews.com, which is featuring a written debate on Darwin, evolution, and Creationism between National Center for Science Education executive director Eugenie Scott and New Zealand-born minister Ray Comfort. Comfort, as I noted last month, is celebrating the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species by publishing his own edition of the landmark scientific work with a 50-page Creationist screed tacked on as an introduction, and this re-release of Darwin is the very the reason Scott and Comfort are locking horns.
The initial posts from Comfort and Scott should immediately clue you in to the motivations each person brought to the debate. Comfort's opening statement is little more than a pitch for his books and television program. He carries on about commenters on Amazon.com and atheists, and lobs insults at Richard Dawkins with the likely goal of getting Dawkins to respond. Only once does he attempt to address issues of scientific weight, and the result is comically absurd. Comfort writes that "believers in evolution" cite as evidence "small bumps on whale bones (proving it once had legs), or experiments with bacteria, or conjecture that modern turkeys were once dinosaurs." His response, in its entirety, is a sneering "Sure." To finish things off, he mocks Mormons and "believers in evolution" as being equally foolish and gullible.
Scott's riposte, on the other hand, is a thoughtful dissection of Comfort's publicity stunt. She observes that Comfort, in addition to appending his introduction to Origin, excised "no fewer than four crucial chapters" that contain "some of Darwin's strongest evidence for evolution." Responding to Comfort's mockery of "small bumps on whale bones" and "conjecture that modern turkeys were once dinosaurs," Scott points out that there "are splendid fossils of dinosaurs that have feathers and of whales that have legs-and even feet." (See: Georgiacetus vogtlensis and Beipiaosaurus inexpectus.) I particularly enjoyed Scott's closing line, in which she expressed her "faith that college students are sharp enough to realize that Comfort's take on Darwin and evolution is simply bananas" - a sly reference to Comfort's well-known and widely mocked theory that bananas prove the existence of God.
There's an argument to be made that the media should not grant publicity-seeking clowns like Ray Comfort legitimacy they haven't earned by allowing them a seat at the table, and the best support for that argument is the sort of nonsense that Comfort brought to bear in his opening statement for USNews.com. But if a crank like Comfort is going to get his 15 minutes, then it's helpful to pair him with someone like Scott, whose measured grasp of scientific reality makes Comfort's cynicism and self-promotion seem all the more crass.