Tucker Carlson, on Henry Louis Gates:
What happened to him likely had little to do with race, but it's still appalling. His crime? Failing to be polite to a policeman. Except that's not a crime, or shouldn't be, and the rest of us ought to do all we can to make sure it doesn't become one.
I have no idea how much, if at all, race played a role in Gates' arrest, so I won't endorse Carlson's assessment of its likelihood. But the rest of Carlson's statement seems spot-on, and illustrates the way the media mishandled this story.
See, Barack Obama said all along that he didn't know if race played a role in the arrest. And he said the arrest was stupid anyway. That's almost self-evident -- Gates was arrested in his own home, and charges against him were dropped.
But the media pretended that Obama had said something hugely controversial -- and they did so by ignoring the fact that he had gone out of his way to make clear that he was not saying race played a role in this specific arrest. They just disappeared that part of his comments, and often suggested the opposite.
Had the rest of the media approached this the way Tucker Carlson did -- understanding that it's completely obvious that Gates shouldn't have been arrested -- their coverage would have been much better.
On the other hand, Carlson describes Gates as a "self-righteous whiner who probably cries racism every time he gets the wrong order at Starbucks." I tend to assume that if any 58-year-old African American had spent his life "crying racism" every time he encountered it (let alone every time he got the wrong cup of coffee) there would be enough examples to fill a book. As that isn't the case with Gates, Carlson's assessment of the professor seems ... odd.
Questioned by a reader about that description of Gates, Carlson pointed to a statement in Gates' Yale application. I'm reasonably sure that by 1970, Henry Louis Gates had experienced racism more significant than getting the wrong order at Starbucks, and almost as sure that Tucker Carlson knows this. When a reader pointed that out, Carlson took issue with Gates' use of the word "Whitey" in that application. Seems a little silly for a wealthy white man in 2009 to get so upset about a black man who grew up in a segregated town using the word "Whitey" 40 years ago, but that's Tucker Carlson for you.
From The Fox Nation, accessed on July 28:
Writing in the New York Times, Albert Hunt really lays it on thick with this idea that the GOP will achieve political nirvana if they manage to block meaningful reform this year:
A defeat would be a killer for Democrats. The trademark of Mr. Obama's first year in office would be failure; the reputations of the president and his celebrated White House staff would be decimated.
Less evident, though equally true, it would almost certainly cost congressional Democrats seats in elections next year, striking especially hard at some of the same centrist Blue Dogs who are resisting a health care bill.
A defeat of health care reform legislation would literally decimate the Democratic Party as we know it, Hunt stresses.
Left unsaid? The fact that a strong majority of Americans want health care reform. Doesn't matter. Inside the Beltway, the GOP is sitting on a political gold mine if they can just defeat legislation that most Americans want to see passed into law.
I mean honestly, is his (professional) obituary going to read, "Fact-checked by Ann Coulter"?
To follow up on Eric's follow-up to my point about the media's response to Sarah Palin's media criticism: the media's ridicule of Al Gore's 2002 media criticism, and their acquiescence to Palin's, is all the more striking given the media's treatment of Gore from 1997 through 2000 (not that it ended then.)
The media really did "make things up" about Gore -- they made up the claim that Gore had taken credit for discovering Love Canal, they made up a never-ending series of Gore exaggerations that all -- every one of them -- were actual media exaggerations; they made up fantasies about why he wore brown clothes (actual reason: everybody wears brown) and three-button suits (actual reason: everybody in 1999 wore three-button suits.) They made up lies Gore didn't tell, then used those made-up lies to call Gore a liar. They dutifully passed on every RNC attack on Gore, no matter how stupid and false, as fact.
And when Gore called them on it, they ridiculed him.
But when Sarah Palin -- who the media never held as accountable for her actual lies as they held Gore for the lies he didn't tell -- accuses the media of making things up, they can't be bothered to demand an example, and they certainly don't point out that Palin herself raised making things up to an art form during her campaign last year.
Is it any wonder the myth of the liberal media persists, given the way reporters dismiss valid progressive media criticism and obligingly pass along every inane conservative attack on their work?
Talk about insult to injury. Yesterday I highlighted the gaping holes in Glenn Thrush's Nancy Pelosi hit piece which claimed she's "despised" by Americans, despite the fact Politico couldn't point to any polling data--any facts--to support that incendiary claim. The article simply highlighted the dreadful brand of journalism Politico practices on a regular basis.
The insult? I go out to the curb this morning to pick up my suburban NJ newspaper and there, re-printed right on the front page, is Thrush's error-filled Pelosi's piece.
Politico is infecting everything!
P.S. Is Thrush ever going to correct the glaring factual error in his piece in which he claimed Newt Gingrich only became unpopular as Speaker of the House after he led the charge to shut down the federal government? Yesterday I pointed to Gallup polling data that proved unequivocally that Thrush's claim was erroneous. Gingrich was pretty much always unpopular.
You might even say, despised.
We frequently point out the various ways in which our friends at NewsBusters reveal themselves to be sub-par media critics, and -- wouldn't you know it - we found another one. And it's a pretty good one, too. Yesterday, NewsBusters' Clay Waters observed that the New York Times had dismissed the Birthers as conspiracy theorists, but couldn't bring themselves to do the same for the 9/11 Truthers, to whom the paper showed "respect." Waters wrote:
Media reporter Brian Stelter's Saturday Business story, "A Dispute Over Obama's Birth Lives On in the Media," questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency. Good for the Times. But where is the Times's critcism when liberals gin up wackier conspiracy theories?
Back in June 2006, Times reporter Alan Feuer showed far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush. Yet not once did Feuer dismiss the 9-11 Truthers bizarre charge as a "conspiracy theory," as Stelter did in the first line of his Sunday piece on the Birthers.
First of all, the 2006 Times article doesn't come anywhere close to conferring "respect" on the 9/11 Truthers - Feuer observed that one of the ringleaders lived in a cave, that another recites profanity-laced Roman history, and that the crux of their entire argument is undermined by thorough scientific analysis. But as to Waters' specific claim that Feuer never "dismissed" the Truthers as conspiracy theorists, let's take a look at Feuer's article, with relevant portions highlighted:
In fairness to Waters, nobody really reads headlines anyway...
In the middle of a column about (I guess; it's always hard to tell) how Barack Obama's presidency is just like George Bush's, Dana Milbank drops this comparison:
To observers of the presidency, the sports imagery may look familiar. Former president George W. "Watch This Drive" Bush was often ridiculed for playing the role of athletic supporter in chief. But Obama, while switching the focus from Texas to Chicago, has been no less fanatical. CBS News's Mark Knoller, the unofficial statistician of the White House press corps, counts 18 sports-related events for Obama in the first six months of his presidency -- not to mention a dozen golf outings and a few off-campus basketball games.
Bush's "Watch this drive" comment drew criticism because it immediately followed comments about terrorism, leading many to conclude that he wasn't taking the topic seriously enough.
Equating Barack Obama's events with championship sports teams -- common occurrences at the White House for years -- with Bush's "watch this drive" callousness is silly at best.
2,300 more words from Howard Kurtz in today's Washington Post "Media Notes" column -- and not one of them about CNN president Jonathan Klein, who defends Lou Dobbs' Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorizing as "legitimate" and attacks Dobbs' critics as "partisan."
Kurtz, you'll remember, draws what we can only assume is a sizable chunk of his income from Klein's CNN, where Kurtz moonlights as host of Reliable Sources.
Kurtz did briefly touch on the birther controversy in today's column:
Will this quiet the "birthers" -- or the people who keep putting them on TV?
"State officials in Hawaii on Monday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president."
What a relief!
Not mentioned: Kurtz's CNN colleague Lou Dobbs is the leader of the birther brigade -- and Kurtz's CNN boss Jonathan Klein is the person who keeps putting him on TV.
This much is clear: any reporter who ever gets criticized by Howard Kurtz for having a conflict of interest should laugh in his face.
Just wanted to add some historical context to Jamison's excellent point yesterday about how pundits and reporters dutifully noted that Palin, in her resignation speech, took all sort of cheap shots at the press; insisting journalists "quit making things up." (She basically called them unprofessional hacks.) This coming from a woman with a deep, rich history of making things up.
Not only didn't many in the press point out that hypocrisy, but journalists have remained mostly mum about Palin's comically weak batch of media criticism. (Here's Phil Bronstein who gives Palin a pass for her press attacks.)
Okay, here's the historical context: Back in 2002 when Al Gore granted an interview with the New York Observer and unloaded on the political press corps, and delivered a far more compelling and articulate critique of the failings of the Beltway press corps, all hell broke loose among talking heads who practically sprinted in front of microphones and keyboards, hoping to be the first to ridicule Gore for having the audacity to call out their shortcomings.
*Time's James Carney called Gore's comments, "abject whining in the face of defeat" and complained that "the whining was excessive."
*Fox News' Charles Krauthammer called Gore insane: "I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there's a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. He could use a little help."
*Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray lamented Gore's "sad" "rant."
*The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes compared Gore to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist: "This is nutty. This is along the lines with you know, President Bush killed Paul Wellstone, and the White House knew before 9/11 that the attacks were going to happen. This is -- I mean, this is conspiratorial stuff."
*Rush Limbaugh also called Gore insane: "It could just be he's nuts. Tipper Gore's issue is what? Mental health. Right? It could be a closer to home issue than we know."
*Scripps Howard columnist Dan Thomasson condemned Gore's "posturing and whining." He also called Gore a "cry baby" and insisted his comments represented "a shop worn, bogus lament from losers."
BTW, this was the key point Gore made to the New York Observer, which probably stands as one of the most astute media observations from any politician in the last decade:
The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party. Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh-there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media ... Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks-that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what's objective as stated by the news media as a whole...
Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they'll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they'll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they've pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these RNC talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist.
UPDATED: The WSJ John Fund cheers Palin's "media critique," if that's what you call two semi-coherent sentences uttered by a Republican politician and which reference the press:
Ms. Palin will no doubt have a future as a stump speaker and political commentator in the lower 48, and her media critique certainly will find receptive audiences