From Frank's November 3 Wall Street Journal column:
Glenn Beck, the popular Fox News host, has a red telephone on his desk that never seems to ring. Every now and then, in a moment of acute frustration, he will pick it up and give the camera his trademark pleading-puppy look.
What Mr. Beck wants to hear from the phone are answers, and he wants to hear them from the highest authority in the land: the phone, he says, is "a dedicated line right to the White House." And when Mr. Beck gets things wrong, he wants his antagonists on Pennsylvania Avenue to correct him. But "They don't call. They're not going to call."
Consider a few of the other grand assertions tossed out by the panic-peddling host last week: that the cause of last year's financial crisis was pressure exerted by Acorn and "the people in Washington" on otherwise-reluctant mortgage lenders; that the cause of the inflation of the 1970s was President Jimmy Carter's quest for a "socialist utopia."
These are postulates that it is only possible to believe after you have utterly closed yourself off to conventional ways of knowing, after you have decided that the reporting and analysis and scholarship on these subjects are not worth reading, and that you will choose ideological fairy tales over reality until the day a magical phone call comes from on high.
What Mr. Beck's silent phone really symbolizes is a new kind of ignorance, a coming high-tech dark age in which people can choose to blow off professional standards of inquiry; in which they can wall themselves off with cable TV and friendly Web sites, dismiss what displeases as liberal bias, and demand that any contrary view be transmitted to them via telephone call from the president himself.
Why not let Mr. Beck and his viewers have their fun? Because ideas have consequences. Maybe, as many believe, Glenn Beck is indeed the future of the conservative movement. From tea parties to town-hall meetings, thousands are signing up and fitting themselves out with their very own hotline to nowhere.
I know I sound like a broken record, but that's what happens when the Beltway press corps embraces crushing uniformity; everybody just keeps repeating themselves.
-Fact: There are three key off-years elections today, with contests in N.Y., N.J., and VA. According to the polls, Dems could win one or two of those races.
-Fact: There are three key off-years elections today in N.Y., N.J., and VA. According to the polls, Republicans could win one, two, or three of those races.
So why do media elites only ponder the implications of Dems losing?
From the AP [emphasis added]:
In a very early test of President Barack Obama's political influence, two states are choosing whether to continue Democratic rule while voters elsewhere elect a handful of congressmen and big-city mayors.
Elected just a year ago, the president has spent a considerable amount of time and energy trying to ensure that Democrats win governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey and pick up a GOP-held congressional seat in upstate New York.
In doing so, Obama raised the stakes of a low-enthusiasm off-year election season -- and risked political embarrassment if any lost.
All three could.
Do you follow? If three Dems "could" lose, than that's news. If two Republicans "could" lose, that's irrelevant.
As a bonus, the AP Liz Sidoti's election analysis is just plain dumb:
Of the two races, a Republican victory in Virginia would be the most telling about potential trouble ahead for Democrats as they compete in swing states next fall.
Long reliably Republican in national races, Virginia is a new swing state. It's home to a slew of northern bellwether counties filled with swing-voting independents who carried Obama to victory last fall, the first Democrat to win the state in a White House race since 1964. Rapidly growing counties like Loudoun and Prince William swung toward Democrats in the 2005 governor's race, previewing an Obama win three years later.
Conversely, New Jersey is a traditional Democratic-leaning state with an incumbent Democratic governor. As such, it's the trickier of the two for Republicans to win -- and yet the GOP just might.
The GOP just might! Nice touch, Liz.
And by claiming that a GOP victory in traditionally GOP-leaning VA "would be the most telling about potential trouble ahead for Democrats," Sidoti gets is pretty much exactly wrong. Republicans are expected to win the purple state. The real trouble for Dems would be if the GOP won the governor's race in blue-trending NJ.
Honestly, can't anybody here play this game?
UPDATED: What's also astonishing, and this is absolutely ignored by the press, is that the NJ race is only close today becuase the GOP candidate has lost a double-digit lead in recent months. It's only close because the GOP candidate's campaign has imploded since the summertime. But the press doesn't care about that, or what that might say about the GOP. The press only cares if Dems lose.
Here was the weekend headline, which we criticized as being monumentally dumb for suggesting a statewide race in VA. would indicate whether Obama wins a second term three years from now:
Virginia Race Tests Obama's Staying Power
Here's the Journal's election headline today [emphasis added]:
Republicans Are Poised for Gains in Key Elections: Outcomes in New York, New Jersey and Virginia Are Unlikely to Forecast Much About National Races in 2010, History Shows
That's the good news. The bad news? For the second time in several days, the Journal's only interest in Tuesday's election is pondering the possibilities of Democratic losses:
A Republican sweep in Tuesday's key contests would at minimum show that Democrats face much tougher political terrain than they did a year ago. GOP victories would also help the party's fundraising and candidate recruitment for 2010, providing backing for arguments that Republicans have the momentum, and that voters are turning against the Obama agenda.
There's nothing inaccurate in that paragraph. The astonishing thing is that today's elections feature two close races (according to most polling data), yet the daily only examines the political implications of Democrats losing.
Newsmax has now completely removed Pat Boone's "tenting" column, in which he called for, "figuratively, but in a very real way," a fumigation, or "tenting," of the "varmints" in the Obama White House. This comes after Newsmax took the half-measure of removing links to the column from its website but keeping the column itself live. Newsmax has thus far not explained to its readers why it deleted Boone's column, which it similarly failed to do regarding the John L. Perry column advocating a military coup against Obama.
Meanwhile, Boone's column is still alive and kicking at WorldNetDaily. But given that WND writers have repeatedly likened President Obama to both Nazis and the Antichrist (and even defends such smears) -- not to mention restored an attack by Ann Coulter on Helen Thomas that Coulter's syndicators edited out -- Joseph Farah and Co. likely see nothing particularly egregious in Boone's eliminationist rhetoric.
Perhaps Farah might want to explain why he allows Boone's column to remain on his website when his fellow right-wingers have determined it to be too offensive.
On Monday's show, Limbaugh picked up on a story hyped by Drudge about Guantánamo detainees being offered the H1N1 vaccine. Limbaugh claimed:
LIMBAUGH: The detainees at Guantánamo Bay are going to receive a swine flu vaccine? Kids in the Midwest, parts of North Carolina, can't have the swine flu vaccine, but detainees at Club Gitmo are going to get the vaccine. I don't know. We're just out of whack. Everything is just surreal.
Limbaugh is ignoring that military personnel will be vaccinated before detainees and that vaccinating detainees can help protect military personnel and their families.
But Limbaugh is obviously thinking of the children.
Apparently, Limbaugh is upset they're not getting a vaccine that may have been developed to kill them.
That's what Limbaugh said after all:
LIMBAUGH: Checked the email during the break: "Rush, sounded like you didn't think [Louis] Farrakhan's kind of loopy here for saying that the swine flu is developed to kill people." Folks, it's hard to disagree with him on this. I mean, after the stories we have discussed just this week on cancer testing now being no good, We've -- cash for no babies -- carbon credits for not having babies, that's the only way to save the planet.
We've got death panels in Florida. We have an administration in love with the teachings of Chairman Mao. So Farrakhan comes along and says that the swine flu is developed to kill people -- oh, no, the vaccine, I'm sorry -- swine flu vaccine developed to kill people, and he seems perfectly within the realm of reality to me with all the other news that's going on out there.
He said that the people who won't take the vaccine are wise, which includes me. Minister Farrakhan has unknowingly, probably, pronounced me as wise. Now, at any other point in my life I would think, well, this guy's lost his marbles. He's a true fruitcake, gone over the edge; and an order of fries short of a happy meal. But how can you, with everything else going on in the country today, how in the world can you just discard this?
Limbaugh has been fomenting hysteria over the H1N1 vaccines for weeks now. Not only that, he's also downplayed and even mocked reports of the number of children who have died from H1N1. And now he's suddenly concerned about those children getting the vaccine?
Mediaite's Steve Krakauer defends Howard Kurtz's glaring conflict of interest, arguing that Kurtz's (tepid) criticism of CNN for not paying more attention to a controversial comment by Rep. Alan Grayson shows that Kurtz "doesn't hold back when giving his take on the network airing his show." Here's Krakauer:
The segment is one small piece of evidence that the CNN host doesn't hold back when giving his take on the network airing his show - there are many more. In this media environment where so many networks have partnerships and sharing deals with other outlets, these types of questions are bound to come up. (For example - here's CNBC correspondent and MSNBC anchor John Harwood writing about Fox News in the New York Times.) The questions are likely to continue and increase, but Kurtz has done a good job serving as a model of someone put in a position to balance two separate jobs.
I think Krakauer has this whole question backwards.
When assessing how someone deals with a conflict of interest, the approach shouldn't be to say that everything is ok as long as they sometimes don't let that conflict affect their reporting.
If a politician casts 99 votes that don't seem to unjustifiably benefit her spouse's business, and only one that does, would Krakauer praise her for "model" behavior? Probably not. Nor would most people. Most people don't hand out credit for being ethical most of the time.
Likewise, the question with Kurtz isn't whether he ever criticizes CNN. It's whether he ever seems to let his role at CNN compromise his reporting at the Washington Post (and vice versa). If Krakauer -- or anyone else -- wants to assess whether Kurtz "has done a good job serving as a model of someone put in a position to balance two separate jobs," he shouldn't be looking for examples of Kurtz criticizing CNN; he should be looking to see if there are glaring examples of Kurtz giving CNN a pass. And there are, as I explain here.
A couple other quick points: First, the primary question with Kurtz has always been whether his employment by CNN compromises his ability to cover CNN for the Washington Post. But in defending Kurtz, Krakauer didn't point to anything Kurtz wrote for the Post; he pointed to something Kurtz said about CNN on CNN.
And second, Kurtz isn't "someone put in a position to balance two separate jobs." Nobody's forcing him to work for both CNN and the Washington Post. He chose to. He put himself in that position. And he did so after having lectured other print reporters about the perils of being "seduced by the affluence and adulation that comes with television success" and warning about the danger of "those who pontificate for a living" being "in financial cahoots with the industries and lobbies they analyze on the air."