Howard Kurtz today:
Yet while the Letterman saga has unleashed a tsunami of coverage, serious allegations involving Sen. John Ensign have barely produced a trickle.
Was Ensign, whose parents just happened to give $96,000 to Cynthia Hampton and her family, trying to buy the couple's silence? Despite such troubling questions, the Ensign controversy barely exists on television -- although CNN's Dana Bash did manage to stake him out for a quick interview in which the senator said he'd violated no ethical rules and has no plans to resign.
The Ensign story is complicated and not very visual. Letterman is far more famous. So the comic is turned into media fodder and the officeholder largely stays under the radar.
Left unmentioned in Howard Kurtz's half-hearted attempt to explain why David Lettermen has gotten so much more media attention than John Ensign: Howard Kurtz's own obsession with the Letterman story. Marcy Wheeler documented that obsession last Tuesday, and it has continued to this day.
So, Kurtz himself has been obsessed with Letterman -- and has fanned the flames of the Letterman story as much as anyone. And now he purports to analyze why the media -- as if he isn't part of it -- has paid so much attention to Letterman, without ever once mentioning his own role or motivations.
Instead, he offers up the absolutely inane explanation that the Ensign story hasn't gotten more attention because it's too complicated. Really? We're supposed to believe the media can't figure out how to report that a Senator had an affair with one of his staffers -- who happened to be married to another of his staffers -- then tried to buy the couples' silence by giving them $96,000 from his parents and getting the husband a new job?
Seems like something they could figure out how to cover if they put their minds to it.
Right-wingers are being encouraged to descend upon "liberal" media outlets in their hometowns on October 17, and protest all the unfair coverage. It's part of Operation: Can You Hear us Now, and it's a continuation of the Tea Party and heath care mini-mob madness, as activists follow the lead of their "American heroes" Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
Reading about the plans, this part made me chuckle [emphasis added]:
Be peaceful, respectful, but let them HEAR you and SEE you. Remember, they are hard of hearing and their eyesight isn't what it used to be the last 8 years prior. They accidentally missed 2 million people protesting in D.C. in one of the biggest protests in US History.
Maybe we cannot repeat an assembly of 2 million mad-as-hell taxpaying patriots in one place, but surely those who longed to go and couldn't would love to be a part of Operation "Can You Hear Us Now?"
Boy, irony doesn't get much thicker than this, does it? Right-wingers are going to protest "liberal" media outlets for being unfair and unprofessional. For being blind to the truth! And how do `wingers know the news orgs aren't fair? Because they "missed" the anti-Obama rally where "2 million" people were protesting in D.C.
Laugh along as I highlight the press didn't miss that story...because 2 million people never showed up in D.C. According to best official counts, there were actually 1.9 million fewer people than that; about 70,000. But choosing to inhabit their own parallel universe, tea bag protesters continue to cling to the fabricated 2 million number to show how the other guys aren't playing fair.
Honestly, I don't think `wingers hate the press just because it's supposedly so "liberal." They hate the press because journalists won't accept the concocted version of reality that conservatives are constructing for themselves under Obama.
UPDATED: You know trouble is brewing when protest organizers have to urge activists not to show up with posters that feature a "racial epithet."
From an October 11 ESPN.com article:
NFL Players Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Saturday made a move to solidify the union against a bid by conservative talk show radio host Rush Limbaugh as part of a group that aims to purchase the St. Louis Rams.
In an e-mail to the union's executive committee on Saturday specifically addressing Limbaugh's bid, Smith said, "I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages. But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."
Limbaugh and St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts are among six potential ownership groups that have discussed buying the Rams. League sources say the current sale price has ranged from $700-to-$750 million but that there did not appear to be an imminent transaction.
On Sunday, Smith briefly elaborated, "This communication is more about what we stand for than the reality of our role in any franchise sale. While it's true the subject matter was related [to Limbaugh's bid], I do understand that the NFL does not present ownership bids to me or the NFLPA. I encourage our players to express their views."
At least seven NFL players have publicly opposed Limbaugh's interest in purchasing the Rams with Checketts. In Smith's communication Saturday with his executive committee, the union leader encouraged players to speak their mind on all matters, including Limbaugh's bid.
80 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 October 9 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From Dick Morris and Eileen McGann's October 9 column:
Whether it was rewarding Jimmy Carter for criticizing the Iraq war or supporting Al Gore in his crusade against global warming, the Norwegian parliament, which chooses the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, has sought to use the award as a political tool to influence American politics.
Its prestige and moral power make the prize a potent weapon with which to help steer the direction of the colossus beyond the seas that controls a quarter of the world's economy and most of its military power.
Now, the Norwegians have weighed in to support Barack Obama in his bid to reshape America so it looks more like, well, Norway, or at least like Europe.
European socialism cannot succeed without conquering the United States.
The Nobel Prize is really Obama's payback for disciplining the unruly United States and taming it to be a member of the European family of nations. Europe wants to reverse the American Revolution and re-colonize us, and it sees in Obama a kindred spirit willing to do its bidding.
All this heavy lifting, this conversion of America into a European state, deserves a reward. And what is a more fitting one than to give Obama than the Nobel Peace Prize?
He obviously doesn't deserve the award for economics or, given his healthcare ideas, for medicine. But the Peace Prize expresses Europe's longing: to take back the nation its overly ambitious and uppity children founded.
Given the gleeful mocking of President Obama over Chicago's failed effort to host the 2016 Olympics, and shameless smears of his unexpected Nobel Peace Prize, let's pause and ask: Is there anything conservatives won't turn into a cudgel to bludgeon the president? Take, for example, the art hanging on the White House walls.
As AFP reported earlier this week, the president and first lady have borrowed 47 works of art from five galleries to decorate the White House. AFP went on to describe the art:
They include pieces by seven black artists, including one by Glenn Ligon, a conceptual artist who explores issues of politics and race in works made of text, photos and neon.
A vertical piece selected by the Obamas was "Black like me No. 2," a riff on a 1961 book by white journalist John Howard Griffin who darkened his skin and then wrote about his experience as a "black" man in the racially segregated US south.
"Harlem Renaissance" painter William Johnson is favoured with four pieces, while Alma Thomas, a top African-American woman artist, is represented on the abstract painting front.
In addition, many earthenware pieces and other works by Native Americans were chosen.
On the more classical side, there is a melancholic "Sunset" by Winslow Homer, and two bronze dancers by Degas. Abstract artists like Mark Rothko, and Josef Albers, and conceptual stars like Edward Corbett and Jasper Johns also made the White House grade.
From across the Atlantic, in addition to the Degas, there are a still life by Italian painter Giorgio Morandi and a depiction of Nice by Nicolas de Stael.
William Allman, the White House curator, told The Washington Post that the Obamas' picks express "probably more interest in truly modern art."
So Winslow Homer, Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko, William Johnson -- seems pretty eclectic. In fact, it seems pretty benign.
Alas, nothing is benign with the contemporary conservative smear machine, as right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin amply illustrates with her attack on Alma Thomas, and -- by extension -- Obama. Taking her cue from Free Republic, Malkin complains:
Alma Thomas's "Watusi" (1963) looks to be an almost exact reproduction of a 1953 piece by Henri Matisse titled "L'Escargot:"
Malkin even provides a helpful illustration -- "side by side, with 'Watusi' rotated and on the left" -- to make clear the similarities in the two works to drive home her point -- that Obama picked art created by a fraud to hang on the White House walls. But the real fun gets underway over at Ann Althouse's blog:
Anyway, it's really sad to see this sentimental stretching to identify African-American artists. There are plenty of real ones, and mistakes like this make it seem as though there are not and that patronizing -- which really ought to be called racism -- is necessary.
So the Obamas chose a fraudulent African-American artist to display at the White House -- "sentimental stretching to identify African-American artists," a "mistake" and "patronizing," since all Alma Thomas did was knock off Matisse. This does sound bad -- and, of course, it's wildly off the mark.
Art historian Ann Gibson discusses the political message inherent in Thomas' "mimicry and revision of Matisse" in her contribution to Alma W. Thomas: A Retrospective of the Paintings:
The close resemblance between Watusi and L'Escargot (especially evident when Thomas's painting is turned ninety degrees to the right) suggests an overlap between Thomas's determination to comprehend the lessons of modernism and her identification -- and perhaps her sense of rivalry -- with one of its principle figures. However, the title Watusi, which refers both to an African people and to a hit tune of the early 1960s (Chubby Checker's record "The Watusi" was released in 1961), suggests that she used elements of Matisse's art not only as models of abstraction but also to refer to African people and their representation in popular culture, just as elements of art made by Africans could reflect, in Western modernism, European desires and European high culture. Thomas's radical revisions of Matisse's colors (but not the values of his collaged shapes) to their near opposite on the color wheel, as well as her opening of the "frame" -- blues in her painting, oranges in his - are also noteworthy. By permitting the white shapes to penetrate the frame, Thomas animates and frees both the white areas and the colored forms: The frame no longer contains the central organization, and the framing shapes join in the "dance" of the shapes inside. When Thomas's mimicry and revision of Matisse is read in the context of her entitling her painting Watusi, one sees more than an implicit defiance of modernism's creed of originality. What does it mean for an ambitious but comparatively unknown artist to appropriate in paint an important recent work by an internationally recognized master? Especially when she changes the title from a word that suggests not only a sluggish mollusk whose movements are drastically curtailed by its shell but also an epicurean dish whose very name connotes elite privilege? And when the title she selects is the name of a people legendary for their height and strength and after whom, during the civil rights struggle, a popular song has been named? With the title Watusi, Thomas sets her critique (and homage) in the context of early-twentieth century borrowing from Africa by such revered modernists as Matisse, visually loosening his frame and conceptually replacing his upper-class European reference with one that connotes both African and popular American culture. The similarity of forms in Thomas's painting and Matisse's collage suggests the interchangeability, and thus the equality, of social, national, and economic values.
Wait. It's almost as if Alma Thomas intended to create a work of art that looked kind of like a Matisse. She even might have had a message in mind. Whoa. But, see, understanding Thomas' civil rights era message is not the point. The point is that Barack Obama did it, therefore it must be bad. You know, like the Olympics and the Nobel Peace Prize.
From an October 9 New York Daily News article:
Mathias Kiwanuka loves his former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but the Giants' defensive end says he will never play for Spagnuolo's Rams if Rush Limbaugh purchases the team.
Kiwanuka and the Jets' Bart Scott made it clear Thursday that they would never play for the Rams or any team owned by the controversial conservative radio host.
"All I know is from the last comment I heard, he said in (President) Obama's America, white kids are getting beat up on the bus while black kids are chanting 'right on,'" Kiwanuka told The Daily News. "I mean, I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of. He can do whatever he wants, it is a free country. But if it goes through, I can tell you where I am not going to play."
"I am not going to draw a conclusion from a person off of one comment, but when it is time after time after time and there's a consistent pattern of disrespect and just a complete misunderstanding of an entire culture that I am a part of, I can't respect him as a man."
Scott says players remember what Limbaugh said, and adds that the NFL would be wise not to allow the nationally syndicated host into the league. "It's an oxymoron that he criticized Donovan McNabb," Scott said. "A lot of us took it as more of a racial-type thing. I can only imagine how his players would feel. I know I wouldn't want to play for him. He's a jerk. He's an
. What he said (about McNabb) was inappropriate and insensitive, totally off-base. He could offer me whatever he wanted, I wouldn't play for him. ... I wouldn't play for Rush Limbaugh. My principles are greater and I can't be bought."
Limbaugh, who grew up in Missouri about 100 miles south of St. Louis, is an avid sports fan who once said that "the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons."
Kiwanuka cringes at the idea of Limbaugh becoming an NFL owner. "They are flat-out racist," Kiwanuka said of many of Limbaugh's statements. "He jumps on Obama and he jumps on other people for being racist. But a lot of the comments that he said, I feel like they have no place in journalism. It is just an opinion show that should be only be taken for shock value. I liken it to 'South Park' when I am listening to him."
"I love Spags and would play for him in a heartbeat, but under that situation ... obviously trades you have no control over, but if it was a free-agent thing, I wouldn't care if I only had one offer on the table, I would rather stay a free agent."