The Washington Post devotes an entire article to a gathering of conservative leaders that hasn't happened yet but that will purportedly unveil a "a manifesto for a growing movement against the political establishment" that organizers bill as "a declaration of conservative values and beliefs."
Here's the closest the Post comes to indicating what the "manifesto" actually says:
"We don't talk about specific issues or parties or the current political situation,'' said Alfred S. Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator magazine. He helped draft the statement as part of the Conservative Action Project, a new group seeking to coordinate the chorus of voices. "It's a philosophical foundation, based on the concept of constitutional conservatism. It's written so most conservatives can say, 'Yeah, this is just what I think.' "
Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, organizers released only an excerpt of the two-page document. It says in part, "The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant. . . . The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles.'' (Ellipsis in original)
Ok ... What does that even mean? Nothing. It's so broad it could be read as the "philosophical foundation" for just about anything. Take this part, for example: "the federal government today ignores the limits of the constitution." What is that, an indication that Al Regnery and his buddies are ready to come out against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, DOMA, and restrictions on reproductive rights? No, I guess it probably isn't. When your "declaration of conservative values and beliefs" is a statement that could just as easily be read as a criticism of conservative policies, that's a pretty good sign that the declaration isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
Nothing in the Post's article constitutes an idea, or even a principle, really -- platitudes aren't principles. It seems that if you're a conservative, you don't need ideas to get a write-up in the Washington Post -- you just need to announce that you're going to announce some ideas. Someday. And they'll be great.
Remember after Andrew Breitbart's protégé James O'Keefe was arrested in New Orleans, and Breitbart confirmed that he paid O'Keefe a "fair salary"? (Even though, Breitbart stressed, he had no advanced knowledge of the New Orleans caper.) Well, now Breitbart has a new spin.
From blogger Brad Friedman [emphasis original]:
During a recent live appearance on the Internet radio show African-American Conservatives (AACONS), Breitbart was asked about his ongoing relationship with James O'Keefe. O'Keefe was recently arrested in Louisiana, along with three others (one the son of the acting U.S. Attorney), for allegedly heading up a scheme to "maliciously interfere" with the telephone system of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
He's "technically not salaried," Breitbart told AACONS host Marie Stroughter during the interview last week, in reply to her question about O'Keefe.
This is getting confusing. Breitbart pays O'Keefe a "salary," although technically it's not really a salary. And even though Breitbart pays O'Keefe some sort of non-salary, Breitbart has no idea what kinds of stories O'Keefe is working on.
Question: Are Breitbart's financial backers at all concerned by his lackadaisical management style?
At least 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 for white people." Here are his February 15 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
No, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm (R-CA) -- a former Bush press secretary -- won't mention Sarah Palin's recent lousy poll numbers. But that isn't to say Malcolm doesn't have anything to say about Palin and polls:
February 14, 2010 | 6:08 pm
In a telephone poll that had nothing to do with conservatives' favorite sweetheart, Sarah Palin, Rasmussen Reports reports that one of the year's more important holidays in terms of domestic politics is dreaded by a substantial minority.
BTW, Palin and husband Todd were apart on Valentine's Day, she working the Daytona 500 NASCAR crowd in Florida, he back in Alaska preparing for the Iron Dog snow-machine race.
-- Andrew Malcolm
So, after spinning Palin's poll numbers to make them look better than they are (to the point of misstating them so badly the Times had to post a correction) and shoe-horning them into blog posts having nothing to do with Palin, Malcolm went silent on the topic of Palin polling once her numbers got too bad for even him to spin. But now he's back with a weird post about a Rasmussen poll about Valentine's Day that has literally nothing to do with Sarah Palin -- and, inexplicably, he puts Palin in the headline and lede, and inserts a line about Palin being apart from her husband on Valentine's Day.
This is getting sad. And maybe a little creepy.
Sometimes, it's like Howard Kurtz doesn't even try to do his job. Check out this passage from the Washington Post media critic's profile of Rachel Maddow:
[S]he rejects the notion that she's explicitly pushing for change: "I think of it more in the tradition of muckraking. A lot of the best reporting since time immemorial has been driven by outrage about things not being the way they should be, by the shock at shameless, lying hypocrisy."
She adds: "For me it's a question of whether you're doing advocacy journalism or not. It's not activism -- you see a lot of that at Fox, using news coverage to inspire political participation."
Asked for comment, a Fox spokesperson says, "These feelings that she experienced about Fox News didn't stop her from applying for a job here."
Wait, what? A Fox spokesperson says Rachel Maddow applied for a job at Fox News? What does that mean? How long ago? What were the circumstances? Howard Kurtz doesn't explain; he just leaves it there. That's more than a little odd, particularly since the claim is meant to impugn Maddow's credibility.
Fortunately, Politico's Michael Calderone finished Kurtz's job for him:
So did Maddow, former Air America host and now a star of MSNBC's liberal prime-time line-up, really apply to work at Fox News?
"I never personally applied for a job at Fox," Maddow tells POLITICO in an email. "I have an agent who I assume talks to everyone on my behalf, so I have no reason to believe that Fox's claim that they were approached on my behalf is false, even if I never knew anything about it at the time."
So ... Yeah. It doesn't exactly sound like Maddow was stopping by Fox HQ twice a week to fill out applications and ask for an interview, does it? Actually, Maddow's version doesn't sound like anything that is typically meant by "applying for a job," which suggests that the Fox flak's statement to Kurt was quite misleading. Good thing -- for Fox, that is -- Kurtz didn't ask for an explanation.
Here's the daily's peculiar headline:
Biden bickers with Cheney across TV airwaves
Well, that doesn't sound good, does it? But according to the daily it was Biden who was bickering. It was the VP, to use the working definition, who "engaged in a petulant and peevish argument" with Cheney.
Really USA Today? That's how you describe what Biden did on the Sunday talk shows? Becuase I'd suggest the far more accurate description is Biden defended the administration from Cheney's latest bout of incessant attacks. It was Biden who responded and fact-checked Cheney.
Oh, and which man had the facts on his side during Biden's bickering? USA Today doesn't inform readers about that. USA Today just transcribes the back-and-forth and then places the onus on Biden for the unsightly bickering.
Newsbuters associate editor Noel Sheppard blows the lid off ... uh ... something:
President Obama's Official Twitterer Connected To MoveOn.org
Sun, 02/14/2010 - 16:06 ET
The woman that poses as Barack Obama on all his social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is connected to the far-left organization MoveOn.org.
See, it seems that Mia Cambronero, a DNC staffer who updates Twitter and Facebook accounts in Barack Obama's name, used to be a fellow at New Organizing Institute, which has ties to Move On. Shocking, isn't it? Sheppard thinks so:
And this is what the person acting as the President's Twitterer used to be affiliated with.
Color me unsurprised not only that this is the case, but that so-called journalists in the mainstream media haven't reported it.
Yeah, I bet Bob Woodward is kicking himself for getting scooped on this one.
Sweetness & Light, the right-wing blog Sheppard cites for this stunning scoop, describes Cambronero as "a NOI Fellow." Apparently that didn't sound damning enough for Sheppard, who embellished it a bit: "Our friends at Sweetness & Light have discovered that she is a senior fellow at the New Organizing Institute." Did Sheppard think that made this incredibly mundane discovering more damning? (It doesn't.) Or did he just misread the blog post? (The Sweetness & Light blog post also insists "Ms. Cambronero's resemblance to Mr. Obama is quite startling," and a previous post snarked "it is quite telling that Mr. Obama hired a girl to sound like him." I have no idea what that hire was supposed to "tell," but this should give you some sense of the kind of people we're dealing with here.)
Another right-wing blog, FireAndreaMitchell.com, then further embellished Sheppard's account in a post titled "Your tax dollars at work - Obama's Official Twitterer is Mia Cambronero who is connected To Soros's MoveOn.org."
Just one problem: Cambronero works for the Democratic National Committee, not the White House. Your tax dollars don't have anything to do with it. (Not that there would be anything wrong with a government employee having a gig working for Move On as a line on her resume.)
Apparently, being a right-wing blogger is easier than reading.
Right-wing blogs -- and now Fox Nation -- have seized on a Daily Mail write-up of a BBC interview with Dr. Phil Jones, who was heading the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia until the political fallout from the infamous hacked emails forced him to temporarily step aside pending an inquiry.
In the interview, Jones was asked, "Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming." He responded (caution: a brief bit of math-speak ahead):
Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.
In other words, Jones is stating he didn't find statistically significant evidence of warming from 1995 to 2009, but that doesn't mean it isn't occurring. Indeed, later in the interview, Jones says that he is "100% confident that the climate has warmed" and that "there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity."
Predictably, the Right chose to focus on only his comments about the period from 1995 to 2009.
The Daily Mail headline set the framework for the American right-wing echo chamber: "Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995."
At its worst -- and most malicious -- here's what the Daily Mail's terrible write-up led to:
In fact, the only thing that was "all a lie" was Gateway Pundit's headline. Jones did not admit "there is no global warming."
Again, Jones said:
I'm 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 - there's evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.
In their attacks on global warming -- and on Jones and the CRU specifically -- the right-wing media have frequently accused scientists of cherry-picking data. This is often because of their ignorance -- in some cases, willful -- of statistics and scientific research methods.
But it doesn't take a scientist to see how the conservative pundits cherry-pick false or misleading statements from poorly written British reports to advance their political agenda.
From Chapter 1 of Peter Robinson's interview with News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch: [emphasis added]
ROBINSON: David Carr, writing in the New York Times. Carr says that Robert Thomson, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, and Gerard Baker, the deputy managing editor, quote, "The two men have had a big impact on the paper's Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone and editing and headlining articles to reflect chronic skepticism of the current administration," closed quote. Fair?
MURDOCH: I don't think it's become conservative, maybe a little more -- a little more balanced. I -- if you read into every story very carefully, it certainly hasn't become conservative. Were there, in the past, a few correspondents there who had a bit of a left-wing tinge or what in the way they covered stories? Yes, probably.
ROBINSON: Can I -- according to the Gallup organization, 20 percent of Americans call themselves liberals. Forty percent call themselves conservative. I think we can accept, given the various polls that have been done through the years, the various newsroom surveys, that overwhelmingly newspapers in this country are dominated by editors and reporters who are liberal. Why shouldn't the Wall Street Journal be quite straightforward about saying we intend to be a newspaper for the rest of Americans, and incidentally that market is twice as large? Or is there a danger in being explicit about it? How do you think that through?
MURDOCH: No, we want to be objective as one can be and as fair as one can be. And we think the rest of the press is monolithically very often unfair. But you forgot to mention the 40 percent of Americans who call themselves independents.
MURDOCH: Now they're the people who don't like either party. They're not about to join the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. This country is, I say, vaguely center right in mood. And if you look at me and a few people, you might say we're a little bit more right than that. But the paper, I don't think is. There's no question that the editorial writers, the opinion writers at the back of the paper of the front section are consistently -- take a pretty conservative attitude. They never endorse candidates, but they look very skeptically at big government and what's going on in Washington.
From Brian Stelter's February 14 New York Times report:
Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.
To viewers, it seems to be an endless televised political campaign, with former, and possibly future, politicians biding their time giving sound-bite versions of stump speeches. (Mr. Huckabee's recap of President Obama's State of the Union: "rudderless confusion." Ms. Palin's perception of Mr. Obama's counterterrorism strategy: "lackadaisical.")
The benefit for the part-time, but highly paid, pundits is clear: it increases their visibility. "It makes sense for candidates to seek out positions in niche cable, because it is a direct pipeline to voters," said Jonathan Wald, a former senior vice president at CNBC and an adjunct professor at Columbia's journalism school. "It's an automatic affinity group."
The benefit to the viewers is less clear. Some experts say the arrangements can cloud the objectivity of the news organizations.
"As long as they are still newsmakers, there is a strong potential for conflict," said Andy Schotz, the chairman of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. At the very least, it can amount to an advantage for the analysts, and create a perception of favoritism.
"It's a little awkward," said David Bohrman, the Washington bureau chief for CNN. The networks that employ the analysts "probably ought to realize that they're being taken advantage of a little bit," because some of the people are "posturing for election advantage," he said.
None of the analysts in CNN's stable are likely to run for office in 2010 or 2012, and the same is generally true for the broadcast networks. But MSNBC until recently had Mr. Ford on the payroll, and Fox News has a veritable bullpen of potential conservative candidates.
When Mr. Kudlow was said to be considering a run for Senate in Connecticut last year, the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters fired off a letter to CNBC demanding clarity about his on- and off-air roles. "As a private citizen, Mr. Kudlow has a right to explore a run for public office, but using his platform as a CNBC host to further his political ambitions jeopardizes the integrity of your network," the letter stated.
Mr. Kudlow soon declared on television that he would not run. Also last year, Chris Matthews chose to stay at MSNBC rather than run for the Senate from Pennsylvania, but not before similar complaints were filed.
"If you're seriously examining a run for office," Mr. Griffin said, "you can't host a show or be a general analyst."