Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz on Monday:
We have two other news stories in today's Post about the substance of what the president said. My job is to be the media critic.
That second sentence is noteworthy because Kurtz often seems to forget this. That morning's column, for example, was more an assessment of Barack Obama than of the media. Today's runs nearly 1,400 words, but if you want to find any media criticism in it, you better bring a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers. One section, for example, consists of nothing other than Kurtz printing two paragraphs of Glenn Beck's attacks on Mark Lloyd. Another is all about political peril for Democrats. Another is devoted to reprinting excerpts of other reporters' excerpts of Taylor Branch's transcripts of conversations with Bill Clinton.
Anyway, in playing amateur political pundit rather than professional media critic, Kurtz has been pushing the "Obama is overexposed" theme hard. So I was curious to see if he'd mention the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that found only 34 percent of Americans feel that they "see and hear President Obama too much," while 54 percent say they see and hear him the right amount, and 9 percent would like more. Kurtz does mention it, but only in passing -- and doesn't mention that the poll undermines his own arguments that Obama is "overexposed."
I guess that's the kind of thing a media critic would do.
From Ben Shapiro's September 23 column:
Carter was a racist back in his day. Upon his return to Georgia after serving in the Navy, Carter joined the Sumter County School Board, where he supported segregation. He called his segregationist Lt. Gov. Lester Maddox "the essence of the Democratic Party." When Carter campaigned for governor, he labeled himself a "redneck" -- surely a code word in early 1970s Georgia. Obama, too, is a racist -- his spiritual mentor was Jeremiah "United States of KKKA" Wright, he surrounds himself with folks like Van "White People Pollute Black Communities" Jones, and he is married to Michelle "I've Never Been Proud of My Country" Obama.
Previously: Beck: Obama "is, I believe, a racist"
Here's how Time's Amy Sullivan opens a Swampland post:
I don't want to write about John Edwards.
Yes, she does. Here's how I know Sullivan wants to write about John Edwards: I'm reading a blog post she wrote about John Edwards.
And yet here we are, nearly two years after the National Enquirer first reported he had an affair with a then-unnamed campaign staffer, and Edwards is still managing to keep his private screw-up in the headlines. According to the latest reports, the former Democratic politician is maybe, kinda, sorta considering publicly admitting that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's young daughter.
John Edwards isn't keeping his screw-up in the headlines. Politicians don't write headlines. Journalists write headlines. Now, you can certainly argue that speculation that a former Democratic party Vice Presidential nominee is "maybe, kinda, sorta" considering admitting paternity is newsworthy. But Sullivan doesn't want to do that. She wants to write about John Edwards and pretend that it isn't her choice; that John Edwards is forcing her to by ... Well, by not doing much of anything at the moment.
Bull. Sullivan chose to write about Edwards.
Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, Monday:
Howard Kurtz: The Washington Times is far more balanced since John Solomon took over last year. (Solomon came from The Post, as did its new White House correspondent, Matthew Mosk, and a top editor, Jeff Birnbaum.) In its previous two decades, the Times front-page often resembled a right-wing bulletin board, and its previous editor told me he regarded it as a conservative newspaper.
The Washington Times, today:
The Washington Times has launched TheConservatives.com, a Web site with technology that allows activists to talk up to ideological and party leaders and interact in innovative ways.
TheConservatives.com - a joint online media venture from The Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation - is a tool to "reinvent the right" and help move the public discourse.
"TheConservatives.com creates a cutting-edge new marriage between the social publishing world of bloggers and the social networking world of Twitter, YouTube and the like," said John Solomon, executive editor and vice president for content of The Times. "Most opinion sites today enable thought-leaders to talk down to the masses, but TheConservatives.com empowers users to change the direction of that dialogue, allowing the Joe the Plumbers of the world to speak up to major thinkers, like Newt Gingrich."
UPDATE: I should have included this, from the Washington Times article: "Mr. Solomon said similar Web sites that would appeal to progressive and moderate online readers are being considered."
Oh, they're being "considered"? That's just super.
If I was trying overcome my newspaper's well-established history of acting as little more than a mouthpiece for the conservative movement, I probably wouldn't start by launching a web site called TheConservatives.com and promising that later, some day, if there's time, we'll think about adding a site for progressives.
And please, don't hold your breath waiting for the Times to start a liberal one, not matter what the editor says.
Indeed, it's always fun to watch the WashTimes, proud GOP Noise Machine player, pretend it's not really in the club. It's always good for a laugh when the newspaper goes all-in on on purely partisan enterprises, and then take a tiny step back and announces it's really just a middle-of-the-road news org.
The schizophrenic, Who-us? shtick plays out in today's newspaper:
The Washington Times has launched TheConservatives.com, a Web site with technology that allows activists to talk up to ideological and party leaders and interact in innovative ways. TheConservatives.com - a joint online media venture from The Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation - is a tool to "reinvent the right" and help move the public discourse.
And, wait for it...
[Executive editor John] Solomon said similar Web sites that would appeal to progressive and moderate online readers are being considered.
Just give the WashTimes a few more weeks and they'll launch its new hub of the progressive movement, TheLiberals.com. And no doubt it will be a joint venture with Center for American Progress, right? It will be the awesome-est tool ever to reinvent the left, right?
Well, actually that kind of site is merely being considered, if you want to get technical about it. But no doubt the Rev. Moon, the self-proclaimed sun of God and WashTimes owner, wants badly to become a major player in the progressive world.
From a September 22 post on the Village Voice blog Runnin' Scared:
James O'Keefe, the activist filmmaker who achieved sudden fame for a series of undercover videos recording ACORN workers, has repeatedly said that he is "absolutely independent" and received no outside funding to make his films.
But the Voice has learned that O'Keefe, in fact, has had heavyweight conservative backers who funded the young filmmaker as recently as a few months before his ACORN films were made.
The ACORN videos are actually just the latest of several films O'Keefe has produced and uploaded to YouTube. An earlier film posted in February, "Taxpayers Clearing House" featured nonwhite, working class people being duped by O'Keefe, who led them to believe they had won money in a sweepstakes.
That video was produced with the help of a grant -- said to be about $30,000 [Thiel's spokesman says closer to $10,000 -- see update] -- from Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook -- an investment which made him a billionaire.
Here are tonight's Beck advertisers:
Salon.com's Alexander Zaitchik has been doing yeoman's work of late, digging deep into the oftentimes disturbing past of the new face and voice of the angry right, Fox News' Glenn Beck.
Last week, Zaitchik reintroduced us to W. Cleon Skousen, the discredited far-right activist and New World Order conspiracy theorist who argued that the Constitution was a divinely inspired document and that Dwight Eisenhower was a cog in the communist infiltration machine. Skousen's writings, as Zaitchik demonstrates, form the basis of Beck's worldview, and Beck hawks Skousen literature as part of his 9-12 Project. One can be sure that if Skousen were on the other side of the political spectrum and linked to President Obama in even the most trivial way, he'd feature prominently in Beck's conspiracy charts.
This week, Zaitchik is releasing a three-part investigation into Beck's early years as a radio personality and his troubled personal life. In part two, Zaitchik retells how Beck comported himself while trying to put his stamp on the radio business. These vignettes from his brief tenure in Louisville, Kentucky, are telling:
With Dries across the console, Beck directed a rotating ensemble cast and wrote or co-wrote daily gags and skits. Among the show's regular characters was Beck's zoo alter ego, Clydie Clyde. But Clyde was just one of Beck's unseen radio ventriloquist dolls. "He was amazing to watch when he was doing his cast of voices," remembers Kathi Lincoln, Beck's former newsreader. "Sometimes he'd prerecord different voices and talk back to the tape, or turn his head side to side while speaking them live on the air. He used to do a funny 'black guy' character, really over-the-top."
"Black guy" impersonations were just one sign of the young Beck's racial hang-ups. Among the few recordings of "Captain Beck and the A-Team" archived online is a show from February 1986 in which Beck discusses that night's prime-time television schedule. When the subject turns to Peter Strauss, an actor known for starring in television's first miniseries, Beck wryly observes, "They say without [Strauss' early work] the miniseries 'Roots' would never have happened." Clydie Clyde then chimes in with an exaggerated and ironic, "Oh, darn." The throwaway dig at "Roots," which chronicled the life of a slave family, wins knowing chuckles from Beck's co-hosts.
Beck's real broadcasting innovation during his stay in Kentucky came in the realm of vicious personal assaults on fellow radio hosts. A frequent target of Beck's in Louisville was Liz Curtis, obese host of an afternoon advice show on WHAS, a local AM news-talk station. It was no secret in Louisville that Curtis, whom Beck had never met and with whom he did not compete for ratings, was overweight. And Beck never let anyone forget it. For two years, he used "the big blonde" as fodder for drive-time fat jokes, often employing Godzilla sound effects to simulate Curtis walking across the city or crushing a rocking chair. Days before Curtis' marriage, Beck penned a skit featuring a stolen menu card for the wedding reception. "The caterer says that instead of throwing rice after the ceremony, they are going to throw hot, buttered popcorn," explains Beck's fictional spy.
Despite the constant goading, Curtis never responded. But being ignored only seemed to fuel Beck's hunger for a response. As his attacks escalated and grew more unhinged, a WHAS colleague of Curtis' named Terry Meiners decided to intervene. He appeared one morning unannounced at Beck's small office, which was filled with plaques, letters and news clippings -- "a shrine to all that is Glenn Beck," remembers Meiners. He told Beck to lay off Curtis, suggesting he instead attack a morning DJ like himself, who could return fire. "Beck told me, 'Sorry, all's fair in love and war,'" remembers Meiners. "He continued with the fat jokes, which were exceedingly cruel, pointless, and aimed at one of the nicest people in radio. Glenn Beck was over-the-top childish from Day One, a punk who tried to make a name for himself by being disruptive and vengeful."
Zaitchik goes on to explain how Beck took this same act from Louisville to Phoenix:
The animosity between Beck and Kelly continued to deepen. When Beck and Hattrick produced a local version of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" for Halloween -- a recurring motif in Beck's life and career -- Kelly told a local reporter that the bit was a stupid rip-off of a syndicated gag. The slight outraged Beck, who got his revenge with what may rank as one of the cruelest bits in the history of morning radio. "A couple days after Kelly's wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck called her live on the air and says, 'We hear you had a miscarriage,' " remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer. "When Terry said, 'Yes,' Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly] apparently can't do anything right -- about he can't even have a baby."
"It was low class," says Miller, now president of Open Stream Broadcasting. "There are certain places you just don't go."
"Beck turned Y95 into a guerrilla station," says Kelly. "It was an example of the zoo thing getting out of control. It became just about pissing people off, part of the culture shift that gave us 'Jackass.'" Among those who were appalled by Beck's prank call was Beck's own wife, Claire, who had been friends with Kelly's wife since the two worked together at WPGC.
Writing about the recently leaked memo from General Stanley McChrystal about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal wrote this under the headline "McChrystal to resign if not given resources for Afghanistan":
According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn't given sufficient resources (read "troops") to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan [emphasis mine]
Three officers at the Pentagon and in Kabul told McClatchy that the McChrystal they know would resign before he'd stand behind a faltering policy that he thought would endanger his forces or the strategy [emphasis mine].
Which, as clear as day, is mighty different from the story Roggio published. As usual, this apparently did not stop conservative bloggers from doing the hard work of clicking the link to see the story for themselves. They took Roggio's misrepresentation as gospel.
Today, America's Voice is launching a campaign to keep the pressure on CNN over their ongoing Lou Dobbs problem. They are going to air a new advertisement during Lou Dobbs Tonight calling out CNN for giving Dobbs 260 hours a year to broadcast his fact-free hate speech.
Watch the ad:
Read more about their campaign here.
Recently, Media Matters launched a campaign with America's Voice, NDN and several other prominent progressive groups pressuring advertisers to stop sponsoring Dobbs' hate speech. Read more at DropDobbs.com.