As Media Matters documented, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 -- The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck -- devoted a combined total last night of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti. By contrast, the content of MSNBC's three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.
Nevertheless, during last night's programming, Fox News repeatedly ran a promotion of their coverage of the earthquake in Haiti where the announcer asserted: "After a devastating earthquake kills thousands and leaves a country stranded, Fox News has the very latest information as events unfold. Stay with Fox News for the latest reports and up to the minute coverage of the horror in Haiti."
From the January 13 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
Here's what National Journal is touting today:
Majority Would Vote Against Obama
And the details [emphasis added]:
A year into his tenure, a majority of Americans would already vote against Pres. Obama if the '12 elections were held today, according to a new survey.
The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll shows 50% say they would probably or definitely vote for someone else. Fully 37% say they would definitely cast a ballot against Obama. Meanwhile, just 39% would vote to re-elect the pres. to a 2nd term, and only 23% say they definitely would do so.
I don't think you have to be a polling scholar to understand how relatively useless a poll featuring a generic match-up for an election that's almost three years off really is, but apparently National Journal thinks that kind of polling question is revealing. (Either that, or National Journal thinks that kind of poll will generate 'buzz.')
Perhaps what would be revealing is if National Journal did a poll and inserted the name "Sarah Palin" into the slot of "someone else." Or "Newt Gingrich." Or "Tim Pawlenty." The point being that elections are between two candidates, not an incumbent vs. "someone else." Unless voters know who the "someone else" is, the results are pretty pointless.
Here's the claim: With the possibility of Republican Scott Brown capturing Massachusetts' open senate seat, Bay State Democrats are conspiring to change or violate existing law by delaying the vote certification. Fox News reporter Molly Line debunked such theories today on Happening Now, reporting that Massachusetts' top election official "has said essentially he needs to follow the law, which would be to allow absentee ballots to come in, that could take about 10 days, and then five days for certification from various cities." Line added that the potential delay is about "following the law, no shenanigans or anything along those lines."
LINE: [Scott Brown is] citing 2007, when Nikki Tsongas, a U.S. congresswoman was elected in a special election, and she was seated within about 48 hours after winning the seat. That election wasn't contested, it wasn't a close election. In this case, that's a stronger possibility, that we could see some close numbers. Now, the secretary of state has said essentially he needs to follow the law, which would be to allow absentee ballots to come in, that could take about 10 days, and then five days for certification from various cities to get the information into the state for final certification for the swearing-in process to begin. So he has said that even though the election is Tuesday, that it can take a little bit longer, two weeks or so, to finally get all the paperwork in order and get this done. But it's basically following the law, no shenanigans or anything along those lines.
While Line was addressing concerns from Brown, she might as well have been talking about Fox News colleague Martha MacCallum. On January 12, the news host claimed that Democrats "are pushing to change the state law now, according to reports, so that [Brown] won't be able to be sworn in if he were to win ... Interesting."
Sounds like a perfect time for MacCallum to follow Fox News' purported "zero tolerance" policy on errors.
For the past two days, Fox News has been aghast that someone affiliated with Senate candidate Martha Coakley's campaign, Michael Meehan, allegedly "shoved" Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack to the ground while McCormack was pursuing Coakley for questions.
It's not entirely clear what happened, but shaky video shows McCormack following Coakley, losing his balance after some contact with Meehan, and falling over a metal gate. There's also a photo of McCormack splayed on the ground, with Meehan leaning over to help him up. Meehan issued an apology for the incident, saying he was "a little too aggressive in the confusion of trying to help the Attorney General get to her car," but that he "clearly did not intend to cause John McCormack to trip and fall over that low fence."
No matter. McCormack has since been on at least three Fox News shows -- Your World, Hannity, and Fox & Friends -- to talk about the incident, and a Fox Nation headline -- in all its "fair and balanced" glory -- declared, "Coakley Thug Roughs Up Reporter."
That's three shows McCormack has been invited on to sniff about how he was "roughed up" and "knocked to the ground," even though he admitted on Your World that he thinks Meehan "didn't intend to knock me into a fence and for me to go down."
But you know who else is famous for shoving someone during a campaign event? Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.
In January 2008, O'Reilly and a camera crew went to one of then-Sen. Barack Obama's campaign events to get video and a comment from Obama; at the time, O'Reilly was relentlessly goading Obama to appear on his program. At some point, one of Obama's campaign staffers, Marvin Nicholson, appeared to stand in the way of O'Reilly's "shot." O'Reilly repeatedly told Nicholson to "stop blocking the shot," but when he wouldn't move, O'Reilly reached out and literally pushed and shoved Nicholson. Don't believe it? There's video.
The shove wasn't hard enough to knock Nicholson over, but it was a shove nonetheless. And you better believe no one at Fox News made a big deal the next day about how O'Reilly, the Fox News "thug," "roughed up" an Obama staffer. No one except O'Reilly, that is. He talked about how Nicholson "did it on purpose" and is quoted as saying, "We're sorry we had to have that little confrontation, but no one on this earth is going to block a shot on 'The O'Reilly Factor.' It is not going to happen."
Luckily, there's been nary a word from him so far about the Meehan-McCormack incident. But maybe he should inform his colleagues that things like this can happen, especially when reporters are pursuing a candidate, and that they shouldn't spend all day quacking about it. You know, especially when there are large-scale humanitarian disasters going on.
As the full scope of the devastation in Haiti was just beginning to be understood Wednesday, MSNBC and CNN devoted extensive coverage to the crisis, including during their primetime coverage. Fox News did cover the aftermath of the earthquake in its dayside programming, but the Three Musketeers -- Beck, O'Reilly and Hannity -- couldn't be bothered.
Beck devoted his entire show to an interview with Sarah Palin. He didn't mention Haiti once but instead chose to read her his diary. To be fair, Beck's interview may have been taped prior to the Haiti crisis, but he certainly wasn't obligated to air it Wednesday. It's not as if Fox News viewers won't hear her views now that she's a Fox News contributor.
On his show Hannity did mention Haiti in the first two minutes and offered this segue:
We're going to continue to update you as new details become available on the very tragic situation that is unfolding in Haiti tonight. Now, meanwhile all eyes are on the Senate race in Massachusetts.
No, actually, most eyes are on the Haiti tragedy.
But Hannity felt it more important to break down a reporter getting shoved on the streets of Washington, D.C.
Tens of thousands are dead in Haiti with some victims still clinging to life under toppled buildings, and Hannity devoted the first segment of his show to a political reporter getting pushed down on the sidewalk (and helped back up).
He should be embarrassed.
But how did the top-rated prime-time news program address the crisis?
O'Reilly mentioned Haiti in his "Talking Points Memo" -- "Haiti, Liberalism, and America" -- arguing that the U.S. will do more than any country to aid the people of Haiti but that much of that aid will be stolen. But then it was on to business as usual -- attacking President Obama. O'Reilly discussed polls on Obama's approval with Dana Perino - obviously much needed political analysis in a time of great tragedy.
O'Reilly used his second segment to attack Jon Stewart because he had made fun of O'Reilly and his Factor guests for their discussion of Obama's reaction to the underwear bomber. Attacking the media (and anyone who makes fun of him) is O'Reilly's shtick -- it's easy. O'Reilly even brought on a political analyst to break down the comments a comedian made on a comedy show -- rather than, say, a political analyst to explain how and whether Haiti's government would respond to the crisis.
The third segment brought another attack on the Obama administration (and the Clinton administration) - this time from former CIA agent Michael Scheurer, who once said, "The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States." Scheurer spent most of the interview again trashing Obama's counterterrorism chief, John Brennan. Here's a suggestion -- how about a segment on the implications of the crisis in Haiti to the national security of the U.S., as well as to the Dominican Republic and other nations.
It was during the fourth segment that O'Reilly's obtuseness was on full display. While many Americans clamored for more information on the crisis in Haiti (with some even turning to such coverage because of loved ones back in Haiti), O'Reilly brought on actress Bo Derek to discuss Japanese whaling and the possible roundup of wild horses in Nevada. How about just directing viewers to Whale Wars and instead discussing the impact of the earthquake on Haiti's natural resources?
One might think that bringing on comedian Dennis Miller to crack jokes while survivors of the earthquake were still trapped under rubble might be just a little insensitive. Not O'Reilly. Sarah Palin, Harry Reid and Leno/Conan were far more important topics of discussion Wednesday night. Miller might have provided insight on how comedians consider humor in times of great tragedy - but then again, Miler hasn't been funny since the "Off-White Album."
O'Reilly then discussed an attack ad produced by Liz Cheney's Keep America Safe. After airing the ad in full, O'Reilly said:
Very slick. That was one of the slickest pieces of propaganda - and I say propaganda because it is. It's designed to make President Obama look bad by a group that opposes the president.
Well, good thing he devoted prime-time coverage to it rather than anything else related to Haiti.
It should come as no surprise that more Leno/Conan, more Palin and Tiger Woods were the subjects of the rest of O'Reilly's show. Visitors to PerezHilton.com on Wednesday would have learned more about the crisis than from watching O'Reilly's top-rated prime-time Fox News show.
That's not a joke.
O'Reilly and his fellow Fox News cohorts should be ashamed of themselves.
Tuesday, Sarah Palin made her Fox News debut, where she, as Simon Maloy has pointed out, basically got paid by Fox News to give an infomercial about herself. The Fox News community has expressed nothing but glee over Palin's appearance, with Fox Nation going so far as to declare that Palin was "on Fire in Fox News Debut." Fox & Friends spent a good chunk of their show yesterday discussing Palin's appearance and her "common sense conservatism," but there was one part of Palin's interview that really struck a chord with them -- when she declared that the negative stories about her in the recently released book on the 2008 elections, Game Change, were "a bunch of B.S."
During the interview, Bill O'Reilly gave Palin the opportunity to respond to several anecdotes in the book, including that she didn't "know the difference between North and South Korea"; that she "thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11"; and that she "didn't know why" her son was being deployed to Iraq. Palin dismissed most of these claims as "crap"; "lie[s]," and "B.S." (except for Saddam's ties to 9/11--she had "questions" about that). Palin said "these reporters were not there, adding, "I don't think I've -- that I've ever met these guys. They didn't interview me for the book."
Palin's declaration seemed to blow the Fox & Friends crew's minds, and they immediately took up Palin's cause. Gretchen Carlson said of Palin's self-defense: "It's a really interesting point, actually, that the reporters were not there. So they're depending on people allegedly who were there to give them the story. How do they know they're telling the truth?"
Apparently it had not previously occurred to Carlson that the book's sources could be less than reliable. Prior to Palin's remarks, Fox & Friends had spent a considerable amount of time breathlessly reporting on numerous thinly sourced rumors that appear in Game Change with nary a hint of skepticism ...so long as the rumors related to Democratic politicians, of course.
For instance, on Monday, Steve Doocy reported that the book's authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilmann, "have gotten all of the juicy stuff from behind the scenes during the run for the presidency" and described as a "fact" that "candidate Obama's own political team, some staff members would refer to the candidate as the black Jesus." Brian Kilmeade went on to report that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign staff "lost confidence" in her after her "bizarre reaction to her loss in Iowa," adding that Clinton thought that Obama's past drug use "should have been in play. And Bill Clinton, her own staff did a background check to find out about rumors about him having relationships with other women and they found one, a long-term one in 2006 and they set up in there their own war room on just Bill Clinton." Can't you hear the skepticism in their reporting?
Or how about yesterday, when, in its first news segment of the show, Kilmeade declared: "No one is looking at this book and saying, 'You lie.' You're looking at this book and saying 'I can't believe everybody knows this story.'" For her part, Carlson said of the book's reporting on the Clinton campaign: "[S]ome are saying...because one of the leading sources in this book was somebody directly on the inside of Hillary's campaign, so there really is no disputing the facts. Although that hasn't really stopped anyone before from disputing the facts." Yesterday Fox & Friends reported with hardly a whiff of disbelief that former President Bill Clinton accused Sen. Ted Kennedy of only "endorsing" Obama "because he's black"; that Bill Clinton said "a few years ago" Obama "would have been getting us coffee"; that when Obama was Senator he was of the opinion that Biden was "absolutely the most condescending U.S. Senator towards him"; that Bill Clinton was alleged to have been engaged in an extramarital affair; that Hillary Clinton wanted to push stories that Obama was a drug dealer; and that in the book, the Edwards family was "laid bare," by "eye-open[ing]" revelations.
I'd be inclined to give the Fox & Friends team the benefit of the doubt that they never thought to question the validity of the claims made in Game Change before their idol Palin complained about it, if they had immediately stopped treating the book's stories as fact. Sadly, that was not the case. After Carlson questioned "how" one could know if Heilmann and Halperin's sources were true because the "reporters were not there," Fox & Friends later reported on the book's description of Elizabeth Edwards as "a crazy woman" without a question as to the accuracy of the book's anecdotes. The on-screen text during that segment was, "A Marriage in Turmoil? Book Paints Negative Picture of Edwards." Clearly, they must believe that as long as the story isn't a negative one about Palin, then it must be true.
Take a look at Fox & Friends selective skepticism of Game Change's reporting:
That should put to rest any doubts that right-wing media figures own the conservative movement and by extension the Republican Party.
Politico's Michael Calderone reported yesterday that Beck said of his selection, "CPAC is my kind of people." An astute observation to be sure given the wing-nuttery on display at CPAC gatherings in years past:
What is unclear however is where Beck came up with the following notion: "CPAC is, I think they're as angry at the Republicans as I am."
If that is true, someone really needs to tell CPAC. Here is just a sampling of the GOP big-wigs past and present invited to speak at this year's conference (from the conference website):
Former Republican Senator and Bush-era Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Bush-era Ambassador John Bolton, Republican Senator John Barrasso, Republican Senator Tom Coburn, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, Republican Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty, Republican Governor Rick Perry, former Republican Governor Mitt Romney, Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum.
Some may have expected newly minted Fox News contributor and half-term former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to take the role as keynote rather than Beck. Well, apparently CPAC doesn't pay its speakers unlike the National Tea Party Convention.
One day after a major earthquake in Haiti, Pat Robertson used his platform on The 700 Club to state that Haitians had "swor[n] a pact to the devil" to get "free from the French" and that "ever since, they have been cursed." Robertson continued:
ROBERTSON: Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come. But right now, we're helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.
Robertson's comments followed a pattern in which he has assigned blame for tragedies and disasters.
Despite condemnation of his most recent outrageous remarks, Robertson chose not to address his comments about Haitians' "pact to the devil" on today's 700 Club, though he did say that "the hearts of many of us are grieved" by the earthquake there and that it is "a tragedy of major proportions."
A January 14 tweet by conservative radio host G. Gordon Liddy:
Way back on September 30, 2008, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asked then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a simple question: "[W]hat newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?" Palin flubbed the answer, proclaiming that she read "all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years," and declined to name even one before suggesting that Couric, in asking that question, was somehow belittling Alaska as "a foreign country."
The response from the right was nearly uniform -- defend Palin's awkward answer by attacking Couric's questioning.
On The Corner, National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez wrote: "Obviously the governor of Alaska reads. And what it looked liked to me is the governor of Alaska decided she wasn't going to play along with Couric. Whatever she answered would be scrutinized for the next 24 hours for what she included and left off. So instead she let Katie badger her a little."
NewsBuster Brent Baker offered an even more strident assault on Couric (emphasis in original): "Couric declared a McCain-Palin policy position 'misleading,' deliberately highlighted a policy disagreement between the two (drilling in ANWR), condescendingly demanded that Palin list the names of newspapers she read in Alaska and then treated Palin's conservative views as alien and thus in need of explanation."
The defense never made a whole lot of sense, but now, after Palin's sit-down last night with Glenn Beck, it completely falls apart. If Palin's flub of the newspaper answer was the fault of an overly aggressive interrogator who "condescendingly" "badgered" the poor, beleaguered candidate, then how would they explain this from last night's interview?
BECK: Who's your favorite founder?
PALIN: Um... you know... well, all of them, because they came collectively together with so much--
BECK: Bull crap. Who's your favorite founder?
PALIN: --diverse. So much diverse opin--So much diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union.
Consider the scenario -- Palin had everything going for her. She had none of the pressures of a presidential campaign (or elected office, for that matter) bearing down on her. She was facing an accommodating (one might say creepily sycophantic) interviewer who had created a finely woven cocoon of crazy in which she would feel perfectly comfortable. The question Beck asked was better suited for a third-grade civics class than a nationally televised interview on a cable news channel.
And yet, Palin flubbed it. She flubbed it in the exact same way as Couric's newspaper question. The only difference was that this time she got paid to look like a fool.