In a February 3 post, NewsBusters' David Lanza wrote that "Reuters should be made to explain why" it withdrew its February 1 article, "Backdoor taxes to hit middle class," claiming that the report was "fair enough." After Media Matters for America's Jocelyn Fong noted that Reuters had already stated that the story was removed because its claims were "wrong," and that the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Tax Foundation had come to the same conclusion, Lanza's post was removed from NewsBusters' site and replaced with:
From a February 3 New York interview with Fox Business Network host John Stossel:
What's hanging above your sofa?
Barney Frank in effigy.
Fox News has repeatedly allowed "Fox contributor" Andrea Tantaros to attack health care reform without disclosing that she is a "Vice President with Sloane and Company where she specializes in crisis communications, healthcare, and public affairs clients."
The firm does not specifically state who Tantaros works with, or what her work entails. Sloane & Company describes itself as "an industry-leading strategic communications firm specializing in corporate and financial public relations" and implements "programs that move beyond ideas into action and generate meaningful results for clients of all sizes." The firm lists Pfizer and Take Care Health Systems clinic as among its clients.
Sloane & Company touts Tantaros' Fox News connections in her corporate biography, stating that she "is a regular political analyst and media commentator on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and guest co-host on Fox News Radio."
As a Fox News contributor, Tantaros regularly discusses health care issues without any disclosure or mention of her self-described work with health care clients.
On the December 21, 2009, broadcast of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Tantaros attacked the Democrats' health care reform bill as "a stinker of a bill" and claimed that the White House has "a gun in the mouths of the U.S. Senate right now." Tantaros was identified as a Fox contributor and "media strategy advisor," but her health care ties were not mentioned.
Tantaros has similarly appeared on shows such as Fox News Watch, The O'Reilly Factor (August 27, 2009) and Fox & Friends (December 21) to discuss health care reform. Her work consulting with health care clients was not disclosed.
Tantaros also writes a column for FoxNews.com, where she regularly bashes health care reform. Tantaros is identified as a "conservative columnist and FoxNews.com contributor," or a former aide to Republicans.
You know the drill: Every now and then Drudge tries his hand at original reporting. Drudge somehow lands a too-good-to-be-true quote from magical insider source, and then the whole story is quickly proven to be bogus.
Here was today's attempt at 'reporting' [emphasis added]:
CBSNEWS anchorwoman and 60 MINUTES contributor Katie Couric faces a dramatic pay cut at the network, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
CBS boss Les Moonves is determined to save money and trim expenses -- from top to bottom -- at the former crown jewel of broadcasting.
Couric, the highest paid TV news personality in history, commands over $14 million a year, plus bumps for non-EVENING NEWS appearances.
But her salary is now in the direct line of fire, network insiders explain, and a populist backlash against Couric's cash is said to be forming inside the newsroom.
"She makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year!" demands a veteran producer. "It's complete insanity."
Except that, y'know, it's not true.
Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, denied reports Wednesday that "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric is facing a salary cut when her contract expires.
I thought we might have moved beyond this point, but, as my colleague Jamison Foser points out, one can never underestimate the Washington Post's propensity for inanity.
One of the stupider campaign '08 narratives originated when then-candidate Barack Obama, making the point that increased produce prices at supermarkets didn't translate to higher prices for growers, asked a group of Iowa farmers if they had been to Whole Foods to "see what they charge for arugula," adding: "I mean, they're charging a lot of money for this stuff." Following the Republicans' lead, media outlets seized on arugula as a symbol of Obama's aloofness and detachment from the common man, who had never heard of this exotic leaf. Absent from the gleeful mockery and concerned hand-wringing over Obama's supposed predilection for the peppery-tasting salad green was the fact that arugula, in addition to being grown and sold in Iowa, is proudly served at appropriately non-elitist eateries like the Olive Garden.
And, of course, the election results proved the "out-of-touch Obama" narrative to be bogus -- exit polling found that 57 percent of voters thought Obama was "in touch with people like you."
But now, well over a year later, the Washington Post is bringing back the "elitist" Obama narrative, and once again propping up arugula as a mascot of the president's alleged aloofness:
But during his campaign for the presidency, Obama bungled some of his early attempts to connect with blue-collar workers, complaining about the price of arugula at Whole Foods and visiting a bowling alley only to roll an embarrassing score of 37. Some political rivals continue to disparage him as an elitist. Even his aides have sometimes worried that his intellect can be mistaken for condescension and that his composure can seem like detachment.
And as Greg Sargent points out, the Post diagnosis of Obama's "disconnected" nature runs contrary to their own polling, which finds that 57 percent of respondents believe Obama "understands the problems of people like you."
Articles like this help to convey just how intractable certain narratives become among Beltway journalists, particularly narratives that impart the dreaded "elitist" label to Democrats, despite their shaky (or nonexistent) factual basis. That's why now, after many years, you still hear DC journalists joking about Al Gore the pedant and Michael Dukakis' Belgian endive. So don't be surprised if in 2024 you hear journalists warning the Democratic presidential nominee that he needs to avoid looking like an elitist like Barack Obama with his arugula.
CNN.com has an article with the helpful-sounding headline "Things you should know about budget." But rather than clearly and directly explaining budget basics to CNN readers, the article drives home the fact that the news media fails badly at informing and educating the public.
Keep in mind: this is not a "political analysis" piece, or an article focused on the reception the budget is getting among lawmakers. The whole purpose of this article is ostensibly to give readers the information they need to assess the budget.
So, how does the article fail? Well, for one thing, it makes no effort to indicate how the $3.8 trillion budget breaks down. What portion of that is devoted to defense, to Medicare, to education, etc? CNN doesn't tell us. Take, for example, the article's treatment of the Defense budget:
To pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama is seeking $33 billion in supplemental funds for this budget year and $159.3 billion for next year's. Funding for military families would increase 3 percent to $8.8 billion. The president would appropriate in advance $50.6 billion for veterans' medical care.
Notice what's missing? That's right -- there's no indication of what total defense spending is.
CNN does, however, point to several drop-in-the-bucket items, such as "End grants to manufacturers of worsted wool. Annual savings: $5 million" and "Terminate Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, aimed at fostering "new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind." Savings in 2010: $1 million."
The cumulative effect should be obvious: Readers are given a warped picture of the relative amount of spending on defense and things like worsted wool grants.
But that's not nearly as bad as CNN's treatment of taxes. Here's CNN's handling of tax-cuts for wage-earners:
Still a little extra in your paycheck
The Making Work Pay tax breaks would be extended for a year. These were part of last year's stimulus and resulted in slightly higher paychecks for 110 million families, the White House said.
Wow. No mention of the extension of the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. That's weird. But that oversight is made worse by what comes a little later:
The president's budget would reduce the nation's debt by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. Obama would let the Bush tax cuts expire for high-income families, impose a "financial crisis responsibility fee" on large banks and end fossil-fuel tax subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies. Discretionary spending that is not defense-related would get a three-year cap, saving $250 billion over the next 10 years. Read more
Well, what does "high-income families" mean? CNN doesn't say -- and that's a big, big problem, because time and time again, studies have shown that more Americans think they are "rich" or "wealthy" or "high-income" than actually are. In other words, a lot of people who read this article will falsely think Obama is letting their tax cuts expire. (The proposal would only affect individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families making more than $250,000 a year -- about 2 percent of American households.)
Maybe you're wondering if CNN made this clear in that "Read more" link. Even if they did, that wouldn't be adequate -- but they didn't. The link takes you to an article that explains:
Let 2001-2003 tax cuts expire for high-income households: The Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire by 2011. As it has promised all along, the Obama administration would like to keep those tax cuts in place for everyone except the highest-income households.
It estimates nearly $700 billion will be raised over 10 years by letting the cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans.
"High-income households" ... "highest-income households" ... "wealthiest Americans": those are all vague and misleading phrases -- but that's all CNN gives us. It's almost like CNN is deliberately obscuring the fact that only people making more than $200,000 and families making $250,000 will be affected.
Taking to his personal blog today, Walsh announced that his employment had "come to an end" because of the controversy surrounding his offensive Tweet (emphasis added):
For almost a decade I had the pleasure of serving as a political reporter and news anchor covering stories in Jefferson City and beyond. But that "assignment" as we call it in the radio business has come to an end.
Truth be told, it didn't come as a surprise as I had been told that a cascade of complaints regarding something I had tweeted on my personal Twitter account had led to some difficult moments for folks at my company. My news director went so far as to tell me, on Friday, that there was a good chance I might have to go. And it came to pass.
Yup, it was a joke. But the left wing blogosphere got hold of it and went nuts. It was an attempt at humor, but clearly I had struck a nerve - causing considerable angst among the folks at Fired Up! Missouri here in the Show-Me State and Media Matters on the national level. I forgot a cardinal rule - never poke fun at someone's religion. My humor led to a backlash from those for whom global warming - or climate change as it is called when the weather turns cold - is a sacred religious belief. The furor has yet to die down.
So, the bottom line here is that I am out of work. It's interesting that I poke fun at the religion of global warming the same week MSNBC's Chris Matthews says of President Obama following the State of the Union Address, "I forgot he was black tonight." And Matthews is still rolling along. Very interesting, indeed!
I want it made clear I hold no animosity toward my former employer and the employees. In fact, I regret having put the company in this position. I will miss the place after almost a decade. But I have made friends, through the job, who will remain friends for a lifetime. Jobs come and go but friends are to be treasured.
National Review editor Rich Lowry claims it was liberals who said President Clinton's first-term approach to economic and budgetary woes wouldn't work:
Obama is not the first president to take office amid a deteriorating budgetary picture. So did Bill Clinton in 1992. He responded by jettisoning the $200 billion "investment" program he promised in the campaign and adopting a deficit-reduction program in its stead. He caterwauled privately about losing his political soul, and his left-wing supporters predicted economic gloom. A decade of rollicking good times ensued.
I can understand why Lowry wants to hug Bill Clinton's economic policies -- they helped slash the deficit and create an economic boom, while conservative presidents have run up massive deficits. But if Lowry wants us to believe that liberals were the ones who opposed Clinton's successful economic policies, maybe he can explain why Clinton's 1993 budget passed without a single Republican vote?
The reason, of course, is that conservatives (wrongly) predicted that Clinton's policies would result in "economic gloom."
Kasich didn't keep his word; he is currently running for governor of Ohio as a Republican.
Of course, Republican members of Congress weren't the only conservatives predicting "economic gloom" as a result of Clinton's stewardship of the economy. It was also conservative media like ... National Review.
On September 18, 1993, National Journal described two prominent conservative magazines' coverage of Clinton's economic policies:
The cover of a package of National Review articles sent free to new subscribers is headlined "Is America Heading for a Clinton Economic Apocalypse?" An illustration features a quartet of hooded horse riders: Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the middle, flanked by Vice President Albert Gore Jr. and budget director Leon E. Panetta. Both the Review and the Spectator preach a free-market gospel of the timeless virtues of low tax rates and minimal bureauracy. Contrary views aren't brooked; the Spectator's September issue set the tone with a "Dead Wrong" editorial by Tyrell that began and ended with the argument that "everything" Clinton believes about the economy "is wrong."
And in August of 1993, William F. Buckley wrote in a column in the Miami Herald:
Economist Stephen Moore brings a different perspective to the question. He writes (in National Review): "In voting on Bill Clinton's economic plan, Democrats must choose whether to torpedo the Clinton presidency or the U.S. economy. It is generally assumed that they will dutifully opt for the latter."
And now, National Review editor Rich Lowry writes -- under the headline "The Budget Poseur" -- that it was the liberals who predicted that Clinton's economic policies wouldn't work.
A major wire story detailing large tax increases on the middle class during an election year would seem to be big news. Yet scarcely an eye was batted when this story disappeared. The administration can ill afford to be seen as raising taxes on the middle class during a recession when the President's Congressional majority is already imperilled. Reuters should be made to explain why this story disappeared.
If The NewsBusters had done a bit of research before they published this sorrowfully wrong blog post, they would have found an explanation (though maybe not the one they're looking for), posted by Reuters yesterday afternoon:
The story "is wrong." Don't believe Reuters? Take it from the American Enterprise Institute, an organization dedicated to "strengthening free enterprise" and described by NewsBusters itself as "conservative." AEI spoke out against "appalling inaccuracies" in the Reuters article, the first of which Lanza repeated in his blog post, calling the claim "fair enough" and "big news." From AEI's post:
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would allow the 10 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent brackets to expire, boosting those rates to 15, 28, and 31 percent, respectively. In reality, the budget would permanently extend the lower rates.
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would raise the dividend tax rate to 39.6 percent. In reality, the budget would raise the rate only to 20 percent.
-The article asserted that the Obama budget would allow taxpayers' option to deduct state and local sales taxes to expire. In reality, the budget would extend that option through 2011.
Or try the Tax Foundation, an anti-tax think tank that NewsBusters has cited as recently as yesterday, which stated that Reuters' characterization of the Bush tax cuts under Obama's budget is "evidence of intentional deceit or terrible reporting," and that "[t]he reporter also seems to not fully understand the alternative minimum tax."
The Media Research Center created NewsBusters "to provide immediate exposure of liberal media bias, insightful analysis, constructive criticism and timely corrections to news media reporting." Far from being timely, insightful and constructive, Lanza's reproduction of Reuters' days-old, retracted false claim that Obama plans to raise all income tax rates and his slow, misguided demand for an "explanation" for the retraction would be as embarrassing as the Reuters article itself ... if anyone expected more from NewsBusters.
One of my favorite parts of James O'Keefe's underwhelming performance on Sean Hannity's show this week (and let's face it, if a conservative activist can't score points on Hannity's program, something's wrong), was when the host gently pressed O'Keefe about the wisdom of trying to infiltrate a U.S. senator's office.
O'Keefe's response was priceless:
Ah, the "people's office." In other words, security, schma-curity. The U.S. federal government, according to O'Keefe's take on things, should apparenlty have an open door policy when it comes to citizens stopping by unannounced for visits. In fact, it should have an open door policy for twentysomething pranksters who dress up as telephone repairmen. Or pizza delivery guys, or whatever.
Listening to O'Keefe try to spin his way out the fact that he enetered a federal building under false pretenses, the activist announced that there should be no restrictions when it comes to offices of senators, because we, the tax payers, pay their salary. As I noted last week, my guess is that sudden right-wing disdain for security woud evaporate if a a bunch of Arab-Americans got dressed up and filmed their undercover visit to the "people's office."
But let's stick with O'Keefe's unique claim that because federeal buildings and offices are the property of tax payers, than that means there should be an open door policy to wandering inside. Well, why stop at hometown offices of senators and Congressmen? I assume O'Keefe now wants all Capitol Hill offices to do away with security, right? And of course, the court houses too. I mean we pay the salaries of our judges. So why can't anybody just stroll right in?
And naturally, that clearly means the White House should tear down the gates around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., rigth? In fact, let's lay off the entire Secret Service staff becuase, let's face it, all they really do is keep "the people" from getting to see the president; from wandering into the Oval Office. Or as O'Keefe would put it, "the people's office."