Last week I noted that it was not out of bounds to tie the birther movement with the town hall mini-mobs; that it was not a "conflation" as Politico and others claimed, as they tried to ding Democrats for bringing the birthers into the town hall story.
And guess what? This week the good folks who attended the town hall forum hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) pretty much proved my point when they roundly booed Specter's rather obvious observation that the President of the United States is "an American."
A Daily Kos diarist contacted the men's clothing chain and last night posted the response he received:
Thank you for contacting Men's Wearhouse and bringing to our attention your concerns with the Glenn Beck program on Fox News. While we support free speech and do not make advertising decisions based on our own personal ideologies, after reviewing his recent incendiary comments we have decided to remove our advertising from his program. We hope that this decision will allow you to continue to patronize Men's Wearhouse. I would encourage you to please share our decision with anyone else who may have expressed a similar concern.
Thank you again for contact Men's Wearhouse.
vp marketing/creative services
... Fantasizing about the Clintons' and their marriage.
Let's start with Dowd's description of Hillary Clinton's response to a question at a town hall in Africa:
Using tough hand gestures not seen since "The Sopranos" went off HBO, Hillary snapped back at an African college student who asked about the growing influence of China on Africa and then, according to the translator, wanted to know: "What does Mr. Clinton think?"
It turned out that the student was trying to ask how President Obama felt about it. But before he was able to clarify, the secretary of state flared: "Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state. I am."
Yeah, the Secretary of State looked just like a gang of murderous thugs. If, that is, you're a delusional columnist bent on portraying her in the worst possible light. Now, did Clinton "snap back" and "flare" before the student was able to clarify? Well, she "paused nearly nine seconds" before responding to the question. When was this clarification Dowd imagines going to come? Nine minutes after the question had been asked?
Speaking of the question, Dowd's paraphrase of it seems more innocuous than it really was. Clinton wasn't simply asked "What does Mr. Clinton think?" She was asked "We have all heard about Chinese contracts in this country, the interferences from the World Bank about this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?"
A little more understandable how someone would have a negative reaction to that wording, isn't it?
Back to Dowd:
[W]e all know Hillary could just as well have made the same comment in Paris. (And looking unhinged about your marriage on an international stage hardly empowers women.) She may have been steamed about Bill celebrating his upcoming 63rd birthday in Las Vegas with his posse. The Times's Adam Nagourney irritated Clinton Inc. when he reported that Bill went to the pricey Craftsteak restaurant at the MGM Grand HoteltMonday night with Hollywood moguls Steve Bing and Haim Saban, and former advisers Terry McAuliffe and Paul Begala, among others.
"Unhinged" is quite clearly a wild exaggeration. And does Maureen Dowd really expect us to believe Hillary Clinton's reaction was a result of being "steamed" that Bill Clinton celebrated his birthday at a "pricey" restaurant? Craftsteak surely is expensive, but I'm pretty sure the Clintons can afford it.
This is pure fantasy.
Wasn't Malkin's infamous, and creepy, 2007 Baltimore drive-by* bad enough? I guess not, because now Malkin's zeroing in on a young Massachusetts school girl. Why? Because she got to ask president Obama a question at a town hall forum. Bad idea! (She was an "in-the-tank questioner.") The girl may as well have painted a bull's eye on her back because Malkin and her online detective pals are takin' that kid down!!
Stay classy, Michelle.
And how much hate mail and how many angry phone calls to the house from wingnuts do you think the little girls' family is now going to receive thanks to Malkin's vilification? And all because the youngster participated in a town hall forum.
Malkin's larger point seemed to be that the Obama town hall wasn't diverse enough, and that too many Obama fans were in attendance. (i.e. It was all staged.) As HotAirPundit complained, "During the Town Hall at the end of Obama's speech nearly everyone gave Obama a standing ovation, on their feet clapping. This is propaganda 101."
Here's the friendly wager: If any reader can find a single example of Malkin or HotAirPundit ever leveling similarly pointed criticism of President Bush's town hall forums during his 2005 push to privatize Social Security -- town hall forums where Democrats were purposefully shut out or were even physically removed on the suspicion that they might disagree with the president -- then I'll send that reader a complimentary Media Matters bumper sticker.
But I'm not concerned about losing the wager because Malkin and HotAirPundit specialize in advertising their hypocrisy.
*I'm not using the "drive-by" phrase metaphorically the way Rush Limbaugh does. I'm using it literally. In 2007, Malkin drove all the way to Baltimore and cruised by the row house of a working class family -- she practically peered in their windows -- in an effort to undermine their public support for a federal insurance program designed to help poor kids.
Last week I sent an email to Sargento asking about their advertising on Fox News' Glenn Beck in light of Beck's comments about Speaker Pelosi. I received this response:
We deeply appreciate your reaching out to us and sharing your comments and concerns about Sargento ads appearing during "The Glenn Beck Show." We sat down with the marketing department to talk about it and I learned that we buy time periods not specific programs. But in any event, they've made the decision to exclude that program from our future ad rotation. Simply stated, Sargento ads won't be airing during that show. Again, thanks for contacting us.
Sargento Consumer Affairs Department
On the August 11th edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto, Cavuto interviewed Edward Naile, who was protesting against the health care reform being discussed by President Obama in a New Hampshire town hall event. Fox's on-screen text simply identified Naile as a "Registered Democrat" and as a "Small Business Owner". Cavuto first introduced him as a "registered Democrat" and later described Naile as having "independent" thinking on the health care issue.
What neither Fox nor Cavuto noted was Naile's history of conservative activism.
In 2000 AP identified Naile as a member of the Coalition, identifying the group as an "advocacy group for limited government and limited taxation".
Naile is listed as the co-host of "New Hampshire Taxpayer Radio", which is affiliated with the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.
More recently Naile wrote a blog entry on NHInsider.com titled "Come And Get Yo Free Healthcare - Sucker".
On November 1, 2008 Naile wrote:
America needs to take a good four-year look at what the Liberal Left has offered up for President, and most of all, what the main stream media has unflinchingly protected and nourished since the decision to sell this communist standard-bearer of the Democrat Party as material qualified to be President of the United States.
That's Neil Cavuto's "independent".
President Obama distances himself from Nancy Pelosi
Boy, that sounds bad for Democrats, right? If it were true, sure. But the article never backs up the claim [emphasis added]:
Ahead of his own town hall Tuesday, President Barack Obama sought to distance himself from charges by Democratic congressional leaders that boisterous health care dissent is "un-American," with his spokesman saying that the protests are a part of American life.
Yet Obama could be in for similar disruptions as he takes the health care road-show to Portsmouth, N.H., where both sides are gearing up for a vigorous session. But his spokesman pushed back against the comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer by saying that Obama is ready for whatever comes Tuesday.
But is that really what happened? In their USA Today opinion column, Pelosi and Hoyer wrote that, "Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades."
And guess what? The White House agreed:
"I think there's actually a pretty long tradition of people shouting at politicians in America. The President thinks that if people want to come and have a spirited debate about health care, a real vigorous conversation about it, that's a part of the American tradition and he encourages that," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said.
"Now, if you just want to come to a town hall so that you can disrupt and so that you can scream over another person, he doesn't think that that's productive. And as a country, we've been able to make progress when people actually talk out what our problems are, not try to shout each other down," Burton said.
I'm pretty sure any fifth grader could figure out what's going on here. But not, apparently, editors at Politico. Obama's spokesman clearly, and with hesitation, condemned forming mini-mobs in order to purposefully disrupt town hall forms. Just like Pelosi condemned it.
So how is that "pushing back" against Pelosi?
The fact that the White House spoke up in favor of having a "spirited debate about health care" doesn't cut it because, of course, Pelosi has never complained about a "spirited debate." (She never claimed that was "un-American.") She denounced mini-mobs and so did the White House.
From an August 11 Huffington Post article:
CNN host Lou Dobbs is expressing some regret for referring to former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean as a "bloodsucking leftist" who could only be stopped if one "put a stake through his heart."
In a statement to the Huffington Post on Tuesday, Dobbs made a quasi-apology, wrapped in a dig at his critics.
"I'm sorry if a Bram Stoker allusion is too literary for some, and for those who could not make what was seemingly an obvious connection, my deepest apologies and I'll gladly withdraw the latter part of my remark," Dobbs said.
It's that time of the year again. Progressives from around the country are gathering this week in Pittsburgh, PA for the annual Netroots Nation conference. Scratching your head? Here's a bit of information about the conference:
Netroots Nation amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate. Through our annual convention and a series of regional salons held throughout the year, we strengthen our community, inspire action and serve as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and ultimately affect change in the public sphere.
The fourth annual gathering of the Netroots (formerly known as the YearlyKos Convention) will be held August 13–16 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Netroots Nation 2009 will include panels led by national and international experts; a progressive film screening series; practical training sessions and workshops; and the most concentrated gathering of progressive bloggers to date.
Visit Our Booth
We'll be there in full force. If you plan on attending be sure to stop by our booth to meet some Media Matters staff and pick up a special Fox News stress ball, "Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Speak For Me" bumper sticker or a limited edition Media Matters 5th anniversary t-shirts.
Join in the Discussion
Media Matters staff will be participating in two great panel discussions at Netroots Nation. We'd love to see you there:
Democracy without Newspapers
Thursday, August 13, 4:30-5:45pm
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Room 304/305
Is the death of newspapers a threat to democracy? Or is the loss of major news outlets actually the best thing that ever happened to the democratic process? From blogging networks to investigative journalism funders, an increase in new models for news seems to bode well for bottom up action and civic engagement. In this panel we will discuss and create new ideas for how participatory online media can invigorate both journalism and the political process.
Moderated By: NYC.is Founder Susannah Vila
Panelists Include: PressThink.org's Jay Rosen, MediaRepublic.org's Persephone Miel, The Nation's Ari Melber, BlackPerspective.net's Yobachi Boswell, Media Matters' Karl Frisch and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Michael A. Fuoco.
Root of Right Wing Media's Hatred of President Obama
Thursday, August 13, 4:30-5:45pm
David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Room 303
The recent spat of right wing spurred disruptions during town halls have featured unhinged anger over issues such as Obama's birth certificate and his plans for health care reform. It is all part of a concerted, coordinated effort to derail the Obama presidency in its first year – the same exact tactic that was used by conservatives to undermine the Clinton Presidency starting in 1993. The media must expose the true motivations, origins, and coordination of the birther and teabagger movements, along with similar extreme right-wing political groups, whose activism has been relentlessly promoted and encouraged by the conservative echo chamber.
Moderated By: Media Matters Action Network's Ari Rabin-Havt
Panelists Include: NDN's Simon Rosenberg, ColorOfChange.org's James Rucker and America's Voice's Paco Fabian.
Follow the Fun (Win Prizes)
Even if you won't be attending you can follow the fun on Twitter. Use the hashtag #NN09 to follow everyone tweeting from Netroots Nation. You can also follow me @KarlFrisch and Media Matters @mmfa for the latest from Pittsburgh and your chance to win special prizers (if you're at the conference)!
Other Fun in Pittsburgh
If you'll be attending and are looking for other great things to do (places to eat) be sure to check out this great PDF.
ColorOfChange.org's James Rucker reports that in response to the group's campaign, GEICO has decided it no longer feels comfortable financing fearmongering paranoia and has pulled its ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program. This makes five advertisers who have distanced themselves from Beck since he declared that President Obama is "a racist" who harbors a "deep-seated hatred for white people."
From ColorofChange.org's press release:
"On Tuesday, August 4, GEICO instructed its ad buying service to redistribute its inventory of rotational spots on FOX-TV to their other network programs, exclusive of the Glenn Beck program," said a spokesperson for GEICO Corporate Communications in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "As of August 4, GEICO no longer runs any paid advertising spots during Mr. Beck's program."
"We applaud GEICO and all of the other companies who have stepped forward to pull their ads from Glenn Beck," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. "Beck's rhetoric is dangerous to the fabric of our democracy, and we are heartened that so many big companies feel the same way. We won't stop here — we're going to continue our fight to see that as many of Beck's advertisers pull their support as possible."
The question is quickly becoming, why do Beck's other advertisers still feel comfortable with his inflammatory, hateful rhetoric?