At the end of her forthcoming book, Going Rogue, Sarah Palin thanks, by name, the "bold and patriotic, fair and balanced media folks" who "mak[e] the idiots' heads spin":
To some media professionals whom I admire because you don't let anyone tell you to sit down and shut up, please keep making the idiots' heads spin. Thanks for not taking our Freedom of the Press for granted, you bold and patriotic, fair and balanced media folks. Keep calling it like you see it: Amanda, Andrew, Ann, Bill(s), Bob, Cal, Dennis, Dick, Eddie, Fred, Glenn, Greta, Hugh, Joey, John, Jonah, Larry, Laura, Lou, Mark, Mary, Michael, Michelle, R.A.M., Rich, Rush, S.E., Sean, Tammy, Walter ... and there are more. I join you in standing up for what is right. Remember that as your voice is heard and your spine is stiffened, the spines of others are stiffened, too. (Going Rogue, Page 413)
So who are all these people? Well, we can think of a Bill, Glenn, Greta and Sean whom Palin may have reason to thank. Oddly, Bill, Dick, Fred, Laura, Michelle, Rich, S.E., and Tammy are also names that sound familiar to those of us who like our cable news "fair and balanced."
The latest example is the fact that right-wing bloggers are mocking an AP story which fact-checked Sarah Palin's new book. Why the mockery? Because the AP item was compiled by 11 staffers.
Mark Steyn at NRO claims the AP's use of resources is a perfect example why "American newspapers are dying."
Wow. That's ten "AP writers" plus Calvin Woodward, the AP writer whose twinkling pen honed the above contributions into the turgid sludge of the actual report. That's 11 writers for a 695-word report. What on? Obamacare? The Iranian nuke program? The upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
No, the Associated Press assigned 11 writers to "fact-check" Sarah Palin's new book, and in return the 11 fact-checkers triumphantly unearthed six errors. That's 1.8333333 writers for each error. What earth-shattering misstatements did they uncover for this impressive investment? Stand well back:
Steyn either doesn't understand how newsrooms work or he's playing dumb. (I'm going with the former.)
Why did the AP uses so many writers to fact-check Palin's book? Simple, Going Rogue hasn't been officially released yet and advance copies of the book were not sent out to journalists, which means reporters weren't able to fact-check it ahead of time. And now that the book has (sadly) become a big news item, the AP wanted, as quickly as possible, try to fact-check the book. What's the best way to do that? You basically assign one chapter to each reporter and have them go to work. Then, in a very short amount of time, you're able to fact-check the entire book, rather than asking one person to take on that large task.
But Steyn, apparently unaware of how newsrooms work, is astonished that the AP would use so many writers on the Palin article.
Also telling is the fact that Steyn mocks the AP for only finding six errors, or "1.833333" per-writer. That's an interesting twist on logic. Is Steyn suggesting the AP should have known before reading the book how many errors it would find? Is conservative Steyn amazed the AP didn't find more errors in the Palin book? And if so, what does that say about Palin's standing?
The AP didn't assign 11 people to speed read and fact-check Palin's book because it thought it would find four dozen errors, or because it thought it would find just three errors. The AP assigned a team to speed read and fact-check Palin's book not knowing how many errors it would find, but wanted to find out the answer. i.e. It wanted to undertake a journalistic endeavor.
Is that so hard for Steyn to figure out?
Continuing his obsession with documenting how supposedly weak Obama's polling numbers are, the GOP's favorite 'independent' pollster Scott Rasmussen teams up with colleague Douglas Schoen in the WSJ today to (surprise!) try to detail how weak Obama's polling numbers are. And yes, this is the same duo that teamed up in the winter in the pages of the WSJ to...try to detail how weak Obama's polling numbers were. (See a pattern? And did these two ever weigh in as Bush's polling numbers cratered?)
The angle today is that Obama's losing independent voters!! And yes, to prove that point Rasmussen uses the rather lame trick of comparing Obama's current numbers with the ones he enjoyed eight months ago at the time of Inauguration. (See here, for why that is such a transparently lame argument to make. Hint: Obama's numbers in January were artificially high and everybody knew that.)
Meanwhile, the big problem with the column is that much of it is built around Rasmussen's own polling data; data which few people besides GOP partisans take seriously. (Here's a prime example why.) Secondly, Rasmussen, so busy pointing to a blizzard of numbers that supposed illustrate how Obama's presidency is crashing, barely has time to acknowledge that, oh yeah, the president's job approval ratings remains steady and strong, which of course, undercuts the at-times doomsday rhetoric used in the column.
Here's how Rasmussen addresses that issue:
Mr. Obama's approval among likely voters has dropped to the low-50s in most polls, and the most recent Rasmussen Reports poll of likely voters shows him slightly below the 50% mark. This is a relatively low rating for new presidents. Mr. Obama's approval rating began to slide in a serious way in early July, triggered by a bad unemployment report.
Again, you can pretty much throw out the Rasmussen numbers in terms of Obama's job approval since they're trending nearly ten points lower than many other pollsters' data. In truth, Obama at this point in his presidency is just about where Ronald Reagan was eight months into his first term. And yes, Reagan is often pointed to by pundits as being one of the most successful presidents of the last half-century. But Rasmussen ignores that point, and instead claims Obama's job approval ratings are "relatively low."
That's nonsense. Maybe if 'independent' pollster Rasmussen wasn't so obsessed with trying to talk down Obama's poll numbers he'd acknowledge that simple truth.
UPDATED: Since when do serious, 'independent' pollsters write columns urging the president to "shift right"?
Eighty 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 of white people." Here are his November 13 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From the Associated Press' November 13 fact-check of Sarah Palin's memoir Going Rogue: An American Experience:
Sarah Palin's new book reprises familiar claims from the 2008 presidential campaign that haven't become any truer over time. Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer's dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.
Palin goes adrift, at times, on more contemporary issues, too. She criticizes President Barack Obama for pushing through a bailout package that actually was achieved by his Republican predecessor George W. Bush - a package she seemed to support at the time.
A look at some of her statements in "Going Rogue," obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Tuesday:
PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking "only" for reasonably priced rooms and not "often" going for the "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels.
THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City's Central Park for a five-hour women's leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children's travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.
PALIN: Rails against taxpayer-financed bailouts, which she attributes to Obama. She recounts telling daughter Bristol that to succeed in business, "you'll have to be brave enough to fail."
THE FACTS: Palin is blurring the lines between Obama's stimulus plan - a $787 billion package of tax cuts, state aid, social programs and government contracts - and the federal bailout that Republican presidential candidate John McCain voted for and President George W. Bush signed.
Palin's views on bailouts appeared to evolve as McCain's vice presidential running mate. In September 2008, she said "taxpayers cannot be looked to as the bailout, as the solution, to the problems on Wall Street." A week later, she said "ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."
During the vice presidential debate in October, Palin praised McCain for being "instrumental in bringing folks together" to pass the $700 billion bailout. After that, she said "it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in."
PALIN: Says Ronald Reagan faced an even worse recession than the one that appears to be ending now, and "showed us how to get out of one. If you want real job growth, cut capital gains taxes and slay the death tax once and for all."
THE FACTS: The estate tax, which some call the death tax, was not repealed under Reagan and capital gains taxes are lower now than when Reagan was president.
Economists overwhelmingly say the current recession is far worse. The recession Reagan faced lasted for 16 months; this one is in its 23rd month. The recession of the early 1980s did not have a financial meltdown. Unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent, worse than the October 2009 high of 10.2 percent, but the jobless rate is still expected to climb.
PALIN: She says her team overseeing the development of a natural gas pipeline set up an open, competitive bidding process that allowed any company to compete for the right to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48.
THE FACTS: Palin characterized the pipeline deal the same way before an AP investigation found her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited a company with ties to her administration, TransCanada Corp. Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders during the process, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.
PALIN: Criticizes an aide to her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, for a conflict of interest because the aide represented the state in negotiations over a gas pipeline and then left to work as a handsomely paid lobbyist for ExxonMobil. Palin asserts her administration ended all such arrangements, shoving a wedge in the revolving door between special interests and the state capital.
THE FACTS: Palin ignores her own "revolving door" issue in office; the leader of her own pipeline team was a former lobbyist for a subsidiary of TransCanada, the company that ended up winning the rights to build the pipeline.
During a three-hour tirade about Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to transfer five detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States for criminal prosecution, Rush Limbaugh attacked the "dangerous" "ideologue" Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who in a Fox News interview that day discussed his support of Holder's decision.
Sestak's "dangerous" comment was expressing faith in the U.S. criminal justice system, saying that "we don't have to bend our ideals to defend them."
Now you may be asking yourself, "What does Congressman Sestak know about defending America and its ideals?"
It turns out, a bit more than Rush Limbaugh. See, prior to joining Congress, Sestak spent 31 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a two-star admiral. During his career, Sestak rose to the rank of three-star admiral where he commanded an aircraft carrier group, in part conducting combat operations in Afghanistan. On point to the current discussion, in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Sestak was put in charge of "Deep Blue," a Naval think tank devoted to anti-terrorism. You know, thinking about ways to defend America and its ideals from terrorists.
I'll leave it to you to decide if anyone here is a dangerous ideologue.
To answer the interesting question Greg Sargent raised yesterday. As he noted, the Beltway press in the past has often been generous in crediting conservative bloggers for changing the game:
When right wing bloggers got Dan Rather fired from CBS, traditional news orgs widely hailed the role of right blogostan in exposing the shortcomings of Rather's story on Bush and the National Guard and gave the right full credit for bringing him down.
Now that Lou Dobbs — also a major media figure — has quit CNN, it remains to be seen whether the online left will get anywhere near the same level of credit.
With the initial news cycle surrounding Dobbs' resignation complete, it's safe to say that most news outlets did not credit the lefty Web for making life difficult for Dobbs and CNN over recent months. In fact, most news outlets didn't even mention the role the liberal blogosphere and the larger netroots movement played in helping drive Dobbs from his longtime CNN perch.
This is isn't surprising at all. As I noted in Bloggers on the Bus, Beltway media elites have for years gone out of their way to downplay, if not flat-out ignore, the extraordinary impact liberal bloggers have had on both politics and the press.
Perhaps driven by feelings of competitive jealousy for the fresh generation of citizen journalists and their new found clout, or fueled by contempt for the bloggers who so effectively critiqued the Beltway media's often shoddy work, the press corps mostly kept its distance and chose not to shine a spotlight on the new generation of citizen journalists busy reinventing politics and as journalism. (That's when the press wasn't being openly contemptuous: During the 2004 campaign, a New York Times writer expressed his "half-sickening feeling" at the realization that the news agenda was being set by a "largely unpaid, T-shirt-clad army of bloggers.")
Instead, the press clung to its outdated blogger caricatures, portraying them as polarizing, amateurish extremists, downplaying their concrete achievements, and reluctant to tell the personal stories behind the creation of the blogosphere; the unlikely personal, and professional, odysseys bloggers took before securing leadership positions within the vibrant political community. (How reluctant? As of January 2009, the normally media-obsessed Washington Post still had not published--ever--a single feature profile of an A-list liberal blogger.)
Lou Dobbs' website now features a series of fawning testimonials praising Dobbs' work. One of them is entitled, "Lou Dobbs, real newsman." The author? WorldNetDaily founder and CEO and fake newsman Joseph Farah, who declares CNN "in a state of programming irrelevancy" now that they've rid themselves of the "one reason to tune into" their network. Farah also claims that "Dobbs thinks like a real American newsman - a throwback to an age when journalists actually believed they were watchdogs of government and asked tough questions in the interests of the people."
What has Dobbs done to earn such high praise from Farah? Why, he's supported the same birther conspiracy theories Farah's publication has been pushing. Or, in Farah's words:
When virtually his entire profession and elites in all the other political and cultural institutions of our time were making excuses for Barack Obama's unwillingness to prove his constitutional eligibility to serve in the White House by simply showing the American people his long-form birth certificate, Lou Dobbs was alone in asking why.
Farah even goes so far as to offer Dobbs a job:
Let me be the first to say I would be proud to work with Lou Dobbs. He's got his pick of assignments here at WND. I would be honored to work for him - and it's been a long time since I worked for anyone.
So at least Lou has that to fall back on, if whatever he has planned falls through.
Last week, Newsbusters toasted ABC's World News Tonight for a report on the Ft. Hood handgun massacre; a report that was factually inaccurate. Now, in the wake of Dobbs' CNN departure, Newsbusters dips into the archives and tips its hat to Dobbs for doing such a great job covering the Wen Ho Lee espionage case back in 1999. Slight problem: Dobbs got the Lee story wrong.
Question: Aren't media critics supposed to chastise the press when they get it wrong, not congratulate it?
Basically, Newsbusters was thrilled because Dobbs, unlike the other news anchors at the time (at least that's the claim), jumped on the anti-Clinton story of the Wen Ho Lee spy case, and Dobbs wildly over-hyped it:
This is the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is also ground zero in what is arguably the most alarming nuclear espionage scandal in nearly 50 years, certainly since the Rosenbergs. What has been stolen is a sophisticated miniaturized warhead technology.
Wrong and wrong, as it turned out. Although at the outset, that was certainly the talking points Republicans were pushing, so in that sense Dobbs got those correct.
But here's the best part: Newsbusters today doesn't bother to point out that the hype Dobbs initially pushed turned out to be bogus. Newsbusters pretends that the Wen Ho Lee story was a huge blockbuster that embarrassed the White House.
It wasn't. In fact, the case ended with a U.S. District Court judge apologizing to Lee in open court on behalf the government for the way prosecutors had "embarrassed our entire nation."
Here's my favorite Newsbusters passage:
The press in 1999 also gave the la-la treatment to the possibility of any connection between the technology transfer and laundered political contributions that likely had Chinese origins.
The punch line? There was no connection. Period. Newsbusters is mad that the press, at least initially, didn't play up an angle that turned out to be false. Newsbusters wishes the press back in 1999 had hammered an anti-Clinton angle, even though it was bogus.
And yes, this week in honor of his CNN departure, Newsbusters congratulated Lou Dobbs for getting the Wen Ho Lee story wrong.