From the January 21 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2010 - The Re-Changening|
The weekly magazine's longtime media writer, Ken Auletta, has a lengthy piece in this week's issue about how the Obama administration is dealing with, or trying to deal with, the shifting Beltway media landscape, one that now features gutted newsrooms and, thanks to the Web, a nearly invisible attention span. (Ironically, The New Yorker's article about how the Internet is changing White House coverage is not available online. But Politico has the highlights, here. )
Auletta rounds up lots of the usual D.C. media suspects and gets their take on whether Obama is overexposed and if coverage of his campaign in 2008 was too fawning. Auletta also deals with the topic of Fox News and the White House's pushback from last year. But there, Auletta seems to fall down a bit.
Writes Auletta [emphasis added]:
Fox News is thriving. Glenn Beck's year-old show draws 2.3 million daily viewers, twice its predecessor's audience. The network's broadcasts now attract more viewers each evening than CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC combined. Why? Michael Clemente, Fox's senior vice-president for news and editorial programming, insists that Fox News is asking the "hard questions" that "too few people are asking."
Ugh. I mean, c'mon. Fox News' ratings are up because it's asking "hard questions" about Obama? I guess if by "hard questions" you mean calling him a racist and leading an almost pathologically hateful campaign against the president of the United States, then that quote is accurate.
Instead, The New Yorker won't say boo about Fox News' trademarked hate. And worse, the New Yorker article won't even quote somebody saying boo about that. It's the Topic That Cannot Be Discussed.
Why? Because there continues to be a collective reluctance within the "serious" press to discuss honestly what Fox News does on the air these days. Fox News is obviously not ashamed or embarrassed by it, so why do journalists tiptoe around the facts? Are journalists afraid of being accused of being liberal or partisan? But how is it "partisan" to simply point out that Fox News relentlessly promoted the candidacy of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts and that Fox News allowed Brown to use the cable channel as a national fundraising platform?
Those facts are not even in dispute. Fox News did it on national television. And yet so many press watchers continue to look away and pretend there's nothing unusual about Fox News' proudly partisan programming these days. To pretend that one of the country's three 24/7 news channels has not dedicated itself to attacking the president and the Democratic Congress 24/7.
By pretending that Fox News isn't doing what Fox News is doing, we're left with a gaping disconnect. For instance, in his New Yorker account, Auletta details the Sarah Palin "death panel" smear from last summer and points to it as an example of how the Obama White House was not able to control the news agenda.
As assertions about death panels and socialized medicine reached critical mass on conservative radio, cable shows, and the Web, the White House was hampered by political considerations. Officials didn't want to look as if they were in a personal spat with a potential foe in the 2012 elections, [Anita] Dunn says.
But the bogus "death panel" smear came to life only because Fox News (and yes, its so-called news team, not just the opinion hosts) practically co-sponsored the smear and hyped it relentlessly, and continued to do so well after it was publicly debunked. Meaning, Fox News is part of the story because Fox News has become a purely political player.
So, why, in an article about the Obama White House and the shifting media landscape, did The New Yorker leave that part out? Why didn't The New Yorker set aside just one or two paragraphs to explain what Murdoch's radical crew is actually doing?
Hint: It ain't news.
Since the Massachusetts special election, the conservative media have repeatedly claimed that voters' decision to elect Republican Scott Brown to the Senate is a reflection of how the nation feels about Democrats' health care reform legislation. They said it was a "referendum" on health care, and that voters had rejected it.
For example, on Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy said the election "may be a big indicator on how people across the country really feel about health care reform in the United States." We argued at the time that "Massachusetts is not representative of the nation as a whole since it already has a health care program that insures nearly all residents -- a unique situation that allowed Brown to argue that Massachusetts would not benefit from health care reform."
Today, Alec MacGillis of The Washington Post reaffirms that view. In an article titled, "Brown's victory in Mass. senate race hardly a repudiation of health reform," MacGillis wrote that Massachusetts voters are biased against national health care reform because they already have universal health care coverage, and if the reform were to pass, they would effectively be subsidizing the states that don't. From the article:
While many are describing the election to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat as a referendum on national health-care reform, the Republican candidate rode to victory on a message more nuanced than flat-out resistance to universal health coverage: Massachusetts residents, he said, already had insurance and should not have to pay for it elsewhere.
Scott Brown, the Republican state senator who won a stunning upset in Tuesday's election, voted for the state's health-care legislation, which was signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and has covered all but 3 percent of Massachusetts residents. That legislation became the basic model for national health-care legislation. Brown has not disavowed his support for the state's law, which retains majority backing in Massachusetts.
Instead, he argued on the campaign trail that Massachusetts had taken care of its own uninsured, and it would not be in the state's interest to contribute to an effort to cover the uninsured nationwide.
Brown's message underscores a little-noticed political dynamic in a country where rates of the uninsured vary widely, from Massachusetts to Texas, where 25 percent are uninsured. Seeking national universal coverage means sending money from states that have tried hard to expand coverage, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest, to states that have not, mostly in the South and West.
Supporters of the national legislation say this transfer is an unfortunate but unavoidable aspect of expanding coverage. But, they argue, the nation is misinterpreting expressions of self-interest in Massachusetts as grand opposition to universal health insurance.
"Massachusetts's reforms continue to be popular in Massachusetts -- sufficiently popular that Brown did not repudiate them," said Paul Starr, a Princeton public affairs professor. "Here is a state that has enacted a similar reform and it is popular. That should encourage people that if it's done at the national level, that it would work as policy, and that it would be popular."
It's Day Two of the Scott Brown Era (at least that's how cablers continue to over-cover the Mass. story), and yet still no "gigantic" stock market rally, as predicted by CNBC's Jim Cramer. In fact, just like yesterday, investors (surprise!) seem quite non-plussed by Brown's win, and for the second straight day stocks are down significantly.
Like, down 200 points already today.
Please note that Glenn Beck remains quite confused because he thought Cramer's oddball prediction about the Brown stock surge "made total sense."
UPDATED: Note the CNBC anchor who thinks the Cramer prediction about a Scott Brown stock market rally was "nonsense."
For all the awful and reprehensible things Glenn Beck says and does, it's rare I find myself disgusted with the Fox News host. But it happened last night.
If you didn't see the show, Beck suddenly found himself concerned for the safety of President Obama:
BECK: Now, why is the president himself in trouble? Well, let me use him [Van Jones] as an example, a 9/11 truther -- another guy surrounding the president. OK, 9/11 truthers. Here's a guy who thought the government was evil enough that it would murder thousands of U.S. citizens. Just blow 'em up. Destroy a building and kill 3,000 people.
Well, gosh, are these people like you? Do you think that? Do you think anyone who does think that we could just kill our own people should be near the president? I mean, he thinks anybody who sits or sat in the chair of the presidency must be evil. He goes to church with a guy who thinks that America intentionally murdered people throughout history. Put yourself in the mindset of a 9/11 truther. You have access to the president of the United States, the guy who has always been evil. You think now that he was on your side, but now, if he goes soft, he's joined the cabal capable of murdering people, he promised you a revolution.
Do you think it's safe to have an individual like that around the president of the United States? Are you comfortable with that?
Well, let me tell you something. You might think this is crazy, oh, that stuff would never happen. Let me show you what was said on left-wing radio today. Thanks to Newsbusters.org, they just posted this. "You crazy blank, you right-wingers, do you not understand that the people you hold up as heroes bombed your expletive country? Do you not understand that Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly are as complicit of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack as any one of those expletive 15 who came from Saudi Arabia? Don't you get that?"
As a guy -- I'll tell you some day -- as a guy who has to have unbelievable security because of people like that, let me tell you what these people are capable of.
By the way, in a related story, why did the White House have the hearing today on the gatecrashers? Remember the gatecrashers? They pleaded the fifth. Do you think the White House or Congress had that story planted today, to have those hearings today to bury it in a busy news day while everyone else was distracted?
Please pray for our Secret Service, make sure that they do their job. Dear God, protect our president.
I have no doubt that Glenn Beck does not wish any harm upon President Obama. But this is disgusting and little more than a bank-shot smear of both President Obama and his advisors. He's saying -- in a complete absence of evidence, sense, and decency -- that the president's advisors are crazed would-be assassins, and implicit in the criticism is that President Obama is irresponsible enough to put crazed would-be assassins in positions of power where they have access to him. And then, as if that weren't enough, Beck has the gall to use prayer as a weapon against his political opponents.
It's moments like these when I'm brought back to Beck's attack on President Obama as a "racist" and Fox News' refusal to pursue any punitive action against him. At the time, NBC's First Read summed up the situation perfectly: "There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it's now encouraged."
This Wall Street Journal article today plays dumb on a rather epic scale regarding the GOP's almost universal refusal to support any initiative coming out of the White House.
The piece, which surveys the political landscape in the wake of Scott Brown's win, actually provides helpful background by noting that during the previous year Democrats have enjoyed larger margins in the U.S. senate than any party since right after Watergate. The Journal notes that, "recent presidents managed to pass sweeping bills with smaller majorities or even when their party was in the minority."
So what gives with Obama, the Journal article seems to ask. And that's where the playing dumb always begins. Because the Beltway press just refuses to report and comment candidly on what's been unfolding for the last 13 months.
From the Journal [emphasis added]:
But straight party-line votes are a relatively recent phenomenon in the Senate, historians say; interparty coalitions were long the norm.
In the 1960s, Democrats held sizeable super-majorities, culminating in 64 seats in 1968. But that included a deeply conservative faction of Southern Democrats who often voted with conservative Republicans, and bills often passed with bipartisan support and opposition.
Now, however, the majority party has to contend with a routine threat of a filibuster from the minority. "It's a relatively new story that it has become acceptable to filibuster everything in sight," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal Washington think tank.
Here's the word the Journal, like most Beltway outlets, steadfastly refuses to use when describing today's party line votes of no from the GOP: "unprecedented," which, of course, is the accurate term. Because we've simply never seen, in modern American history, a minority party that has decided to proudly oppose everything from the White House.
In the past, if a party had tried that, especially after a new president won an electoral landslide victory in November the way Obama did in 2008, that strategy would have been portrayed in the press as a radical form of obstructionism, and as being out of touch with mainstream politics. But today, the press pretends it's no big deal, like it's normal, and actually blames the White House, as reporters collectively scratch their heads trying to figure out why Obama can't secure GOP votes. Because gee, GOP leaders say they want to work with Democrats, so why won't Dems make it work?
The press plays dumb about the unprecedented obstructionism and then voilà! it's deemed "acceptable to filibuster everything in sight."
in 2009, the GOP adopted a risky and radical political strategy, but the press declined to describe it as either, which has only emboldened the GOP. (i.e. There's no political downside.) Instead, the press continues to pretend that what uber-partisan Republicans are doing it's normal, and then pins the blame on Obama for having failed to build a bipartisan coalition.
It's kind of like a trap, no?
It' seems like forever.
A year ago President George W. Bush left the White House. Since that time the unemployment has nearly doubled, the national deficit has tripled, government has grown in leaps and bounds, and the current president has blamed his predecessor for every problem he has encountered.
Wow, that is bad: unemployment doubled last year. No wonder voters are so angry!
Fact: When Bush left office, unemployment stood at 7.6 percent.
Fact: Unemployment today is not 15.2 percent, which means it hasn't "doubled." And it hasn't even "nearly doubled."
Fact: Hoft will never, ever correct his glaring error.
From the January 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From Jim Hoft's January 21 Gateway Pundit post:
It seems like forever.
A year ago President George W. Bush left the White House. Since that time the unemployment has nearly doubled, the national deficit has tripled, government has grown in leaps and bounds, and the current president has blamed his predecessor for every problem he has encountered. President Obama even blamed George Bush for the Coakley loss yesterday in Massachusetts.
Don't expect to read anything this honest in the US papers...
George W. Bush liberated 60,000,000 Muslims from tyranny- More than any leader since World War II.
The Telegraph gives an honest review of the Bush years.
Jules Crittenden adds that it is also with tremendous grace that George Bush has accepted his designated role as villain, fall guy, punching bag.
Today again we thank President George W. Bush.