Talk about insult to injury. Yesterday I highlighted the gaping holes in Glenn Thrush's Nancy Pelosi hit piece which claimed she's "despised" by Americans, despite the fact Politico couldn't point to any polling data--any facts--to support that incendiary claim. The article simply highlighted the dreadful brand of journalism Politico practices on a regular basis.
The insult? I go out to the curb this morning to pick up my suburban NJ newspaper and there, re-printed right on the front page, is Thrush's error-filled Pelosi's piece.
Politico is infecting everything!
P.S. Is Thrush ever going to correct the glaring factual error in his piece in which he claimed Newt Gingrich only became unpopular as Speaker of the House after he led the charge to shut down the federal government? Yesterday I pointed to Gallup polling data that proved unequivocally that Thrush's claim was erroneous. Gingrich was pretty much always unpopular.
You might even say, despised.
We frequently point out the various ways in which our friends at NewsBusters reveal themselves to be sub-par media critics, and -- wouldn't you know it - we found another one. And it's a pretty good one, too. Yesterday, NewsBusters' Clay Waters observed that the New York Times had dismissed the Birthers as conspiracy theorists, but couldn't bring themselves to do the same for the 9/11 Truthers, to whom the paper showed "respect." Waters wrote:
Media reporter Brian Stelter's Saturday Business story, "A Dispute Over Obama's Birth Lives On in the Media," questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency. Good for the Times. But where is the Times's critcism when liberals gin up wackier conspiracy theories?
Back in June 2006, Times reporter Alan Feuer showed far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush. Yet not once did Feuer dismiss the 9-11 Truthers bizarre charge as a "conspiracy theory," as Stelter did in the first line of his Sunday piece on the Birthers.
First of all, the 2006 Times article doesn't come anywhere close to conferring "respect" on the 9/11 Truthers - Feuer observed that one of the ringleaders lived in a cave, that another recites profanity-laced Roman history, and that the crux of their entire argument is undermined by thorough scientific analysis. But as to Waters' specific claim that Feuer never "dismissed" the Truthers as conspiracy theorists, let's take a look at Feuer's article, with relevant portions highlighted:
In fairness to Waters, nobody really reads headlines anyway...
In the middle of a column about (I guess; it's always hard to tell) how Barack Obama's presidency is just like George Bush's, Dana Milbank drops this comparison:
To observers of the presidency, the sports imagery may look familiar. Former president George W. "Watch This Drive" Bush was often ridiculed for playing the role of athletic supporter in chief. But Obama, while switching the focus from Texas to Chicago, has been no less fanatical. CBS News's Mark Knoller, the unofficial statistician of the White House press corps, counts 18 sports-related events for Obama in the first six months of his presidency -- not to mention a dozen golf outings and a few off-campus basketball games.
Bush's "Watch this drive" comment drew criticism because it immediately followed comments about terrorism, leading many to conclude that he wasn't taking the topic seriously enough.
Equating Barack Obama's events with championship sports teams -- common occurrences at the White House for years -- with Bush's "watch this drive" callousness is silly at best.
2,300 more words from Howard Kurtz in today's Washington Post "Media Notes" column -- and not one of them about CNN president Jonathan Klein, who defends Lou Dobbs' Obama birth certificate conspiracy theorizing as "legitimate" and attacks Dobbs' critics as "partisan."
Kurtz, you'll remember, draws what we can only assume is a sizable chunk of his income from Klein's CNN, where Kurtz moonlights as host of Reliable Sources.
Kurtz did briefly touch on the birther controversy in today's column:
Will this quiet the "birthers" -- or the people who keep putting them on TV?
"State officials in Hawaii on Monday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president."
What a relief!
Not mentioned: Kurtz's CNN colleague Lou Dobbs is the leader of the birther brigade -- and Kurtz's CNN boss Jonathan Klein is the person who keeps putting him on TV.
This much is clear: any reporter who ever gets criticized by Howard Kurtz for having a conflict of interest should laugh in his face.
Just wanted to add some historical context to Jamison's excellent point yesterday about how pundits and reporters dutifully noted that Palin, in her resignation speech, took all sort of cheap shots at the press; insisting journalists "quit making things up." (She basically called them unprofessional hacks.) This coming from a woman with a deep, rich history of making things up.
Not only didn't many in the press point out that hypocrisy, but journalists have remained mostly mum about Palin's comically weak batch of media criticism. (Here's Phil Bronstein who gives Palin a pass for her press attacks.)
Okay, here's the historical context: Back in 2002 when Al Gore granted an interview with the New York Observer and unloaded on the political press corps, and delivered a far more compelling and articulate critique of the failings of the Beltway press corps, all hell broke loose among talking heads who practically sprinted in front of microphones and keyboards, hoping to be the first to ridicule Gore for having the audacity to call out their shortcomings.
*Time's James Carney called Gore's comments, "abject whining in the face of defeat" and complained that "the whining was excessive."
*Fox News' Charles Krauthammer called Gore insane: "I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there's a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. He could use a little help."
*Detroit News columnist Thomas Bray lamented Gore's "sad" "rant."
*The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes compared Gore to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist: "This is nutty. This is along the lines with you know, President Bush killed Paul Wellstone, and the White House knew before 9/11 that the attacks were going to happen. This is -- I mean, this is conspiratorial stuff."
*Rush Limbaugh also called Gore insane: "It could just be he's nuts. Tipper Gore's issue is what? Mental health. Right? It could be a closer to home issue than we know."
*Scripps Howard columnist Dan Thomasson condemned Gore's "posturing and whining." He also called Gore a "cry baby" and insisted his comments represented "a shop worn, bogus lament from losers."
BTW, this was the key point Gore made to the New York Observer, which probably stands as one of the most astute media observations from any politician in the last decade:
The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party. Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh-there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media ... Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks-that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what's objective as stated by the news media as a whole...
Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk-show network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and the others. And then they'll create a little echo chamber, and pretty soon they'll start baiting the mainstream media for allegedly ignoring the story they've pushed into the zeitgeist. And then pretty soon the mainstream media goes out and disingenuously takes a so-called objective sampling, and lo and behold, these RNC talking points are woven into the fabric of the zeitgeist.
UPDATED: The WSJ John Fund cheers Palin's "media critique," if that's what you call two semi-coherent sentences uttered by a Republican politician and which reference the press:
Ms. Palin will no doubt have a future as a stump speaker and political commentator in the lower 48, and her media critique certainly will find receptive audiences
Politico's Roger Simon continues shilling for Sarah Palin on Hardball, where, among other things, he defended her from criticizing for quitting by pointing out that "Bob Dole quit."
That was a dumb point when Simon first made it nearly a month ago, and it remains dumb.
Bob Dole left the Senate after he had already wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, and with just a few months remaining before the general election. Sarah Palin quit Alaska's governorship nearly three years before the first 2012 primary will occur. Bob Dole had served Kansas in Congress for more than 30 years. Sarah Palin had been governor for 2 years. They just aren't comparable situations.
And after Dole quit, he lost the general election.
So what, exactly, does saying "Bob Dole quit" add to the conversation?
UPDATE: It gets dumber. Simon, later in the broadcast: "Bob Dole gave up his US Senatorship in 1996 to run for president. The party didn't care... he got the nomination."
Once again: Bob Dole had already wrapped up the nomination when he resigned. Roger Simon, who was "standing right there" when Dole did it, should probably know that.
UPDATE 2: And just for the record, a lot of people think, and thought at the time, that Dole made a mistake in giving up his Senate seat, because it eliminated his ability to make news in an official, rather than political, capacity. That's a Dole-Palin comparison that makes logical and factual sense (which doesn't mean Palin's resignation will play out the same way.) Simon's comparison of the two does not; it's the kind of false and nonsensical line you see a politician's supporters make when they don't have any good arguments. Except in this case, it's journalist Roger Simon who keeps pulling it out.
From the July 27 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk (hat tip to Twitter user StefanoScalia):
It's no secret that Politico's editorial guidelines basically revolve around trying to figure out how its stories can land Drudge links, which is why Politico often simply manufactures controversial headlines that have nothing to do with the actual articles.
Another way to curry favor with Drudge is to just kiss up to him and write, over and over, about how influential he is. Witness Ben Smith, who announces that it was Matt Drudge who put the birther story in play last week [emphasis added]:
But a smart colleague pointed out something else to me about the sudden flood of attention: It's (yet another) piece of evidence for Matt Drudge's power to decide what everyone else is talking about. Dave Weigel and I, among others, have been following the Birthers as a curiousity and more for quite a while, and Dave had already posted an interesting piece on Republicans having to deal with Birthers, and followed last Monday morning with a link to video of Rep. Mike Castle confronting a woman convinced that Obama isn't legitimate.
Drudge, whose judgment for the riveting, relevant, and bizarre remains unmatched, posted the video later Monday. And he propelled the (riveting, and weird) scene into the bloodstream -- he alone sent 255,488 viewers -- onto cable, and thence into, among other places, finally the Times (twice), which reported that ... everybody was talking about it.
Which is all just a particularly clear glimpse of the central role Drudge plays in the media ecosystem.
Not only is the ring-kissing unsightly, but in this case it's total nonsense. The idea that because Drudge posted to a single YouTube clip the birther story went huge last week is just absurd. The reason the story went big was because a high-profile CNN anchor, Lou Dobbs, decided to jump on the birther bandwagon and tossed all common sense aside by championing a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory. Drudge was, at best, a birther spectator last week.
Why would Politico want to pretend otherwise?
On Friday, I noted that a WSJ article stood out as being one of the very few I've seen that even raised the question of possible political downsides the GOP could face if they successfully kill health care reform.
Watching the coverage unfold I'd been surprised that so few in the press even considered that Republicans might face some kind of backlash. Instead, the press has been painting their opposition as win-win, despite the fact that polls show a clear majority of Americans want health care reform; the type of health care reform Democrats in Congress are proposing.
Here's the latest proof of that, courtesy Gallup:
Yep, an astounding 71 percent of Americans want a new health care reform bill passed. But don't tell the press, they're too busy writing about the Republican pending success in blocking health care reform.
In fact, in an effort to prove my point, Reuters actually used the above Gallup polling data to highlight bad news for Obama.
Behold [emphasis added]:
Obama's soaring rhetoric helped him win the presidency and propelled his first months in Washington. But despite his frequent speeches declaring a healthcare revamp is urgently needed to help rebuild the U.S. economy, Americans are still expressing some uncertainty.
A Gallup poll released on Friday said only 41 percent of those surveyed wanted legislation approved this year, and the poll was done on Thursday night, one day after Obama's healthcare-dominated news conference.
See, 71 percent of Americans want health care reform. But to the Beltway press that's not bad news for Republicans, it's bad news for Obama; it simply proves Americans are "expressing some uncertainty."