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 January 12 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
For many years, Media Matters and others have documented the mainstream media regularly substituting false balance in news stories in lieu of doing actual reporting. In a story on the Obama administration's policy towards Osama Bin Laden, ABC News' Huma Khan elevates a wild conspiracy theory to just one side of a story.
Some conspiracy theorists have said the U.S. government created the most recent bin Laden tapes. Others have dismissed his tapes as fake, but no one has been able to say with certainty if the world's most-wanted terrorist is still alive.
The idea the the U.S. government faked tapes with Osama Bin Laden is a pretty serious charge that, if true, would have amazingly complex implications for every single American citizen, and the world. The problem is, it is a conspiracy theory in the same class as faked moon landings and alien abductions. There is no actual, factual evidence to back up such an assertion. ABC elevates these claims by making it just one competing narrative in a "fair and balanced" news story that leaves us all less informed.
From a January 12 Western Journalism Center article:
Bob Somerby, the one-man "team" behind the influential media criticism outpost, The Daily Howler, launched a new site today. Called, How He Got There, Somerby's addition will detail the pivotal 2000 campaign.
Writes Somerby, via introduction:
In the coming months, this site will present a book about one of the most consequential elections in American history–the 2000 White House campaign between George W. Bush and Al Gore. At issue is an historical question:
How did George W. Bush reach the White House? How in the world did he get there?
More specifically, How He Got There will explore the mainstream press corps' poisonous coverage of this history-changing campaign. This book thus discusses a remarkable episode in modern press history–an episode the liberal world has generally failed to explore.
Also, for the first time, Somerby is accepting reader donations to support The Daily Howler, his ground-breaking, 11-year-old site, which helped cultivate a new generation of left-leaning, online media critics.
From a January 12 BigJournalism.com entry by James Hudnall:
When the news broke yesterday that Sarah Palin had signed on as a Fox News contributor an awful shrinking feeling in the groin must have hit the execs at the network's competitors. While the old media continues to try to paint her as a crazed redneck, the fact of her ascendancy as a serious power player is now an inescapable fact. Her autobiography, Going Rogue is a publishing phenomenon, having sold 2.7 million copies as of December 1 of 2009. It's one of just four political memoirs to sell more than a million copies.
Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham offer a one-sided and misleading summary of the Brit Hume/Tiger Woods controversy on their Washington Post "On Faith" site:
Media biased against Christians?
Fox News analyst Brit Hume said "widespread media bias against Christianity" was to blame for criticism of his suggestion that Tiger Woods should embrace Christianity to find redemption. "Instead of urging that Tiger Woods turn to Christianity, if I had said what he needed to do was to strengthen his Buddhist commitment or turn to Hinduism, I don't think anybody would have said a word," Hume told Christianity Today. "It's Christ and Christianity that get people stirred up."
Sarah Palin and other conservative Christians have made similar claims. Is there widespread media bias against Christianity? Against evangelicals such as Hume and Palin? Against public figures who speak openly and directly about their faith? Against people who believe as you do?
That might -- might -- have been a reasonable post had Hume merely suggested that Woods "should embrace Christianity to find redemption." But that isn't what happened. Hume also suggested Woods' current religion is inadequate -- that's the part that upset people.
An accurate and neutral framing of the "question" of whether the media is "biased against Christians" wouldn't have adopted Hume's claim that nobody would have been upset if Hume had said Woods needed to "strengthen his Buddhist commitment." Instead, such a framing might have asked what the reaction would be if a someone said Christianity lacks a clear-eyed, fact-based view of the world, so he should adopt atheism instead. That's directly analogous to what Hume said. And had, say, Keith Olbermann, said anything like that, there would have been a firestorm that would have made the Hume/Woods controversy look like a love-in.
In a post raising the possibility of media bias, Quinn and Meacham only demonstrate their own.
Andrew Breitbart promised his new website, Big Journalism, would challenge the mainstream media paradigm and broaden our conceptions of journalism. Thus far, however, all he's challenged is our notion of just how boldly stupid his particular brand of "journalism" can be.
Take as the latest example Warner Todd Huston's Big Journalism post today defending Rudy Giuliani from accusations that he "forgot" 9-11 when he thick-headedly claimed earlier this week that the United States "had no domestic [terror] attacks under Bush." We'll let Huston explain why this is much ado about nothing:
If this isn't a manufactured controversy, then what is? Does anyone really think that Rudy somehow forgot 9/11 happened? He was the mayor of the nation's largest city when it came under attack by terrorists, in the most destructive attack on America since Pearl Harbor in 1941. Isn't it more likely that everyone who's not an idiot, a Leftist, or a lawyer understood the context: that Rudy was marking 9/11 as the beginning of the current terror cycle? Isn't it obvious that Rudy was talking about the situation from the start of our awareness of the implacable ferocity of Islamic terror that Bush had stopped every other attack (and there were lots of them planned) afterward?
Where to begin...
Nobody thinks Giuliani forgot 9-11. Everybody knows that 9-11 is forever on the mind and lips of New York's former mayor. What made Rudy's comment so controversial was that he quite brazenly and audaciously lied. Indeed, one would have to be a brazen and audacious liar to say, with full knowledge of what 9-11 was and when it happened, that there were no domestic terrorist attacks in the U.S. during the Bush years.
One would also have to be remarkably brazen and audacious to argue with a straight face that when Giuliani said there were no terrorist attacks during the Bush years, what he was really doing was "marking 9-11 as the beginning of the current terror cycle." First of all, that makes no sense. Secondly, even if it that somehow did make sense, it still means Giuliani was lying -- saying 9/11 was the beginning of a "terror cycle" does not magically change the date on which it occurred.
Also, Bush did not stop "every other attack" -- there were the anthrax attacks, the El Al ticket counter shooting, the UNC SUV attack, etc.
And on top of all this, Huston has the gall to call everyone who doesn't agree with his nonsensical and factually inaccurate scribblings an "idiot."
Big Journalism, bigger failure.
Carlson's new conservative portal, Daily Caller (or "DC"), launched on Monday and one of the strangest traits of its homepage continues to be all the blaring "The DC Exclusive" tags above scores of headlines:
-"The DC Exclusive: Scott Brown campaign brings in more than $1 million in Massachusetts Senate fundraising blast"
-"The DC Exclusive: Barack Obama says uproar over Harry Reid's 'Negro dialect' comment makes 'absolutely no sense'"
I must say I'm confused because, thanks to the wonders of Google, you can find endless news articles and blog posts today detailing how Mass. Republican Scott Brown raised more than $1 million yesterday, and just as many articles picking up on Obama's quote about the Reid kerfuffle.
But apparently, at Carlson's DC, an "exclusive" is anything that's produced by a DC staff writer. For real. At Daily Caller, an exclusive = any original content.
The thinking appears to be, for example, because the only place you'll find the Daily Caller's Alex Pappas writing today about Scott Brown fundraising haul is at Daily Caller, that means it's an exclusive. Or something like that. None of the facts contained within the article are "exclusive" per se. In fact, the DC piece reads pretty much like every other Scott Brown fundraising story today. But because somebody at DC actually sat down and typed it up (as opposed to DC linking to somebody's else's article) that means--to-da!--it's an "exclusive."
For the record, I'd like to say this is goofy beyond belief. But on the other hand, I kind of like the possibilities because if the DC trend becomes widespread I could soon hype every County Fair blog post I write as an "exclusive" because, technically, nobody else named Eric Boehlert is writing at Media Matters.
The Village was cooing last night over "Game over: The Clintons stand alone," the speculative and gloating hit on the Clintons by Politico's Ben Smith.
Smith breathlessly recounts claims about the Clintons that first appeared in Mark Halperin's new book Game Change, then takes a sneering ha-ha-nobody-likes-the-Clintons tone in noting the purported lack of Clinton loyalists contesting the book's claims.
Now, there's another pretty obvious possible explanation for the lack of an aggressive high-profile response to the book by the Clintons and their former staff. As John Aravosis -- who, if memory serves, did not take a favorable view of Clinton during the presidential primaries -- explains:
I think, rather, that Hillary is being a good Secretary of State. ... I think the lack of response from Team Clinton on this book is because she doesn't want to be a distraction for the President. And if that's the case, she deserves credit.
Now, I don't know if Aravosis is right, or if Smith is. Don't really care, either. But it is striking that Smith never even considers the possibility that "Team Clinton" is laying low for the reason Aravosis suggests. It suggests a tunnel vision on Smith's part, and an eagerness to portray the Clintons as adrift and alone.
One passage in Smith's article was particularly striking to me (emphasis added):
Finally, the depiction of candidate Clinton in "Game Change" suggests that her competitiveness sometimes expressed itself as consuming suspicion.
"I am convinced they also imported people into those caucuses," she reportedly told Penn a month after her concession. In that conversation, which the authors appear to have obtained from a tape-recording or transcript, she reporteldly gave Penn a particularly self-serving assignment:
I want you to start thinking about how I avoid being blamed [for Obama's possible defeat]", Clinton said. "Because I shouldn't be blamed. But they are going to blame me. I somehow didn't do enough."
What's interesting about this passage isn't the substance of Clinton's purported comments. I mean, who really cares if Clinton asked Mark Penn to think about how she could avoid being blamed for an Obama general-election loss? What's remarkable about that?
No, what's interesting is Smith's description of the book's sourcing for the comment. Think about it for a minute: Ben Smith can't tell whether the authors got the quote from a tape-recording or a transcript. That speaks volumes about the authors' shiftiness in describing their sourcing. There's a huge difference between having recordings and having a transcript. If it was a transcript, that would raise all kinds of questions about who produced it and when and how accurate it was.
It says something about the authors that they were ambiguous about which it was, recording or transcript. Just as it says something about them that the source of the famous Clinton/coffee quote isn't described in any way whatsoever:
But Bill [Clinton] then went on, belittling Obama in a manner that deeply offended Kennedy. Recounting the conversation later to a friend, Teddy fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.
Quick: who's the source of that quote? The Kennedy friend, right? That's what a lot of people have assumed. But read it again: Halperin & Heilemann don't actually say the Kennedy friend was their source. Their source could have been a friend of the friend. Or the friend's gardener. Or the friend's cousin's roommate's high school girlfriend's uncle. We have no idea.
That's bad enough. What's worse is that Halperin and Heilemann's writing is either sloppy or disingenuous enough that it leads the reader to assumptions about the sourcing -- the Kennedy friend; the tape-recording -- that, for whatever reason, the authors don't come out and confirm. They imply sourcing that is stronger than they are willing to assert.
That, to me, is a clear sign of a book -- of authors -- that cannot be trusted. Yet it apparently didn't raise any red flags for Smith, or Cillizza, or the other journalists who have been raving about Smith's piece. And that speaks volumes about the state of political journalism.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent weighs in:
what's mystifying is that virtually none of the media figures lavishing attention on this book have broached the sourcing issue, something you'd think would merit a bit of discussion among professional journalists. Discussion of this has been left almost entirely to bloggers.