Last time I checked in with the fringe pub's Matthew Vadum I was having trouble detecting anything even remotely coherent from his supposed blockbuster ("Special Report") about how Obama was going to desecrate the memory of 9/11, or something. It was lots of ranting about how Obama this year was going "to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche." (How'd that scoop pan out, Matthew?)
Vadum is back for another tumble through the looking glass. And after trying my best, and re-reading his efforts many times, I'm still not entirely sure what he's talking about. And a a journalist, I'm not sure that's the take-away you want to constantly leave readers. Just sayin.'
But, as best I can tell, Vadum on Tuesday claimed the White House's Patrick Gaspard used to work for ACORN. Why this matters, Vadum never really spells out. (i.e. He never claims any wrongdoing on Gaspard's part.) Readers are simply supposed to react in shock and anger, I guess, because ACORN's a massive criminal enterprise? Right on cue, the right-wing blogosphere reacted in horror. The ACORN scoop was huge news. Of course, it turns it wasn't true. (Pretty much by definition these days, a right-wing blog scoop has be false. That's just the way the game is played.)
So, with his scoop in shambles, what does Vadum do? Same thing he did in September when his Obama-9/11 story was in shambles. He doubles down with more impossible-to-follow fantasy, borderline sci-fi writing. This time, the gist is that ACORN to the Average Joe is such a mysterious and complex and un-knowing entity, that only Vadum, with his year's worth of dedicated ACORN 'reporting,' can really determine the facts. (Mere mortals like Smith aren't up to the task.) Only Vadum, using some sort of special right-wing, X-ray vision glasses, is able to tell the truth about ACORN. Only Vadum can properly connect the dots. And oh yeah, he has secret evidence that's he's not willing to disclose.
Question: Does Vadum still have secret evidence to prove how Obama was going to "erase the meaning" of Sept. 11? Just curious.
More than 60 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 September 29 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
From John L. Perry's September 29 Newsmax column:
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the "Obama problem." Don't dismiss it as unrealistic.
America isn't the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn't mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a "family intervention," with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.
Military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for "fundamental change" toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.
Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don't shrug and say, "We can always worry about that later."
In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.
From Rathke's September 29 post to his personal blog:
My "friends" on the right seem to be using me as a source for an attack at yet another new target: Patrick Gaspard, political director at the White House.
I have huge admiration for Patrick and have enjoyed my dealings with him over the years. In almost 1400 blogs I've done, sometimes I don't get it right, call it a senior moment or whatever it might be, but reading the blogsphere with me as a source took me back searching for whether or not I could be causing a problem here inadvertently. Patrick was never on the staff of ACORN. I double checked with people I still know there, and it appears that I dropped a stitch there. Hopefully my misstatement won't lead to the White House throwing him in front of the bus in this rush to neo-McCarthyism that has become so prominent. In this case, my memory tricked me. I'm glad to carry the weight and simply say I made a mistake, and damned if I'm not sorry and hope no damage is done to a good man doing a hard job.
See, this is what happens when radical, right-wing partisan try to practice journalism. More times than not, they end up making fools of themselves. Because they have no idea how journalism works, nor do they care. And sure enough, Breitbart.tv became a laughing stock today when, driven by its blind hatred of Obama, the site claimed to have uncovered a video of community organizers praying to Obama.
Obedient right-wing bloggers then piled on, openly mocking a group of mostly African-Americans as they gathered in prayer. That's right, today's GOP Noise Machine, when not attacking school kids, sets aside time to ridicule people in prayer. (One right-wing site accused the organizers of "blasphemy.")
The punch line came when some sane people outside of Breitbart's hate circle actually watched the video and realized that the community organizers who gathered (nine months ago, BTW), weren't saying "Obama," but were saying "Oh God," which is typical when people are in prayer. In other words, Breitbart posted a video mocking a group of activists while they prayed to God and asked for guidance. Breitbart completely smeared the community organizers with an entirely trumped-up charge.
He bungled the audio when the whole point of the gotcha video was the words chanted on the audio. If the community organizers weren't saying "Obama," which they weren't, than the whole smear falls apart. Which it has.
Andrew, please tell us again how you're going to single-handedly re-invent conservative journalism. Because if this is what you have in mind, it's gonna be a laugh riot to watch.
UPDATED: Clueless right-wing bloggers are still touting Breitbart's misguided hatchet job (i.e the "shocking video"), even though Breitbart's site admits it has no idea what people are saying on the video.
UPDATED: Like I said, so much for conservative "journalism."
Here's Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein, on today's statements from Max Baucus and Chuck Schumer that they don't have 60 votes:
There are two questions here. The first is "60 votes for what?" Do they not have 60 votes in favor of a health-care plan that includes a public option? Or do they not have 60 votes against a filibuster of a health-care plan that includes a public option? If it's the former, that's okay: You only need 51. If it's the latter, that's a bigger problem. But I'd be interested to hear which Democrats will publicly commit to filibustering Barack Obama's health-care reform bill. If that's such a popular position back home, why aren't more Democrats voicing it loudly?
Hey, that's a great point!
Actually, it reminds me of something I wrote a month ago:
Would Joe Lieberman really filibuster health insurance reform favored by Obama and the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats after Obama and those same Senate Democrats did Lieberman the favor of allowing him to continue to chair the Government Affairs Committee after Lieberman ran against the Democratic nominee for his seat, endorsed the Republican presidential candidate, and attacked Obama in a speech at the Republican National Convention? Remember, he didn't even filibuster the "seriously flawed" bankruptcy bill he opposed in 2005.
Would John McCain really filibuster health insurance reform favored by a majority of the U.S. Senate just a year after voters chose Obama's approach to health care over his own?
Maybe. It's certainly possible. But isn't it odd that nobody has asked them? That the news media, which insist over and over that cloture is what matters, don't ask senators who express skepticism about, or opposition to, health care reform whether they will filibuster it?
I suspect there is some universe of senators -- I have no idea how many -- who want to kill health care reform (or at least large parts of it, like the public option) but who aren't willing to have its blood on their hands. So they calibrate their public statements in an effort to scare off advocates of a public option, hoping that, as a result, they never have to cast a vote against it.
Because if it comes to a vote, they'll have an awfully hard time filibustering legislation that would make health care available to all and more affordable for those who already have it. They'll have an awfully hard time casting a vote to deny a floor vote to legislation that enjoys the support of the majority of both houses of Congress and is the top legislative priority of a president elected on a promise of health care reform just last year.
I understand why they would take this approach. They want to avoid taking a definitive position on a contentious issue -- particularly on the question of whether they'd filibuster health care reform. That's completely understandable, if not admirable. And they're trying to shape health care reform through their vague-but-ominous statements. That's understandable, too -- it's a basic element of negotiation.
What is harder to understand is why so many reporters would help politicians avoid taking a stand.
Maybe it's finally time for reporters to start asking Senators if they will filibuster the public option -- not just whether they support it, or think it has enough votes. Will they filibuster it?
Given how much reporters write and say about the need for 60 votes to break a filibuster, it's pretty stunning that they never get around to asking Senators whether they'll vote to sustain or end a filibuster.
On September 29, Breitbart.tv embedded the following video with the headline "Shock Discovery: Community Organizers Pray TO President-Elect Obama." The video includes includes captions such as "Deliver Us Obama" and "Hear Our Cry Obama" suggesting that the crowd was "pray[ing] to" Obama. However, Breitbart.tv later included a different version of the video without the captions and with an Editor's note acknowledging that "there is a debate over what is actually being said" and the crowd may in fact be saying "O God" rather than "Obama."
These are the captions in the video Breitbart originally embedded on his site:
Later on September 29, Breitbart.tv posted the following Editor's note, underneath a longer version of the video that does not include the captions.
Editor's note: We've updated this post with the longer version of the original event. As you'll see in the comments and related links there is a debate over what is actually being said. Does the crowd say, "Hear our cry, Obama" and "Deliver us Obama?" Or are they saying "Oh God?" In the longer version the first two repetitions seem to have a distinct "uh" sound at the end that resonates as "Obama." The later repetitions are a little fuzzier. Did some of the religious leaders present become uneasy? Or was there a mix of what was being said? Read some of the blogger analysis below. What do you think?
The hidden-camera trick which produced the ACORN story has led lots of conservatives to toast a new era in right-wing journalism. Chris Wallace hails the sting as important "investigative reporting." But of course, it's not really journalism at all.
Here's the definitive proof, in case you missed it over the weekend. Anti-ACORN film maker James O'Keefe told Wallace his objective is to "destroy" people and that no, he doesn't know if he broke any privacy laws in Maryland when he taped ACORN workers, because he has no idea what the law there is in terms of hidden cameras.
Like I said, that aint journalism.
On his Fox program last Friday (rebroadcast on Monday), Glenn Beck hosted a group of moms who theoretically represented what is on the minds of the American people. "Tonight," he explained, "we're going to talk to actual people about what concerns average Americans."
"When regular people oppose the government-run health care," Beck explained, "and let their voices be heard at town halls and tea parties all across the country, they're labeled 'angry mobs' and 'tea-baggers,' and now, 'domestic terrorists,' 'gun-toting radicals.' Do these look like gun-toting radicals to you?"
Beck drove the point home: "I think you're going to find their concerns quite normal, indeed, and rational."
So what are "normal" and "rational" concerns in the mind of Glenn Beck?
Average Americans believe that the Obama administration and the mainstream media are tearing America apart along racial lines
One of Beck's guests, an African-American woman named Mary Baker, stated her belief that "in this time in our nation, we should be together," before lamenting that, "It seems like we're being so torn apart." Beck asked who was to blame, and culprits were quickly assigned. "It's the government," one guest said. "It's the media, for sure," said another. Stephanie Scruggs, a 9-12 Project coordinator, was even more specific:
The only people I have heard doing the name-calling are Nancy Pelosi, the pundits on CNN, the pundits on ABC, NBC. I quit watching regular news on the night of the election when they called me a racist because I happen to live in the South and didn't vote for Barack Obama. So, I must be a racist. I don't watch them anymore.
Regarding Ms. Baker, she is the author of a recently published editorial entitled, "Why I am no longer an African American," a piece she mentioned on Beck's program. The article argues that Obama's election "has resulted in even more racial division" and that we are witnessing a resurgence of "anti-American sentiments" stemming form "the Black Power Movement, Nation of Islam, or the Black Nationalist Movement." "The classification of me as an African American," Ms. Baker writes, "says that although I live in America, my loyalty and allegiance are to Africa."
Ms. Baker concludes her piece with the following argument:
Is this division amongst us perpetrated by our very own government? It is obvious that the inspiration for the classification of African American has nothing to do with those born of African descent. It is a radical group of Black Americans who hold to the anti-American views of those shared by Jeremiah Wright, Professor Gates, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and many others who came out of the radical Civil Rights Movement.
Promoting the idea that Obama's election has turned black radicalism and nationalism into the official policies of the United States government is an explicit goal of the current conservative media movement. Stoking racial tensions is clearly a goal as well. And, as usual, the blame is fixed exactly 180 degrees away from where it should be. The promotion of such beliefs is not the work of the White House or MSNBC. Rather, it is Beck who is hyping the specter of race-based policies by invoking the theme of "reparations," and it was media conservatives who called the president and his first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, racists. By contrast, it was President Obama who, during his first national speech in 2004, stated plainly and unequivocally, "We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."
Average Americans believe that vaccinations are part of a government plot to exert "control" over our families
On the program, Beck implied that he was against flu shots. "I'm talking to one of the top five doctors in the world," he said (the world-renowned physician was not named), "and I'm trying to find out the flu. Am I going to allow the government to give my child a flu shot?"
"No, don't do it," a mother responded." "Take them out of school," said another. "You know what this is about?" a third guest asked. "One word -- it is about control." Later in the program, a mother who was homeschooling her children explained her decision: "I didn't want them being exposed to everything that they're exposed to in schools. I didn't want to vaccinate even on the government's schedule."
The list of government-mandated inoculations for children attending public and private schools includes such historically devastating diseases as hepatitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles, mumps, and polio. The fact that infection and death rates from these diseases have fallen so precipitously over the years is undoubtedly connected in large part to widespread inoculations. (A 2007 Harvard study estimated that 1.1 million cases of polio alone have been prevented in the United States.) And yet, Beck allowed his show to promote a generalized rejection of such a practice, one considered a staple of modern medicine.
Average Americans believe that the United Nations is stripping them of their right to raise their children as they see fit
On the program, a guest made the following claim, which Beck allowed to stand without challenge:
Parental rights are being taken away by the United Nations right now. Barbara Boxer is very involved with the United Nations Children's Rights Commission, trying to put our children's rights, including going to church, going to do homework, anything of that -- they can be taken out of your home.
The United Nations Special Commission on Human Rights is indeed focusing on issues involving children. As the commission's website explains:
While victims of injustice and poverty have always had trouble being heard, none have had more trouble, historically, than children. Whether exploited as child labourers or prostitutes, drafted as young teenagers into armed forces, forced as young girls into a lonely life as domestic workers, deprived of an education to work on the family farm, or denied adequate nutrition and health care, children need help and protection from an adult world that perpetrates most of the abuse.
Further statistics highlighted by the U.N. include:
In the last decade, an estimated two million children have been killed in armed conflict, many of them by some of the 100 million landmines thought to be concealed in 62 countries. A total of perhaps four to five million more have been disabled as a result of their experience in war, and more than 12 million have been made homeless.
As for child labour, while experts agree that there are few accurate statistics available, the best estimates from the ILO [International Labour Organization] are that there are nearly 80 million children under 15 working as labourers. It is also estimated that the number of children under 18 involved in prostitution exceeds two million, one million of whom are in Asia and 300,000 in the United States.
Despite such horrific realities -- realities which the United Nations is at the very least publicizing in the hope that they might be addressed -- Beck allowed his program to serve as a forum for the broadcast of blatantly anti-U.N. views. The substance of the actual work of the U.N. Human Rights Commission was not addressed. This should be surprising, considering Beck's rage against the former ACORN employees who offered advice on how to set up a fake underage brothel.
Are these truly average Americans?
There were many other parts of the broadcast that are worthy of correction -- guests, for example, blamed Obama for "apologizing for freedom," bowing "to kings," and asking forgiveness "from dictators" -- all falsehoods that networks like Fox have actively pushed, even cropping the president's words in a deliberately deceptive fashion to make the point.
But the central question viewers should ask themselves after watching a show like this one is the following: Are these the kind of views we want to become "average" in America? Beck is doing his best to create such a reality. The confusion and misguided concern that result from his misinformation are obvious for all to see, and should make the deleterious nature of the conservative media machine all the more apparent.
Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz begins today's "Media Notes" column with a section on reaction to Roman Polanski's arrest. Kurtz quotes right-wing bloggers Patterico, Ann Althouse, and Ed Morrissey -- but no progressives.
He doesn't quote, for example, my criticism of two Washington Post columnists who argued for lenience towards Polanski. He doesn't quote Scott Lemieux at The American Prospect. Or Jill Filipovic at Feministe. Or Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber. Or Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon. Or any of countless others who have been critical of Polanski and his defenders.
Kurtz' decision to quote three conservative bloggers and no progressives is bad enough. What's worse is that Kurtz quotes Morrissey claiming that defending Polanski is, as Kurtz puts it, a "liberal cause":
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey sees Polanski as the latest liberal cause:
"Hollywood has tried to sell the statutory rape as some sort of misunderstood love story. They tried again last year in the documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. The reality is that Polanski drugged, raped, and sodomized a 13-year-old girl . . .
"The victim would now prefer to see the charges dropped, but that doesn't account for 32 years of fleeing justice. Polanski still needs to be held accountable for his crimes, at the very least by getting hauled back to an American court to face the process of justice. He's no hero; he's a rapist, and it's about time that someone make it clear that being a fabulous Hollywood director does not give one a license to commit violent crimes."
Kurtz offered not so much as a hint that any liberals have been critical of Polanski and his defenders; he simply quoted and paraphrased a conservative blogger claiming liberals support Polanski. And then he left out any of the progressive criticism of Polanski that would have disproved the conservative blogger's bogus claim.
And yet Washington Post executives tell us the paper needs to be more responsive to conservatives. Right.