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."
From the FoxNation.com, accessed on July 27:
Newsbusters' Brent Baker provides still more evidence that the conservative media critique is fundamentally absurd. Baker is upset that "Time magazine's online staff certainly undermined any notion of impartiality in how they littered the posted version of this week's cover story, 'Inside Bush and Cheney's Final Days,' with the links they chose to display between paragraphs and at page breaks of the article."
Baker's first example?
Others, however, reflected hostility and/or derision toward the two key players in the story, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, starting with "Visit RottenTomatoes.com for reviews of W., Oliver Stone's 2008 portrait of George W. Bush" and "Read 'Leahy's Plan to Probe Bush-Era Wrongdoings.'"
Wow. That's Baker's strongest evidence that Time's link package demonstrated liberal bias? The fact that a Time article about Bush mentions the fact that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering investigations into Bush-era wrongdoing? A link to a movie review web site? Pretty weak stuff. But Baker's argument gets weaker from there:
The "See the top 10 unfortunate political one-liners" link goes to a collection which includes George H.W. Bush's pledge to not raise taxes: "Read my lips: no new taxes."
Baker forgets to mention this, but the list also includes two Bill Clinton quotes and one each from LBJ and Jimmy Carter. What the heck is Baker's point?
The link for "See pictures of polarizing politicians on LIFE.com" brings readers to a collection which has Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton, but also George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and Ronald Reagan.
OH MY GOD! THE BIAS! IT BURNS!
Wait. Uh ... what? That's an "Anti-Bush and Cheney Potshot Link"?