Lots of right-wing grave-dancing about the primetime news program that conservatives spent so much time turning into a bogey man.
But was it a flop? According to TV Newser, which knows a lot more about the television biz than Michelle Malkin, the health care special produced ABC's best Wednesday 10 p.m. ratings in nearly two months.
Plus, the follow-up Nightline special on ABC featuring more discussion of Obama's proposed health care reform, catapulted Nightline to a rare ratings win over the late-night comedy shows on CBS (Letterman) and NBC (Conan).
UPDATE: And BTW, why does the Noise Machine even care what the ratings were for the primetime special? Are folks really trying to suggest that because tens of millions of Americans didn't spend a summer night learning about health care that that means Obama's no longer popular? I'm pretty sure that's the right-wing take-away, which is a bizarre way to read television ratings, to say the least.
If people want to know of Obama is popular, read the polls. According to the latest national survey, Obama enjoys a sky-high rating of 65 percent.
From a June 25 Examiner.com article:
Earlier this week on his radio show, Michael Savage vowed to post pictures and other 'pertinent information' about the staff of watchdog group Media Matters for America. In a statement during his radio show today he appeared to back off, saying only that an unidentified person was researching publicly available information such as the group's tax filings. Non-profit organizations must file IRS form 990 and are available for public inspection.
Apparently his call for right wing talkers and fellow travelers to rise up against this media watchdog was met with a resounding silence. His attempt to push back and silence his critics appears to be a failure. It is difficult for Savage to push back against reporting that includes recordings of his own words.
Earlier today I wrote about the media pretty much ignoring the 40th anniversary of Stonewall which is fast approaching. Now this from CNN.
Okay, it wasn't Stonewall. Instead we were treated to a nine-minute interview with the leader of a 25-member church that performed an exorcism on a gay man in hopes they could pray the gay away (more on the "ex-gay" movement here.)
According to Ali Velshi, it's the YouTube video of the horrific event (my words) that caught CNN's attention and resulted in the interview you can now watch below. I'll just say that the minister doesn't seem to be the brightest bulb in the box. Velshi does an able job trying to coax some sanity out of the woman but it would have been nice to see someone like Wayne Besen on to rebut her foolishness.
Perhaps if there was some kind of video on the YouTubes about Stonewall to catch CNN's attention and result in a segment or two. Oh wait a minute...
It just helps.
The writer's most recent piece revolves around the idea that people online were way too mean and too judgmental toward Mark Sanford as the Republican governor announced his recent extra-marital affair.
In the e-mails and Twitter entries and blog posts I read in the aftermath, Sanford's human ruin was greeted with what felt like antiseptic glee. The pain he's caused, the hypocrisies he's engaged in, seemed like license to deny him any humanity at all.
The weird part was that Dickerson never bothered to, y'know, quote any emails, Twitter entries or blog posts to back up his claim that people were reacting to the Sanford news with disturbing delight.
Actually, that's not true. Dickerson did quote a single, anonymous email:
"[I]s there any Republican not sleeping around?"
And from that mundane observation he devoted an entire column to the idea that people were taking a "strange, heartless glee" in Sanford's woes? Seems like pretty thin evidence.
Dickerson never quite comes out and says it directly but the between-the-lines implication seems to be that those angry, heartless (liberal) bloggers flew off the handle and unfairly unloaded on Sanford. Problem is, Dickerson offered up zero proof to support the claim.
Laugh or cry? Take your pick.
For the last week, the right-wing blogs played Carnac the Magnificent and, seeing into the feature, announced unequivocally that ABC News's primetime on health care would offer no dissenting voices; that it would be an "infomercial."
ABC News insisted that was not the case and that critical questions at the Town Hall forum would be welcomed and encouraged. But the right-wingers knew what they knew: No skeptics would be allowed on the show.
Now in the wake of the program, right-wing bloggers like Hot Air are crowing about how a skeptic in the Town Hall audience scored points on Obama with his question about the president's proposed health care reform.
To recap. Last week: Skeptics would be banned from the ABC health care special! Today: A skeptic really showed Obama during the ABC health care special!
Like I said, laugh or cry?
The Washington Examiner, a beltway publication with a conservative disposition well documented by Media Matters' Terry Krepel, is in hot water today for correcting a story about the saga of Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) that initially noted Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) too had an affair.
The story initially read (emphasis added):
Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Majority Leader who is now a GOP candidate for governor (sic) in Missouri, is no stranger to scandal, having gone through an affair, a public divorce and remarriage under the scrutiny of the press.
The story now reads:
Rep. Roy Blunt, the former House Majority Leader who is now a GOP candidate for governor in Missouri, is no stranger to scandal, having gone through a public divorce and remarriage under the scrutiny of the press.
So, why was the story changed when it is demonstrably true that Blunt did have an affair with a tobacco lobbyist who would go on to become his current wife?
Confronted by the progressive blogosphere and folks on Twitter, Charlie Spiering, The Examiner's online community manager, posted the following on his Twitter profile:
A "correction"? For something that's true? We've seen a lot here at Media Matters but this takes the wedding cake.
By the way, it's nice to know the Examiner apparently has a policy of not letting its readers know when a story has been corrected. You'd think they would at least put something at the end of the article noting what the error was and that it's been fixed. But, I guess since there was no error this is to be expected?
If it were the old days, you could almost picture Politico reporters and editors standing around the fax machine anxiously awaiting the latest "news" from the RNC. Today, I picture a place where eager staffers want to be the first to dash through the newsroom announcing the new RNC press release has arrived via email.
The latest RNC talking point, heralded as news by Politico:
Seeking to avoid the legislative minutia that has consumed some of his predecessors, President Barack Obama is pushing his agenda through Congress by outlining a broad vision of his policy goals and then letting lawmakers fill in the blanks.
Republicans would like to make him pay for that.
GOP leaders on Capitol Hill see in Obama's approach a chance to paint the young president as disengaged from the work required to address the country's ills.
In my column this week I looked at the terrain of the media landscape faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans noting, in part:
...despite increased public acceptance and the passage of some basic legal protections, not only is sexual orientation still a taboo for many in the media, all too often it serves as a focal point for hate, ridicule, and misinformation.
Looking back now, I should have also noted that, in addition to the "taboo," "hate, ridicule, and misinformation," LGBT Americans regularly face something far more insidious in the media: silence.
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which are largely credited with sparking the modern LGBT civil rights movement. For those unfamiliar with this seminal moment in gay history (I don't blame you, so little attention has been paid to the event by the media) here's the gist of it from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:
[In 1969], there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting "gay power."
Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd. For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city.
In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a city-wide newspaper called Gay. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
Well, according to a search of TVeyes.com and Nexis, scant attention this week has been paid by the media to this historic civil rights anniversary.
CABLE NEWS: Since Monday, TVeyes.com turns up exactly four mentions of Stonewall on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business News, MSNBC and CNBC. All four mentions occurred on the June 23 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
NETWORK NEWS (Morning Shows/Nightly News): Since Monday, TVeyes.com hasn't turned up a single mention of Stonewall on ABC's Good Morning America or World News, CBS' Early Show or Evening News, or NBC's Today Show or Nightly News. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
MAJOR NEWSPAPERS: Since Monday, a search of Nexis turns up 2 stories discussing Stonewall in any substantive way printed in America's top ten daily newspapers – USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Arizona Republic. A search of these newspapers' websites confirm the results. What exactly did these publications print about the anniversary?
USA Today: Nothing
Wall Street Journal: Nothing
New York Times: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about the lack of a national leader in the gay right's movement.
Los Angeles Times: Nothing
New York Daily News: Two good stories about the Stonewall anniversary.
Washington Post: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Chicago Tribune: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about a senior center for gay seniors.
Houston Chronicle: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Arizona Republic: Nothing
Of America's top ten daily newspapers, only the New York Daily News spent much time at all discussing the Stonewall anniversary this week – the rest either make passing reference with little context or, worse yet, print nothing at all.
So, the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has been granted one cable news segment and 2 print stories this week. Surely such an historic milestone merits more serious attention, not just from cable and network news outlets but from newspapers as well.
UPDATE: It's nice to see the AARP doing so much with its various media arms to commemorate Stonewall.
UPDATE 2: Newsweek.com has a good package up on Stonewall. Hopefully they'll follow suit with something equally substantive in the print edition.
At Media Matters, we have noted media coverage of conservative attacks against Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor for supposedly being outside the mainstream or an activist, attacks that are often based on misrepresentations of Sotomayor's record. Rather than simply parroting these attacks, the public would be better served if the media reported that one justice on the Supreme Court has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be out of the Court's mainstream: Justice Clarence Thomas. Indeed, perhaps the media should be asking how progressive a new nominee has to be in order to counterbalance Thomas.
In recent days, Thomas has disagreed with all eight of his colleagues on two extremely important issues. On Monday, Justice Thomas asserted that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 5 requires that certain jurisdictions -- including several southern states -- with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices seek permission from the Justice Department or the courts before changing their voting laws. The Justice Department or the court has to ensure that the contemplated change in voting practices does not have a discriminatory purpose or effect. No other justice besides Thomas was willing to take the step of declaring the law -- which was reauthorized nearly unanimously by Congress in 2006 -- unconstitutional. But Justice Thomas was.
And that was just Justice Thomas' warm-up for the week. Today, the court dealt with the constitutionality of a school administrator's strip search of Savana Redding, a 13-year-old girl, after another girl accused her of giving out prescription-strength ibuprofen and over-the-counter Naproxen. Eight justices held that the strip search, which did not turn up any drugs, violated the Constitution's ban on "unreasonable searches."
But not Justice Thomas. In fact, Justice Thomas called the other justices' actions a "deep intrusion into the administration of public schools." He also listed examples of people who had concealed drugs in their underpants (almost all of them adults) as vindication for his view that the strip search was not unreasonable, saying that "Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments." He added: "Nor will she be the last after today's decision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school." Recall that Redding did not actually have "pills in her undergarments."
This is nothing new for Thomas. For instance, in 2004, eight justices held that Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen held in a brig in South Carolina after being declared an enemy combatant by President Bush, had the right to file a habeas corpus petition in federal court to challenge his detention. Thomas dissented, again without any colleagues joining him. Thomas asserted: "This detention falls squarely within the Federal Government's war powers, and we lack the expertise and capacity to second-guess that decision." Thus, Thomas believed that in time of war the president had the power to lock up American citizens without any "second-guess[ing]."
Rather than just cover the back and forth between Democrats and Republicans on the Sotomayor nomination, the media have a real chance to educate the American public about the justices and what effect a new justice might have on the court. The media can begin this process by noting how out of step Thomas is with his other colleagues.