As the MSM commentary of the Fox News/WH 'debate' continues to deaden the senses, with its now almost comical uniformity of how horribly wrong the administration is for fact-checking Fox News, the Los Angeles Times' Tim Rutten's belated, yet predictable, entry to the genre caught our attention if only for this passage:
Even though the White House is right on the merits when it describes Fox News as operating mainly as a surrogate for the Republican Party, making an issue of that fact is a tactical mistake.
Are you following? Rutten comes right out and concedes that the White House is right on the facts; that Fox News is not a legitimate source of journalism. In fact, according to the newspaper's columnist, Fox News consists of "long stretches of editorial comment, conservative and pro-Republican, interspersed with snippets of normative reporting."
Wow. That's exactly the point the White House has been making. But Rutten isn't interested in holding the news media outlet accountable for his unprofessional brand of partisan reporting. Rutten, like virtually every pundits on the planet, is sure it's the White House that's out of line with its critique.
Incredibly, Rutten agrees with the critique. Rutten agrees that Fox News is essentially a propaganda outlet for the RNC. Rutten just doesn't think it made sense tactically for the White House to highlight that fact publicly.
UPDATED: Talk about ironic. At the bottom of his piece, Rutten sets aside a paragraph to say nice things about the recently deceased Jack Nelson, who served as the LA Times' Washington, D.C. bureau chief and, as Rutten properly points out, "was the paper's public face." Rutten praised the esteemed Nelson as "one of the journalists who set the standards we all aspired to match."
It's true. Nelson was an old school pro who scored scoops for the newspaper during Beltway journalism's glory days of the 1970's, and then helped steer the daily for decades after that. Rutten especially admired Nelson's "passion for truth and decency."
Passion for truth and decency? This, of course, after Rutten finishes up a column in which he condemns the WH for highlighting Fox News' lack of truth and decency. I have no idea what Nelson thought of Fox News, and especially its unmanageably partisan incarnation of 2009. But the notion that legendary newsroom vets like Nelson would latch onto today's CW and needlessly cover for Murdoch's cable cabal seems unlikely to me.
The New York Times reports:
Instead of being simply a draw for Hispanic viewers, CNN's four-hour documentary, "Latino in America," turned into a political rallying cry for activist groups who are calling on the cable news channel to fire Lou Dobbs, a veteran anchor with well-known views on immigration.
Isabel Garcia, a civil rights lawyer who was featured in "Latino in America" and organized an anti-Dobbs protest in Tucson on Wednesday, said that CNN edited her comments about the anchor out of an interview.
During the taped interview Wednesday, she said she made several unprompted comments about Mr. Dobbs.
She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs "the two most dangerous men to our communities," and said that "because of them, our communities are being terrorized in a real way." She also asserted that CNN was "promoting lies and hate about our community" by broadcasting Mr. Dobbs's program. The comments were not included when the interview was shown Wednesday night.
"They heavily deleted what I did get to say," she said.
Ben Armbruster of Think Progress notes:
This isn't the first time CNN has circled the wagons around Dobbs. Earlier this year, Dobbs was one of the most prominent mainstream media figures pushing the conspiracy theory that President Obama may not have been born in the U.S. Dobbs repeatedly called on Obama to "produce a birth certificate" and said it's "unfortunate" that the birthers have been "dismissed." Despite Dobbs' hysteria and playing on "escalating white fear," CNN president Jonathan Klein downplayed Dobbs' antics, claiming the CNN anchor was merely reporting on the birther "phenomenon" and had simply asked why "some people doubt" Obama's citizenship.
Unlike the Times, The Washington Post has not yet reported on CNN's decision to edit out Garcia's criticism of Dobbs. But the Post employs Howard Kurtz, the nation's most prominent media critic, so I'm sure they're on the case and will soon run a comprehensive report.
Yes, it's true Kurtz has a conflict of interest in that he also works for CNN. And he's pulled his punches when dealing with CNN and Dobbs in the past, refusing to criticize -- or even mention -- CNN president Jonathan Klein's defense of Dobbs' Birther nonsense.
But surely someone at the Post has had a good long talk with Kurtz about his conflict of interest, and he won't let it get in the way of his coverage of CNN and Dobbs this time, right? I mean, it can't be the case that the Washington Post doesn't mind one of their star reporters taking a pass on stories that are embarrassing to a company he's assigned to cover -- while also being paid by that company. Can it?
Will Newsbusters' Tim Graham demand Limbaugh apologize??
As Simon Maloy detailed yesterday, Limbaugh spent a portion of show hyping a clearly fabricated story about non-existent college thesis that Obama wrote in college. This was the right-wing money quote form the bogus thesis:
"The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
As CF noted, the entire right-wing blog story was a made-up hoax. (Shocking, I know.)
But here's the best part. It was just a week ago that Limbaugh and Dittohead Nation threw itself a pity party because, during Limbaugh's failed NFL bid, a couple of racist quotes were attributed to the talker; quotes that he denied ever making. He was going to sue!
At the time I noted the deep irony:
Hmm, suddenly, Limbaugh doesn't like being on the other end of misinformation? Suddenly he's demanding folks back up and source all their information, in a way that he almost never does?
Well, what do you know. Just one week after Limbaugh's pity party to commemorate how some nasty people made up two quotes and falsely attributed them to him, Limbaugh was back doing what Limbaugh does, hyping bogus quotes and falsely attributing them to Obama.
In fact, even after Limbaugh found out the quotes were likely bogus, he kept repeating them on the air.
How does Tim Graham sleep at night knowing Leader Limbaugh peddles fabricated quotes?
I was getting nervous because the topic has been bubbling up for almost two weeks, virtually every Beltway media elite had weighed in and they all thought it was just a terrible idea to fact-check Fox News' blatant falsehoods, and yet still not a peep from Time's Joe Klein.
Well, that silence has been broken, and it's now official. Time's Joe Klein officially agrees with virtually every other political pundit on the planet: fact-checking Fox News is a really, really bad idea.
Good to know.
UPDATED: Double phew! The CW-loving Sally Quinn has also weighed in on the White House's "war" against Fox News. Guess what? Hates it! In fact, "everybody" in D.C. thinks it's "dumb"; "absolutely crazy." And Quinn likens it to Watergate.
Am I the only one who feels like we're watching a mini-Clinton impeachment reunion among the media elites, where everyone proudly proclaims the exact same opinion that the Democratic White House is nuts?
UPDATED: Quinn: "I've talked to my colleagues and other politicians."
So now Quinn's a polician?
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 October 23 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
As I noted yesterday, thin-skinned Jamison Foser of Media Matters wrote Oct. 16 that "some conservative activists induced a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees to behave badly." [emphasis added]
So far ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Philadelphia have been shown on video behaving badly. On all the videos, ACORN personnel have been cooperative and helpful to the make-believe pimp and prostitute.
So far ACORN personnel in six offices have acted badly. That's six out of six, or 100%.
What are the chances of that happening?
This is -obviously- not statistically insignificant.
Actually, in statistics when a phenomenon keeps repeating itself over and over again and you're batting 1000, it's called a "trend."
Ok. First of all, it isn't "batting 1000," it's "batting 1.000." See, when you divide a number by itself, you don't get 1000 -- you get 1.
Now: I referred to "a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees" -- not "a statistically-insignificant number of the organization's offices." Vadum knows this; he quoted it. He even took the time to bold part of it. He just didn't take a moment to comprehend it.
So this whole business of "six out of six" is completely irrelevant to anything. If you have six offices, each of which contain 10,000 employees, and each of which employs one person who robs a bank, is it accurate to say a statistically-significant number of your employees robs banks? Of course not. It's utter nonsense.
Now, this next part is awesome:
With the release of the Philadelphia video Wednesday, let's add up the total number of ACORN employees behaving badly.
Unless I'm leaving somebody out:
Baltimore (2): Shera Williams and Tonja Thompson
Washington, D.C. (3): Sherona Boone, Lavernia Boone, unidentified woman
New York City (2): Volda Albert and Milagros Rivera
San Bernardino (1): Tresa Kaelke
San Diego (1): Juan Carlos Vera
Philadelphia (1): Katherine Conway Russell
That's a total of 10 ACORN employees. Of the 10 ACORN employees videotaped, all 10 have acted badly. That's 100% too.
Uh, Matt? Why would you assume that tapes have been released of every employee they talked to? That's utter nonsense. If I videotape 100 people who know Matt Vadum, and 10 of them say he's an idiot, and I release videotape of only those 10 people, then say "See? That's 10 of 10 people videotaped! 100%" ... Well, if I did that, I'd be a dishonest hack. And if you just assumed that I released videotape of everyone I talked to, you'd be a sucker.
Eventually, Vadum seems to realize he's going to have to actually address the total number of ACORN employees:
ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis told "Democracy Now!" Sept. 17 that ACORN has 700 employees.
Assuming Lewis is telling the truth (which is a very risky assumption to make given her proven mendacity) then 1.4% of ACORN's workforce has been shown on video behaving badly.
Of course 1.4% is not as impressive a sample as 8.4% but it is certainly not small.
He's asking people to believe that the 100% of the 10 ACORN employees (representing 1.4% of ACORN's total workforce) shown in videos behaving badly is a statistically insignificant fluke.
Oooh, ooh! Let me try ... OK, I'll take a sample of the Senate Republican caucus ... Let's go with David Vitter. White guy, from the South, conservative -- he's pretty representative. And he constitutes a whopping 2.5% of the caucus. Oh, wow -- I just realized that 100% of the Senate Republicans chosen (representing 2.5% of all Senate Republicans) has been caught using the services of a prostitute! Surely this cannot be a statistically insignificant fluke!
Isn't it fun to do math the Matthew Vadum way?
Fun -- and utterly stupid.
For somebody who still worships Ronald Reagan and is always lecturing Democrats about how they need to project a more sunny view of the world, Noonan this week latches onto a disturbingly dark view of America in 2009:
It's His Rubble Now: And the American people want him to fix it.
You can just feel the disdain seeping through the WSJ headline. And here's the nut graph from her column [emphasis added]:
President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he's standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him.
Is it me, or does Noonan almost seem to be hoping for more bad news? Like other conservative commentators, Noonan seems to relish the idea of higher unemployment numbers so she can blame the White House.
Thankfully, not all Americans share Noonan's dour and defeatist right-wing view of the world under Obama.
MSNBC headline today:
Home sales rise 9.4 percent in September: 'There's a mini-boom going on in the housing market,' pollster says
From The Atlantic:
Existing Home Sales Soared In September
From Washington Post:
Home sales jump 9.4 percent to highest level in two years
I just hope these good-news headlines don't ruin Noonan's day.
This morning, Media Matters President Eric Burns was a guest Joe Scarborough's syndicated radio show. The discussion focused on Fox News, with Eric providing ample evidence detailing the network's transition into a pure political organization, as well as explaining the difference between Fox News and stations like Scarborough's own MSNBC. Take a listen below:
Yesterday, Eric authored an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post outlining the numerous political activities Fox engages in, as well as analyzing the threat it represents to both the progressive agenda and the field of journalism itself.
For more information on The Joe Scarborough Show, click here.
It really gets to be pretty pathetic sometimes, watching the conservatives grasp at every straw they can in order to attack and discredit a president they don't like.
If you listened to Rush Limbaugh today or visited Fox Nation, then you might have heard about President Obama's supposed college thesis in which the college-aged commander in chief allegedly wrote: "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
Now, you might be thinking: "Wait a minute, I thought conservatives didn't like Obama's elusive thesis because it was on nuclear disarmament." Well, this is a different thesis, it would seem, and blogger Michael Ledeen wrote about it two days ago:
I missed this first time around. Brian Lancaster at Jumping in Pools reported on Obama's college thesis, written when he was at Columbia. The paper was called "Aristocracy Reborn," and in the first ten pages (which were all that reporter Joe Klein -- who wrote about it for Time -- was permitted to see).
So Ledeen sources this bombshell to another, more obscure conservative blogger, who wrote -- back on August 25, mind you -- that Time's Joe Klein had seen Obama's damning thesis and was going to report on it for "an upcoming special edition about the President." No indication was given as to how this obscure blogger came to know that one of America's premiere journalists had obtained this information. There was no indication as to how this blogger was able to quote material only Klein had had access to. Oh, and let's not forget that this very same blogger was busted by PolitiFact.com for fabricating stories about President Obama.
But hey, why speculate on whether it's true or not? Let's go to the source. Mr. Klein? "A report is circulating among the wingnuts that I had a peek at Barack Obama's senior thesis. It is completely false. I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."
This story is fake and falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Corrections and apologies are due from Ledeen, Limbaugh, and Fox Nation, but if you believe you'll get an apology from pathological liars of that sort, then you're more gullible than they are.
UPDATE: Very well-hidden at the bottom of the Jumping in Pools blog post that started all this stupidity is a "satire" tag:
LATER UPDATE: It gets even better -- according to the PolitiFact article that called out the Jumping in Pools blogger, Matthew Avitabile, for making up outlandish Obama stories:
Avitabile, a Republican who had previously poked fun at Obama with a tongue-in-cheek article that said scientists had determined that he was "genetically superior," is thankful for all the traffic it generated for his blog Jumping in Pools. In the past he was lucky to get 1,000 hits on a story, but this one got more than 50,000. Yet he's disappointed that so many people published his work without verifying it.
"Out of the 50,000 who looked at it, only three had the good sense to contact me and see if it was true," he told us (PolitiFact was one of the three).
Avitabile described himself as a moderate Republican - "I'm pro-gay rights, pro-wind energy" - but said he was surprised that so many in his party had such negative feelings about Obama.
"People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much that they would go with it without checking it," he said.