From an Oct. 5 Associated Press article:
Upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose said Monday it was pulling its advertisements from Fox News in the U.K. after customers complained about the cable news channel's Glenn Beck program.
The popular and controversial talk show host is already the target of a boycott campaign in the United States after he accused President Barack Obama of harboring "a deep-seated hatred for white people."
Waitrose, known for its upmarket fare and focus on organic foods, said in a statement it was responding to customer concerns, and that the move was not politically motivated.
The wide coverage afforded to Beck's tirade against the U.S. president and the subsequent boycott campaign has also been noticed in Britain - where Fox owner Rupert Murdoch controls a powerful news and broadcasting empire.
Color of Change, the group which has lobbied advertisers to steer clear of Beck's show, claims that about 80 U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have deserted the pugnacious television host.
Last month The Independent newspaper quoted James Rucker, Color of Change's executive director, as urging British companies to put similar pressure on Fox in the U.K., where it is broadcast by British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC - a satellite TV service 39 percent owned by Murdoch's News Corp.
Although most U.S. companies who have dropped Beck's program still continue to advertise on other segments of Fox News, Waitrose spokesman James Armstrong said the company was pulling out of the channel as a whole.
He declined to say how much money was involved in the ad deal, calling the information commercially sensitive. Sky Broadcasting, which looks after Fox News advertising sales in Britain, did not provide a figure either.
As Joe Conason notes in his Salon column, during the 1990's reporter Christopher Ruddy, cheered on by his boss Richard Melon Scaife, became something of a one-man, right-wing clearing house for all kinds of hateful and misleading attacks on the new Democratic president [emphasis added]:
Working at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, owned by billionaire and avowed Clinton foe Richard Mellon Scaife, Ruddy popularized the canard that Foster had not committed suicide, as determined by five official investigations, but more likely had been murdered -- possibly to cover up corruption in the Whitewater land deal or because of an illicit affair with Hillary Rodham Clinton or both.
Beyond spreading paranoia about the Foster tragedy, Ruddy and Scaife both played central roles in the distribution of nearly half a million copies of "The Clinton Chronicles" and other covert machinations against the Clinton White House –- most notably the "Arkansas Project," a $2.4 million scheme to dig up or invent crimes by the president and first lady, with assistance from several unsavory characters, including die-hard segregationist Jim Johnson, a couple of private detectives and a bait-shop owner.
Virtually none of that Ruddy/Scaife-sponsored nonsense ever panned out. And now, 15 years later, the two are forces behind Newsmax, which (surprise!) has become a clearing house for all kinds of hateful and misleading attacks on the new Democratic president.
Ruddy was among the most insistent endorsers of the Obama birth certificate myth, playing much the same role he once did during the Vince Foster affair. He has assiduously promoted the "tea party" movement and the "socialism" meme. When Newsmax published an essay by an obscure former newsman that seemed to urge a military coup against Obama last week (and then removed it), the reverberations were felt across the political spectrum. Every day the site blasts forth a barrage of supposed Obama scandals and embarrassments to be amplified by Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the panoply of talk radio and cable megaphones, knowing that by sheer volume, some of it will stick.
Here's the kicker though. In today's Washington Post, Ruddy concedes that his often hysterical reporting during the Clinton years was bogus. He confesses he was "overzealous" and "over the top" in his partisan Clinton hunting. In fact, Ruddy now considers Clinton to have been "a great president."
So why on earth would anyone take seriously a single word published in the Obama-hating Newsmax publication if in ten or fifteen years Ruddy is just going to turn around and admit he'd been a bit "over the top." Meaning, Ruddy and Scaife built their journalism 'reputations," as they were, on mindless Clinton pursuit and were caught peddling dark fantasies; fantasies that Ruddy admits were bogus.
Now the two are doing the exact same thing with regards to Obama via Newsmax, and we're supposed to expect different results?
As Eric Boehlert pointed out earlier today, a significant fissure is opening up on the Right. The increasing influence of extremists like Fox News' Glenn Beck and radio host Rush Limbaugh has shaken more mainstream conservatives who are searching for a new set of leaders -- and the conservative establishment is lashing out. Consider some of the recent comments from prominent conservative media personalities and elected officials:
These are just a few examples of a serious trend. Right-wing media figures are now routinely attacking each other's tactics and relevancy. On Friday, Brooks (nonsensically) dedicated an entire column to explaining why conservative media leaders like Beck and Limbaugh are not worthy of attention. He argued that we are once again witnessing "the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche -- even of the Republican Party." It's a point he made several weeks earlier, when he said that "[i]f the Republican Party is sane, they will say no to these people." Beck, in turn, responded by reading Brooks' editorial on the air and mocking the idea that he was the overlord of thoughtless, right-wing radio audiences who will "kill people because we tell you to." Feeling defensive, Glenn?
Numerous other conservatives are speaking out as well, with Beck taking a good deal of the heat. On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said to Fox News' Bret Baier that Beck "doesn't represent the Republican Party," adding, "You can listen to him if you like. I choose not to, because quite frankly, I don't want to go down the road of thinking our best days are behind us."
On September 22, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough went after Beck specifically. "You need to call out this type of hatred, because it always blows up in your face," he said. "You cannot preach hatred. You cannot say the president's a racist. You cannot stir up things that could have very deadly consequences."
Peter Wehner, a former Bush speechwriter and a regular blogger for Commentary, wrote in September that the content of Beck's broadcasts "should worry the conservative movement," and that some of his attacks "are quite unfair and not good for the country." Another former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, has employed even harsher language:
Glenn Beck is not the first to make a pleasant living for himself by reckless defamation. We have seen his kind before in American journalism and American politics, and the good news is that their careers never last long. But the bad news is that while their careers do last, such people do terrible damage.
The View's Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Charles Johnson of the popular conservative blog Little Green Footballs, and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) have all offered similar assessments. Even Mark Levin himself seems to dislike Beck and has called him "mindless," "incoherent," "pandering," and "pathetic."
It will be very interesting to watch the growing disharmony on the Right play out. But for now, it wouldn't be too surprising if the ego-driven, media-led conservative movement continued forming its firing squad into a circle.
The rather vague phrase appears in a Journal news article about the rise of Dick Armey's conservative group, Freedom Works, which has tapped into the right-wing Tea Party movement [emphasis added]:
The growing movement has turned off some high-profile conservative voices, such as former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, who worry that raucous displays and occasionally extreme language risk alienating moderates.
What exactly are those "raucous displays" and bouts of "extreme language" that have powered the anti-Obama movement this year? The Journal is dutifully mum. And that's the way so many players within the Beltway press corps prefer it. Rather than illustrating and/or explaining the type of wild, radical rhetoric that's now front and center in the conservative movement, lots of journalists play down the communist/racist/Nazi rhetoric, and they certainly don't detail or quote it. Not even in a single sentence was set aside in the Journal article to spell out today's rampant hate speech.
All readers need to know is pieces of it have been "extreme" and "raucous." Nothing more. That way, the whole anti-Obama movement seems much more mainstream, which allows the political press to treat it seriously.
UPDATED: I have to chuckle at the notion in the Journal article that some conservatives are anxious that the anti-Obama brigade is in danger of alienating "moderates." Like moderate Democrats? Like independent voters might--just -might--be turned off by the incessant communist/racist/Nazi Obama hate? That seems like a stretch. Truth is, Frum and company seem to be afraid that the hate crew is so radical and so unhinged that it's going to alienate conservatives (i.e. Republican voters), let alone moderates or independents.
Today's Washington Post features another installment of "Topic A," the "occasional feature in which The Post asks for first impressions on a hot topic." Today's "hot topic" is "Sotomayor's First Term," and The Post published "first impressions" from four conservatives and three liberals. (And of the four conservatives, only one was given a bio line that made his leanings clear, while only one of the liberals was ambiguous.)
Four conservatives to three liberals actually isn't that bad, considering The Post's recent track record. The paper doesn't make it easy to find archived "Topic A" features, so I may be missing one, but by my count the last three installments have featured a total of 14 conservatives and 8 liberals.
This, of course, is more proof that The Post needs to pay more attention to conservatives.
The Nation's Ari Melber takes a look at the fight between Fox News' Glenn Beck and New York Times columnist David Brooks:
Perhaps we still do not understand the current Obama backlash.
David Brooks caused a small stir on Friday by arguing that conservative radio hosts are, paradoxically, a lot like well-behaved children. They are seen – splashed across magazine covers and endlessly profiled – but not heard, politically, since they do not swing elections.
"The talk jocks can't even deliver the conservative voters who show up at Republican primaries," Brooks observed, reminiscing about how McCain's media detractors could not stop him in South Carolina last year.
After the summer of townhalls and what's shaping up as the autumn of Glenn Beck, however, it is hard to see things through Brooks' bifocals. Besides, as the top conservative at the Times and an alumnus of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, Brooks is peering out from within the conservative media ecosystem. He is, unavoidably, in direct competition for opinion leadership with the "talk jocks" he knocks. Which makes it especially odd for him to apply an electioneering metric to opinion media.
It is no accident that the two biggest forces countering the new President do not practice electoral politics. The opposition party may whither, but there is still the movement and the man. Both have the Obama administration's attention.
There were few signs for alternative policies, let alone the alternative political party. The same is true, naturally, for their leader.
Glenn Beck has a long list of concerns about the country's direction. Yet since Obama's election, his most successful efforts have focused on attacking members of the administration and (putative) allies. He is trying to stop Obama, not jump-start the mid-terms.
By his own count, Beck began assailing Van Jones on July 23 and continued for weeks, up until the September 6 resignation. Fox aired hundreds of segments on Jones. Congressional Republicans, however, were less interested. In the past 9 months, Jones' name has only surfaced on the floor of Congress in eight instances (according to the Congressional Record). Brooks argues, however, that "Republican politicians" follow Beck at every turn:
Everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it... They pay more attention to Rush's imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer's niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician's coalition-building strategy.
Melber's piece is well worth reading in its entirety.
Can you say talking points? Somewhere inside the GOP, the message went out over the weekend that right-wing media and the "loons" on the AM dial don't speak for the party, or "real Americans."
Question: Was Friday's Chicago hate-fest the tipping point?
This is likely just a preview for the coming GOP civil war that will erupt in 2011 and 2012 surrounding the party's next presidential pick. Of course, what will be so fascinating to watch is that one side of the purely partisan debate will be led by media outlets. There will likely be a Fox News/talk radio candidate representing the far, far right.
UPDATED: Make that four. GOP strategist Mike Murphy over the weekend:
These radio guys can't deliver a pizza, let alone a nomination. And you can case study that out in the last election.
Almost 17 years ago, a paleoanthropologist was walking in the desert outside the town of Aramis, Ethiopia, and caught a glint of something among the pebbles and sand. That glinting object turned out to be the root of a fossilized molar, polished by the elements. Further digging turned up yet more bones -- a jaw, hands, a pelvis, feet, and a skull. The bones were hominin, like those of "Lucy," the world-famous Australopithecus afarensis skeleton discovered in Ethiopia in the 1970s. But these bones were about a million years older than Lucy's, extremely brittle, and in poor condition. A team of scientists and researchers spent nearly two decades using advanced technology to restructure the fossil fragments of this chimpanzee-sized creature called Ardipithecus ramidus, or "Ardi" for short.
That's the story told by the latest issue of Science (registration required), which devotes a huge chunk of the magazine to the long-awaited unveiling of Ardi, a primitive hominin female that spent part of her day climbing trees like a chimpanzee, and the other part walking upright like a human (or something close to it). She was able to perform this trick thanks to her feet, which had the stiffness required for bipedal motion, but also an opposable big toe used to grasp branches; and her pelvis, the upper parts of which are suitable for upright motion, but the lower parts of which are more ape-like. Researchers suspect that Ardi is an ancestor of Lucy -- who spent the entire day going about on two legs -- but have not yet confirmed that suspicion. Ardi's importance as a key to understanding human evolution, however, cannot be denied. As Science put it, Ardi is one of those discoveries that "reveals a whole chapter of our prehistory all at once."
Aside from the natural significance of Ardi's grand debut, it's fortuitous that she was unveiled just one month before the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. It's fortuitous because the copious documentation of the years-long scientific investigation into Ardi's bones stands in stark contrast to the cheap theatrics being employed by conservative activists looking to use the anniversary of Darwin's seminal work to reignite the "debate" over evolution.
Take, for instance, Ray Comfort, the New Zealand-born minister with no scientific training and a firm belief that bananas prove the existence of God. Comfort has decided to exploit both the public-domain status of On the Origin of Species and the gullibility of his fellow man by republishing his own edition of Darwin's tract that includes a 50-page introduction that connects Darwin to Hitler, exposes the "hoaxes" of evolution, and makes the case for "intelligent design." Next month, he and Kirk Cameron (the eldest son from the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains) are going to try and distribute 50,000 free copies of this Frankenstein edition of On the Origin of Species at 50 college campuses across America.
Comfort's cause has been heartily embraced by WorldNetDaily's Joe Farah, who also published Comfort's newest book, and whose disbelief in evolution is matched only by his disbelief in President Obama's citizenship. For a taste of Farah's scientific acumen, consider this passage from his column on Friday hyping Comfort's Darwin stunt: "Today, it is virtually impossible to escape being indoctrinated with evolutionary theory. I don't mean that evolution is taught as a theory. Just the opposite. It is taught as scientific doctrine, despite the fact that it is non-observable, non-testable and, frankly, nonsensical." Farah here is making an error common among evolution deniers -- that the word "theory" means conjecture and should be set apart from "scientific doctrine." When used in the scientific sense, "theory" means something that has been observed, tested, and affirmed, such as gravitational theory, cell theory, and, yes, evolutionary theory.
And that is why Ardi is so important -- she is another key piece of evidence upholding evolutionary theory, one of the many "transitional fossils" that Farah and his ilk insist don't exist. As Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy and his colleagues explained (registration required):
The pelvis, femur, and preserved thoracic elements of Ar. ramidus establish that adaptations to upright walking in these regions were well established by 4.4 Ma, despite retention of a capacity for substantial arboreal locomotion. Ar. ramidus thus now provides evidence on the long-sought locomotor transition from arboreal life to habitual terrestrial bipedality.
Translation: Ardi's bones show us how hominins went from swinging on tree branches to walking on two legs along the ground.
What will likely happen is that Comfort and Cameron will get a little bit of media buzz for their stunt, and the annoying hand-wringing and equivocating over the "two sides" of the evolution "debate" will begin anew. But the key thing to remember is that a few brittle bones pulled from the Ethiopian desert make a far more compelling case than 50 pages of Creationist drivel soldered to the front of one of humanity's greatest scientific achievements.
For the second straight week, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt devotes a column to claims that the paper's supposedly-inadequate responsiveness to right-wing yelling about ACORN proves that the paper demonstrates liberal bias. This time, Hoyt's hook is reader response to his previous column.
This latest column does show some improvement: This time, Hoyt went to the trouble of acknowledging that not everybody thinks the Times is biased in favor of liberals. That's quite an improvement. Still, glaring flaws remain, most notably that Clark Hoyt has yet again managed to get through an entire column about whether the Times demonstrates liberal bias without using the words "Iraq" or "Gore" or "Whitewater."
That's a bit like writing a column about whether the Atlantic Ocean is a desert without ever mentioning all the water.