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.
Yesterday, we detailed how WorldNetDaily has repeatedly made the false claim that Obama administration appointee Kevin Jennings "counseled a 15-year-old student to keep quiet about being seduced by an older man." The student was 16 at the time, and there's no evidence that Jennings told the student to "keep quiet."
So asks Salon's Glenn Greenwald. (I'm going with the former.)
Not only does he effectively eviscerate Carlon's Daily Beast column, but Greenwald also speaks the necessary truth regarding the WH/Fox News dispute and the nearly uniform response from The Village:
There has been a horde of media figures rushing to condemn the Obama administration merely for criticizing Fox's "reporting." Many of these same media figures -- probably most -- were silent in the face not only of identical Bush White House attacks on reporters they disliked, but far more serious and actual threats to press freedom over the last eight years.
Time reporter Jay Newton-Small insists it isn't her job to tell you which of two contradictory factual claims is true and which is false, claiming "I presented both sides of the story. I'll leave it to columnists and readers to draw their own conclusions on who had the best case."
Time reporter Michael Scherer fact-checks a DNC fundraising email and tells readers it contains a falsehood: "Biden got one big fact wrong. It is not true that 'powerful insurance companies' have been 'spending seven million bucks a week on lobbyists.'"
Maybe someone could explain to me when it's ok to fact-check statements and when that would be "slanted."
(For the record: I prefer Scherer's approach...)
As in, "Some would say that Fox News hosts encouraged the so-called tea party movement."
Really, just "some would say that"? That seems odd because the notion that Fox News hosts have encouraged the so-called tea party movement isn't even in question. I mean, the hosts have been doing that for months, like, while cameras are rolling. The hosts have been doing it all year. Unapologetically and relentless on live national television.
Yet NPR seems unsure whether it wants to acknowledge that fact, so it poses the question as something of riddle. i.e. "Some would say" that, but not everybody.
The truth is that the Fox News team, not just the opinion hosts, have been promoting and have "encouraged" the tea party movement this year. But if NPR isn't even comfortable suggesting the hosts have done that, there's no way they're going to report that the entire Fox News team has been doing the same. That might seem controversial because, of course, news teams aren't supposed to be in the business or promoting partisan political rallies, so NPR begs off that fact.
This is one reason it's proving impossible to have a factual discussion about Fox News' new role in the media landscape. It's impossible because so many journalists seem to have no idea what Fox News is doing day in and day out.
Fact: Fox News hosts have encouraged the tea party movement.
Fact: The entire Fox News team has encouraged the tea party movement.
Why is that so difficult for NPR to acknowledge?
Here's Politico's Mike Allen, in his article about Fox boss Roger Ailes supposedly weighing a presidential campaign:
It was Ailes who recently held a private meeting with top White House adviser David Axelrod to ease tensions. The meeting was not a success.
Shortly after, the White House stepped up its attack on Fox - and Fox has proudly fired back.
Fox executives are relishing the public spat - so much so that virtually every on-air personality talks about it, and Sean Hannity has made it a central part of his show's promo.
The biggest reason: ratings at Fox are through the roof.
Allen doesn't provide any evidence that ratings are, in fact, "through the roof." And as Eric noted this morning, it isn't actually true.
This is something you see often -- a reporter wants to justify the media's behavior, or suggest that politicians' criticism is backfiring, so they claim ratings are up. But they don't actually provide the numbers. They just assert it. It's weird -- it's as if reporters think ratings are a matter of opinion, and you can just assert what you think must be happening.
Oh, so close. I almost got a member of the right-wing media to address the the Rush Limbaugh 2009 quote about how Americans are being told to "bend over," "grab the ankles" and hope Obama succeeds because of his "father was black."
I first issued the challenge on Monday because all last week, as Rush Limbaugh's NFL bid crashed and burned thanks to a football league that wanted nothing to do with his hate speech, Limbaugh and the Dittoheads stomped their feet and claimed Rush had no history of making race-baiting comments. None. Which is like saying Glenn Beck doesn't dabble in conspiracy theories. (Paging OnStar!)
So I challenged the right-wing to address the "grab the ankles" quote and explain exactly what Limbaugh meant by the comment (what mental image he was trying to paint for Dittoheads), and why the rest of us shouldn't consider it to be a race-baiting quote.
But alas, Graham's effort was more like a check swing:
Most people would agree that "slavery had its merits" and "hurray, Martin Luther King's assassin" are not in the same universe of racial remarks as "bend over because Obama's father was black." You can be turned off by the last one, but it doesn't suggest blacks deserved slavery or assassination.
But what does it suggest Tim? What does bend-over-and-grab-your-ankles-because-Obama's-father-was-black mean? Grraham doesn't want to go there and I think I know why.
So after a week of beseeching Dittoheads to address the Limbaugh quote head-on, they've all refused. Yet they continue to cling to the Dittohead fantasy that there's no proof that Limbaugh's a race-baiter.
P.S. The central point of Graham's very angry piece (dude, let the whole NFL thing go) is a hollow attempt to tie Media Matters to the two race-baiting quotes that were attributed to Limbaugh during the NFL debate; quotes Limbaugh insists he never made. (i.e. The "slavery" and "assassin" quotes.) The problem for Graham is nobody at Media Matters ever suggested Limbaugh said those things. (Note to Newsbusters: it pays to have a crack research staff.) Graham wants Media Matters to apologize for quotes that nobody at Media Matters ever cited in original reporting. He wants Media Matters to apologize for quotes some big city sportswriters used in their columns.
I ask because the ironclad Beltway CW this week has been that the White House's decision to fact-check Fox News has been a huge tactical mistake, partly because it will simply spike Fox News' ratings.
"Beck and O'Reilly were nearly orgiastic. Every presidential harrumph sends their ratings through the roof," announced columnist Michael Wolff. (He mocked the the anti-Fox News as being "ass-backward.") And trust me, everyone has been hitting that note this week about the sure-fire ratings boon for Fox News. It's an automatic.
But if that's true, shouldn't the White House attacks on Fox News be driving up Glenn Beck, the channel's hottest hitter, ratings-wise? Shouldn't Beck's Nielsen overnights be shooting into the stratosphere, climbing maybe 20, 30, even 40 percent, thanks to the PR bonanza that the White House gift wrapped the channel?
Well, guess what? Glenn Beck ratings are not up this week. In fact, they're down as compared to last week even though the topic of the White House/Fox News fueled has exploded this week across the media landscape. All the pundits who announced the White House completely screwed up by fact-checking Fox News, were sure Fox News' ratings were going to soar. Except they haven't. Instead, they've gone down this week.
Last week, Beck's show averaged 2.9 million viewers, which is consistent with the viewership Beck has been drawing for several weeks now. So far this week, the show is drawing 2.6 million viewers. It's a small dip, to be sure. But again, the pundits have been in heated agreement that the Fox News ratings were going to skyrocket thanks to the administration's obvious blunder. But Beck's ratings certainly have not. And overall, Fox News' total day audience has also dipped slightly, from 1.4 million last week, to 1.3 million so far this week.
So I'll ask again, why are Glenn Beck ratings down this week?
UPDATED: For additional context, two week's ago, prior to the public White House/Fox News dispute, Glenn Beck averaged 2.6 million viewers, which is what he's averaging so far this week. In other words, since the controversy erupted, and since pundits announced it would produce a huge ratings gain, Glenn Beck's numbers haven't changed much.