I don't know if because Murdoch's the boss now, or because of staff cut backs, or because reporters and editors just don't care any more, but it's sad to watch the once proud and powerful news team reduced to being Politico-wannabe's, typing up absurd articles that, on their face, make no sense, and are made even worse by lazy execution.
That's another way of saying, this A1 article makes my head hurt:
A President as Micromanager: How Much Detail Is Enough?
Obama's bogged down in the details, suggest the Journal's Neil King and Jonathan Weisman, who even claim the president's intellectual curiosity is what's driving down his polling numbers. (I kid you not.)
Set aside the absurd premise of the article (don't Americans just hate it when the POTUS is familiar with the facts? See Dan Froomkin for more), and let's just look at the execution; the Journalism 101 involved.
First, if you're going to build an entire piece based on the sweeping generalization that Obama is getting lost in "the weeds," as Weisman says on an accompanying WSJ.com video interview, than the Journal ought to have tons of evidence to back it up. It ought be blindingly obvious that Obama is just up to his chin in useless facts in a way that no previous president was, right?
Wrong. The Journal provided exactly one fact to establish definitively that Obama is a micromanager. The smoking gun? Obama asks pointed questions during his morning meeting with economic advisers. (Busted!)
Next, the headline's use of "Micromanager" conjures up the image of not just somebody who's knee-deep in details, but someone who's unnecessarily meddling in the process; a president who's obsessively controlling. For that, the Journal produces zero anecdotes to back up its claim.
Note that Weisman and King also claim matter-of-factly that, "Many presidents have directed policy from on high, shunning the details of most issues." Really? Like whom? Did Wilson shun details? Truman? Bush Sr.? Clinton? Bush Jr.? I'd sure be interested in knowing which presidents basically ignored details and instead sort of acted as symbolic heads of state, which is what the Journal clearly suggests has been the White House norm for years.
And lastly, the duo took a swipe at Jimmy Carter:
A president's management style can set the tone for an administration. Jimmy Carter was a famed micromanager, often at odds with his own advisers, and he caught a lot of Beltway criticism for his focus on policy details.
Proof? Quotes? Anecdotes to back up that sweeping critique of Carter? The Journal can't be bothered. Just like it can't be bothered to substantiate it's loopy premise about how it's totally weird that the president is curious and well-informed and (gasp!) hands-on.
That's the word from the insurance giant, whose representative posted in the comment section of a Media Matters research item today [emphasis added]:
In response to inquiries concerning State Farm's recent advertisements in the Glenn Beck program, I want to clarify this situation.
We have a policy of not advertising on political or opinion programming. We have corrected this issue and have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again.
Understanding our millions of customers and thousands of associates hold a full spectrum of views on political issues, State Farm has a long-standing practice of not advertising in political discussion programming regardless of a program's political point of view.
Because of the recent situation, State Farm is now evaluating its commercial placement practices to ensure its political issues advertising guidelines are maintained.
State Farm Insurance
TPM has an interesting item about how the editor of National Review offered to help the Bush White House spin when controversy erupted over its attempt to promote woefully under-qualified White House partisan Tim Griffin to become Arkansas' new Attorney General. The ill-fated move was part of Karl Rove's reported purge of AG's who weren't sufficiently political in their prosecutions.
It looks like Rick Lowry of National Review offered the White House his services in doing some positive P.R. on behalf of Rove protege Tim Griffin, who the administration had sought to sought to muscle into the U.S. attorney job in Arkansas as a replacement for the fired Bud Cummins.
TPM quotes a recently uncovered January 2007 email, in which White House political director Sara Taylor wrote:
Your thoughts? Rich Lowry offered to help Tim
[Sen. Mark] Prior is going after Griffin. He's made this his cause.... We need to find some folks to defend Tim and his credentials, not to mention our policy.
It might be nice to find out from Lowry himself if the National Review was in the habit of farming out its writers to the Bush White House for spin control. Would hate to think there was some sort of vast right-wing conspiracy afoot.
On the August 10 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly "ha[d] a discussion whether" General Electric "is evil." Beck said, "I think there's a good chance":
GE ads have previously aired during Beck's Fox News show. From the July 10 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
Last week I noted that it was not out of bounds to tie the birther movement with the town hall mini-mobs; that it was not a "conflation" as Politico and others claimed, as they tried to ding Democrats for bringing the birthers into the town hall story.
And guess what? This week the good folks who attended the town hall forum hosted by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) pretty much proved my point when they roundly booed Specter's rather obvious observation that the President of the United States is "an American."
A Daily Kos diarist contacted the men's clothing chain and last night posted the response he received:
Thank you for contacting Men's Wearhouse and bringing to our attention your concerns with the Glenn Beck program on Fox News. While we support free speech and do not make advertising decisions based on our own personal ideologies, after reviewing his recent incendiary comments we have decided to remove our advertising from his program. We hope that this decision will allow you to continue to patronize Men's Wearhouse. I would encourage you to please share our decision with anyone else who may have expressed a similar concern.
Thank you again for contact Men's Wearhouse.
vp marketing/creative services
... Fantasizing about the Clintons' and their marriage.
Let's start with Dowd's description of Hillary Clinton's response to a question at a town hall in Africa:
Using tough hand gestures not seen since "The Sopranos" went off HBO, Hillary snapped back at an African college student who asked about the growing influence of China on Africa and then, according to the translator, wanted to know: "What does Mr. Clinton think?"
It turned out that the student was trying to ask how President Obama felt about it. But before he was able to clarify, the secretary of state flared: "Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state. I am."
Yeah, the Secretary of State looked just like a gang of murderous thugs. If, that is, you're a delusional columnist bent on portraying her in the worst possible light. Now, did Clinton "snap back" and "flare" before the student was able to clarify? Well, she "paused nearly nine seconds" before responding to the question. When was this clarification Dowd imagines going to come? Nine minutes after the question had been asked?
Speaking of the question, Dowd's paraphrase of it seems more innocuous than it really was. Clinton wasn't simply asked "What does Mr. Clinton think?" She was asked "We have all heard about Chinese contracts in this country, the interferences from the World Bank about this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?"
A little more understandable how someone would have a negative reaction to that wording, isn't it?
Back to Dowd:
[W]e all know Hillary could just as well have made the same comment in Paris. (And looking unhinged about your marriage on an international stage hardly empowers women.) She may have been steamed about Bill celebrating his upcoming 63rd birthday in Las Vegas with his posse. The Times's Adam Nagourney irritated Clinton Inc. when he reported that Bill went to the pricey Craftsteak restaurant at the MGM Grand HoteltMonday night with Hollywood moguls Steve Bing and Haim Saban, and former advisers Terry McAuliffe and Paul Begala, among others.
"Unhinged" is quite clearly a wild exaggeration. And does Maureen Dowd really expect us to believe Hillary Clinton's reaction was a result of being "steamed" that Bill Clinton celebrated his birthday at a "pricey" restaurant? Craftsteak surely is expensive, but I'm pretty sure the Clintons can afford it.
This is pure fantasy.
Wasn't Malkin's infamous, and creepy, 2007 Baltimore drive-by* bad enough? I guess not, because now Malkin's zeroing in on a young Massachusetts school girl. Why? Because she got to ask president Obama a question at a town hall forum. Bad idea! (She was an "in-the-tank questioner.") The girl may as well have painted a bull's eye on her back because Malkin and her online detective pals are takin' that kid down!!
Stay classy, Michelle.
And how much hate mail and how many angry phone calls to the house from wingnuts do you think the little girls' family is now going to receive thanks to Malkin's vilification? And all because the youngster participated in a town hall forum.
Malkin's larger point seemed to be that the Obama town hall wasn't diverse enough, and that too many Obama fans were in attendance. (i.e. It was all staged.) As HotAirPundit complained, "During the Town Hall at the end of Obama's speech nearly everyone gave Obama a standing ovation, on their feet clapping. This is propaganda 101."
Here's the friendly wager: If any reader can find a single example of Malkin or HotAirPundit ever leveling similarly pointed criticism of President Bush's town hall forums during his 2005 push to privatize Social Security -- town hall forums where Democrats were purposefully shut out or were even physically removed on the suspicion that they might disagree with the president -- then I'll send that reader a complimentary Media Matters bumper sticker.
But I'm not concerned about losing the wager because Malkin and HotAirPundit specialize in advertising their hypocrisy.
*I'm not using the "drive-by" phrase metaphorically the way Rush Limbaugh does. I'm using it literally. In 2007, Malkin drove all the way to Baltimore and cruised by the row house of a working class family -- she practically peered in their windows -- in an effort to undermine their public support for a federal insurance program designed to help poor kids.
Last week I sent an email to Sargento asking about their advertising on Fox News' Glenn Beck in light of Beck's comments about Speaker Pelosi. I received this response:
We deeply appreciate your reaching out to us and sharing your comments and concerns about Sargento ads appearing during "The Glenn Beck Show." We sat down with the marketing department to talk about it and I learned that we buy time periods not specific programs. But in any event, they've made the decision to exclude that program from our future ad rotation. Simply stated, Sargento ads won't be airing during that show. Again, thanks for contacting us.
Sargento Consumer Affairs Department
On the August 11th edition of Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto, Cavuto interviewed Edward Naile, who was protesting against the health care reform being discussed by President Obama in a New Hampshire town hall event. Fox's on-screen text simply identified Naile as a "Registered Democrat" and as a "Small Business Owner". Cavuto first introduced him as a "registered Democrat" and later described Naile as having "independent" thinking on the health care issue.
What neither Fox nor Cavuto noted was Naile's history of conservative activism.
In 2000 AP identified Naile as a member of the Coalition, identifying the group as an "advocacy group for limited government and limited taxation".
Naile is listed as the co-host of "New Hampshire Taxpayer Radio", which is affiliated with the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers.
More recently Naile wrote a blog entry on NHInsider.com titled "Come And Get Yo Free Healthcare - Sucker".
On November 1, 2008 Naile wrote:
America needs to take a good four-year look at what the Liberal Left has offered up for President, and most of all, what the main stream media has unflinchingly protected and nourished since the decision to sell this communist standard-bearer of the Democrat Party as material qualified to be President of the United States.
That's Neil Cavuto's "independent".