Incredibly, the Times scribe isn't the only one within the mainstream media comparing Bush reading a book to kids while 3,000 Americans died at the hands of terrorists, to Obama reading a book to kids while his HHS pick withdrew his name. (People, the situations are nearly identical.)
Blogger Bob Cesca notes that MSNBC's Contessa Brewer seemed to make the same Sept. 11/Daschle comparison.
From today's column
On 9/11, President Bush learned of disaster while reading "The Pet Goat" to grade-school kids. On Tuesday, President Obama escaped from disaster by reading "The Moon Over Star" to grade-school kids. "We were just tired of being in the White House," the two-week-old president, with Michelle at his side, explained to students at a public charter school near the White House.
See, just like Bush, who read a book to school children after being told by his chief of staff that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center and that America was under attack, Obama read books to kids after learning that his pick to head the HHS was dropping out.
From MoDo's perspective, the events are exactly the same. So glad Beltway pundits are able to put breaking news events into context. (More here.)
P.S. And here's MoDo on what Obama should have done to get more support for his stimulus bill:
Mr. Obama should have taken a red pencil to the $819 billion stimulus bill and slashed all the provisions that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending. As Senator Kit Bond, a Republican, put it, there were so many good targets that he felt "like a mosquito in a nudist colony."
In other words, Obama should have done whatever Republicans told him to do to his own legislation. Y'know, just like when Bush was president, and how he always rewrote his legislation based on Democratic input and concern.
P.P.S. Yes, MoDo spends the bottom one-third of the column blaming Obama for the way banks are spending money from the bailout crafted and passed by the previous Republican administration.
All in all, a priceless dumbing-down performance by MoDo today.
Obviously, the fact that three of Barack Obama's nominees have had tax trouble gives the Republicans and the media something of an opening to poke a little fun at Obama and the Democratic Party. But reporters should keep in mind that Republicans have had their share of tax troubles, too.
Countless reporters have quoted GOP Rep. Eric Cantor saying "It's easy for the other side to sit here and advocate higher taxes because - you know what? - they don't pay them." Others have made the same argument in their own voice.
Quoting Cantor is fine -- it's a good line. But news reports that simply quote Cantor or express a similar sentiment give the impression that tax troubles are a problem unique to prominent Democrats.
Not so. During last year's presidential campaign, it emerged that Cindy McCain hadn't bothered to pay taxes on one of her homes. Several other Republican candidates last year had tax troubles. Republican Party Strategist and Mascot Joe Wurzelbacher had a tax lien placed against him. Dick Morris -- who has criticized Tim Geithner's failure to pay taxes -- had a $1.5 million tax lien filed against him by the IRS, and the state of Connecticut said he owed more than $450,000 in unpaid taxes and penalities. There are presumably dozens of other examples.
Obviously, that doesn't mean the media shouldn't mention the tax troubles of Obama's nominees. Nor does it mean they shouldn't quote Republican criticisms. But when they quote Republicans suggesting unpaid taxes are a uniquely Democratic problem, they have an obligation to make clear that this is not true. And, certainly, they should avoid making that suggestion themselves.
From the second sentence [emphasis added]:
Two weeks into his presidency, Barack Obama proved that even a clearly gifted politician cannot escape the gravitational pull of Washington forces that have humbled many of his predecessors. The new president, seen by some as arrogant, was anything but on Tuesday.
Note that nowhere--nowhere--in the lengthy piece does the AP quote anybody, either on the record or off, who claims that Obama is arrogant. The only person who makes that claim is the AP's Charlie Babington, while hiding behind the cowardly "some say" cliche.
Let's just call this what it is. It ain't journalism and it ain't political analysis. It's casual character assassination, courtesy of the AP.
A footnote to my weekly column, where I stressed that the press, when covering the issue of bipartisanship, appears only interested in blaming Democrats, and Obama specifically, for the lack of legislative cooperation. And how the press has set up Republicans with perhaps the easiest short-term political victory on record. All the GOP has to do is oppose Obama on the stimulus package, and the Beltway media will proclaim Obama the loser. Because, apparently for the press, it's up to Obama, and Obama alone, to change the tone.
But here's the new USA Today/Gallup polling data on the topic.
Question: Since Obama was elected, has the overall tone and level of civility in Washington between Democrats and Republicans?
Result: Improved, 21%. Stayed the same 51%. Gotten worse, 23%
Question: Of those saying the tone has not improved, whom do they blame?
Result: Republicans, 41%. Democrats 30%. Both, 23%.
So, contrary to the media's current Obama narrative, more Americans blame Republicans for the fact that the tone in Washington has not improved with the arrival of the new administration.
The Times today suggests there's been an unusual number of journalists going to work for the Obama administration, which (yawn) raises questions about liberal bias:
But this year the accusation has a new twist: In some notable cases it has become true, with several prominent journalists now on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership.
Who are the prominent journalists? Well, the first example the Times references is MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who kinda, sorta thought about running for the U.S. senate from Pennsylvania. But is Matthews going to run? Apparently not. And even if he did run, and even if he won, would Matthews be "on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership"? No.
So the first example the Times points to is pretty much irrelevant to the issue at hand: journalists joining the payrolls of Democrats.
The Times' third example [emphasis added]:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the leading candidate for surgeon general, is CNN's chief medical correspondent. His résumé as a practicing neurosurgeon — and one of People magazine's "sexiest men alive" in 2003 — is not that of a traditional journalist. But he reported on the health records of the presidential candidates last year, along with their health care proposals.
Has Gupta joined the Obama administration? No. Has he been asked to? No.
In total, the Times points to four journalists to back up its claim that "an unusual number of journalists from prominent, mainstream organizations started new government jobs in January." Of the four referenced, two--Matthews and Gupta--did not start new government jobs in January.
Check out of the fine print from yesterday's CNN chron:
Yes, it reads "Stimulus gains $80 billion; are Dems sabotaging it with extras?"
Gee, nothing loaded about that language, right?
Responding to Adam Green's piece over at Huffington Post, which admonished Burnett for her MTP appearance this weekend where she seemed to act more like a spokeswoman for Wall Street firms, and less like a reporter covering them, Burnett's CNBC colleague Jim Cramer came to her defense on the air yesterday.
Meanwhile, Green has invited Burnett to live blog with him and Huff Post readers about the topic of the Wall Street bailout. Let's hope she accepts.
And note to Green: if the debate takes place, please be sure to ask Burnett about her claim on MTP that taxpayer money did not help pay for those recent corporate bonuses for Wall Street execs. It appears she got the facts wrong.
This one's gonna make your head hurt, trust us. It's what happens when trivial pursuits collide with incompetence.
First up, NBC apparently does not know how to transcribe its presidential interviews, even when the president speaks clearly and slowly. NBC managed to botch the transcripts to its Obama interview. Specifically, at the end of the Q&A, Matt Lauer, for whatever reason, decided to ask Obama about his wife and daughters being on the cover of US magazine.
Lauer held up the magazine, which also featured cover photo and headline in the upper-right hand corner about singer Jessica Simpson's' apparent weight gain. ("Inside Jess' weight battle.") In fact, the unflattering photo of Simpson actually cropped out Obama himself on the US cover.
From the NBC transcripts which were released to the press:
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
OBAMA: Yeah, who's losing a weight battle apparently. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. Oh, well.
Well, that ticked some people off, including Karen Tumulty at Time. "He laid a big one in yesterday's interview with Matt Lauer," she wrote as she reproduced the NBC transcript online. And yes, right-wing blogosphere also denounced Obama, printing up the same transcript.
Thing is, Obama never said Simpson was "losing a weight battle." As Politico notes, NBC mangled the transcripts. Here's what Obama actually said:
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
OBAMA: Yeah, who's in a weight battle apparently. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. Oh, well.
It's obvious from watching the clip that Obama was not making fun of Simpson's weight. If anything he was very gently mocking the fanzine culture in which Simpson's weight is considered to be newsworthy.
But back to Tumulty and then the blogs. How did they respond to the fact that Obama never said what they criticized him for saying? From Tumulty [emphasis added]:
*Alert Swampland commenter travellingatlanta notes that the transcript that NBC put out was wrong. "Who's losing a weight battle" is actually "who's in a weight battle." I went back and listened to the video, and it sounds that way to me, too. Which makes it slightly better. I guess. But in the future, Mr. President, just don't go there.
I'm chuckling over Tumulty's detective work; about how she went back and listened to the video again and confirmed that, yes, Obama said "Yeah, who's in a weight battle apparently." I'm chuckling because the audio/video is clear as day and there is no dispute, which only highlights how supremely NBC mucked up by concocted parts of the transcripts in the first place.
Second, Obama shouldn't go there? Give us a break. The only reason Obama mentioned any of this was because a network news anchor brought up the frivolous topic of US magazine. The president was simply, and politely, humoring the interviewer by reading back to him the inane mag cover line.
As for the right-wing blog, well it's just priceless. This is what Gateway Pundit wrote:
UPDATE: The Politico is defending the president for joking about Jessica Simpson's weight problem. Figures.
Classic, right? Gateway pundit first mocked Obama for something he never said. When Politico pointed out Obama never said what NBC (and Gateway Pundit) claimed the president said, Gateway Pundit simply informed readers that Politico was "defending" Obama. What did Gateway Pundit fail to do? It failed inform readers that Obama never said what Gateway Pundit claimed Obama said.
Just keep moving along folks, nothing to see here. Corrections? Retractions for flogging phony story? Pleeease.
We told you this was gonna make your head hurt.