In an article portraying Jill Biden - who is teaching at a community college in Virginia, though she could doubtless land a gig at Georgetown or GW if she chose - as pompous, the Los Angeles Times falsely suggests her use of the title "Doctor" is fraudulent.
Under the sub-head "The vice president's wife holds a doctorate in English -- but she likes to use the prefix that most people reserve for medical doctors," the Times explains:
In 2007, at 55, Jill Biden did earn a doctorate -- in education, from the University of Delaware. Since then, in campaign news releases and now in White House announcements, she is "Dr. Jill Biden." This strikes some people as perfectly appropriate and others as slightly pompous, a quality often ascribed to her voluble husband.
Who are these "others" who find Jill Biden "slightly pompous"? The Los Angeles Times won't say.
The paper described St. Louis University professor Joel Goldstein as seeming "mildly amused" when told Biden likes to be called "Dr" - but it quoted him saying "Occasionally someone will call me 'doctor,' and when that happens my wife makes fun of me a little bit. But nobody thought it was pretentious to call Henry Kissinger 'Dr. Kissinger.'"
Hmmm... that seems to undermine the idea that Biden is being "pompous." Indeed, it suggests that the LA Times is mocking an accomplished woman for using a title that is frequently used, without controversy, by accomplished men.
Next, the Times turns to "Amy Sullivan, a religion writer for Time magazine" for comment. But Sullivan doesn't really support the Times' claim that Biden is "slightly pompous," either - she is quoted saying "Ordinarily when someone goes by doctor and they are a PhD, not an MD, I find it a little bit obnoxious. But it makes me smile because it's a reminder that she's her own person. She wasn't there as an appendage; she was there as a professional in her own right."
Then the Times quoted the head of the Washington Post's copy desk saying his newspaper only refers to medical doctors as "doctor." But he doesn't criticize Biden or call her pompous, either. Finally, the Times quoted a USC professor who made the point that women academics are often addressed by their first name while male colleagues are called doctor. Again, this is not a quote that supports the Times' suggestion that Biden is "pompous" - instead, it is another reminder that we probably wouldn't see such an article about Dr. Henry Kissinger.
It gets worse.
In the middle of an article suggesting that Jill Biden is wrong to refer to herself as "doctor," the Times offers this passage:
Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to travel widely in his new job. But he may need to tone down the Dr. Jill Biden stories, should he find himself in Germany with his wife.
Last year, according to the Post, at least seven Americans (with degrees from places like Cornell and Caltech) were investigated for the crime of "title fraud" for calling themselves doctor on business cards, resumes and websites. Only people who have earned advanced degrees in Germany or other European Union countries may legally call themselves that.
German investigations of "title fraud" don't have anything to do with Jill Biden. Nobody - nobody except the LA Times, that is - is suggesting that Jill Biden is guilty of "fraud." And Germany doesn't prohibit non-medical doctors from using the title doctor; it prohibits people who didn't earn their doctorate in Germany or the EU to call themselves doctor. Again: this has absolutely nothing to do with Jill Biden. It's just a cheap shot; a clumsy effort to suggest there is something fraudulent about her use of the title "doctor," even though there is nothing wrong with her doing so - by American standards or German.
The Los Angeles Times' sports pages routinely contain references to the owner of the LA Lakers as "Dr. Jerry Buss." The next time the Times wants to call someone pompous for going by "doctor" despite lacking a medical degree, maybe the paper should take aim at their hometown -- male -- sports executive rather than taking cheap shots at a community college professor.
This was the Vietnam-driven, Time doomsday cover for the issue published just weeks after the new Democratic president was sworn into office in 1993:
Now here's the latest Vietnam-driven, Newsweek doomsday cover for the current issue, published just days after the new Democratic president was sworn into office:
Aside for the bogus way the news weeklies jumped at the chance to hang a foreign policy "Vietnam" around the neck of brand new Democratic presidents, behold the especially surreal logic connected to the Newsweek cover and its attempt to connect Obama, in office for less than 14 days, to the battle for Afghanistan, which the Bush administration oversaw for nearly seven years.
This may stand as the single biggest non-story of young Obama administration, but boy the press loves to tell it: Obama's in a verbal sparing match with Limbaugh! The president picked a fight with a radio talk show host! It's been "tit-for-tat," according to NPR.
Really? Obama has been engaged in an extended back-and-forth with Limbaugh? Let's give this tale a rest, shall we. It's true that Limbaugh has been talking non-stop about Obama. About how how evil his policies are and how he hopes the new president fails. And about how we need to grab our ankles because Obama's father was black. It's true that Limbaugh has wandered waaay off the reservation and is spouting Obama hate non-stop on the public airwaves. (Peter Berkowitz please take note.)
But what exactly has Obama done to fuel this supposed feud? What's been Obama's role in this showdown? Answer: Over the course of nearly two weeks as president Obama uttered a single sentence, in private, that contained a single passing reference to Limbaugh. And that reference did not even attack Limbaugh. He simply suggested that Republicans in Congress should not legislate by taking their cues from a (once drug addicted) radio talk show host. A radical notion, we know.
But that doesn't matter because the press wants to tell the tale about how Limbaugh and Obama remain locked in some kind of a war of words. About how, according to the Chicago Tribune, "the president has taken up the [Limbaugh] challenge in a rather pointed and personal way." Which is, let's face it, pretty close to being 100% inaccurate.
Adam Green at Huff Post details how the NBC business reporter seemed to morph into a Wall Street flak/apologist during her appearance on MTP this weekend:
This Sunday's Meet The Press made something absolutely clear: Journalists who are "embedded" on Wall Street and depend on Wall Street execs for access on a day-to-day basis are ridiculously unqualified to give the public good information about the economic crisis.
Question for NBC: Is Burnett supposed to cover Wall Street, or cover for Wall Street?
UPDATE: And yes, it was Burnett who claimed last week that Rush Limbaugh's opinion piece in the WSJ about the proposed economic stimulus package represented a "serious" proposal. The same Limbaugh opinion piece which suggested recessions, including this one, simply cure themselves.
UPDATE: NBC's MTP was a bit of a misinformation train wreck yesterday. Aside from Burnett, host David Gregory peddled old, discredited nonsense about how Social Security in 2010 would "pay out more than it's taking in." False.
The Post's hand-wringing editorial about Obama's stimulus package insists the president needs to do more to placate Republicans; he needs to make more cuts in order to win their bipartisan support. (Why? Is legislation passed without Republican support somehow seen by the Beltway press corps as being not legitimate?)
But get a load of this pretzel logic:
Mr. Obama has sought bipartisan support for the bill. This is to his credit, but by simultaneously courting Republicans and assigning the actual drafting of the bill to Democratic congressional leaders, he has wound up zigzagging between the two parties rather than herding them together. When he seemed to lean toward more tax cuts to win over Republicans, Democrats rebelled and opted for more spending. When they proposed hundreds of millions of dollars for contraceptives and the Mall, Mr. Obama had the controversial provisions removed, but too late to win over Republicans.
Did you follow? Prior to the vote in the House on the stimulus package, Obama pulled provisions Republicans objected to. But according to the Post editorial, it was too late.
Go ahead and re-read the Post passage a second and third time, because the editorial never makes any sense even after multiple readings. The Post urged Obama to listen to Republican complaints about the stimulus package and to act on them. Obama did precisely that prior to the House vote. Yet Republicans, unanimously, still voted against the bill.
So according to the Post, who's to blame for the lack of bipartisan support? Obama, of course.
Because apparently the newspaper's Op-ed page has an open door policy for conservative writers who get things wrong about the economy (what recession?), and our economic history. (The New Deal failed!)
Notes Dean Baker:
When it comes to writings on economics, the Post's Outlook section is probably best viewed as a jobs program rather than a source for serious ideas.
We kept pointing out what a colossal ratings failure the right-wing talker was at CNN Headlines News. And here's the latest proof: Ever since Beck left for Fox News, CNNHN had been getting better ratings in Beck's old slot with a show hosted by a relative unknown, Jane Velez-Mitchell:
From the Huffington Post [emphasis added]
In its third full month on the air, "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" posted HLN's largest 7PM audience since it launched its primetime block in February 2005. For January 2009, "Issues" averaged 531,000 total viewers and 221,000 Adults 25-54, a 50% increase in total viewers and a 46% increase in the demo over Beck's January 2008 ratings. Velez-Mitchell's January ratings also represent an 8% increase in total viewers and a 19% increase in the demo over Beck's last (and best) month on HLN.
It comes courtesy of the conservative Hoover Instituter's Peter Berkowitz, last seen in these parts publishing the insightful, "The Case for the War in Iraq." Anyway, Berkowitz's latest piece, "Bush Hatred and Obama Euphoria Are Two Sides of the Same Coin," really represents the gold standard in mendacity and intellectual dishonesty. Even for the casually accurate WSJ page, Berkowitz's effort manages to stand out.
His premise is that the same crazy people who hated Bush are the same crazy people who love Obama. Berkowitz claims he's talking about liberals; those mindless liberals who belittled Bush, but who back Obama. (And oh yeah, the media and professors were in on it too.) Of course, as any honest adult could attest, Berkowitz is actually talking about Americans. Because it's Americans who by huge margins disapproved of Bush's performance, and Americans who by huge margins currently approve of Obama's performance.
Nonetheless, Berkowitz thinks he's onto something very deep and revealing and insightful here. (He even gets biblical!) It's all about zealotry and the "dangerous political passions" that haunt politics.
You don't say, Peter. You mean the kind of mindless right-wing zealotry that defined the 1990's when Republicans unleashed wave after wave of hysterical anti-Clinton crusades. (It's generally referred to as Clinton Derangement Syndrome, you might want to check it out Peter.) You mean the kind of right-wing zealotry that the WSJ editorial page practically copyrighted during the Clinton years as it hyped every half-assed conspiracy theory born in the fever swamps? And you mean the kind of mindless right-wing attacks that have already been unleashed on Obama less than two weeks after being inaugurated. (America is now less safe!)
Where does all that fit into Berkowitz's deep-thinking Journal Op-ed? Naturally, rather than confronting the uncomfortable facts, he just plays dumb about the naked hate that has defined the Republican Noise Machine for nearly two decades.
The Hoover Institute must be proud. Again.
In their column for the Center for American Progress, Eric Alterman and George Zornick note that the media has paid shockingly little attention to new revelations that the Bush administration spied on journalists:
[A] former analyst at the National Security Agency revealed on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" that Bush's National Security Agency "monitored all communications" of Americans and that U.S. news organizations and individual journalists were specifically targeted.
Former analyst Russell Tice told Olbermann that, "The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications—faxes, phone calls, and their computer communications. And it didn't matter whether you were in Kansas, in the middle of the country, and you never made any foreign communications at all."
So, how did The New York Times cover Tice's revelations that ordinary American citizens, journalists in general, and possibly one of their own reporters in particular, had their communications monitored without a warrant? As far as we can tell, not at all.
Neither Tice nor his charges were discussed in the Times, either in print or online. This was standard across much of the mainstream media—The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Associated Press have all remained completely silent about Tice's allegations.
In January 2006, when the New York Times first broke the story of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, I compared the resources devoted to the emerging story by the Times and the Washington Post to the resources they devoted to the story of Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
For both stories, I looked at the number of articles the two papers ran the day after the stories broke, the number of words devoted to the stories, and the number of reporters credited with working on the stories. And I looked at the same things for the 35th day after the story broke:
All told, on January 22, 1998, the Times and the Post ran 19 articles (five on the front page) dealing with the Clinton investigation, totaling more than 20,000 words and reflecting the words of at least 28 reporters -- plus the editorial boards of both newspapers.
In contrast, on December 17, the Times and the Post combined to run five articles about the NSA spying operation, involving 12 reporters and consisting of 6,303 words.
On February 25, 1998, 35 days after the story first broke, the Post ran four articles and an editorial about the Clinton investigation, totaling 5,046 words, involving 11 reporters, and the paper's editorial board. The Times ran four articles, two opinion columns, and an editorial -- seven pieces in all, totaling 5,852 words and involving at least six reporters and columnists, in addition to its editorial board. The papers combined for 12 articles, columns, and editorials, involving 17 reporters and columnists, as well as both editorial boards.
On January 20, 35 days after the NSA story first broke, the Times ran one 1,324-word article about the NSA operation written by two reporters. The Post ran one 945-word article written by one reporter. Combined: two articles, three reporters, 2,269 words.
Basically, the media didn't care nearly as much about the possiblity that a president was illegally listening in on the telephone conversations of innocent Americans as they did about the possiblity that a president had an affair. As Alterman and Zornick point out, that hasn't changed even now that we know that journalists were among those spied upon.