Boston: This doesn't relate to Obama but would you care to address the whole George Will global warming column controversy? Is there any concern that lax standards for accuracy hurts the prestige of The Post opinion page more generally?
Fred Hiatt: Happy to, because we don't have lax standards for accuracy. He addressed the factual challenges to his column in detail in a later column. In general we do careful fact checking. What people have mostly objected to is not that his data are wrong but that he draws wrong inferences. I would think folks would be eager to engage in the debate, given how sure they are of their case, rather than trying to shut him down.
It's the one from yesterday that upheld the FCC's Bush-era attempt to crack down on broadcasters who air even fleeting, live TV references to the F-word, and other banned utterances. The way Bono and Cher both dropped the F-bomb on award telecasts earlier in the decade.
If we take a step back, the 5-4 conservative ruling really is quite amazing when you consider that ten years ago the FCC had virtually walked away from the business of fining broadcasters for indecency. Today, thanks to a conservative pressure campaign to change the laws, the fines broadcasters face are staggering. And again, not just for lewd, R-rated morning show banter. But for airing live events where anybody (including athletes) curse and it's picked up by microphones.
That kind of stuff used to get a pass because the FCC had decided that in order for a on-air F-word to be actionable, it had to be used in a sexual manner. In fact, the FCC initially passed on fining the network that aired Bono's acceptance speech profanity ("really, really fucking brilliant") because the "language used by Bono did not describe, in context, sexual or excretory organs or activities and that the utterance was fleeting and isolated." That, according to the FCC's own indecency officer at the time
For years, the key guidelines the FCC used in determining indecency fines included whether the material described or depicted sexual or excretory organs or activities. And the broadcast in question had to be "patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium."
In other words, to be indecent the content had to sexually explicit, go on at length and used to titillate. But post-Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, and after the Parents Television Council moved into high gear, the FCC announced that "given the core meaning of the 'F-word,' any use of that word or a variation, in any context, inherently has a sexual connotation" and therefore it was indecent.
And now, thanks to SCOTUS, that policy change has been upheld. Is the policy change constitutional? Does the FCC have the right to monitor speech on the airwaves? The SCOTUS passed on that this week, but may soon be asked to address the issue.
From Politico's The Whiteboard:
OBAMA IN MISSOURI -- PAGING ROGER AILES: "Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security...but let's not play games and pretend that the reason is because of the Recovery Act." (12:14 p.m.)
Snowe's NY Times op-ed: "We Didn't Have to Lose Arlen Specter"
Former Laura Bush press secretary Andrew Malcolm has spent the past several weeks using his position as reporter/blogger for the Los Angeles Times to portray Vice President Joe Biden as a do-nothing buffoon. Malcolm has taken to writing mocking posts about Biden's purportedly thin and/or trivial public schedule, complete with repeated use of a photo of Biden looking silly:
I say "supposedly light" because it's fairly silly to think that Biden doesn't do anything that isn't on his public schedule. But that's what Malcolm pretends: Biden isn't doing much, because there isn't much on his official schedule.
Well, in the past day, we've learned that Biden played a key role in Sen. Arlen Specter's switch from the Republican to Democratic Party. And the LA Times "Top of the Ticket" blog for which Malcolm writes features a post today about Biden's hands-on role in Specter's switch, and describes him as "Senate Arm Twister in Chief" in legislative negotiations. But Andrew Malcolm, who so enjoys mocking Biden's light schedule, didn't write this account of his effectiveness; his co-blogger Johanna Neuman did. Malcolm is probably busy scouring the 'net, looking for funny pictures of Biden to use in his next post about how Biden doesn't do anything.
Washington Post reporter Paul Kane:
The Beavis and Butthead Party: The GOP makes fun of spending money on volcano monitoring, a volcano blows up. The GOP makes fun of spending money on pandemic preparation, a potential pandemic moves in. What is the next serious topic the GOP thought was funny that will blow up in their faces?
Paul Kane: I kinda think the left's efforts to politicize these things is pretty pathetic.
And besides, I don't think Beavis 'n' Butthead would be Republicans. I kinda suspect they eventually grew up to be Hillary Clinton Democrats.
Is it really "the left" that tried to politicize these things? Seems to me that when Bobby Jindal mocked volcano monitoring funding without having the first clue what it was for, that was politicizing the issue. The Left subsequently pointed out how stupid that politicization was.
But apparently Paul Kane thinks it's more "pathetic" to point out that the Republicans mindlessly opposed volcano monitoring than for the Republicans to mindlessly oppose volcano monitoring. Good to know.
Not sure if this getting much play on TV, especially the all-flu-all-the-time cablers, but it ought to [emphasis added]:
An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.
But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico -- and medical experts say there very well may be -- the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.
Question for Michelle Malkin: are immigrants responsible for all those flu deaths, too?
Just a little context for the griping coming from network television circles for having to air Obama's primetime press conference tonight. In the wake of Fox's decision to punt on the press conference, the trade mag Broadcasting & Cable reported:
While pressers are the bread and butter of cable news, broadcast networks stand to lose millions in advertising revenue by shifting or rescheduling their normal programming.
The presser is going to cost them "millions" in lost revenue. Of course, the TV nets take in hundreds of millions of advertising annually while using the public airwaves for free, but we're supposed to feel bad about tonight's preemption. Here's the context though, in terms of the "millions" in ad revenue that execs claim are being lost thanks to Obama's interruption. (An argument, btw, that we don't buy.)
Fox is part of News Corps., which last year posted $32 billion in revenues. ABC is owned by Disney, which enjoyed $37 billion in revenues. CBS's parent company, meanwhile, took in $14 billion. And of course, NBC is owned by corporate behemoth General Electric, which last year produced $183 billion in revenue.
Combined, the nets' parent companies generated more than $250 billion in revenues last year, but TV execs are whining about a couple million that might or might--might--be lost while broadcasting the White House press conference.
Not sure that pity party is going to get many takers.
Trust us, it wasn't even close.
Even if this is a day old, it's still worth pondering, simply because it provides a glimpse into the crumbling GOP Noise Machine and the lengths it will go to prop up anti-Obama memes.
According to the Times editorial, Obama job approval ratings are "in the basement." He's wildly unpopular as he hits his 100 day mark. Not only unpopular, but Obama's historically unpopular. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't read it with my own eyes:
At the 100-day mark of his presidency, Mr. Obama is the second-least-popular president in 40 years.
No, really. And look, the Times (sorta) provided polling data to back up its Alice-in-Wonderland claim:
According to Gallup's April survey, Americans have a lower approval of Mr. Obama at this point than all but one president since Gallup began tracking this in 1969.
Which is odd because here's what MSNBC.com reported just days ago, using Gallup's own data [emphasis added]:
As we approach President Obama's official 100th day in office, his approval rating in the Gallup poll is average compared with past American presidents -- or is it?
Going back to Eisenhower, Obama's 65% approval rating in the most recent daily Gallup poll is equal to the average Gallup approval for the 10 preceding presidents. Kennedy and Johnson had approval ratings in the low 80s at their 100-day mark. President Ford, in the wake of Watergate and the pardon of President Nixon, had the lowest approval rating at 48%.
But when we look only at presidents in the past 40 years, Obama is near the top. His approval is 7-10 points higher than the approvals of the last three presidents.
Here's the Gallup graphic MSNBC printed online:
Compared to previous presidents at the 100 day mark, Obama is more popular than Bush, Clinton, and Bush. Only Reagan polled better, and that was right after he survived an assassination attempt in March of his first year in office. So if you set aside Reagan's rather extraordinary circumstances, Obama is more popular at the 100 day mark than any president since Lyndon Johnson.
Except, that is, inside the Washington Times newsroom, where it's been decreed that Obama is one of our least popular new presidents. (What a relief for the GOP!)
FYI, click here for Gallup's daily tracking poll results for Obama's rolling approval rating. He hasn't been below 59 percent since Inauguration Day. And as of Tuesday, Obama's daily measured approval ratings stood at 63 percent.
Also keep in mind that in mid-April, Gallup released the polling data for Obama's approval rating for his first full quarter in office:
President Barack Obama averages a 63% approval rating for his first quarter in office -- the highest since President Jimmy Carter averaged 69% in 1977.
Washington Times, 0
UPDATE: Murdoch's NYPost, lilke WashTimes, does its best to rally the dispirited GOP troops with priceless "100 Days, 100 Mistakes" feature.
UPDATE: More assuring voices, courtesy of Dick Morris: Obama's support is about to crater.