From the paper's take on Obama's press last night, here's the lede:
In a strikingly defensive explanation of his stance on Bush-era anti-terrorism tactics, President Obama on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information, but that he was nonetheless willing to rule them out on moral grounds.
The article continues with that weird, breathless tone throughout, as the Times does its best to gin up the drama. To our eyes and ears though, Obama's response to back-to-back questions about torture last night weren't in the least "defensive," let alone "strikingly" so. See for yourself in the extended clip below.
P.S. The Times' effort continues the media's Bizarro World reporting on the topic of torture. i.e. It's the Obama White House that's been put on the defensive regarding how the Bush administration authorized the illegal use of torture. Good luck connecting those dots.
I guess if you make a living worshiping entertainment television (no easy task), than this is the result. From New York Daily News TV Editor Richard Huff:
Fox is going to get skinned in some parts, no doubt, for not carrying President Obama's 100-day press conference Wednesday night. That's just wrong. The network should be praised for not giving up a third night of lucrative prime-time television for yet another presidential press conference. Enough already.
Huff thinks Fox did the right thing by turning its back on its pledge as a broadcasting company to serve the public interest from time to time by airing a primetime White House press conference. Enough already, Huff insists. He can't stand how the nets have to keep adjusting their precious entertainment schedules in order to make room for Obama. Huff insists the whole exercise is pointless:
Back in the day, a President appearing on TV in prime time meant something. Something critical to the country needed to be said, and be heard by a wide audience. But thanks to Obama's ability to wow the cameras - and the networks' general fear that saying no will freeze them out - the concept has been severely diluted.
This is just plain dumb. The fact is, primetime WH press conferences have always been carried live by the nets even though most of them were routine events and did not revolve around breaking news or a crisis. But TV insider Huff thinks televised White House news events are a bore, that they should not preempt reality shows or cop dramas, and that they're a "pure inconvenience."
We noted how the New York Post did its best to mislead readers into thinking that Obama had something to do with the misguided photo op that freaked out New Yorkers on Monday. The Post's headline read:
OBAMA PLANE PHOTO OP STARTLES NEW YORKERS
That, despite the fact Obama was not on the plane, did not order the photo op and didn't even know about it. So there's that.
Then Murdoch hit man Glenn Beck went one better and placed Obama on Air Force One and personally ordering the fly-by:
Then yesterday we had the 'secret photo op' of Air Force One flying over Manhattan. Which gave a lot of people flashbacks to 9/11. See all those people on the street? They were evacuating buildings. These people are running in fear because the president flew his plane over for a photo shoot!
Tonight, the Times got its chance to ask the President a question -- and Jeff Zeleny used it to ask "What has surprised you the most about this office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you the most, and troubled you the most?"
CBS News gets a shot at asking the President of the United States a question -- one question -- with the nation watching, and Chip Reid uses it to ask what Arlen Specter's party change says about the state of the Republican Party.
It's in a shambles. Who cares? That's really the most important thing you could think of to ask the President?
UPDATE: Ok, CBS got more than one question. Reid's was still a waste of time, though.
UPDATE 2: At least Reid didn't ask Obama what surprises and enchants Obama about being President. That's a good question for a People magazine profile, I suppose, but it seems like the New York Times could come up with something better...
With thousands of votes cast, conservative leader and nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh takes FIRST PLACE with 28 percent of all votes -- 8 percent more than his closest competitor -- for this gem:
Be sure to check out all of the poll results here.
Don't forget to visit The Limbaugh Wire daily for the latest on El Rushbo. You can also sign up to receive an hour-by-hour summary of The Rush Limbaugh Show including humorous highlights. (Monday-Friday three emails daily) or check them out online.
Even out of office, the departed Bush White House seems to get its way the press. In this case, how newsrooms dutifully shy away from the "t" word because that's what Bushies prefer.
Greg Sargent explains:
But the bottom line is that by not using the term, the paper is rendering a verdict, too - in favor of the Bush administration. There's a reason the Bushies don't call waterboarding torture: It happened on their watch, and calling it torture would be an admission of guilt. Naturally, their official position is that they didn't torture. By not describing the acts committed under Bush as "torture," the paper is propping up the Bush argument. Period.
Matthew Yglesias and Dave Weigel catch Byron York making the transparently stupid argument that Barack Obama's positions "appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are" because of his "his sky-high ratings among African-Americans." As Yglesias notes: "How does the fact that much of Obama's support come from African-Americans mean that he's not 'actually' popular?"
You'd have to try pretty hard to come up with an explanation other than racism for York's position that support among African Americans shouldn't count as much as support from whites.
But York's argument, though absurd, is actually quite consistent with the way the media in general approaches public opinion.
When reporters talk about Democrats' difficulty appealing to religious voters, for example, they mean white religious voters, and point to polling of white evangelical voters to support their claims.
When they talk of Democrats being out of touch with "regular people," they aren't talking about working-class African Americans or Latinos; they are talking about white regular people.
York's comments about Obama's support is just one example of the media's habit of equating public opinion among whites with public opinion.
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.