Or torturous to follow. Or something.
Now blogger Marcy Wheeler explains how ABC' fell down reporting about what the CIA told members of Congress about "special interrogation tactics" being used back in 2002.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent has more.
The Hollywood Reporter goes big today with a long article about how entertainment execs at the nets hate pre-empting their schedules for Obama's primetime pressers. About how the nets are losing millions of dollars in ad revenue, although actually, as the HR explains, the money's not actually lost, those commercials pre-empted by the press conference are just shifted to other times slots. But still.
The whole thing's a hoot and I suggest you go read it for real insight to our media culture and TV execs who make their living using the public airwaves for free. (Oops, the HR article forgot to mention that nugget.)
Here's the headline:
Obama drama: Nets take a stand against primetime pre-emptions
The funny thing is, in the article nobody at the nets takes a stand. They just whine off the record. And oh, what a vintage whine it is [emphasis added]:
"We reluctantly went along with his latest request," one network executive said, "but the next one better involve something really important to the American people, or the networks are going to tell the White House to buzz off."
We already noted this fact but will repeat it here because those deep thinkers at network TV prefer repetition. The complaint is that Obama's last press conference had no news; that it didn't "involve something really important to the American people." Except that the day of Obama's presser the press itself was doing its best to whip up hysteria about a possible swine flu pandemic, and the primetime Q&A offered the president his first chance to truly address the nation about the health scare.
But yeah, other than that, other than a potentially deadly disease sweeping the nation (at least that's how the press hyped it,) there really wasn't anything at Obama's last press conference that was "important to the American people."
The paper continues to take an overtly political stance with its coverage of the just-announced Obama budget. Yesterday we noted that unlike most other news orgs, the Post, right in its headline, announced that Obama's proposed budget cuts were "modest," and the entire article seemed to flow from GOP talking points about the WH was not cutting enough spending.
Today, the Post hits that angle again on A1, and hard [emphasis added]:
President Obama's modest proposal to slice $17 billion from 121 government programs quickly ran into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill yesterday, as an array of Democratic lawmakers vowed to fight White House efforts to deprive their favorite initiatives of federal funds.
The implication is clear: Obama didn't even ask for that many cuts and already Dems are complaining. Indeed, the Post stressed that the "proposed reductions represent just one-half of 1 percent of next year's budget," and dismissed the cuts as "small."
Keep in mind, the Post didn't have to quote Republicans as saying those things. The daily simply asserted that as fact, which saved Republicans the time of having to say it themselves. But what's interesting is that in Thursday article, the Post pointed out that Obama's small cuts were about the same as the cuts Bush asked for in his 2008 budget. So. if you went back and looked at the newspaper's coverage of Bush's 2008 proposed cuts, those articles would read just like the Post's Obama budget articles, right? Since both president's asked for similarly "small" savings.
Wrong. I went back and read the early 2008 Post coverage of Bush's announced budget and couldn't find references to how "modest" or "small" the suggested cuts were. And certainly couldnt' find references in consecutive front-page Post articles. But in 2009, when a Democrat put forward a proposal similar to Bush's, suddenly the Post wants to tell readers how inadequate it is.
Yep, there's now an entire book-length defense of talk radio against the interloping liberals who want to "silence" and "censor" right-wingers on the airwaves; who want to dictate content. It's called Censorship: The Threat to Silence Talk Radio.
Slight problem: there is no high-powered attempt by liberals to silence or censor right-wingers on the AM dial. But hey, other than that it's a great idea for a book. And I'm sure it will find an audience because conservatives, apparently, love to keep each other up at night recounting ghost stories about how Democrats are going to ravage the AM dial by bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, a long-forgotten FCC regulation that nobody cares about.
Honestly, this is so far into the realm of lunacy that it's hard to even comprehend. We thought it was comical when Rush Limbaugh wasted a whole column in the WSJ demanding that Obama not bring back the Fairness Doctrine. (i.e. right-wing kryptonite). We thought it was funny because Limbaugh's column ran days after the Obama White House announced it had no interest/plans in trying to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. (Nothing gets by Limbaugh.)
But now the publishing wing of the GOP Noise Machine has dutifully printed up an entire book designed to whip up fears that the GOP's beloved AM talkers are under assault. The book's being published by Threshold Editions, which is Simon & Schuster's conservative-only publishing shop headed by Mary Matalin, and the book sounds like a doozy. Even the very friendly reviewer in the WSJ noted, "The book is a repetitious, one-sided barrage of generalities and anecdotes, alarmist at times, corny at others." Ooh, put me down for two copies.
Here's a preview of the book's laugh-out-loud breathlessness, captured by the book's press release:
At the dawn of a new presidential administration, an epic battle is looming -- a battle for our airwaves that could sharply curtail or silence altogether the freedom of expression that distinguishes America from the average dictatorship. The target of this battle is conservative talk radio.
At the risk of repeating ourself we'll note the administration has zero interest in any kind of "epic battle" with talk radio. And talk radio is not a target. But other than that, yeah the book's right on the money.
Honest to goodness, for a political movement that currently find itself in the contracting minority and literally fighting for its political survival, this is what activists are going to fight against? A phantom campaign to "censor" talk radio. Whatever. Be our guest.
We can only imagine the book promotion tour for Censorship and the endless hours author Brian Jennings will spend on the radio whipping right-wingers into a frenzy over the Fairness Doctrine.
UPDATE: One more lap around the track at Censorship's expense. Also from the press release:
Conservative talk radio [became]...popular, profitable, outspoken, powerful, influential -- it's what the American people wanted, and its success was the Democrats' worst nightmare.
Question: Has conservative talk radio and its lineup of superstars not been broadcasting for the last five years? The reason I ask is because during that time Democrats have completely altered the landscape of American politics with sweeping victories. So, If talk radio is so influential and powerful, how have Democrats pulled off that comeback?
We're guessing that answer's not found in Censorship.
UPDATE: The only thing's going to "silence" AM talk radio is the disintegrating state of the American radio industry, lead by the wildly irresponsible spending and business practices of Clear Channel. Or is that the fault of Democrats too?
Read today's lede and try not to laugh out loud as The Note celebrates its fave meme: Dems are in trouble!!
Who needs an opposition party when the party in power is doing a decent job opposing itself? Forget the future of the Republican Party -- it's the present for the Democratic Party that's problematic for President Obama's agenda. (From the Manny Ramirez school of self-destruction?)
Yep, Dems have picked up 15 senate seats and 55 House seats in the last five years. They just won a landslide election. Their new president, who will soon enjoy a filibuster-proof majority in Congress, is enjoying sky-high approval ratings. And a prominent Republican just got so fed up with his shrinking party that he crossed party lines.
But forget all that. Because Dems are self-destructing. I think this would be as good a time as any to recall my favorite Note-related quote from the spring of 2006, from its founder Mark Halperin, handicapping the Democrats' bleak electoral prospects that year:
"If I were them, I'd be scared to death about November's elections."
Of course, Dems swept Congress in 2006 and The Note, once again, completely failed in its only real purpose, which is to accurately handicap Beltway politics as is plays out in real time. So keep that in mind as The Note trots out if by-now copyrighted talking point about how Dems are self-destructing.
Jeffrey Rosen has responded to the criticism highlighted by American University law professor Darren Hutchinson and then by Media Matters that he misrepresented a footnote by one of Judge Sotomayor's colleagues. In his original article, Rosen claimed that in the footnote Judge Ralph Winter "suggest[ed] that an earlier opinion by Sotomayor might have inadvertently misrepresented the law in a way that misled litigants." As Prof. Hutchinson and Media Matters pointed out, Judge Winter's footnote did not say or suggest any such thing. Rather, as we wrote:
Winter's footnote in the case says that a litigant in a third case has read Sotomayor's Samaria opinion in a way that "would attribute to it the overruling of a long-standing line of cases in this circuit." Winter makes it clear that Sotomayor's opinion provided no actual basis for the litigant's erroneous interpretation: "Samaria does not purport to address the validity of those cases in any way." As Hutchinson wrote, "Rosen has completely misrepresented Winter's footnote in order to question Sotomayor's competence as a judge, when the footnote actually criticizes the attorney's misplaced reliance upon the opinion she authored."
In a post with the headline "More Sotomayor," following his original article headlined "The Case Against Sotomayor" (a headline that Rosen says he regrets and says he "hadn't seen in advance"), Rosen writes:
Some readers have questioned my account of how "a conservative colleague, Ralph Winter, included an unusual footnote in a case suggesting that an earlier opinion by Sotomayor [United States v. Samaria] might have inadvertently misstated the law in a way that misled litigants." Indeed, the footnote is hardly a model of clarity-and I can see why readers might not come to the same conclusion I reached. But the careful observers of the Second Circuit I talked to, who were familiar with the case, said Winter was widely assumed to be making an effort to be polite, avoiding direct criticism of his colleague while trying to distinguish Sotomayor's holding in Samaria from some loosely written dicta. In their view, Sotomayor's dicta in Samaria could indeed be read to call the earlier cases into question, just as the litigants suggested, and they believe Winter was trying to contain the damage to avoid embarrassing his colleague.
Rosen does acknowledge that he "can see why readers might not come to the same conclusion I reached," but then he justifies coming to that conclusion, not on the basis of what Winter actually wrote, but on the basis of what he says unnamed "careful observers ... said Winter was widely assumed to be" doing. In other words: Don't believe what you read; believe what I'm telling you "careful observers ... widely assumed" Winter meant. Moreover, if Rosen is right that Winter meant to criticize Sotomayor in the footnote for creating ambiguity by what Rosen calls "loosely written dicta," then Winter did so in a footnote that Rosen says "is hardly a model of clarity." So let's get this straight. Rosen supports his claim about "concerns about [Sotomayor's] command of technical legal details" by citing a footnote that Rosen himself acknowledges can be read differently from what Rosen says it means.
That would seem to constitute another in a growing list of reasons for why Rosen's article is "hardly a model" of fairness or sound legal reasoning.
Rosen did not respond to The New Yorker's Amy Davidson, who pointed out that Rosen cropped a comment by judge Jose Cabranes to make it appear as though Cabranes was critical of Sotomayor's intellect - and that, in fact, the full quote included praise for Sotomayor's intelligence.
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby notes that the simplistic right-wing claim that newspapers are failing because they're too liberal just doesn't make any sense:
Conservatives often accuse liberals, with reason, of clinging to emotion-based fantasies even when they are contradicted by real-world facts and results - of preferring to see what they believe, rather than believe what they see. But the right has its shibboleths too, and one of them is that liberal bias explains why so many newspapers are hurting.
Adds Jacoby [emphasis added]:
if liberal media bias is the explanation, why are undeniably left-of-center papers like the Globe, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle attracting more readers than ever when visitors to their websites are taken into account? How does liberal bias explain the shutdown of Denver's more conservative Rocky Mountain News, but not the more liberal Denver Post?
Newspapers are hurting because their traditional business model has been made obsolete. (Is this a mystery to anyone?) But conservatives prefer to concoct their own partisan, alternate universe explanation.
It's getting more and more clear that Jeffrey Rosen's TNR article about Sonia Sotomayor is nothing more than a hatchet job.
First we learned that Rosen wrote the piece before -- by his own admission -- he had read enough of her opinions or talked to enough people to get a "fully balanced picture of her strengths." Then we learned that Rosen misrepresented a statement by a colleague of Sotomayor in order to make her look bad. Now it turns out that Rosen also cropped a quote to omit praise of her intellect -- praise that would have been inconsistent with his premise that Sotomayor is intellectually inadequate for the Supreme Court.
The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was "not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench," as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. "She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue." (During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, "Will you please stop talking and let them talk?") The Second Circuit judge Jose Cabranes, who would later become her colleague, put this point more charitably in a 1995 interview with The New York Times: "She is not intimidated or overwhelmed by the eminence or power or prestige of any party, or indeed of the media."
But Cabranes wasn't making the point that Sotomayor was "not that smart," charitably or otherwise. In fact, he made precisely the opposite point. The New Yorker's Amy Davidson explains:
Actually, Cabranes was making a different point. Here's the part of his quote that Rosen-oddly enough-omits: "She's tough and tenacious as well as smart." That "smart" bit would have been helpful in a piece about whether she's smart. (One wonders, too, about Rosen's use of a quote that another judge "is said to have leaned over and said"-why the double said? If he couldn't get a transcript, then a citation, or some context, would be interesting; maybe she is a big bully. Or is this a line Rosen heard secondhand and couldn't nail down?)
So Rosen took a quote in which Cabranes called Sotomayor "smart," cropped out the bit about her being smart, and claimed that Cabranes was making the point that Sotomayor is "not that smart."
Wow. That's "No Exit"-level dishonest.
Maybe someday someone can explain to me why Stephen Glass gets (rightly) fired for making up quotes for The New Republic, but Jeffrey Rosen can crop a quote to make someone look like they said the opposite of what they really said -- and TNR doesn't even bother to correct the article.
Yesterday, I noted that Marc Ambinder suggested that Rep. Steve King thinks "sexuality shouldn't matter at all" - a description of King that is inconsistent with his opposition to gay rights. That followed a post on April 20 in which I questioned Ambinder's description of Republicans who wage anti-gay campaigns as "pro-gay."
After yesterday's post, Ambinder emailed a response, which I am posting below with his permission. Back in February, Ambinder wrote the following, under the headline "Get Out Of Your D$*#( Shells":
Here's a simple way to increase intellectual cross-pollination on the web: honest bloggers of the left and the right should try to interview at least one author/historian/politician from the other side of the aisle at least one a month. So -- Media Matters shouldn't just criticize Bernard Goldberg; they should interview him. Glenn Greenwald should, I don't know, see if Jack Goldsmith from Harvard would chat with him online. ... Righties interviewing righties has gotten so boring and repetitive; lefties fawning over lefties is lazy. Who's going to be brave enough to reach out to an ideological or intellectual opponent, promote their new book, or interview them?
In the spirit of the open dialogue between people who disagree that Ambinder advocated, I have interspersed responses to his email below.
"I excuse no one and nothing. I meant to mock Rep. Steve King for his inane and dangerous comments. My "generosity" was meant ironically, but I guess it doesn't come off that way in print.
It doesn't. Here's what Ambinder wrote of King: "You don't have to be Rep. Steve King -- who here implies that gay people wouldn't be bashed so long as they don't tell people about their sexual orientation -- to have a vague sense of that sexuality shouldn't matter at all, that sexual orientation should be irrelevant as a way of judging someone for any job, anywhere."
The construct "You don't have to be X to believe Y" clearly suggests that X does believe Y. I take Ambinder at his word that he did not mean to suggest that King thinks sexuality is irrelevant - but that's what he wrote.
As of 12:30 pm today, Ambinder's post still contains that language, with no clarification, despite the fact that he acknowledged yesterday that his comment about King "doesn't come off" the way he intended.
Ambinder, continuing directly:
You're writing about a report, incidentally, who regularly calls a significant portion of the GOP base "anti-gay" - not "anti-gay rights" or some circumlocution, but anti-gay. They oppose gay people, primarily, and as a consequence, oppose gay rights.
Many GOP strategists - most of the major names - and virtually all of the ones who work regularly in DC - are personally sympathetic to gay rights, although they often use the issue against gays, because that's how Republicans get elected in Republican areas. These strategists are cynical, yes, and they're not morally committed to the cause. They're more like alcoholics who failed rehab, they can't help themselves. That's what reporting suggests.
These two paragraphs seem to be a reference to my April 20 post. In that post, I took Ambinder to task for describing Republicans who participate in anti-gay political activity as "pro-gay." In his email above, Ambinder again stipulates that the Republicans in question "often use the issue [gay rights] against gays, because that's how Republicans get elected." This time Ambinder describes them as "personally sympathetic to gay rights" but "cynical" and "not morally committed to the cause" and "like alcoholics who failed rehab." Had he described them that way on April 17, I would not have criticized him. But he didn't describe them that way; he called them "pro-gay."
I stand by my contention that "pro-gay" is an absurd description for people who, by Ambinder's description, run anti-gay campaigns.
Ambinder, continuing directly:
Media Matters very often conflates "is" and "ought;" it takes observations and it turns them into prescriptions.
And reporters very often hide behind the contention that they are simply describing the world as it is. That defense often rings hollow, but rarely as hollow as it does here. Saying that Republicans who run anti-gay campaigns are really pro-gay isn't an "observation," it is a characterization. An obviously silly one. And neither of my posts have anything to do with what "ought" to be; they have to do with Ambinder's faulty descriptions of what is. Steve King is not someone who thinks sexuality doesn't matter. It is not the case that people who run campaigns attacking and opposing gay rights are pro-gay.
Further, Ambinder began his email by conceding that what he wrote about King did not convey his intended point. Now it seems he wants to be judged based on what he ought to have written.
Ambinder, continuing directly:
That's why we reporters ignore your criticisms most of the time. They're provocative, but often illogical.
My post went online at 3:25 yesterday afternoon. Ambinder's email response appeared in my inbox at 3:58 yesterday afternoon. Just sayin' ...
Ambinder, continuing directly:
Jamison's implication today is pretty audacious, and it's factually inaccurate, and easily correctable. Hence my response."
I don't know what Ambinder thinks I was implying, because he didn't say what he thinks I implied. But my point was quite clear: For the second time in recent weeks, Ambinder downplayed the extent of Republican anti-gay bigotry. That point is pretty well-supported by the facts, and I implied nothing beyond it.
For the record, I asked Ambinder what was factually inaccurate about my post, since he did not specify in his email. He declined the opportunity to identify any such inaccuracy. Should he or anyone else do so, I will correct my post.
In the meantime, I await a clarification to his post, explaining that he did not mean to suggest King does not think sexuality matters. As he has acknowledged privately, his intended point did not come through in print.