Last week, Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard wrote a lengthy post about what he is calling the "War Against Conservative Opinion (WACO)" -- a purported government effort to take away the guns and liberty of law-abiding citizens. The Waco tragedy, of course, has been used as a rallying cry for right-wing activists in the past. Timothy McVeigh, for example, blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City out of anger over Waco. So it is at least creepy, if not dangerous, for Sheppard to run around shouting "Waco!" over and over, all the while promoting the fiction that the Obama administration has a secret plan to seize guns.
But today, Sheppard is back at it, referring to a Department of Homeland Security assessment of the growth of right-wing extremist groups as a "scary document" and asking: "Is the Obama administration now fueling the fire of the Left's War Against Conservative Opinion?" Sheppard concludes his post: "Want to talk about the WACO?"
Glenn Beck's recent stunt in which he doused a guest in gasoline while saying "Maybe I'm alone, but I think it would be just faster if they just shot me in the head. ... President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" can also be seen as an invocation of Waco -- 76 people died in the fire that destroyed the Branch Davidian compound, ending the siege.
Rasmussen's daily tracking poll really has become a lifeline for conservative bloggers who cling to the notion that Obama's not really that popular and that Americans don't really approve of him. The far-right outpost Power Line takes great comfort from Rasmussen's latest findings. Here's Power Line breaking the good news to readers:
Overall, Obama's approval rating of 55% is remarkably steady and not very high for a President still in his first three months in office. The significance of the current numbers is that the small bounce Obama got from his apology tour of Europe was transient.
Keep in mind that Rasmussen consistently tracks Obama's approval rating well below most other pollsters. And also keep in mind that Rasmussen served as something of a GOP lifeline last fall because it was perhaps the only major polling firm that showed McCain with even the slightest chance at winning down the stretch. But none of that matters to Power Line because Rasmussen says Obama's approval rating is just 55%.
What vital information does Power Line protect its readers from digesting? Just the recent CNN poll that showed Obama enjoying a 66% approval rating, and the CBS/NYT poll that also pegged Obama's rating at a sky-high 66%. Or that 71% trust Obama to fix the economy, according to Gallup. Or that CBS/NYT found 35% think America is heading in the right direction, which marks a three-year high.
But for Power Line, none of that matters because Rasmussen says Obama is doing just OK. And if that poll it didn't exist, Power Line would likely invent it.
And now an important health advisory from Media Matters for America:
Washington Post reporter Michael Fletcher, today:
Think of the instant analysis after political debates about who "won." Remember Al Gore's eye roll? What did that have to with the substance of his answers? But did it say somehting about his personality? Rightly or wrongly, these incidents often come to define presidents, and I don't think it is just because of the media coverage.
Given that polls taken immediately after Gore's debates with Bush found that viewers thought Gore won - and that much of the immediate post-debate media analysis suggested that he had won as well - it's pretty clear that the media's obsessive focus on his sighing and other nonsense is precisely the reason why those incidents came to define him. Viewers reacted positively to Gore.
It was only after the media endlessly beat him up for sighing and supposedly lying and other non-transgressions that the public saw him as an over-sighing, over-lying phony. If reporters want to claim that the media isn't responsible for the fact that silly things "come to define presidents," they should probably come up with a better example than their treatment of Al Gore.
The item's based on the report from Variety that HBO has optioned Halerpin's 2010 campaign book about the 2008 election. But we can't help amplifying Gawker's tweak about Halperin sort of failing his way up the media food chain.
Consider this. His 2006 book, co-written by John Harris, was called The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. The book was pitched as a Beltway insider's guide to the 2008 race and who had the inside track for victory. But guess whose name did not appear--was not referenced once--in the book about the upcoming 2008 election.
PROMISES, PROMISES: Is Obama dog a rescue or not?
And here's the lede:
Is Bo a rescued dog or not? Did President Obama keep or break a campaign promise in picking the purebred as the family's new pet?
A few paragraphs later:
Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said during the presidential campaign that they had promised their two girls a dog after the election.
The Obamas repeatedly said they wanted it to be a rescued dog such as one from a shelter.
Wait: the Obamas said they "wanted" a rescue dog? That sure doesn't sound like a "campaign promise" that they would get a rescue dog.
A little further down:
The Humane Society's Pacelle acknowledged that the Obamas never flat-out promised to get a dog from a pound or rescue group. And the society has kind words for Obama on its Web site: "Thanks, Mr. President, for giving a second-chance dog a forever home," it says.
So, there was no promise to get a rescue dog? The Associated Press just made that up in order to "ask" whether Obama had broken a campaign promise? A campaign promise that was never made?
Maybe the AP should spend a little less time worrying about who is quoting their work, and a little more time ensuring their work is worth quoting.
Ever wonder why your letter to the New York Times wasn't published? Editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal explains:
I'll be honest: Because of the nature of our readers, letter writers who defend Republican, conservative or right-wing positions on many topics have a higher shot at being published.
I'll be honest: That seems to say something about the nature of the New York Times, not the paper's readers.
And it reminds me of the Appleton Post-Crescent, which drew criticism a few years ago for an editorial that solicited pro-Bush letters to the editor.
Leave it to Politico to completely botch things up.
Yesterday, a three-judge panel in Minnesota officially declared Al Franken the winner in the U.S. Senate race between him and incumbent Norm Coleman, who's currently in month number five of his election appeals. Coleman's now going to appeal the judges' ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and if he loses there, he might take his case to federal court, which could drag things out through for much of the year.
OK, that's the background. Here's Politico's priceless write-up [emphasis added]:
Even as the two sides were awaiting Monday's ruling, they were engaged in a message war - with Franken's allies amping up the pressure on Coleman to quit and Republicans blaming Franken for dragging out the process.
So not only won't Politico finally come out and call Norm Coleman a sore loser for adopting his rope-a-dope legal strategy, but Politico conveyor belts the GOP claim that it's Franken who's dragging the proceedings out.
"Did Obama Break a Pledge to Adopt a Rescue Dog?" asks the ABC News headline. The news org's crack staff is all over the the case, digging out a three-word utterance Obama made seven months ago when he suggested the dog his daughters were going to get would be a "a rescue dog." (The Obama's new puppy, Bo, is not a rescue dog.)
But then ABC notes that five months ago, Obama seemed to back off that notion, therefore, "It would seem that the president didn't ever make a 'promise' or 'pledge' to adopt a shelter dog," according to ABC.
End of story? Not quite. ABC reports, "Animal rights activists are chagrined with his decision." But are they? We learn that "Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO Humane Society of the United States, issued a statement congratulating the Obamas for 'taking in a second-chance dog. Bo is a Portuguese water dog who was apparently returned by the family that originally purchased him.' " [Emphasis added.]
Where's the chagrin? ABC claims Pacelle was "was clearly disappointed" (ABC's words, not Pacelle's). Why? Here's the proof. In his statement, Pacelle note that families:
"like the Obamas, who are interested in a particular breed of animal or have special circumstances such as allergies in their household, can turn to their local animal shelter or breed rescue group. About one-quarter of all dogs in shelters are purebreds, many surrendered by their owners like the new First Dog."
Seems that if the Humane Society's CEO were "disappointed" and "chagrined" about the Obama puppy pick, he would make those statements himself and reporters wouldn't have to interpret those conclusions on their own, yes?
In fact, in a Hill article, Pacelle is quoted praising the first family:
"Americans can follow this positive example by visiting their local animal shelter or breed rescue group, and giving another dog or cat a second chance at a loving home."
UPDATE: The AP is also doing due diligence, devoting more than 1,000 words to unraveling the riddle of whether Obama kept his "campaign promise" regarding his new dog. The AP's all excited about "the twists and turns" of the Obama dog, which "make for the kind of intrigue that political junkies" often "delight in."
Behold your press corps at work.
It's always interesting to see what the Newsbusters crew thinks the media should be paying more attention to. Today: