Specifically, for the team of top notch reporters who are trying to cover the most complex and challenging economic story of our lifetime. And by most accounts they're doing a good job staying on top of the constantly changing crisis.
The embarrassing part is when they open up the opinion pages of their own newspaper and see the editorials about the economy that read like they were penned by pledging members of the Young Republicans club.
Like the Journal's attempt to blame Obama for the downturn in the stock market. Only a fool would make that case. (i.e. Slumping housing prices in December and January were Obama's fault? Okay.....) But that's what the Journal proudly did this week:
As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.
Over at NPR, Dick Meyer makes what should be this glaringly obvious point:
The idea of blaming one person for the downfall of the economy with a gross domestic product of about $14 trillion, powered by 300 million people and engaged in complex global commerce is nuts — whether that person is Bush, Obama, Alan Greenspan, Bernard Madoff, Osama bin Laden or the editors of opinions at The Wall Street Journal.
And if the Journal wants to toss around numbers to play the stock market blame game, Meyer notes [emphasis added]:
The rather more substantial fall came when the Dow was hovering around 14,000 in October 2007 and then tanked to 7552 on Nov. 20, 2008? That would mean, using the nastiest numbers, that the Dow fell about 46.5 percent on President Bush's watch. So far during the Obama administration, the Dow has dropped 15 percent.
This is getting tiresome:
This weekend I will be appearing on DC 50's Weekend News with Chris Core in Washington, DC. Jason Mattera from Young America's Foundation and I were paired up for a discussion about Rush Limbaugh's influence within the conservative movement. The show will air on channel 50 in Washington, DC on Saturday at 6:30pm and Sunday at 4pm. If you live in the DC area, tune in to check it out. We'll also try to post a clip of the segment here on County Fair after the program airs.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has a challenge for Bill O'Reilly:
This week Bill O'Reilly launched a baseless attack on members of the Service Employees International Union. O'Reilly smeared our 2 million hardworking men and women as "socialists" and "far-left extremists" trying to bring down "our capitalistic system."
Riiiight. SEIU members responded to O'Reilly by inviting the "news" man to walk a day in their shoes and find out what it's like to work in a real job.
Since Bill O'Reilly is so sure that SEIU is bent on destroying the very fabric of our society, it'd be nice for him to meet some of our members and see who makes up our union.
Do you think Bill O'Reilly could even last 10 minutes in the shoes of one of these hard-working Americans? Now is your chance to find out. Tell Bill O'Reilly to walk a day in the shoes of an SEIU member before he slams hardworking people.
Andrew Malcolm, who used to work for Laura Bush, blogs politics at the Times and types up inanities with numbing regularity. Today he mocks the homeless -- or at least the very poor of Washington, D.C. -- while taking a swipe at Michelle Obama's volunteer work.
The point of his pointless item was that Obama put in some time at a soup kitchen not far from the White House, but that one of the men in line pulled out a cell phone to snap a photo of the first lady.
Malcolm, suddenly on the beat as a poverty cop, demands:
If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone? And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?
And by the way, the soup kitchen Obama volunteered at is privately funded, which means it's nobody's business who it serves or doesn't serve. But media elite Malcolm, sitting in some comfortable office, demands answers about just how poor the poor people are who are lined up for free food in the nation's capital.
UPDATE: Right-wing bloggers think the item's funny: Ha-ha, poor people don't have phones!!
UPDATE: Writes Tbogg:
Later Malcolm will review older pictures from the last Republican Depression That FDR Was Responsible For and wonder why all the poor guys begging for bread were wearing such spiffy suits and nice hats.
Married to the GOP talking point about how Obama's gutting the economy and ruining Wall Street, the Beltway press remains borderline hysterical about the fact that Obama hasn't fixed everything already. Americans, though, aren't quite so irrational.
Here's Klein today in The Note perfectly parroting the GOP line (that's pretty much his job description):
On a political level, how long can the president muster the public support for his prescriptions, without tangible evidence that they're working?
If Klein bothered to read polling data, that exact question has already been answered. But we fear Klein and the rest of the press aren't going to like the results.
As Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight recently highlighted, the latest NBC/WSJ poll found that a strong majority of Americans (66 percent) won't begin to assign to Obama responsibility for the performance of the economy until 2010, and 43 percent won't until 2011.
The press ought to just take a deep breath before assigning blame. But with conservatives pushing their it's-Obama's-fault line of attack, we doubt journalists will be able to resist.
Daniel Gross, business columnist for Newsweek and author of Slate.com's Moneybox column, debunks claims by Larry Kudlow, Michael Gerson (and countless others) that Barack Obama is waging class war on the rich:
It's hard to overstate how absurd these claims are. First, let's talk about the "massive increase in progressivity" that Gerson deplores. It consists largely (but not exclusively) of returning marginal tax rates to their levels of 2001, before Gerson and the epically incompetent Bush administration of which he was a part got their hands on the reins of power.
[W]e know from recent experience that marginal tax rates of 36 percent and 39 percent aren't wealth killers. I was around in the 1990s, when tax rates were at that level, and when capital gains and dividend taxes were significantly higher than they are today. And I seem to remember that we had a stock market boom, a broad rise in incomes (with the wealthy benefitting handily), and strong economic growth.
Finally, there has been a near total absence of discussion of what higher rates will mean in the real world. Say you're a CNBC anchor, or a Washington Post columnist with a seat at the Council on Foreign Relations, or a dentist, and you managed to cobble together $350,000 a year in income. You're doing quite well. If you subtract deductions for state and property taxes, mortgage interest and charitable deductions, and other deductions, the amount on which tax rates are calculated might total $300,000. What would happen if the marginal rate on the portion of your income above $250,000 were to rise from 33 percent to 36 percent? Under the old regime, you'd pay $16,500 in federal taxes on that amount. Under the new one, you'd pay $18,000. The difference is $1,500 per year, or $4.10 per day. Obviously, the numbers rise as you make more. But is $4.10 a day bleeding the rich, a war on the wealthy, a killer of innovation and enterprise? That dentist eager to slash her income from $320,000 to $250,000 would avoid the pain of paying an extra $2,100 in federal taxes. But she'd also deprive herself of an additional $70,000 in income!
Can she, or we, really be that stupid?
Gross also makes a point too often overlooked: "this return to 2001's tax rates was actually part of the Bush tax plan. The Republicans who controlled the White House and the Republicans who controlled the Congress earlier this decade decreed that all the tax cuts they passed would sunset in 2010."
Read the whole thing; it -- along with this column from Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times -- is a rare sensible and factual take on Obama's budget proposals in the midst of a lot of media hyperventilation about "class war."
Big shock, we know. But today Kurtz transcribes GOP talking points that the White House under no circumstances is allowed to mention Rush Limbaugh's name and that by answering reporters' questions about Limbaugh, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is "going after private citizens." Because apparently the First Amendment no longer applies to the White House.
But here's where Kurtz plays dumb, as he puffs up Limbaugh:
For nearly two decades, the radio host has masterfully inserted himself into political disputes by pushing the usual boundaries. In last year's Democratic primaries, he tried to derail Obama with what he dubbed Operation Chaos, urging his followers to cross over and vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
See, Limbaugh's a master. Except when he's not. Like, oh, I don't know, 12 months ago when he launched a jihad against John McCain, announcing that under no circumstances was he to become the nominee of the Republican Party.
And what did Republican voters nationwide do in response? They promptly ignored Limbaugh's rantings and handed McCain an easy nomination victory.
Yep, that Rush is a real master.
UPDATE: More of the right-wing nonsense (courtesy of Fox News) that Rush Limbaugh should be "free to speak his mind," but that's it's basically illegal for the White House to respond.
We knew Cramer lived to hear himself talk, but this is getting ridiculous. Borrowing a page from Limbaugh, Cramer has penned a tedious open letter to the White House where he, in part, fantasizes that he's on the Obama Enemies List. Why? Because Cramer's name was brought up by a reporter at a White House press briefing this week.
That apparently signaled to Cramer that he needed to write more about himself under the guise of writing about the administration and the stock market.
-Number of times Cramer refers to "Obama" in open letter to White House: 9.
-Number of times Cramer refers to himself in open letter to White House: 43.
It reminds me of a passage from the recent Esquire profile of Cramer:
Because the only subject more fascinating to Jim Cramer than the stock market is, naturally, Jim Cramer.
From today's Newark Star-Ledger: