Earlier today, Media Matters posted an item about Newt Gingrich spreading falsehoods on the social networking website Twitter. The former Speaker, responding to an observation by his wife Callista, falsely claimed that there had been "no [oil] spill since 1969" in waters off the Santa Barbara coast in California:
In a Twitter post, Newt Gingrich falsely claimed that there have been no oil spills in the waters off Santa Barbara since 1969. In fact, there were at least two oil spills reported in or near the Santa Barbara Channel in just the last few months, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Well, it looks like Gingrich didn't like being called out for his Twittery falsehood. Steve Everley, a research assistant over at the American Enterprise Institute has a post up on Newt's American Solutions blog defending the former Speaker.
Everley suggests in his response that Media Matters misrepresented what the Associated Press reported on February 18 regarding an oil spill off of the southern California coast. Everley writes (his emphasis):
The second "oil spill" mentioned was actually light lubricant oil mixed with a soap used to clean the platforms. It was not crude oil as the MMFA report implied.
In fact, Media Matters included this very information quoting the following directly from the AP's report:
A mixture of oily lubricant and water was still leaking from an ExxonMobil platform two days after the first report of a spill off the Southern California coast, federal and state officials said Wednesday.
Moreover, in his ten paragraph response to the Media Matters item in question, Everley acknowledges that there was at least one oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, though he attempts to explain it away saying "its impact was virtually non-existent."
In other words, Newt said there had been NO oil spills since 1969 and Everley responded that there had been an oil spill in February…but that spill wasn't too significant.
Significant or not, Everley's defense only serves to undermine Newt's original tweet.
By the way, if you use Twitter, you should really be following Media Matters.
With its online article headlined [emphasis added]:
Obama's Choice to Bare Arms Causes Uproar: First Lady's Sleeveless Fashion Choices Draw Criticism
We get that first ladies make news with their fashion sense, and we get that Michelle Obama's sleeveless dresses have cause a bit of stir, and that's fine. If ABC News wants to cover that, be our guest.
But it's the pointlessly breathless coverage ("The latest arms controversy embroiling the White House...") and the lame reporting effort that makes our head hurt. Because after reading the article you discover the ABC reporter only talked to two people for the article (or at least only two were quoted); a reporter for the Politico and a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. But neither of them directly criticized the Obama's fashion choices.
So where was the "uproar" and "criticism" and "controversy" coming from? The only proof ABC pointed to was the fact that some Sun-Times readers posted comments online saying they didn't like the sleeveless look in the winter. That's it. That's the premise for the entire article.
And yes, we're guessing if we went to the Sun-Times website we could find readers who left comments praising Obama's fashion. But that's not the story ABC wanted to tell.
Pass the aspirin.
Terry Krepel over at ConWebWatch (he's also a Media Matters senior editor) destroys a Fox News Forum post by Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters associate editor, in which Shepard attacks Sen. John Kerry for calling Media Matters and ThinkProgress "good folks" while writing about the George Will global warming controversy on Huffington Post.
What Kerry chose to hide from readers was his wife's connection to these so-called "good folks."
ThinkProgress is the blog of the far-left leaning Center for American Progress. Contribution records show CAP having taken funds from the Tides Foundation, an organization that's received a great deal of money from the Howard Heinz Endowment chaired by -- wait for it! -- the junior senator from Massachusetts' wife Teresa Heinz Kerry.
2008 grantees of Tides' included the Center for American Progress Action Fund — a partner of CAP's — AND the Media Matters Action Network — a partner of MMA's.
Well, as Krepel points out:
There's just little one problem with Sheppard's conspiracy theory: it's not true.
As we and others have detailed, Heinz Kerry's donations to the Tides Foundation have been explicitly earmarked toward specific projects in Pennsylvania, making it impossible for that money to have gone toward CAP or Media Matters. Thus, the entire premise of Sheppard's article is false.
Curiously, at no point does Sheppard address the actual claims CAP and Media Matters have made about Will's false statements on global warming, nor does he mention that Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander has raised questions about the claims and the editing process that allowed them into Will's column.
Tucker Carlson, in a Washington Post online discussion:
Tucker Carlson: I've never been to Daily Kos (the guy who runs it -- Marcos something or other - may be the single most pompous person I have ever met) but for the record let me say that I think global warming is a crock too.
The latest: Some Republicans wanted to support Obama's stimulus package--no, really--it's just that Nancy Pelosi ruined everything. See, it's Pelosi, not Republicans, who completely scuttled Obama's hope for bipartisanship.
Newsweek headlines it this way;
Obama's Pelosi Problem: The president has laid out a paradigm-shifting agenda. There will be pushback from the GOP—but less, perhaps, were it not for the House Speaker.
I doubt RNC aides could have written it better themselves.
...or home. Good grief, I'm not going to be able to sleep for weeks.
ABC News reports on "upper-income taxpayers" who are trying to reduce their income so they avoid proposed tax increases on those earning more than $250,000.
According to ABC, one attorney "plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law." According to the attorney: "We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00." ABC also quotes a dentist who is trying to figure out how to reduce her income.
This is stunningly wrong.
The ABC article is based on the premise that an individual's entire income is taxed at the same rate. If that were the case, it would be possible for a family earning $249,999 to have a higher after-tax income than a family earning $255,000, because the family earning $249,999 would pay a lower tax rate.
But that isn't actually how income tax works.
In reality, a family earning $255,000 will pay the higher tax rate only on its last $5,001 in income; the first $249,999 will continue to be taxed at the old rate. So intentionally lowering your income from $255,000 to $249,999 is counter-productive; it will result in a lower after-tax income.
The people ABC quoted don't seem to understand that. Worse, ABC doesn't seem to understand it, either.
UPDATE: Another thing: the last third of the ABC article is devoted to the question -- posed in large, bold text -- "Does Obama Tax Plan Promote Class Warfare?" I addressed the media's absurd and one-sided use of the loaded term "class warfare" in my column last week.
UPDATE 2: ABC acknowledges flaws, re-writes article.
From ABC News:
President Barack Obama's tax proposal -- which promises to increase taxes for those families with incomes of $250,000 or more -- has some Americans brainstorming ways to decrease their pay, even if it's just by a dollar.
A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law.
So far, Obama's tax plan is being looked at skeptically by both Democrats and Republicans and therefore may not pass at all.
"We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00," she said.
Dr. Sharon Poczatek, who runs her own dental practice in Boulder, Colo., said that she too is trying to figure out ways to get out of paying the taxes proposed in Obama's plan.
"I've put thought into how to get under $250,000," said Poczatek. "It would mean working fewer days which means having fewer employees, seeing fewer patients and taking time off."
The New York Times today notes that Santelli's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was yanked, with a CNBC flak telling the Times, "It was time to move on to the next big story."
As I suggested in my column this week, real damage was done to the cabler by Santelli's on-air rant, his prancing around right-wing radio where he concocted stories, and by CNBC's decision to relentlessly hype Santelli's performance. That a biz reporter would uncork such a partisan outburst on air, crossing all normal bounds of journalism, and then be celebrated, revealed a real deficiency in leadership at CNBC.
It's nice to see execs there have belatedly caught on to the error of their ways.
Aside from labeling Obama a radical this morning on NBC's Today, Cramer uncorked this beaut:
"The stock market is the country right now."
Oh brother. Wasn't that pretty much the CNBC-driven mindset that helped set the table for the current economic calamity? This idea that Wall Street is America. And that Wall Street's (often irrational) needs must be satisfied first and foremost. And that Wall Street's happiness is paramount to every citizen prospering.
Truth is, citizens are going to spend years bailing out Wall Street and fixing the problems that Cramer's stock market idols helped create. It's probably time for media talking heads to walk away from this very 2004 notion that Wall Street=America.
UPDATE: And did Cramer really blame Obama's proposed budget for unprecedented "wealth destruction." Sorry, but longtime Wall Street heroes like Bernie Madoff, and Street icons AIG and Citicorp, have probably destroyed more wealth in the last four months than any administration will ever be responsible for.
Like we said: Jim Cramer, please go away.
Emanuel on CBS's Face the Nation re: GOP and Limbaugh:
Whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood.
GOP chief Michael Steele on Monday, after calling Limbaugh's show "ugly" over the weekend:
My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.
Question: Why did Politico leave out Rahm's bulls-eye quote when reporting on Steele's bow down to Limbaugh?