Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz held an online Q&A today. In light of last week's Q&A held by Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli, in which Brauchli ducked tough questions in favor of queries about fonts and byline formats, I submitted two questions to today's Kurtz Q&A:
You reported a week ago that Post exec editor Marcus Brauchli says the NYT misunderstood him over the summer; that he didn't say he had been unaware the Post's salon dinners were marketed as off the record. But Politico's Michael Calderone says Brauchli told him the same thing he told the Times, and he interpreted it the same way.
Have you asked Brauchli about this? It seems hard to believe that 2 different reporters at 2 different news orgs would misinterpret 2 different Brauchli comments precisely the same way.
So, CNN did a 4-hour immigration special. CNN's Lou Dobbs is one of the nation's leading critics of immigration policy. One of the experts interviewed for the special specifically criticized Dobbs' reporting. And CNN edited that criticism out before airing the interview.
Now, those two questions have something in common: They both raise issues that are uncomfortable for people who sign Howard Kurtz's paychecks. Actually, they have something else in common: Kurtz didn't take either of them.
Kurtz did take a question about the hugely-significant Steve Phillips ESPN sex scandal, a throwaway about the name of his television show, a conspiracy-theory rant about the government and media "terrorizing" people about H1N1, a few questions about sports programming, a comment about the Post's redesign, and several questions about CNN's competitors Fox News and MSNBC.
Obviously, these WaPo Q&As exist largely to promote the Post and its work. It's a shame some Post employees don't also see them as an opportunity to be accountable to their readers and take tough questions.
(It should be noted that some WaPo Q&A participants don't seem to duck difficult questions. Perry Bacon's last few sessions are an example. I've been pretty critical of several of his comments during Q&As, but he deserves credit for responding to pointed queries from readers.)
From the October 26 Associated Press article:
In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.
"If you look at the data and sort of cherry-pick a micro-trend within a bigger trend, that technique is particularly suspect," said John Grego, a professor of statistics at the University of South Carolina.
Yet the idea that things are cooling has been repeated in opinion columns, a BBC news story posted on the Drudge Report and in a new book by the authors of the best-seller "Freakonomics." Last week, a poll by the Pew Research Center found that only 57 percent of Americans now believe there is strong scientific evidence for global warming, down from 77 percent in 2006.
Global warming skeptics base their claims on an unusually hot year in 1998. Since then, they say, temperatures have dropped - thus, a cooling trend. But it's not that simple.
Since 1998, temperatures have dipped, soared, fallen again and are now rising once more. Records kept by the British meteorological office and satellite data used by climate skeptics still show 1998 as the hottest year. However, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA show 2005 has topped 1998. Published peer-reviewed scientific research generally cites temperatures measured by ground sensors, which are from NOAA, NASA and the British, more than the satellite data.
The recent Internet chatter about cooling led NOAA's climate data center to re-examine its temperature data. It found no cooling trend.
"The last 10 years are the warmest 10-year period of the modern record," said NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt. "Even if you analyze the trend during that 10 years, the trend is actually positive, which means warming."
The AP sent expert statisticians NOAA's year-to-year ground temperature changes over 130 years and the 30 years of satellite-measured temperatures preferred by skeptics and gathered by scientists at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Statisticians who analyzed the data found a distinct decades-long upward trend in the numbers, but could not find a significant drop in the past 10 years in either data set. The ups and downs during the last decade repeat random variability in data as far back as 1880.
Saying there's a downward trend since 1998 is not scientifically legitimate, said David Peterson, a retired Duke University statistics professor and one of those analyzing the numbers.
Identifying a downward trend is a case of "people coming at the data with preconceived notions," said Peterson, author of the book "Why Did They Do That? An Introduction to Forensic Decision Analysis."
Obama Derangement Syndrome truly knows no bounds in Malkin's hate-driven world. It's a demented zone where children are always targeted for political attack. Incredibly, Malkin today unveils dripping contempt for White House aide David Axelrod and his epileptic daughter. Why? Because Axelrod had the nerve to appear on 60 Minutes and discuss the disease.
Here's Malkin in full-shriek mode:
So is White House senior adviser/Astroturf master/Big Pharma beneficiary David Axelrod, who appeared on 60 Minutes with Katie Couric this weekend to talk about the epilectic daughter he never sees because he's so busy trying to salvage his boss's government health care takeover plans. The AP dutifully recycled the story -- which itself had been recycled from February's Parade magazine.
Stay classy Michelle.
From the October 26 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk:
Because the Chicago Tribune columnist completely botches the facts of the film in the process of becoming the latest media elite granted access into the CW Kingdom by dutifully concluding the White House should not fact check Fox News.
Here's Page's complete misreading of the classic 1970's film:
In fact, Fox is what their defenders say it is, not a political organization but a news operation. It just happens to have some strong right-wing voices like Beck and Hannity who happen to be two of Fox's biggest audience attractions. Such phenomena were forecast in the movie "Network" in 1976. Back then the idea of a half-deranged demagogue set loose on a national audience for the sake of ratings still sounded far-fetched. These days the movie looks almost like a documentary.
Um, wrong. That's not what Network was about, although Page is hardly alone in misstating the facts of the film. It routinely gets referenced, incorrectly, in media profiles of Glenn Beck, who we're told is just like the stark raving mad man from Network. In fact, Beck loves to push the idea that he's a modern day, I'm-mad-as-hell everyman like Howard Beale
Beale's unvarnished on-air rants from Network targeted conformity, corporate conglomerates, and the propaganda power of television. (Ironic, no?) Beale was non-partisan and rarely even mentioned politics in his (fictional) primetime rants. Beck, by contrast, is uniformly partisan as he unleashes his anger against, and whips up dark scenarios about, the president of the United States.
From today's Washington Post online Q&A with Howard Kurtz:
Bluffton, SC: In your blog on Friday you wrote this referring to MSNBC and its liberal hosts: "though that channel does give Joe Scarborough three hours a day, while no liberal has a show on Fox News." Although Joe considers himself a conservative the majority of the guests (not to mention his co-host) are decidedly liberal. And when it comes to interviewing members of Congress, Democrats seem to get twice as much airtime as Republicans. Poor Paul Ryan got a grand total of 3 minutes on Friday's show.
Howard Kurtz: I haven't noticed a tilt on the Morning Joe guest front at all. During the campaign, McCain people came on as often as Obama people. Peggy Noonan is a regular, and Pat Buchanan is on an awful lot. So I think it's fair to hold up Scarborough as an exception to MSNBC's generally liberal opinion lineup.
Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon, during an online Q&A today:
Perry Bacon Jr.: The public option shift was dramatic and in many ways, I don't quite know what happened. I think we may have misstated the strength of the opposition to the public option in the first place, but i think the members changed their view on this as well.
Well, that has been obvious for months. What Bacon doesn't address, and should, is why the media overstated the strength of the opposition to the public option. What could they do better the next time? Does this indicate they listen to the wrong "experts"?
It's not like there haven't been clear indications all along that the media was overstating the strength of opposition to the public option. Why didn't they pay attention? Bacon gave no indication that he's considering that question.
Glenn Beck promotes the ludicrous lie that Nancy Pelosi is going to try to ban Fox News from "covering Congress":
If you follow the link, you'll see why this is an obvious lie: in the made-up quote attributed to Pelosi, she talks about "the efficacy of single payer health insurance." Single-payer, of course, is not on the table.
So which is it: Is Glenn Beck dumb enough to believe the quote was true, or dishonest enough to hype it knowing it wasn't? Or both?
Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel is petrified by the mafia-style brand of hardball politics that the Obama White House practices. (i.e. "The gang") Did you know he's from Chicago?!
The idea that the right-wing media is trying to portray Obama has some sort of street-fighting ruthless pol strikes me as comical since it's the exact opposite of the impression most Americans seem to have of the centrist, low-key president. The fact that the charge is so far off the mark may be why Strassel has so much trouble filling in the blanks in her column about how "bare-knuckle" the Obama crew is. The examples she points to are really quite lame.
Like this [emphasis added]:
This summer Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl criticized stimulus dollars. Obama cabinet secretaries sent letters to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. One read: "if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to the state, as Senator Kyl suggests," let us know.
The horror! Cabinet secretaries "sent letters."
Or this one:
When Sens. Robert Bennett and Lamar Alexander took issue with the administration's czars, the White House singled them out, by name, on its blog.
Oh mercy! The White House singled a senator out by name, on its blog.
If Stressel's going to preach this meme in the future, I suggest she come up with some actual proof of Obama's "bare-knuckle" ways, and leave out the examples of pedestrian politics she breathlessly cites here.