The New York Times goes deep today on it's-all-a-hoax point man Marc Morano, the former flack for Sen. Senator James Inhofe. Morano's got a new six-figure job pushing out misinformation (our words, not the Times') about global warming and trying to aggressively influence the media as the issue of curbing carbon dioxide emissions gets debated in Congress.
The Times piece is mostly helpful in letting readers know that Morano is in no way an independent or reliable source about global warming. Instead, he's a purely political player. Reporters should be clear about that when quoting him in coming weeks and months.
P.S. Favorite oxymoron from the Times article: "After college, Mr. Morano worked as a reporter for Rush Limbaugh."
Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communistic, Marxism and Marxist.
Here are the numbers for yesterday, Thursday, April 9, 2009:
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 32
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 26
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 1
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 3
CNN Headline News: 4
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 4
Fox News Channel: 17
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 7
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 10
Fox Business Network: 18
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 16
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 2
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 5
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 7
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 3
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.
Maybe that's the future of conservative media criticism: pan the evil liberal media for its coverage before it happens.
Here's Cavuto yesterday, hyping next week's, right-wing anti-Obama rallies:
You might have heard we're going to be out in Sacramento a week or so from now to cover the tea party protest on the 15th. You might have heard a lot of news organizations are not going to be there. I know why we are there. I'm not sure why they are not. Apparently these populist protests don't count much for them. Millions concerned that they are being taxed to death concerns them even less.
So Cavuto has inside information on how news orgs across the country are going to cover an event "a week or so" from now? That's a nifty trick.
P.S. Did Cavuto really predict that "millions" will participate in the anti-government events next week?
Considering that it's a lazy and inaccurate description.
Yet the inappropriate tag pops up everywhere. Time's "Glenn Beck: The Fears of a Clown," is an interesting read and he raises lots of worthy points. But it's just hard to get past this:
The new populist superstar of Fox News has made a refrain of predicting that government policies are leading to disaster — dark, ruinous, blood-in-the-streets kind of disaster.
On what planet does the guy who defends the AIG bonuses automatically win the "populist" tag? (How about "elitist"?) Or the guy who claims the new president is going to take away your guns? (How about, "fearmonger"?) Or the the guy who does this.
Stop playing nice with Beck. Just be factually accurate instead.
Writes Michael A. Cohen in Politico:
While Democrats have sought to tie Republicans to Rush Limbaugh, his attacks are tame compared with those of Beck, who spoke recently of creeping fascism as visuals of Nazi rallies played behind him. His occasionally unhinged attacks of strung-together nonsequiturs about the evils of Big Government provide little in the way of constructive solutions to the country's vast problems...Republicans need to make a decision: Are they going to cater to the paranoid fears of self-styled "truth tellers" like Beck, or are they going to present a substantive policy alternative to Democratic rule? For the good of the party, and the country, let's hope it's the latter.
The new Republican leadership has drawn a line in the sand. Then dug it out and filled it with concrete. Rush Limbaugh is the One True Voice of God. Dissent and other forms of thinking will not be tolerated.
UPDATE: The far-right blog Little Green Footballs agrees with Cohen:
He's right. This turn toward the extreme right on the part of Fox News is troubling, and will achieve nothing in the long run except further marginalization of the GOP—unless people start behaving like adults instead of angry kids throwing tantrums and ranting about conspiracies and revolution.
UPDATE: From conservative blogger Rick Moran:
Beck worries me. Conservatives worry me. I worry about myself. I feel trapped in a huge ball of cotton, trying gamely to make my way out but don't know which direction to start pushing. I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown - and an irrational one at that.
Today's entry comes courtesy of CNN.com:
Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is "intensely secular" and "anti-religious," the former House Speaker's second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week. In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama's choice of Harry Knox — an outspoken activist for gay rights — to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.
See here for all the questions I raised yesterday re: daily coverage of Gingrich's Groundhog Day-like partisan rhetoric.
The bottom line: It's not news.
Reporters tend to bristle when media critics refer to them as "stenographers." But Paul Kane of the Washington Post provides a pretty clear illustration of where that criticism comes from. Here's something Kane said during an online discussion Kane participated in today (the discussion carries tomorrow's date, but tomorrow hasn't occurred yet, so please believe me when I say it took place today):
Paul Kane: We reported what Olympia Snowe said. That's what she said. That's what Republicans are saying. I really don't know what you want of us.
Got that? Olympia Snowe said something, Paul Kane wrote it down, and he doesn't know what more anyone could want from him.
Well, it isn't very complicated: Context. That's what people want. Like the fact that Olympia Snowe had previously voted to do exactly what Kane quotes her criticizing -- that's useful context.
And that's the difference between "journalism" and "stenography."
Here's the full question-and-answer:
New York, N.Y.: Paul, do you care to defend yourself against this criticism from Media Matters?
"In an April 9 article about Democrats' legislative priorities, The Washington Post wrote, 'Democrats are sure to incite Republicans if they adopt a shortcut that would allow them to pass major health-care and education bills with just 51 votes in the Senate, where Democrats are two seats shy of the filibuster-proof margin of 60 seats. The rule, known as 'reconciliation,' would fuel GOP charges that (President) Obama has ditched bipartisanship.' The article, by Paul Kane and Shailagh Murray, then quoted Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) saying, 'If they exercise that tool, it's going to be infinitely more difficult to bridge the partisan divide.' However, Kane and Murray did not mention that congressional Republicans -- including Snowe herself -- voted to allow the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass major Bush administration initiatives. Indeed, Murray herself noted in an April 1 article that '(a)dvocates defend reconciliation as a legitimate tool used more often by Republicans in recent years, most notably to pass President George W. Bush's tax cuts.' "
Paul Kane: I'm sorry, what's to defend?
Someone tell Media Matters to get over themselves and their overblown ego of righteousness. We reported what Olympia Snowe said. That's what she said. That's what Republicans are saying. I really don't know what you want of us. We are not opinion writers whose job is to play some sorta gotcha game with lawmakers.
That's what columns and blogs are for. Look, Republcians will take reconciliation as a serious poison pill to Obama's so-called bipartisan/post-partisan era. The Republicans did this, in the most direct correlation, with welfare in the mid-90s. And Democrats took it as a vicious partisan maneuver.
That's what is happening, that's what we reported. [Emphasis added]
At least Villager Mark Halperin does. He billboards Karl Rove's utterly predictable WSJ column, in which he criticizes the Obama administration. Again. (It's only March and Rove reads like he's already out of new Obama-era ideas.)
From Halperin's The Page:
Karl Rove op-ed smashes Obama....Developing...
Love the Drudgy "Developing..." shtick. Like Rove saying mean things about Obama is breaking news. Like the Beltway is going to spend the whole day wrestling with the ramifications. And that of course the White House will have to weigh in.
The kicker, though, is that Rove's tsk-tsk column is all about how Obama is so partisan and polarizing.
UPDATE: How shallow is Rove's column? It's built around the idea that Obama's waaaay too partisan and it's going to cost him politically. Interesting, except for the fact that public polling already indicates voters blame Republicans for the lack of bipartisan cooperation. Meaning, Rove's entire column is knocked down by polling data, which Rove conveniently fails to reference.
In the wake of a string of shootings, including last weekend's slaying of three Pittsburgh police officers by Richard Poplawski, a conspiracy theorist who worried the government would take away his guns, Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard is rather unsubtly invoking Waco, under the guise of adding a new acronym to the paranoid Right's vocabulary.
Forgive the lengthy excerpt, but it is important to see exactly how Sheppard is using the term:
SHEPPARD: The War Against Conservative Opinion (WACO) took an interesting turn on Saturday when liberal bloggers blamed right-leaning media members -- in particular, Fox News's Glenn Beck -- for the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In the end, what's important here is that a new strategy in the WACO has clearly begun, and people better sit up and take notice for the very folks attacking those defending the Second Amendment are disgracefully trying to restrict the First.
Sensing their dream of all radio stations resembling Air America was fading away, the Left concocted a new scare tactic: conservative talkers are a security risk because they are inciting violence. People like Beck aren't just opposing the new President's ideas; they're making America a more dangerous place for law-abiding citizens to walk the streets.
Less than 24 hours later, the aforementioned cop killings took place in Oakland, but they couldn't act as an anti-conservative rallying point because the assailant was an African American that ended up being hailed as a hero by the Marxists in his community.
Enter Poplawski stage right whose rampage the very next day by a man apparently clinging to his guns if not his religion perfectly fit the bill.
And the war was on.
As a result, for the foreseeable future, a conservative talker will likely be blamed for every criminal act that can be somehow connected to anything uttered by a right-leaning media member until such individual is fired.
Though the accusers innocently claim this is not their intention, this is EXACTLY what this new WACO strategy is about - getting rid of all the voices in America that don't agree with the direction the far-left and the President they got elected are taking this nation.
So, to sum up:
Despite the fact that neither President Obama nor the Democratic Congress has announced any plans to pursue gun control legislation, right-wing media and activists have been warning ominously that the government is going to come to take away from freedom-loving citizens.
They have resurrected the insane anti-government rhetoric of the 1990s, ranting about an emerging "global government" and the government "tak[ing] your liberty and your property away" and even speculating that the government, via FEMA, is building concentration camps in order to impose totalitarian rule on its citizens.
Meanwhile, Richard Poplawski hears these dark warnings, worries the government is going to take away his guns, and shoots three cops.
Against this backdrop, Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard decides, just in case people haven't gotten the point, to begin bringing up Waco - er, "WACO."
Now, when most people think of Waco, they think of a tragic standoff that began when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant at the Branch Davidian compound, and ended when 76 people died in a fire nearly two months later.
But far-right extremists have a rather more ... excited view of what happened at Waco. They view it as a battle in a war between an oppressive federal government bent on taking away its citizens' liberty, religious freedoms, and guns, and the freedom-loving patriots who must protect their families from enslavement by the government.
When radio host Gordon Liddy offered listeners advice about how to kill federal government agents in the 1990s, he was motivated by Waco, and he was talking about ATF agents, whom he described as "thugs" coming "to kill your wife and children, to try to disarm you."
After Barack Obama was elected last November, Liddy instructed listeners:
LIDDY: The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms. ... Because that's where they get the list of where to go first to confiscate. So, you don't ever register a firearm, anywhere. ... [W]hat's gonna happen is, if you register your firearms, you're handing them a list of where to go to confiscate the firearms. So don't do it. ... [D]epending upon the intensity of the repression by the government, the way they're, you know, seeking firearms and so forth, then I would say, yes, with respect to Cosmoline and, you know, proper wrapping and storage, and then putting them where they will not be findable by metal detectors and things of that sort. I'll leave that up to your imagination, and because it differs from location to location, but that would be the thing to do.
Liddy has only championed violence against the government; he hasn't committed it himself, as far as we know.
Others motivated by their view of the events at Waco have not stopped at angry rants.
On the second anniversary of Waco, Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people including 19 children. McVeigh was motivated by anger over things like the Brady Bill and the ban on assualt weapons. And he was motivated by Waco, saying after the bombing:
McVEIGH: I didn't define the rules of engagement in this conflict. The rules, if not written down, are defined by the aggressor. It was brutal, no holds barred. Women and kids were killed at Waco and Ruby Ridge. You put back in the government's faces exactly what they're giving out.
That's what happens when dangerous lunatics become convinced - in part by right-wing media - that the government is coming to take their guns and liberty, and become motivated by the memory of (what they think happened at) Waco.
That's the context in which Noel Sheppard is warning of a "war" on conservatives, sounding alarms about an assault on the Second Amendment, and yelling "WACO" over and over again.