Tonight, the Times got its chance to ask the President a question -- and Jeff Zeleny used it to ask "What has surprised you the most about this office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you the most, and troubled you the most?"
CBS News gets a shot at asking the President of the United States a question -- one question -- with the nation watching, and Chip Reid uses it to ask what Arlen Specter's party change says about the state of the Republican Party.
It's in a shambles. Who cares? That's really the most important thing you could think of to ask the President?
UPDATE: Ok, CBS got more than one question. Reid's was still a waste of time, though.
UPDATE 2: At least Reid didn't ask Obama what surprises and enchants Obama about being President. That's a good question for a People magazine profile, I suppose, but it seems like the New York Times could come up with something better...
With thousands of votes cast, conservative leader and nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh takes FIRST PLACE with 28 percent of all votes -- 8 percent more than his closest competitor -- for this gem:
Be sure to check out all of the poll results here.
Don't forget to visit The Limbaugh Wire daily for the latest on El Rushbo. You can also sign up to receive an hour-by-hour summary of The Rush Limbaugh Show including humorous highlights. (Monday-Friday three emails daily) or check them out online.
Even out of office, the departed Bush White House seems to get its way the press. In this case, how newsrooms dutifully shy away from the "t" word because that's what Bushies prefer.
Greg Sargent explains:
But the bottom line is that by not using the term, the paper is rendering a verdict, too - in favor of the Bush administration. There's a reason the Bushies don't call waterboarding torture: It happened on their watch, and calling it torture would be an admission of guilt. Naturally, their official position is that they didn't torture. By not describing the acts committed under Bush as "torture," the paper is propping up the Bush argument. Period.
Matthew Yglesias and Dave Weigel catch Byron York making the transparently stupid argument that Barack Obama's positions "appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are" because of his "his sky-high ratings among African-Americans." As Yglesias notes: "How does the fact that much of Obama's support come from African-Americans mean that he's not 'actually' popular?"
You'd have to try pretty hard to come up with an explanation other than racism for York's position that support among African Americans shouldn't count as much as support from whites.
But York's argument, though absurd, is actually quite consistent with the way the media in general approaches public opinion.
When reporters talk about Democrats' difficulty appealing to religious voters, for example, they mean white religious voters, and point to polling of white evangelical voters to support their claims.
When they talk of Democrats being out of touch with "regular people," they aren't talking about working-class African Americans or Latinos; they are talking about white regular people.
York's comments about Obama's support is just one example of the media's habit of equating public opinion among whites with public opinion.
Boston: This doesn't relate to Obama but would you care to address the whole George Will global warming column controversy? Is there any concern that lax standards for accuracy hurts the prestige of The Post opinion page more generally?
Fred Hiatt: Happy to, because we don't have lax standards for accuracy. He addressed the factual challenges to his column in detail in a later column. In general we do careful fact checking. What people have mostly objected to is not that his data are wrong but that he draws wrong inferences. I would think folks would be eager to engage in the debate, given how sure they are of their case, rather than trying to shut him down.
It's the one from yesterday that upheld the FCC's Bush-era attempt to crack down on broadcasters who air even fleeting, live TV references to the F-word, and other banned utterances. The way Bono and Cher both dropped the F-bomb on award telecasts earlier in the decade.
If we take a step back, the 5-4 conservative ruling really is quite amazing when you consider that ten years ago the FCC had virtually walked away from the business of fining broadcasters for indecency. Today, thanks to a conservative pressure campaign to change the laws, the fines broadcasters face are staggering. And again, not just for lewd, R-rated morning show banter. But for airing live events where anybody (including athletes) curse and it's picked up by microphones.
That kind of stuff used to get a pass because the FCC had decided that in order for a on-air F-word to be actionable, it had to be used in a sexual manner. In fact, the FCC initially passed on fining the network that aired Bono's acceptance speech profanity ("really, really fucking brilliant") because the "language used by Bono did not describe, in context, sexual or excretory organs or activities and that the utterance was fleeting and isolated." That, according to the FCC's own indecency officer at the time
For years, the key guidelines the FCC used in determining indecency fines included whether the material described or depicted sexual or excretory organs or activities. And the broadcast in question had to be "patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium."
In other words, to be indecent the content had to sexually explicit, go on at length and used to titillate. But post-Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, and after the Parents Television Council moved into high gear, the FCC announced that "given the core meaning of the 'F-word,' any use of that word or a variation, in any context, inherently has a sexual connotation" and therefore it was indecent.
And now, thanks to SCOTUS, that policy change has been upheld. Is the policy change constitutional? Does the FCC have the right to monitor speech on the airwaves? The SCOTUS passed on that this week, but may soon be asked to address the issue.
From Politico's The Whiteboard:
OBAMA IN MISSOURI -- PAGING ROGER AILES: "Those of you who are watching certain news channels on which I'm not very popular, and you see folks waving tea bags around, let me remind them that I am happy to have a serious conversation about how we are going to cut our health care costs down over the long term, how we are going to stabilize Social Security...but let's not play games and pretend that the reason is because of the Recovery Act." (12:14 p.m.)
Snowe's NY Times op-ed: "We Didn't Have to Lose Arlen Specter"
Former Laura Bush press secretary Andrew Malcolm has spent the past several weeks using his position as reporter/blogger for the Los Angeles Times to portray Vice President Joe Biden as a do-nothing buffoon. Malcolm has taken to writing mocking posts about Biden's purportedly thin and/or trivial public schedule, complete with repeated use of a photo of Biden looking silly:
I say "supposedly light" because it's fairly silly to think that Biden doesn't do anything that isn't on his public schedule. But that's what Malcolm pretends: Biden isn't doing much, because there isn't much on his official schedule.
Well, in the past day, we've learned that Biden played a key role in Sen. Arlen Specter's switch from the Republican to Democratic Party. And the LA Times "Top of the Ticket" blog for which Malcolm writes features a post today about Biden's hands-on role in Specter's switch, and describes him as "Senate Arm Twister in Chief" in legislative negotiations. But Andrew Malcolm, who so enjoys mocking Biden's light schedule, didn't write this account of his effectiveness; his co-blogger Johanna Neuman did. Malcolm is probably busy scouring the 'net, looking for funny pictures of Biden to use in his next post about how Biden doesn't do anything.