Howard Kurtz's "Media Notes" column today: 2,500 words -- none of them about CNN president Jonathan Klein's endorsement of Lou Dobbs birtherism.
Why would the Washington Post employ a media critic who refuses to criticize the president of a company that pays him on the side?
UPDATE: Kurtz just finished his weekly "online discussion" for the Post, during which he didn't take any questions about Klein or Dobbs.
Glenn Thrush wins more admirers at the RNC with this nasty piece on Nancy Pelosi, proving once again that Politico staffers seem to thrive on regurgitating GOP talking points beneath their bylines. I mean, who actually quotes Michelle Malkin in a news story? Glenn Thrush, that's who.
Check out Thrush's comically loaded lede [emphasis added]:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the most despised political figures in the country.
From the first sentence we can see where Thrush is going. Pelosi isn't unpopular, she's despised. By that measure, I suppose former president Bush was despised, but I didn't see those kinds of references in Politico news articles last year. But a Democrat? And a female Democrat? Trust Thrush; she's despised.
Last week's Public Strategies Inc./POLITICO poll brought grim news for Pelosi, revealing that only a quarter of Americans trust the San Francisco Democrat — putting her in the basement with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Do I even have to explain that the polling data Politico pointed to had nothing to do with public figures being "despised." It asked voters which leaders were trusted. Pelosi scored low, and Thrush translated that into her being despised.
BTW, according to Politico's own polling, 58 percent of Americans don't trust Pelosi. And wouldn't you know it, according to Politico's own polling, 57 percent of Americans don't trust Sarah Palin. Can't wait for Thrush's exposé about how Palin is among "the most despised" political figures in America. Wake me when it arrives.
UPDATED: Well, well, well. According to Politico's polling, the Republican Party is not trusted by 57 percent of voters, which, of course, makes it one of the most "despised" political institutions in America, right?
UPDATED: Thrush utterly failed in his attempt to rewrite GOP history with this passage:
By contrast, Newt Gingrich's popularity tanked only after his conservative revolution sputtered and he had helped shut down the federal government.
The Post's Marc Siegel, perfecting that brand of useless journalism that Rupert Murdoch prefers, ran a Drudge-friendly scoop this weekend about a single sentence in the pending health care bill legislation.
Classy NYP headline:
'Retarded' House Bill
Here's Siegel's all-important scoop, in its entirety (emphasis added):
The proposed health-insurance bill from the House of Representatives refers to mentally disabled people as "retarded" -- a term advocates, relatives and physicians find outdated and offensive.
The bill refers to: "A hospital or a nursing facility or intermediate-care facility for the mentally retarded . . ."
The phrase could cause more problems with groups for the developmentally disabled, who were angered when President Obama referred to his poor bowling skills on "The Tonight Show" as "like the Special Olympics." Obama later apologized.
Siegel, who apparently knows nothing about mental health in America, thinks it's a big deal that a piece of legislation uses the phrase "mentally retarded" because it's so offensive. (The NYP is now the PC police? Who knew?)
Except, of course, the phrase is used commonly by organizations like the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Association on Mental Deficiency, the American Associations of Intellectual and Development Disabilities, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Department of Health and Human Services,
In other words, "mentally retarded" is a medical term.
UPDATED: Some commenters have mentioned there is an ongoing debate about the phrase "mental retardation" and whether it should be used or not. What I pointed out was that all the above mentioned organizations still use the phrase. And that it's a common medical term.
More importantly, the Post, particularly with its headline and the lede, clearly tried to imply that Democratic legislation refers to mentally challenged patients simply as "retarded," which was never the case.
From Andrew Breitbart's July 27 Washington Times column:
Sgt. Crowley, a proud and defiant public professional, played the moment perfectly and stopped his own assassination by media. Talk about a postmodern hero. Whether he likes it or not, Sgt. Crowley is a potent symbol of how the union has managed to become more perfect, a Rosa Parks of rush-to-judgment "reverse racism."
Now that the facts of the case show that his friend the professor was the man doing the racial profiling, the president wants to end the discussion.
Now we see what the attorney general meant when he spoke of cowards.
Howard Kurtz should have listened to me.
Last week, I twice noted that the Washington Post/CNN media critic was oddly silent about CNN's Lou Dobbs and his promotion of the birther nonsense. Kurtz's silence seemed like an obvious conflict of interest.
Well, by the time Kurtz got around to addressing the issue on today's Reliable Sources, CNN President Jonathan Klein had weighed in, calling Dobbs' birtherism "legitimate" and denouncing Dobbs' critics as "people with a partisan point of view from one extreme." (Klein had earlier indicated that the story was dead and the birthers' claims baseless; his flip-flop raises the question of who is in charge -- Klein or Dobbs.)
On today's Reliable Sources broadcast, Kurtz called Dobbs' birther coverage "ludicrous." That's great, though long overdue. But with CNN's president now taking Dobbs' side, there's a bigger story here than Lou Dobbs. And Howard Kurtz just couldn't bring himself to criticize his boss.
Had Kurtz addressed the Dobbs issue last week, when he should have, he might have been able to get away with not coming back to it. But by waiting until today, he put himself in a position where he had to either address Klein's comments, or shy away from criticizing the boss. He chose to keep quiet about Klein. And so we learned from Kurtz's unwillingness to criticize Klein that he likes having the job of media critic more than he likes doing the job of media critic.
From the July 25 edition of Fox News' Forbes on Fox:
From a July 25 Los Angeles Times article:
CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein told staffers of "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on Thursday that the controversy regarding the legitimacy of President Obama's birth certificate -- a topic Dobbs has avidly pursued on the air -- is a "dead" story.
But in an interview, the cable news chief left open the possibility that Dobbs may continue to raise questions about why the president has not produced a long-form birth certificate. The absence of such a record has spawned rumors that Obama was not born in the United States, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
"He's got more than 30 years as a television journalist, and I trust him, as I trust all our reporters and anchors, to exercise their judgment as various stories evolve," Klein said of Dobbs, whose daily CNN program is a mix of news and opinion.
"Certainly if there are future news pegs, then we have to take that story as it comes," he added.
That appeared to be a step back from the stance Klein took in his e-mail Thursday, in which he wrote that CNN researchers had determined that Hawaiian officials discarded paper documents in 2001. Because of that, Obama's long-form birth certificate no longer exists and a shorter certificate of live birth that has been made public is the official record, they reported.
"It seems to definitively answer the question," Klein wrote in the e-mail, first reported by the website TVNewser. "Since the show's mission is for Lou to be the explainer and enlightener, he should be sure to cite this during your segment tonite. And then it seems this story is dead -- because anyone who still is not convinced doesn't really have a legitimate beef."
On Friday, Klein said he was not ordering the staff to drop the story.
"When I use the word 'seems,' that's an open invitation to disagree," he said. "Other people may have a different point of view about that, and they're welcome to offer it, because I don't think as management you ever want to be closed down to discussions about editorial issues."
"I have written directives in the past," he added, "and believe me, there would be no mistaking a directive from me."
Klein said he did not hear from Dobbs in response to the e-mail. The host, who raised many of the questions about Obama's birth on his radio program, was on the air Friday afternoon after press deadline and could not be reached for comment.
On Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center called on CNN to fire Dobbs for trading in "racist conspiracy theories." And some of Dobbs' staff at CNN have told him and network executives that they are uncomfortable with his persistent focus on the story.
Klein defended Dobbs, saying that the host's treatment of the so-called "birther" movement has been "legitimate."
From a July 24 post on The New York Times' Media Decoder blog:
The conspiracy theorists who have claimed for more than a year that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen have found receptive ears among some mainstream media figures in recent weeks.
Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the country's most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, told his listeners Tuesday that Mr. Obama "has yet to have to prove that he's a citizen." Lou Dobbs of CNN said that Mr. Obama should do more to dispel the claims. Larry King, also of CNN, asked guests about it, and other media types, including the MSNBC hosts Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, merrily mocked the controversy. NBC News even did a segment on the subject.
"This smear was thoroughly debunked during the election," said Eric Burns, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal media monitoring organization.
Remarkably, there is even a reference to Mr. Obama's birth in the "Births, Marriages, Deaths" column of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper on Aug. 13, 1961. Still, the claims about Mr. Obama's citizenship persist among a small but vocal group, essentially portraying Mr. Obama as a foreigner who has managed to conceal his origins for nearly five decades.
"It's racist," said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC. "It's racist. Just call it for what it is."
Decent news article in the Journal today that tackles a topic most of the press seems to have ignored so far, which is what the political downside is for Republicans if they successfully kill Obama's health care reform. To date, the press has mostly presented this as a win-win situation for the GOP, despite the fact that polling consistently show that a majority of American want health care reform and support Obama's approach.
Typically, if a political party stakes out a position that runs counter to what most voters want, then there's a political penalty to be paid. But not for Republicans, at least not when it comes to health care coverage. Rather than stressing, or even mentioning, how the party finds itself out of touch with the mainstream, the Republicans are seen--via the press--as being on the verge of a monumental win if they're able to defeat health care.
Reminds me of the skewed coverage back during the stimulus bill 'debate,' when the press rolled out a win-win for Republicans, who simply had to oppose Obama on the centerpiece legislation and the press would crown Obama the loser. Why? Because he couldn't land any bipartisan support.
Today, the Journal at least raises the question about a Republican backlash if they kill health care reform:
Republicans, seeking to regain political ground in the health-care debate, have launched a series of attacks on Democrats' overhaul plan. But some GOP strategists worry an aggressive approach could backfire, if voters decide the party is obstructing efforts to address an issue they care about.