As noted by Greg Sargent and others, the Politico, in its write-up of President Obama's decision to release the CIA torture memos, granted anonymity to a "top official" from the Bush administration defending the interrogation procedures as "techniques that work" and attacking Obama for inflicting "grave damage to our national security." Sargent corresponded with Politico's Mike Allen, asking why he allowed this official to defend his boss and take pot shots at the new guy while hiding behind the shield of anonymity. Allen said the situation is "not ideal, but better than making readers wonder what the official Bush view is."
But how could it be the "official Bush view" anyway if it's being provided anonymously? Moreover, can readers really "wonder what the official Bush view is," given that Bush himself has made clear where he stands on the use of these interrogation methods? Dick Cheney, for his part, has not held back in saying that Obama's national security decisions have made the country less safe.
Put simply, why grant anonymity to a Bush official to (a) repeat Bush's defense of his policies and (b) criticize Obama, as Cheney has done? Shouldn't readers be given full information to be able to evaluate the speaker's credibility and possible personal stake in the issue and maybe for other reporters to follow up by actually challenging the speaker on his or her assertions?
The Daily Beast's Benjamin Sarlin follows up on a trend we've been noting at CF for the last couple week; far right bloggers who are calling out Fox News for the doomsday hate speech that's become Murdoch's programming anchor. Specifically, how folks like David Horowitz, Rick Moran, and the warblogging site Little Green Footballs have condemned Fox News and its head New World Order cheerleader, Glenn Beck. (See here and here for earlier examples.)
Here's a key quote though, from LGF's Charles Johnson, surveying Fox News' militia media movement [emphasis added:
I just wish everyone would take a step back from this extremist brink. It can't lead anywhere good. At best, it will bring the right-wing blogosphere into disrepute, and at the worst it could lead to violence if you encourage these real nuts out there.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure the unhinged anti-Obama rhetoric broadcast on so many right-wing blogs since January 21 has already drowned the community in disrepute. The Fox News-driven "tea parties" and the DHS nervous breakdown this week only cemented it.
Shorter version--as long as Michelle Malkin's at the head of any movement, it's going to be a joke.
UPDATE: Glenn Beck attacked LGF's Johnson for posting a video in which members at a Beck-sponsored "tea party" wanted to burn books. Beck says the book burner was a liberal infiltrator. Notes Johnson:
I guess we're supposed to ignore the fact that the audience at that "Glenn Beck tea party" actually applauded when she shouted this. And we're supposed to ignore the speaker ranting about digital cable boxes being "brainwashing devices," and spouting John Birch Society talking points. And we're supposed to ignore the moderator, promoting the extreme right-wing/libertarian/Dominionist Constitution Party.
Never mind all that. Hey, look over there! It's an infiltrator!
We're a little late on this, but it's worth repeating what Think Progress recently highlighted.
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt's far right radio show, Politico's Allen shoveled out right-wing misinformation about the DHS internal intelligence report about violent, extreme domestic terrorist groups. Allen, like Hewitt and the rest of the right, pretends the report is about conservatives.
I think it's a big story...I think some bureaucrat who wrote this report, like, misstated in a way that doesn't comport with your or my observations about the real America. I think it was somebody who, written inside the Beltway, who maybe has fantasies about what happens outside in the real America.
Three problems. A) So now Allen knows more about domestic terrorist groups than the Department of Homeland Security? B) Allen can read minds of terrorist experts within DHS; he can tell that they were fantasizing while writing a report? C) Allen dutifully seems to sign off on the right-wing's beloved conspiracy theory that the DHS is targeting mainstream conservatives out in "real America."
It's bad enough when Politico shovels misinformation on its own site. Why does it have to spread it around the radio, too?
From former Bush speechwriter David Frum's April 15 Spectator article:
Obama has been in office nearly three months. Far and away his most important initiative over that time has been to continue George W. Bush's costly Troubled Asset Rescue Plan. Next most important: a mortgage rescue plan that likewise follows ideas bequeathed by his predecessor. Obama has not yet raised taxes. He has not yet introduced a healthcare plan. He has not yet detailed a climate-change policy. He has declined to rescue the automobile companies.
During the campaign, Democrats promised pro-union changes in labour law. In office, one Democratic senator after another has broken ranks against this. Republicans have mused that Democrats might alter broadcasting regulations in ways inimical to conservative talk radio. No sign of action there either.
Yet to listen to Fox News and other conservative media, you'd think we were living in Czechoslovakia in the final hours before the 1948 communist coup. Anchors end interviews by solemnly pledging to defend liberty and oppose tyranny. The network's rising star Glenn Beck has mused about the coming turn to totalitarianism - and warned his audience that he has not been able to 'debunk' fears that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is constructing an archipelago of concentration camps for political opponents of the Obama administration.
Politico's Roger Simon seems to mock Obama for wanting to be in the headlines all the time with today's piece, "It's all Obama, all the time":
If it's Thursday, it must be Obama. Or Friday. Or Saturday. Or just about any day. Barack Obama has gone from being historic to being ubiquitous. He doesn't just control the news cycle, he is the news cycle...Today, we have a president who so fills the airwaves that he really should have his own network with the motto: "All Obama, All the Time." Scratch that. He doesn't need it. Cable news is pretty much that already.
Ah, it's cable news that's going overboard with its Obama coverage. It's cable news that latches onto trivial White House happenings and trumpets them as key events. It's cable news that treats the president as a celebrity.
For the record, Politico recently billboarded its site with a lead story about what Obama watches on TV. (ESPN and Entourage, we learn) I can't think of a single news outlet that's done more to trivialize political coverage, and do it 24/7, than Politico. But Simon's sure cable news is to blame.
The weekly has a big spread in this week's issue about how the issue of gun control has been left alone by Democratic politicians, even after the recent wave of killing sprees. As somebody who recently criticized the press for ignoring gun violence, and failing to use the shooting rampages as a time to address gun control, Newsweek does deserve credit for its piece.
Still, there is a mjaor problem with the piece. The first is that Newsweek uses for its peg, the tale of Richard Poplawski, who's accused of killing three Pittsburgh policemen who responded to a routine domestic disturbance call at Poplawski's apartment.
Here's what Newsweek reports:
It was the deadliest day in the history of the Steel City's police department. When police finally apprehended and questioned Poplawski, he was without remorse. "He said he wishes he could have killed more Pittsburgh police officers," says a cop who was on the scene but asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.
So according to Newsweek, Poplawski was just a nut who snapped when the cops came to his apartment. Newsweek then quickly segues into its dissection of the politics in play. The problem is the local Pittsburgh press was stocked with reports about how the shooter was a fan of fringe, online conspiracies, and was afraid Obama was going to take away his guns.
Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.
He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday...[A friend] said Poplawski usually was affable and kind, but grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns.
The local AP dispatch:
Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.
But readers of Newsweek are left clueless about whether radical, baseless rhetoric from the far right about Obama might have prompted Poplawski to ambush three officers and murder them outside his apartment. Newsweek's article examines the politics involved in the gun control debate and gun violence in America and focuses on how little Democrats are doing. Newsweek though, completely ignores the role conservatives are playing in the issue, and specifically how some are stoking false fears about a so-called Obama gun ban.
It turns out that Big Sis has just issued a report that warns against the possibility of violence by so-called "right-wing extremists." And what does Big Sis say these right-wingers are concerned about? Illegal aliens, the increasing power of the federal government, gun grabs, abortion and the loss of U.S. national sovereignty. In other words, anyone who is worried about preserving our borders, language and culture is on Big Sis' watch list.
But here's something else that the headlines don't tell you. The report says that these dangerous right-wingers engage in "exploitation of social issues such as ... same-sex marriage." What this means is that even though state after state has rejected gay marriage every time it has been put to a vote of the people, if you oppose the destruction of traditional marriage, if you oppose the gay mafia, then you are suspect. If you aren't happy with her "lifestyle choice," Big Sis will put you on her list.
It seems that rogue homosexual elements within Homeland Security are engaging in extra-constitutional activity. Where is the Republican Party to protect us from this rogue Obama government? Who will be next on the list? The Navy SEALs that shot the Somali pirates? Talk show hosts? Only Big Sis knows for sure.
But this most recent report from the Department of Homeland Security and Big Sis Napolitano goes even further. It ends on an ominous note. It says, "DHS... will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization."
This isn't change we can believe in. This is Janet Reno on steroids.
The iron heel is starting to come down. The Homeland Security Department and these fusion centers were not created by Obama but by George W. Bush. And while Obama may ultimately be responsible for suppressing third parties and anybody else whose thinking is out of line with the Marxist mainstream, it was Bush that started the process. So I don't want to hear from lockstep Republicans who insist that this is all Obama's doing. Both sides are to blame. Bush started it, but Obama may finish it, with Big Sis at his side.