Just ask ABC News, which uses the media's preferred yes/but angle to look at the latest round of Obama polling data. Yes, his numbers remain quite strong and he's trouncing Republicans in terms of approval polling, but he hasn't achieved complete and unprecedented bipartisanship.
ABC headline: "A Strong Start for Obama – But Hardly a Bipartisan One".
As we noted before, the press always judged new presidents on whether or not they were able to pass their early legislative initiatives. But with Obama, the press, artificially obsessed with the issue of bipartisanship, has changed the rules and decided it's how those bills get passed is what's key. And if Republicans in Congress, or Republicans voters, are somehow not happy, than Obama is to blame.
In other words, all Republicans have to do is disapprove, and Obama has failed. Notes ABC:
Barack Obama's month-old presidency is off to a strong start, marked by the largest lead over the opposition party in trust to handle the economy for a president in polls dating back nearly 20 years. But the post-partisanship he's championed looks as elusive as ever.
The fact that Obama has not, in his first month in office, completely dismantled all vestiges of partisan fighting, which has been building within the Beltway for decades, means trouble for the new president.
No new double standard there, right?
I missed this last week but wanted to share it with everyone here at County Fair.
John Fleck, a science columnist for the Albuquerque Journal, tears apart George Will's climate-change-denial column, in which the Washington Post conservative scribe misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring.
There is an old canard of the political debate around climate change that goes something like this: How can scientists be believed about global warming today when back in the 1970s they predicted global cooling?
The argument, reprised in Sunday's Journal by syndicated columnist George Will, sounds reasonable, and gets good traction in the political debate.
It is wrong.
There was no widespread belief among scientists in the 1970s about a coming ice age. Will engages in an egregious case of cherry-picking, plucking quotes that seem to support his assertion while ignoring a vast body of literature that does not.
When George Will last wrote about this subject, in May 2008, I sent him a copy of the 1975 Science News article, hoping he might get a fuller picture of what was going on at the time. I got a nice note back from him thanking me for sharing it. It doesn't seem as if he read it, which would have been nicer.
This is not the only factual error Will mustered in Sunday's column.
"According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center," Will wrote, "global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.
Here's what the folks at the University of Illinois had to say in response: "We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km.
Last fall, we learned that CBS considered adding Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or Bob Novak to the panel investigating Dan Rather's news report about George W. Bush's failure to show up for National Guard duty. CBS ultimately chose Republican Richard Thornburgh, who served as Attorney General under Bush's father, for the panel. CBS president Andrew Heyward later defended his decision to hand the panel over to a Republican.
Now we find out that CBS News' new Senior Vice President of Communications, Jeff Ballabon, is a Republican activist who said last year that "Obama is extremely dangerous." And, according to National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira Forman, Ballabon once said during a debate between the two men that "Democrats are inherently bad people and Republicans are fundamentally good people."
Following the flurry of protests over George Will's climate-change-denial column, in which the Washington Post conservative scribe misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, which carries Will's column, printed the following letter-to-the-editor today:
George Will's factual meltdown
I regularly read George F. Will's columns even though he often refuses to let a few facts spoil his right-wing opinions. In a recent column published by the PG on Feb. 16 ("Hypothetical Calamity") he claimed that global sea ice levels are as extensive as in 1979 as supported by the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center.
Unfortunately, those pesky facts are getting in Mr. Will's way. The center posted this on its Web site in response to Mr. Will's allegation:
"In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009, in The Washington Post, George Will states 'According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.'
"We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California and Oklahoma combined."
When will the conservative icon issue his correction?
What about you? Have you taken action?
With Norm Coleman's hopes of retaining his seat in the U.S. Senate looking slimmer by the day, a reporter from the Washington Post and an editorial from the Pioneer Press have a suggestion to (prolong the already months long election contest) bring things to a close.
Despite the fact that Al Franken won the recount and continues to hold onto the lead...
Despite the fact that Norm Coleman has been handed legal set-back after legal set-back...
Despite the fact that Minnesota is losing out with only one Senator in Washington...
Despite the fact that conservatives are using the lack of an additional Democratic Senator to stymie President Obama's agenda...
Despite all of this, the Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and the Pioneer Press think it might be a good idea to scrap everything that has happened since Election Day and instead hold a run-off election, something that even Minnesota election law doesn't allow?
How about some critical reporting that holds Coleman accountable for his hypocritical legal wrangling? Perhaps that would speed things along.
Because his money-losing ventures at the Wall Street Journal and New York Post should be all the proof any reporter needs before they type up another glowing profile of Murdoch.
The Times's media writers Tim Arango and Richard Perez-Pena actually inch in the right direction today with an article that details what a significant drag Murdoch's newspapers are on his larger News Corp. empire. They note, "His lifelong fondness for newspapers has become a significant drag on the fortunes of his company, the News Corporation."
And specifically, his 2007 purchase of the Journal looks like an historically bad move in retrospect:
Mr. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation, paid more than $5 billion for an asset that generated about $100 million in operating income last year, a price that now looks like a staggering overpayment.
Honestly, even "staggering overpayment" doesn't really do justice to just how badly botched the Journal deal; a purchase that may go down as one of the worst in the history of modern media. Think about, Murdoch, in order to win over the Journal's previous owners, paid an absolute premium for the Journal just as the newspaper industry entered its cataclysmic advertising nosedive.
How much did Murdoch pay for the Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones? $65 a share. How much could Murdoch have paid for the Journal if he'd waited two years? (After all, it wasn't like anybody else was clamoring to buy the biz daily at the time.) He maybe would have paid between $10-$15 a share, and that's probably being generous.
Wonder how Murdoch's shareholders feel about that today.
Meanwhile, the New York Post continues to hemorrhage money, as the Times notes:
While Mr. Murdoch's personal attention has lately been on The Journal, the financial performance of the News Corporation's other newspapers is undergoing stricter scrutiny these days. For years, Mr. Murdoch has stomached tens of millions of dollars in annual losses at The New York Post, in exchange for the power the paper afforded him. But given the economic times and the shift of his attention to The Journal, there is a sense of urgency in the News Corporation executive suite about stemming The Post's losses.
I've estimated in the past that since purchasing the Post decades ago, Murdoch has lost nearly $250 million printing his beloved, money-losing tabloid.
Again, I wonder how his shareholders feel about that.
That Glenn Beck is nuts.
I've been expecting this meltdown since Glenn Beck started talking about the "End Times" on his Fox News show last week, but yesterday he went full-on survivalist. All he needs is a sandwich board reading, "Repent, sinners!" Is it irresponsible for Fox News to be airing this over the top, creepy alarmist stuff during a financial crisis? Well, yeah, I think so.
And folks, when LGF starts calling you out for acting irresponsibly, then all bets are off.
David Denby, the well-known film critic for the New Yorker has a new book out called Snark, in which he criticizes the increasingly popular form of the nasty humor. In Sunday's New York Times, Snark was reviewed and close readers might have caught this brief passage:
When he finally reaches the present era, Denby pronounces Tom Wolfe and Maureen Dowd masters of "snarky mimesis..."
Interesting, right? Denby, no fan of snark, singled out the Times' high-profile scribe in his book for her snarky ways. But what did Denby actually say about Dowd in his book? Sorry, Sunday Times readers were given no information. Because the passage quoted above was the only reference reviewer Walter Kirn made to Dowd in his 1,300-word review of Snark. Guess, Denby didn't have much to say about Dowd, right?
Denby's brief book (128 pages) is divided into just seven chapters, yet Denby devotes an entire section to examining Dowd's work. (Chapter seven title: "Maureen Dowd".) She's the only writer Denby detailed in a chapter-length critique. Fully one-seventh of Snark is about Dowd and it's a smack-down: Denby suggests there's something seriously wrong with her work. But in the Times review, Dowd garnered just single, vague passing reference.
For instance, the Times review ignored the fact that Denby wrote, "There's something both gasping and pathetic in [Dowd's] dissatisfaction and she passes that dissatisfaction on to the readers as a kind of blight." He also added that during the Democratic primary season, Dowd's "writing was a desperate, disjointed, and demoralized performance, and it left many readers enraged."
Recently appearing on PBS's Charlie Rose, Denby expanded on the idea:
And Maureen Dowd, who makes fun of people's appearance and affect and manner and so on, I don't see any political idea at all of what the government should be doing, what the point of government is, what the point of politics is. It's all about ambition and sham.
Denby, a high-profile writer for the mighty New Yorker, suggests Dowd's work is doing real damage to the public discourse. But there's no reason Times readers need to be informed about that, right?
Well, not technically. But boy, it sure sounded that way.
It's from a US News & World Report item about Todd discussing why Matthews decided not to run for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania (one of the great non-stories of our time):
NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd has a theory on why MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews begged off from running for the Pennsylvania Senate seat held by Republican Arlen Specter. "Because [Chris] had a really good friend of his say to him, 'What are you going to do when you get there?' and he couldn't answer the question and he realized that, and that's why he didn't run," says Todd. "It was a childhood dream to be a senator, but he didn't know what he was going to do if he got there." [Emphasis added]
Matthews, who has been inside the Beltway for going on, what, four decades, who once worked on the Hill and has been commenting, non-stop, about politics for countless years, had no idea what he'd do if he were a senator.
We've said it before and we'll say it again here: The Beltway press doesn't do public policy. It doesn't get it, and it has even less interest in it. So no, we're not surprised Matthews couldn't figure out why he'd do, y'know for other people, if he ever got elected.
Meanwhile, take a look at Todd's closing comment:
It was the same for 2008 presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain, says [Todd] the coauthor of How Barack Obama Won. "They never knew why they wanted to be president."
Oh my. Say what you want about the campaigns of Clinton and McCain, but to suggest those two legislative veterans, who criss-crossed the country for more than a year, participated in dozens of televised debates, answered untold questions from voters and reporters and released all kinds of position papers, didn't know why they wanted to president is complete nonsense. Neither were able to convince enough voters they were the best person for the job, but both Clinton and McCain clearly had a vision and understanding of where they wanted to take the country. They were serious people with serious ideas.
Chris Matthews just likes to hear himself talk. But Chuck Todd will never say so.