Having helped lead the Beltway media charge in the Obama's-losing-the-message-war brigade surrounding the stimulus bill, The Note, conceding that Obama's Monday night press conference helped changed the dynamics of that message war, quickly shifts gears and today starts hyping Obama doom-and-gloom surrounding the bank bailout legislation:
President Obama can still dictate a message -- as Monday's hour-long primetime news conference (just 13 questions, with answers as mini-lectures) clearly showed. But he has a long way to go before Washington will be his -- as the narrow Senate vote, and the tenuous compromise that's emerging out of Congress, show equally well.
As for what he needs Washington to come through on -- that gets even more complicated Tuesday. Now the president needs the nation to swallow not just an $800 billion stimulus package, but more help for banks (rivals of Congress in the race for low approval ratings these days).
Did you notice how Obama's been president three full weeks and Washington still is not yet his? (What's wrong with this guy!?) BTW, love the doomsday "narrow Senate vote" language. Because in case you already forgot, the senate vote on closure for the stimulus bill was 61-36.
The Politico's Roger Simon claims that in order to gin up support for the stimulus bill Obama has to try to scare Americans straight [emphasis added]:
He must simultaneously petrify people and also restore their confidence. He must scare us to death and calm our fears. He must convince the nation that the times are so dire we must carry out his bold plans immediately, and then he must persuade us to be patient and give his plans time to work.
This echoes the right-wing media chatter about how Obama is supposedly fear-mongering the issue of the economy; how he's spooking out Americans who, apparently, would otherwise be unconcerned about the state of the country's finances.
Not quite. Last month--and before Obama started allegedly fear-mongering the issue--pollsters with the Diegeo/Hotline survey asked voters:
Which of the following would you say best describes the current economic situation in the United States? The biggest economic crisis the U.S. has faced in your lifetime. A crisis, but not the worst in your lifetime. A major problem, but not a crisis. OR, Not a major problem.
An astonishing 60 percent of voters said the current situation represented the worst financial crisis the country had faced in their lifetime. Just 18 percent thought it was not a problem.
There's no proof Obama has to "scare" anybody.
Even by Washington Times standards, Joseph Curl's column today is notable for its use of completely bogus assertions in order to try to make Barack Obama look bad.
Take a look at this passage, for example:
None of it mattered, though, because Mr. Obama called reporters from a list on the podium, and reporters buzzed afterward about how he didn't seem to know a single reporter he called on - at least in the front row.
"And let me go to Jennifer Loven at AP," the president said, looking to his left, and then back a row or two before finding the AP reporter front and center, about eight feet from the podium. "Ah, there you are."
"Caren Bohan of Reuters?" he said after finishing a long economics tutorial. He looked left and right before finding the red-headed reporter - right next to Miss Loven.
"All right. Chuck Todd. Where's Chuck?" Mr. Obama said before finding the goateed reporter in the third row. "Ed Henry. Where's Ed? CNN. There he is," he said shortly after Mr. Henry stood up. "Major Garrett. Where is Major?" he said before finding the reporter back in the cheap seats.
Curl claims the buzz was that Obama didn't seem to know the reporters he called on. But the evidence he provides actually proves the opposite. Curl thinks he's describing Obama not knowing who the reporters are - but he isn't; he's describing Obama not knowing where the reporters are sitting. Indeed, Curl's examples indicate that Obama does know the reporters - if he didn't know who they are, he wouldn't have found them.
Elsewhere, Curl complains that "Sam Stein of the archly liberal Huffington Post" and the "unabashedly liberal" Ed Schultz were seated in the front row. But Curl's complaint isn't that ideological reporters were seated in the front row; his complaint is that liberal reporters were in the front row. See, Curl is also upset that "Fox News' Major Garrett was dispatched to the fourth row, far to the right of the presidential podium." Given Fox's track record, they should be relieved that anyone still plays along with the idea that they're a news organization rather than annoyed that they had to suffer the indignity of sitting in the fourth row at a press conference.
Finally, Curl lead his column with several paragraphs about members of the black press who were upset that they didn't get to ask a question. Curl noted:
While most on the front row got to pose a question to President Obama, the two reporters from the black press did not. Nor did any other black-press reporter, for that matter.
Now, that's fine as far as it goes, and Curl presumably didn't make up the quotes he included from two reporters complaining that they didn't get to ask a question. But it is more than a little odd that Curl didn't note until the very end of the column, after the nonsense about Obama not knowing the reporters that he called on, that Obama took questions from two black reporters:
The president ticked through all the usual suspects, calling on the three wires and all five networks before hitting The Washington Post and New York Times, both of whom sent black reporters. The only other question from outside the box was from NPR.
"Mara Liasson?" the president said as he scanned the crowd.
Politico is amplifying Curl's column (can Drudge be far behind?) -- and actually out-did Curl in one regard, asserting: "At the presser, one black reporter did get called on, The Wash Post's Michael Fletcher." Actually, it was two: Fletcher and Helene Cooper of the New York Times.
According to the Associated Press, the stimulus bill being passed by Congress contains "pork" because it might pay for a highway construction project in Indiana, which in turn might remind people of the Bridge To Nowhere. And that means Obama's a hypocrite because he's trying to have it "both ways." Boy, nothing like laying on the GOP talking points, eh?
From the AP's Calvin Woodward's latest misadventure in journalism:
President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.
But does Woodward have the slightest idea--proof--whether the vaguely referenced highway construction in Indiana would be some sort of wasteful boondoggle? No. Does the AP know if th project would be unneeded? No. Does Woodward know if the highway's a pet project of a local politician? No, he does not. But it sounds like it might be, so he used it to claim Obama's not being truthful about the stimulus bill.
Can the media's economic 'debate' get any dumber?
From Goldberg's February 9 syndicated column:
The stimulus bill has failed. Barack Obama has failed. The Trojan Horse of Hope and Change crashed into the guardrail of reality, revealing an army of ideologues and activists inside.
Now, before I continue, let me say that Barack Obama will still be popular, he will still get things done and he will declare victory after signing a stimulus bill.
But Obama's moment is gone, and politics is about nothing if not moments.
The stimulus bill was a bridge too far, an overplayed hand, 10 pounds of manure in a 5-pound bag. The legislation's primary duty was never to stimulate the economy, but to stimulate the growth of government.
There was just too much muchness in the bill. Voters are souring on it. Republicans finally discovered testicular fortitude - and they seem to like it.
There is still probably bipartisan support for a stimulus bill, but only for a measure intended to stimulate our market-based economy rather than one that hastens its Swedenization.
The perfect storm of liberalism has dissipated to scattered showers.
Last week, I explained that Newsbuster's Tom Blumer had a bit of trouble reading an AP article he criticized. See, Blumer quoted a paragraph that was clearly referring to Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer - and then attacked it for downplaying Tim Geithner's tax troubles.
But the paragraph didn't have anything to do with Geithner. Here's the first clue: the paragraph began, "An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday." Guess what? The Geithner story played out before last Tuesday. And here's how the paragraph ended: "rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on." Guess what? The administration didn't drop Geithner; it stood by him, and he was confirmed as Treasury Secretary.
In other words, it is completely obvious that the paragraph wasn't about Tim Geithner in any way. Yet Blumer huffed that it was "beyond risible" because the AP reporter "knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"
Well, it turns out that Tom Blumer responded to my post. Incredibly, he stands by his misreading of the paragraph in question. Well, sort of.
The New York Daily News reports that Ann Coulter is under investigation by the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission for allegedly voting in that state while registered to vote in New York City.
Coulter was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing in 2006 for allegedly violating Florida's voter registration laws by voting in the wrong precinct.
But Brad Friedman of BradBlog.com reports that Coulter was never actually cleared; the Florida Election Commission dropped the case after deciding that the two-year statute of limitations had run out.
Chris Bowers over at Open Left offers up a five point plan for the "Stimulus Aftermath" and how progressives can do better next time. Including this tidbit:
5. Join Media Matters for America: Again, this one is straightforward, but still important. The media coverage of the Obama administration has clearly become a huge problem, and there just aren't many progressive organizations other than Media Matters working to correct it. If you want to help out, join MMFA now.
And really, support progressive media in general. Click on ads on progressive websites, and make donations to progressive media organizations of all types when they hold fundraisers. If we want a better media, we need to not only put pressure on existing, national media institutions, but to actively support emerging media of all sorts.