Yahoo! News has taken the bait failing to check on this pathetically easy to rebut piece of conservative misinformation.
In a story headlined, "That's a lot of balloons" Yahoo! News spews hot-air going to great lengths to convince readers that President-elect Obama's inauguration will cost more than triple that of outgoing President Bush's 2004 event even using the nation's economic woes as a backdrop. The article opens:
As the recession continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy and inauguration celebrations ramp up, a lot of people are asking: "How much will this shindig cost?" [emphasis added]
The short answer? More than $150 million — and yep, that's the most expensive ever. (By comparison, George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration cost $42.3 million. Bill Clinton managed with $33 million in 1993.)
Perhaps a few more reporters should be asking, "Why haven't I thoroughly fact-checked these numbers?" Because as Media Matters detailed this evening, the whole notion that Obama's inauguration is costing more than Bush's is a load of B.S.
MSNBC's Tamron Hall stated that "the inauguration festivities" for President-elect Barack Obama are "estimated to reach as high as $150 million," while "[i]n 2004, to note, the inauguration of George W. Bush cost roughly $40 million." But the $40 million figure that Hall cited for Bush's second inauguration reportedly does not include security and transportation costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia; these costs are included in the $150 million estimate that the media are reporting for the Obama inauguration.
When the costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia are factored in, the total cost of Bush's 2005 inauguration was reportedly around $157 million, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert noted.
Come on Yahoo! News, this kind of sloppy "reporting" will only make me want to refer to you as Yahoo? News in future posts. Get it together.
It's not often that we critique Arts coverage, but this Times piece was so dreadful and misleading and just plain pointless, it needed to be called out.
It's by Michael Cieply and headlined "The Films Are Green, but is Sundance?" The soggy point was that the famous film festival is hosting a number of movies with environmental themes but that Sundance....well, honestly we're not sure of the point. We think it's something like, but people used up gas while traveling to Sundance so therefore there's a conflict with the environmental theme. (Did we mention how pointless this exercise is?)
Some lowlights in an article that was literally brimming with them:
Still, a stroll here this week down Main Street — where a dozen idling trucks were unloading supplies and equipment, while an oversize band bus, with trailer in tow, spewed fumes outside a soon-to-be-busy party site — framed the obvious quandary: how can you cram some 46,000 people, roughly equivalent to a fifth of Hollywood's total work force, into a pretty little mountain town without contributing mightily to the problems your films hope to solve?
Are you following? Do you see the false premise the Times constructs? If you're concerned about the environment, if you want to spread the word about environmental activism through film, than you basically shouldn't participate in our society because if you are associated with an industry in which a bus idles, than you're a hypocrite. Or more accurately, an "obvious quandary" is created.
Honestly, we expect this nonsensical logic from Lou Dobbs who points to snow storms as proof global warming might not exist. But to see the Times traffic in this kind of forced jibberish is depressing.
The groans in the article just kept coming [emphasis added]:
Los Angeles to Park City is about 692 miles by the old wagon route, though most visitors seem to come by air through Salt Lake City
Yes, the Times thought it was noteworthy that Sundance attendees did not drive to Utah.
Utility officials said there was no way to determine how much extra wattage was being poured into the valley for the festival's spotlights and the strings of colored bulbs lining Park City's streets.
Too dumb for words? We think so.
And those were the first two--the best two--examples the Times provided in an effort to show that Sundance was not Green.
It's hard to find journalism more shoddy than this, courtesy of the AP's Matt Apuzzo [emphasis added]:
The price tag for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration gala is expected to break records, with some estimates reaching as high as $150 million. Despite the bleak economy, however, Democrats who called on President George W. Bush to be frugal four years ago are issuing no such demands now that an inaugural weekend of rock concerts and star-studded parties has begun.
Where does that jaw-dropping number of $150 million come from? The AP never says. It doesn't quote anybody, it doesn't point to any facts. There's no nothing. The AP builds an entire story around how much Obama's inauguration might cost (why stop at $150 million?), yet never substantiates the what-if estimates.
As we said, journalism doesn't get much worse than that.
For an ind-depth look at the phony controversy over Obama's possible inauguration costs, click here.
UPDATE: Unlike AP, ABC News at least tries to substantiate the huge figure the media have been tossing around in terms of the cost of Obama's inauguration. (Hint: Most of it is for security.) But even with ABC's actual reporting, the article still falls short. (Hint: No context.)
The Times' Mark Leibovich wrote up Obama's recent Beltway get-togethers with various pundits and reflected on Bush's complete lack of social interaction with the capitol over the last eight years [emphasis added]:
In contrast to Mr. Obama's week of fraternizing, George W. Bush never came around to the notion that Washington socializing was worth the effort — or the risk of a later-than-necessary bedtime. While it is not likely that a few well-placed dinners, social calls or drop-bys over eight years would have had much bearing on his abysmal approval ratings, it is not far-fetched to think it could have bought him a slight uptick in sympathy from the bipartisan commentariat that routinely savaged him.
See, if Bush had only gone to cocktail parties, the pundits--on both sides of isle-- wouldn't have have been quite so mean to him.
A) I must have missed all those GOP columnists who have "savaged" Bush during the last eight years. B) Liberal commentariat were "savaging" Bush in 2001 and 2002 and 2003? And C) Bush refused to interact with the Beltway for the first four years of his administration and was showered with media hosannas, which proved Bush's complete repudiation of the Village's social circuit had no bearing with his coverage.
This reminds me of the Slate article we recently commented on, which claimed the press gets outraged when it's ignored by the White House, even though this press corps did not become outraged when ignored by the Bush White House. And now the Times suggests the press would have been more sympathetic to Bush if he hadn't ignored them socially, yet the press produced more sympathetic coverage for Bush than any other president in recent memory.
Bush hasn't even left office and already the Village is rewriting its history.
Politico's Patrick O'Connor thinks it's a very big deal that some Democrats have some unpleasant things to say about Bush's legacy as he prepares to leave office. And Politico suggests its certainly newsworthy (and a bit amazing) that some Democrats even want to hold Bush hearings after he leaves town.
I mean my goodness, what kind of zealots investigate the actions of presidents after he leaves the White House? What kind of partisan fanatics call for hearings about a president months after he has exited?
Oh, you mean those kind.
Because they suggest journalists who deliver bad news for Republicans are biased. For real.
You couldn't ask for a better example than from our pals at Newsbusters who posted this dart:
Friday's CBS Evening News delivered a parting shot at outgoing President George W. Bush as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez paired how a just-released CBS News/New York Times survey pegged Bush's approval rating "at just 22 percent" -- which she noted "is the lowest for an outgoing President since the question was first asked more than 70 years ago" -- with how "68 percent said they expect Barack Obama to be a good or very good President."
How dare CBS accurately, and in a straightforward manner, report the facts as reflected by public polling which captures the feelings of everyday Americans!!
Jay Rosen offers up a must read:
In the age of mass media, the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized-- connected "up" to Big Media but not across to each other. And now that authority is eroding.
Over at Slate, Jack Shafer, looking ahead to how Obama might treat the media, announces the press hates being snubbed:
Nothing throws the Washington press corps into a bigger tizzy than being ignored. Being dissed is something the press corps can live with—in fact, they love being dissed.
But I'm confused. For the last eight years the Bush White House clearly ignored the press. (Bush "bypassed" the media, as Time just noted.) Did I miss something or was the press thrown into a tizzy by the Bush silent treatment? Did the press raise up at the White House, or was I not paying attention during that loud rebellion?
Seems like rather than being thrown into a tizzy, the press did the opposite; it fell asleep for eight years.
UPDATE: My bad. According to NBC's David Gregory, the press did exactly what it was supposed to while covering the Bush years. Nope, no lessons to be learned here folks. (Now wonder he was awarded the MTP gig.)
Similar to its run-up to Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing, the Beltway press was in overdrive about how AG nominee Eric Holder was going to face all sorts of problems (i.e. "bruising" and "grueling" hearings) because of his role in the Marc Rich pardon, which dated back to the final days of the Clinton administration. (It even had Dems squirming!)
The whole frenzy seemed like just another chance for the press to re-hash a soggy Clinton scandal. And it was.
Because just like with Hillary Clinton's polite confirmation quizzing, the promised press hype never really materialized at Holder's hearing.