All three cables are carrying John McCain's town hall meeting. They do know the election is over, and he lost, right? And they do know this doesn't count as "substantive" health care coverage, right?
And surely they'll follow this up by fact-checking McCain's claims -- and those made by people speaking at the event? McCain just completely ducked a question about whether the questioner will still be able to choose his own doctor under proposed health care reforms. McCain didn't come within a country mile of answering the question -- maybe because he didn't want to admit that, yes, the questioner will be able to do so.
So, that's something that the cables should probably make clear before viewers get the wrong idea.
Oh, and McCain just took this question: "We want to know how to help you." Yes, that's the question an audience member asked McCain. I'm sure we'll see rampant speculation that the forum was screened in advance, just like we did when Barack Obama did a town hall.
The mag's Matthew Vadum continues to star in his role as this weeks' right-wing rodeo clown. I suppose it's entertaining to watch, but I tend to lean towards depressing. Because it's depressing to see people like Vadum thrash around and try to concoct more ways to prove that Obama hates America and is bent on destroying everyone's liberty.
Vadum responded to my critique by claiming "Boehlert doesn't like my article." Not exactly. In my critique, I wrote that I had no idea what Vadum was talking about in his 'article'. I mean yes, I realized it was about how Obama was, supposedly, going to "desecrate" the memory of 9/11 (or something). But the rambling, contradictory item literally did not make any sense. At least not in the traditional sense of how journalism, or opinion journalism, is practiced.
The only specific point I made was regarding a glaringly obvious omission. And yes, it still stands. Vadum claimed that ColorofChange.org launched an advertising boycott against Fox News' Glenn Beck because Beck's show aired some mean reports about a ColorofChange.org ally, Van Jones. As everyone on the planet (besides Vadum) knows, the wildly successful ad boycott was launched in response to Beck calling the President of the United States a "racist."
Somehow Vadum forgot to include that fact. Or, maybe as a member of the right-wing Parallel Universe Club, he's under strict orders not to dabble with reality. If so, then congrats, Mr. Vadum -- mission accomplished!
From The Fox Nation, accessed on August 25:
Fox Nation links to an August 24 American Spectator piece by Matthew Vadum which claims that Obama "is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry."
But let's just note a few relevant details. First, George W. Bush called for community volunteer work on the anniversary of 9/11, and the right didn't find it controversial. Second, victims' families have recommended making 9/11 a national day of service for years. Third, Alex Koppelman explained, "Check out the official Web site set up for the day: They're asking people to come up with their own events. So if you don't want to help out at anti-American places like food banks and community gardens, you can organize your own event."
What's more, while the Vadum piece is obviously bizarre, it's also worth remembering that these disturbed ideas were quickly embraced by other far-right bloggers, including Michelle Malkin and another site that argued the president is calling for "mandatory civilian service" as part of Obama's drive to build "his civilian army."
Conservative bloggers pick the strangest things to get excited about.
The Times wants you to know that there are lots of serious, quiet people attending the town hall health care forums; the ones that right-wing mini-mobs have turned into shrieking free-for-alls. The Times wants you to know that not every health care reform critic is a crazy. Not everybody's hanging politicians in effigy, committing acts of vandalism, yelling "Heil Hitler," showing up to Obama rallies with loaded guns, and waving Nazi posters around.
Actually, the Times never even bother to mention of that insanity. The paper simply concedes the town hall forums have produced "an endless video loop of high-decibel rants." The fact that assembled critics appear intent on spreading as many lies about health care reform is of no concern. The Times ignores the deeply troubling details and glosses over another central premise of the mini-mobs, which is to make sure no debate about how health can take place at the public forums.
Instead, the point of the Kevin Sack article to highlight how, gosh darn it, smart, serious and "calm" people are also upset about health care reform.
For instance, meet Bob Collier. He's a quiet 62-year-old salesman who, according to the Times, has "built for himself a quiet life of family and church." Collier recently attended a town hall forum and urged his Congressman to oppose reform efforts.
From the Times [emphasis added] :
On Thursday, Mr. Collier drove more than an hour down Route 19 to attend a health care forum in Albany, Ga., being held by his congressman, Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr., a Democrat serving his ninth term.
To his wife's astonishment, as the session drew into its third hour, Mr. Collier rose to take the microphone and firmly, but courteously, urged Mr. Bishop to oppose the health care legislation being written in Washington.
He told Mr. Bishop that his wife of 36 years had survived breast cancer through early detection and treatment, and that he feared that her care would be rationed if the disease returned.
"She'd be on a waiting list," he said.
"This is about the future of our country as we know it," Mr. Collier warned, "and may mean the end of our country as we know it."
Were Collier's concerns based in reality? Did Collier do anything but spread more misinformation? The Times doesn't dare say. The Times' only function this day is to explain there are serious and "quiet" and "calm" people who oppose health care reform.
In fact, the Times actually holds up Collier as an example of "reasoned voices" debating health care reform. Keep in mind that Collier thinks the government would basically let his wife die of cancer if given the opportunity, and that health care reform would signal the end of our country as we know it. But Sack at the Times announces that's reasoned.
I'm sure the Times' larger point is accurate: That there are lots of health care critics who show up at town hall meetings and don't scream and yell. But the Times still misses the truly important story, which is that a huge portion of the town hall critics have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to health care reform, or do know and chose instead to push misinformation.
Just because people are "calm" and spread lies quietly doesn't mean the Times should give them a pass, let alone celebrate them in print.
Media Matters for America received the following email from Bank of America global media relations Senior Vice-President Joseph L. Goode stating that any ads run on Fox News' Glenn Beck program ran in "error."
Here's Mr. Goode's email (emphasis added):
In response to your August 24 blog, entitled "So who's still advertising on Beck? His August 24 sponsors were ...", I wanted to let you know that Bank of America does not air commercials on The Glenn Beck Show. Recently, we learned that there may have been instances of our ads running on the program due to an error by media outlets that air this show. Please be assured that we are working with these media outlets to determine an acceptable resolution for this error.
Bank of America is proud to be a leader in supporting diversity and continues to be widely recognized for our progressive workplace practices and initiatives to promote inclusion. This commitment to equality and diversity informs every aspect of our enterprise, including our approach to advertising. As a result, we adhere to a set of media buying guidelines for syndicated programming and for local stations that promote inclusion and help our company reach a broad range of diverse customers.
Bank of America prides itself on fostering a corporate culture that is inclusive of all the communities we serve. Our customers, clients and associates speak different languages; support different family structures and life situations; and have unique and personal financial requirements. In order to meet the diverse needs of our customers, we require a variety of products and services, marketing and a diverse workforce that demonstrate and reflect our awareness and appreciation of who our clients and customers are.
We hope our response demonstrates our longstanding support of diversity, and strengthens your confidence in our company.
Joseph L. Goode, SVP
Global Media Relations
Bank of America
Yesterday, Howard Kurtz was bewildered that the public believes lies about health care. Today, he (accidentally) shows why they do.
Here's Kurtz today, again expressing exasperation that the media's debunking of lies hasn't worked:
When something is clearly and factually inaccurate, journalists should say so. And the supposed euthanasia panels under the Obama plan was a rare instance in which news organizations did just that. And yet it didn't matter, with 45 percent of Americans saying in an NBC poll that they believe the plan includes government panels that would make end-of-life decisions.
What Kurtz fails to consider is that news organizations have done an sporadic and ineffectual job of declaring falsehoods to be false, as I pointed out yesterday. And they have done an even worse job of holding the liars accountable. If you're a health care critic, you can make up whatever damn fool thing you want, secure in the knowledge that even if a few news organizations debunk your lies, they'll still quote you the next time you say something.
Here's an example: Later in today's column, Kurtz quotes Fred Barnes' latest Wall Street Journal column. In that column, Barnes promotes the death panel nonsense that Howard Kurtz knows and says is false. Yet not only does Kurtz quote the Barnes column, he doesn't write a single word of criticism of Barnes. (He does quote Time's Joe Klein blasting Barnes, but doing it this way sets up a he-said/she-said in which some readers will dismiss Klein's views.)
This, Mr. Kurtz, is why people like Barnes feel free to spread lies: They know people like you will keep quoting them as though they are serious thinkers who deserve a place at the center of the public dialogue.
For weeks, the punditocracy -- Chris Matthews and Jonathan Alter come immediately to mind -- have been saying liberals are foolish for insisting on the inclusion of a public plan in health care reform. Liberals, they say, are letting the perfect* be the enemy of the good, and risk getting nothing by insisting on everything*.
Well, here's Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, via today's Wall Street Journal:
Sen. Charles Grassley signaled growing skepticism about the likelihood of Democrat-led health-care legislation passing this year, telling a town-hall meeting here Monday, "Now is the time to do this right or not do it."
In an interview, he vowed not to vote for an "imperfect bill" that includes a public option or gives the government too much control over end-of-life issues.
I wonder if we'll see the same amount of media hand-wringing over Grassley's refusal to vote for what he considers an "imperfect bill." Will he be denounced for being willing to do nothing at all rather than something he considers imperfect? Will he be portrayed as stubborn and unyielding and reckless?
* Never mind that the public option is, for many liberals, neither "perfect" nor "everything," but a huge concession to the Right -- it isn't single-payer.
This nugget from the WSJ, on the (misguided premise) that Don Imus might help juice FBN ratings in the mornings, was pretty amazing [emphasis added]:
Fox Business averaged 21,000 viewers between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. in June, according to Nielsen Co.
That's right, 21,000 viewers. Now, combine that number with this one:
Fox Business is in 49 million homes, including the New York and Washington markets.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox Business Network is in 49,000,000 homes, but only 21,000 tune in during the morning. I think that comes out to .05% of possible viewers watching FBN during morning drive, but I'm no good at math so the figure might actually be lower.
Suffice it to say that after more than a year on the air, FBN remains cable's best kept secret.
As I've noted before, during the Bush years, the vigilant National Review was on high alert for any administration critics who played the Nazi or Hitler or swastika card. For The National Review, that kind of rhetoric was just completely out of bounds and only highlighted how deranged Bush's liberal critics had become. (i.e. Nazi's? Who says that kind of stuff?)
But my how things have changed. These days, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh--two sources The National Review now looks to for moral guidance--regularly spew Nazi and Hitler nonsense, and formerly serious conservative writers know not to say a word. They know it's considered bad form to contradict anything said on Fox News or Limbaugh's hate program. So even though The National Review made it a point to call out anyone who engaged in Nazi and Hitler rhetoric while Bush was president, the magazine today meekly turns away while the conservative movement wallows in the stuff.
If by any chance, editors at National Review regain their moral compass, they might want to scold Fox News for Monday having on a health care mini-mob member who (surprise!) got famous for unfurling a fact-free rant in front of a Congressman. The key part of the rant? That Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a Nazi. (BTW, did you know Nazi's were "leftists?" And who says the mini-mobs can't educate the masses?)
Never mind. Fox News loves the guy and made sure to play the part of this rant where he smeared Pelosi as a Nazi. (She has a swastika on her sleeve!) I'm sure The National Review is deeply troubled....