James Humes writes in a March 11 Newsmax column regarding a bust of Winston Churchill loaned to the U.S. government by Great Britain that was returned to the British Embassy after President Obama took office:
That offensive act without explanation gave substance to the reported story that when President Obama walked into the Oval Office for the first time and saw the Churchill piece, he said, "Get that goddam thing out of here."
Humes doesn't say where that quote of Obama was supposedly "reported"; searches of Google and Nexis turn up no evidence of it. A Google search for the phrase "Get that goddam thing out of here" yields exactly two results: Humes' own article, and a Time magazine article - from 1946.
As if citing an apparently nonexistent quote wasn't enough, Humes also accuses Obama of exacting tribal revenge: "Perhaps Obama, who grew up in Kenya, took umbrage at Prime Minister Churchill's actions in 1953 of wiping out the Mau-Mau, the Kenyan terrorists who made a specialty of slitting throats of sleeping white and Black Kenyans."
For the record, Barack Obama did not grow up in Kenya -- unless by "Kenya," Humes means "Hawaii."
Adam Green over at Huffington Post has some thoughts on Erin Burnett's appearance today on MSNBC's Morning Joe which Media Matters highlighted this earlier morning and he's calling on folks to email the CNBC host with their thoughts on "what we think her role as a CNBC Wall Street reporter should be." Green's entire post is well worth a read but here is the pertinent portion:
This morning, on Morning Joe, for no apparent reason, [Burnett] blurted out, "I'm going to throw this out there, it's just a question..." and then went on a long rant about "the whole question about unemployment benefits themselves." As in, should they even exist?
After all, she pointed out, they don't have them in China (the epitome of a pro-worker country). She asked, "Does that encourage people in places like China to go get jobs more quickly rather than waiting to exhaust their unemployment benefits?"
A commentator who happened to be on the set with Scarborough helpfully pointed out, "Erin, if you met some people who are out of work right now, I don't think they'd be telling you that they're not working because they're waiting for unemployment benefits to run out."
Burnett agreed, "No doubt." But then said, "We get a lot of emails where people say, maybe they do wait a little bit." She added that she has no opinion on it, but people are talking about it so "it's fair to bring up."
Obviously, Burnett appreciates viewer email so much that she's willing to repeat even the most uninformed ones on air. For all my critique of Burnett, her openness to emails from the public is commendable.
So, let's email her some feedback on what we think her role as a CNBC Wall Street reporter should be: SquawkOnTheStreet@cnbc.com
If you have a minute, follow Green's lead and send Burnett your thoughts.
Buried deep down in a recent Politico article about budget wrangling, was this passage, which attempted to put the current omnibus bill in context [emphasis added]:
The situation is very similar to early 2003, when Republicans and the Bush administration pushed through a nearly $400 billion package after the budget process had collapsed amid partisan fighting the prior year. Filling almost 1,160 pages, that measure was even more complex, including Medicare and farm-disaster spending as well as appropriations. But it moved through the Senate in about six days, and after a quick conference with the House it was signed by Bush.
Looking back, the 2003 debate was much more substantive and focused on major accounts within the bill, rather than on the spending earmarks. By comparison, the current measure devotes substantially less money to earmarks, but that issue has come to dominate the politics so much that it has dwarfed most other issues in the six days of debate.
For some reason this spending bill was dominated by the issue of earmarks--it "dwarfed most other issues"-- as compared to Bush's 2003 spending bill. Politico got that point right. But it played dumb about the role the press played in making that a fact. It played dumb about the fact that earmarks dominated the debate because the GOP wanted them to, and the press eagerly complied.
Generally speaking, political writers don't think so much of political scientists, either, mostly because anyone who has ever actually worked in or covered politics can tell you that, whatever else it may be, a science isn't one of them. Politics is, after all, the business of humans attempting to triumph over their own disorder, insecurity, competitiveness, arrogance, and infidelity; make all the equations you want, but a lot of politics is simply tactile and visual, rather than empirical. My dinnertime conversation with three Iowans may not add up to a reliable portrait of the national consensus, but it's often more illuminating than the dissertations of academics whose idea of seeing America is a trip to the local Bed, Bath & Beyond.
This is odd, to say the least. Bai is essentially arguing on behalf of the very approach he mocks.
In terms of a reporter's ability to paint a "portrait of the national consensus," a dinnertime conversation with three Iowans is pretty much the same thing as thinking you can see America via a trip to the local Bed, Bath & Beyond.
The problem with extrapolating what you see on a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond into an assertion about broader public opinion is that it mistakes anecdote for data. A dinnertime conversation with three Iowans has the same problem. And Matt Bai knows this; just a few paragraphs earlier, he wrote:
Academics who study politics often consider those of us who write about the field to be superficial, simple-minded and-the greatest indictment of all- unscientific . We interview three people in an Iowa diner and act as if we have penetrated the very soul of America. (Such allegations are, sadly, true enough.)
The founder of Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, is a law school graduate who lives in Berkeley; the lead blogger on FireDogLake, Jane Hamsher, used to be the Hollywood producer of such family films as "Natural Born Killers"; Chris Bowers, the signature voice of Open Left, is (or at least was when I first met him) a graduate student in sociology. To suggest that the voices of 100 or so prominent bloggers of similar pedigree represent some new, more inclusive voice of the American everyman-which is what the bloggers themselves like to profess-is just fantasy.
Well, ok. But Bai just gone done arguing that his dinnertime conversations with three Iowans are illuminating. The views of "three Iowans" are illuminating, but those of three bloggers are not? (By the way, note the loaded descriptions of those three: Bai could just as easily have described Markos as a veteran of the U.S. Army or as a small business owner who grew up in El Salvador. But that would have undermined his point pretty badly.)
So Matt Bai seems to be arguing that looking at a narrow and small slice of the populace in order to draw broader conclusions is invalid - unless Matt Bai is the person doing the looking.
Note the subtle headline [emphasis added]
First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bury hatchet with hugs, air kisses
According to the Daily News, Obama and Clinton have ended their political sniping and made up. i.e The cat fight among the high-profile Democratic women is over. (Gee, nothing sexist there, right?) But what evidence does the daily present to substantiate the claim and Obama and Clinton despised each other? Here's what the News' Richard Sisk wrote:
It wasn't that long ago that party insiders were telling the political world that Michelle Obama and Clinton simply couldn't abide one another. Both sides openly accused the other of arrogantly parading about as the "inevitable" White House winner during the campaign. But the recent unpleasantness dissolved in a hearty round of hugs and air kisses Wednesday, as Clinton praised Obama's "grace and her wisdom," and Obama called Clinton "such a committed person, friend, supporter to me."
Typically in journalism if party insiders are "telling the political world" something, and if both sides in a feud are "openly" accusing the other of something, journalists quote those people to substantiate the claims. But not the Daily News. It loved the cat fight angle, even if it provided no evidence whatsoever to back it up.
With its feature today on pols who wear handkerchiefs with their suits. Yes, the Politico article's more than 1,000 words, and yes, it comes complete with a slide show to document the pols who wear a handkerchief with their suit.
Why do I have the feeling there are editorial meetings at Politico where the possibility of a boxer/briefs story actually gets tossed around?
Is there any major-newspaper reporter who is more consistently wrong than Andrew Malcolm?
Here's filmmaker Michael Moore, on criticism of Rush Limbaugh:
President Obama and the Democratic Party have wasted no time in pointing out to the American people this marriage from hell, tying Rush like a rock around the collective Republican neck and hoping for its quick descent to the netherworld of irrelevance.
But some commentators (Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, Chuck Todd of NBC News, etc.) have likened this to "what Republicans tried to do to the Democrats with Michael Moore." Perhaps. But there is one central difference: What I have believed in, and what I have stood for in these past eight years -- an end to the war, establishing universal health care, closing Guantanamo and banning torture, making the rich pay more taxes and aggressively going after the corporate chiefs on Wall Street -- these are all things which the majority of Americans believe in too. That's why in November the majority voted for the guy I voted for. The majority of Americans rejected the ideology of Rush and embraced the same issues I have raised consistently in my movies and books.
Moore lists numerous ways that Republican strategists went after him in past years -- books, ads, funny photos, and how he was booed off the Oscar stage even in liberal Hollywood for his early opposition to the Iraq war, Guantanamo, torture and other things.
Did that help Democratic Sen. Kerry not get elected in 2004? "Perhaps," Moore admits.
Now, if you read what Moore wrote, you'll notice that Malcolm is simply not telling the truth. Moore's "perhaps" was not an admission that Republican attacks on him helped to defeat John Kerry; not even close. Moore said "perhaps" there is some similarity between what Democrats are currently doing and what Republicans tried to do to him; he is not saying Republicans were successful. Malcolm simply made that up, and ripped Moore's comment out of context in order to hide the fabrication.
In fact, Moore said the GOP's attacks on him backfired (that is, Moore said the opposite of what Malcolm says he said):
The result of this was one colossal backfire. The more they attacked me, the more the public decided to check out who this "devil" was and what he was saying. And -- oops! -- more than a few people liked what they saw.
Yes, the more the Right went after me, the more people got to hear what I was saying -- and eventually the majority, for some strange reason, ended up agreeing with me -- not Rush Limbaugh -- and elected Barack Obama as president of the United States, a man who promised to end the war, bring about universal health care, close Guantanamo, stop torture, tax the rich, and rein in the abusive masters of Wall Street.
In the end it all proved to be a big strategic mistake on their part. Thanks to the Republican attacks on me, average Joes and Janes started to listen to what I had to say.
Obama and the Democrats going after Rush is a good thing and will not do for him what the Republican attack plan did for me -- namely, the majority of Americans will never be sympathetic to him because they simply don't agree with him.
The days of using my name as a pejorative are now over. The right wing turned me into an accidental spokesperson for the liberal, majority agenda. Thank you, Republican Party. You helped us elect one of the most liberal senators to the presidency of the United States. We couldn't have done it without you.
Now, maybe you disagree with Michael Moore; maybe you think the Republicans attacks on him did help George W. Bush win in 2004. That doesn't change the fact that Michael Moore simply did not say what Andrew Malcolm says he said.
Malcolm made it up.
Credit ABC's Jonathan Karl and Luis Martinez for taking the time to actually look into the details surrounding Judicial Watch's comical claims this week about Nancy Pelosi's air travel; claims the Noise Machine mindlessly repeated.
The ABC duo concludes [emphasis added]:
The treasure trove of documents obtained by Judicial Watch from the Department of Defense regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's use of military aircraft doesn't seem to prove the organization's allegation that Pelosi has made "unprecedented demands" for the flights. In fact, it appears that Pelosi uses military aircraft less often than her predecessor, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
ABC found that virtually none of the Judicial Watch claims stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Oh, don't act surprised.
UPDATE: Newsbusters plays dumb, ignoring the fact that the Bush White House and Pentagon demanded, after 9/11, that the Speaker of the House fly on military planes. The only way the pointless Judicial Watch story works is if you pretend it was all Pelosi's idea, which Newsbusters eagerly does:
The mainstream media has completely ignored Pelosi's diva-like demand for a $38 million (in 1998 dollars) luxury aircraft in which to fly home.
There's nothing in that sentence that's factual.
The whole column today is a bit nutty. i.e. There aren't enough businessmen in Obama's cabinet! (Including SOS.) Of course, columnists are allowed to wander down incoherent roads, but they're not allowed to make stuff up.
Like here [emphasis added.]
The Democrats were egregious in packing the stimulus bill with pet projects that won't stimulate much except campaign contributions and in sticking with earmarks -- a symbolic outrage that Obama promised during the campaign he would eliminate.
As Media Matters has noted, the media's beloved meme that Obama promised to eliminate earmarks is pure fantasy. Not that that has stopped the press from peddling its favorite falsehood.
Second, the stimulus bill had no earmarks in it. Period. Even Fox News conceded that point:
President Obama did make sure that bulky earmarks were not in the stimulus bill.
According to Cenk Uygur at HuffPost [emphasis added]:
The real problem is their reporting - or lack thereof. The CNBC reporters and anchors make the Bush press corps look like draconian inquisitors. They are obsessed with access. This is a problem with all of the media, and something Jon Stewart points out all the time. But it is particularly acute at CNBC (and all other business news channels)...They were part of the broken system. There was no journalism going on at CNBC. That is what our underlying complaint is.
UPDATE: HuffPost's Dan Solin also unloads on CNBC:
Investors want to know if the market has bottomed out. The answer is: no one knows. CNBC has not yet bottomed out, and that is contributing to the problem.