Because pundits on the far-right who write nasty things about Democrats and important and influential. That's simply how the Beltway press works.
So of course, Politico sends a reporter to visit Krauthammer in his corner D.C. office in order to write up a gushing profile about how influential Krauthammer's (robotic) dissents about Obama have become. (Conservatives email his columns around!) To write up this fantasy that Krauthammer has somehow emerged as a clarion voice. That the Fox News talker and Iraq war cheerleader is a "a coherent, sophisticated and implacable critic of the new president."
The headline really gives the game away:
Obama's biggest critic: Krauthammer
First, the declaration is a joke because the entire GOP Noise Machine has been uniformly critical of Obama this year. There is very little variation from the talking points. They attack everything he does. So how and why would Politico possibly select Krauthammer as somehow being particularly influential. (Politico doesn't point to any of Krauthammer's work that's in any way distinguishable from the avalanche of over-excited Obama critiques launched by the right.) It's not possible to distinguish a voice in that GOP pundits crowd because they're pretty much all saying the exact same thing. Period.
Second, note the stated assumption that whoever is "Obama's biggest critic" is automatically a big deal; is somebody the press needs to pay attention to and to flatter in media profiles.
Here's a neat trick. Go dig through Nexis and see if you can find any mainstream media profile from May of 2001, that toasted "Bush's biggest critic." I'm almost sure no such profile exists because the press, in spring of 2001, didn't care about Bush's liberal critics. They didn't take those people seriously. But in May 2009, "Obama's biggest critic" garners a Beltway valentine.
How silly is this Krauthammer piece? Read this passage as Politico tries to explain why Krauthammer is (supposedly) the new Master of the Anti-Obama Universe [emphasis added]:
But the key to Krauthammer's appeal is the clarity of his opposition to Obama, which began soon after a December 2006 column in which he urged Obama to run for president and guaranteed that he would lose.
Got that? Krauthammer stands out among Obama haters (my term) because he guaranteed Obama would lose in 2008. Krauthammer never saw last year's landslide election coming--was sure Obama would lose--and yet just months later the Politico rushes in to toast his brilliance.
Again: Wrong about Iraq, wrong about the 2008 campaign. But according to Politico, Krauthammer's at the top of his game.
You may recall GOP pollster Frank Luntz's recently released a 28-page memo, "The Language of Healthcare 2009: The 10 Rules for Stopping the 'Washington Takeover' of Healthcare," which is intended to help conservatives defeat President Obama and congressional Democrats' health-care reform initiatives. As we've noted over the past two weeks, Fox News has provided a forum for the Luntz talking points while Politico hyped his memo and downplayed a progressive pollster's pro-health care reform memo.
Well, now it seems Luntz doesn't want anyone asking who paid for his "10 rules" memo. Via Huffington Post's Sam Stein:
Conservative communications guru Frank Luntz has written the playbook for GOP opposition to the Obama administration's health care proposal. His plan, which is heavy on framing the president's proposal as a government "takeover," is already popping up in statements from top congressional Republicans and on Fox News, despite the fact that no Democratic legislation has been proposed.
But when it comes to discussing who funded his messaging, the wordsmith Luntz is notably devoid of words. Asked about his funder in an interview with the New York Times Magazine to be published on Sunday, Luntz was close-lipped:
Q Who paid you to write the health care memo?
A It's not relevant.
Q A pharmaceutical company?
A No pharmaceutical company was involved.
Riiiiiiight, it's not relevant who paid for the memo – a memo with talking points now being parroted by Fox News and other conservative media outlets and figures. I know it may be a bit of a stretch to expect Luntz to understand that this is an issue about his credibility as a pollster – if he has any left – but it's the right thing to do.
Come on Frank, answer the question.
Given how thoroughly the media has bought into the GOP's "Torture is totally fine and necessary and Nancy Pelosi should resign for knowing about it, even though we can't prove she did" argument, you have to wonder how long it will take before the media begins applying that "logic" to other Democrats in Congress.
And maybe it's beginning. Here's a sensationalistic report in the The Intelligencer:
Records: Murphy briefed by CIA on waterboarding
Posted in News on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 3:15 pm by Intelligencer writer Gary Weckselblatt
Eighth District Congressman Patrick Murphy has attended two CIA briefings at the center of a firestorm between the agency and the Speaker of the House, who said she was lied to about waterboarding.
Wow! Patrick Murphy knew, too!
Oh. Wait. It turns out Murphy didn't actually attend "two CIA briefings at the center of a firestorm." He attended two CIA briefings held years later, long after the fact:
Murphy, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is listed among lawmakers in attendance on Jan. 16, 2008. The topics included "Videotape Desctruction" and "Discussion of EITs, including waterboarding."
On March 12, less than two months after President Barack Obama signed orders that end torture, Murphy was briefed with other members of the Intelligence Committee about "General references to EITs, interrogations and the end of the use of EITs by the CIA throughout. One mention of one specific EIT, waterboarding," according to the CIA chart.
The CIA briefing "at the center of a firestorm" between the CIA and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi occurred in 2002. That's a full six years before the meetings the Intelligencer's crack investigative unit says Patrick Murphy attended. The difference is rather significant, since the whole controversy is about whether Members of Congress knew about the Bush administration's torture in real time.
Last week, I noted that the numerical advantage conservatives have on the nation's op-ed pages doesn't tell the whole story:
There's a huge qualitative difference between the conservatives given newspaper columns and their progressive counterparts as well. The conservatives tend to be more partisan, more aggressive, and more reliable advocates for their "team."
The Washington Post employs as a columnist Bill Kristol, a hyperpartisan neocon Republican strategist who has been a key player in GOP efforts to block health care and start unnecessary wars. Who is supposed to be Kristol's counterpart? Richard Cohen, who opposes affirmative action, supports torture, and attacked liberals who opposed Kristol's war in Iraq?
Now, here's what you see if you turn to the op-ed page of today's Washington Post:
Former Bush speechwriter and current Post columnist Michael Gerson on "The Democrats' Assault on the CIA."
Conservative Post columnist Kathleen Parker on chaos in the GOP.
Former Bush aide Ed Gillespie, misleading readers about his party's historical reaction to Supreme Court nominees by Democratic presidents.
Centrist Post columnist David Ignatius on President Obama's approach to Israel
Liberal Post columnist Ruth Marcus writing about her new puppy.
So that's three conservatives, including two former Bush aides, a centrist, and a progressive. One conservative attacking Democrats, one conservative misleading readers about the Supreme Court and attacking Democrats, one conservative noting disarray in the GOP, and a liberal writing about her dog.
The Washington Post continues its tradition of letting conservative columnists write whatever nonsense they want, no matter how misleading.
Today's Post features a column by former Bush aide Ed Gillespie, who writes about Supreme Court nominations:
In 1993 and '94, Republicans voted overwhelmingly to confirm Clinton's nominees on the long-held premise that presidential elections have consequences, and one of the most important of them is a president's prerogative to fill Supreme Court vacancies. ...
Sen. Orrin Hatch, then the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, summed up this traditional approach to consideration of Supreme Court nominees in announcing his vote to confirm Ginsburg in August 1993: "If a nominee is experienced in the law, highly intelligent, of good character and temperament, and -- most important -- gives clear and convincing evidence that he or she understands and respects the proper role of the judiciary in our system of government, the mere fact that I might have selected a different nominee will not lead me to oppose the President's nominee."
For most of our history, this perspective was broadly shared on both sides of the aisle when it came to the unique intersection of the executive, legislative and judicial branches encompassed in the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process. On the basis of this understanding, 41 of 44 Senate Republicans voted to confirm Ginsburg and 33 of 42 voted to confirm Breyer.
Reading that, you'd never know that Hatch recommended Ginsburg to Clinton. Republicans like Hatch didn't vote for Ginsburg because they thought the president should be able to choose whoever he wants, they voted for Ginsburg because they recommended Ginsburg to the president.
Having misled Post readers about what Republicans did in the early 1990s, Gillespie argues - more in sorrow than anger - that the GOP should set aside their traditional deference to Democratic presidents (Ha!) and fight tooth and nail against Obama's nominee.
It's bad enough that Post lets its right-wing columnists take liberties with reality. But why on earth would the paper hand a political strategist prime op-ed real estate to mislead readers?
I asked McCain if recent doubts cast on the document by former intelligence committee chairmen Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) -- which back Nancy Pelosi's claim she had been "misled" -- had merit.
He replied: "The briefings I have had on torture i don't forget... They [Graham and Rockefeller] have a problem with Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, they ought to sit down and talk with him because he was the one who said [Pelosi] was well briefed."
Thrush let that comment stand unchallenged. But Panetta didn't say Pelosi "was well briefed." Thrush's colleague Josh Gerstein explained on Monday:
Look carefully at Panetta's statement from Friday, especially the verb tense used. "Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress." First, "let me be clear" always precedes an ambiguous statement. Without fail. Panetta isn't opining on past acts. He's referring to the current policy. He's also not saying it never happens or happened that someone lied to or misled Congress. He's saying the agency as a whole doesn't intend to.
Panetta was at his Monterey, Calif. think tank when this all happened in 2002 and 2003. He doesn't know if Pelosi was lied to. He also doesn't say he talked to the briefers and is convinced they're telling the truth. He just says the paper records say she was briefed about the techniques. We knew that already from agency statements. So he's adding his voice to the mix and sending a signal that he'll stand by his agency, but to say he sided with the briefers on the specifics is just wrong.
Again, I'm not saying Pelosi was lied to or even misled. It would seem rather brazen to do that. But Panetta's statement says less than people are claiming.
For that matter, Graham and Rockefeller don't have a "problem with Leon Panetta," as Thrush allowed McCain to claim; they have a problem with the logs the CIA has released. Those logs, not Panetta, are at odds with their memories. Republican Pete Hoekstra thinks the logs are imperfect. And even the CIA says the logs are based on "best recollections," not hard facts.
So, basically, nothing McCain said was true. But Thrush didn't challenge any of it.
According to the Globe article, it's all very clear: Pelosi's facing a rebellion within her party because of the on-going CIA story:
Her decision to take on the CIA may have been intended to preserve her credibility in liberal circles, but it stirred up a firestorm among moderates and conservatives of both parties who rushed to back the intelligence community. Now, the controversy is likely to become a test of President Obama's leadership - not to rally the country, but to quell dissension in his own ranks.
According to the Globe, there is dissension within Democratic ranks over Pelosi. (And only Obama can quell it!) And specifically, "moderates" in the party have backed the CIA--not Pelosi--in the intelligence dispute.
Slight problem though, the Globe article never supplies any evidence to back up the claims. None. Who are the unnamed moderate Democrats who have bailed on Pelosi? Readers have no idea because none are ever mentioned or quoted.
But as we mentioned earlier today, the Pelosi story has progressed to that state where the press stopped bothering with the facts because everybody just knows the preferred storyline.
UPDATE: From Wednesday's WashPost:
[House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer, a former Pelosi rival in leadership elections, added that not a single member of the Democratic caucus has questioned him about Pelosi's stance, and he said it has not been a point of discussion in leadership meetings.
From Hitchens' May 18 Slate column:
There is a mildly racist comedian in England named Jim Davidson who thinks it amusing to ask what West Indians said to themselves while using the black-and-white strips of the pedestrian crossing. ("Now you see me, now you don't; now you see me, now you don't.")* In order for this to be funny in the least--and I frankly despaired of it ever achieving that critical mass so essential to the life and definition of a comedian--it would have to be just as funny if a "white" person was traversing the road in the same way.
Not laughing yet? Me neither. Well, then, why is it so "edgy" for Wanda Sykes to say that Obama gets lots of praise now, but that if he messes up, it'll be, "What's up with the half-white guy?" This can be remotely hilarious only if said by somebody nonwhite, but almost every paleface in the audience seemed to feel it their duty to rock back and forth with complicit mirth.
Still, at least that weak opening stuff was in some manner launched in Obama's direction. The rest of Sykes' time was spent vocalizing the talking points of moveon.org and Air America. If I am in a taxi and Rush Limbaugh is on the radio, I ask the driver to switch the station or switch it off altogether. Limbaugh's life, like his appeal, is a closed book to me. But I presume that he was on painkiller medication for some reason before he began to become dependent on it, and before he became an object of our adorable "war on drugs." It's not so much that it isn't very funny to mock him for his Oxycontin habit. It's that it's near-impossible to imagine our Sable Sapphist lampooning a black equivalent of Limbaugh for an addiction to, say, crack.
It's become the blind-leading-the blind at this point, as the The Drudge Report and the Boston Globe have joined with Politico to completely butcher the results from a recent CNN poll. They have completely manufactured the claim that Pelosi's approval ratings have plunged from 51 percent in January of this year, to 39 percent today, with the suggestion that it's all the fault of the CIA briefing scandal.
From the Globe:
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released this afternoon found that the approval of how Pelosi is doing her job as speaker has dropped from 51 percent in January to 46 percent in March to 39 percent now.
The CIA torture briefings story line is taking its toll on Nancy Pelosi's approval ratings. A CNN poll just released shows her approval rating has dropped from 51 percent in mid-January to 39 percent in a poll taken late last week as the CIA controversy was unfolding. Forty-eight percent of those polled "disapprove" of how Pelosi is handling her job as speaker.
And the Drudge headline:
Pelosi's approval rating plummets....
It's simply not true.
First of all, if Pelosi's job approval ratings had fallen from 51 to 39 percent in four months I'm pretty sure CNN would have mentioned that in its write-up. It did not. Instead, what the CNN/Opinion Research poll found, according to CNN's own report, was that in January the approval rating of Congressional Democrats as a whole stood at 51 percent, not Pelosi's personal approval ratings.
Note that according to the CNN/Opinion Research data posted at PollingReport.com, Pelosi's "favorable" rating in a January survey this year was 39 percent. (CNN/Opinion Research did not ask about her "job approval" in January.)
Meaning, based on CNN/Opinion Research polling data, which both Politico and the Globe and Drudge point to, there's simply no evidence that Pelosi's job approval has budged at all this year, let alone plummeted.