From a prepared statement issued by New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin to TPM Media:
Boy did I touch the third rail! My off-handed comment was admittedly flip. I apologize for that. It was meant to provoke a conversation.
I did not mean to suggest that there are literally no successful companies that employ union workers. Of course there are! Your readers have provided a good list (though I might quibble with some of the names.)
I made the unscripted comment with my financial columnist hat on in the context of the problems at GM. That's what the discussion was about on the program. And when you look at some of the once great iconic American industries that have faltered -- automobiles, airlines, steel, apparel, etc -- there is a fair question worth asking about whether those industries were helped or hurt by their unions. But let's leave that debate for another day.
The press continues to give conservatives a free ride with their attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor by failing to point out that the conservative opposition to her nomination has virtually nothing to do with her legal opinions. The conservative movement is now unleashing a general interest smear campaign, while the press remains mum and pretends it's still about the law.
The latest Politico installment comes from this article:
Lindsey Graham: Sotomayor has 'character' problem
The South Carolina Republican senator indicated today he will likely not vote for Sotomayor's confirmation. Why? Because of her "ideology," because of her "temperament," and because of her "character." Note what Graham did not address in his very public attack on Sotomayor: her legal writings. (At least Politico made no reference to it in the article.)
For decades the ground rules for Supreme Court nominations were simple. If the party out of power thought the nominee was not sufficiently qualified for the Supreme Court, that the nominee did not have enough experience or was not being forthcoming about his/her judicial philosophy, than some members opposed the nominee.
With Sotomayor, conservatives aren't even bothering to question her legal resume or her legal writings. They're simply attacking her "character," and the press doesn't say boo.
This is an argument the right-wing is desperate to make this week in the wake of the domestic terrorist who is accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, which was quickly followed by news that an American Muslim had killed an Army recruiter in Arkansas. The argument that GOP Noise Machine leaders like Malkin want very badly to make is pretend the circumstances surrounding both killings are exactly the same; if media conservatives are to blame in any way for Tiller's death, than media liberals are to blame for the killing of the recruiters because liberal pundits created a dangerous, anti-military atmosphere
Malkin is desperate the link the two shooting because right-wing pundits, like Bill O'Reilly, are under fire in the wake of Tiller's murder for the kind of vigilante rhetoric they used against the abortion provider over the years. They're under fire because people are asking the rather obvious question of, if the relentless hate language pinpointed at Tiller by the likes of O'Reilly and others in the conservative media helped foster a dangerous atmosphere where a right-wing terrorist would put those words into action and eliminate Tiller.
Not fair, cries Malkin, who clings to the Arkansas tragedy as proof that liberals are guilty of the exact same thing; that liberals in the media created a dangerous atmosphere with their anti-recruiter rhetoric, which then prompted a killer to put those words into action and eliminate one recruiter. (Glenn Beck made that very claim on his radio show yesterday.)
Slight problem. Neither Malkin nor anybody else on the right this week can find any hateful, violent anti-recruiter rhetoric used by any liberal media personalities. Why can't they find the rhetoric? Because nobody on the left with any sort of national platform has targeted Army recruiters in recent years. Period. (If they did, Malkin would have included the damning quotes in her column. Either that, or she needs to hire a new researcher.)
There are no gotcha, hateful get-the-recruiter quotes to hang around the necks of Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow--which Malkin and company are desperate to do--for the simple reason that high-profile media liberals haven't led dangerous crusades to target military recruiters the way O'Reilly led a dangerous crusade against Dr. Tiller.
As a rule, media liberals don't traffic in irresponsible, militia-style rhetoric. Conservatives like O'Reilly and Glenn Beck do though, and now conservatives can't make it go away.
Given Pat Buchanan's history of clear bigotry - most recently demonstrated in his reminder last night that he supported and continues to defend a white supremacist - there really isn't any good reason for MSNBC to continue putting him on the air. The man is a bigot, plain and simple. In light of the hot water MSNBC has gotten into in the past for bigoted comments by its employees, you would think they would want to distance themselves from the likes Buchanan.
But what's really extraordinary is that MSNBC brings Buchanan on air to talk about race issues. It gives Pat Buchanan a platform from which to call other people racists. Granted, if there's someone who knows racists better than Pat Buchanan does, I can't think of who it would be. But his is not the kind of expertise MSNBC should be inflicting upon its viewers.
Pat Buchanan's idea of a good Supreme Court justice was someone who said "I believe that segregation of the races is proper ... and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I yield to no man in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy and I shall always be so governed." Pat Buchanan says calling that person a racist is a "smear."
Paying Pat Buchanan to opine about the Supreme Court, and to call other people racists, is nothing but a sick, twisted joke.
But that's just what MSNBC is doing. Here's a compilation of some of Buchanan's recent vile and hypocritical attacks on Sonia Sotomayor:
Fox News is doing its best to prop up this 'scandal.' But oh, is it painful to watch.
Note how the Chrysler dealership owner on Neil Cavuto's show won't sign off on the idea that he was shut down (by the Obama White House) as part of the company's radical restructuring because he gave money to Republicans. Note that Fox News' research simply confirms that, wow, car dealers across the board give way more money to Republicans than Democrats, which proves nothing about any kind of pattern behind which dealers are getting shuttered.
The next chapter: GM will soon announce hundreds of dealership being closed as part of its bankruptcy filing. Be sure to check with right-wing bloggers in coming weeks to find out of the Obama White House continues to "punish" GOP donors.
Michelle Malkin's column today:
When a right-wing Christian vigilante kills, millions of fingers pull the trigger. When a left-wing Muslim vigilante kills, he kills alone. These are the instantly ossifying narratives in the Sunday shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller of Kansas versus the Monday shootings of two Arkansas military recruiters.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on a second. What evidence is there the Arkansas shooter is "left-wing"?
There isn't any in Malkin's column. And, so far as I know, there isn't any anywhere. (And I think it's safe to assume that there was any evidence, Malkin would have cited it.)
Still, I bet Howard Kurtz quotes Malkin by the end of the week.
The Morning Joe crew was on an anti-union tear this morning, claiming the union label on a company means "sell." Mika Brzezinski went so far as to say of unions: "They cripple the system that makes a company work." Collectively, the journalists on Morning Joe couldn't name a single "successful" unionized company.
This says more about their qualifications to discuss public policy and labor relations than it says about unions. To pick just one obvious example, UPS is unionized -- and the company made more than $3 billion last year. That's "billion" with a "b," and those are profits, not revenues.
Oh, what the heck, let's take one more example. GE is one of the world's largest companies; in 2006, its revenues were greater than the gross domestic products of 80 percent of UN nations. The company made more than $18 billion in 2008 -- again, billion with a b, and again, those are profits, not revenue. All that despite (or, perhaps, because of) the fact that 13 different unions represent GE workers.
Oh, and GE owns NBC-Universal, which owns MSNBC, which pays Joe Scarborough a handsome salary (and the unionized workers who help get his show on the air considerably less.)
Does Joe Scarborough think NBC and GE are not "successful" companies? Does Mika Brzezinski think the unionized workers she no doubt interacts with every day are crippling her ability to do her job, or her employer's ability to be successful?
Or is it possible that the anti-union rants from Morning Joe journalists has something to do with the fact that members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA union have protested NBC-Universal? Here's a May 19 press release:
Members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA will stage a protest tonight outside NBC Universal's Fall Preview Gala at the Town Hall Theater in Manhattan. More than 2,500 NBCU employees at the NBC Television Network and its owned TV stations in New York, Washington, D.C.; Chicago, and Burbank have been working without a contract for nearly two months. Union and company negotiators have been meeting sporadically since last September; little progress for a new agreement has been made.
NABET-CWA Locals have filed unfair labor charges and unit clarification petitions with the National Labor Relations Board and put NBC Universal on notice previously that workers will mobilize across the country to fight for a fair and equitable contract. The contract between NABET-CWA and NBC Universal expired at midnight on March 31, 2009. No new talks have been scheduled.
UPDATE: New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin started off the nonsense about successful unionized companies, saying, "Name a successful unionized company. Think. You're gonna go to break before you come up with one."
If Andrew Ross Sorkin's name sounds familiar, that's probably because he's the reporter who started the myth about the average GM worker being paid $70 an hour. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named him "Worst Person in the World" for that bit of blatantly false anti-union, anti-worker propaganda.
UPDATE 2: Over at TPM, Brian Beutler has a response from Teamsters president James Hoffa: "The Morning Joe team really should be embarrassed for showing their lack of knowledge on the subject." And Beutler says he has a call in to Sorkin, and is awaiting a response.