Ugh, this article is a piece of work.
When we last noticed Time's John Cloud he was writing a blogospheric classic in the form of a Valentine to Ann Coulter (has it really been three years?), where the hate mistress was transformed into a public intellectual.
Cloud's latest is headlined, "The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Politics." It's basically a look at a group of wealthy and influential gay men, dubbed the Cabinet, who have teamed up to raise millions of dollars to give candidates running against anti-gay opponents, and to give to organizations and PAC's that are politically aligned with the men's agenda.
That strikes us as mildly interesting, but hardly blockbuster, material. But when Time dresses the story up and shrouds it mystery with words like "secret," "secretive," "stealth," and the "complex" "web of connections," even we had our interest piqued.
Alas, the breathless tone of the piece turns out to be pointless. And so are many of the claims Cloud makes in his effort to prop up the story as a tale of nefarious influences. For instance, why is the name of the right-wing's favorite lib bogey man, George Soros, sprinkled throughout the Time story even though Soros is not connected with the Cabinet and, based on Time's reporting, has not donated a dime?
And what's with "redefining politics" headline? The Cabinet is made up of liberals giving money to liberal candidate (esp. on the state level) and to liberal orgs. As much as we wish that constituted"redefining politics" in America, that claim strikes us as absurd.
And we're not even going to mention the idiotic, law-breaking "mafia" meme. Actually, we will mention it because Cloud goes out his way to darkly note (he even quotes a Skadden Arps attorney!) that none of the Cabinet's work or donations are "illegal." But why even bring that up? There's absolutely nothing in the article to even suggest there's anything illegal going on. Again; wealthy libs raise money and then spread it around. Where does the crime-breaking angle come in?
The truth is, Cloud has to address the issue of illegality because of the hush-hush tone he uses to dress up the Cabinet up as a menacing force.
In the passage where Cloud reassures Time readers about how the Cabinet's work is legit, he adds this caveat:
And yet as the National Review's Byron York has pointed out, Americans were horrified to learn during Watergate that Richard Nixon's friend Clement Stone had donated an outrageous $2 million in cash to the President's campaign. Cabinet members have spent at least five times that amount in various races in the past four years.
First, love how Time turns to the conservative National Review writer for an un-bias assessment of liberal political activism.
Second, the comparison between the Cabinet and Nixon's pal Clement Stone clearly makes no sense because Stone made headlines in the early 1970's when it was discovered, as part of the Watergate investigation, that the millionaire insurance salesman single-handedly filled Nixon's campaign coffers with millions and millions of dollars worth of donations.
He did that by donating money to hundreds of Nixon-created front groups--which funneled the money to Nixonland--as a way to get around the legal limits in place for presidential donors. (Corner-cutting donors also got tax breaks that way.) In other words, Stone for years was pretty much oblivious to the campaign finance laws of the time.
That's who Cloud uses as a comparison for the Cabinet, which, as far as the Time article reports, doesn't even give money to Democratic presidential candidates. Plus, Cloud provides zero proof that the Cabinet is using front groups to bypass established law the way Stone brazenly did. Yet Cloud eagerly quotes from a conservative in order to make the phony comparison between the two; a single donor who skirted the law, and a group of men who abide by it.
Like we said, this article is a piece of work.
Still no news posted on that story by the Strib yet, but the newspaper has quickly written up a story about how Coleman, just like in his previous campaigns, is suing his opponent.
But fear not curious Strib readers who want to learn more about the $75,000 Coleman lawsuit. You can uncover the facts in the comment section of the Strib article, where this reader update was posted:
Breaking News: Coleman pulls a Ted Stevens
Paul McKim, the founder and CEO of Deep Marine Technology, alleges in a civil suit that Nasser Kazeminy -- a longtime Republican donor, friend of Coleman, and DMT shareholder -- directed the company to send $75,000 to the Senator and his wife. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/30/court-docs-gop-donor-secr_n_139366.html
Enough with the town hall talk, already.
We get it. John McCain wanted to have a series of of regularly scheduled town hall forums with Barack Obama. They never happened.
And by now we all know the WaPo's dean of centrism was deeply disappointed by that. But four months later does Broder still need to hitting that point? In today's column, it's literally one of Broder's key take-aways from the entire campaign.
The issue has certainly been weight heavily on his mind:
*"That is why a pair of strategy decisions made in the past two weeks could prove troublesome for him. The first was Obama's turning down McCain's invitation to join him in a series of town hall meetings where they would appear together and answer questions from real voters." [June 22]
*On June 4, McCain proposed 10 town-hall-style debates before screened audiences of uncommitted independent voters across the country. [Aug. 7]
*"The matchup could have come much earlier, but Obama turned down McCain's invitation to join in a series of town hall meetings during the summer." [Sept. 21]
*"He has been condemned for small-minded partisanship, not praised for his generous and important suggestion that the major-party candidates stump the country together, conducting weekly joint town hall meetings -- an innovation Obama urned down." [Oct. 30]
Speaking of the Strib (see below), Matt Stoller has already noted the oddity of the Strib simultaneously endorsing Obama for president while backing Franken's Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, for the U.S. Senate.
But as mnblue now points out, the Strib's other Congressional endorsements are so poorly argued and executed (Democrat Steve Sarvi wasn't even interviewed by the Strib ed board before it endorsed his GOP opponent), you have to wonder if they'll carry much weight with voters.
From Time: "How McCain Thinks He Can Win Pennsylvania."
As the article itself notes, McCain is trailing in Pa. by between 7-14 points in the most recent polls. That means there are very few political pro's, including reporters covering the race, who likely think McCain can erase a double-digit deficit in five days, simply because there's no recent White House campaign election precedent for that.
Nonetheless, scribes seemed determine to wring out some drama from the Keystone State. (See yesterday's Boston Globe.) And so Time opts for the mind-reading approach: How McCain thinks he can win Pa.
If Time's campaign reporters doubt McCain can win Pa., why is it news that McCain thinks he can?
Cillizza claims the status of Drudge's mojo has become quit the topic of conversation among "the political chattering class." And Cillizza links to a fine post by Phil Singer who delves into the issue.
Of course what Cillizza fails to mention is that Media Matters for America put that issue into play and continues to drive the topic. But for outlets like WaPo, it seems whenever possible they'd prefer not to credit Media Matters. I guess that's because we hold them accountable and often point out their flaws. Or maybe we're just not consequential enough.
And this is nothing new. The Post's Howard Kurtz used to link to my work on a regular basis when it appeared at Huffington Post and Salon. But I day I started working for Media Matters was the day he stopped linking to me.
That's fine. It's a big blogosphere and I'm not concerned about the MMA message not getting out. It's just humorous to watch Beltway insiders strain so mightily to avoid typing up the four words they seem to dread most: Media Matters for America.
The NYT covers the completely contrived controversy about the LA Times not releasing a video that shows Barack Obama at a going away party for a university professor. (A professor who has "publicly criticized Israel," as the AP reported.) Republicans, led by online dead-enders, have convinced themselves the tape, if seen by the public, will finally reveal all that is evil about Obama.
As we noted yesterday, since when do politicians have the right to demand that news gathering orgs "release" anything? (Paging the First Amendment.....) And since the LA Times obtained the suddenly hugely/wildly/unbelievably important tape last spring (and wrote about it last spring; so much for suppressing the story) from a source on the condition it not release it, the point here is mute. The paper's not going to break its agreement just to satisfy the GOP mob.
Nonetheless, the NYT treats the story as very serious, and presents McCain's demand as a plausible one with lots of quotes from those involved. What the Times does not do, until the closing graph, is provide any kind of context regarding the GOP's outlandish request.
But that's typical of how the mainstream press treats right-wing crusades. Scared about being tagged for having a liberal bias, the press plays dumb about all kinds of right-wing attacks on the press.
BTW, the Boston Globe does a somewhat better job handling the LA Times story, mentioning, for instance, that McCain offered no proof for his claim that Bill Ayers was present to the now hugely/wildly/unbelievably important going away party; a collegiate party that McCain likened to a "neo-Nazi" event. Nice touch.
One of the things that struck us about the Minneapolis Star Tribune's coverage of the Frank/Norm Coleman race was the Strib's almost complete lack of news coverage surrounding Coleman's embarrassing Suitgate story. That's the one about a wealthy Coleman donor, Nasser Kazeminy, who had allegedly bought expensive suits for the politician at Neiman Marcus.
By our count, the Strib devoted a total of 53 words to straight news coverage to the story, even though it went national on the cable news channels. And yes, there's been all kinds of Twin City buzz that the Strib spiked a news story about Suitgate.
With that in mind, it was interesting to see a couple of Strib reporters trying to get answers from Coleman yesterday about an apparent lawsuit that suggests Coleman's wife received $75,000 wtih the help from the same Kazeminy. See the reporters in action here.
Nothing yet in the pages of the Strib about this breaking development.
UPDATE: The Nation reports on the lawsuit in question.
As Atrios accurately calls it. And guess who has the worst addiction? The press.
From Karl Rove's WSJ column today [emphasis added]:
There has been an explosion of polls this presidential election. Through yesterday, there have been 728 national polls with head-to-head matchups of the candidates, 215 in October alone. In 2004, there were just 239 matchup polls, with 67 of those in October. At this rate, there may be almost as many national polls in October of 2008 as there were during the entire year in 2004.
Suggestion: With so media companies strapped for cash, perhaps in coming election cycles they can cut back on the avalanche of often useless polling data they pay for; polling data that seem more designed to generate headlines (i.e. manufacture news), than to shed light on elections.