I can't get enough of this South Carolina media story about how journalists were flooding the office of Mark Sanford with emails promising friendly coverage if they could land an interview. This was before he admitted to cheating on his wife and using taxpayer money to do it. Back when he appeared to be lost on the Appalachian Trail.
I've already highlighted the questionable efforts by the WSJ's editorial page, as well as ABC News's Jake Tapper. Saving the 'best' for last, let's look at right-wing blogger Erick Erickson.
From The State:
"If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I'm happy to help," wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for RedState.com. On June 23, Erickson ripped "media speculation" about Sanford's whereabouts.
And boy, did Erickson push back at RedState. Here's what he wrote on June 23:
First, we need to be clear on the facts - not the media speculation:
- Sanford did tell his staff and family where he was going.
- Because he was traveling without a security detail, it was in his best interests that no one knew he was gone.
- His political enemies - Republicans at that - ginned up the media story.
- When confronted by a pestering media, things went downhill.
- Again though, at all times there was no doubt that Sanford's staff and family knew where he was.
As Blue Texan quickly noted at FDL, pretty much everything Erickson wrote about Sanford's escapade turned out to be false.
But here's the kicker. Contacted by The State regarding the email he sent to Sanford's office offering to "push back" on Sanford's behalf, here's what Erickson said:
"I wasn't trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story," Erickson said by e-mail. "Well that didn't work."
Love that. Erickson wanted to curtail the story even though, at the time, he had no idea what the facts of the story were. Not that that stopped him from blogging a laundry list of falsehoods.
There's something pathological about much of the media's overstatement of public opposition to regulations on gun ownership. Here's Chris Matthews moments ago:
"You take a pro-gun control position in PA statewide, and you're finished. Arlen Specter can't take it. Bobby Casey can't take it. Ed Rendell can't."
And here's reality: A 2006 survey in which Ed Rendell indicated his support for requiring "background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows." He also indicated his desire to "Maintain and strengthen the enforcement of existing state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns." And he did not indicate support for easing or repealing restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns, or allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Then, of course, there's the fact that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama - all of whom support various gun regulations - have won Pennsylvania in the last five presidential elections.
I guess what I'm getting at is that Chris Matthews doesn't have any idea what he's talking about. None.
Journalists like Matthews often conflate the public's belief that people generally have a right to own guns with opposition to any regulation of the ownership and sale of guns, or of when and where they can be carried. That's nonsense. And they overstate the intensity of the purported opposition to gun regulations, treating the topic as a "third rail" in places like Pennsylvania. It isn't - as Rendell, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama have shown.
The right-wing blog crows that Obama was "booed" (!) when he threw out the first pitch of MLB's All-Star game last night. That he got embarrassed on national television:
It's going to be a rough 4 years. He's only been in office 5 months and he's already getting booed.
In fact, when you watch the clip, Obama was cheered uproariously for nearly an entire minute. The feint whisper of a boo bird or two? Perhaps. But only a determined Obama-hater would make those distant rumbles the headline. Honestly, right-ring bloggers are taking this living-in-a-parallel-universe thing to whole new heights.
UPDATED: More from Gateway Pundit:
UPDATE 2: Even Yahoo had to admit Obama was booed...
Actually, here's what Yahoo reported [emphasis added]:
Though Obama was roundly cheered by the All-Star fans, his live presence still didn't attract the applause that George W. Bush did during a taped announcement by the four previous Presidents before the game and some boos could even be heard among the cheers.
UPDATED: FYI, from ESPN.com's report:
Wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, jeans and sneakers, and cheered by the sellout crowd, Obama walked out of the NL's dugout on the first-base side, shook hands with Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial and trotted to the mound.
UPDATED: Aside from declaring a quasi-national holiday over the fact that Obama was roundly booed in St. Louis (shhh, let them dream), right-wingers like Andrew McCarthy are also feasting on the fact that Obama's ceremonial first pitch may have bounced before it reached home plate.
UPDATED: Power Line insists the "weird camera angle" used last night to broadcast Obama's ceremonial first pitch was some sort of media conspiracy in order to prevent viewers from seeing the president's weak toss.
Folks, I cannot make this stuff up.
Here's the AP headline:
Sotomayor refuses to renounce 'wise Latina' words
And here's the lede:
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor declined Wednesday to renounce her comment that a "wise Latina" woman might make a better ruling than a white man without the same life experiences.
Wasn't the news hook from yesterday's hearing that Sotomayor had distanced herself from the "wise Latina" quote and said she'd misspoke?
But here's how the AP reported today's exchange [emphasis added]:
She was answering questions at her confirmation hearing from Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a former state judge and attorney general who said he was troubled by conflicting images he had of the nominee — one from her speeches and writings and another, more moderate snapshot, from her bench rulings.
"I need your help reconciling those two pictures," Cornyn told Sotomayor.
Sotomayor told Cornyn that "my words failed" because they have been taken by many to suggest she believes she'd be a superior judge because of her personal profile and life experiences.
But she also said that "I stand by the words."
Here's the actual exchange with Cornyn in which it's blindingly obvious that when Sotomayor said she "stands by the words," she was referring to yesterday's testimony in which she walked back her "wise Latina" quote. In other words, the AP got the story exactly backwards:
CORNYN: Do you stand by your words of yesterday when you said it was a failed rhetorical flourish that fell flat, that they were words that don't make sense, that they were a bad idea?
SOTOMAYOR: I stand by the words. It fell flat.
We await the AP correction.
UPDATED: No formal correction, but AP cleaned up its flawed Sotomayor article. It now states the obvious that she "acknowledged Wednesday that her 'wise Latina' remarks had stirred controversy and conceded that they'd been taken the wrong way by some."
From a July 15 NewsBusters.org entry:
Fascinating article by South Carolina's The State about the behind-the-scenes media jockeying that was going on when the buzz began to build in late June that the state's governor, Mark Sanford, could not be located.
This was before his infamous press conference when Sanford admitted to an extramarital affair and before it was learned that Sanford had used taxpayer money to travel to meet his girlfriend. At the time, it was just a weird story about a governor who disappeared and whose staff could not find him.
Here's The State:
National media blitzed Gov. Mark Sanford's staff, offering big ratings and, possibly, a sympathetic venue in an effort to land the first interview with the governor after his six-day trip to Argentina.
In addition, a blogger and state leaders reached out to Sanford's office to try to coordinate a way to "push back" on the growing mystery surrounding Sanford's absence.
The behind-the-scenes maneuvering is detailed in e-mails released by the governor's office this week in response to The State's request under the freedom of information act.
Not surprisingly, conservative media outlets such as the Washington Times, the WSJ, and Fox News were angling for some friendly face time with the gov., and emailing his flak, Joel Sawyer. They seemed to suggest that Sanford was getting a bum rap in the press.
But note this passage [emphasis added]:
ABC News White House reporter Jake Tapper e-mailed Sawyer twice on June 23, both to note coverage of competitor NBC.
With a subject line of "NBC spot was slimy," Tapper e-mailed Sawyer a "Today" show transcript of Sanford coverage, calling it "insulting." Later, Tapper forwarded Sawyer a Twitter post by "Meet The Press" host David Gregory.
Jeff Schneider, a vice president at ABC News, said Tapper was "carrying some water for producers who knew he had a relationship with the governor's office."
UPDATED: Tapper responds to Politico's Michael Calderone.
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza offers a scorecard of "winners and losers" from yesterday's Sotomayor hearings.
His second "winner"? Lindsey Graham, who Cillizza says "was the Republican senator best able to rile Sotomayor" and "managed to unsettle Sotomayor." Cillizza provided no evidence to support that assertion. Nor did he mention that Graham asked Sotomayor if she has a temperament problem - a question that was rather odd coming at the end of a day in which she had answered a barrage of often hostile questions without losing her composure.
Cillizza wrote that Graham's "low-key delivery" proved that he is "one of the best questioners/smart legal minds in the Senate" -- but even Chris Matthews found Graham's questioning condescending. When even Chris Matthews thinks someone is being condescending to a woman, there's a problem.
Even more odd, Cillizza couldn't think of a single Republican to list under the day's "losers." Not, say, Jeff Sessions, the Senator whose own judicial nomination was derailed amid charges of racism - and who suggested that Sonia Sotomayor should have ruled the way Judge Cabranes did because he is also "of Puerto Rican ancestry." Not only that, Sessions blundered into a Marshall McLuhan moment - something that just doesn't happen in real life.
No, Cillizza's "losers" were President Obama and Democrat Herb Kohl - not because Kohl did anything wrong, but because the cable channels didn't cover him.
When Chris Matthews appeared on MSNBC yesterday evening to discuss the day's Supreme Court nomination hearings, he seemed to portray Sonia Sotomayor as a child chastened about her (badly distorted) "wise Latina" comments. This morning, Matthews picked up where he left off, further infantilizing Sotomayor:
A calm Judge Sotomayor spent yesterday fending off attempts by Republicans to portray her as someone guided by her personal prejudice -- prejudices -- and even suggested, some of them did, that it was her hot temperament they were worried about. Well, the nominee backed off her comment that a wise Latina would come to a better conclusion than a white man, calling that a mistake. In fact, she used the word "bad," about the words she used, which is certainly strange in an adult conversation.
Is Matthews really prepared to argue that the word "bad" is "strange in an adult conversation"?
I know that in law school they teach aspiring litigants never to ask a question in court that you don't know the answer to, but my LSATs were awful so I'll go ahead anyway. This obsessive (and dreadful) coverage of the "Latina woman" comment got me wondering, if, in recent American history, a nominated Supreme Court justice has ever been subjected to such extraordinary scrutiny for something he/she said about the law* outside of the courtroom?
Seems to me these mini-nomination dramas have always been about what the nominated judge has said or written inside the courtroom. That it was the nominee's legal rendering that were put under the microscope and dubbed to be fair game for politicians and the press to go over endlessly.
But the "Latina woman" quote, which is virtually the only line of drama the press can find to hype anymore, was taken from a campus speech eight years ago. Just thinking back to the two most recent confirmation hearings, did Justices Roberts or Alito have to spend an inordinate amount of time answer to speeches they gave, or were they questioned intently about their legal writings?
To me, the AP was way off base when it claimed [emphasis added]:
Sotomayor's public comments are as much a part of the hearings as her lengthy judicial record.
In terms of the hearings, and especially the press coverage, Sotomayor's public comments are the story. Period. And why doesn't the AP try to explain why that's the case? The AP, like the rest of the press covering the hearings, has simply embraced this new idea that public comments are now the center of Supreme Court confirmations.
Again, I don't know the answer for sure, but my hunch is that a speech given outside the courtroom has never played this kind of central role in a nomination hearing in recent memory; not the way the "Latina woman" speech has dominated the news this week. (And for the last month.)
For instance, as Jamison has noted, during the Samuel Alito hearing, there was a minor interest over the fact that, in a job application for the Reagan administration, the nominee had once touted the fact that he'd been a member of an exclusive club at Princeton that tried the limit the number of minorities admitted on campus. So yes, that was non-legal work and it did come up. But in no way did those references at Alito's hearing match the onslaught of "Latina woman" attention.
So, if I'm right, my second point is why has the press embraced this new standard for the first Hispanic woman ever nominated for the highest court in the land? Why has the press decided that what Sotomayor has decided and written from the bench is of relatively little interest, but a campus speech relentlessly hyped by the GOP suddenly passes the threshold for nomination news?
Why has the press adopted a whole new standard for Sotomayor?
*Obviously, the Clarence Thomas nomination hearing ended up focusing a lot of things that were said and done outside the courtroom. But that controversy had little to do with what Thomas said about the law outside the courtroom, and more to do with Thomas' alleged personal misbehavior.
The Note's supposed to be a morning tip sheet that tells the Beltway's CW crowd which Beltway reporters that day are regurgitating the Beltway CW. (That's considered a good thing.) The Note routinely leans on conservative media sources for daily insights, and rarely links to openly liberal or progressive sites because they're not part of The Village.
Sometimes though, the Note doesn't even bother with linking to articles or columns. Instead, The Note simply reprints emails from GOP sources. (Why mess around with CW middlemen, right?)
Like the Note did today:
From a senior Republican strategist: "Do Democrats really want to engage on this? . . .
1. The Obama administration is doing this now in Pakistan through drones (and hopefully are pursuing al Qaeda anywhere they are) . . . 2. I think most people in most Congressional districts want the administration to kill terrorists. . . . 3.Dems prove that they leak classified information and it probably wasn't a bad idea not to share with them and tip off those al Qaeda leaders."
The Note wanted to make sure readers knew exactly why the Obama administration was wrong to press the CIA about possible law-breaking activities (that's the dominant CW, btw), and who better for The Note to quote, unfiltered, than a Republican political consultant?