The good news about Medved's opinion piece in the USA Today, was that it called out the talk radio genre for its growing irrelevance. A GOP talker himself, Medved was quite straight forward:
But if the new president [Obama] makes credible efforts to govern from the center, then talk radio can't afford long-term marginalization as a sulking, sniping, angry irrelevancy. It makes no sense to react with pre-emptive rage (and an odd obsession over Obama's birth certificate) to a president-elect who has remained pointedly vague on policy.
The bad news was Medved kept peddling this notion that right-wing radio hit its nadir--the "Golden Age"-during the Clinton years and that GOP radio played a crucial, deeply important role in the political life of America during the 1990's:
With no Republican power base in the federal bureaucracy, dispirited conservatives turned to talk radio as a sort of government in exile. Deploying wit, passion and ferocious focus, Rush (and his many followers and imitators) rallied GOP loyalists to fight back against the Clinton agenda, from gays in the military to Hillary's health care scheme. Within two years, Republicans came roaring back to capture GOP control of both houses of Congress and pointedly acknowledged the role of radio - naming Rush the "Majority Maker" and making him an honorary member of their caucus.
Technically, that's all true. But Medved is talking about a period that ran from approximately June 1993 to November 1994; 16 months. The question is what did right-wing radio do the rest of decade? How did right-wing radio defeat the Clintons? How did it "change minds," as Medved claimed? Answer: It didn't. Bill Clinton won re-election with ease and left office as the most popular president in modern history.
The irony is that Medved is urging talk radio today not to become half-cocked in its pursuit of Obama--not to become unhinged--or it'll end up irrelevant. But wasn't that what right-wing radio did from, say 1995 to 2000?
It's hard to laugh when you see the Beltway press, yet again, type up stories about how Bush is set for a job approval ratings comeback. Like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, the Beltway press has been sure--just positive--that Bush is gonna rebound any minute now. And hey, if it happens as Bush boards Air Forces one for the last time, than the press wants to make sure it's there to capture the magic.
Believe it or not, two Times writers online recently set aside space to alert readers how Bush's job approval ratings are bound to go up between now and January. i.e. "Bush may well be buffing up those numbers before he departs for Texas." The news hook was a report from Gallup which noted lame duck presidents have often enjoyed a modest gain in approval rating during their last two months in office. And because, according to Gallup, Bush's God-awful approval ratings have gone from 24% to 28% recently, the Times suggested Bush was in line for a boost.
Two things. The LA Times' analysis completely ignored the fact that America the just entered the Great Recession and that might, just might, stand in the way of Bush's big bounce. (Jobless people tend to dislike the president.) And second, the Times writers remained mostly blissfully unaware that Bush is the most consistently unpopular president in the history of 20th century polling. Oh sure, they make passing reference to his unpopularity. But the Times makes no effort to highlight the fact that Bush remains an absolute freak of job approval nature.
It's true that Harry Truman and Richard Nixon dropped down into the 20's in terms of job approval ratings. But Truman's was a quick dip and then he was back to the races. Nixon's fall, of course, came courtesy of a sweeping criminal enterprise he was running out of the White House. No president in the history of modern America has ever come close to posting the type of unimaginably bad job approval ratings, and do it for as long as Bush has.
But hey, he's due for a comeback!
Meanwhile, here's the Times Andrew Malcolm writing about Bush: "His popularity has jumped to 28%. Still not that great." I'm almost certain Malcolm, who once worked as Laura Bush's flack, was not being facetious. He was being serious. He was serious that Bush had jumped to 28%. And he was serious that no, 28% is "still not that great."
The real punchline came in the form of headline to Malcom's post post [emphasis added]: "With only 46 days left, Americans start re-liking George W. Bush."
As Atrios explained years ago, the press can report whatever it wants about the Clintons--it can bend or ignore whatever journalism standards are necessary--and it's all good.
We thought of that simple truth while reading this NYT piece about a speech Bill Clinton gave in Malaysia. Headlined: "Bill Clinton Speech in Malaysia Irks Investors." Uh-oh, sounds like Bill's in deep water again. When will he learn? See, everybody was right to worry about the "baggage" he'd bring when Hillary became SoS. At least that was the vibe of the article.
Here are the nuts and bolts:
Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.
"You should be proud of this man," Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.
But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president's glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.
The key is that last sentence: Some investors don't think Sekhar's a great guy because his company has suffered a rough few weeks. The Times then notes recent action taken by disgruntled investors and the Times quotes several saying all sorts of disparaging things about Sekhar. Got it?
Okay, now let's take a step back and look at the logic the Times used in order to decide this was a newsworthy event which required the time and reporting of three separate reporters, and let's try to figure out if under any possible terms the Times would have suggested a similar situation involving another speaker was newsworthy. Because obviously, there are scores of former Beltway big shots who travel the globe pocketing big checks for speaking fees. Off the top of my head I'll throw out the random names of Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and Henry Kissinger.
Now, if any of them accepted a speaking gig from a man whose company had unhappy investors, who thinks the Times would write up a story suggesting that Gingrich, Rove or Kissinger were the news story? I suspect none because it defies logic to think a paid speaker is somehow responsible for external investors complaints.
And let's face it, this article has nothing to do with concerns about Hillary being SoS and Clinton raising international funds for his Foundation. There's not even a whiff of that here. The entire premise of the article is that Clinton accepted a speaking engagement from a man who runs a company and whose company has some unhappy investors. The news angle literally makes no sense and represents a completely novel way to cover paid speakers.
But hey, those are the Clinton Rules.
Like Glenn Greenwald, whose work this week forced Sen. Dianne Feinstein to clarify her views on interrogation. But according to the Times, it was "some [nameless] bloggers" who forced Feinstein's hand.
This kind of media treatment of the liberal bloggers has become utterly predictable as the traditional press again and again refuses to spell out the often eye-opening public policy work being done by liberal bloggers. And when the press does concede their impact, it's done with vague references to "some bloggers."
O'Reilly sent his producer to ambush the writer outside his NYC home because the Fox News crew claimed Hertzberg took comments Newt Gingrich made about gays and used them out of context. The comments were first highlighted by MMA, and here's what Hertzberg's wrote.
The key to O'Reilly's otherwise soggy non-story may be the fact that the host claimed on-air that Hertzberg had refused to appear on the show to discuss the matter. "That's an outright lie," Hertzberg told the Politico's Michael Calderone. When Calderone contacted Fox News to find out when exactly O'Reilly had invited Hertzberg to appear on the show, the Fox flack did not respond.
That would be Barack Obama. Although, amazingly, McCain, who lost by nearly 200 electoral votes, actually ran up better coverage at Fox News as compared to the landslide winner. That's the conclusion from a TV news study re: campaign coverage, released this week by Center for Media and Public Affairs.
We're sure conservatives will use the study advance their claim that the media were in the tank for Obama. But honestly, the idea that McCain, who even some prominent Republicans conceded ran an awful campaign, would benefit from lots of "positive" coverage down the stretch seems absurd. CMPA wasn't doing studies back then, but does anybody think Jimmy Carter got great press during the run-up to his blow-out loss in 1980?
Add in the fact that so much of today's so-called campaign coverage is really just race-horse chatter that revolves around which team is up and which team is down, of course the candidate that was waaaaay up got better press.
The CMPA report announced:
On the network newscasts, the Democratic ticket received 91% positive comments about their standing and prospects in the horse race, compared to only 31% positive comments about the Republicans - a margin of 60 percentage points.
Can it get any more obvious? The candidate with the better standing in the polls got more "positive" coverage regarding "prospects in the horse race."
That's why studies like this remain so suspect, especially when analyzing a campaign that was as lopsided as Obama-McCain.
Because during the Great Recession, what's more pressing than the War on Christmas, right? See Dave David Neiwert at Crooks and Liars.
Either the MSNBC host is going to run for the senate, or he and his agent are engaged in the most bizarre type of contract negotiations ever witnessed. (i.e. Give me a new contract or I'll run for the elected office!)
If Matthews does decide to pack up his belongs (including his three Mercedes) and move to PA. (he'll still vacation on Nantucket, of course), we hope the press doesn't play dumb about the Hardball host. Sadly, in an article about how Matthews' public utterance and appearances on cable TV could haunt him in the political arena, The Hill already is. (The Hill actually suggests Matthews' ill-advised dancing on Ellen represents one of his biggest hurdles.)
The Hill notes that Matthews has taken heat for his treatment of women politicians, and especially one particular Democratic woman, over the years. Here's how The Hill addressed the issue of Matthews and sexism, and where The Hill dutifully played dumb:
And besides the made-for-TV moments, Matthews has given several noteworthy print interviews, including his participation in an 8,100-word New York Times magazine profile.
The piece noted bloggers have accused Matthews of being sexist, pointing to a YouTube video of him ogling CNBC host Erin Burnett.
Matthews vigorously defended himself to the Times, saying: "I don't think there's any evidence of that at all. I've gone back and looked. Give me the evidence. No one can give it to me. I went through all my stuff. I can't find it."
This is pretty much the Beltway sanctioned CW on Matthews: If the Hardball host has a problem with women it's that he likes them too much and sometimes he leers at them, the way he did with Burnett. That may be the sanitized media script, but it's not the truth and I don't think it will stand up to the scrutiny of any campaign. The truth is Matthews is a misogynist and has advertised that fact for year, whether The Hill or the rest of the polite Beltway press wants to acknowledge that is another question.
If Matthews runs for the senate as a Democrat, than we're pretty sure at some point he'll have to address his history of women-bashing as viewed through the lens of his relentlessly negative, personal and irrational attacks on Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful Democrats in the country. The way he:
-Featured a Photoshopped image of Clinton sporting "She Devil" horns while discussing Republican efforts to demonize her;
-Repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," the scheming, heartless character from the mental hospital drama One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest;
-Reported that the only reason Hillary Clinton was elected to represent New York in the senate was because he husband "messed around";
-Suggested U.S. soldiers would not follows the orders of a woman president;
-Claimed that "some men" say Clinton's voice sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard."
We might not know as much about politics as The Hill, but we think that that library of TV utterances is going to be more problematic for Matthews, especially among female Democratic voters in PA., than his YouTube clip 'dancing' on Ellen.
Number of jobs lost in November: 533,000
Number of jobs lost in November as predicted by "analysts polled by Reuters": 340,000
It's their job to predict job losses and analysts weren't even in the ballpark? Seems like the mainstream press, including Reuters, needs to expand its roster of trusted/acceptable sources as they cover the Great Recession. The media's beloved financial "analysts," the same CW crew that journalists have depended on for years, and who warned of a "mild recession," no longer seem to have a clue.