Here's the cartoon from today's paper:
Notes Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:
At its most benign, the cartoon suggests that the stimulus bill was so bad, monkeys may as well have written it. Most provocatively, it compares the president to a rabid chimp. Either way, the incorporation of violence and (on a darker level) race into politics is bound to be controversial.
A couple weeks ago ABC News shanked one badly when it concocted the phony premise that it was somehow hypocritical of Obama to criticize executive pay on Wall Street (which often reaches into the tens of millions of dollars annually) because he made a lot of money as POTUS (i.e. $400,000). ABC News somehow saw a connection between the two sets of salaries.
Now ABC's Jonathan Karl returns with a similarly harebrained premise, which is this: Some members of Congress recently criticized CEOs for their use of corporate jets, but Congressmen are sometimes flown overseas for free by the Air Force while conducting official government business.
Period. That's it. Although ABC News treats it as a very big deal. Here's the unintentionally humorous headline, "Congress Travels Free on Taxpayers' Dime."
Honestly, does that come as news to anyone in America? Do voters actually think that Congressmen, and their wives, pay their own airfare and fly commercial flights when they're part of a Congressional delegation visiting, for instance, Afghanistan or Iraq or even Europe? I mean really, how dumb does ABC News think Americans are?
The sheer stupidity of the report is just jaw-dropping, though. Here's an example:
Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., has taken four taxpayer-financed trips to nine countries over the past four years, despite criticizing corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts.
Follow? Ackerman has taken four trips in four years (as a reader you're supposed to be outraged), even though Ackerman has criticized "corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts."
But what's the connection? In an extraordinary move, CEO's of private companies recently turned to the federal government for billions in bailout assistance and caught flak for using corporate jets to fly to D.C. Ackerman though, is a Congressman paid by the government and approximately once a year takes government-paid flights overseas to represent the United States, just as Congressmen have done for decades.
How on earth are those two set of facts even remotely connected? And why did Karl embarrass himself by pretending he couldn't tell the obvious differences between the two?
P.S. Note that ABC reports the airfare practice is bipartisan, but for some reason only Democrats get mentioned by name in the report.
Richard Norton Smith, discussing Obama in Time:
I think there is a fundamental disconnect between much of the media — with its breathless and impatient coverage — and most people out there. Most people are more patient and sophisticated, and appreciate that our problems have developed over a long period of time. They're realistic enough to understand that they are not going to disappear overnight.
Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker's on the case, contacting both Will and his WashPost boss, Fed Hiatt, editor of the Post's Op-Ed page, trying to find out if and when the Post is going to correct central factual errors found in Will's most recent anti-global warming column.
Will's assistant told us that Will might get back to us later in the day to talk about the column. And Hiatt said he was too busy to talk about it just then, but that he'd try to respond to emailed questions. So we emailed him yesterday's post, with several questions about the editing process, then followed up with another email late yesterday afternoon.
But still nothing from either of them, over twenty-four hours after the first contact was made. Nor has the online version of Will's column been updated, even to reflect the fact that the ACRC has utterly disavowed the claim Will attributes to it.
We're hearing that the Post's editing process for opinion pieces is virtually non-existent. Maybe that makes sense in some cases -- it certainly seems reasonable to give most columnists a freer hand than straight news reporters get. But it's difficult to know for sure when the Post won't talk about it. And that approach sure didn't serve the paper well here.
Check out this amazing piece over at TheWonkRoom which identifies the cast of characters used by Marc Marano, communications director to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), to push climate change skepticism.
Marc Morano, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)'s environmental aide, sits at the center of the right-wing global warming denier propaganda machine — of fifty-two people. Conservative columnist Fred Barnes recently refused to tell TPM Muckraker who's informed him "the case for global warming" is falling apart, but all signs point to Marc Morano. Morano's "entire job," Gristmill's David Roberts explains, "is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts" to the right-wing echo chamber. The Wonk Room has acquired Morano's email list, and we can now reveal the pack of climate skeptics, conservative bloggers, and corporate hacks who feed the misinformation machine.
Promoted on the Drudge Report and Fox News, Morano's moronic misinformation enters mainstream discourse through columns by Barnes, George Will, Robert Samuelson, and others. Many in the Morano gang are funded by right-wing think tanks, though a few are committed activists, conspiracy theorists who believe their homebrew interpretations of climate data. Others are aging scientists with strong conservative beliefs, motivating them to challenge action on global warming not because they disbelieve its existence, but because they are ideologically opposed to regulation of pollution.
Check out Marano's full list here.
You may recall our recent posts on Fred Barnes' super-secret climate change source and George Will's refusal to correct his recent wacky climate change denial column.
Just the messenger. According to ProgressNowColorado:
That's noted right-wing shill Michelle Malkin posing with who we've dubbed "Swastika Guy," owing to the sign he carried right onto the stage with State Senator Josh Penry, Congressman Mike Coffman, Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams, State Senator Dave Schultheis, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, among others. None of whom did anything about it, and in fact one person defended the guy to one of our people saying that the swastika is not a Nazi symbol, but an honored Native American symbol.
UPDATE: Ohhhh, wait a minute. I get it. The man with the sign isn't professing his affinity for Nazis. He isn't even identifying himself as a Nazi. The swastika in question has a circle around it forming an O and the rest of the sign reads "BAMA". Get it? Obama is a Nazi. That's much better. Sigh.
As Media Matters noted back in 2005, Glenn Beck has professed his hatred for the "9/11 victims' families" which is perhaps what caught the attention of ThinkProgress during a recent broadcast of Beck's new Fox News show:
Yesterday on his Fox News television show, Glenn Beck professed his deep concern for Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow who died in Thursday night's plane crash in Buffalo. "After the attacks, she became a vocal activist for families of 9/11 victims," Beck said in praising Eckert. "She pushed for the 9/11 Commission. She demanded answers from the government, and helped win the passage of the Intelligence Reform law." David Neiwert recalls Beck's earlier screed against the families of 9/11 victims:
"You know, it took me about a year to start hating the 9/11 victims' families. It took me about a year. Um, and I had such compassion for them and I really, you know, I wanted to help them, and I was behind — let's give them money, let's get them started, and all of this stuff. And I really didn't — all the 3,000 victims' families, I don't hate all of them, I hate about, probably about ten of them. But when I see 9/11 victim family, you know, on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh, shut up.' I'm so sick of them. Because they're always complaining. And we did our best for them. And again, it's only about ten."
Remember how during the stimulus debate, the media kept insisting that Republicans had "taken control of the debate," were "driving the message" and all those other phrases journalists love to use in order to pretend that something is happening other than the media deciding to pay more attention to the GOP's arguments? How we kept hearing that congressional Republicans got their groove back by effectively painting the Democrats as big-spending coastal liberals?
Well, earlier today, Politico's Glenn Thrush noted a new Gallup poll that he thought showed that approval of congressional Democrats had spiked, while approval of Republicans had dropped. Turns out, Thrush misread the poll; it didn't measure approval of the two parties.
But it led me to wonder what the public does think of the two parties' congressional leaders. Is all that noise we've been hearing about Republicans having The Big Mo legitimate, or is it another case of the media being badly out of touch with the American people?
If you guessed "out of touch" -- and, really, why wouldn't you? -- you nailed it.
CNN conducted a poll just a little more than a week ago that found 60 percent approval for Democratic leaders in congress, and 39 percent disapproval, for a net of +21 points. Republican leaders in congress, however, had won the approval of 44 percent of the public, while 55 percent disapproved, for a net of -11 points.
That's a 32 point gap between the net approval for the Dems & the GOP. That's huge.
But the Republicans have produced a web video featuring a 32-year-old Aerosmith song, so get ready for several days of cable news pretending the GOP is, indeed, "back in the saddle again."
Aaron Keyak of the National Jewish Democratic Council assails the Washington Times for invoking Nazism in an editorial critical of health care provisions in President Obama's economic recovery plan.
At Huffington Post, Keyak writes in part:
Last week, The Washington Times ridiculously wrote of the "Nazi version of efficiency" when criticizing health care provisions in the stimulus plan. The use of this example is not only inaccurate, but it is insensitive and clearly beyond the pale of even the most partisan critiques of the stimulus bill. The Times is free to voice its thoughts on its Editorial page, but attacking the stimulus plan by printing a photo of Adolf Hitler and invoking comparisons to Nazi policies is offensive and not befitting of any newspaper with at least a modicum of respectability.
UPDATE: The JTA is up with a post: Can we stop with the Nazi analogies?
OpenLeft's Paul Rosenberg takes a look at the evolving battle lines between old and new media using HuffPo's Sam Stein and his White House presser question as a jumping off point to discuss the unfounded assumption that old media reporting is somehow inherently superior:
It's routinely argued that old media--particularly newspapers--are superior, because they do "original reporting" while bloggers are merely parasitical on what newspapers reporters do. Of course, this is very often the case, just as most opinion columns are parasitical on newspaper reporters, too.
But it's not necessarily the case, and it's likely to be less and less the case as time goes by. With the vast online publication of information from primary sources, government, scientific and professional reports and the like, the value of traditional journalists largely revolves around their ability to see the same things that anyone online can see, and then to ask the right questions to penetrate beyond what was originally presented. And this is precisely where they routinely fail, not just falling short, but often amplifying the very lies and distortions they should be stripping away.
Rosenberg goes on to make his point by noting Media Matters' recent research item on the AP comparing President Obama's hiring of progressives at the DOJ to the Bush administration's alleged illegal hiring practices:
Indeed, the Bush politicization of the DOJ goes far beyond simply politicizing the process of hiring career staff using political criteria. The whole point of hiring conservative Republicans was not simply to give them cushy jobs they weren't qualified for (although some possible were qualified, but those didn't need their help). No, their purpose was to use the DOJ as a political weapon to attack, and attempt to destroy, the Democratic Party. This is how a whole range of improper and illegal practices all tied together. So MMFA is merely focusing on the most minimal aspects of what's required for accurate reporting here.
In it's critique of the AP story, MMFA relied entirely on the July 28, 2008 DOJ report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General." (PDF) In the natural course of standard journalistic practice, this is the sort of crucial document that a beat reporter would have read. That's precisely the sort of intimate understanding that reporters are supposed to bring to their jobs, which the rest of us are supposed to lack. MMFA did not "engage in reporting" according to the standard narrative. They were "just blogging."
And yet, MMFA managed to unearth and highlight the most fundamental distinction between political appointees and career attorneys (something every beat reporter ought to know like the back of their hand), and present it using compelling quotes from an unimpeachable authoritative source.
In short, although MMFA was "just blogging" while AP was doing "real reporting", it was MMFA that produced a sound journalistic product while AP did not.