Let's play the game of what if.
What if, in April of 2001, NBC News took the extraordinary step of announcing that it was refusing to broadcast a primetime press conference held by the new President Bush. That NBC, and NBC alone, had decided it would rather broadcast a regularly scheduled television drama instead of providing a public service by broadcasting the president.
What if NBC pulled that kind of stunt? Do you think the next day's New York Times headline would read like a NBC press release:
NBC Will Limit Obama Event to Cable
And do you think the Times' 2001 report would have sanguinely noted that NBC would direct viewers to its cable outlet, MSNBC, to watch the press? And do you think the Times 200-word dispatch would have left out any mention of the politics involved and whether critics were accusing the TV outlet of displaying bias by picking entertaining over the Oval Office? Would the Times article also have left out any historical context in terms of when the last time an American television network refused to grant the WH air time for a press conference?
I wonder, because that's pretty much has transpired in the wake of Fox's startling decision to snub the Obama White House. Here's today's Fox-friendly Times dispatch.
It's well know within the TV industry that Fox flaks play an extraordinary brand of hardball with beat reporters who are assigned to cover it and need access to Fox execs to do their jobs. It's days like today when that hardball seems to pay off.
Their U.S.-based correspondents appear to make stuff up. Or at the very least, they fail to back up the central assertions of their news reports. Like this suspect Times UK headline that Drudge is currently hyping:
Americans told to wear masks as swine flu spreads round globe
Here's the reporting, in its entirety, that the Times used to make that rather startling claim:
North of the border, in the US, doctors were advising people worried about the illness to buy painters' masks from DIY stores as a precautionary measure.
Terry Krepel, a senior web editor at Media Matters and founder and editor of ConWebWatch, has a great piece up at Huffington Post about how the Washington Examiner is driven by its right-wing tilt.
Here's just a taste:
In early February, Washington Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith gushed over his new chief political correspondent, Byron York, calling him "a prototype of the modern journalist, equally at home in print, on television and on the Web."
One word not uttered by Smith, however, was "conservative" -- as in the political orientation of York's former employer, the National Review. Indeed, York has regularly peddled conservative misinformation from his National Review perch.
York is one of the latest manifestations of the rightward skew of the Examiner, a free tabloid daily created four years ago when conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz took over a chain of suburban papers and refashioned them after the publication he owns in San Francisco -- an interesting move since Anschutz himself hasn't talked to the media in decades.
The Examiner has had a conservative skew from its inception, as exemplified by its early hiring of Bill Sammon, a former Washington Times staffer who penned several books laudatory of George W. Bush and his presidency even while serving as a White House correspondent. Sammon moved last year to Fox News, but he left no ideological vacuum behind.
Ostensible "news" positions at the Examiner have become increasingly stocked with opinion-minded right-wingers -- for instance, Matthew Sheffield, executive editor of the conservative blog NewsBusters, is managing editor of the Examiner's website, and Chris Stirewalt, who has been lauded for his "outspoken conservative perspective," is political editor.
Be sure to check out the entire piece.
Howard Kurtz on Perez Hilton's response to Carrie Prejean's gay marriage comments:
KURTZ: Perez told me that her answer was not inclusive because it alienated gay Americans. But by that reasoning, had she said she supported gay marriage, she would have alienated those who believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.
So, Howard Kurtz thinks that alienating gays by denying them the right to get married is equivalent to alienating bigots by allowing gays to get married?
Seems like maybe there's a bit of difference between those two things.
It's in an article about soft ratings for CNN under the Obama administration. The Times contrasts that lack of success with MSNBC and Fox News, which the newspaper claims, have carved out winning formulas by being more partisan:
The development raises an obvious question: With its rivals stoking prime time with high-octane political opinion and rant, can CNN compete effectively with a formula of news delivered more or less straight?
See, both MSNBC and Fox News are airing rants during primetime. They're like left-right mirror reflections. They're just like each other.
This is a common ploy adopted by the mainstream media in order to play dumb about the radical, unprecedented rhetoric that Fox News has been broadcasting since Obama's inauguration; that he's a radical, a socialist, a fascist. That tyranny looms and the government wants to confiscate all the guns.
How on earth does anything that MSNBC has aired in the last three months come anywhere near matching that kind of militia media rhetoric broadcast by Fox News? It doesn't because we've never seen anything like what Fox News now peddles aired on American television before. But there's today's Times, casually claiming that MSNBC and Fox News are exactly alike.
Tucker Carlson, in a Washington Post online discussion today: "I don't think it's a choice between the tax current system, which isn't simply progressive but wildly skewed against the rich, and Mexican plutocracy. As of today, before Obama's tax increases on the upper income, the top one-percent of earners pay about as much in income taxes as the bottom 90 percent of earners. So next time you see a rich person, thank him for keeping the country afloat."
Now, the Washington Post lets Carlson say pretty much anything he wants in these things, so he didn't have to support his claim that the current tax system is "wildly skewed against the rich," which is a good thing for him, because he can't*.
According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the top one percent pay 30.9 percent of their income in federal, state, and local taxes. The remaining 99 percent pay 29.8 percent of their income in taxes. The top one percent actually pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than the next 20 percent.
That doesn't sound like a system that "isn't simply progressive but wildly skewed against the rich," does it? In fact, it sounds more like a system that isn't progressive at all.
* No, Carlson's statement that "the top one-percent of earners pay about as much in income taxes as the bottom 90 percent of earners" does not support his contention that the tax system is "wildly skewed against the rich," for several reasons. First, it considers only federal income taxes. More importantly, looking at the amount of taxes paid without looking at the amount of income earned is worse than useless; it is deliberately misleading. It's like going out to dinner with a friend and ordering the Surf & Turf, then lashing out at your friend who ordered only the house salad because she wants you to pay 90 percent of the bill. Whenever anyone tells you the richest X percent of Americans pay Y percent of taxes, stop taking them seriously right there: they're trying to trick you.