At this point the Times has so mangled the facts of the story I seriously doubt anyone at the paper even pretends they matter.
Here's today's installment of misinformation [emphasis added]:
House Republicans demanded Wednesday that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano detail how the controversial "right-wing extremism" report was compiled, using a rare legislative maneuver that ensures that the Democrats must take a public stand - one way or another.
The request asks Ms. Napolitano to release information on how the report was compiled. The report sparked a furor from conservatives included in the definition of "right-wing extremism" and prompted Ms. Napolitano to apologize to the nation's veterans.
False. In fact, it's the exact opposite: the report sparked a furor from conservatives who were specifically not included in the definition of "right-wing extremism." That's what made the who pseudo-controversy so odd. The DHS released a report that made passing reference to homegrown, right-wing domestic terrorist (think, skinheads), and mainstream conservatives who were not mentioned in the report jumped up and down and claimed it was about them.
Don't ask us why Republicans saw themselves in a report about violent terrorist groups, but they did. And now to cover up that comfortableness, and to stoke their beloved victimhood status, they claim the report was about picked-upon conservatives, even though it was not. And eagerly spreading the misinformation is the WashTimes.
Then again, isn't that pretty much its job description?
And his editor is proud of it.
The CJR headline pretty much captures what's going on in Murdochville:
Identity Crisis: The Wall Street Journal steers away from what made it great
But hey, at least the Journal's still publishing! And against that industry Armageddon backdrop, the fact that the Journal has gone from a great newspaper to an okay in quick order probably isn't that big a deal.
But what's really depressing is reading the new Journal editor (Robert Thomson, Murdoch's hand-picked Australian successor) brag about how dumb the paper has become. Indeed, Murdoch's team thinks the whole experiment of turning the Journal into the nation's black-and-white USA Today has been a roaring success.
"Certain U.S. newspapers," Thomson says, "have been designed for journalists rather than for readers." With a chuckle, he avoided saying whether he's talking about the Journal, but it was obvious that he was. Journalists, he says, too often choose "self-indulgence over readability. If a reader is used to the Web, he has developed a ruthless functionality in reading—just clicking on what he's interested in." Turning to a newspaper, Thomson says, that reader then "confronts this Neanderthal product. Taking four paragraphs to get to the point is too long. Where is the editorial empathy?"
Basically, Thomson and Murdoch want to the turn the newspaper into a wire service. Good luck with that.
A few weeks ago, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote that "virtually ALL" Republican strategists are "sympathetic to gay rights," and "most members" of the Republican "elite" are actually "pro-gay." Given that virtually all Republican strategists and most members of the Republican elite participate in campaigns that demonize gays and oppose granting them the same rights enjoyed by other Americans, I questioned Ambinder's definition of "pro-gay" at the time. Privately feeling badly about publicly participating in efforts that stigmatize gays and deny them basic rights simply doesn't meet any rational definition of "pro-gay."
Now Ambinder suggests that Republican Congressman Steve King thinks "sexuality shouldn't matter at all." Here's Ambinder:
You don't have to be Rep. Steve King -- who here implies that gay people wouldn't be bashed so long as they don't tell people about their sexual orientation -- to have a vague sense of that sexuality shouldn't matter at all, that sexual orientation should be irrelevant as a way of judging someone for any job, anywhere. Most Americans either live in this mental framework or are moving here.
That's an extraordinarily generous description of Steve King. Steve King certainly doesn't think sexual orientation "shouldn't matter at all." He opposes gay marriage, for example, and worries that Iowa will become a "gay marriage mecca."
MSNBC reads between the lines of a Washington Post report, and comes away with a startling conclusion: White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel - and not the staff who report to him - is in charge:
The Washington Post has the type of story that suggests it may know more than it reported. "The selection of a small and very senior group of administration officials to help manage the nomination is designed, in part, to avoid the kinds of leaks that angered several Cabinet nominees during Obama's transition."
"Running the selection are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, counsel Gregory B. Craig and deputy counsel Cassandra Q. Butts, a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law. Obama has reached out to Republican and Democratic Senate leaders, seeking their recommendations. But the chance that he would veer from his own list, which began taking shape in December, is slim."
Now, infer away... Rahm's in charge... not the lawyers. Discuss.
Of course, it's silly to think there is anything even remotely noteworthy about the White House chief of staff being "in charge" of an effort taking place in the White House, rather than subordinates to the chief of staff being "in charge." But we'll probably see a great deal of faux outrage by conservative media, anyway.
Maybe someday, we'll see a Politico headline like this about Newt Gingrich:
If you thought the state of the conservative blogosphere was in sorry shape at the turn of this year, you aint seen nothing yet. As Obama's approvals continue to rise, and longtime players like Sen. Arlen Specter flee the GOP, the proverbial sound of heads exploding can be heard all across the right-wing blogosphere. (We're looking at you, Erick Erickson.)
The latest 'pop' comes from Pajamas Media. (I thought they went under...) It's from John Hawkins and he recently urged right-wing bloggers to start playing dirty like the Left. That right-wing bloggers needed to abandon their normal lofty, ethical perches (stop laughing!), and really mix it up; like investigate journalists' personal lives and air that dirty laundry. That sort of thing. Because, y'know, right-wing bloggers were so docile and decent during the WH campaign, right?
If I could offer a refresher on that topic, I refer you to Jon Swift's masterful blog post from October 23, 2008, in which he compiled some of the 'greatest hits' from the Rightroots' campaign season:
-During Obama's dark, mysterious years at Columbia, he was involved in domestic terrorist bombings
-Obama didn't actually write Dreams of My Father. In fact, it was ghost-written by none other than Bill Ayers!
-Michelle Obama attacks "American white racists" in an interview with obscure online news site
-Obama had a girlfriend that his wife found out about and forced her to move to the Caribbean
-There is a tape of Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan talking about "whitey"
-Obama was not born in the United States and his birth certificate has been forged
-Barack Obama had an under, gay "affair" with a pedophile
-Obama was getting answers in the first debate through a clear plastic hearing aid in his ear
Over at Americablog, John Aravosis catches Newsweek's Evan Thomas repeating the myth that, unlike President Obama, President Bush "insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties."
Aravosis debunks this nicely, complete with photos of Bush aides in the Oval Office without coats and of Bush making a clown of himself by pretending to search for WMD in the office.
But it's worth adding that myths like this don't just happen. See, reporters like Evan Thomas don't spend all day hanging out with presidents in the Oval Office. The only way for Evan Thomas to "know" that Bush "insisted on respect for the office" is for Bush or his aides to tell Thomas Bush insisted on it. The only way for Thomas to "know" that insistance included wearing coats and ties in the Oval Office is for Bush aides to tell him that.
Which is to say that Evan Thomas can't know that Bush insisted on any such thing. He can only know that Bush aides say he insisted on it. Which means he shouldn't write "Bush insisted," he should write "Bush aides say he insisted."
Well, actually, he should take three lousy minutes to do a Google Image search to find out if those claims are accurate. And, finding that they aren't, he should write "Bush aides claim he insisted on respect for the Oval Office, and that aides wore coats and ties. But, as you can see from the photo to the right, they are lying."
Actually, let's take that one step further: We know that specific Bush aides are lying about this; reporters should name them. Andy Card, for example. Andy Card spent the first few weeks of the Obama administration acting all upset that Obama allows people to go jacketless in the Oval Office. President Bush had too much respect for the office to allow such a thing, Card said.
Andy Card was lying. We know Andy Card was lying because this photo shows Andy Card in the Oval Office, looking right at George Tenet -- and Tenet isn't wearing a jacket:
Now, a photo is not video. Maybe moments after this photo was taken, Bush and Card wrestled Tenet to the ground and put a jacket on him while screaming "YOU WILL RESPECT THE OFFICE." But I kind of doubt it.
So, let's go back to Evan Thomas. Here's what Evan Thomas wrote:
THOMAS: Bush insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties and saluted smartly, metaphorically and literally.
And here's that paragraph, as it would appear if it were journalism rather than GOP spin:
JOURNALISM: Bush aides, like Andrew Card, claim that Bush insisted on respect for the office and required aides to wear coats and ties in the Oval Office. That's a lie, as the following photo of Bush and Card in the Oval Office next to a jacketless George Tenet proves.
See the difference?
Andrew Malcolm, on the photos taken of Air Force One in New York:
According to the N.Y. Post today, those photos have been classified and will not be released by the transparent Obama White House. Not really classified as in "top secret" classified. But classified as in those are going in the file cabinet. Maybe mis-filed with the Obama birth certificate.
I tend to get nervous whenever I find myself agreeing with Mickey Kaus, but his scorn for the Los Angeles Times becomes more understandable with every new blog post from Andrew Malcolm.
Take a look at this "article" Allen "wrote" about Republican pollster Frank Luntz' advice for his party. It consists of nearly 1,000 consecutive words quoted directly from Luntz, with a pro forma introduction by Allen slapped on top. No mention of the fact that Luntz is a hack of a pollster in that introduction, just some happy talk about "Dr. Frank Luntz" and his "bestselling book" that could have come from Luntz himself -- or his publicist.
And what happens when you simply copy and paste from a Republican hack pollster's memo to fellow Republicans about how to defeat health care? You give your readers hundreds of words of pure, undiluted GOP spin and attacks on health care reform, with no fact-checking and no opposing voice.
I'm talking about a new article by Ed Klein (oy) which is a supposed inside look at the drama that unfolded within the Kennedy clan last year as Caroline tried to enter the race for New York senator, while Ted Kennedy's health gave way. The piece is actually an excerpt from Klein's upcoming Kennedy book.
And after reading the VF slice, the only question is, can the entire book be this bad? Sadly, if Klein's at the helm and he's writing about powerful Democrats, the answer is yes.
The excerpt is mostly a cut-and-paste job, with Klein relying on the work of others. But the writer does some original reporting and offers up juicy tidbits. But are they true? Readers can't really tell because readers have no way of judging the quality of Klein's sources since they're presented as an interchangeable group of anonymous no-names. Here's pretty much the entire sourcing, as described in the article:
-"According to one family friend"
-"according to a family friend"
-"a friend of the Kennedy family"
-"said another family friend"
-"said a family friend"
-"said a family friend"
-"said a longtime family adviser"
-"said the Kennedy-family adviser"
-"said the family adviser"
Discussing the article on Hardball last night, Chris Matthews may have summed it up best: "Ed Klein is out to lunch with this piece and Vanity Fair shouldn't have run it."
UPDATE: The only thing more depressing than reading glossy mag journalism like Klein's, is watching other journalists take it seriously. From ABC's The Note:
It appears the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy's vision of his niece Caroline to carry the Kennedy family banner forward in the Senate for another generation may have been thwarted by Ms. Kennedy's children according to a published excerpt of a new book about Sen. Kennedy's life.
If by "appears," The Note means that those were the words that appeared on the pages of Vanity Fair, than that's accurate. But trust me, there's nothing beyond that in Klein's reporting that even remotely suggest he nailed down any key facts about possible generational struggles within the Kennedy family.