The Times today suggests there's been an unusual number of journalists going to work for the Obama administration, which (yawn) raises questions about liberal bias:
But this year the accusation has a new twist: In some notable cases it has become true, with several prominent journalists now on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership.
Who are the prominent journalists? Well, the first example the Times references is MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who kinda, sorta thought about running for the U.S. senate from Pennsylvania. But is Matthews going to run? Apparently not. And even if he did run, and even if he won, would Matthews be "on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership"? No.
So the first example the Times points to is pretty much irrelevant to the issue at hand: journalists joining the payrolls of Democrats.
The Times' third example [emphasis added]:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the leading candidate for surgeon general, is CNN's chief medical correspondent. His résumé as a practicing neurosurgeon — and one of People magazine's "sexiest men alive" in 2003 — is not that of a traditional journalist. But he reported on the health records of the presidential candidates last year, along with their health care proposals.
Has Gupta joined the Obama administration? No. Has he been asked to? No.
In total, the Times points to four journalists to back up its claim that "an unusual number of journalists from prominent, mainstream organizations started new government jobs in January." Of the four referenced, two--Matthews and Gupta--did not start new government jobs in January.
Check out of the fine print from yesterday's CNN chron:
Yes, it reads "Stimulus gains $80 billion; are Dems sabotaging it with extras?"
Gee, nothing loaded about that language, right?
Responding to Adam Green's piece over at Huffington Post, which admonished Burnett for her MTP appearance this weekend where she seemed to act more like a spokeswoman for Wall Street firms, and less like a reporter covering them, Burnett's CNBC colleague Jim Cramer came to her defense on the air yesterday.
Meanwhile, Green has invited Burnett to live blog with him and Huff Post readers about the topic of the Wall Street bailout. Let's hope she accepts.
And note to Green: if the debate takes place, please be sure to ask Burnett about her claim on MTP that taxpayer money did not help pay for those recent corporate bonuses for Wall Street execs. It appears she got the facts wrong.
This one's gonna make your head hurt, trust us. It's what happens when trivial pursuits collide with incompetence.
First up, NBC apparently does not know how to transcribe its presidential interviews, even when the president speaks clearly and slowly. NBC managed to botch the transcripts to its Obama interview. Specifically, at the end of the Q&A, Matt Lauer, for whatever reason, decided to ask Obama about his wife and daughters being on the cover of US magazine.
Lauer held up the magazine, which also featured cover photo and headline in the upper-right hand corner about singer Jessica Simpson's' apparent weight gain. ("Inside Jess' weight battle.") In fact, the unflattering photo of Simpson actually cropped out Obama himself on the US cover.
From the NBC transcripts which were released to the press:
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
OBAMA: Yeah, who's losing a weight battle apparently. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. Oh, well.
Well, that ticked some people off, including Karen Tumulty at Time. "He laid a big one in yesterday's interview with Matt Lauer," she wrote as she reproduced the NBC transcript online. And yes, right-wing blogosphere also denounced Obama, printing up the same transcript.
Thing is, Obama never said Simpson was "losing a weight battle." As Politico notes, NBC mangled the transcripts. Here's what Obama actually said:
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
OBAMA: Yeah, who's in a weight battle apparently. (LAUGHTER) Yeah. Oh, well.
It's obvious from watching the clip that Obama was not making fun of Simpson's weight. If anything he was very gently mocking the fanzine culture in which Simpson's weight is considered to be newsworthy.
But back to Tumulty and then the blogs. How did they respond to the fact that Obama never said what they criticized him for saying? From Tumulty [emphasis added]:
*Alert Swampland commenter travellingatlanta notes that the transcript that NBC put out was wrong. "Who's losing a weight battle" is actually "who's in a weight battle." I went back and listened to the video, and it sounds that way to me, too. Which makes it slightly better. I guess. But in the future, Mr. President, just don't go there.
I'm chuckling over Tumulty's detective work; about how she went back and listened to the video again and confirmed that, yes, Obama said "Yeah, who's in a weight battle apparently." I'm chuckling because the audio/video is clear as day and there is no dispute, which only highlights how supremely NBC mucked up by concocted parts of the transcripts in the first place.
Second, Obama shouldn't go there? Give us a break. The only reason Obama mentioned any of this was because a network news anchor brought up the frivolous topic of US magazine. The president was simply, and politely, humoring the interviewer by reading back to him the inane mag cover line.
As for the right-wing blog, well it's just priceless. This is what Gateway Pundit wrote:
UPDATE: The Politico is defending the president for joking about Jessica Simpson's weight problem. Figures.
Classic, right? Gateway pundit first mocked Obama for something he never said. When Politico pointed out Obama never said what NBC (and Gateway Pundit) claimed the president said, Gateway Pundit simply informed readers that Politico was "defending" Obama. What did Gateway Pundit fail to do? It failed inform readers that Obama never said what Gateway Pundit claimed Obama said.
Just keep moving along folks, nothing to see here. Corrections? Retractions for flogging phony story? Pleeease.
We told you this was gonna make your head hurt.
Pajamas Media, which was supposed to help build up the right-wing section of the blogosphere, announced that it's pulling the plug on its advertising network. It couldn't make enough money selling ads on GOP-friendly sites. That means some right-wing outposts may soon go dark.
Question: Is this Rightroots thing ever going to get off the ground?
Jonathan Chait has an interesting read in the upcoming edition of The New Republic that looks at, at least in part, the disparity in media coverage of the scandals involving the now-impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and the FBI-investigated-soon-to-be-former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. For those of you not following the Coleman scandal, Chait's article offers a decent summary:
What, you say--Norm Coleman? Yes, Norm Coleman! Let me explain. The soon-to-be-former senator's scandal is pretty simple. Nasser Kazeminy, a wealthy businessman and close Coleman friend, allegedly paid him $75,000 under the table.
And by "allegedly," I mean "almost certainly." Here's how the almost certainly true alleged scheme worked. The payments to Coleman came in the form of what Tony Soprano would call a "no-show job." One of Kazeminy's companies is called Deep Marine Technology. Kazeminy allegedly ordered Deep Marine's CEO, Paul McKim, to make a series of $25,000 payments that would go to Coleman's wife. According to McKim, Kazeminy was utterly blatant. He said the reason for the payments was that Coleman needed the money and McKim should disguise them as a legitimate business transaction.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first many have heard of Coleman's predicament – as Chait notes, it has hardly registered in the national media:
Some differences in the scale of relative guilt do present themselves. In Coleman's defense, he's currently just a subject of an FBI investigation, while Blagojevich has been voted out of office. And, of course, Coleman hasn't been caught boasting about his scheme. On the other hand, Coleman is accused by a Houston businessman of having actually accepted illicit funds, while Blagojevich is merely being accused of harboring an intention to sell his Senate seat.
Now consider how the two stories have fared in the national press. Blagojevich has turned into the biggest crime story since O.J. Simpson. Can you guess how many articles about the Coleman scandal have appeared in the national media? One short wire story. When I bring up Coleman's scandals with my colleagues, many of whom follow politics for a living, invariably they have little or no idea what I'm talking about.
The national media have almost completely ignored the Coleman scandal but they've found plenty of time to misreport key aspects of the Minnesota recount and ensuing ballot disputes. Al Franken may be a former comedian but the real joke has been the national media's coverage of this Senate race.
Newsbusters' Tim Graham thinks Barack Obama is insufficiently patriotic and pro-Marine. Why? Because the president likes Cole Porter.
Responding to a CBS report that Obama's appearances have featured a pianist performing Porter's "Night and Day" and Sting's "Desert Rose" rather than sticking to "Hail to the Chief," Graham writes:
To many Americans, this excessive informality suggests a real distaste for "official" or "patriotic" music, not to mention the Marine band that plays it.
Graham didn't provide any quotes or citations to support his contention that "many Americans" think this, so we can only assume he was projecting. In any case, it's an ugly smear to say that Obama has "a real distaste" for the Marine band simply because he enjoys piano renditions of Cole Porter tunes.
Some conservatives are upset about the fact that longtime friends and former colleagues George Stephanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel, Paul Begala, and James Carville regularly talk to each other.
Emanuel is the White House chief of staff, which supposedly means that Stephanopoulos, who works at ABC, and Begala and Carville, who are affiliated with CNN, cannot be objective in talking about the Obama administration. Or something. Greg Sargent and Steve Benen explain.
Honestly, this is all a bunch of nonsense. Two quick points:
First - for better or worse - friendships between journalists and the politicos they cover are nothing new. Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer is friends with George W. Bush. Conservatives didn't say he should be fired over that friendship - nor were they bothered when Schieffer moderated a presidential debate between Bush and John Kerry. Basically, for nearly any major political figure you can name - Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal - there will be some journalists with whom they have friendships.
Second, the idea that Stephanopoulos will be in the tank for Obama or other Democrats because he talks to Rahm Emanuel ignores history. The four men talked regularly in 1998, too, when Emanuel and Begala worked in Bill Clinton's White House - but that didn't stop Stephanopoulos from being among the first people to speculate that Clinton might be impeached over the Monica Lewinsky matter. Stephanopoulos brought up the possibility on television early in the morning on the day the story broke.
James Carville, former Clinton advisor and current CNN Contributor, is up today with an op-ed that eviscerates the laughable economic recovery plan offered up by radio host Rush Limbaugh in last week's Wall Street Journal. In particular, Carville notes:
Limbaugh proposes that because the Democrats got roughly 54 percent of the votes to the Republicans' 46 percent, the stimulus package should be allocated along his definition of ideological lines, i.e. 54 percent towards infrastructure improvement and 46 percent toward tax breaks for Limbaugh and his friends.
Get that? Now that Democrats are in power, they should only get to enact the same percentage of their agenda as they won in the popular vote. Isn't Rush generous? As Carville points out, Limbaugh wasn't nearly as generous when Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000.
Limbaugh must have called for the incoming Bush administration to allocate ideas based on the proportion of election returns. I'm sure President Bush and the Republicans in Congress graciously accepted their 49.5 percent share of everything. (Note: We would be much better off right now had this actually happened.)
With 50 percent of the federal government during President Bush's term, Democrats might have reduced the deficit (a truly Clintonista idea). Wall Street might have been more heavily regulated and K Street's lobbyists might not have been running the Capitol. Democrats might have invested money into infrastructure improvements so that bridges didn't collapse or entire cities flood.
Does it surprise anyone that Limbaugh would offer up something so breathtakingly disingenuous?