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  • Newsbusters' Blumer digs deeper

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, I explained that Newsbuster's Tom Blumer had a bit of trouble reading an AP article he criticized. See, Blumer quoted a paragraph that was clearly referring to Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer - and then attacked it for downplaying Tim Geithner's tax troubles.

    But the paragraph didn't have anything to do with Geithner. Here's the first clue: the paragraph began, "An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday." Guess what? The Geithner story played out before last Tuesday. And here's how the paragraph ended: "rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on." Guess what? The administration didn't drop Geithner; it stood by him, and he was confirmed as Treasury Secretary.

    In other words, it is completely obvious that the paragraph wasn't about Tim Geithner in any way. Yet Blumer huffed that it was "beyond risible" because the AP reporter "knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"

    Well, it turns out that Tom Blumer responded to my post. Incredibly, he stands by his misreading of the paragraph in question. Well, sort of. Here's Blumer:

    As to the accusation of misreading the fifth paragraph -- Nice try, no sale. Of course, "Tuesday's nominees" in the fifth paragraph weren't Geithner or Daschle; but the "old story" Babington referred to was all about them. Babington made it look as if Tuesday's nominees had the same problem as the previous nominees (taxes on "household help and other services). That's obviously not the case.

    What?

    Blumer wants you to think he knew all along that "Tuesday's nominees" wasn't a reference to Geithner. This is nonsense for a couple of reasons, the first being that the phrase "Tuesday's nominees" didn't appear in the AP article. Blumer invented it, then put it in quotes. Second ... well, decide for yourself. Here's the AP paragraph in question:

    An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday: A new president's team imperfectly vetted top nominees. The nominees, it turns out, had not paid taxes for household help or other services when they were private citizens. The news media and political adversaries bored in. And rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on.

    And here's what Blumer said about it: "This is beyond risible. Babington knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"

    Does that sound like someone who knew that the paragraph wasn't about Geithner? Of course not. He thought it was about Geithner, it clearly wasn't, so now he's trying to pretend that he knew all along that it wasn't. Except that he's also asserting that it really was about Geithner, by claiming "the 'old story' Babington referred to was all about them."

    Well, that doesn't fly, either. I'll explain this once again, and for Blumer's benefit, I'll use the smallest words I can think of:

    Tim Geithner's story didn't play out last Tuesday.

    The administration (oops: "White House") didn't drop him and move on - last Tuesday or any other time.

    Therefore, the "old story" cannot be "all about" him; his story does not fit the "old story" Babington described.

    Also, Geithner's story isn't all that old; it happened a couple of weeks ago.

    So what did "an old story" refer to? It obviously referred to a history of nominees of both parties whose confirmations ran trouble because of tax problems.

    Bottom line: The paragraph in question doesn't say a word about Tim Geithner, and Tom Blumer attacked it as though it did. When his error was pointed out, he asserts that the phrase "old story" referred to Geithner. But it didn't, for painfully obvious reasons.

    Blumer concluded his response: "I recommend remedial reading and comprehension courses for MM's 'County Fair.'"

    No, really, he did.

  • Dobbs misrepresents CBO projection of stimulus plan's effect on output

    ››› ››› ELBERT VENTURA

    Lou Dobbs falsely claimed on his radio show that "the Congressional Budget Office did a study on the president's so-called economic stimulus package. It says output would be increased somewhere between one and a half, three and a half percent." In fact, the CBO estimated that output would increase "between 1.5 percent and 3.6 percent" in fiscal year 2009 alone and estimated that output would increase as a result of the stimulus package in subsequent years as well.

  • Beck falsely claimed "[o]nly 3 percent" of stimulus plan would be "spent in the next 12 months"

    ››› ››› GREG LEWIS

    Fox News' Glenn Beck falsely claimed that "[o]nly 3 percent" of the Democratic economic stimulus plan would be "spent in the next 12 months." Beck's figures were based on a partial Congressional Budget Office cost estimate that excluded faster-moving provisions in the bill. According to the CBO's full cost estimate of the bill, 11.2 percent of the $816 billion bill would be spent in the first seven-and-a-half months after the bill is enacted, and, when including the bill's tax cut provisions, $169 billion -- or 20.7 percent of the bill's total cost -- would take effect in the first seven-and-a-half months.

  • Wash. Post asserted CBO "report" analyzed "the majority of money" in Dems' stimulus plan, but CBO document posted by Huffington Post indicates otherwise

    ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

    The Washington Post asserted that "a report from the Congressional Budget Office ... said the majority of money in the Democratic [stimulus] plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." In fact, a document described by The Huffington Post as being the "whole" CBO " 'report' " accounts for only approximately $358 billion out of the "more than $850 billion" that the Post reported is included in the Democratic proposal, meaning that the CBO analysis could not possibly reach any conclusions about "the majority of money in the Democratic plan."

  • Wash. Post reported investor concern over partial analysis of recovery package, but not rebuttal

    ››› ››› HANNAH DREIER

    The Washington Post reported, "Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said he was skeptical of the stimulus package because much of the spending in it may come well after the crisis is over, as a report from the Congressional Budget Office has suggested." But the Post did not include a response from the Obama administration or the Democratic leadership anywhere in the same edition of the newspaper.

  • CNN's Henry advanced GOP criticism of stimulus package based on purported CBO "study," ignored Dems' response

    ››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

    On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry reported that a "study" from the Congressional Budget Office "was suggesting that a lot of the spending proposals in the original [economic stimulus] plan would not really take effect for a couple of years, so it wouldn't clearly help create jobs in the first two years of the president's administration." However, the director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a letter that his agency's "analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half" -- which Henry did not report.

  • Morris attacked Obama's DOJ choices with falsehood

    ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

    Summary: Dick Morris used a falsehood to attack President-elect Barack Obama's choices for positions at the Department of Justice, asserting that Eric Holder "approved of the Clinton/Reno 'wall' preventing intelligence from finding out what criminal investigators had found out." However, the so-called "wall" policy was established well before President Clinton took office and was retained by the Bush administration prior to September 11, 2001.

  • MSNBC's Hall suggested that Obama has not appointed a Republican to his Cabinet -- but Gates considers himself one

    ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

    On MSNBC Live, discussing political diversity in President-elect Barack Obama's administration, Jonathan Allen said that Obama had chosen "Robert Gates as defense secretary, and that's something that I think [Obama's] people will point to." Tamron Hall responded, "Gates is not a registered Republican." Hall did not note that Gates himself has said, "I felt, when I was at CIA, that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical, and so I didn't register with a party. I consider myself a Republican," and noted that until his selection by Obama, "all of my senior appointments have been under Republican presidents."

  • Honestly, who writes the Politico headlines?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And is the stated purpose there to be as misleading as possible? Because it's become something of an epidemic.

    Here's the latest: "Latinos unhappy with Obama picks."

    Now, if you're a Politico novice, you might see that headline and think the article, written by Gebe Martinez, will detail how Obama's early key picks for his new administration have angered Latinos and that the article will include relevant quotes to back up the headline's crystal-clear claim.

    But if you're a Politico veteran, you understand that headlines often have little to do with the article's content and that specifically in recent days/weeks headline that try way too hard to gin up conflict regarding the new Obama team usually fall flat.

    Well, add this "Latinos unhappy with Obama picks" article to that pile because there is virtually nothing in the piece to justify the headline. Zero.

    No joke, this is as close as the article comes to substantiating the "unhappy" headline [emphasis added]:

    But at this early stage in the appointments process, there is a trickle of disappointment running through the Latino community.

    We understand that in the click-through world headlines can make or break a story. But is maintaining some semblance of journalistic guidelines when hyping stories asking too much?

  • That was then ... Matthews lauded "experience" of Bush's Cabinet picks in 2001, but says Obama's selection of prior administration vets is "crap"

    ››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

    Amid reports that President-elect Barack Obama has decided to nominate Clinton Justice Department veteran Eric Holder to be attorney general, Chris Matthews criticized Obama on Hardball: "You could do this in any bureaucratic state, you could do it in the old Soviet Union. ... You don't need elections for this crap." But in 2001, Matthews said of George W. Bush's Cabinet picks, which included veterans of past administrations: "There's some real heavyweights in terms of experience."

  • Cavuto failed to challenge false claim that "we didn't have any spillage whatsoever ... during Katrina"

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    On Your World, Neil Cavuto did not challenge Rep. Michelle Bachmann's false claim that "[w]e didn't have any spillage whatsoever from the oil rigs during Katrina." In fact, a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm identified damage from Hurricane Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum products into the Gulf of Mexico.

  • CBS, NBC evening news broadcasts ignored IG report finding illegal actions in Justice Department hiring practices; ABC devoted less than 30 seconds

    ››› ››› ANNE SMITH

    Evening news broadcasts on CBS and NBC failed to cover a new report finding that the actions of top aides in the Justice Department who used political considerations in hiring "violated federal law and Department policy, and also constituted misconduct." ABC's World News, meanwhile, devoted less than 30 seconds to the report. Despite the potential implications for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, all three networks ignored the finding that "an experienced career terrorism prosecutor" was denied a counterterrorism assignment while "a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who officials believed was not qualified for the position" was hired instead.

  • Buchanan claimed McCain's FCC letters were "in the normal course of business of a congressman" -- not according to then-FCC chairman

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Discussing reports about Sen. John McCain's ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Pat Buchanan asserted: "I don't have a problem with John McCain writing a letter there, depending on what he says in the letter," adding, "[B]ut McCain shouldn't be denying that, I don't think, because it seems to me that's in the normal course of business of a congressman." But contrary to his description of McCain's actions as "the normal course" for a congressman, the FCC chairman at the time criticized McCain for his request, calling it "highly unusual."