David Gergen forwarded the false Republican talking point that "a lot of small-business people, you know, pay taxes as high-income taxpayers. They're in the $250,000-plus. So, there are a number of them who felt like they're going to be facing crushing taxes." In fact, according to data from the Tax Policy Center, only about 2 percent of families reporting small-business income in their 2007 tax returns are in the top two income tax brackets, which include those expected to pay more in federal income taxes under president Obama's proposal
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Once again, Richard Cohen devotes his Washington Post column to attacking a ... comedian. Worse, he is again attacking a comedian for having higher expectations for journalism than he does.
In 2006, when Stephen Colbert delivered a devastating take-down of the political media during his performance at the White House correspondents dinner, Cohen blasted Colbert. Here's how I described it at the time:
This week, Cohen blasted comedian Stephen Colbert, whose performance at the White House correspondents' dinner skewered guests from President Bush to the journalists who invited him. Cohen's complaint? Colbert was too hard on Bush, even going so far as to make "jokes about Bush's approval rating, which hovers in the middle 30s." Oh, the horror! By comparison, Cohen never uttered a word of complaint about Bush's own performance at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association in 2004, which featured Bush making jokes about the weapons of mass destruction he falsely told America were the reason why he sent thousands of our troops to die in Iraq. In other words, to Richard Cohen, joking about your false claims that got Americans killed is fine -- but joking about the low poll numbers of a president who made false claims that got Americans killed is being a "bully." Perhaps that isn't surprising; Cohen, after all is one of the ever-shrinking number of people who still don't think Bush knowingly made a false case for war. He even went so far as to defend the Bush administration's outing of a covert CIA agent as "what Washington does day in and day out."
And now Richard Cohen is upset that Jon Stewart made Jim Cramer and the financial media look bad:
What Jon Stewart needs is Jon Stewart. He could use a droll comedian to temper his ferocity and correct him when he's wrong, as he was about the financial media, particularly CNBC and its excitable analyst Jim Cramer. They didn't cover up the story of financial shenanigans. They didn't even know it existed.
Cohen then offers several paragraphs worth of "proof" that the financial media didn't know about the financial shenanigans. The "proof"? The fact that executives at AIG, Lehman, Citi, and Bear Stearns lost money when their companies collapsed. Cohen concludes: "If these people kept their money in these companies -- financial and insurance giants they had built and knew from the inside -- how was even Jim Cramer to know these firms were essentially hollow?"
Nonsense. Ken Lay lost money when Enron collapsed. Does Richard Cohen think Ken Lay had no idea all was not well at Enron?
Think about what Cohen's argument suggests: That the people closest to a given situation know it best, and the media shouldn't question their judgment and behavior. If that's the case, why do we need the media at all?
Cohen does later make what he calls the "minor concession" that Stewart has "a small point" that CNBC and the business media in general have "often been a cheerleader for the zeitgeist -- up when the market's up, down when it's down."
That seems neither "minor" nor "small" to me, but Cohen is convinced that it doesn't matter that the media is "a cheerleader for the zeitgeist." After all, he tells us, bubbles existed before cable news:
It does not take cable TV to make a bubble. CNBC played no role in the Tulip Bubble that peaked, as I recall, in 1637, or in the Great Depression of 1929-41. It is the zeitgeist that does this -- the psychological version of inertia: the belief that what's happening will continue to happen.
But Cohen has inadvertently - and unknowingly - identified something the financial media could have done better: making clear that what's happening probably won't continue to happen forever. They might even have identified similarities between the current and previous bubbles, and detailed what happened when those bubbles burst.
It is astonishing to see someone who has spent his entire career working in the news media - and reached the lofty heights of the Washington Post op-ed pages - have so little belief in the importance and influence of his profession, and expect so little of it. Richard Cohen thinks it's fine for journalists to simply reflect the spirit of the time. He thinks it's fine for journalists to defer to the judgment of the powerful people they cover.
On some level, Cohen must understand the absurdity of what he has written. He concludes by conceding "Stewart plays a valuable role. He mocks authority, which is good, and he mocks those, such as the media, who take the word of authority as if, well, it's authoritative." But Cohen just spent a column suggesting that the word of authority is authoritative - that was his explanation for why the business media couldn't have seen the collapse coming. And, sure enough, Cohen's concession to Stewart's usefulness isn't really his point in the end. No, his point is that the person who really needs skewering is ... Jon Stewart: "he ought to turn his wit inward: Mocker, mock thyself."
You have to wonder why the Washington Post continues to publish someone who thinks so little of his profession. I'm sure the paper could find a liberal columnist who thinks journalism is about more than simply going along with popular sentiment and trusting the judgment of the rich and the powerful.
Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy falsely asserted that President Obama has proposed eliminating the ability of high-income taxpayers to take income tax deductions for their home mortgages. In fact, Obama has not proposed eliminating income tax deductions for any taxpayers; rather, a provision in Obama's budget proposal would, beginning in fiscal year 2011, reduce the tax rate at which families earning more than $250,000 per year can take itemized deductions to 28 percent.
Today Media Matters president Eric Burns joined several prominent writers, journalism professors, economists, media critics and progressive leaders in signing a letter demanding CNBC take substantial steps towards fixing their broken network.
Among many others, the letter was signed by Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Dean Baker, Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin, President of the Economic Policy Institute Lawrence Mishel, economist at the Institute for Research on Labor & Employment Sylvia Allegretto, and Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress Heather Boushey.
You can read the letter for yourself here.
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Does Howard Kurtz really think Sean Hannity would praise Barack Obama if only he had more time to think things through? That's what he seems to be suggesting:
As the Dow embarked on a long slide after Inauguration Day -- a nearly 2,000-point slide, to be precise -- the drumbeat seemed to grow louder.
"There's no confidence in Obama's plan," said Fox's Sean Hannity. "The markets respond to data. They have no confidence."
"The stock market is also demonstrating a lack of confidence in the president's big government agenda," said CNN's Lou Dobbs.
And it's not just those on the right. CNBC's Jim Cramer -- an unabashed Democrat -- complained that President Obama's "radical agenda" was causing the "greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president."
The chatter reflects a fast-forward culture that demands snap judgments. The cable news channels, not content to wait for the traditional 100-day benchmark -- itself an artificial media construct -- were grading Obama last week on his 50-day performance.
This is absurd. Sean Hannity isn't attacking Barack Obama because he exists in "a fast-forward culture that demands snap judgments." He is attacking Barack Obama because he is a partisan Republican who reliably attacks Democrats. It's who he is, and it's what he's paid to do.
Likewise, anybody who has watched more than six consecutive minutes of Lou Dobbs' daily rantings should understand that his criticisms of Obama don't result from a need for "snap judgments" but from his worldview. And Jim Cramer may be "an unabashed Democrat," but given what we've learned in recent weeks about his shameless cheerleading for Wall Street, his criticism of Obama is pretty predictable, too.
Howard Kurtz is the nation's most prominent media critic - and he thinks Sean Hannity might praise Barack Obama's policies if only he weren't forced to make "snap judgments"?
Linked article: Frank assails bonuses paid to executives at AIG
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The Politico and the AP forwarded the false Republican talking point that President Obama's proposals to let the Bush tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers expire and reduce the tax rate at which wealthy taxpayers could take itemized deductions would increase taxes on a large percentage of small businesses. In fact, according to the Tax Policy Center, just 2 percent of tax returns that reported small business income in 2007 are in the top two income tax brackets, which include all filers with taxable incomes that would be affected.
On CNN's State of the Union, host John King did not challenge former Vice President Dick Cheney's false claim that the Bush administration tried "to impose reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and we ran into a stone wall on Capitol Hill in the form of the chairmen and -- of the Banking Committee in the House and the Senate, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd." In fact, Frank and Dodd were not "chairmen" until 2007, after which time Congress passed oversight legislation of Fannie and Freddie.
On Forbes on Fox, host David Asman falsely claimed that President Barack Obama "once pledged to ban all earmarks." In fact, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether.
No Democratic members of Congress were quoted in a Washington Post opinion article asking "members of Congress and others whether federal budget earmarks are defensible"; the three members of Congress whose responses were listed are all Republicans. This is consistent with a pattern in the media of portraying earmarks as a practice unique to Democrats.