Aaron Keyak of the National Jewish Democratic Council assails the Washington Times for invoking Nazism in an editorial critical of health care provisions in President Obama's economic recovery plan.
At Huffington Post, Keyak writes in part:
Last week, The Washington Times ridiculously wrote of the "Nazi version of efficiency" when criticizing health care provisions in the stimulus plan. The use of this example is not only inaccurate, but it is insensitive and clearly beyond the pale of even the most partisan critiques of the stimulus bill. The Times is free to voice its thoughts on its Editorial page, but attacking the stimulus plan by printing a photo of Adolf Hitler and invoking comparisons to Nazi policies is offensive and not befitting of any newspaper with at least a modicum of respectability.
UPDATE: The JTA is up with a post: Can we stop with the Nazi analogies?
From Huffington Post:
In an interview with U.S. News & World Report, conservative Christian leader Pat Robertson denounced talk show host Rush Limbaugh for saying he wants President Obama to fail.
"So you don't subscribe to Rush Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" school of thought?" asked interviewer Dan Gilgoff.
"That was a terrible thing to say," Robertson responded. "I mean, he's the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn't, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally."
How long before Robertson joins Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) in groveling at Rush's feet for forgiveness?
In today's idiocy watch over at Washington Monthly's Political Animal, Steve Benen notes that on a local Minnesota conservative radio show Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman made the provably false allegation that President Obama's economic recovery plan gives the community action group ACORN "$5 billion."
A friend passed along an item from the weekend, with an audio clip of Michele Bachmann chatting with a conservative talk-show host in Minnesota. In the ongoing debate as to which member of Congress is the single most ridiculous, this interview is very compelling evidence that Bachmann is, at a minimum, near the front of the pack.
Bachmann "explained" to the host and Minnesota audience:
* ACORN is "under federal indictment for voter fraud," but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN "$5 billion." (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn't mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)
Benen is spot on. This is a lie that Media Matters has debunked time and again. Attacks like these on ACORN have become standard operating procedure for conservatives of late. Think of it this way... you know how Lou Dobbs can twist any report or purported scandal into an indictment of undocumented immigrants (illegals, as many on the right refer to them)? Well, ACORN is the right's new boogeyman.
Perhaps they don't like that an organization actually exists with the sole purpose of assisting low and moderate income people through voter registration, community organizing, issue campaigns, ballot initiatives, and direct services to communities in need.
And before the righties leap to the comments thread with allegations of ACORN voter fraud, they should get their facts straight.
Last week we noted it might--just might--be helpful for news consumers if the press, while covering the stimulus 'debate,' reminded people how Republicans treated then-new president Bill Clinton's centerpiece economic initiative in 1993. (Hint: Republicans uniformly dumped all over it and claimed it would ruin the U.S. economy. Sound familiar?)
Over at Crook and Liars, Jon Perr adds more context to the 1993 vote:
As it turns out, Obama wasn't the first Democrat to learn the hard way that bipartisanship is a one-way street for the GOP when it comes to the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton's $496 billion stimulus and deficit-cutting program passed without a single Republican vote.
Perr also provided the helpful table below. But don't look for it to be reproduced anywhere in the mainstream press. Journalists are too busy playing dumb about 1993, which, c'mon people, has no relevance to current events.
Matt Yglesias catches Politico's David Rogers privileging the lie in an article about high-speed rail funding in the stimulus bill. Rogers quotes GOP Rep. Candice Miller "explaining" that she voted against the bill because "the Senate majority leader has earmarked $8 billion for a rail system from Las Vegas to Los Angeles." The problem is, that isn't true - and Rogers doesn't tell his readers that.
Rogers ... knows what the truth is, knows what conservatives have been saying, and knows that the two are different things, but he can't quite seem to describe what's happening with regular English words. ... Rep Miller wasn't "explaining" anything, she was lying to her constituents. Nor were conservatives running a "campaign to find pork barrel projects int he stimulus bill" they were inventing fictional projects. Nor were obscure House backbenchers like Miller running a rogue operation here. House Minority Leader John Boehner led the charge on peddling this lie, and Senator Jim Demint was on the case as well.
This doesn't seem very complicated to me, but many reporters still don't seem to understand that when you quote a false claim without making clear that it is false, you are spreading a falsehood. You are granting an advantage to dishonest claims at the expense of truth.
And -- this part really should go without saying -- that's bad.
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A new statement from the Center for Economic and Policy Research blasts the media's coverage of the stimulus:
The media badly failed in its responsibility to inform the public about one of the most important economic policy proposals to come before Congress in the last decade. Most of the public still does not even know what stimulus means, in large part because reporters apparently did not want to call attention to the fact that spending is, almost by definition, stimulus.
The media also failed to put the proposal in any perspective, routinely using adjectives like "enormous" or "massive" without any reference to the size of the demand gap the stimulus was designed to fill. They also failed to put the various components of the stimulus in perspective by, for example, informing the public that the $50 million in funding for the NEA, that was so despised by the Republicans, was equal to less than 0.007 percent of the total package.
The media have the time to familiarize themselves with the concept of stimulus and to look up the numbers that would allow them to put spending and tax proposals in a meaningful perspective. Their audience does not have the time to do this work. The media once again badly failed the public in its reporting on a major economic issue."
Quite right. I have argued several times that the news media's obsessive focus on politics rather than policy serves their readers and viewers poorly. Here's one example:
Consumers of news lack the time, expertise, and, in many cases, ability to determine which of two contradictory statements by competing political figures is true. ... That's where news organizations should -- but, with depressing frequency, have not -- come in. They have -- or should have -- the expertise and the time to assess those claims, and to report the facts. That's what readers, viewers, and listeners need. That's what journalism should be all about.
On the other hand, as consumers of news, we don't need journalists telling us what the "political impact" of something is going to be; how it will "play at the polls." It's our job to decide that. It's our job to decide who we'll vote for and why; how we'll assess the parties' competing agendas and approaches to the problems we face.
Instead of telling us how they think we'll react, we need journalists to give us the information upon which we can make an informed decision. To tell us the facts, and the truth, and the relevant context. Then we'll tell them the political impact.
A Washington Times editorial falsely claimed that the Congressional Budget Office "estimated that the full cost of [the economic recovery] bill ... will reach $3.2 trillion by 2019." In fact, more than half of that $3.2 trillion figure comes from the cost of permanently extending more than 20 provisions in the recovery bill, which the bill does not do, as CBO director Douglas Elmendorf has noted.
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Headline from ABC News [emphasis added]:
More Billions for GM, Chrysler? Auto Beggars to D.C.
We're having trouble remembering headlines that have depicted Wall Street bankers as "beggars" when they lobbied from government bailout help. Then again, in recent months the press has been pretty open about its contempt for middle class autoworkers.
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Echoing a GOP press release, The Washington Times asserted of the economic recovery bill: "[A]t [the Congressional Budget Office's] best-case scenario of 3.6 million extra jobs at its peak in 2010, that works out to nearly $220,000 per job." However, this claim disregards tangible benefits of the stimulus package besides job creation, and economists have estimated that given predicted economic growth the actual cost per job is less than $70,000.
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From its editorial today, which lectures Obama about his learning curve [emphasis added]:
The narrow and rushed passage of his stimulus package underscored the difficulty of living up to his grand promises of transparency; the campaign trail talk about not cutting deals behind closed doors yielded to the demands of the moment.
The final vote for passage of Obama's $787 billion stimulus bill in the Senate was 60-38, and in the House, 246-183. But boy, votes don't get much more "narrow" than that, do they?
And I realize context has been banned within the Beltway when reporting on Obama's legislative 'struggles,' but if anyone's interested, back in 2001 when president Bush passed his $1.35 trillion tax cuts, the final vote in the Senate was 62-38, and in the House, 240-154.
I'm not even gonna check Nexis before I say that the first person to find a May, 2001, Washington Post reference to the "narrow" passage of Bush's tax plan, I'll send them a Media Matters rectangle magnet.
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