Fox News' Brian Kilmeade echoed a false assertion made in a December 11 AP article by claiming that President-elect Barack Obama said, "I'm confident nobody on my staff talked on my behalf when it comes to filling my seat." The AP had reported falsely that "President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday he didn't discuss his vacant Senate seat with disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and said he's confident nobody on his staff did either." In fact, during a December 11 press conference, Obama did not claim that nobody on his staff "talked on his behalf" to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich; rather, he stated, "I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat."
Anxious to keep the Blago drama percolating, many in the press have decided that among the most pressing question facing the nation is who on Obama's staff may have talked to Blago about filling Obama's senate seat. If you read the coverage and listen to the talking heads, you know this is hugely important.
Why? We're not sure since prosecutors don't even hint that any conservations that took place between the two camps were improper. Indeed, it would bizarre if Obama aides hadn't reached out to the governor about filling the president-elect's seat.
But none of that matters now because Obama and his aides won't talk, or so we're told. We need to know who talked to Blago and told him Obama wouldn't play ball for any kind of deal. Who told the corrupt pol to forget about getting any kind of deal from Obama. Follow? We need to know who talked to Blago and did the right thing. But of course, the press leaves off the did-the-thing part, and simply obsesses over who talked to Blago because that sounds more sinister. (There's a criminal complaint!)
Let's note the Chicago Sun-Times whose Blago/Emanuel article has landed top honors at the Drudge Report. Headline [emphasis added]: "Is Emanuel the adviser on gov tape? MUM: Obama's chief of staff refuses to answer the question."
Oh my. And the lead:
President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the Obama "advisor" named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Looks shady, no? And where did Emanuel duck reporters questions? Where did he refuse to come clean to the Sun-Times? At his kids' school concert. No joke. Behold:
Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama's news conference this morning. He was spotted two hours later in the lobby of Chicago's City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet. A Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.
On MSNBC Live, Tamron Hall forcefully challenged Republican strategist Doug Heye's characterization of President-elect Barack Obama as a "good friend" of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's. Hall challenged Heye on his "assessment of 'good friend' because," Hall said, "I don't want these things to linger out there without you kinda backing them up."
Dick Morris baselessly suggested that former President Bill Clinton "fire[d] all 93 US Attorneys" upon entering office in 1993 in order to "cover for firing [U.S. Attorney Charles] Banks and replacing him with Paula Casey, a Clinton ally," falsely suggesting that Banks "was hot on [Clinton's] heels as he probed charges that swirled around the [Whitewater] land deal." In fact, Banks had reportedly resisted investigating the Whitewater matter in 1992, just weeks before the presidential election, in defiance of pressure from officials in then-President George H.W. Bush's administration.
On his radio show, Bill Cunningham advanced baseless speculation that President-elect Barack Obama will not be inaugurated because of the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Also, accusing the media of "latch[ing] on" to evidence undermining any suggestion of wrongdoing by Obama, Cunningham falsely claimed that "parts" of the criminal complaint against Blagojevich "clearly indicate that Obama is up to his eyeballs in fraud." But as U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald made clear, the complaint indicates nothing of the sort.
Loading the player reg...
On The Radio Factor, John Kass falsely claimed that Rita Rezko, wife of Antoin Rezko, "b[ought] the Obama dream house" in what Kass called "that shady real estate deal." In addition, Kass, who was also featured on ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News in reports about the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, suggested to Bill O'Reilly that President-elect Barack Obama must be tainted by corruption because he comes from Chicago.
In a post on ABCNews.com's The Note, Rick Klein asserted that "the emerging lineup of Democratic rogues is starting to stack up against" several Republicans accused of corruption and scandal, but in the slate of people he listed, he omitted numerous examples of high-profile Republicans embroiled in criminal or ethical scandals, such as Rep. Don Young, Sen. Ted Stevens, and Rep. Rick Renzi.
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
On his radio show, Sean Hannity complained of Sen. Ted Stevens' speedy trial on corruption charges, contrasting it with Rep. William Jefferson's case, saying that "justice moves at lightning speed" for Republicans like Stevens. Hannity added, "Not only do you get indicted, you get tried, you get convicted in record time, but the Justice Department moves so fast, it's like some kind of national emergency." But Hannity did not note that Stevens and his attorneys reportedly requested a speedy trial following his indictment so that Stevens could "clear his name" before Election Day.
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
A Washington Post article about President-elect Barack Obama's potential federal judiciary appointments quoted Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice (CFJ), saying Republican senators should "play hardball" on Obama's judicial nominees, and then reported that "Senate Republicans, who retained enough seats in the November elections to filibuster judicial nominees, said they have not settled on a strategy." However, the Post did not point out that CFJ previously opposed efforts by Democratic senators to filibuster President Bush's judicial appointments, calling filibusters by a minority of senators to block judicial nominations "unconstitutional."
The good news about Medved's opinion piece in the USA Today, was that it called out the talk radio genre for its growing irrelevance. A GOP talker himself, Medved was quite straight forward:
But if the new president [Obama] makes credible efforts to govern from the center, then talk radio can't afford long-term marginalization as a sulking, sniping, angry irrelevancy. It makes no sense to react with pre-emptive rage (and an odd obsession over Obama's birth certificate) to a president-elect who has remained pointedly vague on policy.
The bad news was Medved kept peddling this notion that right-wing radio hit its nadir--the "Golden Age"-during the Clinton years and that GOP radio played a crucial, deeply important role in the political life of America during the 1990's:
With no Republican power base in the federal bureaucracy, dispirited conservatives turned to talk radio as a sort of government in exile. Deploying wit, passion and ferocious focus, Rush (and his many followers and imitators) rallied GOP loyalists to fight back against the Clinton agenda, from gays in the military to Hillary's health care scheme. Within two years, Republicans came roaring back to capture GOP control of both houses of Congress and pointedly acknowledged the role of radio - naming Rush the "Majority Maker" and making him an honorary member of their caucus.
Technically, that's all true. But Medved is talking about a period that ran from approximately June 1993 to November 1994; 16 months. The question is what did right-wing radio do the rest of decade? How did right-wing radio defeat the Clintons? How did it "change minds," as Medved claimed? Answer: It didn't. Bill Clinton won re-election with ease and left office as the most popular president in modern history.
The irony is that Medved is urging talk radio today not to become half-cocked in its pursuit of Obama--not to become unhinged--or it'll end up irrelevant. But wasn't that what right-wing radio did from, say 1995 to 2000?
As Atrios explained years ago, the press can report whatever it wants about the Clintons--it can bend or ignore whatever journalism standards are necessary--and it's all good.
We thought of that simple truth while reading this NYT piece about a speech Bill Clinton gave in Malaysia. Headlined: "Bill Clinton Speech in Malaysia Irks Investors." Uh-oh, sounds like Bill's in deep water again. When will he learn? See, everybody was right to worry about the "baggage" he'd bring when Hillary became SoS. At least that was the vibe of the article.
Here are the nuts and bolts:
Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.
"You should be proud of this man," Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.
But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president's glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.
The key is that last sentence: Some investors don't think Sekhar's a great guy because his company has suffered a rough few weeks. The Times then notes recent action taken by disgruntled investors and the Times quotes several saying all sorts of disparaging things about Sekhar. Got it?
Okay, now let's take a step back and look at the logic the Times used in order to decide this was a newsworthy event which required the time and reporting of three separate reporters, and let's try to figure out if under any possible terms the Times would have suggested a similar situation involving another speaker was newsworthy. Because obviously, there are scores of former Beltway big shots who travel the globe pocketing big checks for speaking fees. Off the top of my head I'll throw out the random names of Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and Henry Kissinger.
Now, if any of them accepted a speaking gig from a man whose company had unhappy investors, who thinks the Times would write up a story suggesting that Gingrich, Rove or Kissinger were the news story? I suspect none because it defies logic to think a paid speaker is somehow responsible for external investors complaints.
And let's face it, this article has nothing to do with concerns about Hillary being SoS and Clinton raising international funds for his Foundation. There's not even a whiff of that here. The entire premise of the article is that Clinton accepted a speaking engagement from a man who runs a company and whose company has some unhappy investors. The news angle literally makes no sense and represents a completely novel way to cover paid speakers.
But hey, those are the Clinton Rules.
On his radio and television programs, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented. In fact, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2001.