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.
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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.
Noting news reporting that MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews is considering running for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Democratic strategist Phil Singer asserted in a blog post, "If Chris Matthews is seriously considering a run ... he shouldn't be on the air right now." Singer went on to ask: "How could he do an interview with [Democratic Pennsylvania Gov.] Ed Rendell?" Indeed, Matthews has repeatedly gushed over Rendell during interviews with the Pennsylvania governor or when speaking about him on MSNBC throughout the past year.
From Dayton Ohio:
Hi Brian - I like you (really) and watch your show most evenings. But your failure, last night, to even acknowledge the prominent NYT article about NBC's relationship with Barry McCaffrey was cowardly and calls your credibility into serious question.
From Los Angeles:
I hope that this time you will address the serious, undisclosed conflicts of interest, as detailed on the New York Times front page about your military analyst Barry McCaffrey and his Defense Solutions. You are seriously harming your credibility by avoiding addressing this, and that of NBC News.
And from Naples, Florida:
Brian -after reading all of these comments, don't you feel any obligation or duty to speak of the General McCaffrey affair? Integrity is earned over a long period of time by being honest in actions and motives. If that ethical integrity is in any way compromised, it is difficult to repair the damage.
Will Williams ever acknowledge his readers concerns? Or is his blog just a p.r. vehicle to drum up viewers?
The latest: "Holder pardon makes Dems squirm."
Obviously, it's an article about Obama's pick of Eric Holder to be his AG, and specifically a look at Holder's role in the the last-minute pardon granted to Marc Rich in 2001. The press, desperate for some sort of conflict narrative, has been clinging to the story.
But look at the headline, "Holder pardon makes Dems squirm." Pretty simple, right? Clearly the article will include evidence--quotes, anecdotes, etc.--indicating how Dems are squirming about Holder's pardon role, right? You'd think. But this is Politico, where editors clearly feel no reason why headlines should match the article's content because, FYI, Politico provide zero evidence--none--that a single Democrat is squirming. Not one Dem in the article raises real-time concerns about the pardon.
Question: Why would Politico attach a headline that claims Dems are squirming if Politico has no evidence Dems are squirming? Answer: It makes the article seem more interesting. It helps sell the content. But last time we checked that's called marketing, not journalism.
UPDATE: The Politico headline has been changed to "GOP hopes Holder makes Dems squirm"