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"
Or let me put it this way: Does anybody really think think that if Obama had reached out to a former, high-profile male primary opponent for a senior cabinet position that the press would be all atwitter with incessant and clichéd talk of "drama," which, let's face it, isn't a very far leap to, Hillary's a drama queen.
And is this the new double standard that the Beltway media operate under: Female politicians with star power can now be effortlessly tagged with creating too much "drama"?
The headlines reads "In Banking, Emanuel Made Money and Connections" and here's the nut graph:
The period before he was elected to a House seat from Illinois is a little-known episode of Mr. [Rahm] Emanuel's biography. Former colleagues said the insight it afforded him on the financial services sector is invaluable especially now. But Mr. Emanuel built up strong ties with an industry now at the heart of the economic crisis, one that will be girding for a pitched lobbying battle next year as the incoming Democratic administration considers a potentially sweeping regulatory overhaul.
Take away the "but" and the facts of the story don't change. (Emanuel still got rich from the investment biz.) However, the emphasis sure does. In fact, without that suspect "but," whatever tension the article attempts to create pretty much vanishes.
Several media figures are promoting the notion of division among Obama supporters, asserting that "the left" is or should be disappointed with the president-elect's Cabinet selections. But the idea of significant disappointment with Obama runs counter to a USA Today/Gallup poll finding that 94 percent of Democrats "approve of the way Obama is handling his presidential transition."
A Washington Times article by reporter Stephen Dinan headlined "Obama hijacks GOP language on key issues" asserted that President-elect Barack Obama was "borrowing a line from the Republican-revolution playbook" when Obama said that, in Dinan's words, states should be "laboratories for solutions to the nation's big problems." However, later in the article, Dinan rebutted his own assertion, as well as the Times' headline, in noting that Obama "trac[ed] the concept back to Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who ... said states could 'serve as a laboratory.' "
On Hardball, Christopher Hitchens repeated an unsubstantiated claim he has made in the past: that Hillary Clinton "got" her husband to visit Pakistan in 2000 after a Pakistani-American PAC held a fundraiser that brought in $50,000 for her Senate race.
Mark Levin declared of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "[S]he's gotta have a big military jet. I mean, she's the first woman speaker. She wants a really, really big one. ... And if she doesn't get it, well then that's sexual discrimination." Levin ignored the fact that the House sergeant-at-arms -- who is responsible for the security of House members -- has said that a larger military plane for Pelosi, "that is capable of making non-stop flights" between Washington, D.C., and California, is necessary for "security purposes."
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?
Its message: We're all doomed.
Writes Newshouds about FNC's new on-air promo:
Checkout the explosions. The fires. The terror, despair and anger in people's faces. Listen to the music. Note the countdown at the end (10, 9, 8, etc.) and the explosion that caps it all off. Oh, and look - the only nationally known people pictured are Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.
In recent weeks, several conservative media figures, echoed by Republican lawmakers, have responded to comparisons in the media of President-elect Barack Obama to FDR, or assertions in the media that a New Deal-level of government intervention will be necessary to resolve the current economic crisis, by asserting that the New Deal was a dismal failure, plunging the 1930s economy into a depression, an assertion that prominent progressive economists flatly reject.
The headline reads, "Biden replacement creates blowback."
It's about how Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner appointed Joe Biden's longtime aide Ted Kaufman to Biden's old Senate seat. Kaufman will be up for re-election in 2010 and it's widely thought that Biden son, Beau, Delaware's attorney general, who is currently serving in Iraq, will run in 2010.
In other words, there's a feeling that other Delaware pols were bypassed in order to keep the seat warm for Beau Biden. (It was a "ham-handed" move, Politico announced.) Hence the "blowback."
Juicy story, right? Well, except the fact that Politico can't find anybody to quote either on or off the record to back up the claim that the Kaufman pick created blowback within the Democratic Party.
Actually, strike that. Politico did quote a Republican who claimed the Kaufman pick sparked "bad blood" within the Democratic party.
And yes, a local, Delaware college prof was quoted saying, the Kaufman pick "is definitely going to be some blowback." [Emphasis added.] Note the verb tense, is going to. But has it? It's very possible that the Kaufman pick has. It's just that Politico can't find any proof, which is why, once again, the outlet is guilty of over-hyping its headlines.