Contradicting its own prior reporting, The Washington Post asserted that when Bill Clinton "took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once," while George W. Bush "took a different approach, slowly releasing several of the prosecutors." But the Post previously reported that "Bush and ... Clinton each dismissed nearly all U.S. attorneys upon taking office." Indeed, Bush moved to replace almost all of Clinton's U.S. attorneys within the first five months of his term in office, according to a 2001 Justice Department press release.
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Recently, the media have highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew," or otherwise given credence to the accusation that the president has loaded his agenda with unrelated items when he should be focusing on the economy. In many instances, the media have simply run teasers to this effect, reinforcing the idea without challenge; in other cases, they have highlighted the accusation, while also providing responses by the Obama administration.
Rush Limbaugh purported to favorably contrast his repeated statements that he wants President Obama to "fail" with Democratic strategist James Carville's statement -- prior to learning of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that "I hope [President Bush] doesn't succeed." In fact, whereas Carville reportedly retracted his statement immediately upon learning of the terrorist attacks and subsequently urged Democrats to support Bush's anti-terrorism efforts, Limbaugh has repeated his desire to see Obama fail throughout the current economic crisis and has gone so far as to say that he "hope[s]" Obama's stimulus package "prolongs the recession."
Credit ABC's Jonathan Karl and Luis Martinez for taking the time to actually look into the details surrounding Judicial Watch's comical claims this week about Nancy Pelosi's air travel; claims the Noise Machine mindlessly repeated.
The ABC duo concludes [emphasis added]:
The treasure trove of documents obtained by Judicial Watch from the Department of Defense regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's use of military aircraft doesn't seem to prove the organization's allegation that Pelosi has made "unprecedented demands" for the flights. In fact, it appears that Pelosi uses military aircraft less often than her predecessor, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
ABC found that virtually none of the Judicial Watch claims stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Oh, don't act surprised.
UPDATE: Newsbusters plays dumb, ignoring the fact that the Bush White House and Pentagon demanded, after 9/11, that the Speaker of the House fly on military planes. The only way the pointless Judicial Watch story works is if you pretend it was all Pelosi's idea, which Newsbusters eagerly does:
The mainstream media has completely ignored Pelosi's diva-like demand for a $38 million (in 1998 dollars) luxury aircraft in which to fly home.
There's nothing in that sentence that's factual.
A New York Times article reported that President Obama faces a "threat from Senate Republicans, who earlier this month threatened ... to block his judicial nominees by filibuster." But the Times failed to point out that several of the same Senate Republicans who signed onto the letter "threaten[ing] ... to block [Obama's] judicial nominees by filibuster" have previously challenged the constitutionality of filibustering judicial nominees.
The online discussions Washington Post reporters participate in daily are becoming a frequent source of media criticism. Last week, Perry Bacon criticized the use of the "loaded" phrase "class warfare." Yesterday, Alec MacGinnis agreed that media reports about Obama "raising taxes" leave out important context (namely, that he's cutting taxes for the overwhelming majority of Americans.) And today, Ben Pershing says that the media focuses far too much on earmarks, which constitute a "small sliver" of government spending:
Earmarks, Smermarks!: The "earmarks" account for less than 2 percent of the bill. Chump Change. Come on guys! Keep your eye on the ball!
Ben Pershing: Earmarks definitely do get a disproportionately large amount of press coverage, given the relatively small sliver of federal spending they represent. I bet if you asked the average voter how much of federal spending is earmarked, they would guess a number a lot higher than it actually is. Which I suppose is the fault of us in the political press for doing a poor job explaining.
Maybe I should switch jobs with Howard Kurtz.
President Obama today signed a document countermanding some documents signed by his predecessor and saying he won't sign so many other documents like that called signing documents.
Bill Clinton actually used signing documents way more than George W. Bush. But No. 42 is a Democrat and his wife currently works for Obama. So No. 44 is on a big tear right now to distance himself instead from No. 43, the Republican, who's back in Texas and doesn't care but just hearing his name trashed makes Democrats feel good.
Oh, really? That's why people have focused on Bush's signing statements? Or could it be that Bush's signing statements have been substantively different from Clinton's? Here's what a September 2007 Congressional Research Service report has to say:
At first glance, it does not appear that President Bush has departed significantly from prior practice in the signing statement context, having issued 152 signing statements as compared to 381 during the Clinton Administration. However, the qualitative difference in the Bush II approach becomes apparent when considering the number of individual challenges or objections to statutory provisions that are contained in these statements. Of President Bush's 152 signing statements, 118 (78%) contain some type of constitutional challenge or objection, as compared to 70 (18%) during the Clinton Administration.37 Even more significant, however, is the fact that these 118 signing statements are typified by multiple constitutional and statutory objections, containing challenges to more than 1,000 distinct provisions of law.38
UPDATE: Steve Benen adds:
Did Clinton use signing statements "way more than George W. Bush"? It's a highly misleading claim, based on a count of the individual documents, instead of the number of provisions to which the signing statements have been applied. In reality, Bush "broke all records" while abusing this presidential tool, "using signing statements to challenge about 1,200 sections of bills over his eight years in office, about twice the number challenged by all previous presidents combined."
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In a January promotion for his then-upcoming Fox News program, Glenn Beck denounced those who accuse Democrats of leading America toward communism: "I'm tired of the politics of left and right. It's about right and wrong. We argue back and forth -- 'If you haven't voted for the donkey, you're just a hatemonger.' The other side -- 'Oh, those donkeys trying to turn us into communist Russia.' Stop!" But since his show premiered, Beck has repeatedly used his program to smear President Obama, Democrats, and their policies as communist -- and Marxist, socialist, and fascist.
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Here's how the Wall Street Journal describes the findings of a new WSJ/NBC poll:
The president's support, while still deep, looks increasingly partisan as Republicans move away from him.
The Journal doesn't provide Obama's approval ratings among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, so it's hard to say for certain, but it sure looks like it would be more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is increasingly partisan.
That is to say: if Democrats and independents generally approve of Obama, and Republicans generally disapprove, it's more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is partisan than to say support for him is.
Compare and contrast these two online headlines today.
"Obama's rating at all-time high"
"Support for Obama, but Challenges Await"
And Check out the leads. From MSNBC [emphasis added]:
After Barack Obama's first six weeks as president, the American public's attitudes about the two political parties couldn't be more different, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. Despite the country's struggling economy and vocal opposition to some of his policies, President Obama's favorability rating is at an all-time high. Two-thirds feel hopeful about his leadership and six in 10 approve of the job he's doing in the White House.
President Barack Obama enjoys robust support from the American public, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests potential bumps ahead for his ambitious domestic agenda.
Note how MSNBC simply reports the results of the poll, which are rather amazing (by 48-20 percent the public thinks Dems are better handling the economy than GOP), whereas CNBC downplays the results and looks ahead to what problems could await Obama.
In fact, one half of John Harwood's CNBC article is about what might go wrong for Obama. Harwood though, is mum about the fact that the poll finds the GOP's favorability at an all-time low.
UPDATE: Let's look at how WSJ reported the polling results. Here's its headline:
"Obama Gets Strong Support in Poll"
And it lead:
President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates. He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.
Like MSNBC, the Journal reports the obvious news angle about the polling data. Only CNBC seems preoccupied with stressing what might go wrong for Obama.
The Politico and Roll Call both reported on a letter sent by Senate Republicans to President Obama stating that if they "are not consulted on, and approve of, a nominee from our states," they would filibuster judicial nominations -- but neither article noted that several of those Republicans previously challenged the constitutionality of filibustering judicial nominees.