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.
A Washington Post article quoted the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute saying of secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius: "That she is a dissident Catholic is a further slap in the face to Catholics and the Catholic Church." But the article did not note that President Obama's selection of Sebelius has received support from Catholics United and numerous other Catholics.
Politico reported that Larry Kudlow "confirmed his interest" in running against Sen. Chris Dodd in 2010 and quoted Kudlow saying: "I'm thinking about it, that's all I can say ... it's the kind of thing where I'm talking to friends, talking to strategists, talking to my wife, and praying on it." Less than three weeks earlier, however, Kudlow suggested in his capacity as a CNBC host that Dodd should be "impeached," saying that Dodd "has yet to divulge fully his sweetheart mortgage deals with the former Countrywide. He's re-fi'ed his mortgages, but we don't know those documents, either. Instead of being impeached, he's still around."
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius "at one point was refusing to send out money that Kansas taxpayers had overpaid." In fact, after Kansas halted payments in February on $12 million in tax returns due to budget shortfalls, Republicans in the state legislature refused to approve Sebelius' proposal to transfer money between state accounts in order to pay tax refunds, state employees, schools, and health-care providers until she approved hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts.
My latest column is now online. The piece, titled Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012, which has already been picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, looks at media coverage of the emerging battle over the 2010 U.S. Census which will have a profound impact in 2012 potentially deciding the control of Congress for years to come. Check it out and be sure to post a comment and let me know what you think.
By Karl Frisch
The fight for 2012 is here. Beltway media insiders rejoice!
Who's it going to be? Spunky Sarah? Moneyed Mitt? Holy Huckabee? Some dark-horse candidate flying under the radar? One thing is for sure: While the media clamors for every tiny detail in the looming battle for the Republican presidential nomination, the real fight for 2012 is taking place right before their very eyes.
During his CPAC speech, Rush Limbaugh said conservatives "believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, Liberty, Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness."
Conservatives may believe that, but it just isn't so. The language Limbaugh was referring to actually appears (more or less; he made some changes) in the Declaration of Independence.
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