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Eric Boehlert has written a terrific column about the AP's "Ron Fournier problem," here. He does the kind of digging that is so rare both in the MSM and in most of the blogosphere to show why Fournier's suck-up comments to Karl Rove were not evidence of a reporter's mere "breeziness" but of a mindset that is reflected in Fournier's and AP's coverage; one that has the effect of perverting the truth and misleading AP's readers.

Boehlert piles up the evidence on this point, but I would like to suggest that the reason it has gone largely unnoticed is that it is par for the course among the so-called "Gang of 500." If you read Mark Halperin's page at Time or the current incarnation of The Note, you will find all kinds of Rovian assumptions about politics underlying the coverage; assumptions that are largely anathema to most Americans but embraced by the Beltway MSM as if written on tablets and handed down at Mount Sinai. (Halperin often gives evidence of having undergone a Rovian mind-meld.) I read The Note every day, and every day I notice the deep-seated bias of the sources that are considered credible. Following the requisite advertisements for ABC's correspondents, Commentary's awful blog, taken seriously nowhere else on Earth as far as I can tell, is usually cited, as is National Review and, of course, the lunatics at the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Robert Novak -- evidently played again as a patsy by McCain and Co. this week -- is treated as a credible source. But do you see The American Prospect, Salon, Media Matters, The Nation, Rick Hertzberg's New Yorker "Comments," In These Times, The Washington Monthly, Josh Marshall, Yglesias, Atrios, Kos, etc, treated in this fashion? I sure don't think that anyone would argue that the judgment of those cited daily by The Note has proven superior to those it ignores. Who predicted the catastrophe that was George W. Bush? Who predicted the war would be a disaster? Who was on board with Obama when the establishment press proved completely clueless? Why is the surge being reported as an undeniable success when it still has not accomplished most of the things it was promised to do and has likely accomplished nothing that will last once its unsustainable numbers are drawn down?

What about this story this morning, for instance? I could go on forever about this, but the mindset that Fournier has revealed rules the discourse. The MSM was wrong about most things in just the fashion that the Bush administration was; and that's apparently the way they like it.

And how rich is it for McCain to whine about Obama's treatment in the media? Particularly when, per usual, the allegedly liberal CBS News (among others) are covering up the candidate's "confusion" about the most basic facts about Iraq, here. Meanwhile, consistent with Slate editor Jacob Weisberg's frequently professed love and admiration for McCain -- coupled with his admonition to voters to ignore what McCain actually says and does because Weisberg has looked into his heart, George W. Bush-to-Vladimir Putin style -- Slate's John Dickerson is advising McCain on how to make his attacks on Obama more effectively, in a piece titled "Attack Obama but Do It Right," here. (That's quite a tricky liberal media we have here. If only someone would explain it to me ...) My buddy Tom Tomorrow has more here.

The LA Times, in the process of slow-motion seppuku, is eliminating its stand-alone book review, here. Sam Zell puts me in mind of The Kinks' Preservation Acts I and II and believe me, they meant "preservation" ironically.

Consistent with its lies about the safety of the air after 9-11 and Dick Cheney's overruling of the EPA's scientists regarding global warming, the Bush administration would like to make it easier for employers to poison their workers without legal responsibility.

Lines you don't want to have written about you, part XXVI: "Christian Bale, Warner Brothers' latest Batman in its smash hit 'The Dark Knight,' on Tuesday denied allegations of assault made against him by his mother and sister." Here.

p.s. I saw The Dark Knight yesterday afternoon, and I think it pulled off the neat trick of being both libertarian and fascistic, which is to say it is damn confused ... not bad, but not consistent either.

Alter-embarrassment:

I should add that Boehlert's email included this too: "I guess Billy Wagner's not so bad after all." Last night, literally as the ninth inning of the Mets/Phillies game was beginning and the Mets were about to go into first place, I wrote the following post before going to bed. It looks pretty stupid this morning, but my larger point about 40 years of Mets pitching still holds, I think. I print it in the interests of Maoist self-criticism.

Um, did Pierce say "second place?" That seems rather optimistic on his part.... [OUCH!] But while we're on the topic of the first-place New York Mets, I've noticed something in the 41 years that I have been closely observing the team, and it's this: Even when they suck, they almost always have great pitching. I'd be willing to bet American dollars that over the past 40 years, the Mets have the lowest ERA of any pitching staff. If it's not the lowest, it's close. Could somebody check that, please? Assuming I'm right, why is that? Forty years is a long time. And owners, general managers, managers, coaches, and scouts all change. So what's in the Mets' DNA that always seems to give them great pitching (and usually subpar hitting)?

I think it's a good idea, by the way, this privileging pitching over hitting, but how did it happen?

Roger Angell -- a Mets fan, by the way, and a Sox fan, like yours truly -- had a piece about the Yankees pitching in last week's New Yorker in which he called the head of the Elias Sports Bureau for something, but we here at Altercation must remain reliant on our community.

Meanwhile, a conspiracy of Major League Baseball's corporate cronies is blocking union pioneer Marvin Miller from the Baseball Hall of Fame. In The Nation, Kelly Candaele and Peter Dreier examine this travesty of justice. It's time for the players to step up to the plate. That's here.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Molly, NYC
Hometown: New York, NY

"The demand for so-called 'nonsectarian' prayer is merely a euphemism declaring that prayers will be acceptable only so long as they censor Christian beliefs." -- Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC). (7/22/08 column)

Could someone explain to Rep. Jones the difference between having your religion censored (or persecuted) and not being allowed to proselytize on the public dime?

Name: John B
Hometown: Des Moines, IA

As per usual LTC Bateman cuts right to the chase here. A pattern is certainly developing that's related to his comments about chaplains being allowed (by pending legislation) "invoke his own god in a public military ceremony." The people who are always claiming their first priority is to get the government off the backs of the individual also believe it's important to allow pharmacists to interfere in the health care of individuals. They feel it's important for faith-based organizations to be able to discriminate against people of other faiths when spending government funds. They've worked hard to redefine "religious discrimination" as the absence of a right for the religious (as long as you're the right religion) from discriminating against everyone else.

After the 2000 and 2004 these efforts were an obvious outgrowth from the dreams of the Permanent Republican Majority (does anyone else chuckle a little when saying these words in 2008?), but lately the burner seems to be turned way up on this front. From here it sure looks like a desperate attempt to hold on to power when the clock is about to run out. It behooves Liberals everywhere to stay alert for more efforts to enshrine wingnut principles into law before GW rides off into his retirement as a cattleman. Who doesn't like horses. And doesn't have any cattle. It's been a long time, but I'm starting to enjoy living in the reality-based community again.

Name: Barbara C.
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Eric --

On Bateman's piece on Iran and Adm. Mullen on Chris Wallace on Fox on Sunday. Was it lost on anyone how fast FOX News dragged out the brass on not only Iran but also on Iraq and Afghanistan because Obama was talking it up over there?

To Adm. Mullen's remark saying we would have enough Military Power to go into Iran ... Yeah ... only if we start working on cardboard cutout soldiers about now. We do not have the troops. I would remind anyone who thinks we do ... .send your son ... mine is headed to Iraq this November!

Name: W. Lewis
Hometown: Cincinnati

Eric,

Ray Davies writes in character. I don't think he was adding those things so much as saying religious difference/ ethnic difference/ Rudolph.

I have a cousin in law who just broke off her wedding date (scratch that visit to Boulder in late August) because her beau of five years is a practicing Catholic and they couldn't come to terms on how to raise their potential children (she's Jewish). I understand her former fiance is, in essence, making the "when we turn off the living room lights" argument. So far, hasn't worked.

Plus, Davies ends the song saying, "When we turn off the living room light, we don't feel as ugly as we really are."

So he's writing as a twisted, angry, long married, (probably Protestant or Catholic), old man. Adding a some bigotry just turns up a notch the pathetic nature and situation of the character.

Name: Robert C
Hometown: Hicksville (home of Billy Joel), NY

Er, satire - or at least an attempt at it?

"Who cares if you're Jewish,
And your breath smells of garlic,
And your nose is a shiny red light.
To me you are gorgeous,
And everything's right,
When I turn off the living room light."

Full lyrics here -- judge for yourself.

OK, not his best work, and he probably could have come up with a better 2-syllable word to fit the meter (since "Jewish" is not necessary for the rhyme), but remember, Reprise Records released this album of "out takes" (The Great Lost Kinks Album) after The Kinks moved to RCA, and without permission (Ray sued and had it discontinued). And yes, the word in context is jarring -- at the time, my girlfriend, and most of my "circle of friends" (Bronx kids all) were Jewish (and me, a "good" eye-talian cat-lick, severely lapsed by this point) -- and we all held our breath when we first heard this opening line, but we soon relaxed as the lyrics became ever more ridiculous. So for me, this song is simply an unfinished, and abandoned, demo (it's not really very polished) that was never meant to be released, and having not ever seen or heard any evidence that Ray Davies is anti-Semitic, I'm willing to cut him some slack -- actually a whole lot of slack, considering his body of work. Now for the obligatory -- "God Save The Kinks!

Eric replies: I had dinner with Ray a few months ago. I'm pretty sure he's not even remotely anti-Semitic. I thought perhaps he was reflecting the typical prejudices of his time, but the "in character" explanation, Randy Newman or Steve Earle style, works just fine for me,

Name: Denton Randall
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

There are only two Mavericks: James Garner and Jack Kelly. Neither one of them is running for president.

Eric replies: Dude, are you crazy? What about The Mavericks?

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