Yesterday, Mike Baker of the Associated Press wrote a story titled "Edwards' wife criticized for silence on affair." It ran in outlets all across the United States and as far away as South Africa. The story began: "Two weeks after a devastating revelation sent her husband into political exile, Elizabeth Edwards isn't getting the steady sympathy usually afforded to a woman scorned."
Who would criticize Elizabeth Edwards for not revealing a deeply personal and embarrassing matter to the world? Who isn't giving her any sympathy? Well, based on the evidence cited in the article, it's mainly Mike Baker of the Associated Press.
Let's look at who is actually cited in the story as evidence for this explosive claim. The first person is Brad Crone, a "Raleigh-based Democratic consultant" who thinks Elizabeth Edwards was "complicit." OK. Then there's Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, although he isn't quoted saying anything remotely critical of Elizabeth. Then, one Daily Kos commenter who said Elizabeth Edwards was "self-serving," on a diary Elizabeth posted after the affair became public. (That was one of 1,875 comments, most of which were supportive. Then, finally, Betsy Wells, an Edwards delegate four years ago who "worked for each of his three campaigns for office" -- in what role, we don't know -- called Elizabeth Edwards "naïve."
This incredibly thin roster of critics -- who, wrong as I think they are, still level fairly timid criticisms -- apparently allows Baker to pile it on Elizabeth Edwards:
It seems an odd way to treat a woman with incurable cancer wronged by a cheating husband, the latest in a series of deep hardships in life that includes the death of a teenage son.
That's just Baker writing. This is sloppy reporting layered on top of a ridiculous and mean premise, and Baker and his editors should be ashamed.
Matt Yglesias recently highlighted a good idea from one of his commenters, who suggested that a mainstream outlet might make a comparison between the tax breaks Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama might receive under their own tax plan (since they are both wealthy), versus the tax break an average American would see. This would be illustrative of the taxation priorities of each candidate, on high incomes versus lower ones, in easy-to-understand terms.
Well, CNN got the drift -- er, kinda. They just left off that whole average-American part. Yesterday, on The Situation Room, there was a chart showing the effect of McCain and Obama's tax plans on four different income brackets:
- Over $2.9 million
- $603,000 and up
Does CNN have some really strange market research we're not aware of? Because that seems like an extremely small slice of Americans. Actually, Think Progress notes it's the top five percent of earners.
Aiming to inform viewers, CNN ended up being very, very misleading -- one sees a greater tax cut in each of these brackets under McCain's plan, creating the illusion he is offering more tax relief. Not shown, of course, are the other 95 percent of earners, who start to see a bigger benefit under Obama. (Again, see Think Progress.) So as a piece of journalism, this is highly misleading.
Wolf Blitzer didn't stop there. He tried to rile up some anger among affected voters -- namely, former NBA superstar and multi-millionaire Charles Barkley:
BLITZER: If Obama has his way, you would spend another $701,885 in taxes. $700,000 above and beyond -- you pay a lot of taxes right now if you're making millions of dollars a year as you are. How do you feel about that?
(Barkley notably said he didn't care, and basically that it was fair.) Anyhow, this kind of tax reporting from Blitzer is in step with questions from many other mainstream media folks, like Charlie Gibson pestering candidates during the primaries about capital gains taxes, or suggesting the average American income is $200,000. It maybe be important to Gibson and Wolf, but it ain't to most all of us.
Yesterday at The Nation, I wrote a bit about the sideshow that is Fox News at the Democratic National Convention. There were almost too many examples to include, but here's another dilly courtesy of Media Matters -- this is Fox News' Megyn Kelly, appraising Michelle Obama's speech:
Do you think that, you know, her saying that she loves America, that she loves this country, is going to do it for those who questioned her patriotism? Because she said something -- what she said was, and I wrote it down, was, "The world as it is just won't do." If you replace "world" with "country," you're back to the same debate, arguably, that you have been having about Michelle Obama's feelings about this country. Did she give her critics any fodder with that comment?
Yes, when you start replacing words in Michelle Obama's speech, it starts to sound really bad. (By the way, it's great fun to watch the Fox folks pretend they are not the main source of Michelle-criticism on the airwaves. Kelly refers to "those who questioned her patriotism." You mean, you?)
By the way, the actor in question is Ben Stein, who is an avowed Republican, and was in Ferris Bueller for about nine seconds, and he stunk. But he's really not impressed with the Democrats.
Shorter Richard Cohen: Gee, I wish Michelle Obama had given a fiery speech on race so I could have trashed her as an angry, bitter black woman; instead, I'll just have to make do with trashing her as an insincere phony who hides all of her black rage for the sake of political correctness.
Commies, commies, everywhere: New York Times columnist David Brooks on PBS' NewsHour: Acknowledging there was the possibility of unity, Brooks went on to say that "most of the delegates here have been fed these talking points here and they sound like a North Korean pep rally."
Jay Nordlinger, The Corner: "It seemed to me that, after Hillary entered, people were semi-afraid to stop applauding -- sort of like in Stalin's day. (Very, very awkward, this business of when to stop applauding a godhead.)"
Name: John Sherman
Hometown: Moorhead, MN
The curious thing about the Politico piece is that they seem to have adopted the view that there is no truth, only narratives of power -- a view hitherto accepted only in some university English departments and on the far right when shilling for creation science and opposing global warming, but not otherwise.
If there are no facts, then fact-checking is simply another mode of attack. The SCLM have the habit of, when accused of not getting their facts straight, rolling their eyes and complaining about angry opponents rather than trying to actually sort out the facts. The Milbank example is a case in point; he was attacked not for saying bad things about Obama or being a big media star, but for dishonestly editing a quote from Obama so as to make him appear to say something nearly the opposite of what he did say.
Most of the left blog criticism I see of the SCLM charges them with being lazy and incompetent, and most of the response seems to confirm the charges.
The Politico article from 8/25 about netroots pushback on the mainstream media quotes Joe Klein lamenting those wacky wacky leftists "using ellipses" and taking his quotes out of context to distort his positions. Maybe he thinks people have forgotten about his misrepresentation of, for instance, the Democrats' FISA bill.
He has a tendency to try to market bullshit, and when called on it by bloggers and commenters using facts and citations, to stubbornly brazen it out. That's what gets his hundreds of comments -- from readers frustrated by his maddening inability to see what is plainly in front of his face.
Wow, how the MSM is trying to make up conflict where there really is none. They love the idea of a divided, or at least rancorous, convention over the Hillary thing. Drudge, of course, thinks tonight will be a "bumpy night" as Hillary Clinton takes the stage.
Of course, the "so-called Liberal Media" along with their right-wing counterparts were salivating at the prospect of another Clinton run for the WH. Just think of all the dead horses they would drag out of the closet in such an event! Now they have a moving target in Obama. Hard as they try they really miss the mark.
Obama's crowd is facing pressure for release of attack dogs vs. McCain. Good idea if done by ads & surrogates, but not by the candidate himself. I am in hopes he has been keeping his powder dry, filling up his quiver, and preparing for an onslaught of attack media buys. In the meantime, I am just sitting back viewing someone whom I believe to be the right person for our time to take the stage, rain or shine, and blow the electorate's collective mind with the possibilities of a very different America than the one we have been suffering with for these last 7 years.
After McCain's appearance on late night TV where he attributed his inability to remember how many houses he had to his time as a prisoner of war, there's an immediate (but unfortunately unmakeable) response: a noun, a verb, and Hanoi Hilton.