Ari Melber

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  • Five People Who Debunked Right-Wing Media Myths About Texas' Anti-Choice Law 

    Cable News Set The Record Straight On Abortion Safety And The Harmful Impact Of The Texas Anti-Choice Law That The Supreme Court Struck Down

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Texas’ extreme anti-choice law HB 2 was unconstitutional because it imposed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Right-wing media have long insisted HB 2 was meant to protect women’s health. Here are five times cable news debunked this misinformation within the first day of media coverage of the decision.

  • A Timeline Of The Anonymously Sourced FBI Agent Numbers That Distorted The Clinton Email Server Investigation

    The Numbers Have Changed From 150 To 12

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Since January, numerous outlets, including Fox News and The Washington Post, have cited anonymous or discredited sources to claim that up to 150 FBI agents were investigating Hillary Clinton's private email server. But the number of agents has been a moving target, with the Post later correcting itself to say it was "less than 50" and NBC saying March 30 that the number is closer to 12. NBC's source -- also anonymous -- called the earlier figures "ridiculous" and said, "You need an act of terrorism to get 50 agents working on something."

  • So who exactly watched that "mama grizzlies" video from Fox News' Palin?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    It's an interesting question given how much free airtime the Fox News contributor's online video has received since it was released.

    The Nation's Ari Melber did some digging and seems to have the answer on just who exactly watched the former half-term Governor of Alaska's "mama grizzlies" video in the week following its launch.

    Good thing too. The last thing we'd want is reporters claiming that Palin had really stepped up her game to rally her base with this new fangled online video stuff for the YuteToobs and FaceSpace. You know, like it did in claiming Palin's recent fundraising was impressive and a sign of her seriousness when, in fact, it was about the same as last year.

    From Melber's post (emphasis added):

    In the week since it was first posted on Palin's Facebook page, which boasts over 1.8 million backers, the video has drawn 368,000 views. Yet despite her large following, only 33,000 people watched the video via Facebook, according to YouTube statistics. That means only one out of ten viewers found "Mama Grizzlies" through Palin's social network -- and under 2 percent of her Facebook community watched the video. So who did watch "Mama Grizzlies"?

    Mostly traditional news readers and Palin detractors.

    Almost a third of all views came through an article on Yahoo! News, for example, while ratings for the video ran almost two-to-one for "dislike" over "like." "The bulk of the views seem to come after it had been covered in the mainstream media," observes Pete Warden, a social media analyst who has studied Palin's Facebook strategy. "She is still reaching a lot more people indirectly through the media than through Facebook and Twitter and the other direct channels," added Warden, a former engineer at Apple.

    It's quite a feat. Palin blasts the "lamestream" media while claiming to commune directly with her base, which draws extensive media coverage for an effort that actually reaches a tiny number of people. Without the media assist, though, Palin would just be sitting on a Facebook page with 2 percent participation and a YouTube video with niche numbers. (As is, "Mama Grizzlies" is not exactly Double-Rainbow material; it would place below this week's top ten political videos for overall views.) Some reporters are catching on. "I hope we don't hear from Sarah Palin about media bias anymore," Chuck Todd recently said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," "because it is amazing the ability this woman has to get media attention with as little as she does, whether it's a Twitter or a Facebook update."

    Be sure to check out Melber's entire post, including the humorous postscript with an interesting comment from an unnamed SarahPAC official.

  • The Washington Post Company does not understand disclosure

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Nation's Ari Melber notes that Yuval Levin, formerly an aide in George W. Bush's domestic policy shop, is Newsweek's editor of national affairs, in which position he has written that liberals must "pull back to the center--or suffer the consequences." And warned of "Obama fatigue." And suggested the stimulus package passed earlier this year should have contained a "meaningful tax-cut component." (Melber notes that in fact the stimulus contained $280 billion in tax cuts, which seems pretty meaningful to me.)And in June, Levin co-wrote a column with Bill Kristol, declaring "ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated."

    In March, a piece Levin wrote for Newsweek identified him as a "Bush veteran." But more his more recent bylines have described him simply as "editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center," so Melber asked Newsweek why Levin's partisan background is no longer disclosed. Here's the response he got from a Newsweek spokesperson:

    Levin's previous article for Newsweek involved the issue of bioethics, his primary focus while at the White House. He disclosed his prior position in the body of that piece. His most recent article was not related to that topic. We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin's background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin's recent piece was. (Emphasis added.)

    This is absolute nonsense. There isn't one person in a hundred who knows Yuval Levin worked in the Bush White House. Is there even one person in a thousand? In ten thousand? And how many know he co-authors attacks on "ObamaCare" with Bill Kristol and contributes to National Review Online?

    Newsweek's apparent belief that because they disclosed Levin's background once, long ago, all of their readers have committed his resume to memory reminded me of Anne Applebaum's recent defense of her failure to disclose the fact that her husband is an official in the Polish government who was lobbying for leniency for Roman Polanski while she was writing in support of the same.

    Applebaum, a columnist for Newsweek's sibling publication, the Washington Post, wrote: "For the record, I will note that I mentioned my husband's job in a column as recently as last week, and that when he first entered the Polish government three years ago I wrote a column about that too. I have to assume that the bloggers who have leapt upon this as some kind of secret revelation are simply unfamiliar with my writing."

    As I explained at the time:

    This is nonsense. If a conflict exists, it isn't sufficient to disclose it once. It must be disclosed every time it is relevant. Applebaum seems to assume that Washington Post readers make a mental catalogue of every Post reporter and columnist, their relationships, and their conflicts of interest. That anyone who ever reads anything she writes will take it upon themselves to keep a running tally of her conflicts, so she need disclose them only once. That, obviously, is not going to happen. And it displays a stunning arrogance -- she thinks everyone who reads her column cares enough about her to know where her husband works.

    Finally, she's misstating the nature of what she mocks as the "secret revelation." The criticism wasn't that her husband is an employee of the Polish government. Nobody cares about that. It's that her husband is a Polish government official who is currently lobbying for the very thing Applebaum is arguing in favor of. Surely she understands the difference?

    (For the record, Applebaum had another, much better, defense of her failure to disclose her husband's lobbying for Polanski: she says she didn't know he was doing it.)

    And then there's Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post media critic with the lucrative side-job hosting a television show for CNN. He's promised to disclose his financial relationship with CNN every time he writes about the cable news giant -- but he doesn't do so. Not even close.

    What Kurtz, Levin, and Applebaum have in common -- besides a corporate parent -- is the apparent belief that as long as they disclose potential conflicts of interests once, anyone who ever reads anything they write will be completely aware of their background. That is obviously foolish -- not to mention arrogant. This may be hard for Washington Post Company journalists to believe, but most readers have more important things to do than to memorize the life story of every reporter whose reporting they might encounter.

  • Is the "fabled conservative media echo chamber" too successful?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Well, The Nation's Ari Melber argues that it is. He picks up on something we've been noting here on CF and at Media Matters in general for some time -- that the rudderless conservative movement is being led by folks like Rush Limbaugh.

    Writes Melber:

    For years, independent experts and strategists in both parties all agreed that conservative media was a crucial part of the Republican Party's resurgence. Talk radio mobilized the base, with Rush Limbaugh wielding influence that rivaled most GOP senators. Fox News framed national debates and turned party talking points into conventional wisdom. It worked so well, Democrats pined for their own echo chamber, plowing money into think tanks and political media efforts to imitate the GOP model. The message machine that helped put Republicans in power, however, now looks like an albatross for the opposition party.

    Let's take a step back. There has not been a single hearing on Sotomayor's nomination, but Senate Republicans are already playing defense over the party's response to the nomination. But who speaks for the Republican Party? As every politico knows, the GOP's Supreme Court vision was hijacked by Limbaugh and Gingrich, two of the most visible pundits atop the conservative media machine. While the Republicans who wield actual power in this process - U.S. Senators and especially judiciary committee members – have to angle for a single TV appearance, Gingrich holds court with his paid platform on Fox. (Rush also dropped by there Wednesday). Gingrich amplifies his views with an online regiment that is downright millennial in its scope -- including "Second Life." His instantly infamous "Latina woman racist" tweet dominated several news cycles, and his blog post recanting it topped all online political news Wednesday, (according to the news aggregator Memeorandum). And now Limbaugh is backtracking as only he can, volunteering that he might support Sotomayor after all -- but he still thinks she is a racist. Apparently racism is not a disqualifying judicial quality for him.