According to Fox News, the media is inflicted with an anti-Christian and/or pro-Muslim bias. Their evidence? "The mainstream media hammered the fact that the Norway shooter is a Christian, but they seem to be ignoring the fact that the Fort Hood copycat is a Muslim," said Fox host Clayton Morris today, in reference to Naser Jason Abdo, the soldier recently charged with planning an attack on Fort Hood.
Fox not only claimed that news outlets are "ignoring" Abdo's religious faith, but that they are actually "hiding the fact" that he is Muslim. Fox also hosted Tim Groseclose, author of "Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind," to discuss this alleged media bias, which Groseclose attributed to "political correctness," adding: "It's not in vogue to be Christian... but it is somewhat in vogue to be sympathetic to Muslims among the far left."
Here's the problem: I couldn't find a single mainstream media outlet that is "leaving out" the fact that Abdo is Muslim ... unless these are not the mainstream media: New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS.
That's right. Fox just made it up. Apparently the opportunity to combine two of Fox's favorite narratives -- the persecution of Christianity and liberal media bias - was too good to let the facts intervene.
Last week on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart noticed that Fox News responded to the recent Norway shootings with claims of media persecution against Christians. Stewart pointed out that Fox News is quick to distinguish violence in the name of a religion from those who practice that religion--as long as that religion is not Islam:
On his radio show, Glenn Beck fearmongered about violence along the U.S.-Mexico border to suggest that the government will confiscate Americans' guns. In fact, the Justice Department has simply issued regulations putting in place a reporting requirement for multiple purchases of certain kinds of rifles, and, furthermore, violence in areas on the U.S. side of the border is dropping.
The national debate on the future of Social Security is surrounded by falsehoods and misconceptions regarding the program's finances and its relationship to the federal budget -- misconceptions that are repeatedly reinforced by major media outlets. In fact, as it's currently constructed, Social Security cannot add to the deficit in the long run, does not present a major threat to America's fiscal future, and is backed by some of the safest financial assets in the world.
There's no need to distract the press regarding the latest findings from the AP-GfK poll. Y'know, the one that has Obama's approval rating at a robust 53 percent.
Don't distract the Beltway press corps, let alone the right-wing blogosphere, because they're still obsessing over yesterday's Quinnipiac poll that had Obama down to a 42 percent approval rating. Those results, as we noted, were instantly dubbed to be very important.
It's true the Quinnipiac poll didn't really resemble many other reputable survey results issued this month. And it's true virtually every other poll measuring Obama's approval rating in March found him hovering around the 50 percent mark. But that didn't matter. The Quinnipiac findings were news and the AP's are not. Why? Because good news for Obama isn't really news.
So shh, please don't wake the press and disturb them with news of the latest AP finding. Please don't interrupt their fascination with the 42 percent approval finding when a new poll has Obama more than ten points higher than that.
And how badly does the press not want to focus on Obama's solid approval ratings? So badly that even the AP buried the lede in reporting on its own poll:
Americans are growing increasingly pessimistic about the economy as soaring gas costs strain already-tight budgets. But people aren't taking it out on President Barack Obama, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
In the survey, 15 percent of Americans said they thought the economy had improved in the past month, down from 30 percent who thought that in January. Only a third were optimistic about the country, down from about half earlier this year. And 28 percent thought the economy will get worse; that's the most who have expressed that sentiment since the question was first asked in December 2009.
In the AP-GfK poll over the past month, Obama's approval rating has held steady around 50 percent.
The AP can't even be bothered to spell out Obama's approval rating in the latest AP poll. (It's 53 percent. But the AP goes with "around 50 percent.") And no, that's not even the lede. Instead, Americans souring on the economy is the lede.
But I guarantee you if the AP poll had the president's approval rating dropping to 42 percent, the way the Quinnipiac poll did, the AP would have hyped that in the headline and the AP poll would be making headlines today.
The Urban Institute recently published a report contradicting the claim often pushed by Fox News that the health care reform law will "kill jobs." But Fox's Bill Hemmer nevertheless used the institute's report to attack health care reform and its "effect on jobs."
Numerous mainstream media outlets have reported on Republicans' accusations that the Obama administration's drilling policies are to blame for the recent increase in gas prices. These media have failed to alert their audiences to the fact that according to energy experts, the allegation is entirely without merit.
The media have repeatedly targeted public employees by suggesting that the public dislikes their supposed generous pay and benefits. However, polls reveal that many in the public believe that public employees do not receive too much compensation and, in any event, believe state employees should not have their collective bargaining rights taken away.
The Associated Press wins the prize with this stinker headlined "Anger brews over government workers' benefits."
In paragraphs 1 and 2, the AP passes along a Wisconsin woman's criticisms of government workers. In the third paragraph, the AP tells readers "She's not alone in seeing public servants as public enemies in some ways." In the seventh paragraph, the AP gets around to acknowledging "A USA Today/Gallup poll last month found show [sic] that Americans largely side with the employees." Then: Nine consecutive paragraphs devoted to detailing the minority's hostility towards government workers. And even more as the article goes on ... and on ... and on about this alleged wave of anti-government worker sentiment. (Which, again, is a minority viewpoint.)
Eventually, and hilariously, the AP offers this passage:
[Abel] Stewart, 36, the director of contemporary worship at a Methodist church in suburban Toledo, says he has a hard time conjuring up sympathy for the government workers he's seen protesting because of all the time he's spent working with struggling immigrants.
"These are middle class people who have a house, who have enough food, who are complaining they don't have enough," he said. "Instead of fighting for their piece of the political pie, they'd be better looking at how to live within their means."
That's not a unanimous view.
"Not a unanimous view"? That's quite an understatement: It isn't even a majority view, as the AP grudgingly acknowledged in paragraph seven. Incredible.
The Associated Press reports:
Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up.
High unemployment has certainly affected government revenue. But what's this business about corporate profits being down?
New York Times, November 23, 2010:
Corporate profits have been doing extremely well for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. As a share of gross domestic product, corporate profits also have been increasing, and they now represent 11.2 percent of total output. That is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2006, when they accounted for 11.7 percent of output.
And Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review noted in November 2010 that in the third quarter of 2010, corporate profits as a share of national income was "quite high by historical standards. … There is annual data to 1929, and the only time besides 2006 and (one can predict with some confidence) this year when the profit share topped 9% was 1929, when it hit 9.9%."
When a leading media institution like the Associated Press can't correctly report basic facts like the direction in which corporate profits are heading, what chance does the public have of reaching informed public policy positions?
The stupidest "story" you'll encounter all day is the Drudge-hyped "gaffe" allegedly committed when an email announcement that next year's Democratic National Convention will be held in Charlotte mentioned "great barbecue." Politico, for example, says of the email that went out under Michelle Obama's name, "The gaffe was enough to make you wonder whether the White House had simply cut and pasted Southern clichés to create the first lady's announcement."
What's the problem? Well, according to Politico, a Charlotte Observer noted that the "best" barbecue is not in Charlotte, but in Lexington -- which is about an hour from Charlotte. Politico considered that justification for its snide comments about gaffes and cliches. The Associated Press chimed in, too, with an article noting that the "barbecue center" of Shelby is "about an hour west of Charlotte."
So, in describing Charlotte, a city with two separate renowned barbecue destinations within an hour's drive, the Obama email mentioned "great barbecue." And this is supposed to be a "gaffe" and an indication that someone "simply cut and pasted Southern cliches." Yes, that's stupid because it's utterly trivial. But it's also stupid because it's … well, it's stupid. Even if you concede that it's impossible to find good barbecue in Charlotte, that doesn't matter. People who visit a new part of the country do not necessarily confine themselves to city limits. It's like mocking someone for saying that while visiting Los Angeles, they plan to visit Disneyland. Ha! Disneyland is in Anaheim, not L.A.! Or that a visit to New York City might involve catching a Jets game. Ha! They play in New Jersey!
But don't take my word for it. Let's see who else touts "great barbecue" as something to experience while visiting Charlotte:
"My favorite Charlotte event has to be Time Warner Cable BBQ & Blues! [Sept. 9-10] It's the best of a Carolina tradition with great BBQ, music and fun for everyone to enjoy right in the middle of Uptown Charlotte."
That's a quote from Robert Krumbine, chief creative officer of Charlotte Center City Partners, and it can be found in the 2011 Charlotte Official Visitor's Guide produced by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. (The visitor's guide contains listings for businesses in both Lexington and Shelby, another reminder that they're really close to Charlotte.)
The CRVA also produces a "Taste of Charlotte" sample itinerary to help people "discover all the fun things to see & do in Charlotte." And, what do you know, it emphasizes barbecue, too:
Barbecue is a non-negotiable must-have in North Carolina, so stop by Mac's Speed Shop for a taste of some Southern favorites including pulled pork, ribs, chili, Brunswick stew, and Mac's own delectable mac n' cheese. Half biker bar and half restaurant, this spot has earned a tasty reputation. Connoisseurs like renowned chef Mario Batali and Rick Browne of TV's "Barbecue America" are big fans.
It's entirely reasonable to refer to barbecue when talking about visiting Charlotte. And it's entirely trivial and utterly stupid to mock someone who does so for "cut[ting]and past[ing] Southern cliches." If Politico doesn't agree, they should take it up with the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority.
In an article about House Republicans' attempts to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, the Associated Press provided undue credibility to the arguments of unnamed "critics" who say there is no significant evidence for man-made global warming. From the report:
Officials said the House bill, which was to be offered Wednesday, would nullify all of the steps the EPA has taken to date on the issue, including a finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health.
In addition, it seeks to strip the agency of its authority to use the law in any future attempts to crack down on the emissions from factories, utilities and other stationary sources.
Many scientists say carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollution contribute to global warming, and the attempt to reduce them is a major priority for President Barack Obama as well as environmentalists. Critics argue the evidence is thin and new rules would drive up costs for businesses and consumers and cause job losses. [emphasis added]
How many scientists is "many"? The Associated Press itself reported in 2009 that "the vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring" due to human activity. Indeed, surveys have shown that 97 percent of scientists who specialize and are active in climate research agree that human activity is a significant factor in the observed warming trend.
And who are the "critics" arguing that "the evidence is thin"? The Associated Press itself has said that a "vast body of evidence" shows "the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions."
From an Associated Press article on Olbermann's departure:
David Brock, founder and CEO of the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America, said Olbermann "led the charge" against "conservative misinformation in prime time."
"Keith is an innovator and extremely talented broadcaster who showed there was a market for progressive views on cable news," Brock said. "I'm sure we'll be hearing more of him soon, and I eagerly await hearing of his next move."
In the days since the New York Times' report that beginning January 1, Medicare will cover voluntary discussions between patients and doctors about end-of-life planning, conservatives (with help from media like the Times and the Associated Press) have been claiming that "death panels" are back and Sarah Palin was right. This is false. There are no death panels.
When PolitiFact named Palin's "death panels" claim the 2009 "lie of the year," it noted the obvious implications of the term -- that the government would kill people:
History professor Ian Dowbiggin, who has written several books on medical history, euthanasia and eugenics, said he had never heard the term before Palin used it. He said the phrase invokes images of Nazi Germany, which denied life-saving care to people who were not deemed useful enough to broader society. Adolf Hitler ordered Nazi officials to secretly register, select, and murder handicapped people such as schizophrenics, epileptics, disabled babies and other long-stay hospital patients, according to Dowbiggin.
Palin's death panel lie clearly referred to the government denying medical care in such a way: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
That -- obviously -- is very different from Medicare covering completely voluntary counseling sessions in which doctors discuss end-of-life care options with patients. Indeed, "different" seems inadequate; the two concepts are "different" in the way that an airplane is "different" from an orangutan. Even if you set aside Dowbiggin's sensible explanation of the implications of the term "death panel" and look only at Palin's literal words, what she said was the opposite of what is actually happening. In Palin's version, the government decides what care people will receive. The new Medicare regulation simply pays for voluntary sessions in which doctors discuss with patients what care they want to receive.
But in the up-is-down, black-is-white, Sarah-Palin-is-a-truth-teller fantasyland of right-wing media, giving patients resources to make end-of-life treatment decisions -- if they want those resources -- is the same thing as not allowing them to make such decisions at all. And to the truly unhinged -- that would be Daily Caller columnist Tim Daniel -- Medicare coverage for voluntary counseling sessions is nothing less than a dystopian nightmare. Here's Daniel:
Whether or not grandma is run over by a reindeer, Obamacare death panels will finish her off
If grandma narrowly escaped being run over by a reindeer this Christmas, she may still suffer a worse New Years Day fate.
Sarah Palin has once again been proven correct — death panels are back, surprisingly exposed the day after Christmas in the Sunday pages of the New York Times
"Spooky Dudes" behind end-of-life Medicare "incentives":
– The Chief Spooky Dude himself: President Barack Obama. Obama kept this insidious regulation a secret and is more insistent of grandma facing a grinning doctor death panel than defending anything that makes America great. Imagine if this man fought for liberty as fervently as he obviously fought for this onerous issue and other visions of his American dystopian future.
Again: What Daniel is talking about here is a doctor and a patient talking through options for treatment and care -- if the patient wants to have such a conversation. And the government picking up the tab. That's all. You have to wonder what kind of person would try to scare sick senior citizens out of talking about treatment options with their doctor by convincing them that if they do so, a "grinning doctor death panel" will kill them. On second thought, the answer is pretty obvious.
If you thought the New York Times' write-up of a Medicare regulation about advising patients of end-of-life care options was bad, wait until you see the Associated Press. The Times article invoked Sarah Palin's 2009 claim that a similar provision constituted "death panels," while explaining only that Palin's (deeply false) claim was "unsubstantiated." The AP didn't even offer that caveat. Here's how the wire service's report handles Palin's lie:
[T]he practice was heavily criticized by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and some other Republicans who have likened the counseling to "death panels."
Prominent Republicans singled it out as a glaring example of government overreach. Palin's use of the phrase "death panels" solidified GOP opposition to the health care bill.
That isn't even "he said, she said" reporting (which is bad enough.) That's just "she said." But what she said was false. That's worth mentioning, don't you think?
Nobody should be surprised when Palin lies -- after all, she knows news organizations like the AP will just type up what she said and pass it along to their readers, without lifting a finger to correct the record.
Reading like it was pulled out of Rep. John Boehner's top desk drawer, the AP published a year-end 'analysis' of Obama's 2010. It's quite a piece of work. (i.e. Snowstorms are considered very bad news for the POTUS.)
The lede pretty much captures the GOP-friendly flavor:
Barack Obama's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year got off to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad start.
Wow, that sounds bad, right?
For a little context though, please note that Obama's approval rating in the daily Gallup track poll today is 49 percent. Exactly one year ago it was 51 percent.
So again AP, can you please define "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year"?