Today, Fox's America Live aired a segment in which a panel discussed whether the media is giving president Obama "a pass on certain issues." The segment began with a discussion of Obama's recent comments to Dmitri Medvedev, in which he told the Russian president that he would have "more flexibility" to negotiate on the issue of missile defense after the November election. The panelists were Dana Perino, a Fox News host and former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush; Andy Card, former White House chief of staff under Bush; and Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chair and counselor to Bush. America Live host Megyn Kelly moderated the panel.
Put another way: the discussion consisted of Kelly, who regularly pushes conservative positions, came to Fox "believing there was a left bias in the news," and has been criticized for showing "hints of her political outlook" from the anchor desk, along with three senior aides to Bush.
Near the beginning of the almost 11-minute segment, Kelly said to Perino: "It's been like fingernails on chalkboard for you to watch how the media reacts to President Obama making, you know -- having his open mic comment when President Bush got very different treatment after he had -- and let's just play it -- the following open mic comment with Russia." After Kelly played the clip of Bush, Perino said that Bush "was talking about getting Hezbollah -- Syria to help us get Hezbollah to stop attacking innocent people. To me that is very different than whispering sweet nothings into the ear of Dmitri Medvedev on an open mic right after a press session."
Gillespie and Card jumped in with criticism of Obama and praise for Bush on a variety of subjects. Since there were no progressives on for balance, there was no one to point out that Obama's comments were not all that controversial since, according to Obama, he was referring to the fact that anything he could do on missile defense would require bipartisan buy-in, which is not very likely during an election year.
The nearly 11-minute segment concluded with Perino, herself a Fox News host, saying: "It was great to be with friends."
Straight news, indeed.
Conservative media responded to President Obama's budget speech by attacking it as a "class warfare debacle." Conservatives have repeatedly dredged up the same tired "class warfare" talking point to attack progressives on tax policy or other matters.
On today's edition of Meet the Press, the panel included former Republican National Committee chairman and longtime Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, who ridiculed President Obama's plan to develop high-speed rail lines across the United States. After providing GOP talking points on the union protests in Wisconsin and praising congressional Republicans for tackling the mounting federal debt, which, he claimed, Obama isn't doing, Gillespie highlighted Obama's high-speed rail proposal as evidence that the president is "out of touch." Watch:
DAVID GREGORY (host): My question though, Ed, is whether or not Republicans are looking at all this and saying, "Look, we got to own the budget message," yes, but are they worried that Republicans overreach here, which is what, of course ... the Democrats and the White House are counting on?
GILLESPIE: I don't sense that right now, David. I've never seen a political environment, and particularly on the Republican side, but generally as well, where there is a greater political risk to be seen as unwilling to cut spending than there is to be cutting spending. I've never seen a dynamic like this like we see right now. And again, that's why I think President Obama's out of touch. I mean, you know, Amtrak loses $1 billion a year. He's proposing $53 billion for high-speed rail in his budget. We're not losing money fast enough? We got to lose it at a faster rate? It is -- they -- there's a disconnect here that I think is going to cost him in 2012.
In reality, it is Gillespie who, like many in the right-wing media, is out of touch. Gillespie's claim that the project is a waste of money completely discounts the economic boon high-speed rail is estimated to create.
Gillespie adds to the litany of conservative media figures who have consistently ignored the job-creating potential of high-speed rail. Gillespie's comments follow a week of misleading reporting on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's decision to refuse federal funding for a high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando. While conservative media figures praised Scott for standing up for fiscal responsibility by rejecting the federal money, they ignored the estimated tens of thousands of jobs his decision cost the state.
Indeed, recent studies have found that high-speed rail has huge economic and job creating potential across the country. A recent study conducted by Siemens and the Economic Development Research Group for the United States Conference of Mayors found that high-speed rail could bring an estimated 55,000 new jobs to Los Angeles, 42,000 jobs to Chicago, 27,500 to Orlando, and 21,000 jobs to Albany, NY -- as well as billions in business sales and new wages in those cities.
Continuing its pattern of allowing columnists and op-ed writers to just make things up, the Washington Post gives former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie valuable print real estate, without making any apparent effort to ensure that he does not mislead the paper's readers. Here's Gillespie's fifth sentence:
The liberal groups and Democrats who supported the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which established the legal framework for this new campaign spending, were much faster to adapt to its contours than the Republicans and conservative groups that largely opposed it, and liberal outside groups massively outspent Republicans in the past two election cycles.
Gillespie cites no source for these "facts," perhaps because his claim that "liberal outside groups massively outspent Republicans" in 2008 is quite false. According to The Campaign Finance Institute, Republican-leaning 501(c) and 527 groups spent $198 million in 2008, Democratic-leaning 501(c) and 527 groups spent $197 million.
What possible benefit is there to readers for the Washington Post to publish a column by a partisan political operative that doesn't make it through two paragraphs before making a false claim? Obviously, there is none. Publishing such a column accomplishes only two things: It helps Ed Gillespie spread false claims, and it reduces the Washington Post's credibility.
It would be helpful if the Post would publicly announce what, if any, standards it has for op-ed writers and columnists. Are there any falsehoods it would refuse to publish? What if Gillespie had said President Obama is Muslim? How about if he wrote that the current annual budget deficit is $14 trillion? What if he claimed that Nancy Pelosi once punched a small child in the face on live television? Would it publish a column by Howard Dean claiming that the GOP is financing attack ads by selling heroin to schoolchildren? How does the Post determine which false claims to inflict upon its readers and which are beyond the pale? Or is everything fair game?
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield repeated a false claim by former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie that John Roberts "never said" that Roe v. Wade was "settled law" during his Supreme Court nomination hearings. Blitzer failed to challenge or correct this false statement.