In the wake of President Obama's announcement that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan, Media Matters looks back at conservative media who attacked his commitment to fighting terrorism. Since his election in 2008, right-wing media figures have repeatedly suggested that Obama is weak on terror and that he is not serious about defending America from terrorism threats.
Earlier this evening, I pointed out that the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Sherman Frederick has stepped down as the paper's publisher; the same article noted that the paper's editor in chief, Thomas Mitchell, would also be stepping down. The article suggested that Frederick was reducing his responsibility due to health issues.
But Steve Friess, a Las Vegas-based freelance journalist who once worked for the Review-Journal and now often writes for Las Vegas Weekly, has a different theory, reporting on his blog that the "real explanation" is that "Harry Reid won":
An extremely knowledgable source at the paper called this move a "shakeout" and a "head slap" from the top, meaning the owners back in Arkansas. He reminded me that the Stephens family are big Washington D.C. players, with banking interests and other issues to deal with in Congress. They may have supported Republican candidates, but the over-the-top efforts by Sherm Frederick and [Review-Journal editor] Thomas Mitchell to support Sharron Angle and unrelentingly beat up on the Senate Majority Leader was exceptional. It was nasty and personal and harmed the reporters' ability to have their work taken credibly, but even more importantly, if the Stephens clan wanted to make nice with Harry Reid, the only way to do it was to get rid of Frederick and Mitchell.
In a follow-up post, Friess writes that he is "fairly confident" and has "sources that have provided some proof" that Reid's victory "played a pretty big part" in the replacement of Frederick and Mitchell.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that Sherman Frederick is stepping down effective immediately from his longtime position as publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and as CEO of its parent company, Stephens Media:
The Las Vegas Review-Journal today named a new publisher to replace longtime publisher Sherman Frederick.
Bob Brown, advertising director of the newspaper since 2001, was named publisher of the newspaper effective immediately.
Frederick also stepped down effective immediately as chief executive officer of Stephens Media, owner of the Review-Journal. He will be replaced by Michael Ferguson, the company's current chief operating officer.
Frederick will remain with Stephens Media in a consultant role and write a weekly column for Stephens Media newspapers.
Stephens Media owner Warren Stephens announced Frederick's new role today.
"I am pleased that Sherm will remain with the company," Stephens said. "Sherm has had a long and distinguished journalism career. I am glad we will be able to retain his writing talents for the newspaper."
"It's been a hard summer for me," said Frederick, who underwent back-to-back prostate and heart bypass surgeries. "I'm looking forward to a more measured pace for a while, as well as my new duties with the company."
In March, Media Matters documented how Frederick's blog posts and columns have been rife with smears, factual errors, and conspiracy theories about Democrats. Media Matters' Joe Strupp subsequently reported that members of the Nevada journalism community responded to the report with harsh criticism for Frederick, with Jon Ralston, a former Review-Journal columnist who now writes for the Las Vegas Sun, saying, "It is one thing for someone to be a local embarrassment; it is another thing to be a national embarrassment."
Yesterday FoxNews.com reported that a former low-level staffer allegedly lied to federal investigators about her marriage -- prior to going to work for Reid's office. In that article, FoxNews.com gave no indication that Reid or anyone in his office had any knowledge of the investigation or the alleged wrongdoing.
Enter the Review-Journal. While pushing the Fox News smear, Frederick adds:
The Reid folks ain't sayin' much other than to suggest it's a GOP trick. Only problem, it happened on Obama's watch and involves several federal agencies.
In fact, Reid's spokesman are saying that Reid and his office did not know about the allegations until being informed by Fox News, at which time Reid's office conducted an investigation and severed its relationship with the staffer, Diana Tejada. The allegations never resulted in criminal charges against Tejada.
Moreover, contrary to Frederick's claim that "it happened on Obama's watch," the marriage in question occurred in 2003, and Tejada reportedly issued the false statements to federal investigators in 2004 and in 2008. According to the FoxNews.com article Frederick links to, Tejada "broke down and confessed that her marriage was a lie" in November 2008 and filed for divorce in December 2008 -- prior to Obama's inauguration.
In a blog post headlined "Is Sen. Reid physically up to the job?" Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick compiled a devastating case to support his assertion that "something's wrong with Sen. Harry Reid." For example, did you know that during a recent debate, Reid "mixed up the Department of Energy with the Department of Education"? And what happened when "Sharron Angle told him to 'man-up' " in that same debate? Reid "had no retort," according to Frederick. (I'd suggest it's possible that Reid had "no retort" because he didn't expect to be told to "man up" during a campaign debate for a seat in the United States Senate, rather than, say, during a pickup basketball game.)
When you're talking about a public figure whose words are catalogued almost constantly by the press, it's not difficult to pick out instances of misspeaking. It seems pretty low to turn Reid's misstatements into evidence that there's something "wrong" with him, especially considering that Frederick's blog post pivots on the mini-stroke that Reid had more than five years ago.
Frederick didn't limit his attack on Reid's fitness for office to misstatements -- ridiculous right-wing talking points came into play, too.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal charged Elena Kagan with taking an extreme position while defending a statute written to ban animal "crush videos." In fact, the Supreme Court stated that Kagan's brief was grounded in precedent, Justice Samuel Alito sided with the government in the case, and Kagan has said that she was doing her best to defend the statute, as is consistent with her solicitor general duties.
Right-wing media have attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her statement that unemployment insurance stimulates the economy and creates jobs, calling her remarks "laughable" and "lunacy." In fact, economists agree that extending unemployment insurance has a strong stimulative effect on GDP and employment during a recession.
In a June 3 blog post, Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick demonstrated that his daily reading consists primarily of the Drudge Report. Frederick picked up on an article linked to by Drudge from the New Scientist reporting that there are some islands in the Pacific that are growing in response to rising tides. In a post titled "More global warming debunked," Frederick reprinted portions of the article and concluded: "Paging American liberals: Isn't it time for a little public confession on this spectacularly wrong environmental bed time story?"
Of course, nothing in the article debunks global warming. And putting aside the validity of the study, the article itself states that the scientists behind the study "warn that while the islands are coping for now, any acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise could overtake the sediment build up" and "no one knows how fast the islands can grow." And the article also quotes an expert stating that "it's not possible to simply move people living in urbanised areas to new land."
But other than that, this one article obviously proves that global warming is a "spectacularly wrong environmental bed time story."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal's campaign to elect someone -- anyone -- other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not working. The LVRJ's own poll shows that Reid is now virtually even with his Republican opponents after previously trailing Republican Sue Lowden by 10 points.
Such hard data demands some serious spinning from the LVRJ. Watch how they bury the lead in Friday's article on the poll results:
Republican Sue Lowden has the best chance of defeating U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll for the Review-Journal that also suggests the Democratic incumbent could beat Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle in the fall, although he remains as unpopular as ever.
For the first time, a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll indicates that Reid could win re-election, even over Lowden, the one-time GOP front-runner whom the Democrat most fears and has most attacked. She is seen as moderate and a stronger general election foe than Angle, a staunch conservative now tied for the GOP primary lead.
Considering the LVRJ's war against Reid and its support of his opponents, the poll's findings that "for the first time," Reid "could win re-election" is the real news here.
An April poll showed that Reid trailed Lowden by 10 points, 47-37. By contrast, the May poll shows that Reid now only trails Lowden by 3 points, 42-39. (He also leads Sharron Angle 42-39 and trails Danny Tarkanian 42-41).
Such news is not sitting well with the editor of the LVRJ, who -- like his publisher -- is determined to defeat Reid. Thomas Mitchell titled a Friday blog, "Ideology v. pragmatism: It comes down to who can beat Harry." Hey, at least he's honest.
Mitchell says "Republican primary voters" (who Mitchell seems to equate with "Tea Party voters") must decide whether "stand on principles" (vote for Angle) or "compromise for the sake of victory" (vote for Lowden). But the message is clear -- Harry Reid must be defeated.
Sherman Frederick is the publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He is also a columnist and a blogger.
More than anything, he is a hack.
Take Frederick's latest (lack of) effort. He's still trying to squeeze blood from a stone in his continued war on Sen. Harry Reid. In his first attempt to suggest Reid was guilty of colluding with disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich, Frederick reprinted an entire email attack from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
In a May 1 blog post titled "Obama affair?" Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick wrote:
The Internet is re-exploding today with a story about an alleged affair in 2004 between Sen. Barack Obama and a bombshell campaign worker by the name of Vera Baker.
Inquiring minds may Google (or Bing) "Obama Affair Vera Baker".
Frederick is proving once again that he will publish any smear of Obama and the Democrats no matter how poorly sourced and dated it is. For the publisher of a major American newspaper to be engaged in spreading salacious rumors is disgraceful.
(Side note: Why does Frederick call Baker a "bombshell campaign worker"?)
But the funny thing is, Frederick encourages his readers to search Google for more information about the affair. In fact, Media Matters' Jeremy Schulman did just that:
A quick Google and Nexis search, for instance, reveals that the story is little more than years-old, rehashed rumors that have long been denied and have never been supported with anything approximating credible evidence.
Inquiring minds may instead want to Google "Sherman Frederick conservative misinformation."
If there's any lingering doubt that the Las Vegas Review-Journal -- and specifically publisher Sherman Frederick's columns and blogs -- are little more than a dumping ground for conservative misinformation, Frederick's latest attempt to smear Sen. Harry Reid should end the debate.
Frederick is playing guilt by association, linking Reid to discredited former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich because of a phone call the two shared on the subject of Illinois' open Senate seat. And in order to do so, Frederick reprints an entire email from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Frederick says, "Republicans are licking their chops in hopes the wire-tapped conversation will make Reid look bad. Here's an e-mail from the GOP spin headquarters tee-ing up Reid for that day." Frederick also says, "here's the GOP side of things. Enjoy."
Let's stop right there.
The "GOP side of things"?? This is all just a GOP-driven baseless smear campaign against Reid. This isn't a he-said, she-said debate.
It is not news that Reid and Blagojevich spoke. Even the email Frederick reprints acknowledges this has been reported before.
So what's new?
Well, Blagojevich spoke to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren earlier this week and mentioned that he spoke to Reid.
That prompted the GOP to put out a press release -- reprinted in its entirety by Frederick -- baselessly suggesting that Reid has done something wrong.
Frederick's continued smear campaign against Reid is embarrassing for the state of Nevada and for the profession of journalism.
Last month, Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick responded to criticism from Media Matters in part by writing:
The good news is that Media Matters doesn't mean much when it comes to actual readers. They've posted their bile for several days and only garnered five comments. Five comments? Hell, I can get five comments by posting a blog that says "the sky is blue."
We responded by noting that Media Matters ranked far higher in traffic than the website of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in the "several days" after the item was published. But since Frederick apparently thinks reader comments are extremely important, it seems worth pointing out how his readers have utterly savaged his latest attack on our partner organization, Media Matters Action Network.
Las Vegas Review-Journal editor Thomas Mitchell's April 16 blog post:
Bias is not a good thing. Right? We all agree on that, don't we?
People and candidates for public office should be judged on the basis of their ideas, stance on the issues, character, experience and integrity, not on the basis of age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability.
Therefore, we must repeal the 19th Amendment. Yes, the one granting suffrage to women. Because? Well, women are biased.
Just look at the poll results in today's newspaper.
Men favored the attractive former beauty queen Sue Lowden over the graying Harry Reid by 22 points, while women shunned their gender mate, choosing Reid by a 2-point margin. Which proves women favor Democrats.
Not convinced? Well let's back it up a week and look at the poll results published this past Sunday.
In a head-to-head match among Reid, Lowden and Tea Party pretender Scott Ashjian, the men favored Lowden by 19 points over Reid and woman women picked Reid by a 3-point margin. Ashjian was in single digits.
But change the Republican option from Lowden to former basketball star Danny Tarkanian and it is a different tale. Men still favored the Republican by 16 points and doubled their support by Ashjian to 15 points. Women, on the other hand, chose Reid by 16 points, proving they'd rather vote for a woman than a male Republican.
Men are consistent. Women are fickle and biased.
Then look down the questionnaire to the 3rd Congressional District race pitting Republican Dr. Joe Heck against Democratic incumbent Dina Titus. Men went with Heck 58-36, while women leaned toward Titus 52-40.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a lengthy excerpt from Dick Morris' and Eileen McGann's book 2010: Take Back America: A Battle Plan that uses numerous falsehoods and distortions to attack Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.