Numerous conservatives have claimed that President Obama's upcoming September 8 speech about "persisting and succeeding in school," along with classroom activities about the "importance of education," will "indoctrinate" and "brainwash" schoolchildren. Conservatives have compared Obama's address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to "keep your kids home" from the "fascist in chief."
Newsbusters thinks AARP's magazine is losing members because it put Bruce Springsteen on its cover. Here's Newsbusters' entire case against that cover:
AARP claims it's a "nonpartisan organization," an assertion increasingly challenged by senior citizens. The magazine's September-October issue may give members more evidence for that conclusion. It carries a cover story on rocker Bruce Springsteen, prominent in the presidential campaigns of both Barack Obama and John Kerry. The piece is adulatory, noting that Springsteen at his upcoming concerts "will play several roles - hero, leader, preacher, rebel - the performances unfolding like a novel."
The magazine devotes several pages to observations from his friends. One is liberal activist Bonnie Raitt:It was an incredible boost when Bruce committed to joining the No Nukes concerts. From the groundbreaking Amnesty International tour, to helping stop Contra aid in the '80s, to a steady stream of benefits, I don't know if any American artist has made as profound a difference.
Other Springsteen friends quoted are author Ron Kovic, Jersey Girl and "truth commission" advocate Kristen Breitweiser, and NewsSenator John Kerry, who states of the singer: "In good times and bad, he had my back. . ."
Odd that Newsbusters didn't identify Ron Kovic as the author of Born on the Fourth of July, isn't it? Given the tendency of conservatives to portray themselves as pro-military and pro-veteran, it's a little odd Newsbusters is complaining about a Purple Heart-winning Marine veteran who fought for better treatment of returning vets being quoted in an article. Then again, Newsbusters left out perhaps the best-known example of Springsteen's activism: the benefit concert he performed that saved Vietnam Veterans of America from financial ruin.
Anyway, count me as skeptical that an article about Bruce Springsteen is going to drive away AARP members.
It's becoming increasingly likely that the cadre of crack "bias" sleuths over at NewsBusters don't even read their own blog. I'm not sure how else to explain this latest bit of staggering hypocrisy.
Two days ago, NewsBuster Matthew Balan lashed out at Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik, complaining that Zurawik "didn't even wait a full 24 hours after Robert Novak's death to launch a stinging criticism of the former Crossfire host on the newspaper's website on Tuesday." Balan wrote: "Even the liberal CNN, who, as Zurawik noted, chose to not renew Novak's contract, paid tribute to the veteran columnist. That might give you a hint as to how much class, or lack thereof, the TV critic has."
OK, so Mr. Zurawik demonstrated a lack of "class" by criticizing Novak less than 24 hours after the storied political columnist passed away. When I read this, I found myself a little confused, given that when Chicago author and broadcaster Studs Terkel passed away on October 31, 2008, Mr. Balan's fellow NewsBuster Michael M. Bates couldn't wait 24 hours before posting a screed attacking Terkel as "a guy who wouldn't say whether he was a Communist and, apparently, a guy who -- charitably -- exaggerated a great deal."
But I decided to give NewsBusters a break, thinking that perhaps their "24 hour" standard for decency had evolved after Terkel passed away. But checking the website again this morning, I found that NewsBuster Tim Graham had posted an entry attacking 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt -- who passed away yesterday -- as "a pioneer in hard-hitting liberal attack journalism" who kowtowed to "favored Democrats."
And this was after another NewsBuster, Brent Baker, heaped praise on Hewitt for once "reprimanding" Dan Rather.
So do they read their own blog? Who knows... What is certain is that they've piled hypocrisy on top of internal contradictions in pursuit of a confused product that, by their own standard, lacks "class."
I know it's only Tuesday, but this has to be the lamest allegation of media bias you'll see all week. Here's Newsbusters' Rich Noyes:
Gibson Worries: 'Will Obama Go to the Mat for a Public Option?'
August 18, 2009 - 11:40 ET
On Monday's World News, ABC's Charles Gibson channeled the worry of liberal activists over the Obama administration's seeming retreat on government-run health insurance, the so-called "public option." Gibson fretted about Obama to White House correspondent Jake Tapper: "Will he go to the mat for a public option?"
Was Gibson really "worrying" or "channeling" or "fretting"? Uh, no. He was asking a question. Asking the rather obvious question, actually. Here's the exchange in question:
JAKE TAPPER: The White House says the President has not backed off anything, he still thinks the public plan is the best way to do this, but he has not drawn any lines in the sand.
CHARLES GIBSON: But will he go to the mat for a public option? He says now it's just a sliver of health care reform. But earlier he said it's a lot more than that.
Pretty unremarkable. Yet Noyes sees it as evidence of ... something.
Newsbusters' Tom Blumer sees some kind of liberal media conspiracy of silence in the lack of media coverage of a Gallup poll finding that more people self-identify as "conservative" than "liberal" at the state level as well as nationally. Blumer seems to think this finding has great significance, though Gallup provides no historical data for comparison, so we don't know which way things are trending.
And, as I've mentioned a time or two in the past, such labels are so imprecise and meaningless to many if not most Americans that these self-ID questions are of limited value. Indeed, the Gallup poll itself provides evidence that these questions don't mean much: Gallup finds that even in Massachusetts and Vermont more people self-identify as "conservative" than "liberal."
But Blumer thinks this one-off poll that is quite consistent with years and years worth of national-level polling is hugely important. Maybe that's because he doesn't really "get" how polling works. Here's Blumer:
The margins may not be "statistically significant," but the reported result still shows conservatives on top in HI (+5), VT (+1) and MA (+1). I also have to wonder how you can have a 5-point or more margin of error in a poll of 160,000 people. [Emphasis added]
Wonder no longer, Blumer:
Results are based on telephone interviews with 160,236 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Jan. 2-June 30, 2009, as part of Gallup Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
The margin of sampling error for most states is ±3 percentage points, but is as high as ±7 percentage points for the District of Columbia, and ±6 percentage points for Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, and Hawaii.
That little bit of explanation was carefully hidden in the Gallup article Blumer linked to and quoted. On the first page. Under the heading "Survey Methods." A heading that was presented in bold font.
Oh, boy. Now Newsbusters' Brent Baker is upset that former CNN reporter Bob Franken describes disruptive protesters who hang a congressman in effigy as "a crazed group of people" and a "mob."
... Brent Baker fires up his computer:
CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged "some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany" -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of "carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care." [Bold and ellipses in original]
Got that? Rush Limbaugh accuses Democrats of wanting to duplicate the policies of Nazi Germany -- but according to Brent Baker, it was "Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play." How did she do that? She pointed out that health care opponents have brought swastikas and other similar symbols to health care meetings.
Seems to me that Nancy Pelosi cannot be said to have "first put Nazi comparisons into play" if she was talking about the fact that conservatives had already used Nazi imagery. Newsbusters, apparently, uses an activist interpretation of the word "first."
Not to mention the fact that Baker can't see the qualitative difference between comparing something to the Nazis and denouncing Nazi comparisons.
Newsbusters' Seton Motley couldn't have screwed this one up more badly if he had tried. The right-wing media critic picked a fight with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, but only succeeded in making himself look like a fool.
Here's Motley, trying to ridicule Krugman's column about Toyota deciding to open a new plant in Ontario, Canada:
Krugman's Nobel-prize winning economic mind then offers up:
So what's the impact on taxpayers? In Canada, there's no impact at all: since all Canadians get government-provided health insurance in any case, the additional auto jobs won't increase government spending.
Really? Adding workers brought in from outside Canada to the government rolls won't increase government spending? A little of Krugman's new math: X plus 5,000 still somehow equals X.
Who said anything about "Adding workers brought in from outside Canada"? Not Krugman. In fact, Krugman specifically wrote that Toyota chose Canada in part because of the quality of Ontario's work force.
Motley then purported to rebut a Krugman point about the quality of health care in Canada and the U.S. But while Krugman cited an actual study that used, you know, actual data and stuff to measure the effectiveness of various health care systems, Motley "rebutted" it by assertion:
The key words being "timely" and "effective" - two words never associated with government medicine.
OK, Motley didn't have data or studies to point do -- but he did have bold and italics to bolster his case. He must be right.
Then, at the end, Motley suggests Krugman do "a little due diligence and some rudimentary research."
We frequently point out the various ways in which our friends at NewsBusters reveal themselves to be sub-par media critics, and -- wouldn't you know it - we found another one. And it's a pretty good one, too. Yesterday, NewsBusters' Clay Waters observed that the New York Times had dismissed the Birthers as conspiracy theorists, but couldn't bring themselves to do the same for the 9/11 Truthers, to whom the paper showed "respect." Waters wrote:
Media reporter Brian Stelter's Saturday Business story, "A Dispute Over Obama's Birth Lives On in the Media," questioned those questioning Obama's birth certificate, his citizenship, and his resulting eligibility for the presidency. Good for the Times. But where is the Times's critcism when liberals gin up wackier conspiracy theories?
Back in June 2006, Times reporter Alan Feuer showed far more respect to a conspiracy theory many times more incendiary and implausible: That the 9-11 attacks were an inside job, that the controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were engineered by President Bush. Yet not once did Feuer dismiss the 9-11 Truthers bizarre charge as a "conspiracy theory," as Stelter did in the first line of his Sunday piece on the Birthers.
First of all, the 2006 Times article doesn't come anywhere close to conferring "respect" on the 9/11 Truthers - Feuer observed that one of the ringleaders lived in a cave, that another recites profanity-laced Roman history, and that the crux of their entire argument is undermined by thorough scientific analysis. But as to Waters' specific claim that Feuer never "dismissed" the Truthers as conspiracy theorists, let's take a look at Feuer's article, with relevant portions highlighted:
In fairness to Waters, nobody really reads headlines anyway...
Newsbusters' Brent Baker provides still more evidence that the conservative media critique is fundamentally absurd. Baker is upset that "Time magazine's online staff certainly undermined any notion of impartiality in how they littered the posted version of this week's cover story, 'Inside Bush and Cheney's Final Days,' with the links they chose to display between paragraphs and at page breaks of the article."
Baker's first example?
Others, however, reflected hostility and/or derision toward the two key players in the story, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, starting with "Visit RottenTomatoes.com for reviews of W., Oliver Stone's 2008 portrait of George W. Bush" and "Read 'Leahy's Plan to Probe Bush-Era Wrongdoings.'"
Wow. That's Baker's strongest evidence that Time's link package demonstrated liberal bias? The fact that a Time article about Bush mentions the fact that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering investigations into Bush-era wrongdoing? A link to a movie review web site? Pretty weak stuff. But Baker's argument gets weaker from there:
The "See the top 10 unfortunate political one-liners" link goes to a collection which includes George H.W. Bush's pledge to not raise taxes: "Read my lips: no new taxes."
Baker forgets to mention this, but the list also includes two Bill Clinton quotes and one each from LBJ and Jimmy Carter. What the heck is Baker's point?
The link for "See pictures of polarizing politicians on LIFE.com" brings readers to a collection which has Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton, but also George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and Ronald Reagan.
OH MY GOD! THE BIAS! IT BURNS!
Wait. Uh ... what? That's an "Anti-Bush and Cheney Potshot Link"?
Media conservatives have been fearmongering over health care reform, baselessly claiming that it will result in the denial of care, or, in the words of Laura Ingraham, "death camps" for the elderly.
Newsbusters' Rich Noyes is irritated that ABC, CBS, and NBC all decided not to devote their news broadcasts to coverage of the 40th anniversary of Sen. Edward Kennedy's car accident at Chappaquiddick.
I know, I know -- you think I'm making this up. The conservative media critique can't possibly boil down to whining that news broadcasts fail to "report" on the anniversary of Chappaquiddick. But it does:
While the big liberal media usually find it hard to skip any news related to the Kennedy family, ABC, CBS and NBC breathed not a word about Saturday's 40th anniversary of Chappaquiddick.
The Saturday and Sunday New York Times and Washington Post also had nothing about Chappaquiddick.
Wow, conservative-style media criticism is easy! Let's give it a try: Other "anniversaries" the "big liberal media" doesn't report on: the "anniversary" of the time Newt Gingrich dumped his wife in her hospital room so he could marry his mistress and the "anniversary" of Pat Buchanan's memo in support of segregation. Bias!
Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard:
In another example of Barack Obama's appeal diminishing with the public, the White House was forced to reschedule Wednesday's press conference to 8PM from 9PM as NBC didn't want its summer hit "America's Got Talent" to be pre-empted.
Do you think Sheppard really doesn't understand that NBC sells ads during "America's Got Talent," but not during presidential press conferences? Do you think he really doesn't understand that this isn't an "example of Barack Obama's appeal diminishing with the public," but rather an example of NBC preferring to make a bunch of money rather than not make any money?
From a July 15 NewsBusters.org entry:
Newsbusters' Warner Todd Huston complains about Jeffrey Toobin's reference to Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a "cautious and careful liberal":
In his July 13 piece, for instance, Toobin calls Sotomayor a "cautious and careful liberal" like Ginsburg and Breyer.
Since when is Ginsburg a "cautious and careful liberal"? She was, after all, once the chief litigator for women's rights for the extremely leftist group the ACLU. The reason she was picked by President Bill Clinton to take a seat on the Court is because she was an activist liberal. Not "cautious" in the least.
Well, that would be news to conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who recommended that Clinton choose Ginsburg. And it would be news to Yale Law School professor Paul Gewirtz, whose study found that from 1994 to 2005, Ginsberg was the second least activist member of the Supreme Court - far less activist in her votes than Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, among others.
But never mind those inconvenient facts: Warner Todd Huston says Bill Clinton chose Ginsburg "because she was an activist liberal." So it must be true. Warner Todd Huston wouldn't just make that up.