Boy, it's like the Newsbusters crew is trying to set some sort of record for inane media criticism in a single day. Earlier, Tim Graham said the Washington Post's obituary of Patrick Swayze proved the paper's liberal bias by not mentioning Red Dawn until the 23rd paragraph.
Now Mark Finkelstein attacks MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan for conducting a "fawning" interview of Barney Frank, with Finkelstein throwing around the words "sycophant" and "suck-up" and "appeasing" to describe Ratigan's behavior.
Here's the problem: the interview in question included a testy exchange in which Ratigan repeatedly interrupted Frank as he tried to answer a question.
It's awfully strange to see an interview in which the interviewee feels the need to insist "I'm trying to answer it ... I'm trying to answer it ... these things are somewhat complicated. And they can't all be answered in eight seconds. ... So I wish you would let me answer the question" described as "fawning," but that's what passes as media criticism on the Right.
WaPo Patrick Swayze Obit Gets to His Drag-Queen Movie Before 'Red Dawn'
Here's a sign the Washington Post is a liberal newspaper: today's Adam Bernstein obituary for Patrick Swayze begins obviously by noting his big hits "Ghost" and "Dirty Dancing," but doesn't get to "Red Dawn" until paragraph 23. Even then, Bernstein wrongly suggests he had a supporting role
I'm not kidding. Graham really wrote that. It actually happened.
UPDATE: Even Newsbusters' commenters are bewildered that Graham would post such an inane media-bias claim, leading him to respond in the comments:
It's merely an amusing little sign of how the Post doesn't have anyone inside the building to say "hey, didn't you ever see Red Dawn?"
And, really, what newsroom is complete without anyone saying "Hey, didn't you ever see Red Dawn"?
With the eight year anniversary of 9/11 mere hours away, the Associated Press has written a very moving, very emotional piece, focusing on victims who fear leaving the house on that day, victims who will never view that day as routine, victims who get a sick feeling in their stomach when the anniversary arrives each year - Muslims.
OK, so the AP shouldn't be reporting on the feelings of Muslims on 9-11. I'm not sure why they shouldn't be doing this, but Rusty offers an explanation:
While nobody is promoting discrimination against any group of people based on the actions of a maniacal few, one has to question if the alleged terror experienced by Muslims on this anniversary warrants a focal point? On a day in which Americans take time to remember the devastation and the loss of life on 9/11, we are encouraged by the AP to feel sorry for those who might receive strange stares, or may 'feel' less safe on this day because they are Muslim.
See if you can follow this -- Weiss isn't saying that the AP should discriminate against Muslims, he's just saying that the AP shouldn't report on Muslims on 9-11 because they are Muslim. That's pretty much the definition of "discrimination." Also notice how Weiss questions whether American Muslims really do experience their "alleged terror."
But it gets even better:
A quote from Sarah Sayeed attempts to capture the anxiety of the day as she wonders, 'should I go anywhere?' An appropriate question, but perhaps more so for Americans who asked themselves the same question weeks, months, and even years after the tragedy. There is no attempt to capture the anxiety of those who still give a quick glance up to the sky each time the sound of an airplane fills their ears.
The AP article notes that Sayeed was born in India but emigrated to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. There's an excellent chance that she is, in fact, an American citizen. And yet, Weiss casually segregates her from "Americans" -- presumably non-Muslim Americans whose thoughts and feelings he gives more weight to based solely on the fact that they aren't Muslim.
He caps everything off with this observation:
It seems that on a significant date in American history, the AP would rather focus on manufacturing sympathy for Muslims, than reporting on an actual tragedy for Americans.
This is just stupid. First off, notice once again the segregation of "Muslims" from "Americans." Secondly, the Associated Press runs dozens of articles each day, often on the same subject. Even if Weiss had a legitimate beef about the tone of this AP article, his suggestion that they have ignored all other aspects of September 11 is absurdly wrong.
Is '50s pop idol Pat Boone a NewsBuster now? It appears so -- he's got his own blog there and everything. Unfortunately, his first post doesn't reflect well on NewsBusters -- or perhaps it reflects all too well.
The Sept. 3 post is actually a column Boone wrote in June and was published on various conservative websites at that time. It's one of those Obama-is-a-suspicious-foreigner screeds portraying President Obama as a "man without a country"; Boone writes to Obama, "It seems increasingly and painfully obvious that you are more influenced by your upbringing and questionable education than most suspected." But in making his point, Boone takes Obama's words out of context and treats paraphrases of Obama as direct quotes (which are also taken out of context).
Boone quotes Obama as saying, "We're no longer a Christian nation," which he later responds to by writing, "America is emphatically a Christian nation, and has been from its inception!" But, Boone hides the full context of Obama's statement, which highlights the diversity of America:
Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation -- at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.
Boone also quotes Obama as saying, "America has been arrogant," suggesting he got the idea "during the 20 years you were a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ under your pastor, Jeremiah Wright." But there's no evidence Obama said that exact quote. Boone appears to be referring to Obama's speech in Strasbourg, France, in which he said that "here have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." But Boone ignores what Obama said immediately after that:
But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.
On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated. They fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth that America cannot confront the challenges of this century alone, but that Europe cannot confront them without America.
Boone served up another purported Obama quote: "After 9/11, America didn't always live up to her ideals." But like the previous statement, that's a paraphrase. It appears to be taken from Obama's speech in Cairo, and again, it's taken out of context:
And finally, just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed by early next year.
So America will defend itself respectful of the sovereignty of nations and the rule of law. And we will do so in partnership with Muslim communities which are also threatened. The sooner the extremists are isolated and unwelcome in Muslim communities, the sooner we will all be safer.
Perhaps the NewsBusters folks are so intimidated by Boone's awesome star power that they feel no need to fact-check his work.
After yesterday's exercise in communist fearmongering about President Obama's upcoming televised speech to students, NewsBusters wants to get some answers. "What Does Obama Want with Our Children?" asks Mithridate Ombud, who is very concerned about Obama's plan "to circumvent parental authority and speak directly to our children in one week." Poor Mithridate just can't see through the fog, but nonetheless knows one thing for certain about Obama's speech: "[L]ike all things Obama does, it's spur of the moment and covert."
Let's consider that statement for a moment -- Obama's speech to students is "spur of the moment and covert." It's so "spur of the moment" that the Secretary of Education sent a letter to teachers on August 26 -- two weeks before the actual speech -- explaining what the speech will entail and the various ways in which their students could watch it. And it's so "covert" that, in addition to a letter from the Secretary of Education, the Department of Education put out a media advisory on the speech -- a media advisory that Ombud linked to just a few sentences earlier. I mean, really, it's a speech by the most recognizable man on the planet that will be televised nationwide on C-SPAN and streamed on the White House website -- Tom Clancy this isn't.
OK, so maybe it's neither "spur of the moment" nor "covert," but that's no reason why you still shouldn't be scared to death for your children's fragile minds. After all, writes Ombud, a bunch of Hollywood actors put together a video pledging to support the president, and that, perhaps, will give us a "flavor" of what "the NEA union that controls our children" will present to the kids. If you don't understand the connection, don't worry, because I don't either.
And after attacking the president for trying "to circumvent parental authority," Ombud asserts some "parental authority," announcing that "the entire cadre of Ombud children will be having a parent sanctioned skip day September 8th." Now, remember, Ombud admits having no idea what the president is going to talk about (even though the administration has been very clear the topics will not stray far from "stay in school" and "school is good"), but nonetheless considers the speech enough of a threat that it would be irresponsible not to keep the kids out of school.
The sum total of all this is that Ombud can't find a coherent argument to make against the speech other than the fact that it's Obama who's delivering it. Content is irrelevant and facts are irrelevant. Obama's doing it, so it must be bad. It's like an old Groucho Marx bit for modern times -- Whatever it is, I'm against it!
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"?