From Bill Hemmer's Twitter feed on January 26:
On Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson and Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros accused the mainstream media of showing a "bias" by "ignoring" the story that Tucson shooting victim James Eric Fuller threatened a Tea Party leader at a town hall meeting. In fact, virtually every major media outlet covered the story immediately and repeatedly, including ABC, which Tantaros specifically singled out for attack.
From the Fox Nation on January 20:
In the week since the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, The Washington Times has published op-eds attacking President Obama over his speech and criticizing the service as a "political rally" and a "campaign event."
WorldNetDaily writer Jerome Corsi really needs to get a new hobby. As you may know, Corsi has an unhealthy obsession with proving that President Obama is not really a U.S. citizen, but rather born in Kenya. (Remember in 2008 when he got detained in Kenya while sniffing around to find proof that Obama was ineligible to run for president and then tried to suggest that Obama himself had him detained? Or when he claimed that Obama has "stolen the identity of a natural-born citizen" and is "using someone else's Social Security number"? Good times.) Well now, Corsi is claiming that Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's categorical statement that the state has records of Obama's birth translates to "Hawaii governor can't find Obama birth certificate," which was all he needed for some Drudge love.
This past December, Abercrombie announced on CNN that he had his "attorney general and the director of the Department of Health looking at what we can do" in order to create an "open process that will put those who want to disrespect the president and his parents in the proper light, which is to say they have a political agenda not worthy of any good American." Abercrombie actually knew Obama's parents, and through his relationship with them, knows that Obama was born in Hawaii. People like Corsi who repeatedly smear the president as some kind of foreign-born imposter really seem to have gotten under his skin.
In a January 18 Washington Times op-ed, Robert Knight attacked the memorial service for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, calling it the "first major campaign event of the 2012 presidential election" and asking, "When, for instance, have you been to a memorial service where cheers and yells punctuated the eulogy and where political campaign T-shirts were draped over seats or given out to mourners at the door?"
In fact, contrary to Knight's claim that the shirts provided at the service were "political campaign T-shirts," PolitiFact noted that "officials at the University of Arizona said the White House had nothing to do with the name or the logo."
Moreover, Knight attacked Obama for using the phrase "life partners" during the service, calling it a "calculated element" of Obama's speech and that "[i]n the not too distant past, a president would have paid homage to the victims' marriages without stretching for politically correct 'inclusion.'"
Knight further attacked Obama for his comments about 9-year-old victim Christina Taylor Green:
"I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. I want America to be as good as she imagined it. All of us, we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."
Well, hold on. Children, God bless them, are not morally superior. In fact, they plot and hoard and steal and throw tantrums. It takes a lifetime to burnish away the layers of selfishness that plague us all. Psalm 53 reminds us that "there is none who does good, no, not one." This idea that we can learn from innocent children is a liberal fallacy originating in Rousseau's myth of the noble savage.
In advance of Sarah Palin's interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Slate's David Weigel proposed a new definition to the neologism "Hannitize": "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview." Indeed, Hannity has become the go-to interviewer for right-wing figures following scandal or controversy.
Last week, Media Matters asked if the media would respond to Sarah Palin's interview with Sean Hannity on Monday by acting as stenographers for Palin.
True to form, they did. Several media outlets merely jotted down Palin's comments with no regard for the fact Palin's Hannity interview was nothing more than a friendly chat with a fellow Fox News employee (see: "Hannitize") with the sole goal of making Palin look good. Nor did these outlets offer much in the way of context and facts surrounding Palin's comments. It was, essentially, stenography.
For example, here's how The Washington Post treated Palin's comment on "lies":
Palin said she will continue to speak out to prevent what she called lies from damaging her politically. "Because if a lie does live, then, of course, your career is over, your reputation is thrashed and you will be ineffective in what it is that you are trying to do," she said.
Keep in mind, this is the same person who invented "death panels" -- PolitiFact's 2009 "Lie of the Year." Forget the fact that Palin has used lies to damage her own political opponents. In the Post's world, Palin is "speak[ing] out to prevent what she called lies from damaging her politically."
Is any Palin critic quoted by the Post? Nope. The Post's readers get Palin's unfiltered self-defense, which she delivered to a fellow Fox News employee during a friendly interview.
Politico doesn't fare much better in its write-up, which also ignores that this is simply a friendly Fox News forum for the Fox News employee to launch a self-defense with absolutely no pushback. Politico also thought it was necessary to allow Palin to "echo conservative criticisms" and take a jab at the memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shootings:
In addition to defending her actions and those of her political committee, Palin also went on offense for part of the interview -- accusing her liberal critics of trying to silence her, and echoing conservative criticisms that the atmosphere during President Barack Obama's speech at the University of Arizona last week was too much like a "pep rally."
Of course, this all follows the media's stenography approach when reporting on any Palin tweet, Facebook post, or friendly Fox News interview. Just write down whatever she said, offer little to no context for what she said, and allow what she said to stand without challenge.
UPDATE: In a later January 18 blog post, Politico's Keach Hagey did mention the fact that Hannity and Palin are colleagues and that Hannity "pitched [Palin] mostly a series of softballs":
Sarah Palin spent much of her first interview since the Tucson shooting casting herself not so much as a candidate as a member of a club of conservative media figures who have been unfairly maligned by the press in the wake of the shooting.
At times, she and Hannity, who has received his own share of criticism in the wake of the attacks, seemed less like a politician being interviewed by a journalist than like two colleagues commiserating -- which they also are.
He pitched her mostly a series of softballs (Sample question: "You said when the war terms are used this is not a call for violence. All that was ignored by the media. Does that frustrate you more?") and gave her a chance to respond to the criticism she got from both sides of the aisle for the language choice and timing of her video response on Wednesday.
You know it's a slow news week when the right-wing is trying to gin up controversy about TSA regulations regarding carry-on cranberry sauce.
Yes, it's come to this:
Fox Nation and Big Government, piggybacking on the current outrage over TSA's new security procedures, are now pretending that the TSA has waged a "war on cranberry sauce." Why? Because the TSA has advised holiday travelers that they cannot pack holiday-related food items such as cranberry sauce in their carry-on luggage.
Yet, these guidelines have existed for years. Back in 2007, The Houston Chronicle reported, "This year, the TSA introduced new holiday food rules to its Web site," and noted (emphasis added):
The following foods will be turned away at security checkpoints. TSA suggests packing them in your luggage, leaving them at home or shipping them in advance:
• Cranberry and other sauces; gravy
• Salad dressing, oils and vinegars
• Maple syrup
• Creamy dips
• Wine, liquor, beer and other beverages
• Jams and jellies
Pies and cakes are allowed through security checkpoints. Note: They may be swabbed for explosives.
So there you go. Travelers haven't been able to pack cranberry sauce in carry-on bags for years now. There is no sudden TSA "war on cranberry sauce."
It looks like the right-wing media will just have to find a new controversy to invent.
Numerous media figures have interviewed former President George W. Bush following the November 9 release of his book, Decision Points. Bush and his interviewers used these interviews as an opportunity to rewrite his presidency by promoting false claims and misinformation about Bush's tenure.
From the November 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Fox spent the final 24 hours before the midterm elections by continuing to relentlessly campaign for Republicans, hosting 13 GOP candidates or campaign officials, and one conservative candidate, while featuring only three Democrats.
On Fox News Sunday, Sarah Palin claimed to have evidence that reporters at Alaska television station KTVA were on tape "conspir[ing] to make up stories" about Alaska GOP senatorial candidate Joe Miller -- a claim that is entirely unsupported. Nevertheless, Fox has run with the story, using it to accuse KTVA of plotting to smear Miller.
Fox kicked off the final week before the midterm elections by almost exclusively hosting Republican candidates. Fox hosted seven* Republican candidates in the course of 24 hours, and RNC chairman Michael Steele twice, while hosting just one Democratic official, DNC chair Tim Kaine.
In an October 26 Washington Times op-ed, headlined, "Juan Williams must die; For centuries, intolerant liberals have celebrated murder," Capital Research Center president Terrence Scanlon wrote: "Juan Williams has learned a painful lesson. From the French Revolution to NPR, the message of the political left has consistently been: Agree with us -- or else." Scanlon also echoed Glenn Beck by hyping a short film by British environmentalist campaign 10:10 Global, which depicts a teacher blowing up children who wouldn't agree to reduce their carbon emissions. The organization later pulled the video and apologized following negative reaction.
From Scanlon's op-ed:
Juan Williams has learned a painful lesson. Mr. Williams was fired from his contract position as analyst for NPR after he acknowledged on Fox News that he gets "nervous" when he sees people in Muslim garb board his plane. How many Americans have experienced similar, unfortunate fears since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001? How many even in the upper-management echelons of NPR? Yet for the crime of his politically incorrect candor, Mr. Williams - a lifelong, passionate liberal - has officially been banished from the salons of liberal intelligentsia.
The Williams incident is interesting in and of itself, but it also fits into a larger unfolding narrative: As voters abandon the left in droves in the wake of failed liberal policies that have wreaked untold social and economic damage, left-wing activists, politicians and institutions become even more shrilly intolerant of those who disagree with them - at times disturbingly so.
Yes, Juan Williams has learned a painful lesson. From the French Revolution to NPR, the message of the political left has consistently been: Agree with us - or else.