According to a White House spokesman, the claim -- circulated by Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report -- that President Obama's November trip to India will cost the U.S. $200 million per day has "no basis in reality."
In a November 2 article headlined, "US to spend $200 mn a day on Obama's Mumbai visit," the Press Trust of India reported:
By noon, the Drudge Report featured a bright red link to the article that claimed: "REPORT: US to spend $200 million per day on Obama's Mumbai visit..."
Then, on the November 2 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh claimed, "$200 million a day this nation will spend on Obama's trip to India."
When Media Matters asked about the report, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich responded, "The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality. Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."
The Press Trust of India report was picked up by a number of conservative websites, including The Daily Caller, MichelleMalkin.com, and WorldNetDaily.
Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Fox Business' Eric Bolling repeated the claim after it was debunked by the White House:
The Daily Caller offers this morning a staggeringly lame gotcha attempt aimed at Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway. Reporter Jonathan Strong intimates that Conway is a hypocrite for highlighting Republican opponent Rand Paul's bizarre "Aqua Buddha" college stunt because Conway's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Duke "had its own share of notable moments while Conway was studying public policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s." But Stong's article is all about the comparatively tame antics of other members of Conway's fraternity, including some scandals that happened long after Conway graduated.
Strong begins the article by strongly suggesting that Conway has some college-era skeletons in his own closet:
When Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway started attacking his opponent for the Kentucky Senate seat, Republican Rand Paul, for college-aged hijinks that involved smoking pot and "praying" to a god named Aqua Buddha, Conway's old classmates took notice.
"Can you believe he opened that door?" classmates wondered in e-mail chains, regarding why Conway would have invited scrutiny on his college days.
The reason? Conway, in his undergrad years at work hard, play hard Duke University, was a member of the school's then-most exclusive fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), which had its own share of notable moments while Conway was studying public policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, albeit of a very different sort than the NoZe Brotherhood, Paul's group.
But the "notable moments" Strong highlights either have nothing to do with Conway, or aren't even that "notable." He writes of a 37-year-old Texan who pledged Conway's frat by pretending to be a college-aged French aristocrat, the "garden variety" pledge "hazing" the frat engaged in, and the fact that SAE had a series of scandals between 1994 and 2002 (Conway graduated in 1991).
Just in case there was any doubt about whether The Daily Caller should ever be taken seriously, this paragraph from Caller political reporter Caroline May should put the matter to rest:
Even more politically liberal commentators have noted the liberal bias of NPR. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting notes that in 2004, when there was a debate over the launch of Air America, the sentiment of many pundits was, "wait, don't we already have a liberal station: NPR?"
Now, here's what the 2004 FAIR report actually said:
News of the April launch of Air America, a new liberal talk radio network, revived the old complaint, with several conservative pundits declaring that such a thing already existed. "I have three letters for you, NPR . . . . I mean, there is liberal radio," remarked conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan on NBC's Chris Matthews Show (4/4/04). A few days earlier (4/1/04), conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Nightline, "The liberals have many outlets," naming NPR prominently among them. [Emphasis added]
See the difference? FAIR said "several conservative pundits" declared that NPR is a liberal talk radio network. The Daily Caller portrayed that as FAIR noting that liberal pundits had made that claim.
And in the process, the Caller completely ignored this portion of the FAIR report:
Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR's latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.
FAIR's four-month study of NPR in 1993 found 10 think tanks that were cited twice or more. In a new four-month study (5/03–8/03), the list of think tanks cited two or more times has grown to 17, accounting for 133 appearances.
FAIR classified each think tank by ideological orientation as either centrist, right of center or left of center. Representatives of think tanks to the right of center outnumbered those to the left of center by more than four to one: 62 appearances to 15. Centrist think tanks provided sources for 56 appearances.
So the Daily Caller took a FAIR study that debunked the claims of conservatives that NPR is biased towards liberals, ignored the debunking, and pointed to the study as evidence that liberals say NPR is biased towards liberals.
Get it? They're "skanks" because they're wearing lingerie. It's hilarious, right?
(Not that it really matters, but contrary to the Daily Caller's implication that the lingerie in question is billed as Halloween costumes, it is in fact billed as … lingerie.)
The Daily Caller today takes a shot at breast cancer awareness group Susan G. Komen for the Cure, publishing a hit piece taking the organization to task for providing funds to Planned Parenthood. The article attempts to concoct an accusation of hypocrisy by saying that "some groups allege" that abortion can cause breast cancer:
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation is a breast cancer awareness powerhouse. As its influence has grown, so too have the number of its critics, who, while appreciative of the group's good works, cringe at the fact that some of the donations to Komen end up in the coffers of abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
In addition to the debate over the propriety of allocating money to Planned Parenthood, some groups allege that studies prove abortions and certain oral contraceptives can cause breast cancer -- while organizations such as Komen deny such links.
First of all, as the article itself points out, Komen has said that it rigorously audits the funds in question to ensure they are used "for screening, treatment or education of breast cancer only." Indeed, according to Planned Parenthood, 3 percent of its health care services spending goes to abortion services, while 17 percent goes to cancer screening and prevention.
More importantly, the Daily Caller's presentation of the question of whether abortion causes cancer as a "he said/she said" matter for debate is pathetic and irresponsible.
At the Daily Caller, that's two sides of an even argument. In the real world, it's ideologues with no idea what they're talking about versus actual experts.
Over the weekend, our buddy Jim Hoft had a meltdown that the "state-run media" was "so corrupt that they will not report that a book was hurled at Obama and barely missed hitting his head." Apparently at the end of a rally in Philadelphia yesterday, someone hurled a book in Obama's direction. It is unclear who did this and why. But, in three separate posts, Hoft whined that the media simply refused to cover that this happened. It's almost as if Hoft is happy that the incident occurred.
And, Hoft got his wish. Fox & Friends has covered the story at least twice this morning, and the Drudge report is prominently highlighting the incident:
Alex Knepper's biography on Andrew Breitbart's BigHollywood and Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller websites boasts that he's been "featured by the CBS Early Show, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and other media outlets." What it doesn't say is why he's been "featured" on outlets like CBS and NPR: because he ignited a firestorm of controversy when he penned a column arguing, as ABC News put it, "that some women who survive date rape invited it."
In March 2010, undergrad student Knepper wrote a column for American University's The Eagle which argued of date rape:
Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI [frat] party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry "date rape" after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone's head and then later claiming that you didn't ever actually intend to pull the trigger.
"Date rape" is an incoherent concept. There's rape and there's not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It's not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex -- especially anonymous sex -- can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don't jump into the sexual arena if you can't handle the volatility of its practice!
As the Washington Post noted days later, the "column sparked angry online responses from scores of students, and a handful of students demonstrated outside the newspaper's offices." Director of The Women's Initiative Sarah Brown wrote a letter to the editor stating that this "is not a fun argument about an abstract concept between Alex Knepper and the crazy feminists. Real people, both women and men, hurt physically and emotionally because someone took control of their body without their permission."
Jezebel's Ann North cited Knepper's column as another "victim-blaming crap," adding that an "alarming number of jerks have come out of the woodwork to claim that attending a frat party is equivalent to consenting to any and all forms of sex. This claim is especially damaging because assault is so disturbingly common on college campuses, because it frequently goes unpunished, and because college students are young and especially vulnerable to bullshit rhetoric."
The NFL is investigating the treatment of a television reporter at a New York Jets practice:
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson told USA TODAY Monday he offered his "apology" to a female TV reporter whose treatment Saturday at Jets practice is being investigated by the NFL.
NFL and team officials said Sunday they were looking into a complaint made by the Association of Women in Sports Media that the Jets made suggestive comments to Ines Sainz of Mexico's TV Azteca during and after a weekend practice at their Florham Park, NJ, facility.
Naturally, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller sees a news story about a bunch of guys allegedly harassing a working reporter as an excuse to post a slideshow of photos of the woman under the headline "Baby got back: Meet Ines Sainz [SLIDESHOW]."
UPDATE: Several of the photos in the Daily Caller's slideshow include snarky captions that suggest Sainz had it coming. Like this gem: "The skin tight jeans — er, we mean, the sensible outfit that sparked the current controversy." Actually, it sounds like the controversy was sparked by the behavior of the New York Jets, whose owner has apologized to Sainz.
The worst analogy of the day, courtesy of Daily Caller contributor Ron Hart:
The "me, my and I" speeches Obama gives, in which he takes credit for his minor accomplishments and blames Bush for all else, no longer work. The economy has been under Democratic House and Senate rule since 2006. Obama taking credit for jobs "saved" is like the 9/11 hijackers taking credit for creating TSA jobs.
In January, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz profiled the Daily Caller under the (print edition) headline "It's the Caller, not the Holler; Tucker Carlson and company say their site will maintain nonpartisan civility." Here's a taste:
The Fox News commentator launches his new Web site, the Daily Caller, on Monday. His partner is Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide. His opinion editor is Moira Bagley, who spent 2008 as the Republican National Committee's press secretary. And his $3 million in funding comes from Wyoming financier Foster Friess, a big-time GOP donor.
As for his new partners, Friess says by e-mail: "Tucker and Neil present a huge opportunity to re-introduce civility to our political discourse. They are mature, sensible men who are very thoughtful and experienced with pleasant senses of humor and do not take themselves too seriously. They want to make a contribution to the dialogue that occurs in our country that has become too antagonistic, nasty and hostile.
Less than a year later, Tucker Carlson is publishing columns that compare the President of the United States to the 9/11 hijackers. So much for reintroducing civility to the political discourse.
Tucker Carlson has had shows on PBS, CNN and MSNBC. All were so successful that not a single one is currently on the air. And how can we forget his stint on ABC's Dancing With The Stars?
Perhaps that is why he's attempting a one-sided feud Keith Olbermann. He just couldn't stomach the fact that someone could make a show work on his former network home.
The more likely scenario is that he's looking for controversy to draw eyeballs to his next failed endeavor -- The Daily Caller, his factually challenged, misinformation pushing website.
Huffington Post notes:
Now he denies the very existence of a feud, though in doing so again laid into Olbermann, who he previously described as the most disliked person at MSNBC.
"I feel sorry for Keith," Carlson told Mediabistro. "What a sad old guy he is, a prisoner of his many phobias. I'm not feuding with him at all, as I tried to explain when I emailed him the other day from my new account, Keith [at] keitholbermann.com. He never responded. I hope he's okay."
By the way, TuckerCarlsonsNextFailedEndeavor.com is still available. Maybe I'll register the url so Tucker has a way to contact me.
Today, the front page of Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller blared the headline "Justice Sharia: Critics allege Kagan is sympathetic to Islamic law" over a large picture of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
The conservative media has been circulating this claim for months now -- though to be honest, we're more accustomed to it being paired with an image of Kagan in a turban, rather than one of her standing behind a podium.
Nonetheless, it's important to again set the record straight on this tired, Islamophobic attack, especially because The Caller has chosen to revive it just as the right is whipping up an anti-Muslim frenzy regarding the community center and mosque set to be built near Ground Zero.
The Caller reports that, according to some conservative critics (more about this merry band later), one of Kagan's "primary disqualifications" is the supposed "approval of Sharia" she demonstrated as the dean of Harvard Law School. The familiar laundry list of Kagan's alleged offenses includes "condoning the acceptance of $20 million from Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal -- who blamed the attacks of 9/11 on American foreign policy -- to fund programs on Islam," "spearhead[ing] the 'Islamic Finance Project,' a program aimed at mainstreaming Sharia-compliant finance in America," and "award[ing] the Harvard Medal of Freedom to the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who critics say is a promoter of Sharia."
None of these attacks is remotely accurate.
Check out this story on The Daily Caller's front page:
"Dems to Obama: Don't come to our districts - NYT"
Now, based on that, you'd probably assume that the New York Times had reported that at least two Democrats had told President Obama to stay away from their districts. You might even assume that the number was much greater than two, since the Daily Caller's phrasing implies the sentiment is common.
But that isn't really how right-wing "journalism" works. The New York Times article in question does not mention or refer in any way to a single Democrat, named or unnamed, who urges Obama to stay away. Not one. In fact, the bulk of the article is devoted to concerns on the part of Congressional Democrats that Obama isn't doing enough to help.
That's how right-wing "journalism" works: It takes an article in which not a single Democrat expresses any reservation about a visit from Barack Obama and twists it into a broad sentiment on the part of Democrats that Obama should stay away.
More than two days after the Daily Caller posted a column by Caller contributor Jerry Maldonado criticizing Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney, the Caller has finally admitted what we pointed out on Monday: That Maldonado is, in fact, the communications director for one of Courtney's Republican opponents:
UPDATE from TheDC: Mr. Maldonado serves as the campaign communications director for congressional candidate Janet Peckinpaugh, an opponent of Joe Courtney.
The Daily Caller did not explain why it passed off a column by a GOP staffer actively working against Joe Courtney as the work of a disinterested columnist, or what, if any, measures it has put in place to ensure that nothing like this happens again. Nor did the Caller apologize for passing off political propaganda as journalism. I can only assume they were too busy writing up their next lecture about ethical journalism, which should be good for a chuckle or two.
Two days ago, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller published a column by contributor Jerry Maldonado that was devoted entirely to criticizing Connecticut congressman Joe Courtney. The Daily Caller identified Maldonado only as an author and columnist.
Almost immediately, Connecticut reporter Ted Mann pointed out that Maldonado is, in fact, the communications director for Janet Peckinpaugh, a Republican running against Courtney. I then highlighted Mann's report here.
Given all the hyperventilating the Daily Caller has been doing about purported -- but unsubstantiated -- "coordination" between liberal journalists and the Obama campaign, passing off a GOP campaign staffer's attacks on a Democratic opponent as the work of a disinterested columnist is not only deeply unethical, it is jaw-droppingly hypocritical as well.
And yet, two days later, The Daily Caller still has not disclosed Maldonado's work for the Peckinpaugh campaign. And while the Daily Caller's misleading attacks on Journolist have drawn heavy media coverage, its own grossly and undeniably inappropriate publication of Maldonado's column has been completely ignored.
UPDATE: The Daily Caller has finally admitted Maldonado works for Peckinpaugh.
The Shirley Sherrod case wasn't a one-off, not by any means. A lot of conservative misinformation -- often generated though wishful thinking or other dubious non-reporting techniques -- starts with blogs, often more obscure than Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, but then churns quickly to the top of the right-wing media and sometimes, like the Sherrod story, even bubbles over to the mainstream. There's been a lot of play over the last two days over a purported "confirmed" list of journalists involved in the controversial (more on that later) email list and discussion known as JournoList. The list has been published on the widely read conservative site Free Republic and linked to by right-wing A-listers like Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds.
You'll be shocked, shocked to learn that this virally spreading list is about as real as a $3 bill. since he found himself on the right-win "confirmed" list despite having nothing to do with it. I saw his article and -- based on the increasingly unhinged comments I've been getting on the JournoList lately -- thought I should check to see if I had been erroneously placed there as well. Of course, I was. It's 100 percent wrong. I was never on the now-defunct JournoList at any time during its history, nor was I ever asked to be on it. In fact, I was only vaguely aware of the JournoList -- thanks to one article I read about it, a while back.
It's flattering, in a strange way, that so many right-wingers assumed I was on the JournoList. Ironically, the reasons that in the real world I would be an unlikely candidate for the JournoList are pretty much related to the reasons that I did start writing this blog more than five years ago. I had a lot I wanted to say, but I also knew that I was well out of the main loop, thanks to being based here in Philadelphia and working for a newspaper that is wonderful and scrappy but also small and lacking a national staff or presence or clout. If I was going to have an impact at all, it would never have been through a private email list -- and why would I want that, anyway? When I have anything to say, I'll say it right here. In the open, For people to read and comment on and disagree with, as a persistent posse of readers seems inclined to do.
I do think I know why I've been mistakenly included as a "confirmed" member of the JournoList. It relates to something that happened in April 2008. I was here at the newspaper live-blogging an ABC News Democratic primary debate that was taking place right here in Philadelphia between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton -- and I was outraged. Not because someone was sending me an email telling me to be outraged -- but because of what I saw on a small TV screen with my own two eyes. Instead of asking the candidates about the issues that mattered -- three of the topics not covered, incredibly, were health care, climate change, and Afghanistan -- the ABC moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos larded the debate, especially the first hour, with some of the most trivial dreck in the history of American journalism. Obama was pressed on his patriotism, on not wearing a flag pin and his reported association with 1960s-radical-turned-Chicago-constituent Bill Ayers, while Clinton was asked for the umpteenth time on what by then was a fading controversy over her trip to Bosnia. The one issue that seemed to animate millionaire Gibson was whether either candidate would raise capital gains taxes.
Then the debate ended, I stayed in the newsroom past 1 a.m. and wrote an angry, emotional screed of an open letter to Gibson and Stephanopoulos. My complaints were not partisan -- I believed that Clinton and Obama should have been asked tough or novel questions, which I personally tried to do when each appeared at the Daily News during the campaign. Notice that I wrote: "Question his policies, or question his leadership. because that is your job as a journalist. But don't insult our intelligence by questioning his patriotism.." Apparently, I was not alone in my disgust at ABC News. To this date, the letter remains by far the most widely read piece I have written over the five years of Attytood, and I received hundreds of emails as well, most in support.
A few days later -- it was 4:05 p.m. on April 18, 2005, to be exact, as I still have it -- I received an email from someone I've traded a few emails with over the years, a Columbia University professor, media critic and author named Todd Gitlin. (Now since I want to give the right-wing as much fodder as I possibly can, I should note that Todd is also...a 1960s radical...dah-da-da! He was president of the Students for a Democratic Society in 1964 and 1965 and organized the first protest against the Vietnam war; he also left SDS by the time a handful of loons proposed violent measures and in fact he's spoken out against violence his whole life, but I'm sure by tomorrow I'll be accused of paling around with a terrorist...but I digress).
Anyway, Todd asked me if I'd sign an open letter from journalists expressing outrage to ABC News. I said yes, because a) frankly, the letter was tamer than what I'd already written in the blog and b) I believe that committed journalists have an obligation to fight like hell every day for a better news media, and I felt it was important for ABC to know that other professionals -- and not just regular folks -- were among those angry over that performance. It was only last week that I learned that the letter that Todd forwarded to me arose from discussions on this JournoList that I did not even know existed in April 2008. But this is probably why I've been linked to the pseudo-scandal, while conservatives have used the open letter episode as an excuse to condemn media ethics.
Really? To this date, the only unethical conduct that can truthfully be linked back to that debate is on the part of...ABC News. For one thing, the moderators ran a video of a seeming average Pennsylvania woman-on-the-street posing a question to Obama about wearing a flag pin. They never disclosed on the air they went to great lengths to track down this specific woman because she's made a comment about Obama and the flag pin to the New York Times -- but the episode left viewers with the misimpression that this was a burning issue in the Keystone State. Likewise, the question that Stephanapoulos asked Obama about '60s radical William Ayers was suggested to him almost verbatim by conservative radio host Sean Hannity, and Stephanopoulos jumped on this with little regard over whether it was an important issue. (Hint: It wasn't.)
Yet now,. in some quarters, it is this JournoList, where reporters -- most, but not all, working for publications like the Nation with an openly liberal orientation, as well as academics and a few advocates -- discussed and debated issues and occasionally traded information, that has become at least in some quarters the major journalism scandal of the 21st Century. That's total baloney. I wasn't asked to be on JournoList, and generally I think list-servs can be something of a big time-waster, but I have no problem with JournoList and I would not have been ashamed or regretful if I had taken part of it.
This may come across as shocking, but there's a place right now where journalists and even some activists trade ideas right now, and I do take part in it. It's called Twitter, and for God sakes don't tell Tucker Carlson before he shuts that down, too. And here's the real irony -- long before there was a JournoList, there was a place where journalists got together and intentionally or not, conspired to create little political narratives, that Gary Hart was a bit of a phony or George W. Bush could relate to regular guys, and those places were the hotel bars of New Hampshire and Iowa. I'm not defending that, necessarily ...but journalists are human, and they communicate with each other. The only difference is there wasn't a creep in the Des Moines Holiday Inn with a mini-recorder sending cassettes of private comments back to Rush Limbaugh.
Were there things that some indivdiduals said on JournoList that were stupid or in a few cases hateful? Yes, but from what I've read the dumbest comments were either ignored or pushed back -- as you might expect. It was just free speech -- sometimes brilliant, sometimes dumb, often messy -- and the worst example of partisanship related to JournoList is what's happening now on the right, as some conservatives are twisting words and the facts to try and yet again bully the mainstream media into covering bogus scandals of the right, like the New Black Panther Party, or just to be afraid of actual tough journalism.
Because this is not an isolated incident. The totally contrived JournoList scandal is the latest in a very alarming trend -- one that reminds me of what we've seen happen in parts of the Middle East in recent decades, that rather than deal with the difficulties of modernity -- in the case of journalism, that would be the Internet and the rise of a class of smart, edgy and passionate young writers -- there has been a disturbing plunge into a warped brand of radical fundamentalism. Inside the mosques of that old-time journalist religion -- the Washington Post springs to mind -- there is a kind of Taliban in charge this days, encouraging journalists to wear opinion burqas and a follow a kind of newsroom Sharia law in which reporters must be pure in their words, their opinions and even their associations, and there is an angry mob of right-wingers in the city square, urging on this unholy purity crusade and the ritual stoning of any infidels.
The new Taliban ignores the unalienable fact that journalists should largely judged in one simple way, by the character of their content. A writer can hold strong opinions or even make an occasional intemperate remark and still be a great journalist whose work is hard-hitting, fair and, dare I say it, accurate. In recent weeks, we've seen successful careers ended over one comment, like Octavia Nasr of CNN, and a journalism icon like Helen Thomas destroyed by one (admittedly pretty dumb) remark, and a promising young journalist like Dave Weigel leaving the Washington Post not because of his work -- which is outstanding -- but because of a few comments he tossed out on Twitter and the dreaded JournoList (Weigel was hired today by Slate, a glimmer of hope). Now, JournoList is becoming the place where the Taliban discovers the joys of McCarthyism.
If you want to judge journalists, it's not hard to do. Don't look at whether they're on some obscure list. Just look at what they write.