As companies cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) following a campaign led by ColorOfChange, Fox News has defended the conservative legislation organization, accusing ColorOfChange of using "fascist tactics" and inviting ALEC supporters and officials on to defend their actions. ALEC, an organization that drafts model bills for conservative state lawmakers, has pushed for controversial "Stand Your Ground" and voter ID laws across the country.
The most recent issue of The Nation has an editorial on Glenn Beck's "relentless campaign to demonize" Frances Fox Piven:
But Beck has had Piven in his cross-hairs for some time. In the past few years he's featured Piven, along with her late husband, Richard Cloward, in at least twenty-eight broadcasts, all of which paint them as masterminds of an overarching left-wing plot called "the Cloward-Piven strategy," which supposedly engineered the financial crisis of 2008, healthcare reform, Obama's election and massive voter fraud, among other world-historical events (see Richard Kim, "The Mad Tea Party," April 12, 2010). Cloward and Piven, Beck once argued, are "fundamentally responsible for the unsustainability and possible collapse of our economic system." In his most recent diatribe against Piven (January 17) he repeatedly called her "the enemy of the Constitution." In Beck's telling, because Piven and her comrades on the left support civil disobedience in some circumstances, it is they--not the heavily armed militias of the radical right--who threaten Americans' safety.
It's tempting not to dignify such ludicrous distortions with a response. But in brief: Piven, throughout her career as an activist and academic, has embodied the best of American democracy. It has been her life's work to amplify the voices of the disenfranchised through voter registration drives, grassroots organization and, when necessary, street protest. The way economic injustice warps and erodes our democracy has been a central preoccupation. But passive lament has never been her game. Recognizing the leverage that oppressed groups have--and working with them to use it--is her special genius.
It's perhaps not surprising, then, that the pseudo-populist right finds her so threatening. The highly personalized and concerted campaign against Piven, already unsettling, takes on added gravity in the context of the recent shootings of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, federal judge John Roll and eighteen other people in Arizona. But while commentators debate whether the killer in that case--the mentally disturbed Jared Loughner--was inspired by the ravings of right-wing demagogues, the forgotten story of Byron Williams provides a straightforward example of the way hateful rhetoric fuels violence.
You can read the rest at TheNation.com.
From the October 15 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
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The Nation's Ari Melber did some digging and seems to have the answer on just who exactly watched the former half-term Governor of Alaska's "mama grizzlies" video in the week following its launch.
Good thing too. The last thing we'd want is reporters claiming that Palin had really stepped up her game to rally her base with this new fangled online video stuff for the YuteToobs and FaceSpace. You know, like it did in claiming Palin's recent fundraising was impressive and a sign of her seriousness when, in fact, it was about the same as last year.
From Melber's post (emphasis added):
In the week since it was first posted on Palin's Facebook page, which boasts over 1.8 million backers, the video has drawn 368,000 views. Yet despite her large following, only 33,000 people watched the video via Facebook, according to YouTube statistics. That means only one out of ten viewers found "Mama Grizzlies" through Palin's social network -- and under 2 percent of her Facebook community watched the video. So who did watch "Mama Grizzlies"?
Mostly traditional news readers and Palin detractors.
Almost a third of all views came through an article on Yahoo! News, for example, while ratings for the video ran almost two-to-one for "dislike" over "like." "The bulk of the views seem to come after it had been covered in the mainstream media," observes Pete Warden, a social media analyst who has studied Palin's Facebook strategy. "She is still reaching a lot more people indirectly through the media than through Facebook and Twitter and the other direct channels," added Warden, a former engineer at Apple.
It's quite a feat. Palin blasts the "lamestream" media while claiming to commune directly with her base, which draws extensive media coverage for an effort that actually reaches a tiny number of people. Without the media assist, though, Palin would just be sitting on a Facebook page with 2 percent participation and a YouTube video with niche numbers. (As is, "Mama Grizzlies" is not exactly Double-Rainbow material; it would place below this week's top ten political videos for overall views.) Some reporters are catching on. "I hope we don't hear from Sarah Palin about media bias anymore," Chuck Todd recently said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," "because it is amazing the ability this woman has to get media attention with as little as she does, whether it's a Twitter or a Facebook update."
Be sure to check out Melber's entire post, including the humorous postscript with an interesting comment from an unnamed SarahPAC official.
Now it appears the WashingtonPost.com's Behind the Numbers blog is trying to provide some cover for "birther" minded conservatives after the news outlet's own poll confirmed that nearly one-in-three Republicans and Tea Partiers ascribe to the notion that President Obama may not have been born in the United States.
But still, the Washington Post's "Behind the Numbers" blog downplayed the results today of its own poll (done with ABC). At least Chris Cillizza at his The Fix blog at the same site played it more accurately, to a point. Dave Weigel, who covers the right for the paper, points out that 31% of tea party supporters hold the Birther view (the same number of Republicans, as if that needs to be pointed out).
The raw numbers: Nearly one in three GOPers (31%) believe Obama was born "in another country." The same figure for Democrats is 15% and among Independents 18%. The number for those who describe themselves as "very conservative" is 36%. Of that segment 17% claim they have "solid evidence" for his birth abroad.
But Jon Cohen at Behind the Numbers attributes this all to a "misunderstanding," not ignorance, bias, political or media manipulation, or, in part, racism. He emphasizes that overall 77% do not endorse this view, noting, "Broad majorities across party lines volunteer that Obama was born in the U.S., although substantial numbers in some groups say he wasn't.." He buries the 1 in 3 finding for all Republicans way down in his report.
In a new column on his Edgeofsports.com website, The Nation sports editor and author Dave Zirin calls for supporting a national boycott of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team because of the recently passed Arizona immigration law.
This will be the last column I write about the Arizona Diamondbacks in the foreseeable future. For me, they do not exist. They will continue to not exist in my mind as long as the horribly named "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" remains law in Arizona. It's a law that has brought echoes of apartheid to the state.
The Nation's Ari Melber notes that Yuval Levin, formerly an aide in George W. Bush's domestic policy shop, is Newsweek's editor of national affairs, in which position he has written that liberals must "pull back to the center--or suffer the consequences." And warned of "Obama fatigue." And suggested the stimulus package passed earlier this year should have contained a "meaningful tax-cut component." (Melber notes that in fact the stimulus contained $280 billion in tax cuts, which seems pretty meaningful to me.)And in June, Levin co-wrote a column with Bill Kristol, declaring "ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated."
In March, a piece Levin wrote for Newsweek identified him as a "Bush veteran." But more his more recent bylines have described him simply as "editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center," so Melber asked Newsweek why Levin's partisan background is no longer disclosed. Here's the response he got from a Newsweek spokesperson:
Levin's previous article for Newsweek involved the issue of bioethics, his primary focus while at the White House. He disclosed his prior position in the body of that piece. His most recent article was not related to that topic. We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin's background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin's recent piece was. (Emphasis added.)
This is absolute nonsense. There isn't one person in a hundred who knows Yuval Levin worked in the Bush White House. Is there even one person in a thousand? In ten thousand? And how many know he co-authors attacks on "ObamaCare" with Bill Kristol and contributes to National Review Online?
Newsweek's apparent belief that because they disclosed Levin's background once, long ago, all of their readers have committed his resume to memory reminded me of Anne Applebaum's recent defense of her failure to disclose the fact that her husband is an official in the Polish government who was lobbying for leniency for Roman Polanski while she was writing in support of the same.
Applebaum, a columnist for Newsweek's sibling publication, the Washington Post, wrote: "For the record, I will note that I mentioned my husband's job in a column as recently as last week, and that when he first entered the Polish government three years ago I wrote a column about that too. I have to assume that the bloggers who have leapt upon this as some kind of secret revelation are simply unfamiliar with my writing."
This is nonsense. If a conflict exists, it isn't sufficient to disclose it once. It must be disclosed every time it is relevant. Applebaum seems to assume that Washington Post readers make a mental catalogue of every Post reporter and columnist, their relationships, and their conflicts of interest. That anyone who ever reads anything she writes will take it upon themselves to keep a running tally of her conflicts, so she need disclose them only once. That, obviously, is not going to happen. And it displays a stunning arrogance -- she thinks everyone who reads her column cares enough about her to know where her husband works.
Finally, she's misstating the nature of what she mocks as the "secret revelation." The criticism wasn't that her husband is an employee of the Polish government. Nobody cares about that. It's that her husband is a Polish government official who is currently lobbying for the very thing Applebaum is arguing in favor of. Surely she understands the difference?
(For the record, Applebaum had another, much better, defense of her failure to disclose her husband's lobbying for Polanski: she says she didn't know he was doing it.)
And then there's Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post media critic with the lucrative side-job hosting a television show for CNN. He's promised to disclose his financial relationship with CNN every time he writes about the cable news giant -- but he doesn't do so. Not even close.
What Kurtz, Levin, and Applebaum have in common -- besides a corporate parent -- is the apparent belief that as long as they disclose potential conflicts of interests once, anyone who ever reads anything they write will be completely aware of their background. That is obviously foolish -- not to mention arrogant. This may be hard for Washington Post Company journalists to believe, but most readers have more important things to do than to memorize the life story of every reporter whose reporting they might encounter.
The Nation's Ari Melber takes a look at the fight between Fox News' Glenn Beck and New York Times columnist David Brooks:
Perhaps we still do not understand the current Obama backlash.
David Brooks caused a small stir on Friday by arguing that conservative radio hosts are, paradoxically, a lot like well-behaved children. They are seen – splashed across magazine covers and endlessly profiled – but not heard, politically, since they do not swing elections.
"The talk jocks can't even deliver the conservative voters who show up at Republican primaries," Brooks observed, reminiscing about how McCain's media detractors could not stop him in South Carolina last year.
After the summer of townhalls and what's shaping up as the autumn of Glenn Beck, however, it is hard to see things through Brooks' bifocals. Besides, as the top conservative at the Times and an alumnus of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, Brooks is peering out from within the conservative media ecosystem. He is, unavoidably, in direct competition for opinion leadership with the "talk jocks" he knocks. Which makes it especially odd for him to apply an electioneering metric to opinion media.
It is no accident that the two biggest forces countering the new President do not practice electoral politics. The opposition party may whither, but there is still the movement and the man. Both have the Obama administration's attention.
There were few signs for alternative policies, let alone the alternative political party. The same is true, naturally, for their leader.
Glenn Beck has a long list of concerns about the country's direction. Yet since Obama's election, his most successful efforts have focused on attacking members of the administration and (putative) allies. He is trying to stop Obama, not jump-start the mid-terms.
By his own count, Beck began assailing Van Jones on July 23 and continued for weeks, up until the September 6 resignation. Fox aired hundreds of segments on Jones. Congressional Republicans, however, were less interested. In the past 9 months, Jones' name has only surfaced on the floor of Congress in eight instances (according to the Congressional Record). Brooks argues, however, that "Republican politicians" follow Beck at every turn:
Everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it... They pay more attention to Rush's imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer's niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician's coalition-building strategy.
Melber's piece is well worth reading in its entirety.
Well, The Nation's Ari Melber argues that it is. He picks up on something we've been noting here on CF and at Media Matters in general for some time -- that the rudderless conservative movement is being led by folks like Rush Limbaugh.
For years, independent experts and strategists in both parties all agreed that conservative media was a crucial part of the Republican Party's resurgence. Talk radio mobilized the base, with Rush Limbaugh wielding influence that rivaled most GOP senators. Fox News framed national debates and turned party talking points into conventional wisdom. It worked so well, Democrats pined for their own echo chamber, plowing money into think tanks and political media efforts to imitate the GOP model. The message machine that helped put Republicans in power, however, now looks like an albatross for the opposition party.
Let's take a step back. There has not been a single hearing on Sotomayor's nomination, but Senate Republicans are already playing defense over the party's response to the nomination. But who speaks for the Republican Party? As every politico knows, the GOP's Supreme Court vision was hijacked by Limbaugh and Gingrich, two of the most visible pundits atop the conservative media machine. While the Republicans who wield actual power in this process - U.S. Senators and especially judiciary committee members – have to angle for a single TV appearance, Gingrich holds court with his paid platform on Fox. (Rush also dropped by there Wednesday). Gingrich amplifies his views with an online regiment that is downright millennial in its scope -- including "Second Life." His instantly infamous "Latina woman racist" tweet dominated several news cycles, and his blog post recanting it topped all online political news Wednesday, (according to the news aggregator Memeorandum). And now Limbaugh is backtracking as only he can, volunteering that he might support Sotomayor after all -- but he still thinks she is a racist. Apparently racism is not a disqualifying judicial quality for him.
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