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  • False equivalence of the day, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Just to echo what Jamison wrote in regards to the WashPost's Ben Pershing's observation that the Sotomayor battle is unfolding just like previous SCOTUS show-downs. From Pershing's vantage point, Democrats and Republicans have assumed their predictable roles, with opponents making the exact same charges against the nominee that are always made.

    Inside the Village, they've seen this act before. Nothing new this time around.

    Because c'mon folks, Supreme Court nominees always get tagged as racists--early and often, in fact--when they face a confirmation, right? Don't act like Democrats didn't brand Roberts and Alito as racists right after their names were put forward by President Bush. We all know they did.

    Because that's what always happens in these battles, which is why the press had such a ho-hum reaction when an array of high-profile conservatives branded and demeaned Sotomayor a racist. The press didn't really blink, let alone object. Why? Because that ugly charge gets thrown around all the time during Supreme Court nominations.

    No, really.

  • Jonah "own goal" Goldberg strikes again

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Jonah Goldberg wonders:

    Would judge Sotomayor be your first pick in a lawsuit against a Puerto Rican organization if your livelihood was on the line? It may be entirely unfair to her, but I think reasonable people might think long and hard on that question.

    Goldberg seems to think he's won some sort of rhetorical point against Sotomayor by inviting readers to consider whether they would want her to preside over their hypothetical lawsuit against a hypothetical "Puerto Rican organization."

    In fact, Goldberg has inadvertently made the case for diversity in the courts. After all, Goldberg's question can easily be re-phrased: Would Judge Roberts or Alito be your first pick in a lawsuit against an organization run by white males if your livelihood was on the line?

  • Politico: "Obama talks about Jesus constantly." But Politico can't find many examples

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The premise of the Obama piece seems like a stretch, and sure enough Politico can't really substantiate its headline:

    Barack Obama invokes Jesus more than George W. Bush

    Whether Obama does or does not, I don't think really matters or is even all that newsworthy. But in terms of journalism, the Politico piece highlights how reporters there often concoct news angles based on little or no evidence and then just run with them.

    For the "Jesus" article, Politico's Eamon Javers points to only three times since taking office that Obama has referred to God during public speeches. To me, that number seems utterly ordinary and no, Javers never convinces me that Bush didn't also make three references to God during his first four months in office.

    And again, the Obama examples are utterly mundane:

    In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joined in prayer.

    At the University of Notre Dame on May 17, Obama talked about the good works he'd seen done by Christian community groups in Chicago. "I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church but to be in the church," Obama said. "It was through this service that I was brought to Christ."

    And a month before that, Obama mentioned Jesus' Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: "We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand," Obama said. "We must build our house upon a rock."

    Yet from that, Javers types up a sweeping trend story about Obama's "invocation of the Christian Messiah" and his "overtly Christian rhetoric," even though Politico can't document either.

    Also, notice that in the third example, Obama in his Georgetown speech never mentioned "Jesus," as the Politico headline claimed. Obama simply made reference to "a parable." So in truth, Politico can only find two instances to back up its storyline.

    FYI, it was Politico's Ben Smith, typing up a misleading shorthand of Javers article, who announced Obama "talks about Jesus constantly." Because that's the man-made story Politico's pushing today.

  • False equivalence of the day

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Washington Post reporter Ben Pershing:

    Here's a useful thing to remember: When it comes to judicial confirmation fights, everyone is a hypocrite. Almost every tactic Republicans are using now, Democrats used in the minority. And vice versa. It's really striking, when you've watched enough of these fights, how much everyone plays their roles according to script.

    Funny, I don't remember Democrats saying Sam Alito and John Roberts only got into college because of their race, or that once there they benefited from "preferential treatment." I don't remember Democrats attacking Alito for saying that when he hears discrimination cases, he thinks about family members who have faced similar discrimination. I don't remember Democrats trafficking in gross ethnic and gender stereotypes about either Roberts or Alito.

    So what's the evidence that Democrats have displayed hypocrisy on anything approaching the GOP's level? Pershing didn't provide any; he just lapsed into the standard "both sides are equally guilty" nonsense.

  • So dumb it hurts

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I'm not humorless, and I don't think there's anything wrong with Beltway journalists having fun. But this kind of institutional clowning from the WashPost's Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza only highlights how juvenile and purposely un-serious our elite press corps has become.

    Good grief, what would Katherine Graham say about the Post tarnishing its brand in such a thoughtless way?

  • Fox's Baier: Success due to "scrappy" attitude

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Mediabistro.com's TVNewser points to a Fresno Bee profile of Fox News' Bret Baier who took the reins of Special Report from Brit Hume about six months ago.

    Says Baier of his early success (emphasis added):

    "I have a lot of people tell me they establish a relationship with an anchor. It is about believability and trust. It is about inviting that person into your home, into your living room, every night," Baier says in a telephone interview. "It is about the product that goes on the air. It is about being true to our motto which is 'being fair and balanced.'

    "I am proud of what we have been able to do and I think our numbers and the network numbers show that we are striking a chord."

    Too bad the "chord" Baier and his Fox News buddies keep striking is so badly out of tune.

    The piece goes on to note that Baier attributes Fox News' success to its "scrappy" early days as a new kid on the cable news block. How touching, they only had bagels and a moving truck (again, emphasis added):

    Baier knows what it means to fight for viewers. He's been with Fox News since 1998 when he started the network's Atlanta bureau out of his apartment only two years after the channel launched.

    Two years later, the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore rested on "hanging chads" in Florida and a Supreme Court decision in Washington, D.C. Baier was dispatched to Florida.

    "I remember CNN had all of these trucks. And they had this buffet set up. We were working out of the back of a Ryder truck and eating bagels," he recalls. "That is the beauty of Fox. We have always been scrappy."

    I don't know if "scrappy" is the right word for what Fox News has "always been."

    Seems to me there may be an extra letter in there somewhere.

  • Wash. Times Gaffney: "There is mounting evidence that the president ... actually may still be [a Muslim] himself"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    GAFFNEY: America's first Muslim president?

    During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton -- someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a "white male" -- was dubbed "America's first black president" by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president.

    This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim any more than Mr. Clinton actually is black. After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich.

    What little we know about Mr. Obama's youth certainly suggests that he not only had a Kenyan father who was Muslim, but spent his early, formative years as one in Indonesia. As the president likes to say, "much has been made" -- in this case by him and his campaign handlers -- of the fact that he became a Christian as an adult in Chicago, under the now-notorious Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright.

    With Mr. Obama's unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls "the Muslim world" (hereafter known as "the Speech"), there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself. Consider the following indicators:

    • • Mr. Obama referred four times in his speech to "the Holy Koran." Non-Muslims -- even pandering ones -- generally don't use that Islamic formulation.
    • • Mr. Obama established his firsthand knowledge of Islam (albeit without mentioning his reported upbringing in the faith) with the statement, "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed." Again, "revealed" is a depiction Muslims use to reflect their conviction that the Koran is the word of God, as dictated to Muhammad.
    • • Then the president made a statement no believing Christian -- certainly not one versed, as he professes to be, in the ways of Islam -- would ever make. In the context of what he euphemistically called the "situation between Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs," Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day ". . . when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) joined in prayer."

    Now, the term "peace be upon them" is invoked by Muslims as a way of blessing deceased holy men. According to Islam, that is what all three were - dead prophets. Of course, for Christians, Jesus is the living and immortal Son of God.

    In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the Speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah -- notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood -- to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton's fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison.

    Previously: Wash. Times' Gaffney made false and baseless claims about Obama's birth certificate, purported "ties" to Khalid al-Mansour

    Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.

  • Because Politico is really just a GOP bulletin board

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And so whatever hopes and aspirations Republicans might have, no matter how far-fetched, means Politico will cover it as news.

    Witness this week's beaut:

    Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina

    Republicans are clinging to the what-if that Obama's bureaucratic decision to help bail out General Motors will be the political equivalent of President Bush's epic and historic failure to help the city of New Orleans as it drowned following Hurricane Katrina. Yeah, that sounds about right.

    But it's true, even GOP player Grover Norquist said it was so:

    "This is somewhere in between Baghdad and fixing the flood in Louisiana."

    Obama's decision to try to help GM work its way back to profitability is just like Bush's decision to preemptively invade Iraq and his failure to rescue New Orleans.

    Of course, professional Republican spinners are free to tell whatever kind of tale they want. But Politico ought to be embarrassed to treat the fanciful scenarios as news.

    Also, please note that the Politico article basically consists entirely of quotes from Republican members of Congress criticizing the GM bailout. That's all Politico ever needs to justify an article because if Republicans are criticizing Obama it's news. C'mon people. Keep up.

    BTW, the Politico article is cribbed from a column conservative Byron York wrote last week for the Washington Examiner:

    We might be catching a glimpse of Obama's tipping point with his handling of General Motors' bankruptcy, and Chrysler's before it. The government takeover of the automakers is by far the most unpopular thing Obama has done so far. And it's not just unpopular -- it is partisan, appealing to the base of his party and virtually no one else.

    Follow that logic? Lots of Americans are not happy that the government is bailing out GM, but Obama did it anyway; therefore, his job approval rating will likely soon crater. If you say so, Byron. But it strikes me as a bit odd to think that when pollsters call Americans and ask them the very broad question of whether or not they think the POTUS is doing a good job, they will answer that question based on how Obama handled the forced bankruptcy of General Motors. I actually can't think of an issue less significant in terms of today's presidential polling results (in terms of what impacts most people's day-to-day lives), but that's just me.

    UPDATE: Oh yeah, Obama's overall job approval rating has gone up since he signed off on the GM bankruptcy deal.