• The Weekly Standard and its Arabic freak-out

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    If we've confirmed anything this week about the GOP Noise Machine it's that its members' heads pretty much explode at the mere mention of Islam or Muslims in the context of the Obama president. It simply releases the inner loon in all the right-wing players. Unhinged barely begins to describe their mostly comical/hysterical reactions.

    We saw it when Obama pointed out to a reporter this week that the United States played home to lots of Muslims, and we've seen the raging undercurrent throughout its collective meltdown over the president's trip to the Middle East.

    The sheer xenophobia though, and the blatant disdain for all things Islamic and Arabic, doesn't get much more transparent that this kooky blog post at the Weekly Standard in response to Obama's two-syllable response to the king of Saudi Arabia: "Shukrun," which is Arabic for thank you.

    Do we even have to tell you where this spooky Arabic discussion immediately went? From the Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, under the conspiratorial headline "Does Obama Speak Arabic?":

    Obama has said before that he speaks "barely passable Spanish" and "a smattering of Swahili," as well as some Bahasa from his youth in Indonesia. But Obama has at other times denied speaking a foreign language, saying in July of last year, "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!"...One wonders if the president hasn't been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran. "

    Goldfarb does his best to raise doubts about whether or not Obama secretly speaks Arabic, noting that while in Saudi Arabia he spoke "a little" Arabic.

    To recap, Obama uttered "shukrun" in public, but at the Arab-hating Weekly Standard that set off all kinds of alarms bells.

    Now, if Goldfarb can just locate Obama's real birth certificate...

    UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico also pretended Obama's "shukrun" was a big deal; that perhaps we're seeing the real Obama now that he's off the campaign trail:

    And the remarks before his meeting with King Abdullah, distributed just now by the White House, offer one more thing he wouldn't have done on the trail: Say 'thank you' in Arabic.

    Right, because how many Arab heads of state did Obama meet with while campaigning for president in 2008? Oh yeah, none.

  • NARAL's Mary Alice Carr in Wash. Post op-ed: "Why I Turned Down O'Reilly"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From a June 4 op-ed in The Washington Post by Mary Alice Carr, vice president of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice New York:

    Let's face it: Bill O'Reilly is not only aware of his power and his reach, he's damn proud of them.

    So I went on his show, time and again, even though many other progressives discouraged me. I went because I know what O'Reilly knows: It's the most-watched show, and I thought it was imperative that his audience also hear our viewpoint.

    I also know that when you have a bully pulpit, you need to be held accountable for what you preach.

    O'Reilly is being incredibly disingenuous when he claims that he bears no responsibility for others' actions in the killing of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday. When you tell an audience of millions over and over again that someone is an executioner, you cannot feign surprise when someone executes that person.

    You cannot claim to hold no responsibility for what other people do when you call for people to besiege Tiller's clinic, as O'Reilly did in January 2008. And this was after Tiller had been shot in both arms and after his clinic had been bombed.

    O'Reilly knew that people wanted Tiller dead, and he knew full well that many of those people were avid viewers of his show. Still, he fanned the flames. Every time I appeared on his show, I received vitriolic and hate-filled e-mails. And if I received those messages directly, I can only imagine what type of feedback O'Reilly receives. He knows that his words incite violence.

  • ABC News thinks Sean Hannity's anti-Obama screeds = news

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Perfectly capturing the mindset of our 'liberal media', which treats right-wing hate radio hosts as being deeply insightful and important, ABC's The Note posts this news bulletin:

    ABC News' Rick Klein reports: Conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity today called President Obama's speech in Cairo part of "an apology tour" that conveys a sense that America has been "arrogant."

    BTW, The Note offered no context, rebuttal or fact-checking in its Hannity report. It was just Stenography 101.

    UPDATED: See more, here.

  • NYT's Sorkin responds to criticism of his Morning Joe comment suggesting that there are no "successful unionized compan[ies]"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From a prepared statement issued by New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin to TPM Media:

    Boy did I touch the third rail! My off-handed comment was admittedly flip. I apologize for that. It was meant to provoke a conversation.

    I did not mean to suggest that there are literally no successful companies that employ union workers. Of course there are! Your readers have provided a good list (though I might quibble with some of the names.)

    I made the unscripted comment with my financial columnist hat on in the context of the problems at GM. That's what the discussion was about on the program. And when you look at some of the once great iconic American industries that have faltered -- automobiles, airlines, steel, apparel, etc -- there is a fair question worth asking about whether those industries were helped or hurt by their unions. But let's leave that debate for another day.


    Morning Joe journos can't name a successful unionized company, even though one signs their paychecks

  • UPDATED: See Politico for how the law has nothing to do with Sotomayor's nomination or the press coverage. Zero.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The press continues to give conservatives a free ride with their attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor by failing to point out that the conservative opposition to her nomination has virtually nothing to do with her legal opinions. The conservative movement is now unleashing a general interest smear campaign, while the press remains mum and pretends it's still about the law.

    The latest Politico installment comes from this article:

    Lindsey Graham: Sotomayor has 'character' problem

    The South Carolina Republican senator indicated today he will likely not vote for Sotomayor's confirmation. Why? Because of her "ideology," because of her "temperament," and because of her "character." Note what Graham did not address in his very public attack on Sotomayor: her legal writings. (At least Politico made no reference to it in the article.)

    For decades the ground rules for Supreme Court nominations were simple. If the party out of power thought the nominee was not sufficiently qualified for the Supreme Court, that the nominee did not have enough experience or was not being forthcoming about his/her judicial philosophy, than some members opposed the nominee.

    With Sotomayor, conservatives aren't even bothering to question her legal resume or her legal writings. They're simply attacking her "character," and the press doesn't say boo.

  • Michelle Malkin can't explain away O'Reilly's "Dr. Killer" rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is an argument the right-wing is desperate to make this week in the wake of the domestic terrorist who is accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, which was quickly followed by news that an American Muslim had killed an Army recruiter in Arkansas. The argument that GOP Noise Machine leaders like Malkin want very badly to make is pretend the circumstances surrounding both killings are exactly the same; if media conservatives are to blame in any way for Tiller's death, than media liberals are to blame for the killing of the recruiters because liberal pundits created a dangerous, anti-military atmosphere

    Yet Malkin's recent column only highlights how there's no connection between the two events. (As CF earlier noted, that's not the only hole in Malkin's column.)

    Malkin is desperate the link the two shooting because right-wing pundits, like Bill O'Reilly, are under fire in the wake of Tiller's murder for the kind of vigilante rhetoric they used against the abortion provider over the years. They're under fire because people are asking the rather obvious question of, if the relentless hate language pinpointed at Tiller by the likes of O'Reilly and others in the conservative media helped foster a dangerous atmosphere where a right-wing terrorist would put those words into action and eliminate Tiller.

    Not fair, cries Malkin, who clings to the Arkansas tragedy as proof that liberals are guilty of the exact same thing; that liberals in the media created a dangerous atmosphere with their anti-recruiter rhetoric, which then prompted a killer to put those words into action and eliminate one recruiter. (Glenn Beck made that very claim on his radio show yesterday.)

    Slight problem. Neither Malkin nor anybody else on the right this week can find any hateful, violent anti-recruiter rhetoric used by any liberal media personalities. Why can't they find the rhetoric? Because nobody on the left with any sort of national platform has targeted Army recruiters in recent years. Period. (If they did, Malkin would have included the damning quotes in her column. Either that, or she needs to hire a new researcher.)

    There are no gotcha, hateful get-the-recruiter quotes to hang around the necks of Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow--which Malkin and company are desperate to do--for the simple reason that high-profile media liberals haven't led dangerous crusades to target military recruiters the way O'Reilly led a dangerous crusade against Dr. Tiller.

    As a rule, media liberals don't traffic in irresponsible, militia-style rhetoric. Conservatives like O'Reilly and Glenn Beck do though, and now conservatives can't make it go away.

  • MSNBC's continued embrace of Pat Buchanan shows it still hasn't learned from Savage, Imus, Matthews fiascoes

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Given Pat Buchanan's history of clear bigotry - most recently demonstrated in his reminder last night that he supported and continues to defend a white supremacist - there really isn't any good reason for MSNBC to continue putting him on the air. The man is a bigot, plain and simple. In light of the hot water MSNBC has gotten into in the past for bigoted comments by its employees, you would think they would want to distance themselves from the likes Buchanan.

    But what's really extraordinary is that MSNBC brings Buchanan on air to talk about race issues. It gives Pat Buchanan a platform from which to call other people racists. Granted, if there's someone who knows racists better than Pat Buchanan does, I can't think of who it would be. But his is not the kind of expertise MSNBC should be inflicting upon its viewers.

    Pat Buchanan's idea of a good Supreme Court justice was someone who said "I believe that segregation of the races is proper ... and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I yield to no man in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy and I shall always be so governed." Pat Buchanan says calling that person a racist is a "smear."

    Paying Pat Buchanan to opine about the Supreme Court, and to call other people racists, is nothing but a sick, twisted joke.

    But that's just what MSNBC is doing. Here's a compilation of some of Buchanan's recent vile and hypocritical attacks on Sonia Sotomayor: