• The Red Scare Index: 35

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for last Friday, May 8, 2009:

    TOTAL: 35
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 16
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 10
    Marxism/Marxist: 3
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 6

    By Network:

    CNN: 1
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNN Headline News: 1
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    Fox Business Network: 12
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 4
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 2
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 4

    MSNBC: 12
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 7
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 4
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNBC: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    The above numbers are the result of a power search for these terms on these networks.

  • TNR/Jeffrey Rosen credibility watch

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    On Monday, May 4, The New Republic posted Jeffrey Rosen's "case against Sotomayor," in which Rosen portrayed Second Circuit judge Jose Cabranes as indicating that Sotomayor is "not that smart," based on this quote from Cabranes: "She is not intimidated or overwhelmed by the eminence or power or prestige of any party, or indeed of the media."

    The very next day, The New Yorker's Amy Davidson pointed out that Rosen clipped Cabranes' quote, and that the judge also called Sotomayor "tough and tenacious as well as smart."

    So, Cabranes called Sotomayor "smart." Jeffrey Rosen ignored that part of the quote, then portrayed the rest as indicating that Sotomayor is not smart.

    The New Republic owes Sonia Sotomayor, Jose Cabranes, and its readers a correction. As of today, May 11 -- a full week later -- it has not yet posted one.

    Everybody, including reporters, makes mistakes. That's no reason to never trust them again. But when those mistakes are pointed out, and they refuse to correct clear errors, they sacrifice credibility. Perhaps even worse, they demonstrate that they simply don't care about their credibility.

    (I have more on the smearing of Sonia Sotomayor here.)

  • Tucker Carlson don't need no stinking facts, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Tucker Carlson, in a Washington Post online discussion today:

    West Palm Beach, Fla.: Is Obama going to give the American people single-payer health care?

    Tucker Carlson: That's the plan. I'd bet my house it'll happen in the next 10 years. Of course it will result in inferior care. It has every place it's been imposed without exception.

    But here's the good news: Very rich people will still have access to the best treatment. While the rest of us are waiting 8 months for an MRI, or a year for a hip replacement, the wealthy will simply buy private medical care. It'll be a more equal system, in the way Cuba's is.

    That led another reader to point out that Carlson doesn't actually know what he's talking about:

    the wealthy will simply buy private medical care: Tucker, they do this now. And in case you forgot: statistically, Cuba's health care blows us out of the water.

    I am a childhood cancer survivor, I basically can't buy insurance on the "open" market, through no fault of my own (unless you want to blame me for my childhood error of getting cancer). I will always have to work for some company that provides coverage to employees and won't be starting my own business and improving the economy unless things change.

    P.S. I recently made an appointment for a potential medical issue I am having. My appointment is for mid July. My dental appointment I made is for September. Good thing we don't ration care like those loser Socialists huh?

    So how did Carlson respond to the reader's point about US & Cuba health statistics? He didn't. He ducked it, leaving Ana Marie Cox to answer it instead:

    Ana Marie Cox: I love it when the chatters bring the FACTS. (

    Statistics don't tell the whole story, of c -- I would not trade our system for theirs overnight, but they are startling.

    Ana Marie Cox: And, of course, I wish you continued good health. Beating cancer is a challenge of the will as well as the body -- congratulations.

    In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. health system the world's 37th-best, behind France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Greece, the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Columbia, and a host of others. (WHO no longer compiles such overall rankings.)

    More recently:

    a spate of new research shows the United States well behind other developed countries on measures from cancer survival to diabetes care that cannot entirely be blamed on the rich-poor or insured-uninsured gulf. None of this implies a specific fix for the U.S. health-care system. It does, however, say that "the best in the world" is a myth that should not be an impediment to reform.


    At $6,697 per capita in 2007, it [U.S. health care spending] is the highest in the world (20 percent more than Luxembourg's, the next highest) and more than twice the average of the 30 wealthy countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    If only it bought better care. Only 55 percent of U.S. patients get treatments that scientific studies show to work, such as beta blockers for heart disease, found a 2003 study in The New England Journal of Medicine. One reason is that when insurance is tied to employment, you may have to switch doctors when you change jobs. ... The result is poor continuity of care—no one to coordinate treatment or watch out for adverse drug interactions. Such failures may contribute to the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 annual deaths from medical mistakes just in hospitals, and to "amenable mortality"—deaths preventable by medical care. Those total about 101,000 a year, reports a new study in the journal Health Affairs. That per capita rate puts America dead last of the study's 19 industrialized countries.

    Other data, too, belie the "best in the world" mantra. The five-year survival rate for cervical cancer? Worse than in Italy, Ireland, Germany and others, finds the OECD. The survival rate for breast cancer? You'd do better in Switzerland, Norway, Britain and others. Asthma mortality? Twice the rate of Germany's or Sweden's. Some of the U.S. numbers are dragged down by the uninsured; they are twice as likely to have advanced cancer when they first see a doctor than are people with insurance, notes oncologist Elmer Huerta of Washington Hospital Center, president of the American Cancer Society. But the numbers of uninsured are too low to fully explain the poor U.S. showing.

    But none of seems to matter to the Washington Post, which lets Tucker Carlson make whatever claims he wants in these discussions, without backing them up with actual facts.

  • John Harwood, king of the 'could'

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Well, at least Harwood at the New York Times has a shtick. Every columnist needs a good shtick and Harwood's under Obama is to routinely remind readers that while the new president enjoys good political fortunes today, it could all go south very fast.

    This was Harwood back in March [emphasis added]:

    President Barack Obama enjoys robust support from the American public, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests potential bumps ahead for his ambitious domestic agenda.

    And here was Harwood last week:

    Mr. Obama currently holds the upper hand, riding high in the polls while Republicans appear chaotic and hapless. But he is racing to capitalize for good reason. Political history, and some early signs this spring, suggest that time is not on his side.

    And how about this week:

    On the economy, President Obama has a timing problem. Congressional Democrats may have a bigger one...The lag between recovery and falling unemployment carries multiple potential consequences for Mr. Obama's agenda. The lag could erode his popularity and, thus, his clout.

    OK, we get it John. You want to be first in line to claim credit if and when Obama's strong approval ratings soften. The awkward part for Times editors though, is how long are they going to let Harwood keep writing the same column, esp. if Obama shows no real signs of faltering?

  • Why Murdoch won't be able to charge for the Web

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    He wants to. He wants to follow the success that the Wall Street Journal has had in getting subscribers to fork over money for the right to log onto the Journal's website. (And soon, to sign up for Journal micro-payments for web reading.) Murdoch wants to do that with his other news properties, but he won't be able to. Why not? Because most of other news outlets are junk.

    I'll let Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff explain [emphasis added]:

    [Journal editor Robert] Thomson is saying that it would be great if News Corp. could charge for its other websites like it's charging for the Journal. But it obviously can't because New Corp.'s other sites—the New York Post, Fox News, and at the Australian and British papers—are a joke. They're unmanned, unsupported, and, with technology that's often a decade old, they don't work. That is, except for the Journal, and, also, the Times of London, a site which Thomson ran before coming to the Journal and, not incidentally, got Murdoch to make a big investment in.

  • Two Bush-aides-turned-reporters invent a Biden "gaffe"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's Joe Biden talking about his dog to a group of schoolchildren in Syracuse, New York:

    Do I have a dog? I got a great dog. Have I ever petted a dog? Oh yeah, and guess what? I got one who lives with me. The coolest, smartest dog in the world. His name is Champ. And he's a German sheppard. And he is the neatest dog ... I kid the president. My dog is smarter than Bo, his dog. [Schoolchildren laugh] I think, yeah I do. I think he is. But Bo is a beautiful dog, too.

    Here's the video. Watch for yourself. This is clearly not someone who is insulting President Obama's dog; this is clearly someone who A) loves his dog and B) is making a joke about the relative intelligence of his dog and the President's dog. Schoolchildren understand that; they laugh at the joke.

    Now here's how Christian Science Monitor reporter Jimmy Orr describes the comments, under the headline - yes, he put this nonsense in the headline! -- "Biden insults President Obama's dog at Syracuse":

    It was as though Vice President Biden time-warped back to last fall. Because on Sunday he was in full campaign attack mode.


    You've praised your dog. Why denigrate another?

    Because in campaigns you have to differentiate yourself from your opponent. And campaigns are in Biden's blood. That's when he let it be known that Bo Obama was a dolt.

    "The new dog I have is only five months old and his name is Champ," Biden told the schoolkids.

    "My dog is smarter than Bo, his dog," he jabbed.

    "I think so," he taunted. Yeah, I do."


    To watch the full shocking video, click here. To understand what Vice President Biden meant to say, watch Robert Gibbs' press briefing tomorrow.

    Nowhere did Orr indicate that Biden was clearly joking around. Perhaps he really didn't understand what was clear to the laughing schoolchildren. In any case, his descriptions of Biden in "full attack mode" are absurd, and he introduces a direct falsehood: Joe Biden did not say Bo is a "dolt." Nothing like it.

    Enter Andrew Malcolm. Here's how the Los Angeles Times reporter described the event, based on Orr's work (after referring to "Obama's dumb dog" in the headline):

    Perhaps the real Biden news of the day, however, comes this morning from Jimmy Orr over at the Vote blog. He tells us that after his commencement address, Biden stopped by the old neighborhood where he lived and visited with about 100 schoolchildren, who must have been thrilled to be called in on a Sunday for a political photo op.

    One of them asked if the VP had ever pet a dog. And Biden took the occasion to praise his new dog Champ, and to insult Obama's new dog, Bo, as being far less intelligent than Champ. Biden quickly added that Bo was "a beautiful dog too." But the damage had been done. Add that one to the gaffe book.

    Again: false. Biden didn't say Bo was "far" less intelligent than Champ. That may seem like nit-picking, but when reporters feel the need to exaggerate what politicians say in order to portray the comment as a "gaffe," that's a pretty good sign there wasn't really anything wrong with the actual comment.

    Oh, but the "damage had been done," according to Malcolm. Damage? What damage? The kids in the audience laughed at the obvious and harmless joke. Andrew Malcolm, however, exaggerated and mischaracterized the joke so that he could call it a "gaffe," continuing his bizarre war on Biden.

    What kind of person twists a politician's loving comments about his dog into a "gaffe"? What kind of person twists an innocent and playful comment that is so clearly a joke that young schoolchildren understand it into a "full campaign attack mode" insult?

    Maybe some background information is in order: Andrew Malcolm was Laura Bush's press secretary. Jimmy Orr was a spokesman for George W. Bush.

  • Somebody should introduce Greta Van Susteren to Bill O'Reilly

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Saturday morning, as you may have heard, a few hundred political reporters got together at brunch before the White House correspondents dinner. Many of them brought guests -- political figures, celebrities, people like that.

    Fox's Greta Van Susteren brought Todd Palin, perhaps because Joe The Plumber was unavailable.

    So there they are, at brunch, when a Politico reporter starts to "chat" with Palin (or, depending on whose account you believe, to attempt to interview him.) Apparently Palin did not want to be interviewed.

    So far, so good: There's nothing wrong with a reporter trying to interview someone, even at brunch. And there's nothing wrong with not wanting to be interviewed.

    So Van Susteren jumped in and announced that the conversation was "off the record." Which was a little strange, since that request would normally be made by the interviewee (Palin) or his communications staff, not another journalist. That led some to describe Van Susteren as Palin's "handler," to which she took great offense.

    Here's Van Susteren:

    On Saturday morning (before the night's big dinner) I was at a social brunch (like everyone else in the media), and brought a guest like almost everyone in the media did. A Politico reporter came up to our Fox guest Todd Palin with a pad to take notes and interview Todd Palin (it says "started to chat" but that is not what happened or what was going one is that stupid to believe that.) It was an attempt to interview him when he did not agree to it or ask for it - print paparazzi at a brunch /party!

    If Todd Palin had said something about coming there for a social event (instead of me), you know what would have happened - he would have been trashed....which would have been unfair. The reporter may have been working - but he was not. He was at a social event and not looking to be ambushed by a surprise interview.

    I did not bring a guest to be interviewed or grilled by the press but, like everyone else in the media, I brought the guest so the guest could meet people and have a good social time. And I certainly did not bring the guest so that Politico could interview him - I have enough friends in the business that I could do better if that were my motive....or I would have interviewed him myself. If you noticed, I did not interview him.

    Here is another tidbit: our guest is NOT a candidate for office - and never has been a candidate for office. Our guest is a family member of a politician. Our guest was there to simply attend a social event.

    So, when the Politico reporter started to interview my guest with pad and paper and I politely say this is a social event, off the record, I am suddenly a "handler?" a handler? Huh? Maybe I had just had good manners for a guest?

    Now, there's quite a bit of defensiveness in there, quite a bit of it amusing. But let's focus on this: "The reporter may have been working - but he [Todd Palin] was not. He was at a social event and not looking to be ambushed by a surprise interview."

    So, here's the thing: if Fox reporters are going to complain about people being "ambushed by a surprise interview," they might want to denounce Bill O'Reilly first. Otherwise, they look like frauds.

    After all, Bill O'Reilly sent his goons to follow Amanda Terkel from her home to a weekend vacation, where they ambushed her with a video camera. (And that's just one of many examples.) Yet Greta Van Susteren is indignant that Todd Palin -- who voluntarily walked into an event that was lousy with reporters -- was approached by one of those reporters for an interview? Nobody followed Todd Palin; nobody shoved a camera in his face.

    UPDATE: And, of course, Greta Van Susteren's husband is a Palin advisor. She must have just forgotten to mention that.

  • The GOP Noise Machine embraces a new era of political correctness

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In truth, despite their supposed disdain for free speech infringers, conservatives have always had way more PC media cops on the prowl, announcing what was and what was not acceptable in terms of political commentary. For instance, I believe people who opposed the Iraq War in real time were often condemned as traitors by the Noise Machine. Stuff like that.

    Under Obama, the movement has simply intensified, as the right-wing now whistles each imagined PC infraction and writes up tickets for those with dare to say what should never be said out loud. (i.e. That the Noise Machine is nuts.)

    The latest example came in the wake of comedian Wanda Sykes's performance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner in Washington, D.C., where she made a couple jokes at the expense of Rush Limbaugh. Not funny! announced PC-er Jonah Goldberg. Not only was the Noise Machine aghast by Sykes' punchlines, but they also targeted Obama for a PC infraction.

    His thought crime? He chuckled when a comedian told a joke at a roast.

    UPDATE: Read the hand-wringing comments from Rush supporters about Sykes' jokes going "over the line," and ask yourself if anybody from within the GOP ever makes that claim about the hate that Limbaugh peddles on a daily basis. Or could we just not hear their protests when Limbaugh's show recently likened the POTUS to a terrorist?

  • The New York Times morphed Obama into Spock

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Just in case folks missed it over the weekend, here's the image the newspaper came up with to accompany Maureen Dowd's column (at least it accompanied it online):

    FYI, Dowd's column was a collection of gibberish about how the new "Star Trek" movie relates to the new president and the struggling newspaper industry. Or something like that.