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By Ken Shepherd | March 11, 2011 | 5:51 PM EST

Hundreds if not thousands of people are dead due to a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But at least it gave Barack Obama an avenue to remind everyone he was born in Hawaii. That's the silver lining for MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

"Was this sort of a good opportunity for the president to remind everybody that he grew up in the United States and Hawaii?"

By Clay Waters | March 11, 2011 | 5:45 PM EST

Friday’s New York Times off-lead story from Madison by Monica Davey and A.G. Sulzberger, in the aftermath of a defeat for public-sector unions in Wisconsin, spun the win by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as a long-term political victory for Democrats: “Wisconsin Curbs Public Unions, But Democrats Predict Backlash.” The online headline was even more blunt: “In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Big Gift.” Walker has evidently awoken “the sleeping giant” of labor unions (as if they had previously stayed out of politics).

By contrast, there was no such wishful thinking or hunt for the bright side for the losers in the aftermath of the fiercely contested passage of unpopular Obama-care last year. Adam Nagourney’s front-page “political memo” of March 23, 2010, “For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too,” suggested Republicans could pay a political price for opposing Obama-care. (It didn’t quite work out that way.)

By Matt Hadro | March 11, 2011 | 5:10 PM EST

On Friday in its 7 a.m. Eastern hour, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" headlined Thursday's congressional hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims – but only played clips of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim-American who represents only one side of the issue. The show then interviewed him for nine minutes, a lengthy interview for one person on the morning show.

While Ellison received some tough questions, no clips were played of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who is chairing the hearings, nor of Melvin Bledsoe or of Abdirizak Bihi, witnesses who testified about loved ones who were radicalized by Islamic extremists. Bihi's nephew joined a Somali Islamic militia while Bledsoe's son allegedly shot up an armed forces recruiting center in Arkansas.

Later on in the 8 a.m. Eastern hour of the show, "Morning Joe" hosted liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson to discuss the hearings. Robinson dismissed King's hearings in his March 11 column entitled "A Modern-Day Witch Hunt."

(Video after the break.)

By Jack Coleman | March 11, 2011 | 4:34 PM EST

Liberals rarely hesitate to express their disdain for Ronald Reagan, except when it's convenient to compare him to Barack Obama. 

Now comes a novel criticism of Reagan from radio host and environmental lawyer Mike Papantonio -- the Great Communicator as Almost A Mass Killer.

Here's Papantonio explaining this while guest hosting on Ed Schultz's radio show yesterday, to a caller skeptical of demands for nationwide strikes in support of  public-sector unions (audio) --

By Kyle Drennen | March 11, 2011 | 3:51 PM EST

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, following a report that portrayed congressional hearings on radical Islam as bigoted political theater, correspondent Seth Doane profiled a Muslim family in Tennessee and suggested they were indirect victims of the testimony on Capitol Hill: "The Sbenaty family is getting tired of defending their religion."

Anchor Katie Couric introduced Doane's report this way: "...most of the more than two and a half million Muslims living in this country want it known they are patriotic Americans." As if the hearings somehow accused all American Muslims of being unpatriotic. Doane began by proclaiming: "Every morning at his Murfreesboro, Tennessee, middle school 14-year-old Salim Sbenaty honors his country [by saying the Pledge of Allegiance]. But today, while he was taking his English exam, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were examining extremists within his religion, Islam."

By Rudy Takala | March 11, 2011 | 3:46 PM EST

Amid the media's vilification of Rep. Peter King, their continuing coverage of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison's "tearful struggle" stands in stark contrast.

"Amid the raw feelings of Thursday's House hearings on domestic Islamic radicalization, Rep. Keith Ellison could not fight back the tears" as he recounted a story about Mohammed Salman Hamdani. Rep. Ellison "choked up and spoke haltingly of how some tried to 'smear' Hamdani because of his faith," declared the Minneapolis Star Tribune on March 10. The manner in which Hamdani was defamed, and the identities of the guilty, has remained ambiguous to date.

Echoing Rep. Ellison's Twitter post "America is big enuf for all of us," USA Today declared "Rep. Keith Ellison" has made it clear "America is big enough for us all." Cursorily noting that "Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. vowed not to bow to 'political correctness,'" it went on to give an in-depth reaction provided by a talk show host based out of Minnesota: "As I was wiping my tears," she said, "I was thinking what is it about my faith that is not being accepted as an American? My faith? My scarf? My ethnicity?"

Absent from all of the media's coverage of Rep. Ellison's weeping is the Title 1 of Section 102 in the Patriot Act passed by Congress after 9/11:

By Doug Ernst | March 11, 2011 | 3:29 PM EST

At one time kids had posters of their favorite artists on bedroom walls. Today’s kids will have pictures of their favorite artist on their condom wrappers.  Multi-platinum selling Ke$ha will have her image imprinted on 10,000 “special edition” condoms.

By Christopher Neefus | March 11, 2011 | 2:41 PM EST

A prominent GOP senator on energy issues accused President Barack Obama Thursday morning of having set an “explicit policy goal” of making energy prices more costly for Americans.

“My message today is simply this: higher gas prices - indeed, higher prices for the energy we use - are an explicit policy goal of the Obama administration,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla), ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Let me put it another way: the Obama administration is attacking affordable energy.”

By Tim Graham | March 11, 2011 | 1:58 PM EST

If NPR wanted to establish that they’re not liberals, they probably wouldn’t send out radical left-wing ranters like Bill Moyers on their behalf. At Salon.com and at The Huffington Post, Moyers (and Michael Winship) drag out all the rhetoric about how conservatives are unloading another “fierce and often unscrupulous” attack, seeking “to extinguish the independent reporting and analysis they find so threatening to their phobic worldview.”

Just as public radio struggles against yet another assault from its long-time nemesis -- the right-wing machine that would thrill if our sole sources of information were Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and ads paid for by the Koch Brothers -- it walks into a trap perpetrated by one of the sleaziest operatives ever to climb out of a sewer.

By Lachlan Markay | March 11, 2011 | 1:31 PM EST

Sue Schardt, director of the Association of Independents in Radio and a non-board member of NPR's Distribution/Interconnect Committee, has a firm grasp on arguments against the organization receiving federal funding. Criticisms of NPR "do have some legitimacy," she noted, and "we must, as a starting point, take on board some of this criticism."

Scardtnoted during the board's Feburary 25 "public comment" period that "we unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite."

As a consequence, Schardt added, while the journalism NPR produces may be of high quality, the organization really only serves, by her telling, 11 percent of the United States. In light of that fact, she added, "we need to carefully consider whether we warrant public funding and, if so, what the rationale would be."

By Kyle Drennen | March 11, 2011 | 12:59 PM EST

On Thursday's CBS Evening News, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes implied that the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims was simply a political show put on by committee chairman Peter King: "Ignoring calls from Democrats to cancel his hearing...King embarked on the inquiry in a room newly decorated with fiery images from 9/11."

Cordes later declared that "King's own past assertion that most U.S. mosques are run by radicals" resulted in "poisoning the atmosphere" of the hearing. She remarked on how King's "relations with Muslim leaders there [in his Long Island, NY district] deteriorated after 9/11." A sound bite was then featured of Dr. Faroque Kahn of the Islamic Center of Long Island, who labeled King a "Muslim-basher."

By Clay Waters | March 11, 2011 | 12:47 PM EST

Wrapping up the New York Times' coverage of Rep. Peter King’s Congressional hearings Thursday on Islamic radicalism in the United States:

The front-page New York Times story Friday on King’s hearings strangely featured not a hard news story, but a quasi-review by television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley, “Terror Hearing Puts Lawmakers in Harsh Light.”

One member of Congress broke down and cried. Another was so incensed that she waved a pocket-size copy of the Constitution and declared, “This breathing document is in pain.” And there were so many angry charges of McCarthyism and countercharges of “political correctness” that it sometimes seemed that the topic at hand on Thursday in Washington was the radicalization of the House Homeland Security Committee, not American Muslims.

Why put “political correctness” in delegitimizing quotes but not “McCarthyism”?

By Ken Shepherd | March 11, 2011 | 12:33 PM EST

Two men testified yesterday before a U.S. House of Representatives panel about how their loved ones were radicalized by Islamist extremists and how local mosque leaders did nothing to help alert U.S. authorities of the potential danger.

Yet accounts of their testimony were buried in the Washington Post's front page March 11 story about the Homeland Security Committee's March 10 hearings formally entitled an inquiry into "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response."

Dismissing the radicalization hearings as "Lots of drama, less substance," Post staffers David Fahrenthold and Michelle Boorstein spent the first five paragraphs devoted to Rep. Keith Ellison's (D-Mich.) emotional testimony.

Fahrenthold and Boorstein then admitted there was substance to the hearings, noting in paragraph six how:

By Noel Sheppard | March 11, 2011 | 12:31 PM EST

If New York Times editor Bill Keller was a woman, conservatives would be calling the battle he's having with Arianna Huffington a liberal cat fight.

Given his possession of a Y-chromosome, those on the right have to settle watching two left-wing media tycoons squabble over which is the bigger hypocrite:

By Lachlan Markay | March 11, 2011 | 11:52 AM EST

A former FBI informant who helped foil a bomb plot at the 2008 Republican National Convention has sued the New York Times for libel and defamation.

A Times story from February 22 claimed that Brandon Darby had "encouraged" others to bomb the RNC, when in fact he had been essential to law enforcement efforts that disrupted the plot. Evidence shows that the Times was aware of the error as early as March 3, yet the online version remains uncorrected. Applicable precedent holds that a publisher may be liable for continued publication of defamatory material, even if it was thought to be true when published, if the publisher does not make a sufficient effort to remove that material after being made aware of its inaccuracy.

"Though having to fight a Goliath that buys ink by the barrel is the last thing I wish to do," Darby said in a Thursday letter to the Times, "the New York Times has left me no choice." Darby said that he could not "allow a lie of this seriousness and magnitude about my character and integrity to go unanswered" (h/t Matthew Vadum).