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By Tim Graham | December 31, 2011 | 5:43 PM EST

Is there anything more ridiculous than being accused of saying “despicable and ugly things” by...Al Sharpton? On Thursday’s Morning Joe, MSNBC brought in Sharpton as part of a tag-team interview with presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Isn't Sharpton a little too sharp-elbowed for the so-called civility squad at Morning Joe?

“I could argue with you about some of your ugly statements on the president and all of that, but that would probably help you in the primary if you and I got into an argument this morning,” Sharpton blustered. “Go ahead, Al. Give it to me, Al,” Santorum replied with a jovial smile.

By Tim Graham | December 31, 2011 | 2:21 PM EST

Mediaite's Nando Di Fino reports President Obama has played at least two rounds of golf in Hawaii with a high school buddy, Robert “Bobby” Titcomb, was arrested as part of a prostitution sting, after he allegedly approached an undercover police officer for sex in downtown Hawaii.

"What seems particularly interesting (“refreshing”?) here isn’t that President Obama would still hang out with a friend who had been arrested; it’s how many media outlets have either made no reference to Titcomb’s arrest, or simply stated it in passing," he wrote. "Both The New York Times and The Washington Post briefly made a note of Titcomb’s past in reporting the vacation stories. In this day and age of 'gotcha!' controversy-driven political coverage, is it surprising not to see more of a big deal being made?"

By Tom Blumer | December 31, 2011 | 9:25 AM EST

There are quite a few problems with Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's December 28 coverage ("New fee coming for medical effectiveness research") concerning a new fee (i.e., tax) which will imposed on health insurance companies for each person they cover starting tomorrow.

Several times (twice in the body and once as seen above in the headline), the story refers to the assessment as a "medical effectiveness research" fee (without quotes). Just once, in the eleventh paragraph, does Alonso-Zaldivar call it by its far more widely-known name (written as indicated): "comparative effectiveness" research. But the item which stuck out like a sore thumb with me, and should also do so for anyone else who closely followed how the stimulus bill got enacted into law as well as the Obamacare discussions later that year,, was the following paragraph (bolds are mine):

By Clay Waters | December 31, 2011 | 8:55 AM EST

Times Watch’s end-of-year awards issue celebrates the best of the worst quotes that appeared in the paper or were uttered by Times reporters and columnists during 2011.

The New York Times spent much of the year in pro-Obama defense mode, excoriating the Tea Party and conservative opposition to Obama's agenda. Yet the paper found one movement it could embrace wholeheartedly – the leftist campouts known as Occupy Wall Street. And sometimes - as when China-loving columnist Tom Friedman spouted, "If this were China they would have walked to the game in the snow, and doing calculus along the way," Times journalism was just too ridiculous to take seriously. Paul Krugman made his usual sterling showing as well, using the tragedies of 9-11 and the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to attack conservatives.

This year there were three categories of bias:

By Brent Bozell | December 31, 2011 | 8:53 AM EST

Profanity and pop music go hand in hand these days. The pop star Rihanna recently appeared on the British version of Simon Cowell’s singing competition “The X Factor” dressed in a demure plaid jumper with a prim white collar. It seemed like a bow to younger viewers (and their parents). But a glance at her black sneakers and the mood was shattered: she’d inscribed the words “F— Off.”

On her blog The Record, NPR music critic Ann Powers declared this little stunt exemplified an undeniable reality: “21st century pop music is very dirty.” In fact, “2011 saw so much boundary-breaking in pop that the lines seem forever pulled down.”

By NB Staff | December 31, 2011 | 7:56 AM EST

As 2011 draws to a close, let's look back on the year while we make some predictions for the coming one.

What was the most important event of 2011?

What was the event most over-hyped by media?

Who will be the GOP presidential nominee?

Who will win the White House?

Which Party will win the Senate? Which will win the House?

What will the unemployment rate be on Election Day?

Will the economy as measured by the Gross Domestic Product grow in 2012, shrink, or stay flat?

What will be the most shocking geopolitical event of 2012?

By NB Staff | December 31, 2011 | 7:49 AM EST

Between Bowl games, the end of the NFL regular season, basketball, and hockey, there's got to be something on your mind.

As 2011 draws to a close, what was the finest sports moment of the year?

By Tim Graham | December 31, 2011 | 7:29 AM EST

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air put it best on the latest Obama campaign video: "You know, nothing says classy in a presidential campaign like having to bleep out a word from the national campaign manager in a prepared video." Campaign manager Jim Messina tells supporters it's "bulls---" that Obama will run a "billion-dollar campaign." In the shadow of Occupy Wall Street, will the media help Obama implausibly frame his campaign as somehow a small-bore, Mom and Pop enterprise?

Some in the major media have noticed, too, like Devin Dwyer at ABCNews.com, who added "The Obama campaign has never explicitly thrown out the billion-dollar figure and aides have pushed back hard on media reports that they anticipate raising that much during the campaign. They raised a record-high $746 million in 2008. Obama has raised $87 million so far this year for his re-election fight." Is it implausible to guess they'll get to a billion dollars this time? Messina also sent this not-a-billion message in an e-mail to supporters in mid-week:

By Tom Blumer | December 31, 2011 | 12:50 AM EST

Jean H. Lee's Friday afternoon report at the Associated Press on the omnipresence of images of the late Kim Jong Il throughout North Korea reads more like an audition to be the communist nation's next propaganda minister than a wire service report.

Not once does she call the late tyrant a tyrant, or for that matter even a Communist. If you didn't know any better, you would think you're reading about some idyllic place where people are happy, content, and well-off -- not a place where oppression rules, hundreds of thousands starve, and millions more would but for the kindness of foreigners. Though there is no substitute for reading the whole relatively short thing, here are several paragraphs indicating just how bad Lee's report really is (saved here in full as a graphic for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes; HT to an NB tipster):

By Tom Blumer | December 30, 2011 | 11:58 PM EST

There are press memes which won't go away no matter what, and no matter how often disproven. One, repeated in an Associated Press report a couple of weeks ago as our troops were about to leave Iraq, claimed that "No WMD were ever found" there. The truth: Yes they were — along with 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium found in Iraq after Saddam was overthrown, specifically “the stuff that can be refined into nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel.”

Another meme which won't die and fails to pass the truth test was in an AP item by Julie Pace about President Obama's decision to defer raising the debt ceiling by $1.2 billion today. In it, she repeated the leftist line about how the national debt has grown so large (HT to an NB emailer):

By Clay Waters | December 30, 2011 | 11:12 PM EST

The New York Times disguised a left-wing political appeal under its Christmas Day editorial, “The Miracle and the Means.”

"Some years it would be nice if there really were a Santa Claus," they wrote. "Imagine it. No lists, no shopping, no gift-wrapping, no bills, no shipping costs, an extremely low carbon footprint -- and on Christmas morning the miraculous appearance of presents that find just the right balance between desire and a sort of disciplinary justice."

By Mark Finkelstein | December 30, 2011 | 6:11 PM EST

Twenty-four years ago, Los Angeles Dodgers VP Al Campanis was forced to resign his position for saying on national TV that blacks lack "the necessities" to be baseball managers and executives.  

On today's Hardball, Chris Matthews was so enjoying himself mocking Rick Perry's intelligence, that he decided to use a slightly mangled version of the same line on the Texas governor. Video after the jump.

By Tom Blumer | December 30, 2011 | 4:55 PM EST

It's certainly not the most egregious media bias or error story you'll every see. But hey, it's the end of the year and almost GOP primary time, so take a break, lighten up a bit, and enjoy this one.

On Wednesday, as shown here and based on when comments first appeared, USA Today's Chris Woodyard put up an item in McPaper's "Drive On" blog about how the funeral of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Il used decades-old Lincolns. The headline: "North Korea's elite use Nixon-era Lincolns." Figures, right? Any chance to get in a dig at a Republican or conservative. What's wrong with just saying "1970s"? Well, nothing, especially when you're proven wrong about the Nixonian lineage.

By Tim Graham | December 30, 2011 | 4:32 PM EST

Chris Matthews showed up from Java Joe's in Des Moines in the 11 am hour on MSNBC Friday to underline the liberal arrogance that in the Obama era, all the country's hatred is against Obama, and apparently liberals are utterly incapable of adding anything to the Hate Quotient.

"I heard a voice this morning a woman came up to me and said I’m really for Obama, but I want to end these years of hatred. Now if people start voting for the Republicans because there’s too much divisiveness because of Obama, that’s real trouble for the White House," Matthews said. He then declared: "In other words, the way to end the hatred in America is to get rid of the object of the hatred. Well, that’s a strange way to do things."

By Jack Coleman | December 30, 2011 | 2:17 PM EST

Leave it to a fringe leftist to tout a rarely-defended plan proposed by Franklin Roosevelt.

Angered by Supreme Court rulings that blocked many New Deal initiatives, Roosevelt in 1937 came up with what he considered an ingenious scheme to get around the court -- increasing it from 9 to 15 justices, the additional six most assuredly sharing Roosevelt's politics. (audio clip after page break)