A true "watchdog press would be all over" President Obama's "moving the goalposts" on the federal budget, NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes told Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney on Monday's Varney & Co.
Instead, the media are falling down on the job, failing to note how the president has broken promise after promise on federal spending, both from his 2008 campaign and subsequently as president:
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has released its 2013 pity party -- er, annual report -- on the State of the News Media (home page; full overview).
Two things struck me in my initial scan-through: First, the whining about newsroom cutbacks, which are largely related to pervasive bias and misplaced priorities; second, the characterization of newsmakers' improved ability to take their cases directly to the public "without any filter by the traditional media" as some kind of automatically negative trend.
We should give credit to the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, with help from AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and writer Alan Fram, for calling out politicians and other gun-grabbers who have been abusing a two decades-old gun-related statistic and passing it off as if it's still factual.
That's nice, but Woodward could have saved many words, mountains of paper, and tons of bandwidth by telling readers in plain English that claims such as one made President Barack Obama that "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check" have never, ever been true. Instead, the AP reporter used 13 paragraphs, at one point excusing researchers who came up with a 30-40 percent estimate even "with a clear picture eluding them." There was never any defensible basis for their "estimate." Excerpts from Woodward's Wednesday item following the jump:
ABC News really knows how to cause a coffee spit-take. All you have to do is introduce George Stephanopoulos talking to President Obama and put these hyperbolic words on screen: “No Holds Barred.”
Someone should tell the geniuses at ABC that’s a term suited for competitive wrestling. It doesn’t describe Democrat chit-chat that demonstrates about as much as dramatic confrontation as other morning TV fare, such as “Bubble Guppies” and “Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends.”
In an interview with former Bill Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos at ABC (transcript here), President Barack Obama claimed that “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Despite his claim, no one can know that for sure, but it's at least consistent with what he said during the 2012 presidential campaign ("we don't have to worry about it short term").
Obama's elaboration on the debt topic, however, was not consistent: "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place." Ten years is long-term by any reasonable definition. His statement directoly contradicts what he said In October 2012: "... it is a problem long term and even medium term." Of course, ABC's subsequent coverage of that interview by Jonathan Karl didn't note the President's change of tune, and went further to assist Obama by presenting a misleading visual and by misstating the relative size of this year's officially projected deficit to that seen in fiscal 2009.
In Monday's New York Times, in a report which appeared online late Sunday, reporters Richard W. Stevenson and John Harwood devoted considerable space to the idea that President Obama's latest "outreach" effort is primarily an attempt to "salvage a big deficit-reduction deal," and not a political ploy to show voters in the 2014 congressional elections that he's really interested in achieving a compromise when no genuine desire exists.
Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard believes it's the latter ("For Obama, It's All About 2014"), as should anyone, probably including the reporters just cited, who is on the mailing list of Obama's permanent campaign known as Organizing For Action. On Thursday, three days before the Times reporters tried to convince America that Obama is in deal-making mode, OFA, which self-evidently tailors its message to the White House's true desire went into over-the-top scaremongering mode in an email from proven prevaricator Stephanie Cutter (bolds are mine):
While NBC and CBS both highlighted a quote from an anonymous senior White House official labeling President Obama's recent budget meetings with members of Congress "a joke," ABC managed to leave the controversial remark out of its coverage of the budget negotiations, with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos even failing to ask the President about it in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
In a National Journal article posted Tuesday morning, Ron Fournier recounted: "'This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we're doing it for you.'"
Despite billing his interview with Barack Obama as "no holds barred," Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday skipped several tough questions and only gently quizzed the President on others. On the issue of the closing of White House tours due to sequester cuts, the former Democratic operative delicately wondered, "Was canceling them really necessary?...So, no reconsideration?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Other than this brief query, Stephanopoulos showed no interest in whether the administration hyped the sequester cuts to an over-the-top level. (Perhaps, this could be because ABC did the same thing. GMA's Josh Elliott on March 1 pronounced that "armageddon" had arrived, leading to the "vaporizing" of jobs and criminals walking free.) Instead, Stephanopoulos ridiculously requested Obama to weigh in on the dangers of an American pope: "...There seems to be some concern among Catholics there shouldn't be an American pope because that pope would be too tied to the U.S. government. What do think of that?"
Some in the media have reported on the Obama administration reneging on its promise to be transparent and open. The president’s drone policy is a testament to its commitment to secrecy. The creation of a secret kill list is also another instance where Obama has betrayed a campaign promise to his liberal base. So, why aren’t watchdog groups vociferously protesting the president’s 180-degree flip on this position?
Paul Thacker wrote on the left-leaning Slate website yesterday that Obama is no different from Bush in stonewalling FOIA requests, and skirting civil liberties – but gets away with it because of his party affiliation:
George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative turned journalist, has scored an "exclusive" interview with Barack Obama. According to TV Newser, the taped conversation will appear on Tuesday's World News, Wednesday's Good Morning America and Nightline. If it's anything like Stephanopoulos's past interviews, it will contain a number of softball questions. [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
On September 09, 2010, Stephanopoulos worried about how the job was impacting the President's family life: "You know, when you're going through these hard times, how much of it bleeds through to them? And how do you protect them from it?" He also highlighted a pastor in Florida who threatened to burn copies of the Koran. The anchor sympathized, "You're President of the United States. You have to deal with the fallout. And here's a pastor who's got 30 followers in his church. Does it make you feel helpless or angry?" In total, Stephanopoulos devoted 16 minutes to Obama.
President Barack Obama used effusive praise and gentle humor in an attempt to smooth over his recently strained relationship with members of the “mainstream media” during the 128th annual Gridiron Club Dinner on Saturday evening in Washington, D.C.
“I am grateful for all the journalists who do one of the toughest jobs there is with integrity and insight and dedication -- and a sense of purpose -- that goes beyond a business model or a news cycle,” the Democratic White House occupant told approximately 650 invitation-only members of the press during the function at which TV coverage was not allowed.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, the CNN panel scoffed at the media for getting "manipulated" by the White House last week into hyping Obama's meetings with the GOP as a "charm offensive." CNN's own reporting shows that it played right into those talking points.
"I love how easily the press corps is manipulated," remarked The Washington Post's Dana Milbank. "So, the President takes a few senators out to dinner at the Jefferson Hotel and has lunch with Paul Ryan, and suddenly, he's reaching out and there's all these efforts to have kumbaya. He's had two meals." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
For decades, members of the elite media have told Americans to trust that their political coverage is objective and fair. A new poll released today indicates that most of the people simply do not believe that.
The good news is that 46 percent of Americans agree with the correct statement that the media are “excessively sympathetic” to President Obama and that only 17 percent believe the media are fair. The bad news is that 28 percent maintain the delusion that the press “deliberately tries to hurt Obama.”
In case you missed it, the February jobs report on Friday contained some encouraging news. National Journal’s Michael Hirsh wrote that the BLS numbers gave President Obama “what he’s wanted for four years: an unemployment rate that’s below where he started as president, 7.7 percent.” But Hirsh was guarded in his optimism, also acknowledging that “things are not really as good as the numbers suggest, and they are all but certain to get worse.”
No such considerations entered into the mind of Chris Matthews Friday night when he wondered aloud on “Hardball” when Republicans were going finally make sure that Obama got “credit for this amazing economy that’s coming back.”
For weeks, ABC hyped sequestration spending cuts as a threat that could "vaporize" America and "cripple" travel in the country. On Sunday's Good Morning America, however, George Stephanopoulos admitted that the President's plan isn't "working." Perhaps helping Obama shift strategies, the GMA segment focused on the Democrat "reaching out" to the Republican Party.
Talking with Dan Harris and Bianna Golodryga about the President's dinner meeting with members of the GOP, Stephanopoulos conceded, "...The outside game at least in the short term wasn't working for the President. It was trying to raise all these alarms about the sequester but it didn't seem to be taking hold because people haven't felt it yet." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] This is quite a contrast to the March 1 GMA. As sequester was about to hit, news reader Josh Elliott warned of the coming doom: "Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free." A graphic warned of "armageddon."
While you were watching Rand Paul's historic filibuster and the debate surrounding budget sequestration, an economic theory battle was waging between two of the nation's foremost liberal economists Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs.
In his most recent salvo published at the Huffington Post Saturday, Sachs spoke heresy to Obama-lovers across the fruited plain including Krugman claiming that following the 2008 financial crisis, "It was the Fed, not the fiscal stimulus, which prevented a fall into depression."
CNN's Howard Kurtz made a comment Sunday that might raise some conservative eyebrows.
In a Reliable Sources discussion about comments Fox News's Roger Ailes made in a new book about him, Kurtz said, "I think this president works very hard and doesn’t take many vacations" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
UPDATE AT END OF POST: Ari Fleischer responds to accusation Milbank made about him in this segment.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank made an interesting observation Sunday about the vulgarity prominent in the current presidential administration.
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources, Milbank said, "The number of F-bombs being dropped by this White House, scholars are going to look in the national archives in 20 or 30 years and they're going to be shocked by the language that was coming out of this place" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The front page of Saturday's Washington Post took the publicity stunt of shutting down White House tours and spun it as an educational event. The headline was “In canceled White House tours, a civics lesson: Disappointed tourists help administration show sequester’s pain.” Inside the paper, the headline was “Worthless tickets drive home government’s dysfunction.” Ahem, the tickets are free even when they are honored.
The online headline was even worse: "With canceled tours, White House teaching how democracy works." Reporter David Nakamura blamed not Obama but the "dysfunctional state of the union":
Ed Schultz touts his radio program as the place "where America comes to talk" -- providing that "America" agrees with Schultz.
Good example of the habitually acerbic Schultz's response to criticism was heard on the show yesterday when a caller questioned the basis for Schultz's support of President Obama's use of drones to kill suspected terrorists. (audio clip after page break)
ABC's Good Morning America on Friday ignored new details of Barack Obama's pay-for-access scheme, the only morning show to skip the story. The President's campaign group, now renamed Organizing for Action (OFA), has promised quarterly meetings with the President for donations of $500,000. NBC's Today and CBS This Morning both covered the growing controversy. GMA, which did find time to focus on the latest Justin Bieber gossip, avoided it.
Today's Chuck Todd offered surprisingly hard-hitting criticism of Obama, lecturing, "When it comes to Barack Obama's views on money and politics, his actions have rarely matched his words...When it comes to big money in politics, President Obama has often talked the talk...But critics say he's rarely walked the walk." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The liberal media should have reported President Obama's Chicken Little sky-is-falling claims about the sequester, but "with clear skepticism" instead of mindlessly parroting them, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News's Sean Hannity on the March 7 edition of his eponymous program. "They should have gone to the American people and in effect said, this man is lying," but instead, "they did the exact opposite. They waved the pom-poms for him," the Media Research Center (MRC) founder argued.
Even worse, Hannity added, after the sequester ended up being a nothing-burger, the media whined about it, wringing their hands that the public are not concerned. "Let's understand what they mean when they say it's sad.... they're sad that the America people aren't believing the media," Bozell argued, adding the the "big losers" in the whole sequester ordeal are the liberal media, because "people are seeing right through it." [watch the full "Media Mash" segment here]
President Obama actually had the nerve this week to close down the White House to tours as part of budget sequestration.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News's Special Report Thursday observed, "The President’s travel expenses alone for the golfing outing with Tiger Woods would pay for a year of White House visits."