The Los Angeles Times really wants you to know that Meg Whitman has taken more money from "special interests" than her Democratic opponent in the California gubernatorial race.
Not so high on its list of important facts: 97 percent of independent special interest contributions to third party groups have gone towards supporting Brown or defeating Whitman. Yet despite that fact, the Times still managed to run a story today claiming in the headline that "Donations to Whitman undercut her no-special-interests claim".
After a headline, a subheading, and two paragraphs stressing Whitman's $10.7 million in contributions from special interests - contrasted with Brown's $9.5 million - the Times finally gets around to mentioning that "those figures don't tell the whole story - unions and other special interests separately spent a further $13.7 million supporting Brown through independent political committees not controlled by the candidate" (h/t Patterico).
Appearing as a guest on Monday’s Charlie Rose show on PBS, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin seemed to misunderstand conservative complaints about judicial activism as he seemed to suggest that any court rulings that strike down legislative action could be considered part of judicial activism. The CNN analyst charged that the Supreme Court of the United States has recently engaged in "conservative judicial activism" in its enforcement of the First and Second Amendments.
Missing the point that "judicial activism" often involves a distortion of the Constitution's words to find legal precedent that does not exist, Toobin characterized recent decisions by a "very aggressive conservative wing" of the court as activism: "But what we have seen in recent years is conservative judicial activism, telling Congress you can't ban, you can't regulate campaign finance the way you thought, you can't – state legislatures, city councils – you can't impose gun control. So you have a very aggressive conservative wing of the party telling the democratically elected branches what to do."
Minutes earlier, he had described Chief Justice John Roberts as "very, very conservative."
You're Ed Schultz. Sorry about that, but work with me. Your big beef on tonight's show is foreign influence on US elections. What would be the glaring, obvious, overwhelming thing you would want to avoid in your choice of a guest? Having a union boss who is himself a foreigner, you say? Bingo! Yet that's exactly the slip-up Schultz committed.
A number of media liberals are up in arms over a far-left blog's inconclusive investigation - replete with innuendo and assumption - purporting to show that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has illegally spent funds obtained from foreign entities on political campaigns in the United States.
Of course near-identical efforts by a handful of the most powerful labor unions have not been mentioned.
The New York Times and MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz have all opined on the horrors of the Chamber's use of foreign funds. They all unquestionably parroted a report by the Center for American Progress's ThinkProgress blog that doesn't actually show that foreign funds have been spent on domestic political races. Meanwhile, labor unions have been given a pass, despite the amazing resemblance their political spending bears to the Chamber's.
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted supposed division between Sarah Palin and Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller: "...a controversial e-mail, reportedly from Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, that is burning up the internet, it was leaked by a left-leaning website called The Mudflats and is causing quite a stir in political circles."
Smith explained that Todd Palin was upset that Miller had not endorsed Sarah Palin when asked about her possible 2012 candidacy in television interviews. Smith then quoted from the email in question: "Todd reportedly sent it to Republican senate nominee Joe Miller, who Sarah Palin endorsed, and it says, quote, 'Sarah put her blank [a**] on the line for Joe and yet he can't answer a simple question, is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? I don't know if she is. Joe, please explain how this endorsement stuff works. Is it to be completely one sided?'"
Turning to CBS political analyst and Republican strategist Dan Bartlett, Smith said of Miller, "he's gone on Fox a couple of times and he hasn't really been able to say how much, you know – profess his fealty to Sarah Palin." In response, Bartlett remarked that, "you can kind of feel for Todd Palin and what he's doing," but then added: "Sarah Palin and her camp are extremely thin-skinned and if she does plan to run for president, she's going to have to get used to people like this doing things that they don't appreciate." Smith replied: "A thicker hide in order, perhaps."
Neither Smith nor Bartlett raised the ethical issue of a private email being publicized or the fact that Palin had been a victim of email-hacking in the past.
It’s okay for the news media to attack a candidate, but not for citizens to join together to buy TV ads criticizing one – especially if more of those ads attack Democrats than Republicans. “Earlier this year, in a very controversial decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that outside groups may spend unlimited amounts of money attacking candidates for office,” Katie Couric intoned Tuesday night. Reporter Nancy Cordes noted that as candidates “unleash their most devastating attacks, they're bolstered this year by record expenditures from outside groups, who are often even less constrained by facts than the politicians they support.” But are they less constrained than the MSM?
Presuming it’s a bad development, Cordes highlighted: “So far, outside groups have spent $69 million on these elections, compared to the $16 million they spent on all of the 2006 midterm elections.” But it soon became clear what drove CBS’s despair: “Republican groups are raising the lion's share of that money, outspending Democratic groups 5-1 in the past month and a half.” She then asserted to the head of the Republican-oriented American Crossroads: “Most of your money is coming from millionaires,” before painting a far-left, union-backed, Democrat as a victim: “Double-teamed by his opponent and outside groups, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is trying to take them both on.”
Outrage over political donations by Fox News's parent company News Corp. always seemed like a bit of a stretch when it implied that those contributions affected Fox's political coverage.
Many news media outlets are owned by larger companies. Those companies' activities don't ipso facto affect news coverage at their media subsidiaries. So when NewsBusters pointed out that 88 percent of political donations from employees of the three TV news networks went to Democrats, it was really just to note the double standard at work (surely, numerous employees have nothing to do with the news operations).
New data revealed by the Center for Responsive Politics, however, suggests a real bias at play. According to Megan [spelling corrected - Ed.] Wilson, who writes for the Center's site OpenSecrets.org, 65 percent of donations from 235 self-identified journalists have gone to Democrats this cycle.
Amidst a war of words with the White House, character attacks from the Left, and a New York Times hit piece on his connections with lobbyists, House Minority Leader John Boehner has received positive media coverage – from MSNBC of all places. The network ran a portrait of Boehner's childhood on its 11 a.m. news hour, and again on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" at 1 p.m.
"The public hears a lot of the arguments against [Boehner] from the Left," remarked NBC correspondent Luke Russert on the 11 a.m. MSNBC news hour Monday. "They hear that he's a country club Republican, if you will, with extensive ties to lobbyists. But it's quite interesting. He's a man who comes from very humble beginnings, starting out in a big Catholic family in Reading, Ohio."
Russert narrated a piece on Boehner's upbringing in Ohio, as one of 12 children. He interviewed one each of Boehner's brothers and his sisters, as well as his high school football coach.
"Mr. Boehner's ties to lobbyists seem especially deep," New York Times reporter Eric Lipton wrote of the House Republican Leader yesterday. Well, they're not, and therein lies the problem: Lipton apparently premised his article not on facts and data, but on what he thought seemed reasonable.
Had Lipton stooped to investigate some of the serious claims he was making, he might have discovered that Nancy Pelosi has raised almost twice as much money from lobbyists this cycle as has Boehner. He might also have revealed that Sens. Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Blanche Lincoln all raised more money from lobbyists this cycle as Boehner has since 1999.
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney, who did the legwork on these numbers, also noted that Boehner's name does not appear on the Center for Responsive Politics's list of the top 20 recipients of lobbyist cash. Eighteen House Democrats have received more such money than Boehner has this cycle.
Over at stopnetregulation.org, Seton Motley reports that if the Democrats can't ban books, they'll try to ban book promotion. Democrats are furious that the conservative Threshhold imprint of Simon & Schuster (a corporate cousin of CBS) published a book by three House Republicans titled "Young Guns," and included a promotional video:
That was too much free speech for the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which lawyered up and sent the publishing house an ominous letter intimating it may be in violation of several campaign finance laws - claiming the video was an in-kind contribution to Republicans. This despite the fact that...
Corporations are permitted to make independent expenditures with no coordination with candidates...
Or the simple possibility that Simon & Schuster has printed tens of thousands of copies and would now like to, you know, sell them.
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez returned to his obsession with Fox News, stating that the network "obviously tends to lean way, way, way to the right." He did acknowledge this his competitors at MSNBC "tends to sway to the left," but went on to extend his "I play it down the middle" label of himself to his entire liberal network: "We happen to be in the middle, and that's the way we do things" [audio available here].
The anchor, who denied that he had any ideological leanings less than a month ago, brought on correspondent Jessica Yellin 17 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour to report on the political donations of News Corporation, which own their competitor, Fox News. Yellin reported that News Corp. "has given a million to the Republican Governors Association." Sanchez replied that "there is nothing wrong with giving money....Time Warner is a big company. I'm sure Time Warner gives money to different organizations, except I have no idea what it is." He then asked, "So, what I want from you is, the $1 million figure, all those zeroes...is it different? Is it substantially different?"
While lefties are foaming at the mouth over what Republican Senate candidates like Sharon Angle and Rand Paul have to say, they're not quite willing to publicly embrace or defend the antics of their own duly elected nominee, South Carolina U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Alvin Greene. That is, they weren't until now.
On the Aug. 17 broadcast of her radio show, Randi Rhodes went to bat for Greene. According to Rhodes, the indiscretions that brought Greene indictments, in which he allegedly showed obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student and then talked about going to her dorm room, weren't really that bad. Although it's not clear if Rhodes was being serious, and it's difficult to tell, she claimed he was "sharing a wonderful moment of pornography" with this student and bewildered why such an approach warranted criminal charges.
"Let me tell you - you know my candidate for Senate in South Carolina is Alvin Greene," Rhodes said. "I left off where he was supposedly indicted for you know sharing a wonderful moment of pornography with a girl who was over 18 in a college library - in a college library where he had attended college by the way, so he still has his ID card to get on the campus, so. I don't know what law he broke, but apparently they say he did and they indicted him. And so the local TV went over to his house to see what his comments were about the indictment."
Some very persuasive evidence of a double standard at work in The Washington Post came to light today. Today's Post featured a front page headline about the Securities and Exchange Commission charging billionaire brothers Sam and Charlers Wyly with fraud.
The double standard came in when it became clear that the news a couple weeks ago about the conviction of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee had gotten almost no notice. The Post printed an Associated Press item on the third page. Nemazee had defrauded almost $300 million and was a major contributor and fundraiser to John Kerry's presidential campaign and Hilary Clinton's campaign to be 2008's Democratic nominee.
The Wylys have donated to Republicans and the Republican Party in the past, a fact The Post made very prominent both in its headline: "SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to Gop with fraud" and put in a quick reminder right in the story's first paragraph:
Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante praised President Obama taping an appearance on ABC's 'The View' on Wednesday: "...the President is trying to reach people who may not normally pay attention to politics....It's not the first time [he] has reached out to audiences beyond the Washington Beltway."
Plante went further, explaining: "...it is the beginning of the Democrats' strategy to try to save their majority in Congress." He touted how Obama "blamed Republicans for holding up a bill with tax cuts for small business" while visiting a New Jersey sandwich shop. Plante then highlighted the President's fundraising ability: "Two fund-raisers in Manhattan on behalf of congressional Democrats....it cost 100 guests $30,400 each....That cash will help finance the Democrats' election year strategy."
Plante concluded his report by pointing to DNC talking points for the election: "Party Chairman Tim Kaine laid it out, charging that the Republican Party and tea party have become one in the same." He then remarked: "That's what you'll be hearing for the next three months. Meanwhile, the President will continue to vacuum up campaign dollars."
As it continues its exponential expansion to cellphones, mobile advertising, television sets and book publishing internet giant Google has been simultaneously expanding its presence in the U.S. political scene, adding lobbyists, DC-based employees, and ramping up its campaign donations.
Google boss Eric Schmidt is one of the nation’s most politically active business leaders — a man who uses the cachet of the company he leads, as well as his own charisma, to build strategic alliances in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill.
Schmidt, 55, grew up in Washington and returns frequently to visit his mother, who still lives in Northern Virginia. Those trips often double as chances to meet with President Barack Obama, chat with staffers at the Federal Communications Commission and meet with top lawmakers.
In the "secret" underworld of Republican fundraising, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie use "cloaked" donor lists to "dig up dirt" on Democrats and funnel campaign contributions to Republican candidates. At least that's the impression left by Politico's Jim VandeHei.
On the July 21 "Morning Joe," Time magazine's Mark Halperin challenged VandeHei's characterization of American Crossroads GPS, a Republican political organization that finances issue ads designed to promote conservative positions on policy issues.
"With all due respect to Jim and the folks at Politico, you know, they make this these shadowy donors, this shadowy group, I mean, these are citizens who, under the law, are able to give anonymously to a group like this and to fund political activity to help them win races," complained Halperin.
A liberal panel led by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews injected sexism into the Kagan confirmation hearings on Tuesday morning, suggesting that Republican senators should curtail the tenacity of their questioning because the Supreme Court nominee happens to be a woman.
Invoking the Clarence Thomas hearings, which focused on the testimony of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of making inappropriate sexual comments, Matthews asked, "Am I wrong in hearing flashes here of the Anita Hill testimony way back when in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings?"
Despite the absence of a sexual scandal, Matthews persisted with the bizarre analogy: "Are we past the sensitivity about a male member of the Senate grilling a female?"
The "Hardball" host failed to clarify exactly who in 2010 is sensitive about male senators posing tough but legitimate questions to a woman nominated to the nation's highest court.
Not letting a good crisis go to waste, MSNBC’s left-wing rabble-rouser Ed Schultz insisted on "Morning Joe" today that the BP oil spill reinforces the need for new legislation to restrict corporations from engaging in political speech.
“I really believe that this what is happening in the Gulf is a classic [example] of how we do need campaign finance reform,” implored Schultz. “It’s all interconnected.”
To provoke this remark, "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist tossed Schultz a softball while plugging the liberal activist’s new book.
“One of the things you talk about a lot on your show and write about in the book is the relationship between money and politics,” declared Geist. “So what you have essentially, you could say, is a form of legalized bribery. I contribute to you, Senator Schultz, and you carry out my interests in Washington. What do we do to change that? We all know that’s the problem. We all know people are acting on behalf of corporations and not people.”
Eight former Federal Elections Commissioners today blasted proponents of a Senate bill that would "blunt" the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which allowed unions and corporations to spend freely on political advertisements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Commissioners called the bill "unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy." They also accused Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. -- sponsors of the Senate and House legislation, respectively -- of "partisan motives" designed to satiate the Democratic Party's labor union backers.
While some prominent news organizations, including the Washington Post, have raised serious concerns about the legislation, other ostensibly (or at least presumably) pro-free speech news outlets are either silent or, in the case of the New York Times, simply parrot Democratic talking points and give critics of the bill a mention, though not a voice, and make sure to dub them "the business lobby."
Today's New York Times makes its editorial priorities clear: It values free speech for violent video games, but not on the issues of the day.
Thursday's editorial, "Video Games and Free Speech," was launched by news the Supreme Court would review a California law that makes it illegal to sell violent video games to minors:
But video games are a form of free expression. Many have elaborate plots and characters, often drawn from fiction or history. The California law is a content-based restriction, something that is presumed invalid under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has made it clear that minors have First Amendment rights....California lawmakers may have been right when they decided that video games in which players kill and maim are not the most socially beneficial form of expression. The Constitution, however, does not require speech to be ideal for it to be protected.
Too bad the Times doesn't hold the First Amendment in such high regard when it comes to truly important speech: political speech on issues of the day, the most vital kind there is in a democracy.
A January 22 editorial termed the Supreme Court's victory for expanding free speech, in the form of loosening restrictions on companies spending money on political campaigns, "The Court's Blow to Democracy." The text was no less hysterical:
Monday evening, Tonight Show host Jay Leno joked about Wall Street reform. As reported on The New York Times's Web site, he said:
Last week, President Obama gave a speech in New York City about his plan to reform these rules on Wall Street, you know? And one embarrassing moment. When the head of Goldman Sachs was going through security, he was asked to empty his pockets and five Republican senators fell out.
The truth, of course, is that Goldman Sachs has consistently given much more money to Democrats than to Republicans. For the 2008 election cycle, as detailed at OpenSecrets.org, 75 percent of the almost $6 million in political contributions made by the investment bank's political action committee and employees went to Democrats. Goldman Sachs's donations made it the second-biggest contributor to Obama’s presidential election campaign.
Leno's gag would have been funnier, I think, if it weren't so misleading.
President Obama has extensive ties to Goldman Sachs. Yet even given record-breaking financial contributions and sketchy relationships between Goldman executives and Obama officials at the highest level, the mainstream media will not afford Obama the same scrutiny it gave to George W. Bush during the collapse of Enron.
Obama's inflation-adjusted $1,007,370.85 in contributions from Goldman employees is almost seven times as much as the $151,722.42 (also inflation-adjusted) that Bush received from Enron. Goldman was one of the chief beneficiaries of the TARP bailout package -- supported by then-Senator Obama -- and has been a force for -- not against -- Democratic financial "reform" proposals currently under Senate consideration.
Despite the extensive connections between President Obama and Goldman Sachs, the same media that vaguely alleged unseemly connections between the Bush administration and Enron after its 2001 collapse have barely noticed the Obama administration's prominent ties to Goldman (h/t J.P. Freire).
In Howard Fineman's mind, the real "sordid" story behind the now infamous RNC/Voyeur Club kerfuffle is not the inappropriateness of the venue or the expensing of the outing on the donors' dime, but the whole system of raising money from large-dollar private donors in the first place.
Talk about bondage. It feels like we are in thrall to cash and the pursuit of it as never before. I know senators in both parties who spend every spare minute in the soul-shrinking exercise of dialing for dollars. Donors are just as trapped. Once they're on a list, they're on every list.
Fineman went on to add a new boilerplate complaint from the Left as well as to mourn the demise of the media's favorite Republican "campaign finance reformer":
The mainstream media are having a field day with the Republican National Committee spending contributor dollars for "meals" at a risqué Hollywood night spot. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank joins in the fun with today's "RNC spends nearly $2,000 at sex-themed Voyeur nightclub." He provides titillating details of what transpires in that joint, and then attempts a quick rewrite of history with, "And Al Gore got in trouble for going to a Buddhist temple?"
That's seriously misleading. It wasn't going to a Buddhist temple in April of 1996 that got Gore into trouble. It was lying about illegally raising money there that raised questions and generated skepticism about Gore's truthfulness. And, in the end, he didn't really get into any serious trouble at all. As reported by the New York Times in August, 2000:
For the third time, Attorney General Janet Reno brushed off the advice of senior advisers and declined to intensify an investigation into Vice President Al Gore's fundraising activities in 1996.
She said she would not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Gore's sworn statements that neither his appearance at a Buddhist temple in California in 1986 nor his attendance at several White House coffee sessions were fundraisers.
The Media Institute, a Washington-based non-profit, has called on Keith Olbermann to apologize for comparing one of its Jewish staff members to a Nazi collaborator.
During a January 21 screed regarding the controversial Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission -- in which the Supreme Court granted all companies the same rights as MSNBC's parent company GE -- Olbermann called the Media Institute's Floyd Abrams, a Jew, "the Quisling of freedom of speech in this country."
Vidkun Quisling, for those who don't know, was a Norwegian Nazi collaborator who aided in the Third Reich's conquest of his country by disclosing vital defense information to the Nazis. If Benedict Arnold had been complicit in genocide, we might consider Quisling his Norwegian equivalent.
In his "Notebook" segment at the end of the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC Wednesday, anchor David Shuster took a moment to commemorate the passing of a "hero" of his, well-known liberal advocate Doris 'Granny D' Haddock, a staunch supporter of campaign finance reform.
Shuster celebrated how she "at the age of 89...decided to walk across the nation....All in all, 3,200 miles to underscore her message that we need to change our current campaign donation system and have publicly financed elections instead." He proclaimed that Haddock "was committed to fair and open democracy" and declared her to be "an American treasure" for her activism.
Granny D was certainly a media hero back in March of 2000, when she completed her cross-country walk for campaign finance reform in Washington D.C.. On the March 1 broadcast of NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer excitedly announced: "I love Granny D!" Then co-host, now CBS Evening News anchor, Katie Couric, followed Lauer's exuberance, calling her an "amazing role model" and adding: "She's great!"
Really Barbra Streisand, you didn't think anyone would check?
Perhaps she is worried about having her influence diminished now that there are players on the block that can match her wealth and then some. But Streisand in a 682-word screed published on the Huffington Post on Feb. 23 railed against "entrenched special interests" that can now give money to political campaigns.
"Over the last year, however, frustration has given way to anger as voters have witnessed the inability of our lawmakers to make progress on issues like health care reform, financial regulation, and energy policy," Streisand wrote. "This inaction is due to a tidal wave of big money from the health insurance industry, Big Oil, and giant financial institutions who have mobilized to challenge the people's mandate for change. These entrenched special interests have slowed, compromised and blocked important legislation leaving many Americans demoralized and outraged. I'm one of those people."
Update - 7:15 PM | Lachlan Markay: The questions from the poll phrase the issue in similarly misleading language. Details below.
The news media have a tremendous potential to shape public opinion. So when they misreport important events, it has significant consequences for public opinion and public policy.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released today shows that 80 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision last month. Perhaps if the Post stopped misleading its readers about the decision as it did today in reporting the poll, public opinion would look differently.
The misinformation begins right in the lede, where reporter Dan Eggen claims the SCOTUS decision "allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns." That statement is utterly false. The decision allows corporations and unions to spend unlimited dollars on political advertising. Restrictions on campaign contributions are still in place.
The left is up in arms over the Supreme Court's recent decision in "Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission". But few voices have been louder than those emanating from the echo chamber at MSNBC. It seems that the cable network's talking heads feel that their parent company, General Electric, deserves a special exemption to what should be a blanket ban on unrestricted corporate speech.
First a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court decision. The court struck down in a 5-4 ruling a ban on corporate (or union) spending on political speech specifically endorsing or attacking a candidate for office within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. It ruled that the ban violated the First Amendment.
Few liberals seemed to notice that in attacking corporate speech they were also effectively undermining their own employers, media corporations who employs them for the express purpose of engaging in political speech. Surely Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would defend MSNBC's right to speak (and spend) freely without interference from the federal government--especially in the run-up to an election when free speech is most important and must be protected.