"You know, the American people cherish our freedom of speech and a free and independent press," Pence said. "That's why I found this morning's headlines so troubling. Goaded on by a White House increasingly intolerant of criticism, lately the national media has taken aim at conservative commentators in radio and television - suggesting that they only speak for a small group of activists and even suggesting in one report today that Republicans in Washington are quote, ‘worried about their electoral effect.' Well, that's hogwash."
Remember back just a few short months ago - when thousands, if not millions, of Americans were protesting out-of-control government spending and other policies favored by President Barack Obama's administration?
Surprised by the resounding turnout, the usual lefty talking heads on MSNBC, specifically on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" and "The Rachel Maddow Show," explained the protests away as being fake grassroots aka AstroTurf.
Fast forward to Oct. 7, when both Olbermann and Maddow started laying down AstroTurf of their own. They encouraged free health care clinics to be held in the states of six Democratic senators that are not in lockstep with the left-wing agenda on health care reform.
Today on "Hardball," host Chris Matthews sought to portray President Barack Obama as being on the rebound from a beating in his approval rating during "all the crazy stuff of the summer" such as "the tea parties, the birthers, the nutbags out there" who drove up Obama's disapproval numbers.
But the single poll he cited was dismissed as an outlier by guests Charlie Cook of Cook Political Report fame. John Harris of The Politico also agreed with Cook's assessment.
It isn't often that one can see two decades of history re-written in under ten minutes. But such was the occasion on this morning's episode of Morning Joe. Max Blumenthal, author of "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party," spent his time on the show demonstrating the combined power of cognitive dissonance, wanton ignorance, and a willingness to re-write historical fact.
Let's take it in chronological order, shall we?
First, Blumenthal is asked to present the major thesis of his book:
His Wednesday column was on the three bombs allegedly hanging over all of our heads, two of them of the metaphorical variety: Debt and climate change. To make his case that climate change is some kind of imminent and deadly threat, Friedman conjured up a wildly implausible scenario out of a dystopian science fiction movie.
Today's youth are growing up in the shadow of three bombs -- any one of which could go off at any time and set in motion a truly nonlinear, radical change in the trajectory of their lives.
The first, of course, is still the nuclear threat, which, for my generation, basically came from just one seemingly rational enemy, the Soviet Union, with which we shared a doctrine of mutual assured destruction. Today, the nuclear threat can be delivered by all kinds of states or terrorists, including suicidal jihadists for whom mutual assured destruction is a delight, not a deterrent.
But there are now two other bombs our children have hanging over them: the debt bomb and the climate bomb.
As we continue to build up carbon in the atmosphere to unprecedented levels, we never know when the next emitted carbon molecule will tip over some ecosystem and trigger a nonlinear climate event -- like melting the Siberian tundra and releasing all of its methane, or drying up the Amazon or melting all the sea ice in the North Pole in summer. And when one ecosystem collapses, it can trigger unpredictable changes in others that could alter our whole world.
New York Times Week in Review and Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus is discussinghis recent book "The Death of Conservatism" with Reihan Salam on Slate's Book Club feature.
The tone of these Slate debates is usually civilly contentious, but in his Thursday afternoon posting, Tanenhaus leaves his lofty chambers of rhetoric to insult the conservatives he purports to be an expert on with a well-known lefty vulgarism:
Even today the right insists it is driven by ideas, even if the leading thinkers are now Limbaugh and Beck, and the shock troops are tea-baggers and anti-tax demonstrators.
CNN’s Rick Sanchez joined two of his colleagues in omitting the left-wing affiliation of Wendell Potter, a senior fellow at the Center for Media and Democracy. In fact, Sanchez went so far as to deny Potter’s alignment with liberals: “Is he [Potter] some crazy lefty? Is he Ralph Nader? Is he Dennis Kucinich? No. In fact, he’s a former player in the health insurance world.”
Before the CNN anchor made this denial about Potter, he read the senior fellow’s assessment of Senator Max Baucus’s health care “reform” proposal: “Here’s what my next guest thinks of this Baucus bill- quote, ‘It’s hard to imagine how insurance companies could have written legislation,’ he says- ‘that would benefit them more.’ In other words, if the guys who run the insurance companies would have sat down and written legislation- he says- they couldn’t have written it any better.”
Sanchez then made his introduction of his guest: “Who’s my guest? Is he some crazy lefty? Is he Ralph Nader? Is he Dennis Kucinich? No. In fact, he’s a former player in the health insurance world. He used to be a part of it. You ever heard of Cigna? Of course, you’ve heard of Cigna. They’re one of the biggest insurers in the whole world. Wendell Potter is who I’m talking about, and for 15 years he was the company’s chief corporate spokesperson, and he was also an executive with Humana as well.” He didn’t mention Potter’s current position with the Center for Media and Democracy during the interview, though an on-screen graphic did mention it (see above).
CNN’s Candy Crowley tried to prompt former President Jimmy Carter to explain his charge of racism against opponents of President Obama on Thursday’s American Morning, but the Democrat tried to worm his way out of what he said. Crowley paraphrased, “You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president,” to which Carter replied, “That’s not what I said” [audio clips from the interview are available here].
The topic of the former president’s inflammatory accusation came midway through the CNN correspondent’s live interview during the 8 am Eastern hour. Crowley had first asked Carter about the revamp of his presidential museum and library. Before turning to the Obama/race issue, she also prompted Mrs. Carter, who was also present, to comment on the future of mental health care.
Carter was clearly defensive about his allegation when Crowley brought it up. The correspondent put her question this way: “Mr. President, let me ask you first- domestically, you made some remarks recently about how you felt about the protesters that were protesting against President Obama. You said, overall, you thought the protesters were upset that there was a black president, that there was racism involved.” The former president interrupted, “By the way, that’s not what I said.”
CNN’s Jack Cafferty and Wolf Blitzer endorsed Thomas Friedman’s “scary and sobering column” in the New York Times on Wednesday’s Situation Room, where the liberal writer compared the current American political climate to that of Israel in 1995 prior to Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. After Cafferty remarked that “Friedman’s right,” Blitzer labeled the column “powerful.”
The CNN commentator began his 5 pm Eastern “Cafferty File” segment with his “scary and sobering” label of the New York Times column. After summarizing it and reading a quote where Friedman warned that “something very dangerous is happening” in the American political dialogue, Cafferty remarked that “Friedman’s right. You don’t have to look any further than protesters comparing President Obama to a Nazi, or a Facebook poll asking if he should be killed. Tom Friedman says even if you’re not worried about violence against Mr. Obama, you should be worried about what’s happening to American politics.”
Making a truly odious comparison, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman claimed parallels between the behavior of anti-Obama protestors (who have been quite peaceful) to that of "extreme right-wing settlers" in Israel before the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Friedman warned that "criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination." But where was this concern for the presidency when the left worked non-stop to delegitimize George W. Bush?
I hate to write about this, but I have actually been to this play before and it is really disturbing.
I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then -- a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.
It's just what the primetime cable news lineup needed - another hour-long program tilted toward left-of-center politics with character assassination on conservatives.
CNN Headline News debuted its "The Joy Behar Show" on Sept. 29, which included appearances by lefty comedian Jeanane Garofalo, CNN's Jack Cafferty and actress Bette Midler. Garofalo doubled down on her low regard for conservative 9/12 and tea party protesters, labeling them as racists. Cafferty went after President Barack Obama for his disregard of the carbon footprint his lobbying efforts in Copenhagen for Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
However, actress-turned-Vegas entertainer Bette Midler went straight after former CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck. She was prodded by host Joy Behar, who mentioned Beck as someone who is encouraging a breakdown in so-called "political discourse."
Radical-left protesters outside the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh last week underlined once again that our friends in the news media see no real enemy or extremist to their left. But conservative protests against Team Obama are an ugly sign of incivility, and according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even impending violence.
HBO talk show host Bill Maher exemplified the liberal-media atttitude on his Twitter page on September 24: "Even with a face full of tear gas, these G-20 protesters [are] better looking than the teabaggers."
But there’s a big difference between the sea of tens of thousands of conservative protesters in Washington on September 12 and the three thousand anti-capitalist radicals in Pittsburgh. The tone from the podium in Washington was happy and patriotic, which meant nothing to The Washington Post, which covered it as an outpouring of a "spectrum of conservative anger."
CNN’s Larry King fawned over Michael Moore during an hour-long interview on his program on Wednesday, calling the leftist’s latest feature “a brilliant documentary,” and went on to label the director “our number one propagandist.” King encouraged all of his viewers to see Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which was released in New York City and L.A. earlier that day.
The CNN anchor led his 9 pm Eastern program with his gush over the apparent magnificence of Moore and his latest documentary: “I’ve seen this movie, and I’ll tell you, whether people agree or disagree with it- and there will be people who disagree- this is a brilliant documentary. You are our number one propagandist, in the good sense that a propagandist presents their viewpoint very well. Maybe no one does it better.”
Eight minutes later, King besought his viewers to go see Moore’s “Love Story,” regardless of their political views: “Agree or disagree, ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ is one heck of a documentary. We saw it. You should see it- again, whether you agree or disagree, you should- you should see it.”
It takes a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, or selective amnesia, or just bald hypocrisy for the left-wing blogosphere to speculate on the cause of “right-wing hatemongering.” But there it was on Sept. 21 – an article asserting that the “anti-Obama hyperventilating” was the result of … Christianity.
Appearing on Alternet.org, Frank Schaeffer’s “Right-Wing Hatemongering Fueled by Christianity?” suggested that resistance to the Obama program comes from “the ugliest side of religion.”
“The fact is,” wrote Schaeffer, “that if you're going to blame one group above all others for the willful ignorance and continuing ugliness of the response to President Obama the best candidate would be the evangelical/fundamentalist community.”
Schaeffer wrote that former president Jimmy Carter was correct when he recently asserted that racism was behind the passionate anti-Obama reaction. But Carter fell short in not explicitly linking that racism to his own religion – Evangelical Christianity. “The angry part of the South Carter spoke of is racist because it's dominated by a certain type of ‘Christian’ culture,” Schaeffer wrote.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez again attacked Fox News on Monday’s Newsroom, implying the channel wasn’t a “real news organization,” and bizarrely labeled Glenn Beck “pudgy-faced.” Unsurprisingly, Sanchez continued his silence concerning his own network’s left-wing bias [audio clips from the segment are available here].
The anchor began the segment by summarizing his attack on the Fox News Channel from the September 18 edition of Newsroom, and then dropped his hint that his competitor was not a genuine news outlet: “Real news organizations- real news organizations- are not supposed to stage events, nor should they promote news events, nor should they hype news events. Otherwise, they lose their ability to be impartial. They’re no longer even remotely objective if they do that, nor are they being ‘fair and balanced.’”
Left-wing PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers, host of "Bill Moyers Journal," interviewed New York Times editor Sam Tanenhaus about his new book "The Death of Conservatism," which Times Watch found intellectually dishonest, unnecessarily hostile, and already dated.
Tanenhaus, who edits two Sunday sections, the Book Review and the Week in Review, insulted today's conservative movement the same way he did in his book, calling it "a politics of vengeance." Tanenhaus, who decries conspiracism on the right, indulged in his own when he declared of the 2000 election between Bush and Al Gore:"... the conservatives on the Supreme Court stopped the democratic process, put their guy into office."
Challenged by Moyers on the book's title, given the huge anti-government rallies opposing Obama's spending and health care schemes, Tanenhaus insisted that "the overt signs of energy and vitality" of today's anti-government protesters notwithstanding, "the rigor mortis I described is still there."
Whatever you say, Sam. Some excerpts from the interview, which aired Friday night:
Moyers: So, if you're right about the decline and death of conservatism, who are all those people we see on television?
Tanenhaus:I'm afraid they're radicals. (Laughter.) Conservatism has been divided for a long time -- this is what my book describes narratively -- between two strains. What I call realism and revanchism. We're seeing the revanchist side.
On Friday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Rick Sanchez correctly pointed out that a full-page color ad by the Fox News Channel incorrectly claimed that his network missed the massive September 12 Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, but went on to paper over CNN’s own double-standard on covering left-wing protests versus conservative protests. Sanchez also accused Fox News of trying to “promote” the Tea Parties.
During the segment, which began 13 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, the CNN anchor seemed to be perturbed by Fox News’s ad, which ran in the Washington Post on Friday with one main line: “How did ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and CNN miss this story?” Sanchez led with a direct attack on the ad: “If you watch this show every day...you know that I usually don’t suffer fools gladly, especially when it comes to the fools who perpetuate falsehoods. Well today, thousands of you flipped through the pages of the Washington Post, only to come across a lie so bold and so upsetting that frankly, I’m not just going to sit here in silence and allow my craft or my news operation to be unfairly maligned, because enough is enough. And, yes, I’m talking to you, Fox News.”
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
Time Magazine's Joe Klein leveled another accusation of racism against Tea Party protesters today, employing fallacious arguments that could be torn apart by any student of basic logic.
Tea Party protesters, by Klein's account, are similar to the caricature of the 1990s religious right: "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command," in the words of the Washington Post. Klein takes that WaPo adage and adds 'racist' to the end.
The Tea Party protesters are scared above all, Klein asserts, "by an amorphous feeling that they [sic] America they imagined they were living in--Sarah Palin's fantasy America--is a different place now, changing for the worse, overrun by furriners of all sorts: Latinos, South Asians, East Asians, homosexuals...to say nothing of liberated, uppity blacks...
RNC Chairman Michael Steele shot back at CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after the anchor tried to smear conservatives with racism on Wednesday’s Situation Room. The CNN anchor pointed out a racist sign at a Tea Party, and Steele replied, “Don’t hold up one person as an example of behavior by everyone.” The RNC chairman also rebuked Blitzer after the anchor pointed out the GOP’s dearth of minorities in Congress [audio clips from the segment are available here].
Before he introduced Steele, Blitzer played a clip from former President Jimmy Carter, who attributed “overwhelming portion of the intensely-demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama” to racism. He then asked the RNC chairman for his take on the Democrat’s remarks. Steele replied that Carter was “just dead wrong....I am, like a lot of Americans, concerned and disagree with the President’s policies and approaches from the stimulus spending to this health care strategy. Am I a racist because I disagree with that? I don’t think so.”
After systematically ignoring the outrageous and offensive signs used by leftist protesters at anti-war demonstrations journalists and bloggers are now devoting an immense amount of attention to a small minority of Tea Party protesters carrying signs far outside of the mainstream.
Liberal bloggers were also incensed with what they claimed were the hateful (and racist) intentions of the protesters. Matt Yglesias at Think Progress noted the miniscule presence of Confederate Flags and pondered why demonstrators were "waving flags of treason and slavery". Other bloggers at TP complained of the "hate at the protest."
You might have figured this was coming, that when dust settled from the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C., the brain trust at MSNBC would attempt to frame it as negatively as possible.
And MSNBC's resident left-wing curmudgeon-in-training David Shuster didn't disappoint. The former host of the canceled "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" took a report from the Huffington Post debunking attendance figures and attempted to belittle the event. The story focused on an old photograph that had been circulating on some minor conservative blogs showing a huge crowd for the Sept. 12 march.
Shuster asked Washington Examiner columnist and author of "The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money" if some conservative blogs were going to circulate a phony photo, why should the movement have any credibility? But Carney didn't take the bait and instead showed that MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets were committing a similar offense.
There's no doubt the so-called mainstream media turned their collective noses up at the Sept. 12 march on Washington, D.C. to protest the policies of Democratic-controlled federal government - whether in the form of denigration, downplay or outright ignoring the event.
However, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has suggested a different tactic. On his Sept. 14 show, Limbaugh proposed a future round of these grassroots protests not take place at the seats of power in government, but instead the headquarters and outposts of the local and national media.
"There have been hundreds and thousands of protests by conservative groups that haven't been covered, and tiny turnouts by the left that are covered," Limbaugh said. "You know all this as well as I do. What about this? We're looking for a force multiplier. Yeah, the protest in Washington on Saturday was great, two million people, but imagine what a force multiplier would be if the next one were held outside of local and national television networks and their headquarters where they can't miss it?"
CNN’s Jim Spellman did his best to paint the participants of the Tea Party Express’s rallies across the nation in late August and early September as a bunch of extremists on Saturday’s Newsroom. Spellman played clips which zeroed-in on the protesters who called President Obama a Nazi, carried guns, or forwarded “outlandish conspiracy theories,” and labeled all of them “a dark undercurrent.”
The CNN journalist followed the Tea Party Express organization’s bus caravan during its 2 week journey across the United States, and the thirty-plus rallies held where it stopped. Spellman appeared just after the beginning of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom, and first played clips from seven men and six women who participated in these rallies. Six of the thirteen clips came from people who could be portrayed as “extreme,” as anchor Don Lemon put it, included one who referred to a “Gestapo-type tactic” and another who carried an AK-47:
Over the weekend, ABC provided hyperbolic, worried reporting on the 9/12 protest in Washington D.C. And while the other networks had mixed results, Good Morning America co-host Bill Weir opened the program on Saturday by fretting, "This morning, outrage. Protesters descend on Washington to rally against the President's health care plan. As civility gives way to shouting, what's fueling all this anger?"
On Sunday’s GMA, Weir spun that the protesters were "rail[ing]" against higher taxes, government run health care and spending. Reporter Yunji de Nies highlighted a marcher who labeled Barack Obama a "communist." She then pounced, "Do you really believe the President is a communist?" Right after this exchange, de Nies told viewers that those rallying "insist they're not extremists."
There was a huge protest against Obama's big-government plans at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, but one was hard-pressed to find evidence of it on the New York Times home page Sunday morning: A small headline tucked under the Political subhead.
The print edition wasn't much more forthcoming. Although the Washington D.C. Fire Dept. estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people attended the 9/12 protest, and many estimates are higher, the Times made do with one medium-sized story buried on page A37 of the Sunday paper, "Thousands Attend Broad Protest of Government," teasing it on the front page in a below-the-fold photo from the march. A much smaller Obama rally got better placement, and so had a previous ACORN-led left-wing protest numbering...40 people.
Reporter Jeff Zeleny painted protesters as "angry" and "profane" and that the rally contained "no shortage of vitriol," as if there were never raised voices and obscene signage at left-wing anti-war rallies:
A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to a health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.
On a cloudy and cool day, the demonstrators came from all corners of the country, waving American flags and handwritten signs explaining the root of their frustrations. Their anger stretched well beyond the health care legislation moving through Congress, with shouts of support for gun rights, lower taxes and a smaller government.
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson: "The irony of a congressman trying to heckle a President in the midst of a speech that was, among other things, about the need for civility, is just one ugly sign of the mindless meanness that has settled over our politics."
Apparently Schieffer forgot this passage of President Obama’s speech last Wednesday: "Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim...that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple." Calling your critics liars hardly sounds like a call for "civility."
The Washington Post put the 9-12 conservative rally at the top of the Sunday paper with two color pictures, one of them a wide crowd shot below the Capitol dome. The headline was "Lashing Out at the Capitol: Tens of Thousands Protest Obama Initiatives and Government Spending."
But what stuck out like a sore liberal thumb on Sunday morning was how an Internet browser would need to look hard for it on the Washington Post home page. The top headline was "U.S. to Give More Rights to Afghan Inmates." Below that, an evergreen story on "Wall Street Goes to Washington." Scroll down, and the next headline is "In Minn., Obama Pushes Reform." If you look hard underneath that, in small type: "Lashing Out at the Capitol."
But if you didn’t know that was the 9-12 rally story, you’d think the Post skipped it entirely. (There’s also a camera icon for photos and the word "Protesters," if that’s enough notice.)
Four photos are rotating in the upper left corner of the home page, but none of them are about national politics. Go figure.