**UPDATE** Earlier version of blog incorrectly stated that Ron Fournier had deleted tweets in question when in fact they are still on his account.
It appears as though the days of civility and integrity in journalism are long gone. On March 1, National Journal’s Ron Fournier, formerly the Washington bureau chief at the Associated Press, took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with government sequestration, suggesting that President Obama:
Can handle Bin laden, not Boehner? He may be POTUS, but Obama incapable of “a Jedi mind meld.”
Fournier continued his violent rhetoric in a follow-up tweet, suggesting that, “Bin Laden didn’t compromise. Handled him pretty well.”
What's the point of the Washington Post retaining a conservative blogger when the paper's editors will opt to highlight her posts critiquing other conservatives rather than printing ones critical of the president and his lapdog lackeys in the press? Once again the Washington Post's op-ed page editors chose to excerpt a Jennifer Rubin blog post critical of conservatives rather than one tough on Barack Obama and the liberal media.
In her 8-paragraph March 4 item headlined "Talking truth to CPAC" -- condensed from a 14-paragraph blog post by the same title published online on March 3-- Rubin criticized the conservative gathering as "creatures of the 1980s, when our problems, our country and the world were different." "Younger conservatives have to take the movement into their own hands, refurbish it, revitalize it, cast off what is not relevant and persuade others to join the movement," if American political conservatism is to survive, Rubin concluded. Yet an hour earlier on Sunday, Rubin had published to the Post website a 15-paragraph item headlined, "Will anyone police this White House?" wherein the conservative blogger argued that (emphasis mine):
CNN's Howard Kurtz mocked the media – including his own network – on Sunday's Reliable Sources for uncritically channeling government hysteria over the sequester cuts.
"[I]f the press had put in, let's say, 10 percent of the effort that was devoted to investigating, I don't know, Beyonce's lip syncing into the actual measurable effects of these budget cuts, I think we would have seen a somewhat different picture," quipped Kurtz. [Video below. Audio here.]
In an interview with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer couldn't understand why the American people didn't buy into the White House and media hype about how devastating the budget sequester would be: "The cuts went into effect Friday night, although they roll out over a long period of time. And yet, I'm surprised there hasn't been more outrage on the part of the general public." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Lauer offered possible explanations: "Do you think that's because people are simply numb to this by now, the dysfunction of Washington, or do you think there's a little case of crying wolf here and they don't believe how severe the impact's going to be?" Bush replied: "Well, there was a lot of crying wolf." Lauer quickly tried to spread the blame to Republicans: "On both sides?" Bush promptly dismissed that notion: "No. I think the President kind of led the charge to say that widows and orphans were going to be out on the street."
“Deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing. Flights delayed. Even criminals walking free.” That’s the call to panic with which ABC’s Josh Elliot greeted viewers on the March 1 Good Morning America. Elliot’s frenzied tone, on the day sequestration was going into effect, was typical of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) network coverage of Washington’s most recent fiscal debate.
MRC analysts reviewed all of the 88 sequestration stories, from when coverage began on February 14 through March 1 when the “cuts” took effect, and found 58 (66 percent) of them advanced the most horrific Obama administration talking points. Another 10 offered the same scary forecasts but at least included the skeptical view that the sequestration reductions weren’t that big and their effects were being overhyped. (Videos after the jump)
For conservatives, it's been truly delicious the past few weeks watching previously devote Obamaites break ranks with their colleagues to finally tell the world that the emperor has no clothes.
A fine example Monday was the perilously liberal economist and media darling Jeffrey Sachs who published an article at the Huffington Post with the headline "How Obama's Politics Led to Sequestration":
On Thursday, the government reported that the economy didn't contract by a tiny annualized 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 as originally reported. Instead, the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by an equally tiny 0.1 percent. Expectations had been that the revision would go positive by an annualized 0.5 percent.
According to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, "the only impediment" to the economy resuming annualized growth of 2 percent or so (which is actually unimpressive in historical context) "may be the across-the-board government spending cuts that kick in Friday - especially if those cuts remain in place for months." In Crutsinger's world, the payroll tax increase which kicked in on January 1, gas prices which have risen nationally to about $3.70 per gallon from $3.25 in the past 45 days, and troubling January and early-February sales results at Wal-Mart don't matter. There's also an obvious problem seen in his third and fourth paragraphs (bolds are mine):
Chris Matthews asked a question Sunday that should truly offend people on both sides of the aisle.
During the syndicated program bearing his name, Matthews asked his panel, "Has President Obama put himself at political risk if the big cuts do not wreak havoc?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Did you know that the mortgage interest deduction was a major contributor to families' distressed circumstances leading to the housing bubble? Or that George W. Bush's (really modest) tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, not the Internet bubble of the late-1990s led the nation from fiscal surplus to deficits?
The reason you don't "know" these things is that they're not true. But the Associated Press's Tom Raum thinks they are, and said so as if they are indisputable facts in an AP analysis piece (or at least I hope it was meant to be that) yesterday. In over 850 words, he also failed to note, while barely acknowleding their existence, that Republicans in the House already acquiesced to $620 billion in tax increases in return for a "whopping" $15 billion in spending cuts during the fiscal cliff deal at the end of last year. Excerpts from Raum's risible writeup follow the jump.
“Do you all feel that your party is somehow being held hostage?” Bob Schieffer asked Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, presumably referring to those opposed to raising taxes. Touting President Obama as the reasonable one who “has talked about kind of a ‘common sense caucus,’” within the same long-winded question on Face the Nation, Schieffer repeated his accusation: “Are people on the extreme ends of your party holding the rest of you hostage here?”
Not ten minutes later, however, with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, Schieffer not only failed to characterize Obama as an obstinate extremist for demanding another tax hike two months after Republicans acceded to one, but he suddenly decided: “I think we are beyond arguing about who’s fault it is on how we got here.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) this week made another in a series of absurd comments actually claiming that 170 million people would lose their jobs if the budget sequester was enacted.
NBC Tonight Show host Jay Leno actually began his show with Waters’ claim Friday saying that it explains "why we’re in this situation in the first place" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Friday perfectly encapsulated the hysteria the White House is trying to gin up regarding budget sequestration.
Appearing on PBS's Inside Washington, Krauthammer spoke of Biblical plagues that re-appeared Friday telling host Gordon Peterson, "We have sequestered against the Lord, Gordo, and his wrath is great" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On CNN’s Situation Room today, anchor Wolf Blitzer spoke of the 1995-1996 Federal government shutdown:
BLITZER: Yes, I would be shocked if there were a government shutdown. The Republicans lived through that back in the '90s and it didn't exactly work out well for them. I would be shocked if they went down that road and the president went down that road right now. I'm sure they will work that out.
So how bad was the political fallout for Republicans? That year the GOP nominated the uninspiring Sen. Bob Dole as their presidential nominee. Despite such a lackluster top of the ticket, House losses were only in the single digits. As former Speaker Newt Gingrich has noted “it was the first time in 68 years that Republicans were reelected to a House majority - and the first time that had ever happened with a Democrat winning the presidency.” On the Senate side, the GOP picked up two seats.
Bob Woodward is a legend in modern journalism, especially for fellow liberal reporters. But that all is for naught now that Woodward has committed the cardinal sin of criticizing the White House for an operative's use of what apparently is a fairly common tactic: a harsh bullying of the press in order to demand even more favorable coverage than the Obama-friendly press already lavishes on Team Obama. It centers on Woodward reporting that sequestration was the White House's idea. This morning Matt Lauer, on the Today Show, questioned Woodward's judgement, saying "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this." Even, the New York Times offered no refuge for Woodward.
He isn’t the only one. Clinton operative and op-ed columnist Lanny Davis has received similar treatment, and veteran White House reporter Ron Fournier at National Journal also reported threatening emails and calls. But in today’s broadcast of Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski decided to give deference to Obama acolyte David Axelrod’s days as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune in order to portray Woodward as going over the line in his reporting on Gene Sperling's harassment:
Reacting to the contentious exchange between the Obama White House and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, on Friday's NBC Today, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory saw the conflict as part of a "larger issue": "...the President does not particularly like the Washington press corps. And I think that feeling is mutual in a lot of respects....there's not a great relationship between that Washington establishment and the President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Gregory began by explaining: "All administrations push back hard, especially when they're dealing with a high-octane reporter and a top-notch reporter like Bob Woodward....and that's not a tension that's bad, okay? People should want that out of a press corps..." He then sympathized with White House: "...a lot of the President's advisers are frustrated that they feel they don't get the credit they deserve for the willingness to compromise they see on the President's end, that they do not see reciprocated on the part of Republicans."
CNN's White House correspondent asked President Obama on Friday why he couldn't just force Congress to stick around until a deal is reached to prevent the sequester cuts. Obama responded that he wasn't a "dictator."
"To your question 'what could you do?' First of all, couldn't you just have them down here and refuse to let them leave the room until you have a deal?" CNN's Jessica Yellin teed up the President. Apparently for Yellin, "leadership" means taking dictatorial measures to have an elected Congress pass a bill. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The New York Times finally noticed what Washington has obsessed over the last few days -- the dust-up between veteran Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward and the Obama White House over an email from a White House aide (apparently Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council) who emailedhis disagreement with Woodward's characterization that the White House had moved the goalposts regarding the sequester: "I think you will regret staking out that claim."
Woodward told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he considered that a veiled threat. Yet his fellow journalists at the Times (as opposed to "conservatives") have now followed most of the mainstream media in taking the side of the government.
It’s certainly clear to Jay Leno that the Obama administration is fearmongering the budget sequester.
On NBC’s Tonight Show Thursday, Leno played a mock White House ad claiming among other things that if sequestration occurs, “Girl Scouts will be forced to sell meth" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer belittled the veteran journalist for daring to reveal a contentious exchange with White House adviser Gene Sperling: "I'm a little surprised you've gone public with this. I mean, these kinds of high-energy, high-octane, high-emotion conversations and debates happen all the time between government officials and the people who cover them. You've felt the heat before. Why did you go public with this one?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
"We have two kinds of people in Washington in the press, we have the reporters and the repeaters," NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham told Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Thursday's edition of his Your World program. "We've had the repeaters all week of panic, you know, big scoops of sequester panic ripple" from the media who were busy parroting fallacious Obama administration talking points. [watch the segment below the page break]
"Part of the problem with this whole thing is" that the liberal media have been "instructed to go out and build panic, and they're very willing to go and do that" for the Obama administration, the Media Research Center director of media analysis added. "Our news media is so statist that they always think that the withdrawal of government from anything is a disaster" while they:
David Axelrod has written Gene Sperling off as a political lightweight lacking the tonnage to have intimidated Bob Woodward in their dust-up over the sequester.
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Axelrod sarcastically asked "what is Gene Sperling going to do to Bob Woodward? Bob Woodward, who faced down H.R. Haldeman as a young man, feels intimidated by Gene Sperling?" You really have to hear the sneer in Axelrod's voice as he pronounces the name "Gene Sperling" to appreciate just how far under the bus Axelrod was willing to throw a fellow member of Team Obama. View the video after the jump.
Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning newscast to zero in on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's false assertion about the sequester – that "there are, literally, teachers now who are getting pink slips; who are getting notices they can't come back this fall". Correspondent Bill Plante noted that "Duncan conceded he knew of only one county nationwide where there had been notices", and underlined that "those notices weren't sequester-related."
CBS News political director John Dickerson also highlighted that "the Washington Post caught...Duncan in an exaggeration about those effects." Actually, "exaggeration" is an understatement on the part of Dickerson, as the Post's Glenn Kessler ripped the Cabinet official over several statements he's made on the sequester issue:
Hold the presses! The far-left blog Daily Kos is insisting that liberal reporter Bob Woodard, in doing his job as a journalist, has gone “full Breitbart” with his coverage of sequestration. Just a few short years ago, the Kossacks loved when reporters "spoke truth to power" in confronting Republicans in the White House. But now that Woodward has gone on record saying that he received threatening emails from senior Obama administration officials, well, that's a far different story.
On the February 27 broadcast of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Woodward said:
Spinning the sequester in the New York Times. After weeks of cringing over the supposedly damaging federal cuts due to take effect tomorrow (even as the public shrugs them off) Jonathan Weisman made an 180-degree turn on the front of Thursday's paper: "Parties Focus On the Positive As Cuts Near." The text box: "An onerous possibility turns out to be not quite so onerous."
Suddenly the Times is seeing a win-win-win situation, for liberals, conservatives, and the White House.
How do you go from being a gutsy hero of the MSM to a wuss in one minute? Take on a Democrat president instead of a Republican. Using her most sarcastic scared-little-child voice, on today's Morning Joe Mika Brzezinski mocked Bob Woodward for saying the White House threatened him over his reporting on the sequester.
Mocked Mika: "is he really afraid of a little aide who said that to him? Really?" View the video after the jump.