MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann indefinitely … after news broke that he had given the maximum allowable contribution to three Democrats without disclosing it to his employers.
With Olbermann out, MSNBC needed a fill-in, so in steps Chris Hayes, editor of the liberal magazine, The Nation. MSNBC pegged Hayes to fill in for the suspended Countdown host on Friday. His gig was short-lived however.
Several hours after the announcement, Hayes had been dropped. (h/t Weasel Zippers)
For a series of donations to Democratic campaigns in recent years.
Here's the story, as relayed by Big Gov's Publius (HT Dan Riehl):
... (A) voice mail message was inadvertently left on the cell phone of Joe Miller campaign spokesperson Randy DeSoto.
The voices are believed to be those of the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discussing creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller.
At the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, J.P. Freire reminds us of a dark chapter in American history. Freire draws some strong parallels to today's debate over foreign influences in American elections.
But the story itself is incredible. According to an internal KGB memo discovered by reporters in the 1990s, the late Senator Edward Kennedy colluded with the Soviet Union to undermine President Reagan's foreign policy efforts.
There is a simple explanation for President Obama's dismal approval ratings, but ABC's George Stephanopoulos fails to comprehend it. Appearing on the October 13 "O'Reilly Factor," the former Clinton adviser peddled multiple theories to explain Obama's unpopularity, but neglected to consider the possibility that the president has simply failed to connect with the general public.
"As far as the problem with Democrats, they're upset about the economy, but he has also got a problem with liberals, who wish he would have done more on issues like gays in the military, on health care, on other issues," asserted Stephanopoulos.
The argument that Obama's approval rating is suffering because his policies have not been liberal enough shows just how disconnected this political flak-turned-journalist is with the public he ostensibly serves. Obama's approval rating is not hovering around 43 percent, as the latest Reuters poll indicates, because liberal activists, who represent a small percentage of the population, have been abandoning the president in droves. Rather, Obama is floundering because his support among independents and swing-voters has evaporated. In that same poll, according to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Obama has a 33 percent approval rating among Ohio voters.
On Sunday, New York Times labor-beat reporter Steven Greenhouse attended the left-wing “One Nation” rally for “Liberal Groups rally in Washington, Offering a Challenge to the Tea Party.” Unusually, Greenhouse led off with a specific (and rather generous) crowd estimate of “tens of thousands,” something the paper was unwilling to do for larger rallies held in D.C. by the Tea Party and talk show host Glenn Beck. (Kate Zernike and Carl Hulse referred to the crowd at Beck's rally as "enormous" at the top of an August 29 story.)
The Associated Press wasn’t as impressed as Greenhouse with the "One Nation" crowd size, finding only “Thousands of people” and admitting: “While the Beck rally stretched well down the National Mall, Saturday's event was shaping up to be far smaller, with sparse groups lingering around the reflecting pool and other monuments.”
Reason.com has comparison photos that, with some caveats, show a vastly larger crowd for Beck’s August 28 rally than for the “One Nation” rally on Saturday.
Here’s Greenhouse’s snappy lead:
Tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and peace activists rallied at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, seeking to carry on the message of jobs and justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trumpeted at a rally at the same site 47 years ago.
As part of its week-long special report on "Big Green," the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott wrote a piece detailing the cozy relationship - often brushing right up against unethical - between journalists, policymakers, and environmental advocacy groups.
The Examiner raises serious ethical concerns regarding a 2003 article in U.S. News and World Report that, according to Tapscott, continues to influence policy concerning the nation's fisheries.
The article, written by reporter Thomas Hayden, warns that "fish stocks are dangerously overexploited" and at risk due to commercial fishing. But nowhere in the article did Hayden disclose that he two of the primary sources for the had recently returned from a Carribean junket funded by a leading organization in the push for stricter environmental regulations, including on commercial fisheries. Nor did he mention that another 11 sources cited in the article received funding from that same organization.
If there is an example of anyone who has overseen a bigger audience decline and loss of competitive position and survived so long, I don't know who he or she is. Fox News, which first passed CNN in total viewers in January 2002 (interesting how this basic factoid is not at Fox's Wiki entry), now routinely trounces CNN and CNN Headline combined by a factor of 1.5 to 1 or more. On Thursday, Fox's primetime audience of 574,000 was 75% greater than the CNN pair's combined total of 329,000.
But before he arrived at CNN to do his damage, Klein inadvertently did the nation a service.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and guest Laura Ingraham on Sept. 23 highlighted the left's latest line of attack on Tea Parties: that they're crazy. Ingraham characterized the attacks as an attempt to distract from the liberal record and said the critique "doesn't work."
"As you may know, the Tea Party was racist for about six months as the far left tried to demonize the movement," O'Reilly said when introducing the broadcast's "Top Story" segment. "But now things have changed; the Tea Party is simply ‘crazy.'"
He showed clips from a report by the MRC's Culture and Media Institute illustrating liberal commentators and journalists attaching the "crazy" label to Tea Parties and Tea Party candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and others.
Ingraham suggested "the critique doesn't work" because more Americans are in line with the Tea Party's views than with the liberal establishment.
Summer's over. It's after Labor Day. The kids are back in school. People are back into their routines. The trouble for the Big 3 broadcast networks is that those routines don't include watching their early-evening newscasts.
Beyond that, last week was a pivotal week in Campaign 2010, with key primaries in New York, Delaware, New Hampshire, and several other states. As far as I know, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Katie Couric were firmly ensconced in their anchor chairs all week long.
With all that, the Big 3 Nets' audience for the week was less than 20 million, almost 5% lower than the same week a year ago, when there were no key election races. The Big 3 are not recovering from what was an awful summer.
Are the three news networks actively working to defeat the Republican candidate for Governor in Wisconsin? According to the far-left Service Employees International Union, yes, they most certainly are.
SEIU spokesman John-david Morgan - also, incidentally, a former journalist - told a staffer (audio embedded below the fold) for GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker that local media affiliates for all three major networks were "willing partners" in the union's efforts to defeat Walker. The staffer gave a fake name and recorded the conversation without Morgan's knowledge.
"They've really been willing partners in it," Morgan told the staffer. "They come in with the TV cameras, and [channels] 58, 12 come, and 6 doesn't always. But, yeah, they've been really helpful. They think it's fun." Channels 58 and 12 are Milwaukee's CBS and ABC affiliates, respectively. "It's not perfect," Morgan added, but "they get our message across."
I didn't know about what follows when I posted last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on Atlantic politics editor and CBS Campaign 2010 "Chief Political Consultant" Marc Ambinder's September 15 prediction that "The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging." Though drop-dead obvious, I still found it interesting that someone in Ambinder's position would admit it.
It turns out that only two days after Ambinder put forth his prediction, he proactively made it come true.
Despite the inquisitive title of his September 17 post ("Will the White House Play the Palin Card?"), Ambinder clearly believes that going after Sarah Palin should be part of the White House's and Democrats' strategy during the next seven weeks.
It's enough to make you wonder if he has already written his CBS election post-mortems. Behold Ambinder's cluelessness:
In a September 15 post-primary item at the Atlantic ("An Epic End to the Primaries: What It Means"), politics editor Marc Ambinder presented seven "different ways to look at the primaries of September 14, 2010."
His final item reads as follows (bold is mine):
7. The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells, a party that wants to take away your Social Security and your right to masturbate. Well, maybe not that last part, but then again, the implicit message of the party is that the GOP is about to elect a slate of hard social rightists to Congress.
The bolded text is an obvious point to anyone with even the most rudimentary powers of observation, but it's a pretty interesting admission nonetheless. That's especially true because Ambinder is a bona fide member of the media. Indeed, he's a self-admitted Journolist member who despite (or perhaps because) of that involvement has a specific assignment involving covering this fall's elections.
A UK Independent item about an unreleased book by historian Frank Dikötter made me think about New York Times columnist NIcholas Kristof. Readers will see why shortly.
Amazon says that Dikötter's "Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962" will be released on September 28. The Independent's Arifa Akbar relays Dikötter's core conclusion that "At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years." This is a significantly higher number than the highest previous estimate of Jung Chang, who asserted in her 2005 book, "Mao: The Unknown Story," that "38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61." The seven million extra deaths would move Chang's 2005 total of "more than 70 million" into the neighborhood of 80 million, padding Mao's lead over Stalin and Hitler as the worst mass murderer in human history.
The Independent's Akbar also writes that "Mr. Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago." If true, this reflects a startling lack of curiosity.
I hope Nick Kristof is just a little curious, and will peruse what Mr. Dikötter has documented when it becomes available. Perhaps it will move him to reach conclusions a bit different from those he reached when he reviewed Chang's book in October 2005 (bolds are mine):
It's almost tempting to just run a few paragraphs of Kate Zernike's latest item in the New York Times and simply have folks take their rips, but a bit of background would be helpful.
Zernike (pictured at right) is the Times reporter who seems to have made it her mission to somehow singlehandedly discredit what may when all is said and done come to be seen as the most significant grass-roots movement in America in a long, long time. Earlier today, Clay Waters at NewsBusters reviewed Zernike's new book, "Boiling Mad -- Inside Tea Party America," noted that she "evinces little sympathy or feel for conservative concerns," and is intent on "finding racism everywhere she looks in Tea Party land."
In a late March post (at NewsBusters; BizzyBlog), I noted a Zernike item ("With No Jobs, Plenty of Time for Tea Party") which cynically questioned "whether the movement can survive an improvement in the economy, with people trading protest signs for paychecks."
This is the same Kate Zernike Andrew Breitbart memorably called “a despicable human being” after she claimed to have found racism that really didn't exist at CPAC in February.
With that background, the paragraphs that follow from Kate's latest calamity won't surprise anyone too much, but they will as usual disappoint if you're foolishly expecting anything resembling fair treatment (bold as mine):
In general, there are two major sides to the tax cut debate.
One believes that Americans are entitled to keep what they earn, but that they cede some money to the government with the understanding that funding is necessary to enable the state to safeguard citizens' rights - the state's most fundamental function.
The opposing side holds, in short, that Americans are entitled to their wealth only to the extent that the rule of the majority - i.e. the government - allows them to keep it.
The Washington Post has apparently adopted and endorsed this latter view, also known as liberal tax policy, not only in its editorial stance, but throughout its "straight news" reporting operation.
WaPo reporter Lori Montgomery, for instance, believes that every dollar not collected in taxes is a dollar of which the federal government has been "deprived." Or, put another way in her Wednesday article, she rejects the notion that every dollar collected in taxes is a dollar of which taxpayers have been deprived:
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.
During his rant, Democrat Strickland denounced the Republican Party as "overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals"; claimed that "they don’t seem to like Ohio very much, and quite frankly, they act as if they don’t like America very much," in essence questioning their patriotism; and asked the audience to help him fight "the Tea Party radicals."
The fallout has apparently been so severe that ever-helpful veteran Columbus Dispatch reporter, senior editor, and columnist Joe Hallett felt compelled on Thursday to try to help the Governor walk it all back. In an exchange that can only be seen as Hallett begging for Strickland to give him something, anything to work with, Strickland wasn't very helpful, bogusly played the "out of context" card, and in a very real sense doubled down on his disrespect for those who oppose him. He even went into a riff on how opponents (in context, "Republicans," not just "some Republicans") want to repeal the 14th amendment (huh?).
The full 11:36 video of Strickland's discussion with reporters is here (originally posted at the Ohio Capital Blog); the RGA's 2:04 excerpt featuring Hallett is here (HT RightOhio). What follows is a transcript of the excerpt:
Mr. Slater (picture at right is from his Facebook page) is the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly "grabbed the plane's intercom and made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute." Slater was charged with "criminal mischief and reckless endangerment."
Three weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press writer Samantha Gross rhapsodized over how Slater's actions had fulfilled "a working man's fantasy ... rekindled memories of workers' liberation ... (and) sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay."
Before getting to the AP's latest sympathetic piece, let's take a look at something originally associated with a magazine report about Slater that is not currently present in that story.
They'll have all sorts of excuses (but only if asked) about why it happened: It's because they had a lot of guest anchors last week, it was hot, summer vacation season is still on (though lots of kids around in Greater Cincinnati were already back in school by last Wednesday), cable is killing us, blah-blah, etc., etc.
But the Big Three networks won't be able to avoid the fact that their ongoing decline reached a painful low last week of 18.82 million average viewers. Here is the graphic that appeared this morning at ABC's lipstick-on-a-pig blog post:
I don't know whether that's an all-time low, but Kevin Allocca at Media Bistro, who hadn't posted the full numbers as of the time of this post, has noted that one of those networks indeed scraped bottom last week:
Don't they usually wait until after Labor Day to do this?
Ten days ago, I asserted that that the administration's cynical use of Andy Griffith for a patently political promo on behalf of Medicare ("This year, as always, we’ll have our guaranteed benefits, and with the new healthcare law, more good things are coming: free check-ups, lower prescription costs") was "the foundation for the biennial Democratic scare-the-seniors campaign."
Well, the Social Security portion of that scare campaign kicked in this morning.
President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to glorify Social Security's accomplishments (he "somehow" forgot to mention the program's $7.7 trillion unfunded liability) and to rip unnamed Republicans for proposing to privatize the program. The President, who has used so many straw-man arguments in the past 19 months that he ought to have a scarecrow sitting next to him every time he speaks, framed active GOP proposals as all-or-none privatization ("You shouldn't be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you've worked hard for, all you've earned, at risk"), when they're not. For example, what President Bush proposed five years ago involved giving those who wished the opportunity to invest 2% of their pay -- out of the 12.4% of their pay that currently goes into the system -- in one or more of a limited number of investment funds.
But wait until you see how the Associated Press and Erica Werner fanned the flames even further. I found the headline that follows at both the AP's main site and at the same story at USA Today, so what you're about to see is clearly their preference:
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
It would seem that what JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater did earlier this week was the stuff that some small-minded people's dreams are made of. Would all of you out there who think that way please remove yourselves from jobs that involve contact with the public?
One has to wonder, based on her sympathetic paean to the "take this job and shove it -- but first, I'll get my revenge" crowd, if Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross should be among those who deserve involuntary removal from such positions. Ms. Gross's grotesque near-admiration for others concocting their own supposedly grand exits is my nominee as Exhibit A exemplifying the media's "strange fascination" with the Slater incident and its meaning noted at this morning's open thread at NewsBusters.
Here are some less than exemplary excerpts from Ms. Gross's gruel, including a few paragraphs exemplifying people the AP writer apparently intended to portray as nearly noble (bolds highlighting leftist phraseology and boorish behavior are mine):
Imagine that it's 2006, and an elderly, long-serving conservative U.S. congressman from a deep-red congressional district is facing congressional hearings regarding charges of corruption and tax evasion. Also imagine that this congressman was caught on camera being exceedingly condescending and dismissive when asked about these charges by a young reporter.
The media drumbeat of indignation would be predictably nonstop and longtime liberal veterans of the print press corps would inveigh against the Republican legislator, calling for his resignation and warning that Republicans were headed for electoral defeat if they failed to clean house. This congressman would certainly not be depicted as a heroic but flawed figure who possesses redeeming qualities and tragically deviated from his high ideals.
Roger Simon's Wednesday morning column ("Journolist veers out of bounds"), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.
Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon's column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal "has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that 'the right' would use it as 'a sledgehammer' against everyday journalists, 'those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism.'"
I'll suggest that Simon's rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd's reaction, in that it's laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):
... when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)
NBC News White House correspondent and MSNBC daytime anchor Chuck Todd told Politico's Roger Simon that the Journolist scandal has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that "the right" would use it as "a sledgehammer" against everyday journalists, "those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism."
Todd fretted: "Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism. This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It’s very depressing."
The only problem, of course, is that Todd and other ostensibly neutral reporters at NBC have gotten "mixed in with journalists with an agenda" via the entire MSNBC project. Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, the upcoming Larry O'Donnell show -- these are not programs designed to boost the "credibility of journalism." They are liberal agenda shows designed to push one side -- Journolist on TV, as it were.
For his part, Simon seems critical of Journolist for tainting the media's professionalism -- a "holy calling" (although the most directly critical statement is the headline, "Journolist veers out of bounds"). An excerpt:
NewsBusters posts Friday afternoon provided readers with a list of 65 known participants in the now-infamous Journolist (via Melissa Clouthier) and the special case of Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's Economic Adviser (via Lachian Markey).
(Aside: Does the fact that Biden has his own econ adviser explain why what the Vice President says in public about the economy is so often of sync with the rest of the President's peeps?)
Here's another very special name that could (emphasis: could) be added to the (Journo)List: the soon-departing White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.
Earlier this morning, NB's Tim Graham put up an excellent post on the Daily Caller's revelations that members of the Journolist listserv group "Plotted to Bury the Jeremiah Wright Story in 2008."
Though perhaps more blatant, the Journolist effort is not the first example of acknowledged coordination on the part of key members of the establishment press. In fact, an arguably more influential example of media coordination was exposed during the summer of 2005. At the time, it was known to have gone back well over a decade. It could still be active.
The arrangement's exposure seems to have been inadvertent. It was noted in what came across as a bit of a puff piece in Editor & Publisher. The item has long since been archived, but I excerpted key paragraphs from it at my own blog in July 2005:
UPDATE - 7/15, 7:00 PM: Politico makes a nearly identical argument. Ace tears it to shreads. Details below.
The folks at ABC News are confused. Democrats are passing all this awesome legislation, they posit, so why are Americans acting so hostile and looking to hand Congress to the GOP? The key problems, ABC's Z. Byron Wolf deduces, are that Democrats simply have not embraced liberalism enough and Americans have failed to perceive just how great the Democratic agenda has been.
"The imminent passage of a tough new Wall Street Reform bill," wrote Wolf, pictured right, on ABC's website, "will cap off a wildly productive two years for Democrats in Washington – they will have passed two pieces of sweeping legislation and an enormous $800 billion stimulus bill to deal with the ailing economy."
Wolf goes on to wonder why those three pieces of legislation haven't benefited Democrats' electoral prospects. Let's see: 6% of Americans believe the stimulus bill created jobs, a strong majority favors repealing the health care bill, and almost 80% of Americans polled have little or no confidence that the financial reform bill will achieve its stated objectives. Is Wolf still confused?
Advocacy groups have increasingly labelled their opposition as "astroturf," or corporate-funded fake grassroots, groups in order to demean them and lessen the fact that both sides enjoy some measure of public support. Many of the organizations throwing around accusations of astroturfing, such as the Marxist net neutrality advocacy group Free Press and the liberal ThinkProgress not only engage in astroturf strategies, but are financially supported in ways they decry as astroturf. The media, unsurprisngly, has often chosen to ignore leftist astroturfing and focus on accusations of rightist astroturfing.
The Daily Caller reported Wednesday on a pro-neutrality letter circulated around Capitol Hill by Free Press which was a product of the same astroturfing tactics Free Press has decried.
The "signatories" of the letter had no recollection of the letter and had no idea they had signed it. One of the signatories, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation wrote to the Federal Communications Comission, The Hill reported, asking to be removed from the list of signatories. Tellingly, a Free Press spokeswoman suggested that they were pressured to do so. Presumably by the Satan-worshipping board of directors of some telecommunications company.
If the folks at Newsweek had a Bartlett's handy, they might know that Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
But The New York Times reported June 30 that the Washington Post Company is committed enough to the failing magazine's liberal ideology that it has rejected a bid from a conservative buyer.
"The Washington Post Company, which put the magazine up for sale in May after efforts to stem its financial losses failed, has rejected overtures from the owners of Newsmax, the monthly conservative magazine," Jeremy W. Peters reported. Another potential buyer, hedge fund manager Thane Ritchie, was also rebuffed, according to Peters' sources.
The "main reason" Newsmax was turned away? It's "conservative political ideology ... is at odds with the editorial bent of Newsweek, which strives to be apolitical in its news coverage though is often criticized as being left-leaning," Peters wrote.