Last week, in his "analysis" of Barack Obama's proposed "bank responsibility fee," the Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn got one important thing right and two others very wrong.
The part he got right was describing the proposed fee as a "tax." The first thing he got wrong was identifying the proposed move as a legitimate form of "populism." The second is his claim that the idea is "straight out of 'It's a Wonderful Life,'" the classic Christmas movie.
Here are Kuhnhenn's first five paragraphs:
It's not just about bad banking.
President Barack Obama's biting criticism of big banks frames the problem as a struggle between jobless, suffering Americans and banks making big profits and paying "obscene" bonuses.
It's populism straight out of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and it aims to score political points in the midst of a weak economic recovery that is fueling public doubts about the president's own economic policies.
It is a strange paradigm among much of the mainstream media that plummeting poll numbers are of far greater import for Republicans than they are for Democrats. That, at least, is the logical conclusion of the relative silence of major media outlets on the steep decline in President Obama's poll numbers compared with the decline in President Bush's.
According to an Allstate/National Journal poll released Wednesday, 50 percent of Americans would vote against President Obama if the presidential elections were held today. Only 39 percent say they would vote to re-elect the president.
But so far, this stunning development--given the President's sky-high approval ratings upon entering office--has gone seemingly unnoticed by the major television networks and most prominent print publications. Aside from some prominent blogs (whose coverage is by no means substandard), the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Examiner are so far the only major outlets to report on the poll, according to a google news search (as of 2:00 PM).
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's double standards: A conservative radio host who was paid by the Bush administration to push its education agenda was "on the take," but a liberal professor paid by the Obama administration while pushing its health care agenda "is no big deal."
When it was revealed in January 2005 that conservative radio host and commentator Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 by the Bush administration Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind program on his radio show, the New York Times ran multiple disapproving accounts of the payouts.
Columnist Paul Krugman excoriated Armstrong in a column on similar practices by disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, "Tankers on the Take."
The point is that there really isn't much difference between Mr. Abramoff's paying Mr. Ferrara to praise the sweatshops of the Marianas and the Department of Education's paying Armstrong Williams to praise No Child Left Behind. In both cases, the ultimate paymaster was the Republican political machine. And inquiring minds want to know: Who else is on the take? Or has the culture of corruption spread so far that the question is, Who isn't?
Coming back from commercial this morning at the MSNBC Clown Kingdom, the bump-in video clip was one of Sarah Palin’s interview with Glenn Beck. Palin stated that it took all of the Founders to come up with the Constitution, but that George Washington (as the leader) would necessarily rise to the top.
Ken Vogel, the Left Whisperer The Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel was today a poor excuse for a journalist. He was, however, an excellent excuse for a public relations flack for President Barack Obama and his Administration.
Recall if you will the brouhaha that arose after C-Span Chief Executive Officer Brian Lamb publicly released a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner asking that the electronic media be allowed access to the health care legislation conference meetings.
(Currently, they are being conducted behind closed doors with only Democrats allowed to participate - no Republicans, no media.)
This became a bit of a problem for President Obama as well. Here we have eight times during the campaign where he pledged on camera to have all health care meetings televised - on C-Span, by name. Yet he has thus far refused to demand greater openness of or for the health care legislative process.
A brief (and humorous) hypothetical: What would the reaction of the mainstream media be if Sean Hannity took the video of President Obama’s obeisant greeting of the Japanese Prime Minister, and turned it into a video loop to be played in the corner of the screen whenever Obama was the subject du jour?
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow did a very similar thing with Republican National Chairman Michael Steele on Friday’s edition of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show.’
You may remember the mildly irritating pop-up starring Steele that inhabited the redesigned GOP.com at its first launch. It would launch in the upper corner, helpfully explaining the features of the site like the infamous Microsoft Word paper-clip assistant. Maddow revived this animation for use as a ‘bug’ in the corner.
MADDOW: Also, I‘m very proud that for the first time ever, we had a little dancing Michael Steele as the bug in the corner of our segment there.
Update - 9:25 AM | Lachlan Markay:David Gergen commented on Brown's response. His comments below.
The death of Ted Kennedy hit the liberal media particularly hard. NBC's Andrea Mitchell caught the mood of the nation's pundits when she said the "heavens were weeping" during Kennedy's funeral. Now that Kennedy is dead, some pundits feel as if Democrats are entitled to the seat he left vacant.
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen had to be reminded of this fact Monday as he moderated a debate between the two candidates for Massachusetts's open Senate seat. He asked Republican candidate Scott Brown whether he'd be willing to "sit in Teddy Kennedy's seat and [say] I'm going to be the person who's going to block it [liberal health care policy] for another 15 years."
But Brown, refusing to take for granted Gergen's blatantly left-wing premises, responded instead: "Well, with all due respect it's not the Kennedys' seat, and it's not the Democrats' seat, it's the people's seat." (video and transcript below the fold - h/t Kerry Picket)
The one good thing you can say about Andrew Freedman's "Cold weather in a hot climate" entry at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web) is that he's at least not hiding his bias.
Boiling it down, Freedman believes that weather broadcasters should use the occasions of heat waves and serious storms as global warming teachable moments, yet become strict info relayers when it's extraordinarily cold. In doing so, he advocates a continuation of what Julie Seymour at the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute has already observed:
The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming, but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don’t mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn’t necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.
"Not in sync with the current program" is how former CNN host Tucker Carlson describes his new website, the Daily Caller, which is scheduled to launch Monday. Designed as a conservative answer to the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller will do what few center-right blogs have attempted: report hard news.
Carlson and his partner, former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel, have raised $3 million in startup capital for the site, according to the Washington Independent. That impressive sum is enough to keep the Daily Caller operating for about a year. The site will employ a reporting staff or 21 in its Washington, D.C. office.
With Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, which launched earlier this week, Carlson hopes to be on the cutting edge of a new effort on the right to circumvent major media outlets--and overcome the significant obstacles to conservative news of traditional media outlets.
Rolling Stone, a music magazine in the same sense that MTV is a music-video channel, was featured on this morning's edition of Morning Joe. Their cover story is not about the latest escapades of Kanye West or Lady Gaga; instead, they have chosen to write about global warming. Before anyone asks, none of the above recording artists (to my knowledge) have recorded a song which would have spawned this article.
"As the World Burns," is the eyes-bleeding hyperbolic title of the article. Contents: The 17 people whom Rolling Stone calls "climate killers." And the first target of the article: Billionaire investor and ardent Obama supporter, Warren Buffett:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You put Warren Buffett on that list, I thought he was an Obama supporter?
In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.
Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".
The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.
Lefty author Margaret Atwood has created, in the form of a novel, the environmentalist's bible. "The Year of the Flood", as it is titled, is not merely a figurative bible for a dispersed and sporadic collection of greenies, but rather a sacred testament (the author says as much) for a movement that, every day, looks more like a church--complete with sin, salvation, and saints (one of whom is--you guessed it--Al Gore).
In an interview with Atwood, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep described "The Year of the Flood" as gloriously melding science and religion into a harmonious enviro-theology. Atwood "thinks that in the future we could see a religion that combines religion and science," Inskeep states.
But the more the listener learns about Atwood's novel, the more he or she realizes that the book does not meld science and religion. Rather, it does away with religion and replaces it with radical environmentalism. Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview (h/t CATO's David Boaz):
On Tuesday's edition of Good Morning America, Elizabeth Vargas was joined by former Bush pollster Matt Dowd and Democrat strategist James Carville. Astonishing though it may seem, Carville was not the left-most member of the panel.
Carville and Dowd were there to provide commentary on the Obama administration's response to the attempted Undi-Bomber attack. Dowd agreed with Carville's assessment of DHS Secretary JanetNapolitano's response - and then, after a bit more discussion, the conversation turned to the political ramifications:
VARGAS: We already have one Republican congressman from Michigan, who is running for Governor of that state, who is saying, trying to make hay out of this. Issued a statement, a fund-raising statement yesterday saying, "it is insulting the Obama administration would claim the system worked. These are the same weak-kneed liberals," he writes, "that tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists to Michigan." Any surprise that members of the opposite party are looking to make hay on this?
The Associated Press should seriously consider renaming itself "Associated Dems" or "Associated Leftists."
This morning, the AP's Charles Babington uncritically relays the latest Democratic Party talking point about its statist health care plan that has been passed in two very different forms in the House and Senate. The supposed point is that anyone who voted to create Medicare Part D in 2003 and voted against ObamaCare is "obviously" a flaming hypocrite.
Along the way, Babington ignores a Congressional Budget Office report response issued just before Christmas asserting that characterizations of the Senate's bill as reducing future government deficits are wrong. Beyond that, the litany of other distortions and errors in Babington's report is perversely impressive in its no-fib-or-spin-left-behind comprehensiveness.
Here are the first several paragraphs of Babington's babble, followed by its final sentence:
GOP lawmakers change tune on costly health plans
Democrats are troubled by the inconsistency of Republican lawmakers who approved a major Medicare expansion six years ago that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits, but oppose current health overhaul plans.
The Republican minority in the Senate found an unlikely defender today: MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski.
Yesterday, the Brew Crew played the video for the Democrat talking point attack on Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), but omitted the ghoulish statement by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.):
They [the GOP] are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The birthers, the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Barack Obama should exist. That is one powerful reason. It is not the only one."
This morning, however, the bump-in to start the show was that very quote – kudos to the producers of the show for making the connection. Better late than never; and it was even done without the presence of Joe Scarborough, the token MSNBC Republican.
Sadly, some members of the Brew Crew could not contain their bias:
A number of the media's talking heads have tried to use cold temperatures as evidence of global warming. As strange as that seems, some may have decided on an even more ridiculous "proof" of global warming: poor skiing conditions in Pennsylvania (h/t Ed Driscoll).
Apparently the new measure for global warming is how well one's skis slide across the snow. At least that's what the Times-Leader, a local paper in northern PA, suggested in an article on Saturday.
Reporting on a panel of outdoor recreation officials speaking at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barry, PA, the Times-Leader quoted one cross country skier who said, "my skis recognize that climate change is happening." His skis? Begin the draconian carbon cuts!
It is with heavy heart that I report the following: Two great CBS television dramas, NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, went the way of Law and Order last night (hat tip to NewsBusters reader Chris Reising). If you’re a fan and have not seen last night’s episode, be warned that this blog contains plot spoilers. [audio clip available here]
Now is the time of year when the network dramas are running the “Happy Holidays” message episodes. The NCIS franchise, a sort of military CSI show, ran with this message in each of last night’s episodes – with a twist. On NCIS, a young Marine is found murdered. He is found to be a recent convert to Islam (formerly a Christian), and the son of a retired Christian Marine chaplain. As the plot progresses, we find that the widow (also a Christian) has been, shall we say, unfaithful during her husband’s deployment. The father (the chaplain) has been paying his son’s unit members to harass him into quitting the Marines. And the murderer, we find, is the brother of the deceased.
Former "Crossfire" host Bill Press apparently cannot distinguish between news and opinion. He is furious that his application for press credentials with the congressional press corps was denied due to content on his website urging readers to tell Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., to vote for health care legislation in the Senate. He cites numerous examples of CPC members that host opinion content, but neglects to differentiate between their commentary and their news coverage.
"Senator Joe Lieberman said he will vote against Harry Reid's proposed health reform bill that includes a public plan option. Call Senator Lieberman's office and tell him he's wrong to do so, and should vote FOR it," wrote Press on his site, billpressshow.com. The CPC forbids its correspondants from being "engaged in the prosecution of claims or the promotion of legislation pending before Congress."
Press was puzzled, however, that news outlets such as the Washington Times, the Huffington Post, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Venezuela TV, and Pacifica Radio were granted CPC membership, given the presence of opinion content in each of their outlets. "Irony? No, that's sheer hypocrisy," he wrote for the Huffington Post today.
A number of the conservative movement's prominent online figures are battling to be the right's equivalent of Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post--political organizations that report hard news. Many believe that to truly harness the power of the Web, political organizations must report their own news, rather than comment on reporitng from traditional outlets.
"The left needs Daily Kos, but they also need the Huffington Post," Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis told Politico. He praised the roles of activists and opinion commentators on the right such as Red State's Erick Erickson, but noted that the conservatives have not yet matched the left's capability for original reporting.
Though HuffPo, TPM, and other politcally stilted but journalism-oriented sites, liberals "have the ability to amplify stories into the mainstream media conversation," according to Politico. Conservatives have a large void to fill when it comes to producing original content, rather than solely commenting on what is already out there. There are conservative sites providing original reporting, but there are so far no center-right equivalents to the left's powerhouse online news operations.
With the demise of the Editor and Publisher this week, many media commentators are nostalgic for the hard-nosed trade journalism the newspaper industry publication often engaged in. E&P's strength was always in its core mission of reporting news industry trends. In its latter years, like a number of other outlets, it began to stray off-course into garden-variety, hypocritical leftist media criticism.
Greg Mitchell, E&P's editor since 2002, consistently called for newspapers to print more opinion in their coverage of major world events. Most notably during the Israel-Hamas conflict early this year, Mitchell lamented that media outlets were not taking sides.
"[A]fter more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and two op-eds," he complained at the Huffington Post.
Battling the "Democrat-media complex" is hard work, but Andrew Breitbart shows no signs of letting up. He announced today in an interview with Mediaite that he will launch a new site entitled "Big Journalism" in January designed solely, in his blunt words, to "fight the mainstream media."
Big Journalism will be the latest addition to the prominent network of Breitbart's sites, which include aggregator Breitbart.com, video site BreitbartTV, and center-right blogs Big Government and Big Hollywood. After Big Journalism, he told Mediaite, will come Big Education, Big Tolerance, Big Jerusalem, and Big Peace.
As for Big Journalism, Breitbart says he is determined to combat liberal media outlets "who have repeatedly, and under the guise of objectivity and political neutrality, promoted a blatantly left-of-center, pro-Democratic party agenda."
The Washington Post has a problem with partisan memory loss.
Many of you may have heard of the recent nastiness of a Virginia homeowners’ association attempting to deny Colonel Van T. Barfoot (U.S. Army, Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, the right to erect a flagpole in his own front yard. If you are like me, you heard about this first on Wednesday, December 2, on the Mark Levin radio show.
If you’re like the Washington Post, however, you heard about it from Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) on December 3, 2009.
Fresh off Donny Deutsch’s defense of Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) slavery analogy, Mike Barnicle asked GOP Chairman Michael Steele about what proposals the GOP favored for health-care reform. Along the way, however, he used an unfortunate choice of words:
MIKE BARNICLE: [...] What are you people for?
MICHAEL STEELE: You people? [starts laughing] Who are 'you people?'
The Obama presidency is, for better or worse, the most media saturated administration in the nation's history. Due at least in part to revolutionary changes in the sharing of information, but equally abetted by the president's media-hungry personality and style of governing, Obama's face is just about everywhere these days.
And Americans have noticed. In an attempt to land a spot on a DC-based reality show, the so-called state dinner party-crashers, the Salahis, went where they knew the cameras would be: the White House.
The Obama administration has pursued a relentless media strategy by trumpeting the president on traditional and new media outlets at every opportunity. It's tech-savvy staff has allowed the president to market his message to a wide range of demographics. The strategy was a cornerstone of Obama's presidential campaign, and he has adopted it as a style of governing.
For the dog-bites-man news category: Joe Scarborough had a moment of intellectual schizophrenia today.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist and Politico.com executive editor Jim VandeHei were discussing a Politico story about internal political pressures at National Public Radio (NPR). Apparently, NPR's top political correspondent Mara Liasson was asked by NPR executives to reconsider her appearances on Fox News, for concerns over Fox's perceived political bias.
The ClimateGate email leak has demonstrated in full force a glaring double standard in the mainstream media's coverage of leaked information. Too often, liberal media outlets jump at the chance to damage conservative figures by publishing sensitive information, but refuse to publish such information if it discredits or hinders the left's efforts.
As Clay Waters reported yesterday, Andew Revkin, who writes for the New York Times's Dot Earth blog, refused to publish emails from Britain's East Anglia Climate Research Unit showing efforts to manipulate climate data and marginalize global warming skeptics.
Said Revkin, "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here."
Revkin is correct that the emails were never intended for the public eye, contained private communications, and were released by hackers who violated the law in obtaining them. But apparently this standard for publication of such documents does not apply to information about Sarah Palin.
The release of internal emails from Britain's University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit shows scientists plotting to ostracize and marginalize other researchers who question their assumptions on anthropogenic global warming. Yet the Washington Post finds that such a strategy is but a natural reaction to attacks on these scientists by climate skeptics.
The Post characterizes the CRU, and the larger circle of scientists pushing the global warming theory, as "an intellectual circle that appears to feel very much under attack." Readers must be forgiven for their confusion about who exactly is being attacked, as the Post goes on to detail CRU communications calling for a boycott of academic journals that publish articles critical of the supposed "consensus" on global warming. (Noel Sheppard reported on these and other incendiary statements in a Friday post.)
"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," CRU director Phil Jones wrote of two skeptical academic works. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow--even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
A "new consensus" has emerged on the success of the economic stimulus package, according to a New York Times headline. In touting the supposed success of the legislation, and hinting at support for another round of spending, the Times neglected to mention the widespread fraud that characterizes the administration's attempt at shoring up the economy.
As reported by P.J. Gladnick on Saturday, the Times made sure to attribute its claims to "dispassionate analysts," and asserted that the stimulus is "helping an economy in free fall a year ago to grow again and shed fewer jobs than it otherwise would." Gladnick thoroughly debunked this claim, and others, in his NB post.
In a further show of bias, the Times article makes no mention of the 76,779 jobs that were not actually "saved or created" by the package, but were added to the number touted by the administration (interactive map embedded below the fold - h/t Examiner's Freddoso, Spiering, and Hemingway). Given that this number is roughly 12 percent of the 640,000 jobs the administration claims to have "saved or created," it might merit a mention in the Times's story.