The Super Bowl is - or should be - typically a family-friendly event: an annual occasion in which dad, mom, and the kids gather around their television set to see the top two NFL teams battle it out, enjoy an entertaining half-time show, and laugh at the ridiculous commercials. But as of late, the Super Bowl entertainment has been controversial, and this year is no exception.
Two naked women in a shower or a woman exposing her "enhanced" chest in front of the Congress? You choose!
That's right. This year, godaddy.com has asked people to vote on their website for which revealing ad of Indy racer Danica Patrick they would like aired on Super Bowl Sunday.
After the 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" controversy affectionately now known as "Nipplegate," many wonder why NBC would air such a commercial. But NBC apparently has some standards, as it has recently rejected the animal rights group PETA's sexy vegetable ad. An NBC spokesperson told the Washington Post that "the ad was rejected because it did not conform with our standards."
Politico reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel holds daily chit chat sessions with several Old Media pals every morning to start his day. Apparently Emanuel has for years been involved with daily bull sessions to plan media coverage and ideological strategy with CNN's James Carville and Paul Begala, as well as ABC's George Stephanopoulos, with the occasional participation of pollster Stan Greenberg. But there is one little problem with this daily palling around with mediots these days: Emanuel now works for the White House. [Image credit: politico.com]
As Politico's John Harris notes, "in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation -- at least on the Democratic side -- is being hatched on these calls." In light of this early morning scheming, one has to wonder where the supposed autonomy of the media is if they are being programed by the Obama White House in off the record, secret and daily conversations? Where is their objectivity if these media mavens are all assisting Emanuel mold and shape the news to further a specific ideological goal?
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
For 8 years, life was good and easy for the liberal political cartoon community--they had George W. Bush & Dick Cheney to kick around. With hardly a care in the world, they boldly spoke truth to power, at immense personal risk to themselves, and quietly stacked their Pulitzers for being so bold and courageous and funny.
Then along came Barack Obama--the cool, handsome, African-American incarnation of JFK & Abraham Lincoln (no less). What were the professional sketch satirists to do?
"I had all my villains in place for eight years and they've been taken away," lamented Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, one of the most widely syndicated cartoonists. "I don't know that I've ever had this experience before, of a president I maybe like. This is an antagonistic art. We're supposed to concentrate on finding things wrong. There's no point in drawing a cartoon that's favorable."
President Barack Obama is taking far-reaching steps to centralize decision-making inside the White House, surrounding himself with influential counselors, overseas envoys and policy "czars" that shift power from traditional Cabinet posts.
Not even a week has passed since he was sworn in, but already Obama is moving to create perhaps the most powerful staff in modern history – a sort of West Wing on steroids that places no less than a half-dozen of his top initiatives into the hands of advisers outside the Cabinet.
The Frigid Fingers Were Live, but the Music Wasn’t
It was not precisely lip-synching, but pretty close.
The somber, elegiac tones before President Obama’s oath of office at the inauguration on Tuesday came from the instruments of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues. But what the millions on the Mall and watching on television heard was in fact a recording, made two days earlier by the quartet and matched tone for tone by the musicians playing along.
Reportedly few Republicans see reason to ultimately vote against confirming Obama's attorney general designee and the GOP Senate minority has only put a one-week delay on his confirmation hearings, but the Washington Post was insistent in its January 22 headline that that Republican senators were set on "Obstruct[ing] Eric Holder's "Path to [the] Justice Dept."
This is markedly different from the Post's take in 2001 when Democratic senators objected to whom the Post called the "highly contentious" John Ashcroft. The January 16, 2001 edition of the Post described the Ashcroft hearings as the "first test of Bush's strength on [Capitol] Hill." (excerpt via Nexis, emphasis mine):
Supporters and opponents of John D. Ashcroft mobilized constituencies and honed strategies yesterday in last-minute preparations for the opening today of confirmation hearings over his highly contentious nomination as attorney general.
I was going through the comments tonight at my Pajamas Media column about the Geithner nomination that went up earlier today, and came across this at Comment 39 from "Mike M":
The deduction he took for the summer camp as a day care expense is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED IN THE IRS CODE! That’s out and out tax fraud. Even Leona Helmsly (sic) is jealous in her grave ....
It turns out that there is a lot more to the Geithner story. It has been sitting right there in details that were made public last week, but were mostly ignored by the Washington press. While the amounts involved aren't anywhere near as large as those relating to Geithner's self-employment taxes from 2001 through 2004 on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund -- taxes he didn't pay until audited by the IRS (2003 and 2004) or until just before his nomination was announced (2001 and 2002) -- they are nonetheless revealing, infuriating, and disturbing. They make the claims of "honest mistakes" that his defenders up to and including Barack Obama continue to employ look much, much weaker (paragraph image is from Pages 3 and 4 of the relevant report stored here as a PDF; a larger JPEG image is here):
A 14-picture slideshow of "Historic Moments of Inaugurations Past" that begins with an illustration of Washington's 1793 swearing-in and mostly includes flattering photos of other commanders-in-chief ends not with a photo of President George W. Bush but of left-wing protestors at his first inauguration. (h/t e-mail tipster Chris Lowery)
Even President Nixon was shown flashing his "classic double victory salute" to inauguration attendees in 1969. Of course,the caption accompanying that picture noted that he "was greeted with less than warm feelings from the crowds. Protestors threw smoke bombs, sticks and stones at the presidential limo on its way to the Capitol Building."
Yet when it came to portraying President Bush's inauguration, ABCNews.com photo editors decided to show protestors at the 2001 inaugural, including one holding a "Hail to the Thief!" sign (depicted above at right). The caption accompanying that photo:
Imagine for a moment that Sen. John McCain won the election in November and that John Hagee gave a sermon at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University the Sunday preceding the inauguration wherein he slammed the "egregious menage a trois of homosexuals, Hollywood, and hell-bound atheists" for destroying the United States.
The coverage would be non-stop and President-elect McCain would be pressed to repudiate the remarks from his stalwart evangelical supporter, even though he's already distanced himself during in the campaign.
Yet it's a vastly different story when it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Howard University's chapel and the "egregious menage a trois" was that of "racism, militarism and capitalism."
While his colleague Michelle Boorstein helpfully edited Wright's more embarrassing rhetoric (see more below the fold), Washington Post's Dana Milbank reminded readers just how loopy Rev. Wright is in his page A9 January 19 article, "You Thought the Jeremiad Was Over?" (emphasis mine):
The good folks at Media Matters for America are displeased with the New York Times having the nerve to point out the hypocrisy inherent in environmentalists destroying the environment.
For those that don't actually care about such things, the Sundance Film Festival began last Thursday, and as the video embedded right demonstrates, the organizers are supposedly going to great lengths to make this year greener than ever.
Unfortunately, such efforts seem to be failing according to an article published in the Times Arts section Saturday.
This didn't sit well with MMA's Eric Boehlert who in a posting at the group's County Fair blog Sunday seemed oblivious to his own hypocrisy:
The Associated Press's record of running interference for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner continues mostly unabated.
My chronicle of AP's largely weak coverage, most of which has been previously detailed at NewsBusters (here, here, and here), is at the end of this post.
No AP report I have seen has noted that Geithner applied for and merely pocketed partial "reimbursements" from the International Monetary Fund for payroll/"self-employment" taxes. He signed IMF forms saying that he had paid or would pay those taxes. He didn't pay up for 2003 and 2004 until his returns were audited. He more than likely never would have paid up for 2001 and 2002 if he had not been nominated, even though a strong case could be made that he engaged in tax evasion.
These aspects of Geithner's tax situation, if widely known, would, I believe, cause the average taxpayer to object strongly to the very idea of his nomination. AP's alleged journalists appear to believe that this cannot be allowed to happen.
AP Personal Finance writer Dave Carpenter, in a mostly Q&A piece with a really weak title ("Meltdown 101: US tax laws can even foil the pros"), continued the silence on pocketed reimbursements yesterday afternoon (stored here for future reference). He also seems to have found every excuse for Geither except "the dog ate my W-2":
"Sometimes, Brian, I think we live in a parallel universe, where the media see the world one way when it's a Democrat in power and another way when a Republican is in power," NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News Channel's Brian Kilmeade. [audio of segment available here]
The Media Research Center president appeared on the January 16 "Fox & Friends" to discuss an astounding contrast that illustrates the media's liberal biases: the Associated Press scorned the roughly $40 million spent on the 2005 Bush inauguration but is assuring readers that it's okay to glam it up for the 2009 Obama inauguration.:
BRENT BOZELL: Look at these headlines. We found this, this is from AP. Four years ago on the eve of George Bush's second inauguration. This is the lede: "President Bush's second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars. Forty million alone in private donations for parties, balls, etc. Then it goes on to say, what else could that money buy..... Now, four years later, same AP news outlet. A story on Barack Obama. According to the Guardian newspaper, he could spend as much as $150 million. That would be three times more than George Bush spent. This is their [AP's] lede: "So you're attending an inaugural ball saluting the historic election of Barack Obama in the worst economic climate in three generations. Can you get away with glitzing it up and still be appropriate not to mention comfortable and finacially viable? To quote the man of the hour, 'Yes, you can.' Veteran ballgoers say you should, and fashionistas say you must."
Presumably after having read NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes's January 14 blog on the matter, the hosts of "Fox & Friends" today discussed the Associated Press's double standard on presidential inauguration spending.
STEVE DOOCY: When you look back at how the mainstream media described his [George W. Bush's second] inaugural, back when he spent about $40 million on it... critics, for instance, writers at the Associated Press said, "look, we are in a time of war and we are facing all sorts of challenges." That money, four years ago, they said, should be used to armor up humvees and to protect our men and women overseas....You fast forward four years, suddenly we've forgetten all about those AP stories, where people are going, "George Bush's inauguration extravagant," now you're tripling the money. Where's the outcry?!
The news media are giddy with excitement as Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day approaches — CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday’s American Morning touted how "Obama has some big shoes to fill, roughly the size of the ones up on the Lincoln Memorial....Barack Obama’s inaugural address may be more than the speech of his lifetime. Historians and speechwriters say it could be one for the ages."
But it would be a mistake to think reporters are always so worshipful of new presidents. While most presidents do start with a media honeymoon, a review of the past 20 years finds reporters are more celebratory when Democrats are taking over the White House, while coverage of GOP inaugurals has included a fair number of anti-conservative stinkbombs:
Yesterday, details discovered about Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's tax situation moved it to well past the level of an "honest mistake."
You wouldn't know it from the Associated Press's Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who, as I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), continues to run interference for him. A story from Thursday afternoon that has since been dynamically updated had a final paragraph alluding to the fact that Geithner had signed annual statements acknowleding his obligation to pay his own payroll taxes (Update: That Thursday afternoon story is still at Breitbart). That paragraph is not present in the story as updated at 3:13 a.m. this morning (saved here for future reference). Even that paragraph, when it was present, didn't note that Geithner had applied for and received reimbursement for payroll taxes he didn't pay.
First, here are key paragraphs from Davis's cheerleading roundup, including disconcerting statements of support for Geithner from many who should know better:
Mayor Gary Becker of Racine, Wisconsin, received some unwanted attention from the Old Media and the local police today because of his arrest for using a computer to solicit sex from a child. According to the Associated Press, Becker is "tentatively charged with attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, possession of child pornography, exposing a child to harmful materials, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and misconduct in public office."
The AP spends several paragraphs detailing the world of Mayor Becker. It describes his election, his marriage and kids. It describes his accused crime and where and how he was snapped up by the police. But there is one little thing the AP can't seem to find any information on... his party.
That's right, once again the Old Media gives us an alleged criminal sexual pervert politician and somehow forgets to mention the accused is a Democrat.
Four years ago, the Associated Press and others in the press suggested it was in poor taste for Republicans to spend $40 million on President Bush’s inauguration. AP writer Will Lester calculated the impact that kind of money would have on armoring Humvees in Iraq, helping victims of the tsunami, or paying down the deficit. Lester thought the party should be cancelled: “The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?”
Fast forward to 2009. The nation is still at war (two wars, in fact), and now also faces the prospect of a severe recession and federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion as far as the eye can see. With Barack Obama’s inauguration estimated to cost $45 million (not counting the millions more that government will have to pay for security), is the Associated Press once again tsk-tsking the high dollar cost?
Nope. “For inaugural balls, go for glitz, forget economy,” a Tuesday AP headline advised. The article by reporter Laurie Kellman argued for extravagance, starting with the lede:
In a post last night, I criticized the Associated Press for glossing over the 15 years of personal and domestic self-employment tax filing and payment problems of Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary (pictured at right in an AP photo).
It turns out that Brett Blackledge's Tuesday evening report was relatively hard-hitting in comparison to Julie Hirschfeld Davis's rendition early this morning (stored here, because her original 3:33 a.m. report has since been updated).
Davis's assignment appears to have been to shorten and update Blackledge's original writeup. To be fair, Davis immediately indicated that Geithner's nomination is no longer on cruise control. But she deleted, or pushed to later paragraphs, quite a few details that would cause an average reader to go "Huh? This guy wants to be Treasury Secretary?" What's more, her vague title ("Tax problems may plague Obama's treasury pick") replaced a much more specific one from Blackledge ("Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes").
Davis's most obvious airbrush is in her second paragraph (bold is mine):
Jan. 14 Update: "AP's Early-AM Revision Flushes Many Details, Calls His Tax Problems 'Goofs'"
Timothy Geithner, pictured at right in an AP photo, is Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary.
Mr. Geithner will, among many other duties, oversee the Internal Revenue Service.
How odd, to say the least, that Mr. Geithner has had persistent tax filing and payment problems going back over 15 years involving self-employment taxes for both himself and his paid help, as well as with the employment of someone who for a time did not have proper legal status to remain in the country.
You would think that such things might place a cabinet nominee, especially to head Treasury, in jeopardy, and to cause the president who nominated him to have second thoughts. After all, in 2001, Linda Chavez's nomination as Labor Secretary went down in flames over matters relating to an illegal immigrant whom Chavez had sheltered in her home a decade earlier. Also, in 1993, Zoe Baird withdrew as Bill Clinton's nominee for Attorney General over the employment of illegal-immigrant domestic help and her failure to pay the related employment taxes on a timely basis.
But Geithner's nomination is apparently getting the all clear, with pliant Republicans giving the okey-dokey, and press outlets like the Associated Press giving his problems the relatively no-big-deal treatment.
Here are some excerpts from tonight's AP story by Brett J. Blackledge (stored here for future reference when there are subsequent updates; 5 AM Update: The link did indeed change; an alternate link that seems to match what AP had up at its own site at the time of this post appearance is here):
Now that Barack Obama is assuming the presidency, partisan criticism is suddenly so passé. Just ask Chris Matthews. In the course of cheerleading anchoring the MSNBC coverage of Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing today, Matthews suggested that the media shouldn't cover the Republican National Committee's criticism of Clinton.
The comments came during the Hardball host's chat with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. A few minutes earlier, Matthews had assured us that those who had the privilege of knowing Hillary personally were aware of what a "wonderful" person she is. Then it was time to attack Republicans for refusing to join the Hillary love-fest.
Far be it from me to sow discord in MSNBC ranks, to stir up old animosities between colleagues there. But if Joe Scarborough is going to do a mocking imitation of Keith Olbermann in full Special Comment rant, well then, blogging ethics compel me to report it.
The jumping-off point on Morning Joe today was Eugene Robinson's current WaPo column. After claiming that he didn't want to kick the president on his way out the door, Robinson proceeded to do just that. The columnist described a variety of measures adopted by the president in prosecution of the war against terror as "departures from American values and traditions." Robinson recommended an investigation if not a criminal prosecution. That led Pat Buchanan and Scarborough to cite, chapter and verse, the ways in which Bush's supposed abrogation of "American values and traditions" were small potatoes compared to the actions of predecessors including Lincoln, Wilson and FDR.
Without mentioning the Countdown host by name, Scarborough closed with an unmistakable impression of Keith Olbermann in pompous Special Comment peroration of the sort that can be seen here.
On a day when GMA ran two warm-'n-fuzzy items about Barack Obama, the ABC show found yet another way to hit President Bush—literally and figuratively stooping to bash Barney, the presidential pooch. Relying on some ambiguous remarks by an aide to Pres. Bush, weekend co-anchor Bill Weir declared that "Barney's a jerk" and "everyone hates him."
We all know that for months, Harry Smith has been demanding that the international community force Hamas to stop shooting thousands of rockets into civilian areas of Israel. So Smith speaks with unique moral authority now in calling for Israel to be stopped.
Oh, wait. As far as I know, Smith never uttered a peep of protest over the Hamas bombardment of Israel. But that didn't prevent the Early Show host from demanding this morning that someone in the US stand up to stop Israel from doing what no one else could or would. Smith served up some heaping hyperbole to make his case, claiming there is "no" food, water or electricity in Gaza.
With a liberal Democrat coming to power, the New York Times has evidently gotten over the false fear of "big cuts" in Medicare it displayed when Republicans tried to trim the program back in 1995.
Thursday's lead story by Jeff Zeleny and John Harwood, "Obama Promises Bid To Overhaul Retiree Spending," characterized the president-elect's stated willingness to tackle huge entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare in mostly positive terms. The reporters described Obama's vague proposal as an "overhauling," an "approach to rein in Social Security and Medicare," and an "effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs."
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.
If the Senate was currently controlled by Republicans, and a black Congressman, in response to Roland Burris not being seated as president-elect Barack Obama's replacement Tuesday, accused that body of racism, do you think media would have reported it?
Probably every hour on the hour, right?
Well, on Tuesday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said: "I believe sincerely that if Roland Burris had not been an African-American, then he would be appointed. They think that they are above the law, and although they might not be termed racist, their action is racist."
Oddly, despite tremendous media coverage of Burris's refused seating Tuesday, Rush's comments went largely unnoticed:
Media Research Center Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on this morning's Fox & Friends on the Fox News Channel to discuss the egregious media double standard when it comes to Republicans and Democrats misbehaving.
Motley pointed to the media's incessant chant in 2006, the "Republican Culture of Corruption," and noted that no such parallel moniker has been affixed by the press to the Democratic Party despite a great and apparently growing number of their members having become embroiled in scandals.
Motley "defended" New Mexico Governor and recently withdrawn Commerce Secretary designee Bill Richardson, currently under federal investigation for swapping large government contracts for large campaign contributions, saying Richardson was only engaging in his form of commerce, preparing for his (almost) next gig.
He stopped short of demanding they be branded with a scarlet 'U.' But the suddenly puritanical David Shuster insists that the proper term for Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston is "unwed parents."
Shuster rendered his verdict on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show he's been hosting since David Gregory parted for Meet The Press. Shuster teased the issue at the top of the program, then devoted a segment to it later on.
Presumably a last minute replacement for the possibly NBC banned Ann Coulter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow appeared on Tuesday's "Today" show to drop invective about the Bush administration's "torture" policies. Instead of the rousing bit of Barack Obama bashing and criticism of the fawning coverage of him by the liberal media that would've surely been delivered by Coulter, "Today" viewers were treated to the following slam of Bush policies via a Maddow defense of Obama's choice of Leon Panetta as CIA Director:
RACHEL MADDOW: Well, I think that he made a bold choice in Leon Panetta, and we have seen from Barack Obama a lot of leadership by building consensus, by making people not disagree with him about important and hot-button issues. But on Panetta that was an, "elections have consequences" moment. If you were in the Bush administration and which, with, with warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation, torture. With rendition, with these other controversial policies in the intelligence community, that's not going to be a career asset. And if you were a Democratic senator in an intelligence oversight role, while all these things were happening, your objections may not be the most important thing for this new president looking to make a clean break.
Maddow appeared during the 7am half-hour where, according to the Drudge Report, Coulter was originally scheduled to have been slotted before being bumped/banned. The following is the full transcript of the Maddow segment as it was aired on the January 6, "Today" show: