White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, recently ridiculed a Gallup poll which showed the President's approval ratings at a record low for this stage of his presidency, for seemingly no other reason than they showed the President in a negative light. Gibbs referred to the Gallup polling organization as a wildly fluctuating EKG, labeling their results as the equivalent of ‘a 6-year-old with a crayon.'
Predictably, this administration has managed to throw a temper tantrum at every instance of failure that has defined them. The only surprise here, being that Gibbs was capable of taking the pacifier out of his mouth long enough to make the analogy.
On the other hand, it was mere months ago that Gibbs himself used Gallup poll numbers to demonstrate support for President Obama's economic stimulus plan - a stimulus plan that a 6-year-old with a crayon would have voted ‘no' on.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs lashed out at Gallup polling today for releasing poll data that the administration does not like. The most recent Gallup poll shows President Obama's approval ratings at 47 percent, the lowest rating on record at this point in any presidency.
"If I was a heart patient and Gallup was my EKG, I'd visit my doctor," Gibbs told reporters today, referring to recent fluctuations in the polling company's reported presidential approval ratings. As of November 30, Gallup reported Obama's favorable rating at 51 percent, with 42 percent responding unfavorably. The latter rose to 46 percent as of Sunday.
"I'm sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend," Gibbs added.
While it has been documented that CNN's Howard Kurtz chided his own news network for ignoring the recently-revealed scandal involving Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominating his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney position -- after the CNN anchor had monitored CNN on Saturday -- it turns out that on Sunday morning, even before Kurtz's Reliable Sources show had begun, CNN had already started to pay more attention to the scandal than the news network had on Saturday, but -- while one may argue the story deserves even more attention -- CNN Sunday Morning actually devoted somewhat more time to the story than the other morning newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC, and even FNC.
Baucus was also directly labeled as a Democrat by CNN Sunday Morning co-anchors T.J. Holmes and Betty Nguyen, which the two had done in the previous day's story on CNN Saturday Morning. The Baucus scandal was mentioned several other times during the day on CNN NewsRoom, each time with Baucus clearly identified as a Democrat.
Imagine if you will that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was accused of taking gift cards donated to her office for redistribution to needy constituents and using them instead for a personal spending spree.
The media firestorm would swirl uncontrollably, of course, and certainly you couldn't fault the media for reporting on the ensuing criminal trial.
Well, this sort of this has happened, only to the Democratic mayor of Baltimore Sheila Dixon who was convicted yesterday on a misdemeanor charge of embezzling, yet the coverage from the broadcast networks has been non-existent until the trial's conclusion.
A search of "Sheila Dixon" among ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts catalogued on Nexis from January 1, 2007 to December 2, 2009 yielded only three hits. None of the stories were about Dixon's trial, and one, an April 30, 2008 "Nightline" story on predatory mortgage lending, cast Dixon in a favorable light as a champion of citizens who have been exploited by mortgage lenders.
...is now ending his CourtWatch blog, all the while insisting that his writings over the years were mostly dry legalese and that those which were not, well, that's the fault of the people he was writing about, namely, the Bush adminstration.
A liberal Washington Post columnist laments today of the loss of civility in the public discourse. Strange that he is suddenly outraged that Americans would dare call Obama a socialist or a fascist, given that Bush-Hitler comparisons were widespread during the previous administration.
Liberals in the media spent the summer and early fall bemoaning signs at town hall protests and tea party rallies calling Obama a socialist or communist comparing him to Hitler (incidentally, many of these signs were actually created by supporters of uber-leftist Lyndon LaRouche, as reported by Seton Motley here and here). These pundits had no such admonitions for signs at anti-war rallies during the Bush administration comparing him to Hitler and the Devil, and calling the president a fascist.
So the Post's E.J. Dionne's complaints about the loss of civility in the debate over federal politics fit right in with the narrative liberal pundits have been pushing since last year: comparing an American president to a murderous dictator is unacceptable...if that president is a Democrat.
CNN correspondent Max Foster’s short report about Richard Dawkins on Tuesday’s Situation Room played more like a commercial which promoted the militant atheist’s new book. Despite Dawkins’s past inflammatory statements about Christianity, Foster only labeled him “an outspoken critic of creationism....[whose] atheist views have put him at the center of controversy” [audio clip available here].
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux’s introduction for the correspondent’s report highlighted the 150th anniversary of the printing of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” and how Dawkins was a “controversial successor [to Darwin] carrying the torch for evolution.” Foster gave a very basic description of Dawkins’s career during his report, only mentioning his controversial stances only in passing. Video straight from the Richard Dawkins Foundation ran on-screen as Foster, an anchor for CNN’s sister network CNN International, gave his voice-over.
On Monday’s Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux became the latest CNN personality to use the offensive “teabagger” label to describe opponents of ObamaCare. Malveaux asked senior political analyst Gloria Borger, “Do we expect to see the kinds of big rallies and...the circus atmosphere that we saw...over the summer when you were talking about controversial policy, ‘teabaggers’ and all that other thing?” [audio clip available here]
The CNN anchor and correspondent, serving a substitute for the vacationing Wolf Blitzer, questioned Borger about the upcoming battle over health care “reform” in the Senate, after a 60-39 vote over the weekend to begin debate over the Democrats’ bill. Her use of the vulgar term came 14 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour:
CNN’s Rick Sanchez misrepresented the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the House Democrats’ health care plan on Monday’s Newsroom. Sanchez labeled the amendment a “conservative Republican challenge of health care reform.” The anchor also gave a false impression of an answer given by RNC Chairman Michael Steele in an earlier interview on American Morning.
Sanchez used the misleading label out of the gate in a segment which began 22 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour: “The Stupak Amendment was a conservative Republican challenge of health care reform by making Democrats agree to a provision to make sure that abortions are not covered under this new plan, and it was a successful challenge, by the way.”
The Library of Congress' new exhibit on Herbert Block (often known as "Herblock") completely avoids labeling the famous cartoonist as a liberal, instead portraying him as an "independent spirit." The retrospective features 81 poster-sized drawings by the late Washington Post artist and never once identifies Block's politics.
The exhibit, which opened on October 13, 2009, and can be found in Washington, D.C., pretends that the cartoonist was a bold truth-teller. Taking in the display on Saturday, I was struck by how often this myth was touted. One section gushed over Block, who worked for the Post from 1946 to his death in 2001, for practicing his art "with fearless independence." Yet, he was really just a liberal journalist, something the exhibits celebrate, even if the L-word isn’t used.
Visitors are told that "Reagan appalled Block in a way that only Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon had done before." One cartoon showed Ronald Reagan driving by the homeless, ignoring their plight. (In the comic, the President quipped, "Strange how some choose to live like that, instead of choosing to be rich like us.")
Yesterday, CBS News.com's Political Hotsheet blog reported on "Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and the Politics of the Health Care Vote." It notes:
The focus is also on some Democrats with doubts, notably Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Ben Nelson, who aren't up but do represent very red states, and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln, who is, and could face a tough test in 2010.
The piece later states that Nelson:
has cast many a conservative vote in representing a state that, while historically willing to send Democrats to the Senate, is nonetheless firmly Republican overall.
Many a conservative vote? According to interest group ratings compiled by Project Vote Smart, for 2008 the American Conservative Union assigned Nelson a rating of 16. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a rating of F. Nelson received a 100 from the liberal AFL-CIO for 2008 and an A for 2007-2008 from the liberal National Education Association. For 2007, Nelson racked up a 5 with Americans for Tax Reform.
An unsigned CNN.com article on Friday noted that the Senate Ethics Committee had reproved Senator Roland Burris “for actions and statements reflecting unfavorably upon the Senate,” but did not directly mention the Illinois senator’s affiliation with the Democratic Party. The article did mention that Burris was “the only African-American U.S. senator.”
The first two paragraphs from the CNN Political Ticker story excerpted the letter that the Senate committee sent to the successor to President Obama: “The Senate Ethics Committee issued a letter Friday admonishing embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris ‘for actions and statements reflecting unfavorably upon the Senate’ in connection with his controversial appointment by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. ‘While the committee did not find that the evidence before it supported any actionable violations of law, senators must meet a much higher standard of conduct,’ the letter stated.”
Think I'm kidding? I couldn't make this garbage up.
I'm not sure what accomplishments helped the Conde Naste publication come up with these dubious distinctions. Perhaps it is the tripling of the nation's deficit in 10 short months, bungling the swine flu vaccine, overseeing an economy with record double digit unemployment or pitting one American against the other with unpopular proposals such as socializing health care that made them annoint President Obama. Whatever it is, none of that is apparently as terrible as Sarah Palin who the author describes as showing back up on the scene despite having been "driven her back into her hole" after last year's election.
Sarah Palin is like the mole in that addictively frustrating, ultimately futile carnival game whack-a-mole. Just when we think we've driven her back into her hole, out pops the side-swept updo and rimless Kazuo Kawasaki eyeglasses from another burrow. Katie Couric plays her the fool; she discovers Twitter. The hard right champions her as the frontrunner for 2012; she leaves office. Lawsuits threaten to sack her; she comes up with death panels.
Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller, contributing to her magazine’s “20/10” list of top 10 cultural moments of the past decade, revisited the “furor surrounding...[the] alleged anti-Semitism” of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, and concluded “the film is, in fact, anti-Semitic.” Miller also accused Gibson of making “Jesus in his own image.”
The 2004 film was number eight on Newsweek’s list of cultural moments, and the religion editor began her synopsis by rehashing another of the critics’ main charges about the movie- its apparent glorification of violence: “Mel Gibson’s pious gorefest The Passion of the Christ may not be remembered for all the controversy it courted upon its release, or for its surprise opening-weekend take of $83 million—and perhaps not even for its director’s widely mocked decision to have his actors speak only Latin and Aramaic.” Widely-mocked? How did she come to that conclusion? More than a few outlets, including the notoriously liberal NPR, noted how the movie revived interest in Aramaic, the language spoken by the Jews in the 1st century AD.
With those lines of criticism of the way, Miller moved on to the criticism which she bought the most- its supposed anti-Semitism: “Nor will The Passion be chiefly remembered for the furor surrounding its alleged anti-Semitism. (The film is, in fact, anti-Semitic. Those most thirsty for Jesus’s blood are the Jews whose brown teeth and matted hair disallow any individuality. Meanwhile, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate—who, according to history, did sentence Jesus to death—is as soulful and ambivalent as Hamlet.).”
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin fretted in a column in the November 23, 2009 edition of The New Yorker that “abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized,” and even turned his ire on some in his left-wing camp, including President Obama. He accused “many modern pro-choice Democrats,” including the President, of ceding “the moral high ground” to pro-lifers.
Toobin began his “Not Covered” column by outlining the history of abortion, particularly in the U.S.: “Abortion is almost as old as childbirth. There has always been a need for some women to end their pregnancies. In modern times, the law’s attitude toward that need has varied....Throughout this long legal history, the one constant has been that women have continued to have abortions.” The analyst continued with his lament that the legalized murder of an unborn child isn’t more accepted, given the “constant” he had outlined: “It might be assumed that such a common procedure would be included in a nation’s plan to protect the health of its citizens. In fact, the story of abortion during the past decade has been its separation from other medical services available to women. Abortion, as the academics like to say, is being marginalized.”
Openly gay actor Ian McKellen recently told Details magazine that he proudly defaces Bibles left in hotel nightstands, ripping out pages containing verses which condemn homosexual behavior. USA Today's Leslie Miller picked up on this yesterday for the paper's "Faith & Reason" blog, after spying a blog post by colleague Barbara De Lollis in a November 16 post for her Hotel Check-In blog for USA Today.
For her part, De Lollis relayed the news item and wondered, "Could word of McKellen's habit spark a movement?" De Lollis went on to ask:
After airing what she described as a "hard-hitting" ad by the Center for Reproductive Rights which ominously warned, "Don't let Congress ban abortion coverage millions of women already have," MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman today lamented to Politico's Jeanne Cummings that with Sen. Ted Kennedy gone, Democrats lack a unifying figure who could defuse an abortion battle that could mar Democratic unity on health care reform.
Snyderman praised the late pro-choice politician as a "man of his church and of his faith" (MP3 audio here):
Well, now the Catholic Church is lobbying hard to get House language into the Senate bill and then hopefully get it passed. Politico's assistant managing editor Jeanne Cummings wrote about this. And she joins me now.
Appearing on Monday’s CBS Early Show to discuss Sarah Palin’s upcoming book tour, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer dismissed the former vice presidential candidate’s political ambitions: “I think she’s going to sell a lot of books. I think she’ll be a great attraction out, you know, as an amusement....But I can’t imagine that she has much future in politics. I really don’t.”
Early Show co-host Harry Smith began by asking Schieffer about Palin’s criticism of the McCain campaign in her book, ‘Going Rogue.’ Schieffer responded: “Well, this is Sarah Palin’s turn to get even....I don’t think it’s going to work.... it’s kind of like a baseball player going into a slump and blaming the manager or blaming the bat boy or blaming the fans or something.”
Schieffer went on to write Palin’s political obituary: “But I don’t think it’s going to help re-establish her as a, you know, as a political candidate. I – my guess is she’s not ever going to run for anything and I think if she did, I don’t think she would get very far.” Even Smith seemed to think that was premature, replying in a surprised manner: “Really?”
Just over a week after using the term “far right” three times in a row in one night, CNN’s Larry King used the term “right wing” three times during an interview of Al Gore on his program on Thursday. King first questioned Gore about “the rise of the right wing” and “right wing radio” in the context of the health care debate, and later asked the former vice president, “ Is the right wing bigger than its bite?”
The CNN host lead his hour-long interview with Gore with a ringing endorsement of the Democrat’s new book: “We are so honored to welcome back Al Gore to the show, the former vice president of the United States and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the best-selling author, all in one person. His new book is ‘Our Choice.’ There you see it. It’s a plan to solve the climate crisis, and it is brilliantly put together.”
Thirteen minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour, King raised the issue of the Tea Parties with Gore: “What do you make of the rise of the right wing, these rallies and dealing with health care- we’ll move to health care in a minute. Right-wing radio- they take you on pretty good.” As you might expect the “green godfather” (as Katie Couric put it) hinted the anti-ObamaCare activists were being unreasonable: “Well yeah, it’s not entirely new in American politics. We have had a strain like this in our politics for a long time, and there are extreme voices all along the ideological spectrum. And we just have to focus on building the health and strength of our democracy and hope that the voices of reason and deliberation will prevail.”
Allison Kilkenny, a self-styled “political humorist,” ripped the Catholic Church on the Huffington Post on Thursday for threatening to pull the plug in its social services in Washington, DC if same-sex “marriage” is legalized there. Kilkenny labeled the Church the “Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People,” and bashed Pope Benedict XVI as a “decrepit former Nazi youth.”
The “humorist” (pictured at right, courtesy of Wikimedia) began her screed, titled “Catholic Church Threatens to Stop Feeding Homeless Over Gay Marriage,” by comparing the Church to Goldman Sachs, and used her “evil” label only after three sentences (perhaps showing a bit of restraint on her part): “A few days ago, I wrote about Goldman Sachs’s transition from a bank holding company into a public relations disaster machine. I argued that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has been behaving like he wants to be attacked by a ferocious mob. Now, it appears the Catholic church is determined to unseat Blankfein in the ‘Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People’ category.”
Four paragraphs later, after spinning the content of the Archdiocese of Washington’s November 10 letter to the DC city council (which warned that the proposed legislation which would legalize same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t “permit Catholic Charities and other religious service organization to freely function as religious entities serving the needs of the District” and called for the expansion of “appropriate safeguards to protect religious freedom and to preserve the ability of...service providers to continue to serve the...unmet needs of the residents of the District”), Kilkenny used the tried-and-true priest sex abuse bludgeon against the Church (language warning):
The theft trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) began yesterday, but in covering the story, the Baltimore Sun failed to note Dixon's Democratic party affiliation.
The Washington Post, syndicating the story, also failed to note Dixon's affiliation in their caption to an Associated Press photo of the mayor which reads, "Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is accused of buying personal items using gift cards donated to her office."
The unsigned story by the Sun notes that Dixon is alleged to have practically stolen from her city's poorest residents for her own personal gain:
Andrea Elliott’s front page article in the November 9 New York Times played up the thousands of Muslims in the U.S. military and how their “service...is more necessary and more complicated than ever before,” but gave the false impression that a Medal of Honor recipient named near the end of her piece was a Muslim himself, when he was actually Catholic.
Elliott spent much of her article, “Complications Grow for Muslims Serving in the U.S. Military” (which appeared above the fold on the front page of the print edition of the Times), detailing the concerns of “many Muslim soldiers and their commanders...[who] fear that the relationship between the military and its Muslim service members will only grow more difficult” after Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5. She later noted that “[w]hatever his possible motives, the emerging portrait of Major Hasan’s life in the military casts light on some of the struggles and frustrations felt by other Muslims in the services.”
Near the end of the article, Elliott changed the subject ever so slightly that it might have gone unnoticed. The reporter quoted Captain Erich Rahman, an Iraq war veteran and Bronze Star winner: “Too many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Arab-Americans in uniform, said Capt. Eric Rahman...He cited the example of Lieutenant Michael A. Monsoor, a Navy Seal who was awarded the Medal of Honor after pulling a team member to safety during firefight in 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. Lieutenant Monsoor died saving another American, yet he will never be remembered like Major Hasan, said Captain Rahman. Regardless, he said, Muslim- and Arab-Americans are crucial to the military’s success in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN’s Carol Costello highlighted a column on the “right-wing” Pajamas Media website during a report on a possible backlash against Muslim soldiers, but omitted how the author of the column is a noted feminist, and that her only “right-wing” credential is her focus on Islamic misogyny.
Anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s report, noting that apparently “many people [are] fearing a backlash against America’s Muslim soldiers” after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5. The CNN correspondent featured the mother of a Muslim army corporal who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq during the segment.
Word choice can be a subtle but effective way in which the media colorfully editorialize on the news, skewing the perceptions of readers in one direction or another. Take Washington Post's Philip Rucker, who did masterful job in skewing his 19-paragaph-long page A4 story "Activists bring 'tea party' to Capitol Hill" in favor of ObamaCare proponents while smearing conservatives in a negative light.
Rucker's labeling bias was a thread woven through the entire piece, starting with the lead paragraph (emphasis mine):
This afternoon, the Washington Post's Web site offers readers two looks at how the Democrats and the GOP will proceed following the 2009 elections, but, surprise, surprise, the paper only forsees internecine squabbles for the GOP.
Even before delving into the content of the articles, it's clear by the labeling that the Post sees the GOP's pending "ideological fissures" as a matter of objective news reporting, while the Democratic postmortem is a matter of informed "analysis," not hard news.
For their part, Rucker and Bacon aimed, like others in the mainstream media -- click here, here, and here -- to gin up an ominous narrative for the GOP party-wide from the New York 23rd congressional district saga:
The G.O.P. had two big victories yesterday in off-year elections, winning the race for governor in New Jersey and Virginia for the first time since 1997. The New York Times's coverage was dominated by three themes used to explain away the success of Republicans:
The Republicans won by appearing moderate.
The congressional race in upstate New York revealed deep divisions within the G.O.P.
These off-year elections don't mean much anyway (except when Democrats win).
1) Republicans Won by Moderating:
Even after wins by two conservative Republicans, the Times spin was that moderation had prevailed, arguing that both New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie and Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell won by trimming their social conservative stands.
In a Tuesday web post before returns were in, the paper's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney said that even a win by Virginia conservative McDonnell would be a victory for moderation:
CNN’s Roland Martin picked up where Anderson Cooper left off on Monday’s AC360, claiming that there’s “the beginnings of a civil war” in the GOP and that Tea Party protesters “want to radicalize the right” in the party. Martin also claimed that the Democrats are more of a “big tent” than Republicans: “You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal...moderate...and conservative Democrats.”
The liberal political contributor appeared with Tea Party Express’s Mark Williams for two segments starting three minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper first sought Martin’s take on the New York 23rd congressional district race. Unsurprisingly, he forwarded the Chris Matthews/mainstream media spin on the contest: “There is no doubt you are seeing the beginnings of a civil war play out, in terms of folks who are saying that we do not want moderates, in terms of being involved in this party.”
Later in the segment, after Williams highlighted how Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava endorsed Democrat Bill Owens after she withdrew from the New York 23 race, Martin struck back with his “big tent” claim about the Democrats: “You talk about endorsing a Democrat. I’m sure Mark has no problem with former Democrat Joe Lieberman saying he’s going to campaign for Republican candidates....You have a Democratic Party that has no problem having liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, and conservative Democrats. What Republicans are saying is, we don’t want any liberal or moderate Republicans. We only want conservative Republicans, and you cannot expand a party nationally only having just conservative Republicans. You’re not going to win long-term.”
That makes no difference to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell and Joe Scarborough, who see a new "litmus test" for the GOP developing out of the New York 23rd Congressional District special election.
Scarborough, appearing with Mitchell on MSNBC shortly after 1:15 p.m. EST, slammed potential 2012 presidential hopeful Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) for arguing earlier today on his "Morning Joe" program that there's no room in the GOP for what may be called "Dede Scozzafava Republicans" who are far [left] afield from the Republican mainstream.
On Monday’s AC360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper forwarded the media’s new talking point about the New York 23 congressional race, that “Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are...driving moderates out of the GOP.” Correspondent Tom Foreman continued on this note, stating that “angry conservatives...[are] forcing the party to choose between...its base and attracting more moderate Americans.”
Cooper led the 10 pm Eastern hour of his program with the question, “Does the Republican Party have room for moderates?” The anchor outlined that “state and local elections tomorrow may have profound national effects, and President Obama and Sarah Palin are a big part of it. Two governor’s races may test the President’s ability to get others elected or turn into a referendum on his presidency.” He continued with the media’s new spin on the electoral contests, as if it was a matter of fact: “As for Sarah Palin, she, Tea Party protesters and other conservative voices are front and center, driving moderates out of the GOP.”