There’s a saying that “life isn’t one damn thing after another – it’s the same damn thing over and over again.” That’s essentially what Steve Benen, a producer for MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” argued regarding the IRS scandal in a Thursday blog post on the “TRMS” website.
Benen claimed that throughout “the imaginary IRS ‘scandal,’ there’s [been] an interesting pattern of events that serves as a template for every development. It starts with an alarming report, which is followed by scrutiny, which leads to details that make the original report appear meaningless.”
Despite Thursday's unanimous Supreme Court ruling that so-called "buffer zones" banning pro-life protests near abortion clinics was a violation of the First Amendment, all three network evening newscasts hyped assertions by abortion advocates that such unconstitutional measures "prevent violence at clinic entrances." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC Nightly News, correspondent Pete Williams began his report on the high court's decision by proclaiming: "Massachusetts was trying to avoid scenes like this – patients at abortion clinics confronted and hassled, sometimes even violence." Footage ran of pro-life protesters being held back by police barricades and one unidentified man shouting: "They're lying to you and they're gonna kill your baby!"
On Friday's Morning Joe program, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough complained about the absence of media attention to the fact that IRS commissioner John Koskinen, in charge of an organization currently embroiled in an investigation into whether it has unfairly targeted conservative groups during the Obama administration, is himself a "big Democratic donor" who has donated to President Barack Obama twice and, over the years, almost $100,000 to various Democrats.
Regular panel members Mark Halperin of Time magazine and John Heilemann of New York magazine joined in as Scarborough called out the New York Times in particular and imagined how the Times would have reacted if the roles had been reversed during the George W. Bush administration. Scarborough asked:
Only MSNBC’s token failed congressional candidate can make Ronan Farrow seem less partisan. On the June 26 edition of Ronan Farrow Daily, guest host Kystal Ball did everything she could to downplay the latest unanimous Supreme Court decision which corrects executive overreach by President Obama while simultaneously demonizing Republicans.
When Republican strategist John Feehery called the verdict “a significant victory for the legislative branch,” Ball replied that “it's important to remember the context of where this case and this decision came from.” She agreed with Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau that the case “starts and ends with Senate Republican obstructionism” and emphasized that the new filibuster rules mean that as long as “the Democrats are in power in the Senate, this isn't going to have such a large impact on the president directly.”[See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]
CBS lifted its blackout of House Speaker John Boehner's planned lawsuit against the Obama White House with a 15-second news brief on Thursday's CBS This Morning. The network follows in the footsteps of NBC, which first mentioned the story a day earlier on Wednesday's Today, and ABC on Wednesday's World News.
Altogether, the Big Three networks have devoted just one minute and 18 seconds to the legal development. Anchor Norah O'Donnell cited the Washington Post's coverage of the lawsuit during the brief: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
At the top of his Wednesday show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly denounced the liberal media for "subverting American democracy." He cited a particularly glaring double standard: "You may remember New Jersey Governor Chris Christie being pounded by the national media for a controversy on the George Washington Bridge....devoting 112 minutes to the situation in the first week....But when the VA scandal story broke, there was no coverage on the nightly network news broadcast for almost two weeks." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Those numbers were calculated by Media Research Center senior news analyst Scott Whitlock in a May 22 Media Reality Check entitled: "In a Month, TV News Gives Less Airtime to VA Scandal than Christie Controversy Received in Four Days."
News reports indicate that Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci, who was Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island from 1975 to 1984 and 1991 to 2002, is again running to be mayor of the Ocean State's capital city. The opening sentence at the Associated Press's Thursday morning story calls him a "twice-convicted felon who led Providence as mayor for 21 years," who is going "to run as an independent."
Local web news outlet GoLocalProv reports that"Cianci has filed papers Wednesday declaring his candidacy for Mayor of Providence - as an Independent." Cianci's Wikipedia entry indicates that he was a Republican from 1974 until December of 1982, and has been an independent for the past three decades. All of this makes it mystifying how a Google search on the former two-time mayor's name, as seen after the jump, could tag him as a Republican:
Hillary Clinton is touring to promote her State Department memoir “Hard Choices,” but most of the news she’s made along the way relates to her personal finances, not her tenure in Foggy Bottom. On Tuesday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait examined Hillary’s “dead broke” comment and other recent remarks and revelations about the Clintons’ money with an eye toward whether or not they’ll hamper her presumed presidential campaign.
Chait opined that while some of the Clintons’ “buckraking” constitutes “both a problem of perception and a problem of substance,”Hillary nonetheless has two big economic things going for her heading into 2016: voters’ memories of the strong economy during Bill’s presidency, and the near-certainty that if she becomes the nominee, her opponent will represent “a Republican Party still wedded to the upward redistribution of income as its central policy goal.”
Halfway through the Wednesday edition of her eponymous program this evening, CNN's Erin Burnett turned to her colleague Joe Johns for breaking news regarding a fresh development in the IRS scandal: email evidence suggesting Lois Lerner may have pushed for an audit of Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
Immediately afterwards, in a panel discussion, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin endorsed calls coming from Republicans for a special prosecutor to look into the IRS scandal.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News ignored House Speaker John Boehner's announcement that he will file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its use of executive orders. The evening newscast thus followed the example of CBS This Morning, which also omitted this development. ABC made its first on-air mention of the story on Wednesday's World News, with an 18-second news brief by anchor Diane Sawyer.
On NBC Nightly News, host Brian Williams set aside 26 seconds of air time to Speaker Boehner's planned legal move. During his news brief, Williams falsely indicated that the Republican Party controls all of Congress – when, in reality, it only controls the House of Representatives: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday's New Day on CNN, The Daily Beast's John Avlon and his wife, Margaret Hoover, gloated over the recent defeats of Tea Party-backed candidates in Republican primaries. Avlon strongly hinted that the grassroots conservatives movement was full of crazy people: "Don't call it the establishment. It's the sanity caucus."
Anchor Kate Bolduan wondered if former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's loss earlier in June was a "one-off." Hoover rattled off a list of prominent conservatives who apparently defeated in the wake of Mississippi Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's defeat on Tuesday: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Tuesday's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough went unhinged on the mainstream media's lack of coverage of the IRS scandal. Scarborough held up The New York Times and berated news organizations on pulling a “scam” on the American people by not covering “the most shady behavior” of the IRS.
“This is why conservatives don’t trust the national newspapers,” Scarborough exclaimed. “It’s not the news they do run, it’s the stories they don’t run.” NewsBusters has documented the MSNBC hosts frustration over the IRS scandal in general.
As you probably know, the 1980s were boom years for conservatives. Among the most prominent right-wingers back then: Ronald Reagan, Tom Clancy, Casey Kasem…
OK, Kasem, who died on June 15, actually was a staunch liberal, a supporter in that decade of Jesse Jackson and later of Dennis Kucinich. But during the ‘80s, wrote Scott Timberg in a Sunday piece for Salon, “we had a political and economic revolution, spearheaded by a one-time actor who was often massively popular, that did the same thing as” Kasem’s radio show, “American Top 40.”
It is a line I have used to open speeches on the lecture circuit for years and it never fails to get a laugh: "I'm happy to be here tonight from Washington, D.C., where the only politicians with convictions are in prison."
That's only partially true. Democrats have convictions. They know what to do with power when they get it and how to isolate, even punish, any member of their party who dares to take a different position on an issue. Republicans seem to constantly react to the policies of Democrats or slam each other instead of making a case for the superiority of their ideas. It doesn't help Republicans that they lack the Democrats' uniformity.
Mark Halperin, a frequent panelist on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, made an intriguing observation on Monday’s show about the IRS scandal. After saying that the recent news regarding the destroyed hard drive belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner would be “a test for the news media,” Halperin took a stance on the scandal that few on the cable channel would dare take.
“I think with a different administration, one that was a Republican administration, this story would be a national obsession and, instead, it's getting coverage here and a few other places, but it really deserves a lot more questions,” opined Halperin. [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Just prior to President Obama's Thursday press conference on Iraq, NBC's chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd was caught on an open mic joking that Republican Senator John McCain "must have had heart palpitations" after former general and CIA director David Petraeus seemed to back up President Obama's inaction during the crisis. Todd quipped: "Did anybody check John McCain? Is he okay now that David Petraeus came out against doing anything?"
In a statement to Business Insider on Friday, McCain communications director Brian Rodgers hit back at Todd: "It's not like further evidence was needed to prove the liberal bias at MSNBC and in the mainstream media, but Chuck Todd's 'hot mic' comments...show just how quickly the media will try and discredit Senator McCain and anyone who questions President Obama."
On Monday's New Day, CNN's Kate Bolduan blasted conservative super PAC America Rising for a supposedly bigoted attack on Hillary Clinton. The group recently attacked the former secretary of state as being out of touch: "If Hillary is going to run for president, she might be advised to take a lengthy sabbatical from her $200,000 per pop speaking tour and private shopping sprees at Bergdorfs to try and reconnect with what's happening back here on Earth."
Bolduan asserted that America Rising's statement was a "stupid, sexist remark on a shopping spree that has nothing to do with...or shouldn't have anything to do with" the recent criticism of Clinton for her "dead broke" claim. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Many years ago, Stephen Colbert asserted that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Chris Mooney of Mother Jones wants to make sure you understand that mathematics (a well-known subset of reality) does, too.
This past Friday, Mooney, author of books including “The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality,” posted a piece about a new book by mathematician Jordan Ellenberg which posits, in Mooney’s words, that “mathematics isn't simply about the calculations involving, you know, numbers; rather, it's a highly nuanced approach to solving problems...[M]athematics means glimpsing the entire structure of a problem, so that you can figure out how best to attack it, and so that you'll know how reliable your ultimate answers will be.”
The Big Three networks' Friday evening newscasts finally noticed the latest development in the IRS scandal (they omitted it on Thursday), after Rep. Paul Ryan grilled Commissioner John Koskinen earlier in the day. ABC's David Muir spotlighted "the outrage...involving the IRS claiming to have lost thousands of crucial documents – lawmakers asking, how can the tax man be let off the hook for losing documents, while ordinary taxpayers would never get away with that?"
NBC's Brian Williams noted how Koskinen claimed that the IRS "lost evidence in the investigation into how they handled conservative political groups...and given how long the IRS holds on to things like our tax returns, some members of Congress just aren't buying it." CBS's Nancy Cordes zeroed in on congressional Democrats' attack on their Republican colleagues over the scandal – something that ABC and NBC didn't do: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Friday’s edition of CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon, host Don Lemon and CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash made some unusual remarks about a Republican, but later retreated to downplaying one of the many scandals facing the Obama administration this midterm election year.
Discussing a hearing being held by the House Ways and Means Committee that featured testimony from IRS commissioner John Koskinen regarding the destroyed -- or as the IRS terms it "recycled" -- hard drive of former IRS official Lois Lerner, Lemon began by referring to Congressman Paul Ryan as “not a happy man today.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Soon-to-be White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest took to the podium of the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room for his last outing as deputy press secretary. He will move into the White House Press Secretary role next week as Jay Carney officially vacates the job.
If we learned anything from his “test run” today, it’s that Earnest has learned the art of White House spin from his boss. When questioned about the IRS e-mail scandal, Earnest repeatedly touted “Republican conspiracy theories” as the ruling force behind any and all questions involving the scandal.
The Washington Post has assigned reporter Jenna Portnoy to follow Republican nominee David Brat's campaign for the U.S. House seat for the 7th District of Virginia. In Portnoy's latest story, published in Friday's paper on page B4, the staff writer slammed Brat for having "largely ducked media exposure since his [primary] win," noting that after a brief press statement on Thursday which lasted eight minutes, he "retreated inside" his campaign headquarters, "ignoring questions shouted by reporters." A few days earlier, Portnoy insisted that an unprepared Brat had "stumbled" during a phone interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd
Of course, as Politico's Sarah Wheaton has noted, Brat's Democratic opponent, fellow Randolph-Macon College professor Jack Trammell, "offered few policy specifics during his first public appearance as a candidate on Saturday." Last Friday, Wheaton reported that "Trammell has declined multiple interview requests" and that "[l]ike Brat, who virtually no one thought had a shot at toppling Cantor, he’s gone into something of a lockdown." Yet a search for "Jack Trammel" on the Washington Post website reveals no such critical reporting about the Democrat's unwillingness to have free-wheeling interactions with reporters. What's more, Trammel received fawning coverage in, of all places, a June 16 Style blog entry by book reviewer Ron Charles. The topic was Trammel's yet-unfinished vampire novel (excerpt below, emphasis mine):
Thursday evening on the Fox Business Network, host Lou Dobbs of Lou Dobbs Tonight was joined by Emmy award winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who recently signed on with the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal website as a senior independent contributor. The two discussed the recent news surrounding the ongoing IRS scandal and the liberal media’s apparent uninterest in the story.
Dobbs asked Attkisson why the liberal media refuses to report the story and rather insists on "behaving much more like lap dogs" instead of doing their job and serving as a “watch dog.” Attkisson argued that the media is being run by a “propaganda interest” that insists any coverage of any scandals involving the Obama administration are “phony” and perpetrated by “right-wing nuts.”
Democrats control the White House and Senate and won a clear majority of the vote in 2012 House elections, but American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner thinks that Republicans might be even less popular if Dems weren’t so shy about advocating economic policies markedly to the left of the ones they now support.
In a Monday post, Kuttner argued that only the rich have benefited from thirty-plus years of “tax cuts, limited social spending, deregulation, and privatization,” which caused him to wonder, “If conservatives offer little that’s credible to the anxious middle class, why aren’t liberals just trouncing them?” His three-part answer:
Wednesday night, word came out via Politico that the hard drive to the computer of former IRS official Lois Lerner was destroyed and recycled. This follows the news that emails from Lerner and six other officials that were being investigated for the IRS' pointed targeting of conservative non-profits were lost. Without a doubt, this revelation is big news. But not in the minds of ABC, CBS, and NBC as all gave no mention to the matter.
Only ABC’s Good Morning America included a brief mention on the scrolling news feed at the bottom of the screen. The small headline read, ‘Computer Hard Drive Belong to Former IRS Official at Center of Targeting Scandal Was Destroyed, According to Politico.’
Yesterday's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll garnered a great deal of attention, primarily because of its findings about President Barack Obama, particularly the one showing showing that "54 percent – believe the term-limited president is no longer able to lead the country."
The poll also asked respondents a series of three questions on the Common Core standards which were clearly designed to elicit majority support for them and to then mislead the public into believing that the opposition is a noisy, anti-Obama minority which should be ignored. Stories covering the poll at both NBC and the Wall Street Journal indicated as much.
It’s been common for a few years to observe that Democrats and Republicans barely talk with each other anymore, but if you believe Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, these days the two parties aren’t even truly fighting with each other.
In a Tuesday blog post, Marshall claimed that each party now is “operating in [its] own political universe.” In one universe, President Obama ignores obstructionist GOPers and uses his executive powers to accomplish what he can; in the other, Republicans and their media allies are less concerned with thwarting Obama than with revving up their base, largely by flogging Benghazi and other scandals.
Much to the dismay of the newspaper that has an obsession with peddling Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers, Hulse was unable to find anyone besides three progressive activists that had anything negative to say about them. Instead, he found that the Koch brothers are held in high regard in the community where, among many generous donations, the Wichita State University basketball arena was renamed the Charles Koch Arena in 2003 after he gave $6 million to have it completely renovated. Here’s more from Hulse:
Though he has dispatched 275 military advisors to that country, his virtual ultimatum to that Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — no angel by any stretch, but still a better alternative to a civil war or an ISIS-run terrorist state — that he must negotiate with all parties involve before the U.S. will even think about making a meaningful military commitment seems destined to allow matters to deteriorate further, perhaps to the point of no return. Despite all of this, Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, implied in a Tuesday afternoon dispatch that anyone who doesn't support plan-free military action now is some kind of hypocrite — except for Democrats who say that their support of going to war in 2002 was a mistake. The AP pair also falsely asserted that weapons of mass destruction "were never found" in Iraq.
In a 2008 column for The Hill, Daily Kos boss Markos Moulitsas warned Democrats not to listen to Republican "concern trolls," a term for those on one side of the political fence who seek to undermine the other side by offering it seemingly good (but actually bad) counsel. "Democrats," wrote Moulitsas, "understand that they're not in the business of giving their opponents advice."
Nonetheless, a Daily Kos writer stepped up to the concern-troll plate this past Sunday when Ian Reifowitz called on non-Tea Party GOPers in Virginia’s 7th congressional district to vote for Democratic nominee Jack Trammell in order to “punish Republicans who are too extreme,” including nominee Dave Brat. “If there isn't a civil war within the Republican Party yet, there sure ought to be,” opined Reifowitz, “and the 7th District is where sane Republicans need to make a stand.”