It's the tale of two attempts at "digital astroturf" or "online grassroots activism" or whatever you want to call it. Regardless of the label, there's an apparent media double standard at work: attempts to rig prominent online information sources for political gain is only worth reporting if the perpetrators are conservatives.
The blogosphere - though not the mainstream media - has been buzzing about a proposed campaign by a Daily Kos blogger to game Google's search algorithm to promote stories unfriendly to the Tea Party and the GOP.
Contrast the media's silence with the buzz over an alleged attempt by a conservative group on the aggregator Digg to "bury" stories on that site. That plot got coverage from ABC News, the Atlantic, the San Francisco Chronicle, even across the pond at the UK Guardian - not to mention from scores of liberal blogs.
When the Republican Party launched a new website in October of last year, they had some serious problems with the new site. The media ate it up.
Within a few days, media outlets ranging from Politico to "The Daily Show" to the Huffington Post to the Christian Science Monitor - and, of course, a host of liberal blogs - had weighed in on the website's problems. Their commentaries mostly took the form of mockery.
Last week, the Democratic Party launched a new site of its own. It too had some major bugs in the hours after it went live. The media's response: crickets.
The following clip aired on the Daily Show on October 15, two days after the GOP's site launched:
I didn't know about what follows when I posted last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on Atlantic politics editor and CBS Campaign 2010 "Chief Political Consultant" Marc Ambinder's September 15 prediction that "The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging." Though drop-dead obvious, I still found it interesting that someone in Ambinder's position would admit it.
It turns out that only two days after Ambinder put forth his prediction, he proactively made it come true.
Despite the inquisitive title of his September 17 post ("Will the White House Play the Palin Card?"), Ambinder clearly believes that going after Sarah Palin should be part of the White House's and Democrats' strategy during the next seven weeks.
It's enough to make you wonder if he has already written his CBS election post-mortems. Behold Ambinder's cluelessness:
In a September 15 post-primary item at the Atlantic ("An Epic End to the Primaries: What It Means"), politics editor Marc Ambinder presented seven "different ways to look at the primaries of September 14, 2010."
His final item reads as follows (bold is mine):
7. The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells, a party that wants to take away your Social Security and your right to masturbate. Well, maybe not that last part, but then again, the implicit message of the party is that the GOP is about to elect a slate of hard social rightists to Congress.
The bolded text is an obvious point to anyone with even the most rudimentary powers of observation, but it's a pretty interesting admission nonetheless. That's especially true because Ambinder is a bona fide member of the media. Indeed, he's a self-admitted Journolist member who despite (or perhaps because) of that involvement has a specific assignment involving covering this fall's elections.
After going through a litany of Levin's alleged indiscretions against O'Donnell detractors, Sullivan argues that his so-called "conservative" counterparts had it coming since Levin had been so critical of the pseudo-intellectuals that have masqueraded as conservatives over the years.
Appearing on MSNBC to present his magazine's feature piece critical of the "Baby Boomer" generation, James Bennet of The Atlantic named George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Bill Clinton as the three worst "baby boomers" who did the most harm to the country's political culture and its economy.
"It'd be hard not to point to George W. Bush as having done a lot of damage," Bennet asserted. Bush, he added, "created a lot of programs that costed us a huge amount of money, without a lot of regard for what the effects are going to be on the folks that are going to have to pay for those for many years."
Bennet also blamed President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for failed policies. However, Bennet was quick to reference the "surpluses as far as the eye could see" at the end of the Clinton administration, as a counterweight to Clinton's damage while in office. He bafflingly lauded President George H.W. Bush's tax hike as "politically brave" and which helped create the prosperity of the Clinton years.
After wondering on Friday if President Obama should help push energy legislation through Congress, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell continued her cheerleading for a new energy agenda on Monday. On her afternoon show "Andrea Mitchell Reports," Mitchell downplayed the cost of last summer's Cap and Trade bill, and opined that solar energy should be a part of the American energy future.
"Ed Markey's bill–the Markey-Waxman bill–was a year ago, but it is a Cap and Trade bill, as you were pointing out," Mitchell said to guest Ron Brownstein of Atlantic Media. "It doesn't really require us to eat our spinach," she added.
Mitchell introduced the segment by referencing the Oval Office address that President Obama will be delivering Tuesday. "How hard will [President Obama] press BP, and just how far will he go in proposing new energy legislation?" Mitchell asked.
After introducing Brownstein to the segment, Mitchell pitched the question she had asked of New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann on Friday: is now the time for sweeping energy legislation?
Completing a full spin through the revolving door, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS and ABC correspondent before jumping aboard the Obama campaign in 2008 – followed by HHS and White House positions promoting ObamaCare -- has re-joined The Atlantic as a Vice President who “will concentrate on company strategy and communications,” the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported online Thursday morning.
Before joining the Obama campaign as senior strategist and senior campaign spokesperson on the road, Douglass toiled for National Journal, part of Atlantic Media which also owns The Hotline. Her first stint in the new administration was as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, a slot she left in April.
Atlantic Chairman David Bradley recognizes the conflict between her political agenda and being a journalist, but he told Kurtz “she's too big an editorial talent for us to keep her out of the editorial product.”
The mainstream media seem to have boiled down the president's reaction to the Gulf spill to two caricatures: either he has failed to satiate public appetites by feigning outrage, or he is succeeding by acting angry. Whereas journalists rightly expected President Bush to do something about Katrina--and excoriated him when he supposedly didn't do enough--the media seem content listening to Obama speak.
That the president may not be doing everything in his power, like, say, meeting with the CEO of British Petroleum, seems not even to cross their minds. So the only critique of the president that remains is one of style. By focusing on what the president has said--rather than what he has done--and how he has said it, the media have diverted (albeit unintentionally) attention from the administration's actual response to the spill to its emotional and verbal response.
Obama and his predecessor both accepted responsibility for the spill and Hurricane Katrina, respectively. But the mainstream press took the former at his word; they rightfully held him accountable for his administration's actions. No such accountability is present in the media's reporting on Obama's response to the Gulf spill.
We all know former Vice President Al Gore has a sycophantic media supporting him on his pet cause of global warming. But this might be a little over the top, or it could very well explain a lot.
In December 2007, when Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, The Washington Post's Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan argued the former vice president had won the Nobel Prize for "sexy." Well, apparently this is an inside-the-beltway notion that has existed for years.
On HBO's June 4 broadcast of "Real Time with Bill Maher," film producer, director, and screenwriter Judd Apatow harkened back to a 2000 cover of Rolling Stone magazine that revealed something about the former vice president during the Bush/Gore election cycle.
Did Ronald Reagan inspire one of the most famous lines in movie history? The widely quoted Dirty Harry "Do you feel lucky?" line.
That is what The Atlantic senior editor, Christopher Orr was wondering. Most of us would enjoy that premise. In the case of Orr, he found it "creepy." The Atlantic had posted a fascinating video clip from a 1954 General Electric Theater episode in which Ronald Reagan as a doctor confronts juvenile deliquent James Dean. Here is the analysis of that video from Orr:
...It's commonplace (and, I think, entirely accurate) to describe the "Dirty" Harry Callahan persona that Clint Eastwood wore to such effect beginning in 1971 as a harbinger of the Reagan Revolution. But who could possibly have imagined that, nearly two decades before Harry uttered his iconic, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" monologue--yes, I know the quote's not exact, but it's the accepted shorthand--Reagan himself would have uttered lines so uncannily alike? As Dean points his pistol at Reagan, the latter replies (shortly before the four-minute mark in the clip):
It's only a .32. It's not a very big bullet....You gotta be lucky, and if you're lucky--very lucky--then you've killed another man.... If you're not lucky, that bullet isn't gonna stop me.
Two reports linked by Instapundit earlier today demonstrate at a macro and micro level how weak the claim that Toyota has deliberately jeopardized consumer safety in connection with "sudden acceleration" complaints may ultimately turn out to be.
The macro piece comes from Megan McArdle (pictured at left; "How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars?") at her blog at the Atlantic. The magazine's business and economics editor dissected case-by-case detail originally compiled by the Los Angeles Times, which was also analyzed to an extent by Washington Examiner op-ed writer and Overlawyered blogger Ted Frank, to make important points about the likelihood of driver error in many of them.
The micro item comes from Michael Fumento, whose Forbes column takes apart the recent James Sikes "sudden acceleration" incident in California as it rips the establishment media for its total lack of skepticism about the driver's claims and his credibility.
First, to McArdle, who also has nicely done graphs at her post:
On Tuesday's Newsroom, CNN's Tony Harris applied liberal thinking on race to the unemployment rate, speculating if the debate over jobs would change if whites were out of work like minorities were: "I wonder what the discussion about jobs in this country would be like if the rate of white unemployment in this country was, say 15, 16 percent, as it is for African-Americans."
Harris brought up the race issue during a segment with Don Peck of The Atlantic 42 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour. Peck recently wrote an article for the publication on "how a new jobless era will transform America." Besides bringing up the unemployment rate of blacks, the CNN anchor also cited the 12-13 percent unemployment rate of Hispanics, and then quoted from Peck's article: "Make the point here- expand on the comment, 'It will leave an indelible comment on many blue-collar white men and on white culture.' What do you mean by that?"
There are no second acts in American lives. ---F. Scott Fitzgerald
Apparently writers Nicole Allan and Niraj Chokshi of Atlantic Magazine wish to hold open the possibility of a second act for disgraced John Edwards as they speculate about Is John Edwards Done Forever? Yes, all Sarah Palin has to do is read a few notes from the palm of her hand and this is enough to set off MSM liberals into a group hate rant about the former vice-presidential candidate. However, if you are a liberal the door is always open to you for a possible political comeback even if you cheat on your wife while she suffers from a deadly disease, make a sex tape with a mistress, lie about the paternity of your own child, initiate an elaborate coverup plan involving an aide falsely claiming paternity of the child, oh, and generally lie over a plethora of other issues while piously lecturing the country about "two Americas" as John Edwards has done.
So interested is the inadvertent comedy team of Allan and Chokshi in finding the possibities for a John Edwards comeback that they interviewed several experts on this subject. Stifle your bellylaughs as you read their findings:
Go on Oprah: "This whole notion of whether you're damaged goods or not has really changed in the last four or five years," said Peter Mirijanian of Mirijanian PR. " The public used to count people out and you wouldn't hear from them again. That's not the case anymore. There are so many ways to rehabilitate yourself ... The American public likes a feel-good story, they like a story of redemption." Five years ago, the well-trod path was to go on Larry King; today, it begins on Oprah. Edwards has "got to do the one interview. And I think it has to be a visual medium. I don't think the full-page story in the New York Times cuts it."
This is the end Beautiful friend This is the end My only friend, the end Of our elaborate plans, the end Of everything that stands, the end No safety or surprise, the end I'll never look into your eyes...again.
Break out the hankies! Andrew Sullivan has gone into deep melodrama mode over at The Atlantic and is now mourning the "looming landslide for Brown." For the gloomy Sullivan tomorrow could signal not only the loss of an election but also the loss of health care and, ultimately, the loss of socialist America itself. Enjoy the act from the Sullivan Theater as Andrew presents his version of The End:
"In the Karl Rove political playbook, more than one chapter covers the tactic of gay-baiting, which Mr. Rove has used to notorious electoral effect," Maddow said. "To quote a 2004 profile of Mr. Rove in The Atlantic magazine, quote, ‘One constant throughout his career is the prevalence of whisper campaigns against opponents. Often, a Rove campaign questions an opponent's sexual orientation.'"
Remember how outraged the left became when Michael Moore's movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, showed President George W. Bush not issuing a public statement on the Twin Tower attacks for several minutes until after the school children finished reading the Pet Goat story? Well, it is now almost two days since the Nigerian terrorist working at the behest of Al Qaeda attempted to blow up a passenger jet and still no public response from the current president, Barack Obama.
According to the associate editor of The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder, the reason for Obama's lack of response is that it is part of some sort of brilliant strategy:
There is a reason why Obama hasn't given a public statement. It's strategy.
Remember all those blog posts from the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan bashing Sarah Palin for employing a ghostwriter? Well, it turns out many of those posts may have been written by...a ghostblogger! Apparently Sullivan's busy schedule prevented him from writing everything on his site, so, without informing his readers, he employed a few ghostbloggers to write in his name.
Daily Dish readers were surely surprised at the announcement--posted by one of the ghostbloggers on Saturday--given Sullivan's insistence that his "one-man blog" is "honest" and "personal". They may have been a bit perturbed to learn, in Ace's words, that "half the blog isn't personal to Sullivan at all, and all of it is dishonest."
Responding to President Obama criticizing media coverage of the White House jobs summit, on Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews wondered why the President wasn’t more appreciative of all the media’s help: “Why would you ride the ref when he’s calling all the plays for you? What’s he out there bashing the media for?”
During a town hall meeting in Allentown, Pennsylvania on Friday, Obama remarked: “I noticed the press yesterday, because we had this jobs forum at the White House, they said ‘Obama’s finally pivoting to jobs.’ As if what we haven’t been doing for the whole nine months from the day I was sworn in and we start talking about the recovery was all about jobs.”
Matthews skeptically asked Newsweek’s Howard Fineman: “Can he [Obama] credibly say he’s been worrying about jobs all year?” Fineman proved Matthews point about the media “calling all the plays” for the President: “Oh, I think he can in one way or another. Yeah, I think he can because he would argue that the whole health care push is related to the well being of people and so forth.” However, Fineman did point out: “But again, 17% total of people who are – don’t have enough of a job or if you count the people who are underemployed as well. It’s a huge number.”
At the top of Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews discovered the reason for President Obama’s political difficulties in recent months: “President Obama has his chin out on just about every hot issue out there....He’s exposed and vulnerable. His poll numbers are dropping. Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egg head?”
Later in the show, Matthews talked to Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein and USA Today’s Susan Page about Obama’s great flaw. He began by wondering: “I’m not attacking intellectuals because I do appreciate their contribution – but when politicians begin to get a little too intellectual, they lose connection with the American people....I begin to think this administration’s getting almost like one that you would imagine Adlai Stevenson running. Highly ethereal, highly intellectual, egg head. Not connected to real people and their emotional gut feelings about things.”
Page agreed and pointed out: “...there are many strengths to the Obama administration, but they’ve got an awful lot of people who went to Ivy League schools, which is great, but you also need some people who went to big state colleges.” Luckily, Page found an ‘average Joe’ in the administration: “Vice President Biden’s been the target of some fun, he is maybe the only voice in that inner circle that reflects that kind of big state school mentality.”
Plenty of celebrities issued crazy statements in their efforts to defend director and rapist Roman Polanski but none went as far as author Gore Vidal did when he labeled Polanski's victim a "young hooker."
In an Oct. 28 interview with The Atlantic's John Meroney about a variety of topics, Vidal claimed he didn't "give a f---" about the Polanski case. "Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?"
A new Pew Research poll has much of the left and the mainstream media in a bit of a panic. And at least several media outlets are about to try something new to address it.
With cap-and-trade legislation stalled in Congress and an important climate change summit coming up in Copenhagen in December, Americans just aren’t as convinced as they should be that a) there’s evidence the planet is warming (57 percent), b) that warming is a serious problem (35 percent) and c) that humans cause it (36 percent). All those numbers have fallen significantly from their peak a couple of years ago.
Luckily, a there’s no shortage of “journalists” standing up to fight this deplorable trend. Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, co-editors of the left-wing magazine Mother Jones, announced on the publication’s Web site that “we’re forging a collaboration with a range of news organizations – magazines, online news sites, nonprofit reporting shops, multimedia operations.’ The purpose? To “synthesize disparate data points” and coordinate coverage of “the most important story of our time.”
Further down, the editors wrote:
We're also part of a team reporting effort focused on the critical Copenhagen talks; visit MotherJones.com for details. And while you're there, create your own climate message: You can make a Mother Jones cover featuring a picture of your child (or grandkid/nephew/cat), add a note [imploring action on global warming], and send it to your friends, your members of Congress, and your president. We'll feature them on our site.
The Atlantic's often-silly list (Paul Krugman is #1!) is not completely without value, however, as it provides a cautionary tale of how foolish we can look when we pretend there is no such thing as a conflict of interest.
When you think of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a man who has been found by his own public editor to actually make up economic data when it fits his agenda, do you consider him to be the most influential commentator in America?
Well, hold on to your chair, for the Atlantic magazine does.
According to the Atlantic, Krugman is more influential than Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly.
In fact, as far as these geniuses see it, Times columnists Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, and Frank Rich, as well as the Atlantic's own Andrew Sullivan, are more influential than Hannity and O'Reilly.
Actually, in the Atlantic 50, the man with the highest ratings on cable news is actually ranked 19th, while MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who typically attracts about one-third the viewers, is number 14 (h/t TVNewser):
She's been ridiculed by the so-called masters of the universe in the mainstream media for warning President Barack Obama's health care proposals could result in one of one of her loved ones having to stand in front of one of "Obama's death panels" to determine their "level of productivity in society" to see if they are worthy of health care. But despite the criticism, she's not backing down from those statements.
She pointed out the president wanted to create a bureaucracy called the "Independent Medicare Advisory Council," which is as she says is "an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts charged with containing Medicare costs." She wrote it is policy gestures as such as that and other cost-cutting suggestions that have her concerned.
Appearing on MSNBC shortly after 1 p.m. EST with anchor Andrea Mitchell, The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein rebuked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for drawing a legitimate criticism of President-elect Obama's choice of what he described as the "sharp-elbowed" Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief-of-staff (see video embedded at right, transcript is below page break).
Mitchell dismissed as "warfare" and Brownstein hit as "reflexive partisanship" Boehner's rather mild statement:
This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.
Megan McArdle, a blogger for TheAtlantic.com who has said she's voting for Obama, slammed the media in an appearance on Reason.tv's "The Talkshow" for not bringing up Sen. Joseph Biden's past as a "corporate sellout." McArdle said that was quite relevant when the Democratic candidates try to oppose financial deregulation in campaign appearances.
"And here is where I am willing to say the media is giving Obama a pass on a bunch of stuff that they shouldn't be ... It's ridiculous that no one is bringing up every time - every time Obama says anything about financial deregulation, Joe Biden's history should be trotted out and it's not and I'm not sure why," McArdle said to host Nick Gillespie.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey to see what the audiences of the various political shows knew about politics, and what they found goes against the conventional wisdom about whose audience is better informed about current events. With a simple three-question survey about politicians in high office, it turned out that the audiences of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity answered more questions correctly than fans of the "Colbert Report," "The Daily Show," and CNN.
The quiz asked the names of two of the world's leaders and one party in power to determine what audience is most well informed. Survey participants were asked the names of the Secretary of State, the British Prime Minister, and the name of the party currently controlling the House of Representatives.