Andrew Breitbart has found a simple remedy to at least some of the problems that ail contemporary journalism: cold, hard cash. Yesterday he offered $100,000 to anyone who will supply him with the full archive of JournoList, the email listserve that brought down Dave Weigel.
"$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save, " Breitbart wrote yesterday. Americans "deserve to know who was colluding against them," he added, "so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised."
And there's the rub: Breitbart is attempting to out liberal journalists as just that: liberal. His tactics and his objectives have been dubbed by some on the left as "digital McCarthyism," in the words of Michael Roston, "in which any of us could become the next Dave Weigel based not on the public output of our journalism, but based on our private sentiments."
Given that our tax dollars are subsidizing her salary, is it too much to expect PBS's Bonnie Erbe to have at least some intelligent command of the issues of the day?
On second thought, don't answer that.
In her latest blogging misadventure at USNews.com, the "To the Contrary" host portrayed yesterday's 5-4 ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicagoas a blow to "local rights":
The Supreme Court's decision, taking away important local rights to control gun ownership, marks another sad day in America's now seemingly endless political appetite for increasing the number of privately owned guns in this country.
"The last day of school shouldn't mean last call for lunch."
That's how CBS's Katie Couric melodramatically concluded her June 25 "Notebook" item on her CBSNews.com Couric & Co. blog.
The "Evening News" anchor pointed to a report by the liberal Center for American Progress -- without, of course, noting the group's leftward bent -- that found "that nearly 20 million children get free or reduced-price lunch at school. But only one in six of them will receive subsidized meals this summer."
Couric concluded from this that "[n]early one in four children is at risk for hunger" over the summer and called "essential" a bill before Congress to "improve access to summer meals."
Of course nowhere in her Notebook item did Couric weigh whether this might be a matter better left to state and local governments -- especially when the federal government is drowning in red ink -- or better yet, to parents themselves.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the source of the lawsuit decided today by the Supreme Court, ten people were killed by guns after 54 people were shot over the weekend. The victims included a baby girl, who suffered a neck graze wound at a midnight barbecue, early Monday morning.
Something tells me Scherer's observation isn't that the Chicago gun ban has been a horrendous failure, especially given his attribution of violence in the brief blog post on the guns themselves -- "ten people were killed by guns" -- not the criminals who used them.
One emerging narrative from the tale of Dave Weigel's resignation is the extent to which the journalistic left is insulated from opposing views. The two institutions involved, JournoList and the Washington Post, are exemplars of liberal epistemic closure.
Ezra Klein's now-defunct email list provided a forum for journalists to collaborate, as long as they were, in his words, "nonpartisan to liberal, center to left." No conservatives allowed. The Washington Post, meanwhile, hired Weigel, perhaps two notches left of center, to cover the right, while relying on Klein, a full eight notches left, to cover the liberal movement.
The scarcity of conservative views both on JournoList and in the Post demonstrate the insularity of political conversation among legacy media players. They apply intense scrutiny to conservatives, and fail in the most basic measures of introspection.
UPDATE | Lachlan Markay - 6/25, 3:00 PM: A roundup of reactions from all over the blogosphere and twitterverse below the fold.
Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel resigned today after a host of offensive e-mails surfaced revealing his disdain for much of the right - the beat he was charged with covering. Fishbowl DC, which published a number of those emails yesterday, confirmed the resignation with the Post just after noon.
Yesterday I reported on leaked emails from Weigel to a listserve of liberal journalists bashing conservatives and conservatism - you know, the people Weigel is supposed to be covering. As bad as those email were, a plethora of messages from Weigel published in the Daily Caller take the conservative-bashing to a whole new level.
The new emails also demonstrated that yesterday's quasi-apology from Weigel was really not as sincere as he claimed. He said that he made some of his most offensive remarks at the end of a bad day. But these new emails show that there was really nothing unique about them, and that offensive remarks about conservatives really were nothing new or uncommon.
UPDATE - 6/25, 2:20 PM | Lachlan Markay :Weigel resigned Friday after the Daily Caller published a number of additional emails that put these to shame. Details here.
Many conservatives, including a number of NewsBusters contributors, have been skeptical of Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel since he was hired in March to cover the right. Time and again, those concerns have been vindicated as Weigel has ridiculed a number of conservatives and conservative positions.
It seems that the Washington Post has little interest in an objective blog-based approach to the news -- something this humble blogger has noted previously. Likewise, Weigel seems to have little interest in covering the right with an even hand; he has consistently shown his disdain for the movement and its members.
The website Fishbowl DC today published a number of excerpts of emails from Weigel to an email list created by fellow Post blogger Ezra Klein ridiculing various conservatives. He says he hopes Matt Drudge will "set himself on fire" and dubbed Tea Party protesters "Paultard[s]," a crude reference to Ron Paul.
If the bloggers at Daily Kos can imply that Keith Olbermann isn't pro-Obama enough for them, you can only imagine what they think of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The Kosmonaut known simply as "Overlander" relayed that the general has written short stories with plots about presidential assassination, so clearly it's a "fantasy" of his:
I hope the Secret Service strip searches this monstrous thug before his meeting with Obama in the White House Wednesday. For the humiliation, mainly. But you can't be too careful with this devil.
Hastings' article reveals that sometimes, America's military is not made up of our best and brightest, but of our sickest and most pathological criminals. Half frat boy, half eighth-grader, half murderer and all evil, McChrystal is a sad remnant of Donald Rumsfeld's dysfunctional Pentagon who should have been kicked out of the military in West Point rather than be allowed to slouch his way through a brutal career and find his way into the White House.
When the vitriol is too much for Keith Olbermann, something is seriously wrong.
The MSNBC prime time anchor parted ways with the far-left Web site Daily Kos on Wednesday, citing the site's apparent unflinching, see-no-evil attitude towards President Obama, and the omnipresence of wild leftist conspiracy theories there.
"You want Cheerleaders? Hire the Buffalo Jills," Olbermann wrote. "You want diaries with conspiracy theories, go nuts. If you want this site the way it was even a year ago, let me know and I'll be back."
The divorce came after Kossacks relentlessly railed on Olbermann for having the gall to criticize their dear leader for his let-down of a national address on Tuesday. He took to his Twitter account to defend the decision.
ABC has pulled its ads from gossip blogger Perez Hilton's Web site, PerezHilton.com, after he caught legal flack for posting upskirt photos of 17-year-old Disney star Miley Cyrus. However, several big-name companies still have ads running on the snarky blogger's site.
Amid speculation that Hilton may be slapped with kiddie-porn charges over the lurid photos, ABC has removed its ads for "The View" from the popular gossip site. But other advertisers appear to be sticking by Hilton. TV Land still had a full-page background promotion and two smaller ads on PerezHilton.com, and Apple iTunes and Microsoft's search engine Bing still had advertisements up as of Wednesday afternoon.
The drama started Monday, when Hilton posted a link to a photo of Cyrus getting out of a car in a tight white dress - and apparently, no underwear. Outrage erupted over the photo, with some calling the image "child pornography" since Cyrus is legally a minor. Hilton quickly removed the picture, but has brushed off the incident as a "fake" controversy.
It's odd that Microsoft, which owns Bing, would opt to keep advertising. It has recently been touting its own crusade against kiddie-porn.
Adler's chief complaint with last night's Oval Office address: Obama didn't call for massive tax hikes to push Americans to make more politically correct spending choices.
The Newsweek writer -- formerly a self-styled "propagandist" for the liberal Center for American Progress -- avoided the T-word until his last paragraph, but he made abundantly clear that he felt that a) American stupidity and short-sightedness was threatening to literally drown Manhattan in rising sea levels and b) Obama was not doing enough to make government force people to make better choices with their own money (emphases mine):
To be sure, Hall says, "No he's not a hero. He's a jerk," but he only added that part in after his post was savaged by commenters. Earlier versions of the post, including the one automatically posted to Beltway Blips and the excerpt on Hall's author page show that clarification was added later, and the post itself notes, "Edit. note – this post has been slightly edited for clarity from an earlier iteration."
Hall's defense of Etheridge echos the DNC talking points that the videographers were unidentified and probably conservative. After all, assault is perfectly fine as long as it is done to a conservative or an alleged Republican operative. (Indeed, the media seems to have adopted this lesson in the Tea Party movement.) Hall said:
Poor Barack Obama. Being president can take a lot out of him. That's why he needs to relax on the links, and relieve some stress into his golf game. No problem, says the Washington Post, the Gulf Spill can wait. This is the same Washington Post that berated President Bush for golfing while an armed conflict was taking place…in Israel.
Not that suicide bombings in Israel are an unserious matter, but doesn't the disaster in the Gulf require at least as much attention (far more, in my mind) from the President? The Post doesn't seem to think so.
So while the paper decried Bush's "golf cart diplomacy" and devoted over 600 words to suggesting that Bush's golf game was distracting from his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Post found no such grounds to criticize Obama. As a reporter for one of the paper's blogs put it, "who cares?" Obviously not the Post (h/t Jim Hoft).
On the eve of the one year anniversary of the most recent Iranian presidential election, the Web site for The New Republic gave space to Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) to lament the Obama administration's feckless response to the corrupt Iranian regime's crackdown on protesters and its continued quest for nuclear weapons and terrorist sponsorship under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In response two days later, Time's Joe Klein resorted to his typical petulant bluster to berate the generally liberal magazine and divert attention from the real issue of Obama's leadership:
The New Republic perplexes me. It has some of the best and smartest writing around. And then it allows John McCain, whose lack of knowledge about Iran is encyclopedic, to hold forth in its pages.
Klein's June 13 Swampland blog post at Time.com focused on one brief excerpt of McCain's item, launching into how he felt McCain was not nuanced enough and hence lacks credibility to address the issue:
Media bias often shows itself in which organizations journalists choose to cite or ignore. A very prevalent form of this bias is selective reporting on polling data--polls that show results friendly to the liberal position like are touted while those that show the opposite are buried.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd, pictured right, is the latest reporter to demonstrate such a bias. He took Rasmussen Reports to task on Twitter yesterday, claiming it is "has a horrible track record and us [sic] proven to be unreliable" and is really "[n]ot a serious polling firm." Todd said he would only report on "numbers from a more reliable pollster."
Apparently one such pollster, in the mind of Todd's cable network at least, is Research 2000. But R2K was recently rated one of the least reliable major polling firms in existence by liberal statistician Nate Silver. R2K was not even accurate enough for the Daily Kos, which officially dropped the firm on Wednesday.
UPDATE: Kosmonauts upset Obama flack decried Helen Thomas comments: "when has he [Obama] ever kicked anyone's ass? Not counting little old ladies, that is."
Even as she sneered that the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine," Helen Thomas could easily find fervent defenders in the hard-left environs of the Daily Kos. Some of them couldn't believe such a sweet and good-natured woman would be demonized. The blogger "General Choomin" literally claimed that on Tuesday night:
This diary is mostly about the smear campaign aimed at Helen Thomas and how right wing propaganda easily mixes with Israeli propaganda. It is a story that people would label me as crazy if I didn't have the facts to back it up. How could such a good natured woman have so many people denounce her without even knowing the effort that went into it? How could so many people turn their backs on her even though she served her country in a way that most civilians never could?
Perhaps these people should try being on the other end of one of her rants before they try to paint her as Sweet Polly Purebred. "Chipoliwog" agreed on Tuesday that Helen the "patient heroine" had been wronged and her legacy of greatness was unappreciated:
Yesterday, the world lost the voice of one of it's greatest journalists. Lost to the exigencies of political correctness. Hoisted on her own petard.
"When CNN bid for the front row in 2007, Fox could have challenged it and had a knock-down, drag-out fight like the one we might have this time," Henry said. "But they did the gentlemanly thing and said CNN had more seniority. I've got to honor that commitment."
An emerging defense of Helen Thomas's "Jews go home" comment is that either what she said really was not that bad, or that others occasionally say worse things without the same level of reproach.
Richard Greener, writing at the Huffington Post on Monday, was so close to making a good point. He noted that a number of other public figures have said things that could reasonably be interpreted as more offensive than Helen Thomas's comment, and have not been forced into retirement.
Though Greener neglected to note the higher standard to which White House correspondents are inevitably held, his credibility was instantly reduced to ashes when the only example of vitriol from the left he could come up with was Keith Olbermann saying Sarah Palin is "an idiot." And he even followed it up with a pathetic attempt to satiate his readership's intense hatred for Palin (and Olby affection) by noting that "perhaps truth is an absolute defense."
Well that didn't take long. The folks at the left-wing MoveOn.org are practically in mourning over Helen Thomas's "retirement."
Just a few hours after news broke that Hearst columnist Helen Thomas is calling it quits after a viral video of her anti-Semitic comments led to widespead condemnation of the White House press corps dean.
The abrupt retirement of Helen Thomas from her perch as the ranking member of the White House press corps was essentially accepted as a fait accompli by supporters and detractors alike after her controversial remarks urging Jews to leave Israel surfaced.
Indeed, if there was any defense made of Thomas's comments, it wasn't done persuasively or at an influential level. But that didn't stop the progressive community -- many hearing about her retirement while at the Campaign for America's Future conference in D.C. -- from collectively fretting on Monday about what the loss of her voice bodes for the day-to-day interaction between the White House and the Fourth Estate.
Her absence will be felt "significantly," said Ilyse Hogue, Communications Director of Moveon.org. "The burden will fall on the rest of the press corps to make sure the administration feels the need to be transparent about its plans to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan."
Sexism is a selective phenomenon for much of the media. It seems even satirical or light-hearted content, when produced by conservatives, has the amazing ability to acquire the label while even the most vitriolic and derogatory liberal writings can avoid it.
RightWingNews, the popular conservative blog, surely knew it would garner some disdain from the left in publishing its 2010 edition of the "20 Hottest Conservative Women In The New Media." Right on cue, Newsweek weighed in with accusations of "gender hypocrisy." Full disclosure: NB's own Dan Gainor was one of the judges.
One of the top 20--Lori Ziganto, aka "Snark and Boobs," of RedState and NewsReal, among others--took to publicly shaming the magazine for its own show of hypocrisy: implying that women (or maybe just conservative ones) must be intelligent or attractive, not both. Of course this is all from the same magazine that published the cover at right.
The amateur liberal blogosphere is dead, according to a prominent lefty blogger. Chris Bowers made his proclamation Thursday, on the heels of the New York Times's acquisition of FiveThirtyEight, a prominent liberal polling site run by Nate Silver.
Silver, pictured right, was the latest in a string of moves from the liberal blogosphere to traditional media outlets. The Washington Post has, with much fanfare, beefed up its blogging staff of late, most recently by hiring Dave Weigel to cover the political right.
The trend of professionalization should not be surprising. Traditional media are overwhelming liberal, and new media comprise some of the sharpest journalistic minds the nation has to offer. Traditional media need ways to remain relevant. Why wouldn't they draw talent from the vast pool of bloggers?
Daily Kos boss Markos Moulitsas is scheduled to appear on Jake Tapper's Sunday roundtable on This Week tomorrow. It would be great -- although the odds are very slim -- if Tapper would quote some of this Daily Kos bilge and ask Moulitsas to defend it. This Saturday morning post by Karen Hedwig Backman imagined Dick Cheney as a malevolent Angel of Death. It's called "Dick Cheney's Dismal Swamp of Death," and is so overwrought it's unintentionally funny:
A vast sea of dead and dying creatures presided over by the fat, repulsive Angel of Death Cheney. His ratlike minions scuttle around clutching their Blackberries and chittering corporate code.
Gloating, he hovers over the Gulf of Mexico, his oil-grimed black wings sinuously flapping... eldest daughter gleefully yapping at his ankles.
For the moment they are strangely silent, after months of constant presence on accommodating American television, showboating on Fox, one hopes that they might at last be experiencing guilt and shame -- but no.
They are momentarily stunned by the awesomeness of their success, silently savoring the sight of their spoils, dying pelicans dripping crude oil on the beaches, whitening and fouling corpses of fish, sea mammals, all manner of dead creatures brought to life by the seas and felled by the U.S. Supreme Court-strengthened arm of the Almighty Corporation.
Writing anonymously at the Daily Caller, an anchor for a prominent TV news channel called that channel's coverage of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla "an abomination" and "grotesquely distorted and biased."
"I’m embarrassed by our coverage," the Anchorman concluded in an unsent email to his boss. "I take this job and my reputation seriously. But that’s nearly impossible with coverage like this." He accused the network of "acting as a public relations arm of Hamas."
The Anchorman, his pseudonym at the Daily Caller, was livid about his news organization's kid-gloves treatment of controversial former US ambassador Edward Peck. In an interview with Peck, the Anchorman claims, an on-air personality omitted "anything that might cast the slightest doubt on Pecks political motivations."
It seems that the vast majority of journalists who bemoan unaccountable, unabashedly opinionated digital reporting are the same ones who have, without challenge, pushed a liberal perspective through their own reporting.
The latest such journalist, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, is concerned that "nobody is cross-examining" the "position papers" that supposedly comprise a critical mass of new media journalism. Of course without new media, Fineman's position papers would be virtually immune from meaningful cross examination.
His position is common among the media's old guard: accountability for thee, but not for me. This view stems both from a sort of meta-double standard: Fineman and his ilk extrapolate a few bad apples among the new media crowd into a larger trend of malfeasance, while treating instances of journalistic malpractice among old media reporters as isolated incidents that have no real bearing on Old Media's accountability (or lack thereof).
Parts of the U.S. establishment press have acknowledged "climate science" reality, six months late.
The fallout from ClimateGate (link is to the NewsBusters tag), the name eventually given to the scandal resulting from the unauthorized posting of over 1,000 emails and dozens of documents obtained from University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, goes back a full six months to November of last year.
On November 20, Australia's Andrew Bolt crisply described the contents of the aforementioned items as providing substantial evidence of: "Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more."
Time's Michael Crowley, late of the liberal publication The New Republic, took to his new magazine's Swampland blog with a salutatory post yesterday. After the obligatory kind words about how excited he was to be on board "another great [journalistic] institution," Crowley laid out his case about why author Joe McGinniss was foolish for renting a house right next door to the Palin family's Wasilla residence.
He did take a few swipes at Palin in the process -- arguing Palin is on a mission to discredit journalists and this just bolsters her argument -- but Crowley's case is the polar opposite of Slate's Jack Shafer, who defiantly praised McGinniss's journalistic "a**holery." Here's the relevant excerpt from Crowley's May 27 post (emphases mine):
Imagine if, in 2004, Karl Rove had offered then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) a cushy administration post if only he dropped his primary challenge of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, whom the Bush White House was backing for reelection.
Surely the media would merely smell "stupid politics" rather then the stench of corruption and complain that Democrats making hay of the matter were cynically making a federal case out of something that happens in Washington all the time.
Of course both you and I know that's the exact opposite of what would happen. But when it comes to Joe Sestak's alleged job offer by the Obama White House, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald is peeved at Republicans, practically telling them in his May 27 "Viewpoint" post at Time.com to move along:
From the "Did I Say That Out Loud?" Department: "Crashing Vor" on the Daily Kos asserted on Tuesday morning that a good crisis should never go to waste. The Gulf oil spill must be exploited, and the greens must "use this moment, use the deaths of species and the suffering of people who depend on them, in the most cynical, calculated way, as bad as a Republican after 9/11, to make real, lasting change in how we address the costs of our way of life." That means a command-and-control "climate change" bill. Get it now, before stupid Americans lose interest:
There is only one possible redemption in this horror, and even that is a slim chance. If the enormity of what has happened in the Gulf can hold the country's atrophied attention long enough, and if we can mobilize fast enough, we might, just might, be able to bring about a positive change from this:
Real and comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
We must act now to force our legislators to write law with teeth and real effect, law that requires consumers pay the true price of the carbon they burn, law that requires business to pay the true price of the carbon they spew, law that includes the costs of things "no one could have anticipated" into the price of doing business.