Regular viewers of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart are accustomed by now to the verbal battles that ensue when Stewart brings conservative guests on his show. The guests usually leave with a bit of egg on their faces, and Stewart comes off as the hard hitting, divisive and sarcastic critic.
But viewers were treated to a rare dose of sincerity and intelligent debate on Monday, when Stewart hosted former legal counsel for the Bush Justice Department John Yoo. Following up on what was a meaningful and intelligent interview Monday night, Stewart apologized to his audience on Tuesday for not being his usual cutthroat self, and daring to discuss issues in a civilized tone.
Yoo and Stewart duked it out for almost 30 minutes (videos below the fold), but the host did not manage to get the better of Yoo, who is now infamous among liberal circles for writing the legal briefs justifying expanded executive powers to combat terrorism under the previous administration.
Stewart ended the segment with a very uncharacteristic--given his tendency to demonize conservatives--call for civility in the public discourse (brief partial transcript after videos):
What's up with Keith Olbermann's strange obsession with STDs? A few months ago, the Countdown host invoked "syphilis" in slurring Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Olbermann had venereal disease on the noggin again tonight . . .
Trying to trash Tucker Carlson for accepting sponsorship for his new Daily Caller website, Olbermann suggested that, for money, Carlson might consider endorsing "gonorrhea."
Olbermann indulged his odd obsession in the course of naming his quondam MSNBC colleague tonight's "Worser" person in the world.
In it, he clearly delineates the difference between "the news" as establishment media outlets want it dispensed and the "market for information" that technology has created. Its only shortcoming is that he gives Arianna Huffington a pass for "coming to the table as an honest broker." I'll point out glaring examples that will disprove that notion later.
First, though, behold the beauty of Breitbart's treatment of the issue of "objectivity" and his clear statement relating to the two types of information choices we have:
The launch of the Daily Caller is a necessary step toward creating ideological parity in the all-too-clearly biased mainstream media. It is a good thing that you, Tucker, are admitting that you come to the table with certain ideological baggage, and my new site Big Journalism will be there to watch your back when the well-funded, organized left’s knives come out to try to discredit and attempt to destroy you. Believe me, they will.
While he conceded that liberal labor unions, particularly "reactionary" teachers unions have had a role in California's fiscal mess, Time columnist and blogger Joe Klein placed the lion's share of the Golden State's woes on conservatives who have pushed for lower taxes.
Upset that conservative writer George Will had chalked up "all that is wrong in California at liberalism's doorstep," Klein used a January 10 Swampland blog post to slam the columnist for failing to assign any blame on the 1978 property tax-limiting Proposition 13 and the resulting "public pathology that we've inherited from the Reagan Era" whereby "the public wants a modified welfare state, excellent schools, a clean environment, low college tuitions...but it's not willing to pay for them."
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Monthly Budget Review for December 2009. It estimates that December's federal deficit will be $92 billion when the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement on Wednesday, and that the deficit for the first fiscal quarter will be "about $390 billion." The CBO director's related blog post is here. The establishment press has virtually ignored it.
Here is the initial result of a Google News search on "CBO deficit" (not in quotes) for articles relating to the Congressional Budget Office's Thursday estimate of the federal government's deficit for the first quarter of its fiscal year:
Clicking on the "all 10 new articles" reveals that there are really only four results, that three of them are at blogs, and that only one of the blog posts is from an establishment media site:
On his radio show Friday, Rush Limbaugh expressed frustration with how the Obama administration’s economic policies are designed to squelch economic recovery: "This government is governing against its own citizens. This president and his party are governing against us. We are at war with our own President, we are at war with our own government. They’re the ones standing in the way of the private sector rebounding. They’re the ones standing in the way of job creation – purposely!"
But in the hyperbolic imaginations of the bloggers at Daily Kos, this is a call for violent revolution and harming President Obama. So wrote Lauren Monica:
Today, on his radio show, The Head of the Republican Party is officially asking His Dittoheads to harm the President of the United States and other Dems Leaders in Congress. He said "We are at war with our own President, we are at war with our own government". Translation, Mr Limbaugh just had committed treason by calling for a "violent" revolt (with the use of the word "War") against the President Of The United States.
"Not in sync with the current program" is how former CNN host Tucker Carlson describes his new website, the Daily Caller, which is scheduled to launch Monday. Designed as a conservative answer to the Huffington Post, the Daily Caller will do what few center-right blogs have attempted: report hard news.
Carlson and his partner, former Dick Cheney aide Neil Patel, have raised $3 million in startup capital for the site, according to the Washington Independent. That impressive sum is enough to keep the Daily Caller operating for about a year. The site will employ a reporting staff or 21 in its Washington, D.C. office.
With Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism, which launched earlier this week, Carlson hopes to be on the cutting edge of a new effort on the right to circumvent major media outlets--and overcome the significant obstacles to conservative news of traditional media outlets.
The Obama presidential campaign indisputably used new media better than any before it to build a virtual army of grassroots supporters, and to wield that army as a powerful tool for fundraising, rapid response messaging, and boots-on-the-ground campaigning.
But the energy that surrounded Obama and his team after the election, and supporters' expectations that President Obama would be the empowering community organizer that was Candidate Obama, fizzled as it became clear--campaign slogans notwithstanding--this administration represented less change then it would have the country believe.
After the election, commentators buzzed about the potential for a small-d democratic upheaval in the American political process that the Obama camp's mastery of new media could bring about. Newsweek summed up the excitement in the lede of an article in late November:
If there was ever any doubt National Public Radio had a political slant, check out the animated video posted on the network's Web site. That should clear up any doubt.
This video dated Nov. 12, 2009 was created by Mark Fiore, a political animator, who NPR reports is described by The Wall Street Journal as "the undisputed guru of the form." The video demonstrates for viewers how to speak "tea bag," which is a term lefties for whatever reason seem to find absolutely hilarious. (h/t Jesse Hathaway via Bob Parks). Transcript as follows:
Moderator: Finally, learning a new language doesn't have to be hard. You can be fluent in conversational tea bag in just a few short minutes. Lesson one: Don't get distracted by the confusing words of other languages. Character: I think the public option and the competition it would foster would really -- socialist, socialist. Moderator: Good, very good. Lesson two: If you're having trouble understanding the words of others or being understood yourself, use teabag's stronger, more descriptive words. Character: The Nazi, Nazi, Nazi
When it comes to freedom of speech, liberal journalists are the staunchest of defenders, right? Not so much when it comes to blasting Republican senators opposed to ObamaCare for "borderline sedition" that "comes dangerously close to inciting violence."
"The crisis of confidence in this country is now at an apex that has not seen in over 150 years, and that lack of confidence undermines the ability of legitimate governance," he said. "There's a lot of people out there today who...will say, 'I give up on my government,' and rightly so."
Of course, many liberals said similar things about losing faith in their government during the previous administration, one with which Klein had many disagreements, most if not all of which he took to Time's pages or Web site to bluster about. I don't recall any concern from Klein about seditious liberals or Democrats when George Bush or Dick Cheney was the object of harsh rhetoric.
But leave it to a Republican senator to criticize the pork barreling and special exemptions Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has given to fellow Democrats to buy a cloture vote, and it's damn near seditious to Klein:
Bad blood brewing between Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews?
Schultz today invited a guest on his show for the express purpose of taking shots at fellow MSNBCer Matthews!
On yesterday's Hardball, Matthews criticized the netroots who are trashing the watered-down ObamaCare bill. "I don't consider them Democrats," said Matthews, dismissing them as "troublemakers." Concluded Chris: "they get their giggles sitting in the back seat and bitching."
On his show this evening, Schultz invited netroot-in-chief Markos Moulitsas on to fire back at Matthews. Not merely did Schultz offer Kos a platform, he prodded him with leading questions sure to stir up a pointed response. Kos was only too happy to take up the cudgel, accusing Matthews of being "trapped in a bubble," "not learning from his mistakes," and warning that Matthews "has a thing coming."
Today, it sounds like the president has finally reached that point with the Senate Democrats and their increasingly aggravating health-care squabbles. He's ready to issue a steely "Enough." And not a minute too soon.
Not a minute too soon? Isn't Connolly supposed to be an objective reporter, not a cheerleader for a political party and its agenda? Oh, that's right, this is Newsweek, the magazine whose editor actually aspires to a smaller (and more liberal?) audience.
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."
On Wednesday’s Situation Room, CNN correspondent Jeanne Moos exposed some of the left-wing rage being directed at Senator Joe Lieberman, especially on the Internet. Moos’s examples of “liberal hate” at the Connecticut politician ranged from fantasy Hanukkah gifts, such as a muzzle, to a YouTube video of a woman having her cats attack a string which stood in for the senator [Moos's full report is available here].
The correspondent’s latest light report for CNN highlighted Liberman’s “new low among liberals.” Along with the multiple examples of leftists mocking the senator on YouTube.com, Moos noted the strong reactions from “progressive radio hosts,” such as Mike Malloy, and attacks on liberal blogs like The Huffington Post and Daily Kos:
A former war correspondent for CNN is threatening legal action against bloggers who suggest that video of him reporting the first Gulf War from a television studio is "fake news." The video shows Charles Jaco and another correspondent dramatically recounting events from the Persian Gulf, and later shows Jaco and the camera crew joking around in what appears to be a television studio (video embedded below the fold).
"My attorneys intend to act immediately against those of you receiving this who have sent and forwarded these emails accusing me of falsifying coverage," Jaco wrote in a memo to a local blogger who circulated the video via email. He also announced his intention to demand that LiveLink and YouTube remove the video from their respective sites.
Adler praised Douthat for saying that conservatives need to "take ownership of prison reform" to "correct the system they helped build" but took strong exception to his suggestion that, even so, Democrats "still lack credibility on crime policy."
As evidence for how Democrats are tough on crime, however, Adler pointed to gun control, Clinton's gimmicky COPS program, Waco, and the Elian Gonzales ordeal:
A number of the conservative movement's prominent online figures are battling to be the right's equivalent of Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post--political organizations that report hard news. Many believe that to truly harness the power of the Web, political organizations must report their own news, rather than comment on reporitng from traditional outlets.
"The left needs Daily Kos, but they also need the Huffington Post," Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis told Politico. He praised the roles of activists and opinion commentators on the right such as Red State's Erick Erickson, but noted that the conservatives have not yet matched the left's capability for original reporting.
Though HuffPo, TPM, and other politcally stilted but journalism-oriented sites, liberals "have the ability to amplify stories into the mainstream media conversation," according to Politico. Conservatives have a large void to fill when it comes to producing original content, rather than solely commenting on what is already out there. There are conservative sites providing original reporting, but there are so far no center-right equivalents to the left's powerhouse online news operations.
In what is easily the dopiest question I've read from a religion blogger in a while, Chicago Tribune's Manya Brachear closed her December 8 The Seeker blog post by asking readers if "dissenters" like pro-choice nun Sister Donna Quinn of Chicago "strengthen the church." In November, Quinn went public with news that she has "been rebuked for escorting patients into a Hinsdale clinic that provides abortions."
In "Pro-choice nun still fighting for women's care," Brachear explained how Quinn "is not backing down from her support of abortion rights, applauding the defeat of an amendment today that would have added restrictions to the health care bill for women seeking abortions."
Oh, it gets worse. Quinn apparently used the Virgin Mary as cover for sanctifying her pro-abortion views:
Battling the "Democrat-media complex" is hard work, but Andrew Breitbart shows no signs of letting up. He announced today in an interview with Mediaite that he will launch a new site entitled "Big Journalism" in January designed solely, in his blunt words, to "fight the mainstream media."
Big Journalism will be the latest addition to the prominent network of Breitbart's sites, which include aggregator Breitbart.com, video site BreitbartTV, and center-right blogs Big Government and Big Hollywood. After Big Journalism, he told Mediaite, will come Big Education, Big Tolerance, Big Jerusalem, and Big Peace.
As for Big Journalism, Breitbart says he is determined to combat liberal media outlets "who have repeatedly, and under the guise of objectivity and political neutrality, promoted a blatantly left-of-center, pro-Democratic party agenda."
Newsweek writer and native Australian Katie Connolly set out to lecture American readers today on the magazine's Gaggle blog yesterday about how Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize isn't really about the man or the United States as a country, but rather the U.S. as a lofty ideal -- an ideal she reckons in the eyes of "the collective world" to have been "almost entirely undone" by the Bush administration.
As such, Connolly tells us in her December 9 post that Obama had to show kindly Norweigans that his countrymen aren't such a rude, rabble-rousing lot after all, an impression she insists was given by how many Americans exercised that all-too-American ideal of free speech when they criticized the awarding of the Nobel to the freshman president (emphases mine):
Some climate alarmists are so invested in their beliefs and corresponding policy preferences that even a joke at their expense is grounds for disownment. New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin saw this trend first-hand when he cracked a joke about Copenhagen prostitutes, and was threatened with a "cutoff" by one of the world's leading alarmists.
"My lord. Copenhagen prostitutes push back on warnings about their services & offer free sex for cop15? http://j.mp/cop15sex". So read a tweet from Revkin, which he published on the Times's Dot Earth blog. The University of Illinois's Michael Schlesinger sent a furious email to Revkin, calling his "unbelievable and unacceptable" joke "gutter reportage."
But an even more serious crime on Revkin's part was his audacity in relaying the words of others that criticize the close relationships between climate scientists and liberal advocacy groups:
Voters in state after state have said no to gay marriage. So what's the lesson Newsweek's Sarah Kliff draws?
Well, maybe it's time for the gay marriage lobby to go over the heads of the people and push Congress to act.
Reacting to yesterday's 38-24 vote by the Democratic-majority New York State Senate to kill a gay marriage bill, Kliff suggested in a December 2 The Gaggle blog post:
Rather than pursuing piecemeal, state-level initiatives, which do not have a great track record, perhaps the movement, en masse, ought to focus on pressuring Congress and President Obama to take more decisive action.
I'm not the first to make this suggestion. The issue came to a head in October, when gay-rights activists organized—and argued over—their first large march in Washington since 2000.
Of course, as a journalist, it should not be Kliff's place to pen the game plan for a movement's political agenda. Hers should be to call the game, not the plays, yet the Newsweek writer continued by describing her shift in sideline strategy (emphasis mine):
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell will appear on a live 20 to 30-minute-long Web cast starting at noon EST. You can submit a comment or question in the comments field below the video window there.
How much can the left-wing blogosphere hate Dick Cheney? Apparently enough to compare him to notorious Seventies serial killers. The blogger calling himself "Meteor Blades" at Daily Kos compared Cheney to Ted Bundy in a post Tuesday afternoon titled "The Last Person Who Should Be Opening His Mouth."
Whatever Democrats think about Obama's plans for Afghanistan, he writes, "the one thing we can all agree on is that we're sick of hearing arsonists hanging around the fire they started telling us the best way put it out." He's furious that Politico would carry Cheney's criticism of Obama:
It takes no special effort or reading between the lines to see the main theme behind Cheney's remarks: Obama is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Nothing any Democratic President can do will ever stop the flow of "weak-on-defense" canards that began 60 years ago with shrieks of "Who Lost China?"....
...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.
"In today's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer takes great pains to paint a bleak picture of health care reform as ‘monstrous,' ‘overregulated,' and rife with ‘arbitrary bureaucratic inventions,'" Pfeiffer wrote. "The columnist's argument may be cogent and well-written, but it is wholly inaccurate."