With his approval numbers sinking to 39 percent a week ago, according to the Gallup tracking poll, President Obama isn't alone in having a bad summer. So isHollywood.
Entertainment Weekly calls gross receipts for what should have been a blockbuster July 4-6 weekend "downright terrifying." Writes EW, "Not only were grosses down 45 percent from last year's holiday, according to Boxofficemojo.com, but it was Hollywood's worst July 4weekend since 1999. (And that's not taking into account inflation. In fact, this was the worst July-holiday weekend for ticket sales since the summer of Dragnet in 1987.)"
Would right-wingers like a larger presence in mainstream news and entertainment media, or would they rather grumble about the MSM’s liberal bias while patronizing conservative media outlets? To American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman, it’s clear that the second is correct.
Waldman’s peg for his Wednesday post was a National Review piece by editor and publisher Adam Bellow on the need for a conservative counterculture that would produce novels, movies, music, and so on. Apropos of Bellow’s comment that it’s too bad righties have “hived ourselves off into our own politicized media bubble,” Waldman snipes that conservatives want very much to stay inside said bubble, even though it leaves them prone to “all kinds of pathological beliefs and behaviors.”
NPR sells itself as a voice of civility, an oasis away from the haters and the shouters. But many NPR stations run the show “Marketplace” from American Public Media. On Wednesday night, host Kai Ryssdalinterviewed author Zac Bissonette, author of the book Good Advice From Bad People.
Ryssdal raised eyebrows with this declaration: “Alright, we will start with a guy for whom I personally believe there is a special place in Hell reserved. His name is Donald Trump.”
This week's list of New York Times best-selling books proves as usual that the Times doesn't review conservative best-sellers. The nonfiction list was topped by "Things That Matter," a collection of columns by Charles Krauthammer and then by "Killing Jesus" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. The children's middle-grade list is led by Rush Limbaugh's "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims." There has been no Times review of these books.
All were mentioned by Gregory Cowles in his "Inside the List" briefs. O'Reilly drew this barb in the October 13 newspaper: "Bill O'Reilly's killing machine shows no signs of letting up -- ''Killing Jesus,'' his latest collaboration with Martin Dugard (after ''Killing Lincoln'' and ''Killing Kennedy''), jumps right to No. 1 in its first week on the hardcover nonfiction list." Fox host Brian Kilmeade was at number eight with "George Washington's Secret Six" and Sarah Palin was at number nine -- no reviews. But Cowles slammed Palin in this Sunday's paper:
Pot, kettle: New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani reviewed Tuesday a new biography by Zev Chafets of Fox News president Roger Ailes under the headline, "A Soft-Focus Look at Fox's Tough-Talking Tough Guy." Kakutani faulted the book for relying on familiar stories and, of course, for Fox News's conservatie viewpoint: "There is little cogent analysis in these pages about how Fox News frames its reports from a conservative point of view, or the effect that this has had on the national conversation."
...Her book, 'As Texas Goes... ,' pays particular attention to the state’s staggering inequality, casual embrace of crony capitalism and creaky educational pipeline. These are problems for Texas, of course, but Ms. Collins’s concern is that Texas itself is everyone’s problem. “Personally, I prefer to think that all Americans are in the same boat,” she says. “And Texas has a lot to do with where we’re heading.”
Greider politely corrected some of Collins's factual errors: "....the problem with this book is one that has dogged other outsiders’ accounts: stereotypes about Texas are so strong that they may trump the record."
Thin-skinned New York Times columnist Paul Krugman spoke at the left-wing Netroots Nation conference held in Providence, R.I. this weekend (a fact overlooked in his own paper's story). In his Saturday morning talk, Krugman displayed his usual class and charm by calling Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus "very much a noecon," a slur in Krugman's liberal circles, for allegedly assigning an unsympathetic critic to his new book End This Depression Now! according to the liberal news site Talking Points Memo.
Al Sharpton, the veteran Democratic activist and racial provocateur who hosts "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC, reviewed a James Brown biography for the New York Times Sunday Book Review and was interviewed in the Reviews' "Up Front" section. Sharpton credited the biography by RJ Smith for placing Brown in the context of the civil rights movement. But why would the Times consider Sharpton qualified to comment on anything, much less racial matters?
As usual, the Times didn't address at all Sharpton's racially inflammatory past or any of his controversies. As MRC president Brent Bozell recently wrote:
Not content with letting partisan liberal journalist Joe Klein review "radical Republican" Jonah Goldberg's new book The Tyranny of Clichés, the May 18 edition of the paper's Book Review podcast opened with book editor Sam Tanenahus talking with Klein about his hostile Times book review. Tanenhaus (pictured), author of a little screed called The Death of Conservatism that was discredited within months of its 2009 publication by the rise of the Tea Party, spent the first 14 minutes of the podcast slamming Goldberg's book along with Klein.
This exchange occurred about 40 minutes from the end of the podcast:
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is doing a television tour for his book "End This Depression Now!" Charlie Rose interviewed him twice, once on CBS This Morning Monday, then that night for the full hour of Rose's PBS talk show. Krugman appeared on Bloomberg TV Tuesday debating Ron Paul, and the friendlier confines of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show that night.
Krugman's economic recovery plan, no surprise, involves lots of government jobs, a smear of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget, and a cavalier attitude toward America's massive debt load: "Britain had debt that was well over 100% of for most of the 20th century. It's not a crisis level problem....you can live with 100% for decades on end." On Rachel Maddow he said Wall Street guys have "destroyed the world."
New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter on Monday defended Hollywood and the new HBO movie "Game Change," a hit job on the 2008 vice presidential campaign of Sarah Palin based on the book by liberal reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. In "Rogue, Rube or G.O.P. Star: Portraying Palin," Stelter defended Hollywood from "conspiracy theories" that the movie is meant "to undermine a future run for president by Ms. Palin" (as if Hollywood liberals wouldn't love to have it accomplish just that).
Stelter also vigorously defended the movie-makers choice to focus solely on Palin at the expense of the portions of the book devoted to the bloody Democratic primary tussle between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to realize that overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic movie-makers would prefer the "Palin is an ignoramus" parts, rather than the parts that might have made Hillary and Obama look petty.
On Wednesday afternoon, New York Times political reporter Jodi Kantor hosted a live Facebook discussion on her new book on the Obamas and especially First Lady Michelle Obama. If this Facebook session is any indication, the book matches Kantor’s previous promotional coverage of the First Couple. On Facebook Kantor describes the First Lady as someone “with important ideas of her own about opportunity, access, equality, etc,” who “has redefined the role of first lady for successors...she's really raised the bar for ambitious initiatives.”
Revealingly, when asked about her latest scoops being allegedly used by Fox News and the Drudge Report as a “racial attack against the Obamas,” Kantor emphasized to her predominantly liberal audience how she broke the news about Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s ministry (in a bland story), and wrote a follow up “which I labored and labored over to make fair.” And it was “fair,” at least from the perspective of an Obama supporter.
Kantor’s book, “The Obamas,” certainly does not sound like it will afflict the comfortable couple in the White House: “Filled with riveting detail and insight into their partnership, emotions and personalities, and written with a keen eye for the ironies of public life, THE OBAMAS is an intimate portrait that will surprise even readers who thought they knew the President and First Lady.” That promotional tone matches Kantor’s previous Times coverage of the First Couple.
Those prestigious publishers at Simon & Schuster selected All Saints Day to unleash the book world's latest attempt at mocking Christianity. It’s called "The Last Testament, by God."
The author is David Javerbaum, a top writer for 11 years for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, perhaps America's leading religion-hating TV network. Is it any surprise that the critics are loving it?
The front of Wednesday’s New York Times Arts section featured Dwight Garner’s review of the new book by left-wing documentary film-maker Michael Moore, “Here Comes Trouble -- Stories From My Life.”
Garner, a fan, called Moore (infamous for his anti-conservative conspiracy theories and vicious, purposely misleading mockery of Republicans) a “necessary irritant,” and in one nauseating paragraph suggested Moore’s book belonged alongside works by the revolutionary founding activist Thomas Paine.
One has to wonder if departing New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller will leave behind many friends in the newsroom. First he bothered his media-beat reporters by writing of his dislike for new media like Twitter. It turns out he’s not crazy about old media (books) either – at least when writing them take his reporters away on book leave or detracts from their reporting.
His upcoming column for the July 17 Sunday Magazine, “Let’s Ban Books, or at Least Stop Writing Them,” sounded like a sotto voce corporate policy memo, with some surprisingly mocking cracks about his news staff: “Two editors were writing books about their dogs. At the same time!”
The “Inside the List” column for the New York Times’s Sunday Book Review, compiled by Jennifer Schuessler, discussed Ann Coulter’s latest New York Times bestseller “Demonic” under the subhead “Woman In Black.”
The first paragraph of the Times’ official Topics page for Coulter describes the author as “ultraconservative,” and Schuessler’s Book Review brief is no less loaded:
Over Thanksgiving, I read Sarah Palin’s new book, America by Heart : Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag. My first thought after finishing it? Wow, that was good. My second thought? If someone gripes about her from now on, I’m going to respond,”Have you read her book?” When the opinionated person says, “No.” I’m going to say back, “Talk to me after you’ve read her book.”
Before getting to the guts of the tome, I would like to address one thing that irritates me: When writing about Sarah Palin, it is de rigueur for friend and foe alike to use one’s criticism (and I mean criticism in the dictionary sense; here is the definition: Criticism is the judgment of the merits and faults of the work or actions of one individual by another. To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of prejudice or disapproval) as either an endorsement or “hit job” of the person.
It's a weighty charge, plagiarism. But your credibility in making it tends to dissipate when you do so on a site founded and run by an alleged serial plagiarist.
Arianna Huffington has been accused of lifting portions of a number of her books from other authors, and in one case had to dole out a 5-figure settlement to put plagiarism charges to rest. Her site has also taken heat from celebrities whose names appear on bylines on the site, but who didn't actually write those posts' contents.
Like her reporting for the Times, "Boiling Mad" covers the movement from a mostly hostile perspective that only intermittently becomes something like empathy when she's talking to one of the invariably pleasant Tea Party citizens themselves.
Behind the (of course) red-as-a-Red State-cover lies a mere 194 pages of text, not including a 33-page reprint of an old, biased Times poll on the Tea Party. While not wholly a notebook dump, there's little new, and Zernike evinces little sympathy or feel for conservative concerns. Her expertise is instead finding racism everywhere she looks in Tea Party land.
Even such benign conservative boilerplate as opposition to the minimum wage is racially suspect in Zernike's eyes, as proven in her dispatch for the Times criticizing Glenn Beck's gathering on the National Mall on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington:
Greg Gutfeld is a rare breed. A conservative former magazine editor turned host of Fox News late night talk show "Red Eye," Gutfeld masterfully mixes keen political insight and scathing critiques of contemporary Amerian culture with a healthy dose of humor.
His new book, "The Bible of Unspeakable Truths" fits that M.O. perfectly. Gutfeld dissects thousands of "unspeakable truths" ranging from "for twenty million dollars, you'd sleep with MIchael Jackson (even now)" to "speaking truth to power means 'shouting at people who remind me of daddy'" to "squirrels are just sexier rats."
For avid "Red Eye" fans, the style of comedy will be familiar. Those who have yet to enjoy an episode will be fans by the time they put the book down. Occasionally vulgar, often provocative, and always funny, Gutfeld's absurd style has the potential to disarm even the skeptical, and then bombard them with political and cultural insights profound in their simplicity and logic.
Greg was kind enough to grant NewsBusters an interview. In it, he discusses writing for the Huffington Post, his view of "Red Eye," and his own political transformation (full audio and transcript below the fold).
When reviewing a bestselling book, it is customary to read it first. Apparently Princeton doesn't teach that tidbit in its journalism classes anymore, as Newsweek intern (and Princeton student) Isia Jasiewicz decided she would attempt a review after reading only the first 10 pages--a fact she mentions in the last paragraph.
Does Newsweek really have such disdain for Beck that it would not only assign an intern to review what is sure to be this week's #1 New York Times bestseller (it came out Tuesday), but would print a review of a book the author didn't actually read?
The review attempts to contrast Beck's new thriller with Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom," which Beck recently promoted on his show, and which has skyrocketed up the charts since. But given the many mistakes and assumptions Jasiewicz makes about the latter book, it seems she may not have made it past page 10 of that one either.
Alas, we mere mortals can but abide His infinite wisdom – God’s not Gutfeld’s. Resigned, I shouldered the onus of reading the late night jackanape’s scatological tome. Afterwards, I showered…alone…in a hair shirt…and then burned it to commence my decontamination and atonement.
Oddly, no matter how hard I scoured his book and myself, the indelible fact remained – Gutfeld’s Unspeakable Truths is, in his idiosyncratic idiom, “Supersexyawesome!”
Oh, it’s not because of his solipsistic obsession with his weight, nasty habits, backrubs, pool boys, unicorns, backrubs from pool boys riding unicorns, or his feigned interest in Ms. Megan Fox, whom he importunes to call him. [Ms. Fox: Do NOT call Gutfeld.] Rather, it’s because, at root, Gutfeld is a philosophical conservative mud wrestling with a chaotic world rife with inane Leftists, all of whom he endeavors to foist by their own petard (or by the trapeze set in his “rumpus room”).
One of the worst ways that the lack of ideological diversity in America's newsrooms shows forth is in the media's treatment of sensational accusations against the current president.
Oftentimes, explosive allegations against presidents are either untrue or drastically overstated: George W. Bush deliberately lying to get the U.S. to war so he can cash in or deliberately ignoring Hurricaine Katrina due to his hatred of black people (a la Kanye West), Bill Clinton's supposed involvment in the drug trade, truthers, birthers, so on and so forth.
Journalists do the public a service by rebutting absurd conspiracy theories and wacko charges. In recent memory, though, they have taken a much greater zeal toward stamping out allegations against Democrats, particularly President Obama, a stark contrast to the kidglove or even promotional attitude they took toward books by liberal authors alleging all sorts of anti-Bush absurdities.
World Net Daily-affiliated author Aaron Klein recently discovered this when he sent his new book, "The Manchurian President," to members of the media he hoped would review it. He got some very angry responses. Here are some of the more colorful ones:
Are young people completely in the tank for Barack Obama and the left? They voted for Obama over John McCain by a greater than 2-1 margin. Obama was young, cool, good looking, and well-spoken -- all the characteristics for a winning candidate in the eyes of the nation's youth.
But it was more than just Obama's charisma that handed him the youth vote in 2008. He was abetted by lapdogs in the press, reliably liberal pop-culture icons, and ultra-leftists in academia. Combined, they created a bloc of "Obama Zombies," writes Jason Mattera, author of a new book by that name.
Mattera was kind enough to give NewsBusters an interview. He described some of the themes of his book, including the incessantly liberal mainstream press -- "pre-pubescent little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert" is how he described the Obamaniacs in the press corps. NB's Steve Gutowski noted the book's tremendous assessment of media bias in his review yesterday.
"Obama Zombies" is the perfect primer for all conservatives worried about the movement's past troubles and hopefully brighter future with newly minted voters. Read the transcript of the interview below, or listen to the audio file here.
At age 50, Bill Ayers called himself a "radical" and a "communist." As recently as 2001, Ayers had himself photographed for a magazine story trampling an American flag. But that's not good enough for the Associated Press. In an article today, AP describes Ayers as a "former radical."
AP's de-radicalization of Ayers appeared in an article about a forthcoming biography of Barack Obama, entitled The Bridge, by New Yorker editor David Remnick. Here's the line [emphasis added]:
Here's something you won't hear from the liberal media: that whole "birther" conspiracy movement? Yeah, that was started by a couple of Democrats, and neither is named Orly Taitz.
Their names, in fact, are Linda Starr and Philip Berg, according to John Avalon, author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America" (just to clarify, he singles out "wingnuts" on both sides of the aisle). Both were die-hard supporters of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 campaign.
Starr was cited as a source of the false documents that got disgraced CBS correspondent Dan Rather fired. Berg is an aggressive Pennsylvania attorney (and former Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General) who filed a lawsuit against former President George W. Bush in 2004 alleging he was complicit in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Whatever your feelings about Sarah Palin or her politics, she literally represents the future of conservative messaging. She has shown the nation that a public figure who is absolutely reviled by the mainstream media can not only make a splash, but can dominate the public stage and attract the eyes and ears of the nation in ways almost no other figure can.
For the conservative movement, Palin represents a potential solution to the right's unending problem of a news media that consistently sides with the political opposition. She is the first public figure to utilize (and, in some cases, dominate) multiple media, including traditional (television, books) and new (Facebook, Twitter) media platforms. The sum of her efforts should be the model for conservative politicians and public figures going forward.
Palin reaches more Americans with a Facebook message (just under 1.3 million) than Keith Olbermann reaches during his 8 p.m. broadcast slot on MSNBC (roughly 1 million). Fox News now has plans to build a television studio in her home in Wasilla. Her recent book Going Rogue has spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list, and has netted her somewhere in the 8-figure range.
The sum of all this says a lot about Palin, but also about the tremendous power of the media platform she has built for herself (with the help of an intelligent and capable staff). She has gone from a political corpse to one of the most prolific and influential persons in the conservative movement in under a year.