In light of President Barack Obama's recent attack on the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto wonders: "why is the Ground Zero mosque the only case in which Obama has ever defended anyone's First Amendment rights without qualification?"
There are a number of possible answers, and at least some of them are reasonable and worthy of media attention. And indeed, a few journalists have noticed and raised objection to the White House's selective contempt for opinion media - Fox is "destructive," but MSNBC libtalkers Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann "provide an invaluable service."
But there is a deeper First Amendment double standard at work here, as Taranto notes:
James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal pointed out in his "Best of the Web Today" review on Thursday how Mark Halperin of Time seems to disagree so vehemently with himself about how the Obama presidency was supposed to unfold this year. Why would Obama delay business-tax-cut talk until the fall, for example:
It is fair to ask (and many Democrats have) why the President is only now proposing such critical measures, rather than offering them up earlier in his term, before election-season politics brought governing to a standstill.
It's fair to answer, too. While Americans were anxious about the economy, Obama was obsessed with wrecking our health care. He was urged on by cheerleaders in the media like the one who wrote an article on March 22, the day after the House passed ObamaCare, which began as follows:
A recurring rubric at James Taranto's Best of the Web Today column at the Wall Street Journal online is "We Blame George W. Bush," for tongue-in-cheek blaming of the former prez for things palpably beyond his purview. Let's add another item to the list. Dem senator Russ Feingold has blamed his tough re-election race on, yes, W.
Let's think about that. If Bush were such a bad president. If his policies were so disastrous for the country. Wouldn't that boost the chances of an incumbent Dem senator who, like Feingold, had voted against Bush policies every step of the way?
Hey, I don't try to understand Dem reasoning: I just report it. Feingold made his logic-defying allegation on this evening's Ed Show.
On the same day the Commerce Department dramatically revised down second quarter Gross Domestic Product estimates, New York Times columnist David Brooks published a stinging rebuke of Obama economic policies.
"The American stimulus package was supposed to create a 'summer of recovery,' according to Obama administration officials," wrote Brooks.
"Job growth was supposed to be surging at up to 500,000 a month," he continued. "Instead, the U.S. economy is scuffling along."
Scuffling is putting it mildly, for it was announced Friday that the GDP only grew by a pathetic 1.6 percent last quarter which was down from previous estimates of 2.4 percent.
With this in mind, Brooks' column was not only spot on, but a surprising indictment of everything the Obama administration has done since Inauguration Day:
New York Times columnist Frank Rich on Sunday blamed America's opinion of the Ground Zero mosque on the "Islamophobia command center" of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
As readers are likely aware, its properties include Fox News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal, all witting accomplices to a devious plot to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment according to Rich.
Never mind that public opinion polls around the country and in New York state show vast majorities in opposition to the building of this Islamic center at the site of the 9/11 attacks.
February 2009 was a pretty dark time for the conservative movement. The arguably most liberal president in the history of the United States has been sworn in to office just weeks early. The Congress had solid Democratic majorities in both chambers. And there were overtures that only way to save the nation from suffering the worst of a downtrodden economy was through an avalanche of costly legislation that would create huge budget deficits and ever-expanding bureaucracy.
But in the midst of that dark spell, CNBC's Rick Santelli lit the spark that ignited the conservative pushback. On CNBC's Feb. 19, 2009 "Squawk Box," Santelli called for a "tea party" in Lake Michigan to protest the idea the Obama administration was preparing to enact a massive housing bailout to reward people who took part in risky behavior by purchasing a home they couldn't afford.
With the media elite once again reminding the unsophisticated rubes in flyover country of their intellectual and cultural inferiority as it pertains to sensitivities regarding Islam, it seems a good time to review the recent movements of one of the most condescending liberal elitists of the contemporary commentariat: Thomas Frank.
The columnist recently left the Wall Street Journal for Harper's Magazine.
Frank, you may remember, penned the 2004 book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" which explored the baffling (for Frank) tendencies of rural populations between the two coasts to vote Republican. By Frank's account, their political views ran directly against the grain of their own interests.
Here's yet another example illustrating why one must treat the editorials at the Wall Street Journal as a primary source of hard news during Democratic presidential administrations.
On Monday, President Obama visited ZBB Energy Corp, a maker of high-tech batteries in Menominee, Wisconsin. Helene Cooper at the New York Times, where a larger version of the picture at the right appeared, reported that "The company received a $1.3 million federal stimulus loan, which officials said would triple its manufacturing capacity and could lead to 80 new jobs." Note the word "could."
At least the Times mentioned the existence of ZBB's stimulus loan. In three brief reports citing Obama's visit during the past week, the Associated Press didn't even do that.
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
Keith Olbermann on Thursday cherry-picked an article by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to make a pathetic case that Republicans are targeting and blaming unemployed Americans for the country's economic woes.
In his opening "Countdown" segment on MSNBC, the host began, "When it came time to invade, Republicans used cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq. Now, they`re using cherry-picked intelligence to wage war on the middle class."
Particularly in Olbermann's crosshairs was Gingrich who the "Countdown" host claimed "targeted one individual American who`s struggling to make ends meet and held him up as part of the problem."
Ironically, it was Olbermann that was guilty of cherry-picking as he quoted a very tiny portion of a Human Events article the former Speaker wrote Wednesday (video follows with commentary and full transcript at conclusion):
No matter what happens, even surrounding his personal life or his pet cause global warming, former Vice President Al Gore just isn't going away.
During an Aug. 10 conference call, Gore launched into a critique of the media's recent coverage of ClimateGate, specifically blogs, talk radio and "biased right-wing media."
"Well I believe Mark Twain often gets the credit for the saying ... that a lie runs around the world before the truth gets its boots on," Gore said. "Now I'm not sure that's the real reason for it, but there is a sad but undeniable truth that those who wanted to try sowing confusion used an echo chamber from blogs and talk show hosts and biased right-wing media to promulgate the distortions of the paid skeptics and professional deniers who tried to undermine the evidence."
Gore, who earlier during the call said he all but given up on cap-and-trade legislation being passed this Congress (audio here), alluded to a handful of "formal inquiries" that he argued cleared the science of any doubt that may have been caused by the leaked e-mails from ClimateGate, despite the questionable circumstances surrounding these inquiries.
It seems that not even the truth can possibly overturn the narrative that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have brought transparency to Washington.
Last Wednesday I wrote about how the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill Obama signed into law last month contains a provision exempting the Securities and Exchange Commission from Freedom of Information Act requests. Such an exemption would surely have been grounds for a media outcry during the Bush administration, yet apart from The Wall Street Journal and CNN, only blogs have been following the developments. The latter opted simply to parrot the administration's claims without challenge.
Other media ouetlets, such as National Public Radio and MSNBC, completely ignored the controversy, in stark contrast to their extensive coverage of the Bush administration's attempts to curtail the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. NPR's Don Gonyea said "When conflicts arise over what should or should not be open, the administration does not hesitate to invoke the memory of 9/11. And while it's true that 9/11 changed the security landscape, it's also true that the administration was tightening the control of information much earlier . . ."
In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, senior economics writer Stephen Moore talked to Nevada Republican Senate contender Sharron Angle in the "Weekend Interview." He liked her answers, like why she thinks she could upset the Senate Majority Leader, she replied: "When Harry Reid got to be majority leader, the unemployment rate was 4.4%. Now it is 14%, higher than even in Michigan....What has Harry Reid's power done for our state?"
Angle said Reid's local actions (a subject the national media cares very little about) have upset the electorate:
Regarding jobs, she points to Mr. Reid's role in killing three clean coal-fired plants in rural Ely, where she and her husband have lived since 1971. After years of opposition by Mr. Reid in league with various environmental groups, NV Energy halted development of a $5 billion plant in February 2009.
That meant the loss of 5,000 jobs, Mrs. Angle says. "That's really when we realized Harry Reid doesn't care about jobs or people losing their homes. And it's also when 'Anybody but Harry Reid' signs first began to sprout up all over the state."
Jeffrey Zaslow of The Wall Street Journal reported on political gaffes on Wednesday, and as an expert he brought on Obama-loving former Republican Michael Smerconish. Unsurprisingly, Smerconish bashed Ann Coulter and forgave Michelle Obama as he discussed his "Muzzle Meter" and the severity of scandalous words:
We've become a culture that is unforgiving when it comes to poor word choice, says syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish. "We're far too thin-skinned, starting federal investigations every time someone says something stupid." He blames political partisanship and a 24/7 media looking for "gotcha" moments. Web sites such as TMZ.com, Politico.com, Gawker.com and TheSuperficial.com traffic in verbal gaffes.
Mr. Smerconish, a lifelong Republican who this year announced he is now an independent, has developed a "Muzzle Meter," asking listeners to help him measure, on a scale of 1 to 10, whether poor word choices are innocent mistakes (a 1 or a 2) or were said with malice (a 9 or a 10).
One narrative the liberal media has strenuously failed to develop is the incredible irony of BP presenting itself as the greenest oil company, the "Beyond Petroleum" folks who recognized they were boiling the planet with oil. In Friday's Wall Street Journal, Mark Mills reviewed a new book, Oil, by Tom Bower:
But the most interesting figure in Mr. Bower's narrative is not Mr. Putin but BP's Lord Browne, who understood cultural politics better than his peers. In the 1990s, BP launched what was arguably the oil industry's most successful public-relations campaign, for all the good it is doing the company now. The campaign transformed BP into a shining example of a progressive company—one supposedly "Beyond Petroleum."
It is clear from Mr. Bower's account that, while BP remained first and foremost an oil company, Lord Browne drank his own Kool-Aid, basking in encomia from the media and green mavens. He gave lectures at Stanford, appeared on "Charlie Rose," cozied up to Greenpeace and promised to spend $1 billion on solar technology.
President Obama met with a group of prominent liberal commentators on Thursday to discuss the Gulf oil spill and the administration's response. The meeting came in the midst of a rare firestorm of criticism from the left over the president's response to the spill.
It was surely not coincidence that the journalists seen leaving the White House that afternoon--the New York Times's Gail Collins, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib--were some of the more prominent critics of the president's Oval Office address on Tuesday.
The meeting demonstrates two facts: the White House is trying furiously to spin media coverage of the federal response to the spill in the administration's favor, and the old White House double standard towards the news media persists.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, George Mason University economics professor Daniel Klein today notes that "self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics."
It therefore shouldn't be terribly surprising that so many journalists do a poor job of economic and business reporting, because, as the Media Research Center has frequently and consistently documented for over a quarter-century, a significant majority of journalists are, well, self-identified liberals and Democrats.
Sometimes what passes for business reporting in the establishment press isn't the result of conscious bias. Ignorance, as just cited, and a failure to look behind numbers, often because they fit a predetermined outlook, are also factors.
The mainstream media is of course replete with liberal opinionistas who criticize Republicans far more harshly than Democrats. That is nothing new. It is truly shocking, however, when supposedly "objective" news outlets employ even more egregious double standards than the openly-biased commentators.
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto caught the Associated Press employing one such double standard over the weekend. The AP's Ben Feller penned quite a sob story about the president's response to the Gulf spill, saying that Obama is "having to work through unforeseen problems" and made sure to note that his "ability to calmly handle many competing issues simultaneously is viewed as one of his strengths."
A contrast with the AP's rheotroic on the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina reveals quite a discrepany in the organization's views on the executive's accountability for natural disasters. That New York Times columnist Frank Rich and uber-liberal mudslinger Bill Maher have both had harsher words for the current president and his response to the Gulf spill speaks volumes.
Eight former Federal Elections Commissioners today blasted proponents of a Senate bill that would "blunt" the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which allowed unions and corporations to spend freely on political advertisements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Commissioners called the bill "unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy." They also accused Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. -- sponsors of the Senate and House legislation, respectively -- of "partisan motives" designed to satiate the Democratic Party's labor union backers.
While some prominent news organizations, including the Washington Post, have raised serious concerns about the legislation, other ostensibly (or at least presumably) pro-free speech news outlets are either silent or, in the case of the New York Times, simply parrot Democratic talking points and give critics of the bill a mention, though not a voice, and make sure to dub them "the business lobby."
You would think that in the midst of the liberal media's fight to rip Arizona's Immigration Law, that the phrase ‘illegal immigrant' would be fairly easy to use in an appropriate manner. Yet that is seemingly only the case when the phrase is used to cast common-sense immigration enforcement as discriminatory. But when it comes to a story that could shed light on why enforcement is a necessity for the safety and security of a nation and its people, then the phrase - no matter how accurate - is quickly forgotten.
One high profile case, the murder of Chandra Levy, highlights this fact. It has been quite some time (over a year) since Ingmar Guandique was charged with Levy's murder, and much longer since he was identified as being an illegal immigrant from El Salvador.
And while Guandique's illegal status isn't necessarily news to those having actually followed the case, you would think it was still an unproven fact based on media reports past and present.
As a recent update reveals, attorney's working on behalf of Guandique argued that he would not get a fair trial in Washington, though a judge has now determined that the trial will indeed stay in DC. Coinciding with this news, is the recent release of a book covering the case entitled, Finding Chandra. With these updates, one has to wonder how far the media has come in their willingness to report the truth. How far have they come since Michelle Malkin noted a perfect record of going 115 for 115 in reports failing to mention the suspect's illegal status back in 2002? As it turns out, not far at all...
The Associated Press managed to report on yesterday's primaries in North Carolina, Indiana, and Ohio while muddling the incontrovertibly disastrous results for Democrats in those states. Even while touting the races as harbingers for November, the AP failed to extrapolate the trends right before their eyes.
In short, turnout for Republican primaries in all three states was up almost across the board, while Democratic turnout "dropped precipitously," in the words of National Journal's Reid Wilson.
The AP noted the "exceptionally light [turnout] in Ohio and North Carolina," failing to mention that GOP turnout in these states was up in virtually every race, while a drop in Demcorats at the polls produced the "light" numbers it mentions.
There's a cynical theme growing in the media that Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of attempting to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square Saturday, was driven to violence by the loss of his job, the loss of his house, and his anger towards former President George W. Bush.
In all of this theorizing -- or what some might call psychobabble -- those making the assertion have yet to ponder if six years of Bush Derangement Syndrome might also be involved.
For over a year, Americans have been warned that so-called "hate speech" directed at Barack Obama and Democrats by conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, as well as others at Fox News, is going to manifest itself in violent acts against elected officials and/or our nation.
With this in mind mightn't years of "hate speech" directed at Bush and Republicans by liberal talk radio hosts and MSNBC in particular have incited Shahzad's anger to such an extent that he decided to become a domestic terrorist?
There's no question Fox News is killing its competition in the ratings. And the reason is quite simple according to Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA), the parent company of Fox News.
On Fox News Channel's May 4 "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Murdoch credited the success of Fox News to the void it fills as people are concerned about the political direction of the nation. He explained with that, his network draws viewers since other networks lean liberal, which is the dominant view of those in power in Washington, D.C.
"Well, I think as Fox News goes, it's very simple," Murdoch said. "You know, it's very powerful, it's very good and it's very balanced. And you know, everybody else, every newspaper, every - maybe an over-generalization, but by far the most newspapers and certainly the other television networks sort of are all on one side, the liberal side of things and we're - I think the population of this country is pretty worried about its direction and they turned to Fox News."
"Your World" host Neil Cavuto asked Murdoch if he welcomed those critiques on Fox News, to which Murdoch admitted he did because it was good for ratings.
A number of media outlets continue to hold water for the weekend's pro-illegal immigration protesters, as NewsBusters has reported, painting violence at many rallies as somehow unexpected or not representative of the larger movement.
While that characterization may be fair, the benefit of the doubt afforded to immigration protesters by some of the nation's leading media outlets stands in stark contrast to the coverage of Tea Party protests by those same outlets. Tea Parties rallies are guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the mainstream media.
"[W]hat started as a peaceful immigrants' rights march in downtown Santa Cruz turned violent, requiring police to call other agencies for help, authorities said," read the lede of an Associated Press report. Since no Tea Party rally has turned violent, we can't make a direct comparison. But it is safe to assume that a Tea Party protest looking like the one at top right -- and involving numerous incidents of vandalism and other crimes -- would be characterized simply as "violent" or some other ugly adjective.
People on the Left squawked in January when a poll was released finding Americans felt the Fox News Network was BY FAR the most trusted name in news.
On Sunday, the results of a new online survey were released by a liberal entity somewhat confirming the Public Policy Polling data NewsBusters shared with you earlier in the year.
According to the "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair poll, when asked the question, "Which one of the following do you consider to be the most trustworthy source of daily news in the United States," 32 percent of respondents answered CNN and 29 percent said FNC.
Update: The well-publicized announcement that Editor & Publisher was going to "cease operations" last December and that was stated as a given in the original version of this post was apparently premature, as it's still there on the web. E&P is also covering the circulation news (daily; Sunday; HT to a BizzyBlog commenter).
Advertising Age (AA) had the unenviable task (given that it's supposed to stay on its vendors' and customers' good sides) of figuring out a way to cast yet another dreadful newspaper circulation report in a non-negative light. The educated guess here is that most newspaper execs are not going to be wearing the button pictured at the top right very frequently during the foreseeable future.
Here are the figures cited by AA as overall newspaper circulation declines during the past five six-month ABC reporting periods (percentages represent declines from the same six-month period of the previous year) --
March 31, 2010: - 8.7% daily, -6.5% Sunday September 30, 2009: -10.6% daily, -7.5% Sunday March 31, 2009: - 7.1% daily, -5.4% Sunday September 30, 2008: -4.6% daily, -4.9% Sunday March 31, 2008: - 3.6% daily, -4.6% Sunday
Given the results, here is AA's headline, sub-headline, and "hey, it's not really that bad" first sentence:
In the past 20 months, liberal media members have routinely blamed 2008's financial crisis on George W. Bush, Republicans, Wall Street, and greed.
Someone that has hardly ever been accused of having a hand in what led to the tumult is former President Bill Clinton.
As NewsBusters has been reporting almost since the crash began, it was Clinton who signed into law two key bills -- the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 -- that ushered in the malfeasance that almost toppled the world economy.
On Saturday, a former editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, George Melloan, made the connection even stronger as he pointed a finger at someone most in the media have shamelessly given a pass for his involvement in this crisis (h/t @RLMcMahon):
The Wall Street Journal's headline and reporter Jeff Bennett's opening paragraph concerning Chrysler Corporation's first announcement of financial results since 2007 got right to the key points:
Chrysler Reports $4 Billion Loss Since Exiting Bankruptcy
Chrysler Group LLC lost nearly $4 billion since exiting bankruptcy last year, but the company reported a first-quarter operating profit this year and increased its cash reserves, bolstering Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne's claim that the auto maker will break even by the end of the year.
That $4 billion consists of $3.78 billion in the last 205 days of 2009 and $197 million during the first quarter of 2010. The WSJ and Bennett basically did a nice job, though I have a problem with companies trumpeting "operating profit" when there is an "actual loss."
I wonder if the Associated Press's headline and the opening paragraph from AP reporters Tom Krisher and Colleen Barry presented the situation as well as the WSJ?
Whenever you are bored or in need of a good laugh, help yourself to some mainstream media coverage of the economy under President Obama.
Each month we at NewsBusters wonder how the recession will be spun anew, and each month news outlets act with increasing hilarity.
First up for April was an earnest little piece by USA Today writer Matt Krantz published Thursday. Krantz insisted on reporting "optimism" and "confidence" in the economy thanks to a phantom supply of "new jobs."
Just one little problem, though: Thursday happened to be the same day the Department of Labor announced a surge in unemployment claims that hampered the stock market.
But no matter to Krantz. You see, Krantz wasn't talking about new jobs that actually existed - he was celebrating an announcement from two companies that they would be strong enough to hire a few people sometime in the future.