A month ago, I noted a comment by Chicago Sun-Times writer Carol Marin who was mildly complaining that President Obama never goes before the press without having a list of pre-approved journalists upon whom he'll call during a press conference. She offhandedly quipped that in the press corps, "most of us don't even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day."
I wondered last month how long it would take for anyone else in the press corps to notice Obama's tendency to hand pick from among the free press who he will deign to allow to ask a question? I also wondered if this same "free press" would have meekly allowed president Bush get away with treating the press in such a way? Or would they have raised a hue and cry that would have deafened the world? Drudge. at least, noticed then because within a day my post had wracked up over 200,000 views. But, until February 11, no one in the press has seemed too interested in discussing this issue.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal wherein he offered a bipartisan stimulus plan to get the economy going.
As not one Republican voted for President Obama's economic package in the House Wednesday despite his campaign promises to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, given the media's focus on Limbaugh of late one would expect his now-published plan to get oodles of press attention.
Will it, and if it does will Obama-loving media members seriously consider the details or quickly dismiss it because of its origin?
As you ponder, here are some of Limbaugh's suggestions:
It's hardly a secret that Chicago public schools chief executive Arne Duncan was the architect behind a failed plan to open a "gay-friendly" high school in the Windy City. But for some reason Washington Post staffer Maria Glod decided to keep that skeleton in the closet, leaving the fact out completely from her page A3 December 17 story, "Education Pick Is Called 'Down-to-Earth' Leader."
Glod set out in her 22-paragraph article to portray Duncan as an education reformed well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans and even garnering begrudging respect and even some allies among teachers unions and school bureaucrats who were at first wary of him.
The controvery over the proposed Social Justice Solidarity High School -- which was scrapped in a November 18 school board vote -- was completely left unmentioned although as Brad Haynes of the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog reported yesterday:
Rupert Murdoch has his critics - from those who think his papers are too tabloid-ish - The Sun, The New York Post - to those who find his cable television networks too right-leaning for their tastes. And back in 2007, there was a fear that his purchase of The Wall Street Journal would result in a hybrid of his newspapers and his cable news channels.
However, a year after Murdoch's acquisition, Newsweek senior editor and financial columnist Daniel Gross said he thought Murdoch has actually improved the Journal.
"I think it's worked out quite well for him," Gross said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" Dec. 16. "He owns one of the best newspapers around. They remade the Journal. The front section is a great kind of political, global coverage."
"I think the journalists - I never thought I would say this - the journalists are quite lucky to be working for Murdoch in this type of environment. You could be working for a company that was owned by Sam Zell or one of his publicly held newspapers."
How about Sean Hannity as editor of the New York Times op-ed page? Maybe O'Reilly and Cavuto in place of Dowd and Krugman as Times columnists? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not if Michael Wolff is right. The Vanity Fair media maven, appearing on CNBC this afternoon, not only said that Rupert Murdoch wants the Gray Lady, but predicted he would get her. [H/t Gat.]
MICHAEL WOLFF: I think that everybody is looking at [the NYT] and waiting for it to kind of go over a brink, to run out of cash, which they're in the process of doing. Or to find itself in a situation where actually, and this is really the key thing, they go looking for a buyer.
A bit later, Wolff, author of a book on Murdoch, mentioned his name as a likely buyer . . .
What follows are the questions that President-elect Obama took today at his 11 a.m. news conference after formally announcing former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as his choice for Health and Human Services Secretary.:
JACKIE CALMES, Wall Street Journal: Given the, in your statement when you addressed the controversy over Gov. Blagojevich, you did not repeat what your spokesman said yesterday about having him, that he should resign. Why did you not? And could you tell us what context, if any, you know that your staff or any emissaries for you have had with prosecutors or the FBI?
PHIL ELLIOTT, Associated Press: Thank you. Have you or anyone in your transition or campaign been intereviewed as it relates to the criminal complaint? And who is the transition advisor referenced in the complaint?
Against the odds, GOP candidates in the state of Tennessee experienced a historic win. In addition to delivering the state to John McCain, Republicans won both chambers of the state legislature. And, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Sen. Lamar Alexander became the first Republican to carry all but one county in his re-election win -- even taking a quarter of Tennessee's black votes."
Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Weisman (fresh from a stint at the Washington Post) displayed the extremes of mistaking bean-counting for administrative perfection on the paper’s Washington Wire blog on Tuesday:
For the rainbow cabinet of the nation’s first African American president, Mary Beth Maxwell is the perfect labor secretary you’ve probably never heard of: a gay woman, community organizer and labor leader with an adopted African American son. And this founding executive director of American Rights at Work is about to get the full-court press.
How is someone "perfectly" qualified for the cabinet by their sexuality, or by the race of their adopted children? Why doesn’t anyone in the political press have any skepticism about the relevance of race, gender, and sexual orientation in determining every single high government appointment?
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?
Wednesday evening's dour Associated Press report by Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas on the proposed bailouts of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler acted as if their fates will determine the viability of the entire US auto industry, and waited until the 15th paragraph to name the primary reason why the companies are where they are financially. Beyond that, the AP report did not mention that United Auto Workers has flatly ruled out union contract concessions.
Here is how the AP's report began, followed by selected other paragraphs, including the one (of over 30) that mentioned labor costs (bolds after headline are mine):
It's not like Barack Obama is a socialist or anything. It's just that Thomas Friedman wants him to put a "government master" in charge of the country's biggest manufacturing sector. Friedman made his modest proposal in his New York Times column of today, and expanded on it during a Morning Joe appearance. [H/t reader Tom.]
Barack Obama’s supporters are whining about any attempt to link their candidate with former Weather Underground bomber William Ayers as “guilt by association” — even though, as National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz points out, the working relationship between Obama and Ayers can more correctly be described as “guilt by participation.”
But today’s Wall Street Journal treats us to a classic case of guilt by association: a front-page profile of the descendants of slaves owned by John McCain’s great-great grandfather before the Civil War. After documenting the poor treatment that the black families (who share the last name “McCain”) received over the past century, reporter Douglas Blackmon tags Senator McCain — whom he places at the family’s former plantation as a young man in the 1940s and 1950s — as out of touch:
Maxine Waters, a key Democrat congresswoman that has been implicated in blocking government oversight that could have prevented the current financial crisis, was caught lying Friday evening about her connection to failed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
During the panel discussion of HBO's "Real Time," Waters was challenged by the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore about the campaign contributions she's received from these government sponsored enterprises.
Despite what public records clearly show, Waters denied she had ever taken any money from these two companies (video embedded right courtesy our dear friend MsUnderestimated):
Old Media's coverage of the recently-lifted executive and congressional bans on offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas largely overlooked an important element that should have been very relevant to the discussion.
Supporters of lifting the bans surely share much of the blame for only rarely citing it. Though they have frequently noted the hundreds of billions of dollars a years annually sent overseas to pay for oil that could have been extracted here, they have mostly missed a golden opportunity to tell the American people what over a quarter-century of drilling bans has cost the government and taxpayers. They also generally failed to tell us about the windfall that awaits if the end of the offshore and other bans finally leads to appropriately aggressive use of this country's God-given resources.
But if we had inquisitive financial reporters in the business press who were interested in information relevant to the "Drill Baby Drill" debate instead of merely repackaging the press releases they received from those on both sides (the sole exception I found was this Wall Street Journal editorial), many more Americans would have long ago learned about what follows.
In a companion piece to his hot radio talk on the matter, Rush Limbaugh has an op-ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal titled "Obama is Stoking Racial Antagonism." In addition to providing a full explanation of the clips inaccurately manipulated by the Obama ad-making team, he lets Team Obama have it for their intentional distortions:
Mr. Obama's campaign is now trafficking in prejudice of its own making. And in doing so, it is playing with political dynamite. What kind of potential president would let his campaign knowingly extract two incomplete, out-of-context lines from two radio parodies and build a framework of hate around them in order to exploit racial tensions? The segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were famous for such vile fear-mongering...
The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.
The application's algorithms work off six key tenets of spin and bias, which the company derived from both the guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code Of Ethics and input from an advisory board composed of journalism luminaries.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the culture war has become a civil war—on the left. Mika Brzezinski bravely opened a new front in the conflict during today's "Morning Joe," repeatedly going after two female MSMers for suggesting Palin is taking the working-mom thing too far.
And, mirabile dictu, Mika even admitted to sensing MSM unfairness to Republicans.
"This is an argument Joe and I have about fairness and whether or not there are some sort of underlying unfairness when it comes to Republicans. And I just, you know, I feel it here," Brzezinski said referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Full text and commentary after the jump. View video here.
As Fox News prepares to interview Barack Obama tomorrow night, during prime time, TV journalist Michael Wolff details a meeting between Barack Obama, Fox News president Roger Ailes, and News Corporation president Rupert Murdoch in which the Fox execs promised to lay off the Democratic presidential candidate.
According to Wolff's telling, this was more than a mere tete-à-tete, this was a full-on diplomatic meeting (initiated at Murdoch's request), conducted only after preparation and with preconditions from the Obama campaign.
The apparent purpose? To smooth things over in the event that Obama defeats John McCain:
Besides a complete withdrawal of American troops, what would have to occur for the media to think the war in Iraq is over?
Such seems an important question as hostilities in the embattled nation continue to decline, as do American casualties.
In fact, on Tuesday, a former Reagan administration official named Bing West wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal with the compelling headline "The War in Iraq Is Over. What Next?" (emphasis added throughout):
Remember during Bush's run for the White House in 2000 when it was announced that Dick Cheney was his choice for vice president and the media meme became that Cheney added "gravitas" to the ticket? This is a small example of manufactured news. It wasn't the fact that Cheney added much to the ticket, but that the media universally adopted a single word to describe the effect that Cheney had on the race. This is an example of the herd mentality in the Old Media. Sometimes, like with the choice of "gravitas" in 2000, that herd mentality is somewhat innocuous. But, other times it becomes an impediment to truth. Paul Campos found such an impediment a few weeks ago with the ridiculous worry that Barack Obama was "too skinny" to become president.
Saying, "This is a cautionary tale about how journalism sometimes gets practiced in contemporary America," I find reason to agree with Campos' assessment. He came to the conclusion that the "contemporary media echo chamber" has come to operate by "mistaking its own weird little obsessions for the actual concerns of the audience it's supposed to be edifying."
We can debate the propriety of mentioning the name of banks that might be in financial trouble. But one thing appears clear to Chris Cuomo [file photo]: it would be wrong to mention the name of a Democrat who could be in hot water. Wouldn't want to cause a run on the Dem's political capital, after all. Cuomo's discretion was on display during today's Good Morning America. Anchoring in the absence of Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts, Cuomo was discussing the run on Indymac and the advisability of publicizing the names of other banks that might be in trouble with ABC financial consultant Mellody Hobson.
CHRIS CUOMO: People are so desperate in markets right now that negative information that allows them to short-sell or bet on banks not doing well is very popular.
MELLODY HOBSON: So I'm suspect about where the lists are coming from; the motives of some of the people putting the lists out here.
CUOMO: We saw the impact of panic not just on people but even in Congress, right? A senator gets up and says "I've heard something about a certain bank." It's in trouble the next day.
Hillary Clinton's mention of RFK's assassination was the final nail in the coffin of her candidacy. Along similar lines, can you imagine the howls of MSM outrage if John McCain were to suggest that he might "bring a gun" to his campaign against Barack Obama? Yet Obama has made just such a statement. Expect the liberal media to . . . yawn.
Said the Dem candidate at a Philly fundraiser on Friday night, anticipating Republican attacks:
If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.
Aside from President Bush, one of the left's favorite boogeymen is Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, owner of the Fox television networks and myriad newspapers around the globe. Murdoch, as the story goes, is deliberately foisting a far-right ideology upon the world, intent upon making it to support his personal political agenda.
In order for that to be true, however, paranoid lefties have to ignore a lot of evidence that Murdoch's words and deeds are hardly those of a consistently conservative person. The media exec demonstrated that once again today by heaping praise upon "rock star" Barack Obama while heavily criticizing his Republican rival John McCain as ignorant about economics, "unpredicable," and having "a lot of problems."
"I want to meet Obama. I want to know is he going to walk the walk. Have you read his education policy, what it is? It's just great. [...] I just hope that he's as good as he promises."
..... But Misses Chance to Refute "Jobs Slashed" Claims.
It's good to see that someone else is on the case of the recession-obsessed Associated Press, particularly reporter Jeannine Aversa. But even the estimable James Taranto, in his Best of the Web column yesterday, let Aversa's most obvious and repeated error go by without comment.
Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?
Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.
The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:
Twin Cities news consumers aren't well served, and it may get worse.
Avista Capital Partners, which owns the Minneapolis Star Tribune, said earlier this month that its investment in the Strib is performing so poorly that it had to be written down by 75%. Earlier, the New York Post reported the possibility that the paper might go bankrupt. That possibility will loom as long as the Strib, which many locals refer to as "Red Star Tribune," largely serves as the apparent PR outlet of the Democratic Farm Labor Party (the Gopher State's Democrats).
If a Strib bankruptcy were to occur, and it ceases publication, the St. Paul Pioneer Press is less than ready to step into the breach, at least if Tom Webb's article Thursday about recent food price inflation is any indication.
What's up at the supermarket? Prices for almost everything
Food inflation hit an 18-year high in April, with grocery prices rising 1.5 percent for the month, the government said Wednesday. Prices rose in every aisle - dairy, breads, meats, beverages, fruits and vegetables. It means $53 more a month to feed a family of four with a typical food budget.