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.
In late July, NB Contributing Editor Tom Blumer busted the Associated Press for neglecting to mention the party affiliations of scandal-plagued officials in Bell, California. The AP piece was one of hundreds of reports on the scandal. Of those hundreds, one solitary report mentioned party labels for the five officials.
Can you guess which party they belong to? I'll bet you can.
The only news outlet that mentioned the officials were Democrats was the Orange County Register. And even that paper noted the absence of party labels only in response to reader complaints. "Our readers noticed one part of the story has been left out by virtually all media sources," the paper's editorial board wrote. "All five council members are members of the Democratic Party."
The most prominent of the officials in question, former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo, resigned after it came to light that he was making $1.5 million per year - in a town with a per capita income languishing at about half the national average.
What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.
Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.
That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.
Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."
Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):
On this weekend's Fox News Watch, panelist Jim Pinkerton proposed a simple way to clear up much of the murk surrounding JournoList. Let the Washington Post respond to the 20 questions about the matter that MRC head Brent Bozell has posed to the Post's executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, in an open letter.
JournoList was created by lefty blogger Ezra Klein in 2007, who continued to run it after becoming a Post staffer in 2009.
Responding to Pinkerton's proposal, Newsday columnist Ellis Henican, a liberal member of the News Watch panel, swung and missed at Bozell . . .
In nine short paragraphs, Los Angeles Times staffer Nicholas Riccardi offered readers a slanted look at how "Immigration demonstrations kick[ed] off in Arizona" yesterday, when the state's new anti-illegal immigration law went into effect [except for the portions ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge].
Reporting from Phoenix, Riccardi jumped straight away into loaded language (emphasis mine):
Opponents of Arizona's hard-line stance on illegal immigration launched a small religious procession from the state Capitol before dawn Thursday, the first of a series of demonstrations for the day the nation's strictest immigration law was due to take effect.
So who organized the religious procession? Is it purely a protest by otherwise apolitical religious folks, or were secular political interest groups involved? Riccardi didn't elaborate.
Many readers may already be familiar with recent exposure of the treasury plunderers disguised as public officials serving up hefty salaries to themselves while allegedly serving their constituents in the LA suburb of Bell, California.
Here's some of the latest from the Associated Press, carried at the Los Angeles Times, which broke the original story, for those who need a quick catch-up. Almost as night follows day, the news doesn't answer a question many readers here and elsewhere will naturally have:
Several hundred angry residents from a modest blue-collar Los Angeles suburb marched Sunday to call for the resignation of the mayor and some City Council members in a protest sparked by the sky-high salaries of three recently departed administrators.
The residents of the city of Bell marched to Oscar's Korner Market and Carniceria, owned by Mayor Oscar Hernandez, then to his home, demanding that he reduce his own six-figure compensation or quit.
They then did the same with some members of the City Council, with many marchers wearing T-shirts that read "My city is more corrupt than your city."
NewsBusters posts Friday afternoon provided readers with a list of 65 known participants in the now-infamous Journolist (via Melissa Clouthier) and the special case of Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's Economic Adviser (via Lachian Markey).
(Aside: Does the fact that Biden has his own econ adviser explain why what the Vice President says in public about the economy is so often of sync with the rest of the President's peeps?)
Here's another very special name that could (emphasis: could) be added to the (Journo)List: the soon-departing White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.
Jonathan Capehart is the early frontrunner to win my Obama Parrot of the Week, the dubious award I hand out on my local TV show to the media member most wantonly toeing the White House line.
On today's Morning Joe, the Washington Post editorialist, trying to suggest the White House was not involved in the firing of Shirley Sherrod, offered a strained theory of how Sherrod misunderstood what she was being told by a USDA official about the White House wanting her gone.
But when Willie Geist asked the obvious question, Capehart's house of cards largely crumbled, forcing Jonathan to beat a hasty tactical retreat. It's actually quite amusing: do check out the video.
Earlier this morning, NB's Tim Graham put up an excellent post on the Daily Caller's revelations that members of the Journolist listserv group "Plotted to Bury the Jeremiah Wright Story in 2008."
Though perhaps more blatant, the Journolist effort is not the first example of acknowledged coordination on the part of key members of the establishment press. In fact, an arguably more influential example of media coordination was exposed during the summer of 2005. At the time, it was known to have gone back well over a decade. It could still be active.
The arrangement's exposure seems to have been inadvertent. It was noted in what came across as a bit of a puff piece in Editor & Publisher. The item has long since been archived, but I excerpted key paragraphs from it at my own blog in July 2005:
The truth comes out. Okay, it was always out there. It's just that the Barack Obama and the folks in his administration were denying it.
The issue in question is whether the individual mandate and penalties for not purchasing health insurance in the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare should rightly be considered taxes, or if they are something else.
In a report dated Friday that appeared in the paper's print edition at Page A14 on Sunday, Robert Pear at the New York Times noted that in legal proceedings, in response to litigation brought by state attorneys general, the administration is now characterizing the mandate and penalties as taxes. Note the subtle water-down that occurred between the web page's title bar and the published article's headline:
Once again, it's clear that reading editorials and op-eds at publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily becomes a requirement to be truly informed when a Democratic administration in power.
On July 6, Peter Ferrara at IBD noted that the annual report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare system is long overdue, and wondered why:
Are Overdue Reports Concealing ObamaCare Impact On Medicare?
Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it's July, and there's no sign of this year's report. What is the Obama administration hiding?
Preconceived notions are dangerous things in journalism. They cause one to assume facts that aren't in evidence, leading to false or incomplete results.
A classic example has played out in the nearly three months since Arizona passed its "1070 law." Among other things, it mandates that law enforcement officials verify citizenship status in situations involving police contact if they have a reasonable suspicion that someone is not in the country legally.
It seems that virtually everyone covering the story has been assuming that Arizona's law is the first of its kind. Well, maybe as a "law" it is. But in Rhode Island, of all places, Boston Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti finally noticed on July 6 (HT Hot Air) that police have been doing what Arizona will start doing on July 29 since 2008 as a result of a gubernatorial executive order:
R.I. troopers embrace firm immigration role In contrast to Mass., they report all who are present illegally
Those looking for evidence that there is a move afoot in the establishment press to lower the bar for whatever economic accomplishments might be accomplished during the Obama administration will be interested in how the Associated Press's report on the government's June jobs report defined "normal" unemployment.
Perhaps it's valid for reporters Jeannine Aversa and Christopher Rugaber to refer to 6% unemployment as "normal," if by that they mean "typical non-recessionary" or "long-term average" unemployment. But I couldn't help but remember that during the Bush 43 and Reagan years, unemployment rates just above and occasionally even below that level were described by wire service reporters and other journalists as "persistent unemployment" -- i.e., decidedly not "normal." I quickly found several AP and other reports from those eras that confirmed my recall of what is now a demonstrated double standard.
Here is the opening sentence from the AP report, followed by the term-redefining paragraph (bold is mine):
Over the weekend, Dave Weigel resigned as WaPo's house chronicler of conservatives after revelations of his antipathy toward the people he was covering. Tonight brings us the spectacle of Ross Douthat, an ostensibly conservative columnist at the New York Times. Appearing on MSNBC's Ed Schultz show, Douthat proffered precisely zero criticism of anyone or anything liberal. But he did manage to mock Mike Huckabee as "passive-aggressive." For good measure, Douthat suggested that "right-wing" people who question Barack Obama's place of birth are too dense to realize that Hawaii is a state of the union.
The Nation's Chris Hayes, subbing for Schultz tonight, didn't have to strain to elicit criticism of conservatives from Douthat. After playing a clip of Huckabee stating the apparent fact that he polls better than other Republicans against Obama, Douthat opined.
To refresh, as posted at NewsBusters and Eyeblast.tv, Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski said the following on Wednesday while he was defending what Investors Business Daily has called "Financial Deform":
We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately. But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people.
This isn't too tough to decipher, no matter how many House Democrats try to give him defensive cover -- If the people Kanjorski "deal(s) with in my office everyday" are "average, good American people" because "they're not minorities and they're not defective," then those who are minorities and "defective" in some way are not "average, good American people." Kanjorski uttered an objectively racist (embodying "the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others") statement.
According to this report, Kanjorski is not apologizing. Therefore, one must conclude that the congressman is comfortable with his objectively racist statement.
A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.
The White House says President Barack Obama's administration will appeal.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
This later paragraph from AP's breaking news report explains why I believe Ken Salazar's dissenting experts from the National Academy of Engineering may have influenced the judge's outlook on the case:
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
Feldman's take seems to mirror the language of the dissenting experts.
At first blush, it seems as if this item might be one to file under "It Takes One to Know One." That would be wrong; the circumstances are too different.
Carly Fiorina took what she thought was a private swipe (which might not even have been a swipe at all, as noted at the end of this post) at Barbara "Don't Call Me Ma'am" Boxer's hairdo as being "so yesterday." The comment was captured by a live microphone.
The Washington Post's Robin Givhan writes widely-read columns on fashion, and has all the time in the world to consider the temperance, or lack thereof, of her critiques before they are published.
Given Givhan's situation and history, the WaPo fashion editor's characterization of Fiorina as a "style bully" (HT to Ann Althouse) is especially galling. If anyone has a track record of style bullying, it's Givhan, whose targets unsurprisingly are often conservatives and Republicans.
Sticking to the hair-raising subject at hand, the Media Research Center documented Givhan's given tendencies in an April 15, 2005 item:
“8: The Mormon Proposition,” is a documentary detailing the large role the Mormon Church played in passing California’s Proposition 8 in 2008.That ballot initiative added an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. While the media has naturally been praising the documentary, the movie is so biased that even some reviewers couldn’t avoid pointing out how one-sided it is.
Directed by Reed Cowan, the film first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. “8: The Mormon Proposition” is narrated by Lance Dustin, who was the screenwriter for “Milk,” the movie about California’s first openly gay elected official.
The trailer features protestors, people upset about the passage of Proposition 8, and paints the Mormon Church negatively for influencing the outcome of Proposition 8.
Gave reporter Jeff Zeleny about 330 words on Page A21 to recycle a Caucus Blog post softly covering the video-recorded arguable assault North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge committed against a questioner on a public street "last week," and which came to public light early Monday morning. The vague print edition headline (per the index): "Congressman Apologizes After Tussle."
Devoted almost 1,000 words on Page A15 to a story about a three year-old alleged shoving incident involving California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that "no one else appears to have witnessed." Yet the headline gives the impression that the facts are not in dispute: "Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident."
On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
An overwhelming majority of Americans prefer freedom of the press to outdated models of journalism, according to a new Rasmussen poll. The survey comes in the midst of discussions in the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to intervene on behalf of Old Media.
Eighty-five percent of respondents in the Rasmussen poll said they believe maintaining press freedom is more important than financially supporting the newspaper industry. Only six percent said the latter is more important. Just 14 percent said they would favor a bailout of the newspaper industry.
Respondents worried that government involvement in the industry would compromise press neutrality. Indeed, this sentiment reflects the findings of a number of studies over the past few years. As with any bailout, a bailout of a newspaper would inevitably mean at least some say in that newspaper's content.
Borrowing a line from one of her Harvard colleagues, the Washington Post entitled its June 10 front-page profile of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, "Her work is her life is her work."*
But the 60-paragraph story by staff writers Ann Gerhart and Philip Rucker shed barely any light on the judicial philosophy that Kagan's life work demonstrates. Instead, Gerhart and Rucker presented a gauzy profile that rehashed the usual trivia -- Kagan loves poker and the opera -- while painting Kagan as a workaholic who still has time to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on to friends in distress:
She has arrived at the age of 50 in a blaze of accomplishment. But her achievements can obscure how relatively narrow her world has been.
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.
It isn't particularly surprising that the establishment press is for the most part attempting to give Helen Thomas's hateful remarks and her dubious apology a very light once-over -- if they're covering her outrageous statements (that citizens of the Jewish state of Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland, and elsewhere) at all.
That said, the Associated Press has engaged in a few eyebrow-raisers already. The following is the only search result I found at the Associated Press's main web site at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time:
That's a classic "Don't read this, it's boring" headline. It also confirms that the AP hasn't considered the Thomas situation newsworthy until very recently. Yes, as seen in the related video, the question from RabbiLive was about "Israel." But at the barest minimum, Thomas's remarks were "anti-Israel," and at bottom they were anti-Semitic. Any doubt about that characterization goes away when one observes Thomas's sickening sense of self-satisfaction after delivering her opening "get out" answer.
But it got more interesting when I clicked on the AP search result's link.
Yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute's Enterprise Blog, Steven Hayward had a great post about the history of electric cars, and the press's unrequited love affair with electric vehicles (picture at right is of the $108,000 2010 Zedomax). Yum.
But first I'll start with a bit of my own research. On May 7, 1994, Paul Feldman at the Los Angeles Times led with the following two paragraphs about a company that would begin producing electric vehicles:
Electric Cars Touted as Plant Opens
Environmentalists and businessmen used the dedication Friday of a Carson-area electric vehicle assembly plant to tout the fledgling industry the week before the California Air Resources Board votes on moving forward with its mandate for mass-produced electric cars beginning in 1998.
The opening of the U.S. Electricar plant, which can convert up to 60 cars a month, demonstrates that adequate technology is available for major manufacturers to build the mandated 20,000 to 25,000 emission-free cars yearly.
A visit to this web page at the "U.S. Electricar Store" informs us of U.S. Electricar's status (bolds are mine):
Yeah. And Tiger Woods wasn't committed to chasing women . . .
Chris Matthews got off one of the all-time whoppers on this evening's Hardball. Seeking to explain why the Clintons have managed to stay together while the Gores haven't, Matthews claimed that Bill and Hillary are "committed to the core not to making money but to public life itself." H/t NB reader Ray R.
Is Chris simply clueless, or was he intentionally propagating a misperception of the lucre-hound Clintons, who as of more than two years ago had already raked in more than . . $100 million? Can't believe the number? Don't believe me. Believe . . . NPR.