If there is an example of anyone who has overseen a bigger audience decline and loss of competitive position and survived so long, I don't know who he or she is. Fox News, which first passed CNN in total viewers in January 2002 (interesting how this basic factoid is not at Fox's Wiki entry), now routinely trounces CNN and CNN Headline combined by a factor of 1.5 to 1 or more. On Thursday, Fox's primetime audience of 574,000 was 75% greater than the CNN pair's combined total of 329,000.
But before he arrived at CNN to do his damage, Klein inadvertently did the nation a service.
In a September 15 post-primary item at the Atlantic ("An Epic End to the Primaries: What It Means"), politics editor Marc Ambinder presented seven "different ways to look at the primaries of September 14, 2010."
His final item reads as follows (bold is mine):
7. The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells, a party that wants to take away your Social Security and your right to masturbate. Well, maybe not that last part, but then again, the implicit message of the party is that the GOP is about to elect a slate of hard social rightists to Congress.
The bolded text is an obvious point to anyone with even the most rudimentary powers of observation, but it's a pretty interesting admission nonetheless. That's especially true because Ambinder is a bona fide member of the media. Indeed, he's a self-admitted Journolist member who despite (or perhaps because) of that involvement has a specific assignment involving covering this fall's elections.
The Washington Post has repeatedly featured a full-page ad in recent days for a Get Motivated! Business Seminar in Washington in October. One of the big names at the event (alongside Colin Powell, Steve Forbes, and Rudy Giuliani) is disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather, teaching "How to Communicate Effectively." Then the ad copy gets ridiculous:
Dan Rather, Legendary News Anchor and Journalist, has covered every major story of the last 50 years, with distinction and a fierce dedication to hard news. He is always ready to deliver the truth the way it is! [Emphasis mine.]
Hello, Better Business Bureau? Someone's misleading the public about Dan Rather's record of "distinction" in trying to sell fraudulent documents about President George W. Bush's military service in the fall of 2004. His "fierce dedication" wasn't to hard news. When his story was exposed as phony, he refused to admit he'd mangled the truth.
That break comes in an AP email to staff from "Standards Editor" Tom Kent. He must have or at least should have known that its contents would get out. Jim Romenesko at Poynter Online (HT Legal Insurrection) appears to have posted it first, about 16 hours after Kent hit the "send" button:
Subject: Standards Center guidance: The situation in Iraq
... we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
The Poynter Institute welcomed disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather to share his thoughts on his long career and on the media in general this week. In an interview with Poynter's Mallary Tenore, he complained "So often, particularly covering politics, enterprises that describe themselves as journalistic enterprises, and journalists who describe themselves as journalists, in fact just become transmission belts."
That's exactly what Poynter's interview was, a transmission belt for Rather's lamest hits, including how the press needs a "spine transplant" and his shameless insistence that his phony-documents Texas Air National Guard story is still true. If Poynter cared about the reputation of journalism, why continue to entertain and spread doubt about the falsehood of Rather's most atrocious "scoop"?
The only thing fresh here is Rather's growing socialism, as he insists (just like Bill Moyers) that money is corrupting politics and the government needs to break some alleged media monopoly where only four mega-corporations distribute most of America's news:
In an unusual move, the Associated Press has publicly released an advisory memo to its reporters on how to cover the Ground Zero mosque story - and the first rule is that journalists must immediately stop calling it the "Ground Zero mosque" story.
"We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘Ground zero mosque' or ‘mosque at ground zero' on all platforms," reads the advisory, which was issued by the AP's Standards Center.
Instead of the "Ground Zero mosque," AP recommends that reporters use the terms "mosque 2 blocks from WTC site," "Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site," "mosque near ground zero," or "mosque near WTC site."
The AP suggests that it might "useful in some stories to note that Muslim prayer services have been held since 2009 in the building that the new project will replace." In addition, the news service offers a "succinct summary of President Obama's position" on the mosque, but doesn't include the positions of any other politicians.
Roger Simon's Wednesday morning column ("Journolist veers out of bounds"), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.
Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon's column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal "has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that 'the right' would use it as 'a sledgehammer' against everyday journalists, 'those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism.'"
I'll suggest that Simon's rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd's reaction, in that it's laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):
... when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)
The Daily Caller released a new JournoList scoop today, and this one's a doozy. It confirms that reporters on the liberal media listserv did in fact collaborate with political operatives and campaign officials to spin media coverage in favor of Barack Obama.
The latest piece further debunks JournoList founder Ezra Klein's claims - also taken on by this humble blogger - that the email list did not include campaign or government officials, and was not used to manufacture talking points.
In fact, two members of the Obama campaign, Jared Bernstein and Jason Furman, were JournoList members during the race. Jeff Hauser reportedly signed a number of JournoList emails "Campaign Manager, Shulman for Congress," while he worked on New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate Dennis Shulman's campaign.
And talking points were a much-discussed issue. "JournoList’s greatest challenge is to make sure an actual win by Obama translates into winning the battle for political impact," Houser stated on one occasion. It doesn't get more explicit than that.
UPDATE: Louis's retort considered - and debunked - below. UPDATE II: Louis makes a pretty outrageous claim on his twitter account. Details below.
Here's a helpful tip if you ever run for federal office: make sure to curry favor with journalists so that if you're ever charged with multiple ethics violations, those journalists won't ask you difficult questions. It works - just ask Charlie Rangel!
The New York congressman, chairman of the House panel in charge of the tax code, will likely be charged in a number of violations of the ethics code. Among the alleged violations is a charge that he extended a $500 million tax loophole to an oil executive in exchange for donations to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
No matter, says New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, who admitted to refraining from asking Rangel any tough questions in an interview. His reason: Rangel has "been a friend to my show and he's given us a lot of good inside information."
Managing Editor's Note: What follows is an open letter from NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell to Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli about the controversial [now defunct] e-mail listserv JournoList, founded and operated by the Post's Ezra Klein.
The JournoList scandal is getting worse every day and The Washington Post is at the center of it. Blogger Ezra Klein ran the operation and at least three other staffers were members. (Blogger Greg Sargent claims he wasn't a member after he joined the Post.) In addition, at least one member of Slate and two from Newsweek, also owned by Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, were members.
The almost constant revelations of political activism and journalistic conspiracy raise an enormous number of questions about Post policies, professionalism and ethics. As a conservative, and therefore a member of the movement JournoListers sought to demonize, I feel Post readers are owed full disclosure.
Any understanding of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes clear this list and the Post's involvement violate a number of ethical guidelines. In fact, much of the code seems to have been ignored. Here are just a few examples from the code.
Tucker Carlson's website The Daily Caller has unearthed a treasure trove of liberal journalists talking (nastily) to themselves in a private e-mail list about how they should use their media power to remake the world in their image.
The funniest thing about this expose of “JournoList” was witnessing journalists say it was unfair to leak these e-mails when reporters had an “expectation of privacy.” More than 90,000 pages of secret documents on Afghanistan have been leaked and journalists are tripping over each other in a mad stampede to cover the story. Everyone should laugh heartily at leak-devouring journalists getting a fistful of their own bitter pills.
The saddest thing about all this is the confirmation (as if it were necessary) that liberal journalists really aren't journalists first. They're political strategists. They pretend to be the Hollywood version of Woodward and Bernstein, the brave sleuths digging out government malfeasance and corruption. But in reality they're the Woodward and Bernstein who plotted how to get Richard Nixon impeached and ready the way for pacifist and socialist “Watergate babies” like Chris Dodd and Henry Waxman to take seats of power. Ethics are only relevant if they’re a weapon.
Barely a month after Dave Weigel resigned from the Washington Post, he has been hired by…the Washington Post.
Well, to be more specific, by Post subsidiary Slate Magazine. Michael Calderone tweeted the news this evening, and Weigel confirmed shortly thereafter.
Weigel's resignation came after it was revealed he had made derogatory and highly offensive comments towards prominent conservatives on the liberal media listserv JournoList. Those included suggesting that Matt Drudge should set himself on fire, wishing death on Rush Limbaugh (incidentally, he wasn't the only JournoLister to do so), and dubbing Newt Gingrich an "amoral blowhard."
It wasn't the first time Weigel got in trouble for offensive comments. It wasn't the first time he took heat over comments made about Matt Drudge. He also called gay marriage opponents bigots, sparking outrage from some on the right.
Since Weigel had been hired to cover the political right, most conservatives believed he would be a counterweight to Ezra Klein, who covers the liberal beat on his own WaPo blog. Weigel's comments confirmed (though anyone who had read his work already suspected) that he would not bring that hoped-for balance.
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.
The smarty pants set, breezily dismiss the contents of JournoList, the group made up of hundreds of mainstream journalists, bloggers, activists and Democrat policy wonks. The reasoning goes this way: how is it shocking that a bunch of like-minded people want to get together and chat? I mean, that’s just human. They’re young and liberal and brash, who cares?
Regardless, the record shows Scherer had very harsh words for Fox — a point that would be less relevant had Scherer not recently won a seat on the board of directors of the White House Correspondents Association.
Why does this matter? As you may recall, there is a battle taking place to determine which media outlet will get Helen Thomas’ front-row seat for White House briefings. Many believe that Fox News should get the seat.
The more details emerge about the liberal media listserv JournoList, the more it resembles the cabal of leftist message-coordination many conservatives feared. Though perhaps not the "vast left-wing media conspiracy" Fred Barnes proclaims, evidence points to concerted efforts to coordinate talking points, and now, to direct links between the Obama White House and JournoList members.
Ironically, those are two elements of the listserv of which creator Ezra Klein explicity claimed JournoList was completely devoid. "Is it an ornate temple where liberals get together to work out "talking points?" Of course not," Klein stated last year. He added, "There are no government or campaign employees on the list."
Both of those assertions are provably false (whether or not they were at the time). The former has been contradicted by a number of instances of JournoList members doing just that: coordinating talking points. The second claim is upended by recent revelations that Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economic adviser, and unpaid "surrogate" adviser to the Obama campaign, was a member of JournoList while advising then-candidate Obama on economic issues.
Time magazine's Michael Scherer, who has been revealed by the Daily Caller as expressing a deep dislike of Fox News, has the power to really annoy them.
"Ailes understands," Scherer said in an email on the much-maligned JournoList, "that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can't hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong . . ." Though Scherer clearly has a bone to pick with the channel, he and Time have vehemently denied claims that he would silence Fox News.
Ironically, according to Politics Daily's Matt Lewis, Scherer "may actually be in a position to hurt Fox" by denying the cable network the front-row seat in the White House briefing room left vacant by Helen Thomas. Scherer sits on the Board of Directors of the White House Correspondents' Association, which controls access to White House press conferences.
Tucker Carlson posted a piece on his website, the Daily Caller, Thursday evening in what he claims is an attempt to refute two key criticisms of the website's recent exposes involving the lefty reporter listserv JournoList.
The first, that the reporters are opinion commentators and not "straight news" journalists Carlson says is irrelevant. "What we object to is partisanship," Carlson stated, "which is by its nature dishonest, a species of intellectual corruption… Those who engage in it are not journalists. They should stop pretending to be."
The second line of attack taken on in the post is the notion, "familiar to anyone who has ever published a piece whose subject didn’t like the finished product," that excerpts of JournoList emails published at the Daily Caller were taken out of context. Carlson challenged the accusers to publish the full emails and refute his charges.
How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?
Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.
Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:
Managing Editor's Note: NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell today reprimanded members of the press in light of the recently exposed e-mails from the now-defunct JournoList that show a blatant, deliberate campaign to smear conservatives. That statement is published below. Click here for more background on JournoList.
The revelation of these e-mails simply proves that we have been right all along. The liberal media have no interest in being fair or unbiased. In fact, they are deliberately violating any sense of journalistic ethics.
There is no excuse – none- for the attitudes and lack of professionalism these so-called journalists displayed not only in these e-mails but in their reporting. Any member of the media that was privy to these Journolist emails, and remained silent, is just as much to blame as the folks that crafted these e-mails. Their silence indicts them.
We said in 2008 that the media were making excuses for Jeremiah Wright and now we have the proof. Just today we learned from the Daily Caller that these people went so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh ‘deserves’ their hate. Sadly, I am not surprised, as this is what we have been exposing year after year about the media. And it’s exactly why Americans refuse to trust them.
A journalist with a political agenda is not necessarily a dishonest one, and a journalist who claims to be objective is not necessarily honest. These are useful facts to bear in mind as media liberals call for Andrew Breitbart's head.
Breitbart posted video of recently-fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod claiming she considered race in allocating federal agriculture funds. The apparent racism was debunked when the entire video surfaced, showing that Sherrod had actually discouraged such actions. "This is what happens" wrote Eric Deggans for the St. Petersburg "when ideologically-focused noise machines are treated like real news outlets."
Conspicuously absent in Deggans's screed is any mention of the recently-discovered attempt by liberal commentators to maliciously - and falsely, by their own admission - brand their ideological opponents as racists. Also absent: any mention of the litany of instances of dishonest and counter-factual reporting from the purportedly "objective" media.
In this morning's Denver Post, Mike Littwin manages to display simultaneously the insularity and smugness of the One Party media, as well as one of the last tools left in the left's rather empty playbook.
Apparently, during a Senate debate at Channel 12, Jane Norton said, "We need a NASA budget that doesn't cater to making Muslims feel good but that is strong on science ..." This scandalized Littwin, who assumed it was a cheap shot at Muslims. Evidently, he hadn't seen the video of NASA head Charles Bolden that's been making the rounds on the conservative and libertarian blogosphere:
Remarkably, instead of conceding that we're paying all those scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats to actually achieve, or at least facilitate achievement, in space, Littwin uses his and the rest of the MSM reporters' ignorance of the interview as evidence that the argument was out of place, and then goes straight for the race card:
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has responded to reports that an NPR producer wrote gleefully about his death in an e-mail message to the now infamous JournoList.
As NewsBusters reported Wednesday, the Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong published some more of the liberal group's e-mail messages which included Sarah Spitz claiming that she would "Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
With this in mind, both the Washington Examiner's Byron York and myself asked Limbaugh for a response to this nonsense.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
So much for the idea that NPR is an oasis of civil discourse in a desert of vituperation. Spitz is a producer for trendy-hot NPR station KCRW and its nationally distributed talk show Left Right & Center (which could be called Three Leftists and Tony Blankley). But Spitz has also done stories for NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered.
The Daily Caller has another scoop on the leftist JournoList e-mails today, recalling when liberal scribes all wanted the Jeremiah Wright story to be dead and buried in the spring of 2008. Jonathan Strong explained "Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage."
Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”...The tough questioning from ABC left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
The Obama/Holder Department of Justice closed down an investigation into voter intimidation on Election Day 2008 by the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. Yet the broadcast news media have been virtually silent on the matter, making it the first item in last night's "Media Mash" segment on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
Noted NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell:
Here you had a whistleblower from the Department of Justice saying how Eric Holder, the Attorney General, and his office stepped in and stopped the prosecution of these Black Panther people. He claimed it was the easiest prosecution in his career. He said everything was on video, everything was on tape.... It was a slam dunk.... Look, the media are refusing to cover just how radical this attorney general is...
"You have people in paramilitary uniforms, you know, spewing racial epithets at voters as they go into the polling place... obviously a case of voter intimidation. Still no coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, several major newspapers in this country," host Sean Hannity observed.
Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):
Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied.
Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:
NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement.
Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:
Editor's Note: What follows is a statement NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell released earlier this evening upon learning that CNN had fired its senior editor of Mideast affairs Octavia Nasr, who had expressed via her Twitter account sadness at the death of a Hezbollah terrorist leader whom she "respect[ed] a lot."
CNN has finally taken a step in the right direction in removing a terrorist sympathizer from their ranks. It’s a shame it took this amount of publicity and attention from organizations like the MRC to get the job done, as Octavia Nasr should never have been granted the position of authority to begin with. Unfortunately, CNN will have to deal with the consequences of how this affects their integrity and a growing public distrust of how they cover Islamic terrorism, but they took the right step in firing her.
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blogger.
Millions of bloggers, actually. And they are taking back freedom of the press from journalists unwilling and unable to use it in a fair and responsible manner.
A few weeks ago, we saw Helen Thomas confess her nutty anti-Semitism because a blogger caught her in an unusually candid moment. We found out what many have long suspected: that she's a disgusting bigot.
Then there was the Gen. McChrystal controversy as our top general in Afghanistan reportedly criticized the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter. Blogger critics argued "The Runaway General" showed the journalistic beat system prevents warts-and-all portrayals such as this one. Reporters are often too cozy with sources to make them look bad. Adding to that ethical issue, The Washington Post followed with a story saying the reporter in this case might have violated rules about what would be off the record. Rolling Stone denied it of course.
But nothing got more press than the seemingly simple resignation of self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel. Weigel was hired by the Post three months ago and continued his previous anti-conservative efforts with an attack on those "anti-gay marriage bigots" and making a joke about Matt Drudge "diddling" an 8-year-old boy. He was forced to apologize but remarkably kept his job.
Andrew Breitbart has found a simple remedy to at least some of the problems that ail contemporary journalism: cold, hard cash. Yesterday he offered $100,000 to anyone who will supply him with the full archive of JournoList, the email listserve that brought down Dave Weigel.
"$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save, " Breitbart wrote yesterday. Americans "deserve to know who was colluding against them," he added, "so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised."
And there's the rub: Breitbart is attempting to out liberal journalists as just that: liberal. His tactics and his objectives have been dubbed by some on the left as "digital McCarthyism," in the words of Michael Roston, "in which any of us could become the next Dave Weigel based not on the public output of our journalism, but based on our private sentiments."
UPDATE | Lachlan Markay - 6/25, 3:00 PM: A roundup of reactions from all over the blogosphere and twitterverse below the fold.
Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel resigned today after a host of offensive e-mails surfaced revealing his disdain for much of the right - the beat he was charged with covering. Fishbowl DC, which published a number of those emails yesterday, confirmed the resignation with the Post just after noon.
Yesterday I reported on leaked emails from Weigel to a listserve of liberal journalists bashing conservatives and conservatism - you know, the people Weigel is supposed to be covering. As bad as those email were, a plethora of messages from Weigel published in the Daily Caller take the conservative-bashing to a whole new level.
The new emails also demonstrated that yesterday's quasi-apology from Weigel was really not as sincere as he claimed. He said that he made some of his most offensive remarks at the end of a bad day. But these new emails show that there was really nothing unique about them, and that offensive remarks about conservatives really were nothing new or uncommon.