Is President Obama incapable of dealing with journalists who question his policies? The White House press corps is becoming increasingly agitated with an administration that reacts particularly strongly to criticism, and even skepticism.
The White House has adopted a pugilistic attitude towards the press, lashing out at journalists who criticize the president, shutting others out, and adopting a deferential attitude towards the press corps that has some journalists reminiscing about the openness of -- gasp -- the George W. Bush presidency.
The Obama administration "came in with every reporter giving them the benefit of the doubt," one journalist told Politico's Josh Gersten and Patrick Gavin. "They’ve lost all that goodwill." It seems that the press corps's offense is questioning the administration's positions.
Palin Derangement Syndrome was once again on full display at MSNBC Tuesday as Chris Matthews said the former Alaska governor is "campaigning almost for the role of a professional ignorant."
Discussing New York Magazine's cover story published the previous day, the "Hardball" host said to guest Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I really think, not that she`s unintelligent, but she`s campaigning almost for the role of a professional ignorant, like, 'I don`t know anything, therefore I should be listened to.'"
He continued, "She seems to aspire to knowing even less."
Not surprisingly, Tucker didn't disagree (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t Weasel Zippers):
“Part of the reason (for the media’s coverage) is the timeless truth in media that nothing succeeds like excess,” explained Martin and Smith. “But part of the reason is a convergence of incentives for journalists and activists on left and right alike to exaggerate both the influence and exotic traits of the tea-party movement.”
While mainstream media reporters are generally pretty supportive of the Obama administration, they bristle, and rightly so, at incidents where the administration is less than transparent or actively seeks to impede journalists from working.
Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.
A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move "outrageous" and "ridiculous."
For nearly a year, the allegations of scandalous activity in former Rep. Eric Massa’s office were kept quiet — by the congressman, by male aides who accuse him of sexually harassing them and by other congressional staff.
But with two aides coming forward last week to announce that they had filed harassment claims against the New York Democrat, charges and countercharges are exploding into full public view, ensuring that the Massa saga will not simply go away.
Instead, it will raise old questions about whether Congress is able to effectively police its own members and staff, and the degree to which staff members are responsible for — or even capable of — reining in lawmakers who are accused of abusing their power.
Of course, while I've no doubt that more sordid details of the scandal will drip out into the public consciousness between now and Election Day, I'm not anticipating that the mainstream media, at least the broadcast networks, are that interested in making hay of this matter, which doubtless may reflect poorly on the Democratic Party's management of the House of Representatives.
It's an archaic way of thinking - unless it's imposed upon conservatives, then it's OK. It's this notion that commentators that are right-of-center should know their place - that place being only in the realms of talk radio or on the Fox News Channel. Otherwise, it is unacceptable.
At issue is Erickson's claim he would pull a shotgun on an American Community Survey (ACS) worker, an organization that is part of the U.S. Census Bureau, if he attempted to approach his home. However, Erickson's statement has been framed by his critics that he is attempting to prevent the Census Bureau from fulfilling a constitutional requirement, and that has been deemed "threatening" by Andy Barr of Politico in an April 2 post.
“Based on some mild and indiscernible shouts by people in a hallway outside the office of a House member,” NewsBusters noted Tuesday night, “CBS's Chip Reid tried to discredit anti-ObamaCare protesters,” claiming the Tea Party activists “tried to lobby undecided Democrats. At times, it got ugly.” (Watch the video to assess the commotion Reid characterized as “ugly.”)
But in today's Politico newspaper, Marin Cogan relayed how “staff members for Democrats reported orderly, even polite conversations with protesters.” In her article, “Dems play nice with tea partiers,” Marin not only did not cite any ugliness, she discovered the protesters were so calm that they were actually bored by them: “'It was like a high school classroom,' an aide to one lawmaker who hosted tea partiers noted glumly. 'It was so boring.'”
If the goal of whoever leaked the contents of a presentation originally made internally at Toyota's Washington, DC offices and turned over to congressional investigators was to drum up an intense level of negative press coverage against the company, they can sit back and say, "Mission accomplished."
It seems to have started Sunday with David Shepardson of the Detroit News, who reported that the company had "bragged" about avoiding recall costs. Though he appears to have erroneously believed that he had the whole thing, Shepardson's "evidence" consisted of only ten of that presentation's sixteen (or possibly more) pages with a couple of references to "wins." His report was picked and spread widely by the Associated Press's Ken Thomas, who turned "bragged" into "boasted."
I guess we could call it the congressional leakers' version of "spreading the wealth."
As noted in a post late Sunday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Detroit News received a "10-page document" from what had been a Toyota internal presentation that more than likely came from someone who is either a member of or working in Congress, or is involved with the Department of Transportation. Reporter David Shepardson clearly led readers to believe he had the whole thing -- even though the page numbers on the document were 1-6, 8, and 14-16.
Shepardson, along with the Associated Press's Ken Thomas in a related story, wrote that the company "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on recall costs when the underlying documents show no such thing, especially when one understands (as this pair clearly doesn't) Japanese cultural and behavioral norms.
Politico was the beneficiary of its own different set of leaked documents from that same presentation. As seen below, the web site's Jack Sherman also gave readers the impression in his report that it had the entire document:
Rather than lie low, Murtha further made himself a target with public comments in the spring of 2006 pressuring the Marine command to investigate allegations of civilian casualties at Haditha, Iraq. This infuriated many Marines, and critics argued that the congressman had become more partisan himself out of loyalty to Pelosi.
But Murtha went beyond pressing for a formal military investigation, which is a legitimate call any congressman could and should make after an incident like Haditha. The former Marine practically declared the Marines at Haditha guilty by saying they have killed "in cold blood."
Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon bashed the media's coverage of the tea party movement with unsubstantiated claims of bias during a panel on "Fox News Sunday."
"Unsubstantiated claims" of media bias against the TEA Party movement? Really? Seriously?
It may be time for Calderone to move off the media beat. He clearly hasn't been paying attention to major details of a major story for nearly a year.
I would offer he could be moved to Obituaries, but that too would entail coverage of the "MSM."
How has Calderone missed completely the now nearly ubiquitous presence of the sexually-explicit, derogatory term used by members of the "MSM" to describe the participants in said Movement? The in-person attacks on Party participants by the likes of CNN's Susan Roesgen (now no longer with the firm)? The over-arching denigrating words and deeds by people throughout the "MSM?"
There is so much "MSM" anti-TEA Party venom to substantiate Sammon's assertion, one hardly knows where to begin. So we will simply list, with links and dates, documentation aplenty below.
(Cursory glance result: 52 NB stories.)
We hope Calderone avails himself hereof, and repents. In writing. Today.
Less than two months after receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, the President is proposing a huge increase in war spending.
Despite his campaign pledges to the contrary, Obama's new budget calls for expenditures associated with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to increase to levels only ten percent below the average of former President George W. Bush's last two years in office.
Given the media's anti-war predilections, it's going to be fascinating to see how the following numbers revealed by Politico a few hours ago will be reported in the coming days:
"Never before have you seen an allegation of corruption going that close to the governor's office in modern history."
So said a Democratic consultant in North Carolina reacting to the latest casualty in the ongoing investigation of former governor Mike Easley.
The scandal has brought down Easley's wife, bankrupted his coffers, disgraced a state university, and now, most recently, set federal charges of extortion against Easley's own closest assistant - with more and more signs pointing back to Easley's doorstep.
How did the national media react to the latest turn? By burying the details and then complaining about citizens who might vote Republican as a result of the scandal.
To see the full scope of corruption afoot, behold this disturbing account from CBS's Raleigh affiliate last Friday:
The Sheboygan Press, which published Ellie Light's infamous letter on January 17, admitted Tuesday that its opinion editor failed to follow company protocol of confirming Light's identity.
Joe Gulig, the paper's resident watchdog, claimed to have started the process by asking for information, but never followed through to see if the phone number was real. The paper admitted that the fiasco "affects credibility" and apologized to their readers for being sloppy.
The possible culprit according to Tuesday's editorial, "The letter was well-written and made sense" (emphasis added):
In January, an anonymous person supposedly named "Ellie Light" launched a massive PR campaign on behalf of President Barack Obama.
The goal appears to have been to infiltrate as many newspapers as possible to spread pro-Obama propaganda -- as if the press needed the help.
Light's plan was simple enough: write a compelling letter to the editor, pretend to be a concerned reader in the region, and persuade the paper to print her liberal blather.
For three weeks, editors of mainstream newspapers big and small allowed Light to spread Democrat talking points under the guise of small-town grassroots without anyone bothering to double check her story.
Appearing on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, Politico.com White House reporter Nia-Malika Henderson argued to co-host Harry Smith that Senator-elect Scott Brown’s humorous remark that his daughters were “available” during his Tuesday night victory speech showed that: “this might be a senator who is gaffe-prone, who has to kind of walk back from remarks that he – that he makes.”
However, Henderson followed that statement by concluding that Brown’s style could make him a “hero for at least folks in the tea bag movement and grassroots folks because he says what’s on his mind.” Smith agreed: “Yeah, a breath of fresh air, as it were.”
Earlier in the segment, Smith admitted he did not see the controversy in the comments: “I’m not seeing sort of what was so horrible about it. And it feels like to me there’s a real sort of nice warm familiarity between the new senator and his daughters.” He then added: “But I guess it’s had other kinds of ramifications and there’s some blow back on this.”
One might think a start would be to tone down some of the rhetoric, take a step back and consider retooling the strategy, instead of lobbing more bombs. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has employed the same protocol as some of the radical fringe elements on the left in attacking Richard Hanna, a candidate for New York's 24th district (h/t Ben Smith of Politico). [emphasis added]
"While making today's announcement that he will once again run for Congress in New York's 24th district, Hanna also launched a new campaign website where he shamelessly touts his ties to the CATO Institute, a right wing extremist group that has long been a vocal advocate for extremist, unfair trade policies that would allow companies to ship American jobs overseas," the Jan. 20 release said.
Andy Barr at Politico shamelessly slanted the fuss over Haiti hot talk on Friday, insisting it was only about Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh, and slamming NewsBusters as one of the "very few" sites defending Rush’s Haiti commentary.
The story was featured on the Yahoo! home page on Friday with a picture of Limbaugh and the headline "Limbaugh criticized." Barr insisted:
John Amato from the left-leaning website Crooks and Liars added that "with thousands of people dead already and as the suffering continues in Haiti, Limbaugh and his ilk only care about one thing: destroying Obama."
The conservative media watchdog site Newsbusters stepped up to defend Limbaugh, saying his comments were not put in proper context, but very few others are backing the conservative firebrand’s latest controversial remarks.
Ken Vogel, the Left Whisperer The Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel was today a poor excuse for a journalist. He was, however, an excellent excuse for a public relations flack for President Barack Obama and his Administration.
Recall if you will the brouhaha that arose after C-Span Chief Executive Officer Brian Lamb publicly released a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner asking that the electronic media be allowed access to the health care legislation conference meetings.
(Currently, they are being conducted behind closed doors with only Democrats allowed to participate - no Republicans, no media.)
This became a bit of a problem for President Obama as well. Here we have eight times during the campaign where he pledged on camera to have all health care meetings televised - on C-Span, by name. Yet he has thus far refused to demand greater openness of or for the health care legislative process.
UPDATE BELOW THE FOLD - THE ESTEEMED MR. CALDERONE RESPONDS.
CORRECTION: I said the Washington Post was on the hook twice on Calderone's list. H/t to NBer Dean who pointed out it's three - #s 2, 7 & 10. A thousand apologies, and thanks to The Man from the People's Republic of Maryland.
I for one think he did a fully fair and more than fairly good job of it. Media Research Center Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham for two thinks so as well.
On his list were the likes of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, the New York Times's Maureen Dowd and CNN. And the Washington Post - twice. Targets all for which you'll find a rich environment here on NewsBusters. And he slammed the traditional media in totality for remaining dockside while the Good Ships ACORN and Van Jones set sail on alternative media seas. He hailed the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck and website mogul Andrew Breitbart by name for captaining those stories when the Jurassic Press stood down.
Calderone clips Fox News for what he calls their "Tea Party Trifecta," but he's hardly bashing meritlessly here either. An FNC producer was caught on tape rallying a Tea Party crowd. That is quite a bit over the top. And Sean Hannity did run B-roll from the wrong rally - a more populous one - and was forced to apologize to the world generally and Jon Stewart particularly.
Though Hannity's probably was an honest mistake. The Pulitzer-winning Dowd's excuse for "borrowing" a paragraph from the liberal website Talking Points Memo - that a "friend" had sent it to her - bends the credibility curve downward quite a bit.
Someone at Politicoworn-out horsed (See: Definition #3) Calderone on the photograph composite accompanying his article, however. (Said snapshots appear below the fold.) We don't think Calderone chooses what goes with his pieces. Perhaps he should.
A number of the conservative movement's prominent online figures are battling to be the right's equivalent of Talking Points Memo or Huffington Post--political organizations that report hard news. Many believe that to truly harness the power of the Web, political organizations must report their own news, rather than comment on reporitng from traditional outlets.
"The left needs Daily Kos, but they also need the Huffington Post," Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis told Politico. He praised the roles of activists and opinion commentators on the right such as Red State's Erick Erickson, but noted that the conservatives have not yet matched the left's capability for original reporting.
Though HuffPo, TPM, and other politcally stilted but journalism-oriented sites, liberals "have the ability to amplify stories into the mainstream media conversation," according to Politico. Conservatives have a large void to fill when it comes to producing original content, rather than solely commenting on what is already out there. There are conservative sites providing original reporting, but there are so far no center-right equivalents to the left's powerhouse online news operations.
Here's another entry for the revolving door file: Politico's Jonathan Allen (pictured at right), formerly of Congressional Quarterly and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes' office, will take over as the top staffer at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DWS PAC, according to Roll Call (h/t e-mail tipster Bob Foster).
For his part, Allen, whose wife works as the communications director for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), found it an offer he couldn't refuse:
"I wouldn't go work for just anyone," Allen said. "She wanted me to come work for her, and it was impossible for me to say no. She has a heart of gold and resolve of steel. ... I find that inspiring."
Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis has the story here, but only the lead paragraph is available to non-subscribers. Below is an excerpt, courtesy of Foster:
Near the end of the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer discussed the ClimateGate scandal only to claim there was no scandal in the emails that seemed to show climate scientists manipulating global warming data: “I mean is someone using differences in semantics to try and play up a controversy that’s not really there?”
Brewer spoke with Politico reporter Erica Lovely about the emails in which scientists referred to a “trick” to conceal evidence that contradicted predicted warming trends. Brewer explained: “...there’s a Penn State scientist Michael Mann....He says the word ‘trick’ doesn’t actually refer to any kind of deception, but to a very well-known accepted data technique.” Lovely saw nothing improper in concealing data: “They wanted to keep it out of some of the international reports that the United Nations would be looking at, you know, just to – to move the global talks forward.”
After Brewer suggested the use of the word “trick” as “just semantics,” Lovely agreed: “Sure....They’ll use language that maybe to us would look like, you know, something fishy is going on. But to them this is just everyday speak.” Lovely again defended their actions: “...they’ve been working so many decades trying to get some traction on the global warming science that they really can’t afford to have much detracting science get out.”
For the dog-bites-man news category: Joe Scarborough had a moment of intellectual schizophrenia today.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist and Politico.com executive editor Jim VandeHei were discussing a Politico story about internal political pressures at National Public Radio (NPR). Apparently, NPR's top political correspondent Mara Liasson was asked by NPR executives to reconsider her appearances on Fox News, for concerns over Fox's perceived political bias.
An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly stated that John Harris and Mike Allen of Politico declined to ask former vice president Al Gore about controversial emails from climate scientists who support the idea of anthropogenic global warming after knowledge of those emails was publicly disclosed.
In fact, the interview with Gore occurred before the emails were public knowledge, therefore Messrs. Harris and Allen could not have asked Gore about them. NewsBusters regrets the error.
The White House's decision to include prominent left-wing blogs in its reporting pool has some journalists worried. Since members of the rotating pool often base their reports off of reports from outlets that attend, they worry that the presence of openly partisan news outlets could skew coverage of the White House.
“This is really troubling,” New York Times reporter Peter Baker told Politico's Michael Calderone. “We’re blurring the line between news and punditry even further and opening ourselves to legitimate questions among readers about where the White House press corps gets its information.”
The White House has decided to include reporters from the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo in its rotating group of press correspondents.
Ed Chen, who reports for Bloomberg News, noted that many consumers would not consider mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times or the Washington Times "objective" outlets.
When outrage erupted this week over a government panel's recommendation that women have fewer mammograms, health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius was prepared with the Obama administration's favorite talking point: It's all Bush's fault. Appearing Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room, Sebelius told anchor Wolf Blitzer:
This panel was appointed by the prior administration, by former President George Bush, and given the charge to routinely look at a whole host of services to make sure that new preventive services which had benefit were being looked at by health care providers and that things that they felt did not have as much benefit as we move forward were also looked at by health care providers.
Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) continued the theme on Friday as reported by Politico:
“The recommendation by this medical panel has been rejected by virtually everyone, including the current administration,” Durbin said. “They were appointed by President Bush.”
With the holiday season approaching, the latest liberal fashion in media bias by omission will be papering over any hard feelings about White House holiday celebrations. Already (as Patrick Gavin of Politico has pointed out), the Jerusalem Post reported that the guest list of the annual White House Hanukkah party is being shrunk in half, from 800 to 400.
Hillary Leila Krieger wrote "Though several Jewish leaders expressed understanding for the economic and other reasons behind the cut, they acknowledged that it would likely help feed feelings in some quarters of the American Jewish community that the White House is giving them the cold shoulder."
It comes as a different attempt at outreach to Jews -- an Obama appearance before the General Assembly of North American Jewish Federations last week -- was cancelled so Obama could attend the Fort Hood memorial service. Krieger added:
"The clergy should stay off Capitol Hill," MSNBC's Chris Matthews flatly declared on the November 10 "Hardball." Matthews fumed with disgust as Politico's Jonathan Allen told him that Catholic bishops lobbied Democrats to pass the pro-life Stupak Amendment to the Democratic health care reform bill last week.
"I understand the [pro-life] argument" that the bishops brought to the table, Matthews added, but huffed that they should not "show up" on the Hill.
After the commercial break, Matthews took to the air again to clarify that it was not in fact bishops but staffers with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) who lobbied the Democrats. Such a distinction, he insisted, was important.