Less than two weeks after his suspension for previous intemperate tweets was lifted, CNN's Roland Martin was engaging in personally insulting "mis-tweetment" again this afternoon with PJ Media's David Steinberg.
In a series of tweets at around 5 p.m. tonight seen after the jump, Steinberg criticized Martin for spending so much time on the press's Trayvon Martin obsession -- where one person tragically died -- while ignoring the impact and meaning of the documents leaked by an unnamed Department of Justice official relating to the Fast and Furious "gunwalking" scandal -- as a result of which "at least 300 Mexicans, plus at least two American law enforcement agents" have been killed. Martin's responses were immature, insulting, condescending -- and all too typical of a press corps which, now that it is seeing poll results it doesn't like, has in certain cases taken to calling voters stupid.
ABC, CBS, and NBC spotlighted the Komen foundation's about-face on funding Planned Parenthood on their Friday evening newscasts, and played up the apparent role of social media in getting the charity to reverse its earlier decision. On World News, ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "dramatic day for people power," while on Nightly News, NBC's Lester Holt concluded, "score one for the power of social media."
The Big Three outlets also covered the 180 by the breast cancer organization on their Saturday morning shows. Altogether, the networks added seven more reports to the 13 from the first 60 hours or so of the controversy, bringing the total to 20 since February 1, versus only three on the face-off between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration since January 20 (the MRC documented and highlighted this imbalance in a report on Friday; ABC and NBC added mentions on their Sunday morning political shows).
Instead, Twitter (and their ABC promoters) insisted it was more notable that a guy joke-tweeted for a Morton's porterhouse at the airport and Morton's decided to show up with a steak for the publicity. Or that bored NBA star Kevin Durant showed up at a flag-football game with old Oklahoma buddies through Twitter. It doesn't pass the laugh test. (By contrast, on December 31, 2010, Sawyer's newscast did mock Sarah Palin using "refudiate" on Twitter in their year in review.)
Some 24 hours before taking to the air for the debut of "Now with Alex Wagner," the MSNBC host tweeted a snarky comment about sexual harassment being a "lucrative side gig" for GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain, who "raised $9M in Oct."
But besides presuming Cain's guilt, Wagner's claim is factually inaccurate, ignoring the fact that Politico broke the sexual harassment allegations at the end of October, publishing the story to its website after 9 p.m. Eastern on Halloween night. Indeed, Time magazine notes that only 25 percent of the contributions "came since Politico published its story alleging the Georgian sexually harassed two women."
A software upgrade at Facebook has some conservative groups worried that their hard-earned followings might be rendered useless. The upgrade will "archive" all existing Facebook groups, thereby revoking administrators' access to member lists, unless they receive an exemption from Facebook (and the accompanying software).
The company has not revealed how groups are being chosen for these exemptions, but a number of prominent conservative groups recently told the Daily Caller that they had not received one, and feared they wouldn't. Losing access to member lists would remove key functionality, as administrators would no longer be able to contact group members en masse (Facebook "pages" will not be affected).
Facebook insisted in a statement that the company "determined what groups to archive based on a number of factors, including the amount of recent activity."But a quick look at a few of the groups that did and did not get these exemptions demonstrates that neither activity nor group size was the overriding factor. Indeed, plenty of conservative-leaning political groups with active memberships are still waiting on the software given to smaller, far less active liberal-leaning groups.
In late 2009, the Washington Post's response to a tweet from its managing editor that betrayed a clear left-leaning worldview was to censor all of its employees for fear that they might betray their (gasp) opinions. A more sensible policy might have been to acknowledge that the paper is staffed by people who are, for the most part, liberals.
The same managing editor, Raju Narisetti - who has since added a strongly-worded statement to his twitter bio disclaiming his employer from any views expressed there - shot out a similar tweet on Monday, once again conveying his left-of-center views on major policy priorities. “Thought encounter of the day: ‘Would be good if our schools are fully funded and DoD has to hold a bake sale to buy its next fighter jet,'" Narisetti wrote.
The wisdom of that (facetious?) policy prescription is a debate for another forum. It should, however, remove any remaining doubt about Narisetti's political views. And while his tweet does not represent the Post's official position, it ought to give readers pause that someone with such obviously left-of-center views is in such a position of power at an ostensibly "objective" publication.
In a set of tweets a few minutes ago decrying the shooting of bin Laden, leftist filmmaker Michael Moore attacked the Obama administration for not capturing bin Laden and bringing him back alive for trial.
After comparing Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Confederate president Jefferson Davis to bin Laden, Moore groused, "I'm just saying, I want my America back."
He then added, "I dunno, maybe it never was. We are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves."
It wasn't long ago that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was concerned about how he would be portrayed in The Social Network - and with good reason. As John Nolte observed, "there's no doubt that this look at how the creation of a cultural phenomenon left behind a wake of betrayals, broken relationships and billion-dollar lawsuits is an absolutely fascinating one."
Twitter and other social networks have provided social scientists with unprecedented means of measuring human interaction. As it turns out, that fact has implications for the media bias debate.
In a study to be released next month, three Duke University researchers rank politicians and other public figures by political ideology as measured by a formula that incorporates whom they follow on Twitter, and who follows them. "The results dovetailed with ideological ranking systems based on the politicians’ voting records," the New York Times reported on Monday.
If the study is accurate, it demonstrates just how liberal some of America's most prominent journalists really are. Check below the break for some key findings concerning on the not-so-neutral news media.
Update (12:08 p.m. EST): Brewer just made this her question of the day on her MSNBC Live program.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer injected a bit of liberal commentary to a link she posted Monday morning on her Facebook page.
"You know it's overfunded when even the Pentagon pushes for spending cuts. Why is defense such a sacred cow?" lamented Brewer in a comment posted above a link to a Wall Street Journal article on Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget blueprint.
I don't know, Contessa, maybe because the primary mission of the federal government is defending the nation from foreign enemies?
A recently-released analysis by the Pew Research Center reveals some interesting facts about the online conversation regarding the Tucson massacre. Most notably, it lends statistical weight to the claim that the left accused its ideological opponents of fostering a "climate of hate" to a far greater degree than did the right.
Though that may not be altogether surprising, the Pew study also revealed that the three news networks - the self-styled objective and responsible journalistic gatekeepers - were far more likely to blame conservatives alone for the tone of the national debate than even liberals in the blogosphere and twitterverse.
Vanity Fair's national editor Todd Purdum has a long piece in the most recent issue (in the print edition only, as far as I can tell) bemoaning what he argues are the new and unique challenges facing the Obama administration, including the state of the news media. Purdum's opinions on the state of the news business boil down to a call for the press's continuing political uniformity.
He offers a quote from White House adviser Valerie Jarrett that also captures the author's opinions on the issue. Purdum writes:
Obama's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett looks back wistfully to a time when credible people could put a stamp of reliability on information and opinion: "Walter Cronkite would get on and say the truth, and people believed the media," she says. Today, no single media figure or outlet has that power to end debate, and in pursuit of "objectivity," most honest news outlets draw the line at saying flatly that something or other is untrue, even when it plainly is.
Purdum's and Jarrett's statements are comprised of one part revisionist nostalgia, and one part liberal elitism. "Objectivity" was never really present. What they're longing for is the reliable white-collar liberalism of the 20th century news media.
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.
The Twitter "Fail Whale": An irritating part of anyone's day that regularly uses social networking in their day-to-day activities. But could this endanger the viability of Twitter as long-term business?
A couple of analysts say think so. Both CNET.com senior editor Natali Del Conte and Herb Greenburg of CNBC Business News suggested Twitter's infrastructure problems could pose issues for Twitter's survival on CNBC's July 2 "Power Lunch."
"Twitter's down all the time," Greenburg said. "I love using Twitter. I will say it here and now - if Twitter were a business, it would be broke. Wait! Twitter is a business, but it's a private business. Maybe it's the type of business that should go public in this environment because those are the kind of companies that go public.
The amateur liberal blogosphere is dead, according to a prominent lefty blogger. Chris Bowers made his proclamation Thursday, on the heels of the New York Times's acquisition of FiveThirtyEight, a prominent liberal polling site run by Nate Silver.
Silver, pictured right, was the latest in a string of moves from the liberal blogosphere to traditional media outlets. The Washington Post has, with much fanfare, beefed up its blogging staff of late, most recently by hiring Dave Weigel to cover the political right.
The trend of professionalization should not be surprising. Traditional media are overwhelming liberal, and new media comprise some of the sharpest journalistic minds the nation has to offer. Traditional media need ways to remain relevant. Why wouldn't they draw talent from the vast pool of bloggers?
It was bound to happen and no one can really blame them for doing so, but someone eventually had to determine who the political winners and losers are for the tragic circumstances surrounding the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Looking forward to the upcoming election cycle, MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough determined the time was right to take a stab at it, although reluctantly on his June 2 broadcast.
"[W]e will stay with BP for one second but talk about presidential politics and I know this will be offensive to some people but it's just a reality that there is somebody in the White House, somebody in the Democratic Party, somebody in the Republican Party that's trying to figure out the political impact of this environmental tragedy. And we were talking with Chuck Todd last hour about how it ramps up when the oil starts washing on Florida shores, Chris. That makes this a much bigger political event in terms of presidential politics, like it or not."
It seems that the vast majority of journalists who bemoan unaccountable, unabashedly opinionated digital reporting are the same ones who have, without challenge, pushed a liberal perspective through their own reporting.
The latest such journalist, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, is concerned that "nobody is cross-examining" the "position papers" that supposedly comprise a critical mass of new media journalism. Of course without new media, Fineman's position papers would be virtually immune from meaningful cross examination.
His position is common among the media's old guard: accountability for thee, but not for me. This view stems both from a sort of meta-double standard: Fineman and his ilk extrapolate a few bad apples among the new media crowd into a larger trend of malfeasance, while treating instances of journalistic malpractice among old media reporters as isolated incidents that have no real bearing on Old Media's accountability (or lack thereof).
That's why one needs to mix it up, perhaps by suggesting that they're akin to the radical Islamic clerics that inspire terrorism.
Just ask MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
During the "Political Sideshow" segment of his June 1 program, the "Hardball" host compared Sarah Palin's Facebook page posting about author Joe McGinniss renting the house next door to a "fatwa" aimed at "rev[ving] up anger at the author" from amongst her "mob" of followers [MP3 audio available here]:
The former Newsweek editor snarked on GQ.com's The Wire blog earlier this afternoon about Missouri Republican Roy Blunt's "follow Friday" (#ff) tweet urging his Twitter followers to check out and follow Best Buddies International and the Special Olympics.
In a post entitled, "Really? You're Using #FollowFriday To Score Cheap Political Points?", Devin Gordon snarked:
The government of Pakistan has blocked social networking site Facebook due to a page encouraging users to "Draw Mohammed." The page, and the larger movement, have outraged Muslims, who believe it is blasphemous to physically depict Islam's prophet.
"Death to Facebook!" shouted protesters in Karachi, demonstrating against a group called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," designed to further the cause of "free expression." The movement was a backlash against recent threats of violence against, among others, the creators of the popular animated show South Park, which showed Mohammed in a bear mascot suit.
The "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page has been taken down -- though Facebook categorically denies any attempt at censorship or involvement in its removal -- and Facebook has been "indefinitely" blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. All in all, it's been a rough couple days for the social network.
Newsweek's Andrew Romano isn't really anti-Michelle Bachmann, he argues that he just sounds like one on Twitter.
In a May 17 "Web Exclusive," entitled "Tweet the Press," the Newsweek staffer explained to readers how an editor assigned him to write a "Twitter profile" of the Minnesota Republican:
My editor had just stepped into my office to discuss a new assignment. The NEWSWEEK brass is interested in Twitter, he told me, but they're looking for an original way to cover it—which is where you come in.... "I'm thinking you should write a 'Twitter profile' of Michele Bachmann," he said, referring to the outspoken, ultraconservative Republican congresswoman from Minnesota who has accused Barack Obama of being "anti-American" and asked her supporters to "slit their wrists" and be "blood brothers" to defeat health-care reform. "Fly up there, follow her around, tweet as you go. Then we'll publish an annotated version of your Twitter feed in the magazine. Could be kind of fun."
Later in his piece, Romano noted the drawbacks and advantages of live-tweeting a politician's stump speeches, concluding that the format made him sound like "knee jerk Bachmann hater." He denied that, of course, arguing that Twitter made him more of a "color commentator" that was looking for "bite-sized" vignettes that could go "viral" (emphasis mine):
NewsBusters contributor, Rick Sanchez nemesis, and admitted "space travel geek" Matthew Balan is at the Kennedy Space Center today as one of a few lucky Twitter contestants selected by NASA to watch and live-tweet this afternoon's launch of Shuttle Atlantis.
Mr. Balan was thrilled beyond belief when he found out a few weeks ago that he was selected for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we're quite happy for him.
If you're on Twitter, please be sure to check out his tweets today. You can find him online at twitter.com/matthewjlb.
One can't help but be a bit stunned at the audacity of an organization built by Morton Halperin and George Soros lecturing others on "astroturfing." But that same audacity -- not the good Barack Obama kind -- is taken to extremes when that same organization alleges a corporate conspiracy where there simply is none.
Think Progress's Lee Fang was practically giddy that he had uncovered the next vast right-wing conspiracy, proclaiming that a powerpoint "obtained" by the website "reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net Neutrality" via layers of astroturfing "front groups."
In reality, the powerpoint was the creation not of the giant telecoms that quite openly oppose Net Neutrality, but rather of six students in a contest at a "think tank MBA" program held by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The whole project cost under $200. And far from being "secret," as Fang claimed, the powerpoint was posted online, as was the audio of the students' presentation to the contest's judges. Some astroturf!
In the latest example of a pattern of opacity, the White House has cut off the press's access to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Kagan has extensive ties to journalists, which only serves as a testament to this administration's determination to control the message on its major initiatives, including Kagan's nomination.
"Tell her we're deeply frustrated," one reporter told White House press secretary Robert Gibbs of the administration's refusal to grant Kagan a traditional interview with the press. Kagan did do a short interview with a White House staff member released only online, in what CBS White House correspondent Peter Maer called "Kagan 'in her own words' without anyone else's words."
Washington Examiner White House correspondent Julie Mason was harsher in her criticism. The White House interview "doesn't count toward the administration's 'accountability' totals," she wrote on the paper's Beltway Confidential blog. "It's just another campaign commercial, masquerading as openness."
"Associated Content claims to be a non-partisan website, encouraging its contributors to publish articles at will on any topic without prohibitions towards political ideology…unless, as it turned out in my case, YOU ARE CONSERVATIVE," Schenker wrote at the Jawa Report. Associated Content seems, in that sense, to reflect the same values of its non-digital media counterparts.
When the story broke involving five high school students sent home by school administrators for daring to wear the American flag on Cinco de Mayo, the once universally-beloved film critic Roger Ebert had a choice. He could either side with the students and school administrators repressing free speech or he could side with those having their speech repressed. Not surprisingly (he is a leftist, after all), Ebert sided with the repressors. Worse, with this Tweet, Ebert equated wearing the American flag as just as offensive as wearing the Soviet hammer & sickle.
Today, Ebert responds with the usual leftist refuge of last resort: How dare you question my patriotism!
The Washington Post is making the transition from a powerhouse liberal newspaper to a network of powerhouse liberal blogs. While the paper's Old Guard is worried that the move will tarnish the Post's supposed reputation for political neutrality, it should be seen more as a embrace of the agenda the Post has evinced for years.
"Traditionalists," wrote Politico today, "worry that the Post is sacrificing a hard-won brand and hallowed news values." One such "traditionalist," Rem Rieder of the American Journalism Review, said a more openly-liberal approach to reporting, mostly done online in the form of various blogs, would be "a danger to the brand."
To the extent that the Post still pretends to be objective -- and to the extent that its readers believe that claim -- then yes, an opinion blog-centric approach is tarnishing the brand. But for those who acknowledge the Post' consistently liberal approach to the news, the only change is the way that that news is delivered.