The confluence between the Obama administration and the journalists who cover it can leave news consumers wondering if they're getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Two prominent media personalities -- liberal Fox News Channel commentator Bob Beckel and media mogul Mort Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News -- have recently let slip that they have worked closely with the Obama administration. Neither disclose this fact with regularity. Indeed, their recent admissions were revelatory.
Zuckerman, a self-described Obama supporter, has written at least one speech for the President. Beckel, who worked with David Axelrod during the campaign, is now an adviser in some capacity to the White House.
"MSNBC guest anchor Cenk Uygur filled in for the equally insane and inane Dylan Ratigan and pushed the crazy idea that President Obama is a conservative," he wrote. The video of the segment is all there because Dobbs embedded it from the Media Research Center.
Dobbs, who still has a talk radio show, then went on to criticize Uygur's twisted logic that, Uygur's words Obama "seems to have bought into the Republican talking point on deficits."
Then he went on criticize "the old-standby, Mr. Tingle Up His Leg Chris Matthews" for saying there are only two camps in the nation - "those who want things to improve and those who want to see the country, and therefore the president, fail."
In an interview on MediaBistro.com's 'Media Beat,' MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer told TVNewser editor Kevin Allocca about the cable network's high standards in its audition process: "...it's got to be like the Marine Corps obstacle course in order to land this job." She later complained about "difficult" guests: "When someone comes on with an agenda and their agenda is to take you down."
Allocca asked Brewer about some her toughest interviews. She responded by describing certain guests who "come on and they are prepared to be challenging and to be difficult." Two examples came to her mind, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Republican Senator Judd Gregg.
In recalling a January interview with Gregg, Brewer whined about how "it was a difficult interview to conduct." In reality, Gregg simply pointed out Brewer's liberal bias on the issue of government spending, after she equated Republican calls for less spending with cutting off funding for schools. Gregg pointed out that she was "being fundamentally dishonest" in her reporting.
During the Media Beat interview, she said of guests like Gregg: "...when you have guests on who are difficult or if they're – if they're sticking they're heels in the ground and they're really – you just end it, you move on."
Investigative journalist John Dougherty of Arizona deserves a hand from everyone concerned with liberal media bias, because he has given it up. Dougherty, pictured right in a photo from his website, has, shall we say, crossed the border from being biassed to seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senate.
In the late 80's he was involved with uncovering Charles Keating's use of campaign contributions to five senators-including John McCain, whom Dougherty would most likely face in an election-in exchange for putting pressure on banking regulators. He also investigated Governor Fife Symington, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and Sherrif Joe Arpaio.
Whatever else he has done in the past, Dougherty has already succesfully morphed into a politician, writing a blog for the Huffington Post on illegal immigration and its relationship to crime that directly contradicts the conclusions he reached in an article he wrote for the High County News.
The video of journalists mocking Sarah Palin after a speech she delivered Friday is just the latest in a long line of media bias against the former Alaska governor and conservative superstar.
An open mic caught reporters and photographers criticizing Palin following a speech at a fundraising dinner at California State University. "Oh my God," one voice is heard saying, "I feel like I just got off a roller coaster, going round and round, and up and down. S*** flying out ... everywhere."
While this video is among the clearest examples of media hatred for Palin, the trend goes back at least two years, according to MRC Vice President for Business and Culture Dan Gainor.
"Back around the vice presidential debate in 2008 there were 37 negative stories on the broadcast networks, just two positive," Gainor told "Fox & Friends" June 27. "It's been a feeding frenzy ever since. Some of these journalists hate her so bad if she cured cancer they'd complain how many doctors she put out of work."
Gainor credited advances in technology with giving the American public a clearer picture of media bias in cases like the Palin video, Helen Thomas' anti-Israel comments, and Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel's anti-conservative e-mails.
"What they're discovering, and the key point is, their lies, their leaks, their embarrassing moments are going be to be held out there just like they've been doing to everybody else for decades," Gainor said. "My parents would say, ‘What goes around comes around.'"
One emerging narrative from the tale of Dave Weigel's resignation is the extent to which the journalistic left is insulated from opposing views. The two institutions involved, JournoList and the Washington Post, are exemplars of liberal epistemic closure.
Ezra Klein's now-defunct email list provided a forum for journalists to collaborate, as long as they were, in his words, "nonpartisan to liberal, center to left." No conservatives allowed. The Washington Post, meanwhile, hired Weigel, perhaps two notches left of center, to cover the right, while relying on Klein, a full eight notches left, to cover the liberal movement.
The scarcity of conservative views both on JournoList and in the Post demonstrate the insularity of political conversation among legacy media players. They apply intense scrutiny to conservatives, and fail in the most basic measures of introspection.
Normally, it would be a "dog-bites-man" story - overtly liberal media figures promoting a liberal, big government policy initiative. But when the left-leaning Project for Excellence in Journalism notices a trend, and the New York Times deems it worth reporting, something funny is going on.
On June 21, the Times' "Media Decoder" blog suggested that historians studying how ObamaCare passed "might assign a bit of the credit to liberal talk show hosts." The article cited a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (no right-wing outfit, that) showing that, during the lead-up to health care reform passage, "liberal hosts like Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz" spent nearly twice as much airtime on health care reform as did their conservative counterparts.
Left-wing hosts "spent 44 percent of their airtime talking about health care from June 2009 to March 2010, while conservative hosts spent 26 percent of their airtime on the subject," according to the article. Further, MSNBC gave it 32 percent of its airtime, while Fox gave it 20 percent.
Chris Matthews definitely took a "hard look" at the Tea Party, on Wednesday's "Morning Joe," in anticipation of tonight's MSNBC documentary "The Rise of the New Right." Tying the whole Tea Party movement together, the MSNBC "Hardball" host defined it as "McCarthyite," possessing a "fundamental questioning of authority," and viewing the federal government as an occupying force.
"It believes that this government is verging on tyranny," Matthews complained, pointing to the movement's use of the Revolutionary War-era Gadsden flag -- "Don't Tread on Me" -- in an ominous light.
When asked by Joe Scarborough if he would link members of the Michigan Militia featured in tonight's documentary (seemingly characterized in the preceding video clip as a radical fringe group), to Tea Party members who have campaigned for Scott Brown and Marco Rubio, Matthews answered that the various groups are all part of one movement.
"I'm tying the whole movement together," he asserted. "Because what you hear is that they all fly the same flag."
Completing a full spin through the revolving door, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS and ABC correspondent before jumping aboard the Obama campaign in 2008 – followed by HHS and White House positions promoting ObamaCare -- has re-joined The Atlantic as a Vice President who “will concentrate on company strategy and communications,” the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported online Thursday morning.
Before joining the Obama campaign as senior strategist and senior campaign spokesperson on the road, Douglass toiled for National Journal, part of Atlantic Media which also owns The Hotline. Her first stint in the new administration was as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, a slot she left in April.
Atlantic Chairman David Bradley recognizes the conflict between her political agenda and being a journalist, but he told Kurtz “she's too big an editorial talent for us to keep her out of the editorial product.”
It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.
"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.
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.
Jonathan Alter of Newsweek once again blamed Bush and the Republicans for creating the mess that Obama is now cleaning up, preventing the President from accomplishing his agendas.
Alter, appearing Wednesday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” called the BP oil spill crisis “the perfect metaphor” for Obama’s presidency so far. “It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors,” he stated.
Alter added that Obama is trying to stop an economic depression “that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch.”
“It is a distraction from Obama’s own agenda,” Alter added about the oil spill, “and in that sense, it irritates him.”
Editor's Note: The following originally appeared at NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com.
The fallout from Helen Thomas’ controversial comments about Israel and Jews, which led to her immediate retirement on Monday, has prompted journalists covering the White House to re-evaluate the role of an opinion columnist in the White House press corps.
Thomas, 89, the so-called dean of the White House press corps, covered the White House as a news reporter for United Press International (UPI), beginning with the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s. In 2000, she left UPI to become an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers. She has a front row seat at the White House press gallery with her name on it.
On Friday, June 4, a video surfaced of Thomas saying (on May 27) that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and that the Jews should “go home” to “Poland, Germany,” and to “America and everywhere else.” After initially apologizing for the comment, Thomas announced her immediate retirement on Monday.
For over seven minutes this morning, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel expounded on the racial overtones of Matt Drudge’s Tuesday morning headline and other criticisms of the Obama administration.
It started when Time magazine’s senior political analyst Mark Halperin brought up the Drudge Report headline, “Obama Goes Street: Seeking ‘Ass to Kick’,” and alleged that it spun Obama’s comments to NBC’s Matt Lauer and portrayed Obama unfairly as a gangster.
“One of the problems Barack Obama faces in public life... is he cannot get angry and be an effective communicator as an African-American,” Halperin commented on the interview.
“So Matt Drudge takes the Matt Lauer quote, and he casts it as ‘Obama Goes Street.’ And it includes this photo of an angry-looking Barack Obama,” Halperin complained. “ I think it’s all pretty clear. It’s pretty clear to all of us what’s going on there.”
Because, you see, it's "hate speech" - according to CCAM. And therefore, KMJ should "alter their programming" (read: change their content by silencing conservatives) "in order to curtail practices that we believe to be damaging to our social fabric and to civility in public discourse."
It would seem the residents of Fresno do not believe that Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and others on KMJ are "damaging to our social fabric and to civility in public discourse." But that could not matter less to CCAM.
This local "community group" has organized a press conference for today at 11AM PT to publicly call on KMJ to dump these conservative hosts, who according to them:
At which Mayor Censor designated the absence of the mis-named "Fairness" Doctrine and the free market radio choices made by the American people that resulted as in part contributing to the passage of Arizona law 1070, which calls on state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has grown tired of a media double standard on politicians who use "combative tones" and made sure the reporter demonstrating the double standard knew it. Watch as Christie slams the reporter:
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."
As first reported by Matt Cover at the Media Research Center's news wing CNSNews.com, Kagan offers up this gem:
"If there is an ‘overabundance' of an idea in the absence of direct governmental action -- which there well might be when compared with some ideal state of public debate -- then action disfavoring that idea might ‘un-skew,' rather than skew, public discourse."
So if talk radio suffers from an "overabundance" of conservative voices, government action to "un-skew" this particular public discourse is just fine by her.
Hello so-called "Fairness" Doctrine. Not to mention Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd's liberally "skewed" interpretations of FCC "media diversity" and "localism" rules.
On today's Rick's List, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez brandished those reportorial skills for which he's so famous. He and national political correspondent Jessica Yellin discussed Tuesday's primaries and the "Sarah Palin and the Tea Party influences." Not surprisingly, they agreed they had little impact:
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday's elections showed that there was very limited turnout. One of the things we have heard is that the Tea Party movement was going to energize the base, stoke up turnout, especially on the Republican side. And in the key Republican races -- there were two in Indiana especially -- the incumbents won. Now, their margin of victory was more narrow, but the Tea Party movement didn't throw the bums out, as you said.
YELLIN: So, it's still to be determined whether they will have a huge influence in November.
SANCHEZ: Well, I know, but we got one of the first runs where we get to -- where we get to take a look at something like this, the...
SANCHEZ: ... and the -- the -- the polls showed that the turnout was way, way underwhelming. Not only that. The three guys -- or five guys, whatever the number is, the number of guys who actually won last night...
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.
It took a while, but MSNBC President Phil Griffin has finally admitted and embraced his cable network's hard-left slant. He told the Chicago Tribune that he will try to carve out a niche on the left, hoping some day to rival the Fox News Channel's record-setting ratings.
Not so long ago, Griffin insisted that MSNBC was not "tied to ideology" -- unlike Fox, which simply could not be trusted, he claimed. Griffin even knocked FNC President Roger Ailes's business model, criticizing him for "creat[ing] an ideological channel… I give them total credit. I tip my hat to them. They scored. But it was ideological and opportunistic. It was a business plan."
Griffin has apparently abandoned his disdain for that business plan. He spoke glowingly of Ailes in an interview with the Tribune, saying the FNC president "changed the world" with his wildly successful business model, which went beyond just reporting to create brand loyalty and provide viewers with commentary that speaks to their views and preferences. MSNBC will now be (openly) emulating that model.
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.
Based on what I observed at Mary Taylor's Lieutenant Governor announcement in January, it seems that veteran Columbus Dispatch reporter/columnist Joe Hallett at least occasionally gets to ask the first question at press conferences based on respect for his longevity. This has led me to refer to Hallett as "Ohio's Helen Thomas." (Thomas was allowed to ask the first question at White House press conferences and press briefings for many years.)
Hallett's politics may not be identical to Thomas's far-leftism, but they appear to be in the same neighborhood. More relevant to his journalistic duties, he's wearing a very similar set of blinders. "Clueless Joe" would be an appropriate nickname.
How else can you explain how the supposed dean of Ohio political reporters can display the incredible ignorance shown in the first paragraph of his column today without feeling utterly embarrassed?
Here is that paragraph, followed by the detail served up in Paragraph 7:
In a sign of just how deep the MSM is in the global-warming tank, the White House Correspondents Association [WHCA] has announced that it is buying carbon credit offsets for travel connected with its big annual dinner [h/t Mike Allen's Politico Playbook].
WHCA president Ed Chen of Bloomberg announced the move, along with the dinner menu that included at least one "organic" item, then boasted [emphasis added]:
"The menu is consistent with our greening of the entire event -- a first in the 96-year history of WHCA. It includes WHCA buying carbon offsets for Leno's travels (air and ground) and POTUS motorcades to and from; ditto for WHCA board members and staff travel."
Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg hit back at Jon Stewart today, saying the "Daily Show" host was "throwing spitballs at a battleship" by attacking the Fox News Channel.
The back-and-forth between Stewart and Goldberg began when the former leveled accusations of hypocrisy, claiming Goldberg criticized others for generalizing while doing so himself. Stewart responded to Goldberg's retort with a musical number presumably titled "Go F--k Yourself."
Goldberg said he had "no problem with what [Stewart] did last night," and was "flattered" that he "devoted half of his show last night to me." But Goldberg went on to call a group of Stewart's most devoted fans "sewer rats" for trolling his site with vulgarity during the past couple days, and told Stewart to "man up."
It's pretty obvious that oftentimes the media and the Democratic Party work in concert to marginalize opposition of a common goal. ABC's George Stephanopoulos working with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was just one example. The question is, how far will the media and Democrats take it?
According to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., if the passage of ObamaCare is evidence, they're willing to take it to achieve Draconian financial regulation and ultimate censorship of the Internet. On his April 19 Fox News Channel program, host Sean Hannity asked Bachmann if there were a double standard, or a coordinated attack as the "echo chamber" of the Democratic Party, including the media, seem to "singing from the same hymnal." And according to Bachmann, the attacks on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative talkers Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh over the weekend for so-called sedition were the latest evidence.
"Well, they are," Bachmann said. "If you look at all of the news shows over this last weekend, they used practically the identical language. They are talking about a war of words. They specifically identified Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and they were, as you said, they're singing off the same hymnal. But essentially it is whoever they see as an effective voice, that's who they go after and attack right now."
One of the things taught in journalism schools, at least when it comes crime reporting, is that when someone charged with a crime, you carefully craft your rhetoric because in the United States, you're presumed innocent until proven guilty.
But what if you're journalist and you're making accusations of crime where there's not even a charge? On NBC's April 18 "The Chris Matthews Show," Time magazine's Joe Klein accused former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Fox News host Glenn Beck of rubbing "right up close to being seditious," which according to the U.S. Code is rubbing right up close to being a crime. And even after the fact, Klein has stuck to his guns and didn't back down from that accusation.
"On the Chris Matthews Show Sunday, I said that some of the right-wing infotainment gasbags--people like Glenn Beck etc.--were nudging up close to the edge of sedition," Klein wrote in an April 19 post on Time.com's Swampland blog. "This has caused a bit of a self-righteous ruckus on the right. Let me be clear: dissent isn't sedition. Questioning an Administration's policies isn't sedition. But questioning an Administration's legitimacy in a manner intended to undermine or overthrow it certainly is."
UPDATE (below the fold): The Washington Examiner's Byron York just posted a piece - Andrew Breitbart's coin challenge for evidence of the "N" word has been verbally answered by AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka.
Editor's Note: Video of conservative being beaten down below the fold.
The media and the Left (please pardon the redundancy) continue to insist that TEA Party participants are engaged in racist and violent behavior - at the surreptitious and stealth "hate speech" urging of talk radio hosts and Republicans.
These have almost all been phantom charges. They are leveled by liberals and Democrats, and the media immediately report them as if they were true. They rarely bother to look for evidence, which works out because most times there isn't any.
On the weekend that health care passed, Democrat Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana asserted that the "N" word was shouted fifteen times at him and fellow black Congressman John Lewis.
The media went right to print with it, reporting it as if it were true. But several videos of the encounter between the Congressmen and the TEA Party-ers surfaced soon after. And on NONE of them could the word be heard once, let alone fifteen times in the chanted fashion that Carson claimed.
Internet media mogul Andrew Breitbart offered $10,000 to the United Negro College Fund - and then later upped it to $100,000 - for any evidence that the word was used at all. He's still got his coin.
And of course, no correction or apology was forthcoming from the media. In fact, some are still reporting it as if it actually happened.
There is hardly a more fitting figure to trumpet Old Media's fear of Internet-powered citizen journalism than Helen Thomas. The 89-year-old reporter has covered every president since Jack Kennedy. But when it comes to the inevitable decline of her brand of journalism, her fears are unfounded and misplaced.
"Helen Thomas," reported Lloyd Grove for the Daily Beast, "is worried that all the downsizing at media outlets will result in less-reliable coverage of the president." Thomas went on to lament the rise of new media as a viable alternative to traditional journalism.
With all due respect to Thomas and her distinguished career as a reporter, it is not at all clear that someone with views as liberal as hers -- placing her as they do well outside the mainstream of American political opinion -- is at all preferable an intermediary to a pajama-clad blogger or iPhone photographer.