The Supreme Court on Monday delivered its verdict in the closely watched Hobby Lobby case, ruling 5-4 that the Christian-run craft store doesn't have to obey the Obamacare mandate that requires health care plans to pay for birth-control drugs that may induce abortion. Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion stated that requiring such closely-held corporations to provide such coverage violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yet New York Times legal reporter Adam Liptak's lead story Tuesday, under the banner headline "Court Limits Birth Control Rule," managed to quote liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent in the second sentence.
During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.
Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.
New York Times journalists Jim Yardley and Michael Shear on Thursday compared Barack Obama to Pope Francis. According to the writers, the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage Barack Obama and the pro-life, anti-gay marriage religious leader have a lot in common.
Yardley and Shear connected "an Argentine pope and an American president who each burst onto the global scene as a history-making change agent." They insisted that each arrived "promising to promote a new post-partisan ethos, each having made the cover of Rolling Stone."
At the New York Times on Tuesday evening for the front page of Wednesday's print edition, Michael D. Shear and Robert Pear wrestled with how to characterize President Barack Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your health care plan" (and doctor, and provider) "you can keep your health care plan" (and doctor, and provider.
The headline called it a "vow" (actually a pretty good word). In their opening paragraph, they called it a "promise," and indicated that the President's guarantee related to "insurance coverage." In the next paragraph, they described Obama serially presented guarantees as "wrongly assuring Americans that they could retain their health plans if they wanted." In Paragraph 6, the guarantee became an "incorrect promise." Excerpts follow the jump (HT Rare via Twitchy, which describes it as "epic bootlicking"; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
In a Thursday evening writeup (HT Twitchy) which appeared on Page A14 in its Friday morning print edition, Michael D. Shear at the New York Times reported on President Barack Obama's attempt to clean up the four-year mess he made (from June 6, 2009 through September 26, 2013) in over three dozen statements and published items. The mess was Obama's guarantee — not a promise, a guarantee — that "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
Despite the fact that Obama's serially made guarantee doesn't square with what has really happened, and that Obama and his administration have known for over three years that the millions of individual plan cancellations which have occurred would indeed occur, Shear blandly accepted Obama's claim that "Mr. Obama said he had not purposely misled anyone." He also accepted an almost definitely untrue contention Obama made as an indisputable fact: "[He] (Obama) emphasized that most people who were forced off a current plan would be able to find new insurance that was cheaper and provided better coverage." People who have been able to do that and have said so publicly have thus far been very few and far between. Excerpts follow the jump.
Over the weekend, The New York Times promoted its July 24 interview with President Obama – after being shut out for almost three years – but reporters Jackie Calmes and Michael “Macaca” Shear couldn’t find time for a single question about the IRS scandal, Benghazi, or other Obama scandals. They found time to ask a softball about whether Obama would help observe the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. This could explain Obama’s last words: “Thanks, guys. Appreciate you.”
But Calmes and Shear did throw a series of hardballs about how Obama’s not getting around Republican obstructionism on the economy. In a question pushing to end the sequester, Calmes spurred Obama to talk about his passion for deficit reduction (despite the need for a laugh track, he’s not kidding):
Yesterday evening the Obama administration announced it would back down from plans to fight a federal judge's ruling that the Plan B emergency contraception pill must be made available over-the-counter and without age restriction in U.S. pharmacies. Previously the FDA permitted over-the-counter sales to girls and women aged 17 and older and the Obama administration wished to revise that age requirement down to 15.
But in reporting the story, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal omitted any objection from pro-life or parents rights groups, even as they reported the reactions of abortion rights advocates. "We are pleased that women should soon be able to buy Plan B One-Step without the arbitrary restrictions that kept it locked behind the pharmacy counter when they needed it most urgently," the Journal's Jennifer Corbett Dooren quoted Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights at the close of her 11-paragraph, page A3 story for Tuesday's print edition.
Radio host Hugh Hewitt's interviews with reporters can be fascinating. On Tuesday, he pressed New York Times reporter Michael Shear about the question of what President Obama was doing on the night of September 11, 2012 as the Benghazi consulate came under a vicious terrorist attack. Shear showed an obvious distaste for digging into this, saying "relevance is in the eye of the beholder" and "I'm not personally trying to get to the bottom of that."
Speaking of digging into irrelevant issues, when Shear was at The Washington Post, he spent months in 2006 trying to dig a political ditch for Sen. George Allen for insulting a Democratic opposition researcher as "Macaca." So political bias might be a better guess as to his interests:
Believe it or not, none of the largest national newspapers put an article on Wednesday’s IRS hearings on the front page. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal had a picture of Lois Lerner, but sent the reader to an inside page for the story. The New York Times and USA Today offered no picture, either.
USA Today has an excuse: it put Lerner taking the Fifth on Wednesday’s front page in a preview. But The New York Times only put this taxpayer scandal on Page One: “Europe Pushes to Shed Stigma Of a Tax Haven.” Oh, heavens forbid. Andrew Higgins championed a “sweeping global assault on tax evasion,” starting in Luxembourg.
In real life it's near impossible to find anyone who pities the IRS. That's what the New York Times is for. In a Business Day section front-pager for Thursday's paper, the Times's Michael Shear lamented that the CEO of Apple received relatively kind treatment from a Senate panel this week while IRS officials have been grilled.
"One thing became clear this week on Capitol Hill: It is better to be a tax dodger than a tax collector," whined Shear in the opening paragraph of "Torches and Pitchforks for I.R.S. but Cheers for Apple." "Plenty of good will for iPhones but only disdain for the tax collector," lamented a pull quote on the jump page which appeared underneath a picture of Apple's chief Tim Cook. Apparently Shear, and his editors at the Times, are perplexed that congressmen hold a government agency that abused its power to target Americans for their political beliefs in lower regard than a company which employs thousands of Americans and produces products loved the world over, by people of every political stripe, including those lovable hippies of the Occupy Movement.
Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt featured two liberal journalists on his nightly program this week, and both joined the chorus of media outrage at the Obama administration over the Justice Department’s recent AP probe. Bloomberg View’s Jonathan Alter called Eric Holder’s explanation of the probe “pathetic” and suggested that President Obama should “apologize to journalists” over the scandal, while Michael Shear of the New York Times was frosted by the “absolutely chilling” way that the Obama/Holder DOJ has treated journalists like criminals.
Just last week, Alter fretted over the administration’s scandals with Chris Matthews on Hardball, claiming that White House staffers had “an unhealthy love” for Obama. On Wednesday, Alter blasted the administration for their “especially aggressive” attitude towards reporters, calling the Justice Department’s recent actions “disturbing."
President Obama caused ruffles on a fundraising jaunt to San Francisco when he said in a speech at a fundraising house party that state Attorney General Kamala Harris (pictured) was "by far the best-looking attorney general in the country." The Washington Post made a full story out of it, using the throwaway line the same way the media has done so often against Republican politicians, suggesting it was part of a larger pattern of regrettable behavior: "Obama rekindles talk of a White House boys' club."
President Obama reopened the debate Thursday over whether his administration is too influenced by men after praising the looks of Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general and a possible future gubernatorial candidate....Obama’s remarks during a fundraising trip to the Bay Area buzzed through Twitter and other social media, where reaction ranged from appalled to leave-the-guy-alone.
Since the existing background-check system began, in 1994, officials have screened more than 108 million people before they could buy a gun, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the federal government has blocked 1.9 million attempted purchases because of felony convictions or other problems with the would-be buyers’ background.
But no background check is required for about 40 percent of gun purchases, including those made online or at gun shows, federal officials estimate. Requiring checks for those purchases would be the single most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, advocates say.
New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Michael Shear found "right-wing conspiracy" mongering in the aftermath of the unusual 12-hour filibuster by Republican Sen. Rand Paul protesting the White House's failing to rule out the use of drone strikes on American soil or against U.S. citizens: "Visions of Drones Swarming the Skies Touch Bipartisan Nerve."
That slightly dismissive headline on the front of Saturday's edition ("Visions" assumes an abstract and an unreasonable fear) is matched by the story, which tilts a little to the left in labeling and to the Obama administration in its dismissive tone toward White House critics, pitting "liberal activists" against "right-wing conspiracy theorists" and "self-proclaimed defenders of the Constitution." In contrast, during the Bush years the Times took seriously the most paranoid fears of liberals about the Patriot Act.
Over the weekend the New York Times painted the $85 billion in budget cuts that will start kicking in Friday – known in Washington-speak as sequestration -- in dramatic terms, falsely heralding a new age of "government austerity" (since when?) and passing along stories of budget-cut fear-mongering from the state level.
Wednesday's banner New York Times headline on the second presidential debate was studiously neutral: "Obama and Romney Mount Biting Attacks in Debate Rematch." Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny's underlying report played it straight, as did Peter Baker in his front-page "news analysis," under the punchy headline "Punch, Punch, Punch."
But while the Obama cheerleading was muted in print, Times journalists let their slant show during live fact-check of the debate, and especially on the TimesCast. Baker wrote for Wednesday's edition:
A secretly recorded video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser about the "47 percent of the country who are dependent on government," put out last night by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, calls into question whether Romney is "at base, an empathetic and caring man." That's according to the New York Times, which rushed the Monday night breaking news onto Tuesday morning's front page in a story by Michael Shear and Michael Barbaro, "In Video Clip, Romney Calls 47% ‘Dependent’ and Feeling Entitled."
How painfully predictable: The New York Times filled the news gap caused by the cancellation of Monday's events with rumors of party discord. In fact, the Times first tried to gin up controversy at the 2012 Republican National Convention long ago. Here's a May 13, 2010 report from Damien Cave on how toxic beaches in Tampa might ruin the Republican convention, then over two years away:
The wrong mix of poverty juxtaposed with Republicans partying - perhaps against a backdrop of oil-stained beaches – could give Democrats just what they need to portray their opponents as woefully disconnected from the middle class."
Is the New York Times trying to change the subject from the bad economy to social issues, for Obama's sake? On Thursday Michael Shear (pictured) and Jonathan Weisman did their best to tie controversial comments by Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin to Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan: "Romney Strategists Say They’ll Stay the Course Amid Focus on Abortion."
Mitt Romney’s campaign advisers have concluded that they do not need any major adjustments in strategy to respond to the new focus on abortion and reproductive rights caused by Representative Todd Akin, betting that their candidate’s economic message will still resonate with female voters after the controversy over Mr. Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape.”
Is the Tea Party on the decline or not? Don't ask the New York Times. Political reporter Michael Shear wrote in Monday's paper that "Tea Party Hopes to Gain Larger Stage in Election With Romney's Pick." The text box: "A movement already energized by a string of electoral victories." But in May, a Times reporter wrote that the Tea Party "has lost momentum." Here's Shear:
For two years, Tea Party lawmakers in the House have been the stubborn barbarians at the gate, strong-arming their often reluctant Republican colleagues by refusing to compromise on spending, taxes, debt or social policy.
New York Times campaign reporter Michael Shear's "Political Memo" on Friday, "The 2012 Cycle: Attack, Feign Outrage, Repeat," was pitched as an even-handed, "pox on both your houses" article on how both political campaigns use phony outrage as a political tool.
But Shear launched a dubious defense of Obama's notorious "You didn't build that" gaffe, and understated the offensiveness of a false and malicious pro-Democratic ad holding Mitt Romney responsible for the death of a worker's wife.
CNN's media critic Howard Kurtz made the ludicrous assertion that reporters shouting loaded questions outside of a sacred site in Poland were still a "model of decorum" compared to Mitt Romney aide who cursed at them to "show some respect" for the place.
"So, the press doesn't look so great there in Poland, but the reporters were a model of decorum compared to Rick Gorka, the Romney spokesman, who later apologized for the kiss crack," Kurtz began his segment on Sunday's Reliable Sources. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Radio and Current TV host Bill Press got thoroughly exposed on CNN Sunday as a shill for President Obama.
After Press shamelessly uttered the typical liberal line regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) unsubstantiated claims about Mitt Romney not paying taxes, Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz smartly interrupted saying, "That's a Democratic talking point. That's a Democratic talking point" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Michael Shear, the New York Times's "Caucus" reporter, previewed in Monday's paper the expected political reaction to several big Supreme Court's decisions coming down the pike this week, including the biggest of all, Obama-Care, expected Thursday morning. One reaction that was all too predictable: Labeling disparity and a focus on "angry" conservatives (there were no references to liberals).
Aides to Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, are prepared to use the court’s rulings to their advantage, no matter how they turn out.
If the court strikes down the health care law, they will argue that Mr. Obama lost his biggest legacy. If the court upholds it, they will argue that Mr. Romney is the last hope for conservatives seeking to undo the law.
Given two chances, New York Times reporters Jonathan Weisman and Michael Shear couldn't identify the universal-health-care backers Families USA as liberal in their Friday piece on what happens after the Supreme Court's imminent ruling on the constitutionality of Obama-care: "Parties Plan Next Move Once Supreme Court Rules on Health Care." Yet they had no problem spotting conservatives on the other side.
New York Times reporter Michael Shear filed a "Political Memo" Thursday on the return of former Virginia Sen. George Allen, who lost in 2006 after the media and the Washington Post in particular harped on a daily basis after Allen referred to opponent's opposition research person as "macaca." Shear felt the need to kneecap Allen out of the starting gate by injecting all the old controversies and rumors of racism into the current news cycle for "A Comeback in Virginia, Shadowed by a Stumble."
While confessing Democrats and unions were dealt a "painful blow" Tuesday night as Republican Gov. Scott Walker handily beat Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in the Wisconsin recall election, Wednesday's lead story by Monica Davey and Jeff Zeleny opened with the liberal argument that Walker was to blame for undermining the "civility" of the state's progressive politics by engaging in his successful reform of public sector unions. (The online headline, "Walker Survives Wisconsin Recall Effort," is a slightly churlish acknowledgement of Walker's convincing win of 53%-46%.)
Gov. Scott Walker, whose decision to cut collective bargaining rights for most public workers set off a firestorm in a state usually known for its political civility, easily held on to his job on Tuesday, becoming the first governor in the country to survive a recall election and dealing a painful blow to Democrats and labor unions.
Political reporter Michael Shear uses a half-baked Times "expose" to accuse the GOP of using racial attacks by bringing up the legitimate issue of the anti-white, anti-American, paranoid ravings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for decades in Chicago, in Saturday's "Race and Religion Rear Their Heads."
Perhaps the uglier side of politics is always close to the surface.
President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, have said for months that the 2012 election will be about the economy. But on Thursday, it became -- at least for a brief moment -- about the always touchy issues of race and religion.
Friday's New York Times portrayed Obama supporter Hilary Rosen's gaffe on CNN Wednesday night, when she accused Mitt Romney's wife Ann of having "never worked a day in her life," as less of a Democratic fumble and more of a pox-on-both-their-houses moment for both presidential campaigns.
The story came at an awkward moment for the paper, which prominently played up Mitt Romney's alleged woes with women voters on Thursday's front page: "Romney Taking Steps to Narrow His Gender Gap." And the paper has constantly insisted that the issues of birth control access and abortion will kill the GOP in 2012.