Responding to the firestorm caused by his racially charged criticisms of President Obama, Fox host Eric Bolling has insisted that he is "[definitely] not a racist." But experts on race and culture tell Media Matters that Bolling's rhetoric consists of "very old racist imagery" and appears to "purposefully" invoke demeaning and harmful racial stereotypes.
Last month, Bolling posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts that Obama was "chugging 40's in IRE while tornadoes ravage MO." He repeated the line on Fox Business' Follow the Money later that night, and then -- after being criticized -- tried to amend his attack by saying that he "took some heat for saying Obama should have delayed his bar crawl, or whatever he's doing over there."
This past Friday, during Follow the Money, he teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
While introducing the segment itself, Bolling stated: "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy? A month after the White House hosted the rapper Common, who glorifies violence on cops, the president opened his doors to one of Africa's most evil dictators. Here's Ali Bongo, the Gabonese president, who's been accused of human rights violations and plundering billions of his country's dollars."
James Unnever, professor of criminology at the University of South Florida and co-author of A Theory of African-American Offending: Race, Racism and Crime (Routledge 2011), said such comments seek to demean Obama because of his skin color.
"It is using language that is demeaning to African-Americans and characterizes all African-Americans as having or sharing the same slangs, as if Obama would use those kinds of slang words," he said. "The use of the slang words that this person used essentially are code words for typifying African-Americans as being, if you wish, ghetto residents. Buried within that is the implication of associating blacks with crime and crime with blacks."
John Durst, associate professor of sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University, is overseeing a study on race in Columbus, Ohio. He stated in an e-mail after reviewing the comments:
These are all terms more commonly used in poor African-American communities. While not exclusively found in African-American communities, used in such a context for the President of the United States by a national media organization (conservative or not) is clearly painting a picture of Obama as a BLACK MALE who has not made it beyond the ghetto and can be portrayed in such light.
A Newspaper Guild official representing Washington Post employees expressed concern today about the paper potentially moving away from using professional journalists.
Fredrick Kunkle, co-chair of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild and a Post reporter, spoke in response to the Post asking readers to help review the 24,000 Sarah Palin e-mails being released today.
He said the union did not specifically object to the Post asking readers to look through e-mails. But he said it raises a larger issue about how much the paper plans to use inexperienced journalists and non-journalists in the future.
"We are more concerned about sort of a long-term shift to a different model of covering the news, the region, and those things," Kunkle said Friday. "In that sense, we are concerned where the Post is contemplating a model where they eliminate more professional journalist positions in favor of a model like the Patch or Huffington Post, where essentially we turn over coverage of some areas of the news to unpaid or underpaid bloggers, community journalists, people with very little experience in order to save money but to continue to create content. That bothers us or worries us."
The Post and The New York Times raised interest on Thursday when they asked readers for help in reviewing the Palin e-mails being released by the State of Alaska today.
While the Times had asked readers to review the emails online and send in their thoughts, the Post had originally asked for 100 "organized and diligent" volunteers to go through the emails and highlight those they found of interest.
The Post's original offer online stated, in part:
We are looking for 100 organized and diligent readers who will work alongside Post reporters to analyze, contextualize, and research the e-mails. Think of it as spending some time in our newsroom.
But a few hours after the initial request, Post Spokesperson Kris Coratti told Media Matters in an e-mail that the plan had changed:
We've reconsidered and revised our approach and are now inviting everyone to send us their comments. We will cull the responses and post selected comments in annotations of the e-mails.
Among the insights found in tonight's Bloomberg Television presentation of "Game Changers," which profiles the billionaire Koch Brothers, is Bloomberg Washington, D.C. Executive Editor Al Hunt's views that Charles and David Koch are very influential, not forthcoming, and "more active than ever." According to Hunt, the Kochs' "philosophical, personal and political agenda" often overlaps with the "corporate agenda" of their "far-flung energy empire."
A sneak preview of highlights from the Bloomberg program, set for 9 p.m. EDT, includes Hunt stating:
"The left will argue that anything bad that happens you can attribute to the Koch Brothers and sometimes from the left's perspective, they may be right. They are very influential."
"We've never had anyone who's given to political campaigns and causes the way they have that are as wealthy as the Koch brothers are. They're worth by some estimates 30 billion plus. That puts them behind only Warren Buffet and Bill Gates in America. People like George Soros look like a piker compared to them."
"It's sometimes hard to distinguish between what their philosophical, personal and political agenda is and what their corporate agenda is. They often times overlap. They have spent a lot of money to promote anti-government, free enterprise, anti-regulation, lower taxes. That all benefits both their far-flung energy empire and themselves personally."
"The Koch brothers aren't very forthcoming. They don't do media interviews. They aren't available to call up on the phone and ask about charges, at least Charles Koch tends to be very, very private."
"Citizens United has had a huge impact, it's opened the floodgates.... The anecdotal evidence is that the Koch's are more active than ever post Citizens United because they can come in totally under the radar screen."
Bloomberg promotes the program by describing the Koch Brothers this way:
Using their immense wealth to shake up the game of politics, they've spent millions to found and fund think tanks and PACs. Along the way, they've laid the groundwork for the rise of the Tea Party, ensuring that American politics will never be the same.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller says one of his biggest mistakes as editor was not addressing the paper's misleading pre-Iraq War coverage sooner, including the reporting of former Times writer Judy Miller.
Keller tells Media Matters that he is "not at all" surprised that Miller ended up at the "conservative" Fox News Channel after she left the Times under a cloud of controversy related to her Iraq reporting.
Keller, who announced Thursday that in September he will leave the post he has held since July 2003, said: "Judy was the author of a lot of those stories, and I should have dealt with the stories and with her I think as the sort of first order of business when I took the job rather than waiting until the following year."
Keller was referring to the unusual editor's note the Times published on May 26, 2004, in which it admitted many of its pre-war stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- a number of which were reported by Miller -- misrepresented the situation before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
"The whole Judy Miller WMD experience was ... one of the low points of the last eight years," Keller said.
Keller, who took over as editor in 2003, did so in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal that forced the departure of former executive editor Howell Raines and former managing editor Gerald Boyd. It also prompted the Times to institute new safeguards for accuracy and plagiarism.
Keller said he did not want to add to the post-Blair scandal atmosphere by correcting the WMD reporting that soon. But says he should have.
"When I came in, I thought I sort of hate this business of, you come in and you immediately start pointing a finger of blame at your predecessor.
"I covered the Soviet Union and that is what Soviet leaders would always do. They sort of come in and they establish their bona fides by trashing their predecessor. [It was] partly that and it was also I wanted to kind of strike a positive tone in the early days.
"People, I thought, did not need another scandal and so I let it fester for a year. ...What I should have done when I came in was ... write that mea culpa and explain to readers, 'You know, look, we wrote some bad stories in the run-up to the war. I don't think it was out of any malice, I think it was we kind of fell for the conventional wisdom. But, you know, and we've learned from it.' Instead, I let a year go by when a lot of people, particularly people on the left, became disenchanted with the Times because they saw it as having been cheerleaders for the war."
The Star-Ledger's scoop that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey used a state police helicopter to visit his son's baseball game earlier this week may just be the beginning of increased scrutiny of the Republican governor and would-be presidential candidate.
The newspaper plans to launch its own version of Politifact on June 12, according to Editor Kevin Whitmer. Although the paper announced last month it would join the string of state-level, fact-checking sites linked to the St. Petersburg Times, the actual date had not been revealed.
With speculation growing that Christie could jump into the weak GOP presidential field -- including among those who cover him in Trenton -- the timing of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site coming to the Garden State couldn't be better.
"If we know anything about Politifact, it is that it will make everyone in the public eye accountable for their words and actions," Whitmer said when asked about the impact on Christie coverage. "In short time, it will improve the public dialogue."
Jerome Corsi doesn't seem upset by the release of President Barack Obama's "long-form" birth certificate, a development that seems to conclusively debunk the premise -- and title -- of his book, Where's the Birth Certificate?.
In fact, he somehow considers it a plus.
"I was pleased to see that now Obama is engaged and that he is committed to this as his birth certificate," Corsi told Media Matters in a phone interview Wednesday. "It's caused no reason for changing the title because we are still asking, 'Where's the birth certificate?'"
He speculates that the pending publication of the book, which hit book stores Tuesday, likely led the White House to release the long-form document last month.
"Certainly the timing of it would suggest that the White House was trying to counter or in some way deal with the book in advance, but I don't have any inside information on it. It's purely speculation on my part," he said.
And Corsi isn't ready to concede.
"I think the birth certificate released by the White House is a fraudulent document," he insists.
According to Corsi, "I think the consensus was we are still asking the question, 'Where's the birth certificate?' Quite frankly, I wanted it titled 'Where's the Birth Certificate?' because I wanted to see if we might cause the White House to blink. Prior to this, President Obama was trying to stay at 35,000 feet in this issue. Now he's personally involved. And now the future of the Obama administration depends upon the authenticity of this document."
Asked what it would take to convince him that Obama was born in the United States and is eligible to be president, Corsi raised two requirements "for starters": An independent forensic examination of the "original" long-form birth certificate and the release of patient records proving that Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, gave birth at Honolulu's Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital.
"I was very surprised the White House, when they released this birth certificate, did not submit the original document, the original paper document to independent forensic testing," he said, later adding, "Secondly ... now that President Obama has identified Kapiolani Hospital, why can't we see the patient records for Ann Dunham as independent corroboration that that was the birth hospital?"
But asked if those two requirements would be enough to satisfy him, Corsi suggested there might still be room to move the goal posts:
"Well, let's just get those two things and we'll go from there. I don't know. I mean, it depends. I don't have a list of requirements. [I am] wanting to get to the truth."
Several Washington Post staffers, including a well-respected Pulitzer Prize-winner, are speaking out in support of a union request for the same 16.4% raise that Publisher Katharine Weymouth recently received.
Media Matters reported Friday that the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, which represents more than 900 Post staffers, requested the salary hike last week.
Post officials responded to the guild's request with a statement that avoided discussion of salary, but noted that the paper's circulation and print advertising revenue had fallen throughout Weymouth's tenure that began in 2008.
"Whatever the merits of Katharine's raise, people in the newsroom are working harder than ever before to make sure the Post survives," said Dana Priest, a two-time Pulitzer winner who has spent 23 years at the paper. "It is uncomfortable for people to read about [Weymouth's raise] because they have not been getting raises."
Guild leaders confirmed that many Guild members have gone up to three years without raises. Post officials declined to comment on staff pay, offering only a copy of the bulletin they issued last week, which stated:
While we know many Guild-covered employees are interested in the parties' wage proposals, we told the Guild that The Post was not prepared to make a wage proposal during the opening bargaining session, but would do so as negotiations progress.
We explained to the Guild that we need time to analyze the Guild's proposals in light of the business challenges facing the paper, to consider how realistically the Guild responds to The Post's key proposals, and to see what type of progress we can make on other economic and non-economic items before putting a wage proposal on the table.
We certainly have work to do in order to reach a new agreement. Today the Guild made many economic proposals that are unrealistic in today's business climate.
Fred Kunkle, an 11-year staff writer and co-chair of the Post Guild local, said the union understands the paper's financial problems. But he said it does not accept such an imbalance in salary increases.
"It is obviously unfair," he said of Weymouth's raise. "We appreciate very much that the Post is facing a difficult economic climate. But why should everybody in the rank-and-file, everyone in the newsroom, suffer for it and bear all of the hardship for it? We are willing to work with management and find a way to move the newspaper into the 21st Century. It can't be by us alone giving all of the sacrifices."
Union leaders representing newsroom and other employees at The Washington Post want the same 16.4% pay raise that Publisher Katharine Weymouth received this year, according to a message to rank-and-file members that also criticized management contract demands regarding holidays and salary issues.
The salary request occurred during this week's first round of contract negotiations. The Guild's current contract with the Post expires on June 7, 2011.
In a bulletin to members issued late Thursday, the Washington Baltimore Newspaper Guild Local 32035 declared: "After at least three years of doing much more with less, the Guild is asking for a 16.4 percent across-the-board pay increase -- exactly the amount given to the Post's publisher this year."
A March SEC filing by the Post revealed the 16.4% pay hike for Weymouth, who has been publisher since 2008. It also stated that Weymouth received a substantial performance bonus last year:
In 2010, Ms. Weymouth was paid $537,000 in base salary and received a bonus of $483,750 based on the achievement of pre-established 2010 performance goals. In addition, Ms. Weymouth received $1,053,441 based on achieving pre-established goals under the WP Media Three-Year Long-Term Incentive Plan and a payment of $72,000 for her 2,400 vested Performance Units in the 2007-2010 Award Cycle.. Effective April 1, 2011, Ms. Weymouth's base salary will increase to $625,000.
Interestingly, the Post's own bargaining bulletin, also issued this week, reveals that the paper lost revenue, circulation, and advertising income while under Weymouth's watch:
The Newspaper Publishing Division (of which The Post is the major part) reported significant operating losses in 2008 and 2009, and a smaller operating loss in 2010 (due in part to several one-time charges), and The Post continues to experience declines in circulation and print advertising revenue. In 2010, for example, The Post's Sunday and Daily circulation fell 8.2% and 7.5%, respectively.
Print advertising revenue at The Post also continued to drop, falling 6% last year on top of prior years' declines; as the following chart demonstrates (using information from Washington Post Company earnings reports), Post print advertising revenues in 2010 were 50% lower than in 2005, when The Post and the Guild last held on-the-record contract negotiations.
The Associated Press issued an advisory late Wednesday that it will not cover tonight's Fox News Republican debate in South Carolina.
The advisory, below, cites media restrictions that "violate basic demands of newsgathering."
GOP Debate, Coverage Advisory
This is to inform you that The Associated Press is not planning to cover Thursday night's Republican presidential candidate debate in South Carolina because of restrictions placed on media access. The debate sponsors, Fox News Channel and the South Carolina Republican Party, will only allow photos to be taken in the moments ahead of the debate and not during the event itself.
These are restrictions that violate basic demands of newsgathering and differ from other debates where more access was granted. Accordingly, the AP will not staff the event in any format nor will the AP disseminate any pool photos taken by another outlet. This is consistent with longstanding policy exercised in coverage of many events.
Should access conditions change, the AP will reassess this decision and expedite a new coverage advisory if warranted.
Sarah Palin defended Fox News' practice of giving airtime to "birthers," telling Media Matters in a recent video exchange: "I love that everybody has the right to voice their opinions in America. Fox embraces it, I love it."
Fox has a history of giving birther believers airtime, even with continued proof that they have no basis in their claims. Following last week's release of Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate, for example, Fox Business host Eric Bolling drew attention April 27 for raising bizarre theories about whether the birth certificate was "Photoshopped."
I caught up with Palin outside a fundraising brunch Saturday morning in Washington, D.C., held as part of the White House Correspondents' Association dinner that night.
When asked what she thought of Fox having birthers on, she answered: "Oh I love that everybody has the right to voice their opinions in America. Fox embraces it, I love it."
When I asked her, "What is your belief on the birther issue? Do you think it should be put away now?" she declined to answer.