Blog

  • NYT plays dumb about MSNBC/Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's in an article about soft ratings for CNN under the Obama administration. The Times contrasts that lack of success with MSNBC and Fox News, which the newspaper claims, have carved out winning formulas by being more partisan:

    The development raises an obvious question: With its rivals stoking prime time with high-octane political opinion and rant, can CNN compete effectively with a formula of news delivered more or less straight?

    See, both MSNBC and Fox News are airing rants during primetime. They're like left-right mirror reflections. They're just like each other.

    This is a common ploy adopted by the mainstream media in order to play dumb about the radical, unprecedented rhetoric that Fox News has been broadcasting since Obama's inauguration; that he's a radical, a socialist, a fascist. That tyranny looms and the government wants to confiscate all the guns.

    How on earth does anything that MSNBC has aired in the last three months come anywhere near matching that kind of militia media rhetoric broadcast by Fox News? It doesn't because we've never seen anything like what Fox News now peddles aired on American television before. But there's today's Times, casually claiming that MSNBC and Fox News are exactly alike.

  • Tucker's tax fraud

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Tucker Carlson, in a Washington Post online discussion today: "I don't think it's a choice between the tax current system, which isn't simply progressive but wildly skewed against the rich, and Mexican plutocracy. As of today, before Obama's tax increases on the upper income, the top one-percent of earners pay about as much in income taxes as the bottom 90 percent of earners. So next time you see a rich person, thank him for keeping the country afloat."

    Now, the Washington Post lets Carlson say pretty much anything he wants in these things, so he didn't have to support his claim that the current tax system is "wildly skewed against the rich," which is a good thing for him, because he can't*.

    According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the top one percent pay 30.9 percent of their income in federal, state, and local taxes. The remaining 99 percent pay 29.8 percent of their income in taxes. The top one percent actually pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than the next 20 percent.

    That doesn't sound like a system that "isn't simply progressive but wildly skewed against the rich," does it? In fact, it sounds more like a system that isn't progressive at all.

    * No, Carlson's statement that "the top one-percent of earners pay about as much in income taxes as the bottom 90 percent of earners" does not support his contention that the tax system is "wildly skewed against the rich," for several reasons. First, it considers only federal income taxes. More importantly, looking at the amount of taxes paid without looking at the amount of income earned is worse than useless; it is deliberately misleading. It's like going out to dinner with a friend and ordering the Surf & Turf, then lashing out at your friend who ordered only the house salad because she wants you to pay 90 percent of the bill. Whenever anyone tells you the richest X percent of Americans pay Y percent of taxes, stop taking them seriously right there: they're trying to trick you.

  • In Examiner.com article on swine flu and immigration, Frosty Wooldridge states, "Third world people lack personal hygiene"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Swine flu: immigration, death, disease and consequences

    "Infectious diseases are now spreading geographically much faster than at any time in history. Human immigration and unlimited transport cause it."

    World Health Organization

    The current Swine flu spreading across Mexico provides Americans a glimpse of their future if mass immigration from third world countries continues into the United States.

    It stems from cultural habits that cannot be changed once they migrate over U.S. borders. Third world people lack personal hygiene, collective health habits and educational understandings of how their personal actions promote disease transmission.

    If you travel into the third world such as Mexico, Central and South America, you will notice that while visiting a bathroom you discover a box for used toilet paper in the corner and no soap or paper towels at the lavatory.

    The sewage systems cannot handle toilet paper so it is a habit to throw it into the box provided which lures flies and cockroaches. Additionally, few third world people wash their hands after bathroom use. Today, in California, Florida and Illinois, and spreading to other states across the nation, recent arrivals are so accustomed to throwing their used toilet paper into boxes, they discard it into trashcans. Whether they work at the counter or chop tomatoes with unwashed hands, thousands carry head lice, leprosy, tuberculosis and hepatitis A, B, and C.

    Previously:

    CBS contributor Dobbs defends false leprosy claim after confrontation by CBS' Stahl

    O'Reilly agreed with caller who labeled immigrants "biological weapon[s]"

  • AP mocks Al Gore's lack of ignorance

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman, on Al Gore's appearance before a House committee considering global warming legislation:

    "I have read all 648 pages of this bill," Gore bragged, a boast that would surprise no one who caught his teacher's-pet performance in the 2000 presidential race. "It took me two transcontinental flights on United Airlines to finish it."

    The schoolhouse metaphor is appropriate, if not for the reason Kellman thinks. There are perhaps only two groups of people who view knowledge as a flaw, and ignorance as an asset: Seventh-graders, and the Washington press corps.

    For years leading up to the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore committed the sins of taking policy seriously, and of knowing what he was talking about. As punishment for those sins, reporters like Kellman mocked him as a "teacher's-pet" and a dull, lifeless buffoon. They propped up a dim-witted Texan (by way of Greenwich Country Day, Andover, Harvard, and Yale) who had run business after business into the ground, and skipped out on the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam by virtue of his father's accomplishments. On the other hand, he called reporters "Stretch," and they loved him for it. And so George W. Bush became president.

    Given what happened over the following eight years, you would think the media would have enough of a guilty conscience that they would avoid treating Al Gore with precisely the same petty, stupid middle-school-cafeteria derision that led to thousands of deaths in an unnecessary war, torture, warrantless surveillance, a stunningly incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, and a Vice President whose shooting of a friend in the face doesn't even rank among his top fifty most offensive actions.

    But no: Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman is still pointing and laughing at Al Gore, because he bothered to read legislation that deals with his life's work before testifying about it. What a nerd.

    Oh, by the way: Gore wasn't bragging. He was answering a direct question.

  • MSNBC treats torture investigation as political game

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell and Reuters' Jon Decker just had an exchange that illustrates the media's troubling tendency to view potential investigations into illegal torture as a political matter:

    Norah O'Donnell: "John, if you open this book, and you start editing this book, and going through it page by page, then what about the Democrats in Congress, some that may have had briefings on these very types of harsh interrogation tactics?

    Jon Decker: That's a really good point, Norah. There is concern that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, during course of the briefings she got on these harsh interrogation tactics, essentially gave tacit approval to them. And there may be some other senior Democratic leaders that were privy to these discussions given to them, by senior military and intelligence officials, that may be caught up in these memos as well. So I think that is something that Democrats need to be concerned about and also think about before they move forward with this call for a truth commission.

    O'Donnell and Decker could have treated the possibility that Democratic leaders in Congress were aware of torture* as all the more reason to get to the bottom of who knew and approved of what, and when. Instead, they used the possibility to warn Democrats against pursuing the question further. That's how you would expect to see Cheney loyalists behave - but it's odd to see journalists issuing a political warning to Democrats, and to suggest that political considerations rather than finding the truth should drive officials' actions.

    * Note also that O'Donnell and Decker kept calling it "harsh interrogation."

  • The Red Scare Index: 38

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for last Friday, April 24, 2009:

    TOTAL: 38
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 25
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 6
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 7

    By Network:

    CNN: 13
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    CNN Headline News: 0
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    Fox Business Network: 4
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    MSNBC: 13
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    CNBC: 1
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.

  • Peggy Noonan peddles Drudge nonsense

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And she's the Journal's premiere political columnist? Oy.

    Here's Peggy's lede from the weekend [Emphasis added]:

    What makes it hard at the moment to write sympathetically of Barack Obama is the loud chorus of approbation arising from his supporters in journalism as they mark the hundred days. Drudge calls it the "Best President Ever" campaign.

    First, are you chuckling at the thought that the hyper-partisan Noonan, who turned endless Clinton-hating into something of a cottage industry for herself, and who during the 2008 campaign announced that Obama was not normal, really wanted to write sympathetically about Obama? She did, honest.

    But she just couldn't because those darn Obama supporters are acting so cultish again. To prove that point, Noonan quoted Drudge. (Talk about a recipe for a journalism disaster.) Noonan quoted Drudge claim that Obama supporters last week announced the new president was the best ever. Get it? It's loony to suggest somebody's who hasn't even been in the Oval Office 100 days is the best ever. It's insane. That's how delusional Obama fans are, Peggy assured us. And that's why Peggy couldn't write anything nice about him, even though she really, really wanted to. (Right after she posts that item about a bridge for sale on Craigslist, right?)

    Here's the thing. Peggy's either very lazy or very dishonest. Take your pick. She's lazy if she quoted Drudge without taking three minutes to read the article he linked to for the "Best President Ever" quote. Or she's dishonest because she did read the article and ignored the fact there was nothing in it to even remotely support the spin Drudge put on it. He just made it up.

    We undressed this nonsense last week. But apparently, Peggy Noonan, high-profile columnist for the Wall Street Journal, didn't care that Drudge had completely concocted the "Best President Ever" nonsense. Either that, or Peggy did realize Drudge concocted it and knowingly did her best to spread the smear.

    Which was it Peggy?

    UPDATE: The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes also signs off on the fictitious "Greatest" meme. (Barnes earns extra GOP credit, no doubt, for working in a Muslim reference as well.)

  • Would somebody please explain "cause and effect" to David Broder?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Here's David Broder:

    If ever there were a time for President Obama to trust his instincts and stick to his guns, that time is now, when he is being pressured to change his mind about closing the books on the "torture" policies of the past.

    ...

    Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps -- or, at least, careers and reputations.

    Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance.

    And more David Broder:

    Gaithersburg, Md.: Settling Scores: I actually don't see it so much as settling scores as a warning to the future. Perhaps if there was a deterrent in place, we would not have the situation where some politicians feel above the law. Just because Nixon said it's legal if the president does it, it must be true. I think that while the pardoning of Nixon helped in the short-run, it caused irreparable harm in the long-term.

    Thanks

    David S. Broder: Yours is a perfectly legitimate point of view. But I have become convinced that there is not much learning that takes place from one administration to the next; otherwise, we would not have repeated scandals and coverups in Washington. So I think we're better off putting our focus on the policies (and people) a new president is putting into place.

    Maybe someone could create some sort of diagram or flow chart for Broder, showing the connection between his preference that executive lawbreaking go unpunished with his complaints that administrations don't learn from the scandals of their predecessors? Here, I'll take a first stab at it:

    Administrations do learn from their predecessors. They learn from the fact that Nixon was pardoned. And they learn from the fact that Reagan and Bush (and those they pardoned) got away without punishment for Iran-Contra. And if the Bush administration officials who ordered torture and illegal wiretaps don't face punishment, future administrations will certainly will learn from that.

    The question is not whether administrations learn from their predecessors - it is whether the lessons they learn are the ones we want them to learn.

    David Broder is teaching a pretty clear lesson - that presidential administrations can do pretty much whatever the hell they want*, and the DC Establishment will close ranks behind them. And then he's complaining that presidential administrations do pretty much whatever the hell they want.

    * As long as they don't lie about sex.

    UPDATE: It's worth keeping in mind that Broder wasn't exactly chomping at the bit for investigations of administration wrongdoing while Bush was in office, either. In 2006, Broder wrote that Bush "has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution." But Broder didn't call for resignation or impeachment of the president he described as "lawless," or even call for investigations. So Broder didn't back investigations during Bush's presidency, and now he says we can't investigate the administration once it has left office. And he wonders why we have "repeated scandals and coverups in Washington."