• Newsflash! The candidate who easily won the election received more "postive" news coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That would be Barack Obama. Although, amazingly, McCain, who lost by nearly 200 electoral votes, actually ran up better coverage at Fox News as compared to the landslide winner. That's the conclusion from a TV news study re: campaign coverage, released this week by Center for Media and Public Affairs.

    We're sure conservatives will use the study advance their claim that the media were in the tank for Obama. But honestly, the idea that McCain, who even some prominent Republicans conceded ran an awful campaign, would benefit from lots of "positive" coverage down the stretch seems absurd. CMPA wasn't doing studies back then, but does anybody think Jimmy Carter got great press during the run-up to his blow-out loss in 1980?

    Add in the fact that so much of today's so-called campaign coverage is really just race-horse chatter that revolves around which team is up and which team is down, of course the candidate that was waaaaay up got better press.

    The CMPA report announced:

    On the network newscasts, the Democratic ticket received 91% positive comments about their standing and prospects in the horse race, compared to only 31% positive comments about the Republicans - a margin of 60 percentage points.

    Can it get any more obvious? The candidate with the better standing in the polls got more "positive" coverage regarding "prospects in the horse race."

    That's why studies like this remain so suspect, especially when analyzing a campaign that was as lopsided as Obama-McCain.

  • Chris Matthews, Pennsylvania and the press

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Either the MSNBC host is going to run for the senate, or he and his agent are engaged in the most bizarre type of contract negotiations ever witnessed. (i.e. Give me a new contract or I'll run for the elected office!)

    If Matthews does decide to pack up his belongs (including his three Mercedes) and move to PA. (he'll still vacation on Nantucket, of course), we hope the press doesn't play dumb about the Hardball host. Sadly, in an article about how Matthews' public utterance and appearances on cable TV could haunt him in the political arena, The Hill already is. (The Hill actually suggests Matthews' ill-advised dancing on Ellen represents one of his biggest hurdles.)

    The Hill notes that Matthews has taken heat for his treatment of women politicians, and especially one particular Democratic woman, over the years. Here's how The Hill addressed the issue of Matthews and sexism, and where The Hill dutifully played dumb:

    And besides the made-for-TV moments, Matthews has given several noteworthy print interviews, including his participation in an 8,100-word New York Times magazine profile.

    The piece noted bloggers have accused Matthews of being sexist, pointing to a YouTube video of him ogling CNBC host Erin Burnett.

    Matthews vigorously defended himself to the Times, saying: "I don't think there's any evidence of that at all. I've gone back and looked. Give me the evidence. No one can give it to me. I went through all my stuff. I can't find it."

    This is pretty much the Beltway sanctioned CW on Matthews: If the Hardball host has a problem with women it's that he likes them too much and sometimes he leers at them, the way he did with Burnett. That may be the sanitized media script, but it's not the truth and I don't think it will stand up to the scrutiny of any campaign. The truth is Matthews is a misogynist and has advertised that fact for year, whether The Hill or the rest of the polite Beltway press wants to acknowledge that is another question.

    If Matthews runs for the senate as a Democrat, than we're pretty sure at some point he'll have to address his history of women-bashing as viewed through the lens of his relentlessly negative, personal and irrational attacks on Hillary Clinton, one of the most powerful Democrats in the country. The way he:

    -Featured a Photoshopped image of Clinton sporting "She Devil" horns while discussing Republican efforts to demonize her;

    -Repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," the scheming, heartless character from the mental hospital drama One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest;

    -Described her laugh as a "cackle," suggested she was "anti-male," "witchy," and was on a "short ... leash";

    -Reported that the only reason Hillary Clinton was elected to represent New York in the senate was because he husband "messed around";

    -Referred to Clinton as "Madame Defarge" and described male politicians who endorsed Clinton as "castratos in the eunuch chorus";

    -Suggested U.S. soldiers would not follows the orders of a woman president;

    -Compared Clinton to a "strip-teaser," wondered whether she was "a convincing mom," referred to Clinton's "cold eyes" and the "cold look" she supposedly gives people;

    -Claimed that "some men" say Clinton's voice sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard."

    We might not know as much about politics as The Hill, but we think that that library of TV utterances is going to be more problematic for Matthews, especially among female Democratic voters in PA., than his YouTube clip 'dancing' on Ellen.

  • Should Reuters even bother to poll financial "analysts"?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Number of jobs lost in November: 533,000

    Number of jobs lost in November as predicted by "analysts polled by Reuters": 340,000

    It's their job to predict job losses and analysts weren't even in the ballpark? Seems like the mainstream press, including Reuters, needs to expand its roster of trusted/acceptable sources as they cover the Great Recession. The media's beloved financial "analysts," the same CW crew that journalists have depended on for years, and who warned of a "mild recession," no longer seem to have a clue.

  • Maureen Dowd is a "stupendous reporter"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    So says her pal on the NYT Op-ed page, Gail Collins. No really. Plus this: "She [MoDo] works really, really, really hard, and she mines the territory that she's writing about with great skill and great effort."

    Like when the often painful-to-read MoDo wanted to take the temperature of race relations in the nation's capitol following Obama's election and she tried to engage her "cute black mailman" in small talk? Was that what Collins had in mind when she claimed her friend "works really, really, really hard"?

    Or when she invented a John Kerry quote during the 2004 campaign? Was that why Collins announced MoDo was a "stupendous reporter"?

    If Collins wants to defend Dowd from the common accusation that her column is a joke and a long-running embarrassment to the Times, than sure, that's what good friends do. But trying to suggest that the often fact-free, and certainly policy-free, Dowd is some sort of hard-working super sleuth, well that just spreads the embarrassment around.

  • Different press rules when covering lib Dems?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It appeared that way in when CongressDaily reported on whether Dem. Pete Stark should be the successor to Charlie Rangel on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. As Matt Stoller at OpenLeft highlighted, the article is built entirely around anonymous sources, including lots of lobbyists tossing darts at Stark:

    'Journalist' Peter Cohn puts together a wholly conventional ideological hit job on Democrat Pete Stark using nine anonymous quotes or statements attributed to 'sources'. Not one single person will go on the record to discuss why the seniority system shouldn't work in the case of Stark, not one policy idea is considered in the article vis-a-vis Stark or anyone else's record, and the reader learns nothing about the tax writing committee from it other than nine anonymous sources in Congress think something. Apparently, the amorphous business community will 'go nuclear', whatever that means, Stark is gaffe-prone, but neither the public, policy, or the shift leftward in Congress as evidenced by Waxman's recent committee victory in the Energy and Commerce tussle are even referenced.

    (h/t C&L)

  • Now ABC News plays dumb about Iraq revisionism

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As we've noted, the look-the-other way coverage has been rampant this week, as the media allow Bush and his former aides to make the wildly misleading claim that if they'd know Iraq had not WMD's--if the intel hadn't failed--than no, America wouldn't have invaded Iraq. Karl Rove says the administration would have worked to "contain" Saddam Hussein like in the 1990's.

    In other words, if it hadn't been for the WMD's, the White House would've done exactly what peace activists suggested in 2002 and early 2003. But darn it, everybody thought Saddam had WMD's. The press' response to that fanciful re-telling of history? Pretty much crickets. ABC News, which didn't even include a single sentence noting that revisionist look at history is false, is just one example.

    We suppose the kid gloves approach make sense. How else would you expect a lapdog press corps to deal with Bush's exit?

  • John Ziegler is projecting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    He's the former right-wing radio talker who claims the only reason Obama won the election is because the liberal media didn't tell the truth about the candidate's nasty background. Ziegler even posted a YouTube clip featuring interviews he did with Obama voters. Viewers are supposed to laugh at how ignorant the voters. It's sorta like Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" schtick, but with elections. (In his clip, Ziegler thinks it's a big deal that some Obama supporters didn't know who Congressional Dems Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were. Ziegler though, never bothered to poll random McCain voters to see if they could ID John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.)

    Now Ziegler even has polling data to back up his claim about how the media cost McCain the election! Too bad the pro's think it's a joke.

    Undeterred, Ziegler thinks is widely revealing that most Americans knew that the GOP spent $150,000 on Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe, which was a national story just weeks ago, yet most Americans didn't know the circumstances of Obama's first local election win 12 years ago. You can see where this is all going. Pretty much nowhere. But again, the point seems to be for Ziegler and conservative to laugh at Obama's voters and blame the press for Obama's win. And hey, it's a free country so go at it.

    I couldn't help chuckling though, while reading Ziegler's breathless introduction at his anti-Obama website [emphasis added]:

    On November 4th, 2008 millions of Americans were shocked that a man of Barack Obama's limited experience, extreme liberal positions and radical political alliances could be elected President of the United States.

    I'm pretty sure when Ziegler wrote "millions of Americans" he really meant "me and my right-wing friends."

    P.S. John, is it really necessary to refer to yourself in the third person on your blog? i.e. "John Ziegler has written what is sure to be a controversial..." It just seems creepy.

    UPDATE: In a posted comment here, Ziegler writes:

    Contrary to the garbage of lies above this post (the type of which are all too common from Media Matters), we DID do a poll of BOTH McCain and Obama voters and the results are extremely damming to numerous parties, especially the media and Obama voters. Check out the results at

    Of course, Ziegler's rebutting an allegation we never made. In our our post above we noted that in his YouTube video clip, Ziegler did not include interviews with McCain voters. We never made made that claim regarding his new polling data. So for those keeping score, our point stands and Ziegler's claim of "garbage" is, well, garbage.

  • Brian Williams can't escape the NBC military analyst controversy on his blog

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Media Matters' David Brock isn't the only one urging NBC execs to come clean regarding their role in the pressing Pentagon Pundit scandal.

    As Jim Romenesko noted, Williams' critics are using his blog to press him on why NBC is boycotting a story in which they are the central player.

    From Dayton Ohio:

    Hi Brian - I like you (really) and watch your show most evenings. But your failure, last night, to even acknowledge the prominent NYT article about NBC's relationship with Barry McCaffrey was cowardly and calls your credibility into serious question.

    From Los Angeles:

    I hope that this time you will address the serious, undisclosed conflicts of interest, as detailed on the New York Times front page about your military analyst Barry McCaffrey and his Defense Solutions. You are seriously harming your credibility by avoiding addressing this, and that of NBC News.

    And from Naples, Florida:

    Brian -after reading all of these comments, don't you feel any obligation or duty to speak of the General McCaffrey affair? Integrity is earned over a long period of time by being honest in actions and motives. If that ethical integrity is in any way compromised, it is difficult to repair the damage.

    Will Williams ever acknowledge his readers concerns? Or is his blog just a p.r. vehicle to drum up viewers?