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  • At Politico, only Dems are to blame

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In their article today, John Harris and Mike Allen report on how the volatile stock market often reacts negatively when politicians discuss public policy. But in the article, Politico reporters only point the finger at Dems for making traders nervous with recent Beltway comments, not Republicans, even though Republicans have been uniformly trash talking Obama's recovery plan.

    Write Harris and Allen:

    In the past, the main object of Washington public relations was to try to make news, grab a headline and maneuver for better position in the daily scramble for power and partisan advantage. Usually, no one was much affected beyond the jawboning politicians themselves. In the current financial crisis, the PR game is serious business.

    They go on to highlight Sen. Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer, claiming comments they made caused jitters on the Street, as well as recent pronouncement made by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and VP Joe Biden. Basically, the more Dems talk, the worse the Dow does, seemed to be the Politico's point.

    Politico then relied on at least one Republican source who backed up the article's claim that loose-lipped Dems were harming the economy and giving Wall Street fits.

    But what about Republican politicians in recent weeks? Has their collective drumbeat of criticism of the Obama recovery plan had no impact whatsoever on Wall Street, or the spread of despair about the economy? How can Republican politicians be making all kinds of doomsday claims about how Obama's plan to fix the economy will surely fail, yet Politico completely ignores that trend in an article looking at the connection between pols affecting the economy?

    It seems unlikely that only Democrats are causing the jitters.

  • Environmental groups, Media Matters team-up calling on WaPo ombudsman for George Will correction

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Today, Media Matters President Eric Burns joined Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, and Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder in issuing a letter (PDF) to Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander asking him to address several blatant falsehoods in George Will's February 15 column about global warming. The joint letter rebuts several falsehoods in Will's column.

    As Media Matters recently noted, Alexander reportedly responded to one of these claims with further distortions of the facts.

    Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post has more on the story:

    Pressure on the Washington Post over a controversial George Will column, entitled "Dark Green Doomsayers," has escalated from being the passion project of media watchdog groups to a core concern of environmental leaders. These figures have launched a coordinated campaign against the Washington Post, seeking a correction of the record.

    […]

    The basic thrust of the column in question, published on February 15, 2009, goes something like this: a long time ago, scientists thought that the planet was poised to undergo a calamitous period of "global cooling," and also some other scary stuff about armadillo migration and the price of copper, and all of this proves that as the scientific community is so prone to lapsing into trendy, chi-chi "doomsaying," there's no real need to heed any concerns about global warming.

    Basically, it's an attempt to zero the balance of Will's objections to environmental initiatives by asserting, "once upon a time, these higher minds thought precisely the opposite, so this is just some great comedy." In reality, the article only proves that if you multiply a germ of scientific inquiry with George Will, you get zero. Throughout his piece, Will misuses his cited sources, misrepresents their findings, and omits the essential conclusions they reached.

    In addition to the joint letter, the League of Conservation Voters blog notes:

    We do not expect Mr. Will to apologize for the failings of his column. We do hope that the Washington Post, one of America's great bastions of top-notch journalism, will publicly retract and correct inaccurate information that appeared in its pages.

    Despite several documented inaccuracies, Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander continues to stand by Mr. Will's column. That's why the folks over at Media Matters brought together the leaders of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and LCV: to try one more time to set the record straight.

    While Friends of the Earth encourages their members to take action and email the Post ombudsman:

    George Will's February 15 Washington Post column, "Dark Green Doomsayers," contained numerous factual errors that painted a highly misleading picture of scientific knowledge about global warming. This is not the first time the Washington Post has published demonstrably false statements written by propagandists who wish to deny climate science.

    Please use the form below to send a message to the ombudsman of the Washington Post – the paper's "internal critic" whose "job is to represent the interests of readers, hold The Post to high standards and explain its inner workings to an often-suspicious public" – to demand that the paper formally correct Will's column and stop publishing falsehoods.

    Does your local paper carry George Will's column? Have you contacted the Washington Post and asked that they correct Will's column?

  • Because for the Village, it's a "game"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Note the name of tonight's Anderson Cooper program at 10 pm, following Obama's address to Congress about the nation's ongoing economic crisis, which features cascading job losses, faltering banks, and a cratered housing market:

    For cablers, tonight's a game.

  • The WashPost finally profiles a liberal blogger

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Well, that only took seven years.

    Liberal bloggers have been causing a stir--and making news--since 2002, but from what I can tell based on previous research, today's Post feature is on Pam Spaulding and her influential site, Pam's House Blend, marks the first time the newspaper has devoted a feature-length, Style-section profile to an A-list liberal blogger.

    What's next for the fast-moving Post, a look at that new hit TV show American Idol?

  • Have you listened to the Media Matters Minute?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    For months now, radio shows and stations throughout the country have been carrying the Media Matters Minute, a daily minute-long recap of our work capped off with the "most outrageous comment" of the day. Here's the official description:

    Tired of right-wing smears and distortions against progressive leaders and issues in the media? Subscribe (iTunes / RSS) to this daily update from Media Matters for America, the nation's preeminent progressive media watchdog. Get the facts and fight back. Hosted by Media Matters' Ben Fishel.

    Air America Radio is now featuring the Minute every day on their homepage so be sure to check it out and don't forget to subscribe to the official Media Matters Minute podcast (iTunes | RSS).

  • NYT edited out debunking of false GOP claim

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Greg Sargent reports that the submitted draft of a New York Times article referencing the GOP's false claims that the stimulus bill included funding for marsh mice noted that the claims are misleading -- but an editor removed that description of the claims.

    Here's the original language, according to Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who wrote the article: "Republicans decry, often misleadingly, what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh mouse preservation." The final text omitted the words "often misleadingly."

    Sargent notes:

    Often such editing decisions are made in haste or to save space. But this was only two words, and it's worth recalling that the notion that there was millions in the bill to save the marsh mouse in Nancy Pelosi's district isn't just some garden variety talking point. It has been a major component of GOP push-back for weeks, repeated by high profile GOP officials in all sorts of settings.

    There's really no excuse for this editing decision by the Times. It means that someone at the New York Times thought it was important to tell readers that Republicans decry pork-barrel spending for marsh mouse preservation -- and that it was important to hide from readers the fact that the Republican complaints are false.

  • Rupert Murdoch walks away from right-wing bloggers

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And specifically the ones last week, like John Hinderaker at Power Line, who claimed there was absolutely nothing wrong with the cartoon Murdoch's New York Post published which seemed to associate Obama with a dead, bullet-riddled monkey.

    Hinderaker claimed Dems were just playing the race card. Murdoch today personally apologized for the cartoon, suggesting it never should have been published:

    Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

    We anxiously await Power Line's response.

  • Even more evidence beltway reporters are hopelessly out of touch

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Will Bunch, noting that reporters and pundits have been quick to claim that CNBC's Rick Santelli "sparked a populist backlash" with his recent rant about a proposal to assist homeowners, points out that polling suggests no such backlash exists.

    Bunch:

    If there are so many everyday people angry that the federal government wants to aid homeowners, let's hear from them! Yet none are quoted in the story, only a Beltway journalist babbling on the conservative, frequently Obama-bashing FNC. That's your populist revolt. You can't have a populist vote unless there's, you know, "people."

    Bunch then notes that an ABC/Washington Post poll just out finds that 64 percent of Americans support "the federal government using 75 billion dollars to provide refinancing assistance to homeowners to help them avoid foreclosure on their mortgages," while 35 percent oppose.

    Bunch concludes: "I don't think it's much of a populist revolt when it's backed by just 35 percent of the American people." But I think he's actually being generous to those peddling the "populist backlash" line: Only 23 percent strongly oppose the refinancing assistance.

    In any case, it's clear that despite the media's relentless hyping of Santelli as some sort of populist leader, the populace is politely but firmly declining to follow him.

  • They get letters (lots of letters)...about George Will

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Following widespread protest over George Will's climate-change-denial column, letters-to-the-editor have been popping up in newspapers all over the country. Will's column misused data and distorted statements made by climate experts in order to suggest that human-caused global warming is not occurring, so it isn't surprising to see so many people up in arms over this. Check out this sampling of letters:

    Lawrence Journal-World: Will off base (Letter, 2/19/09)

    [Will] puts together apparently irreconcilable statements from the mid-1970s and today, apparently in an effort to show that climate scientists don't know climate change from a hole in their hats. I suppose it didn't suit his political purposes to consult a few climate scientists. He says that climate change is No. 20 of 20 concerns according to a public poll. He is apparently Will-ing to have it remain there.

    The Advocate: Will erred about global warming (Letter, 2/21/09)

    Like many pundits, Will's belief in his own omniscience leads him to assume instant expertise on any topic. It also results in his repeatedly misleading the public on important issues such as global warming.

    The Advocate should employ a fact checker for the columns it runs, or share responsibility for their misrepresentations.

    Austin American-Statesman: Warming ignorance (Letter, 2/22/09)

    George Will showed ignorance and pulled out the tired straw man that those of us who care about stopping climate change are gloom-and-doomers when the opposite is true.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Look out your window, George (Letter, 2/22/09)

    I am concerned for the future of my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If there is even a small chance that what scientists and climatologists have been telling us for years is true, we owe it to our offspring to take this threat seriously and change our lifestyles. Ignoring this threat is like storing nuclear weapons in your garage. You may not expect them to be detonated, but how can you be sure?

    Pensacola News-Journal: Beyond the limit (Letter, 2/22/09)

    George Will's column on Feb. 15 ("Global warming issue may be melting") is breathtaking in its obstinate rejection of the science of climate change.

    What is melting is the arctic permafrost that could release a hundred million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this century. This and other "feedback loops," and how they are accelerating the pace of warming, was the subject of an article the same day as Will's column in his home newspaper, The Washington Post.

    [...]

    Will dismisses global warming as a "hypothetical" crisis overshadowed by the economic crisis. He is unable to accept increasing evidence of climate change, even as it piles up like logs in a blazing fireplace.

    Times of Trenton: Climate change leaves columnist cold (Letter, 2/22/09)

    I am so glad to hear from the eminent climatologist George Will (column, "The fine art of predicting catastrophes," Feb. 15) that the predictions of global climate change will all turn out to be wrong. His justification? The fact that the cooling trend of the mid-20th century didn't lead to an ice age, as some had predicted.

    If one climate prediction has been wrong, then they all will be, of course.

    That most of the other eminent climatologists understand that cooling is the result of another man-made influence, the increasing particulate pollution from industrialization, and that its end was the result of our efforts to decrease that pollution, is inconsequential. Obviously, all predictions of catastrophe are wrong; otherwise, how could we be here today?

    Chico Enterprise-Record: Of course the earth is changing (Letter, 2/23/09)

    There's a lot of imaginative computer modeling and fuzzy logic going on by the global warming supporters. In the same paper George Will ("Imagined calamity suddenly shrinks") discussed the impending "return to another ice age," which was a popular scientific "opinion" in the mid-1970s. Read that one too. A grain of salt is always indicated where "scientific opinion" is involved. Hopefully, the satellite just launched by Japan, and the one to be launched by us soon, will provide the facts to clarify that situation once and for all.

    I think a lot of the support for global warming comes from the "sustainability" folks who equate carbon dioxide increase with natural resource depletion, which could be a much more supportable position.

    Does your local paper carry George Will? Have you contacted the Washington Post and asked that they correct Will's column?