• And so it begins

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    First small, and soon mid-sized, American cities begin to lose their daily newspapers. First up, New Britain and Bristol, Ct. It's a void that will not be filled, as the Hartford Courant notes:

    What's harder to quantify is the loss to the communities that rely on the newspapers to report births, deaths, local government news, local sports and snippets of daily life. No one appears ready to fill the void. The Courant, the state's largest newspaper, sharply cut its local news reporting staff in July.

    The stock for the Journal Register Company, which owns the two faltering Connecticut dailies, is currently trading for 1 cent.

    Meanwhile, conservative press critics, who don't want to improve journalism, they want to eliminate it, snicker as they watch the demise of newspapers.

  • Roger Ailes misremembers the past

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Interesting behind-the-scenes article in Broadcasting & Cable from the Fox News set on Election Night. ("It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one—for America and Fox News.")

    The misremembering comes from FNC's Roger Ailes, when asked about how the Obama administration might affect Fox News' ratings:

    "I remember when Bill Clinton took over and within a very short time he had to get rid of a couple of appointees," he says, referring to Zoë Baird and Lani Guinier. "And then he got into gays in the military, and suddenly issues became critical and our ratings started to climb back up. I expect a dip over the next couple of months and then a big return to our numbers in late January, early February."

    Slight problem, Fox News wasn't even on the air "when Bill Clinton took over" in early 1993. Fox News debuted in 1996.

  • Why can't the press quit the Clintons, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton recently spoke on the phone, with Obama in search of advice from a White House pro on how to protect her children from the media spotlight. Clinton reportedly was generous with her time and advice.

    If you don't think that's a news hook for more endless speculation about what the Clintons really think, than you're not cut out to be a modern day Beltway reporter.

    Because of course the the D.C. press corps would use that phone call to fire up its incessant Clinton drama engine, the way Politico did, comically insisting the innocuous Cilnton-Obama chat represented, "the latest phase in the ruling-class soap opera that is the Obama-Clinton alliance."

    As one Politico commenter counseled, "Ah, just like Politico to keep stirring up old ****! Give it a rest already!"

  • Still searching for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Republican-friendly Maegan Carberry and Elizabeth Blackney urge conservatives to join the online revolution, which seems to be passing them by.

    They write at HuffPost:

    When will the new media market evolve to become the more balanced forum of news and analysis that Americans clearly crave? Or let's be more frank: When will the Republicans stop jabbering on talk radio and join the blogosphere to diversify the talking points and conversation?

    Good question.

  • Worst Headline of The Day

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Goes to the WSJ's "New Administration Would Risk Backlash With Gas-Drilling Reversal."

    It's about the possible political drawbacks the Obama administration would face for taking quick action to reverse the current White House's decision to expand natural-gas drilling in Utah. That's all well and good in terms of a legit news story.

    But the Journal never points to any proof (i.e. polling data) to substantiate the claim that Obama would face a "backlash" if he halted the drilling. The closest the article comes is here:

    John P. Burke, a professor at the University of Vermont who wrote a book on presidential transitions, said the incoming administration risks a partisan backlash if it clamps down too hard on drilling -- especially coming off a campaign in which a potent Republican rallying cry was "Drill, baby, drill!"

    So basically, hardcore Republicans might be upset with the gas-drilling reversal. But we're pretty sure partisan Republicans are going to be upset by all sorts of initiatives taken by the Obama team.

    To us, that hardly constitutes a "backlash."

  • CBS: Warren Rudman wouldn't "mollify" the right during Memogate investigation

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Looking through some of the legal documents in connection to the ongoing between Dan Rather and CBS regarding his dismissal from the network following the Memogate controversy in 2004, it's becoming increasingly clear just how spooked the network was by right-wing attacks CBS. And how CBS suits bent over backwards to placate them.

    We noted earlier that in an effort to pacify conservatives who were howling about CBS' liberal bias, the network, when putting together its "independent" panel to investigate memo reporting, drew up a list of possible members that included Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh.

    Looking at the documents ourselves, we now see that even when discussing more serious candidates for the panel, insiders at CBS were preoccupied with selecting somebody to run the "independent" panel who conservatives would embrace.

    One finalist was former GOP senator Warren Rudman. According to an internal CBS memo, he received high marks: "Mentioned by several GOP folks who feel he is above reproach and he would be his own man."

    Did you notice how it seems obvious that CBS execs were out taking the temperature of "GOP folks" before they appointed the point person to their "independent" panel? Note that there's no evidence from the assembled memos that CBS reached out to any Democratic "folks" to get their input.

    Despite those high mark for Rudman though, reservations persisted. From the memo: "Was not sure Rudman would mollify the right."

    And with that, Rudman was not selected.

    Anyone else having increased doubts about the conclusions reached by CBS's "independent" panel?

    FYI, GOP attorney Dick Thornburgh, who enjoys close ties to the Bush family, was ultimately selected to investigate CBS's reporting on George W. Bush's national guard service. Thornburgh's law firm billed CBS $594,000 for its work on the "independent" panel.

  • Bill Kristol, the failed NYT experiment, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    CJR looks at the damage being done to journalism by allowing political operatives, who often display a casual regard for facts, to portray themselves as journalists. At the top of the list is the Times' Kristol.

    CJR notes:

    Nicholas Kristof and William Kristol both write regular columns about politics and policy for the New York Times op-ed page. But one is a journalist (Kristof) and the other is a political operative who last summer was listed by a Council on Foreign Relations report as an informal part of John McCain's foreign-policy brain trust (Kristol). The latter, writing once a week since January, has had five published corrections for errors of fact in his column; the former, writing twice a week in that same period has had no published corrections.

  • More on the Drudge collapse

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Slate's Jack Shafer takes up the topic and pushes back, suggesting The Drudge Report's influence is not on the wane. Slate's evidence seems awfully thin, though.

    Drudge endures, while imitators and newly minted Web stars fade, for a variety of reasons. He works incredibly hard. He cares about his site. He appears to have no interest in working for somebody else, and his entrepreneurial vigor makes the site come alive.

    Our original point about Drudge still stands: Instead of driving the news during the general election, he was an irrelevant bystander. If anybody thinks that's where Drudge wants to be and that he's happy just posting headlines that have no impact on American politics, than they're probably misreading him.

  • Now Brit Hume makes stuff up

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's all part of the GOP spin regarding WaPo ombudsman's Sunday column and how she somehow confirmed the press has gone easy on Obama and was too tough on McCain. Hume claims the ombudsman "acknowledged the bias."

    As we noted a couple times already, the "tilt" that the ombudsman referenced in her column about campaign coverage was that the Post, during the general election, printed slightly more Obama-centric articles than McCain-centric ones. And that the Post ran slightly more Obama photos than McCain photos. The WaPo made no evaluation about whether those stories and photos were "bias." (i.e. pro or con.) The paper simply added up the raw numbers.

    But Republicans took that and ran with the (misleading) idea that because the Post published more Obama stories that meant it was bias in his favor.

    Read that again. According to right-wing press critics, the fact that the Post and other press outlets produced more Obama coverage meant they really, really liked him. The GOP has been very clear in that the sheer quantity of the Obama campaign stories was confirmation that the press liked Obama because the press ignored McCain.

    Ok, now apply that to the amount of coverage to the vice presidential candidates received because every independent study has shown that the press practically drowned Sarah Palin in press coverage while ignoring Joe Biden. For most of the general election, "Biden was practically an afterthought, struggling to generate headlines and attention," concluded the Pew Research Center.

    So according to conservative press critics' logic, it's obvious that the press, which couldn't stop writing about Palin, showed "bias" in favor of the Alaska governor, right? But for some reason, that's not the conclusion Hume came to.