Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
Yep. "W.H. DOG ARRIVES IN SPRING"
Yep. "W.H. DOG ARRIVES IN SPRING"
Over at The Daily Beast, Max Blumenthal looks at Rush "number one voice of conservatism" Limbaugh, whom, you'll recall, was named an honorary member of Congress by House Republicans back in 1994 when they took control of both the House and Senate.
Blumenthal notes that, "Rush polls seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah 'God Damn America' Wright and eight points below former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers."
His entire piece is well worth the read.
ABC's Jake Tapper has posted on his blog the video of his Good Morning America segment this morning, asking readers what they think.
The segment runs less than two minutes, but Tapper managed to squeeze in two rather glaring flaws.
First, Tapper presents Republican Senator Jim DeMint as the voice of the "American people." Even worse, DeMint is shown criticizing Obama for ten seconds before he is identified; even then, the only indication that he is a Republican is a small "R" that appears next to his name for less than two seconds.
Next, Tapper snarks: "When you're pushing your big project, in this case the stimulus plan, Bipartisan means more than a cocktail party and a Super Bowl kegger. Republicans ... say Democrat leaders in Congress have not really tried to make the stimulus bill bipartisan." Then he showed Republican Senator Chuck Grassley claiming Republicans had been excluded from stimulus negotiations. Tapper omitted any other viewpoint, and he somehow forgot to mention the concessions Democrats have made to Republicans during the stimulus debate. Like, say, the AMT amendment agreed to by the Senate Finance Committee. Guess who introduced that amendment? Yep: Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.
As I explained in my column last week:
The Democrats -- who won landslide electoral victories in both 2006 and 2008 and whose policy positions enjoy broad public support -- offered a bill that included a mix of tax cuts and spending, that removed provisions the Republicans didn't like. The Republicans, having lost badly in the past two elections and enjoying about as much popularity as a kick in the head, offered a bill that consisted solely of their own priority, tax cuts.
And yet the Mark Halperins of the world blast Obama and the Democrats for not compromising enough. Absolutely incredible.
Incredibly, the Times scribe isn't the only one within the mainstream media comparing Bush reading a book to kids while 3,000 Americans died at the hands of terrorists, to Obama reading a book to kids while his HHS pick withdrew his name. (People, the situations are nearly identical.)
Blogger Bob Cesca notes that MSNBC's Contessa Brewer seemed to make the same Sept. 11/Daschle comparison.
From today's column
On 9/11, President Bush learned of disaster while reading "The Pet Goat" to grade-school kids. On Tuesday, President Obama escaped from disaster by reading "The Moon Over Star" to grade-school kids. "We were just tired of being in the White House," the two-week-old president, with Michelle at his side, explained to students at a public charter school near the White House.
See, just like Bush, who read a book to school children after being told by his chief of staff that a second plane had struck the World Trade Center and that America was under attack, Obama read books to kids after learning that his pick to head the HHS was dropping out.
From MoDo's perspective, the events are exactly the same. So glad Beltway pundits are able to put breaking news events into context. (More here.)
P.S. And here's MoDo on what Obama should have done to get more support for his stimulus bill:
Mr. Obama should have taken a red pencil to the $819 billion stimulus bill and slashed all the provisions that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending. As Senator Kit Bond, a Republican, put it, there were so many good targets that he felt "like a mosquito in a nudist colony."
In other words, Obama should have done whatever Republicans told him to do to his own legislation. Y'know, just like when Bush was president, and how he always rewrote his legislation based on Democratic input and concern.
P.P.S. Yes, MoDo spends the bottom one-third of the column blaming Obama for the way banks are spending money from the bailout crafted and passed by the previous Republican administration.
All in all, a priceless dumbing-down performance by MoDo today.
Obviously, the fact that three of Barack Obama's nominees have had tax trouble gives the Republicans and the media something of an opening to poke a little fun at Obama and the Democratic Party. But reporters should keep in mind that Republicans have had their share of tax troubles, too.
Countless reporters have quoted GOP Rep. Eric Cantor saying "It's easy for the other side to sit here and advocate higher taxes because - you know what? - they don't pay them." Others have made the same argument in their own voice.
Quoting Cantor is fine -- it's a good line. But news reports that simply quote Cantor or express a similar sentiment give the impression that tax troubles are a problem unique to prominent Democrats.
Not so. During last year's presidential campaign, it emerged that Cindy McCain hadn't bothered to pay taxes on one of her homes. Several other Republican candidates last year had tax troubles. Republican Party Strategist and Mascot Joe Wurzelbacher had a tax lien placed against him. Dick Morris -- who has criticized Tim Geithner's failure to pay taxes -- had a $1.5 million tax lien filed against him by the IRS, and the state of Connecticut said he owed more than $450,000 in unpaid taxes and penalities. There are presumably dozens of other examples.
Obviously, that doesn't mean the media shouldn't mention the tax troubles of Obama's nominees. Nor does it mean they shouldn't quote Republican criticisms. But when they quote Republicans suggesting unpaid taxes are a uniquely Democratic problem, they have an obligation to make clear that this is not true. And, certainly, they should avoid making that suggestion themselves.
From the second sentence [emphasis added]:
Two weeks into his presidency, Barack Obama proved that even a clearly gifted politician cannot escape the gravitational pull of Washington forces that have humbled many of his predecessors. The new president, seen by some as arrogant, was anything but on Tuesday.
Note that nowhere--nowhere--in the lengthy piece does the AP quote anybody, either on the record or off, who claims that Obama is arrogant. The only person who makes that claim is the AP's Charlie Babington, while hiding behind the cowardly "some say" cliche.
Let's just call this what it is. It ain't journalism and it ain't political analysis. It's casual character assassination, courtesy of the AP.
A footnote to my weekly column, where I stressed that the press, when covering the issue of bipartisanship, appears only interested in blaming Democrats, and Obama specifically, for the lack of legislative cooperation. And how the press has set up Republicans with perhaps the easiest short-term political victory on record. All the GOP has to do is oppose Obama on the stimulus package, and the Beltway media will proclaim Obama the loser. Because, apparently for the press, it's up to Obama, and Obama alone, to change the tone.
But here's the new USA Today/Gallup polling data on the topic.
Question: Since Obama was elected, has the overall tone and level of civility in Washington between Democrats and Republicans?
Result: Improved, 21%. Stayed the same 51%. Gotten worse, 23%
Question: Of those saying the tone has not improved, whom do they blame?
Result: Republicans, 41%. Democrats 30%. Both, 23%.
So, contrary to the media's current Obama narrative, more Americans blame Republicans for the fact that the tone in Washington has not improved with the arrival of the new administration.
The Times today suggests there's been an unusual number of journalists going to work for the Obama administration, which (yawn) raises questions about liberal bias:
But this year the accusation has a new twist: In some notable cases it has become true, with several prominent journalists now on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership.
Who are the prominent journalists? Well, the first example the Times references is MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who kinda, sorta thought about running for the U.S. senate from Pennsylvania. But is Matthews going to run? Apparently not. And even if he did run, and even if he won, would Matthews be "on the payrolls of Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership"? No.
So the first example the Times points to is pretty much irrelevant to the issue at hand: journalists joining the payrolls of Democrats.
The Times' third example [emphasis added]:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the leading candidate for surgeon general, is CNN's chief medical correspondent. His résumé as a practicing neurosurgeon — and one of People magazine's "sexiest men alive" in 2003 — is not that of a traditional journalist. But he reported on the health records of the presidential candidates last year, along with their health care proposals.
Has Gupta joined the Obama administration? No. Has he been asked to? No.
In total, the Times points to four journalists to back up its claim that "an unusual number of journalists from prominent, mainstream organizations started new government jobs in January." Of the four referenced, two--Matthews and Gupta--did not start new government jobs in January.