Blog

  • Politico, incapable of spotting irony

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Maintaining its drumbeat of relatively pointless articles about the new Obama administration, Politico thinks it's a big deal there are no CEO's inside the new cabinet. Because only titans of business know how to run economies, right? Politico also suggests it's been the norm for decades to include CEO's in White House cabinets, although the historical proof it provides is rather sketchy.

    We chuckled though, when Politico, leaning heavily on the angle that the lack of CEO's might hurt Obama, noted:

    That's in contrast with other recent administrations, which have seen a host of ex-CEOs and businesspeople in the president's inner circle. George W. Bush, for example, selected three consecutive ex-CEOs as Treasury secretary: Paul O'Neill, former CEO of Alcoa, John Snow, former CEO of CSX, and Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. By contrast, Obama's pick for the same position is Timothy Geithner, a veteran bureaucrat who served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    Hmm, Bush appointed three former CEO's to run the Treasury Dept. (i.e. to help run the economy), and now the Obama administration has to try to undo the extraordinary damage done to the economy during the Bush years.

    But Politico still thinks it's weird that Obama's not following Bush's lead.

  • CNN misses the real story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In its look at the increase in the number of women robbing banks, says Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

    The uptick in bank robbery committed by women correlates with the economic downtown, the head of the Nassau County police department's robbery squad says that women are primarily motivated by a need to "pay bills, get a little extra cash... They need diapers for the baby that kind of thing," and yet the framing story is all about a thrill-seeking thief and the accompanying article photos are of the "Barbie Bandits"—blonde, teenage strippers who robbed a bank to go on a shopping spree. There's a real story to be told about desperate women who have no resources and no opportunities, but it's buried beneath yet another "hot chicks doing boy things" story.

  • Obama faces a completely different press corps than Bush did

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is quite an observation from MSNBC's Domenico Montanaro [emphasis added]:

    The great challenge that this White House is dealing with is the 24/7 nature of the Twittering media that no other president has ever dealt with on the policy front. It's the natural evolution, considering that campaigns have gotten this kind of coverage for years. Still, this environment of incremental up-down rulings by the punditocracy (most notably business pundits, see yesterday) on Obama's first month of policy, is quite the message handling challenge for this White House. Right now, it's chosen to deal with it by flooding the zone; instead of pushing one storyline a week, they go ahead and try and sell multiple messages. Can they keep up the pace?

    Domenico's point is that the new Obama administration faces a new type of media environment that moves at a lightening pace and insists on handing out grades on an almost hourly basis.

    To that I ask: Didn't Bush just leave office like less than 40 days ago. Is Domenico suggesting that in the last 40 days here has been some sort of overnight, technological media revolution inside the Beltway which now causes the press corps to act in a dramatically different, and in some cases almost unrecognizable, fashion?

    Or, as I'd suggest, is it simply that the same media infrastructures remains in place (i.e. Twitter existed while Bush was prez, right?), it's just that the Beltway press corps has voluntarily chosen to act in a dramatically different, and hyper-caffeinated, fashion to cover (and grade) and new Dem White House?

    I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

  • Look who passes as a "populist" to the media elite

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Yep, the CNBC reporter who yesterday claimed the all-white, all-male traders surrounding him on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange represented a cross-section of America. In fact, at one point on Thursday, CNBC's Rick Santelli turned to face the floor, extended his arms toward the six-figure salaried employees and announced, "This is America!"

    Ah, life inside the CNBC bubble.

    But that didn't stop the out-of-touch press from anointing Santelli a "populist," following his rant against the Obama housing recovery plan and how the president was leading the country down the road to communism, which is what Santelli yesterday clearly suggested during his on-air meltdown.

    So let's take a look at Santelli's "populist" credentials, as viewed from his 2007 bio posted at the Milken Institute's Global Conference, held at Los Angeles' Beverly Hilton:

    Rick Santelli is a Bond Market Reporter for CNBC. He joined CNBC Business News as on-air editor in 1999, reporting from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. His focus is primarily on interest rates, foreign exchange and the Federal Reserve. A veteran trader and financial executive, Santelli has provided live reports on the markets in print and on local and national radio and television. He joined CNBC from the Institutional Financial Futures and Options division at Sanwa Futures. There, he was a vice president, handling institutional trading and hedge accounts for a variety of futures related products. Prior to that, Santelli worked as vice president of Institutional Futures and Options at Rand Financial Services Inc., served as managing director at the Derivative Products Group of Geldermann Inc., and was vice president in charge of Interest Rate Futures and Options at the Chicago Board of Trade for Drexel Burnham Lambert. Santelli began his career in 1979 as a trader and order filler at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in a variety of markets. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.

  • Austin American Stateman, unlike AP, others, notes Heartland Institute's energy industry ties

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    As Media Matters noted on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Heartland Institute publisher Dan Williams "said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming" and that former Sen. Harrison Schmitt "said he's heartened that the upcoming [Heartland] conference is made up of scientists who haven't been manipulated by politics." But at no point in the article did the AP note that Heartland receives funding from the fossil fuels industry. Moreover, the AP uncritically reported that Schmitt "said ... the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise," echoing a claim widely disputed by scientists.

    Well, yesterday the Austin American Statesman came out with a story making reference to Heartland and what did they do? Emphasis added:

    He is "regarded with reverence," said Dan Miller, a publisher at the Heartland Institute, which puts out a newsletter asserting no scientific consensus on global warming and gets money from energy corporations. "He has been in this battle, in the trenches for a long time. He's a warrior of epic proportions on this issue."

    [...]

    Climate scientists, however, hold that carbon dioxide emissions have a significant effect on a changing climate.

    A 2007 climate change study by an international group of scientists found that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" and said with "very high confidence" that the net impact of "human activities since 1750 has been one of warming."

    Atmospheric and climate scientists at UT and Texas A&M University have said that temperatures will rise in Texas, coastal communities are at risk from rising sea levels in the Gulf, and weather conditions are likely to include more severe droughts and flooding.

    I'm not saying the Statesman piece is perfect but they do two important things in this story. (1) When they go to the Heartland Institute for comment, they let their readers know where Heartland gets its money -- the energy industry. (2) They counter Heartland's bogus claims with facts based on science from scientists. They show the scientific consensus that exists over global climate change and the impace humans are having.

    More on this issue:

  • Limbaugh, the WSJ and the Fairness Doctrine

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Has anyone belatedly slammed the barn door shut quite as aggressively as Rush Limbaugh does today in the pages of the WSJ? Days after the Obama White House made it clear it had no interest in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC statute that hasn't been on the books in two decades, Limbaugh breathlessly arrived on the scene to beseech the president not to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

    Oh brother.

    But this is what happens when the leader-less GOP anoints a radio talk show host to be the voice of the conservative movement; non-existent legislative initiatives like the Fairness Doctrine are treated as wildly important because they might concern Rush.

    Note that the top headline in the Journal's news pages today reads, "Market Hits New Crisis Low: Dow Is Now 47% Below Its Peaks; Analysts Warn They See Few Signs of a Bottom." Yet there on the pages of the Journal's Op-Ed section is Limbaugh going on and on about some obscure AM talk radio regulation. I'm sure that agenda is bound to appeal to a large cross-section of struggling Americans these days.

    Of course, Limbaugh's column is filled with all kinds of casual falsehoods that are his trademark. Like when he claimed Obama admonished "members of Congress not to listen to my show." False. Obama suggested, in private, to Republican members of Congress they shouldn't legislate by taking their cues from a radio talk show host. (A radical notion, I know.)

    Elsewhere, Limbaugh claimed the AM spectrum is just a rainbow of content diversity [emphasis added]:

    Today the number of radio stations programming talk is well over 2,000. In fact, there are thousands of stations that air tens of thousands of programs covering virtually every conceivable topic and in various languages.

    Actually, according to the most recent statistical analysis, 91 percent of talk programming in America is conservative. (And yes, I chuckled when Limbaugh referred to the broadcasters' "public interest" as a "contrivance.")

    But mostly, I was struck by the run-away egomania the column so effectively captured. Remember a couple weeks ago when Limbaugh appeared in the Journal to announce--aside from the fact that the current recession would simply fix itself in a matter of months--he was proposing his own stimulus bill. (Suddenly Limbaugh has the power to appropriate money?)

    Well today, Limbaugh demands that the new president set aside all other pressing concerns and respond directly to the talker's demands and spell out White House communication policy, again. Because apparently Limbaugh needs things explained to him more than once.

  • Brent Bozell, Free Speech Hypocrite

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    So, Media Research Center has a new "Free Speech Alliance" through which it is urging President Obama to "Oppose All Govt. Radio Censorship." MRC President Brent Bozell released a statement saying Obama "should state his opposition to the use of any FCC regulation with the intent of censoring talk radio. He should also guarantee a veto of any bill that will silence free speech on the airwaves."

    That would be the same Brent Bozell who brought you the Parents Television Council, a group best known for urging the FCC to crack down on the broadcast of words Brent Bozell doesn't like.

    So when Brent Bozell and MRC talk about opposing "censorship" and ensuring "free speech on the airwaves," keep in mind that what they really mean is that they want to protect speech they like, and censor speech they don't like.

    Here's Stephen Colbert's take on the Parents Television Council. Brent, you may want to leave the room -- Colbert gets a little free-speechy.

  • How does the Klan view New York Post's stimulus monkey cartoon?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Tina Dupuy over Mediabistro.com's FishbowlLA has a new poll out of their readers on the controversial New York Post cartoon that depicts a dead monkey (some have said this represents President Obama) with two bullet holes in its chest while the cop holding the gun says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

    Check out the results of their poll for yourself here.

    I thought it worth sharing some of what FishbowlLA has to say in their post:

    Here's the thing with comedy: poking fun at power is funny. Kicking the weak is not funny. Monkeys - very funny. Cops shooting monkey dead - not funny. Cops being stupid - funny. Cops assassinating man-like mammals - not funny.

    Equating our new first black president to an assassinated (shot twice in the chest) monkey - NOT FUNNY.

    And even saying, "No, no - he didn't mean Obama - he meant Congress."

    We say that true racists - true ones - not the ones you have to read between the lines to see they are kind of biased - but the real ones. The ones on the mailing lists for neo-Nazi groups. The ones that complain that their local dry cleaner won't starch their white hood properly. When those people look at this cartoon - do THEY see Congress?

    A poignant question indeed, though I'm afraid the answer is rather obvious. What do you think?

  • CNBC reporter thinks traders represent "the silent majority"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Drudge is making a big deal about this because I guess we're supposed to care when CNBC's Rick Santelli starts yelling and whining about Obama's recovery effort. Because, y'know, traders and bankers did such a great job stewarding the economy for the last few years, why should the government step in, right?

    Anyway, the hilarious part comes at the end of the rant when Santelli, reporting from the floor of Chicago Mercantile Exchange, announces indignantly that the all-white, all-male traders nearby represent "a pretty good statistical cross-section of America. The silent majority."

    At one point, Santelli turned to the trading floor, extended his arms outward and announced, "This is America!"

    Ah, life inside the CNBC bubble.

  • Gawker makes fun of dumb Politico article so we don't have to

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Brilliant Politico premise? Some academics joining the Obama administration were paid very well by universities.

    From Gawker:

    It's true! If, after years spent at a good university, you reach the top rung in your academic field, you can expect to pull in crazy six-figure incomes! The crack reporters at Politico dug through the financial disclosures of some professors Obama appointed to his administration and found, shockingly, that they were not broke-ass schoolteachers at all, and they even had benefits!

    We officially endorse Gawker's conclusion: "Seriously, there is no journalistic justification for this article."