• It's like GOP Reefer Madness, con't

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Media Research Center spells it out: Obama's declared "war" on Rush Limbaugh. And Obama's soon going to revive the dreaded Fairness Doctrine. Grab your rations and run people!

    Not but seriously MRC, in terms of Obama's "war" on Limbaugh. The only evidence you have of Obama's declaration was a single passing reference the president made to the talk show host: "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done" he told Congressional Republicans last week. That just doesn't seem very war-y.

    Question (as we do our best Dwight Schrute impersonation), what constitutes further acts of "war"? Is Obama allowed to mention Limbaugh by name? Is Obama allowed to make eye contact with Limbaugh if the two men are ever in the same room? And is Obama allowed to tune into Limbaugh's AM show, or would that be considered unwarranted government intimidation?

    MRC, we await further wartime instructions.

  • Ben Affleck 1, Newsweek 0, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We detailed this back-and-forth earlier at CF, and how Newsweek chose to ignore the salient points actor Ben Affleck recently raised about the magazine's coverage of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last autumn. (Oops sorry, Newsweek claims Affleck raised no salient points.)

    Anyway, Newsweek's updated response to the Affleck caper, as it were, is mighty peculiar: Newsweek doesn't matter! At least that seems to be the magazine's talking point.

    Affleck claimed Newsweek's worshipful coverage of Paulson at a crucial juncture of the unfolding financial crisis helped create a larger public perception that Americans shouldn't critically questions Paulson's economic bailout plan; a plan lots of critics now see as being flawed.

    Noted Affleck:

    It was one of many factors that made it difficult for people to say, [inaud] hold on a second, what is the difference between now and a week from now? Why can't we examine this more closely? Can we talk about this? Why is it that we can't have more transparency in this piece of legislation?...Long and short of it is, Newsweek, in deciding to tell all of America that we all have to put our trust in Henry Paulson, that's like a mediaocracy. It's presumptuous and it damaged us in some ways.

    But Newsweek in response, now claims it's loopy to suggest that the journalism the weekly magazine produces somehow influences public opinion, let alone public policy.

    Writes Newsweek's Kurt Soller:

    Journalism criticism is one thing, but accusing us of actually influencing the economic bailout package? That's ludicrous thinking -- especially for a Cambridge boy like Affleck.

    Guys, don't sell yourself short.

  • Newsbusters: "Ladies Nag Obama"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters is upset that CNN aired an "estrogen-dominated segment which included feminists complaining about Obama."

    No. I'm not making that up. Here's their actual headline: "CNN: Ladies Nag Obama about Lack of Women's Jobs."

    See for yourself:

    Newsbusters apparently thinks the nagging ladies should instead be grateful that women constitute nearly 30 percent of cabinet appointees:

    Newsroom host Kyra Phillips introduced Christine Romans' estrogen-dominated segment which included feminists complaining about Obama. Romans mentioned that six cabinet positions out of 21 have gone to women, yet liberal feminist groups like National Organization for Women (NOW) and The New Agenda were "disappointed."

    Newsbusters readers reacted predictably:

  • Reich calls out Limbaugh, Hannity and Malkin

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    On Saturday, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich called out leading right-wing media figures for falsely suggesting that he proposed excluding white males from the President's stimulus package:

    An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michelle Malkin

    In a time like this, when tempers are riding high and many Americans are close to panic about their jobs and finances, you have a special responsibility to consider the accuracy of what you say and the consequences of inflammatory and erroneous statements. In the last few days, manifestly distorting my words and pulling them out of context, you have accused me of wanting to exclude white males from jobs generated by the stimulus package. Anyone who takes a moment to examine what I actually said and wrote knows this to be an absurd misrepresentation of my position (see this). My goal is and has always been to create as many opportunities for as wide a group as possible, and not exclude anyone from access. There is and has never been any ambiguity about this. The hate mail I have received since your broadcast suggests that the mischievous consequences of your demagoguery are potentially dangerous, in addition to being destructive of rational and constructive political discourse. I urge you to take responsibility for your words. Words and ideas have real world consequences, and you have demonstrated a cavalier disregard for both.

    Well said.

  • Fox News' Right-Wing Author Stimulus Plan

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Earlier this month Ann Coulter appeared all over Fox News (and some other outlets) plugging her new work of fiction, Guilty: Liberal "Victims" and Their Assault on America. From January 6, the day of the book's release, to January 13, Coulter appeared on:

    • 01/05 - Hannity & Colmes
    • 01/06 - Fox & Friends
    • 01/07 - The O'Reilly Factor
    • 01/10 - Huckabee
    • 01/11 - Geraldo
    • 01/12 - Your World with Neil Cavuto
    • 01/15 - Red Eye

    It seems Fox News' effort to stimulate the book sales of right-wing authors is far from over.

    Today, Bernard Goldberg's latest laughable tome, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, is being released (though Media Matters got ahold of a copy several days in advance) and according to a tipster in the know, he'll be all over Fox News starting tomorrow.

    Question: When was the last time you saw a progressive author receive that much airtime on Fox News?

    We may not have Fox News but you can help support progressive authors by joining the Progressive Book Club.

  • Politico's Thrush invents Pelosi controversy

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Glenn Thrush gets awfully creative in promoting the Right's attacks on Nancy Pelosi over her support for public funding for contraceptives.

    Thrush writes:

    It may seem like a nothing, but Nancy Pelosi is facing one of her biggest political threats of the 111th thus far over this birth-control-in-the-stimulus thing.

    Wow, really? "One of her biggest political threats of the 111th" Congress? Sounds scary. Until you remember that the 111th Congress is about three weeks old. Then it begins to look like Thrush is breathlessly hyping "a nothing" into "a something."

    Thrush continues:

    Drudge, along with CNN and others, are trumpeting a House GOP talking point -- ridiculing Pelosi's support of a Medicaid waiver in the stimulus package to reimburse states for contraceptives. And they they think they have a winner, a classic gays-in-the-military, Honeymoon-killing wedge issue.

    Nonsense. Thrush doesn't know what House Republicans and Matt Drudge "think." They might think, as Thrush says, that in 2009, support for contraceptives is as controversial as gays-in-the-military was in 1993. Or maybe they just think they can convince reporters like Glenn Thrush that it is. If the former, they are almost certainly wrong. If the latter, it probably turned out to be easier than they ever could have hoped.

    Then Thrush explains:

    Third -- and most dangerous to Pelosi personally -- it undercuts her carefully crafted image as a measured centrist, playing into the right wing caricature of Pelosi as a Bay Area liberal who will abuse her power to push her far left agenda.

    Thrush provides no polling to back up his suggestion that support for public funding for contraceptives would "undercut" Pelosi's "image as a measured centrist" or that it constitutes a "far left agenda." To the contrary, The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association says such policies are extremely popular. For example, "Eighty-six percent of voters and 85 percent of Catholic voters want the government to fund programs that provide contraception to women without health insurance." (That poll -- conducted by a polling firm headed by Republican Linda DiVall -- is from 2005. It seems unlikely that public support for public funding of contraceptives has dropped from 86 percent to "far-left" status in less than four years, but if Thrush wants more recent numbers, he can do his own research.)

    Finally, Thrush seems to invent out of whole cloth the idea that Pelosi's support for public policy that House Republicans disagree with constitutes an "abuse of power."

    UPDATE: Thrush has updated his post, acknowledging the high public support for contraception funding.

  • New study looks at media failures on climate change

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Via Climate Progress:

    Must-read study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics — "The media's decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress."

    One of the country's leading journalists has written a searing critique of the media's coverage of global warming, especially climate economics.

    How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change is by Eric Pooley for Harvard's prestigious Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Pooley has been managing editor of Fortune, national editor of Time, Time's chief political correspondent, and Time's White House correspondent, where he won the Gerald Ford Prize for Excellence in Reporting. Before that, he was senior editor of New York magazine.

    Continue reading the Climate Progress post and fascinating report.

    Of course, the fact that the media has dropped the ball when it comes to reporting on climate change won't surprise progressives or regular readers of Media Matters.

    Check out more from Media Matters on this important issue here.

  • Ben Affleck 1, Newsweek 0

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The actor recently leveled a very detailed and convincing critique of the fawning, almost celebrity-like profile of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in September. Attending an inauguration ball, Affleck outlined his critique to Politico's Michael Calderone:

    Affleck, particularly interested in TARP—which he called "a miss"—leveled harsh criticism at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Newsweek's "King Henry" cover story from September.

    "Newsweek, I feel like, is basically culpable for the first [$350 billion]," Affleck said. "They did like this hagiography on Paulson. Did you read that?"

    He continued: "They did that and they made it very difficult—it was one of many factors that made it difficult for people to say, [inaud] hold on a second, what is the difference between now and a week from now? Why can't we examine this more closely? Can we talk about this? Why is it that we can't have more transparency in this piece of legislation?"

    "It's the same kind of fear and demagoging that was used to authorize the Iraq War, was resurrected to authorize a piece of legislation which then squandered a lot of our tax dollars—tax dollars, in fact, that we don't have," he continued.

    "Long and short of it is, Newsweek, in deciding to tell all of America that we all have to put our trust in Henry Paulson, that's like a mediaocracy," Affleck added. "It's presumptuous and it damaged us in some ways."

    Newsweek responded this way.

    Kudos to Ben for catching us in our tracks. We are responsible for the bailout. And before we apologize, we thought it'd be nice to admit all the other problems we've thrust on you this year. Enough with the posturing, and let's get started. This year, Newsweek was responsible for:

    1) That whole Hudson plane crash thing. We should have gone with that cover on goose hunting, after all.

    2) This awfully cold winter. As you make decisions about your heating bill or your NEWSWEEK subscription, keep this in mind.

    3) Michelle Obama's white ball gown. If only our design team had sent along those sketches we promised.

    Get it? Those are things Newsweek is not responsible for. Ha-ha. It's a joke. Newsweek's making fun of Affleck because he's an actor and everybody knows actors don't know anything about TARP, or journalism. That's why Newsweek didn't even bother to address the serious nature of Affleck's comments. Because he's an actor and nobody in the Beltway media take actors seriously when they discuss current events because celebrities couldn't possible understand all the important and complicated facts and figures that journalists do, right?

    Perhaps this Newsweek commenter put it best:

    Your snarky comments didn't really address Affleck's point. Now I wouldn't say that I completely agree with him, but he isn't exactly coming out of left field with this. I haven't seen much in the way of real, critical, responsible journalism in quite a while, and having some hipster [...] rail against the comments of some celebrity doesn't really break the funk.