• Coulter's NBC appearance cancelled -- but CBS still plans to welcome her

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    According to Politico's Michael Calderone, Ann Coulter's scheduled appearance on NBC's Today has been cancelled.

    Coulter is still scheduled to appear on CBS' Early Show tomorrow, according to her web page. This follows the recent revelation that CBS considered including Coulter on the "independent" panel it created to investigate a 60 Minutes report on President Bush's National Guard record.

  • NYPost columnist suggests Obama will "stab" and shoot Israel in the back

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Post pro-war columnist Ralph Peters, an Iraq war cheerleader who all but declared that war won in March, 2003, claimed that Israeli "government leaders and generals" are suddenly concerned that incoming Democratic president Barack Obama will "stab" Israel in the back by withdrawing practical and political support once he takes office.

    Peters' proof for his claim? He had none. He didn't quote a single Israeli politician or military leader on the record. He didn't quote anybody off the record. He didn't point to a single utterance picked up by the Israeli or foreign press. Peters had zero facts to back up his far-fetched claim that the United States would, pretty much for the first time since the creation of Israeli state, withdraw its support from the nation when the new Democrat takes office.

    Peters had nothing to back up his claim, but that didn't stop him from using violent rhetoric to scare readers about Obama. Along with claiming that (unknown) Israeli leaders fear being stabbed in the back, Peters also stressed, "Israeli soldiers should not have to go into battle worrying about an American bullet in the back." [Emphasis added.]

    BTW, readers should note that the Post now refers to president-elect Barack Obama as "BAM" in its Op-ed page headlines. Nothing disrespectful there, right?

  • TPM's Greg Sargent joins WaPo

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    I'm a few days late to the party, so Steve Benen and John Cole and Adam Serwer have already given a solid thrashing to the complaints by RedState's Erick Erickson about the Washington Post hiring TPM's Greg Sargent.

    One thing worth adding: in addition to his excellent work at TPM, and on his Horse's Mouth blog for the American Prospect before that, Sargent has written for the New York Observer, New York magazine, Newsday, the Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, and probably a few other news outlets I'm missing. He has demonstrated both an understanding of many of the ways political reporting has failed its consumers, and a willingness to write about it -- a rare combination among professional journalists, as Bob Somerby frequently points out.

    Point being: Erickson's whining aside, Sargent is more likely to raise standards at the Washington Post than lower them. And that would be true even if the Post weren't the home of Dana Milbank and Howard Kurtz.

  • Los Angeles Times ignores Harry Reid's denial

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Former Laura Bush flack and LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm posted a weekend round-up regarding Blago-related developments. Or the "molten stew that is the scandal," as Malcolm panted.

    Malcolm stressed this point:

    According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, Reid attempted to influence the governor's nominee choice by expressing serious reservations over the 2010 electability of three potential Blagojevich picks -- Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis and state Senate President Emil Jones. All three men happen to be black, as is Burris.

    Nasty stuff, right? The U.S. Senate Majority Leader dictating who and who could not be selected to fill Obama's senate seat? And worse, Reid announced no blacks were allowed. Yikes, no wonder the Blago story has morphed into a "molten stew."

    You know what's great about blogging, though? The ability to update stories when new information surfaces. But for some reason Malcolm had no interest in doing that at the LA Time blog after Reid, while appearing on Sunday's MTP, categorically denied ever making those claims to Blago about Jackson, David or Jones. According to Reid, the claim that he opposed black candidates is completely false.

    Nonetheless, 24 hours later Malcolm still hadn't updated his blog post. Maybe that's because with that additional information the Blago story would become less molten stew-ish.

    BTW, we loved how an LA Times blogger reader demolished another part of Malcolm's Blago account, where he wrote:

    By naming the 71-year-old Burris, who's never lost an election to a Republican, Blagojevich places Reid in the uncomfortable political position of blocking an experienced black political vote-getter from replacing a black and becoming the Senate's only black member.

    The point here isn't about Burris' qualifications, it's about how Malcolm spins vs. reports. Here's what "Phil" wrote:

    It is very misleading to describe Burris as having "never lost an election to a Republican." It is equally misleading to describe him as "an experienced...political vote-getter." In 1984, Burris ran for the U.S. Senate and lost in the primaries to Paul Simon. Then, in 1994, he ran for Governor of Illinois and lost in the primaries. In 1995, the following year, he ran for Mayor of Chicago and lost to another Democratc, Richard Daley. In 1998, he ran for Governor of Illinois and lost in the primaries. He ran for Governor again in 2002 and lost in the primaries to Blagojevich. Sure, he's never lost to a Republican. Most of the time he is unable to make it that far!

    Malcolm.....stop with the talking points!!!

    What Phil said.

  • Politico sets up no-win situation for Obama; reality strongly disagrees

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    A running joke among the progressive blogosphere for the past several years has been that the news media interprets everything as good news for Republicans. Sometimes, a specific Republican was lucky enough to benefit from everything that happened, as with the months-long stretch during the GOP presidential primaries when event after event was deemed to redound to Rudy Giuliani's benefit. His great good fortune notwithstanding, Giuliani fell 1,191 delegates short of the 1,191 required for the nomination.

    The single most astounding example of the media's habitual search for the silver lining on even the darkest storm clouds hovering over the GOP may have been the time in 2006 when NBC's Matt Lauer suggested President Bush's unpopularity might be "a blessing in disguise for Republicans in these midterm elections?" It turned out to be a heck of a disguise: Republicans lost 30 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. Then, last November, some media figures actually tried to argue that the presidential election results carried good news for the GOP.

    If everything is good news for the Republicans, it must follow that everything is bad news for Democrats. And so the media often set up comically transparent lose-lose situations for them.

    Last month, for example, several reporters criticized president-elect Obama for honoring Patrick Fitzgerald's request that he not disclose contacts between his staff and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. But it could not possibly be more obvious that if Obama had blown off Fitzgerald's request, the media would react with a frenzy of suggestion that he had improperly impeded Fitzgerald's investigation.

    Today, the Politico sets up another lose-lose for Obama:

    Barack Obama will lay out his vision for a massive economic stimulus plan in meetings with congressional leaders Monday. Perhaps more important, he'll be taking a major step toward rebuilding the broken relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch.

    Doing so will be critical to the success of his agenda.

    If Obama seems unwilling to take lawmakers' ideas into account, he could risk whatever goodwill he's getting from the GOP and irk Democrats expecting to play a big role in a new Washington. But if Obama bends to the demands of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, the public could perceive him as a weak president even before he takes the oath of office.

    So, if Obama "seems unwilling" to listen to Congress, he'll lose. And if he does listen to them, he loses, too. Gosh, isn't there any way for Obama to be successful?

    If Obama manages to pull off the neat trick of bending to the demands of both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, the Politico suggests the public could perceive him as "weak" before he is even sworn in. As a colleague noted this morning, if that were to happen, it would likely be for little reason other than that media like the Politico keep baselessly repeating the possibility.

    Though "possibility" is probably a generous choice of words. The most recent CNN poll found that 82 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his transition. 84 percent have "some" or "a lot" of confidence in Obama's ability to provide "real leadership for the country." Other polls show similar levels of approval of and confidence in Obama.

    If, as Politico suggests may happen, the public is going to perceive Obama as "a weak president even before he takes the oath of office," they better show some hustle - they have only 15 days left to change their minds about him in huge numbers.

  • NBC's David Gregory frets about Dem attacks on Bush

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Is it me, or is the Beltway press forever concerned when Democrats play hardball and use tough language in partisan battles with Republicans, in a way that the press never seems to mind when the GOP lets the invective fly?

    Sunday's MTP was a perfect example. Host David Gregory pressed U.S. Senate Leader Sen. Harry Reid about tough language he'd used in the past in describing the most unpopular president since modern polling was created nearly one century ago:

    Before you go, do you have any regrets about the way you have publicly battled with President Bush? Over the years you've called him a liar, a loser, and you've described him as, quote, our worst president ever.

    Reid, for the record expressed no regrets.

    What's so odd is that I'm thinking back to January of 2001, and I can't recall the MTP moderator pressing leading Republicans if they had any "regrets" about the nearly non-stop insults they had heaped on the sitting Democratic president, who at the time of his exit was the most popular president to ever leave the Oval Office.

    See the double standard? When Harry Reid pointed out a widely accepted fact, that Bush is considered by many to be among the worst president's ever, Gregory wanted to know if the Democrat had any regrets; had he gone too far. But when Republicans spent nearly eight years trying to dehumanize Bill Clinton, MTP remained mostly mum.

    BTW: Why did CNN pretend that Reid went on NBC on Sunday and ranted about Bush, calling him the worst president ever? CNN's dispatch clearly suggested that Reid wouldn't let Bush leave office peacefully, when in truth it was Gregory who brought up the old Reid quotes about Bush.

  • Politico's Jonathan Martin to Howie Kurtz: Blago story is fun!

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Martin was asked if the new angle of race interjected into the Blago story, in the form of the Roland Burris pick, had been overhyped by the press. Martin said not really and that the press is just happy that the story continues to percolate. That there's additional fodder!

    As long as the Beltway press is happy and entertained, right?

  • AP rolls a gutter ball

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Associated Press reports:

    President-elect Barack Obama thought he'd put the bowling jokes behind him.

    Not likely.

    On the golf course Monday, a woman waiting at the 18th green reminded Obama of his disastrous bowling during the presidential campaign. ...

    "That was pretty good, right?" Obama said to cheers as he finished a round of golf near his $9 million rented vacation home near Honolulu.

    The woman sitting on a nearby wall shouted, "Better than your bowling."


    The woman's quip referred to Obama's embarrassing bowling outing in Pennsylvania, when he knocked down only 37 pins — with the assist during two frames from an 8-year-old. It was an effort to connect with working-class voters, yet he lost Pennsylvania's primary election to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    "Disastrous"? Really? It was a trip to a bowling alley, not a failed amphibious invasion of Cuba. "Disastrous" seems a bit overheated.

    And notwithstanding the AP's certainty that Obama's "disastrous" bowling experience destroyed his ability to "connect with working-class voters," the man did, um, win the presidency. Seems like he must have connected with at least a handful of working-class voters along the way. Even some Pennsylvanians, who managed to look past Obama's bowling ability and give him a comfortable general-election win.

  • ABC's The Note embarrasses itself on behalf of Beltway journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Doing its best to prop up the beyond soggy and now practically underwater Blago/Obama "scandal," The Note works feverishly to convince fellow journalists (news consumers are not the target audience here) that they didn't make fools of themselves hyping the non-story for weeks. That the released report showing Obama's team did nothing wrong simply vindicates the media's hyperventilating coverage.

    The two key take-aways from The Note's perspective are that the press should feel good about its misleading work, and that the Obama team could have avoided the whole mess if it had simply come clean. And oh yeah, this manufactured story's not over! It's going to "linger." (Sorta like Whitewater?)

    In other words, The Note's Rick Klein knowingly concocts fiction and refuses to come clean about the Village's utterly shameful Blago coverage.

    And we don't use the word "concocts" lightly. Read this passage [emphasis added]:

    To the extent that there's news in the report, it exists in part because Obama and company worked so hard before to convince the public that this president-elect would never be involved in something as parochial and tawdry as playing a role in choosing the next junior senator from Illinois.

    Anyone see the irony? Klein claims Obama's message to voters was that he'd never be involved in something like Blago's dirty scheme and that's why this story remains "news." But guess what? Obama isn't involved in Blago's dirty scheme, yet the press claims this is news.

    As we've noted before, when it wants to, the press can tell any story it wants.

  • Little Green Footballs whines about the unraveling Memogate saga

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's really the right-wing bloggers lone claim to fame in the last four-plus years; they got Dan Rather fired. Liberal bloggers just got a president elected and helped fortified gains in Congress. Right-wing bloggers four years ago got an anchor fired.

    We'll take the former, but that's just us.

    Now, as Rather's civil case moves through the courts and we learn more and more details about the case, suddenly the right-wing bloggers' claim to fame doesn't look all that dazzling. Their response? Blame the media (a stretch, we know) and claim the press is trying to rewrite history.

    LGF is huffing and puffing about this week's NPR story. Specifically, LGF is furious NPR reported that the disputed documents at the center of Memogate have never been proven to be fakes. Liars! shrieks LGF.

    Of course, this is one of the great ironies of Memogate: the "independent" panel that investigated the media scandal and which was headed by a longtime Bush family friend, refused to verify that the CBS documents were forgeries. In fact, the lead panel attorney claimed the right-wing bloggers were wrong about the much-heralded document detective work.

    Four years later Dan Rather is stating that point often, and that point will likely be made many, many times if and when his civil suit goes to trial, and it's driving the right-wing bloggers bonkers. Which means LGF is back rambling on about fonts and typewriters again.

    Guys, it's been four years. Find a new schtick.