• Media out of touch on "bipartisanship," part IV

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Earlier, I noted that a Gallup poll showing broad public support for President Obama's handing of the stimulus package and broad disapproval of the GOP's performance undermines the media meme that it is the Democrats who have been insufficiently "bipartisan" in their approach.

    Turns out a CNN poll provides even better evidence that the media and the public are far apart:

    Three out of four poll respondents said that Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, but only 39 percent feel that congressional Republicans are cooperating enough with the president.

  • Media Group-Think on Counter-Terrorism Policy

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Glenn Greenwald from Salon notes that "establishment journalists are repeatedly reciting the Pentagon's recidivism claim without an ounce of skepticism, without even noting the ample disputes surrounding this claim."

    He continues:

    Using the prevailing media-logic applied to Bush's counter-terrorism policies such as torture and Guantanamo (i.e., if a country is attacked by Terrorists, its Government then does X, and there are no Terrorist attacks for some period of time thereafter, then that is "proof" that "X stops Terrorism"), I believe these events in Spain constitute proof that the way to stop Terrorism and to keep the citizenry safe is to stop invading and occupying Muslim countries and take accused Terrorists and put them on trial with full due process rights before putting them in cages for life. After all, that's what Spain did, and there's not been another Terrorist attack for five years. Therefore, those policies have kept the Spanish people safe.

  • WoldNetDaily and Fox News "bearing false witness" on Recovery Plan

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    ConWebWatch and News Hounds pick up on WorldNetDaily and Fox News promoting the misguided notion that the President's recovery bill would prohibit religious activity in schools accepting Federal funds.

    From ConWebWatch:

    A Feb. 6 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh uncritically repeats claims by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice that a clause in a provision in the stimulus bill that bans federal funding of construction of school facilities whose primary purpose is religious is an "attempt to censor religious speech and worship on school campuses across the nation." Unruh makes no apparent attempt to seek out a response to Sekulow and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, whom Unruh also quotes opining on the issue.

    Too bad, because Sekulow and DeMint appear to be lying.

    From News Hounds:

    There is a saying that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" and "Grapevine" is a stunning example of that aphorism; as it offers short sound-bites on information that is presented as Fox "fact" without analysis or rebuttal.


    The February 4th article began with a sentence sure to get the pitchfork gang salivating: "Democrats in Congress have declared war on prayer, say conservative groups who object to a provision in the stimulus bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The provision bans money designated for school renovation from being spent on facilities that allow "religious worship." It has ignited a fury among critics who say it violates the First Amendment and is an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools." Naturally, the head of the religious right Liberty Counsel, Matthew Staver, was quoted at length. The article provided a brief rebuttal (Barry Lynn From Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a sentence summing up the ACLU position) but bookended the article with more commentary (whining) from "The Traditional Values Coalition." The religious right had already set in motion their pre-emptive strike against the evil Democrats – see People for the American Way's "The 'Big Lie' Strategy: Religious Right Stokes False Fears of Religious Persecution" which details how the religious right "ratcheted up the rhetoric" of a "phony crisis" in advance of Republican Senator Jim DeMint's amendment to strip church/state protections from the bill and how they spun the resulting defeat of the amendment. The Fox News article was part of a culture war skirmish which even included Fox fave Michelle Malkin who indignantly stated, on her blog, that the defeat of the DeMint amendment was another reason not to support the stimulus package.


    I guess the religious right and Republican Senator Jim DeMint don't have a problem with "bearing false witness" because their attempts to galvanize the base by demonizing Democrats are a bold, fresh pile of steaming crap.

  • WaPo vs. Politico

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Today, both take the temperature of the GOP and its political prospects, but come to very different conclusions. The WaPo report finds the party brimming with new (anti-Obama) life, and members generally thrilled with their performance in recent days:

    After giving the package zero votes in the House, and with their counterparts in the Senate likely to provide in a crucial procedural vote today only the handful of votes needed to avoid a filibuster, Republicans are relishing the opportunity to make a big statement.

    In general, it's a very rah-rah assessment with just a passing reference to the fact that yes, the Republicans' obstructionist strategy might carry with it a downside.

    Over at Politico, it was a different story as told from inside the GOP, with two Republican pro's highlighting the mounting troubles the party faces. One was Jack Burkman is a GOP lobbyist and strategist, who wrote:

    With no leadership and no discernible values, principles or direction, congressional Republicans seem all but certain to be steamrolled by President Barack Obama, whose early approval numbers top 75 percent...

    Bleaker still is the reality that the party has a terrible dearth of virtually everything from presidential candidates to strategists. Mitt Romney is rich, Harvard-educated and handsome, but he will have enormous difficulty emerging as a charismatic GOP leader because of his lack of belief in, well, anything. Sarah Palin would make a smashing suit model.

    At the grass-roots level, the party is no longer even producing good political strategists, something the GOP has excelled at for many years. Most top-gun operatives have become lobbyists, preferring the quick cash to the hard discipline and creativity required of campaign life. The problem is that, with Republicans shut out of power, there is no one left to lobby.

    The other was a somewhat sarcastic open letter to Rush Limbaugh, written by John Feehery worked for the House Republican leadership from 1989 to 2005. He wrote:

    [O]ur research shows that the American people actually want help with certain things (the failing education system, the high cost of health care, the sagging economy, etc.). Do you have any good ideas that you can share with us — ideas that will be seen as reasonable by the American people — that can serve as a viable alternative? Or is it your plan to simply oppose every idea that comes from the Obama administration?

    It's telling that when Beltway reporters size up the GOP, they see signs of strength and resurgence. But when GOP insiders take a look, the view isn't so pretty.

  • Does CNN's John King think construction work is done pro bono?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Apparently. Because asking questions about the stimulus bill, King, perfectly echoing GOP talking points, wonders if a construction project one mayor is proposing (a community wave pool) will actually create jobs.

    The only real question is how does hiring a construction firm to build a community pool not create jobs? Seriously, we'd love to hear King's explanation.

  • COLUMN: Right-Washing the New Deal

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    It's probably a good thing that cable news generally doesn't draw much of an audience from the 18- to 24-year-old demographic. Otherwise, history professors across the nation could very well be witnessing the undoing of their work to educate students about the dire economic climate the United States faced for much of the 1930s.

    Those who have been watching cable news lately have undoubtedly noticed the litany of conservative media figures attempting to rewrite history by denigrating the tremendous successes of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal policies in what amounts to an orchestrated effort to derail the economic recovery plans of President Obama.

    Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume recently called Roosevelt's policies "a jihad against private enterprise," just after claiming that "everybody agrees, I think, on both sides of the spectrum now, that the New Deal failed." That may be accurate if by "both sides of the spectrum" Hume is referring to the right and far-right over at Fox News.

    Hume's own jihad against the facts, however, represents only a small portion of the historical misrepresentations passed off as reasoned debate about the New Deal.


    Karl Frisch is a Senior Fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog, research, and information center based in Washington, DC. Frisch also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the web as well as original commentary. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook or sign-up to receive his columns by email.

    A shorter version of this column first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News.

  • New poll shows stimulus coverage is not just wrong -- it is out of touch, too

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Over the past few weeks, the news media has repeatedly portrayed President Obama and (especially) congressional Democrats as being insufficiently "bipartisan" and "centrist" in their approach to the stimulus package. These news reports often seem to suggest that bipartisanship is an end in and of itself, rather than a means to an end. Worse, as I explained in a recent column, they blamed the wrong party for the lack of bipartisan cooperation:

    So, to sum up: 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.

    Today, a new Gallup poll shows that not only were these news reports factually and logically flawed, they were - once again - painfully out of touch with the American people.

    According to Gallup, 67 percent of Americans approve of President Obama's handling of the stimulus bill, while only 25 percent disapprove. And more American approve rather than disapprove of Congressional Democrats handling of the bill, though by a much smaller margin than Obama enjoys.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, fare much worse. Only 31 percent of Americans approve of their handling of the stimulus, while 58 percent disapprove.

    And this despite weeks of news reports that perversely suggest the Democrats have been insufficiently bipartisan, and that falsely suggest that that the GOP's tax cut proposals would be more stimulative than government spending on things like unemployment benefits and food stamps.

    Just imagine what the poll numbers would be had the media coverage of the stimulus debate not been so skewed in the Republicans' favor.

  • The view from Armstrong Williams' glass house

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Armstrong Williams' column in today's Washington Times features this passage:

    For two consecutive election cycles, Republicans suffered humiliating losses because they couldn't grasp the weight of their corruptive ways and the bitterness it left with voters. Obama's team helped to blur that line last week, and today, the administration has lost the moral high ground.

    "Moral high ground"? Armstrong Williams, you might recall, is most famous for taking secret payments from the government in exchange for using his platform as a "journalist" to promote government policies. The only thing Armstrong Williams knows about the "moral high ground" is that it's an awfully long way up.