• John Harwood seems confused

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Times columnists acts like it's a huge deal that a Democrat appears on the verge of winning the White House, just four years after president Bush and the GOP seemed to solidify their permanent majority.

    He writes:

    In 2004, after President Bush won re-election with expanded Republican majorities in Congress, academics, journalists and party strategists wondered whether his blend of free-market economics, cultural conservatism and hawkishness on national security might create long-lasting Republican rule.

    We'd ignore the "academics" and focus on the "journalists and party strategists" part from above because what happened in 2004 is Bush was re-elected, the GOP party spin was he'd won a mandate, and the press tripped over itself making that brash announcement.

    Of course, it was the thinnest "mandate" on record. (Bush's final margin was almost identical to Jimmy Carter's win over Gerald Ford in 1976.) But the media remained wildly impressed that a wartime incumbent Republican president was able to (barely) defeat a liberal from Massachusetts.

    So in truth, the GOP's permanent majority was a media creation, and one that Harwood still clings to today. (And CJR agrees.)

    P.S. And what was up with Harwood's lead?

    It would be remarkable, in any year, for a black Democratic candidate for president to be ahead in polls one week before Election Day. Even more remarkable is that it's happening this year.

    Why would it be remarkable that a "black Democrat" is ahead one week before Election Day? Polls have shown for almost the entire year that Barack Obama had a legitimate chance of winning a general election race.

  • The problem with whining about the liberal media

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Is that conservative outlets that make the case have no standing to lecture anyone about the state of journalism.

    Case in point, Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham whose latest, "Election 2008: Objective journalism the loser," finds the scribe if full whiner mode.

    Please note the irony though, of the Boston Herald, an openly partisan tabloid that often cuts journalism corners to score political points, instructing other newsroom about objectivity. The Herald hasn't practiced that in years. But now all of a sudden Graham considers himself an expert in the topic?

    Sorry, we'll pass.

    P.S. Newsbusters seems to be confused about the Herald's loyalties.

  • ABC News gives forum to right-wing press critic

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Who claims the media has thrown away all its credibility by fawning over Barack Obama.

    The column, by a tech writer named Michael Malone, has been all the rage online for the last week, with practically every conservative writer with an Internet connection linking to the piece and hailing it as the unvarnished truth about the press and the campaign; about the media's "bewildering" "bias" as Malone calls it.

    Now had decided to give Malone a truly national platform with a "Special to ABC News" column. And yes, we're still searching for a voice from the left sharply critiquing the media performance during the campaign season. We'll alert you as soon as we find it or when someone at ABC News sends us the link.

    That being said, what's worth noting here is that Malone's now-viral column is pretty much loony.

    After a long-winded preamble about his deep love for journalism and something about the war in Lebanon, and how, according to Malone, he was, "one of the first people in the traditional media to call for the firing of Dan Rather" (oh good), he finally gets down to a specific example of how the press has thrown away all its credibility by going so easy on Obama.

    And here it is: "Why..haven't we seen an interview with Sen. Obama's grad school drug dealer?"

    I kid you not. Malone thinks journalism is a joke because Obama's drug dealer from grad school hasn't been interviewed this campaign season.

    He then goes on for many, many more paragraphs prescribing how to fix journalism, although Malone did a dreadfully bad job documenting what's wrong with it in the first place. Minus the missing drug dealer, that is.

    Like I said, the effort is pretty loopy. But because right-wingers turned it into a blogosphere hit, ABC News thought it was a good idea to reproduce the column on the widely read site.

    That's why it's called working the refs.

  • The Note, still obsessed with the GOP

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Beltway media's continued fixation with all-things Republican, even as the extraordinary rise of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party continues, is quite amazing to watch. Just look at The Note from ABC News today, which is all-GOP/all-the-time.

    In terms of The Note's linked references today, Drudge? Check. Bill Kristol? David Frum? Check. Byron York? Check. Fred Barnes? check.

    The Note doesn't bother to link to a single liberal/Democratic pundit today? Check.

  • The Strib and Al Franken, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Over the weekend we noted how the Minneapolis paper seems to have its thumb on the scale while covering the very close U.S. Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman.

    We noted the oddity of Strib editor Nancy Barnes announcing, via memo, that the newspaper columnists who appear in the news pages would no longer be allowed to weigh in on the campaign, and making that announcement one day after a Strib columnist labeled Franken a slanderer of Christianity.

    Another Barnes memo, this one from September, also raised eyebrows because the editor so clearly aped right-wing talking points about the media, and practically accused her own staff of a built-in bias.

    She wrote:

    It is more important than ever that we be vigilant about stripping any bias from our reporting and/or editing...We are all human, and some among our staff may privately be pulling for one candidate or another. But let's take extra care to make sure personal opinion doesn't show up in the news pages.

  • Rachel Maddow came from "nowhere"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    According to the New York Times, in an article today about overnight pundit sensations.

    The piece focuses on Peter Freire, the 26-year-old managing editor of the American Spectator and how he's being groomed by the right-wing Noise Machine to be a pundit. The Times notes Freire's background prior to joining the Spectator in January consisted of "a string of internships and short-term jobs."

    And yet now he's making the cable rounds dispensing wisdom. Sorta weird right? Not really, the Times suggests, because Maddow "is 35 and rose from nowhere to become a top-rated headliner on MSNBC."

    If by "nowhere," the Times is referring to her four-year career as a host on Air America, her work as an election season analyst on MSNBC and the fact that Maddow is a former Rhodes Scholar, than yeah, I guess her path and Freire's path are similar.