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  • Chris Matthews compares Obama to Nixon and W.

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Neat trick, right?

    First, what's the nation's most pressing issue? On Matthews' weekend syndicated show, the first topic up for discussion was Obama's relations with the press. Because, as Crooks and Liars noted, "it's all about the media, dontcha know?"

    Second, that's where Matthews compared Obama to Nixon and Bush. Both Republicans displayed an open contempt for the media (with Nixon, it was more of an unhinged hatred), and Matthews suggested Obama (aka "this guy") was going to be just like them.

    Third, it's curious that Obama hasn't even taken office yet and already Matthews was harping on the president-elect's press relations. I'd sure be interested to see, during Bush's eight years in office, how many panel discussion the Chris Matthews Show hosted to complain about how Bush treated the press. We doubt there were many during the Lapdog days.

  • About Howie Kurtz's "Obama Adulation Watch"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's a way for the WaPo's Kurtz to mock journalists who he thinks write overly positive things about the new Democratic, president-elect.

    Note that in 1992, The New Republic ran its "Clinton Suck-Up Watch," in order to mock journalists the magazine thought wrote overly positive things about the new, Democratic president-elect.

    Note who's missing from these journalism watches? The Republican, of course. In 2001, president Bush was rewarded with soft, loving press coverage. But we don't recall reading running installments at TNR or the Post that mocked journalists for writing overly positive things about the new Republican president. Did we just not see them at the time, or is fawning coverage of a Republican not considered to be a big deal?

  • The WSJ telegraphs how it's not going to let the Blago/Obama story die

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    No matter what the released report says about the contacts between Obama's team and Blago.

    Monday's Journal news report acknowledges that Obama sources insists the report won't contain any damning information. And Stephanopoulos over the weekend reported that Rahm Emanuel was caught on tape telling Blago all he'd receive from Obama was "appreciation" if an Obama favorite was selected to fill his U.S. senate seat.

    But the Journal, on behalf of the Beltway press corps, announces that it already has a back-up plan in order to hype the non-scandal [emphasis added]:

    Regardless of how clean the Obama camp is, the release of the report isn't likely to be clean. Thursday, former President Bill Clinton released a list of 205,000 donors -- many of them foreign governments -- to his foundation, which he had promised to do as a condition for his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state. That set off a scramble to tie donors to policy predicaments facing the Obama administration.

    See, similar to Isikoff, the Journal suggests Obama's just like Clinton.

    But at least the Journal's upfront about its future Blago coverage: Regardless of what the report indicates, the press isn't going to drop the story.

    Behold your press corps at work.

  • Will the Beltway press follows Stephanopoulos' lead, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, the answer is a resounding no.

    Technically, Isikoff's Blago piece, which takes breathlessness to new heights, was likely written before Stephanopoulos' Sunday scoop about how there may be no 'there' there re: Emanuel and Blago; the angle the press is praying provides some actual spark to the soggy saga. But even if Stephanopoulos' scoop completely deflates Isikoff's almost comicly innuendo-driven report, it's still worth a look just to understand the sad state of Beltway journalism, where concocting what-if's about Democrats has become a full-time profession.

    Isikoff's headline: "If I Had Subpoena Power: Five Questions for Obama."

    Note right away Newsweek invokes the spector of Obama being dogged by subpoenas, which is interesting considering prosecutors have made clear they don't think Obama or Emanuel did anythng wrong in the Blago case. But Newsweek wants to create the Clinton-like impression of the Democratic president seeing supbeanas at every turn.

    Isikoff's lead:

    Invoking his wartime commander-in-chief authority, NEWSWEEK Editor Jon Meacham has granted yours truly, a lowly investigative correspondent, sweeping subpoena power to demand that President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team answer all my questions about their dealings with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who stands accused of putting Obama's vacant U.S. Senate up for sale to the highest bidder. (He vowed on Dec. 19 to fight the charges "until I take my last breath.") It remains unclear whether Obama's assorted spinmeisters and lawyers will honor these subpoenas-or even return my phone calls. But in the meantime, the public at least deserves to know the most crucial questions.

    A couple things are telling here. Note the almost fooling around/ha-ha tone at the top; Iskikoff's editor has granted the "lowly" reporter subpeana power. See, it's a game. Newsweek's just having a laugh while it smears the president-elect by painting a false picture of him at the center of a criminal investigation, which he is not.

    Second, don't you love how at the end Isikoff claim's he's only wallowing in what-if's because the public deserves to know. See, it's not the Village that's obsessed wtih the Blago story, it's the public. (We have our doubts about that.)

    But this part is also priceless: Isikoff thinks the public needs to know what the most crucial questions are. Not the answers, but the questions. Why is that key? Becuase any journalist can sit around and dream up Blago-related questions. That takes no actual reporting, which is why the Blago story remains such a big hit. Answers, though? Those are much harder to produce. (Credit Stephanopoulos, he seems to have uncovered some.)

    As for the hyped five questions Isikoff would ask if he could put the president-election under oath (gee, nothing presumptuous with that premise, right?), trust us, his five have been floated, literally, by every other Blago-obsessed pundit in the Beltway over the last two weeks.

    Behold your press corps at work.

  • Will the Beltway press follows Stephanolpous' lead?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The ABC anchor scored a coup over the weekend with his report re: Rahm Emanuel's contact with Blago and his top aides about Obama's vacant U.S. senate seat. Most news outlets, like the AP, remain in heavy breathing mode, suggesting Emanuel's contacts could lead to all sorts of political trouble for Obama.

    Stephanopoulos reported:

    Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, [Blago's Chief of Staff John] Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.

    Seems like that represents something of a story/innuendo killer. We'll see if the Village plays dumb or not.

  • NYT pretends liberal blogosphere does not exists

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This weekend the Times addressed the controversy sparked when Barack Obama extended an invitation to conservative, evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver a public prayer at Obama's inauguration. According to the Times, Obama is "facing criticism this time from liberal and gay rights groups."

    Technically, that's accurate. But the Times went out of its way to ignore the fact that the Obama/Warren story was born in the blogosphere. The Times itself would not have covered the story if it weren't for the cackles raised online. The blogosphere made the story. Period. Yet not one blogger is quoted in the Times article and the liberal blogosphere isn't even mentioned.

    Instead, the Times, like so many traditional news outlets over the years which have tip-toe around the blogs and been reluctant to acknowledge online's ability to create news, played dumb and pretended the Warren story--and specifically, the outrage expressed on the left that made the pastor pick newsworthy--simply materialized out of thin air. It didn't. The liberal bloggers made that story and the Times chose to play dumb.

  • Let's not pretend Time didn't fawn over Bush/Cheney

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Time's unexpected pick of Barack Obama as its Person of the Year raised lots of cackles among the right-wing because, they whine, it was just another example of the press fawning over Obama.

    Newsbusters lamented:

    David Von Drehle's marshmallowy cover story celebrating Time Person of the Year Barack Obama was fraught with too much bias for just one post.

    Newsbusters remains determine to shred apart Time's Person of the Year feature article because it was too nice to the Person of the Year. So far, Newsbusters has posted three separate angry items (including a video of Leader Brent himself!) because--think about this, now--Time's Person of the Year feature was too nice to the Person of the Year.

    And Newsbusters was expecting what exactly? Aren't syrupy worshipful features pretty much what Time's Person of the Year write-ups are all about? Leader Brent says no way. Time never treated Republican presidents like this, he claimed.

    Actually, Time did, and it was just a few short years ago. It's true. Go back to Time's 2002 year-end issue when it toasted, for 4,500 glowing words, the Partnership of the Year between George Bush and Dick Cheney. Trust us, worshipful barely begins to describe the Time treatment.

    A sample:

    With that posture—leaning forward, fists clenched—the Bush Administration has promised to set aside a longtime tradition of restraint in waging war, because the danger demands no less. Its members believe that the enemy is mobile and can't be deterred, the targets are soft and can't be protected, and the old rules of battle no longer apply. The war on terror is a war of annihilation, and the President's every instinct tells him that however divided America may be over policy or priorities, this is the only fight that matters.

    And this:

    But in the national crisis, when all the bright lights came up on the White House stage, there was a chance to rewrite the rules, rewire the whole Executive Branch. Bush had the zeal to make the war on terrorism his mission; Cheney provided the theology.

    And:

    What two people have in common may bring them together, but what makes them different tells their fortune. Some of history's most powerful partnerships are not friendships, and this is true of Bush and Cheney.

    And:

    "Together [Bush and Cheney] are leading us along a rough road with sharp curves, and while we may argue about where we're heading, we have no choice but to follow, because a nation fights as one."

    And:

    However anxious they may be, most Americans are inclined to give Bush the benefit of the doubt; they trust his motives and approve of his performance. In war, it's not enough for people to like Bush; they have to follow him, and for many, that's easier when he has Cheney marching at his side.

    P.S. Is anybody else completely creeped out reading this kind of thinly veiled agitprop again, and being reminded just how mindlessly pro-war the mainstream media often was in late 2002?

  • Note to WaPo: The FBI is investigating a big Norm Coleman donor

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    First it was the AP that dragged its feet over the Minneapolis story, which broke amidst the ongoing Coleman/Al Franken recount. And now we see the WaPo remains silent. To date, nothing in the newspaper of Beltway record about the FBI investigating a wealthy donor of a sitting U.S. senator for trying to improperly funnel money to the senator's family.

    Last time we checked, that was news.

  • Let the Clinton Foundation guilt by association begin, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We see the New York Post treated the release of the donor list like its own Festivus celebration. Dick Morris thinks the names raise all kinds of headaches for Hillary. (You didn't see that one coming, did you?)

    Aside from the Post's signature breathless innuendo, we were struck by the daily's creepy obsession with the fact that millions of the Clinton Foundation money came from donors in the Middle East. The Post just assumed that the revelation was wildly damaging to Clinton. And perhaps its readers know they're supposed to recoil at the news that wealthy Arabs from allied countries gave millions to a foundation that helps poor people around the word, but we thought it was odd.

    Just a few Post lowlights:

    -"SHEIK-ING THE MONEY TREE"

    -"It's time to get Bubba fitted for a burnoose."

    -"Desert-dwelling donors"

    -"in what could be called the world's biggest sheik shakedown"

    -"Clinton finally said "open sesame" to his foundation's books"

    And yes, this was language used in a news article. (Of all the newspapers facing bankruptcy, why can't the Post be one of them?)

    Meanwhile, we loved this quote about the Clintons from a former Reagan adviser:

    "People may say, well, even if they are not sharing the same bed at night, they still may talk to each other and it doesn't look right," [Harvey] Sicherman said.

    Stay classy, NY Post.

  • Hey CNN, where's the pork?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Blogger Bill Scher does a thorough and important dissection of a recent CNN.com story that purported to examine possible pork layered into infrastructure spending requests recently made big city mayors.

    There's nothing wrong with that premise in terms of good enterprise reporting. The problem, according to Scher, was that CNN simply gave a platform to conservative partisans to sound off about "pork" without providing a larger context.

    For instance, the CNN article raised red flags because:

    A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found...Those projects -- plus money for aquatic centers, museums, bike paths, zoos, skateboard parks, dog and equestrian parks, police department stun guns, tree planting and murals -- total $376.5 million.

    Noted Scher:

    1) Do the math. CNN claims the mayors' request includes $376.5 million of "pork." But the entire request totals $73.2 billion.

    That means one-half of one percent of the proposal is pork, and 99.5% are solid requests.