• Edward Wasserman, please read County Fair

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Miami Herald's Wasserman has a good column about Dan Rather's ongoing detective work regarding Memogate and how his former employer, CBS, stacked the deck when forming its "independent" panel to answer the network's right-wing critics.

    Wasserman notes how little coverage Rather's revelations have received:

    A panel is convened by one of the country's most powerful news organizations to scrutinize the journalism that produced a scathing portrayal of the dubious military record of a sitting president. And the panel is assembled to the specifications of the president's most zealous supporters. To me, that's remarkable. Even scandalous. Surely newsworthy. Yet The New York Times report from which I drew the above details was the only substantial coverage I found.

    Agreed. But just for the record, let's note that CF has been all over the story. Here, here, here and here. And that was all before the NYT came aboard.

  • Slate plays dumb about the Clinton Foundation

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We've noticed lots of news outlets that have done this. When discussing Bill Clinton and the foundation he heads (and there's been lots of discussion lately about possible conflicts of interest with Hillary perhaps becoming SoS), the word that the Beltway media often refuses to use in connection with the foundation is "charity."

    Chris Matthews did this all the time on MSNBC in recent days, relentlessly referring to international "business" connections Bill Clinton has. Charity was almost never mentioned.

    Slate just published a 900-word piece in which writer Christopher Beam insists Clinton close down his foundation because of the "inevitable" financial scandals that will emerge in coming years, and how it would distract from his wife's work as SoS. The tsk-tsking article mentions "foundation" 21 times. But for some reason it only mentions "charity" once. ("Charity" also appears in the pun-driven headline.)

    Interestingly, the piece never actually explains to readers what the Clinton Foundation does. Answer: It helps poor people around the world.

    Why does Slate purposely play dumb about what the Clinton Foundation is? Why does Slate carefully avoid mentioning the Clinton Foundation battles the HIV/AIDS pandemic and fights hunger in Africa? My guess is that makes it easier for Slate to make the cavalier demand that, in order to please Beltway nay-sayers, the foundation must be shut down; that "the Clinton Foundation effectively has to close shop."

    If Slate thinks its narrow definition of conflict of interest trumps helping poor people around the world, than just say so. But don't play dumb in the process.

  • Welcome to the Obama era, Fox News style

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    Its message: We're all doomed.

    Writes Newshouds about FNC's new on-air promo:

    Checkout the explosions. The fires. The terror, despair and anger in people's faces. Listen to the music. Note the countdown at the end (10, 9, 8, etc.) and the explosion that caps it all off. Oh, and look - the only nationally known people pictured are Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.

  • Still waiting for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We're just repeating ourselves at this point, but repetition has it's place. The point here is that the traditional Beltway press literally cannot stop writing about conservative bloggers. Yes, they've been lapped by their liberal counterparts. Yes, they just proved themselves to be incredibly inept and almost completely irrelevant during the White House run. But for the mainstream press, they're a hot story. (Has the losing side ever garnered this much press attention before?)

    The latest outlet that jumped on the bandwagon was the WaPo. That's the same WaPo that, by our calculations, has never published a full-length feature on an A-list liberal blogger. Just sayin'.

    Here's what's really annoying about the Post piece and about all the other, can-the-GOP-figure-out-the-Internet-stories. They all whitewash what today's conservative blogosphere is. For instance, the Post suggests that the reason the netroots took off was because it opposed Bush, and now with Obama in the White House maybe the rightroots will do the same. The Post also mentions that historically conservative bloggers have taken a more top-down approach vs. the organic debate found at Daily Kos.

    So that's it. GOP bloggers have lagged behind because they didn't have an opponent in the White House and they just took a different, top-down approach. Here's what the Post politely failed to mention: Lots of the high-profile conservative bloggers are pretty much insane and they wallow in the most laughable conspiracy theories ever hatched.

    Again, the Post was too nice to mention these, so, with a hat tip to Jon Swift, we'll highlight some of the rightroot's greatest hits from the recent campaign. We think they pretty much answer the question of why conservative bloggers aren't a serious political force in this country. For some reason none of this ever make into the the gee-whiz stories about the 'emerging' rightroots movement.

    Here were just some of the stories (i.e. conspiracy theories) that prominent conservative bloggers chased, at times relentlessly, during the 2008 campaign; stories they complained the mainstream media just wouldn't touch:

    *While attending Columbia University in the early 1980's and interested in the South African divestiture movement, Obama was involved in violent protests, including domestic terrorist bombings, that erupted when a South African rugby team toured America.

    *Obama had an affair with a young female staffer who was promptly exiled to a Caribbean country by an angry Michelle Obama who discovered the blossoming relationship.

    *Obama's deeply personal memoir, Dreams of My Fathers, was actually ghost-written by Bill Ayers, the former '60's radical-turned college professor who befriended Obama in Chicago in the 1990's.

    *Michelle Obama did an interview with something called African Press International where she condemned "American white racists" who were bringing up issues of Obama's citizenship.

    *Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore not eligible to President. The birth certificate his campaign posted online to debunk that story was actually a forgery. And that he was actually born in Kenya.

    *When Obama went to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii in October, he was really traveling there in order to deal with controversy about his birth certificate.

    *Obama was getting answers in the first debate through a clear plastic hearing aid in his ear.

    *Obama is the illegitimate son of Malcolm X.

  • More on Halperin's attack on the "disgusting," pro-Obama press

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    Crooks and Liars has the video from the weekend seminar. Writes

    I have to say, Halperin's line that this was "the most disgusting failure in our business since the Iraq war" is a real piece of chutzpah. Because when there was a chance for the media to do something about properly informing the public about the Iraq war, Halperin -- who had the reins of one of the three major network's news operations at the time -- did nothing. The media's coverage of the war, particularly during the critical runup period, was in fact a historic case of misfeasance that has had disastrous consequences for the nation. And Mark Halperin was a major player in that failure.

  • Politico, please document the "blowback"

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    The headline reads, "Biden replacement creates blowback."

    It's about how Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner appointed Joe Biden's longtime aide Ted Kaufman to Biden's old Senate seat. Kaufman will be up for re-election in 2010 and it's widely thought that Biden son, Beau, Delaware's attorney general, who is currently serving in Iraq, will run in 2010.

    In other words, there's a feeling that other Delaware pols were bypassed in order to keep the seat warm for Beau Biden. (It was a "ham-handed" move, Politico announced.) Hence the "blowback."

    Juicy story, right? Well, except the fact that Politico can't find anybody to quote either on or off the record to back up the claim that the Kaufman pick created blowback within the Democratic Party.

    Actually, strike that. Politico did quote a Republican who claimed the Kaufman pick sparked "bad blood" within the Democratic party.

    And yes, a local, Delaware college prof was quoted saying, the Kaufman pick "is definitely going to be some blowback." [Emphasis added.] Note the verb tense, is going to. But has it? It's very possible that the Kaufman pick has. It's just that Politico can't find any proof, which is why, once again, the outlet is guilty of over-hyping its headlines.

  • Is Power Line joking, or just embarrassing itself again?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's often tough to tell with the conservative blog.

    The latest mystery revolves around its utterly predictable attack on the NYT for being soft on Obama. Specifically, Powerline's Paul Mirengoff takes issues with this passage about Obama's new administration:

    The choices are as revealing of the new president as they are of his appointees -- and suggest that, from its first days, an Obama White House will brim with big personalities and far more spirited debate than occurred among the largely like-minded advisers who populated President Bush's first term.

    Not true, claims Power Line, because "Bush selected as his vice president a personality as big as all outdoors.'

    And yes, we added the emphasis because Power Line claimed that Dick Cheney has a personality as big as all outdoors.

  • Richard Cohen reinvents the recent past

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    Looking back on the Democratic primary, the WaPo columnist is suddenly amazed at all the negative things that were said about Hillary Clinton in the press. Just amazed:

    Remember when Clinton had no integrity, no character, when she lied about almost everything and could be trusted about almost nothing? ...That was a calumny, a libel and a ferocious mugging of memory itself. But it was believed.

    But we're puzzled. Why is it hard to believe it, when back during the primaries Cohen himself was writing it. From his June 3rd column:

    I loathe also what Hillary Clinton has done to herself. The incessant exaggerations, the cheap shots, the flights into hallucinatory history -- that sniper fire in Bosnia, for instance -- have turned her into a caricature of what her caricaturists long claimed she already was. In this campaign, Clinton has managed to come across as a hungry hack, a Janus looking both forward and backward and seeming to stand for nothing except winning. This, too, is sad.

  • NYT's Andrew Ross Sorkin, the CEO's best friend

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    CJR makes a smart point about Tuesday's column from Times financial writer Sorkin. It's the same Sorkin who last week mislead readers--and trashed GM auto workers--by claiming UAW employees enjoyed "gold-plated" benefits.

    This week, Sorkin raises questions about Tim Geithner, Obama's choice for Treasury secretary. Actually, Sorkin allows anonymous Wall Street CEO's to raise questions about Geither. Writes CJR:

    Sorkin is right to ask pointed questions about Geithner, but channeling Wall Street chiefs who were actually in charge of the businesses about why he didn't do better at keeping them from running off the cliff? Come on.