• The media's search for campaign drama

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Led them to hype all kinds of story lines, including the Bradley Effect, writes Daniel Menaker at Huffpost:

    It's as if opiniators in print, on TV, and online were scientists hoping for a big natural explosion, and when it didn't happen, or not enough of it happened to feed the media kitty, they interfered with the experiment they were observing by enriching the uranium themselves.

  • Request for David Broder, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Again with the town hall debate moaning?

    We mentioned last week that Broder has been incessant with his complaint about the series of town hall forums John McCain wanted to have never took place and how they never took place. For Broder, the forums could've changed everything and they represent one of the most important issues of the entire campaign. For real.

    Well, Broder's back today to take another whack:

    That was one of many disappointments in the general election. A potentially captivating experience was lost when Obama declined McCain's invitation to join him in weekly town halls, to stand together and answer voters' questions.

    Personally, we saw the one town how forum the two candidates agreed to, and we're not sure we would've wanted to watch nine more.

    Steve Benen has more on what he calls the "town hall myth."

  • Now O'Reilly is concerned about a lapdog press?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    O'Reilly's afraid if Obama wins the press won't act as a government watchdog:

    The collusion of a far left Congress to a far left media to a far left media being sympathetic to them makes me a little uneasy because there's no check and balance there, it all goes out the window. The media is supposed to be the check and balance on the Congress and there isn't any check anymore. They are actively rooting and promoting and that's what we have

    Because, y'know, the press did such a stellar job keeping Republicans honest for th last eight years, right?

    Crooks and Liars has much more.

  • The WaPo and the Bush legacy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Extremely timid offering on the Post's A1 today about how Bush is feeling during the closing days of his presidency, as he bounces along the lowest regions of job disapproval any U.S. president has ever registered. (He's surprisingly sanguine!)

    The story basically offers Bush apologists a forum to claim the president's been unfairly attacked and that "his closest advisers are confident that history "will remember him well."" Whatever.

    But this misleading passage especially caught our eye:

    Others inside and outside the administration, however, say the upbeat talk masks disappointment and frustration among many White House staffers, who believe Bush's reputation has been unfairly maligned for a series of calamities -- from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the financial crisis -- that were beyond his control and which he handled well.

    If we had to assemble a list of "calamities" for which Bush has been blamed, we don't think the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 would even make the top ten. Yes, there's been healthy debate over the years about whether the Bush White House paid enough attention to anti-terrorism initiatives and how the FBI ignored lots of tell-tale signs that trouble was brewing.

    But in general, I don't think Bush's reputation has been "maligned" by 9/11. It's been maligned by everything that happened after 9/11. The way he was unable to secure Afghanistan, decided to lead the U.S. into war with Iraq, tried to privatize Social Security, completely botched Hurricane Katrina relief, and on and on and on.

    It's puzzling that the Post would point to 9/11 as an example.

  • Liberal media bias is the fault of conservatives

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Or something like that.

    It's getting very confusing in terms of tracking the studies that purport to show 'positive' and 'negative' coverage of the campaign. The latest to lay out its findings is Center for Media and Public Affairs, which claims that after watching the evening news broadcasts have favored Obama over McCain.

    According to the AP:

    Comments made by sources, voters, reporters and anchors that aired on ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts over the past two months reflected positively on Obama in 65 percent of cases.

    The Center's Robert Lichter sounds surprised by the findings [emphasis added]:

    For whatever reason, the media are portraying Barack Obama as a better choice for president than John McCain. If you watch the evening news, you'd think you should vote for Obama.

    Two slightly monumental problems with that way of thinking. First, Republican John McCain went from being tied in the polls in September to trailing by double-digits in October, so of course the coverage of his campaign is going to be more 'negative' because it's headed south. That seems self-evident.

    The second problem is the methodology that Lichter's Center used. As the AP explained:

    When NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported Oct. 1 that some conservatives say that Sarah Palin is not ready for prime-time, that's marked in the negative column for McCain.

    Re-read that and let it sink in. When conservatives criticized the GOP ticket on the evening news, that was chalked up as negative coverage in the Center's study. Yet now conservatives are going to use that study to claim the networks have a liberal bias.

    Neat trick, eh?

  • The trouble with blaming the liberal media this time around

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    There's no question that if McCain loses on Tuesday, conservatives are going to embrace their favorite meme about how the liberal media bent over backwards during the campaign to sink the GOP ticket; how the press ganged up on Republicans.

    The hitch this time around, as Brian Normoyle details at HuffPost, is that it's been conservative writers at the front of the line critiquing McCain/Palin in recent weeks. So how is that the fault of "the liberal media"?

  • Chris Mattews' memory isn't so good

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Livingblogging a Q&A with Chris Matthews from Nathans restaurant in Georgetown this week, Mediabistro's fishbowl DC caught this exchange:

    On McCain campaign: "They think they can win by attacking the media. ... It's never worked before."

    Hmm, no campaign has ever won the White House by attacking the media? Was Matthews not around four years ago when the Bush/Cheney campaign was pretty much built around attacking the media? Or did Cheney banning a New York Times reporter off his campaign plane not count as attacking the press?

    Ironically, Matthews earlier in the Q&A announced, "I sometimes think my memory's too good."

  • Politico plays dumb about right-wing bloggers

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Ben Smith puts together a round-up of all the nasty rumors that have surfaced about Obama and McCain during the campaign and notes that Politico reporters have been inundated with emails from partisans demanding they investigate the stories, which are mostly just conspiracy theories.

    This is an important topic and could have been a chance for Politico to pull back the curtain on the behavior of right-wing bloggers during his election cycle who have been pushing some of the flimsiest and loopiest conspiracies ever recorded. It could have been chance for Politico to document how the right-wing bloggers have become a joke.

    It could have been, but that's now how the Beltway press treats right-wing bloggers. Instead, the Beltway press prefers to look away when partisan GOP bloggers embarrass themselves, as they've done continuously this campaign.

    Smith never even types up the phrase "right-wing bloggers" and in fact he never even mentions them in his article. (He does though, call out the "die-hard pro-Hillary section of the blogosphere" for shoddy behavior.) His article also strains mightily to pretend the anti-Obama and anti-McCain conspiracy theories were roughly equal in number this season. (i.e. Smith presents three targeting each candidate.)

    Basically, it's a whitewash.

    What's curious is that Smith himself last week linked to a definitive blog post by Jon Swift, which cataloged all the idiotic anti-Obama rumors the bloggers chased this season. Rather than amplifying those findings in his rumor article, Smith just ignored them.

    Since Politico won't highlight the smears peddled by conservative blogs this campaign, we will:

    *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'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.

    *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.

    *The Obama campaign conspired with a Los Angeles PR firm to peddle anti-Palin video smears on YouTube.

    *Michelle Obama gave an unsolicited phone interview to an obscure Norway-based news organization in which she railed against "American white racists" trying to derail her husband's campaign.

    That's what right-wing bloggers have been obsessing about this campaign. But Politico remains mum.