A running joke among the progressive blogosphere for the past several years has been that the news media interprets everything as good news for Republicans. Sometimes, a specific Republican was lucky enough to benefit from everything that happened, as with the months-long stretch during the GOP presidential primaries when event after event was deemed to redound to Rudy Giuliani's benefit. His great good fortune notwithstanding, Giuliani fell 1,191 delegates short of the 1,191 required for the nomination.
The single most astounding example of the media's habitual search for the silver lining on even the darkest storm clouds hovering over the GOP may have been the time in 2006 when NBC's Matt Lauer suggested President Bush's unpopularity might be "a blessing in disguise for Republicans in these midterm elections?" It turned out to be a heck of a disguise: Republicans lost 30 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. Then, last November, some media figures actually tried to argue that the presidential election results carried good news for the GOP.
If everything is good news for the Republicans, it must follow that everything is bad news for Democrats. And so the media often set up comically transparent lose-lose situations for them.
Last month, for example, several reporters criticized president-elect Obama for honoring Patrick Fitzgerald's request that he not disclose contacts between his staff and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. But it could not possibly be more obvious that if Obama had blown off Fitzgerald's request, the media would react with a frenzy of suggestion that he had improperly impeded Fitzgerald's investigation.
Today, the Politico sets up another lose-lose for Obama:
Barack Obama will lay out his vision for a massive economic stimulus plan in meetings with congressional leaders Monday. Perhaps more important, he'll be taking a major step toward rebuilding the broken relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch.
Doing so will be critical to the success of his agenda.
If Obama seems unwilling to take lawmakers' ideas into account, he could risk whatever goodwill he's getting from the GOP and irk Democrats expecting to play a big role in a new Washington. But if Obama bends to the demands of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, the public could perceive him as a weak president even before he takes the oath of office.
So, if Obama "seems unwilling" to listen to Congress, he'll lose. And if he does listen to them, he loses, too. Gosh, isn't there any way for Obama to be successful?
If Obama manages to pull off the neat trick of bending to the demands of both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, the Politico suggests the public could perceive him as "weak" before he is even sworn in. As a colleague noted this morning, if that were to happen, it would likely be for little reason other than that media like the Politico keep baselessly repeating the possibility.
Though "possibility" is probably a generous choice of words. The most recent CNN poll found that 82 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his transition. 84 percent have "some" or "a lot" of confidence in Obama's ability to provide "real leadership for the country." Other polls show similar levels of approval of and confidence in Obama.
If, as Politico suggests may happen, the public is going to perceive Obama as "a weak president even before he takes the oath of office," they better show some hustle - they have only 15 days left to change their minds about him in huge numbers.
Is it me, or is the Beltway press forever concerned when Democrats play hardball and use tough language in partisan battles with Republicans, in a way that the press never seems to mind when the GOP lets the invective fly?
Sunday's MTP was a perfect example. Host David Gregory pressed U.S. Senate Leader Sen. Harry Reid about tough language he'd used in the past in describing the most unpopular president since modern polling was created nearly one century ago:
Before you go, do you have any regrets about the way you have publicly battled with President Bush? Over the years you've called him a liar, a loser, and you've described him as, quote, our worst president ever.
Reid, for the record expressed no regrets.
What's so odd is that I'm thinking back to January of 2001, and I can't recall the MTP moderator pressing leading Republicans if they had any "regrets" about the nearly non-stop insults they had heaped on the sitting Democratic president, who at the time of his exit was the most popular president to ever leave the Oval Office.
See the double standard? When Harry Reid pointed out a widely accepted fact, that Bush is considered by many to be among the worst president's ever, Gregory wanted to know if the Democrat had any regrets; had he gone too far. But when Republicans spent nearly eight years trying to dehumanize Bill Clinton, MTP remained mostly mum.
BTW: Why did CNN pretend that Reid went on NBC on Sunday and ranted about Bush, calling him the worst president ever? CNN's dispatch clearly suggested that Reid wouldn't let Bush leave office peacefully, when in truth it was Gregory who brought up the old Reid quotes about Bush.
Appearing on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Martin was asked if the new angle of race interjected into the Blago story, in the form of the Roland Burris pick, had been overhyped by the press. Martin said not really and that the press is just happy that the story continues to percolate. That there's additional fodder!
As long as the Beltway press is happy and entertained, right?
The Associated Press reports:
President-elect Barack Obama thought he'd put the bowling jokes behind him.
On the golf course Monday, a woman waiting at the 18th green reminded Obama of his disastrous bowling during the presidential campaign. ...
"That was pretty good, right?" Obama said to cheers as he finished a round of golf near his $9 million rented vacation home near Honolulu.
The woman sitting on a nearby wall shouted, "Better than your bowling."
The woman's quip referred to Obama's embarrassing bowling outing in Pennsylvania, when he knocked down only 37 pins — with the assist during two frames from an 8-year-old. It was an effort to connect with working-class voters, yet he lost Pennsylvania's primary election to Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"Disastrous"? Really? It was a trip to a bowling alley, not a failed amphibious invasion of Cuba. "Disastrous" seems a bit overheated.
And notwithstanding the AP's certainty that Obama's "disastrous" bowling experience destroyed his ability to "connect with working-class voters," the man did, um, win the presidency. Seems like he must have connected with at least a handful of working-class voters along the way. Even some Pennsylvanians, who managed to look past Obama's bowling ability and give him a comfortable general-election win.
Doing its best to prop up the beyond soggy and now practically underwater Blago/Obama "scandal," The Note works feverishly to convince fellow journalists (news consumers are not the target audience here) that they didn't make fools of themselves hyping the non-story for weeks. That the released report showing Obama's team did nothing wrong simply vindicates the media's hyperventilating coverage.
The two key take-aways from The Note's perspective are that the press should feel good about its misleading work, and that the Obama team could have avoided the whole mess if it had simply come clean. And oh yeah, this manufactured story's not over! It's going to "linger." (Sorta like Whitewater?)
In other words, The Note's Rick Klein knowingly concocts fiction and refuses to come clean about the Village's utterly shameful Blago coverage.
And we don't use the word "concocts" lightly. Read this passage [emphasis added]:
To the extent that there's news in the report, it exists in part because Obama and company worked so hard before to convince the public that this president-elect would never be involved in something as parochial and tawdry as playing a role in choosing the next junior senator from Illinois.
Anyone see the irony? Klein claims Obama's message to voters was that he'd never be involved in something like Blago's dirty scheme and that's why this story remains "news." But guess what? Obama isn't involved in Blago's dirty scheme, yet the press claims this is news.
As we've noted before, when it wants to, the press can tell any story it wants.
It's really the right-wing bloggers lone claim to fame in the last four-plus years; they got Dan Rather fired. Liberal bloggers just got a president elected and helped fortified gains in Congress. Right-wing bloggers four years ago got an anchor fired.
We'll take the former, but that's just us.
Now, as Rather's civil case moves through the courts and we learn more and more details about the case, suddenly the right-wing bloggers' claim to fame doesn't look all that dazzling. Their response? Blame the media (a stretch, we know) and claim the press is trying to rewrite history.
LGF is huffing and puffing about this week's NPR story. Specifically, LGF is furious NPR reported that the disputed documents at the center of Memogate have never been proven to be fakes. Liars! shrieks LGF.
Of course, this is one of the great ironies of Memogate: the "independent" panel that investigated the media scandal and which was headed by a longtime Bush family friend, refused to verify that the CBS documents were forgeries. In fact, the lead panel attorney claimed the right-wing bloggers were wrong about the much-heralded document detective work.
Four years later Dan Rather is stating that point often, and that point will likely be made many, many times if and when his civil suit goes to trial, and it's driving the right-wing bloggers bonkers. Which means LGF is back rambling on about fonts and typewriters again.
Guys, it's been four years. Find a new schtick.
From his live chat at WaPo [emphasis added]:
It is amusing, especially since as you point out, Obama himself is opposed to gay marriage. So it's a little much to hyperventilate over Rick Warren. To answer your question: The left hates traditional Christianity. That's the real complaint.
A simple question for WaPo, does Carlson actually get paid to participate in these live chats? Because if somebody like Tucker gets paid to write the following (even for a vacuous WaPo live chat), then we begin to understand why media companies are facing financial woes:
Somebody needs to write a book about why the radical left is so much more interesting and open-minded than your garden variety lifestyle liberal. Whenever I meet a lefty who smokes, or who buy groceries at Safeway rather than Whole Foods, I know we're going to get along.
Whatever you say Tucker.
To trumpet the release of the Obama report regarding Blago contacts, CNN went into hyperventilating mode.
The on-screen graphic [emphasis added]: "Breaking News: Team Obama Reveals Secret Report".
Simple question for CNN, what's secret about the report?
NPR reports on Dan Rather's ongoing court battle with CBS over Memogate. As CF recently detailed, Rather's lawsuit has shed new light on just how far CBS went to make sure its "independent" panel investigating the matter made conservative critics happy; to make sure its principals would "mollify" the right. (CBS considered including Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh on the "independent" panel.) In other words, CBS kowtowed.
NPR asked Andrew Heyward, who was president of CBS News at the time, about the network's desire in 2004 to skew its investigation:
"This was my view of what we needed to do to cauterize the wounds and have a credible result across a broad spectrum, including our harshest critics," Heyward says. "I would do the same thing today."
Walter Robinson, the Boston Globe reporter who first broke the Bush National Guard story in 2000, remains dumbstruck by the CBS kowtowing. He tells NPR:
"It's inexcusable that CBS would attempt to rig the panel...The idea that a serious news network would consider Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh to pass some sort of fair-minded judgment on something — it's mind-boggling."
Somebody should write a book about the press coverage Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been able to manufacture for herself over the last eight years. It's really quite amazing how she managed to sail through the demolition derby that was the Bush administration--and have her fingerprints all over some of its biggest failings--and come out smelling like a rose inside press rooms.
Not only has she managed to escape unscathed from the press, the Beltway press actually adores her and has remained absolutely committed (especially the TV talking heads) to never asking her an uncomfortable question and never, ever asking a pointed follow-up. As we mentioned recently, it's literally become media game: The TV hosts ask innocuous questions to Rice about Iraq. She responds with misleading information knowing full well that her host is never going to call her on it. And then the two dance onto another topic.
So it makes perfect sense that MTP's new hosts David Gregory broke in his chair over the weekend with a "pillow soft" interview with Rice, as Crooks and Liars put it. The display (see it here) really had nothing to do with journalism and everything to do with Gregory subscribing to Beltway social customs.