New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt on the paper's coverage of Game Change:
The Times has treated "Game Change" as news, but carefully: a review in the daily paper that raised the sourcing issues; a Sunday review; coverage of Reid's apology and Republican attempts to capitalize on it; an essay on the death of loyalty among political staffers; and another on the damage to the image of Elizabeth Edwards, portrayed in the book as "an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman."
Judith Warner, who wrote the Style section column about Elizabeth Edwards, said she did not try to verify what the book said because she was examining the issue of image. It's too bad she did not try, because on the same day her column appeared, former aides to Edwards told Politico, on the record, that the book's portrayal was accurate but incomplete, failing to capture her warmer side.
Well, that's a lame defense. How, exactly, do you "examine the issue of image" without exploring the accuracy of that image? You can do it, but you're left with an awfully shallow examination.
And, in fact, Warner's column wasn't exactly silent on the question of Game Change's accuracy. Here's how she began:
YET another illusion has been shattered.
In a new book about the 2008 presidential campaign, "Game Change," Elizabeth Edwards is portrayed as "an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman," and nothing like her image as "St. Elizabeth."
That certainly sounds like she's endorsing Game Change's portrayal of Edwards, doesn't it?
Today's Times headline:
G.O.P. Envisions Northeast Comeback
Number of independent political analysts quoted: 0
Number of Democrats quoted: 0.
Curse that liberal media!
According to New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt, Times columnist Maureen Dowd disputes much of what Game Change claims about her and David Geffen -- and says the book's authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, neither interviewed her nor checked all of their facts with her:
According to "Game Change," Dowd persuaded Geffen to give her an interview by telling him that, when it was over, if he did not want her to use it, she would not. She read the finished column to Geffen, the book said, warned him it would be explosive and asked if he wanted to take back anything. If true, Dowd would, in effect, have surrendered editorial control to her source, an unacceptable situation.
The book also implied that Dowd attended a private $2,300-per-person Obama fund-raiser the following night. Afterward, it said, she was among a small group of 35 who "repaired to Geffen's mansion" for a dinner for the Obamas.
Dowd said it didn't happen that way. "I never gave David Geffen veto power over the column," she said. She said she did not read the column to him, warn him that it would be explosive or ask if he wanted to take back his words, and she did not attend the Hollywood fund-raising event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She was a guest at the dinner later, she said, although the candidate's camp sought to have her barred.
Dowd said that, as is often her practice, she told Geffen which quotes she was using and checked them for accuracy and context. He had been unsure whether he wanted to say some of the things he told her but agreed to all of it, she said.
Geffen, who did not want to get embroiled in a controversy among journalists, would only say: "I don't think anyone imagines Maureen would allow anyone to edit her column. I certainly didn't."
Dowd said the authors did not interview her for the book but that Halperin called at some point to "check a few - but not all - of the details."
* The convoluted sourcing rules used by Halperin & Heilemann, in particular their bizarre explanation of how they came to quote Harry Reid, have inspired the derisive phrases "Halperin background" and "Halperin deep background." It may be time for "Halperin facts" -- things that might be true, but require blind faith in Mark Halperin.
Just the latest example of how once neutral (and once deeply respected) WSJ newsroom now openly leans right in the wake of its Rupert Murdoch purchase.
In Saturday's newspaper, the Journal reported on Obama's 90-minute sparring session with House Republicans which was covered on national TV. The near universal, chattering class consensus was that Obama came out out the winner. In fact, GOP aides privately conceded they never should have allowed TV cameras to broadcast the event, because of how well Obama performed. (How well? So well Fox News had to cut away from it.)
But take a look at how the Journal "reported" the event:
Privately, Republicans welcomed the exchanges, many of which turned on policy nitty-gritty. The meeting elevated members of the House minority to Mr. Obama's footing and neutralized the Democratic line that the GOP is "the party of 'No,' " said one Republican strategist.
Surprise! According to an anonymous GOP strategist, the session was a success for the GOP.
A couple things. Why on earth would the Journal grant anonymity to a GOP strategist who's simply pushing obvious talking points? (i.e. Our side did great.) Is that really such coveted information that the Journal should allow the source to go un-named?
But secondly, and more importantly, what did Democrats "privately" think of the session? Oops, the Journal forgot to find out. Murdoch's daily only quotes a GOP strategist to find out how the session went.
It's funny how liberal media critics are always proven right.
James O'Keefe released a statement yesterday in which he pushed the it-was-just-a-prank defense for being charged with intent to commit a felony in Sen. Mary Landrieu's office.
O'Keefe claims he was just doing what journalists do; uncovering wrongdoing and that, yeah, maybe he picked the wrong method. Basically the point was to paint himself as a victim, which makes sense since he's Andrew Breitbart's proud protégé. (Just so you know, Breitbart pays O'Keefe a regular salary but apparently has no idea what stories O'Keefe is actually working on.)
But O'Keefe's statement also spends a lot of time justifying the caper by making false claims about his previous ACORN work, and false claims about Landrieu. And that's where Firedoglake blogger Marcy Wheeler (aka emptywheel) comes in, as she systematically dismantles his thin claims.
-O'Keefe claims he "revealed the massive corruption and fraud perpetrated by ACORN."
-O'Keefe claims Landrieu was guilty of "taking millions of federal dollars in exchange for her vote on the care bill."
-O'Keefe claims Landrieu had insisted her phone lines were "broken."
-O'Keefe claims he and his pals visited Landrieu's office simply to "ask" if the phones didn't work.
To say that Breitbart and O'Keefe are completely out of their league with Wheeler would be the Understatement of the Week. And while I'd love to read their point-by-point response, I doubt they have the nerve to try. (Facts aren't the duo's friends.)
UPDATED: Louisiana's Republican Gov., Bobby Jindal, has condemned O'Keefe's infiltration of Landrieu's office [emphasis added]:
Jindal, who is not known to have a particularly close relationship with Landrieu, said the maneuver was "not acceptable" and said he trusted the federal law enforcement system to "punish those actions."
Didn't Jindal get the Breitbart memo? O'Keefe is the victim here.
From a column for the January 30 print edition of The Washington Times:
What is easy to verify is how soft the Obama administration continues to be on terrorists. No waterboarding (not even when a grubby bewhiskered terrorist clearly needs a bath), no harsh questioning. No fair treating such a soldier of Allah like FDR was willing to treat a soldier of the Nazis or a Shinto warrior during World War II.
As part of his ongoing rant against progressives, Glenn Beck argued on his Fox News show tonight that the creation of the Federal Reserve System was a progressive perversion of the Constitution as the Founders envisioned it. Beck stated that the creation of the Federal Reserve System "flew right in the face of our Founders" because Thomas Jefferson "argued that the central bank was, quoting, 'one of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and forms of our Constitution,' end quote."
While Jefferson did oppose the creation of the First Bank of the United States -- the nation's first central bank -- Alexander Hamilton, another Founder and author of many of the Federalist Papers, strongly supported the bank and wrote an opinion declaring the bank to be within the federal government's constitutional powers. Congress passed the statute creating the bank in 1791, and George Washington signed the statute into law, after considering both Hamilton and Jefferson's views.
The Second Bank of the United States was created during the presidency of James Madison -- another Founder and Federalist Papers author. Although Madison opposed the creation of the first bank, he changed his mind as president and signed the legislation creating the second bank. The constitutionality of the bank was upheld by the Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819.
Media Matters for America has previously documented Beck's false statements about the Federal Reserve System.
As part of his thoroughly ahistorical and lunatic smear-job tonight against the Progressive movement of the early 20th century, Beck and his panel of "experts" attacked progressives for, in his view, rewriting history for their own purposes:
BECK: [Woodrow Wilson] also was a guy who helped change history. If I'm not mistaken it was during his administration that a group of professors, I think from Columbia, progressive professors, got together and said "You know what? Our founders were racist white people. What do you say?" And they decided to really make progress we had to detach from the history that we had and make progress from that. Can you tell that story?
LARRY SCHWEIKART, HISTORIAN: History becomes a tool for the present to affect the future. It no longer becomes a means of looking at the past, but it becomes an active weapon to change society.
Stupid? Yes. But useful, in that it set up one of Beck's other guests to accidentally expose Beck's ridiculous hypocrisy later in the program. As the show ended, Beck bemoaned the fact that documents like the Federalist Papers are somewhat inaccessible in the way that they were written:
BECK: You know what the problem is, honestly? I think guys like you, I think we need really smart people that can take the Federalist Papers and rewrite them for the common man. Rewrite them, change the language. I read George Washington's farewell address, which is brilliant, but I don't know how anybody listened to these guys back then, because it's really difficult. You know what I mean? If we rewrite these things in common language people can access them again a lot easier.
BURTON FOLSOM JR., HISTORIAN: Of course, that's what the progressives tried to do, rewrite them so that the common man could understand them.
BECK: [mockingly] It's just that the common people are so stupid, you know. We'll be back. Final thoughts in just a second.
So how great is this? Beck, after attacking progressives for rewriting history for their own purposes, advocates that conservatives rewrite history for their own purposes, and gets called out by his own guest. Caught in an obvious bit of hypocrisy, he shifts to mocking progressives for thinking the "common people are so stupid," even though not five seconds earlier he was saying that the language of the Founding Fathers was too complicated for the common man to understand.
And let's not forget that the last time Beck attempted to rewrite a founding document to make it more accessible to the masses, he ended up inadvertently endorsing a Constitutional provision that protected the slave trade.
This is really all you need to know about Beck's treatment of history -- hypocritical, factually vacant, and an expression of his own cynical view of the subject.
The American Seniors Association, which bills itself "as the conservative alternative to the AARP," is using the Fox News brand to promote and sell tickets for an upcoming benefit.
On its website, ASA is running the headline, "Please Join Fox News Commentator," which links to a press release announcing that Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris will appear at a $125 - $1,000 fundraiser for the conservative group. This is not the first time that Morris has helped fundraise for conservative causes or against Democrats.
ASA does not say whether Morris is receiving a speaking fee. One agency lists Morris' speaking fee within the range of $20,000 to $25,000, while another lists $15,000 to $25,000. In December 2008, Morris headlined a fundraising luncheon for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania; FEC records show that the state party gave a $10,000 "Party Fundraiser - Speaker Fee" to Triangulation Strategies, a group affiliated with Morris.
In addition to agreeing to appear at ASA's fundraiser, Morris has promoted ASA and touted the benefits of its membership on-air. From Hannity on August 31, 2009:
HANNITY: You're really focused in on this, because you brought it up now a number of times. Do you really think that this debate is going to be won or lost based on the elderly in this country? And now here's what we know. We know that, in droves, people are leaving the AARP.
HANNITY: There's another alternative, more conservative group that they're going to.
MORRIS: The American Seniors Association.
HANNITY: American Seniors Association.
MORRIS: And AmericanSeniorsAssociation.com. I sent out an e-mailing from my list promoting that. The guy named Barton. Stuart Barton was the head of it.
HANNITY: You know what's.
MORRIS: And they offer health insurance, by the way. You don't have to give that up.
Morris' syndicated column also urged readers to "join the American Seniors Association, the alternative group; contact [ASA email address]." Given his history, it's certainly fair to wonder whether these promotions by Morris were motivated by outside financial incentives.
Previously, Morris, without any apparent objection from Fox News bosses, repeatedly urged Fox viewers to visit his website to help pay for ads against Democrats and Democratic efforts; and during the 2008 election cycle, Morris promoted and asked viewers to donate to GOPTrust.com without disclosing that the organization paid $24,000 to a company apparently connected to Morris.
The ethics of media figures receiving speaking fees has been debated and discussed for years, but at least one Fox News host doesn't believe in paid speaking engagements because of questions about conflicts of interest. On the Record host Greta Van Susteren emailed Harpers in June of 2008 that she doesn't accept speaking fees "because I fear conflicts (you and I probably think a lot alike about this) and I get paid well at my job anyway. I would like all journalists to list monthly online where they have given speeches and for what amounts of money."
Yet Van Susteren, like her bosses at Fox News, has repeatedly allowed Morris to tout his conflict-of-interest promotions about "how to fight" Democratic efforts.
Morris may argue that he's not a journalist, and instead is a "political analyst" or commentator who's just paid to give his opinions. But that distinction reportedly didn't matter to Fox News executives with fellow employee Mike Huckabee, who reportedly was asked to stop plugging his website "on the air after learning that it linked to his political action committee, which the network deemed a conflict of interest." For some reason, that ban hasn't extended to Morris.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his January 29 sponsors, in the order they appeared: