Cabinet & Agencies

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  • About that SCOTUS ruling on indecency

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's the one from yesterday that upheld the FCC's Bush-era attempt to crack down on broadcasters who air even fleeting, live TV references to the F-word, and other banned utterances. The way Bono and Cher both dropped the F-bomb on award telecasts earlier in the decade.

    If we take a step back, the 5-4 conservative ruling really is quite amazing when you consider that ten years ago the FCC had virtually walked away from the business of fining broadcasters for indecency. Today, thanks to a conservative pressure campaign to change the laws, the fines broadcasters face are staggering. And again, not just for lewd, R-rated morning show banter. But for airing live events where anybody (including athletes) curse and it's picked up by microphones.

    That kind of stuff used to get a pass because the FCC had decided that in order for a on-air F-word to be actionable, it had to be used in a sexual manner. In fact, the FCC initially passed on fining the network that aired Bono's acceptance speech profanity ("really, really fucking brilliant") because the "language used by Bono did not describe, in context, sexual or excretory organs or activities and that the utterance was fleeting and isolated." That, according to the FCC's own indecency officer at the time

    For years, the key guidelines the FCC used in determining indecency fines included whether the material described or depicted sexual or excretory organs or activities. And the broadcast in question had to be "patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium."

    In other words, to be indecent the content had to sexually explicit, go on at length and used to titillate. But post-Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, and after the Parents Television Council moved into high gear, the FCC announced that "given the core meaning of the 'F-word,' any use of that word or a variation, in any context, inherently has a sexual connotation" and therefore it was indecent.

    And now, thanks to SCOTUS, that policy change has been upheld. Is the policy change constitutional? Does the FCC have the right to monitor speech on the airwaves? The SCOTUS passed on that this week, but may soon be asked to address the issue.

  • Fox omits Republican role in Sebelius confirmation delay

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    Reporting that "President Obama went golfing and the Department of Health and Human Services is short a secretary, so other U.S. officials took the controls" dealing with the swine flu, FoxNews.com omitted Senate Republicans' role in delaying Kathleen Sebelius' nomination as HHS secretary.

  • CNN's Keilar, caption falsely claimed Geithner's financial takeover request was "unprecedented"

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    CNN correspondent Brianna Keilar, along with several other CNN correspondents and hosts and instances of CNN on-screen text, described Timothy Geithner's proposal for Congress to pass legislation allowing the federal government to take over failing nonbank financial institutions as "unprecedented." In fact, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and FDIC chairman Sheila Bair -- both Bush appointees -- stated in 2008 that the federal government needed and should have such power.

  • Wash. Post contradicts prior reporting in purporting to contrast Clinton and Bush U.S. attorney dismissals

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

    Contradicting its own prior reporting, The Washington Post asserted that when Bill Clinton "took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once," while George W. Bush "took a different approach, slowly releasing several of the prosecutors." But the Post previously reported that "Bush and ... Clinton each dismissed nearly all U.S. attorneys upon taking office." Indeed, Bush moved to replace almost all of Clinton's U.S. attorneys within the first five months of his term in office, according to a 2001 Justice Department press release.

  • Wash. Post latest to omit Sebelius' Catholic support

    ››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH

    A Washington Post article quoted the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute saying of secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius: "That she is a dissident Catholic is a further slap in the face to Catholics and the Catholic Church." But the article did not note that President Obama's selection of Sebelius has received support from Catholics United and numerous other Catholics.

  • Limbaugh accused Sebelius of blocking KS tax refunds, ignoring Republicans' budget demands

    ››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

    On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius "at one point was refusing to send out money that Kansas taxpayers had overpaid." In fact, after Kansas halted payments in February on $12 million in tax returns due to budget shortfalls, Republicans in the state legislature refused to approve Sebelius' proposal to transfer money between state accounts in order to pay tax refunds, state employees, schools, and health-care providers until she approved hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts.

  • Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    My latest column is now online. The piece, titled Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012, which has already been picked up by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, looks at media coverage of the emerging battle over the 2010 U.S. Census which will have a profound impact in 2012 potentially deciding the control of Congress for years to come. Check it out and be sure to post a comment and let me know what you think.

    Down for the Count: The Real Fight for 2012

    By Karl Frisch

    The fight for 2012 is here. Beltway media insiders rejoice!

    Who's it going to be? Spunky Sarah? Moneyed Mitt? Holy Huckabee? Some dark-horse candidate flying under the radar? One thing is for sure: While the media clamors for every tiny detail in the looming battle for the Republican presidential nomination, the real fight for 2012 is taking place right before their very eyes.

    Continue Reading...

  • On Weekend Edition, Simon and Schorr misrepresented census policies of Clinton, Obama

    ››› ››› LILY YAN

    On Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR's Scott Simon and Daniel Schorr suggested that the Commerce Department under President Clinton was opposed to calls by "minority groups and the black caucus" to use statistical sampling for the decennial census. In fact, the Clinton administration did plan to use sampling for the 2000 census. Additionally, Schorr claimed that the Obama White House said that the census "won't be under the Department of Commerce. We'll take it to the White House." But the Obama administration has repeatedly denied that it intends to "remov[e] the census from the Department of Commerce."

  • In an article about bipartisanship, the WashPost only quotes Republicans

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Headline: "Gregg's Withdrawal Becomes a Partisan Issue."

    What do Democrats thinks of Judd Gregg's peculiar decision to belatedly walk away from an Obama cabinet post and what it means for Obama's bipartisan outreach? Readers don't know because the Post doesn't care what Democrats think. The newspaper only quotes Republicans about Gregg and the issue of partisanship.

    Classic, right? And doesn't that pretty much sum up the one-sided reporting and punditry on the topic of partisanship in recent weeks?