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  • Fox's Garrett uncritically quoted from McCain ad mischaracterizing Obama's position on sex education

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News' Major Garrett uncritically quoted a portion of an ad by Sen. John McCain's campaign that claimed that Sen. Barack Obama's biggest accomplishment on education was teaching "comprehensive sex education to kindergartners." Garrett gave no explanation of Obama's actual position on sex education, provided no response from the Obama campaign, and gave no indication that he had sought such a response, nor did Garrett note that the bill Obama supported would have required school sexual education programs to give "age and developmentally appropriate" materials and instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and included material warning children about sexual predators.

  • Infrastructure

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Ezra Klein:

    The Times and the Post will repeat the McCain camp's petty lies and slams without an ounce of critical analysis, not because they believe the spin, but because there's a massive conservative infrastructure devoting to working the refs and getting the coverage the right wants. Try as David Brock and John Podesta may, Media Matters and Think Progress just don't have the same level of influence. I absolutely guarantee that if the Ron Fournier situation were reversed - if the AP Washington Bureau were run by a shameless Democratic hack instead of a GOP hack like Fournier - there'd be hell to pay. Howls of "liberal media bias" would be echoing across every talk radio station, the major conservative blogs, Fox News, and into the mailboxes, real and virtual, of every Republican voter. The bureau chief would be gone or tamed within a week or two. As it currently stands, Fournier still has his job, and he's still doing it as badly as you'd expect. Liberals just aren't as good at ref intimidation.

    Part of the reason why this is true is that the Right realizes that it isn't enough for the Media Research Center and Accuracy In Media and the Heritage Foundation to engage in media criticism. They all do it; it's a staple of the entire conservative movement. So the refs get worked every day, by a wide variety of people -- from local activists to the President of the United States. The Republicans are all media critics.

    Progressives understand this much better than they did a few years ago, but there's a long way to go. (Ezra Klein is doing his part: his writing about the media's coverage of the presidential campaign has been excellent lately.)

  • Choices

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER


    Media entities could have had an internal conversation along the lines of: "This is stupid; let's cover the education stuff." Instead, news outlets are either giving McCain evil-genuis points for turning a nothing into a something, or are calling out the McCain campaign for being mean and duplicitous, but in any event, voters on the periphery of the conversation only hear enough to hear the accusations anyway.

    Right. The important thing to remember is that nobody is forcing journalists to behave this way. They choose to do so. They choose to behave in a way that benefits stupid and dishonest claims.

    And they can choose to stop. Or they can choose to continue. But either way, they're making a choice.

  • Fox News' Cameron uncritically reported on McCain ad without noting DNC had denied allegations

    ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    On Fox News, Carl Cameron reported that a McCain campaign ad "will attack the Obama campaign for having sent what it will call a small army of lawyers into Alaska to smear Sarah Palin." But Cameron gave no indication that he had sought any comment from the Obama campaign nor did he note that the DNC has reportedly said the assertion is false and that neither the DNC nor the Obama campaign has sent anyone to Alaska to do research.

  • Scarborough: Media will talk about "[w]hatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive"


    After likening cable TV to "a 500-pound guy looking for a 100-pound burro to get on" and then "rides it until it dies," Chris Matthews said to Joe Scarborough, "I want to ask you, what will we talk about two days from now?" Scarborough replied: "Whatever the McCain campaign wants us to talk about, because the McCain campaign is assertive."

  • Citing no evidence, AP's Pickler purported to know how audience interpreted Obama's remark


    In an article regarding Sen. Barack Obama's recent comment about Sen. John McCain's policies -- "[Y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" -- AP's Nedra Pickler baselessly asserted that Obama's audience "clearly dr[ew] a connection to [Gov. Sarah] Palin's joke even if it's not what Obama meant." However, Pickler provided no evidence for her assessment of the audience's reaction, and, indeed, the interpretation by New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny of the audience's reaction was completely different.

  • "Why do my lips keep flapping and making these noises?"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Tom Tomorrow seems to have anticipated today's news coverage.

    In related matters: MSNBC's Contessa Brewer just asked McCain spokesperson Nancy Pfotenhauer about the McCain camp's lipstick-on-a-pig nonsense: "If it's so important, Nancy, then why aren't we hearing from John McCain and Sarah Palin? They just got finished giving the same stump speeches we've seen over and over again, and did not address this at all. So if it's so important, why aren't we seeing them address it?"

    That's a pretty good question for Pfotenhauer.

    Here's a better question for MSNBC: If it isn't important enough for McCain and Palin to mention it, why is MSNBC treating it as the most important story in the world right now?

  • MSNBC poll about Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment precluded exoneration of Obama or assessment of McCain reaction

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

    MSNBC.com conducted a poll September 9 asking readers "Do you think Sen. Barack Obama went too far with his 'lipstick on a pig' remark?" Not only did the poll frame the question in a way that baselessly presumed Obama was referring to Gov. Sarah Palin, but MSNBC did not offer readers the opportunity to respond that Obama did not go "too far" or to criticize the McCain campaign's reaction to the comments.

  • Hannity baselessly claimed Obama's "lipstick" comment was about Palin -- Huckabee, Wolfson disagree

    ››› ››› MORGAN WEILAND

    On Hannity & Colmes, Mike Huckabee and Howard Wolfson both disagreed with Sean Hannity's claim that Sen. Barack Obama was "talking about [Gov.] Sarah Palin" when he made his "lipstick on a pig" comment. Wolfson asserted: "[T]here's no question that he was referring to [Sen.] John McCain, not Sarah Palin, and I think anything to the contrary is ridiculous."

  • Memo to reporters: You're helping, and you don't have to.

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Jill Zuckman, on MSNBC, about the McCain campaign's "lipstick on a pig" lie: "Even if we all think the charge may be a little bit flimsy, they have got all of us talking about it."

    First, the charge isn't "a little bit flimsy," it's a lie.

    Second: Reporters don't have to play along with this nonsense. They can refuse to report the McCain camp's false attacks. Or they can use their coverage to make clear that this is the latest in a long line of false smears from McCain, and indicative of the kind of campaign he is running, rather than pretending there is some open question about whether Obama called Sarah Palin a pig, or behaving as though the important question is "will the attack work" rather than "what does the lie say about the person telling the lie."

  • Halperin: Media attention to "lipstick on a pig" comment "playing into the McCain campaign's crocodile tears"

    ››› ››› TOM ALLISON

    On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Time's Mark Halperin characterized the recent media attention to Sen. Barack Obama's comment that "[y]ou can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig" as "a low point in the day ... and one of the low days of our collective coverage of this campaign." Halperin went on to say, "I think this is the press just absolutely playing into the McCain campaign's crocodile tears."

  • We love CJR....

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And we link to their excellent campaign media analysis all the time, but we think they got this one wrong. In its item, "Tongue Tied on Religion," CJR criticizes a recent CNN report on Palin's religious beliefs (i.e. as a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God Pentecostal Church) because CNN treats members as odd because they "believe in the end times, a violent upheaval in the world that will bring the second coming of Jesus."

    CJR, suggesting CNN went astray, writes, "Hmmm, don't most Christians believe that? Isn't that the Book of Revelations?"

    The point regarding Palin is, as she tells people in Alaska, she believe the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime. That not only puts her outside the American mainstream in terms of religious beliefs, but it raises all kinds of questions about how her faith might affect her public policy. Meaning, does she not care about drilling all the oil out of Alaska because energy policy isn't going to matter after Christ's return? Would she not shy away from engaging in military conflict in the Middle East since for some, that's a pre-determined sign that Jesus is returning?

    These are legitimate news questions that many reporter have shied away from, we think, precisely because if they raise them they will be criticized for being anti-religion, or condescending toward faith, which is what CJR suggests CNN did in its Palin report.