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?
The Washington Times falsely suggested that a 1999 Supreme Court case decided that the Constitution barred the government from using statistical sampling to apportion congressional seats. In fact, the Supreme Court concluded that "the Census Act" -- a congressional statute -- "prohibits the proposed uses of statistical sampling in calculating the population for purposes of apportionment. Because we so conclude, we find it unnecessary to reach the constitutional question presented."
CNN's Jessica Yellin stated that the Obama administration's decision to strengthen White House oversight of the census was one of "two big issues" leading Sen. Judd Gregg to end his nomination for secretary of commerce. In fact, Gregg has said that the "census was only a slight catalyzing issue," and "not a major issue." He also called it a "slight issue" and said "[i]t wasn't a big enough issue for me to even discuss what the issue was."
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked Bob Schieffer if Sen. Judd Gregg's withdrawal as commerce secretary nominee "raise[s] issues about the Obama administration's vetting process." Schieffer responded: "Well, I don't think it can help but do that." Neither noted that in a press release announcing his withdrawal, Gregg stated that "nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision."
The Politico uncritically reported Rep. Darrell Issa's charge that Rep. David Obey "failed to divulge that his son Craig," a senior vice president of the National Parks Conservation Association, "was lobbying him on the economic recovery package." The Politico did not note that Obey's office has denied that his son lobbied his committee or that the funding for parks was reportedly included by Rep. Norm Dicks.
Travels With Barack: The president hits the road to sell the stimulus package, and finds a surprisingly lack of cynicism along the way.
Perhaps spending too much time inside the anti-stimulus Beltway press bubble, the Newsweek reporter expresses amazement:
The president's town-hall audiences display a discernable lack of cynicism about politics, government and the capacity for D.C. to change under his stewardship. For years, polls have shown the deep disillusionment most Americans feel with the political process and with their representatives in D.C. But when Obama announced midway through Tuesday's Ft. Myers town-hall meeting that the Senate had voted to pass the stimulus package, the crowd cheered. And it wasn't just polite applause for the president's pet project. It was a loud, enthusiastic standing ovation for a piece of legislation. It's hard to recall the last time Congress, which has been haunted by dim approval ratings, received boisterous acclaim for passing a bill.
Don't these town hall attendees watch cable TV? Don't they know it's just a wasteful spending bill?
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A Wall Street Journal article mischaracterized a section of H.R. 1, stating: "In a staff report describing the bill, the House said treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive 'will no longer be prescribed.' " However, neither the House discussion draft nor the House bill implements federal requirements banning the use of "treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive." In fact, the section of the bill the article referenced establishes a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research and calls for funding to "be used to accelerate the development and dissemination of research assessing the comparative effectiveness of health care treatments and strategies."
CNN, along with much of the Beltway press, was busy yesterday hyping what might happen when Democrats in the House and Senate met to negotiate the final stimulus bill:
Now that the Senate has passed its economic recovery package, it's time for the really hard part -- trying to reconcile the differences between House and Senate versions of the plan without losing the support needed to pass the final version in both chambers. Senate Democrats are downplaying talk of a contentious battle ahead.
Well, so much for for bitter negotiations battle. Reminds me of how the press was hyping the "bruising" battle that was supposed to unfold around Eric Holder's AG confirmation hearing. That too, never materialized.
The press sure likes to stress how badly things might get for Dems, no?
NBC News' John Yang baselessly suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing an agreement on the economic recovery bill because she "has a congressional delegation trip to Italy scheduled to leave on Friday, and of course, the speaker's maiden name is D'Alesandro, and she would dearly love not to miss that trip." In fact, Pelosi has said, "If we don't have [a bill] by the time of the Presidents recess, there will be no recess."
Today, it's in the form of a brief editorial (no link found) headlined "Obama's Press List," which chastised Obama for referring to a list of reporters he was going to call on during his Monday press conference
The President was running down a list of reporters pre-selected to ask questions. the White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.
We actually agree with the main point; that presidents ought not to use cheat sheets at press conferences for the simple task of calling on reporters. (It tends to cheapen the process.) But the Journal then immediately drove into a ditch when it claimed Obama's predecessor would have never done something like that:
We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with pre-screening his interlocutors.
Except, of course, when Bush did pre-screen his queries, like during his primetime news conference on the eve of war with Iraq in 2003. From Lapdogs [emphasis added]:
At one point while making his way through the press questioners, Bush awkwardly referred to a list of reporters who he was instructed to call on. "This is scripted," he joked. The press laughed. But Bush meant it was scripted, literally. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer later admitted he compiled Bush's cheat sheet, which made sure he did not call on reporters from some prominent outlets like Time, Newsweek, USA Today, or The Washington Post.
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Rachel Sklar offered up an interesting take on the comparison, in the wake of Tapper's "pissing" match last with WH flak Robert Gibbs. (Tapper pretty much lectured Gibbs following a rather mundane exchange between the two. Y'know, just like reporters used to lecture Ari Fleischer back in February 2001.....)
According to Sklar, the much-discussed scuffle caused quite a tizzy inside the press room.
Tapper won that point—we've seen just how pertinent it is to Cabinet nominees that they pay their taxes—but with it came something else: the title of Briefing Room Badass.
And then came the inevitable comparison with NBC's David Gregory. Reported Sklar:
No less than three separate Washington political reporters spontaneously compared him to Gregory, who made his name being a thorn in the side of various White House press secretaries.
Interesting point. But here's where the lack of context comes in within the WH press room. The Tapper/Gibbs exchange took place during the third week of the Obama administration. David Gregory however, did not make a name for himself as a thorn in the side of the Bush White House until like four years after Bush was sworn into office.
Interesting, right? The WH press corps is all atwitter just days into the Democratic term over who's going to be the official press room "Badass" during the Democratic administration. But that's something nobody in the same press room even thought about becoming until 50 months into Bush's tenure.
No double standard there, right?
In fact, get this. During the first 100 days of the Bush White House back in 2001, Gregory, rather than being a pitbull, was honored by the right-wing Media Research Center as the Best White House Correspondent for Gregory's pro-Bush coverage.
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A Wall Street Journal editorial falsely suggested that, unlike President Obama, former President Bush never used "a list of reporters preselected to ask questions" when deciding who to call on at presidential press conferences. In fact, Bush also used such a list, as former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters in a March 2003 press briefing.