This past Saturday, February 4, Big Journalism contributor Charles C. Johnson made a novel argument about how the January jobs report proves that the media were wrong about the economic recovery. The crux of Johnson's argument was that "only 125,000 jobs were added in January," a drop-off from December's 200,000 jobs:
But digging a little deeper into these December jobs report finds that 42,000 were Christmas couriers and messengers, one in five of the 200,000 jobs allegedly created during December was shipping and delivering goods. These holiday jobs were hardly the jobs of the future; they weren't even the jobs of the next month.
Indeed, according to CNBC, the jobs report showed that only 125,000 jobs were added in January, compared to 200,000 created in December. This is very bad news and it essentially ends the hope of a recovery as the economy needs to generate 125,000 jobs a month just to stay apace with the growing population.
There's nothing unusual about media conservatives trying to make lemons out of lemonade regarding the improving jobs picture. What set Johnson's argument apart from the others was the curious assertion that the jobs report showed "only 125,000 jobs" were created in January. The BLS report put the number at 243,000, nearly double what Johnson claimed, and an increase from December. What accounts for this discrepancy, upon which the entirety of Johnson's argument was based? Let's take a look at that CNBC report he linked to.
Here's the key passage:
Economic reports in the coming week could be mixed, as the January jobs report Friday is likely to show lower job growth in January, with an increase of nonfarm payrolls of about 125,000 jobs.
December's report showed 200,000 jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent.
Now things begin to come into focus. Johnson based his argument on a CNBC article published on January 27, one full week before the actual jobs report was released. Either he didn't bother checking the dateline, or he didn't quite register the fact that the article clearly looked forward to the forthcoming release of the jobs report. Whatever the explanation, it's an embarrassing error.
And it gets worse.
You'll notice that I haven't linked to Johnson's Big Journalism post yet. That's because I can't. Breitbart's website scrubbed it sometime on Sunday. It no longer appears on Big J's front page, nor does it show up in Johnson's author's page. It does live on, however, in the Google cache, and can be seen here for as long as it remains cached. (And we grabbed a screenshot, for posterity's sake.) The tweet Big Journalism sent out promoting it is also still around.
What Big Journalism neglected to do was to post a correction or any sort of editorial notation regarding the story's disappearance -- a curious oversight for an outfit that enthusiastically demands corrections of other media outlets at every given opportunity.
The right-wing media closed out 2011 by attacking the Girl Scouts of America for, in the words of Glenn Beck website The Blaze, publishing a book that "refers young readers to Media Matters for America as one of the primary sources for debunking lies and deceit." Fox News led the charge, devoting more than 15 minutes over two days and three programs to the GSA's "liberal ideology," including its purported ties to Planned Parenthood.
One of the animating principles of the right-wing blogosphere is that the mainstream media are composed almost entirely of snooty liberals who work in concert to promote progressive interests, elect Democratic officials, and suppress conservative thought.
It's a useful trope, in that it angries up the faithful and provides a convenient scapegoat for when the American public rejects conservative policies and/or politicians. However, it often butts up against the reality of a disjointed and hypercompetitive media landscape in which pageviews, not ideology, rule the day -- which itself is broken up into segments that must be "won."
Thus, when the press start reporting on something like the Obama administration's loan guarantees to the failed solar company Solyndra in ways that do not reflect well on the administration, the adherents of the "liberal media bias" theory have to somehow square the circle.
Enter Breitbart footsoldier John Nolte, who argues that the press are only reporting on Solyndra because we're too far from the election for the story to matter:
For now, these media reports might help to drag Barack Obama down into the thirties approval-wise, but we're only in the middle of the second act of The One's political story which means plenty of time remains for the thrilling 2012 comeback climax the MSM is most certainly crafting this very day.
You see, there's no mustache-twisting villain yet. Republicans haven't chosen a front-runner. But once the Right has a standard-bearer, the MSM will have their target -- their villain -- and Solyndra, the rise in poverty, chronic unemployment and even a second Great Recession will disappear from media-memory like last week's thrilling chapter of "The Perils of The One!"
Nolte also posits that the media are collectively "looking for cover," meaning that when Nolte and his comrades inevitably accuse them of bias sometime down the road they can hold up Solyndra as evidence of balance:
In the future, when the breathtaking bias they've shown these last few years is thrown in their smug faces, they'll attempt to defend their corruption by pointing to Solyndra in the same way they once pointed to their heavy coverage of Whitewater, which also hit its peak -- wait for it, wait for it -- when it didn't matter.
So the media aren't just liberal: they're diabolically liberal. Also, the Whitewater press frenzy set the table for the Clinton impeachment, which kinda undermines the idea that it ultimately "didn't matter."
The kind of mental gymnastics required to arrive at this explanation are pretty remarkable, and Nolte's theory does less to explain media behavior than the degree to which cynicism born from the "liberal media bias" canard has become inextricably woven into the modern conservative identity.
A couple of days ago, ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross was reportedly roughly handled by members of Rep. Michele Bachmann's security team as he tried to ask the Republican presidential candidate about reports that she suffers from migraine headaches.
The behavior of Bachmann's staff has drawn criticism from several quarters, including (not surprisingly) ABC. ABC News senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider told the Washington Post: "It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. [Ross] was just doing his job."
Bachmann, however, does have the support Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism. Blogger Warner Todd Huston wrote today that "what happened to Ross is fairly mild and all his fault," and then responded to Schneider's quote with perhaps the most ridiculously inexplicable Nazi reference the internet has ever seen:
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags, the media is being treated like the Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square by Bachmann's campaign staff. Another lefty site says that Bachmann is indulging in "open conflict" with the press. Neither characterization is even close to the truth.
Jeffrey Schneider, a senior vice president for ABC news, denounced the incident saying, "He was certainly shoved around and pushed. It's unfortunate when physicality is involved. He was just doing his job."
I remember members of an army sometime in the mid 1940s saying that they were innocent because they were just doing their jobs, too.
Hah! Brian Ross is a Nazi war criminal! What?
Even better, Huston's absurd Godwinning is sandwiched between four separate condemnations of "hyperbole" from the media and progressives:
In a fit of wild hyperbole, Ross called his treatment by Bachmann similar to the treatment he's received "mostly by Mafia people"...
If you listen to the silly hyperbole from the far left blogrags...
With all this hyperbole and gnashing of teeth by the left...
In 2011 a reporter was simply blocked from getting to a candidate but not thrown to the ground. Result = outrage and hyperbole.
So Breitbart's Big Journalism wants us to get past all the overheated and outrageous rhetoric and focus on how ABC's Brian Ross is worse than Hitler. Perhaps then we can move on to the pressing matter of the crippling lack of self-awareness on right-wing blogs.
Normally I wouldn't waste digital ink on something this trivial, but CNN contributor and Breitbart acolyte Dana Loesch's misguided swipe at Politico yesterday is representative, I think, of the right-wing blogosphere's twisted view of the media.
Here's what Loesch wrote, under the headline "Politico's Interesting Way of Reporting Fox Hack":
Ben Smith linked to a progressive website discussing the Fox Twitter hack but made no mention of it on their website.
Fox Twitter account falsely announces Pres. Obama's assassination.
Because they made no mention that Fox's account was hacked and not that Fox simply lied, the comments are entertaining:
It's enough to beg the question whether it was done purposefully simply so such a narrative could be set.
First, matters of simple factual accuracy: Ben Smith did not write the post, Politico reporter Byron Tau did. Also, Politico published an Associated Press article on the Fox News Twitter hack several hours before Tau posted, so to claim that this was how Politico "report[ed]" the hack is misleading.
But those are minor quibbles, and if she had simply complained that Tau didn't specifically mention the hack (even though it was made clear in the Talking Points Memo article he linked to), that wouldn't have been a big deal. What's more interesting is the conclusion Loesch draws from all this: "It's enough to beg the question whether it was done purposefully simply so such a narrative could be set."
Only someone with an unhealthily warped view of the press would arrive at such a theory.
Today at Breitbart's Big Journalism, SusanAnne Hiller asks a stupid question: "What if the Birthers are right?"
Hiller doesn't have any reason to believe the birthers are right, but she suspects this might be "the biggest story in the history of this country" and is confident that the answer will be revealed in bumbling Swift Boat bigot Jerome Corsi's forthcoming book, Where's the Birth Certificate? But for the moment, she's just raising the question.
And that's amusing because two days ago, Andrew Breitbart -- owner and proprietor of Big Journalism -- was bragging to Dylan Ratigan about how he opposes birtherism and last year he got into a big argument with a birther at a tea party convention. Dave Weigel, then with the Washington Independent, chronicled Breitbart's thoughts on birtherism at the time:
"It's self-indulgent, it's narcissistic, it's a losing issue," Breitbart told Schilling. "It's a losing situation. If you don't have the frigging evidence -- raising the question? You can do that to Republicans all day long. You have to disprove that you're a racist! Forcing them to disprove something is a nightmare."
Shortly after Breitbart made these comments, Big Journalism declared: "Get Over It: 'Birtherism' Is Not Journalism"
But now, two days after Breitbart boasts of his anti-birther pedigree, his website is "raising the question" of whether the birthers are right. It's almost like they want to have it both ways.
According to Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, CBS News has attacked Sarah Palin with quotation marks:
First, check out this commentary:
MADISON, Wis. - After weeks of relative quiet following the bruising battle over an anti-union collective bargaining bill, the state Capitol was again the scene of protests and counter-protests.
Hundreds of pro-union labor supporters are surrounding smaller groups of conservative Tea Party members attending a rally featuring former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Speaking at the tax day rally outside the Wisconsin Capitol, Palin called the crowd in Madison courageous for having stood up to "death threats and thug tactics" of those who opposed Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill.
They put "death threats and thug tactics" in quotes. Of course they would. This is a network that helped perpetuate the 'Blame Palin' narrative in the wake of the Tucson tragedy.
CBS doesn't need to use quotations to question the validity of the death threats on which they refused to report. We reported on it for them at Big Journalism. I suggest CBS remove the quotes.
There's another, less insane explanation for why CBS put "death threats and thug tactics" in quotation marks; that's what Palin said. Those were her words. She said them in public where others could hear them. That's typically what quotation marks denote. To use the industry's technical jargon, they "quoted" her.
But apparently proper punctuation is now evidence of liberal bias.
In the wake of the earthquake in Japan and the resulting threat of nuclear disaster in that country, right-wing media have attacked renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, arguing that it's a waste of time to pursue these sources as possible alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power. However, studies show that the use of wind and solar energy is increasing at a record pace, and continuing investment in wind and solar will yield significant economic benefits.
In a BigJournalism.com post, Lee Stranahan -- the Huffington Post blogger who has been working with Andrew Breitbart on his Pigford story -- calls National Black Farmers Association founder John Boyd the "Fraud of the Week" and accuses ABC News of "media bias." Stranahan's primary rationale is that a 2003 story the network ran on Boyd didn't mention Pigford, the class action lawsuit for black farmers who alleged discrimination by the Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately for Stranahan, the segment does discuss Pigford.
To be honest, I'm genuinely curious as to how something like this could have happened and am really looking forward to what I'm sure will be Stranahan's prompt correction and explanation.
Stranahan writes of the November 21, 2003, "Person of the Week" segment:
Perhaps you've heard of Pigford v. Glickman, aka the black famer's lawsuit. You've heard of it because Andrew Breitbart, Gary Hewson, Peter Schweitzer and others have been writing about it on the Bigs for months. But - did you hear ANY mention of Pigford in that Person of the Week story? Did the name Pigford even come up once?
This story was broadcast in 2003, according to the ABC News Site. Pigford was settled in 1999.
Wait a second; if Pigford was settled, why is ABC doing a story that makes it look as though Pigford never even happened?
I have to admit, when I read this I was a little disturbed. Yes, ABC's "Person of the Week" segment is meant to be soft news ("as soft as it gets," according to a 1997 New York Times article), not a detailed, in-depth report, but still, a report on a farmer claiming systematic racial discrimination by the government really needs to mention Pigford.
Then I realized that I had neglected to take the advice Stranahan gives at the top of his piece: "please watch the video first and don't skip ahead." And so I did. You can too. Make sure to pay special attention at around the 1:06 mark:
BOYD: The last name Boyd was a, was our slave name, given to us by the Boyd family, which was Miss Ethel and William Boyd is--was their names. I feel as though we earned the right to live in this country, we earned the right to farm in this country, and we earned the right to participate in these Federal programs.
PETER JENNINGS: In 1999, the Department of Agriculture pretty much agreed when it settled the largest class action civil rights suit in the nation's history. The department found that black farmers had to wait three times longer for loans and subsidies than whites. And black farmers were losing their land because they could not get the help.
BOYD: There's thousands of black farmers across the country who are still out here waiting diligently and in good faith that the government is going to send their check.
JENNINGS: But thousands of those farmers are not getting the help they expected from the settlement, and John Boyd aims to fix that if he can.
That "largest class action civil rights suit in the nation's history"? Jennings is talking about Pigford. It sure doesn't sound like ABC was trying to "make it look as though Pigford never even happened," does it?
Yesterday, I noted that Andrew Breitbart made a false statement about the Pigford black farmer discrimination settlement. Today, in a post on Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, Breitbart's Pigford investigator Lee Stranahan responds that I caught Breitbart making "a minor gaffe" about Pigford but that Breitbart "obviously knows" the truth of the matter.
It turns out that Breitbart actually made the same false statement about Pigford more than once yesterday, which raises the question of whether Breitbart is actively lying about the case.
For the record, at a news conference at CPAC Breitbart falsely claimed that under the Pigford settlement, Track A -- in which the standard of proof for claimants was relaxed and successful claimants collected a flat $50,000 -- was only "for attempted-to-farmers." In fact, both Track A and Track B -- in which damages were not capped, but a claimant had to meet the traditional standard of proof -- were open both to people who farmed and people who attempted to farm but were prevented because of the federal government's discrimination.
Stranahan says of my piece:
[Media Matters ran] a section of video where AB, speaking off the cuff, makes a minor gaffe discussing the difference between Track A and Track B claims in Pigford. The two tracks are a topic Andrew has discussed many, many times and it's in the Pigford report. Andrew obviously knows the difference between Track A and B claims and in his short introduction, he was focusing on how these tracks effected the real, bona fide farmers like Eddie Slaughter, who is sitting about 5 feet away from him in the video clip Media Matters put up.
But Media Matters only shows a short section of the press conference. Their 'heavily edited' video doesn't show any of the other speakers, including Mr. Slaughter, Rep. Michelle Bachman, Rep. Steve King or me. Nor does Media Matters make ANY reference to the point of the press conference -- the release of hard evidence of how simple it is to commit fraud in Pigford.
But later in the day, Breitbart told Media Matters for America's Joe Strupp: "There are 94,000 people in line to get Pigford checks, the majority of, I believe it's 92 percent, are going through the Track A standard, which is the attempted-to-farmer standard."
Here's video of Breitbart's exchange with Strupp:
So it comes down to this: Does Breitbart not understand Pigford, or does he "obviously" understand it -- as Stranahan claims -- and is simply lying about what Track A and Track B are about?
Bristol Palin, the daughter of ex-governor and Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, was scheduled to speak as part of a panel at Washington University's Sexual Responsibility Week. The appearance, however, has since been canceled after students protested Palin's involvement and objected to her fee for speaking at the event. According to a Washington University statement, the decision was "mutually agreed" upon.
Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, however, viewed the cancellation of Palin's paid appearance at a university seminar as akin to the Southern opposition to school desegregation. BigJournalism contributor Jonathon Burns wrote in apparent seriousness (emphasis added):
And after a day or two of protest attacks against SHAC, the [student union] capitulated and announced they had axed Bristol from the panel, because, "the controversy surrounding her appearance would overshadow the event's intended message of sexual responsibility."
So the message is, "Don't bother coming, Bristol, or we'll shout you down and riot because WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE!" This seems eerily similar to Southern intimidation and oppression of blacks during attempts to desegregate. It's reminiscent of a scene from Forrest Gump, where a young black girl is harassed by a young white student and knocks her books out of her hands.
Millions of college students have been indoctrinated with the importance of diversity -- so long as that diversity includes approved races, ethnicities, political ideologies, backgrounds, etc. If you're conservative, from a rural area, and you're supporting abstinence, well, let's just say that kind of diversity isn't desired.
No, instead of supporting diversity, the celebrated ideal of college land, let's applaud and bow to bigotry.
The specific flavor of "bigotry" on display here, according to Burns, is "ethnicism" and "urbanism," which he defines as "bigotry against all things non-urban."
I'm not sure what's sillier about this: that BigJournalism apparently thinks lucrative speaking gigs are a civil right, or that their understanding of the Jim Crow South is gleaned from Forrest Gump.
GOProud, the conservative group for gay conservatives and their allies, just appointed Andrew Breitbart to their board. However, Breitbart and his contributors at his BigPeace, BigGovernment, BigJournalism and BigHollywood sites have repeatedly engaged in incendiary anti-gay rhetoric. Additionally, his contributors have actively opposed the repeal of Don't ask Don't tell, and opposed GOProud's inclusion in the conservative conference CPAC.
Despite numerous reports debunking the claim that the White House was responsible for distributing t-shirts with the slogan "Together We Thrive" at the memorial for victims of the shooting in Arizona, the right-wing media continues to push the claim, now citing a three-year-old post on the public blog of the Obama campaign's Organizing for America website that made use of the phrase "together we thrive."
Yesterday at Breitbart's BigJournalism, Jeff Dunetz served up yet another badly premised, nigh unreadable piece on the many outrageous evils of the "progressive media," which on its own is hardly worth mentioning. But there was one passage in Dunetz's sloppy harangue that indicates the high level of unseriousness we're dealing with here:
Israel is a favorite target of the progressive mainstream media. For example the New York Times,Washington Post and LA Times are famous for their anti-Israel bias. To mix things up a bit, they can blame the Jews too. Progressive media are famous for their attacks on Jews also. MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan, for example, is a Holocaust revisionist who opposed did not support the Kagan nomination because it would put too many Jews on the Supreme Court (he also complained that there were too many Jews in the Senate).
Yep. Pat Buchanan is Dunetz's evidence of the "progressive media's" attacks on Jews.
Pat Buchanan, who worked for three Republican presidents, ran for president as a Republican twice, and co-founded a magazine called The American Conservative.
That Pat Buchanan.
I really don't know what else can be said, other than that Andrew Breitbart sure can pick 'em.
I'm having no small amount of difficulty settling on the proper pejorative to describe this latest offering from Andrew Breitbart's BigJournalism.com, so for the moment I'll just reproduce it below:
I can't wait to see the Soros elves at MMfA scramble to spin this:
Remember Glenn Beck's fuzzy math, which calculated that 10% of Muslims are actually terrorists? Well, according to one of those WikiLeaked diplomatic cables, the man may have been wildly underestimating. At least when it comes to British Muslim students, one-third of whom "believe killing in the name of religion is justified," according to a survey reported in the Daily Mail.
The cable dates to early 2009 and refers to "a survey of 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim students at 30 universities throughout the UK conducted by the Centre for Social Cohesion."
The same survey also says that 54% of respondents "wanted a Muslim party to represent their world view in Parliament," while 40% "want Muslims in the UK to be under Sharia law."
I realize that in the Breitbart/BigJournalism world, "sort of right" is the highest standard one can hope to attain, but come on, guys... at least make this a little difficult.
No: Beck is still wrong. And a survey from a right-wing think tank that samples a small, localized population representing an infinitesimally small percentage of the global Muslim population does absolutely nothing to support Glenn Beck's blanket statement that ten percent of all Muslims are terrorists.
And look at that -- no "scrambling" needed. Just a few seconds of thinking like a rational human being, and not an Islamophobic clown who thinks "sort of right" is something to be proud of.