In the past week, media figures have routinely referred to a potential effort to pass a health care reform bill with a majority vote as an effort to "ram," "jam," or "cram" a bill through Congress, a characterization pushed by Republican politicians. The reconciliation process, which enables the Senate to pass legislation with 51 votes, has been used repeatedly by Republicans, including to pass major changes to health care laws.
In his first column since reportedly accepting a job heading public relations for a Washington lobbying firm, former Washington Times digital managing editor Jeffrey Birnbaum wrote favorably about industries he represents -- health insurance, health care, pharmaceutical, and oil and gas -- without disclosing his ties to the industries.
We learn from the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney that former Washington Times managing editor for digital Jeffrey Birnbaum is joining a Washington lobbying firm, BGR Group (known as Barbour, Griffith & Rogers), to head its PR division. Birnbaum -- who left his job in the recent WashTimes implosion -- will continue to write a column for the Times, as well as appear on Fox News as a contributor.
Given that, as Carney noted, BGR Group has numerous high-profile clients such as foreign governments, defense contractors, and pharmaceutical companies, this looks to us like a conflict of interest waiting to happen. Indeed, we've long documented TV talking heads and other conservatives not disclosing their financial interests in the causes they're speaking about.
The onus here is on both ends -- Birnbaum to disclose any conflicts of interest, and The Washington Times and Fox News to make sure he does.
(P.S. Given that Birnbaum left The Washington Post in August 2008 to work for the Times, it's absurd for Carney's headline to read, "Who else at the Washington Post is auditioning for a K Street job?" Just another example of the Examiner's right-wing bias, it appears.)
From the October 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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Discussing reports that President-elect Barack Obama is considering naming Sen. Hillary Clinton secretary of state, several media figures have responded with smears, including speculation that Clinton would pursue her own agenda as secretary of state and not Obama's, references to Clinton as Obama's "enem[y]," and speculation that Obama is considering the nomination because if Clinton remains in the Senate, she poses a threat of challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012 and can "mak[e] trouble" for him in the Senate.
On Fox News, Jeffrey Birnbaum asserted that the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson "makes the allegations of corruption bipartisan." However, at least nine Republican members of Congress and Bush administration officials have been indicted or pleaded guilty to criminal charges.
The Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reported that Sen. John McCain has "long been seen as a champion of independents" and the "good news" for him is that this voting bloc played a significant role in determining the outcome of this year's elections. However, that logic overlooks the fact that independents cited the Iraq war -- which McCain supports -- as one of their top reasons for voting Democratic this year.
In the wake of the recent thwarting of an alleged terrorist plot in Britain, numerous media outlets have posed the question of whether news of the event would benefit President Bush, often letting conservatives or Republican officials spin the news in favor of the administration. Many of the reports neglected to consider whether the news could actually hurt Bush politically.
On Special Report, Jeffrey Birnbaum baselessly asserted that "if you compare Americans' view of the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism this Fourth of July compared to last Fourth of July, the president and his policies are in a much better position." However, polling shows otherwise.
A Media Matters analysis of the media coverage of the Iraq war debate shows that the favored Republican talking points on Iraq have gone largely unchallenged in the media and have even been adopted as truths by some media outlets and figures.
In an article based on information from the Center for Public Integrity's recent analysis of privately funded congressional travel, Washington Post staff writer Jeffrey Birnbaum largely depicted the issue of members accepting privately funded trips as a bipartisan one. But Birnbaum omitted several pertinent findings that show greater participation by Republican lawmakers and staff than by Democrats.
On Fox News' Special Report, chief White House correspondent Bret Baier falsely reported that "President Bush won all 11 states" that passed bans on same-sex marriage in the 2004 election. On the same program, Washington Post staff writer Jeffrey H. Birnbaum repeated the inaccurate claim when he stated that "all those states passed those referenda" and "all of them voted for President Bush for re-election." In fact, Sen. John Kerry won two of the states that passed referendums banning gay marriage in 2004, Michigan and Oregon.