Howard Kurtz, tonight:
Howard Kurtz, January 29, 2005:
Columnist Charles Krauthammer heaped praise on President Bush's inaugural address. But, he says, he had nothing to do with shaping the speech.
Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol also lauded the speech. He says he did not consult on the speech itself but discussed with two White House officials "themes for the second term and included in that, themes for the inaugural."
Both conservatives are unapologetic about having privately offered advice to top White House aides, saying that is perfectly proper for commentators.
Krauthammer and Kristol have drawn some criticism since a Jan. 22 Post article described them as among those consulting on the inaugural address.
Liz Spayd, the paper's assistant managing editor for national news, said: "We stand by the story we wrote. We have a firsthand source who says it was crystal clear a primary purpose of the meeting was to seek advice on both Bush's inaugural and State of the Union speeches."
So, when Howard Kurtz writes about a media figure helping write a speech for a Democratic president, he portrays it as evidence that the media is liberal -- but when two media figures, one of them employed by his own newspaper, help a Republican president write a speech, he doesn't give any indication that he thinks it has anything to do with the question of media bias.
This is a key reason why the myth of the liberal media has taken hold: People like Kurtz -- and Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- are more likely to frame discussions of questionable media performance as evidence of bias when the performance in question could suggest liberal bias than when it could suggest the opposite.
Back in April, Joe Scarborough claimed that President Obama "has never received a paycheck ... he's never received a check from a profitmaking business in his entire life, not one check. Think about it." Had Scarborough done more than just "think," he could have found evidence that would have quickly disproven his claim.
Today, Scarborough was at it again. Prompted by Rep. John Boehner's near repeat of his April claim, Scarborough and the Morning Joe crew complained about the Obama administration's purported dearth of private sector experience:
BOEHNER [CLIP]: You have to remember that President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid have never run a business, much less ever had a real job in a private sector. How would they know what it takes to create real jobs? So the American people continue to ask where are the jobs?
SCARBOROUGH: Mike Allen of Politico made the mistake of coming on this show, and we asked him to name one person in Barack Obama's inner circle that had ever run a business. And he stumbled and stammered around for a while. And basically couldn't name anybody. Can you?
MORT ZUCKERMAN: No. I think one of the issues --
SCARBOROUGH: Is this unprecedented?
ZUCKERMAN: I've never seen anything like this in the sense that there isn't a single person with serious business experience at any senior level of that administration that I know of.
SCARBOROUGH: How do you figure out how to turn an economy around if you don't have a single person in the president's inner circle that's ever created a private sector job?
Not a single one!
All those talking heads and they couldn't find something like this?
In Obama's Cabinet, at least three of the nine posts that Cembalest and Beck cite -- a full one-third -- are occupied by appointees who, by our reading of their bios, had significant corporate or business experience. Shaun Donovan, Obama's secretary of Housing and Urban Development, served as managing director of Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., where he oversaw its investments in affordable housing loans.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu headed the electronics research lab at one of America's storied corporate research-and-development facilities, AT&T Bell Laboratories, where his work won a Nobel Prize for physics. And Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in addition to serving as Colorado attorney general and a U.S. senator, has been a partner in his family's farm for decades and, with his wife, owned and operated a Dairy Queen and radio stations in his home state of Colorado.
Two of the Obama appointees could be considered entrepreneurs -- the very people Beck would "unleash." Vice President Joe Biden, officially a Cabinet member, founded his own law firm, Biden and Walsh, early in his career, and it still exists in a later incarnation, Monzack Mersky McLaughlin and Browder, P.A. (The future vice president also supplemented his income by managing properties, including a neighborhood swimming pool.) And Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag founded an economic consulting firm called Sebago Associates that was later bought out by a larger firm.
It's also worth noting that if you examine a larger group of senior Obama administration appointees, you'll find that more than one in four have experience as business executives, according to a June study by National Journal.
Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.