From the February 23 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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A widely discredited rumor about Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel could cause headaches for Lou Dobbs, who endorsed that rumor on his Fox Business show.
New York Daily News reporter Dan Friedman wrote on Wednesday that he was the unintentional source of a rumor that Hagel had received funding from a terrorist-friendly group called "Friends of Hamas."
That rumor was spread in right-wing media circles by Breitbart.com's Ben Shapiro, who carelessly reported earlier this month that Hagel was paid to speak to a group called "Friends of Hamas." But, as detailed by Slate's Dave Weigel and by the New York Daily News, that organization does not actually exist. Here's Friedman's explanation (emphasis added):
On Feb. 6, I called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill with a question: Did Hagel's Senate critics know of controversial groups that he had addressed?
Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the "Junior League of Hezbollah, in France"? And: What about "Friends of Hamas"?
The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed -- let alone that a former senator would speak to them.
This baseless rumor was not confined to the Breitbart.com fringe. On Feb. 11, Lou Dobbs claimed the rumor has "a ring to it" after National Review Online columnist Andrew McCarthy brought it to Dobbs' Fox Business show:
Now that the truth is revealed, will Dobbs tell his audience that he fed them rumors?
This post has been updated for accuracy.
Despite serious legal questions surrounding the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy and Muslim surveillance program, the editorial board of the New York Daily News has been an unquestioning defender of the NYPD.
"You think rising cell phone thefts are bad? Wait till car thefts soar back over 100,000 a year. Wait till you start hearing about mushrooms and learn that the word refers to children who have been struck by stray bullets."
So opined the editorial board of the New York Daily News in response to public scrutiny of the New York Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy -- a controversial program that last year alone resulted in over 685,000 stops of primarily black and Latino residents (only 12% of persons stopped were charged with a crime). This week, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin granted class action status to a group of victims of the policy who are bringing suit against the city for what they argue is a discriminatory and unconstitutional practice. The Daily News, as well as the New York Post, viewed the ruling -- which they inexplicably believe risks the existence of the "stop-and-frisk" practice altogether -- as nothing less than life-threatening.
In the aforementioned editorial, titled "How to kill New York," the Daily News editorial board ominously predicted that If the program is reformed, 'the body count will start rising.'
The NY Post's editors weighed in as well, attacking outspoken critics of the program whom the editors say "won't rest until the murder rate skyrockets":
They're playing with fire -- all of them.
Indeed, if they do manage to weaken the program, the blood of new crime victims will be on their hands.
So: Will the city once again become the Crime Capital of the World?
Alas, so it seems.
Since sexual harassment allegations against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain emerged, Fox News contributor Andrea Tantaros has been one of Cain's most vocal defenders. Tantaros has a background in crisis communications, and as recently as May 2011, she was vice president at Sloane & Co., which specializes in "crisis and litigation support."
The conservative talking point is now clear: Obama has been snubbing Bush's counterterrorism and intelligence team this week and has been hogging all the credit for finally eliminating Osama bin Laden.
The claim isn't true, but you still see the accusation across the right-wing blogosphere where bloggers have been sniping non-stop at the President of the United States n the wake of the Osama bin Laden killing:
Obama did invite President G.W. Bush to attend — even after pointedly ignoring him and the work his team did that made OBL's demise possible.
The claim was further cemented today in a New York Daily News article that quoted an anonymous (and rather vaguely identified) "highly placed source" who insisted former President Bush was miffed by Obama's handling of the bin Laden story:
"Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way."
But again, the snub talk isn't true, as New York magazine helpfully highlights today [emphasis original]:
Obama has, actually, credited the vital work of the intelligence community, whether under himself or Bush.
In his address on Sunday night, he said that after 9/11, "we went to war against Al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies. Over the last ten years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort."
• He added that "last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden."
• And in a congressional dinner the next night, Obama said, "I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counterterrorism professionals who made the mission possible."
A new poll from Quinnipiac University is making headlines this week. Why? Because it shows Obama's approval rating at a low point of 42 percent. And when a single poll (and possibly outlier) shows Obama's approval rating going down, that's news!
From The New York Daily News:
President Obama's approval ratings hit all-time low, half don't think he deserves second term: poll
Poll: Obama's approval hits new low
From The Hill:
Survey: Obama's approval rating at all-time low 42 percent
News organizations all agree: The Quinnipiac poll is a big deal. But for context, here's a look at all the Obama approval rating polling results currently listed at PollingReport.com, for the month of March:
-ABC/Washington Post: 51%
-Allstate/National Journal: 49%
And here's a very recent result, not listed by PollingReport.com:
For the month of March, Obama's approval rating has been quite consistent (average: 50%), just as it's been for nearly the last 18 months. But when the Quinnipiac poll came out and broke with that trend, and broke with the trend in a negative direction, suddenly that single poll was big news.
Conservative media are pushing the falsehoods that taxpayers picked up the tab for Michelle Obama's private vacation expenses in Spain and that 40 friends accompanied her and her daughter Sasha on the trip. In fact, the Obamas were accompanied by two of the first lady's friends and three of their daughters, and all of them, including the Obamas, reportedly paid for their own personal and travel expenses.
Right-wing media have repeatedly compared First Lady Michelle Obama to Marie Antoinette, the eighteenth century queen who was executed during the French Revolution.
Media outlets have run with the false claim that President Obama's upcoming interview on The View will mark the first time a sitting president has appeared on a daytime talk show, when in fact, President Bush appeared on Dr. Phil in 2004. Right-wing media have seized on this false claim and his appearance in general to attack Obama's "priorities."
The New York Daily News apparently agreed to Harold Ford's insistence he not be asked about public policy during a recent interview:
The interview - granted under the condition that the questions be limited to his rationale for running, and not issues - comes at the end of a rocky first week of buzz surrounding his potential candidacy.
Now, I suppose I can see why someone thinking of running for Senate would want to avoid questions about issues (particularly after a question about gun control led him to assure New York Times readers that he does not shoot unarmed children) though it does seem odd that "his rationale for running" and "issues" are separate things. But I'm a little less clear on why the Daily News would agree to that condition.
It isn't that I think journalists should never agree to limit the scope of an interview. But in this case, there doesn't seem to be any public interest (or, for that matter, interest from the public) in Harold Ford's non-policy comments. Why would (or should) Daily News readers care about Ford's "rationale for running" if it doesn't have anything to do with issues?
What public interest is served by running an "interview" in which Ford attacks his potential primary opponent without facing any questions about his own positions? What public interest is served by running an "interview" in which Ford declares "This race isn't about feet, it's about issues" -- but refuses to discuss issues? What possible public interest is served by an interview in which Ford is asked what's on his iPod -- he declares his fondness for Stevie Wonder and Al Green and "Alicia's and Jay-Z's new song," a reference to Empire State of Mind, a four-month-old celebration of New York -- but not about his policy disagreements with the person he's thinking of running against?
There is no real merit in any of that. Worse, in granting the condition that Ford not be asked about issues, the Daily News encourages other politicians to seek such favorable ground rules in the future.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz seems to agree:
New York, N.Y.: The Daily News interviewed Harold Ford about his possible New York Senate run. As a condition for the interview, Ford demanded (and apparently the News agreed) that he would not be asked about issues. Why would any self-respecting journalist agree to this condition?
Howard Kurtz: Short answer: I wouldn't. And the demand doesn't reflect particularly well on the former congressman.
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.
In my column this week I looked at the terrain of the media landscape faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans noting, in part:
...despite increased public acceptance and the passage of some basic legal protections, not only is sexual orientation still a taboo for many in the media, all too often it serves as a focal point for hate, ridicule, and misinformation.
Looking back now, I should have also noted that, in addition to the "taboo," "hate, ridicule, and misinformation," LGBT Americans regularly face something far more insidious in the media: silence.
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which are largely credited with sparking the modern LGBT civil rights movement. For those unfamiliar with this seminal moment in gay history (I don't blame you, so little attention has been paid to the event by the media) here's the gist of it from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:
[In 1969], there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting "gay power."
Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd. For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city.
In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a city-wide newspaper called Gay. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
Well, according to a search of TVeyes.com and Nexis, scant attention this week has been paid by the media to this historic civil rights anniversary.
CABLE NEWS: Since Monday, TVeyes.com turns up exactly four mentions of Stonewall on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business News, MSNBC and CNBC. All four mentions occurred on the June 23 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
NETWORK NEWS (Morning Shows/Nightly News): Since Monday, TVeyes.com hasn't turned up a single mention of Stonewall on ABC's Good Morning America or World News, CBS' Early Show or Evening News, or NBC's Today Show or Nightly News. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
MAJOR NEWSPAPERS: Since Monday, a search of Nexis turns up 2 stories discussing Stonewall in any substantive way printed in America's top ten daily newspapers – USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Arizona Republic. A search of these newspapers' websites confirm the results. What exactly did these publications print about the anniversary?
USA Today: Nothing
Wall Street Journal: Nothing
New York Times: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about the lack of a national leader in the gay right's movement.
Los Angeles Times: Nothing
New York Daily News: Two good stories about the Stonewall anniversary.
Washington Post: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Chicago Tribune: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about a senior center for gay seniors.
Houston Chronicle: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Arizona Republic: Nothing
Of America's top ten daily newspapers, only the New York Daily News spent much time at all discussing the Stonewall anniversary this week – the rest either make passing reference with little context or, worse yet, print nothing at all.
So, the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has been granted one cable news segment and 2 print stories this week. Surely such an historic milestone merits more serious attention, not just from cable and network news outlets but from newspapers as well.
UPDATE: It's nice to see the AARP doing so much with its various media arms to commemorate Stonewall.
UPDATE 2: Newsweek.com has a good package up on Stonewall. Hopefully they'll follow suit with something equally substantive in the print edition.
From a May 28 New York Daily News op-ed by Robert Morgenthau:
No sooner had President Obama announced his nomination of Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor than conservative partisans began calling for her defeat. These so-called pundits have pronounced her a "radical," an "activist," part of the "far left," an "affirmative action case" and, most astoundingly, a "racist." We were not long left in suspense as to whether this administration's judicial nominees can expect to be vetted with objectivity and due civility.
I have known Judge Sotomayor for decades, and I know how absurd these charges are. I doubt that anyone will be fooled by them, but let me state for the record my views on her nomination.
Assistant District Attorney Sotomayor was no "liberal." Rather, she was a tough and effective prosecutor. Young prosecutors are sometimes picked on by judges and defense attorneys, but no one successfully pushed this ADA around. Within a short time she had come to the attention of trial division executives as someone who was a step ahead of her colleagues, one of the brightest, an immediate standout who was marked for rapid advancement.
The judge's work since she left this office confirms that she is a strong champion of the law. In particular, she has served with distinction on what I consider to be the second most important appellate court in the world, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. To be sure, she is in favor of civil rights, in the sense that she believes there should be fair treatment for all. But that is, of course, the law. And she understands poverty, and does seem willing to accept government action that provides a safety net to the poor. But that is not exactly "radical."
Numerous media figures have compared President Obama and his administration to the mafia, frequently referencing films and television shows such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.