On his MSNBC show, Chris Matthews attacked what New York magazine writer John Heilemann called "the Democratic left" who have "trash[ed] the health care bill and attack[ed] the president; Matthews stated: "I don't consider them Democrats. I consider them netroots," and added, "I think a lot of those people are troublemakers who love to sit in the back seat and complain. They're not interested in governing this country. They never ran for office, they're not interested in working for somebody in public office." In fact, Howard Dean, who, as The New York Times reported, "has urged the Senate to scrap the bill and start from scratch," ran for president in the 2004 Democratic primary after having served for more than 11 years as governor of Vermont.
John Solomon has only been gone for a couple of weeks, and already The Washington Times has reverted to its old ways -- the scare quotes are back.
A Times editorial today states: "It's a dark scandal in American politics that so many Catholic politicians promote abortion and same-sex 'marriage.' " And in an op-ed in yesterday's Times, Binyamin L. Jolkovsky wrote that Carrie Prejean's "fame, or infamy, skyrocketed after she honestly answered a question about gay 'marriage' during an internationally televised beauty pageant."
The Times reportedly banned the practice of using "scare quotes" around "gay marriage" shortly after Solomon's hiring as executive editor. In a February 25, 2008, memo, copy desk chief Patrick Tuohy reportedly stated that "[t]he quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage)." TPM's Ben Frumin reported this month that Solomon left the paper on November 6. It didn't take long for this modest improvement during his tenure to fall by the wayside after his departure.
One wonders what other back-sliding we'll see at the Times. Will it return to warning its readers about the "gay agenda" and its "assault upon traditional norms and values"? Will the Times once again treat its readers to laughable references to "gay caballeros" and the "lavender lobby" that presumably represents them?
That, of course, would depend in part on whether the Times stays in operation at all, a prospect that remains in question.
On Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Dick Morris touted "the work we're trying to do through DickMorris.com" to oppose health care reform and instructed viewers to "go there and help us." Morris has repeatedly used his frequent appearances on Fox News to raise money for conservative political organizations, including those in which he has a financial interest, a practice that also has been followed by Fox News' Mike Huckabee.
On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh mentioned Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and the "senator who replaced Ted Stevens" -- Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) -- while listing senators who he said joined the Senate despite having received "no votes" and who also voted on November 21 to begin debate on the health care reform bill. In fact, both Begich and Franken won their Senate seats in general elections in 2008.
Right-wing media figures, including Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden, have in recent days attacked President Obama while discussing his mental state. While claiming, "I'm not asking you to psychoanalyze the president," Beck asked psychiatrist and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow, "Are we crazy for saying something is not right?"; Savage offered a psychological diagnosis of Obama, claiming that the president has "deep psychological problems" and "deep-seated inferiority feelings."
On Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio show, Sarah Palin claimed that former President Reagan "faced a tougher recession than what we're facing today," echoing a similar assertion made in her memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. In fact, as the Associated Press noted in addressing her book, "Economists overwhelmingly say the current recession is far worse."
Referring to remarks by Gen. George Casey regarding potential backlash against Muslims in the military in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, Rush Limbaugh claimed: "There is no backlash against Muslims in America. Zip, zero, nada." Limbaugh's claim that "there is no backlash against Muslims in America" is undermined by a 2002 FBI hate crimes analysis that found that "[a]nti-Islamic religion incidents" in 2001 increased "by more than 1,600 percent over the 2000 volume," and a San Francisco Chronicle article reported that "[h]ate crimes against Muslims soared after Sept. 11."
While guest hosting Glenn Beck's nationally syndicated radio show, Pat Gray claimed that "700,000 to a million" participated in the 9-12 March on Washington. Gray's baseless claim echoed numerous conservative media figures, but a D.C. Fire Department official estimated 9-12 March crowds at 60,000 to 75,000 people.
Big changes are afoot at The Washington Times, including the possible departure of executive editor John Solomon. TPM's Ben Frumin reported today that in a "major shakeup," three executives are leaving the right-wing newspaper, and that "two newsroom sources said they expect [Solomon] to resign" as well.
The reasoning behind the "major shakeup" may be a surprise to many. In its official announcement of the moves, the paper stated: "Today's industry conditions and the general economic downturn necessitate this team-based assessment, planning, and subsequent implementation of a plan to enable The Times to become a sustainable multimedia company in today's challenging news industry environment. ... The process will clarify the steps needed to achieve the goal of a market-based, financially sustainable media enterprise."
That's right, fiscal responsibility has finally reached The Washington Times after decades of red ink.
One has to wonder what prompted this new attention to the bottom line. A Washington Post article on the Times' 20th anniversary in 2002 reported that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder, had "plowed about $1.7 billion into subsidizing the Times" in its first two decades of operation. That's a lot of cheddar to make sure your "bolder, brighter" paper gets out to one-eighth as many readers as the local competition. You can buy a lot of phony attacks on President Obama's "czars" with that kind of money, but the Times has now apparently decided that such expenditures are unacceptable.
What effect will the shake-up have on the Times' editorial content? We'll have to wait and see. In a memo to the Times staff upon his hiring, Solomon discussed making the operation "more profitable"; he also mentioned the staff's "shared pride as journalists" and claimed he wanted to create a "superior print and online news product." It's unclear how successful he was at pushing the Times toward profitability, but he seems to have maintained its standing as a major purveyor of conservative misinformation.