Blog

  • Howard the Duck

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    If you're a media critic with unlimited space, and one of the biggest media stories for going on three weeks has been a cable news host promoting phony racial conspiracy theories about the president, and a media watchdog organization has released an ad it plans to run during that host's show criticizing his promotion of those conspiracy theories, doesn't it look pretty strange if you don't cover the ad?

    Now how does it look if you've steadfastly refused to criticize that cable news channel's president despite his false and misleading support for that host's conspiracy theorizing?

    Now, how does it look if you get a paycheck from that cable news channel?

    It looks like you're ducking your responsibilities as the Washington Post's media critic for fear of offending your bosses at CNN, that's how it looks.

    UPDATE: That ad Howard Kurtz is ignoring? Youtube viewers aren't ignoring it:

    #3 - Most Viewed (Today) - News & Politics

    #7 - Most Discussed (Today) - News & Politics

    #10 - Most Viewed (Today)

    #25 - Top Rated (Today) - News & Politics

    #33 - Top Favorited (Today) - News & Politics

    #83 - Most Discussed (Today)

  • The painful superficiality of Chris Matthews

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chris Matthews spends much of each Hardball broadcast spouting off about things he doesn't understand, and making pronouncements about The Way Things Are that just don't make sense. Here he is talking about federal funding for abortion, for example:

    The Hyde Amendment, which we all know about, says no federal dollar can pay for anybody's abortion, for the obvious reason: people who are opposed to abortion don't want to have to pay for it, directly or indirectly, as taxpayers.

    No. No, that is obviously not the reason.

    Plenty of people are opposed to the death penalty and wars of choice, and the Department of Agriculture, and studies about the mating habits of fruit flies and incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders and membership in the UN -- and they don't want to have to pay for those things, directly or indirectly, as taxpayers.

    And yet they do pay for them. There is no "Hyde Amendment" preventing the government from paying for any of those things.

    The Hyde Amendment's ban on federal funding of abortion does not exist -- cannot logically exist -- simply because people who oppose abortion don't want to pay for it. If that were the way things worked, we literally would not have a government.

    No, the Hyde Amendment exists because the political and media establishment privilege opposition to abortion over countless other things that millions of Americans oppose. Like Chris Matthews just did, and like he has done in the past.

    And yet Matthews sits there and insists that federal funding of abortion is not allowed simply because "people who are opposed to abortion don't want to have to pay for it," apparently not grasping the obvious implications of the silly notion that the government doesn't fund things some people don't want to pay for.

    If you think this is all just semantics, take a look at the following two passages:

    CHRIS MATTHEWS: The Hyde Amendment, which we all know about, says no federal dollar can pay for anybody's abortion, for the obvious reason: people who are opposed to abortion don't want to have to pay for it, directly or indirectly, as taxpayers.

    BIZARRO CHRIS MATTHEWS: The Hyde Amendment, which we all know about, says no federal dollar can pay for anybody's abortion, even though it is a legal medical procedure, and even though collective funding for things individual taxpayers may oppose is inherent in the very concept of government.

    Is there any doubt whatsoever that the second version would give people a clearer understanding of the situation? Is there any doubt at all that the first version is slanted in favor of the anti-abortion position?

  • Sidekicks: Chuck Norris says, "I agree with CNN's Lou Dobbs ... make public your original birth certificate"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Chuck Norris' August 4 Creators Syndicate column:

    Believe it or not, I'm not writing you to challenge whether or not you were born in America, though I see nothing wrong with the American public's voicing that constitutionally based grievance with someone in your esteemed position. As one blogger wrote, after all, "We aren't talking about a 12-year-old qualifying to play Little League here." Or as Ronald Reagan once said, "Trust but verify."

    I must admit that I find it a bit of a groundless stretch not to believe in the birth announcements in two major Hawaiian newspapers in August 1961, in which Hawaii's Health Department would have been required to post information it received directly from hospitals: "Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4." Nevertheless, that proof doesn't answer why you refuse to reveal your original birth certificate and end the growing tides of controversy.

    I'm writing you because this is no longer a matter merely about proving you meet a presidential prerequisite in the Constitution. Refusing to post your original birth certificate is an unwise political and leadership decision that is enabling the "birther" controversy. The nation you are called to lead is experiencing a growing swell of conspirators who are convinced that you are covering up something. So why not just prove them wrong and shut them up?

    I agree with CNN's Lou Dobbs, who was chastised by his own media outlet for demanding the release of your original birth certificate. Why was that such a bad request? We certainly know why Jon Klein, the president of CNN/U.S., thought it was a bad idea. He previously declared that CNN researchers had determined that your 1961 birth certificate no longer exists. But Hawaii officials confirmed again last week that they indeed have your original birth certificate on file.

    [...]

    Mr. President, as more and more people realize that you are refusing to release your original birth certificate, further questions will fuel the fires of debate or at least hinder the embers from ever being snuffed out. Questions such as, "Does it really contain the Hawaiian physician's name?" "Does it disclose something other than his birthplace that he wishes others not to see?"

  • Robinson: Dobbs is "beyond the outer limits of sanity" in "giving prime-time exposure to the 'birther' lunacy"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Robinson's August 4 Washington Post column:

    There are probably people out there who think the world is flat, and they're not worth writing about. The "birthers" wouldn't be either unless you believe a poll released last week by Research 2000 revealing that an astounding 28 percent of Republicans actually think that Obama was not born in the United States and another 30 percent are "not sure." GOP officials need to order more tinfoil.

    The survey, commissioned by the liberal Web site Daily Kos, found that 93 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of independents have no doubt - duh - that Obama was born in the United States. That only 42 percent of Republicans are similarly convinced is a fascinating indicator of just how far the Republican Party has drifted from the mainstream.

    Also beyond the outer limits of sanity is CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who has been giving prime-time exposure to the "birther" lunacy - even while denying that he believes in it. Dobbs' obsession with the "story" has become an embarrassment to the network, which has tried to position itself as untainted by political bias. CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein has pronounced the story "dead," but insists that it's legitimate for Dobbs to examine the alleged controversy, though in fact no controversy exists.

    The "birther" thing is only Dobbs' latest detour from objective reality. For years, he has crusaded against illegal immigration by citing facts and figures that often turn out to be wrong. Television can confer a kind of pseudo-reality on any manner of nonsense.

    Is this an orchestrated campaign to somehow delegitimize Obama's presidency? Is the fact that he is the first African American president a factor? Is it that some people can't or won't accept that he won the election and serves as commander in chief?

    Maybe, maybe not. Trying to analyze the "birther" phenomenon would mean taking it seriously, and taking it seriously would be like arguing about the color of unicorns. About all that can be said is that a bunch of lost, confused and frightened people have decided to seek refuge in conspiratorial make-believe. I hope they're harmless. And I hope they seek help.

  • Matthews spreads lies about health care reform

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chris Matthews, talking about opposition to health care reform (while, by the way, ignoring the fact that the demonstrations he's talking about are phony):

    How much does this thing is about people coming to you talking about end of life decisions spook people, Michael? This thing, this provision, that talks about you get to talk about a living will. But it sounds to some people like, you're getting a little ill, all of a sudden somebody shows up at your door like they're a missionary and says "lets talk about how you're going to save the government money and your family the burden of continuing to live." that's the way it hits some people.

    No, it doesn't hit some people that way. It doesn't sound that way to anybody. I'm quite confident that nobody, upon reading any health care proposal, has sincerely concluded that it would result in someone showing up at your door and telling you to save the government some money and just die already.

    No, the idea that there is any such provision is a flat-out lie, made up by opponents of reform in an attempt to kill it. And Chris Matthews just helped spread that lie to the entire nation. Heckuva job, Chris.

  • Buchanan compares Al Gore to Birthers

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    On Hardball, moments ago:

    PAT BUCHANAN: Global Warming is now a hoax--

    CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think Global Warming is a hoax?

    BUCHANAN: I do think it's a hoax.

    MATTHEWS: It's a hoax?

    BUCHANAN: I think it goes up and down. The idea this is grave--

    MATTHEWS: -- CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases, doesn't exist?

    BUCHANAN: No, it does, of course it exists. The idea we're all gonna die of this is utter nonsense. It's a power transfer to governments here, and governments abroad.

    MATTHEWS: And the motivation is what?

    BUCHANAN: And the motivation is power. It always is in government.

    MATTHEWS: So people like Al Gore have cooked this up to get what?

    BUCHANAN: No, I think he believes it, Chris, like the Birthers believe it. He's just like they are. It's a religious belief with them.

    Remind me again why this guy is on TV?

    UPDATE: Here's the video.

  • Strike two for WND's birth certificate scoop

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

    Early this morning, we (along with others) noted that the purported Obama birth certificate posted by WorldNetDaily says that it was issued by the "Republic of Kenya" on February 17, 1964, but that Kenya did not become a republic until December 12, 1964.

    Well, here's WND's response:

    Media Matters wrote, "Sorry, WorldNetDaily: Kenya wasn't a republic until Dec. 1964."

    But Kenya's official independence was in 1963, and any number of labels could have been applied to government documents during that time period.

    At Ameriborn Constitution News, the researcher noted that the independence process for the nation actually started taking as early as 1957, when there were the first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council.

    "Kenya became an Independent Republic, December 12, 1963, which gives more [credibility] that this is a true document," the website stated.

    The 1963 independence is corroborated by several other information sources, including the online African History.

    Even the People Daily news agency cited, on Dec. 12, 2005, the "42nd independence anniversary" in Nairobi. "The country gained independence from Britain on Dec. 12, 1963," the report said.

    An online copy of the Kenya Constitution, "adopted in 1963, amended in 1999," states: "CHAPTER I - THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA, Article 1, Kenya is a sovereign Republic. Article 1A, The Republic of Kenya shall be a multiparty democratic state..."

    It was in November 1964 when the region voluntarily became a one-party state, according to an online source.

    There are a couple points to be made here.

    First, WND's focus on the date of Kenyan independence is a straw man. No one is disputing that Kenya gained independence in 1963. But that isn't the same as when it became a republic. Indeed, the December 12, 1964, Washington Post article we posted reported: "Kenya became the newest republic within the British Commonwealth at midnight. ... Kenya became independent in December, 1963 and has now shed its dominion status, while remaining in the Commonwealth" [emphasis added].

    Second, on the issue of Kenya's constitution "adopted in 1963," here's how the CIA's World Factbook describes Kenya's constitutional history:

    Constitution:

    12 December 1963; amended as a republic 1964; reissued with amendments 1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1997, 2001; note - a new draft constitution was defeated by popular referendum in 2005

    That's consistent with news reporting from the time. An October 27, 1963, Washington Post article describing Kenya's initial constitution reported that "Britain ... has left a loophole insuring that the whole constitution will be rewritten in a year or so. The country is being given dominion (monarchial) status but its leaders have said that they intend to make it a republic."

    A year later, the Post reported in a November 11, 1964, article: "Within a few hours after" Kenyan opposition leader Ronald Ngala's November 10, 1964, announcement that he was dissolving his party, "the Senate unanimously passed the second and third readings of a bill to give the country a republican constitution to take effect Dec. 12." According to the Post, that vote "eliminated any need for a referendum to decide whether the country should become a republic." The Post added that "Ngala's party has been increasingly weakened recently by a rash of desertions during consideration of the government's bill to make Kenya a republic Dec. 12."

  • Does Michelle Malkin ever know what she's talking about?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Riffing off the Post article today which reported the Obama White House contacted the heads of the TV networks in an effort to get them to air the president's previous, primetime press conference live, Malkin is aghast and claims the Bush White House never would have lobbied and negotiated with TV nets in hopes of landing primetime coverage:

    This is not how the previous administration operated.

    Except that, of course, she's wrong.

    From the New York Times, April 9, 2005 [emphasis added]:

    In a showdown that featured inside-the-Beltway lobbying and bare-knuckle boardroom negotiating, Donald J. Trump and President Bush effectively squared off yesterday in pursuit of the same parcel of real estate - a piece of the NBC-TV prime-time lineup. And it was the president who blinked first.

  • Cue the world's smallest violin, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As Jamison noted earlier today, Howard Kurtz at the WashPost becomes the latest Beltway reporter to allow network execs whine about having to air Obama's primetime press conferences. He's also the latest Beltway reporter to buy the nonsense that networks lose millions in advertising dollars every time Obama goes primetime. (See here why that's not the case.)

    Plus, Kurtz became the latest Beltway reporter to leave out this fact in his article about how upset network TV suits are about airing White House press conferences: The networks use the public airwaves for free and have raked in billions over the years doing so.

    Reporters love to hear arrogant network execs whine about having to shuffle their precious primetime TV schedules in order to provide a (rare) public function. But reporters refuse to note that the networks only exists because they get to the use public airwaves for free.

    If the nets want to turn their back on their public obligation, that's fine. Just inform the FCC and I'm sure the commission can come up with a seven, eight, or nine-figure payment schedule that would cover the nets' future use of our airwaves.

  • The press plays dumb about Michelle Malkin's book

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As Malkin traipses her way through the evil liberal media, which is giving her all kinds of free airtime to hawk her book, I'm just wondering are any of her hosts going to note the complete absurdity of writing an anti-Obama book six months into his first term?

    Even if Malkin's publisher rushed this title out, it means she basically finished the manuscript in May. So in just four months, between late January and late May, Malkin was able to tease out all kinds of damaging information about the Obama administration while it was being assembled? She uncovered scandalous "abuses of power throughout his administration"?

    That's patently absurd. The book, and its premise, is just ODS unleashed.

    But don't look for many members of the the press to point that out. They don't want to make Michelle angry. (She might blog mean things about them!)

    UPDATED: A key Malkin talking point on The View today was that, "We have a technology czar who is a convicted shoplifter."

    The facts:

    According to the Associated Press, [while in college, Vivek] Kundra stole $134 worth of shirts from a JC Penney store. He pleaded guilty to the charge in 1997, and served 80 hours of community service.

    I guess when you have only four months to work with, that's the kind of 'scoop' you're forced to hype.

    UPDATED: Would anyone anywhere on this media planet have taken seriously a viciously anti-Bush book that detailed his administration's awful, corrupt ways, published just six months into his first term? Didn't think so. It would have been ignored and/or mocked. But inside the Beltway, Malkin's loony rants must be heard--and broadcast--by all.

    Behold your liberal media.