• A note about the New York Times' dreadful online Beer Summit coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Three Times reporters live blogged the event (i.e the photo op), which is just too dumb for words. Everybody in D.C. knew there would be no actual news from the White House visit from Prof. Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley. That was a given. But of course, that didn't stop the press from over-covering the non-event. In fact, I think the promise of news-free event only encouraged more coverage because it took the pressure off reporters to do any reporting.

    Anyway, this was the Times headline online for its pointless coverage:

    What a White House Beer Says About Race and Politics

    What's so significant about the headline? It was a rather lame attempt by Times editors prop up the shallow coverage as being deeply important (i.e. "Race and Politics"!). Trust me, the live-blogging the Times posted online had zero to do with the state or race in America and zero to do with our politics. Instead, the coverage was just insipid. It was three Times reporters basically sitting around the watching paint dry and pretending it was something much different and more important.

    A taste:

    They're Here | 5:42 p.m.

    Helene Cooper: A White House official says both Professor Gates and Sgt. James Crowley and their respective families have arrived and are in the building.

    Everyone is getting along so far, the official said.

    A more accurate and honest headline above the train wreck coverage would have read:

    What a White House Beer Says About The Beltway Media

    P.S. Nice touch by Times reporters to include as part of their coverage a link to a far-right National Review hit piece on Obama and race.

  • Dobbs ratings reportedly take a nose dive since eruption of birther controversy

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From a July 30 New York Observer article:

    To wit: According to The Observer's analysis of Nielsen data, in recent weeks, as criticism of Mr. Dobbs has continued to go up, his ratings at CNN have continued to go down.

    Mr. Dobbs' first began reporting on Obama birth certificate conspiracy theories on the night of Wednesday, July 15. In the roughly two weeks since then, from July 15 through July 28, Mr. Dobbs' 7 p.m. show on CNN has averaged 653,000 total viewers and 157,000 in the 25-54 demo.

    By contrast, during the first two weeks of the month (July 1 to July 14) Mr. Dobbs averaged 771,000 total viewers and 218,000 in the 25-54 demo. In other words, Mr. Dobbs' audience has decreased 15 percent in total viewers and 27 percent in the demo since the start of the controversy.

    Arguably, interest in cable news has slumped across the board since early July when attention over Michael Jackson's death was still at a fever pitch.

    But, that said, Mr. Dobbs' ratings over the past two weeks, during the height of the "birthers" controversy, are also down significantly compared to his overall numbers during the second quarter of 2009 when he averaged 769,000 total viewers and 222,000 in the 25-54 demo.

    In summary, if Mr. Dobbs' affinity for "birthers" is a ratings ploy, it's a pretty ineffective one.


    Fox's Chris Wallace: Lou Dobbs looking like "grassy knoll nut," wonders if CNN would advance flat earth theories

    Goldberg on Dobbs' birther coverage: "If ratings would go up by doing this, [CNN Pres. Klein would] have no problem about the image"

  • This can't really be happening, can it?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Earlier today, MSNBC showed video footage of Henry Louis Gates walking to a car, on his way to the airport.

    Now they have a countdown graphic showing -- to the second -- how much time remains before the "BEER SUMMIT." Like it's a space shuttle launch. But with a sketch of three frosty mugs of beer.

  • ABC News makes my head hurt. Again

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT


    Overachiever-in-Chief: Is There an Issue the President Won't Weigh in On? Obama Juggles Policy With Sports Lobbying

    And believe it or not, the article is actually worse than the headline. The entire he's-doing-too-much! premise is built around the fact that Obama is trying to help bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup soccer championship to the United States, and Obama is also trying to help bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. In other words, he's been involved in utterly routine bouts of outreach by a POTUS, but ABC frets that it's just too much for Obama to "juggle."

    Specifically, Obama recently hosted Joseph Blatter, the head of FIFA, soccer's international governing body. at the White House for a brief meeting. And in the spring Obama sent a letter to FIFA.

    And oh yeah, FIFA's Blatter also sits on International Olympic Committee, so ABC assumes that Obama pitched Blatter about having the Olympics in Chicago.

    That's it. That's all ABC News points to as proof of an overextended Obama. Yet from those mundane details, ABC gets all the-sky-is-falling [emphasis added]:

    From soccer to the Olympics to even the college football championship system, Obama certainly has been outspoken on sports issues. But is the president risking overexposure by weighing in on so much outside the political arena?

    Oh brother.

    UPDATED: Love this CF reader comment:


    We have one cable news outlet that's now showing a Beer Summit Countdown Clock on the screen.

    And the news media have the nerve to complain it's Obama's fault that he might be overexposed???????

  • But we thought conservatives couldn't find jobs in the liberal media

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Newsbusters has practically trademarked this whine over the years: Newsrooms are conservative-free work zones and Republicans are actively excluded. I've never bought that claim because I've never once seen or heard a legitimate tale of a journalist who was fired or couldn't get hired simply because they weren't liberal. (Fact: Editors don't care!)

    And I've also suggested that if surveys show that newsrooms lean a little left that's because liberals like being journalists and conservatives like to make a decent living. And that of course, if conservatives coming out of college want to earn a dreadful income with an entry level job in a dying news industry, they're welcomed to do so. It's just that not many seem interested in those job prospects, which means there aren't many conservatives to hire, which then allows Brent Bozell to manufacture the claim that conservatives get excluded.

    But let's take a look at Politico reporter Josh Kraushaar, who caught my attention this week because he had a byline on a particularly awful piece about (surprise!) the GOP's mighty resurgence. This is the same Beltway chestnut that's been written over over for the last several years. (Glenn Greenwald walks us through the greatest hits.)

    The Politico piece was just Republican spin, pure and simple because (all together now) Politico is really just a GOP bulletin board. But what's interesting is that based on his previous blogging, Josh Kraushaar clearly has a partisan GOP streak. He was a Iraq War cheerleader, quite critical of peace activists, and lambasted liberal professors. He's a big fan of Power Line, InstaPundit, and Little Green Footballs. And during a brief foray into movie reviewing, he once wrote, "Community, family values, religion, strong work ethic, love of America: what more could a red meat conservative ask for in a movie?"

    But now he's a news reporter for Politico and this week wrote an article that was nearly indistinguishable from an RNC press release. (Headline: "Backlash: Democratic dangers mount.") Coincidence? Perhaps. But unlike conservative media critics, I'm not in the habit of reading minds or assigning blanket motivations so I'm not going to cast aspirations. What I do think is telling though, is how Kraushaar seems to obliterate the right-wing whine about how conservatives are locked out of newsrooms for purely political reasons. In truth, and based on his previous blogging, Kraushaar couldn't be more far-right if he tried, yet he's been hired as a reporter at an influential political publication.

    Which is weird, because I thought conservatives couldn't find jobs in the liberal media.

  • Howard Kurtz: Rich but bankrupt?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Another day, 2,200 more words from the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz -- and still none about CNN president Jonathan Klein's embrace of Lou Dobbs Birther conspiracy theories. None about CNN (where Kurtz also works) at all, actually.

    I have a new column up today about Howard Kurtz' glaring conflict of interest -- far worse than the conflicts he frequently hits other reporters for. Here's a taste:

    Clearly, for journalists ... television is the key to big-bucks success. ... The public has a right to expect that those who pontificate for a living are not in financial cahoots with the industries and lobbies they analyze on the air. Too many reporters and pundits simply have a blind spot on this issue. They have been seduced by the affluence and adulation that comes with television success. They are engaging in drive-by journalism, rushing from television studio to lecture hall with their palms outstretched. ... The talk show culture has made them rich but, in a very real sense, left them bankrupt.

    Oh. Wait. No, I'm sorry -- that's from Howard Kurtz's 1996 book Hot Air. See how Kurtz has become what he once denounced here.

  • I think Chuck Todd owes Arianna Huffington an apology

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    On Wednesday, MSNBC's Todd attacked Glenn Beck for calling Obama a racist. Todd then used that incident as a jumping-off point to vent about what else was wrong with the press. In the process though, he seemed to take a gratuitously cheap shot at Huffington and her ground-breaking site, as well as compare it to the standard-less nonsense that seeps out of Fox News [emphasis added]:

    It's getting nuts that the folks who are creating the perception of an ideological/polarized media world are people who have never really spent their lives being journalists. Whether it's former political consultants-turned-TV execs or former radio DJs, or former California socialites, the folks helping to accelerate the public's perception of the media off a cliff made their livings trying to do other things.

    To me, the first and third references are clearly to Roger Ailes and Arianna Huffington. (Politico agreed.) In the eyes of Beltway insider Todd, they're both equally responsible for tarnishing the good work of journalists. Really? The Huffington Post is driving the public perception of the media off the cliff? How? In what way? I suspect there are millions of HP readers who would say the opposite; that the site has restored their faith in journalism and what can be accomplished when outsiders are empowered.

    To me, it seems Todd is practicing the age-old Beltway game of blaming the right and left even though the left is pretty much blameless. I mean, why would Todd drag Huffington into a discussion about the rancid behavior of Fox News' Glenn Beck? There's zero connection. But it seems Todd wasn't comfortable simply writing a post that knocked Fox News (liberal bias!!), so he threw in a reference to Huffington in order to cover his butt.

    Meanwhile, did Todd really suggest Huffington wasn't a journalist? She's a big girl and can defend herself, but honestly, just look at her resume. Prior to launching HP, she was an award-winning author/biographer and worked as a nationally syndicated columnist.

    Bottom line: The next time somebody on Fox News says something offensive and idiotic and hateful, Todd ought to just say so, and not play the I-blame-both-side game.