• Failing up, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Just to add to Jamison's point about Jeffrey Rosen's star turn on the back of now infamous hatchet job on Judge Sonia Sotomayor for TNR, and how Rosen continues to land assignments from fancy, 'important' magazines. (He's got buzz!).

    The fact is Rosen, now writing for Time, still can't write honestly about Sotomayor. In fact, Rosen can't even perform Journalism 101.

    This is utterly predictable, but behold nonetheless [emphasis added]:

    Republican critics of Sotomayor are planning to use the Ricci decision as Exhibit A in what they hope will be confirmation hearings focused on her views about race. Exhibit B is a speech she delivered in 2001 that included the following 32 words: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." ...Sotomayor expressed regret about her word choice to Senator Dianne Feinstein. But after the Senate Judiciary Committee released Sotomayor's complete list of speeches, it emerged that she had delivered many versions of the same stump speech — seven by one count — between 1994 and 2003. In all of them, she suggested that a judge who was a "wise woman" or a "wise Latina woman" would issue a better opinion than a male or a white male judge.

    Sotomayor's defenders say that those words were taken out of context and that her appellate opinions are hardly radical on race.

    Rosen claims that in every instance, Sotomayor was making the sweeping claim that a "wise Latina woman" would make better decisions from the bench than white men. But oh yeah, her supporters say the quote was taken out of context.

    That's it. Rosen never explains what the actual context was. (i.e. The "Latina woman" reference was made specifically in terms of discrimination cases.) Instead, Rosen adopts the GOP spin about the quotes and pretends Sotomayor was announcing the unequivocal superiority of Latina women.

    But Rosen's safe, because inside the Beltway that's how the "Latina woman" story must be covered. Can a Vanity Fair feature assignment on Sotomayor be far off?

  • Another week, three more TV appearances for Liz Cheney

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Liz Cheney has now made at least 25 national TV appearances since Media Matters started counting on May 12. And that's not counting the time CNN devoted on June 6 to replaying Cheney's June 4 CNN appearance in its entirety.

    The updated list is below.

    • On the June 10 edition of CNN's Larry King Live
    • On the June 9 edition of CNN's Campbell Brown
    • On the June 5 edition of Fox News' On the Record
    • On the June 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room (5 p.m. ET hour) (this interview was replayed in its entirety on the June 6 edition of CNN's The Situation Room)
    • On the June 4 edition of Fox News' Your World
    • On the June 4 edition of MSNBC Live (1 p.m. ET hour)
    • On the June 4 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe (7 a.m. ET hour)
    • On the June 2 edition of Fox News' On the Record (Part II of Greta Van Susteren's interview with Dick and Liz Cheney)
    • On the June 1 edition of Fox News' On the Record (Part I of Greta Van Susteren's interview with Dick and Liz Cheney)
    • On the June 1 edition of CNN's Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull
    • On the May 28 edition of MSNBC Live (2 p.m. ET hour)
    • On the May 27 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends
    • On the May 26 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk
    • On the May 22 edition of ABC's Good Morning America
    • On the May 22 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe
    • On the May 22 edition of CNN's American Morning
    • On the May 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360
    • On the May 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity
    • On the May 21 edition of MSNBC Live
    • On the May 20 edition of Fox News' Your World
    • On the May 17 edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos
    • On the May 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday
    • On the May 15 edition of Fox News' On the Record
    • On the May 12 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk
    • On the May 12 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe

    Thanks to Chrissy Schwen, Zachary Pleat, and Hannah Kieschnick for assembling this list.

  • The Red Scare Index: 43

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Thursday, June 11, 2009:

    TOTAL: 43
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 21
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 12
    Marxism/Marxist: 7
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 3

    By Network:

    CNN: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNN Headline News: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 20
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 8
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 5
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    Fox Business Network: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    MSNBC: 9
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 1
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    CNBC: 3
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 0
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1

    The above numbers are the result of a power search for these terms on these networks.

  • When will Politico report that the Holocaust Museum shooter "targeted" the Washington Post?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    After all, there are just as many public facts to support the Washington Post claim as there are to back up Politico's sensational report yesterday about how accused Holocaust Museum killer James von Brunn had "targeted" the conservative Weekly Standard.

    To review, Politico's Ben Smith wrote yesterday that investigators found the address of the Weekly Standard in von Brunn's car and that investigators visited the mag to see if it had received any recent threats. From my reading, the story sort of ended there with a thud. (The investigators' visit to the magazine seemed utterly routine in this case.) But Smith saw something much more provocative. And so even though he had no additional facts to substantiate the claim that von Brunn had targeted the Weekly Standard, that didn't stop Smith from reporting, as fact, that von Brunn had "targeted" the Weekly Standard.

    And yes, conservative bloggers loved Smith's version of events and started repeating the claim that the Holocaust Museum shooter targeted the Weekly Standard.

    But guess what? According to investigators, the address of the Washington Post was also found in von Brunn's car. And I'd bet anybody $10 that the Post received a follow-up visit from investigators to see if the paper had received any threats recently.

    So shouldn't Politico launch the story that the Washington Post was "targeted" by von Brunn, since there's just as much evidence to support that claim as there was when Politico announced, categorically, that the alleged killer had "targeted" the Weekly Standard?

    UPDATE: Also found inside von Brunn's car was the address for the White House as well as an anti-Obama note. So using the Politico standard, should we now state unequivocally that von Brunn "targeted" the president? Don't think conservatives are going to like that one, though.

    UPDATE: For conservatives like Michelle Malkin who are positively giddy about the shaky Weekly Standard report and who are convinced that proves von Brunn wasn't a right-winger because how could a conservative possibly be angry at the neoconservative Weekly Standard, please pick up a copy of conservative Pat Buchanan's book, Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted The Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency.

  • What Krugman said

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From today's column:

    Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.

    And that's what's so troubling and important to understand about the current hate speech phenomena that's greeted the Obama administration. As I've noted, the kind of vigilante, militia-style rhetoric that we're seeing and hearing today was also hatched in response to the election of Clinton in the early `90's. But haters back then had to search out the really vile stuff from the underground media, or a handful of AM talk show hosts.

    Today, thanks to Fox News, Limbaugh and right-wing bloggers, that same kind of dehumanizing, anti-Democratic rhetoric has been dumped right into the mainstream. It's part of our everyday conversation and fringe players now see their deepest fears legitimized by so-called mainstream outlets.

    Notes Krugman:

    And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.

  • NRO's Andrew McCarthy doesn't read too good

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Over at The Corner, McCarthy's busy bashing the Department Homeland Security that warned about possible acts of anti-Semitic violence from lone wolf white supremacists, just like the one that struck the Holocaust Museum. Y'know, the report that also warned about right-wing domestic terrorists, like the one who is accused of assassinating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, and the right-wing gun nut charged with killing Pittsburgh cops.

    But McCarthy's angry because despite that obvious trend of far-right attacks, he's sure the DHS report, which warned about precisely that kind of violence, was somehow off the mark. Whatever you say Andrew.

    But this passage was especially embarrassing [emphasis added]:

    The DHS report was noxious because it smeared conservatives as bigots and claimed, in the absence of any evidence that "right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruits"

    Number of times "conservative" was mentioned in the DHS report? Zero.

    Why conservatives continue to see their own reflection in a report that's basically about skinheads and white supremacists remains one of the more troubling political questions of 2009.

  • Look who Pat Buchanan's hanging out with

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In a column on Monday, I detailed Pat Buchanan's 40+ year history of inflammatory comments about women, minorities, the Holocaust and a variety of other topics.

    Now David Holthouse of the Southern Poverty Law Center notes that Buchanan is hosting a "prominent white nationalist" at an upcoming conference:

    MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan added to his decades-long history of racist activism by inviting a prominent white nationalist to speak at the upcoming national conference of Buchanan's immigrant-bashing organization The American Cause (TAC), the white nationalist hate website announced earlier this week.

    According to a bulletin on its homepage, owner Peter Brimelow is now scheduled to speak at The American's Cause's "Building A New Majority Conference" in McLean, Va., on June 20.

    The conference plans to ponder the question, "Has the culture, economy, and demographics of our country passed a tipping point where Conservatives can no longer rule with a mandate?"

    Although Brimelow's name does not appear on The American Cause's website, the keynote speaker for the conference is not identified, and Brimelow was a panelist at a symposium hosted by TAC last January.


    Conspicuously absent from the speaker list for the June conference is TAC Executive Director Marcus Epstein, a frequent speaker at the group's events. Epstein may be keeping a lower profile this time around because he's scheduled to be sentenced on July 8 for drunkenly calling an African-American passerby a "nigger" at a major intersection in Washington, D.C., before attempting to strike her with a karate chop.

    If you don't want to hang out with the likes of Peter Brimelow at the American Cause conference but still want to hear Pat Buchanan's nuanced views on race and gender, you can tune in to MSNBC, where he inexplicably has a gig as a regular commentator.

  • Ben Smith at Politico, please define "targeted"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Smith wrote that the alleged Holocaust Museum killer, James von Brunn, "targeted" the conservative Weekly Standard for attack, and that that complicates the debate about the alleged gunman's politics. But I don't see any facts to back up Smith's definitive claim.

    Under the provocative headline, "Weekly Standard may have been shooter target," Smith wrote:

    FBI agents visited the offices of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine yesterday after a shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum and told employees they'd found the magazine's address

    A senior Standard staffer confirmed the visit but declined to discuss it in detail. An FBI spokeswoman, Katherine Schweit , also declined to comment on the investigation.

    Two other sources said two FBI agents arrived shortly after 5:00 p.m. Thursday at the 17th Street offices of the magazine. They told staffers that they had found the address of the magazine on a piece of paper associated with the shooter, James von Brunn, and asked whether the Standard had received any threats.

    The magazine is about a mile north of the Holocaust Museum, and there's no other indication that von Brunn had targeted it. Von Brunn's published rants included attacks on "neocons," and the Standard has been at the heart of the neoconservative movement.

    Interesting. Investigators found the Weekly Standard address in von Brunn's car. (They also found lots of others.) Investigators went to the office to ask if the magazine had received any threats. And from that rather ordinary follow-up, Smith concludes the magazine may have been a target.

    That's his call, even though Smith couldn't find any investigators or Weekly staffers to buttress the claim.

    The real problem though, came when Smith later returned the topic and suddenly all qualifiers were gone and it was reported as established fact. Suddenly von Brunn had categorically "targeted" the Weekly Standard for attack, even though Smith added no new facts to support the claim:

    I'd suggested earlier that James Van Brunn defies easy left-right classification because he'd targeted the Weekly Standard, and Jon Chait makes the fair point that the fact that the new information doesn't mean the shooter is incoherent or doesn't fit into the extreme edge of the Buchananite right.

    Of course, it's possible that von Brunn had other targets and one of them may have included the Weekly Standard. But for such a serious claim, Smith and Politico are being awfully casual with the facts.

  • Failing Up

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    What happens when you write an innuendo-laden hit piece on a prospective Supreme Court nominee without, by your own admission, bothering to read enough of her opinions or talk to enough of her colleagues to reach a fair assessment, in which you crop a comment by one of her fellow judges who described her as smart so that you can portray the judge as having said she is "not that smart" -- a false characterization you still have not corrected more than a month later?

    If you're Jeffrey Rosen, and the target of your hit-piece is Sonia Sotomayor, Time magazine invites you to write more about her.

  • Goldfarb keeps digging

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb hits back at critics, two weeks later:

    This blog stated that Sotomayor, because of her ethnic background, had been the beneficiary of preferential treatment from both Princeton and Yale. Such a statement would seem beyond dispute -- affirmative action policies were in place at both schools and designed specifically to provide someone with Sotomayor's background an easier path to admission. Yet the left was outraged that anyone would suggest Sotomayor had benefited from affirmative action.

    That isn't what happened. Not even close. I know, because I wrote the post Goldfarb linked to with the words "was outraged."

    Here's what actually happened:

    Michael Goldfarb wrote that Sonia Sotomayor benefited from "preferential treatment" because a law firm that asked her wildly inappropriate questions while she was a student at Yale Law later apologized for those wildly inappropriate questions. That is transparently absurd, as I pointed out in the post to which Goldfarb refers.

    Two days later, Goldfarb made even more of a fool of himself, snidely claiming that Sotomayor was allowed to teach her own class and grade her own work, and suggesting that this may have explained her ability to graduate from Princeton with honors. None of that ever happened, as even a cursory glance at the press release his claims were based on makes clear. So I pointed out that Goldfarb either didn't or couldn't read the press release.

    Several others joined in, pointing and laughing at Goldfarb's foolishness. Still, he refused to correct his glaring error. Instead, he eventually added an update, quoting a National Review writer, that continued to suggest that Sotomayor essentially graded herself. (Note that Goldfarb didn't link to my posts about the press releases as an example of the "outrage" on the left -- probably because he recognizes how bad he looks as a result of the press release fiasco.)

    To this day, Goldfarb hasn't really corrected his mistake. And, lest there be any doubt, he did make a (rather obvious) mistake. I contacted Princeton University at the time, and the school's Director of Media Relations confirmed that Goldfarb "misunderstood the press release."

    So, it wasn't that "the left" was "outraged" that anyone would suggest Sotomayor benefited from affirmative action. It was that Goldfarb made painfully dumb and transparently false claims, which many people pointed out, and which he still hasn't corrected.

    But I can see how Goldfarb is confused. After all, if he can't read a simple press release, how can he be expected to read and comprehend the two blog posts he links to?