• ESPN criticizes Fox & CBS' airing of Andrews peephole clips as "beyond the pale"; bans NY Post reporters

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From a July 22 Newsday blog post by sports columnist Neil Best:

    ESPN retaliated Wednesday against the New York Post for its decision to use still images of Erin Andrews from an illegally obtained videotape, banning Post staffers from its various outlets, including its TV networks and 1050 ESPN Radio.

    "In light of the New York Post's decision to run graphic photos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, we have decided to stop utilizing Post reporters on any of our outlets," ESPN's senior VP of communications, Chris LaPlaca said.

    "Erin was grievously wronged here, and while we understand the Post's decision to cover this as a news story, their running photos obtained in such a fashion went well beyond the boundaries of common decency in the interest of sensationalism. This is not a decision we undertook lightly, but we feel it is an appropriate one."

    The Post used images both in print and on its Web site Tuesday from a video the showed Andrews in the nude in a hotel room.

    It is not yet clear where the video was shot or who shot it, but Andrews' attorney has promised legal action against any media outlet that publishes the material.


    LaPlaca stressed it was the Post's use of the photos, not the story itself, that was objectionable. And that the decision was not directed at the Post employees who have appeared on ESPN outlets, whom he called "innocent bystanders."

    CBS and Fox used snippets of the video itself on their morning shows Tuesday, which LaPlaca called "beyond the pale."

    But he said ESPN could not take the kind of action against those networks that it did against the Post because ESPN does not regularly employ those networks' personnel.


    Fox News, CBS air clips of peephole video of ESPN's Erin Andrews

  • "A Reasonable Interview"

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN V. SANTORE

    Today, CNN's Tony Harris provided Senator Tom Coburn with an uncontested platform from which to broadcast a host of conservative objections to Democratic health care reform efforts. Not only did Harris make no effort to provide a countervailing point of view or fact-check Coburn's statements, he legitimized the Senator's viewpoint through effusive praise, ending the interview like this:

    "We love having you on the program. You know, we think you're a reasonable voice in all of this, and we're trying to stay out of the echo chamber of all the noise and we're trying to stay focused on how to get this done. If you wouldn't mind, we've got an open invitation for you to come on the program."


    A reasonable voice? What would Coburn have to say in order for Harris to consider him unreasonable?

    Well, pretending to be Ricky Ricardo while questioning Sonia Sotomayor doesn't count. Nor does lamenting the "rampant" lesbianism in Oklahoma's schools, or decrying the fact that the "gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country," resulting in an agenda that promotes "the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners" and is "the greatest threat to our freedom we face today."

    For Harris, favoring the death penalty for "abortionists" is apparently reasonable, as is the fact that Coburn described his senate run in 2004 as a fight between "good and evil."

    And just to be clear: believing that the President is "way too young and way too inexperienced to lead this country" while also thinking that silicone breast implants make you healthier -- that's all reasonable, too.

    Thank goodness we steered clear of that echo chamber!

  • Rescuing the economy, in context

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    If we're going to spend the next week hearing about Rahm Emanuel's comment about "rescuing" the economy -- and it seems likely it will, given how the right-wing noise machine is latching onto it -- wouldn't it be nice to know what he actually said?

    The quote comes from a New York Times article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg that provides precious little context -- and precious few words inside quotation marks:

    Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview that the president intended to use the news conference, scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern time, as a "six-month report card," to talk about "how we rescued the economy from the worst recession" and the legislative agenda moving forward, including health care and energy legislation, which squeaked through the House and faces a tough road in the Senate.

    Sure looks like Emanuel was simply saying that the Obama administration's policies have saved the country from what would have been a much worse recession. Nothing particularly scandalous about that, even if you don't agree with him.

    But John Boehner is cropping that already brief quote, turning it into a claim that the Obama administration has "rescued the economy" -- dropping off the bit about "from the worst recession" -- and Politico is there to type up Boehner's comments and fail to provide the missing context.

    Based on what the Times reported, that's a phony line of attack, and media should make that clear rather than enabling it. But it would also be helpful if the Times made the full context available.

  • Meaningless poll data of the day

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Dear reporters:

    Poll data about whether people "approve of President Obama's handling of health care" tells us approximately nothing.

    Some may disapprove because they think the government should have no involvement in health care whatsoever, and wish Obama would push a repeal of Medicare. Some may disapprove because they favor true government-run health care wherein the government employs doctors and runs hospitals. Some may disapprove because they want exactly what Obama is proposing, but think he is pursuing a flawed political approach to passing the legislation.

    In short, poll questions about whether people approve of Obama's handling of health care, without getting at why they feel that way, are pretty much useless at this stage of the game. Please stop reporting them as though they are meaningful.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

  • Howard Kurtz, define "falling flat"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Howard Kurtz, in today's column:

    Why does his [President Obama's] pitch for health-care reform seem to be falling flat while special interests and Republican critics are picking apart every sub-section they don't like?

    Obama's pitch for health care reform is "falling flat"? Really? That's a strange thing to conclude from polling that shows that most people want health care reform, and want it to include a public plan. Unfortunately, Kurtz didn't include any data to back up his assertion, so there's no telling what he meant.

    As Media Matters has shown, the news media is giving significantly more attention to perceived setbacks in the health care reform effort than to progress. That's the kind of thing you might expect a media critic like Howard Kurtz to address in a "Media Notes" column. But no. Instead, as he often does, Kurtz attempts to assess President Obama rather than the media. And in doing so, he makes assertions that are not supported by the facts.

  • Fox Nation links to video titled: "Rick Sanchez Puts End To Obama Birth Certificate Issue"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On July 22, Fox Nation's main page featured the headline "CNN Holds Up Copy of Obama Birth Certificate," which links to a web page containing an embedded video of CNN's Rick Sanchez debunking claims about President Obama's birth certificate. The embedded video is titled, "Rick Sanchez Puts End to Obama Birth Certificate..," as shown below:

    Fox Nation links to video titled Rick Sanchez Puts End To Obama Birth Certificate Issue

    The Fox Nation page links to this YouTube page:



    Fox Nation again posts birther story with picture of Obama in Somali clothes

    Fox News still trafficking in birth certificate theories

    CNN's Sanchez airs 1961 Honolulu Advertiser "birth announcement," but Ben Ferguson still wonders why Obama won't put birther theory "to bed"

  • Some context for Blue Dogs/health care coverage might be nice

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In reading and watching much of the coverage this week about the ongoing debate and negotiations over Obama's proposed health care reform, I keep coming back to an essay Cenk Uygur posted over at Huffington Post earlier this week, which highlighted the glaring lack of context in the media's health coverage. And specifically, its coverage of the role conservative 'Blue Dog' Democrats are playing as they resist the White House's health care reform.

    The point Uygur made was the press almost never includes any context about the Blue Dogs or hints at possible political motivation in their decision to oppose the White House. From the media's perspective, Blue Dogs are acting solely out of their deep concern for fiscal spending, and nothing more. It's a world where lobbyists, special interest and ulterior motives do not exist, and where reporters simply type up whatever politicians say without ever (ever!) providing fuller political context.

    Uygur has his doubts though, about the Blue Dogs:

    Did it not occur to these reporters that some of these so-called conservative or centrist Democrats might be against this reform effort because their primary financial benefactors are the same healthcare companies that are desperate to kill this bill? Would it not have given the reader a better and more informed perspective to at least mention this possibility? Or do you want to just take these politicians at their word?

    A perfect example of the media's context-free reporting appears in this WSJ news article about Rep. Mike Ross ("A 'Blue Dog' Has His Day"), which is blissfully (obediently) context-free:

    The health standoff is the most dramatic show of force so far by Democratic moderates. On the climate bill, Democratic leaders picked off opponents by making individual promises. The Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats, are determined to stick together this time.

    There are 51 Blue Dogs in the full House, Mr. Ross pointed out, more than enough to kill the health bill if they join the Republicans.

    The Journal article stresses that Ross really, really wants to vote for health care reform, and hints the other Blue Dogs do, too. It's just that they're consciences won't be clean if they support such costly legislation. That may well be true. But there's very likely another side to the story, and it'd be nice if the press started covering it, too.

  • Lou Dobbs' CNN colleague Roland Martin: "nut jobs" on radio, TV, and Internet promoting "loony" birther story

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From CNN contributor Roland S. Martin's July 22 column published on, headlined, "Obama birth issue is nutty":

    The nut jobs that continue to promote this story are wacky, right-wing radio and TV talk shows hosts and no-credibility bloggers. They have latched onto this story like bloodsucking leeches, and actually want us to believe this story has legs.

    Last week, in a suit filed by perennial presidential loser, Alan Keyes, they even tried to claim a court victory after a federal district judge in California asked to listen to the merits of their case. I'm sure he simply wanted to see for himself how delusional they are.

    From the moment President Obama entered the race, he has had to endure the so-called flag-waving American patriots who think they are the arbiters of what's right for the country. What cracks me up is that in order to justify their loony beliefs, they say, "The president could just end this once and for all by producing the birth certificate."

    Do you actually believe these wackos will stop there? They will then accuse the president of doctoring the document and ordering up the state of Hawaii and federal officials to create the birth certificate.

    The next thing you know, one of those nut job right-wingers in Congress -- and yes, there are left-wing nut jobs as well -- will demand a federal investigation into the production of the birth certificate.


    Dobbs still on birther bandwagon, says "no one" knows "the reality" of Obama's birth certificate

    CNN's Pilgrim refutes Dobbs on Dobbs over birth certificate

    CNN's Sanchez airs 1961 Honolulu Advertiser "birth announcement," but Ben Ferguson still wonders why Obama won't put birther theory "to bed"

  • UPDATED: Noel Sheppard can't be this dumb, can he?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Jamison originally asked the question, after Newsbusters' Sheppard wrote this:

    In another example of Barack Obama's appeal diminishing with the public, the White House was forced to reschedule Wednesday's press conference to 8PM from 9PM as NBC didn't want its summer hit "America's Got Talent" to be pre-empted.

    Hee-hee, wrote Sheppard, Obama's tanking because look, a TV network wanted to air some goofy entertainment show instead of a WH primetime press conference, so Obama blinked and had to change the time of the presser.


    If that's the unique way he now judges sitting presidents, I'm assuming Sheppard is not familiar with this New York Times dispatch, from April 29, 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.