• Washington Examiner, please define "linked"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From this misleading headline:

    Hoyer-linked firm wins $18M contract

    The item's written by David Freddoso, who authored a get-Obama book last year. The premise is that Smartronix, a Maryland-based company located in the Congressional district of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, just landed a sizable government contract to re-design the website.

    That's a rather pedestrian development. Where's the news? Where's the link? Turns out there is none, other than the fact that the company is based in Hoyer's district. Hoyer had nothing to do with the firm landing the contract and didn't even know about it until after the fact. Quite a "link", eh?

    Actually, there is one link. According to the report, over the last ten years three execs at Smartronix have donated, on average, $600 per-year to Hoyer, their local (and influential) Congressman.

    I kid you not. That's the newsworthy "link."

    UPDATED: I love conservative 'journalism.' Note this passage from Freddoso piece [emphasis added]:

    ABC reports this morning that the Maryland firm Smartronix has won what seems like an enormous $18 million contract to re-design the website.

    What does that highlighted section even mean? Is Freddoso suggesting the contract "seems" to be for $18 million, or that the contract "seems" to be enormous? If it's the latter, on what planet does a government contract worth $18 million (that's million, not billion) suddenly pass for "enormous"?

  • UPDATED: More right-wing mythology about Sarah Palin's nasty press coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Why is Time being so mean to Sarah Palin?! Sure, they put her on the cover, and yeah they generously photographed her as a J. Crew cover girl look-alike. But just look at this lede! No wonder conservatives are so furious with how media elites are attacking poor Palin:

    Sarah Palin is that most exotic of American creatures: an Alaska original, raised and ripened in an environment remote, extreme, unfamiliar — and free. A land of self-invention, where no one bats an eye at a mom-deckhand-governor-whatever-comes-next. Ever since John McCain introduced his running mate last year, Palin has been like a modern-day version of the captive specimens hauled back to Europe by explorers of old. Like Squanto in London, she speaks the language — if not always the idiom — of the audiences she fascinates. But she remains, on some level, unknowable.

    Okay, that's not the best example, because that's actually a rather flattering take on Palin.

    But take a look here at how the Time writers swoop in for the kill:

    Whether that is true or not, Palin's unconventional step speaks to an ingrained frontier skepticism of authority — even one's own. Given the plunging credibility of institutions and élites, that's a mood that fits the Palin brand...If ever there has been a time to gamble on a flimsy résumé, ever a time for the ultimate outsider, this might be it.

    Again, not the best example. Reads like it was written by Bill Kristol.

    Okay, here's the real nasty stuff:

    So, bye, Alaska! She made her declaration on Independence Day weekend as a symbol, she says, of her new and exhilarating freedom. She's headed to a bookstore, a television set, a convention hall near you, armed with an anti-résumé. Cut loose from her obligations to her huge and awesome homeland, her message remains quintessentially Alaskan. Where she comes from — the last American frontier — the past is irrelevant, the rules are suspended, and limitations are for losers.

    Hmm, I'll keep searching...

  • Rupert Murdoch pays big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    According to a report in The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch – chairman of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News – has "paid out more than £1m (about $1.6 million) to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories."

    Fair and balanced (and illegally obtained?)

    Romenesko summarized the sordid story:

    ...Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary paid about $1.6 million to settle court cases involving allegations that its reporters worked with private investigators to hack into numerous public figures' cellphones. Murdoch tells Bloomberg News that's news to him. "If that had happened, I would know about it."

  • The Red Scare Index: 38

    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, Wednesday, July 08, 2009:

    TOTAL: 38
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 15
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 18
    Marxism/Marxist: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 5

    By Network:

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

    CNN Headline News: 6
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 6
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox News Channel: 6
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

    Fox Business Network: 11
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 7
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    MSNBC: 7
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 3
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 3

    CNBC: 6
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 5
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 0

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

  • NY Daily News, please define "popular"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Here's the News headline re: new Gallup survey:

    Sarah Palin still popular, says polls, despite quitting as Alaska Governor

    That's an interesting take considering the Gallup poll didn't set out to determine if Palin were popular or not. i.e. Gallup didn't ask voters if they liked Palin. They asked voters if they would vote for her. The results? A clear majority indicated they would likely not vote for her for president. That included a clear majority of independent voters who suggested they wouldn't vote for Palin.

    How does the Daily News translate that data into Palin being "popular"? And I'd hate to see the Gallup results if Palin were actually unpopular.

  • Palin, the press, and the ethics charges

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We noted earlier this week that the Anchorage Daily News did Palin's "No más" moment a real service when it put into context how much money the state of Alaska had spent on what Palin has derided as frivolous ethics investigations against her. They're costing the state millions, Palin has claimed, and cited the expenses as a reason for her decision to quit.

    But according to the ADN, the investigations have cost the state roughly $300,000, which raises all kinds of doubts about whether that was really the reason Palin decided to walk away from her governorship. At the time, we asked, did Palin really quit over a $300,000 tab? And would the rest of the press pick up on the ADN's analysis?

    We still don't know the real answer to the first question. But we know other journalists are now taking notice. WashPost blogger Greg Sargent delved into why Palin claims the ethics inquiries cost Alaska nearly $2 million in fees:

    But [David] Murrow, the [governor's] spokesperson, acknowledged to our reporter, Amanda Erickson, that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints — based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor's office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing. The complaints are "just distracting them from other duties," Murrow said.

    In other words, while these lawyers might have been free to do other legal work for the state, the ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn't drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.

    The ADN made a similar point:

    Palin said Monday she didn't view the cost as just the $300,000 for the personnel board -- but rather $2 million for the state. It is a figure her administration now uses -- not meant to be actual checks written by the state but to also reflect time of state employees.

    It is a per-hour calculation that the Palin administration put together, involving time spent by state lawyers deciding which public information to release as a result of all public records requests, time spent by governor's office staffers responding to media inquiries about ethics complaints, and time technicians spend on retrieving requested e-mail, among other things.

    In other words, the $2 million figure that Palin and her conservative defenders in the press use to justify her resignation looks increasingly dubious. Reporters and pundits ought to take note.

    UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Alaska bloggers are all over this story, providing important insight and analysis. See here, here and here.

  • The MJ coverage begins to take a toll on CNN

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As a rule, I think the less said about the excessive Michael Jackson coverage in recent weeks and days, the better. It goes without saying that the spectacle has morphed beyond news into something else entirely. And if Wolf Blitzer and Brian Williams and lots of other 'serious' journalists want to pretend, day after day, that Jackson's June death continues to constitute breaking news, then that's their problem.

    But I think that this CNN chyron from late Wednesday afternoon does deserve comment, as it seems to have crossed all kinds of decency boundaries. And yes, it read, "What are Jackson kids really like":

    Honestly, WTF? It's creepy enough that serious journalists chew up airtime discussing the custody possibilities of Jackson's kids. But to now poke and prod around the lives of elementary school-aged kids of a dead celebrity in hopes of finding out what they are "really like"? (Note that CNN had no interest in the kids when their father was alive.)

    It's just beyond the pale for any mainstream news org. And CNN, for one, needs to rethink where it's going with this often pointless Jackson coverage.

  • The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb doesn't read too good

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And that fact poses a problem when he tries to take down liberal writers. The way Goldfarb mocked The Daily Beast's Max Blumenthal for highlighting a Salon piece he did with Dave Neiwert last year about Sarah Palin and the family's ties to the secessionist Alaska Independence Party.

    This gets slightly bit into the weeds, but the gist is that last week CBS News reported that when that Salon piece came out in October it prompted a testy back-and-forth between Palin and John McCain's campaign chief Steve Schmidt. Palin wanted the AIP controversy put to bed, but Schmidt pushed back, insisting the campaign would not put out false information about Todd Palin's involvement.

    The CBS News report had the Palin/Schmidt emails to back up the story. And in the wake of Palin's surprising 'No más' moment last week, Blumenthal noted that his Salon story in October had "caused her deep personal distress, and provoked a rancorous series of exchanges with her campaign manager, Steve Schmidt."

    For some reason that was too much for Goldfarb, who ripped into Blumenthal for being delusional in thinking that his Salon story had any impact on Palin.

    The arrogance of that paragraph, even for a blogger, is striking. There is no evidence of "deep personal distress" from Blumenthal's shoddy reporting.

    Of course, as is custom for conservative media critics, Goldfarb never detailed in any way how Blumenthal's reporting was "shoddy." But more importantly, Goldfarb was adamant that there was "no evidence" that Blumenthal and Neiwert's piece had any effect on Palin.

    Except, of course, that the CBS report, complete with the angry Palin memos, proved conclusively the Salon report last October did have an effect on Palin [emphasis added]

    On the morning of Oct. 15, Palin was aboard her campaign jet and en route to New Hampshire when she happened to catch a disparaging CNN segment that touted the story, complete with a provocative graphic at the bottom of the screen reading, "THE PALINS AND THE FRINGE."

    While shaking hands after a rally later that afternoon, someone on the rope line shouted a remark at Palin about the AIP.

    The comment set her off. She worried that the campaign was not sufficiently mitigating the issue of her alleged connection to the party, which despite a platform that harkens more to the Civil War than the 21st century, continued to play a serious role in Alaska politics.

    Palin blasted out an e-mail with the subject line "Todd" to Schmidt, campaign manager Rick Davis and senior advisor Nicolle Wallace, copying her husband on the message.

    If the Salon story hadn't caused Palin any distress she wouldn't have gotten into an email pissing match with McCain's campaign boss. But she did and everyone can read the emails that prove it.

    Everyone, that is, except Goldfarb.