Blog

  • Hell freezes over: I agree with Bill Kristol's media critique

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    He's dissecting Todd Purdum's new Sarah Palin hit piece in VF.

    Kristol writes:

    Here's a highlight of Purdum's reporting: "More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of 'narcissistic personality disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders--'a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy'--and thought it fit her perfectly."

    Is there any real chance that "several" Alaskans independently told Purdum that they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I don't believe it for a moment.

    I'm with Kristol; this doesn't pass the smell test. Then again, Purdum's work for the mighty VF has often failed to pass any kind of common sense test.

    UPDATE: Don't you love how Purdum zeroed in on how self-obsessed Palin is; how (clinically) narcissistic she is? I'd be curious to find out how many VF features in recent years about male politicians stopped to ponder the me-me-me tendencies of those powerful players.

  • CNN as Michael Jackson central

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Maybe I imagined this, but I could have sworn I heard a collective sigh of relief last week from the press, and especially the cablers, when it realized it wouldn't have to spend more time discussing health care reform (borrrring!) now that Michael Jackson had died.

    As Jim Rutten at the Los Angeles Times noted, Jackson's death was huge news, and news consumers responded in record numbers:

    When Jackson's death was first reported, traffic across the Internet spiked to virtually unprecedented levels. Google's search engine slowed to a crawl; Yahoo reported "one of the biggest things" in its history; social networks Twitter and Facebook nearly collapsed under the weight of traffic. This newspaper experienced 12 million page views at its website, apparently because it was widely credited with confirming the death.

    The funny part is Rutten was complaining about the "serious" media's wall-to-wall Jackson coverage on Saturday. (Rutten thought it was excessive.) If anything, the coverage seems to have become more intense/monotonous since the weekend.

    Behold CNN's primetime last night, four days after Jackson died. Since Jackson's passing, very little actual news had been uncovered (the official cause of death won't be known for weeks), but CNN devoted pretty much its entire night, starting with Lou Dobbs Tonight, to the Jackson story.

    I realize that for TMZ and Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight (not to mention US and People), the Jackson passing requires all hands on deck. But I guess I'm not sure why on CNN the "Jackson" references have out-numbered "Honduras," which just experienced a traumatic military coup, nearly 10-to-1 over the last two days, according to TVeyes.com

    UPDATED: From journalism.org:

  • Like we said, can't anybody read a poll?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Jamison just highlighted the dreadful WashPost effort, as the Beltway press corps continues to fictionalize the tale about Obama's falling poll numbers. (Fact: According to the latest from WashPost/ABC News, his approval rating stands at a very robust 65 percent.)

    In my column this week, I focused attention on the ABC News team and how they did their best to ignore, play down and just plain misinform viewers and readers about their own polling data.

    For instance, on his blog, This Week host George Stephanopoulos posted an item under the headline: "Obama's Poll Numbers Falling to Earth?" In his post, Stephanopoulos stressed that Obama was "slipping a bit," but never once mentioned that Obama's approval rating stood at 65 percent, down just 1 point from March.

    Oops.

    Jake Tapper's report last week on GMA perfectly captured the ABC unsightly phenomena. Watch below, and then read the column to see exactly why his report was so dismal.

  • Can't anyone read a poll?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe, during today's "Post Politics Hour":

    I think we're already starting to see signs of Obama taking the blame. Look at last week's Post-ABC poll that showed that while most Americans still like Obama personally, they've got serious concerns about how he's going to address the deficit, the economic stimulus plan and health care reform efforts.

    The poll to which O'Keefe refers does not say anything about whether Americans "like Obama personally." The poll asked whether respondents "approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?" Personal favorability and job approval ratings are not the same thing, no matter how much journalists conflate them.

    Saying Americans "like Obama personally" but have "serious concerns" about how he is going to do his job is a distortion of the poll's actual findings, which is that a strong majority of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job.

    As for those "serious concerns," the poll finds that 56 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the economy while only 41 percent disapprove. Health care: 53 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove. The public is split, 48-48 on his handling of deficits. O'Keefe's description of the poll as showing "serious concerns" about Obama's handling of these issues is misleading.

    Actually, it's worse than that looks. O'Keefe's phrasing is forward-looking: "serious concerns about how he's going to address ..." The Post and ABC also asked whether respondents trusted Obama or Republicans in Congress to handle a variety of issues; that question is pertinent to O'Keefe's phrasing. On health care, Obama had a 55-27 advantage; on the economy, he led 55-31; and on the budget deficit he led 56-30.

  • Washington Times says Supreme Court's Ricci ruling means "Martin Luther King can rest easy" from threat of Sotomayor

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    EDITORIAL: Sotomayor reversed again

    Martin Luther King can rest easy. His dream is being protected by the Supreme Court - against and over the opinion of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

    The high court's landmark decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven, Conn., firefighters case, is a dramatic stride toward the cherished goal of achieving a colorblind society. In Ricci, the court told us that people of ability can succeed regardless of skin color, and government bureaucrats seeking racially biased outcomes can be thwarted in their racist designs.

    Previously: The Civil Rights Movement according to Fox ...

  • Better conservative media critics, please

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Kyle Drennen:

    In addition to wondering about the fate of the party nationally, Schieffer also asked about Sanford's political future: "Should he also resign as the governor of South Carolina?...This seems to go beyond just the fact that, you know, he became involved in this relationship. He was basically missing in action for five days... Isn't this more than just a sex scandal here? I mean, this is dereliction of duty, isn't it?"

    It's interesting that Schieffer never leveled such a charge against Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    Uh ... maybe that's because Clinton never skipped town, ditching his security detail and lying to aides about where he was going and leaving the Vice President unable to reach him and the nation essentially without a president for five days?

    Seriously, Drennen is complaining - sorry; he finds it "interesting" -- that Schieffer never accused Clinton of being "missing in action for five days"? No, it isn't "interesting." Shieffer never accused Clinton of being "missing in action for five days" because Clinton was never missing in action for five days.

    What is wrong with these people?

  • Tim Graham spins a conspiracy theory to explain unremarkable occurance

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Tim Graham complains that the media isn't badgering the Obamas about their church attendance:

    The Obamas haven't faced much questioning from the White House press corps about when they're going to make a church decision. With most presidents, this might not be a big deal, but the establishment media's reluctance surely reflects its sensitivity to Obama's political problems with choosing radical, ranting Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Chicago and staying in his church for 20 years.

    ...

    For the Obamas and for Sullivan, the question is this: if they wanted to claim the First Family was going to charm the evangelicals with their piety, do they think this game of kicking the can is impressive? Or doesn't it begin to signal insincerity?

    Try to follow the logic of that first paragraph. According to Graham, it is not unusual for the White House press corps to avoid questioning the First Family about their church attendance. But in this case, the reason the press isn't subjecting the Obamas to such questions is the media's "sensitivity to Obama's political problems." The media is doing what they usually do, according to Graham - so they must be doing it for a different reason!

    That's just dumb.

    It is worth noting - though Graham does not - that George W. Bush did not regularly attend a DC church. And it's pretty safe to say that the Bushes tried to "charm the evangelicals with their piety."

  • UPDATED: The WSJ's deafening silence over the Mark Sanford scandal

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Otherwise known as Day Five of the WSJ Hypocrisy Watch.

    It's been five days since the conservative Republican governor with national electoral aspirations announced his extramarital affair, and it's been that long since we learned the conservative Republican governor used taxpayer money to visit his girlfriend.

    It's been five days since questions about whether Sanford should be impeached were raised, and a few days since a South Caroline Republican announced he'd go all the way to the Justice Department if need be in order to investigate Sanford's behavior.

    And yet....the WSJ editorial page which crusaded for the Clinton impeachment and which crusaded that every possible type of criminal prosecutions be launched against Clinton has remained stone-cold silent. The Sanford debacle is of no interest to the very serious writers at the WSJ.

    But it turns out the blatant hypocrisy isn't just traced to the Clinton `90's. It can be traced to the 2008 story of disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. When that Democrat admitted to an extramarital affair, the WSJ opinion pages were very interested. In fact, within 48 hours of that story breaking, Kimberly Strassel wrote up a media critique, claiming the "compliant" press had covered for Spitzer.

    But again, the incurious writers and editors at the Journal have shown zero interest in the media angle on the Sanford story, which highlights again how the newspaper's opinion pages have little interest in actual journalism.

  • Newsbusters thinks it's a big deal that the press won't follow the WashTimes' Obama "scandal"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Y'know, the Walpin caper, which came right after Dealergate, which really blew the lid off the Obama White House. Remember?

    Any who, Newsbusters is all riled up because the WashTimes has published these awesome editorials and articles detailing the breaking news developments from the Walpin firing...and nobody's paying attention. Nobody's going down the rabbit's hole with the WashTimes. Gee, wonder why.

    I think Joe Conason put it best:

    Unless there is much more to this story than what responsible journalists have found so far, the buzzing chatter on the right will soon subside into a disappointed murmur.

    That was June 19. It's weird; it's like Conason can see into the future.