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  • Fox News finally discovers FOIA

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This week Glenn Beck was ranting about the unfolding government power grab, and how the Obama administration is so secretive. How bad was it? This bad, according to Beck:

    it seems every week this network is filing another Freedom of Information [Act] request.

    We had to laugh because Beck thinks it's a big deal when a news org files a FOIA request. It's not. It's an utterly ordinary occurrence, as journalist routinely petition the government to release all kinds of information.

    I just get the feeling that during the Bush years Fox News didn't bother with FOIA's because Fox News reporters didn't need--didn't want--any additional information from the GOP administration. They were completely satisfied accepting the handouts. But with Obama in the WH, suddenly the Fox News team gets all Woodward-and-Bernstein and files FOIA requests!

    I'm sure the news Emmy's are sure to follow.

  • The Hill, please define "considers holding hearings"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's from the Friday headline:

    Hoekstra considers hearings on Pelosi, interrogations

    It's about how Republicans are attacking the Speaker of the House because they claim she knew that the CIA was waterboarding prisoners. (Greg Sargent and Marcy Wheeler explain why Republicans probably don't know what they claim to know.) The GOP is def. in high dudgeon mode, according to The Hill:

    Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), the top Republican on House Intelligence, in an interview Friday said the document proves that Pelosi knew waterboarding occurred but has denied is because of political pressure from the liberal base of her party.

    So, according to The Hill headline, Hoekstra, the ranking the top Republican on the House Intelligence committee, might call hearings. He's considering it at the very least. That's interesting, but last time we checked Republicans were in the minority and don't have the power to hold hearings.

    Within the article, the The Hill is more clear that the Republican is "considering calling for congressional hearings." But A) It's hard to see how that qualifies as news. Don't minority members of Congress consider "calling" for hearing pretty much everyday? I mean, what member in the House doesn't consider calling for hearings on any array of topics?

    And B) Even if Hoekstra pulls the trigger and actually calls for the hearings, we're still not sure even that qualifies as news, which sort of sums of life in the House when you're in the minority; you can consider and call all you want, but it's still probably never going to happen.

  • Will Bob Schieffer play dumb with Dick Cheney this Sunday?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Cheney's appearing on CBS's Face the Nation, apparently as part of his on-going anti-Obama smear campaign. (What else do you call Cheney's claim that Obama has made America less safe since taking the oath of office?) The question is, will Schieffer in his comments and questions to Cheney make this point perfectly clear to viewers: that what Cheney is doing with his high-profile attacks on the new administration is unprecedented. Period.

    We have simply never seen, in modern American politics, the losing VP belittle a new president, just weeks into his first term, the way Cheney now routinely does in the media. Why? Because those were the ground rules the press established: if you, or your side, lost the November election (and especially if your side lost in a rout), you went away for a long time and remained silent. (Think Michael Dukakis or Bob Dole.)

    Just ask Al Gore. The press used to consider it beneath contempt for the losing side to take partisan swipes at the White House winner during the early days of his presidency.

    That's how the game was played for decades. But Cheney mounts a sustained anti-Obama media campaign and the Beltway press doesn't flinch. The press corps acts like it's normal; like that's what all former VP's do right after they vacate the WH. It's not. It's unprecedented.

    Will Schieffer at least make a passing reference to that, or will he play dumb?

  • CBS golf analyst Feherty: "[I]f you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it ... there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Feherty's column on D Magazine:

    An F-List Celeb Imagines What Preston Hollow Life Will Be Like For W

    I, too, am a huge celebrity who happens to live in Preston Hollow. I expect George W. to drop by soon.
    by David Feherty

    Given the events of the past eight years, once George the Second escaped from Washington, D.C., I think most of us here in Dallas would have understood if he and the former First Missus had moved someplace a little more secluded than Preston Hollow. Like Area 51, maybe, or some sandbar in the Galapagos Islands, just so they could catch their breath for a couple of years and take stock of their lives. I mean, what a nightmare of a time that was to be president of the United States! His two terms must have felt like the rest of the world had inserted the Washington Monument into him and it was his job to heave it out. Although there are those who insist that most of our problems were Dubya's fault, having spent considerable time in the Middle East myself, I think it's unlikely history will tell the same story.

    But that's another story. Right now, I have new neighbors about a par 5 away, just across the Tollway, which is far enough away from my place for me to act neighborly. I hate my neighbors because of their very proximity, or at least I hate the ones that want to talk to me who aren't doctors or gun dealers or who don't have their own airplanes. Doctors, gun dealers, and other people's airplanes can be useful, but people who want to "visit," whatever that peculiar Southern application of the verb entails, just get on my nerves. If I have to visit someone, he had better either be in jail or the hospital, and to be honest I'd prefer jail. I do golf commentary on CBS and sometimes star in television commercials wherein I jump on a trampoline while wearing a skirt. I'm an F-list celebrity at best. But for some reason an inordinate number of people want to talk to me, and always about blubbedy-blah-blah (imagine the sound of a single gunshot here) or Tiger Woods. No, when I make it home, I slam the door behind me and peek out the letterbox to see if I've been spotted by any of the bastards who live nearby.

    So I was thinking: if it's that bad for me, what is it going to be like for George and Laura? I mean, it's not like they can stroll around Tom Thumb stealing grapes like the rest of us, is it?

    Even with their Secret Service entourage, the Bushes are going to be besieged by herds of North Dallas McMansion-dwellers, more brown-nosed and full of BS than any longhorn. Nouveaux riche and face-lifted old-monied fossils alike will descend upon them like ants to the honeypot every time they set foot outside their door. The area that encompasses the Park Cities and Preston Hollow is home to roaming packs of these social climbers. I'm talking to you, the guy with the champagne flute, the stupid grin, and the trophy wife who, if she has one more facelift, will be wearing a triangular beard. You're just the type who will want to show that famous hospitality for which Texas is renowned, and your nasty little dog will try to hump poor Miss Beazley half to death. (Although that former First Scottish Terrier has shown some gnashers recently, so Fido beware.)

    After George and Laura spend a few days wringing the unwashed hands of North Dallas' finest, and, what, with Tom Hicks vaulting the fence and banging on their front door, looking for free advice on what to do with the Texas Rangers (who, incidentally, I believe will be useless until Chuck Norris is in charge), I suspect that Crawford will start to seem like a much better idea to G2, provided he can get planning permission for an alligator-infested moat around the ranch and a bigger wall than we have planned to keep everyone in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona from immigrating to Mexico when Iran takes control of the entire Persian Gulf and we're paying $15 a gallon. Dick Cheney had enough sense to bury himself under 12 feet of snow in Wyoming instead of the 12 feet of concrete everywhere else he's been stationed for the past eight years. And while I'm on the subject of vice, for my money, Sarah Palin came along too late. She's waaay better-looking than Dick Cheney, and when she shoots at something, you can bet that at least the damn thing will be dead.

    Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes. Here's the thing: all of this visiting will be perpetrated by people who actually like 43! What about those who consider him the root of all evil? We have a few of those, and I can't imagine what that bunch of self-righteous, indignant jerks might be like if they get the chance to visit. As for me, my politics are somewhere in the middle-and then way outside both wings. I believe in the death penalty, especially for pro-lifers, child molesters, those opposed to gay marriage, and for stupid dancing in the end zone. I believe in the abolition of estate taxes and the Pickens Plan. I'd lower the legal drinking age and raise the driving age to 18 nationwide, make Kinky Friedman governor of Texas, and make all schools, public and private, start earlier with one hour of physical exercise.

    I'd have to say, though, that if I were G2, I'd have to consider the wisdom of that 30-year rule that applies to classified government documents. I'd wait at least that long before I moved to Preston Hollow. Thirty years seems to be about the length of time it takes Americans to forget really bad things. Look at Donny and Marie Osmond. Does no one remember how badly they sucked the first time around? Yet both of them are back on television for no apparent reason, other than one is fat and can't dance, and the other is a Hollywood used-to-be who squeals mindless gossip on people who would rather dive into oncoming traffic than talk to him. If Dubya were to reappear at 92 years old, his first album would probably go platinum. And, anyway, it will be that long before any of us knows the truth about how and why he played some of the rotten cards he was dealt.

    From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death. I've never met a soldier who didn't love this president and this country, and I've met a bunch of them, at home and abroad, in hospitals and in theater. At Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval Medical Center, and the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, I have visited dozens of patients, and I always ask of them before I leave: "What do you want to do when you get out?" No matter how broken or burned, or how many limbs they are missing, they give only one answer: "I want to go back. I want to rejoin my team, to finish our mission." They are rightfully proud of what they have done and want nothing more than to be with their brothers and sisters in arms, because they know the consequences if their job is left unfinished. Right here on American soil, we will end up with unqualified people having to do the job they have been doing over there so incredibly well, and with such extraordinary compassion. The fact is, Americans in America have been safe since 9/11, almost the whole length of G2's term as president, and for that we should be thankful.

    So I think I'm okay with my new neighbors. I've met George the First and the great Barbara a few times and have enjoyed their company immensely. I don't think the apple fell too far away from the tree. G2 loves to ride bikes, and so do I. Maybe I could get a job in the Secret Bike Service, as the official drafter to No. 43. I've already taken a couple of vehicular bullets from behind (experiences I've chronicled in this magazine), so the safest place to ride in Dallas is apparently in front of me.

    Call me, Mr. Prez. Your dad has Jim Nantz's number, and now that you can't surreptitiously listen in on my cell phone calls anymore, Nantz can get ahold of me for you. I'm just around the corner, and I promise not to do any dry-humping, although I can't speak for my much-loved mound of hound, Ziggy, who is the worst beagle in Texas. You might want to have Laura put Miss Beazley up if I do happen to drop by to, you know, visit.

    David Feherty is a golf analyst for CBS and the author of four books, including, most recently, An Idiot for All Seasons.

  • Democracy Now's EXCLUSIVE interview with NYT's Barstow on Pentagon Pundits Scandal

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Democracy Now's Amy Goodman sat down for a fascinating interview with the New York Times' David Barstow to discuss his Pulitzer Prize wining explosive reports detailing the hidden relationship among numerous media military analysts, the Pentagon, and defense contractors. Specifically, Barstow uncovered last year that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" media military analysts "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks."

    He also wrote: "Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance."

    Following Barstow's story, Media Matters released an exhaustive report which found that since January 1, 2002, those named in the Barstow's report appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times by news outlets.

    To put a finer point on it, Barstow's exposé came out more than a year ago and Goodman was still able to call her interview an "exclusive." As Barstow notes, he hasn't received "any invitations" to appear on "any of the main network and cable programs."

    Be sure to watch this entire interview, it is must see web tv:

    David Barstow

    Previously:

    Post ignores DOD inspector general's repudiation of report the Post covered in Jan.

    NBC report on NY Times' five Pulitzers ignores military analysts report

    Barstow wins Pulitzer for military analysts story; will networks notice?

    McCaffrey again discusses Afghan security forces without disclosing ties to company training them

    Military analysts named in Times exposé appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast nets, cables, NPR

    Networks continue to ignore NY Times' military analyst story, but all find time for Hannah Montana

    Networks reportedly refused to appear on PBS' NewsHour to respond to NY Times' military analysts story; several continue blackout

    Multiple choice: Of the following, which outlet covered two recent major national security stories -- NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, or ... Comedy Central?

  • It's ABC News' reporting that's become torture

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Or torturous to follow. Or something.

    First, there was the whole Brian Ross situation, and how he got suckered by a CIA source who planted a false torture story (it works!) with ABC News. (Not that the ABC News chief seemed to mind.)

    Now blogger Marcy Wheeler explains how ABC' fell down reporting about what the CIA told members of Congress about "special interrogation tactics" being used back in 2002.

    UPDATE: Greg Sargent has more.

  • Cue the world's smallest violin. Again

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Hollywood Reporter goes big today with a long article about how entertainment execs at the nets hate pre-empting their schedules for Obama's primetime pressers. About how the nets are losing millions of dollars in ad revenue, although actually, as the HR explains, the money's not actually lost, those commercials pre-empted by the press conference are just shifted to other times slots. But still.

    The whole thing's a hoot and I suggest you go read it for real insight to our media culture and TV execs who make their living using the public airwaves for free. (Oops, the HR article forgot to mention that nugget.)

    Here's the headline:

    Obama drama: Nets take a stand against primetime pre-emptions

    The funny thing is, in the article nobody at the nets takes a stand. They just whine off the record. And oh, what a vintage whine it is [emphasis added]:

    "We reluctantly went along with his latest request," one network executive said, "but the next one better involve something really important to the American people, or the networks are going to tell the White House to buzz off."

    We already noted this fact but will repeat it here because those deep thinkers at network TV prefer repetition. The complaint is that Obama's last press conference had no news; that it didn't "involve something really important to the American people." Except that the day of Obama's presser the press itself was doing its best to whip up hysteria about a possible swine flu pandemic, and the primetime Q&A offered the president his first chance to truly address the nation about the health scare.

    But yeah, other than that, other than a potentially deadly disease sweeping the nation (at least that's how the press hyped it,) there really wasn't anything at Obama's last press conference that was "important to the American people."

  • WashPost, please define "modest"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The paper continues to take an overtly political stance with its coverage of the just-announced Obama budget. Yesterday we noted that unlike most other news orgs, the Post, right in its headline, announced that Obama's proposed budget cuts were "modest," and the entire article seemed to flow from GOP talking points about the WH was not cutting enough spending.

    Today, the Post hits that angle again on A1, and hard [emphasis added]:

    President Obama's modest proposal to slice $17 billion from 121 government programs quickly ran into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill yesterday, as an array of Democratic lawmakers vowed to fight White House efforts to deprive their favorite initiatives of federal funds.

    The implication is clear: Obama didn't even ask for that many cuts and already Dems are complaining. Indeed, the Post stressed that the "proposed reductions represent just one-half of 1 percent of next year's budget," and dismissed the cuts as "small."

    Keep in mind, the Post didn't have to quote Republicans as saying those things. The daily simply asserted that as fact, which saved Republicans the time of having to say it themselves. But what's interesting is that in Thursday article, the Post pointed out that Obama's small cuts were about the same as the cuts Bush asked for in his 2008 budget. So. if you went back and looked at the newspaper's coverage of Bush's 2008 proposed cuts, those articles would read just like the Post's Obama budget articles, right? Since both president's asked for similarly "small" savings.

    Wrong. I went back and read the early 2008 Post coverage of Bush's announced budget and couldn't find references to how "modest" or "small" the suggested cuts were. And certainly couldnt' find references in consecutive front-page Post articles. But in 2009, when a Democrat put forward a proposal similar to Bush's, suddenly the Post wants to tell readers how inadequate it is.

  • It's like GOP Reefer Madness, the book edition

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Yep, there's now an entire book-length defense of talk radio against the interloping liberals who want to "silence" and "censor" right-wingers on the airwaves; who want to dictate content. It's called Censorship: The Threat to Silence Talk Radio.

    Slight problem: there is no high-powered attempt by liberals to silence or censor right-wingers on the AM dial. But hey, other than that it's a great idea for a book. And I'm sure it will find an audience because conservatives, apparently, love to keep each other up at night recounting ghost stories about how Democrats are going to ravage the AM dial by bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, a long-forgotten FCC regulation that nobody cares about.

    Honestly, this is so far into the realm of lunacy that it's hard to even comprehend. We thought it was comical when Rush Limbaugh wasted a whole column in the WSJ demanding that Obama not bring back the Fairness Doctrine. (i.e. right-wing kryptonite). We thought it was funny because Limbaugh's column ran days after the Obama White House announced it had no interest/plans in trying to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. (Nothing gets by Limbaugh.)

    But now the publishing wing of the GOP Noise Machine has dutifully printed up an entire book designed to whip up fears that the GOP's beloved AM talkers are under assault. The book's being published by Threshold Editions, which is Simon & Schuster's conservative-only publishing shop headed by Mary Matalin, and the book sounds like a doozy. Even the very friendly reviewer in the WSJ noted, "The book is a repetitious, one-sided barrage of generalities and anecdotes, alarmist at times, corny at others." Ooh, put me down for two copies.

    Here's a preview of the book's laugh-out-loud breathlessness, captured by the book's press release:

    At the dawn of a new presidential administration, an epic battle is looming -- a battle for our airwaves that could sharply curtail or silence altogether the freedom of expression that distinguishes America from the average dictatorship. The target of this battle is conservative talk radio.

    At the risk of repeating ourself we'll note the administration has zero interest in any kind of "epic battle" with talk radio. And talk radio is not a target. But other than that, yeah the book's right on the money.

    Honest to goodness, for a political movement that currently find itself in the contracting minority and literally fighting for its political survival, this is what activists are going to fight against? A phantom campaign to "censor" talk radio. Whatever. Be our guest.

    We can only imagine the book promotion tour for Censorship and the endless hours author Brian Jennings will spend on the radio whipping right-wingers into a frenzy over the Fairness Doctrine.

    UPDATE: One more lap around the track at Censorship's expense. Also from the press release:

    Conservative talk radio [became]...popular, profitable, outspoken, powerful, influential -- it's what the American people wanted, and its success was the Democrats' worst nightmare.

    Question: Has conservative talk radio and its lineup of superstars not been broadcasting for the last five years? The reason I ask is because during that time Democrats have completely altered the landscape of American politics with sweeping victories. So, If talk radio is so influential and powerful, how have Democrats pulled off that comeback?

    We're guessing that answer's not found in Censorship.

    UPDATE: The only thing's going to "silence" AM talk radio is the disintegrating state of the American radio industry, lead by the wildly irresponsible spending and business practices of Clear Channel. Or is that the fault of Democrats too?

  • ABC's The Note is so bad, it's funny

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Read today's lede and try not to laugh out loud as The Note celebrates its fave meme: Dems are in trouble!!

    Who needs an opposition party when the party in power is doing a decent job opposing itself? Forget the future of the Republican Party -- it's the present for the Democratic Party that's problematic for President Obama's agenda. (From the Manny Ramirez school of self-destruction?)

    Yep, Dems have picked up 15 senate seats and 55 House seats in the last five years. They just won a landslide election. Their new president, who will soon enjoy a filibuster-proof majority in Congress, is enjoying sky-high approval ratings. And a prominent Republican just got so fed up with his shrinking party that he crossed party lines.

    But forget all that. Because Dems are self-destructing. I think this would be as good a time as any to recall my favorite Note-related quote from the spring of 2006, from its founder Mark Halperin, handicapping the Democrats' bleak electoral prospects that year:

    "If I were them, I'd be scared to death about November's elections."

    Of course, Dems swept Congress in 2006 and The Note, once again, completely failed in its only real purpose, which is to accurately handicap Beltway politics as is plays out in real time. So keep that in mind as The Note trots out if by-now copyrighted talking point about how Dems are self-destructing.