• Note to Ed Henry: that's spin, not a scoop

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    CNN's Ed Henry, moments ago: "In terms of the politics, what's fascinating is that Robert Gibbs clearly feels that dragging both Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh back into this debate is good politically for this White House. I can tell you a lot of Republicans on the other side are telling me privately, though, they wonder whether this could blow up in the White House's face."

    Oh, the Republicans are privately saying this might backfire on the White House? They must really mean it, huh?

    When political actors make statements against their own interests, it may be justifiable for journalists to grant them anonymity. And those unattributed statements may have added credibility, for the very reason that they are contrary to the interests of the speaker.

    But in this case, Henry's "lot of Republicans" are telling him something that is consistent with their interest. Indeed, they are telling him the most predictable spin possible: that the current political debate will redound to their benefit. The statements have essentially no value. And yet Henry treats them as though they are some deep secret the Republicans are guarding, and as though his ability to tell viewers this secret constitutes some sort of scoop.

    If Henry insists on spending precious air time recounting these private conversations with Republican operatives, I would suggest the following wording, which would more accurately convey the situation: "A lot of Republicans claim to think this could blow up in the White House's face, though I should note that I haven't been able to find any willing to attach their names to that prediction."

  • Power Line makes us laugh

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The right-wing site remains a treasure trove of unintentional hilarity. Today, it comes in the form of its defense of Rush Limbaugh. Or more specifically, Power Line mocks Democrats who attacked the AM talker because according to Power Line, the Republican Party's whole let's-defend-Rush-at-all-costs adventure (which seemed to consume the party for weeks on end at the time of a national economic crisis), was a huge success. It was Democrats who came out the loser in that tussle.

    You're chuckling, I can tell.

    For anyone still wondering how the GOP's Rush worship panned out politically, especially for the GOP's Congressional leaders who dutifully lined up behind him, here's a graphic from the new Pew Research poll. Note the two lines--one for the Dems and one for the GOP--are heading in opposite directions.

    But Power Line is certain Democrats were the big loser last month.

  • Tucker Carlson: "[W]here was Jon Stewart when the bubble was swelling? How many shows did he do on the coming financial collapse? Why didn't he warn us?"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From a March 16 Washington Post online discussion:

    Falls Church: Tucker: saw you on Reliable Sources talking about Cramer v. Stewart. You know, the whole world is not divided up into the vast left-wing conspiracy and the brave moral right that fights against it.

    There are legitimate journalistic questions about the role of a financial channel and how much cheerleading it should do or if the interviewers sometimes treat business leaders like Access Hollywood treats celebrities or if they should be in the business of investigating corrupt businesses and business practices.

    But to dismiss those questions as an Obama surrogate hit job... No wonder the majority of the country thinks the right is out of touch with reality.

    Tucker Carlson: It's completely legitimate - necessary - to ask those questions, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I'm not defending Cramer, CNBC, greedheads on Wall Street, criminally overpaid CEOs or anyone else. I was trying to make two points:

    Cramer humiliated himself the other night (and on many previous nights on his own show) but that doesn't mean he and his network are responsible for the meltdown. That's way too simple. In fact it's demagoguery. And by the way, where was Jon Stewart when the bubble was swelling? How many shows did he do on the coming financial collapse? Why didn't he warn us?

    Stewart's answer invariably is: I'm a comedian. That's not my job. But that's a dodge, and increasingly unsustainable. In fact, Stewart is a player in the national conversation. He seeks to influence politics and policy, and he succeeds. It's time for him to admit that, and be held to the same standards everyone else at his level (including Jim Cramer) lives by.

    Previously: Tucker Carlson presented faulty timeline as purported evidence Stewart's criticism of Cramer "was a partisan attack"

  • Glenn Beck channels X-Files

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Jeffrey Feldman at HuffPost notes that Beck's latest bout of on-air insanity, in which the talks about how FEMA under the Obama administration may be building concentration camps in order to take totalitarian rule of the country, appears to be lifted directly from the The X-Files movie.

    Maybe that's why even Fox News anchors can't stop mocking Beck.

  • Conservative columnist belittles the idea of a liberal media

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In her weekend column, Kathleen Parker bemoans Dittoheads and the "non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias."

    Writes Parker:

    There is surely room for media criticism, and a few bad actors in recent years have badly frayed public trust. And, yes, some newspapers are more liberal than their readership and do a lousy job of concealing it. But the greater truth is that newspaper reporters, editors and institutions are responsible for the boots-on-the-ground grub work that produces the news stories and performs the government watchdog role so crucial to a democratic republic.

  • WaPo reporter dismisses "silly" questions about paper's balance

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Yesterday, the Washinton Post opinion page "asked members of Congress and others whether federal budget earmarks are defensible" -- but all three members of Congress were Republicans. As Media Matters noted, "The Post's omission of contributions by Democratic lawmakers is consistent with a pattern Media Matters for America has identified in the media of portraying earmarks as a practice unique to Democrats."

    During an online discussion today, Post reporter Ed O'Keefe was asked about the Post printing the opinions of Republicans, and Republicans alone -- and dismissed the question as "silly":

    Skewed Opinions?: Are you ever embarrassed by the Post's Opinion pages, since they so regularly skew to the right?

    On Sunday the Post "asked members of Congress and others whether federal budget earmarks are defensible." The three members of Congress whose responses were listed -- Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) and Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) -- are all Republicans; no Democratic members of Congress were quoted. The Post's omission of contributions by Democratic lawmakers is consistent with a pattern I've been noting in the media of portraying earmarks as a practice unique to Democrats. What's your take on this, Ed?

    Ed O'Keefe: My take is I have no take on this.

    The Opinion and news sections are kept separate at The Post. I have no input or idea what they're working on, and vice versa. And even if I did have an opinion, I wouldn't share it.

    There've been several silly questions like this today, and this one's the most tame. Folks, save it.

    What's silly is the idea that O'Keefe is incapable of having an opinion about what the Post's Opinion section does, and that he would so blithely dismiss a reader's valid question.

  • Still waiting for Bloomberg to update its "Obama Bear Market" reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Back on March 6, Bloomberg published "'Obama Bear Market' Punishes Investors as Dow Slumps," and quoted lots of Street investors complaining about how Obama's agenda was driving down the market. Bloomberg also excitedly reported that the stock market under Obama had performed worse than for any other previous new president. The Bloomberg article though, contained no context at all that Obama inherited an economic crisis. It simply suggested that Obama was pushing investors.

    Well, it's ten days later and the Dow, as of this writing, is up approximately 700 points since Bloomberg's report. But we don't see any evidence that the biz news outlet has tried to update its analysis, or label the recent events an 'Obama rally.'

    Why does Bloomberg only appear interested in blaming Obama?

  • Irony alert, cont'd: Pew continues to spread misinformation about its own polling data

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We recently noted how the folks at Pew Research Center seems quite interested in making claim that most Americans wouldn't care if their local newspaper folded. We highlighted the oddity of Pew's push since that's not what the finding of its own polls found. In fact, 55 percent of Americans would care if their local newspaper went under.

    Why does Pew seem so interested in claiming nobody cares about newspapers?

    Over the weekend, Pew's president Andrew Kohut appeared on NPR's "On the Media," to amplify the false claim that readers wouldn't miss newspapers, as well as amplifying the false claim that readers don't think their civic life would be hurt if their daily stopped publishing. In fact, according to Pew's own polling, 74 percent of readers think civic life would take a hit if the local newspaper went under.

    Kohut also made the false claim that only "oldsters" think newspapers "play an important role in American society." Not true. According to Pew's own survey results, 72 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 think the death of a local newspaper would hurt civic life.

  • Howard Kurtz cannot be serious

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Does Howard Kurtz really think Sean Hannity would praise Barack Obama if only he had more time to think things through? That's what he seems to be suggesting:

    As the Dow embarked on a long slide after Inauguration Day -- a nearly 2,000-point slide, to be precise -- the drumbeat seemed to grow louder.

    "There's no confidence in Obama's plan," said Fox's Sean Hannity. "The markets respond to data. They have no confidence."

    "The stock market is also demonstrating a lack of confidence in the president's big government agenda," said CNN's Lou Dobbs.

    And it's not just those on the right. CNBC's Jim Cramer -- an unabashed Democrat -- complained that President Obama's "radical agenda" was causing the "greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president."


    The chatter reflects a fast-forward culture that demands snap judgments. The cable news channels, not content to wait for the traditional 100-day benchmark -- itself an artificial media construct -- were grading Obama last week on his 50-day performance.

    This is absurd. Sean Hannity isn't attacking Barack Obama because he exists in "a fast-forward culture that demands snap judgments." He is attacking Barack Obama because he is a partisan Republican who reliably attacks Democrats. It's who he is, and it's what he's paid to do.

    Likewise, anybody who has watched more than six consecutive minutes of Lou Dobbs' daily rantings should understand that his criticisms of Obama don't result from a need for "snap judgments" but from his worldview. And Jim Cramer may be "an unabashed Democrat," but given what we've learned in recent weeks about his shameless cheerleading for Wall Street, his criticism of Obama is pretty predictable, too.

    Howard Kurtz is the nation's most prominent media critic - and he thinks Sean Hannity might praise Barack Obama's policies if only he weren't forced to make "snap judgments"?

    Come on.

  • The Red Scare Index: 17

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    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, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communistic, Marxism and Marxist.

    Here are the numbers for Friday, March 13, 2009:

    TOTAL: 17
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 7
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 9
    Marxism/Marxist: 1

    By Network:

    CNN: 4
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 1
    Marxism/Marxist: 1

    CNN Headline News: 3
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 3
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    Fox News Channel: 5
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 5
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    Fox Business Network: 0
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    MSNBC: 5
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 5
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

    CNBC: 0
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 0
    Marxism/Marxist: 0

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