• After hyping Luntz memo, Politico downplays pro-health care memo

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Yesterday, as you may recall, Politico's Mike Allen copied-and-pasted nearly 1,000 words from a Frank Luntz memo advising Republicans on how to defeat health care reform. Allen didn't bother to include any fact-checking or opposing voices; he just passed on Luntz' GOP spin.

    Well, today, Politico got its hands on another health care memo, by another famous political pollster. This one was by Democrat Celinda Lake, and it offers advice on language to use in support of health care reform. So, did Politico extensively quote this memo without providing a counterpoint?


    This memo got a mere blog post, not full article placement. And that blog post only quoted 25 words from the memo. And the blog post included -- again! -- Luntz' advice on how to defeat health care.

    Maybe Politico would take Celinda Lake's memo more seriously if she got herself reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, like Luntz? Nah, she'd probably have to oppose health care reform, too.

  • The Red Scare Index: 25

    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, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Marxistic, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.

    Here are the numbers for yesterday, Wednesday, May 6, 2009:

    TOTAL: 25
    Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 9
    Communism, Communist, Communistic: 8
    Marxism/Marxist: 2
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 6

    By Network:

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

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

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

    Fox Business Network: 5
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 0
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 3

    MSNBC: 8
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 2
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 2
    Marxism, Marxist/s: 2
    Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2

    CNBC: 2
    Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
    Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 1
    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.

  • WashTimes makes up more stuff about DHS "extremism" report

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    At this point the Times has so mangled the facts of the story I seriously doubt anyone at the paper even pretends they matter.

    Here's today's installment of misinformation [emphasis added]:

    House Republicans demanded Wednesday that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano detail how the controversial "right-wing extremism" report was compiled, using a rare legislative maneuver that ensures that the Democrats must take a public stand - one way or another.

    The request asks Ms. Napolitano to release information on how the report was compiled. The report sparked a furor from conservatives included in the definition of "right-wing extremism" and prompted Ms. Napolitano to apologize to the nation's veterans.

    False. In fact, it's the exact opposite: the report sparked a furor from conservatives who were specifically not included in the definition of "right-wing extremism." That's what made the who pseudo-controversy so odd. The DHS released a report that made passing reference to homegrown, right-wing domestic terrorist (think, skinheads), and mainstream conservatives who were not mentioned in the report jumped up and down and claimed it was about them.

    Don't ask us why Republicans saw themselves in a report about violent terrorist groups, but they did. And now to cover up that comfortableness, and to stoke their beloved victimhood status, they claim the report was about picked-upon conservatives, even though it was not. And eagerly spreading the misinformation is the WashTimes.

    Then again, isn't that pretty much its job description?

  • Murdoch dumbs down the WSJ

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And his editor is proud of it.

    The CJR headline pretty much captures what's going on in Murdochville:

    Identity Crisis: The Wall Street Journal steers away from what made it great

    But hey, at least the Journal's still publishing! And against that industry Armageddon backdrop, the fact that the Journal has gone from a great newspaper to an okay in quick order probably isn't that big a deal.

    But what's really depressing is reading the new Journal editor (Robert Thomson, Murdoch's hand-picked Australian successor) brag about how dumb the paper has become. Indeed, Murdoch's team thinks the whole experiment of turning the Journal into the nation's black-and-white USA Today has been a roaring success.

    "Certain U.S. newspapers," Thomson says, "have been designed for journalists rather than for readers." With a chuckle, he avoided saying whether he's talking about the Journal, but it was obvious that he was. Journalists, he says, too often choose "self-indulgence over readability. If a reader is used to the Web, he has developed a ruthless functionality in reading—just clicking on what he's interested in." Turning to a newspaper, Thomson says, that reader then "confronts this Neanderthal product. Taking four paragraphs to get to the point is too long. Where is the editorial empathy?"

    Basically, Thomson and Murdoch want to the turn the newspaper into a wire service. Good luck with that.

  • Ambinder again whitewashes GOP's anti-gay bigotry

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    A few weeks ago, The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder wrote that "virtually ALL" Republican strategists are "sympathetic to gay rights," and "most members" of the Republican "elite" are actually "pro-gay." Given that virtually all Republican strategists and most members of the Republican elite participate in campaigns that demonize gays and oppose granting them the same rights enjoyed by other Americans, I questioned Ambinder's definition of "pro-gay" at the time. Privately feeling badly about publicly participating in efforts that stigmatize gays and deny them basic rights simply doesn't meet any rational definition of "pro-gay."

    Now Ambinder suggests that Republican Congressman Steve King thinks "sexuality shouldn't matter at all." Here's Ambinder:

    You don't have to be Rep. Steve King -- who here implies that gay people wouldn't be bashed so long as they don't tell people about their sexual orientation -- to have a vague sense of that sexuality shouldn't matter at all, that sexual orientation should be irrelevant as a way of judging someone for any job, anywhere. Most Americans either live in this mental framework or are moving here.

    That's an extraordinarily generous description of Steve King. Steve King certainly doesn't think sexual orientation "shouldn't matter at all." He opposes gay marriage, for example, and worries that Iowa will become a "gay marriage mecca."

  • BREAKING NEWS: White House Chief of Staff Has Clout!

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC reads between the lines of a Washington Post report, and comes away with a startling conclusion: White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel - and not the staff who report to him - is in charge:

    The Washington Post has the type of story that suggests it may know more than it reported. "The selection of a small and very senior group of administration officials to help manage the nomination is designed, in part, to avoid the kinds of leaks that angered several Cabinet nominees during Obama's transition."

    "Running the selection are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, counsel Gregory B. Craig and deputy counsel Cassandra Q. Butts, a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law. Obama has reached out to Republican and Democratic Senate leaders, seeking their recommendations. But the chance that he would veer from his own list, which began taking shape in December, is slim."

    Now, infer away... Rahm's in charge... not the lawyers. Discuss.

    Of course, it's silly to think there is anything even remotely noteworthy about the White House chief of staff being "in charge" of an effort taking place in the White House, rather than subordinates to the chief of staff being "in charge." But we'll probably see a great deal of faux outrage by conservative media, anyway.

  • Still waiting for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    If you thought the state of the conservative blogosphere was in sorry shape at the turn of this year, you aint seen nothing yet. As Obama's approvals continue to rise, and longtime players like Sen. Arlen Specter flee the GOP, the proverbial sound of heads exploding can be heard all across the right-wing blogosphere. (We're looking at you, Erick Erickson.)

    The latest 'pop' comes from Pajamas Media. (I thought they went under...) It's from John Hawkins and he recently urged right-wing bloggers to start playing dirty like the Left. That right-wing bloggers needed to abandon their normal lofty, ethical perches (stop laughing!), and really mix it up; like investigate journalists' personal lives and air that dirty laundry. That sort of thing. Because, y'know, right-wing bloggers were so docile and decent during the WH campaign, right?

    If I could offer a refresher on that topic, I refer you to Jon Swift's masterful blog post from October 23, 2008, in which he compiled some of the 'greatest hits' from the Rightroots' campaign season:

    -During Obama's dark, mysterious years at Columbia, he was involved in domestic terrorist bombings

    -Obama didn't actually write Dreams of My Father. In fact, it was ghost-written by none other than Bill Ayers!

    -Michelle Obama attacks "American white racists" in an interview with obscure online news site

    -Obama had a girlfriend that his wife found out about and forced her to move to the Caribbean

    -There is a tape of Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan talking about "whitey"

    -Obama was not born in the United States and his birth certificate has been forged

    -Barack Obama had an under, gay "affair" with a pedophile

    -Obama was getting answers in the first debate through a clear plastic hearing aid in his ear

  • Bush aides lie, media inexplicably trust them ... part two

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Over at Americablog, John Aravosis catches Newsweek's Evan Thomas repeating the myth that, unlike President Obama, President Bush "insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties."

    Aravosis debunks this nicely, complete with photos of Bush aides in the Oval Office without coats and of Bush making a clown of himself by pretending to search for WMD in the office.

    But it's worth adding that myths like this don't just happen. See, reporters like Evan Thomas don't spend all day hanging out with presidents in the Oval Office. The only way for Evan Thomas to "know" that Bush "insisted on respect for the office" is for Bush or his aides to tell Thomas Bush insisted on it. The only way for Thomas to "know" that insistance included wearing coats and ties in the Oval Office is for Bush aides to tell him that.

    Which is to say that Evan Thomas can't know that Bush insisted on any such thing. He can only know that Bush aides say he insisted on it. Which means he shouldn't write "Bush insisted," he should write "Bush aides say he insisted."

    Well, actually, he should take three lousy minutes to do a Google Image search to find out if those claims are accurate. And, finding that they aren't, he should write "Bush aides claim he insisted on respect for the Oval Office, and that aides wore coats and ties. But, as you can see from the photo to the right, they are lying."

    Actually, let's take that one step further: We know that specific Bush aides are lying about this; reporters should name them. Andy Card, for example. Andy Card spent the first few weeks of the Obama administration acting all upset that Obama allows people to go jacketless in the Oval Office. President Bush had too much respect for the office to allow such a thing, Card said.

    Andy Card was lying. We know Andy Card was lying because this photo shows Andy Card in the Oval Office, looking right at George Tenet -- and Tenet isn't wearing a jacket:

    Now, a photo is not video. Maybe moments after this photo was taken, Bush and Card wrestled Tenet to the ground and put a jacket on him while screaming "YOU WILL RESPECT THE OFFICE." But I kind of doubt it.

    So, let's go back to Evan Thomas. Here's what Evan Thomas wrote:

    THOMAS: Bush insisted on respect for the office: aides wore coats and ties and saluted smartly, metaphorically and literally.

    And here's that paragraph, as it would appear if it were journalism rather than GOP spin:

    JOURNALISM: Bush aides, like Andrew Card, claim that Bush insisted on respect for the office and required aides to wear coats and ties in the Oval Office. That's a lie, as the following photo of Bush and Card in the Oval Office next to a jacketless George Tenet proves.

    See the difference?