• A little more "historical perspective" on the "National Council for a New America"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder offers some "historical perspective" on the GOP's new "National Council for a New America":

    AMBINDER: Lou Zickar, the editor of the Ripon Forum, e-mails to note that the National Council for a New America "is very similar to one Haley Barbour pursued in 1993 when, as Chairman of the RNC, he established the National Policy Forum." The NPF, of course, was a fundraising, grassroots and policy idea vehicle, and the ideas developed at 70 forums around the country helped "form the foundation for the Contract with America," which was officially released two months before 1994 midterm elections.

    That's a pretty Republican-friendly description of the National Policy Forum. A more complete description would note that Barbour and the RNC essentially used NPF to launder funds from a Hong Kong businessman to the RNC for use in the 1994 elections:

    The embarrassing episode dates back to the heat of the 1994 congressional elections, when Barbour sought out financial support from Ambrous Tung Young, a wealthy Hong Kong businessman and Republican Party loyalist.

    Barbour arranged a $2.1-million loan guarantee from Young Brothers Development USA, the Florida-based subsidiary of Young's Hong Kong-based real estate and aviation company, to support the National Policy Forum, a GOP think tank created by Barbour in 1993 to promote the Republican philosophy.

    The Forum took out a $2.1-million commercial bank loan, guaranteed by certificates of deposit purchased with funds provided to Young Brothers Development by the parent company in Hong Kong. The Forum then immediately sent $1.6 million to an RNC account.

    Barbour ran both the policy group and the RNC, a dual role that the Democrats say effectively merged the two organizations into one. The policy group sought tax-exempt status that would allow it to accept foreign funds. The RNC, however, was prohibited by U.S. law from taking foreign donations.

    (See also: "Hong Kong Money Returned by G.O.P.")

    Barbour claimed not to know that Young couildn't legally contribute to the RNC, a claim even Republican Senator Fred Thompson found hard to believe during the 1997 Senate campaign finance hearings:

    HALEY BARBOUR: I thought we were having a guarantor that was an entity that could contribute and was contributing. And I want to be fair to 'em. I think the Young Brothers people thought they could legally contribute too. I think they honestly thought that.

    SEN. FRED THOMPSON: But when you're sitting on a boat in the Hong Kong harbor, talking to a gentleman, who's a citizen of Taiwan, I mean, that does raise certain other potential implications in terms of appearances, but it's an appearance business that we're both in, isn't it?

    That wasn't the only foreign money Barbour and NPF took:

    In March 1997 he appeared on the NBC News program Meet the Press and was asked by moderator Tim Russert: "And yet you will not disclose who gave how much money. Why don't you tell the American people who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to this National Policy Forum, and did any of that money come from overseas?" Barbour replied, "Well, none of the money came from overseas." Russert: "Period?" Barbour: "Period." Barbour was in a position to know, inasmuch as he created and chaired the National Policy Forum, a now-defunct organization that did not have to disclose its donors and could receive foreign money, legally.

    Months later, according to Russert, Barbour called him, apologizing "that he had misled me." Barbour said he had discovered that the Pacific Cultural Foundation, a Taiwanese entity, had contributed $25,000 to the National Policy Forum. What Barbour didn't say — and Senate investigators later discovered — is that the RNC chairman sent a personal thank-you letter for the contributions to Ambassador Jason Hu, the U.S. representative of the Taiwanese government.

    Given that Barbour is involved with the new GOP "National Council for a New America," you would think any comparison between that group and the National Policy Forum would note that Barbour used NPF to inject foreign money into Republican Party spending on the 1994 elections.

    Then again, the media never paid nearly as much attention to that foreign money as they did to foreign money that made its way to the Democratic Party two years later.

  • FAIL: Drudge's Understanding of Twitter

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    So, according to internet gossip Matt Drudge, he was the first person Alaska Governor Sarah Palin decided to follow on Twitter. He's even reporting it on The Drudge Report:

    Like much of the work he does, whether original "reporting" or linking to news stories with his own misleading headlines, Drudge comes up short with the facts on this one. Yep, he's wrong again.

    In fairness, the news outlet Drudge links to, The Daily Telegraph, misreported the story as well.

    If you take a look at Sarah Palin's Twitter page, you'll notice that of the 43 (as of right now) people Palin follows on Twitter, Drudge was the 17th. He barely makes the first half of her follow.

    Here's the list of folks Palin said "you betcha" to before Drudge:

    1. Newt Gingrich
    2. Karl Rove
    3. Sen. Lesil McGuire
    4. Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr.
    5. Sen. Lisa Murkowski
    6. Sen. Jim DeMint
    7. Gov. Rick Perry
    8. Gov. Bob Riley
    9. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    10. Gov. Bill Richardson
    11. Gov. Mike Huckabee
    12. Veratect
    13. Politico 44
    14. Newsweek
    15. Weekly Standard
    16. Fox News
    17. Drudge Report

    By the way, you can follow me on Twitter @KarlFrisch or Media Matters @mmfa. Also, Sarah Palin isn't the only Sarah Palin out there Twittering as Sarah Palin.

  • Los Angeles Times, please define "strikingly defensive"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From the paper's take on Obama's press last night, here's the lede:

    In a strikingly defensive explanation of his stance on Bush-era anti-terrorism tactics, President Obama on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that the harsh interrogation techniques he has banned might have yielded useful information, but that he was nonetheless willing to rule them out on moral grounds.

    The article continues with that weird, breathless tone throughout, as the Times does its best to gin up the drama. To our eyes and ears though, Obama's response to back-to-back questions about torture last night weren't in the least "defensive," let alone "strikingly" so. See for yourself in the extended clip below.

    P.S. The Times' effort continues the media's Bizarro World reporting on the topic of torture. i.e. It's the Obama White House that's been put on the defensive regarding how the Bush administration authorized the illegal use of torture. Good luck connecting those dots.

  • Cue the world's smallest violin. Again

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I guess if you make a living worshiping entertainment television (no easy task), than this is the result. From New York Daily News TV Editor Richard Huff:

    Fox is going to get skinned in some parts, no doubt, for not carrying President Obama's 100-day press conference Wednesday night. That's just wrong. The network should be praised for not giving up a third night of lucrative prime-time television for yet another presidential press conference. Enough already.

    Huff thinks Fox did the right thing by turning its back on its pledge as a broadcasting company to serve the public interest from time to time by airing a primetime White House press conference. Enough already, Huff insists. He can't stand how the nets have to keep adjusting their precious entertainment schedules in order to make room for Obama. Huff insists the whole exercise is pointless:

    Back in the day, a President appearing on TV in prime time meant something. Something critical to the country needed to be said, and be heard by a wide audience. But thanks to Obama's ability to wow the cameras - and the networks' general fear that saying no will freeze them out - the concept has been severely diluted.

    This is just plain dumb. The fact is, primetime WH press conferences have always been carried live by the nets even though most of them were routine events and did not revolve around breaking news or a crisis. But TV insider Huff thinks televised White House news events are a bore, that they should not preempt reality shows or cop dramas, and that they're a "pure inconvenience."

  • Murdoch media continue to try to improve the Air Force One story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We noted how the New York Post did its best to mislead readers into thinking that Obama had something to do with the misguided photo op that freaked out New Yorkers on Monday. The Post's headline read:


    That, despite the fact Obama was not on the plane, did not order the photo op and didn't even know about it. So there's that.

    Then Murdoch hit man Glenn Beck went one better and placed Obama on Air Force One and personally ordering the fly-by:

    Then yesterday we had the 'secret photo op' of Air Force One flying over Manhattan. Which gave a lot of people flashbacks to 9/11. See all those people on the street? They were evacuating buildings. These people are running in fear because the president flew his plane over for a photo shoot!

    (h/t C&L)

  • We waited a month for that?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    On March 24, President Obama held a press conference without calling on the New York Times, causing some chatter among Establishment media.

    Tonight, the Times got its chance to ask the President a question -- and Jeff Zeleny used it to ask "What has surprised you the most about this office, enchanted you the most about serving in this office, humbled you the most, and troubled you the most?"

  • Priorities

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    CBS News gets a shot at asking the President of the United States a question -- one question -- with the nation watching, and Chip Reid uses it to ask what Arlen Specter's party change says about the state of the Republican Party.

    It's in a shambles. Who cares? That's really the most important thing you could think of to ask the President?

    UPDATE: Ok, CBS got more than one question. Reid's was still a waste of time, though.

    UPDATE 2: At least Reid didn't ask Obama what surprises and enchants Obama about being President. That's a good question for a People magazine profile, I suppose, but it seems like the New York Times could come up with something better...

  • The "Worst Media Moment of Obama's First 100 Days" is...

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Last week we asked you to vote in an online poll for the "Worst Media Moment of Obama's First 100 Days." Well the results are finally in! Drum roll please...

    With thousands of votes cast, conservative leader and nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh takes FIRST PLACE with 28 percent of all votes -- 8 percent more than his closest competitor -- for this gem:

    Limbaugh on Obama: "We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black"

    Be sure to check out all of the poll results here.

    Don't forget to visit The Limbaugh Wire daily for the latest on El Rushbo. You can also sign up to receive an hour-by-hour summary of The Rush Limbaugh Show including humorous highlights. (Monday-Friday three emails daily) or check them out online.

  • Lapdogs to the end

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Even out of office, the departed Bush White House seems to get its way the press. In this case, how newsrooms dutifully shy away from the "t" word because that's what Bushies prefer.

    Greg Sargent explains:

    But the bottom line is that by not using the term, the paper is rendering a verdict, too - in favor of the Bush administration. There's a reason the Bushies don't call waterboarding torture: It happened on their watch, and calling it torture would be an admission of guilt. Naturally, their official position is that they didn't torture. By not describing the acts committed under Bush as "torture," the paper is propping up the Bush argument. Period.