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  • Why conservatives make such lousy media critics, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because they're lazy and don't back up their claims.

    Please read former Bush adviser, and Duke prof, Peter Feaver for the latest proof. He writes that the press has been too easy and Obama (i.e. "worship") and was way too tough on Bush. (No, seriously.) Weaver certainly has every right to push that spin. But if you're going to critique the press it's usually a good idea to, y'know, provide some examples/proof to substantiate your work.

    But Feaver, like so many who whine about 'biased' press coverage, can't be bothered with specifics to substantiate his claim. (i.e. actual media citations) Zero. Nada. Zilch. Readers are just supposed to trust him.

    Instead, Feaver makes lots of sweeping generalizations:

    Clearly the mainstream media has not yet figured out how to cover Obama. I don't expect them to subject the Obama team to the same kind of tendentious and mocking ridicule that was the norm for so much of the Bush coverage, but nor do I expect the current prevailing double-standard to persist throughout his entire tenure. The media needs to figure out how to live up to their much-heralded (by them) watchdog role, because the media serves an essential function in maintaining a functional marketplace of ideas. When the media shirks its traditional role as skeptical truth-squadder the way it has shirked during Obama's first 100 days, public debate and public understanding of the critical issues of the day suffers.

    Are you laughing out loud that a a former Bush aide is complaining about the press walking away from its watchdog role? Here's five (six?) words for Feaver: run-up to the Iraq war.

  • Why conservatives make such lousy media critics

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because they're wildly dishonest.

    Paging former McCain flak Michael Goldfarb, who apparently has trouble deciphering bylines while attacking ABC News' recent CIA interrogation report.

    Goldfarb [emphasis added]:

    ABC runs a report showing the names and faces of two CIA contractors who may have had a role in the waterboarding of KSM and Abu Zubaydah. The network apparently outsourced this report to a freelancer named Matthew Cole.

    Goldfarb builds his attack around the fact that ABC News "apparently" turned to journalist Matthew Cole. (Goldfarb says that's a no-no because Cole's "left-wing.") But I'm puzzled. How does a news organization "apparently" outsource reporting duties? Typically the best way to determine who reported a story is to, y'know, look at the byline. I guess that's how Goldfarb cracked the code of Cole's 'apparent' role in the story; because his name appears in the byline. Boy, nothing gets past Goldfarb.

    Having confirmed Cole's 'apparent' involvement, Goldfarb announces that ABC News never should've allowed a former Salon freelancer to report out a controversial CIA interrogation scoop. But back to those mysterious bylines. Here's what the byline above ABC's interrogation report says:

    By BRIAN ROSS, MATTHEW COLE, and JOSEPH RHEE

    Goldfarb wants his Weekly Standard readers to think that the ABC scoop was the work of some fly-by-night freelancer, when in fact Brian Ross, one of ABC's most senior and veteran reporters, is the lead name on the byline.

    How lousy are conservative media critics? So lousy, critics like me have to clean up after their mess.

    UPDATE: Tbogg at FDL finds even more to mock in Goldfarb's weak effort.

    UPDATE: As Greg Sargent notes, if the ABC investigation did have a flaw, it was the way it quickly glossed over earlier ABC reporting on interrogation practices; reporting that has recently been discredited.

  • Does the Wash. Times' Joseph Curl have an editor?

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Reporting on Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips' appearance at an April 30 hearing presided over by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) , The Washington Times' Joseph Curl wrote:

    But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades - Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed a taste of the seaman.

    Update: The Washington Times has changed the text so it now reads: "But on Thursday, the captain was among comrades -- Mr. Kerry is an old Navy man, as is ranking committee Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar, who served from 1956 to 1960. Mr. Kerry, who captained a Swift boat in Vietnam during the war, clearly enjoyed talking to a fellow seafarer."

  • Because Beltway journalists think they're in the entertainment biz

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That's the only reason I can figure out how this on-going, and completely unprecedented, media narrative that Obama's press conferences aren't entertaining enough continues to gain momentum. Based on the Nexis searches I've done, the WH press corps has never, ever used that as a way to critique pressers. The absurd yard stick has been invented out of whole cloth for Obama.

    From CJR:

    Among other things, we're dealing with a level 5 pandemic alert regarding the swine flu outbreak (Obama sounded, the LAT childishly pointed out, "more like school nurse in chief than commander in chief"), closely following a major counter-attack by Pakistani military this week against the Taliban, and continuing to discuss the ramifications of the recent release of Bush-era secret memos establishing the legal justification for interrogation techniques like waterboarding.

    Obama, sandwiched between a nominal celebration of his accomplishments and a public wondering whether it should start wearing masks on the subway, chose simple over stirring. It seems unreasonable to so vigorously call that boring. The accompanying no-new-news accusations—which seems to stem from the same what, no thrills? impulse—just come across as peevish; as we've discussed here before, pressers may be about gaffes, gotchas, and maybe even about encouraging civic participation, but they've never been about breaking news.

    But why? Why would so many in the press advertise their lack of seriousness by glomming onto such an overtly shallow talking point? I think it's because journalists, and especially the Village elites, see themselves as being in the entertainment business, and not the news business; not the public service business. And so their knee-jerk response is to announce whether official White House functions were fun and entertaining to them, and to pretty much ignore the traditional ways the press has covered and analyzed those events in the past.

  • 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.