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  • Byron York will make you laugh until you cry

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That's how bad the conservatives recent Washington Examiner column is. The headline pretty much tells the whole sorry tale:

    In time of victory, why is the left so angry?

    No joke. It's not not satire. York is (apparently) serious as he puzzles deeply over why Obama supporters are so darn angry. (They "lash out.") Laugh when you read his column in which York completely ignores the fact that the conservative media in America has become completely unhinged since Obama's election and have embraced and broadcast the most paranoid, angry, irresponsible kind of rhetoric perhaps ever recorded in mainstream American politics. Or at least in modern American politics.

    Forget that's it's conservatives who have accused the new, wildly popular president of being a socialist and/or a communist and/or a fascist. Forget that it's conservatives who are warning of a looming totalitarian state. And forget that conservatives whipped up crowds last week in frothy anti-Obama anger.

    According to York, it's liberals who are angry.

    The crying part starts when you realize that in York's entire column about the angry left, the only proof he offers to showcase the apparently out-of-control anger liberals are spouting comes in the form of a single televised interview from a TV actress. Again, no joke. York's ill-conceived notion of the angry left is built entirely around an interview Janeane Garofalo gave last week on MSNBC. That's York's evidence.

  • In syndicated column on tea parties, Coulter says "It would be hilarious if Hillary Clinton's name were 'Ima Douche.' Unfortunately, it's not"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Ann Coulter's column headlined "Obama's Recipe For Change Not My Cup of Tea:

    [N]o one is calling the tea parties "tea bagging" -- except Olbermann and Maddow. Republicans call them "tea parties."

    But if the Republicans were calling them "tea-bagging parties," the MSNBC hosts would have a fantastically hilarious segment for viewers in San Francisco and the West Village and not anyplace else in the rest of the country. On the other hand, they're not called "tea-bagging parties." (That, of course refers to the cocktail hour at Barney Frank's condo in Georgetown.)

    You know what else would be hilarious? It would be hilarious if Hillary Clinton's name were "Ima Douche." Unfortunately, it's not. It was just a dream. Most people would wake up, realize it was just a dream and scrap the joke. Not MSNBC hosts.

    Coulter's column was published in print or online by Human Events, The Marietta Daily Journal, The Saint Augustine Record, WorldNetDaily, and Townhall.com.

  • Define "most liberal," please ...

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell seems to think only the very liberal favor investigations into Bush administration torture:

    O'DONNELL: How much of this, do you think, is a way to sort of relieve some pressure from the left, and even from Capitol Hill, and the more liberal Democratic senators who say 'We want an investigation, we've got to be open to prosecuting these people.'? I mean, we heard both Senator Feingold today, very tough on this issue, as well as Senator Feinstein, saying 'Let's hold off,' saying, 'Don't rule out any prosecutions, I want to have my investigation first.'

    But Diane Feinstein is not one of the "more liberal Democratic senators." The Lewis-Poole rankings place her as the 31st most liberal member of the the 110th Senate.

    Also: If MSNBC is going to suggest that only liberals are interested in investigating potential law-breaking, maybe it's time they start referring to liberalism as the "law and order" ideology, and conservatives as "soft on crime."

    UPDATE: Jason Linkins has much more at HuffPo: Chuck Todd Depicts Support For Torture Investigations As Fringe Phenomenon

  • It isn't us. It's you.

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Over the weekend, Digby highlighted Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank's bewilderment that he continues to get complaints from liberal readers despite the fact that President Bush has been replaced by President Obama.

    It shouldn't really be that hard to understand. Dana Milbank is not the personification of the White House. If he was, you might expect him to received fewer complaints from liberals now that Bush is gone. But Dana Milbank is a journalist; the complaints he get are likely in response to his journalism.

    As Digby noted:

    It doesn't seem to occur to Milbank that "the left" might just not like the snotty, juvenile, shallow kind of journalism he practices, no matter who is in office. If they're mad at his reporting whether it's Bush or Obama, does it not occur to him that it might be him and not them?

    Digby's post reminded me of Jake Tapper's defensiveness in response to criticism from liberals that the media was paying too much attention to an iPod given by President Obama to the Queen of England. Tapper posted the following defense on his Twitter page:

    for angry libs complaining about the iPod story: who do you think is sharing this info about the iPod? u think we broke into buckingham?

    Tapper seemed to be suggesting that Obama aides were the ones "sharing this info about the iPod" with reporters, so liberals shouldn't criticize the media for obsessing over it. Here's what I wrote at the time:

    I can't speak for all "angry libs," but what Tapper seems not to understand is that few, if any, liberal media critics think the media should simply report anything handed to them on a presidential spoon - even if the president in question is a Democrat.

    This attitude isn't unique to Tapper. I've seen more than a few journalists respond to criticism from progressives by saying something similar - that their report reflects what Democratic sources told them. That's a valid response when the criticism is that the report omitted a Democratic viewpoint. But when the criticism is that the report is false, or flawed in some other way, "hey, we're just reporting what Democrats tell us" isn't a meaningful defense.

    What neither Milbank nor Tapper seems to understand is that the criticism they are getting from liberals is a result of liberals not thinking their journalism is any good. Of course, Tapper and Milbank don't have to agree with those assessments of their work product - sometimes, no doubt, the criticism is incorrect. But it would be nice if they (finally) realized that the criticism they've been getting isn't about who is in the White House, it's about their own work.

  • When will reporters stop taking Cheney claims at face value?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Greg Sargent is trying to pin down former Vice President Cheney's staff on the details of his claim to have "formally" asked the CIA to release intelligence that he claims proves the efficacy of torture. Several news organizations are uncritically repeating Cheney's claim, but Sargent has a source who says the CIA never received such a request, and a Cheney spokesperson is refusing to explain how the request was made.

    Meanwhile, I haven't seen any reporter ask Cheney or his staff what seems like an obvious question: If there exist documents that prove that torture prevented attacks on the US, and those documents can be released without jeopardizing national security, why didn't the Bush administration release them before leaving office?

    It isn't like it's a surprise that the Obama administration has made some changes in Bush administration torture policy; Cheney and Bush had to know that was a possibility. So why didn't they release this evidence that supposedly proves that torture is a necessary national security tool? (If the answer is that they feared releasing the documents would jeopardize national security, there's an obvious follow-up: Why does Cheney want them released now?)

  • Apparently, it's puff profile day at the Politico

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    First Amity Shlaes, now this. Richard Scott couldn't have asked for a better profile than the one Politico gave him today.

    Start with the warm-and-fuzzy headline: "A conservative health care champion."

    It gets worse from there.

    Politico doesn't quote any progressives, or anyone who favors a public heath care plan, or anyone who disagrees with Richard Scott in any way. The article does paraphrase public plan advocates - but in doing so, weakens their arguments. After noting that Scott plans on releasing a film showing "people [negatively] affected by the Canadian and British health care systems" and quoting Scott talking about the film, Politico explains:

    Proponents of the public plan say comparisons between U.S. and foreign health care won't resonate at a time when many Americans are desperate for lower insurance costs. Not to mention, there are plenty of horror stories to highlight about health care in this country, they say.

    Well, ok. But many proponents of the public plan make another, less defensive argument: That other nations have health care systems that deliver better care at lower costs, so comparisons between U.S. and foreign health care will resonate - to the benefit of public plan advocates. It's probably too much to hope that Politico would actually quote public plan proponents in an article about opposition to the public plan, but the paper could at least include a stronger argument for the public plan than something that boils down to "advocates say attacks on the public plan won't resonate."

    Politico then prints the transcript of an interview it conducted with Scott. Somewhat surprisingly, Politico asked Scott about his tenure at the head of Columbia/HCA. Unfortunately, the question downplayed the problems that occurred on his watch:

    You lost control of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain in 1997 following a Medicare investigation. How do you respond to criticism that you come to the fight with some baggage?

    I started with $125,000 and built at the time the largest hospital company, and I did that for 9½ years. We had a great run. We had 343 hospitals, 135 centers, took care of over 130,000 patients a day. We did a good job on outcomes.

    The hospital industry was under investigation, probably starting in the mid-'90s. So we ended up with an investigation, and the board decided that someone else could run the company better. So I left, went on vacation, changed my life.

    That's it. No follow-up. Politico delicately referred to "a Medicare investigation," leaving readers to assume that nothing came of the probe other than a little unpleasantness. After all, according to Scott, Columbia/HCA was only investigated because the entire "industry was under investigation," so they "ended up with an investigation." In fact, Scott's company "ended up" being investigated because it was guilty of massive fraud. And it ended up paying $1.7 billion - BILLION - in fines and penalties.

    It probably goes without saying that Politico didn't challenge Scott's claims about health care, though some were dubious at best. Like this one: "There are 40 percent of the people who make more than $50,000, so is that an issue? They can afford insurance. ... The people that have the money who don't want to buy insurance, I don't think you can do anything about that. " It seems a pretty safe assumption that there are families making $50,000 a year who cannot afford health care, though Politico didn't bother to press Scott on that point.

  • Politico's love letter to a flawed book

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Under the header "Why Republicans are devouring one book," Politico hypes Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man, in which she "takes issue with the value of government intervention in a major economic crisis," so enthusiastically, you'd think they're getting a cut of the sales.

    A quick word count of the quotes in the Politico article gives a pretty good indication of how one-sided it is:

    211 words quote people (other than Shlaes) praising the book's content

    12 words quote people (other than Shlaes) praising the book's sales

    271 words quote Shlaes herself.

    1 word ("revisionist") quotes a critic of the book

    And Politico is hyping its article about Shlaes' book nearly as much as it is hyping the book itself: most of above-the-fold portion of the web site's front page is currently devoted to pushing the story.