Blog

  • NYT's Sheryl Gay Stolberg, please define "populist"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Times reporter dutifully anoints the previously unknown Rick Santelli of CNBC a "populist" because he uncorked an on-air rant about the Obama housing recovery while reporting among all-white, all-male traders on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. It was a rant where Santelli suggested Obama was leading America down the road to communism.

    But nowhere in her article does the Times reporter explain why Santelli, who Chris Matthews rightfully likened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, in any way tapped into a "populist" feeling. The former VP for Drexel Burnham Lambert (you remember that `80's hothouse of populist fever, right) simply mouthed divisive, right-wing talking points, and disconnected media elites crowned him a populist anyway. The closest Stolberg came to suggesting Santelli articulated populist rhetoric was when she pointed out:

    [Santelli] called for the creation of a Web site where Americans could vote on whether they "really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages."

    She might think that's "populist," but probably lots of Times readers simply chalk that up as being idiotic.

  • The New York Times and the Academy Awards

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I'll note upfront that this item doesn't have to do with conservative misinformation. But it does deal with the state of journalism, and it's a topic that's sort of irked me for a while. Plus it's the weekend. So there.

    I realize newspaper advertisers are becoming increasingly scarce, and for the Times, Hollywood studios spend tons of money with the daily. But I've been struck recently by the increasingly cozy relationship between the newspaper and the studios; a relationship that as a reader, diminishes the Times' news reputation.

    In terms of cozy, I'm talking about the the annual holiday movie special section, which is stacked with ads but rather perfunctory articles, the annual Oscar preview special section, the predictable summer movie preview special section, and the recent Sunday Times magazine, which pretty much devoted its entire issue to feather-light pieces about Oscar nominees.

    Slate's Timothy Noah recently took a closer look, noting that the Times' doting on the Oscars comes at a time when fewer and fewer news consumers seem interested in the annual awards presentation:

    A Nexis database search turns up, in the New York Times, 251 mentions of the phrase Academy Awards or the word Oscars since Jan. 1. That's more mentions in the Times than for the words Pakistan (186), Geithner (169), foreclosure (142), or Blagojevich (66)...While Times Oscar coverage has been trending upward, the American public's interest in the Academy Awards, as measured by Nielsen ratings, has mostly been trending downward...The 2008 Oscar ratings were the lowest ever recorded. Thirty-two million Americans watched, compared with the peak Oscar audience of 55 million in 1998.

    Noah points out that the annual number of Oscar mentions in the Times has nearly doubled in the last ten year, as viewership for the program has been nearly cut in half.

    The Times needs to pull way back on its Oscar obsession. There are far more important topics to address (even within the A&E world), and its obsequious coverage often comes across studio butt-kissing, and not much more.

  • Nice job on the Stimulus, Madame Speaker. But shouldn't you be changing some diapers?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    US News & World Report's Washington Whispers page currently features a poll asking readers who they would prefer to run a daycare center for their kids: First Lady Michelle Obama, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

    And no, the poll doesn't offer the obvious fifth choice: "Why the hell would anyone ask this question?"

    UPDATE: Fixed headline, which originally referred to "Madame Secretary."

  • Bipartisanship!

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    How long before some reporter points to this as evidence of insufficient bipartisanship on Barack Obama's part?

    New York Republican Rep. John McHugh, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, has turned down Barack Obama's invite to Monday's fiscal responsibility summit, his office tells my colleague Alex Isenstadt.

    The New York congressman emerged as a tough critic of the economic stimulus package passed by Congress last week.

  • GLAAD launches action against The New York Post and Delonas noting history of anti-LGBT cartoons

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    One the heels of the controversial New York Post cartoon that depicted a dead chimpanzee with two bullet holes in its chest with a police officer holding a gun saying, "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," GLAAD has launched a call to action noting Sean Delonas, the cartoonists, long history of anti-LGBT cartoons.

    GLAAD president Neil Giuliano said:

    "Sean Delonas has a history of defamatory work and we stand with those who decry this recent cartoon as unacceptable and a vicious portrayal that neither enlightens nor entertains. It's unacceptable that the New York Post continues to provide a platform for such instances of hateful defamation."

    GLAAD goes on to remind readers:

    As we mentioned yesterday, Delonas has been the subject of three separate GLAAD Action Alerts for his continued juvenile and defamatory treatments of LGBT issues as well as making the "Worst" on the "Best and Worst" list on several occasions. This year he was named to GLAAD's "Worst Defamation of 2008" list.

    Here is a slideshow of some of Delonas' anti-LGBT cartoons:

    You can learn more about GLAAD's action campaign here.

  • UPDATE: Malkin "do[es] not think it's out of bounds" to make analogies comparing Obama to Hitler

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    You may remember earlier this week when we posted a photo from ProgressNowColorado of right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin posing for a photo with a man holding a sign that uses a circled swastika as the "O" in Obama. The photo was taken at a Colorado rally against the President's economic recovery plan.

    Then there was Malkin's initial defense when she posted a bunch of images using the swastika and Nazi imagery to attack former President Bush and other conservatives (including herself). It's worth noting that none of the images Malkin posted included prominent progressives -- say, Markos from DailyKos, radio's Ed Schultz or MSNBC's Rachel Maddow -- posing with someone holding a swastika sign.

    Well, thanks to our state-based Colorado Media Matters, we now know that Malkin "do[es] not think it's out of bounds" to make analogies comparing Obama to Hitler.

    From Colorado Media Matters:

    Conservative author and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, appearing as a guest on KHOW's The Caplis & Silverman Show, asserted it is not "out of bounds" to analogize President Obama to Adolf Hitler. During a discussion about a photo taken in Denver of her posing with a person holding a sign showing a circled swastika as the "O" in Obama, she claimed without providing evidence that a progressive group conspired to capture the image and asserted it is "the M.O. of the left" to "play[] the Hitler card." Neither host pointed out that numerous conservative radio hosts -- including some on KHOW and sister station KOA -- have used Hitler or Nazi references and allusions in criticizing Obama and other Democrats.

    Listen for yourself...

    For those of you who missed the photo, here it is again:

    Courtesy of ProgressNow Colorado

  • Politico, incapable of spotting irony

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Maintaining its drumbeat of relatively pointless articles about the new Obama administration, Politico thinks it's a big deal there are no CEO's inside the new cabinet. Because only titans of business know how to run economies, right? Politico also suggests it's been the norm for decades to include CEO's in White House cabinets, although the historical proof it provides is rather sketchy.

    We chuckled though, when Politico, leaning heavily on the angle that the lack of CEO's might hurt Obama, noted:

    That's in contrast with other recent administrations, which have seen a host of ex-CEOs and businesspeople in the president's inner circle. George W. Bush, for example, selected three consecutive ex-CEOs as Treasury secretary: Paul O'Neill, former CEO of Alcoa, John Snow, former CEO of CSX, and Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs. By contrast, Obama's pick for the same position is Timothy Geithner, a veteran bureaucrat who served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    Hmm, Bush appointed three former CEO's to run the Treasury Dept. (i.e. to help run the economy), and now the Obama administration has to try to undo the extraordinary damage done to the economy during the Bush years.

    But Politico still thinks it's weird that Obama's not following Bush's lead.

  • CNN misses the real story

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In its look at the increase in the number of women robbing banks, says Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

    The uptick in bank robbery committed by women correlates with the economic downtown, the head of the Nassau County police department's robbery squad says that women are primarily motivated by a need to "pay bills, get a little extra cash... They need diapers for the baby that kind of thing," and yet the framing story is all about a thrill-seeking thief and the accompanying article photos are of the "Barbie Bandits"—blonde, teenage strippers who robbed a bank to go on a shopping spree. There's a real story to be told about desperate women who have no resources and no opportunities, but it's buried beneath yet another "hot chicks doing boy things" story.

  • Obama faces a completely different press corps than Bush did

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is quite an observation from MSNBC's Domenico Montanaro [emphasis added]:

    The great challenge that this White House is dealing with is the 24/7 nature of the Twittering media that no other president has ever dealt with on the policy front. It's the natural evolution, considering that campaigns have gotten this kind of coverage for years. Still, this environment of incremental up-down rulings by the punditocracy (most notably business pundits, see yesterday) on Obama's first month of policy, is quite the message handling challenge for this White House. Right now, it's chosen to deal with it by flooding the zone; instead of pushing one storyline a week, they go ahead and try and sell multiple messages. Can they keep up the pace?

    Domenico's point is that the new Obama administration faces a new type of media environment that moves at a lightening pace and insists on handing out grades on an almost hourly basis.

    To that I ask: Didn't Bush just leave office like less than 40 days ago. Is Domenico suggesting that in the last 40 days here has been some sort of overnight, technological media revolution inside the Beltway which now causes the press corps to act in a dramatically different, and in some cases almost unrecognizable, fashion?

    Or, as I'd suggest, is it simply that the same media infrastructures remains in place (i.e. Twitter existed while Bush was prez, right?), it's just that the Beltway press corps has voluntarily chosen to act in a dramatically different, and hyper-caffeinated, fashion to cover (and grade) and new Dem White House?

    I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

  • Look who passes as a "populist" to the media elite

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Yep, the CNBC reporter who yesterday claimed the all-white, all-male traders surrounding him on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange represented a cross-section of America. In fact, at one point on Thursday, CNBC's Rick Santelli turned to face the floor, extended his arms toward the six-figure salaried employees and announced, "This is America!"

    Ah, life inside the CNBC bubble.

    But that didn't stop the out-of-touch press from anointing Santelli a "populist," following his rant against the Obama housing recovery plan and how the president was leading the country down the road to communism, which is what Santelli yesterday clearly suggested during his on-air meltdown.

    So let's take a look at Santelli's "populist" credentials, as viewed from his 2007 bio posted at the Milken Institute's Global Conference, held at Los Angeles' Beverly Hilton:

    Rick Santelli is a Bond Market Reporter for CNBC. He joined CNBC Business News as on-air editor in 1999, reporting from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. His focus is primarily on interest rates, foreign exchange and the Federal Reserve. A veteran trader and financial executive, Santelli has provided live reports on the markets in print and on local and national radio and television. He joined CNBC from the Institutional Financial Futures and Options division at Sanwa Futures. There, he was a vice president, handling institutional trading and hedge accounts for a variety of futures related products. Prior to that, Santelli worked as vice president of Institutional Futures and Options at Rand Financial Services Inc., served as managing director at the Derivative Products Group of Geldermann Inc., and was vice president in charge of Interest Rate Futures and Options at the Chicago Board of Trade for Drexel Burnham Lambert. Santelli began his career in 1979 as a trader and order filler at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in a variety of markets. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.