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  • Rampage Nation: Newsweek plays dumb about the Pittsburgh cop killer

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The weekly has a big spread in this week's issue about how the issue of gun control has been left alone by Democratic politicians, even after the recent wave of killing sprees. As somebody who recently criticized the press for ignoring gun violence, and failing to use the shooting rampages as a time to address gun control, Newsweek does deserve credit for its piece.

    Still, there is a mjaor problem with the piece. The first is that Newsweek uses for its peg, the tale of Richard Poplawski, who's accused of killing three Pittsburgh policemen who responded to a routine domestic disturbance call at Poplawski's apartment.

    Here's what Newsweek reports:

    It was the deadliest day in the history of the Steel City's police department. When police finally apprehended and questioned Poplawski, he was without remorse. "He said he wishes he could have killed more Pittsburgh police officers," says a cop who was on the scene but asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case.

    So according to Newsweek, Poplawski was just a nut who snapped when the cops came to his apartment. Newsweek then quickly segues into its dissection of the politics in play. The problem is the local Pittsburgh press was stocked with reports about how the shooter was a fan of fringe, online conspiracies, and was afraid Obama was going to take away his guns.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    Richard Andrew Poplawski was a young man convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry.

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

    He slept with a gun under his pillow in a basement room filled with firearms and ammunition, convinced that Jews controlled the media and President Obama was scheming to take away his arsenal, friends and relatives said Saturday...[A friend] said Poplawski usually was affable and kind, but grew angry recently over fears Obama would outlaw guns.

    The local AP dispatch:

    Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn't clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

    But readers of Newsweek are left clueless about whether radical, baseless rhetoric from the far right about Obama might have prompted Poplawski to ambush three officers and murder them outside his apartment. Newsweek's article examines the politics involved in the gun control debate and gun violence in America and focuses on how little Democrats are doing. Newsweek though, completely ignores the role conservatives are playing in the issue, and specifically how some are stoking false fears about a so-called Obama gun ban.

  • In World Net Daily column, Savage claims "rogue homosexual elements within Homeland Security are engaging in extra-constitutional activity" in DHS report on "rightwing extremist activity"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Big Sister is watching you

    It turns out that Big Sis has just issued a report that warns against the possibility of violence by so-called "right-wing extremists." And what does Big Sis say these right-wingers are concerned about? Illegal aliens, the increasing power of the federal government, gun grabs, abortion and the loss of U.S. national sovereignty. In other words, anyone who is worried about preserving our borders, language and culture is on Big Sis' watch list.

    But here's something else that the headlines don't tell you. The report says that these dangerous right-wingers engage in "exploitation of social issues such as ... same-sex marriage." What this means is that even though state after state has rejected gay marriage every time it has been put to a vote of the people, if you oppose the destruction of traditional marriage, if you oppose the gay mafia, then you are suspect. If you aren't happy with her "lifestyle choice," Big Sis will put you on her list.

    It seems that rogue homosexual elements within Homeland Security are engaging in extra-constitutional activity. Where is the Republican Party to protect us from this rogue Obama government? Who will be next on the list? The Navy SEALs that shot the Somali pirates? Talk show hosts? Only Big Sis knows for sure.

    [...]

    But this most recent report from the Department of Homeland Security and Big Sis Napolitano goes even further. It ends on an ominous note. It says, "DHS... will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization."

    This isn't change we can believe in. This is Janet Reno on steroids.

    The iron heel is starting to come down. The Homeland Security Department and these fusion centers were not created by Obama but by George W. Bush. And while Obama may ultimately be responsible for suppressing third parties and anybody else whose thinking is out of line with the Marxist mainstream, it was Bush that started the process. So I don't want to hear from lockstep Republicans who insist that this is all Obama's doing. Both sides are to blame. Bush started it, but Obama may finish it, with Big Sis at his side.

  • Fox News brings the crazy

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    If you're lucky, you haven't watched Fox News all day.

    We have.

    Here's what you missed, distilled down to 110 seconds.

    And keep in mind, that's just the opening act: Glenn Beck's daily descent into madness is still to come.

  • Fox reportedly refuses to answer charges that it's "blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico's Michael Calderone reports:

    Nobody's covering the tea parties quite like Fox - and that's prompting critics and cable news competitors to say that the network is blurring the line between journalism and advocacy.

    "Fox appears to be promoting these events at the same time it is presenting them in a way that looks like reporting," said Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

    Burgard called the practice "pseudo-journalism," adding: "We have seen this before from Fox News Channel, but its role as galvanizer of opposition to President Obama's policies and leadership posture appears to be emerging."

    A Fox spokesperson said the network did not have an executive available to speak about its tea party coverage. A second Fox representative declined repeated offers to address the charge that it was blurring the lines between journalism and advocacy.

    While tea party organizers say their movement is nonpartisan, the protests lean hard to the right: Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin are on board, as is Freedom Works, an organization run by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey. And more than a dozen prominent Republicans were set to participate in tea party protests Wednesday, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and a slew of other Republicans from Congress.

  • Lowering the bar

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Marc Ambinder, writing "In Defense Of The Tax-Day Tea Parties":

    Their origins -- organic, programmatic, accidental or otherwise -- don't matter much anymore. If -- and we'll have to see the numbers at the end of the day -- 100,000 Americans show up to protest their taxes, the onus to dismiss them as a nascent political force shifts to the Democrats.

    Really? 100,000 people showing up for nationwide protests doesn't seem all that impressive. It's 2,000 people per state.

    If that's the turnout for these protests, I don't see how there's any onus on anyone to say anything other than "Meh." Or, perhaps, to offer a Nelson Muntz-style "Ha-ha" while pointing at Fox News.

  • Alert the Madrid Business Review

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Bill O'Reilly on Fox News this afternoon, discussing the possibility of a Spanish court indicting Bush administration officials:

    "Basically, we're gearing up for a boycott of Spain. And if they do it, we're going to ask people not to travel to that country or buy their goods."

    O'Reilly has a history of calling for boycotts of European countries, and of inventing evidence that those boycotts were successful.

  • The AP thinks Beck's gasoline-pouring shtick was "undeniably entertaining"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    You remember. Last week when Beck pretended to be Barack Obama and was pouring gasoline on the "average American" and then thought about lighting the match. When the Fox News host suggested it might just be faster if he were shot "in the head," rather than watch Obama ruin America. When Beck yelled and screamed and denounced Obama for literally destroying the country.

    That's what AP, in its puff piece on Beck, calls "undeniably entertaining television."

    Good to know.

  • Is Michelle Malkin embarrassed by Fox News?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Why do "tea party" cheerleaders in the media, like Malkin and Glenn Reynolds, insist on playing dumb about Fox News' role in the "grassroots" movement? Are they ashamed that Murdoch's outlet has showered today's anti-Obama rallies with millions of dollars in free advertising/promotion? Are they embarrassed that the "tea parties" are now synonymous with Glenn Beck? Are they ashamed that Fox News has hijacked the events?

    I honestly don't understand why Malkin and co. refuse to be upfront about the cable news channel's central involvement. Is Michelle Malkin embarrassed by Fox News?

  • Kos to AP: Don't let the door hit you on the way out

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga looked at the news sources Daily Kos front-page posts over the past week have relied upon for information:

    Out of curiosity, I decided to see where the news we discuss on this site came from the past week, from Monday, April 6, to Sunday, April 12. If we linked to a source that got its information from another site, we followed the links until we got to the original source of the reporting ("secondary" source). In other words, I wanted to categorize the original source of information for every (front page) post on the site. Here's the results of that link inventory:

    ...

    AP and other Wire: 5 secondary

    That compares to 102 primary and 21 secondary for newspapers, leading Kos to conclude:

    While newspapers were the most common source of information, they accounted for just 123 out of 628 total original information sources, or just shy of 20 percent.

    ...

    Again, this doesn't mean I'm gleefull or happy or even neutral on the sorry state of the newspaper industry and the demise of so many great newspapers. It's always sad to lose a good source of journalism. But we live in a rich media environment, easily the richest in world history, and the demise of the newspaper industry will simply shift much of the journalistic work they did to other media.

    On the other hand, I will be gleeful when the AP goes out of business. I'm actually shocked at how little we depend on those jerks.

    Personally, I don't find the AP to be completely useless. But much of what they do is stenography of the sort Washington Post reporter Paul Kane recently advocated. Nobody needs the AP (or the Washington Post, or any other Establishment media outlet) to simply type up and print things politicians say; politicians have websites and issue press releases.

    Another huge chunk of the AP's output consists of nonsense like this (unsuccessful) attempted "gotcha." Again: nobody needs that. As I wrote the other day: "Maybe the AP should spend a little less time worrying about who is quoting their work, and a little more time ensuring their work is worth quoting."