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  • 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."

  • Newsbusters' Shepard goes further over the edge

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Noel Shepard is upset about the DHS report on right-wing extremism and can't figure out "why the Pittsburgh cop killings were used as an example of a potential rise in violence associated with rightwing extremism when it was a domestic dispute between a mother and son which flared out of control."

    I'm guessing it was because the killer, Richard Poplawski, was a right-wing nut who thought the government was going to take away his guns and got his news from a conspiracy website run by Alex Jones. And because he was stockpiling food and weapons prior to the shootings. And because he was worried about "the elite Jewish powers that be" engineering the country's economic collapse in order to "make for a power and asset grab" and worried about a "Zionist occupation." Maybe all of that has something to do with it.

    Meanwhile, Shepard's portrayal of the killings as "a domestic dispute between a mother and son which flared out of control" is pretty misleading; it suggests that the police officers walked in on the "dispute" and Poplawski shot them in the heat of the moment. That isn't what happened. Poplawski knew the police were coming, took the time to put on a bulletproof vest and to arm himself with an assault rifle, a pistol, and "a significant amount of ammunition." Then he waited to ambush the police officers who responded to Poplowski's mother's call for help.

    That's what Noel Shepard describes as a "domestic dispute" that "flared out of control."

  • Heck of a job, Griffy

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    FNC reporter Griff Jenkins just interviewed people at the Washington, D.C., "tea party," including one gentleman who explained that he was attending the protest because "any president of the United States, first prerequisite should be a business owner. If he doesn't know how to run a business, how can he run our country?"

    That would have been a good time for Jenkins to ask the protester if he thought the last business owner to become president ran our country well. That's what a journalist would have done -- but, of course, Fox reporters at these events are not there as journalists. They are there as MCs.

  • Glenn Reynolds plays dumb about "tea parties." Again

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's like a hobby for him.

    Earlier this week, Reynolds hyped the "tea parties" in the NYPost with a gosh-golly look at how "grassroots" it all was. Except Reynolds forgot to mention the fact that Fox News, that "grassroots" media behemoth, was pretty much co-sponsoring the anti-Obama events.

    Today, Glenn's back. This time in the WSJ. And yes, Glenn's pretending the tea parties are completely bottom-up events. They're just "ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize."

    No, really:

    Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies -- dubbed "tea parties" -- to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like MoveOn.org.

    See, Fox News doesn't exist in the world of anti-Obama tea parties. It's not providing the events with priceless, free promotion. It's not branding them, and it's not hyping them. Fox News has nothing to do with the tea parties.

    Except that it does.

  • AP, please define "leading vote-getter"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Here's how the AP described the three-judge ruling from Minnesota that Al Franken had won his disputed election with Norm Coleman [emphasis added]:

    A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman.

    And the headline:

    MN court declares Franken leading vote-getter

    As the Brad Blog asks, doesn't the AP really mean to say that Franken won the election?

  • He's using the Chewbacca defense!

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Media Research Center never should have started a blog. In the 40 years or so that conservatives have been complaining in an organized way about the media, nothing has demonstrated the emptiness of their complaints as effectively as the daily posts at MRC's Newsbusters.

    Here, for example, is Newsbusters managing editor Ken Shepard:

    WaPo Photo Caption Bias in Cuba Embargo Story

    Opting to include a photo to supplement the reporting by Michael Shear and Cecilia Kang in their April 14 front-pager "Obama Lifts Broad Set of Sanctions Against Cuba", Washington Post editors made a caption choice that served to skew the story presentation in a way favorable to those who argue for lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

    "The president's new policies lift limits on Americans sending money to their relatives in struggling Cuba," reads the Post caption below a photograph by AP's Javier Galeano (shown above at right). In the photo, a man and woman are shown pushing a beat-up old car down the street.

    Here's the AP's caption for the photo:

    A couple pushes an old car through a street in Havana, Monday, April 13, 2009. President Barack Obama is allowing Americans to make unlimited trips and money transfers to family members in Cuba to usher in a new era of U.S openness toward the island nation.(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

    But wait a minute, doesn't Fidel Castro's buddy Hugo Chavez practically give free oil to Cuba? That's right, he does

    Ok. Does anyone have any idea what the "caption bias" in the Washington Post is supposed to be? Any idea at all?

    The structure of the post seems to suggest that Shepard is offering the AP caption as a contrast to the Post caption, but he doesn't explain how they are different, or why the AP version is better. And his "gotcha" revelation that Chavez gives Cuba oil ... what does that have to do with anything? It does not make any sense.

    This is the Chewbacca Defense of media criticism. And it's typical of what we see at Newsbusters every day.

    UPDATE: In the comments, a reader suggests the "bias" Shepard was referring to was the Post's description of Cuba as "struggling." Perhaps, though I expect Shepard would also see "bias" in any news report that failed to describe socialist Cuba as "struggling." And just imagine how he would react if the Washington Post described Cuba as "thriving."

  • Michelle Malkin defends skinheads?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    As C&L's Dave Neiwert details, Malkin and company are all up in arms (save it for the tea parties, people!) about a brief report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis that raises a red flag for law enforcement about the possible rise in right-wing extremism.

    The question is, why do Malkin and fellow conservatives care what the government thinks about radical, violent movements on the far right? Or do Malkin and fellow conservatives feel some sort of kinship for that kind of thing?

    From Neiwert:

    The report -- which in fact is perfectly accurate in every jot and tittle -- couldn't be more clear. It carefully delineates that the subject of its report is "rightwing extremists," "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups," "terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks," "white supremacists," and similar very real threats described in similar language. Nothing about conservatives. The word never appears in the report.

    Yet here's Malkin:

    By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives.

    Again, why does Malkin feel the need to attack a report about "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups"?

    Writes Neiwert, "What's actually happened is this: The DHS accidentally held a mirror up to Michelle Malkin. And she's shrieking at the self-recognition."

    UPDATE: From Glenn Greenwald:

    Conservatives have responded to this [DHS] disclosure as though they're on the train to FEMA camps.

    UPDATE: Sean Hannity on Fox News made the same conclusion Tuesday night that Malkin did: that the DHS report on "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremists groups" was really about conservatives. Hannity wondered if the government would be keeping tabs on people who attended "tea parties." Is Hannity suggesting there will be lots of "white supremacists" and "long wolf extremists" at the tea parties? Because that's who the DHS was flagging.

  • Newsbusters' Sheppard again invokes Waco

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard wrote a lengthy post about what he is calling the "War Against Conservative Opinion (WACO)" -- a purported government effort to take away the guns and liberty of law-abiding citizens. The Waco tragedy, of course, has been used as a rallying cry for right-wing activists in the past. Timothy McVeigh, for example, blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City out of anger over Waco. So it is at least creepy, if not dangerous, for Sheppard to run around shouting "Waco!" over and over, all the while promoting the fiction that the Obama administration has a secret plan to seize guns.

    But today, Sheppard is back at it, referring to a Department of Homeland Security assessment of the growth of right-wing extremist groups as a "scary document" and asking: "Is the Obama administration now fueling the fire of the Left's War Against Conservative Opinion?" Sheppard concludes his post: "Want to talk about the WACO?"

    Glenn Beck's recent stunt in which he doused a guest in gasoline while saying "Maybe I'm alone, but I think it would be just faster if they just shot me in the head. ... President Obama, why don't you just set us on fire?" can also be seen as an invocation of Waco -- 76 people died in the fire that destroyed the Branch Davidian compound, ending the siege.

  • If Rasmussen didn't exist, Power Line would have to invent it

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Rasmussen's daily tracking poll really has become a lifeline for conservative bloggers who cling to the notion that Obama's not really that popular and that Americans don't really approve of him. The far-right outpost Power Line takes great comfort from Rasmussen's latest findings. Here's Power Line breaking the good news to readers:

    Overall, Obama's approval rating of 55% is remarkably steady and not very high for a President still in his first three months in office. The significance of the current numbers is that the small bounce Obama got from his apology tour of Europe was transient.

    Keep in mind that Rasmussen consistently tracks Obama's approval rating well below most other pollsters. And also keep in mind that Rasmussen served as something of a GOP lifeline last fall because it was perhaps the only major polling firm that showed McCain with even the slightest chance at winning down the stretch. But none of that matters to Power Line because Rasmussen says Obama's approval rating is just 55%.

    What vital information does Power Line protect its readers from digesting? Just the recent CNN poll that showed Obama enjoying a 66% approval rating, and the CBS/NYT poll that also pegged Obama's rating at a sky-high 66%. Or that 71% trust Obama to fix the economy, according to Gallup. Or that CBS/NYT found 35% think America is heading in the right direction, which marks a three-year high.

    But for Power Line, none of that matters because Rasmussen says Obama is doing just OK. And if that poll it didn't exist, Power Line would likely invent it.