• CBS's Bill Plante and the White House press corps' double standard

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is sort of a P.S. to the recent look at how, "Right on cue, the White House press awakens from its Bush slumber."

    NPR did a straight-ahead report about all those suddenly skeptical and aggressively inquisitive reporters showing up to work at the Obama White House. (i.e. NPR didn't see the irony.) In particular, CBS's Bill Plante was suddenly adamant about the media's civic role:

    The whole idea of an independent press as guaranteed by the First Amendment is that it would serve as a watchdog and check on the power of government.

    Well, no argument there, Bill. But it sure would've been nice if Plante and company had mouthed the same watchdog declarations during George Bush's time in town. Instead, what was Plante's take on the GOP press operation, which immediately began limiting all kinds of information from the press and generally stiff-arming journalists on the White House beat?

    Back then Plante told the American Journalism Review he was "fascinated by how well they've been able to manage" the press. Not concern or scorn, but fascination. That sounds an awful lot like admiration to me.

    Going back further to Bill Clinton's White House arrival in 1993, why did Plante think the press was so tough on the new kids. Why did the new Democratic administration get hit with so much bad press? Here's how Plante saw it:

    There was too much going on and too much of what was going on was controversial. There was...endless meetings, late night pizza, people wearing jeans. You name it. So there was no shortage of stories out of here in January, February, March of 1993."

    To recap, Democrat Clinton got early bad press because, according to Plante, there was "too much going on" in his White House. (People were wearing jeans and eating pizza!). Republican Bush got early good press and Plante was "fascinated" by how the GOP managed the press. But now Democrat Obama suddenly needs to be held accountable by the watchdog press.

  • ACORN: Media coverage of stimulus plan has been nuts

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Over on Huffington Post, ACORN CEO and chief organizer Bertha Lewis has a great post up taking the media to task for advancing the demonstrably false right-wing talking point that under the President's economic stimulus plan ACORN would receive a jaw-dropping $4.19 billion.

    From her post (emphasis added):

    Sometimes, in my copious spare time, I like to peruse what various folks in the media, both new and traditional, are saying about ACORN. Sometimes this makes me happy, for example when I see Ben Ehrenreich's well done article on what people are doing to combat the foreclosure crisis at the heart of the economic meltdown. And sometimes it leaves me perplexed. Like now, watching the right-wing blogs and then right-wing traditional media outlets pick up the ridiculous talking points from the GOP leadership attacking Obama's stimulus package by claiming that it gives ACORN a $4.19 billion bailout.

    Puh-lease, people! When we heard that we fell over ourselves to see the language in the bill that would make us the richest organization of poor people in world history. We scrambled to set-up a direct deposit account. We wondered if check cashing outlets would take government checks. Turns out, though, that this $4 billion is pretty much like the last billion we read about in GOP press releases: a complete fabrication of overheated partisan fever dreams.

    At this point I'm not sure what is more amusing: watching respectable elected officials parrot zombie talking points from the party that brought us the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression or watching so-called journalists mimic the charges without asking for proof. Or calling us for our comment.

    So let's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place.

    Lewis is right – this dubious talking point has been all over the conservative and mainstream media. More from Media Matters here:

    Myths and falsehoods surrounding the economic recovery plan

    The Hill repeated false GOP claim that ACORN is a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package"

    Parroting GOP, Dittohead Limbaugh dutifully launches false ACORN attack

    SF Chronicle reported false claim that $4.19 billion of recovery plan "would go to" ACORN

  • Politico, please define "walked into"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    I want to write headlines for Politico. I really do. Because when you write headlines for Politico you can literally create any "news" story that catches your fancy. You're imagination is free to run wild and you don't have to be bothered with any of the traditional restraints (re: guidelines) that generations of journalists have adhered. Why? Because headlines don't have to match the story and they don't have reflect the actual content. Editors don't mind. In fact, they seem to encourage the misinformation.

    The latest comes in the form of this headline: "Obama walks into window," complete with the the caption "D'oh!" The item itself references a New York Daily News piece about the supposed blunder. Here's what the NYDN actually wrote [emphasis added]:

    On the way back to the Oval Office Tuesday, the President approached a paned window, instead of the actual door -- located a few feet to his right.

    Did Obama walk into a window? No. Does Politico let the facts get in the way of the story it wants to tell? Almost never.

  • What Digby said

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Why does the Village suddenly think GOP members of Congress hold all the answers to fixing our economic woes?

    Maybe one gasbag or spokesmodel could ask them why no matter whether the country is economically doing well or doing badly, their advice is always tax cuts. It's infuriating to see them swarm the television and have to watch the media listen to their "analysis" and swallow it whole. If I didn't follow politics closely, I would think these people are the ones who won the election.

  • Bernard Goldberg's "bias" against the facts

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    My first column for Media Matters as a senior fellow -- a review of Bernard Goldberg's latest book, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media. Enjoy, and if you like what you see, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

    That certainly didn't take long. Just shy of a week after Barack Obama took the oath of office, becoming America's 44th president, the nation's foremost right-wing publishing house has released a new tome by Bernard Goldberg that seeks to trash the supposedly liberal "mainstream media" for being in the tank for Obama.

    The three-ringed circus of liberal media bias cryptozoology is nothing new for Goldberg. He's been part of this factually challenged freak show for years. This isn't even his first book on the subject -- he wrote 2001's creatively titled, Bias.

    Goldberg's latest screed, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media (Regnery Publishing, January 2009), though with a significantly longer title, preaches the same decades-old gospel of bias, refusing at all costs to let facts get in the way -- truth be damned.


  • O'Reilly don't know much about (WWII) history

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    From MSNCB's Courtney Hazlett at The Scoop:

    Alba schools Fox's O'Reilly in WW II history

    Jessica Alba is setting the record straight: Sweden was neutral during World War II.

    Alba and Fox TV show host Bill O'Reilly traded punches last week after the presidential inauguration. After Alba told a Fox reporter that O'Reilly was "kind of an a-hole;" he retaliated by calling her a "pinhead" for telling a reporter to "be Sweden about it," assuming she meant Switzerland.

    "I want to clear some things up that have been bothering me lately," Alba blogged on MySpace Celebrity. "Last week, Mr. Bill O'Reilly and some really classy sites (i.e.TMZ) insinuated I was dumb by claiming Sweden was a neutral country. I appreciate the fact that he is a news anchor and that gossip sites are inundated with intelligent reporting, but seriously people... it's so sad to me that you think the only neutral country during WWII was Switzerland."

    Although Switzerland is more frequently cited as an example of neutrality, Sweden did indeed follow a policy of neutrality during World War II. History point to Alba.

    It is worth noting that Alba wasn't speaking with a Fox reporter – it was one of O'Reilly's ambush-obsessed-producers. Also worth noting, O'Reilly takes issue with Alba's naming of Sweden as a neutral country during WWII not with her contention that he is "kind of an a-hole."

  • Rush Limbaugh, honorary Republican Congressman

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Some observers seem to think that Barack Obama has "elevated" Rush Limbaugh to a position of leadership in the Republican Party. Nonsense. Republicans did that long ago.

    It was the House Republicans who made Limbaugh an honorary member of their caucus and gave him credit for the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994.

    It was the leaders of the conservative movement who embraced Limbaugh's far-right agenda, marginalizing themselves with ill-considered and unpopular - though Rush-approved - stances on nearly every significant issue that has come up over the past two decades.

    It was Dick Cheney and other prominent Republicans who chose to enhance Limbaugh's stature by appearing regularly on his radio program.

    Limbaugh's place at the center of the conservative movement - though not of the population at large -- is so well-established, even Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz describes him as a "mainstream conservative."

    Barack Obama didn't elevate Rush Limbaugh to a position of leadership of the GOP and the conservative movement. Limbaugh has held that position for nearly two decades - and he has done so because his fellow conservative leaders share his far-right views and his rabid distaste for fact and reason. Their embrace of Limbaugh and his failed ideology has had disastrous consequences first for the nation and then for the conservative movement. Some of those conservatives may now have the good sense to be embarrassed by their association with Limbaugh, but until they actually change their policy positions and their approach to politics, he will remain an icon of their failures and excesses.

  • More scintilating Clinton $ reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It just never ends, does it? At first, the whole soggy story revolved around the fact that foreign governments or leaders had donated money to Clinton's Foundation and that was an awful, terrible thing because with Hillary Clinton becoming SOS she might hand over America's foreign policy to the highest bidder. (Plus, how dare foreign dignitaries give money to a foundation that, among other things, helps poor people around the world.)

    Well, despite Christopher Hitchen's Clinton-hating heavy breathing, that Hillary's-going--to-be-sold-to-the-highest-bidder storyline (nothing sexist there, right?) hasn't really gone anywhere. But fear not, the AP has a new Clinton $ angle.

    Headline: "Bill Clinton made millions from foreign sources"


    Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    More foreign funny business, right? At this point, after reading these never-ending stories I actually wish somebody would uncover some actual news, even if it was hugely embarrassing to the Clintons. But that somebody aint the AP. The entire story's about how Bill Clinton was paid speaking fees by business located outside the U.S. That's the "foreign sources." A Canadian publisher. A German entertainment company. etc.

    Bill Clinton is one of the most famous people in the world and businesses headquartered outside of the U.S. have paid him a lot to hear him speak.

    Thanks for the news flash, AP.

    UPDATE: From Politico, which, of course, is very excited about the latest Clinton $ news [emphasis added]:

    Former President Clinton's globetrotting speaking tours and charitable activities were considered the major impediment to his wife's confirmation

    Clinton, of course, was easily confirmed.

  • Because there are no ambitious male politicians, right?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Looks like the media's soft spot for sexism when covering women in politics was not a 2008-only deal. (We didn't really think it would be.)

    Last week, the press brought back the unlikeable and overly ambitious Tracy Flick character, from the film Election, to describe Kirsten Gilibrand, the new senator from New York. Flick was also used last year to make fun of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

    Meanwhile, this week Chris Matthews revealed his latest bout of insight while discussing the debated stimulus package, and why any money set aside for family planning would be pointless. Wrote Melissa McEwan after watching the Hardball host:

    It's like a crêpe of misogyny, double the deliciousness, with a flaky pancake of ignorance wrapped around a gooey inside of unapologetic enmity.