Blog

  • Lying about Joe Biden's "lie"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Right-wing bloggers claimed Biden simply made up his claim that Louisiana was losing 400 jobs a day. Biden was poking Gov. Jindal who suggests he might not take the stimulus money for his state of Louisiana.

    With that the right-wing bloggers came crashing down on Biden, calling him an "idiot," an "IDIOT," and "Vice Liar." (Get it?) The 400 figure was pure fiction.

    Blogger Dan Kennedy looks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Data and says Biden got it right. And Think Progress confirms that Louisiana had 430 new unemployed people every day during the month of December.

  • Coulter suggests Pelosi is "mentally retarded"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From Coulter's February 25 column:

    As Obama prepared to deliver his address to Congress on Tuesday, the Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner, Fox News' Bret Baier and Charles Krauthammer all gushed that history was being made as the first African-American president appeared before Congress. Even Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom I suppose I should note was the first Indian-American to give the Republican response to a president's speech, began with an encomium to the first black president. (Wasn't Bobby great in "Slumdog Millionaire"?) Are we going to have to hear about this for the next four years? Obama is becoming the Cal Ripken Jr. of presidents, making history every time he suits up for a game. Recently, Obama also became the first African-American president to order a ham sandwich late at night from the White House kitchen! That's going to get old pretty quick. But as long as the nation is obsessed with historic milestones, is no one going to remark on what a great country it is where a mentally retarded woman can become speaker of the house?

    Previously highlighted by Matthew Yglesias.

  • DeLay: To regain power, conservatives need "communications organizations that can... match Media Matters"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    As first reported by TPM Media.

    MATT COOPER (Talking Points Memo): Congressman, it's good to see you. What do conservatives need to do to get back in power?

    FORMER HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DeLAY (R-TX): Well, first of all, we need leadership that understands that we've got to take this energy that President Obama is creating in the conservative movement and come together and build organizations that can drive a conservative message. We need a communications organizations [sic] that can, again, match Media Matters and Media Fund and the left-wing national media. We need coordination. Conservatives don't get it. We need to be working together and leverage not only our organizations but leverage our money. We need our donors to coordinate their giving and only give to projects that are effective. And we need to understand what the left is doing.

    COOPER: Right.

    DeLAY: People aren't even looking at what the left is doing. They've built the most powerful political coalition I've ever seen in my lifetime, and we're not anywhere near as good as they are. And we've got to rebuild our movement.

    COOPER: And how's your work on CCM [Coalition for a Conservative Majority] going?

    DeLAY: Well, we're struggling like everybody else, but if we can get our donors back again, we'll be out there just kicking butt and taking names.

    COOPER: I hear you. All right, thanks.

  • You mean Jindal exaggerated?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    About the tall Katrina tale he told on national TV Tuesday night?

    Well, then his aspiring national political career is over, right? Because the Beltway press made it quite plain while covering Al Gore's 2000 candidacy that exaggerating was a disqualifying offense for the White House. That exaggerating revealed a disturbing character defect, and that people prone to exaggeration were not only self-aggrandizing creeps, but could not be trusted to be POTUS. Period.

    Sorry, Gov. Jindal. The press was quite clear about that fact. Your only hope is that the press will adopt a completely separate standard for judging Republican and Democrat aspirants. And that the media's previously unwavering obsession with exaggerations will fail to materialize this time around.

    And c'mon, what are the odds that will happen?

  • Politico, please define "class warfare"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Responsible journalists use that loaded phrase with care. But we're talking about Politico, so today we get this ugly effort by Jeanne Cummings:

    "Class warfare returns to Washington"

    Wow, Obama, not known for his angry rhetoric--in fact, he's know for the opposite--has brought class warfare back to the Beltway? Here's how Politico defends using the nasty phrase:

    And right on cue, Obama defended his $1.3 trillion in tax hikes over 10 years with a little class warfare.

    "I know that this will not always sit well with the special interests and their lobbyists here in Washington, who think our budget and tax system is just fine as it is. No wonder — it works for them," the president said. "I work for the American people, and I'm determined to bring the change that the people voted for last November."

    You can read that passage twice or three times or ten times and you're not going to find any "class warfare." (Obama very gently tweaked "special interests and their lobbyists." That aint class warfare folks.) My hunch is Cummings and her editors knew that but didn't really care because they were wed to the phrase and they were wed to the misleading headline, which has become a sad hallmark at Politico.

  • RE: Fred Hiatt

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Speaking of Fred Hiatt's absurd claim that people who don't like George Will spreading global warming misinformation should "debate" him, rather than expect the Post to run a correction ...

    Yesterday's Washington Post featured op-eds by Henry Kissinger, David Broder, Bill Kristol, David Ignatius, and George Will. Today's brings op-eds from George Will, Michael Gerson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Kinsley, and Eugene Robinson.

    That's ten columns total. One is by a liberal (Robinson), one by a contrarian who may lean left (Kinsley), two by centrist Villagers (Broder and Ignatius - and remember, Village centrists are typically to the right of the actual center.) And six are by staunch conservatives - Will (twice), Krauthammer, former Nixon aide Kissinger, former Bush I aide Kristol, and former Bush II aide Gerson.

    Now, who is in charge of the Post's op-ed page? Fred Hiatt. If Fred Hiatt wants to pretend that critics of Will's falsehoods are welcome to debate Will, Fred Hiatt can start by regularly running op-eds by (more honest) liberal equivalents of Will, Krauthammer and Gerson. And no, Richard Cohen does not count.

  • Newsbusters' Huston shoots blanks at MSNBC

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Warner Todd Huston is upset that in a headline for an article about a triple homicide, MSNBC included the fact that the homicide was committed using an assault rifle. This, Huston insists, demonstrates "some old fashioned bias" on MSNBC's part; an attempt to "push its own anti-'assault rifle' meme."

    Here's Huston:

    MSNBC's version of the story clumsily screams "Man charged in assault rifle killings of 3 teens" over the top of its AP wire feed. Yet, while every story in the news and certainly every AP story mentions that the killer used an "assault rifle," only MSNBC put the words in the headline. This befits MSNBC's anti-gun agenda, presumably.

    By contrast, Huston offers examples of what he apparently views as good, unbiased headlines:

    Prosecutors: Man charged with murder in shootings of 3 teens on Chicago's South Side

    Now, if mentioning in the headline that the crime was committed using an assault rifle constitutes an effort to push an "anti-gun agenda" ... well ... wouldn't mentioning in the headline that the killings occurred by "shootings" do much the same thing? Does Huston think people are going to read headlines that refer to "shootings" and assume that they were the work of a criminal with a slingshot? A crossbow?

    But Huston can't criticize those headlines, though they also make clear that a gun was used. He can't do it because he needs something to contrast favorably with the MSNBC headline; the contrast is his evidence of "bias":

    MSNBC took the occasion of a triple homicide on Chicago's south side to push its own anti-"assault rifle" meme on February 27 by including the words "assault rifle" in the headline of its story on the incident. No other media source, however, took this unusual step. So, here we have some old fashioned bias by MSNBC.

    ...

    However, no other story has "assault rifle" in the headline but MSNBC.

    ...

    it is interesting that MSNBC elected to put the term in its headline, isn't it? It is telling that no other news source did so.

    Of course, you could just as easily say that news organizations that didn't note the use of an assault rifle demonstrated pro-assault weapon bias, and that the fact that MSNBC did include that detail confirms that the other news organizations are biased. See how easy it is to find bias the Newsbusters way?

    Huston concludes with a cheap shot at MSNBC:

    I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that the gun got top billing on MSNBC! Perhaps the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds of the headline writers at the cable TV newser?

    This is nothing more than a dishonest and dishonorable attempt to use the deaths of three teens in order to make MSNBC look bad.

    See, all of the headlines Huston cites in his diatribe - the MSNBC headline and the headlines he approves of - refer to the victims in much the same way. MSNBC mentions "3 teens"; the other two refer to "Chicago teens" and "3 teens." There is no difference between the "billing" MSNBC gives the victims and the "billing" given them by the headlines Huston approves of. Yet Huston falsely claims "the victims don't figure so prominently in the minds" of MSNBC headline writers.

    I don't know about you, but were I a family member of one of the three killed I might be a tad offended that Warner Todd Huston would cynically use my relative's death to score baseless political points against MSNBC.

  • WashPost's Fred Hiatt plays dumb for George Will

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Journalism is not complicated. Honest. But sometimes people practicing it pretend that it is. They pretend that it's very complicated and that every fact has nine different sides and it's impossible--impossible--to figure out what the truth really is. And because it's impossible, who's to say who's right and who's wrong. Who's to say what's correct and what's incorrect. It's all open for debate.

    The Post's Fred Hiatt, busy contorting himself into a pretzel, is playing that (dumb) game with regards to George Will, the increasingly heavy anchor that the columnist has become around the daily's neck. Will and the Post refuse to apologize, or in newspaper terms they refuse to issue a correction, despite the fact that Will's now infamous column last week was built around falsehoods about global warming. But rather than trying to figure out how to fix the problem, Hiatt and Will have apparently been brainstorming on how not to accept responsibility.

    The Post and Will are above corrections because they've pored over the available information and they can spot a ray of daylight where they can claim Will was not categorically wrong in his global warming claim. And if there is a daylight toward deniability, they're going to choose that over transparency, and honesty, with their readers.

    Hiatt insists Will's entitled to his opinion about the global warming facts because those facts are just too complicated--too unknowable--and who the hell are readers to claim otherwise? Hiatt told CJR:

    If you want to start telling me that columnists can't make inferences which you disagree with—and, you know, they want to run a campaign online to pressure newspapers into suppressing minority views on this subject—I think that's really inappropriate. It may well be that he is drawing inferences from data that most scientists reject — so, you know, fine, I welcome anyone to make that point. But don't make it by suggesting that George Will shouldn't be allowed to make the contrary point. Debate him.

    That sound you hear is Hiatt digging the Post an even deeper and more embarrassing hole.

    I have two favorite parts. The first was Hiatt's insistence that Will has every right to draw inference--to make claims of fact in his column--based on data that most scientists reject. Good Lord, what is Will not allowed to do in a Post column? And does the Op-Ed page maintain any guidelines?

    And second, I chuckled when Hiatt insisted that if people disagree with Will's published falsehoods, they shouldn't try to pressure the paper to publish corrections, they should, y'know, "debate him." Right, because Will and Post editors have been so open and willing to address--to debate--the controversy.

    Hiatt and Post are hunkered down in serious denial mode. And that's when journalism becomes unnecessarily complicated.

    P.S. When is the Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz, going to weigh in on this growing press controversy in the pages of the newspaper, even if it does feature a star Post columnist?

  • WCBS claims Clinton is "hammering" Israel; offers no evidence

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Drudge is promoting a WCBS report that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "hammering Israel" -- but the report provides no evidence that Clinton is actually doing so.

    WCBS:

    In a swift about face from her views as New York's senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now hammering Israel over its treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

    No example of "hammering" is given. No quote, no paraphrase, nothing.

    WCBS:

    On Thursday, as Secretary of State she had yet another about face in the form of angry messages demanding Israel speed up aid to Gaza. Jewish leaders are furious.

    Again: no example, no quote, nothing to support either the accusation that Clinton "had yet another about face" or that she delivered "angry messages."

    WCBS:

    Clinton's decision to hammer Israel comes as the Clintons and President Barack Obama are planning to give the Palestinians $900 million toward the rebuilding of Gaza in the wake of the Israeli offensive that was sparked by Hamas rocket fire.

    But still no evidence that Clinton has decided to "hammer Israel."

    WCBS:

    For some, Clinton's change of position is upsetting.

    That's the third reference to Clinton changing her position -- but absolutely no details are given about what the supposed change is.

    The entire report, ostensibly about Clinton "hammering Israel" in a "swift about face" includes only the following quotes from Clinton:

    "I'm a very strong supporter of Israel." [This is from 2000]

    "We are working across the government to see what our approach will be."

    That's it. That's the entire basis for an inflammatory report claiming Clinton is changing her position and attacking Israel.

    UPDATE: While we don't know what WCBS is referring to when it claims Clinton is "hammering" Israel -- and we suspect WCBS doesn't, either -- we do know what she said on February 3:

    We are looking to work with all of the parties to try to help them make progress toward a negotiated agreement that would end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, create an independent and viable Palestinian state in both the West Bank and Gaza, and provide Israel with the peace and security that it has sought.

    ...

    [W]e have a very clear policy toward Hamas, and Hamas knows the conditions that have been set forth. They must renounce violence. They must recognize Israel. And they must agree to abide by prior agreements that were entered into by the Palestinian Authority.

  • WaPo goes all in

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Washington Post lost $192 million last year. This is not a newspaper that can afford to alienate its readership.

    And yet, the Post is going all-in on George Will's credibility.

    For the past week, Will and the Post have faced sustained criticism over dubious claims Will made about global warming - and over a pattern of such claims from both Will and the Post.

    Earlier today, Media Matters obtained an advance copy of Will's next column, in which Will doubles-down on his previous global warming misinformation. As Media Matters explained:

    In his new column, Will falsely claims that in his February 15 column, he "accurately reported" on the contents of an Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC) document when, in fact, the document he cited rebutted the very argument he was making. The ACRC document that Will relied on actually stated that the sea ice data are consistent with the outcomes projected by climate-change models. In the words of TPM Muckraker's Zachary Roth, Will's new column "amounts to a stubborn defense of the amazing global warming denialist column he published earlier this month, that was ripped apart by just about everyone and their mother."

    Then Columbia Journalism Review weighed in with a piece posted this evening, featuring quotes from Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt. Hiatt defends Will's previous column:

    "If you want to start telling me that columnists can't make inferences which you disagree with-and, you know, they want to run a campaign online to pressure newspapers into suppressing minority views on this subject-I think that's really inappropriate. It may well be that he is drawing inferences from data that most scientists reject - so, you know, fine, I welcome anyone to make that point. But don't make it by suggesting that George Will shouldn't be allowed to make the contrary point. Debate him."

    But this controversy is not about "inferences" by Will with which others "disagree." It is about Will spreading falsehoods. And it is about the Washington Post standing by those falsehoods - a rather large gamble for a newspaper that cannot afford to lose readers or credibility.

    That's a lot riding on someone with Will's track record.