• The mess Little Green Footballs now has to mop up

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Because when you unleash the loons, you never know where they're going to run.

    Over the years, the warblogging site LGF has led an online jihad against war zone journalists and specifically Middle Eastern stringers working for wire services, claiming they concoct the news--they fabricate violence--in order to spread terrorist propaganda. That local Arab or Muslim journalists are incapable of telling the truth about breaking news and that every dispatch they write, especially if it's for the AP, and every photo they file, especially if its for Reuters, must be dissected and mulled over and questioned by right-wing bloggers, lots of whom have no expertise in journalism.

    This whole deranged online movement provides all sorts of comfort for war-loving bloggers as it allows them to attack and demean journalists and Muslims/Arabs at the same time.

    The phony crusade has been on display since the launch of the Gaza incursion, as supposedly sharp-eyed bloggers, thousands of miles away from the action, stand vigil, looking to save the world from fabricated reports of violence. This week the swarm descended and casually accused a journalist of photoshopping a picture from Gaza. Of just making stuff up. Of taking photos of explosions and then digitally doctoring them and then sending them out on the wire service.

    Why? Because the media are the enemy. Because that's what Arab/Muslims stringers do. They quote phony Baghdad police chiefs like Jamil Hussein in order to spread insurgent lies. Actually, on second thought, warbloggers would prefer you leave that embarrassing episode alone. (Still waiting for a collective warblogging apology/acknowledgment/retraction on that one.)

    Anyway, here's the Gaza photo that set warbloggers all atwitter:

    The debris is too big! The mountains look out of place. The photo caption seemed weird. Blah, blah, blah.

    Except here's a photo of the exact same explosion from another angle:

    So eventually LGF had to call off the hounds and assure everyone that this photo had not been photoshopped, but that warbloggers still needed to scan wire photos and be on the look up for manufactured images of Middle Eastern violence.

    Because, y'know, there so little actual violence in the region these days, journalists have to stage it and make it up.

    UPDATE: LGF has already launched another media-hating crusade regarding footage aired by CNN from inside Gaza. It was a report featuring a freelance cameraman whose brother and cousin were killed in a rocket attack. The warbloggers are in DEFCON 5 mode because--get this--an anonymous LGF reader, who claimed to be a doctor, announced that a hospital scene from Gaza captured in the report was clearly staged because when a doctor on film performed CPR on a victim, it just looked totally weird.

    Normal people, please take two steps back for context: Nearly 800 people have been killed in Gaza the last two weeks, yet warbloggers are focused on launching a anti-media jihad based on the fact that an anonymous reader announced a single scene from a Gaza hospital looked strange.

    Behold the right-wing blogosphere.

    And just out of curiosity, are there any conservative adults who are the slightest bit concerned about what warbloggers are doing to the online movement? Or are they okay with having these folks running the show?

  • Headline of the week

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    "Al Franken stole the election? Prove it or shut up"

    It's from Joe Conason's piece in Salon:

    These [right-wing] media figures, some of whom occasionally pretend to be journalists, have spewed such accusations repeatedly, without offering any proof whatsoever -- in plain contradiction of the available facts. Not only is there no evidence that Franken or his campaign "cheated" in any way during the election or the recount, but there is ample reason to believe that the entire process was fair, balanced and free from partisan taint.

  • WaPo editorial rebuts itself so we don't have to

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Under the suggestive headline "Quid Pro Clinton?" today's Washington Post gravely editorializes about former President Clinton's fundraising on behalf of his charitable foundation:

    What has always been worrisome is that such prodigious fundraising could set up the potential of someone looking to curry favor with Ms. Clinton by making a sizable donation to Mr. Clinton's organization. Even the appearance of a conflict could call into question the motives of both Clintons and the donor.

    A prime example emerged this week as a result of Mr. Clinton disclosing his contributors as part of an agreement with Mr. Obama that smoothed Ms. Clinton's nomination.

    Sounds ominous, doesn't it?

    But in describing the "prime example," the Post essentially rebuts itself, saving us the trouble:

    The New York Times reported Sunday that upstate New York developer Robert J. Congel gave $100,000 to Mr. Clinton's foundation in November 2004, one month after enactment of a law, first supported by Ms. Clinton in 2000, that gave Mr. Congel access to tax-exempt "green bonds" to build the Destiny USA shopping complex in Syracuse. Nine months later Ms. Clinton secured $5 million in funding for road construction at the complex. We hasten to point out that Ms. Clinton was joined by other members of the New York delegation in urging passage of both bills, including the state's senior senator, Charles E. Schumer (D). [Emphasis added]

    Got that? Hillary Clinton has supported a law giving Congel access to bonds to build a shopping complex in Syracuse since 2000. Other members of the New York delegation joined her in supporting the the complex. In 2004 -- four years after Clinton began supporting the law -- Congel gave $100,000 to Bill Clinton's foundation.

    And in that, the Washington Post sees a "prime example" of the "appearance of a conflict" that could call both Clintons' motives into question.

    The Post would have us believe that in 2000, Hillary Clinton supported a law in hopes that four years later a developer would make a contribution to her husband's foundation that would account for about two one-hundredths of one percent of the foundation's total fundraising. If that's a quid pro quo, it's a spectacularly unambitious one.

    "While Mr. Clinton's fundraising has been an appearance of a conflict waiting to happen with his wife a senator, it will only get worse and more troublesome once Ms. Clinton is confirmed as secretary of state," the Post concludes. This, at least, is hard to argue with: If the Congel donation is the most troublesome thing the Post can find, it's certainly hard to imagine the situation getting less troublesome.

    UPDATE: According to this New York Times article by Charlie Savage, Clinton did not support the "green bonds" in 2000, she supported "other tax breaks for a Carousel mall expansion to create jobs" that year. That doesn't change the point of this post; the Washington Post thinks Clinton supported the green bonds in 2000, and that constitutes a conflict because of Congel's contribution four years later.

  • Does the NYT's Jill Abramson understand how journalism is supposed to work?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Or does she consider playing dumb to be part of her job description as M.E. of the Times? I ask because during a recent Q&A with a reader, Abramson raised doubts about both.

    The question came from a reader still upset about the Times' Rush Limbaugh valentine written by a Limbaugh dittohead and published on the cover of the Sunday Times magazine last summer. The reader noted:

    I find it interesting that there is very little on-going criticism of Rush, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and people like this. I cannot figure out why people who have such a following seem to be isolated from criticism except from such Web sites as Media Matters...Rush is left off the hook because he is "an entertainer." Since when don't entertainers have the tell the truth?

    Abramson's utterly predictable, CYA response:

    There seems a suggestion behind your question that the job of The Times is to target for attack certain figures because of their ideology and prominence. The role of a great news organization isn't to make itself a combantant in the ongoing political food fights that unfold each night on cable and elswewhere. Our Rush Limbaugh magazine cover story was a rich, nuanced portrait of someone whose show has made him a large force over time at the interesection of news, politics, business and entertainment. You may have found it too kind because you would have preferred to read a partisan hatchet job. You won't find those in The New York Times.

    Read that a couple times to let the significance sink it. The Times, according to Abramson, has no responsibliity whatsoever in reporting critically, or even accurately, on hate speech merchants like Rush Limbaugh, even when the Times devotes 7,700 words to profiling them in the Times magazine. In fact, the Times thought it was a smart idea to hire a devoted fan to profile Limbaugh without ever revealing to readers the writer's open bias in favor of Limbaugh.

    Consequently the Times' Limbuagh profile was a laughing stock (see James Wolcott).

    Here's the point I made last year:

    Does every Limbaugh profile need to be a hit piece? Of course not. Should every serious Limbaugh profile at least try to convey to readers what's so controversial about the host and what he says on his radio program? Of course. And that's where the Times, rather obliviously, took the pratfall with its Limbaugh article.

    I understand that Beltway media players routinely play nice with Limbaugh and his fringe brand of conservatism. Spooked by his liberal-bias charges, the mainstream press corps has for years treated Limbaugh with undeserved respect, worked overtime to soften his radical edges, and presented him as simply a partisan pundit.

    The lengthy Times profile took that trend to a whole new level, because unlike most previous half-hearted attempts to outline, in very general ways, what Limbaugh says and explain why he's controversial, the Times clearly never had any intention of shedding even the dimmest light on the content of Limbaugh's program. Instead, it hired a conservative writer to wistfully dismiss Limbaugh's critics in two or three sentences. And in exchange for playing dumb, the Times was granted unusual access to the talk-show host.

    That kind of obvious quid pro quo is the type of thing that's practiced on a daily basis at celebrity magazines, where editors angle for access in exchange for puff pieces. It's not journalism, and it ought to be beneath the Times.

    The Times has never addressed that charge. And based on Abramson's cavalier Q&A response, it never intends to. The Times would rather play nice with Rush Limbaugh than be honest with its readers.

  • O'Reilly, Malkin, and Hume sweep Olbermann's "Worst Person" segment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
  • When will Tim Graham denounce CBS Radio for interviewing Cheney?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Tim Graham is upset that NPR hosted a guest who, according to Graham, "denounced Nelson Mandela."

    While I was reading Graham's complaint, MSNBC was playing a clip of a CBS Radio interview with Dick Cheney.

    The same Dick Cheney who, as a member of Congress, voted against a resolution calling for Nelson Mandela's release from prison. Running for Vice President in 2000, Cheney dismissed questions about the vote as "trivia," then insisted: "I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.''

    I'm looking forward to Tim Graham's criticism of CBS Radio for hosting a guest who voted against freeing Nelson Mandela from prison.

  • Dobbs: "[G]et over your bad selves again, Media Matters"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
  • Chuck Todd's college basketball misinformation

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    A little sports misinformation from MSNBC this afternoon, where NBC political director/White House correspondent Chuck Todd falsely besmirched Georgetown University's basketball team, as Georgetown grad Norah O'Donnell cried foul - but didn't correct Todd's glaring falsehood.

    Todd: "Just so you know, this is really about going to places that have true basketball power, like a George Mason, that have been to a final four recently. Not like these Georgetowns or Dukes; they don't go to Final Fours any more."

    O'Donnell: "We don't need this kind of trash talk, because I am actually a Hoya. Cheap shot."

    Cheap, indeed. And false.

    George Mason made the Final Four in 2006. Georgetown last made the Final Four in 2007.

    Chuck Todd attended George Washington, which is still seeking its first Final Four appearance.

    (Not conservative misinformation: just a point of personal privilege.)

  • But we thought Hollywood hated America

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Tough timing for Andrew Breitbart, the Hollywood conservative who just this week launched his culture and movie-bashing group blog, Big Hollywood, which is supposed to highlight how evil and liberal and out of touch the movie studios are, and how they're ruining our culture by poisoning it with liberal propaganda. (There, I just saved you the need of ever having to read the blog!)

    Tough timing for Breitbart because I just read that HBO in February will be airing Taking Chance, an original movie staring Kevin Becon as a United State Marine officer who transports the remains of a soldier, Chance Phelps, killed outside of Baghdad in 2004. The heart wrenching Chance story was first told on the right-wing blog, BlackFive. See the Taking Chance trailer here. I got chills just watching it and I'll be sure to tune in February 21.

    But the deeply evocative project, about honor and service and America, runs completely counter to Big Hollywood's name calling mantra about how liberal movie makers seek to undermine the military.

    So Big Hollywood, how do you explain Taking Chance?