Blog | Page 2427 | Media Matters for America


  • Barack Obama likes Sting, so Tim Graham questions his patriotism

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Newsbusters' Tim Graham thinks Barack Obama is insufficiently patriotic and pro-Marine. Why? Because the president likes Cole Porter.

    Responding to a CBS report that Obama's appearances have featured a pianist performing Porter's "Night and Day" and Sting's "Desert Rose" rather than sticking to "Hail to the Chief," Graham writes:

    To many Americans, this excessive informality suggests a real distaste for "official" or "patriotic" music, not to mention the Marine band that plays it.

    Graham didn't provide any quotes or citations to support his contention that "many Americans" think this, so we can only assume he was projecting. In any case, it's an ugly smear to say that Obama has "a real distaste" for the Marine band simply because he enjoys piano renditions of Cole Porter tunes.

  • The absurdity of the Right's hyperventilation over Stephanopoulos-Emanuel-Begala-Carville phone calls

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Some conservatives are upset about the fact that longtime friends and former colleagues George Stephanopoulos, Rahm Emanuel, Paul Begala, and James Carville regularly talk to each other.

    Emanuel is the White House chief of staff, which supposedly means that Stephanopoulos, who works at ABC, and Begala and Carville, who are affiliated with CNN, cannot be objective in talking about the Obama administration. Or something. Greg Sargent and Steve Benen explain.

    Honestly, this is all a bunch of nonsense. Two quick points:

    First - for better or worse - friendships between journalists and the politicos they cover are nothing new. Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer is friends with George W. Bush. Conservatives didn't say he should be fired over that friendship - nor were they bothered when Schieffer moderated a presidential debate between Bush and John Kerry. Basically, for nearly any major political figure you can name - Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal - there will be some journalists with whom they have friendships.

    Second, the idea that Stephanopoulos will be in the tank for Obama or other Democrats because he talks to Rahm Emanuel ignores history. The four men talked regularly in 1998, too, when Emanuel and Begala worked in Bill Clinton's White House - but that didn't stop Stephanopoulos from being among the first people to speculate that Clinton might be impeached over the Monica Lewinsky matter. Stephanopoulos brought up the possibility on television early in the morning on the day the story broke.

  • Carville gives Rush Limbaugh a history lesson

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    James Carville, former Clinton advisor and current CNN Contributor, is up today with an op-ed that eviscerates the laughable economic recovery plan offered up by radio host Rush Limbaugh in last week's Wall Street Journal. In particular, Carville notes:

    Limbaugh proposes that because the Democrats got roughly 54 percent of the votes to the Republicans' 46 percent, the stimulus package should be allocated along his definition of ideological lines, i.e. 54 percent towards infrastructure improvement and 46 percent toward tax breaks for Limbaugh and his friends.

    Get that? Now that Democrats are in power, they should only get to enact the same percentage of their agenda as they won in the popular vote. Isn't Rush generous? As Carville points out, Limbaugh wasn't nearly as generous when Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000.

    Limbaugh must have called for the incoming Bush administration to allocate ideas based on the proportion of election returns. I'm sure President Bush and the Republicans in Congress graciously accepted their 49.5 percent share of everything. (Note: We would be much better off right now had this actually happened.)

    With 50 percent of the federal government during President Bush's term, Democrats might have reduced the deficit (a truly Clintonista idea). Wall Street might have been more heavily regulated and K Street's lobbyists might not have been running the Capitol. Democrats might have invested money into infrastructure improvements so that bridges didn't collapse or entire cities flood.

    Does it surprise anyone that Limbaugh would offer up something so breathtakingly disingenuous?

  • Reading Nancy Pelosi's supposedly racist mind

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Conservative columnist Ruben Navarrette pulls a neat trick over at Dishing out the latest, warmed-over GOP talking points about Obama's proposed stimulus package, the RNC-friendly writer claims to be able to read minds. Specifically, he can read the mind of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who last week was at the center of a mini-controversy regarding the proposed expansion of Medicaid funding for family planning services.

    Navarrette though, was able to spot very nasty, vile and racist undertones to Pelosi's comments:

    When you make the argument that contraception is a cost-saving measure for state and federal government, some might think what you're implying is that the babies who would otherwise have been born were destined to become dependent on welfare and other public services. And for those who think wrongly that welfare dependents only come in two colors -- black and brown -- it's easy to see which births need to be controlled. That's how you connect the dots. Now, maybe that isn't where Pelosi was headed with her comments. It doesn't matter.

    Did you follow? According to Navarrette, "some might think" that Pelosi was implying that "black and brown" babies are a bad thing. And that if you "connect the dots," that's where Pelosi's comments were "headed."

    But did Pelosi ever say or even imply such a ugly thing? According to Navarrette, "It doesn't matter." He's going to smear her nonetheless.

  • Fox News goes after Google's "bias" – seriously

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Technology must have it in for conservatives. Not too long ago those on the right launched their own video sharing service because they claimed YouTube had a liberal bias.

    Well, conservatives are back with the crazy. As News Hounds notes:

    Those "fair and balanced" folks at FOX News are ever on the lookout for bias - everywhere but in their own backyard, of course. Their latest candidate for an it's-just-so-unfair-for-conservatives whine? Google, because the search engine fixed a President Obama "Google bomb" faster than it fixed one about President Bush. Never mind that's own article reported that Google developed the fix in 2007, four years after the Bush Google bomb cited for comparison. Maybe waiting on the fix was part of the liberal plot, too.

    The "Google bomb" in question is "miserable failure." According to, in 2003, anti-Bush web activists had numerous websites link the phrase "miserable failure" to the White House biography of then-President George W. Bush. Afterward, Googling the phrase "miserable failure" brought Bush's biography to the top of the results list until Google fixed the problem in 2007. Now that Barack Obama is in office, the same Google bomb has been lobbed at him. But Google has already fixed it.


    The article, titled Unlike Bush's 'Google Bomb,' Google Quickly Defuses Obama's begins:

    It took four years for Google to address the "Google bomb" that was lobbed at former President Bush.

    But it took the Internet behemoth only a few days to defuse the same attack on President Obama.

    Four years versus a few days ... Some Googlers are asking why.

    As News Hounds points out, Fox News' own report notes that Google had not yet developed an algorithm that kills Google bombs until 2007 – so obviously, now that Google has a remedy at their disposal they use it. Wow, that's some liberal bias!

  • The LA Times takes a cheap shot at Dr. Jill Biden.

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In an article portraying Jill Biden - who is teaching at a community college in Virginia, though she could doubtless land a gig at Georgetown or GW if she chose - as pompous, the Los Angeles Times falsely suggests her use of the title "Doctor" is fraudulent.

    Under the sub-head "The vice president's wife holds a doctorate in English -- but she likes to use the prefix that most people reserve for medical doctors," the Times explains:

    In 2007, at 55, Jill Biden did earn a doctorate -- in education, from the University of Delaware. Since then, in campaign news releases and now in White House announcements, she is "Dr. Jill Biden." This strikes some people as perfectly appropriate and others as slightly pompous, a quality often ascribed to her voluble husband.

    Who are these "others" who find Jill Biden "slightly pompous"? The Los Angeles Times won't say.

    The paper described St. Louis University professor Joel Goldstein as seeming "mildly amused" when told Biden likes to be called "Dr" - but it quoted him saying "Occasionally someone will call me 'doctor,' and when that happens my wife makes fun of me a little bit. But nobody thought it was pretentious to call Henry Kissinger 'Dr. Kissinger.'"

    Hmmm... that seems to undermine the idea that Biden is being "pompous." Indeed, it suggests that the LA Times is mocking an accomplished woman for using a title that is frequently used, without controversy, by accomplished men.

    Next, the Times turns to "Amy Sullivan, a religion writer for Time magazine" for comment. But Sullivan doesn't really support the Times' claim that Biden is "slightly pompous," either - she is quoted saying "Ordinarily when someone goes by doctor and they are a PhD, not an MD, I find it a little bit obnoxious. But it makes me smile because it's a reminder that she's her own person. She wasn't there as an appendage; she was there as a professional in her own right."

    Then the Times quoted the head of the Washington Post's copy desk saying his newspaper only refers to medical doctors as "doctor." But he doesn't criticize Biden or call her pompous, either. Finally, the Times quoted a USC professor who made the point that women academics are often addressed by their first name while male colleagues are called doctor. Again, this is not a quote that supports the Times' suggestion that Biden is "pompous" - instead, it is another reminder that we probably wouldn't see such an article about Dr. Henry Kissinger.

    It gets worse.

    In the middle of an article suggesting that Jill Biden is wrong to refer to herself as "doctor," the Times offers this passage:

    Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected to travel widely in his new job. But he may need to tone down the Dr. Jill Biden stories, should he find himself in Germany with his wife.

    Last year, according to the Post, at least seven Americans (with degrees from places like Cornell and Caltech) were investigated for the crime of "title fraud" for calling themselves doctor on business cards, resumes and websites. Only people who have earned advanced degrees in Germany or other European Union countries may legally call themselves that.

    German investigations of "title fraud" don't have anything to do with Jill Biden. Nobody - nobody except the LA Times, that is - is suggesting that Jill Biden is guilty of "fraud." And Germany doesn't prohibit non-medical doctors from using the title doctor; it prohibits people who didn't earn their doctorate in Germany or the EU to call themselves doctor. Again: this has absolutely nothing to do with Jill Biden. It's just a cheap shot; a clumsy effort to suggest there is something fraudulent about her use of the title "doctor," even though there is nothing wrong with her doing so - by American standards or German.

    The Los Angeles Times' sports pages routinely contain references to the owner of the LA Lakers as "Dr. Jerry Buss." The next time the Times wants to call someone pompous for going by "doctor" despite lacking a medical degree, maybe the paper should take aim at their hometown -- male -- sports executive rather than taking cheap shots at a community college professor.

  • The more things change....

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This was the Vietnam-driven, Time doomsday cover for the issue published just weeks after the new Democratic president was sworn into office in 1993:

    Now here's the latest Vietnam-driven, Newsweek doomsday cover for the current issue, published just days after the new Democratic president was sworn into office:

    Aside for the bogus way the news weeklies jumped at the chance to hang a foreign policy "Vietnam" around the neck of brand new Democratic presidents, behold the especially surreal logic connected to the Newsweek cover and its attempt to connect Obama, in office for less than 14 days, to the battle for Afghanistan, which the Bush administration oversaw for nearly seven years.

  • Even NPR falls for the phony Obama/Limbaugh feud storyline

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This may stand as the single biggest non-story of young Obama administration, but boy the press loves to tell it: Obama's in a verbal sparing match with Limbaugh! The president picked a fight with a radio talk show host! It's been "tit-for-tat," according to NPR.

    Really? Obama has been engaged in an extended back-and-forth with Limbaugh? Let's give this tale a rest, shall we. It's true that Limbaugh has been talking non-stop about Obama. About how how evil his policies are and how he hopes the new president fails. And about how we need to grab our ankles because Obama's father was black. It's true that Limbaugh has wandered waaay off the reservation and is spouting Obama hate non-stop on the public airwaves. (Peter Berkowitz please take note.)

    But what exactly has Obama done to fuel this supposed feud? What's been Obama's role in this showdown? Answer: Over the course of nearly two weeks as president Obama uttered a single sentence, in private, that contained a single passing reference to Limbaugh. And that reference did not even attack Limbaugh. He simply suggested that Republicans in Congress should not legislate by taking their cues from a (once drug addicted) radio talk show host. A radical notion, we know.

    But that doesn't matter because the press wants to tell the tale about how Limbaugh and Obama remain locked in some kind of a war of words. About how, according to the Chicago Tribune, "the president has taken up the [Limbaugh] challenge in a rather pointed and personal way." Which is, let's face it, pretty close to being 100% inaccurate.

  • "NBC has an Erin Burnett problem"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Adam Green at Huff Post details how the NBC business reporter seemed to morph into a Wall Street flak/apologist during her appearance on MTP this weekend:

    This Sunday's Meet The Press made something absolutely clear: Journalists who are "embedded" on Wall Street and depend on Wall Street execs for access on a day-to-day basis are ridiculously unqualified to give the public good information about the economic crisis.

    Question for NBC: Is Burnett supposed to cover Wall Street, or cover for Wall Street?

    UPDATE: And yes, it was Burnett who claimed last week that Rush Limbaugh's opinion piece in the WSJ about the proposed economic stimulus package represented a "serious" proposal. The same Limbaugh opinion piece which suggested recessions, including this one, simply cure themselves.

    UPDATE: NBC's MTP was a bit of a misinformation train wreck yesterday. Aside from Burnett, host David Gregory peddled old, discredited nonsense about how Social Security in 2010 would "pay out more than it's taking in." False.

  • WaPo, please define "too late"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Post's hand-wringing editorial about Obama's stimulus package insists the president needs to do more to placate Republicans; he needs to make more cuts in order to win their bipartisan support. (Why? Is legislation passed without Republican support somehow seen by the Beltway press corps as being not legitimate?)

    But get a load of this pretzel logic:

    Mr. Obama has sought bipartisan support for the bill. This is to his credit, but by simultaneously courting Republicans and assigning the actual drafting of the bill to Democratic congressional leaders, he has wound up zigzagging between the two parties rather than herding them together. When he seemed to lean toward more tax cuts to win over Republicans, Democrats rebelled and opted for more spending. When they proposed hundreds of millions of dollars for contraceptives and the Mall, Mr. Obama had the controversial provisions removed, but too late to win over Republicans.

    Did you follow? Prior to the vote in the House on the stimulus package, Obama pulled provisions Republicans objected to. But according to the Post editorial, it was too late.

    Go ahead and re-read the Post passage a second and third time, because the editorial never makes any sense even after multiple readings. The Post urged Obama to listen to Republican complaints about the stimulus package and to act on them. Obama did precisely that prior to the House vote. Yet Republicans, unanimously, still voted against the bill.

    So according to the Post, who's to blame for the lack of bipartisan support? Obama, of course.