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  • Tom Brokaw, McCain camp liason

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    According to today's NYT article, Brokaw has served as a point person between NBC and the McCain campaign; the guy who helped smooth over ruffled feathers.

    Is that really what the host of MTP should be doing off-camera?

  • Bailout fallout

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Kevin Drum nails it:

    After the failure of the bill, the GOP leadership invented a fairy tale about Nancy Pelosi being at fault for the vote debacle because she gave a partisan speech on the floor of the House. The press is almost unanimously reporting this seriously. If Republicans had blamed it on Santa Claus, I guess they would have reported that seriously too.

    If common sense can't stop reporters from credulously reporting the GOP's spin that it's Pelosi's fault for hurting their feelings, maybe GOP Rep. Michelle Bachmann can: "I want to assure you that was not the case. We are not babies who suck our thumbs. We have very principled reasons for voting no."

    (More here.)

  • Newsweek still (pretty much) oblivious to Wall Street meltdown

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Last week, I noted that just the credit crisis was consuming Wall Street and turning it into arguably the biggest news story of the entire year, Newsweek arrived at my doorstep on September 15.

    I counted up the pages the mag devoted to the Wall Street disaster (1) that week, and compared that to the number of pages Newsweek devoted to the White House campaign (16) and noted that the disparity highlighted how invested, professionally, journalists were in campaign story and how reluctant they were to pivot away from it even momentarily. (It was fun to cover!)

    Believe or not, two weeks later the disconnect is just as bad at Newsweek. Despite the rolling, unprecedented bank bailouts and the fact that news consumer now, in numbers rarely seen by pollsters, almost universally proclaim the state of the economy to be the biggest story of the day and the one they are (nervously) following most closely each week, Newsweek's latest edition can't really be bothered.

    Pages devoted in the latest Newsweek to the Wall Street fiasco: 4.

    Pages devoted to the latest Newsweek to the White House campaign: 22.

  • Friday night lights

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Should any one be surprised by the fact that the ratings for Friday night's presidential debate, once put in historical perspective, were rather mediocre? (Eleventh best overall, to be exact.) Or why, with approximately 57 million total viewers, the debate attracted only ¾ of the audience the co-chair of Commission on Presidential Debates predicted they would, and 40 million fewer than what MSNBC's Chris Matthews confidently predicted last week?

    Despite the relentless media hype about the debate, there's no big press mystery about the lackluster viewership. The debate was held on Friday night and on Friday night not as many Americans stay home and watch TV. (Nielsen has known this for approximately three decades.) And that Friday night (non) viewing pattern is even more pronounced during the fall football season.

    Why the commission, whose stated mission is to expose as many viewers as possible to the candidates, chose to have the first, and usually most important, debate on Friday night always struck us as being slightly coo-coo. But almost just as odd was the fact that the Beltway press last week, busy dissecting every last angle of the debate preview story (what the topics would be, who ran the candidates' debate practice sessions, etc.) steadfastly refused to raise the issue of a Friday night debate. For most reporters and pundits, Friday night seemed like a perfectly normal time to broadcast a presidential forum.

    That notion, along with the way-off predictions that 80 or 100 million people would tune in, just seemed to highlight how out of touch the political press often is with folks beyond the Beltway.

  • Is this what a National Review Online correction looks like?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Late last week NRO's Greg Pollowitz mocked the press for not making a bigger ruckus when the AP reported that reporters had been banned from a photo op between Joe Biden and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in Milwaukee.

    According to Pollowitz, that was exactly like the GOP's Sarah Palin not allowing reporters to ask questions when she recently sat down with world leaders at the United Nations. Exactly. And look at what a big deal the press made about that!

    At the time, County Fair suggested Pollowitz needed to post an update because the AP report was flat-out false; reporters had been allowed into the Biden session.

    In response, Pollowtiz, instead of updating his off-the-mark post, added a new item at his NRO media blog. It consisted of a single sentence--"Looks like Biden did have press in the room with him when he met the Georgian President"--and then he cut-and-pasted sections from the updated AP story, which acknowledged the error in the Biden article.

    What Pollowitz failed to do was to note that had used the bad info to claim the press had a double standard in terms covering Biden and Palin.

    Hey, if the AP could `fess up to its blunder, why couldn't NRO?

  • Will media revolt?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz, July 1:

    Can you imagine the uproar if the McCain campaign actually had a policy of rewarding favorable reporters with access to the candidate on the plane, and shutting out those who dared to be critical? There would be a media revolt.

    Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz, September 29:

    Outside, on a summerlike evening, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs held forth for the likes of NBC's Chuck Todd and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who was wearing an Elvis T-shirt. (The company may have been more pleasant than that of McCain aides, who have barred Dowd from the candidate's plane. And the Obama camp seemed to show its media leanings when it texted followers to watch the debate -- on CNN.)

  • LA Times recycles Dittohead from the NYTimes

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Why doesn't journalist Zev Chafets just start an online fan page for Rush Limbaugh? Or become his caddy or park Rush's many cars? That way he'd be able to express his deeply felt admiration for the mighty right-wing talker without taking up valuable space in major newspapers.

    You'll remember in July, Chafets spent nearly 8,000 words genuflected before Limbaugh in the pages of the New York Times magazine, where he effortlessly whitewashed Limbaugh's hate speech and portrayed him as a brilliant political strategist. (Y'know, the brilliant strategist who last winter announced John McCain could not be the GOP nominee.)

    Today, Chafets recycles the same talking points and peddles them off to the Los Angeles Times for a op-ed, where once again the Limbaugh crush is advertised for all to see. (Chafets received an email from Rush!) In the Los Angeles Times, Chafets again proclaims Limbaugh's political smarts, bows his his unparalleled GOP power, claims he just may sway the election in McCain's favor and, or course, dismisses Limbaugh's critics as people who don't actually listen to his show and can't appreciate the uncommon wisdom that Limbaugh dispenses.

    Actually, Media Matters listens to evey minute of every Limbaugh broadcast and one of things Media Matters heard last week was when the talker said this about the Democratic nominee for president:

    "He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. ... [H]e's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American."

    Yet for some reason in his Times column, which specifically addresses how Limbaugh talks about Obama, Chevets plays dumb about Limbaugh's race-based attack on the Democrat.

  • WaPo claims McCain team won the post-debate spin war

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That, according to Howard Kurtz who points to zero evidence to back up the claim, and doesn't even try to explain how he came to that partisan conclusion.

    Meanwhile, the entire Kurtz dispatch from the debate really is an instant classic since it's littered with gems like this:

    Some of the journalists who profess to want an elevated debate on the issues--which is precisely what they got, courtesy of Jim Lehrer--seemed unusually interested in style points.

    See, it was unusual for Beltway journalists to focus on style points, according to Kurtz, whose job at the Post appears to be to present the press corps in the most flattering, hard-working and serious light possible.