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Mary Katharine Ham

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  • "Not Optimal": Conservative Media Use Incomplete Report To Smear Obama As Callous Toward American Deaths

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservative media figures are taking a partial quote from President Obama out of context in order to attack him as reacting callously to the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel.

    In an appearance taped today for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, President Obama was asked if communication between government personnel had failed to provide "the optimal response" to the Benghazi attacks. Obama replied in part: "If four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."

    Conservative media figures like Matt Drudge, Monica Crowley, Hugh Hewitt, Mary Katherine Ham,John Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson and outlets like Fox Nation all used early reports of Obama's comments to attack him, with several falsely suggesting that Obama had said the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, and not the communications effort, was "not optimal."

  • Fox Whitewashes The Right In Accusing Dems of Politicizing AZ Shooting

    ››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN & JUSTIN BERRIER

    Fox News has run repeated segments attacking some progressive media figures and politicians for suggesting that political rhetoric from the right inspired the recent tragic shootings in Arizona. In doing so, Fox has whitewashed right-wing media figures who have attempted to describe Loughner as a liberal and pin the shooting on "the left."

  • Fox attacks Obama for uncontroversial statements about jihad

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News figures are attacking President Obama for suggesting during a town hall meeting with Indian students that jihad is a tenet of Islam that "has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people." But former President George W. Bush similarly stated that extremists "distort the idea of jihad" to support their terrorist acts.

  • Mary Katharine Ham's dishonest omission

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In a follow-up to The Daily Caller's non-scoop about liberal journalists coordinating on an open letter (how does the Caller expect joint open letters to come about? Spontaneously, by magic?) The Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham claims the article proves that "the left's incessant cries of 'racism' have become largely a cynical political ploy." But Ham's argument is spectacularly dishonest.

    Ham quotes the Daily Caller revealing that "In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, 'Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.'"

    Ham then writes:

    What better to paper over the cynicism and contradictions of the Democrats' candidate than some good, old-fashioned, crude shouts of "racist"?

    Liberals do it because it works. In a standard that works rather conveniently for liberals, and has been embraced by much of the media during the post-Obama Tea Party era, white conservatives and their allies are considered racists for merely being white conservatives. No video evidence is necessary to condemn, and no number of repuditations is sufficient to clear conservatives of this taint.

    Ham, in other words, portrays Ackerman as having argued for baseless allegations of racism against conservatives he knows aren't racist. But in order to do so, she had to omit a key part of the Daily Caller article, which acknowledged: "Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. 'We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.'"

    So, according to the Daily Caller article Ham cites, Ackerman explicitly said that conservatives who don't deserve to be called racists shouldn't be called racists. But Ham omitted that fact from her post, and instead portrayed Ackerman as having advocated the "cynical political ploy" of baselessly accusing non-racists of racism.

    Again: Spectacularly dishonest.

    UPDATE: Josh Trevino defends Ham, claiming: "Douthat wasn't exempted for non-racism, but for irrelevance." Nice try, Josh, but that's completely false according to The Daily Caller report Ham cited. Here's The Daily Caller:

    Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. "We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it."

    That absolutely does not say Douthat was exempted for "irrelevance." It quite clearly says Douthat was exempted for "non-racism." Like I said: Nice try, Josh.

    UPDATE 2: Trevino further argues that the "lack of hard evidence" that Fred Barnes is a racist proves Ham's point, and disproves mine. This displays a stunning lack of reading comprehension, or stunning lack of honesty. I'm not sure which.

    Anyway, here's why the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist is totally irrelevant to Ham's point and my refutation of it: Ham didn't accuse Ackerman of being wrong about whether people were racists. If she had done so, the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist might be relevant. But what Ham actually accused Ackerman of was wanting to label as racist people Ackerman knows are not racist. (That's presumably why Ham used the word "cynical" rather than "false" to describe Ackerman's proposed tactics.) So Ham's point is not proven by showing that Ackerman called a non-racist racist; one must show that he argued for so labeling someone who he stipulated is not a racist.

    And the record -- which consists solely of the Daily Caller article upon which Ham based her entire post -- shows quite the opposite. it shows that Ackerman specifically excluded Douthat from such labeling. And Ham left that fact out of her post.

    And, because I don't want to have to write a third update, I'll point out right now that no information that may or may not exist in the future has anything to do with this discussion. Ham's claim was based on the Daily Caller article.

    UPDATE 3: Oh, all right: one more. Trevino hilariously suggests the Daily Caller's description of Ackerman's reference to Douthat is unreliable. I certainly don't blame Trevino if he finds the Daily Caller's assessment of anything unreliable. But if Trevino finds the Daily Caller's account of Spencer Ackerman's emails unreliable, I wonder why he isn't criticizing Ham for basing a blog post on it?

  • Both sides of their mouth: A guide to the conservative media's consistently contradictory health care rhetoric

    ››› ››› MATT MCLAUGHLIN, TOM ALLISON, JUSTIN BERRIER & TODD GREGORY

    In attacking President Obama's recent health care reform guidelines, right-wing media have leveled numerous criticisms that are at odds with their earlier attacks against Democratic health care reform legislation. This follows repeated efforts by conservative media figures to shift their criticism of health care reform by changing the definitions of "death panels" and the public option.

  • Media figures call on Obama to turn down the Nobel Peace Prize

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER & JOCELYN FONG

    Following the news that President Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, numerous media figures have called for him to "turn it down" or "give it back," often asserting that he has not accomplished enough to deserve the prize. On his radio show, Glenn Beck said Obama "has to turn it down. ... [I]t's the only way for him to make a win out of this"; Internet gossip Matt Drudge asked on his website, "Will he turn it down?"; and Michelle Malkin said, "[I]f Obama had an ounce of real humility, he'd refuse to accept the award."