Friday, April 9, 2010

Good and Bad Media

Slajda (TPM): Stewart Blasts Fox's Coverage Of Nuke Treaty: Throw Off Your 'Fact Shackles' (VIDEO)

Last night, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart attacked Fox News and Sarah Palin for ignoring the facts about President Obama's nuclear treaty with Russia.

Stewart reminded them that President Reagan had also called for a one-third reduction in nuclear arms, and spoke of a world without nukes.

He also wondered why Megyn Kelly's head exploded.


Steve Benen adds:

It's worth emphasizing the fact that Fox News personalities got just about every aspect of this story wrong. And by "wrong," I'm not just referring to areas of judgment and consistency; I mean they told viewers things that aren't true, making claims with no foundation in reality.

Jon Stewart referred to the network's "willful misunderstanding of the policy," and characterized a back-and-forth between Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity as "purposeful idiocy."

Stewart added, "We're at the point now that the by far number one ranked news network in this country, no longer feels the need to report what a policy document says in black and white."

Coburn is picking a fight with Rachel on the facts. Bad move. Rachel: "I am reporting on your record, and this is what that feels like."

Senator Coburn not discouraged by hypocrital record

April 8: Rachel Maddow reviews Senator Tom Coburn's record of hypocrisy in voting for things that aren't fully paid for, and responds to his accusation that she is too emotional by coolly asking him several basic questions.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Marshall: Idiocy Revealed As Key Tool Against the (Domestic) Terrorists

Yesterday I flagged the new information released about Gregory Giusti, the fine gentleman arrested for threatening Speaker Nancy Pelosi in more than 48 threatening and/or harassing phone calls over almost a two month period leading up to the Health Care Reform vote. But there was some pretty hilarious comedy wrapped into this otherwise ugly event.

It seems Giusti had rather overstated his clandestine skills as a wannabe domestic terrorist. Giusti allegedly used the Internet phone service Magic Jack to make his threatening calls. And in one call to Pelosi's office taunted "and the number I'm calling from is untraceable so if you're trying to trace it have fun."

Needless to say, though, it seems that the security mountain in front of Magic Jack was no match for the tech folks at the FBI. As the first commenter on the post snarked: "Another idiot is rudely introduced to the difference between what your casual user can get from caller ID and what the FBI can do when it wants."

Greg Sargent

* Let’s get started with the understatement of the day. From President Obama, in an interview with George Stephanopoulous, after being asked to respond to Sarah Palin’s criticism of his new nukes policy:

I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin’s not much of an expert on nuclear issues.

But Mr. President, surely you recall that Alaska is closer to Russia than any other state?

* Steve Benen asks the question of the day: “Why is George Stephanopoulos using an idiotic quote from a dimwitted former half-term governor of a small state as the basis for a question to the president?”

* Also in the ABC interview: Obama ripped Bob McDonnell’s omission of slavery from the Confederate History Month proclamation as “unacceptable.”

* It just won’t go away: Mitt Romney’s vexing Obamacare-Romneycare conundrum gets the full treatment in the Wall Street Journal.

* Also in the above link, a great line about Romney from MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped design Romneycare: “He designed the structure of the federal bill.”

* And a great catch by ABC’s The Note blog: Michele Bachmann thinks the threat of nuclear retaliation is necessary to deter cyber attacks.

Greg Sargent: Stephanopoulos Defends Palin Question

George Stephanopoulous is catching some heat today for asking President Obama in an interview to respond to Sarah Palin’s claim that the new nukes policy is akin to a kid saying, “go ahead, punch me in the face and I won’t retailate.”

I asked Stephanopoulos what the justification was for confronting the President with Palin’s criticism, given its obvious childishness. He emailed back:

Whatever you think of Sarah Palin, she’s a former VP candidate — and a potential challenger to President Obama — with a strong following in the GOP. She made a pointed critique of a new Presidential policy. By getting the President’s response, I was doing my job.

After initially thinking Stephanopoulos’ question was daft, I actually find this persuasive. After all, it’s true that Palin has a strong following among Republicans right now, many of whom apparently take her foreign policy and national security views seriously. It’s also true, as far fetched as it may seem, that she has at least a shot at becoming the 2012 nominee. So her views do, in fact, matter!

  • from the comments:
  • I disagree with George on this one, sorry. I think he would be doing his job if he asked Sarah Palin to go into more detail about her remarks. Oh yeah, she doesn’t do Q & A with anyone other than Fox. Until she comes out of her buffer zone the media should give her opinions no legitimacy.

  • Ah, exactly lmsinca. I think your response is probably better than mine. His JOB would be to ask her why she doesn’t hold a press conference about this issue or take questions on it if she thinks it is so important and that her knowledge of the issue is so superior to just about every international expert on nuclear arms control in the world.

  • I agree with this strongly.

    Greg, You should ask Stephanopoulos if he has been able to secure an interview with Palin to discuss her expert position on our nuclear policy. Or is he just willing to carry water for her?

    If his job is to find out how Obama would respond to any political celebrities’ opinion, why not get a f*cking quote from the actual GOP presidential candidate of 2008 who has at least some international experience: John McCain.

    Sarah Palin had left the country once before 2008, was a governor of the second smallest state by population in the US which also receives the highest proportion of federal funding per capita, and didn’t even do so much as direct the Coast Guard for Alaska. What in the world makes her opinion relevant?

    I have an opinion for George:

    “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of this Earth.” – Ronald Reagan, 1984, in China.

    There is no faster way to make cable news less relevant than to not even shoot for the journalistic standards of Jon Stewart.

Sully: Going Rose

No I haven't gone soft. It's just very hard to remain serious in the face of this farce of a politician/celebrity. Here's her analysis of the president's and Bob Gates' marginal recalibration of US nuclear policy:

"It's unbelievable. Unbelievable. No administration in America's history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.'

Seriously. We're supposed to take this seriously? Then we get this far-right conspiracy theory:

"Steps towards insolvency. Steps towards socialism with some of their programs."

The insolvency reference is clearly designed to echo the far right theory that for some reason Obama wants to bankrupt the US in order to take over the entire economy and run it like the Soviet Union's. Obama was trapped into responding. But there is no response to this kind of, well, playground taunts. Which, of course, is why they're effective.

And so you return to the Palin conundrum. The sheer crudeness of her rhetoric, the vast ignorance it champions, and the charisma of a beautiful white woman rallying heartland male voters against commie evil is a combination it's simply impossible to grapple with effectively.

She can plagiarize Slate writers in a stream of consciousness at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Convention, and chirpily host a clip show, and headline Tea Party events with writing on her hand ... and somehow remain a credible figure, getting world-weary, post-everything encomiums from the likes of David Carr. And the sane WTF response - how does one do otherwise? - simply feeds the Palin media machine.

That's why I remain so concerned about her and what her future candidacy for president could do to this country and the world.

That's why she really is to be feared.

Greg Sargent: Rudy Has No National Security Authority, Part II

Newsweek’s Ben Adler has a long and thoughtful post taking on yours truly for suggesting that CNN shouldn’t give a platform to Rudy Giuliani to discuss national security issues.

The crux of his argument is that Rudy’s trafficking in falsehoods, more than his lack of foreign policy experience, is what should be disqualifying. He adds that Repubs with far more experience are prone to saying the same stuff Rudy does.

That’s fine, but I’m simply concerned with addressing Rudy’s case here, which is, at bottom, unique. Adler says that someone with two terms running New York as mayor is a valid pick to discuss such topics. But let’s get real: The sole reason Rudy is booked to discuss national security and terrorism is because he’s associated in the public mind with 9/11. If 9/11 hadn’t happened, Rudy wouldn’t be on your TV. Period.

And his association with 9/11 is not a good enough reason to confer any national security authority or credibility on him. The fact that Rudy lies nonstop is also a good reason not to have him on. But that doesn’t undercut my initial point about the networks’ sloppy thinking in giving him a platform in the first place.

Adler raises a good question: If not Rudy, then who is qualified to represent the Republican position on these issues? Mitt Romney? After all, he has less executive experience than Rudy does, right? True, but Romney has a shot at becoming president. Rudy doesn’t. Therefore Romney is a far more defensible choice.

More broadly, I’d rather hear from any GOP lawmaker with foreign policy experience, or any Republican critic who has spent real time on these issues, even if he or she says much the same stuff as Rudy does. At least you have a shot at a real discussion. With Rudy there’s nothing beneath the talking points. There’s no basis whatsoever for networks to book Rudy to discuss these issues. Ever.

Murphy (C&L): CNN's "Fox Envy": Details Behind Their Fawning Tea Party Coverage Exposed

It's no secret that CNN is tacking hard right, trying to pick up Fox News viewers. Hiring the likes of Bushie, Fran Townsend, and more recently, bringing right wing extremist "blogger" Erick Erickson on board and of course, their inexplicably positive coverage of the ongoing sham known as the Tea Party Express.

Tommy Christoper at Mediaite posted a story on April 4th respectfully refuting some claims made by C&L's Karoli, that CNN was actively pimping the tea party movement:

Upon closer inspection, however, it appears that while the effect of CNN’s coverage may be to promote the Tea Party Express, that’s not the intent. I think CNN is looking for another kind of gold in them thar Tea Party hills.

Fair enough. He disagreed with Karoli's opinion, but he kept digging and what do you know -- it appears that CNN is actively reaching out to far right propagandists like Newsbusters, touting how "fair and balanced" they really are:

A few days ago, I took a look at a Crooks and Liars post that suggested CNN was “pimping” the Great American “Tea Party Express PR and Propaganda Tour.” While I agreed with much of the post, I didn’t think CNN’s motivation was to promote the Tea Party tour, but rather, to be in the right place at the right time when something juicy happens.

As it turns out, reporting by conservative Newsbusters seems to confirm elements of liberal Crooks and Liars‘ thesis, or at the very least, that CNN is trying to have it both ways.

Apparently, CNN has become so desperate to boost ratings and attract Fox viewers, that they've actually stooped to wooing conservative bottom feeders like Michelle Malkin. (warning, link goes to her site) Christopher also posts an e-mail sent to Newsbusters from someone at CNN attacking their lefty critics:

Clearly our critics from the left don’t think we should be covering the Tea Party movement in the way we are and clearly CNN thinks it’s a legitimate and important story.

If anyone from Newsbusters is interested in this angle – let me know.”

Well, this CNN employee is right - we lefties would definitely prefer that they not cover an illegitimate, astroturfed group of white, angry, racist fringe lunatics and militia nuts as though they were a legitimate, grass roots political organization. What next? Will CNN hire Charles Dyer as a "military analyst?"

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