In our ongoing series "What's Happening at the Washington Post," today's "I Can't Believe I Saw This There" moment is a rather lengthy article by Joel Achenbach, conspicuously placed on the cover of Sunday's section B, and conspicuously skeptical about the liberal bogeyman known as global warming.
Maybe more surprising, Achenbach took on media representatives that feel the need to blame every catastrophic weather event on climate change.
In fact, without naming names, he even picked on our friend at Newsweek, Sharon Begley, totally debunking her claim that global warming was responsible for the June floods in Iowa (emphasis added):
For those that missed it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was George Stephanopoulos's guest on "This Week" Sunday. Not only did she come across as knowing absolutely nothing about the energy markets as well as the oil industry, she presented herself more as a freshman representative that had never been in front of the camera instead of the most powerful member of Congress that happens to be second in succession to the presidency.
All things considered, was this the worst performance you've ever seen by a major elected official on a political talk show?
Have you noticed that the old media standby story of the homeless has not been pursued much in the last four or five years? Some may remember how the media constantly bemoaned the state of the homeless during the Reagan and H.W. Bush years in office, and how the media constantly used this tale as a club with which to beat those two Republican presidents over the head. Folks like Rush Limbaugh, I recall, noticed how this standard media go-to story disappeared once Clinton became president and postulated that it would fast return once G.W.Bush took the Oval Office. But, the homeless has not made much of a media come back. In fact, that meme has virtually evaporated as a major media focal point. And there is a reason for that. Under the Bush administration, homelessness has actually decreased by 12% per year between 2005 and 2007.
David Frum of NRO found the lack of media attention of interest as it does us. He notes that this report of the amazing improvement of homelessness, due to the hard work of Bush appointee Phil Mangano, has generally been absent from the media. Saying, "I'll be very curious tomorrow morning to see where and how this story gets placed," Frum wonders if the story will make much ehadway in the old media. He notes that the story didn't make the Washington Post, but that The New York Times did pick it up (and I'll note the AP story as linked above, too).
Perhaps it takes a foreigner looking from the outside in to give us a clear look at the overall meaning of the mainstream media silence on the alleged John Edwards scandal. In this case it is Guy Adams writing in his US Media Diary in the UK Independent about "The 'scoop' the US papers ignored." (emphasis mine):
That old cliché about everything being bigger in America seems especially pertinent when attempting to describe the sheer scale of the crisis currently afflicting the US newspaper industry, which makes all Fleet Street's woes look like a summer picnic.
Last week, The Los Angeles Times decided to flog its historic downtown offices, on top of sacking 150 of its 870 journalists. So did The Chicago Tribune. Almost every title in the land is now shedding staff; a hundred New York Times hacks have been offered voluntary redundancy; Newsweek recently announced cuts. It's a bloodbath out there, as US media companies attempt to claw a pound of flesh from haemorrhaging readerships.
Here's something you don't see every day: a union negotiating a new contract that allows its Muslim members to replace the day they get off for Labor Day with one of their own holy days.
After all, since 1894, Labor Day has been a federal holiday designated to celebrate "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations." As such, you would expect a labor union to hold this day in extremely high esteem.
Yet, according to the Shelbyville Times Gazette (Tennessee), some things are more important than Labor Day to at least one of America's unions (h/t NBer motherbelt):
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek Washington correspondent/MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman went after John McCain for his recent ads attacking Barack Obama, and the Arizona Republican's charge that Obama was "playing the race card" because the Illinois Democrat has repeatedly joked that his opponents will try to discourage people from voting for him because "he's black." Olbermann started off the show suggesting that McCain's ad against Obama featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton exhibited "almost subliminal racism, a black man with two women," and that the ad "intermixed footage of that black candidate with images of two young white women."
Fineman charged that McCain is using negative attacks to distract from the "substantive issues" Obama is "trying to raise in the campaign," and suggested that McCain is in danger of seeming as "obsessed" as Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men" as the Arizona Senator is planning to "demonize Obama to draw out the Republican base." Fineman further characterized McCain as being "in survival mode. It's not quite like the prison years, but he's a tough character in a tough spot, and he's going to use anything he can to survive."
Fineman also seemed to voice agreement with Obama's joke that Republicans will try to use race against him. After noting that Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs was not telling the truth in denying that Obama was referring to race in his controversial joke, Fineman suggested that Obama was being "honest" in warning that "the country needs to be on guard," and the Newsweek correspondent recommended that Obama "should have all of his advisors and spokespeople be honest, too." (Transcript follows)
It appears something else that isn't tolerated at the ultra-left-leaning website Daily Kos is too much discussion about the extra-marital sexual escapades of Democrats the Netroots hold in high esteem.
At least, this appears to be the case given Saturday's banning of Lee Stranahan, a liberal blogger and video producer who's been writing diaries at DKos since at least April 2007, and has had his work featured at the Huffington Post.
My colleague P.J. Gladnick referenced Stranahan's HuffPo piece about Edwards back on July 27:
Something happened on Sunday's "The Chris Matthews Show" that was one of the strongest examples of liberal media bias I've seen since the press blamed Hurricane Katrina on President Bush.
In back to back segments, the twelve regulars on the program -- what the host refers to as "The Matthews Meter" -- almost unanimously agreed that if Barack Obama became President, Congressional Republicans would work with him to get his agenda passed.
By contrast, these same people felt Congressional Democrats would do everything possible to block policy initiatives of John McCain if he wins in November.
I must be kidding you, right? Well, here's Matthews with the first question posed:
It seems that even ABC's George Stephanopoulos is getting fed up with Congressional Democrats blocking efforts by Republicans to expand offshore oil drilling in order to bring down gas prices.
On Sunday's "This Week," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) was asked repeatedly why she refuses to allow this issue to come to a vote.
The look of disgust on Stephanopoulos's face as Pelosi mumbled non sequitur after non sequitur was almost more telling of his sense of frustration than the number of times he asked virtually the same question: "Why won't you permit a straight up or down vote?"
Readers should prepare themselves for an alternate reality, for Madame Speaker was quizzed on Sunday like never before (video available here, rush transcript from closed captioning, photo courtesy ABC News):
Exactly how wide is the gulf between elite media opinion and public opinion on matters of politics?
Let’s put it this way, after Sen. Barack Obama falsely accused Sen. John McCain of saying he (Obama) doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency and has a funny name, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, called Obama's "Dollar Bill" statement "self-deprecating":
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure –
So just how upset do you think the leftwing blogosphere is over Barack Obama's latest policy switch on offshore oil drilling? You can get a good idea of the passion generated by this flip flop by noting that the Huffington Post currently has over 4700 comments on this topic. In addition, there is a tidal wave of outrage at both the Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos on Obama's apparent reversal on his prior stand of opposition to more offshore oil drilling. The story that the HUffington Post commenters reacted to so overwhelmingly was titled, "Obama Shifts, Says He May Back Offshore Drilling":
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Friday he would be willing to support limited additional offshore oil drilling if that's what it takes to enact a comprehensive policy to foster fuel-efficient autos and develop alternate energy sources.
Shifting from his previous opposition to expanded offshore drilling, the Illinois senator told a Florida newspaper he could get behind a compromise with Republicans and oil companies to prevent gridlock over energy.
Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?
At next year's event, Powell's headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama's repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that's not how he sees it), along with his report's first 10 words, would bring the house down:
With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race
Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles .....
Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn't "stumbled" repeatedly, to the point where he's making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius.
Talk about a puff piece, this Associated Press short is a story with absolutely no substance. Not only that but after seeing the headline and then reading the story, one is hard pressed to believe they belong together. This Amy Forliti puffery is incongruously headlined "Protesters expected to transform the streets outside GOP convention into marketplace of ideas," yet there isn't any discussion at all of any such "marketplace" or about any real "ideas" in the story. In fact, the only "ideas" are ages old, stale and losing their grip among more Americans everyday.
Oh, Forliti talks about protests filled with prosaic anti-war sentiment, ages old oil protests, anarchists and 9/11 truthers, but there is no discussion of real "ideas" in this piece. Nor does the piece discuss exactly who is organizing these protests, people who are themselves filled with the dead ideas of another era -- just for instance the United For Peace And Justice (UFPJ) is mostly a socialist organization and they are always a part of these coalitions of misfits.
Obama received a brief increase in support near the conclusion of his overseas trip last week, gaining a nine percentage point advantage in July 24-26 polling. But that bounce disappeared almost [as] quickly as it emerged.
What's responsible for Obama's quick plummet since returning from his premature victory lap?
The Associated Press has done it again, even beyond what Ken Shepherd of NewsBusters noted in a related post on June 4.
In that post, Ken cited an AP report that did not identify the political party of Democratic Massachusetts State Senator and alleged serial sexual assaulter James Marzilli until the eleventh and final paragraph.
AP Writer Denise Lavoie went one step further in her 300-word July 30 report on criminal complaint charges that have been filed against Marzilli. She completely failed to disclose his party, even though she noted his previous withdrawal from an upcoming election, and even though there is another prosecution in progress involving similar charges:
You'd think a guy who has demonstrated such flexibility on everything from campaign finance to NAFTA to the Second Amendment to the surge could find a way to wangle some townhall meetings with John McCain into his schedule. But gosh darn it, that would just be too tough for Barack Obama, explains George Stephanopoulos. The "This Week" host made his excuses for the Dem candidate on today's Good Morning America.
BILL WEIR: The Obama campaign just agreed to three debates after the McCain campaign called for ten or so townhall meetings. Given his oratory skills, why won't Obama answer that townhall challenge?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I think a lot of it had to do with the primary calendar. The primaries ran so late that by the time they were all wrapped up, the Obama campaign felt that if they got into these week-by-week town They wouldn't have been able to go on the European trip; they wouldn't have been able to do their bus trips through the Midwest. He wouldn't be able to take his vacation in August, which he's really looking forward to, from the 8th to the 15th.
The Cornell golf club championship is next weekend, and I had been planning [brag alert] to defend the senior men's title I won last year. But now, I just might have to think about entering the women's division instead. The field is much smaller, not nearly as tough, and playing from the red tees should give me quite an advantage. But what if tournament organizers balk at my entry, you ask? No problem. I'd just toss down a copy of Jennifer Finney Boylan's New York Times op-ed column of today. The thesis of The XY Games is that "gender is malleable and elusive," and that since "most efforts to rigidly quantify the sexes are bound to fail," the Olympic authorities [and surely the Cornell golf club] shouldn't really bother to try.
Finney Boylan goes so far as to assert that the Olympic medals Stella Walsh won in women's sprint events shouldn't be stripped posthumously despite an autopsy revealing that Walsh had male sex organs [and an ambiguous set of chromosomes.]
Writes Finney Boylan of Walsh [emphasis added throughout]:
She should be celebrated for her accomplishments as an athlete, not turned into an asterisk because of a condition beyond her control.
The triumphant fact of a life lived as a woman made Walsh female, and the inexact measurements performed by strangers cannot render her life untrue.
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, on Friday contended “it is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support” for free trade, instead:
The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide.
In his column bannered across the top Friday's “Business” section, “Wave Goodbye to the Invisible Hand” Pearlstein argued that “just as the Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era and the New Deal gave way to the post-war era of big government, big business and big labor, the current era of free-market capitalism seems to be giving way to something else” as “the larger truth may be that the social and economic costs of the next increment of globalization probably outweigh the benefits for many people, and that reality has now been reflected in the political marketplace.”
First, it publishes an article about how the McCain campaign feels the New York Times editors are like a blogger "sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."
Then, a few hours later, it publishes a piece about presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama being afraid to debate McCain in a town hall format.
Honestly, with fair and balanced coverage like this from America's leading wire service, who needs Fox News? (emphasis added throughout, photo courtesy Weekly Standard):
The battle between John McCain and the New York Times is getting very interesting.
According to the Associated Press, the McCain campaign has struck back at two Times editorials this week highly critical of the Arizona senator.
In fact, a campaign spokesman even went so far as to liken the editors of the Times to a blogger "sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."
Appearing as a guest on Thursday's Countdown on MSNBC, liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, also a Princeton University professor of economics, informed viewers of what he believes is "the reason to hate Exxon," which is because "it has not done anything to address the energy problem, and it's actually spent heavily on, you know, financing climate skeptics, on basically blocking intelligent policy, on muddying the waters of our debate." He also lamented that America did not follow Jimmy Carter's advice on energy policy: "If Jimmy Carter had actually managed to sell us on energy conservation 30 years ago, we would be in a lot better shape than we are right now."
As he and host Keith Olbermann dismissed the legitimacy of John McCain's plan to drill for more oil domestically to reduce gas prices, Krugman complained that Barack Obama is not being aggressive enough in attacking McCain, and recommended that Obama charge that McCain's plan is an "outrage," and that the Arizona Senator is "insulting your intelligence, he's really doing bad stuff." (Transcript follows)
In light of Keith Olbermann's recent mockery of elderly television viewers as being in the "65 to dead" demographic, two years ago on MSNBC's Countdown show, Olbermann seemed to rejoice at the prospect of O'Reilly's audience members "dying off," as Olbermann bragged about his viewing figures which had increased during the previous year, especially among viewers in the age range of 25-54 years, while O'Reilly's overall ratings had dropped. Olbermann, on the June 28, 2006, Countdown: "Bill, seriously, it's slipping away from you. You don't know what to do. You can't even lie well anymore. Seriously, I understand, it's called panic. ... It's terrifying. You begin to see the audience dying off and the creases deepening in your forehead and the loofahs drying up. You make mistakes, you trust the wrong people, you blame Al Franken, you yell at somebody, you yell at everybody. It feels like the ladder is teetering, you're tired, you're depressed, you're anxious, you're balding. Let me give you three words of advice, Bill-O: Keep it up!" Video of Olbermann's rant can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
On Friday, NewsBusters wondered how much attention media would pay to the Republican revolt that occurred after Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House for a five week vacation without allowing a vote on offshore oil drilling.
It turns out that if you rely on the evening news programs of the three broadcast networks, you didn't hear about this extraordinary event at all (photo courtesy AP).
And, if you're one of the few people that still reads newspapers, the one thrown on your driveway Saturday morning likely also ignored this story, or buried it well off the front page.
Conceivably the worst of the network offenders was the "NBC Nightly News" which actually addressed the fact that Congress adjourned without a vote on drilling, but completely ignored the GOP revolt that ensued afterwards (from closed captioning):
On Friday's Countdown, during the show's "Worst Person in the World" segment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tried to characterize the ratings of his show as more admirable than than those of FNC's highly watched O'Reilly Factor by narrowly citing viewing figures among younger demographics. Olbermann, who has a history of quoting the viewing figures for those 25-54 years old -- citing their value to advertisers -- to make himself appear more competitive with O'Reilly, on this occasion dismissively referred to older viewers as "65 to dead." Olbermann: "But don't worry, Bill, you're still dominating that important demographic, 65 to dead." Notably, in June 2006, Olbermann gloated that O'Reilly's viewers are "dying off."
And, although Olbermann vaguely claimed that Bill O'Reilly "crows about the ratings and then gets them wrong again," the MSNBC host in no way contradicted O'Reilly's numbers as Olbermann merely cited the statistics for the specific younger demographics, which did not disprove anything the FNC host stated.
TVNewser reported on the July figures: ""The top rated program was again The O'Reilly Factor at 8pmET(2,252,000 viewer average). For MSNBC, the top program was Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8pmET in 9th place (959,000) and for CNN it was Larry King Live tied for 10th (940,000)." The TVNewser report can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said today he would be willing to open Florida's coast for more oil drilling if it meant winning approval for broad energy changes. "My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post. "If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," Obama said.
Is this a smart move given the current price of oil and gas, or another shameless flip-flop from a guy that really doesn't stand for anything but "change" anyway?
The Washington Post's Deborah Howell has a howeller in the Aug. 3 edition of the paper revealing how shocked and amazed she was that her own paper had a lopsided tally of Obama photographs compared to how many McCain photos appear in its pages. Of course, the amusing thing isn't that the Post had far more Obama photos than McCain pics but that, regardless of the raw numbers staring her in the face, Howell still insisted it wasn't because of bias. Apparently it's just because Obama has a "great smile." I guess we can mark that trenchant observation as the best reason to cover political candidates as far as the Washington Post is concerned. It's a big win for a justification for hard news, surely.
Howell apparently was contacted by a retired USA Today reporter who alerted her to the singular fact that Obama's photo appeared more often than did McCain's in the paper's A section from June 4 to July 14. Howell got curious and replicated that study, but expanded it to the entire paper and found interesting results.
There's no current wisdom more conventional than that which has Hillary Clinton entirely out of the veepstakes. Take the opening of yesterday's Hardball, for example, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: It didn't get much notice in the media and it didn't show up in any newspaper obituary pages, but the idea of a Democratic ticket of Obama and Hillary Clinton died a very quiet death this week. How did the dream-team ticket disappear so fast and so quietly?
Introducing a later segment, Barnicle displayed a statement from a group that had been pushing the idea of Hillary for veep now saying that it's abandoned its effort "because it seems that Senator Obama has made his decision to offer the slot on the ticket to another candidate." The subsequent schmoozefest with Dem consultant Steve McMahon and Air America honcho Mark Green took it as a given that Hillary would not be the VP candidate, focusing instead on what other role she might play in the campaign.
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how “a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time.” Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced:
We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, with “Hard Times” on screen, reported:
On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.