What a buffoon you are, David Shuster.
The more the media talks about guns, the more you realize how completely ignorant they are on the subject.
- PBS’s Mark Shields: “In the United States of America in 2012, it’s easier in many states . . . to buy an automatic weapon than it is to rent an automobile.” Since automatic weapons are illegal in all 50 states, this is not even close to true.
- New York Times: A “.9-millimeter” Sig Sauer? I suppose that would sting.
- Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz: “Should there be limits on high-magazine clips?” Whatever that is.
- Pace the New York Times, the US murder rate is not 15 times that of other rich nations. Also, the rate of violent crime rate in the UK (which the NYT apparently cherry-picked as the typical rich nation) has soared since the statistics the NYT uses were collected, and is now nearly 5 times worse than the US. Australia’s gun ban did not correlate with a drop in the murder rate. And, 300 is greater than 250.
- CBS’s Bob Schieffer, weeks after he should have known better: Semi-automatic weapons “keep firing” when you pull the trigger. No they don’t.
That’s only since the Newtown shootings. Including older instances of gun ignorance like the classic “shoulder thing that goes up” (not what a barrel shroud is) would take all day.
It is a popular pastime on the left to prepare and promote studies that purport to show that conservatives and libertarians are stupid, insane, or otherwise mentally defective. (“It’s science! You can’t argue with science!”) Some of them are outright hilarious, like a recent study claiming to show that Fox News viewers have an IQ of 80.
The study is a complete fake, of course:
So there you have it. A four-year study sparked by the outcome of the recent election, from an institution that’s admittedly a fake, from a company that won’t identify itself, supposedly funded by a Republican PAC trying to “cut off” the Tea Party like a cancer, using a sample that was chosen with a particular result in mind, with a contact number that’s an anonymous free Google Voice number.
But what’s really hilarious is the irony: credulous leftists being taken in by a fake study on intelligence.
I don’t really blame the Houston Chronicle for being taken in by an ill-conceived anti-Obama flyer that turned out to be fabricated. After all, these people are liberals, and it’s consistent with their world view when Republicans seem to be acting stupidly. But these people are also supposedly journalists. Why didn’t they even ask the flyer’s purported producers for comment before running with the story?
The Benghazi debacle is big news, with new information about the administration’s incompetence and/or indifference coming out almost every day. But the news media wants to talk about anything else, and it’s pretty obvious why.
Most telling is the Sunday morning talk shows, where only Fox News thought the latest revelations were worth discussing. On NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory even went so far as to cut off a guess who brought up Benghazi.
UPDATE: John Hinderaker compares New York Times’s treatment of Benghazi to its 2004 drumbeat on the Al Qaqaa, a non-story about an unsecure ammunition dump from which as much as 0.06% of Iraq’s munitions might have been looted. The Times immediately abandoned the story after the 2004 election, tacitly acknowledging its unimportance.
One leftist meme that I first heard this election year, but apparently goes back at least to 2008, is the racism inherent in observing — or merely “dog-whistling” — that Barack Obama is not like most Americans. Obama may have been raised in Indonesia and mentored by radicals upon his return to the United States, but none of that is a legitimate subject for discussion.
On the other hand, “otherizing” (not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s not really a word) is central to Obama’s campaign against Mitt Romney. The centerpiece is Romney’s Mormonism of course, but it’s dangerous to be too overt about that, so they use his vocabulary as stand-in.
The vocabulary line of attack was one of the very first that Obama adopted when Romney became his presumptive opponent:
President Obama is not only starting to cite Mitt Romney by name, he is seeking to link his likely Republican opponent to at least two things. One, the Republican budget developed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Two, the word “marvelous.” . . .
Obama said Romney is “very supportive of this new budget, and he even called it ‘marvelous’ — which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.”
“It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.”
The New York Times is chiming in with a piece on Romney’s quaint, clean vocabulary. A sample:
At a campaign stop in Rockford, Ill., not long ago, Mitt Romney sought to convey his feelings for his wife, Ann. “Smitten,” he said. . .
It was a classic Mittism, as friends and advisers call the verbal quirks of the Republican presidential candidate. In Romneyspeak, passengers do not get off airplanes, they “disembark.” People do not laugh, they “guffaw.” Criminals do not go to jail, they land in the “big house.” Insults are not hurled, “brickbats” are.
But is his vocabulary really so unusual? Byron York looked into it and found that the New York Times itself likes those same words:
Anyone check frequency with which those words appear in NYT? ‘Smitten’? 707 times in past five years. ‘Guffaw’ 109 times. ‘Brickbat,’ 63.
So all that stuff about vocabulary is really just cover. They’re really just talking about his odd refusal to use profanity, which points directly back to Mormonism.
Now, the left is always fabricating racist connotations out of whole cloth. But we can be sure I’m committing the same error here — drawing a connection to Romney’s religion that isn’t there — because they make it explicit:
His Mormon faith frowns on salty language, and so does he. A man of relentless self-discipline, he made clear to lawmakers in Boston and colleagues in business that even in matters of vocabulary, he “held himself to a high standard of behavior.”
In the end, it’s a strange line of attack. There’s a lot wrong with Mormonism, theologically speaking, but attacking Mormons’ commitment to personal morality is fundamentally wrong-headed. More than that, it’s telling. The Democratic ticket has lately been flaunting their vulgarity, and clearly they think America is with them.
Astonishingly, the New York Times still seems to think that the Benghazi attack was sparked by a YouTube video:
Beyond the political issues, the film may carry the risk of associating Mr. Obama with any backlash in a Muslim world already inflamed by the YouTube trailer for an insulting film portrayal of its prophet. In September riots erupted in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere as Muslim crowds reacted violently to what they perceived as the unforgivable insults of a scratch production, “The Innocence of Muslims,” some of which was posted on YouTube.
I guess when the Obama campaign switched to their new we-knew-it-was-terrorism-all-along story, the memo didn’t get to the NYT’s television reporters.
Well, at least they ran a correction:
An earlier version of this article misstated the title for Howard T. Owens. He is the president of the National Geographic Channel, not the chief executive.
(Via the Corner.)
Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s deranged anchor, says it’s unconstitutional for people to refuse to let the president interrupt them:
I don’t think [Romney] understands the Constitution of the United States. He’s the president of the United States. You don’t say, ‘You’ll get your chance.’
Here’s the exchange that got Matthews so upset:
ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?
OBAMA: I’m happy to answer the question.
ROMNEY: All right. And it is — I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. [Gestures.] You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.
Matthews seems to think that the Constitution makes the president a king, to whom Americans must show deference. Certainly someone misunderstands the Constitution here, but it’s not Romney.
The New York Times says that Republican cuts to the State Department’s budget are to blame for the Benghazi consulate attack. We are to believe that the State Department just didn’t have the money for competent security!
The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy. . .
ASIDE: Oh, I get the hypocrisy all right. . . The New York Times is saying that it’s wrong to criticize security and also cut advocate cuts to spending on security, a surprising position given the NYT’s positions on the war in Iraq.
Of course, the NYT doesn’t mean a word of it. They just want this thing to go away. And they’re doing their part by keeping it off the front page, which was too much even for the NYT ombudsman.
The Congressional hearings on Benghazi resulted in major revelations, such as (1) contrary to the administration’s story, there was no protest at all before the attack, (2) Benghazi security relied on a local militia that hadn’t been paid in months, and (3) Washington wouldn’t even respond to requests for more security.
All this, and more, the NYT editors deemed insufficiently newsworthy: “I didn’t think there was anything significantly new in it,” and “There were six better stories.” Those better stories included Lance Armstrong (the lead story), taped phone calls at JPMorgan Chase, and a woman who died of meningitis.
Back when Benghazi looked like a negative for Romney, they weren’t so reticent. The editors who were “wary of the political nature of the hearing,” had no problem running a front page story attacking Mitt Romney’s remarks on Cairo and Benghazi.
It’s only news if it’s bad for Romney.
Barack Obama wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A laudable goal, perhaps, but his strategy for achieving that goal was for America to show weakness. The idea was that our weakness would set a good example for other countries to emulate. Obama’s critics said this was dangerous nonsense; weakness never breeds conciliation in our enemies, but aggression.
Well, we now know who was right. Sigh.
President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.
After first trying to stiff-arm the Daily Caller, ABC ultimately admitted that Obama attended. They then resorted to the standard response of a political organization: spin. They claimed that “nearly the entire Law Review” attended the wedding. However, the Daily Caller, pressing the point, found that that was implausible:
When pressed further on Tuesday for a specific number of Harvard Law Review employees in attendance at the wedding, [ABC Spokesman David] Ford could offer none, despite circulating the same unverified approximation . . .
Ford also could not provide The Daily Caller with a specific number of Harvard Law Review employees who worked with Obama and Genachowski during that year. A photo taken of the Harvard Law Review during Obama and Genachowski’s final year of law school contains 70 people.
It doesn’t seem very likely that they would invite 70 people from the law review to their wedding, does it?
My question is, what is the Commission on Presidential Debates about, anyway? This is supposed to be a bipartisan organization, but they can’t pick even a single moderator who is even a centrist, much less right of center.
After Obama’s drubbing in the first debate, David Axelrod begs for the media’s help:
And so today, as the day after, I think the question for you [the media], for the American people is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people and deception is the basis of trust on which you assign the presidency to a person.
So that is what we are going to focus on moving forward. We’re going to hold Governor Romney accountable for the things that he said last night and we’re going to make him justify those claims – as I hope you will make him justify those claims.
This would be pathetic, if it weren’t so likely to work.
POSTSCRIPT: By the way, notice Axelrod’s chutzpah here. Everyone who watched the debate now knows that Romney is nothing like the caricature in Obama’s attack ads. Clearly Romney is hiding the truth about himself.
(Via Jim Treacher.)
Does MSNBC have any standards at all? In their latest bit of creative reporting, they’ve been caught mis-subtitling a Romney event to make Romney seem vaguely pathetic. According to MSNBC, the crowd at a Romney-Ryan event were chanting “Ryan!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”
But, that’s not what happened. The crowds were chanting “Romney!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”
It’s hard to make out from the low-quality audio exactly what was being chanted. It clearly started with an R, but of course that doesn’t help. However, the reports from people who were there are unanimous that they chant was “Romney!” You might set aside the caller on the video, since we have no idea who that was. But there’s also BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins both in a BuzzFeed article and on Twitter. There’s National Review’s Byron York. Even the freaking New York Times reported it.
POSTSCRIPT: The video’s title refers to MSNBC “doctoring” a clip. I think that’s going a little far. They dishonestly mis-subtitled a clip, which isn’t quite the same thing.
Obama speaks to a campaign rally of 18,000 people, in an area that accommodates only 5,000. It turns out that the media uncritically repeats any count the Obama campaign gives them, without doing even the modicum of fact-checking that would show that the number is impossible.
This is a truly nasty pattern. Anything a Republican says is aggressively “fact-checked” (and usually ruled false even though it was true), while anything from Obama is accepted at face value. This has been going on for a long time.
I haven’t commented on Mitt Romney’s 47% “gaffe” because I don’t think it matters (and the tracking polls seem to bear this out), but there is one aspect of the matter that strikes me as interesting. Whenever Obama says something politically damaging, the legacy media always informs us that his words were taken out of context, even though that’s almost never true. On the other hand, in Romney’s they never say any such thing, even though the far-left magazine Mother Jones really did edit his remarks.
Once taken to task on this, Mother Jones released the whole video, sanctimoniously proclaiming:
Romney says we posted “snippets” & not full answers in the secret videos. Uh….no. See for yourself. The full tape: . . .
Except that it turns out they didn’t release the whole video. The “full tape” is missing an unknown amount of time (probably several minutes, based on changes in the lighting). Not only that, the missing material is from Romney’s 47%-don’t-pay-taxes remarks.
Despite their snarky “Uh….no”, their defense is simply untrue; they did not post the full remark.
It gets worse. Originally Mother Jones did not even acknowledge that the middle of the recording was missing. Once called on it, they inserted a disclosure:
Update: According to the source, the recording device was inadvertently turned off between these two segments. The source noticed quickly and began to re-record, resulting in an estimated a one-to-two minute loss of tape.
But it still gets worse: Even the belated disclosure seems to be untrue.
Recording devices are not designed to turn themselves off after 36 minutes and 39 seconds. If one does, it means that the device has somehow failed. Such a failure would nearly always be due to a dead battery, but it could be because of some sort of software error. In any case, you’re not going to fix the problem without picking up the device.
Yet somehow the person who illegally recorded the meeting was able to correct the problem without even touching the recorder. You can see this from an animated picture comparing the final frame of the first segment and the initial frame of the second, at the end of this post at Not Yet Europe. The camera’s positioning is essentially identical in both frames, with no more difference that one would expect from the waiter bumping the table.
I can imagine one way that this might legitimately happen: if the camera had a remote control. But it’s clear from the fussing and clattering at the start of the video that the source was not using a remote control. In any case, Mother Jones has not offered any such explanation.
It’s not entirely conclusive, but almost certainly the video was edited after-the-fact and someone is lying about it. We can’t know whether the liar is Mother Jones or their source, and it doesn’t really matter. Moreover, either way, Mother Jones certainly lied about releasing the full video. They did not.
If there’s one message we’re getting from the legacy media, it’s that Romney has blown this election. It’s all over, Obama has won, and we really all ought to stay home and accept that government will be running our lives from now on.
In the past, I’ve resisted the temptation to deny the polls are wrong. Basically, that strikes me as loser talk, and I don’t want to indulge in it. In a rout like 1996 or 2008, I’d rather just accept reality. But this election is different. If you look at most of the polls, they simply don’t reflect reality.
The thing is, pollsters don’t simply ask people who they will vote for and report the results. After polling, they reweight the results to some desired balance of Democrats, Republicans, and independents in the sample. That weight is not determined by polling; they simply make it up. And that weight is the single greatest factor in the result of the poll. So despite all the talk of scientific polls, they aren’t.
If they guess the turnout correctly, weighting makes the polls more accurate, but the weights that most polls are using are simply insane. In 2008, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the electorate by 7%. Anyone who thinks that the electorate is more Democratic now than in 2008 is just crazy, but most polls are overweighting Democrats by more than 7%, often even in double digits. Basically, they’re lying.
In fact, according to Rasmussen’s poll of party identification, Republicans actually outnumber Democrats by 4.3% now (37.6% Republican, 33.3% Democrats, 29.2% independent). That’s roughly a ten-point difference from the targets that most polls are using, which corresponds to roughly a ten-point swing in the polls. The website Unskewed Polls takes the major polls and reweights them with Rasmussen’s party numbers and finds that every one of them puts Romney ahead, by an average of 7.8 points.
Now I would caution against taking too much comfort in those numbers. I doubt that things are going that well. Rasmussen was the most accurate poll in 2008, and they have the race dead even. (Today they have Obama up by one.) We’re not where we want to be, but I think our chances are better than even.
The other reason I discount the polls that show Obama taking a big lead is they are completely at odds with the tracking polls. The great thing about tracking polls is they use the same methodology all the time, so even if you don’t believe their bottom-line result, they are effective at tracking movement. Here’s the Rasmussen tracking poll:
Except for a fleeting convention bump for Obama (nobody tells tall tales quite like Bill Clinton), the state of the race hasn’t moved much. Obama may have improved his standing by about 2 points.
And here’s the Gallup tracking poll for the last month, which has supposedly been a disaster for Romney:
All of Romney’s imaginary gaffes of the last month have amounted to essentially nothing.
So why are the media lying about the state of the race? Of course they want Obama to win, that’s a given, but how do they expect skewed polls to help make that happen? One theory is that they want to depress Romney voters into staying home. I’m skeptical of that theory. Here’s the problem: The polls today are gimmes; they can say whatever they want because there’s no benchmark to compare them against. The important poll for their credibility is the final poll before election day. Between now and then they have to de-skew their polls, and when they do, it’s going to look like a big shift toward Romney. That will help his turnout, not hurt it.
I think this is all about fundraising. No one wants to contribute to a losing cause, but everyone loves a winner. I think they are trying to depress Republican donors and — especially — to encourage Democratic ones. (Romney and his allies have much more money on hand than Obama.)
And sure enough, last night I accidentally watched about ten seconds of 60 minutes and what was Steve Kroft asking Romney about? How Romney can convince his donors that he hasn’t already lost the race.
(Via PJ Tatler.)
UPDATE: I’ve been reading elsewhere that, contrary to some accounts, most polls do not weight for targets for party identification. But then I don’t understand how they come up with such outlandish numbers. Even if we stipulated that Democrats somehow will increase their turnout from 2008 — despite Democrats’ lessened enthusiasm and despite the observed shift in party identification from Democratic to Republican — the number ought not be all over the map. If the skewed populations are not deliberate, then these polls have some fundamental methodological problem.
A very interesting poll result from Gallup:
Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.
The poll finds that 31% of independents and 26% of Republicans trust the media, compared with 58% of Democrats. The poll also finds that Republicans and independents, despite distrusting the media, pay much closer attention (48% and 39%) than do Democrats (33%).
It would be interesting if there were a way to tease out cause and effect. Do Republicans and independents come to distrust the media because they also listen to alternative sources that show how bad it is? Or is it that people who believe the media’s pro-Democrat line naturally become Democrats? I can see a role for both.
The Onion is lampooning the media:
Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama’s Double-Homicide
More than a week after President Barack Obama’s cold-blooded killing of a local couple, members of the American news media admitted Tuesday that they were still trying to find the best angle for covering the gruesome crime. . .
So far, the president’s double-homicide has not been covered by any major news outlets. The only two mentions of the heinous tragedy have been a 100-word blurb on the Associated Press wire and an obituary on page E7 of this week’s edition of the Lake County Examiner.
Still, they don’t quite nail it. They leave out the part where the media attack Romney for his gaffe of criticizing Obama’s murders.
At first I was too outraged to comment on the 9/11/2012 attacks against our embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi. Then it took time to write out how truly horrible the whole mess is. There are three different aspects of the story, each demanding a different sort of outrage at different people.
The first is the terrorists themselves. We now know that the attacks were planned in advance, and the street protests against an anti-Islam movie were merely a pretext. We also know that the diplomats in Libya were betrayed by Libyan security. (The story doesn’t make clear whether “Libyan security” refers to security forces of the Libyan government, or just Libyan nationals hired by the consulate.)
These people are evil, and they need to be destroyed. But there is little else to say on the matter. Despite all the promises of justice, we know that nothing will be done. The history of attacks against our embassies and consulates in such places as Tehran in 1979, Beirut in 1983, Tel Aviv in 1990, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, and Beijing in 1999, among others, shows clearly that attacks against our embassies will always be forgotten when pursuing justice is inconvenient.
But since those people are evil, we don’t expect any better of them. The same is not true of the pusillanimous fools at the US embassy in Cairo, who condemned the anti-Islam movie that the attackers used as their pretext. They reiterated the statement multiple times, and it was later echoed by the Secretary of State and by the President.
The embassy originally issued the statement before the attacks, and the attacks took place anyway, which demolishes any pragmatic defense that might be offered for their attempted appeasement. And as a matter of principle, their statement is a disaster:
Our entire message regarding any criticism leveled against Islam or anything else should be this: The United States government is not in the business of approving or disapproving anyone’s speech. This should not be hard!
Not only did the embassy’s statement give short shrift to the value of free speech, it was simply untrue. They said “we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions”. Well, no, actually you don’t!
We don’t condemn offense to Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals, or Orthodox Jews. Those people and their beliefs are insulted all the time. This is true every day, but especially during election season: Our president’s re-election campaign is running a whisper campaign targeting Mormons; attacking Catholicism gets you a prime-time slot at the Democratic convention; and our president famously denigrated Evangelicals and conservative Catholics as bitter clingers. No, it’s only Muslims whom it is forbidden to offend.
Moreover, there is nothing wrong with denigrating a religion (or all religions), at least as a general matter. We call that debating ideas! Religious ideas are important, and should be debated openly. To suggest that religious ideas, unlike others, are not worthy of open debate is simply demeaning.
On the film in question, I have no opinion. I have not seen it, nor have I seen the trailer. Many people who have seen the trailer say it doesn’t look very good. That does not matter one iota. Freedom of Speech is not limited to skilled craftsmen.
Finally there’s the Obama campaign and the press (who are one and the same). On the day after terrorists attack our embassy and consulate, killing our ambassador and three others, with Obama’s foreign policy lying in smouldering wreckage, Romney holds a press conference and these tools don’t ask about foreign policy. No, they want to talk about whether Romney committed a gaffe by criticizing the Embassy’s aforementioned craven statement:
It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
ASIDE: We actually get here a rare glimpse of how the press coordinates its anti-Republican message. On an open microphone we can hear reporters from NPR and CBS discussing how to phrase a question to make Romney look bad, and how to ensure that question gets asked no matter whom Romney calls on.
It’s true that Romney got one fact wrong: the Embassy first issued its apology before the embassy attack, not after. But since the Embassy reiterated its apology multiple times after the attack, that really makes no difference.
Beyond that, I honestly don’t understand what they see wrong with Romney’s statement. It can’t be that the Embassy’s statement was right. It was terrible for all the reasons I discussed above, but even if you don’t agree with a single word of that, the Obama administration itself also repudiated the Embassy’s statement:
The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.
It is suggested that he commented too soon; that by rushing to comment he missed the chance to adjust the tone for the murders that became public later. But that makes no sense. By that reasoning, you would never comment on anything, lest something else happen afterwards. Moreover, Romney’s statement wasn’t released from embargo until the Obama administration had already repudiated the Embassy’s statement.
It’s suggested that it was unfair for Romney to blame the Obama administration for the actions of the Cairo embassy. I find this maddening. These people refuse to hold President Obama accountable for any action of his administration. Our economic woes aren’t his fault. Trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels isn’t his fault. He apparently doesn’t even control his own administration’s policy toward Jerusalem.
ASIDE: Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is answerable for every stupid comment made by any Republican anywhere. He’s even somehow responsible for the death of a woman who is six degrees of separation from even a flimsy connection to Romney.
No. The Embassy is part of his administration. That doesn’t mean that every action is his personal responsibility, but it’s perfectly fair to refer to it as part of the “Obama administration”.
Finally, there’s the notion that Romney shouldn’t have weighed in at all. “Politics should end at the water’s edge.” “Playing politics while people are dying.” This is such a load of crap it’s awfully hard to take.
Perhaps politics should end at the water’s edge. But if it ever did, which I doubt (is there even a single example of Democrats ever supporting a war or military action initiated by a Republican president?), that notion was killed during the Reagan administration, and its corpse was dismembered during the Bush 43 administration.
The centerpiece of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign was opposition to the war in Iraq. And here’s Barack Obama attacking President Bush (and John McCain) for the conduct of the War on Terror, in which he explicitly cites a “brazen attack on a US base where nine servicemen were killed”:
(Via Hot Air.)
Clearly, this suggestion that one should refrain from criticizing the administration while people are dying overseas is completely disingenuous. Or perhaps they think it should only apply to Republicans.
What you have here is a disgusting display of appeasement, set against the backdrop of the complete failure of Obama’s policy toward the Muslim world. Obama said his inauguration would end the hostility of the Muslim world toward America. Instead, his weakness has exacerbated it. The media, in their role as praetorian guard for Obama’s image, naturally need to distract from that.
Their vigor in doing so has led them to coordinate at attack against Mitt Romney that makes no sense. And it has also led them to tell outright lies. On Thursday morning, I heard NPR try to isolate Romney from other Republicans, saying that other Republicans had refused to join Romney’s criticism. (This isn’t the story I heard, but late in the piece it makes the same allegation.)
This is grossly misleading on its face; they failed to note that a lot more information had come out since Romney and the White House issued their statements. Of course Congressional Republicans were going to be more circumspect. But it’s also an outright lie. At the very least, Senator Kyl (R-AZ), the number two Republican in the Senate, and Senator Blunt (R-MO) both echoed Romney’s criticism. I’m sure others did as well.
In short, we have a ruthless enemy determined to hurt us, a feckless and pusillanimous foreign service incapable of dealing with the threat, and a dishonest media determined — for narrow partisan reasons — to do all it can to obscure those facts. What a horrible, horrible affair.
UPDATE: Some have been defending the embassy, saying that its statement was not an apology. That’s actually true; it’s worse. An apology would identify with the society that permitted the video (which is to say, us). They were expressing solidarity with the Islamists.
UPDATE: Patterico says that CBS’s Jan Crawford (the one coordinating the Romney questions) is getting a bum rap. If so, she should explain herself.
UPDATE: The White House has refused to respond to calls for them to condemn a notorious anti-Christian “art” display. Well, it’s not like Christians are likely to attack any embassies.
The so-called fact-checkers, which is the to say the opinion police, seem to have finally gone too far. Their recent performance has been so egregious, at a time when people are paying close attention, that everyone on the right and many in the center are realizing that the “fact-checkers” are worse than worthless.
The latest is moderate Democrat Mickey Kaus, who counters the bogus fact-checks of Romney’s ad attacking Obama for gutting welfare reform. In truth, the ad is neither fact nor falsehood, but opinion. Moreover, it is opinion firmly grounded in fact. The “fact-checkers” who grade it false based on the administration’s counter-argument are (at best) being misled.
The fact-checkers cite Sebelius’s pledge to issue waivers only to states that get at least 20% more people off welfare. Kaus points out that (1) that pledge was issued only after Republicans starting attacking the new policy, and (2) the easiest way for states to attain that 20% “improvement” is to increase the number of people on welfare by about 20%, at which point simple math will provide the 20% increase in people getting back off welfare. So Sebelius’s pledge doesn’t improve the new policy — it may make it even worse.
Okay, first the chuckle. Obama was caught misspelling OHIO:
Then comes the media failure: The Washington Post quickly reported that the photo was a fake. (Down the memory hole now, but you can see a Washington Post tweet to that effect halfway down the page here.) That reporting was based on, apparently, nothing whatsoever. The Post later retracted.
What happened, it seems, is that the Obama campaign sent out a second photograph of him spelling the word correctly, and the Post reporter jumped to the conclusion that the first photograph must therefore have been fake. (Since no one ever respells a word correctly after making a mistake.) You can only make this kind of mistake when you’re in the tank.
Even after retracting, the reporters still held out the possibility that it might have been fake, writing “I don’t know if the first one is photoshopped.”
With the rise of bogus fact-checking, the New York Times laments that people aren’t listening any more:
But while there is arguably more fact-checking now than ever — and, thanks to the Web, more ways to independently check what candidates and campaigns say — verdicts that a campaign has crossed the line are often drowned out by dissent from its supporters, who take it upon themselves to check the checkers.
Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, said nonpartisan fact-checking groups now compete with ideologically motivated groups from both sides that consider their work to be checking facts as well. (The political campaigns also call some of their own news releases “fact-checks.”)
“The term ‘fact check’ can easily be devalued, as people throw it onto any sort of an opinion that they have,” Mr. Nyhan said. “The other problem is that the partisans who pay attention to politics are being conditioned to disregard the fact-checkers when their own side gets criticized.”
Internet Scofflaw rates this analysis “half true”. (See how easy that is?) Yes, fact-checking has been devalued as people throw onto it any sort of opinion they have; but no, there aren’t any competing nonpartisan fact-checkers.
And that’s the best part of the article. Then there’s this:
The cycle was on display at the Republican convention when Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, made a number of questionable or misleading claims in his speech. Even before he stopped speaking, some of his claims were being questioned on Twitter. Soon fact-checkers were highlighting some of the misleading statements. More partisan sites rushed to Mr. Ryan’s defense with posts finding fault with the first round of fact checks.
Internet Scofflaw rates this claim “mostly false”. Ryan did make claims in his speech that were “questionable”, in the sense that Democrats did in fact question them. But, as it turned out, all of the “fact-checks” either were not fact but argument, or were simply wrong. This claim gives the misleading impression that Ryan might have actually said something that was false.
And then there’s this but, which the article leads with:
Mitt Romney highlighted the nation’s dire unemployment crisis, its record number of home foreclosures and the rising national debt, and showed video of President Obama delivering this arresting remark: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
There was one problem: the quotation was taken so wildly out of context that it turned Mr. Obama’s actual meaning upside-down. The truncated clip came from a speech Mr. Obama gave in 2008 talking about his opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona. The full quotation? “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’ ”
It’s a fair point. But the New York Times and other so-called fact-checkers leave out the full context as well. In fact, Obama was lying in 2008 when he attributed the statement to the McCain campaign. The statement came from a story in the New York Daily News (a liberal tabloid), which quoted an anonymous source who they described as a “top McCain strategist” making the statement. Internet Scofflaw rates this reporting “mostly true” (although, to be fair, Politifact has gone full “pants on fire” for less).
Yahoo news’ Washington bureau chief (wait, Yahoo news still exists?!), David Chalian, was caught on an open mike saying Mitt and Ann Romney “are happy to have a party when black people drown”. Other unidentified people in the ABC News studio laughed.
Yahoo promptly fired him and apologized, but here’s the thing: Was this the first time he ever uttered such offensive anti-Republican sentiments? From my own extensive experience with offensive anti-Republicans I find it very, very unlikely. No, people who can talk that way are the people who do talk that way. Chalian, almost certainly, has been saying stuff like this for years. He was fired, not for what he said, but for getting caught.
It’s certainly not bias that’s a problem for the managers of the legacy media, and it’s not even apparent bias that’s a problem. It’s undeniable bias that will get you fired, because that hurts the facade of objectivity.
On the first night of the Republican convention, MSNBC cut away whenever a minority took the stage. (Taking the usual liberal definition in which Asians don’t count as minorities.) NBC did the same on their web site, simply leaving those speakers off their “Tuesday night’s RNC speeches” page.
Coincidence? No. Certainly they didn’t pick the most noteworthy speeches, or they wouldn’t have left out Mia Love. And the likelihood that they would have randomly picked exactly those speeches to omit on the web site alone is 1 in 792 (or 1:C(5,12)). Include MSBNC’s on-air slate and the improbability becomes astronomical.
Clearly, NBC wanted to convey the impression of a party that is all white or Asian. Put another way, NBC based its choice of which speakers to feature on their color of their skin.
Jon Cassidy’s long and detailed takedown of Politifact is impossible to excerpt, so I won’t try. But allot yourself 5-10 minutes and read it. It’s essential reading, especially if you’re still inclined to take Politifact seriously.
I will note one interesting historical point, though:
PolitiFact started off straight. As a partnership of Congressional Quarterly and the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times) formed in 2007, the outfit won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 election. The partnership dissolved shortly after when The Poynnter Institute – the parent company of both outfits – sold off CQ.
The Florida journalists carried on alone, and their liberal tendencies became more obvious as the “Pants on Fire” rulings piled up on one side.
I’m glad to hear that, because I recall believing at one time that Politifact was good for something. My first inkling that something was very wrong with them was in October 2009.
POSTSCRIPT: This is just another example, like the many Cassidy cites in his piece, but it is a particularly pungent one. Despite acknowledging that every fact in the ad is accurate, they nevertheless grade it false, because they think it conveys an impression that they deem inaccurate. You can faithfully abbreviate their entire analysis this way: “We rate the statement False, because it gives the inaccurate impression that Obamacare is not a good idea.”
This ABC article is the apotheosis of the new liberal fad of bogus fact-checking. It assembles a collection of counter-arguments to arguments made by Paul Ryan last night, and precedes each counter-argument with “THE FACTS”.
Moreover, their counter-arguments are quite feeble:
[Obama’s Medicare] cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers.
When doctors cut back on accepting Medicare patients, I’m sure Medicare recipients will be consoled that the cuts did not affect them “directly”.
Ryan himself asked for stimulus funds . . .
This is so stupid. When the federal government squanders billions of borrowed money, opponents are on the hook for the debt just as much as supporters. Of course they will look to get their share, even while preferring it wouldn’t happen at all.
The [Janesville GM] plant halted production in December 2008. . .
This is false. (Nice “fact-checking” guys!) Also it’s irrelevant to Ryan’s point. Much more here.
It’s true that Obama hasn’t heeded his [debt] commission’s recommendations, but Ryan’s not the best one to complain. He was a member of the commission and voted against its final report.
The final report called for keeping Obamacare, so of course he voted against it. But he based his bipartisan budget proposal on the non-Obamacare aspects of the report.
In short, the only one of ABC’s attacks that actually addresses the facts is wrong. The others are just liberal arguments prefixed by the phrase “THE FACTS”.
Oh good grief; the Politifact spin artists are saying that Paul Ryan’s story about the Janesville GM plant (Obama said he’d keep it open for 100 years, but it lasted less than one year) is false because: (1) it closed under Bush, and (2) Obama never promised he would keep it open anyway.
And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.
Okay, according to a very narrow reading, he never promised to keep it open, he only said that he believed that his policies would keep it open. That’s a pretty thin reed on which to call Ryan’s comment false.
Except it’s even worse than that. In fact, Ryan quoted him accurately:
Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, “I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years.”
Put in an ellipsis, and that’s a verbatim quote. Ryan did not misrepresent Obama at all, even in the utterly insubstantial way that Politifact suggests.
Moreover, Politifact’s shtick is various different grades of truth or falsehood. But they didn’t grade Ryan’s 100% accurate claim as “mostly true” or even “half true”; they go all the way to an unmodified “false”. Even if there were some wiggle room here for Politifact to work with, which I don’t see, there’s no way to get all the way to “false”. They’re lying; plain and simple.
UPDATE: Further, David Freddoso points out that Ryan never said the plant closed under Obama. That’s true, but since the plant actually did close under Obama, it’s not a critical point.
Also, the Obama campaign claims that the plant was “slated” to close during the Bush administration. If true, that wouldn’t change anything: Obama knew the plant was in trouble when he delivered his not-quite-a-promise, but a planned closure can be reversed if times improve and that was the hope he held out for Janesville. (Indeed, a idled plant can be re-opened.) But, moreover, depending on how you define “slated” (their whole argument is one of semantics), the claim isn’t even true. Although the plant had been on the chopping block for some time, its final closure was announced February 18, 2009.
What I really like is how the Leftist media is pretending it knows more about a GM plant in Paul Ryan’s HOMETOWN than Paul Ryan does.
UPDATE: MSNBC’s “fact-checker” Ezra Klein (who used to run a discussion group for journalists to coordinate the liberal spin in their reporting) offers this:
Ryan says it had not yet shut down Obama was elected, that Janesville was “about to” lose the factory at the time of the election. This is false, as Ryan knew in 2008 when he issued a statement bemoaning the plant’s closing.
Either Klein never read the page he linked to, or he hopes that no one clicks through. Anyone who did click through found that Ryan’s statement said this:
Following the announcement by General Motors that it planned to close its Janesville plant by 2010, U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Representative Paul Ryan sent a letter to General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider the decision. . .
(Emphasis mine.) Exactly as Ryan said — and Klein contradicts — the plant was going to close but hadn’t yet. Bogus “fact-checking” is a plague on our body politic, but Klein has invented a new genre: the self-refuting bogus fact-check. Bravo! (UPDATE: Ezra Klein demonstrates how not to correct your mistakes.)
UPDATE: Here’s GM:
Janesville was placed on standby capacity in May 2009 and will remain in that status.
(Via Phil Kerpen.)
UPDATE: I’ve been focusing on the outright lies, but it’s also worth taking a note of the misdirection. Obama and his media allies are complaining than Ryan is unfairly blaming Obama for the plant’s closure. That would be unfair, if Ryan had said that, but he didn’t. Everyone knows that GM has been in trouble for years, and no one blames Obama for GM’s woes in 2008-2009. (Post-bailout is another matter!)
Ryan’s point, with Obama and his allies are trying to obscure, is simply this: The Janesville plant was in trouble. Obama told the worried people of Janesville that his policies would fix the problem. They didn’t.
This is just one example — a personal example from Ryan’s home town — of how Obama promised a bright tomorrow (“hope and change”) but failed to deliver.
It’s valuable to get the particulars right, since the left is lying about the particulars, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the key point.
UPDATE: More here.
UPDATE: Dear ABC: when you correct the factual errors in your article, it’s good form to correct the headline too.
Since this is apparently not just Politifact’s hackery, but the entire left’s main attack on Ryan’s speech, I’ve changed the title.
UPDATE: It turns out that GM considered re-opening the plant, but did not, at a time when the government was running the show, so you actually can blame Obama for the plant remaining closed if you want to. Fine, but that’s not really the point. The point is that Obama said he could turn around the auto manufacturing industry so that Janesville and plants like it would stay open, and he failed.
Also, in case there’s still any confusion about when the plant closed, there’s this video from April 2009:
UPDATE: A detailed chronology here.
The New York Times ombudsman writes in his final column:
[T]he hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.
When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.
As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.
The idea that the NYT is even-handed in presidential elections is nonsense, but the rest seems right. It’s interesting that the Times’ ombudsmen consistently only admit this sort of thing on their way out.
The New York Times refuses to correct an unambiguous error:
The centerpiece of the photograph . . . shows a naked child, screaming in pain as she fled an aerial napalm attack near a village in South Vietnam. . . The Times described the image as “the aftermath of one of the thousands of bombings in the countryside by American planes: a group of terror-stricken children fleeing the scene, a girl in the middle of the group screaming and naked, her clothes incinerated by burning napalm.”
But as I pointed out in an email sent to the Times soon after the obituary was published, the aircraft that dropped the napalm wasn’t American; it was South Vietnamese.
The newspaper’s assistant obituary editor, Peter Keepnews, replied to me on May 22, stating in an email:
“You are correct that the bombing in question was conducted by the South Vietnamese Air Force. However, the obituary referred only to ‘American planes,’ and there does not seem to be any doubt that this plane was American –- a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, to be precise.”
As if the aircraft’s manufacturer were a crucial element in the napalm strike by the South Vietnamese.
UPDATE (8/29): The NYT belatedly, half-heartedly corrects. They stick with the it-was-an-American-plane-because-Americans-built-it argument, but at least they put the facts in front of the reader. Two-and-a-half weeks later.
Soledad O’Brien caught parroting Talking Points Memo:
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien was recently caught on screen looking at an article from a known left-wing website to assist her when debating Romney campaign senior adviser Barbara Comstock.
In screen grabs posted on Newsbusters.org [here], O’Brien, who was filling in Anderson Cooper, can be seen reading from a piece entitled “The Myth of Paul Ryan the Bipartisan Leader” as Comstock offers her response. The post, which was published just hours before the program began, appeared on the website Talking Points Memo.
In the old days CNN produced its own left-wing agitprop. It’s sad to see them reduced to this.
The New York Times unloads a nasty attack piece against Lolo Jones, the American woman who came in fourth in the 100m hurdles in London.
Judging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold. Still, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign.
ASIDE: Don’t people often pay attention to athletes for their off-the-field story, rather than their on-field performance? (If Geena Davis had made the Olympic archery team, do you think that she might have gotten some media attention?) Indeed, doesn’t NBC produce and market the Olympics on that basis at least as much as for the athletics alone?
Why does the New York Times hate Jones? This might explain it:
At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.
We’re used to this sort of thing in politics. There we understand that the New York Times has a reason to tear people down, and we’ve come to expect it. But Lolo Jones has no policy implications whatsoever. There’s only one reason for them to give Lolo Jones the hatchet-job treatment: they hate Christians.
(Via Tim Groseclose, who uses the piece as a case study in media bias.)
Politico must really admire the Obama administration. First, they made the mistake of trusting material issued by the White House. Then, when that material (ironically, a “fact check”) turned out to be entirely wrong, Politico corrected their error the same way as the White House did, by leaving the incorrect information in place and merely appending an update at the end where no one will see it.
Believing the White House is wishful thinking. Failing to correct it once you know their information is wrong is lying.
After a madman opened fire at a theater in Colorado, a week-and-a-half ago, ABC News quickly tried to tie the shooting to the Tea Party (auto-play video). If any reader isn’t familiar with the story already: reporter Brian Ross revealed that someone with the same not-at-all-unusual name as the shooter was involved with the Colorado Tea Party.
This wasn’t just Brian Ross’s calumny: ABC let him put that slander on the air, and George Stephanopoulos said nothing abot Ross’s too-weak-even-to-call-flimsy report.
Now ABC has apologized, but if they want us to believe that this was a good-faith error, as they claim, they need to explain how it happened. Stephanopoulos claims that the network has been transparent, but they’ve been nothing of the sort. As it stands, if looks as though someone typed “James Holmes tea party” into Google.
Indeed, we on the right are quite used to this. They always try to blame us for any high-profile violence.
Here’s the White House “fact check”:
Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”
In case these news reports are not enough for Mr. Krauthammer and others, here’s a picture of the President showing off the Churchill bust to Prime Minister Cameron when he visited the White House residence in 2010.
Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.
The bust of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein was uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush, from the Government Art Collection in the wake of 9/11 as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship.
It was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009.
The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned. It is on display at the Ambassador’s Residence.
So what gives? Tapper learned that there were actually two busts of Churchill. One was given to the White House during the Johnson administration; the other was lent during the Bush administration. The former has been in the residence all along (it was not moved there); the second was in the Oval Office and has been returned.
So the “ridiculous”, “ridiculous”, “100% false”, “patently false”, “debunked” “rumor” that Obama returned the bust is entirely true. It’s the White House’s statement that the bust was moved to the residence that is patently false.
ASIDE: An AP “Fact Check” column from last year reporting that Mike Huckabee “failed to note” the Obama moved the bust to the resident was also false. Nice fact checking. The National Journal story the White House cites is behind a paywall, so I can’t check what it actually says.
The nuance to catch here isn’t just that the White House was wrong, but the level of disdain and mockery they employed in their false debunking.
The White House later issued an update (presumably after Tapper’s reporting):
Since my post on the fact that the bust of Winston Churchill has remained on display in the White House, despite assertions to the contrary, I have received a bunch of questions — so let me provide some additional info.
[He confirms every particular reported by Tapper.]
On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.
Note here the complete lack of any embarrassment for the false statements in the original post. Nor has the White House corrected any of those false statements other than by adding a contradictory update to the end. Nor is the existence of an update even noted at the top of the post.
Worse still, they maintain that Krauhammer was somehow wrong (“completely false”, circulating an “urban legend”), despite the niggling detail that he was right.
The only disputable fact is the reason that the bust was returned. The White House claims that the return of the art is standard practice. Perhaps, but one has to suspect that the British government would have been happy to let Obama keep the bust as a symbol of the transatlantic relationship, had Obama been willing to do so.
In fact, we needn’t speculate. Recall the British statement:
The new President has decided not to continue this loan and the bust has now been returned.
To sum up: The White House statement, which accused Krauthammer of being wrong at least eight times, is false in every particular, while Krauthammer is right.
POSTSCRIPT: The Krauthammer column is well-worth reading, by the way. It recounts several instances of this administration’s disdain for our allies, most of which are much more substantial than the bust issue.
UPDATE: Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director, apologizes. They still haven’t corrected their erroneous post, though. And they still maintain that it wasn’t their choice to return the bust.
There’s still something left to remark on though. Pfeiffer says:
A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation.
Well, okay. Alternatively, one might employ a general rule of thumb that when the British government makes an official statement, one oughtn’t call it “ridiculous” without checking first. Failing to do so might give people the impression that you don’t respect our most important ally.
The left can’t seem to settle on a straight story explaining exactly what is deceptive about attacks on Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech. Here’s ABC’s effort:
Republicans have seized on the line “you didn’t build that” to falsely claim that Obama was speaking directly to business owners about their businesses.
They’re deceptive because Obama wasn’t directly addressing business owners?! Lame. I thought ABC was capable of better spin than this.
If a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, the New York Times’s editors must be great minds indeed. Yesterday:
A Pointless Partisan Fight
The political feud between the White House and Congressional Republicans has now culminated in a House oversight committee vote to cite Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for criminal contempt. His supposed crime is failing to hand over some documents in an investigation of a botched gunrunning sting operation known as “Fast and Furious.” The Republicans shamelessly turned what should be a routine matter into a pointless constitutional confrontation.
But in 2007, the Times saw matters a little differently:
Defying the Imperial Presidency
The House Judiciary Committee did its duty yesterday, voting to cite Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, for contempt. The Bush administration has been acting lawlessly in refusing to hand over information that Congress needs to carry out its responsibility to oversee the executive branch and investigate its actions when needed. If the White House continues its obstruction, Congress should use all of the contempt powers at its disposal.
POSTSCRIPT: The Times is also being dishonest when it describes Fast and Furious as a “sting operation”. It wasn’t a sting, even a botched one, as there was never any intention to sting anyone. They were simply trafficking money and weapons to drug cartels, for reasons that have never been explained.
(Via Byron York.)
I can’t help noticing the complete absence of two words on the New York Times home page at this hour: “executive” and “privilege”.
MSNBC wants to make this Mitt Romney’s visit to Wawa (a convenience store chain) into his supermarket scanner moment (referring to the apocryphal incident in which President Bush Sr. was impressed by a supermarket scanner):
- First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being impressed by a well-run business, and (from what I hear) they do run a good operation. In fact, I seem to recall Mitt Romney in particular having an affection for well-run businesses.
- Second, this whole attack is a lie, Romney wasn’t amazed by the Wawa operation, as becomes clear when you watch his speech without the MSBNC edits (cue to 2:10):
Romney was contrasting the incompetence of the government (exemplified by a 33-page change of address form) with the effectiveness of the private sector (exemplified by Wawa). They actually cut him off mid-sentence: “Touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich. It’s amazing: [MSNBC ends here] people in the private sector learn how to compete; it’s time to bring some competition to the federal government!” Then they glue that together with some other stuff about WaWa from elsewhere in his speech, and voila, you have an ode to Wawa that Romney never gave.
- Third, Bush Sr. never had a supermarket-scanner moment either. No matter how vividly some journalists claim to remember it, it’s a myth. It never happened.
Don’t believe anything you see or hear from the legacy media. Any reporting they do anymore is incidental; their main job is to lie to you.
POSTSCRIPT: On a completely different note, there’s something I noticed in watching Romney’s stump speech: just how good-natured it is. This guy has a positive outlook on America. When was the last time President Obama delivered a positive speech about America. Has he ever? I haven’t seen it. Obama, at best, likes what he thinks America could be, not what America is.
(Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: The chain is named “Wawa”, not “WaWa”. I’ve corrected accordingly.
Lauren Skowronski, a spokeswoman for NBC, which owns MSNBC, denied that any deceptive editing took place. “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers,” Skowronski said.
Oh, is that the standard now? You can edit however you want as long as you don’t take anything out of order? I guess this is fair, then:
“MSNBC did . . . intend to deceive our viewers,” Skowronski said.
Gawker laments the fact that a hacker who broke into Mitt Romney’s Hotmail account failed to release Romney’s emails.
POSTSCRIPT: As we’ve seen countless times before, the hacker guessed the answers to the “security questions”. Why do they still have those?! They should call them “insecurity questions”.
I think that most Republicans going on MSNBC know what they are getting into. But when they buck the anti-Romney narrative, I don’t think they expect MSNBC to mute their mike and insult them on-air.
Fine; it’s their air to do with as they please. But they still shouldn’t lie. Host Tamron Hall said Carney went off the agreed topics:
You knew the topics we were going to discuss, you agreed to come on the show.
Indeed he did, and the topics were:
Panel: Tim Carney and Jimmy Williams
Romney’s haunted by high school memories
Does the story matter? Will it hurt Romney
(Emphasis mine.) The bogosity of the story is squarely in the range of topics he was invited to discuss. Hall lied.
BONUS: Hall’s parting shot was:
I greatly appreciate you [Williams] joining me. I would do the same for Tim but we have to be able to have conversations and not do hit jobs when we know we’re guests on the show.
That’s pretty amazing, since she cut off the conversation when he interfered with her hit job.
For some reason, Democrats and their enablers in the legacy media don’t want you to believe that light bulbs are banned, and engage in amazing hair-splitting to deny the fact. For example:
Opponents often describe the standards as a “lightbulb ban,” arguing that the rules would greatly restrict consumer choice by pushing out traditional incandescent bulbs in favor of more expensive, but more efficient, LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs.
But the standards do not ban incandescent bulbs. They instead require them to be more efficient. While more efficient lightbulbs are often more expensive at the point of sale, experts note they save consumers money on their electricity bills over the long term.
Take that, straw man! No one contests the proposition that high-efficiency lighting saves money in the long run. People like incandescent bulbs because of the quality of their light. So, do high-efficiency incandescent bulbs generate the same quality light as traditional light bulbs?
If you’ve ever used a high-efficiency incandescent bulb, you know the answer is no. The light is colder and harsher, not so much as a fluorescent bulb, but visibly more so than a traditional bulb.
Moreover, this is what you would expect from the physics. Different physical processes tend to generate different spectra. Scientists often use those spectra to identify things that they cannot observe directly. We don’t know how to craft a made-to-order spectrum, at least not inexpensively. So if you change the process to generate less heat, you’re almost certainly going to change the spectrum.
Wow: A Quinnipiac poll finds that Hispanics are split almost evenly on Arizona’s SB 1070 (the controversial anti-illegal-immigration law), 49% against and 47% in favor.
I’ve heard people claim that most Hispanics oppose illegal immigration because illegal immigrants steal their jobs, but I had trouble believing it. It was too much at odds with the picture painted by the media. But it turns out to be true, or very nearly so.
It’s a valuable reminder not to believe what the media tells you.
If you try to load a non-existent page on the Politifact web site, this is how it signals the 404:
In a political context, it’s hard to see an Etch-a-sketch as anything other than a thinly veiled jab at the Romney campaign.
Politifact’s pretense as a neutral arbiter of truth in politics is growing more threadbare with each new hatchet job, but this still seems awfully blatant.
CNN says the Obama-eats-dogs story came from the Romney campaign. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but it’s not true. The story came from Jim Treacher, a blogger with the Daily Caller.
However, I’ll bet that Romney would be more than happy to answer everything on the Daily Caller, if Obama is answerable for everything on the Huffington Post.
(Via Jim Geraghty.)
The Hill says:
Nearly 70 percent of all guns found in Mexico came from the U.S. over the past four years, according to data released by the federal government on Thursday.
Simply untrue. The data say no such thing. The data say that 70% of the guns that Mexico submitted to US authorities for tracing came from the United States. Since Mexico only does so with guns that it already believes are from the United States, this statistic says almost nothing.
(Via the Corner.)
The Guardian de-corrects:
The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”
In point of fact, Israel’s capital is in Jerusalem. All the branches of Israel’s government are headquartered there. But for ideological reasons, the Guardian doesn’t want Israel’s capital to be in Jerusalem, so they report that the capital is in some other city where in fact it isn’t. Simply bizarre.
(Via the Corner.)
Ezra Klein explains to us in the Washington Post that the reason we won’t have a budget again this year is because those dirty Republicans wouldn’t just sign on to Conrad’s (D-ND) plan. Those jerks insisted on debating the plan and offering amendments. What do they think they’re doing?!
I want to take the occasion of Tina Brown’s (editor of the Daily Beast and its new subsidiary, Newsweek) latest attack on the late Andrew Breitbart to set the record straight. First, what Brown said:
Breitbart didn’t report anything. What Breitbart did, really, was he was a provocateur. He was a death by 1,000 tweets. He was, you know, quite happy to take the flying sound bite – any sound bite – and misapply it in its context and create an absolute mayhem for the person concerned like he did for poor Shirley Sherrod who was the obscure official in the Agriculture Department. He gave the impression by the cutting of her words in a tape that he released that she was giving racially motivated financing decisions when she was doing the opposite.
This is a complete lie. The left has had great success in promulgating this lie, but there’s not a word of truth in it.
Breitbart’s original article has disappeared from the site, but you can find it on the Wayback Machine. The archive’s first capture of the article is here. The text contains the context of Sherrod’s remarks in every particular:
In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.
To reiterate: It’s an lie to say that Breitbart was trying to hide the context; he made the context completely clear. The video — the infamous “edited video” — similarly carried all these details.
In fact, Shirley Sherrod was never Breitbart’s target. Sherrod was not so obscure as Brown suggests (she was actually a lightning rod for criticism, which is why the Obama administration was so eager to get rid of her), but Breitbart didn’t care about her. He was attacking the NAACP:
We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. . . Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.
The NAACP had just condemned the Tea Party as racist, and Breitbart was demonstrating that the NAACP — or at least its members at the meeting in Georgia — were the real racists. The fact that Sherrod had a moral epiphany by the end is a defense for Sherrod, but not for the NAACP, who cheered her reluctance to help the white farmer without knowing the end of the story.
The Obama administration quickly fired Sherrod, in part because they were glad of an excuse to be rid of her, but mostly to change the subject. The NAACP, unlike Sherrod, was valuable, and they needed to put the focus somewhere else.
This story is being used to tarnish the legacy of a great man, and it needs to be set straight.
CNN is reporting this comment by Ted Nugent as a death threat:
If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.
CNN excises all the context for this comment, and invites the viewer to believe that Nugent is threatening to try to assassinate the president. But there’s nothing of that in what Nugent actually said.
Nugent was saying that, if re-elected, President Obama would confiscate everyone’s guns. When the agents came for his (Nugent’s), he would refuse to give them up. Afterward, he would either be dead or in jail.
It’s hyperbolic, but he’s not threatening anyone. Suggesting otherwise is pure slander.
UPDATE: The always-absurd Debbie Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t disappoint:
U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Convention, responded earlier this week, saying “threatening violence – or whatever it is that Nugent’s threatening – is clearly beyond the pale.”
To paraphrase: “I don’t really know what he meant, but I’m sure it was beyond the pale.” Awesome.
Esquire gets the facts of the Cornhusker Kickback wrong:
Thanks [Ann Althouse] for the link, but, seriously, I know there are better things to do in Wisconsin than to be this publicly dim. . .
But this part is seriously hilarious.
We know that the Cornhusker kickback — AKA the Nebraska Compromise — was a deal made by Harry Reid to get the vote of Senator Ben Nelson, the last hold-out among the Democrats. The state of Nebraska got 100% funding for Medicaid, unlike all the other states, so that extra funding to Nebraska approaches vote-buying.
Actually, what we know is that the “Cornhusker kickback” — a rightwing term of art — is not in the Affordable Care Act at all. Scalia was repeating something he heard on his radio or on his TV. It was eliminated before the bill passed. So Scalia was constructing his “hypothetical” around something that is no more part of the ACA than the public option is. He’s just not trying very hard anymore. Neither, apparently, are many of his defenders.
What’s great about this is the height of smugness that this Esquire columnist achieves while getting the facts completely wrong.
In fact, the Cornhusker Kickback was not eliminated before the bill passed. It was part of the Senate bill that the Democrats were not able to amend because Scott Brown has been elected. As a result, the House had to pass precisely the Senate bill. The House also passed a second bill (the “reconciliation sidecar” it was called) that removed the Cornhusker Kickback and some other provisions unpalatable to House Democrats (such as taxes on high value health plans favored by unions). The second bill passed the Senate under reconciliation (so only fifty-one votes were required) and amended the first bill.
Moreover, every single thing that Althouse wrote in that quote was accurate: The Kickback was a deal made between Reid and Nelson to buy Nelson’s vote, and it would have given Nebraska 100% funding for Medicaid.
The only reason the Kickback isn’t part of the law now is it was so outrageous that Democrats had to repeal it. Nevertheless, less-publicized special provisions for at least five other states are still in the law.
When you mock someone’s command of the facts, you would do well to get the facts straight yourself.
POSTSCRIPT: If I wanted to be smug, I would also correct his use of the phrase “term of art”, but I’ll let that go.
To the Washington Post’s “fact-checker” column, a statement that is indisputably true can still be false, if it is cited as part of an argument that it only imperfectly supports.
A few days ago, it was the Romney campaign’s statement that 90% of the 740k jobs lost under President Obama were held by women. The statistic is true, but it’s still somehow false (they actually said “true but false”!) because, er, well, um, it might not really be Obama’s fault.
In the latest example, the Post admits that Romney’s statement that Obama has added nearly 150,000 thousand federal employees is true, but says that the statement is somehow still false (“significant omissions and/or exaggerations”) because it was cited while on the topic of Obama’s legion of new regulators and not all of those 150k employees were regulators.
You see how this works? You want to cite the number of new regulators. There are tons of them (thousands from Obamacare alone), but it’s hard to come up with a precise number. You could try to estimate it, but then the “fact-checker” would quibble with your numbers and call you a liar. So instead you cite a statistic that is apposite (that two numbers are certainly correlated) and indisputable, but you still get called a liar because the figure only imperfectly supports your thesis.
Good lord, can you imagine if that standard were applied evenly? How often does the left cite facts that only imperfectly support their argument (if at all)? Essentially everything they say fits into that category:
A small fraction of Americans have trouble getting affordable health insurance, therefore we must nationalize the health insurance industry. A woman claims to spend over $1000 per year on contraception, therefore Catholics must be forced to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients. Warren Buffett masterfully exploits tax shelters, therefore we must leave the tax shelters in place but hike the top tax rate that Buffett isn’t paying anyway.
(Via Don Surber.)
The press usually doesn’t admit to this sort of thing:
Washington Post columnist Patrick Pexton made a rather startling admission in the paper’s Sunday edition:
The Post never meant for their recent story about how President Obama’s health care law expands the budget deficit to become a viral Internet sensation. In fact, they deliberately tried to bury the story.
Putting the story (inside the paper) on A3 was the right judgment for a print publication. (Story author Lori) Montgomery urged her editors, correctly, not to put it on the front page: it wasn’t worth that.
The story in question was titled “Health care law will add $340 billion to deficit, new study finds.” It pointed out that the administration had double-counted Medicare savings in the law and once you adjusted for that it added to the deficit rather than reducing it, as the White House has claimed. . .
Pexton, the Post’s resident ombudsman . . . admits that they are ambivalent about this success, calling story’s popularity a reflection of our “our reactive, partisan, hyperventilating media culture.”
A study has found that the government’s rigged estimates were rosy by half a trillion dollars, and to the Washington Post, that’s not news.
Pexton tried hard to make the case that the story was worth being buried, arguing that various official reports undermine the independent study, but he’s very selective about the evidence he is willing to admit:
- He quotes the official CBO scoring, without mentioning that the head of the CBO himself criticized the official rules, and that said Obamacare worsens our fiscal outlook.
- He doesn’t mention that the CBO scoring was reverse-engineered by matching ten years of revenue against four years of cost, so merely the passing of time has been sufficient to explode its cost.
- He doesn’t mention that the CBO scoring is obsolete because of the failure of the CLASS act.
- He doesn’t mention that Obamacare’s subsidy costs have risen 30% since the law was enacted.
- He mentions the Medicare Actuary, but unaccountably fails to mention the Medicare Actuary’s finding that Obamacare dramatically underestimates costs, among other criticisms.
Even the official referees say that the CBO score was inaccurate, including the score’s own author. But the Post doesn’t want you to know that.
There is no “war on women”, except as just one front in President Obama’s war on nearly everyone (women, men, catholics, jews, evangelicals, children, the elderly, rich people, people who want to be rich, automobile drivers, automobile bondholders, medical companies that didn’t support Obama enough, medical companies that did support Obama enough (suckers!), Alaskans, Louisianans, gun owners, would-be gun owners, ISPs, people who want the lights to come on quickly, etc.).
But since the Democrats have proclaimed it a war, let’s look at some facts:
- Over 90% of the 740k jobs lost since Obama came into office were held by women. (The Democratic apologists at the Washington Post and at Politifact both acknowledge that the statistic, used by the Romney campaign, is accurate, but still say it’s somehow false, which underscores just how damaging it is.)
- Top Democratic women have reportedly called the Obama White House a hostile environment for women. Female staffers have complained about being frozen out. Female White House employees are paid 18% less than men. And this guy is still there.
- The North Carolina Democratic Party paid hush money to keep a sexual harassment scandal quiet. (UPDATE: NC Governor Perdue, a Democrat, told a reporter asking about the scandal “Get over it.”)
- Obama surrogate Hilary Rosen attacked stay-at-home moms saying that Ann Romney (who raised five boys) “never worked a day in her life”. Democrats have since tried to distance themselves from her, but Rosen works for the consulting firm that contracts with the DNC and has visited the White House at least 35 times. (For comparison, that’s about as many visits at Timothy Geithner and three times as many as Leon Panetta.)
- Other Democrats didn’t get the memo to lay off and joined in the attack, like the president of the National Organization for Women and the execrable Bill Maher.
- Even Barack Obama joined the attack against stay-at-home moms in a more subtle way. Trying to turn it into a class-warfare talking point, Obama said that they “didn’t have the luxury for [Michelle] not to work.” In 2005, the Obamas made $479,062.
Now the Democrats claim that they never accused Republicans of waging a war against women. To make that work, you have to discount Joe Biden, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Benjamin Cardin, MoveOn.org, MSNBC, James Carville, Talking Points Memo, Emily’s List, NARAL, and at least seven other Democratic representatives.
I’ve resisted commenting on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida because I don’t know what really happened. With all the contradictory statements being made, I’d rather let the justice system sort things out. I certainly don’t trust the media to sort things out, and here’s a good example of why:
This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
That sounds pretty damning. Clearly Zimmerman was racially motivated.
Except that’s not what he said. This is what he actually said:
ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
911 OPERATOR: Okay. And this guy, is he white black or Hispanic?
ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.
NBC deleted Zimmerman’s expressed reasons for suspecting Martin was “up to no good”, and also deleted the 911 operator’s direct question about Martin’s race, which Zimmerman answered. Their dishonest editing completely changed the exchange from one with no racial bias whatsoever into one with a clear bias. Put more simply, NBC lied.
ASIDE: It’s possible that Zimmerman’s motive was racial nonetheless. I can’t claim to know. But the 911 tape is not evidence of it.
NBC reportedly has launched an internal investigation into the matter. These things usually end in a whitewash, but we’ll see.
UPDATE: As predicted:
During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.
That is the full statement. NBC lies in order to further inflame racial tensions in an already tense racial controversy, and all we get is “oops, sorry”. No apology at all to the man they slandered. No disciplinary action.
Through his, even more than through the original offense, NBC shows that the truth is just not a priority.
Also, Richard Epstein comments on NBC’s non-apology.
UPDATE: Talk Left discovers that the Today piece was the second time that NBC aired the dishonest edit. Also, NBC’s Miami affiliate made the dishonest edit several times on their website (and presumably on the air as well), in articles that are still posted (for example). All of which seems to deny NBC their “one guy made a mistake” defense. (Via Instapundit.)
UPDATE: Tom Maguire isn’t letting go.
Big Journalism’s observation that the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column rewrote an column to make it much kinder to the Obama administration has been getting some attention. The column looked at the administration’s defense of its reams of new regulations, originally finding it quite bogus (“three Pinocchios”). Then the column was rewritten to remove the most cutting observations and downgrades it to the lowest rating (“one Pinocchios”). (Via Instapundit.)
Among the facts that were deleted in the rewrite is this one: When comparing the number of pages of regulations between the Bush and Obama administration, “that number doesn’t clarify whose rules have a larger negative impact.”
Obviously, the number of pages of rules gives only a very rough estimate of their impact. (Moreover, other deleted facts called into question whether even the page count comparison was accurate.) The cost-benefit analysis is much more telling.
As it happens, the Economist had an article (subscription required) last month about the questionable calculations that the Obama administration has been making to improve its cost-benefit justification. It turns out that when the administration quotes the benefits of its regulation, almost none of the claimed benefit is the direct result of the regulation:
IN DECEMBER Barack Obama trumpeted a new standard for mercury emissions from power plants. The rule, he boasted, would prevent thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma cases. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reckoned these benefits were worth up to $90 billion a year, far above their $10 billion-a-year cost. Mr Obama took a swipe at past administrations for not implementing this “common-sense, cost-effective standard”.
A casual listener would have assumed that all these benefits came from reduced mercury. In fact, reduced mercury explained none of the purported future reduction in deaths, heart attacks and asthma, and less than 0.01% of the monetary benefits.
Less than one-hundredth of one percent of the claimed monetary benefits, and no health benefits at all!
So how does the administration get from zero to $90 billion? In two ways. The first is “co-benefits”: the incidental benefit that happens to take place as a secondary effect of the regulation:
Instead, almost all the benefits came from concomitant reductions in a pollutant that was not the principal target of the rule: namely, fine particles.
So the entire benefit of the mercury reduction rules comes from the incidental reduction of an entirely different pollutant that might also take place when the rules went into effect. Clearly:
If reducing fine particles is so beneficial, it would surely be more transparent and efficient to target them directly.
The Economist goes on to note that the administration’s calculation of the benefit of reducing fine particles is completely speculative.
The second way that the administration conjures regulatory benefits out of thin air is “private benefits”:
Economists typically justify regulation when private market participants . . . generate costs—such as pollution—that the rest of society has to bear. But fuel and energy-efficiency regulations are now being justified not by such social benefits, but by private benefits like reduced spending on fuel and electricity. Private benefits have long been used in cost-benefit analysis but Ms Dudley’s data show that, like co-benefits, their importance has grown dramatically under Mr Obama.
They are helping us by making us spend our own money more wisely than we otherwise would. (Thanks guys!) As the Economist observes:
The values placed on such private benefits are highly suspect. If consumers were really better off with more efficient cars or appliances, they would buy them without a prod from government. The fact that they don’t means they put little value on money saved in the future, or simply prefer other features more.
In short, the entire benefit of Obama’s regulations are either dubious secondary benefits or unwanted private benefits.
The New York Times celebrates a murder-suicide. After 55 years of marriage, Adrienne Snelling came down with Alzheimer’s, and five years later her husband killer her, and then himself. The New York Times thinks that’s just great.
There’s no better weather-vane for liberal opinion than the New York Times. That’s the sort of people that President Obama will hire (if he gets the chance) to make life-and-death medical decisions for our elderly: ones who believe that sick, old people are better off dead. But at least they will never be called death panels.
MSNBC’s Karen Finney blames the Trayvon Martin shooting on Charles and David Koch. How? Well, the Kochs were responsible for Florida’s new self-defense law, and the new law was responsible for the shooting.
Neither of these statements is true. The second is absurd, but lies in the realm of (offensive) opinion. The first, however, is simply incorrect, as Koch Industries explains:
Because we saw this dishonest story line developing and were concerned other extremists would pick it up, we put out a public statement the day before Ms. Finney’s rant explaining that this story line was totally false and irresponsible. First, Koch has had no involvement in this legislation. We have had no discussions with anyone at ALEC, the legislative policy group at issue, about the matter either. In fact, the only lobbying on firearms issues we have ever undertaken in Florida was in opposition to the National Rifle Association’s support for a bill that mandated employers must allow employees to bring firearms onto company property.
MSNBC is making stuff up from whole cloth in order to blame a troubling incident on two people who had nothing whatsoever to do with it. If you believe anything you see on MSNBC, you’re a sucker.
UPDATE (4/20): After weeks of stonewalling, MSNBC has decided to do nothing at all to correct this. One wonders what took them so long.
When the press published a story about Malia Obama’s spring break in Mexico, the White House asked them to pull the story. Amazingly, the press agreed to do so. Politico even pulled a story about how the media was pulling stories (it’s back now).
I can understand the Obama family wanting the press to leave Malia alone (although the idea that it’s a security risk seems like a crock). I have much more trouble understanding why the press would go along with pulling an accurate story that was already published. Do they ever do such things?
This American Life has retracted its story on abuse of workers at a factory in China that assembles Apple products:
The public radio show This American Life has retracted an entire storyline told by comedian and self-described Apple fanboy Mike Daisey that aired in early January after Daisey’s translator said he made up significant details of the tale. . .
The China correspondent for the radio show Marketplace, Rob Schmitz, wrote that he decided to track down Daisey’s translator after he found it suspicious for Daisey to ferret out some of the worst labor abuses reporters have been hunting for years in a six-day trip to the site. Translator Cathy Lee told Schmitz that she never saw the underaged or poisoned workers, and that she also never saw armed factory guards, which Daisey describes.
As is often the case in this kind of story, the producers failed to uphold their own standards:
So why didn’t This American Life talk to Cathy Lee earlier, before they aired the episode? In a press release, the show says Daisey told them he lost her cell phone number. “At that point, we should’ve killed the story,” show host Ira Glass said in the release.
This should remind us that we cannot rely on the media’s self-proclaimed standards. They will drop those standards in a heartbeat if they stand in the way of a good story.
POSTSCRIPT: The list of Daisey’s lies is pretty impressive, but Daisey is stand by the old “fake but accurate” line:
Daisey, however, stands by his original storyline. “It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity,” Daisey said on his blog. On the show, he struck a more contrite note. “I’m not going to say that I didn’t take a few shortcuts in my passion to be heard,” Daisey says, according to the press release. “My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”
UPDATE: I forgot to add: someone brought up the This American Life piece at a meeting at work, before it was revealed as a fraud. It didn’t take us long to conclude that the story was implausible. A little critical thinking helps, people . . .
James O’Keefe brought down ACORN, exposed PBS’s hatred of the Tea Party movement, found fraud and waste at the Census Bureau, and lately has been showing how easy voter fraud is. To put it mildly, the left doesn’t like him very much.
But that doesn’t give them the right to lie about him. David Shuster and Keith Olbermann, who appear on Al Gore’s no-audience cable channel, described him as a convicted felon who is facing rape charges. Neither allegation is true. O’Keefe is not a convicted felon, and is not facing rape charges, or any other charges for that matter. He was accused of a felony when he brought hidden cameras into Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office, but was exonerated. And what Shuster and Olbermann describe as a rape charge was merely a harassment charge based on an accusation that O’Keefe said mean things on the phone and Internet, and that charge was dismissed for lack of evidence.
O’Keefe is suing for defamation. Defamation charges involving a public figure are awfully hard to prove in court, but since Shuster and Olbermann surely knew the facts when they made their slanders, I think he might have a case.
That brings us to The Atlantic, which (like nearly everyone) has higher journalistic standards than Current TV, but also defamed O’Keefe in reporting on how Shuster and Olbermann defamed O’Keefe. The Atlantic reported that O’Keefe “pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor ‘with the intent to commit a felony'”. It’s not true. In fact, the prosecutors conceded the opposite in court, that he had no intent to commit a felony:
In this case further investigation did not uncover evidence that the defendants intended to commit any felony. . .
The only reason O’Keefe has a criminal record at all is it turns out that it’s illegal to run a hidden camera investigation on federal property. His only mistake was not seeking legal advice before trying to get Landrieu’s staff on camera lying about their phones.
An amusing display of ignorance, as CNN talking head Soledad O’Brien argues with Breitbart.com editor-in-chief Joel Pollak over the meaning of “critical race theory”:
POLLAK: Derrick Bell is the Jeremiah Wright of academia. He passed away last year, but during his lifetime, he developed a theory called critical race theory, which holds that the civil rights movement was a sham and that white supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown.
O’BRIEN [interrupting]: So, that is a complete misreading. I’ll stop you there for a second then I’m going to let you continue. But that is a complete misreading of critical race theory. As you know that’s an actual theory. You could Google it and some would give you a good definition of it. So that’s not correct. But keep going.
POLLAK: In what way is it a critical misreading? Can you explain to me? Do you know what critical … Explain to your readers critical race theory is.
O’BRIEN: I’m going to ask you to continue on. I’m just going to point out that that is inaccurate. Keep going. Tell me what the bombshell is. I haven’t seen it yet.
POLLAK: Well wait a minute. You’ve made a claim … You’ve made a claim that my characterization of critical race theory as the opposite of Martin Luther King is inaccurate, you’re telling your viewers that but you’re not telling them what it is.
ASIDE: This is in the context of the newly unearthed video showing that a young Barack Obama was an admirer of Derrick Bell.
You have to see the video to appreciate how patronizing O’Brien is being when she tells Pollak he’s wrong. But at the same time, she refuses to say what she thinks critical race theory means, presumably because she doesn’t know (at least not well enough to explain it). She tries to get Pollak to drop the subject, apparently too obtuse to realize that the substance of critical race theory is his central point!
At this point, O’Brien comes up with a definition:
Critical race theory looks into the intersection of race and politics and the law . . .
which looks very much like a paraphrase of the top hit on Google:
Critical race theory – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an academic discipline focused upon the application of critical theory to the intersection of race, law and power. Although no set of …
So while she is pompously insulting her guest for not knowing what critical race theory is, she needs her staff to Google it and whisper the answer into her earbud.
The epilogue to all this is Pollak is right and O’Brien is wrong, at least according to the very Wikipedia page that she used as her source. O’Brien and Pollak argue for several minutes about whether white supremacy is a key component of critical race theory. O’Brien says no, but her source says:
First, CRT has analyzed the way in which white supremacy and racial power are reproduced over time . . .
POSTSCRIPT: The epilogue to the epilogue is funny too: An edit war is ongoing at Wikipedia as people have been trying to alter the article to conform to O’Brien’s definition.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire finds that the New York Times, which “we can count on . . . to present critical race theory in as gauzy and flattering a focus as possible”, has consistently described critical race theory in terms of white supremacy. On the other hand, I agree with John Hinderaker that the revelation of one more radical in President Obama’s past is unlikely to change many minds about him.
UPDATE: Another point for Pollak.
UPDATE: Elena Kagan sides with Pollak.
UPDATE: We’ve reached the point where a smart person would give up. No sign of that from O’Brien.
The head of the BBC admits that Christianity gets less sensitive treatment than other religions. One reason, he further admits, is that Christians aren’t prone to making violent threats.
I wish they’d think a little about the incentives they are establishing.
I saw this implausible headline at the Huffington Post today:
Santorum: Separation Of Church And State ‘Makes Me Want To Throw Up’
It’s pretty obvious Rick Santorum wouldn’t say something like that, so I clicked through to see what he actually said. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Santorum said:
Well, yes, absolutely, to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?
Alana Horowitz, the author of the HuffPo piece, reprocesses Santorum’s statement — that people of faith ought to be permitted to participate in the public debate — into opposition to the separation of church and state. Perhaps the two propositions are the same to her; perhaps she believes that separation of church and state does require religious people to remain silent, but that doesn’t give her license to write her own extreme views into a quotation.
In fact, even the part of the quote that lies within quotation marks — the part that is supposed to be a direct quote — isn’t verbatim.
Horowitz’s abuse of quotation marks doesn’t end there. In the article, in order to get “separation of church and state” into the same quote as “throw up”, she uses a very creative ellipsis:
“The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country…to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up.”
The ellipsis hides the fact that these were two different statements made in response to two different questions. She deletes twelve sentences of Santorum explaining what he meant, a new question from Stephanopoulos, and the beginning of Santorum’s answer to the new question, and she puts it together with a lower case letter as if it had been all one sentence.
POSTSCRIPT: The ultimate context of this was a remark made by Santorum that John Kennedy’s 1960 speech on his religion almost made Santorum throw up. I could understand the sentiment (although throwing up still seems a little strong) if Kennedy had really been saying that faith had no place in the public debate. I guess Santorum reads the speech that way, but I don’t. I read the speech to say that politicians should not take orders from clergy, which seems like a very different proposition, and one I agree with.
I’m confident Kennedy meant it that way, because, in historical context, this speech was pure politics. Kennedy was running for president and needed to defuse the “Catholic issue”, so his purpose was to reassure Protestants that he would not take orders from the Catholic Church. His intent was certainly not to tell them to keep their faith out of the public debate, because it would not have served his political purposes to do so.
The latest fuss in the global warming controversy is the leak of documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank I hadn’t heard of before that, among other things, is skeptical of climate change alarmism. Most of the documents deal with Heartland’s fundraising, but one very different document purports to describe Heartland’s strategy for the global warming debate.
The provider of the document originally claimed to be an insider at Heartland, but that turned out to be a lie. In fact, an outsider (later identified as Peter Gleick, head of the Pacific Institute) obtained the documents by phishing; he wrote to Heartland claiming to be a board member and asking that they resend him the documents for the annual board meeting. Some gullible secretary complied.
Heartland acknowledges that most of the documents are genuine, but says that the strategy document is a fake. There is considerable evidence to support their claim: While the undisputed documents were pdfs generated from their original digital source, the strategy document is a scan. The strategy document was scanned weeks after the undisputed documents were generated, but just one day before Gleick went public. And, the strategy document was scanned in the wrong time zone: the pdf metadata dates the scan using Pacific time, but Heartland is in Chicago. (Peter Gleick, on other hand, is in Oakland, California.)
There are also a variety of the problems with the content: For example, it contains mistakes that a genuine document would be unlikely to contain. (Specifically, it said that the Koch Foundation gave $200k in 2011, when in fact it gave $25k, and even that $25k was earmarked for health care, not climate change.) For another, it curiously focuses on Peter Gleick and his writings for Forbes magazine, even though neither is particularly important.
But most strikingly, the content of the strategy document is all wrong. John Hinderaker goes through it line by line, but I’ll just quote one line that in conclusive in its own right:
We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. . . His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain — two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.
This isn’t even good forgery; this is just stupid. “Dissuading teachers from teaching science”? Oh, please. This is something that a dishonest leftist would write to attack climate alarmism skeptics, not something that skeptics write about themselves. All it missed as a supervillain’s monologue was the cackle.
Gleick, who was quickly suspected as the author of the forged document, has admitted phishing for the undisputed documents, but has not yet admitted to forging the strategy document. Ironically, Gleick chaired the American Geophysical Union’s task force on scientific ethics. He has been dropped. He has also stepped down as the head of the Pacific Institute.
POSTSCRIPT: There’s also a media failure angle on this story. The New York Times reported this:
Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute.
This is simply untrue. As observed above (and as the link document further), the tone and content do not match the other documents at all.
UPDATE: The NYT’s inaccurate description is now being used in legal communications.
The Democrats and their collaborators in the legacy media want to disappear this graph:
ASIDE: This particular version is nearly a year old, but suffice it to say that the red has still gotten nowhere near the light blue, much less the dark blue.
This graph (minus the red stuff) comes from “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan”, the document prepared by the Obama transition team to sell President Obama’s stimulus plan.
Obviously, nothing even remotely like this happened, so — being unable to change the unemployment numbers — the Democrats want to disappear the prediction. We’re told by Democratic tools such as the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler that citing this chart as though it had anything to do with Obama is a lie. (Three Pinocchios!)
Got that? Just because the prediction was prepared by Obama’s team, and written by Obama’s chief economist, to sell Obama’s policy, which was then duly enacted by Obama’s Democratic Congress, doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with Obama!
Just to expand on the point, let’s take a look at the prediction was received by President Obama’s pet pundit, Paul Krugman. On January 10, 2009, Krugman wrote:
OK, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein have put out their estimates of what the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan would accomplish. But Romer and Bernstein don’t speak for the administration-in-waiting; we’re going to have to wait to hear economic predictions from the President-elect’s own lips. It’s a pity that he doesn’t put something official on the table so we can argue policy with him.
Just kidding! Actually, this is what Krugman wrote:
OK, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein have put out the official (?) Obama estimates of what the . . . American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan would accomplish. The figure above summarizes the key result.
Kudos, by the way, to the administration-in-waiting for providing this — it will be a joy to argue policy with an administration that provides comprehensible, honest reports, not case studies in how to lie with statistics.
That said, the report is written in such a way as to make it hard to figure out exactly what’s in the plan. This also makes it hard to evaluate the reasonableness of the assumed multipliers. But here’s the thing: the estimates appear to be very close to what I’ve been getting.
Now it’s funny that Krugman lauded Obama for producing comprehensible, honest reports and then in the very next breath lamented that the report wasn’t comprehensible and honest. But never mind that. The point here is there was no doubt in Krugman’s mind over whether this was a serious document prepared by the Obama administration-in-waiting giving estimates for the results of its plan.
Krugman apparently entertained a slight doubt (written “(?)”) as to whether the “Obama estimates” (as he called them) were “official”, but never entertained any doubt as to whether this document was prepared by the administration-in-waiting or just a couple of staffers. For example, he wrote “Kudos, by the way, to the administration-in-waiting for providing this. . .”, and later wrote “So this looks like an estimate from the Obama team itself saying. . .”.
The chart is damning; it’s no wonder the Democrats want it to go away. But it won’t.
(Via Don Surber.)
American Public Media’s Marketplace program recently ran a commentary by Leo Webb, supposedly an army sniper who was treated shabbily by the army and joined Occupy Oakland when he returned from Iraq. He also claimed formerly to have been a prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization.
It was all bogus, except perhaps the part about his participation in Occupy Oakland. Webb never served in the Army and he never played in the Chicago Cubs organization.
What’s especially sad about this isn’t that American Public Media failed to verify any of the claims this man made. (“Too good to check”, as they say.) What’s sad is that it is immediately obvious to anyone who has ever been in the Army that this guy never was, from this line alone:
I killed all these people and watched half my squadron die.
Also, Webb said he “blew their brains out”. Soldiers are trained to aim center mass; head shots are for movies and video games.
Not a single person in the editorial process at Marketplace had even a passing familiarity with the military. That’s what’s sad about this story.
POSTSCRIPT: The editor in charge of the piece responded to questions with this:
Mr. Webb has been subsequently placed in a VA live-in care facility specializing in PTSD so I’m unable to seek his response to your comment at this time.
Since Webb is not a veteran, this is clearly a lie.
A Daily Caller piece exposes Media Matters’s operation for channeling opposition research to the legacy media:
- “[MSNBC was] using our research to write their stories. They were eager to use our stuff.” Media Matters staff had the direct line of MSNBC president Phil Griffin, and used it. Griffin took their calls. . . “If we published something about Fox in the morning, they’d have it on the air that night verbatim.”
- “Greg Sargent [of the Washington Post] will write anything you give him. He was the go-to guy to leak stuff.”
- “If you can’t get it anywhere else, Greg Sargent’s always game,” agreed another source with firsthand knowledge.
- “The people at Huffington Post were always eager to cooperate. . .”
- “Jim Rainey at the LA Times took a lot of our stuff,” the staffer continued. “So did Joe Garofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle. We’ve pushed stories to Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne [at the Washington Post]. Brian Stelter at the New York Times was helpful.”
- “Ben Smith [formerly of Politico, now at BuzzFeed.com] will take stories and write what you want him to write,” explained the former employee, whose account was confirmed by other sources.
- Staffers at Media Matters “knew they could dump stuff to Ben Smith, they knew they could dump it at Plum Line [Greg Sargent’s Washington Post blog], so that’s where they sent it.”
None of which is a surprise, of course. What is amazing is somehow Media Matters is tax-exempt.
POSTSCRIPT: In another Daily Caller article, we find that Ben Smith was grateful enough for all the free content that when he found himself in possession of a scoop about Media Matters, he chose not to report it.
I trust you won’t be shocked to learn that this story had to be reported off the Beeb:
BBC ‘buried Savile sex abuse claims to save its reputation’. . .
The BBC had hoped to broadcast the Newsnight report in December, two months after Savile’s death, but bosses ordered that the investigation be dropped. Instead, the corporation screened two tribute programmes celebrating Savile’s lengthy BBC career as presenter of Jim’ll Fix It and Top of the Pops, and also as a Radio 1 DJ.
A British court has called [Abu] Qatada a “truly dangerous individual” and even his defence team has suggested he poses a “grave risk” to national security.
Despite that background, BBC journalists were told they should not describe Qatada as an extremist. The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.
According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: “Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.”
(Via the Corner.)
But there are some people that the BBC is willing to make a value judgement about:
Extremist settlers have set fire to West Bank mosques and daubed their walls with graffiti
Thousands of Israelis have held a rally in the town of Beit Shemesh against ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremism.
(Via the Corner.)
He may be a terrorist, but at least he’s not Israeli. . .
I’ve often been critical of Politifact and other “fact-checking” operations, so Scott Johnson’s case study in how that outfit operates is no surprise to me. It’s quite instructive though. Johnson corresponded with two different experts who Politifact asked to comment on Mitt Romney’s statement that our navy is weaker than it’s been since 1917, and our air force is weaker than it’s been since 1947. Both experts told Politifact’s Louis Jacobsen that the claim was true. For example, Ted Bromund told him:
(1) This is not just technically true. It is actually true (unless you want to ding the Governor for saying 1917 when he should have said 1916). . .
(2) I find it a bit depressing that you only list considerations that — if they applied — would tend to make the Governor’s statement less accurate. I trust that you’ll also look for contextual factors that would add to his argument. . .
Considering all the technical, strategic, geopolitical, and cultural factors involved in US force structure would require a book, and involves judgments that are well beyond fact-checking. As a matter of fact, the Governor’s statement is correct.
Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly), Bromund’s trust was misplaced. Jacobsen continued shopping for experts until he found some who would say what he wanted. The result: He rated Romney’s accurate statement, not just false, but “pants on fire”.
The Arizona Republic’s “fact check” column rates a statement made by sheriff Joe Arpaio false. Arpaio’s mistake? Relying on reporting from the Arizona Republic.
Well, trusting the media’s reporting is a big mistake, to be sure.
It takes a lot of context to fully appreciate this story, so I’m going to pull a long quote from Power Line:
A few years ago, as part of its strategy of facilitating voter fraud as a means of winning close elections, the Democratic Party undertook a campaign to secure as many Secretary of State offices in swing states as possible. From those perches, the Democrats would be in a position to oversee elections and enforce (or decline to enforce) election laws. That strategy has been quite successful, but the Democrats suffered a setback in Iowa in 2010 when conservative Republican Matt Schultz won an upset victory in the Secretary of State race. Since then, Iowa Democrats have targeted Schultz.
That targeting has taken a sinister turn–a criminal one, in fact–as the Des Moines Register reports:
A Des Moines man has been arrested after police say he used, or tried to use, the identity of Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz in a scheme to falsely implicate Schultz in perceived unethical behavior in office. . .
Edwards is a former Obama staffer who directed “new media operations” for Obama in five states during the 2008 primaries. Thereafter, he was Obama’s Director of New Media for the State of Iowa. In the Democratic Party’s lexicon, “new media” apparently includes identity theft.
Edwards now works for LINK Strategies, a Democratic consulting firm with extraordinarily close ties to Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin.
POSTSCRIPT: For a media failure angle on the story, Newsbusters notes that the Des Moines Register sat on the fact Edwards worked for a prominent Democratic consulting firm until it could safely report that he had been fired.
The New Yorker refuses to issue a correction, despite an inarguable error. By the end of the farce, the New Yorker is reduced to arguing semantics and contradicting the dictionary.
In another example of how utterly lame Politifact (and most “fact-checking” columns) are, Politifact rated this statement “mostly false”:
New energy standards will take away “our freedom of choice and selection in the light bulbs we have in our homes.”
Which is entirely true, of course. Politifact argues that it is mostly false because consumers will be able to buy different (and more expensive) bulbs in place of the current light bulbs. That’s no rebuttal at all. The existence of other remaining choices hardly means that one of your choices isn’t being foreclosed.
James Taranto adds:
By PolitiFact’s logic, people who think abortion should be outlawed are pro-choice because they would allow other choices (childbirth, adoption, avoiding pregnancy via abstinence or contraception).
POSTSCRIPT: People defending the light-bulb ban keeping talking about these high-efficiency incandescent bulbs that we can supposedly get. Even setting aside the higher price, are these bulbs actually available? Has anyone ever seen them for sale? I haven’t.
And do they actually produce the same quality light as a traditional bulb? I’ve never seen one, so I can’t say.
Dear Washington Post, quotation marks are for direct quotes, not paraphrases.
A few weeks ago (yes, I’m still catching up), the very interesting story broke of the White House’s extravagant 2009 Halloween party. The White House was decorated in Alice-in-Wonderland style by director Tim Burton and the party was attended by Jonny Depp in character as the Mad Hatter. One participant came wearing the original Chewbacca costume!
Realizing how bad this looked, the White House hushed up the event, and asked the press not to report it, claims a new book on the first couple:
“White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged,” the book says.
The fascinating thing is that the press went along with it!
This isn’t a White House scandal (although it is curious that neither Burton nor Depp appears on the White House visitor logs), but it’s a first-rate media failure scandal. How much were the White House press corps in the tank for President Obama? So much that they would agree not to report a story that made Obama look bad.
What’s amusing about this story is how it was the White House that persuaded me that it’s true. The official White House blog attacked a straw man, saying that the party wasn’t a secret. That’s beside the point; no one is saying that the fact that a party was held was a secret. What was kept quiet was the extravagance of the party. On that subject the blog weighed in as well:
The author attempts to paint the fact that some involved in the film attended and were not singled out in previews of the event as an attempt to hide their involvement — this was a large event, word of their involvement was certain to be reported, and indeed it was.
Oh, it was reported? That would change things, but let’s not take the White House’s word for it; let’s follow the link to the Politico story (archived here):
The official White House social media releases and the reporter pool dispatches from the party do not mention either Burton or Depp, but the Depp fan site JohnnyDeppNews.com reported that the actor was in attendance with Burton. And the Nashville Tennessean also reported that both Depp and Burton were at the White House for the party.
Seriously? JonnyDeppNews.com and the Nashville Tennessean?! That doesn’t refute the story, it confirms it. The White House pool (and Politico, for that matter) didn’t say anything. The only reporting they can find was in a Depp fan site and some local paper no one’s ever heard of. Very well, I will happily concede that neither JonnyDeppNews.com nor the Nashville Tennessean seem to be in the tank for Obama. For the rest of the media, and especially the weasels in the White House press corps, the charge remains.
At Media Myth Alert:
The Washington Post offered online readers a dramatic example of “whiplash journalism” yesterday, reporting that the goal of U.S. sanctions against Iran was to topple the regime in Tehran then rolling back that stunning report.
Left thoroughly unclear was how the Post got the story so utterly wrong in the first place.
A recent blog post at the Washington Post accused the military of dishonesty:
Consider the Army’s dogged initial insistence that Pat Tillman was not, in fact, killed by “friendly fire;” the fabrication of the story of Jessica Lynch; and the recent embellishment by the Marine Corps of their medal winner’s story. This is lying to the people the military is meant to protect, and who pay for it. It is absolutely, completely, unacceptable. Yet it now has become common.
That’s strong stuff, and it fails to allow for human fallibility, exacerbated by the fog of war.
But in regard to Jessica Lynch, it’s not even factual. As W. Joseph Campbell explains, the Jessica Lynch story was fabricated, not by the military, but by the Washington Post. That’s right, the very same publication using the incident to besmirch the military.
GOOD NEWS: CNN finally finds someone it can call evil.
POSTSCRIPT: I hadn’t seen CNN’s puff piece on Kim Jong-un before. It’s egregious even by CNN’s low standards.
A leaked Associated Press memo explains how they will change their ways:
AP wins when news breaks, but after an hour or two we’re often replaced by a piece of content from someone else who has executed something more thoughtful or more innovative. . . More than ever, we need to infuse that sensibility into our daily process of news and planning.
Journalism With Voice. We’re going to be pushing hard on journalism with voice, with context, with more interpretation. This does not mean that we’re sacrificing any of our deep commitment to unbiased, fair journalism. It does not mean that we’re venturing into opinion, either. It does mean that we need to be looking for ways to be more distinctive and stand out in the field — something our customers need and want. The why and the how of the news are as crucial as the who, what, when and where.
This is exactly the opposite of what they should do. We need more straight reporting, not more “journalism with voice”.
Also, I always think its amusing (but sad) when these people can immunize themselves by giving lip service to their “commitment to unbiased, fair journalism”. The fact is they are creating new channels through which reporters can transmit their bias, and that’s how those new channels will be used, whether they admit it or not.
Completing today’s trifecta of New York Times dishonesty, there’s this incident, in which the NYT lied to its readers about its own actions:
The New York Times thought it was sending an email to a few hundred people who had recently canceled subscriptions, offering them a 50 percent discount for 16 weeks to lure them back. Instead, Wednesday’s offer went to 8.6 million email addresses of people who had given them to the Times.
That was the first mistake. The second came when the Times tweeted this: “If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”
But the Times did send the original email, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.
The New York Times wants you to believe that holders of firearms permits are dangerous:
The New York Times examined the permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.
More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter.
Here’s the hint that the NYT is trying to deceive you: these are all absolute numbers. What matters is the crime rate, and how it compares to the general population. They don’t say. But Robert VerBruggen does:
Fortunately, state-level murder data are easy to find. North Carolina has a statewide murder rate of about 5 per 100,000. Even without counting manslaughter, that’s 25 murders committed per 100,000 North Carolinians every five years. There are about 230,000 valid concealed-carry permits in North Carolina, so by pure chance, you’d expect these folks to be responsible for nearly 60 murders over five years. And yet only ten of them committed murder or manslaughter.
So the murder rate among permit holders is a sixth of that among the general population. The NYT knows this — you can’t tell me that at no time in their investigation did it occur to them to perform this simple calculation — but they chose not to share the fact with their readers. They want you to believe the opposite.
If you trust content from the New York Times, you’re a sucker.
POSTSCRIPT: VerBruggen’s calculation is good, but here’s one that’s even better: The crime rate among members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun astroturf group) is at least 45 times higher than among Florida’s permit holders. (Via Instapundit.)
The New York Times, reporting last month on Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for an abducted Israeli soldier, wanted to emphasize how the released prisoners were innocent of any real crime:
Sarah Abu Sneineh came with her family to greet her grandson Izzedine Abu Sneineh, who was arrested three years ago at age 15 for throwing stones and hanging Palestinian flags from telephone poles.
Correction: December 21, 2011 . . .
And the article misstated Israeli charges against one of the freed prisoners, Izzedine Abu Sneineh, who had been arrested three years ago at age 15. Israel had accused him of weapons training, attempted murder and possession of explosives — not throwing stones and hanging Palestinian flags from telephone poles.
John Hinderaker explains how this sort of “mistake” happens:
It is not hard to see what happened here. The Times article is by Ethan Bronner, and it also credits two individuals whom I take to be stringers: Khaled Abu Aker in Ramallah, and Fares Akram in Gaza. Since the incident described here was in Ramallah, the information presumably came from Khaled Abu Aker, a Palestinian journalist. Further, he interviewed Sneineh’s grandmother, and it seems safe to assume that she was the source of the misinformation about the charges against her grandson. Israeli officials could have supplied the real facts, but evidently no one asked them.
This is how reporting works at the NYT, I guess. Just talk to one side — the side you like — and report what they say. Don’t let the other side spoil the narrative.
POSTSCRIPT: By the way, it was only a few days before this that the NYT was calling out the Washington Post for doing the same thing:
Don’t just repeat it. Report it.
That’s the lesson this week for MSNBC and for The Washington Post, both of which apologized for repeating a liberal blog’s claim that [blah blah blah] . . . The [Post’s] correction stated that it “should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication.”
The legacy media is running a story claiming that Rick Santorum, taking questions at a campaign event, said “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” The story apparently began with NPR.
The first thing I want to note is there is nothing inherently offensive in this statement (unless you are so liberal that you’re offended by the idea of not redistributing wealth). What might make this offensive would be if he had brought it up outside the context of inter-racial redistribution of wealth, in which case it could be race-baiting. That’s the allegation in this case.
But he never said it. Here’s the video:
He said “I don’t want to make [unintelligible] people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” It’s not clear to me what he did say; I’m getting “lah”. Tommy Christopher renders it “mmbligh”. Ed Morrissey renders it “lives”. But one thing he clearly did not say is “black” — there is no K sound.
The story gets muddier with an interview Santorum gave to CBS News. They asked him about the statement, but they didn’t play the context. So what is Santorum to answer?
- He can’t explain why he said it, because he doesn’t remember saying it, because he didn’t say it.
- He can’t deny it and tell them what he did say, because he doesn’t know, because they didn’t play him the context.
- He can’t deny it and tell them he would never say such a thing, because (as above) there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It’s only wrong in context, and they didn’t play him the context.
So in this situation, all he can do is say something like what he said “I’ve seen that quote, I haven’t seen the context in which that was made”. He then guessed (incorrectly) at what the context might have been:
Yesterday I talked for example about a movie called . . . ‘Waiting for Superman,’ which was about black children and so I don’t know whether it was in response and I was talking about that.
NPR acted shabbily by putting words in Santorum’s mouth; if you can’t tell, don’t guess. (Although perhaps the reporter really did hear “black”, which — being completely out of context — would tell us a lot more about him than about Santorum.) CBS acted shabbily by ambushing him with the question and not giving him the information to answer. Santorum made a political blunder by guessing.
But worst is where the blogospheric left took the story from there:
There had originally been some confusion about whether Santorum actually said the word “black,” which he appeared to clear up in the CBS interview by acknowledging that was in fact the statement he made.
That’s simply a lie. Santorum did not confirm making the statement.
Finally, I can’t help but observe how disingenuous it is for the left to pretend shock and amazement at race baiting (which, at the risk of repeating myself, Santorum didn’t do), when their response to every single criticism of this administration is to accuse the critics of racism (for example).
The Associated Press reports on the horrors of income inequality:
Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.
That’s right, nearly one-in-two Americans are below the median. How dreadful!
Think I’m being overly glib? I’m not. The Obama administration’s new poverty line really is defined in terms of income quantiles. It’s not literally set at the median; the actual definition is more complicated, but we can expect the two to track each other pretty well. (The actual definition is 150% of the 30th percentile of a particular wealthy population.) The definition was designed to ensure that there will always been plenty of people in poverty, and the AP is playing along.
(Via The New Editor.)
UPDATE: Tom Blumer also takes a critical look at the new poverty line. Oddly, his account of the definition is different in detail than the one I linked, but it’s still quantile based.
Smith was quite rightly annoyed with Glenn Kessler, who writes “The Fact Checker” blog on the Washington Post website. (Kessler’s gimmick is rating political statements on a scale of one to four with cutesy Pinocchio-nose graphics.)
On August 17, Kessler wrote an item supporting President Obama’s denial at a town hall in Iowa that Vice President Joe Biden had called Tea Party activists “terrorists” in a meeting with congressional Democrats. . . After supplying a rudimentary summary of what happened, Kessler reached a conclusion that is at once unsure of itself and sharply judgmental. “Frankly, we are dubious that Biden actually said this. And if he did, he was simply echoing what another speaker said, in a private conversation, as opposed to making a public statement.”
Awesome, a “fact-checking” column with zero facts! To paraphrase: “I don’t know if he said it, but if he did say it, I’m quite sure he didn’t mean it.” What a gig! Reporters who actually report news are suckers.
POSTSCRIPT: It may be a cheap shot, but I’m not above noting that Kessler doesn’t know the meaning of “apologist”. Fact-checking indeed.
How many times have we been told that the legacy media is superior to the blogosphere because of the media’s layers of fact-checkers and editors? This week MSNBC and the Washington Post got burned for lifting a story from a leftist blog without making any effort to verify it.
The story was from Americablog (no link; I’m not going to reward their lies with traffic) in which they claimed that Mitt Romney was using an old KKK slogan in his stump speeches. He wasn’t: Romney’s line was “keep America America” (a conservative sentiment), while the KKK’s line was “keep America American”. This is quite clear from their own video.
This level of journalistic malpractice was too much even for the New York Times which ran a short story on the incident:
Don’t just repeat it. Report it.
That’s the lesson this week for MSNBC and for The Washington Post, both of which apologized for repeating a liberal blog’s claim that Mitt Romney had uttered a phrase on the campaign stump that was used in the past by the Ku Klux Klan. . .
MSNBC apparently did not contact the Romney campaign for comment before it briefly reported on Wednesday morning that “you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the K.K.K. group.” The anchor credited AMERICAblog; the graphic on the screen read, “Romney’s KKK Slogan?” . . . When executives at MSNBC and NBC News saw that, they were disturbed that the blog’s observation was reported as fact, without any added reporting. . .
The Washington Post also issued an apology on Thursday for factual mistakes in its blog post about the phrase. The correction stated that it “should have contacted the Romney campaign for comment before publication.”
Indeed they should have. Now I really don’t expect any better from MSNBC, but I am disappointed by the Washington Post. They were a liberal but responsible paper not so long ago; now they’re being called on the carpet by the New York Times. It’s sad to see that they’ve fallen so far, so fast.
It goes without saying, of course, that they could only make this mistake in one direction. If they ever picked up a story from the conservative blogosphere (a fanciful prospect in its own right), you can be sure that they would verify every detail before running it.
POSTSCRIPT: The liars at Americablog are somehow still sticking with their story, despite it being clearly a lie. This should be a lesson to anyone who would contemplate cribbing from them again.
The New York Times opines:
The Times’s Jason DeParle, Robert Gebeloff and Sabrina Tavernise reported recently on Census data showing that 49.1 million Americans are below the poverty line — in general, $24,343 for a family of four. An additional 51 million are in the next category, which they termed “near poor” — with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. . .
The worst downturn since the Great Depression is only part of the problem. Before that, living standards were already being eroded by stagnating wages and tax and economic policies that favored the wealthy. Conservative politicians and analysts are spouting their usual denial.
Here’s the truth: these figures use the Obama administration’s new “poverty line”, which has nothing to do with actual poverty. Rather than being based on the cost of a basket of goods that families need (and without which they are impoverished), as the traditional poverty line was, the new “poverty line” is defined in terms of other people’s income (in particular, the 30th percentile of a particular population).
The beauty of the new “poverty line” — for liberals — is there will always be millions in “poverty”, no matter how much their lot improves. Not only is the 49.1 million figure not shocking, it’s inevitable. The “near poor”, being 150% of the other meaningless number, is just as meaningless.
With the new “poverty line”, liberals will always have an excuse to demand billions in welfare spending, (funneled through their cronies like ACORN of course). But this depends on the public remaining ignorant that the “poverty line” has nothing to do with poverty and is rigged so that there will always been lots of people in poverty.
Put simply, this only works if the liberals succeed in tricking us. And the New York Times is doing its part.
The Daily Mail reports:
Dramatic footage of a polar bear tending her newborn cubs in the flagship BBC show Frozen Planet was filmed in a Dutch zoo using fake snow. In one of the most engaging moments of its Winter episode, the tiny bears are shown mewling at their mother and nuzzling her for milk.
Eight million viewers were led to believe the scene had been captured by BBC cameramen inside an underground cave in the brutal sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic wilderness.
(Via Jammie Wearing Fools.)
It’s always dangerous to trust the media, but it’s even more dangerous to trust their headlines. Mickey Kaus notes a Politico story headlined “CBO figures throw cold water on cuts-only approach”. What does the story actually say?
Even if spending were frozen in place, the nation’s debt keeps piling up, absent more structural benefit reforms and tax revenue.
This is perfectly obvious to anyone paying attention. It’s not good enough to keep spending “frozen in place”, we need deep spending cuts. We particularly need deep cuts to entitlement spending, which is exactly what “structural benefit reforms” are. Nothing here throws even a drop of cold war on a “cuts-only approach”.
POSTSCRIPT: Kaus pointed out the inaccurate headline a week ago and Politico still hasn’t fixed it.