I Accept Allahpundit’s Apology in Advance

Over at Hot Air, some righty troll has posted the news that I was 100% correct in my assessment of Robert Gibbs’ comments on Iran yesterday.  Your plate of crow awaits, Mr. Pundit.

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I Didn’t Think Green Avatars Were a Left/Right Phenomenon

It was a nice kum ba yah moment while it lasted.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made a remark at today’s briefing that has even the normally reasonable right-wingers in an insane froth.  The key passage is Gibbs’ last line of this clip:

Q But does the administration recognize Ahmadinejad as the legitimate President in Iran?

MR. GIBBS: He’s the elected leader.

Now, Gibbs may or may not deserve some ire for his execution, but he was obviously trying to parse the difference between formally recognizing Ahmadinejad as President, and acknowledging the fact that he has been awarded the election.  “He was awarded the election” might have been a better word choice, but as the last in a series of follow-ups, there wasn’t opportunity for much clarification.

What it is not is this: (from Hot Air)

Instead, so desperate are these tools to get Iran to the bargaining table and show Americans some sort of dividend from Hopenchange diplomacy that Gibbs actually acknowledges Ahmadinejad as the “elected leader” — the same lie the regime’s been telling the world and the same lie Iranians have been dying in the streets to challenge. As a de facto — and entirely gratuitous — endorsement of their corruption, it’s the lowest moment of The One’s presidency so far.

However, while I find this overreaching attempt to score political points on the backs of Iran’s protesters distasteful and disappointing, I’m absolutely shocked by this presumption of bad faith:

And the only thing that’ll take the sting out of it is watching all the dumb liberals who painted their Twitter avatars green two months ago in solidarity with Mousavi’s supporters hemming and hawing now over how our lord and savior really had no choice but to kiss ass here.

This is a sickening violation of an unspoken armistice that rose up between the left and the right during the Iranian unrest.

When this whole thing started, when conservatives on Twitter took the lead in supporting protesters of the Iranian election, there was a suspicion voiced among some liberals that this was pure opportunism, that the concern was feigned as an excuse to criticize President Obama.  Indeed, this was true of some GOP politicians, but in the Twitter community, the Iranian election developed into a moment of surprising unity.

At times, liberals would, privately, evince feelings of superiority at their late-arriving conservative counterparts’ seemingly new-found concern for Iranian citizens, but I wouldn’t entertain that.  A sincere change of heart is to be welcomed, not scorned.  You would have to think pretty poorly of your fellow man to think he wasn’t moved to the core by events such as the killing of Neda.

Alas, the right seems unable to extend that same benefit of the doubt.  Now, we either agree with Allahpundit, or we’re trendspotting dilletantes who could give 2 shits about the Iranian people.  This, from the same guy who cheered when John McCain cracked wise about bombing those same Iranian people:

It’s obvious that this is less an example of Maverick’s vaunted “straight talk” than him just being playful on the spur of the moment. Even if so, joking about bombing Iran certainly won’t hurt his standing with the base, to whom he needs to feed a lot more red meat if he wants the nomination. He’s already starting to do that; the trick is to not alienate the centrists and leftists who admire him in the process.

Here’s that ruddy, meaty crowd-pleaser now:

The accomplishments of the Twitter community (right, left, up, down, and center) during the Iranian unrest were remarkable.  Here’s hoping that the desire to score cheap political points doesn’t overshadow them completely.

As for Gibbs, you could argue that he deserves some measured criticism here, but I don’t think this statement alone warrants it.

Washington Post Publisher’s Apology Doesn’t Wash

Update: This is a piece I wrote for Mediaite that got pushed out by other news.  The WaPo ombudsman is as unimpressed as I am by Weymouth’s explanation.

The hot, steaming mess that is the Washington Post Salon-gate scandal just keeps getting hotter and more messified.  Katharine Weymouth, the publisher who was to host the chummy, “non-confrontational” soirees with Post reporters and Obama administration officials, has issued an apology:

I want to apologize for a planned new venture that went off track and for any cause we may have given you to doubt our independence and integrity. A flier distributed last week suggested that we were selling access to power brokers in Washington through dinners that were to take place at my home. The flier was not approved by me or newsroom editors, and it did not accurately reflect what we had in mind. But let me be clear: The flier was not the only problem (emphasis mine). Our mistake was to suggest that we would hold and participate in an off-the-record dinner with journalists and power brokers paid for by a sponsor. We will not organize such events. As publisher it is my job to ensure that we adhere to standards that are consistent with our integrity as a news organization. Last week, I let you, and the organization, down.

That’s a pretty good start, but then, Weymouth goes on to explain that the way she had planned out the events would have been just ginchy.  So what happened?

When the flier promoting our first planned event to potential sponsors was released, it overstepped all these lines. Neither I nor anyone in our news department would have approved any event such as the flier described.

We have canceled the planned dinner. While I do believe there is a legitimate way to hold such events, to the extent that we hold events in the future, large or small, we will review the guidelines for them with The Post’s top editors and make sure those guidelines are strictly followed.

That sounds a lot, to me, like “Yeah, the problem was the fliers.”

The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, doesn’t seem to be buying what Weymouth is selling:

Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti issued a statement describing the flier as a “draft.”

The “draft” is a single-page solicitation, printed in full color on glossy paper, which was distributed to potential underwriters for a gathering on health care. It reads: “Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth” on July 21.

Oh, it was a draft.  Kinda like those photocopied sheets they distribute in every office in America for the football pool, or something.  Just a sketchy, hastily prepared spitball-y deal, right?  Not so much.

post-salonflier

Alexander goes on to quote Charles Pelton, whose office produced the flier, taking a curiously high-handed attitude:

“There’s no intention to influence or peddle,” Pelton said this morning. “There’s no intention to have a Lincoln Bedroom situation,” referring to charges that President Clinton used invitations to stay at the White House as a way of luring political backing.

Do you really want to bring up bedroom hijinks here, Chuck?

The one positive, as I have noted, is that the Washington Post’s own Howard Kurtz did a good job in reporting on his own paper’s scandal.  Still, although it’s pretty clear to me that Kurtz got all he could out of Weymouth, some may question whether he really held his boss’s boss’s feet to the fire.

It also has the side-effect of undercutting Post reporters’ ability to point out other journalists’ potential conflicts of interests.  For example, when this story broke, I was immediately put in mind of Dana Milbank’s lecture of HuffPo’s Nico Pitney on Kurtz’s own “Reliable Sources.”  That splinter in Pitney’s eye is looking positively microscopic, now.

Kurtz, ironically enough, raised questions about such conflicts in reporting on the launch of this site.  In responding to criticism about his consulting business, Mediaite founder Dan Abrams was blunt:

Says Abrams: “It does seem I’m being held to a higher standard than anyone else in the history of the consulting world. That’s okay. . . . What some of the purists say is that if you’re engaged in journalism at all, you should not be able to work with business, ever.”

By that standard of purity, it would be tough to argue for the continued existence of the Post, at least under the stewardship of Katharine Weymouth.

“Washington Post For Sale” Bombshell Good News/Bad News

What a disappointing day for journalism.  Not minutes after I revisited the dark Playboy saga, I got an email from Lee Stranahan with his video parody of a story I hadn’t even heard yet:

Apparently, WaPo’s publisher hatched a half-baked scheme to pimp the paper’s staff, and the Obama Administration, for huge wads of cash: Continue reading

Dana Milbank vs Nico Pitney=Old Media Trying to Stuff New Media in Locker

Update: Here’s Nico’s take, including the fact that Milbank called him a dick off-mic.  Also underscoring my earlier point, in Nico’s article, Politics Daily’s Lynn Sweet brags about being the only journalist besides Milbank to ask about Obama’s swimsuit.

Sure, it is delicious to watch, like trains full of fireworks colliding, but this is the culmination of a growing blood feud between Old Media and New Media.  Here’s the clip, from Reliable Sources:

Let me start by saying that neither of them did themselves a favor with their tit-for-tat deconstruction of the other’s “record,” but Milbank seemed especially childish with his Rain-Man-esque “dossier” on Pitney.  Nico would have been wiser to point out that his and the White House’s only “crime” was in trying to give voice to the voiceless.

I’ve already said my piece on the “collusion” charge, and although Milbank highlights something I didn’t know about the timeline of the social media solicitation and the White House’s contact with Pitney, it doesn’t change the larger point.  The question was not staged, the President didn’t know what it would be, and Pitney/HuffPo was selected because they have been outclassing old media with their coverage of the Iranian unrest.  Because they’ve had their ear to the ground, they were the natural choice to get a question from an Iranian on that ground.  It was a reward for responsive journalism.

Despite what Milbank and Amanda Carpenter want to make out of it, this is a win for New Media, not for partisan blogging.  It’s also the latest in a string of Old Media attempts to push New Media down the stairs, “All About Eve”-style.

Continue reading

Huffington Post Smacks Down Dana Milbank Over Press Conference

My pal, Jason Linkins, really unloads on the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank over Milbank’s accusation that HuffPo’s Nico Pitney asked a “planted question.”  The takedown is so thorough, I’m tempted to piss Jason off myself, just to see what he comes up with.

I happen to like Milbank, too, having gotten to know him a little during the Presidential campaign.  Like Pitney, I’ve been lectured by Milbank on journalism, altohugh in my case, Dana was right.  Milbank, in turn, got lectured and thrown under the bus by Keith Olbermann, a guy with his own problems correcting himself.

So, now, it’s Dana’s turn to be wrong.  The White House rewarded Pitney for practicing responsive journalism. and more importantly, the Iranians by giving them a voice.  This is a good precedent, not a bad one.

Still, Linkins goes at Milbank hard:

Anyway, for a few weeks now, I had been of the mind that Nico had really raised the bar for all of us at HuffPost, with his tireless and relentless focus on this story as it unfolds. It seemed to me to be the work of a serious person, and his question seemed to me to be an extension of that seriousness. But Milbank has forced me to reconsider that maybe serious journalism is dressing up in costumes, telling a bunch of unfunny jokes, and portraying yourself as an entitled ass. Seriously! I am weighing the two options carefully! With the help of this video that Milbank made with Chris “Let Me Write A Hundred More Blogs On Post-Partisanship” Cillizza.

Ouch! Here’s the video that Jason’s taking apart:

Yes, it’s a funny takedown, and yes, the MSM has been crying way too hard about a blogger being thrown a well-deserved bone.  And, hey, who doesn’t love a good pissing match?

White House: Iran Can’t Come to Our Barbecue

Tommy_Christopher_Daily_Dose 211

On the heels of reports that the White House was considering rescinding invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend July 4th celebrations around the world, the White House now confirms that the invites are kaput.

This might not sound like such a big deal, especially in light of what’s happening in Iran, but the White House is really serious about its grilling.  They’ve got a fleet of Weber Sputnik grills for use by the family and staff, and they even got Chef Bobby Flay to do their Father’s Day cookout.  This is no joke, the Iranians will hurt from this.

If the violence in Iran continues, look for even stricter sanctions.  If I was an Ayatollah, I wouldn’t even bother researching my fantasy football draft.

This is, obviously, not a big deal, but whoever talked to reporters anonymously about this really blew it.  I mean, really:

The Obama administration is seriously considering not extending invitations to Iranian diplomats for July 4 celebrations overseas, senior administration officials tell CNN.

The officials said intense discussions on the issue were taking place, but the final decision had not been made.

You’re having intense discussions about whom to invite to your barbecue?  God, I hope that’s not true.

If any question should have been laughed at, it was this one.