Jake Tapper “defending” Fox News?

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Disclaimer:  This is not an argument IN ANY WAY in defense of Fox or Fox News.

Was ABC’s Jake Tapper “defending Fox News” as the Huffington Post reported today after Tapper asked:  “It’s escaped none of our notice that the White House has decided in the last few weeks to declare one of our sister organizations “not a news organization” and to tell the rest of us not to treat them like a news organization. Can you explain why it’s appropriate for the White House to decide that a news organization is not one…?”

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My answer is a resounding no. Not AT all.

What Jake was doing was what Jake does.  He  does that a lot … I won’t lie and say he hasn’t infuriated me on a number of occasions when asking certain questions (Sorry, Jake) but, it IS his job to ask these questions.

Consider this:  Major Garrett of Fox News is, in a way, a colleague of all of those who frequent the White House Briefing Room … and, I would assume that most of those attending those meetings are friendly with one another, and generally think that those colleagues ask good questions – Major Garrett (also who infuriates me, in fact so much that I tweeted “F*** YOU MAJOR”  once after he asked what I felt was a particularly vexing question) actually asks quite good questions and he works with Fox News … so does Shep Smith.

So, it should come as no surprise that Jake would ask this question of the White House Press Secretary Mr. Gibbs … considering they BOTH work with Garrett EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

So, to again answer the question “Was Jake Tapper defending Fox News?”  No.  I think, and I’m probably wrong, but I think Jake was defending a colleague who he respects.  And, I would too.

Postscript:  Of course, I can’t fail to note the many times CNN has been complicit in ridiculousmongering (ie Obama as the Antichrist) and MSNBC in funmaking (ie Teabaggers) – I still say Fox is far more egregious across the board … but that’s a different matter :).

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Did Major Garrett Break the White House Email?

Is the White House overreacting to an overreaction?

Last Thursday, you may recall, Fox News’ Major Garrett got into it with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs over Garrett’s questioning of White House email procedures.  He asked Gibbs a question that there was only one way to answer, then attacked him for trying to answer it.  On the air later, Garrett admitted there was a problem with his question.

That didn’t stop Fox News from hounding the White House all weekend.  At issue were what Garrett described as “hundreds” of Fox viewers who claimed to have gotten unsolicited emails from the White House.  When Gibbs offered to check those people’s names against a list to determine the answer, Garrett acted as though the White House was trying to steal their souls.

Since then, Fox News has posted several breathless updates to the story, including a statement, yesterday, from the White House.  As I caught up on this story, I realized that I hadn’t gotten any emails from the White House since 5:25 pm yesterday.

Is it possible that the White House has frozen outgoing emails while it investigates this story?  I emailed them to find out, but I haven’t heard back!
Fox has apparently sent some examples to Gibbs to check out, after getting permission from the emailers.  If they’re anything like this guy that Garrett interviewed, it should be apparent what’s going on here:

Benjamin, who also described himself as a Republican, said he received the Axelrod health care e-mail as a pop-up ad while he was reading a blog. He said the pop-up must have been approved by his internet service provider, AOL.

“The White House wants to put out a message so they have a conduit to put the message out to people who haven’t contacted them in any way,” Benjamin said. “Therefore, they’re using AOL the same way that a spammer would be. I’m not particularly interested in hearing from David Axelrod.

So, Major Garrett is getting complaints from dialup users who still haven’t figured out that the CD-ROM drive isn’t a cupholder, and stoking the paranoia of NObama Nation in the bargain.

Freeper Madness and Young Republicans: Racism Rears Ugly Rear End

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Update 2: Michael Shaw at HuffPo thinks everyone except the racists should be ashamed of themselves, including us.  He says we escalated the story, and then tweets by Shuster, et al, took it to 11.  I’m not sure how that works, though, since we reported those tweets, and the attendant escalation.  In other words, we reported what Shaw reported, only sooner and more accurately.  Shame on us.

Update:  The plot thickens.  Gawker reports that Chris Parry, the Vancouver Sun reporter who broke this story, was also a blogger for Daily Kos, and has suggested, in the past, posting hate speech and blaming it on conservatives.  This does little to change the facts in this story, as Parry could hardly have pulled, then reinstated, the offensive thread.  It might mean a rough week for Parry, though.  Parry responds here. Two high-profile stories about the intersection of racism and the Republican Party are exploding all over the internet.  The flap over comments at Free Republic and the Young Republicans’ election of a new president make for a sour cocktail this weekend. Most of the heat is being generated by this Vancouver Sun story about the comments on a Free Republic article featuring 11 year-old Malia Obama:

“A typical street whore.” “A bunch of ghetto thugs.” “Ghetto street trash.” “Wonder when she will get her first abortion.” These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative ‘Free Republic’ blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama’s 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.

You might think that this is the same as the lame attacks that Bill O’Reilly levels at commenters on DailyKos and/or Hot Air.  There are key differences.  The Sun report says that the offensive comments overwhelmingly outnumbered those critical of the vitriol, but the real problem is this:

After attention from other blogs, the thread was suppressed and placed under review, but before long it was returned to the site intact, and attracted a new series of racial slurs when the original complaint email was posted publicly to the site, with the sender’s email address intact.

So, they knew about the comments, put them back up, and apparently made the complainer a target for harassment. Very ugly.  Eventually, they took it down again. As disgusting as this story is, it didn’t stand to hurt Republicans that much on its own.  Freepers are not exactly considered the bellwether of mainstream conservative thought. Then, even after an impassioned plea by very young Republican Meghan McCain, the Young Republicans elected a new president with serious racism problems

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The Young Republicans faced a stark choice at their convention in Indianapolis yesterday as they chose their next leader: a center-right twentysomething interested in greater outreach, or a self-described “true conservative” who is almost 40 and spent last week dealing with Daily Beast reports about her beliefs, which are, at best, often hateful, and at worst, downright racist. The delegates, in a vote of 470 – 415, chose the latter.

Fair or not, the effect of these two stories is devastating.  Already on Twitter, I’ve seen comparisons of the Freeper story to the Letterman/Palin feud, with liberals asking where the conservative denunciation is.  The Young Republicans story serves to neutralize the “few bad apples” rationale on the freeper story. As a liberal with a lot of conservative friends, I hate to see conservatives get painted, en masse, with this brush.  While this makes them understandably defensive on the subject, that defensiveness can lead to tone-deaf handling of these situations.  While some liberals’ idea of the GOP as the Ivory Soap of racism is way off the mark, many conservatives are also in denial about their party’s race problems.  The truth, as they say, lies somewhere in the middle. On the issue of racism, the truth can be elusive.  I think there’s always more racism, in general, than white people think there is.  On the other hand, I think there’s a lot less of it in the Republican Party than most liberals think.  Part of the perception problem that  the GOP has today is that the Democrats have a black President.  Where else are the racists supposed to go?  Just because most of the racists belong to one party doesn’t mean that that party is mostly racists. Still, when your party stands in opposition to policies that are seen as benefitting minorities, this kind of thing can really be damaging. I’ll tell my liberal friends exactly what I told conservatives who asked me where the liberal outrage was on the Playboy story:  Give it a minute.  This story broke on a Saturday afternoon.  Two of my conservative friends who write for very influential blogs just heard about it this morning, from me. To my conservative friends, I hope their reactions, and those of the Republican leadership, veer away from the kind of persecution complex stuff that Newsbusters’ treatment portends, and closer to this.  This story is already drawing attention from media heavy-hitters like Jake Tapper, Major Garrett, and David Shuster.  The conservative response can be a big win. As for the Young Republicans, I think Meghan McCain’s got their number.

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.

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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

Video: Gibbs Zings Fox News

Man, I hope this doesn’t throw a monkeywrench into #CartoonMajor.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs FTW: