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Archive for October 27th, 2009

Is CNN the Least Trusted Name in News?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:46 am by HL

Is CNN the Least Trusted Name in News?
The original cable news network has slipped to fourth and last place with prime-time viewers between ages 25 and 54, trailing Fox News, MSNBC and HLN. The conventional wisdom is that Americans prefer their news with a heavy dose of opinion, but CNN could be losing viewers because, as the “Daily Show” points out, the network is just bad at gathering news. While we’re talking in broad strokes about what Americans like and don’t like, let’s take a minute to point out that the cable news networks measure their viewers in the hundreds of thousands. In a country of 300 million, it’s probably ill-advised to draw conclusions about the national character based on Sean Hannity’s 659,000 viewers.  —PZS The New York Times: CNN, which invented the cable news network more than two decades ago, will hit a new competitive low with its prime-time programs in October, finishing fourth – and last – among the cable news networks with the audience that all the networks rely on for their advertising. The official monthly numbers will be finalized at 4 p.m. Monday and will include results from Friday. CNN executives conceded that will not change the competitive standing for the month. CNN will still be last in prime time. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

The original cable news network has slipped to fourth and last place with prime-time viewers between ages 25 and 54, trailing Fox News, MSNBC and HLN. The conventional wisdom is that Americans prefer their news with a heavy dose of opinion, but CNN could be losing viewers because, as the “Daily Show” points out, the network is just bad at gathering news.

While we’re talking in broad strokes about what Americans like and don’t like, let’s take a minute to point out that the cable news networks measure their viewers in the hundreds of thousands. In a country of 300 million, it’s probably ill-advised to draw conclusions about the national character based on Sean Hannity’s 659,000 viewers.? —PZS

The New York Times:

CNN, which invented the cable news network more than two decades ago, will hit a new competitive low with its prime-time programs in October, finishing fourth – and last – among the cable news networks with the audience that all the networks rely on for their advertising.

The official monthly numbers will be finalized at 4 p.m. Monday and will include results from Friday. CNN executives conceded that will not change the competitive standing for the month. CNN will still be last in prime time.

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM



Mike Lux: Game On

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:45 am by HL

Mike Lux: Game On
In the coming weeks we will have an all-hands-on-deck, all-out public war with the insurance industry over whether we finally pass comprehensive health care reform or once again fall short.

Vivien Lesnik Weisman: Please Mr. President, Stick To Your Guns and Don’t Pull the Trigger on Public Option
Obama should be worrying less about Reid’s arithmetic and more about losing some progressive senators who may not pass a plan that includes the trigger provision.

Chris Weigant: Media’s Credibility (Not Public Option) Is What Is Dead
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today announced that the public option (Charles Schumer’s “opt out” plan, in particular) will be contained in the bill he…


Eric Boehlert: 30 reasons why Fox News is not legit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:44 am by HL

Eric Boehlert: 30 reasons why Fox News is not legit

“Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.” — Society of Professional Journalists

Why the Beltway press has invested so much time and energy in recent weeks defending Fox News, with one scribe even claiming that the White House’s public critique of the network was “dangerous to press freedom,” and why the press refuses to acknowledge what’s so obvious about the cable channel’s political pursuits, remains baffling.

The facts regarding Fox News’ lack of professionalism seem rather obvious (as I detail below 30 different times). And that ought to be plain for Beltway journalists as well. But whether for reasons having to do with external professional, social, or political pressures, many journalists have opted to pretend that Fox News is a serious outlet, that it’s just like its cable and network TV news competitors.

They insist that any suggestion that Rupert Murdoch’s cable channel isn’t legitimate is completely off-base and that the White House is not even allowed to have an opinion on the issue. Indeed, ABC News’ Jake Tapper suggested it was not “appropriate” for the administration to tag the channel as illegitimate. (Tapper himself can’t tell the difference between the programming that Fox News and ABC News produce.)

The rush to defend Fox News is an odd one, because I don’t remember the same type of the circle-the-wagons defense when the previous Republican administration openly waged war on The New York Times and NBC, two news outlets whose standards far outshine the kind of pseudo-reporting Fox News produces on a daily basis. That Beltway media elites have decided to rally around Fox News of all entities remains as puzzling as it is short-sighted.

The truth is, journalism is not difficult to practice, nor is it tough to identify. Journalists aren’t licensed, and anyone can try their hand at it, as the Internet has made clear. So there is no higher authority declaring what is and isn’t journalism. But the craft, like obscenity, is instantly recognizable in its true form.

For generations in this country, there has been a sort of a gentleman’s agreement in terms of what constituted professional behavior among journalists. And there has been a sense of shame when members crossed those lines into unprofessional behavior. Bosses chastened those employees, people were fired, and ethics panels were summarily convened to make certain the transgressions didn’t happen again. Fox News, though, has walked away from all of that. And guess what? The rest of the press hasn’t said boo.

That’s been the sad case for years. (Playing dumb about Fox News’ partisan pursuits now qualifies as a Beltway intramural sport.) Indeed, the loophole, or the caveat, to journalism’s gentleman’s agreement has always been that the guidelines were voluntary and self-policing. There was no governing body, either within journalism or without, that regulated the product. The only collective deterrent from producing bad journalism, aside from rather lax U.S. libel laws, is a collective sense of shame, a shared feeling that making a factual error — or worse, purposefully pushing false information under the guise of journalism — was both unprofessional and unacceptable.

But clearly, Fox News does not share that sense of shame, because it’s not part of the larger journalism brotherhood. Fox News doesn’t feel like rules such as fairness, accuracy, neutrality, and independence apply, which is obvious since Fox News breaks those rules with stunning regularity. In fact, its programming day seems designed to break the traditional rules ad nauseam. That’s what it’s built to do. And if nothing else, Fox News is ruthlessly efficient.

So, Fox News has altered the game by unchaining itself from the moral groundings of U.S. journalism. And guess what? There is no industry shame being rained down on the outlet. The rest of the press not only doesn’t complain, it defends Fox News and even apologizes on its behalf, which is what we’ve seen unfold for the last two weeks.

If we’re actually going to have this is-the-world-really-round “debate” about Fox News, then let’s put it in perspective in terms of what constitutes a legitimate news organization.

Here’s how the Society of Professional Journalists describes the craft:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.

The organization’s Code of Ethics declares “the Society’s principles and standards of practice.” In terms of a broad-based definition of what journalism ought to be, the Code of Ethics remains the industry standard. And as you’ll see below, Fox News routinely, and blatantly, breaks the code to which ethical journalists are supposed to aspire. Fox News staffers (and not just the opinion show hosts) don’t simply fail to live up to the industry’s own ethical standards. They produce broadcasts that run directly counter to established values and rules. In other words, they obliterate the Code of Ethics on a regular basis, which to me signals that Fox News is not a legitimate source of journalism.

Below are some cornerstones to journalism’s Code of Ethics, followed by clear-cut examples of how Fox News tramples that code:

–Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

Timeline of a [madrassa] smear

–Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

After teasing story by saying “Obama makes a little girl cry,” Fox News’ Kelly acknowledged it was not true

–Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.

Fox News airs altered photos of NY Times reporters

–Never plagiarize.

Fox passes off GOP press release as its own research — typo and all

–Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

Media adopt gender, racial stereotypes in characterizing Sotomayor’s temperament, intellect

–Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

REPORT: “Fair and balanced” Fox News aggressively promotes “tea party” protests

Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.

Fox News, CBS air clips of peephole video of ESPN’s Erin Andrews

–Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.

O’Reilly Producer Stalks Amanda Terkel: THE VIDEO

–Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

Foxy News breaks out the boudoir B-roll to cover “the great breast augmentation scandal”

–Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Would a real news organization help GOP PACs raise money?

–Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

FLASHBACK: When Fox News boasted about its “unprecedented” access to the Bush White House

–Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.

After exclusive access, softball interviews during Bush admin, Fox News blasts ABC for White House exclusive

–Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.

EXCLUSIVE: Fox News seeks to confirm wildly inaccurate reporting that it’s already aired on Jennings controversy; former student seeks Fox News correction

I normally wouldn’t spend so much time with the chapter-and-verse examples to highlight the clear fact that Fox News is not a legitimate news organization. But since Beltway media elites continue to cling to the claim that it is, as well as peddle the bizarre, anti-free speech concept that the White House somehow ought to be forbidden to criticize the press, I’ll continue with even more inescapable examples to back up the observation that Fox News is not a legitimate news outlet.

For instance, a legitimate news organization does not:

  • Source its research to “conservative blogs.”
  • Purposefully present stories out of context.
  • Regularly declare “Victory!” when a White House initiative fails.
  • Ignore a breaking news story that embarrasses the Republican Party.
  • Invite fringe conspiracy theorists to appear on news shows.
  • Suggest during a news program that Democrats voted to “protect pedophiles, but not veterans.”
  • Routinely accuse the president of the United States of being like Adolf Hitler.
  • Describe itself as the “voice of the opposition.”
  • Air more than 100 commercials promoting partisan political rallies.
  • Show 22 clips of health care reform opponents who attended town hall forums, and none of health reform supporters.
  • Purchase full-page newspaper ads to spread falsehoods about the news competition.
  • Invade the privacy of second-grade students.
  • Promote violent political rhetoric.
  • Fail to fact-check a murder story before airing allegations about it.
  • Allow a news anchor to suggest a Supreme Court nominee is guilty of “reverse racism.”

It certainly would be helpful if reporters and pundits who work for respected corporate news outlets and who today defend Fox News as a legitimate operation (or at least chastise the White House for raising doubts) examined the 30 examples I listed above and ask themselves this: If they committed just one of those newsroom transgressions, would they still have a job? Would bosses at ABC or The New York Times or The Washington Post or wherever be willing to have those journalists on staff if they bent, and then busted, journalism’s Code of Ethics the way Fox News regularly does?

I suspect the obvious answer is no. And I suspect journalists understand that. So why the Beltway charade? Why refuse to acknowledge the self-evident truth that Fox is not a legitimate news organization?

(Additional research by Simon Maloy.)

Follow Eric Boehlert on Twitter.


GOP Congressman Leading Fight Against Rangel Has His Own Ethics Woes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

GOP Congressman Leading Fight Against Rangel Has His Own Ethics Woes
Rep. John Carter (R-TX), who is leading the GOP charge against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), failed to report nearly $300,000 in profits on his financial disclosure forms.


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87-Member Minority Caucus: Muslim ‘Intern Spy’ Hunt Smacks Of McCarthy Era
In a strongly-worded statement today, the Congressional Tri-Caucus, which represents three minority caucuses, denounced a call by four GOP lawmakers for an investigation into whether Muslim “intern spies” have infiltrated the Hill.


Beltway Conventional Wisdom Wrong Again

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:38 am by HL

Beltway Conventional Wisdom Wrong Again


The Turning Point?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

The Turning Point?
After the Democratic effort to reform health care took a pounding in August, President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress in early September may have been even more important than we thought at the time to getting things back on track.

Two important things happened during that speech:

First, the president surprised many when he made an impassioned case for the public option. Most analysts thought he would push for compromise by dropping it altogether. Instead, the public option is still very much alive today in both the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Second, Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) outburst during the speech unintentionally laid the groundwork for Democrats to go it alone by portraying his party as totally uninterested in bipartisanship. Wilson became the poster-child for obstructionism.

It’s still too early for Democrats to declare victory, but health care reform has never looked in better shape than it does right now.


Reid and Pelosi Have Delivered on the Public Option — Now Let’s Get This Done

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

Reid and Pelosi Have Delivered on the Public Option — Now Let’s Get This Done
In the coming weeks we will have an all-out public war with the insurance industry. It will decide whether we pass comprehensive reform or once again fall short at the bitter end.

Conservatives Are Rewriting the Bible to Free It From "Liberal Bias"
The new version will sing the praises of the free market and call young women "floozies" and "bimbos."

Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann Slam Fox News Propaganda About Their Meeting with Obama
The commentators point out that liberals could not get an invitation to meet with President Bush to save their lives, while Obama meets with liberals and conservatives.

Our Economy Was a Scam and Now We’re Dead Broke
America is broke. And the easy credit, phantom "growth" economy has been exposed for what it was: a credit scam.

Showdown in Chicago: Protesters Rally Against Big Banks’ Anti-Reform Lobbying
As businesspeople wandered by, protesters young and old aired their disgust with financial institutions.


J Streets Wins 29-29 (++MJR In Today’s Politico)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

J Streets Wins 29-29 (++MJR In Today’s Politico)
There was a famous Harvard-Yale football game back in 1968. And it’s results produced an even more famous headline on page one of the Harvard Crimson. “Harvard Beats Yale: 29-29.” The reason for the headline: Yale had a perfect season…


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What ‘Liberal’ Academy?
A couple of years ago The Nation’s Eric Alterman published What Liberal Media?, shredding the familiar conservative charges. It may be too soon to ask, What liberal academy? — although I’ve had fun exposing what I called “Wile E. Coyote…


Sponsored Topics: ConservatismEric AltermanNationPoliticsLiberal


ThinkFast: October 26, 2009

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

ThinkFast: October 26, 2009
Following reports that President Obama was “actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform,” White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog that “those rumors are absolutely false.” “President Obama completely supports” the Democratic […]

President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Following reports that President Obama was “actively discouraging Senate Democrats in their effort to include a public insurance option with a state opt-out clause as part of health care reform,” White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog that “those rumors are absolutely false.” “President Obama completely supports” the Democratic leadership’s efforts, Pfeiffer wrote.

A new report from Thomson Reuters has found that the U.S. health care system wastes up to $800 billion ever year. “The average U.S. hospital spends one-quarter of its budget on billing and administration, nearly twice the average in Canada,” the report notes.

Democrats are discussing ways to speed up key benefits in the health reform bill to 2010, “eager to give the party something to show taxpayers for their $900 billion investment in an election year.” “We want to be able, within the cost framework and the implementation framework, to have as much start as early as possible, even though we know all of it can’t,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Congress and the Obama administration are getting ready to address the issue of banking institutions that are “too big to fail.” A measure that could be introduced this week “would make it easier for the government to seize control of troubled financial institutions, throw out management, wipe out the shareholders and change the terms of existing loans held by the institution.”

Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he is working with his colleagues to block any increase in U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan. “There will be resistance to [a troop increase] if necessary…We will do what we can to prevent this mistake,” the senator told host Bob Schieffer.

Abdullah Abdullah, the challenger to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, “is considering boycotting the upcoming runoff if his demands are not met to remove the leaders of Afghanistan’s election commission who he believes are biased against him.” An Abdullah pull-out “could create a new political crisis and throw the legitimacy of any new government into question.”

Twin car bombs “devastated three government buildings,” killed at least 160 people, and wounded at least 540 more on Sunday in Baghdad, marking the deadliest attacks in Iraq since 2007. The blows were “aimed at destroying faith in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s ability to secure the country as the United States withdraws” ahead of January’s elections.

The Denver Post reports that simply by checking the “female” box when buying health insurance “is likely to cost extra — perhaps up to 50 percent more than a man would pay for the same coverage.” Federal health reform legislation would ban gender-rating and require maternity coverage.

The American Energy Alliance, a corporate-funded front group for Big Oil, is running ads against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) because he has indicated support for clean energy legislation. Graham accused the AEA of lying. “People can say what they want to say,” Graham told McClatchy. “It’s a free country, but they can’t make stuff up.”

And finally: First Lady Michelle Obama went on The Jay Leno Show on Friday, where the host asked her about the President’s annoying habits. “He has no annoying habits, right Jay, none. He’s perfect,” Mrs. Obama said with a laugh. “But you know what, when he beats me in tennis that gets to be pretty annoying, and he beats me quite often.” Leno also asked her to name all the Brady Bunch children in under 10 seconds, which she did in eight.

Follow ThinkProgress on Twitter.

Rep. Paul Broun Proposes Bill That Would Privatize Medicare
One of the great success stories of the modern American welfare state has been the Medicare system, which — since 1966 — has provided health insurance for all Americans age 65 and done so much more efficiently than private insurance. While Medicare may be a very popular program today, it was bitterly fought by the […]

brounie2One of the great success stories of the modern American welfare state has been the Medicare system, which — since 1966 — has provided health insurance for all Americans age 65 and done so much more efficiently than private insurance. While Medicare may be a very popular program today, it was bitterly fought by the right when it was proposed. (Ronald Reagan even produced commercials claiming that the single-payer health care system for the elderly would lead to a dictatorship.)

In an attempt to reclaim the right’s rich tradition of opposing Medicare, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) has proposed legislation that would roll back the Medicare system and replace it with a system of vouchers that seniors could use to purchase private insurance:

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun introduced his own health care reform bill last week that would, among other things, privatize the Medicare insurance program for seniors.

Broun’s bill would replace government benefits with vouchers that could be spent on private insurance or put in tax-free medical savings accounts.

“We’ve got to fix Medicare,” he said. “It’s headed in a direction that’s unsustainable.”

While Medicare is facing future budgetary problems, privatization isn’t the solution. Medicare Advantage, the Medicare plan under which the administration of the program is farmed out to private insurance companies, has more than five times the administrative costs of the traditional public Medicare plan.

Earlier this year, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) — who is a strong supporter of extending a program like Medicare to all Americans — introduced an amendment that would eliminate Medicare. Not a single member of Congress voted for Weiner’s amendment, including Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), despite his long-held belief that the program is unconstitutional.


Federal Diary: Bargaining rights loom large

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 27th, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Federal Diary: Bargaining rights loom large
President Obama wants to issue an executive order creating panels that would foster greater collaboration between management and labor in federal agencies, but it’s hard to craft a document that pleases both sides.

Obama defends deliberate approach on troop levels for Afghanistan war
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. — President Obama fired back Monday at critics who accuse him of taking too long to review war strategy in Afghanistan, telling an audience of military personnel he will not rush his decision on whether to send additional troops there.

Bill in works to let U.S. dissolve failing firms
House Democrats and the Obama administration are preparing to introduce major legislation aimed at eliminating the devil’s choice the government faced last fall, when officials felt forced to decide between spending billions of dollars to rescue some of the nation’s most powerful financial firms …

Administration officials blame shortage of H1N1 vaccine on manufacturers, science
Administration officials sought Monday to explain why so much less H1N1 flu vaccine is available than had been promised, blaming the manufacturers and the vagaries of science for nationwide shortages.


Reid says health-insurance bill will include opt-out public option
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid announced Monday that he will include a government-backed insurance plan in the chamber’s health-care reform legislation, a key concession to liberals who have threatened to oppose a bill without such a public option.