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Archive for December 18th, 2008

RNC Chair Race Heats Up

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 2:26 pm by HL

RNC Chair Race Heats Up
Politico: “The six contenders for Republican National Committee chair are rolling out every gimmick, plan and endorsement in the hopes of gaining an edge.”

Todd Named White House Correspondent
NBC News announced today that Chuck Todd, a Political Wire favorite, has been named Chief White House correspondent.

Todd will retain his title as NBC News Political Director in addition to his new duties on the White House beat. As part of this announcement, he is also being named Contributing Editor to Meet the Press, where he will make frequent appearances to offer reporting and political analysis.

Emanuel Was Looking for Placeholder
The Chicago Sun Times reports that incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had conversations about backing a special election candidate for his IL-5 House seat who would keep “his” seat warm for a few years so he could reclaim it later.

However, with the scandal surrounding President-elect Obama’s old Senate seat, Emanuel is now likely to stay out of the race entirely.

Progressive Breakfast: Lines Drawn In Health Care Fight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 2:15 pm by HL

Progressive Breakfast: Lines Drawn In Health Care Fight

Progressive Breakfast is created for, and is the morning roundup of what progressive movement members need to know to start the day.

Today’s Number is $850B

Bloomberg cites one Obama aide to report the new administration will ask for an $850B economic recovery package: “Obama’s transition team believes the amount, about 6 percent of the U.S.’s $14 trillion economy, is needed to reverse rising unemployment…”

AP reports Obama has begun to deliver that message to Congress: “Obama has not settled on a grand total, and the final figure could be smaller [than $850B]. But after consulting with outside economists of all political stripes, his advisers have begun telling Congress the stimulus should be bigger than the $600 billion initially envisioned, congressional officials said Wednesday.”

LA Times reports Obama is still looking at a range between $600B and $1T, and notes Pelosi and Reid have come in lower so far.

LA Times also rounds up emerging conservative attack lines: “Republicans are wary of some of the proposals put forward by groups that are talking to Obama’s transition team. They cite a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors listing myriad projects cast as vehicles to create jobs and boost the economy. Those include a dog park in Hercules, Calif.; a bike path in San Diego; and a $1.5-million push to curb prostitution in Dayton, Ohio. ‘My fear is it will be a tool for all kinds of pet spending projects, for wasteful pork barrel projects and redistribution of wealth,’ said Pat Toomey, president of Club for Growth, which promotes fiscal conservatism. Toomey said the group may run ads opposing the stimulus package.”

As Ambinder warned earlier: “Watch for Republicans to settle on a handful of objectionable items and create the impression that the entire enterprise is suspect.”

Furthermore, 1) This is just a mayoral wish list, not even the actual proposal.

2) These small-dollar items may well have positive economic impact for those areas, if they are part of an overall revitalization strategy.

3) They may not, but conservatives have shown no ability to make good assessments regarding what investments are economically sound. Obama has proposed an “infrastructure bank” to make these calls on the merits. (See our “Investment Deficit In America” report for more.)

Stateline: “The nation’s cities and counties are asking Obama transition officials to give them most of the infrastructure money from the multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package, setting off a dispute with the states over who can launch transportation projects the fastest.”

Open Left promotes the $40B broadband plan from Free Press as part of economic recovery.

Ambinder reports “The Democratic coalition is ready to fight. [Today,] liberal interest groups and unions will unite under the Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery Now (C-JERN) banner to pressure Congress to pass Barack Obama’s economic recovery package.”

Public Plan Option Is Non-Negotiable

ABC’s The Note reports on an Institute for America’s Future news conference (audio here) releasing a new report from Prof. Jacob Hacker: “The Case for Public Plan Choice in National Health Reform.”

ABC cites Rep. Pete Stark, key House subcommittee chairman: “‘In the absence of a public plan you would have to so strictly regulate [private] health plans that they would all have to become public plans,’ said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Health sub-committee. Stark spoke out on Wednesday because he is concerned that any effort to reform the private health-insurance market will prove ineffective if Americans are not offered the kind of Medicare-style government option contained in Obama’s 2008 campaign proposal.”

Hacker’s report concludes: “Private insurance and public insurance have distinct strengths and weaknesses, and thus should be encouraged to compete side by side to attract enrollees on a level playing field that rewards plans that deliver better value and health to their enrollees. Public insurance has a better track record at reining in costs, while preserving access; it has pioneered key quality and payment innovations that have often set the standard for private plans; it is essential to set a standard against which private plans must compete to drive value and can be a source of stability for people.”

The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky: “A public plan … because of its lower administrative costs and ability to bargain for better rates, lowers prices and saves Americans money. ‘The clearest evidence of the savings produced by the public plan is its premiums, which are estimated to be about 23 percent lower than comparable private insurance for the same set of benefits for the same population,’ the [Hacker] analysis found.

Health Care For America Now! Blog: “Advocates of real health care reform need to make sure that this critical part of the solution is not bargained away in a misguided attempt to placate those who see health care reform as a business opportunity, not a matter of the health of our families and our neighbors. This would be a tragic mistake.”

HealthBlawg’s David Harlow has some wonky follow-up Q&A with Hacker.

Government Executive’s Alyssa Rosenberg’s item on Hacker emphasizes how a public plan should be constructed: “Medicare’s relatively low overhead makes it a better model for a publicly run health insurance option for people without employer-provided coverage than the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, [Hacker] said on Wednesday.”

Single-payer advocates Ian Welsh from FireDogLake and Dr. Don McCanne from PNHP remain unswayed.

Auto Industry Crumbles Some More

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) had thought an auto rescue would be done by Wednesday. He was wrong. NYT tries to take a peek inside the opaque negotiations between Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the auto industry.

Meanwhile, plants are shutting down and suppliers are going bankrupt.

HuffPost’s Steve Parker: “Chrysler has announced that 30 factories – all of their North American production plants – will close and remain that way until at least January 19th. In the meantime, the White House says President Bush is still ‘gathering information and looking at options,’ with some expecting an announcement this Friday, while two major carmaker suppliers have filed for bankruptcy.”

Earth2Tech: “General Motors has put the brakes on construction of a $349 million plant slated to produce engines for the extended-range electric Chevy Volt and compact Chevy Cruze in Flint, Mich. by 2010 … ‘It’s temporarily on hold as we assess our cash situation,’ GM spokesperson Sharon Basel told the Detroit Free Press today.”

ABC: “Chrysler says its union employees will not receive regular salaries for at least a month, forcing the workers to rely on state unemployment benefits and union-negotiated payments from Chrysler during the layoff. White-collar employees will likely get paid. The Chrysler shutdown comes on the heels of a warning to dealers that the automaker may halt financing for stocking showrooms.”

Naked Capitalism worries: “popular opinion seems to be moving to [bankruptcy] as the only way to get out of existing arrangements. The parallels to Lehman are scary. Outcomes are being driven by sentiment, not by analysis.”
Also notes: “…Cerberus has revived merger talks for Chrysler with GM … introduc[ing] an element of delay for two companies that have said they need a cash infusion in very short order.”

Balloon Juice’s John Cole and Emptywheel’s Marcy Wheeler flag that Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford does not scapegoat unions for the industry’s problems.’s Michael Lind describes the regional split in the Senate as a North-South economic civil war: “The non-Southern states, through their representatives in Congress and the executive branch, and with the help of enlightened Southerners, need to use the power of the federal government to put a stop to the Southern conservative race-to-the-bottom strategy once and for all.”

While conservative Senators try to lower wages for workers in a recession, Congress gets a raise.

Ron Kirk for USTR?

McClatchy reports Obama is “expected” to pick former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk for U.S. Trade Representative, while other news orgs simply deem him a new “front-runner.”

Where does he stand on trade? Unclear.

Dallas Morning News:

“The jury’s out,” said Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO.

As mayor from 1995 to 2001, Mr. Kirk touted free trade. In a series of overseas trips, he pitched the Dallas area as an ideal trading partner.

A Dallas Morning News article from 3/7/02 (via Nexis) describes Kirk’s trade views during the primary campaign for the U.S. Senate against Ken Bentsen:

With just days to go, the Bentsen campaign contended that Mr. Kirk has sent mixed messages about his position on free trade … Mr. Kirk was in favor of free trade as Dallas’ mayor, even leading a contingent of civic leaders on a 10-day trade mission to China in May 2000, shortly after the House voted to normalize trade ties with that country.

But in a televised debate last week, Mr. Kirk suggested that he would have voted against a bill opposed by organized labor that would give President Bush unilateral authority to negotiate free-trade agreements.

On the Labor Secretary front, WSJ reports (via Political Wire) that “Harley Shaiken, a prominent expert on unions, Detroit and the U.S.-Mexican border, has emerged as a top candidate for the post of secretary of labor … Rep. Rosa DeLauro is also a top contender…”

UPDATE: More background from Sirota on Kirk, concurs that the “jury is out.”

GOPer for Transportation Secretary

Ryan Avent expresses disappointment over Obama’s choice of GOP Rep. Ray LaHood for Transportation Secretary: “It’s possible that Obama wants him for GOP outreach, or that the bold moves will come elsewhere — out of another department or a national infrastructure bank. And we don’t yet know who’ll be running the FTA, or what resources they’ll have. But this does seem to be strongly at odds with the adminstration’s language on energy, environmental, and transportation issues.”

Progress Illinois reviews the record: “So what can we glean about LaHood’s record on this issue? The moderate Republican has broken with his party over Amtrak funding, voting yes last summer to expand passenger rail service. In 2005, he told the Peoria Journal-Star that ‘we’ve got a good Amtrak system in Illinois and I don’t think we want to destroy it by talking about privatization.’ In 2006, he received a 66 percent rating from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, a major transportation construction lobby. He also voted in favor of the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008, a bill to promote increased public transportation use that garnered string bi-partisan support. Other than that, we know very little.”

Michael Tomasky reviews the strategy: “What ‘transportation’ really means here in the nation’s capital is a never-ending battle between rail advocates and highway advocates … LaHood has relationships on the Hill — in that sense, it’s similar to the Daschle appointment — and can maybe bring a few moderate Republicans into the mass-transit fold. I suppose that’s the thinking. We’ll see how it works.”

EFCA Update

Marc Ambinder reports Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) may not oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, and is “undecided,” contrary to an earlier report.

RBC’s Mark Kleiman rips Al Sharpton for opposing EFCA. “I wonder who greased Sharpton’s palm. Or is he merely desperate for attention…”

Hannity was not alone in smearing, misinforming on Fox News in 2008

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 2:09 pm by HL

Hannity was not alone in smearing, misinforming on Fox News in 2008

While Fox News’ Sean Hannity earned Media Matters for America‘s “Misinformer of the Year” title for 2008, he was not alone in spreading conservative misinformation on Fox News. Indeed, smears of President-elect Barack Obama and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton were prevalent during the presidential campaign, and false claims about progressive policies, issues, and individuals were common throughout Fox News programming.

Rumors that Obama lied about his faith and other smears

During the September 10 edition of America’s Newsroom, in response to Obama’s statement that false rumors are “being promulgated on Fox News” about his purported “Muslim connections,” host Bill Hemmer asserted that “[n]o one here is promulgating untrue rumors about anyone’s faith.” In fact, Fox News had suggested that Obama was lying about being a Christian and actually was or had secretly been a Muslim, or discussed those rumors without noting they are false:

  • On Special Report, host Brit Hume pointed to a statement on Obama’s website that Obama “has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian” and stated: “But Obama’s half brother is not so sure.” Hume continued: “Malik Obama tells The Jerusalem Post that ‘if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.’ ” In fact, the article to which Hume was apparently referring indicated that Malik Obama did not speak directly with the Post but, rather, gave an interview to Israel’s Army Radio. Moreover, nowhere in audio of the interview that ABC’s Jake Tapper posted did Malik Obama assert that Obama “will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.” Purporting to issue a correction following his false claim, Hume suggested that his only “error” was in repeating a flawed report in the Post, without acknowledging that he had falsely claimed Malik Obama had spoken with The Jerusalem Post. [6/16/08]
  • On Fox & Friends, Kilmeade, who had previously falsely asserted that Obama “[e]vidently … went to a madrassa” as a child, asked a guest: “[D]o you find it insulting at all when Barack Obama goes out of his way to say, ‘Hey, I am not a Muslim. I’m a Christian, and let’s stop these spread’ [sic] as if being a Muslim is bad?” However, on the January 19, 2007, editions of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends, Kilmeade, Doocy, and Carlson spent several segments advancing a false report that Obama was raised a Muslim and had attended a madrassa as a child. [6/25/08]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson, referring to radio host Bill Cunningham’s repeated reference to Obama’s middle name, asserted “[T]he silent thing that nobody is really talking about here is the reason that he was saying the middle name so many times … is because the connotation is that Barack Obama is a Muslim potentially. His father was a Muslim.” Carlson then referred to claims that Obama is a Muslim as “rumors,” but neither she nor co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade pointed out that those rumors are false, and that Obama is a Christian. [2/27/08]

Smears questioning Obama’s faith were not the only attacks Fox News leveled at Obama. Others include:

  • On The Live Desk, Republican strategist Christine O’Donnell asserted that Obama was “so liberal, that — he’s anti-American.” [1/7/08]
  • On Your World, Ann Coulter repeatedly referred to “B. Hussein Obama” and said, “It’s shocking that … he’s probably going to be our next president, President Hussein.” During a subsequent appearance on Hannity & Colmes, co-host Alan Colmes asked Coulter, “Why do you keep emphasizing his [Obama’s] middle name as if you’re trying to associate him with Saddam Hussein?” Coulter replied, “Because I think it’s funny.” During that interview, Coulter referred to Obama as “B. Hussein Obama” twice and interjected: “Get ready for President Hussein, and let’s start planning for the next president.” [2/13/08]
  • On The Big Story with Gibson & Nauert, Republican strategist and former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed said of comments made by Michelle Obama, “[I]t plays into a stereotype about the left wing of the Democratic Party, that it blames America first, that they don’t see the greatness of America.” Former host John Gibson responded by asking, “Does that mean that President Barack will blame America first?” [2/19/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Karl Rove misrepresented Obama’s explanation for not wearing an American flag lapel pin, falsely asserting that Obama’s comments amounted to saying, “If you wear a flag lapel pin, you’re not a true patriot.” In fact, Obama said he stopped wearing a pin because it had become “a substitute for, I think, true patriotism”; he did not say, as Rove claimed, that the wearer was “not a true patriot.” [4/17/08]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Republican strategist Andrea Tantaros stated without challenge from co-host Bill Hemmer, “Barack Obama refuses to salute the flag. He refuses to wear a flag pin. He’s been named the most liberal senator in the United States Senate right now.” [5/12/08]
  • Teasing a segment on the “gesture everyone seems to interpret differently” — Obama touching fists with his wife after apparently securing the Democratic nomination for president — E.D. Hill, former host of America’s Pulse, said: “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? … We’ll show you some interesting body communication and find out what it really says.” During the discussion of the “interesting body communication,” Hill did not explain her reference to “a terrorist fist jab.” Hill subsequently addressed the ensuing controversy surrounding her comments. [6/6/08]
  • While assessing Obama’s July 24 speech in Berlin, a Fox News on-air graphic asked, “Obama a Rock Star Over There: Red Flag for All Americans Here?” [7/24/08]
  • On Hannity & Colmes, radio host Mike Gallagher falsely asserted that Obama and his wife said their daughters do not get Christmas presents, saying it’s “proof positive that this is a socialist family.” [7/29/08]

Smearing Hillary Clinton

On the June 29 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, panelist Bill Kristol stated of Sen. Hillary Clinton: “She’s put behind her the horrible sexism and misogyny the Democratic primary voters demonstrated, which I’m appalled by, personally.” In fact, Kristol — who previously declared that “[w]hite women are a problem, that’s, you know — we all live with that” — joined several Fox News personalities and hosts in smearing Clinton throughout the year:

  • While discussing Clinton’s emotional response to a question before the New Hampshire primary, Fox News contributor Dick Morris stated on Hannity & Colmes, “I believe that there could well come a time when there is such a serious threat to the United States that she breaks down like that.” Morris added, “I don’t think she ought to be president.” The next day on Fox & Friends, radio host Laura Ingraham similarly asserted: “[R]emember we have Islamic jihadists, [Osama] bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and all these other freaks that want to come to the United States and wreak havoc upon our population. We can’t have people who break down and start crying at the most difficult moments.” [1/7/08]
  • During Fox News coverage of the New Hampshire primaries, Kristol attributed Clinton’s victory to “the tears,” saying, “She pretended to cry; the women liked it.” He added, “The women were sorry for her, and she won.” Kristol is one of several media figures who described Clinton’s actions as “calculated,” reviving a characterization frequently made by the media that Clinton is “calculating.” [1/8/08]
  • On America’s Election HQ, co-host Megyn Kelly echoed a Washington Times column that questioned the legality of a concert by Sir Elton John for Clinton’s campaign, even after the campaign posted a statement from FEC spokesman Bob Biersack saying he does not believe there is “anything unlawful about Elton John performing in a concert to raise money for a US presidential candidate.” Additionally, Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl falsely claimed that a 1981 FEC advisory opinion stated that “you couldn’t volunteer any time if you’re a foreign national.” [3/27/08]
  • On America’s Election HQ, radio host Tammy Bruce suggested that Clinton suffers from “mythomania … part of a larger psychiatric scheme of people who make up fantastic stories to bolster their own image.” As purported evidence, Bruce asserted that Clinton said her daughter, Chelsea, was “at the World Trade Center on September 11th.” In fact, Hillary Clinton made no such claim. [4/7/08]
  • On Your World, author and radio host Marc Rudov said during a discussion of Clinton: “You know what? The woman is not called a B-word because she’s assertive and aggressive; she’s called a B-word because she acts like one.” [4/10/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, Morris falsely asserted: “Hillary Clinton in the 1980s was on the board of a foundation group called the New World Foundation that gave money to the PLO, which at the time was identified as a terror organization.” In fact, the New World Foundation reportedly did not “g[i]ve money to the PLO.” [4/17/08]
  • On Special Report, Beltway Boys co-host Mort Kondracke presented a “theory” for why Clinton may be having a “good time” on the campaign trail: “[S]omebody I know has a theory about this. Remember back when [Bill] Clinton was president of the United States, people said that he’s really Satan because he walks through life and people collapse around him and go to jail and die, and all this kind of stuff? Well, this person says Hillary’s a vampire. She’s sucking the blood out of Barack Obama.” Kondracke did not name his “theor[ist],” but the purported “theory” had been publicly articulated before, by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. [5/5/08]
  • On America’s Newsroom, while discussing a video clip of Clinton drinking a beer on the campaign plane, Hemmer asked Fox News’ “body language expert” Tonya Reiman: “[I]s that an honest moment, a moment of levity?” Reiman replied: “You know, the only thing that struck me as odd is, she’s holding the beer with her left hand, and she’s a righty. And if you think about how you would normally take a sip, it’s a little bit awkward to drink with your nondominant hand, unless you have a reason to be doing that.” [3/4/08]
  • On Hannity & Colmes, Morris asserted that Clinton’s “temper is a cool, angry, ‘I’ll, you know, slit your throat in the middle of the night’ temper.” As Media Matters has noted, media figures have repeatedly portrayed Clinton and her advisers as violent or ruthless. [1/18/08]

“A great run on ACORN”

As Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert noted, Fox News mentioned the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) 556 times over a five-day period in October and nearly 1,500 times throughout October. Indeed, as Boehlert subsequently noted, retiring Fox News anchor Brit Hume subsequently told Politico, “We had a great run on ACORN.” But that “great run” often featured misleading or false statements:

  • On Hannity & Colmes, The Wall Street Journal‘s John Fund falsely claimed that ACORN “almost got a slush fund in the housing bailout bill a few weeks ago.” In fact, neither the September draft proposal nor the final version of the bill in question contained any language mentioning ACORN. [10/9/08]
  • On Fox & Friends, Morris baselessly accused ACORN of “committing voter fraud.” In fact, ACORN did not stand accused of “committing voter fraud,” and Morris did not point to any allegations that ACORN engaged in voter fraud. [10/15/08]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Kelly mocked ACORN’s statement that it was required under Florida law to submit a voter registration form filed under the name “Mickey Mouse” to the Orange County, Florida, board of elections. In fact, Florida law calls for a $1,000 fine for each registration withheld by third-party voter registration groups. [10/14/08]

“The fix is in” for Al Franken in Minnesota

In discussing the postelection process of certifying the preliminary results from the Minnesota Senate race and the ensuing recount as mandated by state law, Fox News hosts and guests repeated and echoed several false claims to suggest that Democratic candidate Al Franken was seeking to steal the election from Republican Sen. Norm Coleman:

  • On The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly discussed a recently named board established to certify the vote and oversee the recount and claimed that Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) was “actively rooting for Al Franken” and that “the fix is in.” But O’Reilly did not note that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved of the composition of the canvassing board Ritchie named or that a lawyer for Coleman’s campaign reportedly said that the “state should feel good about who’s on the panel.” [11/13/08]
  • On The Beltway Boys, co-host Fred Barnes echoed the discredited rumor that ballots in the race were mishandled, stating: “We’ve seen, under some questionable circumstances, Franken gaining, you know, 32 ballots from the trunk of somebody’s car that had been sitting there for a few days. I mean, I find that a bit suspicious.” In fact, state officials refuted rumors that the ballots were handled improperly, and a lawyer for Coleman’s campaign, who initially raised questions about those ballots, reportedly said afterward that he had been assured the ballots were not tampered with. [11/15/08]
  • Echoing Coleman’s campaign, O’Reilly falsely claimed on The O’Reilly Factor that Coleman “was certified the winner” in the race, adding, “Coleman won by a mere 215 votes.” In fact, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board did not certify a winner in the Senate race, having authorized an automatic recount of ballots. [11/18/08]
  • On Studio B, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed that Ritchie is a “former communist” and a “former member of the Communist Party” but provided no evidence to support either claim. [11/19/08]
  • On Special Report, guest host Bret Baier asserted that the Franken campaign has been “dogged” in challenging questionable ballots and then aired a photograph of a ballot challenged by Franken, stating: “Franken is challenging this … ballot, although the bubble beside Coleman’s name appears to be clearly marked.” However, Baier did not note or display any of the published examples of ballots that the Coleman campaign has challenged which “appear[] to be clearly marked” for Franken or another candidate besides Coleman. [11/21/08]

“Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster”

Fox News hosts and guests frequently advanced the discredited suggestion that the poor, minorities, and those seeking to expand affordable housing were solely or primarily responsible for the crisis facing the housing and credit markets, often blaming the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA):

  • On Your World, host Neil Cavuto conflated giving home mortgages to minorities with risky lending practices, suggesting that there should have been “a clarion call that said, ‘Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.’ ” [9/18/08]
  • In a column, O’Reilly falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) “sat by as mortgage brokers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made bad loans.” Also, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace did not challenge a similar claim by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) that efforts by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae “were stopped at every turn by Democrats.” [9/18/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham said that “the problem here is government intervention in the free markets” and baselessly suggested that 1995 rules strengthening the CRA “pushed all these institutions to lend to minority communities, many were very risky loans.” [9/25/08]
  • During the special newscast Saving Our Economy: What’s Next?, Baier repeated or failed to challenge numerous false assertions about the role of affordable housing initiatives in the financial crisis and Democratic responses to the crisis. [10/5/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor and in a article, Fox News deputy editor Bill Sammon suggested that Frank allowed his relationship in the 1990s with Herb Moses, a Fannie Mae official at the time, to improperly influence his conduct as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. However, in his article, Sammon cited only an anonymous Republican congressional staffer and a member of the conservative Media Research Center. Sammon also misrepresented Frank’s record by reporting that Frank “spent years blocking GOP lawmakers from imposing tougher regulations” on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without noting that during the period in question, Frank supported legislation to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and create a government regulatory agency that would oversee some aspects of the company. [10/6/08]

Other Fox News smears

On the July 2 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy and Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe “attack dogs,” claiming that Steinberg’s June 28 article on the “ominous trend” in Fox News’ ratings was a “hit piece.” During the segment, however, Fox News featured photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered — the journalists’ teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and portions of Reddicliffe’s hair moved further back on his head. Fox News gave no indication that the photos had been altered. But the photo smears of Steinberg and Reddicliffe fit a pattern at Fox News of smearing and attacking:

  • On Red Eye, host Greg Gutfeld criticized comedian Ellen DeGeneres’ announcement of her planned marriage to actress Portia de Rossi: “For me, public exhortations of love are no different than telling everyone how great your bowel movements are since switching to All-Bran — no one gives a [bleep] except you.” Gutfeld then said: “And so, this is why I never discuss my marriage with anyone, which is the main reason why John Stamos and I are so happy together. And if you disagree with me, then you, sir, are worse than Hitler.” But Gutfeld himself has engaged in “public exhortations of love” and has talked about his wife. In addition to writing about his wife in a book, according to a 2005 New York Observer item, Gutfeld “talks incessantly and adoringly of his 24-year-old Russian bride, Elena, and carries with him an envelope chock-full of photos.” [5/20/08]
  • On Fox & Friends, while discussing reports of a shortage of one type of IP address, Carlson stated: “I was wondering if we should call up Al Gore. Because maybe he would have a solution for this, since he invented the Internet.” In fact, Gore never said that he “invented the Internet.” [7/7/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly attacked former Vice President Al Gore for delivering a July 19 speech at the Netroots Nation conference, calling Gore an “evil enabler” and comparing the event to gatherings by the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party, a pattern of comparing progressives to Nazis and the Klan that O’Reilly would continually repeat. O’Reilly made his attacks on Gore and the Netroots conference after asserting that the blog Daily Kos posted “hateful e-mails” about former Bush White House press secretary Tony Snow, who died shortly before the conference. But while O’Reilly repeatedly linked Netroots Nation to Daily Kos, Daily Kos was not an official organizer or sponsor of the convention. [7/21/08]
  • On Cavuto on Business, Jonathan Hoenig, a regular panelist on Fox News’ Cashin’ In, falsely asserted that both Obama and Sen. Joe Biden “have made it very clear that they support socialized health care.” Hoenig went on to say: “I know it sounds kind of curt in this age of political correctness and altruism, but why should I be responsible for paying for Joe Biden’s brain aneurysms?” Biden suffered two brain aneurysms in 1988. [8/23/08]
  • During coverage of the Democratic National Convention, Kelly speculated that changing some of the words in Michelle Obama’s speech could provide Obama’s critics with “fodder.” Noting that Obama said in her speech, “The world as it is just won’t do,” Kelly stated: “If you replace ‘world’ with ‘country’, you are back to the same debate, arguably, that you have been having about Michelle Obama’s feelings about the country. Did she give her critics any fodder with that comment?” [8/25/08]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor and NPR correspondent Juan Williams asserted of Michelle Obama’s upcoming speech at the DNC: “Well, she’s got to be herself, but I do not think she can go for it all out in terms of this kind of militant anger that she sometimes uses.” Williams gave no examples of what he claims to be “this kind of militant anger” that Michelle Obama “sometimes uses.” [8/25/08]
  • America’s Election HQ aired numerous reports documenting claims by Republicans and the McCain campaign that they “rescued” American flags that were going to be “disposed of” by the Democrats after their convention at Invesco Field in Denver. But during the reports, Fox News gave no indication that it had sought to contact a Democratic Party official or Obama campaign spokesperson for comment, and only reported a Democratic response hours after it began reporting the Republican claims. [9/6/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly said that Michelle Obama “looks like an angry woman.” [9/16/08]
  • On The O’Reilly Factor, after Reiman claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s body language during a recent speech suggested she “practices the speech too much,” O’Reilly responded: “You know who used to do that, who practiced for hours before making a speech? And I’m not making any comparison here. So, don’t — you crazy left-wing websites out there, it’s not a comparison. Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler practiced for hours, all of his … gestures and everything else before he went out there.” [9/30/08]

Obama defends choice of Rev. Warren at inauguration: ?We can disagree without being disagreeable.?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 1:46 pm by HL

Obama defends choice of Rev. Warren at inauguration: ?We can disagree without being disagreeable.?
Yesterday, news broke that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church would be given the honor of delivering the invocation at President-elect Obama’s inauguration. Warren has a record of deeply anti-progressive views, including likening gay marriage to polygamy and incest. Members of the progressive community, including PFAW and Human Rights Campaign, swiftly criticized the announcement. Today […]

Yesterday, news broke that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church would be given the honor of delivering the invocation at President-elect Obama’s inauguration. Warren has a record of deeply anti-progressive views, including likening gay marriage to polygamy and incest. Members of the progressive community, including PFAW and Human Rights Campaign, swiftly criticized the announcement. Today in his press conference, Obama attempted to defend Warren:

OBAMA: [I]t’s important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. And I would note that a couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. […]

[W]hat we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.

Watch it:

Obama also pointed to the fact that he has invited Rev. Joseph Lowery, who has “deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren,” to deliver the benediction at the end of the inauguration.

ThinkFast: December 18, 2008
“I didn’t compromise my soul to be popular,” President Bush told Fox News in an interview yesterday. “Look, everybody likes to be popular,” he said. “I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don’t approve of the economy. … I’ve had, hell, a lot of serious challenges.” At a press conference today, President-elect Barack […]


I didn’t compromise my soul to be popular,” President Bush told Fox News in an interview yesterday. “Look, everybody likes to be popular,” he said. “I mean, do people approve of the economy? No. I don’t approve of the economy. … I’ve had, hell, a lot of serious challenges.”

At a press conference today, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce securities-industry regulator Mary Schapiro as his choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Obama also plans to name economic adviser Dan Tarullo to an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board and Gary Gensler to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) will not appoint anyone to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama. When asked if an appointment is forthcoming, Blagojevich’s lawyer Ed Genson said, “No. Harry Reid said that they’re not going to accept anybody he picks. Why would he do that?

Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has reportedly “apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for embarrassing him before the watching world.” Writing to Maliki, Zaidi pleaded: “I remember in the summer of 2005, I interviewed your Excellency and you told me, ‘Come in, this is your house.’ And so I appeal to your fatherly feelings to forgive me.”

A new military plan for troop withdrawals from Iraq presented to President-elect Barack Obama this week falls short of the 16-month timetable Obama outlined during his election campaign. The plan, proposed by Gens. David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, envisions withdrawing 7,000 to 8,000 troops from Iraq in the first six months of 2009, but “would leave 12 combat brigades in Iraq by June 2009.” More ?

Cheney Defends Torture: It ?Would Have Been Unethical Or Immoral? For Us Not To Torture
In an interview earlier this week, Vice President Cheney admitted to personally approving the torture of high-profile detainees. In a new interview with the Washington Times, Cheney stridently defended the Bush administration’s torture policies, saying, “I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do.” He added emphatically […]

cheney-car.gifIn an interview earlier this week, Vice President Cheney admitted to personally approving the torture of high-profile detainees. In a new interview with the Washington Times, Cheney stridently defended the Bush administration’s torture policies, saying, “I feel very good about what we did. I think it was the right thing to do.” He added emphatically that he would “do exactly the same thing again.”

Most audaciously, Cheney specifically defended the morality of torture, suggesting that it would have been immoral for the United States to not torture:

“In my mind, the foremost obligation we had from a moral or an ethical standpoint was to the oath of office we took when we were sworn in, on January 20 of 2001, to protect and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. And that’s what we’ve done,” he said. […]

I think it would have been unethical or immoral for us not to do everything we could in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11,” Mr. Cheney said.

Cheney insisted that the torture policies he helped craft were “directly responsible for the fact that we’ve been able to avoid or defeat further attacks against the homeland for 7 1/2 years.”

Torture has endangered, not protected, American lives. Military experts say that the U.S.’s torture policies have been the single greatest recruiting tool for al Qaeda. A former interrogator who worked in Iraq stated unequivocally, “The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Rather than keeping us safe, former FBI special agent Jack Cloonan warned that Cheney’s torture policies will lead directly to another domestic terrorist attack:

Based on my experience in talking to Al Qaida members, I am persuaded that revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming; that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans; and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality.

Cheney appeared unconcerned about the possibility of being held legally responsible for what many are calling an admission of war crimes. He insisted that waterboarding was not torture, and explained, “We spent a great deal of time and effort getting legal advice.” However, speaking on MSNBC last night, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said, “You can’t just suddenly change something that is illegal into something that is legal by having a lawyer write an opinion that saying it’s legal.”

Coleman Wants To Use Campaign Money For Legal Fees

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 1:41 pm by HL

Coleman Wants To Use Campaign Money For Legal Fees
How can Norm Coleman afford the services of Doug Kelley, the high-profile attorney he just hired on connection with the allegations in the Nasser Kazeminy lawsuit? After all, as Kazeminy himself is alleged to have said: “US senators don’t make…

Madoff: “Most Of Us In This Industry Really Have Their Clients’ Interests … Coming First”
As has been widely reported, one of the reasons why Bernard Madoff may have avoided regulatory scrutiny for so long is that he frequently served as an advisor to the SEC — the very agency that should have been watchdogging…

Depression Economics: Normal Rules Don’t Apply

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 1:40 pm by HL

Depression Economics: Normal Rules Don’t Apply
Paul Krugman is trying to get us to understand that depression economics is different from the economics of good times, that “normal rules don’t apply.” Let me try to illustrate this point by looking at some objections to depression…

Stability is Destabilizing
I do not think that Paul Krugman should apologize for recognizing the canary in the coal mine back in 1997-98. Hyman Minsky saw this coming as early as the late 1950s. To the extent that we really did have…

Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 5:41 am by HL

Quote of the Day
The campaign is over. It’s never going to be the same. I think everyone is wistful.”

— Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, quoted in the upcoming New York Times Magazine.

David Sirota: Did America Get Punk’d on the Bailout?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 5:38 am by HL

David Sirota: Did America Get Punk’d on the Bailout?
The answer is yes … now here’s what to do about it.

A Bigot, Anti-Choice Pastor Picked for Obama’s Inauguration
A very strange pick — Pastor Rick Warren opposes gay marriage, doesn’t believe in evolution and compared abortion to the Holocaust.

Bikes Point the Way to a Sustainable Future
Bicycling subcultures signal a sensibility that stands against oil wars, environmental devastation, urban decay and monocultural sprawl.

In This Era of Hope, Obama Must Embrace a Genuine Agenda of Peace
Obama’s election was in substantial part a mandate for ending the war and demilitarizing U.S. foreign policy; now it’s time to hold him to it.

Does the Spiraling Economy Spell the Doom of Big, Fat Weddings?
The average U.S. wedding costs $30,000 — in today’s economic climate, eloping is looking better and better.

Obama Should Worry About Iraqi Shoes, Too

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 5:37 am by HL

Obama Should Worry About Iraqi Shoes, Too
When Iraq’s violence escalates, President Obama better not be caught on his heels when he’s blamed for losing Bush’s "win."

In This Era of Hope, Obama Must Embrace a Genuine Agenda of Peace
Obama’s election was in substantial part a mandate for ending the war and demilitarizing U.S. foreign policy; now it’s time to hold him to it.

Could Obama’s Pro-Marijuana Commerce Secretary Spell a Golden Era for Pot Reform?
Bill Richardson believes we need to "rethink and decriminalize" our cannabis laws. Now that he’s in office, he has the chance to achieve it.

ICE Workplace Sweeps a Waste of Time and Money
All told, ICE spent $1.6 billion last year on detention.

A Bigot, Anti-Choice Pastor Picked for Obama’s Inauguration
A very strange pick — Pastor Rick Warren opposes gay marriage, doesn’t believe in evolution and compared abortion to the Holocaust.

New Report: Clean Water Protections Are Failing
The policies the Bush administration adopted are undermining pollution protection of our wetlands, rivers and streams.

Why Iranians Love and Loathe Ahmadinejad and Think Nuclear Technology’s Their Right
An Iranian-American author explains why their president elicits such passionate emotions from both supporters and opponents.

How Should Non-Depression Economics Be Changed?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 18th, 2008 5:36 am by HL

How Should Non-Depression Economics Be Changed?
Brad’s definition of non-depression economics gives us a set of policy beliefs that “is no longer sufficient doctrine for our age,” but he doesn’t tell us why it is no longer sufficient, or what the new doctrine should be….

What Is Non-Depression Economics?
This discussion has so far one major lack: it does not tell us what “depression economics” is supposed to replace–it does not tell us what non-depression economics is, or was. So let me try my hand at a definition of…