Media Criticism

The right’s ugly food-stamp obsession is back! Why lying dog-whistle politics returned…

The right's ugly food-stamp obsession is back! Why lying dog-whistle politics returned

Dick Cheney on “Cavuto,” on the Fox Business Network, Dec. 9, 2013. (Credit: AP/Richard Drew)

Salon – Joan Walsh

“Welcome to Obama’s America,” Fox’s Eric Bolling told his audience Tuesday – a dystopia where people now use food stamps to patronize “strip clubs, liquor stores, pot dispensaries.” Following up on its rubbishy August 2013 faux-exposé “The Great Food Stamp Binge,” Fox again profiled “surfing freeloader” Jason Greenslate, who is allegedly “livin’ large” in San Diego, thanks to the SNAP program, commonly known as food stamps. After Bill O’Reilly’s errand boy Jesse Watters caught up with Greenslate again Monday night, “The Five” used the lazy surfer as “the representative of literally millions of Americans,” in Bolling’s words. It was epic.

“He’s playing the system, he’s stretching the rules to their limits,” Bolling told Fox’s angry, fearful, mostly elderly viewers. “But what would you expect with a $105 billion program that’s almost tripled under Obamanomics? That’s what you would expect, right there, take a look at it. But what’s next? Strip clubs, liquor stores, pot dispensaries? Oh, that’s already going on, folks. Welcome to Obama’s America.”

Bolling’s rant came a day after Dick Cheney visited Fox and attacked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s military cuts, telling Sean Hannity, bizarrely, that Obama “would much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops.”

The right just can’t leave that old dog-whistle alone. It’s 2012 all over again – Newt Gingrich will be reviving his claim that Obama’s “the food stamp president” any minute now. In “Obama’s America,” the right is determined to make the president the tribune of a moocher-rewarding, ever-expanding welfare state, even if they have to lie to do so.

Of course in Obama’s America (and everyone else’s) SNAP regulations prohibit buying alcohol or tobacco with food stamps, let alone drugs, and they can’t be used at restaurants or bars, let alone strip clubs. But Bolling wants Fox viewers in a perpetual state of moral panic, and the notion that slackers like Greenslate are “livin’ large” – Fox’s term — on the public dime just works, the facts be damned.



Cheney’s rant was in some ways more offensive. Charging that the cuts proposed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are “really devastating,” Cheney went on: “It does enormous long-term damage to our military. They act as though it is like highway spending and you can turn it on and off. The fact of the matter is he is having a huge impact on the ability of future presidents to deal with future crises that are bound to arise.”

Of course, as Think Progress noted back when Cheney began lobbying against defense cuts in 2012, the former vice president himself presided over a 25 percent cut to the defense budget back when he was defense secretary under George H.W. Bush. The fighting force was reduced by 500,000 active-duty soldiers, a move that was blessed by Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Colin Powell.

That was then. These cuts are the work of Obama’s team. So not only must they be attacked as dangerous, they’ve got to be framed as something the corrupt Chicago “gangster” is doing to reward his coalition of slackers, moochers and lazy white surfers.

Now, maybe it’s progress that Fox is making a white surfer the poster boy for food stamp abuse – but it’s the link to “Obama’s America” that updates Reagan’s old imagery about Cadillac-driving welfare queens and “young bucks” using food stamps to buy “T-bone steaks.”

In fact only 1 percent of SNAP funds are wasted in fraud. Three-quarters of SNAP households include an elderly or disabled person or a child, and fully 42 percent of adult recipients are also working, but making too little to feed themselves and their families. Among the nation’s food stamp recipients are almost a million military veterans, who were slurred by Cheney, and thousands of active duty military too. Military families spent $100 million in food stamp funds at military grocery stores in 2013.

Fox and Cheney don’t want you to think about the veteran or the soldier or the single mother or the disabled senior on food stamps. They don’t want Fox viewers to ask why 42 percent of recipients make such low wages that they qualify for food assistance, or why so many veterans and even active-duty soldiers need help. To distract from an economy that’s increasingly hoarding rewards at the top, they point to a cartoonish moocher and blame Obama.

From Fox News to Rush: Secrets of the right’s lie machine

From Fox News to Rush: Secrets of the right's lie machine

Salon

Conservative media plays by its rules, and bends truth to back whatever argument they’ve decided to make that day

Excerpted from “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America” 

One key factor that has altered campaign coverage comes from the corporate right in the form of “conservative” media. If there has been a vacuum created by the downsizing of newsrooms, conservative media have filled it with an insistent partisanship unseen in commercial news media for nearly a century. The conservative media program has been a cornerstone of the Dollarocracy’s — the big money and corporate media election complex — political program since at least Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo. Initially, the work was largely about criticizing the news media for being unfair to conservative Republicans and having a liberal Democratic bias. Although the actual research to support these claims was, to be generous, thin—one major book edited by Brent Bozell actually claimed corporations such as General Electric were “liberal” companies with an interest in anti-business journalism because they had made small donations to groups like the NAACP and the Audubon Society—the point was not to win academic arguments. The point of bashing the “liberal media,” as Republican National Committee chairman Rich Bond conceded in 1992, was to “work the refs” like a basketball coach does so that “maybe the ref will cut you a little slack” on the next play.

The ultimate aim of Dollarocracy was, as James Brian McPherson put it, “to destroy the professionalism that has defined journalism since the mid-twentieth century.” The core problem was that professional journalism, to the extent it allowed editors and reporters some autonomy from the political and commercial values of owners, opened space for the legitimate presentation of news and perspectives beyond the range preferred by conservatives. That professional journalism basically conveyed the debates and consensus of official sources and remained steadfastly within the ideological range of the leadership of the two main political parties—it never was sympathetic to the political left—was of no concern. It still gave coverage to policy positions on issues such as unions, public education, civil rights, progressive taxation, social security, and the environment that were thoroughly mainstream but anathema to the right. Key to moving the political center of gravity to the right was getting the news media on the train, and that meant getting them to have a worldview more decidedly sympathetic to the needs of society’s owners. Newt Gingrich was blunt when he told media owners in 1995 that they needed to crack the whip on their newsrooms and have the news support the corporation’s politics. “Get your children to behave,” he demanded in a private meeting with media CEOs.

In the late 1980s, conservatives moved from criticism to participation with the aggressive creation of right-wing partisan media. The first decisive move came with AM talk radio. The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine (which required that a broadcaster provide two sides to controversial political issues) and the relaxation of ownership rules such that a handful of companies established vast empires opened the door to a tidal wave of hard-core right-wing talk-show hosts. By the first decade of the century, the 257 talk stations owned by the five largest companies were airing over 2,500 hours of political talk weekly and well over 90 percent was decidedly right wing.

The undisputed heavyweight champion was and is Rush Limbaugh, who emerged as a national radio force by 1990 and who by 1993 was already recognized by the bible of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review magazine, as an unmatched political power in Republican circles; the Review dubbed him the “Leader of the Opposition.” Limbaugh and his cohorts have the power to make or break Republican politicians, and all who wish successful national careers have to pray at his far-right altar or suffer the consequences. As Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph Cappella put it, in many respects Limbaugh came to play the role party leaders had played in earlier times.

Read the complete article here

Two scandals deflated, one persists

Salon – Joan Walsh

The Obama administration started Tuesday mired in three scandals the GOP seemed able to tie “into one ‘Big Brother Obama’ storyline,” in the words of Greg Sargent, and ended it appearing to face political culpability on only one, the Department of Justice’s broad subpoenas obtaining phone records from the Associated Press. It’s not to say Benghazi or the IRS mess went away, but the GOP’s creepy plot line got a whole lot less plausible.

The Benghazi “scandal” lost velocity thanks to CNN’s Jake Tapper reporting that an email key to the notion that the White House doctored talking points to protect the State Department didn’t at all read the way ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported it. Karl quoted White House national security communications advisor Ben Rhodes’ email specifically saying the talking points should “reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department,” but the actual email obtained by Tapper didn’t mention the State Department at all. Karl ended the day with the shocking admission that while he’d reported on air that he’d “obtained” the emails in question, and wrote online that he’d “reviewed” them, in fact he’d only heard about them from the notes of a source – presumed to be a House GOP staffer.

Amazingly, Karl insisted Tapper’s reporting didn’t challenge the basic facts of his story, even though he acknowledged for the first time that he hadn’t actually “obtained” or “reviewed” the actual emails, but rather had notes about them read to him by his source. The fact that Karl put the purported email from Rhodes within quotation marks – which in actual journalism means you’re reading a direct quote from someone – seriously damages his credibility. But the ABC reporter reported concluded his self-defense by blaming the White House for failing to release all the emails – rather than blaming his source for misleading him, or himself for misleading his readers by using quotes around the Rhodes email.

Here’s hoping ABC News explains why the paraphrased depiction of notes about an email from a hostile source wound up within quotation marks attributed to Rhodes, and whether that’s the news organization’s policy.

On the IRS mess, the day closed with the release of the Inspector General’s report on the improper review of applications by Tea Party-related groups for tax-exempt “social welfare” status. The report blamed “inadequate management” for the review process, which began under Bush-appointed leadership, and it reads like everyone’s worst nightmare of incompetent government. But it finds no evidence that anyone higher than middle management was responsible for the review. Moreover, although it’s clear that groups with Tea Party or Patriot in their names came in for more scrutiny and delay than most liberal groups,  more than two thirds of the groups flagged for review had nothing to do with the Tea Party. And none of the conservatives were denied tax-exempt status, though many faced long delays.  Ironically, the only group that saw its status denied (for 10 of its chapters) was Emerge America, which works to elect Democratic women to office.

Within hours, President Obama sent a scathing statement about the IG’s findings, calling them “intolerable and inexcusable” and promising that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would make sure all of its recommendations to correct the flaws in the IRS’s review process were implemented.

It’s the DOJ’s subpoena of phone records for 20 AP phone lines used by at least 100 reporters, in pursuit of a government official who leaked information about the U.S. foiling another al Qaida underwear-bomb plot, that has the capacity to damage the Obama administration. This White House is already shadowed by the fact that it has prosecuted more government “leakers” – also known as whistleblowers – than all previous administrations put together.

As Marcy Wheeler explained in Salon, the DOJ’s own guidelines require it to go directly to the news agency in question with its subpoena, which would have given AP the right to negotiate over it, or challenge it in court. The DOJ may subvert that requirement if going to the news agency would “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.” Since the investigation into the identity of the leaker was already big news – in fact, congressional leaders in both parties had demanded it – it hardly constituted a secret operation that would be blown by negotiating with the AP.

So did Tuesday’s developments on the Benghazi and IRS fronts break scandal fever in the Beltway? Sadly, no. On Wednesday MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” remained scandal central, setting the day’s agenda. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank’s wispy, fact-light “President Passerby” seems to be the top talking point: Even if some of the smoke is clearing, Obama hasn’t done enough personally to put out the fires. That’s leading the Drudge Report as I write.

Obama is not without blame here; the AP scandal particularly seems to stem from his administration’s overall approach to secrecy. With hindsight, he probably should have directed Jack Lew to take bolder steps on Friday night, when the IRS story broke. On Benghazi, the Beltway is determined to punish the president for insisting the talking points scandal is a “sideshow” – when that’s exactly what it is.

As I wrote Monday, before the AP news, some of the same bad actors who paralyzed the country during the Clinton years over phony scandals are getting ready to do it again. It’s too bad the genuine overreach by the DOJ is going to give some progressives understandable pause about wholeheartedly defending the administration. But people need to acknowledge that two of these three scandals were concocted by the GOP outrage machine.

Meanwhile, the headline crawl on “Morning Joe” announced: “U.S. deficit shrinks far faster than expected.” But the words sat there silently, drowned out by noise about mostly made-up scandals.

 

Jobs Report Covered Through 2012 Election Lens, Media Not Focused On Impact To American People

Jobs ReportIn my opinion, the media needs to report the real news and not just what’s happening in Washington or who gave the most millions to the latest super-pac.

So yes, I completely agree with the HuffPo’s Michael Calderone‘s article…

The Huffington Post

Romney’s up. Obama’s down.

That’s the takeaway from much of Friday’s media coverage of another disappointing monthly jobs report and unchanged unemployment number of 8.2 percent. Like clockwork, political reporters quickly sized up whether the addition of 80,000 jobs in June would help or hurt President Barack Obama’s chances of keeping his own job, rather than the broader impact on millions of unemployed Americans.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza tweeted that June’s number presents a “major political problem for Obama.” He later suggested in a blog post that any hope the president “will be able to run for reelection bolstered by an improving financial picture is rapidly disappearing.”

Kicking off MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” host Chuck Todd said that “another disappointing jobs report puts more pressure on the president with just four months until election day.” On Twitter, Politico’s Ben White said the report is “not good news for Obama.”

In covering the campaign horse race, reporters often make snap judgements following statements, reports, or “gaffes” that are mostly forgotten days later amid the stream of non-stop election coverage.

Earlier this week, the consensus among reporters was that Team Romney was down, following adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s comment that the individual health care mandate is a “penalty” rather than a “tax.” Similar to health care — where the media focused more on the politics of the bill rather than its contents — the jobs numbers could be reduced to a win or loss in a long election season.

But as the summer holiday week came to a close, Team Obama was on the defensive, as Friday’s news was ruled a tough blow for the president — at least according to the news media.

“The U.S. unemployment rate remained flat in June, which is bad news for President Obama,” began an ABC News piece.

Continue reading here…

Right-wing press demands liberal media repeat “Occupy shooter” smear

Right -Wing Media is a wholly owned subsidiary of wackos and nuts…

Salon

How a disturbed would-be presidential assassin became another bizarre conservative meme

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez tried to kill President Barack Obama, by firing a gun at the White House, and one would think that that combination of “hating Obama” and “using a gun” would make using him to smear liberals a bit of a stretch, even for Fox and the rest of the right-wing press. You’d think that they’d shy away from even mentioning the guy, as they generally do in prominent cases of decidedly right-wing politically motivated violence. You’d be wrong, though, because they’ve all decided that Ortega-Hernandez is the Occupy Wall Street shooter.

Ortega-Hernandez will soon be a minor historical footnote, like the guy who tried to crash a plane into Nixon’s White House, Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, the weird guy who may have been a part of a secret plot to kill or scare Jimmy Carter, John Hinkley, the guy who tried to crash an airplane into Bill Clinton’s White House, the guy who fired bullets at Bill Clinton’s White House and the guy who fired bullets at George W. Bush’s White House. What did all of these people have in common? Their motives were … slightly difficult for rational people to comprehend. They tended to be paranoid and disturbed and their stated reasons for wishing the president dead were usually fairly incoherent.

Continue Reading

TV that deserves the name “journalism”

I am a very pleased fan of Up With Chris Hayes, the weekend morning news show that already has over 150,000 viewers and has only been on for about a month or so.

I DVR the show since it comes on at 7am on Saturdays and 8am on Sundays…

Salon – David Sirota

Chris Hayes’ new show on MSNBC provides a rare space for the expansive, non-partisan debates we need

Waking up at 4 a.m. is rarely enjoyable, and arising at that unspeakable hour to appear on a cable news show is particularly painful. In such situations, you feel as if you’re dragging yourself out of bed only to be treated like a canine in a dogfight, with the typical show pitting you in a contrived death match against another guest who is your equally angry, equally mangy opposite. That, or you’re simply asked to play the yes-man — the Ed McMahon to the host’s Johnny Carson.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of most cable news because I find this format mind-numbing, uninformative and tedious (and cable news’ declining ratings over the last year prove I’m not alone). So when I was asked to appear on MSNBC last Saturday morning, my initial thought was, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

But then I realized it was a new show hosted by Chris Hayes, a journalist whose work I’ve long admired. So I said yes. And crack-of-dawn fatigue aside, I’m glad I did, because to my surprise, I ended up getting the chance to participate in one of the best television programs on the air.

“Up With Chris Hayes,” which broadcasts Saturday and Sunday mornings, purposely rejects the manufactured red-versus-blue mallet that bludgeons every issue into partisan terms. Instead, the program’s host is creating a space for more expansive discussions with voices typically deemed too unconventional, provocative or dangerous to be allowed anywhere near a television set.

Continue reading here…

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Donald Trump Should Receive The Same Scrutiny He Sought For Barack Obama

I’m still stunned and speechless over Donald Trump’s chest thumping response to the President literally caving in to this clown and the people that believed him when he said that there were questions about the President’s birthplace.  The Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins and The Onion’s Baratunde Thurston seem to channel my thoughts on the matter…

Huffington Post – Jason Linkins

O tempora, o mores, what a day, what a day, right? This morning’s tilt-a-whirl news conference, in which President Barack Obama decided to release his long form birth certificate, to satiate some pure-bred American nutters in thrall to the President’s most disingenuous — or paranoid — opponents, was an event I never thought would come, because I just figured that the White House had the eminent good sense to know that conspiracists should not be negotiated with – just like terrorists.

But here we are today. The President of the United States has brandished documentation that only proved that there was never a compelling reason to brandish it in the first place, seeing as it only proved what he and every relevant official and the documents that were publicly available had already confirmed: that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, a pure citizen of these United States.

Chances are it was a confluence of dumb events that brought the White House to this point. A nearly-enacted law in Arizona that wouldn’t have been satisfied with the clear proof already available. A campaign season on the horizon. Ed Henry’s idiotic questions, posed a day after his own network decided to actually debunk the nonsense once and for all. Franklin Graham’s paranoid assertions going unchallenged on a Sunday Morning political show. I think I understand Obama’s mindset when he said this:

“We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve…We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other … if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers.

[...]

I’ll leave you with the thoughts of The Onion‘s Baratunde Thurston, who basically just went off today when he heard what was happening. Of Trump’s birther binge, Thurston says, “It’s embarrassing to the entire nation that we would sit and let this happen. We have all been debased by this incident. By this charlatan, by this con man, by this mere promoter of himself.”

“No one has ever asked [Trump] to prove anything,” Thurston points out. That should change!

NPR Sting Video Edited Out Of Context

When will the mainstream media get it? 

Anything that comes from “Project Veritas” and James O’Keefe is manipulated, edited and contrived.

Huffington Post

Last week, a Project Veritas “sting” operation directed at National Public Radio cost some NPR executives their jobs. Beginning with Senior Vice President for Fundraising Ron Schiller, who was depicted on tape disparaging the Tea Party movement and suggesting that NPR should move away from federal funding (a position with arguable merit, but probably very unpopular at NPR), the fallout eventually cost NPR CEO Vivian Schiller her job as well.

That’s sort of the NPR way: when one of the humans under their employ gets in trouble for expressing their opinions, everyone starts panicking and people start getting fired. Further analysis of the original video, however, demonstrates the wisdom of the old maxim, “act in haste, repent in leisure.”

Glenn Beck-branded website The Blaze may seem an unlikely defender of NPR, but when the site’s editor, Scott Baker, and video production specialist, Pam Key, examined the raw footage, they found “questionable editing and tactics” and reported them all out. The observations they make in their analysis include the following:

– The video “does not explain how the NPR executives would have a basis to believe they were meeting with a Muslim Brotherhood front group,” and indeed “includes a longer section of description that seems to downplay connections of the MEAC group to the Muslim Brotherhood as popularly perceived.”

– The video is edited to make it appear that Ron Schiller “is aware and perhaps amused or approving of the MEAC['s]” advocacy for Sharia law, but Schiller’s “Really? That’s what they said?” remark is actually made in reference to “confusion” involving the “restaurant reservation.”

How Will The Media Cover The Rally To Restore Sanity, Which Apparently Terrifies Them?

One has to wonder why the media doesn’t want to their employees to take part in the “Restore To Sanity” rally on 10-30-10?  Jason Linkins of HuffPo has some ideas…

Jason Linkins – Huffington Post

Looking over the various guidelines that news organizations are laying out so that their reporters will know what to do about the upcoming Rally To Restore Sanity/March To Keep Fear Alive, I have to confess that I am astonished.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not surprised by the stupidity of it all. I’m just surprised by the way they boldly, proudly, fetishize the stupidity. This is not a stupidity that comes in the form of an inter-office memo that quietly enforces some officious round of B.S. This is a stupidity that is trumpeted, proclaimed, shouted from the hillside, with the expectation that we should be impressed with it.

It would appear that your New York Timeses and your APs and your Politicos are of the opinion that what is going to transpire on October 30th will amount to some sort of super-corrupting thought-crime that might cloud the minds of their employees and leave them with an array of baffling new opinions. In nearly every case, reporters are to treat the Rally/March as a “political event,” though it’s not clear what explicitly political outcome they expect to arise as a result. There is a deep worry, I gather, that it might instill bias in their reporters that could lead to — well, I’m not sure! I guess that’s why no one can take the chance!   Continue reading…

Arianna Huffington: Choking on Its Contrived Objectivity, the Media Refuse to Take a Stand on Sanity

We finally found out the real problem with the mainstream media: They’re agnostic on sanity. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the refusal of mainstream-media organizations to allow their employees to attend Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. That’s right, in a showdown between nonpartisan sanity and partisan madness, the traditional media have boldly decided to… not take a stand. This media groupthink explains a lot — including why we find ourselves in a time and place in our country in which a rally to restore sanity is even necessary. Taking a stand for sanity is neither right nor left. It’s reasonable. That’s why HuffPost is providing buses for people who need a ride to the rally. At the moment, more than 10,000 people have signed up to allow us to drive them sane. Yes, that will be a lot of buses — but there’s a lot of sanity to restore.