Nov
17
2014

Will Bob Schieffer Move Toward the Center?

schief-mccaskill

Bob Schieffer is right that "a lot of people" think the Democrats should move to the "center"–especially journalists and pundits, who have been saying this for at least 30 years. There's no reason to think it's especially good advice, but that doesn't seem to matter.

Oct
20
2014

Pointless 2016 Election Journalism, 2014 Edition

wapost-romney

Trying to cover the 2016 presidential election based on a poll in 2014 is a waste of time.

Sep
05
2012

Dems Didn't Start Social Security — and Other False Factchecks From Factcheck.org

Rep. James Clyburn (SEIU)

Under the headline "Democratic Disinformation From Charlotte," the website Factcheck.org (9/5/12) took aim at this "dubious or misleading claim": Rep. James Clyburn engaged in partisan myth-making when he said “Democrats created Social Security” while Republicans “cursed the darkness.” History records strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate for the measure President Roosevelt signed in 1935. Later, in explaining this judgment, Factcheck wrote: For sure, there was opposition to the legislation. Sen. Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, warned that it would "end the progress of a great country," as the New York Times reported. But Hastings was in the minority, […]

Apr
17
2012

Richard Cohen on Candidate Lying Is Half-Baked–and Half Cribbed

Richard Cohen says he envies people who are persuasive liars. He really ought to envy people who are persuasive writers. His column today (4/17/12) is ostensibly about how Mitt Romney is a big liar. It goes almost its entire length, though, before citing any compelling examples of Romney lying. (Cohen does say call Romney's claim "rubbish" that he doesn't watch the ads his Super PAC supporters make to attack his opponents–but is it really so hard to believe that a candidate might choose to remain strategically ignorant about such spots?) At the end, he points out that Romney claims Obama […]

Mar
05
2012

Rush and the Right: The 'Clown' GOP Leaders Fear

Rush Limbaugh's attack on Georgetown student Sandra Fluke–calling her, among other things, a "slut" for advocating for contraceptives coverage–has caused some stirrings on the right that are worth looking at. One outcome is the idea that Limbaugh's an outlier who sensible people repudiated. Kathleen Parker's Washington Post column on Saturday (3/2/12) cheered Limbaugh for uniting all decent people in opposition to his crude attacks: Who'd have thought that Rush Limbaugh would become the great uniter in this divisive political season? Indeed, he has united decent people of all stripes and persuasions with his vile remarks about a Georgetown University law […]

Feb
24
2012

Krugman: Actually, Romney's Insincerity Is a Bad Thing

There's this notion in the elite press that Mitt Romney's flip flops are a good thing–we've written about it here and here. In the latter post, I pointed to Nicholas Kristof's take: I'd much rather have a cynical chameleon than a far-right ideologue who doesn't require contortions to appeal to Republican primary voters, who says things that Republican candidates have all been saying and, God forbid, actually means it. This has never made much sense to me. It's based on the hunch that the "real" Romney–you know, the Massachusetts Moderate–would be the guy in the Oval Office and not the […]

Feb
10
2012

The Way to Voters' Hearts Is Proposing What They Don't Want

You often see pundits making suggestions to political candidates like David Brooks makes in his New York Times column today (1/10/12): If Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is…. He needs to stop opportunistically backtracking on his Medicare position, just to please whatever senior group he happens to be in front of. He needs to show that he is willing to pursue at least a few unpopular […]

Jan
19
2012

O'Reilly's Comes to Romney's Aid on Taxes–Armed with Inaccuracies

Mitt Romney might need some help defending his considerable wealth or controversial career in private equity. But he doesn't need the kind of help Bill O'Reilly is offering. Mitt Romney's declaration that he pays about a 15 percent tax rate on his income has generated plenty of chatter, in part because it confirms that much of the Republican candidate's yearly income is taxed at a rate appropriate for capital gains and dividend income–much lower than if Romney were actually working for a living. But enter into the picture Fox host Bill O'Reilly, who apparently thought he should rescue Romney by […]

Jan
12
2012

NYT to Readers: Can You Handle the Truth?

New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane has a new column wondering if the readers of the Paper of Record want to know if the politicians the paper covers are telling the truth. Seriously. It's right here. He writes: I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge "facts" that are asserted by newsmakers they write about. He even has a pretty good example: on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches "apologizing for America," a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing […]

Jan
12
2012

When the Campaign Moves Back to the 'Center'

The presidential campaign is breaking down along familiar ideological lines, according to New York Times reporter John Harwood (1/12/12): American voters loathe both major symbols of the forces squeezing their pocketbooks and life savings. President Obama will seek re-election vowing to rein in one of them: Wall Street. Mitt Romney will focus on the other: Washington. There are some complications (Republicans attacking Mitt Romney's "vulture" capitalism for starters), but Harwood assures readers that soon enough the candidates will be back to the sensible middle. But what's the center? Romney's right-wing rhetoric about Obama's fondness for Big Government and European socialism […]

Jan
10
2012

Pundits and the Romney Pass

In theory, presidential campaigns are a valuable opportunity for journalists to evaluate candidates' positions on important issues so citizens can make an informed choice. Actual media coverage is different, of course. And it's striking how some media voices diminish the importance of what the candidates are saying, treating it as meaningless theater that need not bear any relation to what they really think. It's remarkably cynical–and arguably dangerous as well. But that seems to be the approach when it comes to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. As Jim Naureckas already pointed out, there's a tendency in the corporate media to argue […]

Jan
10
2012

It's GOOD That Romney Has No Principles

We've been seeing a lot of this sort of thing lately–this time from Elizabeth Wurtzel on TheAtlantic.com (1/9/12): All the reasons Romney is disliked are all the reasons he would be an excellent president. Let's start by recognizing that principled politicians are highly overrated–consider Jimmy Carter as Exhibit A. Despite our pretensions to pretension, we are not a country that loves ideology–we're not, heaven forbid, France–so much as we are a can-do people that, after all, last elected a yes-we-can president. We like what works, not what it says in The Communist Manifesto, which reads like a guidebook for a […]

Jan
04
2012

Iowans Frustrate Reporters With Their Multiple Opinions

The usual criticisms of the Iowa caucuses–that the votes of a small, demographically unrepresentative slice of America gobble up too much airtime–are basically correct. As David Sirota noted in Salon (1/3/12): The same journalism industry that pleads poverty to justify cutting big city newspapers' editorial staffs, gutting coverage of state legislatures and city councils, and eliminating every other critical topic not related to Washington's red-versus-blue fetish from news content–as writer Joe Romero recounts, this same industry has for months devoted a massive army to cover Iowa's small contest. Just one example of the absurdity: At least one of Rick Santorum's […]