Mar
01
2011

SoundBites

Biden Rules

David Gregory: Mitch McConnell says [WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange]’s a high-tech terrorist, others say this is akin to the Pentagon Papers. Where do you come down?

Vice President Joe Biden: I would argue that it’s closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers.

NBC’s Meet the Press (12/19/10)

Jim Lehrer: Should [Egypt’s Hosni] Mubarak be seen as a dictator?

Vice President Joe Biden: Look, Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region.... I would not refer to him as a dictator.

PBS NewsHour (1/27/11)

Neither journalist asked Biden to defend his characterization.

Kathleen Parker, Exceptionally Strange Columnist

The Washington Post’s Kathleen Parker, who has criticized Barack Obama’s “bloodlines” (FAIR Blog, 11/10/08), wrote a column (1/30/11) about how the president “seems afraid” of the word “exceptionalism.” Sure, during the State of the Union address, “Obama did indeed speak of America’s uniqueness,” but he “studiously avoided using the word.” It’s strange enough to write a column complaining that an official didn’t use a particular buzzword, but the oddest part is—according to a review of presidential papers going back to 1929 (USNews.com, 1/31/11)—only one president has ever uttered the phrase “American exceptionalism”...and that’s Barack Obama.

Revolving Door Needs Cold Shower

Howard Fineman (Huffington Post, 1/27/11) on former Time reporter Jay Carney being named White House press secretary:

Among his other attributes, Jay Carney is a cool dancer. I know that because I saw him and his wife, [ABC reporter] Claire Shipman, getting down on the tented dance floor of a fancy Georgetown wedding years ago. Jay Carney, who went to Yale and was a foreign correspondent in Moscow, is—besides being smart, savvy, loyal and well-connected with the right sort—suave.

Counting Covers of the Speaker

Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio) has been featured on the covers of Time (11/15/10), Newsweek (11/1/10), National Journal (10/30/10) and the New Yorker (11/15/10). Naturally—a new speaker of the House is newsworthy by definition, right? But as Annie Shields pointed out on Ms. Blog (1/7/11), it’s not that simple. When Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) was not only House speaker, but the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history, none of the magazines that put Boehner on the cover paid similar attention. (Time did once put a postage-stamp sized image of Pelosi on its cover as one of 2007’s 100 Most Influential People, sandwiched between substantially larger images of Cate Blanchett and football coach Tony Dungy—5/14/07.)

Could it be that magazines have suddenly realized that the speaker is an important part of the U.S. government? Well, no—back in the ’90s, Newt Gingrich was speaker for four years, just like Pelosi. And during that time, he had Time’s cover all to himself five times.

The Lobbyists’ ‘Modest’ Buddy

Under the headline “A Modest Boehner Takes Congress’s Most Powerful Office,” the Washington Post (1/6/11) reported that new Speaker John Boehner “tends to shun big moments” and is “more at home on the golf course with his rank-and-file buddies.” His reception was mostly just-the-folks, though the Post mentioned in passing that there were “some D.C. lobbyists” on hand.

A Time magazine piece (11/5/10) had quite a different view of Boehner’s “rank-and-file buddies”:

Many of Boehner’s closest personal and political friends really are lobbyists for banks, insurers and other corporations.... He’s a frequent flyer on corporate jets and successfully fought a ban on privately funded congressional travel in the 2007 ethics-reform bill. This election cycle alone, special interests have paid for him to take 40 trips worth $158,000. Just hours before his victory speech, he held court at his favorite Washington restaurant, Trattoria Alberto, with his 40 closest friends and advisers, the bulk of whom are corporate lobbyists.

No doubt it was a “modest” affair.

Fox News, Nazis and the ‘Big Lie’

When Rep. Steve Cohen (D.-Tenn.) said that calling healthcare reform a “government takeover of healthcare” was “a big lie—just like Goebbels,” Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (1/20/11) was aghast, saying that pundits on her network would never compare their opponents to Nazis. In fact, such comparisons are common currency on Fox News and in much of right-wing media, as FAIR has documented (FAIR Blog, 1/21/11).

Fox’s Glenn Beck, a leader in this trend, compared the auto bailout to “the early days of Adolf Hitler” (4/1/09) and said that Barack Obama’s plans to expand programs like the Peace Corps were “what Hitler did with the SS” (8/27/09). When Obama said he was looking for “empathy” in a Supreme Court nominee, Beck (5/26/09) claimed that Hitler’s empathy “led to genocide everywhere.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank (10/3/10) counted 147 allusions to Hitler in the first 18 months of Beck’s show, along with 202 references to Nazis and 193 mentions of fascists or fascism. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist whose invocation by a (Democratic) congressmember was so outrageous that it merited in-depth examination on Fox News, was brought up 24 times on Beck.

Great Moments in Public TV, SOTU Edition

From the post-State of the Union discussion on the Charlie Rose Show (1/25/11):

Charlie Rose: With respect to his base, where are they tonight? They listened to him move to the center—

Former Republican Sen. John Sununu: On the Upper West Side.

John Heilemann (New York magazine): Drinking heavily on the Upper West Side.

(LAUGHTER)

The discussion went on to explain how the progressive base either really likes Obama, or won’t have anyone else to vote for so it won’t matter what they think. Such discussions are a lot easier to have when you don’t invite any actual progressives who might disagree with the Upper West Side jokes.