Mar
01
2012

SoundBites

Extra! January 2012

Why the Supercommitee Failed

So the Supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?

Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of fear that there would be a political price for seeming intransigent. But this could only happen if the news media were willing to point out who

is really refusing to compromise. And they aren’t. If and when the Supercommittee fails, virtually all news reports will be he-said, she-saids, quoting Democrats who blame Republicans and vice versa without ever explaining the truth.

—Paul Krugman (New York Times, 11/18/11)

Easily Impressed

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back. Bob, tell me something I don’t know.

BOB WOODWARD, Washington Post: That the White House has a secret plan to win the election and it’s complex and it’s secret, but it—look, Barack Obama wants to win so badly, as I understand it, everything in the White House is driven by the election and that level of commitment will take them to a point where he’s going to show some leg in a way that people are going to say, wow, he really wants the job and this emotional connection could take place.

MATTHEWS: Wow. I do—I am impressed by that.

NBC’s Chris Matthews Show (10/30/11)

A Tax ‘Hike’ a Republican Can Love

“Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hardline stance against new taxes,” reported the Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery (11/9/11), “offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.” References to that $300 billion tax hike were soon everywhere. But the Republican offer came with a giant catch: The plan would extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and then some—bringing tax rates down even further for those in the top tax bracket. So what Montgomery presented as an offer to raise taxes in order to decrease the national debt would actually lower tax revenues by some $3.7 trillion (Political Animal, 11/9/11).

Not Misunderestimated After All?

Just because he wears cowboy boots and drops his G’s doesn’t mean he’s a dummy. [Rick] Perry may be a small-town boy who went to an ag school (Texas A&M University), but he’s an extremely cagey and strategic politician who has been among the state’s most successful governors at getting what he wants.

— Evan Smith (Washington Post, 8/21/11)

He’s smart enough to be president of the United States. He’s smart enough to be elected, I think.... The voters in Texas have said three times he’s smart enough to be governor.

ABC World News senior Washington editor Rick Klein (Fox News’ On the Record, 8/29/11)

I will tell you: It’s three agencies of government, when I get there, that are gone: Commerce, Education and the—what’s the third one there? Let’s see.... OK. So Commerce, Education and the—... The third agency of government I would—I would do away with the Education, the...Commerce and—let’s see—

I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.

— Rick Perry (Republican presidential debate, 11/9/11)

Dignity—Tabloid-Style

The front page of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post (11/4/11), urging a crackdown on Occupy Wall Street, proclaimed: “Enough! Mr. Mayor, It Is Time to Reclaim Zuccotti Park—and New York’s Dignity.” This on the same front page that recently (8/10/11) declared, “Crazy Stox Like a Hooker’s Drawers—Up, Down, Up.” Another cover (10/27/09) photoshopped a skirt onto a Phillies baseball player with a line about the “Frillies” coming to town. And who could forget the Iraq War classic (2/14/03), “UN Meets: Weasels to Hear New Iraq Evidence,” with weasel heads superimposed onto the representatives from France and Germany? That’s Murdoch’s motto—always dignity.

The American Side of War

The New York Times (11/13/11) profiled ABC military correspondent Martha Raddatz, presenting her as a different kind of reporter: “Her approach to the beat is to cover war in its entirety.” What they mean is that she’s close to U.S. troops in the field, and also to their families back home. She’s “a reporter who shows the human side of war,” explained the Times’ Jennifer Conlin—and by “human,” Conlin apparently meant “American”; when there was criticism of drone strikes killing Afghan civilians, Raddatz went on ABC World News (5/31/11; Extra!, 8/11) to declare “they simply have to carry out airstrikes over there.”

Raddatz told the Times: “No matter how you feel about this war or how we got into it, you have to care about our servicemen. I can’t pretend to be objective when it comes to service or sacrifice.” The Times continued, “Despite her worldview, Ms. Raddatz is very much a denizen of the Beltway culture.” It’s not clear what part of this worldview would set her apart from Beltway elites.

And Now, a Word From Our Owner

It was hard to tell whether Brian Williams (NBC Nightly News, 10/26/11) was reporting news or reading ad copy:

A new chapter in aviation history was written today. The Boeing Dreamliner is now a reality. It flew its first real flight with paying passengers on board today.... The Dreamliner is a thoroughly modern and efficient plane, and the cabin pressurization is designed to make flying less taxing on passengers.

Not mentioned by Williams: GE, which owns 49 percent of NBC, is a key subcontractor for the Dreamliner.

A Virulent Metaphor

“Like any new immigrant, the deadly West Nile virus became American almost immediately after landing on our shores—altering itself to fit in and then infecting a popular backyard bird to secure a firm foothold in its new home.”

San Jose Mercury News (10/26/11; CJR, 11/1/11)