Posts Tagged ‘Politico’

Our Deeply Unserious Corporate Media

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I think this really should have been the focal point of Krugman’s column today, and so the fact that it’s buried at the bottom is a bit disappointing, but I do think that this is the key takeaway from yesterday’s summit:

So what did we learn from the summit? What I took away was the arrogance that the success of things like the death-panel smear has obviously engendered in Republican politicians. At this point they obviously believe that they can blandly make utterly misleading assertions, saying things that can be easily refuted, and pay no price. And they may well be right.

This is basically the fundamental obstacle to getting the public to understand what’s going on with any number of issues at the moment; the Congressional minority is spinning a bunch of outright lies about the proposals, and the media isn’t interested in pointing that out. Consider this Glenn Thrush report, explaining that the summit was “a tie,” and that that means Republicans won because they spoke in complete sentences and didn’t cite Sarah Palin’s Facebook page or something. Thrush was apparently particularly impressed with the Republican decision to let Sen. Alexander take the lead:

The GOP’s smartest move, Democrats say, was picking Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a folksy, even-keeled conservative with a moderate disposition, to lead off.

Alexander eschewed the usual GOP talking points, instead offering a barbed olive branch, disavowing South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s prediction that health care would be Obama’s “Waterloo” — while pressing the moral argument for passing the bill through reconciliation.

 “We want you to succeed,” said Alexander, who urged Obama to heed the lessons the senator learned back in 1979 when he was elected as a 39-year-old governor of the Volunteer State.

 “Some of the media went up to the Democratic leaders of the Legislature and asked, ‘What are you going to do with the new Republican governor?’ They said, ‘I’m going to help him because if he succeeds, our state succeeds,’” said Alexander. “But often they had to persuade me to change my direction to get our state to where it needed to go. I’d like to say the same thing to you: We want you to succeed, because if you succeed, our country succeeds. But we would like, respectfully, to change [your] direction.”

How touching. Thrush thinks (or his sources think, anyway) that it was a smart move to let Alexander lead, and that Alexander took a rhetorically wise track in his remarks. What Thrush never says, not even once, is that Alexander’s “barbed olive branch” included an awful lot of lying of the bill and the process. To the former, Alexander claimed matter of factly that the CBO report on the bill says it will cause premiums to rise. As Krugman notes in his column though, and as many people pointed out in real-time yesterday, this simply isn’t true. The CBO estimates that the bill will lower premiums, and that the lower cost and availability of subsidies will lead to some people buying more coverage. But the same unit of coverage would cost less if the bill was passed. (This, incidentally, is in line with my criticism of another POLITICO article yesterday). Relating to the latter, Alexander claimed that reconcilliation has never been used for something like this, which is an even more egregious falsehood. Reconcilliation has been used to pass TEFRA in 1982, the Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (and 1997), among other Republica priorities. As Krugman notes, both Bush tax cuts were passed using reconcilliation, at a price tag twice that of the current healthcare bill. In the realm of healthcare specifically, COBRA was passed using reconcilliation in 1985. There simply is no way to make Alexander’s statements anything other than egregious falsehoods, but not only do political journalists not point out when polticians are telling egregious lies, they actively praise them based on theater criticism.

It might sound like nit-picking or whining about the refs, but this is a serious problem. If American political journalists are going to make a habit of ignoring when politicians lie about issues, then there’s nothing keeping everyone from wildly making shit up about public debates, which means there’s basically no hope of maintaining an objectively informed populace. And if that happens, democracy itself is threatened.

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POLITICO Journalism

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

This blurb from Carrie Burdoff Brown is striking for a number of reasons.

If President Barack Obama at Thursday’s summit, like caps on malpractice awards or allowing insurers to sell across state lines. really wanted to show he’s serious about winning over Republicans on health care reform, he could offer up some key concessions

And if Republicans wanted to reciprocate, they could at least acknowledge the congressional scorekeepers are right – the Democratic plans cut the deficit in the long term and rein in health care costs.

Yglesias does a pretty thorough job pointing out the substantive ridiculousness of this; noting that Republicans agreeing not to lie, or lie less anyway, about Democratic bills isn’t a sufficient trade off for actual, substantive, concessions on policy. If Democrats are going to include Republican priorities everyone can agree to more or less in the bill, then Republicans are going to have to vote for the bill. If Republicans aren’t willing to do that, then there’s no reason Democrats should offer them anything.

For my part, I’d just like to note what this says about POLITICO. For one thing, the second paragraph just makes no sense. For one thing, Republicans aren’t claiming that “Congressional scorekeepers” are “wrong;” Lamar Alexander is not saying, “the CBO estimates that this proposal will lower premium costs, but my Republican colleagues and I don’t believe that, and have evidence to the contrary,” he’s just claiming the the CBO said premiums would go up. In other words, he’s lying. And Brown either won’t say as much, or she really just isn’t listening to what various officials are actually saying. Either way, it’s illustrative of a major problem with American political journalism that’s going to have to be fixed before we stand any real chance of ever addressing a major social problem.

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Wilder vs. Kaine

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

by Brien Jackson

So I gather that the new meme about town is that Obama needs to fire all those rubes from Chicago who are stearing him wrong and “ruining his brand,” and while I think it’s pretty self-evidently stupid (I haven’t seen anyone explaining why Obama either wouldn’t face a major shit-storm for such a drastic staff shake-up, or won’t be hurt by it), it is what it is. But this article by former Virginia governor Doug Wilder in POLITICO makes even less sense in the genre. Wilder, in addition to calling out Rahm Emmanuel, takes aim at former Virginia governor and current DNC chairman Tim Kaine in a truly bizarre fashion:

Though I discussed with Tim what I was doing relative to the vice presidency, he and I never had any discussions as to whether he should be the national party chairman. There are several reasons why I felt then, and do now, that it is not a good fit for Tim, the party or Obama.

 Positioning Democrats as “tax and spend” has been a favorite pastime of Republicans. Another has been “soft on crime.”

Though I discussed with Tim what I was doing relative to the vice presidency, he and I never had any discussions as to whether he should be the national party chairman. There are several reasons why I felt then, and do now, that it is not a good fit for Tim, the party or Obama.

 Positioning Democrats as “tax and spend” has been a favorite pastime of Republicans. Another has been “soft on crime.”

Well look, I read a lot of Republican/conservative blogs, and get spam mail from a few right-wing blast email outfits and this is the first I’ve heard of this. So with plenty of time to train their sights on Kaine, Republicans haven’t. Which makes perfect sense, given that I can’t think of any election, ever, in which one of the party’s committee chairman became an issue. Not even the much more visible Howard Dean.

Wilder also pulls out the tired trope of the New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts election results, and the requisite ignoring of special elections in NY-20 and NY-23, and declares that the problem with Obama’s inner circle is that they lack sufficient executive branch experience, even though Rahm spent quite a bit of time in the Clinton White House. All of which creates a pattern in which the much more interesting question is; who pissed in Wilder’s corn flakes?

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Programming Note

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Though we are aware of all internet traditions in the parts, and even though the sanctity of the link is quite important in the blogosphere, in light of this memo TNR has obtained, putting down in detail how Politico churns out meaningless bullshit and trivial nonsense for the sole purpose of generating links, this blog will not, except for very rare occassions, post any more hyperlinks to Politico.

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The Continuing Embarrassment of Politico

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Here’s a quick question, if all of Roger Simon’s questions about Tim Geithner’s taxes can be answered within 15 responses in this Balloon Juice thread, why can’t a “top reporter” like Roger Simon just call an IRS agent or some other tax agent and find out that there’s a 3 year statute of limitations on back taxes, barring fraud, and that the standard response to unpaid taxes where there’s no evidence of criminal intent (meaning you made an honest mistake on your taxes) is to pay the back taxes and a penalty (and how does someone who doesn’t know that even get to write a column about taxes)?

Answer, this is journamalism. And journamalism isn’t about facts, or some quaint notion like informing your readers, it’s about being “edgy,” finding some controversy, and getting page clicks. Which is why I’m only linking to the Balloon Juice thread. Don’t go to Simon’s column, it only encourage’s the rag.

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The Continued Shame of Politico

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Continuing to be a stain on American life, Politico gives us it’s list of people that will be “missed” in 2009. Putting aside the celebrity magazine-ish feel of the very concept, the list gives you a real look into how political journalis has very much become a corrollary to celebrity gossip journalism, and why coverage of the Bush administration is so bad.

For starters, we’re apparently going to “miss” 2 felons (1 already convicted, another soon to be) as both Ted Stevens and William Jefferson check in on the list. Why are we going to miss them? Apparently they’re entertaining. And we won’t get anymore “coot-offs” between Stevens and Robert Byrd. Seriously. Also Joe Biden is on the list, even though he’s moving to a much more visible position, because apparently Politico worries he’ll be less verbose as Vice-President than he was as a Senator. I’m heartbroken.

But far and away the most ridiculous item on the list, and quite possibly the most ridiculous thing Politico has ever written, is the idea the Dick “Fuck Off” Cheney is going to be missed:

How many politicians, in either party, would respond to a tough question about public disapproval of foreign policy by asking, “So what?”?

And how many would tell a senior senator to “go f***” himself,” as Cheney notoriously did to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in 2004? Proving his old-school ways, just last weekend the vice president said Leahy “merited it at the time.” Now that’s what we call straight talk.

For better or worse, Cheney has personified the cold-blooded, do-whatever-it-takes side of the Bush administration. Loathed by liberals and largely hidden from public view, the secretive Cheney’s influence over the policies of the past eight years may never be fully understood.

He may not miss the political arena, but it will miss him, since it will likely be a long time before we have another vice president so seemingly insouciant about his public image.

So let me get this straight, the political arena is going to miss Dick Cheney because he’s a politician in a democratic system that doesn’t give a damn what the public thinks about policy? And that’s a good thing?

To quote Brad Delong, why can’t we have a better press corp?

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Wednesday Kennedy Blogging

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Apparently this is going to be one of those topics you have to address daily.

While reading Dana Goldstein’s post on the matter over at TAPPED, it did occur to me that whomever is appointed to the seat is going to be among the very most junior members of the Democratic caucus, in a body where seniority means everything. To that extent, one “qualification” Kennedy certainly does bring to the table is the ability to trade on her name and her connections, most notably to the (next) President, which will give her more of an ability to exert influence on the larger body than any of the other candidates could possibly manage. That might seem trivial on the face of it, but New York is a big state with a lot of interest in what goes on in the Senate for a number of reasons, and it’s very important to a state like that to have representatives with as much influence as possible. Chuck Schumer is both fairly senior in the caucus and a member of the leadership team, and while being fairly low in the seniority ranks, Hillary Clinton was able to leverage her national profile to get more results than the average person in her position would be able to. Is that reason enough to put aside the unseemliness of it all? Maybe not, but it’s probably at least worth keeping it in mind when considering the state’s interests in the matter.

And while we’re on the subject, this article is really bad, even by Politico’s standards (or lack thereof). Leaving aside that it doesn’t even try to address the irony of the party of George W. Bush croning about “Democratic nepotism,” it’s biggest problem seems to be that it’s acting as if all of these instances are exactly the same situation, which is just absurd. For example, even if we concede that the Kennedy talk is totally without merit, that doesn’t really say anything at all about, say, Beau Biden. Biden has already held statewide office in Delaware, and he will not be appointed to the seat. If he wants to fill it after 2010, he’ll have to win a statewide election in Delaware to do so, and if the people of Delaware want him to represent them in the Senate, I don’t see how it’s anyone else’s business to tell them they can’t do that because his dad held the seat and will be the Vice-President of the United States. Similarly, the case of the Salazar brothers has a distinctly square peg feel to it. For one thing, they’re not father-son, or grandfather-grandson, they’re brothers. John was elected to the House the same year Ken was elected to the Senate, although I suppose you could argue he traded in on his brother’s two terms as Attorney General, but he held state level positions over the same tenure. Basically he has a political background of his own in the state, and it’s hard to say that either Salazar brother is where they are because of the other. It certainly seems, to me, that John Salazar may indeed be among the most qualified candidates to replace his brother in the Senate, and I think you’d have a much harder time arguing the opposite.

But the most galling example in the article is, surprise, how it treats Hillary Clinton. In noting her designation to head the State Department, Politico refers to her as “the wife of a former President” and…well nothing. That’s it. And obviously, when you frame it that way, it looks really bad. Who wants their Secretary of State picked on the basis of being the spouse of a former President? But of course that’s not all Hillary Clinton is by any means. She’s a Senator who sits on the Armed Services Committee, she’s a very prominent national, and international, political figure, and she was a trailblazing Presidential candidate who received somewhere between 15-20 million votes to be the Democratic nominee for President. In other words, she’s a qualified figure in her own right, and her marital status is secondary at this point. Of course, if you start pointing these things out, then you sort of erode all of this talk about nepotism and “dynastic politics,” and then reporters might have to talk about boring things like the economy once in a while.

And we wouldn’t want that.

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