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Posts Tagged ‘Eliot Spitzer’



Press Clips: Hardnose vs Brown Nose Reporting

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

If the emperor has no clothes – simply avert your eyes: In a week when Michael Hastings reminded everyone what tough, hard nose reporting looks like, here comes David Brooks to offer a perfect glimpse of its polar opposite: brown-nose reporting.

As the world now knows, Hastings’ long-form piece in Rolling Stone not only uncovered a culture of arrogance, disrespect, and trash-talking of civilian leadership in the inner circle of General Stanley McChrystal, but also disclosed a festering conflict at the highest levels over U.S. policy in Afghanistan between and among senior military and government leaders.

But to Brooks, the mealy-mouthed moderate conservative columnist for the NYT, Hastings is simply a gossip-mongering ruffian without the refined sensibilities and fine feelings needed to appreciate and understand that matters such as a general’s actual candid words are never to be reported.

“The most interesting part of my job is that I get to observe powerful people at close quarters,” Brooks began (gag).

General McChrystal was excellent at his job. He had outstanding relations with the White House and entirely proper relationships with his various civilian partners in the State Department and beyond. He set up a superb decision-making apparatus that deftly used military and civilian expertise.

But McChrystal, like everyone else, kvetched. And having apparently missed the last 50 years of cultural history, he did so on the record, in front of a reporter. And this reporter, being a product of the culture of exposure, made the kvetching the center of his magazine profile.

By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.

Imagine – Hastings put it in the magazine. We can only imagine how much inside stuff Brooks gets to see and hear in the course of his days, but never bothers to share with his readers because then…he wouldn’t get to “observe powerful people at close quarters.”

This just in: Hastings fires back at Brooks:

More on McChrystal media: The pink-shirted, purple-tied Brooks wasn’t the only journo whose nose was put out of joint by the Hastings report. Jon Stewart’s crew put together a nice mash-up of Beltway MSM types tut-tutting about the bombshell piece.

When the camera cut back to him after the video clips, Stewart had donned a pair of black horn rims which he removed to solemnly announce, in best Cronkite-doing-JFK-assassination style: “At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked.”

Politico also enmeshed itself in the thorny issue of journalistic ethical relativism, with a long report on the Rolling Stone piece that included this intriguing paragraph:

McChrystal, an expert on counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency, has long been thought to be uniquely qualified to lead in Afghanistan. But he is not known for being media savvy. Hastings, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years, according to the magazine, is not well-known within the Defense Department. And as a freelance reporter, Hastings would be considered a bigger risk to be given unfettered access, compared with a beat reporter, who would not risk burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks. (emph. ours)

In other words, a beat reporter would never be so craven as Hastings and actually report the truth – it might affect his access!

It’s instructive that a few hours after the piece was posted, Politico substituted a new version, with that very telling paragraph excised.  Jay Rosen had a swell time dissecting that move over at Press Think.

The Brooks/Politico journalism thought police were joined in their pecksniffian pronouncements by the Washington Post, which weighed in with a yarn quoting anonymous military sources accusing Rolling Stone of having violated rules of attribution in getting their scoop.

McChrystal was betrayed when the journalist quoted banter among the general and his staff, much of which they thought was off the record.

Hastings and his editor both vehemently deny this, but you can be sure that it’s only a matter of time before that view becomes received Beltway wisdom about the Rolling Stone piece. After all, if the story was worth reporting, surely someone worth knowing would have reported it.

Huh? Wuddhe say? Kudos to California Watch for their terrific new feature “Politics Verbatim” which provides horse’s mouth statements and speech excerpts from candidates in the 2010 campaigns. It’s a great resource because, with apologies to Joe Mathews, it really does matter what politicians say.

Because Calwatch is focused on the importance of language in politics, however, we were surprised to find this construction in their recent piece on Meg’s hypocritical new ad on immigration:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman set to work courting support among Latinos last week after a brutal GOP primary battle that forced her to take a loud and hard stance against immigration issues.

Forced her? Really?

Actually eMeg chose to follow Steve Poizner down the shameful road of immigrant bashing in the primary because she was far more worried about her own skin than in standing up and taking a principled position on the issue. And why not – she knew she could then just turn around and spend a couple million more trying to fool people into thinking that’s what she’d done all along. Forced? C’mon.

On the other hand, Joe: Hat tip to Joe Matthews for exposing some of the falsehoods in eMeg’s snappy 60-second, golden-oldies hit on Krusty the General. Under the Calbuzzworthy headline “Shocker! In New Ad Meg Whitman comes Out Against Prop 13″ Joe writes:

Should we feel sorry for Brown? Not in the least. By failing to level with voters about Prop 13 and the need to change the budget system it helped launch, Brown created this opening for Meg’s mischief. But Whitman is doing a disservice to the state and its voters (particularly those who don’t know or don’t remember the history) by misrepresenting a very important and relevant part of our state’s.

She should pull the ad. In the meantime, California TV stations, which have an obligation to serve the public, could honor that obligation by refusing to run it.

Say Cheez: The truth isn’t the only thing eMeg is doing violence to with her new ad:  Cheezburger Network, host of a batch of popular sites including FAIL blog, is crying rip-off. Cheezburger founder Ben Huh has issued an angry statement assailing the Whitman campaign for appropriating the look and feel of their “fail” schtick for the anti-Brown ad:

We want to make it VERY clear that FAIL Blog nor the Cheezburger Network had any involvement or knowledge of the Whitman campaign use of a screenshot of FAIL Blog. In fact, the screenshot portrayed in the video never existed because the Whitman campaign faked the content within the screenshot. FAIL Blog or the Cheezburger Network has never been involved in any endorsement of any candidate or political party and do not plan to do so….

We demand a written apology from the Whitman campaign and the removal of the video.

No response from Team eMeg on the demand.

No news is, eh, no news: Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics have received no word from Jerry Brown or Meg Whitman in response to our invitation for a Sept. 13 debate between them — with us as questioners.

The hall is booked at San Jose State; the university, the college of Social Sciences and Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley all have agreed to sponsor. But the candidates seem: 1) too scared of this group of questioners to step up; 2) sure it’s a bad idea to respond before knowing if the other camp is too chicken to respond; 3) not entirely happy with Calbuzz for all our, um, irreverence about them; 4) all of the above. No worries, we have Plan B up our sleeves. Stay tuned.

Redeem this, buster: Just what do you have to do to disqualify yourself for a job in the fancy-pants world of network and big-time cable news? Judging from CNN’s embrace of disgraced NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer, it seems like the Road to Redemption is getting shorter by the minute. It took Marv Albert two full years! (as if that was enough) before NBC put him back on the air calling NBA games after he plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery when, during his felony trial for forcible sodomy, DNA tests proved that bite marks on the victim’s back were his. Now CNN will give Spitzer a show with convenient conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (formerly of the San Jose Mercury News, btw) after the whoring former gov blogged for Slate and analyzed for MSNBC. Sheesh.

Gov Race to Bottom, Scotus Gay Watch, Press Clips

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Steve Poizner, pouring another $2.5 million into his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, unloads another new ad on eMeg Whitman today, this one attacking her for failing to vote for nearly three decades.

“For 28 years, Meg Whitman didn’t vote. Not once,” the ad says. “She didn’t vote for Ronald Reagan, George Bush, or Pete Wilson, for 28 years. Meg Whitman says she’s for Prop. 13, but over 100 times she could have voted against higher taxes and more spending, and she didn’t vote.”

Here’s what The Commish is up to (after spending about $22 million of his own money): a two-track negative campaign against Whitman.

Track One is ideological – the Tom McClintock and immigration ads, hammering Whitman for being too “liberal.”

Track Two is a character attack – the “Vulture” ad on Goldman Sachs and now an ad about how she wasn’t even a voter for most of her adult life.

Poizner’s message: Not only is Whitman bad on the issues but she’s a bad person.

None of which tells voters why they should vote for Poizner. And, of course, Whitman’s got plenty of hits on him on the air (especially after sticking another $5 million into the race, bringing her total to a staggering $64 million).

In fact, her latest, charging that he “supported partial birth abortion” manages to hammer Poizner on two tracks at once: not only is he too liberal, but he’s wicked to boot.

It’s a race to the bottom, sports fans.

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay: This whole Elena Kagan is-she-or-isn’t-she thing was giving us a big headache –  even before the Wall Street Journal suggested on the front page Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee  might be a switch hitter.

To recap: CBS News embarrassed itself big time last month, when its web site blithely ran a piece from Ben Domenech, a discredited, third-rate conservative blogger, declaring that Solicitor General Kagan would be the first gay justice were she appointed and confirmed. CBS pulled the post down, after the White House objected that the claim was a lie and Giant of Journalism Domenech acknowledged that he was only, you know, speculating about whether she was gay.

The issue disappeared briefly, then resurfaced when the president actually nominated Kagan this week. Ever since, there has been a rash of stories on the subject.

One of the stranger is Politico’s round-up of Friends of Elena to swear that she’s not gay; that one of these FOEs is Eliot Spitzer, the sex-crazed former New York governor, who rather mysteriously testified that “I did not go out with her, but other guys did…I don’t think it is my place to say more,” only added to our head scratching over the piece.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal, channeling the New York Post, its sister Murdoch paper, to run a big ole two column, page one photo of Kagan playing softball back in the day, which  photo promptly led some gay rights leaders to complain that the Journal’s Innuendo Editor was trying to signal, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, that Kagan is a lesbian because, after all, what other kind of woman would play softball, all of which led to much  brow furrowing and wool gathering from the big brains over at the Columbia Journalism Review.

Hence our aforementioned headache, arising from the fact that not a single one of these yarns raises the key questions: 1) Why is everyone from Obama to Happy Hooker Friend Spitzer acting like it would be some terrible scandal if Kagan were gay and 2) who the hell cares anyway?

The narrative line hasn’t been a total loss for us though: MLB.com’s Mark Newman did a terrific piece in which he asked a bunch of Mets and Nats players to analyze Kagan’s batting stance. Lots of thoughtful clubhouse debate about whether the bat’s too far from the hitting zone, but for our money Nationals closer Matt Capps offered the most trenchant comment:

It looks like she’s choking up there and she’s locked down, so it looks like she’s going to give you an aggressive fight — which is probably a good thing in the position she’s going to be in.

Press Clips: Must read of the week is LA Timesmen Evan Halper and Jack Dolan’s defining piece on eMeg’s business and financial dealings…We  don’t always agree with Robert Cruickshank’s political analysis, but it’s for sure the Oracle is a very smart fella and serious guy who works hard at making sense of where California is and where it’s going…After reading Connie Brucker’s New Yorker profile of Haim Saban, we finally understood why  the   L.A. Media tycoon is throwing millions at the effort to roll back reapportionment reform in California, the better to protect West Side reps Henry Waxman and Howard Berman…The Zev Chafets takeout on San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is a wonderfully told tale of the most important Latino pol we’d never heard of.

I’m sorry sir, but your AK-47 has to go in the overhead: The silliest issue of the entire campaign season is the loud objection of GOP wannabe Senator Carly Fiorina to restricting gun sales to people on the anti-terror fly list because it would infringe on their Second Amendment rights, as Joe Mathews makes perfectly clear here.

AB32 Fight: Smokestack Steve vs. Monoxide Meg

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

smokestacksteve2Throughout our so-called careers, Calbuzz has been consistently entertained by our friend Richie Ross’s talent for concocting cut-to-the-bone epigrams about political campaigning.

“When you’re behind,” Richie once told us, amidst a race where he was running some now-forgotten dog, “always pick a fight.”

The formulation came to mind this week, as Smokestack Steve Poizner took out after Monoxide Meg Whitman, insisting to all who would listen that his position on the environment was waayyy worse than hers.

One day after our piece examining eMeg’s fierce opposition to California’s landmark AB32 climate change legislation (Coincidence? You be the judge) The Commish whacked her as an opportunistic, closet tree-hugger.

megkissingsarah

“Meg’s rhetoric on AB32 is again a sign of the two Meg Whitmans,” said Jarrod Agen, Poizner’s slasher-in-chief. “Campaign trail Meg is making claims that directly contradict her actions and Republican voters will not trust her.”

The me-too attack came as Poizner endorsed the so-called “California Jobs Initiative” being co-sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Paleolithic, and Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Sirloin. The measure, now being signature circulated, calls for suspension of AB32, until employment levels get back to where they were before it passed in 2006.

056-597But the endorsement was really just an excuse to remind GOP primary voters of eMeg’s eleemosynary contribution of $300K to the Environmental Defense Fund, a strong supporter of AB32, not long after the measure passed, as well as her gushy past praise for ex-Obama Green Czar Van Jones – “I’m a huge fan!” – whom she met on a save-the-earth cruise that also included Jimmy Carter, fercrineoutloud.

Pshaw, dismissively responded the volcanic Sarah Pompei, eMeg’s well-paid responder. Whitman, she said, don’t need no stinkin’ initiatives to crank up the thermostat on the world all by herself.

“The authority to suspend AB32 already exists and Meg is committed to using it on her first day as Governor,” Pompei said, adding that, “as a result of the struggling economy, Meg was the first candidate to call for a suspension of AB32 . . . If there was any possibility that Steve Poizner could be touting those same credentials, well then, he probably would be.”

And thank you for that.

On Monday we presented the case, and the polling to back it up, that a majority of Californians don’t see a huge conflict between environmental protection and economic growth. While Calbuzz is open to being proven wrong (in fact, we’ve made a pretty good living at it), we think racing to the bottom on pollution is strictly a GOP primary strategy that won’t sell in a general election.

angelides

Milk Carton Report: Phil Angelides, who had a charisma bypass before such surgery was fashionable, strode his way into the national spotlight Wednesday, as he opened as chairman the much-anticipated hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

“People are angry,” Angelides said, with the heads of the nation’s two largest banks and two biggest Wall Street firms sitting, under oath, before him.

They have a right to be. The fact that Wall Street is enjoying record profits and bonuses in the wake of receiving trillions of dollars in government assistance — while so many families are struggling to stay afloat — has only heightened the sense of confusion.

Not bad stuff for a guy who ran the worst campaign for the top spot since John D. Sloat didn’t cop a single vote. Given his financial bona fides as a former state Treasurer, not to mention his classic training at the hand of Angelo Tsakopoulos, Angelides ain’t a bad pick for the gig, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped him land.

It’s hard to imagine the commission coming up with much in the way of true reform, however, although the hearings do have some entertainment value. Best coverage we’ve seen is the live blog over at Huffpost  which also has a dandy piece co-authored by former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who managed to keep his pants on for the occasion.

halperinBeltway wisdom gone awry: There are few people in the political news business more obnoxious, self-referential and self-absorbed than ABC’s Mark Halperin, so we were delighted at Jason Linkins’ superb takedown of “Game Change,” the ’08 campaign account Halperin co-authored with John Heilemann, and which their fellow Beltway snobs are lapping up like melted Ben & Jerry’s.

Under the terrific hed “The Blackhearted Ethos of Game Change,” Linkins writes:

What you will get from this tome is the experience of being dragged through a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund-sized pile of shit, lovingly accumulated by two authors who have basically allowed anyone willing to offer nasty hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to dump away.

Calbuzz sez check it out

We’re from the press, we’re here to help: Kudos to Calitics for being first on the scene early Wednesday with a list of how-to-help contact info for the victims of the horrible earthquake in Haiti. Best bitchslap of the insufferable Pat Robertson: thank you Andy Borowitz for “Haiti? I Thought They Said ‘Hades’”