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Posts Tagged ‘MSM media’



Conservative Yakkers: eMeg “Lying” on Immigration

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

The ferocious pounding that high-profile conservative talk show hosts John and Ken delivered to Meg Whitman over the L.A. airwaves this week clearly shows that her blatant untruthiness isn’t playing any better on the right than it is on the left.

“If she’s going to lie to us during the engagement process then the hell with her,” said John Kobylt, one half of the dynamic duo featured on the “John and Ken Show.”

“Schwarzenegger did it after he was elected twice and then he screwed us over on taxes… She’s lying about immigration already.”

Broadcast with partner Ken Chiampou, the popular 2-7 p.m. weekday show on KFI-AM 640 is a loud megaphone for hardcore conservative views, and a Southern California touchstone for right-wing true believers. Mindful of offending the base of the party, Republican candidates of all stripes, including eMeg, covet the political blessing of the frequently entertaining, if ideologically reflexive, pair, who routinely savage GOP apostates by calling for their “heads on a pike.”

This week, their own heads exploded over the recent spectacle of Her Megness gussying herself up as some kind of moderate on immigration issues, mounting a lavish, Spanish language multi-media campaign to woo Latino voters with kissy poo noises after portraying herself in the GOP primary as the fiercest scourge of illegals since Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

John and Ken’s outrage over Whitman’s transparent, 180-degree pandering was the focus of verbal assaults from them and their radio callers this week, as they also festooned their home page with a huge “Stop the Pandering” headline above a call to action for listeners to contact the Whitman campaign and “tell her not to take your vote for granted and to stop pandering to the open borders crowd!”

Worse for Whitman, the pair sputtered their splenetic outrage on the evening newscast of mainstream KTLA-TV, where they also have a regular gig. In the episode, which the Brown campaign posted on its You Tube page the yakkers railed at eMeg for trumpeting her opposition to Prop. 187, for claiming in a Spanish language op-ed that she and Krusty are virtually identical on immigration – “Jerry Brown is for amnesty!” – and for running away from the tough stances she struck in competing for right-wing support against the vanquished Steve Poizner in the GOP primary. Said John:

She’s saying one thing in Spanish and the exact opposite in English…She is going to lose white, black and Asian votes and she’s going to lose a lot of conservative and independent votes, if she’s acting as if she’s two-faced, and she’s acting like she’s two-faced…You can’t believe the anger coming out of the phone lines.

Said Whitman spokeshuman Sarah Pompei:  “Meg is the best candidate for Californians who want to see the laws enforced and our borders secure.”

Up next: eMeg unveils new $2 million ad buy charging John and Ken, Calitics and the CNA are conspiring to stop her – She refuses to be stopped! – from letting California fail.

Three dot lounge: Interesting to note that Carly Fiorina’s sudden flip flop on unemployment insurance legislation in the Senate comes the same day a new Field Poll shows that 53 percent of her supporters – not to mention 71 percent of independents – agree with Roe v. Wade, which the Hurricane has promised to undo. Must be getting kinda’ lonely out there on the far right, despite what horse’s ass George Will sez about how mainstream she is…

You know you’re in trouble when the New York Times enlists recalled governor Gray Davis to give you advice on how to save your sinking presidency…News to us that you can still watch the great Watergate-era newspaper show “Lou Grant” in reruns. Where the hell are Rossi and Billy when you need ‘em?…Kudos to Coco Timesman Steve Harmon for flying the MSM flag  on calling eMeg to account for her Pinocchio prevarications.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Major bust for minor blockbuster.

The Death of Truth: eMeg and the Politics of Lying

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Perhaps it’s just a case of wishful nostalgia, but it seems to us that before the rise of Fox News, Rovian manipulation and the abnegation by certain people of fact-based reality, there was some sort of agreed-upon truth that was adjudicated daily by the mainstream media.

A candidate couldn’t say one thing one day – like, for example, that they were opposed to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — and another thing another day – like they basically agree with an opponent who favors a path to citizenship. They’d be afraid of being called a liar in the papers, and that would actually matter.

But in the California governor’s race it now appears that we are witnessing the Death of Truth. From a cosmic perspective, this has come about because:

– The attention span of the average citizen, never very long, has been hyper-accelerated by the rise of new media, including the Internets, where something is old before it is barely new — and certainly not fully digested — and everyone is off on the next new thing. Beyond that, the rise of ideologically-sated outlets like FOX and MSNBC ensures that partisans will never again have to watch something with which they disagree.

– The lugubrious mainstream media is often strangled by self-imposed, on-the-one-hand-on-the-the-hand, false-equivalency “balance,” in part intimidated by loud, if unfounded accusations of “bias” most frequently lobbed  by the right-wing. Thus the MSM at times seems unable and/or unwilling to cut through the miasma and call a lie a lie or a liar a liar. (Even Jerry Brown won’t call a spade a spade, referring instead to Meg Whitman’s “intentional, terminological inexactitude.”)

– It’s now clear that a candidate with unlimited resources can and will blow off complaints, critiques and factual analyses of those who dare to speak up and will instead declare that the truth is whatever he or she says it is — in their paid advertising and the assertions of their mercenary prevaricators.

All of this feeds the corrosive cynicism that infects our politics, demonstrated most visibly in low voter turnout. Even among those who vote, healthy skepticism is often supplanted with a smart-ass, know-it-all facile sophistication that assumes all politicians are liars (they’re not) and that everyone in public life only wants to do well (we still believe there are some who want to do good).

Cynicism, of course, breeds further alienation and disgust, causing a downward spiral of disengagement from the process, leaving voting (and caring) to the true-believing wing-nuts who are certain they know the truth because they read or watch it at one of the ideologically-determined web sites or stations that conclusively confirms their prior held beliefs.

Exhibit A for the Death of Truth is Her Megness, eMeg Whitman herself.

Let’s be clear: Krusty the General (Gandalf) Brown and his Merry Pranksters in Oakland are guilty of their own special brand of spin. But it’s pretty much your normal, basic campaign (wink-wink) re-framing like you’d get from Gov. Schwarzmuscle, President Oybama or Golden Gate Feinstein.

Brown has failed to level with voters about how he’d deal with the state budget (we think he’d shift all the responsibility for services back to cities, counties school districts, with a local option to raise taxes, and get the locals off the state’s books), among most other issues. But his guy Sterling Clifford has a point when he argues that “Meg Whitman is trying to paper over her lies and deceptions with dollar bills.”

Indeed, when it comes to killing truth, eMeg is miles ahead in felony flip-floppery. The pro-Brown California Working Families tried to drive that point home last week with the release of an online ad titled “Lies.” detailing just a few recent examples of Megspeak:

– She was for double furloughs for state employees before she was against furloughs altogether.

– She was for a path to citizenship before she knew what it meant, and then she was vehemently against it, before she declared herself aligned with Brown, who’s for it.

– She was for sending state agents into work places to hunt down and arrest illegal immigrant workers until she decided she was against that (probably illegal) idea.

– She was against extending benefits to children of illegal immigrants (like admission to state universities and colleges) before she was . . . wait, maybe she’s still against that, but OK with letting illegal immigrant offspring get treated at a hospital.

– In the primary she said, “We have to prosecute illegal aliens and criminal illegal aliens in all of our cities in every part of California.” Now she says, “What has bothered Latinos for too long is the harsh rhetoric around the immigration debate. Too often, the debate has been tinged with hurtful words signaling intolerance or worse to many Latinos.”

If a candidate changes his or her position from A to B, he or she can be accused of flip-flopping (or changing his or her mind). What makes the Whitman campaign’s changes so special is that her paid mouthpieces are out there insisting that eMeg has NOT changed her position one iota. She’s entirely consistent and not a rank opportunist, they argue.

Calbuzz has been harping on this lack of truthiness by the Whitman camp for some time, and we’ve catalogued a partial list of prevarications. But where are the other non-partisan voices willing to hold Meg’s feet to the fire? Why isn’t every editorial page and columnist in the state thundering with indignation, instead of equating Brown’s admittedly infuriating avoidance of staking clear positions on policy with Whitman’s corporate style, black-is-white daily deceits and deceptions?

The beyond standard quantum limit nature of Whitman’s spending so far has enabled her, like no California candidate in history, to take advantage of Calbuzzer Mark Twain’s timeless dictum: “A lie can run around the world six times while the truth is still trying to put on its pants.”

So far, eMeg has circled the globe several times, while the too-often-timid California media are still struggling in the dark to find their trousers.

3-Dot Cheap Shots: DiFi, eMeg, iCarly and Krusty

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Buzz kill: Calbuzz is scratching our collective head at the sight of the MSM prominently displaying stories about Senator Dianne Feinstein’s declaration of opposition to Proposition 19, the November ballot measure to legalize pot: Why exactly is this news?

From her earliest days in politics, DiFi’s political antennae have always been hyper-attuned to the slightest possibility that somewhere, someone might be having fun.

Her nickname around City Hall was “Goody Two Shoes,” and one citizen of San Francisco’s gay community famously summed up her well-earned school marm reputation:  “Dianne Feinstein doesn’t care who you sleep with, as long as you’re in bed by eleven o’clock.”

The Senior Senator from California, in fact, first made a name for herself in the ‘60s by carrying on a one-woman crusade against the production and presentation of X-rated movies in S.F., where entrepreneurs such as the infamous Mitchell Brothers were then pioneering the genre with aesthetic and commercial successes like “Behind the Green Door.”

The controversy Feinstein generated greatly raised her profile, at a time she was preparing to launch her first bid for office, a fabulously successful effort that made her the first woman elected president of the Board of Supervisors.

But her anti-smut campaign did not earn unanimous acclaim in Baghdad by the Bay: the late Charles de Young Thieriot, then publisher of the Chronicle, threw her out of his office when she came in to demand he stop running ads for adult theaters in the paper, while Charles McCabe,  a cranky and literate libertarian scribbler for the Chron, bashed her as a prudish busybody in a series of columns headlined, “Dianne Faces Life.”

What really moved Mrs. Feinstein to her little adventure, and her later demand that right-mindedness be enacted on all of us is something you don’t have to be a big brain to figure out. The real reason lies in the hearts and minds of a segment of elderly Irish biddies and Jewish mothers and Italian mama mias and German hausfraus. These ladies, most of whom are mothers, are threatened by porno and take an awfully strong line on the same subject. This they communicate one way or another, and often through priests and rabbis who have a vested interest in sin, to their duly elected representatives of whom Mrs. Feinstein is one. And conscientious.

The way to prevent the men from indulging their brutish natures is to pass laws, and more laws, and still more laws, to keep their pants firmly zipped at all times, except when the population explosion is to be assisted.

Roll ‘em and smoke ‘em Dianne.

eMeg to the ER stat: Here’s another thing we don’t understand: Why Meg Whitman keeps picking fights with the California Nurses’ Association.

Having already erected a new web site exclusively dedicated to brawling with the nurses’ union, and sent a personal letter to every member of the CNA, Her Megness announced yesterday that she is “forming an advisory board of nurses to advise her on issues during the campaign.”

The “Meg Whitman Nurses’ Advisory Board.” Got a real ring to it, no?

For their part, the nurses have announced a big demonstration and town meeting in Whitman’s home town of Atherton Thursday night, which is scheduled to include a stop at eMeg’s estate. So it looks like the baffling battle will only escalate.

Yeah, we get that Team eMeg has so much money they can afford a whole separate campaign against the nurses, while simultaneously running against Jerry Brown. But what’s the political play here exactly?

We consulted with Dr. P.J. Hackenflack, our staff psychiatrist and chief of medicine at Calbuzz Memorial Hospital and Outpatient Veterinary Clinic, who offered five possible reasons:

a–She’s still bitter that she didn’t get into medical school because organic chemistry kicked her butt.

b-If you’re going to start busting unions why not begin with one of the most popular in the state?

c-Murphy’s still pissed the nurses rolled him in his failed initiatives campaign for Arnold.

d-eMeg feels a special connection to the helping profession because her husband is a famous neurosurgeon (memo to Meg: don’t count on nurses being overly enamored of a guy named Dr. Harsh).

e- She really doesn’t like that whole “Queen Meg” thing.

Calbuzz sez: b) and e).

Grisly grizzlies: Setting the bar higher than ever for Republican whack job women, Nevada Tea Partier Sharron Angle has announced that God is behind her challenge to Senator Harry Reid,  a development that caused Calbuzz considerable concern that our own Hurricane Carly Fiorina may be falling way behind in the female division of the knuckledragger sweepstakes.

So we were delighted to learn from the Orange County Register that iCarly was recently blessed with a campaign contribution from Sarah Palin,  the Queen High Wingnut of Amazon Republicanism herself, who’s traveling the country on a mission to elect battalions of what she calls “Mama Grizzlies.”

As she trumpets Palin’s personal endorsement, Carly appears to believe that Screwball Sarah’s seal of approval will win hearts and minds throughout the state, which is only one of many big differences she has with her rival, incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, whose campaign is working to drive traffic to a web video examining the Republican sisterhood of the traveling pants suits.

While Whitman has so far cautiously kept her distance from the tenets of Palinism, Neanderthal Carly has bought the whole package, eagerly embracing the right-wing’s positions  on abortion rights, climate change, gun control, immigration and offshore oil drilling, among others.

So completely has Fiorina festooned herself as a “pro-life feminist,” that one prominent anti-choice leader recently told our pal Carla Marinucci, that Carly “now stands tall alongside Palin and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, in a pantheon of new female political leaders.”

Michele Bachmann. Wow. Makes you proud to be a Californian, doesn’t it?

Historical Footfault: “If there is another $100 million spent on the Republican side, we will have our message,” Jerry Brown told KGO the other day. “Everyone in this state who votes will have more information than they want.”

So when will Krusty and His Band of Merry Guerillas unload their muskets? 

“So we’re holding our fire,” Brown said, although not apparently remembering first-hand. ” If you remember the Battle of Lexington, the American revolutionaries said wait until you see the whites of their eyes before you start firing.”

Except — as most school children know –  if it was said at all, it was said by one of the colonial commanders — Israel Putnam, John Stark, William Prescott or Richard Gridley — at the Battle of Bunker Hill, not the Battle of Lexington.

Jerry Brown Sex Scandal Meets eMeg’s Pixel Dust

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

This just in – 34 years after the fact.

Former White House Press Secretary and  Calbuzz old friend Mike McCurry on Thursday revealed that his first job in politics was working for Jerry Brown’s 1976 stop-Jimmy Carter campaign for president in New Jersey, where Mike had just graduated from Princeton.

McCurry shared some juicy dish from those long-ago days, as he held forth at Brews & Views, the micro-public affairs forum that Lenny Mendoca of McKinsey and Co. organizes at his Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.

It was kind of a homecoming for McCurry, who used to fish off the Pillar Point Pier in nearby Princeton-by-the Sea when he was a San Carlos teenager at the late Ravenswood High School. Sipping a  Mavericks and answering questions, he noted that his first political gig included picking up Brown one morning at his hotel, where there was a bit of a stir because the bachelor California governor had had a sleep-over visitor in his room: Linda Ronstadt.

How synchronous that Jerry’s young driver would one day go on to serve as press secretary for Bill Clinton, against whom Brown would also run in 1992, and with whom Krusty famously nearly came to blows during a presidential debate.

My page views are bigger than your page views: Must read of the week is Ken McLaughlin’s take out on Meg Whitman’s extensive use of new technology tools, the best piece we’ve read detailing the scope and specifics of how Team eMeg is adapting them for campaign purposes.

Most intriguing to us is their practice of live streaming video from Brown’s campaign events back to their headquarters, which enables them to respond in real time to his every flip, flop and foible; coincidentally, Ken’s piece ran the same day we reported on Krusty’s caterwauling about being constantly recorded by the Empire of Meg, a wheeze that underscores the considerable distance between the communications capabilities of the Democrat and Republican candidates.

The former eBay CEO’s carpet-bombing of the airwaves generated the most political buzz during her $80 million march to victory over Steve Poizner in the GOP primary. But behind the scenes, her campaign served as a laboratory for new technology that will be unleashed against her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, in the months leading up to the Nov. 2 election.

A glimpse into Whitman’s tech spending is startling: The latest campaign expenditure reports show she had spent $2.7 million through May 22 on website development and information technology alone — seven times more than Brown spent on his entire campaign.

“The incredible amount of money Whitman is spending allows her to buy every bell and whistle ever invented,” said Larry Gerston, a San Jose State political science professor. “And it fosters the perception that Jerry Brown is late to the party.”

Gee, we must have missed his arrival.

Jack Chang’s good yarn comparing and contrasting the two campaign’s ops  touched some of the same ground, but was most notable for the extraordinary exertions of Tucker Bounds, who actually portrayed Her Megness – presumably with a straight face – as the leader of “a movement.”

We’ve been innovative in the way we communicate, and that’s a product of the campaign trying to be as effective as possible in building support for what we see as a movement type of candidate,” said campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds.

He’s right, of course: listening to Meg, we can almost the strains of Dr. King: “Rich at last, rich at last, thank God Almighty, I’m obscenely rich at last.”

There he goes being thoughtful again: NYU’s Jay Rosen is one of the most imaginative, original and articulate thinkers about the future of the news industry, and the intersection of new media, old media and politics, and his recent essay, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right: On the actual ideology of the American press,” despite its windy title, is worth a read for newsroom rats and political hacks alike.

Rosen rejects the clashing conventional wisdoms of the political right and left, that hold that political reporters are either a) liberal ideologues or b) corporate handmaidens, in favor of a perspective and vocabulary that examines the press as tribal creatures far more interested in the values and good opinions of peer members of what he calls “the church of the savvy” than any  belief system based on mere politics.

The Church of the Savvy…is my name for the actual belief system that prevails in political journalism….

Prohibited from joining in political struggles, dedicated to observing what is, regardless of whether it ought to be, the savvy believe that these disciplines afford them a special view of the arena, cured of excess sentiment, useless passon, ideological certitude and other defects of vision that players in the system routinely exhibit. As I wrote on Twitter the other day, “the savvy don’t say: I have a better argument than you… They say: I am closer to reality than you. And more mature.”

Now in order for this belief system to operate effectively, it has to continually position the journalist and his or her observations not as right where others are wrong, or virtuous where others are corrupt, or visionary where others are short-sighted, but as practical, hardheaded, unsentimental, and shrewd where others are didactic, ideological, and dreamy. This is part of what’s so insidious about press savviness: it tries to hog realism to itself.

Calbuzz sez check it out.

Seema seems everywhere: The ubiquitous Seema Mehta penned the best analysis of the whys and wherefores of Whitman picking a fight with the California Nurses Association as the forward shot of a broader attack to scapegoat unions as the source of most of California’s problems.

Laden with foreshadowing is the kicker of the piece, a strong quote from SacDem consultant Gale Kaufman, who led labor’s successful beat back of  Governor Schwarzmuscle’s attempt to make the same play back in 2005:

“She’s very used to getting her own way, and she’s used to buying things. Those two parts of her personality have become pretty clear during this campaign,” Kaufman said. “She just assumes that somehow if she bullies the unions, the unions are going to back off. Well, she doesn’t know the nurses, because they never back off.”

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: White House press corps goes completely native.

Daily Kos Pollster Busted; The Shame of Lara Logan

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

We’re sorry to say Calbuzz was not all that surprised to hear that Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas on Tuesday announced he plans to sue Maryland based pollster Research 2000 for fraud, charging, in essence, that surveys the firm did for the liberal blog were cooked.

Loyal readers will recall that last summer, in a post jointly published in the Los Angeles Times, Calbuzz threw gallons of cold water on a Survey 2000 poll for Daily Kos that said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had pulled within nine points of Attorney General Jerry Brown in what was then a primary campaign for governor.

We noted then, among other problems, that the Survey 2000 poll had a screwy method of deciding who was a registered voter – including some voodoo statistical dancing and prancing to supplement their list of voters with “self-identified” Dems and Reeps.

So Markos is surely on solid ground when he says: “We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it.”

That’s how we felt about the Daily Kos results back in May, which had Jerry Brown’s favorable/unfavorable at 48-43% and Meg Whitman’s at 47-38%. It just made no sense.

We have, in the Calbuzz library, a copy of Michael Wheeler’s important 1976 book titled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics,” which owes its title to a saying attributed to both Benjamin Disraeli and Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics.”

But since at least half of us has worked in the polling business, we know it’s possible to field public opinion surveys that actually measure public opinion. On the other hand, we also know there are some people who claim to be pollsters who really are hucksters. Looks like Daily Kos bought into one of them.

Toldja II: We’re also sorry that it didn’t take long for our prophecy to be fulfilled  about the journalism geniuses in Washington pulling a Lord of the Flies number on Michael Hastings, whose superb Rolling Stone report about Afghanistan instantly rebooted the national debate over the longest war in U.S. history.

Because Hastings, a mere freelancer, managed in the process to skunk and show up all the sycophantic, self-important establishment reporters on the beat, they naturally had to try and make him look bad, with Howard Kurtz,  high priest of the temple of MSM Beltway journalism, leading the charge.

Kurtz is a walking conflict of interest who gets paid by the Washpost to cover media affairs, including those involving CNN, his other employer.   Conveniently for CNN, they also pay the oleaginous Kurtz for hosting “Reliable Sources,” a Sunday morning gab fest about the media, and a powerful pulpit that he used this week to undercut the legitimacy of Hastings’ reporting.

The show began with a long distance interview with Hastings, who was then still in Afghanistan, in which Kurtz tried to channel Mike Wallace, asking the writer a series of confrontational questions, and consistently interrupting when Hastings tried to answer.

He followed with a segment featuring Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, whom he noticeably did not interrupt, instead letting her spout off freely and proceed to basically call Hastings a two-faced liar and challenge his otherwise undisputed reporting.

Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there no ground rules laid out.* And, I mean, that just doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me….I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that. To me, something doesn’t add up here. I just – I just don’t believe it.

Well, all righty then. If Lara Logan doesn’t believe it, notwithstanding that she has no, you know, facts to sustain her very strong feelings, hell that’s good enough for us.

Not content to hurl mere fusillades of innuendo at Hastings, the dynamic duo followed with this colloquy:

KURTZ: When you are out with the troops and you’re living together and sleeping together, is there an unspoken agreement –
LOGAN: Absolutely.
K: – that you’re not going to embarrass them by reporting insults and banter?
L: Yes.
K: Tell me about that.
L: Yes, absolutely. There is an element of trust. And what I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion and, you know, he’s laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don’t – I don’t go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life.

Where, oh where do we start?

First, here and throughout the interview (the transcript is here) Logan absolutely makes the case, argued by Hastings among others,  that MSM types like her owe their first loyalty to their sources, and see their role as being part of the team – rather than being, first and foremost, the eyes and ears of their readers and viewers.

Second, listening to Lara Logan hold forth about “trust” is kind of like hearing Meg Whitman lecture on the virtues of poverty, given that LL is a notorious home wrecker who was square in the middle of the infamous  “Steamy Baghdad love triangle” a few years back.

That sordid little bit of business ended with her married to a guy who happens to be a top-drawer State Department military contractor, which makes her objectivity on this whole war effort thing more than a little suspect.

“Living together and sleeping together,” indeed.

*(Hastings never said there were no ground rules. He said that everything he reported was on the record, and that if someone asked him to keep something off the record, he did).

Must reading: Matt Taibbi’s head absolutely exploded over Logan’s shameless performance, and he responded by dealing her one of the best body slam take downs (delicately titled “Lara Logan Sucks”) in memory, while Geoffrey Dunn’s skewering of her is somewhat more surgical but no less effective and Charles Calderon at Yahoo News has the best links and overall takeout on the continuing controversy.

Today’s sign that civilization is getting better all the time: I’ll have the meat lovers combo!