the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 5, 2006

Are Primary Challenges “Purges” — or Is It Only When They’re From the Left?


Chris Bowers at MyDD wrote yesterday about how the media portray Ned Lamont’s primary challenge against Joe Lieberman as an attempt by extremists to purge the party of anyone deviating from their liberal beliefs, but never have similar stories about primary challenges from the right. This morning NPR’s Morning Edition had a story headlined “Democratic Hawk Faces Antiwar Primary Challenger” about Marcy Winograd’s primary challenge to Rep. Jane Harman in California. It followed the script described by Bowers, so I decided to use the contact form to send a letter to NPR:

The story by Rachael Myrow highlighted the primary challenge to Jane Harman, as well as mentioning the challenge to Lieberman, and portrayed this exercise of democracy within the system as an attempt to purge the party of anyone disagreeing with the liberals.

If such a purge is going on, it’s certainly not getting very far. Liberals are not at all in control of the Democratic Party.

Will you have a similar story about the primary challenge to Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island? It’s much more likely to succeed than the one against Harman, and it’s much easier to make a case that Republican conservatives are purging moderates from their party. It seems that you’re depicting liberals as unreasonable extremists tearing their party apart, while finding the same behavior by conservatives perfectly acceptable.

May 30, 2006

The Quest for Corruption “Balance” Continues


We’ve written before about the media’s desperate attempts to portray congressional corruption as being a problem affecting Republicans and Democrats equally. Nowadays you’d expect those seeking bipartisan scandals to be rejoicing over the recent troubles of Democrat William Jefferson. But focusing on Jefferson is just too obvious for some people, and it can be hard to pretend that one isolated corrupt Democratic congressman can balance a network of corruption at the center of the Republican Party.

John Solomon of the Associated Press continues to go the extra mile in smearing Senate minority leader Harry Reid, by suggesting yet again that he must be guilty of something, even though he didn’t break any laws or even vote the way his supposed bribers wanted. Paul Kiel of TPMmuckraker has the details.

May 24, 2006

The “Angry Left” and Commencement Speeches


Alt Hippo and I have talked frequently about the asymmetry in treatment and perception of the “angry right” and the “angry left”. In yet another example, Glenn Greenwald explains the lessons the right (and much of the media) want us to learn from the recent experiences of John McCain and other graduation speakers:

So, to re-cap the rules: (1) When a pro-war politician gives a pro-war speech as part of a graduation ceremony, and students in the audience heckle and boo him, that shows how Deranged the Angry Left is — because they heckled a pro-war speech. (2) When an anti-war politician gives an anti-war speech as part of a graduation ceremony, and students in the audience heckle, walk out and even riot, that also shows how Angry the Left is — because they “provoked a near riot” by pro-war students.

May 9, 2006

Book Events: Corruption, Prisons, Media


Three interesting book events this week, and I’m going to try to make it to all of them:

February 6, 2006

New Post Blog Brings False Balance to Ward 3


The Washington Post launched a new blog today, DC Wire, which will focus on DC politics and this year’s city elections. I wish it luck, and so far it already has posts about the stadium deal and the school modernization bill, but I’m a little worried by the first post by Eric Weiss, which happens to be about the council race in my ward. It starts off like this:

Ward 3 council candidate Sam Brooks, who’s been involved in a low-key pie-tossing contest with fellow candidate Jonathan Rees, wants to engage in some multilateral disengagement.

Both have been saying mean things about each other for months. Rees questions when Brooks moved into the ward and Brooks says Rees may be behind negative web postings.

So Rees spreads messages accusing Brooks of fraud because of when he moved into the ward, even though the law doesn’t require candidates to reside in the ward until they are nominated, which would occur in September. And Rees spams Craigslist, DCist, DCpages.com, and loads of other websites and e-mail lists with messages promoting himself and attacking Brooks, often in juvenile ways. This week he apparently forged a message from the list admin to spam the Cleveland Park e-mail list, from which he’d been banned.

On the other side, Brooks complains about some of Rees’s attacks.

Clearly both sides are equally guilty — just as Jack Abramoff gave to both Democrats and Republicans, just as the Kerry and Bush campaigns were equally untruthful, just as experts differ on whether the moon landings were faked.

It’s not a “pie-tossing contest” if only one person is throwing pies, and so far I haven’t seen any pies thrown by Brooks. But maybe Weiss has learned the importance of “balance” from the same editor who slanted the scandal scorecard in Chris Cillizza’s Post blog a few months back.

December 15, 2005

Conservative Paper Disses O’Reilly


At family gatherings at my parents’ house, one of our pastimes is finding the most outrageous right-wing editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and there’s usually a good crop of them. So I was amused to see in Media Matters that the paper had run an editorial denying the existence of the War on Christmas, and even calling out Bill O’Reilly by name:

Yet to hear some voices — Bill O’Reilly’s, for instance — Christmas lies under siege. Unless defended, it even could disappear! What planet do these Scrooges inhabit? The removal of religious symbols from public places probably has gone too far. Officials have grown too skittish, courts too absolute. Christmas, nevertheless, is not endangered. And to refer to Christmas vacation as Winter Break in no way demeans an occasion blest best not by baubles but by souls in quiet communion.

Once upon a time many believers lamented the commercialization of Christmas. A complaint now seems to be that Christmas isn’t commercial enough.

Hmm, maybe O’Reilly’s shtick isn’t playing as well as I feared.

O’Reilly of course responded by attacking the editorial on his show — saying it was lying about him and expressing surprise that he was being criticized in Richmond, of all places:

O’REILLY: Now, this is a conservative city, Richmond. I mean, this is not Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan up there in the Madison, Wisconsin, media.

Will O’Reilly soon be adding the Times-Dispatch to his enemies list?

December 13, 2005

The Matter of WaPo v. Froomkin


Last Sunday, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell attacked (2005 DCDL guest speaker) Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing: (emphasis mine)

Political reporters at The Post don’t like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin’s “White House Briefing,” which is highly opinionated and liberal. They’re afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.

John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, “The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset — our credibility” as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column “that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display.”

Harris is right; some readers do think Froomkin is a White House reporter. But Froomkin works only for the Web site and is very popular — and Brady is not going to fool with that, though he is considering changing the column title and supplementing it with a conservative blogger.

Froomkin responds:

There is undeniably a certain irreverence to the column. But I do not advocate policy, liberal or otherwise. My agenda, such as it is, is accountability and transparency. I believe that the president of the United States, no matter what his party, should be subject to the most intense journalistic scrutiny imaginable. And he should be able to easily withstand that scrutiny. I was prepared to take the same approach with John Kerry, had he become president.


December 8, 2005

Cillizza Update


Last week I wrote about an example of false balance in which Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza added an irrelevant Democrat to a list of scandal-plagued elected officials, apparently to make the corruption look like a more bipartisan problem. Now via Talking Points Memo I see that Cillizza has responded to readers’ questions about the incident:

This was an editorial mixup. In my original post, Ballance was not included since, as you rightly point out, he is not a sitting member of Congress. After an edit, Ballance was unnecessarily included for, frankly, balance. I did not read the final edit and therefore was unaware that Ballance had been added to the list. I apologize for my editor’s error (he’s been flogged). And let no man (or woman) say The Fix opposes full disclosure.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has some remedial instruction for journalists about how such false balance is the opposite of journalistic objectivity. Unfortunately, her advice won’t be heeded by those who need it most.

December 7, 2005

How’d That Happen?


It’s been a few days at least since we’ve beaten up on the Washington Post, but Majikthise called my attention to an odd Post headline: “Cunningham Friends Baffled By His Blunder Into Bribery”. The article tells the heart-warming story of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), a likable guy known to make the occasional racist or anti-gay comment, who somehow found himself accepting $2 million in bribes. As Majikthise says,

Blundering into bribery. Don’t you hate it when that happens? You’re at a party, having a good time, and the next thing you know you’ve accepted a 42-foot yacht?

The Post story is a weird mix of condemnation and excuse making, but one thing’s for sure — there’s absolutely no suggestion that Cunningham’s troubles might be connected to any other Republicans. Not, for example, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), whose largest campaign contributor is MZM, the same defense contractor that got Cunningham into trouble, as Waldo Jaquith details. And certainly not Katherine Harris (R-VA), our friend Richard Pombo (R-CA), or the other Republicans who’ve benefited from MZM’s generosity (see Jane Hamsher at firedoglake).

December 1, 2005

Patrick Gavin on Plame and the Media at DCDL Next Week


Are you confused by the twists and turns of the CIA leak case? Fear not, Patrick Gavin has been following the Plame Affair obsessively from the beginning, and he’s generously agreed to explain it all to us next Thursday, December 8.

Gavin is the associate editorial-page editor for the Washington Examiner and a contributing editor for fishbowlDC, “a gossip blog about Washington, DC, media”. He’s also been known to blog at the Huffington Post.

He’ll be discussing all aspects of the Plame Affair but focusing on the problem of journalists reporting on a story they’re intimately involved in:

We’ll have free appetizers, and Timberlake’s is extending the happy hour discount on drinks.

Please join us at the usual time and place (6:30pm in the back room at Timberlake’s, 1726 Connecticut Ave) for a talk that’s sure to enlighten us and spark some interesting discussion.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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