Dec
05
2011

Anonymous Experts Agree: Newt Gingrich Is Smart, Caring

Many big papers have rules about when reporters can use anonymous sources. It should be rare, and the information generated should be important and difficult to get without granting a source the privilege to speak anonymously. Of course, reality is different–as Janine Jackson documented in the new issue of Extra!. Anonymous sources supposedly aren't allowed to abuse the privilege to attack someone–and they also aren't, as Jackson noted, supposed to do the opposite: Both papers officially caution against special pleading and spin, along with quotations, as the Post rules have it, "whose only purpose is to add color to a […]

Dec
02
2011

What Do You Call a Flip-Flop?

USA Today's front page today (12/2/12) seemed to know– their "Newsline" headline was, "Flip-Flops by Gingrich Fail to Alarm His Conservative Base." The piece inside by Jackie Kucinich–which is actually fairly comprehensive–unfortunately bore this headline: Gingrich Endures Shifts in Policy Candidate sees no backlash from base So he's able to endure himself?

Nov
29
2011

Newt Gingrich, Smartest Man in the Room

The New York Times today (11/29/11) has a somewhat cheeky piece about Republican candidate Newt Gingrich's background as a historian–which, according to reporter Trip Gabriel, means he's unusually smart: In an election season rife with factual misstatements, deliberate and otherwise, Mr. Gingrich sometimes seems to stand out for exhibiting an excess of knowledge. I don't know whether he really "sometimes seems" to have an "excess of knowledge"–whatever that might be. The point seems to be that he comes across as smarter than, say, Michele Bachmann. Well, sure. But what about Gingrich's misstatements? According to PolitiFact, at one debate Gingrich claimed […]

Nov
21
2011

Jonathan Karl Plays the Freddie/Fannie Blame Game

News that Newt Gingrich was receiving millions of dollars to advise Freddie Mac has to be a little unsettling for at least some conservative voters, who are accustomed to demonizing the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the housing bubble, and hence the recession. But it's not just right-wing pundits like Bill O'Reilly who are fond of blaming it all on Fannie and Freddie. Here's ABC reporter Jonathan Karl, speaking in conservative shorthand in his job as network news correspondent on This Week yesterday: Meet this week's new front-runner. He's a good debater, man of ideas, and […]

Aug
29
2011

Ron Paul in the Post–by the Numbers

Washington Post ombud Patrick Pexton dedicated his column this weekend (8/29/11) to addressing complaints about the skimpy coverage of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul. It's hard to argue with the numbers he's gathered: Still, the Post's coverage of Paul looks thin compared with its stories on Bachmann. In the past six months, the Post has published online or in print 34 staff-written stories plus 12 wire service stories on Bachmann, who has served not even five years in the House, and that doesn't count the blog posts about her on the Fix or Glenn Kessler's Fact Checker pieces. The Post […]

May
25
2011

Gingrich Out of Touch With 'Rest of America'–but So Is NYT

The New York Times (5/25/11) is reporting, perhaps accurately, that Newt Gingrich may have trouble living down his $500,000 credit line at Tiffany's. But this sentence by Sheryl Gay Stolberg is so Timesian: The way some voters out in the rest of America might see it, he's a guy who paid more for jewelry than some people pay for their houses. It will no doubt come as a surprise to folks at a newspaper that reports (1/1/97) that $100-a-bottle wine was an "everyday occurrence," and told readers where they could have dinner for two for under $100 as "an experiment […]

May
19
2011

Gingrich's Gaffes and Wesley Clark's

The New York Times' Michael Shear has a piece today (5/19/11) reminding readers that presidential candidates often have early stumbles of the sort that Newt Gingrich has been having. He recalls several examples, most of which don't really offer much hope for Gingrich. One is Wesley Clark's brief 2004 campaign: In 2004, General Clark's campaign was premised on his military credentials and his critique of President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. So when the general said, within days of announcing, that he might have voted to authorize the Iraq War, it was a big deal. That's not exactly […]

May
17
2011

David Gregory's Factcheck Fail on Show's Sponsor

Labor journalist Mike Elk (In These Times, 5/16/11) made an excellent point after watching NBC host David Gregory interview Newt Gingrich on Sunday's Meet the Press (5/15/11). Elk wrote: Speaking yesterday on Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that "the Obama system of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] is basically breaking the law to try to punish Boeing and to threaten every right-to-work state." While Meet the Press host David Gregory vigorously challenged Newt Gingrich on details of his personal life, he failed to challenge Gingrich on his false […]

May
16
2011

More Evidence of Gingrich's Idea-Spewing

Last week, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz explained that Newt Gingrich was "an idea-spewing machine" and a "one-man think tank"–even warning that "a keen intellect can also translate into the appearance of intellectual superiority." Well OK. A few days in Balz's paper, readers learned that in a recent speech Gingrich called Barack Obama a "food stamp president." Which I think must be some wonky think tank rhetoric. Matthew Yglesias also noted that in the same appearance, Gingrich advocated a return to Jim Crow-era voting laws, saying: "But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as […]

May
12
2011

NYT's Bai Repeats GOP's 'Family Values' Canard

Writing about Newt Gingrich's presidential bid on the New York Times' Caucus blog (5/10/11), Matt Bai seems to confuse GOP rhetoric for fact as he suggest that, when it comes to marriage vows, Republicans are generally known for walking the line: Mr. Gingrich, a bit of a rogue in his personal life, has never been a favorite of his party's powerful social conservatives, who tend to think of scandalous affairs as the purview of Democrats, and maybe Rudy Giuliani. In order to maintain a tired and inaccurate cliché, Bai has to have forgotten John McCain, Henry Hyde, David Vitter, Larry […]

May
12
2011

Newt Gingrich, Intellectual Powerhouse

Washington Post reporter Dan Balz has a front-page piece about Newt Gingrich's announcement that he's running for president. Balz calls Gingrich's Twitter declaration a "milestone in presidential politics," adding that Gingrich "is an idea-spewing machine," a "one-man think tank" and "someone who has remained in the forefront of the public policy debate over a span of decades" with his "devotion to the intersection of ideas and politics": Gingrich has "kept himself in the middle of public policy debates on healthcare, education, energy and foreign affairs." One possible downside, Balz warns: "A keen intellect can also translate into the appearance of […]

Dec
21
2010

The Debate Over Whether Obama Loves America

At a press conference in 2009, Barack Obama said, "America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world toward peace and prosperity." He also proclaimed that America has core values that make it exceptional. Based on those comments, right-wing pundits and politicians reached a conclusion:Barack Obama does not believe in "American exceptionalism." And since they say this all the time, reporters feel obligated to cover it as if it were an actual, serious argument. Hence Susan Page's front-page article in USA Today (12/21/10): Over White House objections, they're accusing him of not embracing the concept of American exceptionalism, saying […]

Nov
24
2009

Illegally Obtained Info Is a Big Scoop–or a Non-Story

The New York Times' reporter on the climate beat, Andrew Revkin, had a front-page story this weekend (11/20/09) detailing the contents of climate scientists' private emails discussing global warming. Predictably, the emails are being taken out of context by climate change deniers–but more interesting to me is the fact that the focus is on the content of the emails, not on the fact that they were illegally obtained. That's not the way corporate media handled the illegally taped cell phone call between Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and other Republican congressmembers in which Gingrich violated the terms of a ethics sanction […]