Friday, March 30, 2012

Random Friday:Street fighter Rhapsody

Fox Hypes RNC's Doctored Audio Of Supreme Court Arguments

by Todd Gregory/Media Matters

Bloomberg News is reporting that a Republican National Committee Web ad uses "altered audio from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments to attack President Barack Obama's health-care law." The Bloomberg article details the problems with the ad:
In a spot circulated yesterday [March 28], the Republican National Committee excerpts the opening seconds of the March 27 presentation of Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, in which he is heard struggling for words and twice stopping to drink water.
"Obamacare," the ad concludes, in words shown against a photograph of the high court. "It's a tough sell."
A review of a transcript and recordings of those moments shows that Verrilli took a sip of water just once, paused for a much briefer period, and completed his thought, rather than stuttering and trailing off as heard in the doctored version.
On his March 28 Fox News show, Sean Hannity aired an audio clip of Justice Antonin Scalia speaking during the arguments, and another of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Hannity then aired the RNC ad:

This left the impression that the RNC ad simply uses a clip of Verrilli to show that he had fared poorly during the arguments. In reality, as Bloomberg noted, Verrilli's speech was doctored to exaggerate the effect.
The time of publication on Bloomberg's article is 5:05 p.m. Eastern on March 29.
Hannity's show airs at 9 p.m. Eastern, and graphics throughout his March 29 show indicated it was airing live. But Hannity didn't apologize for airing the misleading ad. He didn't even mention it.
Even worse, during the show that follows HannityOn the Record, host Greta Van Susteren aired the RNC ad and discussed it with The Washington Examiner's Byron York -- without ever mentioning that it was doctored.

As Supreme Court expert Tom Goldstein noted on SCOTUSblog, distortions such as these likely hurt efforts to make the court more transparent:
[T]he Justices now have before them a perfect illustration of the gross distortion that can instantly be made of recordings of their proceedings.  What is to stop the same misleading stunt being pulled with the Justices' own oral argument questions and comments?  Nothing at all.  The Court made a special exception in releasing the oral argument tape for the health care arguments so promptly, and it probably will hesitate before doing so again.  If there were any chance that the Justices would permit cameras in the Court, I do not see happening now.

Right criticizing rush to judgement in Martin case

Truth Squad:60 Plus Association: 'Urge Senator Stabenow to support real Medicare reform'

Who: 60 Plus Association
Featured material: Television ad
Truth squad call: Flagrant foul
Questionable statements:
“Hi friend. I’m Pat Boone.”
Who is Pat Boone and why is he appearing in this ad? And whose friend is he?
Boone, who may be unknown to anyone under 50, is a singer who’s had an eclectic career. He was one of the most successful pop crooners of the 1950s, morphed into doing heavy-metal covers for a brief period in the 1990s and now hosts a nationally syndicated gospel music radio show.
He also has said he believes President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Obama’s long-form U.S. birth certificate is “Photoshop fraud.”
Boone, 77, is the spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, which describes itself as a conservative alternative to AARP. He also is seen frequently on daytime television as pitchman for a company that makes walk-in bathtubs for the elderly.
Boone: “Last year a lot of promises were made regarding health-care reform, but America’s seniors knew forcing a bill through Congress when Americans overwhelmingly opposed it would be disastrous. And we were right."
The Affordable Care Act, which this ad addresses, was signed into law in March 2010. It is highly controversial, especially the law’s provision that requires most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the law’s constitutionality over three days, starting March 26.
But the ad’s claim that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the act is overblown.
Polls have been all over the map, but one earlier this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a highly respected health care research organization mentioned in the ad, found Americans are almost evenly split on the law.
Forty-one percent of those in the national poll said they had a favorable view of the act and 40 percent said they had an unfavorable view of it. Nineteen percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
The ad offers no evidence to support Boone’s claim that the Affordable Care Act has been “disastrous.”
Millions of Michigan residents have benefited from the law, according to the Obama administration, which recently released a report on the law’s accomplishments.
But Republicans say the law will raise health-care costs, eliminate jobs and threaten the future of Medicare.
Woman’s voice: "President Obama’s health-care law cuts $500 billion from Medicare and creates a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. It’s like a Medicare IRS with the power to cut Medicare in order to pay for new government programs."
Claims that the Affordable Health Care Act cuts $500 billion are misleading. The law attempts to slow spending by $500 billion over 10 years, but overall Medicare spending will still rise during that period, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The board Boone is talking about is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would be created to help hold down Medicare costs. They are not “15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats,” but rather health-care experts and other citizens appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Senate.
The Republican-controlled House voted on March 22 to repeal the board, but the Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
Boone: "This IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) board can ration care and deny certain Medicare treatments so Washington can fund more wasteful spending. Your choices could be limited and you may not be able to keep your own doctor."
The board makes binding recommendations on cutting spending, if Medicare grows beyond certain targets. But it does not have the power to review individual cases or deny treatments.
"Medicare will be bankrupt in nine years."
There is great concern about the long-term financial viability of Medicare. That’s the reason for the creation of IPAB. But Medicare is not on the verge of bankruptcy, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
"But Washington politicians like Debbie Stabenow are ignoring the problem, putting their own re-elections first. Call Senator Stabenow. Urge her to support real Medicare reform and protect our seniors."
Stabenow’s office points to a number of efforts by the senator to preserve Medicare and lower costs for seniors, including support for phasing out the “doughnut hole” prescription-drug cost.
The ad doesn’t explain what it means by “real Medicare reform.” The 60 Plus Association has created a website in which it says the organization says its top priorities are “ending the federal estate tax, saving Social Security and Medicare, repealing Obamacare and creating energy security for seniors.”
"Tell her: unaccountable bureaucrats should never have the power to deny you the care you deserve."
Conservatives, such as the 60 Plus Association, seem to want to have it both ways. They argue that there is no inherent right to health care, but then claim that attempts to limit spending on Medicare are tantamount to withholding care that seniors “deserve.”
Overall impression:
The 60 Plus Association is a 504(c)(4) nonprofit tax-exempt organization that is not required to disclose the source of its funding, and it does not. It was founded in 1992 in Virginia by James L. Martin, a one-time journalist and former Republican operative, according to The organization says it has a “free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues.”
The group is running ads against five Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act and are up for re-election this year: Stabenow, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Truth Squad call:
This ad is full of exaggerations, distortions and factual inaccuracies. It represents fear-mongering designed to build support for overturning the Affordable Care Act.
Foul or no foul: Flagrant foul for blatant disregard of facts.

Santorum denies calling Obama the n-word

By David Edwards/Raw Story

The Internet was buzzing on Friday morning that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum may have almost dropped the n-bomb on President Barack Obama.
Speaking to a group of voters in Janesville, Wisconsin on Wednesday, the candidate seemed to catch himself before using a word that sounds like “n*gger” to describe the president. (The original video of the speech is available here. The remarks in question take place at about 34:50.)
“We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like – the anti-war government nig… America was a source for division around the world, that what we were doing was wrong,” Santorum said.
“Oh, come on!” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley told Raw Story when asked for comment. “Give me a break. That’s unbelievable. What does it say about those that are running with this story that that’s where their mind goes. You know, I’m not going to dignify that with [a response].”
“That is absolutely ridiculous.”
In January, the former Pennsylvania senator was caught on video telling a crowd in Iowa that he didn’t “want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money.”
But he later told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly that everyone misheard his comments.
“I looked at that [video] and I didn’t say that,” the candidate asserted. “What I started to say was a word and then it sort of changed and ‘blah’ came out. And people said I said ‘black’ and I didn’t.”
“I don’t use the term ‘black’ very often,” Santorum insisted. “I use the term ‘African American’ more than I use ‘black.’ And I as someone who did more work for historically black colleges, I used to — every year I used to bring all the historically black colleges into Washington, D.C. to try to help them.”
Watch a clip of Santorum’s comments below, first uploaded to YouTube on March 29, 2012.

Current TV Fires Keith Olbermann, Replaces Him With Spitzer Immediately, Olbermann to Sue

By Alyssa Rosenberg/Think Progress

The New York Times’ Brian Stelter breaks the news that Current TV has let go Keith Olbermann, and will replace him starting tonight with Eliot Spitzer, denying Olbermann to give a send-off or special comment to his viewers. Spitzer, like Olbermann, also had experience at MSNBC, where he appeared as a guest anchor. Olbermann had been suspendedby MSNBC for violating its rules on campaign contributions, an event that soured his relationship with the network, before his departure from MSNBC opened the door to his deal with Current. He was at one point a high-profile acquisition for the network, founded by former Vice President Al Gore to provide a more progressive take on the news. But his ratings fell and his relationship with Current quickly foundered.
In an open letter to Current viewers, Gore and co-founder Joel Hyatt wrote “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.” Olbermann had complained about technical issues on his set and squabbled with the network over his role in its coverage of the Republican primary, though he ultimately agreed to anchor those segments.
A source familiar with the decision-making process at Current said the choice to terminate Olbermann was based on what the network felt were violations of three tenets of his contract: a series of unathorized absences, a failure to promote the network, and disparagement both of Current as a network and of its executives individually. The source said that Olbermann missed 19 of his 41 working days in the months of January and February, and that Olbermann was told that if he took a vacation day he had requested for the night of March 5, it would be considered a breach of his contract. Olbermann took the day off, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm ran a two-hour edition of her show, the War Room, in his place. The charges that he disparaged the network likely stem from the disputes over election coverage, when Olbermann said in a public statement: ““I was not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions. They know it and we know it. Telling half the story is wrong.”
In a series of Tweets after that letter was released, Olbermann sharply criticized Current’s leadership and said that he would sue the network, writing:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain.
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.
Olbermann’s longtime attorney Patty Glaser has vowed a tough fight with the network after negotiations over a severance payment for Olbermann failed. And Current has hired a team of crisis public relations experts to help guide their response.

Fox News Contributor Thinks ‘The Blacks’ Are Making Too Big Of A Deal About Trayvon Martin

By Alex Seitz-Wald/Think Progress

While the controversy over the killing of Trayvon Martin largely skirted partisan politics in its first month, some conservative media outlets apparently saw an opportunity in the case and have spent the latter part of the week alternately smearing Martin, defending Zimmerman, or screaming about the dangers of viewing the case through a racial lens.
The conservative Daily Caller, a purportedly reported and fact-based news outlet, published parts of Martin’s life on social media, but only “selected [items that] reinforce the argument that the victim of the fatal shooting was a menacing figurewho might plausibly have been mistaken for a criminal,” the New York Times’ Robert Mackey noted. They skipped over pictures from prom night or of Martin’s friends, cherry-picking shots of Martin flipping the bird or wearing fake gold teeth.
Former Republican congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough called the posthumous vilification of Martin “beneath contempt” and “disgusting.” “I guess it’s because the President actually said something to comfort the parents, and I guess they just can’t handle that,” he said this morning.
Meanwhile, the Daily Caller did their best to defend Zimmerman’s account that Martin had beat him up, even when new surveillance footage cast doubt on that claim. But perhaps one shouldn’t expect better from an outlet whose top editors stood by a blatantly false report it published last year.
At the late Andrew Breitbart’s website attacked Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) for wearing a hoodie on the House floor in solidarity with Trayvon, writing a cynical story today headlined, “HOODIE-WEARING GUNMEN KILL 1, WOUND 5 IN BOBBY RUSH’S CHICAGO DISTRICT.”
On Fox News, host Sean Hannity and conservative media critic Brent Bozell, like many in the conservative echo chamber, have dwelled on the fact that the fringe New Black Panthers, who have been condemned by everyone, offered a “bounty” on Zimmerman’s head. And Hannity and Bozell found the real scandal here — that NBC News edited a 911 tape in a way that portrayed Zimmerman in a poor light.
Overall, the message seems to be, as Fox contributor Tamara Holder told Hannity: “The blacks are also making this more of a racial issue than it should be.” Watch it:
If one believes professional provocateur Ann Coulter, we may soon see black “lynch mobs” on the streets out to get “random white people.”

Michele Bachmann Thinks People ‘Choose’ To Not Have Health Insurance, Not Because They Can’t Afford It

By Amanda Peterson Beadle/Think Progress

The Affordable Care Act expands health insurance to the millions of uninsured Americans by making it more affordable and regulating the abusive practices of health insurance companies. But conservatives have attacked it as government overreach, with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) as one of theloudest critics. After the last day of Supreme Court hearings about the health care reform law, Bachmann told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that people are uninsured not because they can’t afford insurance, but because they simply choose to be uninsured:
BACHMANN: One argument that the government was trying to make is that somehow health care is uniquely different. That government can regulate it because everyone participates. Health insurance is not uniquely different. It’s still an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not. And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.
Watch her comments:
Bachmann’s assumption that 40 million people “choose” to not have health insurance downplays the plight that people can face trying to find affordable health insurance in the face of rising costs. For the past decade, the number of people uninsured has risen each year, and working families make up 80 percent of those who have no health insurance. And young adults make up the largest share of those who are uninsured.
Instead of acknowledging this growing problem, Bachmann has attacked the Affordable Care Act, the very thing that could help slow these costs and expand access to health care.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two More Advertisers Exit The Rush Limbaugh Show

by Media Matters staff

As part of the continuing exodus of advertisers from The Rush Limbaugh, a prolific Limbaugh advertiser in multiple markets, announced that it will no longer run ads with Limbaugh:
Additionally, Fisher Nuts has announced that it is taking steps to ensure its ads no longer air during Limbaugh's program: and Fisher Nuts are the latest advertisers to flee The Rush Limbaugh Show after Limbaugh's three-day sexist rant attacking Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student and women's health advocate. Limbaugh's rant came after Fluke spoke before elected officials about the various ways her classmates rely on prescription birth control, including a story about a friend who takes it to manage ovarian cysts.