The AP’s Lame-Ass Excuses For Ron Fournier

Michael Calderone at the Politico blog managed to get ahold of the talking points that the Associated Press is circulating to managers trying to deal with readers and service subscribers angry over Ron Fournier’s ongoing battle with his journalistic bias. Here they are.

Nearly everything in them has already been noted by Fournier’s critics; the talking points natter endlessly about his career, and downplay the significance of his dalliances with the McCain campaign and Karl Rove, taking Fournier’s own lame apology, such as it was — "I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence" — at face value. Like Fournier himself, AP refuses to recognize that the "breezy nature of the correspondence" revealed an inappropriate familiarness with Rove, just as the willingness to talk to the McCain campaign about a position with a campaign he’s covering reveals a partisan inclination inappropriate for anyone covering the campaign generally — and in both cases, the very clear appearance of a conflict of interest.

The essence of the talking points’ would-be refutation is contained in one sentence:

The analysis was similar in perspective, tone and content to what other journalists for major news organizations were writing or saying.

If they worked for Fox News or Town Hall, perhaps. It’s hard to tell: A search for "obama biden ‘lack of confidence’ " comes up with 38,300 hits — and a run through the first 20 pages indicates that every single one of them links in some fashion to Fournier’s hit piece. So if someone else said this, their influence was wildly overmatched by the massive reach of Fournier’s piece.

Which is the point here: If AP’s standards for "analysis" include producing unbalanced propaganda for one side of a political campaign, then those standards have indeed fallen mightily since the reign of Walter Mears — who would never have been caught dead indulging such crap as emerges from the laptop of Ron Fournier. Especially because the AP’s reach is so deep and so powerful.

This is an abuse of their monopoly on newswire service, and their member-papers’ editors ought to be outraged.

Go here to sign our letter to the AP seeking Fournier’s removal from the presidential-campaign beat.

The Obama Plotters: The Republican Double Standard In Law Enforcement Made Manifest

It seems there may be a reason federal law-enforcement officials are not interested in pursuing serious charges against the white-supremacist tweakers who were caught this week in Denver: The man making the decision is a Republican operative. And when it came to a threat against John McCain by a black man, he had a completely different approach.

The AP story describing the official pooh-poohing of the threat gives us a clue:

"We’re absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention, or the people of Colorado," U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said in a statement.

A \’serious threat\’

But when a black man in prison sent John McCain a threatening letter containing baby powder, it was another story altogether:

The man accused of sending a threatening letter to John McCain through McCain’s Colorado headquarters office detailed the contents of his letter in an exclusive interview with 7NEWS Friday.

Marc Ramsey, an inmate in the Arapahoe County Jail, admitted that he sent the letter.On Friday afternoon, the US AttorneyTroy Eid announced Ramsey will be charged with knowingly threatening to harm or kill through the U.S. mail. The charge is punishable up to five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 fines.

"We won’t stand for threats of this kind in Colorado," Eid said. "A death threat is not a legitimate form of political expression," Eid said.

Hmmmm. Let’s see: Men with rifles, a caches of other guns and ammo, all talking about killing Obama … they’re not a "serious threat." But a man in jail sending baby powder, well, that’s a "serious threat."

So, who is Troy Eid?

Looks like Colorado needs to create another pair of binoculars (or a microscope) to look into the political agenda of US Attorney Troy Eid. The veil of secrecy has been lifted and it turns out that Eid’s appointment may have had much less to do with competency as a prosecutor than his reliability as a partisan political operative in the eyes of Karl Rove (with the almost certain glowing endorsement of Rove’s "mini-me" Dick Wadhams).

Today’s Rocky Mountain News report, Allard: Nominee’s rejection ‘strange’ Link fills in a picture of the Rove machine rejecting Allard’s firm endorsement of William Leone to stay in the job. He was a veteran prosecutor who had earned Allard’s praise as "…an effective federal prosecutor."

Eid feigns ignorance as to why he was selected by the Rove – Harriett Miers justice as political theater team. But, that doesn’t hold water under the degrees of separation test. Connecting the dots between Eid, Wadhams and Rove provides a "well, duh!" explanation.

Of course, this is the same administration that has ascertained that eco-terrorists who set houses on fire are the most serious domestic-terror threat facing us … while abortion-clinic bombers and racist-right thugs have fallen off the radar.

[H/t to cinnamonape.]

Would-Be Obama Plotters: Everyone’s Eager To Minimize The Threat

Robert Gartrell

Law-enforcement officials are dismissing the apparent plot by white-supremacist tweakers to shoot Barack Obama in Denver because it’s clear that they weren’t competent in the least:

And of course, that means the wingnutosphere is even more eager to dismiss it, as Nitpicker reports. This includes some faux-macho posturing about guns that actually only demonstrate the wingnuts’ base ignorance about them.

Well, we’ve already observed that we were fortunate that they weren’t very competent. But where there’s smoke … well, let’s just say we shouldn’t be quite so eager to just toss this off.

Especially considering that the chief reason for dismissing any concern is that they were tweakers. This rationale was touted by the cops and seized upon by the wingnuts. But even Rachel Maddow applied this logic:

“Know how you can tell a crime isn’t going to be successful?” (Rachel) Maddow asked her new friends. “Crystal meth.”

There’s some legitimate basis to this reasoning, but it’s not wholly accurate, either — because tweakers, while innately unstable and scattered, still are capable of wreaking extraordinary harm. Example No. 1: Tim McVeigh.

Tim McVeigh

The Oklahoma City bomber and his Arizona buddy Michael Fortier were prodigious tweakers. At one point, McVeigh even exchanged some stolen guns for methamphetamine. As this 2001 piece about the relationship of meth to criminal behavior notes:

In fact, McVeigh’s lawyer made an argument during the trial that his client was a practicing, paranoid, delusional "tweaker," or meth addict, whose judgment had been irreparably impaired by his drug use.

The bottom-line issue is not whether these men were actually capable of killing Obama — considering the levels of security in Denver this week, any plot would have had only an infinitesimal likelihood of succeeding in the first place, and the plotters’ apparently addled state would have reduced that to nearly nothing. Yet it seems not to have crossed anyone’s minds that even if Obama was never at risk, any number of innocent bystanders stood in harm’s way.

No, the issue remains that there is an unusual level of visceral hatred towards Obama already extant because of his race. And that hatred is being whipped up to feverish levels by the dog-whistle race-baiting that is endemic to the right-wing attacks on Obama, as well as the general levels of violent rhetoric they have been deploying for the past decade and longer and rising in recent months.

These crazies don’t act in a vacuum. And the problem is one not just for their immediate targets, but for all of us.

When Wingnuts Attack Each Other … They Blame Liberals

All the wingnutosphere is gaga today over St. Michelle Malkin’s mugging at the hands of Alex Jones’ thugs. The Ole Perfesser, Gateway Pundit, Little Green Nutballs … you name it, they’re all over it like stink on shit.

That white-supremacist plot to kill Obama? Yawn.

But here’s the funny thing about it: Alex Jones is a far-right nutcase. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the guy actually manages to make Malkin look sane, decent and normal in comparison.

I used to write about Jones when he was heavily into "New World Order" and "Y2K Apocalypse" conspiracy theories in the 1990s. He only hates people like Malkin because they’re not far enough to the right for his tastes. Malkin, you see, is a"neocon," which the far right loathes almost as much as it despises mainstream Democrats.

You’d think that the wingnuts would figure out that these people are protesting Democrats. They’re not on our side. And many of the protests are of the right-wing fringe variety.

But that would ruin their neat little storyline about how Denver is full of fringe cases this week because Democrats just naturally attract them. Yeah, they’re here — and most of them are on Malkin’s side of the aisle. Some of them are even packing around guns.

No doubt, when these same fringe cases show up in St. Paul for the GOP Convention, that storyline will flip to where just the protesters themselves are to blame. Because in the right-wing Bizzarro Universe, that’s how it always works.

Dan Rather: ‘Straight With No Chaser’


Dan Rather gave a talk today at the Big Tent, and it was an impressive and genuinely important one. When the video is available I’ll put it up here so you can watch the entire thing.

Much of it was a critique of modern mainstream media, as well as the business of conventions. This in particular stood out for me:

I’m sure the broadcast and cable-news outlets will do a couple of short pieces here and there about how the real story of these conventions is the vast sums of money being raised at private parties all around town. But aside from, in most cases, simply mentioning this fact, they don’t follow up on just what that money is going to do to our political system now.

As one reporter, I think the best story here is who gives the big money to whom, expecting to get what. Now maybe the coverage does not for the most part center on this, because the larger news organizations — of which I was part for a long time, it’s important for you to understand that I do not except myself from the criticism inherent in some of the things I’m going to say today — it may be, in terms of the larger news organizations, that they don’t cover stories such as who gives the big money, to whom, expecting to get what, because after all they are part of the system. The money raised by the parties and the campaigns for advertising doesn’t go to charity. 

And that’s why I’m glad to see all of you here today. Those of you in the new media are afforded a great opportunity to tell the story straight with no chaser. Because your bottom line is not tied to the status quo in ways you won’t see with those running the evening news. I hope you take advantage of the freedom this gives you to report news that is worthy of the name.

There is nothing more important, more vital, to the democratic process than an independent — a truly independent press.

 Dang, you’d think the guy was reading Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald or something.

UPDATE: Here’s the video. (more…)

The DNC Today: Rahm And Steny And Mark, Oh My

Looking over today’s Democratic National Convention schedule, you’ve got to love the lineup for the early evening:

  • The final speaker offering remarks at the end of hour No. 3: Rahm Emanuel
  • The first speaker at the start of hour No. 4: Steny Hoyer
  • The keynote speaker: Mark Warner.

A preview of the first two:

I respect and admire John McCain’s many years of service, both in the Navy and in the Congress, and I believe that he is the only candidate with the experience, judgment and wisdom to lead this count — wait, which convention is this again?

As for Warner, well, there’s this bit of news today:

"There may be parts of the speech that aren’t going to get a lot of applause," Warner said Monday, "but I’ve got to say what I believe will get our country back on the right path."

Some Democrats were already complaining, saying that Warner’s job is to put a dent in Republican John McCain’s image.

"This isn’t the Richmond Chamber of Commerce," said Democratic consultant Paul Begala.

When Paul Begala is the one calling you out, you know there’s something amiss.

Oh well. At least we can look forward to seeing Lily Ledbetter tonight. I’m also eager to hear Gloria Craven of Unite Here.

It’s just going to require some bobbing and weaving to keep my blood pressure at something approaching normal.

[Credit to Eli for the speech preview.]

The Crazies Start Coming Out Of The Woodwork

plotters.thumbnail.jpgI got back to our hotel late last night and put on CNN as I was getting ready to fall over into my bed, when the report came on about the three men arrested in the Denver area for suspicion in a plot to assassinate Barack Obama:

The action started around 1:30 a.m. Sunday when police in the eastern suburb of Aurora stopped a truck that was swerving erratically. The driver, 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell, had a suspended driver’s license, and the truck was rented in the name of another person, said Aurora police Detective Marcus Dudley.

In the truck, officers found two rifles, including one with a scope; a bulletproof vest; boxes of ammunition; walkie-talkies; and suspected narcotics, Dudley said.

Aurora police, on edge because of heightened security surrounding the Democratic convention in Denver, alerted federal authorities.

Three hours later, at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, federal agents arrested Johnson, 32, at a hotel in Denver. He was being held on drug charges, Dudley said.

A half-hour after that, 33-year-old Shawn Robert Adolf jumped from a sixth-story window when authorities tried to arrest him at a hotel in suburban Glendale, police said.

Adolf was hospitalized and was being held on $1 million bond for several outstanding warrants involving drug charges.

Dudley didn’t say what tied the men together but said more arrests were possible. One of the rifles was stolen, and authorities had traced it to Kansas, Dudley said.

We’ve already discussed here the likelihood that a looming Obama presidency would drive the far-right wingnuts completely over the edge and back into the realm of violence. Fortunately, these men — if they really were plotting to kill Obama — were neither very competent nor much of a serious threat to Obama, though I would wager they’d have wound up hurting someone had they not been caught.

The report on CNN occurred during the Larry King Live convention wrapup. Immediately after the report, who should show up on the screen but Michael Reagan, as part of King’s show, which featured a regular phalanx of right-wingers who then got their shot at telling viewers why the Democratic convention sucked. (Side note: Gotta wonder if King will do the converse for the Republican convention.)

Yes, that Michael Reagan. The one who on his radio talk show two months ago attacked the "9/11 troofers" by telling his listeners repeatedly that someone should "take them out and shoot them." This is the kind of speech that, if spoken by a liberal, would earn them permanent banishment from the ranks of pundithood. But Reagan’s hate speech made barely a ripple — and there he is on CNN.

Obviously, the 9/11 troofers have nothing to do with Obama. But violent speech like this raises the cultural temperature enough that people start believing that shooting the people they disagree with is a legitimate expression. Especially when the people telling them it’s OK to shoot the people they hate are showing up on CNN.

And then when the violence breaks out, of course, the Larry Kings of the world host programs wondering why things like this could happen.

Scenes From Denver

As Jane has already noted, we had an interesting night last night before the Democratic National Convention had even begun: A crew of dirty hippie bloggers went down to check out the big AT&T party for the Blue Dogs. We’ll have the video up as soon as it’s edited.

But in the meantime, here are a couple of shots from the event. As you can see, Jane managed to inspire the wrath of the security folks hired by the Mile High Station, where the party was held, by stepping over their magical private-property line. The fellow in the red shirt at right actually shoved her, and the cop there was adamant about having her maintain the magic line.

code-pink.thumbnail.JPGThere also was a healthy contingent from Code Pink outside. They really set the Blue Dogs en route to the venue on edge — most of them walking in did their best to ignore and avoid them.

beware-glennzilla.thumbnail.JPG But the guy who really freaked ’em out was Glenn Greenwald, who was relentless in trying to get any of the partygoers to explain why they were there. (That’s Jane with her HarrietCam on the right.)

Not one of them could or did.

More on that soon.

[Note: Thanks to Jesse and the gang at Group News Blog for lending us their power source here at the Big Tent. Thus, today at least, we’re powered by GNB.]