CNN And FOX Win Error Of The Year Award

It hurts to be wrong…especially if you’re caught and it’s about one of the biggest political stories of the year. But it turns out two of our biggest new networks did get it wrong and they’ve now been picked to be ‘honored’ for such.
CNN and Fox News share the distinction of “Error of the Year” for their simultaneous and mutual mischaracterizations of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision on June 28, 2012, on the individual mandate, both reporting that it had been struck down when it had not. The dubious ‘honor’ bestowed upon them for this catastrophic blunder was made by Poynter’, the website of thePoynter Institute of Journalism, which each year announces their choices for the most egregious media blunders of the year: “The best (and worst) media errors and corrections of 2012.

The misinformation on the mandate decision was made as both networks jumped on initial reporting coming out of the Court and, without enough facts or follow-up, somehow mangled what they heard into the exact opposite of what was fact. From Poynter:
CNN said it on air, online, by email newsletter, on Twitter. This mistake was platform agnostic, which is one reason why it deserves error of the year status. It’s an example of how an error on a big breaking story can flow quickly, and move seemingly out of control, in a matter of seconds. The SCOTUS error takes the honor, too, because of the high-profile nature of the story, and therefore of the mistakes.
But Poynter went on to explain that Fox was tapped for the “dis-‘honor not only for their misstatements, but also for the disingenuous way in which they adjusted after it became clear what they’d reported was wrong. Unlike CNN, which essentially, and with great chagrin, apologized:
In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts initially said that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congressional power under the Commerce Clause. CNN reported that fact, but then wrongly reported that therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional. However, that was not the whole of the Court’s ruling. CNN regrets that it didn’t wait to report out the full and complete opinion regarding the mandate. We made a correction within a few minutes and apologize for the error.
Fox took a different approach, deciding to go with an arrogant dismissal of their own erroneous reporting as “what we knew at the time,” mixed with a dig or two at CNN’s mistake of the same. Fox’s statement (reported by Poynter):
“We gave our viewers the news as it happened. When Justice Roberts said, and we read, that the mandate was not valid under the Commerce clause, we reported it. Bill Hemmer even added, be patient as we work through this. Then when we heard and read, that the mandate could be upheld under the government’s power to tax, we reported that as well—all within two minutes.
“By contrast, one other cable network was unable to get their Supreme Court reporter to the camera, and said as much. Another said it was a big setback for the President. Fox reported the facts, as they came in.”
Jeff Sonderman at Poynter made the point that Fox’s attempt at face-saving actually worked against them on the integrity front and worked to solidify their inclusion in the “Error of the Year” category:
“Fox’s statement says it ‘reported the facts’ when in fact Fox, like CNN, misinterpreted the facts. CNN owned its error when it said it leapt from reporting Roberts’ words to ‘therefore the court struck down the mandate as unconstitutional.’ Fox is saying its interpretation was a fact. Not quite.”
The awards given by Poynter each year are a topic of great anticipation and interest. Their site,, is an off-shoot the Poynter Institute, the non-profit school for journalism founded by Nelson Poynter (owner and chairman of the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times). The school embraces the motto “Democracy needs journalism. Journalism needs Poynter.” [source:Wikipedia] Equally as noble, the tagline at their website is:
“Helps journalists do their jobs better and to serve their communities.”
Given their clear goal to set a higher bar regarding journalistic truth and integrity, Poynter’s award for “Error of the Year” can’t help but come with a certain “gravitas of shame,” now, no doubt, being felt by both CNN and Fox.



President Obama has insisted that a long-term solution to the nation's borrowing limit be included in a deal to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes that will come January 1 if the president and Congress don't reach an agreement. But Republicans have clung to the debt limit as their sole leverage in the negotiations. "The debt limit ought to be used to bring fiscal sanity to Washington, DC," John Boehner said at a press briefing on Thursday.

There are a number of points on which Obama needs to stand firm during the fiscal-cliff negotiations. The new tax rates could decide federal revenue for decades, and the president must hold his ground on increasing the Medicare eligibility age. But the debt limit could prove to be the most important aspect of any deal. The past two years of Obama's presidency have been dominated by a string of crises constructed by congressional Republicans, who've threatened to crash the U.S. economy to achieve their goals. The next four years will fall into the same pattern if he doesn't use the political capital of his recent re-election to remove the GOP's ability to use the debt ceiling as a means to take the government hostage.

Voter Suppression 2013

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When it comes to voter-suppression techniques, Republicans generally maintain a certain pretense, at least in public. They argue that measures such as voter-ID laws aren't about blocking Americans' access to their own elections, but rather, about preventing imaginary fraud. The defense isn't compelling, but GOP officials generally repeat it with a straight face.
Once in a great while, however, a Republican will slip and tell the truth.
Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter appeared on a panel Monday hosted by the Pew Center on the States to discuss the long lines and voter ID controversies that plagued the 2012 election. In his comments, Tranter seemed to imply that he believed these issues were helpful to Republicans and should be pursued for that reason.
"A lot of us are campaign officials -- or campaign professionals -- and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that's voter ID, sometimes we think that's longer lines -- whatever it may be," Tranter said with a laugh.
In fairness, I have not yet seen the full context, but the Huffington Post talked to Michael McDonald, head of the non-partisan George Mason University Election Project, who was in the room and heard everything Tranter said. Asked how he reacted to Tranter's comments, McDonald said, "I couldn't believe that they were said." He added that those around him shared similar looks, with attendees surprised by what they'd heard.
What's more, note that Tranter, though hardly a household name, is not an obscure, outside-the-establishment figure: his firm did "data consulting" for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, and he's served as a consultant for John McCain's 2008 campaign and the NRSC.
And according to this Republican campaign professional, Republicans "sometimes" want to make voting more difficult, on purpose, "to help our side" win elections. Tranter said this out loud, on camera, in front of a room full of political professionals.
The next time GOP officials insist their voter-suppression tactics are about nothing more than protecting the integrity of elections, keep Tranter's jaw-dropping candor in mind.

How CNN Misinforms On Climate Change

In a blog highlighting the segment, CNN claims it invited "a pair of experts" to discuss climate change, without noting that Morano has no scientific expertise. The blog says Morano "presented an alternate theory regarding the impact, and concern, associated with carbon dioxide,"ignoring that the vast majority of scientists agree that carbon dioxide emissions are driving global warming and that the public should be worried about the impacts of it.
CNN anchor Piers Morgan hosted a "debate" on climate science between Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and professional climate misinformer Marc Morano. As Morano spewed myths about climate change, CNN failed to disclose that he has no scientific training and is paid by an industry-funded organization.
Offering two "viewpoints" about temperature data and suggesting that scientific facts are up for "debate" is misleading in and of itself. During the segment, Morano claimed that we "have gone 16 years without global warming according to UN data." Nye pushed back, saying "This will be the hottest two decades in history, in recorded history. So when you throw around a statement like the UN says it's not the hottest 20 years, I got to disagree with you." But the audience was left unaware that Morano was highlighting a short time period to obscure the overall warming trend, as illustrated by this chart from Skeptical Science:
If the role of the media is to inform its audience, anchors must recognize how people are informed and misinformed. When people are repeatedly exposed to a myth, it becomes more familiar and they are more likely to believe it. By giving Morano a platform to claim that average temperatures have not warmed in nearly 20 years, Morgan enabled him to familiarize CNN's audience with climate myths.
It's not surprising that Morano seized the opportunity to spread confusion about climate change. Morano is paid over $150,000 by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, an organization that has received funding from oil companies.* As New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin explained, "industry-funded groups have used the media's tradition of quoting people with competing views to convey a state of confusion even as consensus on warming has built." Morano has promoted extreme attacks on climate scientists and those that accept global warming. His website often publishes the email addresses of scientists, leading to a barrage of hate mail, and he defended a billboard campaign comparing those who accept climate science to the Unabomber, saying it was "edgy."
While Morgan tried to pin down Morano to acknowledge certain facts -- that the earth is warming and the vast majority of climate scientists agree that burning fossil fuels is the major cause of this warming -- Morano seemed to be stuck in an alternate universe, making the on-air exercise a waste of time. Or as Nye concluded at the end of the segment, "We just don't agree on facts. So we aren't getting anywhere."

Newt Gingrich on Hillary Clinton

"The Republican party is incapable of competing at that level. First of all, she's very formidable as a person. She's a very competent person. She's married to the most popular Democrat in the country; they both think [it] would be good for her to be president. It makes it virtually impossible to stop her for the nomination ... Trying to win that will be truly the Super Bowl."

—Newt Gingrich on Hillary Clinton's 2016 chances


Republicans are engaged in a bout of soul searching following the calamitous results of the 2012 election. But the party is held back by ideologues who can't get with the times. Take same-sex marriage. The trend lines are clearly against the Republican Party's opposition to marriage equality; young voters overwhelmingly support full marriage rights for LGBT couples and each year the share of the electorate that supports gay rights grows. If the GOP hopes to sell conservatism to younger voters, moderating its stance on same-sex marriage would be a quick and easy fix.

Yet the GOP won't have an easy time severing its homophobic ties. Yesterday, during an event at Princeton, Supreme Court Justice and conservative icon Antonin Scalia didn't mince words in criticizing LGBT rights. "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality," Scalia asked before a room of students, "can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?" The statement was a response to a question posed by Duncan Hosie, a gay freshman at the university. Unsurprisingly, the justice's answer proved unpersuasive to the room full of Millennials—all Scalia could muster was “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”

This term, the Supreme Court will hear two cases relating to same-sex marriage. No one is quite sure how swing justice Anthony Kennedy will vote, but few expect any of the four solidly conservative justices to rule in favor of LGBT rights. These two cases may one day be considered as the landmark civil-rights decision of this generation. While the Supreme Court justices themselves might technically be separated from the machinations of party politics, most voters are savvy enough to realize that Scalia and his conservative brethren are Republican icons as much as John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. The GOP's hopes for wooing young voters will be for naught if the party's ideological allies on the Court block marriage rights for gay couples next year. The conservative legal movement, just like conservative elected officials, is on the wrong side of history. The stances they take now will color voter perceptions for decades to come.

Obama To Nominate Sen. Chuck Hagel to Defense

Soon the guessing game will be over. Senior White House officials said Tuesday that President Obama will likely announce his picks for secretaries of state and defense within the next two weeks. On the alleged short list for the top Pentagon spot is none other than former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel. According to White House sources, the president is still thinking of nominating embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for secretary of state, but has concerns she would face a tough confirmation battle because of her comments on the Benghazi attack. The White House is still deciding whether it will roll out the new nominations one by one, or wait to announce them all together later this month.


Republican elites have been pushing the party to moderate its image in order to stave off losses as the national electorate becomes increasingly diverse. But all the preening is unlikely to amount to substantive change. Sure, Republicans can talk about softening their tone against undocumented workers, or agree to hypothetical tax hikes, but when it comes down to it, they are still indebted to the right-wing base.

Take Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss. He was among the first Republicans to turn on Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Late last month, he claimed he cared "a lot more about [the country] than I do about Grover Norquist" during a radio interview with a Georgia station. Since then, he's stuck to his rosy bipartisan rhetoric. "I’m very open at home that I’m going to continue to work hard to solve problems because our country’s in trouble, and you can’t do it without Democrats and Republicans working together,” Chambliss said Monday.
The willingness to reach across the aisle could drive Chambliss out of his party. Public Policy Polling ran the numbers and Chambliss looks to be in trouble when he's up for re-election in 2014. The senator dominates the general-election field, but would struggle to win his own party's primary. Just 38 percent of Republicans would like to see him serve another term, compared to 43 percent who would rather send a more conservative senator to Washington. Herman Cain—the erstwhile presidential candidate who loves pizza, has a bizarre obsession with the number 9, and ended his last campaign after allegations of sexual harassment hit the news—trumps Chambliss 50-36 percent among Republican voters.
Perhaps Chambliss will ignore the threat emerging from his rightward flank. But more likely, he'll abandon those thoughts of compromise once a bill comes to a vote. Especially when conservative donors like Brent Bozell keep running to the press with threats against any Republican who dares cave. "The only people who should be funded are those conservatives who don't break their word," Bozell said, "and the primary opponents of the ones who do."

Speaker John Boehner Punishes his GOP opposition

House GOP: Looks like there's been an interesting behind-the-scenes wipeout of some of the most notorious dystopian wreckers who've been a thorn in Speaker John Boehner's side. The GOP Steering Committee has removed Reps. David Schweikert (AZ-06) and Walter Jones (NC-03) from the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin Amash (MI-03) and Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) from the Budget Committee—reportedly all for failing to support their own party with sufficient gusto.
Indeed, Roll Call says that committee members "reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership," so it's no surprise to see that this quartet failed to make the cut. Jones has been an occasional gadfly from the left (mostly on foreign policy), but the other three, especially Amash, practically live to give Boehner agita, as I've written about before. Amash has been the biggest offender when it comes to voting against Republican budgetary measures, and renegades like him brought Boehner close to the brink more than once last year.
And you'll also recall that Schweikert defeated fellow Rep. Ben Quayle in a redistricting-induced primary earlier this year. The well-connected Quayle was the favorite of House leaders, and John Boehner went out of his way to fluff him. That led the Club for Growth to threaten Boehner to stay out of the primary—which he did, but in the end, it seems like he'll get the last laugh: It's a pyrrhic victory for the Club if Schweikert gets neutered in terms of committee assignments.
But you have to wonder if this kind of payback will actually succeed in bringing the Club and other conservative meddlers to heel, or if it'll just inspire them to fight the establishment even harder. The Heritage Foundation's action arm is already furious, in particular calling Schweikert's removal "unthinkable," but will it still be worth winning all these primaries if Boehner reduces all their favorites to backbencher status?
I'm going to guess they won't give up, though—these organizations have no purpose except to drive the GOP as far rightward as possible. They are predisposed against ever going along to get along. And that'll just mean that the GOP's intra-party turf wars will continue on their current trend and grow ever nastier, damaging the Republican brand further and occasionally even handing seats over to the Democrats (as we saw in this year's Indiana Senate race). Hey, I'm not complaining.

From Daily KOS

Limbaugh Urges GOP to Jump Off The Cliff

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh encouraged GOP lawmakers to take the existing game of political brinksmanship regarding the fiscal cliff and bring it to its next logical step: Backing out of negotiations with President Barack Obama entirely.
On his program on Thursday, Limbaugh advised Republicans to completely withdraw in order to "find out just how willing [Obama] is to take the country over the cliff."
"The way to handle that, the way to call his bluff on this is to not negotiate with him and leave it up to him what happens," he said. "Very publicly walk away from the talks so that whatever happens vis-à-vis the cliff is perceived to happen -- well, the real point will be to flush Obama out, find out. I would suggest to people who really believe Obama is concerned about his second term and his legacy -- he doesn't want a recession -- the only way to flush that out is to come dangerously close to allowing it all to happen."

Limbaugh isn't alone in his assessment that Republicans have little to gain from engaging with Obama and Democrats on crafting a deal that would avert the fiscal cliff. Earlier this week, former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich advised congressional Republicans to "back out of all of this negotiating with Obama." And conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer suggested Thursday that they "simply walk away" from the bargaining table.
While Republicans haven't yet heeded this advice, they have repeatedly sounded glib about the lack of progress on finding an agreement.
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented Obama's proposal to Republicans, outlining a plan with $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the coming decade, a new round of stimulus spending and a loosely outlined $400 billion in cuts to entitlement programs to be negotiated next year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reportedly laughed out loud at the blueprint, while other Republicans responded angrily to what was contained in it.
Despite the outrage, the offer was actually presented to them earlier this month by President Barack Obama at the White House, according to a well-placed Democratic source, and confirmed by two GOP sources involved in the talks.
What surprised Republicans wasn't the newest offer, but who delivered it. The original offer, delivered by Obama, simply wasn't taken seriously. Republicans assumed that Obama's initial offer floated to congressional leaders would go like many others he's made in the past, and quickly soften amid staff talks. That seemed to be happening, which left them taken by surpise by Geithner. Acknowledging that Thursday's offer was essentially the same as the one presented by the president, a GOP aide said that White House "staff has been back-channeling flexibility up until now. This was the first time their staff echoed his fantasyland numbers." A second senior GOP aide called Thursday's offer "a more detailed version" of Obama's. "The day after the White House meeting, we gave them our framework. It took them 10 days for them to give us theirs and it didn't reflect any of the conversations we have had since then," he said.