Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More Stupid Punditry

Silliness in right-wing nutsery isn’t limited to columnists for the Washington Post or ex-governors with their eyes on the White House by way of Christianist demagoguery. Fox News joins the fun by lifting a Republican talking-points memo without even bothering to check it for typos, and former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer tut-tuts President Obama for calling on a reporter from a blog without remembering that he gave a “reporter” from a “dot com” a seat in his own press room.

First, Fox’s faux-pas:

During the February 10 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott claimed that “the Senate is expected to pass the $838 billion stimulus plan — its version of it, anyway. We thought we’d take a look back at the bill, how it was born, and how it grew, and grew, and grew.” In tracking how and when the bill purportedly “grew,” Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods.

However, all of the sources and cost figures Scott cited, as well as the accompanying on-screen text, were also contained in a February 10 press release issued by the Senate Republican Communications Center. One on-screen graphic during the segment even repeated a typo from the GOP document, further confirming that Scott was simply reading from a Republican press release. The Fox News graphic and the GOP press release both claimed that a Wall Street Journal report that the stimulus package could reach “$775 billion over two years” was published on December 19, 2009 [emphasis added].

This puts Fox in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that they lifted it without admitting to either plagiarism or laziness.

And here’s Ari Fleischer saying that Mr. Bush never called on “dot coms and other oddballs.”

O’REILLY: George Bush came in with a list of guys he was going to call on?

FLEISCHER: Yes, I used to prepare it for him. I would give him a grid, show him where every reporter is seated. And there are some reporters, you know, in that briefing room, you can imagine, Bill, you get a lot of dot coms and other oddballs who come in there. They’re screened.

O’REILLY: Like the Huffington Post. Now it gets called on.

FLEISCHER: And I used to seat them all in one section. I would call it “Siberia.” And I told the president, “Don’t call on Siberia.”

This is ironic on two levels: first, not only did Mr. Bush call on Jeff Gannon, the right-wing “reporter” for the now-defunct “Talon News.com” (when he wasn’t on the web selling himself as a hustler for gay sex), he was put in a seat in the middle of the room, not in “Siberia.” Second, Mr. Fleischer was disremembering his history to Bill O’Reilly, the shining example of oddballs.

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.