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The NYT Has Holiday Gift Ideas for You



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When you’re done reading about homeless children in New York City in today’s NYT, check out some of their suggested gifts for your loved-one this holiday season. How about some custom-made shoes for $7,650?

Or, $2,250 to learn how to drive a go-cart and get in-touch with the “fifth-grader inside you“?

Their “Holiday Guide” here.

About Today’s Big NYT Piece on Homeless Children in NYC



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The Times has an article today titled “Invisible Child — Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life” that catalog’s one family’s struggle with poverty and homelessness in Brooklyn. An excerpt:

Dasani’s own neighborhood, Fort Greene, is now one of gentrification’s gems. Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America. 

But it’s really just a longer, more in-depth version of this Daily News piece on homeless children in New York City from last year:

Sometimes life in a homeless shelter is more than a 14-year-old can handle.

Francheska Luciano, who is among a growing number of homeless children in the city, said living in a shelter was “like living in hell.”

“I’m tired of this,” she said Friday while sitting on a curb outside a shelter intake center in the Bronx with her mother and little sisters. “It’s a nightmare every day.”

The number of children in the city’s shelters hit 19,000 last week, the most recent city data available show.

“Not since the grim days of the Great Depression has New York City had 20,000 children sleeping homeless each night,” said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless.

And the Times piece today reports the same news as this Wall Street Journal piece from March:

The numbers in New York, however, are starker, according to a report to be published Tuesday by the Coalition for the Homeless, a New York advocacy group, citing New York City government figures.

More than 21,000 children—an unprecedented 1% of the city’s youth—slept each night in a city shelter in January, an increase of 22% in the past year, the report said, while homeless families now spend more than a year in a shelter, on average, for the first time since 1987. In January, an average of 11,984 homeless families slept in shelters each night, a rise of 18% from a year earlier.

“New York is facing a homeless crisis worse than any time since the Great Depression,” said Mary Brosnahan, president of the Coalition for the Homeless.

I’m glad the New York Times finally noticed. As for the “Coalition for the Homeless,” the source above, they’re expecting Mayor-elect de Blasio to fix the problem:

New York City’s next mayor will inherit an historic homelessness crisis. The good news is that Bill de Blasio’s knowledge and experience, his campaign platform, and his vision for a less unequal city make him extraordinarily well-suited to stem the tide of rising homelessness.

Everyone at Coalition for the Homeless offers warm congratulations to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio for his resounding victory this week. And we look forward to working with him, his transition team, and his new administration in the coming months and years to address New York City’s historic homelessness crisis.

Throughout the mayoral campaign we have been heartened and encouraged by de Blasio’s focus on worsening inequality – and by New York voters’ overwhelming response to that message. Homelessness is clearly one of the major symptoms of NYC’s worsening inequality, in particular the widening gap between housing costs and the incomes of poor and low-income New Yorkers.

Indeed, there is no stronger evidence of de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” than the more than 52,000 homeless New Yorkers – among them 22,000 homeless children – who are sleeping each night in municipal shelters.

The good news is that, not only does de Blasio understand the scale of the problem, he has the knowledge and experience to tackle NYC’s homelessness crisis. As a former Federal housing official and chair of the City Council’s General Welfare Committee, he has firsthand and thorough knowledge of homeless services and affordable housing in New York.

Stay tuned.

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MSNBC’s Touré Calls CNN’s Don Lemon a ‘White Leader’



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Touré tweeted this last night as he was in the middle of discussion on why there’s not more discussion of white-on-white crime:

He tweeted a clarification a few minutes later, which really doesn’t clear anything up:

So Don Lemon is the kind of African-American white people will listen to? (Guess that makes Oprah Winfrey a white leader.) Touré still need to explain what he means.

As of this post, Don Lemon has yet to respond.

NBC’s Reboot of The Sound of Music Was Ratings Gold



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Details here.

And before anyone gets any bright ideas, I’m already pitching NBC — albeit, through Twitter — on their next reboot for Carrie Underwood: Casablanca.

My thoughts on the cast. . .

Carrie Underwood as Ilsa

Justin Timberlake as Rick​

Will.i.am as Sam

​Edward Burns as Victor

Steve Buscemi as Louie 

Paul Giamatti as Ugarte

John Malkovich as Major Strasser, and

Alec Baldwin as Signor Ferrari

​Hollywood here I come!

 

 

Is Liberal Talk Radio in California Dying?



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Rush Limbaugh is changing radio stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco starting January 1. And from this write-up in the Hollywood Reporter, it sounds like liberal talk-radio hosts will be hardest hit:

The move could be a blow to liberal talk radio as Clear Channel rebrands as “conservative” two stations currently featuring left-wing personalities like Stephanie Miller and Bill Press.

Rush Limbaugh will leave major AM radio stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco in order to help anchor some lesser-known channels in those markets that will be rebranded as conservative talk, people familiar with the plans from Clear Channel Media and Entertainment said Thursday.

The strategy could leave some left-wing talkers, such as Stephanie Miller, Bill Press and Thom Hartmann, without a home in a couple of very large, liberal-skewing markets.

In Los Angeles, Limbaugh’s top-rated show will no longer be heard on KFI AM 640 beginning on Jan. 1 and instead be on KTLK AM 1150, which is to be rebranded “The Patriot” with an all-conservative lineup that will include Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, which means the latter will be leaving TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, according to insiders.

Beginning the same day, KFI will become a channel that focuses more on local issues. Limbaugh’s 9 a.m.-noon slot will be filled partially by Bill Handel and partially by Bill Carroll, according to insiders.

Clear Channel, which owns both KFI and the soon-to-be Patriot, is making a similar move in San Francisco, where Limbaugh will jump from Talk 910 KKSF-AM to 960 AM KNEW, which will rebranded as “Right Radio.”

The rest here.

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ESPN Forced To Cancel ‘Ron Burgundy’ for Real News



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ESPN tweeted last night:

Stupid real news had to go and interrupt their promotional fun and games.

CMS Kinda, Sorta Admits It’s Having Back-End Problems



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Sarah Kliff over at the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” has been doing a good job reporting on the back-end problems of HealthCare.gov. One main — and outstanding — issue is regarding the “834″ reports. These are automatic reports generated by HealthCare.gov and sent to insurance companies that tells insurers who signed up and for what. The reports have been riddled with errors, meaning people who think they have insurance do not. That’s a problem.

Although CMS acknowledges this problem with the reporters, they won’t give a straight answer on how many people who signed up are affected. And reporters have asked over and over again for the details, to no avail. Here’s what Kliff posted on Tuesday:

Still no 834 error rate. This was a question that came up a few times Monday, and again today when CNBC’s Dan Magnan brought it up.

“We know there are different types of errors,” Bataille said. “We have information on the specific bugs. The statistic I don’t have [is] in terms of overall error rate. We’re making a lot of progress to punch out the issues we have diagnosed working with issuers.”

When asked about the Washington Post’s report this morning that approximately one-third of the 834s sent so far had errors, Bataille replied, “I can tell you that does not reflect an accurate picture of what is happening right now…we’ve made tremendous progress and will certainly work to fix any standing issues.”

Bataille said that her agency is looking at both the issues with 834s that have occurred in the past, and also those that are happening now, to get a sense of whether the fixes they are implementing are working. CMS has a “team of experts working with issuers and working with officials from CMS so we are having regular daily conversations in order to identify any additional issues in the system, make sure those issues we’ve made improvements to are working,” she said.

Last night, CMS sent out this release to the media, hoping to show everyone that they’re, at the very least, working on the problem. The release, however, gives no details, nor any sense of confidence that CMS knows what’s going on:

Joint Statement from CMS, AHIP & BCBSA

WASHINGTON – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) issued the following joint statement today: 

“Ensuring that all Americans who need coverage are properly enrolled is a top priority for all of us. We are working together closely to resolve back-end issues between health plans and healthcare.gov. This is a very focused effort that is being driven by a team of experts from CMS, key outside contractors working closely with health plan representatives and overseen by CMS’s general contractor, Optum/QSSI. We will report on our progress.”

But it get worse. Kliff posted yesterday on similar back-end problems with those who have signed up for Medicaid. An excerpt:

Every week, usually on Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sends state Medicaid departments something called a “flat file.”

These files are sort of similar to the much-discussed 834 transmissions, which the exchange sends to an insurance plan when someone signs up. Except the flat files are for the Medicaid program, and lists people that the exchange thinks — but hasn’t officially determined — will be eligible for the Medicaid program.

And, much like those 834 transmissions, Medicaid officials say, these flat files are riddled with errors and incomplete information.

“They are really incomplete with lots of data cells missing,” said Matt Salo, who runs the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “Sometimes the immigration status is missing, or their town is in a different state. A quick glance sometimes shows they’re not Medicaid eligible because they earn too much, or they’re already in the system.”

The flat file was not initially meant to be an enrollment document. It was meant, instead, to give states a sense of enrollment volume, so they could beef up their staffing, if necessary. A separate account transfer function was supposed to be the actual enrollment vehicle.

Medicaid expansion is the part of Obamacare that the left likes to say is working the best. Maybe not. 

 

 

Martin Bashir Resigns from MSNBC



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Radley Balko Joins the Washington Post



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Here’s the announcement from the Post, via Poynter:

We are delighted to announce that Radley Balko, one of the country’s top criminal justice reporters, will be joining The Washington Post’s Opinions section, where he will have his own blog about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties.

Radley has made headlines for his groundbreaking stories and investigations into the criminal justice system across America. His work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Mississippi Supreme Court. Radley’s dogged reporting in the Cory Maye case helped get Maye freed from death row and later released from prison, and his investigations into the controversial methods of Mississippi pathologist Steven Hayne led to Hayne’s dismissal as the state’s top medical examiner. His first book, “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces,” has been praised across the political spectrum, and hailed as a “must read” and a “searing exposé…of police brutality.”

He was named Journalist of the Year in 2011 by the Los Angeles Press Club, which said “Radley Balko is one of those throw-back journalists that understands the power of groundbreaking reporting and how to make a significant impact through his work. Time and time again, his stories cause readers to stop, think, and most significantly, take action.”

Radley comes to The Post from The Huffington Post, where he was a senior writer and investigative reporter. He also writes about the music and culture of Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. A graduate of Indiana University, Radley was previously a senior editor at Reason magazine, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute and an opinion columnist for FoxNews.com.

Radley will be joining us in January. Please join us in welcoming him to The Post.

Fred Hiatt and James Downie
December 4, 2013

Chris Matthews Lands Obama Interview



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1) I hope Chris “leg tingles” Matthews doesn’t embarrass himself on national TV and have some sort of seizure while interviewing the president and 2) there could be no more of a softball interview than “Hardball” Chris Matthews.

For example, here’s what Matthews tweeted out last night on HealthCare.gov fixes:

Um, not exactly.

The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff posted her summary of the daily CMS briefing, hours before Hardball aired. She described the call as “tense” and noted how CMS keeps dodging the most important question related to the error-rate of HealthCare.gov’s backend systems:

This is where Monday’s media call started to get more tense than the dozens that have happened in the past, with reporter after reporter asking about the numbers of 834 errors and not getting a response from the administration. As The Wall Street Journal reporter reasoned, if the administration knows that 80 percent of the errors are coming from a certain bug — then simple math should figure out the total number.

Bataille did not provide an answer, beyond the metric of the Social Security bug causing the majority of the errors. “That’s the information I’ve got today,” she told The Wall Street Journal’s Louise Radnofsky, when she was the third reporter to ask about the issue.

The administration has identified the 834 transmissions as key to the health law’s success. When Jeff Zients came onboard to help fix HealthCare.gov, he identified fixing these flawed transmissions as the issue at the very top of of his punch list. The reason I’ve kept asking about it is because experts tell me repeatedly that if the health law wants to have a shot at working, then the 834 transmissions need to work, too. That makes how poorly, or how well, the 834 transmissions are going a really important metric for understanding whether the health-care law is working — and one that reporters are likely to keep pressing the administration on.

The interview is due to air on Thursday. If Matthews doesn’t ask the president about these 834 errors, then he can stop calling himself a journalist and be content to be known as the president’s cheerleader. 

 

Iran’s Fars News Agency vs. Obama



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The Fars News Agency says the White House is lying about the nuke deal:

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called invalid a press release by the White House alleged to be the text of the nuclear agreement struck by Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) in Geneva on Sunday.

“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said on Tuesday.

This is the same Fars News Agency that reported an Iranian scientist had invented a time machine, so, maybe it’s not the most reputable of sources. Or maybe the Iranians used the time machine to go back and change the language of the agreement? 

Even Alec Baldwin Wonders Why Martin Bashir Is Still on the Air



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Gothamist caught up with Alec Baldwin to get his side of the story on his departure from MSNBC: (I cleaned it up)

“Martin Bashir’s on the air, and he made his comment on the air! I dispute half the comment I made… if I called him ‘c***sucking maggot’ or a ‘c***sucking motherfucker’… ‘f***ot’ is not the word that came out of my mouth. That I know. But you’ve got the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy — Rich Ferraro and Andrew Sullivan — they’re out there, they’ve got you. Rich Ferraro, this is probably one of his greatest triumphs. They killed my show. And I have to take some responsibility for that myself.”

And regarding the report that Baldwin demanded a humidifier:

These stories with the Post, the way they work, they have to have some kernel of truth. So if I complained, as I did, I said to them… I didn’t ask for a humidifier, I asked for humidification. So we had a day where… my voice would crack, it was heavily air conditioned, I found it tough to talk.

I honestly don’t know if he’s joking or serious about “humidification.” 

Awkward: President Obama at DreamWorks Criticizes Violence in Movies



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Via the Hollywood Reporter:

President Barack Obama praised the entertainment industry as an “engine” for the economy on Tuesday at the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale, Calif., while joking that his ears were the inspiration for the studio’s Shrek.

He called entertainment part of America’s “diplomacy.”

“We have shaped a world culture through you,” he said, ticking off tolerance, diversity and creativity.

He said The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Will and Grace, Modern Family and other content add up to a “remarkable legacy” for Hollywood. But with that comes “responsibility,” he said, and he lamented gun violence in TV shows and movies.

Yeah. DreamWorks will get right on that cutting down on gun violence in movies, just as soon as the Dreamwork’s gun-violent (and car-violent) Need for Speed makes a little cash for the company:

 

Piers Morgan: President Obama Doesn’t Care About Guns



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What an ass:

I might not agree with what President Obama or “his people” want to do about guns, but to say they “don’t care” about kids getting gunned down is reprehensible. 

Maybe the president just doesn’t want to appear with the unstable Piers Morgan to talk about guns. I’m sure the ladies from The View could get him on to talk about what he’s getting Michelle and the girls for Christmas.

Lara Logan Taking a Leave of Absence from 60 Minutes



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Over her now discredited Benghazi report

Alec Baldwin Out at MSNBC



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Richard Johnson of the New York Post’s Page Six reports:

A spokesman for Baldwin quibbled with the term “fired,” but confirmed, “The show is not coming back. He had questions on whether he wanted to continue.”

Now, how in the world does Martin Bashir still have a show? 

Pushback Against the WH Spin Machine



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Last week, Ron Fournier of National Journal wrote a great piece calling out the White House for holding private events that were closed to the press, but later releasing photos of the events — thus guaranteeing that only approved and the most evocative images make it into the public domain. Fournier writes:

Obama’s Image Machine: Monopolistic Propaganda Funded by You
News organizations protest White House restrictions on independent photo coverage.

New York Times photographer Doug Mills strode into Jay Carney’s office Oct. 29 with a pile of pictures taken exclusively by President Obama’s official photographer at events the White House press corps was forbidden to cover. “This one,” Mills said, sliding one picture after another off his stack and onto the press secretary’s desk. “This one, too – and this one and this one and … .”

The red-faced photographer, joined by colleagues on the White House Correspondents’ Association board, finished his 10-minute presentation with a flourish that made Carney, a former Moscow correspondent for Time, wince.

“You guys,” Mills said, “are just like Tass.”

Comparing the White House to the Russian news agency is a hyperbole, of course, but less so with each new administration. Obama’s image-makers are taking advantage of new technologies that democratized the media, subverting independent news organizations that hold the president accountable. A generation ago, a few mainstream media organizations held a monopoly on public information about the White House. Today, the White House itself is behaving monopolistic.

The fast-moving trend is hampering reporters and videographers who cover the White House, but Mills’ profession has probably been hardest hit. “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government,” reads a letter delivered today to Carney by the WHCA and several member news organizations including The Associated Press and The New York Times.

The letter includes examples of important news events that were not covered by media photographers, and yet pictures were taken by the White House image team and widely distributed via social media. This happens almost daily.

Unlike media photographers, official White House photographers are paid by taxpayers and report to the president. Their job is to make Obama look good. They are propagandists – in the purest sense of the word.

The letter reminds Carney that Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history. It argues that the restrictions “raise constitutional concerns” and amount to “arbitrary restraint and unwarranted interference on legitimate newsgathering activities.”

Newspapers, however, have started to push back. USA Today announced yesterday that it won’t publish the White House’s pre-selected images any longer.

And FWIW, here’s admin spokesman Josh Earnest answered the question in response to Fournier’s piece (Major Garret with the first question):

Q    Last question.  I’m on the White House Correspondents Association Board and it’s mine and many other news organizations that presented to you and the White House a letter today about this issue of access — photographic access, but it’s a broader question — and the White House insistence of excluding independent photojournalists from events that historically have been available to those journalists for the public consumption.  I’d like to give you a chance to respond to this letter and the combined assessment of many journalism organizations for the White House to reassess the policy as it’s currently executed.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Major, on the campaign trail in 2008, the President talked a lot about his commitment to transparency, and that is something that the President in office has worked very hard to live up to.  There are a variety of ways in which he has done that.  But one way in which he and we have done that on his behalf is that literally every single day — every single day — at the end of our day, we take a look at the President’s schedule, consider the things that are on there, and look for ways that we can give journalists who cover the White House access to the President; that we can give you and your colleagues a better understanding of what the President is doing, why he is pursuing the priorities that he has identified, and how we hope to make progress on those priorities.  That is a basic function of the presidency, is laying out that agenda and communicating with the American public about what it is and why it is a priority.  
 
So this is something that we tackle every single day.  But it is the responsibility of those of you who are sitting in those seats to push for more.  You’re supposed to be agitating for more access.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be doing your job.  So the fact that there is a little bit of a disagreement between the press corps and the White House Press Office about how much access the press corps should have to the President is built into the system.  Like I said, if that tension didn’t exist, then either you or we are not doing our job.
 
So suffice it to say that we remain fully committed to trying to give you and the American public access to the President and as much insight as possible into how the President is spending his day, to what priorities the President has identified, and what he’s actually doing to make progress on those priorities.
 
Q    That tension has long existed, you’re absolutely right. I know it.  I’ve experienced it under different administrations. What is different and what this letter goes to is events that we used to have access to before that we’re denied, and then the White House produces its own photography of that event in a way that seems completely designed to exclude independent eyeballs and only have the taxpayer-funded eyeballs of the person who works for the President of the United States.
 
MR. EARNEST:  Sure.  And I understand why, from your perspective, why it might seem that way.  But what we have actually done is used a range of new technology to provide people greater access to the President; that there are certain circumstances where it is simply not feasible to have independent journalists in the room when the President is making decisions.  So rather than close that off to the American public, what we’ve done is we’ve taken advantage of new technology to give the American public even greater access to behind-the-scenes footage or photographs of the President doing his job.  
 So I understand why that is the source of some consternation to people in this room, but to the American public that’s a clear win.  That is people having access because of new technology to things that they’ve never seen before.  And so that’s something that we have remained committed to and that’s something that we’ll continue to do.  But that has never been viewed internally here at the White House as a substitute for the important work that’s done by free and independent journalists.
 
Q    Josh?
 
MR. EARNEST:  Ed.
 
Q    In keeping with that commitment, can you –
 
MR. EARNEST:  Yes, as a former president.
 
Q    As a former president, I support Major’s questions and I think they are important questions.
 
MR. EARNEST:  They are.
 
Q    Because when you say that you’re providing more access to the American people — you’re shutting off independent journalists who want to cover those events and you’re having people who work for the President actually cover the events.  How is that independent?  How is that more access for the American people?
 
MR. EARNEST:  I think what I described, Ed, is that there are certain circumstances where it’s not feasible for independent journalists to be covering the President.  I think the best example of this would be in the Situation Room of the White House where, when the President is talking about classified issues, it’s just not feasible for us to have those discussions at –
 
Q    That’s an outlier, Josh —  
 
MR. EARNEST:  Well, it’s just not feasible for us to have independent journalists in the room.
 
Q    What about meeting with faith leaders?  How is that disruptive to bring in –
 
MR. EARNEST:  Let me finish my answer –
 
Q    Okay.
 
MR. EARNEST:  – which is, where it’s just not feasible in those circumstances.  So we have done — what we’ve done is we’ve capitalized on new technology that exists — Flickr, Instagram, digital photos that can be easily emailed — to give people pictures of what’s happening in those circumstances.  
 
That is not a replacement for independent journalism.  That is not a replacement or a substitute for giving independent journalists access to the President and the job that he’s doing.  We remain very committed to making sure that independent journalists are documenting what the President is doing.  We want the American people to have a very clear view of the President’s priorities.  We want people to understand how hard the President is working to pursue the priorities that he’s laid out that a majority of the American public supports.
 
So it’s in our interest to work closely with you to give you access so that the American public clearly understands what it is the President is doing.  I understand that you guys aren’t going to agree with every single decision that we make along these lines, but I think what we do agree on is that the principle of unfettered access to the President of the United States on a regular basis by independent, professional journalists is an important priority and a hallmark of our democracy.  That is a — that is something that we agree on and that is — that will be a principle guiding the way that we make these decisions moving forward, as it has been in the past.

And finally, here’s what looks to be e a giant middle-finger to the press corps. Team Obama listed this as their “photo of the day” after the article and questioning. See, we let you take pictures! 

With the uncertain future of HealthCare.gov, this administration is really going to go with the “hey, let’s see how angry we can get the press corps” as its media strategy? Good luck with that.

 

 

Law of Omerta at MSNBC



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Chris Matthews won’t say anything bad about Martin Bashir because he’s a colleague. Oh, and Matthews says he’s not a “media critic.” Via today’s Washington Post:

EWB: Do you have any comments about the trouble that Martin Bashir got himself in?

Matthews: Not really. I work in that company. I don’t have any comment on it. I can understand that you’d ask the question, but I work for MSNBC.

EWB: Well, it’s just a question, though. I mean, he’s a colleague, he said something. You have opinions. You’d have an opinion if someone else worked at another network…

Matthews: I’m not a media critic.

EWB: Oh, yes you are.

Matthews: No, I’m not…He’s a colleague of mine.

Yeah. Not a “media critic” except for the bajillion times he criticizes Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or anybody else in the conservative media he disagrees with.

 

 

NYT Give Chris Matthews’s Book a Scathing Review



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I’m not sure this is the type of review Chris Matthews was hoping for from the Times of his new book, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. “It’s a nice idea for a book, if only it were true”:

Ever since our national politics dissolved into a miasma of polarization and strident punditry — which means either the Clinton pseudoscandals or the John Adams administration, depending on your historical reference point — Washington pontificators have waxed wistful for gentler times. In the glow of nostalgia, even ideologues and scoundrels come to resemble civic-minded statesmen who put aside partisanship to broker compromises.

This romantic tendency usually makes for bad history. A few good books have mined the vein — including last year’s overlooked “The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis,” by Ira Shapiro, a former Senate aide — but Chris Matthews’s “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” isn’t one of them. A former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter and aide to the House speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. (one of his subjects here), Matthews is best known today as an ­MSNBC talking head — snarling head, some might say — a kind of Democratic Pat Buchanan giving voice to the resentments of the disgruntled middle class. For those familiar with his brand of confidently asserted overgeneralization, the book is about what you would expect.

The 1980 elections made Ronald Reagan the most conservative American president since before the New Deal and gave the Republicans control of the Senate for the first time since the ’50s. Protecting Social Security, the progressive tax code and other fixtures of the postwar economy fell above all to O’Neill, a corpulent, old-style, steaks-and-cigars Boston Irish pol. The conceit of “Tip and the Gipper” is that for all their ideological differences, Reagan and O’Neill liked each other enough to put politics aside at 6 o’clock — a line Matthews repeats throughout the book — and strike deals in everyone’s interest.

It’s a nice idea for a book, if only it were true.

The rest here.

 

MSNBC’s Alec Baldwin Peddling JFK Conspiracy Theories



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Via his Twitter feed:

 

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