Matt Robare

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Seal of the Securities and Exchange CommissionIt seems that not even the truth can possibly overturn the narrative that President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have brought transparency to Washington.

Last Wednesday I wrote about how the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill Obama signed into law last month contains a provision exempting the Securities and Exchange Commission from Freedom of Information Act requests. Such an exemption would surely have been grounds for a media outcry during the Bush administration, yet apart from The Wall Street Journal and CNN, only blogs have been following the developments. The latter opted simply to parrot the administration's claims without challenge.

Other media ouetlets, such as National Public Radio and MSNBC, completely ignored the controversy, in stark contrast to their extensive coverage of the Bush administration's attempts to curtail the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. NPR's Don Gonyea said "When conflicts arise over what should or should not be open, the administration does not hesitate to invoke the memory of 9/11. And while it's true that 9/11 changed the security landscape, it's also true that the administration was tightening the control of information much earlier . . ."

Some very persuasive evidence of a double standard at work in The Washington Post came to light today. Today's Post featured a front page headline about the Securities and Exchange Commission charging billionaire brothers Sam and Charlers Wyly with fraud.

The double standard came in when it became clear that the news a couple weeks ago about the conviction of Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee had gotten almost no notice. The Post printed an Associated Press item on the third page. Nemazee had defrauded almost $300 million and was a major contributor and fundraiser to John Kerry's presidential campaign and Hilary Clinton's campaign to be 2008's Democratic nominee.

The Wylys have donated to Republicans and the Republican Party in the past, a fact The Post made very prominent both in its headline: "SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to Gop with fraud" and put in a quick reminder right in the story's first paragraph:

Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.

Julian AssangeIf Anne Applebaum is to be believed, the existence of primary sources is in and of itself the reason the dead-trees should be kept around. She writes for Slate:
I didn't think it was possible, but Julian Assange has now done it: By releasing 92,000 documents full of Afghanistan intelligence onto the laptops of an unsuspecting public, the founder of Wikileaks has finally made an ironclad case for the mainstream media. If you were under the impression that we don't need news organizations, editors, or reporters with more than 10 minutes' experience anymore, then think again. The notion that the Internet can replace traditional news-gathering has just been revealed to be a myth.

Ironically, that passage shows one of the key problems with the mainstream media: they don't know anything. The Afghanistan documents collected by Wikileaks are not "intelligence," but field reports from regular combat units and special forces. Also, the notion that Wikileaks is some kind of news organization when it is really an online repository of documents-i.e. sources instead of reportage-shows the kind of unfamiliarity with basic facts that people like Applebaum, in the mainstream media, wrongly attribute to Wikipedia and ignore in themselves.

FOIA logoFox Business is reporting that the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that President Obama signed recently includes a provision that exempts the Securities and Exchange Commission from responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Fox wrote:
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

Several years ago, the media was confronted by several similar issues involving attempts by the Bush Administration to narrow the provisions of FOIA and exempt certain agencies from having to respond to requests filed under that act. The question that remains in these next few days as the media reports on this story is weather their response will be as condemnatory as it was when George W. Bush was in office.

Oliver Stone, flanked by Hitler and Stalin, from The UK IndependentOn Sunday, Alana Goodman reported on an anti-semitic interview given by director Oliver Stone in the Sunday edition of The Times of London. Stone said that Jews dominate the media, "stay on top of every comment" and have "the most powerful lobby in Washington."

Earlier today, The Daily Mail reported that Stone had apologized for his remarks.

He said: "In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret."

Stone told The Sunday Times "Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support."

Time magazine's Michael Scherer, who has been revealed by the Daily Caller as expressing a deep dislike of Fox News, has the power to really annoy them.

"Ailes understands," Scherer said in an email on the much-maligned JournoList, "that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can't hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong . . ." Though Scherer clearly has a bone to pick with the channel, he and Time have vehemently denied claims that he would silence Fox News.

Ironically, according to Politics Daily's Matt Lewis, Scherer "may actually be in a position to hurt Fox" by denying the cable network the front-row seat in the White House briefing room left vacant by Helen Thomas. Scherer sits on the Board of Directors of the White House Correspondents' Association, which controls access to White House press conferences.

New Black Panther Party logoThe ongoing controversy surrounding the actions of two members of the New Black Panther Party at a Philadelphia polling place during the last presidential election has become increasingly less about facts and more about opinions. The mainstream media ignored the story for so long, basically giving Fox News exclusive rights to deliver the story to a mass audience and now they’re incensed over Fox’s coverage.

On Sunday Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote “Indeed, until Thursday’s story, The Post had written no news stories about the controversy this year. In 2009, there were passing references to it in only three stories” and “For months, readers have contacted the ombudsman wondering why The Post hasn't been covering the case.” Alexander’s column prompted a response by Joel Meares in the Columbia Journalism Review. His point was that Fox News’ coverage cannot be trusted because of the channel’s alleged conservatism and, in a nice example of ideological bigotry, that the story is not worth being covered because conservatives are interested in seeing it covered.

He wrote “The story has been mostly told online and on TV by those whose political shadings have dictated the angle, and the content” and questions The Post’s motivation in publishing something its readers apparently want to read:

Sarah PalinGeorge W. Bush’s linguistic difficulties, such as “Is our children learning,” “If the terriers and barrifs are torn down, this economy will grow” and “They misunderestimated me” made him the butt of many a joke back in the day, especially since they used to be played on cable news channels. Yet the current occupant of the White House—not to mention his vice president—does not seem to have found the media’s funnybone. Even Barack Obama’s teleprompter problems never got that kind of coverage, neither did that fact that his speeches are written at two grade levels below Bush.

Then there was the time in Februrary, when Obama mispronuncicated “corpsman” as “corpse-man” and the media ignored it, or when he said he had been to 57 states and they excused it, the media has jumped all over Sarah Palin’s invention of the word “refudiate.”

The word was coined on Fox News July 14, in response to the proposed Cordoba Center in New York City, a $100 million community center and Mosque three blocks from the World Trade Center site, but developed into a full-blown meme Sunday when she posted to Twitter:

A Southerner (liberal view)Liberals always have a tendancy to assume that anything that happens in the South is either due to discrimination or out of the movie Deliverance. National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," a talk show focussing mainly on the arts with occasional ventures into politics, was dropped suddenly by Mississippi Public Broadcasting around Christmas of last year due to budget cuts, but had returned until last week. MPB cited "recurring inappropriate content" as the reason for the second drop.

Bloggers such as Gawker's Hamilton Nolan and The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins were quick to make unfounded speculations that the "inappropriate content" consisted of three interviews about movies with gay characters broadcast 9 July.

However, Gawker's Adrian Chen reported yesterday that the "inapprorpriate content" was actually an interview in the July 7 show with comedian Louis CK, where he talked about how he likes to have sex with his shirt on, a development for The Huffington Post and Gawker that was straight out of left field.

Daily Caller A1 7/14/10Tucker Carlson is now the proud owner of a slightly used Keith Olbermann.

With a large-print headline announcing "We own you" and a picture of ol' Keith looking bemused whilst he adjusts he glasses, The Daily Caller promoted their newest acquisition:

It's just the latest shot across the bow in the escalating feud between Olbermann and Carlson, which will one day be featured on a list of the top eight inconsequential personal feuds the media chose to cover instead of events that were actually newsworthy.

Mohammed al-HanootiAs most of the country was getting ready for the long July 4 weekend, Pajamas Media blogger and anti-terrorism consultant Patrick Poole wrote a post entitled "Blue Suede Jihad: Major Hamas Fundraiser in the Land of Elvis."

According to Poole, the Masjid Al-Noor mosque in Memphis posted an event entitled "A Weekend with Mohammed al-Hanooti" for the non-weekend dates of July 13 through 15 on its website. He has a screenshot of the mosque's event page and says that it is genuine, however, local Memphis newspaper The Commercial Appeal's Michael Lollar disputed Poole's findings in an article entitled "Hamas fundraiser not speaking at mosque."

Lollar only addressed the side of the mosque's administrators. According to Poole, Lollar made no attempt to contact him and Lollar's language in the article was dismissive of Poole's post, to the point of making it seem as though independently verifiable facts used by Poole were merely allegations and suppositions.

Advocacy groups have increasingly labelled their opposition as "astroturf," or corporate-funded fake grassroots, groups in order to demean them and lessen the fact that both sides enjoy some measure of public support. Many of the organizations throwing around accusations of astroturfing, such as the Marxist net neutrality advocacy group Free Press and the liberal ThinkProgress not only engage in astroturf strategies, but are financially supported in ways they decry as astroturf. The media, unsurprisngly, has often chosen to ignore leftist astroturfing and focus on accusations of rightist astroturfing.

The Daily Caller reported Wednesday on a pro-neutrality letter circulated around Capitol Hill by Free Press which was a product of the same astroturfing tactics Free Press has decried.

The "signatories" of the letter had no recollection of the letter and had no idea they had signed it. One of the signatories, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation wrote to the Federal Communications Comission, The Hill reported, asking to be removed from the list of signatories. Tellingly, a Free Press spokeswoman suggested that they were pressured to do so. Presumably by the Satan-worshipping board of directors of some telecommunications company.

TV LogosThe big three nightly news broadcasts, NBC Nightly, CBS Evening and ABC World, lost a combined one million viewers in the second quarter of 2010, according to TVNewser.

These numbers are comparable to the first quarter, which saw Evening News and World News get their lowest average viewers ever, while NBC's Winter Olympics coverage helped it get their highest average viewers since 2005. In the second quarter, NBC lost 440,000 viewers, ABC 260,000 and CBS 340,000. It was about this time last year that ABC and CBS' news programs had their lowest ratings ever.

These numbers are not at all surprising in light of the public's continued distrust of the old media. As Newsbusters' Rich Noyes wrote of a Rasmussen poll released earlier this month, "Perhaps as a result, the poll finds an astonishing two-thirds of the public (66 percent) say they are angry with the media, ‘including 33 percent who are very angry' with the press."

John DoughertyInvestigative journalist John Dougherty of Arizona deserves a hand from everyone concerned with liberal media bias, because he has given it up. Dougherty, pictured right in a photo from his website, has, shall we say, crossed the border from being biassed to seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senate.

In the late 80's he was involved with uncovering Charles Keating's use of campaign contributions to five senators-including John McCain, whom Dougherty would most likely face in an election-in exchange for putting pressure on banking regulators. He also investigated Governor Fife Symington, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and Sherrif Joe Arpaio.

Whatever else he has done in the past, Dougherty has already succesfully morphed into a politician, writing a blog for the Huffington Post on illegal immigration and its relationship to crime that directly contradicts the conclusions he reached in an article he wrote for the High County News.

Robert Redford interviewRobert Redford, one of the most popular and succesful actors of our age, has joined with other entertainers, including Sir Paul McCartney and Rosie O'Donnell in encouraging the Obama administration to actively politicize the Gulf crisis and use it to push through on energy policy.

In an interview with ExtraTV, Redford said that Obama should "Grab this moment in history and get a decent energy policy." He also said "Here's a moment in our history where he [Obama] should grab leadership and run with it."

He said that "We blew it in the late seventies," referring to laws like the National Energy Act, National Energy Conservation Policy Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act made in the wake of the OPEC embargo and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.

An Associated Press writer has perpetuated a long-standing allegation of bias with two stories about corruption in New York State she wrote last Monday.

In one story, "NY AG: ‘Everyone does it' not a fraud defense'", Colleen Long wrote about the New York Attorney General's office rejecting arguments for dismissing corruption charges against Hank Morris, a former aid to State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who avoided an indictment in 2007. Nowhere in the article is it mentioned that Morris is a Democrat. Meanwhile, in the other story Long wrote that day, it's all in the title: "Republican operative in NY accused of stealing $1M" about political consultant John Haggerty being indicted for defrauding New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

While Haggerty's political affiliations were mentioned both in the headline and the lede -- even though he was working for the Independence Party of New York at the time -- neither Morris' nor Hevesi's affiliation with the Democrats is mentioned at all.