Ann Coulter added her unique style of punditry to Geraldo At Large this weekend. When asked by guest host Kimberly Guifoyle to react on Rush Limbaugh’s controversial comments on the Obama administration’s politicization of the situation in Haiti, Coulter recoiled. “Stop asking me about Rush’s statements…I’ve made some controversial statements too!” Indeed, Coulter didn’t just seem indignant, she admitted as much.
People who have privately met Ann Coulter rave about how sweet and polite she is off-camera, a stark difference from the public persona she presents as a professional provocateur. “She just says this stuff to get attention” is a common refrain concerning Ann Coulter’s polemics, and when she claims to be “indignant” because she’s tired of talking about Limbaugh’s, its hard to argue that point.
The New York Times conducted a video interview with new White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, and he didn’t waste time in reigniting the White House vs. Fox News storyline that seemed to die down at the end of last year.
Now Fox News, and Greta Van Susteren specifically, are responding. Update: So is Glenn Beck.
Pfeiffer took over forAnita Dunn, who started the war of words with FNC and became a favorite target for Glenn Beck and others at the network. TVNewser highlights some of Pfeiffer’s key comments to the NYT yesterday.
I have the same view of Fox that Anita had, which is that Fox is not a traditional news organization. They have a point of view. That point of view pervades the entire network both the opinion shows, like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, but also through the newscasts during the day.
This is exactly how you piss Fox News off. They can handle the White House shots at their opinion shows – mainly because those shows respond directly – but the knocks at the daytime newscasts take it to another level.
“We don’t feel an obligation to treat them like we treat a CNN or an ABC or an NBC,” said Pfeiffer. Continuing: “We will correct the record, whether its an analyst on Fox, whether it’s a member of Congress, whether it’s a reporter or pundit.”
FNC responded to TVNewser: “Obviously new to his position, Dan seems to be intent upon repeating the mistakes of his predecessor…and we all remember how well that turned out.”
For those who don’t, this should give a good backstory. Ultimatley, Pres. Obama conducted an interview with FNC’s Major Garrett and the incessant attacks (which saw just as many return-fire attacks from Fox) died down quite a bit. Does this new tone and tactic open up the feud once again? Wait until Glenn Beck has his say at 5pmET tonight – he’s already name-checked Pfeiffer this year, but it is likely just an appetizer.
Van Susteren took Pfeiffer’s comments and turned them into an indictment of her show, On The Record. She challenged the White House to come on and respond in a blog post today:
If they are certain about their swipe (which includes ON THE RECORD at 10pm since they say all of Fox) – they should have the courage and strength to prove it. I am responsible for 10pm so I am eager to talk to them about our work at 10pm – an hour included in their swipe.
“I do think that one thing that is going to be tougher now with Sarah Palin playing such an active role [on Fox News] is the slogan ‘fair and balanced.’ What does that mean, when the two leading Republican candidates, according to polls, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, are both on your network regularly?”
– Conservative talk show radio host Michael Medved on this weekend’s Reliable Sources.
Apparently, the hiring of Sarah Palin by Fox News has even some prominent conservatives worried. The concern being, of course, that Palin and Huckabee are not only clearly professing particular political views (the number of cable news talking heads who are not doing this is an increasingly diminishing number regardless of the channel you tune into) but they are also the two leading GOP contenders for the 2012 Presidential race. Meaning they are being served a very large platform on which to unofficially campaign for the next two years. It is sort of the equivalent to MSNBC giving…actually I’m not sure there is an equivalent since all of the leading Dem contenders in 2005 were in elected office at the time, and we now have an incumbent president.
What is also might mean, however, is that Huckabee and/or Palin are forced to make an early decision re; a 2012 run — the FCC equal-time rules are fairly strict where pols are concerned and fundraising is no small undertaking. Still, at the rate we’re going we are still about a gazillion news cycles away from 2012 and a lot can happen in the interim (just ask Obama what a difference a year can make in popularity). Video of Medved clip below.
The special election today in Massachusetts to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat has taken on epic proportions over the last week or so. And not just because the headlines have become increasingly dirty. The election is being viewed by many as a one year referendum on the Obama administration (he was inaugurated a year ago tomorrow) but most importantly if Martha Coakley loses today it will shift the balance in the Senate and ostensibly put health care reform in jeopardy. Or kill it altogether, depending. Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, thinks a Coakley loss (of which he is certain) portends to bigger and darker things.
They [the FNC/RNC machine] have successfully channeled all the rage at the massive debt and recession the president inherited on Obama after just one year. If they can do that already, against the massive evidence against them, they have the power to wield populism to destroy any attempt by government to address any actual problems.
This is a nihilist moment, built from a nihilist strategy in order to regain power … to do nothing but wage war against enemies at home and abroad.
What comes next will be a real test for Obama. I suspect serious health insurance reform is over for yet another generation.
Even if Coakley wins – and my guess is she’ll lose by a double digit margin – the bill is dead.
Yes, I’m gloomy. Not because I was so wedded to this bill, although I think it’s a decent enough start. But because if America cannot grapple with its deep and real problems after electing a new president with two majorities, then America’s problems are too great for Americans to tackle.
Dramatic yes. But likely, too, that today’s vote may see the end of health care reform and a new tenor for Obama going forward. Painfully ironic that it’s Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat that may be that last unpassable hurdle for national health care reform. Of course, we won’t know that until sometime later tonight becausethere are no exit polls in Mass. today.
On the eve of the replacement election in Massachusetts, Republican candidate Scott Brown is reportedly up in the polls over his Democratic rival Martha Coakley. And the analysis of why he’s doing well has definitely taken a turn for the bizarre, evidenced by the following soundbite provided by Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn. When pressed on why Brown is he doing well, Quinn proclaimed “He’s a hunk!” And that was just the beginning.
Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan has covered the war in Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina. But of the Haiti devastation, he calls it “a mini-Rwanda.”
Mediaite spoke to Harrigan by phone today, hours after he delivered another heart-wrenching report.
“Usually with these stories, the first day, first two days, things are really bad, then you start to see dramatic differences,” he tells Mediaite today by phone, standing in a dirt field 200 yards from the hotel housing most of the FNC operations. “So far here, each day, we just seem to be getting darker into it.”
Harrigan reported today from an area where bodies were being disposed of in large holes, of which he described, “the way bodies, thousands of them, are treated in Haiti right now today is worse than garbage.” The emotional report is below. “It really makes you wonder how the world is going to do this, to send out a successful operation to take care of so many people,” Harrigan told us.
Harrigan has noticed some improvements in the region – cell service has been reestablished, feeding stations are opening, the Red Cross is more visible – but overall, there is still much that needs to be done. “Along with the thousands of casualties, the biggest casualty is the sense of shame in a society is gone right now,” he said. “You feel really helpless when you see the bodies. You feel ashamed and helpless.”
Last week Harrigan’s got choked up on-air while describing the sight, and smell, of death. He reflected on the moment today, but also on reporting on these types of horrific stories in general:
After a while I couldn’t go on. You don’t really have to say too much on a story like this. The pictures do the talking. On a story like this it’s wrong to stand up and talk about yourself or shout poetry. The pictures are screaming so you don’t have to. Just get to the worst spot, try to stand there as long as you can, and show and tell people what you see.
Now four days later, the woman in the video is “still there,” he said. “Right there on her mattress.”
Harrigan had an analogy for the situation in Haiti. He described a woman who spent four days and nights calling out to her son who was trapped in their collapsed house, with no way for her to reach him. Her son called back, but by the time help arrived, it was too late. “When Baby Jessica was in a well, we had one baby in the well and the nation watched,” he said. “We have Baby Jessicas everywhere here.”
Harrigan expects to leave Haiti at the end of the week, but says he could very well be back soon after if the story changes. One thing you won’t hear from him is what people should be doing to help – advocacy journalism. “I try to do what I can do, which is stand next to a pit and tell people that they’re dumping bodies here,” he said.
Sarah Palin made her debut on Mediate’s Power Grid this week, and not surprisingly, immediately claimed the number one spot among TV Pundits. Ms. Palin dominated the category, placing number one among in TV mentions, web buzz, news buzz, and blog buzz.
Palin was made eligible for the Power Grid after the announcement that she would providing commentary on Fox News, as well as hosting her own show. Nearly four million viewers tuned in as the former vice presidential candidate made her debut on The O’Reilly Factor last week. This appearance was followed by an hour-long interview with Glenn Beck.
Palin’s strong performance is due to a variety of factors, the most notable being her prevailing presence on the web. A Google search of “Sarah Palin” turns up 19,200,000 relevant hits, nearly one million more than the number two pundit in web buzz, Dr. Mehmet Oz.