Howard Fineman Tells Chris Matthews President Obama Called Some Republicans ‘Ignorant’

On Monday night’s Hardball, Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman revealed to host Chris Matthews that President Obama had told him that he thought some “Republicans and conservatives who oppose him” were “ignorant.”

While it seems unkind, Matthews’ original question was whether the President thinks his opponents are “evil,” so the level of insult is somewhat relative.

“From having interviewed him a lot on this topic, and listened to him talk about the Republicans and conservatives who oppose him,” Fineman says, “he doesn’t think they’re evil, he thinks they’re, some of them are ignorant. That they don’t know enough, that they haven’t sufficiently been had the world explained to by somebody like him.”

Matthews then interjects, “That’s my church’s view on other religions.”

It sounds silly, but Matthews makes a good point. Most people who strongly believe something are probably equally convinced that those who disagree simply haven’t had things explained to them properly. He and guest Melinda Henneberger go on to call the President’s view condescending, but it’s worth noting that these are not direct quotes from Fineman, but rather, his own paraphrase.

Here’s the clip, from MSNBC:


Jared Loughner Not Tied To Anti-Semetic “American Renaissance” Group, Either

In the aftermath of Saturday’s tragedy, the most wanted commodity in the political world seems to be a shred of recognizable political identity to attach to shooter Jared Loughner, and so far no major ideology– neither left nor right– has sufficed. The latest group to be dismissed as an influence in Loughner’s heinous acts is the previously accused group “American Renaissance,” described by the Department of Homeland Security as an “anti-semetic” group.

Fox News had linked the group to Loughner citing “a law enforcement memo based on information provided by the DHS,” which apparently expressed suspicion that the group was somehow involved. The group’s leader, Jared Taylor, called the accusation “complete nonsense,” as well as the classification of the group as “anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government) and anti-semetic.” Earlier today, Fox News’ James Rosen confirmed that, no, Loughner isn’t tied to this radical yet somewhat familiar type of ideology, either.

In a segment on the “political fingerpointing” in light of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Saturday, Megyn Kelly and Rosen reported on the various responses from both liberals and conservatives, particularly fixating on the attacks on partisan rhetoric by the New York Times’s Paul Krugman, which mostly referenced right-wing talkers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, despite, as Rosen explains, Loughner’s political beliefs being a complete mystery, other than his interest in “the gold standard and grammar.” Add the American Renaissance movement to the list of political factions that didn’t influence Loughner, either, and it’s back to the drawing board for those trying to understand what motivated this heinous crime.

The report via Fox News below:

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes: “I’ve Told All Our Guys, Shut Up, Tone It Down”

Fox News CEO Roger Ailes says he put the word out at Fox to “tone it down” and make arguments “intellectually” with less heated rhetoric. “You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that.”

But Ailes draws the line at any suggestion the passion of Fox News hosts had anything to do with the shooting spree in Arizona that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded: “That is just bullsh–,” he told Russell Simmons in an interview posted to the music mogul’s website Global Grind. “Both sides are wrong,” said Ailes:

They knew about this guy (Jared Lee Loughner). The education system knew about this guy…they kicked him out of school and told him until he gets a letter saying he’s not going to kill anybody, he can’t come back to school. The police department picked him up five times and let him go and nobody screened him for getting a weapon…So, by the time he decided to go to a mall and and wanting to kill somebody, he was attached to nobody. He was a flag burner. He just was not attached to the Tea Party.
It’s just a bullsh– way to use the death of a little girl to get Fox News in an argument.

In Rush To Get It First, NPR, CNN Get It Wrong On Giffords Story

It’s been almost thirty years since the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and a resulting moment of frustration on live television, when ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds, who’d been told wounded White House press secretary James Brady had died–only to be told moments later the report was false (Brady survived)–said the words that ring in many journalists’ minds to this day: “let’s nail it down, let’s get it right.”

The dual drives of getting the story first, while also getting it right require intense focus on the details–and a resistance to rushing to air something that hasn’t been thoroughly verified. Failing that, mistakes end up on air, and the aftermath is painful and embarrassing.

NPR News was forced to apologize for the most noteworthy–and repeated–mistake of the weekend: the mistaken report Saturday that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died. NPR executive editor Dick Meyer explained in an apologetic statement that the error was admittedly “serious and grave,” and resulted from “a situation so chaotic and changing so swiftly, we should have been more cautious.”

It was, Meyer said, an “error of judgment in a fast-breaking situation.” It was also, to NPR’s credit, immediately retracted, though that is little comfort to Giffords’ family and friends who heard the report, or the other news organizations who repeated the mistake, citing NPR.

CNN was one of those networks that repeated NPR’s report. It also made an error of its own, twice airing a photo of a young man who the network mistakenly identified as the shooting suspect, Jared Lee Loughner. Again, like NPR, the network corrected its mistake, apologized, and admitted to moving too fast and failing to double check its content before rushing it to air.

CNN senior editorial director Richard Griffiths, who has a reputation at the network for fairness and accuracy, was forced to admit he didn’t follow his own rules: “as a news organization, we have to check and recheck and check again.”

Megyn Kelly And A Classmate Of Arizona Gunman Discuss Potential Warning Signs

Turning the channel and seeing Fox News’ Megyn Kelly interviewing an edgy-looking, young guy with bright, pink hair, one might expect something so surreal it’s funny or, quite possibly, a hostile interaction. That wasn’t the case, however, when Kelly brought on Steven Cates, a classmate with Jared Loughner at Pima Community College before the eventual gunman was suspended “Code of Conduct violations.” The interview, instead, was a thoughtful conversation on the nature of being an outcast and the difference between someone who might be a little weird and someone who is genuinely disturbed and in need of help.

Cates explained how, at school, he had felt empathy towards the “loner” Loughner as he, himself, is an admitted outcast. After seeing how Loughner was incapable of “connecting socially” (the young man apparently had problems with smiling and laughing inappropriately and wrote a poem for class that had sexual content which disturbed other students), Cates attempted to engage him. He explains that he would talk to him more and high five him upon seeing him, but that a friendship never grew from there. When Kelly asked Cates what could have maybe prevented this tragedy, he guessed that Loughner’s growing isolation after leaving school could have been one of the biggest causes:

“I personally think it was a downward spiral after he had been removed from Pima because it seemed like, when he had Pima, he had the academic side of life to be able to focus on and he had the community of education. And it seemed like, once he had the spiral into the Internet communities, it’s where the spiral into the social isolation led to the tragedy.”

It was a fascinating interview and one that further put to rest the political connections theory of motivation for the killer as Cates explained that Loughner had little interest in debating politics, instead focusing on philosophy and logic.

Watch the segment from Fox News below:

The Morning Lowdown 01.10.11

Morning Lowdown

Some of the stories people are talking about this morning:

»  Personal finance mag SmartMoney has unveiled its first major redesign, nearly a year after Dow Jones (NSDQ: NWS) acquired the remaining 50 percent stake in the title from Hearst. The underlying idea of the redesign is the acceptance that as a monthly mag, it can’t compete with the web and therefore must try to make the slowness of print work. [AP]

»  A number of news organizations, including NPR, Reuters (NYSE: TRI), BBC and BreakingNews erroneously reported—and tweeted—that Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords had died after she was shot on Saturday. Though their pieces were later corrected, some deleted the incorrect tweets, leaving the news outlets uncertain about whether it’s okay to delete tweets when new information comes to light, which in effect, hiding their mistakes. On the other hand, it might leave false reports alive on Twitter, causing more confusion about the current facts. [Lost Remote]

»  In the next few weeks, Comcast’s Xfinity TV app will be available to the iPad and other tablets, allowing cable subscribers to view 3,000 hours of VOD programming outside of their TV sets. Some content owners feel a little vexed and have brought in the lawyers to issue warnings. [Mediaweek]

»  Fiction writers are finding themselves forced to comply with the multimedia demands and capabilities of e-books. For many, producing simple text is no longer an option. [The Independent]

»  As our Joe Mullin noted this past week, people love stealing TV shows, even when it’s already offered online for free streaming. Analyst Rich Greenfield points out (sub. req.) that with the rise of internet-enabled TV sets, piracy is going to get a lot easier. [MediaMemo]

»  Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) Publisher Katherine Weymouth has sent a congratulatory message to the staff about the paper’s return to profitability this past year. [Romenesko]


MSNBC Denies Report That Keith Olbermann Will End ‘Worst Person’ Segment

The tragic shooting in a Tuscon area Safeway that killed 6 individuals and put Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition has caused significant ripples in the political media. Amid fingerpointing about “violent rhetoric,” Countdown host Keith Olbermann led the charge with a “Special Comment” calling for an end to such discourse. According to one report, it appears that Olbermann is putting his money where his mouth is, and permanently ending his “Worst Person in the World” segment, but MSNBC tells Mediaite that no decision has been made.

From AllYourTV’s Rick Ellis:

Sources with knowledge of the decision have told AllYourTV that MSNBC host and commentator Keith Olbermann is expected to announce on Monday’s show he is permanently dropping the “Worst Persons In The World” segment from “Countdown,” effective immediately.

A spokesman for MSNBC told us that the “report isn’t correct….no decision has been made,” and referred us to Olbermann’s Twitter feed from last night:

W/that & news we’ll have an announcement about “Worst Persons” on Monday’s show, I thank you all for your support this terrible weekend

While MSNBC’s denial states that it’s not a done deal, it leaves open the possibility that the segment will be eliminated. Given the events of this past weekend, and Olbermann’s own pledge on Saturday to tone things down, this would not be a surprising move. In any case, it certainly appears to be under serious consideration.

This isn’t the first time that the firebreathing host has re-thought the signature segment. Following criticism from The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, Olbermann shelved the segment for a few weeks, and when he returned it, added a parenthetical subtitle: Worst Person in the World (not really).

Cynics might see this as a ploy to shame right-wing commentators, while laying quick claim to the moral high ground, but I don’t think that’s the case. Given the gravity of recent events, he’s due the presumption that this is the result of serious self-reflection. That is not to say that he won’t also urge others to follow his lead in cooling their jets, but that’s a secondary consideration.

While there’s no indication that the killer was motivated by anything other than his own lunacy, it’s only natural that the intersection of violence with politics would make use think about re-drawing the lines around political discourse. That re-drawing, though, should be done finely. For example, it illustrates the fact that using the image of a bullseye on an electoral map is in unnecessarily poor taste, when a flag or a pushpin would be just fine.

The real opportunity here, though, is to assess the degree to which we enforce existing boundaries. To use the much-discussed map issue again, there were many who agreed at the time that the Sarah Palin “crosshair map” crossed the line, including Rep. Giffords. Such criticisms, though, were marginalized as politically motivated, or deflected with flippant analogies. It is here that our current system of discourse failed, not in drawing the lines, but in enforcing them.

The flip side to that is the degree to which people have rushed to assign blame for this tragedy on Palin, when no such causal link exists.

Ironically, it was with Olbermann’s “Worst Persons” segment that I illustrated the need not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, when I wrote of his Special Comment:

So, while we should continue to police irresponsible statements like Sharron Angle’s “2nd Amendment remedies,” or Keith Olbermann’s own Hillary Clinton beatdown scenario, orGlenn Beck’s Pelosi-poisoning fantasies, there is a place for violent imagery in politics. In fact, it’s on Keith Olbermann’s show. Every night, Olbermann introduces the best segment of the show by saying “Get out your pitchforks and torches…”

The line is a reference to the frightened, angry villagers in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and is clearly meant to be ironic, just as Palin’s map was clearly meant metaphorically. That some metaphors are in poorer taste than others is a fact that should be governed by their merits, not the ability of lunatics to discern them.

I stand by the sentiment, and the one I expressed the first time Olbermann suspended the segment. It’s true, Olbermann sometimes crosses the line during that segment, but he also crosses it without it. The segment isn’t the problem, nor are the currently-drawn lines of decency. It is the unwillingness of people to remain within them, or to call someone out for crossing them just because they’re on your “side.”

The crowning irony is that segments like “Worst Persons in the World,” or even Bill O’Reilly’s “Pinheads and Patriots,” are the very vehicles by which those lines are enforced. Eliminating them isn’t the answer, doing them better is.

Update: Keith Olbermann has issued a similar denial via his Twitter feed:

Also a site called Allyourtv has posted a story saying we are dropping Worsts. A fabrication. Haven’t even had the 1st show meeting today