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Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2009

THE SHOCKING MARSH-MOUSE TRUTH.... The New York Times had an item yesterday, describing the Republican Party's vision of a "loyal opposition." It noted Newt Gingrich, emphasizing the partisan benefits of rejecting the majority party's agenda.

"Mr. Gingrich sees the stimulus bill as his party's ticket to a revival in 2010," the NYT's Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote, "as Republicans decry what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh-mouse preservation."

The Times neglected to mention, of course, that there was no pork-barrel spending for marsh-mouse preservation. It's a Republican talking point that isn't true. Stolberg simply passed this along as if it were fact. It's not.

This comes up quite a bit. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" has been repeating the marsh-mouse claim quite a bit lately, and to its credit, the show invited PolitiFact.com's Bill Adair on to the show this morning to scrutinize the story. Asked if MSNBC was "unfair" to go after this story, Adair said, "You were.... This one gets a 'false' on the Truth-o-Meter.... The reality is, the money is just not in the bill to do this the way that they said."

Joe Scarborough said he'd talked to a Republican House member about this, who defended the claim. Adair said the GOP lawmaker "lied to you."

But what I found most interesting about this wasn't just the fact-checking, which was welcome, but the response from the "Morning Joe" crew, which was flabbergasted when confronted with reality. Take a listen around the 45-second mark, and note the amazement and incredulity when Adair started to explain why this bogus talking point isn't grounded in reality.

It apparently never occurred to the on-air crew that the talking point they'd repeated ad nauseum might not be truthful, so they were stunned by the facts. Perhaps they should have had Adair on sooner.

Update: Greg Sargent thinks it's even worse: "I actually think it’s more cringe-worthy than this. The Morning Joe dudes were noting ironically that they were surprised that the mouse money talking point was not true. It just wasn’t a big deal to them at all that this had happened."

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

So, when will you guys quit acting surprised when guys like Morning Joe lie?

Keep watching and I'm sure they'll do it again when they think it benefits them.

Posted by: Roger on February 23, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a thought ... someone from the TV show could have read the bill or done a search for key words (in spite of Rush Limbaugh's rant that you can't 'search' a PDF - you can) and they would actually have known that it was false before they starting talking about it. What a concept .....

Posted by: lisaintexas on February 23, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Did I hear, just as the clip was ending, Joe say "I feel like Jim Carrey...Dumb and dumber."?
There's a moment of inadvertent self-realization!

Posted by: seriously on February 23, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Now maybe they can work on the 200 million for condoms and the hight speed rail from Disneyland to Vegas. Instead, I'm sure Morning Joe will bring on some hack to give equal time to dispute "the guy who was on yesterday."

Posted by: Danp on February 23, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

well, i don't know why anyone would celebrate this clip.

bill adair does not deserve cheers here. he's another example of correction so weak as to be effectively non-existent.

when you accuse someone of lying, as adair did, you look pretty stupid when you agree that they *might* be telling the truth.

adair did not in fact clearly debunk it. adair's only "correction" was that there is not a specific $30m mouse earmark but left the incorrect impression that $30m COULD possibly be spent on the mouse.

jesus christ on a cracker.

with explicators like this, it's not surprising the truth is hard to find.

Posted by: karen marie on February 23, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Around 1:20, Joe says about his conversation with the Republican Congressman, "We repeated what you said".

Without checking into it. Shocking. But at least he admits it.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on February 23, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps they should have had Adair on sooner.

Perhaps they should have him on every day...

Posted by: Doozer on February 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

No one could have foreseen that the GOP would send them fictitious talking points dressed up as fact.

Oh, wait. Anyone could have foreseen that.

No one could have foreseen that habitual GOP shills on cable talk shows would swallow the fictitious GOP 'facts,' hook, line, and sinker.

Nah, anyone could have foreseen that, too.

Still, maybe this will be the beginning of a wake-up call for the Morning Joe crew. Maybe the first inkling of a clue that the GOP is playing them for fools could be crossing their small brains. You never know.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 23, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

...although I like how the producer starts the lead-out music just as Adair's explanation starts and the hosts look even dumber. Nice touch.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on February 23, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a tip for Morning Joe: whenever the Republicans supply you with a talking point (especially one they're flogging like this one) ASSUME it's a lie. 90% of the time you won't be wrong.

Posted by: dalloway on February 23, 2009 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

joe scarborough is a lying asshole. he has no ethics or morality. his purpose -- and those of his asshole fratpac morning crew and the battered meeka -- is to propel the gop lies and to confuse the public with g.e.'s corporate propaganda.

gotta keep that nantucket sugar daddy happy.

Posted by: linda on February 23, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the media just seems to not care about practicing what used to be called journalism – though I realize that Morning Joe is best not described as a journalistic endeavor.

Yesterday on MTP, David Gregory pressed Bobby Jindal on the advisability of not using stimulus money. It came down to a he said/she said with Sen. Landrieu about the language of the law. Since Jindal was the guest, he got the last word. I was left wondering why Gregory was not able to say, “ Well, we read the legislation and it says ……..”

I would expect that from what was the jewel of the NBC News franchise. But, alas, I expect too much.

Posted by: Keith G on February 23, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah I'm sure they were really stunned. They lie and mislead their audience on a daily basis--and I still hear guests on various shows claim that only WWII ended the depression.
What's the difference b/w this and Russian or Chinese state-controlled media? None really, just giant corporations controlling the media in our case, but the mission is the same--deliberately misinform the public.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 23, 2009 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "It apparently never occurred to the on-air crew that the talking point they'd repeated ad nauseum might not be truthful, so they were stunned by the facts."

Their job is to recite scripted corporate propaganda, not to concern themselves about facts.

It's very simple, really:

A handful of giant corporations owns and controls virtually all of the mass media from which most Americans get most of their information -- including the so-called "mainstream" mass media as well as the openly partisan Republican right-wing extremist media.

The corporate-owned media is the propaganda arm of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. As such it serves their interests by propagandizing the American people in furtherance of their agenda. It does not impartially educate and inform the American people -- i.e. engage in "journalism" -- in the public interest.

The Republican Party is the political arm of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. As such it serves their interests by advancing policies of government of, by and for the corporate aristocracy -- policies that enrich and empower the rich and powerful at the expense of, and to the detriment of, everyone else.

The corporate-owned so-called "mainstream" mass media, and the corporate-owned "right wing" media, work in close collaboration with the corporate-owned Republican Party to advance the ruthless, relentless, rapacious class warfare of America's Ultra-Rich Ruling Class, Inc. against the rest of us.

Why does the corporate media amplify the Republican Party's lies? Because they are both reading from the same script.

That's why the highly-paid "on-air personalities" of the corporate media sit there and repeat ad nauseum a whole litany of fake, phony, trumped-up, scripted, focus-group-tested, corporate-sponsored, Republican-authored, blatantly false "talking points" night after day after night after day.

It does little good to whine about journalistic standards or ethics. These people are not "journalists". They only play journalists on TV. Nor are they "reporting" on the work of actual "journalists". They are vapid, vacuous talking heads, reciting scripts written by propagandists.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 23, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK
It apparently never occurred to the on-air crew that the talking point they'd repeated ad nauseum might not be truthful . . .

Steve,

It's "ad nauseam".

Thanks for your kind attention.

Posted by: noncarborundum on February 23, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

They weren't "stunned by the facts." They treated all as a big yuk -- that they'd repeated a Republican lie, misled their audience, etc. These people are beyond belief.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 23, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Kind of off topic , but I was at the Gym the other morning and there on the TEE VEE was Donnie Swaggart TEE VEE preacher telling everyone how he had changed his affiliation to independent because the evangelicals had been played by the Republicans with them promising the world and then forgetting them after the election. Donnie said he was divorcing his affilliation with the Republican Party. He then went on to say haw everyone should pray for Obama to succeed. I stood there watching the closed caption wondering if I had slipped through a worm hole to an alternate universe where people were actually waking up to the realities of life instead of blindly following an Ideological meme.
Truly amazing!

Posted by: John R on February 23, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

A few more visits to TruthVille for Joe and Company, and we might finally get to see Scar lead his evil band of quislings over the abyss---leaving a daytime opening for a reality-based program.

Anybody out there wanna be the daytime version of Olbermann/Maddow?

Posted by: Steve W. on February 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Rush Limpballs claimed you can't search a PDF?

WTF?

You can search a PDF... so long as it is not a 'flat' file where the words are actual characters, not just bitmapped images.

Posted by: rnato on February 23, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK
Rush Limpballs claimed you can't search a PDF?

To be fair, there are many PDF's that are just images of pages (you can download them from Google Books, for example), and can't in fact be searched. Maybe Rush has only seen this kind. That's no excuse for shooting his mouth off without checking the facts, however, although we should be used to this behavior from him by now.

Posted by: noncarborundum on February 23, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

" It apparently never occurred to the on-air crew that the talking point they'd repeated ad nauseum might not be truthful, so they were stunned by the facts."

English Translation: Joe has got to stop watching Faux News in his spare time, and maybe start watching his OWN station a little more after yhe stock market closes.

Joe, Joe, Joe, no matter how many times people tell you Faux is closer to cartoons than news, you still keep watching it. You might need to lower the dosage on your STUPID MEDICINE!

Posted by: barkleyg on February 23, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

noncarborundum wrote: "... That's no excuse for shooting his mouth off without checking the facts ..."

Rush Limbaugh does not inadvertently misstate facts due to ignorance or negligence. Nor does he carelessly "shoot his mouth off".

Rush Limbaugh is a deliberate, malicious liar.

His statements are not careless -- on the contrary, they are carefully crafted to deceive, and to incite hatred.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 23, 2009 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. Why am I always defending Joe Scarborough? I don't even watch his show.

The shock expressed by the hosts of the show is obviously facetious. They realized they were being misled, and seem about as surprised by the revelation as they would be if you told them the earth was round. They do book their own guests and have a reasonable idea of what they're likely to say, before cameras are live.

At the end, again, they're obviously mocking the idea that there was specific money laid out to save a field mouse. Joe clarifies that the money is for wetland preservation, then makes reference to the following joke:

Jim carrey: what are the chances we could work out? Like one in a hundred?
Hot girl: More like one in a million
Jim carrey: So you're saying there's a chance?

Alluding to the fact that claiming there's money to benefit a field mouse is preposterous.

You guys need some decaf in your partisan coffee. This is actually a pretty decent fact check. Not quite on their knees begging earnestly for forgiveness, but not bad.

Posted by: mark r on February 23, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Would also be nice if someone could get the critter's name straight. It's a federal- and state-listed endangered species, the salt marsh harvest mouse, Reithrodontomys raviventris.

Posted by: Butch on February 23, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Tell ya what it sounded like to me. It sounded as though Scarborough & Co. had found out they had been lied to and were very annoyed about it, and were inviting Adair to debunk it so the lying Republican congresscritter would get his comeuppance, but they wouldn't be the awkward position of having to do it themselves. That's why their expressions of amazement are so over-the-top: not only were they fake, they wanted the audience to realize they were fake.

Sounded to me as though Adair knew exactly what they were doing and was happy to play along.

Posted by: Swift Loris on February 23, 2009 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

who watches this shit and why are you asking me to.

shorter post, corporate media lies and then plays romper room when talking about the facts. does joe scarborough employ a laugh track in addition to his other sound effects.

Posted by: grinning cat on February 23, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Still, maybe this will be the beginning of a wake-up call for the Morning Joe crew. Maybe the first inkling of a clue that the GOP is playing them for fools could be crossing their small brains. You never know."

You think these on air guys are just creating a program by the seat of their pants? Who do you think hired Scarborough and anti semite Pat Buchanan? i'm amused with Steve's contintued righteous indignation at the mirage flickering out from his television screen. Right wing corporate propoganda spewing from my television set? How could it be?!?!?!

Posted by: grinning cat on February 23, 2009 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

You guys know that the real reason the stimulus got no GOP votes in the house was that Obama made them take out the Kitten Drowning amendment, right? Republicans think there are too many kittens in America, and want to spend $400 million to drown all the female ones. It was in the bill. Really. A Republican House member told me so. You should, you know, get the word out about that.

Posted by: Cazart on February 23, 2009 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Standard Republican response to truth-checking:

(Stentorian tone): "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Posted by: TCinLA on February 23, 2009 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, there are many PDF's that are just images of pages (you can download them from Google Books, for example), and can't in fact be searched. Maybe Rush has only seen this kind. That's no excuse for shooting his mouth off without checking the facts, however, although we should be used to this behavior from him by now.

You can, however, read those PDFs. You know, like they used to do back in the Long Long Ago.

Posted by: Stefan on February 23, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

And it wouldn't have been "blown out of proportion" without the willing complicity of the Main Stream Media.

Posted by: Gerald Weinand on February 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Republican Party's vision of a "loyal opposition."


If they think they're the Taliban they're not loyal.

Posted by: alan on February 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Not only do many people live in fear, that is, a belief that the right thing will not happen, some people actually don't want the right thing to happen so that their fears are justified.

Given that the media makes more 'sales' from fear it should not be surprising that at least some media types want the bad stuff (GOP lies) to be true.

Posted by: nerd on February 23, 2009 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

The most honest thing Scarborough could do is sit there on his set with a big DEPENDS over his head, a slit where his mouth is that has the word ASSHOLE inked next to it with an arrow pointing to the slit, and then shit, whoops talk, thru it all during the show. That way all would know what he is really about, and the corporate agenda manifesting as the shit coming thru the slit.

Posted by: stormskies on February 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who is still suprised by anything the traditional media does must be living in a bunker.

It's funny that when discussing the decline in newspaper readership and TV news viewership nobody mentions the fact that one of the reasons for this is that most newspapers and TV news shows are pretty crappy.

Posted by: mfw13 on February 23, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

From the Unabridged Dictionary of Republican-Speak:

Common Wisdom - The continuous repetition of republican lies until the corporate media accepts them as the truth.

i.e. Usually following the cycle of 1) a rethug speaks 2) the Washington Times or N.Y. Post prints 3) Drudge links 4) Corporate Media discusses as fact

Posted by: SadOldVet on February 23, 2009 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm w/Mark R @ 11:19 to a point. I agree that the "incredulity" is delivered dripping w/irony. I do not watch the MJoe crew, but I think they should do their fact checking before "repeating" Republican talking points...

Posted by: TuiMel on February 23, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

TuiMel 2:50 and Mark R 11.19 -- I don't get it. This is all right -- to spew this shit on the air and then respond with dripping irony and facetiousness when the correction goes out?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 23, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"You guys need some decaf in your partisan coffee. This is actually a pretty decent fact check. Not quite on their knees begging earnestly for forgiveness, but not bad."

Not really. For it to have been pretty decent, he would have had to include this:


Then where did the $30 million figure come from, if it's not in the bill? It turns out that $30 million is the total amount that the California Coastal Conservancy, a state agency, recommended more than a month ago to numerous federal agencies, looking for lists of "shovel ready" projects as part of the stimulus bill planning.

The conservancy's wish list included five major ongoing wetlands restoration projects totaling nearly 4,000 acres, said civil engineer Steve Ritchie, a Coastal Conservancy staff member who helped draw it up. And the federal Army Corps of Engineers included all five projects on its own list of possible ways to spend stimulus money.

The projects, which range from Napa County to Silicon Valley, involve moving levees, creating islands and converting former industrial salt ponds back to marshes. Each could begin by year's end and would benefit dozens of species, including salmon, steelhead trout, ducks, egrets, and yes, the endangered mouse, Ritchie said.

The work also would provide increased flood protection to homes and businesses around San Francisco Bay, he said. In 2003, the Bush administration endorsed and helped fund the largest of the projects, the purchase of former Cargill salt ponds for wetlands restoration.

That's from the SJ Mercury News. Ten days ago. The $30 million was requested for all of California, not just San Francisco, and at the end of the video, the "fact checker" says that if they get the money, there's a chance it could be used for the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse project, giving the impression that the whole $30 million could be used for that one purpose. Of course, Joe jumped right on that.


Posted by: Plantsmantx on February 23, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Joe is incredulous and Mr. Adair tells him the facts debunk the story...Joe tries again and is again rejected by the truth and yet Republican poster here "karen marie" (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=92647665) does what so many Repub posters do: She says the lie again and honestly seems to STILL believe it?!
Mr. Adair plainly says that the additive was a "CA Marshland Restoration" piece that didn't make it to the Stim. Joe attempts to ask the question to lead him a bit and Bill Adair says "it wasn't in there" and even if it did make it; it was covering the whole Marshland and YES the mouse lives there but then so do many other species.
SO: A. Not in Bill B. Wasn't about a mouse and C. The Republican Ms. Marie didn't watch the video w/ her thinking cap or listening ears on.
Go to her myspace and chuckle as you read how "stupid democrats are" and how smart are republicans...I'm not making this up. If you're a Democrat, this stuff is perfect.

Posted by: Scott Anodam on February 23, 2009 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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