James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘health care bill’

A question for Tea Partiers who want to ‘take back America’

Posted by James McPherson on April 16, 2010

I’m not trying to be facetious; I really want to know. I keep hearing you talking about “taking back America.” Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann say it. You have a Web site that says it. You’ll sell me a bumper sticker that says it. Clinton-era whoremonger Dick Morris wrote a book that says it (though why conservatives listen to him, especially, escapes me). There was a whole conference about it. And there’s even a a weird song and video (below) that have Uncle Sam saying it. And still I don’t get it.

My question: Exactly whom or what are you taking America back from? Those of us who voted in the majority in the last election?

Same-day addition: Martin Lobel at Nieman Watchdog points out something else that seems to confuse the Tea Party crowd and reporters: If you reduce taxes, you increase the deficit. Except in that wonderland that provides a magical escape for many of today’s protesters and a few Republican members of Congress (some of the same folks who pretend they can repeal the just-passed health care bill, though they’re basically after your money).

Posted in Politics, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Bipartisan agreement that conservatives should ease off the trigger

Posted by James McPherson on March 25, 2010

Having Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck of “The View” agree on something should give pause to those who would disagree with them. And if the agreement comes in the form of harsh criticism of Sarah Palin–for whom Hasselbeck stumped during the 2008 campaign–maybe it’s time for angry gun nuts and other Tea Party types to turn things down a notch.

The criticism revolves around Palin’s use of crosshairs on a map “targeting” Democrats, which Hasselbeck referred to as “purely despicable” and “an abuse of the Second Amendment.” Of course, John McCain defended Palin’s language–oddly, I agree with him in this case more than I do Hasselbeck, though I find the use of crosshairs more troubling. (By the way, if you Google “McCain defends Palin,” you get almost 3.9 million hits.)

I rarely agree with Hasselbeck, but I do sometimes feel sorry for her because she is so badly outnumbered on “The View,” just as I feel for Eleanor Clift when she frequently has to fight four conservatives on “The McLaughlin Group.” And as I said, I’m not sure that Palin’s language is that far over the line, in historical terms.

But if folks on your own side find problems with your methods, the proper response isn’t an Eric Cantor knee-jerk blame-the-Dems reaction. Instead, conservatives should be looking to how they might appeal more to the rational middle rather than to the the lunatic fringe that is now getting so much attention.

Republicans, you lost, despite your best and worst efforts. Get over it. Elections have consequences. Approval of both health care reform and Democrats is already climbing, probably in part because of your obstructionist methods.

Of course, you’ll probably focus on the part of the CBS poll that says most Americans want you to keep fighting health care reform, and either through ignorance or (more likely) willful distortion you’ll misinterpret that result the same as you did the polls showing that most Americans weren’t happy with the proposed health care bill.

You see, many of us opposed the bill not because it went too far but because it doesn’t go nearly far enough, even if we think it’s better than the nothing you would have given us. Likewise, many of us hope you keep fighting reform, because we want you to keep demonstrating how out of touch you are with most Americans, boosting the party of “Yes we can” even more over that of “Hell no you can’t.” (For more on that, see the video below).

Frankly, we aren’t crazy about the Democrats, but considering the mess you created when you were in charge, we much prefer a Democratic majority over a Republican one. Come to think of it, please keep listening to Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and ramping up the loony language–it seems to be doing wonders for our side.

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bare and unbalanced: Fox News again uses ‘porn’ to criticize porn

Posted by James McPherson on March 22, 2010

“Don’t be surprised these days, when you’re searching for that perfect Easter, Mother’s Day or birthday card, if you run across a little soft porn on the shelves,” starts a Fox News story headlined, “Greeting cards gone wild.”

Not surprisingly, the story was soon the third-most popular on Fox. Also not surprising is that a Natalee Holloway story was No. 1, and that nothing about the health care bill–just two hours  from historic passage at that writing–was in the top five.

Today video of John Boehner’s health care rant from last night now is No. 1, though a “hot list” of bikini-clad celebrities also makes the list. Many Fox regulars just aren’t that into anything without pictures.

And, alas, also not surprising are these lines (and their placement) in the Fox greeting card story:”

Cards showing bare behinds, barely covered breasts, lewd sentiments and off-color humor are pushing the envelope of decency. They’re meant for adults only, but anyone can buy them.

SLIDESHOW: Check out the steamy greeting cards 

What’s more, anyone can see them — including children.

Yes, that’s right–Fox inserts a link to its slideshow that shows the cards within the same story that complains about the cards. With absolutely no sense of irony, writer Lauren Green goes on:

Today, regulating bodies monitor just about every area of public consumption. There are decency standards for television, radio and cable. Movies are rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has parental warnings on CDs. And many states and municipalities regulate the public display of adult magazines.

But the greeting card industry has no controls.

Acccording to the Green’s apparent view, the Fox News Web site also should have more controls. But anyone who has seen Fox’s almost-daily “Pop Tarts” section already knew that.

“The trend toward raunchy, humor-filled cards shows how society’s moral standards have changed as well,” Green writes. She may be right. But the popularity of Fox demonstrates the moral decline far more than does the supposed shift in greeting card messages.

Posted in History, Journalism, Legal issues, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Will Dems have the guts for budget reconciliation?

Posted by James McPherson on March 1, 2010

Though I’d be surprised by almost any evidence of a Democratic backbone, I do hope Congressional Democrats have the courage to go ahead and try to pass health care reform through reconciliation–a process that is far from “the nuclear option” that some Republicans and news commentators (and, naturally, Fox News in a “news” story) have wrongly called it.

In fact, the nuclear option is something that only Republicans have actually threatened to use, taking pride in the term a few years ago. Reconciliation is much closer to the “up-0r down vote” that Republicans also made popular at the same time they were threatening to nuke the filibuster process.

Ezra Klein offers a useful reconciliation primer, explaining what it is and how it has been used in the past (most often by Republicans, and often to make sweeping changes, including with health care, that would not have passed otherwise).

The Plum Line blog also offers a handy guide to Republicans who have voted for it in the past (including every Republican senator who attended last week’s health care summit). In the words of one Fox News writer, on this issue, “GOP objectors could not be more fundamentally hypocritical.”

Posted in History, Journalism, Legal issues, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »