The New Norquist: Meet the GOP’s Latest Hardline Power Broker
September 24, 2011

On June 8th, a motley coalition of conservative senators and activists huddled in the Cannon Office Building to discuss strategy around Cut, Cap, and Balance, the radical budget proposal to cap federal spending at 18 percent of GDP that they hoped to push through Congress in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. After an impassioned prayer for the nation’s future from Senator Jim DeMint, staunch libertarians like Chris Chocola of Club for Growth rubbed elbows with evangelicals like Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America and Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council.

Why Is the Press Spending So Much Time Obsessing About Libya?
September 08, 2011

The U.S. economy being what it is, it should come as no surprise that most Americans, including the minority with a keen interest in foreign policy, have been focused on domestic issues. What is less understandable is why that internationally-minded remnant should have been so concerned with events in Libya to the virtual exclusion of any other part of the world. This has been particularly true of mainstream liberals, and the media outlets that reflect their views, above all the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and NBC.

Smearing Norah O'Donnell
August 01, 2011

Andrew Breitbart has clipped an exchange from today's press at conference at the White House. In the exchange, reporter Norah O'Donnell press Jay Carney by asking, "Democrats are saying, 'You gave them everything they wanted and we got nothing." Commentary has picked up the story, giving it the headline, "CBS's O'Donnell to Carney: We got nothing." CBS’s Norah O’Donnell peppered Carney with terse, accusatory questions about the lack of tax revenue (read: tax increases) in the debt ceiling deal.

Shale Gas Isn’t Actually Evil. But the Shale Gas Industry is Behaving Stupidly.
July 18, 2011

In the marquee scene from the 2010 documentary Gasland, nominated earlier this year for an Academy Award, a man is shown warily holding a lighter underneath his running kitchen faucet. The flame quickly ignites the tapwater, briefly producing a fireball in the sink. Something appears to have gone wrong—and the culprit, the film inveighs, is the sinister local shale gas industry. Gasland’s incredulous depiction of flammable drinking water is but one expression of the anti-shale gas sentiment that is increasingly permeating American popular consciousness.

What We Can Learn From Nepal’s Inclusion of ‘Third Gender’ on Its 2011 Census
July 18, 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal—This fall, the world should have its first official, national head-count of people in a single country who identify as “third gender.” That’s because Nepal, the small nation crammed between India and China, has included the designation on its 2011 census, the country’s first since the fall of a Hindu monarchy and the end of an armed conflict with Maoist rebels.

The 80s Were Weird
June 27, 2011

Via Eli Lake, an ABC commercial from 1987 that promoted the network's fall lineup with an extended montage of cowboys, pies to the face, the Washington metro, fighter jets, dancing, boats, farms, sunsets, toddlers, marching bands, and a whole lot of patriotism: Possibly the most anachronistic part is a woman (at 1:42) saying, "There's two things I can't stand. One of them's NBC, and the other one's CBS." There really was a time when it was considered normal to have a loyalty to a television network.

The Love of Monopoly
May 19, 2011

Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications By Richard R. John (Belknap Press, 520 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time, some thought it obvious that competition was a bad thing, particularly in communications. As Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, put it in 1913, “The public as a whole has never benefited” from competition. Monopoly, he said, was the better choice. The reason, he argued, is that “all costs of aggressive, uncontrolled competition are eventually borne, directly or indirectly, by the public.” Nowadays corporate executives carefully avoid expressing such sentiments.

April 07, 2011

The day after I arrived in Chicago to cover the mayoral debate, an Appeals Court removed frontrunner Rahm Emanuel’s name from the ballot. The decision, which reversed findings by the Chicago Elections Board and a Circuit Court judge, ignored more than 150 years of Illinois election law in denying that Emanuel met the residence requirements for a mayoral candidate. Not surprisingly, the ruling drew outrage.

Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove Fail Basic Math
February 16, 2011

[Guest Post by Isaac Chotiner] Earlier this week, Jon wrote an item about this PPP poll of likely Republican primary voters. The survey found that 51% of respondents did not think President Obama was born in the United States, and another 21% were not sure. On his show this evening, Bill O'Reilly expressed his outrage at the pollsters: not only is PPP a Democratic firm, he said, but the survey wasn't large enough to be accurate. His interview guest, who was in full agreement with that analysis, was Karl Rove.

The Sexism of 'Morning Joe'
December 13, 2010

One Monday morning in November, according to the admittedly rough transcript provided by the Federal News Service, “Morning Joe,” anchor Joe Scarborough spoke 3,213 words; his co-anchor Mika Brzezinski spoke just 644. Most of her words seemed merely to remind the audience that she was still awake: Yeah. Okay. Yes. No. Maybe. Right. Terrific. Scarborough dominated the meaty segments; Brzezinski piped up mainly during the transitions.