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Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert

Posted February 10, 2009 | 08:16 PM (EST)

Jonah Goldberg Is Still a God-Awful Media Critic


I recently dissected Goldberg's dreadful media critique published over at USA Today last week, noting that in order to prove Obama's has had a press honeymoon Goldberg had to stoop to inventing news. Never a good sign when you're pretending to be a media critique.

Goldberg has responded over at NRO and it's telling that he never even addressed the fact that I called him out for concocting a story about how Obama allegedly "walked into an Oval Office window." Goldberg used that as a pillar in his column to illustrate how the press looked away when Obama goofed. But Obama never did what Goldberg claimed he did, which is why the press never covered the fabricated story. (A radical idea, I know.) I highlighted that fact in my column and Goldberg, tellingly, doesn't want to touch it in his response.

I also called Goldberg out for making a false statement in the very first sentence of his column when he claimed that Obama has been "relentlessly" comparing himself to FDR. As I noted, Obama had occasionally evoked FDR, as is custom for new Democratic presidents, but there was simply no evidence to claim that Obama himself has been "relentlessly" comparing himself to FDR.

On that point, Goldberg claims I got it wrong, that Obama has "relentlessly" compared himself to FDR. Goldberg's entire proof? A 60 Minutes interview when Obama said this:

There's a new book out about FDR's first 100 days and what you see in FDR that I hope my team can--emulate, is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things.

In order to prove that Obama has "relentlessly" compared himself to FDR, Goldberg points to a single interview where Obama, just as I said, had evoked FDR.


Now might be a good time for Goldberg to reflect on the difference between Obama occasionally mentioning FDR, and Obama "relentlessly" comparing himself to FDR. In his USA Today column, Goldberg claimed the latter. In his response to me, Goldberg tries to document the former. (Note that Goldberg, king of the strawmen, spends the bulk of his defense documenting something I never even disputed; that pundits and supporters have compared Obama to FDR.)

Meanwhile Jonah, if you ever try to explain away that Obama-walked-into-a-window story you invented, let me know and I'll be sure to post it.

UPDATE: Note that in his USA Today column, Goldberg, as proof of the Obama honeymoon, pointed to CNN's John King who claimed at the time of inauguration that "nobody disputed" that journalists had become caught up in the historic nature of Obama's victory. (A quote I was originally unable to confirm.)

Goldberg pointed to the King quote as an ah-ha! moment: Even journalists admitted they were being soft on Obama! First, note the King quote was from before Obama had even been sworn in and Goldberg used it in a column about Obama's press coverage after he became president.

But more importantly, in my piece when I quoted several Beltway journalists in recent days, including one from the conservative Washington Times, insisting Obama's honeymoon was over, Goldberg dismisses that as pointless. In his defense to my column he wrote:

[Boehlert] cites as proof the press has been hard on Obama, inside the beltway "chatter" about how the press has been hard on Obama. Obviously, we should take the press corps own back-patting as proof of the yeoman work they've been doing.

Do you see the unique Goldberg logic? When a Beltway journalist like CNN's King suggests there might be a honeymoon, it's proof positive and everybody should take note. But when other Beltway journalists subsequently report honeymoon's over, that's irrelevant because you can't trust Beltway journalists to tell the truth.

Originally crossposted at County Fair, a Media Matters for America blog.