Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

According to Steve Clemons, at a speech over the weekend at the University of Central Arkansas, Michael Moore said that he had been offered the 'Killian memos' during his work on Fahrenheit 9/11, but passed on them, considering them unreliable.

Today in the Washington Post, GOP pollster Frank <$Ad$>Luntz talks to Howie Kurtz about getting canned by MSNBC after he'd already spent thirty grand putting together a debate night focus group to appear with their coverage.

In the piece he told Kurtz that "he's done no GOP work since 2001."

Is that really true?

An article in Roll Call from just this summer (June 22nd, 2004) discusses Luntz and his love-hate relationship with the House Republican Caucus. Specifically, it notes the regular briefings he gives to the caucus.

A few passages stand out ...

At the highest level, several leadership sources confirmed that Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and his office are not fans of Luntz or his work, while Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) has hired him in the past and is an eager customer for Luntz's research.


A senior Republican lawmaker had a more straightforward explanation for why Luntz's sessions are well-attended.

"It's free stuff," said the lawmaker, adding that the relationship was mutually beneficial because after seeing Luntz's presentations, "some [Members] become true believers and hire him, and some refer him" to other campaigns.


At last week's session, for example, Luntz started off by discussing homeland security and how Members should frame terrorism and security issues. He then screened some recent Kerry campaign ads and assessed their merits, as well as those of three different ads on the recently unveiled prescription drug discount card.

Attendees also received Luntz memos on three different topics: outsourcing, terrorism and tort reform.

Sounds like Luntz provides regular strategy briefings for Republicans and does it, not suprisingly, in part to troll for work.

Good as his word ...

"Nearly 100,000 fully trained <$NoAd$>and equipped Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and other security personnel are working today. And that total will rise to 125,000 by the end of this year. The Iraqi government is on track to build a force of over 200,000 security personnel by the end of next year. With the help of the American military, the training of the Iraqi army is almost halfway complete."

President George W. Bush News Conference with Prime Minister Allawi September 23rd, 2004

"There's 100,000 troops trained: police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year."

President George W. Bush Presidential Debate September 30th, 2004

And then this from Reuters, out today ...

But many of these assertions have met with scepticism from key lawmakers, congressional aides and experts, and Pentagon documents, given to lawmakers and obtained by Reuters, paint a more complicated picture.

The documents show that of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.

Six Army battalions have had "initial training," while 57 National Guard battalions, 896 soldiers in each, are still being recruited or "awaiting equipment." Just eight Guard battalions have reached "initial (operating) capability," and the Pentagon acknowledged the Guard's performance has been "uneven."

Training has yet to begin for the 4,800-man civil intervention force, which will help counter a deadly insurgency. And none of the 18,000 border enforcement guards have received any centralised training to date, despite earlier claims they had, according to Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.

They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.

Has any reporter asked the president or his advisors about this? They really do seem to be just making this stuff up ...

Kerry pulls ahead.

According to the first post-debate poll, from Newsweek, John Kerry leads President Bush by a margin of 49% to 46%. Put Nader in the mix and Kerry's margin drops from 3 to 2.

Notably, on the front page of the MSNBC site, the headline reads "Kerry Boost: Poll shows Democrat even with Bush after Debate."

Statistically speaking it's probably fair to call that a tie or basically even. But given how much emphasis has been given to the polls with big Bush leads (Gallup, CBS, etc.) over those with narrow Bush leads (IBD, Fox, Zogby), it seems a funny way to headline the first poll to show Kerry in the lead in like a month.

Late Update: Sheesh! It's worse than I thought. The blurb on the Newsweek poll on the right side of the front page of the MSNBC website reads: "A solid majority of viewers surveyed say the challenger outperformed the president in their first face-off, and Bush's lead among registered voters has all but vanished."

All but vanished? My God. Yes, this is just one poll. Others may well differ. But the article is about the new Newsweek poll that shows Kerry beating Bush among registered voters. So doesn't that mean Bush's lead has all vanished, rather than "all but vanished."

I was never good at math. But isn't MSNBC a bit off on this one?

More good stuff from Fox. Was Cameron in on this one too? Fox News took a Kerry-bashing Republican group called "Communists for Kerry" and interviewed a 'member' of the group as though it were an actual pro-Kerry group.

Sample quote: "Even though he, too, is a capitalist, he supports my socialist values more than President Bush ... The North Koreans are my comrades to a point, and I'm sure they support Comrade Kerry, too."

See Atrios for the details.

A few questions and points about Carl Cameron's Kerry-bashing fabrications on Fox, or A Guide for the Perplexed (media reporters) ...

1. How long did the fabricated quotes run on the Fox News website?

2. Fox News says Cameron has been 'reprimanded.' How? Are there any consequences? What happened to him? How was he reprimanded? Fox spokesman Paul Schur, who first spoke to TPM yesterday afternoon, told The Daily News "We're simply moving on from this, we have no further comment." And that doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that the 'reprimand' is anything more than a 'Carl, Don't post any more fabricated quotes on the website.' Meanwhile, Schur declined to tell the LA Times what if any discipline Cameron faced.

3. Just for the sake of discussion, can there be any question that Carl Cameron has contempt and disdain for John Kerry -- contempt and disdain that he has great difficulty keeping a lid on?

4. Shouldn't Cameron be taken off the Kerry campaign beat? Assume for the moment that Cameron's fabricated story wasn't supposed to run on the site. If Cameron sits around writing up phony news stories only for Fox News colleagues which portray Kerry as a swishy fool, can he really credibly cover the campaign as a straight news reporter? The answer is obvious, I think. Of course, he can't.

5. Fox says Cameron made an "error" because of "fatigue and bad judgment." What was the error? Making up the fabricated quotes? Sending a Kerry-bashing parody around to colleagues at Fox News? Posting it on the website as a news story?

6. Did Cameron post the material to the site himself, not realizing there was a problem? Or did a tech person or editor at the website get a hold of Cameron's fabrications and post it not realizing it was a fabrication?

7. How tired is Carl Cameron and will Fox News be requiring him to get more sleep?

8. Why did comments very similar to Cameron's fabrications come up again and again from Fox commentators on debate night?

9. If CNN's John King posted a story on the CNN website with fabricated quotes that had the president joking about funneling money to Halliburton or telling a crowd how only saps went to Vietnam, what would the fall-out or consequences be?

I will spare you any pretense of mock surprise that Fox News is ridiculously biased against the Kerry campaign. But it's one thing to know it and another to get such a blazing and undeniable example of it as a story with fabricated Kerry-bashing quotes put together by the Fox News reporter covering the Kerry campaign.

(Carl Cameron, the reporter in question, according to Fox spokesman Paul Schur, is Fox's 'chief political correspondent'.)

But it brings up a point raised in an article by Howie Kurtz a few days back.

On Monday Kurtz discussed a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs that showed that Fox News coverage of Kerry was overwhelmingly negative.

Kurtz got these quotes from Cameron's boss Brit Hume ...

Brit Hume, Fox's Washington managing editor, whose "Special Report" was examined by the study, says he's surprised by the anti-Kerry findings. "Our day-in, day-out coverage by Carl Cameron has been extremely fair to Kerry, and the Kerry campaign has recognized this," he says.

"We did a lot on the Swift Boat Veterans. We thought it was a totally legitimate story and found it an appalling lapse by many of our competitive news organizations that were treating that story like it was cancerous." But even there, Hume says, "we were abundantly fair to John Kerry's side."

"Extremely fair" to Kerry? "Abundantly fair" about the Swift Boat stuff?

The same reporter who made up these 'Kerry quotes'?

"Women should like me! I do manicures."

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!"

"I'm metrosexual — [Bush's] a cowboy."

Kurtz could do us all a favor and get Hume on the horn to see if he's still willing to call Cameron "extremely fair to Kerry."

Fox News has now posted a retraction and apology for the piece with the fabricated Kerry quotes ...

Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

The only retraction doesn't name the reporter in question, Carl Cameron, which was noted in the statement Fox News gave TPM this afternoon.

Okay some more details on that bogus Kerry story that ran this morning on the Fox News website. As we noted earlier, this morning the front page of the Fox website ran a story with a series of phony Kerry quotes (see post below). After questions were asked the offending material was quickly pulled from the site, without explanation.

So what happened?

Late this afternoon I spoke to Fox spokesman Paul Schur who told me the following ...

“Carl [Cameron] made a stupid mistake which he regrets. And he has been reprimanded for his lapse in judgment. It was a poor attempt at humor.”

So the Fox reporter covering the Kerry campaign puts together this Kerry-bashing parody right out of the RNC playbook with phony quotes intended to peg him as girlish fool and somehow it found its way on the Fox website as a news item.

Imagine that.

More to follow ...