Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I've received a slew of emails over the last twenty four hours asking about the status of the Sinclair situation, and where things stand. I would refer people to the update put up yesterday on the Sinclair boycott site, which gives a good sense of where things are.

Put simply, this isn't over. Not even close.

Sinclair made a largely cosmetic retreat. They won't show 'Stolen Honor' in its entirety -- only, presumably, the most inflammatory parts, along with some padding whining about media bias.

Despite the fact that they've moved the program to Friday and later in the evening, they're still forcing most of their stations to turn over an hour of the airwaves to what seems certain to be an hourlong anti-Kerry smear just before the election.

Unfortunately, I sense they have fooled many into thinking they've backed down. But they haven't.

Anybody who is concerned about this should not be lulled into a sense that Sinclair isn't still using its control of the airwaves in many households throughout the country to game the election. To see what more you can do head back to the Sinclair Boycott website.

Today was a travel day for TPM. Thus the dearth of posts.

More on Sproul Associates: the same MO in Pennsylvania. More lies. More getting access to venues by falsely claiming to represent other organizations.

Over at his blog DonkeyRising, Ruy Teixeira has been running an on-going critical commentary of the Gallup poll.

Some of his criticisms I have found stronger than others. I think, for instance, that he's definitely on to something with the sharp Republican skew in the party-identification of the Gallup polls. But I wonder whether this problem skews the horse race numbers as much as Ruy says.

It's not that I disagree with his reasoning. And Ruy knows much more about public opinion research than I do. I think it's just an instinctive skepticism I have about finding arguments for disregarding polls that don't say what you want them to. Put more simply, I try to be on guard against spinning myself.

On Tuesday though Ruy came back with a further analysis of the Gallup poll which seemed to make an indisputable case that the Gallup likely voter screen clearly underrepresents minority and young voters.

One might say that minority or young voters vote less consistently than affluent whites. But Ruy shows pretty clearly that Gallup's numbers presume rates of participation that defy history and common sense.

For instance, minority representation among voters in 1996 was 17% and in 2000 it was 19.4%. Yet Gallup says it'll be 14.5% this year. That's hard to figure since, as Ruy notes, minorities are growing as a percentage of the population.

With blacks, it was 10.1% in 1996 and 9.7% in 2000. But Gallup says that it'll fall this year to 7.5%.

On young voters (18-29 year olds), it's a similar story. Young voters made up 17% of the electorate in 1996 and 2000. This year, says Gallup, they'll account for only 11%.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not say that the demographic breakdown numbers Ruy was going on here came from Steve Soto, who has a further discussion of these demographic problems in the Gallup numbers on his website.

This is lovely.

Click on this link and you'll go to the Ashley's Story website. It's part of an ad campaign running on conservative websites.

Ashley is a young girl whose mother died in the World Trade Center. And earlier this year, at a campaign event, she was comforted for her loss by President Bush. It's an affecting picture and I'm sure it was an equally affecting moment.

Go to the Ashley's Story website and you'll find an earth-toned montage of images about Ashley, the foundation set up in her mother's honor and more.

There's even a link you can click on to make a contribution to "spread Ashley's story."

If you click around the site a little further though you see that the money is actually for a slew of anti-Kerry attack ads.

There is an Ashley's Story ad, about how President Bush changed the girl's life. But that's just one. The other eight include the 'Surfer Dude' ad ridiculing Kerry as a windsurfer who flipflops, another -- What If -- that asks the terrifying question of what would have happened if 9/11 had happened on Kerry's watch rather than President Bush's, and a slew of others of a similar sort.

The Ashley's Story fundraiser site is actually a pitch for Progress for America Voter Fund.

In the last presidential debate, President Bush said he wasn't taking a flu shot because of the current shortage. I can understand the politics of saying that and also the sincere motive beyond it. He probably would have been attacked if he said he was making an exception for himself.

Still, the president should get a flu shot.

Support him or not, the president is singular. Issues of fairness and equality aside, the country can't afford to have the president debilitated by the flu or the complications that can follow from it -- especially when it is easily prevented.

One might say, though with less merit, that the same may apply to Senator Kerry in these last few weeks of the campaign since such a monumental choice as voters face in two weeks shouldn't be left to the vagaries of the influenza virus.

But Congress? Their staffers? Everybody who works on Capitol Hill?

According to tomorrow's Washington Post, any member of congress or employee of congress can walk into the capitol's attending physician and get a flu shot. In theory, they're not supposed to get one if they don't qualify under the CDC guidelines. But if they walk in and ask for one, they get one. No questions asked.

On top of that, the capital physician has told every member of congress to get a shot, regardless of age or health status. The rationale is that they come into contact with so many constituents and are at particular risk.

That doesn't seem right.

I have a friend who is HIV-positive; and he hasn't been able to get a shot yet. I have a relative who is over 65 and has a serious medical condition; and he hasn't been able to get one yet either.

I wrestled for several hours over whether to post this entry because I know there's a real risk that such comments merely pander to a cheap populism. [ed.note: the timestamp on TPM entries is most often when they're begun, not when they're posted.] I don't have anything against the staffers who work up on capitol hill. I know many of them. But this seems like a double standard that can't be justified.

Reed Hundt responds <$NoAd$>...

Dear Josh,

Now we see that Sinclair is not going to run the smear "documentary" after all. Instead they are going to run something they label as news, but which according to its current description is transparently another criticism of the Kerry campaign. What are we to make of this new tactic?

First, by backing away from their previous plan, Sinclair is effectively admitting either that their advertisers want them to maintain the broadcaster tradition of providing balanced and neutrail coverage of elections ( because without that advertisers risk viewer unhappiness being directed at the advertisers), or that Sinclair in fact may face many regulatory problems in the event that it violates that tradition. That much at least is progress toward some recognition of reality at Sinclair.

Second, Sinclair calling their proposed new show news does not make it news. What in fact one may think of their broadcast can and should be judged after the fact. But since Sinclair's relationship to objectivity, as reflected in its press statements, is rather attenuated, one should suppose that Sinclair's new show may well be judged just as much a smear as the so-called documentary they apparently will no longer run. As a result, advertisers have just as much ground to be wary, and the FCC just as much basis to do its duty, and Sinclair just as much reason to feel the opprobrium of an aroused public, as was the case before this current and suspicious effort to disguise the true intentions of Sinclair.

Third, the chairman of the FCC and his White House friends have nothing to be proud of in this embroglio, but perhaps the American people can be happy that notwithstanding his implicit endorsement of the Sinclair smear, at least in the first round the public has stood up to Sinclair's unfairness with some steadfastness and coordinated purpose. On the other hand, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, two Democratic commissioners at the FCC, have expressed themselves forcefully on the issue of balance and fairness. The next step either for commissioners or the Chairman, if he were to come to a realization of his duties, would be to investigate immediately the applicability of equal time obligations. This must be done in a hurry, so that if the Kerry campaign were granted equal time, that time would come before, rather than after (!) the election. If the Chairman won't act, then the commissioners should and could investigate without him, and make public their own conclusions about equal time. Of course, equal time for the Kerry campaign to reach the public served by the Sinclair use of the public's airwaves is not only a matter of specific regulation but also an ethical and cultural value to which any public official is empowered to speak.

Sincerely Yours, Reed Hundt former FCC chairman (1993-97)

P.S. The news director at Sinclair quitting is not a back page story; or it should not have been. It is telling, even conclusive evidence, of the difference between a fair culture of news reporting and the culture at Sinclair. More material for investigation.

Day One: President Bush accuses Sen. Kerry of using "shameless scare tactics."

Day Two: Vice President Cheney says Sen. Kerry isn't "tough and aggressive" enough to stop terrorists from exploding a nuclear weapon in an American city.

Lying about the draft.

In an interview Monday with the AP, Bush accused Kerry of scare tactics and insisted he would not bring back the military draft, even if there were a crisis with North Korea or Iran.

"I believe we've got the assets and manpower necessary to be able to deal with another theater should one arise," Bush said.

Then there's this from the Times ...

The chief Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence T. Di Rita, said Monday: "It is the policy of this administration to oppose a military draft for any purpose whatsoever. A return to the draft is unthinkable. There will be no draft."


Categorically, there will be no draft?

Then why do we have a Selective Service exactly? Why do we have the contingency plans <$Ad$>discussed in the Times article? The draft is always possible, depending on various possible national security threats and contingencies, particularly those that might persist for some time. That's why we have a Selective Service.

My point, as I've said previously, is not that there will necessarily be a draft or that the Bush administration is planning one or wants one. The point is that the administraiton has pursued a mix of policies that make it a very real possibility -- not because the administration wants a draft, but because they may drive the country into a position where we have no choice.

Take the president's comment to the Associated Press. We have the manpower to deal with another major theater conflict in North Korea or Iran? Really? The US military is under great strain now with current deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. How can we possibly have sufficient manpower to handle an all-out war with North Korea and its aftermath, without pushing the all-volunteer military past its breaking point?

Through a mix of conscious policy and mismanagement, the White House has gotten us to the point where another major conflict would be quite difficult to sustain for a number of reasons. The point of a debate about a potential draft is to weigh the consequences of those policies and that record of mismanagement.

By making categorical statements that are false on their face -- i.e., there will never be a draft -- the White House is trying to avoid or cut short that debate. And that makes sense because when you have the debate on its merits, a draft does seem like a real possibility.

Voters have a right to know that, to understand the consequences of White House policies and what they're not being told about them.

Perhaps the president and his advisors really believe they'll never have to consider a draft, though I doubt it. But then this White House has a history of making bluff, confident assertions of which reality quickly makes a mockery.

Just look at Iraq.