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Hoisted from the Archives: Eric Boehlert on Mike Allen in November 2006


Media Matters for America: October 9... Mike Allen and James Carney wrote a detailed piece about why Republicans were not worried about the upcoming elections. "The G.O.P.'s Secret Weapon," read the bold headline. "You think the Republicans are sure to lose big in November? They aren't. Here's why things don't look so bad to them," read the subhead. The article went on and on about how an "eerie, Zen-like calm" had fallen over GOP operatives who, despite a mountain of public polling data, did not fear big election losses. In fact, they coolly insisted their own prospects were "getting better by the day." Why the tranquility? Lots of reasons, according to Time, including the party's "sophisticated, expensive and largely unnoticed" campaign to identify likely voters. Time also gave the GOP points for playing the expectations game better than Democrats and for having more resources. Time ended on this chipper note: "As long as they [Republicans] end up keeping control of both houses, they still come out the winner on Election Day."... The article produced real-time cringes... the context... void of skepticism... the tone... was startling considering the circumstances.... Bush at the time stood as the most unpopular second-term president in modern history... yet Time eagerly passed along the transparent spin about how Republican chances were "getting better by the day." Those kinds of simplistic campaign talking points worked wonders with right-wing bloggers and radio talk show hosts who excitedly repeated them as a way to calm their nerves during the campaign homestretch. But Time?

Sure enough, its 1,500-word article did not quote a single Democratic or independent source. It was, in the most literal sense, transparent RNC spin (i.e., "House Republican officials contend that many of their Democratic challengers are so little known that they could be buried in an ad blitz")....

[T]he GOP's-sitting-pretty angle became something of an obsession for Time's Allen, who came back to the storyline again and again with October efforts such as "Why The Democratic Wave Could Be A Washout" and "Why Some Top Republicans Think They May Still Have the Last Laugh." And then there was Allen's November 2 blog entry, "Upset in Michigan?" which hyped the Republican-friendly theory that its candidate there had a chance of knocking off incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.... The dispatch included no polling data... no quotes from any Democratic or independent observers. The entire Michigan item consisted of quotes from Republicans insisting their guy really, really had a shot....

[Karl] Rove gave his first, exclusive post-election interview to Time's Allen...

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?