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Fox News rolls wrong video of Palin crowds

Executives are reportedly considering 'serious disciplinary action' against someone in the control room. Also: a sour note on Obama's tweets; Huckabee defends Obama.

November 22, 2009|By Johanna Neuman and Mark Milian
  • "I have never used Twitter," President Obama told an audience of young Chinese in Shanghai. That came as a surprise to many of his Twitter followers.
"I have never used Twitter," President Obama told an audience… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

A few weeks ago, Fox News had the White House on the defensive. Network anchors were scoring political points by ridiculing President Obama for ignoring the largest news cable audience in television. Glenn Beck pounded green-jobs czar Van Jones, who eventually resigned.

On Thursday it was Fox News on the defensive, after anchor Gregg Jarrett waxed on about the crowds former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had been getting on her book tour. Except it turned out the footage Fox was using at the time was from the 2008 campaign.

Fox executives, embarrassed by the flap, are considering "serious disciplinary action" against someone in the control room, according to the political blog The Swamp.

Small wonder.

A week earlier, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart called out Fox's Sean Hannity for running video of a huge "tea party" protest in Washington in September -- as he was discussing a rally by the same causes outside the Capitol this month when far fewer protesters showed up.

Hannity apologized on air for what he called an inadvertent error.

Who's tweeting @BarackObama?

More than 2.6 million people follow President Obama on Twitter -- or so they thought. The president told a youth audience in Shanghai on Sunday that he has never used Twitter.

The @BarackObama Twitter account was a wildly successful campaign tool in Obama's run-up to the presidency last year, which staffers used to promote their candidate. Since being elected, the account is believed to have been taken over by the Democratic National Committee.

"I have never used Twitter, but I'm an advocate of technology and not restricting Internet access," Obama said during the town hall meeting. "My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone."

The latter statement elicited laughs from the crowd. Perhaps because Twitter is not solely a phone application. Or maybe some recall a photo from the campaign showing Obama's professed tech savvy.

But we should point out that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama's opponent in the election, has managed to write cohesive sentences on his Twitter page using his war-mangled fingers -- well, either that or a staffer relays his tweets for him.

Now knowing that the tweets don't actually come from Obama himself, followers have expressed disappointment. "I have never used" was a trending topic on Twitter the day of his Shanghai talk (meaning many people tweeted messages with the phrase) as users reacted to the news.

"Humbled," which was @BarackObama's one-word reaction to news of being selected as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, carries a lot less weight with the new knowledge. Who's humbled? Some rep at the DNC?

The White House maintains its own Twitter profile. The page, @WhiteHouse, has gained significant popularity of its own, with 1.5 million followers, in a relatively short amount of time.

But Obama -- er, whoever is typing messages under his guise -- still reaches a million more people.

Huckabee: Stop attacking Obama

He could go down as the first Republican to spar with conservative icon Rush Limbaugh and live to talk about it.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told the Hudson Union Society some weeks ago that Republican attacks on President Obama for matters including visiting Dover Air Force Base and opening the White House to local trick-or-treaters on Halloween are hurting the country.

Now, his comments are circulating online, posing a direct counter to Limbaugh, who has criticized Obama's Dover visit as a photo-op.

Said Huckabee: "When he was at Dover the other day, and went there to pay respect for soldiers, I heard a lot of people on the right say, 'Aw, that's just a cheap photo-op.' No, I think it was the commander-in-chief of our military paying respect to a dead soldier, and I'm grateful that he did that, and I was proud of him for doing that. And I think we all -- as Americans -- should give him credit for doing that."

Perhaps cognizant of public opinion polls that show Obama personally popular with most Americans, even those who disagree with his policies, Huckabee added: "When he and Michelle hosted the trick-or-treaters on Halloween, quit finding something wrong with that. Say, 'Good, I'm glad that he and the first lady are treating children to an experience at the White House.' And I just find it deplorable that some people on my end of the aisle want to find everything wrong and nothing right about the man as a man."

Finally, Huckabee, a former pastor, pleaded for comity.

"I hated it when people did that to George Bush," he said. "They couldn't even laugh at the man's jokes. They found something wrong with everything, and if we do that to Barack Obama, then shame on us, shame on us. No wonder our country is so divided when that happens."

Huckabee made the comments while on a book tour for "A Simple Christmas." Republican insiders, mindful of all the attention focused on former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue," are calling Huckabee's "the other book tour."

mark.milian@latimes.com

Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket "> www.latimes.com/ticket ), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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