To: On-Air Personalities From: NBC News Management Subject: Watch your language!
With less than two weeks left before the election, naturally we're all excited at the prospect, after 12 long years in the wilderness, that we will finally be winning back the majority in one or perhaps even both houses of Congress.
With victory this close at hand, it's important that none of us provide any fodder for Republicans - or those annoying right-wing media critics - to claim that we are, well, doing what we're doing - rooting for a Democratic win.
A study - released by its anti-war partisan authors just in time for the election - claiming that more than 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war has been debunked more times than Paris Hilton has been . . . well, let's just say the study has been debunked often and thoroughly, as noted here and here.
But that doesn't prevent a member-in-good-standing of the MSM from shamelessly recycling the phony numbers. Have a close look at this editorial cartoon from today's Boston Globe by house cartoonist Dan Wasserman. President Bush is shown declaring that, among other problems in Iraq, there are "hundreds of thousands dead."
While the national media made the books of Bob Woodward and David Kuo big anti-Bush sensations, are there any books from conservatives that could make a wave in the campaign? On Monday's talk shows, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin both promoted a story from our colleagues at CNSNews.com on a new book by Grove City College professor Paul Kengor called "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism." Its startling revelation: Ted Kennedy was asking Soviet dictators to help assist in defeating Reagan in 1984:
At least they're honest about it. So avid is the New York Times for a Dem House majority that in an editorial of this morning, it's decided to throw Chris Shays [R-CT] to the wolves, under the bus, or wherever it is that liberal Republican congressmen go when the Times won't endorse them anymore.
Although they came to bury him, the Times does throw in some praise of Shays [rhymes!]:
Referring to him as "a good representative."
Noting that it has "admired his independence and respected his leadership."
Describing him as "a rare voice for moderation within [the] Republican caucus."
Calling him "a beacon of integrity."
Not good enough for the Gray Lady. Endorsing his Democrat opponent, the Times make no bones about sacrificing Shays' electoral bones on the altar of a Pelosi speakership:
This story from the PRC's propaganda wire, Xinhua won't likely get much play in the leftist world which believes that Chimpybushitlerhalliburtonfoleyisgay is the real threat to world-wide free speech. China is continuing its crackdown on opposing free speech, this time,
signaling that it will move toward forcing anyone who wants to make a
blog do so under their real names, making it easier to crack down on
NANCHANG -- With widespread online rumor saying China will implement a blog
real name system, the Internet Society of China (ISC) has clarified that so far
the Ministry of Information Industry has not officially made any related
However, a real name system will be an unavoidable choice if China wants to
standardize and develop its blog industry, Huang Chengqing, ISC secretary
general, told Xinhua on Sunday.
An official with the ISC confirmed on Thursday that the society is working on
a real name system for Chinese bloggers, which attested to netizens' longtime
guess about it and triggered a hot controversy.
Huang said some reports on the Internet about the implementation of the real
name system are not "very accurate."
The ISC, affiliated to the Ministry of Information Industry, was entrusted by
the ministry to form a blog research panel to provide solutions for the
development of China's blog industry.
"We suggest, in a recent report submitted to the ministry, that a real name
system be implemented in China's blog industry," Huang said.
Under such a system, a netizen has to register with his real name to open a
blog, but can still write under a pseudonym, according to Huang.
Our news media have long lectured us that their role is not to be "stenographers to power." Theirs is the pursuit of truth, we are told. But when it comes to networks like CNN, those ethical rules are crumpled and tossed into the nearest trash bin.
Editorial writers at the Washington Post and elsewhere have raged against the Pentagon placing positive stories in Iraqi newspapers, thus violating the journalistic sacristy of objectivity. But they have no rage at all for CNN placing glorifying publicity from terrorists on a global television network.
Another campaign, another opportunity for the mainstream media to discredit a Republican campaign ad as racist. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams declared: “Tonight some are saying that one commercial in particular in one very close Senate race has now crossed a racial line.” Andrea Mitchell proceeded to critique the RNC ad attacking Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford and in offering a second example of how the “mid-year elections are getting rough,” Mitchell castigated Rush Limbaugh, ignoring the inaccurate Democratic ad he had criticized. The Tennessee ad made fun of how Ford once attended a Playboy party. In it, a white female recalls how “I met Harold at the Playboy party" and the ad ended with her whispering: "Harold, call me." Mitchell pounced: "The NAACP said the ad, quote, 'plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women'” and “advertising experts like Jerry Della Femina, a Republican, says it is a blatant racial appeal."
Mitchell moved to Limbaugh: "Take a look at what Rush Limbaugh is saying about Michael J. Fox, the actor who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is campaigning for Democrats who support stem cell research. Limbaugh said Fox was acting, exploiting his illness, when he taped this ad for the Democratic Senate candidate in Maryland." Viewers saw a clip of Limbaugh: "He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act." But Mitchell ignored how Fox was injecting politics into medical research funding policy, how Fox has admitted going off his meds in order to look worse and that Limbaugh was also criticizing Fox's anti-Talent ad in Missouri in which Fox made the distorted claim that “Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." Plus, it's worth noting that Fox was a lot more steady in a clip of him responding to Limbaugh. (Transcripts from NBC and Limbaugh follow, as well as from ABC)
Video of Mitchell's hit on Limbaugh with two clips of Fox in different conditions -- see screen shots below (1:00): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (2 MB), plus MP3 audio (350 KB)
When media outlets publish militarily significant information and make it known to a wider audience (something they seem to do with more frequency during Republican administrations), they generally excuse their actions with claims that they are fulfilling an obligation to the public's "right to know."
Aside from the question of whether the public has a right not to know something, another question presents itself: are journalists obligated to be "neutral" observers, even to the point of endangering the lives of fellow Americans?
Marc Danziger raises that question in an editiorial at the D.C. Examiner:
I’ve blogged about the “journalist vs. citizen” thing. Let me explain through an anecdote:
1987, PBS sponsored a colloquium called “Under Orders, Under Fire” as a
part of their great Ethics in America series (many episodes can still
be found at www.learner.org/resources/series81.html). While the episode
was about military ethics, the bombshell was a sidebar on journalism
between Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace.
Jennings was asked what
he would do if he was embedded with forces fighting U.S. soldiers - and
became aware they had set an ambush for him. He replied, from a James
“If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came
upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn
“Even if it means losing the story?” he was
asked. “Even though it would almost certainly mean losing my life,”
Mike Wallace, however, disagreed: “I think some
other reporters would have a different reaction,” he said, obviously
referring to himself. “They would regard it simply as a story they were
there to cover.”
Referring to an RNC ad as the "Mehlman cesspool," Chris Matthews was being non-partisan. Really - he told us so!
On this afternoon's Hardball, Matthews interviewed Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Dem candidate for senator from Tennessee. The first topic up was an ad the RNC is currently running using actors to tweak Ford on his positions on a variety of issues, from taxes to gun control to North Korea. The ad also alludes to the fact that Ford attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in 2005.
At the ad's end, an alluring woman saying she met Harold at a Playboy party whispers "Harold, call me!"
Democrats have been quick to cry that the use of a white woman is an insidious appeal to racism. Matthews wasted no time sounding the Dems' battle cry:
CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:
Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."
Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."
Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."
What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994.
As many around the country now know, baseball fans in Missouri got more than they bargained for on Sunday night when an advertisement for senate candidate Claire McCaskill ran during the World Series featuring Hollywood actor and Parkinson’s sufferer Michael J. Fox (video here). In the ad, a trembling Fox said, "As you might know I care deeply about stem cell research." He continued, "In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures."
Well, the rhetoric is heating up in this important state (hat tip to Drudge). Past and present Missouri professional athletes including Kurt Warner (formerly of the St. Louis Rams), current Cardinals' pitcher Jeff Suppan, Royals' first-baseman Mike Sweeney, as well as actress Patricia Heaton have created an advertisement to run during Wednesday’s World Series game (video here). In this one, the aforementioned speak out against Missouri’s Amendment 2, otherwise known as the Stem Cell Initiative.
Democratic control of the House, with the inevitable ensuing subpoenas and investigations, will be a "good thing," ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson declared on Sunday's This Week. During a roundtable discussion on how Republicans are trying to scare their base into voting by warning of how liberals will take over key committee slots if Democrats will the House, Donaldson predicted: "What we'll see is subpoenas, if they take control, and these subpoenas will delve into every nook and cranny of the Republican administration for the last six years." That prompted Cokie Roberts to point out: "Well, now you're doing the Republican talking points, because that is exactly what the administration is making people fear." Donaldson wondered: "Why do you think I'm saying it's a bad thing?" And he made clear: "I think it's probably a good thing."
If things continue like this, Katie Couric is going to be begging for her old job back, for in less than 48 hours, a second major newspaper has totally lambasted her performance as the anchor of the CBS Evening News. After yesterday’s drubbing by USA Today, New York’s Newsday stepped into the ring. Entertainment columnist Verne Gay pulled no punches (hat tip to TVNewser):
There is no urgency to this broadcast, no bite, no edge and - for the most part - no personality. It is often like a pudding pop for the toothless crowd. Too polite, too nice, too eager to please and too willing to leave viewers at the end of each show with a little smile or a little tear, most often courtesy of soft-news guy Steve Hartman.
I was a little stunned to hear one of leftist radio host Stephanie Miller's crew today hype that a new Newsweek poll shows 51 percent of Americans now favor impeaching George W. Bush. What? Perhaps they "learned" from the Daily Kos, which today tried this game of statistical wizardry: if 28 percent say impeaching Bush is a "top priority," 23 percent say it should be a lower priority, a stunning majority now "supports" impeachment. But the poll did not ask impeachment, yea or nay. Would an actual up-front question draw a lower number, since 23 percent chose an option that suggests "not so hot on that idea"?
Er, I mean Katie Couric. I guess the legendary perkiness doesn't extend to her reporting on the economy in this election season when pessimism is all the rage in the networks. Somehow I doubt it's because she's still a morning person struggling to deal with a later work shift:
Gas prices hit their lowest point since January and the Dow Jones closed on yet another record high, but on the October 24 evening newscast CBS’s Katie Couric colored her business briefing in red, focusing on Ford Motor Company’s (NYSE: F) quarterly loss and the five-year-old Enron scandal. Competitors ABC and NBC also noted the bleak news from Detroit, but tossed in positive business news items.
Couric set the tone announcing that Ford was “battling red ink and losing badly.”
Rosie O’Donnell took another vicious swipe at the Bush administration and its efforts to combat terrorism during Tuesday’s ‘The View.’ Liberal actor Tim Robbins appeared on the program to promote his latest film ‘Catch a Fire,’ set in apartheid-era South Africa. In the film, Robbins portrays a white police officer who tortures a black South African man, wrongfully accused of sabotage of an oil refinery. While discussing the film and his character, co-host Rosie O’Donnell equated the brutal tactics used against the people of South Africa by its own government with the Bush administration’s Patriot Act.:
Rosie O’Donnell: "They were seeking out terrorists, which is what they called the people in South Africa who actually lived there, who were the majority. The blacks in South Africa, who were trying to fight for their own civil rights, were called terrorists and the government was allowed to arrest them at will and interrogate them, no matter what they did, just on the suspicion. Very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act."
Like many who heavily invest themselves in staying current on national and international news, I can never understand why the traditional media fails to address some serious topics. For example, why do we never hear about Israel and the Peshmerga?
The Peshmerga, for those who have not closely followed reports on Iraq, are a military force of an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Kurdish troops. They make up the defensive structure of northern Iraq, or what some call Kurdistan. They also keep a tight security cap on the region, which is said to be the calmest area of that country.
Online publications such as the BBC News in its Newsnight e-zine wrote about these soldiers extensively on September 20, 2006, reporting “When the former Israeli special forces soldiers were sent to Iraq in 2004 they were told they would be disowned if discovered. Their role there was to train two groups of Kurdish troops.” The report went on to explain that one group of Pershmerga fighters were being trained to secure and defend the new Hawler International Airport near Erbil, while the other group was being trained for “special assignments”.
Whenever a writer for one of America's most influential newspapers states his or her opinions about liberal media bias, it should be brought to the attention of NewsBusters readers (unless, of course, said writer merely offers some variant of the lame, threadbare "we get complaints from both the right and the left, which tells me our coverage is balanced" argument).
Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten also occasionally writes long pieces for the paper's Sunday magazine. In a Monday web chat concerning Weingarten's admiring profile of Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau, a questioner charged that the Post ran that story and others in order to help the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. In today's chat, when the same questioner posted a good-humored follow-up, Weingarten addressed media bias in general terms (emphasis added):
This story is just rich. After the efforts of Oklahoma Republican senator James Inhofe have brought greater public scrutiny to the media's global warming hysteria, Newsweek has finally admitted that, yes, it had played a big role in hyping "global cooling" back in the 1970s.
Despite this, though, you should believe the magazine and all the rest of the media who previously tried to scare up circulation numbers by predicting a global ice age because, well, this time they're right:
1975, in an issue mostly taken up with stories about the collapse of
the American-backed government of South Vietnam, NEWSWEEK published a
small back-page article about a very different kind of disaster. Citing
"ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change
dramatically," the magazine warned of an impending "drastic decline in
food production." Political disruptions stemming from food shortages
could affect "just about every nation on earth." Scientists urged
governments to consider emergency action to head off the terrible
threat of . . . well, if you had been following the climate-change
debates at the time, you'd have known that the threat was: global
With all due respect to Rush (his rant is behind his firewall), Michelle Malkin (also at Hot Air in a vid with O'Reilly), Allah at Hot Air, and all the others who are justifiably "Venting" at CNN -- You're STILL missing a BIG, BIG point -- We aren't getting "the unvarnished truth" from our military, because they are constrained about issues relating to the safety of soldiers and their families HERE, IN THIS COUNTRY. Since they are limited in what they can show of our soldiers' exploits, it is incumbent on media outlets to be VERY restrained in what they will show of the enemy's.
Let me break it down as briefly as I can (more detail is at my post Sunday at BizzyBlog):