In case you're wondering, the postings today are a little light as the MRC staff recover from hangovers from last night's party.
The annual DisHonors Awards were held yesterday, an event "roasting the most outrageously biased liberal reporters of 2005."
900 people were in attendance, with such luminaries as Cal Thomas, Larry Kudlow, Mark Levin, Tony Blankley and Linda Chavez.
The Quote of the Year went to Ted Turner, founder of CNN, for his less-than-insightful analysis of North Korea.
Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."
Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?"
Turner: "Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met."
Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people."
Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but–"
Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."
Turner: "I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality...."
— Exchange on CNN’s The Situation Room, September 19.
CNN says it is just thrilled by the transformation of Lou Dobbs—formerly a mild-mannered news anchor noted for his palsy-walsy interviews with corporate CEOs—into a raving populist xenophobe. Ratings are up. It's like watching one of those "makeover" shows that turn nerds into fops or bathrooms into ballrooms. According to the New York Times, this demonstrates "that what works in cable television news is not an objective analysis of the day's events," but "a specific point of view on a sizzling-hot topic."
But Kinsley says being objective is not a real goal.
Objectivity—the faith professed by American journalism and by its critics—is less an ideal than a conceit. It's not that all journalists are secretly biased, or even that perfect objectivity is an admirable but unachievable goal. In fact, most reporters work hard to be objective and the best come very close. The trouble is that objectivity is a muddled concept. Many of the world's most highly opinionated people believe with a passion that it is wrong for reporters to have any opinions at all about what they cover. These critics are people who could shed their own skins more easily than they could shed their opinions. But they expect it of journalists. It can't be done. Journalists who claim to have developed no opinions about what they cover are either lying or deeply incurious and unreflective about the world around them. In either case, they might be happier in another line of work.
On Comedy Central's South Park cartoon Wednesday, the world's environment is threatened by the impossible smugness of those driving hybrid cars. (The smug clouds are biggest over San Francisco, naturally.) The danger passes only when the people of South Park mash their hybrid cars into little aluminum cubes. And, just for fun, the animators named their hybrid the "Pious," a knock on Toyota's "Prius."
Funny enough, but the very next morning on NBC's Today, reporter Tom Costello was lauding the wonders of efficient, low emission hybrid cars (as opposed to those awful SUVs) when he showcased a smug driver who sounded like a South Park gag. MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this part of NBC's report:
Tom Costello: "Betsy Rosenberg didn't always drive a hybrid car but after getting fed up with 15 mpg in her SUVs she traded them both in for a Toyota Prius and 50 mpg."
Betsy Rosenberg: "I decided this was something that I would do to protect my kid, my country, my planet and be patriotic. I think that's the patriotic thing to do is to use less gas and not more."
When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
The LA Times reports the "folks at third-place MSNBC have something to smile about."
For the first time in almost five years, the third-place cable news channel had a prime-time victory to crow about, albeit a small one: "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" beat CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" in the key 25- to 54-year-old advertising demographic in the first quarter of 2006, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The MSNBC show drew an average of 164,000 viewers in that demographic to CNN's 156,000, as Olbermann, who has been engaged in a colorful feud with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, enjoyed an increase of 25% in total viewers compared with this point last year.
In a conversation about gas mileage, Charles Gibson showed he does have some understanding of how when a pie gets bigger, predictions done with static scoring, instead of dynamic scoring, are wildly inaccurate. Unfortunately, he doesn’t apply the same common sense to the affect of tax cuts on the federal deficit.
On this morning’s "Good Morning America" Gibson quizzed GMA financial contributor Mellody Hobson about the new fuel efficiency standards, "Mellody, when you do the math, first of all, we've had increases in mileage requirements in the past and I don't know that it's done anything to break our addiction to foreign oil. And secondly, if you run the math, they're increasing the requirements by 2.4 miles per gallon for SUVs and light pickup trucks over five years. That's an 11 percent improvement over five years. That's not much, is it?"
Drudge links to an AP story about two national book chains who are apparently afraid of having their coffee bars blown up.
Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.
"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.
We saw in the 2000 election cycle that one way national reporters protected Democratic presidential contender Al Gore was to ignore wild or embarrassing things he said in public. The RNC and other Gore critics would play up his gaffes, but the media said "what gaffes"? If they did report the remarks, they didn’t find them overstated or wrong.
It’s not exactly 2008 yet, but the same trend looks to be happening with Sen. Hillary Clinton. She can claim that Republicans would need a "police state" to round up illegal immigrants, and then claim that Republicans would "literally criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself" in their anti-immigration zeal, and some media outlets didn’t notice either one of these outrages. On the hear-no-Hillary-gaffe list: CBS, NBC, National Public Radio, and USA Today. (Nexis search of "hillary and police state" and "hillary and jesus" through March 29.)
Some might say it wasn't necessarily my finest moment at NewsBusters when, back in December, I speculated that, reporting from a chilly Rockefeller Plaza, Today's Matt Lauer might have been wearing a Palestinian 'solidarity scarf.' See Keffiyeh-Gate?
At the time, I noted that:
So-called "Palestinian support scarves" have become items of radical fashion chic. Check out this web-site, which advertises "Palestinian support scarves," explaining:
"The traditional Palestinian headdress has become a symbol of support for the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation. From political rallies to talk shows, supporters of the Palestinian cause have begun donning this traditional scarf as a show of solidarity." [emphasis added]
Journalism.co.uk has an article about how blogs will force journalism to be more professional. Mediocre journalists who produce work inferior to that of bloggers will be cut, as there is no need to keep dross on the payroll. For years, mediocre journalists were sheltered by huge media companies and the lack of transparency.
Among older, traditional journalists there is often a palpable sense of newspaper protectionism: lightweight, predictable, and often just plain wrong assumptions about, and rejection of, the digital age, accompanied by a cosy nostalgia about the sticky, sour smell of the presses and the reassuring crumpliness of the papers they delivered as a lad.
It is an inevitable and very natural process of evolution to resist change, which is why it is refreshing to hear those digital realisations from Jon Snow: a man of, well, some experience.
Both Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and religion reporter Alan Cooperman covered the "War on Christians" conference Tuesday, but neither touched on one trend in Canada that American evangelicals are warning against: "hate crime" laws that make speech condemning homosexuality illegal. In 2004, the Canadian parliament passed such a law, as U.S. News columnist John Leo explained:
"Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country," Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada. Law Prof. David Bernstein, in his new book You Can't Say That! wrote that "it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex." Or traditional Jewish or Muslim opposition, too.
Kudos to CBS News and Lara Logan for undermining a widely reported incident in which U.S. soldiers supposedly killed innocent Iraqis inside a mosque. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Logan, who just three days earlier on CNN contemptuously dismissed as “outrageous” Laura Ingraham's criticism of Iraq war coverage for ignoring the courageous work of U.S. servicemen, relayed how “the U.S. says” those killed “were members of a militia responsible for executions and kidnappings who opened fire on elite Iraqi forces carrying out a raid early Sunday evening.” But, “many Iraqis believe they were innocent worshipers praying in a mosque who were slaughtered by American forces. Today the Iraqi commander in charge of that raid, whose identity we can't show for security reasons, told CBS News that was a lie." After soundbites from the Iraqi commander and a kidnap victim they rescued, Logan concluded with how the trouble facing Americans in Iraq is that Iraqis believe “another crime” was committed by Americans: “The American special operations troops who supported the Iraqis on this raid praised both their skill and their restraint. But the continuing problem for the U.S. is the public perception here that what happened Sunday was another crime committed by American forces.” (Transcript follows, plus Logan's attack on Ingraham)
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Wednesday night employed a nice euphemism for left-wing environmental groups (those “who care chiefly about our planet”) , thus without conveying any sense of their ideological agenda, he passed along their ridiculing of the Bush administration for not going far enough in hiking the miles per gallon (mpg) standards for SUVs. In leading with the announcement from the Transportation Department, Williams noted that SUVs “have been considered trucks” and thus “been able to duck the mileage rules for American cars.” Williams, who anchored from Washington, DC, presumably so he could attend the Radio-Television News Directors Association dinner, then relayed how “the folks here in Washington and elsewhere who care chiefly about our planet and the insatiable American need for energy, said these new standards will not, in fact, reduce our consumption of oil.”
Reporter Tom Costello soon highlighted how “environmental groups complain the biggest gas-guzzling pickups on the road are still exempt and mileage standards for both cars and light trucks should be much tougher: 40 miles per gallon, not 24." He concluded with the spin of the environmental groups: "The new standards will add about $200 to the average sticker price, but environmentalists wonder what the country is getting for the money.” (Partial transcript follows.)
No not even reviews of kids movies are free from a tinge of liberal bias at the Today show. During Gene Shalit's Critic's Corner the dorky mustached film critic couldn't help himself:
Gene Shalit: "Good morning and welcome to the Critic's Corner. Think global warming isn't real? Ask Manny the Mammoth, Diego the Tiger or Sid the Sloth. They first met in the animated hit Ice Age and they formed an unlikely herd. Now in Ice Age: The Meltdown they're fleeing floods of melting ice and the results are joyous.... Carlos Saldahna's direction and the smart three-scribe script makes this Ice Age very cool. The herd's happy 88 happy minutes will melt away your out-of-theater cares while attesting that global warming is no snow job. Audiences everywhere get ready! Here comes Ice Age: The Meltdown starring the herd shot 'round the world. And that's the Critic's Corner for this morning."
If you were surprised by the size of the recent pro-illegal immigration
demonstrations, don't be. Turns out, many demonstrators were there
after being instructed by Spanish-language media on where and how to protest:
The marching orders
were clear: Carry American flags and pack the kids, pick up your trash
and wear white for peace and for effect.
Many of the 500,000
people who crammed downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to protest
immigration legislation learned where, when and even how to demonstrate
from the Spanish-language media.
America, the mass protests in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities have
been surprising for their size and seeming spontaneity. But they were
organized, promoted or publicized for weeks by Spanish-language radio
On Tuesday, National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross" interviewed Fred Barnes of FNC and the Weekly Standard on his new book "Rebel In Chief." Gross began by asking Barnes if after the anti-Bush books by old Bush officials like Paul O'Neill and Bruce Bartlett, he set out to be a pro-Bush counterweight to those. (He said no.) NPR's website also posted an excerpt of the book, including Barnes reporting on an afternoon meeting with network anchors before the 2005 State of the Union address:
For now, though, the president has to attend an off-the-record lunch in the White House study adjacent to the State Dining Room. "Why do I have to go to this meeting?" Bush asks his communications director, Dan Bartlett. "It's traditional," Bartlett explains. Indeed, for years, the president has hosted the TV news anchors for lunch on the day of the State of the Union address. It's an invitation the anchors eagerly accept. Peter Jennings and George Stephanopoulos of ABC, Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams of NBC, Chris Wallace and Brit Hume of Fox, and Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff of CNN will be there. So will Dan Rather of CBS, magnanimously invited in spite of having sought to derail the president's reelection campaign by spotlighting four documents (later proved to be fabrications) that indicated Bush had used political pull to get into the Texas Air National Guard and avoid Vietnam duty, and that he had been honorably discharged without fully completing his service. (At the lunch, Rather will suddenly appear solicitous of Bush. "Thank you, Mr. President," he will say as he leaves. "Thank you, Mr. President." Bush will betray no hint of satisfaction.)
Rachel Swarns is a bit harshly reductive in her take on anti-illegal immigrant House Republicans in her Wednesday reflection billed as a “news analysis,” “Split Over Immigration Reflects Nation’s Struggle.”
“It is almost as if they are looking at two different Americas.
“The Senate Republicans who voted on Monday to legalize the nation's illegal immigrants look at the waves of immigration reshaping this country and see a powerful work force, millions of potential voters and future Americans.
“The House Republicans who backed tough border security legislation in December look at the same group of people and see a flood of invaders and lawbreakers who threaten national security and American jobs and culture.”
CBS's The Early Show dealt with the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card this morning, and, in the process, demonstrated again their lack of interest in presenting anything that might be beneficial to the President in a positive, or even a neutral, fashion. This attitude showed itself more, however, in the way that things were said, rather than in what exactly was said. There were the typical offhand accusations of insincerity, but most of the reporting was fairly straightforward. And the questions that Harry Smith asked of Mary Matalin were, for the most part, appropriate. But the tone and attitude that Smith displayed were not. (Windows Media video available here.)
The first piece was the news report on the resignation, from CBS' White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Of course Plante's report started, as most CBS reports on the President do, with emphasis on negatives.
The New York Times reports that CNN's Lou Dobbs is gaining viewers with his unceasing crusade against illegal immigration.
The nation's most prominent opponent of current immigration policy began his day yesterday on the "Today" show on NBC, debating a Hispanic defender of illegal immigrants. He moved on to "American Morning" on CNN to denounce a bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday as "an amnesty program."
By nightfall he was on a plane headed to Mexico, where he intended to assess critically the planned discussions on the issue between President Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico.