We've often noted here at NewsBusters how the press seems to consider itself entitled to some right to know things before others. The White House press corps seems yet to recover that it wasn't the first be alerted about Vice President Cheney's shooting accident, for instance.
But this attitude is not limited to just the American media. Canadian blogger Kate Werk notes a similar arrogance in the press of her country which is upset that recently elected Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper isn't immediately telling who he's picking for his new cabinet. This arrogant attitude began during the tenure of the last Conservative PM, Brian Mulroney:
When Brian Mulroney won his landslide majority in 1984, a talking
head (whose identity I've forgotten) announced to the nation that in
the face of such a one sided parliament, the media would assume the role of opposition .
That was a signal that something was about to go desperately wrong,
and it did. The Canadian people had already spoken as to what voices
they wanted in parliament. The Ottawa press gallery weren't on the
ballot, yet they declared themselves elected, and they've by and large
behaved like pompous, entitled Liberal senators with a broadcast
license ever since.
Is it just coincidence? Barely a week after new media from Rush Limbaugh [subscripton required] to this column found the Today show appearance of NY Times foreign-affairs maven Thomas Friedman noteworthy, Today had him back again this morning. Could the new media be driving news choices at the antique?
In any case, while the ostensible purpose of Friedman's appearance was to discuss President Bush's current trip to India, his most interesting comments came in relation to Iraq and by extension to the entire Middle East. His notion: the path from dictatorship to democracy in the region necessarily passes through a period of fundamentalist religious rule.
Wednesday’s Early Show on CBS carried a segment on Iraq emblazoned with the headline “Iraq Civil War.” The worry that Iraq is about to tip over into an all-out fight between the Sunnis and the Shiites has been thick in the media since terrorists bombed an important Shiite mosque a week ago. As CBS anchor Bob Schieffer announced that night (February 22): “One of the worst days ever in Iraq, and it’s Iraqis against Iraqis. A Middle East expert tells us the country has been plunged into civil war.”
But while there’s been a definite uptick in violence and death in the week since the mosque bombing, the “civil war” scenario has failed to materialize. On FNC’s Your World with Neil Cavuto earlier this afternoon, a panel discussed whether notions of an imminent Iraq “civil war” are a grim reality, or a media myth. Former CBS and NBC reporter Marvin Kalb spoke for the rest of the liberal establishment: "What is going on in Iraq now is deadly, serious stuff. People are dying there....This is not a myth. This is what is happening and the American people deserve to know the truth.”
Well, if Iraq’s future matches the current prognostications from the liberal media, it’s purely a matter of coincidence. Pessimistic media mavens have been fretting about a “civil war” since shortly after the coalition liberated Baghdad in April 2003. A brief review:
CBS reporter Jim Axelrod on Wednesday night described how “this is what awaited Mr. Bush upon his highly-publicized arrival in India: Tens of thousands turned out to protest America's presence in the Islamic world.” Also from New Delhi, NBC's David Gregory relayed how, over video of crowds and a few men around a burning effigy of Bush, “Mr. Bush has already been met by large anti-U.S., anti-war protests.” But while ABC's Martha Raddatz noted how Bush's “warm reception in Afghanistan stood in stark contrast to the scene when the President arrived later in India,” where “tens of thousands of demonstrators, mostly Muslim, lined the streets,” she pointed out what Axelrod and Gregory skipped: “Despite the demonstrations, the President has a strong approval rating here in India, roughly 70 percent."
Actually, the “2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey,” posted again Tuesday, “found that about seven-in-ten Indians (71%) have a favorable view of the United States,” not Bush, and that “while U.S. favorability ratings have plunged in many countries, Indians are significantly more positive about the United States now than they were in the summer of 2002.” As for Bush personally, the Pew poll discovered that he's “widely admired” in India where “just over half (54%)...say they have a lot or some confidence that Bush will generally do the right thing in world affairs, a significantly higher percentage than in any other country except his own.” (Transcripts, and more on the Pew poll, follow.)
A telephone tipster made a very interesting point to us today about The Washington Post. In the midst of their coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and a Vermont campaign-finance limit case, the Post found no room Wednesday for the pro-life win in NOW v. Scheidler. (That's the case where NOW tried to have clinic protesters charged under a mob-racketeering statute.) The Post could argue that the case is a bit of a rerun: the court dismissed it in 2003, only to have a federal judge keep the case alive like a zombie. But the court ruled 8 to 0 and the feminists were routed in the opinion by none other than liberal Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer. USA Today published a fairly prominent, thorough piece Wednesday on Page A-4.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News devoted about 20 seconds to anchor Russ Mitchell highlighting how “it was revealed today” -- as if it were some kind of cover-up being exposed -- “that the [Supreme] Court's newest member, Justice Samuel Alito, sent a personal thank you note to a conservative Christian leader who supported his nomination.” Mitchell then identified that recipient as James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, and stressed how he “is a leading opponent of abortion.” What did Alito write that CBS considered so newsworthy? Mitchell relayed: “Dobson read the note in his radio program today, quoting Alito as saying he appreciated those who prayed for him and he'll remember the 'trust' that's been placed in him." But a reading of the actual letter (reprinted below) suggests Dobson just got a form letter Alito sent to all of those who congratulated him on his confirmation, not a coded commitment to Dobson's agenda on abortion.
Neither ABC or NBC mentioned the matter on their Wednesday night newscasts, but that could just be due to the AP not distributing a dispatch on it until late in the day. The AP's Colleen Slevin allowed a Supreme Court spokesman to explain how the same language appeared, in Slevin's words, “in many replies he wrote to congratulatory letters." Slevin, however, felt compelled to consider potential improprieties, turning to a professor who “said Alito's letter did not appear to violate ethical standards,” before she related how “Americans United for Separation of Church and State called the letter 'grossly inappropriate.'” (More from the AP story, the text of the letter and CBS's item in full, all follow.)
Former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas gave an interview to Campus Progress, the campus project of the liberal Center for American Progress. Her theme, unsurprisingly, was that the Washington press corps is a bulk pack of weenies:
Starting after 9/11, they rolled over and played dead—they were so afraid of being called unpatriotic and un-American and they thought the American people were watching on television. They lost their guts and they did a lousy job. It was so clear, for two years, that President Bush wanted to go to war. Every day on the podium in the press room, we heard Ari Fleischer and then Scott McClellan say in one breath, “9/11—Saddam Hussein—9/11—Saddam Hussein—9/11—.” So later on when they said, no, Saddam Hussein had no links with them it was a little late in the game.
When asked if Hollywood is liberal (culturally or politically), whether it's outside the American mainstream, or attempting to drag it to the left, two big stars told CNN's Larry King no. On Monday night, MRC's Megan McCormack noticed that Jon Stewart, preparing to emcee the Oscars, said the idea that Hollywood is liberal and getting in the face of conservatives is not a real issue:
Male caller: "Hello. I was wondering, regarding the, the cultural war we have between Republicans and Hollywood, how Jon feels this year’s crop of nominees and the films that Hollywood chooses to celebrate, is that Hollywood thumbing it’s nose at Republicans, or does it give a kind of vindication to the Republican party, and possibly allow some backlash? Could Hollywood find, in a time when censorship’s becoming a real issue again, could it hurt ‘em?"
Minnesota ABC affiliate KSTP continues to defend its refusal to run an ad from the conservative group Progress for America which says the American news media is witholding good news about the war in Iraq.
"The first spot had two statements that
implied the media intentionally withheld good news and intentionally
distorted reporting from Iraq. We know that's not true about KSTP. So
we declined to run the ad," station general manager Rob Hubbard is quoted as saying in a Chicago Tribune article which gives a good background on the controversy.
Are the "Midwest Heroes" (ads viewable here) set to become the Swiftboat Veterans of 2006?
The Columbia Missourian reported on CBS's on-air apology for using a fake photograph on "48 Hours."
CBS News issued a public apology at the end of Saturday’s “48 Hours” episode and on the newsmagazine’s Web site for altering a photo on the front page of The Columbia Daily Tribune. The photo was shown during a “48 Hours” segment about the conviction of Ryan Ferguson for the murder of Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.
Henry J. Waters III, publisher of the victimized Tribune, took CBS to task for its "show business masquerading as journalism."
In an interview with NPR's "On The Media," former ABC reporter Dave Marash, now signed up for the English-language version of al-Jazeera, goes almost faint singing the praises of his new employer:
Al-Jazeera in Arabic is, I believe, one of the most revolutionary and positive influences on the Arabic-speaking, mostly Islamic Middle Eastern world in, literally, centuries. It has opened up public discourse and it has brought American standards of reporting to an area that previously had nothing but really moronically state-controlled television and news operations.
Is Chris Matthews rooting for civil war in Iraq? It's hard to interpret his words otherwise when, after asserting that officials in previous administrations and former President Bush had warned that going into Iraq would lead to civil war, Matthews observed:
"The problem is it took a little time for this to take shape."
"The problem," Chris?
Matthews' hoping for the worst was just the capper on the Bush-bashing fest he conducted with Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show. Those nature documentaries of vultures on the Serengeti plain have little on the way Matthews and Lauer went after President Bush's political bones.
NewsBuster Tom Johnson has condensed his time reviewing NPR broadcasts for MRC (poor man) into an article for The American Enterprise magazine. His general theory is that NPR has traveled from a fairly radical past to a present in which it's fairly indistinguishable in its biases from the rest of the "mainstream" media establishment. Here's an excerpt:
Most old-school or throwback leftist bias on NPR falls into one of three categories, listed below in ascending order of importance.
The first contains examples of a frequently amusing sociopolitical exoticism. In October 2004, for example, All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block referred to Ralph Nader as a "major" Presidential candidate. A few days after the election, reporter Pam Fessler gave "international monitors" plenty of time to gripe about how voting rules in the U.S. vary from state to state.
Much is being made about the Zogby poll released today that allegedly shows a mutiny of the military in Iraq. Nicholas Kristof has a hard time containing his excitement in The New York Times:
A poll to be released today shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq — and soon.
Editor & Publisher then jumps on the bandwagon and trumpets Kristof's declaration with the headline:
Kristof: Poll Finds U.S. Troops in Iraq Urge Pullout
Overwhelminglywant out soon? Urge pullout? Sounds like a pretty strong indictment on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. But things may not actually be as they appear... or as Kristof and the Democrats want them to appear.
Objectivity shows up in the funniest places on TV news. Take, for example, the latest taped message from Osama bin Laden, where the architect of 9/11 spits in America’s face by comparing the "criminality" of the American military to that of Saddam Hussein. The TV networks repeated this robotically, without comment. Far be it from them to pass judgment.
On the morning shows, they merely passed along Osama’s message of moral equivalence, reading it with no attempt to rebut it, rethink it, or reject it. On the evening news, Osama’s Uncle-Sam-same-as-Saddam message wasn’t treated as a stinging lie about our forces. It was, instead, forced through the same well-worn storyline: It’s more proof that the plotters of the Iraq war were wrong to connect Saddam to al-Qaeda.
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell insisted that "On its face, that would seem to contradict the administration's pre-war claims of a link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda." CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asserted: "It sounds like Osama didn't like Saddam any more than we do." Apparently, there’s no lower way to insult Saddam Hussein than to compare him to the U.S. military.
The media has demonstrated that it is one sided in its reporting. This has been obvious since President Bush took office in 2001. There have been reports and more reports that prove the biased reporting of television and print media. The public has had enough and a new campaign against bias in the media has started.
But… it is not conservatives that are up in arms about the bias in reporting. Shockingly it is one of the most liberal organizations planning protests about the media. United for Peace and Justice, led by avowed Socialist Leslie Cagan has teamed up with Media Channel.org to focus on “media complicity in the Iraq war.” According to press releases and articles spanning the left side of the Internet, UFPJ “is broadening its anti-war protest to include targeting a US media system that has largely substituted jingoism for journalism and backed the war – often in the name of supporting the troops.” Imagine that – the liberals believe that the reporting of the Iraq war has been too positive.
MRC's Mike Rule passed along to me that NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg explained on the weekend chat show "Inside Washington" how she doesn't root for American wins at the Olympics: "I sort of like other countries to win a fair number of medals, it’s supposed to be an international competition, and it’s nice when other countries win. I don’t root for us particularly."
This is more proof that the liberal media are out of step with most Americans, who love to wave their flags and root for Apolo and Sasha and Shani and Chad and so on to win the gold. But Totenberg is not alone. In 2002, CBS and NBC anchors were extremely agitated at the thought of American "nationalism" ruining the games in Salt Lake City:
Catching up with a story from Sunday night, ABC devoted a piece to lamenting the apathy at Kent State, a hotbed of anti-Vietnam war protests, toward the war in Iraq. Reporter Geoff Morrell passed along an all too common smear of war supporters as he contended that "many are reluctant to speak out against it for fear of being called unpatriotic." In his World News Tonight piece, Morrell fretted that the "indifference" toward the war "is surprising at this school, a hotbed of anti-war protests during Vietnam, and still popular with liberals." Comments from left-wing students dominated Morrell's piece, such as one who charged: "It's an act of modern day imperialism, where America is going to other countries and moving, trying to expand its borders to take over other countries and use them for economic resources." Morrell even found a vet, who "fought in Iraq and Afghanistan," who became "totally disillusioned." The vet-turned-student declared: "I think it's an unjust war." Morrell touted how "the 25 year-old enrolled at Kent State, hoping he could reinvigorate its anti-war movement," but he disappointingly found only apathy. (Transcript follows.)
Harry Belafonte spoke at the State of the Black Union on February 25. The event, which took place in Houston, saw Mr. Belafonte provide this definition of terror. He opined:
"Sending young men and young women, sons and daughters from America, to murder people in other nations is an act of terror."
The aging pop singer also wondered aloud whether Osama bin Laden was, in fact, guilty of masterminding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (Click here to see the entire speech. Belafonte’s more incendiary comments begin at the one hour and 17 minute mark.)