Air America Radio seemed rather unimpressed by the Zarqawi story out of Iraq this morning. I caught some of the opening minutes of the Stephanie Miller show today. They were playing clips of the Rose Garden Bush remarks and just mocking his accent. "He's extra-twangy today," mocked Miller. The show's impressionist started doing Bush in a William Buckley-esque Connecticut accent, implying the Texas talk is all phony.
Then they began joking "we're auditioning for a new boogey-man," as if Zarqawi was a phantom in a closet. (A caller later suggested Simon Cowell host the boogey-man auditions.) By 9:15, the show shifted back to automatic pilot, mocking Gary Bauer's appearance on Fox with John Gibson on opposition to "gay marriage." (They also mocked Tony Perkins on the same subject on Hardball.)
On the other end of the spectrum, Interviewed this morning on GMA, Richard Clarke - former White House advisor, turned author and bitter Bush-administration critic - scoffed at the significance of the killing of Zarqawi. Host Diane Sawyer was happy to second Clarke's emotion.
Sawyer: "First question has got to be this morning, is it any safer in Iraq and will the war end any sooner?"
Despite strong sales of their new album, ticket sales for the controversial Dixie Chicks’ upcoming tour have been very disappointing, so much so that some concert dates might be canceled. As reported by Reuters (hat tip to Drudge): “Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 per show in major markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted by Billboard. Venue capacities on the tour generally top 15,000.”
Sales are clearly below projections: “The plug was pulled on public on-sales for shows in Indianapolis (August 23), Oklahoma City (September 26), Memphis (September 27) and Houston (September 30) because of tepid pre-sales in a national promotion with Target stores.”
Despite the disappointments, there are cities which appear to support the Chicks’ political views (this is pretty funny):
Early AP dispatches from the press conference Nouri al-Maliki held this morning to announce the death of Zarqawi said these words were "drawing loud applause from reporters" there.
That didn't sound typical, and NBC's Richard Engel was more precise on Today this morning: "Spontaneous joy from Iraqi reporters gathered in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone." American reporters don't cheer American victories. They suggest this won't mean much in the long run.
NBC's Special Report around the president's remarks included analysis from Tim Russert -- in reality and in tone, the Democratic response. Russert threw several pitchers of cold water on the good news, saying people should remember the euphoria after capturing Saddam Hussein, and things didn't change much.
Good on Don Imus! On today's 'Imus in the Morning,' he called NBC reporter Mike Boettcher on his attempt to spin a bombing in Baghdad as a "not good" response to the killing of Zarqawi.
Here's how it went down. Boettcher was reporting from Baghdad and had this to say:
Boettcher: "Well, good morning, Don. We have the response here right now [to the Zarqawi killing], it’s not good. There have been, there has been another bombing. Thirteen people are dead in central Baghdad. So that is apparently the current reaction from the insurgents to Zarqawi's death."
Imus: "How do we know that's a reaction to that, Mike?"
Boettcher started to back down: "We don't know for sure, Don. You’re right, you’re absolutely right."
It's sad that within minutes of announcing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death, the network morning shows were already carrying criticism of the Bush administration. Not only did NBC invite Sen. Joe Biden to attack Bush incompetence (funny day for that!), ABC's Bill Weir reminded the audience that Zarqawi beheaded American Nicholas Berg, and then replayed Berg's left-wing dad saying at the time that he had no desire for his son's killers to be killed. Weir then reported that he spoke to Berg's father this morning, and he condemned the Zarqawi killing as part of an endless cycle of retribution.
UPDATE: MRC's Brian Boyd has the transcript, and it should be noted that Weir also found a more traditional victim's relative response:
You just knew it. The MSM had to find a way to downplay the significance of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Whereas he had been portrayed as the key to violence in the country, now that he's dead, he is described as just one among 'many thousands'.
And sure enough, on CNN this morning at about 6:20 AM, there was Octavia Nasr CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs, interviewed by host Soledad O'Brien, suggesting that Zarqawi's death might not really be such a 'big deal', after all. Nasr reported that beyond Al Qaeda, there are thousands of other, home-grown insurgent groups in Iraq, 'many' of which are more powerful that Al Qaeda.
"Experts we talk to all the time tell us to be very careful with the way we describe Al Qaeda in Iraq. They say they are the ones that get the most attention, especially from the U.S. media, the western media, but tell us there are many small insurgency groups in Iraq that are more powerful than Al Qaeda, the Zarqawi group. They tell us that there is a resistance in Iaq that is a bit different from the terror groups like Zarqawi's group. So percentage wise, I don't think anyone can put a number on that. But definitely the experts tell us that this is not a lone group in Iraq. There are many thousands more like it."
As the networks robotically followed the New York Daily News and its "Coulter Was Cruel" cover -- probably the best TV day for the Daily News since they put Newt Gingrich in diapers in the mid-90s -- they did not consider that some of the 9-11 widows she mocked were also champions of political trash talk.
It should go without saying that by writing in her new book that the widows were enjoying their husbands' deaths, Coulter didn't cross the line, she exploded it with a grenade. (On the other hand, these liberal widows drew hours of TV pundit time that many members of Congress will never see in their lifetimes.) Kristen Breitweiser, the most prominent Bush-trashing 9-11 widow, has sounded like a liberal version of Coulter at times on her huffing and puffing blog at the Huffington Post. For example, on April 5, after complaining that New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani shouldn’t be allowed to make a victim’s impact statement ("Which family member did Giuliani lose in the attacks?"), Breitweiser whacked the Bush administration with the snide stick:
On Tuesday, the day of the election in California's 50th Congressional District to replace imprisoned Republican Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the CBS Evening News ran a story touting a potential Democratic takeover of the seat as reporter Jerry Bowen described the race “as a referendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican President, whose popularity is sinking.” But after the Republican won, the newscast was silent about it Wednesday night. In fact, the morning after the vote, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer declared on The Early Show that despite the win by Republican Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby, the 49 to 45 percent victory is “a warning shot for Republicans.” Busby, however, got just one point more of the district's vote than did John Kerry in 2004.
Schieffer had set up CBS's Tuesday night story about the San Diego County race: "Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of Congress from the Republicans this year, and they're looking to a special election tonight for a sign that they may be right.” Jerry Bowen trumpeted how “when disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes, no one predicted what just may happen today as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold pick his replacement: That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, could emerge the winner." (Transcripts follow)
At a time when left-wing Bush-haters regularly call the President a “liar” and a killer, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night pegged stories to the controversy over Ann Coulter’s criticism of the very political 9/11 widows, with NBC anchor Brian Williams adding a nice touch by harkening back to Joe McCarthy as he promised a look at “why some are now asking, 'Have you no shame?'" But while the NBC Nightly News focused solely on Coulter, on ABC’s World News Tonight Jake Tapper suggested “our democracy has always been messy and vulgar” and he cited some anti-Bush slams.
The opening teaser from Williams: "And is it crossing the line? A conservative author's attack on 9/11 widows. This time, has the debate in this country just gone too far?" Williams set up the last story of his newscast by pleading: “Just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line.” Reporter Mike Taibbi turned to the media’s favorite conservative-basher, David Gergen, to answer whether Coulter had “gone too far?” Over on ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson cited the “uproar” over Coulter, but conceded “there is a lot of what passes for commentary these days on both sides of the political spectrum that many people find despicable.” Tapper cited how the New York State Comptroller referred to putting “a bullet between the President's eyes” and how Harry Belafonte charged that Bush is “no better” than Osama bin Laden. (Transcripts follow)
Every now and then, a storyline for an article hits you that it is so comical it makes it difficult to type between the laughter. This is one of them.
Drudge is reporting (hat tip from reader Sarcasmo) that former vice president Al Gore’s name has been omitted from the posters that advertise his new film: “Former Vice President Al Gore's name is nowhere to be found on PARAMOUNT's poster campaign for the new 'global warming' movie 'AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.'"
Stopped laughing yet? Well, here’s another punch line: “‘It's not a political movie,’ a top source at PARAMOUNT explained, offering no other explanation on why Gore's name does not appear, even in the film's credits on the poster.”
That’s worth a replay, isn’t it (emphasis mine): “It’s not a political movie.”
There’s an old saying in business: money talks and, well, something that comes out of a male cow walks. In the case of Google, it appears that dollar signs, regardless of the foreign or domestic nature of the currency involved, have been more important than principle in some of its business dealings.
To be more specific, one of Google’s co-founders has admitted that his company caved in to demands from Chinese leaders to censor information available through its search engine to Chinese citizens in exchange for, well, yuan…which is dollars to you and me. As reported by the Associated Press: “Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin acknowledged Tuesday the dominant Internet company has compromised its principles by accommodating Chinese censorship demands.”
As Dorfman said in “Animal House,” boy this is great!
The article continued: “Google's China-approved Web service omits politically sensitive information that might be retrieved during Internet searches, such as details about the 1989 suppression of political unrest in Tiananmen Square. Its agreement with China has provoked considerable criticism from human rights groups.”
Curiously, this seems to go against one of the “Ten things Google has found to be true” as expressed in its corporate philosophy statement: “You can make money without doing evil.”
Rick Kaplan, who as reported earlier by Matthew Sheffield, announced his departure Wednesday from MSNBC where he’d run the least-watched cable news network as its President since February of 2004, has a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton and hostility to conservatives -- as well as admiration for Dan Rather combined with condescension for conservative critics of Dan Rather -- during his career with ABC News, CNN and MSNBC. The AP’s David Bauder on Wednesday night noted “speculation” that Kaplan “might be a candidate to run Good Morning America” now that the ABC show's Executive Producer, Ben Sherwood, “announced five days ago he was stepping down.”
At the News and Documentary Emmy Awards presented by the National Television Academy at a September 19, 2005 ceremony, Kaplan asserted that "Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate" during his career. Kaplan then lashed out: "When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful." Kaplan went so far to declare that Rather's "legacy" is "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to." Check this October 4 NewsBusters posting for a full transcript accompanied by a video clip in Real and Windows Media formats.
Hillary Clinton has bashed Ann Coulter for her "vicious, mean-spirited" attack on 9/11 widows who criticize President Bush.
Coulter had said in her book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," that the group acts "as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them," and that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
MSNBC president Rick Kaplan has resigned from the network. TVNewser is on top of all the latest developments. Here's Kaplan's fairwell note:
I want to let you all know that today I'm leaving MSNBC. It is not
often in professional life that someone has the opportunity to end his
tenure on such a high note. I couldn't be more proud of the progress
we've made together over the last 2 and a half years.
we've increased MSNBC's viewership 25% in primetime and 19% in dayside.
Over just the last year, we've had great success across the board, with
Hardball and Countdown coming into their own. All of our primetime
programs have improved tremendously in their production and content.
Together we had a great election year in '04 and you're poised to
improve on that excellence this fall.
Fox News Channel's Geraldo Rivera came out in favor of same-sex marriage on the June 5 edition of his syndicated Geraldo At Large. Throughout the show, Rivera teased his final commentary proclaiming: "25 years after the discovery of AIDS is this the time to ban gay marriage?....The gay community takes another hit, 25 years to the very day that AIDS first ravaged their community." At the end of the show, Rivera chastised the President and advocated same-sex marriage as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS:
Rivera: "Exactly 25 years ago today federal officials first warned gay men that five homosexuals in Los Angeles had contracted a rare form of pneumonia. The disease that became AIDS was largely spread initially by the promiscuous, sometimes drug-fueled sex exemplified by the gay bathhouses where an uninformed generation contracted the disease that ultimately killed tens of thousands of them and many millions of others here and around the world. Beginning soon after the outbreak responsible voices began an aggressive campaign to educate young men raised in the era of those anonymous sexual contacts of the grave dangers involved. Public service announcements and information campaigns were launched. Red ribbons were also worn in sympathy as one after another public figure like actors Rock Hudson and Brad Davis, Queen’s Freddie Mercury and tennis great Arthur Ashe were diagnosed, some succumbing to the disease. While they are not all gay and may have contracted the disease in other ways like bad blood transfusions the majority got AIDS through sex. The recognition of that scary fact led to profound changes in social conduct. Most bathhouses were closed or closely regulated. Safe sex became a mantra. And something even more profound happened, marriage, where at least solid, stable relationships began replacing promiscuous sex as the norm in the gay community. Which is why on the 25th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic the current efforts to breathe life back into the amendment to ban gay marriage seems so counterproductive and blatantly anti-social."
The New York Times isn’t the only media outlet to try to find signs of GOP defeat in the midst of Brian Bilbray’s Republican victory in a San Diego special election for Congress. CBS reporter Jerry Bowen carried a sense of Democrat Francine Busby’s moral victory throughout his story on The Early Show this morning. Bowen began:
"In the end, California’s closely watched 50th District stayed Republican...When disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars of bribes, no one predicted what just might happen as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold picked his replacement...That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, even had a chance."
CBS’s Early Show co-hosts, in the wake of the June 6 loss in a special congressional election, did the best they could to put a positive spin on the fortunes of Democrats. Co-host Hannah Storm interviewed Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer at 7:11AM EDT about yesterday’s election. The Democratic candidate lost, but that didn’t stop Schieffer from prognosticating what this event signified for the future:
Schieffer: "So, who knows what's going to happen? But this has to be a sign to Republicans that they, they might lose the House, I think. I mean, not just, I'm not just saying this, this particular race....But I think this is just one more sign that you might see something happen this time."
Now, keep in mind, this is a race that the Republicans won. A victory that was achieved despite the media’s constant parroting of the Democratic "culture of corruption" talking points.
In a report on Wednesday's American Morning, CNN entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson reported on the deal between People magazine and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt over the exclusive rights to the photos of the couple’s daughter, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. During her report, Anderson made this rather strange analogy between the birth of Jolie-Pitt and Jesus Christ:
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s newborn baby finally arrived on May 27th. Her name, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Some biblical references define Shiloh as, quote, ‘generally understood as denoting the Messiah.’ And perhaps not since Jesus has a baby’s arrival been so eagerly anticipated, at least in some circles.
Perhaps Anderson was attempting to be witty with her remark, having explained the biblical connection to the name Shiloh. Still, one wonders how the arrival of Pitt and Jolie’s child is different from any number of other high-profile births: Britney Spears’ son Sean Preston, Julia Roberts’ twins Hazel and Phinneaus, and of course, who can forget the earthshaking arrival of Suri Cruise?
The Nation magazine is trying to soft sell the election in California's 50th District of Republican Brian Bilbray who is now replacing disgraced Republican, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. And they aren’t the only one’s trying to blow off the importance to the Democratic Party’s immediate future at the polls that this election might portend.
"Busby lost to Republican Brian Bilbray in a special election last night by 49 to 45 percent, in (a) heavily Republican district(s)."
But this claim of a "heavily Republican district" is not really the correct, up-to-date analysis of the district's voting trends.
50th District polling results over last week of the race show that the numbers did not move very much between Busby and Bilbray, but it does show one thing clearly. The district was competitive in that the candidates were never separated by more than 10 points most of the time.