Though they pointed out how there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, the ABC and NBC anchors on Friday night, in noting her decision to resign from the cabinet, nonetheless raised links between her and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. ABC's Elizabeth Vargas cited only one accomplishment of her tenure, but hardly in praise if it: “She made it easier for companies to drill for oil and gas on federal land in the West, drawing criticism from environmentalists.” Vargas then added how “her agency has been entangled in the scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but she has not been implicated."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams announced how President Bush “accepted today the resignation of the Secretary of the Interior, who insists tonight she is not leaving because of her department's associations with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Williams soon asked reporter David Gregory: “How is it that her resignation late today raised the specter or the name of Jack Abramoff?" With the photo on screen, Gregory reported how “there was a picture that surfaced recently” which showed “Jack Abramoff and Secretary Norton after a meeting with some Indian tribes.” Gregory, however, related that “a Senate committee did establish ties between the lobbyist Abramoff and top deputies to Gale Norton,” but “that same panel has found no connection, or no proof, that she knew of those connections.” So why bring up the subject? (Transcripts follow.)
In the last couple of weeks, a CBS News poll found approval for President Bush at “an all-time low of 34 percent” and an ABC News/Washington Post survey pegged Bush's approval at “a new career low” of 41 percent. Without a presidential approval poll of its own with which to batter Bush, anchor Brian Williams led Friday's NBC Nightly News with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent. For some context here, that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.”
A week and a half ago, on the February 27 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer trumpeted how “a CBS News poll out tonight shows the President's job approval rating has fallen seven points since the hurricane to an all-time low of 34 percent.” A week and a day later, on Tuesday of this week (March 7), on ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asserted: "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the President's overall performance rating now stands at 41 percent.” (Transcript follows of how Williams opened Friday's NBC Nightly News.)
During the 5pm hour of this evening’s The Situation Room, CNN senior national correspondent John Roberts devoted a portion of his report from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference [SRLC] in Memphis, Tennessee to highlight one potential GOP presidential candidate that most people have likely never heard of. Roberts set up the exchange with Dr. Mark Kline in the live portion of his report:
John Roberts: "His name is Dr. Mark Kline. He’s a psychiatrist from California who is launching an exploratory campaign for president."
Shortly thereafter, the taped exchange between Roberts and Kline was shown:
Roberts: "So, Dr. Kline, you’re–you’ve launched an exploratory committee here for president. What do you, what do you think of the current administration?"
Dr. Mark Kline: "I think this is actually the worst administration I’ve ever seen in my entirelife."
United States officials announced yesterday that the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq will be closing in a few months. This gave NBC yet another excuse to show a montage of the famous abuse photos. Mike Boettcher, appearing at 7:06AM EST on the March 10 edition of Today, described the planned closing this way:
Boettcher: "During Saddam Hussein's reign and later under U.S. occupation, Abu Ghraib became perhaps the world's most notorious prison. Photographs of prisoner abuse by American guards at Abu Ghraib sparked an international scandal." (Pictures of abused prisoners overlap Boettcher’s comments.)
So it wasSaddam Hussein and the United States that made the prison notorious? A naked pyramid may be bad, but it’s not the same as brutal murder.
Friday’s Good Morning America devoted a segment to something called "bubble-sitting" in which homeowners sell their home, rent an apartment and hope for real estate prices to decline so they can buy back into the market at a lower price. Charlie Gibson was about to explain why he prefers owning to renting when GMA’s real estate contributor, Barbara Corcoran, zinged the modest Gibson.
Charlie Gibson: "I must say I'm an advocate of ownership, because I think there's a certain--"
Barbara Corcoran: "That's because you're rich, you can buy a good home. (laughter) It's true."
U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a website designed to debunk claims made in the "Da Vinci Code" book and upcoming movie with Tom Hanks. The "Code" claims that Jesus married and had a bloodline that lived on after his death.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a new website refuting key claims made in Dan Brown's novel that are likely to be brought to the big screen in Howard's movie, starring Tom Hanks.
"'The Da Vinci Code' is a mess, a riot of laughable errors and serious misstatements. Almost every page has at least one of each," the bishops wrote on the website Jesusdecoded.com.
The news just keeps getting worse for those who publish it. Editor & Publisher is reporting (hat tip to Drudge) that the Washington Post is about to cut 80 jobs from its newsroom: “The Washington Post plans to cut at least 80 newsroom jobs through attrition and buyouts, according to sources at the paper who said editors began giving staffers the bad news on Thursday in meetings and will continue today.”
Apparently, this move isn’t the only one the Post is considering to save money: “Other cost cuts also are being rumored, including the eventual closing of at least two foreign bureaus and changes to some other overseas bureaus that would have staffers working out of their homes.”
In Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten's weekly online chat this past Tuesday, a poster asked Gene to assess "the George Will [column that] made the claim that conservatives have happier lives than liberals."
I think [Will] was right, though I wouldn't have quite as smug about it as he was.
I think it is easier to be a conservative. You do not have to think as much, beause issues are more black and white. That delivers a sense of general contentment, because the world seems more orderly.
A new law in South Dakota outlawing most abortions is the apparent trigger for Friday’s laudatory New York Times “Public Lives” profile by Robin Finn of new Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards (“Anti-Abortion Advocates? Bring ‘Em On, Texan Says”).
Adhering to common practice for the liberally slanted “Public Lives,” Finn portrays Richards as a heroine battling ruthless and vindictive forces.
Mexican smugglers into the U.S. have found a good way to silence newspapers and keep them from reporting on their wrongful acts: threaten them with death. (It's not clear how the Democrats do it.)
In the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (Laredo is on the U.S. side across the Rio Grande) two state police were shot by border smugglers in the town close to the crucial I-35 corridor that goes from Mexico to Canada.
All the local papers received threats and decided to shun the story. The deaths received less than 200 words buried in each paper.
"The reality is that we're in a situation where there is no freedom to publish," said one anonymous editor to the San Antonio Express-News. "When all of the papers are (burying) it in the same way, something is going on."
If ever Congress might have thought it was in for some Perky-One praise, it was this morning. After all, the kids on the Hill had just dealt President Bush a humiliating defeat on the ports deal, while safeguarding our terminals from those fanatical furriners.
But - surprise! - Katie came not to praise Congress, but to bury it.
Interviewing Tim Russert, Couric quickly turned the talk to the fact that "only 5% of the cargo coming into this country is checked. It might be one of the biggest national security threats we face as a nation in terms of terrorist attacks."
Katie then unloaded her shot in the guise of a question about Congress:
"Do they look feckless and misdirected by obsessing so much on this [UAE] issue and not perhaps looking at the big picture?"
How is anyone supposed to view Reuters as an unbiased and objective news agency when it publishes photos like this?
As you can see, the word "Retire" is perfectly framed behind the head of Vice President Dick Cheney. It just seems too "perfect" for this to be called an "accident." How much more evidence does one need to see that the MSM is simply downright hostile to this administration?
The CBS Evening News on Thursday night used President Bush's signing of the Patriot Act renewal as a chance to run a full story on, as anchor Bob Schieffer worded it, “a Texas couple that blames the Patriot Act for ruining their marriage.” Really. Schieffer had first noted how “the new law does include some additional protections for civil liberties,” but “some critics still don't like it.” Reporter Kelly Cobiella looked at the plight of the wife of Mahmoud Alafyouny, who “has been in prison for two years but never charged with a crime. He's a Palestinian fighting deportation back to Jordan because the Department of Homeland Security says he's a terrorist and a danger to national security." Rae Alafyouny, a TSA agent, must drive four hours to visit the prison holding her husband who “raised money for the Palestine Liberation Organization.” Cobiella relayed how his ACLU attorneys “argue it's a double standard” since “the U.S. government has given the PLO's successor, the Palestine Authority, $1.3 billion since 1993.” But there's a big difference between government policy toward a foreign entity -- in this case money to try to maintain a stable society and reduce terrorist attacks on Israelis -- and what individuals are allowed to do. (Transcript follows.)
In further evidence of just how out of touch Hollywood is, the AFP is reporting (hat tip to Drudge) that total worldwide movie ticket sales declined by 7.9 percent in 2005. In North America, the decline was 6 percent.
Potentially more telling from this survey done by the Motion Picture Association of America was what kinds of films moviegoers are interested in: “Most movie-goers in 2005 went out to catch family films, with movies rated PG-13, meaning that children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, accounting for 85 percent of the most watched films in 2005.”
For some time now, Chris Matthews has played the leitmotif of a "second-rate second term" at the White House. When on this evening's Hardball he invited Margaret Carlson to whack the Bush pinata, there were embarrassing consequences for the toothy ex-Time editor, now languishing at Bloomberg News.
Matthews tried his best to tee it up for Carlson:
"Margaret, I look at a pattern of events and they come out of people's mouths, conservatives, liberals, whatever: Katrina - competence question. That nomination for the Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, and now the ports issue. Is there a pattern of not being on base as we say in baseball, being caught off base by the President?"
While CBS has its guru Michael "Clinton Rocks" O'Hanlon, ABC's "Good Morning America" today used another current hot morning pundit in New York Times columnist Thomas "In the Tank for Ethanol" Friedman. MRC's Brian Boyd noticed that when asked how Iran could punish America, Friedman grew positively giddy thinking about the whopping economic depression they could give us:
Charles Gibson: "When Iran threatens harm and pain what can they do necessarily? I mean, are they talking about restricting oil sales and cutting off oil and perhaps driving the price of oil up? Are they talking about causing more problems in Iraq for the United States, what?"
Who is Michael O’Hanlon? Viewers of "The Early Show" on CBS may think he is the preeminent expert on the Middle East and Islam. For everyone else, he is a senior fellow at the left leaning Brookings Institution who has praised President Clinton’s "strong defense record." This morning marked his fifth appearance on the program since January 26 of this year, that’s 5 appearance in 31 possible weekdays, and all times he was interviewed by Harry Smith. O’Hanlon has been Smith’s go to guy on matters such as the Palestinian elections which brought Hamas to power, the controversy over the Danish cartoons, the ports deal with the United Arab Emirates, and most recently on the Iranian nuclear situation.
Just three weeks until the MRC's annual "DisHonors Awards." This year they will be held Thursday, March 30 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Seats are $250.00 each. Since the MRC is paying for this blog, I've decided that I'm allowed to post this plug -- but I'm also alerting everyone to the opportunity to attend a very popular event made possible by the MRC.
It's always a fun evening where we turn the tables on the press corps and play video clips on big screens to mock and laugh at their biased reporting. Last year we ended up oversold, and though we've moved to a bigger venue this year to accommodate a larger crowd, it would be wise to buy very soon. (Purchasing details, and look at past galas, follow.)
James J. Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said he is not surprised by the poll's results. Politicians, authors and media commentators have demonized the Arab world since 2001, he said.
Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, agreed, saying Americans "have been given the message to respond this way by the American political elite, mass media and by select special interests."
Cole said he was shocked when a radio talk show host asked him if Islamic extremists would set off a nuclear bomb in the United States in the next six months. "It was ridiculous. I think anti-Arab racism and profiling has become respectable," he said.
And the Katrina-blame game goes on. Today’s participants were country music stars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. During a news conference on Thursday, the couple began lashing out over the “slow” response to the hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast last August. And, of course, President Bush was right in the crosshairs.
As reported by ABC News (with a hat tip to Drudge): “Faith Hill and Tim McGraw — two stars who usually stay out of politics — blasted the Hurricane Katrina cleanup effort, with Hill calling the slow progress in Louisiana and Mississippi ‘embarrassing’ and ‘humiliating.’”
The article continued:
“'To me, there's a lot of politics being played and a lot of people trying to put people in bad positions in order to further their agendas,’ McGraw, a 38-year-old native of Delhi, La., told ABC News Radio.
“‘When you have people dying because they're poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are — if that's a number on a political scale — then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country.’"