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):
This one is too good, folks, and requires all drinking vessels to be placed at safe distances from computer terminals (hat tip to Drudge). For many months, DNC Chairman Howard Dean has been refusing to do joint interviews with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. Instead, he has insisted that when the two are on the same show, they be questioned separately.
This morning, he was asked why on MSNBC. Frankly, his answer was hysterical (video here): “The spectacle of the debate overwhelms the desire to get messages out, and talk about policy and serious issues.” He then stated, with a straight face no less:
Photographer Emilio Morenatti, 37, of the Associated Press, was taken captive in the Gaza Strip this morning. No word from the captors yet, but my prayers are with Emilio and his family for his safe return!
According to the captions on the photo wires, Emilio was accosted as he was leaving his apartment for an Associated Press vehicle, and was forced into the captors' vehicle. I'll fill in with more details as they come in. Hajed Hamdan, the AP driver assigned to pick up Emilio, was confronted by the captors, who stole his phone and keys, and instructed him at gunpoint to turn away.
As part of its continuing effort to spin the midterm elections in favor of the Democrats, CNN recently aired a special that attacked the Republicans on the issues and portrayed the Democrats as too smart and too principled to fight the nasty GOP. Anchor Jack Cafferty hosted the "Broken Government" program that slammed the Republicans for Iraq, incompetence, lack of Social Security reform and many other issues. The ads for the show, which aired October 19, stated that the CNN host would be "taking on the left, right, and center." Well, maybe just that one in the middle. Prior to handing off the segment to CNN reporter Candy Crowley, Cafferty introduced the theme of the piece:
Cafferty: "Republicans bogged down by scandal, bloody war leading up to these midterm elections. We'll have more on that as we move through the hour. First, the Democrats. History suggests they're perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Republicans are doing everything they can to hand the Democrats the election. The question is, will they take it? Candy Crowley is in Asheville, North Carolina for us tonight. Candy, you could get rich selling tickets to people to watch the Democrats try to get their stuff organized."
Get it? When Cafferty focused on the Republicans, he mentioned all the terrible things they’ve done. But for the Democrats, the issue is why aren’t they winning and what can be done about it? And thus, you have CNN’s version of balance.
Did you hear that loud crashing sound on Sunday? That was either media members across the country jumping off the Hillary for President bandwagon, or the Clintonistas slapping their knees over the gullibility of the press and the people they cater to.
Without question, the charming junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was the toast of the Sunday morning programs this weekend. From Meet the Press to The Chris Matthews Show, discussions centered on the presidential aspirations of a man that precious few had heard of prior to his well-publicized speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Feeling the heat from critics in Washington and across the country over airing video handed to it by an Iraqi terrorist group called the Islamic Army of God, CNN offered air time to Congressman Duncan Hunter on Monday’s 5pm edition of "The Situation Room." Wolf Blitzer interviewed Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and CNN military analyst Gen. David Grange, but if the general was brought in to debate Hunter, it backfired. Grange ended up agreeing with Hunter that the U.S. media helps the insurgents: "they are winning the information warfare front. You can argue that our -- our -- the media in the United States supports that somewhat." Blitzer framed CNN’s Sniper Theatre by asking Hunter "Do the American people have a right to know what war is like?" Hunter said "Wolf, the American people aren't made out of cotton candy. They understand, when you see 2,791 battlefield deaths, that people are killed, and they are killed in bad ways."
With rare exception, TV stories just don't happen - they're planned. So we can be quite sure that sometime in the last 24 hours or so, a producer at 'Today' sent out the word: "find me a Republican voter in a key state who has decided to vote Democrat this year."
NBC folks on the ground in Ohio obliged, dutifully disinterring Mr. John Gaylord to be trotted out on this morning's show. NBC's David Gregory offered this silk-purse-into-sow's-ear intro:
"For embattled Republicans, despite falling gas prices around the country, the economy might prove a tough sell. An important bellwether for this election is right here in Ohio, where a combination of an unpopular war in Iraq, a slow state economy, and scandal have set off alarm bells for Republicans. John Gaylord, a lifelong Republican, runs a bookstore in suburban Columbus. He may switch his vote this year."