Tom Friedman is at it again. Whenever a reporter asks him how to fix the Middle East, Friedman's response is increasingly the same - increase taxes! On this morning's Today show NBC's Meredith Vieira brought on the New York Times columnist to discuss the Iraq debate on Capitol Hill. Setting up Friedman with his own premise, Viera asked: "Well you've said, 'We need to reshape the game board.' What do you mean by that?" Friedman then gave a long-winded response that eventually revealed his solution: "Oil tax." Below is the conversation as it occurred in the 7am half hour of the February 6 Today show:
Meredith Vieira: "Well you've said, 'We need to reshape the game board. What do you mean by that?'"
In a huge blow to America’s ability to defend itself from future terrorist attacks both home and abroad, the European Central Bank has told SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, that it must halt the transfer of personal banking information to American authorities by April.
As reported by Agence France-Presse on February 1 (h/t to Dan at Riehl World View): “The agency, the European Data Protection Supervisor, told the bank to come up with measures ‘to make its payment operations fully compliant with data-protection legislation,’ urging it to ‘take appropriate measures as soon as possible.’”
Hadn’t heard about this? Well, how could you? After all, according to Google and LexisNexis searches, the only major American media outlet to bother reporting this was, coincidentally and quite ironically, the New York Times.
Isn’t that a delicious twist of fate? Yet, the hypocrisy in this goes much deeper.
Imagine that during the days of apartheid in South Africa, Diane Sawyer had just completed an interview of the white leader of the regime. What are the odds she would have emerged to inform viewers, in sympathetic tones, that the leader had reminded her of an old Afrikaaner saying to the effect that change must come slowly?
Yet that's just what Diane did after her interview with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in which he claimed Syria wasn't ready for democracy. The screencap you see here is of Diane giving a dramatic portrayal of Assad's words. Emoted Diane:
"The president reminded me that all over the Arab world, there is a standard saying, 'chouay, chouay' [my transliteration] which means 'slowly, slowly. Change must come slowly.'"
Have a look at the video clip of Diane's dramatic renderinghere.
In her Sunday Ombudsman column in the Washington Post, Deborah Howell sounds more like a journalist's advocate than a reader's advocate, lamenting that reporters draw complaints about covering a protest no matter what: "Organizers often inflate the number of participants, and there will be complaints no matter how a demonstration is covered or displayed." Howell was also quick to defend the divergence in Post coverage of the March for Life vs. the latest Out-of-Iraq march. The liberal event was "worth Page 1," while "This is the 34th anniversary of that [Roe v. Wade] decision and not a reason to put the event on Page 1 in my book."
I would not argue that the March for Life was a Page 1 story this year, especially with the liberal takeover of both houses of Congress. I would argue that the Bush-bashing anti-Iraq war march was NOT page 1 material. Anti-Bush marches have not become a strictly annual routine like the March for Life, but they have been regular enough to be less newsworthy on each new occasion. Is this new Jane Fonda march really Earth-shattering material, even with liberal control of Congress? All Democrats are doing is trying to pass NON-binding resolutions. How much does a march change the equation?
Think Progress is claiming that the Washington Times published a false report regarding a request from Speaker Pelosi “demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters.” While TP attempts to spin things as though they can support that claim, they cannot.
On February 1, the Washington Times published a story titled “Speaker pursues military flights,” which claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had been “pressing the Bush administration for routine access to military aircraft for domestic flights, such as trips back to her San Francisco district.” Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) also used military aircraft to travel to his district. However, the Times reported, Pelosi is “demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters.”
CBS's news judgment: Monday's CBS Evening News devoted a first segment story to, as anchor Katie Couric put it, the “irony” that the Senate debate over resolutions on the Iraqi surge occurred “four years to the day” after Colin Powell made his presentation at the UN which “became an embarrassment.” Couric asked and answered: “And how's this for irony? Today's Capitol Hill confrontation began four years to the day after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell made a dramatic speech at the UN to make the case that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It was a brilliant performance, enough to sell the Congress and the nation on going to war. But before long, it became an embarrassment.”
Of course, at the time nearly everyone believed what Powell believed, as evidenced by former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay who told CBS News Pentagon reporter David Martin that he was impressed with Powell's presentation. Martin moved on to other misguided assumptions, asserting “the intelligence about Iraq was not all wrong. On the eve of the invasion, CIA analysts, including Paul Pillar, warned the aftermath could get ugly." Martin also, however, pointed out that “bad intelligence about WMD started the war, but it can't be blamed for all that has happened since." Former CIA analyst John Brennan explained: “We would still have the same bloodshed, instability and destruction even if we did uncover those treasure troves of purported weapons.” So, the fourth anniversary of Powell's presentation about WMDs really isn't relevant to the current situation, but that didn't deter CBS from bringing it up.
On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington airing locally on Washington PBS station WETA, the first topic was whether the media's been unfair to President Bush, given his abysmal approval ratings. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg said Bush received a "free ride" for years, so now the worm has turned and the coverage is fierce. Then the host turned to Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who was frank in his assessment of the media's role:
Gordon Peterson: "What do you think, Evan? Are the mainstream media bashing the president unfairly?"
Evan Thomas: "Well, our job is to bash the president, that's what we do almost --"
There's nothing like the day an Italian-American Republican moves toward announcing his presidential candidacy for musing as to whether he might have a whiff of fascism about him. As reported here, Rudy Giuliani inched closer to running for president today by filing a so-called "statement of candidacy" with the Federal Election Commission, indicating that he would seek the presidency as a Republican should he decide to go forward.
Chris Matthews had Rudy supporter and former congresswoman Susan Molinari as a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. In the course of discussing the way in which Rudy managed to clean up NYC, Matthews and Molinari had the following exchange:
"They strike on Capitol Hill. And no domestic program is safe. They're . . . the Evil Republican Spending Slashers!"
Just like "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmas time, the MSM trots out the reruns of the "Evil Spending Slashers" every time a Republican president proposes to increase entitlement spending by less than some liberals would like.
With the spunky Contessa Brewer hosting in the studio, and reporter Patty Culhane braving the global-warming induced cold wave on the White House lawn, MSNBC ran a classic of the genre this afternoon. At one point the graphic below was displayed, warning of domestic spending "cuts" in a number of programs.
Reminded by Tim Russert on Russert's Saturday night CNBC show, about how Vice President Cheney predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as “liberators” by the Iraqi people, New York Times Iraq reporter John Burns corrected Russert's presumption that Cheney was misguided: “The American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting.” Burns added: “I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis.”
As for what led to the inaccurate assumption that Iraqi would “stand up” for democracy, Burns contended that journalists made the same error: “I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, ' to stand up' for themselves, to take authority, to take risks.” Burns also rejected the notion that different U.S. strategies would have prevented the current chaos: “My guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring.”
For TV news watchers, the most interesting Super Bowl ads were CBS promoting itself. Not the ads for its sleazy sitcoms like "Two and a Half Men," or its dark, gory dramas like "Criminal Minds," but more incessant ads for Katie's Evening News. Earth to CBS: the last $10 million didn't work either. I didn't see a single plug for Super Bowl coverage on "The Early Show,' but lots of Katie talking about what's great about America: "We hear a lot about what’s wrong with America. But there are so many examples of America’s can-do spirit. Good people doing great things on the CBS Evening News."
Katie's promoting the newest ratings gambit for the Katie-cast: a segment on "The American Spirit." This could be flagged as false advertising. They might try a feel-good story pandering to patriotism in a sweeps period, but on most nights, CBS will tell you America is ruining Iraq and hurtling the planet toward a global-warming catastrophe. And they'll consider anyone with an opposing opinion as hopelessly delusional or certainly bribed.
As already noted on NewsBusters, ABC’s Diane Sawyer threw softballs to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in an interview for Monday's "Good Morning America." However, GMA featured a section segment that was, amazingly, even worse. In the piece, the hard-hitting journalist probed the dictator about pertinent issues such as his favorite movies ("Pursuit of Happyness"), music (Shania Twain and Faith Hill), and whether he enjoys video games (no). Rather then press Assad over points such as the fact that Freedom House recently gave the country its worst scores (7 out of 7) for both political and civil liberties and ranked it "not free," Mrs. Sawyer allowed the Syrian leader to play film critic:
Diane Sawyer: "And American movies?"
Bashar Assad: "Sometimes. Not– Not– Not very much to movies in general. I don’t have time actually."
Sawyer: "But you like true stories?"
Assad: "True stories and historical stories. Want to know the names?"
Assad: "Yeah. ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’"
Sawyer: "And you liked it?"
Assad: "Yeah. It tells you a story that you– Maybe there’s many beneficial things to learn from, about real life. Providing that it's accurate about the story. The real story."
The Laura Ingraham Show this morning had a big discussion about the odd part of Prince's performance of "Purple Rain" during the Super Bowl halftime show last night. Prince is obviously self-impressed with the symbol he used for a name for a few years (the TAFKAP Era, for The Artist Formerly Known As Prince). Not only was there a huge symbol on the stage, it was also the shape of his guitar.
So many people thought putting Prince behind a flapping curtain with a spotlight so you could see him in silhouette playing his odd guitar sent an obvious er, male-genitalia message last night. Was this just a dramatic flourish gone awry? Some sort of Austin Powers hommage? And why would CBS let it slip through their censors after the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction of 2004? Anyone else think of old Prince lyrics about the "lion in his pocket"?
On Monday’s The View, co-host Rosie O’Donnell made light of a near-verbal mistake which may clue in to what she is thinking. In a nutshell: this is really MY show, with three sidekicks who chime in occasionally.
When opening a segment on fashion on a budget, O’Donnell stated "it is budget week here on The View. I almost said the Rosie O’Donnell Show [laughing]. That would have been a mistake!"
A wonderful thing is happening in the scientific world now that the United Nations has claimed that it is 90 percent certain anthropogenic global warming is real: scientists around the world are speaking out against this assertion.
Another such scientist, Canada’s Timothy Ball, wrote an article today addressing his view of the media hysteria which marvelously began (h/t QandO, emphasis mine throughout):
Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn't exist. And I am not the only one trying to make people open up their eyes and see the truth. But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition. Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and that for 32 years I was a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg. For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening. Here is why.
Victorious Colts coach Tony Dungy said to CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz on the post-game show last night that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were proud to be successful black coaches, but more proud of being Christian coaches. How many media outlets will use the first half, and snip away the second?
I tell you what. I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. [SNIP!] But again, more than anything, I've said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches, showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
The interview aired right around 10:13 Sunday night.