NRO Media Blog has passed along a column at Townhall.com by author and military expert W. Thomas Smith Jr. that describes an interview with an ABC News reporter who's overwhelmed with anti-war fervor:
So I receive a phone call from a reporter at ABC News. They are working on a story about Haditha, and the reporter’s comments to me go something along the lines of; “I am particularly interested in your recent pieces on Haditha in which you say that in order to understand what happened, we must first understand the men involved, the dynamics of the system in which they operate, and the realities of ground combat.”
The reporter’s referencing of my own comments are somewhat paraphrased, but his following questions are clearly etched in my mind verbatim:
HUGH HEWITT: Is it possible, in your view, Doyle McManus, that the story will in fact help terrorists elude capture?
DOYLE McMANUS: It is conceivable, yeah, although it might be worth noting that in our reporting, officials told us that this would, this disclosure would probably not affect al Qaeda, which figured out long ago that the normal banking system was not how it ought to move its money, and so turned to other unofficial and informal channels ...
It became a laugh line long ago: "If we can't [insert your favorite dubious activity here], the terrorists will have won."
But that didn't prevent Keith Olbermann from trotting out the cliché tonight. A line so tired it would have to be months fresher not to be merely hackneyed. And all this in defense of the New York Times' latest leak of an anti-terrorist program - this time that of the the program designed to track terrorists' financial transactions.
Even Olbermann seemed abashed at stooping so low, but that didn't stop him. Claiming that the anti-terror program is "legally questionable," Olbermann actually said that "as the old saying goes" if the Times can't report this "haven't the terrorists won?"
On the roundtable of Sunday's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Newsweek columnist and Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria declared he was going to say "something controversial," that he favored amnesty for Iraqi insurgents. ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said she didn't see why that was controversial, just a required step. When Stephanopoulos suggested amnesty "makes sense," CNN anchor Lou Dobbs said the idea "sticks in my craw."
Zakaria knows the idea is "controversial" because it will rub the American public the wrong way, but also because the Democrats on television (like Sen. Durbin minutes earlier on "This Week") have made a strong pose against amnesty for insurgents. Here's how it unfolded, as the segment began:
"At times, the mood turned hostile toward the lawmakers in the stately white building behind the stage," wrote The Washington Post in its coverage of the event. Then, without explanation, the story offered this on-stage quotation from a religious broadcaster: "Let's pray that God will slay everyone in the Capitol." Clearly, the reporters didn't know about the experience that Pentecostal Christians call being "slain in the Holy Spirit," in which they believe they are transformed by a surge of God's power. The result was a journalistic train wreck...
After the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the International Herald Tribune described his vestments and added: "Tucked under his left arm was the silver staff, called the crow's ear, that he had carried in public." Actually, that ornate shepherd's staff is called a crosier (or crozier), not a "crow's ear." And did a BBC producer really write a subtitle that said "Karma Light" nuns were mourning the pope (as opposed to Carmelites)?
"Newsweek misquoted Falwell as referring to 'assault ministry.' In fact, Falwell was referring to 'a salt ministry' — a reference to Matthew 5:13, where Jesus says, 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' We regret the error."
Bias is a problem. But, in my experience, apathy and ignorance cause most of these laugh-to-keep-from-crying gaffes. It would help if newsroom executives spent more time thinking about intellectual, cultural and even spiritual diversity, in addition to focusing on gender, race and class.
It's no surprise that journalists by default assume Christians are militant crusaders, as opposed to the fundamentalist "freedom fighters" who chop off heads throughout the Mideast.
15 People Who Make America Great Newsweek Magazine #4 Brad Pitt "If it wasn't for Brad Pitt, most Americans would never have heard of Namibia. They might not know about AIDS orphans in South Africa, or the plight of children in Haiti, or what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland."
Google News: "Brad Pitt Namibia World Economic Forum Davos Switzerland" Results about "what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland": ZERO. (lots of Newsweek award mentions though)
Google News: "Brad Pitt plight of Haitian children" Results: ZERO
National Review Online published an editorial today on the unfolding outrage over the New York Times deigning itself the country's Moderators-in-Chief -- we shall declare what the nation shall debate! -- and called for the government to take away their press credentials, their little badges of honor and access:
The president should match this morning’s tough talk with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.
Moreover, the Justice Department must be more aggressive than it has been in investigating national-security leaks. While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.
New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito broke a tie Monday in a ruling that affirmed a state death penalty law and also revealed the court's deep divisions over capital punishment.
What the AP hypes about Alito’s vote is wrong. Alito didn’t break a tie. His was one of five votes cast by the majority of justices who upheld the Kansas law. Alito’s vote no more “broke a tie” than did the vote of any of the other four justices who formed the majority. And the AP knows that.
Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior editor for Commentary magazine, writes in the Weekly Standard about the justification for prosecuting journalists who endanger the country by revealing sensitive information. He cites a very concrete example of this endangerment: Pearl Harbor.
Can journalists really be prosecuted for publishing national security secrets? In the wake of a series of New York Times stories revealing highly sensitive counterterrorism programs, that question is increasingly the talk of newsrooms across the country, and especially one newsroom located on West 43rd Street in Manhattan.
Last December, in the face of a presidential warning that they would compromise ongoing investigations of al Qaeda, the Times revealed the existence of an ultrasecret terrorist surveillance program of the National Security Agency and provided details of how it operated. Now, once again in the face of a presidential warning, the Times has published a front-page article disclosing a highly classified U.S. intelligence program that successfully penetrated the international bank transactions of al Qaeda terrorists.
Yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer claimed Congress is failing in its job to improve the lives of their constituents, and it wasting time and resources debating trivial conservative matters like Constitutional Amendments banning gay marriage and flag burning:
"It's been so long since Congress did anything, I have to stop and think to remember what it is they're supposed to do. Oh, I remember now, improve the lives of the people who elected them. I can't think of another reason; can you?
Don't misunderstand me. Congress does stay busy. The debate on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage took a lot of time. Of course, all sides knew there was no chance it would pass. Did the debate improve your life?"
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration on Sunday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.
A train wreck of reporting and editing is displayed in Study Casts Doubt On the 'Boy Crisis' by the Washington Post's Jay Mathews on the front page. It's based on a report by a think tank called Education Sector, and tries to refute years of research showing boys' collective disadvantage in education. The logic of this report is illustrated in the following quote from the report itself, written by Sarah Mead:
The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse; it's good news about girls doing better.
fact, with a few exceptions, American boys are scoring higher and
achieving more than they ever have before. But girls have just improved
their performance on some measures even faster. As a result, girls
have narrowed or even closed some academic gaps that previously favored
boys, while other long-standing gaps that favored girls have widened,
leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.
Got it? Girls narrowed or obliterated gaps that favored boys. They also widened gaps that favored girls. It's time to face facts. Girls are the uber-race. Bow down and accept your fate before girls!
President (make that Times editor) Bill Keller must be feeling the heat about his paper’s irresponsible banking spy scoop from Friday. Sunday afternoon he took the trouble to publish an open letter to readers (online only) justifying his executive decision to expose the details of yet another classified terrorist surveillance program, this one involving the surveillance of bank records of a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT.
In today’s terror-stricken world, which is more vital to the public’s interest: being safe, or being informed?
This very question has come before the management of the New York Times twice in the past six months. On both occasions, even though it went completely contrary to the national security requests of the White House, their conclusion was that ignorance is indeed not bliss.
Sadly, it appears that the Times doesn’t agree with the old maxim “Tis better to be safe than sorry,” for on June 23, in what is starting to become a semi-annual event, the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed to America and her enemies the existence of another highly classified national security program designed to identify terrorist activity before it occurs.
In this case, since shortly after 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency has been working with a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. SWIFT provides
As part of their "Giving Back Awards" cover package this week, Newsweek honors what they call "Philanthropy's All-Star Team," a list of "no-brainers" for all the good they do in the world. Some choices are less political (Lance Armstrong, Oprah), but many are not: Paul Newman, Rosie O'Donnell, abortion-rights activist Bill Gates, embryo-destruction enthusiast Michael J. Fox, Ted Turner, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore. Wow. Al Gore? Getting on a philanthropy list is pretty nice work for the guy who reported giving $353 to charity on one annual tax return. Newsweek explained:
The folks below are, to be blunt, the no-brainers. In some cases, their very names have become synonymous with a cause. Lance Armstrong: cancer research. Al Gore: the environment. Oprah: free cars. (Actually, those famous wheels are just the tip of the "niceberg" for Winfrey.) They've used every asset they've got to spread the gospel of giving—their money, their brains, even their pretty faces. Let's return the favor by giving them a tip of the cap.
Here were some of the more notable stars, in their original alphabetical order:
Jimmy Carter Global Health
Nobel Peace Prize winner, widely admired ex-president, tireless disease-prevention worker. Latest crusade: ending river blindness in Africa. Not bad for a peanut farmer.
In fact, I submit that the only reason stories like this one are framed in such a way is because the author has to start with a premise. The premise, of course, is that Iraq is Vietnam, Iraq is a lost cause, and anything contrary to this is “news.”
There could be an NBC intern out of work by lunch-time. Somebody failed to get the DNC/MSM talking points to Barry McCaffrey. A guest on this morning's Today show, the retired general obstinately refused to go along with the party line in reacting to the news that a drawdown of US troops in Iraq is in the works. Didn't Barry at least watch Carl Levin over the weekend? The Dem senator from Michigan had made it clear that this was all about election-year politics.
Co-host Campbell Brown picked up right where Levin left off.
Brown: "Based on your assessment of the situation on the ground, do you think this plan is realistic?"
McCaffrey: "Yeah, sure. . . Realistic assumptions will probably occur."
No-o-o-o-o! Brown took another tack: "Put 'realistic' aside and tell me whether you think it's a good idea, though."
Newsweek's cover story this week is a new feature called their Giving Back Awards. Expecting a dose of unknown heroes, instead the magazine honors some famous faces, like Brad Pitt and CNN's Soledad O'Brien, honored for her passionate coverage of Hurricane Katrina. The headline called her "The Professional" and oozed in italics: "In a drowning city, who spoke out for those in despair? She did." But as he honored the CNN anchor, Newsweek's Jonathan Darman felt the need to insult every government rescue attempt:
Simple, human kindness—the kind you can teach a child—was embarrassingly absent in the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. As the country watched in horror as state and federal officials did little to help the stranded multitudes, television anchors, who so often act as though they're not of this world, for once understood the outrage. As the days wore on and the city continued to flounder, they articulated our astonishment at the vast incompetence we all witnessed.
Today's Los Angeles Times (Sunday, June 25, 2006) features coverage of Erotica LA (warning: adult content), an adult X-rated retail expo, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In a page B1 article entitled "More Couples, Women Turn On to Erotica Expo,"Times staffer Robin Abcarian begins by relaying a lesson in "spanking" being taught by a "dominatrix" by the name of Georgia Payne. (The subject matter itself is questionable for a "family" newspaper, but that's a separate issue entirely.) In the process, Abcarian used Payne's words to take a swipe at Catholics.
Payne, who earns $250 an hour, was about to demonstrate the fine art of spanking, which — contrary to what you might think — is not as simple as it looks. The hand should be cupped, not flat, she explained, and positioned on the lower part of the buttocks, never at the top, never on the leg and never ever near the tailbone.
"If your husband went to Catholic school," the 32-year-old Payne said with a sly smile, "he's probably secretly dying for it."
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.