You can almost imagine Chris Matthews wracking his brain as the minutes counted down to Hardball hitting the air this evening. He couldn't permit Pres. Bush's surprise trip to Iraq to stand as an unalloyed triumph. Was Matthews bouncing possible lines off his producers and assistants?
In any case, Chris gave it his best Holy Cross try. Opening the show, he mused:
"The bravado of visiting Baghdad helps Bush, but does it hurt Iraq's new Prime Minister to have the American president look like a boss on an inspection tour?"
Matthews ran the same line up the flagpole when when NBC's Richard Engel came on. Reporting live from Baghdad, Engel at first weakly saluted but - to his credit - ultimately offered a different take.
Our media today seem absolutely allergic to good news, especially when it comes to Iraq.
In the early morning of June 8, the story broke that American forces had killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, our most infamous terrorist enemy in Iraq. This was terrific news, a time for rejoicing in America. A man who viciously caused the death of thousands, and killed Americans like Nicholas Berg by personally sawing off their heads, would kill no more.
This should have been a time for national euphoria, and for most, it was. But the media’s hearts clearly weren’t in it. Within just a few minutes of the “Today” show announcement, a viewer could draw the clear sense that the poor-mouthing had begun. Matt Lauer began by noting the “timing” was certainly right for a Pentagon dragged down by allegations of a Marine massacre at Haditha. NBC invited Sen. Joe Biden to describe how President Bush has been “basically crippled at home and abroad because of the incompetence of the way his administration has operated at home and abroad.” We’re going to discuss Bush incompetence – minutes after we learn Zarqawi was located and eliminated?
After the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on perjury charges, rumors have circulated that President Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove would soon be indicted as well. Today, we found out that would not be the case.
On April 27, when Karl Rove was set to testify before the grand jury for the fifth time, CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, appearing on "The Early Show" noted:
"Sources close to the case say they think that it’s almost at an end. If it is cleared up in Rove’s favor, that will be a big lift to this White House."
A big lift for the White House? You wouldn’t have known that watching "The Early Show" this morning. All that was said on the subject amounted to about 25 seconds and came from 2 anchor reads from co-host Julie Chen. In fact, the story wasn't big enough news to earn a tease or a mention at the top of the show, but at about 7:06 Chen mentioned:
An October 17, 2005 NewsBusters item I wrote recounted: CNN's Jack Cafferty, on Monday afternoon's [October 17] The Situation Room, took a cheap shot at Karl Rove's weight and expressed delight in the possibility Rove will be indicted. Just past 3pm EDT, Cafferty announced his question of the hour: “What should Karl Rove do if he is indicted?” Cafferty then answered his own question: “He might want to get measured for one of those extra large orange jump suits, Wolf, 'cause looking at old Karl, I'm not sure that he'd, they'd be able to zip him into the regular size one." Wolf Blitzer pointed out: “He's actually lost some weight. I think he's in pretty good shape." Cafferty conceded: "Oh, well then maybe just the regular off the shelf large would handle it for him." Blitzer then cautioned the indictment might not come: "Yeah, but you know, it's still a big if. It's still a big if." A giddy Cafferty replied: "Oh, I understand. I'm, I'm just hoping you know. I love, I love to see those kinds of things happen. It does wonders for me." (Transcript follows)
I'd like to revisit the comedic styling of one Jason Leopold. Now, maybe you haven't heard of Leopold, or maybe all that comes to mind is the Bugs Bunny cartoon ("Leopold, LEOPOLD, leopold") but Jason is a hero to journalists. He writes the stories that other journalists won't touch, for websites other journalists won't admit to reading, like CounterPunch, Common Dream, Truthout.org, you know, your typical moonbat hangouts. Sure he's had some anti-Bush stories retracted by Salon.com, he may have dabbled in plagiarism, and he has the average liberal reporter's issues with drug addition, mental illness, suicide, and lying to employers, but he's still a journalist's journalist.
Rove Informs White House He Will Be Indicted By Jason Leopold Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources. Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources confirmed Rove's indictment is imminent.
Great moments in political prognostication, from the May 8 edition of MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
David Shuster: "Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why.
"First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation, or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple -- a week and a half ago, unless you feel that`s your only chance of avoiding indictment. So, in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges."
Stephen Spruiell at NRO's Media Blog rightly whacks Slate's John Dickerson -- formerly a White House reporter for Time magazine and the son of pioneering network TV reporter Nancy Dickerson -- for his assertion Monday that liberal bloggers merely want the press to improve, but conservatives can't stand that the press exists, that they want them.....dead?
One of the healthiest things about the left-wing blogosphere is its confrontational dislike of the mainstream media. There's a distinction here with the media's critics on the right. At some level, the right doesn't much like that the press exists. They don't want to fix it, they want to drive a stake through its heart. The left, on the other hand, just wishes the establishment press would do a better job.
It's been reported that Karl Rove will not be indicted for the Valerie Plame case. But that doesn't mean Reuters doesn't wish the opposite would have occurred. The organization resurrected a picture from last month and ran it this month after news that Karl Rove was off the hook.
Various media around the world have been using this shocking photo to smear the US Marines in connection with the Haditha incident.
As Michelle Malkin has reported, the photo has nothing to do with US Marines: "The photo is of fishermen executed in a Haditha stadium by terrorists six months before the Nov. 19 incident under investigation by the US military."
That didn't stop the Times of London from running it on June 1st, alleging it was of the alleged Marine action in Haditha. The Times later apologized.
What's gotten into Campbell Brown? I'd had her pegged as a conventional MSM liberal, but in recent times, she has manifested a refreshing streak of independence that was very much on display in her interview of Howard Dean on this morning's Today show.
Things came to a head over the Dems' vague and conflicting positions over Iraq.
Began Brown: "Let me ask you about Iraq. I want to ask a straightforward question. What is the Democrats' position on Iraq? What solution do Democrats have?"
Dean: "We believe that the President is wrong to say this will be left to the next president. That's not the right approach. Secondly, we believe there needs to be a transition, that the Iraqis need to take over and our troops need to come home and be redeployed to other parts of the world to fight terrorism. The war on terror has nothing to do with the war with Iraq, or at least it didn't until the president got us in there. We believe in transition. This is now the responsibility of the Iraqis. And we believe that this cannot be left to the next administration. It needs to be dealt with now."
Hit back Brown: "But 'dealt with now', that's not that different from President Bush's position."
The networks have been eager over the last few weeks to highlight every new charge or claim related to the alleged massacre by U.S. Marines of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq last November (a new study from the MRC counted 99 stories or interviews about it over just three weeks on the ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening shows), but when a front page Washington Post article on Sunday recounted Marine Sergeant Frank Wuterich's contention that he and his squad followed the rules of engagement and were justified in their actions, the networks lost interest. NBC gave it a few seconds on Sunday's Today and a fuller story on Sunday's Nightly News, but ABC and CBS ignored it on their Sunday morning shows (GMA and Sunday Morning) while ABC's World News Tonight gave it a mere 20 seconds before a full story on suicides at Guantanamo and the CBS Evening News skipped it completely. On Monday, despite interview segments and stories on Iraq, the broadcast network morning shows ignored Wuterich's version, though ABC and NBC made time for full Guantanamo pieces. Amazingly, ABC's Charles Gibson didn't raise it with Congressman John Murtha, the lead accuser who appeared on GMA. The Monday evening shows also avoided the topic. (Detailed rundown and contrasts follow.)
In Newsweek, Allison Samuels hypes the latest music from Ice Cube. Over a full-page black-and-white photo of the rapper, his latest “social commentator” lyrics from his song “Why We Thug” are highlighted boldly in capital letters:
“Since I was little not a damn thing changed / It’s the same ol’ same / Bush runs things like Saddam Hussein.”
Most of these words are in green, but “Bush” and “Saddam Hussein” are in white letters for emphasis. Newsweek’s Samuels is giddy: “He was a savagely angry (and wickedly witty) social commentator on N.W.A.’s late-‘80s benchmarks ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘F—- tha Police’…Cube’s new album may be the his best since the searing ‘Amerikkka’s Most Wanted’ in 1990.” Samuels lauds this junk as part of “rap’s long tradition of politically righteous anger.”
At a fundraiser (the only place you'll likely find a Clinton in an election year) Bill Clinton told how he and Al Gore "were right about global warming" to a crowd shouting "four more years." It is undertermined why the crowd, ignorant of the 22nd Amendment, wants four more years of doing nothing about global warming.
In the short Associated Press article by Brendan Farrington, he writes: "as Tropical Storm Alberto threatened to strengthen into the ninth hurricane in 22 months to affect Florida..." What he fails to mention is that:
10 hurricanes per year is normal, and Florida is the biggest target. In 1933, there were 21 hurricanes, apparently this was the height of global warming.
In the ongoing left-wing saga of “They Stole The Election From Us,” New York Times columnist Bob Herbert (hat tip to Raw Story) wrote Monday another gratuitous piece about how George W. Bush swiped the 2004 election from John Kerry.
This stuff is really delicious. But, I caution the reader to not have food or drink in his or her mouth while reviewing this information, for uncontrollable laughter can erupt at any moment and without warning:
“Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But [Robert F. Kennedy Jr.], in his long, heavily footnoted [Rolling Stone] article (‘Was the 2004 Election Stolen?’), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.”
Now, remember folks…the key, much as it was in Florida, is to count all the votes. Of course, most of us remember what that looked like. Comically, the article continued: “No one has been able to prove that the election in Ohio was hijacked.” Actually, Bob, this is a great point you make. Why is it lost on you?
MSNBC surprised everyone Monday with its announcement that the struggling channel will now be headed by an executive tag team of "Today" chief Phil Griffin and one of its own show hosts, Dan Abrams.
The appointment of Griffin didn't exactly come as a surprise; last week's scuttlebutt had him being given the top spot. Abrams's elevation did. It also gives insight into what MSNBC's strategy to avoid being known as "electronic journalism's version of the Chicago Cubs."
Some key facts:
Griffin, known officially as "executive in charge," is also keeping his title as executive producer of NBC's "Today" show.
Newly dubbed "general manager" Abrams will keep his job as NBC's top legal affairs analyst but will be giving up his current main job as host of the courts-heavy "Abrams Report."
Griffin will not move his offices over to MSNBC's far-flung New Jersey location.
NBC is in the process of buying out its partner Microsoft's stake in MSNBC entirely. It's already the majority owner.
For Aaron Barnhart, the verdict seems in: "They're letting him keep his network job. Which tells you something about what a high priority fixing MSNBC is over there at GE."
UPDATE 20:54. My take: That Abrams was brought in as Griffin's deputy indicates that there may be relatively major changes in the near future, with a team comprised of a newsie and an exec, it will be harder for competing factions within the organization to resist management. Abrams's hiring also likely means that MSNBC is going to approach news with more irreverence, and give greater latitude to anchors to express their opinions and show emotion (i.e. be more like human beings instead of talking infoheads). [Abrams not getting the top spot also shows that upper management views this as a test of sorts for him. If he pulls it off, expect him to move up the NBC ladder.]
Looks like Chris Matthews really isn't sure who the good guys are in Iraq. Over the weekend on his syndicated show Chris Matthews speculated that after Haditha the public may realize: "that we might be the bad guys." After brushing over the success of killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Matthews asked the panel about the political damage done by Haditha:
Chris Matthews: "Let me talk about Haditha or ask you to talk about Haditha. It seems to me a lot of people would like to have some reason to get out of Iraq. We can't win is a good reason. There's too much bloodshed would be a good reason. But on the other hand, the difficulty of the task is an argument for a lot of people to stay in. ‘We know it's tough,' the President says. ‘We know we're taking casualties, but we gotta win this one and these people are sacrificing their lives and their family members for this work. All the more reason to stick with the fight.' But there's one thing that turns people off. The sense that we might be the bad guys. My Lai, Haditha. In your reporting for Time, do you think Haditha is gonna measure up to one of those pivotal moments where ya say, ‘This war smells bad, it tastes bad. We're getting into situations of counterinsurgency, which are brutal. We don't want to be there.'"
On this Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, Bob Schieffer once again turned to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for analysis on developments in Iraq, the overall war on terrorism, and the Israel/Palestinian peace process.
Among the claims Friedman made were claiming that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was the "anti-Statue of Liberty." That America is alone in Iraq, discounting the contributions by the British and other coalition partners. And that he doesn’t "really want to blame America" for the inability of the Israelis and Palestinians to come to a workable peace agreement.
Friedman began by seemingly eulogizing Zarqawi. He focused on how effective Zarqawi was as a terrorist, but doesn’t offer praise to our troops or thanks that he has been removed from the equation in Iraq:
The National Center for Policy Analysis writes about the rise of "docu-ganda" films, movies that are portrayed as "just the facts" filmmaking, but actually have an agenda and make no attempt to carry both sides. In this way, they are like the news media. Both docu-ganda filmmakers and news reporters strive to be thought of as dispassioned observers, and want to be regarded as speaking with the "voice of God."
Documentary films promise to tell an "untold" story, but is it the full story, asks Daniel Wood of the Christian Science Monitor?
Don't count on it; the days when "documentary" reliably meant "inform the audience" are over. Today, makers of such films feel little or no obligation to heed documentary-film traditions like point-by-point rebuttal or formal reality checks, says Wood.
Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM To: Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
This certainly goes way beyond the vitriol we’ve seen in the past week concerning conservative author Ann Coulter, and may be a new low in media response to, well...anything.
On Monday, Advertising Age magazine’s Simon Dumenco wrote an article imploring Coulter to kill herself.
Dumenco -- who refers to himself as “The Media Guy” -- did a bit in this week's column called "WIKYpedia" wherein he “asks repeat offenders in the media world to give us a break already.” The joke went something like “would it kill you to stop it?”
Dumenco finished this piece: “Would it kill you, "Godless" author Ann Coulter, to do us all a favor and kill yourself? (Oh, well, yeah, I guess it would kill you.)”