During an Opinion Focus live discussion with readers, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson was asked why it was "so difficult for the MSM to label what is going on in Iraq now a civil war?"
Richmond, Va.: I keep asking The Post political chatters to answer this question, but it doesn't get answered. Why is it so difficult for the MSM to label what is going on in Iraq now a civil war? The administration, of course, can't label it a civil war because it profoundly upends every reason we were supposedly were there in the first place, but surely this IS a civil war, and the MSM seems to follow the administration's desire not to label it as such rather than leading with the realities.
On Friday's edition of "Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason," the PBS omnipresence hosted a discussion more on Greek mythology than religion. The guest in his first half-hour was lesbian novelist Jeanette Winterson, who bitterly mocked her fundamentalist parents and suggested the Christian Bible showed a God and scriptures full of contradictions. Yawn. Standard "transgressive" PBS.
But it took a political turn about 20 minutes in, when Winterson elaborated on how Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for mankind led to suffering and punishment, his liver being ripped out daily by an eagle. To which Moyers responded: "Why do you think we're so fascinated with the stories of heroes and gods brought down by sex? I mean, do you think Bill Clinton wished he had known his mythology when he got into the White House?" It continued:
The "Conservatives Without Conscience" tour continued last night on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart last night. Like Keith Olbermann, Stewart honored Bush-hating author John Dean and his thesis, with softball questions like this: "This book though is almost a scientific approach to where, in some respects, where conservatism is going. Talk about that aspect of it." Stewart spun his thesis that conservatives are ignorant, not evil:
"Do you believe it's a conscious effort on their part? When you say without conscience, that almost suggests that they are willfully ignoring the humanity of people. I sense with this government it's not that. It's more 'we have convinced ourselves of this certainty and rightness of this position and we will not deviate from that even if everything within our five senses tells us that everything we've done is wrong.' [Whoops, applause.] My point is that it's not evil in the sense of without conscience. It's ignorant in the sense of [in sort of a hillbilly voice] 'I did that?' You know, that kind of thing."
Better put your coffee cups down, folks – and your wine glasses for that matter – as Team CNN yesterday provided viewers with quite a knee-slapper. During the 7PM ET installment of Tuesday’s “The Situation Room,” Wolf Blitzer and the boys shared some global warming gloom that must have made sommeliers around the country spit up their merlot.
Blitzer began (with a straight face, mind you!): “Global warming threatening California's multi-billion dollar wine industry, that's the crux of a new study which says as much as 81 percent of the state’s prime growing areas will be unusable by the end of the century.”
81 percent, huh? Are you drunk?
(Update -- For even more laughs, a reader e-mailed me an October 31, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article reporting that 2005 was expected to be the second-largest grape harvest in California history!!!)
Blitzer then passed the bottle to correspondent Chris Lawrence:
To say that Russian President Vladimir Putin was gruff in his interview with Matt Lauer would be an understatement. While Lauer asked some probing questions, he also offered up an unsolicited critique of Bush administration's rhetoric toward Russia, calling it 'very harsh.' When Putin responded with a nasty jab at VP Cheney over his shooting incident, Matt didn't blink, continuing instead to focus on the tough talk of the Bush White House.
Lauer was in St. Petersburg for the g-8 summit Russia is hosting, and scored an exclusive sit-down with Putin. In the set-up piece, Andrea Mitchell rolled the tape of VP Cheney saying of Russia's energy manipulations: "no legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail."
Is university 'journalism' education anything more than training camp for liberal cadres preparing to join MSM ranks? Take, for example, this morning's op-ed in the Seattle Times by Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University.
He spouts straight-from-the-Gore's-mouth alarmism about global warming, going so far as to propose that high school students be forced to view Al's flick. He also takes predictable shots at the Bush administration and talk show hosts, throwing in a particularly nasty swipe at Christian conservatives in the process. Excerpts below.
"Migrations [from farm to city] in India and elsewhere in Africa and Asia cannot be sustained at today's Western standard of living. Even at one car per family, without air conditioning and supermalls, the world's environment cannot survive the onslaught."
"I'd suggest we start by making Al Gore's slide-show movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," required viewing in every high school in the country."
Washington Post TV reporter Lisa DeMoraes reported Wednesday on Dan Rather's appearance before TV critics to promote his obscure new venture on HDNet -- how far the mighty have fallen! -- boasting he would not bow to right-wing pressure groups:
Rather acknowledged he comes to HDNet with "baggage."
"Yes, I have baggage -- I have the baggage of being a graduate of the journalism school of South Vietnam," he said.
He also acknowledged he was "biased -- I have a very strong bias toward independent journalism."
"Some of what you describe as 'baggage,' " he told one critic, "comes from people who have the following view: Their view is, 'You report the news the way I want it reported or I'm going to make you pay a price and hang a sign around your neck saying you're a bomb-toting Bolshevik or something.' "
A year ago tomorrow, I did a post on the continued decline in evening news viewership at Big Three Networks NBC, ABC, and CBS, and made these observations and predictions about why that decline was taking place, and would continue (some of last year's text was slightly revised):
All three nightly broadcasts most likely lose money, when isolated from their morning counterparts (Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show) and their documentary shows (Dateline, 60 Minutes, 20/20, etc.). At a minimum, none makes an acceptable level of profit.
BUT, the news operations of each of the Big 3 networks are very small parts of very large organizations (CBS-Viacom, NBC-GE, and ABC-Disney), so small that apparently no one at any of the three parent companies cares enough to do anything about the continued hemorrhaging in their evening new shows, as long as the news operations themselves are profitable.
So because those other parts of the news operations make money, the nightly news programs can chug right along, oblivous to normal profitability expectations.
The journalists who put together the nightly news programs could care less if the broadcasts are profitable. It's obvious that their agenda is more important.
Because of all of the above, the ever-shrinking audience for these broadcasts will be spoon-fed biased reporting, Bush bashing, and conservative-bashing for the foreseeable future.
Now, a year later, in today's story about network TV's generally low level of viewership last week (HT Drudge), the real eye-popper is not that the predicted viewership decline has occurred (that was, after all, a pretty easy prediction to make), but that it has accelerated:
"World News Tonight" averaged 7.3 million viewers and "Nightly News" had 7.2 million (both 5.1 rating, 11 share). The "CBS Evening News" averaged 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 10).
That's a big-whoop total of 21.0 million people, and is down precipitously from just the end of 2005. The deterioration is especially obvious when you compare the total and individual network numbers to the following two graphs from the 2006 State of the News Media report:
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday delivered short items on how this year's budget deficit will be $296 billion, down substantially from the administration's predication of $423 billion, but while ABC anchor Kate Snow and CBS anchor Bob Schieffer stuck to how economic growth fueled increased tax revenue, NBC anchor Brian Williams decided to relay, without naming any names, a conspiracy theory: “Many economists and administration critics say the White House has deliberately inflated its own deficit projections in the past few years to score political points when the actual numbers came in lower." Of the three anchors, only CBS's Schieffer noted the role of tax cuts, citing how President Bush “gave the credit to his tax cuts, saying they stimulated the economy and boosted the amount of money coming into the Treasury." (Transcripts follow)
There was the expected wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left when New York’s state Court of Appeals ruled against installing so-called "gay marriage" by judicial fiat, as they had in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts. The New York Times, as expected, was stunned that the judges could find a "rational basis" for traditional marriage, and that judges would defer to elected legislators.
This outrage was plastered at the top of the Times with two "news" stories. One was a front-page editorial (they call it a "news analysis") by Patrick Healy, who focused on the "gay rights advocates"and their disappointment. "Nowhere did gay marriage seem more like a natural fit than New York,"he complained, where "a history of spirited progressivism" should have made the victory of the marriage-manglers inevitable.
Near the top of the New York Times "Most E-Mailed List" for weeks now is Amy Sutherland's article about how she learned to train her husband by studying the training of exotic animals. The illustration is especially insulting (watch hubby jump through a hoop for a pretzel!) But I'm guessing that at least half the e-mailers are husbands. Sutherland recommends that you praise husbands for even the mildest good behavior, and avoid nagging about all the little bad things. That sounds good. I still don't think the New York Times would run a story with a whimsical illustration of a wife jumping through hoops for a pretzel....
Just when you thought the arguments of the pro-illegal immigrant crowd couldn't get any more preposterous . . . Now, the United States is being condemned for deporting illegal aliens who are violent, hardened criminals - members of homicidal street gangs.
The Los Angeles Times saw fit to allot some of its precious op-ed space today to this column by Ricardo Pollack [pictured here] who, we are told, is a "documentary director and producer. His film, '18 with a Bullet,' airs tonight on KCET as part of PBS' 'Wide Angle' series." PBS, eh? Your tax dollars at work!
We here at The Daily Iowan recently learned that the July 6 column "Minimum wage no-brainer" was largely plagiarized from a report released June 29 by the Democratic Policy Committee. On behalf of The Daily Iowan staff, I sincerely apologize and deeply regret that such a piece appeared in our newspaper.
Per staff policy, the harshest possible action has been taken against this employee, and John Heineman will no longer work for this publication. We performed an investigation of all his previous work since joining the paper in the fall of 2005. This search revealed no prior cases of plagiarism.
By 6:00 o’clock on Monday evening, an entertainingly motley crew of a hundred or so protestors had gathered across the street from New York Times headquarters at W. 43rd street in midtown Manhattan to protest the New York Times’ revelations of a secret, and successful, anti-terror program involving international bank transactions.
The stated goal of protest cosponsors Caucus for America/conservative message board Free Republic, according to a flier: "To show the New York Times that America has had enough of their irresponsible reporting of classified information that damages our country and helps our enemies!"
Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America did most of the talking (and chant-leading), stepping aside from time to time for others to speak. At one point he was joined on the cab of the Caucus truck by a Bin Laden impersonator cradling his precious copy of the Times.
The New York Times ran a sycophantic story on the "success" of "Countdown" and how it has become the "centerpiece" of MSNBC's lineup. Throughout the article, columnist Bill Carter discusses Countdown's ratings only by its growth and not by actual numbers. An ignorant reader would come away thinking that Olbermann is some television star who is a real competitor in the cable news race. The only indication Carter gives of Olbermann's ratings is when he calls "Countdown" a "dot in the rearview mirror of Fox News."
He is either the leading man of MSNBC or its leading agent provocateur, but Keith Olbermann has no problem embracing either role.
“You can’t spell momentum without Olbermann — or something like that,” he said in a telephone interview, with a typical sprinkle of wry in his voice.
Monisha Baisal of CNSNews.com also has a report on Rabbi Aryeh Spero's Caucus for America protesting in front of the New York Times building yesterday to voice the nation’s outrage at the newspaper’s publication of classified details of the government’s bank tracking of suspected al Qaeda members. If only the establishment media had given the event the same level of coverage it gives even the lamest PETA publicity stunt.
Saying the Times is jeopardizing American lives because it “wants us to lose [the war on terror]," the protestors called for the Times to be prosecuted for espionage, as well as for patrons to cancel their subscriptions.
Looking through the windows outside their New York Times headquarters, employees of the paper saw some original signs and a man dressed as the world's most infamous terrorist, clutching his favorite paper.
At a rally outside the New York Times's office last night, protesters called on the government to "prosecute" the newspaper for its recent publication of government security secrets.
Led by a radio talk show host and Caucus for America president, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, almost 100 people gathered on 43rd Street to voice their outrage at the Times's decision to publish "national security secrets relating to our government's financial monitoring programs to track down terrorists."
Somebody's got it wrong. In explaining the lower-than-projected deficit, President Bush today gave credit to his tax cuts. As reported in this AP article, in a speech Tuesday announcing the good news, "Bush said the improvement is due to tax cuts he pushed in 2001 and 2003" and keeping the lid on domestic spending.
But when the AP weighed in with its own analysis, it was 180 degrees opposite from the president's. Here's what the AP reported as fact:
"Several rounds of tax cuts, including Bush's signature $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001, also contributed to the return to deficits four years ago after four years of budget surpluses."
"Authorities overseas have arrested one man and have taken two others into custody on suspicion of planning suicide bombings in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, officials said yesterday.
Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Gail Shister notes today that Dan Rather, the new public face of HDNet's news coverage, will be a panelist for the next two installments of Chris Matthews' syndicated half-hour weekend show. (Hat tip: Romenesko.)
Not a few NewsBusters readers probably will salivate over the liberal bias to come after reading the following from Shister's column:
"We assume he'll be fabulous," says Matthews, who's been looking to book Rather for months. "Now that he's not constrained by the anchor role, he can say what he thinks. We don't know how far he's going to go."
First topic: the role of presidential power. "I'm sure he has an opinion on the rise of President Bush," Matthews says. "The topic will provoke his passions."