Jonathan Miles' biweekly column on specialty drinks unearths yet more proof of global warming -- his "hot toddy" arrived cold.
"By proposing to add polar bears to the list of 'threatened' species last month, the Bush administration seemed to finally acknowledge that global warming is taking a toll. With rising sea temperatures shrinking the polar ice cap, 'the polar bears’ habitat,' said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, 'may literally be melting,'' he argues in the Sunday Styles section.
"Closer to home and heart, I’d been worrying about another sort of species that -- at least this season -- seems terribly vulnerable to climate change: the hot toddy. "
If MSNBC is so determined to fight it out with Fox News, why did they tilt so heavily on Monday toward promoting Fox entertainment – to be specific, ‘American Idol’? Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough both devoted entire interview segments to the less-than-Earth-shaking speculation that ‘Idol’ judge Paula Abdul sounded drunk in interviews with local TV stations. Both had ‘Plastered Paula’ graphics. ‘Tucker’ handled the story, too, but for less time and without going to "experts" for comment. Some wondered if he was drunk when he said ‘Yes’ to trying to win "Dancing With the Stars."
Last night ABC’s Boston Legal was packed full of political jabs. Lawyer Denny Crane (played by William Shatner) was placed on the "No Fly List" and when Alan Shore (played by James Spader) asked if Crane has called for help, his response was, "Well, I can’t get anybody. I called Tom Delay, his number’s disconnected. Foley has got his hands full, Frist said, "Don’t take it personally." I called Clarence Thomas; his office said he was indisposed." Shore then asked, "How you tried going right to the top?" Crane’s response was, "Cheney?"
Soon after, Shore described Crane to a Homeland Security official saying, "Mr. Murch... there is nobody more red, white and blue than this man here. He's for the death penalty. He's pro-life. He doesn't read newspapers. He's exercised every loophole to avoid paying taxes. He's even donated to. The Jack Abramoff ball."
On Wednesday, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with all 16 female members of the Senate. The January 17 interview, broken up into two segments, ranged from silly questions, such as whether more women leaders could result in less war, to queries about whether America is too prejudiced to accept a female president. One question that did go unasked is whether Senator Barbara Boxer, who didn’t appear on camera, should apologize for her recent insinuation that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is oblivious to the effects of war because she doesn’t have children. One would think that in a group of professional women this would be an important topic. Apparently not. Sawyer began by asking the assembled ladies whether or not more women presidents would lead to peace:
Sawyer: "Do you believe that if there were more women presidents in the world, there would be less war? How sure are you that there would be less war? Do you think, actually, war would be--"
With all the negative focus on an Emmy Award-winning television drama, one has to start wondering if the media are more afraid of “24” and any reference to terrorism than terrorism itself.
As NewsBusters has reported here, here, here, here, and here, the media have been in quite a lather about the first four episodes of the hit series' sixth season aired on Fox Sunday and Monday. Thanks to a report CNN did Tuesday (video available here, hat tip to Hot Air), we can now add Newsweek to the growing list of concerned media outlets. (Please be advised that it’s been difficult to identify whether this was just a web-broadcast on CNN.com, or something aired on television).
In his January 12 review, Newsweek’s Devin Gordon wrote: “Depending on your perspective, '24' is either a neocon sex fantasy or the collective id of our nation unleashed.” Much like other recent media carps and whines concerning this show, Gordon used his review as an opportunity to swipe at the current president:
Here's Hillary's idea of diplomacy: bend to her will, or she'll put your life in danger. And that's how she treats our allies.
Yikes. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, let me try to send a message to Hillary's handlers: emergency personality makeover required! A couple more appearances as angry and unpleasant as this morning's on Today and Hillary's odds of winning the Dem nomination will be as slim as those she accorded to that of the surge succeeding.
The strategy for Hillary's conversation with Matt Lauer was transparent. Because her substantive position on Iraq is not as anti-war as that of Obama or Edwards, Hillary sought to compensate, in appealing to Dem primary voters, by sounding angrier about our policy than either of her rivals. From that perspective, you might say: Mission Accomplished. This was Hillary, rhetorically speaking, packing an M-4, grenades slung, knife between teeth.
But at what cost to her likability? Don't voters have to be able to warm up to a candidate? Yet Hillary hovered barely above absolute zero.
Beyond her tone, her message was about as cold-blooded as you can get. Twice she suggested threatening to cut off funding for the personal security of Iraq's leaders. As Hillary put it: "I don't think we should continue to fund the protection for the Iraqi government leaders or for the training and equipping of their army unless they meet certain conditions."
This was no idle threat. It was clearly a key element of Hillary's plan, one she repeated later:
"I [suggest] putting leverage on them and saying 'you know what, we provide security for the members of this government, we're cutting funding for that.'"
Since we’ve touched on the topic of the media celebrating women’s "independence" from men, there’s also this. On Monday’s Today, in the 8:00 am hour, NBC aired a story and a debate segment on a hot trend of mothers who choose to have fatherless children, "no man required." But this wasn’t merely a news story, but a cheerleading report, complete with supportive music bubbling underneath (including "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves," the 1980s feminist pop song by the Eurythmics with Aretha Franklin.) When they allowed a few seconds of dissent, all the music stopped. In the debate segment, co-host Meredith Vieira’s questions were fairly tough, but the feminist guest walked all over the defender of fatherhood with strange arguments: "I think selfish gets a bad rap. Every parent, to be a good parent, has to be selfish."
Vieira began: "In the old days, women who had children out of wedlock were few and far between. But now a record number of single women are having children on their own, no man required. More now from NBC’s Janet Shamlian."
The night after the four-hour, two-night season premiere of Fox's 24 ended with a “suitcase nuke” being set off by Middle Eastern terrorists in a Southern California warehouse, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann saw a nefarious plot to aid President Bush: “Is 24 just entertainment or is it propaganda designed to keep people thinking about domestic terrorism to keep us scared?” He demanded Tuesday night: “Gripping drama or thinly veiled propaganda?” Leading into reciting a posting on NewsBusters by Noel Sheppard (Mark Finkelstein's post with video of Olbermann quoting from NewsBusters), Olbermann recounted how 24 “featured a mall attack, a would-be suicide bomber on a subway, and a successful suicide bombing on a passenger bus. Not in places where these things have already happened, but in a country called the United States of America. In case you missed the point, the show finished up with a nuclear weapon detonating in a major American city, literally conjuring up the administration's imagery for the war in Iraq, the good old mushroom cloud.”
Olbermann then posed a series of absurd questions to Robert Greenwald, producer of the comically anti-FNC movie, Outfoxed. His options for Greenwald: “Is 24 propaganda? Is it fearmongering? Or is it a program-length commercial for one political party?” Olbermann soon proposed that “if the irrational right can claim that the news is fixed to try to alter people's minds or that networks should be boycotted for nudity or for immorality,” then “shouldn't those same groups be saying 24 should be taken off of TV because it's naked brainwashing?” Suggesting some sort of Fox-White House conspiracy, Olbermann tossed up: “But does this not begin to look at this point like the blurring of the lines here,” between fact and fiction, “is deliberate?”
This morning, NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein reported (here) how CBS anchors yucked it up over a front-page story in today's New York Times that blared, "51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse." This study is nothing to laugh at. It's incredibly misleading, if not dishonest.
The Times got their numbers from the Census Bureau's new American Community Survey, which surveyed "117 million women over the age of 15." Wait a minute. "Over the age of 15"?
Is it really a surprise that millions of 15-20 year-olds are "living without spouse"? It shouldn't be. In addition to several cultural factors (some of which the Times touched on), the age of consent in the United States averages just over 16 years of age. In several states, including California, it's 18.
Just as when Democratic Senator Barack Obama said he was considering a presidential campaign last October, his announcement Monday -- via a Web video that he has set up an exploratory committee -- unleashed media excitement. The CBS Evening News treated it as one of the two big stories of the day: “I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change.” After that tease, Couric announced: “Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment.”
Over on ABC's World News, which devoted more than four minutes to the topic, anchor Kate Snow trumpeted how “Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House.” She soon trumpeted how “the presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate.” Snow even spun a negative into a positive: “His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus.” NBC anchor Brian Williams teased “a big step tonight for Barack Obama” before touting how “a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President.”
Keith Olbermann is scared. Not by the threat of terrorism in the United States. But at the notion that "24" might be raising Americans' awareness of the threat. And he has singled out NewsBusters for the role it has played in highlighting the issue.
Olbermann devoted a Countdown segment this evening to "24", suggesting that its two-night, four-hour season opener should have been sufficient to "scare or outrage you." Incomprehensibly, Olbermann complained that the show depicted various terrorist suicide attacks "not in places where these things already happened, but in a country called the United States of America." Is it possible that Keith Olbermann has forgotten 9-11?
On Tuesday, jury selection began in the trial of Lewis Libby. And "Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman couldn’t resist spinning this occasion into an attack against President Bush. Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He does not, however, face prosecution for publically outing Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. However, through sloppy phrasing and omission, Shipman encouraged the assumption that this is yet another example of the Bush administration’s misconduct. The most brazen example is the GMA reporter’s description of the "original crime":
Claire Shipman: "Prosecutors are trying to show that Libby lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, the undercover agent who was outed. Libby blames a faulty memory. And in classic Washington style, Libby isn't in trouble for the original crime, outing Plame, but, rather, the, quote, ‘the cover up,’ according to the prosecutor."
No government official has been charged with revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. So, how can there be an "original crime?"
It appears impossible for Time magazine to do anything without bringing its liberal bias into the equation, for in his January 14 review of the return of television hero Jack Bauer, writer James Poniewozik asked, “So, is 24 a conservative show?”
Checking that link about now to measure my veracity? Go ahead. I dare you.
Sadly, the answer seemed just as foolish as the question: “Yes, in the sense that the thriller is a conservative genre.”
He wrote that. I swear. Check if for yourself. But there’s more:
Gas prices and oil prices have been slipping lately, just not at the same rate. And that's a "real scandal" to some liberal, self-styled consumer advocates like Judy Dugan of The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights. That's all well and good, of course, except when the media parrot the complaint and don't explain the group's biases.
That's exactly what we found from USA Today's front page treatment of sliding oil prices in its January 16 edition.
You can fill up here or read below the jump to top off the tank:
Former President Jimmy Carter was interviewed by Al-Jazeera on Sunday (hat tip to LGF, video available here), and the former peanut farmer made some statements that many in America might find quite objectionable.
For instance: “Well, I don’t really consider, I wasn’t equating the Palestinian missiles with terrorism.” What? Excuse me? Palestinian missiles aren't acts of terrorism? Really?
Alas, that was just the beginning of a series of truly shocking comments made by a former president on an Arab television network that has continually shown itself to be hostile to American interests. Take a gander at this next abomination if you've got the stomach for it:
Particularly when you consider the ramifications for millions of children growing up without a two-parent family, the news that 51% of women in America now live without a spouse [up from 35% in 1950] is serious indeed. But the decline of the basic building block of society was nothing but a laughing matter for the boys of the Early Show.
Rather than seeing any cause for concern, CBS displayed the graphic seen here blithely informing viewers: "No Husband Needed."
As Russ Mitchell threw the story to Harry Smith, he mirthfully proclaimed:
"So Harry, now there's now statistical data for what we always knew: they really don't need us, do they?"
Two media tidbits today. Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports: "Count Larry King among Katie Couric’s fans. The venerable CNN host watches the new anchor of the CBS Evening News and thinks her ratings struggles have more to do with gender than with journalism. "It might still be hard for a woman to anchor the evening news," King says. "And that’s sad."
King also said it may take a major news event to help the former Today host shed her perky image: "Hurricane Katrina made Anderson Cooper. It could happen to Katie that way." (Larry slammed O'Reilly and Nancy Grace here.)
On Howard Kurtz's chat at washingtonpost.com, Kurtz was asked about the MSNBC v. Fox fight, specifically mentioning that O'Reilly has some liberals on his show (as foils, usually, he claimed), and Olbermann doesn't generally have conservatives on his show. A questioner asked:
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
For three years, President Bush has been portrayed as stubborn on Iraq, so defiant that it’s disturbing, perhaps even a sign of delusional certitude. There’s a mirror image at play: those doing the portraying, i.e., the media have been every bit as stubborn when it comes to their defiant insistence that everything that happens in Iraq, no matter how positive, is another peg for bad news coverage.
We acknowledge that the daily drumbeat of death pounded by the media is based on facts. That does not mean that all death is bad. In war, it is a tragedy to learn that your countrymen have fallen. It is cause for celebration when the enemy dies. But for the American news media, all news is bad news if the theater is Iraq.