You're having a first conversation with someone. Alright, maybe you don't agree with him, but he seems rational. Then, out of the blue, he blurts something so strange, so disconnected from reality, that you say to yourself 'whoah! - who is this guy?' And you go back and rethink everything else he had said in light of his suddenly-exposed madness.
That's what is was like watching Chris Matthews' interview of Ken Auletta on this evening's Hardball. Alright, Auletta's the media columnist of the New Yorker. So you have no illusions. This is a liberal. Even so, he seems so urbane, so calm, even reasonable. You could almost imagine having a drink and a conversation at sunset on the deck of one of those fancy Hampton houses you picture him visiting on weekends.
The world's second-richest man, Warren Buffett, has asked Sen. Ken Salazar to vote against repealing the estate tax.
Buffett sent a letter to Salazar, D-Colo., the senator's spokesman, Drew Nannis, said. The multibillionaire Monday called on Congress not to repeal the tax.
Repealing the entire estate tax now would cost the government an estimated $550 billion to $700 billion through 2010. (emphasis added - ed.)
The Post gives no citation for this number, nor does it consider the additional wealth that will be created by businesses that can, well, stay in business after their owners die. And once again, note the assumption that it's the Government's money. If the estate tax comes back, it will be on estates over $1 million. Most estates over that number aren't just cash sitting around under mattresses. They're in businesses that employ people.
The first clause of one sentence in a Tuesday MSNBC.com blog entry: "Folks, we need to pause here and really examine just how derelict the MSM has become..."
That certainly sounds promising, but, alas, here's the second clause: "...and just how entrenched the entire corporate media enterprise is in terms of allowing the Republican party to dictate coverage on key political issues." The blogger in question, who's specifically talking about last week's Iraq debate in the Senate, is Eric (Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush) Boehlert, filling in for Eric (What Liberal Media?) Alterman.
Boehlert goes on: "The fact that the lapdog press allows it to happen on behalf of a historically unpopular president just boggles the mind. (And yes, the USA Today poll confirmed Bush's much-anticipated June bounce was non-existent.)" You'd think that if the media really were in the tank for Bush, they'd rig the poll in his favor, thereby manufacturing a bounce, but...whatever.
The criticism of the New York Times for its bank-monitoring story has gotten so bad, says Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, that "I think those folks would repeal the First Amendment tomorrow if they could," he says, speaking of conservative criticism in the blogosphere and elsewhere.
Kurtz holds the classic MSM belief that First Amendment = New York Times, that you can't have one without the other. Since the New York Times is the very embodiment of one part of the Constitution, it is equal to President Bush, who is merely the embodiment of another part.
Man, I have never seen this kind of Times-bashing before.
There is one heckuva conservative backlash building against the New York Times for publishing that piece about the administration's secret access to banking records in terror investigations.
The New York Times’ irresponsible banking spy scoop is looking more and more like it will backfire on the paper, causing both a public relation nightmare and raising plausible legal concerns for both the leakers and the journalists they leaked to, as conservatives debate consequences for the paper's behavior.
Four days after it appeared on Friday's front page, the banking spy scoop is still roiling on Fox News and in the blogosphere. Taking the Web's temperature finds the right side enraged, engaged, and red hot, while it’s rather quiet on the left-wing front, indicating that just maybe the Times may have gone too far to rely on its usual allies to rise up in defense.
A regular advertiser in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, the Mercedes-Benz dealership RBM of Atlanta, has apologized for an editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich that compared Al-Qaeda terrorists to the U.S. in torturing captives. Lest anyone think they were sponsoring the cartoon, the dealership paid for a full-page ad in the paper to beg for forgiveness.
To Our Clients:
We are sorry!
While we strongly affirm the right of free speech, the June 22, 2006 Mike Luckovich cartoon depicting the U.S. as torturers on par with Al-Qaida was very offensive to us. Moreover, to publish this cartoon directly above the pictures of the two brave men who gave their lives, willingly, and were tortured and mutilated in service to their country (and each of us) is unacceptable.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared on FNC's "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning to address the "breathtaking arrogance" of the New York Times deciding what national-security secrets should be divulged. Brent loved John Snow's letter noting that arrogance, and suggested that the Times didn't show a "left-wing agenda" on this story, but a "far-left-wing agenda." See our posted video and handy Times Watch links here. Here's a transcript:
Co-host E.D. Hill: “Our next guest says the New York Times is guilty of treason. Treason, for publishing that piece on that secret government program that tracks terrorist finances.”
If the mark of a person at ease with himself is the ability to have a chuckle at his own expense, then Rush Limbaugh is a supremely serene man. In the wake of the incident in which he was detained at the Palm Beach International Airport when it was discovered he had in his luggage a vial of Viagra with a prescription not in his name, you might have imagined that Rush would have begun today's show with an indignant denial of wrongdoing. He might have explained in tedious detail that in fact the prescription had, with personal privacy in mind, been written in his doctor's name.
But no. Rush opened by poking gentle fun at the situation, and even, in the process, at himself:
Readers are duly cautioned to put down their cups of coffee, for this one is toooooo funny. The left-leaning website “Raw Story” on Monday reported comments made by members of the popular conservative website “Free Republic” to a post concerning the recent revelations by The New York Times of the counterterrorism program using SWIFT. This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with what NewsBuster Tim Graham reported Tuesday concerning accusations of such behavior from the right by a New Orleans journalist. Is this a strategy developing on the part of the media to obfuscate the real issue?
Regardless of the answer, the comedy at Raw Story actually began with the headline (coffee cups down, please!): “Posters at right-wing board threaten to kill Times editors, reporters.”
Don’t pick up your coffee yet, for the article began: “Posters at the right-wing Free Republic message board today were roused into a fury of indignation by a news story about the New York Times' revelations of the administration's illegal programs of warrantless surveillance.”
Illegal programs? Warrantless surveillance? There have been no allegations, even by The Times, that any laws either domestic or international were violated by this program. Moreover, subpoenas were issued for all of the banking examinations performed during this operation. However, that was just the beginning, for the article then quoted some of the responses posted at FP:
So, where’s the media outcry when liberals resort to “hate speech?” First, Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, drops the “F-bomb” in a profane verbal assault on two employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs at a press event. The AP made a passing reference to the incident, then quickly removed it. No one else in the establishment media saw fit to report the story, or call for an apology (or even an explanation) from Filner.
Now, the website of Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), who charged last March that the Capitol Police harassed her because she is "a female black Congresswoman," uses racial slurs, calling a fellow black female Democrat an “Oreo” and white Republicans "good ol' boy cracker-crats” having a “hootenanny.” Again, where’s the media outcry against the public, political use of these hurtful racial epithets?
In the letters section of the Poynter Institute's Romenesko media-news site, a man named Dennis Persica, a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune (most recent news dispatch here), wrote that with the anti-press animus of conservatives right now, it's possible that the New York Times could face a break-in by the U.S. Attorney's office. But the speculation grew much wilder, against Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin and their fans:
You can count on the Limbaughs and Malkins of the world to defend the move. Just look at these posters on Malkin's website. There is a significant portion of their fanbase who couldn't care less if every journalist in the country was simply jailed or gunned down. (Remember Ann Coulter's comments about the New York Times building?) Even supposedly saner voices, like Bill Bennett and Rep. Peter King, have joined in the chorus.
White House press secretary Tony Snow was asked a number of questions during Monday’s press briefing regarding Friday’s revelations by The New York Times of a highly classified counterterrorism strategy involving a banking cooperative in Belgium called SWIFT (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). After one such question, Snow took the Times to task: “[I]f The New York Times decides that it is going to try to assume responsibility for determining which classified secrets remain classified and which don’t, it ought to accept some of the obligations of that responsibility; it ought to be able to take the heat, as well.”
He marvelously continued:
“Traditionally in this country in a time of war, members of the press have acknowledged that the Commander-in-Chief, in the exercise of his powers, sometimes has to do things secretly in order to protect the public. This is a highly unusual departure. It’s interesting, The Times, talking about this being a—this program having been a departure from previous banking efforts. This is also a departure from long-standing traditions here in the United States.”
And even more marvelously concluded: “The New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public’s right to know, in some cases, might override somebody’s right to live, and whether, in fact, the publications of these could place in jeopardy the safety of fellow Americans."
What follows is a full transcript of this exchange, along with a video link courtesy of Expose the Left. For those that are interested, more commentary and a detailed analysis of this subject can be found here.
Come on, Carl. The Tigers are in first place. GM announced some good news this morning. The sun is gonna shine again. Why so cranky?
The senior Democratic senator from Michigan had some very testy exchanges with Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade this morning. The topic was possible troop reductions in Iraq. Levin has been leading the Dem charge in alleging that the Bush administration is orchestrating the drawdowns with an eye on the November elections.
At one point, the give-and-take went like this
Brian: "Judging by conditions on the ground, do you think the President enjoys having troops over in Iraq? Do you think he would keep them there one day past where they should be there or have to be in harm's way?
The Seer of MSNBC hath spoken: no matter how good the news might be now for President Bush, he will be in worse shape come the November elections.
That was Chris Matthews' reading of the entrails on this morning's Today show. Guest-hosting David Gregory interviewed him, and, sounding the same theme we saw over at this morning's Early Show, cast the controversy over the latest leak of an anti-terror program not as a threat to national security, but as "this attack on the New York Times."
Gregory teed up this softball for Matthews: "The question is, whether should we be taking their [the administration's] word for it, that these are legal programs? Do you think the administration, any administration, has earned the right . . . to protect that kind of secret?"
Given NewsBusters' goal of exposing outrageous liberal media bias, perhaps I should switch focus from the Katie-less Today to Harry Smith & Co. at the Early Show. I rarely check in on the show, which has languished seemingly forever in last place. But, happening upon it this morning, Smith's bald-faced bias left me breathless.
Smith's guest was Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. Talk was first of the proposed flag-burning amendment. A snide Smith observed:
"I'm just curious about this. Because somewhere I read in the last couple of days in the entire history of the republic there have only been 200 documented serious incidents of this in the entire history of the United States." Lotta history there, Harry.
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.