Darn it, when the MSM have a Republican in their sights, shouldn't he have the good grace to sit there and take it until he's hounded from office? That would appear to be NBC's operative principle, judging by Today's coverage of the Rumsfeld flap. Much of the emphasis this morning was not so much on the substance of the controversy but on the fact that the Pentagon is fighting back against the calls for Rumsfeld's ouster.
Topping it all was the very first question that Matt Lauer posed to his guest, retired Marine Lt. General Mike DeLong, a Rumsfeld defender:
"Have you been asked by Secretary Rumsfeld to be here on his behalf?"
Jonathan Alter is having an utterly typical week in his "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box at Newsweek this week, labeled the "You're Doing a Heckuva Job, Rummy Edition." Once again, there is absolutely no separation between what the average MoveOn.org type thinks and what Alter writes:
Bush gets the typical down arrow: "Hearty Rummy endorsement shows he still puts loyalty before reality. And accountability? Ha!"
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, another down arrow: "Puts own ego ahead of White House needs. Time to fall on your sword, for goodness' sake."
"Generals" (and by this, Newsweek means Bush-Hating Generals) get a sideways arrow: "Candor about Iraq failures is good, but where were you in '03? Families of the fallen want to know."
Teen actress Lindsay Lohan guest hosted Saturday Night Live on April 15. In the opening skit she played a press secretary who pretends to replace actual White House press secretary Scott McClellan. With all the administration reshuffling of late, the joke was that the White House was desperate to find people to fill jobs, including hiring a 16-year-old babysitter (Lohan) to replace McClellan.
This all happened on a fictional version of CNN's "Situation Room" with anchor Wolf Blitzer.
The fictional Wolf Blitzer speculated about who would leave the administration next.
"John Snow, Scott McClellan and Donald Rumsfeld are rumored to be next. Is this the beginning of a Bush staff bloodbath?"
There was breaking news.
"This just in. White House press secretary Scott McClellan resigned to, quote, "spend more time with his family." His replacement has already been named as Brittany Doyle. What can you tell us about Brittany Doyle, Terry?"
Terry Kent, the new White House chief of staff, says Brittany Doyle is "Chief Justice Roberts' baby-sitter. She's 16. Very popular in her school, very confident. And chairman of the prom committee. I think she's a great choice to handle the White House press corps."
The Washington Post's Sunday "Book World" section published two book reviews today offering some notice and praise for new books by New York Times reporters/authors.
One was a review of recently departed New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer and his new America-bashing book "Overthrow." Julia Sweig oozed: "Kinzer's narrative abounds with unusual anecdotes, vivid description and fine detail, demonstrating why he ranks among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling, especially for those on the left." She loved his book "Bitter Fruit" on American intervention in Guatemala. (Short summary: Kinzer was against it.) He's a raving leftist, but Times top editor Bill Keller still insists they don't run a liberal newsroom over there.
Matt Drudge has linked to a Los Angeles Times article by Robin Abcarian about Katie Couric's perpetual association with the P-word: "perky." She is NOT happy with the word.
A spokesman for Couric, who declined to be interviewed for this story, said he thinks the word has attached to her like a limpet because of simple journalistic laziness. "It's an incomplete depiction of a versatile multidimensional success story," said Matthew Hiltzik.
Following up on a piece in the New York Observer, Abcarian quotes Connie Chung complaining about the G-word ("gravitas") as sexist. (Earth to Connie: if you didn't want to be stuck with allegedly demeaning labels, you should have told Dan Rather that there was NO way you were co-anchoring from Tonya Harding's skating rink.) Here's how it goes:
Friday offered a good illustration of how the “news” is a manufactured product, an optional creation with a lot of room for spin in the “news judgment.” All three network morning shows brought on Gen. John Batiste to argue for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. Now conduct this imaginative exercise. A set of retired generals in the Clinton years comes out and demands that the Defense Secretary resign. Would they be salivated over by the newspapers and network bookers? Would they get on all three network morning shows to be asked about how the Clinton administration is a disaster? It’s more likely that the media would take the White House side: disloyal generals would be disdained as if they preferred a military junta run the country, or that they were Clinton-haters who despised the president because he dodged the draft in the Vietnam era.
The GOP senator had appeared the previous night before the Scituate Republican Town Committee to seek the endorsement of the small but influential group. In his halting, soft-spoken way, Chafee defended his opposition to the war in Iraq, domestic wiretapping and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. as the principled positions of an old-school conservative.
You really couldn’t script this any better: Three prominent liberal media members (the third is a player to be named later!) challenging another over what Democrats stand for. And, the beauty is that these folks are actually blogging their disgust with one another for all to read. Go get some popcorn, because this is literally a three ring circus!
Our story begins on Tuesday, April 11 at a breakfast sponsored by HBO and the Council on Foreign Relations. Early the following morning, the Nation’s Eric Alterman posted at his TIME blog his discontent with something TIME’s Joe Klein said at the affair: “It was a useful discussion with many useful tributaries and give and take with the audience and we all felt better for it. That is right up until the very last moment when, after someone brought up the question of the whether the Democrats will be able to present an effective alternative to Bush in the next election, Joe Klein shouted out, ‘Well they won’t if their message is that they hate America—which is what has been the message of the liberal wing of the party for the past twenty years.’”
Seems like a sound and impartial observation by Klein. However, Alterman wasn’t pleased: “Excuse me, but I think this is worth some attention. It’s not about Klein per se, who after all, is best known to most Americans as the guy who lost his job at both Newsweek and CBS News for purposely misleading editors, readers and viewers in order to increase his own personal profit as the allegedly ‘anonymous’ author of ‘Primary Colors.’” Get the sense that this is going to get good? It does:
An outraged liberal tried to connect a fictional neo-Nazi group, the "Grey Wolves," to a rally of the Minutemen United, an Ohio-based Christian group that planned to rally in Danbury, Conn.
The man, who calls himself both Rick Renage and Rick Regado, emailed a reporter for the Danbury News-Times that three busloads of Grey Wolves would show up wearing "black pants, black boots, red sox with black jackets and the swastika branded on the back." The purpose of his email was to tarnish the reputation of those rallying, and hopefully diminish their influence.
The News-Times believed the email and reported it, causing the city of Danbury to withdraw the permit for the rally.
When realizing his prank had actually worked, the man contacted the police and the newspaper to apologize.
Just when you thought Hollywood had reached the limit of things they could blame on President Bush, along comes the director of “Hostel”, Eli Roth. Roth was a guest on Friday’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto”. When asked why horror movies were resurging in such troubling times, Roth pointed directly at the Bush Administration (video link to follow).
Roth claimed that people wanted to scream because of the “things going on in the world” and the government’s failure to help after Hurricane Katrina. He explained that horror movies offered a safe environment which allowed people to scream. Roth went on to say the seemingly “never ending war”, fighting people that do not care about our money, our “disorganized army” with “scared kids” for soldiers and the generals calling for Rumsfeld’s resignation were specific reasons for the need of an emotional release offered by horror movies.
According to Editor & Publisher (hat tip to Drudge), rock singer Neil Young recently recorded a song entitled “Impeach the President” which is to be included on his new CD. Apparently, there have been rumors on the Internet that Young was working on an anti-Bush album for some time. These were somewhat confirmed by a blog entry made at Last Turn Left B4 Hooterville on April 7. The blog is the work of Alicia Morgan, a Sherman Oaks, California, musician with a devout hatred of the current administration (emphasis mine):
“On Wednesday, I was at work when I got a call for a Neil Young session the next day. Needless to say, I was excited about it - Neil Young is one of my musical heroes. When my husband and I got to Capitol, we found 98 other singers, a collection of L.A.'s finest. All I knew was that we were singing on a new Neil Young record, but when the lyrics we were supposed to sing flashed on the giant screen, a roar went up from the choir. I'm not going to give the whole thing away, but the first line of one of the songs was ‘Let's impeach the President for lyin'!’"
Isn’t that special? Nothing brings out the music in me more than a good impeachment. Mercilessly, Morgan continued:
Different day, different Today show anchor, different attitude. As we documented yesterday, Couric's Complaint: Why Won't Rumsfeld Critic Bash Bush Too?, when Katie Couric hosted a segment on the matter of the retired generals calling for Donald Rumsfeld's ouster, she chose as her guest one of the generals calling for Rumsfeld's head. Her most notable contributions to the discussion were to invite her guest to take a shot at Pres. Bush as long as he was at it, and to ask why he didn't come out sooner with his criticism so he could have 'shaped public opinion far earlier.'
This morning it was Lester Holt's turn in the Today show host seat. Now, it might just be in the normal course of the news cycle that his guest was a former general who is opposed to Rumsfeld's departure. But there was no mistaking Holt's even-handed treatment of the issues, in stark contrast with Couric's cheerleading for the Rumsfeld-must-go crowd.
Hard-left anti-war reporter Seymour Hersh, who tried so hard in 2004 to get President Bush defeated with the Abu Ghraib scandal, and was given many media opportunities to make his case, had another great week in the media this week with his New Yorker article suggesting Bush wanted to drop bunker-busting nukes on Iranian nuclear sites. As usual, the article was larded with anonymous sources that no one can check or evaluate for political motives.
In interviews on network morning TV this week, no challenge to Hersh’s reporting genius emerged. Both hyped his Pulitzer (is that required before he accepts the invite?) On CBS Monday, MRC's Mike Rule found co-host Hannah Storm didn't challenge Hersh's methods or conclusions, just asking instead for wisdom from the oracle. Notice how many times she promotes him by saying "You say" and repeating his publicity points:
Tim Vincent, the Britain-born New York correspondent for Access Hollywood, sported a hammer and sickle T-shirt on Friday's show as he stood in front of NBC's Rockefeller Plaza complex and introduced a piece on American Dreamz, the movie takeoff of American Idol. Though he wore a jacket over the red shirt with the symbol of the regime which murdered tens of millions and oppressed hundreds of millions more for decades, a gold hammer and sickle was clearly visible inside a red star. The gold-outlined red star, sans the hammer and sickle, matches the Soviet's Red Army emblem. I don't get it. Is this some kind of cool statement with thirtysomethings, elite New Yorkers or Brits? Or is it just part of some promotion for an upcoming movie? Imagine the proper outrage that would explode if he had worn a Nazi swastika. I put "hammer and sickle t-shirt" into the Copernic search engine and though I did not find the exact shirt adorned by Vincent, I was shocked to find a couple of dozen sites which sell hammer and sickle T-shirts -- and mugs too.
Vincent, a veteran of the BBC as detailed in his posted bio, is also a contributor of celebrity news for NBC's Today show. Access Hollywood is produced by NBC at its Burbank facility and is carried in the early evening by all the NBC-owned stations -- and by affiliates of NBC and other networks in other cities.
The controversy over Comedy Central's decision to censor its show "South Park" continues to heat up. Late Thursday, the network issued a statement admitting that it did refuse to run a scene which featured a cartoon depiction of the Muslim prophet Muhammed.
"In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision," the cable channel said.
That decision has sparked howls of protest from fans and critics, making it the most-searched for term on the blog search engine Technorati (ht Michelle Malkin).
The show's executive producer, Ann Garefino, confirmed that the network censored the scene, stating that she believed it did so out of "fear" of protests or violence.
"We were happy that they didn’t try to claim that it was because of religious tolerance," Garefino said in an interview with Volokh.com.
She was not aware of any particular threats being made against the show or Comedy Central had the deleted scene aired.
Demonstrating that for the press corps “maverick” means going to the left -- or at least that you're a conservative-basher -- ABC's World News Tonight on Friday aired a story fretting about how the media's favorite Republican has agreed to give the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. “During his 2000 campaign, McCain gathered support as a straight-talking maverick by attacking some members of his party's base,” anchor Elizabeth Vargas recalled while viewers saw "Right Turn?" beneath a picture of McCain. She then warned: “Now it appears he's on a very different course.” Reporter Dan Harris fondly remembered how in 2000 “straight talk included taking on powerful Christian conservatives like Jerry Falwell, whom he called an 'agent of intolerance.'" Harris then repeatedly pushed McCain to denounce Falwell: "Let me just press you on this. Do you think he's still an 'agent of intolerance'?...So do you take back your statement about him being an 'agent of intolerance'?"
Harris helpfully reminded viewers that "since 2000, Falwell has said Jews can't go to heaven unless they accept Christ, and on The 700 Club, that gays and feminists bore responsibility for 9/11." Noting how analysts say McCain is trying to “repair relations with the religious right” before he launches another presidential bid, Harris cautioned McCain: “Politicians often try to appeal to the party's base, but for McCain, doing so could jeopardize his reputation for being a different kind of politician.” Of course, given the disrepute the media and many Republicans hold for Falwell, you could argue that reaching out to him is a “maverick” move for McCain. But you're only a “maverick” to journalists when you undermine a conservative or boost a liberal position. (Transcript follows.)
Three days after CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered, on The Situation Room, “if Bill Clinton could run for President again, would he be re-elected?" and Jack Cafferty excitedly agreed “he probably would be, in a heartbeat” since "Clinton would be the answer to a prayer” for Democrats, CNN's Bill Schneider on Friday awarded Bill Clinton with his “Political Play of the Week.” Schneider touted how “in a series of appearances this week, the former President made a point of separating his career from his wife's,” so “if Senator Clinton runs for President, it will be harder to depict her campaign as the Clinton restoration.” Schneider trumpeted how this week Bill Clinton had “won the 'Great American Award' from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the 'J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.'”After a clip of Clinton praising Jimmy Carter for how “he won a Nobel Prize, which he richly deserved, as much for what he did after he left the White House as when he was in," Schneider heralded how "Bill Clinton is still campaigning for the Nobel Peace Prize. But, for now, he'll just have to settle for the 'Political Play of the Week.'" (Transcript follows.)
Tim Graham and Mark Finkelstein have already reported on the mainstream media's Rumsfeld bashing interviews with retired General John Batiste. So it’s no surprise that TheEarly Show has also piled on. In a segment that aired at 7:05AM EDT, on the April 14 edition, correspondent Bill Plante listed the generals who are calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. It was a fairly straightforward piece, but Plante couldn’t resist getting in at least one liberal zinger:
Plante: "The White House says that the defense secretary hasn't discussed resigning with the president and the president isn't about to fire him. Of course if the president did, he'd be admitting that he had failed."
MRC's Brian Boyd found this morning that like NBC, ABC's Good Morning America also leaped on the chance to interview Rumsfeld-bashing Gen. John Batiste. Co-host Diane Sawyer said in the show's first secondsRevolt of the generals. As of this morning, six retired generals call for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to resign. One of them, a top battlefield commander, joins us live."
At 7:12, Sawyer returned to "that drumbeat of calls for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to step down. Six prominent retired generals say it is time for a change of leadership at the Pentagon. And this morning joining us to tell us about the seismic rumble and also the reaction is ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman leading things off, Claire."
Shipman underlined: "Diane, this is extraordinarily unusual. Military officers almost always keep political opinions quiet. Now, six retired generals, 15 stars all together, aligned against Donald Rumsfeld and his prosecution of this war. Secretary Rumsfeld in the crosshairs and each day seems to bring reinforcements in this revolt of retired generals. Just last night retired Major General Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne in Iraq, joined the calls for Rumsfeld's resignation. This week retired Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, who held a key position in war planning, suggested 'replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach.' And retired Army Major General John Batiste, who served in Iraq leading the Army's 1st Infantry Division in 2004 and 2005, also suggested Rumsfeld should resign. Last month another top officer who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces, retired Major General Paul Eaton, wrote 'Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.' Calling him 'incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.'"
Let’s all give one collective “Awwwwww” for the newspaper industry that seems destined to go the way of the Dodo bird. As reported by The New York Times on Friday, the first quarter was another bad period for an industry which continues to see ad revenues decline as America’s readers increasingly lose interest in their content:
“The newspaper industry continues to flag financially, with three companies — The New York Times, Tribune and McClatchy — reporting sharply lower first-quarter earnings yesterday.
“Executives of all of the newspaper companies said they were hurt by stagnant advertising, particularly in the automotive and entertainment categories, and a continuing rise in the cost of newsprint. The Times Company and Tribune also cited the cost of severance packages after cutting hundreds of jobs.”
Nobody seemed immune to the contagion that continues to devastate the industry: