The last two weeks have been pivotal in this debate ever since Nature Biotechnology published a study that was co-authored by researcher Paolo De Coppi and Anthony Atala through Harvard and Wake Forest Universities, 7 years ago. The study details advances in stem cell research that could be achieved faster and safer with amniotic fluid than could be achieved with embryonic stem cells. In addition, it is being reported that the amniotic stem cells don’t have the propensity to turn into runaway cancer like tumors as has been demonstrated in many embryonic stem cell trials to date.
In the 8 am hour of NBC's Today on Wednesday, they hailed old co-host Barbara Walters (then given the lesser title of "panelist") and showed old 1970s clips -- often with Walters sounding liberal notes. Viewers in 2007 saw a list of golden oldies showing Barbara's moxie, including:
"Let's get out! Just get out of Vietnam."
"This is Womanhood Day...Get your own cup of coffee!"
And touring the disastrous Cultural Revolution in communist China: "Today, the women in China speak of their total equality with men." Equally poor and oppressed. Sometimes equally murdered.
Matt Lauer said "Today came a long way, baby." Politically, maybe not so much.
Could Meredith Vieira be emerging as one of the morning shows' most incisive inquisitioners? As we noted here, Katie Couric's replacement at "Today" recently gave Ted Kennedy a rather rough going-over regarding his legislative proposal to require the president to obtain congressional approval for a surge.
This morning, she took on the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. And while her tone and line of questioning were not disrespectful, neither was there any hint of the kind of MSM cheerleading that the junior senator from IL has no doubt come to expect.
Before we get to Vieira's questions, take a good look at the screencap. By his super-serious mien and the marble-pillared setting he chose for the interview, Obama was clearly trying to project the image of a ready-for-prime-time Commander-in-Chief. Call him "Stone Cold Barack Obama."
On MSNBC Wednesday night, during coverage of President Bush's speech to the nation, Chris Matthews compared Iraq to the "losing battle" of the "Alamo," calling it a "catastrophe," and contended that, if America were under a parliamentary system, that the President's handling of the war would be grounds for retirement. Matthews was further alarmed at Bush's apparent willingness to confront Iran over its nuclear program, as the MSNBC host contended that "a lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified," and even described himself as "worried" because of Bush's continued "neoconservative aggressiveness."
Matthews: "A lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified that the President of the United States admitted to mistakes in terms of implementing his policy over there ... I am worried, well, I shouldn't say I'm worried, I am definitely interested in the fact that the President of the United States maintains that neoconservative aggressiveness, the same attitude that we have the business in this world of going into countries when we don't like their weapons systems and deciding we're in the Middle East, we're going to attack." (Longer transcript follows)
On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley assembled a piece arguing strongly that President Bush is a "severely weakened commander-in-chief" who is "now running out of cards" on Iraq.
Crowley: "Less than four years ago 71 percent of Americans approved of the way the president was handling Iraq. Each spring thereafter shows a president in slow free fall. Americans come to believe the war was too slow, the objective far from sure; within 12 months the insurgency began to take hold."
Bush (2004 footage): "We will not waiver in the face of fear and intimidation."
Crowley: "Every good thing -- elections, new governments, a constitution -- was followed by something horrendous -- roadside bombings, prison abuses."
ABC and CBS (not NBC) featured interviews Wednesday morning with White House communications director Dan Bartlett. Both networks were fairly harsh in their questioning. ABC’s Diane Sawyer read a long list of eminent people who opposed a surge, and pressed, "What don’t they get?" She even used soundbites of soldiers saying it was a hopeless civil war and "I don’t think we need to be here." CBS’s Harry Smith aimed his barbs at Bartlett more from the right, questioning whether 20,000 troops would be enough, and insisting that the Iraqis weren’t up to the "blood and guts" job of security. He also hammered on the president’s low approval ratings and asked "Why should the American people have faith in the president at this moment?"
MRC’s Justin McCarthy reported that Sawyer opened Good Morning America with the spin that the President was going exactly against public opinion: "Amid calls in this country for a withdrawal of American troops, the president is going to be sending more troops to Iraq."
While there's never been much doubt as to where Norah O'Donnell stands politically, I've never heard her express a political position in such unmistakably personal terms as she did this afternoon on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show. Said Norah, discussing the President's imminent announcement of a surge:
"The President has chosen a military solution to the sectarian violence. As Brownback said today, and an increasing number of Democrats, it should be a political solution."
When Tucker countered that the military is traditionally used for the express purpose of ultimately achieving a political solution, Norah again expressed her own view: "Perhaps when there's a clear enemy. But in this case there's not really an enemy. We're in the middle of a civil war between Sunnis and Shias."
From a 72-degree January day in Manhattan to "polar bears in peril," the media have done anything but chill about the weather lately.
"Never has good weather felt so bad. Never have flowers inspired so much fear. Never has the warm caress of a sunbeam seemed so ominous. The weather is sublime, it’s glorious, it’s the end of the world," wrote Joel Achenbach on the January 7 Washington Post Style section front.
"Thank God for blogs," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow this afternoon, commenting on the Bush administration's communications efforts. The comment came in the course of a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq, giving a preview of President Bush's speech of tonight on Iraq. I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters.
Snow described the problem with the traditional media - generously I would say - not in terms of bias but as a function of the "if it bleeds it leads" tendency.
Snow indicated that he reads the blogs represented in the conference call. It's clear that the White House views blogs, NewsBusters among them, as playing an important role in cutting through the MSM clutter. Snow also described the frustration of military people in Iraq with media coverage that does not comport with the reality they experience in the field. Snow predicted that service people would begin using their own video cameras and sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak to get the word out. Along those lines, I can say that one of the most empowering aspects of my recent trip to Iraq was the ability to put video up on NewsBusters, at times within an hour of events in the field, as with this report on a training exercise of Iraqi soldiers on the Euphrates river in Anbar province.
Among the encouraging details emerging from the conference call:
"Warsaw's new archbishop, Stanislaw W. Wielgus, caught in Eastern Europe's widening witch hunt for former Communist secret police informers, admitted Friday that he had collaborated with the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, or Security Service, known as the S.B."
ABC continued its global warming hype with, quite appropriately, the weather man. Wednesday’s Good Morning America started its weather forecast with, as he put it, "big, big, big news" that 2006 was the warmest year in 112 years of recording weather. Weatherman Sam Champion asserted the politically correct belief of global warming and then sought to clarify the distinction between individual weather patterns and long term trends. But check out the map: America is apparently on fire, and with an average temperature of 55 degrees.
Then in an unintentionally comical moment, Champion turned to the weather map and discussed a big snowstorm in the northwestern United States. "This is a big system that brings winter to a lot of locations." The transcript is below.
In its rush to anger viewers about private company “ownership” of public roads, the January 9 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” presented only one proponent of privatized toll roads, and then misrepresented his position on the issue, cutting out his defense of private investment.
Anchor Lou Dobbs sounded the alarm about federal highways “now being sold to the highest bidder” as he introduced a story by Lisa Sylvester. Sylvester began by suggesting that “Wall Street is paving the road to highway privatization” and that far from being sound policy, “states are eyeing privatization as a quick fix.”
Sylvester, who earned her master’s degree from the distinguished Medill School of Journalism, then aired a clip of the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole. The sound bite featured the transportation policy expert observing that while “people are frustrated” with congested roads and that “nobody really wants to raise gas taxes.”
Those sound bite selections left viewers with the impression that Poole favors more taxes and government spending on highways, which is far from true. Yet when asked by the Business & Media Institute (BMI) about his reaction to Sylvester’s presentation, Poole assured BMI that he “addressed all their concerns in the material we taped.”
“I was afraid they would selectively use what I said,” Poole lamented in an e-mail, adding he’d “debated whether even to be interviewed” given the show’s previous biased presentation on transportation.
CBS’s Sandra Hughes was once again impressed with California’s liberal policy initiatives. On October 31, 2006, Hughes praised California for tackling liberal issues that ‘the federal government won’t touch," such as funding embryonic stem cell research and for enacting "the nation’s most restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions. And on Wednesday’s "Early Show," in reference to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care initiative, Hughes continued to laud California for once again leading "where the federal government fears to tread."
Recently added "Early Show" news anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the piece calling Schwarzenegger’s health care idea a "bold plan." Hughes’ report tried to gain support for the plan by featuring an uninsured man who suffers from diabetes, who claimed that there are a lot of uninsured people in his community, and manyof them are single mothers. Yet, Ms. Hughes neglected to mention that Schwarzenegger’s plan would cover illegal aliens as well as legal California residents. Wouldn’t this type of benefit encourage more illegal immigration, and shouldn’t it, therefore, be explored?
The Associated Press crowed on Jan. 4 that their controversial source "Jamil Hussein" did indeed exist, as it announced:
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.
I've been in touch with Bill Costlow (the CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Training Team) representative) since he has been back in-country and I have a few interesting developments on this story.
Despite the AP's claim that a Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf had confirmed Hussein's existance:
Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf never acknowledged that there was a Capt. Jamil Hussein assigned to the Khadra station, he confirmed to the AP that there was a Capt. Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim assigned there. Apparently he is the source for the AP even though he still, to this day (according to Bill Costlow), denies being the source.
As NewsBusters reported Tuesday, a squabble between ABC’s Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters was either a sign of increasing troubles between the co-hosts of the daytime coffee klatch “The View,” or a publicity stunt for ratings. On Wednesday, we may have gotten the answer as the twosome said some disparaging comments about Rosie’s new foe Donald Trump, and expressed solidarity with an on-camera high-five (video available here, hat tip to Drudge).
For those not getting bored with this story – truth be told, I am at this point, and would suggest Trump, who has already written a response to the twosome, stop feeding this silly fire any further – a transcript follows:
Time magazine devoted its "Ten Questions" interview this week to NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer. Time’s Jeanne McDowell had a light touch, asking about Meredith, and Katie, and squabbling with Tom Cruise. The interview quickly draws the reader to this comparison: Lauer was tougher on Tom Cruise than he was with Hillary Clinton in the famous "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview of 1998, despite the great difference in importance between a president lying in court and an actor/Scientologist fighting with Brooke Shields over anti-depressant pills. It unfolded like this:
What do you consider your best interview?
Hillary Clinton because of the convergence of events that were happening at the time. It was a few days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I fully expected Mrs. Clinton to cancel. She was a scorned woman whose husband had just been exposed for cheating. [The exchange] went extraordinarily well and resulted in the often quoted "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview. But it required as deft a touch as I ever have had to use.
On the Tuesday edition of "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer asked Ted Kennedy whether Iraq and U.S. interests would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power. The CNN anchor spent much of his interview wondering how the Massachusetts Senator would stop President Bush from increasing troop levels in Iraq. However, he only briefly challenged Kennedy on what should be done in Iraq, preferring questions such as, "So, is this Vietnam?" Another example is his query on whether the world's interests would be better served if a dictator such as Hussein were still in power:
Wolf Blitzer:"You voted against that original resolution way back. And you say that was the best vote in your 42 years in the United States Senate. Saddam Hussein was executed, as you know, in the last few weeks. Was the country better off, was the U.S. interests in that part of the world better off under Saddam Hussein?"
"We see his well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso, just a bit of padding around the abs and a drawstring dangling from his form-fitting surfer trunks. The aspiring presidential candidate splashes through the water and squints into the distance; he is transformed into Burt Lancaster in 'From Here to Eternity.'"
Assume for a second that a high-ranking Republican member of Congress published an article at a popular conservative website like National Review Online, Rush Limbaugh.com, or even NewsBusters asking readers for their opinions on the major issues of the day. Think this would generate some outrage from the liberal media?
Today, a new Democratic Congress is working to make America's hopes for a better tomorrow a reality. Here in the Senate, much like Speaker Pelosi's 100-hour plan in the House, our Democratic caucus has already unveiled an ambitious agenda to provide a new direction for America. But there is a lot of work to be done -- so today I'm asking for your input.