After comparing Al Jazeera's core audience to that of Fox News, Alessandra Stanley's review of the Arab-language channel's American debut notes: "A promo for an upcoming program described American policy in Iraq as George Bush's 'alleged war on terror.'"
From Wednesday's lead Times editorial: "The nation's image is at stake, as well as the safety of every man and woman who is fighting Mr. Bush's so-called war on terror."
So House Democrats have resoundingly rejected anti-war Congressman John Murtha as their next Majority Leader, not the best news for his patron Nancy Pelosi. (For details, everybody but Larry King can click here.) But as an MRC Media Reality Check pointed out earlier this week, a secret ballot by network reporters might have led to a very different result.
Murtha has been a liberal media darling since he demanded retreat without victory in Iraq almost exactly one year ago, on November 17, 2005. ABC, CBS and NBC that night all led by touting Murtha’s credentials. “John Murtha is not a household name, but on military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential,” CBS’s Bob Schieffer gushed.
The next night, CNN’s Bill Schneider awarded Murtha his “Political Play of the Week,” likening his call for withdrawal to Walter Cronkite’s 1968 anti-Vietnam War commentary. The media’s bias became even more obvious when another top Democrat, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, wrote a November 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed saying the troops should stay: "What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory." The same networks that led with Murtha’s defeatist rhetoric two weeks earlier said nothing about Lieberman.
What did Murtha have that Lieberman did not? The rhetoric that liberals liked to hear.
Yesterday saw the opening day of the month-and-a-half-long re-enrollment period for Medicare Part D, also known as that damn $700 billion-over-10-years boondoggle.
In other news yesterday, Wal-Mart expanded its $4/month generic prescription drug plan to 11 more states. Oh, and BJ's Wholesale Club got in on the cheap drug action too, saying they'll offer $4 generics, and you don't even have to be a member of the Club.
Great news, right? So why were those stories left out of Charlie Gibson's "World News" in favor of footage of confused or angry seniors grappling with government red tape and prescription plan fine print?
Talk-radio hosts warned before the election that a Democratic takeover could mean a real legislative push-around of conservative talk radio. It could be happening. On The Corner at National Review Online this morning, Kathryn Jean Lopez reports, "A Senate source tells me : At a civil rts enforcement hearing, after botching her name several times, leahy is asking whether the administration would investigate Laura Ingraham encouraging listeners to jam phone lines set up by dems to report election day abuses".
The Daily Kosmonauts were in full cry about Ingraham doing something 'VERY ILLEGAL ON AIR.' The "ThinkProgress" Clintonistas put up the transcript here. It's interesting to know how the Democrats may feel very much indebted to their Kosmonaut/MoveOn.org funders....
It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch the MSM twist itself into knots trying to report this story of Pelosi backing the extremist Murtha for Party leadership over the objections of the so-called "blue dog" Democrats who were recently elected to Congress.
Pelosi has decided to ardently back the extreme anti-war activist, John Murtha (Dem, PA), for the Democrat's Majority leader position in a move that has 'baffled" many Democrats, especially those incoming Democrats who ran as conservative alternatives to Republicans -- as well as other incumbent moderate Democrats -- who are instead backing Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer is well known on the floor not to be quite as extreme as Murtha is on a pull out from Iraq (Hoyer voted to give Bush the OK to go into Iraq in 2002, but he IS for gradual withdraw to be sure), but few Americans will have even heard of Steny Hoyer, he not being much of a "national" figure. On the other hand, anyone who had paid politics much attention knows that Murtha is against the war and is a vocal critic of President Bush. Murtha is well known for his many extreme positions and statements.
President Bush traveling to Vietnam was guaranteed to bring out the Iraq-Vietnam comparisons, especially on National Public Radio. On Wednesday's "Morning Edition," co-host Steve Inskeep interviewed liberal author David Halberstam, who reported on Vietnam for the New York Times. Halberstam warned that we needed to withdraw from Iraq because it wasn't worth the death of "some kid in the Ohio National Guard" for an "undoable" goal.
We were down on the Euphrates this morning with Navy LT Torres and eleven Iraqi soldiers that he is training. On today's menu: learning to board crafts encountered while on patrol on the the river. The rule is to board every craft, again and again, as encountered. Yesterday's friendly fisherman could be today's insurgent, or someone who is perhaps being coerced by others on board.
We were in a three-boat unit. The technique consists of the lead boat coming alongside, greeting the passengers in a polite fashion, at the same time ordering them to the front of the boat with weapons trained on them. The second boat in our unit will align directly behind the first, and the third off to the left, forming an 'L.' One of the men from the first boat will then board, inspect whatever there is to see aboard, and as appropriate give an all-clear sign and return to our boat. The men are trained to keep their weapons aimed at the passengers till we are well clear. Passengers could be waving a friendly good-bye, only to grab weapons or hurl a grenade as soon as our guard is down.
At roughly 11:00AM Eastern Time Wednesday, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced that for the second straight month, America saw below-average temperatures. As a result, regardless of how warm July was, it now appears unlikely that 2006 will surpass 1934 as the hottest year on record. Yet, a Google News search suggested that not one news agency bothered to report this announcement. Not one.
For those not in the media who might be interested (emphasis mine throughout):
For the second consecutive month, temperatures across the continental United States were cooler-than-average, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Drought conditions improved in some areas, but large parts of the nation remained in moderate to extreme drought. October ranked as the 12th wettest October when compared with historical precipitation records for the month.
CBS anchor Katie Couric on Wednesday night empathized with the plight of incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, as his wish to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq hits roadblocks. After a story by David Martin on testimony before the committee by General John Abizaid, chief of the Central Command, Couric ran a taped Q & A with Levin. She began with a very leading question: "Senator, were you as frustrated with General Abizaid's position today as John McCain and Hillary Clinton?" Levin expressed how he was similarly “frustrated” by Abizaid's “stay the course” position, leading Couric to empathize with his frustration: "So as the future Chairman of the Senate Arms Services Committee, where does that leave you, Senator Levin? I mean, what are your options? You have long advocated a phased withdrawal, but how are you going to make that happen? It seems almost impossible right now."
As the guest on Wednesday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Ted Koppel ribbed host Jon Stewart for not ridiculing President George W. Bush over his trip to Vietnam and then Koppel offered his own sharp-edged joke about it. Koppel scolded Stewart, "I'll tell you what I have been thinking: I can't believe you haven't done anything on George Bush in Vietnam." Koppel then delivered his wisecrack: “Thirty-five years ago, he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam. And now, he's going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington.” That generated loud applause and laughter from the audience in the Manhattan studio, as well as hearty laughter from Stewart, and Koppel chuckled at his own one-liner.
Seconds earlier, Koppel delivered another politically-loaded quip: "Remember the joke before -- it wasn't that much of a joke -- before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we used to say in Washington, 'we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, we still have the receipts.'" That prompted Stewart to express bafflement with why Koppel's news agenda isn't shared more widely: "This is the thing that always befuddles me and you and I have this conversation all the time: Why isn't that joke the lead of every news story about Iraq? You know, the context that we sold them all those weapons, why isn't that more prominent in all this?" (Partial transcript follows)
Once gain, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann seems entertained by the thought of conservatives being shot. Less than five months after depicting the image of Rush Limbaugh as the target of gunfire during his Countdown show, on Wednesday's show Olbermann included a joke about shooting Dick Cheney during the regular "Top Three Sound Bites" segment of the show. One of the featured clips was from the Tuesday November 14 Daily Show with Jon Stewart in which Stewart asked his guest, former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, whom he would have "accidentally shot in the face" if he had been elected Vice President, to which Edwards responded "Dick Cheney." Notably, just one night earlier, Olbermann had spent an entire segment discussing whether conservative commentators had inspired a man to mail fake Anthrax letters to public figures, and to make other threats, a la King Henry's declaration "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest," referring to Archbishop Thomas Becket. (Transcript follows)
A quick glance back at the first post-election Notable Quotables newsletter in 1994 carries a pile of quotes that bear no resemblance to the new-day-dawning tone of 2006. There was a lot of bitterness, and some wistful looks forward:
"1994 Isn't Forever: Despite Sweeping Gains for Republicans, History Suggests the Power is Temporary" -- New York Times headline over story by Washington Bureau Chief R.W. Apple, November 10.
A classic liberal-media reaction came very late on Election Night as CNN's Mary Tillotson predicted that 1994's results could be seen as a dreadful disaster for the Republicans in 1996:
As John Murtha appeared as a guest on Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews questioned the Democratic Congressman about the infamous FBI tape from the ABSCAM scandal in which undercover FBI agents talked with Murtha about the possibility of bribery, with Murtha having suggested to them the possibility that he would be "interested" at a later date. After pressing Murtha on what his words meant with Murtha contending that he was just trying to acquire investment for his Congressional district, Matthews ended up asking him if it was "just a way of finessing your way out of the conversation," to which Murtha agreed before Matthews dropped the line of questioning. (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday’s "Imus in the Morning," Newsweek editor Jon Meacham opined that George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, had been vindicated by history. He suggested that Newsweek runs stories based on partisan preferences, i.e. we helped defeat President Bush in 1992, but in hindsight, George H.W. Bush was right. Meacham also revealed that journalists often make hasty judgements and treat those judgements as "infallible." In the same segment, Meacham admitted that journalists are wrong. Meacham offers as an example the coverage of President Bush 41 during the 1992 campaign and before:
"What's important is journalistically, one of the mistakes we make is we kick people in the shins and we tend to make instant judgments and act as though our judgment is infallible and absolute. It’s not. See ‘wimp factor,’ see the mistakes and the misperceptions of the first Bush at the time when everybody was saying he was out of touch and was no good. Now we see with hindsight that he’d done pretty well."
"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
Prior to the midterms, CNN ran a number of stories on falling gas prices and a possible conspiracy between the Republican Party and "Big Oil" to lower costs before the elections. Each piece hinted at a dark plot as the reason for declining prices. Well, the elections are over; Democrats are in power, and now America is in ‘a recovery.’ Introducing a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien cheerily discussed the upcoming holiday travel season:
Miles O’Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides.‘American Morning’s Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."
Reporter Dan Lothian’s story focused on how these low prices are allowing Americans to buy SUVs again:
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."
It was yet another overblown fear that the media latched onto but have not revisited since Democrats won last week's election.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute, we don't forget so easily.
Check out the story by my colleague Julia Seymour over at businessandmedia.org.
Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans
lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening.
The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris’ book, “Black Box Voting,” was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC.
Al Jazeera English launches today, but the fledgling cable network is having trouble finding U.S. cable providers who are willing to carry it. According to the New York Sun:
The long-delayed sister channel to Al-Jazeera is set to make its debut this morning, but the new network's ability to build an audience in America is in doubt because major cable and satellite providers here have declined to carry the new television offering.
The new network — which, in a last-minute move, has apparently changed its name from Al-Jazeera International to Al-Jazeera English — announced its distribution outlets yesterday and proclaimed that it will have access to between 70 million and 80 million homes worldwide. However, in America, no cable operators have reported plans to carry the Qatar-based channel, and the two largest satellite providers have also opted out. Al-Jazeera English will be available through the Internet and a satellite company specializing in international television feeds.