On his February 22 Scarborough Country, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough gave time to conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham to relay her experiences talking to American troops and doing her show in Iraq, and what she saw that contrasts with the predominantly negative view of the Iraq War as reported by the mainstream media. Scarborough found that her words confirmed the sentiments of e-mails he has received from U.S. troops in Iraq that "there is a huge disconnect from what Americans are hearing in the media and what they're seeing on the ground over there," which is "misleading the American people on how things are really going in Iraq."
Ingraham began by passing on the "great respect and admiration between American military trainers and their Iraqi counterparts," and the "important cooperation between average Iraqis, who are giving more tips to American and Iraqi forces than ever before."
Time and Newsweek put Dick Cheney’s hunting accident on their covers this week, a dying story already eight days old. The shooting victim, Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, went home after apologizing for all that Cheney had to go through, meaning the thoroughly juvenile media frenzy that followed.
Time and Newsweek no doubt imagined Cheney delayed alerting the press until Sunday so that they couldn’t put him on their Earth-changing covers last week. We’ll show you, they said, fists shaking at being so obviously dissed.
But we already know every single bit of the story, having heard it hundreds of times over the last week. How to make these covers newsworthy? Easy, if you’re a melodramatist at these magazines.
Newsweek’s cover promised a look at “Cheney’s Secret World,” over a picture of Cheney shooting his gun in the field. They headlined their cover story “The Shot Heard Around the World.” Now, whoa, as they say in Wyoming. Muslim rioters are killing people over mild Muhammad cartoons in Denmark, and this birdshot accident was the “shot heard around the world”? It gets worse. The subheadline told a conspiratorial tale: “He peppered a man in the face, but didn't tell his boss. Inside Dick Cheney's dark, secretive mindset – and the forces that made it that way.” Cue the “Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack.
Nine months ago, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer painted Iraq as spiraling into civil war. It didn't happen then, yet on Wednesday night Schieffer renewed his ominous forecast. But unlike in May, this time his ABC and NBC anchor colleagues expressed the same prospect. Back on May 19 of last year, Schieffer teased the CBS Evening News with this unique warning: "Good evening. I'm Bob Schieffer. It just keeps getting worse in Iraq. The death toll is rising. Tension is growing between Shiites and Sunnis. Is the country sliding toward civil war?" He soon added: “Now there's been a surge of attacks on Shiite and Sunni Muslim clerics, and some fear that Iraq is sliding toward civil war.” From Baghdad, Mark Strassmann backed up Schieffer's thesis: "Tit-for-tat terror seems to be pushing Iraq towards civil war. This man says, 'We are heading toward a catastrophe.'"
On Wednesday night, Schieffer teased: “One of the worst days ever in Iraq, and it's Iraqis against Iraqis. A Middle East expert tells us the country has been plunged into civil war.” Schieffer also relayed how “some are saying Iraq has been plunged into civil war.” On World News Tonight, ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas asserted: “One of the great fears of the American mission in Iraq has always been the prospect of civil war. Tonight, those fears are particularly real.” Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams, just back to Manhattan from two weeks in Torino, warned of how "tonight there are new fears that Iraq is on the brink of civil war." (Transcripts follow)
Not to be outdone by their liberal brethren in the printed press and TV mediums, AOL has once again loaded the web site's home page with another "We hate Bush, too!" headline, followed by those ever-present yet predictable AOL poll questions.
Centering around the recent political upheaval of the impending sale (6.8 billion dollars) and takeover of the operation of 6 American ports by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai Ports World specifically, today's AOL Home page hopefully asks : "Is His PowerFading Away?" placed alongside a head-drooping and cryptic silhouette of what can only be President Bush. The sentence below then reads: “Bush Faces More Challenges," whereupon clicking on it brings one to a battery of poll questions in a section that AOL calls "The Daily Pulse"
The hard-left Pacifica Radio network is a network of five public radio stations in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Houston. Together, these stations have regularly drawn about a combined $1 million a year in federal money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (For a while, conservative Rep. Joel Hefley would push an amendment every year to reduce the federal CPB budget by $1 million in protest.) Perhaps their signature program is "Democracy Now!" with Amy Goodman, which boasts of public TV and radio stations far beyond the Pacifica-owned affiliates. On Monday, they went on one of their pledge drives with a new premium: a DVD of celebrities reading from leftist historian Howard Zinn's "Voices of a People's History of the United States."
Celebrities included Danny Glover, Sandra Oh (of "Grey's Anatomy"), Viggo "Aragorn" Mortensen, and the one reader that really surprised me: Marisa Tomei doing a dramatic reading of Cindy Sheehan.
Following up on Brent Baker’s earlier posting on this topic, the networks are not the only ones reluctant to apply the term "partial-birth abortion" in reporting on the Supreme Court decision to review whether a federal law banning the procedure is constitutional. Shortly before 10:30pm on the February 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, substitute host John King discussed the issue with legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. The term "partial birth" was referred to only twice in the segment by King, who made sure to note that it was a term used by "critics" of the procedure.
Toobin, for his part, fretted that the partial-birth abortion ban, along with parental notification laws, was part of a strategy from "pro-life forces" to "chip away" at the, apparently set in stone "right" to abortion. To Toobin’s credit, he did mention the popular support for these "later-term abortion restrictions" by the American public.
Jeffrey Toobin: "This is part of a strategy that the pro-life forces have followed for many years, which is that chip away at the right, parental consent laws, later-term abortion restrictions. That’s been effective and the Court has–it is also politically much more popular than regulating early-term abortions. These, these laws, like later-term abortion restrictions, are pretty popular with the public."
A full transcript of the exchange is behind the cut.
On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, news reader Bill Weir offered two widely different ways of describing the legal case involving the delayed execution of convicted killer Michael Morales in California. Weir’s second blurb on the story came at 8:32 AM and was attention catching:
Bill Weir: "New debate this morning over the death penalty after a last minute decision in the case of convicted killer Michael Morales. California prison officials postponed his execution indefinitely when doctors refused to administer a new court ordered method of lethal injection. Morales is on death row for torturing, raping and killing a 17 year-old girl. He claims lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment."
In an earlier take on the story in the 7:00 half hour, Weir offered scant context as to who Michael Morales is and what he did that caused a jury to sentence him to death:
Politicians across the political spectrum are raising their voices against the arrangement which would allow a United Arab Emirates company to manage six U.S. seaports, and on Tuesday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty acted as a rabble-rousing activist as he encouraged his viewers to rise up against any politician who doesn't act to block the deal and he highlighted two viewer e-mails which advocated the impeachment of President Bush over the matter. Cafferty excoriated: "If our elected representatives don't do everything in their power to stop this thing, each of us should vow to work tirelessly to see that they are removed from public office....Here's the question. What should be done to stop a deal that would allow an Arab company with ties to terrorism to run U.S. ports?" Cafferty soon read from one e-mailer who argued that "this deal is nothing short of collusion with a foreign power of unknown intent during wartime. The President should be impeached." And another: "Putting George Bush in charge of our country was a huge mistake, and my fellow citizens finally realize that it was a disaster. Time to impeach this President." (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday afternoon, Brian Montopoli of the CBS News blog Public Eye posted an item regarding a global-warming story that aired this past Sunday on 60 Minutes. (Hat tip: Romenesko.) Take it away, Brian:
...The piece, which featured correspondent Scott Pelley, largely took the existence of global warming as a given. But there are those who claim that global warming – and, specifically, the notion that humans are responsible for it – is a myth. I asked Pelley why the voices of the skeptics were not heard in the piece.
"There is virtually no disagreement in the scientific community any longer about global warming," he says. "The science that has been done in the last three to five years has been conclusive...There's just no longer any credible evidence that suggests that, a, the earth is not warming or, b, that greenhouse gasses [sic] are not the cause...
"It would be irresponsible of us to go find some scientist somewhere who is not thought of as being eminent in the field and put him on television with these other guys to cast doubt on what they're saying," he continues. "It would be difficult to find a scientist worth his salt in this subject who would suggest this wasn't happening. It would probably be someone whose grant has been funded by someone who finds reducing fossil fuel emissions detrimental to their own interests." [Emphasis added.]
The Australian reports on a passage from a new book by terrorism expert Peter Bergen in which bin Laden's Pakistani biographer Hamid Mir recalls seeing the terror leader watching CNN.
"When I met him after 9/11, he said: 'I was watching you on the Larry King show a few days ago, and you told Larry King that when Osama bin Laden talks on religion, he is not convincing, but when he talks on politics, he is very much convincing. So today I will convince you on some religious issues.'"
"So I said, 'OK, you watched the Larry King show?'.
"He said, 'Yes, I am fighting a big war, and I have to monitor the activities of my enemy through these TV channels'."
With Republicans and Democrats both up in arms over the port deal with the United Arab Emirates, what are the newspapers in the UAE saying about the controversial deal? Today’s Gulf News, a Dubai-based newspaper that has an English language edition on the Web, has an article today that throws all of its fire at those in Congress who would block the Dubai Ports World from taking over operations at six major U.S. ports -- Hillary Clinton is singled out -- while a second article gives President Bush pretty good reviews for standing firm.
For an insight into how the port fight is being portrayed in the region, here’s an excerpt from the February 22 story by GulfNews.com staff writer Shakir Husain, which heavily quotes a pro-Dubai article from the Financial Times:
When Progress for America tried to air a commercial with Minnesota veterans defending U.S. war policy in Iraq, they soon found their money was no good at KSTP - Channel 5. What was the offending remark in the ad that caused this censorship?
The message contains the idea "That the media only reports the bad news" and "you would never know it from the news reports, but the enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda."
This is over the line for KSTP, who believes the statements to be untrue. "That, says [General Manager Rob] Hubbard, is plainly false. He points out that both KSTP and ABC, its parent network, have reported on the Iraqi elections, progress concerning reconstruction of the country, and the reopening of its schools--all of which qualifies as 'good' news. 'When someone is watching our news, we're "the media."' Hubbard explains. 'We know that [the claim in the advertisement] is inaccurate as it relates to us.'"
Apparently they believe it is inaccurate as it relates to all media, because the commercial never mentioned KSTP. I looked through the KSTP Web site to see all these examples of reporting "good news". I couldn't find a single story, perhaps they could point us toward some of this work. For instance, an article about the Iraqi elections opines:
Alec Baldwin at the infamous Huffington Post on Wednesday apologized to America for labeling Vice President Dick Cheney as a terrorist, and then quickly referred to him as a “lying, thieving Oil Whore”:
“I want to apologize to all of the readers of this blog for referring to Vice President Cheney as a terrorist. I suppose that, in the post-9/11 world, one would be hard-pressed to refer to anyone other than a militant Arab fundamentalist who hijacks a plane and pilots it into a building somewhere on our shores or a Palestinian who bears a bomb into a cafe in Israel as a terrorist.
“How about something more measured, then? How about...a lying, thieving Oil Whore. Or, a murderer of the US Constitution? No wait! Try...the worst Vice President in US history? Anyway, let me work on that.”
After referencing how wonderful things were under his hero, Bill Clinton, Baldwin then included other Republicans in his attack:
Slate "Press Box" columnist Jack Shafer has a pictoral essay up today on "TV's Aryan Sisterhood," where he mocks the hair of anchor-babes from Paula Zahn to Katie Couric to Diane Sawyer. (He links to an old MRC page for a pic of Katie the Brunette.) This page (5 of 9) cracked me up:
I imagine that at one point in her life, the 60-year-old Diane Sawyer of ABC News was an honest blonde, but is there any middle-aged woman alive whose hair naturally looks like this? A relatively late arrival to the blond gang is NBC's Andrea Mitchell, 59, who looks like an Earl Scheib paint and body shop hosed her hair down with a gallon of Gold Leaf Metallic Clearcoat.
Just when you thought the Cheney accident news was over, Washington Post Health section columnist Abigail Trafford had one more spin yesterday: the accident should cause Cheney and his "macho colleagues" to "learn" from it and support socialized medicine:
What's missing is a reliable safety net for those struck by events beyond their control -- or for those who are not able to pass the smart-consumer test. Perhaps that's why 45 million Americans have no health coverage and medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. There's a public empathy gap. As a society, we don't seem to care.
The problem with a narrow focus on personal choice and responsibility is that it spreads the illusion that each of us can control our medical destiny. This is health hubris. To be sure, we can influence our health status by minimizing risks of injury and illness. But Cheney's accident brings us back to reality: People will get injured and sick even if they are careful and competent...even if they floss and jog and follow all the common-sense rules for a long, healthy life. (Ellipses hers.)
When it comes to the controversy surrounding the UAE port operations deal, left is right, right is left and the MSM seems caught somewhere in the middle, trying to balance its cultural versus its political instincts.
Then, on this morning's Early Show, Dan Bartlett sounded more like a multi-cultural sensitivity trainer than the presidential counselor he is when he declared:
"We shouldn't be setting different types of rules for different types of companies just because they may come from the Middle East . . . What kind of mixed signals are we sending to the world when we say that some companies that play by the rules can have business with America but other companies who play by the rules can't? That's not the way America does business."
All three broadcast network evening newscast anchors separated themselves from the “partial-birth” abortion term, some more awkwardly than others, as all ran full stories Tuesday on the decision by the Supreme Court to take up, in the fall, the constitutionality of a federal ban on the abortion procedure -- of whatever name -- which lacks a “health of the mother” exception. After CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews touted how former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had “protected” the women's health exception, anchor Bob Schieffer saw not the potential now of new “protections” for the unborn, but instead worried about new “restrictions” that may be “imposed” on abortion. Schieffer channeled left-wing fears as he asked Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune: "So does that mean this is going to be the beginning of the end of legal abortion in this country?" Greenburg, who at another point described Justice Alito “as much more conservative” than the pre-Alito/Roberts court, set him straight: "No, there's still five justices on the court who would vote to uphold Roe versus Wade, which guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion.”
Schieffer introduced the CBS Evening News coverage, with a “Late-Term Abortion” graphic over his shoulder: “The court agreed today to consider the constitutionality of the ban that Congress imposed on a kind of late-term abortion that critics call partial-birth abortion.” In his top of the broadcast tease from Torino, NBC anchor Brian Williams asked: “Can the federal government outlaw late-term abortions?" He soon awkwardly offered this description: “A late term abortion procedure that opponents of it call 'partial-birth abortion.'” Yes, he said “of it call.” Reporter Pete Williams cited "what opponents call partial-birth abortion." Over on ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas wasn't so awkward as she stuck to the simpler “so-called partial-birth abortion” verbiage. ABC reporter Jake Tapper at least folded in a description as he delineated what occurs: “The law in question is President Bush's ban on certain procedures where the fetus is at least partially removed from the womb before its aborted.” (Transcript of CBS follows)
Conservative author? Want to be invited on MSM shows and given deferential treatment? No problema! Just be willing to take serious shots at a Republican president. Case in point: on tonight's Hardball, Chris Matthews rolled out the red-carpet for author Bruce Bartlett, who had worked in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. administrations. Title of Bartlett's book? "Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy". Bingo!
Matthews: "If you had to narrow it down to the biggest offense, as you see it, that Bush is not conservative, what is it?"
Bartlett: "Spending. Spending is just totally out of control. Bill Clinton was actually vastly better on the budget and there is simply no comparison between the two."
By checking with our network watchers and double-checking with Nexis, ABC, CBS, and NBC have all completely ignored Al Gore's speech in Saudi Arabia, where he denounced the U.S. government for committing "terrible abuses" against Arabs after 9/11, and that Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions.
So that's a big fat zero even as David Gregory was still defending his anti-Cheney ardor on "Imus" this morning. That was not on MSNBC, which was running Olympic hockey, or I might have a transcript. I came in halfway through, and Gregory got very defensive when Imus started making cracks about how Cheney's friend Katherine Armstrong looks just like Willie Nelson. Gregory warned he didn't want to be associated with or identified as approving of these remarks. It was all quiet for Cheney on the morning-show front today.
The Times finds the burgeoning property rights movement (set in motion by the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Kelo vs. New London upholding a broad interpretation of eminent domain) worthy of a Tuesday front-page story by John Broder, “States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes.”
That negative headline reads as if the paper takes for granted that overturning property rights is something a government has a right to do, a “right” that’s now at risk of being “curbed.”
As Matt Welch noted in Reason Magazine after the eminent domain decision was handed down, the Times editorial page was one of the few and definitely the most enthusiastic supporters of the 5-4 decision upholding a Connecticut town’s right to condemn private homes to make way for private development. The chilly title of the Times editorial: “The Limits of Property Rights.”