During the Bush years, the news media were the promoters of protest, the champions of dissent. Denouncing the president as a brain-damaged warmonger was the most patriotic thing you could do (just ask the Dixie Chicks), and it was guaranteed to please the press.
On MSNBC before the Iraq War in 2003, David Shuster elevated the "anti-war" movement as the equivalent of the United States military, only with a higher morality: "The size of the demonstrators, at least here, at least in Europe, seems to underscore that there are now perhaps two world superpowers," he told Chris Matthews. "There’s the United States and then there are those millions of people who took to the streets opposing U.S. policy."
My, how times – and standards – change. On the weekend of the vote for a massive government intervention in the health-insurance market, these same reporters had a different take. The Tea Party protesters were not going to be hailed for their courageous and patriotic use of their free time. They were going to be smeared for daring to be.
For almost a decade, American news readers have been presented with a litany of complaints from Old Europe regarding how the barbaric United States has surrendered its moral authority by introducing terror into the minds of suspected terrorists during interrogations. Even sleep deprivation and the playing of loud pop music have caused conniptions with these tender folk.
So how are we to greet the French "reality show" suggesting people would be willing to apply fatal jolts of electricity just to get on television? Should we despair at the willingness of human guinea pigs to commit torture on others? Or should we condemn the producers for exploiting an old social-science experiment using maximum sensationalism in front of a studio audience?
Finally! A reporter who stands up to the media's Chosen One and isn't afraid to ask the tough questions.
Kudos to Bret Baier. He prepared for a difficult interview and came right out of the gate asking the questions that matter most to the millions of Americans protesting government takeover of health care. Other networks have had this opportunity in innumerable interviews, but Fox has proved itself to be the only network willing and capable of showing backbone and doing their journalistic duty.
How have the left-wing media reacted? While they should hang their head in humiliation for making the fair, hard questions in this interview monumental, they have instead criticized Baier's interview as ‘contentious,' as if it's unprofessional for a journalist to deviate from lapdoggery.
And we wonder why America has chosen Fox News Channel over the competition time and time again.
Howell Raines lost his executive editor’s job at The New York Times for promoting the career of Jayson Blair, a black drug addict and fantasist who invented entire stories describing the hills of West Virginia from a saloon down the street in New York. But somehow Raines still imagines himself a media bigfoot who can pronounce on the State of Journalism, a one-man Pulitzer Prize panel. This is a little like a White House chef who poisoned an entire state-dinner crowd mounting a soapbox to lecture that the new chefs can’t be trusted.
Of course, that soapbox must be provided first. So who would give this naked man a fig leaf of respectability? The Washington Post would.
The Posties awarded Raines their marquee venue – the Sunday Outlook section -- to denounce Fox News Channel and its owner Rupert Murdoch. Announcing this was tugging at his "professional conscience" (thus suggesting he has one), Raines demanded to know "Why can't American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team?"
NBC’s "Law & Order" programs are long-established and all over the schedule. But the sex-obsessed vice cops of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" are a breed apart. They exist to be socially provocative, which is to say, to rattle, to disturb. Viewers at home probably weren’t ready for the plot that aired on NBC on March 3. These script writers are so revolting that they become almost comical.
As you read what follows, you decided how closely this mirrors anything resembling the world of reality.
Someone was strangling prostitutes to death and leaving prayer cards behind. The first suspect was a perverted man whose wife proclaimed he had converted to Christianity and overcome his sinful ways. The cops quickly discovered the man dismissed his wife as a "prude" and he was cheating on her with a variety of young girls, because "it’s not a crime to want a little variety" in his sex life, including "toys, role play, and threesomes." Despite his ardor for sexual gunplay as well, this so-called Christian was not the strangler.
If anyone was looking for a self-righteous extreme feminist, they found one in Angie Jackson. This is a woman who was so proud she was aborting her baby that she announced she would "tweet" her chemical-cocktail abortion live, as it happened, on Twitter. The liberal media found this made-for-TV slaughter fascinating, and not at all a controversy worthy of discussing with two sides.
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff proclaimed: "One hundred thousand people have watched Angie Jackson's abortion. Late last month, Jackson posted a video of herself to YouTube, recorded after she took RU-486, a medication used to end pregnancies." Kliff asked only "why shame remains" about the act of killing one’s baby. Jackson was honored for her courage in "demystifying" and "destigmatizing" the procedure: "We need 10,000 more of her," proclaimed Peg Johnston, chair of something called the Abortion Care Network. This desire for 10,000 more unashamed abortions is what "pro-choice" is all about.
Overall, this was just another classic tale from the "news" magazine that lamented 20 years ago that "Sadly, many home [abortion] remedies could damage a fetus instead of kill it." What about the pro-life side?
It’s quite striking to see the degree to which traditional Islam has come under ferocious attack from the anti-religious impulse in Hollywood and New York and other bohemian centers in America. It is clearly anti-Islamic religious bigotry. Take a look at just some examples over the last year alone.
January: The Source Weekly, a weekly arts publication in Bend, Oregon, featured on its cover an image of Mohammed holding a child with President Obama’s head crudely posted on its body. Muslim protests were greeted with this dismissive response: "What is printed is printed, and we will not apologize."
February 12: The NBC sitcom "30 Rock" poked fun at Muslims when the Alec Baldwin character attempted to ingratiate himself with his beautiful Muslim girlfriend by fraudulently going through the motions at her mosque.
The deficit for last year was 1.4 trillion dollars. The deficit rose as a share of the gross domestic product from 3.1 percent in 2008 to 9.9 percent in 2009, the highest deficit as a share of GDP since 1945. The projected deficit for the fiscal year that ends in September is another $1.3 trillion.
So much for all that fiscal sanity blather from Team Obama in ‘08. How dishonest. Even worse, there’s a good reason to stay pessimistic about deficits as far as the eye can see. It’s called the "news" media.
Legislators who want to get re-elected will clearly want to avoid any spending decision that will create bad national publicity, and our news media, the manufacturers of bad national publicity, will send crying victims down the assembly line at the slightest thought of a social spending cut or freeze.
Fox is having its usual smash with "American Idol," with this season’s latest offering beating the Winter Olympics in the ratings. Paula Abdul walked off in a money dispute, Ellen De Generes is unexpectedly flat, and the show overall is starting to sag, but it’s still just about the best thing on TV. Now there’s a buzz about the best judge, Simon Cowell, leaving after this season.
Cowell is constantly booed and attacked as the nasty judge, the one who crushes young singers’ dreams his patented cutting remarks. It’s also true that he is painfully honest.
Almost every "Idol" watcher looks forward to hearing Simon offer those blunt and honest opinions every bit as much – or even more than – the actual performances. The other night, he responded to boos after one stinging analysis by shooting back at the audience, "I’m only saying what you’re thinking." That’s instantly a classic line, and very true.
It’s common now to hear viewers suggest they might just stop watching the show once Simon is gone, that the quality of the judging just will not be the same. That is definitely true if one believes the rumors circulating about the sewer where Fox is fishing for Simon Cowell replacements.
When Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana announced last week he wasn’t running for re-election, he didn’t state what may have seemed obvious. He couldn’t say he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of losing, or that he worried he’d never achieve national office if that happened. Instead, he launched into a lecture about what was wrong with everyone else. The government is "dysfunctional" with "brain-dead partisanship."
It’s "Groundhog Day." This scenario repeats itself every time the Democrats take control.
Bayh’s bleats hardened quickly into the media’s conventional wisdom. Why can’t the politicians hold hands in a Kumbaya circle and get "something" done? Translation: when Obama and a Democrat-dominated Congress can’t nationalize the health-care system and force everyone to drive a Prius, suddenly government is "dysfunctional." When gridlock is holding up the liberals’ agenda, Washington should know "the people" sent them to pass massive ultraliberal bills.
Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday this year, which could be celebrated as a day where our lifelong romantic love builds a foundation for our families and our faith. Or, to television executives, it could be a holiday for infidelity and pornography.
The cable channel G4 — little known except to video-game junkies, including young boys — announced they would host a "Romance-Free Valentine's Day," where viewers "looking for an escape from the mush can turn to the only network that will showcase unfaithful lovers and naughty adult superstars to commemorate Cupid's holy day."
After an all-day marathon of the show "Cheaters," which exposes affairs — the channel promoted it as "13 hours of fistfights, screaming, and the most extreme relationship drama imaginable" — came a two-hour special touring and promoting the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, hosted by porn star Sasha Grey.
Managing Editor's Note: Mr. Bozell released the following remarks this morning prior to his attendance this afternoon at the Mount Vernon Statement signing. The Statement encapsulates a vision of Constitutional Conservatism for the 21st century. You can add your name to the petition at the Statement's Web page here.
[UPDATE, 2/18: FNC's Carl Cameron reported on the signing on Wednesday's Special Report with Bret Baier. Video at Eyeblast.TV]
If there is a silver lining to the policies the Obama administration has tried to shove down the throats of Americans, it’s that more and more of them don’t want any part of it.
Conservatives are in an excellent position to make the case for Constitutional Conservatism. It’s only taken one year for Americans to see that nothing good comes from Big Government and radically liberal policies, especially at a time when our nation needs economic growth and family values.
The Mount Vernon Statement solidifies the conservative movement as vibrant and energized, ready to lead America into a renewed era of liberty and self government. Conservatives must reinstitute the great principles that defined us by our nation’s founders. Conservatives must work to fight the radical agenda that threatens our jobs, our security, our values and our security. And conservatives must do it together.
I don’t know when or where or even if Joe Scarborough’s radio show airs in my area, nor do I care. The other night a friend caught this clip from his radio show and sent it to me. It’s about a blog which is published by the organization I head.
"NewsBusters, which just loves writing negative articles about me, I don’t know why, a lot of really false ones and I don’t know what’s actually gotten into Brent Bozell, but he actually goes out of his way to write false articles about me now…They just distort the news for their own purposes."
Now I know why MSNBC hired Joe Scarborough. He’s about as accurate and honest as everyone else there.
False articles? Here’s something Joe knows, because he and I have had this conversation privately already: I’ve never written a bloody article about him. Ever.
As for conservative bloggers at NewsBusters writing false articles about him, that is equally untrue. Have they sometimes been negative? Guilty as charged – and for good reason. Increasingly he’s making statements that are stupid, or reckless, or provocative, or insulting, or a combination of all the above.
Rosie O'Donnell knows that cute kids can sell anything. When she hosted her afternoon talk show back in the late 1990s, she put out two books of children's jokes titled "Kids Are Punny." That same principle is at work in her new HBO documentary, titled "A Family Is A Family Is A Family: A Rosie O'Donnell Celebration."
But it's not a celebration. It's an indoctrination. O'Donnell and HBO are pushing gay "marriage equality." A young black girl offers the sales pitch in the show's opening minute: "It doesn't matter if you have one parent. It doesn't matter if you have two moms. It doesn't matter if you have two dads. Just stick with it. A family's a family."
As O'Donnell explained to a reporter during her promotional tour: "It's hard to argue with the voices of innocent children telling the truth about their life and love." She's daring her opponents to try.
It was only a year ago that liberal elites in Washington were shoveling dirt on conservatism. James Carville was writing boastful books about 40 years of Democrat dominance, boasting in his typical way that he could call "time of death" on the Republican Party. Liberals believed their hype that Barack Obama would be that black FDR they pictured on the cover of Time magazine.
Now newspaper headlines read otherwise: "Where did the hope for Obama go?" The hot-air balloon has crashed to Earth, and you can tell conservatism is back with a swagger. You can tell because the media’s daily output has gone from breathless valentines for Obama to angry denunciations of Tea Party protesters.
Two years ago, Time critic Richard Corliss wrote an article that clearly must have resonated at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar telecast was sinking in the ratings, he wrote, because the nominees were largely unwatched by the masses. It used to be that the Best Picture prize went to mainstream box-office hits. "Now when the nominations come out, people try to catch up with the finalists, but it's almost like homework."
The 2010 Oscar nominations clearly signal that Hollywood is trying to return to a broader vision of the Oscars, as something more than an insular critics’ circle that likes only the self-consciously arty and obscure. That signal came most obviously with the announcement that there would be ten nominees for Best Picture. That list hadn’t seen 10 nominations since 1943, when the winner was "Casablanca."
Arty films that almost nobody has seen are still there – like "An Education." But arty blockbusters are there as well, like "Avatar" – current box office gross: $601 million -- and the animated film "Up," with $293 million. (By contrast, two years ago, the Best Picture box office leader was "Juno" – at $85 million when the nominations came out.)
In his book "The Courage to Be Catholic," author George Weigel surprised readers by insisting that the very secular and liberal Boston Globe and the New York Times had done the Lord’s work in rooting out the story of child sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.
Weigel is correct, and never mind that the newsies at the Globe and the Times were relishing making the Church cringe. But these secular liberal media outlets will not tell the story when the American bishops allow the donations of Catholics to be diverted to fund abortion-rights activism, even if most Catholics view abortion as the most horrific form of child abuse. The media almost unanimously celebrate abortion as the summit of women’s "liberation," and so the treatment is just the opposite. The press is refusing to cover this scandal.
The American Life League and the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry have been demanding reform of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They charge that no less than 50 organizations (one fifth of all CCHD grantees from 2009) are in some capacity engaged in pro-abortion or pro-gay causes.
The Super Bowl is a cultural phenomenon. It’s not only watched by godzillions of people worldwide, it’s the only televised broadcast where the audience tunes in not just for the game, but for the commercials. The top-dollar, high-profile advertising space has led to some unforgettable commercials over the years.
Sometimes the ad is so remarkable it becomes a word-of-mouth sensation before it even airs, before anyone has even seen it. It’s happened again this year.
CBS has decided to accept an ad from a politically involved group and caused a firestorm with the radical Left because that group is proudly Christian.
The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family plans to air a commercial featuring Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, who will tell the story of how doctors told her she should have an abortion, and she refused that exercise of "choice." Pam Tebow was a missionary in the Philippines and had contracted dysentery, and the medicine had a chance of causing birth defects.
The declining (or is it dying?) newspaper industry has suffered another blow to its image as punctilious skeptic with the motto "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." It turns out a pile of American newspapers can’t manage to check out the most basic information about people who are flat-out using their pages to push political agendas.
A person with the name of "Ellie Light" has been successfully published with the same letter in at least 68 newspapers defending President Obama – defrauding the editors by using local addresses. Reports have "her" published in two papers overseas.
Who is "Ellie Light"? We know this much: "She" is a fraud.
When the cable network VH1 planned a news special called "The New Virginity," an abstinence backer might have felt optimistic that teenagers and young adults were going to get a refreshing jolt of publicity about the option of premarital celibacy. That is, unless you looked at the network’s promotional fine print.
Words have meanings. So when VH1 promised to explore the "roots of our current obsession with chastity" as it’s advocated by popular teenaged celebrities, you knew the fix was in. They suggest these stars just cannot be sincere. Instead, playing to "virgin mania" is just a marketing scheme: "Virginity doesn’t stop celebs from looking and acting provocatively – playing both sides with impressive marketing results."
Now, I suppose it’s possible that some parents and agents of teen stars are in fact conducting crass marketing exercises on the side. But those really aren’t the ones who bother today’s sexual libertines. It’s the sincere virginity campaigners that truly drive them crazy, so nutty that channels like VH1 are out there warning the public that every purity-pledger is a fraud, or weeks away from becoming a fraud.
In recent years, the network news shows have raced by any political campaigns below the level of president, stopping only if the candidate is named "Clinton" or "Schwarzenegger." That principle held true for the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts. By the time the networks arrived with just a handful of days remaining, Martha Coakley, the Democrat, had fairly well sunk, and there was nothing more to do than the tiresome "bad candidate, not faulty ideology" spin control.
In liberal-media offices, the last narrative they want for this year is "1994: The Sequel."
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby was right to joke that perhaps New York Times book editor Sam Tanenhaus may want to rush some updates to his book "The Death of Conservatism."
When people think of the public morals of Europe, the word "decadence" comes to mind. Sex, drugs, and the decline and fall of the churches all define the trend. Amsterdam, for example is celebrated as "San Francisco times ten."
But that portrait doesn't fit as well in Eastern Europe. Take Lithuania, a small Catholic country of 3.3 million people that was forced to be a captive nation within the Soviet Union for five decades. At the end of 2009, their parliament, the Seimas, amended a new law passed in July for the protection of minors. It passed 58 to 4, with 25 abstaining.
The law limits a broad range of public information considered harmful to children, including graphic violence, instructions on how to make explosives, presentation of drug use in a positive light, pornography and ridicule or harassment based on race, religion, wealth or sexual orientation. The amendments also make clear that the legal restrictions apply to education, the mass media, advertising and all other types of public information, not to parents in the home.
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are laughing all the way to the bank at the mess Harry Reid is facing. The hottest backstage tidbit of their new campaign chronicle "Game Change" is that Reid praised Barack Obama’s political appeal as a "light-skinned" black man with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
The prestige these authors have among their media colleagues was more weighty than the Democrats pleading to be spared the headache. (Halperin is now at Time after many years at ABC; Heilemann is at New York magazine.) For his part, President Obama quickly proclaimed "the book is closed," even if the uproar was just beginning. Obama did not comment on the book’s report that Ted Kennedy was furious at Bill Clinton after Clinton sneered that Obama was so inexperienced that "a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."
The authors said "trust us" on the book’s anonymous sources, because we know these campaign sources so thoroughly that we know all their motivations. Which leads to Question #2: If you know these sources so well, why did it take a year or two to unload these scoops?
The first rule of dinner-table conversation is no hot talk about politics or religion. Apparently there’s a rule regarding the discussion of religion during political talk shows, too.
On "Fox News Sunday" on January 3, the panelists had advanced to that light part of the discussion where they focusing on movies and crime novelists. Venerated news man Brit Hume turned to sports, and predicted Tiger Woods would return to success as a golfer. But if he really wanted to recover as a person, Hume suggested, he should consider Christianity. Woods is a Buddhist, he said, but Christianity offered the forgiveness and redemption that could really make Woods a powerful role model for faith and recovery.
Ka-boom. Oh, what a reaction erupted.
Some in the secular elite acted like Hume had set the national house on fire and broken all the fine china. Some TV talk show hosts quite seriously compared Hume’s comments to those of "Islamic extremists" waging a "holy war."
The news that Rush Limbaugh had entered a Hawaii hospital over the New Year’s weekend complaining of chest pains triggered a volcanic internet eruption for the hard left the likes of which we’ve never seen before. If Mt. Vesuvius could vomit in a literal sense, this would be it.
This time these radicals let their guard down and showed their true colors.
The Twitter lines were ablaze as liberals celebrated the news, news that suggested Mr. Limbaugh was at the very least very ill, and quite possibly dying or maybe already dead:
"Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital in Honolulu. Maybe Santa did get my letter."
"Rush was rushed to the Hospital. Just when I thought Christmas was over…"
"Come on God, I don’t ask for much, and I very rarely ask you to smite anyone, but please kill Rush Limbaugh tonight."
Sounding boards like "Democratic Underground" had field days, living down to their reputations for wishing the very worst for conservatives. One very early conversation among their members carried this exchange:
"I hope he croaks. The world would be a better place."
It was a year in which the dominant cultural story was the sad, but eerily almost predictable drug-addled death of Michael Jackson. But there were a few good moments sprinkled in with the outrageous and the tawdry in 2009. My choices for cultural winners and losers this year:
Winner: Farrah Fawcett. Unlike Jackson, she fought and ultimately lost her battle with cancer with extraordinary grace, faith, and dignity.
Winner: "Up." The elite and the people agree that Pixar films are sublimely entertaining. The eight-minute montage near the beginning of this film sweetly chronicling a loving marriage moved millions to tears from coast to coast.
In fact, animated movies continued to earn massive box-office receipts. "Up" drew almost $300 million, "Monsters vs. Aliens" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" came very close to $200 million, and the offbeat "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" grossed more than $120 million.
On December 22, the networks calmly, briefly, and quietly acknowledged the news that the government revised its economic-growth number for the third quarter downward, from 3.5 percent to a less impressive 2.2 percent. As 2009 comes to a close, the media elite are showing enormous patience with the pace of a recovery, without any troublesome talk of whether Barack Obama’s dramatic expansion of government is helping or hurting the economy.
Back in 2004, when unemployment was 5.4 percent instead of the present-day 10 percent, these same networks were comparing George W. Bush to Herbert Hoover. The government announced 250,000 new jobs were created, but the anchormen talked incessantly about how Bush was losing unemployed voters in Ohio. The Business and Media Institute found 77 percent of reports on economic indicators on ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC (as well as The New York Times and The Washington Post) were negative that summer.
Inside the studios of talk radio and cable news, the hot talk about a "war on Christmas" has cooled somewhat in 2009. But the controversies over Christmas, which seem as eternal as religion itself, continue on a number of different levels.
There’s the schoolhouse war over politeness to religious minorities – and even more unnecessarily, the altogether non-religious. This is the kind where many parents sit through inane "winter" chorus concerts at both public and private schools where there are more songs about sleds and skis than about herald angels and newborn kings. In some cases, students even salute the holidays of religious minorities (including the recently invented Kwanzaa) while excluding any mention of Christmas.
At my son’s "holiday" middle-school party, students performed skits from "Star Wars" and "West Side Story" and there was even a tribute to Michael Jackson. Not one popular Christmas carol was sung all night. (Their version of a "Silent Night," come to think of it.)
The year 2009 might be classified as the year Barack Obama came down to Earth. The latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that 47 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, and 46 percent disapprove. Those are not exactly Messiah numbers.
And that’s the big difference between the public and the press. The media do believe he’s God.
Evan Thomas of Newsweek has a way of summing it all up. On "Hardball" in June, Thomas explained that while Ronald Reagan was just a "parochial" and "provincial" president of the United States, Obama can lead the whole world. "In a way, Obama is standing above the country, above the world. He's sort of God. He's going to bring all different sides together." After the inevitable furor, Thomas said he wasn’t "being literal."
Lest any citizen think the U.S. Congress is absorbed only in the weightiest matters like nationalizing the health care system, the House just passed another piece of legislation – a bill urging that TV commercials be no louder than the shows in which they appear.
The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) passed Tuesday on a voice vote, “presumably expressed at a comfortable level,” joked a USA Today writer. It now goes to the Senate, which is considering an identical bill.
"I not only dive for the mute button, but I end up having to close my windows so that the blast doesn't affect by neighbors," said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, the entrenched Silicon Valley Democrat who is the major promoter of CALM. "I live on a cul-de-sac, and so the sound resonates."