It was not exactly a plum assignment for a Republican to go on network television to discuss the alleged foot-tapping ways of the soon-to-be former GOP senator from Idaho. But Republicans also could easily see the delight in the eyes of the liberal media when word of Sen. Larry Craig’s Minneapolis airport arrest broke. The press went right back to last year’s smash-mouth Foleygate talking points about how this wasn’t just about the moral turpitude of one member of Congress, but it was about the impending end of the Republican Party, and potential doom for American conservatism.
On Tuesday, NBC’s "Today" show had opened with Matt Lauer asking: "Can the right wing withstand yet another scandal involving one of its own?" (Try imagining Matt Lauer, or any other network journalist out there, asking if "the left wing" could withstand yet another scandal after the breaking news of any one of the endless scandals revolving around Bill and Hillary Clinton.) Ann Curry chimed in, wondering "how does this specter of hypocrisy affect the Party?"
Watching network morning show anchors interview the Democratic presidential candidates often makes you wonder if you’ve seen tougher interviews on overnight acne-care infomercials. Their questions are often so simple and promotional that you wish they’d just go ahead and wear their "Hillary!" or "Obama ‘08" buttons on the set.
There is no pretense of political balance. They are actively rooting for a Democratic victory next year, and they have the power to make a real difference. Notwithstanding their overall loss of audience in the last decade, ABC, CBS, and NBC morning shows draw nine times the audience of their cable-news competitors and are geared toward the mostly apolitical mainstream, which makes them an important free-media showcase for presidential hopefuls. A new study shows that if this year’s campaign coverage on the TV morning shows were a primary election, the Democrats would win in a landslide of attention and hyperbole.
Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center assessed all morning-show coverage on the Big Three from January 1 through July 31.
After CNN and YouTube organized a fairly silly and yet seriously liberal presidential debate for the Democratic presidential candidates this summer, GOP contenders developed cold feet about placing their ambitions at the feet of these groups. When only two GOP candidates accepted invitations for a proposed CNN/YouTube debate in September, the event was called off. In response, a set of conservative bloggers started a website called Savethedebate.com, urging that “Republicans cannot afford to write off the Internet” and risk “denigrating” the youth vote and the way they communicate. Five GOP candidates have now agreed; the new date is November 28.
These bloggers are fine conservatives, but no one should be under the illusion that writing off one website is “writing off the Internet.” That said, GOP candidates do not have the Democrats’ luxury of ignoring hostile media outlets like FOX as if they did not exist.
Here’s one sign that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential frontrunner. Reporters are tripping over themselves to convince us how likable and human she is, strong and yet nurturing. It’s the same playbook the media used for Al Gore and John Kerry, both just as stiff, robotic, and unlikeable then as Hillary is now. So they’re portraying Hillary not only as strong and invincible, but also as warm as a down comforter and as sweet as Mrs. Butterworth.
The New York Times stands out as a primary transmission belt for the Clinton campaign’s effort to melt the ice-queen image.
Senator Charles Schumer is a legendary pursuer of television cameras. But look at the way the national media are covering Schumer’s heavy-breathing pursuit to make Attorney General Alberto Gonzales cry uncle and resign. It makes you wonder just how hard Schumer has to work to get press attention. The media look Schumer-owned and operated.
One interview really captures how the press looks more like a Democratic goon squad than a nonpartisan observers of the national scene. On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” news anchor Christopher Cuomo, son of Mario Cuomo, asked this pushy question on July 27: “Is Alberto Gonzales out of a job at end of business today?” Cuomo wanted the Attorney General whacked, and he wanted it now.
Every four years, journalists present themselves as objective questioners in presidential debates only to be roundly, and correctly, denounced by conservatives for being anything but. When, oh when, we ask, will America be able to enjoy a candidate forum free from liberal reporters inserting their slanted worldviews into the discussion? When, oh when, we ask ourselves, will they get out of the way?
It looks like we should be very careful what we ask for.
Let’s be blunt: Michael Moore is one ungrateful leftist hack. CNN had showered him with three hours and ten minutes of face time (repeats included) on "Larry King Live" and "The Situation Room," helping him sell his latest socialist film "Sicko." That kind of attention would make a conservative drool. But when CNN aired a "fact check" piece on his documentary, adding a fraction of balance, he declared jihad, promising in a letter to be CNN’s "worst nightmare."
The 2008 presidential campaign could be one of the most critical in recent history. As things now stand, it could also be one of the most tiresome. Nowhere is media snobbishness more evident than when the big picture begins with the snide liberal elitist take on America: is the country "ready" to elect a black like Barack Obama or a woman like Hillary Clinton?
If Americans reject the icons of liberalism and vote Republican, apparently they will be proving the country is stuffed with benighted bigots who refuse to "expand America's sense of possibility." Those gauzy words came from Newsweek in their Barack-and-Hillary cover at the end of 2006. Obama's back on the cover of Newsweek again for the July 16 edition, photographed in black and white, with another question from left field: Will Obama be black enough for blacks and yet conciliatory enough for whites?
So there was Elizabeth Edwards, wife of the Blow-Dried One, berating
Ann Coulter on the art of civil discourse last week. After her phone-in
appearance on the Chris Matthews show, St. Elizabeth was the toast of
the media town, making the rounds from one network to the next, with
rose pedals strewn in her path to guide her to her seat, denouncing the
“hatefulness” and “ugliness” of conservative commentators. “We can't
have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language,” she
It’s a good thing none of her interviewers pretended
to be objective. It’s a good thing she wasn’t asked about hatefulness
and ugliness on the left. It would have been painful.
instance, what if she’d been asked to denounce a quote from a leading
liberal who favors rage as a necessary ingredient in fighting for a
rapid timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and who attacked
congressional Democrats as weaklings: “We needed uncompromising rage,
and we got silence. We needed courage, and we got silence. And that
silence was, have no doubt about it, a betrayal: of the soldiers, of
the voters in 2006, of humanity and morality.”
In the eyes of most political observers, the Democratic takeover of Congress signaled tougher federal scrutiny of business interests, but those same pundits might make an exception for the entertainment industry given that Hollywood is a major financial base for Democrats. But when the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on children and TV violence on June 26, the roles seemed to be reversed: it was the Democrats taking the entertainment industry to task as socially irresponsible, while Republicans in general favored the do-nothing approach.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) began with a strong call for the television barons to stop pouring sewage into America’s living rooms, promising to introduce a tough bill next month to allow federal regulation of indecent, violent, and profane content on TV. He slammed Hollywood for putting its short-term profits ahead of the long-term interests of children by conducting "a never-ending race to the bottom," and insisted the industry was “unable and unwilling to police itself."
Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for MSNBC, recently filed a report on the MSNBC website that won’t win him any Pulitzers. He investigated political donations made by journalists, and found a resounding liberal tilt: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes, and only 16 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
Does this prove cause and effect, a subsequent tilt in the liberal media’s coverage of the news? No, but to believe there is no causation at play here is ludicrous: if a survey of journalists found that 86 percent were donors to the National Right to Life Committee, would anyone dispute labeling the media "pro-life"?
The talk radio lines were ablaze with commentary. Predictably the news media reacted with near silence. Fox News, of course, was on it. MSNBC television lightly covered the result on TV – but refused to discuss the media bias angle. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post filed a good story, as did a few other "mainstream" newspapers, but that was it.
Webster’s defines “conservatism” as meaning “marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners.” Sadly, today there are those who call themselves “conservative” who have no interest in preserving tradition, who uphold no standards on the question of taste, and who have no appetite for appearing the slightest bit fuddy-duddy on the question of manners.
This kind of conservative has embraced the anarchical libertarian worldview which on matters of traditional manners and tastes throws caution to the winds, embracing the notion that the “market” – society’s lowest common denominator on cultural issues -- should decide. And if this erosion of traditional values leads to the disintegration of the culture, so be it.
This might explain why a managing editor of National Review Online, a brand name synonymous with conservatism, would be arguing that the F-word is not indecent on national broadcast television in prime time; insists that the idea of “community standards” in matters of public morality is out of touch; and perhaps most surprisingly, mocks the idea that “the sanctity of children’s ears” is a defensible moral cause, as if innocent kindergarteners can’t handle full-fledged cussing binges.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announcing he’s leaving the Republican Party is a little like Madonna announcing she’s leaving the Catholic Church. Was he ever really a paragon of the GOP? Speculation abounds that he’s running for president on the Ross Perot egotistical-billionaire plan, with press reports citing his intention to spend a cool $1 billion of his personal fortune. That will surely create a headwind, but a big part of the wind beneath his wings will be the support he hopes to generate from the national media.
And it’s happening already. Bloomberg’s third-party spoiler ambitions were heavily promoted by two news magazines – a big promotional cover story in Time with fellow RINO Arnold Schwarzenegger titled "The New Action Heroes," and a two-page editorial by U.S. News & World Report owner Mort Zuckerman titled "What to Like About Mike."
This is not to say these magazines believe what America really needs is a successful media magnate in the White House. If they did, they would have done the same publicity favors for Steve Forbes.
CNN hosted three presidential debates last week, two for the Democrats and one for the Republicans. Democratic candidates were awarded twice as much airtime in a three-day period. CNN has its work cut out for it if it wants to be seen as impartial in the upcoming presidential election.
What tilted the schedule in the Democrats’ favor? Both Sunday’s and Tuesday’s two-hour traditional debates in New Hampshire with each party were hosted by Wolf Blitzer. But on Monday, CNN devoted an hour to the top three Democrat contenders, hosted by the religious-left group Sojourners. Each received 15 minutes of air time. When that hour was over, CNN awarded most of the "second tier" – four more Democratic contenders – more time to discuss their faith in individual interviews on "Paula Zahn Now." That’s almost another two hours for the Democrats.
No journalists in the last thirty years have built more of a legend than the old Washington Post pairing of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. As the Watergate wrecking crew that put Richard Nixon in the scrap yard, they are America’s most venerated “icons” of investigative reporting.
But since that event, the paths of Woodward and Bernstein have separated dramatically. Woodward is still considered the top-dog journalist in Washington, a titan no president can ignore if he cares about his historical legacy, or his short-term political standing. By contrast, Bernstein has bounced around to cushy media jobs, at ABC, and at Time magazine, rarely distinguishing himself, with a mere fraction of Woodward’s celebrity aura.
Al Gore’s new book "The Assault on Reason" has definitively established one fact: Al Gore is still the sorest loser in American politics. Even liberal book reviewers are wincing at the tone of his jeremiad against the Bush administration. The book should have been titled "They Should Have Elected Me Instead: How Much Better America Would Fare With President Gore."
Like many liberals with the itch to micromanage our lives, Gore clearly believes the American people are ignorant to the point of endangerment. So he’s become a media scholar, and unloaded his communications theories in a book excerpt hyped by his friends at Time magazine.
Almost 28 years ago I toyed with my first professional writing adventure. My college roommate Joe Duggan had approached me with the proposition that we freelance a profile piece on the man who was grabbing national headlines with his political activism, so we drove down to Lynchburg Virginia, attended a service at the Thomas Road Baptist Church, and then settled in for an hour-long interview with its founder. Yesterday I returned to that church, this time with my son David, and joined by the 6,000 packed inside the building, and thousands more seated at Liberty University’s Vines Center and Williams stadium, we paid our final respects at Jerry Falwell’s funeral service.
His story is one of extraordinary professional accomplishments: The Thomas Road Baptist Church, with 24,000 members; Liberty University, with 27,000 students and 125,000 graduates; the Old Time Gospel Hour radio and television programs – on and on it goes, a ministerial enterprise that operates on a $200 million annual budget. Oh, and along the way he also founded the Moral Majority, the political juggernaut critically instrumental in the election of Ronald Reagan.
Webster’s tells us that an extremist is one who is "at the end or outermost point; farthest away; most remote." In politics, extremism is "the extreme right or the extreme left." Both sides have their respective ideological embarrassments, but with one striking difference: if you’re a left-wing environmental extremist you are treated as sensible, even praiseworthy, by ABC News.
Meet Colin Beavan, a man who touts himself as "No Impact Man," a walking Manhattan publicity stunt with a book deal and a documentary filmmaker to publicize his year of monastic self-denial. He sounds like a comic-book superhero, but the more you hear of his story, the more it’s simply comic. He describes himself whimsically on his own No Impact Man blog as a "guilty liberal" and a "tree-hugging lunatic," and that was good enough for ABC’s "Good Morning America," which on May 10 devoted eight and a half minutes to exploring Beavan’s World.
Anyone whose remote control wandered past an ABC, CBS, or NBC morning "news" show on May 5 probably found the "news" hounds barking enthusiastically over this supposed "news" scoop: Paris Hilton was sentenced to Los Angeles County jail for 45 days. She violated parole after repeated episodes of reckless driving. This was news of national concern.
The morning anchors interviewed legal experts and professional Hollywood celebrity-stalkers to lament this heiress being brought low, complete with bad jokes about the jail being a "one-star Hilton." But they all wondered out loud: Who is to blame for this human train wreck?
Paris, being the thoughtless egotist that she is, blamed her publicist for telling her she could drive to work. That’s baloney. You don’t assign the "help" to read your legal documents for you.
We’ve now finished the first two presidential debates, both on MSNBC. Pundits are debating whether they will make a difference in the race, but one thing is very clear: it’s business as usual for the media moderating these things. The Democrats were treated to an amiable chit-chat among friends. The Republicans took round after round of hostile fire from enemies. Nothing ever changes. The Democrats are spoiled like rotten kids, and the Republicans are invited to sleep on a bed of nails, and do so willingly.
But the dynamic now has been made even worse by the petulant petitions and protests of the censorious left, the ones who claim to be "democrats" but want to remove Fox News Channel from the news media. Leftists believe in a media strategy with all the sophistication of holding your breath and turning blue. Fox hatred is required. On the Huffington Post, author Carol Hoenig argued the Democrats should debate on Fox. Even so, her article was headlined "Fox News: A Cancer On Society."
A few years ago, the Left pulled several muscles exerting itself with the strange theory that the Public Broadcasting Service was lurching dangerously to the right. When Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson had the audacity not only to speak internal profanities (“fairness” and “balance”), but to try and build on them, it became clear to them that he was out of control and needed to be stopped.
Tomlinson made several small but significant steps toward balance on our taxpayer-subsidized airwaves, nudging the creation of two right-leaning talk programs – “Tucker Carlson Unfiltered” and “The Journal Editorial Report” – and both suffered from the TV equivalent of crib death. Liberals really erupted when they learned Tomlinson secretly hired someone to assess the political balance of some PBS and NPR programs. This initiative was doomed, not only because the internal bureaucracy would never tolerate it, but because proving liberal bias at PBS is beyond easy. It’s like proving Rosie O’Donnell has a liberal bias: is it really necessary to conduct a study?
-- So, you think NBC shouldn’t have aired that Cho Seung-Hui video, do you?
-- NBC has a new definition for its initials: the Narcissism Broadcasting Company. How fitting it is that their logo is a peacock. It’s bad enough that this monster gunned down 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech. But in between murder sprees this vicious, calculating killer calmly went to the post office and sent an Express Mail package of his self-glorifying pictures and videos to NBC News in between killings – and NBC News rushed this killer’s propaganda on NBC and MSNBC within hours of receiving this bundle of psychosis.
-- So what’s your complaint? The timing – airing the video when nerves were at their most raw – or airing it at all?
-- Let’s start with the timing. Usually, after a school shooting, network news divisions mourn with the families, and comfort them on their shocking losses. In this case, NBC took their wounds and shoveled salt into them. Outraged families canceled their planned NBC interviews because their pain in no way balanced out NBC’s naked desire to stick it to their competitors. NBC News President Steve Capus implausibly claimed they were handling the exploitation with "great sensitivity" to the grieving, but the idea that they have any corporate compassion was completely lost to anyone who watched their frenzied programming.
Conservatives often ponder why more young conservatives don’t go into journalism. Here’s one easy reason: the path to prizes and prestige doesn’t come from fierce investigative probing into liberal sacred cows or sharp-eyed conservative commentary. It comes from pleasing liberals with stories which advance their agenda.
The 2007 Pulitzer Prizes must have been a sad affair, what with no major prize for exposing and ruining an anti-terrorism program, and no major natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina to blame on President Bush. But that doesn’t mean the Pulitzers weren’t typically political. After all, the panels of judges are stuffed with long-standing figures in the liberal media establishment.
Let’s start with the Commentary prize, which was awarded to Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The official Pulitzer Prize Board’s press release hailed Tucker’s “courageous, clear-headed columns that evince a strong sense of morality and persuasive knowledge of the community.” Translation: she’s liberal, and she hates George Bush.
I write these words in the wake of the news that MSNBC has dropped Don Imus from its lineup. I fully expect that by the time you read these words, CBS Radio will have fired him as well.
The raging media controversy over the stupid racial insult Imus threw at the Rutgers women’s basketball team – “nappy-headed hos” – has led the usual cast of professional victims, like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the NAACP, to deplore the racist underbelly of the broader American culture.
But where were these people when the subject was gangsta rap? With these arrogant and profane multi-millionaires routinely insulting and deriding people, especially black women, with language one hundred-fold more offensive than anything that ever came out of the I-Man’s mouth?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s make-believe Secretary of State routine in Syria has been painted by the press as a sign of emboldened Democrats taking on Team Bush’s neocon bumblers. Chris Matthews echoed his colleagues’ sentiments when he joyously declared she would "open the doors to peace."
It was, of course, an outrage, a direct slap at the President, an effort to humiliate him on the international stage. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and White House spokesman Dan Bartlett were quoted decrying Pelosi’s diplomatic freelancing. Conservative talk radio was livid. But where, oh where, were the congressional Republicans?
More to the point, where is the GOP leadership? I haven’t seen the polling data, but it would surprise me if one in ten Americans could even name them, so absent are they from the scene. John Boehner and Roy Blunt lead the House; Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott lead the Senate. Other than an occasional spot on the Sunday talk shows, they might as well adorn milk cartons with most Americans.
For all Christians, Easter is an outbreak of joy, a celebration of the resurrection of the risen Lord, marking the full promise of a savior unfolding like a spring flower.
For ABC, it’s just another night to sell sex.
During a Monday night broadcast of “Dancing with the Stars,” ABC promoted its Easter Sunday lineup, starting with an inspirational episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” So far, so good. But that’s where the good ended.
Then came the plug for a typical episode of “Desperate Housewives,” with one catty middle-aged woman saying to another, “I’m this close to seducing my gardener.” The other replies, “Been there, done that.” And at promo’s end, ABC showed another scene of the first woman – fortysomething, surgically altered Nicolette Sheridan – stripping off her blouse and skirt to reveal black lacy underthings as the announcer urged: “This Easter, take off your Sunday best, and turn on your favorite shows.”
Tom Tancredo has become well-known as the country’s most energetic Congressman against illegal immigration. He’s now running for president on that issue. National Public Radio also has a deeply ingrained reputation – as a taxpayer-subsidized network of gooey liberals. They speak in tones so sleep-inducing that their programs should be regarded as a potential traffic hazard.
On April 1, these two legends met, and sparks flew. The program was Sunday’s "All Things Considered" broadcast, hosted by Debbie Elliott. The trouble began at hello: Elliott introduced Tancredo as a man who "gained national prominence with his fierce opposition to allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens."
An awful lot has been said, and should be said, about this thing we call the New Media — that healthy, enlightening, inspiring, and simply refreshing Arctic blast of fresh air that has done so much to bring perspective, and simple common sense to the American public conversation.
In a very real sense, William F. Buckley Jr. started it all. His was the first television show dedicated to the proposition that the conservative position on the issues of the day mattered, and deserved a hearing, and for 33 years his ‘Firing Line’ delivered unlike any show of its kind, before or since.
Then there was National Review, the flagship publication of the movement founded 52 years ago, and which has delivered the intellectual sustenance for so many, including the man who went on to become the greatest president of the 20th century.
Where would the conservative movement be today without this alternative media? I shudder to think, which is why it is high time this movement recognize, formally, the extraordinary accomplishments of so many extraordinary people who day and night deliver our message to millions.
The top Washington story on Monday, March 26 came straight from the Sunday morning chat shows: the support for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was slipping, even among Republicans.
Which Republicans? There are conservatives who are not big fans of Gonzales, who would have preferred the President had chosen someone bolder, more confrontational, someone willing to make a case for conservatism. But none of those people were seen on ABC, CBS, or NBC. Viewers saw instead the "even Republicans," the ones who specialize in ratifying the conventional liberal media wisdom, as in "Even Republicans say Gonzales is cooked." If the media think Gonzales is crippled and Bush is wretched, then it’s not that hard for them to find Republicans will spit that line back to them, for emphasis. They aren’t Republicans. They merely play them on TV.
Today’s Internet age is putting an end to the hardcover encyclopedia business. Why spend fortunes on a massive (albeit attractive) World Book set when you can get what you need a mouse click away on the Internet? Any student preparing a research paper and searching Google will probably be handed over quickly to the "Wikipedia" on-line encyclopedia system. What’s more – and here’s an offer that presumably can’t be beat – it’s free!
At Wikipedia you won’t find a distinguished body of tweedy old professors poring over every paragraph on the Hanseatic League. It’s actually on the other end of the credibility spectrum. Wikipedia is an "open-source" encyclopedia, a reference source anyone can create. The danger in this system becomes very obvious, very quickly. Recently the comedian and movie star Sinbad had to announce that he was not, in fact, dead of a heart attack at age 50 as his Wikipedia entry claimed. "Somebody vandalized the page," claimed Wikipedia spokeswoman Sandra Ordonez.