The March 13 Washington Post erupted on the front page with the revelation that the White House played a role in the dismissal of eight U.S. Attorneys. "Firings Had Genesis In White House," screamed the headline. Documents showed that back in 2005, White House counsel Harriet Miers recommended the idea to the Justice Department that all 93 U.S. Attorneys be replaced. Instead, the Bush team dismissed only eight.
But something quite amazing was omitted by those hard-charging Post reporters Dan Eggen and John Solomon digging through White House E-mails for their scandalized front-page bombshell. Didn’t Bill Clinton’s brand new Attorney General Janet Reno demand resignations from all 93 U.S. attorneys on March 24, 1993? Wouldn’t that fact be relevant to the story? Wouldn’t it have the effect of lessening the oh-my-God hyperbole on the front page if the reader was shown that what Bush did was one-tenth as dramatic as what Team Clinton did? Yes, and yes.
Most liberal media outlets can't be bothered to visit, let alone cover the Conservative Political Action Conference every winter. But this year's event drew a large amount of publicity. CPAC hasn't been this notorious since reporter/fabricator Stephen Glass made up stories of wild sexual antics and drug use at CPAC hotel rooms and bathrooms ten years ago for The New Republic.
The furor surrounded author and columnist Ann Coulter, who cracked that she would like to comment on John Edwards, but "you have to go into rehab if you use the word `faggot.'" Coulter's joke was based on ABC's intense blitz recently to press "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington into rehab after he used the new F-word at the Golden Globes. The word used to be coarse and insulting, but liberals are now elevating it into a profanity, which is odd, considering they're constantly desensitizing the culture to all the historic profanities.
The press releases of the Discovery Channel boast that its parent company, Discovery Communications, is the “number one nonfiction media company.” That identifier is now in shambles, and the paper it’s printed on fit only to be crumpled and thrown away. The folks at Discovery have rendered themselves carnival barkers peddling sensationalistic garbage, trashy money-making gimmicks dressed up as real journalism.
The Discovery Channel is hyping to the heavens its new documentary on “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of “Titanic,” has joined filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in publicizing claims that a 2,000-year-old tomb containing 10 boxes of bones belonged to the family of Jesus of Nazareth. It also echoes the dopey “DaVinci Code” novel by asserting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a son. They claim the son was named Judah and that all three were buried together.
Al Gore may not have won the presidency (thank God), but over the last two years, he’s been given an enormous consolation prize by his friends on the left. He’s been designated as the Savior of the Planet.
First came the warm wave of supportive publicity surrounding his slide-show documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Katie Couric and Harry Smith and Oprah Winfrey all touted Gore as so warm, so vulnerable and self-effacing, and his predictions so impossibly scary. Last May, Gore and Couric sat together on a sunny day in Central Park and unspooled the doom. Manhattan would be under deep water soon if we don’t take drastic measures, they warned.
Now comes another warm wave of media smooches and applause with the news of his plan for an international set of "Live Earth" concerts to promote massive government action to curb humanity’s excessive reliance on energy. Impending global doom has become such a hip cause it’s now pushed by Cameron Diaz, Jon Bon Jovi, and a flock of other Hollywood astrophysicists, the homelessness issue having become passe.
In every electoral cycle, the liberal media informs us that the Democratic Party will fight fiercely for the votes of religious Americans and refute the ugly, even slanderous caricature that the Democrats are the party that mocks God, prayer, and everything most Americans hold dear.
And then, suddenly the alleged caricature has a name. Meet Amanda Marcotte.
Marcotte is a hater – to be precise, a hater of the Christian religion and how it apparently warps society with its oppressive myths. For some mysterious reason, John Edwards, just a few years removed from being inaccurately hailed by coddling correspondents as a Southern centrist balancing the John Kerry ticket, hired Marcotte as one of his official bloggers.
The novelty of the 2008 presidential campaign is the apparent necessity for every campaign to have an official blogger or two. The problem, it seems, is that Edwards never seemed to read – let’s hope he never read – a thing his sneering new employee wrote over a period of months. It was all summed up in one outrageous alleged joke from last summer:
Never try to say ABC anchor Diane Sawyer hasn’t been tough on oppressors. In one interview in 1998, she stared one in the face and said, "You’ve been compared to Saddam Hussein. Nero. To Torquemada, who was head of the Inquisition."
Oh, forgive me. That wasn’t a dictator she was questioning. It was Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel investigating Bill Clinton’s lying under oath. This was a common practice for ABC at the time. Their website had an infamous instant poll asking if there was an "Ig-Nobel" prize, who should win it? The choices were Saddam, Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden and....Linda Tripp.
So how do ABC news anchors like Sawyer perform when they land "exclusive" interviews with actual dictators? The rings of international thugs are kissed for the privilege. Their obvious lack of respect for the concept of democracy is politely skimmed over. The real threat they pose to America is downplayed – or ignored.
Hillary has to be nervous. At this juncture in the campaign, she’s being edged out in the Goo Primary. Her natural allies in the media suddenly are more adulatory toward Barack Obama – and more defensive of anyone who would dare question his exotic biography.
Insight magazine, a long-standing publication of The Washington Times Company, published a gossipy item with anonymous “Democratic Party” sources (they claimed some of them came from Hillary’s camp) that Obama had attended a madrassa, a radical Islamic school, in Indonesia as a child. The story was unproven, and should not have been published in its sorry condition.
Hollywood types speak gauzily of their "art," even if nothing seems to fit the definition of some of this "art" better than "films almost no one wants to watch." Robert Redford became a hero of the "art" film world by founding the Sundance Institute in 1981, based on the call for "creative risk-taking" and "nurturing the diversity of artistic expression." But the search for risk-taking-cum-creative diversity is a hopeless free-fall into the abyss, and all too often, and too predictably, results in creative perversity. What Mapplethorpe brought to the photograph, Redford’s festival is now bringing to the silver screen.
The 2007 Sundance festival has reached a new low with a strange, yet highly publicized film called "Zoo." No, it isn’t about giraffes and hippos. "Zoo" is about "zoophiles" – you know, humans who like sex with animals. The documentary explores the activities of a group of men in the Pacific Northwest who engaged in bestiality. To be precise, they engaged in sex with Arabian stallions – until a man died from a perforated colon in 2005.
The "historic" Democratic presidential primaries of 2008 are kicking in already, and the online announcements of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spun the media into a frothy sweet Frappucino of giddiness.
Take ABC, whose Claire Shipman described the emerging Democratic race this way: "Call it Obama wave collides with Clinton juggernaut," a contest between Obama’s "fluid poetry" and Hillary’s "hot factor" from her "ever-popular" husband. If this piece was in print instead of on television, it would have fallen off the page with all the exclamation points. High-school dance squads have less enthusiasm; high school term papers have less hyperbole.
For three years, President Bush has been portrayed as stubborn on Iraq, so defiant that it’s disturbing, perhaps even a sign of delusional certitude. There’s a mirror image at play: those doing the portraying, i.e., the media have been every bit as stubborn when it comes to their defiant insistence that everything that happens in Iraq, no matter how positive, is another peg for bad news coverage.
We acknowledge that the daily drumbeat of death pounded by the media is based on facts. That does not mean that all death is bad. In war, it is a tragedy to learn that your countrymen have fallen. It is cause for celebration when the enemy dies. But for the American news media, all news is bad news if the theater is Iraq.
Anyone remembering the ascent of Newt Gingrich to House Speaker in 1995 surely noticed a difference between media coverage of that historic event and Nancy Pelosi taking the gavel back for the Democrats in 2007. One had all the joy of a child’s funeral. The other was New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
CNN even had a countdown clock to the Democrats regaining the majority. All that was missing was a lighted crystal donkey that would descend down a pole on the top of the Capitol dome. CNN’s Dana Bash called Pelosi’s gavel grab a "moment to savor," surely true for her supporters, but the bitterest of pills to swallow for those who worked their hearts out last year to keep Pelosi and her liberal army from retaking the House. CNN left no doubt where it stood on this divide.
The liberal media despised Newt, and adore Nancy. They’ve demonstrated this by the way they played up the Gingrich threat in the weeks after the ’94 GOP tsunami, while virtually ignoring Pelosi and her radical agenda for the last two months.
The passing of President Gerald Ford drew a dignified, even warm farewell from the national press. There was near-consensus that he would be remembered for his decency and the risk he took, pardoning Richard Nixon from Watergate prosecutions in an effort to heal the nation. It is proper that the press is kind today. It ought to be remembered, however, that the press was not of this opinion when Ford took office.
For example, Time magazine’s cover story on the pardon in September 1974 declared that "Ford's first major decision raised disturbing questions about his judgment and his leadership capabilities, and called into question his competence." The cover carried suggestive sub-headlines like "Squandered Trust" and "Premature and Unwise." Such was the media’s mood toward this man’s actions in office.
Atheist activist Sam Harris recently proclaimed on National Public Radio that America needed a lot more mockery of religious belief. "I think the criticism of irrationality just has to come from 100 sides all at once,” he declared. “In the entertainment community, maybe you'll just have people making jokes that are funny enough and true enough so as to put religious certainty in a bad light."
Harris said he’s been trying hard to make contacts among the mind-benders in the news and entertainment media to find those God-scorning people who feel “a profound sense of relief that comes with hearing somebody call a spade a spade.”
It’s amazing that as the 20th century escapes from our rear view mirror, some hippie liberals are still recycling their Sixties angst. For God’s sakes, it’s almost 2007. Can’t someone graduate from college without a baby boomer commencement speaker pulling out a handkerchief over the sorry state of the world since the idealists shook their last tambourine on the Ed Sullivan Show?
The guilt-soaked commencement address was a common theme as 58 judges put on their reading glasses to select the Media Research Center’s “Best of Notable Quotables,” the annual compendium of very real press inanities. The “Quote of the Year” was awarded to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. In a May 21 speech to graduates in New Paltz, New York, Junior poured out his apologies for the sorry state of the world passed on to the new graduates by negligent baby boomers.
That great American ambassador and lovely lady Jeane Kirkpatrick has left us, but her passing also causes us to remember her strategic sense and moral clarity. She came to national prominence in Reaganite circles in 1979 with her marvelous Commentary magazine essay on “Dictatorship and Double Standards.” It argued that traditional authoritarian autocracies were both more susceptible to liberalization and more amenable to American interests than totalitarian dictatorships of the left, which came into power with disturbing frequency in the late 1970s, with America as their stated enemy.
She easily explained how the Carter administration and the liberal press romantically saw in the revolutionary left a shared commitment to modernity over tradition, science over religion, an educated bureaucracy over private hierarchies, and futuristic and universal goals over appeals to an archaic and ordered past.
The hubbub raised over six Islamic imams being removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior is the latest in a string of incidents underlining one consistent thread in the war on terror: Muslim terrorists have never given up on the tried and true idea of hijacking airplanes and blowing them up to kill and demoralize the infidels.
Police and witness reports suggest a list of suspicious activities and remarks. Some of the imams were discussing in Arabic about "bin Laden" and condemning America for "killing Saddam." Imams asked for seat belt extenders for the extremely obese, for no apparent reason. (Did you know such extenders even existed?) The imams spread out at all exits of the plane, two in front, two in the middle, two in the rear. Between the six imams, they had one piece of checked luggage.
If we were to believe liberals, the last several years could be dubbed the Age of Propaganda, what scandalized columnist Frank Rich, who knows quite a lot about this subject, calls the “decline and fall of truth.”
They complained when government agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services put out “video news releases” that some lax TV stations aired without editing. They complained when the Pentagon hired American P.R. companies like the Lincoln Group to place positive stories about American forces in the Iraqi newspapers. They complained when conservative P.R. man Armstrong Williams struck a deal with the Department of Education to promote the Bush “No Child Left Behind” policy.
But the same left-wing crowd that claims to hate propaganda seems to be offering nothing but flowers and best wishes for the November launch of al-Jazeera English.
We lead fairly schizophrenic lives during the Christmas season in America. Our popular holiday rituals are bifurcated between the sacred and the secular; between the very worldly commercial extravaganza of Christmas as offered by our department stores – when they have the guts to employ the word “Christmas” – and Christianity celebrating the birth of Our Lord.
Hollywood hasn’t been so split on this question. It is firmly ensconced, and comfortable, in the secular world. Year after year, it offers commercial Christmas movies this time of year, with Grinches and Rudolphs, good Santas and Bad Santas, the Kranks and the Muppets. We’ve been Scrooged, been on Christmas Vacation, and taken rides on the Polar Express. We’ve seen the Christmas-as-a-backdrop movies like “Home Alone,” which, like so many others, might offer something about the Christmas “spirit” but wouldn’t dare to touch the Birth of Christ itself.
For most of the last year, Congressman John Murtha has been placed on a pedestal by the major media, painted in red, white, and blue hues as a “hawkish” Democrat who courageously declared we needed to “redeploy” (read: withdraw) from Iraq.
The oohs and aahs began last November. “All of Washington listened,” announced CBS’s Bob Schieffer, since “on military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential.” Murtha’s words “followed President Bush halfway around the world,” boasted NBC anchor Brian Williams. CNN’s Bill Schneider declared Murtha’s withdrawal mantra as the “Political Play of the Week,” suggesting it might turn out to be a tipping point just as delicious as Walter Cronkite’s call to get out of a “stalemate” in Vietnam.
In mid-August, Sen. George Allen used the word "Macaca" to describe an Indian-American staffer for his Democrat opponent who’d been filming his campaign appearances. Little did he realize that this would cost him his Senate seat and any hopes for the presidency in 2008.
Local liberal elites long have believed the Washington Times to be an oafishly right-wing rag while viewing the Washington Post as the dictionary definition of detachment and straight-forward reporting. The 2006 campaign proves this to be nonsense. When it came to Allen, the Post completely lost its bearings, treating Allen with left-wing aggression and loathing, as if he ripped out the fingernails of small children every night as a giggly hobby. Today Allen’s political scalp hangs on their newsroom wall.
If we rigidly applied truth-in-advertising laws to the national media in their coverage of the 2006 campaign, we would have first declared that the stuff between the commercials wasn’t "news" as much as a boatload of free infomercial advertising for the Democrats. The news reports should have led with the sentence, "I’m Nancy Pelosi, and I approved this newscast."
Republicans made a lot of mistakes, and caused themselves a pile of problems. Their house is a mess; it's time to tear down and start over. But I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news -- and non-news -- by the national media. They ought to be collectively ashamed. They have made a mockery out of the term "objective journalism" and a laughingstock of themselves at the idea that they should be considered objective journalists.
There are occasions in the news coverage of campaigns where fevered imagination kicks in and calm, comparative reason takes a holiday. Here we go again, and this time it’s Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic contender for the Senate in Tennessee who is getting the red carpet media treatment. Ford is an attractive black “rising Democratic star,” whose only obstacle is Tennessee’s inability to get beyond its sordid racist past.
The East Coast media recently parachuted into Tennessee to explore if the state was still so backward as to elect yet another Republican. On its front page, The Washington Post began a story with John Layne, aging white Republican, who came to a Ford rally because he has emphysema and worries about health care. "Oh, sure, there's some prejudice," Layne said. "I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one." But apparently, he’ll vote for one if the government benefit checks are good.
Our news media have long lectured us that their role is not to be "stenographers to power." Theirs is the pursuit of truth, we are told. But when it comes to networks like CNN, those ethical rules are crumpled and tossed into the nearest trash bin.
Editorial writers at the Washington Post and elsewhere have raged against the Pentagon placing positive stories in Iraqi newspapers, thus violating the journalistic sacristy of objectivity. But they have no rage at all for CNN placing glorifying publicity from terrorists on a global television network.
Democrats across America are measuring the drapes for the majority in the House and the Senate, preparing to swear in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. One of their major talking points this year has been the Republican majority’s “culture of corruption.”
In January on PBS, Jim Lehrer asked Sen. Reid why lobbying reform was moving so slowly. Reid replied, “Jim, it's taken a while for this culture of corruption the Republicans have developed to come into the fore.”Aspiring “Speaker Pelosi” just gave a speech at Georgetown University pledging to “drain the swamp” of GOP corruption on Capitol Hill. The Democratic National Committee even had a page on their website devoted to the “Republican Culture of Corruption.”
After more than 100 stories on ABC, CBS, and NBC on the Mark Foley Internet-messaging scandal, it wouldn’t be hard for the average Joe to conclude the Democrats are now the Party of Moral Values.
Democrats are demanding that Republicans return the monies Foley gave their campaigns. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader who would very much like Denny Hastert’s job, is predictably fanning the flames. “We want to know,” she thunders, “why the Republicans chose to protect Mark Foley's political career rather than protect the children who were in our charge.”
It is beyond easy – it is mandatory – to denounce Congressman Mark Foley for his sexually charged electronic mail and Internet messages to teenage males who worked as pages in the House of Representatives. He was right to resign. I hope he’s prosecuted.
It is also beyond easy to recognize how the Democrats have decided to make national political hay out of this ugly sex scandal – as far as we know, a sex talk scandal. On Monday morning, the network news shows were predicting excitedly that this could be a killer issue for Democrats.
“But this is more than just one man’s downfall,” insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. “It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections.” NBC’s story then carried angry soundbites from outraged Democrats.
“Any legislative leader that knew ahead of time and did nothing should resign,” thundered Rep. Sherrod Brown. Then came Sen. Dick Durbin pointing the accusatory finger at the GOP leaders: “The fact that they didn’t stop him, the fact that they didn’t bring in law enforcement -- I think they have to be held accountable.” Both ABC and CBS asked Tony Snow on Monday morning whether Republican House leaders should resign.
Stop. Since when have the Democrats ever insisted a politician be held accountable for a sex scandal involving a staffer, let alone the politician’s party leaders? Take Senator Durbin. Did he vote on any impeachment counts against President Clinton for perjury or obstruction of justice over Clinton’s sexual relations with intern Monica Lewinsky?
Did Democrats – the party of feminism, the party that hates sexual harassers – demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of putting Kathleen Willey’s hand on his crotch as she asked for a job? Or demand accountability when President Clinton was accused of dropping his pants in front of Paula Jones and asking that state employee to kiss his genitalia?
You know the answers. Let’s continue.
Did Democrats – who must have chortled at the 1996 GOP convention when NBC anchor Tom Brokaw suggested the Republicans don’t think much about “women’s issues” like rape – demand answers from President Clinton when Juanita Broaddrick tearfully recounted to NBC in 1999 how Bill Clinton raped and brutalized her in a Little Rock hotel in the late 1970s?
Go beyond Clinton to see the media-Democrat complex and its partisan standards on sex scandals. On August 25, 1989, The Washington Times revealed Rep. Barney Frank’s male-prostitution scandal. Frank’s lover, Stephen Gobie, ran an illicit gay sex ring out of Frank’s home and Frank fixed his local parking tickets. Did Frank resign? No. Was there a wave of media pressure on this lawmaker with law-breaking going on in his own home? No. He’s still in the House today.
The press was equally complicit in the politics of silence. The New York Times and the Washington Post did a few stories on inside pages in August, no national partisan disaster. The three networks left a vacuum of silence from August 26 until September 12, when CBS and NBC, but not ABC, mentioned the ethics committee decision in brief, almost meaningless anchor items. Not one ran a full story.
In 1994, news emerged that Democratic Rep. Mel Reynolds had a consensual sexual relationship with Beverly Heard beginning when she was 16. Heard said Reynolds gave her cash at each meeting and supplied her with his pager number and apartment keys. In taped phone conversations, they even plotted group sex with a 15-year-old Catholic high school girl Heard had said wanted to have sex with him. The infamous Reynolds reply: "Did I win the Lotto?" He asked Heard to take photos of the girl’s private parts. Reynolds was convicted of criminal sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography. The networks barely touched on this story as it broke in 1994, and ended with conviction in 1995, which is why, dear reader, I bet you don’t even remember it.
Did the Democrats believe in holding Reynolds accountable? Bill Clinton pardoned him as he left office in 2001. He then went to work as a consultant for Jesse Jackson.
Don’t forget 1983, when Republican Rep. Daniel Crane and Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds were censured by the House for sexual affairs with teenage pages (Studds with a male). Crane was defeated in 1984; Studds arrogantly continued in Congress another thirteen years. On July 14, 1983, when the House ethics committee recommended action, ABC’s Peter Jennings made sure the viewers at home knew Daniel Crane was a hypocrite, who vowed to stand up for the “God-fearing” people when Congress considered legalizing most sex acts in the District of Columbia. He had no embarrassing old quotes for Studds.
The hypocrisy here is as nauseating as the Foley e-mails.
Pundits are pondering Bill Clinton’s feverish attack on “Fox News Sunday,” laying into Chris Wallace for alleged oh-so-clever smirking and pounding the host’s leg with his pointy finger for emphasis.
No one asked if Clinton’s outburst hurt the publicity for his “Clinton Global Initiative.” (It didn’t help.) The first question was: staged outrage, or a spontaneous reaction? It’s quite a commentary on the Slick One that millions on both sides of the political fence would guess he plotted this tantrum in advance. Count me in on that number. I believe it was staged, a plan to please left-wingers who loathe Fox News with a passion and want them demonized as the communications center of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
There are moments where it becomes painfully apparent that the media elites think that the only thing redeeming about Western culture is its ability to regret its existence. Their dream president is a lip-biting man from Arkansas, traveling the globe apologizing for every historic fault, real or imagined, America has ever committed.
This was exactly their mentality with Pope Benedict XVI over his remarks at the University of Regensburg. One wonders if any of his critics had bothered to read his address, the theme of which was the inseparability of faith and reason. He quoted a Byzantine emperor – who argued that God could never countenance the coercive violence of radical Islam, and therefore a radical Islam invoking God is irrational. Lost on the outraged was the other argument posed by Benedict: A religion that embraces reason but not faith is also bankrupt. That message was directed at radical Catholics. His call was for a serious and urgent "genuine dialogue of cultures and religions" based on faith and reason.
It was stunning, and yet it was eerily reminiscent of the extraordinary discipline of Team Clinton. Days before the ABC miniseries "The Path to 9/11" was to air, they determined the network fudged in its commitment to follow faithfully the facts in the 9/11 Commission report. A scene or two in the otherwise remarkable presentation was false.
And this was the angle Team Clinton needed in order to pounce. The Clinton campaign kicked into high gear in the days before it aired, with the ex-president and his lawyering aides and Democrats in Congress all pressuring ABC to dump the film.
It’s important to understand that Team Clinton didn’t demand the film be edited for accuracy. They wanted everything -- including all the accurate criticisms and findings – thrown in the garbage. Clinton had his usual cleanup squad write letters to ABC chief Bob Iger demanding the $40 million movie be deep-sixed: "We expect that you will make the responsible decision to not air this film."
To mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attack on America, ABC Entertainment is presenting a six-hour miniseries titled "The Path to 9/11," a forceful, compelling docudrama chronicling the struggles faced by America's counter-terrorist experts between the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the fatal one in 2001. Unlike the tone of too much of our reporting on terrorism, where anyone who fights terrorism is depicted as either assembling naked Muslim pyramids if in Iraq, or listening to Grandma's phone calls if at home, this film treats the fight against terror as deadly business, and not just deadly business but a noble struggle for the survival of our nation.
Serious scholars of current events, not to mention some of those named in the film, may take issue with parts of this presentation. The movie is based on the report of the 9/11 Commission, which itself is not infallible in its conclusions on what went wrong and what needs to fixed. Moreover, up front the moviemakers note it has composite characters and manipulates the time of events for a better movie experience. As a "docudrama" it has taken certain poetic license with history.