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.
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.