"The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday sharply criticized the Bush administration’s increasingly combative stance toward Iran, saying that White House efforts to portray it as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion of 2003.
This week the New York Times took every opportunity to mislead on the nature of the terrorist-surveillance program, triggered by Wednesday's announcement by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) would have jurisdiction over the program that eavesdrops on international calls of people in the U.S. suspected of terrorist ties.
Jonathan Miles' biweekly column on specialty drinks unearths yet more proof of global warming -- his "hot toddy" arrived cold.
"By proposing to add polar bears to the list of 'threatened' species last month, the Bush administration seemed to finally acknowledge that global warming is taking a toll. With rising sea temperatures shrinking the polar ice cap, 'the polar bears’ habitat,' said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, 'may literally be melting,'' he argues in the Sunday Styles section.
"Closer to home and heart, I’d been worrying about another sort of species that -- at least this season -- seems terribly vulnerable to climate change: the hot toddy. "
The January 12 front-page story in the New York Times, "Duke Accuser Contradicts Herself," on the Duke lacrosse "rape" case, catches the case just as it's entering final meltdown phase.
NYT reporter Duff Wilson begins:
"In an interview last month with a district attorney’s investigator, the woman who has accused three Duke lacrosse players of sexual assault contradicted critical evidence and parts of her earlier accounts, dealing a new blow to a faltering case."
Bush stubbornly refuses to give up on the Iraq war, despite what New York Times reporters insists was the message delivered by the voters in November, and they're peeved at him. Congressional correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg reacts to Bush's Iraq speech last night outlining his plan for more troops in Iraq in her Thursday "news analysis," "Bush's Strategy for Iraq Risks Confrontations on Many Fronts."
"By stepping up the American military presence in Iraq, President Bush is not only inviting an epic clash with the Democrats who run Capitol Hill. He is ignoring the results of the November elections, rejecting the central thrust of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group and flouting the advice of some of his own generals, as well as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq."
The inevitable comparison to Vietnam comes up halfway in.
"Warsaw's new archbishop, Stanislaw W. Wielgus, caught in Eastern Europe's widening witch hunt for former Communist secret police informers, admitted Friday that he had collaborated with the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, or Security Service, known as the S.B."
Christopher Hedges, the former NY Times reporter infamously booed off a college commencement stage in the middle of an anti-war rant in May 2003 , has a new book out with the hauntingly ambivalent title, "American Fascists -- The Christian Right and the War on America."
Contributor Rick Perlstein reviews it in the Times' Sunday book section and finds it unconvincing (although Perlstein seems to share some of Hedges' paranoia regarding conservative Christians):
"Hedges was a longtime foreign correspondent, for The New York Times and other publications. But he writes on this subject as a neophyte, and pads out his dispatches with ungrounded theorizing, unconvincing speculation and examples that fall far short of bearing out his thesis."
That's as far as the review goes about Hedges' 15-year-history at the Times.
"In an article published on afriendly op-ed page, and from the regal confines of the White House, President Bush greeted the incoming Democratic leadership of Congress on Wednesday with a message of bipartisanship.
"TP couldn't help but pick up on the distinct strain of grudging admiration that ran through the NYT's coverage of Hussein's trip to the gallows. An early edition of the paper's lead story said that although the witnesses it interviewed were enemies of the dictator, 'their accounts of the execution were redolent of respect for the way in which their former tormentor died.' The final edition version of the story omits the prior passage but says the widely broadcast videotape of the event suggested that he 'lived his final moments with unflinching dignity and courage, reinforcing the legend of himself as the Arab world's strongman.' An accompanying front-page piece about the dictator's final moments relates that he 'looked strong, confident and calm." A fitting final performance, I suppose, for a master propagandist.'"
NY Times theatre reporter Jesse Green's "Not Everybody Loves Patricia" is about actress Patricia Heaton, former co-star of "Everyone Loves Raymond" who is currently appearing in an off-Broadway play. Heaton is also nearly unique in Hollywood for being an outspoken pro-lifer, which explains the slightly mean-spirited Times headline.
Today, New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse hands over nearly all his news hole for the newly empowered Democrats to whine about the GOP's supposedly corrupt years of control of Congress.
"Republican rule on Capitol Hill drew to an exhausted end just before dawn on Dec. 9 after lawmakers dispatched a pile of bills that few had read and even fewer had helped write. Democrats say the era of such chaotic and secretive legislating came to a close as well."
Hulse lets us know that a kinder, gentler group is taking over.
It's unanimous! Times Watch guest judges Stephen Spruiell, who runs National Review Online's Media Blog, and Times critic William McGowan, author of the upcoming book Gray Lady Down, both picked as his worst quote of the year one from New York Times PublisherArthur Sulzberger Jr. (The quote also earned Quote of the Year honors from Times Watch's parent organization, the Media Research Center.) Spruiell says it was the "sheer arrogance" of Sulzberger's speech that put the paper's publisher over the top.
The New York Times' "Immigrants' Families Figuring Out What to Do After Federal Raids" clearly sees illegal immigrants as sympathetic victims, putting the wet-eyed focus not on the criminal acts that resulted in the raids by immigration authorities, but how the raids have made immigrants afraid to venture out in public.
Julie Preston's Saturday story is set off with a four-day-old AP photo of a weeping mother who "held her 3-month-old son on Tuesday as her husband was held at a Swift meat plant in Greeley, Colo."
Mickey Kaus, the iconoclastic Democrat who loves picking on Democrats, points to this posting from Lt. Col. Bateman, which asks many pertinent and justified questions about a suspicious Associated Press story about six Sunnis burned to death and four mosques destroyed in the Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriya.
The AP doubled down on the story's veracity (though other press outlets, including Al Jazeera, have yet to confirm it) and insisted the story's main source, Iraqi police captain Jamil Hussein, does in fact exist.
"The Cost of an Overheated Planet" dominates the front page of the Tuesday Business section, accompanied by a cliched graphic of a Planet Earth with a giant thermometer stuck into it.
Reporter Steve Lohr is no less certain that global warming exists, as he celebrates the head of an energy company who favors federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions.
"The iconic culprit in global warming is the coal-fired power plant. It burns the dirtiest, most carbon-laden of fuels, and its smokestacks belch millions of tons of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas.
Saturday's New York Times obituary for Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Ronald Reagan's envoy to the United Nations, was written by Tim Weiner and draws on Weiner's background as the paper's liberal defense reporter during the 1990s.
Weiner takes a mostly positive look at Kirkpatrick's life and influence at the U.N., but can't resist inserting his own liberal foreign policy slant.
"At the United Nations, she defended Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983. She argued for El Salvador's right-wing junta and against Nicaragua’s left-wing ruling council, the Sandinistas."
"Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies" reads the headline to Jonathan Kandell's front-page obituary for the Chilean ruler in the New York Times Monday. A related editorial calls Pinochet "The Dextrous Dictator" (perhaps a play on words, as the Latin root of dextrous is dexter, meaning "on the right side," hardy har har).
Here's the lead of Kandell's obituary for Pinochet today:
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago."
Pro-Muslim New York Times reporter Neil MacFarquhar covers the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's attempt at a Muslim sitcom, "Little Mosque on the Prairie," and manages to get what he considers a sad example of life imitating art almost totally wrong.
"The handsome, clean-cut young man of evidently Pakistani or Indian origin is standing in an airport line, gesticulating emphatically as he says into his cellphone, 'If Dad thinks that’s suicide, so be it,' adding after a pause, 'This is Allah’s plan for me.'
"As might be expected, a cop materializes almost instantly and drags the man off, telling him that his appointment in paradise will have to wait, even though the suicide he is referring to is of the career kind; he’s giving up the law to pursue a more spiritual occupation.
In a story on the resignation of United Nations ambassador John Bolton, reporter Helene Cooper, for the second time in three weeks, suggests (mockingly?) that defeated Sen. Lincoln Chafee, one of John Bolton's chief Republican critics, is actually a possibility to succeed Bolton as ambassador to the U.N.
Stephen Spruiell of National Review Online caught it first when the story was posted to the Times website Monday, but the story was subsequently changed both online and in print, deleting the Chafee reference.
Zeleny quotes Dean: "'The other party made mistakes in the past claiming that elections are mandates. Elections are not mandates. The voters of this country loaned the Democrats the power of the country for two years. Now it’s our job to earn it back again.''
This morning, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller announced the paper will follow NBC's lead and allow its reporters to refer to the conflict in Iraq as a "civil war."
Keller said in a statement to Editor & Publisher:
"After consulting with our reporters in the field and the editors who directly oversee this coverage, we have agreed that Times correspondents may describe the conflict in Iraq as a civil war when they and their editors believe it is appropriate. It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war. We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect. The main shortcoming of 'civil war' is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in Iraq is, in addition to being a civil war, an occupation, a Baathist insurgency, a sectarian conflict, a front in a war against terrorists, a scene of criminal gangsterism and a cycle of vengeance. We believe 'civil war' should not become reductionist shorthand for a war that is colossally complicated."
New York Times reporter Robert McFadden covers the much-publicized shooting of three men by undercover cops after a bachelor party at a strip club in Queens for Sunday's edition.
"Hours before he was to be married, a man leaving his bachelor party at a strip club in Queens that was under police surveillance was shot and killed early yesterday in a hail of police bullets, witnesses and the police said. Two of his friends were wounded, one critically, they said.
"Many details of the shooting were not immediately clear, but relatives of the dead man, Sean Bell, 23, and community leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, demanded an investigation into what some called an overreaction by officers that killed a man on his wedding day. "
While the rest of the press played up liberal-minded comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and brought up old and unsubstantiated claims about Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, Sanger finds a different anti-Bush angle, one he’s used before – the president’s evidently disturbing lack of curiosity about the world.
After comparing Al Jazeera's core audience to that of Fox News, Alessandra Stanley's review of the Arab-language channel's American debut notes: "A promo for an upcoming program described American policy in Iraq as George Bush's 'alleged war on terror.'"
From Wednesday's lead Times editorial: "The nation's image is at stake, as well as the safety of every man and woman who is fighting Mr. Bush's so-called war on terror."
Looking for an election-season boost, the Times opened up its exclusive Times Select product to non-paying proles last week, sending editor-columnist Frank Rich's "2006: The Year of the 'Macaca,'" to the #1 most e-mailed story of the week (the free window is now closed, so you have to pay for Rich's deep thoughts on why Bush-style conservatism lost this year).
"This was callous conservatism, if not just plain mean.
"It’s the kind of conservatism that remains silent when Rush Limbaugh does a mocking impersonation of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's symptoms to score partisan points. It’s the kind of conservatism that talks of humane immigration reform but looks the other way when candidates demonize foreigners as predatory animals. It's the kind of conservatism that pays lip service to 'tolerance' but stalls for days before taking down a campaign ad caricaturing an African-American candidate as a sexual magnet for white women.
But MacFarquhar, who went to elementary school in Libya and was once the Times' bureau chief in Cairo, disposes of the controversy in two sentences and frames it as Ellison being "attacked on religious grounds."
New York Times political reporter Mark Leibovich certainly doesn't hold back the snark in Thursday's ostensibly playful look at Bush's White House press conference following Republican losses on Election Day.
"It was one of those once-a-decade days in Washington where news, rumor and recrimination crackled in every direction. But the wounded duck at the center of it all, President Bush, offered by far the day’s most mesmerizing spectacle.
Like Chris Matthews last night, The Times seems to be bitter about not having everything go the Democrats' way last night, putting its usual racism spin on one of the GOP's few bright spots -- Bob Corker's win over Harold Ford Jr. in the race for Senate in Tennessee.
"Tennessee's open Senate seat stayed in Republican hands on Tuesday night after a campaign that drew national attention for its nastiness and for Democratic hopes that it would break a longstanding race barrier."
Nossiter blames racism in Tennessee:
"In addition, Mr. Ford was trying to become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.
"For a combination of reasons -- increasingly bullish prognostications by independent handicappers, galloping optimism by Democratic leaders and bloggers, and polls that promise a Democratic blowout -- expectations for the party have soared into the stratosphere. Democrats are widely expected to take the House, and by a significant margin, and perhaps the Senate as well, while capturing a majority of governorships and legislatures.