"The asymmetry in the reported death tolls is marked and growing: some 230 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians, to 25 Israeli dead, 13 of them civilians. In Gaza, one Israel soldier has died from his own army’s fire, and 103 Palestinians have been killed, 70 percent of them militants.
The Shiite anti-Israeli terror group Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel on July 12, killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Israel is responding with force, unleashing targeted air strikes against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon in an effort to get the kidnapped soldiers back.
The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual -- the prospect of wide-scale war appears to have clarified somewhat the paper's often-wishful thinking about the true aims of Israel’s foes.
One major annoying tic that remains is the paper's use of the term "captured" to describe kidnapped Israeli soldiers, when it comes to covering the June kidnapping by Hamas of Gilad Shalit at an Israeli Defense Forces outpost, and the two kidnapped soldiers resulting from the incursion by Hezbollah. "Captured" is a phrase used by anti-Israeli leftists like ANSWER and implies these soldiers were prisoners of war captured on the field of battle, not abducted over a border by a terrorist group.
The Senate prepares to take up a bill to allow federal financing of research on stem cell lines that are derived from embryos now in cold storage at fertility clinics and slated for destruction. And New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg lies in wait, ready to pounce on the vote as yet another imminent Republican crackup, in Sunday’s “Senate Appears Poised for a Showdown With the President Over Stem Cell Research.”
“The president’s mind has not changed; his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, reiterated the veto threat this week. That keeps Mr. Bush in good stead with the religious conservatives who make up an important part of his base, but at odds with other leading Republicans, including Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, who is a heart-lung surgeon and has pushed to bring the measure to a vote.”
"It is a liberal editorial page and a liberal editorial board that reflects core values the paper has had for a long time. But I would challenge anyone, if you look at our news reports on those big issues of the day -- tax policy, foreign affairs -- to say it is a liberal newspaper. It is objectivity they strive hard to do." -- New York Times Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins, in an interview with Joe Strupp of Editor & Publisher, July 14.
A Friday editorial, "Chained to the Ballot," applauds a U.S. District judge for keeping former House majority leader Tom DeLay on the ballot for the upcoming congressional election, calling DeLay’s failed attempt (he will appeal the ruling) a "gambit" and "final power play," as well as "bait-and-switch politicking."
"The former House majority leader Tom DeLay, master practitioner of tooth-and-claw politics, finds himself in a predicament. He’s been cast adrift somewhere between Texas and Virginia after a court struck down his parting Congressional gambit.
Man, does Rep. James Sensenbrenner rub the Times the wrong way. While the conservative Congressman does(lifetime ACU rating 88 out of a possible 100) have a prickly reputation, but so do liberal Democrats like Rep. Pete Stark. Yet Stark and others don’t have their personality traits analyzed on the front page.
Mark Leibovich, who specializes in politician profiles, did a number Tuesday on Sensenbrenner ("'Pit Bull' of the House Latches On to Immigration,") for Tuesday's front page. Sensenbrenner is an easy target of liberal journalists for leading the fight against Bush’s amnesty plan for illegal immigrants. One can hardly imagine the Times being so disrespectful to a Democratic politician embracing a liberal cause.
By 6:00 o’clock on Monday evening, an entertainingly motley crew of a hundred or so protestors had gathered across the street from New York Times headquarters at W. 43rd street in midtown Manhattan to protest the New York Times’ revelations of a secret, and successful, anti-terror program involving international bank transactions.
The stated goal of protest cosponsors Caucus for America/conservative message board Free Republic, according to a flier: "To show the New York Times that America has had enough of their irresponsible reporting of classified information that damages our country and helps our enemies!"
Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America did most of the talking (and chant-leading), stepping aside from time to time for others to speak. At one point he was joined on the cab of the Caucus truck by a Bin Laden impersonator cradling his precious copy of the Times.
"Authorities overseas have arrested one man and have taken two others into custody on suspicion of planning suicide bombings in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, officials said yesterday.
Today's New York Times leads off with a local story with national ramifications, a 4-2 defeat of gay marriage in the Court of Appeals of New York, the state's highest court.
Anemona Hartocollis reports:
"New York's highest court rejected yesterday a broad attempt by gay and lesbian couples across the state to win the right to marry under state law, saying that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not violate the State Constitution.
"By a 4-2 majority, the Court of Appeals found that the State Legislature, in laws dating back nearly 100 years, intended to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and that the Legislature had a rational basis for doing so."
Thanks to Cori Dauber at Ranting Profs , we know that Times intelligence reporter Eric Lichtblau, notorious for co-writing the article revealing the terrorist surveillance program of international banking transactions known as SWIFT, wrote an article last November critical of the administration for -- get this -- lacking a strategy to cut off terrorist funding.From November 29, 2005 (Times Select or $ required): “U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Terror Funds, Agency Says.” An excerpt:
The Times backpedals a bit from its irresponsible story revealing a successful terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transactions. After playing it up as a lead story June 23, nine days later it's shrugged off as common knowledge by the very reported who trumpeted it on the front page.
Based on CNN's rush transcript, here's reporter Eric Lichtblau on CNN’s Reliable Sources from Sunday defending his bank spy scoop (emphasis added):
"I'm not claiming I know the mind of every terrorist, but I am claiming to know exactly what President Bush and his senior aides have said. And when you have senior Treasury Department officials going before Congress, publicly talking about how they are tracing and cutting off money to terrorists, weeks and weeks before our story ran. 'USA Today,' the biggest circulation in the country, the lead story on their front page four days before our story ran was the terrorists know their money is being traced, and they are moving it into -- outside of the banking system into unconventional means. It is by no means a secret."
After appearing on CNN last week and granting an interview with Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz (who naively pondered the ferocity of what he considered the unwarranted conservative assault on the New York Times), Times Executive Editor Bill Keller again goes to a sympathetic outlet, CBS’s Face the Nation hosted by liberal host Bob Schieffer. Keller again defended his paper by throwing dark hints of a conservative anti-Times conspiracy.
The On Point radio show on WBUR public radio in Boston (no liberal leaning there!) featured host Anthony Brooks and several panelists chewing over the NYT's bank spy story, including reporter Eric Lichtblau, the reporter responsible (or should we say irresponsible) for coauthoring the piece.
Joining Brooks by phone, Lichtblau offered this lame defense in response to a question from fellow guest Heather Mac Donald, who wrote critically about the Times' report for the Weekly Standard: “The idea that we’re alerting terrorist to the idea that their finances may be tracked I think is misguided. I think they’ve been alerted to that for the last four-and-a-half years by President Bush and by numerous aides, including former Treasury Secretary Snow and others. That drumbeat has been constant from the administration, and it’s such a poorly kept secret, if you can call it even that.”
Give reporter Scott Shane credit for citing criticism of the Times by Andrew McCarthy of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (and a contributor to National Review Online).
But Shane cites a Bush statement from September 24, 2001 to suggest the president is protesting too much about what he considers the Times’ “disgraceful” behavior. Shane’s thrust seems to be that, since Bush said in very general terms that his administration was tracking terrorist funding, he can’t really complain when the Times prints classified details of specific programs on the front page.
Perhaps sensing that editor Bill Keller’s arrogant open letter didn't do the job, today’s masthead editorial in the New York Times makes another defense of the paper’s latest terrorist-program wrecking scoop, mostly by accusing conservatives of attacking the paper’s patriotism.
The defensive “Patriotism and the Press” begins:
“Over the last year, The New York Times has twice published reports about secret antiterrorism programs being run by the Bush administration. Both times, critics have claimed that the paper was being unpatriotic or even aiding the terrorists.”
The New York Times’ irresponsible banking spy scoop is looking more and more like it will backfire on the paper, causing both a public relation nightmare and raising plausible legal concerns for both the leakers and the journalists they leaked to, as conservatives debate consequences for the paper's behavior.
Four days after it appeared on Friday's front page, the banking spy scoop is still roiling on Fox News and in the blogosphere. Taking the Web's temperature finds the right side enraged, engaged, and red hot, while it’s rather quiet on the left-wing front, indicating that just maybe the Times may have gone too far to rely on its usual allies to rise up in defense.
President (make that Times editor) Bill Keller must be feeling the heat about his paper’s irresponsible banking spy scoop from Friday. Sunday afternoon he took the trouble to publish an open letter to readers (online only) justifying his executive decision to expose the details of yet another classified terrorist surveillance program, this one involving the surveillance of bank records of a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT.
The same team that handled the NSA “domestic spying” scoop has Friday’s lead story on another classified surveillance program, this one involving international bank transfers (“Bank Data Sifted In Secret By U.S. To Block Terror”), which may well sabotage the usefulness of the program.
This week’s edition of Newsweek carries a devastating story suggesting the case is falling apart against three members of the Duke lacrosse team accused of rape. The phrase bannered across the cover: “Duke: Should The Case Be Dropped?” The story’s subhead: “The prosecutor insists his rape case is strong. One big problem: the facts thus far.”
So, what does Times sports columnist Harvey Araton have to say about this turn of events? After all, Araton went after the Duke lacrosse team in two previous columns, even attacking the university’s women’s lacrosse team for daring to defend their athletic colleagues.
The always modest, always charming Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, has a new autobiography out, “The One that Got Away,” a sequel to his 1993 memoir “Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.”
Dipping into his latest book on his love of fly fishing, we find that Raines is still rising to the conservative-bashing bait.
On page 189, he lets fly with thoughts about liberal bugbear Fox News:
“Fox, by its mere existence, undercuts the argument that the public is starved for ‘fair’ news, and not just because Fox shills for the Republican Party and panders to the latest of America’s periodic religious manias. The key to understanding Fox News is to grasp the anomalous fact that its consumers know its ‘news’ is made up. It matters not when critics point this out to Foxite consumers because they’ve understood it from the outset. That’s why they’re there. Its chief fictioneer, Roger Ailes, had been making up news in plain sight for a half century.”
TV critic Alessandra Stanley goes after host Jay Leno for not laying a glove on his Wednesday night guest Ann Coulter in Friday’s Arts review, “A Battle of Wits, And No Clear Win.”
It’s clear who the liberal Stanley is rooting for in this clash of TV talker vs. best-selling conservative titan, chastening both Leno and David Letterman for failing to verbally spank Coulter: “As his tut-tutting chat with the mean girl of the moment showed, Jay Leno is a terrible interviewer….Mr. Leno, who will be replaced by Conan O'Brien in 2009, can afford to slack off, but it is [rival TV talker David] Letterman who seems to be taking too many of his shows pass/fail. And it's a shame, because the host of CBS's ‘Late Show’ is the comedian intellectually and temperamentally most suited to taking on the conservative enfant terrible and giving her a much-deserved public swat.”
NY Times editorial writer Adam Cohen was on the Las Vegas junket attending the left-wing blog gathering of DailyKos fans in Las Vegas (“The Yearly Kos”), along with political reporter Adam Nagourney and columnist Maureen Dowd. Cohen plugs it in a starry-eyed editorial today, “Could a 15-Year-Old With a Laptop Be the New Campaign Media Guru?”
(The guru in question is one Ava Lowery from Alabama.)
Great moments in political prognostication, from the May 8 edition of MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
David Shuster: "Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why.
"First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation, or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple -- a week and a half ago, unless you feel that`s your only chance of avoiding indictment. So, in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges."
Media reporter turned columnist David Carr quotes the now-notorious comment out of Ann Coulter’s new book regarding the media-lionized “Jersey Girls” who lambasted Bush for failing to stop 9-11, then huffs in his Monday column:
"That typical Coulter sortie was hardly a misstep on some overamped talk show. That doozy of a sentence was written, edited, lawyered and then published.”
The NY Times’ Carl Hulse says goodbye and good riddance to Rep. Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader resigning his seat in Congress today, with “Defiant to the End, Delay Pats Himself on the Back and Bids the House a Torrid Goodbye.”
“Representative Tom DeLay personifies the word ‘unapologetic.’
Reporter Dexter Filkins has an exceedingly strange take on the death by air strike of terrorist leader Zarqawi, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis: “By finally eliminating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the American military and its Iraqi allies have killed the man who put a face on the Iraqi insurgency. The question now looming over Mr. Zarqawi's death is how large a blow it deals to the guerrilla movement he helped drive to such bloody limits.
Republican Brian Bilbray won the special election in California's 50th Congressional District to replace Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, beating Democrat Francine Busby by four points. Yet just as he did in yesterday’s online filing, chief political reporter Adam Nagourney’s off-lead story on Thursday’s front page hails the result as a victory…for the Democrats.
A wacky group of conspiracy theorists who think 9/11 was an inside job on the part of the Bush administration met in Chicago over the weekend, and got a respectful hearing from Times Metro reporter Alan Feuer.
“500 Conspiracy Buffs Meet To Seek the Truth of 9/11” made Page 1 of the Metro section, and that very headline gives the conspiracy-mongers the undeserved accolade of truth-seekers when they’re actually just crawling for scraps of evidence “proving” that Bush, not radical Islamic terrorism, was responsible for 9/11.