Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes still has her liberal blinders on, judging by the letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review yesterday. Responding to an unfavorable review of her book by Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, Mapes nevertheless credits Alter for being right about the anti-CBS jihad from "the right."
"A thousand times, yes! The bogus questions about typeface used to 'discredit' CBS's Bush/Guard story were a fraud, as Jonathan Alter wrote in reviewing my book, 'Truth and Duty' (Nov. 20). He's also right that the so-called independent panel was a legalistic/ corporate inquisition against the news division I love. I guarantee you that, given the chance, Dick Thornburgh, his firm's lawyers and Lou Boccardi would find even Alter's work sadly lacking. Despite the millions that CBS paid, the panel got a lot wrong and still won't answer for it, just as the president has never explained his aborted military service. CBS panicked over the blog attack and strained to appease the right, whose tactics against us were the same as with Wilson, Plame, Clarke and other administration 'critics.'
Travel caused me to miss Friday's big lead scoop in the New York Times on domestic spying by the National Security Agency ("Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts"), but the rest of the blogosphere took the story on from multiple angles, questioning the pieces timing, agenda, even its newsworthiness.
The Times article no doubt had the effect the paper intended, throwing the White House on the defensive and causing the renewal of the Patriot Act to be thwarted, a long-time goal of the Times editorial page.
But is this sort of terrorist surveillance truly a new and troubling thing? The government's Echelon spy program was reported on during the Clinton administration, in a 2000 report on CBS's "60 Minutes." In words that ring familiar, host Steve Kroft intoned:
Continuing a mini-trend at the New York Times of downplaying Holocaust denial among Middle East leaders, Thursday morning brings this headline to a Page 5 story regarding the latest anti-Semitic rantings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Iran's President Clarifies His Stand on Holocaust: It's a European Myth" The Iranian leader called the Holocaust a "myth" used by Europeans to create a Jewish state.
In contrast, the Washington Post gives the outburst much stronger play, with a story from one of its own foreign service reporters, not just using AP copy as the Times does. The Post also places the story on the front page, accompanied by a solid headline: "Iran's President Calls Holocaust 'Myth' in Latest Assault on Jews."
The New York Times finally checks out the Democrat-Jack Abramoff connection -- briefly, anyway.
Philip Shenon's "Democrat Returning Donations From Abramoff's Tribal Clients" reports that Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is "returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients."
But although there is an obviously juicy hypocrisy angle to this story (Dorgan has been an outspoken critic of Abramoff), Shenon's story is relegated to a short piece at the bottom of page 24 in Wednesday's edition.
"The ranking Democrat on the Senate committee investigating the Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff announced on Tuesday that he was returning $67,000 in political contributions from Mr. Abramoff's former partners and Indian tribe clients. The lawmaker, Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, has been accused of hypocrisy by Republicans for having not acknowledged the contributions from Mr. Abramoff's clients while at the same time sharply criticizing him in hearings of the Senate panel, the Indian Affairs Committee."
Colunmnist Charles Krauthammer's Weekly Standard essay on the moral defensibility of torture in fighting terror has raised eyebrows, and the New York Times tries to gin up more controversy in a feature on Krauthammer for the Sunday Week in Review.
The story by Anne Kornblut, "He Says Yes to Legalized Torture," includes the text box: "In a controversial article, Charles Krauthammer says that at times, coercion is morally necessary." A sidebar excerpts passages of Krauthammer's article in "the conservative Weekly Standard" interspersed with rebuttals by blogger/author Andrew Sullivan, whom the paper identifies as "also a conservative, who replied in the most recent issue of The New Republic, where he is a senior editor."
For some reason, New York Times science reporter Andrew Revkin, in Montreal to cover a climate change conference, instead gives prominent coverage to an ongoing rave of young leftwing environmental activists.
Friday's "Youths Make Spirited Case at Climate Meeting" gives a shout-out to the lefties:
"But a stream of participants hiked through the frigid night to a corner building on the far side of Chinatown that pulsed with light and thudding music. Inside, a local nonprofit group called Apathy Is Boring was giving a party. There was no apathy in attendance -- just 300 people, most in their 20's, who had come from as far away as Australia and Los Angeles to pester the 'fossils' -- the legions of gray-suited negotiators who, these young people said, were hijacking their future."
The New York Times just can't forgive Mel Gibson for making "Passion of the Christ." Editor-columnist Frank Rich assailed it, most amusingly when he predicted it would be "a flop in America" and rather appallingly when he called it "a joy ride for sadomasochists" and accused Gibson of anti-Semitism.
Wednesday's paper dredges up the anti-Semitic charge in a front-page business-section story by David Halbfinger promoted on the "Inside Box" on the front page with this heavy language:
"Mel Gibson, whose 'Passion of the Christ' was assailed by some critics as an anti-Semitic passion play -- and whose father has been on record as a Holocaust denier -- has a new project under way: a nonfiction mini-series for television about the Holocaust."
David Cloud reports on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's talk at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in "Rumsfeld Says the Media Focus Too Much on Negatives in Iraq," but devotes most of his small Tuesday story to anti-administration side issues and rebutting unrelated statements by Rumsfeld.
"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that news media organizations were focusing too much on casualties and mistakes by the military in Iraq and were failing to provide a full picture of the progress toward stabilizing the country. 'We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact,' he said in a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies."
Saturday's New York Times story from Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Democrats Sense Chance In Ohio for '06 Elections -- Weakened Republicans Still Hold Edge," is the latest in what amounts to an "occasional series" of Times' stories encouraging Democrats in Ohio.
Congressional reporter Stolberg is even more excited about Democratic prospects in Ohio than James Dao (of Marine letter infamy) was during Paul Hackett's unsuccessful run for an open House seat. And before the 2004 election, Dao noted: "The disarray is so great, Democrats contend, that it could hurt President Bush's ability to win Ohio, a pivotal state for the Republicans."
The New York Times claims "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press" as it continues to play catch-up to the Los Angeles Times, which had the dubious honor of breaking the story of the Pentagon-led PR-journalism campaign in support of the U.S. effort in Iraq.
On Friday, NYT reportrs Eric Schmitt and David Cloud file "Senate Summons Pentagon To Explain Effort to Plant Reports in Iraqi News Media." The text box: "An American-backed program appears to defy the basic tenets of freedom of the press."
Yesterday afternoon the Washington Post filed to its website a quick take on Bush's speech to the Naval Academy on Iraq, including the president's emotional quotation from a letter found on the laptop of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, six months to the day after his death in a firefight in Ramadi.
"Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to 'take up their mantle, carry on the fight and complete their mission.'"
By contrast, the Times online story from Christine Hauser made no mention of Starr's letter. Perhaps one reason why: As Michelle Malkin first learned, The New York Times quoted Starr's letter in a story last month, but managed to miss the point, leaving off the very part Starr's family and President Bush found significant.
Perhaps the media's most cherished holiday tradition is the middle-class poverty story, which alleges that hunger and homelessness are now stalking the previously impervious middle class, stories often based on dubious numbers from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Now, clear a place: Heating bills are joining hunger and homelessness at the liberal groaning board.
The Times discovers middle-class needy in Stony Brook, N.Y., in Sunday's Metro section story by Paul Vitello ("Middle Class Gets in Line for Help With Rising Heating Bills").
"The main government assistance office in Suffolk County sits just off a busy road in an office park surrounded by a neighborhood of deep lawns and two-car garages. Everyone for miles around uses that road every day. But until recently, hardly anyone from the neighborhood -- people whose status in the middle class was thought secured unquestionably by homeownership -- ever turned into the office park to seek help inside the county's nondescript building. This year, they have come in from the fear of the cold. They are retirees, young couples, the temporarily unemployed, the two-income families stretched to the limit of second mortgages and credit cards, a slice of the suburban demographic that social workers call 'mortgage rich and pocket poor.'"
A Monday New York Times editorial, "Public Broadcasting's Enemy Within," goes way over the top in its rhetorical assault on Kenneth Tomlinson, the former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman who had the audacity to attempt to bring some political balance to PBS, which has long used tax money to fund liberal programming:
"As chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson proved to be a disastrous zealot. Internal investigators found he repeatedly broke federal law and ethics rules in overreaching his authority and packing the payroll with Republican ideologues."
In the New York Times Sunday book review, Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter checks out "Truth and Duty," the apologia from Mary Mapes, the disgraced former CBS News producer of "Memogate" infamy, in which she blames right-wing bloggers and everyone but herself for how her "expose" of Bush's National Guard duty blew up in the face of her network.
The liberal Alter is highly critical of Mapes and CBS, but makes a rather paranoid and over-the-top claim about "Buckhead," the Atlanta attorney who originally questioned the fake documents used by CBS's "60 Minutes II" to attack President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record.
"Buckhead"'s posting on the right-wing FreeRepublic website began the blogosphere's speedy evisceration of the forged memos, but Alter has this novel spin: "The blogger's anonymous assertion, within hours of the broadcast, that the proportional spacing and type font of the Killian memos did not exist in those days was only one of many falsehoods spread by political hit men."
Battling chilly temps and uncooperative winds, a Ukrainian group assembled outside New York Times headquarters in Manhattan Friday to protest the 1932 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Times reporter Walter Duranty for his pro-Stalin coverage of Russia.
The Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 (Ukrainians call it the Holodomor) was engineered by Russian dictator Josef Stalin -- and whitewashed from Duranty's reporting for the Times. Duranty, who covered the country for the Times from 1922 to 1941, ignored Stalin's atrocities, including the famine that killed seven to ten million Ukrainians.
Duranty, who is "credited" for coining the phrase (referring to Stalin’s purges) "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs," said of the famine accusations, which were reported at the time by left-wing journalists like Malcolm Muggeridge: "Any report of a famine in Russia today is an exaggeration or malignant propaganda."
Rep. John Murtha's anti-war pessimism leads Friday's New York Times, but criticizing the war isn't new for the "conservative" congressman.
"Fast Withdrawal Of G.I.'s Is Urged By Key Democrat" is the headline to Eric Schmitt's story:
"The partisan furor over the Iraq war ratcheted up sharply on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as an influential House Democrat on military matters called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops and Republicans escalated their attacks against the Bush administration's critics....'Our military has done everything that has been asked of them. It is time to bring them home,' Mr. Murtha said, at times choking back tears. Mr. Murtha's proposal, which goes well beyond the phased withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq that other moderate Democrats have proposed, stunned many Republicans who quickly held their own news conference to criticize the plan."
The White House is counterattacking anti-war critics charging that "Bush lied" us into Iraq, and Elisabeth Bumiller files a short piece showing the vice president has joined in ("Cheney Says Senate War Critics Make 'Reprehensible Charges'"). Cheney was speaking to a Frontiers of Freedom gathering in Washington when he said those accusing Bush of manipulating war intelligence were making "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."
The updated, online version of Bumiller's article claims:
"In his speech, Mr. Cheney echoed the argument of Mr. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in the past week that Democrats had access to the same prewar intelligence that the White House did, and that they came to the same conclusion that Mr. Hussein was a threat. The administration, however, had access to far more extensive intelligence than Congress did. The administration also left unaddressed the question of how it had used that intelligence, which was full of caveats, subtleties and contradictions. Many Democrats now say they believe they had been misled by the administration in the way it presented the prewar intelligence."
A New York Sun editorial (subscription may be required) notes the New York Times and a couple of (surprise) Democratic liberal senators are "in a lather over Kenneth Tomlinson's just-ended chairmanship at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. They're particularly incensed over a report released yesterday by CPB's inspector general, for which [Democratic Senators] Dingell and Obey pressed, that suggests Mr. Tomlinson 'broke the law' in the course of pursuing his attempt to restore some balance to public broadcasting."
Indeed, the Times' report today is written by Stephen Labaton, who has previously filed many pro-PBS stories on Tomlinson's quest to bring political balance to public broadcasting, some of them relaying bad information, and none admitting the obvious liberal slant of PBS programming (Labaton wouldn't even call PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers a liberal, though he readily labeled the Wall Street Journal editorial page "conservative.")
The Sun goes on to make a broader point -- why, in this golden age of media diversity, is the government still in the journalism biz?
Earlier today, TimesWatch made a run (with help from bloggers EU Rota and Cori Dauber) at a tendentious New York Times editorial claiming Bush "misled Americans" about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and terrorist connections. Now the White House itself has gotten in on the act, dissecting Tuesday's lead editorial, "Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials," piece by piece.
To the paper's charge that foreign intelligence services did not suupport U.S. intelligence, the White House rebuts:
"But Even Foreign Governments That Opposed The Removal Of Saddam Hussein Judged That Iraq Had Weapons Of Mass Destruction."
News Flash: Scandal-plagued left-wing radio network pitches the New York Times and obtains hoped-for "good press."
Radio host Brian Maloney, who broke many of the stories this summer on the financial scandal at Air America, wonders "was Sunday's upbeat New York Times piece on Air America hosts Rachel Maddow and Randi Rhodes at least partly the result of a 'pitch' by the liberal radio network's public relations department?....After receiving a document-backed inside tip, the Radio Equalizer is investigating whether Air America's Jaime Horn convinced New York Times reporter Susan Brenna to write a self-serving piece on Air America's female hosts."
Maloney obtained an email allegedly from Horn to some fellow Air America Radio staffers, subject line: "Good press is on the way...I hope!" Horn certainly wasn't wrong about that, as the paper lauded the "rising stars" of Maddow and Rhodes.
For more bias from the New York Times, visit TimesWatch.
As financial scandal was breaking at the left-wing radio network Air America (in the blogosphere at least) this summer, the Times could spare just one weak Metro-section story on the network "borrowing" $875,000 from a Bronx Boys and Girls Club, despite the easily exploitable hypocrisy angle (liberals taking money from poor kids!).
Times Public Editor Barney Calame even made the unusual step (online, anyway) of actually chiding his paper for being slow on the uptake.
Well, at last the Times has another Air America story -- but it's a puff piece on the network's female "rising star" hosts Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow.
Susan Brenna's story for Sunday's Arts & Leisure is headlined: "They Look Nothing Like Rush Limbaugh -- As women and lefties, Air America's rising stars are rarities in talk radio. But perhaps not for long."
The Times' top book critic again denies that there's liberal bias in the media.
This morning, Michiko Kakutani hails the anti-Bush book "Attack the Messenger" by Craig Crawford, a columnist for Congressional Quarterly, under the headline "Bushes' War Against Media."
Notice the plural "Bushes." Apparently, only Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. went to war on the media, not Bill Clinton. Then again, given that 89% of the White House press corps voted for Clinton in 1992, perhaps didn't have as much reason to attack the press.
Do the votes in New Jersey and Virginia signal a "Republican unraveling," as the Times suggests, or is the paper just promoting wishful Democratic thinking?
Thursday's "House Shelves Plans for Alaska Drilling" by Carl Hulse is ostensibly about the issue raised in the headline, but much of it harps on the Republican losses in Tuesday's elections (even though the party didn't actually lose any seats). The text box argues: "A concession adds sting to Republican election losses."
Actually, if current returns hold up, Republicans actually made gains in the two contested states by unseating Virginia's Democratic Lt. Governor and narrowly retaining the Attorney General slot.
New Jersey and Virginia's tradition of odd-year elections for governor give the media ample fodder for speculation on how Democrats and Republicans will perform in future congressional and presidential elections. But for the New York Times, the Democratic successes of 2005 seem to have far more significance than did the Republican successes of 1993 and 1997.
In 1997, New Jersey's Republican governor Christine Whitman won a close race for re-election, while Republican James Gilmore won in Virginia. The Republican successes in Bill Clinton's second term, when he wasn't up for reelection, were downplayed by the Times two days afterward in a headline: "With Big Issues Absent, The Little Things Count." Reporter Richard Berke didn't see any political significance at all: "Forget the post-mortems about ideological shifts, Republican revivals or which candidate had the most money. The legacy of the off, off-year elections on Tuesday may simply be this: Think small."
When it comes to conveying the gritty facts of the Paris rioting, the burning cars and shattered shop windows, the mainstream media have typically downplayed the rioters' identity as Muslims. But when it's time to suggest liberal solutions, Muslims are singled out prominently as victims of French racial discrimination, lack of assimilation, and lack of jobs (yet the media are strangely muted about the high taxes and burdensome regulations that keep unemployment in France so high).
One tic particular to the Times is putting the onus for the rioting on France's interior minister and anti-crime advocate, Nicholas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy, who is angling to replace French President Jacques Chirac, got in trouble with Chirac (and the Times) for classifying the rioting thugs as, uh, "thugs."
Some follow-up on the story of Cpl. Jeffrey Starr, a Marine killed in Iraq on Memorial Day, whose last letter home the New York Times excerpted in an October 26 story marking the 2000th fatality in Iraq.
Sunday's New York Post has the reaction of Starr's girlfriend to the paper's dishonestly selective quotation of his last letter to her: "The reason I chose to share that letter was the paragraph about why he was doing this, not the part about him expecting to die. It hurt, it really hurt,"
As summarized by TimesWatch and others last week, reporter James Dao's story printed a portion of the letter that fit into the paper's agenda of emphasizing the "grim mark" of the 2000th death, thus reducing Starr to a man just waiting to die: "Sifting through Cpl. Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the Marine's girlfriend. 'I kind of predicted this,' Cpl. Starr wrote of his own death. 'A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.'"
But here's the full context of that quote, as Michelle Malkin first revealed, showing how Starr felt about his death in the context of the fight for freedom in Iraq (portion left out by the NYT in bold):
"Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."
NYT Political Reporter Todd Purdum ignores Joe Wilson's whoppers and repeats his paper's pre-election conspiracy-mongering in a hodge-podge of a piece for the Sunday Week in Review. "The Message Mongers Rule Us, but Time Rules Them" is (mostly) about handing scandal and brings up the obligatory Libby-Wilson imbroglio, then segues not so smoothly into the paper's pre-electionconspiracy-mongering:
"The message-control impulse is as strong today as it ever was, though it can take different forms. Few may know whether the Bush administration's decision to elevate the terror alert level for financial institutions in New York and Washington the weekend after the 2004 Democratic National Convention was pure coincidence, political plot or some mixture of the two. At best, it turned out to be based on intelligence that was not particularly fresh, and it prompted more than a little skepticism."
Outcry continues over the Times' omission of quotes from the last letter of Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Starr. As recounted yesterday on TimesWatch, a Times story by James Dao last week marking the death of 2,000 U.S troops in Iraq printed one part of a letter from Cpl. Starr, to be delivered to his girlfriend in case of Starr's death. That portion of the letter showed the Marine foreseeing his own death.
But as Michelle Malkin first revealed, after receiving a letter from Cpl. Starr's uncle, the Times left out the very next part, which explained what Starr considered the greater meaning of his sacrifice in Iraq. In doing so, the Times left readers with a diminished, one-dimensional portrait of a doomed Marine, instead of one who saw his sacrifice in the context of something greater and worthwhile.
A bit of a stunner from this morning's Washington Times: "Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions and chastised his party for its intolerance of candidates and nominees who oppose abortion. 'I never have felt that any abortion should be committed -- I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors,' he told reporters over breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, while across town Senate Democrats deliberated whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he may share President Bush and Mr. Carter's abhorrence of abortion. 'These things impact other issues on which [Mr. Bush] and I basically agree,' the Georgia Democrat said. 'I've never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.'"
It will be curious to see if the CBS Evening News, which on September 21 relayed a post-Katrina criticism from Carter of Bush for stripping FEMA of its independence, finds the ex-president's provocative comments on the "hot-button" issues of abortion and religion equally newsworthy.
Columnist Michelle Malkin hits New York Times reporter James Dao for leaving off a vital part of a quote of a Marine killed in Iraq, a portion that showed how committed the Marine was to the cause of freedom there.
As Malkin describes in a column in the New York Post:
"Last Wednesday, the Times published a 4,624-word opus on American casualties of war in Iraq. '2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, a Grim Mark,' read the headline. The macabre, Vietnam-evoking piece appeared prominently on page A2. Among those profiled were Marines from the First Battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment, including Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr."