Perhaps not the biggest news of the day -- unless you really, really hate Bill O'Reilly -- but it's always worth noting on NewsBusters when Al Franken is proven wrong (hat tip: Robert Cox).
Newsday reports on Franken's book-tour visit to Long Island: "Sure, he has a book to sell and a radio show to promote, but Al Franken had more urgent reasons to bring his live broadcast to the Book Revue in Huntington Friday.Namely: investigating where on Long Island arch-nemesis Bill O'Reilly grew up. Were O'Reilly's roots in blue-collar Levittown as the Fox television star insists? Or was he a product of the comparatively ritzy Westbury? 'What is this hall of mirrors known as O'Reilly's childhood?' Franken purred into his microphone, beginning his radio program before a crowd of 200 listeners."
The Times plays up Judge Samuel Alito's conservativism -- but ignored Ruth Bader Ginsberg's liberalism in 1993.
Tuesday's lead New York Times story on Bush's Supreme Court pick (by Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse) plays up Alito's ideology from the start, nothing the federal appeals court judge has a "conservative record on abortion." Later they note he is "solidly conservative" and has "bona fide conservative credentials" and the paper's front-page subhead emphasizes that he's "Hailed By Right."
By contrast, when President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, Richard Berke's lead story in the June 15, 1993 edition didn't describe Ginsburg, a feminist and former ACLU lawyer, as liberal. Berke even let Clinton get away with saying (without rebuttal from Republicans or anyone else): "Ruth Bader Ginsburg cannot be called a liberal or conservative. She has proved herself too thoughtful for such labels."
The Times' personal profile of Bush's pick by Neil Lewis and Scott Shane takes a similar tone. The headline to the jump page notes Alito's "Clear Conservative Record" and the text describes him as "solidly conservative."
In another contrast, on June 15, 1993, the Times' profile of Ginsburg took Clinton's lead in positioning Ginsburg as a centrist: "Despite her long record as a champion of women's rights, Judge Ginsburg has occasionally disappointed some of her former allies in the liberal advocacy groups. In her 13 years on the appeals court, she has often gone out of her way to mediate between the court's warring liberal and conservative factions."
(On June 27 of that year, the paper ludicrously termed Ginsburg, a former director of the Women's Rights Project of the ACLU, as a centrist: "Balanced Jurist at Home in the Middle.")
Saturday's big front-page feature story on the indictment of I. Lewis Libby comes from political reporter Todd Purdum, and his take on prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is typically positive (and just in time for Halloween): "It was as if Mr. Fitzgerald had suddenly morphed from the ominous star of a long-running silent movie into a sympathetic echo of Kevin Costner in 'The Untouchables.'"
In the same edition, television-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley reviews prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's Friday press conference and makes the very same comparison: "In any turmoil, television seeks a hero. Stepping above the political wrangling, Mr. Fitzgerald presented himself to viewers as a righteous, homespun voice of reason, using baseball metaphors to explain his investigation and the flag to defend it….Back in the United States attorney's office in Chicago, the relentless prosecutor is known as Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree. Standing at a lectern at the Justice Department, wearing a blue shirt and red tie, a film of sweat on his forehead, Mr. Fitzgerald looked more like a Jimmy Stewart character: Mr. Fitzgerald goes to Washington."
A Nexis search indicates the Times never compared Ken Starr to Eliot Ness. However, on March 24, 2002, then-Washington bureau chief (now managing editor) Jill Abramson did pass along comparisons of Starr to another historical figure, albeit one with not quite as good a reputation: "But by the time he stepped down in October 1999, relentless attacks by Democrats and Clinton allies had created a powerful caricature of him as a prude and a Torquemada leading a partisan inquisition."
In Saturday's lead editorial, "The Case Against Scooter Libby," the New York Times tries to tie the complicated Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame-Niger-uranium affair up with a bright-red conspiratorial bow by making out that columnist Bob Novak was out to get diplomat turned (discredited) anti-war activist Joseph Wilson.
By the Times' tendentious reading, the "conservative hawk" Novak went after Wilson for contradicting the White House on Saddam Hussein seeking uranium in Niger: "Mr. Novak reported that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and had suggested Mr. Wilson for the mission. In the eyes of Mr. Novak and other conservative hawks, that made the trip suspect because they saw the C.I.A. as an adversary. The office where Mrs. Wilson worked was not toeing the line on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
Harriet Miers was the victim of conservative "attacks," according to the lead story and its two headlines in Friday's New York Times, and another story advances a theme of vicious and unfair attacks against Miers.
"Bush's Court Choice Ends Bid After Attack By Conservatives -- Too Many Doubts," is from Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse. The headline on the jump page is similar: "Bush's Nominee for Supreme Court Ends Bid After Persistent Attacks by Conservatives."
Reporters Bumiller and Hulse first go to left-wing Sen. Ted Kennedy for a quote lambasting the "extreme right wing": "'The issue of whether the documents were the make-or-break issue is really a red herring,' said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. 'The extreme right wing of the Republican Party have effectively undermined this nomination. They have a litmus test, and Harriet Miers didn't pass that test.'"
The Times lets the Democratic minority leader join the fun: "Democrats, who had remained largely silent as the conservative opposition to Ms. Miers grew, braced for the prospect of a highly conservative replacement choice as the administration seeks a candidate who can better unify Republicans. They said the failure of the nomination illustrated how captive Mr. Bush was to the right wing of his party. 'The only voices heard in this process were the far right,' said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who had initially suggested Ms. Miers to Mr. Bush as a potential justice."
Yesterday's Washington Post takes a stroll through Kim Jong Il's Pyongyang Potemkin Village and finds happy peasants, dazzled visitors, and "public support" (hat-tip MediaCrity).
In "North Korea Sends a 'Message to the World'-- Secretive State Welcomes Visitors for Month-Long Celebration of Patriotism, Talent," Post reporters JooHee Cho and (from Tokyo) Anthony Faiola write: "North Korea has creaked open its doors for Arirang, a festival that celebrates national pride and, this year, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Stalinist state's ruling Workers' Party. Performers, who numbered almost as many as the spectators, won furious applause for their coordinated displays of rhythmic gymnastics, flying acrobatics, traditional dancing and military taekwondo routines -- all synchronized to a massive video and laser light show....North Korea has rolled out the red carpet this month in exceptional style. Tour operators, diplomats and analysts describe the gathering of foreigners as the largest since Kim inherited the leadership on the death of his father and North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, in 1994."
New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley celebrates a self-congratulatory documentary about Hurricane Katrina that features NBC anchor Brian Williams.
The liberal Stanley particularly appreciates "In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina" (airing tonight on the Sundance Channel) for showing Bush and the federal government in a poor light:
"It's never too soon to replay the blame game. 'In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina' on the Sundance Channel serves as a study aid for those who wish to re-examine the government's neglect of the poorest victims of that terrible storm. News programs may have moved on to the damage wrought by Hurricane Wilma, but the devastation along the Gulf Coast was a seminal moment in President Bush's faltering second term."
Professor Cori Dauber interrupts the hagiography to point out that anchor Williams has apparently "forgotten his pledge to 'commute' to the Gulf in order to ensure he stayed completely on top of the story."
For more on the Times' liberal bias, visit TimesWatch.
The New York Times again portrays the far-left anti-war outfit IraqBodyCount as an objective source of casualty counts for civilians in Iraq.
Wednesday's story from Baghdad-based Sabrina Tavernise, "Rising Civilian Toll Is the Iraq War's Silent, Sinister Pulse," is clearly intended as a bookend to the paper's front-page story on the 2000th fatality among U.S. troops in Iraq. Iraq Body Count apparently has not issued a new report, so Tavernise is merely referencing the web site's death clock, based on this database of newspaper clippings.
"The war here has claimed about 2,000 American service members, but in the cold calculus of the killing, far more Iraqis have been left dead. The figures vary widely, with Iraqi and American officials reluctant to release even the most incomplete of tallies….In one count, compiled by Iraq Body Count, a United States-based nonprofit group that tracks the civilian deaths using news media reports, the total of Iraqi dead since the American-led invasion is 26,690 to 30,051."
Tavernise never clarifies how many of the dead are being killed by terrorists killing Iraqi civilians, and ignores the far-left nature of the group doing the tally.
The paper also ignored the leftist politics of IBC when it covered the group's July report marking "25,000" civilian deaths. That report referred to the terrorists who kill Iraqi civilians with car bombs as "unknown agents," innocuously defined as "those who do not attack obvious military/strategic or occupation-related targets." The Times didn't mention that.
IBC is also cited in today's front-page James Dao feature on the 2000th U.S. troop fatality in Iraq. As if to underscore that for some journalists everything is Vietnam, over an otherwise moving spread of small photographs and biographies of soldiers killed in Iraq, a subhead reads in part: "The dead come from all branches of the armed services and represent the highest toll since the Vietnam War."
Of course, an average of over 6,000 soldiers died each year during the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War, compared to 2,000 in two-and-a-half-years in Iraq.
Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus surprised yesterday with a slightly negative piece on Joseph Wilson, the U.S. diplomat turned discredited anti-war actvist whose wife Valerie Plame is the center of Patrick Fitzgerald's rinvestigation that has Democrats salivating and Republicans bracing over possible indictments.
But before the Post notes that in retrospect, it wasn't the best idea for Joseph Wilson and wife Valerie to pose for Vanity Fair, or for him to sign up for the Kerry campaign or (as the Post gently put its) "misstating some aspects of the Niger affair," they credit him for making a Bush claim invalid (emphasis added): "Wilson's central assertion -- disputing President Bush's 2003 State of the Union claim that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger -- has been validated by postwar weapons inspections. And his charge that the administration exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq has proved potent."
Sigh. Back on October 12, 2003, then-Post ombudsman Michael Getler wrote:
"On Oct. 4, The Post made an obvious mistake on the front page, reporting that chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay had found 'no evidence for another one of Bush's key claims--that Iraq sought uranium in Niger.' Bush referred to Africa, not Niger, in the now famous 16 words in his State of the Union speech."
From avoiding Joseph Wilson's credibility collapse to misreading columnist Robert Novak, the New York Times just can't seem to get the facts of the Plame "scandal" straight.
Tuesday's lead scoop by David Johnston, Richard Stevenson and Douglas Jehl puts Vice President Cheney in the middle of Plame-gate ("Cheney Told Aide Of C.I.A. Officer, Lawyers Report").
The aide in question is Cheney's chief-of-staff, I. Lewis Libby, who is being investigated by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the matter of who leaked the name of C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame.
The paper describes its revelation this way: "Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson [Plame] worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003."
Times columnist Maureen Dowd (TimesSelect $ required) strikes the first inside blow against Judy Miller in her Saturday column, "Woman Of Mass Destruction," which opens with this piece of poisoned candy: "I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp. The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy -- her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur -- have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types."
Then she puts the knife in: "She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet 'Miss Run Amok.' Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war."
NYT movie critic Manohla Dargis has mostly praise for the new movie "North Country," starring an un-prettified Charlize Theron, though Dargis admits it's an "old-fashioned liberal weepie" (albeit one "with heart") based on a true story of a class-action sexual harasment suit at a Minnesota mining company.
"For every woman who has been grabbed and groped against her wishes, hounded and worse, told to shut up and smile, told to shut up and take it like a man, told to shut up if you know what's good for you, the new film 'North Country' will induce a shiver of recognition and maybe a blast of rage. A wobbly fiction about a real pioneering sex-discrimination case, the film is an unabashed vehicle for its modestly de-glammed star, Charlize Theron, but, much like George Clooney's 'Good Night, and Good Luck,' it's also a star vehicle with heart -- an old-fashioned liberal weepie about truth and justice."
The front of Wednesday's Sports section features a profile of Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas by Ira Berkow, "A Center Fakes Right, Goes Left, Speaks Out."
Berkow is proud of Thomas for speaking out against the Iraq war and Bush, stating that Thomas "spoke about his resistance to the war in Iraq and recited his poetry on the subject before hundreds of thousands of people at the Operation Ceasefire rally, held in the shadow of the Washington Monument....Thomas, 27, writes with passion about the necessity of education for young people, argues against the death penalty, laments teenage pregnancy and deplores the insensitivity, as he sees it, of the Bush administration toward blacks. He also skewers the gang mentality of some in the inner city."
Berkow quotes some of Thomas' poems ("The essence of their happiness/Cloaked in a web of lies/As far as their eyes can see/They're doomed.") and his even less coherent political diatribes: "Thomas has been active with causes involving the American Civil Liberties Union and the Congressional Black Caucus, and helped raise money and supplies for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. 'Do you really think, had this been a rich, lily-white suburban area, instead of one mostly poor and black, that got hit, the administration would have waited five days to get food or water to those people?' Thomas said. 'When the hurricane hit in Florida, Bush made sure those people got those supplies the next day.'"
Incidentally, the far-left Nation magazine profiled Thomas over a month ago saying almost exactly the same thing.
The Times claims to like it when athletes speak out on politics -- but apparently, only when it's in an anti-Bush direction. When tennis star Jennifer Capriati wanted to support the troops by having Outkast's "Bombs Over Baghdad" played during the warm-up for one of her matches in Miami in March 2003, the NYT's liberal sportswriter Selena Roberts sniffed: "Politics aside, her logic was questionable. How uplifting is a song illuminated by such abrasive lyrics?"
Josh Benson's Sunday article for the New York Times on the suddenly-close race for New Jersey governor between Democratic Sen. Jon Corzine and Republican candidate Doug Forrester discusses the outside political celebrities each campaign is calling in: Karl Rove and Dick Cheney on the Republican side, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama for the Democrats.
But while Rove and Cheney are labeled as "two distinctively conservative and polarizing figures," neither Clinton or Obama are labeled as polarizing or even liberal, but instead are "two of Mr. Corzine's more celebrated colleagues." (Moderate Republican and liberal media favorite Sen. John McCain, who will campaign for Forrester next week, is "iconic.")
Hillary Clinton is probably no less polarizing among Republicans then Rove and Cheney are among Democrats. However, when opposition to Hillary Clinton is mentioned in the Times, she's not seen as "polarizing." Instead, her critics are described as haters. That's how reporters Raymond Hernandez and Michael Cooper treated them in an October 15 story on Sen. Clinton's Senate race: "[Sen. Hillary] Clinton still inspires great antipathy among conservative Republicans, who have seen the 2006 Senate race in New York as an opportunity to damage her politically in advance of her possible presidential bid in 2008."
No bias here, but kind of amusing: The front of Saturday's Sports page featured a picture of the 16-year old golf phenom Michelle Wie taking a free drop of her ball after it was ruled unplayable in the first round of the Samsung World Championship. The headline over the accompanying story read "Wie Knows How to Play, And She Knows the Rules."
Or does she? Monday's sports page declared "Infraction Costs Wie First Payday."
Another free drop that Wie took during the third round on Saturday was ruled illegal on Sunday, after it was determined Wie had perhaps inadvertently moved the ball closer to the hole when she made her drop.
Israeli-based Steven Erlanger's "news analysis" from Jerusalem in Friday's New York Times is purportedly about the Israel-Palestinian "road map" toward peace ("Mideast Knot: One Map, Many Paths"), but Erlanger devotes most of his space to sympathy for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Erlanger (who once referred to terrorist Yassir Arafat's "heroic history") does open by noting that Israelis have made complaints to Abbas about continuing Palestinian terrorism, but then gratuitously suggests Israel is being "self-serving" in making the complaints: "....in June, the Israelis say, [suspected suicide bombing organizer Hasan] Madhoun recruited a Gazan woman receiving burn treatment at Soroka hospital to blow it up as a suicide bomber. The woman was caught trying to leave Gaza, with a permit to visit the hospital and explosives attached to her underclothes. The story, confirmed by Palestinian officials, may seem self-serving for the Israelis to tell. But it is a serious factor in the loss of confidence that both Israel and the United States have in the ability of Mr. Abbas to show strong leadership in the face of threats to his own rule."
Erlanger gives this glowing report of Abbas: "Mr. Abbas -- intelligent, proud, committed to nonviolence -- is admired by Israel and the United States, and neither wants him to fail."
(Abbas also has doubts about the Holocaust and once posited a link between Nazism and Zionism -- but such details about the "intelligent" Abbas tend not to make the Times.)
The Times gives Democrats room for hope to take over Congress in 2006. Was the Times as enthusiastic about Republican prospects in 1994?
Robin Toner's Page One New York Times story ("Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form") begins: "Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority."
But the evidence Toner cites could be a wee bit more convincing: "Already, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and soaring gasoline prices have taken a toll on the popularity of President Bush and Congressional Republicans; new polling by the Pew Research Center shows the approval rating for Congressional Republican leaders at 32 percent, with 52 percent disapproving, a sharp deterioration since March. (The ratings of Democratic leaders stood at 32 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval.)"
In March, the same Pew survey had figures of 39-44% approval-disapproval for Republicans and 37-44% approval-disapproval for Democrats, underlining the fact that Democratic approval ratings have fallen almost as far as those of Republicans, a fact Toner puts in parentheses.
Interestingly, the Times wasn't so hypersensitive to the possibility of an historic Republican takeover of Congress back in 1994, although the same polling group, Pew, released no fewer than three surveys within a month of the 1994 election indicating the strong possibility of Republicans gaining control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
The first sentence of Pew's November 6, 1994 poll stated: "Going into the final days of the campaign, a nationwide Times Mirror survey finds the Republican party with about enough popular support to capture control of the House of Representatives, but not enough to guarantee such an outcome."
Yet despite that strong hint, a Nexis search indicates the Times was silent on Pew's predictions about an imminent Republican tidal wave. [Clarification: According to Nexis, the Times did run a small story in Section B on October 13, 1994, noting the favorable findings for Republicans by the Times Mirror center, findings which were then reported by Pew.]
The New York Times breaks its weird silence on reporter Judy Miller, with David Johnston's article (a page A16 piece that lacks even a front-page blurb) marking her testimony today to the grand jury investigating the leak of Valerie Plame's name.
But the story contains little news, just a run-down of the complicated story of C.I.A. operative Plame and her husband, disgraced anti-Bush diplomat Joseph Wilson, plus a defense from the paper's executive editor as to why the paper can't run a real story on Miller just yet.
Further downplaying the Times connection is the accompanying photo, which features not Miller but another player in the investigation, Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby.
Johnston quotes Executive Editor Bill Keller's explanation for the silence at the Times: "In his statement to the staff on Tuesday, Mr. Keller said the contempt order under which Ms. Miller had been jailed still remained in effect, meaning that she 'is not yet clear of legal jeopardy.'
The New York Times' resident iconoclast columnist (anti-recycling, pro-gas tax) John Tierney unloads on liberal bias in the media in his Tuesday column (sub. req'd). The piece from libertarian-leaning Tierney comes with the usual Times' head-scratcher of a headline, "Where Cronies Dwell," but the text box gets right to his point: "The left has a lock on journalism and law schools."
Behind the TimesSelect paid-content firewall, Tierney writes that while he thinks journalists do try not to impose their personal prejudices on their stories, the real bias resides in what sort of stories they aren't writing. "Journalists naturally tend to pursue questions that interest them. So when you have a press corps that's heavily Democratic -- more than 80 percent, according to some surveys of Washington journalists -- they tend to do stories that reflect Democrats' interests. When they see a problem, their instinct is to ask what the government can do to solve it."
There's one last hurrah for the controversial, now-shelved International Freedom Center in the New York Times in this morning's "Public Lives" section story by Robin Finn.
Many family members of 9-11 victims opposed the proposed museum as a possible base for leftist sentiments (the Times editorial page said such criticism "sounds un-American," a strange accusation from a newspaper typically hypersensitive when conservatives allegedly question liberal patrtiotism).
Reporter Robin Finn's profile of Richard Tofel, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Center, reads as distinctly sympathetic to the museum: "Short-term political correctness has, he fears, snuffed out long-term vision. Instead of a memorial site that 'stands the test of time' and offers a continuing meditation on freedom's oft-threatened lifeline, there will be a 9/11 dead zone with 9/11 in perpetual focus. Reverent, yes. Forever relevant? He suspects not."
After a long delay and some unsatisfying back-and-forth between bloggers and Times ombudsman Barney Calame, Thursday's New York Times prints a Raymond Hernandez story that finally notes the Democratic scandal involving aides to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer obtaining the credit report of possible Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, the Lt. Governor of Maryland. The piece is at best dutiful, with little juice, from the dull and uninformative headline ("Democrats Are on Defensive In Maryland Senate Race") on down.
Hernandez opens: "National Republicans, who face an uphill battle in their efforts to capture the open United States Senate seat in heavily Democratic Maryland next year, are trying to exploit potential legal problems that Democrats are now suddenly facing in that race. The Republicans are seizing on a disclosure that two researchers at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee improperly obtained the credit report of Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican who is considering a bid for the Senate seat. In recent days, Republicans have sought to put Democrats on the defensive, saying the incident underscores just how concerned the opposition is to the prospect of a Steele candidacy."
Riding a wave of lawsuits against businesses, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is running for governor of New York in 2006 , and the New York Times Sunday Magazine delivers a one-sided story in his favor ("Spitzerism -- Is A Prosecutor's Zeal What The Democrats Need?") by Noam Scheiber, a senior editor at the liberal New Republic magazine.
The Times likes Spitzer, so it was only natural for them to go to Scheiber, who really, really likes Spitzer, to the point of applauding the idea last December of Spitzer intimidating companies into campaign donations:
Mrs. Triangulation is the title of New York Times contributing writer Matt Bai's profile of Sen. Hillary Clinton (on the cover the article is referred to even less plausibly as "Hillary's Centrist Crusade").
Bai has apparently been taken in by Clinton's centering propaganda, as has the Times in general: It's coverage of the senator has consisted largely of portraying her as a safe centrist and even a social conservative, while accusing those who call her liberal as guilty of "caricature."
While Hillary Clinton has perhaps not been the vociferous anti-war opponent of MoveOn.org fantasies, she's hardly been quiet about her loathing of the Bush administration, as when she compared Bush to Mad Magazine's moronic cartoon mascot: "I sometimes feel that Alfred E. Neuman is in charge in Washington."
Just as in several stories by Hillary-approving reporter Raymond Hernandez, Bai on Sunday doesn’t identify Hillary as a liberal, instead claiming she's a centrist and even has "conservative leanings."
That spin is at odds with reality. The American Conservative Union gives Hillary Clinton a rating of 9 out of a possible 100 points. Meanwhile, she garnered a 95% rating from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (it should be said that 17 of the 45 Democratic senators had perfect 100% records in the ADA's 2004 survey, based on their position on 20 significant votes).
Editorial page editor Gail Collins announced in a "letter from the editor" in the Sunday Week in Review that the paper's corrections policy for its news pages would now apply to Times columnists as well.
Collins doesn't let this mea culpa pass without getting a cheap shot in at an embattled former Bush official: "A 'For the Record' column of errata will run under the editorials whenever it's appropriate. The first one appears today. It corrects several misstatements about when Joe Allbaugh, the former FEMA director, met his successor, Michael Brown, now legendary as a disaster in his own right. Although there have been multitudinous references throughout the media to the two as former college chums or college roommates, they in fact went to different schools."
Sigh. The day after Times Watch gave the paper an "attaboy" for delivering a somewhat balanced front-page story on the battle over a proposed left-wing museum at Ground Zero, comes a Friday editorial, "Freedom or Not?" It accuses those who don't want anti-American sentiments enshrined at the site of being "censors."
"The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation will soon decide whether ground zero will continue to include an International Freedom Center, or whether families of some 9/11 victims will be able to censor those plans. Yesterday, the Freedom Center submitted a report that specified in greater detail how it would be run and what it hoped to present in the way of programming. This became necessary when Gov. George Pataki capitulated to a misguided outcry from critics who fear that the center's main task will be to present anti-American views of 9/11."
The Times huffs: "But since late June the Freedom Center has been caught up in a vitriolic protest called the Take Back the Memorial movement, whose leaders claim for themselves the right of deciding for the rest of us what we should know and think about 9/11."
Take Back the Memorial's blog points out: "Some in the media, namely the New York Times, continue to write off Take Back the Memorial as a 'small number' of 9/11 family members. That is simply not the case, as evidenced by those that now stand with us," including the 20,000-member Uniformed Firefighters Association and three local congressmen threatening hearings on the matter.
One kudo for the New York Times today for the front page story by David Dunlap on the important ideological battle over a proposed museum at the site of the Twin Towers ("Freedom Museum Is Headed For Showdown at Ground Zero").
Critics of the International Freedom Center, including many relatives of the victims of 9-11, contend that the proposed museum would slight the victims in favor of liberal history lessons.
In an influential Wall Street Journal op-ed, chief critic (and relative of a 9-11 victim) Debra Burlingame called the proposed museum "a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond."
She stated: "This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona." Burlingame also noted the left-wing nature of many connected to the project, including radical Columbia professor Eric Foner and left-wing billionaire George Soros.
A New York Times Sunday editorial, "Penguin Family Values," mocks conservatives for praising "March of the Penguins," a surprise hit documentary about penguin families: "The news that emperor penguins are exemplars of self-sacrifice, marital fidelity and steadfast parenting has brought joy to many religious conservatives, who see the brave birds in the documentary 'March of the Penguins' as little Christian beacons of family and faith."
The Times had further sophomoric mocking of those who would equate human behavior with animal: "Those who start looking outside the human family for old-fashioned values, in fact, will need to quickly narrow their search terms. They will surely want to ignore practices observed in animals like dolphins (gang rape), chimpanzees (exhibitionism), bonobo apes (group sex) and Warner Brothers cartoon rabbits (cross-dressing). Casting a wide net for chaste and saintly creatures, the mind flails, then comes up mostly empty. Yowling tomcats? Lazy, sexist lions? Preening peacocks? Better stick with the penguins."
On Tuesday, the Science section let the paper's liberal readership pile on in an unusually long letters section mocking those silly conservatives.
Yet two years ago, one of the Times' own ultraliberal editorialists did much the same thing, albeit with weaker logic, from the left side of the aisle.
The hurricane may have knocked anti-war Bush-hater Cindy Sheehan off the news pages of the New York Times, but she still has enough liberal cred to make a local splash, as shown in a Monday Metro Section report in the Times by Marc Santora on Sheehan's visit to a church in Brooklyn, "Mother Who Lost Son in Iraq Continues Fight Against War."
"Cindy Sheehan, the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq, last night brought her campaign to end the war to New York, where she accused Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of not doing enough to challenge the Bush administration's Iraq policies. Speaking in front of more than 500 supporters in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Ms. Sheehan, speaking of Senator Clinton, said, 'She knows that the war is a lie but she is waiting for the right time to say it.'"
Santora ignores the far-left nature of Sheehan's posse: "Since leaving Texas, Ms. Sheehan, of Vacaville, Calif., has been traveling around the country, rallying people against the war. Her entourage includes other parents who lost their children in the war, families of soldiers overseas, and veterans who have returned from Iraq."
Santora also ignores Sheehan's latest bizarre statement, but the New York Sun did not, noting: "Ms. Sheehan wrote a letter posted on filmmaker Michael Moore's Web site in which she accused the federal government of evacuating people unnecessarily in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. 'George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power,' she wrote."
Friday brings New York Times reporter Richard Stevenson's latest biased "news analysis," "Amid the Ruins, a President Tries to Reconstruct His Image, Too." Tasteful metaphor, eh?
Twice in his story in the news pages, Stevenson cites as fact Bush's "faltering response" to Katrina, while again ignoring state and local (and Democratic) culpability.
"The violence of Hurricane Katrina and his faltering response to it have left to Mr. Bush the task not just of physically rebuilding a swath of the United States, but also of addressing issues like poverty and racial inequality that were exposed in such raw form by the storm. The challenge would be immense for any president, but is especially so for Mr. Bush. He is scrambling to assure a shaken, angry nation not only that is he up to the task but also that he understands how much it disturbed Americans to see their fellow citizens suffering and their government responding so ineffectually.
"So for nearly 30 minutes, he stood in a largely lifeless New Orleans and, to recast his presidency in response to one of the nation's most devastating disasters, sought to show that he understands the suffering. He spoke of housing and health care and job training. He reached with rhetorical confidence for the uplifting theme that out of tragedy can emerge a better society, and he groped for what he lost in the wind and water more than two weeks ago: his well-cultivated image as a strong leader."
When it comes to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Times has never tried to pin or suggest blame lies anywhere but with President George W. Bush, despite ample evidence elsewhere of congressional and local failures. Stevenson continues mining that same vein:
"But if the speech helped him clear his first hurdle by projecting the aura of a president at the controls, it probably did not, by itself, get him over a second: his need to erase or at least blur the image of a White House that was unresponsive to the plight of some of the country's most vulnerable citizens and failed to manage the government competently. Whether he can put a floor under his falling poll numbers, restore his political authority and move ahead with his agenda will determine not just the course of his second term but the strength of his party, which by virtue of having controlled both the White House and the Congress for more than five years has trouble credibly pinning the blame elsewhere."
The New York Times buries its latest poll story on Bush on Page 18, perhaps recognizing the lack of news in the findings. Yet reporters Todd Purdum and Marjorie Connelly try their best in, "Support for Bush Continues to Drop as More Question His Leadership Skills, Poll Shows."
They open: "A summer of bad news from Iraq, high gasoline prices, economic unease and now the devastation of Hurricane Katrina has left President Bush with overall approval ratings for his job performance and handling of Iraq, foreign policy and the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll."
The Times admits, contrary to its headline, that "The hurricane, alone, does not appear to have taken any significant toll on Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating, which remains stuck virtually where it has been since early summer. But the findings do suggest that the slow federal response to the hurricane has increased public doubts about the Bush administration's effectiveness. Fifty-six percent of Americans said they were now less confident about the government's ability to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster."
But the Times doesn't mention in its story that the public perception of Bush's handling of Katrina has actually improved this week, from a 20-point gap in a CBS poll a week ago (38%-58% approval-disapproval) to a 6-point gap in this latest poll (44%-50%). For that tidbit you have to dig into the poll questions online. (It's Question 8.)