You knew the warm fuzzies for Pope Francis couldn't last that long. While the media initially went gaga over Pope Francis, hoping beyond hope he was some liberal reformer who would open up the Catholic Church to all kinds of heterodoxy, the reality is slowly setting in. The first-ever Latin American pontiff is warm, genial, charismatic, and an excellent communicator with both the public and the press, but he's solidly conservative in doctrine, particularly the issue of biggest concern for the liberal media: sexual ethics.
The other day, it was TIME's Tim Padgett, blasting the pope over the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Today it's Vanity Fair contributing editor Janine di Giovanni, who penned an attack on Francis in a "world news" feature at the Daily Beast that was not tagged as commentary and headlined, "What About Women, Pope Francis?" Out of the gate, di Giovanni went after the bishop of Rome (emphasis mine):
"A Hoodie. A Symbol. A Museum Piece? What will become of Trayvon Martin's sweatshirt, the latest piece of trial evidence to capture the public's fascination?" That's how the editors of the Washington Post-owned free tabloid Express grabbed the eyeballs of Washington Metrorail riders this morning.
Manuel Roig-Franzia's cover story on page 12 -- "Iconic Evidence Has Unclear Fate: Supporters view Trayvon Martin's hoodie as more than a trial artifact" -- seems to be spun off from a July 31 Post Style section front-pager, "Where's the Evidence," which looked more broadly at "iconic exhibits" of evidence in high-profile trials such as the infamous glove in the O.J. Simpson murder trial or the Bushmaster rifle used by D.C. snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. But the closing paragraphs of Roig-Franzia's Express piece chiefly served as a vehicle for MSNBC host the Rev. Al Sharpton to promote his designs on Trayvon's hoodie, not to mention Sharpton's insistence that Martin is the Emmett Till of the millennial generation (emphasis mine):
As I argued yesterday, the unanimous state court ruling in New York blocking Mayor Mike Bloomberg's ban on fountain soda cups larger than 16 ounces in capacity would be portrayed in the liberal media as a setback to a well-meaning public health effort and a boon to big business. True to form, taxpayer-subsidized NPR is peddling this spin to readers of its website while completely ignoring how the ruling is a win for consumer choice or how continuing to litigate this in courts may be a waste of taxpayer money.
Today another New York state court upheld an earlier decision in March that invalidated outgoing Mayor Mike Bloomberg's much-maligned "soda ban" which restricts many establishments in the Big Apple from selling soda cups larger than 16 ounces in capacity. As the media report on the court ruling, watch for a) the media to paint the ruling as a "blow" to an "ambitious," well-meaning effort by Bloomberg to save the city from corpulence and b) the ruling as a victory for Big Soda, even though the litigants in the case happen to be the New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.
For two examples of this media narrative, I submit for your consideration two wildly different publications, Politico and, sadly, the Wall Street Journal. First Politico. Here's how Kyle Cheney opened his July 30 post, "Appeals court cans N.Y.C. soda ban" (emphasis mine):
While most liberal media outlets have been positively giddy about Pope Francis's off-the-cuff remarks to the media about gay Catholics, Tim Padgett is having none of it, complaining, accurately, that the media have misconstrued the pontiff's comments. But Padgett's beef is not with inaccurate secular media outlets but with the church itself. "Catholic doctrine still vilifies homosexuality, and no amount of priestly 'love' makes that okay," huffed the sanctimonious headline to Padgett's July 30 story, "Pope Francis and Gays: 'Loving the Sinner' Is Still Intolerance."
"As TIME’s Stephen Faris has noted, while the Pope’s remarks might be a welcome and humane sentiment, they hardly represent a break with Catholic church doctrine, which still condemns homosexuality. The Vatican’s catechismal stance regarding the LGBTs in our midst remains the same: The church may love the sinner, but it hates the sin," complained Padgett in a post on the Time Ideas blog. Visitors to the main Time.com page were greeted this morning with a huge teaser headline which prompted readers to check out the piece, tagged as a "viewpoint" entry, not an objective news story [see screen capture below]:
Americans hold "[a] complicated mix of views on abortion," the Washington Post insists, reporting the results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll with interesting data on some roiling controversies in the nation's political discourse regarding abortion. "Poll: Most in the U.S. back stricter time limits, not rules that hinder clinics," a subheadline to Juliet Eilperin's page A6 story in the July 26 paper reads.
But as always, the phrasing of the question and the sampling of the poll respondents tell us a lot about the results. Here's the loaded language regarding the abortion clinic regulation (emphasis mine):
"New state restrictions on clinics that provide abortions could leave millions of women -- many of them poor and uninsured -- without easy access to cancer screenings and other basic health care services," worried Jake Grovum of the Pew Charitable Trust's Stateline news agency in his heavily-slanted July 24 piece at USAToday.com headlined "Anti-abortion measures may hit women's health care." Grovum quoted two foes of abortion regulation laws -- making sure to give one of them the last word in his 16 paragraph story. By contrast, he cited just one pro-life proponent of clinic regulation, Alabama State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin.
But aside from the article's imbalance and the all-too-common meme that women only have abortion clinics to turn to for free or low-cost health care -- patently untrue as we've noted time and again -- Grovum's article was off-base for suggesting that abortion clinics will become an endangered species in states which regulate them. By contrast, as Lisa Maria Garza of Reuters explained in her July 18 story, "Why many abortion clinics in Texas may stay open despite new law,"abortion-rights advocates who study changes in abortion laws for a living admit that clinic closures might not be a widespread as feared by the Wendy Davis-types in the pro-choice lobby (emphasis mine):
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Obama/Holder Justice Department would request a federal court to put a hold on plans by the State of Texas to put into effect new voter ID laws. The Wall Street Journal's Devlin Barrett has a short article on the development, "Holder Targets Texas in New Voting-Rights Push," published shortly after the announcement at 10:05 a.m. Eastern time.
Barrett failed to directly quote any opponents of Holder's move, but did not that "The move is likely to anger conservatives who have long argued that the law has outlived its usefulness and punishes certain states—particularly in the South—based not on their current conduct, but on their past." But when it came to promoting the article on social media, a Journal social media staffer gave Twitter followers a decidedly pro-Holder spin, pitching the story thusly:
ObamaCare is a poison pill that has unintended consequences for part-time employees all over the country, including in the Washington Post's backyard. The liberal paper cannot simply ignore such developments, but when it covers such developments, you can be sure it will find ways to spin the story to take blame away from President Obama and direct it towards conservative Republicans.
Take Sandhya Somashekhar's July 24 print edition front-pager, "Health law's unintended impact on part-timers." The Post staff writer opened by introducing readers to one Kevin Pace, a Northern Virginia Community College adjunct instructor whose employer "slashed his hours this spring to avoid a Jan. 1 requirement that full-time workers for large employers be offered health insurance." "We work so hard for so little pay," Pace groused, "You would think they would want to make an investment in society, pay the teachers back and give us health care," he told Somashekhar, who similarly closed out the article by giving Pace the last word:
The Wall Street Journal's editorial board is rock-ribbed conservative, but its news pages often feature biased reporting that fits with the rest of the liberal media's narratives about conservatives and the GOP. Take Patrick O'Connor's 20-paragraph July 23 article, "Think Tank Becomes a Handful for GOP."
"For four decades, the Heritage Foundation was a stately think tank that sought to define conservative thinking for Republicans," O'Connor noted, lamenting that "Now, in one of the more significant transformations in the capital's intellectual firmament, it has become an activist political operation trying to alter the course of conservative thinking." In doing so, "[i]t now challenges establishment Republican leaders as much as it informs them, making waves in the process," O'Connor complained, going on to cite Republican congressmen complaining about Heritage's tactics, but failing to find pro-Heritage conservative GOPers to defend the organization.
The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) has misplaced at least 2,000 high-tech radios, "creating what some within the agency view as a security risk for federal judges, endangered witnesses and others," the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. What's more, WSJ staffer Devlin Barrett noted, documents released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request suggest that the USMS's director, Obama appointee Stacia Hylton, tried to get agency officials to low-ball the estimate of how much money the lost radios cost the U.S. taxpayer. Oh, and did I mention that the missing radio problem goes back to 2011, when the USMS's Office of Strategic Technology complained that "the entire [inventory] system is broken and drastic measures need to be taken to address the issues"?
Earlier this summer, the Washington Post reported on another federal agency, the U.S. Park Police, misplacing thousands of guns. I noted at the time that the broadcast media failed to cover the story. The same appears to be true here. Of the broadcast network morning shows, only Norah O'Donnell of CBS This Morning very briefly touched on the development on Monday's edition:
Well, yesterday, a third federal court, this time the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, rebuked the president for unconstitutional recess appointments, as Tal Kopan of Politico reported here. Yet once again, the liberal broadcast news media showed absolutely no interest in the development, censoring the story from their July 17 evening newscasts and July 18 morning news programs.
Requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot is tantamount to an "assault on black America" that is "unforgettable, and, you could say, unforgivable."
At least according to MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, who opted to close out his July 17 program -- and lead into veteran race-baiter Al Sharpton's PoliticsNation -- with a screed against his native Pennsylvania's voter ID law, the constitutionality of which is being challenged in a state court (video and transcript follow the page break):
Updated below: Wemple doubles down | Are you genuinely offended and angered by Rolling Stone magazine putting a glamour-style photograph of Boston bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its August 1 edition, plugging its corresponding cover story, "The Bomber," by promising readers a look at "How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster"?
You are? Well, you're certainly not alone, but Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple thinks you're just another cog in "our country's tedious outrage machine." From his July 17 blog post filed shortly before 11 a.m. and headlined, "To Rolling Stone detractors: Please":
When it comes to racism in the South, the Washington Post is content to presume guilt until innocence is proven.
In his July 16 20-paragraph Style section front-pager "Echoes of the past," Washington Post writer Wil Haygood effectively compared the not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial to previous instances where juries in Southern states failed to convict racists accused of murdering black Americans like Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. "A Southern jury -- when it comes to race and the perception that a black person has been wrongly accused or harmed -- operates under the wide whispering shadow of history," Haygood insisted, adding, "[T]here exists a roster of names and cases that has exploded onto the national scene and claimed headlines against the backdrop of race and geography: the Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till, Isaac Woodward, Medgar Evers, the four girls killed in the Alabama bombing."
"Abortion center closes after run of difficulties" lamented a Washington Post headline on the front page of the July 15 edition's Metro section. "New regulations hamper relocation effort," a subheadline for staff writer Tom Jackman's story noted.
But deep in his 20-paragraph story, Jackman noted that the Fairfax City, Va., clinic, Nova Women's Healthcare, was sued in late 2011 and that court documents in that suit referred to sick patients "lying down in corridors... and, in some instances, even vomiting." In the 16th paragraph of his story, Jackman admitted that "One filing said witnesses would testify that this was a daily occurrence." Virginia's new abortion clinic regulations did not take full effect until June of this year.
MSNBC's initial -- not to mention its ongoing -- reaction to acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges of second degree murder and manslaughter was predictably heavily focused on race and laden with melodramatic hand-wringing.
But it may be anchor Chris Jansing who took the cake in early Sunday morning coverage when she asserted that pre-teen boys were "crawling into bed" with their parents in fear that night as a result of the verdict:
On Thursday, my colleague Jeffrey Meyer noted how the Washington Post's Mike DeBonis failed to explain to readers how unionized retail outlets would benefit from an exemption in the cynically-titled Large Retailer Accountability Act, the D.C. Council bill that would require large retail chains like Walmart to pay employees at least $12.50/hour.
Today, to their credit, Post editors did publish a 12-paragraph piece by the Post's Lydia DePillis, who noted that it was "labor leaders" who "drafted the bill originally" and attempted to blackmail Walmart, saying "they would pull the bill if" the company "agreed to collective bargaining." DePillis also quoted an anonymous source on a city councilman's staff explaining "when all labor pulls in one direction, that is a powerful thing to this council." All the same, DePillis still failed to explain just how pro-union and anti-worker's rights the Act would be, nor did she quote any opponents of the bill in her story.
Ever since the Newtown mass shooting, the liberal media have pushed for a fresh round of federal gun control, insisting that such measures are needed to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands, even though the efficacy of such measures is doubtful. But what about guns potentially falling into the wrong hands thanks to the malfeasance or incompetence of government officials? Shouldn't the media highlight those instances and call the government to account for them?
Well, the Washington Post reported in Friday's newspaper that the "U.S. Park Police has lost track of thousands of handguns, rifles and machine guns in what a government watchdog agency concluded is the latest example of mismanagement on a police force trusted to protect millions of visitors to the city's iconic monuments." Even so, it appears the broadcast networks have thus far ignored the story.
The Wall Street Journal may be best-known for its conservative editorial page, but its ostensibly objective reporters are a far different story. Take Jess Bravin, the Journal's Supreme Court correspondent, and his wildly different takes on the Voting Rights Act case vs. the gay marriage cases.
Although all those cases were 5-4 decisions and although each of them involved overturning or invalidating legislation enacted overwhelmingly on a bipartisan vote in Congress or, in the Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, by the voters of the State of California, Bravin predictably followed the liberal script in how he framed the outcomes.
National Public Radio enjoys a brand new and quite costly state-of-the-art facility just north of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The new facility "includes a cafe with chefs, a gym with a trainer, a staffed wellness center, plug-ins for electric cars and other perks" and that begs the question, "Does an organization that well-heeled still need taxpayer money?"
"There may be an economic cure for the nation's obesity," the Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey exulted as he opened his page A17 story in today's edition. "Hike the price of food," with a tax on calories. "Raising the price of a calorie for home consumption by 10 percent might lower the percentage of body fat in youths about 8 or 9 percent," Whoriskey noted, citing "new research from the National Bureau of Economic Research." [The deceptively named organization, by the way, is in fact a "private, nonprofit" outfit.]
Of course, "taxing calories might push the price of staples beyond the reach of the destitute," Whoriskey noted, but he buried that fact in the 15th paragraph of the 16-paragraph story. Additionally, Whoriskey failed to consult any critics of calorie taxes who view such a move as an intrusive nanny-state pipe dream. And then there's the fact that taxes are supposed to exist for the purpose of raising revenue, not engineering society to politically correct ends.
While most reactions from the liberal media today regarding the Supreme Court's rulings on the gay marriage cases, liberal constitutional law professor and Daily Beast contributor Adam Winkler laments that the right rulings may have been made for the "wrong reasons."
As the National Journal reported today (emphases mine), "the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows that a plurality of Americans supports a ban on late abortions," that "women supported such a measure in greater numbers than men (50 percent of women in favor; 46 percent of men)," and that both young voters and white women -- two Obama-favoring voting demographics -- favor such bans by a simple majority:
Writing for the liberal Atlantic magazine today, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen jumped off the proverbial deep end by comparing today's Supreme Court ruling invalidating section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to two infamous Supreme Court decisions from the 19th century.
"[T]he Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County is one of the worst in the history of the institution. As a matter of fact, and of law, it is indefensible. It will be viewed by future scholars on a par with the Court's odious Dred Scott and Plessy decisions and other utterly lamentable expressions of judicial indifference to the ugly realities of racial life in America," Cohen righteously thundered deep with his 18-paragraph screed.
A stubborn, doctrinaire insistence by hard-line abortion rights advocates that a bill titled the Women's Equality Act must not pass without language further liberalizing the Empire State's abortion laws doomed the bill to failure in the New York State Assembly, the New York Times's Thomas Kaplan reported today. Even so, the Times did its best to shield the abortion lobby -- groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood -- for blame for the death of legislation with "widespread support" that would "strengthen the state’s laws against sexual harassment, human trafficking, domestic violence and salary discrimination."
On the June 15 Evening News, reporter Elizabeth Palmer noted that all the candidates in the Iranian presidential election had been "very conservative" and all of them met the approval of the country's Islamic theocrats. "In U.S. terms, it was as if all the candidates for the presidency came from the Tea Party," Palmer explained to viewers at home.
After watching that clip on the June 20 "Media Mash" segment of FNC's Hannity, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell lashed out at Palmer's attack on conservative Americans. Palmer, Bozell noted, was "equating the Tea Party, that at its essence believes in freedom with a movement that at its epicenter is totalitarianism." "If that isn't character assassination, I don't know what is," the Media Research Center founder concluded. [watch the full Media Mash segment below the page break; thanks to MRCTV's Bob Parks for putting the video together]
On their website, Politico insists that it exists "to prove there's a robust and profitable future for tough, fair and fun coverage of politics and government." While promising to remain objective, the goal is really to provide "a distinctive brand of journalism that drives the conversation." Of course, the paper repeatedly fails to be fair and balanced and repeatedly succeeds in steering liberal media conversation, and always with a meme that accords to the liberal media's desire to bash conservatives and boost liberal Democrats.
Take today's Jake Sherman piece, "The dysfunctional House," which lambastes House Republican leadership for being bested by a conservative faction of 62 Republicans who helped to doom the "farm bill" in a floor vote yesterday. But Sherman's goal wasn't so much to defend a bill that is 80 percent pork but to set a narrative that paints the House GOP as obstructionist and uninterested in governing, thanks to a minority of renegade conservatives. That of course will feed into a larger narrative the media hope to drive prior to the 2014 midterms:
You cannot make this stuff up if you tried. [h/t Dave Weigel]
Apparently among the welcome packet for attendees at the liberal NetRoots Nation 2013 conference was a two-paragraph section entitled "Transgender Etiquette." It's short but laughably sweet in its utter absurdity [see photo below] For example, there's this admonition: