"Should all have been forgiven or does the teacher's sentence send a fair message that foreigners sholud [sic] be more sensitive when it comes to religion?"
Thus concludes Manya Brachear's November 29 post to the Chicago Tribune's "The Seeker" religion news blog. Brachear was opening discussion up in her comments thread to the case of British subject Gillian Gibbons, a 54-year-old private school teacher in Sudan who faced the potential punishment of 40 lashes. Her crime: allowing her students to name a class teddy bear Muhammad.
The case had sparked international outrage and official protest by the British government. Perhaps in no small part from all the scrutiny, the Islamic clerics who have sentenced Ms. Gibbons handed down a relatively "light" sentence: 15 days in jail followed by deportation back to the United Kingdom.
Perhaps hoping to evince detached balance and objectivity, the Tribune's Brachear, a religion reporter and blogger, entitled her blog post, "Who's Insulting Islam?"
While Brachear did find moderate Muslims who decried charges ever having been filed against Gibbons in the first place, she failed to find anyone to insist that Sudan's government, or at least its judicial system, is held sway by a backwards, intolerant, theocratic imposition of Sharia law. What's more, Brachear found space to hint that the British government may be to blame for nearly causing Gibbons to face the lash:
CNN is defending its job in vetting questions for last night's debate, reports Politico's Kenneth Vogel:
The retired general who quizzed Republican presidential candidates about gays and lesbians in the military was not the only person linked to a Democratic presidential candidate who got to ask a question at Wednesday’s CNN/YouTube debate.
Trent Lott, once a favored whipping boy of the mainstream media for unfortunate and poorly-worded comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash, is now being hailed by the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman as a great statesman as he exits the U.S. Senate.
Weisman's page A4 profile, "As Lott Leaves the Senate, Compromise Appears to Be a Lost Art," paints a picture of a U.S. Senate descending into perpetual gridlock thanks to partisanship. Yet Weisman seems to lay all the blame for partisan gridlock on Republican shoulders, assigning no blame to the Democrats who now control the august deliberative body.:
States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
Only one of those "stalwarts" is a liberal, the socialist professor-turned-politician Bernie Sanders. Other left-wing ideologues like Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and of course Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) apparently escaped Weisman's attention.
Indeed, while Reid's Senate is one-half of a Congress with abysmal public approval ratings, Weisman lamented that with the Senate "almost dysfunctional" that "new power centers," such as "pragmatist" dealmakers like Trent Lott "are difficult to find."
Conservatives examining whom to support in the primary elections might do well to welcome an examination of both candidates and how they have departed from GOP orthodoxy on numerous social and fiscal issues. And while Rudy and Mitt aren't the only candidates being grilled by conservative activists for less-than-conservative positions, it's a good starting point, even if much of Romano's piece is snarky in tone (which it is).
Mary Katharine Ham briefly chatted with CNN's Anderson Cooper and David Bohrman about tomorrow's CNN/YouTube debate and concerns about the agenda of questions that will be picked. For the whole thing, go here, but I just had to share this priceless gem (my emphasis in bold). First Ham's question, then Cooper's answer:
Q: There’s been a bit of scandal about the screening that CNN did on its “undecided voters” for the last Democratic debate. The diamonds-and-pearls question was attacked by the questioner herself. There were some allegations that several of the voters were in fact liberal activists on quite a few issues (and one Democratic Party operative). What’s the process for checking these YouTube questioners and their affiliations?
AC: “Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job...
Granted, the Washington Post's Style section can get away with lighter, fluffier fare than the A-section, but profiling a man who heads a $16,000-annual budget "youth rights" organization? That's exactly what staffer Linton Weeks presented Post readers with his November 27 Style section front pager, "Age Is Just a Number."
"Youth Rights Advocate Tries to Break Down Barriers to Adulthood," the subhead matter-of-factly declared of Alex Koroknay-Palicz, the 26-year-old executive director of the shoestring-budget National Youth Rights Association.
Although Weeks mentioned in passing that Koroknay-Palicz rents his office space from Common Cause, he failed to mention that organization's leftist bent.
Are voters sick of taxes? Gov. Chris Gregoire is worried enough about angry voters to call a special legislative session to reinstate I-747's tax limit.
That's how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website front page teased a November 26 story by state capitol correspondent Chris McGann. The bottom line is that the Democratic governor -- who eked out a narrow victory in 2004 after a drawn-out recount process -- has called the state legislature to convene on November 29 in a special session to address a court ruling that struck down I-747, a tax limitation measure that voters approved six years ago.
McGann found a politicial scientist and a Democratic state legislative leader to suggest that voters are not really all that steamed about high taxes. By contrast, McGann produced just one man, Tim Eyman, to suggest voters in Washington State are fed up with high taxes.
What's more, nowhere does McGann find any conservatives to suggest that Washington State voters might chafe at their legislators failing to do anything to address overreaching or judicial activism by the court that struck down a ballot initiative approved by the voters themselves.
Here's an excerpt of McGann's article, with portions in bold reflecting my emphasis.:
Consider yourselves warned. Should conservative and Republicans hold fast to strong stands on illegal immigration in the coming election year, and if they ultimately do well at the polls because of it, look for the Boston Globe to lament the tactic as a cynical "wedge issue," rather than a reaction to valid concerns from the electorate.
The Boston Globe editorial board may be sharpening their knives for the coming election season with a November 25 editorial, "A wedge issue for our times." The Globe laments that immigration is proving a "radioactive" issue and in one passage made an odd characterization of how Democratic New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's backpedaling on illegal immigrant drivers licenses "rescued" Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) from twisting in the wind over her contorted answer on the topic of licenses for illegals.
You know the drill. An elected Democrat gets in trouble with the law, and the party label might as well be in the witness protection program when it comes to some reporters at the AP. Now, in this particular case the infraction is minor --a traffic violation bearing a $75 fine -- but all the same writer Carla K. Johnson left out a Chicago congressman's party label in her November 23 story:
CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois congressman said he was a victim of racial profiling when police gave him a traffic ticket alleging he swerved over the center line.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, who is black, said he will go to traffic court to challenge the $75 ticket given to him early Monday by two white officers.
"I'm not one of these people who cry racism," Davis told The Associated Press on Friday. "I'm a person who believes in hard work and follows the rules."
Yesterday I noted that the Washington Post's John Wagner virtually cheered Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the Democratic Maryland General Assembly for its recently-concluded, tax-hiking special legislative session. Well today the hosannas migrated from the front page to the editorial one. The closing paragraphs are rather telling (emphasis mine):
Politically, Mr. O'Malley will have more than higher taxes to show for his gamble. The new revenue will not only close the deficit, it will also help to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, extend health-care coverage to 100,000 lower-income Marylanders, build public schools, and add facilities for state colleges and universities. In addition, and critically, the governor secured about $420 million in fresh annual revenue for transportation, the biggest infusion of new money in 15 years...
Teasing a story about the Supreme Court agreeing to hear an appeal concerning the Washington, D.C. handgun gun and whether it violates the 2nd Amendment's protection of an individual's right to keep and bear arms, CBSNews.com employed an ominous-looking graphic on its home page.
Pictured at right is the CBS/AP graphic showing in the foreground a right hand grasping a handgun, with an outline of the continental United States overlaid atop an American flag. Superimposed on the map and flag are the concentric circles of a shooting target. The corresponding story can be found here.
By contrast, ABCNews.com chose for its front page and story a graphic depicting a handgun beneath the seal of the United States Supreme Court (shown below the fold):
As we at NewsBusters have noticed, the media often pass off professional or semi-professional liberal activists as average Joes and Janes. The effect, of course, is to give a feel of authenticity to the problems, real or perceived, that these folks are struggling with, and often demand government intervention for.
So it's not surprising that the "undecided voters" in the recent Democratic debate in Vegas were often liberal activists. Bryan Preston of Hot Air looked into it. You can check out his blog entry here, or watch the embedded video posted above. (h/t Michelle Malkin)
Facing a budget shortfall due in large part to overspending in years past, Gov. Martin O'Malley called a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to consider a package of tax hikes and a referendum on legalizing slot machines. Now that the freshman Democratic governor has proven successful in pushing through both, the Washington Post congratulated O'Malley with a front page article replete with pats on the back and attaboys from O'Malley's fellow Democrats. The icing on the cake: a signing ceremony photograph (shown above*) of O'Malley that appears to show him pumping his fist in victory.
Staff writer John Wagner opened his November 20 article with triumphal language that painted O'Malley as a respected statesman:
It would be logical to most Americans that having openly gay adults supervising impressionable young boys under the age of consent might be a bad idea, setting aside moral or religious considerations. It would also be logical to most Americans that private organizations reserve every right to set membership standards on moral and/or religious considerations. And to most lay persons, it would seem downright un-American for any American city to evict the Boy Scouts of America, of all organizations, from city-owned property for what amounts to political correctness.
Yet in covering such a story in "Philadelphia Gives Boy Scouts Ultimatum," the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer paints the Scouts as "anti-homosexual" while failing to suggest the city's liberal Democratic politicians are "anti-Boy Scout."
Veteran Maryland political commentator, radio show host and White House correspondent Les Kinsolving often calls Maryland "The Land of Political Enchantment," and indeed the Old Line State never fails to enchant natives and outsiders alike with its bizarre --William Donald Schaefer comes to mind-- and often corrupt politicos.
Yet although the state is famously blue-hued with an overwhelmingly Democratic General Assembly, you can count on the media to ignore the party affiliation of Democratic state legislators who run afoul of the law.
Such was the case with the Associated Press today ignoring former state senator Thomas Bromwell's Democratic Party affiliation. AP follows the Washington Post's lead (see my July 24 article) in ignoring Bromwell's party connections.
The November 13 article in question by writer Enrique Andres Pretel dealt with how Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is demanding an apology from Spain's King Juan Carlos. The Spanish monarch snapped at Chavez that he should "just shut up," when the latter was railing about former conservative Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist." Chavez received a rebuke, albeit less pointed, from the current prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a Socialist.
Chavez has a history of impolitic moments on the international stage, such as last year when he called President Bush "the devil" in a speech before the United Nations.
All the same, Reuters writer Pretel found Chavez to be a folksy, funny guy:
TVNewser has an item today about MSNBC's David Shuster blasting Rudy Giuliani and Fox News brass while announcing a lawsuit involving the rival news channel (h/t Ian Schwartz):
This is how MSNBC's David Shuster, who once worked for FNC, reported the story in the 9amET hour:
"This is bad news, perhaps not just for Rudy Giuliani, but also for Fox News Channel. Roger Ailes who is in charge of Fox News, a close friend of Rupert Murdoch, he's been close friends with Rudy Giuliani for 20 years. Fox News commentator Sean Hannity led a Giuliani fund-raiser."
"Here you have a $100 million lawsuit in which Judith Regan is alleging that there was a smear campaign against her to protect the political agenda of Fox News of News Corp. and that that political agenda was to protect Rudy Giuliani"
In an Andy Rooneyesque rant about how his latest movie-going experience "left much to be desired," CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller hinted he wouldn't mind seeing liberal consumers groups tackle hefty snack prices at the nation's movie theaters. He even suggested the short titles for two bills Congress could draft on that front.
From Knoller's November 12 Couric & Co. blog post (emphasis mine):
The fact is, most movie theaters are glorified snack bars. On average, they keep only 50% or less of the ticket price, far less for blockbusters in their opening weeks. Much of a theater’s profit comes from the concession stand.
Regal, one of the nation’s largest multiplex chains, reported the 3rd quarter profit margin at its snack bars exceeded 86%.
And the markup – especially on popcorn – is eye-popping. The Los Angeles Times last year calculated that just $30 of raw popcorn can translate into as much as $3,000 in sales at the snack bar.
That sounds like a markup that would make the oil industry blush.
Both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney gave speeches honoring military veterans on November 11, Veterans Day. Yet rather than take a short breather from his usual rants about the Bush administration to celebrate veterans' service and sacrifice, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann chose to portray the president as a callous commander-in-chief for not laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.
But a review of the principal speakers over the history of the wreath-laying and accompanying speech shows that U.S. presidents often send other dignitaries (such as the Vice President or Secretary of Defense) to perform the honor of laying the wreath and addressing the assembled audience in the adjacent amphitheater.
It's a few steps shy of proclaiming, "Gun Ban an Abject Failure at Curbing Crime," but today's Washington Post Metro did trumpet on the front of its November 13 Metro section that the 31-year old D.C. handgun ban has not proven to be a crime deterrent.
With his somewhat subdued headline, "Crime Data Underscore Limits of D.C. Gun Ban's Effectiveness," staff writer Paul Duggan unearthed the political calculus for the 1976 gun ban, as well as the Post's role as chief journalistic cheerleader for the law the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found unconstitutional earlier this year.
In making by far their boldest public policy decision, the District's first elected officials wanted other jurisdictions, especially neighboring states, to follow the lead of the nation's capital by enacting similar gun restrictions, cutting the flow of firearms into the city from surrounding areas.
"We were trying to send out a message," recalled Sterling Tucker (D), the council chairman at the time.
Nadine Winters (D), also a council member then, said, "My expectation was that this being Washington, it would kind of spread to other places, because these guns, there were so many of them coming from Virginia and Maryland."
Duggan quotes other politicians who eagerly supported, and continue to support the ban, noting that at the time even they admitted the ban would do nothing to make citizens safer (emphasis mine):
A red meat speech to Gwinnett County, Georgia, Democrats was cause for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Rhonda Cook to whip up a 15-paragraph Max Cleland press release just in time for Veteran's Day. Not once were any Georgia Republicans quoted for balance in Cook's November 11 story, as the former senator and Vietnam veteran thundered about impending doom for Republicans both nationwide an in Georgia in 2008. But particularly offensive was how Cook uncritically relayed a tired, discredited liberal Democratic meme that Cleland was ousted from office in 2002 thanks to an ad questioning his love of country:
Democrats were especially angered by Cleland's loss to Saxby Chambliss five years ago because of an 11th-hour television ad in which the Republican challenger questioned the incumbent's patriotism.
Of course, Democrats and longtime Cleland supporters are welcome to think anything they want about the ads that questioned Cleland's voting record, but it's not objectively accurate, and neither Cook nor the AJC should uncritically further the Democratic talking point.
This is hardly the first time liberals have played the Max Cleland-as-a-victim-of-McCarthyism card. National Review's Rich Lowry capably addressed this three years ago (emphasis mine):
As the mainstream media often accentuate the negative in the Iraq War -- see Newsweek's latest photo essay -- independent journalist Michael Yon's latest photograph (pictured at right) is highly unlikely to grace the cover of any major liberally-biased newsmagazine.
Yet the picture of Muslim and Christian Iraqis working together to affix a cross atop St. John's Church in Baghdad is creating buzz throughout the blogosphere on sites such as Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, and the Anchoress as a sign of everyday progress -- not just militarily but in the battle for the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.
Here are some of the Anchoress's thoughts on the matter:
It’s one of those photographs that takes the breath - there is a feeling of cognitive dissonance. Some of us on one side - who perhaps have never understood why we went to Iraq in the first place - may look at this picture and say, “but…but…Iraq is a hell-hole, an unmanageable, unwinnable, place of civil strife, death and occupied people who hate us!”
Some of us on the other side, who - overwhelmed with images of burned flags and screaming mobs - may have forgotten the humanity of the Iraqi people (people we let down once before, and who had reason to distrust us and our commitment) may see these Muslims and Christians raising a cross together, in a language of brotherhood and gratitude, and say, “but…but…all those people are bad people…”
I'm sure as a concerned social observer, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric may genuinely think we as a society are too addicted to TV. That said, I can't help but feel that her persistent third-place status in the broadcast evening news race is part and parcel of her Andy Rooney-Lite rant against the boob tube. Here's the November 7 page from Katie Couric's "Notebook" (see video here):
This week in Newsweek, writer Allison Wood complains about seeing television everywhere, and I think we're on the same wavelength.
It's in your living room, the kitchen, the bedroom. Leave home and hail a taxi, it's there too. A lot of cabs now have little TV screens bombarding you with news and weather as you head to wherever you're going.
It's arguably not as explosive as rigging trucks to explode in vintage "Dateline NBC" fashion but it seems ABC News may be using phony gay couples to gin up an incendiary story that plays on the media's preconceived storyline about intolerance and "homophobia" in conservative parts of America, particularly the South. Here's an excerpt from Michelle Malkin:
When you don’t feel like covering the news, you manfacture it. Remember the story I broke last spring about NBC News engineering a sting at NASCAR to try and expose fans as anti-Muslim bigots? Well, it looks like the dinosaur networks haven’t learned from the embarrassing backlash to that pathetic episode. Or Rathergate. Or Shattered Glass. Or Janet Cooke. Or Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Etc. etc. etc.
Update (Nov. 8 | 13:00 EST): International and Beijing Olympic officials are denying any such Bible ban exists. Click here for the story.
"Olympic agencies of the free world shouldn't tolerate this kind of intolerance. But will the media notice?" NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham asked in a Sunday blog post, referring to a November 2 Catholic News Agency article reporting the Communist Chinese government's plan to bar athletes from bringing Bibles along with their other personal effects in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Unfortunately, a full four days after the CNA article, it seems major print and television media have ignored the story. A Nexis search of major newspapers from November 2-6 yielded no stories on the matter. Ditto with a search of ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts, as well as a search of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
A notable exception to the general media silence: Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. Just after the half-hour mark to his November 6 program the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" covered the controversy as he interviewed evangelist Bill Keller, who is urging the United States government to boycott next year's Summer Games should China not repeal the policy.
Cavuto and Keller noted that the Koran, unlike the Bible, was not similarly on the censorship list.
Displayed prominently on the home page for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Web site at 12:30 Tuesday afternoon was this tease for a story about a local politician in hot water for crude remarks to a colleague:
GOP lawmaker punished Minority House Republicans have severely disciplined a Vancouver lawmaker for inappropriate remarks to a female staffer.
The link takes readers to AP writer Curt Woodward's story, "House GOP member punished for remark to woman aide," in which we learn in the lead paragraph that "Minority House Republicans" in the Washington state House of Representatives, "already reeling from a sex scandal that prompted one member to quit, have severely disciplined a Vancouver lawmaker for inappropriate remarks to a female staffer."
On Monday, President Bush honored a Cuban political prisoner, author Harper Lee, and former congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), along with five others in a Medal of Freedom ceremony. Yet while Washington Post Foreign Service staffer Nora Boustany led her November 6 article with a focus on the Castro-imprisoned Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Post headline writers slapped a bland headline on the story, "Cuban Doctor Among Eight Honored at White House."
That's hardly an enticing attention grabber for your average Post reader flipping through page A14 while hunched over his corn flakes.
What did America ever do to deserve a major evening news anchor who's afraid of [driving in] the dark?
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric has a fresh reason to be anxious this fall: more time spent driving in the dark thanks to daylight saving time ending. Here's the tease to her video in a November 2 "Couric & Co." blog post:
Due to Daylight Saving Time this weekend, many drivers will have an extra hour of dark to face on their commute home. And that can be dangerous.
Of course, it's hardly new for Couric to champion petty anxieties on her vlog. In April, Couric used her Notebook segment to clang alarm bells about kids not knowing how to use the library. Her ghostwriter at the time, CBSNews.com's Melissa McNamara, was fired for plagiarizing a Wall Street Journal columnist in the script Couric read from, according to the New York Sun.
Update (Nov. 7 | 10:49): The folks over at the satirical NewsGroper have a "response" from Katie Couric. Enjoy (mild content warning for language).