Update (17:35): Paul Colford with AP e-mailed me with an updated obit posted at 14:40 EST that had more information. See more at bottom of the post.
Philip Agee, a leftist who exposed fellow CIA operatives by name in a book he published in the 1970s has died in Cuba. Agee's perfidy was one reason Congress in 1982 passed the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. If that doesn't ring a bell, that's precisely the law that Bush administration critics charged Karl Rove and/or Scooter Libby violated in the "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
Yet while the Plame case was a media obsession for roughtly four years, the AP's Will Weissert buried that detail deep in its January 9 obituary. What's more, the wire service practically painted Agee's defection to Cuba as retirement from CIA work to the private sector:
The Clinton and McCain victories in New Hampshire were topic A on the network morning shows today, so I thought we'd compile a montage video of the teases that the "Early Show," "Good Morning America," and "Today" ran.
The horserace coverage and media spin about Clinton's comeback notwithstanding, she actually trails Barack Obama right now where it really counts, in the number of delegates (her 24 to his 25) to the Democratic Convention.
John Hinderaker at Powerline notes the delegate count, numbers that the media rarely discuss when the dust settles on hyped primaries:
New Hampshire was a big win for John McCain and a serious setback for Mitt Romney. But do last night's results mean that Romney is finished? Not at all. In fact, he is the current leader on the Republican side in delegates, as tabulated by CNN.
Turns out on the Republican side, McCain has a meager 10 delegates compared to Huckabee's 18 and Romney's 24.
Given that and the fact that McCain was helped by crossover votes from liberal independents that he cannot count on in closed primary states, the media would do well to note McCain's challenge to run to the right in order to sew up the nomination, rather than take his victory in New Hampshire as a sign that's he's the new front-runner.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is proposing a new insurance surcharge to plug a budget gap that conservative critics are calling a tax. And objectively speaking, it really is a tax. But the L.A. Times was careful to avoid attributing the T-word to the idea.
Here's the teaser from the Times Web site's front page:
Gov. urges levy on insuranceBy Marc Lifsher and Evan HalperPlan calls for 1.25% assessment on all residential and commercial property policies to fund firefighting. Foes call it a tax.
Chicago Tribune Public Editor Timothy J. McNulty addressed reader discontent over his paper's decision to include in its January 6 paper that week's syndicated Parade magazine insert featuring an outdated cover story and interview with the late Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The story was written and the magazine published days before Bhutto's murder.
McNulty shared some reader e-mails as well as feedback from Tribune editors, making a point to emphasize that the Trib has no control over Parade's editing nor publication schedule and that the Trib did include an editor's note in the paper about the outdated nature of the Parade insert.
But while McNulty did a good job dealing with this particular controversy, he failed to look at a larger issue that the Parade incident fleshes out: the logistical and editorial weaknesses of traditional print media in a 24/7 news cycle, and how that could push more news consumers away from print and towards online media.
Forget the label "old media," the Parade distribution model in this case seems jurassic, woefully outdated given the nature of the modern news cycle, and particularly so if the Sunday magazine wishes to report on anything of global political import rather than say Hollywood fluff.
Because the Trib's handling of the matter seems ham-handed, it also calls into question the relevance and reliability of newspaper print editions in an unforgiving, 24/7 media universe that's becoming more and more dominated by Internet-based media.
One has to wonder if Robin Givhan is still atoning for what the Left perceives as a grievous sin against Hillary Clinton: expressing distaste for Hillary Clinton showing a bit of cleavage on the Senate floor. How else can you explain the fashion critic's January 8 Style section front-pager gushing over Hillary's emotional moment at a campaign event in New Hampshire yesterday (emphasis mine):
For a brief moment at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., Hillary Clinton let slip a glimpse of uncontrolled emotion. In response to a question from an empathetic voter who wondered how she remains upbeat and "so wonderful," Clinton's voice cracked as she conceded that the nonstop campaigning -- and all it entails -- is not easy.
Of course, as fellow NewsBuster and Business & Media Institute staff writer Jeff Poor notes, it's highly unprofessional and misleading for media outlets to gin up fears of recession this early (emphasis mine).:
Pollster Frank Luntz has some 'splainin' to do writes Michelle Malkin, who has a post with video about one Granite State gentleman who's shown up in more than one Luntz focus group.
New Hampshire's a small state, but c'mon:
Yep. I think Frank Luntz, not any of the campaigns, is the one who needs to answer the questions about who Mr. Undecided is–and how he managed to end up in both focus groups. Transparency about how all of the people in the room ended up there would be wise.
A few months after cheering Martin O'Malley's successful push for tax hikes, the Washington Post's John Wagner is lamenting the Democratic governor may have to settle for a "modest" agenda in 2008 due to budget constraints.
Don't hold your breath for similar concern about everyday Marylanders and how they may have to settle for more modest spending thanks to tax hikes, particularly a boost in the sales tax to six percent from five percent.
Update (Jan. 7 | 14:30): This was mentioned earlier in the comments thread. You can see Maher's offensive comments beginning about 1:35 into the video posted on YouTube here.
Appearing on the Friday "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," comedian Bill Maher took repeated swipes at the Republican Party and conservatives as idiotic, bigoted, homophobic, you know, all the usual epithets.
Although his material was registering mostly nervous laughter from the audience, Maher plunged further into his assault on traditional values, attacking Christians, particularly Catholics, by insisting that one has to be "schizophrenic" to go about life normally for six days a week only to, on the seventh go to church and believe that when drinking communion wine one is drinking "the blood of a 2,000-year old space god."
Now that whiter-than-Wonder-bread Iowa has punched Barack Obama a first-class ticket to New Hampshire, can the mainstream media, particularly the New York Times, shut up about whether America is ready for a black president? That's what Michelle Malkin rhetorically asked on her blog before giving readers the answer.
Well, it looks like the answer is no. No, the MSM won’t stop yammering about un-diverse white voters. Here’s the NYTimes editorial this morning, right on cue as I predicted, clamoring for an end to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary by zeroing in on its lack of, you guessed it, racial diversity:
Here's a story from the Miami Herald that's worth keeping track of for coverage in the larger mainstream media, particularly the networks. I highly doubt this story will be a priority for the MSM, although I'm sure conservative bloggers and perhaps immigration reform activists will make sure the American people become aware of it:
Hundreds of wannabe truckers took a detour on the way to the DMV and got bogus commercial driver's licenses, thanks to an Army National Guard sergeant.
Friday morning, authorities threw up the stop sign.
In a series of early morning raids throughout Miami-Dade County Friday, authorities from federal, state and local agencies arrested five people they say obtained licenses fraudulently. Two others were taken into custody later.
A frequent lament I've heard in conservative circles is that we're not as good at using the Internet to promote our message as the Left is. Of course, that fear may be a bit overblown to begin. After all, 2007 saw some marked success in conservative blogs growing in readership while liberal ones stagnated according to Simon Owens of Bloggasm:
It has long been understood that the largest liberal blogs have generally produced more web traffic than the largest conservative blogs. But I have noticed a general trend over the past few months that I didn’t want to write about until the end of the year. After surveying the traffic stats of many major political blogs, I found that web traffic for several major liberal blogs either declined sharply or stayed the same while major conservative blogs saw a sharp increase in traffic.
It's bound to be overlooked by the media at-large in large part due to the Iowa caucuses, but a court ruling that burdens the U.S. Navy with yet another environmentally-driven restriction was handed down from a federal district court judge yesterday. That judge, the Hon. Florence-Marie Cooper, is a Clinton appointee, a fact unreported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Robert McClure (emphasis mine):
A federal judge forbade the Navy on Thursday from using a powerful form of sonar within 12 miles of the California coast and slapped other restrictions on naval war exercises in a ruling that could have repercussions in the Pacific Northwest.
U.S. District Judge Florence Marie-Cooper [sic] said noise from the Navy's midfrequency sonar far outstrips levels at which federal rules require ear protection for humans on the job. Whales' hearing is extremely sensitive.
"The court is persuaded that the (protection) scheme proposed by the Navy is grossly inadequate to protect marine mammals from debilitating levels of sonar exposure," Marie-Cooper wrote in her ruling.
The Navy offered to reduce the sonar's intensity when whales approached within about 1,100 yards and power down further before shutting the sonar off when the creatures got within 200 yards. The judge ordered sonar shut off when marine mammals are within 2,200 yards.
Alright, so Hillary Clinton bills herself as better suited for the Oval O because she has foreign policy experience, plus eight years as First Lady. And we all remember that then-Gov. George W. Bush was mocked in 1999 for not knowing who the military dictator of Pakistan is.
So why the media silence on Hillary Clinton's goof in thinking that Pervez Musharraf is up for election in Pakistan? In fact the elections that were scheduled for January 8 prior to Benazir Bhutto's assassination are parliamentary elections.
TVNewser has learned the CBS News blog PublicEye, once described as a "de facto ombudsman" of CBS News, has ceased operations. CBS Interactive cut several staff members last month, including Matthew Felling who was editor of the site.
A spokesperson for CBS Interactive tells TVNewser, "We weren't able to find a sustainable business model for Public Eye. We are exploring ways to maintain a similar spirit of public discourse by engaging the CBSNews.com audience and building a community around multiple voices."
Launched July 12, 2005, PublicEye stated its "fundamental mission" was "to bring transparency to the editorial operations of CBS News."
The return to opacity is unfortunate just as election '08 heats up. After all, it was former anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes and their obsessive adherence to discredited phony National Guard memos in 2004 that set the wheels in motion to provide CBS News consumers an advocate and watchdog in the form of PublicEye.
That's not to say, however, that Public Eye has exactly lived up to its defined mission. A review of NewsBusters archives yields evidence of that:
Last year's most bizarre and famously icky sex scandal was, of course, Senator Larry Craig's airport bathroom incident, in which the Idaho Republican was alleged to have been soliciting homosexual sex from an undercover cop. Suffice it to say no one who came across the story could walk away without knowing Craig's party affiliation, and in some cases his record as a conservative with some libertarian-friendly stances.
So how did the Associated Press's Bill Poovey treat a former Democratic Tennessee judge with an arguably nastier, kinkier, more disturbing sexual predilection? Not one mention of John B. Hagler's Democratic Party affiliation in Poovey's 23-paragraph January 2 story, even though the judge's sex fantasy recording sure spooked at least one veteran police officer (emphasis mine, h/t NB reader Chris Mario):
First, it goes without saying that Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy is entitled to his opinion as well, a columnist. So my gripe here isn't so much about liberal bias as it is about Milloy's insistence on projecting a politically correct pall, in the heat of playoff season, over the ONE thing that can unite Washingtonians across party lines. Our beloved Redskins.
Is it asking too much for the liberal Post columnist to refrain from resurrecting a fringe PC issue a mere three days after the Redskins clinched a playoff berth, and that while playing the despised Dallas Cowboys?
In: preachy AIDS activism on the peacock network's "ER."
Reports Los Angeles Times writer Greg Braxton in the the January 2 paper (emphasis mine):
Gloria Reuben raised more than a few eyebrows in 2000 when she went from the front lines of NBC's acclaimed "ER" to the back line of Tina Turner's rock 'n' roll tour. Now she's starting the new year by stepping forward into her past.
Reuben, who won accolades for her groundbreaking portrayal of Jeanie Boulet, a physician's assistant grappling with an HIV diagnosis, returns to the role Thursday night. She called the experience, which is being billed as a one-time appearance, both emotional and exhilarating.
On the December 18 "Studio B," Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith blasted an idea being floated by liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) to slap a new tax on stores that sell soda. It makes for great video, especially given Shep's penchant for leaning left on global warming.
Of course, Shep did also hint that he thinks it would be better to outlaw tobacco rather than add so-called sin taxes on it. All the same, it makes for fun video as Shep wonders if sugary gum or comfortable mattresses will be taxed next for their alleged contributions to the "obesity epidemic."
Imagine for a moment that the FBI raided televangelist Pat Robertson's office for any reason whatsoever, much less say his 1988 presidential campaign. It'd be a story in the broadcast evening news programs, right?
So why the utter lack of interest in the December 12 federal probe into Al Sharpton's 2004 campaign? A review of Nexis for ABC, NBC, and CBS network news stories for December 12-18 yielded nothing on a December 13 FBI raid.
Here's an excerpt from the AP's reporting from December 13:
"Does Bill Clinton want his wife to win this thing?" Chris Matthews teased as he opened the December 17 "Hardball." After all, the former president, Matthews added later, was full of "chutzpah" and "a total card shark" in his December 14 interview with Charlie Rose.
Clinton told Rose essentially that Barack Obama should take a page from his decision not to run for president in 1988. The former president told Rose he concluded an '88 run was unwise due to his lack of political experience. Neither Matthews, nor guests Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Linda Douglass of National Journal were buying it.
What is it with Hollywood liberals and their penchant for messing with my childhood heroes by making them shills for liberal storylines. First "GI Joe." Then "Knight Rider." What's next, "The A-Team"? Maybe. (h/t Perez Hilton)
Variety reported yesterday that John Singleton is on board to direct a silver screen adaptation of the 1980s TV action drama "The A-Team." This time it sounds like oil company executives may end up being the bad guys.
Any time a major newspaper reports on gun buyback gimmicks, the reporter penning the story would do well to explore practical as well as ideological criticisms of such a program.
After all, gun buybacks do virtually nothing to prevent criminals from gaining access to weapons, and absolutely nothing to cause criminals to part company with their weapons. As such, the money spent on these programs is a waste of money and police resources, something that's especially true when the guns being discarded are owned by people who reside outside the jurisdiction running the program.
Yet that was of no concern to reporter Delphine Schrank in her December 16 piece in the Washington Post, "Police Net 279 Firearms with Buybac." Schrank's 16-paragraph article sounded like a press release for the city's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), painting a win-win scenario with the gun buyback. An eeeeevil handgun is turned over to be destroyed, and the owner gets a fistful of spending cash:
Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at 7:25 a.m. to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.): "Senator, we've been talking about this all morning. Mitt Romney teared up on 'Meet the Press' over the weekend. I don't know if you saw it, what you thought of it. Do you ever tear up? When was the last time?"
Kiran Chetry, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning" at 7:36 a.m.: "We saw Mitt Romney tear up on one of the other networks the other day. What makes you tear up, if anything?"
Both times Clinton answered with the same joke about tearing up this morning when she had had to wake up at the wee hour of 4 a.m. to get ready for the morning show chats. Both times she remarked she doesn't know how they do it. Both times the journalists in question thanked Clinton for her pander, er, candor. No, it was definitely the first one.
Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell served up a flimsy excuse to a concerned reader wondering why the Post doesn't have Post staffers reporting on the Bilal Hussein controversy, rather than just running AP wire stories. Hussein worked for AP as a photographer.
Blogger Scott Johnson shared the reader's e-mail and Howell's reply, then added that even if one accepts Howell's excuse, there's no reason Post media reporter Howard Kurtz couldn't track developments in the story.
I'm caffeinated and ready to blog. I'll focus mostly on the questions from the moderator, Carolyn Washburn. I'm watching the feed from Fox News Channel.
Here goes nothin':
15:25 | Debate's over. Thought it'd never end. Washburn seemed much more at ease with the Democrats, as well as looser with the time constraints. I don't believe she ever cut anyone off, for example. The questions generally tacked to the left. The series of questions pressing the candidates on character issues was promising on paper but seemed uneven. Her question to Clinton on secrecy was soft. The question to Biden about his ill-advised jokes about Indians owning Dunkin Donut shops was good, but Hillary Clinton made similar comments about Indians and gas stations, which went unmentioned.
15:22 | Washburn: "What are the lessons from Iowa?"
15:20 | Richardson resolves to lose weight. Well, he could ask Huckabee about that policy plank.
15:17 | Washburn: "Tell us your New Year's resolution for 2008."
15:15 | Washburn asks about the use of signing statements when signing legislation.