Consider two different public figures, with different backgrounds, and different organizations, and associated in the public mind with different political parties. Neither speaks for the party that the public associates them with, and both are relatively marginal public figures.
Pat Robertson is an evangelical preacher best known as the host of "The 700 Club." In 1988, he was one of the large group running for the Republican presidential nomination. He's a political conservative, associated in the public mind with the Republican party, and generally a marginal figure. The vast majority of Republicans do not consider Pat Robertson to speak for them.
Julian Bond is a former Democratic representative in Georgia and a long-time civil rights activist. He has been, for the past seven years, the chairman of the NAACP, the largest civil rights organization in the country, an organization that is overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats, an organization which virtually all Democratic public officials treat with great respect at all times.
The Boston Globe is not exactly breaking news on its front page this morning, running a story in which they found "legal specialists" who were willing to call the President a liar. This matches, of course, the general position of the Boston Globe on the Bush administration, so these specialists are credible and believable, and warrant front-page mention.
Legal specialists yesterday questioned the accuracy of President Bush's sweeping contentions about the legality of his domestic spying program, particularly his assertion in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that "previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have."
Well, we've now got the AP's analysis on the President's State Of The Union address tonight, and it is nothing if not predictable. Frankly, one wonders whether Ron Fournier even bothered to wait until the speech had started, never mind ended, before producing this news analysis.
The state of the union is fretful. President Bush acknowledged the public's agitated state Tuesday night when he gave voice to growing concerns about the course of the nation he has led for five years.
His credibility no longer the asset it once was, the president begged Americans' indulgence for another chance to fix things.
The Washington Post has chosen to run on their opinion page this morning, in advance of tonight's State Of The Union Address, an apparent attempt at humor from someone named David Atkins. It's a mocking, snarky piece, that is, unfortunately for the Post, not close enough to reality to actually be funny. Written in the first person voice of President Bush, though strangely lacking in malaprop and grammatical errors, it purports to be a "fact-check" on things in the SOTU that aren't strictly accurate. Some of the "highlights" include:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has alerted me that the line, "No person is above the law" should instead be "One person is above the law." My comment that "we have carefully listened to critics of our domestic surveillance program" should have read "listened in on..."
On Monday, President Bush gave a speech and took questions at Kansas State University. It's been a couple of days, and the last wire stories on that have probably been written. So it's interesting to look and see what the Associated Press thought was newsworthy about the speech.
First, they ran a story from Jennifer Loven, which focused on the NSA's surveillance program.
President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a "terrorist surveillance program" and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court.
Notice that the term "domestic spying effort" is used to describe the program, while the phrase "terrorist surveillance program" is in quotes, emphasizing that, while the President may want to call it a "terrorist surveillance program," the AP knows that it is actually a "domestic spying effort."
Bush's remarks were part of an aggressive administration campaign to defend the four-year-old program as a crucial and legal terror-fighting tool. The White House is trying to sell its side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on it in two weeks.
An "aggressive administration campaign" to "sell its side of the story." Maybe, just maybe, that's necessary, because the stories that have been published have only told the other side. Certainly, the AP, in this story, has emphasized that they don't think that the President's characterization is accurate. They've implicitly called him a liar by continuing to call the program "domestic spying" when the White House has repeatedly pointed out the inaccuracy of the term.
In any event, there was another AP story from the KSU event, a non-bylined story which focused on the President's assertion that "the war on terror is an 'ideological struggle'," and appears to have been mostly written before the speech occurred.
On CBS, The Early Show opened this morning with a discussion of the NSA's electronic surveillance program on Al-Qaeda suspects that it continues to call "domestic spying." It was the first item teased at the open. Rene Syler:
Using the National Security Agency as a backdrop, President Bush today will once again defend his domestic spying program as vital to the war on terror.
Less than a minute later, as they introduced the various stories they'd be covering, it was mentioned again. Julie Chen:
As we noted, President Bush has been defending his covert program to spy on Americans, and we'll have the latest on that in just a moment.
It really is amusing, on occasion, to watch the mainstream press go after non-stories that could make the President look bad. The latest example comes from Time Magazine, all worked up about the fact that there are allegedly pictures showing President Bush with Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the center of a congressional lobbying scandal. And the AP has decided that Time's non-story is news.
Bush himself has said that he doesn't recall meeting Abramoff.
Both Washingtonian and Time magazines have reported the existence of about a half-dozen photos showing the two together, however.
The President met at the White House today with Iraqi victims of the regime of Saddam Hussein. After spending an hour or so with the victims, and families of victims, he allowed the press in for a couple of minutes. The AP decided that the most worthy piece of information on the day, the thing that belonged in the headline, was the fact that the President either mispronounced or stumbled on the word 'butcher.' They highlighted that fact in their headline, Bush Meets Victims of 'Butcherer' Saddam.
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying that "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Whether it's an actual Churchill quote or not, I'm not certain. I am certain, however, that it's an apt description of the Associated Press. They are, and have been, obsessed with the Bush administration's war on terrorism, and have repeatedly gone out of their way to drag in unrelated items to use as clubs against the Bush administration. I tire of writing that "the AP is at it again," but the AP is at it again.
This morning's AP article on the Alito hearings from yesterday is actually fairly straight, at least by the Associated Press' normal standards. But there are still examples of typical AP anti-conservative bias.
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said Tuesday he would deal with the issue of abortion with an open mind as a justice, though he defended his 1991 judicial vote saying women seeking abortions must notify their husbands.
In the first place, the construction of that sentence clearly implies that he won't deal with the issue with an open mind. Basically what they've written is Alito "said" he'd do this, but he defended the time when he did that. Secondly, they've have, yet again, misconstrued what happened in 1991. This is not the first time. He did not say that "women seeking abortions must notify their husbands." The state of Pennsylvania did. All he said was that, according to the Supreme Court's precedents on the issue, the state was constitutionally allowed to do so.
Alito pledged in 1990 that he would recuse himself from cases involving the Vanguard companies. Some Alito opponents say his participation in a 2002 Vanguard case raises doubts about his fitness for the Supreme Court. Alito holds six-figure investments with Vanguard. "If I had to do it over again there are things that I would do differently," said Alito, although he also said he did nothing wrong.
As do all of the legal ethicists who have been asked about it. It was interesting to watch Senator Hatch walk him through the issue, as the completely answered the question about what had happened, how he'd taken the case without recusal, and what happened later (he urged the court to vacate the opinion, and have the case re-heard by a new panel. This was done, with the same unanimous result.) He also instituted new procedures in his office to prevent the situation from arising again. "Some...opponents" may think the case raises doubts, but an unbiased reading of the situation suggests, as the AP does not, that those opponents oppose Alito for other reasons and are raising this non-issue in a purely political attempt to defeat the nomination.
He defended his 2004 dissent in which he supported the strip search of a 10-year-old girl, explaining that his interpretation was based on "common sense" that a warrant included searches of anyone on the premises of a drug suspect.
"Supported" is loaded language. It makes it sound as if he were standing there watching the search with pom-poms. He didn't "support" the search, he merely determined that a police officer could reasonably have taken the search warrant to allow that search. That doesn't sound nearly so sinister, though, does it?
One of the central political issues facing the American People over the past few years, and certain to be one in the next few, is the issue over whether or not governments are required to recognize same-sex relationships in the same manner that marriages are recognized. Ground-zero in that debate, and one of the places where that discussion has joined arm-in-arm with the debate over judicial activism, is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In November of 2003, in the case of Goodridge v. Massachusetts, the Commonwealth's Supreme Judicial Court ruled on a 4-3 vote that the state constitution required that the institution of marriage be extended to same-sex relationships. I'm not aware of any public opinion surveys which show a majority of the people of Massachusetts agreeing with or supporting that decision, but it is now the law in Massachusetts anyway.
One of the entities which has been strongly supportive of that decision, however, is the Boston Globe. The largest media entity in New England, it is referred to in some circles as the "all-gay, all-the-time Boston Globe" because it is clearly an entity with an agenda. Unfortunately for the news consumers in New England, that agenda isn't confined to the editorial pages. I've mentioned it before, a couple of times, on front-page stories that don't warrant the front-page on any news judgement other than mainstreaming same-sex marriage.
In an amazingly influential way, the New York Times article on NSA intelligence gathering last week has touched off a feeding frenzy in the press, where every outlet is rushing to get out their stories about how the Bush administration is violating the rights of average American citizens in their paranoid fantasy about terrorist enemies. The latest entry comes from U.S. News & World Report as they reveal, in news that's sure to shock America, that the government is actually taking concerns about possible nuclear terrorism seriously.
In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned.
(Down at the bottom of the piece, we find out that "officials... reject any notion that the program specifically has targeted Muslims. Which means that they're either lying, or putting political correctness ahead of efficiency.) In any event, this is obviously a bad thing.
Oh, you don't think it's obviously a bad thing? Well, read further.
The Associated Press is very good at what it does. It's just a shame that straight news reporting isn't it.
They've run a piece this morning (Lawmakers Hasten to Return Abramoff Gifts) dealing with lobbyist and equal-opportunity crook Jack Abramoff. Regular AP readers will remember that when Abramoff was indicted back in August the AP story mentioned one congressman by name, Republican Tom Delay, and they mentioned him 5 times. Despite the fact that Abramoff has given money to many congresspeople of both party, the Republican Delay got mentioned, and no one else.
Well, they're at it again. (H/T to Michelle Malkin). Today's AP story makes it seem, again, as if Abramoff gave, or steered, contributions to Republicans, and to Republicans alone. They start with a quote from the President:
This week, President Bush said it seemed to him that Abramoff "was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties."
According to the worldview of the mainstream press, there are really two kinds of people in the world - normal people who hold normal views, and conservatives, who hold abnormal views. There's a front-page story in Today's Boston Globe that demonstrates this, yet again. The news story ("State to push abstinence in schools") addresses a plan proposed by the Romney administration to utilize federal funds for an abstinence-only plan in certain schools where there are believed to be higher levels of sexual activity. <1--break-->
The Romney administration plans to introduce a new abstinence education program in Massachusetts schools beginning next month, the state's most aggressive effort yet to use a controversial method of teaching Bay State teenagers about sex.
Right off the bat, first sentence, we find out that the method is controversial. And reading the piece, you discover that it's controversial because...well, apparently, because it's being pushed by conservatives.
Like abortion and gay rights, sex education -- and abstinence specifically -- is an important social issue to conservatives around the country, whom Romney would have to court if he runs for president in 2008. But the administration's decision promises to revive a fight in Massachusetts over how to teach sex education.
If there's a fight over "how to teach sex education," who are the participants? Conservatives are mentioned. No one else. Apparently the other side is non-ideological. Ladies and gentleman, this is a textbook example of lying by telling a piece of the truth. Is it debatable that, to the extent there is a "fight...over how to teach sex education" in this country, it was started not by the conservatives, who were happy not to have it in the schools, but by liberals? But there aren't any liberals, not in the Boston Globe's world-view.
And there's more. The funds would be used, according to Romney's spokesman, "in addition to comprehensive sex education programs already in place," but the article appears, after running the quote, to ignore it completely.
Margaret Friedenauer is a reporter for the Fairbanks News-Miner, and is currently embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Iraq. In addition to whatever reporting she's producing for the newspaper, she's also blogging her experiences. Yesterday, she put up an interesting entry on "The view from on the ground" which was enlightening in ways she intended, and also in ways that I don't think she intended. It dealt with the situation on the ground in Iraq, and the comment she had was that "everything I thought I knew was wrong."
The big news story from Iraq yesterday was the suicide bombing in Mahmudiya which killed 31 people. The Washington Post story makes it clear what the "insurgents" are really doing:
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
Chris Matthews has never pretended that he's an unbiased journalist. He's a former aide to Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Speaker of the House of Representatives during the 1980s. His show, Hardball, developed an audience during the late 1990s, as he was one of the few liberal pundits not to accept the Clinton spin, for the most part, during the scandal-ridden 2nd Clinton term. But he's still a liberal, and he's made some utterly outrageous comments over the border in Canada, as reported in the Toronto Sun.
"The period between 9/11 and Iraq was not a good time for America. There wasn't a robust discussion of what we were doing," Matthews said.
I don't know what he was watching during that 18 month period, but I remember quite a lot of what I'd consider a "robust discussion" of what was happening. The President made his "axis of evil" comments in January of 2002, and the next 14 months were spent clearly headed to a showdown with Iraq. There was discussion in the press. There was discussion in the House of Representatives. There was discussion in the US Senate. There was discussion at the United Nations. There was discussion in print and on the airwaves. I'd wager that there was "robust discussion" on Matthews' own television show.
"If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil -- they just have a different perspective."
Who, exactly, does Chris want to say is not evil? Bin Laden? Hussein? Zarqawi? The Taliban? The men who flew the planes into the twin towers? The bombers of the U.S. Cole? The bombers who blew up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? The bombers who first went after the twin towers in 1993? Are those not evil acts? Or are they just evidence of a "different perspective?" And if it is just a "different perspective," what difference does it make? Are we not entitled to look upon a perspective that targets the death of countless innocent civilians as "evil?" An embarassing performance from one of the guiding lights of the Washington punditocracy...
The AP on Sunday significantly misrepresented President Bush's public statements on pre-war intelligence. It's not the first time, it won't be the last, and it long ago ceased being surprising. But it is unacceptable journalistic malpractice. This story begins in earnest about a week and a half ago, when after months of being hammered by critics on the left as having "lied," the President finally stood up and addressed the issue of pre-war intelligence. His speech, addressing the reality that he's been constantly under attack for the past two years, represented an attempt to defend himself and his administration. It was, of course, immediately called an "attack" by the Associated Press, and others of their stripe. But they apparently didn't listen to, or read, what he actually said. Otherwise, they'd never have been able to write the following:
After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy. "People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."
The President "abruptly toned down" nothing. In the speech that caused all of the initial uproar, he said the same things. He said "when I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it." He said "it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war." So the comments that the AP is portraying as "abruptly toned down" are the same comments that he made at the time of "his attack on war critics." Those comments are nothing new. There's just another opportunity for the AP to misrepresent the President, and cast him in a negative light. And that's nothing new, either...
The media storyline from yesterday's election results has been, for the most part, that Democrats picked up big victories, and that it was all bad news for the Republicans. And that President Bush, bogged down in incompetence (Hurricane Katrina) and malice ("he lied - people died!"), pandering to the right-wing (Alito) and heading an out-of-control criminal White House (Libby and Rove) is acting as an anchor, dragging down the Republican Party, leading to these spectacular Democratic wins. We see it in the New York Times:
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.
The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.
Neither of President Bush's first two Supreme Court nominees, John Roberts and Harriet Miers, gave conservative and liberal interest groups the ideological showdown they've long been spoiling for.
The liberal interest groups absolutely wanted a showdown over John Roberts. NARAL started with the dishonest ad accusing Roberts of essentially supporting abortion-clinic bombers very early in the process. All of the Democrats on the judiciary committee tried to discredit Roberts. It wasn't possible - they tried to make a bogeyman out of him, and it didn't work. It remains astounding that an institution that could give Ruth Bader Ginsburg 96 votes for confirmation could only muster 78 for John Roberts.
But with Bush's selection Monday of federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito, the battle is on. And it's shaping up to be as ugly as it is unavoidable.
On this one point, USA Today is correct. The battle is unavoidable, and it is bound to be ugly. As the Roberts battle was in many corners.
Conservative activists, who forced Bush to abandon Miers last week because she lacked the hard-right public record they wanted, were effusive in praise of Alito.
This is where they start to go through the looking-glass. There is some truth here, but just enough to mislead. Yes, there was great concern about Harriet Miers on the right, though most of it was not because she "lacked [a] hard-right public record" - the vast majority of the concern on the right was because of concerns about her qualifications. And it isn't only the political right that was concerned - all of the usual suspects on the left came out against Harriet Miers with their typical knee-jerk response to any Republican nominee.
Abortion-rights, women's rights and other groups declared the gauntlet thrown down and rushed into full counterattack.
There was no "attack" to counter - the "abortion-rights, women's rights and other groups" didn't rush into counterattack - they rushed in to attack. To attack Alito, to attack Bush, to attack conservative interest groups. All of the usual suspects generated all of the usual press releases, and the usual media played them in the usual fashion. As USA Today is doing here.
For Bush, under fire on several fronts and suffering the lowest poll ratings of his presidency, the nomination helped by calming one set of critics. But for observers like us, who prefer pragmatic nominees capable of drawing bipartisan support, it was a disappointing start.
Can we be honest here? This is nonsense. It is nonsense when Sen. Chuck Schumer goes to the floor of the Senate with it, and it's nonsense when the USA Today editorial staff repeats it. It's fantasy. There is no such thing as a "pragmatic nominee capable of drawing bipartisan support," at least not when there's a Republican in the White House. Such a beast just plain does not exist in this universe. (The closest you'll ever see to such is Harriet Miers, whose nomination drew bipartisan criticism...) Much like the abortion issue, on which the entire court system has become so politicized, there is a clash of absolutes in place, and it is not possible to find someone who will satisfy both sides. The liberal position is that they want the courts to enact policy positions that they like. They want a court to issue a Roe v. Wade to remove the abortion debate from legislative oversight. They want a Lawrence v. Texas, to force states to repeal sodomy laws. They want liberal justices to be able to look at foreign law and find support for Roper v. Simmons, ruling the death penalty unconstitutional for minors. They want judges to impose Gay marriage, another position that can't win at the ballot box. The conservative position is that either the Constitution means what it says, or it means nothing. Period. Lawrence v. Texas, Roe v. Wade, Roper v. Simmons are all bad decisions, not because the policy positions they establish are necessarily bad, but because the text of the Constitution does not support them. There is no common ground between these two visions. So it is utter nonsense to complain that the President has nominated someone who is not a "pragmatic nominee capable of drawing bipartisan support" - there just is no such thing.
More so because Alito would make the Supreme Court even less diverse. If Alito replaces Sandra Day O'Connor, the court will be disproportionately white (eight of nine justices), male (eight) and Ivy League (eight). None of these characteristics should disqualify anyone, but the court and nation benefit from diversity in life experience and world view.
This is more of the same. Obviously, there is no reason to suggest that "diversity" would be a bad thing. But the law and the constitution say what they say. If the reading is being significantly influenced by the race or gender of the reader, that's a bad thing.
The more important question, though, is whether Alito fits within a legal mainstream, and that can be answered only after thorough vetting. His credentials are sterling. But unlike other recent nominees, Alito has a long paper trail of judicial rulings, several of which raise questions about his respect for the rights of the individual.
Really? What decisions? What rights?
He has been a darling of anti-abortion activists because of his acceptance of restrictions that the Supreme Court has rejected, such as a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands of abortions in advance.
Again, a dollop of truth ladled out to create a lie. Yes, he did dissent on one of the 5 sections of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992. Yes, the Supreme Court did rule against his position on that section. But, as has been clearly outlined elsewhere, his dissent was based entirely on the precedents that the Supreme Court had established, and which they had to modify (by a 5-4 vote) to rule his dissent incorrect. They're using a half-truth in a pejorative fashion.
He has narrowly interpreted the applicability of federal anti-discrimination laws. And he has challenged Congress' authority to ban possession of machine guns, endearing him to Second Amendment absolutists.
In other words, he has followed the law and the Constitution, rather than his "personal policy preferences." Just a paragraph or so back, they were concerned that his decisions "raise questions about his respect for the rights of the individual." Now they're concerned about Congress' right to ban machine guns from individuals. Does that sound like a concern about judicial principles, or specific policy positions? The latter, obviously.
These and other issues will provide grist for the dueling, multimillion-dollar ad campaigns over control of the court, put in play by the retirement of O'Connor, who has been pivotal in dozens of hot-button cases. If the past is any indicator, the truth will be bent into unrecognizable shapes in some of the advertising.
...and USA Today editorials...
That puts a great burden on the Senate Judiciary Committee. At Roberts' hearings, senators wasted time with speeches instead of questions — and failed to follow up when he responded with knowledgeable but evasive answers. The committee and the full Senate must determine whether Alito is the judicial ideologue welcomed by his cheerleaders and feared by his critics. Or, whether he can be expected to show the respect for the court's precedents that served O'Connor — and the nation — so well.
Which court precedent was Harry Blackmun following when he wrote Roe v. Wade? Which precedent was Sandra Day O'Connor following on Planned Parenthood v. Casey? She wasn't even following her own - Judge Alito was! The fact is, this editorial makes it clear - they're concerned not with precedent, but results. They want a justice to support liberal precedent.
The Bush administration is preparing the announcement of a national plan for dealing with a possible influenza pandemic. According to the Associated Press, the plan will cover stockpiling of vaccine, improved vaccine manufacturing capabilities and the potential for travel restrictions. On the whole, it's a news story, dealing in a fairly straightforward manner with the possibility of a pandemic, and the actions and reactions that would be necessary to handle it. But that doesn't seem to be good enough. No, we apparently can't get an AP story that doesn't go out of its way to criticize the administration. So, in the very first sentence, unrelated to anything else in the story, we get the obligatory reference to past failure.
The Bush administration, battered by criticism over its hurricane response, is getting the nation prepared for a possible travel ban and other restrictions in the event of a worldwide flu outbreak. (emphasis mine)
What did the "criticism over its hurricane response" have to do with anything else in the story? Nothing. It was gratuitous and completely unnecessary.
One of the easiest things to predict was that President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court would be met with cries of dismay from the left. (Indeed, Sen. Schumer's nonsense - "he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee...who would unify us" - notwithstanding, it's difficult to conceive of a potential Bush nominee who would NOT have provoked an outcry on the left.)
And one of the first issues that was certain to arise was the abortion issue. There are a couple of reasons why abortion was inevitable. The first is that Roe v. Wade is the single biggest flash-point between Conservatives and Liberals when it comes to the courts. When the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade (and its companion Doe v. Bolton), the issue was virtually removed from the sphere of practical legislation, a victory for the American left that it guards jealously. Because of that, abortion is going to be issue number one for virtually any nominee of a Republican president. But beyond that, Alito issued a dissenting opinion in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in 1992 that the Supreme Court eventually disagreed with, as it re-affirmed and expanded the scope of Roe v. Wade. And that dissent is going to spawn a flood of criticism, much of it inaccurate, or incomplete at best. Such as today's AP article, Alito Has Affirmed Abortion Restrictions. In it, the AP states that Alito is pro-life and implies that he would let that color his judgement on cases before the court.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had a long news conference this afternoon, addressing the end of service of his Grand Jury and the indictments handed down on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Shortly thereafter, the talk station to which I listened after the PC ran a newsbreak at 3:30 PM EST. During that break, they ran the ABC news, and one of the stories was, of course, the indictments. The story was read by a female reporter, whose name I missed and cannot find, and after talking about the Libby indictments, she said, in a hopeful tone, that Karl Rove was not indicted, but "Fitzgerald says he is still being investigated."
I listened to the entire Fitzgerald press conference, and he said nothing of the sort. He repeatedly refused to say anything of the sort about ANYONE else. He spoke about the Libby indictments. Period. He did say that the investigation was not completed. He refused to say whether or not he would attempt to impanel another Grand Jury, though it sounded, to me, as if he would not.
"Is the investigation finished? It's not over. But … very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried in which you ever end a grand jury investigation. I can tell you that the substantial bulk of the work of this investigation is concluded."
Is Rove "still being investigated?" Possibly. Possibly not. There's nothing in what Fitzgerald said this afternoon that would confirm or eliminate either possibility. As I say, I listened to the entire thing, and my reaction was "if I'm Karl Rove, this is a good thing." (For what it's worth, Kathryn Jean Lopez says that CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin agrees, that he would be "very, very encouraged" if he were Karl Rove.) I could be wrong, but for ABC news to report that "Fitzgerald says he is still being investigated" is for them to report something that's just plain not true. Fitzgerald did not say that. It's as if they're so emotionally invested in Rove being indicted that they have to keep the dream alive...
Cokie Roberts, on ABC's Good Morning America this morning, is accusing the conservative opposition to Harriet Miers of sexism. When asked whether the standards were higher for Miers than they would have been for a man, Roberts replied:
Absolutely. Absolutely. If this were a man who were the White House counsel, the head of the Texas Bar Association, and the head of one of the most important law firms in Dallas we would not be having this conversation about qualifications...There was a lot more sexism that anyone wants to say.
There are any number of female judges who could have been nominated and gotten exactly none of the same criticism that Miers got. Had Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owen or Edith Jones or Edith Clement been nominated, there would have been a completely different discussion. And had a man with Miers' exact qualifications been named, the discussion would have proceeded exactly the same way. The charge of sexism isn't analysis - it's a cliche pulled out in lieu of analysis. Now, to Cokie's credit, she didn't just blame the conservatives. There was some uncalled for mockery on the left, and she did mention it.
And the liberal cartoonists were just as bad. The cartoons of the cleaning lady showing up saying I'm your new federal reserve chairman. I just think that would not have happened with a man.
And that part of it may be right. After all, liberals, as a general rule, can engage in racism and sexism without getting called on it by the Mainstream Media. As opposed to conservatives, who can get accused of it without engaging in it...
When Cindy Sheehan showed up outside of President Bush's Crawford, TX ranch in August, it was, to a certain degree, understandable that there would be some press coverage. She was there, the media was there, there wasn't a lot to write about. But the coverage was weak and biased in almost all cases, carrying her message uncritically, with no evaluation of who she was or what she was saying. The attitude seemed to be that she lost her son, she was criticizing the President, so she was credible and newsworthy, no matter what else there was in her views and attitudes. Indeed, I noted at the time how the Associated Press was acting as a PR firm for Sheehan, as opposed to an actual news organization.
From 1979 until 2003, Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. He was a brutal dictator, a head-of-state who waged war on his neighbors and his own people. He ruled over his people with an iron fist, utilizing torture and murder as weapons of statecraft. The coalition that ejected him from Kuwait in 1991 left him in power, at extreme cost to thousands more Iraqis. He supported terrorism in Israel, paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He provided safe haven for Abu Abbas and other international terrorists.
Well, he's finally going to be put on trial for his crimes, and what is the first concern of the NY Times? That he might not get a fair trial.
As the Goodridge case worked its way through the court system over the past several years, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became ground zero in the struggle over "gay marriage." And the Boston Globe, the largest newspaper in New England, certainly chose sides. Referred to by some as the "all-gay, all the time" Boston Globe, the Globe has consistently found ways to put stories on the front page that focus on "gay" issues, whether they're legitimate front-page news or not (most often, not). Back in August, for example, the Globe ran a front-page story on the fact that the pair of swans in Boston's famed Public Garden were both males. ("Some same-sex marriage advocates hoped the swans' celebrity would not be diminished by the revelation of their same-sex status.")
It has often been noted, throughout history, that one of the problems of unsuccessful leaders is that they spend time fighting the last war, instead of the next one. The US media has been as guilty of that as any group ever in their coverage of Iraq, being determined since day 1 to fit it into the Vietnam template of unnecessary and unpopular war, led by incompetent dishonest leaders, resulting in a quagmire. Every piece of news gets run through that Vietnam filter (which is why we see quotes from the people doing the work over there saying that "if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!")
Well, the Associated Press is at it again (Bush's Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967). And they've dropped any pretense to subtlety. Apparently concerned that all of the Vietnam talk, all of the quagmire speak for the last three years hasn't made it clear for the people to understand, the AP has decided that it's time to run a news story explaining to everyone why Iraq is Vietnam, and why Bush is LBJ, a President who became so unpopular that he failed to even run for re-election. Almost two months ago, the President made a fairly generic comment, of a sort that he's made repeatedly over the past 3 years, that "we will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq." Last night, someone at the AP finally discovered that, hey! Lyndon Johnson said something like that in 1967!
The AP is constructing bad news for the President (Katrina Adds to Public Doubts About Bush). Again. And to do it, they're using a skewed sample poll, and then misrepresenting what it says. The latest AP-Ipsos poll is what they're reporting on. Once again, they've got a sample of adults, and it is signficantly skewed, with 49 percent Democrats and 41 percent Republicans. And they use that skewed sample as a hammer to hit the President, even if it isn't justified by the actual results.
An AP-Ipsos poll shows a sharp increase since the storm in the percentage of people who are most worried about the economy.
Of course it does. Let's stop, for just a moment, and consider what was happening in the media in this country before Katrina hit. Every day, in every outlet, it was all Iraq, all the time. As soon as the storm went through, and the refineries and supply lines went down, the story changed to Katrina and the rising gas prices, and the devastating economic impact. The fact that there's been a sharp increase in people being most concerned about the economy says nothing about George W. Bush.
The mainstream press does not always blame only Republicans or conservatives. There's a tendency in some quarters to believe that, but it's not true. What is true, however, is that the tendency to blame or criticize Republicans and/or conservatives is much, much stronger than the tendency to blame Democrats and/or liberals. This fact manifests itself in a couple of different ways. The first thing that happens is that a Democrat can get away with things that a Republican just can't. Trent Lott, for example, made an offhand remark at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond that could be read as racist, and the outcry was immediate and widespread. When Richard Durbin went to the floor of the Senate to make comments that were far more inflammatory and inappropriate, comparing the US military to Nazis and genocidal Cambodian dictators, there was no coverage at all for several days, and the little coverage it eventually got didn't compare to what Lott got. The other thing that happens is that Democratic follies and foibles tend to get grouped with others by Republicans, and presented in "everybody does it" arguments. I've said for years that there are three mainstream blame assessment scenarios: if the Republicans are wrong, they get blamed; if both parties are wrong, the Republicans get blamed; and if the Democrats are wrong, both parties get blamed.