Imagine you're a leading news magazine. You've published a major story claiming that Afghanistan is a brewing disaster in which Al-Qaeda can once again roam with impunity. So bad is the situation, say you, that for purposes of your article you've dubbed the country "Jihadistan."
Now comes the Pentagon, and in painstaking, point-by-point fashion, refutes so many of your article's assertions as to call its overall validity into question. How do you respond?
A. In a rigorous, systematic manner, you contest the Pentagon's arguments and prove that you were correct in the first place.
Tapper now patrols the political beat for ABC. But his lopsided report on congressional scandals on this morning's GMA reveals that he has lost none of his partisan edge. While Washington University prof Steven Smith was shown stating that 20 members of Congress are currently caught up in sex or money scandals, Tapper focused on seven: six Republicans and only one Democrat.
In Tapper's Republican Hall of Shame were:
George Allen, for 'macaca' and other allegations of racial insensitivity.
Don Sherwood, whose apolgetic TV ad Tapper described as standing for the proposition: "yes I had a mistress but I did not try to strangle her."
Despite the harsh headline: Hillary Hits Bottom, Hillary Clinton might actually welcome Rosa Brooks' LA Times column of this morning condemning her for supporting legislation allowing torture in ticking-bomb cases. Call it a 'Sistah Rosa' moment that Hillary can point to as proof she's not too soft on terror to be president.
But I wonder. Is Brooks aware - while bashing the presumptive presidential candidate for supporting legislation permitting torture in narrowly delineated cases - that Hillary is echoing her husband?
Has Brooks read this column by Alan Dershowitz? The Harvard law prof reports on Bill's recent NPR interview in which he said:
It wouldn't be election season without at least one member of the MSM associating Republicans with the Ku Klux Klan. And who better to oblige than the New York Times, in its editorial of this morning It’s Voter-Fooling Time in America. The Times presents its piece as a non-partisan hand-wringer over dirty or deceptive campaign tactics in the last weeks before Election Day. And the editorial does dutifully claim that Dems are "no less tempted to flash bare-knuckle mischief" than Republicans, and offers one example of a Connecticut Dem making a nasty claim about his opponent.
But when you get down into the details, you notice that the Times attributes every other dirty trick or hardball tactic described to Republicans and - sure enough - manages to work in an allusion to the KKK:
On his show yesterday, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson congratulated Diane Sawyer of ABC for leaving the comforts of home to report from North Korea. Judging by her report this morning, you'd have to say the rigors have been worth it. Sawyer has been on a week-long stay in Dear-Leader Land, and this morning she scored an important story. A top N. Korean general flatly told her that his country has the means to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Sawyer: "We asked him what the words of North Korea meant when they said there would be a 'merciless blow' in response to any sanctions? He said he couldn't say specifically but pointed out they have short- and long-range missiles. He said 'President Bush wants us to kneel down. We cannot agree on that. If it continues, I think it will be natural to have war.'"
Amidst all the MSM reports about this being the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq in a long time, there was a stunning bit of candor today from NBC reporter Richard Engel suggesting this is not mere coincidence, but a conscious effort by the terrorists to elect Democrats.
At the end of his report on this morning's 'Today' on the situation in Iraq, having spoken with US soliders, Engel reported:
"They believe insurgents are intensifying attacks against American soldiers now in an attempt to influence November's mid-term elections."
The NY Times editorializes this morning against the proposal by California congressman Richard Pombo to lower the federal royalty on oil-bearing shale, condemning it as "an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue . . . and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage." The Times apparently can't stand the thought of oil companies making a profit, even if in return we can significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the paper acknowledges, "the estimate of the petroleum locked up in these deposits is enormous: perhaps 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil."
What a difference a day makes! Just yesterday, as I reported here, pollster John Zogby was boasting of his affiliation with Nova M, the new liberal radio network, heir to the moribund Air America. The headline of the mass email he sent out proclaimed: "Air America Co-Founders Start New Liberal Talk Network: Mike Malloy, Joe Trippi and John Zogby join Nova M Radio."
As he breathlessly announced the "formation of [the] new progressive talk radio network" by a couple of Air America's original founders, Zogby touted his own connection, letting us know that he will be co-hosting a weekly one hour show, “The Pulse of the Nation.” The idea will be for Zogby to "poll particular hot button issues from politics and pop culture to the War in Iraq and stem cell research. Each program will include expert guests and audience participation. At the end of each show John will reveal the secret results of the poll and each listener will then know whether or not they have their finger on 'The Pulse of the Nation!'"
If you're looking for some fair-and-balanced commentary on the situation in Iraq, there's nothing like relying exclusively on a scholar with two degrees from Berkeley - particularly if that same person is a frequent NPR guest.
That was Good Morning America's approach this morning. The only expert invited to comment on the situation in Iraq was Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution. Predictably, he painted matters in the bleakest possible light:
"I believe that the United States has lost the ability to control events in Iraq. And it lost them long ago."
A quick Googling reveals that Telhami has both a doctorate and masters from Berkeley. He was an undergrad at Queens College in NYC, another liberal hotbed. According to his Wikipedia entry, Telhami was born into an Arab family in Israel and is a regular guest on NPR.
Let's try an experiment. Imagine that, like me, you were watching the opening of this morning's 'Today.' You hear Matt Lauer - teasing upcoming stories - say: "A mystery on the roads. A dramatic increase in hit-and-run accidents nationwide. What is going on?"
OK, quick: what comes to mind? I immediately thought of the increase in illegal immigration in our country. How about you?
And so I waited to see how 'Today' would deal with the issue of illegal immigration. And waited. And . . .
That's right. In discussing the apparent epidemic of hit-and-run accidents in the United States, 'Today' never once mentioned - even if only to reject - the possibility that the jump in illegal immigration might be a contributing cause.
There's nothing the MSM loves more than a renegade Republican. The GOP maverick-of-the-MSM-week is David Kuo. He is the former #2 man in the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, and has written a book, Tempting Faith, claiming that the operation was a cynical attempt to woo faith-based voters whom top aides including Karl Rove looked at contemptuously.
Chris Matthews predictably had Kuo on this afternoon's Hardball. At one point, Matthews asked whether President Bush has "used faith to get votes" and then "how about the issues like stem cell - do you think he's using them politically?"
"I think you're conflagrating a couple of different things here."
Check out the email below I just received from the Zogby polling group. Anita Drobny and Sheldon Drobny, co-founders of the Air America Radio Network, along with a couple others, are starting a new liberal talk radio network to pick up where Air America is presumably about to leave off. What does it say about the objectivity of Zogby's polling that John Zogby will be a regular contributor?
Air America Co-Founders Start New Liberal Talk Network: Mike Malloy, Joe Trippi and John Zogby join Nova M Radio
Nova M Radio, Inc. based in Phoenix, Arizona officially announced the formation of its new progressive talk radio network. Debuting on the network will be the long awaited return to the airwaves of America’s original “truth-seeker” Mike Malloy. The Mike Malloy Show will initially broadcast live, from 9PM -12 Midnight (EST) beginning October 30,2006 on Nova M Radio affiliate 1480-AM KPHX Phoenix. The Mike Malloy Show will be made available to affiliates across the nation and will also stream live on www.novamradio.com. Malloy on his return to the radio quipped “Yikes! That was close. To not be on the air during perhaps the most critical election in modern U-S history would have been a real bummer. But, we're back and here it is: The Nova M Radio network. Another crack in the wall of right-wing drivel that saturates the airwaves. Join me nightly, truth-seekers and goodbye Air America - hello Nova M!”
Never play poker against Claire Shipman. Anyone who can keep a straight face while claiming that 'Women's Voices. Women Vote' is "non-partisan" could surely bluff you out of a pot while sitting on a busted flush.
On this morning's Good Morning America, Shipman [or shall we call her 'DC Slim'?] narrated a segment spotlighting WVWV's efforts to get single women voters to the polls. Since it is obvious that single women lean heavily Dem, voting for Democrats by a more than 2/3 margin as Dem pollster Celinda Lake acknowledged, my BS-detector started screeching when I saw a straight-faced Shipman slip in her claim that WVWB is "non-partisan."
"General Pelosi, I'm Matt Lauer, and I'm reporting for duty!"
OK, Matt didn't quite say that as 'Today' kicked off its 'The War at Home' three-part series this morning on the lives of American veterans once they return home from war. But judging from the opening episode and the tease for what's to come tomorrow, he might just as well. NBC is clearly doing its part to tend the Dems' Victory Garden.
Of all the reporters in the NBC News stable, 'Today' tapped for this segment Jonathan Alter, a regular guest on Al Franken's Air America show and a consistently liberal columnist at Newsweek. And of all the hundreds of thousands of veterans, Today just happened to choose Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs while co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq, and who now just happens to be . . . running for Congress as a - give me a sec here, OK, got it - Democrat.
On this afternoon's 'Hardball,' interviewing James Baker about his new book on a life in politics, Matthews alluded to the risk of a political party fracturing in the course of a presidential primary campaign:
"How do you hold your party together when you have people, secular candidates like John McCain who's often in that [guest] chair, and Rudy Giuliani running against Brownback, and people like that, Frist and George Allen perhaps, who are real cultural conservatives?"
Riposted Baker: "We hold it together the same way that you hold your party together."
Interjected Matthews: "Well, it's not my party anymore."
If only we had a system like Britain's, where an unpopular Prime Minister can be turfed out by a simple vote of no-confidence. Unfortunately, we're saddled with a Constitution that requires the difficult and time-consuming process of impeachment. And thus, sadly, we're stuck with W until January, 2009. That in a nutshell, is the complaint of Sanford Levinson, professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin.
Now, it's true that the good professor notes some other beefs he has with our central document of government. But one suspects that it is the inability to summarily dispatch President Bush that prompted him to write his LA Times column of today, Our Broken Constitution. Laments Levinson:
[W]hatever happens, George W. Bush will continue to occupy the White House until Jan. 20, 2009, despite the fact that about 60% of Americans disapprove of the job he's doing.
Give Paul Krugman credit for candor. He could care less about a candidate's qualities. He just wants you to vote Democrat. As suggested by the headline - One-Letter Politics - of his pay-to-play column this morning, Krugman asserts:
"The fact is that this is a one-letter election. D or R, that’s all that matters. It’s hard to think of an election in which the personal qualities of the people running in a given district or state have mattered less."
In a way, it's refreshing to see a Times columnist bare his partisanship in such bald-faced fashion. And just what reasons make it so important that the Dems take back the majority? Krugman offers two. The first, which he describes as the lesser, is to bring "the G.O.P. juggernaut . . . to a shuddering halt."
I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu this morning while reading an AP article entitled "Iran Blames U.S. for N. Korea Nuke Test." I could swear that I had already read this same blame-America analysis somewhere else. That sent me scrambling back to my report on the piece by LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks, "A Good Week for the Axis of Evil" contained in my NB item of yesterday [but please don't read just yet]. And sure enough, I found language there that closely tracked the statement from Tehran.
So, let's have a little fun. I'll set the two statements out below, and you try to guess. Which was issued by the Men of Mahmoud, and which by a homegrown member of the Blame America Brigades? Answer below.
You remember Rosa Brooks. She's the LA Times columnist who vehemently denies hating George Bush. To judge by her column of today, she has an odd way of proving it. In A Good Week for the Axis of Evil, Brooks lumps Pres. Bush in with the most evil dictators from around the globe, past and present.
After arguing that it's been a good week for "Dear Leader Kim Jong Il," Saddam Hussein and the leaders of Iran and Al-Qaeda, Brooks claims "this week's news was a humiliating setback for the United States' homegrown authoritarians — a.k.a. the Bush administration."
I was dutifully working my way through Robert Kuttner's Boston Globe column of this morning, Cleaning Up the Mess, on the lookout for some outrageous MSM morsel with which to arouse NewsBusters readers.
But all I was getting were Kuttner's "on the one hand, but on the other hand" arguments as to whether it is in Democratic interests to retake one or both houses of Congress come November. His thesis is that America is such a mess thanks to years of Republican misrule that fixing it could be a thankless task for Dems, who might be better off waiting for the deluge of the 2008 presidential elections. For the record, Kuttner does come down on the side of taking power now.
For Maureen Dowd, politics are primarily personal. This morning she managed to reduce the current Korean conflict to an image of two boys behaving badly. Meanwhile, is mocking John McCain's POW past a smart move for Hillary? Dowd offered a stunning insight into the Hillary campaign that suggests it might not be the ready-for-presidential-primetime operation some might imagine.
The topic of Maureen Dowd's subscription-required column of this morning, Is Chivalry Shivved?, is the war of words between Hillary and John McCain, as the two top presidential contenders recently fired some early shots over the other's bow on the topic of responsibility for the N. Korean nuclear mess.
With timing in the tradition of the Foley fiasco leak - geared for maximum impact on the coming elections - a study was published earlier this week by The Lancet, a British medical science journal, claiming that 655,000 Iraqis have died “as a consequence of the war.” The MSM predictably accorded the study great attention.
In this item yesterday, I noted that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and MNF Commander Casey rejected the study's findings, which is wholly at odds with the US government estimate of 30-50,000 Iraqi civilians killed.
Now, as a Pentagon official has made known, a range of experts - who notably come from across the foreign policy spectrum - has cast doubts on the report's methodology and conclusions. Moreover, one of the study authors has been revealed as an anti-war partisan as has the editor of the Lancet itself. The first is a former Democratic congressional candidate, the latter made recently outlandish accusations as to the motivations of the governments leading the war effort.
If you have a look at this NewsBusters item of mine, you'll note it is dated August 14th, 2006. It was, as noted there, the first one written after I "broke down" and subscribed to the New York Times 'Times Select' section that gives access to the work of its in-house columnists. In that historic first item, I wrote that in their pay-per-view columns, Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert had sounded the nearly-identical theme: that the Bush administration allegedly sees terrorism as something to be "exploited."
In the ensuing weeks, I wrote no fewer than 22 more NB pieces critical of items on the Times editorial page, the majority focusing on the work of the subscription-required columnists. A pretty good return on my investment, you'd have to say.
The MSM had a field day Wednesday with two reports. The first was by a Johns Hopkins scientist, suggesting that there have been more than 600,000 civilian deaths in Iraq during the current conflict - a full order of magnitude greater than the US-government estimate of 30-50,000. Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies criticized the way the estimate was derived and noted that the results were released shortly before the Nov. 7 election."They're almost certainly way too high. This is not analysis, this is politics," Cordesman said.
The second report was one suggesting that the Army was planning to maintain current troop levels in Iraq through 2010.
There's a saying along the lines that liberals will always oppose the use of US force - except where US security interests are not at stake. The New York Times editorial of this morning, The Age of Impunity, provides a perfect case in point.
The central thesis is this:
"Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow."
Along the way, the Times recommends that Pres. Bush pander to the rogue regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran by making "a clear pledge — no caveats and no fingers crossed behind his back - that he would not try to overthrow" their governments.
"Didn't the MSM get the memo? Keep Foley on the front page!" That seemed to be Chris Matthews' attitude when he was interviewed on this afternoon's MSNBC Live regarding Pres. Bush's press conference of this morning.
Appearing during the 2-2:30 PM ET slot, the transparently ticked-off Hardball host was asked: "The Mark Foley scandal has been dominating the news for over a week now. It was barely touched upon in the news conference today. Was the president, do you think, successful in refocusing attention on to the economy and national security today?"
A palpably PO'd Matthews:
"Well, he was successful to a large extent because the press, for whatever reason, decided not to ask him about the Foley scandal, which has dominated this network and so much else of the media for the last couple weeks and has been a big part of the American conversation. I don't know why though the correspondents - and they're the best in the business - chose to stick right to the issue of Iraq and North Korea, but they did, giving the president a chance to grab the headline tomorrow morning and tonight, with a big story about North Korea and his position on that topic. He has won the day on controlling the topic."
To judge by its political cartoon of this morning, the Boston Globe apparently believes that if only the Bush administration had engaged in direct talks with North Korea, it could have prevented Kim from building his bomb.
Let's leave aside that the Bush administration has in fact been talking to North Korea. Indeed, the president was proceeding in precisely the way the MSM usually implores him to do - multilaterally, via the Six Party talks.
A phalanx of Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, claims the Bush administration is to blame for the N. Korean nuclear test. John McCain responds, pointing out that it was the Clinton administration's failed "agreed framework" that let Kim Jong Il merrily go about his bomb-and-missile-making ways.
So how does Hannah Storm of CBS' Early Show frame the state of play?
"Sen. John Kerry said that you must be trying to burnish your credentials for the nomination process, he's referring of course to your presidential aspirations. I mean, what do you say to those who say that you're [her voice breaking into a horrifed squeak] politicizing this issue?"
Not the smallest bird doesn't fall but liberal pundits blame it on George W. Bush. A refreshing change of pace this morning, then, in the person of Thomas Friedman, who writes that the major responsibility for avoiding future international catastrophe lays not at the feet of the current occupant of the White House, but in Moscow and Beijing.
In the subscription-required The Bus Is Waiting, Friedman propounds the theory that a nuclearized N. North Korea and Iran will inevitably induce a string of countries across Asia and the Middle East developing atomic weapons of their own.
To prevent this, Friedman asserts that it is necessary for:
Have a look at this screen capture from the opening of this morning's 'Today': Barbra Streisand says "SEND IN THE #$&!! CLOWNS"
Since 'Today' only offered a tease at the top of the show, it was hard to know just what Babs had been up to. Was she cursing out a fan or, perhaps, calling for a takeover of power by her team of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Conyers, Henry Waxman et al.?
Turns out the correct answer was 'A' - cursing a fan. According to this New York Post article, VULGAR BABS RIPS BUSH - AND FAN - AT MSG: