To those of us who see the Castro regime as an ugly dictatorship whose people are mired in poverty due to the communism it has imposed, little is more annoying than to hear the MSM tout the glories, as reported here by MRC, of Cuba's 'free health care,' and low illiteracy and infant mortality rates. Beyond the dubiousness of the statistics cited, are the media suggesting that trading freedom for a bowl of government porridge is a good deal?
In any case, judging by this morning's Today show, it looks as if the MSM have finally found a communist dictatorship they will not extol. The media have drawn the line at, well, the DMZ line separating South from North Korea.
As James Taranto suggested Monday in his WSJ 'Best of the Web' column, at some point you can question a person's patriotism. Cindy Sheehan surely crossed that Rubicon long ago. But just in case there was any doubt, Sheehan made things perfectly clear this evening, flatly stating that she'd rather live under Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez than George Bush.
Sheehan made her comments during a Hardball appearance, during which guest host Norah O'Donnell, sitting in for Chris Matthews, gave her a surprisingly rough ride. At one point, O'Donnell asked: "Why go stand by side by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela? Why do that? Would you rather live under him than George Bush?
Ouch! Norah O'Donnell knows how to get a guy where it hurts. And Kim Jong Il might be feeling 'ronrier' than ever.
On this evening's Hardball, Norah, guest-hosting for Chris Matthews, discussed the failed North Korean missile tests with three separate panels. In each case, she used the same Freudian-fraught metaphor for failure:
To her first panel, composed of congressmen Dan Burton [R-IN] and Bill Pascrell [D-NJ], Norah noted:
"We saw the Taepodong missile essentially exploded and went limp into the sea of Japan after 45 seconds."
Next, with guests Michael Scheuer and Tyler Drumheller - both former CIA officials - she mentioned:
Don't know if it will still be up when you go there, but when I went to Google News Top Stories at about 2:25 PM EDT, this is the photo of Rush Limbaugh that I found, accompanying the various stories reporting that Rush will not be charged in the discovery, when recently going through customs, of a prescription medicine not in his name.
NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has written elsewhere about Google's censorship of conservative web sites, and others have accused it of a liberal slant in its selection of stories.
Just 74 words into its article announcing Ken Lay's death, the AP somehow found it pertinent to report that Lay was "nicknamed 'Kenny Boy' by President Bush."
The MSM has gotten more mileage than a 'Ford Excuse' coasting downhill out of W's 'heck of a job, Brownie' to then-FEMA Director Michael Brown in the wake of Katrina. Looks like they're going to stick with a winning formula, even when it comes to the dead.
AP is of course unsubtly trying to tie Pres. Bush to the Enron scandal. In doing so, AP ignores the fact that the Clinton administration had chummy dealings with Enron. Beyond that, the implication is that Bush only bestows sobriquets on good friends. As the WH press corps well knows, he has nicknames for many of them, including a good number whom no one would confuse for administration fans.
What do you call an ardent Arlen Specter supporter who proposes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and accuses Republicans of 'chicanery' for introducing proposals on gay marriage and flag burning? Why, a 'conservative' of course - if you're NBC's Today show and your guest is Michael Smerconish.
This is the MSM's means of convincing viewers that there is balance in their choice of guests. As I noted here, the mislabelling reached its pinnacle a while back when Today labelled Bush antagonist Pat Buchanan - someone who left the GOP seven years ago to run against W - a 'Republican strategist.'
Today was back at the name game this morning. As you'll note from the screen grab, it labelled Michael Smerconish a 'conservative.'
Readers of these columns might have noticed that I occasionally include at the foot the fact that I live in 'the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY.' To give you a flavor for what I'm talking about, consider today's op-ed page in my hometown daily, the Ithaca Journal. The Journal is a Gannett newspaper. That's the chain [led by USA Today] that, as I've documented, chose as a news editor someonewho believes calling VP Cheney 'Satan' makes for the best commencement speech ever.
With Mexicans going to the polls today to elect a new president, Reuters leaves little doubt as to whom it's pulling for: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party The headline tells you all you need to know, but here are a few choice excerpts to flesh out the picture of an heroic 'leftist' bringing hope to the little people, versus the other major candidate, Felipe Calderon, who is given the shortest of shrift, merely being described once, and then only as a 'conservative.' Nuff said!
"When the air reeks of sewage, rain makes your street look like a ploughed field and month-long water shortages mean even bucket baths are sometimes a luxury, a flushing toilet can be a dream worth voting for. A two hour commute from downtown Mexico City on the putrid periphery of a vast urban sprawl, many in this town of housemaids and security guards will vote for a leftist in Sunday's presidential election, hoping he will change their lives." [Intead of a chicken in every pot, a potty in every house?]
"Lopez Obrador gave cash handouts to elderly and disabled people and single-parent families as Mexico City mayor. He has promised to spread those programs throughout Mexico while boosting incomes through welfare payments and fuel price cuts." [Nothing like handouts and more welfare to get an economy going!]
When America marches off to war, do we want lawyers on the front line? OK, I can already hear the thunderous response: 'Yes! Put those tassel-loafered shysters out there as cannon fodder!" But Jim Pinkerton, conservative columnist at Newsday and TCS, was making a more profound point this morning when he and Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News made their 'Long & Short' appearance on Fox & Friends Weekend.
The subject was the recent Supreme Court ruling that it is impermissible to subject Gitmo prisoners to military tribunals. In fairness, short-'n-liberal Ellen Ratner did stop short of suggesting they should have full US-style trials. But she predictably applauded the ruling, advocating significantly expanded due process for the detainees.
At this point, how many people are interested in hearing more preachy justifications from newspaper editors about their decision to spill the beans on anti-terror programs? Yada yada yada, the sensitive balance between legitimate secrecy needs in time of war and the public's right to know. Yeah, we get it.
But there were Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, editors of the LA and NY Times respectively, with an op-ed this morning humming that tired 'on the one hand, on the other' sing song . Things reached their apotheosis of annoyingness [poetic license in the name of alliteration] when the duo approvingly cited WaPo editor Robert Kaiser editor thusly:
Just when you're ready to write Chris Matthews off as a hopeless liberal, he pulls something like he did tonight, criticizing the New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program.
Matthews' guests were the Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan. On the subject of the Times leak, Sharpton predictably proclaimed that the Gray Lady was "absolutely right," while Morgan sided with President Bush. That's when Matthews weighed in with his surprising pronouncement:
"Melanie, on this issue, believe it or not, I'm with you. I think the Times should not have run that story, I don't think we needed to know that. It wasn't really about us; it was of more interest to the enemy."
Should we look for Matt Lauer to close his next interview of Condi Rice by clasping her hands? Perhaps a verklempt Dick Cheney thanking Campbell Brown for "standing by me through every crisis"? Could be, judging by Al Roker's interview of Star Jones this morning.
OK. Star isn't Secretary of State. She's someone who got bounced as co-host of a televised coffee klatsch. Even so, some of the journalistic values on display were eye-brow raising. For openers, what does it say about Today's news values that the interview, stretching across two half-hours and three segments, was the longest this veteran Today watcher can remember?
And then there was the personal relationship between Al and Star. The flag first went up when Star thanked Al for having phoned her with information: "I actually remember a phone call when you saw something in the paper that I had not even seen that was pretty nasty."
As fellow NewsBuster Mithridate Ombud noted today, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll has flatly accused the Bush administration of anti-Semitism in its criticism of The New York Times for its latest leak of an anti-terror program. Claimed Carroll:
"The Times is a good target... Also, the name of the New York Times contains the word 'New York.' Many members of the president's base consider 'New York' to be a nifty code word for 'Jewish.' It is very nice for the president to be able to campaign against the Jews without (a) actually saying the word "Jew" and (b) without irritating the Israelis."
Is this an emerging MSM theme? Perhaps, judging by Chris Matthews' line of questioning on this evening's Hardball.
Do you know the joke about the guy who goes to the doctor and is informed he needs an operation that would cost $25,000? When he asks if there are any cheaper alternatives, the doc responds, "well, for $75, I can touch up your X-rays."
That's Barack Obama's approach to healing the Dems' affliction when it comes to dealing with religious conservatives on social issues. He's not looking to change the substance, only the appearance.
In introducing Obama, GMA's Robin Roberts did describe him as "one of the Democrats' rising stars." But I think that might be some kind of required FCC label, so we'll cut Robin slack. Particularly so in light of the very probing question with which she ultimately hit Obama, and the telling response she elicited.
If she was watching 'Today' this morning, you can imagine Hillary Clinton using her best North-Korean-parliament rhythmical clapping in response to what she saw. It might be 'ronery' in her Georgetown or Chappaqua spreads, but it's always heart-warming to know you've got friends at the highest-rated morning show.
The premise was that while Hillary has been a long-time bogeywoman of the right, "these days Clinton's biggest critics aren't necessarily in the GOP." It was noted that "she was recently booed by Democratic audiences for arguing against timetable to pull US troops out of Iraq."
The segment also noted her "split with liberals" in her support for an amendment prohibiting flag burning."
Over the last couple days, I've received four emails from one liberal reader of these columns, repeatedly asking me why conservatives are so 'angry and mean-spirited'. I tried explaining that while anger is common to the human condition, in no way do conservatives have a monopoly on the emotion. To the contrary, I cited a recent study revealing that, even when controlling for relevant variables, Republicans tend to be happier than Democrats.
Since I was unable to prove the proposition to the reader's satisfaction, I very much hope he was watching this evening's Hardball. For the show provided a perfect case in point of Republican good humor and raw Dem anger.
Sure, Tim Russert is a pillar of the great center-left media establishment. You can take the man out of Mario Cuomo's office, but you can't entirely take Mario's office out of the man. Even so, as MSM types go, Russert is among the more fair-and-balanced.
But in his Today show appearance this morning, Tim simply didn't make sense. Asked by Campbell Brown about the White House's anger at the New York Times for its latest divulging on an anti-terror program, Russert responded:
"There is no doubt this was an orchestrated campaign to try to frame this issue of national security versus the media, particularly the New York Times. It resonates with the organized Republican conservative base: taking on the media,liberal media. Remember Spiro Agnew, back in the Nixon administration: the 'nattering nabobs of negativism.'
As a veteran Couric watcher, I've recently come to follow [without actually watching] doings at The View, since Katie's replacement Meredith Vieira was for years a member of the show's cast. For those unfamiliar with it, The View is an all-female televised coffee klatsch and gabfest of which Barbara Walters is the creator, partial owner and a co-host.
The View has a distinct liberal tint to its patter. And as we know, one of the tenets of feminist theology is that women have a right to whatever body size they want, free of societal restraints.
How ironic - some might say hypocritical - that one reason for the recent firing of co-host Star Jones is that . . . she refused to stay fat! As you'll note from the before and after pics here, Star has undergone a dramatic physical transformation. According to this AP article:
You're having a first conversation with someone. Alright, maybe you don't agree with him, but he seems rational. Then, out of the blue, he blurts something so strange, so disconnected from reality, that you say to yourself 'whoah! - who is this guy?' And you go back and rethink everything else he had said in light of his suddenly-exposed madness.
That's what is was like watching Chris Matthews' interview of Ken Auletta on this evening's Hardball. Alright, Auletta's the media columnist of the New Yorker. So you have no illusions. This is a liberal. Even so, he seems so urbane, so calm, even reasonable. You could almost imagine having a drink and a conversation at sunset on the deck of one of those fancy Hampton houses you picture him visiting on weekends.
If the mark of a person at ease with himself is the ability to have a chuckle at his own expense, then Rush Limbaugh is a supremely serene man. In the wake of the incident in which he was detained at the Palm Beach International Airport when it was discovered he had in his luggage a vial of Viagra with a prescription not in his name, you might have imagined that Rush would have begun today's show with an indignant denial of wrongdoing. He might have explained in tedious detail that in fact the prescription had, with personal privacy in mind, been written in his doctor's name.
But no. Rush opened by poking gentle fun at the situation, and even, in the process, at himself:
Come on, Carl. The Tigers are in first place. GM announced some good news this morning. The sun is gonna shine again. Why so cranky?
The senior Democratic senator from Michigan had some very testy exchanges with Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade this morning. The topic was possible troop reductions in Iraq. Levin has been leading the Dem charge in alleging that the Bush administration is orchestrating the drawdowns with an eye on the November elections.
At one point, the give-and-take went like this
Brian: "Judging by conditions on the ground, do you think the President enjoys having troops over in Iraq? Do you think he would keep them there one day past where they should be there or have to be in harm's way?
The Seer of MSNBC hath spoken: no matter how good the news might be now for President Bush, he will be in worse shape come the November elections.
That was Chris Matthews' reading of the entrails on this morning's Today show. Guest-hosting David Gregory interviewed him, and, sounding the same theme we saw over at this morning's Early Show, cast the controversy over the latest leak of an anti-terror program not as a threat to national security, but as "this attack on the New York Times."
Gregory teed up this softball for Matthews: "The question is, whether should we be taking their [the administration's] word for it, that these are legal programs? Do you think the administration, any administration, has earned the right . . . to protect that kind of secret?"
Given NewsBusters' goal of exposing outrageous liberal media bias, perhaps I should switch focus from the Katie-less Today to Harry Smith & Co. at the Early Show. I rarely check in on the show, which has languished seemingly forever in last place. But, happening upon it this morning, Smith's bald-faced bias left me breathless.
Smith's guest was Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report. Talk was first of the proposed flag-burning amendment. A snide Smith observed:
"I'm just curious about this. Because somewhere I read in the last couple of days in the entire history of the republic there have only been 200 documented serious incidents of this in the entire history of the United States." Lotta history there, Harry.
It became a laugh line long ago: "If we can't [insert your favorite dubious activity here], the terrorists will have won."
But that didn't prevent Keith Olbermann from trotting out the cliché tonight. A line so tired it would have to be months fresher not to be merely hackneyed. And all this in defense of the New York Times' latest leak of an anti-terrorist program - this time that of the the program designed to track terrorists' financial transactions.
Even Olbermann seemed abashed at stooping so low, but that didn't stop him. Claiming that the anti-terror program is "legally questionable," Olbermann actually said that "as the old saying goes" if the Times can't report this "haven't the terrorists won?"
There could be an NBC intern out of work by lunch-time. Somebody failed to get the DNC/MSM talking points to Barry McCaffrey. A guest on this morning's Today show, the retired general obstinately refused to go along with the party line in reacting to the news that a drawdown of US troops in Iraq is in the works. Didn't Barry at least watch Carl Levin over the weekend? The Dem senator from Michigan had made it clear that this was all about election-year politics.
Co-host Campbell Brown picked up right where Levin left off.
Brown: "Based on your assessment of the situation on the ground, do you think this plan is realistic?"
McCaffrey: "Yeah, sure. . . Realistic assumptions will probably occur."
No-o-o-o-o! Brown took another tack: "Put 'realistic' aside and tell me whether you think it's a good idea, though."
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.
In 2000, that darn MSM elected George Bush by bashing Al Gore. And when it comes to the theological argument as to whether gays and women should be Christian clergy, well, actually, there isn't an argument. There's only one side. The liberal one, of course.
Don't believe me? Ask Neal Gabler. The reliably liberal member of the Fox News Watch panel expressed those views on this evening's show.
Host Eric Burns asked whether the torture and murder of two US soldiers, coupled with the charges brought against a group of Marines in the killing of an Iraqi civilian brought us to a turning point of more open press opposition to the war.
Responded Gabler: "I think it is a right-wing frame to say is this a turning point to go overtly against the war. As if [the press] have been covertly against the war." In a strange non sequitur he continued "This press elected George Bush by bashing Al Gore. This press facilitated our entrance into the war and acted as if Bush had had a sudden turn-around by going to Iraq."
If Dave Rossie were simply a columnist, one might dismiss his sophomoric liberal rants as, well, sophomoric liberal rants. But what is disturbing is that when he's not pounding out his latest condemnation of all things Republican, the Gannett chain has seen fit to give Rossie the power to edit news at one of its papers, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Not long ago, Rossie, finding the mere impeachment of Pres. Bush insufficient, called on the world to boycott the United States.
Rossie's latest opus concerns commencement addresses. After knocking administration officials for speaking at military institutions, and singling out VP Cheney for "defending the practice of spying on Americans via illegal wire taps," Rossie gave an example of a commencement speech of which he approved - heartily.
Norah O'Donnell was the guest host on this evening's Hardball. Discussing the arrest of seven alleged domestic terrorists charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower among other targets, O'Donnell asked her panel of 'Hardball Hotshots': "where is this hatred coming from?"
Mike Barnicle was first to propose a socio/psychological explanation: "Freedom, the freedoms we have here. Liberty, the liberties we have here, the isolation that many people feel from our society. . . Poverty, mental illness is part of it."
Let me share a little trade secret. Lately, when I've been on the prowl for something to write about, I go to the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times. It's a treasure trove over there, I tell ya!
Take this morning's editorial - 'Battling over Bishops' - in which the Times decides to wade into the controversy roiling the Episcopal Church. Here's the kernel of the Times' argument
"What both controversies [over homosexual and female clergy] have in common is not only a fixation on sex and gender but also the challenge of deciding what religious practices can and should change with the times."