Keith Olbermann's regular media critic guest, Michael Musto of the Village Voice, called Ann Coulter a 'bastard' on last night's Countdown.
The topic was the news that Vanity Fair has picked celeb photographer Annie Liebovitz to snap the first pics of Suri, newborn daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. There is controversy as to whether Suri actually exists, given that, months after her announced birth, there have been no photos or sightings of the child.
Musto is clearly a skeptic on the subject. When Olbermann asked him what we should expect from Liebovitz's images of Suri, Musto responded with this strained effort to draw a connection to the left's bête noire :
"We should expect an image of a pillow. An illegitimate pillow, mind you. A bastard pillow. What's the word for a female bastard? Ann Coulter! An Ann Coulter pillow!"
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
There is a noteworthy MSM tendency to downplay the gravity of terrorist acts by suggesting that they are local, home-grown incidents rather than forming part of international conspiracies. A recent example was the MSM's treatment of the Seattle Jewish center shootings in which a Muslim-American killed one woman and injured several others.
To his credit, NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey wouldn't let Matt Lauer sing that song when he tried it on this morning's Today show in connection with the just-disclosed plot to blow up in mid-Atlantic flights originating in the UK.
That didn't take long. Just yesterday, Ned Lamont was the netroot hero, the pride of MoveOn.org, the scourge of the GOP. Today, Dem nomination in hand, he began his run toward the center - with a little help from his MSM friends.
On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews scoffed at the fact that the RNC put Lamont's picture up on its website alongside Michael Moore, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, Howard Dean, and John Murtha. Well, let's see: Dean via his DFA organization openly campaigned for Lamont over Lieberman. Daily Kos put itself totally in the service of Lamont. As for Moore and Murtha, can anyone point to an iota of difference between their views on Iraq and those of Lamont?
Would Matthews have scoffed had the RNC put up this actual photo showing Lamont on his victory platform surrounded by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and NOW's Kim Gandy?
Interviewing Lamont, Matthews offered him the chance to show what a non-partisan guy he is, inviting him to name his Republican 'heroes.' Lamont mentioned Teddy Roosevelt - for busting trusts, Colin Powell, and John McCain - for being willing to buck the status quo.
An aside - Lamont noted that he disagreed with McCain on 'choice.' I don't know about you, but of all the political sleight of tongue, using 'choice' as a euphemism for abortion is one that particularly grates on me.
Tucker Carlson stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jewish. But he did let us know that "I love Israel, I think it's a wonderful place, I support it completely, I support it instinctively."
That was just before he declared that "I think this war helps Hezbollah. I think it's bad for Israel, bad for the United States. I think you can love Israel and believe this war is a disaster."
And it was just afterhe criticized President Bush for being too pro-Israel.
Carlson turned to Bill Press, his guest on this afternoon's Tucker show on MSNBC, observing:
"You never hear Democrats point out that Bush is not even-handed in the Middle East. You almost never hear anybody criticize the President for taking the side of Israel to the extent that he alienates the Arab world completely. Why doesn't anybody ever mention that?"
The former chairman of the California Dem party gave a response suggesting he might be a proud graduate of the Pat Buchanan 'Amen Corner' School of Foreign Policy:
Q. How can you tell when the MSM's liberal slip is showing?
A. When a host argues from the left with his own non-partisan expert!
That's just what happened on this morning's Early Show. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report was brought on to analyze yesterday's CT senate primary results. Cook presents itself as non-partisan, and certainly no one can accuse Walter of being a closet conservative. As per her bio, "prior to joining The Cook Political Report, she served as Political Director of the Women's Campaign Fund and worked for Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-PA-13)."
From the get-go, host Harry Smith tried to depict Lamont's victory as having far-ranging anti-war implications: "The blogosphere was on fire. Does this send a message to Democrats to say, if you want our support, you better get out there and be against the war and against the president?"
Howard Dean's 2004 presidential primary run was largely fueled by internet-driven support orchestrated by campaign manager Joe Trippi. That campaign fell famously short in the echoes of Dean's Iowa caucus-night scream. But with Ned Lamont's win, the left wing blogosphere can this morning claim perhaps its first major victory . . . at least in a Democratic primary if not in a general election.
And that, in turn, raises the real question. Does the same left-wing blogosphere that can influence the outcome of Dem primaries foist on the party candidates so extreme that they stand little chance of winning in November? We are about to see a test case in CT, and indications are that by appealing to moderate Dems and Republicans, Joe Lieberman might well defeat Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger [perceived as a less-than-A-list candidate].
'Rome is Burning' is ESPN's edgy sports-commentary show starring the eponymous Jim Rome. Jason Whitlock is standing in for Rome this week, and while I don't know much about him, from what I've seen I enjoy his shtick. He's smart, funny and seems to successfully walk the fine line of expressing strong views without being malicious.
Another plus: his physique and bearing remind me of one of my all-time favorite movie characters in my all-time favorite movie - Sydney Greenstreet as Signor Ferrari in Casablanca. Judge for yourself.
In any case, in the show's opening monologue, the host riffs on what 'he's burning about.' Among Whitlock's topics today was what he suggests be the top priority for about-to-be-announced new NFL Commisioner. For Whitlock, job #1 is
"Fixing the league's officiating crisis. The new commissioner shouldn't bury his head in the sand and pretend everything is OK with the zebras. It's not. The new millenium NFL player is souped up on supplements and moves at the speed of sound. It's ridiculous to have 50 year-old white guys chasing after 25-yr old black guys."
Bring back Katie! OK, perhaps that's not the solution, but the sycophantish display that Ann Curry put on for Queen Noor and her anti-Israel/pro-Hezbollah views was enough to make you pound the TV screen in frustration.
Noor is a Princeton-educated Arab-American who is the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Curry's opening set the tone. Rather than asking a probing question, Ann invited Noor to lecture America: "what insights might you offer America about what Hezbollah wants and what it's willing to do to get it?"
Noor blamed the Jews and lauded Hezbollah: "Hezbollah was created as was Hamas in the Palestinian territories during a period of Israeli occupation which is on-going in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Hezbollah was largely responsible and credited by the Lebanese for having creating the pressure for having Israel withdraw from Lebanese territory."
Curry took Noor's notion a grotesque step further: "So it's almost seen as a savior."
You've all seen the TV commercial. A chubby woman has dragged a TV onto her front lawn and is watching the game with two girlfriends, when her dutiful husband comes home, schlepping grocery bags. One of the girlfriends suggests they order in pizza, but the chubby woman actually calls her husband in the house, tricking her friends into thinking she's calling a pizza place. She haughtily orders her husband to 'make it the way I like it,' and adds 'make it snappy - chop, chop!'
You've never actually seen this commercial, of course. The dictates of political correctness would never permit it. But just such an ad for DiGiorno pizza did indeed air today [during the 4 PM EDT edition of the Tucker Carlson show on MSNBC] - the difference naturally being that it was a plump idiot of a husband acting like a complete jerk toward his wife.
Ashamed of their sins at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans were actually awaiting payback along the lines of 9/11. You say you were unaware of any such feelings? That's only because your feeling was 'subliminal.' Your shame was 'unconscious.' Well, that, or the fact that you just don't have the same exquisitely refined sensibilities of Boston Globe columnist James Carroll.
A price spike 28 times larger than the proportion of global oil production lost? The loss of 0.4% of oil output leading to a 13% price increase?
It's what NBC's Ann Curry imagined on this morning's Today show. 'Soaring Gas Prices' is one of the Today show's longest-running hits. This morning's episode brought us Ann Curry trying to induce CNBC financial reporter Ron Insana to paint the gloomiest possible picture in the wake of the news that BP has shut down an Alaskan oilfield. BP shut the Prudhoe Bay field indefinitely due to the discovery of severe corrosion and a very small spill from a Prudhoe Bay oil transit line. The 400,000 represents 8% of US domestic oil output and about 2.6% of US supply, including imports.
Four states, four regions, four local authors giving folksy, personalized takes on the candidates and the issues. You can't knock the Times' choice of format for giving readers a sense of Senate races across the country. But when it came to substance, it soon became clear that just beneath the authors' fly-over state surface lay Upper West Side attitude.
Setting the tone, author Deirdre McNamer might have found the only farm equipment store manager in Montana who makes "taking care of the homeless" his first priority. The Dem candidate's barber was also brought in to accuse the Republican in the race of "lies [and] cheap shots," complaining for good measure about money spent on the Iraq war.
Neal Gabler might not look like an athlete, but don't be surprised to see him lining up for the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. For on this evening's Fox News Watch, Neal made a logical leap of Beamonesque proportions.
According to Gabler, the fact that a drunken Gibson made anti-Semitic remarks retroactively proves that his 'Passion of the Christ' was anti-Semitic too.
Here's how the liberal media critic put it:
"The interest here is 'The Passion.' It made something like $400 million. It was accused of being anti-Semitic. The mainstream press didn't really want to touch it. Because they were afraid of being clobbered from the right.
"Most Cubans have insisted that they are sure Castro will recover and that the government will function fine until then. But others have privately expressed worries that their leader may be more sick than the world knows."
Amongst Derrick Z. Jackson's many fulminations in his Boston Globe column of this morning, The Divide Remains, this one leapt out at me: "the great gorge between the working poor and the wasteful rich remains far from being bridged."
Since Jackson never gets around to substantiating his 'wasteful rich' allegation, it's hard to see it as other than a gratuitous slur by a entrenched class warrior. Jackson is the apparent captive of a socialist mindset in which 'the rich' are straight-from-Monopoly caricatures who steal from the poor while not laying about or downing champagne in big-band nightclubs.
At CNN, the moral relativism never ends. In the wake of shootings by a Muslim at a Seattle Jewish center that left one person dead and others injured, CNN somehow managed to equate the fears of American Jews that there could be other such incidents . . . with the fears of American supporters of Hezbollah.
The focus of the 'Safe at Home?' segment narrated by CNN's Kelli Arena on today's Saturday Morning show was indeed the aftermath of that Seattle shooting, and how Jewish groups around the country are expressing fears and taking precautions.
But you could almost hear the CNN producer's gears grinding: "Wait! We can't have a segment that focuses exclusively on Jewish fears. Quick: get me some balance!" What CNN came up with was an interview with Rami Nuseir, an Arab-American activist.
CNN's Arena started the relativistic slide by claiming that the FBI's program of reaching out to Arab-American leaders for help in identifying potential threats has 'backfired': "Arab-Americans feel as though they are constantly under suspicion."
Mega-blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos talking down the blogs' influence on the Connecticut Dem primary? John Fund of the good old Wall Street Journal talking it up?
The odd couple, guests on this evening's Hardball, engaged in some serious media gender-bending. With Mike Barnicle sitting in for host Chris Matthews, Fund went first, and overflowed with praise for the role the blogs have played in the race.
Fund: "I think [the blogs' impact has] been very significant. I offer a tip of the hat to them. They have taken the former vice-presidential candidate and created a single issue around the war, and this is is a man who opposed George Bush on tax cuts, and many things, and they have turned him into the perception as George Bush's lackey, and they are on the verge of knocking off a senator. That's happened only twice before. It's remarkable."
'Wishin' and hopin' and 'Thinkin' and prayin', 'Plannin' and dreamin' 'Each night of his charms, 'That won't get you into his arms.' - Dusty Springfield, 'Wishing & Hoping'
If E.J. Dionne's wishes were horses, Democrats would ride them to the White House. In his WaPo column of today, The End Of the Right?, the liberal pundit foresees the fall of conservatism. The immediate springboard for his prediction was yesterday's failed vote for an increase in the minimum wage. According to Dionne:
"The most obvious, outrageous and unprincipled [conservative] spasm occurred last night when the Senate voted on a bill that would have simultaneously raised the minimum wage and slashed taxes on inherited wealth.
Was Matt Lauer showing balance in criticizing Hillary Clinton along with Donald Rumsfeld this morning - or was his skepticism about Hillary simply voicing the view of the Murtha/Lamont wing of the Dem party?
Interviewing all-purpose commentator Howard Fineman, Lauer seemed insistent that it was time for Rumsfeld to go.
Lauer: "[Clinton] said the president should accept Rumsfeld's resignation. He lost credibility with Congress and the people. It's time for him to step down. This is not the first person to call for his resignation, but at some point, do you think it's a possibility especially in the near term?"
Fineman held his fire: "Well, the Democrats will try to make it that."
With its editorial of this morning, Justice After Guantanamo, the Los Angeles Times has raised the bar when it comes to expressing exquisite sensitivity for the rights of accused terrorists. The Times waxes indignant that in trials of Gitmo denizens the Bush administration favors - brace yourself - the admission of hearsay evidence. Send in the smelling salts.
Says the Times:
"New draft legislation to bring the military commissions established by the administration into compliance with a Supreme Court decision borrows heavily from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's the good news. The bad news is that on some issues — particularly the use of hearsay and evidence obtained by coercive or inhumane interrogation — the administration still clings to the notion that the end justifies the means."
It's become a punchline: Sure, Fidel forces champions of democracy to rot in prison. Yes, his kleptocracy-called-communism has empoverished the masses while enriching the elite. OK, he did permit the Soviets to install nuclear weapons pointed at us. But - altogether now - THEY HAVE FREE HEALTHCARE IN CUBA!
You'd think the Boston Globe would be embarrassed to sing that song. But apparently the MSM are beyond shame. Here's what the Globe had to say in its editorial of this morning, On Cuba, Try Kindness:
"Cuba is justifiably proud of its healthcare system."
On the one hand, liberals enjoy portraying themselves as models of tolerance and racial sensitivity. But woe betide those who run afoul of their orthodoxy. Liberals don't hesitate to bring out the crudest racial imagery to mock them.
Add Joe Lieberman to the liberal media hit list. Have a look at the image of Lieberman that popped up at Huffington Post today. It's in a column by one Jane Hamsher, who, her bio informs us, is a 'progressive blogger.'
ABC explains that it's "currently producing a report on global warming and want[s] to find out if you've seen differences in your daily environment that you think are caused by climate change." Note that the photo displayed here is taken from the web page. Subtle, eh?
Assures ABC: "We hope to hear from you."
Actually, that's not entirely true. Apparently ABC only wants to hear from you if you can vouch for global warming. Others need not apply. These avatars of objective journalism want you to know that 'the differences can be large or small — altered blooming schedules, changes in plants or animals in your community, erosion or droughts.'
A wave of New Testament fever seems to be gripping liberal media types. As reported here, during a recent Good Morning America, Chris Cuomo stated that the Gospel of John identifies Qana as the place where Jesus turned water into wine. Who would have imagined that Adam Shatz - of the far-left Nation magazine - would be a New Testament maven? But, saints alive, he leads his op-ed in today's LA Times with the very same story.
What could account for this new-found interest in the New Testament? You don't suppose it could have anything to do with a desire to add fuel to the anti-Israel fire in the wake of its bombing of Qana, do you?
The uniformed Cuban military officer pictured here barks commands at a smallish crowd in Havana that responds with pro-Fidel chants. Imagine you're an objective journalist. How would you report it? "The Castro regime orchestrates a public show of support," perhaps? Not Andrea Mitchell. Appearing on this morning's Today show, here's how NBC News' Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent characterized what you have to imagine was a less-than-spontaneous event:
"In Havana,Cubans turn out to show support for their long-time leader."
Andrea managed to get through her segment without mentioning Communism, repression or anything else that would cast aspersions on Los Hermanos Castro. She even obligingly passed along this bit of Castro propaganda: "He [Fidel] is calling on Cubans to remain calm, and they seem to be." Despite all the conjecture as to the state of his health Fidel hasn't made any public appearances. How can Mitchell know that it was indeed the great leader who was 'calling on' the Cuban people? And was it Fidel's reassuring words, or living in a police state, that had that calming effect on the Cuban people?
We're #156! Cuba, that is, in this CIA ranking of per capita income of the world's countries. Cuba trails such economic powerhouses as Guyana, Micronesia and, of course, Niue. But, hey, it's a full $200 ahead of basket-case Angola!
But economic beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Tothe Associated Press, the Cuban economy, with a litle help from designated Fidel-successor Raul, is 'successful.' Here's an excerpt from an AP article of today [hat tip to Drudge]:
"Raul has been deeply involved . . . with the military's successful peacetime efforts to help rescue Cuba's economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991."
In Miami, Cuban-Americans were literally dancing in the street at the prospect that the repressive regime of Fidel Castro might finally be drawing to an end. But back in Cuba, people greeted the news of the great liberator's illness with dismay. At least, they did according to CBS News' woman-on-the-spot.
On this morning's Early Show, CBS ran a brief clip of a phone interview with Portia Siegelbaum, a CBS News producer based in Cuba. Here is the entirety of her report:
"The news of Castro's illness was most unexpected. I spoke to half-a-dozen people last night and they seemed most shook up by his handing over power, even if provisionally, to his younger brother Raul."
Tim Russert used his Today show appearance this morning to paint a bleak tour d'horizon of Bush foreign policy, expressing the fond wish - in guise of a question - that the American people might come to their senses and throw the bums out at the mid-term elections.
Interviewed by co-host Campbell Brown, Russert first asked: "What's the end game? The concern among Republicans I've talked to is how are the American people viewing this? Is this blind allegiance to Israel or is this standing by the only ally we have in the region? They don't know how much longer there will be patience with the American people."
Russert later made the electoral connection, after casting matters in their darkest light. Rather than speaking of nascent democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current opportunity to defang Hezbollah, Russert portrayed things this way: