Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM To: Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
Here's a strategy for pro-life activists: start talking up the fact that humans share 90% [or whatever the number is] of their DNA with seals. It might win you more sympathy from the MSM. For while the liberal media love to celebrate 'a woman's right to choose', they go all weepy at the prospect of baby seals biting the dust, er, ice.
The Today show was at it again this morning with a segment on the baby seal harvest in Canada, complete with the predictable footage of those cuddly baby seals at the mercy of heartless hunters. 'Today' even warned us that "what you are about to see may be disturbing to some people."
What have the Dems and their MSM echo-chamber been clamoring for, nay, demanding, when it comes to Iraq? Why, a troop withdrawal, of course. Yet there was Matt Lauer on this morning's Today, fretting that President Bush might . . . withdraw troops.
Lauer's lament came in the course of his interview of former General Barry McCaffrey, looking ahead to the Iraq summit that Pres. Bush is holding at Camp David beginning today with his top national security advisers.
" Do you worry about a political side of this, that the administration may pull a substantial number troops out of Iraq just prior to November's mid-term elections simply to sway public opinion?"
You might say the Boston Globe has taken the condemnation of Ann Coulter to new depths. Its editorial cartoon of 9/11, by staffer Dan Wasserman, suggess that Coulter's criticism of the 'Jersey Girls'- the 9/11 widows turned harsh Bush administration critics - amounts to desecration of the graves of the 9/11 victims themselves. Wasserman also swipes at what he perceives to be Coulter's brand of Christianity.
Jealous guardians of high standards or just . . . jealous? There was a rare bit of consensus on tonight's Fox News Watch, as pundits from left and right came together to condemn Ann Coulter for what they judged to be money-motivated excesses in her latest opus, 'Godless: The Church of Liberalism'. The focus was Coulter's controversial statements about the Jersey Girls - the 9/11 widows turned harsh Bush administration critics. Highlighted was this excerpt from Ann's book:
"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them . . . I have never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much."
On the day of the running of the final leg of the Triple Crown, we've got a new leader in the Wackiest Zarqawi-Take Stakes. The new favorite in the kooky conspiracy derby is far from a colt. Galloping ghosts! It's De-Frosted Anti-Vietnam War Man and battle-hardened Jane Fonda veteran Tom Hayden. His winning notion? That Zarqawi might really have been our guy in Iraq.
In thisHuffington Post piece, Hayden tries to give himself cover by stating "I have no reason to believe Zarqawi was an [American] agent," but then immediately goes on to contradict himself, darkly musing:
I'm on a quick strike down to NYC today to attend a talk radio convention.
And speaking of quick strikes, Matt Lauer launched one at Karen Hughes on this morning's 'Today.' Hughes, who serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, was on to discuss US relations in the Arab world in the, ahem, wake of the killing of Zarqawi.
At the end of the interview, Lauer hit Hughes with this 21/2-month old quote from Donald Rumsfeld:
"If I were grading, I would say we probably deserve a D or a D-plus as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today. And I’m not going to suggest that it’s easy, but we have not found the formula as a country."
As has been documented at NewsBusters here, here, here and here, the predictable MSM response to the killing of Zarqawi has been to downplay its signficance. But there was one surprising bright spot late this morning. CNN host Carol Lin gave pull-out-now John Murtha a surprisingly rough run for his money.
Lin: "A very big day for this administration. Is it fair to say that this attack and the killing of Al-Zarqawi wouldn't have happened if US troops were not on the ground?"
Murtha was unwilling to concede the point: "I'm not sure about that. I'm not sure they couldn't have done it from the outside. If it's as portrayed, it was a bomb that killed him from the air, so I'm not sure about that."
On the other end of the spectrum, Interviewed this morning on GMA, Richard Clarke - former White House advisor, turned author and bitter Bush-administration critic - scoffed at the significance of the killing of Zarqawi. Host Diane Sawyer was happy to second Clarke's emotion.
Sawyer: "First question has got to be this morning, is it any safer in Iraq and will the war end any sooner?"
Good on Don Imus! On today's 'Imus in the Morning,' he called NBC reporter Mike Boettcher on his attempt to spin a bombing in Baghdad as a "not good" response to the killing of Zarqawi.
Here's how it went down. Boettcher was reporting from Baghdad and had this to say:
Boettcher: "Well, good morning, Don. We have the response here right now [to the Zarqawi killing], it’s not good. There have been, there has been another bombing. Thirteen people are dead in central Baghdad. So that is apparently the current reaction from the insurgents to Zarqawi's death."
Imus: "How do we know that's a reaction to that, Mike?"
Boettcher started to back down: "We don't know for sure, Don. You’re right, you’re absolutely right."
You just knew it. The MSM had to find a way to downplay the significance of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Whereas he had been portrayed as the key to violence in the country, now that he's dead, he is described as just one among 'many thousands'.
And sure enough, on CNN this morning at about 6:20 AM, there was Octavia Nasr CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs, interviewed by host Soledad O'Brien, suggesting that Zarqawi's death might not really be such a 'big deal', after all. Nasr reported that beyond Al Qaeda, there are thousands of other, home-grown insurgent groups in Iraq, 'many' of which are more powerful that Al Qaeda.
"Experts we talk to all the time tell us to be very careful with the way we describe Al Qaeda in Iraq. They say they are the ones that get the most attention, especially from the U.S. media, the western media, but tell us there are many small insurgency groups in Iraq that are more powerful than Al Qaeda, the Zarqawi group. They tell us that there is a resistance in Iaq that is a bit different from the terror groups like Zarqawi's group. So percentage wise, I don't think anyone can put a number on that. But definitely the experts tell us that this is not a lone group in Iraq. There are many thousands more like it."
There comes a point at which denial drifts into delusion, and Mary Mapes has crossed it. Incredibly, she is out with a Huffington Post piece calling the assertion of the irrefutable fact that the Rathergate documents were blatant forgeries a 'lie.'
It's one thing to say those who claim forgery haven't made their case. But to call their assertions a 'lie' is affirmatively to assert the authenticity of the Rathergate documents. Mapes thus lurches one giant step deeper into delusion. Her accusation also shifts the burden of proof. If indeed the documents are authentic, why then: prove it, Mary.
For weeks, the MSM has been billing as a bellwether the congressional by-election in California to replace convicted felon Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. As per the conventional wisdom, if the Democrats managed to take the seat in what is normally a GOP-stronghold, it would be seen as a harbinger of horrible things to come for the Republican congressional majority.
Well, the election was held yesterday, and - whoops! - the Republican, Brian Bilbray, won. So how did Today spin it? Why, silence was suddenly golden. At least as of the crucial first half-hour, there was time for coverage of dust in the Arizonan desert, but not a word of the Bilbray victory. Insert your imagine-if-the-Dem-had-won comment here.
While considerable attention focuses on Ann Coulter's more superficial charms, from a conservative perspective Ann's real beauty is her absolute refusal to buy into liberal logic, no matter how pervasive. That independence of mind was on display this morning during her 'Today' interview with Matt Lauer. Ann was on to tout her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, released today on . . . 6/6/6 - sign of the devil and all that. [See today's open thread.]
The first example came in the context of President Bush's current push for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage. The liberal mantra on his initiative, as exemplified by Ann Curry's performance on yesterday's Today, is that this is a cynical political ploy and a waste of time when there are myriad 'real' issues out there to be addressed.
Katie Couric's gone, but not to worry: the Today show hasn't missed a beat of liberal bias. This morning's topic was one near and dear to the MSM heart - gay marriage. And sure enough . . .
Ann Curry interviewed MSNBC show host and former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough on the issue. But while Ann theoretically is serving as Matt Lauer's temporary co-host pending the arrival of Meredith Vieira, Curry seems stuck in her erstwhile newsreader mode, dutifully parroting DNC and NY Times talking points.
The basic liberal line on the marriage amendment debate is "why are we wasting time on this when there are so many more pressing issues to be addressed?" And sure enough, the very first words out of Curry's mouth to Scarborough were: "we are in the middle of a rising public debate about the war with Iraq and Haditha and hurricane season is coming. Why in your view is the president attacking gay marriage now?" Hurricanes and Haditha in one sentence - not bad, Ann. But if only you had worked Halliburton in there, it would have been shades of My Fair Lady: 'in hurricanes, Haditha and Halliburton, amendments hardly happen!'
The headline reads 'US probe of Ishaqi killings no surprise for Iraqis.' You might have thought the headline and accompanying article were from Al-Jazeera. But no, it's Reuters that wrote the headline that, dripping with skepticism, suggests that the US military inquiry that cleared American soldiers from wrongdoing in connection with the killing of civilians at Ishaqi was a whitewash. That same cynicism persists throughout the article. Consider these excerpts:
"Isa Khalaf doesn't want cash from the U.S. troops he says massacred his relatives in a March raid. He wants an explanation he may never get now that a U.S. probe has cleared them of any wrongdoing."
"The U.S. investigation that cleared soldiers of any misconduct in Ishaqi may have allowed the soldiers to move on with their lives. But the farming town will be haunted by memories of the bloodshed."
The host might be different, but the partisan bias is the same.
Norah O'Donnell sat in for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball. The first half hour was devoted to a discussion of Haditha, with Norah making frequent allusions to a "failure of leadership" and wondering why President Bush didn't know the facts and disclose them to the press sooner.
But speaking of disclosure . . . Norah didn't find it necessary to disclose to viewers that two of her three guests were partisan Democrats.
Paul Hackett, shown in the first photo, was the Democratic candidate for Congress from Ohio's 2nd District, and later sought the Democratic senatorial nomination. But Norah introduced him only as "a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and also ran for office in Ohio." Unsuspecting viewers might well have thought that, if anything, the Marine vet was a Republican.
For the second day running, Chris Matthews has run a Hardball segment entitled "Does Hill Fit the Bill?" It's his way of asking whether Hillary Clinton would make a good presidential candidate, and, presumably, by play-on-words, whether she's up to the political standard set by Bill.
While Matthews hasn't squarely answered his own question, he clearly seems skeptical about Hillary's personal and political qualities.
His first guest on the topic this evening was the urbane Roger Altman, Hillary adviser and a Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Matthews grilled Altman on Hillary's hawkishness.
Matthews: "A lot of people in her party, maybe four out of five Democrats, especially New York Democrats, are against this war. Think we never should have gone into Iraq. Hillary on the other hand OK'd the president's authority to go to Iraq and has subsequently stuck to that position, that that was a decision that she still honors, believes in, is by most standards a hawk. How can she lead a doveish party as a hawk?"
The topic was the disconnect between Hillary Clinton's support for the Iraq war and the fact that her coterie is composed of hard-core, anti-war liberals. In discussing it with guest Dee Dee Myers on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews let slip that he equates liberalism with 'caring' for peace and human rights.
Here's how it went down. Discussing Hillary's inner circle, Matthews suddenly interjected:
"Here's something I find to be a mystery, and it just came to me, Dee Dee. You can answer it, you can solve it. When I think about the people who are really loyal to Senator Clinton, they're all pretty much liberals - and I mean liberals - I don't mean just on big spending programs at home, but they really care about peace, and they care about human rights, and they're very suspicious of foreign policy intrigue and overreach. And yet Hillary Clinton is for that. She was for the war with [sic] Iraq. She still is. How can she build a campaign for president on the backs of people who don't agree with her on the central issue of our time?"
You have to admire the consistency of Katie Couric and her Today show crew. In her final appearance as Today show host, we were treated to a litany of parting shots at Republicans and bouquets tossed to Democrats. The first half-hour was a stroll down memory lane with Katie-the-hard-nosed-reporter asking the tough questions. But . . . surprise! The only objects of pointed inquiries were non-Democrats.
First was her famous ambush interview of Pres. George H.W. Bush when the ostensible purpose of her White House visit was a tour with Barbara Bush on the occasion of the building's 200th anniversary:
Couric to Bush: "Some Democrats say you have not leveled about your knowledge of Iran-Contra."
Next was this question/snipe for Ross Perot: "Some people are left with the impression that you're vindictive, that you're ruthless. a sore loser, and they don't feel comfortable with that."
She was seen interviewing Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton, but there were no questions, no context.
But when Bob Dole appeared, in an interview from some campaign past , Tough Katie suddenly re-appeared: "Some people think from your comments that you've made of late that you're being an apologist for the tobacco industry, that somehow they have you in their pocket."
There are surely Bill O'Reilly experts out there who have carefully charted the history of his pronouncements on the Iraq war. But as a casual observer, it seemed to me that in this evening's Talking Points, O'Reilly struck an altogether more negative tone on Iraq, with implications for future US foreign policy.
Here's what he had to say: "The chaos in Afghanistan and Iraq will never end, because there will always be people who hate Americans. And we are an occupying force in those countries. The very important question is how do we as citizens process what's going on in those theaters of war? In Afghanistan, the Taliban are just waiting until we leave and will always be waiting. Whether the Karzai government will ever be strong enough to defeat them is an open question.
A bit of political gender-bending on this morning's Today, as ostensibly conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq while the normally hyper-partisan James Carville did anything but ride to the defense of his fellow Democrat, Congressman William Jefferson, apparently caught with his hand in a $100G cookie jar.
The pair were Katie Couric's guests largely for purposes of discussing the investigation into the possibility that Marines killed numerous Iraqi civilians in cold blood in the city of Haditha. Carville sought to exploit the subject for all its political worth, coming close to excusing the Marines who were directly involved for purposes of condemning those higher up the chain of command.
Could there be a new sheriff on the block at Fox News Watch? Brash lefty Neal Gabler often manages to get the last word, but on last evening's show he was soundly put in his place by National Review editor Rich Lowry, substituting for Cal Thomas.
The topic was the recent press leaks that have compromised a number of highly-classified anti-terrorism programs including the secret prisons for Al-Qaeda members, the monitoring of Al-Qaeda related phone calls and the gathering of phone calling patterns.
Predictably, Gabler was highly critical of the prospect of the government going against those who, by publishing the leaks, potentially cause significant damage to our national security interests:
You almost expected The Edwin Hawkins Singers to turn up on set. For, short of Hillary raising her right hand on the steps of the Capitol some time in January of 2009, it just doesn't get much happier for Today than this morning. In one fell news cycle, George Bush and Enron evil-doers laid low.
It couldn't have come quick enough for Katie Couric. Interviewing Tim Russert on the president's mea culpa performance of yesterday, in which he and Tony Blair admitted to mistakes in his handling of Iraq, she asked:
"Do you think both men should have tried this approach sooner?"
Lest anyone think that the president's remorse will appease the MSM, it was obvious that, now with a taste of blood, the liberal media pack will only call for more. Couric wasted no time in going after Donald Rumsfeld:
With the Yankees fresh from taking two-out-of-three from the Red Sox, why not a Today show double-header this morning?
In the opener, with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Washington for talks with President Bush, Today did its best to rain out any good news emerging from Iraq.
NBC White House reporter David Gregory observed that "two leaders who have paid a heavy political price for launching the war in Iraq will stand together tonight before the country to argue there is new reason for hope."
A hope that Gregory was quick to seek dash. Whereas new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said he expects Iraqi forces to be able to assume major responsibility for securing the country within 18 months, Gregory described it as a "tall order given Iraqi forces have been infiltrated by gangs fueling sectarian violence in the country."
Imagine that Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank were profiling a Democrat who was as steadfastly liberal as Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is conservative. The column virtually writes itself. We can imagine the liberal described as "putting principle above expediency", "courageous," perhaps even "speaking truth to power."
But when it comes to a conservative such as Sessions, that same adherence to principle is cast in the most negative light. Consider these excerpts from Milbank's column of today, Forget Politics. This Battle Is Personal. which focuses on Sessions' stand on immigration:
"Jeff Sessions sure knows how to nurse a grudge."
"Now he is turning his prodigious anger on legislation."
"A stream of epithets about the legislation flowed from his mouth."
"He argues his points not with the courtly Southern tones of the late senator Howell Heflin (D), his predecessor, but with the harsh twang of a country tough -- which, in a sense, he is."
Let's imagine that instead of Al Gore, Katie Couric's guest this morning was a Republican presidential hopeful whose message on the environment was that we should not let alarmism push us into measures that would undermine our economy and way of life. Could you ever - ever! - imagine Katie flashing at him the 10,000 megawatt smile she has on display here for Al?
There's one more dead giveaway that Katie & Co. are getting aboard the Al Gore Enviro Train. When Today really wants to play up an issue, they brand it. Last week, flacking for the Da Vinci Code, Today sent Matt Lauer for a week "On The Road with the Code."
In introducing Gore, there to promote his global warming book and movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', Couric announced:
Sometimes you just want to throw up your hands. Interviewing another big oil exec this morning, Katie Couric's proposed solution to high gas prices was to repeal the laws of supply and demand . . . just a little bit.
Whereas Matt Lauer took a while in his interview of another oil exec to get around to his price-cutting point, Katie wasted no time. Interviewing Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, Katie's opening salvo was
"I am just wondering, you and many other oil companies are posting record high profits, of course. And while the average consumer is hurting. I am wondering, Mr. Hofmeister, would it help the long term reputation and value of your company and shareholders if you could feel the pain that consumers were feeling and decrease the wholesale value of gasoline? Is that something you would ever consider?"
In one fell segment, Chris Matthews pulled back the curtain and revealed his view of America's foreign policy intentions as fundamentally pernicious. For him, far from the liberator of Iraq, the United States is no better than a 'colonial master.'
Matthews' guest on this evening's 'Hardball' was John Batiste, one of the former generals calling for Donald Rumsfeld's removal as Secretary of Defense. Not long ago, the Today show accorded Batiste a platform to make his Rumsfeld-must-go pitch. The topic at hand tonight was the failure to anticipate the insurgency with which we have been been faced in Iraq.
Describing the miscalculation, Matthews said: "It's like the British coming in to New York at the beginning of the Revolution and saying they weren't going to face any resistance."