In a victory for the first amendment, a unanimous Federal Election Commission said Monday that it will not regulate political opinioneering on the internet. The ruling (official link) comes as a defeat for self-described "reform advocates" who see any speech that isn't subsidized by the government as evil.
The decision should give pause to those who would censor the most important form of speech and it ought to do the same to the mainstream media that beat the drums loudly for years for McCain-Feingold but was oddly silent as the commission considered whether to extend the bill to snuff out the new media.
On this issue, both liberal and conservative bloggers appear to be unanimous that, as one Daily Kos poster puts it, "To those who opposed us along the way, know that we have long memories and vigilant friends. Nevermore will we abandon this turf to the 'experts' who fear and criticize what they do not understand."
Fresh from winning an Oscar for his movie "Crash," director Paul Haggis is looking to produce and direct a movie based on the memoirs of Richard Clarke, the disgruntled former anti-terrorism official who accuses the Bush Administration of botching the war on terrorism.
Reuters reporter Tatiana Siegel has the story. Notably missing is when the expected release date for the picture will be. Anyone willing to bet against a summer of 2008 launch?
Hot off his best picture win for "Crash," Paul Haggis is in final negotiations to direct and produce "Against All Enemies," a project based on Richard A. Clarke's best-selling memoir chronicling the Bush administration's handling of terrorist threats.
Normally, the news that a film about racism won the Oscar for best picture is pretty much a dog-bites-man type of story. Old hat. Done before. What usually happens.
Not this year, though. The upset victory of "Crash" in the Academy Awards race has proven to be just that, but more for supporters of "Brokeback Mountain" than for anything else. Apparently, hell also hath no fury like a slightly-above-average gay movie scorned.
The backlash against "Crash" has been such that even avowedly liberal film critic Roger Ebert has stepped up to defend the film he had been pulling for to win the Oscar. After listing some of the more ridiculous criticisms from "Brokeback" supporters (see here, here, and here for more), Ebert notes how Academy of Motion Picture critics blithely ignore "Capote," which chronicled gay journalist Truman Capote's attempts to write the story of a murder of a rural family:
At a conference speech Thursday, former vice president Al Gore announced the formation of a coalition of political, labor, and religious groups which will soon begin making ad buys on America's television channels warning of the dangers of global warming. Gore also called on the nation's TV outlet owners to match the group's purchases with equal amounts of time gratis. No doubt some will take him up on his offer. Can you imagine, though, if say, Newt Gingrich were to call on media companies to match spending for a program arguing for the need to cut federal spending? He'd have been laughed off the stage.
We've often noted here at NewsBusters how the press seems to consider itself entitled to some right to know things before others. The White House press corps seems yet to recover that it wasn't the first be alerted about Vice President Cheney's shooting accident, for instance.
But this attitude is not limited to just the American media. Canadian blogger Kate Werk notes a similar arrogance in the press of her country which is upset that recently elected Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper isn't immediately telling who he's picking for his new cabinet. This arrogant attitude began during the tenure of the last Conservative PM, Brian Mulroney:
When Brian Mulroney won his landslide majority in 1984, a talking
head (whose identity I've forgotten) announced to the nation that in
the face of such a one sided parliament, the media would assume the role of opposition .
That was a signal that something was about to go desperately wrong,
and it did. The Canadian people had already spoken as to what voices
they wanted in parliament. The Ottawa press gallery weren't on the
ballot, yet they declared themselves elected, and they've by and large
behaved like pompous, entitled Liberal senators with a broadcast
license ever since.
According to a poll commissioned by the McCormick Tribune Foundation (details here) reveals that Americans know more about the long-running Fox cartoon family the Simpsons than they do about the First Amendment.
Only one-tenth of one percent (1 in 1000 people) of those surveyed were able to name all five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment--speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition--while 22 percent could identify the five members of the Simpson family--Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie.
Awareness of freedom of speech was pretty high in the survey at least. Well over half of respondents (69 percent) named it as a freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Knowledge of the other four, however, was low with the next most-cited freedom being religion with just 24 percent. That's 1 percent less than those who were able to name all three of the "American Idol" judges, Randy, Paula, and Simon.
Minnesota ABC affiliate KSTP continues to defend its refusal to run an ad from the conservative group Progress for America which says the American news media is witholding good news about the war in Iraq.
"The first spot had two statements that
implied the media intentionally withheld good news and intentionally
distorted reporting from Iraq. We know that's not true about KSTP. So
we declined to run the ad," station general manager Rob Hubbard is quoted as saying in a Chicago Tribune article which gives a good background on the controversy.
Are the "Midwest Heroes" (ads viewable here) set to become the Swiftboat Veterans of 2006?
After being bashed for years by an elite press corps full of ideological opponents, the Bush White House is fighting back in an upcoming book by former Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon, condemning the media and especially CBS.
"It's the beginning of the twenty-first century; it also happens to be the beginning of—or near the beginning—of a revolution in newsgathering and dissemination," President Bush said in an interview for Strategery, which is being released by publisher Alfred Regnery.
"I think what's healthy is that there's no monopoly on the news," Bush said. "There's competition. There's competition for the attention of, you know, 290 million people, or whatever it is.
Admin officials have especially strong words for CBS and its disgraced former anchorman, Dan Rather, whom strategist Karl Rove dismisses as "no serious reporter."
Too often, the media operate on a sort of "gentlemen's agreement" not to criticize each other so it's sometimes entertaining to see reporters and commentators step out of the "objective" pose, no matter how bizarrely.
It all started last Thursday when FNC host Bill O'Reilly announced a petition drive to get MSNBC to bring back fired host Phil Donahue out of "concern" for the network since the replacement host, Keith Olbermann, has actually lost viewers in the timeslot compared to three years ago when he first took over:
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." Bring back Phil Donahue. It was three years ago this month that MSNBC fired Mr. Donahue for low ratings. We felt bad for Phil. They didn't give him much of a chance.
Phil actually said his firing was a mistake, and he was right. His successor after three long years on the air actually has fewer viewers now than Donahue did when he left. That is a disaster.
So in the interest of fairness, we have a petition on BillOReilly.com to bring Phil back, and Marlo, too, if she wants. Kind of like that Maury- Connie thing. If enough of you sign the petition, we'll send it over to NBC and hopefully, Phil Donahue will get the chance he deserves. Let's go to bat for our friend Phil. To not do so would be ridiculous. Maybe we should get a bumper sticker.
Now you could say the feud started when Olbermann started making attacking O'Reilly a regular feature of his program, largely in an effort to pander to liberal viewers, but also partly out of a desire to get O'Reilly's goat. In any case, Olbermann was immensely pleased with the mention, responding on Friday's "Countdown" with an eight-minute-plus salvo, including a rehearsed signing of O'Reilly's petition, and a montage of MSNBC staffers doing the same.
The White House press corps is completely fair to Republicans and not only that Helen Thomas was "never, never" accused of being biased while she was a reporter.
That at least seems to be the view from the fishbowl of the veteran reporter-turned-columnist who sounded off in a highly contentious interview yesterday with radio host Hugh Hewitt. (Transcript and audio available at Radio Blogger.)
"I worked for United Press International for more than fifty years, and I wrote straight copy. I was never, never accused of bias," Thomas said. "I did not bow out of the human race. I permitted myself to care, to believe, to think. But I assure you, I assure you that it did not get in my copy."
Thomas also refused to state whether she disliked President Bush and became increasingly agitated at Hewitt's tough questioning. (Only Republican presidents deserve hard questions, after all.) More quotes below the fold.
Carsten Juste, the editor of the Danish newspaper that set off an international kerfuffle by publishing cartoons of the founder of Islam was interviewed in yesterday's edition. An excerpt from the Q&A:
There were some journalists here at the paper, including some who write regularly about Muslims, immigration, and integration, who strongly advised us not to do it. It was quite a discussion. Personally I thought the cartoons were harmless - very much in fitting with our Danish tradition for caricature. If some of the cartoons had been cruder - if an illustrator had given us Mohammed pissing on the Koran, for example - then it would have been pulled. The same way I've pulled a lot of cartoons over the years that devout Christians might have found insulting. Or others because they were too vulgar or too crude. I didn't feel that these were, and so we went ahead.'
In a country where freedom of the press is nearly absolute, it's always funny to see media figures act as if their speech is under threat by the mere fact that a Republican occupies the White House, as if by sheer force of his presence in a position of power, George W. Bush by thought alone (amazing considering his tremendous alleged stupidity), can see to it that all contrary speech is snuffed out of existence.
One media figure has enough of a tendency to do this alone but get a room full of them together and the paranoia and political naivete are thick enough to cut with a knife. Newsweek obtained such a result a few days ago when it got several Oscar nominated directors together for a chat. George Clooney and Steven Spielberg provided the bilge to go along with the coffee:
Over at the American Thinker, William Tate has a good post on how the New York Times, which is currently scourging the Bush Administration over concerns it's "abusing" surveillance powers, blythely ignored evidence of greater "abuse" of such powers by the Clinton Administration. Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
[D]uring the Clinton Administration, evidence existed (all of the information used in this article was available at the time) that: an invasive, extensive domestic eavesdropping program was aimed at every U.S. citizen; intelligence agencies were using allies to circumvent constitutional restrictions; and the administration was selling at least some secret intelligence for political donations.
These revelations were met by the New York Times and others in the mainstream media by the sound of one hand clapping. Now, reports that the Bush Administration approved electronic eavesdropping, strictly limited to international communications, of a relative handful of suspected terrorists have created a media frenzy in the Times and elsewhere.
Lefty media critics often assert that because large corporations control much of the media, that makes the press more likely to be biased toward economic conservatism. It's a laughable belief since study after study done by MRC and others show the media favor higher taxes and more regulation of business. The truth is that most large companies don't much care about politics. They can and do switch hit regularly.
The latest nail in the coffin in the myth of media economic conservatism comes from China where it appears that Microsoft's MSN Spaces program has implemented a system that automatically stops bloggers from posting entries with prohibited words like Tibet, Falun Gong, etc. Similar steps have been implemented by other Chinese blog hosting providers. Rebecca MacKinnon has an extensive posting on the matter replete with screenshots and other information.
Did the NSA, the government's international communications monitoring arm, spy on CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour? Lots of lefty blogs are upset about the possibility (see the Moderate Voice's listing of them).
Apparently, the fuss started with a transcript of an "NBC Nightly News" interview with New York Times reporter James Risen, according to NBC, accidentally included a question and answer that was not broadcast:
MITCHELL: You don't have any information, for instance, that a very prominent journalist, Christiane Amanpour, might have been eavesdropped upon?
RISEN: No, no I hadn't heard that.
After the story broke, the NSA said to CNN that it had not spied on Amanpour, marking one of the first times the agency has responded to a story broken by blogs.
There's a media story here for sure, but is there a political one? Michelle Malkin argues no considering the alleged spying likely occurred entirely outside the U.S. and thus was not illegal.
Will "old media's" finances continue to erode in 2006, or will upstart media companies finally get their comeuppance? I'm guessing it will be some combination of the two. Over at the Hollywood Reporter, Paul Bond thinks that after three straight years of declines, big media stocks will reverse course.
Hurricane Katrina is apparently still killing people. OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto reports:
Back in September we
noted that some twisted souls on the Angry Left were hoping for an
enormous death toll from Hurricane Katrina, because they thought that would
hurt President Bush politically and diminish the 9/11 attacks and the threat
of terrorism more generally. The actual death toll turned out to be in the low
four figures--a terrible tragedy to normal people, but a disappointment for
the aforementioned lefto sickos.
A story in the Associated Press, however, suggests that some people want to
inflate the Katrina death toll. "Even as the official toll continues to
rise when more bodies are found in once-flooded homes, the real total may never
be known," the AP says. "The victims are scattered far and wide, and
the connections of their deaths to the storm are not necessarily obvious."
Examples include "13-month-old Destiny McNeese, who rolled onto her stomach
and suffocated on an air mattress after her family fled from Kentwood [La.]
Shane Bishop, NBC Producer A producer for "Dateline NBC" is apparently collaborating with a convicted killer in order to get a sensational story about another one. The Austin-American Statesman reports:
"Dateline NBC" producer Shane Bishop has a deal for Gov. Rick Perry: Promise to waive the death penalty for an imprisoned Arkansas murderer, and I'll help you solve two murders in the Fort Worth area in 1982 and 1983.
The unusual offer came in a Nov. 29 letter from the California-based Bishop to Perry and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, offering to help solve three cold murder cases in the two states if the chief executives would "guarantee not to pursue the death penalty" against an Arkansas convict serving life without parole for murder.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2011—Karl Rove, the former Bush official
was named ABC's chief Washington correspondent, the network said Tuesday.
In a world where liberal press bias doesn't exist, such a
lede could, theoretically, exist. In the real world, ABC named former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos its chief Washington
correspondent Monday afternoon.
With former Mario Cuomo adviser Tim Russert heading NBC's
coverage, that means two of the three broadcast networks' political coverage
will be overseen by former Democratic officials. From Broadcasting and Cable:
Watching a TV talking head or reading a article, sometimes one wonders at how much a journalist is willing to sell him/herself. Apparently in the UK, the price is about $59.
That may seem an unusual thing to say but this eBay auction for a "used" editorial staff of a southwestern English newspaper is hardly something you see every day.
Apparently, the staff of the Western Daily Press is about to be the subject of a downsizing as its parent company prepares to sell the paper and several others. To get around this, the Press's editorial staff is offering interested buyers the "the right to employ every redundant member of staff to produce the newspaper of your choice."
"This could be the start of your media empire," the listing reads, later offering a "FREE guarantee of dedication to our prospective new employer" with a promise that the staff is willing to work unpaid overtime hours.
The American people continue to maintain skeptical attitudes toward the press and politicians according to a recent survey:
The annual Gallup Poll asking Americans to rate, on
a scale of one to five, the honesty and ethical standards of those in
21 professions again placed nurses at the very top with an 82% favorate
score. Journalists, U.S. senators and congressmen trailed badly.
In fact, the senators and congressmen, near the very
bottom of the list, should heed this call: They finished behind lawyers
and building contractors.
Those in advertising finished below congressmen but managed to beat out car salesmen and telemarketers.
Receiving the highest ethical scores in order were
nurses, pharmacists , medical doctors, high school teachers, policemen,
and clergy, with journalists trailing badly. [...]
ABC News today named Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff as the anchors of its evening flagship program "World News Tonight."
From the press release:
Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of an expanded version of ABC News’ flagship broadcast “World News Tonight,” News President David Westin announced today. Beginning Monday, January 2nd, when Vargas and Woodruff debut together as co-anchors, “World News Tonight” will become the first evening newscast to broadcast a live version to the West Coast each night. World News Tonight will also make various versions of its reports available over the Internet throughout the afternoon and evening.
“Elizabeth and Bob together will be the anchors for this new broadcast and digital age of World News Tonight. Their experience as journalists, their familiarity to our audiences, and their commitment to gathering and delivering the news anywhere, anytime and in every way make them the right team to take us forward for the next generation,” said Westin.
He continued: “World News Tonight has been and will continue to be the source for millions of Americans to get careful, comprehensive and insightful reporting of the news of the day. Now we will be providing that news live throughout the evening on television; now we will be making that news available to Americans throughout the afternoon and evening to those who want it over computers, mobile telephones, and the countless other digital means.”
At 8:00pm Eastern, C-SPAN2 will air an interview that the MRC's L. Brent Bozell conducted with Mary Mapes, the fired CBS News producer who was behind the story that led to last year's Memogate scandal.
Use this thread to comment on "After Words" following its broadcast.
UPDATED with video, 3am EST Sunday. Video excerpt #1 (2:39 in length): Real (4.4 MB) or Windows Media (5.2 MB). Video excerpt #2 (3:44 in length): Real (6 MB) or Windows Media (7 MB).
Reminder: The entire hour-long show will re-air twice Sunday on C-SPAN2/Book TV. By time zone: EST: 6 and 9pm; CST: 5 and 8pm; MST: 4 and 7pm; PST: 3 and 6pm.
"This week on 'After Words' journalist Mary Mapes explains her investigative story on George W. Bush's National Guard record that aired on 60 Minutes II. Her new book about the experience is titled Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power. Ms. Mapes tells her version of the controversy over the segment, and the ensuing internal investigation at CBS that led to Dan Rather's resignation as anchor of "CBS Evening News," and her own dismissal. She is interviewed by Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center."
The hour-long session, taped Thursday afternoon, airs Saturday, December 3 at 8pm EST and repeats Sunday at 6pm EST and 9pm EST on C-SPAN2. We'll have a live thread Saturday night. UPDATE, 3am EST Sunday: See this node for two video clips.
After rejecting overtures from CBS earlier this year, Katie Couric is being actively courted by new CBS News president Sean McManus, the L.A. Times reports:
While the 48-year-old morning host is contemplating the offer, sources
said, it's unclear whether she can formally negotiate a new job until
her NBC contract expires in May.
NBC News President Steve Capus said the network hopes to hold on
to Couric, who has been the face of the "Today" show for almost 15
years. He called the growing speculation about her next step
CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves had unsuccessfully tried to lure Couric
away last spring when Dan Rather left the anchor desk. Since then,
veteran Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has served as interim
anchor of the evening newscast, a stint he expected would only last a
few months, while network executives pondered how to remake the show.
When McManus replaced news President Andrew Heyward in October, he
announced that one of his immediate goals was to court new talent to
the network. Couric has been his top priority, sources said, with the
news president offering her "the moon" to come aboard.
Bill Moyers, the departed PBS host who has repeatedly condemned
the Bush Administration for its support of the Patriot Act for
allegedly being too intrusive in Americans' lives apparently has some
experience in the matter.
In a column released today, Robert Novak reveals
that during the 1964 presidential campaign while working for Lyndon
Johnson, Moyers asked FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to dig dirt on a
rival presidential campaign:
Even worse than "dirt collection," [federal judge Laurence Silberman] continued, was Hoover's
offering of Bureau files to presidents. He exempted only Harry S.
Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower from this use of FBI files, but said,
"Lyndon Johnson was the most demanding."
Johnson's aide Walter Jenkins was arrested for homosexual conduct in a
men's room during the 1964 campaign, Silberman said, LBJ aide Bill
Moyers directed Hoover to find similar conduct on Barry Goldwater's
staff. "Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files," he continued.
An "outraged" Moyers telephoned Silberman, he said, to assert that the
memo was "phony." "Taken aback," said Silberman, he offered an
investigation to publicly exonerate Moyers. "There was a pause on the
line, and then he [Moyers] said, 'I was very young. How will I explain
this to my children?'" "Silberman's account of our conversation is at
odds with mine," Moyers told me when I asked for comment.
A CNN switchboard operator was fired over the holiday -- after the operator claimed the 'X' placed over Vice President's Dick Cheney's face was "free speech!"
"We did it just to make a point. Tell them to stop lying, Bush and Cheney," the CNN operator said to a caller. "Bring our soldiers home."
The caller initially phoned the network to complain about the all-news channel flashing an "X' over Cheney as he gave an address live from Washington.
"Was it not freedom of speech? Yes or No?" the CNN operator explained.
"If you don't like it, don't watch."
Laurie Goldberg, Senior Vice President for Public Relations with CNN, said in a release:
"A Turner switchboard operator was fired today after we were alerted to a conversation the operator had with a caller in which the operator lost his temper and expressed his personal views -- behavior that was totally inappropriate. His comments did not reflect the views of CNN. We are reaching out to the caller and expressing our deep regret to her and apologizing that she did not get the courtesy entitled to her. "
Comments are a wonderful thing and truly one of the best features of blogging. I say that because a particular comment on the CBS News "Public Eye" blog is worth highlighting here at NewsBusters now that axed CBS News producer Mary Mapes has come under increasing fire from her former employer. This raises a question for PE commenter "Neuro-con." (Unfortunately, CBS's software does not allow direct linking to a comment so you'll have to search or scroll a bit.)
Mapes' book was newsworthy, in that it confirmed that she has an
extremely distorted notion of truth. CBS is implicated in maintaining
such an individual on the payroll for 15 years.
CBS has an ethical obligation to (at least) make public a list of her previous pieces for 60 Minutes, along with transcripts.
The NY Times and The New Republic, when confronted with a
pathological liar on the payroll, went back and re-reported every
single one of their stories. In both cases, a pattern of behavior was
Vaughn [Ververs, PE's editor], please answer this question: Why does CBS hold itself to a much lower standard than the NYTimes or The New Republic?
Left-wing media bias certainly isn't a problem restricted only to the United States. According to the London Guardian, one of France's top TV bosses admitted earlier this month that his network deliberately refrained from showing burning cars in its coverage of France's domestic rioting for fear that doing so would help "right-wing" political parties.
One of France's leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.
Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service LCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been "excessive" and could even be fanning the flames of the violence. [...]
"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.
Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry threatened legal action on Monday against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who wins laughs by portraying the central Asian state as a country populated by drunks who enjoy cow-punching as a sport.
Baron Cohen, who portrays a spoof Kazakh television presenter Borat in his "Da Ali G Show", has won fame ridiculing Kazakhstan, the world's ninth largest country yet still little known to many in the West.
Baron Cohen appears to have drawn official Kazakh ire after he hosted the annual MTV Europe Music Awards show in Lisbon earlier this month as Borat, who arrived in an Air Kazakh propeller plane controlled by a one-eyed pilot clutching a vodka bottle.