The Associated Press today reports on the death of Gerard Damiano, described by AP writer Sarah Larimer as the director of a "pioneering pornographic film":
Damiano's "Deep Throat" was a mainstream box-office success and helped launch the modern hardcore adult-entertainment industry. Shot in six days for just $25,000, the 1972 flick became a cultural must-see for Americans who had just lived through the sexual liberation of the 1960s.
Mainstream box-office success? A cultural must-see? Not as I recall. In a 2005 Los Angeles Times piece disputing claims of how much money was made by "Deep Throat," Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Hiltzik noted that the movie was "banned in half the country and generally exhibited in one theater at a time even in the biggest cities, such as New York and Los Angeles."
Like much of the mainstream media, CNN anchor Jack Cafferty has set aside any pretense of objectivity in this year's presidential election. On today's Situation Room he used a "Cafferty File" segment, in which a question is posed to viewers for their response, to attack GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He prefaced the question:
But McCain chose Sarah Palin, who immediately became a national joke to everybody, except the conservative base of the Republican Party. Even some Republicans are convinced the Palin selection showed a total lack of judgment on McCain's part.
Oh, what about Florida Governor Charlie Crist? Would winning Florida help John McCain? You get the idea here.
Here's the question: Was it a mistake for John McCain to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate?
Last Thursday, his question for viewers was if they think John McCain has run an honorable campaign. Some of his background "information":
In fact, in the last few weeks, John McCain has become downright nasty.
In case you've been in a cave the last few news cycles, it's been widely reported that the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's largest newspaper, has endorsed Barack Obama. Typical was this from NPR's Morning Edition:
Newspapers have been making presidential endorsements. Republican John McCain won the backing of his home state's largest paper, The Arizona Republic. The Chicago Tribune endorsed Chicago resident Barack Obama — the first time that paper has endorsed a Democratic candidate for president. And Obama received the backing from another paper you might not expect — the Anchorage Daily News. The state's largest newspaper was not swayed by the fact that McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is the state's governor.
On Thursday's ABC World News, anchor Charles Gibson's lead-off story was on the presidential campaign:
"Two weeks, five days to go, home stretch. Barack Obama and John McCain began today laying out their closing strategies. And while Obama continues to hold a double-digit lead in most national polls, it is the results in individual states that are all important."
The emphasis on Obama's supposedly huge, possibly insurmountable lead is used by some in the mainstream media to suggest the inevitability of a Democratic win. But you have to wonder, at least in this instance, what polls ABC News is examining. Obama enjoys a lead in most opinion surveys, but it's not as large as Gibson claimed.
Today's dose of unintended humor from the Chicago Sun-Times is Mary Mitchell's "McCain slings mud up from the low road." It's a standard anti-John McCain diatribe from the increasingly venomous Mitchell. To buttress her contention, she falls into tailoring her facts:
Throughout his campaign, Obama has been loathe to talk about race. And frankly, that apparently was a winning strategy since most people can't talk about race without getting angry.
And while black people used to be accused of whining when they talk about race, we're now called racist for daring to believe anyone can be racist.
But white people can apparently talk about race and get away with it.
Sun-Times columnist Andrew Greeley called out Palin in a way only a white writer can.
OK, Mary, let's try this once more. Obama has not "been loathe to talk about race." He's the one - or do you prefer The One? - who injected race into the campaign.
"South Pacific" is a morality play for our time. Sarah Palin is the Ensign Nellie Forbush -- an All-American girl as racist, this time a racist with her eye on the White House. She can stir up crowds to shout "Kill him!" at the mention of the presidential candidate of the other party a couple of weeks before the national election.
Playing the race card explicitly merely guarantees what I have thought from the beginning -- racism in this country precludes the possibility of a sepia-colored man becoming president. However, the last-ditch attack on him guarantees that McCain and Palin will be blamed as the candidates who were content to hear crowds calling for the death of Obama.
Today on CNN's American Morning, Cook County sheriff Tom Dart was interviewed by anchor John Roberts. Dart has announced his office will quit carrying out evictions stemming from mortgage foreclosures until lenders start exercising "due diligence." During the interview, Dart made the point that some evictions involve people who have not defaulted on their mortgages, but have simply been paying rent to landlords who did. Roberts's comments at the end of the interview are telling:
ROBERTS: So the Illinois Bankers Association is accusing you of "vigilantism" and, quote, "at the highest level of an elected official." What do you say to that?
DART: I think the outrage is on my part with them. That they would so cavalierly issue documents and have me throw people out of homes who have done absolutely nothing wrong. They played by all the rules. And because of their ignorance and their lack of diligence and going out to their own property and finding out who is out there, innocent people are being set out.
On Saturday's Ballot Bowl 2008, CNN anchor Ed Henry interviewed actor Jon Voight. Henry must have been surprised when Voight very quickly made an important point, one that it's impossible to deny: Much of the mainstream media has become unabashedly partisan. Henry asked Voight how he thought Sarah Palin did in the recent vice presidential candidate debate:
JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: She was wonderful in the debate. My deepest concern, you know. Let me just say -- can I say something honestly about the debate? The thing that concerned me about the debate, all these people, 70 to 80 million people watching this debate, and I found so many things that I found Joe Biden said that were - that I recognized as out-right lies. So I'm saying, isn't anybody on this? And of course, we're talking to CNN and I know where you guys stand. And I'm saying, guys, we've got to not have a partisan press. We've got to have real journalism here. And it's a sad event for me to witness this.
CBS News' Dean Reynolds may get in hot water with his mainstream media associates for doing the unforgivable: He's committed the truth. On CBS's "From the Road" blog yesterday, Reynolds wrote, "Reporter's Notebook: Seeing How The Other Half Lives." The reporter recently switched from covering Barack Obama's campaign to that of John McCain. His rumination includes these interesting tidbits:
The (Obama) national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" is broadcast.
Jane Pauley, one-time co-host of NBC's Today and Dateline NBC programs, is actively campaigning for Barack Obama. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote of one such appearance in Portage, Indiana that attracted only eight people. That event also featured Steve Skvara, the retired steelworker who in August of last year tearfully asked Democratic presidential candidates at a debate, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?"
It's only fair that I follow up by reporting that Pauley's current efforts are being met with much more enthusiasm. Maybe it's because she's now campaigning at Democratic headquarters and that's a more welcoming venue than the previously utilized union hall, difficult as it is to distinguish between the two. Perhaps the advance planning, blamed for her earlier poor turnout, was improved. Possibly it's because she lost Skvara, even though his admirers include MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who last year asked Skvara, "Well, can I pay tribute—can I pay tribute to you, sir?"
The McCain-Palin campaign had said the tax returns would be released Monday, but it suddenly put them out Friday afternoon — a time long used by government to reveal embarrassing news because few people watch TV or read newspapers Friday evening and Saturday.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife on Friday released a decade of their personal financial records, showing a veteran U.S. senator who earned less than many of his congressional colleagues.
Oddly, no mention was made that Friday is "a time long used by government to reveal embarrassing news."
It actually came after the debate, when for seemingly the millionth time, Sarah Palin trotted out her piece de resistance, her favorite prop of this campaign season: her five and a half month old son Trig.
Why is this child up so late every time there is a camera op? Why isn't this baby sleeping in a crib or bassinet somewhere with a sleep sheep or some other sound apparatus lulling him into night-night? Is it just me or does it seem like she carts this poor child around like a living breathing example of how wonderful a mom she is? After all, she's more than adopted the "I'm just a mom, just like you moms out there, America" attitude.
Today on CNN's American Morning, network correspondent Alina Cho conducted yet another "truth squad" check of a claim made by a presidential candidate. In this instance, it's the claim Barack Obama makes that he was a leader in ethics reform when he served in the Illinois state senate. Anchor Kiran Chetry led off the segment:
CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." Time again to check in with the "Truth Squad." Alina Cho looking at some statements that Barack Obama is making about taking on lobbyists. "Lobbyist," the dirty word in presidential politics.
ALINA CHO, CNN GENERAL ASSIGNMENT CORRESPONDENT: Big, bad dirty word, Kiran. Good morning. Good morning, everybody. It's something that Barack Obama talks about often on the campaign trail. No surprise how he's taken on lobbyists and he says as president, he'll do it again to reform health care and take on Wall Street. Here he is on Tuesday in Reno, Nevada.
In their quest to supply as many reasons as possible to vote for Barack Obama, the mainstream media have expressed a particular interest in John McCain's mortality. Last May, McCain made available more than 1,000 pages of medical records for press scrutiny. In contrast, Obama released a one-page letter from a physician pronouncing the Democrat in excellent health.
Last week, the Detroit Free Press's Web site posted "Which books would Palin want to ban?," a column by syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. Pitts begins with a series of possible questions for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Then he makes his point:
My first question, though, would not be one of those. I'd simply ask which books she wants to ban -- and why.
Yes, there's a list of titles floating around the Internet right now, but it's a fake. It is, however, established fact that our would-be vice president has in the past tried to pull books off library shelves.
As one who's been critical of CNN's Lou Dobbs a time or two, I was glad to see him and correspondents Louise Schiavone and Kitty Pilgrim perform a valuable public service on Friday's edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight. They detailed political contributions made by finance, insurance and real estate firms to four members of Congress taking lead roles in crafting the Wall Street bailout:
DOBBS: Just four members of Congress will lead the negotiations of what President Bush and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want to be the largest government bailout in history. Democrats, Senator Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Congressman Frank, Chairman, House Financial Services Committee. Republicans Senator Judd Gregg, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, Congressman Roy Blunt, House Minority Whip.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank appeared as a guest on the September 24 "Lou Dobbs Tonight". Just minutes before interviewing the Massachusetts Democrat, Dobbs featured a report from CNN correspondent Louise Schiavone on political contributions made by mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Schiavone stated Frank has received more than $42,000. His party's standard bearer, Barack Obama, has gotten over $126,000.
Yet Dobbs didn't even question Frank about taking those contributions from two of the major institutions involved in the present financial crisis. Or perhaps he could have asked Frank about what he told the New York Times in 2003:
"These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''
At the same time, he defended a poll on NOW on PBS's home page. NewsBuster Jacob S. Lybbert noted the poll was comprised of a single question: "Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?" Some viewers thought the question inherently unfair; after all, PBS never ran a poll asking if Barack Obama or Joe Biden are qualified for the positions they're seeking.
There's a heartwarming story in today's Times of Northwest Indiana. Jane Pauley, one-time co-host of NBC's Today and Dateline NBC programs, made an appearance yesterday for Barack Obama. Joining her was Steve Skvara, the retired steelworker who in August of last year tearfully asked Democratic presidential candidates at a debate, "What's wrong with America? And what will you do to change it?" The Times reported:
PORTAGE Former television news anchor and Hoosier native Jane Pauley returned to her professional roots Monday during a local appearance on behalf of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Pauley, who said she worked for the state Democratic Party before launching her successful news career, took part in a panel discussion aimed at touting the benefits of Obama's economic plans for Hoosiers over that of his Republican challenger John McCain.
Not long ago, many in the mainstream media were bemoaning the deterioration of public discourse in this year's presidential campaign. Stories of lipsticks and pigs and other nongermane matters were irrelevant and time-wasters, they tut-tutted. Let's get back to the real issues.
So the September 29, 2008 Newsweek strikes a blow for substantive journalism and giving voters information they really need to know. "All the Candidates’ Cars" begins:
When you have seven homes, that's a lot of garages to fill. After the fuss over the number of residences owned by the two presidential nominees, NEWSWEEK looked into the candidates' cars. And based on public vehicle-registration records, here's the score. John and Cindy McCain: 13. Barack and Michelle Obama: one.
Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.
Did the United States, as the piece contends, enshrine slavery in its Constitution?
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, "enshrine" means "to enclose in or as if in a shrine" or "to preserve or cherish as sacred." Over at thesaurus.com, synonyms for the word are "cherish, consecrate, idolize, sanctify."
Friday on CNN's American Morning, network correspondent Alina Cho conducted a "reality check" of a John McCain ad that labels Barack Obama the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. These "fact checks" are increasingly popular in the mainstream media this presidential year. Cho started:
ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And a whole team of researchers, John, the truth squad as you're calling it, and we're starting today with a charge that the McCain campaign has been making against Barack Obama's voting record. Out on the campaign trail, John McCain has been calling Obama's record the most liberal in the Senate. Many people have heard that. The charge was also leveled early this month at an ad comparing Sarah Palin to Obama. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "Journal" says Governor Palin's credentials as an agent of reform exceed Barack Obama's. They are right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a record of bipartisan reform.
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
CNN's Situation Room today featured a Wolf Blitzer interview with former Defense Secretary William Cohen. As a lead in to the interview, White House correspondent Elaine Quijano reported on President Bush's actions to quiet the country's financial jitters. She wrapped up:
KVOA, the NBC television affiliate in Tucson, boasts on its Web site that we're reading "Balanced News You Can Count On." That may be true. What's indisputable is, in at least in one instance, it doesn't provide all the news.
TUCSON, AZ - The son of a U.S. Congressman from was arrested in Willcox Sunday, charged with human smuggling. According to court documents John F. Boyd son of Florida Congressman Allen Boyd, attempted to drive through a Border Patrol checkpoint in Willcox on Sunday with five illegal immigrants, including a 6-year-old girl.
In a statement sent Tuesday, Congressman Allen Boyd said, "On September 14, 2008, my 30-year-old son, John Boyd, was arrested in Arizona, and at a preliminary hearing yesterday, he was charged with alien smuggling."
"This is a family matter that my family and I will be dealing with privately. John is a grown man and must face the consequences for his actions, but he has the love and support of his family," says the elder Boyd.
So what do you do if you're reporting on an MSNBC interview with McCain adviser Carly Fiorina in which she states that neither of the major party presidential candidates nor their vice presidential running mates qualify to run a major corporation? If you're the folks at CNNPolitics.com, you headline the story "McCain adviser Fiorina: Palin not ready to run a corporation."
The MSNBC story, "If she can't run a major company..." cites a recent Fiorina radio interview in which she was asked if Sarah Palin has the experience to run a major company like Hewlett-Packard, which Fiorina formerly served as CEO:
With Barack Obama losing his lead in a variety of polls, CNN anchor John Roberts on American Morning today decided to look elsewhere for encouragement. He and CNN London correspondent Becky Anderson, with the bottom of the screen announcing, "The world wants Obama," looked at a BBC poll showing that, at least among foreigners, Obama is still a superstar:
ROBERTS: It has been said that politics is a popularity contest. And according to a new BBC Poll, Barack Obama is more popular among people overseas. CNN's Becky Anderson is looking at the poll results for us this morning. She is live right there by Carnaby Street in London.
Good morning to you, Becky.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
You're absolutely right. An overwhelming majority of the 22,000 people who are polled across 22 countries around the world favor an Obama presidency. Now, let's be honest. Obama did have an advantage going into this campaign as far as the rest of the world is, was and will be concerned, John. It's anybody but Bush. And by dent of association, therefore, anyone but John McCain.