A favorite tactic of the mainstream media is to cite supposedly nonpartisan organizations to advance the point they're trying to make. An example of that was shown on CNN's American Morning today. Anchor John Roberts set up the segment:
ROBERTS: Coming up now at 18 minutes after the hour. Sarah Palin returns to Alaska today. But her homecoming bittersweet as her eldest son, Track, deploys for Iraq tomorrow. And since Palin was nominated for vice president, her career and her personal life have been under the microscope.
CNN's Jessica Yellin joins us live this morning from Anchorage, Alaska.
Yellin, the network's Capitol Hill correspondent, spoke of how Palin juggles family responsibilities with her career. She wrapped up the piece:
John McCain's ad denouncing Barack Obama for supporting sex education for kindergartners when he was in the Illinois Senate hit a nerve. Today, in a posting titled "Does the Truth Matter Anymore?," Columnist E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post expresses outrage on the newspaper's Web site:
And now comes a truly vile McCain ad accusing Obama of supporting legislation to offer "'comprehensive sex education' to kindergartners." The announcer declares: "Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family."
Margaret Talev of McClatchy newspapers called the ad a “deliberate low blow.” Here’s what she wrote in an excellent fact check: “This is a deliberately misleading accusation. It came hours after the Obama campaign released a TV ad critical of McCain's votes on public education. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama did vote for but was not a sponsor of legislation dealing with sex ed for grades K-12. But the legislation allowed local school boards to teach ‘age-appropriate’ sex education, not comprehensive lessons to kindergartners, and it gave schools the ability to warn young children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators.”
Is McCain against teaching little kids to beware of sexual predators?
The subject of Obama's support has come up before. In July of last year, MSNBC's "First Read" reported:
Rep. Charles Rangel paid no mortgage interest on a beach resort property for more than 10 years, a lawyer for the powerful House committee chairman said Friday.
The New York congressman's lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Associated Press that Rangel got his no-interest deal for the villa in the Dominican Republic because he was an original buyer in the resort development, and in the early days after the purchase the rental income failed to meet expectations.
Not mentioned is that the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which Rangels chairs, writes tax laws. You know, laws like paying taxes on rental income. Additionally, Rangel's political party is not identified, no doubt merely an inadvertent lapse in reportage.
Guess we're really going to have to put on our thinking caps to figure out to which party Charlie belongs. Think, think, think. What, you already know?
After hearing Palin speak, I'm afraid she's going to take McCain someplace he doesn't really want to go.
During her debut, Palin electrified the Republicans, but she also shook up every registered voter in the 'hood.
Besides mocking the historic breakthrough of Barack Obama emerging as the Democrats' nominee, Palin was relentless in her use of language that reinforces divisions among black and white voters -- particularly pitting small-town people against the rest of us.
Mitchell doesn't provide examples of the governor's relentless use of divisive language, so we're expected to just accept her assertion. Moreover, the columnist doesn't mention how the "small-town people against the rest of us" sentiment may have been initiated. The Washington Post reported on August 30:
JUNEAU, Alaska — When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sought to illustrate her frugality and flair to delegates at the GOP convention Wednesday, she described how she disposed of a corporate jet acquired by her unpopular predecessor.
"That luxury jet was over the top," Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said to loud cheers. "I put it on eBay."
Palin's statement implied the plane was sold through the online auction site revered for empowering millions of small entrepreneurs, and Palin's spokeswoman insisted Thursday that the transaction occurred. But the plane failed to sell on eBay.
Instead, the 23-year-old 10-seat Westwind II was sold in August 2007 for $2.1 million to a Valdez, Alaska, entrepreneur; that's about $300,000 less than a broker's asking price, according to news accounts.
According to U.S. News and World Report's Web site, Robert Schlesinger is the magazine's deputy editor and oversees all opinion editorial content. Schlesinger blogs from the Republican National Convention on "Cindy McCain's $300,000 Outfit:"
ST. PAUL—Remember Pat Nixon's "respectable Republican cloth coat?" It's come a long way, baby.
To wit: According to Vanity Fair, Laura Bush's outfit cost between $3,400 and $4,300. But of course that's chump-change compared to the roughly $300,000 that Cindy McCain's cost (the biggest line-item being $280,000 for three-karat diamond earrings).
For those of you keeping track at home, Cindy McCain's outfit could pay for a four bedroom, three bath, 3,400 square feet house in Wasilla.
Schlesinger cites Vanity Fair, but he doesn't provide complete information. The Vanity Fair piece concludes:
(All prices except Laura’s shoes and Cindy’s watch are estimates, and the jewelry prices are based on the assumption that the pieces are real.)
Mainstream media complicity to destroy the candidacy of Sarah Palin is obvious. Numerous instances have been cited here at NewsBusters, some outrageously blatant. Slightly more subtle bias was evident in today's print edition of the Chicago Tribune. Nine letters to the editor were printed; eight of them were overtly anti-Palin and/or anti-Republican. The remaining letter was a plea for "the birth control education and access" that kids "so obviously need."
A few opinions expressed in today's "Voice of the People:"
Palin, 44, who wasn't high on conventional-wisdom rankings of potential vice presidential candidates, may soothe social conservatives in her own party and may appeal to some disappointed Hillary Clinton backers. She's younger than Obama, who is 47, and has served less than half of her first term as governor.
``It's either a grand-slam home run or it'll turn out to be a bust,'' said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. The answer will be clear over the next few days, he said.
OK, folks (as Joe Biden of Scranton would say). Sensitivity training for everyone.
Say what you want about the mainstream media, but one point is indisputable: They're a tenacious lot. So they're not going to let Hurricane Gustav dampen efforts to advance the Democratic presidential ticket.
• • Chicago reporters covering the Democratic Convention in Denver were stunned to witness WGN-Channel 9's Allison Payne cheering and applauding for speakers Wednesday night while she was seated with the Illinois delegation in the Pepsi Center.
The veteran newswoman has been co-anchoring convention coverage for the Tribune Co.-owned station.
Earlier in the week, Payne was quoted in the Chicago Tribune apologizing to viewers for her bizarre performance on Channel 9's 9 p.m. newscast Aug. 21. "I was not drunk," she said.
She attributed her slurred speech and erratic behavior to a series of ministrokes.
Chicago reporters were probably not taken aback by Payne's enthusiasm for the Democrats, but by her showing it so publicly.
It's supposed to be a secret that the mainstream media are in the tank for Democrats, Allison. Didn't you get the memo?
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — The towering black gate opens silently to an alley with walls of corrugated metal. Scrawled in large white letters on one wall is: "The End."
For those deported from the United States, the words are an unnecessary reminder. Nearly every hour of the day, guards unlock this gate that leads back into Mexico, clicking open the padlocks hung on each side, in each nation.
Every time the gate slams shut, it wipes out a dream, divides a family, ends a life lived in the shadows of the law.
We later read:
In a week spent at the Tijuana gate, The Associated Press watched busload after busload of deportees arrive, some in a daze, still stunned over their sudden expulsion. Many stumbled over the Mexican official's question, "Where are you from?" after spending decades in the United States.
The faces of those who stream through reflect how tough and far-reaching the U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration has become.
Today's Chicago Sun-Times features "It's time for Obama to prove his passion" by columnist Carol Marin. Amazingly, she finds an itsy bitsy problem with Barack Obama; he's just too darn cerebral. He needs to show voters what's truly in his heart, the things about which he's genuinely passionate. Marin manages to take a quick swipe at President Bush:
But Obama is a guy, wide smile and well-crafted message notwithstanding, who seems to give the electorate more of his head than of his heart. And though, lord knows, after George Bush we need a president with a head, the heart part is not incidental.
For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether "George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad." For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?"
Correction/Author's Clarification: Since I wrote this, Time has added two vice presidents to its list, one of them Henry Wallace. There were originally 13 VPs named; now there are 15. The cache page of the first VP listed, Aaron Burr, shows him as "1 of 13." I don't know for how long that will be shown. Is someone at Time reading NewsBusters?
Any such list by its very nature is nothing more than subjective opinion. And in Time's opinion, every vice president in this century who warrants such scorn is a Republican. Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney are on the list.
On CNN Newsroom this morning, Capitol Hill correspondent Jennifer Yellin did a piece on how Barack Obama is attempting to exploit John McCain's uncertainty over the houses he and wife Cindy own. From Yellin's report:
YELLIN: And top surrogates are hitting 16 states to mock John McCain for, in the campaign's words, losing track of his houses. Obama supporter and VP short lister Virginia Governor Tim Kaine made the case on CNN.
GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: He couldn't count high enough apparently to even know how many houses he owned.
YELLIN: The Obama campaign believes this line of attack will persuade voters that McCain is out of touch with regular folks and can't fix what he doesn't know is broken. It could also diffuse charges that Obama is elitist. It's as if they're saying, who's the snob now?
OBAMA: And if you're like me and you got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective.
Associated Press writer Douglass K. Daniel today reports "A housing issue: McCain not sure how many they own." The article points out that John and Cindy McCain are affluent. It then links McCain's age with his difficulty in responding to the question of "how many houses he and his wealthy wife actually own:"
With most Americans feeling the pinch of a worsening economy, the remark allows McCain's opponents to suggest that he personally is far beyond its grip and cannot feel their pain. It also displays the vast wealth of the McCains — his wife Cindy's fortune has been estimated at $100 million. It's also another example of how McCain, nearly 72, can be fuzzy and forgetful on some facts.
This evening on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host expressed amusement at something he'd heard earlier today on his own network. Ironically, the source of his merriment was a question posed by anchor Jack Cafferty on CNN's The Situation Room:
Earlier today, I posted on NewsBusters "CNN's Analysis: At Saddleback, Obama Was 'Thoughtful.'" The piece described how CNN repeatedly described Barack Obama at the Saddleback Church forum as "thoughtful." Other observers saw it differently, thinking Obama appeared evasive and indecisive. His hesitant fumbling especially contrasted with the very specific and resolute responses from John McCain.
The Reverend Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback and the host of the forum, appeared on CNN Newsroom this evening. Questioned by anchor Rick Sanchez, it seems clear Warren got the network memo.
Last night the Reverend Rick Warren questioned Barack Obama and John McCain at California's Saddleback Church. Post forum coverage at CNN was hosted by network chief national correspondent John King.
He began by asking CNN senior political analyst Candy Crowley and network congressional correspondent Dana Bash for their impressions. Crowley found McCain to have been "very direct" while Bash observed the GOP candidate addressed the audience rather than Warren. Both stated that Obama was "nuanced" in his answers.
When King asked Bill Schneider, another CNN senior political analyst, for his take on the event, the word of the day shifted from nuanced to thoughtful:
Today's contribution from the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page, who also serves on the newspaper's editorial board, is "Enquirer scores— but about the aliens." Clarence frets about mainstream media credibility under attack for not pursuing John Edwards's affair:
The blogosphere is abuzz with criticism of the mainstream media for allegedly failing to pursue the story of Edwards' alleged "love child" when the National Enquirer first reported it last year. In fact, major media did try to confirm the story without using the Enquirer as a source. It appears most of us in the MSM tend to be hung up on stodgy old-fashioned virtues like facts. The Edwards bombshell became problematic when none of the main parties in the story would go on the record to confirm the allegation. If you're going to use unnamed sources, which is questionable enough as a practice, at least make them your own sources, not those of a supermarket tabloid.
For the first time since 1984, after six successive appearances on the podium, the Rev. Jesse Jackson will not address the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.
There are people who will applaud that fact. I won't be among them.
In her tribute to Jackson, Marin claims that "the unassailable fact of the matter is that he helped set the stage for the history that has already been made this year as an African American and a woman finished first and second in the race to nomination." Whether he indeed "helped set the stage" is in my mind questionable given Jackson's polarizing influence, but that's just a matter of opinion.
Yesterday's New York Times carried the story, "Indiana Senator Offers Obama Risks and Rewards." The article focuses on Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, described as "one of the leading candidates to be the running mate of the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama."
"As a party we have to remember we are the big tent and have to make room for people with diverse views on this issue," said Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life in America, a group that opposes capital punishment and euthanasia in addition to abortion.
The proposed new language mentions better care for pregnant women and newborns, the need for easier adoptions and an overall effort to reduce abortions.
"We're hopeful that some language will be included that will say pro-life Democrats welcome, but at the end of the day we're still Democrats and we're gonna work hard to work on things that we strongly believe in," Day said.
Obama can certainly lose this race. But McCain's going to have to find a better way to win it than by invoking Paris Hilton or by sniping in his most recent ad how "life in the spotlight must be grand but for the rest of us, times are tough."
What's tough for McCain is that despite having had a practice run at the presidency once before, it didn't limber him up, cause him to realize that even the elderly now skillfully navigate the Internet or help him craft a "vision thing."
In the short run, jealous jabs at Obama for having too much face time on the covers of Rolling Stone and GQ may appear to close the gap in national polls. But the aggregation of images -- Obama in Germany, Obama with his cute girls and beautiful wife, Obama visiting his grandmother in Hawaii -- is by dribs and drabs helping America feel familiar with him, visualize him on foreign soil, and see him, perhaps, as both human and presidential.
In some ways the tightening numbers work for Obama, not against him.
The Chicago Sun-Times today includes Mary Mitchell's column, "We can deny it, but race slithers into campaign." The subheadline reads "Obama, his campaign trying to transcend it -- but can't." The article makes a startling assertion about Senator Barack Obama:
Obama tries to avoid talking about race, as do his surrogates, staffers and supporters.
Filling in yesterday for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball, Mike Barnicle showed what an understanding, compassionate fellow he can be:
We have some sad news to report this evening. Columnist Bob Novak has announced he has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He is retiring from the “Chicago Sun Times” to focus on his treatment and recovery. Bob Novak, despite your ideology, is a terrific guy, a good friends of ours. We certainly wish him all the best.
Novak is widely viewed as a conservative. Yet, despite that, he's still a terrific guy in Barnicle's opinion. Apparently, being a conservative and a terrific guy are mutually exclusive most of the time.
Chris Matthews must be reassured. His show's in good hands with Barnicle.
Three young African-American men stood up holding a sign that read "What About the Black Community, Obama?" as Barack Obama was talking about the economy at a town hall meeting here. Once the crowd realized what the sign, many started booing loudly, which caused Obama to turn around and look at the protesters.
Later, the piece updates with:
During a question and answer session, Obama called on one of the hecklers.
The word "heckle" is defined as "to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; badger." The word conveys an element of disrespect and incivility.
The word "protest," on the other hand, carries little of the acrimony associated with heckle.
Posted on the Los Angeles Times's Web site is the story "John McCain ad irritates many in Hollywood." The referenced ad, of course, is the one that uses Britney Spears and Paris Hilton to portray Barack Obama as a shallow celebrity.
Despite the headline citing "many," only two Hollywood types are quoted. "'I didn't think McCain could look silly,' mused Norman Lear. 'But that ad diminishes him and makes him look silly.'" And publicist Howard Bragman criticizes the commercial as "inauthentic."
If there are so many people who are irritated, you wouldn't know it by this article, which mainly conveys how much Hollywood heart Obama. The piece reports McCain used to enjoy some popularity there:
McCain's latest attempt at discrediting his handsome, photogenic young rival particularly galls stars and executives with a memory, because only eight years ago, McCain was a fixture in Hollywood fundraising circles when he tried to raise money from the very people his ad now ridicules.