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.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
Yesterday on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for The New Yorker magazine, was a guest. The topic turned to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin:
LIZZA: Right, there are people who have views on abortion but they don’t vote on the abortion issue, right. Can I just say one thing on what you just asked Perry about? To me, this is the elephant in the room about Sarah Palin. I think there is a little reluctance from folks in the press to just say what is on everyone’s mind. That is do people feel comfortable with this woman serving as president at a time when we’re at war in two countries, when she’s been mayor of Alaska, one of the smallest state in America by population?
MATTHEWS: Has made one trip overseas in her life.
LIZZA: I think a lot of the press corps is a little bit reluctant to go there and to be honest about that, because, frankly, the McCain campaign has been very good at pushing back and working the refs on this issue.
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?