New York Times book critic Dwight Garner on Wednesday enthused over a new biography of Friedrich Engels, cooing that Marxism is "back in vogue" and adding that the founding communist comes across as a "jovial man of outsize appetites" in Tristram Hunt’s new biography "Marx’s General."
Garner opened the review by insisting that decrying capitalism is now hip again: "Thanks to globalism’s discontents and the financial crisis that has spread across the planet, Karl Marx and his analysis of capitalism’s dark, wormy side are back in vogue."
According to the New York Times’ Douglas Martin and Jacques Steinberg, the "often churlish," "pugnacious" Robert Novak "could not always document" his scoops. Littered in the August 19 obituary of the conservative journalist are other snide remarks and asides.
Discussing the political column that Novak co-wrote for 30 years with Rowland Evans, the reporters worried, "For all its influence, though, the column could not always document its scoops. In April 1972, Mr. Evans and Mr. Novak reported that Senator George S. McGovern, the Democratic presidential candidate, favored abortion rights, legalization of marijuana and amnesty for draft dodgers — positions that crippled his standing with most conservative voters."
Nation magazine sports editor Dave Zirin appeared on MSNBC’s News Live on Tuesday to discuss college football and ended up trashing Sarah Palin. Talking with host David Shuster about a new SEC regulation stopping fans from using social networking sites at games, Zirin frothed that odd sports rules are like "Sarah Palin considering herself a college graduate. Just ‘cause you call yourself that, doesn't mean it means anything."
Is there no subject too unrelated for MSNBC or one of its guests to use to slam the former Alaska governor? Perhaps it’s not surprising that the left-leaning cable network would feature a man who covers sports for the very liberal Nation. But, couldn’t they find someone from Sports Illustrated, ESPN or any non-partisan sports outlet?
New York Times Magazine critic Deborah Solomon conducted an all-over-the-map interview with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, alternating between conservative "terrorism," lesbianism and Girl Scout cookies. At one point she wondered, "But do you think certain radio and television hosts are feeding intolerance and even terrorism?"
Solomon’s interview, which will appear in the August 16 print edition of the Times, also included an attack on Glenn Beck of Fox News. After repeating the host’s contention that President Obama "has a deep-seated hatred for white people," the journalist derided, "Do you think a statement like that incites hate crimes?"
Of the three major networks, only CBS has managed, thus far, to ignore controversial comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that compared America’s disputed election in 2000 to political corruption in Nigeria. ABC, however, highlighted the August 12 remarks on Thursday’s Good Morning America. GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo challenged, "Now, did [the comments] cross the line?"
Co-host Robin Roberts chided, "Hillary Clinton in the hot seat. She compares Nigeria’s politics to the controversial Bush/Gore election here in the U.S. Did she go too far?" Clinton, who was in Nigeria at the time, said this: "Our democracy is still evolving. We had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember. In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state, so we have our problems, too."
In addition to GMA, ABC played the remark on the previous night's World News. CBS avoided the comments during Wednesday’s CBS Evening News and Thursday’s Early Show. Brian Williams briefly reported on the quote for the August 12 NBC Nightly News, featuring the remark and labeling it "another off-the-cuff comment" for the Secretary of State. NBC did not discuss the story during the four hours of Friday’s Today show.
On Tuesday’s World News, for the second day in a row, ABC delivered a "fact check" on the health care bill, offering up perspectives sympathetic to the sweeping legislation. Confusing opinions for facts, David Wright spun that it was "true" that "95 percent of the people" would be able to keep their current plan. However, Politifact has labeled this claim a half truth.
An August 11 posting conceded, "[Obama’s] plan seeks to build on the system we have now, where most people get health insurance through their employers." However, it goes on to add, "But the plans also introduce new ways of regulating health insurance companies that will surely change the current health care system. That could prompt employers to change their health plans..."
The political debunking site concluded, "It's not realistic for Obama to make blanket statements that ‘you’ will be able to ‘keep you health care plan.’" [Emphasis added] So, why is Wright using blanket statements for his fact check?
ABC’s Kate Snow, who early on Monday couldn’t find time to show any Republican opposition to a controversial provision in the health care plan relating to end-of-life care, reversed course on World News and briefly highlighted a GOP voice. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter appeared and asserted, "And there should never be any doubt as to whether your end-of-life decisions are influenced by its effect on the United States Treasury."
Snow was filing a piece for Monday’s World News about a section in the House health care bill that reimburse doctors for discussing end-of-life care with their patients every five years. And although the segment was billed as a "fact check" to debunk incorrect claims, this report at least looked into something that her earlier piece on Good Morning America didn’t, Republican opposition.
On Monday, I asked Snow about this on her Twitter page. She justified the absence: "We often cut down pieces to fit time allotted. But always aim to include all pov's. On end of life v impt [sic] to fact check too."
MSNBC’s graphics department on Monday provided some visually obnoxious examples of media bias, fretting about "unhinged" conservatives and "health care hysteria." Throughout the morning, the left-leaning cable network featured on-screen texts promoting the Democratic agenda. At 11:35am, MSNBC News Live host Carlos Watson anchored a piece urging liberals to get tough in supporting universal health care. The graphic screamed, "Are Liberals Being Too Weak?"
At the beginning of the 12pm show Dr. Nancy, Nancy Snyderman discussed whether or not conservatives such as Sarah Palin are frightening the elderly over health care. This time, the on-screen visual spun, "Health Care Fight: Scaring Seniors?"
ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday presented an extremely one-sided take on the controversial end-of-life provisions in the health care bill, decrying all the "screaming" and "shouting" at town hall meetings. Reporter Kate Snow featured no Republican voices (other than of people yelling) in the segment and instead focused on combating the "incorrect claims" about the legislation.
The network correspondent began by proclaiming, "We wanted to better understand all the shouting." She then went on to describe a provision in the House health care bill that would reimburse doctors for speaking to patients every five years about end-of-life decisions. Despite mentioning at the end of the segment that "there are clearly very strongly held views on the other side," Snow failed to highlight GOP or conservative voices who could have explained why some oppose the provision.
An online version of the article on ABCNews.com featured Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter protesting, "You see when discussion about whether or not the continuation of one's life has a nexus with the U.S. treasury saving money, that's a very dangerous recipe for those who can often time be the most vulnerable amongst us." McCotter did not appear in Snow’s GMA piece. Instead, she briefly summarized the conservative argument.
ABC’s "Nightline" on Thursday celebrated Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court as a "Jackie Robinson moment" and also highlighted cheering crowds at an event put on by the left-wing Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund (PRLDF). Correspondent John Donvan failed to identify the liberal bent of the organization, which has vociferously lobbied for abortion rights, though he did note that Sotomayor served on the group’s board.
In addition to comparing Sotomayor’s confirmation to Jackie Robinson’s entry into baseball, Donvan actually brought on Democratic operative-turned-ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos to reference what it was like for Greek Americans when Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988. Stephanopoulos enthused, "There was something that trumped the politics, the partisanship. I knew a lot of Republican Greeks who were supporting a Democrat for first time just because he was one of them."
Donvan described the Greek American Stephanopoulos as "somebody who should know" what it felt like. But he failed to specifically mention that the ABC host also worked for the Dukakis campaign at the time. Earlier in the piece, Donvan raved, "And while this is definitely a Latino thing, it is also, we should say, an American thing....Call it a Jackie Robinson moment, to borrow a lesson from sports."
An article in Thursday’s Washington Post lashed out at the viral Obama-as-the-Joker posters, attacking them as promoting "coded," "racially charged" images. Art critic Philip Kennicott smeared the images, which have been showing up in Los Angeles, as flat-out bigoted: "The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can't be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he's black." [Emphasis added]
In the August Style 6 piece, Kennicott provided this incendiary take on the poster campaign: "Obama, like the Joker and like the racial stereotype of the black man, carries within him an unknowable, volatile and dangerous marker of urban violence, which could erupt at any time." The Post writer did acknowledge that a similar image deriding Bush as the villainous character appeared in the Vanity Fair in 2008. But he spun this Joker poster as somehow worse:
Of the three network morning shows, only ABC highlighted a new study by the Heritage Foundation that reported how the federal government's massive spending will average almost $34,000 per household in 2009, up $8000 from last year. On Monday, Good Morning America news anchor Chris Cuomo also appeared amazed at wasteful, bureaucratic errors: "Seventy two billion dollars spent by our government to the wrong people in either double payments or mispayments."
He marveled, "Can you believe that? It’s true." NBC’s Today and CBS’s Early Show have, thus far, not reported on the Heritage study. The report explained, "The 2009 version of ‘Federal Spending by the Numbers’ shows spending and deficits surging at a pace not seen since World War II."
Various Good Morning America reporters knocked Rush Limbaugh’s new diet and weight loss on Monday, with ABC’s Yunji de Nies deriding, "Rush Limbaugh is big. Big voice, big audience, big opinions and simply a big guy. But the radio giant is getting smaller." Skeptical of the diet’s chances for success, she condescended, "Like the host, many in his audience are undoubtedly looking for a quick fix."
In a second segment, ABC medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard predicted failure. Chiding Limbaugh, who has lost 80 pounds through the Quick Weight Loss Center program, for not exercising enough and for a severe cut in calories, she prognosticated, "He's not going to keep that off. Sustainability is the ultimate bottom line. He can't do it with that type of diet."
MSNBC News Live substitute host Donny Deutsch frothed about "right-wing racism" on Thursday and trashed Rush Limbaugh as a both a "moron" and a "putz" and Glenn Beck as a "super moron." The former CNBC anchor talked with liberal journalist Joan Walsh about her Salon.com column and quoted her asserting that "Limbaugh and Beck continue to ratchet up their alarming and increasingly racist hatred for the President."
Deutsch began the segment by solemnly wondering, "Is right-wing racism on the rise?" And yet, he later responded to Walsh's complaints about Limbaugh by deriding, "Well, as long as he’s throwing slurs, I’m going to throw a Jewish slur and call Mr. Limbaugh a putz."After playing a clip of the conservative radio star labeling Barack Obama "race-obsessed," Deutsch, whose program on CNBC has was cancelled in 2008, angrily denounced, "Joan, you know, obviously we have got morons like Limbaugh calling Obama an angry black man. Super morons like Glenn Beck saying that he's a racist and he hates white people."
UPDATED: 2009-07-31 10:30:18 -0400 ABC’s Pierre Thomas landed an exclusive interview with Eric Holder on Wednesday’s Nightline, quizzing the Attorney General on race relations in America. Somehow, however, the reporter managed to completely ignore Holder’s incendiary remark from February that America is a "nation of cowards" when dealing with race relations.
One would assume such a statement might be relevant to Thomas’ questions about the ongoing controversy involving the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Gates by a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead, the correspondent ignored the context, even as he explained, "[Holder] said the controversy in Cambridge proves more needs to be done in race relations." Thomas queried, "Have we reached the point where law enforcement is color blind?"
ABC’s newly hired senior medical editor is also an Obama donor, having contributed $400 to the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. TV Newser reported on Thursday that Dr. Richard Besser, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, would assume the position in September. A search on the website Open Secrets finds two donations by Dr. Besser on August 22, 2008.
As senior health correspondent, Dr. Besser can be expected to play a major role in ABC's coverage of the health care debate this fall.
Dr. Tim Johnson, who currently holds the position for ABC, has long been an advocate for government-run solutions to the health care problem in America. Going back to the last big push in the early '90s, he told then-First Lady Hillary Clinton on July 19, 1994: "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." Johnson will become the "chief medical editor" for ABC News.
ABC’s Ron Claiborne on Saturday managed to file a report on vast Democratic corruption in the state of New Jersey and, at the same time, not once use the word Democrat. While reporting on an unfolding scandal that saw the arrest of a number of the state’s mayors and assemblymen, all but one a member of the Democratic Party, the Good Morning America weekend news anchor completely ignored party identification.
Claiborne vaguely explained, "44 people indicted, including three mayors, two state legislators and five rabbis and allegations of money laundering, kickbacks and bribe taking." The journalist used the same tactic as he went on to highlight the history of corruption by New Jersey politicians: "Robert Torricelli left office in 2003, under the shadow of an illegal campaign contribution scandal. And Harrison Williams resigned his seat in 1982 while under indictment for bribery."
Claiborne added, "Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James is currently serving time after being convicted on federal corruption charges." What fact is absent from this description of New Jersey’s woes? All of the above are Democrats. He continued this list by highlighting another unidentified Democrat: "Hoboken Mayor Pete Cammarano took office three weeks ago. In a matter of days, he allegedly took a $25,000 bribe."
ABC’s Nightline on Monday didn’t allow Sarah Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska to pass without airing yet another dismissive segment, reminiscing about the "madcap" politician. Co-anchor Martin Bashir derided her exit as a "real-life Northern Exposure." Reporter Neal Karlinsky proceeded to drag out every cliched Tina Fey clip and supposed gaffe from the 2008 election.
Speaking of Palin's selection as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, he allowed that the politician was a "rock star" at GOP events. Karlinsky then chided, "But once she veered off script and was forced to answer questions, her image began to shift."
The Nightline correspondent attempted to frame unwanted coverage of Palin as publicity stunts. "From the Levi Johnston scandal...to a seemingly endless series of ethics complaints, to a feud with David Letterman, controversy was Palin's constant companion." A feud with David Letterman? It’s not as though the governor preemptively picked a fight with the late night comedian. (The CBS host made crude jokes about Palin’s teenage daughter on his program, prompting a response.)
Eleven days after mourning the tenth anniversary of the death of "the prince of Camelot," John F. Kennedy Jr., Monday’s Good Morning America took yet another look back at the "grace" and "equilibrium" of the late presidential offspring. ABC’s Chris Cuomo touted JFK Jr.'s "gift for leadership" and recounted how "America watched him grow from young son, to idealistic lawyer, to loving husband."
The GMA news anchor interviewed Rose Marie Terenzio, friend and personal assistant to Kennedy, about a charity that JFK Jr. started to assist health care workers who help the disabled. Cuomo, however, gossiped over whether or not the President's son had planned on following his father into politics. Speaking of the health care charity, he fawned, "John's idea was ahead of its time. A foresight that may have indicated a gift for leadership."
MSNBC host David Shuster on Thursday relied on the liberal group Media Matters to help him as he tried to "sift through the spin and get at the truth" of a Republican-created chart purporting to show government-run health care as a confusing maze of bureaucracy. Shuster began by complaining, "Is the conservative media deliberately trying to avoid any fact-checking when it comes to Republican talking points?"
The cable anchor appeared incensed that the graph, released by congressional Republicans, has been featured on Fox News and the Drudge Report. Introducing Karl Frisch, Senior Media Fellow at Media Matters, Shuster attacked its reliability and fumed, "Is this another example of, at least with some of the conservative media, it’s to their strategic benefit not to bother checking things out?"
ABC’s Chris Cuomo and Claire Shipman on Thursday marked the tenth anniversary of the death of "the prince of Camelot," John F. Kennedy Jr., lamenting the loss of such strong presidential talent. Reporter Claire Shipman mournfully proclaimed that JFK Jr.’s "very existence had somehow come to represent a critical link to our fairy tale past. And always, always the possibility of another chapter." [audio available here]
And yet, this seems to be a case of selective anniversary journalism. July 18, 2009 will be the 40th anniversary of the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, who drowned after Ted Kennedy drove the car she was in off a bridge. Kennedy swam to safety and then failed to call the police until the following day. Will ABC and other networks reminisce about the things the 29-year-old might have accomplished?
ABC's Brian Ross on Wednesday investigated a subject that has been skipped by CBS and NBC's morning shows, the more than $1 million spent by the Social Security Administration for its employees to attend lavish retreats, complete with a motivational dance company performing for the government bureaucrats. Host Chris Cuomo asserted that Social Security may be "on the brink of financial ruin. But, you would never know it from a recent luxurious retreat paid for by your tax dollars."
Good Morning America's Ross, who has spend much of 2009 delving into whether or not Wall Street executives should fly on private jets or go on lavish retreats, provided some consistency by looking into a story that has, so far, been ignored by CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today. He explained that Social Security is "expected to be insolvent in less than 30 years, unless taxes are raised substantially. But, there was no sense of financial crisis when almost 700 Social Security executives gathered here last week at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix."
Former Democratic strategist-turned-journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to coo that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "didn't make any mistakes" and "did exactly what she had to do" in her confirmation hearings on Tuesday. In contrast, during Sam Alito's confirmation hearings in 2006, Stephanopoulos related Democratic complaints about membership in a supposedly discriminatory group.
The ex-Clinton aide enthused that Sotomayor brushed aside evidence that she was difficult to deal with: "On the question of bullying, she answered that with her manner all day long. No matter how many tough questions she got, she stayed even. She stayed calm. She stayed cool." He added, "She didn't meltdown. She didn't make any mistakes."
MSNBC hosts Tamron Hall and David Shuster on Tuesday repeatedly grumbled at the tough questions Senator Lindsey Graham posed to Sonia Sotomayor over the judge's ability to keep her feelings in check. At one point during live coverage, Shuster derided the lawmaker's remarks as "patronizing" and fretted that "the blogs are already going crazy over this." Hall saw the statements as insinuating the nominee is too "hot blooded."
The comments that drew the ire of the anchors were Graham's quizzing of Sotomayor as to reports that lawyers have found her difficult to deal with in the courtroom. Graham probed, "I never liked appearing before a judge who was a bully. Do you think you have a temperament problem?"
Co-host Hall vociferously objected to Graham's queries. Responding to news articles about the subject, she complained, "These are anonymous sources....One might read into this that he's [Graham] talking about her being a hot-blooded person or a woman who can't control her emotions."
MSNBC's David Shuster, who was suspended in 2008 for proclaiming that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by her then-candidate mother, on Monday challenged a representative of Free Republic as to what he would do to try and "discourage people" from using "hateful, vile language" on the website. Video available here.
Guest Kristinn Taylor, a spokesman for the Washington D.C. chapter of Free Republic, appeared on the show to battle with the MSNBC Live host over offensive comments that were posted on the site about 11-year old Malia Obama. Taylor combatively contradicted an assertion by Shuster that some racist remarks featured under a picture of the Obama daughter were reposted on the web page after initially being removed: "Well, David, unfortunately, it seems you've gotten your story from the Daily Kos, which is not a reliable source of information."
During live coverage of Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing on Monday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews gushed about the judge's opening statement, saying "Well, I'm getting one of those thrills I get about America. I'm sorry, I'm shouldn't say this. And I'm getting it again." Matthews, who famously proclaimed that Barack Obama gave him a "thrill" up his leg, also offered a fawning aside about what a "genius" the President is.
Responding to a comment the Supreme Court nominee made about working hard to advance herself in school, the "Hardball" host followed-up his "thrill" remark by rhapsodizing, "When she talked about sitting at that table and not being a genius like Barack Obama, not being one of these people that can walk into a college scholarship, who had to sweat for it." [audio available here]
Good Morning America's Jonathan Karl on Friday provided a questioning, skeptical analysis of how stimulus money is being spent on road signs promoting the legislation. At one point, the correspondent quipped, "But for now, the signs seem easier to create than jobs." However, former Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos provided White House spin on the total amount of stimulus money spent.
In a follow-up segment, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer pointed out that of the $787 billion allocated in February for the legislation, only ten percent has been spent. Providing White House talking points, Stephanopoulos offered a tortured explanation for how this wasn't so: "They [the Obama administration] argue, though, that more than ten percent has actually been put to work. They would argue that about 20 to 25 percent has been put to work, because money has been obligated that allows these projects to go forward." Continuing this charitable analysis, he added, "Even though the check isn't written until the roads are actually built."
Good Morning America's David Wright on Saturday continued his habit of dropping insulting comments into stories about Sarah Palin, snidely asserting that the Alaska governor "lacked seasoning and, some would say, a firm grasp of the issues." Wright, who was reporting on Palin's announcement that she would be resigning her office, also speculated that far more serious motives could be behind the move.
He darkly intoned, "It is difficult to ignore the timing of this announcement, late on a Friday afternoon, on a holiday weekend. Many Americans bound to be tuned out. That suggests that the reasons are not good ones." And although the ABC journalist also commented that many in the Republican Party saw Palin as a "fresh face" in the GOP, Wright has a long history of adding demeaning comments to his stories on the 2008 vice presidential nominee.
Despite devoting almost the entire Good Morning America program on Tuesday to Michael Jackson, ABC could only find three minutes for a hard-hitting Jake Tapper interview with Barack Obama. And even though co-host Diane Sawyer promised at the close of the piece, "And we'll have more of the President's interview with Jake Tapper later in the broadcast," the segment never returned.
Tapper, who was in Moscow to cover Obama's summit with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, quizzed, "Whether it's this summit with President Medvedev, or anything else, can you point to any reason why you're encouraged that your approach to Iran and North Korea is the right approach?"
Tapper also highlighted Vice President Biden's admission that the administration "misread how bad the economy" was when the stimulus was being crafted. He then skeptically asked, "If the diagnosis was, was wrong, how can you be sure that the prescription, the stimulus package, was right?"
On Thursday's Today, Meredith Vieira tossed mostly softballs to Senator-elect Al Franken, offering no hard questions about the disputed 2008 election, instead fawning, "...Are you more worried about becoming a target for the GOP or a target for Saturday Night Live, your old stomping ground?" In regards to the post-election wrangling for the Minnesota Senate seat, the best Vieira could do is to wonder, "It did get a little contentious, didn't it?"
To be fair, she did reference the closeness of the election. Noting Franken's 312 vote margin of victory, Vieira observed, "Are you conscious of that as you head to Washington D.C. next week?" However, there was no mention of the reports of irregularities in the state. If the co-host wished to challenge the incoming senator, she could have read from a July 1 Wall Street Journal editorial which asserted, "Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election."