Richard Stengel, a former adviser and speechwriter for presidential candidate Bill Bradley, has been named the Managing Editor of Time magazine. Stengel has written and edited for the magazine in the past and has a long history of attacking Republicans and conservatives. The Media Research Center has been documenting his bias through the years. One of his more famous comments, recounted in the June 14, 1999, edition of Notable Quotables, was the assertion that the Communist-exposing Whittaker Chambers may have been right, but he sure was mean:
"Whittaker Chambers was mostly right about communism and Alger Hiss, but he was a nasty piece of work and nobody likes a snitch. Even Joe McCarthy may have been on to something, but he was a crude and cruel man who ruined people's lives for 48-point type. You might call this the When Bad People Spoil Good Things school of history."- Time's Richard Stengel on "Dubious Influences," June 14 issue.
Did USA Today skew their poll results of the NSA phone collection scandal? It sure looks that way. As Brent Baker has already reported, On May 12, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out whether Americans support the NSA’s collection of phone call records. They asked this question:
"It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?"
On May 13, Saturday Night Live allowed Al Gore to plug his global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, not once, but twice. As Noel Sheppard has already reported, Gore opened the program with an "alternate" address from "President" Gore. This bizarro-Gore reviewed the achievements of stopping global warming, balancing the budget and providing universal health care. The second segment that the former Vice President appeared in was even more sanctimonious. Weekend Update co-host Tina Fey introduced the sketch at 12:15AM EDT:
Fey: "Okay, so thank you for being here and, uh, global warming is a scientific fact. It’s happening. We’re not going to debate that. So for tonight’s point/counterpoint, Vice President Gore will take the point that global warming is bad. And Amy will defend her personal point of view that global warming is awesome."
According to the May 12 Today show, if you’re an "ordinary" American, you should be afraid of the President’s "snooping." Using the time honored media tradition of word repetition, the NBC program sought to portray the NSA’s gathering of phone numbers as highly sinister. In a report that aired at 7:07AM EDT, reporter Kelly O’Donnell stated that the phone records of "ordinary citizens" were compiled. In the 8AM hour, Ann Curry reported that the phone information of "millions of ordinary Americans" had been compiled. An hour later she again announced that those "ordinary Americans" had been targeted. Get it? It’s the average citizens who ought to be worried.
Bob Schieffer opened the May 9 edition of the CBS Evening News by trumpeting a new poll that suggested disaster for the Republicans in November. As usual, any information that didn’t support the liberal talking points was ignored or minimized. The network anchor made sure to point out that "President Bush's ratings have hit another all-time low."
A few of the results, however, somehow escaped mention. According to the poll, 39 percent of Americans supported drilling in ANWR in November 2002. A separate survey, conducted in February of 2005 found a similar 38 percent approval for the idea. CBS puts the current level of support at 48 percent. Now what could be the cause of this 9 point increase? Perhaps the media’s relentless pounding of the "gas crisis," 183 stories in three weeks, had unintended consequences? Schieffer omitted any reference to ANWR in his report.
Apparently Tim Russert has been paying attention to the misdeeds of Democrats. Last Friday the host of NBC’s Meet the Pressappeared on the Today show. He commented that the Patrick Kennedy scandal will allow Republicans to "suggest to the country it’s not just Republicans who misbehave." I wondered if several misbehaving Democrats had somehow escaped his attention. Mr. Russert, on the May 7 edition of Meet the Press, grilled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on that very subject:
Russert: "You have Congressman Jefferson of Louisiana, someone pleaded guilty and said he had paid him bribes. You have Cynthia McKinney investigated for roughing up a police officer. You have Congressman Kennedy who, in the wee hours, entangling himself with the police department. So the Democrats have ethical...the Democrats have ethical challenges, too, correct?"
Is it possible that Tim Russert hasn’t been paying attention? The host of Meet the Press appeared on the May 5 edition of NBC’s Today show to discuss President Bush and the midterm elections. Anchor Matt Lauer also asked him about the political fallout from Representative Patrick Kennedy’s car crash:
Russert: "Republicans obviously are watching this very carefully because they want to suggest to the country it's not just Republicans who misbehave or the culture of corruption or whatever. It also could be Democrats.And they're going to really dig into this case, I think, pretty actively."
Today’s edition of The View may have given us a window into not only that show’s future, but also the interviewing style we might expect from Meredith Vieira on Today. Ms. Vieira, who joins the NBC program in September, and her co-hosts interviewed Dhillon Khosla, a transsexual who underwent several surgeries in an attempt to become a man. Vieira complimented Khosla for his ability to "find yourself finally." Here is a brief sample of her comments:
Vieira: "I can understand why people would love you. You’re a very nice guy. Very, very nice guy. Very smart and what a struggle to find yourself finally...You’re a very smart guy and a very brave guy to go through this and to write about it too. And help- obviously a lot of people struggling with the same situation."
The lure of class warfare has now seduced even the Fox News Channel. The network, often derided by liberal critics as overly conservative, featured a segment on the May 2 edition of Fox & Friends about the "outrageous" perks that CEOs receive. Co-host E.D. Hill cynically teased the piece by asking, "You know, if you go to work, you get your paycheck, but don't you wish you got a plane too?" She then continued:
Hill: "Or maybe a car or a boat or a country club membership or those sort of things? Well, you will be blown away to find out what perks some executives get."
FNC anchor Brian Kilmeade continued the theme of class envy by noting that some people are "upset about Exxon because they're making way too much money."
Did NBC allow a pro-illegal immigration message to air on the Today show? The singer Shakira appeared at 8:47AM EDT on the April 28 edition of the Today show. Wyclef Jean accompanied the Colombian performer and used NBC's platform to advertise a planned May 1 strike of illegal immigrants. Wearing a shirt that said "Immigration Rights" and below that, "Mayo Uno," Wyclef ended the song by bellowing, "May 1st! Immigration rights, baby!"
It should be noted that Wyclef Jean is also one of the artists recording a Spanish version of the Star-Spangled Banner that President Bush disapproved of in a Rose Garden press conference later in the day.
Nobody would argue that President Bush is overly popular at the moment. The media, however, seem determined to keep it that way. The April 28 edition of Today made this point extremely clear. Katie Couric opened the NBC program with this tease of a Brian Williams presidential interview:
Couric: "President Bush on those skyrocketing gas prices, his plummeting poll numbers and whether New Orleans is ready for hurricane season."
At 7:03AM EDT, Matt Lauer introduced the Williams interview this way:
Lauer: "Before we get to all that, let's talk about President Bush on those rising gas prices, the future of FEMA and his dismal poll numbers."
And the sneaky use of adjectives wasn’t the only tactic that Today employed.
Meredith Vieira just can’t help herself. The View co-host will soon be taking over for Katie Couric on the Today show. One would think that she would try and reign in her bias. Apparently not, as she opened the April 26 edition of The View with another attack on President Bush:
Vieira: "...I’m a little peeved when I hear the President say there’s not much we can do about this, folks. According to the President, the American people have got to understand that what happens elsewhere in the world affects the price of gasoline that you pay here, but where is his responsibility in all this? Five and a half years and we’re dealing with these gas prices? It’s ridiculous."
Does lacrosse lead to rape? NBC’s Today show seriously investigated that question in the April 21 edition. Matt Lauer teased the story with this scintillating query:
Lauer: "And still to come, the Duke lacrosse rape case. Is there something about the sport of lacrosse that causes players to act out of bounds?"
Natalie Morales furthered this line of thinking when she introduced the segment at 7:32AM EDT:
Morales: "But first, Matt, the investigation into the alleged rape by some members of the Duke lacrosse team. It's not the first time the players there have been in trouble and it has some wondering whether this aggressive sport leads to aggressive behavior."
The April 18 Fox and Friends First provided a welcome alternative to the mainstream media’s fawning over the dissident generals attacking Donald Rumsfeld. FNC co-hosts Steve Doocy and Page Hopkins interviewed retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis about his support for Rumsfeld. Doocy teased the segment this way:
Doocy: "Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis. We’re going to talk to him live from down in D.C. about Mr. Rumsfeld. There is that drumbeat, okay, would you call it a drumbeat if there are seven generals, all retired, out of 8,000 active duty and retired generals, is that really a drumbeat?"
Tim Graham and Mark Finkelstein have already reported on the mainstream media's Rumsfeld bashing interviews with retired General John Batiste. So it’s no surprise that TheEarly Show has also piled on. In a segment that aired at 7:05AM EDT, on the April 14 edition, correspondent Bill Plante listed the generals who are calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation. It was a fairly straightforward piece, but Plante couldn’t resist getting in at least one liberal zinger:
Plante: "The White House says that the defense secretary hasn't discussed resigning with the president and the president isn't about to fire him. Of course if the president did, he'd be admitting that he had failed."
Has Meredith Vieira started her stint on the Today show early? The future NBC anchor already knows how to ask combative, loaded questions to conservatives. On the April 12 edition of The View, she posed this query to the Vice President:
Vieira: "You know what, I’ve got a question for Vice President Dick Cheney. Given your low approval ratings these days, why would you want to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals games yesterday?...He got cheered and he got booed."
Vieira, in a segment that started at 11:05AM EDT, seemed honestly puzzled as to why someone would want to throw out the first pitch on opening day. She continued, "But this is a man we rarely see, so why do you think yesterday he made that decision to go out and throw that ball?"
Wow, the CBS Christmas parties are sure going to be fun. Veteran commentator Andy Rooney recently amended his earlier comments about designated Evening News anchor Katie Couric. I don’t think these statements will be popular over at CBS either:
Rooney: "I have this ancient view of CBS News as a paragon of journalistic virtue, and that time is gone."
The most charitable way to characterize that statement would be as a backhanded compliment.
In light of CBS’s and CNN’s obvious pandering to left wing sensibilities on the illegal immigration issue, FNC’s Fox and Friends provided a welcome alternative. The April 11 edition of the show featured a interview with Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union. Co-host E.D. Hill opened the segment this way:
"If a citizen fails to pay taxes, I mean, we’ve got a tax day coming along, say you don't feel like doing it this year, well what happens when the IRS comes, excuse me, where's that money? Well, what do you get charged with, what do you have to pay in terms of fines versus what an illegal alien would have to do?"
Let’s see if I have this correct: According to Katie Couric, the future anchor of the CBS Evening News, a town with Catholic themed values is bad, but Al Jazeera is a "voice of reform?" The April 7 edition of NBC's Today featured Couric’s skewed take on a new English version of the network:
Couric: "Analysts claim that unlike most media in the Arab world, Al-Jazeera is a voice of reform, offering uncensored political dissent and debate."
Now, don’t forget, this is the network best known for carrying long videos of bin Laden and grisly images of murdered American soldiers.
Geraldo Rivera, fresh from protecting children from the evils of hunting, decided to let America know how he REALLY feels about former House majority leader Tom DeLay. In the closing moments of the April 4 edition of Geraldo Al Large, Rivera opened the final segment with this monologue:
Rivera: "For me, the scariest man in American politics was never the Vice President, however intimidating Dick Cheney’s Darth Vader image may be. Now for the last decade, the real chiller that has been the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas. He's been the dark lord of Congress. And now he's gone."
A very tired and very cranky Al Franken appeared on the March 31 edition of the Today show. The segment, which aired at 7:12AM EST, saw Franken respond to a barb from fellow radio talk show host Michael Smerconish with this witty barb: "Screw you." Also, host Matt Lauer couldn’t find time to ask Franken about Air America’s dismal ratings or the "involuntary loan" that the radio network took from a children’s charity. He did, however, manage to note a happy event for the struggling state of liberal talk:
Lauer:"Al Franken is host of the Al Franken show on Air America radio, celebrating a second anniversary today, so congratulations."
On March 24, the Today show featured a segment on the Vice President’s personal needs for hotel visits. The piece, which aired at 7:20AM EST, featured three references to Cheney’s requestthat all televisions be tuned to Fox News. A few days later, the Smoking Gun, the website that broke the Cheney story, did a follow up on John Kerry’s requirements. The NBC series has yet to cover this. And if they did, they would probably not report this demand:
"Newspapers: all local plus New York Times, Washington Post"
Hard as it may be to believe, polygamy is now a "civil rights" issue. That is, if you believe the Today show and HBO’s "Big Love." Just last week, NBC featured a sympathetic look at a man who wants women to have the right to go topless in public. Today has now focused on multiple spouses. The March 19 segment, airing at 8:33AM EST, profiled a man who is married with two wives. After being told that three adults (NBC hid their identity) sleep in the same bed, NBC's Lester Holt blurted out, "See, automatically my mind goes to, then, to sexual fantasies." The co-host later noted that with "the growing political acceptance of same sex unions, polygamy activists are emerging." He hopefully noted that some are "calling it the next civil rights battle and the battle lines are being drawn."
Holt began by promoting the new HBO polygamy themed series, "Big Love." He mentioned that the show has "raised the profile and fascination with these extended marriages." The non judgmental attitude continued as a polygamist, who is identified as "Jacob," (not his real name) was given free range to promote his lifestyle:
Nudity. Perhaps that's NBC's strategy for maintaining high ratings if Katie Couric departs the network. The March 17 edition of Today featured a segment on a artist who seeks to "challenge the taboo issue of women’s bodies." The vehicle for such change? Why, topless women, of course. NBC was only too happy to oblige. The story, airing at 7:49AM EST, featured no less then 22 screen shots of pixilated nudity, including a seven second clip of a woman skating topless. Additionally, the photographer, Jordan Matter, is a well known liberal who stated on his website that the goal of his art project is:
Matter: "Challenging this inequity between the sexes is the purpose of my work. There has been a recent shift in America towards a socially conservative philosophy, so right after Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at the Super Bowl, I started asking women to appear topless in New York City."
The media has manufactured another furor over "controversial" Pat Robertson comments. The televangelist has said he was referring to terrorists when he described radical Muslims as "satanic." His statements recently came under the scrutiny of the women on ABC's The View. On the March 14 edition of the program, View co-hosts used Robertson’s comments as an excuse to generally bash religion. Joy Behar stated, "And a lot of the nasty people represent religion in this world.." She also added, "There’s too much anger between extreme religions." Just getting warmed up, the host then took a gratuitous and bewildering swipe at Rush Limbaugh: "Rush Limbaugh, people like that, get your attention because they’re radical."
United States officials announced yesterday that the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq will be closing in a few months. This gave NBC yet another excuse to show a montage of the famous abuse photos. Mike Boettcher, appearing at 7:06AM EST on the March 10 edition of Today, described the planned closing this way:
Boettcher: "During Saddam Hussein's reign and later under U.S. occupation, Abu Ghraib became perhaps the world's most notorious prison. Photographs of prisoner abuse by American guards at Abu Ghraib sparked an international scandal." (Pictures of abused prisoners overlap Boettcher’s comments.)
So it wasSaddam Hussein and the United States that made the prison notorious? A naked pyramid may be bad, but it’s not the same as brutal murder.
On March 5, the morning of the Oscars, the Today show indicated that mainstream Hollywood might be too conservative. Yes, you read that correctly. NBC correspondent Jennifer London, in a segment airing at 8:51AM EST, discussed the gay themes of Capote, Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica. She then made the following comment:
London: "The message this year? It's good to be gay in Hollywood. Or is it?"
The piece pointed out that despite the nominations of heterosexual actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger for their roles as homosexuals, many gay actors don’t come out. Ms. London also asserted that the public endorses these films, it’s the studios who are squeamish:
Today co-host Katie Couric savaged Dominos Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and Paul Marinelli, CEO of Barron Collier Company (BCC). The two appeared on the March 3 edition of the show to promote Ave Maria, a new Catholic university in Florida and the planned community that will surround it. Couric, interviewing the two men at 7:34AM EST, appeared openly hostile. She stated, "I think people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance." Mr. Marinelli denied this claim, but that didn’t stop Couric from playing the bigotry card.
It’s a question that has been asked many times: If Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell asleep during a case, would the media notice? The answer, apparently, is no. On March 1, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of a Texas redistricting plan. One only has to look at the accompanying graphic to see how exciting Justice Ginsburg found the case. FNC correspondent Megyn Kendall reported it this way on Wednesday's Special Report:
"It is one of the biggest redistricting cases the high court has heard in years, but the special two hour argument proved less then compelling to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who at times appeared to be, well, asleep.
Harry Belafonte spoke at the State of the Black Union on February 25. The event, which took place in Houston, saw Mr. Belafonte provide this definition of terror. He opined:
"Sending young men and young women, sons and daughters from America, to murder people in other nations is an act of terror."
The aging pop singer also wondered aloud whether Osama bin Laden was, in fact, guilty of masterminding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (Click here to see the entire speech. Belafonte’s more incendiary comments begin at the one hour and 17 minute mark.)