In his column on the decline and fall of morality on television this week, Brent Bozell applies scrutiny to the TV critics, a group of people often pushing and shoving the networks to shatter every moral barrier, break through every standard of taste. Showtime has a new series titled "Dexter," featuring actor Michael C. Hall in the title role, slobbered over by the critics for his role as the repressed gay funeral director in HBO's "Six Feet Under." This new show makes a hero out of a sadistic serial killer, because his insatiable desire to kill is channeled into killing other bad guys. During the day, he helps the cops catch other killers by assessing blood spatter patterns. Brent writes "He’s a sociopathic killer-slash-hero, with the emphasis on the slash – he carves his victims up to fit into Hefty bags." Here's more:
As pay-cable pioneers, always pushing the newest disgusting "edge" with an eye on extremely jaded TV critics, Showtime executives feel warm that they have brought more understanding to the world on behalf of the much-maligned serial killer. Said Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt: "This is a complex and fascinating look at serial killers, which, up to this point, have been marginalized and made two-dimensional."
Society has "marginalized" serial killers? Silly me. Here, all along, I thought those folks had done that to themselves.
Brian Maloney at the Radio Equalizer blog reports the latest in the Air America stealing-from-the-children financial scandal: New York officials have indicted two execs at the Gloria Wise Community Center. Will the flurry of news coverage Brian recounts ever make its way to the mainstream media? The local CBS affilate reported:
Two former executives at a government-funded youth organization whose finances were scrutinized after it diverted money to the liberal radio network Air America were charged Thursday with misappropriating $1.2 million of the non-profit's funds.
Charles Rosen, a former executive director at the Gloria Wise Community Center, and his former assistant director, Jeffrey Aulenbach, face charges of grand larceny and obstructing governmental administration. Rosen was also charged with forgery.
TVNewser notes "Dan Rather Reports will still be coming soon to Mark Cuban's HDNet. Just not as soon," Ed Bark reports. The program was to launch in October. But in an e-mail, Cuban now says: "We are moving Dan back to after the elections so there won't be as much going on." Perhaps it's because the last weeks of an election season, he looks a little like Captain Ahab, "reckless, arrogant, and ideologically blind in his pursuit of Moby Bush."
At the CBS Public Eye site, Vaughn Ververs reported that a CBS employee (a tape archivist they claim somehow doesn't count as a news gatherer, just a tape gatherer) sent a nasty Foley-related note to the RNC:
MRC's Rich Noyes has calculated the number of Mark Foley/Will Hastert Quit? stories for Week One of the scandal on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from last Friday night, September 29, through Friday morning, October 6. So for evening shows, it's Friday to Thursday. For morning shows, it's Saturday through Friday. (One or two evening stories and a smattering of morning stories are brief anchor updates.)The number's a little shocking: 103 stories. It breaks down like this:
-- ABC: Good Morning America, 23 stories; World News, 15 stories
-- CBS: The Early Show, 17 stories; Evening News, 11 stories
The editorialists at the Chicago Tribune aren't ready yet to declare that Speaker Dennis Hastert has to be tossed aside, but before they get too high and mighty about the safety of teenagers from lecherous Members of Congress, we should recall that the Trib editorialized in favor of what would become Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Mel Reynolds, the convicted teen-sex/child-porn/obstruction of justice Democratic congressman. Headlined "Reynolds, Not Rosty, Needs Mercy," the Trib complained that disgraced Dan Rostenkowski didn't need the Clinton pardon, unlike Reynolds:
Mel Reynolds, elected in 1992 after knocking off 2nd District incumbent Gus Savage, was convicted on state charges related to his sexual relationship with a teenage girl, and then on federal charges of bank and campaign fraud. He's been locked up since October, 1995, first doing his state time and then going to federal prison to serve an unusually harsh 61/2-year sentence that, if nothing is done, will keep him behind bars until March, 2003 -- leaving his wife and three young children to fend for themselves.
NRO Media Blog notes that George Soros blew a Clinton-style gasket at Neil Cavuto on Fox Thursday afternoon. Cavuto raised his accented ire by noting that he may not be paying all those taxes on the super-rich that the Left constantly demands, since his Quantum Fund is registered in the Netherlands Antilles, in Curacao:
Cavuto: "So your taxes in this country... are they at the 35 percent rate?"
Soros: "I would like to discuss policy. You are now falling into the trap of your colleagues at Fox who shall remain nameless because I think they are so disreputable, I wouldn't want to mention their names!"
Cavuto: "Mr. Soros, I don't think -- "
Soros: "I respect you. That's why I came here, alright? Let's not get personal."
John F. Harris explores the role of the "new media" in politics in a Friday front-page story related to his new book "How to Win." Bill Clinton told Harris that they expect the (liberal) old media to crush the new media, as Kerry expected the old media to defeat the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
Democrats of his generation tend to be naive about new media realities. There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies -- and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.
"We're all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the '60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate," Clinton said. "Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations."
Congressman Barney Frank’s scandalous tolerance of a gay prostitution business operating out of his house, uncovered by the Washington Times in 1989, drew from ABC nowhere near the dramatic amount of attention ABC gave Mark Foley. On the August 25, 1989 World News Tonight, Sam Donaldson noted it just once in passing, a mere 67 words:
"Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, an acknowledged homosexual, today confirmed that his Washington apartment had been used as a callboy headquarters by a male prostitute for a year and a half until late 1987. Responding to a story in today's Washington Times, Frank said he had hired the prostitute out of his own funds as a personal aide and fired him when he found out what was going on."
When the story broke in July of 1983 on the sexual affairs with House pages by Reps. Daniel Crane and Gerry Studds, ABC did not fuel days of speculation about whether Speaker Tip O’Neill would resign. (Fun fact: when Studds was censured, Speaker O’Neill did not cast a vote. Three Democrats voted against Studds being censured.) By the time Studds ran in a primary re-election campaign in September 1984, ABC aired a report telling the nation that Studds faced only "a strong sense of loyalty" and forgiveness from the voters in Massachusetts.
On July 14, 1983, ABC reporter Charles Gibson reported:
"In both cases, the relationships were voluntary, there was no favoritism granted to the pages. Thus it was the recommendation of the committee's special counsel, Joseph Califano, that the Congressmen not be expelled or censured, simply reprimanded and by an eleven to one vote, the Ethics Committee agreed."
Talk about a double standard. On the one hand, ABC News breaks stories pushing disgust at Mark Foley's "X-rated emails" with teenagers, and suggests Dennis Hastert should resign for being unable to stop them. But wait: ABC Entertainment rolls out the adult-on-teen gay sex scenes on ABC's smutty "Desperate Housewives" for fun and profit. It wins awards for ABC as "Best Comedy." How serious is ABC and Disney about the sexual exploitation of teens by adults? Doesn't it make money presenting it as saucy?
Congressman Mel Reynolds, the Democrat convicted of 12 charges, including sex with 16-year-old Beverly Heard and asking her to take pornographic photographs of a 15-year old, was indicted on August 21, 1994. ABC, the current scourge of congressional teen-sex scandals, reported nothing – until Reynolds was convicted a year later, on August 23, 1995. In fact, on May 13, 1994, ABC featured Reynolds in a "Person of the Week" speaking out in favor of two Chicago ladies fighting child molesters:
Peter Jennings: " Their local congressman is certainly on their side. He also wants to make child molesting a federal offense."
Rep. Mel Reynolds (D), Illinois: "These ladies really illustrate how being active in your community can really make a difference."
In The New York Post, terrorism expert and journalist Steven Emerson protested that CNN and Newsday warped the views of Republican Congressman Peter King on an Islamic group, and how they want to blame 9/11 on a Zionist conspiracy instead of al-Qaeda:
THE media is engaged in a jihad against Rep. Peter King - a jihad in defense of Islamist extremists.
King, a Long Island Republican, has warned his constituents that some leaders of the Islamic Center of Long Island have "publicly stated that the CIA or the 'Zionists' may have been behind the attacks" of 9/11.
The record backs him up. Indeed, the center's leadership has a long history of extremism. But both Newsday and CNN chose to ignore the facts and smear King.
CNN's Lou Dobbs eagerly promoted PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers on Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, describing him as a "distinguished journalist" and "certainly one of this country's most respected journalists." Not as one of the country's most liberal journalists. Dobbs not only promoted his Wednesday PBS show "Capitol Crimes," those words were also the graphic for the segment. Dobbs and Moyers agreed that campaigns today are merely the exchange of bribes, and Moyers added that the McCain-Feingold crackdown on campaign speech is a mere "fig leaf" of regulation.
Dobbs began: "Let's hear what one of the people you chronicle and hear from in the special says, R.G. Ratcliffe, the Houston Chronicle reporter."
R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle: "Just the kinds and ways that dollars have flowed into the system in recent years have led to something of a form of institutional corruption. And the kind of thing that you want to watch for, it is not a very big step from a campaign contribution to a bribe."
On the "Foley fallout" beat on Day 3, ABC's Good Morning America turned to their sex-scandal expert (and oh, the sex scandals he's spun for Bill Clinton!) George Stephanopoulos. MRC's Justin McCarthy reports the Foley story was still a major hurricane headed to blow away Republicans, and was coming to shore:
Roberts: For more on the fallout on this we go to ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos who is also the host, of course, of 'This Week.' George, when I talked to you earlier this week when this story broke, you said it was a category three political hurricane for Republicans. Has it intensified since then?"
National Public Radio is so liberal that even the weekend game shows ooze liberalism. On Saturday, the show "Whad'Ya Know" from Wisconsin Public Radio (heard on 260 stations) interviewed New York Times columnist Frank Rich on his new Bush-bashing book "The Greatest Story Ever Sold on Earth" for almost half an hour. Near the end (about 27 minutes into the first half-hour), host Michael Feldman went on a tear against the use of the term Islamo-fascism" to define the terrorists:
Feldman: "Also, that 'Islamofascism' thing they keep saying, which is so annoying, first of all because none of these governments are fascist, really. But the government is acting in a way which is quite fascistic, really, because it’s corporate, it’s authoritarian, it’s you know, it’s anti-liberal. That’s the definition of fascism, but they’re using this, this is a phrase they’ve decided to use."
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers previewed large chunks of his Jack Abramoff "Capitol Crimes" documentary (airing on PBS Wednesday) on far-left Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Tuesday. Asked why he was once again hammering away on conservatives on taxpayer-funded PBS stations, just weeks before the elections, Moyers predictably declared that America is going to hell in a handbasket under the right wing: "our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression." He told host Amy Goodman:
As I listened to you begin this broadcast with the litany of reality that you report, I got a slow burn, you know, at just what's happening to this country, to our government and to America under the reign of the corporate, political and religious right. And there are so few places that, as you are doing, are just simply telling the other side of the story, letting the facts add up, that I realize I couldn't sit in the rocking chair and comfortably enjoy the books I’m reading, while our democracy, it needs all the information those of us who are independent journalists can provide. So I came back, because there just is too much to report and too much to tell, at a particular time when I think we’re in a -- when our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression.
Network morning shows stayed on the Mark Foley scandal on Tuesday. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all harped on the "conservative" Washington Times editorial calling for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. (The Times is conservative, but no one expects the networks to describe the liberal newspapers -- or themselves -- with an ideological label.) ABC's Brian Ross came on strong, suggesting the Republican problem was "one of hypocrisy, talking tough about going after pedophiles on the Internet but not doing much about it when it comes to one of their own." CBS's Hannah Storm wondered if the scandal would "take down the Republican leadership in the House." NBC's Tim Russert used a rare P-word quoting a panicked Republican: "If there's a perception that we overlooked perversion in order to hold on to power we are finished." And CNN brought on a braying Paul Begala and found Democrats were "particularly enjoying the fact" that House campaign chairman Thomas Reynolds was ensnared in the controversy.
Monday's online chat sessions with Washington Post reporters found some typical Democrat-defending responses. The daily political chat, hosted Monday by Shailagh (that's Shay-la) Murray, included a defense of the woman the Democrats already call "Speaker Pelosi" on the Bill Jefferson scandal:
Arlington, Va.: Do you think Nancy Pelosi will ever understand that investigating House members for "crimes" must come equally hard upon all Democrats as well? Has she done anything to investigate William Jefferson in Lousiana or blocked him from being on the ballot? Did Nancy Pelosi have as much anger in the 1980's when a Republican and a Democrat in Congress treated pages inappropriately? How does Nancy Pelosi feel about Mel Watts, who served time in prison for sex crimes with a minor? Why is he a member of Congress? Sounds like Pelosi is a hypocrite, or do you think that term is too harsh?
If there was a competition on Monday morning to see who would give Bob Woodward the most free publicity, NBC's Today was the hands-down winner. Between the introductory promos, an Andrea Mitchell report, a Tony Snow interview, and a Bob Woodward interview, NBC gave "State of Denial" 15 minutes of publicity in the first half hour of Monday's show. In those 15 minutes, NBC viewers saw the book's red cover displayed on the screen six times, the title was mentioned at least five times, and the on-screen graphics carried the title for most of those 15 minutes.
After Matt Lauer promoted the Mark Foley story, he added: "Counterpunch. The Bush administration fights backs, fights back against explosive claims in Bob Woodward's new book that it bungled the war in Iraq." Seconds later, Meredith Vieira added: "And another big story out of Washington, that bombshell book from legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward paints a scathing picture of the Bush administration's handing of the war in Iraq, that goes as far as to say the White House is deliberately misleading the public."
In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House? "
ABC's Chris Cuomo and CBS's Julie Chen each pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. Chen also asked if Republican leaders should be questioned "under oath." ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are." None made historical comparisons with Democrats caught in sexual relationships with House pages or other teenagers.
Late on Friday night's edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," former Bush administration aide Ron Christie, author of "Black in the White House," pressed host Chris Matthews on the suggestion that if Republican Sen. George Allen's alleged racial slurs in the 1970s are a character flaw, what about the Democrats re-electing Senator Robert Byrd, a former Klansman, this fall? Matthews protested in a lecturing tone that "everyone knows about it....It's been raised a thousand times on his record." After claiming he was not defending Byrd, he told Christie: "The guy's 90 years old. Give him a break."
Howard Kurtz has two notable stories on political bias in today's "Media Notes" column -- first, a spicy review of how all the liberal journalists loathe Fox News and its chieftain, Roger Ailes. Second, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse spouted that her splenetic speech at Harvard in June saying Team Bush has created a "law-free zone" and decrying religious "fundamentalists" taking over our government were a "statement of facts," not opinion! The Ailes interview is entertaining:
Vanity Fair recently pegged Ailes as No. 44 on its New Establishment list, calling him "the most powerful news executive in America." But it also called him "the man who gives the Bush administration a major media outlet" and described Dick Cheney -- who demands that his hotel TVs be preset to Fox -- as his "big loyal friend."
In the weekend stories about the new Bob Woodward book, the conventional wisdom was that Woodward's first two Bush books were too supportive and sympathetic to the Bush White House, and now he's finally displaying some independence. But left out of that spin is Woodward's support and sympathy for the Clintons during their time in the White House. Revisit a few Brent Bozell columns for a reality check.
In 1994, Bozell wrote a column cheekily titled: "Woodward and Bernstein: Whitewater Wimps." Oh, how the scourges of Watergate went soft. Brent was especially flabbergasted by Woodward claiming Hillary was not a crook because the statute of limitations expired:
Even worse, a week later, Woodward presented this delicious lawyer's defense of the First Lady's cattle killing: "Would it be possible that there's a crime involved in the $100,000 in the futures market? This was what, 15 years ago, so the statute of limitations automatically means it's not a crime." Somewhere in New Jersey, Nixon is giggling.
Newly minted Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is promoting liberal former Sen. John Danforth again in a Sunday book review in The Washington Post. He's also praising a new book called The Politics of Jesus by Obery Hendricks Jr. (The subtitle's all about Jesus as a political revolutionary.) Like many other liberal journalists, Meacham is desperately seeking someone to convince traditionally religious Americans that they shouldn't be giving their votes to conservatives. So they cheer a whole series of "intellectually stimulating" books that lamely attempt to recruit traditionalist Christians and Jews to vote for the loosey-goosey libertine party:
Hendricks's Christian manifesto for a politically liberal vision of America and of the world arrives at an especially rich moment in the long-running debate over the role of religion in the nation's public life. After roughly three decades of largely ceding the language of faith to political conservatives, liberals are mounting an aggressive and often intellectually stimulating counterattack.
To their credit, The Washington Post took up the issue of sex-themed T-shirts at local high schools on the front page Tuesday. It makes you wonder who the most worrisome tastemakers are, the T-shirt makers, or some children's parents:
Allison Wynn, 17, a senior at Osbourn Park High School in Prince William County...said she is fond of wearing a shirt that says, "Don't Call Me a Cowgirl Until You See Me Ride." Joanne Wynn said her daughter's shirts are humorous. "If it's not in good taste, I don't let [her] wear it," she said.
Mrs. Graham e-mailed me about how the local Top 40 station made this mildly conservative story its main topic of conversation. They had people calling in talking about their own T-shirts. They mentioned that you can buy baby "onesies" with sayings on them too.
On The Corner today, John Podhoretz has the latest in a very old tale in a new laudatory biography of Isidor Feinstein Stone, or as the leftists remember and adore him, I.F. Stone. In the 1960's he was all the rage with his newsletter I.F. Stone's Weekly. A new book by Myra MacPherson, formerly a reporter for The Washington Post, apparently has ended up rebutting itself:
The Washington journalist Myra MacPherson has written a worshipful book about the radical leftist journalist I.F. Stone. A dozen years ago Stone's reputation was rocked when a retired KGB officer seemed to finger Stone as a paid agent of the Soviet Union. MacPherson evidently went to great pains to disprove this charge, and in her book she triumphantly claims to have done so. But, as Paul Berman explains in a fascinating review of her book (and a new collection of Stone's writing), MacPherson "seems not to notice that in her ardor to rescue Stone from his enemies, she has yanked the rope a little too firmly and has accidentally hanged the man." Berman continues:
MacPherson informs us that Kalugin, having specified that Stone was never on the Soviet payroll, described Stone as a "fellow traveler" — meaning a friendly supporter of the Soviet cause, though not a disciplined member of any Communist organization. Kalugin explained (in words no admirer of I. F. Stone will want to read) that Stone "began his cooperation with the Soviet intelligence long before me, based entirely on his view of the world." Stone was "willing to perform tasks." He would "find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue."
Brent Bozell's entertainment column this week chronicled an especially sad decline of a one-time child star of "Little House on the Prairie" raging against her wholesome reputation in an attempt to keep snagging roles in the land of polymorphous perversity. Say it ain't so, Laura Ingalls!
Perhaps this is a classic example of how pathetically low our society’s morals have fallen in 25 years: Melissa Gilbert just guest-starred on the FX cable network’s grotesque show "Nip/Tuck." Are you ready for this? As a woman needing to have a nipple replaced....because her dog bit it off....during sex.
On CBS's racially-segregated "Survivor" reality show Thursday night, an Asian man named "Cao Boi" (pronounced Cowboy) went on a rant against the Iraq war and insisted American teenagers are going to be drafted and sent to Iraq en masse -- unless you're privileged, "unless you're Mr. Bush children." He was telling a story about a conversation he had at a restaurant:
“This old man he said, 'I come to United States, I’m so lonely, all my friends are in Vietnam.' He’s like fifty-something. And he just missed the old days. 'But I come to United States for my children’s future.' I go, ‘how old are your children?’ 'Fifteen and sixteen.' HA HA HA HA! Fifteen and sixteen! They trick you. They trick you. He go ‘what’? Fifteen and sixteen, you think in a couple of more years they’ll be in Iraq? ‘I’m sorry. For what?’ You’re Vietnamese. You should know better about war. You should know all about war.”
Just two weeks after Rosie O’Donnell made waves on ABC’s all-female chat show The View for proclaiming that "radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam," the Catholic League is protesting a conversation on Thursday’s show between O’Donnell and co-host Joy Behar about drunken priests and silly Eucharistic rules. (Don’t forget the obligatory Mel Gibson slam.) Sitting with glasses of red wine, the women were discussing a study showing drinking red wine helps preserve memory:
Behar: "Don’t you start losing your memory when you’re a drunk? I mean, that’s the first thing that goes."
O’Donnell: "Or you just start spouting anti-Semitic statements. [Crowd laughs, then oohs in shock] Mel Gibson! Mel Gibson! C’mon! Cause they say when you get drunk, the real person comes out. I don’t know about one glass of wine, though."
Thursday's CBS Evening News pondered the new technology used by political campaigns at YouTube, but national political correspondent Gloria Borger dwelled on the videos embarrassing to Republicans -- Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" remarks, a Florida House candidate's blacks-can't-swim comment, and Sen. Conrad Burns snoozing. (There was fleeting attention on the George W. Bush-Joe Lieberman "kiss" and its clearly Bush-loathing flavor.)
At least when CBS's The Early Show had Bill Plante study the phenomenon on Tuesday morning, he balanced Allen with a Democrat, Sen. Joe Biden joking about needing an Indian accent to walk into a 7-Eleven. Borger underlined Allen as an idiot: "Virginia Senator George Allen has become a poster child for what can go wrong when a candidate gets caught saying something stupid...the controversy paved the way for new charges this week that Allen has a racist past."