Don’t look now, but rock musicians are calling the president an idiot again. Rolling Stone’s latest issue is completely obsessed with promoting Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts, and includes interviews with rockers predictably trashing wars for oil and hailing the Goracle. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd stood out with the Bush-bashing:
"It would help if we could divert some of our resources away from blowing each other to bits and toward think tanks. Something has gone wrong with the democratic process when you can get idiots rising to offices of extreme power, like the presidency of the United States of America. George Bush – you could not make a worse choice in someone to lead the most powerful nation in the free world."
AP's David Bauder interviewed disgraced Bush-hating ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather, and includes this fun fact about his current HDNet digs: "Two former CBS News producers run the 'Dan Rather Reports' staff with their boss. Their office a few steps away from Times Square -- Rather critics will love this -- is located in the Bush Building."
At Human Events, Chris Plante has a funny take on CBS's answers to Dan Rather's attack on soft-soap Katie Couric and the supposed sexism that's causing her low ratings:
Maybe if Katie delivered the news in a white, embroidered apron from a studio decorated like a 1950’s kitchen we’d all tune in. She could open the broadcast with a nicely browned turkey on a platter, placing it gingerly on a French country table with lace doilies and then spend 30 minutes lying to us. The CBS Evening News with Barbara Billingsley.
MRC intern Michael Lanza reports that late-night PBS talk show host Charlie Rose is nothing if not complimentary toward the glitterati of the left. On the June 12 show, he had to insist that leftist hedge-fund philanthropist George Soros was a "promoter of democracy" when a guest who worked for him started noting he was a socialist. On June 4, during his interview with Carl Bernstein on his Hillary biography, Rose oozed that the impeached former president was "the most curious human being on the planet." Rose also asked Bernstein if there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against the Clintons:
ROSE: Is this something like a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?
BERNSTEIN: The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy I think existed.
News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast. The "feminine divine" in question was 9-year-old Sajani Shakya. Anchor Michele Norris proclaimed "she is a goddess, or Kumari, venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," who was visiting Washington as part of the Silverdocs film festival. NPR reporter Neda Ulaby began:
ULABY: The goddess is, frankly, a little jet-lagged. But adorned with golden saffron robes and a ceremonial third eye painted on her forehead, she's the most majestic 9-year-old this classroom of American kids has ever met.
On Friday's Good Morning America, ABC reporter Dan Harris relayed the news that Bill Clinton and Al Gore are now very rich men. But he couldn't do it without mangling a fact or two. Harris began:
"Think about it, when Bill Clinton and Al Gore both left the White House, they both had some serious financial problems. Now they both have some serious cash. President Clinton left power in 2001 dogged by legal bills. But last year, he made more than $10 million in paid speeches, according to new federal filings released by his wife’s presidential campaign."
When Bill Clinton left the White House, his wife had already agreed to an $8 million book advance. If the Clinton marriage means their assets are held in common, it couldn't accurately be said Clinton "had some serious financial problems" with the legal bills. Harris also ignored the Clintons had a multi-million-dollar legal defense fund to defray costs. Listen to NBC's Andrea Mitchell touting Bill's big $12 million book deal in August 2001:
Clay Waters of Times Watch alerted me to a new item in the Shameless Hillary Department: Ben Smith at Politico.com reports Mother Teresa's missionaries have protested Hillary's use of a photograph of her waving next to Mother Teresa in a Hillary campaign video, in which the announcer said: "Hillary in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India..." The picture was used as the words "in India" were narrated. Will the rest of the media follow up on this story?
The head of a politically conservative Catholic group, Fidelis, said he brought the video to the attention of Sister Nirmala, Teresa's successor at the Superior General of the India-based Missionaries of Charity. Fidelis president Joseph Cella called it "wholly inappropriate, disrespectful and disturbing that Hillary Clinton shamelessly exploited Mother’s image as a political tool."
Chris Matthews grew "verklempt," he said, on Wednesday night’s Hardball, as he pondered how a class reunion made plain for him that some people watch him every night, and trust him like people trusted Walter Cronkite. From there, Matthews and his guests took up the subject of objectivity in journalism:
Ana Marie Cox, Time.com: "I also want to say that this idea about voice being very important to the current viewer and, and Eugene’s right that it’s true, that this idea that we should be aiming for objective truth in, in journalism is a relatively new thing for us."
Chris Matthews: "I agree."
Cox: "And I think what’s important is that people trust, they could trust an unbiased [sic], they could trust a biased source."
Matthews: "Okay, this country was built on biased reporting."
The funny thing about "news" magazine blogs is that there's not much difference in editorializing quotient between the magazine and the blog posts. "Anonymous" Joe Klein is a Time columnist, officially, but he has all the partisan tics that the other MSM political gurus have. In looking at the latest Hillary polls showing her solid support among downscale women, Klein argued on Time's Swampland blog:
I suspect that Hillary's showing among women has the most significance. Something has happened here. You see it on the campaign trail. A lot of previously skeptical women have decided that Clinton's Methodist rectitude is needed to clean up the mess the frat boy made in Washington.
It's always entertaining to hear Klein -- who lied his face off for many best-selling weeks about authoring his millionaire-minting Clinton roman a clef Primary Colors, even to his Newsweek bosses -- pronounce on rectitude.
The Long Memory Brigade here at MRC remembered Flag Day with a few reminders we've published in our Notable Quotables newsletter. The Left can easily display their contempt for the American flag. For example, there's this dropping of unpatriotic nastiness from the days right after 9/11 in The Nation:
"My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the World Trade Center, thinks we should fly an American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. She tells me I’m wrong – the flag means standing together and honoring the dead and saying no to terrorism. In a way we’re both right....[The flag] has to bear a wide range of meanings, from simple, dignified sorrow to the violent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry that has already resulted in murder, vandalism and arson around the country and harassment on New York City streets and campuses." -- The Nation’s Katha Pollitt in a column in the October 8, 2001 edition.
Talking to our Matt Sheffield on "Fox & Friends" this morning, FNC's Steve Doocy referred to an AP story that his network has noted repeatedly in recent days: that the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that FNC's doing less Iraq coverage than CNN or MSNBC. David Bauder sought out the MRC for balance, and we said the problem we have with the media elite is that they clearly see Fox as pandering to an audience and they don't see CNN as pandering to an audience. Media liberals routinely isolate Fox as a less journalistic, more propagandistic outlier -- they don't see networks inside their liberal bubble as the slightest bit questionable.
On Wednesday night’s "Larry King Live," NBC’s Matt Lauer tried to play the politician in the middle of the Rather vs. Couric publicity feud, stressing his "great respect" for the disgraced Rather and how this is "inside baseball" that most Americans don’t care about. (Yeah, right.) But his attempt to please everyone grew ridiculous when he called Katie’s increasingly historic ratings lows part of a "normal feeling-out period" and that some times, it takes time for a program to be a big hit: "I mean look at the history of some of the shows in primetime that went on to become huge successes, like 'M*A*S*H' and 'Cheers,' and things like that, where in the beginning they were -- you know what, they fell flat."
Let’s hope Katie gives him credit to Matt for his willingness to look silly on her behalf, as the entertainment equivalents of her "Evening News" stint might be more like "Cop Rock." A flop.
The cover of this week’s Newsweek touts a story inside on "Hillary’s Likability Gap." That’s not exactly how it’s pitched inside, where the magazine tries another attack on right-wing Clinton haters titled "The New War on Hillary." Reporters Jonathan Darman and Mark Hosenball ponder the "haters’ fury," and remember the bad old days of First Lady Hillary: "Installed in Washington, Hillary morphed into a comic-book villain for her detractors – a man-eating feminist, they claimed, who allegedly threw lamps at her husband, communed psychically with Eleanor Roosevelt and lit a White House Christmas tree adorned with sex toys. The narrative of depravity – a tissue of inventions by conservatives – was often hard to follow."
But wait, wait: who "invented" Hillary’s seances with Jean Houston conjuring up Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House? That story emerged from the keyboard of Bob Woodward – no conservative – in 1996. Newsweek wrote an article lamenting the story, hailing Hillary as a persecuted "Joan of Arc figure." And what about the lamp-throwing? Newsweek really launched those rumors nationwide (albeit with sympathy toward poor Hillary) in the April 5, 1993 edition:
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales has always been a bit of a Dan Rather apple-polisher, but today's article on Dan Rather's feud with CBS grew preposterous, when right after he wistfully noted Rather might still be the CBS anchor "if not for a botched CBS News report about President George W. Bush's lack of active service in the National Guard," he claimed everyone must acknowledge Dan's virtue:
Even critics of Rather would have to admit he has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, for hard news over fluff and for integrity in the newsroom.
No, actually critics of Rather would have to do no such thing. This is like arguing that Bill Jefferson has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, against congressional bribery.
Time TV critic James Poniewozik took great delight in two federal judges in Manhattan suggesting that the FCC can’t fine Fox for airing the F-word because some clever media person captured President Bush muttering the S-word to Tony Blair. As Brent Bozell argued, there’s a difference between profanities uttered by airhead celebrities on national TV and profanities overheard and put on the air by media people who want to embarrass Bush with his base. But Time magazine's F-bomb advocate thinks it’s time the man they call "President Pottymouth" surrendered on the decency issue:
Of course, the President and his party may try to exploit the inevitable outrage from this defeat. But actually there's another way for them to make chicken salad out of something you are now allowed to say in prime time. They could call off the decency crusade. They could say it's a good thing to protest idiotic crudity -- on the radio, on TV or on the Senate floor -- but to legislate against it is another matter. They could embrace the civil libertarians to whom they inadvertently handed a big win. What do you have to lose, Mr. President? In recent years, you have disappointed your anti-illegal-immigration base, your fiscal-conservative base and now your family-values base. But to free-speechers, after this court ruling, you are the f___ing man.
Is the Washington Post allergic to the word "ultraliberal"? Yes. Here's Exhibit A.
The top of the Sunday Style section of the Washington Post celebrated the far-left protest group Code Pink, complete with colorful pink pictures. Reporter Libby Copeland’s gooey feature was headlined "Protesting for Peace With A Vivid Hue and Cry / Code Pink’s Tactics: Often Theatrical, Always Colorful." Only once in this long piece on "peace" was there a label for the group. Their rented house was a "sort of lefty group home you might expect to find on the outskirts of a college campus. Here, though, some of the lefties double as grandmas."
In Monday’s daily online Washingtonpost.com political chat, reporter Shailagh Murray grew readably irritated when a reader questioned her use of the label "ultraconservative" for Rep. Barbara Cubin in a June 7 story on who would succeed the late Sen. Craig Thomas. "I get irritated with people who assume knee-jerk bias in reporters, based on one story that they happen to read. I actually don't see such terms as inflammatory, but as descriptive, and I'll use them as a I see fit."
The reader also asked her if she ever puts the word "ultra" in front of "liberal" in her stories, and who would fit the "ultraliberal" label. The reporter skipped the first question (suggesting she doesn’t use "ultraliberal"), but offered a list of ultraliberals: Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Sen. Barbara Boxer. Not a bad list, but guess what? It’s easy to find Post stories where those ultraliberals are written up, and are only called "liberals" and more often, aren’t labeled at all.
Chicago Tribune “public editor” Timothy McNulty claimed on Friday that he has been sensitized to a gross indignity: stories referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton as merely “Hillary.” Prodded by feminists, he claimed that this indignity deserves exploring, even as he acknowledges that Hillary uses “Hillary!” as a first-person promotional tool in her own campaign. As Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post blew it off in his online chat today: “I used to have the same concern until HRC began running for office and promoting herself as "Hillary" on her Web site, in literature, etc. If it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me.”
The prodding feminist McNulty quotes in the piece is online Tribune editor Jane Fritsch, formerly of The New York Times, who wrote McNulty in an e-mail that "The simple fact is that Hillary Rodham Clinton is running in a field of men who are never referred to by their first names...The argument that we call her Hillary to avoid confusion is a weak one. There are easy alternatives. ... Certainly the problem created by the existence of two presidents named George Bush has been a difficult one, but we found ways to solve it without diminishing George W. Bush."
Matthew Balan showed me that The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a woman "who considers herself an advocate for issues affecting women and families" is all about declaring that Philadelphia is officially a city where women can safely "terminate" pregnancies and insure they don't create a family. Couldn't they just call her a liberal, or an abortion advocate? Patrick Kerkstra reported the vote was nine to eight:
Already this year, more than 50 resolutions have sailed through City Council, including those that honored Miss Philadelphia, chastised Don Imus, and designated "Safe Kids Week." With rare exception, these purely symbolic gestures are approved by unanimous voice vote.
Earlier today, Mark Finkelstein found that NBC thought the reaction to President Bush in eastern Europe was "over the top," which suggests their own dismissive judgment of his worth. "Over the top" was not a designation NBC used when President Clinton was hailed by large, adulatory crowds in eastern Europe. On June 22, 1999, as Brent Baker noted at the time, the NBC Nightly News featured the late reporter David Bloom touting how Clinton was greeted as a "liberator" – unlike President Bush?
BLOOM: In a refugee camp filled with mud and misery, but also today, hope, President Clinton, with his wife and daughter, walked hand-in-hand with children who escaped Kosovo's hell, but who cannot escape their own nightmares. 'The children,' Mr. Clinton says, 'have a glazed-over look in their eyes, full of hurt and terror and loss.' This woman tells the president, "My little boy has seen people killed. He's still afraid." But with the war over, these refugees, many still afraid to go home, fearing the unknown, greet the president like a liberator.
In his latest culture column, Brent Bozell decried the Second Circuit's ruling in favor of the networks that celebrity-dropped F-bombs on Fox awards shows (if you can still call Cher and Nicole Richie celebrities) should not be fined for indecency:
The federal judges who ruled against the FCC suggested the agency’s rulings were “arbitrary and capricious.” But is there anything more arbitrary and capricious than an egotistical celebrity dropping the F-bomb on national TV? Or the network refusing to administer a tiny delay?
Pardon me if I can’t imagine Thomas Jefferson & Co. pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for the valiant cause of transmitting the potty mouths of washed-up pop singers and spoiled-rotten mall princesses into millions of American households. Why the hurrahs? It’s a bit like cheering dog owners who never clean up their pet’s droppings on other people’s lawns.
National Public Radio boasted an "evangelical Christian" commentary on Wednesday night's All Things Considered newscast – and that voice is conveniently trashing conservatives. Fresh from his last NPR commentary dancing on Jerry Falwell’s grave, turncoat former Bush aide David Kuo went at it again. Exploiting CNN’s biased decision to air a special with the leftist magazine Sojourners giving the Democrats an hour to proclaim their faith, Kuo declared that partisan lines are blurring on religion, that Democrats are conducting a "Jesus fair" and Republicans have "no compassion for anyone."
Last night in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidates were long on conservatism and short on compassion. On immigration, on Iraq, on virtually every issue, the consensus was that America hasn't been tough enough. No compassion for anyone — particularly those 12 million Americans who got here illegally.
Geoff Dickens noted that last weekend's CNBC's Tim Russert show featured NBC diplomatic correspondent Andrea Mitchell being anything but diplomatic in asserting that the Republican base is eagerly in favor of torture, and that conservative answers are not "thoughtful" answers. David Gregory said the Republicans will have to come around and propose a plan to withdraw from Iraq, to which Mitchell replied:
But you saw the way they responded to the hard questions about torture in the Republican debate in South Carolina. They came up with easy -- and hard-to-defend in a general election campaign -- answers. They just played to the base. They played to, 'Let's torture 'em! Let's-' I mean, they, they didn't say that literally, but that was the subliminal message, and also, 'Let's, you know, expand, double the size of Guantanamo,' said, said Mitt Romney. I mean they are absolutely not giving thoughtful answers, as you would suggest, on those tough questions.
The new books by liberal-media stars investigating Hillary Clinton are already drawing the annoying accusation from the Clintonistas that they’re sexist, and then their media supporters are backing them up on the charge. The liberal media attacks their own. On last weekend’s chat shows, the trend was apparent. On The Chris Matthews Show, Chris adopted a confessional I-may-be-a-pig tone with Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this year’s (liberal) winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary:
MATTHEWS: Cynthia, the question, I think, somewhere in the middle of this--and this may be sexist, I don't deny it--but is the charge that she's calculating, that they're calculating together, a little too much planning, this two presidency following two presidencies, this 20-year plan, so-called, does this hurt?
TUCKER: I don't think it hurts with those people who would support Senator Hillary Clinton for president. They're--she's a very divisive figure. There are already a lot of Americans who would never vote for Senator Clinton, with or without a book being written, or books being written which rehash all the old assumptions about her.
Having said that, let me also point out that it is sexist to charge a woman with being ambitious.
National Public Radio’s weekend show "On The Media" is often a liberal oasis inside of a liberal oasis. Last weekend, NPR host Brooke Gladstone invited on Paul Waldman of that Hillary Clinton-cloned media pressure group, who wrote a study claiming the religious left was underrepresented on TV. (It might be because you often can’t really tell the difference between the "religious" left and the secular left. Both want socialism, abortion on demand, forced gay acceptance, the banning of the SUV, and the restoration of the 90-percent top tax bracket. But just one half says Jesus wouldn't drive an SUV.)
Gladstone’s other guest was Jeff Sharlet, a leftist blogger at a media-and-religion site called The Revealer. (It's the counterpoint to Get Religion, in other words.) At the segment’s end, Gladstone uncorked a new motto jokingly: "We really span the spectrum here from sort of left to very left."
When covering religion, the news media has a tendency to grant the Roman Catholic Church the lion’s share of religion coverage – in part due to its size, and in part due to its centralized authority in Rome. Protestant denominations, even the evangelical Protestant mega-pastors, are covered less each year. Unfortunately, that centralized authority also leads to media caricatures of tyranny (remember New York Times editor nastily Bill Keller comparing the Vatican to the Kremlin, the Polish Pope to the Soviet autocrats?)
Time’s David Van Biema and Katherine Mayer crack a little too wise in this week’s story on Anglicanism (their cover story in the Europe and the South Pacific editions), noting not only "Roman-style lockstep," but a "useful Catholic authoritarianism." This has a very obvious whiff of politics, comparing Pope Benedict to a tinhorn dictator like a Francisco Franco or a Juan Peron. The pontiff is not a dictator, and no one is forced to join a Catholic church or forced to obey its moral dogmas.
A tipster reports that the New York Daily News has a style guide on its internal computer system with a very typical liberal-media template for its reporters on how to handle abortion labeling:
Guidelines regarding stories and headlines on abortion:
1. Call those who oppose abortions abortion foes or abortion opponents or (in tight-count heads) abort foes. Avoid the phrases pro-life or pro-lifers, except in direct quotations.
2. Those who favor a woman's right to an abortion are abortion rights activists or pro-abortion rights or pro-choice. Avoid pro-abortion.
3. Also avoid the phrase "when the life of the mother is at stake." Make it "... life of the woman ..." Don't call the fetus an unborn child, and don't refer to the unborn in headlines.
4. You can use abortion clinic or abort clinic in tight-count headlines.
In an almost surreal but sympathetic account of radical leftist protesters of the Group of Eight Summit in Germany, Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock is forwarding the protester’s outrage of the moment: German police have taken "scent samples" of protest organizers for police dogs to locate them in a crowd. For those of you who suspect protesters are easily smelled at 50 feet, Whitlock explained:
The German government has spared no expense -- spending upward of $100 million -- to safeguard this week's summit, which brings together leaders of the industrial countries known as the Group of Eight. German authorities have taken an offensive-minded approach, using a variety of tactics that critics say conjure bad memories of the country's totalitarian past.
Carl Bernstein's new biography of Hillary Clinton has been attacked for being too "nasty" (according to Barbara Walters), but in an interview in the second half-hour of Tuesday's Early Show, he sounded more like a Hillary supporter, defending her "great love affair" with Bill and describing his book as the first whole portrait of "this epic life, this great American life," the story of "a huge persona." Early Show host Harry Smith had no interest in Hillary's role in policy-making, focusing Bernstein only on the messy Clinton marriage and why she stayed with the president.
Smith began: "The top three Democratic presidential candidates met last night at a forum on religion, a very familiar subject to Senator Hillary Clinton. Faith has always been a huge part of her life."
On Tuesday's edition of The View on ABC, comedienne Kathy Griffin really seemed to be auditioning for the Rosie O'Donnell Chair in Conservative-Bashing. ABC's Barbara Walters began by deploring how two new Hillary biographies are "both nasty," spurring Griffin to accuse the authors of "good, old-fashioned, garden variety sexism." She also accused men of "taking down" vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, growled about "women eating their own" over an anti-Hillary letter in Newsweek, and said Condoleezza Rice is "not a pro-woman woman" because she "follows everything white men say....Any African American woman who is a Republican does not understand that she's not a part of their agenda. Wake up!" Walters told Griffin she was "so bigoted." Joy Behar cracked that Margaret Thatcher was a "woman with a penis." Only token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck insisted that Hillary ought to endure scrutiny like any other presidential candidate.
On NPR’s new talk show "Tell Me More," Michel Martin brought her sympathies to the cause of Cindy Sheehan and her "devastating conclusion" to withdraw from the public arena (Martin made no mention on the air of her disgust with the Democratic Party). She interviewed three other "anti-war" mothers of soldiers who died in Iraq, and asked if they were disappointed by Sheehan’s decision and how conservatives have made their lives difficult: "Cindy Sheehan reports that she's paid a very high price for her activism. She said her life has been threatened. She's been called, you know, many, many derogatory names, you know, some of which I can't really repeat here. I'd like to know have you felt that you've paid a price for your activism?" Martin made no mention of the many derogatory names Sheehan used for President Bush (an "evil maniac," the "biggest terrorist") or his cause ("the cancer of Pax Americana.")
The conversation even turned to American racism, with Martin asserting "we know that minorities are disproportionately represented in the military, particularly in the Army. And yet, many of the people we've seen be most publicly active in opposing the war have not generally included minorities, and you are among the few." Mother Elaine Johnson complained that the media might be racist for focusing on Sheehan and not on her.