Did Hillary’s misty talk of how much she loved America and wanted to reverse the Bush administration help her win in New Hampshire? NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesday night went looking for women voters who were moved. Co-anchor Melissa Block interviewed three Hillary voters in Manchester: "Do you think that the polls underestimated women here?" One said: "I think they really, really did.
Newsweek columnist and pundit Jonathan Alter managed to double-embarrass himself on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. He should win the award for Most Embarrassed Pundit. Appearing on Monday night's Charlie Rose show on PBS (video at CharlieRose.com), Alter repeatedly threw dirt on Hillary's political grave, suggesting she would never become president and would have to settle for becoming "one of the great all-time senators." But he also suggested she had no "subtextual sexual energy" that brings "electricity on the rope line." He said all the presidential sex appeal was on the male side:
I think, and this is a controversial thing to say, but I think one of problems we`re learning with being a woman candidate in this country is that it`s hard to create that electricity on the rope line. It`s really only in France, maybe, where you can use sex appeal if you are a woman. In the United States, it`s men. It`s Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bobby Kennedy who went -- you see them on the rope line. There`s something sexual going on there with the voters.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews didn’t just uncork his line on Primary Night about how New Hampshire Democrats would have displayed their racism to pollsters if they heard an "Archie Bunker voice" on the other end of the line. He repeated it on Wednesday’s "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC. He was upset at anyone who thought the pollsters and pundits were wrong about the Obama victory, when white voters lied to pollsters: "Methinks Paleface speak with forked tongue."
Matthews declared he thought this was over in 2006: "I thought white voters had stopped being what they want to be. And you know what it tells me? People aren't proud of who they are." Host Joe Scarborough, asking Matthews to address the alleged bigotry in New England, drew out Matthews, the former top aide to Boston-area Rep. Tip O’Neill, to denounce the whole Boston area: "There's different kinds of prejudice, as you know, in the north than there is in the south, but it exists. It may not be ‘I think I'm better than you,’ but it might be ‘I don't want to live next door to you.’"
On a Wednesday blog entry on The Daily Nightly, NBC anchor Brian Williams candidly admitted the media screwed up in expecting a massive Obama wave, but then said "virtually everyone got it wrong." He also said "Give us a few weeks – we will promptly forget the lessons of this debacle in polling, predictions and primary politics" and "live to screw up another day."
But then, Williams went back to swooning over the historic moments of Obama touching voters in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and his "beautiful, soaring concession speech." He even defended Obama for thinking he was going to win big: "A colleague of mine contends Obama got caught up in the history he was making. I don't think that's quite fair. The candidate didn't change his message as much as Iowa changed the way we heard it. That day, I saw people embrace Obama the way people embrace loved ones returning from foreign battlefields."
Doesn’t Williams see that once again, he’s only underlining his utter lack of objectivity and identifying himself as Swooner-in-Chief? (Another sign he doesn’t care about the appearance of objectivity: he allows this swoon to be cross-posted for the trendy Left at The Huffington Post). It seems more plausible that he wants fellow liberals to know that he is one of them and yes, he, too, is caught up in the magic.
On his blog The Daily Nightly, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took offense at "spinning" about his Obama-swooning patter on MSNBC about how reporter Lee Cowan admitted they've found it hard to remain objective about the Obama phenomenon. NBC, biased? Williams said "rival political efforts" (the Clintons?) charged him with bias and that's "just ridiculous." The anchor demanded viewers look at NBC against and judge the "quality and fairness of our journalism." But isn't that a little like Gary Hart challenging reporters to look for Donna Rice? Exhibits of Cowan's liberal bias on the campaign (not to mention NBC's) have been posted here at NB. From the anchor's blog:
Lee admits "...it's almost hard to remain objective..." which as he implies is our goal in our work every day. He's referring to what all of us who have covered campaigns have felt from time to time: it's impossible to get the long view...the view from 40,000 feet...while operating at sea level, and inside the bubble.
Lee was talking about the swirl of excitement that has hit the Obama campaign after Iowa -- the crowds, the hoopla -- all of it. Today we learned that rival political efforts were spinning this as some kind of "bias" on the part of either Lee, or me, or this News Division, and that's just ridiculous. My response is as it always is in these situations: look at it again, listen to what's being said, and judge us by the quality and fairness of our journalism.
On NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered on Tuesday night, anchor Melissa Block talked to primary voters in Milford, New Hampshire, and the liberal ones were very expressive. One touted Hillary as "Mother Earth...a mother to take care of the country," and another broke down into tears at the similarities in the hopes inspired by Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy. She began with Steven Shaheen, making no effort to confirm or deny whether he was related to former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen:
STEVEN SHAHEEN: I just feel the country needs a woman to run this country. I think it needs like a Mother Earth. It needs a mother to take care of the country.
BLOCK, struck by the analogy: Mother Earth.
SHAHEEN: That’s how I feel, I mean, personally. She struck me as the person with more experience, she seems, you know, with a lot of intelligence, a lot of education, and it's a gut feeling inside — can't really put words to that.
I was especially fascinated when Thomas wrote wistfully of the golden days when America had an "old order – a large, more politically moderate voting public...In 1970, at about 6:30 pm at least two or three nights a week, about half the country could be found watching the evening news on one of the three major networks. The broadcasts tended to be fairly sober-minded, on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand presentations by trusted anchors like Walter Cronkite."
It’s understandable that media elitists would mourn for the Nixon era, when conservatism was still a small remnant and most Republican office holders were almost as liberal as the Democrats. But the idea that there were no hyperbolic divisiveness or harsh rhetoric, with the Vietnam War raging and the radical left on the march, is just bizarre. It’s even more bizarre to claim that biased liberal anchormen like Walter Cronkite, lobbying LBJ to get out of Vietnam, were fair and balanced in their presentation.
Apparently, Gen. David Petraeus wasn’t Time magazine’s man of the year, and Newsweek is much less impressed. They proclaim "It’s far too early to declare Gen. David Petraeus, 55, the general who tamed Baghdad." Their new interview by Larry Kaplow and Bebak Dehghanpisheh (try saying that three times fast) began like this:
NEWSWEEK: How did the Anbar Awakening movement [of Sunni sheiks allying with U.S. troops] start? How much of that was planned, and how much was luck?
The fellows at Newsweek weren’t just being impertinent. They were reflecting some Petreaeus adviser who eagerly said "yes" to that question.
Hillary Clinton secured interviews on all three network morning shows on Monday, but as CBS’s Harry Smith emphasized the New York Post "PANIC" headline and NBC’s Matt Lauer wondered if Hillary thought the voters were being charmed (but weren't doing their homework) about Obama, ABC gave her the softest interview of the day – with her former employee George Stephanopoulos. Which shameless producer makes the decision to let them play Patty-Cake?
ABC obviously presumes everyone knows of their previous professional relationship, since it was not disclosed. Stephanopoulos began: "She has taken charge of her campaign, Diane, running her war room out of her hotel suite, giving orders and I begin my interview by asking her what those orders are."
Pardon the viewer for hearing: "I begin my interview by asking her what my orders are."
Over at The Huffington Post, blogger Dana Kennedy -- a former entertainment reporter for ABC, Fox News, and MSNBC -- asks a common question: "What if Bill Secretly Wants Hillary to Lose?" She claims she's been rooting for Hillary to win, but sadly, Bill is the star and Hillary is the "brainy plain Jane" who's been wronged by Bill's lack of discipline:
People hate Hillary so much that it's easy to chalk up their marriage as a codependence-fest. Certainly nobody was a bigger enabler than Hillary. I always hoped it wasn't proof she wasn't a total chump, but because she saw the big picture: herself as president.
But I have a vivid memory of a 15-minute interview I had with Hillary when I was covering her for the AP during the 1992 Democratic Convention in New York.
We were alone together in the back of a van going to the next stop. My impression of her was tough, brittle, super-smart. At the very end of my interview, I asked her about Gennifer Flowers, since that was the Clinton scandal du jour in 1992.
In her Sunday column, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell addressed how the Post reporters and editors respond to complaints about their work on the website and in E-mail. Most Posties she talked to tried to sound receptive to public criticism. But not Darryl Fears, who wants "intolerant" and "ignorant" comments scrubbed off the website:
Web site comments can be more than ugly and are often aimed at private citizens quoted in stories. National reporter Darryl Fears would stop them. "Comments attached to stories about race, ethnicity and related issues such as immigration often reek of racism, intolerance and ignorance. To ignore them, in my opinion, is to endorse them."
Neither Fears nor Howell provide actual examples of what an "ignorant" comment is. The article also leaves the reader confused as to whether Fears the Censor would scrub comments about private citizens, or prevent all comments on stories about race and ethnicity.
(Updated with Monday's Post treatment and a Post warning I missed)
It's quite routine for Sunday newspaper inserts to be published weeks in advance. But what happens when they become outdated? Wouldn't they throw them out and start over? Apparently not. This is the cover of Parade magazine, included in today's Washington Post:
Is Benazir Bhutto America's best hope against al-Qaeda?
'I Am What The Terrorists Most Fear'
An Interview from Pakistan by Gail Sheehy
This interview would still be newsworthy...if Parade (or its newspaper clients like the Post) would merely acknowledge that a death had occurred. But no. Turn inside and the headline is:
As Benazir Bhutto seeks a return to power, Tuesday's election in Pakistan could profoundly affect the fight against terrorism.
'A Wrong Must Be Righted' by Gail Sheehy
The text boxes in the piece add:
Is she America's best hope in the region?
'She will work with anyone to get back into power,' says her own niece
The Hillary-lovers continue to attack our book "Whitewash" as full of lies. On his website ConWebWatch, Terry Krepel claims the book "ignores context and exculpatory evidence." His article is headlined "Brent Bozell’s Blackwash." His liberal take is quickly advertised when he attacks the concept of interviewing leading conservatives for the book, from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity to Laura Ingraham to Mark Levin: "The problem with such an approach is that very few of these people -- Bozell and Graham included -- have no real interest in ‘the truth’ about the Clintons; they only want to attack and will forward any claim, accurate or not, to achieve that goal."
That broad-brush allegation is a weird place to begin if you want to establish your own bona fides as disinterested or non-ideological. But Terry Krepel’s not disinterested. He’s a senior editor at Media Matters for America, which was started at the urging of Hillary Clinton. They originally pledged it would be a liberal version of the Media Research Center.
Public radio is a left-wing preserve, but some corners of public radio are so far to the left that they treat liberals as gangsters and monsters. A brief listen to Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Thursday brought me to a segment on the presidential candidates, and how they're all, from left to right, compromised by their warmongering national-security experts. Radical journalist Allan Nairn attacked Mike Huckabee, for example, for failing to treat Bill Clinton as a war criminal:
On the PBS talk show "Charlie Rose" Thursday night, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham declared that Hillary Clinton was right that it was a "great night for Democrats" and a bad night for Republicans. He scoured Mike Huckabee as an embarrassment: "Do you really want to see if a Southern Baptist minister who took two days to find out about the National Intelligence Estimate about Iran is going to be your standard bearer in a world at war?" He also declared it was "a rather odd thing for the Republicans of Iowa" to "say to the world that the strongest possible president is a Governor of Arkansas who does not have a great deal or any real foreign policy experience." Meacham seemed to have no sense of irony that the same words were easily spoken of Bill Clinton in 1992, and Rose didn’t call him on it, even though they joked "how many presidents does Hope, Arkansas get in one lifetime?"
Meacham also never thought it was odd that the Democrats of Iowa said to the world that the strongest possible president is a man with three years experience in the U.S. Senate who said (a) that he would meet with America-hating dictators and strongmen like Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez without preconditions and (b) then wildly swung back to suggesting he would bomb inside Pakistan to strike al-Qaeda. Meacham, who honored McCain’s courage for supporting the surge in Iraq, never mentioned Obama thought it was a mistake. When it came to the Democrats, Meacham sounded like he was offering a toast:
Conservative Iowans who voted for Mike Huckabee on Thursday night may have been casting a vote for social conservatism, but media liberals cheered the victory as proof that Reaganism is dying in the Grand Old Party. In his live washingtonpost.com Web chat at 10 pm on Thursday night, Washington Post associate editor Robert G. Kaiser (formerly the Post’s managing editor, the second-in-command) declared with some joy that the Reagan coalition is "fracturing" due to the Huckabee win. But Kaiser also mocked Huckabee as unelectable. "Are we going to elect a president who dismisses Darwin? Are we going to elect a Baptist minister? I doubt it." He predicted fiscal conservatives and national-defense conservatives would vote Democratic or stay home instead.
Before he took any questions, Kaiser made this opening statement:
The talk-radio host known simply as "Lionel" joined the Air America team in May, and he has demonstrated he belongs on the exotic fringe with the rest of the network. Most people don’t take sides when a zoo tiger mauls a teenager to death. "Lionel" favored the tiger. His blog declared: "If you shoot a tiger with a sling-shot, you deserve to get mauled. That’s just how it works." The New York Post reported several teenagers that were victimized by the tiger had slingshots, but that has not been confirmed by San Francisco zoo officials. On his show Wednesday, "Lionel" was even more explicit:
Call me wacky, but hurray for the tiger that killed the kid who was...taunting him. Now, I know this is not right...but let's hear it for the wild...I loathe zoos. I'm still cheering the fact that some stingray whacked that Aussie pain-in-the-ass Steve Irwin.
Americans catching the U.S. election coverage on BBC/World on Wednesday night found a typical dose of leftish European bias. While Katty Kay reported the Republicans were dismayed by a supposed teenage "dating game" of disappointment with candidates like Romney and Huckabee, Matt Frei had a warmer take on Hillary Clinton: "Her stump speech sounds as soothing as a bedtime story and her big selling point, experience." Hillary even claimed a role in the Irish peace process during Bill’s presidency.
MRC’s Michelle Humphrey found and transcribed these snippets of Brit bias:
MATT FREI, BBC: Hillary Clinton's people chose a Methodist church in Indianola for one of her last campaign events here. At this late, desperate stage in the Iowa campaign, every bit helps including a sprinkling of Hollywood star dust, hence the appearance on stage of actress Mary Steenburgen and her husband Ted Danson. Then its time for the real star. Daughter and mother in tow. Is Chelsea learning the family business, one wonders?
HILLARY CLINTON: Long before I was ever followed around by all these cameras.
NBC’s Today interviewers showed a dramatic contrast in interviewing presidential contenders on Thursday morning. Meredith Vieira interviewed Barack Obama with supportive questions about his voice and mildly challenging horse-race inquiries about how he would finish. "And yet some people say despite all the energy, you are short on specifics and that all that energy may not translate into people going to the caucuses." But David Gregory aggressively pressed Mitt Romney about being mean: "If you win here in Iowa and in New Hampshire you will have done so by going negative. Is that the tenor of a campaign that Americans can expect from you if you're the nominee?" He also quoted alleged conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, who sneered in print against Romney: "In turning himself into an old-fashioned, orthodox Republican, he has made himself unelectable in the fall."
MRC's Geoff Dickens found that around 7:10 am, Vieira asked these questions to Sen. Obama:
Over at City Journal, writer Harry Stein underlined just how infuriated liberals are that the New York Times has hired William Kristol as a columnist. "For conservatives, long accustomed to self-serving liberal pieties about tolerance, the orgy of outrage at having to face an alien point of view was wonderful to behold...Here is just a tiny, tiny sample of the reaction on the Huffington Post to the announcement that William Kristol will be writing a weekly column in the New York Times:
– "William ‘the Bloody’ Kristol is a beady eyed warmonger."
– "Worthless suck up Kristol should be cleaning toilets in public restrooms for his GOP ‘friends.’"
Liberalism is dominant in the Democratic Party, the "progressive wing" and the "Net roots" are triumphant. But in confirming that fact with a Dan Balz "news analysis," The Washington Post used headlines on Thursday morning's front page that beat around the bush (or Bush). On page one, it was "Choosing a Candidate, and More: For Democrats, Party’s Tone and Image at Stake." Inside the A section, the headline after the jump was also vague: "Democrats Also Choose a Style of Leadership." The lede is clear, buried inside in paragraph seven:
Two Democrats who do not always see eye to eye on issues agree that there is substantial unity in the party on the big questions.
"The big arguments of the last years have been won by progressives, partly in response to the populist outrage against Bush," said Robert L. Borosage, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future.
The nation’s news media were hardly phased by MTV’s bisexual Tila Tequila dating series. Now London’s Daily Mail reports that America’s celebrity "reality" show sweepstakes may include a new out-and-proud gay series – starring Cher and her lesbian daughter, Chastity Bono. The show, currently pitched as "Coming Out with Cher and Chas," would feature the former TV stars helping gays "come out" to their parents on television.
It does not have the ring of a sure-fire ratings hit, but the couple have said the series could be as big as The Osbournes (which might explain Cher's apparent metamorphosis into the Black Sabbath frontman).
Last night a U.S. source said: "Cher and Chas believe they are on to a winner and have been setting up meetings with the major networks."
The leftist Fox News Channel-monitoring bloggers at News Hounds are quite sensitive about how fiercely the Democrats are questioned. On Wednesday, "Donna" was thrilled at how well former DNC chairman and Hillary campaign operative Terry McAuliffe did on Fox & Friends. (Well, she kept calling him "McCauliffe.") He was a spin-control role model, apparently. But FNC’s Gretchen Carlson was reportedly throwing McAuliffe digs and disses. Notice there are no transcripts as she claims:
Gretchen tried to steer the conversation to how close it was in Iowa between Sen Obama and Sen Clinton. McCauliffe didn't engage and talked about the how well the campaign was going.
Gretchen got a dig in about Sen Clinton having babysitters, buses and snow shovels given out to help people to get out to vote. McCauliffe [sic] turned the diss around and said that they just wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to caucus got a chance to caucus. He said this is the most important election for many many years and they wanted everyone who wanted to caucus to be able to do so.
If Hillary Clinton’s trying to warm up her image in the last days before the first presidential vote, NBC’s Meredith Vieira threw another log on the fire, vouching strongly for her personal warmth on Wednesday’s edition of Today. "Her every word and move is caught on tape and while her critics assail Clinton as overly calculating, up close the Senator and former First Lady is natural, confident and warm," reported Vieira as she followed Hillary on the trail in Iowa.
After her report was over, Vieira underlined that private-warmth line to co-anchor Matt Lauer: "she's excellent, one-on-one with people. You know she has the image of being very cold and calculating but she's great one-on-one. I actually took my son Ben, who's a freshman in college, and wants to be president. He told her that and they sat and talked for the longest time and it was very genuine. I think she relates a lot to young people."
Secularized networks keep making mountains out of Christian-symbol molehills on the campaign trail. At CNN.com on Monday, reporter Rebecca Sinderbrand highlighted how a new Mike Huckabee ad has a Christian ichthys or fish symbol in it, on a banner for the Iowa Christian Alliance: "For the second time in two weeks, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has aired a commercial in which a Christian symbol appears in the background." The ad script itself talks about defending "our values" and the worth of the unborn, but mentioned religion (rights endowed by "our creator") only in passing.
On Tuesday's edition of The Situation Room, CNN reporter Mary Snow implied incorrectly that the Iowa Christian Alliance was "backing" Huckabee when it's made no endorsement. An ICA officer had to apologize for making positive comments about Mitt Romney that sounded like an endorsement. Here's what Snow reported:
The Washington Post can't find a liberal label anywhere (merely the word "activist") to describe the boutique-left agenda of the Arlington (Virginia) County Board. They're "Targeting Smoking, Trans Fats, and Cars," says the Post headline on Kirstin Downey's story. How anti-car are they?
Board member Jay Fisette (D) will lead Arlington's effort to promote what Tejada called a "car-free diet." Fisette displayed a T-shirt with the slogan, "I lost 2,000 pounds in one day," and referred people to a county Web site, http://www.carfreediet.com, which calculates how much money people could save by getting rid of their car and how much weight they could lose.
Fisette also plans to promote a regional bike-sharing program, as some European cities have done.
Car-free diet? Who's proposed eating a car?
Fisette is usually celebrated by Post reporters for being openly gay.
Out of kindness to his Washington Post colleague, Howard Kurtz dedicated a second segment of CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday to the Post's Dana Milbank to plug his new book, Homo Politicus. While Milbank wrote that the media's split into liberal media and conservative media, Kurtz objected that CBS or the New York Times would be considered liberal or favorable to Democrats, that it's unfair to compare conservative editorial pages or opinion journals with "mainstream" media like CBS.
Later, Kurtz wondered: "Aren't 99 percent of Washington journalists hard-working folks who aren't whack jobs or cheerleaders for one side or the other?" Milbank wasn't jumping on that bandwagon, so Kurtz followed up: "More than a majority?" From the CNN transcript:
KURTZ: There are all kinds of strange characters in Washington. And one columnist seems drawn to them like a magnet. Dana Milbank writes about the city's tribal ways in his book "Homo Politicus," and the fact that he waited around to rejoin us shows us why three-quarters responding to a poll on Wonkette.com described him as a publicity whore.
It simply does not matter how many times Hillary Clinton gets tea and sugar cubes from Cynthia McFadden on ABC, or supportive see-her-website publicity from CNN’s Candy Crowley, or how many reporters are cued to ask her what makes her tear up – someone’s still going to claim improbably that Hillary is despised and savaged by the media. On CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, all the sugary reports were ignored as Washington Post reporter-slash-columnist Dana Milbank proclaimed "The press will savage her no matter what, pretty much...they really have their knives out for her."
Some journalists are so confident that we're already cooked by global warming that they're scolding ignorant Americans in advance for all the now-unpreventable doom that's coming our way. Newsweek's Sharon Begley rings in the new year by shaking her head at the Stupid, Soon to Be Overheated Majority and how we'll have to adapt to being cooked:
As scientists and policy types figure out what changes will be necessary to cope with global warming, it's obvious that massive sea walls will be required to hold back rising oceans, that enormous new reservoirs will be needed to cope with the alternating droughts and deluges that many regions will suffer and that a crash program to develop heat- and drought-resistant crops would be a good idea if people are to keep eating....
In his review of television for the year 2007, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales bitterly recounted Fox's allegedly political censorship of actress Sally Field at the Emmy Awards, when she said if mothers ran the world, there would be no "goddamned wars." Shales complained that the lack of profanity "befouled" the airwaves:
The Emmy Awards were marred by a dark and perhaps portentous moment that also involved an unexpected -- and in this case, totally unwarranted -- silence. Sally Field was accepting a prize and talking about mothers and war when suddenly the Fox censor chose to delete some of her words before they could go out to America on the time-delayed telecast. Fox used the absurd FCC crackdown on "obscenity" as its excuse, but the action smacked of political censorship and seriously befouled the American airwaves.