One of the more interesting emerging stories in the world of American philanthropy is the dramatic growth of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spurred this week by a massive donation by investor Warren Buffett. But MRC intern Chadd Clark found that on Monday's early edition of The Situation Room, CNN's Jeff Greenfield didn't see this as an occasion for lauding charity, but an occasion for chiding the wealthy for having too much, that there's too much income inequality. Greenfield even pushed the socialist notion that private charity shouldn't be relied on when the people should rely on the public sector:
It is real gee-whiz news when the second richest man in the world decides to give away the bulk of his fortune, most of it to a foundation run by the richest man in the world. But there is a bigger story here. It's about the massive accumulation of private wealth, the shift toward a less equal America, and the potential of what that wealth might do about it. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates made it official today. Some $30 billion of Buffett's fortune will be transferred to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which already has more money than any foundation in America....
The folks at the Senate Environment and Public Works committee (GOP side) did quite a job Tuesday on an Associated Press report on positive scientific reception of Al Gore's slide-show film "An Inconvenient Truth." Now, the AP's media relations director, Linda Wagner, has filed a response.
The AP’s methodology was simple, straightforward and clean: We contacted more than 100 of the nation’s top climate researchers, including those who have been vocal skeptics of climate change theory. But we quoted only climate scientists who had actually viewed the documentary or read the book upon which it was based. As we learned in the course of our reporting – and as our story noted – most scientists have not seen the movie or read the book. And those who had seen it or read it were generally positive toward Gore’s scientific presentation.
The Senate Committee Majority’s press release was headlined "AP INCORRECTLY CLAIMS SCIENTISTS PRAISE GORE’S MOVIE." That headline is wrong: The story was completely accurate and met AP’s high standards in every way.
The AP story reported facts. It did not take a position in a debate, whether political or scientific, about global warming.
Associated Press TV reporter Lynn Elber profiled CNN commentator Jack Cafferty on Wednesday, and when she asked him about his sense of personal responsibility -- we're not shown the question, but I'm sensing he was asked about popping off without thinking it through -- "Cafferty, his memory triggered, segues directly into recounting the newscast in which he got a jump on then U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's legal woes."
Said Cafferty: "I thought (anchor) Wolf Blitzer was going to eat his script when I asked if Tom DeLay had been indicted yet, because he hadn't been," Cafferty recalled, adding: "If he hadn't been indicted he probably should have and I hope he goes to prison and sits there for the rest of his life. He's a jerk." Elber then noted: There he goes again, spouting off with the kind of stuff that gets him pilloried on Web sites such as NewsBusters ("Exposing and Combatting Liberal Media Bias.") As in here, or the full Cafferty menu here.
MRC's Geoff Dickens reports that MSNBC's "Hardball" on Tuesday also pushed the line that Bush was pandering to conservatives with media criticism. After claiming, like a liberal talking-point machine, that unnamed "national security experts" disagree with the president that the New York Times has harmed national security, since the Bush people announced vaguely in public that they would monitor terrorist finances, reporter David Shuster picked up on the Ed Henry echo:
Shuster: "Political analysts believe the Bush administration’s latest war with the media is motivated in part by the coming midterm elections."
Political analyst Charlie Cook: "They’ve got to motivate their base and conservatives, Republicans tend to distrust the media, so any time you can play off and use the media as a foil, it’s probably a good thing."
The liberal media party-line has hardened on the breathtaking arrogance of the New York Times, the self-appointed spoilers of secrecy. The White House is apparently insincere in its criticism -- it's merely pandering to the right-wing base.
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro found CNN reporter Ed Henry charging up Capitol Hill with this spin on Tuesday night's "Anderson Cooper 360," that the Times was being hounded for political gain. "Republicans stepped up their barrage on the New York Times for publishing details of a once-secret program tracking the banking transactions of terrorists." After a quote from Sen. Pat Roberts charging the Times should look in the mirror of blame for the next terror attack, Henry continued:
"From the president on down, Republicans have been reading from the same script."
Yesterday, Dennis Persica of the New Orleans Times-Picayune claimed conservatives couldn't care less if journalists were gunned down. He's now posted his thoughts again (modified) at the liberal site TomPaine.com. This time, he links to a T-shirt advocating the lynching of journalists. And then I found this blog post from the same people joking about hanging people at the New York Times, giving them their "just desserts."
That is just revolting and wrong, and those people do not speak for me. Yesterday I called Persica "unhinged." Today, someone's giving him a hinge.
Howard Kurtz takes his online lamentations of criticism of the breathtaking arrogance of the New York Times into the paper today. The headline is "Piling On the New York Times With a Scoop." From there, you can see Problem Numero Uno. Kurtz, like other media people with blinders on, pretends that the Times is merely an honest broker of information that is "piled on," but can never "pile on" the White House or other conservative targets. If Kurtz wrote about the Times "piling on" Bush again, wouldn't it look tilted? It certainly looks like the media circling the wagons for media buddies on this story.
"Even by modern standards of media-bashing, the volume of vitriol being heaped upon on the editors on Manhattan's West 43rd Street is remarkable," Kurtz writes. But the wildest quote Kurtz runs is Tammy Bruce comparing the Times to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Bush and Cheney were stern, but hardly unsparing.
Washington Post defense reporter Thomas Ricks is one of several Post reporters with Iraq books hitting the market. But the title of his book, coming out in July, sticks out. It's Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. I wonder if Post readers might not think in the day-to-day reporting on Iraq that Ricks is going to display a pronounced bad-news bias. The book description on Amazon suggests "caustic" is a word that fits this book's tone:
The definitive military chronicle of the Iraq war and a searing judgment on the strategic blindness with which America has conducted it, drawing on the accounts of senior military officers giving voice to their anger for the first time.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared on FNC's "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday morning to address the "breathtaking arrogance" of the New York Times deciding what national-security secrets should be divulged. Brent loved John Snow's letter noting that arrogance, and suggested that the Times didn't show a "left-wing agenda" on this story, but a "far-left-wing agenda." See our posted video and handy Times Watch links here. Here's a transcript:
Co-host E.D. Hill: “Our next guest says the New York Times is guilty of treason. Treason, for publishing that piece on that secret government program that tracks terrorist finances.”
In the letters section of the Poynter Institute's Romenesko media-news site, a man named Dennis Persica, a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune (most recent news dispatch here), wrote that with the anti-press animus of conservatives right now, it's possible that the New York Times could face a break-in by the U.S. Attorney's office. But the speculation grew much wilder, against Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin and their fans:
You can count on the Limbaughs and Malkins of the world to defend the move. Just look at these posters on Malkin's website. There is a significant portion of their fanbase who couldn't care less if every journalist in the country was simply jailed or gunned down. (Remember Ann Coulter's comments about the New York Times building?) Even supposedly saner voices, like Bill Bennett and Rep. Peter King, have joined in the chorus.
NRO Media Blog has passed along a column at Townhall.com by author and military expert W. Thomas Smith Jr. that describes an interview with an ABC News reporter who's overwhelmed with anti-war fervor:
So I receive a phone call from a reporter at ABC News. They are working on a story about Haditha, and the reporter’s comments to me go something along the lines of; “I am particularly interested in your recent pieces on Haditha in which you say that in order to understand what happened, we must first understand the men involved, the dynamics of the system in which they operate, and the realities of ground combat.”
The reporter’s referencing of my own comments are somewhat paraphrased, but his following questions are clearly etched in my mind verbatim:
On the roundtable of Sunday's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Newsweek columnist and Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria declared he was going to say "something controversial," that he favored amnesty for Iraqi insurgents. ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said she didn't see why that was controversial, just a required step. When Stephanopoulos suggested amnesty "makes sense," CNN anchor Lou Dobbs said the idea "sticks in my craw."
Zakaria knows the idea is "controversial" because it will rub the American public the wrong way, but also because the Democrats on television (like Sen. Durbin minutes earlier on "This Week") have made a strong pose against amnesty for insurgents. Here's how it unfolded, as the segment began:
National Review Online published an editorial today on the unfolding outrage over the New York Times deigning itself the country's Moderators-in-Chief -- we shall declare what the nation shall debate! -- and called for the government to take away their press credentials, their little badges of honor and access:
The president should match this morning’s tough talk with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.
Moreover, the Justice Department must be more aggressive than it has been in investigating national-security leaks. While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.
As part of their "Giving Back Awards" cover package this week, Newsweek honors what they call "Philanthropy's All-Star Team," a list of "no-brainers" for all the good they do in the world. Some choices are less political (Lance Armstrong, Oprah), but many are not: Paul Newman, Rosie O'Donnell, abortion-rights activist Bill Gates, embryo-destruction enthusiast Michael J. Fox, Ted Turner, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore. Wow. Al Gore? Getting on a philanthropy list is pretty nice work for the guy who reported giving $353 to charity on one annual tax return. Newsweek explained:
The folks below are, to be blunt, the no-brainers. In some cases, their very names have become synonymous with a cause. Lance Armstrong: cancer research. Al Gore: the environment. Oprah: free cars. (Actually, those famous wheels are just the tip of the "niceberg" for Winfrey.) They've used every asset they've got to spread the gospel of giving—their money, their brains, even their pretty faces. Let's return the favor by giving them a tip of the cap.
Here were some of the more notable stars, in their original alphabetical order:
Jimmy Carter Global Health
Nobel Peace Prize winner, widely admired ex-president, tireless disease-prevention worker. Latest crusade: ending river blindness in Africa. Not bad for a peanut farmer.
Newsweek's cover story this week is a new feature called their Giving Back Awards. Expecting a dose of unknown heroes, instead the magazine honors some famous faces, like Brad Pitt and CNN's Soledad O'Brien, honored for her passionate coverage of Hurricane Katrina. The headline called her "The Professional" and oozed in italics: "In a drowning city, who spoke out for those in despair? She did." But as he honored the CNN anchor, Newsweek's Jonathan Darman felt the need to insult every government rescue attempt:
Simple, human kindness—the kind you can teach a child—was embarrassingly absent in the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. As the country watched in horror as state and federal officials did little to help the stranded multitudes, television anchors, who so often act as though they're not of this world, for once understood the outrage. As the days wore on and the city continued to flounder, they articulated our astonishment at the vast incompetence we all witnessed.
I ran out of time Friday to post the other transcript MRC's Brian Boyd did on global warming on Friday's "Good Morning America." To set up Bill Weir's fawning interview with Al Gore, ABC brought in their resident global-warming panic salesman, Bill Blakemore, calling him the "resident expert."
So does Blakemore have a background in meteorology, or at least science in general? It doesn't look like it from his ABC biography. He's been a religion specialist, an education specialist, a war correspondent, and now he's a world-going-to-Hell specialist. As the bio suggests, "Blakemore coined the word 'spotcraft' to describe what he did for a living." That's not to say he doesn't have passion, as he's already acknowleged the "admittedly vain thrill" of being one of the first to be right on the approaching catastrophe. Here's the Friday story:
This is an oldie, but it says something interesting. For the June 6 paper, Los Angeles Times writer Scott Collins interviewed ABC's George Stephanopoulos on his show This Week rising in the ratings a bit. When you think network hosts (especially ones with campaign-flack backgrounds) see themselves as earnest referees and not players in politics, remember this:
Q: Do you miss politics?
GS:I'm in it every week!
Q: You know what I mean.
GS: No. I've been doing this a long time. I've been doing this for 10 years now — not as anchor, but I left the White House 10 years ago. I'm committed to doing this.
Monday night's hour of conversation between PBS anchor Jim Lehrer and long-time Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, titled "Free Speech," was a cozy liberal-media insider chat, but awfully dull -- dull enough to make you feel for journalism students that are going to be forced to watch it in class. Cozy snippet example number one is Lehrer asking Bradlee near the end: "One of the other cliches they say about folks like you and me, people who practice journalism is that, we pessimistic; that we're cynical. You don't buy that, do you?" Perish the thought.
Perhaps the frankest moment for Bradlee was admitting that the WashPost editors all bought the Janet Cooke eight-year-old-drug-addict story because she was black and went to neighborhoods they never visited:
I caught a snippet of an NPR game show in the car today, and even the game shows remind you that the liberals take the taxpayer money of conservatives and smear them with it. On the game show titled "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," a game show asking trivia questions about the news of the week, host Peter Sagal not only joked that Karl Rove ordered the killing of Rep. Jack Murtha, but that Rove's rear end is Dick Cheney's undisclosed location.
The show is a weekly co-production of Chicago Public Radio and NPR. About twenty-nine minutes into this weekend's show (just after NBC anchor Brian Williams was a guest guesser), host Peter Sagal turned back to the panel:
"Charlie, as you know, as the debate about the Iraq war goes on, it’s getting nastier. This week Representative Jack Murtha, who was the first to call for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, decided to make an issue out of Karl Rove’s what?"
In the closing minutes of MSNBC's "Hardball" on Thursday night, guest host Norah O'Donnell was wrapping up with anti-war liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and anti-war paleoconservative Pat Buchanan. (That should not qualify in any studio as a balanced left-right panel on the war.) MRC's Geoff Dickens noted that O'Donnell couldn't maintain much objectivity as they discussed conservative Sen. Rick Santorum and the new declassified document showing American forces have found 500 WMDs, sarin and mustard gas, in Iraq. Both columnists pounded Santorum -- and O'Donnell laughed at the liberal's gibes, repeatedly.
O'Donnell began the segment by playing a clip of Santorum speaking out:
"Now, that was the Senator Santorum on the Senate floor yesterday. Let me ask both of you, do you think, that if had we found weapons of mass destruction, that the White House would allow Senator Rick Santorum to announce that we’d found them?"
MRC's Geoff Dickens reports that on Thursday's edition of his Fox-syndicated show "Geraldo at Large," Geraldo Rivera editorialized against keeping terrorist suspects at Guantanamo: "And later, close it down, for God’s sake. Gitmo is a national embarrassment. We’ll take you inside the terror lock-down on Cuba."
Rivera used strange terms like "malignant desperation" and "successful suicides" to describe the situation on the ground, although Judge Andrew Napolitano noted that the prison is "immaculate" and the treatment of prisoners is "almost gentle." He was disturbed by the lack of charges against these suspects, but acknowledged it could be seen as an injustice to release these suspects "to re-attack the American soldiers they were once fighting against." Here's more of the transcript:
ABC's "Good Morning America" fired up the global-warming bandwagon again this morning with a very soft and friendly "exclusive" interview with Al Gore to boost the weekend box office numbers of Gore's slide-show documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
Substitute host Bill Weir assumed the entire catastrophe is under way, asking: is the impending disaster man-made? Is it irreversible? Do we need "extreme lifestyle change"? How can Gore explain that conservatives still show "lingering skepticism"? In addition to praising Gore for raising an "excellent point," Weir pleaded that he should ponder another presidential campaign: "can the planet be saved without the help of a president?" Weir concluded: "Your passion is evident every time you speak on this."
Page A-20, Friday's New York Times: "For Diehards, Search for Iraq's WMD Isn't Over."
Our headline about flower-power Pinch Sulzberger's New York Times: "For Diehards, Search for Endless Vietnam/My Lai Metaphors In Iraq Isn't Over."
The NYT's story today sounds like they think only quirky "hobbyists" and gung-ho goobers are still searching for WMD -- but they never suggest the august New York Times has the slightest interest in investigating this themselves. (So much for that "all the news that's fit to print" business, if you ever bought that line. Remember whgen they were hot on the trail of missing WMD? That would be the al-Qaqaa push in the last days of the 2004 campaign. You can peek at how Clay Waters worked the story on the story, starting on October 26, here. Brent Baker's Cyber Alert trail starts here.) All the news that fits the Kerry/Vietnam template is news.
MRC intern Chadd Clark reports that CNN's "American Morning" touched on the new declassified document suggesting there were 500 WMDs found in Iraq since last year -- touched on it quickly, and with complete disdain:
John Roberts: "As the Senate opened debate on U.S. troops in Iraq, two Republican lawmakers claim that weapons of mass destruction still pose a threat. They said troops have found aging stockpiles of chemical shells."
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.): "It is important for the American public to understand that these weapons did in fact exist, were present in the country, and were, in fact, and continue to be, a threat to us."
Here's a few tidbits from this week's news magazines.
1. Newsweek's predictably liberal "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box is clearly unhappy with the good-news-for-Bushies trend. Bush and Rove each get an up arrow. Each also get incredibly whiny blurbs. Bush: "Surprise Baghdad trip boosts troops' morale -- and his own. But he still had to sneak in, three years after invasion." Rove: "Being cleared in CIA leak probe clears his to go back to attacking Democrats as pansies. To the well once too often?"
Answer: No, not when you're pushing withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.
While I’m on the subject of MRC interns wanting to pluck their eyeballs out watching Al-Gorey screeds about our impending planetary doom, MRC intern Chadd Clark sat through the entire Matt Lauer "Countdown to Doomsday" special on the Sci-Fi Channel that aired on June 14. The transcripts are so full of hyperbole it reads more like the the aforementioned Science Fiction in the usual rotation on that channel than an alleged documentary hosted by an NBC News anchor. Chadd lined up a long list of wild predictions of how we may all be dead tomorrow.
9:03 PM, Lauer on the threat of extinction: "Today, some of our greatest scientific minds are warning that we could be on the brink of another terrible extinction, only this one, is our own."
Back from a break for heart surgery, PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose devoted his entire hour-long show Monday night to Al Gore, promoting his doom-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Rose pressed Gore comfortably from the left: if the president has an "intellectually dishonest" position ignoring the facts, and why no one is having an "enlightened conversation" with President Bush on global warming. Once Rose shifted to Iraq, he laughed at Gore when they discussed whether Bush knew he would invade Iraq as he campaigned in 2000: "I don’t think Dick Cheney had told him yet that he was going to invade Iraq.” This, after Gore said he was trying to convey a "textured and subtle" foreign policy mindset.
Rachel Sklar, formerly of Mediabistro's FishbowlNY blog and now the "Eat the Press" specialist at the Huffington Post (no "Green Acres" accents required), reports on what she calls a "cheap but hilarious" shot at congressional Republicans on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." It's apparently funny to blame Republican softball players for the floods in New Orleans, as fake-reporter Dan Bakkedahl put it:
The Daily Show's Dan Bakkedahl reported last night on the crisis gripping Congressional-league softball in D.C. this season after the Republican players split off into their own league in response to more inclusive regulations proposed by Democrats. According to the Wall Street Journal (and The Daily Show), the Republicans "seceded" from the league after the Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, permitted below-average teams to compete in the playoffs. The WSJ and Daily Show cited several emails accusing the league of being "all about Softball Welfare" and accusing Caruso of "punishing success and rewarding failure - He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?"
New York Times reporter Jason DeParle (an alumnus of the liberal Washington Monthly magazine, one of many in the major media over the years) is now the man the Times assigns to cover the caveman, er, conservative beat. In Wednesday's paper, he does that nicely by covering the new Encyclopedia of Conservatism by ISI Books. It's not completely without balance, as he does poke at ISI's Jeffrey Nelson about the book going easy on George Wallace, and brings in liberal author Dan Carter for comment. But this is the kind of story that explores conservatism, and doesn't just gasp in horror at it.
Predictably, following what I suggested yesterday, ABC's "World News Tonight" hailed the election of the new female Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA as a "milestone" and a "significant advance for women in religion." To the media elite, it is a political victory for feminism, and the religious angle is barely worth mentioning.
ABC reporter Dan Harris hailed Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori for denting the "stained glass ceiling," but said nothing about her theological beliefs, including her expressing the liberal view on CNN that homosexuality "is not a sin." The battle over gay clergy and "marriage," not female leaders, is the real battle in the Anglican Communion.