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.
It's been eight weeks since Time magazine redesigned itself, and part of that refurbishment is handing over the "Ten Questions" interview inquiries to the readers instead of Time's reporters. In the June 11 edition, Time's interviewee was Rep. Tom Tancredo, a presidential contender and one of the nation's leading opponents of illegal immigration. Among the questions Time selected for Tancredo was a whopper from Ubaldo Padilla of Oroville, California: "Why do you hate Mexicans?" It wasn't the only snotty question Time picked. There was also James Smith of Phoenix, who asked: "I recently found out my family came from Holland without permission in the 1600s. Should we be sent back?"
Since Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel introduced the new format in the March 26 edition, there haven't been any Democrats interviewed. But in the March 12 edition, Time's Massimo Calabresi had ten (mostly softball) questions for Ted Kennedy, one of the nation's leading advocates of an amnesty for illegal immigrants. No one at Time asked him about immigration and why he supposedly hated Americans. Instead, Calabresi's list of questions included these soft touches:
As the "mainstream media" books on Hillary emerge, the media itself often echoes the Clinton spin line -- yawn, no news here. Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom Watch joked this week: "Newsbreak: Her marriage has been troubled! Some good details, but we've heard it all before." Carl Bernstein's book was excerpted on page 3 of the Washington Post's Sunday Outlook section -- not even the front page of an inside section? -- and you can watch Bernstein attempt the usual ridiculous loving-marriage-full-of-womanizing spin:
She carefully positioned herself during those years to have a fallback plan in case their marriage or political journey ran aground. She knew that Bill's history of compulsive infidelity during their courtship meant the chances for a stable marriage, especially a marriage without adultery, were at best a crapshoot.
Is Time’s presidential coverage biased? Check out these headlines from the new edition today: "Barack Obama’s Inconvenient Truths" and "Mitt Romney’s Disappointing Campaign." When you read the actual articles, the contrast is even starker. Reporter Karen Tumulty touted Obama: "Whereas other candidates like to throw red meat before their audiences, Obama is developing a penchant for hurling cold water at them." Columnist Joe Klein blistered Romney: "the brazen cynicism of his candidacy became almost embarrassing...there isn't the slightest hint of courage or conviction in his stump act."
Bill Clinton’s first Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, was an outspoken opponent of the religious right, and was pressed to resign in December 1994 for suggesting that masturbation should be taught in schools as part of sex education, as a "safe sex" option for teenagers. She resigned, but never felt she was wrong to say it. That’s obvious because National Public Radio put her on Wednesday still spreading the message that the best thing about autoeroticism is "you know you're having sex with somebody you love." On former ABC reporter Michel Martin’s new talk show "Tell Me More," Elders was brought on as part of a segment called "Wisdom Watch."
Martin explained: "Every so often, you want to talk over an issue with people who aren't just smart, but wise. So we came up with Wisdom Watch, where we ask some of our most-respected elders to guide us through some of today's most challenging and important issues. Today, we're joined by Doctor Joycelyn Elders."
NewsBusters draws attention on the Left, and some of it is very amusing to read. On today's Huffington Post, Al Gore devotees Dave Johnson and James Boyce are so angry with Brent Bozell's column on Gore that they claim the MRC can't find a single example the media are liberal. (Are they sure they've read this blog?) Their unfavorite line was Brent comparing Gore's censoriousness toward global-warming skeptics with a certain Venezuelan autocrat:
Al Gore and Hugo Chavez? That's a pathetic, stupid pairing right out of the high school playground. But look at their web site, we wouldn't expect more. One thing that is interesting is Conservatives love to claim that the media is liberal. But ask for a single example and it stuns them into silence.
Demonstrating the insular liberal world of New York public television, PBS late-night talk show host Charlie Rose hosted an interview for Al Gore in front of a very supportive draft-Gore-for-president audience at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and then made it his Friday night national television broadcast. He asked Gore if the election was stolen in Florida, if Gore would consider running in 2008 now that he's speaking his mind freely without consultants, and how the network news elite has played a part in "The Assault on Reason."
The whole thing had the air of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, with Charlie Rose playing James Lipton and a supportive audience bathing the guest in adulation. Rose began with an effusive tribute, reading purple prose about how right he is on the issues and how graciously accepted defeat in 2000 (apparently leaving out the six weeks of desperate pleading and lawyering?) from two liberal columnists from The Washington Post and a liberal venture capitalist:
In an interview on Monday’s edition of “Democracy Now” on radical (and taxpayer-supported) Pacifica Radio, host Amy Goodman relayed listener questions to Cindy Sheehan on her self-pitying Withdrawal from Politics tour. We learned again that Sheehan will not run for office: “I have been asked by the Green Party to run for president, but, you know, that’s not anything that I want.” (Imagine what Hillary Clinton would try to do to a female third-party threat. Eek.)
It was funnier when Goodman passed along a question from left wing “PR Watch” guru John Stauber: “What is your opinion of MoveOn and the role it played in the recent congressional debate over war funding?” Sheehan found it hilarious that the “corporate media” would categorize MoveOn as part of the “antiwar left.” So where the devil on the ideological spectrum is it? She said:
Do you ever find it amusing when liberal newspaper reporters tear their hair out in frustration that all the Bush administration gives them is publicity, not news? If someone wants to argue that it's not a reporter's job to recycle robotically the publicity blurbs of the party in power, there is a two word retort: Bob Dart. Bob Dart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article on how the House was taking up a bill to make gas price gouging a federal crime, since we face "much of the nation complaining that gas prices are the highest ever."
Dart's story featured this lineup of the notable and the quotable: Speaker Pelosi (Democrat); Rep. Bart Stupak (Democrat), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations; and Tyler Slocum energy expert with the left-wing group Public Citizen. He mentioned Sen. Maria Cantwell (Democrat) in passing. (CORRECTION: Dart's original story from the Cox News Washington Bureau also included, in paragraphs 19, 20, and 21, a statement from Marlo Lewis of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute and a refiners' representative, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution edited it out.)
On page 23 of the June 4 edition of Newsweek, there's a subtle bias on the "Perspectives" quotes-of-the-week page this week. Note the editorializing by using quotation marks suggesting progress will never happen in Iraq:
"It could be a bloody -- it could be a very difficult August." --President George W. Bush, on what is in store for U.S. troops in Iraq in the months before a "progress report" due in September (emphasis mine).
On page 33, there's a story by Melinda Liu on actual progress in Iraq, headlined: "Gathering the Tribes: U.S. field commanders are finally beginning to tap the traditional networks that helped Saddam stay in power." Liu reported from Ramadi that "Marines and Iraqi tribesmen and police are sitting together, swapping jokes and stories. Some of these Iraqis were probably shooting at Americans less than a year ago. Now they and the Marines are fighting side by side against Al Qaeda."
Charlie Hall, a Washington Post reporter and copy editor for 20 years, is running for a county board seat in suburban northern Virginia as a Democrat, and as the Post itself reported Tuesday, he gets really upset when his Democratic opponents suggest he has no Democratic credentials: "The issue infuriates Hall, who said that he has voted Democrat his whole life."
Post reporter Bill Turque chronicled the primary fight for the Providence District of the Fairfax County Board, a long-time Democratic stronghold. Hall's a staunch opponent of new real-estate development in the area. The incumbent fighting for re-election on June 12 is Linda Q. Smyth, who is backed by the chairman of the Fairfax County Board, Gerald Connolly:
News magazines love to float above the real news and focus on nebulous trends, and perhaps none are more nebulous than the sudden popularity of the "beta male," as represented by Al Gore. The "cultural dispatch" by writer Jennie Yabroff celebrates Gore as "the proto beta male" who’s "having the last laugh as a movie star, an ecosavant, a best-selling author, and a potential dark-horse presidential candidate."
Yabroff’s article in the June 4 edition was headlined "Betas Rule: What do Jim from 'The Office,' Shrek and Al Gore have in common? They're beta males—losers who are winning. Look out, alpha dogs." While the grasping, ambitious "alphas" are out, Gore and Bill Clinton are singled out as the hottest political embodiments of sensitively surrendering men, as if they have no ambitions at all:
In Monday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz relayed that Time columnist Joe Klein may have succumbed big time to the stickiest temptation of a national political writer – advising the liberal standard-bearer on how he should win the presidency. (When he doesn't, deny you were ever an adviser, even unofficially.) Klein, renowned back in 1992 as a Clinton toady, reportedly had Kerry eating out of his hand, playing the guru to Kerry at his own abode:
Were some pundits advising John Kerry's presidential campaign while critiquing it for the public? In his new memoir "No Excuses," veteran Democratic consultant Robert Shrum says Time columnist Joe Klein doubled as a "sometime adviser," and that the Massachusetts senator "craved his approval."
The Washington Post took a second bite out of the forthcoming MSM-originating Hillary Clinton biographies on Sunday, in an article titled "Unflattering Books Cause Barely A Ripple." Reporters Dan Balz and Perry Bacon Jr. stressed that (Democrat) voters in the Iowa towns of Algona, Charles City, Mason City and Emmetsburg didn't have book-related questions. The reporters dropped another fun quote from one of the books:
[Former WashPost reporter Carl] Bernstein's book, for example, reports that then-White House adviser George Stephanopoulos described to unnamed colleagues Clinton's responses to the White House Travel Office case and other scandals as "Jesuitical lying." Stephanopoulos, now anchor of ABC's "This Week" program, declined to comment when reached Friday.
There are articles about the hippy-dippy 1960s that seem designed to show how the left can eat its own. In Friday’s Weekend Arts section of the New York Times, the top of the page was dominated by an art review by Holland Cotter titled "Through Rose-Colored Granny Glasses." In between his personal notes on the "weird-sweet burn" of tear gas and displaying a knowing nod toward the effects of taking the "wrong drug at the wrong time," Cotter scorned the new "Summer of Love" exhibit at the Whitney Museum as scarred by racism, sexism, and commercialism. First, he complained that the radical politics of the era was undersold, and the gay and women’s "liberation" movements:
But the net effect is less to reveal a depth and variety of creativity than to demonstrate that the main function of alternative art was advertising, that the counterculture started as a commercial venture, which soon became a new mainstream and ended up an Austin Powers joke.
In a surprise in their Sunday Week in Review section, The New York Times assigned a correspondent to question leftist filmmaker Michael Moore’s math about Cuba having a better health care system than the United States: "How could a poor developing country — where annual health care spending averages just $230 a person compared with $6,096 in the United States — come anywhere near matching the richest country in the world?" Correspondent Anthony DePalma found experts who granted points to Cuba’s "universal" health care, but also pointed to the communist dictatorship’s high rates of abortion and emigration, and ironically, its shortages – poor transportation and a restricted food supply – as reasons why Cuban life expectancy may be high.
The DePalma piece was highlighted on the Times home page Sunday, complete with a picture of people sitting in a clinic under a painting of Che Guevara. DePalma noted that Moore’s new film "Sicko" gets poetic about the wonders of Cuban health care: It "savages the American health care system — and along the way extols Cuba’s system as the neatest thing since the white linen guayabera [shirt]." He began his analysis by quoting Moore promoting Cuba in Time: