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.
The New York Times confirmed the buzz that it's hiring conservative William Kristol as a weekly op-ed page columnist. (As opposed to the early liberal gnashing of teeth.)The Times story began by noting Kristol is a "vigorous supporter of the Iraq war" and has even vigorously attacked his new newspaper home:
Mr. Kristol, 55, has been a fierce critic of The Times. In 2006, he said that the government should consider prosecuting The Times for disclosing a secret government program to track international banking transactions.
In a 2003 column on the turmoil within The Times that led to the downfall of the top two editors, he wrote [in The Weekly Standard] that it was not "a first-rate newspaper of record," adding, "The Times is irredeemable."
A “war on terror” is also a war on democracy? On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, the broadcast closed with substitute anchor Lester Holt asking reporter Jim Maceda for his thoughts on the day’s top story, the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Maceda relayed that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf would probably be saying “I told you so,” as he had warned against Bhutto holding a rally in the park in Rawalpindi. After the death, Maceda expected that Musharraf would “continue his crackdown on political rallies, on liberties, on protests, basically on democracy, all of that in the name of heightened security and Musharraf’s war on terror.”
MRC’s Kristine Lawrence found the item and offered the transcript:
NBC’s Today found a liberal take on the Bhutto assassination on Friday morning. Reporter Andrea Mitchell not only declared it was "a major blow to U.S. foreign policy," they found an expert to underline Mitchell's thesis that "Without her, hunting down Osama bin Laden is now even less likely." Mitchell also suggested that the murder assisted Hillary Clinton’s campaign: "The prospect of a foreign policy crisis immediately transformed the presidential campaign and in the close Democratic race boosted Hillary Clinton's argument that experience, including her own relationship with Bhutto, trumps change." Knowing a world leader qualifies you as firm and in command during a crisis?
Mitchell also saw a political upside for John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on the Republican side.
The Washington Post reviewed Newt Gingrich and Terry Maple’s "A Contract for the Earth" on Sunday, but Post "national environmental reporter" Juliet Eilperin was torn. On one hand, she wanted to say that even the Republicans recognize and bow before the Global Warming Threat. On the other hand, she simply had to mock the idea that private-sector solutions would help rather than stringent government mandates: "This is no revolutionary manifesto. It's Gingrich as Smokey the Bear, rather than as the provocateur he used to play on the national stage." The Post illustrated the sentence with a graphic that crudely pasted a picture of Gingrich’s face on a Smokey Bear painting.
Ultimately, in the review's final paragraph, Eilperin dismissed the book as "greenwash," resembling a "corporate advertisement" from an op-ed page, designed for public relations rather than actual solutions:
In their year in review issue (dated December 31/January 7), Newsweek sums up its year in the snarky "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box. The box is utterly conventional in its liberal bias, slashing the Republicans in general at year's end:
George W. Bush (DOWN): Manages to stymie Dem Congress. But still has nothing to show for his seven years except no 9/11 sequel. Sad.
Dick Cheney (DOWN): Secretive, trigger-happy fossil-fuel lover is like banker Mr. Potter in "It’s a Wonderful Life." But without the happy ending.
Condi Rice (SIDEWAYS): Condi ‘08! On second thought, there’s a think tank somewhere with a corner office for you and a piano.
Karl Rove (DOWN): Bush’s brain goes from running the world to writing an occasional piece for NEWSWEEK. Now he can leak to himself!
Scooter Libby (DOWN): Cheney’s man convicted of perjury but scoots out of jail thanks to Bush. Let him do community service at Walter Reed.
Even the up arrows came with attacks on conservatives:
In the wake of the Benazir Bhutto assassination, consider this: I was puzzled in my car yesterday listening to the XM satellite music service, and its reggae channel "The Joint." Rapper/singer Wyclef Jean was doing a little promotional ditty for XM and singing he was running for president, with "Clef for President" going up against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and then noting he would be "elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, back to work on Monday."
This is apparently a shortened version of Wyclef's song "If I Were President" from the Dave Chappelle show on Comedy Central. The little song on XM also had some of these cockeyed liberal lyrics:
An old man told me Instead of spending Billions on the war We can use some of that money In the ghetto I know some so poor When it rains that’s when they shower Screaming fight the power That’s when the vulture devours
The rise of Barack Obama with a message of racial reconciliation has led some to question whether race-baiting leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are yesterday’s news. But on the front page of Wednesday’s Washington Post came a rebuttal, a news story headlined "Not Relevant? Sharpton Scoffs at the Idea: Activist’s Busy Calendar and Ringing Phone Speak to His Role in Civil Rights." Reporter Keith Richburg toyed with the idea of an irrelevant Sharpton, but the lion’s share of his story worked on shoring up his clout.
All the Democratic presidential contenders are seeking his endorsement, reported Richburg. After his high-profile turns in getting Don Imus fired and the "Jena 6" celebrated, Sharpton declared "smiling contentedly over coffee" in the story, "I think this has been a banner year, to say the least...This year proved the real revival of civil rights activism."
If you wanted to get depressed on the day after Christmas, you could always read Washington Post foreign correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer’s account of her deep guilt about escaping Iraq for a new posting in Egypt and trying to get her dog out of country ahead of poor Iraqi refugees whose lives were ruined by American occupation. Every Westerner in the story seems to be an Ugly American, and even as Knickmeyer recalled her return to Baghdad in October, the much quieter streets weren’t grounds for optimism: "our bureau seemed more than ever a medium-security prison....It seemed the silence of a dead city."
In reviewing the year 2007 in magazines, Washington Post writer Peter Carlson found the year was dull, boring, and in no way memorable. But he did find it amazing that magazines would do power-sniffing surveys and completely exclude President Bush from the power lists:
In 2007, GQ published "The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C." -- a list that actually included 56 powerful people in D.C. but did not include George W. Bush, the president of the United States. Time magazine published "The Time 100," a list of "the World's Most Influential People." It included Raul Castro, Michael J. Fox and Kate Moss but it also did not include President Bush. It also didn't include Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, whom Time later named its "Person of the Year."
The gay "rights" movement's war on orthodox religion and against religious people's freedom of speech is continuing in our neighbor to the north, as LifeSite reports. A Catholic magazine in Toronto is under the gun:
Closely following an uproar in the media against government-sponsored censorship via HRC against Maclean's magazine and columnist Mark Steyn and an Alberta HRC judgment ordering Alberta news media to not publish any comments on homosexuality by a Christian pastor, Toronto's Catholic Insight magazine has reported they stand accused in an HRC complaint of "targeting homosexuals".
The next time someone claims PBS is an oasis of fairness and balance, suggest they notice that Bill Moyers writes fundraising letters for hard-left political efforts. Arriving in the mail at liberal households over the holidays is a direct-mail fundraiser from Jim Hightower, the former agriculture commissioner of Texas and washed-up talk show host. He has a new, cheap newsletter ($10 annual subscription), and included is a testimonial with the Moyers mug on it. Moyers wrote that Hightower's work is better than Heaven, and the she-God learned immensely from it:
Dear fellow citizen,
I am told the first thing the late people's pundit Molly Ivins did upon reaching that Great Valhalla of Scribes in the Sky was to whip out the latest edition of The Hightower Lowdown and read it aloud to the multitude of saints, angels, and cherubs gathered to greet her.
Once again, those class-warring liberals are organizing a luxury cruise. This time, it's National Public Radio talk show host Diane Rehm, who's syndicated in more than 80 markets through D.C. affiliate WAMU at American University:
This intimate travel experience with Diane Rehm gives you the opportunity to meet the people and experience the culture that most tourists miss. Even better, you'll do it all in the best way possible--on a luxurious river cruise ship. Unpack just once and settle into your outside cabin.
For 14 nights, you'll cruise through the very heart of Europe on this incredible voyage between Budapest and Amsterdam.
One of the benefits of the Danube River trip is three two-hour chats with Diane Rehm. She has an online letter of invitation to potential WAMU donors:
Howard Kurtz wrote a whole story Wednesday entertaining as a serious idea -- without any conservative rebuttal or extended break for belly laughs -- that Hillary Clinton suffers from a "harsher microscope" from the national media. It might be arguable that Barack Obama has received even better coverage lately, but it's like arguing that your little brother got a bigger stick of cotton candy than you did. The idea that "harsh" describes her media coverage is ridiculous.
Rock musician Todd Rundgren hasn't been prominent as a performer since the 1970s, but his Sunday concert at the Birchmere here in MRC's hometown of Alexandria drew a mixed review in the Washington Post. Tuesday's review by Stephen Brookes ended with this strange paragraph about Rundgren's failure to offend people:
And for a guy pushing 60, Rundgren still works hard, digging into the vocals and closing most songs with a leaping scissors kick. But his promises to "offend each and every person in the room" didn't quite deliver, starting with a tame "Fascist Christ" and ending with a listless jab against -- yawn -- neoconservatives. Sorry; if you want to talk politics in this town, you have to hit a lot harder than that.
Since when is a song viciously attacking American Christians as fascists considered "tame" and inoffensive? The only arguments in the Post's favor: The song is old (from 1993, hardly the zenith of Christian conservatism), and it's a very lame white rap song.
As Eat the Press has reported, NBC Nightly News has a famous new voice pitching Brian Williams at the program's introduction every night. It’s the actor Michael Douglas, best known as Aaron Sorkin’s liberal "American President" and as the evil Gordon Gekko character in the Oliver Stone Decade of Greed movie "Wall Street."
Douglas announces: "From NBC News world headquarters in New York, this is NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."
It seemed a little under modulated on Debut Night, or maybe it just doesn’t match up to the James Earl Jones "This....is CNN" sonorous standard. But it’s easy to remember how much all the networks loved the Gordon Gekko line to sum up those greed-head Ronald Reagan 1980s, as we wrote in our newsletter at the time:
On CNN’s The Situation Room on Monday, CNN political reporter Candy Crowley publicized a new website started by the Hillary Clinton campaign at the address www.thehillaryIknow.com, designed to warm up Hillary’s cold, calculating image. Crowley touted how a combination of personal friends and New York constituents and "some names you would recognize" like Wesley Clark would spin for the candidate’s personal warmth.
Some of it was low on the relevance meter: "Today, we heard from a longtime – one of her closest friends in elementary school, who told us Clinton was captain of the crossing guards in elementary school." But go on the actual website, and on the front page is Jim Blair, described only as "A very close friend of Hillary’s whose wife passed from cancer in 2000." Political junkies should know that name: Jim Blair is the Tyson Foods lawyer who mysteriously set rules aside and massaged Hillary’s $1,000 investment into a $100,000 bonanza in the cattle futures market over nine months in 1978 and 1979.
Blair’s video testimonial is summarized underneath his video screen: "I’d like to tell the story of the last of Diane’s life...Hillary was in a Senate race in New York. Hillary called Diane every day for the last 90 days of Diane’s life...Hillary gave her comfort and the strength to keep going." Blair also tells of Hillary standing up for the couple as their politically correct "best person" at their 1979 wedding, but says nothing, obviously, about the quick six-figure commodities miracle.
Call it a meeting of the Bush-bashing minds. Longtime PBS host Bill Moyers invited on MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for Friday’s edition of Bill Moyers Journal. The strangest moment came as Moyers suggested that in a polarized country, it might be distasteful for journalists to favor one side. Moyers must be playing devil’s advocate, because he’s been every bit as vituperative against Bush as Olbermann.
The worries about polarization and contributing to "a nation of screechers" came up twice.
BILL MOYERS: It seems to me that this country has become two choirs, each side listening to, only to its own preachers. If -- should journalists take sides when everybody else is polarized?
In a long interview with Rachel Sklar of The Huffington Post, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw accentuated the dark cloud inside the silver lining of the surge. The fact that it's having some effect only darkens a "black mark" against the administration. But when it comes to the current campaign, he could only offer praise for Hillary Clinton ("enormous capacity" of her "native intelligence") and Barack Obama (also with "enormous intelligence," and some rookie mistakes.) First, the war:
It was too late, there were a lot of officers and military analysts who said early on that we needed more troops there, the fact that the surge came so late in the process is, I think, a black mark against the war planners and against the administration, I don't think there's any question about that. But now that it's in place it is having some effect: The diminution of insurgent attacks — but now we find out that they're moving north and they're just changing the battlefield.