What is it about celebrations of national pride that Washington Post columnists find so distasteful? Remember Marc Fisher declaring the Pledge of Allegiance "has a creepy totalitarian feel to it, with or without the obviously unconstitutional, McCarthy-era addition of the God bit"?
For Wednesday, just hours after the fireworks filled the air, it's Business section columnist Steven Pearlstein, who began: "This is the week each year when Americans revel in their nationalism, a summer brew of playful patriotism, boastful exceptionalism, and a somewhat smug insularity." Wow, there must have been no partying with the Pearlsteins.
Pearlstein's point is the the collapse of the latest round of global trade talks means that many countries are still struggling with the economic changes that globalization has wrought, including America with its rejection of illegal immigration. Pearlstein argues that Mexico is struggling, even though it has followed the "script" of international financial institutions:
The top of Tuesday's Washington Post carries the headline "Mexico Girds for Legal Battle As Election Yields a Near Tie." But the caption nearby under pictures of the candidates reports: "Felipe Calderon, left, has 36.38 percent of the vote following a preliminary, uncertified tally, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has 35.34 percent." That's a one percent lead, which is tight, but not a "near tie" -- it's a margin of 384,000 votes, says the New York Times with a more accurate headline: "Conservative Has Slight Edge in Mexico Vote." The Post story never employed a numerical vote margin in its story, hiding the margin of hundreds of thousands of votes.
We might assume that on a holiday like the Fourth of July, there's not going to be a lot of liberal media bias. But a search through the MRC's "Notable Quotables" archive shows there have been a few sharp examples that could ruin an Independence Day. I'd begin with with this one from 1994: "We hear the stories of discrimination in education and housing and jobs all the time. We hear the violence between races. Do you think it's possible that America is simply an inherently racist place?" That was Today (then-substitute) co-host Matt Lauer, not exactly waving the flag. If it was an audition, it must have worked. Here are some others:
2003: "Tonight, we’re going to show you a new true face of homelessness in America. Today’s homeless are families, and the families you will meet have done everything right and yet there’s no place for them. Still, they struggle to find a home....There are more families homeless in New York City now than at any in the last 20 years....in numbers, it’s estimated, not seen since the Great Depression." – NBC’s John Hockenberry on the July 4 Dateline.
Instead, for every Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi we can show a Bill O'Reilly, an Ann Coulter, a Rush Limbaugh, a Glenn Beck and a Sean Hannity. Idiocy parades unashamed in the streets on both sides of the war on terror.
Over on Air America Radio on Monday, Sam Seder (Mr. FUBAR) was sitting in for Al Franken. Late in the show, he hosted the blogging artist known as Atrios, Duncan Black. Seder promised they would soon get into celebrating how Washington Post reporter Dana Priest "handed his ass" to Bill Bennett on "Meet the Press" Sunday, as we blogged yesterday.
Seder called Bennett a "bloviating gambling addict," but that charge wasn't wild enough. He then said Bennett's Book of Virtues left out the gambling, as well as "visiting a dominatrix when you're in Vegas as well," where Bennett allegedly had the dominatrix "do very, very strange odd things" to him. Is there any proof? Seder joked it would be "irresponsible as a commentator not to comment on that."
As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, remember it was just last year, headed into a long Independence Day weekend, when NBC anchor Brian Williams compared our founding fathers to terrorists. How open-minded it was of Brian to perceive that perhaps our forefathers could have been considered "terrorists," when experts suggest the word wasn't really coined until years after our revolution. Here's how we summed up that June 30 evening newscast (watch it here):
Remote controls flew at TV sets across America last night as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams came out of an Andrea Mitchell story on whether Iran's new President was one of the captors of U.S. hostages in 1979 during Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution. Williams suggested a sickening moral equivalence between the Iranian radicals and America's Founding Fathers.
Washington Post religion reporter Alan Cooperman put together a nice roundup of news on Katherine Jefferts Schori, the new ultraliberal woman elected to lead the Episcopal Church USA for Monday's front page. The worst thing you can say about it is the way it almost seems designed by the front-page editors to put the juicy news inside the paper, instead of up-front.
The headline is "Episcopal Protest of Top Bishop Increases: More Dioceses Reject New Female Leader." From this, you get the idea that conservatives object to a female leader, first and foremost. Cooperman begins by explaining that an increasing number of dioceses are rejecting her authority, and then right at the "jump" to page A-5, we read: "Gender is only part of the reason that some conservative in the church [turn the page] are unhappy about her election. Jefferts Schori, 52, is also firmly planted in the church's dominant liberal wing."
Hardened NBC watchers know to expect a shift toward the left when Andrea Mitchell is sitting in for Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." On Sunday's big media roundtable, the topic was the administration's "war" on the press. Bennett said Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, whose story on the CIA's secret prisons for terror suspects in Europe outraged Bennett, went all personal on Bennett by saying her story did not break the law: "I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime." (The liberal Washington Monthly broke the story in 2003 that Bennett had a bad habit of gambling away thousands of dollars on casino slot machines. The media glee was palpable.)
The conventional wisdom in Maryland politics is that former Rep. Kweisi Mfume just can't stop the establishment connections and money of Rep. Ben Cardin in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes. Sunday's Washington Post puts a big crimp in that CW -- Mfume leads Cardin, 31-25, albeit with strong racial divisions. (Democrats believe Cardin is the man because he does better in head-to-head polls with Republican nominee Michael Steele.)
It's Michael Steele that really draws out the negative press from the Post, though. While Steele usually can't buy a spot on the front page of Metro for his campaign, it was B-1 all the way last Monday when the Post claimed "Steele's Donor List Raises Racial Questions." Reporter Matthew Mosk explained his rollout of the race card, a la Willie Horton:
For the long weekend, a few media-bias nuggets I've enjoyed from some of my favorite fellow media observers. In his Thursday "Impromptus" column at National Review Online, there's Jay Nordlinger choking on the cynical tone emerging from the AP in Washington:
Talk about tiresomeness — I’m back on my girl Laurie Kellman, and the Associated Press. Here is how an article of hers began yesterday (and bear in mind that this is a news story, from a wireservice): “The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.”
That may or may not be true: but it is pure analysis/opinion, friends, not the way to lead a news story (in my opinion — speaking of those).
The article continues in that vein. If Ms. Kellman, and the others, want to work at Mother Jones — or the New York Times! — they should apply there.
In the Style section of Saturday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz covered the slightly strange story of the Wall Street Journal editorial page criticizing the New York Times scoop on the SWIFT financial tracking system, when the Journal ran the story as well once the Times decided to publish. But the most interesting part of the story was the new poll:
In a Fox News poll released yesterday, 60 percent of those surveyed said the Times did more to help terrorist groups by publishing the information, while 27 percent said the story did more to help the public. Forty-three percent called what the newspapers did treason. Just over half said government employees were more to blame for leaking the classified information, 28 percent faulted the media for reporting it, and 17 percent said they were equally to blame.
Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz make a fairly big deal in the Washington Post (and on page A-2) on Saturday that "USA Today has acknowledged that it cannot prove key elements of a blockbuster May 11 story in which it reported that several telecommunications companies were handing over customer phone records to the National Security Agency."
"We take every error seriously," USA Today Editor Ken Paulson said in an interview. "This was obviously a big story. . . . All we can do is set the record straight."
Reporter Leslie Cauley revealed her unidentified sources to a top editor, Paulson said, and "the sources are credible," adding, "They have a track record with Leslie and she trusts them." But several members of the congressional intelligence committees later contradicted the sources on the question of whether Verizon and BellSouth had provided information to the NSA.
"Legendary" liberal White House reporter (now Hearst columnist) Helen Thomas appeared on Comedy Central's "Daily Show" on Tuesday night to promote her new book attacking the rolling-over-for-Dubya-like-puppies press corps, titled "Watchdogs of Democracy?" The exchange displayed typical, hard-left Helen, laughing at the idea that President Bush has accomplished anything and asserting that we should be spreading democracy through blue jeans and rap music. (I kid you not.) Host Jon Stewart began by asking about how long she's been in the White House -- since 1961.
When Republicans thought about how they could rein in federal spending, one idea was to curb how much federal largesse gets handed out to illegal aliens through fraudulent means. If you are appalled at the thought of denying government money to illegal aliens, money from hard-working taxpayers who play by the rules, then you might fit inside the newsroom at The Washington Post. Their front-page headline today: "Medicaid Rule Called A Threat To Millions."
Reporters Susan Levine and Mary Otto explained that a Medicaid rule takes effect Saturday that requires proof of citizenship before Medicaid recipients collect benefits, even if they have long benefited from Medicaid. The liberal sermonizing started in paragraph three, although there was not a single liberal label for any "advocate for the poor" anywhere in the piece. They're just "critics," not partisans or lobbyists:
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: