In the 8 am hour of NBC's Today on Wednesday, they hailed old co-host Barbara Walters (then given the lesser title of "panelist") and showed old 1970s clips -- often with Walters sounding liberal notes. Viewers in 2007 saw a list of golden oldies showing Barbara's moxie, including:
"Let's get out! Just get out of Vietnam."
"This is Womanhood Day...Get your own cup of coffee!"
And touring the disastrous Cultural Revolution in communist China: "Today, the women in China speak of their total equality with men." Equally poor and oppressed. Sometimes equally murdered.
Matt Lauer said "Today came a long way, baby." Politically, maybe not so much.
On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley assembled a piece arguing strongly that President Bush is a "severely weakened commander-in-chief" who is "now running out of cards" on Iraq.
Crowley: "Less than four years ago 71 percent of Americans approved of the way the president was handling Iraq. Each spring thereafter shows a president in slow free fall. Americans come to believe the war was too slow, the objective far from sure; within 12 months the insurgency began to take hold."
Bush (2004 footage): "We will not waiver in the face of fear and intimidation."
Crowley: "Every good thing -- elections, new governments, a constitution -- was followed by something horrendous -- roadside bombings, prison abuses."
ABC and CBS (not NBC) featured interviews Wednesday morning with White House communications director Dan Bartlett. Both networks were fairly harsh in their questioning. ABC’s Diane Sawyer read a long list of eminent people who opposed a surge, and pressed, "What don’t they get?" She even used soundbites of soldiers saying it was a hopeless civil war and "I don’t think we need to be here." CBS’s Harry Smith aimed his barbs at Bartlett more from the right, questioning whether 20,000 troops would be enough, and insisting that the Iraqis weren’t up to the "blood and guts" job of security. He also hammered on the president’s low approval ratings and asked "Why should the American people have faith in the president at this moment?"
MRC’s Justin McCarthy reported that Sawyer opened Good Morning America with the spin that the President was going exactly against public opinion: "Amid calls in this country for a withdrawal of American troops, the president is going to be sending more troops to Iraq."
Time magazine devoted its "Ten Questions" interview this week to NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer. Time’s Jeanne McDowell had a light touch, asking about Meredith, and Katie, and squabbling with Tom Cruise. The interview quickly draws the reader to this comparison: Lauer was tougher on Tom Cruise than he was with Hillary Clinton in the famous "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview of 1998, despite the great difference in importance between a president lying in court and an actor/Scientologist fighting with Brooke Shields over anti-depressant pills. It unfolded like this:
What do you consider your best interview?
Hillary Clinton because of the convergence of events that were happening at the time. It was a few days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I fully expected Mrs. Clinton to cancel. She was a scorned woman whose husband had just been exposed for cheating. [The exchange] went extraordinarily well and resulted in the often quoted "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview. But it required as deft a touch as I ever have had to use.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be campaigning to be the liberal media’s favorite Republican office-holder. On Tuesday, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today publicized his "bold" new plan to offer billions in new state government subsidies to provide "universal" health coverage, even to millions of illegal immigrants. ABC co-host Robin Roberts openly endorsed it: "there is definitely a crisis, and it's good to see at least trying something, something, especially to help those that are uninsured." While ABC seemed to offer no opposition, except to frame it briefly as a potential "budget buster," NBC at least noted critics in small business and opponents of subsidizing (and attracting) illegal immigrants.
MRC’s Justin McCarthy reported that ABC promoted the California health plan as a challenge to President Bush and the new Democratic Congress to follow up and do something similar nationwide:
CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer interviewed Oscar-favored actress Helen Mirren for Sunday, and CBS sent out press materials highlighting her fondness for nude scenes. She even suggested she and Safer do their interview naked. At his routinely liberal blog for Broadcasting & Cable magazine, reporter John Eggerton applauded the silly idea as "a stroke of genius" in flouting those dictators downtown at the FCC:
For one brief shining moment I was ready to celebrate one of the gutsiest programming moves in recent years, one calculated to suggest the ludicrousness of a fixation on nudity. With CBS fighting the FCC's indecency crackdown, what a stroke of genius to have both Safer and Mirren in the nude for their interview about how Mirren, and her mother, think her past nude scenes (Caligula, Calendar Girls) are no big deal...
In case you haven't seen it, over on The Corner, Jonah Goldberg shared correspondence on the AP's Jamil Hussein problem from Michael Schrage, a former reporter for the Washington Post and columnist for the Los Angeles Times unleashing on the "mainstream" media:
Subject: You are, indeed, missing something -
I wrote this piece for the washington post a year ago. It speaks for itself...but the jamail hussein saga is a classic example of unprofessional, plame-like hypocrisy by the AP...
They named their source - many, many times - and it was challenged...there was a myriad of ways they could have handled the query: they could have called in a favor and gotten one of the AP-member newspapers in iraq to 'interview' the guy to vouch; they could have done a podcast with the guy; if the bloggers still insisted the guy was a fraud, then AP itself would be literally accused of not just perpetrating a hoax but perpetuating one...
At ABC's "World Newser" blog, Chuck Lustig, ABC's Director of Foreign News, laments big-money college athletics, represented by Nick Saban's reported eight-year, $32 million contract to coach college football at Alabama. Perhaps he can carry around a protest sign reading "Books Not (Long) Bombs." Expect another blog to follow from an ABC feminist complaining that Alabama's coaches for women's sports are being cheated of larger salaries, a sure Title IX violation. Lustig lamented:
Then I started to think about the $40 million Oprah Winfrey spent to build a school in South Africa and asked the question is there something wrong with our educational priorities in this country that a college coach can make so much money at a time when many of our country's school districts are wrangling with huge deficits?
The blog "Couric & Co." at CBSNews.com has transformed from mostly Katie to mostly other CBS personnel in the last few weeks. On Monday, Couric writer (and former CNN anchor) Mary Alice Williams recounted how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi was a "very big deal" and went a little overboard about how much better women were:
The picture alone demonstrated what a difference her leadership will make. Instead of a lone male gaveling Congress into session, here was a female surrounded by children. Women, in ways far different from men, represent families.
Williams wrote that her 16-year-old daughter Alice was there to witness history, courtesy of her congressman (no name or party affiliation attached). She also made it seem likely that she's the one who wrote for Couric that it's taken too long: "In helping women gain true equality in every aspect of life, Susan B. Anthony always said 'failure is impossible.' Today the only quibble she might have is that it took so long."
In his weekly "Critiquing the Press" chat at washingtonpost.com, Post media reporter (and CNN "Reliable Sources" host) Howard Kurtz oddly suggested that when bar patrons insist on turning off Fox News, a nice, less polarizing compromise would be Comedy Central. (When the left-wing Stewart/Colbert "fake news" is on?)
New York, N.Y.: True Story. Recently I am sitting at an airport bar reading my paper. Fox News is on the TV. A couple walk up to the bar, sit down, and tell the bartender that if he wants their business he needs to turn off Fox News. The bartender walks over to the TV when another man at the bar says 'don't turn on MSNBC!' The bartender looks around not sure what to do. He turns the TV off and goes back to serving drinks. I guess this is what we've come to.
Washington Post political reporter Shailagh Murray professed shock at the lack of attention Congressman Bill Jefferson has drawn, even as she protested the Post has done that story. From today's Political Chat at washingtonpost.com:
Alexandria, Va.: I understand Congressman Bill Jefferson was given a standing ovation from his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, despite the $90,000 the FBI found in Tupperware in his freezer. Why do these details of Democratic ethics problems seem left out every time media personnel recount how Speaker Pelosi will bring "ethics reform" to the House?
Shailagh Murray: I once met the friendliest bank robber. Just because you're a crook doesn't mean you're not thoughtful or interesting or fun to hang out with. Not that I'm referring to anyone in particular. Regarding Rep. Jefferson, I take issue with your observation. I've written or co-written numerous stories, including for the front page, on this case, and we have included it in numerous other stories, including a page one piece last week (not by moi) on how Pelosi handled this case.
Brent Bozell's culture column centers on a twisted little late-night Cartoon Network show called "Moral Orel." It's a vicious little claymation attack on Christianity that airs on "Adult Swim" 15 minutes after Sunday is over. Two weeks ago, it aired 15 minutes into Christmas with the first and worst episode: a Christmas special.
Right from the get-go, viewers learn that Orel’s parents are very phony Christians who hate each other, and their preacher, Reverend Putty, looking typically ridiculous in the phoniest of toupees, declares his gratitude to St. Joseph in his Christmas sermon for accepting the "unplanned birth" of Jesus, since it prevented them from the horror of being Jewish instead of Protestant. They worship at "God's Favorite Protestant Church."
One of the most overused anti-Bush analogies at this point in 2007 is Hurricane Katrina. Geoff Dickens found it even surfaced last Wednesday in reference to the rough cell-phone video of Saddam Hussein's execution. MSNBC's "Hardball" crew found this comparative analogy to be not only logical, but delicious enough to repeat, as Geoff Dickens reported after watching last Wednesday's show. Reporter David Shuster found "critics" to make this odd connection:
"A White House spokesman later said President Bush has not yet seen the Saddam video. The images have been part of an international discourse for days. And critics say the President`s detachment is reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, when the President didn’t appreciate the aftermath or public uproar until an adviser showed him a tape several crucial days later."
Cam Edwards at NRANews.com offered something interesting to add to the Geoff Dickens list of Matt Lauer's frequent episodes of anti-gun bias. In August 2000, Lauer interviewed Knoxville, Tennessee auto dealer Greg Lambert about how apparently outrageous it was that Lambert offered guns as part of his car sales pitch. (I break down laughing when Lauer says "Even children who come to your dealership are going to get a free water pistol, and some people say that's just going too far.")
But here's the Greg Lambert story Matt Lauer hasn't done. In November 2006, Lambert used his own gun to defend himself against a 19-year-old man who came to buy a car, and then decided to hold him up. When faced with Lambert's gun, the man fled and was later arrested. (A Knoxville TV station offered early details here.) The Knoxville News Sentinel then added that the county sheriff was charging the assailant with a murder that occurred ten hours earlier.
Dana Milbank's column in the WashPost today does occasionally dare to unwrap little tidbits that won't please Democrats. In the midst of yesterday's Pelosi-palooza, he chose instead to cover the Senate swearing-in. He reported that Senate President Pro Tem Robert Byrd was effusive at being sworn in yesterday, yelling "Hallejujah!" And "Yeah man!" Milbank added:
"His colleagues were amused. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) at one point pretended to tilt a bottle into his mouth, though it was unclear whether Byrd was the target of that gesture."
Milbank reported Reid was not only overshadowed by the new female House Speaker, but by Senate spouse Bill Clinton, who attracted a wave of press attention by using the bathroom in the Senate press gallery.
MRC Times Watch man and NB blogger Clay Waters appeared again Thursday on Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on the subject of the constant and ongoing New York Times wailing and lamenting the botched execution of Saddam Hussein. Clay was joined in the Cavuto segment by James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. Waters offered this take:
“Everyone of course has some misgivings about how it was, especially with the leaked videotape. But what struck me was the tone of the coverage. It could not give him Bush or the U.S. a single positive thing out of it. Even Slate, which is no one’s idea of a right-wing rag, they said ‘a distinct strain of grudging admiration’ that ran through the Times coverage of Hussein's trip to the gallows.” And if Slate says it, there must be something fairly obvious about the Times.” Video Clip: Real (2.39 MB) or Windows (2 MB) Plus MP3(948 KB)
Brian Stelter at TV Newser reproduced some New Year's resolutions from CBS News stars from their weekly newsletter called the "C-Note." The head-turner in an otherwise routine pile (like morning show host Hannah Storm resolving to "take more naps") is long-standing "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer saying he never wants to be a saint, since they are "the most tedious people." He boasted:
"I resolve to never make resolutions. My sins are all pleasurable, my virtues impeccable. I love animals, small children and I am never cruel to grown-ups, unless it is absolutely necessary. I smoke too much and occasionally over-medicate on good red wine. Saints are the most tedious people, humorless and lacking in imagination. I have no intention of ever becoming one."
Just to prove that Fox News Channel doesn't live up to the liberal stereotype of Music to Conservative Ears, angry E-mailers are demanding someone denounce Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke for slamming conservatives who staunchly oppose illegal immigration. In their year-end Beltway Boys "awards show" this weekend, there was this clip of agreement:
Kondracke: "Our 'Dumbest Move' award of the year is Republicans trashing immigrants. And this - this has disastrous consequences for the, in the election. The Hispanic vote, which is the fastest-growing element of the population, went 55 to 42 percent Democratic in 2004. This time, it went 76 to 26. And it's all because of this stupid wall that the House Republicans wanted to build, and rejected their own president's plan for a comprehensive immigrant reform in preference to cozying up to radio talk show hosts."
Retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw spoke for eight minutes at President Ford's memorial service today in Washington, but the most memorable lines offered thanks for how Ford welcomed the media as friends, not enemies, unlike Richard Nixon. He also praised Ford for supporting his wife as she spoke out on issues that weren't "politically correct."
“As a journalist I was especially grateful for his appreciation for our role even when we challenged his policies and taxed his patience with our constant presence and persistence. We could be adversaries, but we were never his enemy, and that was a welcome change in status from his predecessor’s time."
Billy Graham may seem like an American icon to some, but not to Katie Couric, who scorned him during live Ford memorial service coverage on CBS Tuesday morning. She complained about him for writing a "remarkably partisan" letter comforting Gerald Ford after he lost to her hero Jimmy Carter in 1976. Who is Couric to judge "remarkably partisan," since she leans exactly the other way when it comes to her hero, President Carter? At about 10:40 am, Couric talked with liberal Carter-boosting historian Douglas Brinkley about Ford's religious faith, which brought out this exchange about Ford's relationship with the evangelist:
Are the moralists of the Washington Post Style section really the kind of people who believe Kenneth Lay, the CEO of the collapsing racket of Enron, is a viler historical figure than Saddam Hussein? A review of the documentary evidence would suggest yes. Rich Noyes remembered Style essayist Henry Allen's rather savage take on Mr. Lay last July 6 after he died before justice kicked in:
But now that he's died of a heart attack in the luxury of his Colorado getaway while awaiting sentencing for his crimes, none of his victims will be able to contemplate that he's locked away in a place that makes the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel look like Hawaii; that he might be spending long nights locked in a cell with a panting tattooed monster named Sumo, a man of strange and constant demands; and long days in the prison laundry or jute mill or license plate factory, gibbering with anguish as fire-eyed psychopaths stare at him for unblinking hours while they sharpen spoons into jailhouse stilettos.
Then compare that to Style essayist Philip Kennicott on New Year's Eve, feeling only a marginal distaste for Saddam, who was apparently just a paper tiger manufactured by Team Bush. He was a bad guy, yadda yadda, but he has nothing to do with Iraq now:
On the Federal Page in Tuesday's Washington Post, Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covers lobbying, suggests it's not "genuine" for the National Rifle Association to sound the alarm on threats to gun rights at the moment: "No one expects gun legislation to pass this year." But in dismissing the "not-so-imminent threat" (as the article's headline describes it), Birnbaum goes too far:
The document is filled with sinister-looking caricatures of supposed anti-gun figures such as filmmaker Michael Moore, comedian Rosie O'Donnell, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) and CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
Time’s Cartoons of the Year for 2006 certainly have a liberal tilt. None of them mock American liberals. Two promote them. The list starts with a Kerry-defending serious cartoon, "I’d rather be insulted by a botched joke than die in a botched war." It ends with Nancy Pelosi arriving in the Capitol to "Clean the House."
Republicans and conservatives are mocked. A joke mocks that Dick Cheney should invite Valerie Plame on a hunting trip, that Dennis Hastert is getting his "just desserts" in Foleygate for pursuing the Clinton sex scandals, and the Verizon guy is on the line with an NSA wiretapper who’s thrown the Constitution in the garbage can. John Wayne seems to be in cardiac arrest in Heaven after learning the plot of "Brokeback Mountain."
Washington Post arts writer Sarah Kaufman, who just two weeks ago celebrated the new ballet where George W. Bush assaults women and kills them, mentioned that and other "anti-war" (not "Bush-hating") dance works as her highlights of 2006 in the Sunday Arts section:
In the past year dancers have given the term "antiwar movement" new meaning. One legacy of the bloody, intractable Iraq war may well be its role as an artistic inspiration.
Starting with American Ballet Theatre's revival of Kurt Jooss's "The Green Table" at the Kennedy Center last February, protest works have made an impact, as company directors have put uneasy -- even brutal -- views of war onstage.
Two of the works felt especially political. ABT performed Jooss's 1932 treatise on bureaucrats with blood on their hands the very night that President Bush was delivering his State of the Union address. A coincidence, probably, but a particularly delicious Washington moment nonetheless.
It was artistically rich as well. This work, a historical treasure of enduring relevance, is full of drama and outsize characterizations: the stuffed-shirt politicians who drive the conflict but remain at a safe distance, soldiers in battle, mourning women and the magnetic figure of Death, which dancer David Hallberg injected with arrogance, charisma, menace and seductiveness. He was a stalker and a lover: the ultimate predator. This work makes its point with eloquent economy: What begins at a conference table ends in hell.
They also followed that party line in Kansas City. But Googling also found that Sarah Kaufman also whacked at Bush and the oblivious people who voted for him on December 9 in telling readers what to go out and see:
IF THE SEASON IS getting too predictable -- too many Sugarplum Fairies, too much "Messiah" -- the Paul Taylor Dance Company offers a tempting antidote. Never sweet, sometimes sour, often sardonic, Taylor puts a refreshingly clear-eyed spin on things in his upcoming program of four works. His 2005 work, "Banquet of Vultures," takes on the cruelties of war, dogmatic leadership and an oblivious populace. (Hmm, what could have inspired that?)
There were more guess-what-I'm-liberal picks of the Washington Post arts writers in Friday's Weekend section, so since it's a slow Sunday morning, here's the others. The movie critics listed their favorite actors of the year. Ann Hornaday closed out her list with this flippant pick:
5. Ted Haggard in "Jesus Camp." In this documentary, the evangelical preacher leers at a camera operator and says, "I know what you did last night." Well, it turned out what he had done last night was score some crystal meth and get together with a male prostitute. Meanwhile, this prevaricator and moral hypocrite had thousands of followers convinced he was a straight and sober man of God. Well played, sir!
Entertainment Weekly TV critic Ken Tucker put both Keith Olbermann and Rosie O'Donnell on his Best of TV List for 2006.
6 Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC The best anchor in the biz right now books off-the-beaten-pundit guests, refuses to maintain the ridiculous pose of ''objectivity,'' and is funny as hell. Which is where some of his competitors wish he'd go.
7 The View ABC Detonate the small nuclear bomb called Rosie O'Donnell and watch a mere chitchat show explode with barbed wit and fierce sociopolitical debate. She's forced Elisabeth Hasselbeck to try to learn how to form coherent thoughts, made a revitalized Joy Behar her ally in common sense, and frequently left her boss Barbara Walters speechless.
Newspaper cultural critics often seemed to be bringing their politics and not just their artistic senses to the table when judging the "best" products of 2006. Friday’s Weekend section of The Washington Post compiled a set of lists of the best in art, music, and movies, and some of the Post critics were dropping some liberal (and radical, even Marxist) politics into their choices. The music critics were the most political. Curt Fields had two liberal/radical Bush-hater favorites on his Best list:
7. Dixie Chicks. The trio had several quality moments, including its defiant "Not Ready to Make Nice" single and the intriguing "Shut Up & Sing" documentary. But best of all was the way the Dixie Chicks appeared onstage at some of their live shows to the strains of "Hail to the Chief."...
9. The Coup, "Pick a Bigger Weapon." This Oakland, Calif.-based act mixes revolutionary politics, humor and sweet beats. Smart and catchy, a rare double. Plus, it has the song title of the year, "Babyletshaveababybeforebushdosomethingcrazy."
At the top of the Saturday Washington Post Style section is the headline "The Hard Core of Cool: Confidence, Grace, And Underneath It All, the Need to Be Recognized." Right next to the headline is a Reuters photo of Sen. Barack Obama, his head tilted up and eyes gazing toward the heavens. It's an essay by Metro section columnist (and former Post reporter) Donna Britt, part of the Post's ongoing "Being A Black Man" series.
Britt theorized that while white, Latino, and Asian men "have been deemed cool, black men remain cool's most imitated, consistent arbiters. I mean, there's cool -- and then there's brothercool. (Italics hers.) Think of Barack Obama's instantaneous ascension to 'coolest man in Congress.'"
On CBS's "Saturday Early Show," co-anchor Tracy Smith offered a look ahead at the year 2007. The show consulted a set of experts for what would be hot and happening in the new year. In between predictions about a hot stock market and more wines in capped bottles, there were liberal sentiments thrown in, and not just the one where "earthy crunchy" and organic would be in.
Hotline's John Mercurio predicted that Al Gore would get an Oscar nomination for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," which would spur interest in a Gore 2008 presidential campaign. Soul singer Gladys Knight talked gauzily about how we should all show more love and have an end to all wars. Tracy Smith popped back in to applaud a "lovely sentiment from Gladys Knight."
CBS broke into programming at about 10:18 Eastern time to report that Saddam Hussein had been executed. The short Special Report was drily anchored by Katie Couric, but included a brief interview with the typical Democratic expert: Richard Holbrooke, an Assistant Secretary of State and U.N. Ambassador under Bill Clinton. Couric left out the worked-for-Clinton part. Unsurprisingly, Holbrooke said the execution of Saddam would have absolutely no effect on the dire situation in Iraq for President Bush:
“In the long term, it doesn’t change anything…He was a dead man walking. And so in the end for President Bush, Katie, the crisis, this emergency he’s facing, the policies he has to announce shortly, are not going to be changed by what happened today.”