In schools and colleges across America, teachers and professors recall the "Free Speech Movement" of the hard left at Berkeley in the 1960s. But today's left often shreds that idea in its own intolerant behavior. At Michigan State University, British Nationalist Nick Griffin was shouted down from a speech on the danger of radical Islam. The Lansing State Journal reported: "Hurling obscenities and using chants to interrupt his address, rambunctious student organizations forced Griffin to abandon his speech and allow an informal question and answer session." This liberal quote is a classic:
"We have all come from different backgrounds," said Authra Khreis, 17, a pre-med student and a protester. "We should accept one another. I don't think he should be allowed to speak. You can use free speech until you hurt another person."
In her interview tour of left-wing, Bush-hating Web sites, Valerie Plame threw a bone to Firedoglake (the one that refers to Joe Lieberman as "Rape Gurney Joe" for not forcing Catholic hospitals to provide "emergency contraception" for rape victims). She also granted one to BuzzFlash.com, which just this week awarded its "Wings of Justice" Award to Pete "Bush Is Amused by Soldiers Dying" Stark. She amused them with lines like "I want a t-shirt that says, 'I was slimed by the Republican administration.' You can make a lot of money on that."
But the really interesting section of the interview is her continuing hatred for The Washington Post. (On NBC and elsewhere, she compared the Post editorialists to Pravda, the hoary state propaganda newspaper of the Soviet Union.) Here, the BuzzFlash guru and Plame take turns bashing the Post:
The radical-left Pacifica Foundation's radio stations -- in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, and New York -- draw about a million dollars a year in federal grants through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. What they put on the air can be some pretty strange brew.
On Friday's "Democracy Now" show -- as they led into a discussion of how viciously demagogic and racist were the opponents of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- a rapper blaming the 9-11 attacks as government-detonated was aired. It caught my attention because you seldom hear the words "popping and locking" followed by "Wolfowitz doctrine." The rapper is named Immortal Technique.
Major National Public Radio moneybags Garrison Keillor is up to his usual rhetorical tricks over at Salon, putting on the sardonic tone like a pair of his red sneakers about George Bush's waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq:
I suppose that $8 billion is not so much considering that the war will cost $200 billion this year alone, and yet one is curious to know why the G-men can't find out where it went, at a time when the Current Occupant is so very concerned about keeping medical benefits away from undeserving children. Hundreds of millions paid to the gunslingers of Blackwater, but an American family with a seriously ill child has to tap-dance backward through a gantlet of government forms to prove they really, really, really are desperate.
As the old adage says, the little thieves get hung and the big thieves get richer and richer. When it comes to larceny, it pays to be ambitious.
On last Sunday's Face the Nation, CBS host Bob Schieffer really tried hard to pull back the curtain on Mitt Romney's Mormonism. He pressed on that issue much more so than he would press Hillary Clinton on her Methodism, or Barack Obama on growing up with an atheist mother. For his part, Romney seemed to answer every question about his faith with diversion, suggesting Bob dial up the Home Office in Utah. But Schieffer ended the program expressing his satisfaction, that he knew Romney a little better and that someone's private faith is really not much of a public issue. MRC's Kyle Drennen put together the persistent exchange:
Bob Schieffer: "And good morning again. Surveys show that nearly one American in five is a white Evangelical Christian and almost 60% of those are Republicans. So when a conservative Evangelical group gathered here this weekend, Republican presidential candidates trooped in hoping to win the group's straw poll. Rudy Giuliani stressed his belief in God. Fred Thompson promised his first act as president would be to pray for guidance, John McCain talked about being a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who is also a Baptist minister, stressed values over politics. But it was former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a Mormon, who narrowly edged Huckabee to win the straw poll. Romney's people called it a big boost and for sure it was a surprise.
For the sake of the readers, and their own critical integrity, it's important that newspaper film critics review a movie first as a work of art, and then perhaps assess the political or cultural or moral messages within. A critic can love a film's message and hate its execution, or vice versa. But in Friday's Weekend section of the Washington Post, the critical reaction to two message films -- one vaguely pro-life, and one dramatically pro-gay -- seemed to be based strongly on political criteria. "Bella," the pro-life film, was panned as an "endless" fiasco, and the pro-gay film was "moving...superbly thought out."
When you know, practically from the beginning, what's going to happen at the end of a movie, what do you do with your time in between? Offer to buy everyone in the theater popcorn while you sit this thing out? Check cellphone messages? Catch up on lost sleep?
For years now, Valerie Plame has been the toast of the liberal glitterati, a celebrated combat specialist against the Vast Bush Conspiracy. Every move the former CIA employee has made has oozed political and commercial calculation. She struck a book deal with Simon & Schuster worth more than $2 million. She struck a movie deal based on the book deal with Warner Brothers for millions more, so she can be played as a patriotic heroine on the silver screen by Nicole Kidman or Naomi Watts. How many millions more? Two million? Five million? Don’t wait for the media to ask. They're too busy playing her as victimized.
In the Clinton years, any opponent in a Clinton scandal was assumed to be overwhelmed with greed, desperate to get an agent and make millions with lies about the president, to sell "trash for cash." Since she's been encouraged to wage political war by Hillary Clinton, none of these assumptions have been applied to Valerie Plame, or her husband, Joe Wilson. Here’s a rundown of the Plame interviews and the number of questions about the Wilsons making millions:
Thursday’s Washington Post front page featured a laudatory profile of hard-charging partisan House Government Reform Committee chairman Henry Waxman. Reporter Jonathan Weisman hailed the liberal veteran from Beverly Hills as a “tireless” bright spot for House Democrats. The only Republican quotes used by Weisman underlined how impressive Waxman was. Ten years ago, when conservative Dan Burton rose to the Government Reform committee chairmanship, a front-page profile was exactly the opposite. Burton was portrayed by fellow Republicans as “this kind of crazy life insurance salesman.”
Weisman’s Waxman profile has a “God, I admire you” tone throughout:
Waxman has become the Bush administration's worst nightmare: a Democrat in the majority with subpoena power and the inclination to overturn rocks. But in Waxman the White House also faces an indefatigable capital veteran -- with a staff renowned for its depth and experience -- who has been waiting for this for 14 years.
These days, the 16-term congressman is always ready with a hearing, a fresh crop of internal administration e-mails or a new explosive report. And he has more than two dozen investigations underway, on such issues as the politicization of the entire federal government...”
The spectacle that is the Clinton marriage continues to raise eyebrows. The London Daily Mail seemed surprised at excerpts of Hillary Rodham Clinton's interview with Essence magazine, now up on their website. She called her marriage an "investment," but didn't use the word "love" to describe it:
On her marriage: “I know the truth of my life and of my marriage, my relationship and partnership, my deep abiding friendship with my husband. It's been enormously supportive to me through most of my life. Now obviously we've had challenges as everybody in the world knows. “But I never doubted that it was a marriage worth investing in even in the midst of those challenges,” she says, “and I'm really happy that I made that decision. Again, not a decision for everybody. And I think it's so important for women to stand up for the right of women to make a decision that is best for them.”
Tom Brady is the glitzy quarterback of the NFL's flashiest undefeated juggernaut, the New England Patriots. But columnists seem to be plopping Brady into several different political slots. On the ESPN website, former Newsweek writer Gregg Easterbrook wrote of how he saw the matchup between the Indianapolis Colts (good guys) and the Patriots (dishonesty, arrogance, hubris), and somehow, surprise, the liberal writer finds that dishonest hubris translates well to Cheney:
The team's star, Tom Brady, is a smirking sybarite who dates actresses and supermodels but whose public charity appearances are infrequent. That constant smirk on Brady's face reminds one of Dick Cheney; people who smirk are fairly broadcasting the message, "I'm hiding something."
As Valerie Plame does the interview rounds – CBS, NBC, CNN, NPR – someone might miss the far-left, Bush-hating blog interviews. On Firedoglake, the most notable pro-Plame blog, Plame did a typewritten chat with her leftist admirers on Monday. She loved the leftist bloggers at FDL – even had them to her home for dinner -- and declared her interviews on CBS and NBC were fair. Her husband, Joe Wilson, popped in to suggest that two people convinced the Wilsons to fight the pernicious far right: Sidney Blumenthal – and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former Watergate figure John Dean also popped in – to suggest Plame could be Hillary’s CIA Director.
Don Feder doesn't take Ann Coulter seriously "as an evangelist," but "no one can get the left going like Ann." He captures some stunning Coulter-hatred in the media.
The piece de hysteria (believe me, the competition was stiff) was a column by L.A. Times media critic Tim Rutten, who darkly warned that, "The rails leading to Auschwitz were greased by precisely the opinion Coulter expressed on American television this week."
Rutten -- who's saying that evangelizing facilitates genocide -- needs to be kept away from a keyboard, for his own safety.
Journalists often the define the news as a "man bites dog" story. In that case, what about when an abortionist kills the woman seeking an abortion? Our "pro-choice" media is allergic to occasions when this occurs. (Remember Holly Patterson? Most don't. Some older examples are in here.) Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.com reports on the latest example from Massachusetts, and the extremely slow media reaction:
The mainstream media has finally reported on the case of a Massachusetts woman who died from a legal abortion there. LifeNews.com first brought the case to light when pro-life groups told the news service about 22-year-old Laura Hope Smith, who died after visiting the Women Health Center, an abortion business.
Laura Smith was the Honduran-born daughter whom Eileen and Tom Smith adopted at the age of five.
Two years ago, Time magazine did a story implying China was selling out on dictator Mao Zedong's communist legacy -- with a picture of Mao covered in Louis Vuitton bag logos. So it's a bit strange to turn around to the back cover of the October 29 edition of Time and see an ad that's -- why, it's former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev selling Louis Vuitton bags. Oh, how the anti-capitalist idealism is dwindling in Time's Man of the Decade!
The ad features a photo of Gorby in a car near the Berlin Wall, fancy bag by his side. The text says:
A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.
Berlin Wall. Returning from a conference.
The bold text is theirs. Underneath comes a note of disclosure: "Mikhail Gorbachev and Louis Vuitton are proud to support Green Cross International."
An update on an earlier Rush Limbaugh post: On her blog at Salon, Joan Walsh reports that the charge from New York magazine's David Edelstein’s suggestion that Rush Limbaugh had threatened Time’s Richard Corliss in 1995 with an old porn piece in the leftyVillage Voice drew a very hostile e-mailed cry of "BS!" from Corliss. Wrote Walsh:
I saw the post Wednesday night and was about to link to it, but I decided to track down Corliss for comment first. He strenuously denies Edelstein's claim. Here's what he e-mailed:
"The David Edelstein column, as it relates to me, is total [B.S.], unfounded and irresponsible. Rush Limbaugh never called me, ever, and never uttered a hostile word in my direction. He certainly never defamed me, which leaves him one up on Edelstein.
Monday’s Washington Post carried a long, splashy article on the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife, major conservative philanthropist (and backer of the MRC, truth be told). The joy in Scaife’s misfortune was hardly hidden. The headline was “Low Road to Splitsville: Right-Wing Publisher's Breakup Is Super-Rich In Tawdry Details.” Reporter David Segal’s article began and ended with the gimmick that the divorce was so entertaining that you should literally pack a lunch and travel to Pittsburgh to watch it. Most of the details were personal, except for this bizarre paragraph about Scaife’s alleged philanthropic failures:
When he isn't tending to this modest publishing empire, he's underwriting what Hillary Clinton once called "a vast right-wing conspiracy." His highest-profile expenditure is the $2.3 million he gave the American Spectator magazine in the mid-'90s, to try to unearth prurient and embarrassing details about Bill Clinton's years as governor of Arkansas. (The magazine came up virtually empty-handed.)
National political reporters and pundits have often forwarded preposterous-sounding reports about one of the biggest political problems that Bill and Hillary Clinton have: their spectacle of a marriage. That's why it's so interesting that Newsweek (one of those shameless outlets that wrote of how the devoted Clintons "don't kiss, they devour each other") would feature a page on biographer Sally Bedell Smith's new book on the Clinton marriage, For Love and Politics. (And that Smith had a rough time getting Hillary nuggets out of the Clinton Presidential Library.) NBC's Ann Curry also interviewed her on Friday's Today. MRC's Justin McCarthy jotted down the good parts:
CURRY: You found something pretty interesting. Not only evidence of Hillary's early ambitions from very young to run for president. But also you say on one page here that Hillary had to sign off on all the big decisions that her husband made as president. Now, how do you know that?
The national media completely obsessed over Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, conducting an amazing propaganda campaign which suggested a la Kanye West that George Bush hated black people, demonstrated it by the government's "neglect." They paid little attention to the incompetence of state and local officials, like Gov. Kathleen Blanco. She was so tarred by her response that she didn't even run for re-election.
Yesterday, Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal, who lost to Blanco by four points in 2003, easily won the governor's race. Bobby who? That's right, the national media that obsessed over this area (and we mean you, Brian Williams, and you, Anderson Cooper) hasn't exactly been all over this post-Katrina story. Don't believe it's the victory margin. Dare we suggest that Jindal's status as an Indian-American person "of color" is an inconvenient topic for the liberal media?
This week's column on entertainment and culture issues from Brent Bozell focused on how King Middle School in Portland has agreed to allow its health center to offer contraceptives -- even pills and the patch -- to middle-schoolers without parental knowledge or consent. Brent borrowed from the Good Morning America debate segment Scott Whitlock blogged where the anything-goes blond hottie favoring sex among children (Logan Levkoff) said she would draw no limits at grade-school contraceptive distribution. She said you had to buy "protection" for the kids when they're bombarded with sexual messages. (Like "Desperate Housewives"? Or even the Geico Caveman comedy?)
Glenn Beck was great in mocking the Permissives in that debate: "The library is outdated, why don't we have a copulation room for the kids?"
The Saturday New York Times story on Rush Limbaugh’s eBay auction misconstrued his "phony soldiers" comment in the opening – and mysteriously, allowed Limbaugh to make his point about how it was a literal meaning about men who falsified a combat history, in paragraph 12. Stephanie Strom’s story began:
After Rush Limbaugh referred to Iraq war veterans critical of the war as "phony soldiers," he received a letter of complaint signed by 41 Democratic senators. He decided to auction the letter, which he described as "this glittering jewel of colossal ignorance," for charity, and he pledged to match the price, dollar for dollar.
Later in the piece, Strom added context, quoting Harry Reid, but only vaguely summarizing Limbaugh, without even using names like "Jesse Macbeth."
He predicted that the sale’s success would anger one signer of the letter, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, whom Mr. Limbaugh calls Dingy Harry.
Newspapers are supposed to be so much better at television at providing hard facts and context to today’s news. That’s not what the Washington Post did on Saturday in a snarky Style section article on Rush Limbaugh raising $2.1 million on eBay (and donating the same amount) to a worthy charity auctioning off Senator Harry Reid’s snotty letter to Clear Channel Communications denouncing Rush Limbaugh’s remarks about phony soldiers like Jesse Macbeth.
Neely Tucker’s short piece failed to explain the context of (a) what Rush originally said on the air about phony soldiers and (b) what Reid’s letter to Clear Channel said about they should "publicly repudiate" Limbaugh for his comments. The Post tried to discount the whole affair as "petty bickering about patriotism" and "grandstanding." Here’s the whole (brief, context-challenged) article, that came with a "Limbaugh Spins Reid's Letter Into Charity Gold" headline:
Little Green Footballs seized on a video "op-ed" posted on the New York Times website, six minutes of clips from a documentary called Meeting Resistance by Molly Bingham and Steve Connors, interspersed with anti-"occupation" text. LGF asks: "How low can the New York Times Go?" Airing what looks like a "commercial for Iraqi terrorists."
Bingham, an heiress to the Louisville newspaper dynasty, was Vice President Gore's official photographer from 1998 to 2001 and is best known for being taken hostage briefly while working as a photographer in Iraq. At the promotional website meetingresistance.com, the film is praised by former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal: "THIS BREAKTHROUGH FILM, the single most astonishing documentary yet on the Iraq war, portrays a full range of insurgents .... explaining their motives and actions, from the first days of the insurgency onward."
In New York magazine, film critic David Edelstein (not to be confused with L.A. film critic David Ehrenstein, the man who launched the "Magic Negro" controversy) whacked away at Rush Limbaugh’s "freaky and terrifying" and even "psychopathological" story of how he intimidated a journalist by threatening to go into his personal life and his past writings.
Edelstein is scared by a Media Matters item on how Limbaugh criticized the new ProPublica investigative journalism group and its search for exposés with "moral force" – Rush made the point that investigative journalists have their own foibles that no one exposes – and said he once threatened a news magazine cover story writer that he could dish dirt back at him. Edelstein charged that Limbaugh was intimidating Time's Richard Corliss, who in return offered a "rather gentle" treatment of Limbaugh:
In Time's 'Verbatim' section on page 21 this week, our democratically elected government is scolded by a former dictator of the former Soviet Union as he visited post-Katrina New Orleans:
'If things haven't changed by our next visit, we may have to announce a revolution.'
-- MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, former Soviet leader, on the slow recovery efforts in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward
Time left out a quote that followed, according to AP: "No matter the flooding and the hurricane, the red tape and bureaucracy survive," he said. Time doesn't ponder how long it might take the Russian government (or took the old U.S.S.R.) to dig out of disasters -- like Chernobyl. But they were always deeply impressed by Gorbachev, who they named "Man of the Decade" at the end of the 1980s, in an oh-so-obvious snub of Ronald Reagan.
From the Downfalls of Centrist Labeling Department: An MRC colleague E-mails his amazement at the Washington Post's World News section: "The head of China is a middle-of-the-roader according to Sunday’s Post. I guess a middle-of-the-road totalitarian dictator."
The headline to Edward Cody's piece on Hu Jintao and the current Communist Party's National Congress was "Hu Set for Second Term at China's Helm: Political Middle-of-the-Roader Has Limited Reform Efforts to Economic Sphere." The story goes from page A-20 across to page A-21, where the headline is "Hu Poised for Five More Years Steering China on Centrist Track."
Using the same ideological labels for communist countries that you try to use in Western democracies is inherently frustrating. It's not like Hu Jintao is leading China on a Clinton-style Third Way corporate-liberal program, where Jesse Jackson would be denouncing his allies in "Communists for the Leisure Class."
As NBC’s Today reported from Chicago on Monday, they went a little overboard in playing up Hillary’s Chicago credentials – especially her Chicago Cub fan credentials. It’s a little odd for NBC to tout her as a Cub fan just a few weeks after NBC’s Tim Russert asked her in a September 26 debate who she would root for in a potential Cubs-Yankees World Series and she straddled: "I would probably have to alternate sides." The Russert exchange was omitted from the gooey story oozing that "Not since Abraham Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas have two Illinois homegrowns drawn so much attention."
Matt Lauer welcomed viewers to Chicago and strangely and inaccurately claimed Hillary is "these days" claiming Chicago as her home: "Welcome to a split edition of our show on this Monday morning from New York and Chicago. Of course they call this place the Windy City but it's not because of the weather, it's because some long-winded politicians. And these days two very prominent politicians are calling this place home, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And that's made for some tough choices among the locals. NBC's Lee Cowan joins us now to find out if either of these people has a home-field advantage. Lee, good morning to you."
Hillary Clinton arrived for another soft-soap interview with the women of The View on ABC Monday, delighting the cast with a pledge that if she's elected, "the era of cowboy diplomacy is over." She told Elisabeth Hasselbeck her policy on interrogations is "We do not condone or conduct torture....Because that gives us a lot of moral authority, which we have lost, unfortunately." The cast was also touched by her standard campaign boilerplate that women in their 90s want to see her be president, and parents point to her and tell their daughters that they can be anything.
When Hillary declared an end to "cowboy diplomacy," an old liberal phrase often deployed against Ronald Reagan, the View crew was delighted, as if they'd never heard that before:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: So what are the first three things for you that you see most important?
On Monday’s edition of "The View" on ABC, Barbara Walters despaired that Ann Coulter is getting any attention for her religion remarks on CNBC last week. When Whoopi Goldberg suggested she get an invite to the show, Walters yelled "No! No! No!" She declared "there are so many wonderful, fascinating people on this show, and we don't have time for all of them. So I'd rather have positive, rather than controversial, rather than negative."
Walters also expressed her displeasure that a Jewish man was dating Coulter. "Doesn’t he care? Doesn’t it matter?" Joy Behar agreed with the insult: "This a woman who thinks 'Schindler's List' is a comedy, okay?"
Time's "Ten Questions" interview feature is offered to presidential daughter Jenna Bush this week. The questions are now selected from reader questions, including (sigh) Bush-whacking liberals from San Francisco:
If the war in Iraq is so noble, why aren't you and your sister serving our country there? —Donald Pence, San Francisco
I understand that point, but there are many ways to serve our country, and I think my skills are better suited for teaching and representing the U.S. in Latin America through UNICEF. I respect the men and women of our country who are over there fighting. It is an unbelievably selfless thing to do. But if people really thought about it, they would know it's not even a practical question.
TV Newser reports "NBC News has released details of Matt Lauer's weekend interview with Sen. Larry Craig. The interview will air in a Matt Lauer Reports special tomorrow night at 8pmET on NBC and on the Today show Wednesday morning." The airport bathroom sting, worthy of prime time? (UPDATE: It was promoted in Monday's prime time, as the picture shows.)
Did NBC take Patrick Kennedy's Ambien Driving Tour into prime time? Will NBC have a prime-time interview with Rep. William Jefferson on his bribe money in the freezer? Lauer doesn't usually show up in prime time unless he's interviewing Britney Spears. How can the NBC News folks not look partisan in putting this in prime time?
A quick Nexis shows the Today show has never aired more than a brief anchor-read story on May 27, 2006 on William Jefferson’s bribery scandal….but they’re hounding Craig. By contrast, in August 2007, in the first seven days of the Craig scandal, Today mentioned Craig in the show’s opening six of seven days (every day from Tuesday through Sunday), and aired ten reports or interviews and another six anchor briefs.