Former ABC reporter Michel Martin has a history of one-sided bashing of Clarence Thomas. In 1994, the reporter then known as Michel McQueen helmed a 60-minute special on the ABC prime-time magazine Turning Point highlighting women who charged Anita Hill was right and Clarence Thomas was wrong. Pro-Thomas colleagues at the EEOC were not interviewed.
Outraged now at the new Clarence Thomas autobiography My Grandfather’s Son, Martin used her new forum, the National Public Radio talk show Tell Me More, to interview Angela Wright, a disgruntled employee that Thomas fired, who then denigrated him on NPR as "a mean-spirited, nasty, you know, fairly unstable person" who carried around "his self-loathing and his hatred for anything black or civil rights-oriented or affirmative action." She claimed that the Democrats never wanted her to testify. But the actual record from the hearing clearly shows that Sen. Joe Biden read a letter to Wright saying he would honor her request if she wished to testify, and then attached a statement from Wright saying "From Angela Wright, 'I agree the admission of the transcript of my interview and that of Miss Jourdain's in the record without rebuttal at the hearing represents my position and is completely satisfactory to me.'"
New York Times media reporter Jacques Steinberg picked up criticism of CBS reporter Rita Braver’s Sunday Morning interview on October 7 with vice presidential wife Lynne Cheney and her continuous conflict of interest with super-lawyer husband Bob Barnett in Thursday’s newspaper. But Steinberg allowed Braver to suggest something untrue: that she’s "stayed away" from Clinton interviews after her husband’s legal work for the Clintons in the White House years:
From September 1993 to August 1997, for example, Ms. Braver covered the Clinton White House; Mr. Barnett recused himself from any legal work related to the Clintons. Since then, Ms. Braver said yesterday, she had "sort of stayed away from the Clintons" in her coverage.
In fact, Rita Braver interviewed Hillary Clinton on November 30, 2003, a few months after her Barnett-negotiated memoir hit the bookstores. Here’s where the Steinberg story gets interesting:
You know The Washington Post is a liberal newspaper when it hails Democratic grande dames -- in the Home section. The lead story in the Thursday section was "Secretary Albright's Sugar Shakers: And Other Significant Parts of Great Women's Houses." Post reporter Annie Groer touted the effects of "great women" like Madeleine Albright. When Albright ran through her official flower budget as U.N. Ambassador, "she pressed her antique sugar shakers into centerpiece duty in New York and later in Foggy Bottom." A large picture of Albright and her shakers dominated the top of the page.
Tuesday’s Metro section of The Washington Post covered a controversy at D.C.’s George Washington University, where fliers appeared on campus blaring "HATE MUSLIMS? SO DO WE!!" Post reporter Susan Kinzie mentioned that the GWU chapter of the conservative Young America’s Foundation denied the posters were theirs, and Kinzie noted that it was probably a prank, since the fine print at the bottom had the words "'Brought to you by Students for Conservativo-Fascism Awareness' -- and a postscript recommending a BBC video on the politics of fear." But while Wednesday’s article in Metro confirmed that it was a prank "produced by students who were attempting to mock those they thought were trying to stir fear of Muslims," YAF wasn’t named anywhere in the article as the vindicated victim.
Jason Mattera of YAF is rightfully upset: "The Post mentions Young America’s Foundation three times, even though the fliers were obvious hoaxes. Yet the paper’s article today explaining that the fliers were fabricated doesn’t mention Young America’s Foundation even once! The Post will report possible incidents of hate speech, but when those incidents turn out to be contrived, the paper doesn’t vindicate those who were targeted!!!"
At the top center spot of Wednesday's front page -- above those debating Republicans -- The Washington Post spotlights its interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton. The headline is "Clinton Cites Lessons of Partisanship: Senator Says She's Best Equipped to Unite America." (Washingtonpost.com changed its header to "Clinton Cites Her Resilience.")
Since when has Hillary been either a uniter, or a centrist? Post reporters Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz offered little skepticism (and no account of her consistently liberal voting record) in their account of her remarks, summed up with this: "I intend to win in November 2008, and then I intend to build a centrist coalition in this country that is like what I remember when I was growing up."
The Washington Post put Latino organizing efforts for illegal immigrants on the front page again Tuesday with the headline “Latinos Unite Across Classes Against Curbs on Immigration.” (The word “illegal” in front of immigration didn’t fit?) Reporter Pamela Constable quoted no one opposed to illegal immigration in her story, but that didn’t mean racist-sounding Americans weren’t quoted. The surprise: the racially insulting quote came from a wealthy Colombian-born businessman, Jose Marinay, who suggested he was scary to white people when he “looked Latino,” dressed down and went unshaven:
"I dress well, and I drive a nice car. But on the weekends, when I am in shorts and sandals and I haven't shaved, I look Latino enough to scare a few folks," Marinay said. "There is a definite chill in the air. We may be a fragmented community, we may eat or celebrate in different places, but now they are looking at us in the same way. If we don't unite and work together, we will all sink."
Remember the media having fits over a Bush for President ad using images of 9/11 in 2004? Now Hillary is exploiting her own heroic breathing-apparatus tale from the 9/11 site in a commercial, and the media aren’t so outraged. But at least Matt Lauer brought it up on Monday morning's Today when Arianna Huffington started lecturing Rudy Giuliani for tragedy exploitation. Laura Ingraham was quick to poke Arianna for a double standard:
HUFFINGTON: I think he should stop running just on 9/11. You know this kind of running theme, especially when you have firefighters and you have rescue workers and their families challenging his leadership after 9/11.
Now, a little more on that new Howard Kurtz book on the anchor battles over egos and ratings. Rachel Sklar at the Huffington Horror House has more dish from Kurtz’s book. "Despite the careful seeding of info, the book itself still remains under wraps, but from the amount we've surveyed (about 7,500 words) it looks to be a thoroughly engrossing, engaging and more than occasionally juicy read." She summarized:
However effective Couric was in the morning, her partner Matt Lauer privately had doubts about how she would do in the 6:30 timeslot — and said so, telling a friend that he didn't think the evening newscast played to Couric's strengths. Oops. Now that's in a book.
In a Fox & Friends segment on Hillary Clinton and her founding of the left-wing group Media Matters, substitute co-host Greg Kelly brought the fair-and-balanced mantra to bear by questioning guest Byron York of National Review about the Media Research Center, suggesting (to gasps at MRC employee breakfast nooks) that these groups are "arguably...the same thing." Luckily, York quickly made one important distinction: MRC mostly monitors "objective" media, while MMFA mostly badgers [and ahem, calls for the firing/censorship of] conservative talk show hosts and other opinion journalists. Here's the exchange:
GREG KELLY: I want to ask you about the Media Research Center. They, arguably, are the same thing as Media Matters, except on the other side. I mean, they tend to go after liberal targets whereas Media Matters tend to go offer conservative targets. Aren’t both sides? – both sides have a media watchdog group.
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz's new book excerpt on the network anchors led with some news in Monday's Post:
Charlie Gibson is a product of the Vietnam War era. When he was a television reporter in Lynchburg, Va., he had driven to Washington on weekends to march in antiwar demonstrations. And he had lost friends in that jungle war.
Now Gibson had friends whose sons were dying in Iraq. His thoughts kept returning to one central question: When you commit kids to war, what are they fighting for? What was the mission in Iraq? How could a family say that the war was worth little Johnny's well-being?
The ABC anchor was obsessed with this point. If you were president, and you decided to go to war, was there a calculus in your mind, that the goal was worth so many American lives? After all, your generals would tell you that X number were likely to die. What was the acceptable trade-off? Gibson's threshold would be one: Was the war worth one life?
Catholic-bashing was in vogue on ABC’s The View on Thursday. St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke’s announcement that he would not offer communion to GOP presidential contender Rudy Giuliani – an ardent supporter of abortion embarking on his third marriage – upset Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg."It seems that the Catholic God always says judge,lest ye be judged," complained Goldberg, who also complained the church should punish proponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war. Even Elisabeth Hasselbeck denounced Archbishop Burke as a publicity hound.
The View crew doesn’t seem to think anyone should be refused communion – even if by rejecting Catholic teachings, politicians like Giuliani and John Kerry are clearly not communing with the faith of their youth. MRC's Justin McCarthy provided the transcript.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back. I don't know if you guys are aware of this, but, you know, often times when our politicians are running, you know, the Church gets a little aggravated with that because there’s quite a few of them have different pasts and sometimes the Church wants them to be more perfect.
During his Monday smackdown on the Laura Ingraham radio show, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin declined to say yes or no when Laura asked him if he had ever met or interviewed Justice Clarence Thomas before he claimed the Justice was "furious all the time." Toobin suggested Laura should ask Thomas. In a soundbite Ingraham aired at the top of the 10 am hour on Thursday, after his hour-long interview was done, Thomas confirmed that he granted no interview to Toobin. Thomas said he "would have no clue" who Toobin was if he saw him on the street.
Deep into his Monday interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm show, Toobin explained the difference between Justice Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia. Thomas was "a nut." He added at show’s end that Thomas’s legal views were "highly unusual and extreme." He also predicted that if elected president, Hillary Clinton would nominate Barack Obama to the Supreme Court, a "political masterstroke" for Hillary since Obama would be an "unassailable nominee."
Newsweek has posted a Hillary Clinton question-and-answer session on their website, selecting eight questions out of "more than 1,000 queries from readers," but the "best questions" Newsweek plucked out of the pile often suggested a hostility to America’s current state under Team Bush, with "huge deficits," a "collapsing" middle class, and a teacher "appalled" at the underfunded No Child Left Behind education plan. One asked how she could convince the "Clinton haters" to leave divisiveness behind. Another wondered whether she would plow on with investigations of the actions of "Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, etc.?" But there were no questions about her Iraq vote, Clinton scandals, or Democrat corruption of any kind.
Newsweek began its Q&A with the explanation: "Last month NEWSWEEK invited readers to submit questions to Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. We received more than 1,000 queries from readers—the bulk of them about Iraq, the economy, health care and education. We forwarded a selection of the best questions to Sen. Clinton. Here are her answers." Left unsaid: Was Hillary handed just these eight inquiries? Or was she allowed to narrow it down further?
Last Thursday, on her new show "Tell Me More," NPR talk show Michel Martin held another one of those non-debates on whether the Republican front-runners should have submitted to the debate organized by leftist PBS host Tavis Smiley. She invited both former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Gingrich pollster Frank Luntz to come on and denounce the GOP no-shows for political stupidity and moral cowardice. Luntz insisted "Tavis Smiley is an incredible host, and he is completely fair." But while Martin pointed out that Smiley had prevailed on Steele to help cajole Republicans to attend for several months, she failed to tell listeners that Luntz was hired by Smiley to do polls after the PBS Democratic candidates debate in June. This is not a little-known fact. Liberal Democrat groups like Media Matters had a fit that Smiley hired a Republican pollster for a Democratic debate, and (unsuccessfully) demanded PBS fix it.
In refusing to interview anyone who felt that PBS and Tavis "George Bush is a serial killer" Smiley were offering a hostile forum for Republicans, Martin merely said the RNC failed to send a spokesman – as if there aren’t many conservatives outside the RNC building on Capitol Hill who would accept that opportunity. That's a lazy way to avoid having a contentious debate, instead of a double-beating.
In my twentysomething days, one of the most infuriating, even sickening cases of media bias was something they inflicted on Clarence Thomas called "the Hill-Thomas hearings." That’s a very bland and generic description for a woman named Anita Hill trying to sabotage the Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court – first anonymously, and then on the record -- by telling wild and unproven stories about the judge’s lewd talk around her.
When I was invited to dine with Clarence and Virginia Thomas and an impressive crew of columnists and bloggers at the Heritage Foundation Monday night, I wasn’t sure what I would ask Justice Thomas if given the chance. I wanted to ask about the media, but Justice Thomas was very clear at the outset of his remarks about the media that’s supposed to know him best. He said "we’re not talking to the Supreme Court reporters." He said that would be like trying to train a pig. It would have been nice to raise Jeffrey Toobin’s forever-furious theories, but I didn’t.
National Public Radio is continuing its historical place as the scene of the original unproven allegations of Anita Hill. NPR's Nina Totenberg broke the story of Hill's unsubstantiated tales of sexual harassment back in 1991. On Monday, NPR talk show host Diane Rehm professed it was "a remarkable thing to say" that Virginia Thomas would dare ask for an apology from Hill. At NPR, they can't even imagine a possibility other than Thomas is a liar. Rehm also wondered if "this kind of fury" from Thomas has biased his court decisions against "the people he calls the liberals who were out to get him." (Audio here.)
Diane Rehm's Monday guests were CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic. (Rehm described them as "two authorities on the Supreme Court," with no troublesome ideological label.) Toobin spurred Rehm's commentary by spinning his wild theory that Thomas was both popular at the Court and simultaneously "furious all the time," and Rehm didn't respond by asking if he'd ever met Thomas:
Update (NB Staff | Oct. 3, 14:55): Ingraham's producer was kind enough to send us an MP3 (14:03 long, 4.82 MB) of the exchange.
On Monday’s Anderson Cooper 360, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin unspooled a wild, unsubstantiated theory that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is "furious all the time" and when Cooper asked if his "hatred of the media" started with the Anita Hill charges, Toobin said that event sent his rage into "the stratosphere." Toobin also criticized CBS for not cross-examining Thomas on sexual harassment on 60 Minutes, when "subsequent evidence" (books by liberal reporters) "generally favors Anita Hill, not him, in what really happened between them."
On Tuesday’s Laura Ingraham show, Toobin accepted an interview invitation, and Ingraham, who was a clerk for Justice Thomas, lit into him about his Cooper interview. She found it "incredibly condescending," and also "appalling and stupid." She asked Toobin if he knew Thomas, and he changed the subject, referring to the theme of anger in his writings and speeches. Later, when Ingraham asked Toobin if he had ever met or interviewed Thomas for his new Supreme Court book, "The Nine," he wouldn’t even say yes or no. (Ingraham took that as a no.)
How can someone who's supposedly a media professional claim without ever meeting someone that they’re "furious all the time" and even "furious his entire life"?
Those people who thought Steve Kroft’s interview with Clarence Thomas on Sunday’s 60 Minutes was not tough enough should remember that Anita Hill received a very gentle 60 Minutes treatment on February 2, 1992. Ed Bradley drew out the disclosure that she was a Democrat, but went on with a set of gooey questions about whether she has Eleanor Roosevelt quotes on her office wall.
CBS made no attempt to investigate Hill's unproven claims. The purpose was public relations. Bradley began: "We haven't heard much from Anita Hill since those hearings, but she's heard a lot from people around the country: more than 30,000 letters of support, many from women who shared their stories with her and let her know she's not alone."
Bradley began by asking Hill: "You've been described as someone who is conservative in your positions. Is that a fair description of you?" In a clever, roundabout answer that any politician would envy, Hill agreed: "I think I am conservative to a number of people because I do have a religious background. I do go to church.
On the September 27 edition of The Situation Room, at the end of an interview with Democratic presidential contender John Edwards on his decision to accept federal matching funds for his campaign, CNN reporter Candy Crowley asked if Edwards agreed with "a lot of people" who think Bush is the worst president ever. That's hardly a tough question, unless you worry about disagreeing publicly with Helen Thomas:
CROWLEY: Has George Bush accomplished anything in office that you approve of?
EDWARDS: That takes a little thinking.
He has raised the amount of money that America is contributing to the global fight on AIDS. He has talked -- in fact, he did it at the United Nations a few days ago -- talked about global poverty. I don't think he has done nearly enough, but he has raised it as a serious issue.
I think those are the two things that come to mind. I mean, I think he has been devastating to America and the world as a president, unprecedented. And I think it is very hard to find good things in a bad batch of bad things.
CROWLEY: A lot of people have said he's the worst president in history. Do you agree?
On Friday morning’s Today, NBC put the thumb-screws on the Republican PBS debate no-shows in a segment with NBC’s Tim Russert and an outraged PBS host Tavis Smiley, who in his outrage over being snubbed, equated himself with history, that skipping his debate was a "watershed moment" in American history. Russert piled on with the same liberal media spin, quoting all the Republicans who said the no-shows were making a huge mistake, that attending was "good politics" – and no Republican holding a contrary opinion.
NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News both brought out their Republicans-might-be-racists handbook and took advantage of PBS’s and Tavis Smiley’s decision to hold a Republican debate on black issues on the last week of the third-quarter fundraising crunch. Instead of trying to negotiate a better time, Smiley and PBS painted Republicans as making a huge and possibly racist mistake. Both networks loaded up on soundbites trashing the GOP frontunners for snubbing minorities and creating an "image problem" for themselves and their party.
On Thursday’s Nightly News, hours before the Smiley debate took place, NBC was already casting the debate’s losers as the no-shows. MRC’s Brad Wilmouth compiled the transcript:
The Clarence Thomas book story wasn’t the weirdest book story on the front page of Saturday's Washington Post. That would be Bob Thompson’s story on presidential daughter Jenna Bush and her new book on an HIV-afflicted single mother titled "Ana’s Story." Here’s the first sentence: "Jenna Bush wants to clear up this pregnancy nonsense right now." Having dropped that bomb of a rumor on page one, the Post then leaves that matter totally unresolved for six paragraphs, until the jump onto page A9:
"‘I’m not pregnant,’ she deadpans, then throws her head back and laughs. Voice raised, she repeats the point for emphasis. [This means the reporter suggested he didn’t believe her?] It’s as if she’s trying to outshout the din of unsought celebrity that has engulfed her since she was in her teens. "I’m not even pregnant!" she says. (Italics theirs.)
The top of Saturday’s Washington Post front page reads "Justice Thomas Lashes Out in Memoir: Book Attacks Liberals and the Media, Breaks Near-Silence on Anita Hill." The story by Robert Barnes, Michael Fletcher, and Kevin Merida begins by describing an "angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media," Democrats and a "mob" of liberal activists. But the reader would be frustrated if he wanted details on the condemnation of the media: it’s never described.
Instead, inside on A7, there are snippets on racism in the Catholic Church, on Anita Hill, on his father, his mother, abortion, and "affirmative action," but no snippet on the media. Did someone edit out the media stuff after the headline and opening were written? We were hoping for some attack snippets on his NPR tormentor, Nina Totenberg.
Many conservatives who feel passionately about reaching out to black voters are infuriated that the Republican front-runners have not consented to a PBS debate hosted by PBS and public-radio talk show host Tavis Smiley. Newt Gingrich assured ABC viewers the other morning that "Tavis Smiley is a very responsible, very clear-cut commentator and analyst. He's going to run a very fair debate." But have these critical voices ever really looked at Smiley’s actual record when it comes to Republicans?
Start with October 24, 2000. Smiley told Geraldo Rivera on CNBC that George W. Bush was a serial killer. "There are, there are some issues on which if you are a voter of color, certainly if you are an African-American, you have a hard time choosing. For example, both of these guys support the death penalty. As far as I’m concerned, Bush in Texas is nothing more than a serial killer." Does Gingrich think that's "responsible" commentary?
The Washington Post placed the O’Reilly soul-food scandalette on the front of the Style section on Thursday. Paul Farhi’s report provided some context to O’Reilly radio-show remarks on the improvement in race relations, but CNN’s Rick Sanchez implied that O’Reilly thinks white women are endangered by sexually overpowering black men. Or at least, that’s what comes through when you use the word "Mandingo," a 1975 movie about a white woman having an affair with a black slave:
Sanchez, in a phone interview, said O'Reilly is perpetuating racism by using "the Mandingo argument" against black rappers. "The idea [is] that there's a big, bad African American out there that we all need protection from," he said. "It's a dangerous way of looking at racial relations. The African American community is extremely complex. The thinking that black culture is confined to guys sticking their underwear out is just wrong, and many African Americans resent it."
Other reports have emerged on Katie Couric’s discussion in Washington with Marvin Kalb on Tuesday night. Couric lamented there was "a lot of undercurrent of pressure not to rock the boat" on the Iraq war. She claimed Time and Newsweek and The Economist were "straight down the middle," and when Kalb suggested that a journalist shouldn’t be in the middle when something is "glaringly wrong," she said "advocacy journalism" was not her role, and claimed she thought it was "grossly inappropriate" to cheer one side. When asked by a student if she was an American first or a journalist first, she ducked like a Clinton: "I’d say an American journalist."
CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric lined up with her hero Hillary Clinton in opposing the current war in Iraq, reports the Washington Examiner:
“Everyone in this room would agree that people in this country were misled in terms of the rationale of this war,” said Couric, adding that it is “pretty much accepted” that the war in Iraq was a mistake.
“I’ve never understood why [invading Iraq] was so high on the administration’s agenda when terrorism was going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that [Iraq] had no true connection with al Qaeda.”
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin added the former Today co-host traced her discomfort with the administration’s march to war back to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Does National Public Radio have a nose for news? Or a nose that's offended by the scent of President Bush? NPR news boss Ellen Weiss has snubbed an exclusive interview opportunity with President Bush. Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz reported Wednesday that the White House offered NPR’s Juan Williams an interview on race relations, but NPR didn’t want it on its airwaves. So it aired instead on the Fox News Channel.
Williams told Kurtz he was "stunned" by NPR's decision. "It makes no sense to me. President Bush has never given an interview in which he focused on race. . . . I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me." Fox was even sharper. "NPR's lack of news judgment is astonishing, and their treatment of a respected journalist like Juan Williams is appalling," said Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti.
In the October 1 issue of Time magazine, TV critic James Poniewozik interviewed PBS star Ken Burns -- star filmmaker, to be sure, but still a star, someone they rush out to Congress at PBS funding time -- and he bashed the Bush administration along a traditional liberal line on the subject of his new World War II documentary. Comparing the sacrifices of that era to now, Poniewozik wrote "Today the government is loath to lay out a price, or ask one." Added Burns:
"People yearn for the memory of shared sacrifice that the Second World War represents," Burns says. "Now we're all free agents. We don't give up nothin'. We were asked after 9/11 to go shopping. It was sort of 'Don't worry your pretty little head about it.'"
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts wondered about game-show bias in their Washington Post gossip column "The Reliable Source" on Tuesday, Drew Carey’s game show in prime time on CBS that asks contestants to guess about polling questions they’ve asked the public:
We always thought Drew Carey was a Republican, but the comedian took a potshot at Jenna Bush during CBS's "Power of 10" game show Sunday night. Carey, who performed at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in 2002, asked a contestant to guess what percentage of American men would not want to be the president's son-in-law. The upside, said Carey: Free rides on Air Force One, dinner at the White House, great networking. "But then, you have to be married to Jenna Bush," he snarked.
I’ve also seen the show’s pollsters ask a contestant to guess what percentage of respondents thought they would get shot by Dick Cheney in a duel, so this isn’t the first time they’ve tweaked the Bush administration.