Time magazine performed a wee bit better than Newsweek on the Patrick Kennedy front this week. They carry an actual (albeit brief) article by Karen Tumulty in the "NoteBook" section up front. But they also have to spend several pages lionizing ex-President Clinton (in this case, for the "Landmark Soda Agreement.") Tumulty’s piece on Patrick has that familiar poor-wasted-promise theme to it. It concluded:
Kennedy told TIME in 2001 that while privacy would be his "ultimate luxury," there were advantages to having the details of his life be public grist. "It makes you honest about your frailties because – guess what? – you’ve got to get to a place where you can deal with them," he said. "There’s no running away from them in this business." Certainly not if you’re a Kennedy.
Fishbowl NY reports that Katie Couric has already displayed one apparently required tendency of a CBS anchor. You must genuflect and pay great homage to the CBS anchor-god named Edward R. Murrow. Her appearance at the Time 100 dinner last night went as follows:
Latecomer Katie Couric skipped cocktails and arrived at 10:00 p.m. just before accepting her inclusion on the Time 100. She prefaced her remarks by saying "I'm worthless without a TelePrompter" before toasting Edward R. Murrow as having the greatest influence on her. "We were all reminded [this year of how] he was such a journalistic giant."
As the polls are gloomy and gloomier for President Bush, it’s time for giddy-Democrat stories. On the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times, reporter Robin Toner’s story is headlined "Optimistic, Democrats Debate the Party’s Vision: Seeking Big Goals and a Clear Alternative to Conservatism." Big goals for government, the opposite of anti-statist conservatism...wouldn’t that be defined as....liberalism?
The L-word does appear a few times, but without much sense of the socialist, soft-on-defense, and libertine-left impulses that drive independent voters into voting Republican. Liberals in the piece are clearly calling for a return to Old Liberalism of the mid-20th century: the Democrats need "a broader vision, a narrative, they say, to return to power and govern effectively – what some describe as an unapologetic appeal to the ‘common good,’ to big goals like expanding affordable health coverage and to occasional sacrifice for the sake of the nation as a whole."
This week's edition of Newsweek was the first magazine to land in our mailbox yesterday, and it probably goes without saying that there is no major Patrick Kennedy coverage in it. In fact, there's just this: a brief mention in the "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box with the note: "Bad news: Woozy wee-hour car wreck sends him to rehab. Good news: Nobody died." And this quote on the "Perspectives" page (number five): "I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions...That's not how I want to live my life...I know that I need help."
That's it. Newsweek's editors could say there was little room for the story to breathe, what with a massive cover story package on AIDS, in which Newsweek acts like a complete copycat of Time magazine by honoring Bill Clinton and Melinda Gates with self-promoting columns. (Clinton's is "Editor's Choice" on the website.) But look at what else they have room for:
On Saturday, The New York Times and the Washington Post had the same idea: line up average Americans to suggest any emerging macroeconomic happy talk is ignoring how "many people" are still feeling an economic pinch.
The Post put theirs on Page One, the Times on A-10. The Post headline was "Rising Expenses Have Consumers Feeling Pinched." The Times headline was "Despite a Sound Economy, Many Feel the Pinch of Daily Costs." (Online, it’s "Statistics Aside, Many Feel the Pinch of Daily Costs.") So the Post wins for pushing the theme harder, but the theme still suggests newspaper editors who are trying to throw mud pies at Pollyanna before anyone gets too thrilled with the macroeconomic picture.
In his weekly Monday "Media Notes" digest in the Washington Post Style section, Howard Kurtz digs into a little content analysis as to how the national newspapers haven't been too harsh on Congressman Patrick Kennedy's troubled past, dating back to disclosures in 1991 that he had abused cocaine, through his several embarrassing incidents in 2000:
Relatively little of this drew significant national coverage. Among the brief mentions in the New York Times, a 2002 piece on Kennedy's reelection campaign included a paragraph on his personal problems, quoting the congressman as saying: "If you are a Kennedy, people always make more of such things than really exists, and the true Kennedy haters just won't let go of it."
As a follow-up to yesterday's item on Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and his new book championing Franklin Roosevelt, we peek at the Washington Post's Sunday book review by historian Alonzo Hamby. Is this company policy? After all, the Post and Newsweek are kissing corporate cousins. (One clue: Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's book also receives the book review today -- two weeks after his big authored piece in the Sunday Outlook section.) The Hamby review is mixed, but here's where the sterner words come in:
On Day Three of the unfolding Patrick Kennedy story, the Washington Post moves it off the front page and into classic smooth-it-over mode. The story from Pawtucket, reported by David Fahrenthold, is headlined "At Home, Cynicism and Support: Many of Kennedy's Constituents Suspect Story but Don't Mind."
Fahrenthold began: "The bad news for Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy: The voters of Rhode Island do not, by and large, seem to believe his version of what led to a car crash early Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol." (He quotes male nurse Michael Rossi saying he believes the problem was alcohol, not presciption drugs. "Now the good news for Kennedy: The voters of Rhode Island -- including Rossi -- also don't seem to care."
It can't be argued that the Patrick Kennedy adventure on wheels is being ignored by the media. But part of the coverage has been suffused in a bit of overweening Kennedy-dynasty sympathy. Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank, who danced a jig of mockery in orange hunter clothes over Dick Cheney's shooting accident, wrote in Saturday's Washington Post about the "miserable character" who suffered after the crash:
Kennedy tried to ignore the din of shouted questions as he walked to the door, but he couldn't avoid the woman in the front row who asked if he would resign. He shook his head. "I need to stay in the fight," he said. Then the latest victim of the Kennedy Curse disappeared. On the decorative bookshelf behind the lectern where he spoke, there was still a copy of the Warren Commission's report on his uncle's assassination.
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter has a new book out on the glories of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, so it's natural that he would be offered an interview on NBC's "Today" to promote it. On Tuesday morning, in the 9 am hour, news anchor Ann Curry helped guide Alter through the promoting:
Curry: "Roosevelt's optimism created what Newsweek columnist and NBC News contributor Jonathan Alter calls the defining moment, "FDR's Hundred Days And The Triumph Of Hope." It also happens to be the title of his new book. Jonathan, pleasure, good morning...."You know Roosevelt calls March '33 his 'rendezvous with destiny.' What made him so good at sparking optimism at a time when there was great depression, really?"
Alter: "You have to, you have to remember this was the bottom. And this was worse than 9/11 for people who remembered it and talked to me about it. If you had put your money in the wrong bank and 10,000 banks went out of business you were done. People now when they say they're broke, they, they say, 'well I've got $5000.' This is like $5 left buried under the mattress. And so when Roosevelt said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, it wasn't true. People actually had a lot to fear about how they were gonna put food on the table. But he was able to create this sense of hope that there was a future and it saved, this is hard for us to believe, but it saved both democracy and capitalism within just a few weeks because at that time dictatorship had a positive connotation and a lot of people wanted it."
While President Bush battles the international Islamic jihad, and the networks warn almost daily that his approval ratings are terrible, President Clinton draws coos and congrats for solving the really big issues -- like making sure your kids can't destroy their lives by purchasing a Cherry Coke at school.
On Wednesday, CNN was hyping live coverage of the Miniature-Issues President taking on school soft-drink policies. By Thursday, MRC's Geoff Dickens informed me that NBC was so impressed by his life-saving prowess as ex-president that they were wondering if it outclassed his presidency. Perish the thought:
Ann Curry: "And former President Clinton is speaking out about his mission to end childhood obesity and the plan to eliminate sugary soft drinks from schools. He spoke to NBC's science correspondent Robert Bazell."
As if you needed more proof that the New York Times is a newspaper for liberal Democrats, by liberal Democrats, their "TimesTalks" series continues on Sunday, June 4 with a "Sunday With The Magazine" event. In a colorful full-page ad on the back of the B section Friday, the Times promises "today's most authoritative leaders in important discussions about the way live now." It's one thing to guess the Times staffers are going to be liberal. There's one chat with Magazine "ethicist" Randy Cohen ("How We Think And Act"), and there's a panel of Times writers and contributors on "How We See The War In Iraq" (which could be subtitled: "As A Vietnam Sequel.") But the Democrats are officially on the docket in the "How We Govern" segment (with Howard Dean) and the "How We Save the World" segment (with Madeleine Albright). The ad boasts the two interviews:
Feminist anthems still draw rave reviews. On Thursday morning's "Today," singer Helen Reddy was scheduled for an interview on her new memoir. As "I Am Woman" played in the background, Katie Couric explained how she knew every word of the song and it "shaped me in a lot of ways." News anchor Ann Curry interviewed Reddy and echoed the swooning: "Oh, that song still gives me the chills."
Coming into the 8:30 half hour, MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed Katie Couric announced over the Reddy song and the outside crowd noise:
Katie Couric: "Matt I'm sure you have this one on your iPod don't you? This of course is Helen Reddy's I Am Woman. When it first came out in 1972 it became an anthem for the women's movement and for feminists everywhere and I have a confession to make."
Via FishbowlNY, we learn that actor Richard Dreyfuss is currently studying civics and democracy at the University of Oxford (following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton?), and he's grown hopping mad at media bias: the pro-Bush kind. It has been "sacrificing accuracy and impartiality for sensationalism and instant gratification."
He "expressed alarm that a few big media corporations control most of the news the general public has access to. Dreyfuss, who is a longtime political activist, has also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and lent his support to a campaign calling for the impeachment of US President George W. Bush." Dreyfuss is then quoted at length, or perhaps in short bursts:
I told her the Gingrich revolution was a fraud. Arianna had signed on for the part of the revolution that wanted to unravel the social safety net and replace it with faith-based programs. She took the mission very seriously but soon discovered that the Gingrich Republicans did not. "Effective compassion" was just a fig leaf for closing down the Department of Education, cutting Medicare and getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Time's special issue on the 100 most influential people is a bit of promotional popcorn, allowing celebrities and statesmen to praise each other for their brilliance and good works (for example, Les Gelb flatters Condi Rice, Condi Rice flatters Oprah, Oprah flatters author Elie Wiesel). So it shouldn't be surprising that the magazine that made endangered Earth its "Planet of the Year" and used to beg routinely for punishing gas tax hikes allowed Al Gore to both be praised and offer praise on planetary matters. "There could hardly be a more opportune time for the country to be giving Gore another look," cooed the magazine.
When Washington Post reporters try to deny they work for a liberal newspaper, you can also cite stories like Peter Baker's Wednesday story on Bush "inconsistency" over a Spanish version (or blurry rewrite) of the National Anthem. You might call it the Span-them. Baker doesn't see controversy in the Spanish singers changing all the lyrics around, or wondering whether illegal immigrants are insulting the vast English-speaking majority. No, the controversy is all from the viewpoint (and the research) of the "Center for American Progress," a Clintonoid think tank/oppo project.
Baker claimed "all sides are scrutinizing the words and records of the president and other politicians for signs of inconsistency," but he was much more interested in the liberal side.
Via Romenesko, we learn that long-time "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw was making some wild claims Monday night at a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper reported he "begged the audience to put partisanship aside while the nation is at war," which the media certainly haven't. He "defended his profession against those who suggest journalists have not been balanced in covering the war and have ignored certain stories." He claimed there's mutual respect between journalists and soldiers, and while they may not always see the world "through the same prism," they have other similarities:
"We (both) live unconventional lives, we like to live off the land," he said. "Most of all, we like to get the bad guys and point out where evil is," Brokaw said.
Yesterday's May Day protests for amnesty for illegal aliens received broad, prominent, and positive coverage in the Washington Post Tuesday morning -- a fraction, certainly, of the enormous coverage of April 11, but still signaling the issue's importance in the diversity-conscious Post newsroom. Once again, the liberal bias came through: there were no liberal labels for any activist at the protest, no use of the word "amnesty" in the coverage, and no mention of what speakers said at the protest rallies. One story noted protesters chanted in Spanish "Bush, listen, we are committed to the struggle!" And, perhaps, most importantly: critics of illegal immigration appeared almost nowhere in any of this coverage. (Correction: I originally claimed critics were nowhere, but Clay Waters noted Rep. Tom Tancredo is quoted via Reuters in paragraph 12 of the Fears-Williams overview. My apologies for the error.)
Washington Post congressional reporter Shailagh Murray was blunt about America's energy problems in her Monday "Post Politics Chat": While most of the media is decrying "pain at the pump," Murray worried that "making gas cheaper only makes matters worse." A questioner complained about an earlier answer, in which Murray insisted her experience told her the price of crude oil is about supply and demand, and not who's president:
I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think the price of crude oil has much to do with who occupies the White House. As a former Wall Street Journal reporter, I fall back on the simple supply and demand principle. People want to drive SUVs. A gazillion highway lanes are being built in China. Limited supplies of crude oil, whatever happens with ANWR. Of all the things to be surprised about, high gas prices should not be one of them.
Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin filed a Monday story from the New Orleans Jazzfest this weekend. Late in the story, she noted rock star Bruce Springsteen "delivered a scathing assessment of President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina." Having surveyed the city on Saturday, he said "The criminal ineptitude makes you furious. This is what happens when political cronyism guts the very agencies that are supposed to serve American citizens in times of trial and hardship." The federal government is shoveling billions and billions to New Orleans and liberals are still saying the agencies are "gutted."
Eilperin wrote that Springsteen played a two-hour set Sunday night that included a rewritten version of the folk song "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" with new Katrina-response lyrics:
Roger Friedman, who writes the "Fox 411" for FoxNews.com, reported Saturday that Barbara Walters decided to pick Rosie O'Donnell to replace Meredith Vieira after being touched to tears at a screening of Rosie's documentary about her gay-family cruises. (Update: The New York Times confirms today. See below.)
Friedman began with the note that O'Donnell's contract apparently states she cannot chop off her hair to look "butch" as she did at the bitter, back-biting end of her last daytime talk show. It should be noted that Friedman doesn't nail every detail in his report, since he calls Elisabeth Hasselbeck "Debbie." Is he still remembering the long-departed first "View" co-host to get the boot, Debbie Matenopoulos? Here's a sample of his take:
You may wonder when and how this arrangement with "The View" came about. I was not surprised to be told that it all occurred on the night that HBO screened Rosie and her partner Kelli’s documentary about their gay family cruise line about a month ago. I distinctly recall Barbara Walters coming out of the screening room, wiping tears from her eyes. It was quite obvious as the mother of an adopted daughter, she was incredibly moved.
I'm enjoying Ramesh Ponnuru's new book "The Party of Death," particularly its chapter on the media, "Scribes of the Party of Death." (And that's not just because Ramesh cites my study with Rich Noyes on partial-birth abortion coverage, and how the networks rarely explain what on Earth happens in one.) This is a great line about the New York Times: "The kids at Hogwarts speak the name of Voldemort more freely than the Times editors use the phrase partial-birth abortion." Ramesh brings in his media-elite expert:
Longtime Newsweek correspondent Kenneth Woodward points out that if the editors of the Times really believe the phrase should be avoided because it's not a medical term, they should also remove references to "heart attacks" from their pages as well. If they want to avoid it because one side of the debate objects to it, "female genital mutilation" would have to go as well. The result is not only confusing stories; it is, as Woodward writes, that "every story is framed as a narrative of assault on Roe v. Wade."
Ultraliberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, perhaps best known to TV/political junkies as an on-air sparring partner of William F. Buckley, has died at the age of 97. I remember seeing the two spar over one of the party conventions on the "Today" show way back when. (I'm guessing it was 1980.) Can you imagine "Today" hosting two intellectuals having a little debate around the conventions today? Today's morning-show world is more likely to be devoted to plastic convention publicity schticks like Republican rappers (remember TRQ, anyone?) and precocious, mop-headed eight-year-old Democrats.
The New York Times greeted Galbraith's death with the headline "Economist Held a Mirror to Society." Apparently, if you believe capitalism is all about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, and you believe avidly in massive government intervention in the economy, you "hold a mirror to society." Or at least a mirror to the face of the New York Times.
The Washington Post lived up to its typical pattern in coverage of economic good news Saturday morning. The fastest economic growth in several years was banished to D-1 again. While the Post put two bad-news-for-Bush stories on Iraq and terrorism on page 1, it put victories against al-Qaeda in Iraq on page A-10.
On D-1, the Post story acknowledged "Economic Growth Surges to 4.8%." Fred Barbash and Bill Brubaker noted "It was the hottest annualized pace for the gross domestic product in 2 and a half years." That news wasn't even mentioned on the front page. The "Inside" box touted two other, less stunning Business items from D-1:
-- "Pentagon Halts Clearances: High demand and a budget shortfall are blamed for putting security checks for 3,000 contractors on hold."
The Washington Post showed its liberal colors Saturday morning by running this copy in their "Inside" text box. "Rush Limbaugh Arrested: The talk radio icon surrenders on a charge of committing fraud to obtain prescription drugs." The headline for the story on the front of the Style section was also suggestive: "Rush Limbaugh Turns Himself In On Fraud Charge In Rx Drug Probe." The online link was "Limbaugh Charged With Prescription Drug Fraud," accurate but incomplete.
A casual reader of headlines could easily conclude that Limbaugh was admitting guilt, with words like "surrenders" and "turns himself in." But it was a part of a deal with no admission of guilt. The story by Peter Whoriskey noted: "The agreement is not an admission of guilt to the charge." A less inflammatory set of headlines would have said "Prosecutors, Limbaugh Strike Deal."
National Public Radio offers a natural book-buying audience for ultraliberal Sen. Ted Kennedy as he sells his new tome, titled "America Back On Track." On yesterday's nationally syndicated "Diane Rehm Show," NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook sat in for Rehm. The show should have been called "The Senate Floor," since Kennedy's answers routinely went beyond two minutes and started sounding like floor speeches, as Seabrook deferentially waited for Kennedy to come up for air.
For example, Seabrook's second question was simple: "How did America get off track?" Kennedy offered a windy two-minute attack/answer about George Bush and Karl Rove's "politics of fear," as well as darkness, division, and personal destruction, just to round it out:
I caught Wednesday’s edition of “The Daily Show” on rerun, specifically a segment on gas prices with Wall Street Journal writer Rebecca Strassel. After fussing at those excessive oil company profits, host Jon Stewart joked that she felt like “you’re talking to a retarded person,” then insisted (with some self-deprecation) “The important thing is my visceral emotional reaction to it.” Smiling throughout, Strassel said he should be mad at Congress for its policies (such as its mandated use of ethanol). Stewart replied: “I’m mad at an administration that feels they have the vision to spread democracy -- I will, you know, invade a country and it will flower like the Genesis Machine -- and yet when it comes to oil, their most innovative solution is (in dumb-guy voice, like David Letterman asking if you got any gum) ‘uh, what if we look in Alaska?’ It lacks imagination to some extent.”
I heard first on Olbermann's "Countdown" (without Olbermann) tonight, and AP confirms: ABC will name the formerly comedic lesbian activist/former daytime host Rosie O'Donnell as Meredith Vieira's replacement on The View:
O'Donnell's appointment was reported Thursday by the newsmagazine Extra. It was confirmed by a person close to the show who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because The View wanted to make the announcement on Friday's show.
The circle of liberalism is complete. Liberal Katie Couric, replaced by liberal Meredith Vieira, replaced by liberal (to put it mildly) Rosie O'Donnell. That's quite a jump from Vieira, a news anchor-type who was said to be "the glue."
Video/audio: Links below to video and/or audio of three O'Donnell outbursts.
In the first interview segment of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly told former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer that it would be nice to be able to tell reporters like Helen Thomas (politely) that everyone knows they have an agenda, but they can't. (Actually, Fleischer grew confident enough to suggest that to Helen, saying after the 2002 elections, that "Helen, you sound like a [campaign] commercial that didn't work.")
Ari responded by saying that questions that the public thinks are stupid is one reason the media's in decline in public esteem: “The press secretary's job is to mix it up a little bit with the press in a respectful way but also in the modern media world, where the country gets to watch the questions, that's one of the reasons I think, Bill, the press is in decline substantially because they bring a bit of it on themselves. I know one reporter who once said there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I think the reality is, the public watches some of these questions, not all, but some of them, and they think, that was really a stupid question.”