President Bush traveling to Vietnam was guaranteed to bring out the Iraq-Vietnam comparisons, especially on National Public Radio. On Wednesday's "Morning Edition," co-host Steve Inskeep interviewed liberal author David Halberstam, who reported on Vietnam for the New York Times. Halberstam warned that we needed to withdraw from Iraq because it wasn't worth the death of "some kid in the Ohio National Guard" for an "undoable" goal.
A quick glance back at the first post-election Notable Quotables newsletter in 1994 carries a pile of quotes that bear no resemblance to the new-day-dawning tone of 2006. There was a lot of bitterness, and some wistful looks forward:
"1994 Isn't Forever: Despite Sweeping Gains for Republicans, History Suggests the Power is Temporary" -- New York Times headline over story by Washington Bureau Chief R.W. Apple, November 10.
A classic liberal-media reaction came very late on Election Night as CNN's Mary Tillotson predicted that 1994's results could be seen as a dreadful disaster for the Republicans in 1996:
NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant, and what she would say to the president, and how "history was riding along with her," and what her thoughts were on her family at the historic moment.
But twelve years ago tonight, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, on November 15, 1994, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute "Dateline NBC" hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."
From time to time, network news personalities betray their ideological sympathies by lending their fame and glamour to public events for liberal causes. On Tuesday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos and his wife Alexandra Wentworth are hosting a Washington awards dinner for the Children's Defense Fund, the liberal group which his boss Hillary Clinton used to serve as chair of the Board of Directors before becoming First Lady. CDF was an aggressive left-wing force opposed to welfare reform, even during the Clinton years. From the press release:
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Children's Defense Fund will host its 2006 Annual Beat the Odds Awards Dinner to honor five Washington, D.C. area high school seniors who have overcome tremendous adversity to demonstrate academic excellence and give back to their communities. Comedian Alexandra Wentworth and ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos will emcee the event at the Capital Hilton Hotel and actress Renee Zellweger will serve as award presenter. The event is sponsored by the Freddie Mac Foundation.
Former White House reporter (now columnist) Helen Thomas was interviewed by the Washington Post's Express newspaper (the free one you can read on the bus or train). Predictably, Helen thought that democracy has now prevailed in America, since democracy and Democrats are interchangeable terms:
EXPRESS: Did this past election start to show that? THOMAS: I thought the election proved that democracy works. People finally get the message. I think they're fed up with the war and all the torture and all the other things that have been attached to [the United States].
Now that the Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, the New York Times is painting the new Senators firmly into the political middle. Reporter Timothy Egan profiled Sen.-Elect Jon Tester, one of the hard-left Daily Kos Democrats, in a story headlined "Fresh Off the Farm in Montana, a Senator-to-Be." Egan began his ode to the liberal man with a crew-cut: "When he joins the United States Senate in January, big Jon Tester — who is just under 300 pounds in his boots — will most likely be the only person in the world’s most exclusive club who knows how to butcher a cow or grease a combine." You have to read quite a way into the article to see that this good old boy is raising "organic lentils, barley, peas, and gluten-free grain" on his farm. No boutique liberal there, eh?
Egan insisted "the senator-elect from Montana truly is your grandfather’s Democrat — a pro-gun, anti-big-business prairie pragmatist whose life is defined by the treeless patch of hard Montana dirt that has been in the family since 1916." That definition would work, if your grandfather opposed wiretapping enemy communications in World War 2 or would have opposed a Patriot Act to help fight the Nazis.
Speaking as an alumnus to students at Brown University over the weekend, liberal New York Times reporter James Risen -- best known for breaking open the government's terrorist-surveillance program -- hailed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as "the best thing to happen in a long time" and cheered that it's "sinking in" with President Bush that his foreign policy is "too radical."
Risen also typically complained of how vital the New York Times is to American democracy. The Bushies have "suppressed dissent throughout the administration," and the climate of fear is "palpable" and "frightening to watch." The press is vital because "there's been almost no congressional oversight." And cable news just rips off the newspapers: "CNN, which is probably the best of them, does almost no original reporting" and the cable networks have "24 hours to fill and nothing to say." In the Brown Daily Herald, reporter Abe Lubetkin wrote:
One writer in the San Francisco Chronicle really likes MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Not only is he "hot," with ranting "Special Comments" at the center of the new liberal zeitgeist, he's apparently a model for the newscast of the future. Or so says C.W. Nevius:
And just like that, Olbermann found his voice -- the angry everyman. He became a liberal counterpoint to conservative media ranters like O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and an Internet star, too.
The result has been a cultural earthquake.
"Here's what happened,'' Olbermann said in a phone interview this week. "Five years ago (on Sept. 11), 50 percent of the country went quiet. There was this self-imposed censorship. Suddenly it became unimaginable to criticize the administration. And no one else was brave or stupid enough to say, 'I don't remember signing that document.' ''
Watch out. The media's sensitivities to alleged sexism toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi are already on display, with reporters calling out the male chauvinist pigs. In Monday's Washington Post, it came in a front-page Style section story by Linda Hales on interior decorating in Washington. President Bush is accused of insulting women everywhere by saying he'd sent the names of interior decorators to Pelosi. A decorator for Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg found the remark "demeaning" to women and to decorators. Hales wrote: "there's no question that spinning the midterm election like an HGTV makeover special seems disparaging to women. It's hard to imagine that the same joke would have been told if the speaker in question were Dennis Hastert."
It's one thing for the liberal media to hail more liberal Hillary clones coming to Capitol Hill. But it's another thing to insist that women are a superior breed of politician, a much more caring, empathetic, and ethical breed. Driving home on Tuesday night, I heard this "women are seen as more ethical" line at least twice on the live coverage on National Public Radio. (No cattle-futures memories in the middle of Pom-Pom Night.) They even had a syrupy interview with Robin Gerber, author of "Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way," to cheer blatantly on the taxpayer-funded radio for incoming feminists like Senator McCaskill. On ABC Tuesday morning, Cokie Roberts opened up the latest can of Uterus-Empowered Superiority:
"But Nancy Pelosi will bring a style that is different to the speakership. Let me just tell you one little tidbit. Her daughter, Alexandra, is due to have a baby any minute and everybody knew that if that baby came, that Nancy Pelosi, regardless of the fact that she was about to take over the House and have the great night of her life, was ready to leave and just go to her daughter. I think you wouldn't necessarily see that with a male speaker."
Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.
“I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people,” John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.”
“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion,” he said. “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.”
In his culture column earlier in the week, Brent Bozell looked at the new NBC hit "Heroes" and how it draws in youngsters, but might carry a few too many sleazy adult twists for a young-skewing superhero series:
People who do a lot of business travel find themselves killing time by watching a lot of airline movies. Since the flying public includes a lot of children, the movie studios courteously provide the airlines with the movies edited for sex, language, ultra violence, and the like. And here’s the curious thing: I’ve never watched one of these movies and concluded at the end that it was cheapened by a lack of “gritty” (and I’m being kind here) material. Never in my life have I met a fellow passenger who suggested as much.
A few weeks ago, Amy Ridenour decried the Washington Post obituary writers for writing a bitter obituary for ex-Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth, a "militia-friendly" and "extremist" conservative from Idaho who arrived in Washington with Newt Gingrich's new majority in 1994. She noted a communist spy from Vietnam drew a kinder obituary. That happened again Friday with the death of "charming" and "avuncular" East German spymaster Markus Wolf.
Markus Wolf, 83, who helped to oversee the growth of East Germany's espionage network and once wrote that he wanted to be remembered for "perfecting the use of sex in spying," died of undisclosed causes Nov. 9 at his apartment in Berlin.
Like a train arriving on time, the Washington Post reliably earned its liberal stripes Friday with two Style section smooch-pieces on the wonders of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The first is a thoroughly typical rave by the quite partisan fashion critic Robin Givhan, who pronounces Pelosi "chic" in a piece headlined "Muted Tones of Quiet Authority." She is "consciously, comfortably, and authoritatively female." She ain't a --gasp! -- wrestlin' coach: "(The appearance of the current speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert, will go unmentioned here except to say that there is nothing chic or particularly polished about it.)"
The second piece was headlined "Pride of Baltimore," an attempt to warm local hearts that before she was San Fran Nan, Pelosi was the daughter of "Tommy the Elder" D'Alessandro, Baltimore machine politician. (Reporter Lynne Duke insists that "Tommy" was ahem, not corrupt or tied to the Mob.) No, it was here in nearby Baltimore that Pelosi learned to be a socialist, oops, "progressive," of course:
As the alleged titans of HDNet get ready to debut disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather's new show next week, Rather tells the Denver alternative weekly Westword that he and HDNet mogul Mark Cuban are great compadres without any distinguishing ideological characteristics:
Rather...has much the same attitude. "I don't know what Mark's politics are, and I don't care -- and he doesn't care what mine are as far as I have them," he says. "My only bias is to do reporting that doesn't cave in to people in powerful positions.
"When I refuse to report the news the way somebody wants it reported, increasingly those people will say, 'We'll hang a sign around you and use every means at our disposal to make people see you in a negative way,'" he continues. "But professionally, I am what my record is. And what my record shows is that I'm independent -- fiercely so, when I think it's necessary. And what's encouraging to me is, the audience gets it."
As the media crow about Democrats taking the reins of power on Capitol Hill, if you need a giggle, it's worth a rewind to the "Saturday Night Live" satire of MSNBC's "Hardball" on the October 28 show -- the same one with the fake Halloween GOP ads with Witchy Hillary and Count Obama. Chris Matthews (played as usual by Darrell Hammond) and Howard Dean (played by Jason Sudeikis) are expressing amazement at how pro-Democrat the polls are turning out:
Matthews: “Alright, I assume you've seen the latest poll, which has your party with an astonishing 55-point lead over the Republicans.”
Dean: “Life is good, Chris.”
Matthews: “But what amazes me is the internal numbers. I mean, the public now favors the Democrats in every issue. Even national defense.”
Dean: “I know, Chris. It's crazy. We can't be trusted on national defense.”
On the weekend before the election, the NPR show "On The Media" brought their usual liberal criticism of the media to bear, with co-host Brooke Gladstone complaining how the national media was somehow an over-enthusiastic puppy in coverage of Kerry's don't-be-stupid-and-get-stuck-in-Iraq comment: "But the media can't stop masticating on this latest liberal gaffe like a Washington Monument-sized Snausage." (As in "scrumptious" doggie treat.)
Her guest was Washington Post national political editor John F. Harris, who boasted he succeeded in burying the Kerry story inside the paper, at least on the first day. But NPR's Gladstone hammered him for "playing right into the Administration's hands" by covering it, when Kerry wasn't even running:
For anyone who thought the worst racist ad of the electoral cycle was the RNC ad against Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics has an answer. (I heard this ad yesterday on the Sean Hannity show.) In Atlanta, a last-minute radio ad suggested that electing Republicans to the Fulton County Commission would be worse than the beatings administered in the civil rights era of the 1960s -- it might endanger the life of blacks. The script is amazing:
LEWIS: This is Congressman John Lewis.
FRANKLIN: And I'm Mayor Shirley Franklin.
YOUNG: And I am Andy Young.
LEWIS: On Nov. 7, we face the most dangerous situation we ever have. You think fighting off dogs and water hoses in the '60s was bad. [Now we] sit idly by, and let the right-wing Republicans take control of the Fulton County County Commission.
It seems we were misled by Dan Rather about playing it "straight" on The Daily Show on Election Night. He made a brief appearance to draw laughs by spouting a few canned "Ratherisms," in case anyone missed the biennial tradition of the disgraced CBS anchor’s homespun Texas phrases. (By the way, we coined the term "Ratherisms" in Notable Quotables back in 1992, and were recounting the election-night expressions back in NQ’s first year, 1988.) On Tuesday, Rather gave a bland analysis of the state of play, allowing Stewart to set up the gag:
Stewart: "We sort of brought you in here to, you know, give us a little bit more of that Dan Rather. You know what I am saying? A little bit more of that home-spun kind of... ?
Rather, faking confusion: "How so?"
Stewart: How about Hillary Clinton? We knew she would win in a landslide. How would you, Dan Rather, describe the largeness of her victory?
Rather: It was a healthy margin. [Stewart mugs and urges the Ratherism.] How about...She ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie?" [Wild applause, cheers.]
In the giddy aftermath of a Democratic victory, the cheery tone of morning television can begin to look like excessive enthusiasm. On Wednesday morning's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Montana's liberal Democratic Senate challenger, Jon Tester, who at the time was narrowly ahead and not yet declared the winner. Vieira noticed that despite the close call, "yet, you have a smile on your face, sir." When asked how he came this far, Tester said people came out to vote for honesty and integrity, about Iraq, and health care.
Vieira perkily concluded: "Well I hope you keep the smile on your face there Jon Tester. Thank you very much. Back to you, Matt."
In the second half-hour of Wednesday's Good Morning America, ABC financial expert Mellody Hobson insisted Democratic majorities in Congress are "probably going to be very good for the economy," since it will lead to "gridlock," which means "it's not easy to spend money."
Co-host Robin Roberts introduced Hobson: "She is president, also, of Ariel Capital Management. Let's start money first, Mellody. The first time in twelve years that the Democrats have control of the House, not sure what's going to happen in the Senate right now. What does that mean for the economy?"
The Supreme Court hears the latest arguments Wednesday from late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart objecting to a partial-birth abortion ban, and the media bias wouldn't be complete without the major media rejecting the term "partial-birth abortion" as a propagandistic pro-life term. Brian Montopoli on the CBS blog "Public Eye" offered a little inside detail:
With the case approaching, CBS News Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason sent an email to the CBS News staff regarding the terms "late term abortion" and "partial birth abortion." Mason wrote that CBS News should use the term “late term abortion” when referring to the procedure in question, not "partial birth abortion." I asked her why.
"We thought that 'partial birth' is a color phrase for people who are anti-abortion rights," said Mason. "This is a procedure usually done after 20 weeks. Therefore, 'late term' is appropriate. Now, some colleagues have come back to me and questioned this because the name of the law before the Supreme Court is the 'Partial-Birth Abortion [Act].' When people refer to the case, they should call it by the correct name. But a CBS reporter should call the procedure a 'late term abortion.'"
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales expressed general praise with network election coverage Wednesday morning, especially newbie Katie Couric at CBS, but said the television was really missing the electrifying Bill Clinton, a "shining, gray-haired exception" to Democrats who are generally bad at TV. He compared Slick Willie to who he might have called Clumsy Chucky Schumer:
Neil Cavuto, who hosts a less-than-indispensable daily show on Fox, got into an on-air shouting match with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who understandably took exception when Cavuto kept interrupting him. In Cavuto's defense, Schumer seemed determined to talk as slowly and laboriously as possible, proving himself yet another Democrat who takes to television like a duck takes to oil.
On the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight, they honed in on allegations of voter irregularities and election-stealing, and Lehrer began suggesting a need for the federal government to rule over a regime of nationalized election standards. In the show’s second installment of the panel of liberal Mark Shields and guest conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, the veteran liberal clearly won the battle of the clock: Shields took about twice as much air time to lay out his answers as Ponnuru the newcomer did. Here’s how Lehrer pushed nationalized election systems:
Lehrer: "Ramesh, do you think there should be national standards for all elections, and take it out of the hands of local precinct workers and county judges and people like that?"
NBC's Today correspondents on Tuesday made sure to underline that Republicans were seen as racist in the Senate campaigns in Tennessee and Virginia. Reporter Tom Costello began his report:
"Matt, good morning. This has been a hard fought race. It's been injected with advertisements viewed by many as being racist by the Republican National Committee. The Corker campaign repudiated those ads, as did the Ford campaign, of course."
By many? Try "by many Democrats," at least. From there, David Shuster (usually assigned to Chris Matthews on MSNBC), also underlined the alleged-racist angle on the Virginia race:
"Meredith, good morning. A statistical dead heat is not at all where the incumbent Republican George Allen ever thought he would be. Allen had been talked about being a presidential contender in 2008 but his campaign has been set back by a series of missteps including his use of the term macaca and allegations about his use of the N-word to describe blacks, but the key issue in this race has been the Iraq war...
One of the most routine (and inaccurate) tics of news coverage of Missouri's cloning amendment and other medical-research stories is to describe the controversy over embryo-destroying stem cell research as simply a fight over "stem cell research." To declare that a pro-life politician is "against stem cell research" is quite inaccurate (since they favor research on adult stem cells and from umbilical cord blood). But Kevin Tibbles did that twice this morning to Sen. Jim Talent on Today, and never once even used the word "embryo" or "embryonic" to describe the specific human lives being destroyed in the research process.
Co-host Meredith Vieira: "You know Kevin we heard a lot about the race after Rush Limbaugh criticized those ads that Michael Fox did supporting stem cell research and the Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill. How much do you think that controversy will play into the voters' minds today when they go to the polls?"
This just sounds too good to be true: Dan Rather's going to be an election pundit tonight....on the fake-news special on Comedy Central. No, really. (There's no mention if the whole hour is being sponsored by Kinko's Copies.) Gail Shister reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the CBS/Viacom offshoot is rolling out the red carpet for the disgraced CBS anchorman:
This is not a joke.
Dan Rather will analyze election results with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert tonight at 11 on Comedy Central's live, hour-long Indecision 2006 special.
"It's a risk, I guess, but what the hell," says Rather, who covered every national election since 1962 for CBS before being drop-kicked in June. Now he's global correspondent for Mark Cuban's HDNet.
On Friday night, the PBS news show "Now" wrapped up its last show before the election by bringing on so-called "conservative" blogger Andrew Sullivan to explain why he’s telling everyone to vote Democrat. Apparently, voting Democrat is the right way to get low taxes, small government, and a competent defense. What? That’s odd, considering the show began by quoting this "conservative iconoclast" claiming "We're talking not so much about an election anymore; we're talking about an intervention. We're talking about getting these people to recognize reality."
"Now" host David Brancaccio gave viewers no shred of a clue that would make Sullivan look less than conservative, from being an editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic in the 1990s, to blogging now for Time magazine online, to his rabid support for John Kerry in 2004, to his most obvious crusade -- as a fervent lobbyist for the gay-left agenda. (The screen only read he was a blogger for the "Daily Dish," the title of his blog on Time.com.) It began with a compliment:
Brancaccio: "What is a nice conservative like you doing telling your friends and your readers to abstain from voting next week or worse?"
Sullivan: "I've done more. I've said 'vote Democrat.' Look, I'm an old-fashioned conservative. I believe in small government. I believe in low taxes. I believe in balanced budgets. I believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, states' rights and a strong competent defense. So, on all those issues, I have no choice but to oppose this president. The only way to get him to acknowledge reality and grapple with reality is by backing the Democrats."
The panel of "mainstream" reporters on PBS's Friday night "Washington Week" roundtable sounded typically sympathetic to John Kerry's "botched joke" excuses, and dismissed its importance to the election. PBS host Gwen Ifill called it the "Kerry kerfluffle." Which is also a botched joke of some sort, since she must have meant "kerfuffle." (Doesn't she read her daily Taranto at Opinion Journal?)
Ifill: Let's talk about some of the other things that we're not certain how they will affect the outcome on Tuesday. One this week I called the ‘Kerry kerfluffle,’ where Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee last time around, came out and he said a few things which many Democrats found unhelpful. And many Republicans found to be a godsend and by the end of the week we don't know how it washes. Let's listen again."
Over at GetReligion, newlywed Mollie Hemingway forwarded to her blog audience an e-mail from a reporter comparing Ted Haggard to much-celebrated gay Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson. The big difference between the two is which side of the political/cultural divide they stand on:
A pastor is married for years, has children, runs a successful church, advances in his denomination/sector of Christianity, and then “finds himself” and abandons wife and children for a live-in situation with another man. His reward? Consecration as a bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church of America and wide-ranging media praise. LATimes, I believe, had a nice kiss-up interview with Gene Robinson just this week.