In his Monday "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post -- for some reason, the whole column was demoted to page C-7 -- Howard Kurtz reported (in his second item) that National Public Radio's FBI reporter, Dina Temple-Raston, recently did a report quoting the American Civil Liberties Union. That wouldn't be shocking, except that Temple-Raston is also co-author of a new book with the executive director of the ACLU on "the dangerous erosion of the Bill of Rights in the age of terror."
Temple-Raston claimed she's aware of the "perception issue," but will try to be "really, really balanced." (So is NPR, which includes the data in her online bio.) This hire is a complete insult to the idea of creating an impression of a fair, nonpartisan public-radio news network. It would be bad enough if an NPR reporter gave money to the ACLU, or attended their fundraising dinners. But this reporter has written a book, cheek and jowl, with the leader of the ACLU, endorsing their leftist worldview on a blooming Bush dictatorship. How on Earth can NPR think it doesn't look transparently partisan from the first broadcast word?
On his page on the PBS website, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with e-mailers on an episode of gratuitious liberal bias – a seemingly out-of-nowhere attack on the 2004 ad campaign against John Kerry by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth – on the show "History Detectives." In a brief commentary, Wes Cowan denounced how the group known as "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and funded by a wealthy Republican campaign donor smeared Kerry's military record and possibly cost him the election." When Getler asked the executive producer Christopher Bryson about the claim, he shot back: "In stating that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ‘smeared Kerry's military record’ we carefully and believe accurately summarized and characterized a great deal of objective reporting by established media organizations, respected media watchdog groups, and an official Pentagon investigation."
Those "objective" reporters included The Washington Post, and the Annenberg Center’s Factcheck.org, which also relied on the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and a Kerry pal’s commentary in the Wall Street Journal. But the "objective" label gets more hilarious when Bryson also cited John Kerry’s incredibly sympathetic liberal biographer and pop-historian Doug Brinkley, and the left-wing Center for Media and Democracy’s online Sourcewatch encylopedia. CMD puts out paperback books with obviously left-wing and partisan titles such as Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq and Banana Republicans: How the Right Wing Is Turning America Into a One-Party State.
Bruce Fein was a member of the Reagan Administration, but during the Dubya years, Fein sounds a lot like your typical "Bush hater," comparing the president to a long list of historical villains, which makes him a more acceptable guest for Bill Moyers or NPR’s Diane Rehm show. Here are the actual places in the Friday Bill Moyers Journal interview where squeaky-voiced Fein took Bush to the historical dark alley and tried to rough him up:
– Today’s Japanese Internment Camps?
FEIN: Take World War II. We locked up 120,000 Japanese Americans, said they were all disloyal. Well, we got 120,000 mistakes. They lost their property. They lost their liberty for years and years because we made a huge mistake. And that can be true after 9/11 as well.
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers devoted his entire hour-long Bill Moyers Journal on Friday night to the need to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. The stacked hour had two guests, and both were aggressively pro-impeachment: John Nichols of The Nation magazine, author of the book "The Genius of Impeachment," and lawyer Bruce Fein, who Moyers labeled a "conservative," but he compared Bush to King George III, to Adolf Hitler, to the communist autocrats of the Gulag, and to, well, FDR, in suggesting the post 9-11 era could see a mistake like our interning of Japanese Americans. In this conversation, Moyers sometimes played the skeptic, but the overall tenor of the hour was not only anti-Bush, but anti-Speaker Pelosi for being so timid: "Why doesn't Nancy Pelosi see it her duty to take on at least the impeachment hearings that you say would educate the public?"
It’s really something when PBS is so far to the left it’s bashing both parties for not being radical enough, but this is a routine pose for Moyers, where he somehow thinks he’s "objective" when he sounds roughly in sync with the Dennis Kucinch for President campaign. Pelosi came in for whacks several times, first in this early exchange:
Brent Bozell's culture column this week praises CBS and Fox for deciding not to accept ads for Trojan condoms that demeaned men as pigs until they miraculously purchased Trojans in the bathroom and transformed themselves into hunks. But why, he asked, would they have some broadcast standards on controversial sexual matter on commercials, and then air programs that are much more salacious (or profane)?
Since CBS and Fox have accepted Trojan ads before, Brent wondered if there weren't non-moral reasons for rejecting the ads: "It’s possible that two networks rejected this ad not because it was too sexual, but it’s too sexist – against men. Can you imagine the makers of female contraception casting women as farm animals because they haven’t gone on The Pill?"
Pacifica Radio defines the idea of ideological pork barrel. Every year, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting offers community-service grants in the area of about $1 million to Pacifica stations like WPFW in Washington, DC and KPFK in Los Angeles to spew their radical politics. Their flagship show "Democracy Now" celebrated the Fourth of July with an hour with Pete Seeger, the radical socialist folk singer. In this passage, they discussed how Pete's dad was a communist (Pete was a member of the CPUSA after Daddy):
But he, in those early days, linked up with the Communist movement. He and Aaron Copland and Henry Cowell and Marc Blitzstein. They had a thing they called the Composers' Collective. After all, in Russia they had collectives this and collective that. And there, they decided, as skilled musicians, they would compose the new music for the new society. Well, their attempts were laughable. Aaron Copland put music to a poem by Alfred Hayes, same man who wrote "Joe Hill" -- "Into the Streets May 1st." But only a very expert singer could sing it, tremendous range, and only a very expert pianist could accompany it properly. Of course, no proletariat ever sang him.
In an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, ABC anchorman Charles Gibson plays the scold of newfangled Internet news and citizen bloggers: He "knows people are curious, but he is concerned that when users make their own Internet front pages, those pages will focus on gossip instead of solid information. He thinks old-fashioned journalism is underrated these days." Then there's this:
"It's important to have people with a lot of experience putting together what you need to know," he said. "Maybe I'm sticking my head in the sand, but I still think there is still a tremendous role for mainstream media." He's also a little dubious about self-appointed Internet journalists. He said he was on a panel with retired Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee when someone asked Bradlee what he thought about citizen reporters. Gibson said Bradlee replied, "I don't know. What do you think of citizen surgeons?"
If you’re the kind of liberal elitist who makes untold millions as a precious literary mind on National Public Radio (complete with relentless program-related merchandising), then you are the kind of person who finds the "War on Terror" to be nothing more than the comedic Gift That Keeps on Giving. I’m talking about Garrison Keillor of "A Prairie Home Companion," who takes up space on the left-wing site Salon.com on Thursday with a "comedy" piece headlined: "His stethoscope is loaded: The war on terror must be pursued wherever it leads and right now it points toward people in green scrubs." The recent finding that some terrorist suspects are doctors will no doubt lead to dramatic and tyrannical overreaching by "Secretary Shirtsoff" and the Department of Homeland Security, Keillor suggests:
It doesn’t seem to matter how small it is, a left-wing protest can always draw a national network TV camera. On CNN’s Newsroom program on Wednesday morning, the network founded by Ted "Call No One Foreign" Turner presented a northern Virginia controversy over illegal immigrants through a familiar lens -- highlighting a few hundred protesters charging racism in the supposedly outrageous demand that government officials have the right to inquire into the immigration status of potential illegal aliens in police custody.
A Republican proposal before the Prince William County Board, modified and softened after consulting with county police and legal counsel, was approved unanimously on Tuesday night – but mysteriously, the story by Brian Todd on Wednesday morning was never updated (it also ran late Tuesday). The Washington Post story from Nick Miroff on Wednesday is here. While CNN focused on the small group of protesters, it typically ignored how county supervisors voted unanimously with what they believed the majority of their constituents -- not a minority chanting for TV cameras -- wanted.
Retired Army Major General John Batiste – recently cashiered as an official CBS News expert after appearing in a partisan political commercial for “Vote Vets” bashing Bush for not listening to generals like him – was invited on to ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning.
Substitute host George Stephanopoulos played the skeptic about the possibly heavy costs of a hasty pullout from Iraq, but General Batiste sounded almost like an official spokesman for Senate Democrats in hailing Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island: “I had the opportunity yesterday to read the Levin-Reed amendment in the Senate, two pages carefully crafted that makes incredible sense. That is, we need a better plan to get out than what we had to get in. We need to recognize that our all-volunteer military cannot sustain the current cycle of deployments. And this ought to really worry every American.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay-left lobby, announced yesterday that it will host a one-hour Democratic presidential debate on August 9 on Logo, the Viacom gay channel and sister network to CBS. (CBS News has its own newscast on Logo with gay anchor Jason Bellini, formerly of CNN.) Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have confirmed their attendance. As a colleague joked yesterday about Democrat refusal to acknowledge Fox as a news network: "Oh, so the Democrats won’t go on networks with an agenda."
The debate won’t be moderated by Bellini or any journalist, but by HRC Chairman Joe Solmonese and rock singer Melissa Etheridge. Actually, it’s not so much a debate as a series of interviews, a lot like the CNN/Sojourners magazine event designed to highlight the Democrats’ religious views – except this pander-to-the-libertine-left event ought to cancel out the impression that these candidates are devoted to their Bibles.
For those NBC brass who would lamely insist that there was no "political issue" in their broadcasting of the Al Gore Live Earth concerts all across their channels, Mark Hemingway at National Review Online sat through it and reports that gravel-voiced lesbo-rocker Melissa Etheridge unveiled a new anti-Bush, pro-Cindy Sheehan song. On Monday morning’s edition of the Stephanie Miller radio show, Cindy Sheehan made one of her routine interview stops and said she saw that and loved the song and hoped to use it as her campaign theme song if she ran for Congress against Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hemingway explained:
6:26 [PM]: Al Gore’s personal troubadour, Melissa Etheridge, takes the stage. Etheridge wrote the turgid theme song for An Inconvenient Truth, and today is premiering two new songs. The first, "Imagine That," near as I can tell, is written from the perspective of Cindy Sheehan. Etheridge is the only musician I’ve seen today that seems really revved up about the cause. Unfortunately, for her there’s really just no way for her to sing lyrics this overtly political and not have it be extremely awkward:
Rebecca Traister at left-wing Salon.com (yes, endure the leftists' commercial) brings the feminist scolding to Katie Couric for granting a whiny, bitter interview to New York magazine, including the odd detail that she slaps male producers for using medical terms for lung mucus. Traister wants to see a "mofo" in action:
Suddenly, the woman who used to refuse to talk to reporters about her astronomical salary and hard-bargaining skills, who unapologetically drove the high rate of turnover among "Today" show producers, and who radiated a steely self-confidence, cannot shut up about everything that's gone wrong since she left NBC for CBS! Oh, girlfriend: Get a grip....
Slam a table; grow a pair; be the mean motherf---er we know you can be.
On Sunday, New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt reviewed the new book "More Sex is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics" by Steven Landsburg, a regular contributor to the liberal site Slate.com. Leonhardt panned the book as too cute and too far afield from the "dismal science" of economics, but the Times book editors gave the Landsburg thesis an excerpt on the Times website. According to Landsburg, people who are chaste and monogamous (who practice "extreme sexual conservatism") cause the spread of AIDS through the "sin of self-restraint." The excerpt begins:
It's true: AIDS is nature's awful retribution for our tolerance of immoderate and socially irresponsible sexual behavior. The epidemic is the price of our permissive attitudes toward monogamy, chastity, and other forms of extreme sexual conservatism. You've read elsewhere about the sin of promiscuity. Let me tell you about the sin of self-restraint.
Katie Couric’s downward publicity spiral has gone from her typical poor-me-America’s-sexist pleading to tales of male beatings. A new profile in New York magazine by Joe Hagan recounts the Woody Allen-esque tale of Couric slapping a producer named Jerry Cipriano repeatedly on the arm in a fight over the word sputum. I kid you not. But not before she plays the diva and whines about all the people that fervently hate her and want her to go eat worms:
"I think that bugs people even more," she says, "that I’m not a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It’s probably disappointing to some people. Because in the arc of the story, that’s what they want to see."
At the end of his Monday "Media Notes" column -- which mostly focused on the Huffington Post, in which former WashPost reporter/new HuffPost hire Tom Edsall acknowledges its audience is "very liberal" -- Howard Kurtz asked NBC about the perception of imbalance created by their massive promotion of the Live Earth concerts:
[UPDATED BELOW with Kurtz's discussion on Sunday's Reliable Sources on
CNN in which the BBC's Katty Kay marveled at “how critical the coverage
was” of the Live Earth concerts and Ryan Lizza of The New Republic
conceded “the environment is one of those issues where the media tends
to skew a little bit to the left. There's no doubt about that.”]
Doesn't this strike a discordant note? Wasn't NBC, whose news division covers the debate over climate change, providing a huge platform for advocates on one side of a contentious issue? And isn't the network helping a prominent Democrat -- who granted "Today" an interview last week in which he was asked again about his presidential ambitions -- raise money?
Dan Harrison, an NBC senior vice president, does not back away from the message. He calls the Gore effort "an initiative we believe in," including parent company General Electric. "I really don't think climate change is a political issue," Harrison says.
On Thursday’s Today, NBC’s Meredith Vieira interviewed Robin Williams, introducing him jokingly that he "has always made people look to the heavens and say what was he thinking? So it's only appropriate that in his latest film, License To Wed, he plays a man of the cloth. And his character, Reverend Frank is more than a little unorthodox." He’s playing an Episcopalian minister, but all his trouble lately has been by making harsh jokes about Catholic priests and pedophilia.
On the June 18 Tonight show, Williams unfurled a whole routine suggesting there were pedophiles everywhere among the Catholic priesthood, a smear on the vast majority of serious and celibate priests, as well as mean-spirited jokes about priests being sexually aroused in the confessional. Ten days later, he smeared his critics – specifically, without citing names, Michael Chapman on NewsBusters -- suggesting they didn’t care whether child-abusing priests were exposed, that keeping it quiet was okay. About halfway into the interview, Vieira steered into his mockery of priests:
At the end of Friday’s Today show on NBC, the marketing of Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts began, just eight days shy of NBC’s big three-hour Live Earth concert in prime time, hosted by NBC anchor Ann Curry and Carson Daly. (Not to mention the other 72 hours donated to Gore by NBC Universal.) NBC’s Friday guest was David DeRothschild, author of "The Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook." Like a good NBC employee, anchor Natalie Morales praised the climate-crisis cause: "Fantastic effort. It’s going to raise a lot of awareness."
The author mostly made the usual plugs for compact-fluorescent bulbs and other electricity savings, but the strange part (at least for late June) was urging everyone to wear a sweater and turn the thermostat down. Did they think they were recording a segment for Christmas break?
Washington Post movie critic Stephen Hunter panned the Michael Moore mockumentary "Sicko" in Friday's paper as "a fuzzy, toothless collection of anecdotes, a few stunts and a bromide-rich conclusion." Hunter wasn’t fond of Moore’s claim that health care in socialist countries is "free," but really unleashed on Moore as he traveled to Cuba and chronicled its supposedly excellent health care system:
Some of his stunts don't work out with nearly the comic explosiveness he seems to think they might. In one, for example, he takes his Sept. 11 rescue workers to the U.S. naval base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, where, by archival film, he's established that the medical care for the incarcerated alleged terrorists is quite high, much higher than it's been for his Sicko Four. (He ignores the point that if it wasn't, the media would raise holy hell.)
On his Political Punch blog, ABC correspondent Jake Tapper is calling out the media who have misquoted Ann Coulter -- but he also suggests Coulter has mischaracterized leftist comedian Bill Maher:
Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter is often unfair, and cruel. But that doesn't mean we in the media are allowed to treat her with equal dishonesty.
Coulter on Monday's Good Morning America, asked about the time she used an anti-gay slur to impugn former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, said: "I did not call John Edwards the F-word. I said I couldn't talk about him because you could go into rehab for using that word. But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack. So, I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
(Updated 10:00 see below) For anyone who thinks newspapers are much better than those television types at avoiding the manufacture of quick sound bites out of context, see today’s Washington Post so-called "Reliable Source" gossip column by Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, who like many others, skip over the context of Coulter’s complaint that Bill Maher can get away with saying Dick Cheney should be killed by terrorists:
The conservative shock-pundit, who sniped on "Good Morning America" Monday that she hoped the Democratic candidate would be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot," was a guest on MSNBC's "Hardball" Tuesday night, prompting a live call-in by Elizabeth, who demanded that Coulter "stop the personal attacks." The exchange went downhill from there.
On Tuesday, National Public Radio displayed two very different takes on the current situation in Iraq from reporters for The New York Times and the Washington Post.
John Burns of The New York Times was the cautious optimist on the Tuesday edition of NPR’s Day to Day (in partnership with the liberal site Slate.com):
As for Senator Lugar's assessment that they've overestimated what they can do, I think it's a little early to say that. In the last few days I've been at several places around Baghdad where the offensives are underway. I've been out in Ramadi, where as you know, Anbar province has been the most remarkable reduction in violence. And there's no doubt that this surge is having an effect, that al-Qaida for the time being at least appears to be on the back foot. Can that be sustained? Probably too early to tell.
It'll be busy at MRC this morning, as both ABC and NBC played up Elizabeth Edwards dressing down Ann Coulter by phone on "Hardball" last night. (Matthews trashed Coulter as a "Today" guest this morning. More to come.) Wire services like AP and newspapers like The Washington Post are on the story today, but several important elements are missing from this story. None seem to question the ethics of MSNBC staging this unusual telephone sneak attack on Coulter.
More importantly, no one seems to be questioning Elizabeth Edwards attacking Coulter for the "language of hate" when the Edwards campaign hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as official bloggers, who attacked "Christofascists," smeared Pope Benedict as a dictator, and mocked the core doctrines of Christianity as excuses for misogyny. Mrs. Edwards was a player in hiring those feminist bloggers and their language of hate. Why is the liberal media ignoring the pot calling the kettle black?
As Scott Whitlock noticed today, the networks are loading up the Darth Cheney segments again, based on this week’s "Angler" series in The Washington Post. The most obnoxious installment so far of the four-part series was Monday’s front-pager, which carried the big headline "The Unseen Path to Cruelty." Beneath those words was a picture of a Gitmo guard tower at sunset that associated Cheney with the guilt for Abu Ghraib: "The vice president’s office pushed a policy of aggressive interrogation that made its way to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq." Now that Rumsfeld’s gone, the center of the Abu Ghraib conspiracy map moved across town.
For as much as liberals love the notion of "activism," they certainly haven’t demonstrated much of it in the war on terrorism. The Clinton administration didn’t capture top suspects like Abu Zubeida and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad. They could only manage to indict Osama bin Laden in absentia. They don’t even accept the terminology. Late in this massive story, Post reporters Barton Gellman and Jo Becker write: "For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the ‘war on terror.’"
Even when the Washington Post is covering a Marxist, they have trouble putting an ideological label in the headline. On the front page of Monday’s Style section is a profile of Marxist rock guitarist Tom Morello, but the headline was bland: "Tom Morello, on Tour and on Message: Folk-Rock’s Nightwatchman Plays True to His Roots." Inside, the headline was simply "Tom Morello, Refocusing His Political Rage." Neither headline reflected that he prayed for President Bush’s death:
Onstage, when the Nightwatchman sang, "I pray that God himself will come and drown the president if the levees break again," the Jammin' Java crowd's attitude was chilling. People were praying.
So why isn’t that death-wish directly reflected in the headline, instead of simply being vaguely "On Message" with "Rage"?
The front of the Washington Post Style section on Saturday was dominated by two features on Hollywood stereotyping. At the bottom was Teresa Wiltz suggesting that Angelina Jolie playing Afro-Cuban Mariane Pearl in "A Mighty Heart" is somehow comparable to blackface minstrel shows. But that's not as odd as the top story by William Booth on stereotyped Arab villains, illustrated by the cartoon image of Jafar, the villainous vizier in the Disney cartoon "Aladdin." Earth to the Post: everyone in "Aladdin," heroes and villains, is Arab.
Booth's story actually only raised the issue of the opening song lyrics of "Aladdin," which joked about vicious ear-slicing barbarians, which the Arab-American activists successfully pressed Disney to remove. After that scrubbing, I imagine the children would also hear about "Ali Baba and the Forty Upstanding Merchants." The star of the Booth piece, retired professor Jack Shaheen, also deplored the Fox drama "24" as "the worst of smears" for portraying American Arabs as the terrorist next door. Booth began in Los Angeles:
I've been too busy with the Hillary book to blog, but I've been really wanting to agree with Radio Equalizer and others that the Center for American Progress/Free Press talk-radio study has huge holes in it. The biggest one is excluding public radio talk shows. It’s simply inaccurate to argue there’s little or no progressive talk in major markets with NPR affiliates broadcasting the Diane Rehm show, or Fresh Air with Terry Gross, or the new Michel Martin vehicle Tell Me More, or the Tavis Smiley radio show, or the other national and local left-leaning talk programs. A right-winger could even count Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion sometimes!
Kudos to Associated Press (via Yahoo!) for noting the death toll (and the toll in chaos) of the Maoist Shining Path/Sendero Luminoso terrorists in Peru in a story on how another of Hollywood's leftist political dilettantes thinks she's in solidarity with the masses, when she's in solidarity with a slaughterer of the masses:
Actress Cameron Diaz appears to have committed a major fashion faux pas in Peru. The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated "Shrek" films may have inadvertently offended Peruvians who suffered decades of violence from a Maoist guerrilla insurgency by touring here Friday with a bag emblazoned with one of Mao Zedong's favorite political slogans.
National Public Radio commentators can establish one reality very quickly: they won’t cross the feminists. "I am not dumb enough to castigate women en masse," said sports writer Frank Deford in a commentary on Wednesday’s Morning Edition as he blamed them for the popularity of celebrity gossip. But men? That’s easier. They’re diverted from serious news by the sports pages. Sure, Deford said, "there are an awful lot of feather-brained fans who could rattle off the entire roster of the Kansas City Royals before they could name their own congressman." But deny them their sports, and they won’t become C-SPAN fans. "Probably, in fact, their new devotion would be to something more base like pornography."
On her blog, CBS anchor Katie Couric is once again offering her love and kisses to Jimmy Carter. In a "Katie Couric's Notebook" video (which airs on some CBS affiliates as an Evening News promo), Couric used the occasion of Carter being awarded an honorary doctorate of civil law from Oxford to demand of viewers that "you have to respect him for sticking to his principles." Tell that to President Bush. She began by citing another Carter cheerleader:
"Historian Douglas Brinkley says he used the White House as a stepping stone for greater things. He intervened in civil wars around the globe, monitored elections, and confronted dictators. And Carter’s work for Habitat for Humanity shows that even for someone who was once the most powerful man on Earth there’s no higher calling than helping your neighbor. To cap it all in 2002, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course he’s been outspoken, criticizing President Bush and equating some Israeli policies with apartheid. And critics have accused of acting decidedly unpresidential. Agree with him or not, you have to respect him for sticking to his principles. At 82, Jimmy Carter is having an impact, still, perhaps even more than when he was president. That’s a page from my notebook."