In Friday's Best of the Web Today column, Opinion Journal's James Taranto displayed how a major American metropolitan newspaper shows they can be soft on fire-bombing terrorism -- if it seems devoted to a fierce love of trees and turkeys.
Well-educated young women passionate about environmental causes, they share a love of the outdoors and similar backgrounds.
Then we get some background on them. Both attended the same high school in Spokane, Wash. Phillabaum was "bright, outspoken, sometimes in-your-face but never dull." Kolar, who studies science, "had the makings of a good scientist, her adviser said, but her heart seemed elsewhere."
Brent Bozell's culture column this week focused on two Washington Post articles from black staff writers who were moms horrified by the current state of hip-hop music and its effect on their children. Lonnae O'Neal Parker wrote broadly in "Why I Gave Up On Hip-Hop," but the other seemed very narrow-minded:
Natalie Hopkinson saw it in a different, more racially conspiratorial light. She wrote about how she reacted in horror when a middle-aged white female professor of hers said her five-year-old son Maverick was a fine boy and added, "I just can’t wait to watch him grow up and see his wonderful career as a rap star."
The horror was understandable, but the edge of paranoia creeped into the article. Hopkinson didn’t think the remark was innocent, but "confirmation" of a "conspiracy to destroy black boys," citing an author named Jawanza Kunjufu. (His book by that title is harsher. He calls it "genocide.")
Media Life magazine had two media experts answer why Air America went south. Nancy Haynes said exactly what I've said from the beginning, that taxpayer-funded radio was the big obstacle, over 700 affiliate stations, a very established network:
Air America has had an especially tough time growing its audience because its affiliates must take listeners almost entirely from other, more-established stations, and the most likely source for Air America to “steal” audience would be from NPR affiliates. Yet NPR's isteners are among radio's most loyal. That's bad news for Air America.
Andrew Ettinger added the other obvious point, that radio dynamos like Limbaugh and Hannity built slowly, from the commercial ground up, not from the philanthropy-driven top down:
This week’s cover story on "Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President" is really part of an enormous package offering hope to liberals about defeating the conservative movement, especially the religious right. There is a six-page article by Joe Klein about being dazzled by Obama the "political rocket," a six-page excerpt from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, explaining how "progressives" can neutralize religious conservatives, and, just to stay on point, a three-page excerpt from David Kuo’s book Tempting Faith titled "Why a Christian in the White House Felt Betrayed."
Klein's cover story, titled "The Fresh Face," tried to sound detached that Obama’s not "quite ready to answer the tough questions." (As you’ll see, Klein’s tough questions are pressing from the left, and he’s unhappy that Obama’s slow to commit.) Klein began in typical jaunty fashion about how Obama wows a Rockford audience with "sly hipster syncopation" and how his style is "quietly conversational, low in rhetoric-saturated fat; there is no harrumph to him."
When Doro Bush Koch came on ABC's "The View" on Friday to discuss her book on her father, President George H.W. Bush, "My Father, My President," about 40 minutes into the hour, she was interviewed only by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Barbara Walters -- no Rosie O'Donnell, no Joy Behar. Some of the questions were still less than soft. Walters asked about how her brother's drinking problem affected their mother. (She said that she didn't want to downplay the drinking problem, but that the media overplayed it...and mmm, still is, Barbara?) Hasselbeck asked about how Jeb Bush has suggested Bill Clinton's taking advantage of her father and his friendship, which she answered by talking of how kindly Clinton treated her dad on their tsunami tour in Indonesia.
Cindy Sheehan became an instant liberal-media celebrity when she held a vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas and demanded to meet with him (a second time) over the death of her son Casey in Iraq. But is the liberal media only about creating the legend and leaving the negative details out? MRC's Justin McCarthy reported that on Wednesday's "Fox and Friends," Melanie Morgan and Catherine Moy, authors of the book American Mourning, said they found Sheehan was paid by John Kerry's campaign in 2004 to speak out against President Bush. Said Morgan:
"We have Federal Election Commission documents. I mean we went to an extensive research, we followed the money, that's how you always figure out what's going on...We found that John Kerry and Michael Moore personally recruited Gold Star family members just within days and sometimes even at the funerals of their sons to come and work for the campaign in order to undermine the candidacy of George W. Bush at the time. It was shocking and, and really offensive behavior and that's exactly what happened to Cindy Sheehan who we tracked down. She went on the payroll of John Kerry's campaign within days after her son's death as well as her daughter Carly. Ultimately, there was a split between the two because she felt that John Kerry wasn't radical enough and didn't have an anti-war agenda that matched hers."
Wednesday’s Washington Post drew an uproar in rural Virginia when the Style section made unfunny jokes about rural Virginia being a place of drug labs, Cracker Barrel, the NRA, and "freshly killed venison," while Northern Virginia liked urbane things, like "Alfred, Lord Tennyson." Libby Copeland’s syrupy tribute to James Webb in that section Wednesday presented him as a wonderful match for lovers of both venison and Tennyson. The title was "Don’t Call Him Redneck: James Webb Hates the Expression, But Is Very Proud of the Culture."
The most notable part was Webb’s "towel-head" expression for Arabs. In describing screenwriting and typical movie villains to Copeland, Webb said: "Towel-heads and rednecks – of which I am one. If you write that word, please say that. I mean, I don’t use that pejoratively, I use it defensively. Towel-heads and rednecks became the easy villains in so many movies out there." Did someone step in Macaca? Not if the Post is judging.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post endorsed James Webb’s “independent-minded challenge” running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate against Sen. George Allen. If ever an endorsement has seemed less necessary to identify a newspaper’s position on a federal election, I’m not sure what it is. To match the endorsement, Wednesday’s Post had a classic Webb-fanzine story on the front of the Metro section.
The Metro section article was titled “Webb Is Reluctant To Advertise Duty: Veteran Blasts Allen’s Public Comments.” In a typical display of utter shamelessness, Michael Shear and Tim Craig reported “Webb said it is improper to use military service in an overtly political way.” Webb’s quote: “I don’t think it’s right to use someone’s service directly for a political reason.” This article should have been laughed away from the Metro desk. Webb’s biography as a Vietnam veteran and eight-month Navy Secretary under Reagan has been his constant, everyday calling card in this race. The man with the motto "Born Fighting" on every bumper sticker and yard sign? Need we remind the Washington Post of the Webb campaign's first TV ad? It went like this:
Is Iraq a terrific issue for anti-war liberal Democrats? Which way is it?
A) "With three weeks until Election Day, Republican candidates are barely mentioning Iraq on the campaign trail and in their television advertisements....It is the Democrats who have seized on Iraq as a central issue. In debates and in speeches, candidates are pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war." -- Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times, October 19.
B) "After months of fighting over Iraq, the candidates for Senate barely mentioned the war in their first general-election debate here on Monday, instead arguing over Social Security, health care and the national deficit." -- Jennifer Medina on the Connecticut Senate debate, October 17.
The Washington Post noticed today that Rep. Steny Hoyer made a racial boo-boo on Sunday, that black Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele has "a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party." In 2002, Hoyer denounced Steele as a "token." Did the Post paste it at the top of the front page? No, it’s on B-2. It’s a lot different than the long-running, transparently partisan "Macaca" campaign waged by Michael Shear, Tim Craig and the rest of the Post against Sen. George Allen. (Today’s Nexis count: 92 Post articles, news and editorial, with the word "Macaca." Four of them were news accounts on the front page.)
Ann Marimow’s story couldn’t match the Shear & Craig treatment. Where they dropped "Macaca" in every story they could work it in, Marimow did not remind the Post reader that Steele’s Democratic Senate opponent, Rep. Ben Cardin, fired a junior staffer for blogging about being a "sex object" for Cardin's Jewish friends and alleged that the attempted discipline of a black campaign staffer failed because "he plays the racism card, the magic passport to a different chain of command." (The Post reported the firing on September 15, and Marimow mentioned it vaguely on October 4. That’s about 92 to 2.)
CNN's crusty "Situation Room" commentator Jack Cafferty appeared (again) on the leftist, Bush-bashing Stephanie Miller radio show Wednesday morning, promoting his upcoming special tomorrow night on "Broken Government." While he began by trying to be nonpartisan, and mentioning the Harry Reid financial non-disclosure, that Democrats are just a "different breed of weasel," he did end up sounding rather liberal in spots. Miller argued that votes aren't being counted because of President Clinton's mantra "when people vote, Democrats win." Cafferty replied that if people don't feel their votes are counted, then "this democracy's gone. We're trying to bring democracy to Iraq. Hell, we couldn't even bring it to Ohio." He sounds like Keith Olbermann, obsessing about Bush winning by "only" 120,000 votes in 2004.
Aren’t reporters supposed to nail facts down for the public? On Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News, reporter Chip Reid explored the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, but could not explain to viewers whether or not Sen. Bob Menendez is under federal investigation. "It’s not entirely clear who’s right," Reid claimed. As Menendez denounced Republican opponent Tom Kean Jr. for "the politics of smear," Reid seemed unable to declare a basic fact local media outlets have repeated for weeks: federal investigators subpoenaed a Menendez tenant’s leasing agreement with Menendez. NBC doesn’t even seem to trust its own New York affiliate WNBC to locate the facts, even though it broke the subpoena story in September.
In an interview with Harvey Blume for the Boston Globe, PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers denied he's become radical unless it's "Thomas Paine radical," and "In many other ways, I'm a conservative," since he's been married a long time and goes to church. He said he's still driven to produce passionate documentaries for PBS because he's vowed to never again "let ideology blind us to the facts on the ground."
Globe: Have you become more radical over the years?
Moyers: Radical in the sense of returning to the roots of the American experience, maybe, as in Thomas Paine radical. What I find is that money has become the common denominator of politics. Both parties have become its servants. And I’ve seen it get worse; I’ve seen our democracy become paralyzed by the influence of big money. I did "Capitol Crimes" because I want people to know the magnitude it has reached.
How much of a network newscast depends on anonymous sources? And isn't it more suspicious when the anonymous sources all agree on the liberal-media thesis (actually, the John Kerry thesis) that the best we can hope for in Iraq is a stable dictatorship? Friday night's NBC Nightly News led with a British general saying all is lost, and notice how Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski presents Pentagon opinion constantly through anonymous sources (and a couple of prominent and regular Bush war critics). Apparently, all the finest military minds are unanimous, and a debate is unnecessary:
Brian Williams, beginning the show: "It was the shot heard around the world, and it came from the commander of the British Army. He is on the record as saying British troops have no business in Iraq and should come home. While he has since changed his stance a bit, his words sent shock waves through British forces. It wasn't what American forces needed to hear, either, as they are already facing an unraveling and violent situation on the ground, counter to their goal of democracy taking hold. We begin here tonight at the Pentagon with our Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski. Jim, good evening."
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers asked "Is God Green?" in his liberal campaign trilogy "Moyers in America" last week. Over at Businessandmedia.org, Rachel Waters noted that Moyers insisted that conservatives were only "mildly joking" with the hang-em-high bumper sticker "Support Environmentalists With a Rope." Catholic blogger Jimmy Akin tipped me off to another angle. One Christian expert Moyers used who was not bowing before Greenpeace, Calvin Beisner of the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, reported Moyers was very frank about his intention to boost Democrats into majority status:
The bias of Moyers’s program is not surprising. He forthrightly told me before our interviews that he, as a liberal Democrat, hoped to use this program to divide the evangelical vote and return control of Congress to the Democrats in November's elections. The timing of the program’s release, therefore, is not surprising.
Monday's morning shows displayed the Democratic diplomacy that may take over the House and Senate next year. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter was openly dismayed that President Bush refers to North Korea's murderous communist tyrant, Kim Jong Il, as "'The Pygmy'...Not every helpful, actually." On NBC's Today, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lamented that it's too late for Bush to salvage peace: "North Korea has concluded that this administration wants their, their head on a wall, basically, and therefore there's probably nothing the United States can do now, to really reassure the North to give up their nukes, which is really their life insurance policy." This came just a minute or so after Friedman described Kim as the "Tony Soprano of Pyongyang."
What does the "N-word" racial epithet and the pollster term "values voter" have in common? According to Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, by some elastic calisthenics of the brain, the word "values" needs to be drained of its poison, deprived of its "sting" against liberals, deflated of any political advantage, so that liberals can be seen as just as morality-oriented as conservatives. In describing his column on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning program on Monday, Alter said this "values voter" term is "driving me nuts," that certain people have a "monopoly" on "so-called traditional values." Alter also displayed an intense desire for the "demise" of "values voters" in the fall election. In his phone interview with Imus in the 6:30 am half hour, Alter told Imus:
In Monday's daily political chat at the Washington Post website, reporter Shailagh Murray was defending her Saturday front-pager on hot-looking Democrats. She claimed that it was not biased to say Democrats were better looking this year. The bias was "in the facts," she claimed:
Alexandria, Va.: On the good-looking thing: to do a story like that -- ooh, look at the Democratic hotties! -- in mid-October looks a bit like electioneering (leering electioneering?). When you have a good-looking Republican, the media treat them as automatically devoid of depth. That's why this article came across as tilted.
Shailagh Murray: This year, Republicans are incumbents and Democrats are challengers. That's why I focused on Democrats. Because they're the ones pushing the boulder up the mountain. As I pointed out, Republicans did something similar in 1994, when a lot of their candidates were younger and more fresh faced, less like traditional politicians. I realize that some people see bias in everything we all write, but sometimes the bias is in the facts.
Obituaries aren't the best articles for piling on negatively on the recently deceased, although as Amy Ridenour pointed out, the Washington Post tried that approach with former conservative Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage earlier this month. Compare that to the WashPost obituary for former liberal Rep. Gerry Studds published on Sunday, headlined "Gay Pioneer in Congress."
Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb lauded his work for noble causes: "Gerry E. Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress and a longtime proponent of environmental protection, New England fishermen and human rights, died Oct. 14" in Boston, reporting the health details from "Dean Hara, who married Mr. Studds in 2004 shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts." She touted his work on the environment, "gay rights," and "peace."
In his Monday "Media Notes" column in the Style section of the Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz highlights the success of anti-war/anti-Bush books by liberal reporters -- with those Kos-cuddling titles from "Fiasco" to "Hubris" to "State of Denial" -- but he doesn't use any of those ideological labels. He doesn't even use the L-word for the media outlets that have generated "enormous news coverage" for the liberal books, or the hard-left activists that think that every anti-Bush morsel that gets delayed for a book is a betrayal of the country:
With striking swiftness, a series of books about the Iraq war has exposed deep flaws in its planning and execution, made the Bush administration appear dysfunctional at times and generated enormous news coverage. All are by journalists with access to daily or weekly outlets...
Is PBS too conservative? Is it "too balanced"? The radical leftists at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting have produced another stilted study of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer accusing the show of presenting "virtually the same voices as corporate media, voices that overwhelmingly represent those in power rather than the public PBS is obliged to serve."
This study can be picked apart in many ways, but let’s start close to home, where they’ve made at least one obvious factual error. Authors Steve Rendall and Julie Hollar complain about the exclusion of "public interest groups" from the debate: "such groups, which ranged from progressive groups like the NAACP and Greenpeace to the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform and Media Research Center – provided just 4 percent of NewsHour’s guests." MRC did not appear on the NewsHour in FAIR’s study period. We checked Nexis to double-check, even adding the Parents Television Council and CNSNews.com into the mix to see if our related groups were interviewed. No.
Forgive the slowness of getting to this amazing exchange on Meet the Press, but with all the fuss that Chris Matthews and other national pundits have made over George Allen's "Macaca" salutation, it's amazing (and a testament to media Bush-loathing) that Missouri Democrat Senate challenger Claire McCaskill could completely copy rapper Kanye West and insist President Bush let people die in New Orleans because they were black, and nobody blinked. (Coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? Zero.) At least Tim Russert brought it up last Sunday, late in the Missouri Senate debate on Meet the Press. But McCaskill wouldn't retract it. She was "acknowledging the feelings" of professional race-baiters and certain rappers who wear pink:
Russert: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?
Many pundits suspect that any event that makes the world look like a dangerous place might help the hawkish Bush team at election time. NBC was not going to allow that impression to sink in, if you were watching Thursday morning's edition of Today.
David Gregory insisted that despite "partisan finger-pointing," it would be a Republican liability, another growing question mark:
Gregory: "North Korea's apparent test of a nuclear weapon has led to partisan finger-pointing. Did the President, distracted by Iraq and bent on regime change in North Korea, fail to prevent its nuclear rise?"
Sen. Jack Reed: "I think they've been tied up in intramural debate between the regime change advocates and those who want to engage."
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw returned to the Nightly News set on Thursday night to forecast big trouble in Big Sky country for Montana’s Republican Senator, Conrad Burns: "This campaign sums up a lot of the Republican problems nationwide." Brokaw theorized that the country’s just tired of less-than-honest GOP majority rule: "For Burns and other GOP candidates across the country, their toughest opponent may be their own party, after six years of White House and Congressional rule."
He touted Montana’s Democrat governor, Brian Schweitzer, as popular, and projected a Democrat win: Schweitzer "could help pull independents and Republicans across the line for Jon Tester on Election Day and that in effect would change Montana from a red to a blue state. It would be a big change." Brokaw’s two local pundits on the race both blasted Bush and the GOP for misleading the country into war in Iraq. Brokaw ignored how Tester’s getting major support from far-left outlets like the Daily Kos website and is calling for the outright repeal of the Patriot Act, which is currently the buzz in Montana.
On the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal website Friday, Peggy Noonan put together several recent media events -- Columbia students robbing the Minutemen of their free speech, the furor over CBS's "freeSpeech" commentary from a conservative Columbine parent, Barbra Streisand's profane concert outburst, and Rosie O'Donnell's whupping of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on gun rights -- to conclude that the left preaches about dissent, but isn't very skilled at letting it be practiced against them:
Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.
Thursday's morning shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC stayed true to Democratic partisan form. No one covered the Associated Press investigative report on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's inaccurate disclosure forms as he turned a $400,000 Las Vegas land deal into a $1.1 million bonanza. But there were five items on the Mark Foley scandal, almost at the end of its second week: an anchor brief on ABC, two anchor briefs on NBC, an anchor brief on CBS and a full story from CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
MRC's Mike Rule transcribed the story, which aired eleven minutes into the first hour:
In Thursday's daily morning political chat at washingtonpost.com, Post National Political Editor and author John F. Harris professed "astonishment" that anyone would drag the Clinton adminstration's diplomatic legacy into the debate over North Korea. When pressed that obviously, the Clintons' designs on recapturing the White House add modern relevance, Harris still pooh-poohed that "these arguments about things that happened a decade ago can be a distraction to more vital contemporary debates." For those who might not know, Harris has been at times a very receptive water-carrier for Team Clinton. See an old article on that tendency here. Or here.
Howard Kurtz profiled White House press secretary Tony Snow for Thursday's Washington Post. He emphasized his talk-radio style of combat with reporters, and his availablity for GOP fundraisers: "It's Gloves Off (and Pass the Hat) for Bush Spokesman." That sounds a little like he's taking a collection for his personal use. White House reporters asked for comment in the piece come across as, surprise, hard-bitten and cynical:
"He definitely likes the combat," says Martha Raddatz, ABC's White House correspondent. "One of his devices is he stops and smiles at you. The megawatt smile is supposed to punctuate his sentences, but it hasn't worked as well for him lately. It's a pretty tight-lipped administration, and that hasn't changed."
The Mark Foley instant-messaging scandal is playing out like a massive October Surprise for Democrats. On Wednesday’s Good Morning America, ABC News anchor Christopher Cuomo spoke insistently: "Less than a month before the elections and the Mark Foley scandal just keeps growing." Reporter Jake Tapper added: "This is the scandal that will not go away."
To measure the aggression of TV assignment editors on the Foley story, MRC analysts counted the number of stories devoted to the scandal and the repetitive insistence that Republicans are in deep political danger and may need GOP leaders to resign. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from the story’s emergence on Friday night, September 29, through Wednesday morning, October 11, the Big Three networks have aired 152 stories. (A fraction of the stories were brief anchor updates.) The breakdown:
The networks were exquisitely attuned this spring to the unheard voices of illegal aliens "emerging from the shadows" to protest and demand their "rights." But what about the unheard voices of opponents of illegal immigration? On the evening of Wednesday, October 4, a speech at Columbia University in New York City by Jim Gilchrist of the anti-illegal immigration group the Minutemen was squelched by leftist protesters chanting "Minutemen, Nazis, KKK ... racist fascists go away."
Network coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? In case you hadn't guessed, zero. ABC had a story on a Columbia, Missouri woman donating breast milk to South African orphans. CBS had a story on celiac disease (poor tolerance of glutens) with a Columbia University expert. NBC reported Columbia University professor Edmund Phelps won the Nobel Prize for economics. But nothing on this free speech-trampling event just a few miles from their New York studios. On October 5, the one CNN story was narrated with commentary by Lou Dobbs on his program: