From the Cherry Hill, New Jersey Courier-Post, (via Romenesko and Senor Spruiell at NRO), we learn that humor columnist Jim Walsh got a surprising kick out of trying to get Dan Rather to see how journalism is practiced as it's preached...and found his microphone cut off:
I logged another first in my reporting career last week.
Your humble correspondent was booed.
And for that honor, I must thank either my own rude behavior -- or a bunch of folks with no appreciation for irony.
AP reports that actor and legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes has left the role of Chef on the snide adult cartoon "South Park" because he cannot abide its mockery of religion. One of the show's co-creators, Matt Stone, was quick to attack the singer's sudden departure after eight seasons:
Stone told AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin...This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians." Last November, "South Park" aired a Scientology-mocking episode where the child Stan is thought to be the second coming of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and Hollywood celebrities come to visit. When Stan mocks Tom Cruise, the actor locks himself in Stan's closet, allowing the writers to make endless gay jokes about Cruise refusing to come out of the closet.
Here's a little more from Brian Lamb's interview with Keith Olbermann on C-SPAN, in particular, more of his denying a liberal bias, lamely vowing he "goes after power," Republican or Democrat, and his explanations for why he has a regular "museum" of VHS tapes of his shows to preserve himself for posterity.
About halfway through the C-SPAN hour, Lamb played a typical "Countdown" clip, with Olbermann mocking Harry Whittington for suggesting the Cheney shooting accident happened on a "Friday" instead of a "Saturday." Lamb was a little blunt:
Lamb: "As you know, anybody watching this will see bias right there."
On C-SPAN’s Sunday night Brian Lamb interview show "Q & A," MSNBC "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann lit into Fox News Channel in an extended rant, suggesting that its demise was the "best hope of mankind." He could not believe their "fear"-based marketing strategy about being an oasis of balance in a liberal media world, was just agog at "the idea that there are vast [media] structures designed to foment liberal causes."
He also oddly claimed that while now he’s described as a "screaming liberal," no one called him that in his previous MSNBC stint during the Lewinsky scandal. Correction: the MRC gave him an award for outrageousness for comparing Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr to Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler.
John McCain made the front page in both Saturday's and Sunday's editions of the Washington Post. This is the first obvious sign of how the 2008 race will play out: once again, the liberal media will put Sen. McCain on a fluffy bed of pillows and carry his platform around while he feeds them donuts. They never seem to understand that their constant championing of him poisons what mild appeal McCain might have with the conservative base.
Satuday's story by Tom Edsall and Chris Cillizza was headlined "Money's Going to Talk in 2008." McCain's name was not in the first paragraphs of that story, but it was illustrated with a photo of McCain at this weekend's Memphis dog-and-pony show, and the caption explained "The Arizonan praised President Bush and muddied a straw poll by telling his supporters to write in Bush's name instead." (Edsall and Cillizza were talking about the big money-stakes this time around. Dan Balz had the McCain story from Memphis.)
The cover of The Washington Post "Book World" section Sunday preached environmental alarmism, with the headine: "Global Warning: Three New Books Argue That We Are Smothering Our Home." Inside, freelance journalist Thomas Hayden (no, not Jane-Fonda-marryin' Tom Hayden, a different one) touted three books, two of them featuring "objective" media authors: Elizabeth Kolbert, a former reporter for the New York Times, and Eugene Linden, a longtime global-warming soothsayer for Time magazine.
Hayden summarizes that the most discouraging problem is dealing with incredibly cautious media outlets, who have not been passionate enough in their exclusion of annoying and worthless conservatives and skeptical scientists:
In the weekly Friday afternoon roundtable with Cam Edwards at NRANews.com, he brought up three stories he had seen that he doubted had received much national media attention:
1. AP reported a sports-and-politics story from Puerto Rico: "While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: "Down With Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with fastball velocity." A Castro stooge was upset with a man with an anti-Castro sign. He was lectured on free speech by the local police.
2. Frank Greve of Knight-Ridder had an unusual story: chronicling something that didn't happen: a teen crime wave predicted by "conservative criminologist John DiIulio." Greve also notes he wrote a book on it with Bill Bennett. Neither man had comment. But there's still a good-news-for-Bush angle in it: "Americans are experiencing the sharpest decline in teen crime in modern history. Schools today are as safe as they were in the 1960s, according to Justice Department figures."
While CBS has its guru Michael "Clinton Rocks" O'Hanlon, ABC's "Good Morning America" today used another current hot morning pundit in New York Times columnist Thomas "In the Tank for Ethanol" Friedman. MRC's Brian Boyd noticed that when asked how Iran could punish America, Friedman grew positively giddy thinking about the whopping economic depression they could give us:
Charles Gibson: "When Iran threatens harm and pain what can they do necessarily? I mean, are they talking about restricting oil sales and cutting off oil and perhaps driving the price of oil up? Are they talking about causing more problems in Iraq for the United States, what?"
The shock waves on Katie Couric's attack on Ave Maria University and its dangerous Catholic culture with its "segregation," its "intolerance," its disrespect for "civil liberties" are spreading. Myrna Blyth picks it up today on National Review, noting the same Katie who whacked the founder of Domino's Pizza as a menace wrote get-cozy notes to the Unabomber to score an interview.
Here's another example of Katie picking on religiously centered towns only when they're Catholic. The town of New Square, New York (population 4,624) floated up to national attention in 2001, after it was discovered that this all-Hasidic Jewish community offered more than 99 percent of their votes for Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2000. On "Meet the Press," Tim Russert noted The New York Daily News reported President Clinton granted clemency to four men "convicted of swiping millions in federal education grants by establishing a fake Jewish school." The clemency came after Clinton held a White House meeting in December 2000 with Senator-elect Hillary Clinton and New Square Rabbi David Twersky. Guess how rough Katie Couric was on that exclusive community, with criminal convictions cleared in a political scandal?
Washington Post book reviewer Jabari Asim writes in a column on the Post website that he hopes the newfound notoriety for the Oscar-winning rap song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" will make the P-word too mainstream, that it will lose its "luster of hipness," and suggests new African-American slang.
My first suggestion: "scholar."
Imagine yourself amid all the men who used to gather aimlessly on street corners, lounge on the steps of other people's houses and hang out with the rest of the worshipful congregations outside package liquor stores -- all of you deeply absorbed in library books.
Except you can top them all by trundling down the street with -- you guessed it -- a wheelbarrow almost overflowing with the latest volumes by our nation's best authors.
AP hyped up the rest of the press last Wednesday about its "confidential" tape it wrongly suggested was evidence Bush lied about no one discussing the breaching of New Orleans levees before Hurricane Katrina. On Friday, AP backed down with a "clarification," admitting "The story should have made clear that Bush was warned about floodwaters overrunning the levees, rather than the levees breaking."
None of this is mentioned in Newsweek, which wraps up its issue on Sunday. Most egregiously ignoring the new AP line was Jonathan Alter's "Conventional Wisdom Watch," which continued its Keith Olbermannesque streak of shameless Bush bashing. Bush received his traditional down arrow with the snarky line: "Falsely claimed no one could have predicted New Orleans levee breach. Let's go to the videotape!"
ABC's Diane Sawyer is the cover girl of the April Ladies' Home Journal, and her interview with LHJ Editor Diane Salvatore has just a few tidbits for news junkies. When asked if she'll see a woman president in her lifetime, Sawyer answered, "Oh, absolutely. No question. I think something shifted. [What, the ABC drama Commander in Chief?] We don't see strength as exclusively masculine anymore. We don't see will as testosterone-laced. We see all of these characteristics in women."
But then it gets more political: "But I do think perhaps that people hope that women will do something about a war-torn world. Now, we don't know that women will be any more or less of anything in office. But I do think there's such a yearning for a less bellicose and territorial world." Here's some other Sawyer tidbits:
If you've already seen Brent Baker and Rich Noyes summarize how ABC downplayed their own Bush approval rating number after reporting CBS's lower number the week before, there's one more angle. How did ABC's partner, the Washington Post, play the poll? Pretty much the same. Tuesday's paper featured a front-page graphic showing 80 percent of poll respondents think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Then on A3, Post pollster Richard Morin highlighted the civil war finding. The headline: "Majority in U.S. Fears Iraq Civil War: Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush."
But "growing doubt" isn't found in the approval number. In paragraph six, we finally read: "Recent U.S. reversals in Iraq have not dramatically reduced overall support for President Bush, in contrast to some other national polls. His overall job approval rating stood at 41 percent, essentially unchanged from January. Nearly six in 10 disapproved of his job performance, the 11th consecutive survey since last April in which at least half the country has been critical of Bush's leadership." How are these polls slanted? Let us count the ways.
This week's hands-down winner in the Worthless Piece of Air category is Howard Fineman's page in Newsweek puffing up the presidential prospects of Rudy Giuliani. Any political reporter worth his salt knows that pro-gay, pro-abortion Rudy is this cycle's Republican Don Quixote. (Fineman, do you forget Arlen Specter for President? Or Pete Wilson for President? Aren't experienced political reporters supposed to reflect their experience?)
Fineman knows the score: "There are those who think the presence of a pro-choice, pro-gay rights New Yorker would help McCain by making him seem to be a comparative godsend to evangelicals." But then it's more ridiculous (not to mention more than a month old) to hype his January appearance before evangelical pastors in Florida:
After weeks of sounding peppy about Bob Woodruff's recovery, but leaving out one key sign of normal life, ABC brought on the anchorman's brother David to announce that Woodruff is now talking, even speaking some Chinese and German. The Woodruffs are still very dicey about how long recovery could take, but that's good news. His brother also says he smiled when he told him he still has a face for TV.
Even so, you still have to marvel at the logic of ABC News chief David Westin putting his brand-new co-anchor at so much risk with an Iraqi convoy. Here's Westin in the January 29 Washington Post:
"Moving away from the studio -- the hermetically sealed, perfectly coiffed theory of anchoring -- there is risk in that," Westin says. "In my view, the greater risk is keeping it the way it was."
Our man Dickens also discovered that over the weekend on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," Time columnist (and Clinton-loving "Anonymous" author) Joe Klein disagreed with Matthews on the artistic and political merit of the Best Picture winner, "Crash":
Joe Klein: “You look at these five, you look at these five movies and they are like a right-wing fantasy of what the Democratic Party is all about. It’s, one movie is about blacks, another movie is about Jews, another movie is about journalists, another movie is about a gay journalist and finally you have gay cowboys just to poke an eye in your face. Since all politics is local.”
MRC's Geoff Dickens reported that in the 9 am half hour of "Today," Katie Couric went mushy for "Crash," a movie even liberal critics disliked for its manipulative (and at times unrealistic) plotting. Couric even mentioned how she liked that her daughter's ninth grade class was shown the fictional L.A.-stuffed-with-racism flick to spur discussion about America's unending race problem.
Katie Couric: "And also I think, Chris [Bridges], don't you think that, that the things weren't so black and white, so to speak, in the, in the movie. You know people were very nuanced. They had very different sides to them. So there weren't clear cut lines between bad characters and good characters were there?"
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
How does the Washington Post tackle the thorny problem of liberal Hollywood being so far out of the cultural and political mainstream? This is a touchy issue for WashPost liberals, since they are living in the same ideological neighborhood and know all the landmarks. One funny way was to avoid the L-word altogether. The front-page headline on the Sunday paper was "And This Year's Oscar Goes to Social Issues." And, then, almost automatically, came the snide sub-headline suggesting the rest of the country just isn't as wonderfully humane: "Hollywood Is Pushing Hot-Button Topics, but Does America Care?"
Clay Waters told me I had to look at Dawn Eden's latest post on a discussion she had with a British reporter friend (apparently Harry Mount of the London Telegraph) about a story he was doing from South Dakota on abortion. The article's aerobically slanted (that is, the reporter worked so hard to be biased that he must have been winded). I love this part:
Mindful of the threat to their lives, and the precedent of other doctors killed by "pro-life" zealots, each flies in once a month to perform up to 30 operations and leaves the same day.
Abortion is dividing opinion across the United States again, nowhere more so than in the heartland where the Bible and the right to bear arms are held in equal reverence.
Trolling through the wire-service news on Yahoo! can be a bit of an adventure. This Agence France Presse dispatch on China's "parliament" is a good example. To the less educated among us, they might think China's a Western-style democracy. The unbylined article began with the usual liberal focus on the maldistribution of wealth:
China's parliament opens its annual session amid high security with Premier Wen Jiabao listing the plight of the nation's rural poor and the fast-rising wealth gap as top national priorities.
You have to read all the waaaay down to paragraph 20 (!) to get the obvious point: "Although the congress is the world's largest parliament, it is regarded as a rubber-stamp body for the country's Communist Party rulers who have led China since 1949." That is the first time in the article the word "communist" appears.
Our colleagues down the hall and in Los Angeles at the Parents Television Council were not thrilled to see the Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes (pronounced de-more-ice) crack wise over their study on Friday. Just check the headline: "Violence! Violence! Violence! Burps! Nose Picking!" She began with a dismissive tone: "Self-appointed TV watchdog Brent Bozell has put out the gazillionth study on children's television, in which he reveals that there is more violence on children's entertainment programming than in prime time." She makes fun that the study's author, Kristen Fyfe, and the PTC gang that watched the kiddie shows counted for gross bodily functions.
On her Friday afternoon online Post chat, when asked why she even bothered with the PTC study, since the questioner thought, "why do they deserve your attention? I think their claims are so ridiculous that they shouldn't even appear on the TV pages," she replied, "because, my avid reader, having covered the TV industry for so long, you get a sense of when there is going to be a 'pile on.' And you never want to miss a good pile on..."
Hours before the AP released its videotape featuring just a voice of Gov. Kathleen Blanco insisting meekly that she didn’t think the levees had been breached, National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" aired an interview of Gov. Blanco with "ATC" co-anchor Michele Norris. (She pronounces it "Me-chelle.") Norris tells the listener the audio is a bit dated ("We sat down with her in New Orleans this week"), but her questions are incredibly mild and sympathetic, with no question of Blanco’s judgment or competence during or since the hurricane and flooding -- or her "Martha Stewart" state office refurbishing (see below).
Norris began: "The state’s been promised more than 10 billion dollars in recovery assistance from the White House, but Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco says the state needs much more help...She said lawmakers in Washington can’t fully understand her state’s needs until they see the devastation for themselves."
In a common, subtle move of media sympathy, Norris avoided airing her initial question, airing just the Governor’s answer, merely underlining the horror in the hurricane’s path. Blanco explained:
A telephone tipster made a very interesting point to us today about The Washington Post. In the midst of their coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and a Vermont campaign-finance limit case, the Post found no room Wednesday for the pro-life win in NOW v. Scheidler. (That's the case where NOW tried to have clinic protesters charged under a mob-racketeering statute.) The Post could argue that the case is a bit of a rerun: the court dismissed it in 2003, only to have a federal judge keep the case alive like a zombie. But the court ruled 8 to 0 and the feminists were routed in the opinion by none other than liberal Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer. USA Today published a fairly prominent, thorough piece Wednesday on Page A-4.
Former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas gave an interview to Campus Progress, the campus project of the liberal Center for American Progress. Her theme, unsurprisingly, was that the Washington press corps is a bulk pack of weenies:
Starting after 9/11, they rolled over and played dead—they were so afraid of being called unpatriotic and un-American and they thought the American people were watching on television. They lost their guts and they did a lousy job. It was so clear, for two years, that President Bush wanted to go to war. Every day on the podium in the press room, we heard Ari Fleischer and then Scott McClellan say in one breath, “9/11—Saddam Hussein—9/11—Saddam Hussein—9/11—.” So later on when they said, no, Saddam Hussein had no links with them it was a little late in the game.
When asked if Hollywood is liberal (culturally or politically), whether it's outside the American mainstream, or attempting to drag it to the left, two big stars told CNN's Larry King no. On Monday night, MRC's Megan McCormack noticed that Jon Stewart, preparing to emcee the Oscars, said the idea that Hollywood is liberal and getting in the face of conservatives is not a real issue:
Male caller: "Hello. I was wondering, regarding the, the cultural war we have between Republicans and Hollywood, how Jon feels this year’s crop of nominees and the films that Hollywood chooses to celebrate, is that Hollywood thumbing it’s nose at Republicans, or does it give a kind of vindication to the Republican party, and possibly allow some backlash? Could Hollywood find, in a time when censorship’s becoming a real issue again, could it hurt ‘em?"
In an interview with NPR's "On The Media," former ABC reporter Dave Marash, now signed up for the English-language version of al-Jazeera, goes almost faint singing the praises of his new employer:
Al-Jazeera in Arabic is, I believe, one of the most revolutionary and positive influences on the Arabic-speaking, mostly Islamic Middle Eastern world in, literally, centuries. It has opened up public discourse and it has brought American standards of reporting to an area that previously had nothing but really moronically state-controlled television and news operations.
NewsBuster Tom Johnson has condensed his time reviewing NPR broadcasts for MRC (poor man) into an article for The American Enterprise magazine. His general theory is that NPR has traveled from a fairly radical past to a present in which it's fairly indistinguishable in its biases from the rest of the "mainstream" media establishment. Here's an excerpt:
Most old-school or throwback leftist bias on NPR falls into one of three categories, listed below in ascending order of importance.
The first contains examples of a frequently amusing sociopolitical exoticism. In October 2004, for example, All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block referred to Ralph Nader as a "major" Presidential candidate. A few days after the election, reporter Pam Fessler gave "international monitors" plenty of time to gripe about how voting rules in the U.S. vary from state to state.
MRC's Mike Rule passed along to me that NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg explained on the weekend chat show "Inside Washington" how she doesn't root for American wins at the Olympics: "I sort of like other countries to win a fair number of medals, it’s supposed to be an international competition, and it’s nice when other countries win. I don’t root for us particularly."
This is more proof that the liberal media are out of step with most Americans, who love to wave their flags and root for Apolo and Sasha and Shani and Chad and so on to win the gold. But Totenberg is not alone. In 2002, CBS and NBC anchors were extremely agitated at the thought of American "nationalism" ruining the games in Salt Lake City:
It is not routine for our liberal media to see American troops as "avenging angels" against terror in Iraq. But it's interesting when they ignore Iraqis using those terms. Over at The Corner, Jim Robbins reports:
Mudville Gazette has a great rundown on a good news story from Iraq that the MSM has chosen to spike. Seems that Najim Abdullah Abid al-Jibouri, the Mayor of the city of Tall Afar, wrote a lengthy thank you letter to the troops of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment for saving his town from the scourge of the terrorists. He writes that the soldiers "are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism." Tall Afar used to be a ghost town run by bad guys; now it is peaceful and prosperous. This letter has been getting wide circulation on military email lists. The Washington Post had the letter but refused to print it. Imagine that!