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."
In the June 25 edition of People magazine, Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon takes part in a "Q&A" surrounding her new job as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent." People poured some gasoline with a Rosie question, and Mrs. Osbourne lit a match:
PEOPLE: As an ex-talk show host, thoughts on the The View's Rosie O'Donnell-Elisabeth Hasselbeck feud?
OSBOURNE: Elisabeth needs a lobotomy! How can she defend the Bush administration? Being pregant doesn't [screw] with your head that much.
That's funny. How can a woman married to crazy Ozzy Osbourne attack defenders of George Bush as defending the indefensible? AP's Erin Carlson suggested Sharon Osbourne could be Rosie's replacement on The View. But the oddest part of that story is Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, who thinks Joy "Republicans Cause Cerebral Hemorrhages, Don't They?" Behar is a voice of reason:
Sometimes, it’s a little tough for the Fox News-bashing left to stamp the Ailes Network with the Uniformly Right-Wing complaint. For example, it’s not every day that Fox News looks liberal on CNN. But I caught the new commercial for leftist propagandist Michael Moore’s new mockumentary "Sicko" on CNN late this morning. One of three ecstatic reviewers in the TV ad is Roger Friedman of FOXNews.com ("Brilliant!")
Is that one of those tricky studio edits that doesn’t really represent the critic’s opinion? Um, no. Friedman’s online review was a rave. It began: "Filmmaker Michael Moore's brilliant and uplifting new documentary, ‘Sicko,’ deals with the failings of the U.S. healthcare system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity."
Most notoriously, the Court, for the first time in its history, upheld a categorical ban on an abortion procedure. The case dealt with so-called partial-birth abortion—a procedure performed rarely, often when there are extraordinary risks to the mother, the fetus, or both.
Writes Brian, as he nominates this for stupidest quote of the year: "Oh, sure. As if an abortionist takes risks to the fetus into account!" What genius from the Harvard man (B.A. 1982, J.D., 1986)!
Don’t look now, but rock musicians are calling the president an idiot again. Rolling Stone’s latest issue is completely obsessed with promoting Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts, and includes interviews with rockers predictably trashing wars for oil and hailing the Goracle. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd stood out with the Bush-bashing:
"It would help if we could divert some of our resources away from blowing each other to bits and toward think tanks. Something has gone wrong with the democratic process when you can get idiots rising to offices of extreme power, like the presidency of the United States of America. George Bush – you could not make a worse choice in someone to lead the most powerful nation in the free world."
AP's David Bauder interviewed disgraced Bush-hating ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather, and includes this fun fact about his current HDNet digs: "Two former CBS News producers run the 'Dan Rather Reports' staff with their boss. Their office a few steps away from Times Square -- Rather critics will love this -- is located in the Bush Building."
At Human Events, Chris Plante has a funny take on CBS's answers to Dan Rather's attack on soft-soap Katie Couric and the supposed sexism that's causing her low ratings:
Maybe if Katie delivered the news in a white, embroidered apron from a studio decorated like a 1950’s kitchen we’d all tune in. She could open the broadcast with a nicely browned turkey on a platter, placing it gingerly on a French country table with lace doilies and then spend 30 minutes lying to us. The CBS Evening News with Barbara Billingsley.
MRC intern Michael Lanza reports that late-night PBS talk show host Charlie Rose is nothing if not complimentary toward the glitterati of the left. On the June 12 show, he had to insist that leftist hedge-fund philanthropist George Soros was a "promoter of democracy" when a guest who worked for him started noting he was a socialist. On June 4, during his interview with Carl Bernstein on his Hillary biography, Rose oozed that the impeached former president was "the most curious human being on the planet." Rose also asked Bernstein if there was a "vast right-wing conspiracy" against the Clintons:
ROSE: Is this something like a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?
BERNSTEIN: The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy I think existed.
News people often hedge on the accuracy of the existence of God, but National Public Radio showed an ease in declaring they were in the presence of a "goddess" (no quote marks for her) on Thursday's All Things Considered newscast. The "feminine divine" in question was 9-year-old Sajani Shakya. Anchor Michele Norris proclaimed "she is a goddess, or Kumari, venerated as a deity in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal," who was visiting Washington as part of the Silverdocs film festival. NPR reporter Neda Ulaby began:
ULABY: The goddess is, frankly, a little jet-lagged. But adorned with golden saffron robes and a ceremonial third eye painted on her forehead, she's the most majestic 9-year-old this classroom of American kids has ever met.
On Friday's Good Morning America, ABC reporter Dan Harris relayed the news that Bill Clinton and Al Gore are now very rich men. But he couldn't do it without mangling a fact or two. Harris began:
"Think about it, when Bill Clinton and Al Gore both left the White House, they both had some serious financial problems. Now they both have some serious cash. President Clinton left power in 2001 dogged by legal bills. But last year, he made more than $10 million in paid speeches, according to new federal filings released by his wife’s presidential campaign."
When Bill Clinton left the White House, his wife had already agreed to an $8 million book advance. If the Clinton marriage means their assets are held in common, it couldn't accurately be said Clinton "had some serious financial problems" with the legal bills. Harris also ignored the Clintons had a multi-million-dollar legal defense fund to defray costs. Listen to NBC's Andrea Mitchell touting Bill's big $12 million book deal in August 2001:
Clay Waters of Times Watch alerted me to a new item in the Shameless Hillary Department: Ben Smith at Politico.com reports Mother Teresa's missionaries have protested Hillary's use of a photograph of her waving next to Mother Teresa in a Hillary campaign video, in which the announcer said: "Hillary in effect, was the face of America, in Africa, in India..." The picture was used as the words "in India" were narrated. Will the rest of the media follow up on this story?
The head of a politically conservative Catholic group, Fidelis, said he brought the video to the attention of Sister Nirmala, Teresa's successor at the Superior General of the India-based Missionaries of Charity. Fidelis president Joseph Cella called it "wholly inappropriate, disrespectful and disturbing that Hillary Clinton shamelessly exploited Mother’s image as a political tool."
Chris Matthews grew "verklempt," he said, on Wednesday night’s Hardball, as he pondered how a class reunion made plain for him that some people watch him every night, and trust him like people trusted Walter Cronkite. From there, Matthews and his guests took up the subject of objectivity in journalism:
Ana Marie Cox, Time.com: "I also want to say that this idea about voice being very important to the current viewer and, and Eugene’s right that it’s true, that this idea that we should be aiming for objective truth in, in journalism is a relatively new thing for us."
Chris Matthews: "I agree."
Cox: "And I think what’s important is that people trust, they could trust an unbiased [sic], they could trust a biased source."
Matthews: "Okay, this country was built on biased reporting."