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:
Back in January, Oprah Winfrey featured bombastic liberal New York Times columnist Frank Rich in a show about James Frey's lying memoir, in which Rich quickly brought up Enron and Bush lying us into war. Mrs. Graham alerted me that Oprah's doing it again on Thursday, an October surprise: Frank Rich promoting his Bush-bashing book "The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina."
The on-air promo Tuesday and the online promo don't mention Rich's name, but do feature his face. The show's title is "Truth in America." The online promo is short, but matches Rich's book title: "An Oprah special...what is the truth? The war in Iraq, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, media reports....are we getting the real story? Do we really want to hear it? A controversial hour..." The on-air promo doesn't show another guest -- as in someone who would debate Rich, but we do see a female audience member insisting "I support the president...and what he did."
One of the real challenges in following the liberal protests of disgust at the Mark Foley scandal is their ever-changing yardstick of morality. Take Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman, whose nationally syndicated dose of feminism seems to wander based on whose ox is gored. Goodman sounds like every other Democrat in suddenly discovering the sheer power of a sex scandal, something she must have decried in the Clinton years:
This scandal is what has registered on the political Richter scale. This is what voters are asking their representatives about. The late political scientist James David Barber once said that nobody understands the word "deficit,'' but everyone understands the word "adultery.'' Maybe nobody knows what to think about solving the problem of Iraq, but they know what to think about the Florida congressman instant-messaging a teenage page: "how's my favorite young stud doing?''
Tuesday's Washington Post carries one of those editorials disguised as a "news analysis" headlined "Bush's 'Axis of Evil' Comes Back to Haunt United States." The writers displayed their liberal stripes by quoting only Democrats and Clinton staffers. Reporters Glenn Kessler and Peter Baker began:
Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation: North Korea has claimed it conducted its first nuclear test, Iran refuses to halt its uranium-enrichment program, and Iraq appears to be tipping into a civil war 3 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion.
In Tuesday's Washington Post, Peter Marks praises "Get Your War On," a left-wing comedy performance at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Unsurprisingly, the critic from the liberal paper finds invective is a lovely thing, if applied to conservatives:
As they padded for time waiting for a live statement on the North Korean nuclear test from President Bush in the 9 am hour of Today on Monday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell scolded that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright were building reconciliation between North and South Korea, but Bush came in and ruined it, overruling his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, "cutting him off at the knees." Typically, Today co-host Matt Lauer insisted the North Korean nuclear test was just the latest in a string of bad news for Bush, from Iraq and Iran to the Mark Foley page scandal.
Matt Lauer led into the Clinton-praising section: "Andrea, I have to say as David [Gregory] mentioned a second ago, when I was there a few years ago it was surprising to me that there is starting to be this communication and actual physical contact between South and North Korea. This, there's a super highway being built that really connects the two."
Shailagh Murray's front-page story in the Washington Post today is called "A Balancing Act in the Upper South." A better title might have been "I'm NARAL-Endorsed, But I'm Hoping You Don't Notice." It's funny how Murray can't seem to locate that endorsement, and she doesn't call McCaskill a pro-abortion liberal, but she is merely in the "mainstream" -- of the liberal Democratic Party:
As a supporter of abortion rights, McCaskill fits into her party's mainstream on the biggest of all lightning rods for cultural conservatives.She responds by mostly not talking about it, and is attempting to define her values more broadly.
Buried on page 6 of the New York Times Business section, Noam Cohen reported a juicy media-bias story: "At Reuters, a New Book and a Lost Job," which suggests that Reuters, the supposedly unbiased wire service, is dismissing a financial editor for authoring a book attacking Ann Coulter. After all, the company principles state Reuter highly values the principles of “integrity, independence and freedom from bias.” As they did with Adnan Hajj's fauxtography? And their failure to use the word terrorist as "two planes" attacked New York on 9/11?
In case you thought the Foley story was wrapping up on Friday, be warned that both Time and Newsweek weren't buying that. They wanted a chance to build its place in history/Republican infamy. Both covers are quite transparently partisan for the politically sensitive time of the season. Time has a huge black and white picture of an elephant's butt, with the words: "What a mess...Why a tawdry Washington sex scandal may spell the end of the Republican revolution". Time has been rooting for the end of the Republican revolution since they suggested it was in danger of killing off the "human species" back in the first month of the new GOP-majority congress in 1995.
At the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert warmly remembered longtime New York Times reporter R. W. Apple, well known not only for his journalism, but for his love of fine food and his tendency to wear bright dress shirts (some looked like picnic table tablecloths). As he displayed an old clip of Apple in a very early 1970s long-hair-and-big-sideburns combo, Russert put it this way: "For 43 years, he wrote for The New York Times with brio and clarity...R.W. ‘Johnny’ Apple, one great writer, one very unique character."
May he rest in peace. It should come as no surprise that a famous Timesman like Apple would display a fair amount of Manhattan ultraliberalism in his public career. Here are a few examples culled from the Notable Quotables archives:
For Virginia voters who may want a story or two about where their Senate candidates stand on the issues, they may want to try a newspaper other than The Washington Post. Once again today, aggressively Allen-bashing reporter Michael Shear is skipping the issues and sticking to personal attacks. At the top of Metro, Shear once again tried to undermine Allen for wearing cowboy boots and riding a horse in parades. Byron York already made the case very effectively at The Corner, so here he is:
Shear reports that "Allen's detractors" make fun of his fondness for all things cowboy. "To them, it screams phony," Shear writes. Shear quotes one such detractor who says, "With all due respect, I know cowboys. I grew up with cowboys. I have nephews who bull ride. I'm sorry, George, you're not a cowboy."
The TV networks have enough trouble noticing a single governor's race across the country. But for some reason, the attorney general's race in New York drew attention when Republican candidate Jeanine Pirro drew a federal investigation for wanting to have her cheating husband wire-tapped. (NBC's Today has aired five segments or mentions of Pirro in the last ten days.) Will NBC and others in national TV news report on her opponent, Andrew Cuomo, and his weird habit of investing campaign money in risky hedge funds run by supporters? The New York Times reported on page A-24 on Friday:
Two years ago, Andrew M. Cuomo put more than half of his campaign treasury into a hedge fund, making him one of the few New York politicians to invest campaign money in anything riskier than a sure bet.
In the case of Mr. Cuomo, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, the hedge fund was directed by one of his largest financial backers, a man who also handled Mr. Cuomo’s personal money. The investment of $750,000 turned out to be all upside, with a return of nearly 20 percent after one year.
In his column on the decline and fall of morality on television this week, Brent Bozell applies scrutiny to the TV critics, a group of people often pushing and shoving the networks to shatter every moral barrier, break through every standard of taste. Showtime has a new series titled "Dexter," featuring actor Michael C. Hall in the title role, slobbered over by the critics for his role as the repressed gay funeral director in HBO's "Six Feet Under." This new show makes a hero out of a sadistic serial killer, because his insatiable desire to kill is channeled into killing other bad guys. During the day, he helps the cops catch other killers by assessing blood spatter patterns. Brent writes "He’s a sociopathic killer-slash-hero, with the emphasis on the slash – he carves his victims up to fit into Hefty bags." Here's more:
As pay-cable pioneers, always pushing the newest disgusting "edge" with an eye on extremely jaded TV critics, Showtime executives feel warm that they have brought more understanding to the world on behalf of the much-maligned serial killer. Said Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt: "This is a complex and fascinating look at serial killers, which, up to this point, have been marginalized and made two-dimensional."
Society has "marginalized" serial killers? Silly me. Here, all along, I thought those folks had done that to themselves.
Brian Maloney at the Radio Equalizer blog reports the latest in the Air America stealing-from-the-children financial scandal: New York officials have indicted two execs at the Gloria Wise Community Center. Will the flurry of news coverage Brian recounts ever make its way to the mainstream media? The local CBS affilate reported:
Two former executives at a government-funded youth organization whose finances were scrutinized after it diverted money to the liberal radio network Air America were charged Thursday with misappropriating $1.2 million of the non-profit's funds.
Charles Rosen, a former executive director at the Gloria Wise Community Center, and his former assistant director, Jeffrey Aulenbach, face charges of grand larceny and obstructing governmental administration. Rosen was also charged with forgery.
TVNewser notes "Dan Rather Reports will still be coming soon to Mark Cuban's HDNet. Just not as soon," Ed Bark reports. The program was to launch in October. But in an e-mail, Cuban now says: "We are moving Dan back to after the elections so there won't be as much going on." Perhaps it's because the last weeks of an election season, he looks a little like Captain Ahab, "reckless, arrogant, and ideologically blind in his pursuit of Moby Bush."
At the CBS Public Eye site, Vaughn Ververs reported that a CBS employee (a tape archivist they claim somehow doesn't count as a news gatherer, just a tape gatherer) sent a nasty Foley-related note to the RNC:
MRC's Rich Noyes has calculated the number of Mark Foley/Will Hastert Quit? stories for Week One of the scandal on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from last Friday night, September 29, through Friday morning, October 6. So for evening shows, it's Friday to Thursday. For morning shows, it's Saturday through Friday. (One or two evening stories and a smattering of morning stories are brief anchor updates.)The number's a little shocking: 103 stories. It breaks down like this:
-- ABC: Good Morning America, 23 stories; World News, 15 stories
-- CBS: The Early Show, 17 stories; Evening News, 11 stories
The editorialists at the Chicago Tribune aren't ready yet to declare that Speaker Dennis Hastert has to be tossed aside, but before they get too high and mighty about the safety of teenagers from lecherous Members of Congress, we should recall that the Trib editorialized in favor of what would become Bill Clinton's last-minute pardon of Mel Reynolds, the convicted teen-sex/child-porn/obstruction of justice Democratic congressman. Headlined "Reynolds, Not Rosty, Needs Mercy," the Trib complained that disgraced Dan Rostenkowski didn't need the Clinton pardon, unlike Reynolds:
Mel Reynolds, elected in 1992 after knocking off 2nd District incumbent Gus Savage, was convicted on state charges related to his sexual relationship with a teenage girl, and then on federal charges of bank and campaign fraud. He's been locked up since October, 1995, first doing his state time and then going to federal prison to serve an unusually harsh 61/2-year sentence that, if nothing is done, will keep him behind bars until March, 2003 -- leaving his wife and three young children to fend for themselves.
NRO Media Blog notes that George Soros blew a Clinton-style gasket at Neil Cavuto on Fox Thursday afternoon. Cavuto raised his accented ire by noting that he may not be paying all those taxes on the super-rich that the Left constantly demands, since his Quantum Fund is registered in the Netherlands Antilles, in Curacao:
Cavuto: "So your taxes in this country... are they at the 35 percent rate?"
Soros: "I would like to discuss policy. You are now falling into the trap of your colleagues at Fox who shall remain nameless because I think they are so disreputable, I wouldn't want to mention their names!"
Cavuto: "Mr. Soros, I don't think -- "
Soros: "I respect you. That's why I came here, alright? Let's not get personal."
John F. Harris explores the role of the "new media" in politics in a Friday front-page story related to his new book "How to Win." Bill Clinton told Harris that they expect the (liberal) old media to crush the new media, as Kerry expected the old media to defeat the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
Democrats of his generation tend to be naive about new media realities. There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies -- and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.
"We're all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the '60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate," Clinton said. "Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations."
Congressman Barney Frank’s scandalous tolerance of a gay prostitution business operating out of his house, uncovered by the Washington Times in 1989, drew from ABC nowhere near the dramatic amount of attention ABC gave Mark Foley. On the August 25, 1989 World News Tonight, Sam Donaldson noted it just once in passing, a mere 67 words:
"Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, an acknowledged homosexual, today confirmed that his Washington apartment had been used as a callboy headquarters by a male prostitute for a year and a half until late 1987. Responding to a story in today's Washington Times, Frank said he had hired the prostitute out of his own funds as a personal aide and fired him when he found out what was going on."
When the story broke in July of 1983 on the sexual affairs with House pages by Reps. Daniel Crane and Gerry Studds, ABC did not fuel days of speculation about whether Speaker Tip O’Neill would resign. (Fun fact: when Studds was censured, Speaker O’Neill did not cast a vote. Three Democrats voted against Studds being censured.) By the time Studds ran in a primary re-election campaign in September 1984, ABC aired a report telling the nation that Studds faced only "a strong sense of loyalty" and forgiveness from the voters in Massachusetts.
On July 14, 1983, ABC reporter Charles Gibson reported:
"In both cases, the relationships were voluntary, there was no favoritism granted to the pages. Thus it was the recommendation of the committee's special counsel, Joseph Califano, that the Congressmen not be expelled or censured, simply reprimanded and by an eleven to one vote, the Ethics Committee agreed."
Talk about a double standard. On the one hand, ABC News breaks stories pushing disgust at Mark Foley's "X-rated emails" with teenagers, and suggests Dennis Hastert should resign for being unable to stop them. But wait: ABC Entertainment rolls out the adult-on-teen gay sex scenes on ABC's smutty "Desperate Housewives" for fun and profit. It wins awards for ABC as "Best Comedy." How serious is ABC and Disney about the sexual exploitation of teens by adults? Doesn't it make money presenting it as saucy?
Congressman Mel Reynolds, the Democrat convicted of 12 charges, including sex with 16-year-old Beverly Heard and asking her to take pornographic photographs of a 15-year old, was indicted on August 21, 1994. ABC, the current scourge of congressional teen-sex scandals, reported nothing – until Reynolds was convicted a year later, on August 23, 1995. In fact, on May 13, 1994, ABC featured Reynolds in a "Person of the Week" speaking out in favor of two Chicago ladies fighting child molesters:
Peter Jennings: " Their local congressman is certainly on their side. He also wants to make child molesting a federal offense."
Rep. Mel Reynolds (D), Illinois: "These ladies really illustrate how being active in your community can really make a difference."
In The New York Post, terrorism expert and journalist Steven Emerson protested that CNN and Newsday warped the views of Republican Congressman Peter King on an Islamic group, and how they want to blame 9/11 on a Zionist conspiracy instead of al-Qaeda:
THE media is engaged in a jihad against Rep. Peter King - a jihad in defense of Islamist extremists.
King, a Long Island Republican, has warned his constituents that some leaders of the Islamic Center of Long Island have "publicly stated that the CIA or the 'Zionists' may have been behind the attacks" of 9/11.
The record backs him up. Indeed, the center's leadership has a long history of extremism. But both Newsday and CNN chose to ignore the facts and smear King.
CNN's Lou Dobbs eagerly promoted PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers on Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, describing him as a "distinguished journalist" and "certainly one of this country's most respected journalists." Not as one of the country's most liberal journalists. Dobbs not only promoted his Wednesday PBS show "Capitol Crimes," those words were also the graphic for the segment. Dobbs and Moyers agreed that campaigns today are merely the exchange of bribes, and Moyers added that the McCain-Feingold crackdown on campaign speech is a mere "fig leaf" of regulation.
Dobbs began: "Let's hear what one of the people you chronicle and hear from in the special says, R.G. Ratcliffe, the Houston Chronicle reporter."
R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle: "Just the kinds and ways that dollars have flowed into the system in recent years have led to something of a form of institutional corruption. And the kind of thing that you want to watch for, it is not a very big step from a campaign contribution to a bribe."