On the top right of Friday’s front page of The New York Times is a story headlined "Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support In Poll: Majority Favors Path to Legal Status for Illegal Aliens." Reporters Julia Preston and Marjorie Connelly wrote the story in a way that framed the poll like a memo to Congress, saying "Please pass the bill, the polling water’s warm."
The reporters claim the American public is "taking a pragmatic stand on a divisive issue," which could be interpreted to mean they change their answers based on how the poll question is phrased. It's so divisive individual voters have two different opinions depending on the pollster's lingo. But Preston and Connelly began by insisting: "As opponents from the right and left challenge an immigration bill before Congress, there is broad support among Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – for the major provisions in the legislation."
Just how leftist is Michael Moore on health care as he promoted his new "Sicko" documentary? Time found out:
TIME: Of the declared presidential candidates, down to the Dennis Kucinich level, say, who do you think has the best health-care plan? Including Kucinich? We could include him.
Michael Moore: Then Kucinich, but he doesn’t go far enough. He supports what he’s calling a single- payer nonprofit plan, but from my read, it would still allow [private] entities to control things, as opposed to the government. What’s wrong with the government? The right wing and the G.O.P. have done a wonderful job brainwashing people that government doesn’t work, and then, as Al Franken says, they get elected and proceed to prove the point. [Laughs.]
The Washington Post reports on the top of the front page Friday that it's been given copies of the new Hillary biographies by former Post star Carl Bernstein and New York Times reporters Jeff Gerth and Don van Natta. Since they're media-elite fixtures and not "ideological enemies," they "could be harder to dismiss," the Post says. Reporters Peter Baker and John Solomon explained: "The Hillary Clinton who emerges from the pages of the books comes across as a complicated, sometimes compromised figure who tolerated Bill Clinton's brazen infidelity, pursued her policy and political goals with methodical drive, and occasionally skirted along the edge of the truth along the way." Talk about your weasel words!
While the Clintonista spokesmen emerge with the usual lines (It's old news, "cash for rehash"), the most interesting part of the Post summary is how the books underline how preposterous it was for Hillary to describe herself in her 2003 memoir as "gasping for breath" at the idea of Clinton's adulterous liaisons with the intern Monica Lewinsky. Instead of the clueless ingenue of her fictional memoir, Hillary plotted to destroy Bill's bimbos, even interviewing them herself:
Put aside for a minute the chuckles over a leftist magazine, dedicated to the poor of the earth and the worship of Mother Earth, holding a cruise for the rich on a big, polluting cruise ship. Guess who's coming to dinner on The Nation's Tenth Annual Seminar Cruise? Mary Mapes, touted on the Nation Cruise website as the "Peabody Award Winning Former CBS News Producer." It should read: "Phony Document Specialist/Celebrated Smearer of Bush's National Guard Record."
For those who would protest this environmental violation, the Nation Cruise website also pleads its case that "The Nation has partnered with EcoLogic to reforest an area in Guatemala recently devastated by mudslides, planting enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by each Nation cruise passenger on this 7-day cruise." Of course, "the cost is $11 and is strictly optional." Imagine: the cruise could cost $8600 per person, but you can't spare the carbon offset change?
In an article honoring Dallas as "The Lavender Heart of Texas," Time writer John Cloud began with an unusually personal story of his political transformation, "trading movement conservatism for gay libertarianism." When you consider how he stereotypes conservatism as all about J.R. Ewing and an "air of profligacy," you could understand why it was easy to leave:
When I was a kid in Arkansas in the 1980s, we viewed Dallas with something approaching reverence. Mine was a fairly conservative family, aspirational. We passionately golfed and occasionally visited Neiman Marcus, the Dallas clothier that taught the South how to wear Versace and an air of profligacy. I wanted to drive a Mercedes and order bourbon and branch the way J.R. Ewing did. I wanted to go out with a Cowboys cheerleader with marcelled blond hair. The summer I was 13, Ronald Reagan was renominated in Dallas, and I signed up to be a young volunteer.
All three news magazines devoted a page to remembering Jerry Falwell this week, but Time and Newsweek were each obnoxious in their own way. Time ended their article with a dismissive quote from leftist Jim Wallis: "the Evangelicals have left the Right. They now reside with Jesus." Newsweek displayed false generosity in saying sometimes he was a demagogue, and sometimes he was the ringmaster of a circus: "He could be a demagogue, but he was as much a P.T. Barnum as anything else."
Time magazine, in a back-page article titled "Jerry's Kids" -- which could be an insulting reference to Falwell followers, but is probably intended to bless his more palatable, "more moderate" successors -- Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs suggested that Falwell thought party labels were more important than the social issues:
Multichannel News magazine reports that the History Channel will air the documentary "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed" on May 28 at 9 PM. But it has some unconventional movie pundits.
Eric J. Smith felt "History should be applauded for the diverse group of commentators it has drawn together. Politicians Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich give their opinions alongside journalists Linda Ellerbee, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather. And their voices are joined by intellectuals like Camille Paglia and Mary Henderson (author of Star Wars: The Magic of Myth), directors Peter Jackson and Kevin Smith and comedian Stephen Colbert."
Jonathan Last notes there's also Iranian commentary on the last installment of the series.
The Today show’s very belated attack on Rush Limbaugh on Monday, complete with Hillary’s minions comparing the hilarious Al Sharpton parody to a "minstrel show" (complete with blackface film clip), reminds me: how did NBC cover the last blackface controversy? That would be leftist blogger Jane Hamsher Photo-shopping Joe Lieberman in blackface on The Huffington Post last August 2 as she claimed he was an "integral part of the GOP’s bully machine for the last six years."
NBC didn’t. A Nexis search for terms like "minstrel show" and "blackface" found no mention of the blogger who stepped over the line. On the August 6 edition of Meet the Press, in a segment featuring Lanny Davis for Lieberman and Jim (brother of Howard) Dean for Ned Lamont, host Tim Russert ended with a very weak tip to the bloggers in that race:
Today's funny headline, from The Washington Post: "Bush Is 'the Worst in History' In Foreign Relations, Carter Says." The AP doesn't not seem to see what's funny in these remarks: this clown couldn't manage a hostage rescue in the desert, and he's denouncing this president? The article had no reference to Carter's foreign policy failures as president.
AP reported "The denunciation of a sitting president was unprecedented for Carter, a biographer said." That biographer was Douglas Brinkley, who wrote a very favorable book on Carter's post-presidency years. But the tone doesn't sound all that different from Carter's 2004 speech to the Democrat convention, when he kvetched that all the post-9/11 good will "has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations."
The New York Times explored Hillary Clinton’s service on the Wal-Mart Board of Directors in the Sunday newspaper. Reporter Michael Barbaro employed a typical focus on inoculating liberals against conservative attack: "Her years on the Wal-Mart board, from 1986 to 1992, gave her an unusual tutorial in the ways of American business — a credential that could serve as an antidote to Republican efforts to portray her as an enemy of free markets and an advocate for big government."
Citing a board of directors credential is hardly proof you’re not an advocate of big government. Just think of all the major corporations – including NBC-owning General Electric – that eagerly allied themselves with the Clinton tax and health plans in 1993. Major corporations and big government are often the coziest of allies. Barbaro sinks into the usual template about how this shows how Hillary the Trailblazing Idealist is an odd match for Hillary the Get-Along-to-Go-Along Pragmatist:
On the CBS News website Public Eye, newly minted CBS man Jeff Greenfield saw no danger that the 2008 campaign will be drenched with a liberal bias, even though he admits that "most members of the so-called mainstream media, undoubtedly, in the voting booth, vote Democratic." He pulls out a familiar argument: when liberal losers lose, it’s easy to argue that they weren’t beneficiaries of liberal media bias: "But in my view the danger of bias does not lie in political coverage. I mean, ask Al Gore and John Kerry if they were the beneficiary of a poodle press. They were treated very critically – appropriately."
Before we address Gore and Kerry coverage, let’s make an obvious point: the Public Eye site was developed to help undo the damage that CBS’s horrendous and sloppy anti-Bush bias on the "draft dodging" charge in the fall of 2004. Greenfield ought to at least tip his skeptic’s hat toward that example before serving up his pooh-pooh platter.
In Saturday's Washington Post, Style section writer Jose Antonio Vargas wrote light-hearted advice to Hillary Clinton on her request for ideas for a campaign song. (To those who would easily nominate the gospel song "I Ain't Noways Tired," which Hillary mangled in a spoken-word performance with a bad Southern accent in Selma back in March, just know the Post news staff never touched that with a ten-foot pen.*)
Vargas suggested "Upgrade U," where soul singer Beyonce sings about being an upgrade to her man, the rapper Jay-Z. "See, you and Bill can be the B and Jay of politics," Vargas oozed.
Brent Bozell's culture column this week deals with Opie & Anthony's sick XM shock-jock routine about raping Condoleezza Rice (and raping Laura Bush "to death.") You may not be shocked, but Al Sharpton made no attempt to express his outrage at the XM sickos in defense of this black woman, despite how this routine is so much worse than the Don Imus "ho" comment (video is here):
Rev. Al Sharpton showed up to debate May 15 on the CNN Headline News program “Showbiz Tonight.” But he didn’t say a single word against Opie and Anthony or one word in defense of Condi Rice. He insisted that the Imus gaffe was much more offensive! “I think that these cases are different than Imus. Imus was a repeat offender that stood out, in a different situation...Imus’s situation cannot be compared to other arguments” about free speech, he said.
On May 4, Bill Maher appeared on the PBS talk show Charlie Rose to denounce Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. Speaking of being greeted as liberators, Maher said America will get back its global reputation almost instantly once Bush is gone and the Carter-Clinton people are back in charge of foreign policy:
CHARLIE ROSE: Now, we`re at a low ebb in terms of our respect around the world. In your judgment, and people you talk to -- Madeleine Albright and the whole range of people -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, who come there [to Maher's show in L.A.], how long does it take, if there`s a change in administration -- which there clearly will be -- and if it is somebody that has the same belief that you do, will it take to get America back?
Tim Russert was Jon Stewart’s guest on The Daily Show Tuesday night. The main course on Stewart’s menu of questions: Bush-bashing. Don’t the Bush people have an “open contempt for democracy” when they don’t submit to the All-Powerful Russert on Meet the Press? How do they “get away with their belligerence?” And when David Gregory dances behind Karl Rove at the White House correspondents dinner, why doesn’t he lean in with a microphone and assert “you lied to everybody!”
Stewart made his "open contempt for democracy" outburst after Russert complained he hasn't interviewed President Bush since 2004, Vice President Cheney since last September, and didn't interview Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in the last three years of his tenure. But Bush has submitted to plenty of other interviews (including with NBC anchors Brian Williams and Matt Lauer) not to mention press conferences. The same goes for Rumsfeld. Russert insisted to Stewart that our leaders "cannot make tough decisions unless you're willing to answer tough questions." But when has Russert submitted to a tough, adversarial TV interview about his role in the Plame-Wilson war on the White House? Never.
For a news division that prides itself on being hard-hitting, there's nothing less hard-hitting than a special where CBS News touts itself as the Historic Oasis of Truth and Fairness. That's coming again tonight with a special remembering Walter Cronkite on his 90th birthday. Most companies don't put their slobbery internal tributes up for a nation to watch, but CBS News keeps trying to live down Memogate and other embarrassments in partisan excess by playing up Cronkite. (To see a more critical look at Cronkite and his excesses, check out our Walter Cronkite Profile in Bias page.)
MRC's Justin McCarthy noticed a big promo segment on Friday's Early Show. The only honorees were Bill Clinton, George Clooney, Robin Williams and a slew of TV news buddies -- like Diane Sawyer cooing "I think he is the most wonderful combination of a certain steel of integrity but absolute humanity," and Katie Couric having a diva moment: "If I knew the answer to what made Walter Cronkite Walter Cronkite, I'd be running all three networks and every cable channel, too." The morning clip read like this:
Yesterday, a friend from Los Angeles called. The person is successful, known, part of the entertainment industry. Jerry Falwell is, my friend said, the reason I can't call myself a Christian in Hollywood. He is what everyone thinks to that when they hear the word Christian. That may well be Jerry Falwell's most enduring and most troubling legacy. Jerry Falwell almost single-handedly blurred the line between Jesus and conservative politics to the detriment of both.
It might not be surprising for liberal blog commenters or talk-radio callers to denounce Rev. Jerry Falwell upon his death, but it's a little more surprising when it comes to a professed Christian who's religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Cathleen Falsani reflected on her first reaction about hearing Falwell was "relief" and compared him to gangster TV character Tony Soprano:
Knowing I didn't have a deadline to meet that day, my first thoughts were not of what to say or write.
In fact, my very first thought upon hearing of the Rev. Falwell's passing was: Good.
And I didn't mean "good" in a oh-good-he's-gone-home-to-be-with-the-Lord kind of way. I meant "good" as in "Ding-dong, the witch is dead."
Al Gore, "improbably charismatic"? That's the premise of this week's cover story in Time magazine, titled "The Last Temptation of Al Gore." He is, according to the ogling opening of Time writer Eric Pooley, everything the Democrats could want, "the perfect stealth candidate for 2008," with "the grass-roots appeal of Barack Obama," who "spoke out loud and clear and early" against the Iraq war, but also " candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton—someone with experience and credibility on the world stage." In short:
In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command. There's only one problem. The former Vice President just doesn't seem interested.
It's quite rare for President Bush to lecture reporters, but he did it Thursday morning to British reporters in a Rose Garden press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. When reporters for Sky News and BBC tried to suggest strongly that Blair was the lamest of ducks, President Bush upbraided them for "trying to do a tap dance on this political grave" and said Blair is a solid, respected leader, unlike some political players (in the press?): "There's a lot of blowhards in the political process, a lot of hot air artists, people who've got something fancy to say."
After reporter Adam Boulton of Sky News pressed Bush if he's "partly to blame" for Blair retiring, a reporter for the program BBC Newsnight really stirred up the president:
QUESTION: Mr. Blair, you outlined some very big policy areas there in your discussions with the president. Is it really possible, do you think, to make significant progress on them in the time that you have left? And, Mr. President, if I could ask you: Is this really still the right man to be talking to?
Can you imagine CNN providing live coverage to a Republican presidential candidates forum before a conference put on by the Family Research Council? Or would CNN worry that their coverage was promoting the FRC event and adding heft to the FRC’s national image? Flip that scenario to a group on the religious left, and you have the reality of CNN’s announcement that they will air a forum for the top three Democrat contenders at a conference organized by Sojourners, a group of "progressive Christians" who want more government aid to the poor and less money for the "disastrous" war in Iraq. CNN announced in a press release:
CNN will serve as the exclusive broadcaster of a presidential candidate forum on faith, values and politics during the Sojourners "Pentecost 2007" conference in Washington, D.C. The event will be held Monday, June 4, on the campus of The George Washington University, and CNN will broadcast the forum live during the 7 p.m. (ET) hour of The Situation Room.
The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners and author of the best selling book God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, has invited Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama to share their ideas and proposals about pressing social issues with a special emphasis on poverty. Wallis also invited CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O'Brien to moderate the forum.
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz interviewed America's top anchorman for Thursday's paper, and the anchor of ABC's World News was determined: "Charlie Gibson was determined not to lead his newscast with the preacher's death." He explained:
"It lends importance to a figure whose legacy contained a lot of positives and a lot of negatives," says the ABC anchor, who was once a reporter in Falwell's home base of Lynchburg, Va. "It venerates the subject to an extent that I didn't think belonged there. He was a controversial figure."
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has issued a call to media outlets to stick to a script of liberal bias and emphasize "Falwell's history of denigrative comments and examine the cultural progress toward inclusion, acceptance and respect that he fought against." Their website even included a story from CNN’s Newsroom from Tuesday afternoon, in which CNN prominently included old protest video that placed a large illustration of Falwell’s face next to a large illustration of Hitler’s face. So much for GLAAD's "anti-defamation" pose. Video: Real (582 KB) or Windows (659 KB) plus MP3 (97 KB)
On "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN correspondent Randi Kaye, who raised eyebrows in December for a story worrying about Saddam suffering when he hanged, shared no comparable horror at the death of Falwell. Her transcript read like a commercial for GLAAD, as their president Neil Giuliano was the only talking head in the piece (except for taped tidbits of Falwell) as he insisted Falwell was un-Christian: "Falwell’s attacks were a violation of religious faith."
The sudden death of Rev. Jerry Falwell on Tuesday marked not just the passing of a television evangelist, but of a historic conservative leader and regular cable TV pundit. The mainstream media developed a strong distaste for him because he entered the political arena and helped establish a stronger conservative movement. For reporters, he was the definition of the far right, someone whose support made a Republican unacceptable, and any Republican who attacked him (like John McCain in 2000) quickly became a media hero. The Washington Post infamously described him as leading a flock that was "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." Here's a selection of "Notable Quotables" capturing their attitudes:
"In 2000, John McCain ran for President as a different kind of politician....Straight talk included taking on powerful Christian conservatives like Jerry Falwell, whom he called an ‘agent of intolerance.’....McCain is [now] trying to repair relations with the religious right.... For McCain, doing so could jeopardize his reputation for being a different kind of politician." — Reporter Dan Harris on ABC’s World News Tonight, April 14.
Is President Bush mentally ill? Sharon Begley is a senior editor for science at Newsweek, which apparently entitled her to conduct a tired psychoanalysis of President Bush and his state of denial about the war in Iraq, suggested earlier in his life by his comforting his mother as his sister Robin died of leukemia at age three, and his alcohol abuse as an adult. It "could all be dismissed as psychobabble," Begley wrote, but she marshaled experts to diagnose him from afar for his "pathological certainty that things are going well."
In an article titled "The Truths We Want to Deny," Begley, a longtime Newsweek writer (recently returned to the fold after five years at the Wall Street Journal), overcame the awkwardness of diagnosing mental illness from a distance:
On CNN's Reliable Sources this weekend, liberal former CNN Crossfire co-host Bill Press returned to his old network to deliver an old, reliable liberal talking point: the 'mainstream media' is largely responsible for the war in Iraq, because they failed to ask the tough questions that would have convinced the country about the soundness of leaving Saddam Hussein alone. Laura Ingraham provided the opposition, who said the media opposes the war, and doesn't want to cover the bloody aftermath of an American withdrawal:
BILL PRESS: I beg to differ. Look, the media, in large part, gave us this war, because they went along and repeated everything that George Bush said without asking tough questions. And I'm even talking about The New York Times.
For Mothers' Day, The Washington Post did the same thing it does most days: promote liberal causes. At the top of the Metro section is an article headlined "Pushing the Motherhood Cause: Group Works to Give Busy Women A Voice on Family Issues." It was also promoted on the front of Sunday's paper under the headline "Activist Mothers Unite." But a reader would have to go inside the Metro section to paragraph 11 to see the liberal cause revealed in the group, called MomsRising: "Co-founder Joan Blades also helped launch the liberal group MoveOn.org -- 'the great success story of Internet politics,' said Michael Cornfield, who wrote a book on the topic."
Reporter Donna St. George's story was surrounded with attractive color photos of mothers interacting with their toddlers, and began with the typical emphasis on the supposed nonpartisan activism that's all the rage:
Brent Bozell called us into a huddle yesterday at American Media Bias HQ and said there's a clear message on Opie & Anthony's incredibly crude rape remarks about Condi Rice. It's not about the shock jocks: all they care about is shock. It's about the left demonstrating another double standard. If a Rush Limbaugh made this kind of very objectionable remark about Maxine Waters, how many leftists would break an ankle running to the public square?
For their part, Opie & Anthony are truly equal-opportunity assassins. They encouraged public sex in historic Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City (which got them fired). They joked that Boston Democratic Mayor Thomas Menino was dead (which got them fired). Even if this is satellite radio -- and in a few cases, like New York and DC, "free FM" CBS stations -- will they be fired yet again? How will the left respond?
On his must-read "Best of the Web Today" column for Opinion Journal, the online home of the excellent Wall Street Journal editorial page, James Taranto did a nice analysis on Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman:
Washington Post reporter Alan Cooperman reported in Saturday's Religion section on evangelical scholar Francis Beckwith rejoining the Catholic Church. This is a controversial act, but centered on theology (in this case, the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI). But to find the correct (or the entertaining?) analogy, Cooperman selected a blogger who compared it to Hulk Hogan switching professional wrestling organizations:
The president of the Evangelical Theological Society, an association of 4,300 Protestant theologians, resigned this month because he has joined the Roman Catholic Church.
The May 5 announcement by Francis J. Beckwith, a tenured associate professor at Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco, Tex., has left colleagues gasping for breath and commentators grasping for analogies.