On the "Foley fallout" beat on Day 3, ABC's Good Morning America turned to their sex-scandal expert (and oh, the sex scandals he's spun for Bill Clinton!) George Stephanopoulos. MRC's Justin McCarthy reports the Foley story was still a major hurricane headed to blow away Republicans, and was coming to shore:
Roberts: For more on the fallout on this we go to ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos who is also the host, of course, of 'This Week.' George, when I talked to you earlier this week when this story broke, you said it was a category three political hurricane for Republicans. Has it intensified since then?"
National Public Radio is so liberal that even the weekend game shows ooze liberalism. On Saturday, the show "Whad'Ya Know" from Wisconsin Public Radio (heard on 260 stations) interviewed New York Times columnist Frank Rich on his new Bush-bashing book "The Greatest Story Ever Sold on Earth" for almost half an hour. Near the end (about 27 minutes into the first half-hour), host Michael Feldman went on a tear against the use of the term Islamo-fascism" to define the terrorists:
Feldman: "Also, that 'Islamofascism' thing they keep saying, which is so annoying, first of all because none of these governments are fascist, really. But the government is acting in a way which is quite fascistic, really, because it’s corporate, it’s authoritarian, it’s you know, it’s anti-liberal. That’s the definition of fascism, but they’re using this, this is a phrase they’ve decided to use."
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers previewed large chunks of his Jack Abramoff "Capitol Crimes" documentary (airing on PBS Wednesday) on far-left Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Tuesday. Asked why he was once again hammering away on conservatives on taxpayer-funded PBS stations, just weeks before the elections, Moyers predictably declared that America is going to hell in a handbasket under the right wing: "our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression." He told host Amy Goodman:
As I listened to you begin this broadcast with the litany of reality that you report, I got a slow burn, you know, at just what's happening to this country, to our government and to America under the reign of the corporate, political and religious right. And there are so few places that, as you are doing, are just simply telling the other side of the story, letting the facts add up, that I realize I couldn't sit in the rocking chair and comfortably enjoy the books I’m reading, while our democracy, it needs all the information those of us who are independent journalists can provide. So I came back, because there just is too much to report and too much to tell, at a particular time when I think we’re in a -- when our democratic form of government is in the most precarious state since the Depression.
Network morning shows stayed on the Mark Foley scandal on Tuesday. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all harped on the "conservative" Washington Times editorial calling for Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign. (The Times is conservative, but no one expects the networks to describe the liberal newspapers -- or themselves -- with an ideological label.) ABC's Brian Ross came on strong, suggesting the Republican problem was "one of hypocrisy, talking tough about going after pedophiles on the Internet but not doing much about it when it comes to one of their own." CBS's Hannah Storm wondered if the scandal would "take down the Republican leadership in the House." NBC's Tim Russert used a rare P-word quoting a panicked Republican: "If there's a perception that we overlooked perversion in order to hold on to power we are finished." And CNN brought on a braying Paul Begala and found Democrats were "particularly enjoying the fact" that House campaign chairman Thomas Reynolds was ensnared in the controversy.
Monday's online chat sessions with Washington Post reporters found some typical Democrat-defending responses. The daily political chat, hosted Monday by Shailagh (that's Shay-la) Murray, included a defense of the woman the Democrats already call "Speaker Pelosi" on the Bill Jefferson scandal:
Arlington, Va.: Do you think Nancy Pelosi will ever understand that investigating House members for "crimes" must come equally hard upon all Democrats as well? Has she done anything to investigate William Jefferson in Lousiana or blocked him from being on the ballot? Did Nancy Pelosi have as much anger in the 1980's when a Republican and a Democrat in Congress treated pages inappropriately? How does Nancy Pelosi feel about Mel Watts, who served time in prison for sex crimes with a minor? Why is he a member of Congress? Sounds like Pelosi is a hypocrite, or do you think that term is too harsh?
If there was a competition on Monday morning to see who would give Bob Woodward the most free publicity, NBC's Today was the hands-down winner. Between the introductory promos, an Andrea Mitchell report, a Tony Snow interview, and a Bob Woodward interview, NBC gave "State of Denial" 15 minutes of publicity in the first half hour of Monday's show. In those 15 minutes, NBC viewers saw the book's red cover displayed on the screen six times, the title was mentioned at least five times, and the on-screen graphics carried the title for most of those 15 minutes.
After Matt Lauer promoted the Mark Foley story, he added: "Counterpunch. The Bush administration fights backs, fights back against explosive claims in Bob Woodward's new book that it bungled the war in Iraq." Seconds later, Meredith Vieira added: "And another big story out of Washington, that bombshell book from legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward paints a scathing picture of the Bush administration's handing of the war in Iraq, that goes as far as to say the White House is deliberately misleading the public."
In the wake of Rep. Mark Foley's sudden resignation over ABC finding his sexually charged electronic messages to teenage male House pages, Monday's broadcast network morning shows all began with Foley, and the networks presented doom-laden scenarios of a crumbling Republican majority and some demands for Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republican House leaders to resign. "But this is more than just one man's downfall," insisted Matt Lauer on NBC. "It could be a major blow to the Republican Party, desperately trying to hold on to control of Congress in the coming midterm elections." ABC's Robin Roberts wondered, "this morning, newly revealed e-mails, the denials, dealings of a Congress in chaos. Could the Foley scandal cost the Republicans the House? "
ABC's Chris Cuomo and CBS's Julie Chen each pushed Tony Snow to suggest Hastert and others should resign. Chen also asked if Republican leaders should be questioned "under oath." ABC's George Stephanopoulos dramatically called the scandal "a Category Three hurricane and it's picking up steam." When CNN's Soledad O'Brien then tried to suggest she was "certainly not rushing for anybody's resignation," Snow protested: "Sure you are." None made historical comparisons with Democrats caught in sexual relationships with House pages or other teenagers.
Late on Friday night's edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," former Bush administration aide Ron Christie, author of "Black in the White House," pressed host Chris Matthews on the suggestion that if Republican Sen. George Allen's alleged racial slurs in the 1970s are a character flaw, what about the Democrats re-electing Senator Robert Byrd, a former Klansman, this fall? Matthews protested in a lecturing tone that "everyone knows about it....It's been raised a thousand times on his record." After claiming he was not defending Byrd, he told Christie: "The guy's 90 years old. Give him a break."
Howard Kurtz has two notable stories on political bias in today's "Media Notes" column -- first, a spicy review of how all the liberal journalists loathe Fox News and its chieftain, Roger Ailes. Second, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse spouted that her splenetic speech at Harvard in June saying Team Bush has created a "law-free zone" and decrying religious "fundamentalists" taking over our government were a "statement of facts," not opinion! The Ailes interview is entertaining:
Vanity Fair recently pegged Ailes as No. 44 on its New Establishment list, calling him "the most powerful news executive in America." But it also called him "the man who gives the Bush administration a major media outlet" and described Dick Cheney -- who demands that his hotel TVs be preset to Fox -- as his "big loyal friend."
In the weekend stories about the new Bob Woodward book, the conventional wisdom was that Woodward's first two Bush books were too supportive and sympathetic to the Bush White House, and now he's finally displaying some independence. But left out of that spin is Woodward's support and sympathy for the Clintons during their time in the White House. Revisit a few Brent Bozell columns for a reality check.
In 1994, Bozell wrote a column cheekily titled: "Woodward and Bernstein: Whitewater Wimps." Oh, how the scourges of Watergate went soft. Brent was especially flabbergasted by Woodward claiming Hillary was not a crook because the statute of limitations expired:
Even worse, a week later, Woodward presented this delicious lawyer's defense of the First Lady's cattle killing: "Would it be possible that there's a crime involved in the $100,000 in the futures market? This was what, 15 years ago, so the statute of limitations automatically means it's not a crime." Somewhere in New Jersey, Nixon is giggling.
Newly minted Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is promoting liberal former Sen. John Danforth again in a Sunday book review in The Washington Post. He's also praising a new book called The Politics of Jesus by Obery Hendricks Jr. (The subtitle's all about Jesus as a political revolutionary.) Like many other liberal journalists, Meacham is desperately seeking someone to convince traditionally religious Americans that they shouldn't be giving their votes to conservatives. So they cheer a whole series of "intellectually stimulating" books that lamely attempt to recruit traditionalist Christians and Jews to vote for the loosey-goosey libertine party:
Hendricks's Christian manifesto for a politically liberal vision of America and of the world arrives at an especially rich moment in the long-running debate over the role of religion in the nation's public life. After roughly three decades of largely ceding the language of faith to political conservatives, liberals are mounting an aggressive and often intellectually stimulating counterattack.
To their credit, The Washington Post took up the issue of sex-themed T-shirts at local high schools on the front page Tuesday. It makes you wonder who the most worrisome tastemakers are, the T-shirt makers, or some children's parents:
Allison Wynn, 17, a senior at Osbourn Park High School in Prince William County...said she is fond of wearing a shirt that says, "Don't Call Me a Cowgirl Until You See Me Ride." Joanne Wynn said her daughter's shirts are humorous. "If it's not in good taste, I don't let [her] wear it," she said.
Mrs. Graham e-mailed me about how the local Top 40 station made this mildly conservative story its main topic of conversation. They had people calling in talking about their own T-shirts. They mentioned that you can buy baby "onesies" with sayings on them too.
On The Corner today, John Podhoretz has the latest in a very old tale in a new laudatory biography of Isidor Feinstein Stone, or as the leftists remember and adore him, I.F. Stone. In the 1960's he was all the rage with his newsletter I.F. Stone's Weekly. A new book by Myra MacPherson, formerly a reporter for The Washington Post, apparently has ended up rebutting itself:
The Washington journalist Myra MacPherson has written a worshipful book about the radical leftist journalist I.F. Stone. A dozen years ago Stone's reputation was rocked when a retired KGB officer seemed to finger Stone as a paid agent of the Soviet Union. MacPherson evidently went to great pains to disprove this charge, and in her book she triumphantly claims to have done so. But, as Paul Berman explains in a fascinating review of her book (and a new collection of Stone's writing), MacPherson "seems not to notice that in her ardor to rescue Stone from his enemies, she has yanked the rope a little too firmly and has accidentally hanged the man." Berman continues:
MacPherson informs us that Kalugin, having specified that Stone was never on the Soviet payroll, described Stone as a "fellow traveler" — meaning a friendly supporter of the Soviet cause, though not a disciplined member of any Communist organization. Kalugin explained (in words no admirer of I. F. Stone will want to read) that Stone "began his cooperation with the Soviet intelligence long before me, based entirely on his view of the world." Stone was "willing to perform tasks." He would "find out what the views of someone in the government were or some senator on such and such an issue."
Brent Bozell's entertainment column this week chronicled an especially sad decline of a one-time child star of "Little House on the Prairie" raging against her wholesome reputation in an attempt to keep snagging roles in the land of polymorphous perversity. Say it ain't so, Laura Ingalls!
Perhaps this is a classic example of how pathetically low our society’s morals have fallen in 25 years: Melissa Gilbert just guest-starred on the FX cable network’s grotesque show "Nip/Tuck." Are you ready for this? As a woman needing to have a nipple replaced....because her dog bit it off....during sex.
On CBS's racially-segregated "Survivor" reality show Thursday night, an Asian man named "Cao Boi" (pronounced Cowboy) went on a rant against the Iraq war and insisted American teenagers are going to be drafted and sent to Iraq en masse -- unless you're privileged, "unless you're Mr. Bush children." He was telling a story about a conversation he had at a restaurant:
“This old man he said, 'I come to United States, I’m so lonely, all my friends are in Vietnam.' He’s like fifty-something. And he just missed the old days. 'But I come to United States for my children’s future.' I go, ‘how old are your children?’ 'Fifteen and sixteen.' HA HA HA HA! Fifteen and sixteen! They trick you. They trick you. He go ‘what’? Fifteen and sixteen, you think in a couple of more years they’ll be in Iraq? ‘I’m sorry. For what?’ You’re Vietnamese. You should know better about war. You should know all about war.”
Just two weeks after Rosie O’Donnell made waves on ABC’s all-female chat show The View for proclaiming that "radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam," the Catholic League is protesting a conversation on Thursday’s show between O’Donnell and co-host Joy Behar about drunken priests and silly Eucharistic rules. (Don’t forget the obligatory Mel Gibson slam.) Sitting with glasses of red wine, the women were discussing a study showing drinking red wine helps preserve memory:
Behar: "Don’t you start losing your memory when you’re a drunk? I mean, that’s the first thing that goes."
O’Donnell: "Or you just start spouting anti-Semitic statements. [Crowd laughs, then oohs in shock] Mel Gibson! Mel Gibson! C’mon! Cause they say when you get drunk, the real person comes out. I don’t know about one glass of wine, though."
Thursday's CBS Evening News pondered the new technology used by political campaigns at YouTube, but national political correspondent Gloria Borger dwelled on the videos embarrassing to Republicans -- Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" remarks, a Florida House candidate's blacks-can't-swim comment, and Sen. Conrad Burns snoozing. (There was fleeting attention on the George W. Bush-Joe Lieberman "kiss" and its clearly Bush-loathing flavor.)
At least when CBS's The Early Show had Bill Plante study the phenomenon on Tuesday morning, he balanced Allen with a Democrat, Sen. Joe Biden joking about needing an Indian accent to walk into a 7-Eleven. Borger underlined Allen as an idiot: "Virginia Senator George Allen has become a poster child for what can go wrong when a candidate gets caught saying something stupid...the controversy paved the way for new charges this week that Allen has a racist past."
In Thursday’s Washington Post, deep inside a story on page B-2, the George Allen campaign provided a man named Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Allen’s Democratic challenger, Jim Webb. Cragg said Webb used the N-word "while describing his own behavior during his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the early 1960s...[Cragg said] Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them."
The Post puts this in the eighth paragraph of a Michael Shear story on the front of Metro headlined "Webb Denies Ever Using Word As Epithet." The subhead was "Racial Slur Overshadowing All Else in Contest."
It's always interesting in a fall election season to see what your taxpayer dollars are buying at the Public Broadcasting Service. Some might call it an "in-kind contribution" to your friendly local Democratic candidate. Liberals would never favor a McCain-Feingold-style bill that made PBS political programs go off the air in the last 60 days of an election cycle. A colleague sent this notice from TV Guide:
"The always-cerebral Bill Moyers looks at diverse topics in this three-part series. The first explores corruption in politics by focusing on the Jack Abramoff scandal."
This new miniseries will air on the first three Wednesdays in October. Screening the videos on the Moyers site, the first episode, titled "Capitol Crimes," focuses on Abramoff, with a heavy emphasis on the lobbyist in pictures with Ronald Reagan and Tom DeLay. Is there anything more mind-numbingly predictable than Bill Moyers raging against lobbyists? (Unless they're lobbyists for PBS fat cats.)
New York Times columnist (and former Times reporter) Maureen Dowd appeared on the "Tavis Smiley" show on PBS on Wednesday night with her typical take on the news: Bush and Cheney are suffering from testosterone poisoning, and she urged the media to keep pushing because "checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy." But Hillary Clinton is too cautious, "fetches coffee for older male Senators," and needs to be more outspoken: "I would love to see Barack Obama and Hillary speaking out more."
Smiley asked Dowd about if it was tough to write her column: "The first couple of years I had the column, I was curled up in a ball on the floor of my house, crying a lot." (Like Linda Greenhouse? Is this a standard practice for New York Times reporters?) She continued: "But as a student of literature and Shakespeare, you know that power can be poisonous. And in the case of Bush and Cheney, testosterone can be poisonous. And it’s just my job to tweak them and say before the Iraq war, we should not be ginning this case up to go to a war unless we’re sure that we understand the culture, and we didn’t. So I feel that journalism has a really important place in checks and balances, without being corny about it. And checks and balances is what Dick Cheney is trying to destroy. So I feel that it’s important that we keep pushing."
The bottom half of today's Style section front page of the Washington Post screams "Hopelessly Transparent Liberal Newspaper." The goo-fest is at its most gooey in "The Democrats Charisma Doctor," David Montgomery's latest left-wing valentine, awarded to "superstar" Sen. Barack Obama and his "seductive lassitude."
ABC hired reporter Jake Tapper from the partisan left-wing website Salon.com in 2001. On Wednesday night's World News, Tapper patted his old employers on the back by publicizing their unsubstantiated charges "by at least five" accusers that conservative Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger" in his college days at the University of Virginia. (He made no mention of the old signers of his paycheck.) Tapper let Allen deny it, but Allen's accusers weren't rebutted by Allen's first wife or college teammates. Mimicking all the other liberal reporters, Tapper recounted it as part of a weeks-long narrative about racial and ethnic gaffes, and professed that the best Republicans "can hope for is that he survives this November's election."
On his weblog at TVWeek.com, Washington Post television critic Tom Shales defended Bill Clinton's "exhilarating kind of tension" to his fight with Chris Wallace, hoping the ex-President would "pop him one." Clinton was "energized and galvanizing; he spoke with force and finesse" and was "smart to come armed with articulate and persuasive responses." Wallace was a "baby" and "behaved like a sissy-pants" when he was attacked. Somehow, within a few sentences, Shales was attacking former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg as "yelping like a dog" at his critics, and then Shales weirdly compared him to a radical Muslim: "It’s like the Islamic extremists who, if you call them prone to violence, threaten to kill you for insulting them."
David Folkenflik's NPR story on the crying-at-Simon-and-Garfunkel speech at Harvard in June by New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse displayed a stunned Daniel Okrent, the first Times "public editor"; a troubled editor of the Oregonian newspaper; a supportive Jack Nelson, her former "Washington Week" colleague on PBS, who admits he wouldn't be as supportive if Greenhouse were spouting pro-Bush sentiments; and a set of Times editors who will not comment on the record. Chickens.
Folkenflik's story on NPR.org (not an exact match with the story aired on NPR Tuesday) claimed that "charged commentary" wasn't common in our mainstream media:
So much for strength (or newsworthiness) in numbers. Inside Wednesday's Washington Post, reporter Michelle Boorstein covered a tiny protest inside the Hart Senate Office Building yesterday, where 35 were arrested. Last week, as many as 35,000 people protested in New York in support of Israel and against Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, featuring speakers like U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel -- which the Post ignored.
The Boorstein article, complete with cover photo of a protester being removed in handcuffs, was strategically placed on A-14, just above the continuation of a heartbreaking article on the first female West Point graduate, a local woman, being killed in Iraq -- also accompanied by a color photo, of the burial. Boorstein reported on the Hart building protest in a typical way, where no one in attendance was the slightest bit liberal: "Dozens of police streamed into the atrium and arrested about 35 people, including Rick Ufford-Chase, who until recently was a top official of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."
The New York Times was routinely slow on any allegation of past adultery or even sexual assault by Bill Clinton, dismissing them as lacking convincing evidence, as "toxic waste" designed to damage his campaign. But when Democratic opponents of Sen. George Allen charged that Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger" in the past -- a very politically toxic matter -- the Times was quick to honor it as fit to print. On Tuesday, reporter David Kirkpatrick wrote a story for the top of page A-20 with two photos, headlined "2 Ex-Acquaintances of Senator Allen Say He Used Slurs."
The Times never did more than two paragraphs on the Allen campaign's distribution of an article in which Webb opposed women in combat. In a September 18 article touting Webb's "rising" campaign, Robin Toner put this in paragraphs 23 and 24: "In the past week, the Allen campaign has taken aim at Mr. Webb on two counts: highlighting his opposition, in an article he wrote 27 years ago, to women in combat and at the Naval Academy, and asserting that Mr. Webb has no right to use videotape of President Ronald Reagan praising him in a new television advertisement. On women in combat, Mr. Webb said that he was sorry for any pain his writing had caused, that times had changed, and that he should be judged by what he did in the intervening years to expand opportunities for women."
The Washington Post continued their media frenzy against Sen. George Allen Tuesday by putting charges from the left-wing website Salon.com that Allen used the word "nigger" freely as a young man on the top of the front page of the Metro section (at least in Virginia editions). The headline was "Allen Denies Using Epithet to Describe Blacks: Senator Accused of Making Racial Slur During and After College." The Post included horrified denials from Allen's first wife and college friends and teammates, but it had all the damaging flavor of "Allen Denies Beating Wife."
The story by Michael Shear and Tim Craig has at least two signs of bias. First, there's absolutely no comment from, and no mention of the Jim Webb campaign, even as his blogging staffers spread the racist rumors. Second, Salon.com is mentioned without any description of its ideology or history: "Salon.com is an Internet magazine of news and opinion." In the Clinton years, Salon.com often published information the Clinton White House employed against conservatives, such as revealing an old extramarital affair by conservative Republican Henry Hyde. Salon's publisher declared that "these are ugly times and they call for ugly measures."
NBC's Tim Russert has built a reputation for "Meet the Press" as the Sunday interview show to watch, due to a style that can be both aggressive and substantive. Russert guests are often pressed to respond to long text boxes of criticism or asked to defend their own controversial statements. When Russert goes soft, it's often obvious: the questions get short. In his Bill Clinton interview Sunday, instead of pressing the former president with 300-word questions, the entire list of questions was about 300 words long. One answer from Clinton was longer than the word count of all the Russert questions combined.
Here, in review, is the Russert list of questions to Clinton:
Many Americans may have been outraged or just perplexed by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez’s attack on President Bush as "the devil," but the New York Times saw Chavez’s plug for a Noam Chomsky book as a light front-page feature on Saturday – he’s apparently a Latino male Oprah.
The actual Amazon.com review of the Chomsky book "Hegemony or Survival" is blunt: "Chomsky indicates that America is just as much a terrorist state as any other government or rogue organization." But the Times headline is mild: "U.S. Best Seller, Thanks to a Rave By a Latin Leftist." Reporter Mokoto Rich began: "All the authors currently clamoring for a seat on Oprah Winfrey’s couch might do well to send copies of their books to the latest publishing tastemaker: Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez."
The warring camps of Fox News and Team Clinton spoke out in the Washington Post on Monday morning. Howard Kurtz reported:
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said that he was stunned when Bill Clinton accused him of a "conservative hit job" after he challenged the former president on his record in fighting terrorism.
"I thought it was a fair, balanced and not especially inflammatory question," Wallace said yesterday in recounting his "Fox News Sunday" sit-down with Clinton. "I even said, 'I know hindsight is 20/20.' But he went off. And once he went off, there was no bringing him back. He wanted to talk about it in detail. He wanted to conjure up right-wingers and conservative hit jobs and a theory involving Rupert Murdoch that I still don't understand."