Former CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer told Columbus Dispatch writer Tim Feran that the gossip was untrue that he was trashing Katie Couric in the press. "I was not the source for that story, period. I had nothing to do with it...and I don't know who did." Schieffer also took exception to the Bill Moyers theory that the national media were enablers to President Bush's runup to war in Iraq.
Q: In his recent PBS report about the run-up to the Iraq war, Bill Moyers said: "The press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses." Do you agree?
A: I don't think we enabled them to go to war, although there's no question we should have asked harder questions. But I think the Democrats should have asked harder questions, the CIA should have asked harder questions, the people within the administration should have asked harder questions. Somewhere along the way, the decision to go into Iraq somehow became the fault of the press.
Here is the kind of debate that's common on taxpayer-subsidized PBS: two liberals arguing over the right degree of rage over President Bush on Iraq. Should it be white hot? Or just hot enough that you don't burn your mouth on it? On Thursday night's edition of his eponymous show, Tavis Smiley interviewed Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
Ignatius worried out loud about finding some degree of national unity in the Iraq end game, and suggested Bush hatred is running contrary to the national interest: "People are so angry in Washington. The debate is so intense that I just worry that we're just slipping a gear as a country. People are almost so angry at George Bush that they want to see this thing fail to spite him, and that should be. That's wrong." Smiley tried to suggest he was asking "devil's advocate" questions, but his angry tone and finger-pointing body language gave his personal opinion away:
SMILEY: Far be it for me to argue with you, but let me just take the devil's advocate position on this, just to press you a little bit more on this. Why shouldn't we be outraged? Why shouldn't we be angry with George Bush?
IGNATIUS: We should be...
SMILEY: Why shouldn't this be the issue around which we will throw down a gauntlet and be angry? We're losing lives every day, why not this, if any issue, to be just outraged about?
Brent Bozell's culture column this week follows up on how the world of rap music will change in the wake of Don Imus getting canned for his rapper's language against the Rutgers women's basketball team. Russell Simmons, one of the founders of Def Jam Records, made waves by endorsing some voluntary steps toward better self-control:
He doesn’t advocate dropping this language altogether, which is unfortunate. Simmons concedes that millions of adults listen to unexpurgated rap CDs, and is unwilling to condemn it. Still, the move to take this off mainstream radio is a significant start. On “The O’Reilly Factor,” Simmons declared, “I think that children, and parents, and everyone else who doesn't really understand the hip-hop community should have a choice....we want people to choose what they want. And if you turn on mainstream radio, you shouldn't have to hear these words.”
Print accounts of the House of Representatives turning into Pelosi Palace, passing a so-called "hate crimes" expansion act to please the gay left, don't seem to notice there is a left side on the debate over this bill. There are "civil rights groups" on one side, and "conservatives" on the other. That apparently would make them an "anti-civil rights" group.
In The Washington Post, reporter Jonathan Weisman quotes Speaker Nancy Pelosi using words from the Pledge of Allegiance to back the left wing, not to mention Ted Kennedy and Steny Hoyer, but none of them are described as liberals. Weisman can't even call the bill's backers "gay advocates," just "advocates," as if idealistic blandness (and not ideological severity) defined the left, while these idealists were opposed by the staunchest of conservatives:
Diane Sawyer granted an interview for the May issue of Reader’s Digest. In it, Sawyer said she is eager to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, and would jump at the chance to interview Osama bin Laden. The interviewer, Sara Davidson, did not press Sawyer on the question of whether she was too soft or light in her interviews with anti-American heads of state (as with asking Syrian dictator Bashar Assad whether he has Shania Twain on his iPod). But Sawyer did use the words "fanatic extremists" and "horrific terrorists," which doesn’t always emerge first in journalistic conversations.
RD: Who else are you most eager to interview? Sawyer: Kim Jong-il. I think he is unlike anyone else in a leadership position in the world right now, and North Korea is such an intriguing country.
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin at the Washington Examiner's gossip page report that ABC is dialing back its D.C. prostitution scoop, and reporter Brian Ross is an unhappy camper:
Yeas & Nays hears that, as of this writing, the segment will reveal only two new names and is currently slotted for a mere seven minutes at the end of the hour-long broadcast (you'll recall that Palfrey turned over nearly 15,000 phone numbers to ABC News back in March).
Interviews with both Palfrey and former deputy secretary of state Randall Tobias (who left the State Department last week after being interviewed by ABC News for the "20/20" piece) are currently scheduled, leaving precious little time remaining for much else (and for all of those salacious details you¹ve been waiting for). Sources tell Yeas & Nays that Ross, who had anticipated a far juicier piece, is none too happy with the final results, especially after he and the network promoted this story for weeks.
Here's another sign that public broadcasters aren't worried about the appearance of Democratic favoritism. National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg -- legendary (or infamous) for championing Anita Hill's unsubstantiated sexual harassment charges against Clarence Thomas, and then yawning at all harassment claims against Bill Clinton -- is hiring the daughter of liberal Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards as a summer intern, and her NPR bosses "gave the green light, since the election is still 18 months away."
The Washington Post gossip column that broke the story couldn't even get word from NPR as to whether Cate Edwards will stop making campaign appearances during the internship. Here's what the "Reliable Source" column by Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger passed along:
The first regular episode of the latest incarnation of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS featured Comedy Central host Jon Stewart (recently hailed by Moyers as "the Mark Twain of our day") mocking Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for appearing to be a "low-functioning pinhead" and comparing the Bush administration to the mobster characters in the movie Goodfellas. He suggested the White House press corps was a joke, suggesting they're the Washington Generals to Bush's Harlem Globetrotters: "the government is just you know, blowing the doors off the media."
First, the "Daily Show" fake anchor expressed amazement on the Friday night show that Gonzales would be so willing to look foolish and wildly incompetent so that Congress would fail in its attempt to impose oversight:
Sports Illustrated has this annoying tendency to serve up its sports coverage with a side dish of liberal politics. On its website, basketball writer Jack McCallum wrote of deciding to compare Democratic presidential candidates to NBA playoff teams after watching the Democrats debate on C-SPAN in the middle of the night after some spicy quesadillas.
He began by lauding Mike Gravel's routine of poking Barack Obama about which country America should "nuke" next. "So there you are -- Gravel is the Golden State Warriors. A feisty, combative, in-your-face underdog who loves the public stage." Later, McCallum added to the comparison: "Unorthodox and even a little scary, both are trying to overcome the odds with offense." Here are the other comparisons, enough to ruin the day of a conservative fan of any of these teams:
Surely, CNN doesn’t stand for Communist News Network. But CNN’s Soledad O’Brien went looking for the "grass roots" of the pro-illegal immigration movement in Chicago during Tuesday’s Your World Today at mid-day. She interviewed a man she described as "Shaun Harkin of the March 10th Movement." She did not describe him with ideological precision: he’s a fervent Leninist.
An instant Googling of "Shaun Harkin" quickly brought up an article from Socialist Worker Online, where "SHAUN HARKIN explains why the Russian revolutionary Lenin and the theory that Lenin developed about the rise of imperialism remains so relevant today." Harkin concluded: "The dynamics of imperialism that Lenin analyzed are still present. His approach continues to offer the best framework to understand imperialism -- and is an essential tool for revolutionaries today."
In the wake of NBC's and MSNBC's embarrassment over the firing of Don Imus for his racial insensitivity to black women on the Rutgers basketball team, NBC News promoted Lyne Pitts, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), to be vice president of NBC News. Mrs. Pitts, the wife of CBS correspondent Byron Pitts, has ascended rapidly since she arrived to produce the Weekend Today programs in February 2006.
It's not hard to imagine this has a lot to do with assuaging the roiling internal rage over Imus that boiled over in that meeting NBC News President Steve Capus had with Al Roker and the gang before Imus was canned. Don't miss this sentence in her job description: "She also serves as the division's point person on diversity issues."
On the heels of his award-winning destruction of Congressman Mark Foley over inappropriate instant messages to teenaged House pages, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross is on the sex beat again. On Monday's Good Morning America, Ross highlighted ABC’s plans to rummage through a D.C. madam’s list of prostitution clients for "people in the Bush administration." But in 1996, when the tabloid newspaper The Star found Bill Clinton’s chief political guru Dick Morris had a relationship with a prostitute, ABC News (and especially anchor Peter Jennings) found it ugly, distasteful business. On the August 26, 1996 World News Tonight, as President Clinton prepared for his convention’s acceptance speech, Jennings began with a complaining tone:
Good evening, we begin tonight with the sweet and the sour of the Presidential campaign. Here in Chicago today the President has been fine tuning as they say, the speech he will be giving to this convention and to the country tonight. And he has a lot to be pleased about. A very upbeat convention. A very successful train trip here with rising poll numbers to accompany it. And very important set of statistics about the economy today, which he will certainly point to as evidence that the country should re-elect him. And then along comes a nasty little scandal to take the edge off the good news at least for the day. The President’s chief political strategist, a man named Dick Morris, resigned from the campaign today, after a story in a supermarket tabloid that he has been having, he’s a married man, a lengthy relationship with a prostitute and talking about his job.
Pham Xuan Am served on the staff of Time magazine during the Vietnam War – and he also served as a communist spy for the Viet Cong. This should have been the cause of great embarrassment for liberal media outlets like Time. Instead, in 1990, former Time reporter H.D.S. Greenway wasn’t irate at his colleague, but expressed his anger in the Washington Post at the "right-wingers [who] seized on the An story to say that the press had fallen victim to a fiendish disinformation plot."
On Saturday’s Weekend Edition, NPR anchor Scott Simon interviewed Larry Berman, author of a new book on Pham Xuan Am called "Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An, Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent." Simon might have been trying to help the author out, but the question he asked seemed like a no-brainer: "Did he give information that resulted in the deaths of South Vietnamese or American soldiers?"
One argument at the beginning of the Bill Moyers PBS special on our alleged Bush-polishing press corps centered around a White House press conference just before the Iraq war began on March 6, 2003. Within hours on that night, leftists were complaining that reporters weren't harsh enough.CBS Radio's White House reporter Mark Knoller made a rare protest against the Moyers charge on their Public Eye site. I'm a little surprised that Knoller is the only White House reporter to challenge Moyers on the idea that they were all Bush patsies, just as I'm surprised that no one in the White House press corps really challenged Helen Thomas when she called them all Bush patsies.
The formulation Moyers used -- that reporters failed to "challenge the president" that he was lying about WMD -- is trumped up, and suggests that reporters should not have merely suggested that war protesters and other countries had doubts. Apparently, Moyers wouldn't have honored a reporter as challenging unless they rhetorically punched the president in the face, suggesting his case for Iraq was crawling with lies. Moyers obviously and sleazily skipped the case of ABC's Terry Moran, who insulted all his colleagues as "zombies" after the press conference. He, by contrast, should have earned an A from Moyers from challenging Bush as leading the world in arrogance:
The Federal Communications Commission defined broadcast indecency in 1987 as "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities."
Brent Bozell’s culture column this week reports that ABC’s "According to Jim" had an entire plot revolve around the gag (and "gag" is probably the right word) that the Jim Belushi character ate his wedding ring and his wife waited to catch him in the act of pooping it out. It apparently lands with a "clank." His wife and her siblings then pop out of the shower with an a-ha. Brent writes: "This is certainly a plot based on (implied) excretory activities, but it’s certainly not what the regulators had in mind. I suspect that when these rules were written there wasn’t a soul at the FCC who believed ‘humor’ would ever come to this."
Cam Edwards at NRANews.com tipped me Friday night: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will have another $250-a-plate fundraiser in Washington on May 15, like their 2005 event at the French Embassy celebrating the 80th birthday of liberal political humorist Art Buchwald (one major toastmaster was CBS News legend Mike Wallace).
An ad on the Brady Campaign home page for this year’s "Stand Up For A Safe America" fundraiser (honoring Democratic Rep. Rahm Emanuel) shows this year’s Master of Ceremonies is ABC News legend Sam Donaldson. Sam just wisecracked on This Week that gun owners have their weapons "to shoot the paperboy and the relative coming home late at night."
Just like David Broder's analysis in the Washington Post news section today, NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert offered praise all around for the Democratic field after the Orangeburg debate. The Democratic field are not "pygmies," and everyone, including Mike Gravel, cheered on by Sam Seder on Air America radio this morning for "making Dennis Kucinich look moderate," earned stars on his forehead from NBC:
RUSSERT: Democrats overwhelmingly are very happy with the field. Almost 75 percent of the party members say we like this group. Only 50 percent of Republicans like their group. So I think that if you are stepping back and looking at the 2008 field, it’s not, in past years people say, well, it’s pygmies, they can't possibly step up. I think people can envision several of these people sitting in the Oval Office.
We expect our political pundits to be masters of campaign history, but that isn't always the case. On The Early Show on CBS this morning, newly arrived political correspondent/analyst Jeff Greenfield ended his story on the Democratic debate by telling co-host Harry Smith, "this was, by far, the earliest presidential debate in the history of our political system. You want to know how early? A child conceived last night would be a month old before the people of South Carolina got to vote in their primary."
You don't have to know ancient history to know Greenfield's wrong. In the last election cycle, Democrats held a very early debate in South Carolina just like this one -- on Saturday, May 3, about a week after this one on the calendar. Greenfield analyzed it for CNN on the May 5, 2003 American Morning:
I would never suggest that the presidential campaign isn't Page One material, but it's not exactly a compelling news story when the summary of a Democratic debate (in today's WashPost) is "Candidates Unite In Criticizing Bush." How is that notably different than any other day of the Bush presidency? Readers ought to see in this an undercurrent of It's-Our-Party politeness, as in "we wouldn't want any of our plausible contenders to be nicked up this early."
But the real puffery came in David Broder's "analysis" on page A6, headlined "Democratic Hopefuls Show Political Heft." These were no eight "dwarves," but a bevy of better-than-Bush giants: "the overall impression from the first formal debate from this early-starting campaign is that the Democrats have a field of contenders that, by any historical measure, matches in quality any the party has offered in decades."
Over at The Hillary Spot on NRO, a great spot for keeping up with the presidential campaign, Jim Geraghty found that Chris Matthews wasn't exactly playing "Hardball" before the Democratic debate. But he did imply that Bush was a little racist because he was faster to arrive on the scene at Virginia Tech than in New Orleans after Katrina. (Question to Chris: Do you think no blacks were gunned down at Virginia Tech?) Geraghty thought Matthews sounded like a DNC press aide:
Chris Matthews' first question to Elizabeth Edwards on Hardball: "What's the difference between having a Democratic President and a Republican President?"
As part of his tour of public-broadcasting publicity spots, PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers appeared Wednesday morning on radical-left Pacifica Radio’s "Democracy Now" program with Amy Goodman, a show Moyers celebrated at a radical "media reform" conference in January by suggesting he had a private "fantasy" about Goodman, that every PBS station would put her on their air. They referred to him as "legendary." Goodman played large chunks of the Moyers PBS special "Buying the War" in advance, and Moyers uncorked a series of left-wing howlers for her.
The mainstream media were cheerleaders for Bush. "Pro-war pundits" need to be banned from TV, put in a "penalty box." Implausibly, he claimed his documentary "talks to people on all sides of the story." Jon Stewart is the "Mark Twain of our day." Dan Rather is an "honest man" but at CBS, he was a "good man caught in a rigged system," contained by corporate owners at Viacom who voted Republican. And, weirdest of all, Moyers claims he and PBS "serve a sort of centrist role," and PBS needs to break free of control from Congress. Let’s take the Moyers claims one at a time.
Hard-left radio talk show host Stephanie Miller will be filling the Don Imus morning-radio-simulcast gap on MSNBC next week from April 30 to May 2. On her show Thursday morning, she was joking to her male sidekicks about what can be said on MSNBC: "You can't call me a whore. I can call myself a whore." It is in a sense, like Old Home Week, since she co-hosted the CNBC program "Equal Time" with Bay Buchanan for a while ten years ago.
The buzz from Jossip is "according to someone with a vested interest in seeing her succeed, 'the network is hoping to build Stephanie into a major face of the network.'" As for her politics and more about her radio show, see her Progressive interview: "I love Russ Feingold. I love Barbara Boxer. And Howard Dean and John Conyers."
Laura Ingraham made great fun on her radio show Thursday morning of Larry King's CNN interview with John McCain on Wednesday night. The 73-year-old talk show host suggested that McCain was too old to be president for more than one term. Ingraham joked that King looks like "a skull with suspenders," and he's undermining McCain's vitality:
JOHN MCCAIN: Can I mention that -- that hike around the rim of the Grand Canyon, it was wonderful. It was exhilarating. It almost killed me.
KING: Don't do it again. How old are you, Senator?
JOHN MCCAIN: We're going to do it again.
KING: How old are you now?
JOHN MCCAIN: Seventy. I'll be 71.
KING: Does that mean if elected, this is a one term presidency?
On his blog at National Review, talk-show host and longtime conservative legal eagle Mark Levin reports that New York Times reporter William Glaberson called him for comment, but couldn't seem to abide putting conservative counterpoints in his story on attempts to limit the attorney-client communications surrounding terrorist suspects at Guantanamo: "Apparently my comments didn't fit his scenario." Levin described his conversation with the Times reporter:
I told him that prior to 2004, unlawful enemy combatants held outside the United States had no access to federal courts; that if these lawyers had access to classified information they would be ethically compelled to discuss it with their clients in order to properly and zealously represent them; that they were constantly trying to move the bar by expanding the supposed due process rights of the detainees; and many other things. Of course, none of this made it into his story. I could tell when he interviewed me that he was basically carrying water for the terrorists' lawyers when he took exception to my calling them "defense counsel." I said, "If they're not defense counsel, then what are they?" He had to concede the point, which seemed rather obvious to me.
On Tuesday night's O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly revealed that Bill Moyers seems to have a faulty memory about some harsh anti-FNC comments I noted here from a Rolling Stone interview. He sent out Jesse Watters to conduct an ambush interview like the one with that left-wing troop-hating Washington Post blogger Bill Arkin. Is Bill Moyers lying on purpose to mislead us into the quagmire of watching his programs? Or is he merely incompetent at remembering his own statements? You be the judge.
O'REILLY: Moyers, who is not only a commentator but an active financial supporter of far left causes, is using me and some other people he doesn't like to promote his program. He has repeatedly bashed me and refuses to come on "The Factor" to talk with me face-to-face. So our policy now is to confront these kinds of attacks, which we did last weekend when "Factor" producer Jesse Watters caught up with Moyers in New York City.
If PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers wanted to cultivate an appearance of fairness and balance, he's not doing a very good job of it. On the PBS talk show Tavis Smiley on Monday night, Moyers compared Team Bush to a "burglar in the basement" that the watchdog media didn't bark at, or if you prefer, the media was the fire department, and Team Bush was the "arsonist." In fact, he charged "the press was in cahoots with the arsonist."
When Smiley pressed Moyers on whether his show is fair and balanced, he slammed Fox News Channel: "Fox News has so poisoned the meaning of fair and balanced that I can't even understand those terms anymore, but anybody who watches this documentary will see that we lay out the evidence." Smiley also catered to Moyers by asking him if the Bush adminstration was the most secretive in American history.
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers returns his series "Bill Moyers Journal" to taxpayer-funded PBS stations on Wednesday night. On Monday, National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross offered Moyers a very favorable interview to promote the show. Near the end, Gross asked Moyers about charges of liberal bias bandied about when Kenneth Tomlinson headed the board at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Moyers said "He singled out Now with Bill Moyers for a bias that didn’t exist."
Moyers didn’t try in this comfortable liberal forum to pretend completely that he was non-ideological or a "Thomas Paine radical." He proclaimed "There's no hiding the fact that I believe that collectively we can do things that we can't do individually. I don't think markets solve all of our problems. If that makes me a liberal, I'm a liberal." But he claimed his journalism was about seeking the "verifiable truth."
On Tuesday's edition of ABC's The View, the targets included Bush guru Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales was portrayed as brainless....but singer Sheryl Crow was "amazing," a heartfelt activist. Rosie O'Donnell insisted Crow's toilet-tissue comments were just a joke, not a serious request. First, the conversation shifted mysteriously from being addicted to watching women fight on The Bachelor on ABC to the cluelessness of Gonzales. Token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed he needed to resign. Snippets included:
JOY BEHAR: I don’t recall, 75 times. If that were me, I’d be in assisted living right now. The guy can’t remember anything 75 times. At the very least, he might have dementia....
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: Why didn’t he know what was going on? And why didn’t he know a thing about the people he fired?
Vanity is spread awfully thick across the pages of Vanity Fair, and nowhere more so than when James Wolcott is writing a jeremiad. The most recent target of the sage of Frostburg State is Rush Limbaugh, and his idiot listeners, for fiddling while the planet burned due to global warming and the overuse of toilet tissue:
Global warming's most popular denialist, talk radio's most imitated showman, conservatism's minister of disinformation, he has injected millions of semi-vacant American skulls with a cream filling of complacency that has helped thrust this country into the forefront of backward leadership....May the grasses of his favorite golf courses go forever yellow and dust storms whip from the sand traps.
As Rich Noyes mentioned yesterday, American "mainstream" media accounts often seemed to give Mikhail Gorbachev more praise and more glory in the decline of the Soviet Union than they ever gave Boris Yeltsin. On the front page of today's Washington Post, under a positive headline ("Rough Hewn Father of Russian Democracy"), Post editorial writer Lee Hockstader authored a fairly severe obituary, which even within the first few paragraphs was strangely claiming Yeltsin was more comparable to Stalin than was Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev:
Like Peter the Great, the 18th-century czar he once mentioned as his model, Yeltsin was no towering democrat. In launching a war against the breakaway southern region of Chechnya in 1994, he was responsible for the violent deaths of more Russian citizens than any Kremlin leader since Joseph Stalin. As president, he tolerated -- even authorized -- the excesses of a system in some ways as corrupt and morally adrift as the one it replaced.