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.
Here's several items of interest from the Monday edition of the Washington Examiner. First, in the gossip column "Yeas & Nays," news from the big White House correspondents dinner that American Idol teen-pleaser Sanjaya Malakar is a big fan of Robert F. Kennedy, Junior:
Everyone was itching to see American Idol “star” Sanjaya Malakar (who didn’t get their picture taken with him?), but which celebrity was Sanjaya most excited to see? “Robert Kennedy,” Malakar told Yeas & Nays, adding that he’s a big fan of Kennedy’s anti-global warming efforts (Larry David, Sheryl Crow, sign him up!). But don’t expect Sanjaya to jump into politics anytime soon: When asked who he’s pulling for in the 2008 presidential race, Sanjaya declined to give a name, saying, “I’m too much inside the bubble.” (Like his singing, we’re totally confused by what he meant by that.)
For the last two days, The Washington Post has placed a small anti-illegal immigration rally on the front page of its Metro section – a Sunday story previewing the protest, and another front-pager on the events of the Sunday rally on Monday. Why the prominent play, given they estimated the protest crowd at 400? It could be a little pre-emptive publicity to head off complaints when the pro-illegal immigration rallies arrive on May Day, the socialist fun day. Last year’s left-wing rallies in Washington drew earth-shaking, flood-the-zone Post coverage in April and May.
Pamela Constable’s Monday report is fairly straightforward, and gives opponents of illegal immigration their say. (You might quibble that the quotes sound defensive, but is that the Post’s selection of quotes, or were the speakers largely defensive?) The other quibble would be the photo in the paper with a large poster of Sen. John McCain grimacing like he’s getting his chest waxed.
The Sunday preview report by Constable and N.C. Aizenman was more interesting, particularly this: they dug into the finances and interlocking directorates of the anti-illegal immigration movement – something the Post has failed to explore in all the breathless coverage of left-wing "immigrants rights" marches.
The headline on the top left of Monday's Washington Post is "Democrats Craft New Tax Rules, New Image." Reporter Lori Montgomery notes that House Democrats are "aiming to seize taxes from Republicans as a political issue" and want to change the alternative minimum tax (AMT) to fall more upon the rich.
Forget the AMT details for a minute, and let's not blame Montgomery for the headline writer's bias. But can you imagine the Post covering the Iraq surge with a headline like "White House Crafts New Iraq Strategy, New Image"? Isn't the creation of a new public image something that needs some media cooperation? In this case, the Post seems to be aiming to help Democrats craft a new image other than their very established tax-everything-that-moves image.
Brent Bozell's culture column this week took one last bite out of the Imus apple, taking exception to CBS chief Les Moonves claiming he was so glad to listen to the public and dismiss Don Imus from his CBS Radio gig, because he is all about being sensitive to the public's wishes. Baloney, says Brent:
In his press statement on the Imus firing, the strangest part was Moonves touting how he enjoyed listening to the public. "Many of you have come forward during this past week to share your thoughts and feelings. I thank you for that. At the end of the day, the integrity of our Company and the respect that you feel for CBS becomes the most important consideration."
Integrity and respect for CBS? Thanking the public for sharing its thoughts? Moonves & Co. at CBS have stubbornly fought against the public on other matters of broadcast decency. They’ve consistently looked protests in the eye and declared their contempt for the opinions of the majority of Americans.
Rod Paige, the first Education Secretary under George W. Bush, has a new book on the dangers of teacher unions, so you wouldn't expect a nice review in The Washington Post. Richard Kahlenberg of the "radical centrist" vogue at the New America Foundation argues that Paige can't find the nuances, and then finds Paige's nuances. First he argued:
Like his old boss, Paige doesn't "do nuance," even when given more than 200 pages to state his case. Granted, teacher unions are by no means perfect. As Paige notes, too often the unions protect incompetent teachers and resist efforts to pay the teacher who works long hours any more than the one who springs for the parking lot the moment the bell rings. But "The War Against Hope" does little to acknowledge the innovative proposals that some teacher unions have backed on those two issues and the positive roles they play in education.
It's very natural for journalists, just like anyone else, to dismiss scandals when your friends or heroes are involved. As CBS anchor Katie Couric is embarrassed by having a ghost writer make up her childhood memories -- and plagiarize someone else's work -- CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien insists it will pass, and insists that poor Katie is often personally attacked because she dared to be a pioneering woman anchor. The New York Observer reported:
The Transom asked for Ms. O’Brien’s take on the recent scandal over at CBS, which fired producer Melissa McNamara after she plagiarized a Wall Street Journal column for one of Katie Couric’s first-person commentaries. “Well, you know, she’s a mentor of mine, so I talk to her all the time,” Ms. O’Brien said of Ms. Couric. “When I was at NBC and I didn’t have an agent, she called up her agent, and the next thing I knew, I was represented by CAA. I mean, people don’t do that. So I’ve always been incredibly grateful to her.
“I think she’s a great role model for women, because she’s made a very brave choice,” Ms. O’Brien continued. “She’s gone out and tackled something, and nobody before her—no woman—has done the evening news, and I think she has gotten a lot of barbs because of that. Some of the attacks are very personal, and because she is a woman. I’m sorry to have to admit that, but it’s true. I think she’s handled it with grace. This too shall pass, because one thing Katie Couric is, is a terrific journalist. Everybody knows that. And Brian Williams too!”
On his HBO show that aired over the last week, Bill Maher joked that last Friday, "President Bush spoke at a Catholic prayer breakfast, and you could tell this was a Catholic prayer breakfast because [Maher laughs] it was in the morning and he said 'I'm dying for a little joe' and they brought him an altar boy." The crowd laughed and applauded, and Maher said, "See, I'm not afraid!"
Aside from the fact there are craven bishops who still deserve this joke, isn't this show supposed to be "topical"? Isn't this a little like cracking jokes about that wacky Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle?
A week after we heard endless lectures about how hard-working ethical heroes like the Rutgers women in no way deserve the humor Don Imus dished out, can't we also suggest that hard-working ethical heroes like the nation's Catholic priests in no way deserve Maher's line of "ho" humor?
In Friday’s Weekend section, Washington Post music writer Richard Harrington composed the requisite schmooze article on Sheryl Crow’s and Laurie David’s propagandistic Earth Day weekend in DC, noting how it’s “aimed at inspiring students to become part of the movement.” Which movement, a liberal movement? How many times have readers found the term “liberal movement” in the Washington Post? (Answer: a Nexis search shows not since last July 17, when then-Postie Jim VandeHei wrote "A year after its founding, Democracy Alliance has followed up on its pledge to become a major power in the liberal movement.")
The headline of the soft-scoop piece is “College Tour Means The World to Sheryl Crow.” Crow typically um, crowed that the debate was over and it’s irresponsible to oppose her. That would include opposing her strange notion that the global-apocalypse specialists cooking up global-government schemes at the United Nations can be categorized as “conservative” scientists:
Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan, who's often slashed at the fractured fashions of Team Bush, and who in 2004 hailed the hair of John Edwards (it "cries out to be tousled"), surprised readers on Friday by finding Edwards guilty of "primping" with his $400 haircuts. She doesn't go the whole way and mock his rich vs. poor "Two Americas" talk, but it's bubbling under the surface. Early on, she notes a "Bush loyalist" called Edwards a "Breck Girl," (um, isn't "Rush Limbaugh" a better tag for who started that?) and then Judge Robin ruled:
Edwards considers triple-digit grooming expenses a part of campaigning. He listed his salon and spa bills under "consulting/events," after all...But there is a line between grooming and primping. Brushing your teeth is grooming. Giving yourself a big Chiclet smile with veneers is primping. Having an adept barber come around to the hotel to give a busy candidate a trim is grooming. Getting the owner of an expensive Beverly Hills salon to come over, knowing full well that the cost is going to be 10 times what the average Joe is likely to pay for a haircut . . . that's a Breck girl move.
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers is winding up for another series of left-wing propaganda broadcasts on our taxpayer-supported PBS stations. On April 25, we're subjected to the film "Buying the War," which quite typically argues that the liberal media weren't liberal enough, that they were weak-kneed pawns for the Bush war machine. Moyers gave an interview to Eric Bates of Rolling Stone magazine, which posted some audio on its "Rock and Roll Daily" blog explaining how Moyers "gets ill talking about how the Big Red Hype Machine, i.e. Fox News and its conservative bedfellows, makes headlines by criticizing unbiased news reporters."
Moyers declares that one special presence in the new film is disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather. He says the program begins with footage of Rather crying on the David Letterman show a week after 9/11 proclaiming he would go "wherever the president tells me to line up." But in this film, Rather and Moyers are denouncing a right-wing "slime machine." That's a rich characterization coming from someone who tried to use bogus National Guard documents to ruin President Bush's reputation. Here's how Moyers promised he would denounce conservatives from coast to coast:
Over at the Huffington Post's Eat the Press blog, Jason Linkins objected Tuesday night to MSNBC's description of President Bush as "mourner-in-chief," demanding they stop because "It's emo and it's weird." Linkins admitted MSNBC was not the first to use this terminology. But perhaps liberals forget that the network news people employed it with Bill Clinton, too. In fact, on the July 25, 1996 World News Tonight, after a TWA plane crash, ABC's Jim Wooten tenderly hailed the Sensitive President, Bill Clinton, the nation's "chaplain in chief," an even stranger choice of words, given Clinton's historic reputation for indulgence:
Mr. Clinton is clearly more and more comfortable now in the role these times have forced on our Presidents --- first mourner and chaplain-in-chief. But his moments with the families must have struck him as especially poignant today, for when he left them in the hotel and entered his car, he buried his head on Mrs. Clinton's shoulder.
For the second day, The Washington Post rounded up hostile global opinion toward America’s gun culture in a Molly Moore story headlined "Va. Killings Widely Seen as Reflecting a Violent Society: World Reaction Mixes Condolences With Criticism of Policies." But Moore’s article turned unintentionally comic when she quoted an Iraqi praising the gun-control policies of....Saddam Hussein. "But America has terrorism and they are exporting it to us. We did not have this violence in the Saddam era because the law was so tough on guns."
Perhaps it’s not surprising for a liberal newspaper to use a terrible mass shooting as an opportunity for pro-Saddam Iraqis to condemn how the United States has ruined their paradise. But it’s hardly a poster for the Brady Campaign’s gun-control aims – and Saddam’s dictatorship is hardly a model of nonviolence. (It can, however, illustrate the gun-rights crowd’s belief in guns as a bulwark against dictatorship.) Moore’s Iraqi section came about halfway through the article:
The latest Pulitzer Prize awarded to the New York Times wasn't so honored when it originally came out -- by conservatives or even by some liberals. Andrea Elliott's three-part series exploring Islam in America through the imam Reda Shata of the Bay Ridge mosque in Brooklyn was powerfully critiqued by Washington Times columnist Diana West:
Both the New York Post and the New York Sun have already pounced on the most egregious flaw of omission: not a mention, in 11,000-plus words, of the day in March 1994 when a man walked out of that same Bay Ridge mosque and, inspired by the anti-Jewish sermon of the day (delivered by a different, unidentified imam), armed himself and opened fire on a van carrying Hasidic Jewish children. Ari Halberstam, 16, was killed. The Times series, as it happened, concluded on the 12th anniversary of his death.
The easiest place to find liberal disgust at American gun laws in Tuesday's Washington Post was in Kevin Sullivan's roundup of international reaction from London. The headline was "Shock, Sympathy, And Denunciation Of U.S. Gun Laws: British Newspaper Asks, 'What Price the Right to Bear Arms?'"
One British expert even claimed you could easily buy automatic weapons along with your yogurt and bologna at the supermarket:
"I think the reason it happens in America is there's access to weapons -- you can go into a supermarket and get powerful automatic weapons," Keith Ashcroft, a psychologist, told the Press Association. Ashcroft said he believed such access, along with a culture that makes gun ownership seem normal, increases the likelihood of such attacks in the United States.
The Washington Post produced two very different takes on Monday in stories about motivating school children to pay attention to threats looming in their future. First, there was an urgent front-page story about the need to educate children about the cataclysmic vision of a world destroyed by global warming – "the atomic bomb of today" – with absolutely no one skeptical of the almost religious claims of hellish destruction in the very near future. One campus activist asked: "What's the use of a college degree when Wall Street is under water?"
Second, in stark contrast, came a story on the front-page of Metro about selling the religious message of Jesus along with free pizza. But this article was stuffed with skeptical students who were offended by the evangelizing – even as they snagged the lunch. "The free food they like...The praying they don’t."
Darragh Johnson’s front-page story was headlined "Climate Change Scenarios Scare, and Motivate Kids." Its beginning underlined just how dramatically young children are being frightened about their world ending around the corner:
Newsweek’s cover story also carried a half-page feature on page 29 about the "Leaders of the ‘Shock Jock’ Pack." (I could not find the article online.) Writer Jessica Ramirez wrote, "Don Imus’s world imploded last week after he made racist and sexist remarks." Ramirez used data from Talkers Magazine, including a list of "Up-And-Comers." Note the labeling contrast:
Mark Levin was "An ultraconservative in the Sean Hannity style. This best-selling author’s show is syndicated through ABC Radio Networks."
Stephanie Miller was "One of the most popular and funny liberal radio hosts in the country. Miller is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks."
Ed Schultz was "A dominant liberal voice with a political bent similar to Al Franken’s. Schultz is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks."
Newsweek’s cover story on Don Imus this week carried a confessional tone, offering penance from Newsweek bigwigs for enabling the I-Man due to their hunger to be a part of the "in crowd." Weston Kosova’s story lectured about how the Imus incident compares to Hurricane Katrina and the O.J. Simpson verdict in showing "media power is still concentrated largely in white hands and, as a result, racism is sometimes tolerated and enabled in ways that many white Americans are unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge."
Newsweek is also contrite this week its coverage of the wildly mishandled Duke lacrosse rape allegations, but they offered no broad Big Picture moral about how that shows a media too willing to believe in racism in every legal case. In fact, the story has a strange subheadline, with the notion of "innocence" in quotes, as in you shouldn't quite believe it, and it prides itself that all the injustice done to the three accused white boys wasn't just a nightmare: "It was also maturing."
Time’s cover story on Don Imus this week is authored by TV writer James Poniewozik, and he appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Friday morning to plug it. I haven’t seen the whole hour, but just caught the end, when a caller from Manteca, California said that while the Time writer had suggested Imus was for the white elites, he said it seemed to him like a show for liberal elites, so "I kind of feel it’s the left eating their own."
Poniewozik had an interesting response to the caller: "I don’t know if I would go so far as to call every journalist who regularly appeared on Imus liberal off hand, but I think he makes an excellent point. I mean, frankly, in a lot of the major media, there’s this knee-jerk immediately dismissive attitude toward Fox, that among a lot of the same people in the same circles that would go on Imus and shrug all the stuff that he did off. That general point, I think the caller has absolutely right."
Tucked in the back of Sunday's Washington Post Magazine was the usual humor column by Gene Weingarten, devoted this week to allegedly feeling sorry for George W. Bush's low standing in public opinion, then relishing the idea of anti-Bush feeling in every single area of the newspaper, such as the horoscope:
Cancer (June 22-July 22)
Hold your head high. It is not your fault that you share an astrological sign with the president of the United States, who is, appropriately enough, a malignancy.
It's a satire, but there are days when it almost matches the bias of The Washington Post in weird sections like Food or Travel. Weingarten also borrowed from CBS's Charles Osgood in using Dr. Seuss as a model for conservative-bashing, as he imagined a Bush-bashing children's book:
Liberal arrogance is parading around in the Sunday funnies again – in Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury strip – misplaced arrogance about how the major Democratic presidential contenders have no "infidelities." How, pray tell, do we know that? How IS the Hillary math done on that – no "infidelities" in the Clinton marriage?
The Sunday comic strip features gay radio host Mark Slackmeyer interviewing religious-right leader Dr. James Dobson: "On the GOP side, the three front-runners, Giuliani, McCain, and Gingrich have five divorces among them, four of them really messy, and all of them involving adultery. On the Democratic side, the three front-runners, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, have no divorces or infidelities."
You know you must be watching PBS when Good Friday is a time to interview promoters of gnostic gospels and leftist preachers who equate the persecutors of Christ with "rugged individualism." On this Good Friday, April 6, Charlie Rose interviewed Princeton professor Elaine Pagels and Harvard professor Karen King, who explored with Rose how the "Gospel of Judas" shows parallels between early Christian martyrs and modern-day Islamic suicide bombers. Leftist Rev. James Forbes of New York’s Riverside Church carried the anti-individualist message.
Rose began with the professors by promising "some fascinating new information about Judas and Jesus. The New Testament presents Judas’ actions towards Jesus as the most infamous of betrayals. The long-lost Gospel of Judas tells a very different story. It shows Judas as Jesus` favorite disciple and willing collaborator."
Washington Post columnist Colbert King used his usual top-of-the-op-ed-page column on Saturday to bashing Don Imus and anyone who would shift the subject to vicious rap lyrics, "as if that absolves the 66-year-old broadcaster of marking the young collegians with a despicable label." He didn't want anyone changing the subject to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson either:
To shift the argument, as some have done, from Imus to the legitimacy of the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson criticizing Imus, given their own past insensitive remarks, is a smoke screen. The National Association of Black Journalists led the outcry against Imus. We didn't need Sharpton or Jackson to tell us how we should feel about Imus's insults or how to recognize what is morally wrong.
So the natural question is: has Colbert King ever criticized a rapper? Or Al Sharpton?
In 1992, Republican chairman Rich Bond oafishly suggested in public that he was arguing the media had a liberal bias because he was "working the refs," cynically complaining about harsh coverage to get better coverage. But many candidates try to work reporters this way, and on the slightly dated April 4 edition of the PBS talk show Charlie Rose, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter said Bill Clinton's trying that tactic against Barack Obama, who he feels hasn't been challenged or critiqued by reporters:
JONATHAN ALTER: He`s working the refs, as we say.
CHARLIE ROSE: He`s doing what?
ALTER: He`s working the refs....Basketball players understand that.
Long-time New York Times and Washington Post "objective" political reporter-turned-liberal columnist E.J. Dionne on Friday wrote he suspects Fox News chairman Roger Ailes "secretly admires the bloggers and other activists working to keep Democratic presidential candidates from debating on his cable network."
Baloney. If he's secretly admiring Democrats for anything, it's for showing they're thin-skinned spoiled brats who are used to having an army of Stephanopolice reinforcing their every talking point. He's admiring how the Democrats are only building the appeal of the network to an audience of people who are looking for someone who doesn't follow along with the suffocating liberal consensus that lamely claims the mantle of "objectivity" as it throws rose petals in front of the Obamas and Rodhams.
The Washington Post Style section on Friday featured a front-page story on the gay-left group Soulforce and their so-called "Equality Ride" to conservative Christian colleges trying to stir up fights and publicity. Hanna Rosin's story was headlined "Young, Gay Christians On A Bumpy Bus Ride."
The AP is still spinning the anti-Imus wheel with spinoff articles. AP's Sean O'Driscoll wrote a scolding article (this could be old, but this one was posted Tuesday) that whites like Karl Rove should not attempt to rap, as he did at the Radio & TV correspondents dinner, concluding with Jimmy Kimmel saying it is "never, ever funny." Then there's this one from Deepti Hajela: "'Nappy' Has Long, Hurtful History." We are told that whites should never attempt the loaded "in-group" terms:
"When Imus says 'these nappy-headed hos,' his first flaw is he's using an in-group term that's loaded," said Lanita Jacobs-Huey, associate professor of anthropology and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California."When I hear it from someone who doesn't understand the depth of pain, they just don't have the right to say it," Jacobs-Huey said.
Payton Hoegh at CNSNews.com captured an odd Easter weekend occurrence outside Walter Reed. Here's a story you won't see in the Washington Post: the hula-hooping Easter death bunny.
With temperatures dropping into the low 30s, Easter weekend felt more like Christmas in the nation's capital, and with anti-war protestors dressing in creepy costumes, it looked more like Halloween to some critics, too. CodePink, Veterans for Peace and other anti-war groups have been holding demonstrations outside Walter Reed Hospital for almost two years.
Outside the hospital over Easter, one protestor wore a black outfit with a skull and cross-bones emblazoned on his chest and a pair of pink bunny ears on his head. Adding to the creepiness, the bunny was hula-hooping next to his peace sign.
One positive result of the Don Imus imbroglio is a renewed focus on degrading, obscene, sexist, violence-endorsing rap music. Brent Bozell's entertainment columns offer a road map for anyone seeking a refresher course on nasty rap-music controversies over the last four years. Don't miss how media people (like, oops, NBC's Matt Lauer) make excuses for rappers:
In raising her two daughters, [Washington Post writer Lonnae O'Neal] Parker had one very definitive image in mind capturing what’s wrong with today’s dominant trend in hip hop. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, rappers Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent added pomp to the song "P.I.M.P." by featuring black women on leashes being walked onstage. This past August, she added, MTV-2 aired an episode of the cartoon "Where My Dogs At," which had Snoop Dogg again leading two black bikini-clad women around on leashes. She explained: "They squatted on their hands and knees, scratched themselves and defecated. The president of the network, a black woman, defended this as satire."