CNN isn't the only media outlet reporting on the anti-religious John Edwards campaign bloggers in a painfully incomplete manner. Howard Kurtz carved out a little space deep in today's Washington Post Style section (on page C-7) for a story headlined "John Edwards Keeps Controversial Bloggers." Although bloggers on both sides are identified by labels, there's no ideological "liberal" or "feminist" label used for the Silky Pony's poison pens:
Former senator John Edwards said yesterday that while he is offended by some inflammatory remarks written by two bloggers before he hired them for his presidential campaign, he is keeping them on anyway.
Political correctness is on the march again in the Washington Post sports section. In a column highlighted on the Post home page today with the headline "Sexuality Disclosed, Ignorance Exposed," sports writer Michael Wilbon uses former NBA player John Amaechi's coming out as gay as an opportunity to bludgeon the "ignorance" of anyone who would offer a discouraging word.
If we're lucky, the men and women who are both enlightened and emboldened will not only be supportive but will drown out the knuckleheads and Neanderthals and everybody who wants to slow the march of progress. Even one step away from tolerance, whether we're talking about race, gender, religious beliefs or sexuality, simply slows the march to the day when none of this stuff matters.
John Edwards is retaining his attack-dog leftist bloggers. His campaign has a statement on the Edwards blog, and the candidate claimed "they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word. We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked."
As anyone who's read the Kathryn Lopez smackdown on their blazing blog guns at Catholics (and Pope Benedict, the alleged dictator) knows, it's quite clear they intended to malign a faith. The subject emerged on CNN's The Situation Room Wednesday night, but the most disturbing part of the story appeared on screen. The graphic emphasized unproven allegations:
What? Kathryn's beginning made the vicious anti-Catholic flavor of Amanda Marcotte's blogging very clear:
President Bush visited a Micron Technology factory in Manassas, Virginia on Wednesday, about 35 miles from the White House. The Washington Post wouldn't have found much use to cover the visit -- unless there was something embarrassing. The caption on the front of the Thursday Prince William Extra section had it: "Bush made a canned crack about potholes in Manassas, despite arriving by helicopter at the Micron campus."
Bush joked with the mayor of Manassas about fixing the potholes, a throw-away gibe. But reporter Christy Goodman spent a good chunk of her article on the Micron visit focused on Bush's rude "canned wisecrack." The mayor told the Post he wanted to tell Bush "we don't have potholes in Manassas." Baloney. I live about a mile west of the Micron plant, and a year or two ago, I lost a tire due to a pothole near that factory at the intersection of Wellington Road and Godwin Drive (pothole since fixed). Here's how Goodman chronicled Bush's insensitivity:
Since I mentioned Helen Thomas's honors in Washington last night, I should add she was hailed as a celebrity at the radical-left National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis a couple of weeks ago. One of her interviews there was with the radical Pacifica Radio show "Democracy Now." She lamented that there aren't enough protesters hitting the street against the war in Iraq like in the glory days of the Vietnam War. But she also praised Jimmy Carter's book condemning Israel for "Apartheid" against the Palestinians. First, the Vietnam talk:
AMY GOODMAN: But how does this compare? Does it bring back any memories of other wars?
HELEN THOMAS: It's deja-vu all over again with Vietnam, except the difference is our passive society. At least during Vietnam, they hit the streets. The people hit the streets finally, when they realized there had been deception, and it was a no-go. Too many -- we were killing people 10,000 miles away, and the reason could not be explained, except the domino theory, which was fading.
Jose Antonio Vargas covered the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner in the capital last night for The Washington Post, and the liberals were handing over the highest compliments to one honoree, long-standing leftist UPI reporter Helen Thomas, now a Hearst columnist and author of a book scolding the rest of the press corps for being Bush tools:
On behalf of the House of Representatives, we salute Helen Thomas," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. "You could have gotten [this award] over and over again, Helen."
"One of the greatest reporters in the history of the republic," Kennedy called her.
Books, not bombs? Like a golden oldie from the Reagan Eighties, CNN’s Tom Foreman forwarded the classic liberal claim on Monday’s (noon Eastern) "Your World Today" show that the Iraq war is so costly that it could have been better spent on hundreds of grade schools or millions of new teachers, new cargo inspectors, and new cops -- or "every American driver could get free gasoline for a year."
Anchor Jim Clancy began by lamenting all the money "poured down the hole" on Iraq:
"Turning back to Iraq now, it is a loaded question, for sure, Hala, and it's this -- do you have any idea at all how much money in U.S. taxes have poured down the hole, so to speak, in Iraq?"
Anchor Hala Gorani: "Well, I have a general idea, but it's a safe assumption to say that few people do, at least in terms of how much each individual is paying, but some are following the spiraling costs very closely. Tom Foreman is one of them."
While the blog world churns over washingtonpost.com blogger William Arkin, the "On Balance" blog at the same website has a guest column today from Steve Fox, a former national political editor at the Post website about sharing 9/11 facts with his 8-year-old son. "On Balance" isn't about media bias -- it's about balancing work and family -- but Fox certainly demonstrated his political take, since his son was soon suggesting he would throw the F-bomb at President Bush:
My eight-year-old son recently came home with a book titled: September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed America.
My first reaction: What's THAT book doing in an elementary school? Then I remembered that whole censorship thing. As a journalist, I'm supposed to be against that. As a parent, I want all 9/11 books moved to the middle school library.
Never let it be said that politicians are the only ones who side-step the hardball questions in Washington. In today's Post Politics Hour chat at washingtonpost.com, reporter Peter Baker had a no-comment answer on WashPost blogger William Arkin's anti-troops fulminating:
Greenville, S.C.: Yo Peter -- you got any problems with your colleague William Arkin writing an entire column based on the American troops in Iraq being mercenaries and then, after taking a lot of heat, saying words to the effect of "I probably should not have used the word 'mercenary'"? Is this the kind of diversity The Washington Post is looking for?
Peter Baker: Sorry, this is beyond my field. William Arkin writes for the web site and this is a question better directed to the editors there.
In her Sunday Ombudsman column in the Washington Post, Deborah Howell sounds more like a journalist's advocate than a reader's advocate, lamenting that reporters draw complaints about covering a protest no matter what: "Organizers often inflate the number of participants, and there will be complaints no matter how a demonstration is covered or displayed." Howell was also quick to defend the divergence in Post coverage of the March for Life vs. the latest Out-of-Iraq march. The liberal event was "worth Page 1," while "This is the 34th anniversary of that [Roe v. Wade] decision and not a reason to put the event on Page 1 in my book."
I would not argue that the March for Life was a Page 1 story this year, especially with the liberal takeover of both houses of Congress. I would argue that the Bush-bashing anti-Iraq war march was NOT page 1 material. Anti-Bush marches have not become a strictly annual routine like the March for Life, but they have been regular enough to be less newsworthy on each new occasion. Is this new Jane Fonda march really Earth-shattering material, even with liberal control of Congress? All Democrats are doing is trying to pass NON-binding resolutions. How much does a march change the equation?
On Friday night's edition of Inside Washington airing locally on Washington PBS station WETA, the first topic was whether the media's been unfair to President Bush, given his abysmal approval ratings. NPR reporter Nina Totenberg said Bush received a "free ride" for years, so now the worm has turned and the coverage is fierce. Then the host turned to Newsweek's Evan Thomas, who was frank in his assessment of the media's role:
Gordon Peterson: "What do you think, Evan? Are the mainstream media bashing the president unfairly?"
Evan Thomas: "Well, our job is to bash the president, that's what we do almost --"
For TV news watchers, the most interesting Super Bowl ads were CBS promoting itself. Not the ads for its sleazy sitcoms like "Two and a Half Men," or its dark, gory dramas like "Criminal Minds," but more incessant ads for Katie's Evening News. Earth to CBS: the last $10 million didn't work either. I didn't see a single plug for Super Bowl coverage on "The Early Show,' but lots of Katie talking about what's great about America: "We hear a lot about what’s wrong with America. But there are so many examples of America’s can-do spirit. Good people doing great things on the CBS Evening News."
Katie's promoting the newest ratings gambit for the Katie-cast: a segment on "The American Spirit." This could be flagged as false advertising. They might try a feel-good story pandering to patriotism in a sweeps period, but on most nights, CBS will tell you America is ruining Iraq and hurtling the planet toward a global-warming catastrophe. And they'll consider anyone with an opposing opinion as hopelessly delusional or certainly bribed.
The Laura Ingraham Show this morning had a big discussion about the odd part of Prince's performance of "Purple Rain" during the Super Bowl halftime show last night. Prince is obviously self-impressed with the symbol he used for a name for a few years (the TAFKAP Era, for The Artist Formerly Known As Prince). Not only was there a huge symbol on the stage, it was also the shape of his guitar.
So many people thought putting Prince behind a flapping curtain with a spotlight so you could see him in silhouette playing his odd guitar sent an obvious er, male-genitalia message last night. Was this just a dramatic flourish gone awry? Some sort of Austin Powers hommage? And why would CBS let it slip through their censors after the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction of 2004? Anyone else think of old Prince lyrics about the "lion in his pocket"?
Victorious Colts coach Tony Dungy said to CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz on the post-game show last night that he and Bears coach Lovie Smith were proud to be successful black coaches, but more proud of being Christian coaches. How many media outlets will use the first half, and snip away the second?
I tell you what. I'm proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. [SNIP!] But again, more than anything, I've said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches, showing that you can win doing it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that.
The interview aired right around 10:13 Sunday night.
Sunday's Washington Post Magazine had another one of those true Post chestnuts, chronicling how cruel and backward the state of Virginia is to lesbians. April Witt's story focused on two women who entered into a civil union in Vermont now battling for custody of an artificially inseminated daughter. Vermont says Janet the lesbian partner is automatically a parent, Virginia says not so fast. The story contained several elements that the gay left does not appreciate -- Lisa the birth mother left behind homosexuality and embraced Christianity, and the story mentions ex-gay authors and ministries. But it also carried the classic tendency to divide the ideological combat between "conservatives" and not liberals, but "gay rights activists," activists whose work is in historic "landmark" cases.
The trend starts early in the story: "On one side are lawyers who are leading gay-rights activists; on the other are legal combatants for a conservative Christian foundation associated with Jerry Falwell."
On the front page of Sunday's Style section in the Washington Post is an article headlined "No I-Told-You-Sos." Reporter Lynne Duke hailed anti-war voices and their predictions of doom as correct, but there is "no gloating" among them. But there's one nagging issue for readers. Duke never quotes an actual prediction from 2002 or 2003. Among her heroic non-gloaters were skeptical hawks (William Odom, Anthony Zinni), but she also focused on doves: Jimmy Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (they did so well in Iran?) and, most egregiously, leftist Rep. Barbara Lee (pictured with actress Susan Sarandon), who wouldn't even vote for war after September 11. Is she vindicated? Duke hailed how Lee "saw it coming" in 2001 and had the foresight to oppose the entire military War on Terror.
How far will reporters go to get a juicy story: How low will they go? How many rules will they break? How many sacred cows will they make into hamburger? Reporter Riccardo Bocca of L'Espresso is attracting worldwide attention from Catholic media outlets and bloggers. Bocca stealthily visited confessionals at 24 Catholic churches in Rome, Turin, Naples, Milan and Palermo, and lied to each priest he visited, manufacturing false confessions for various sins. He said he wanted to show the disparity between what the church teaches and what priests do. Would they conform to Catholic teaching or slip out of orthodoxy to show sympathy? Bocca found priests who would step away from orthodoxy, although not on abortion.
Fox News explained that the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, was furious: "Shame! There is no other word to express our distress toward an operation that was disgusting, worthless, disrespectful and particularly offensive," the Vatican's paper said in an editorial headlined "Fake confessions in search of a shameful scoop." (Philip Pullella at Reuters also had a story.) I can't imagine even many "secular progressive" reporters finding it ethical to lie your face off in a supposedly sacred ritual.
There's a culture rising among those who could not care less about tomorrow's Super Bowl. Just ask Amy McCloskey, owner of Madame X, a Manhattan nightspot that will be the scene of the Ladies-Only Anti-Super Bowl, complete with manicures and psychic romance readings. "This is our own tiny stadium of girly things. It's the estrogen answer to Super Bowl testosterone," Miss McCloskey said. "We'll feature lots of little attractions for women seeking a pleasant night out. No hordes, no yelling." It's enough to scare most men to death: Aromatherapy, air brush tans, makeovers, chocolate fondue, dainty cocktails. Men, in fact, will not be admitted until 11 p.m., after the game has ended.
Sometimes, a line just jumps out of a transcript. To me, this is just a Line of the Week. On Thursday's GMA, George Stephanopoulos was assessing the fallout from Sen. Joe Biden describing Barack Obama as "clean" and "articulate." In trying to explain how it helped Obama, George declared: "He was doing poorly among the African American community because a lot of them didn't know he was black."
Here's the line with more context around it:
Roberts: "But who's counting?" But with a woman, a Hispanic, an African American in the race, is this just the beginning of a really charged race?"
The amazing liberal vapors over President Bush’s use of the word "Democrat" to describe, er, Democrats, continues. In an NPR interview with Juan Williams, President Bush claimed it was a simple mistake in his State of the Union speech, but liberals quickly found more of these grievous offenses in searching speech texts at the White House website. Certain left-wing media critics who lay face down in worship at the feet of Hillary Clinton are now insisting that the word "Democrat" is a "smear" and an "oft-used Republican slur." The Washington Post and The New York Times each produced stories on Bush's denial of this microscopic scandal. (Clay Waters handled it at Times Watch here.)
But my favorite fuss comes from former Newsweek reporter and Carter speechwriter Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker, who says the plain D-word is "jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams ‘rat.’" He then imagined Republicans want to destroy the Democrats like Israel’s enemies want to wipe out Israel, and compared them to a street gang:
"The House passed a $463.5 billion spending bill Wednesday that covers about one-sixth of the federal budget as Democrats cleared away the financial mess they inherited from Republicans."
Cleared away the financial mess, all in one spending bill? That's not just editorializing, it's bald-faced partisan rhetoric, not fact. Just paragraphs later, Taylor suggests the Democrats are still a lot like Republicans:
Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen, a favorite of Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw, takes on "myths" about Campaign 2008 in her column in the back of the magazine this week. First up: who says Hillary is a liberal? She's firmly in the political middle:
"Today many of the contenders are enshrouded in the mists of myth. One is that Hillary Rodham Clinton is a flaming liberal. Would that this were buttressed by the facts. If it were, she might have voted against the Iraq war, and the health-care initiative she oversaw as First Lady would have been a sweeping plan for universal coverage instead of a timid column A/column B effort. It's laughable to talk about the senator moving toward the middle. She's been there for years."
It's always amazing to see someone argue that nationalizing one-seventh of the economy was a timid centrist thing to do.
WashPost political writer Shailagh Murray's online Political Chats are usually good for a liberal zinger or two. Here's Monday's cinematic zinger, carrying a vinegary bouquet of Hollywood-centric New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd:
Alexandria, Va.: In the spirit of "Dance With Who Brung Ya," all loyal Republicans should support Bush's war plan.
Shailagh Murray: At the moment it's looking more like Thelma and Louise, but that's certainly one school of thought.
Republicans are fugitive criminals driving off a cliff?
Personally, I'd rather suggest that considering its feminist and empowering subject matter, "Thelma and Louise" is a better subtext for Hillary Clinton's failed health care initiative in 1994. Hillary thinks it's a political consultant's horror film called "Harry and Louise," but it was more "Thelma and Louise."
After a cozy recounting of the launch of The Politico newspaper (run by ex-Posties), Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz noted leftist radio host Ed Schultz's complaint that Hillary Clinton is inaccessible, and passed on the official response from Team Hillary: "Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines says his boss has 'happily appeared' on Schultz's show at least half a dozen times, including her first national radio interview after being reelected."
That's apparently not enough. On Friday morning's Bill Press radio show, Schultz complained that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has appeared on his show 16 times in the last ten months. He apparently wants frequent access -- and he said it only makes sense, since Hillary was so crucial in creating progressive talk radio. He also slammed John Kerry, believing he would have done better in 2004 with more progressive radio interviews. Ed Schultz, king-maker?
The Washington Post not only felt the need to praise the seriousness and maturity of Jane Fonda. It saw in her attendance at Saturday's Bush-bashing fiesta a "stamp of maturity and seriousness" on the hard left "anti-war" movement as a whole.
Post writer Linton Weeks remembered when Fonda first "spoke out for peace" against the Vietnam War, and how she has changed, like America, from activist to exercise maven to "post-feminist arm candy" for Ted Turner.
Yesterday, with her daughter, Vanessa Vadim, and two grandchildren nearby, she was again front and center as actress, feminist and opponent of war.
Within one week, the liberal bias of the The Washington Post is made perfectly obvious. On Monday, tens of thousands of protesters emerged on Washington for the March for Life, but the hometown paper put the story on the bottom of page A-10 Tuesday morning. On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters emerged on Washington for a rally against President Bush and the war in Iraq. The Post blasted that story across the front page on Sunday, complete with a large color picture taking a wide shot of hundreds of marchers and their signs and banners. Tuesday’s story on abortion protests matched carried no wide shot of hundreds. It showed four pro-life marchers, and matched them with another picture of five feminists counter-protesting. There were no photos of conservative counter-protesters in the Sunday paper.
The Post not only let the anti-Iraq rally dominate the front page, but devoted an entire page (A-8) to more photos and a story on student protesters. The front-page story carried over to most of page A-9. Jane Fonda’s appearance at the march drew another story, placed on the front page of the Style section.
One last tidbit from State of the Union Night: On Tuesday night’s Charlie Rose talk show on PBS, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and ABC political director Mark Halperin and White House correspondent Martha Raddatz took turns sticking forks into President Bush and saying he was done. Meacham said Bush attempted to show he’s "actually involved with reality, that he’s a reality-based figure." Halperin agreed that the president "wanted to show that he had a reality-based presidency, but I don’t think he did. I think the war is over politically." Halperin even suggested that if Congress could vote by secret ballot, both Republicans and Democrats would vote to end the war – and vote for Bush’s presidency "to end today."
The Washington Post is so liberal that even the sports writers are politically correct. In Saturday's Post, columnist Mike Wise stumped for the University of Illinois to dump their traditional Chief Illiniwek mascot. To a sports reader in D.C., it's quickly obvious that Wise is also sympathetic to making the Washington Redskins dump their moniker next.
Wise begins in the most propagandistic way, comparing oafs favoring the tradition declaring they're going to become racists and do violence to Indians with an Indian activist who fears for her life. He suggested this was the biggest issue going in college athletics:
We get all lathered up because college football does not have a playoff system. We produce talk shows about gender equity. We want our student athletes paid, as if that will somehow right another NCAA wrong.
In response to my earlier post today on NPR reporter David Folkenflik's report featuring Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Beck e-mailed me a statement late this afternoon to clarify that he in no way was criticizing Limbaugh in his interview:
"After conducting a 30 minute interview with me on the supposed topic of 'does conservative talk radio reach across party lines, and if so, how?' NPR chose to take a quote from me and use it completely out of context. The quote was not about Rush Limbaugh, which is how it was made to look in the story, it was in response to how the country is dangerously divided along party lines and how that division may be the death of us all. I was also commenting about my disdain for the breed of talk radio hosts whose sole AGENDA is get people elected; they are contributing to this division.
"As Rush said in the story, his goal is to attract the largest possible audience, and that's my goal as well. Rush and I are not "rival" talk hosts, as the story states, since my show precedes him on the same network, and we both work for the same company. I was disappointed to see how NPR chose to make it look like I was insulting Rush, which is something I would never do.”