It had to be a little jarring for viewers of NBC's Today in the first half-hour on Wednesday morning to go from a drumbeat of stories about how the Bush administration was allegedly smearing Joe and Valerie Wilson out of raw war-mongering vengeance to a thinly disguised video news release for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. The only consistency was liberal advocacy. Reporter Norah O'Donnell obsequiously repeated how Clinton's advisers say she has "an unprecedented strategy" to mobilize support from Democratic women on the Internet with her "overtly feminist message." The only sour notes in the story are old abrasive clips of Hillary from 1992, but O'Donnell suggested she's revising her image from "hard-driving professional" to show the "softer, chattier Hillary."
Like the Tuesday evening shows, Wednesday’s network morning shows leaned heavily on the Democratic narrative toward the Scooter Libby convictions, highlighting the high dudgeon against the Bush administration by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Joe Wilson, and former reporter/juror Denis Collins, while ignoring any angle that would balance the story with any critique of Fitzgerald, the Wilsons, or State Department official Richard Armitage, who withheld the fact that he leaked to Robert Novak, which started the whole scandal train.
Reporters made no reference to how Fitzgerald, knowing Armitage was the leaker, could have cut his investigation short; or how the Wilsons, far from victims, have made two book deals and a movie deal, and how Joe Wilson shamelessly campaigned for a job with President-to-be John Kerry; or how the trial made the media look bad, since the memories of reporters were as bad or worse than Libby’s memory. Here’s how the three networks summed it all up:
Over on The Corner, Byron York is puzzled over why Libby's lawyers wouldn't choke on the many conflicts of blabby juror Denis Collins, the former Washington Post staffer who worked for Bob Woodward, partied with Walter Pincus, shared a back yard with Tim Russert, not to mention the book-writing about the CIA:
From the day Denis Collins appeared in jury selection, reporters asked themselves one question: How did this guy get on the jury? From his account at the Huffington Post, he recounts telling the court about his many, almost unbelievable, conflicts:
As we prepare for a network TV onslaught on the Scooter Libby conviction today, remember that on March 2, 2000, an aide to the Vice President was convicted of illegal funneling foreign money to Democrats, crimes that benefited the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign. Her name was Maria Hsia (pronounced like Shaw). Vice President Gore at that time was the all-but-certain Democratic nominee for president. Coverage was minimal. ABC gave it 19 seconds and CBS gave it 23 seconds. On NBC, Tom Brokaw skipped it. A few days later on the "Imus in the Morning" show, Brokaw had this telling exchange on Gore.
Imus jumped in: "He acted like he barely knew that this Maria Hsia, didn’t he? Like he was ready to drag her up out of a park someplace." Brokaw agreed: "Oh, I know, yeah, it was: ‘Did I miss that?’ It was as if he were saying, ‘Did she get convicted?’ He said, ‘It's still in the courts.’ It's no longer in the courts! The jury has ruled! Guilty! Five counts! Imus shot back: "Well, if he's watching NBC News he missed it." Brokaw conceded: "Yeah, well that's true." Imus: "And he only saw 19 seconds of it with Dan [Rather]." Brokaw: "Yeah, I know."
Kenneth Walsh of U.S. News & World Report tried to reassure readers of a new, moderating Hillary in an article titled "Crafting the New Hillary."
Is that being done by her handlers, or by the liberal media as well?
Walsh reported she was moving to the center, on economics and even on
Clinton is also trying to come across as more cautious and centrist, if often ambiguous in her policy stands, to reassure independents and conservatives. In an interview with CNBC's Power Lunch
last week, she urged Bush to address fundamental problems in the
economy, such as soaring foreign debt and massive budget deficits. She
called the stock market plunge a "wake-up call" and encouraged the
administration to find some "sensible and reasonable" answers.
Over the years, the liberal media has often insisted that Hillary
Rodham Clinton is a centrist, even a conservative when it comes to
traditional values. That's why it's important to know that when
evidence unfolds quietly that instead, Senator Clinton is solidly and
passionately on the left-wing vanguard promoting the widest possible
berth in America for abortion and homosexuality, the media will stay
New video of Hillary speaking and being passionately
supported on Friday, March 2, at a board meeting of the Human Rights
Campaign, the nation's largest radical gay-left group, is now on YouTube.
In her speech, Hillary takes after social conservatives who fought for
a Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent "gay marriage" from being the
new and emerging law of the land: "This amendment was wedge politics at
its worst. It was mean-spirited. It was against the entire forward
movement of American history. It was the first time that anyone was
proposing that we amend the Constitution to deny citizens rights,
rather than widen the circle of rights and opportunities."
In the March 5-11 edition of Variety, film critic Scott Foundas hailed "Everything's Cool," a new documentary from the Sundance Film Festival featuring Heidi Cullen of the Weather Channel and former Boston Globe-nik Ross Gelbspan (the man who believes global warming will soon ruin professional baseball.) Foundas asked: "Can a movie about global warming be called lighthearted? If so, Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand's "Everything's Cool" comes as close as one imagines possible, essaying yet more inconvenient truths about the future of our planet in the same buoyant, irreverent style the filmmakers brought to their last activist docu, 'Blue Vinyl.'"
Time magazine is not going to play to the stereotype of only praising Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They can find obscure Democratic presidential campaigns to praise. The infamous Joel "I Don't Support Our Troops" Stein has filed a piece praising fringy Dennis Kucinich, the candidate who would create a Department of Peace. Stein acknowledges he's on the outer edges of political feasibility, and yet there's something so right in his "progressive" idealism:
"And yet the universe has been going his way lately. Even his old kooky ideas are looking pretty good these days. His decision to allow Cleveland to default instead of selling its electric-utility company cost him re-election and landed him in a book about the worst mayors in American history, but he was later honored by the city council for refusing to sell, a move that saved customers nearly $200 million over 10 years. More inconceivable, less than two years ago, his office was visited by a stunning 6-ft.-tall Julianne Moore look-alike 31 years his junior, a Brit who was working for the American Monetary Institute. After some smooth wooing on his part ("I gave her a copy of my Department of Peace legislation and my e-mail address") and one date (at MacLaine's house), she agreed to marry him. If that happened to you, you'd think you could be President too."
NBC may no longer employ Kennedy family journalist Maria Shriver, but NBC's favorite historians can still be accused of being big Kennedy fans. A new book from RFK's daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who lost a run for governor of Maryland to Bob Ehrlich in 2002, slams the religious right and warns of mixing God and politics. In a book ad in the Book World section of Sunday's Washington Post, her book boasts three promotional blurbs: one from Bill Clinton, one from perennial NBC/MSNBC guest Doris Kearns Goodwin, and one from Michael Beschloss, listed in the ad as "bestselling author and NBC News' presidential historian."
The book's title is "Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God wth Politics and Losing Their Way." I doubt Mrs. Townsend would ever write a book about Martin Luther King Jr., lamenting how he mixed God with politics. But if the cause is conservative, then the religion is spoiled. The book summary on Amazon explained:
When liberals try to deny that National Public Radio is a taxpayer-funded media sandbox for liberals, there’s nothing like reading liberals writing about NPR to rebut it. Michael Tomasky, a leading liberal and editor-at-large of The American Prospect, recently wrote in anguished protest when WETA-FM in Washington dropped its relatively new news-talk format to return to its classical-music roots. This left him without "Weekend Edition Sunday," anchored by Liane Hansen.
Tomasky writes of how NPR is always on in the background at his place on weekend mornings, and he can recognized that the tone can be soporific, the hosts can sound self-satisfied, and – "there's that air of genteel, tea-service liberalism suffusing the whole enterprise." He later added, when talking about a vice president at WETA, that "He's the kind of guy you'd like to have a (remembering the medium) chardonnay with."
In his culture column this week, Brent Bozell talks about the rare hawkish corner of entertainment, and finds it a bit troubling that while "24" sends a gung-ho message in the War on Terror, it's starting to look a bit like an FX show. (Remember that episode of "The Shield" with the face-melting-on-the-burner scene?) He starts by noting his mother was always a big John Wayne fan, that standard-bearer of red-blooded patriotism, and salutes that neglected genre of entertainment. But:
The sixth season of “24" premiered on January 14, but this time even otherwise supportive critics are worried that Fox has gone over the top, with plot twists so extreme and brutal that one concludes the network is irresponsibly falling back on the old formula: shock for the sake of shock.
In an address in Oklahoma Thursday, Al "Balance Is Bias" Gore repeated his reference made at a "media ethics" seminar in Tennessee, that "a survey of 636 articles in the 'popular press' showed that 53 percent of the stories contended that it was still unproved." But Al Gore isn't really relying on a scientific study of media coverage. This matches an article by Jules and Maxwell Boykoff titled "Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias. " They didn't read all national newspaper articles on global warming in a certain time frame. They picked a "random sample" instead of the full spectrum of coverage.
But wait, it gets funnier. The Boykoff brothers urge that it's unethical to allow experts skeptical of global warming into news stories. But when you turn to Jules Boykoff's college biography page, you discover that much of his writing is devoted to protesting the "suppression of dissent" in America, including by...the mass media. (His 2006 book is titled The Suppression of Dissent: How the State and Mass Media Squelch USAmerican Social Movements.) Is he against squelching dissenters -- or only in favor of it when he sees a "climate crisis" for Al Gore and other liberals to prevent?
The Washington Post lovingly remembered liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr in Friday’s editions, including a front-page obituary by Adam Bernstein. But the most notable line came in the Linton Weeks appreciation on the front of the Style section, where his article carried the gooey headline "A Historian Who Made the Ivory Tower Glisten." Weeks declared the historian had an air of timelessness: "He was, in a way, frozen in time, like Austin Powers – International Man of History!" (Exclamation point is the writer’s.) He added: "This analogy came to me in late November 2000" after Schlesinger was "quietly outrageous" in a lunch meeting with the reporter. Yes, he used it in that article, too, right down to the "yeah, baby!"
Unlike Bernstein, who didn’t mention Schlesinger was a liberal until paragraph 19 (although his lede noted he was JFK’s "court philosopher"), Weeks was up front with a royal We: "Seeing him with his bow tie and his Harvard University credentials, we had the reassuring feeling that a smart guy was doing some heavy thinking about this country’s most serious problems. He was an unapologetic liberal, able to articulate the lefty perspective as the country move more and more to the right."
Despite growing into a massive network, National Public Radio still demonstrates signs of being the same countercultural liberal listening post that came of age in the Vietnam era. On Thursday’s Morning Edition, NPR covered war and post-traumatic stress disorder in a trendy liberal way: as an opportunity to sell combat veterans on the mystical healing power of yoga.
Government-subsidized yoga for veterans? NPR reporter Allan Coukell (sounded like "Cockle") suggested it’s the government-funded wave of the future: "So far, most of the veterans have been paying for the sessions themselves, but [Tom] Boyle hopes the Veterans Affairs system will start to offer yoga nationwide. He already sees PTSD and other symptoms of battle stress in troops back from Iraq — and he knows thousands more are still to come."
Over at National Review Online Jay Nordlinger is praising a national media outlets for its reporting from the United Nations. The UN is not exactly a hot or hostile beat for liberal media outlets, who seem to like the intentions of the UN, and never seem to worry much about the follow-through. Oil-For-Food fraud? Yawn. Sexual harassment by UN brass? Yawn. This story is more pedestrian, about how "multilateralism" can often break down into a moral void.
I wanted to be super-sure that you saw this highly revealing article about the United Nations. It’s by Edith M. Lederer, the excellent U.N. correspondent of the Associated Press.
The United States criticized the United Nations for refusing to list a panel it organized Tuesday entitled “State-Sanctioned Mass Rape in Burma and Sudan” on a U.N. Web site.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations arranged to hold the panel on the sidelines of the annual two-week meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women which this year is focusing on discrimination and violence against women. It will include presentations about rape and sexual violence in both countries.
But the U.N.’s Meeting Services branch objected to the title, which was published in the U.N.’s daily journal last Thursday, because it “would be perceived as offensive to named member states,” according to a letter to the U.S. Mission obtained by the Associated Press.
Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton reported Thursday that House Republicans will move for an unusual vote protesting the new committee assignment of Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana, the congressman still under investigation for the $90,000 in bribe money found in his home freezer. After removing Jefferson from the powerful Ways and Means Committee last year as the Democrats ran against a "culture of corruption," Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi now wants to place him on the Homeland Security Committee.
Layton's story highlights Jefferson's role as a "vocal critic of FEMA's performance" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as a rationale for his Homeland Security appointment. But the Post left out Jake Tapper's September 2005 scoop on Jefferson using the government to check on his personal property in the hurricane aftermath: "Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned."
Most people who tune in to morning TV "news" programs know the unbearable lightness of the product, full of celebrity cotton candy and tragic tales of tabloid woe, of climbers lost on mountains and teenagers lost in the tropics. So it was a little shocking to be diverted from that maudlin box of info-bon bons known as the Anna Nicole Smith deathmatch to questions on the grand and glorious subject of Biblical anthropology, and a "discovery" of the alleged bones of Jesus.
Why this whiplash-inducing change of subject? It's sad but true that the "Today" crew went into promotional hyperdrive for the Discovery Channel special on the alleged bones of Jesus because someone spread Hollywood glitter on it -- James Cameron, the director of "Titanic." (Christians are joking among themselves that Cameron doesn't seem to know who the real King of the World is.) The Cameron connection has been a constant attraction for The Discovery Channel.
On "Couric & Co.," her CBSNews.com blog, Katie Couric warned Monday that while Gore was greeted "as a secular saint" for his Oscar win, she worried about a backlash from the Bush team or conservatives or those rare scientists -- "many on the payrolls of big companies" -- who disagree with Gore's global warming alarmism. Couric said the social consensus is here, and "my fervent hope is that Hollywood’s embrace of Al Gore doesn’t give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort — and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that’s really important."
Right after pronouncing her opinion that movie star Penelope Cruz was best-dressed at the Oscars, Couric proclaimed:
Al and Tipper Gore just consented to an interview with Ryan Seacrest on the E! pre-Oscar festivities. (First question: Tipper's wearing Bill Blass, Al Gore reluctantly noted he's wearing Ralph Lauren.) The goofiest answer was when Seacrest asked Gore, "if you were to cast an actor to play the lead in 'The Al Gore Story,' who would you pick?" Gore quipped, "I don't know, maybe William Hung," the infamous "American Idol" reject who mangled Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Seacrest laughed and said "I love it, I mean, the 'Idol' reference!" When Seacrest asked if that performance was one of his favorites, he said it was "right up there," and then said "no, no, no" and insisted that his favorite song is the lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge's song "I Need to Wake Up." Guess why? It's up for an Oscar for its inclusion in Gore's film. Lyrics, please:
And as a child I danced like it was 1999 My dreams were wild The promise of this new world Would be mine Now I am throwing off the carelessness of youth To listen to an inconvenient truth
It's interesting how some network TV reporter blogs show more interest in examining liberals than the network news product does. In his Media Reality Check yesterday, Rich Noyes reported that the networks have yet to touch the controversy over the anti-religious bloggers John Edwards hired for his presidential campaign website, and yet ABC Nightline anchor Terry Moran really got the ball rolling in the blogosphere on the story when he asked if a Republican would be ignored with smash-mouth bloggers like that.
Moran's blog now features a post on the liberalism of Hollywood. Moran says what Jake Tapper didn't quite say in his report on the political importance of Tinseltown...as a Democratic power center: "Hollywood money is a crucial factor for any Democrat who seriously wants to be president. You simply cannot get the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party--and you cannot win the White House as a Democrat--without the money-raising muscle of Hollywood." Do the top producers snip lines like this, lines of simple common sense?
It might seem a little jarring in the wake of the religion-bashing bloggers ruining the John Edwards campaign, but the February 18 New York Times Magazine actually contained an article claiming "In the piety primary, the Democrats win hands down." Writer Gary Rosen claimed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not hard to envision in church among the faithful, but John McCain and Rudy Giuliani would probably be "fidgeting during the hymns and checking their watches." This is not surprising New York Times content. But here's the surprising part: Rosen is the managing editor of the neoconservative journal Commentary. Here's how Rosen began:
Try a quick political thought experiment. First, form a mental picture of the Democratic front-runners for president — Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Now do the same for the leading Republican contenders — John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Next (and this is the key step), imagine each of them in church, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or better still, at the pulpit, delivering a homily or leading the congregation in worship.
Thursday night's edition of "30 Rock" will feature the character of Jenna (played by Jane Krakowski) appearing on an episode of "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. Matthews is no stranger to entertainment. Last year, he appeared in the Robin Williams movie "Man of the Year" and also showed up in another citizen/politician movie, "Dave" with Kevin Kline, in 1993. He's also been around the NBC-TV carousel before, with "The West Wing" and with the short-lived young-senator drama "Mister Sterling." Tucker Carlson will also appear on the sitcom's promotion of MSNBC.
Over at Fox News, "The Half-Hour News Hour" bagged 1.48 million viewers in its Sunday night debut, landing it on the ratings "Winners" list at the Washington Post, which noted "That's about 80 percent more viewers than FNC has averaged in that slot in the first quarter." The Post also noted its competition, "The Daily Show," averaged 1.57 million viewers from last Monday to Thursday.
On his blog Changing Channels, Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin warned that Oprah Winfrey will appear on the Ellen DeGeneres daytime chatfest on Thursday, and it's not exactly an intellectual Clash Of The Titans. He cited this exchange on the presidential race:
Ellen: Hillary and Barack ... That’s very interesting, right? Oprah: Very interesting. Ellen: Very interesting. Anyone that you’re feeling right now? Oprah: (nodding yes) Um hum. Ellen: Yeah, you want to say or no? Oprah: I’m feeling Barack. Ellen: You’re feeling Barack Oprah: I’m feeling Barack. Oprah: I know it’s tough -- the thing about it is, it doesn’t make the other candidate any less. I’m just feeling Barack. Ellen: ....I’m really torn because I love him. I really love him. Oprah: I don’t just love him. I respect him.
Chris Wallace asked about the 2008 presidential race: "We asked people who under no circumstances would they vote for, and you came in second on that dubious list at 64 percent, behind Ralph Nader, but far ahead of everyone else. And I should add 44 percent of Republicans said they would not vote for you. Why do you think that so many voters say Newt Gingrich, forget it?"
Gingrich answered: "Well, there was a column written by Brent Bozell recently about Nancy Pelosi becoming speaker and me becoming speaker. And he contrasted the initial media coverage of the two of us. And if you go back and look, you know, I had a — Time magazine savaged me as Scrooge who stole Tiny Tim's broken crutch — didn't just steal the crutch. I broke it, on the cover of Time. Newsweek had me as the Grinch that stole Christmas. I was a Dr. Seuss figure."
One common media-created misconception in the Bush years is that the Clinton administration fully supported the international Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but the Bush administration arrived and refused to take any action on it. In reality, while Vice President Al Gore signed the Kyoto agreement for the United States, the Clinton administration never submitted it to the Senate for ratification (just like Bush), and the Senate voted 95 to zippy in a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate resolution against Kyoto in 1997, because the agreement would curb American and European emissions, but place no restrictions whatsoever on China or other polluting "developing" nations.
Agence France Presse was the latest to use bias by omission to relay the Bush-killed-Kyoto theory. It was a story on that global savior Al Gore, declaring he would not run for president in 2008:
Retired anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather (and a pile of other liberal media bigwigs) recently made time for a book party Bill Clinton threw in New York for his old defense secretary Bill Cohen and his wife Janet Langhart. Mark Shanahan reported the shindig for The Boston Globe:
Held on the third floor of the historic Russian Tea Room, the exclusive affair was hosted by former president Bill Clinton to celebrate the couple's new book, "Love in Black and White." Guests included former news anchors Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, CBS president Leslie Moonves , "Primary Colors" author Joe Klein, First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson, Newsweek's [International Editor/ABC pundit] Fareed Zakaria, "Inside Edition" anchor Deborah Norville , and MTV creator Robert Pittman. (Michael Douglas and his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones,couldn't make it but sent a bouquet of flowers.)...
Last Tuesday, in a blog suggesting the PBS Frontline documentary on 'News War' would be biased, I added: "Suffice it to say PBS has not contacted the news watchers at the MRC." Frontline executive editor Louis Wiley protested that they had. I asked our publicists, and they located an e-mail from April, requesting a 90-minute interview with MRC president Brent Bozell, which was refused. I was not aware of the request, and I was incorrect. Here is the e-mail I received from Wiley of PBS:
As our producer Arun Rath said, we had wanted to interview O'Reilly and Limbaugh in person to ask them questions about this topic, but they turned us down. It didn't, however, stop us from doing our best to represent their views as our commitment to professionalism requires.
Clearly, network anchors have much more sensitive skins than President Bush. Reporters insult him to his face, suggest he's concocting wars with fake intelligence, and insist he's incapable of admitting any mistakes. But to gain access to Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer, apparently you have to arrive with pom-poms and a pleated skirt.
Howard Kurtz interviewed ABC's Diane Sawyer about her disgustingly sympathetic 2007 Axis of Evil tour of interviewing the dictators of Iran and Syria for Monday's "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post. The piece read more like a press release for ABC than a news article. Take this line: "Just as industry insiders are wondering whether she is ready to abandon the predawn grind, Sawyer embarks on a one-woman diplomatic mission that has the business buzzing."
Brent Bozell's culture column this week centers on those Hollywood sore thumbs called Walden Media, who have made family-friendly and faith-friendly films. Brent told me it was a "V-8 idea," a slap-your-forehead business proposition to serve an underserved market of religious families with children. The new Walden project is the movie "Amazing Grace," as Brent explained:
It is a sad reality: Very few adults, and virtually no child can recognize the name William Wilberforce, the man Abraham Lincoln claimed was known to “every school boy” in America in 1858. Then there’s this: “Amazing Grace” is the most recognizable hymn in the land – but how many people can tell you its origin? To the rescue comes Walden again, with the movie “Amazing Grace,” which tells the true, and beautiful story of William Wilberforce, the brilliant British orator and parliamentarian who fought relentlessly to ban the slave trade in Great Britain and who ultimately succeeded, against all odds, decades before the United States fought a bloody civil war to do the same.
Ken Shepherd mentioned the Michelle Malkin profile on the front of Friday's Style section in The Washington Post. You have to give credit to Howard Kurtz for being fair-minded enough to give a conservative blogger that much attention. It was tough but fair. Your complaint, then, would be that liberals don't get tough but fair. They get goo.
What stood out to me on Friday were the headlines in Style. Michelle's was "A Hard Right Punch: Michelle Malkin's Conservative Fight Has Others Coming Out Swinging."
But what's right above that on the page, the top story? A story on Al Gore's Chicken Little concerts, with the headline: "'Live Earth' Concerts To Tackle Hot Topic: Al Gore's Musical Call To Action." Notice the lack of labels, no hot "liberal" topic, no musical call to "liberal" action?