Yesterday I noted that Richard Stengel, the recently crowned managing editor of Time magazine, had a documented history of media bias. The Washington Post confirmed that fact today with a brief profile (registration required) on Stengel. He told the Post’s Howard Kurtz that he’d like the magazine to "have a stronger point of view about things." Regarding his own politics, the new managing editor described himself as "a flaming moderate." Stengel also discussed his work as a speechwriter and advisor for 1996 presidential candidate Bill Bradley. The former Senator from New Jersey was Stengel’s idol "from the time I was 9 years old." It’s interesting that a "flaming moderate" would idolize someone who had a lifetime American Conservative Union score of 11. Bill Bradley may be many things, a great basketball player, sure, but he was no moderate.
Stengel, who has written and edited Time magazine for several years, already knows something about giving the magazine a "stronger point of view." On January 12, 2001, he wrote an editorial in the magazine about the inauguration of George W. Bush. In it, he compared the various galas to a "party worthy of British royalty," called it a "coronation" and a "Princess Diana-ish royal spectacle."
The Drudge Report is reporting that a high school in one of California’s most prestigious neighborhoods is going to be sending 1,500 of its students to go see Al Gore’s new movie concerning global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.” According to the report: “On May 24, 2006, 1,500 Beverly Hills High School students will be boarding 30 gas-guzzling buses across town to see Al Gore's new global warming film 'AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH' at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.”
ABC has still not pulled the plug on the canceled TV series "Commander in Chief," which featured a woman president. Although the show is no longer a weekly offering because of low ratings, ABC still wants to make a two hour made-for-TV special.
The one-hour drama about the nation's first female president (Geena Davis) didn't catch on in the ratings, having been pulled off Tuesdays earlier in the season and failing to get traction Thursdays at 10 p.m. It was yanked off the schedule weeks ago and wasn't on the ABC 2006-07 primetime schedule announced early Tuesday.
But ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson said at a meeting with reporters that "Commander in Chief" wasn't completely retired yet. McPherson said he had been pitched an idea for a two-hour movie by creator and former executive producer Rod Lurie, and was considering it.
Networks fixate on tax cuts ‘for the rich’ while ignoring exploding tax revenues.
While Congress hammered out a $70 billion tax-relief bill last week, the media wasted no time spinning it. After the House approved its version on May 10, the “NBC Nightly News” cited “Democratic critics [who said] the overall bill is heavily tilted in favor of the very wealthy.” At roughly the same time, the “CBS Evening News” presented a graphic to its viewers showing “for incomes of $50,000 or less, you’ll average no more than $46 in savings.”
The following day, ABC’s “Good Morning America” team offered a $20 bill to shoppers at a New Jersey mall as a cynical demonstration of how little this tax cut would help some Americans.
All totaled, the broadcast networks did 16 reports on this issue in their three-day blitzkrieg, largely with the same predictable mantra: tax cuts favor the rich. Conspicuously absent was an honest assessment of just how much lower wage earners in America have benefited from the most recent income tax changes, as well as how much the government has benefited from higher tax revenues.
The Truth Hurts Without question, the best thing government can do for low-income families is not burden them with income taxes. Toward that goal, according to a March 30 report by the Tax Foundation’s Scott Hodge, the percentage of Americans not paying any federal income taxes has exploded in the past few years as a result of recent tax changes:
Speaking in the Headlines and Biographies lecture series at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Dan Rather says today's journalists have an "urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere."
Journalists afraid to bash President Bush? That's unlikely. Of course, the president's low approval ratings have more to do with conservatives hating Bush than liberals, and Rather could not possibly understand criticisms of Bush that did not originate from left-wing MSM initiatives.
The veteran U.S. television journalist lamented a trend in today's news that sees reporters rely on euphemisms and tact as though they were conducting international diplomacy instead of telling people exactly what is happening in places like Washington or Ottawa.
"I don't know where this urge to be so polite, this mandate not to offend anyone - anywhere, anytime - came from, but in a journalistic sense, I wish it would go away," he said.
It's no secret that the media has a bias when it comes to "climate change" that's friendly to environmentalists who blame human activity, essentially modern economic growth, for global warming. But what may surprise you is just how long the media's fixation with global warming/cooling goes back.
The MRC's Business & Media Institute (formerly the Free Market Project) just released a study that found that The New York Times has led the way in predicting global catastrophe from climate change as early as 1895.
The BMI study "found that many publications now claiming the world is on
the brink of a global warming disaster said the same about an impending ice age
– just 30 years ago. Several major ones, including The New York Times, Time
magazine and Newsweek, have reported on three or even four different climate
shifts since 1895."
Like most of his fellow critics, the Times A.O. Scott gives a ho-hum thumbs down to "The DaVinci Code" (in which a mortal Jesus is at the center of an elaborate fraud, with the Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy) but doesn’t see anything to get offended by:
"In any case Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull sententiousness. So I certainly can't support any calls for boycotting or protesting this busy, trivial, inoffensive film. Which is not to say I'm recommending you go see it."
Talk about handing the media a gift. Yesterday's altercation between employees of the two Republican candidates for governor - at a forum that included the Democrat - gave the Rocky Mountain News's Stuart Strears a chance to focus on the Republicans' arguments and the Democrat's message:
An intern for the Holtzman campaign, Laura Mendenhall, tried to block a Beauprez staffer, Jory Taylor, from videotaping the event. That outraged the Beauprez campaign, which says it routinely tapes such forums.
"They were shoving him out of the way," said John Marshall, a spokesman for Beauprez. "They totally accosted him. This is just junior high school stuff. It's disappointing and juvenile and not befitting a campaign for the highest office in Colorado."
After a couple days in which the only people offered the opportunity to comment on the controversy surrounding the Da Vinci Code were the movie's director and cast members, this morning's Today show finally gave an outside expert and Catholic officials their shot. The result was an oddly ambivalent reaction in which the movie was simultaneously praised as offering an opportunity to teach about the Church - and condemned as filled with lies.
A quick recap on the state of play at Today. Matt Lauer has been "On the Road with the Code" this week. On Tuesday, as reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark timidly raised the matter of the controversy with Code director Ron Howard. Stark didn't bother informing viewers just what all the fuss is about - which is none other than the movie's premise that Christ wasn't really divine, that he was married to Mary Magdalene and had children with her, that the true religion is the "feminine divine" and that the Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated a murderous patriarchal plot to suppress the truth. That's all!
Last week, the Minutemen came to town to protest illegal immigration, but The Washington Post shunned them to the inside of the Metro section, to page B-3. Their crowd was estimated at just 150. On Wednesday, the pro-illegal immigration advocates came to Capitol Hill again, and the Post estimated the gathering at about 400. That's also what you might call an inside-the-Metro-section crowd.
Think again. The rally itself made page A-13 today, complete with yet another color photo of American flags in the sun. The story by Karin Brulliard and Krissah Williams was headlined "Immigrant Advocates Take Their Case to Capitol Hill: Activists Lobby Members of Congress, Aides on Legislation." But its most prominent placement was the dominant story on the top of the front page of the Style section by the very protester-friendly David Montgomery. It was titled "An Up-the-Hill Battle: Even Without Citizenship, Immigrants Embrace a Chance to Become Activists," but should have said "Illegal Immigrants" were the lobbyists celebrated.
On the six month anniversary of Democratic Congressman John Murtha's successful publicity stunt call for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, Wednesday's NBC Nightly News jumped on the chance to highlight Murtha's charge that last November some Marines deliberately killed more than a dozen innocent Iraqi civilians. But in treating Murtha as some kind of authoritative figure making “new allegations,” NBC ignored how the fairly well established as accurate charge (pictures exist of the immediate aftermath and three Marine officers were relieved of their commands) is old and has already been widely-reported -- including on the March 20 NBC Nightly News.
Brian Williams touted: "There are disturbing new allegations tonight from the Congressman and decorated Marine veteran who stunned the Bush administration about six months ago with his call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.” Following a rundown from Jim Miklaszewski of the allegations, Williams trumpeted Murtha's credibility and relevance: “Jim, we should go over again, why is it significant that John Murtha is the one saying this?" Miklaszewski responded with Murtha's argument that the event bolsters his political point as to why the U.S. should leave Iraq, preceded by the misnomer that Murtha had “recently” turned against the war: “It's important because as somebody who recently turned against the war, Murtha held this up today as one of the reasons the U.S. military should get out of Iraq as soon as possible." (Transcript follows, as well as examples of earlier reporting on the November incident)
On tonight's Hardball, Rep. John Murtha claimed that Marines in Iraq stormed a house and intentionally killed innocent women and children in response to the murder of a fellow Marine. According to Chris Matthews, the Marine Corps is currently investigating this incident. It goes without saying that this is an outrageous allegation to make--especially without any proof--and one would think that Murtha, a former Marine himself, would give the benefit of the doubt to our Marines before making wild accusations. Then again, it's been awhile since Murtha has basked in the glory of the MSM spotlight.
When Mel Gibson introduced "The Passion of the Christ" into the public conversation, Hollywood had a lot to say about it. Now Hollywood is offering its response with the upcoming release of "The DaVinci Code," inviting commentary not on that movie, but on Hollywood itself.
Three years ago, Mel Gibson gambled his own personal fortune on a great creative risk, going completely outside the established Tinseltown system to produce a horrifyingly realistic reenactment of Our Lord’s crucifixion, and resurrection. It took not just sacrifice but also real courage to make this. The studios all scoffed at the idea. The reviews were horrible – before anyone had seen a frame of it.
Part-Time Pundit says "another drive-by media attempt to discredit" Bush and claim the Republicans "are trying to usher in a new era of fascism has fallen flat on its face."
Claims by USA Today using sources with “direct knowledge of the program” that the NSA has been collecting massive databases of phone calls don’t appear to match with the records of two of the three apparent participants, Verizon and Bell South....
Once again, we are faced with an “objective” journalistic medium that didn’t do enough footwork to verify the claims that were made before it splashed them on the front page and riled the population. The irony is that it appears the population would support such a database if it existed.
It's not enough for "DaVinci Code" star Ian McKellen to make cracks about Bible disclaimers. MRC's Michael Chapman passed along that in an interview with Reuters, he took his wisecracks directly to the Catholic Church:
“When I put the book down I thought, ’what a load of potential codswallop .That’s still going on in my mind. But I’m very happy to believe that Jesus was married.”
Sir Ian, who came out as gay in 1988 during a Radio 4 discussion programme, continued: “I know that the Catholic church has problems with gay people and I thought that this was absolute truth that Jesus was not gay.”
Richard Stengel, a former adviser and speechwriter for presidential candidate Bill Bradley, has been named the Managing Editor of Time magazine. Stengel has written and edited for the magazine in the past and has a long history of attacking Republicans and conservatives. The Media Research Center has been documenting his bias through the years. One of his more famous comments, recounted in the June 14, 1999, edition of Notable Quotables, was the assertion that the Communist-exposing Whittaker Chambers may have been right, but he sure was mean:
"Whittaker Chambers was mostly right about communism and Alger Hiss, but he was a nasty piece of work and nobody likes a snitch. Even Joe McCarthy may have been on to something, but he was a crude and cruel man who ruined people's lives for 48-point type. You might call this the When Bad People Spoil Good Things school of history."- Time's Richard Stengel on "Dubious Influences," June 14 issue.
On Tuesday's "Special Report with Brit Hume," the "all-star" panel of Mort Kondracke, Mara Liason, and Fred Barnes discussed how the new White House press secretary, Tony Snow, did on his first day. There was also a clip of Helen Thomas badgering the new press secretary on a phantom issue.
BRIT HUME: All right. When we come back with our panel, how did Tony Snow do in his first outing in front of the full press corps under the lights? More with the all-stars after a break.
(Clip of Tony Snow with Helen Thomas)
HELEN THOMAS: Are all of these stories untrue that we've been reading for the last several days, that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?
TONY SNOW: Well, there is -- OK. Well, let's -- yes.
In a cautionary signal for the future of American media, an online poll conducted by Bolt Media indicates some interesting changes in viewing behavior as a result of the Internet. AdAge.com reported on Monday (hat tip to Drudge): “Only one in four 12- to 34-year-olds can name all four major broadcast networks: ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox."
The poll also asked what respondents’ favorite activities were. The number one answer? “That would be surfing the Internet, which 84% said they did during their idle periods.” By contrast, TV viewing got a 69 percent response. Their favorite TV Networks:? “Fox, Comedy Central, ABC, MTV and Cartoon Network.”
The article continued: “‘There's a massive movement going on in people under 30 and how they spend their media time,’ said Bolt President Lou Kerner, who once upon a time was a cable analyst on Wall Street before leaving to run TV.com and then Bolt. ‘Our audience spends lots of time on net, creating their own media.’"
Kerner believes this is a sign of a significant change in media usage habits:
If "The Da Vinci Code" was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank's worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning's 'Today' show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is "fiction." Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day "On The Road With The Code," was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
I'm sorry, but this really makes me furious. Reuters, after five years and Osama Bin Laden's videotaped admission, still uses locutions like this to decribe the 9/11 attacks:
U.S. authorities have said five al Qaeda hijackers seized control of American Airlines Flight 77, a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia bound for Los Angeles, and flew it into the Pentagon.
"Here's the big difference between us (the Democrats) and the right-wing bill that passed the House with the President's support: This is a President who can't find a six-foot-four Saudi terrorist. How's he gonna find 12 million undocumented people and send them all back across the border? That's what he wants to do."
The truth, as Bill pointed out in his "Ridiculous Item of the Day" tonight (Tue. May 16, 2006), is that President Bush has never advocated finding and "sending back" illegal immigrants by the millions. The President made this perfectly clear in his address last night:
Tuesday's CBS Evening News devoted a story to how all three phone companies -- BellSouth, Verizon and AT&T -- denied they supplied the NSA with massive records of numbers called by their customers, as charged in a Thursday front page USA Today story which led to an ongoing media firestorm. Verizon, for instance, maintained: “Contrary to the media reports, Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide customer phone records.” NBC Nightly News ran a story on the denials by BellSouth and Verizon. But ABC's World News Tonight didn't utter a syllable about the denials which undermine the media's obsession of the last six days.
Instead, anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced: “We begin with President Bush and the growing dissatisfaction in this country with the job he is doing. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that the President's approval now stands at just 33 percent, tying a 25-year low. George Stephanopoulos soon inserted a Vietnam comparison as he explained: "Everything President Bush says and does is seen through the filter of Iraq and the American people are judging it a failure. Look at these poll numbers: 59 percent call the war in Iraq a mistake. It took several more years back in the 1970s, far deeper into the Vietnam war, for the American people to reach that same judgment about Vietnam.” (Transcripts follow)
John Green, the ABC producer who became somewhat notorious for his statement that President Bush "makes me sick," is now back on the job according to the New York Post:
He's baaack! Weekend "Good Morning America" executive producer John
Green - suspended more than a month ago after partisan e-mails and
voice messages denouncing President Bush and claiming Madeleine
Albright had "Jew guilt" were leaked to the media - has returned to his
post a changed man. Insiders say he is "tanned, rested and ready, and
boasting he's 15 pounds lighter after a month of suspension and
'vacation' in Europe." Green urged the staff to "take all of their
vacation time this summer because it's so good for the mind and body."
"There was a terrific late night out at the 72nd Street Boat Basin to
celebrate his return," a TVNewser tipster adds. "And he got a big ovation at the morning meeting."
Geraldo Rivera slammed the President's immigration policy on the Fox News syndicated Geraldo At Large. Rivera said the National Guard wouldn't be effective in stopping illlegal immigration but warned if they were successful: "Who will mow our lawns, pick our apples, patch our roofs, sew our garments? You can bet it won’t be those screamers demanding the National Guard. What we need is a sensible and humane approach to immigration. What we need is what the President has advocated up until now. The deployment of the National Guard is political baloney. Get ready everybody for $10 artichokes."
Here is the most insincere question a liberal TV news star can ask: How can President Bush turn around his poll numbers? Imagine how they would have reacted if Rush Limbaugh had pretended to worry how Bill Clinton was going to turn around his fortunes. The media’s crocodile tears are not even laughable, just nauseating. Pushing down the president’s approval rating seems to be their daily task.
The newest manufactured brouhaha – over the National Security Agency creating a database of phone records to track terrorist phone patterns -- was just the latest in a long string of stories trumped up to make Bush look not just incorrect, but dictatorial, even evil. USA Today hyped the story, and the media pack lapped it up, but it failed the first test of newsworthiness: is it new? No. USA Today’s scoop was mostly a retelling of what the New York Times reported last Christmas Eve, that the phone companies had given the NSA "access to streams of international and domestic communications."
It was a Greenie love fest on this morning's Today. First Today show viewers were treated to Al Gore wishing Katie a fond farewell, video which featured an early 1990s clip of Couric actually giving him dance lessons in the White House. Then at the end of the show Ann Curry promoted Sting’s annual rainforest concert with his wife Trudie Styler, complete with this promotion of global warming: "To also remind people, I mean, most scientists really agree that if we don't protect this band of rainforest in the middle part of, lower middle part of the Earth that we will, could affect the environment in a dramatic way. Some now, there's a lot more debate now today about climate change and more concern about the environment. You've seen this go up and down, the interest and the political wave of it. Where are we now and how hopeful are you that people will be able to talk about this, do something about?"
Did USA Today skew their poll results of the NSA phone collection scandal? It sure looks that way. As Brent Baker has already reported, On May 12, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out whether Americans support the NSA’s collection of phone call records. They asked this question:
"It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?"
NPR ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin defends two NPR correspondents who go on Fox News regularly, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams. Many NPR fans, especially those inflamed by Media Matters, complain to NPR that for their reporters to go on FNC is merely to provide a fig leaf for Fox News's claim to be "fair and balanced."
Dvorkin says it's okay for NPR people to go on Fox because of "NPR's commitment to free speech and free inquiry," although reporters "have to stay reportorial -- not become editorial writers or opiners."
Nothing riles some public-radio listeners like NPR journalists appearing on FOX News television programs. Two prominent NPR correspondents, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams are regular panelists on FOX. What bothers those NPR listeners who complain to me is that the cable television network openly espouses conservative opinions as expressed by outspoken hosts. The FOX slogan, "fair and balanced" is deemed by many of the complainants as ironic, to say the least.
That's because NPR makes every effort to remain nonpartisan, and FOX, it appears, does not. Frustrated public-radio listeners tell me that the NPR presence only serves as cover for FOX's claim that it is "fair and balanced." And that frustration is further pumped up by some political blogs, seeking to trash both FOX for being conservative, and NPR for looking like FOX's willing agents whenever its news representatives participate on FOX's programs.
Testing the theory that if you repeat something often enough, it’s bound to become true, AP writer Will Lester offers up another edition in his Cell Phone/Political Polling anthology. This time, he finally tells readers what he’s been dying to say since the first article… that polls are being tilted in favor of conservatives, because cell phone users who are out of reach of pollsters are generally more liberal. Got to give the guy credit, he’s been working on this angle, repeating this same story, for several years now… and he’s finally delivered the dramatic climax.
Cell-Phone-Only Crowd May Alter Polling
Currently, 7.8 percent of adults live in households that have only a cell phone, according to research released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. And that group is growing at about 1 percentage point every six months.
Oklahoma locals (who swear they don’t love Katie Couric) have pointed out that I need to correct and clarify my earlier post on Katie’s big-bucks commencement speech in Norman. The Norman Transcript reports that the Washington Post figure of $110,000 was too small: she made $115,000 for the speech. And she donated it to charity:
OU President David Boren announced that Couric donated her entire speaking fee, $115,000 from private funds, to cancer research at her alma mater, the University of Virginia. The donation was made in honor of Couric's sister, Emily, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001 and was a former state senator.