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.
Today’s top story, naturally, is Bush’s speech to the nation last night concerning illegal immigration. Jim Rutenberg, rotating back onto the national news beat, leads off the coverage, correctly noting that conservatives are still unhappy with Bush on the issue. But where are the liberals?
"Some of the border state governors, Democrats in Congress, and others immediately raised questions about the practicality of the plan. Mr. Bush's broad approach also drew tepid reviews from some House Republicans and conservatives, whose support he will need as he grapples with a problem that has defied decades of proposed solutions: the continued economic imbalances between the United States and its trading partners to the south.
Chris Weinkopf writes at American Enterprise Institute Online that if Hollywood had made a movie about all of Islam being a sham, with a murderous sect that kills all those who try to reveal the true secret, the media would have denounced the movie as hate speech, sure to inflame the terrorists and defame a major world religion.
Imagine, if you can, a major studio releasing a thriller in which the stars investigate the origins of Islam. Pursued by a murderous Muslim cleric, they uncover a series of shocking discoveries: Mohammed was no prophet! The Koran is a hoax, the work of self-serving hypocrites! Modern-day Muslims are dupes, if not deranged psychopaths!
Now imagine, in the unlikely event such a film were ever made, what sort of reception it would get in the establishment media. Given the categorical refusal of the American press to publish the Danish Mohammed cartoons, it's a safe bet that the talking heads and big newspapers would only mention the movie to denounce it.
For those of you that hadn’t heard, former vice president and potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has a movie about – you guessed it – global warming coming out next week. This – no surprise – was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival. The film has its own website, with marvelous information about the “science” of this myth (video link of movie trailer to follow).
In the “About the Film” section, the narrative begins (emphasis mine): “Humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb. If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced.”
Just ten years, folks. This coming from climatologists, meteorologists, and scientists that can’t accurately predict whether it will rain tomorrow.
The introduction to the film continues: “With 2005, the worst storm season ever experienced in America just behind us, it seems we may be reaching a tipping point - and Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation.”
Yet, for those who don’t believe Gore is running for president again, it is quite clear this film is a vehicle for exactly that:
Let's be clear: the Da Vinci Code portrays Christianity as a fraud and the Roman Catholic Church as a murderous conspiracy. As Archbishop Angelo Amato, the number two official in the Vatican doctrinal office which was headed by Pope Benedict until his election last year recently stated, if "such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising."
Yet the Today show has decided to offer the movie, scheduled for release this week, untold millions in free advertising by devoting hours of, um, worshipful coverage to it, going so far as to send Matt Lauer to Europe for the week to be "On the Road with the Code."
Matt Lauer's trip to Paris, to go "On the Road With the Code," included a stop at the Louvre art museum on Tuesday, where the novel "The DaVinci Code" begins. In his interview with the Louvre's head curator this morning, he asked if the museum staff would be bothered that people came to see "the spot where Sauniere was murdered," as if it was a real human being, and not a figment of author Dan Brown's imagination. Is this a "news" show, or just an unpaid publicity arm for Sony and Brown?
Lauer did note that it was preposterous for Brown to suggest that a 76-year-old curator in the book would be marching around with a painting that was in real life too large for him to carry, 12 feet by 18 feet.
For those who think that sports broadcasts might offer a respite from liberal media spin . . . think again. At least when it comes to ESPN [an arm of ABC] the same ESPN that forced Rush Limbaugh out from his position as an NFL commentator for expressing his views on QB Donovan McNabb.
ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, along with colleague Richard Esposito, reported at “The Blotter” blog on Monday that they have been informed by a “senior federal law enforcement official” that their phone calls are being monitored to identify confidential sources: “‘It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick,’ the source told us in an in-person conversation.”
The blog continued: “Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.”
Why do Ross and Esposito believe they are being targeted? “Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.” And: “People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.”
Yet, Ross and Esposito confirmed what the administration has claimed about this program that is contrary to a recent USA Today cover story and most drive-by media reports on the subject:
Following President Bush's Monday night prime time address on immigration, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann ruminated to Chris Matthews: “Could he also be kind of back-dooring changes in the personnel totals in Iraq with this because, as Dick Durbin did point out in the Democratic response, an assignment of 6,000 National Guards troops is not just 6,000 guys going to the Southwestern borders of this country, it involves a lot more people and could provide at least a reason to bring people back from Iraq and Afghanistan out of the Guard. Could it not do that? Could he not be, in a sense, saying that?" Matthews called Durbin "generous in his math" in estimating 150,000 National Guard members will be needed over two years to maintain 6,000 on the border, before Olbermann again prodded Matthews with his contention: "Don't they have to come from Iraq? In other words, could this be the way, you know, as I said, a backdoor way for the President to say, 'Well, I've got to bring these people in for this pressing urgent issue on the Mexican border and we have got to just coincidentally reduce troop levels by removing the National Guard from Iraq and Afghanistan?'"
CNN aired live footage of President Bush rehearsing for his address to the nation. The following video shows CNN political contributor Jeff Greenfield commenting before the feed cuts into Bush in the Oval Office. Bush abruptly stops and seems embarassed as he looks for advice from his media advisors. After over 15 seconds of showing Bush, CNN cut back in pre-speech coverage with an apology from Wolf Blitzer. CNN was the only network that "accidentally" cut into the Oval Office.
George Will is fond of saying that American politics is played between the 40-yard-lines. Well, according to the Denver Post, Republicans are somewhere in the shadows of their own goalposts:
As the deadlines to get on the ballot near, all but one of eight Republicans vying to replace Joel Hefley in Colorado's 5th Congressional District are running hard to the extreme right - touting views against abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research.
Never mind that support for Roe in its current form is now the minority position. Never mind that gay marriage runs behind even Walter Mondale at the polls. And never mind that the stem cell debate is, at this point, about federal funding rather than the research itself. These positions are "extreme."
Mumin Salih writes in Islam Watch, a blog of ex-Muslims, that the Arab satellite news channel Al-Jazeera was given legitimacy by the West when American and British politicians "joined the race with their desire to appear on this channel to address the Arab people." The Western media has not helped, either, who "are engaged in a mission of self-flagellation and self-blaming for all the faults in the world including the terror crimes."
Since its launch in 1995, Aljazeera followed a consistent anti-American policy. Its clever editing and broadcasting made the un-informed and gullible audience think of Aljazeera as an impartial news channel. At the same time it was directing the minds of that simple audience to its mindset of thinking. This mindset is normally an anti American one. Even when America sided with the Muslims of former Yougoslavia and intervened for their protection, the channel could not hide its position vis-à-vis Milosevic, the Serbian leader who was seen as a friend and ally by the Iraqi dictator. The Iraqi leader awarded Milosevic with the highest Iraqi Medal!
Aljazeera came to be known to the west after the terrorists’ attacks on 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. By then, its alliances with Taliban, Alqaeda and Saddam were difficult to hide. Their reporters were given previliges by those terrorist organizations not given to any one else. Aljazeera’s news footages were broadcast everywhere by western channels providing Aljazeera with free worldwide publicity.
In Monday's NY Times, pro-Democratic congressional reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg lauds yet another prominent and controversial Democrat. Stolberg puts what (even for her) is some pretty impressive pro-Kennedy family spin on Rep. Patrick Kennedy's recent Capitol Hill car crash, complete with a helpful headline portraying Kennedy as a crusading victim: "For a Kennedy, Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness Becomes Personal."
"He has attributed the accident to confusion caused by two medicines, Ambien, a sleep aid, and Phenergan, for gastric distress. Medical experts say his explanation for the accident is plausible, though the Capitol Police, who complained that their supervisors barred sobriety testing, said they suspected that Mr. Kennedy had been drinking. He said he had not."
In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos aired on Sunday's This Week, First Lady Laura Bush rejected the notion the media are “unfair” to her husband, but citing how the press puts low approval polls on the front page and how those she meets around the nation aren't nearly as downbeat as the media portray, she charged that “I think they're maybe enjoying this a little bit. I mean, that's what it seems like.” To which Stephanopoulos, surprised by the suggestion, exclaimed: "Enjoying it?" Mrs. Bush elaborated: "That's what it seems like a little when I read it in the paper. Because it isn't really what I see everywhere. I mean, I travel all around our country. I go to every part of our country, and what I see is that Americans are standing with our troops. They want them to succeed. They want them to be successful. They want the Iraqi people to be successful. They want the people in Afghanistan to be successful, and they want to rebuild the Gulf Coast. I mean, that's what I see everywhere in our country."
Co-opting liberal rhetoric in the immigration debate, ABC's Dan Harris asked viewers, "What is the higher biblical priority, being a Good Samaritan, or upholding the law," while heading out to commercial on the May 14 "World News Tonight."
Aside from displaying a simplistic liberal agenda-friendly interpretation of Christian Scripture, the rhetoric Harris borrowed came straight from the mouth of woman featured in his story.
"Anyone who believes" Jesus's parables "should be
outraged that … the government is making it a crime to be a Good
Samaritan," activist Maryada Vallet was quoted in a January 20 Religion News Service article.
Vallet's work for "No More Deaths"-- a group which refuses to alert the Border Patrol to the location of illegal immigrants -- has been documented elsewhere in print, including the Scottsdale Times.
More grist for the media-corporations-are-conservative crowd, proving that life is a little more complicated than Noam Chomsky preaches:
"This is how poisonous it's gotten in Washington," says a consulting
lobbyist for a broadcast network. "You have Republicans taking money
from companies and firms working to end their control of Congress, and
even worse, working with outfits like MoveOn.org. And they are taking
this money to not only help groups dedicated to defeating Republicans,
but also for legislation that would regulate the Internet." [...]
makes [Republican lobbyist Vin] Weber's cynical support of the
legislation even worse, say Republican Hill staffers, is that his
activities also aid MoveOn.org, the extremist, left-wing organization,
which is now being financially backed by Google so that MoveOn can help
Google with "Net Neutrality." Google has become the single largest
private corporate underwriter of MoveOn. According to sources in the
Democrat National Committee, MoveOn has received more than $1 million
from Google and its lobbyists in Washington to create grassroots
support for the Internet regulation legislation. Some of that money has
gone to an online petition drive and a letter-writing campaign, but the
majority of that money is being used to fund their activities against
Republicans out in the states.
For example, MoveOn is said
by one DNC source to have funneled at least $100,000 "Net Neutrality"
money to its operations in Pennsylvania (where MoveOn is organizing
against Sen. Rick Santorum). It has also sent funds to Florida, Ohio,
New White House press secretary Tony Snow never thought it would be this hard. Unlike most press secretaries, Snow had little time to prepare for the job. He thought he could tame the rowdy press corps, but during his first press gaggle, held in his office, he did nothing of the sort.
In a chaotic and contentious first outing — a dress rehearsal of sorts for his first televised briefing Tuesday — Snow was asked about the Bush administration's domestic spying program, about the reports that it had collected vast data on Americans' phone-calling habits and whether all this would sink Bush's nominee for CIA director.
Business Week reports that CNN founder Ted Turner is leaving the media world for good, and will spend more time promoting his restaurant chain, Ted's Montana Grill. He is leaving at the comparatively young age of 67, younger than his archrival and Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, who is 75.
Turner will leave the board of Time Warner, and Business Week says he is "just tired of the game." The final straw was the board's "decision in February to sell his Turner South sports network to Murdoch."
"If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect." Ted Turner always managed to give us good quote. For that alone, we will miss the outrageous from Captain Courageous, as he became known for his yachting prowess. On May 19, Robert Edward Turner III bids adieu to the media world when he steps off the Time Warner Inc. (TWX ) board at the company's annual meeting in Atlanta. Except for his remaining 33 million Time Warner shares, Turner's resignation will sever his ties to the media industry, ending a prolific career that began in 1961 when the Brown University dropout joined his father's billboard business.
The outspoken proprietor of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, had some extremely harsh words for senator and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In a Sunday post entitled “Cracking the Hillary Code,” Huffington used the occasion of the release of the film “The Da Vinci Code” to compare and contrast the recent activities of America’s former first lady: “Unlocking the latest Clinton cryptex, we find not a papyrus map but other kinds of symbolic clues: Making headlines with her warm assessment of Bush. Partying with a Who's Who of the GOP power elite, including Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Tom DeLay, and Bill Frist. Planning a fundraiser to be hosted by -- wait for it -- Rupert Murdoch.”
Huffington was just warming up, although her next statement has been obvious to many Americans since Hillary and her prevaricating husband first rose on the national scene in 1991: “It doesn't take a dashing Harvard symbologist and a sexy French cryptographer to figure this one out. Hillary Clinton is determined to single-handedly remove every last vestige of authenticity from American politics.”
That’s like saying the sun sets in the West, Arianna. From there, Huffington continued stating the obvious, though it’s always marvelous reading the truth as written by someone from her current side of the aisle:
On May 13, Saturday Night Live allowed Al Gore to plug his global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, not once, but twice. As Noel Sheppard has already reported, Gore opened the program with an "alternate" address from "President" Gore. This bizarro-Gore reviewed the achievements of stopping global warming, balancing the budget and providing universal health care. The second segment that the former Vice President appeared in was even more sanctimonious. Weekend Update co-host Tina Fey introduced the sketch at 12:15AM EDT:
Fey: "Okay, so thank you for being here and, uh, global warming is a scientific fact. It’s happening. We’re not going to debate that. So for tonight’s point/counterpoint, Vice President Gore will take the point that global warming is bad. And Amy will defend her personal point of view that global warming is awesome."
It’s not very often that a reporter for a major cable news network will openly express their desire to see political change, but viewers of CNN’s In The Money on May 13 heardjust that. CNN Headline News correspondent Jennifer Westhoven was interviewing the New America Foundation’s Len Nichols, along with Money host Jack Cafferty and CNN business contributor Andy Serwer, on the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. Following Nichols’ conclusion that the Bush administration was "far right of the edge" on health care policy, Westhoven wrapped up the interview by expressing her desire to see "different" political leaders [i.e. Democrats] in office.
Len Nichols: "...I would say it’s very important to keep a distinction between the Bush administration’s philosophy and Republican philosophy. In my opinion, the Bush administration is the far-right of the edge, and most Republicans are not there, which is why Chuck Grassley, the chair of Senate Finance, among others, have worked very hard to try to correct the mistakes of this implementation process and I think as we go forward we do have hope of bipartisan success."
Jennifer Westhoven: "Len Nichols, director of the health policy program at the New America Foundation. Thank you very much. And we will hope that there’ll be maybe some different political leaders at some point, maybe after the elections, who are looking out for people who are getting left out by some of these programs. Thank you."
Remember the scene in "The Naked Gun" when Leslie Neilsen (as incompetent cop Frank Drebbin) is working undercover at a baseball game as opera singer "Enrico Palazzo," and botches the National Anthem on live TV?
The scene shifts then to the real Palazzo, bound and gagged in a locker room with a TV, writhing in anger and despair as he watches Drebbin butcher the anthem under Palazzo’s name.
It wasn’t quite that dire, but as Biased BBC reports, the BBC’s 24-hour news channel made a similar faux pas a few days ago.
"BBC News 24 cocked things up big time last Monday when they interviewed respected technology commentator Guy Kewney on the outcome of the Apple Computer vs. Apple Music case. Except, rather than place Mr. Kewney in front of lightweight Karen Bowerman, they chose his taxi driver for her to interview instead. Bowerman proceeded to interview the taxi driver, whose Frank Spencer style expressions, when he realises their mistake, are priceless!"
Much of the debate about high gasoline prices involves allegations that oil companies are 'gouging' and making 'windfall profits.' So if you were an MSM show preparing a graphic display of the various components that add up to the price of gas at the pump, the one thing you would be sure to separately break out would be profit, wouldn't it?
Not if you're the Today show. Not if you want to camouflage the fact that, in fact, the government's take via taxes dwarfs the amount that the various levels of commerce take in profit.
In conjunction with the appearance of Chevron CEO David O'Reilly, this morning's 'Today' ran just such a graphic display of the components of the price of a gallon of gas. The first panel showed that the cost of crude oil contributes $1.67 per gallon. Next was taxes, 44 cents. Now, you might have thought that the final panel would have shown profit. But no. Instead of separating out profit, Today displayed a panel mystifyingly lumping in profit with "refining and transportation" for a total of 78 cents, or roughly double government's tax take.
Peter Johnson of USA Today profiled Meredith Vieira, the incoming co-host of "Today" on NBC, and at the very end of the piece, we "conservative bloggers" made a brief entrance:
Then there was the peace rally she attended with Lily at the 2004 Republican National Convention, which conservative bloggers dug up when NBC announced that she would succeed Couric.
"I have a lot of issues with what's going on in this country, and I wanted my daughter to see what this process is like," says Vieira, who describes herself as "in the middle" politically. "I don't regret anything, but now I have to be objective. I won't preface an interview with 'I think you're a stupid idiot, but what do you think about ... ?' "
In April and May, the Washington Post devoted very heavy resources to covering pro-illegal immigration protests. When a contingent of the Minutemen came to Washington for their turn – and a much smaller group it was, estimated by the Post at "about 150 people," awfully tiny by D.C. standards – how would the Post greet their chance to speak? In Saturday’s Post, they did get a small box at the top of the front page, on how they were "fired up over a proposal to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship."
Consider that a remedial shout-out, following behind the massive coverage the amnesty rallies received. But the actual story was on B-3, not even the front of the Metro section.What went on the front of the Metro section instead? To a Minuteman from out of town, it must have looked awfully puzzling. Hogging the attention on B-1, with large color photos, was a story about prom-goers in New Orleans. New Orleans? The story by Annie Gowen was a followup to a A-1 story on Friday, also with color pictures, and it wasn’t until you turned inside the B section that you discovered what on Earth would make proms in New Orleans a D.C. "Metro" story – an 18-year-old girl from Beltsville, Maryland held a local dress drive that provided 2,800 gowns.