Please check out your local MRC bias buster as we fan out to critique the new personnel moves in TV news. National Review Online was kind enough to offer me a little real estate today to argue that Katie Couric is just another Dan Rather: "But as different as her sparkly 'That Girl' personality is from Dan Rather's wizened weirdness, they have one thing in common: Truth is a malleable commodity, something to be stretched and smudged like Silly Putty on the Sunday funnies if the political cause is right."
Over at Human Events Online, MRC's Rich Noyes says the message to conservatives in the Couric and Vieira appointments is, well, tough luck, troglodytes: "CBS’s decision to name Katie Couric as Dan Rather’s permanent replacement on the 'CBS Evening News,' and NBC’s choice of daytime talk show host Meredith Vieira to replace Couric on 'Today,' both indicate a defiant attitude toward viewers fed up with the media elite’s insular liberal approach to covering political and social issues."
It should surprise no one that the Democrat won the fictional presidential race on "The West Wing," which is set to be cancelled. But the show's writers insist it has nothing to do with the fact that none of them is Republican.
Erik Sorenson, a former CBS and MSNBC news executive, foresees a “challenge” ahead for Meredith Vieira establishing her credibility on NBC's Today in the face of her anti-war activism and so she'll have to “modulate” her on-air pontificating. On Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Howard Kurtz, picking up on Vieira's anti-war comments as first noted on NewsBusters, asked Sorenson: “Meredith Vieira marched in an anti-war demonstration a couple years ago, and she said on The View that the war was 'built on lies.' Does that create a credibility problem for her when she's interviewing guests on the Today show about Iraq?" Sorenson, the President of MSNBC from 1999 through early 2004 and Executive Producer of the CBS Evening News from 1991 to 1995, responded in the affirmative: “I think it's going to be a challenge” since “she has been out there with her opinions. And that's not going to be considered appropriate on the Today show. And she will have to modify that and modulate that voice." (Transcript follows.)
Newsweek puts Katie Couric on the cover this week, and the cover story by Marc Peyser and Johnnie Roberts is easy, breezy, and totally free of any troublesome analysis of whether Couric is fair and balanced enough to attract non-liberal viewers. The most eye-opening line comes from former CBS reporter Marvin Kalb, responding to Andy Rooney's nobody's-happy-about-Katie rant on the Imus show:
"I remember when CBS hired [former game-show host] Mike Wallace and gave him the morning news," says Marvin Kalb, a former CBS correspondent who is now a senior fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center. "You should have heard the men's room conversation. My God, what have they done? They destroyed the Murrow tradition—all that. I think the negative spin on Katie Couric is unfair, and I think she is going to prove those people wrong. So take that, Andy Rooney, and screw you."
In my last post about outspoken and unbelievably liberal actor Alec Baldwin, I kindly asked him to e-mail me when he wrote anything at Huff-n-Puff. Sadly, he hasn’t yet heeded my request. Regardless, his post on Sunday, once again and true to form, did not disappoint.
Titled “DeLay Is the New Republican,” Baldwin chose to slay soon-to-be retiring Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Yet, his really juicy vitriol was directed at everybody he doesn’t agree with politically. (Readers are duly warned to fasten their seatbelts, for this is a bumpy ride!) He started with moderate Democrats that clearly offend his liberal sensibilities:
On this weekend's McLaughlin Group, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift -- referring the President Bush's September 2003 insistence, in the wake of the Valerie Plame controversy, that “I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information,” a technical accuracy since he had apparently declassified information released in order to counter claims made by Plame's husband, Joe Wilson -- charged: “President Clinton's manipulation of words did not set off a chain of events that took us into an unnecessary war and cost people's lives. It was a personal indiscretion of so much lesser magnitude than what we're dealing here.” Assessing Bush's credibility, she saw him as less credible than Wilson and accused Bush of having “lied” with the “consequence” of thousands being killed, “Wilson's credibility versus the President's credibility: I'd put my money on Wilson. This is a crystalizing piece of information that people can understand the storyline. The President lied, they see the video clips and they know the consequences of a war with over two thousand people dead.” (Partial transcripts follow.)
It’s certainly not often that a conservative can say this, but today’s editorial in the Washington Post entitled “A Good Leak” represents a bold and almost unprecedented demonstration of support for President George W. Bush by one of America’s leading liberal newspapers. Frankly, I had to check and double-check the web address while pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.
Yet, there it was: “PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do.”
President Bush was right?!? The public actually benefitted from something he did? When’s the last time a member of the antique media said that? Maybe more amazing, WaPo’s editorial staff, after making it clear that “There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual” about such a declassification, concluded: “As Mr. Fitzgerald pointed out at the time of Mr. Libby's indictment last fall, none of this is particularly relevant to the question of whether the grounds for war in Iraq were sound or bogus. It's unfortunate that those who seek to prove the latter would now claim that Mr. Bush did something wrong by releasing for public review some of the intelligence he used in making his most momentous decision.”
I imagine that most of you are likely double-checking that web address right about now. However, in between the first paragraph and this wonderful finale, WaPo also went after former ambassador Joe Wilson (emphasis mine):
Smart people know what's going on. I don't. Those experts on those TV shouting matches know exactly what's happening in regards to illegal immigration and aid to Hamas. I read the same reports that come out of Washington and instead of being enlightened I grow woozy from confusion.
Call me clueless. Be my guest.
As I've got it figured - well, wait a minute! Even the New York Times is confounded. One day the headline exults that Congress has paved the way for full citizenship for those 11 million illegals. Next day, it's just the opposite. Congress is bogged down. Here's the exact headline - IMMIGRATION DEAL FAILS IN SENATE VOTE.
If the paper of record can't figure it out, what do you want from me? Likewise, the people who run our country can't seem to figure anything out, either. Aren't they supposed to be of the people, for the people? The people, according to the stats, want a tight border, and don't want illegals hanging round. Legal, yes. Illegal, no.
Friday's enraptured major-media roll-out of a purported "Gospel of Judas," which claims that Judas was actually Christ's best buddy, betraying him only so he could slip out of his awful human body, drew harsh words from conservative bloggers. At The Volokh Conspiracy, media critic David Kopel whacked away (Hat tip: Instapundit):
This Friday's coverage of the so-called "Gospel of Judas" in much of the U.S. media was appallingly stupid. The Judas gospel is interesting in its own right, but the notion that it disproves, or casts into doubt, the traditional orthodox understanding of the betrayal of Jesus is preposterous...
Columnist and author George Weigel has a nice article on CBS's 60 Minutes and embryo-destroying stem cell research, which is mostly a list of the tough questions Lesley Stahl could have (but did not) ask the liberal advocate in the segment. He began:
The CBS news magazine 60 Minutes prides itself on asking the hard questions that other television news vehicles are too polite, or perhaps too afraid, to ask. That tough-minded approach to an important issue wasn't much in evidence, however, when 60 Minutes recently took on the question of whether "spare" embryos "left over" from in vitro fertilization procedures should be used for stem-cell research that would result in the embryos' death.
During the segment, Princeton's Robert P. George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, tried to explain certain basic moral facts to Leslie Stahl...[But] The editing of the segment strongly suggested that 60 Minutes preferred the approach of the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Arthur Caplan, an enthusiast for research that, as he put it, would destroy "embryos...that no one will ever use for any purpose whatsoever." That, of course, is the conventional wisdom in the bioethics guild, which frequently serves as a permission-slip factory for scientists and the biotech industry.
In a column appearing in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, Peter Perl, the paper's director of professional development, heaps scorn on Tom DeLay and in particular on his strong religious beliefs. The column approaches parody, so much does it seethe with secular, elitist condescension.
The headline sets the tone: "DeLay's Next Mission From God".
"DeLay may be leaving Congress, but he will be back with a vengeance [note choice of phrase], in a new and potentially more powerful role, because he is a ferociously determined man who believes he is on a politico-religious mission from God."
"DeLay's crusade [again note choice of term] will not be sidetracked by the acts of mortals such as states' attorneys, crooked lobbyists and disgraced former staffers who are poised to testify against him. In DeLay's world he answers only to a higher power, and his personal Armageddon has only just begun."
"He will artfully squeeze a load of money from the Christian Right as he makes his thunderous argument from multiple pulpits in the weeks and months ahead."
"The new Tom DeLay will combine aspects of the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and Lee Atwater, the late right-wing political consultant with the legendary killer instinct."
"Looking back, I see DeLay as a somewhat pathetic figure."
"What struck me as truly pathetic, though, was his shambles of a family life."
"We will see DeLay constantly smiling as he delivers his message because in his heart he knows that we hopeless sinners will always hate the messenger."
In keeping with the religion-themed nature of Perl's column, let's undertake a little exegesis of his parting shot at DeLay - that he will be "constantly smiling because . . . he knows that we hopeless sinners will always hate the messenger." If DeLay is a devout Christian - as is the gist of Perl's column - why would he believe that sinners are "hopeless"?
Here's a few more recent examples of impending "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira sounding liberal on ABC's "The View," courtesy of the MRC Cyber Alert archive:
June 9, 2005: Vieira insisted to Sean Hannity that Hillary’s no puppet of her husband, and whacks away at abstinence-only sex education: "Why does the federal government deny funding then in terms of [sex education] classes for kids if they don't preach anything other than abstinence?"
January 22, 2003: As "The View" crew ganged up on pro-life actress Jennifer O'Neill, Vieira argued: "But prior to abortion becoming legal that’s when things were really secret much more so than after it became legal, and very dangerous. So there is going to be abortion one way or the other."
Any faithful watcher of “The McLaughlin Group” knows that one of the most transparently biased members of the antique media over the past two decades has been Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift. Week in and week out, Eleanor rips apart every Republican on the political landscape while oozing nothing but adoration for those on the opposite side of the aisle even when they are found guilty of serious transgressions.
Clift’s op-ed posted at Newsweek’s website on Friday is a fine example. After somewhat misrepresenting the seriousness of the recent allegations that have emerged from Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby concerning unclassified information from a National Intelligence Estimate by President Bush, Clift went right into a stump speech: “The only way the American people can stop Bush’s imperial expansion of power short is to turn out in massive numbers to take back one or the other body of Congress from Republican control.”
When things got a bit contentious this morning between conservative Jim Pinkerton and liberal Ellen Ratner on Fox & Friends Weekend's 'Long & the Short of It' segment, Pinkerton proposed a peace plan that other warring parties might well wish to adopt: "let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
The bone of contention was just what what it was that President Bush declassified - some would say leaked - and that Scooter Libby is in turn alleged to have provided to the press - presumably in the person of Judy Miller of the NY Times.
Ratner: "This was a Nixon bad-list kind of trick [presumably a reference to Nixon's 'enemies' list] to get . . . "
Host Kiran Chetry [back from maternity leave - and beautiful as ever, I might add]: "Why?"
Two conservative writers have harshly criticized the instant reaction of bloggers and commentators to the propaganda tape that captors made kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll make in Iraq before she was released. In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby opined:
I have always believed that racing to report a story makes a lot more sense than racing to express a point of view about it. No doubt there are some sages who don't need time to reflect -- or to wait for more facts, or to see how a story turns out -- in order to generate some well-chosen words of genuine wisdom. My own experience is that insight and good judgment don't usually work that way. I find that thought and a bit of distance vastly improve the odds of coming up with something worth saying -- and that rushing to tell the world what to think of the latest headlines makes for shallow, half-baked, or unfair commentary.
Reminiscent of Al Franken on the Late Show last October, on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, actor Ben Affleck charged that President Bush “probably also leaked” Valerie Plame's name and so “if he did, you can be hung for that! That's treason!” In full rant, an apoplectic Affleck asserted: “You could be killed. That's not a joking around Tom DeLay 'I'll do a year, I bribed the state officials with corporate money.' That's like they shoot you in the battlefield for doing that.”
Affleck appeared on Maher's panel with Senator Joe Biden and Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner. A couple of minutes later, after Sammon suggested Tom DeLay's resignation means the loss of a “poster boy for the left” so they can't use him anymore to raise funds, Affleck besmirched DeLay as a “criminal” while simultaneously demonstrating his political naivete. Though the Texas redistricting orchestrated by DeLay made his district less Republican, Affleck contended: "Tom DeLay personally gerrymandered that district so severely that it looks like a map of Italy....There won't be a Democrat elected in that seat for a thousand years. You can't say he's the poster boy for the left. He happens to be an incredibly powerful Republican who is a criminal and now you blame Democrats for pointing it out!"
Video clip of Affleck talking about hanging and shooting Bush for treason (35 seconds). Real (1.1 MB) or Windows Media (1.25 MB), plus MP3 audio (200 KB).
Completely off-topic but since it's a weekend, here goes. It seems as though the "Star Wars kid," a roly-poly French Canadian boy whose awkward copying of a light saber fight made him into an ironic web celebrity, apparently wasn't happy with being made the object of fun. (Or was it that the petition to get him into the third SW prequel failed?)
In any case, Ghyslain Raza, now 18, reached a settlement with three former schoolmates who put out the video which has since spawned scads of derivative works. The deal, whose terms are not known, averted a lawsuit that was supposed to go to trial Monday. Canada's Globe and Mail has the story:
Lawyers for the three schoolmates had suffered a setback after they
were not allowed to introduce as evidence a transcript of a phone
conversation Mr. Raza had with a blogger, Jishnu Mukerji.
The blogger had posted a transcript of the exchange on the Internet.
Conducted a month after the video and parodies of it began
circulating, the conversation has Mr. Raza calling the spoofs
"interesting" but not expressing much distress. [...]
In the transcripts, Mr. Raza said the experience left him unable to attend school.
"It was simply unbearable, totally. It was impossible to attend class," Mr. Raza said.
Camille Paglia, the famed, feminist social critic that calls herself a Democrat, gave an interview to The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, recently (hat tip to Radio Equalizer) in which she attacked a wide array of American media icons. For instance, she stated that the writing of The New York Times was, “‘Upper middle class comfortable elitist liberalism.'"
She then blamed a lot of the left’s difficulties on Hollywood: “‘It's the reason my party, the Democratic Party, is in such bad shape. It's because of the insularity and the arrogance of those views.’"
What do you think about Al Franken, Camille? “‘Good lord! I want to fall asleep. Narcolepsy.’"
And the radio station that carries his swill? “‘It's even slower than NPR. Like a record being played at the wrong speed.’"
As for the perky "Today"...errr "CBS Evening News" host, Paglia isn't impressed:
A March 29 article published by the Free Market Project addressed the recent full-court press by the media to advance the concept that global warming is an imminent threat to our planet. From television reports, to lead articles at major magazines, March was a month filled with madness not just on the basketball court.
Yet, a recent Gallup poll reported by Editor & Publisher indicated that Americans aren’t buying into the insanity: “Contrary to what one might expect, Gallup found that while public concern is higher than in 2004, it is ‘no higher than it has been at several points in the past.’ In fact, Americans are more worried about water pollution, air pollution, and toxic waste than global warming.”
Do you mean that Americans are starting to ignore media propaganda? It appears so:
The Bush administration and all Americans got great news on the economic front Friday when the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 211,000 jobs were added in March while the unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, the lowest level in four-and-a-half years. Yet NBC didn't see a booming economy. “President Bush used the jobs numbers as a starting point for a new push to try to convince Americans that the economy is, in fact, on a roll,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted before adding a “but,” as in: "But as NBC News chief financial correspondent Anne Thompson tells us tonight, the economic picture is a bit more complicated." Thompson highlighted how “a new poll out today shows 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of the economy." After relaying how Bush blames Iraq for that, Thompson ran a soundbite from an economist who blamed slow wage growth before she recited her own litany: “Also dragging down attitudes, rising health care costs and gas prices. The nation has a negative savings rate, and household debt...is at record levels and could squeeze already strapped family budgets as interest rates continue to rise.” Thompson ended her piece with a quick look at a Massachusetts computer company which is hiring.
At least NBC gave its viewers the basic numbers of the day before trying to discount them. Friday's CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about the jobs/unemployment numbers, yet Bob Schieffer's show found time for a second night of coverage of how Bush “authorized leaking classified information” and for a piece on an orphanage in Kenya for elephants -- and that was even before two fluff “Assignment America” segments. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 25 seconds to the unemployment/jobs numbers as anchor Elizabeth Vargas pointed out the 31 consecutive months of job growth. (Transcript of NBC's story follows.)
Let’s see if I have this correct: According to Katie Couric, the future anchor of the CBS Evening News, a town with Catholic themed values is bad, but Al Jazeera is a "voice of reform?" The April 7 edition of NBC's Today featured Couric’s skewed take on a new English version of the network:
Couric: "Analysts claim that unlike most media in the Arab world, Al-Jazeera is a voice of reform, offering uncensored political dissent and debate."
Now, don’t forget, this is the network best known for carrying long videos of bin Laden and grisly images of murdered American soldiers.
During his final commentary segment, in which Geraldo Rivera praised the role of the Catholic Church in the immigration debate, the sometime boxer took a swing at CNN's Lou Dobbs.
"Now as Congress approaches a compromise that rejects the severe and mean-spirited sanctions advocated by people like the shrill CNN commentator Lou Dobbs, instead choosing a path to legalization for the 11 million the role of the Catholic Church has played will go far to restore its own tattered image..."
The following is Rivera's full commentary:
Geraldo Rivera: "Of all the hot button domestic issues currently igniting impassioned debate in our country the hottest of all is immigration. When that draconian legislation was proposed in Congress that would’ve made felons of the 11 million men, women and children living here illegally several dramatic things happened. First then most visibly hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets of cities all across the country to express outrage over the mean-spirited proposal. But of all the gathering forces on both sides of this incendiary issue none has been as potent or potentially influential as the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. The Church has boldly stepped forward to advocate for moderation, reason and compassion. This is Father Larry Dowling yesterday in suburban Chicago."
At 9:15am on CNN’s American Morning, senior political analyst Bill Schneider reported that President Bush declassified national security information in order to discredit a critic of the administration. In doing so, he promoted Democratic attacks against the President for being "hypocritical" in "leaking" information from the National Intelligence Estimate [NIE]. Schneider did acknowledge that it was legal for the President to declassify this information, but then took this shot at him:
Bill Schneider: "Well, the White House doesn't really want to get into a discussion of this issue. For one thing, it makes the President look a little, well, shall we say, hypocritical?...It was not a crime for the President to do that because, as the attorney in the White House said, anything he authorizes is instantly declassified. But it does make the President look a little foolish and deceptive, because this leak was authorized, again, according to Mr. Libby, to discredit a political critic of the administration. It was authorized for political reasons, and that’s a little bit embarrassing."
On Wednesday, NPR's "Fresh Air With Terry Gross," which airs on hundreds of NPR stations across America, interviewed long-time New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer on his new book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change From Hawaii To Iraq." To Kinzer, every American intervention is a nightmare, one he compared to child abuse:
These interventions abroad, these overthrows of foreign governments, not only plunge whole regions of the world into instability and turn them into places from which undreamed threats emerge years later, but they undermine American security. They are not just bad for the countries where we intervene. You cannot violently overthrow a foreign regime and then expect that that won't have any long-term effect. It's like beating your child every day. You cannot expect that that child is going to grow up normal.
As the Meredith Vieira incident shows us, network anchors and talk show hosts can display their biases off the air by where they go and speak...or march. At the tail end of "Hardball" Thursday night, MRC's Geoff Dickens found MSNBC host Chris Matthews promoted Rosie O'Donnell and her new HBO documentary on her gay-family cruises. But the real eye-opening part for media watchdogs was Matthews admitting he spoke at an event for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-left lobbying group, in Philadelphia. (Sure enough, here's a picture, with the Matthews mane in a frostier phase. And wow! See another media speaker, NPR "Fresh Air" hostess Terry Gross, whose show originates from Philly.) Matthews explained:
Today the New York Times finally corrects a left-wing myth perpetrated in its pages as fact.
“An article on Feb. 9 about the military's recruitment of Hispanics referred incompletely to the belief of some critics that Hispanics in the Iraq war and blacks in the Vietnam War accounted for a disproportionate number of casualties. Statistics do not support the belief. Hispanics, who are about 14 percent of the population, accounted for about 11 percent of the military deaths in Iraq through Dec. 3, 2005. About 12.5 percent of the military dead in Vietnam were African-Americans, who made up about 13.5 percent of the general population during the war years.”
But that milquetoast correction doesn’t hint at the charged nature of what reporter Lizette Alvarez wrote in the Feb. 9 edition, which simply restated left-wing paranoia as fact:
A Democratic member of Congress assaults a police officer, whips up racial animosity, and then is forced to retract the allegations. The newspaper article on that would surely be a painful read for the politician.
Unless the pol is Cynthia McKinney and the paper is The New York Times. The article – which the representative’s staff is surely framing right now – sets up the left-wing congresswoman as “a brilliant and gutsy crusader for the disenfranchised.”
USA Today omitted any reference to incoming Today host Meredith Vieira's anti-war activism in Peter Johnson's April 7 Life section article, even as a brief, indirect allusion to NewsBusters.org coverage of the controversy was included in an online filing posted the evening of April 6:
Conservative bloggers pounced on NBC's choice, saying Vieira has a long record on The View as an anti-war liberal. But Vieira said that on The View,
which she expects to leave in May, she was paid to express her
opinions. "There is nothing I have ever said that I am ashamed of," she
said, but on Today, her opinions "have no place. It's a different animal."