The Times leads Wednesday with Elisabeth Bumiller’s take on Bush’s lively White House press conference, which the Times headlines “Bush Concedes Iraq War Erodes Political Status.”
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq was eroding his political capital, his starkest admission yet about the costs of the conflict to his presidency, and suggested that American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009. In a quick remark at a White House news conference about the reserves of political strength he earned in his 2004 re-election victory -- ‘I'd say I'm spending that capital on the war’ -- Mr. Bush in effect acknowledged that until he could convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the United States was winning the war, Iraq would overshadow everything he did.”
A U.S. News and World Report article identified a lawsuit filed by the publishers of the Oregonian in Portland for the unsealing of documents in a pending case involving the National Security Agency and terrorist surveillance: “In a motion filed Friday, lawyers for the Oregonian Publishing Co. argued that it is in the public interest to know the contents of documents that could prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program.”
The Oregonian has no pony in this race. Instead, it is clearly muckraking without regard to how it might impact national security and the war on terror:
“‘This appears to be the first case in which documents have been filed with the court demonstrating the National Security Agency's practice of wiretapping private conversations,’ said Charles F. Hinkle, a lawyer for the publishing company. ‘We are not interested in the content of the attorney-client communications. We are interested in what the government did.’"
The case in question involves allegations by the federal government that an Oregon-based Islamic charity has ties to al Qaeda and is funding them. Apparently, one of the charity’s directors gave $130,000 in travelers checks to Chechen rebels in March 2000. The charity’s funds were frozen in February 2004 by the federal government , and the charity was designated as terrorists in September 2004.
Regardless, the Oregonian believes it's acting for the public good:
Stung by allegations levelled by Laura Ingraham yesterday, NBC has admitted that its Iraqi coverage is inaccurate because it's . . . not negative enough.
Ingraham clearly hit an MSM sore spot with the charges she made during her appearance on yesterday's Today show, in which she locked horns with David Gregory and James Carville. Read Laura in the Lions Den.
Ingraham accused most American media of covering Iraq from their balconies in the Green Zone, confining their reports largely to IEDs and killings and missing the more positive stories that abound across the country.
On this morning's Today show, a defensive NBC asked whether it is doing a good job reporting on Iraq, and - surprise! - the Peacock Network assured itself and its viewers that indeed it is. If anything, Today told us, the situation in Iraq is even worse than the MSM portray it. You might say NBC's position is that its coverage is not negative enough.
Washington Post reporter Thomas B. Edsall hits the front page today with a story headlined "Grants Flow to Bush Allies On Social Issues." Edsall reports that a bevy of tiny crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence groups have seen their budgets double and triple through federal grants from groups established as part of President Bush's faith-based initiatives.
Edsall briefly refers to the left in his opening: "For years, conservatives have complained about what they saw as the liberal tilt of federal grant money." What they saw as liberal? And yet, Edsall can't use the C-word enough in this story, about 13 times. It was especially overdone in this late passage:
John Winn Miller, publisher of The Olympian, is angry at conservative columnist Cal Thomas for saying that there should be "more conservative reporters and editors" to avoid a "consistently liberal point of view" in news reporting. (Thomas is a panelist on Fox News Watch.)
How mad is Miller?
Cal Thomas, you’ve made me mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.
I’m tired of hearing radical columnists like you besmirch the good men and women who struggle daily to put out the very best newspaper they can.
On his Monday March 20 Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann disputed President Bush's recent contention that he had never claimed "that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein" by citing one awkward quote from the President, which stood in contrast to other public statements that more clearly communicated the point about the 9/11 attacks being a lesson that inspired a confrontation of Iraq, rather than Iraq actually being involved in the attacks. Olbermann rhetorically posed the question: "Who does the President think he's 'f'-ing kidding?" On the Tuesday March 21 show, Olbermann added that "any six-year-old would have recognized that his administration had deliberately left exactly that impression." Guest Craig Crawford labeled Bush's recent comments as "presidential prevarication" and compared it to Bill Clinton saying, "Depends on what the definition of 'is' is." Notably, as recounted by CyberAlert, the Countdown host once before used selectively edited statements by Dick Cheney to make it appear the Vice President had claimed a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, while omitting more of Cheney's words which clarified his meaning. (Transcripts follow.)
The TV Newser at Media Bistro reported earlier today (hat tip to Drudge) that the Gallup organization is dropping CNN as a partner citing declining viewer rates as the reason.
According to TV Newser:
“In a memo dated Wednesday, March 15, CEO Jim Clifton wrote: ‘We have chosen not to renew our contract with CNN. We have had a great relationship with CNN, but it is not the right alignment for our future.’
"'CNN has far fewer viewers than it did in the past, and we feel that our brand was getting lost and diluted,' Clifton continued. '...We have only about 200,000 viewers during our CNN segments.'"
Apparently, CNN is disputing this, saying that Gallup’s decision had nothing to do with the network’s declining ratings. However, Drudge has gotten an exclusive copy of the actual memo from Clifton. Here is another one of the reasons Clifton listed in his memo for this decision:
Following up on Brent Baker's report on the network coverage of Helen Thomas' exchange with President Bush during this morning's presidential press conference, it should be noted that during the 5pm hour of today's The Situation Room, the former UPI White House bureau chief sat down for an interview with anchor Wolf Blitzer. Thomas admitted that she "sort of" apologized to President Bush for her condemnation of him as "the worst president ever." However, it didn't take long for Thomas to resume her attacks on the Bush administration, which she slammed for "encouraging all of the horror that's going on" in Iraq. Thomas also placed the blame for the deaths of innocent civilians not on the terrorists, but on the United States.
Helen Thomas: "In this case, in the case of the President and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East. They have really encouraged all of the horror that's going on. We have killed so many innocent people.."
Unlike ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News Tonight and Kelly O'Donnell on the NBC Nightly News, on the CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod featured the far-left question from Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas at Tuesday morning's presidential press conference. Thomas blamed Bush for deaths and charged that he employed subterfuge to launch a war: "Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war?" Axelrod set up Thomas by pointing out how Bush “did something he hadn't done in three years: Call on the often combative dean of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas." While O'Donnell and Stephanopoulos didn't air the question from Thomas, they did run a soundbite of part of Bush's answer to her. Axelrod also showcased his question to Bush, one based on the questionable premise that someone who shows up outside a hotel where the President is to speak is anything but a motivated antagonist: "I spent a fair amount of time in front of that hotel in Cleveland yesterday talking to people about the war, and one woman who said she voted for you said, 'You know what? He's losing me, he's been there too long, he's losing me.' What do you say to her?" (Transcript follows.)
The CNN Headline News show "Showbiz Tonight" led Monday night with controversy over the movie "V for Vendetta," and stomped hard on the idea that it was directed at the Bush administration. Host A. J. Hammer began with a promo: "On ‘Showbiz Tonight,’ the war in Iraq, the war on terror and the hottest movie in America. The shock and awe over 'V for Vendetta.' And the controversy. Is art imitating life? A political thriller where the hero is a terrorist. Is that really such a bad thing?"
Is this a rhetorical question? Or is Hammer auditioning for al-Jazeera International?
MRC's Michelle Humphrey tipped me off to the story. Hammer explained: "All right, let me tell you what happened this weekend. America had a big choice of movies. Here's the one they made No. 1: 'V for Vendetta.' This is a movie all about terrorism. This is a movie that raises some serious and unsettling questions about who should really be called a terrorist. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. A movie that has chilling allusions to everything from September 11 to government spying to terror bombings to the war in the Iraq. It`s a movie that opened just as we crossed yet another disturbing milestone in the struggle to end the seemingly unending war in Iraq. It`s enough to make critics and Showbiz Tonight ask, what's going on here?"
Venture Capital Money Is Flowing Like Water.... In Silicon Valley, and Entrepreneurs Aren't Even Asking for It! It will be interesting to see whether news of this outpouring of venture money, which as you will see is truly remarkable, gets out of the financial pages in The So-Called Mainstream Media.
Remember the gloom and doom several years ago as punditeers said that Silicon Valley would never be the same again?
Somebody forgot to tell the investing community.
A free article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal says that unsolicited venture dollars are flowing into Silicon Valley start-ups -- Even if you've known that the economy is in pretty good shape, you'll be shaking your head in near-disbelief as you read this:
Another episode of ABC's prime time drama Boston Legal will air tonight (Tuesday). Last week's episode featured a plot line with over-the-top lawyer "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, delivering a five-minute-long closing argument, in defense of a woman who wouldn't pay income taxes, railing against the war on terrorism. Earlier, explaining to Shore her reasoning, the woman, "Melissa Hughes," cited how her grandfather, who fought in World War I, would be "embarrassed" by "what's happening today." She listed "us torturing people, spying on our own people, squashing everybody's civil liberties. My grandfather would weep." To which Shore got in an obvious slap at FNC: "You need to change the channel. The awful things you speak of never happen on the 'fair and balanced' newscasts."
In his closing, Shore cited a litany of misdeeds, including: "When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up....And, now it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens -- you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, FINALLY, the American people will have had enough. Evidently, we haven't." Shore soon compared the current climate to that of the McCarthy era, recalling what he read in a book by Adlai Stevenson: "Too often, sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, 'are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.' Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism."
Video excerpt #1, “Shore” listing misdeeds (1:25): Real (2.5 MB) or Windows Media (2.9 MB)
Video excerpt #2, “Shore” making McCarthy era comparison (1:15): Real (2.2 MB) or Windows Media (2.5 MB)
As expected Chris Matthews marked the anniversary of the Iraq War on last night's Hardball in typical negative tones he lets his kids indulge in Che Chic. Responding to a guest explaining kids in the Middle East wearing Bin Laden shirts were making an anti-authoritarian statement akin to the way American kids wear Che Guervara shirts, Matthews disagreed it was simliar and admitted: "I mean, a lot of our kids wear them. I see kids wearing them all the time, I think my kids wear them. It’s like a Robert Marley T-shirt at this point." The following is the full exchange between Matthews and Kristinn Taylor of FreeRepublic.com:
Kristinn Taylor: "But you know, the poll that matters is the poll in the streets. And if you remember, there have been all these predictions of, you know, great uprisings in the Arab street if we went into Iraq. Three years ago, the Arab street is still pretty calm."
During the recent controversy surrounding Dan Froomkin's blog at The Washington Post, editors not only decided to clearly label his column "opinion" but also to make an effort to hire a conservative blogger to balance his alleged liberal slant.
Today, the Post launched the result: A new blog called "Red America," created by Ben Domenech, co-founder of RedState, a popular community blog.
Toppling Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime and bringing the brutal dictator before a court of law is unquestionably a major achievement of the U.S. and our allies. But TV coverage has minimized the historic significance of this case. Instead, the network’s Iraq news has been a depressingly dour drumbeat of terrorist attacks, U.S. casualties and dark warnings that Iraq is on the verge of ‘civil war.’
Not even Saddam's trial for crimes against humanity has encouraged TV to take more than a cursory look at the ex-dictator's horrifying record. Our analysts here at the MRC have just reviewed every mention of the trial on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news from October 16 (when the networks began previewing the trial) through March 15 (when Saddam himself took the stand).
“Some diplomats suggest that if Hamas supports a moribund 2002 Saudi peace initiative, it will somehow ‘recognize’ Israel without having to say so; some suggest that a Hamas offer of another cease-fire may be enough to ‘forswear violence.’ But so far, Hamas is not playing along. It sees the agreements with Israel as a honey trap and recognition of Israel as impossible. In the meantime, Hamas is working on the heartstrings and sense of justice of the West, to keep aid flowing. Hamas's victory also signaled the death of the ‘peace process’ as it has been practiced.”
Hard as it may be to believe, polygamy is now a "civil rights" issue. That is, if you believe the Today show and HBO’s "Big Love." Just last week, NBC featured a sympathetic look at a man who wants women to have the right to go topless in public. Today has now focused on multiple spouses. The March 19 segment, airing at 8:33AM EST, profiled a man who is married with two wives. After being told that three adults (NBC hid their identity) sleep in the same bed, NBC's Lester Holt blurted out, "See, automatically my mind goes to, then, to sexual fantasies." The co-host later noted that with "the growing political acceptance of same sex unions, polygamy activists are emerging." He hopefully noted that some are "calling it the next civil rights battle and the battle lines are being drawn."
Holt began by promoting the new HBO polygamy themed series, "Big Love." He mentioned that the show has "raised the profile and fascination with these extended marriages." The non judgmental attitude continued as a polygamist, who is identified as "Jacob," (not his real name) was given free range to promote his lifestyle:
As millions of college students enjoy spring break, a respected employment firm gave them an early graduation gift: a report showing that the class of 2006 faces the best labor market in five years. But while the media frequently relay reports from Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, the new report has largely been ignored in the media.
Reuters news wire reported on March 20:
In its annual outlook of entry-level jobs, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said strong job growth and falling unemployment makes this spring the hottest job market for America's 1.4 million college graduates since the dot-com collapse in 2001.
The firm pointed to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers which showed employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new college graduates than a year ago.
I will always have a soft spot for NBC reporter Michelle Kosinski. After all, it was Michelle's Canoe-Gate stunt that got my NewsBusters career off to a nice start. Michelle was back on the weather beat on this morning's Today show. And once again she made a weather-related allegation that strained credulity.
As we know, in MSM-land all extreme weather events from the very hot to the very cold are somehow the result of global warming. Michelle's topic this morning was the record-breaking cold and heavy snows that have swept the nation's mid-section. She reported from a very cold and snowy Springfield, Illinois [snow in Springfield on the first full day of spring - haha, we get it]. But somehow, Michelle managed to parlay this unusually cold and wintry weather into the threat of . . . increased hurricane activity, which of course is the result of unusually warm weather in the tropics.
Was it David Gregory, or an SNL parody of a biased liberal MSMer? The topic on this morning's Today show was whether media coverage of Iraq has presented a distorted picture. Under the circumstances, you might have thought Gregory would have feigned some facsimile of fairness. But his very first question to James Carville advanced the theory that . . . President Bush is a liar.
Asked Gregory: "Is the problem for this president and top administration officials that the public doesn't believe what they say anymore?"
Like a top point guard, Laura Ingraham tenaciously fought through the Gregory-Carville double-team to make her case. She pointed out that NBC and the Today show expended huge resources to cover the Olympics and even to answer the question "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" She suggested that they devote some of the same resources to broadcast the Today show directly from Iraq, that they accompany troops, speak with US and Iraqi military personnel and with villagers and see the reality on the ground.
Today’s “Bush Concedes Setbacks” piece in the NYT by Elisabeth Bumiller contains questionable passages that give her “angle” away.
Here is a slice seemingly right off the editorial page:
“Over all, Mr. Bush's speech was a positive message that conceded some of the setbacks on the ground, a formulation meant to portray the president as not living in a fantasy world about the three-year-long war.”
And all of us out here in American sincerely believe that President Bush actually does float around in a fantasy land regarding his understanding of the war. None of us have access to any other information regarding the status or unfolding of the war effort, save what the New York Times chooses to report, so it is helpful to have this characterization opined at us.
Washington Post magazine-beat writer Peter Carlson writes an admiring profile of Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham in the Style section today, headlined "Lewis Lapham Lights Up," as Lapham prepares to step down as Harper's editor. The man is a raving leftist, and while Carlson notes his cover story in the March issue is "The Case for Impeachment," he never quite locates Lapham on the far left. He merely lets friend Tom Wolfe call him "left-leaning."
Carlson also claims Lapham is an equal-opportunity offender, that he has "skewered every president since Nixon. He is a world-class curmudgeon." But Lapham has predictably hated conservatives more. Lapham's biggest media moment may have been his 1989 PBS series "America's Century," in which he sulfurously condemned Ronald Reagan as someone who could be relied on to "defend the sanctity of myth against the heresy of fact."
The United American Committee is planning a permanent protest, starting on April 30, of the new Al-Jazeera news network planned for the U.S. and English speakers worldwide. Called Al-Jazeera International, it will feature mostly British and American former MSMers. The group calls Al-Jazeera's American plans "Jazeeragate," and wants the demonstration at the studio to "continue daily indefinitely."
Al-Jazeera, the television network that many call the propaganda wing of the radical Islamist movement in the world, is scheduled shortly to launch their network in English aimed at Americans with their new studios being in Washington DC. The United American Committee objects to the establishment of the network in America; "It's as if Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minster for Hitler, were to have set up a station in America during WWII." says Lee Kaplan, member of the UAC executive committee. Al-Jazeera plans on launching their 24 hour 7 day a week channel in America this spring. In response, the UAC is calling for a 24 hour 7 day a week protest in front of the Al-Jazeera studios to begin Sunday April 30th and continue daily indefinitely. The new studio of Al-Jazeera America is located at 1627 K St. NW, Suite #200, Washington, DC 20006.
The group explains why it doesn't like Al-Jazeera.
In October 2002, North Korea publicly admitted to having a nuclear weapons program (see here and here). This was a clear violation of the 1994 agreement it made under the Clinton administration not to seek to build nuclear weapons. (By the way, there may be evidence that President Clinton knew as President that North Korea was breaking its promise [see this]).
Asked to provide an assessment of life is for ordinary Iraqis on the third anniversary of the start of the war, on Monday's ABC's World News Tonight and NBC Nightly News, Dan Harris and Richard Engel provided different pictures. ABC's Harris conveyed more bad than good, but acknowledged some hope expressed by an Iraqi family. NBC's Engel, however, stuck exclusively to the negative. “Iraqis today show a range of complex, competing emotions,” Harris relayed as he profiled a family in which “the question of whether Iraq is better off three years later provokes debate” with the 15-year-old daughter pleased that “toppling the regime made Iraq free.” After relating how a man in a long gas line maintained such a line “never would have happened under Saddam,” Harris pressed him: “Would you really rather have Saddam back, or long gas lines? 'We don't want Saddam. But we need a better economy and more security.'” Harris concluded with how the family expresses “the same, seemingly contradictory emotions, so common in Iraq today. They sometimes miss the days of Saddam, but don't want him back. They want the Americans to get out, but just not yet.”
A more dire Engel began with how “since the U.S. invasion, there has not been a single day without mortar fire, car bombings, or IED attacks. This is not the world Afrah wanted to bring her daughter into.” Engel highlighted how callers to a radio show “complain about kidnapings, police death squads and murders between Sunnis and Shiites." He concluded with how one man told him that “when he leaves his house in the morning...he tells his family he might not see them again." Engel proceeded to tell anchor Campbell Brown about how “my closest Iraqi friend” thinks “his country is now lost." (Transcripts follow.)
To paraphrase that famous George Santayana phrase, perhaps political reporters who highlight liberal efforts to embarrass the President on Friday are destined to find those same moves inadequate on Monday. Having awarded liberal Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold with the "political play of the week" for his motion to censure President Bush on the March 17 The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider during today’s 4pm hour wondered why the senator isn’t proposing impeachment.
Bill Schneider: "Wolf, the philosopher George Santayana wrote those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But sometimes that happens with those who remember the past all too well. Senator Russ Feingold’s motion to censure President Bush raises a question. If he believes the President broke the law, why isn’t the senator proposing impeachment?"
Schneider then highlighted four panels from the March 19 Doonesbury, Gary Trudeau’s left-wing cartoon strip:
With all the criticism heaped upon it by bloggers, including NewsBusters' very own Clay Waters, the New York Times has finally decided to do a story about bias..... That is, bias by Amazon.com.
Amazon.com last week modified its search engine after an abortion rights organization complained that search results appeared skewed toward anti-abortion books.
It turns out that one of Amazon's helpful search hints is biased in favor of the pro-life position.
Until a few days ago, a search of Amazon's catalog of books using the word "abortion" turned up pages with the question, "Did you mean adoption?" at the top, followed by a list of books related to abortion.
Amazon removed that question from the search results page after it received a complaint from a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a national organization based in Washington.
Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, and while progress has been made, CBS’s the "Early Show" attempted to paint as bleak a picture as possible when discussing the war. In total, there were four stories regarding the Iraq war on this morning’s broadcast.
The first such story was a piece by CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Substitute co-host Russ Mitchell introduced the piece:
Russ Mitchell: "Despite escalating violence, President Bush insists the administration’s Iraq policy is working."
Bill Plante followed with a bleak assessment:
Bill Plante: "Well three years into the Iraq war with casualties mounting and no end in sight, the President and Vice President both see reason for optimism and they say there’s progress."
Greg Sheffield mentioned earlier the wacky al Jazeera-Fox comparisons in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. I would only add in that Gail Shister report, former ABC reporter Dave Marash is coming out swinging again in defense of his new employers, Al-Jazeera, against those "hysterical" Americans who aren't fond of Arab propaganda channels:
Marash says he expected a backlash when he was hired. When it comes to the Arab world, Americans display an "anxiety and suspicion that sometimes rises to the hysterical level."
Note: Marash was talking on a speakerphone in Washington, with AJI publicist Jazayerli in the room. Network policy, she said.