Somebody needs a hug. Asked by David Gregory on this morning's "Today" whether his dismal poll numbers would deter a presidential run, Kerry responded: "Not in the least. You know, most of those other people haven't had several hundred million dollars worth of negative framing against them."
Aw-w-w. Love Hillary or hate her, but I'd say that over the last 12 years a penny or two's worth of "negative framing" has been laid on her. Yet according to the poll NBC displayed she has a more than 3:1 lead over Kerry.
Kerry did offer a huge ray of hope, informing us that he's "sitting here in Damascus, trying to figure out how we're going to solve the problems of the Middle East."
President Bush submitted to a 25-minute interview Tuesday with the three Washington Post White House correspondents: Peter Baker, Michael Fletcher, and Michael Abramowitz. The transcript in today's Post leaves the definite impression it was another game of asking "when will you submit to the will of the Democrats, er, the people?" The tone of questioning suggests Bush is denying the reality that America is now in the capable hands of a MoveOn.org majority, and demands that he "listen" to their wish list, since his wishes are no longer viable:
Given the election results, is increasing the troop level in Iraq even a viable possibility or option?
I'm actually beginning to think something could be afoot at the New York Times. On Monday, one columnist extolled the virtues of that fount of Western civilization, Hellenism. Tuesday, another columnist claimed freedom and liberty are distinct creations of Western civilization. Today, the celebrated Thomas Friedman offers up a laundry list of generalizations about Arabs that - from the keyboard of a conservative - would normally merit a Times editorial rebuke for ethnic stereotyping.
WSJ's Opinion Journal has indulged in another round of the MSM's upturned nose to the lowly blogger, another cornucopia of contumelies, a mountain of maligning. We are all fools and imbeciles according to assistant editorial features editor, Joseph Rago in today's Op Ed, The Blog Mob.
Here's the wind up...
Blogs are very important these days. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has one. The invention of the Web log, we are told, is as transformative as Gutenberg's press, and has shoved journalism into a reformation, perhaps a revolution.
I feel a "but" coming!
And the pitch...
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.
A swing and a miss, Mr. Rago.
Few bloggers, Mr. assistant editorial features editor, imagine themselves to be anything like investigative journalists... few even consider themselves journalists at all. A small number may have taken steps into that field, but most bloggers who blog on culture, the news and politics are in it for opinion making. And, I'd lay odds that few would dispute such a claim.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared live on Tuesday's Hannity & Colmes on FNC to discuss Joy Behar's quip on Monday's The View, in reference to Time magazine punting on a Person of the Year, that “you have to put like a Hitler type. Like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something" (Links at bottom of this node to video). Sparring with Alan Colmes, Bozell declared: “I'm sick and tired of the left pontificating and giving me lectures about hate speech.” (Mark Steyn filled in for Sean Hannity with former ABC News reporter Bob Zelnick as the second guest.)
Bozell also recalled how, on last Thursday's edition of the ABC daytime show, Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson may have been a victim of conservative evil-doing. She proposed: "Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" Behar contended the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed: "I know what this, that party is capable of." For video of that December 14 exchange, check the MRC CyberAlert or this NewsBusters item.
Reminiscent of the high dudgeon Washington press corps reaction after a few hours passed before they were notified of Vice President Cheney's hunting accident, on Tuesday some reporters denounced the White House for failing to publicly announce how last month First Lady Laura Bush had a skin cancer growth removed from one of her legs. On FNC, Brit Hume played a montage from the daily briefing showing how journalists “demanded to know why they hadn't been told earlier." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, for instance, asked “how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?" And she challenged White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "Do you feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?"
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric framed the story not around the cancer but around how the White House didn't reveal it: "Laura Bush has been treated for skin cancer, and today she and others in the administration were defending her decision to try to keep that story out of the press.” CBS reporter Jim Axelrod at least noted the lack of threat to the First Lady's health: "In October, Mrs. Bush noticed a sore that wouldn't heal. A biopsy confirmed squamous cell carcinoma, among the most common and treatable skin cancers."
On this afternoon's Hardball, the old lawyer's adage rose up and bit Chris Matthews hard: never ask a witness a question to which you don't know the answer. Matthews's guest was retired Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro, Chairman of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. Matthews's substance and tone left no doubt that he wanted his questions as to the availability of sufficient troops to pacify Baghdad, and the advisability of using Guard and Reserve troops as part of such a "surge," answered in the negative.
Matthews: "Do we have the troops to dramatically increase our complement of troops in Iraq, sir?"
Punaro: "Absolutely. Between our active military and the number of troops we have in the Guard and Reserve, should the Commander-in-Chief, on the advice of the combatant commanders in the field and with the concurrence of the Congress make the decision that we want to increase the size of the force in Iraq, we certainly have the ability to surge those forces."
On December 18, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he’ll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush:
Jon Stewart: "Are you excited? Is it- Is it a whirlwind so far? Have you been on any bigger shows than this?"
Tom Vilsack: "No. This is it. This is the first show."
Stewart: "You're going to get crushed. [Cheers and applause ]Give me a sense of the Vilsack doctrine, if you would. What is– What do you feel like– You know, we've had a president who was the governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an a–[bleeped]." [Cheers and applause ]
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Curt at Flopping Aces notes that the Associated Press has quietly changed the copy of their November 28 response to questions about the "burning six" story. And the Google cached version apparently has been changed, as well.
The AP angrily rejected criticism of its story about six Sunni men being dragged from prayer and burned alive after CENTCOM, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and bloggers questioned the identity of "police captain Jamil Hussein," their chief source for the story. CENTCOM and the MOI say that no such person is listed as a police captain. Hussein had previously been quoted by the AP in more than sixty stories over the past two years.
...because you won't find it in Gigi Stone's December 18 "World News" story on teacher merit pay. (Or her write-up at ABCNews.com)
Stone, to her credit, did explain that teachers unions oppose merit pay for teachers because, well, they want more money for all teachers, regardless of how crappy a job they do. Okay, she didn't put it in those words exactly, but, let's face it, that's the reason teachers unions are against merit pay.
So why did Stone insist on presenting the vice-president of the Houston Federation of Teachers as merely a teacher who was concerned that the art of public school classroom instruction under incentive pay would devolve in a race to the bottom, an effort at merely "teaching to the test" or "drill and kill?
Playing into the stereotype of what conservatives think liberals are interested in, CNN reporter Stephanie Elam introduced a new study on pot by calling the drug "our friend marijuana." Elam, the guest business reporter on Tuesday’s "American Morning," discussed a report from the Marijuana Policy Project [MPP]. The pro-legalization group claims that pot is the most valuable cash crop in the United States, far exceeding corn, wheat, and other products. This information seemed to animate Elam and guest host John Roberts:
John Roberts: "Corn and soybeans have nothing on America's largest cash crop, and get this: you can't even buy it at your grocery store. Twenty-four minutes after the hour, Stephanie Elam is minding your business this morning. Morning to you."
Stephanie Elam: "Good morning. I wonder how many people are tuning in now."
Hollywood producer David Zucker has produced another uproariously hilarious video that has been posted at YouTube (must-see video available here, hat tip to NB reader "mattm"). In his most recent effort, Zucker lampoons the just-released Iraq Study Group report by comparing it to the failed attempt to appease Adolf Hitler with the 1938 Munich Accord.
Please bring your sense of humor, because Zucker makes a mockery of this study, its participants -- especially James Baker -- former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, and the madman in Iran.
Listening to the Stephanie Miller radio show today on the local Clear Channel "progressive talk" station, I found the trend to rely on comedians for left-wing talk radio entertainment continues. Miller's out, and the guest hostesses are comedian Elayne Boosler and comedy writer Merrill Markoe, still best known for her professional/personal relationship with David Letterman. Today, Boosler joked that Republicans "were so vile" that they were calling Sen. Tim Johnson a "bleeding-brain liberal." It fell so flat, even in the studio, that Boosler tried to point out that it was a joke.
Bloggers have pondered the term, but that was long before Senator Johnson's unfortunate illness.
Yesterday, this dynamic comedy duo was discussing Iraq, and Markoe claimed that Iraq was surrounded by Sunni Arab countries. Boosler weakly suggested "No, I think Iran is Shi'a," but Markoe insisted she was right, and they had to consult someone else to figure it out.
Jeff Martin sets up his defense of, again, printing the names of lawful concealed weapons permit holders by revisiting a previous time in which he did the exact same thing. He justifies it by noting that someone who went on to win a Puleftist prize was involved. He claims:
Every day, it seems, Jim or Jayne or I take a call from someone who wants something kept out of the newspaper. It's usually a name... Each time, we listen. Each time, we refuse...
Yet we try to print everything. Here's why: We print the names of people in the news because that's our business... That means we'll tell them not only what's happening at the city council and at Iowa State University, but also who is arrested, who is having babies, who is selling his house (and for how much), who has died (and of what cause). People expect that from us.
If we leave out just one name, just one fact, we have failed in our mission and damaged our credibility. That's why we printed those gun permits in Iowa. It's the kind of journalism that goes to the heart of the First Amendment.
First, let's get the reason behind this "news" out of the way: It's a way for those who are against the Second Amendment to know who to shun, who to refuse to hire, and who to refuse to do business with. It's a list that tells (stupid) burglars exactly which houses to break into if they want to be armed.
Well they don't exactly print "every name". His paper may print the names of breeders, but they don't print the names of people who terminate babies. Isn't that also news? They don't print the names of licensed doctors and nurses who perform abortions. They don't print the names of people who get sex changes or the doctors who perform them, and they don't print the names of people at Iowa State who are performing stem cell research (outside of government funding.)
Why not? Because journalists go after people they are opposed to, not people they agree with.
It's unanimous! Times Watch guest judges Stephen Spruiell, who runs National Review Online's Media Blog, and Times critic William McGowan, author of the upcoming book Gray Lady Down, both picked as his worst quote of the year one from New York Times PublisherArthur Sulzberger Jr. (The quote also earned Quote of the Year honors from Times Watch's parent organization, the Media Research Center.) Spruiell says it was the "sheer arrogance" of Sulzberger's speech that put the paper's publisher over the top.
Rather can't have it both ways. If he says FOX News gets White House talking points, he'd better be able to back it up. And so far, he can't, no matter how many interviews he does with CNN. Mr. Rather is welcome here to explain himself, but he should have done that already.
As he introduced Malkin, O’Reilly made his case even stronger:
Actor Sean Penn received an award Monday evening from the Creative Coalition, and took the opportunity to slam virtually every Republican whose name he's familiar with while calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Here are some of the more vitriolic segments of the prepared text as he accepted the first annual Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award (emphasis mine throughout):
Which is to say that, globally, the United States is number one at demanding accountability and backing up that demand with imprisonment. But, when it comes to our president, vice president, secretary of state, former secretary of defense...this insistence on accountability vanishes. All of a sudden, what's past is prologue. And we're just "forward-looking." But some people can't just look forward. Men and women stationed in Iraq at this moment, under orders of a Commander-in-Chief so sufficiently practiced in the art of deception, that he got vast numbers of American journalists and the most esteemed media outlets of this country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and PBS to eagerly serve his agenda-building for war. And the process also induced vast numbers of artists and performers (probably even some in this room tonight) to keep quiet and facilitate the push for an invasion in Iraq.
He's certainly come a long way from "Hey bud...let's party" hasn't he? Of course, on the flipside, someone should have cautioned the seemingly stoned recipient that people on drugs should not give speeches. Alas, Spicoli...er, I mean Penn was just getting warmed up:
Could multiculturalism be on its way out at the New York Times? Yesterday, one columnist extolled classically Western Hellenic values over those of historical Judaism. Today, another columnist flatly asserts that freedom is "a distinctive product of Western civilization."
In the subscription-required God's Gift, Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson criticizes the Bush administration for formulating its Iraq policy on the "erroneous assumption . . . that freedom is a natural part of the human condition."
Continued Patterson: "A basic flaw in the approach of the president and his neoliberal (a k a neoconservative) advisers was their failure to distinguish Western beliefs about freedom from those critical features of it that non-Western peoples were likely to embrace."
Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne attempts to redefine the "real America" as the new headquarters of liberal chic, and picks the fake-newscasters of Comedy Central as the trendiest of left-wing gunslingers:
When the right seemed headed to dominance in the early 1990s, the hot political media trend was talk radio and the star was Rush Limbaugh, a smart entrepreneur who spawned imitators around the country and all across the AM dial.
Now the chic medium is televised political comedy and the cool commentators are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Their brilliant ridicule of the Bush administration and conservative bloviators satisfies a political craving at least as great as the one Limbaugh once fed. Stewart and Colbert speak especially to young Americans who rely on their sensible take on the madness that surrounds us. The young helped drive their popularity, and the Droll Duo in turn shaped a new, anti-conservative skepticism.
As the religious holidays commence, people who preach tolerance worry that religious (or non-religious) minorities are left out. As Christmas approached and Hanukkah began on Friday night, National Public Radio’s "All Things Considered" devoted a story to atheists, but not just any story. It was a story about atheists who feel that ridicule and intolerance of religion is just what this country needs. The message was simple: atheists look forward to when "religious tolerance is no longer tolerated."
Co-anchor Robert Siegel began: "Atheism has never gained much of a foothold in the United States. Barely one percent of Americans describe themselves as atheists. Now, a small group on nonbelievers has a new approach to getting their message out, challenging the faithful with a fiery rhetorical blend of reason and ridicule, especially ridicule..."
The New York Times ran a small blog burst on Hillary Clinton after she made a "surprise visit" to Hunter College yesterday morning. The bloggy kiss up features a soggy picture of a somber looking Mrs. Clinton who appears to be transfixed in deep thought behind a lonely podium.
As if the staged picture isn’t stomach churning enough, the staff blogger breathlessly penned the following in describing the rock star's visit.
Several of the students clutched copies of the 10th anniversary edition, released last week, of Mrs. Clinton’s book “It Takes a Village.” Mrs. Clinton patiently obliged, signing the books – as well as a baseball, a statistics textbook and even scraps of looseleaf paper. She did not make any public comments about her political aspirations.
On Monday's Countdown, viewers were treated to a special retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on the Bush administration, featuring four of Olbermann's favorites. An announcer teased the show glorifying Olbermann while intermixing complimentary quotes from various media with clips of Olbermann reading his "Special Comments." The announcer read quotes calling Olbermann "hot," "charismatic," "witty," and "a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Jon Stewart." The announcer further labeled the featured rants as "Keith's most passionate, most honest, most compelling 'Special Comments.'" (Transcript follows)
Chris Matthews’ interview with actor Matt Damon, which was recorded last week, was aired on Monday’s “Hardball”. Apart from what was reported here Saturday, Damon also made some disparaging remarks about Dick Cheney (video available here), while Matthews addressed what it would be like to waterboard the Vice President...I kid you not.
Conceivably the most amazing part about this interview was the whole idea that Chris Matthews was actually discussing the war in Iraq with an actor as if Damon was some kind of expert on geopolitics. For instance, after Damon suggested that the entire war was a “PR battle,” Matthews asked the audience if they agreed. This met with great applause. When it died down, Damon said: “There’s no other reason to rush that fast to war unless you know you don’t have it. They didn’t have it.”
Matthews followed this up as if he was questioning Colin Powell:
In his "Best of the Web Today" column on Opinion Journal, James Taranto noticed the New York Times recently reported a story on the eagerness in Iraq to see Saddam Hussein executed, but reporter Kirk Semple's piece transmitted that all-too-familiar tendency to identify with the convicts, and not the ones they caused to suffer:
From a New York Times story on Iraqi execution methods, set to be used on convicted murderer Saddam Hussein:
The victims are led up a set of steel stairs to a platform, about 15 feet above the ground, and nooses fashioned from one-and-a-quarter-inch-thick hemp ropes are slipped over their necks. The executioners are different each time, drawn from among employees of the Justice Ministry who volunteer for the job. Many have lost relatives or friends in insurgent attacks, officials said.
Most NBers are likely aware that Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly just got back from a tour of Iraq. On Monday’s “Factor,” he played a video montage of his trip. This needs no transcript or intro, for the pictures and words of the soldiers ably speak for themselves (must-see video available here courtesy of our friend at Ms Underestimated).
As you watch, pay particular attention to how the soldiers who were interviewed don’t vaguely represent the gross caricature of the military presented by folks like Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), or actor Matt Damon. And, see if these folks agree with the media contention that Iraq is a quagmire needing to be retreated from as quickly as possible.
The New York Times' "Immigrants' Families Figuring Out What to Do After Federal Raids" clearly sees illegal immigrants as sympathetic victims, putting the wet-eyed focus not on the criminal acts that resulted in the raids by immigration authorities, but how the raids have made immigrants afraid to venture out in public.
Julie Preston's Saturday story is set off with a four-day-old AP photo of a weeping mother who "held her 3-month-old son on Tuesday as her husband was held at a Swift meat plant in Greeley, Colo."
In the midst of all the civil war, quagmire, cataclysmic, doom and gloom reports about Iraq comes a shocking story from an even more shocking source. According to Newsweek, Iraq’s economy is booming (hat tip to Drudge, emphasis mine throughout):
Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.
Amazed? Shocked? Sound like those who claim that only the negative side of the story is reaching our shores? Well, there’s more: