Today’s Washington Post provided an ideal example of news priorities in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz’s piece on the resignation of Ben Domenech, “Post.com Blogger Quits Amid Furor,” earned a spot on the front page of the Style section. However, the Post’s own story about a former member of the Maryland Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleading guilty to dirty political tricks was buried inside the Metro section. (For the record, since the Post changes story locations in its editions, those page numbers were confirmed from the Post’s own Web site.)
For those of you that missed it, Mark Steyn – one of the finest geopolitical writers on the current landscape – was Hugh Hewitt’s radio guest on Thursday (hat tips to Radio Blogger and Real Clear Politics with audio link to follow). The main topic of discussion was – you guessed it – mainstream media bias towards the war in Iraq. One of the best moments was when Steyn went after one of the most prominent media darlings:
“Tim Russert said today, he defended NBC, the media's Iraq coverage, by saying we capture reality. Yeah, they capture reality in the same sense that those insurgent guys capture people. They saw its head off and shout Allah Akhbar at reality. That's what they're doing when they capture reality. The reality of what's happening in Iraq is very different from what Tim Russert thinks it is.”
Steyn stated the main problem with the press coverage from the Middle East is the “herd think” mentality that emanates when these representatives all get together at bars and social gatherings to, intentionally or not, develop a consensus view:
Saturday's Washington Post front page featured the Michael Powell story, "Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder." The article begins by noting that three of the ten Massachusetts congressmen have called for an investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.
It then reports that four Vermont villages have, at town meetings, voted to impeach the president. The piece asserts that it's too early to anticipate the Bush presidency being toppled, "But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation..."
Then mentioned is last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors urging impeachment. Moreover, the state Democratic parties New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin have done the same thing.
It's not surprising Andrea Mitchell found the best angle on the Abdul Rahman case was the another-problem-for-Bush angle. (Isn't that always their favorite angle?) My friend Cam Edwards trekked to the Afghan embassy protest, and reports the NBC producer on the scene was there, and intensely interested in getting anti-Bush soundbites:
Media turnout was good. There were, by my count, four television cameras there, including one from NBC Nightly News. The producer for Andrea Mitchell, a guy named Carl, kept asking question after question designed to elicit a critical response towards President Bush. Finally I had to say something.
So I said this isn’t a conservative vs. liberal issue, or even a Christian vs. Muslim issue. It’s a human rights issue. And I said if the media ignores the reality of Abdul Rahman being put to death because of his religious beliefs because they’d rather portray this as “Conservatives angry at the President”, then they’re falling down on the job.
Where is the liberal moral outrage? Oh, to be sure, the left is making its political points in the wake of the case in which a man is facing the death penalty in Aghanistan for having converted from Islam to Christianity. Story here. Administration critics have been quick to question the value of Pres. Bush's efforts in bringing democracy to the Muslim world if situations such as this one are the outcome.
But in reporting the matter on this morning's Today, NBC's Andrea Mitchell cast domestic protest of the matter strictly in terms of moral outrage on the part of the "Christian right".
In a little half-hour online chat Friday at Washingtonpost.com, WashPost columnist/reporter David Broder complained about the "fiscal profligacy" of the federal government, but specifically against the Bush tax cuts. He sounded the familiar refrain that Americans should be having to "sacrifice" more for the war, even as his questioners pointed out tax cuts are popular.
Ontario, Calif.: David, A recent NBC poll disclosed that nearly 60 percent of the American people "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" support "making the President's tax cuts of the past few years permanent." Do you think that in the face of this much popular support, the Democrats will be able to stand on principle and display the political will and unity necessary to defeat this questionable plan?
Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on last Sunday's 60 Minutes, Maher charged that “cowboy” Bush “and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering” the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous “tipping point” will be reached. Maher then quipped: “This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard.” Yes, Hansen was “censored” -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories.
Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: “Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason.” Maher nefariously concluded: “We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract.” (Transcript follows.)
Chris Matthews was on “Imus in the Morning” Friday (hat tip to Crooks and Liars), and he went on quite a rant about the Bush administration (video link to follow). From suggesting that Helen Thomas was set up earlier in the week to intentionally be toyed with by President Bush, to alleging that Bush and Vice President Cheney both lied about Iraq having ties to al Qaeda in order to sell the war, Matthews was in rare form. Unfortunately, in his rant, Matthews made a number of false statements. For instance (rough transcript):
“Well I am just going to stick to this point that the president led us in there with the background music of American culture. Everybody was led to believe that we were getting payback, we were avenging what happened on 9/11 and that we are going to get them. Vice President Cheney said we are going to attack terrorism at its base. Over and over the language was, “this is where it came from.” In fact most recently the President suggested that it was always the hot pursuit, like a New York police chase, “we chased them back into their country.” “We pursued the terrorists back to Iraq” and it's all nonsense. The reason there are terrorists in Iraq today like Zarqawi is we created the opening by blowing the country apart.”
Well, that’s not actually true, is it Chris? It is widely accepted that Zarqawi moved to the northern section of Iraq in the summer of 2002 where he joined the Islamist Ansar al-Islam group. This was nine months before we invaded, Chris. However, after these material misstatements, Matthews then basically called the administration a bunch of liars:
For those of you that missed it, there was a fabulous exchange that occurred during a Pentagon press conference between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CNN’s Jamie McIntyre aired on “The Situation Room” Thursday (video link to follow). McIntyre was questioning Rumsfeld about recent claims of him being “embattled,” “incompetent,” and that he should step down.
Rumsfeld answered McIntyre with tongue firmly pressed against his cheek:
“You like to repeat all that stuff, don't you. On camera? (Turning to cameraman) Did you get that? Let's make sure you got it. He loves that stuff. It's a sure way to get on camera. He'll be on the evening news.”
McIntyre also referred to a recent op-ed by New York Times Diva of the Smart Set Maureen Dowd wherein she wrote that Rumsfeld is being treated at meetings like “an eccentric old uncle who is ignored.” Rumsfeld fired back, “If you believe everything you read in Maureen Dowd, you better get a life.”
What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz and Expose the Left.
Seemingly on every evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews enjoys chanting a mantra of allegedly failed Bush administration promises on Iraq. Chief among them is his taunt that the White House claimed that our troops would be greeted as liberators.
Just as it might be soothing to see someone silence an ostentatious Berkeley hippie endlessly iterating 'ummm', it was most satisfying to witness Christopher Hitchens on this evening's Hardball comprehensively refute Matthews on his claim.
Once again, Matthews launched into his leitmotif: Pres. Bush: "strikes out . . . on the fact that we were going to be treated as liberators."
For decades conservatives have charged that those in the media get their marching orders from liberal activists. Now, out in the open, Washington Post editors have proven that indeed they take orders from liberal activists, as they cave in to left-wing pressure to fire Ben Domenech as their first conservative blogger.
As Soviet Russia declared communism wouldn't work unless ALL countries of the world turned communist, liberals believe their principles can work only if they have a monopoly on all thought.
If the Washington Post is indeed concerned with balance, and not a monopoly of liberal thought, it will hire another conservative blogger-- one that liberal bloggers despise.
What's more likely to happen, though, is a "maverick" conservative along the lines of John McCain or Andrew Sullivan (who blogs for Time.com) will be chosen, as Post editors strive to abide by the rules of liberal orthodoxy while appearing balanced.
Washington Post.com conservative blogger Ben Domenech has resigned. Editor Jim Brady sounds more than deferential to the left-wing bloggers that swarm around his site like angry killer bees:
We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.
This is probably for the best, considering the plagiarism examples liberals unearthed against him. But I must confess to being bamboozled by the idea that the Center of All Media Influence is somehow the blogs pages on Washingtonpost.com, which seem a bit hard to dig up -- at least compared to where, say Time.com puts cartoonish Andrew Sullivan.
Over at Opinion Journal, James Taranto adds his two cents and research to the question of ABC executive producer John Green's e-rant against Bush making him sick for hitting a "mixed messages" talking point in the first presidential debate on September 30, 2004:
We went back and reviewed the debate transcript, and it turns out that Kerry was the first to talk of "mixed messages." Here are all the times the phrase appeared during the debate
Kerry: Jim, let me tell you exactly what I'll do. And there are a long list of thing. First of all, what kind of mixed message does it send when you have $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq, and the president is cutting the COPS program in America? . . .
Earlier this week, Media Bistro's TVNewser blog reported that Lucia Newman, who's reported from Latin America for CNN for twenty years and has run the network's Havana bureau since 1997, will become a Buenos Aires-based correspondent for Al-Jazeera's English-language channel.
The MRC has noticed a leftward slant in many of Newman's reports. The March 1990 issue of MediaWatch observed that, two days before an election that Nicaragua's Marxist dictator, Daniel Ortega, would go on to lose, Newman "burnished Ortega's reputation, reporting on February 23: 'The last time he went on the campaign trail, he looked like the serious and shy revolutionary that, according to friends, he's always been.' Newman found an old neighbor who told her how 'the Ortega boys had their father's patriotism in their blood.' Newman continued: 'No one has ever called Ortega charismatic, but his unquestionable dedication to his revolutionary principles, and enviable work capacity, has won him admiration of his friends and even some of his foes.'"
In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne's column is titled, "In Charge, Except When They're Not."
"Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?
The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.
'Obviously,' said the critic in chief, 'there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all."
"Yes," writes Dionne, "and if you can't do something about it, who can?"
The Associated Press Thursday evening reported that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff feels the U.S. would have been safer had the Dubai Ports World deal gone through: “The U.S. missed an opportunity to make its shores safer when it drove away a Dubai-based company poised to operate cargo terminals at several American seaports, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Chertoff said the international shipping firm DP World could have helped implement stronger security at many ports where the U.S. now has limited influence.”
This represents quite a flip-flop for the esteemed wire service that is felt to have started the whole controversy with its February 11 article which began: “A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.”
A "revelatory" article by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's New York Times article is laden with unanswered questions, assumptions and peculiarities.
Beginning with the lede, we get the “theme” of the article – the “erosion” of President Bush’s political capital.
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq waseroding 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.”
Have a look at the legend that 'Today' ran beneath the image of Pat Buchanan this morning. 'Republican' strategist? Really? Buchanan quit the Republican party in 1999 to run for president against George W. Bush as the candidate of the Reform Party. Go to Buchanan's official web site, The American Cause. The creed advanced there is Pat's particular brew of protectionism, isolationism and conservatism, with nary a reference to the Republican party.
So why, might you ask, would NBC engage in such false packaging? The answer is obvious: to gull viewers into thinking that it is presenting a fair balance of opinions.
The Drudge-revealed e-mail of ABC weekend executive producer John R. Green has not yet been put in context. It's dated September 30, 2004 and Green is saying "Are you watching this? Bush makes me sick. If he uses the 'mixed messages' line one more time, I'm going to puke."
September 30, 2004 was the night of the first presidential debate between Bush and Kerry. (That puts "Are you watching this?" in context.) Looking at the transcript, Green had plenty of occasions to get sick of Bush's message that Kerry couldn't decide on a position. First, this line early in the debate from Bush:
I had the honor of visiting with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong, courageous leader. He believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people. He doesn't want U.S. leadership, however, to send mixed signals, to not stand with the Iraqi people.
In a talk with the editor of the liberal Texas Monthly that airs on Texas PBS stations, former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite uncorked some more liberal opinions. In praising the CBS-boosting, Joseph McCarthy-trashing movie "Good Night and Good Luck," Cronkite liked how it reminded Americans that "one nut could endanger the democracy," was "locking up our democracy in a very dangerous way," and persecuting people who were "simply good Americans." When pressed to compare Vietnam and Iraq, Cronkite declared that the comparison was "almost exact."
On Thursday, the Poynter Institute’s Romenesko web site linked to an interview that Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith did with Cronkite for broadcast on Thursday night in thirteen TV markets. First, they discussed the danger of Sen. Joseph McCarthy to our democracy. It's a bit surprising that at this late date, with all the archival information we have now on the Soviet state and its espionage activities, Cronkite still can't acknowledge any Soviet spies in the United States in the 1950s, and how that was a danger to our democracy.
Reporters for rival networks of Fox News had unkind things to say about Dick Cheney's preference for Fox when staying at hotels.
MSNBC's "The Abrams Report":
"And he wants brewed decaf coffee and all the televisions must be tuned to the home team, Fox News. Horrors to think he might encounter other networks while flipping the channel himself on his way over... It's got me thinking I should make some demands of my own. From now on whenever I travel, I want a bottle of wine waiting, not just any wine, but fine wine. I want the TV tuned to MSNBC."
CNN reporter Carol Costello said on "American Morning":
"And, yes, all the TVs set to C -- no, to Fox News."
To which anchor Soledad O'Brien quipped, "Not really a shocker on that front."
Jack Cafferty on CNN's "The Situation Room" used his trademark "F-word network" putdown.
On his Countdown show Thursday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann devoted part of his "Worst Person in the World" segment to attacking former First Lady Barbara Bush over a donation she made to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a donation she required be used to buy education software for Houston schools from her son Neil's software company. Olbermann snapped that if you "make the charity give the donation to your son, it's not a damned donation anymore!" However, the Countdown host neglected to mention that the Bush family had also given other donations without any requirement as to how the money should be spent.
During his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, Olbermann normally chooses three nominees to be awarded the dishonor of that name. His three nominees are labeled as "Worse," "Worser," and "Worst." Citing the Houston Chronicle as a source, Olbermann tagged Barbara Bush with the label of "Worst" because of the earmarked donation that would require the buying of software from her son's company. However, the Countdown host failed to mention that the Houston Chroniclearticle also relayed, citing former President Bush's chief-of-staff Jean Becker, that the Bush family had given additional donations to the Katrina fund without any requirement as to how they should be spent: "Becker said she wasn't at liberty to divulge how much money the Bush family gave to the hurricane funds, but said the ‘rest of their donation was not earmarked for anything.'" (Transcript from Olbermann's show follows.)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged on Thursday night's Countdown that the e-mail, in which ABC News producer John Green complained that “Bush makes me sick,” was “leaked to the infamous, deplorable Matt Drudge” by a desperate White House. His evidence? “I'm not even going to put the 'if that came from the White House somehow' thing in there because the timing's too good.”
Olbermann proposed to Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank: “Does this not smack of desperation on the part of the White House, to let something like that leak out right now?" Olbermann had gone too far even for Milbank, who came to Drudge's defense: "I, first of all, am never going to call Matt Drudge deplorable. Every time he links to one of my stories, I get an extra 50,000 hits." On Green, Milbank indicted his colleagues as he called for condemnation of the ABCer: “We have to say it is unacceptable for a journalist to be doing this, in part because, look, you and I and other journalists go out all the time and say things critical of Bush, but this fellow, I don't know him, is obviously very personally invested.”
Count CNN’s Jack Cafferty among the growing number of reporters who have expressed disdain towards those who criticize the mainstream media. During his 4pm EST "Cafferty File" segment on Thursday's The Situation Room, Cafferty was all riled up to take on those who believe the MSM’s coverage of Iraq has failed to report on progress being made there:
"This is nonsense. It’s the media’s fault and the news isn’t good in Iraq. The news isn’t good in Iraq. There’s violence in Iraq. People are found dead every day in the streets of Baghdad. This didn’t turn out the way the politicians told us it would. And it’s our fault? I beg to differ."
There was some good news in Iraq this morning as 3 Christian hostages were rescued by a joint force consisting of American British and Iraqi troops. Surprisingly, CBS’s "The Early Show" led with this news.
In her report from Baghdad, CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan explained the "irony" of the rescue in that "the group, who are members of Christian peacemaker teams in Iraq, had signed a statement before their capture saying they reject the use of force to save lives." Yet, a statement released from the organization Christian Peacemaker Teams, which is not mentioned in Logan’s report, and to be fair, we are not sure it was available at the time of her report, blames the rescuers for the fact that the 3 members of their group were taken hostage to begin with:
Gayle Taylor – the woman at Wednesday’s town hall meeting in West Virginia who asked President Bush how to get more positive news stories out of Iraq – and her husband Kent – a military journalist just back from a year of first-hand coverage of the incursion – were on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees” Wednesday evening. They gave Cooper quite a lesson in how most media coverage of the Iraq war is extremely negative and unrepresentative of what is really going on there on a daily basis (hat tip to Expose the Left with video link to follow). Gayle started the segment off smartly:
“I felt it so important because it seems that every time we turn on the TV, we just see something negative. We see someone else who's been killed. We see another car bomb. We see something that I know is happening and needs to be reported, but I don't see that balance with all the good that's going on.”
Anderson asked her how she thought the media could accomplish such a balance. As you would imagine, Gayle had an answer:
On Wednesday, Good Morning America asked viewers to go online and vote on which Iraqi story they thought should lead the news. The results were revealed on Thursday’s GMA and as Diane Sawyer said after a segment by Dan Harris, "And we’ll be back to Dan a little bit later in this half hour. He has the news on what you voted about what you wanted to hear from Iraq and it’s a surprise."
What surprised Ms. Sawyer? GMA viewers agreed with President Bush that more positive stories should make the broadcast. At 7:08, Charlie Gibson introduced Dan Harris for his second story of the day, "This morning we want to return to the question that the President has been emphasizing and that we discussed yesterday morning on this broadcast. And the question is: whether the media is only showing negative news from Iraq?
National Review Online was kind enough today to publish a little piece I composed, titled "Role Reversal: David Gregory finds out what it's like to be Scott McClellan." It briefly chronicles how Laura Ingraham started a wave of defensive media coverage with her fiery soundbites in favor of the liberal media getting off the balcony if-it-bleeds-it-leads beat. Here are some additional notes I took as I was putting this together...
Reporters were shaking their heads at the thought that a few speeches by President Bush could undo their handiwork in lowering Americans’ approval of the war and its commander.
One particularly absurd sentence came out of ABC White House reporter Jessica Yellin: "Even the President’s aides acknowledge this speech on its own won’t reverse falling American support for a war that increasingly defines the Bush presidency." No one on Earth expects one daytime speech in Cleveland to completely reverse public opinion. But it was almost a taunting sentence: the White House must admit that they can’t turn around public opinion if the TV news crews oppose them tooth and nail.
This is a confidential message to my fellow mainstream media journalists. All other "civilians" are to stop reading this right now.
First, I thank my commrades for the negative spin put on recent news of nearly full employment for college graduates. ABC News did a fine job of including this graf in their copy:
"Even as demand and salaries rise, college students should not be lulled into thinking that the job search will be easy or that jobs will be handed to anyone with a degree," he warned.
Sure, everyone might have a job, but your life will never be easy under this oppresive Bush regime. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you; just because this Bush economy is running great doesn't mean you have to paint it that way.
Speaking of ABC News, we all know it's perfectly acceptable to talk among ourselves about how much we hate Bush and ways we can destroy him, but come'on John Green, you need to remember that it can't be sent over your blackberry! As long as those Nazi's control the NSA, they will send all of that stuff straight to Drudge!
On March 11, the Times fronted an interviewed with what it claimed was the infamous "hooded inmate" from Abu Ghraib prison. But Ali Shalal Qaissi, the man they interviewed and pictured on the front page, was not the man in the now-iconic photo, as the Times explained in the March 18 edition.
Donna Fenton, whose alleged struggles with the FEMA bureaucracy were the subject of a sympathetic (and in retrospect, extremely gullible) March 8 profile by reporter Nicholas Confessore, was not the victim of Hurricane Katrina that she claimed to be. Yesterday she was arrested for fraud and grand larceny. The editors' note in the corrections box of the Times explains: