Hillary-hailing reporter Raymond Hernandez makes the front page of Thursday’s Metro section with a story that isn’t about Hillary but nonetheless helps Sen. Clinton reelection campaign -- an expose of her Republican opponent K.T. McFarland (“Questions Arise About Resume Of Challenger To Clinton”).
“When Kathleen Troia McFarland stepped forward as a Republican challenger to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, she was a relatively obscure figure with two intriguing claims to fame: She had worked on President Ronald Reagan's ‘Star Wars’ speech and had been the highest-ranking woman at the Reagan Pentagon.”
Earlier this month, the New York Times wrote about a Katrina evacuee, Donna Fenton. The story focused on the difficulties the woman had encountered in receiving assistance, highlighting her frustrations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Yesterday, the woman, who had falsely claimed to be a Katrina victim, was arrested for welfare fraud and grand larceny. Today's Times reports that story, and notes its previous coverage appeared "more than a month after Brooklyn prosecutors, prompted by suspicious officials at the city's welfare agency, began investigating her."
Call it the Ingraham Effect. Two days after Laura Ingraham sent shockwaves through the MSM with a Today show appearance in which she charged that the media accentuate the negative in their Iraqi coverage, and just the day after a palpably stung Today responded with a segment defending its coverage, Today led its show this morning . . . with good news from Iraq.
To be sure, Today would under any circumstances have covered the rescue of three self-styled Christian peace activists. Story here. But would Today have otherwise highlighted the story of a successful coalition military operation in the way that it did? In the show's very opening, Katie dramatically intoned:
The big question on the mind of certain New York Times reporters is one that has been repeatedly answered over and over with a resounding “No.” Well we can dream, can’t we?
In an attempt to portray the White House as disorganized, in constant conflict, lost, and on the verge of a “shake up,” Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney again show that the NYT is reporting news it wishes to happen, rather than what actually has happened.
“President Bush's suggestion on Tuesday that he may add a new senior figure to his White House team raised questions about the future of two of his closest and most powerful aides, Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, as they struggle to put Mr. Bush's White House back on course.”
Longtime "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace has finally announced his retirement. His son, Chris Wallace, is host of "Fox News Sunday." On Wednesday both men appeared on "Larry King Live" to discuss the father's retirement and the son's ongoing career.
Chris Wallace chided his father for "complaining and whining" about never getting to meet the president. He said that he has "actually met the president--and several times--and been to a State of the Union briefing where he had lunch with us and discussed things."
The son jokingly added, "I'm happy to pass my father's best wishes onto the president the next time I see him."
Mike Wallace said his son only gets close to the president because he "works for Fox."
In leading his Countdown show on Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pegged “the day in 1988 when the first George Bush sandbagged Dan Rather during a live interview on CBS as the moment” when “the process of blaming the messenger became an essential ingredient in American politics,” raised Joe McCarthy's name in noting the location of President Bush's criticism of press coverage of Iraq and railed against the “unforgivable” criticism of the media by radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, whom he described as someone “that I've known socially.” And that was all before he brought aboard Helen Thomas.
Olbermann asserted that the war of “the government versus the news has just escalated anew, and it is approaching a carpet bombing stage. Exhibit A, Wheeling, West Virginia, where Joe McCarthy started his string of the most memorable speeches, today's stop on the George W. Bush 'I am nothing if not deeply misunderstood ' Express.” After playing clips of Ingraham on Tuesday's Today show urging reporters in Iraq “to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," Olbermann presumed that meant she had no concept of journalists who have given their lives: “That hotel balcony crack was unforgivable. It was unforgivable to the memory of David Bloom, it was unforgivable in consideration of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt...”
Video clip of Olbermann castigating Ingraham, and a little more of his insults (55 secs): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB). Plus MP3 audio (330 KB). Bonus video of the 1988 Bush 41-Rather confrontation, cited by Olbermann, at the bottom of this posting.
When a conservative book comes out, the author usually spends some time talking about the media. The NewsBusters Book Review will provide excerpts from these passages and/or interview authors to learn what they think of the media and explain what they wrote.
Best job market since 2001 goes unnoticed as major media still not convinced that 4 ½-year economic expansion is for real. Free Market Project
It seems you can’t turn on your TV without hearing a new poll claiming how poorly Americans feel about the economy. Dean Reynolds of ABC said on the March 10 “World News Tonight” that “57 percent of Americans in our ABC polling say this economy is bad,” with an exclamation point that “only 17 percent say it’s getting better.” Similarly, CBS’s Bill Plante proclaimed February 28 on the “Morning News” that “People aren’t feeling as good about the economy.”
Yet, despite these claims, the good economic news is almost overwhelming.
At a forum with President George W. Bush Wednesday at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia, Gayle Taylor, the wife of a member of the military recently returned from Iraq, was drowned out by a standing ovation when she told Bush: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News found the criticism of the news media to be newsworthy. NBC's David Gregory instead decided to assert that “in a state he won twice...many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it.” NBC viewers then heard from one Mountain State resident, Donna Neptune, whom Gregory described as “a Republican." She maintained: “Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing."
ABC's World News Tonight, however, was unique amongst the broadcast evening newscasts and highlighted the contention from the woman anchor Elizabeth Vargas described as “the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq." Vargas set up the brief soundbite: “There has been criticism from the Bush administration and others that the media has been ignoring the good news in Iraq, distorting what's really going on there.”After the clip of Taylor, Vargas acknowledged that “it is certainly true that many of the stories from Iraq involve violence, and fear,” but she argued “it is also true that we cover all kinds of stories in Iraq. The last story Bob [Woodruff] filed before” the attack which severely wounded him, “was about a Baghdad ice cream parlor” and “when I was in Iraq in December, we spent time at this ballet school for children.” (Transcripts follow)
OLBERMANN: A note about Laura Ingraham's comments: I've known her for a long time. I'll in fact give you the caveat that I've known her socially. But that hotel balcony crack was unforgivable. It was unforgivable to the memory of David Bloom, it was unforgivable in the consideration of Bob Woodruff and Doug Voigt, it was unforgivable in the light of what happened to Michael Kelly and what happened to Michael Weiskopf. It was unforgivable with Jill Carroll still a hostage in Iraq. It's not only unforgivable, it was desperate and it was stupid.
Keith Olbermann would know a lot about being desperate and stupid. His ongoing War on FOX on the O'Reilly front is absolutely disgusting and shows how desperate he is for ratings
However, the larger point here is the hypocrisy of challenging others. Olbermann's motto is "challenge everything Bush says", yet when it happens to his liberal media friends, he gets mad. It's now the game of the liberal elite to cry "the right is blaming the media" when anyone dares to question their reporting.
If anything is unforgivable, it's Olbermann's attack on Laura Ingraham.
Is Chris Matthews making a profound point about self-determination and democracy, or has he gone off an end deeper than even Cindy Sheehan has so far ventured into?
Discussing the Iraqi insurgency with Pat Buchanan on this evening's Hardball, Matthews had this to say:
"We know it for a fact that the country is about 20% Kurd, 20% Sunni and about 60% Shia. In any democratic process you put together, the Shia will run the show. Here's the question: who are we to say that the minority group, the Sunnis, shouldn't rebel? Who are we to say they shouldn't try to rebel against the majority of the people?"
Continued Matthews: "I'm asking a simple moral question. We can tell the people under our system of government . . . what to do. What right have we got to go into another country and tell those other people what to do?"
To mark the third anniversary of launching the war to depose Saddam Hussein, the manufacturers of the “news” have established their usual template, Realistic Media vs. Pollyanna Bush. It’s not pessimism versus optimism, but reality versus hallucination.
How, then do we greet the bleats of liberals as they wildly overstate the alleged utter awfulness of the war situation? On CNN, Time writer Joe Klein, one of the nation’s leading worshipers of Bill Clinton, declared to Anderson Cooper, “Rumsfeld ran the most criminally incompetent military campaign, you know, in the last 100 years, perhaps in American history.”
During the 11pm hour of the March 21 Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper moderated a discussion on the media’s coverage of Iraq. Among those featured in the debate was Baghdad bureau chief for Time magazine, Michael Ware, who asserted that the "main winners" in Iraq were al-Qaeda and "superstar of international jihad" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Cooper started off the debate by asking conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt why he believes that the public is only hearing bad news out of Iraq. Hewitt slammed the media:
"Anderson, I think the coverage of the Iraq invasion right from the start, all the way through to the present day, has been abysmal in the mainstream media...A lot of new media that goes to Iraq, whether it’s Michael Totten, whether it is Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, whether it’s Victor Davis Hanson or Laura Ingraham or, especially, Robert Kaplan, whose book, Imperial Grunts, is must reading on this, report back enormous progress being made in the country."
Ware sounded defensive as he went after those who dared to criticize the media:
"All of these critics who are saying that we’re not telling the good news stories, I’d like to know just how many of them have spent any time here on the ground? Or any of these people who are reporting the good news from within the belly of the U.S. military, how much time have they spent on the Iraqi street?"
VH-1 watchers enjoying the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert Tuesday night received some perhaps unsurprising political commentary along with the music. When rock singer Elvis Costello came on stage to perform with New Orleans music legend Allan Touissant, he took a few shots at the Iraq War and the Bush administration's apparent inability to handle Hurricane Katrina because of that war:
I feel very lucky and very proud that music jumped to the aid of New Orleans back in September...But it’s a drop in the bucket for what is needed. There is a lot of things that I could say. I could say something like we are fighting the wrong wars in the wrong countries and not dealing with the people here that are living in this country that are not living right. You could call to account the people who have the audacity to blaspheme and say that Katrina was a judgment of God on the city of New Orleans. This is absolute nonsense because the devastation that followed Katrina was man-made, as we now know.
Time magazine celebrates an exclusive interview with Mel Gibson, described as an "ultraconservative Roman Catholic" with a Holocaust-denying Dad, as he prepares his new film, "Apocalypto," based on the Mayans and performed in the old Mayan language (more subtitles). Gibson says he doesn't give a "flying f---" about his critics, but the comments Time highlighted suggested he may be trying to get back in the good graces of the people living inside Hollywood's liberal bubble, attacking President Bush and sounding an environmentalist alarm:
Gibson and his rookie cowriter on Apocalypto, Farhad Safinia, were captivated by the ancient Maya, one of the hemisphere's first great civilizations, which reached its zenith about A.D. 600 in southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. The two began poring over Maya myths of creation and destruction, including the Popol Vuh, and research suggesting that ecological abuse and war-mongering were major contributors to the Maya's sudden collapse, some 500 years before Europeans arrived in the Americas.
Dan Gainor of the MRC's Free Market Project alerted me to the potentially left-wing plot of the episode of Law & Order set to air tonight (Wednesday) on NBC at the show's new time of 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST. The NBC Web site page for the program provides this preview:
WAS VENGEANCE THE REASON BEHIND THE SLAYING OF A PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTOR? -- A private military contractor is found shot to death in his hotel room and Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) believe vengeance is the motive in a politically charged case that questions the reason America is at war. The detectives soon narrow their focus on a fellow commando Kevin Boatman (guest star Pablo Schrieber) and the younger brother of a man who was murdered by Iraqi insurgents while under the victim's questionable command. But as A.D.A. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) fights to keep a frightening video of the Iraqi execution out of court, he confronts unexpected political intrigue when more details are revealed about a recently captured terrorist.
Be cautioned, however, that L&O's often take plot twists in which the initially-assumed motivations for crimes turn out to be inaccurate.
Romenesko noticed an item from Washington Post White House reporter Peter Baker's online chat. Despite Bush's combative behavior at a recent press conference, Baker says Bush "isn't particularly thin-skinned." But that doesn't mean he likes the president.
Bedford, Mass.: It strikes me that Bush is waging a new campaign: the war on journalists. To be sure, some of the fake folksiness is intended to humanize him, but in the last two press conferences Bush has taken repeated digs at reporters--questioning their professionalism, fairness and seriousness. Do all Presidents do this? Does the press corp share the perception that the White House is trying to damage the credibility of journalists?
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had radio host Laura Ingraham on “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday evening (hat tip to Expose the Left). Fresh from her battle with NBC’s David Gregory on the “Today Show,” O’Reilly wanted Ingraham’s view (video link to follow) about NBC (from closed captioning):
Bill: Is it your opinion that NBC news spins the war in Iraq negative?
Laura: Well, it's not between me and NBC, Bill.
Bill: Look, you're an analyst. You watch these people. Is it your opinion that NBC news spins the war negative?
Laura: I think that the coverage of the war by NBC that I have really focused on, especially since I was in Iraq last month, to me it seems bizarrely focused only on the I.E.D.'s, only on the latest reprisal killings that are taking place. When stories that are so fascinating and interesting and broader and human interest, stuff the "Today" show and NBC likes to do, those stories are out there for anyone to get. I don't get it.
O’Reilly then made a very bold castigation of NBC:
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)