Good-natured advice to reporters making headlines by exposing the ignorance of government officials on national security matters: keep your facts straight yourselves.
There's been a rash of stories in recent days about the shocking ignorance of various government officials when it comes to bread 'n butter facts about the war on terror. First there was a report by Lisa Myers of NBC revealing how little some top FBI officials knew about various terrorist groups and leaders.
Just in the last couple days, Jeff Stein the National Security Editor at Congressional Quarterly, has been getting a lot of play with his story of similar ignorance on the part of incoming House Intelligence Commitee Chairman Silvestre Reyes [D-TX]. Reyes didn't know that Al Qaeda was a strictly Sunni group, nor did he have command of the basics about Hezbollah.
What’s the best way to cover the story that the incoming Democratic House Intelligence Chairman flunked a reporter’s current events quiz? Well, if you’re the producers of CNN’s "American Morning," you devote five minutes to the subject and spend half the time discussing examples of Republicans flubbing such quizzes. Reporter Bob Franken filed two reports for the Tuesday edition of "American Morning" and seemed downright embarrassed to be reporting the fact that Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes incorrectly responded to a correspondent’s question of who, Shiite or Sunni, primarily comprise al-Qaeda. (Reyes believed the answer to be Shiites.) Franken alternately asserted that the House member must now be aware of "snarky reporters," "treacherous reporters" and claimed that Reyes had been given a "rude welcome." Perhaps to make up for even mentioning the subject, the CNN reporter spent two and a half minutes, out of a combined five total, discussing Republican goofs. At 7:15am, co-host Soledad O’Brien introduced Franken, and set the "we-don’t-want-to-cover-this" tone:
Soledad O’Brien: "In Washington, D.C., Democrats are getting a little taste of what it's like to be in charge on Capitol Hill. Along with the perks of power comes the gotcha moments. The incoming House Intelligence Chairman is the current victim as he flunks an important test. ‘American Morning’s Bob Franken live in Washington for us this morning with details. Good morning."
A very bizarre “conference” convened in Iran yesterday, hosted by despicable despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called together some of the world’s foremost anti-Semites to debate whether the systematic mass murder of millions of Jews took place during World War II. Maybe even more astounding, as the CBS “Evening News” reported on this event, neither anchor Katie Couric, nor correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, chose to take issue with the theme of this conference. Couric began:
Iran's president is no friend of Israel or the Jewish people. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the destruction of the Jewish state, and he's called the Holocaust a myth. Today he convened a conference to debate that issue, whether there actually was a Holocaust. How does Iran's Jewish community live in such an atmosphere? From Tehran tonight, here's Elizabeth Palmer.
Ana Marie Cox of "Time" magazine asserted that the pregnancy of Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, shames the White House and pondered whether it was a "...genetic experiment to extend the lineage," on Tuesday’s "Imus in the Morning." Cox, appearing in the 6:00 hour, alluded to Ms. Cheney’s sexual orientation on several occasions and emphasized that she is the vice president’s "gay daughter."
Cox claimed that the Bush administration is "falling apart" because the news of Mary Cheney’s pregnancy is the best they’d received recently:
"This administration’s really falling apart though, I do agree. I think, you know, you know times are bad when the best news the White House has had recently is, you know, Dick Cheney’s gay daughter is pregnant. Like, he’s going to be a granddad, that’s pretty much it."
Two notes on Bill O'Reilly controversies today. First, Brian Maloney at the Radio Equalizer blog reports a forthcoming operatic work on the Andrea Mackris complaint of sexual harassment against O'Reilly, "an oratorio for 31-piece chamber orchestra, 32-voice chorus and three soloists." It debuts in Seattle, where Christmas trees are controversial, but not this?
Last Wednesday, NewsBuster Tom Blumer reported the resignation of an Emory University professor from that school’s Carter Center due to problems the professor had with former president Jimmy Carter’s new controversial book “Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid.” On Tuesday, the university newspaper, the Emory Wheel, published an article outlining Professor Kenneth Stein’s positions on this issue (hat tip to the American Thinker, emphasis mine throughout):
Although Carter has insisted in several interviews that his book contains no factual errors, Stein said the president misrepresents the wording of key security council resolutions and negotiated documents, including the Camp David Accords, which Carter himself negotiated.
"History gives no refunds, no do overs," Stein said in his class on the Arab-Israeli conflict, where he presented his criticisms of the Carter book. "You have to take what is and build on it. You can't bend the [facts] to suit a need."
Imagine misrepresenting to the public resolutions which you yourself negotiated, and the media giving you a pass. Shocking, no? Alas, the article had just begun:
Outsourcing and the Internet are helping "microbusiness" owners to thrive, USA Today reported in a recent edition. That’s funny. As Lou Dobbs would have us believe, outsourcing does nothing but turn middle class Americans into economic cannon fodder for major corporations.
"Competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency are nothing more than code words for 'cheaper labor,'" Dobbs complained in the "Exporting America" chapter of his latest book "War on the Middle Class."
By "finding cheaper labor all over the world," major corporations have created a level playing field all right, "they obviously mean to cut the American standard of living down to the level of the third world," snarked the Harvard-educated business anchor.
But far from being reduced to eating beans and rice and living in sodden hovels, American entrepreneurs have coupled outsourcing with ingenuity and made successful businesses based on the Internet.
"Fed up with rising labor costs, a new generation of entrepreneurs is launching millions of tiny companies" without hiring any full-time employees. At some 20 million workers they comprise one-sixth of the civilian non-government labor force, USA Today reporter Jim Hopkins noted in his December 11 Money section story.
Saturday's New York Times obituary for Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Ronald Reagan's envoy to the United Nations, was written by Tim Weiner and draws on Weiner's background as the paper's liberal defense reporter during the 1990s.
Weiner takes a mostly positive look at Kirkpatrick's life and influence at the U.N., but can't resist inserting his own liberal foreign policy slant.
"At the United Nations, she defended Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983. She argued for El Salvador's right-wing junta and against Nicaragua’s left-wing ruling council, the Sandinistas."
I almost did a double take when reading this editorial knowing it came from the Washington Post. Kudos to the staff of the editorial page for printing something very politically incorrect about deceased former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and acknowledging the horrible truth that Fidel Castro, the aging communist ruler of Cuba, has not been sufficiently denounced.
Castro-worship (and really Fidel is just a cipher for any leftist dictator) is an amusing thing. I once encountered a college professor who was so enamored of him, he even defended Castro's systematic murders and imprisonments of gay Cubans, despite having previously denounced the right for being anti-gay just weeks before. The further irony was, that this guy taught ancient political philosophy and history and yet was forever going on about how wonderful Fidel was.
And now to the excerpt:
It's hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves
behind the most successful country in Latin America. In the past 15
years, Chile's economy has grown at twice the regional average, and its
poverty rate has been halved. It's leaving behind the developing world,
where all of its neighbors remain mired. It also has a vibrant
democracy. Earlier this year it elected another socialist president,
Michelle Bachelet, who suffered persecution during the Pinochet years.
Is Keith Olbermann just a modern-day reincarnation of the crazed anchorman depicted in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film “Network?” In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article published Tuesday, KO said no (emphasis mine throughout): “‘I am not Peter Finch walking around the streets of New York in my pajamas as Howard Beale muttering to myself and saying, 'I must bear my witness.' It's not like that.’"
One NewsBusters’ contributing editor didn’t agree with Olby’s position:
“My concern is that people are mistaking his show for real news," said Noel Sheppard, a blogger with NewsBusters.Org, a Web site founded by conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell. "But there's no question he is indeed Howard Beale. The whole Paddy Chayevsky [sic] concept in 'Network' was that news had to be entertaining. You had the anchorman flip out one day, and the ratings exploded. The same is going on with Keith Olbermann, who really does get into a snit like Beale did."
As a little background, the film “Network” was based on a fictitious media outlet whose ratings were doing very poorly, in particular, its news division.
Well, at least he didn't blame it on Bush. In his column of yesterday, Market Watch's Jon Friedman tells us not to rule out this explanation of CBS Evening News's disappointing third-place finish under Katie Couric's baton:
"America wasn't truly ready for the first solo woman evening-news anchor, let alone someone smart and attractive with pretensions to sounding puckish and hip."
Oh, please. Does Friedman really believe that? From Maureen Dowd [love her or hate her] to Oprah to Katie herself back in her 'Today' days, millions of Americans are comfortable getting their news and views from women opinion-leaders. Katie hasn't flopped because of her sex. She's been unsuccessful because she's done nothing to distinguish herself from her liberal media competitors - with the exception of letting her show's precious few minutes of hard news be crowded out by the awkward "Free Speech" segment.
Proving that Time Magazine never understood a single thing about John McCain, Time writer, Karen Tumulty, is all worried about the "cost" of McCain's purported run for the 2008 GOP nomination for the presidency.
The head and sub-head lines alone are so filled with misconstructions, assumptions and laments that one doesn't have to read the rest of the story to know how far off they are in analysis.
John McCain was a straight-talking upstart in the 2000 presidential election. Now he's poised to be the G.O.P. favorite for 2008, but at what cost?
First of all, the "maverick" label is one the press created and drove McCain ever more toward with their fawning attention. This assumption of "front runner" now is also a figment of their imagination.
Then, they belie their supposed objectivity and reveal how much they loved the claimed maverick status of their hero, McCain, by claiming there now is a "cost" to be incurred with his attempt to get the '08 nomination. Tumulty's article reveals her bad feelings that he will have to try harder this time to court the base as opposed to imagining that the independent and moderate vote will catapult him past all comers in a GOP primary -- a woefully mistaken belief from the 2000 run that the press seems to have encouraged for McCain, an encouragement that doomed his candidacy.
Barack Obama Superstar worship continues unabated in the media. One of the most devoted of the starry-eyed reporters is Susan Milligan of the Boston Globe. Acting like a latter day Mary Magdalene, Milligan wrote a love note to Obama in the form of a "news" story, Obama's star power shows on N.H. visit. Milligan doesn't waste any time expressing her awe for Obama by starting out her story with this pean for her liberal savior:
Barack Obama , a national political newcomer with an uncomplicated message of hope and promise, won standing ovations from enthusiastic crowds yesterday as he tested the New Hampshire landscape for support for a 2008 Democratic presidential run.
Meredith Vieira stopped short of breaking out the pom-poms, but the 'Today' crew otherwise did its best to cheer Barack Obama and his appearance on last night's Monday Night Football. For those who missed MNF, the broadcast opened with a deadpan Obama seemingly on the verge of announcing his candidacy for president, before simply endorsing his home-state Chicago Bears.
Call me a grump, but watching it live last night my first reaction was "how's this for millions in free advertising, courtesy ABC-ESPN?"
But the folks at NBC clearly weren't troubled by a little politicking by their rivals at ABC. Nary a discouraging word was heard, and to the contrary, the Today cast tried to outdo each other with their praise for Barack and his performance:
As I reported this weekend, Qais al-Bashir from the AP actually identified a source in one of his articles as "not an authorized source". While it was a small step, at least it was a step in the right direction. It did not take long for the AP to revert back to its old tricks of using unauthorized sources for news out of Iraq.
Today's story out of Iraq by Thomas Wagner and Qais al-Bashir features some familiar names...
"The coordinated attack in Tayaran Square involved a suicide attacker who drove up to the day laborers pretending to want to hire them, then set off his explosives as they got into his minibus, Lt. Bilal Ali said. At virtually the same time — 7 a.m. — a bomb exploded in a car parked some 30 yards away."
At first I thought I might have stumbled across a document of some historical interest - an internal memo from the central planning committee of the Soviet Union ordering the apparatchiks to find a way to increase spending in a certain sector of the economy.
Turns out it was just an editorial from today's New York Times. Consumption by the middle-class isn't high enough to suit the Gray Lady's taste, or as it puts it: "There is no question that spending by the middle class has been weaker in the current economic expansion than in previous recoveries."
What really has the Times exercised is this: "In 2005, the top 20 percent of households made 39 percent of all consumer expenditures." Oh, the horror! How dare the most productive members of society, the ones who are creating most of the jobs for the other 80%, spend the most?
Imagine for a moment that a sex scandal involving pages had forced a Democrat Congressman holding a safe seat to resign in disgrace weeks before crucial midterm elections, while also reflecting badly on other members of his Party in tight races across the country. A month after the votes had been tallied, and the Democrats had surrendered control of both chambers of Congress in a stunning defeat, a House ethics panel released a report on the subject containing the following information:
The leaks to the press concerning this matter had come from the communications director for the House Republican Caucus
A high-ranking staff member for the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee had been informed of the misdeeds of the Democrat Congressman almost twelve months before they were revealed by the press
Now assume that this head of the NRCC had declared four weeks prior to Election Day that nobody in his office was aware of the Democrat Congressman’s sexual indiscretions before they were revealed. Would the contradictory findings of this panel be headline news the day they were reported?
On Monday's Countdown during the show's regular "Oddball" segment, while reporting on the controversial decision of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to remove its Christmas trees from public view rather than display a Menorah, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann mocked FNC host Bill O'Reilly by jokingly suggesting that O'Reilly supports a "war against Hanukkah." Olbermann, who since last year has mocked O'Reilly and other FNC hosts, once calling them "fat heads," for their concerns about a "War on Christmas" by secularists, jokingly commented, referring to Bill O'Reilly disparagingly as "Billow": "Generalissimo O'Reilly remains upbeat. Look not on this as a defeat in the war on Christmas. This was a dramatic victory in Billow's new war against Hanukkah." Ironically, less than 20 minutes earlier on The O'Reilly Factor, host O'Reilly had spoken approvingly of displaying a Menorah at the airport as he interviewed the rabbi who had requested it. The FNC host was quite sympathetic to the rabbi's viewpoint as he lambasted the airport's decision not to allow a Menorah display. O'Reilly: "There is no reason not to put up a Menorah in the Sea-Tac Airport because Hanukkah is a celebrated holiday, and, you know, Americans of Jewish faith would like to see it, and it's in context, so put it up." (Transcripts follow)
“Tonight a vote of no confidence in President Bush,” anchor Katie Couric trumpeted at the top of Monday's CBS Evening News over “Sinking Support” on screen under video of Bush. She explained: “A devastating new poll finds a record number of Americans [75%] now disapprove of the way he's handling the war.” Couric used the “devastating” description a second time before Bob Schieffer came aboard to assert that opposition to the Iraq war “is taking on historic proportions” since in 1973 a Gallup survey determined 60 percent thought going to war in Vietnam was a mistake, but the new CBS News poll found “that slightly more Americans than that, 62 percent, now believe it was a mistake to go to Iraq. That is simply stunning." Of course, in 1973 there was a slower news cycle and a lot fewer media outlets, and no 24/7 cable services or Web sites, to pound away at every negative development in the war.
The premiere Sunday night of the second season of Showtime's week-long mini-series, Sleeper Cell: American Terror, gave time to two characters espousing how President Bush and the CIA were behind the 9/11 attacks. The eight-part series, airing for an hour at 9pm EST/PST (with an 11pm EST/PST) repeat every night through this Sunday on the CBS-owned network, picks up after last season which ended with an undercover Muslim FBI agent at the last-minute thwarting a plot to explode a nuclear device at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
In the newest episode, a woman who appears to be the girlfriend of one of the plotters who escaped capture (and she may not even be aware that he's a terrorist), arrives at his safe house and after the two have sex, as they sit on the kitchen floor eating from one plate, she propounds that “every time we have sex, it's like the ultimate f*** you to Bush, Cheney and the whole 9/11 plot. I just keep picturing Giuliani and the rest of those assholes supervising the whole thing from that $15 million bunker on the 23rd floor of Building 7. You know that's where they broadcast the homing signal from, make sure the planes would hit the towers." The terrorist man, a Bosnian, adds: "I know, and the Pentagon was actually hit by a CIA Global Hawk drone so the administration could start an endless war and turn America into a police state."
Jack Cafferty, a vociferously anti-Bush CNN contributor, on Monday spoke approvingly of an impeachment bill introduced by outgoing Congresswoman, and fellow Bush hater, Cynthia McKinney. He found it "strange" that, unlike McKinney, so many Democrats are unwilling to consider impeachment. What’s strange is that Cafferty would cite McKinney as a rational source of information. This is, after all, a woman who previously wondered if President Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened, attacked a Capitol Hill police officer and whose supporters blamed Jews for the Congresswoman’s 2006 primary defeat:
Jack Cafferty:"...Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill to impeach President Bush. It’s strictly symbolic and has no chance of going anywhere. She lost her congressional seat and is on her way back to civilian life. But McKinney isn’t the only person who thinks President Bush may have done things that rise to the levels of high crimes and misdemeanors. And yet, the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that impeachment of the President is, quote, ‘off the table.’ It’s all kind of strange."
The "Free Speech" segment for Friday's "Evening News" went to British auto columnist Mike Rutherford who complained that Americans don't know how "lucky" they are for the cheap petrol they put in their tanks.
“Sorry, America, but if you believe you’re paying too much for the fuel you put in your
automobiles, you’re not living in the real world,” griped Rutherford. Noting that American gasoline is priced “among the lowest on the planet,” he added that “here in England, the average price of a gallon of fuel is almost $8 in your money. And you’re complaining,” he rhetorically added before insisting Americans “don’t know how lucky” they are.
Of course luck has nothing to do with it.
The reason most Britons find fueling the lorry a pence-pinching experience is because ol' John Bull is a tax guzzler.
MSM types and their soulmates in the Dem party like to profess their deep and abiding respect for average Americans. But in an unguarded moment this afternoon, MSMer-in-good-standing Jonathan Alter pulled back the curtain on his disdain for them.
Discussing the wildly enthusiastic reception that Barack Obama received in New Hampshire yesterday, Alter -a Newsweek writer and NBC consultant - told host Joe Scarborough:
"If you had been there you wouldn't have been under any illusions about the extent of interest in him. this was a huge crowd. It would have been a huge crowd by any standards even right before an election. 1,500 people. Very, very enthusiastic. Very interested. So he's not going to have to do this 'Joe Schmo's living room' thing in New Hampshire. He's way past that."
It was an all-Obama Monday as each of the three network morning shows highlighted the Illinois Senator’s weekend trip to New Hampshire. NBC, ABC and CBS all hyped the prospect of a potential Barack Obama presidential campaign as the senator made his rounds through the state, host of the first presidential primary. The trip was hailed as a successful venture by all the networks. ABC’s Jake Tapper on Good Morning America declared Obama’s appearance to be "very successful", while Norah O’Donnell over on Today, as the MRC’s Geoff Dickens noted, stated that Obama was "mobbed by supporters" and "ignited excitement," among New Hampshire Democrats. CBS’ Harry Smith on The Early Show went further, calling the buzz surrounding Obama’s trip a "sensation," during a question to political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report:
Harry Smith: "Front page USA Today, Barack Obama right there, front page, Washington Post, Barack Obama right there. I could go on and on and on and on and on. Why is this single appearance causing such a sensation?"
Aside from sharing the same last name NBC's O'Donnells, Kelly and Norah, share the same penchant for liberal bias. On this morning's Today show Kelly O'Donnell highlighted Republican division on Iraq while Norah O'Donnell pointed out Democratic "excitement," over Barak Obama.
First up Kelly O'Donnell, in a report about Bush seeking answers in Iraq, noted, 'while he is seeking advice his party is splitting over the war." Then later in the 7am half hour the other O'Donnell, Norah, fawned over Obama: "Barack Obama's first ever visit to New Hampshire ignited excitement!"
The following are the complete reports filed by both O'Donnells on the December 11 Today show with relevant portions highlighted in bold:
TEL AVIV – A key Hamas official has confirmed reports from last week the terror group held meetings with "important Democrats."
Ahmed Yousuf, chief political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told the Maannews Palestinian news website that Hamas officials met recently with high-ranking American figures, "especially members of the Democratic party."
"Augusto Pinochet, 91, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies" reads the headline to Jonathan Kandell's front-page obituary for the Chilean ruler in the New York Times Monday. A related editorial calls Pinochet "The Dextrous Dictator" (perhaps a play on words, as the Latin root of dextrous is dexter, meaning "on the right side," hardy har har).
Here's the lead of Kandell's obituary for Pinochet today:
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago."
CBS continued the media’s love for liberal Democratic Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). On Monday’s Early Show, anchor Harry Smith and reporter Trish Regan fawned over Senator Obama’s visit to New Hampshire and his potential 2008 presidential run. "He got a first class welcome," Harry Smith exclaimed. Trish Regan began her report stating, "It looked more like a rally in the midst of a heated than a mere appearance by a potential presidential contender. But Granite State politicos say there aren’t many candidates like Senator Barack Obama." Other than playing Obama’s vague promise to "have an aggressive, ambitious strategy for energy independence," CBS simply focused on the hype regarding Senator Obama and did not report on his experience and where he stands on the issues. The entire transcript is below.