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.
..... now the WashPost has printed another article on the city, this time an upbeat one. What gives? You guessed it.The second one was reported from Ramadi. Case closed, thank you very much. Unfortunately, it's little solace knowing how few journalists ever leave their safe little hovels in Baghdad hotels or Washington, D.C.
Kaus doesn't think "upbeat" accurately describes the WaPo article, which is actually an AP dispatch by Will Weissert. I agree; I'd call it "even-handed."
But there's a larger point, which is that an actual named AP reporter has reported from something other than a "safe little hovel," and from Ramadi no less.
Why? I have to wonder if AP is responding to the current controversy, by doing things it would probably never admit to doing, and certainly would never attribute to having been done because of outside influence. Specifically:
Monday’s edition of "American Morning" featured a decidedly one sided segment that advocated for Democratic legislation, generously highlighted Ted Kennedy and promoted San Francisco as the wave of the future. Correspondent Alina Cho used the piece to boost a bill that would require employers with more than 15 workers to give seven sick days a year. Disparaging America’s primitive stance on the issue, she noted that "139 countries provide paid sick leave for workers. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not pay." Cho almost entirely ignored opposition to this plan. Her segment also highlighted a supposed victim of this problem who is actually on the board of directors of a group that lobbies for similar laws. (Somehow, this didn't come up.) The entire story sounded like something taken straight from a DNC press release:
Alina Cho: "...For many Americans, taking a sick day is not a big deal. You take it for granted. But by most estimates, more than half of all Americans who work in the private sector do not get a single day of paid sick leave. Not a single day. Well, all of that could change now that the Democrats are about to take control of Congress. And for some families, it could make all the difference. Rachel Sobel, mother of two, quit her job last December when she was forced to make a choice: her job or her son. Leo had broken his arm and needed her care."
For those that missed it, a classic – and sometimes heated – debate about the Iraq War transpired on the most recent installment of “Fox News Sunday”. In the left corner was NPR’s Juan Williams. In the right corner, as a fabulous conservative tag team, were Fox News’ Brit Hume, and the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol. This one did not disappoint (video available here).
The fun really got going when Kristol made the following observation about recent changes in position regarding the war: “Some of the Republicans are going wet or squishy, or whatever one wants -- that was a shock. Sam Brownback said to you just a few minutes ago he has growing impatience with the war in Iraq. Senator Smith said he's at the end of his rope.”
Williams eventually took issue with this:
Let me just say this. Squishy, impatient, you know, they'll be in the land of milk and honey -- the insurgents will be? What do you imagine, that somehow there's -- an American administration is coming in, Republican or Democrat, after President Bush that's just going to lay down and run away like scared little...
And that’s when the party started (partial transcript follows, but it really should be read along with the video to capture the priceless expressions on the faces of the participants):
The UK Telegraph reported Sunday that the United Nations will significantly reduce its global warming assessment in a document set to be published in February (emphasis mine):
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent. […]
The panel, however, has lowered predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001.
Climate change sceptics are expected to seize on the revised figures as evidence that action to combat global warming is less urgent.
One such skeptic, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), has already responded:
The late Jeane Kirkpatrick was well-known for distinguishing the difference between authoritarian governments and totalitarian governments. The Washington Post also distinguishes: it's harsher on right-wing authoritarians then on left-wing communist dictators. Coverage of the death of right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was all focused on the "dictator's dark legacy" and how he'd escaped punishment. But upon the death of Chinese dictator Deng Ziaoping in 1997, the Post emphasized how he opened China to outsiders and liberalized the economy (alongside news events like the murderous crackdown on student dissidents in Tiananmen Square in 1989). The first front-page article did not wonder why no one had brought Deng to "justice."
In a story simply headlined "A Chilean Dictator's Dark Legacy," Monte Reel and J.Y. Smith focused heavily on the left-wing brief against Pinochet, Richard Nixon, CIA infiltration, and fear of communism. Note the absence of any talk of democratization and economic liberalization:
You can lead the Boston Globe to the facts about immigration, but you can't make it think. The focus of the Globe's editorial of today, African-Americans need apply, is "the disappearing African-American hotel worker." Precise figures for the Boston hotel industry aren't available but the Globe notes that in Los Angeles, African-Americans "comprise only about 6 percent of workers in downtown hotels."
The Globe acknowledges that "new immigrant populations . . . have been replacing African-Americans in hotel service jobs for about a decade." So you'd think that perhaps the Globe would take the next logical step and call for a clampdown on immigration, particularly illegal immigration.
In his Monday "Media Notes" column, long-time Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz was perfectly comfortable separating ideological New Media from "objective" Old Media. Just before a tidbit asserting that "conservative journalist" Richard Miniter is bringing fresh reporting to the Pajamas Media website, which "has leaned heavily to the right," Kurtz defended David Gregory in one of his look-at-me battles with Tony Snow. Kurtz suggested Gregory was not "partisan" in pressing Snow to acknowledge that the Iraq Study Group utterly rejected Bush’s policy with "stay the course is not working" lingo. No liberalism there?
In fact, it’s quite easy for Snow to hear Democratic talking points in Gregory’s question. Congressman Silvestre Reyes summarized what Democrats have been saying as group shorthand in the Saturday Democrat radio address: "Their report confirms what most of us have known for some time: President Bush’s policy of ‘stay the course’ is not working.’"
Was it a planned one-two punch? On Saturday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich declared that "we have lost in Iraq." Today, in The Time Is Now, his Times colleague Bob Herbert flatly calls for surrender. No conditions, no time-table. As Herbert starkly puts it: "it is time to pull the troops out of harm’s way."
Herbert says "it is wrong to continue sending fresh bodies after those already lost." He raises the "moral question" of justifying "the lives that will be lost between now and the final day of our departure." But Herbert ignores another looming moral question: the lives that will be lost if we hastily retreat.
Proving he's moving on with post-Senate life, George Allen gave an interview to his journalistic tormentor, Michael C. Shear of the WashPost, but Shear plays it cute in Saturday's paper when he pretends not to know who the "referee" is when Allen suggests he was wronged by the refs (including the Post, I have zero doubt):
He declined to talk specifically about the controversies that turned what was supposed to be his warm-up for a presidential campaign into a losing bid to hold on to his Senate seat. "You can't brood and dwell" on the loss, he said.
But it's clear -- especially from the football analogies he uses frequently to describe the sudden turn in his political life -- that Allen regrets the mistakes he and his campaign staff made during the past several months.
Those looking for a true conservative to enter the Republican presidential field might be feeling a bit perplexed in the wake of Sam Brownback's performance on this morning's Fox News Sunday. The senator from Kansas:
Endorsed the ISG report and appeared to strongly support negotiations with Iran and Syria.
Called for a timetable for US withdrawal.
Spoke approvingly of a Bidenesqe division of Iraq into three ethnic regions.
Declined to swing at the softball host Chris Wallace lobbed at him regarding Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gay rights.
Seemingly described himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Invited by Wallace to comment on the ISG report, Brownback was surprisingly supportive: "I think [Pres. Bush] really should look at these recommendations very seriously as well. And it seems to me that what Baker-Hamilton provides us is a chance to kind of reset the table and get a bi-partisan buy-in and not just a bipartisan buy-in, a global buy-in to what we can do to move forward in Iraq and get our troops out of harm's way and out of the sectarian violence. I think this is an important moment, like senator Dodd identifies as well"
The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct released its report concerning the Mark Foley page scandal on Friday, and the media banged the predictable drum about this all being a Republican cover-up. However, what was ignored or downplayed by virtually every press outlet was the revelation that the offensive e-mail messages between Foley and male pages were leaked to the media by the communications director for the House Democratic Caucus. Also absent from such reports was the possibility that high-ranking Democrat Rahm Emanuel of Illinois might have been aware of these electronic transmissions even though he told ABC News on October 8 that he hadn’t heard anything about them until the story broke (video available here, hat tip to Gateway Pundit).
How much did Rahm Emanuel know about disgraced Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails to a former House page? In an Oct. 8 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Emanuel, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, was asked if he or his staff knew anything about the e-mails or instant messages between Foley and former pages "before they came out." "No - Never saw them," Emanuel said. Asked if he was "aware of them," Emanuel repeated, "We never saw them. No involvement." But on page 46 of the new House Ethics Committee report on the scandal is testimony that at least one senior member of Emanuel's staff did know about them.
Saturday's CBS Evening News featured a story, filed by correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which highlighted the French government's policy of entitling all mothers to three years of paid maternity leave and subsidized child care as a way to increase the birth rate and thus provide more young taxpayers to pay for the pensions of the elderly. MacVicar pointed out that in America, "federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave," before cautioning that "the rest get nothing."
MacVicar relayed that French women enjoy more benefits than their American counterparts: "Take a look at what all French families, regardless of income, are entitled to: Up to three years paid maternity leave with a guarantee that mom's job will be there for her when she returns. There's subsidized child care, a whole host of tax credits, and for baby number three brings twice the government allowance of baby number two." (Transcript follows)
Despite all the claims of standing by their stories, the AP now admits to the use of unauthorized sources. The infamous Qais al-Bashir posted another sectarian violence story via AP this morning. Al-Bashir offered up the typical Sunni-Shiite blood-letting but this time he was honest about his sources:
On Sunday morning, clashes erupted between Sunni and Shiite militants in Baghdad's mixed western Amil district, a policeman said. One Shiite militiaman was killed and six people — five Sunnis and one Shiite — were wounded, the officer said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
Let's be generous and chalk it up to the early-morning hour. Otherwise we'd have to come down hard on radio host Mike Gallagher, who as a guest on this morning's Fox & Friends Weekend went ga-ga for Barack Obama. It's one thing to acknowledge as did Mike that Obama has appeal as a candidate. But, interviewed by Keran Chetry, it was Gallagher's praise for Obama's substance that shocked, coming as it did from a putative conservative. Said Gallagher:
"He's got some pretty solid ideas. He's a moderate."
Obama - moderate? If Mike would check Obama's record, as we did here, he'd find that in addition to having received a perfect 100% rating last year from the paleo-liberals at Americans for Democratic Action, a host of other ratings Barack has received screams "cookie-cutter left-wing Democrat":