Normally, the news that a film about racism won the Oscar for best picture is pretty much a dog-bites-man type of story. Old hat. Done before. What usually happens.
Not this year, though. The upset victory of "Crash" in the Academy Awards race has proven to be just that, but more for supporters of "Brokeback Mountain" than for anything else. Apparently, hell also hath no fury like a slightly-above-average gay movie scorned.
The backlash against "Crash" has been such that even avowedly liberal film critic Roger Ebert has stepped up to defend the film he had been pulling for to win the Oscar. After listing some of the more ridiculous criticisms from "Brokeback" supporters (see here, here, and here for more), Ebert notes how Academy of Motion Picture critics blithely ignore "Capote," which chronicled gay journalist Truman Capote's attempts to write the story of a murder of a rural family:
Is only positive news about American Muslims fit to highlight?
After issuing this week a massive three-part series with a glowing portrait of the imam of a Brooklyn mosque (while glossing over his sympathies for the terrorist group Hamas), Wednesday's Times buries on page 18 attempted murder by a radical Islamist looking for revenge against Americans.
Brenda Goodman’s “Defendant Offers Details Of Jeep Attack at University,” details what happened on the campus of the University of North Carolina but, like the headline, leaves off some pertinent data.
I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.
Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills....
In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.
You’d think Katie Couric would aspire to be an anchorwoman for all the American people, now that CBS appears to be wooing her for the Throne of Rather. So why did she have to be so rough on Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, for being a Catholic?
Monaghan has an extraordinary American story. After struggling badly with his brother in a failing pizza business, he bought his brother out in 1960 and by the 1980s had accumulated amazing riches. He was enjoying them, too, all the gaudy trappings of success, and then he read the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Reading about the great sin of pride, his life changed dramatically. He stopped concentrating on material things, instead focusing his energies, and his wealth, in pursuit of spiritual good. He poured millions upon millions of dollars into pro-life and Catholic philanthropy. Among other ventures, he founded Ave Maria University. After facing zoning problems with his first location in Michigan, Monaghan struck a deal in southern Florida, not to merely build a Catholic college, but a truly Catholic town, open to anyone aspiring to live in communion with traditional values.
Nina Burleigh burst on the national scene in 1998 when, as reported by MRC here, the former Time reporter famously said of Bill Clinton: "I'd be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal."
If you've already seen Brent Baker and Rich Noyes summarize how ABC downplayed their own Bush approval rating number after reporting CBS's lower number the week before, there's one more angle. How did ABC's partner, the Washington Post, play the poll? Pretty much the same. Tuesday's paper featured a front-page graphic showing 80 percent of poll respondents think a civil war is likely in Iraq. Then on A3, Post pollster Richard Morin highlighted the civil war finding. The headline: "Majority in U.S. Fears Iraq Civil War: Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush."
But "growing doubt" isn't found in the approval number. In paragraph six, we finally read: "Recent U.S. reversals in Iraq have not dramatically reduced overall support for President Bush, in contrast to some other national polls. His overall job approval rating stood at 41 percent, essentially unchanged from January. Nearly six in 10 disapproved of his job performance, the 11th consecutive survey since last April in which at least half the country has been critical of Bush's leadership." How are these polls slanted? Let us count the ways.
This week's hands-down winner in the Worthless Piece of Air category is Howard Fineman's page in Newsweek puffing up the presidential prospects of Rudy Giuliani. Any political reporter worth his salt knows that pro-gay, pro-abortion Rudy is this cycle's Republican Don Quixote. (Fineman, do you forget Arlen Specter for President? Or Pete Wilson for President? Aren't experienced political reporters supposed to reflect their experience?)
Fineman knows the score: "There are those who think the presence of a pro-choice, pro-gay rights New Yorker would help McCain by making him seem to be a comparative godsend to evangelicals." But then it's more ridiculous (not to mention more than a month old) to hype his January appearance before evangelical pastors in Florida:
Most of you have probably never heard of Bill Robinson. Heck, I’ve never heard of Bill Robinson. I've heard of “Will” Robinson, but now I'm dating myself.
Anyway, Bill Robinson is a movie producer and screenwriter of some note whose blog at HuffPo on Monday must have raised a few eyebrows, and caused many hung-over Oscar revelers to spit up their first cup of coffee. In his piece entitled “Sore Loser Mountain,” Robinson took on his fellow Hollywoodians’ collective concern that “Brokeback Mountain” was robbed of Best Picture honors at Sunday’s Academy Awards due to “the secret homophobia of Academy voters.” Robinson didn’t see it that way:
“Sorry, but I don't agree with the sore losers. Yes, homophobia exists all over the place, including among Academy voters, but the ‘Crash’ victory probably had more to do with the thousands of DVD's sent to voters, and the six-figure Oscar spending spree on its behalf. ‘Brokeback’ had garnered endless awards, and is the highest grossing best picture nominee. Is it really the victim of an anti-gay conspiracy?”
Hmmm. Clearly, Robinson was on thin ice here, for most of the posters and readers at HuffPo – especially the proprietor! – hate it when facts are brought into the discussion. Fortunately, Robinson wasn’t done. Next, he challenged the premise that “Brokeback” was an extraordinary movie deserving of Best Picture status:
Then the author starts citing statistics about the number of soldiers deserting "since the Iraq war began" in an another bogus effort to show that troops disagree with the war and are fleeing in droves. Then the article cites the head of Citizen Soldier, an anti-war group that offers legal aid to deserters, and says
Some lawyers who represent deserters say the war in Iraq is driving more soldiers to question their service...
Is the war in Iraq really driving more soldiers to question their service? Not if we look at the very statistics cited in this same article.
Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. The Marine Corps does not track the number of desertions each year but listed 1,455 Marines in desertion status last September, the end of fiscal 2005
That's 9,296 desertions over 2+ years. But if you look at the stats for just 2001, a single year prior to the start of the Iraq war:
The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001.
There were 9,581 deserters in 2001 alone... 2 years BEFORE the Iraq war began and then 2 years AFTER the start of the war, there were only 3,456.
The Associated Press reached a new level of incompetence, and the "news" industry they serve doesn’t seem to care. If you want political opinion, you’ll find it in Associated Press dispatches. If you want news, you might have to read conservative opinion columns.
On February 22nd, Walter Williams, a Townhall.com columnist, scooped the mainstream media. Williams reported that high school teacher Jay Bennish lectured his geography class stating:
Bill Moyers, former CBS reporter and former host of PBS's "Now with Bill Moyers," has fired back at a NewsBusters article that criticized him for only going after Republicans.
Now that he no longer works at PBS, Moyers has free time for such things as blogging, which he does for the Huffington Post.
In a piece called "Bill Moyers Attacks Republicans While Evoking Memories of Howard Beale," NB contributor Noel Sheppard critiqued Moyers's Huffington essay as being "an advertisement for Democratic political candidates."
"In his piece, Moyers addressed corruption in Congress as exclusively a Republican scandal, tying all of the problems on the Hill to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, while conveniently ignoring the various Democrats."
On March 5, the morning of the Oscars, the Today show indicated that mainstream Hollywood might be too conservative. Yes, you read that correctly. NBC correspondent Jennifer London, in a segment airing at 8:51AM EST, discussed the gay themes of Capote, Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica. She then made the following comment:
London: "The message this year? It's good to be gay in Hollywood. Or is it?"
The piece pointed out that despite the nominations of heterosexual actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger for their roles as homosexuals, many gay actors don’t come out. Ms. London also asserted that the public endorses these films, it’s the studios who are squeamish:
NBC’s Today played the story of Colorado teacher Jay Bennish’s comparing Bush to Hitler as a story of academic freedom. Matt Lauer played PR man to Bennish as he played the role of humble instructor of a simple Introduction To World Geography class. But in fact Bennish was teaching an Indoctrination to Communism class as seen in the anti-capitalistic quotes Today didn't show viewers. And it’s not like Today didn’t have the time to collect the quotes or even send invites to the offended students and parents as it’s been five days since the story first broke. No instead Today devoted its first half-hour to teasing its exclusive with the teacher that compared George W. Bush to Hitler. (Mark Finkelstein had our first take here.)
“Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in Its Public Relations Campaign," by Michael Barbaro in Tuesday's New York Times, concerns the discount giant feeding newsbits to bloggers to help its public relations. It tops Tuesday’s business pages, complete with the banner of a pro-Wal-Mart blog that's Barbaro’s main target. Yet Barbaro himself cowrote a story last month based on tips from an anti-Wal-Mart website.
“Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.
The New York Post is reporting that the liberal radio network Air America might be about to lose its big New York station (hat tip to Drudge):
“AIR America is close to losing its New York flagship station - knocking Al Franken and his liberal colleagues off the air on their second anniversary.
“The network has a two-year lease with WLIB (AM 1190) that is reportedly set to expire April 1 - and at least one reliable report says it is ‘extremely likely’ the deal will not be renewed.”
How can this be? Isn’t there a HUGE demand for this kind of liberal broadcasting…especially in this part of the country? Well, as has been well documented by the new media – and largely ignored by the antiques – AA has a bit of a financial problem. Apparently, things have NOT improved:
Turns out the real culprit in the Colorado kerfuffle over the teacher who compared Pres. Bush to Hitler is . . . the student who complained about it. Just ask Matt Lauer.
Interviewing teacher Jay Bennish this morning, Lauer laid out this sympathetic scenario:
Lauer: "The family here, the student's family, didn't go to the school board with this tape."
Bennish: "They never contacted me."
Lauer: "They shopped it around to conservative media outlets and finally released it to one and created an uproar. On the tape you can hear Sean Allen [the student in question] asking you questions that seem to be egging you on a little bit. Do you feel you were set up?" (More of the transcript here with thanks to Geoffrey Dickens.)
After weeks of sounding peppy about Bob Woodruff's recovery, but leaving out one key sign of normal life, ABC brought on the anchorman's brother David to announce that Woodruff is now talking, even speaking some Chinese and German. The Woodruffs are still very dicey about how long recovery could take, but that's good news. His brother also says he smiled when he told him he still has a face for TV.
Even so, you still have to marvel at the logic of ABC News chief David Westin putting his brand-new co-anchor at so much risk with an Iraqi convoy. Here's Westin in the January 29 Washington Post:
"Moving away from the studio -- the hermetically sealed, perfectly coiffed theory of anchoring -- there is risk in that," Westin says. "In my view, the greater risk is keeping it the way it was."
An ABC News/Washington Post poll, released late Monday afternoon, found majority support for a media bete noire, FBI and NSA wiretapping of people inside the United States in the war on terror, but those findings were ignored in the story posted on the Washington Post Web site and aired on ABC's World News Tonight. Instead, both stressed how 80 percent believe “civil war” is likely in Iraq. “Majority of Americans Believe Iraq Civil War is Likely,” read the WashingtonPost.com headline over the 5:30pm EST story by Richard Morin, which is likely to appear in near-identical form in Tuesday's hard copy. The subhead: “Washington Post-ABC News Poll Finds Sharp Decline in Optimism About Iraq War.” [10pm EST: Indeed, link now goes to March 7 print story on page A3, with a new headline: "Majority in U.S. Fear Iraq Civil War; Poll Also Finds Growing Doubt About Bush"]. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas relayed how “65 percent say the Bush administration has no clear plan for ending the war,” before George Stephanopoulos outlined how the public is “all over the map” on what to do in Iraq. The Post story, and ABC, however, did note that the public is also sour on Democrats. Sounding exasperated, Vargas cued up Stephanopoulos: "In the meantime, Democrats are incapable of capitalizing on this?" The ABC duo also ignored Bush's approval level pegged at 41 percent, seven points higher than the “all-time low” for Bush last week in a CBS News poll (NewsBusters item) which was much-touted by the networks (MRC Media Reality Check).
Last night's 78th Oscar presentation was the lowest rated show in the last 20 years, failing to break the 40-million mark in viewership. Why? Well, aside from the Hollywood-left’s love affair with anything that cast George W. Bush in the worse possible light, the reason is as plain as the botox in Jennifer Lopez’ lips:
The rather obvious and politically -charged "social message" that Hollywood attempted to swamp the American movie-goer with just didn’t entertain, and didn't sell tickets.
Our man Dickens also discovered that over the weekend on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," Time columnist (and Clinton-loving "Anonymous" author) Joe Klein disagreed with Matthews on the artistic and political merit of the Best Picture winner, "Crash":
Joe Klein: “You look at these five, you look at these five movies and they are like a right-wing fantasy of what the Democratic Party is all about. It’s, one movie is about blacks, another movie is about Jews, another movie is about journalists, another movie is about a gay journalist and finally you have gay cowboys just to poke an eye in your face. Since all politics is local.”
MRC's Geoff Dickens reported that in the 9 am half hour of "Today," Katie Couric went mushy for "Crash," a movie even liberal critics disliked for its manipulative (and at times unrealistic) plotting. Couric even mentioned how she liked that her daughter's ninth grade class was shown the fictional L.A.-stuffed-with-racism flick to spur discussion about America's unending race problem.
Katie Couric: "And also I think, Chris [Bridges], don't you think that, that the things weren't so black and white, so to speak, in the, in the movie. You know people were very nuanced. They had very different sides to them. So there weren't clear cut lines between bad characters and good characters were there?"
Don't expect to see Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton dining tête à tête any time soon. On this evening's Hardball, he described her as "Dukakis in a dress."
The comment arose in the course of his interview of House Majority Leader John Boehner. The topic was McCain. Boehner, perhaps with a grain of reluctance, labelled McCain a "good guy." But Boehner cut Matthews short when he floated a scenario in which the GOP would turn to McCain as its candidate "if you see Hillary coming, if it looks like she's got up a head of steam."
Boehner: "Wait a minute. You know, if ifs and buts and were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas. I don't think she can win."
Orlando Sentinel ombudsman Manning Pynn apologizes for unknowingly exposing incompetence in the Florida school system. In a story that ran last week about how middle-income kids aren't getting what they should from schools, the Sentinel ran a picture of a teacher standing in front of a whiteboard with the word "government' written on it. Except the "r" was missing.
Wouldn't you want to know if your children were in a classroom with a teacher who can't spell 'government'? Not if you're a left-bent journalist covering for the education status quo.
Although that photo had been in the newsroom since it was taken Dec. 14 and had been seen by numerous editors, no one noticed the misspelling until early the morning of publication, well into the press run -- too late to redesign the front page. "We should have caught it," Photo Editor Ken Lyons lamented. He's right, of course. But if editors had caught the misspelling before the presses rolled, should they have substituted another picture? Would that act of seeming compassion have distorted reality and shielded readers from the truth? Yes and definitely not.
The real story here is that public education is a broken system, and journalists deliberately try to frame this story in a way that fuels more money being poured into the broken system rather than in a way to promote vouchers. Why? The short answer is control. When you have a voucher, you choose where you child goes and what they learn to a much larger extent. That is antithetical to journalists who would much rather your child be indoctrinated in a system that rejects God, promotes sex, "alternative lifestyles", and embraces tranny teachers.
Talk about Orwellian double-speak: the AP on Monday called the effort by some law professors to ban military recruitment on their campuses a "free-speech challenge" -- even though it was the law professors who wanted to ban the speech. (Hat tip to NR's The Corner.)
"The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that colleges that accept federal money must allow military recruiters on campus, despite university objections to the Pentagon's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on gays."
"Justices rejected a free-speech challenge from law schools and their professors who claimed they should not be forced to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances."
This was a dramatically liberal year for Oscar, but the more political winners at last night's Oscars didn't get pointed questions from the right. The news media's general feeling is to cheer movies for the "social good," and never imagine that the movies could be riddled with errors (Good Night and Good Luck), riddled with profanity (Crash), or just be assessed by critics as a lovably confusing in its conspiracy theorizing (Syriana).
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed George Clooney this morning about his Oscar victory speech on "Good Morning America" and asked benignly: "Was it a political speech, were you interjecting politics?" Clooney spoke diplomatically about a "portion" of America being on his side, and a portion were not. Clooney's claim that Hollywood was "out of touch" in all the good ways was underlined by ABC as they ran a clip of black actress Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar for the 1939 film "Gone With The Wind."
The Washington Times reports on Army Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who says the reports of Iraqi sectarian violence during a ten-day period have been "exaggerated."
"The overall levels of violence did not increase substantially as a result of the bombing" of the Golden Mosque, he said, which is in stark contrast to media propaganda portraying the opposite. "It took us a few days to sort our way through what we considered in a lot of cases to be exaggerated reports."
The media tried to hype violence on Iraqi Mosques, but "Gen. Casey said that in a reported 30 attacks on mosques, only two were severely damaged. Of eight mosques that were reported damaged, inspections showed only one had damage -- a broken window."
Last week’s Associated Press release of a video, taken just prior to Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in New Orleans last August, has generated a new round of second-guessing and finger pointing regarding who is to blame for the supposedly slow, poor response to this natural disaster. Falling under the fold was an in-depth cover story on this subject by an unlikely source, Popular Mechanics.
In its March issue, PM took on virtually all of the media myths and misnomers that were so drilled into the citizenry by press representatives that many have become part of the public psyche. Thankfully, its authors made it clear right in the first paragraph that they planned on pulling no punches:
“In the months since the storm, many of the first impressions conveyed by the media have turned out to be mistaken.”
How mistaken? Well, PM and its staff put together a list of seven myths concerning Katrina that have been purported by the media, and like a good mechanic, quickly isolated the flaws inherent in the press coverage while making much-needed repairs.
How does the Washington Post tackle the thorny problem of liberal Hollywood being so far out of the cultural and political mainstream? This is a touchy issue for WashPost liberals, since they are living in the same ideological neighborhood and know all the landmarks. One funny way was to avoid the L-word altogether. The front-page headline on the Sunday paper was "And This Year's Oscar Goes to Social Issues." And, then, almost automatically, came the snide sub-headline suggesting the rest of the country just isn't as wonderfully humane: "Hollywood Is Pushing Hot-Button Topics, but Does America Care?"
Give Katie Couric a Best Supporting Actress in the MSM production of "Doom & Gloom: the Iraq Story." Interviewing NBC military analyst Gen. Wayne Downing on this morning's Today Show, Couric was skeptical that Iraqi forces would ever be able to defend the country, underlined the view of a "vicious cycle" there, and darkly conjectured that civil war was only "a matter of time."
Couric noted reports that U.S. and British troops will pull out of Iraq by the spring of 2007, then stated: "The U.S. military denies those reports saying there is no time-table and U.S. troops will withdraw when the Iraqi forces can secure and defend that country."
At the 78th Academy Awards Sunday evening, actor George Clooney won the Oscar for best supporting actor. During his acceptance speech, Clooney admitted that Hollywood is out of touch. However, he said that this was a good thing, and actually had the gall to suggest that Hollywood is responsible for bringing attention to problems like civil rights and AIDS.
In what was a pretty lackluster evening with very little political references, instead of winning the award for best supporting actor, Clooney should have won for the most self-serving, pompous, and inane acceptance speech.
What follows is a transcript of the part of his speech dealing specifically with how wonderful Hollywood is, along with a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz and Expose the Left.