As Washington prepares for a new balance of power, there has been so much talk of “lame ducks” that you would be forgiven if you thought Vice President Cheney had gone hunting again. But the political phrase of the moment is actually derived not from the hunt for waterfowl, but for riches.
First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida, did a fabulous piece Tuesday on how terrorists are using websites like YouTube and MySpace to recruit, train, and send messages to their cadre (hat tip to our friend Joe Myers). Some of the transcript was posted at FirstCoastNews.com, and the absolutely must-see video is here:
It's a video showing a room full of children sharing their dreams. They are not excited about being doctors, lawyers or teachers. Instead, the children shout, "We are the nation of Hezbollah. I shall sacrifice my life for Allah."
A group of children in training to be a mujahideen, or holy warrior.
Online there are videos of those warriors. One suicide bomber announces he is readying himself to blow up a group of American soldiers.
Michelle Malkin writes in her syndicated column that journalists complain about "the Bush administration for stifling its free speech, endless court filings demanding classified and sensitive information from the military and intelligence agencies, and self-pitying media industry confabs bemoaning their hemorrhaging circulations."
But this is nothing compared to what other countries' journalists face.
Give thanks we don't live in Bangladesh, where you can be put on trial for writing columns supporting Israel and condemning Muslim violence....
Give thanks we don't live in Egypt, where bloggers have been detained by the government for criticizing Islam and exposing the apathy of Cairo police to sexual harassment of women...
Today's starter: With the congressional elections out of the way, the presidential race is starting to get more serious, at least on the Republican side where Mitt Romney said in an interview that it's a three-man race between John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and himself.
It seems that way at the moment but 2008 is still a long ways away. Who do you think are some of the dark horse candidates?
Oh, and how many of you are having trouble with making links, etc. now that we have different ads on the pages?
Update 13:34. I've taken down the ads. Too many performance issues for now.
Here's an interesting bit of irony: Knowledge of the media's ongoing fauxtography scandals has gotten so widespread that now entertainment shows are starting to make plots based on journalists faking the news. "CSI" recently ran an episode about it.
Wednesday's opinion section of The Washington Post carries a piece by Post columnist Eugene Robinson, a former Post reporter and editor of the Style section. Like clockwork, like reporter Paul Farhi yesterday, Robinson merges Michael "Kramer" Richards screaming the N-word at a black heckler with defeated Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" reference, alongside Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic rant:
Look at the two celebrity blow-ups together, and maybe throw in Sen. George Allen's "macaca" moment, too. One thing they teach us is that there are no unguarded moments anymore. Richards's outburst was filmed by someone with a tiny digital camera, Allen's by a young man with a video camera. Footage of their indiscretions and facsimiles of Gibson's drunken-driving police report were disseminated to the world within hours via the Internet. You can't even run anymore, much less hide.
It's 5 AM in Qatar, where we landed an hour or so ago. Yes, the Iraq portion of this trip is over. Not without a few final twists and turns, naturally. We got into the Green Zone Monday night and camped out in a media lounge. Standing outside in the parking lot the following morning, a very sharp explosion could be heard, but that's not enough to stop people from going about their business here.
Tommy Clarkson, host par excellence and official at the Gulf Reconstruction Division of the Army Corps of Engineers had arranged interviews with a number of senior GRD folks. There is a major disconnect between the way the reconstruction story is reported in the MSM and the reality on the ground. Much of the MSM focus is on the fact that Baghdad residents enjoy fewer hours of electricity now than before the war. That ignores the fact that, overall, electricity output has increased significantly and that Iraqis in other areas of the country enjoy much more daily power than before the war. During his reign, Saddam monopolized power for the capital, literally threatening engineers with death should there be an interruption. Power is now equitably shared across the country. There are also hundreds of major water, oil and other infrastructure projects that have been completed or are under construction.
One of the most extraordinary moments of the 2004 presidential campaign was when MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell went totally ballistic on one of John Kerry’s swift boat compatriots, John O’Neill, on the October 22, 2004, installment of “Scarborough Country.” Roughly two years later, O’Donnell was once again a guest of Joe Scarborough, and this time the object of his disaffection was Republican strategist Terry Holt (video here).
The discussion centered on Rep. Charlie Rangel’s recent suggestion that the draft should be reinstated. After playing a video clip of the Congressman, quite a melee ensued wherein O’Donnell called Holt and basically every person in the Administration that hasn’t served in the military including the President's daughters “cowardly warmongers”:
Tuesday’s Post carried a strangely typical story on polygamy today in the bottom right-hand corner of the front page. The headline was "Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society." Reporter John Pomfret’s story did not offer both sides of the polygamy debate. It aired quite a bit of assertion from polygamy practitioners in Utah, matched only by local law enforcement officials that have largely accepted the practice, prosecuting only crimes around the edges, like sex with child brides. The story features no outraged feminists at the patriarchy in these relationships. There are no religious authorities or academics to take exception to it, or even non-religious critics like Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online. In short, it’s a thinly disguised testimonial packet.
Compare this article to the front-page story Alan Cooperman and Peter Whoriskey wrote last week on the churches maintaining their teachings on homosexuality as a sin, headlined "3 Christian Groups Move to Condemn Gay Sex." That story was much more balanced, with religious traditionalists debating advocates of a Jesus of "radical hospitality" toward gays. Pomfret seems devoted to chronicling the inevitable acceptance of this new trend encroaching on traditional monogamous matrimony:
For most of the last year, Congressman John Murtha has been placed on a pedestal by the major media, painted in red, white, and blue hues as a “hawkish” Democrat who courageously declared we needed to “redeploy” (read: withdraw) from Iraq.
The oohs and aahs began last November. “All of Washington listened,” announced CBS’s Bob Schieffer, since “on military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential.” Murtha’s words “followed President Bush halfway around the world,” boasted NBC anchor Brian Williams. CNN’s Bill Schneider declared Murtha’s withdrawal mantra as the “Political Play of the Week,” suggesting it might turn out to be a tipping point just as delicious as Walter Cronkite’s call to get out of a “stalemate” in Vietnam.
Last Thursday I noted an I Want Media vote about who should be the 2006 Media Person of the Year. I asked for nominations for our own tally, and now that the choices are in, you can vote for who you think most impacted the media/country in the last year.
The choices: Al Franken, Katie Couric, Ann Coulter, Keith Olbermann, George Allen and Mark Foley, Tony Snow, Chris Wallace, Washington Post, Green Helmet Guy, and the Media.
If you have a "write in" candidate, include it in the comments section. Sorry, you can only vote once, this not being a Democratic primary.
Just in time for Thanksgiving, my colleague Julia Seymour has a few rainclouds to open up on the media's parade.
This time it's the media's overblown fear of inflation. Yep, it's time to put away the disco ball and the polyester.
All bets are off if Nancy Pelosi urges everyone to put on a sweater and crank down the thermostat, however.
Journalists worked themselves into a fright this spring as inflation rose, scaremongering with cries of “stagflation” and “recession.” But when the news came last week that the inflation “monster” wasn’t “rearing its ugly head,” the media could only whisper.
“I just tend to think that inflation is not something that has been kicked yet,” said CNN’s Allen Wastler on the August 19 “In the Money.”
“It’s one of those monsters, you want to stay out in front of it. The moment it’s past you – boom, you’re dead.”
The Washington Post just cannot leave "macaca" alone. In the middle of today's article about the racist N-word-screaming outburst of former Seinfeld star Michael Richards, and how it might ruin his career (such as it is), reporter Paul Farhi once again highlights the Post obsession/achievement:
"Other prominent people, such as Mel Gibson and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), have inflicted career-threatening wounds by making racially insensitive remarks in recent months."
I don't think it's fair to compare "macaca" to screaming the N-word at a heckler. But the Post has tried very hard to make the two words mean exactly the same thing, and they're not letting up, even after they defeated Allen:
Attacking Fox News is not an unusual tactic of the mainstream media, but on Tuesday’s Today, Matt Lauer began the show with a false claim about Fox News.
Matt Lauer: "But we begin this morning with the controversial story out of Fox News: The O.J. Simpson case. Fox News Corporation deciding to cut its losses and cancel that highly controversial project where he speaks out about those notorious murders."
The problem here: the Fox broadcast network, not Fox News, almost aired the interview with O.J. Simpson. He did accurately call it Fox later in the broadcast but, never issued a correction. Meanwhile, on Fox and Friends, Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson questioned Bill O’Reilly on whether the mainstream media will tie Fox News in with the O.J. Simpson interview.
This one is too delicious, folks, and definitely requires drinking vessels to be placed at a safe distance (hat tip to our friend Steve Malzberg). As reported by TMZ on Monday, country singer Clay Aiken was sitting in for Regis Philbin on Friday’s “Live with Regis and Kelly.” At one point, Aiken tried to “hush” co-host Kelly Ripa by putting his hand over her mouth. Ripa wasn’t pleased, and said, “Oh that's a no-no... I don't know where your hands have been.” (Video here)
Well, TMZ is reporting that on Monday’s “The View,” Rosie O’Donnell took exception with what Ripa did, claiming that it was a homophobic remark given Aiken’s presumed sexual orientation (Video here):
This morning, NBC’s Today led the broadcast by highlighting Fox’s decision not to air their smarmy interview with O. J. Simpson about how he “would” have killed his wife “if” he had committed the crime, which, of course, most Americans believe he did, only to escape a double-murder conviction in a circus of a trial. But while NBC seemed to be enjoying Fox’s pain today, back in the ’90s, their Today show was perhaps O.J.’s most sympathetic venue on TV.
This morning, co-host Matt Lauer talked to the late Nicole Brown’s sister Denise in both the 7am and 7:30am half-hours about the awfulness of Fox’s deal with O.J., which News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch scuttled on Monday, saying it was an “ill-considered project” — perhaps the understatement of the decade.
Also interesting to see is Katie Couric on last night's "CBS Evening News" where a audio glitch made the show end about two minutes sooner than it should've, forcing Couric to stand awkwardly on the set.
There's an interesting catch to a suit wherein a group of day laborers won a lawsuit alleging discrimination and intimidation because a Long Island town attempted to prevent them from finding day work.
They filed the suit as "John Does" and many of the MSM articles leave that fact out - Forbes has it. Isn't that an unusual, if not telling aspect of the story? You don't even have to identify yourself to get justice in America today? Because you might not be a citizen? I suppose anyone in the world can walk into an American court and allege discrimination, maybe al Qaeda will be next.
Six immigrant workers - all identified as John Doe for fear of retaliation by police or immigration authorities - had sought an injunction against what they called harassment, selective law enforcement and ethnic discrimination. They said the village violated their right to equal protection.
CBS told a federal court Monday that the government's new "zero tolerance" policy for indecent broadcasts is threatening to choke off free speech.
In its opening brief with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, CBS contends that the commission's policy "is flatly inconsistent with the bedrock principle that First Amendment freedoms require breathing space to survive."
The article continued (reader is cautioned that some of the profanity in question is present):
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a high-ranking member of the entertainment media publicly admonishing folks in his own industry. Yet, according to a Reuters article Monday (h/t to Drudge), one of the most successful movie producers and directors of all time is speaking out against excessive violence on television:
Steven Spielberg urged TV networks to be mindful of what they show on the air because of the effect it might have on children, and said programs like "CSI" and "Heroes" were too gruesome.
"Today we are needing to be as responsible as we can possibly be, not just thinking of our own children but our friends' and neighbors' children," Spielberg told an audience Monday at the International Emmys board of directors meeting here.
With the recent racial slur outburst from "Seinfeld" actor, Michael Richards, we will have to pay close attention to see if Richards gets a softer treatment than Mel Gibson did with his own racial slur laden rant earlier in the year.
But, if this AP report is any indication, it seems sure that "Kramer" won't be as maligned as Mel Gibson.
On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" segment to attack President Bush's recent contention, in response to a question about what lessons could be learned from the Vietnam War, that "the task in Iraq is going to take a while," and that "we'll succeed unless we quit." The Countdown host started off by charging that President Bush, "who permitted the 'Swift-Boating' of not one but two American heroes of that war," exhibits an "avoidance of reality" that "is going to wind up killing more Americans." He also dismissed the Cold War-era domino theory, as well as Bush's linkage of Iraq to the war on terrorism, as "nonsense," and claimed that Vietnam is now prosperous because America pulled out. Olbermann: "The war machine of 1968 had this 'domino theory.' Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as 'the central front in the war on terror.'" More Olbermann: "That stable, burgeoning, vivid country you just saw there is there because we finally had the good sense to declare victory and get out! The domino theory was nonsense, sir. Our departure from Vietnam emboldened no one. Communism did not spread like a contagion around the world." Olbermann further contended that one lesson Bush should have learned from Vietnam is that "if you lie us into a war, your war and your presidency will be consigned to the scrap heap of history." (Transcript follows)
In his “Grapevine”segment on Monday night, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on how the Pentagon executive who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers lashed out at the news media, charging that on infrastructure progress made in Iraq “it's quite a heroic story maligned often by the news media." Hume relayed how “Dean Popps tells the Washington Times that when the Army Corps of Engineers arrived in Iraq, none of Baghdad's three sewage treatments worked, few towns had clean water, the 1950's era electrical system was falling part, and there were no primary health care facilities.” But now, “Popps says three years later the sewage system capacity increases by almost half a million cubic meters a day, power and water are much more widely accessible, and there are six new primary care facilities in the country with 66 more being built.” Yet, “Popps says reporters are often brought to some of the sites where this is happening, but he says positive stories rarely materialize."
With a headline sure to confuse any reader and/or cause more hate for the U.S.A., Reuters has proclaimed the U.S. as "unfriendly to visitors". What is their "proof"? A survey of how "rude" immigration officials are!
Somehow, in Reuters' mind, a rude immigration official makes a whole country "unfriendly". Apparently, Reuters is only too happy to conflate a harried immigration department -- no doubt one over taxed because of concerns over terrorism -- to the relative "unfriendliness" of everyone in that country.
The network morning shows noticed Indonesian Muslims protesting President Bush, but sadly, once again, they tended to sanitize out the extremists. In this case, protest leaders called for the execution of Bush, but the networks mostly offered Americans quotes from protesters saying they loved America, just hated the president. They left out what Agence France-Presse reported: a protest leader declared through a loudspeaker: "Kill him, kill him...the blood of George Bush is halal," meaning it was not a sin under Islam to kill him. "Not only is it halal, it is obligatory to kill him."
The networks seem to want the American audience to bite on the Democratic line that conservative policies make us unpopular around the world, when people would be much more agreeable under the sorry-we-didn’t-mean-to-be-a-superpower poses of a Gore, Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. Showing protesters who want to execute our president tend to ruin the line of the day. On NBC’s Today on Monday, Matt Lauer led off the show with a plug for their "Hello, Go Home" segment on Bush's visit. MRC’s Justin McCarthy found reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s selected protesters who stressed their love for America, and their hatred for Bush:
For the second time in less than two weeks, CNN has advised the Republican Party on how to succeed. During the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," reporter Bill Schneider informed the GOP that the way for them to recover from midterm losses is to imitate Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and embrace liberal policies:
While the rest of the press played up liberal-minded comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and brought up old and unsubstantiated claims about Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, Sanger finds a different anti-Bush angle, one he’s used before – the president’s evidently disturbing lack of curiosity about the world.
On Monday’s Today, NBC emphasized that Bush is still losing the War in Iraq, and is now losing key allies. Norah O’Donnell picked out sound bites from some of Bush’s allies so they would appear critical of the president and the war. O’Donnell added quotes from Senator John McCain, Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, and Prime Minister Tony Blair. The entire transcript is below.
Meredith Vieira: "Harry Truman called the presidency the loneliest job in the world and President Bush might agree with him these days. Now it appears he's losing some of his key supporters over the war in Iraq. NBC's Norah O'Donnell is at the White House with more. Good morning, Norah."