At roughly 11:00AM Eastern Time Wednesday, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration announced that for the second straight month, America saw below-average temperatures. As a result, regardless of how warm July was, it now appears unlikely that 2006 will surpass 1934 as the hottest year on record. Yet, a Google News search suggested that not one news agency bothered to report this announcement. Not one.
For those not in the media who might be interested (emphasis mine throughout):
For the second consecutive month, temperatures across the continental United States were cooler-than-average, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Drought conditions improved in some areas, but large parts of the nation remained in moderate to extreme drought. October ranked as the 12th wettest October when compared with historical precipitation records for the month.
CBS anchor Katie Couric on Wednesday night empathized with the plight of incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, as his wish to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq hits roadblocks. After a story by David Martin on testimony before the committee by General John Abizaid, chief of the Central Command, Couric ran a taped Q & A with Levin. She began with a very leading question: "Senator, were you as frustrated with General Abizaid's position today as John McCain and Hillary Clinton?" Levin expressed how he was similarly “frustrated” by Abizaid's “stay the course” position, leading Couric to empathize with his frustration: "So as the future Chairman of the Senate Arms Services Committee, where does that leave you, Senator Levin? I mean, what are your options? You have long advocated a phased withdrawal, but how are you going to make that happen? It seems almost impossible right now."
As the guest on Wednesday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Ted Koppel ribbed host Jon Stewart for not ridiculing President George W. Bush over his trip to Vietnam and then Koppel offered his own sharp-edged joke about it. Koppel scolded Stewart, "I'll tell you what I have been thinking: I can't believe you haven't done anything on George Bush in Vietnam." Koppel then delivered his wisecrack: “Thirty-five years ago, he joined the Texas Air National Guard to stay out of Vietnam. And now, he's going to Vietnam to stay out of Washington.” That generated loud applause and laughter from the audience in the Manhattan studio, as well as hearty laughter from Stewart, and Koppel chuckled at his own one-liner.
Seconds earlier, Koppel delivered another politically-loaded quip: "Remember the joke before -- it wasn't that much of a joke -- before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, we used to say in Washington, 'we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, we still have the receipts.'" That prompted Stewart to express bafflement with why Koppel's news agenda isn't shared more widely: "This is the thing that always befuddles me and you and I have this conversation all the time: Why isn't that joke the lead of every news story about Iraq? You know, the context that we sold them all those weapons, why isn't that more prominent in all this?" (Partial transcript follows)
Once gain, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann seems entertained by the thought of conservatives being shot. Less than five months after depicting the image of Rush Limbaugh as the target of gunfire during his Countdown show, on Wednesday's show Olbermann included a joke about shooting Dick Cheney during the regular "Top Three Sound Bites" segment of the show. One of the featured clips was from the Tuesday November 14 Daily Show with Jon Stewart in which Stewart asked his guest, former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, whom he would have "accidentally shot in the face" if he had been elected Vice President, to which Edwards responded "Dick Cheney." Notably, just one night earlier, Olbermann had spent an entire segment discussing whether conservative commentators had inspired a man to mail fake Anthrax letters to public figures, and to make other threats, a la King Henry's declaration "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest," referring to Archbishop Thomas Becket. (Transcript follows)
A quick glance back at the first post-election Notable Quotables newsletter in 1994 carries a pile of quotes that bear no resemblance to the new-day-dawning tone of 2006. There was a lot of bitterness, and some wistful looks forward:
"1994 Isn't Forever: Despite Sweeping Gains for Republicans, History Suggests the Power is Temporary" -- New York Times headline over story by Washington Bureau Chief R.W. Apple, November 10.
A classic liberal-media reaction came very late on Election Night as CNN's Mary Tillotson predicted that 1994's results could be seen as a dreadful disaster for the Republicans in 1996:
As John Murtha appeared as a guest on Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews questioned the Democratic Congressman about the infamous FBI tape from the ABSCAM scandal in which undercover FBI agents talked with Murtha about the possibility of bribery, with Murtha having suggested to them the possibility that he would be "interested" at a later date. After pressing Murtha on what his words meant with Murtha contending that he was just trying to acquire investment for his Congressional district, Matthews ended up asking him if it was "just a way of finessing your way out of the conversation," to which Murtha agreed before Matthews dropped the line of questioning. (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday’s "Imus in the Morning," Newsweek editor Jon Meacham opined that George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, had been vindicated by history. He suggested that Newsweek runs stories based on partisan preferences, i.e. we helped defeat President Bush in 1992, but in hindsight, George H.W. Bush was right. Meacham also revealed that journalists often make hasty judgements and treat those judgements as "infallible." In the same segment, Meacham admitted that journalists are wrong. Meacham offers as an example the coverage of President Bush 41 during the 1992 campaign and before:
"What's important is journalistically, one of the mistakes we make is we kick people in the shins and we tend to make instant judgments and act as though our judgment is infallible and absolute. It’s not. See ‘wimp factor,’ see the mistakes and the misperceptions of the first Bush at the time when everybody was saying he was out of touch and was no good. Now we see with hindsight that he’d done pretty well."
"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
Prior to the midterms, CNN ran a number of stories on falling gas prices and a possible conspiracy between the Republican Party and "Big Oil" to lower costs before the elections. Each piece hinted at a dark plot as the reason for declining prices. Well, the elections are over; Democrats are in power, and now America is in ‘a recovery.’ Introducing a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien cheerily discussed the upcoming holiday travel season:
Miles O’Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides.‘American Morning’s Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."
Reporter Dan Lothian’s story focused on how these low prices are allowing Americans to buy SUVs again:
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."
It was yet another overblown fear that the media latched onto but have not revisited since Democrats won last week's election.
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute, we don't forget so easily.
Check out the story by my colleague Julia Seymour over at businessandmedia.org.
Now that the votes have been cast and counted, Republicans
lost, and the silence of the national media has been deafening.
The idea was that somehow the company Diebold had programmed the machines to let Republicans win. The theory, perpetuated by left-wingers posting on Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and Bev Harris’ book, “Black Box Voting,” was embraced by all three broadcast networks, as well as CNN and MSNBC.
Al Jazeera English launches today, but the fledgling cable network is having trouble finding U.S. cable providers who are willing to carry it. According to the New York Sun:
The long-delayed sister channel to Al-Jazeera is set to make its debut this morning, but the new network's ability to build an audience in America is in doubt because major cable and satellite providers here have declined to carry the new television offering.
The new network — which, in a last-minute move, has apparently changed its name from Al-Jazeera International to Al-Jazeera English — announced its distribution outlets yesterday and proclaimed that it will have access to between 70 million and 80 million homes worldwide. However, in America, no cable operators have reported plans to carry the Qatar-based channel, and the two largest satellite providers have also opted out. Al-Jazeera English will be available through the Internet and a satellite company specializing in international television feeds.
Can John McCain land enough "right hand punches" to "satisfy conservatives," and how is the 2008 presidential race unfolding? These are two of the topics raised on Wednesday’s "Early Show" in the "Capitol Bob" segment with Bob Schieffer. During the segment, Schieffer came to the obvious conclusion that the Democrat nominee will either be Hillary Clinton or someone else, and the Republican nominee will either be John McCain or someone else. However, co-host Hannah Storm alluded to one of Senator McCain’s weaknesses and humorously opined:
"Alright, we'll see if he's [McCain] able to throw enough right-hand punches in that race to satisfy the conservatives, right."
In mid-August, Sen. George Allen used the word "Macaca" to describe an Indian-American staffer for his Democrat opponent who’d been filming his campaign appearances. Little did he realize that this would cost him his Senate seat and any hopes for the presidency in 2008.
Local liberal elites long have believed the Washington Times to be an oafishly right-wing rag while viewing the Washington Post as the dictionary definition of detachment and straight-forward reporting. The 2006 campaign proves this to be nonsense. When it came to Allen, the Post completely lost its bearings, treating Allen with left-wing aggression and loathing, as if he ripped out the fingernails of small children every night as a giggly hobby. Today Allen’s political scalp hangs on their newsroom wall.
This morning CNN reports on its Web site that Mississippi Senator Trent Lott has been elected GOP whip, the No. 2 spot in the next Congress.
Included on the site was a photograph of Senator Lott with an upraised arm, mildly reminiscent of a Nazi salute. Surely a more flattering picture was available.
CNN doesn't waste any time in getting to the really relevant part of the story. In the very first sentence, it mentions Mr. Lott was "ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive."
This sort of petty bias is what we've come to expect from CNN, which still audaciously claims it's "the most trusted name in news."
Today's starter is a delightful bit of media hypocrisy: "Movie production tops hotels, aerospace, and apparel and semiconductor
manufacturing in traditional air pollutant emissions in Southern
California, according to the UCLA study, initially prepared for the
Integrated Waste Management Board. The industry is probably second only
to petroleum refineries, for which comparable data were not available."
First, the United Nations publishes a children’s book to ignite fears in the world’s youth over global warming being the new bogeyman. Next, the Secretary General tells an environmental conference that the world’s developed nations should address climate change as seriously as they do weapons of mass destruction. Sounds like a Trey Parker and Matt Stone theme, doesn't it?
Well, hold on to your wallets sports fans, because Kofi Annan is on tour again spreading fear and gloom to the world largely on the backs of American taxpayers. As reported in an Agence France Presse article Wednesday (emphasis mine throughout): “UN chief Kofi Annan demanded that world leaders give climate change the same priority as they did to wars and to curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”
Predictably, Annan didn’t miss an opportunity to suggest that this is all the West’s fault:
The Washington Post, this morning, is demonstrating that they aren't biased in favor of liberals, nosirree. What, just attack Republicans? Us? No way! This fascinating column by Ruth Marcus, prominently positioned on page A21, demonstrates that they aren't going to just roll over on corruption just because it's a Democrat being talked about! Nope, Marcus is actively going after Jack Murtha, going so far as to say that "On its own, Murtha's ... conduct is disqualifying."
"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.
After last night's slight detour, we headed out toward Habbaniyah today, but not before we were given a windshield tour of the huge Al Taqaddum Marine base. We were passing by some absolutely desolate, petrified sand dunes when, almost miraculously it seemed, we saw a huge body of water - Habbiniyah Lake, so vast that even from some elevation we couldn't see the other side. Along the way we saw remnants of Saddam's air force that never made it into the air in Desert Storm.
The trip was made by conventional SUV till we got to a bridge that ties Al Taqaddum to the Habbiniyah base but that is not secured. We were met by two Marines in an armored Humvee who gave us a quick lift to the other side.
Let's trot out the AP's deepest, most tiresome wish that Iraq is the new Vietnam once more. And THIS time, all it takes is a Bush state visit to the country once enmeshed in internecine warfare to cause the AP to trot out all the old claims and prosaic comparisons.
In a long, presumptuous story Jennifer Loven, our intrepid AP reporter, makes all sorts of wild comparisons making her piece -- titled Bush Vietnam Trip Revives Iraq 'Quagmire'-- almost a parody of itself.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's recent acknowledgment that the war in Iraq was comparable to the Viet Cong's psychologically devastating Tet Offensive in 1968 was hardly the first time a parallel has been drawn between the Iraq and Vietnam conflicts.
Questions about a "quagmire" have haunted the president's Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad.
We helo'ed out of Fallujah last night but not before having the chance to spend time with the CO, Colonel Bristol. A Marine's Marine, he was the man who created the martial arts program that we had witnessed yesterday. He has a quiet-but-powerful force field around him, a passionate belief in the Marines, their mission and our ability to win and to train Iraqis to stand up for themselves - given the time.
We were on our way to Habbiniyah base but on a stop along the way we were mistakenly waved off the helo and got stranded at another base. No problem. Caught z's at the tent city, good showers and chow in the morning, and we'll be convoying the rest of the way in a little while.
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann devoted an entire segment (video available on Countdown Web site) to discussing links between a man arrested for domestic terrorism and "far right-wing blogs," describing the man as a "gushing online admirer" of conservative commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter, as the Countdown host suggested conservatives had inspired the man to commit terrorism. Olbermann also compared past actions by Malkin (see Malkin's blog for details) to "the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket." Olbermann: "There were the students at the University of California in Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus, Malkin posted their addresses and other personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' 'I never told anybody to do anything to them.' This is the problem, right? I mean, you can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently, Ann Coulter has done that, or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way the way Malkin has." (Transcript follows)
So, just imagine you were a hot executive producer in Hollywood with a notch on your belt like winning an Emmy for the hit series “The West Wing.” Further envision you were a regular panelist on the top political talk show in the nation, “The McLaughlin Group.” And, to put a cherry on top of the cake, you were the former Chief of Staff for the Senate Finance Committee. Would your ultimate goal be for a not so adoring nation to think you were Keith Olbermann’s brain? And, let’s say it was, would you actually admit it?
Well, that’s exactly what MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell did at HuffnPuff Tuesday, and regardless of how tongue-in-cheek he was trying to be, it seems that such an accomplished individual, irrespective of his politics, could have loftier goals than being the brain for one of the most despicable personalities on television.
Yet, there it was, for all to see, right in the middle of Larry practically dislocating a shoulder to pat himself on the back for predicting the Democrats would take back both chambers of Congress in last Tuesday’s elections:
A day after CBS's Katie Couric delivered a softball interview with Democratic Congressman John Murtha, in which she skipped questions about his ethical improprieties, painted him as a victim of attacks after he called for withdrawal from Iraq and cued him up, “Did you feel vindicated last Tuesday?" (NewsBusters item), NBC Nightly News looked at Murtha's possible abuse of his office. NBC's story by Lisa Myers, however, aired only after Democrats favoring Steny Hoyer over Murtha for House Majority Leader, raised Murtha's past. Myers cited how Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi promised “the most honest and open Congress in history,” but Myers noted how “some Democrats and ethics experts say that promise was undercut when Pelosi endorsed this man, John Murtha, for the number two leadership position in the House." Referring to liberal speech suppression activist Fred Wertheimer, Myers relayed how “critics claim Murtha has amassed power in part by handing out taxpayer money to special interests, including to clients of defense lobbyists who give him big campaign contributions." In addition, Myers raised ABSCAM as she showed 1980 video of Murtha saying he was “not interested -- at this point” in a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent.
Myers concluded with Murtha's “Swift Boat” defense: "Murtha has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and says these charges amount to Swift-Boating, the same kind of unfair charges that helped defeat John Kerry. Murtha also now supports ethics reform.”
According to CNN’s Bill Schneider, Americans, hungry for change, have no problem with tax increasing Democrats. During Tuesday’s "Situation Room," the veteran reporter described a new poll that, according to him, demonstrated the confidence Americans have for the new Democratic majority. In the segment, he dismissed one of President Bush’s warnings this way:
Bill Schneider: "Despite President Bush's dire warnings, people don't think congressional Democrats will do anything to weaken national security. President Bush also warned-"
George Bush: "The Democrats are going to raise your taxes. No, I know they don't want you to know it."
Schneider: "Guess what? People know it but they voted for the Democrats anyway. Which means they must really want change. In the ‘USA Today’/Gallup poll, the number of Americans who call themselves Republicans is sharply down. But the number of Democrats hardly changed. More people are calling themselves independents. They're waiting to see what the Democrats deliver."
NBC anchor Brian Williams didn't exactly strike a tone of toughness with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she was elected, asking her softball questions on NBC Nightly News about what "drain the swamp" meant, and what she would say to the president, and how "history was riding along with her," and what her thoughts were on her family at the historic moment.
But twelve years ago tonight, one week after Newt Gingrich's big win, on November 15, 1994, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw hammered Gingrich in a snide and negative ten-minute "Dateline NBC" hit piece. Brokaw pushed every negative button. Gingrich had a "long streak" of "casually reckless" remarks. He admitted "he smoked pot" and "got a marriage deferment" to avoid service in Vietnam. He went to first wife Jackie's hospital room "the day after her cancer surgery" to discuss divorce terms. He made a "very ominous" charge that FDA chief David Kessler threatened to ruin businesses. And his "well-heeled admirers," called "Newt Incorporated," showed he was already ethically compromised, since voters would think donors "were trying to buy his heart if not his vote, at the least."
From time to time, network news personalities betray their ideological sympathies by lending their fame and glamour to public events for liberal causes. On Tuesday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos and his wife Alexandra Wentworth are hosting a Washington awards dinner for the Children's Defense Fund, the liberal group which his boss Hillary Clinton used to serve as chair of the Board of Directors before becoming First Lady. CDF was an aggressive left-wing force opposed to welfare reform, even during the Clinton years. From the press release:
On Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Children's Defense Fund will host its 2006 Annual Beat the Odds Awards Dinner to honor five Washington, D.C. area high school seniors who have overcome tremendous adversity to demonstrate academic excellence and give back to their communities. Comedian Alexandra Wentworth and ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos will emcee the event at the Capital Hilton Hotel and actress Renee Zellweger will serve as award presenter. The event is sponsored by the Freddie Mac Foundation.
Former White House reporter (now columnist) Helen Thomas was interviewed by the Washington Post's Express newspaper (the free one you can read on the bus or train). Predictably, Helen thought that democracy has now prevailed in America, since democracy and Democrats are interchangeable terms:
EXPRESS: Did this past election start to show that? THOMAS: I thought the election proved that democracy works. People finally get the message. I think they're fed up with the war and all the torture and all the other things that have been attached to [the United States].
The fauxtography scandal that characterized reporting of the Israeli-Hezbollah war continues. Charles Johnson at little green footballs reports that, according to the photographer who took a dramatic picture that ran in Time and US News & World Report, editors at Time deliberately changed the caption to slant the story against Israel. The caption claimed that the picture showed an Israeli plane burning after being shot down. It actually showed a fire at a Lebanese army base caused by a ground to ground missile that misfired after Israeli bombing.
What neither magazine chose to report is that the presence of the missile and launcher hidden in a civilian truck on the army base is a clear indication of collusion between the Lebanese army and the terrorist group Hezbollah.
Appearing on Monday's edition of the "The Colbert Report," Dan Rather promoted his new HDNet investigative series by touting an ability to report "quality news with integrity." The small cable channel will premiere "Dan Rather Reports" on November 14. The show will feature the ex-CBS anchor who famously left his network after overseeing a segment that included forged documents used to attack President Bush. Amazingly, when talking with Comedy Central's Colbert, Rather touted his reputation in Bob Dole-style third person:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, let me ask you something. Now, the show is called ‘Dan Rather Reports.’ Um, what is the show about? Like, what is Dan Rather reporting?"
Dan Rather: "Dan Rather is reporting, hopefully, quality news with integrity. I hope it will be news with guts and spine."
For the second day in a row, ABC’s Diane Sawyer questioned a guest as to whether the American voters are either secretly "more racist" or "more sexist" when they cast their ballots. During an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on Tuesday’s Good Morning America, Sawyer inquired:
Sawyer: "...Ninety percent of Americans say race and gender make absolutely no difference in their vote in the polls. I asked Senator Obama yesterday if he believes it, and he thinks it's case by case. Let me ask you, do you think that there is secret sexism, secret, secret genderism in this country?"
Of course, the liberal columnist agreed with Sawyer’s premise that American society is sexist, but asserted that it is not, in fact, a secret:
Maureen Dowd: "Oh, I don't think it's, I don't think it's very secret. I'm not sure we've gotten so much farther along than with Ferraro, where she didn't get any guys in the south...I do think there is obviously racism and sexism, but I think that these are both two extraordinary candidates [Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama] who, you know, might be able to triumph over some of that, but we'll see."
Sawyer: "More sexism than racism, racism than sexism?"