In a report that is supposed to be about General David Petraeus and his efforts to pacify Iraq by commanding the forces in president Bush's Iraq surge, The New York Times speculates instead about his state of mind and generally tries to tear him down. Times writer John Burns seems to be putting in a bid for his own late night psychic TV show by being able to read the General's mind and divining that he has "flagging spirits" and that he is "rueful." Instead of a serious news report, Burns gives us speculation and a mystic's interpretation.
The most egregious paragraph in the story is the second.
Pressing the talk button on his headset, the slightly built, 54-year-old general, the top American commander in Iraq, said glimpses of the normal life that have survived the war’s horrors have helped to boost his own flagging spirits, especially on days when signs of battlefront progress are offset by new bombings with mass casualties, the starkest measure of continuing insurgent power across Iraq.
Did you notice the lack of quote marks in that paragraph? It is a sure bet that Petraeus never said he had "flagging spirits." More likely, Petraeus pointed to those signs of "normal life" to reveal to Burns that such signs are good signs of an Iraqi people just yearning to live life without all the strife. It is more likely that Petraeus was merely trying to impress upon writer Burns the resilience and strength of the Iraqi people. Yet, Burns interprets this to be a revelation of Petraeus' "flagging spirits" instead because it fits in better with the New York Times' pessimistic opposition to the surge.
Reporting on the resignation of presidential political adviser Karl Rove, ABC's World News on Monday night absurdly blamed Karl Rove for the ads from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and featured John Kerry's condemnation of Rove as all three broadcast network evening shows castigated Rove for his criticism of how Democrats want to coddle terrorists and highlighted his “leaking” of Valerie Plame's name. ABC's David Wright cited Rove's “political ju-jitzu” in “turning opponents' strengths against them.” With a Swift Boat ad clip on screen, Wright described a “sustained attack on John Kerry's war record, an audacious move considering Bush's Vietnam War record was weak.” Wright contended that Rove sometimes went “too far,” such as when “he accused the Democrats of offering therapy and understanding to our attackers. 9/11 families asked him to stop.” Rounding out Rove's offenses, Wright asserted that “he's been on the defensive over the leaking of a CIA agent's name as political payback against her husband, and for his part in the fired U.S. attorneys scandal.” Following Wright's report, anchor Charles Gibson showcased how Kerry “said he orchestrated a political strategy 'that promised to unite Americans but instead left us more divided than [ever] before.'”
On the CBS Evening News, which found the oldest video of Rove -- from 1972 -- Jim Axelrod stressed how “Rove survived five grand jury appearances during the Valerie Plame CIA leak case without being indicted. He's currently defying congressional subpoenas to testify about the fired U.S. attorneys.” Axelrod maintained Rove “lost some of his luster last year when painting the Democrats weak on terror and the Iraq war backfired, and the GOP lost the House and Senate.” NBC's Kelly O'Donnell recalled how “he enraged Democrats” by “accusing them of weakness after 9/11.”
When a CBS News poll in July found 73 percent believed the surge of troops in Iraq was making the situation “worse” or having “no impact,” the CBS Evening News led with that number. But on Monday, when a new CBS poll discovered that percent had fallen 12 points to 61 percent, as the percent who think the surge is making the situation “better” jumped ten points from 19 to 29 percent, CBS gave it 12 seconds 20 minutes into the newscast. “Major attacks decline in Iraq: Military credits troop increase, civilian tipsters,” declared the headline at the top of Monday's USA Today front page. Katie Couric, however, ignored that report and, after briefly relaying the new poll number, couldn't resist highlighting “one thing that hasn't changed, two-thirds say that, overall, things are still going badly in Iraq.”
Couric had led the July 18 CBS Evening News: “In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse.” On Monday, she acknowledged: “Americans are starting to come around on that troop surge in Iraq. In our CBS News poll out tonight, 29 percent say the surge is making things better. That's a ten point increase since July.” It's doubtful the ten percent who have come around are consumers of CBS or other mainstream media outlets which concentrate on the negative.
Chris Matthews' "Hardball" producers let the host down, as neither Sen. Pat Leahy or Rep. Henry Waxman accepted Matthews' invitation to grill Karl Rove on tonight's 5pm edition of Hardball. However that didn't stop Matthews from taking a few shots of his own at the President's adviser, as he called Rove a "bum," and sarcastically commented on Rove's genius as he greeted viewers of the August 13th edition of "Hardball" this way:
Matthews: "Can President Bush think without the man they call his brain? What about all those great ideas like dividing the country over Iraq and leaving New Orleans to drop into the sea? A country without Karl Rove calling the shots? Let's fear for the Republic. Let's play Hardball."
The New York Times' reliably pro-illegal immigrant reporter Julia Preston, fresh from using a survey compiled by a (unlabeled) Hillary presidential pollster to make a pro-illegal immigrant argument, returned to the beat Saturday with "Farmers Call Crackdown On Illegal Workers Unfair," which located another odd angle to defend amnesty for illegals -- it will hurt agribusiness.
"Facing the prospect of major layoffs of farmworkers during harvest season, growers and lawmakers from agricultural states spoke in dire terms yesterday about new measures by the Bush administration to crack down on employers of illegal immigrants.
"'This is not just painful, this is death to the American farmer,' Maureen Torrey, who runs a family dairy and vegetable farm in Elba, N. Y., said in a telephone interview.
As Congress debates ways to combat climate change, a leaked internal briefing to officials in Great Britain (PDF available here) showed members of that government backtracking on renewable energy targets set forth by the European Union and agreed upon by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
As reported by England's Guardian Monday (emphasis added throughout, h/t Benny Peiser):
In contrast to the government's claims to be leading the world on climate change, officials within the former Department of Trade and Industry have admitted that under current policies Britain would miss the EU's 2020 target of 20% energy from renewables by a long way. And their suggestion that "statistical interpretations of the target" be used rather than new ways to reach it has infuriated environmentalists.
"Statistical interpretations" is a clever way of saying "cooking the books":
Julie Chen followed Barbara Walters’ lead in endorsing a global warming alarmist film, this time on Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming documentary, "The 11th Hour." The August 13 edition of "The Early Show" ran an unchallenged piece on DiCaprio’s film, then this exchange between co-hosts Harry Smith and Julie Chen.
CHEN: He has also turned his official website into an eco-site. News about his latest movies is posted side by side, with updates from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. And to see how you can help protect the environment, log on to our website at CBSNews.com.
HARRY SMITH: And what was your impression?
CHEN: Oh he was very sweet, and--oh of him or the movie? Gotta go green.
Don’t the airlines have plenty of money for extra food and passenger perks? Oh wait, they’ve been in bankruptcy.
Reporter Randall Pinkston’s “CBS Evening News” story August 12 charged that airlines should be providing better service to passengers, citing “torturous delays” and “forcing passengers to board when they know the plane will be sitting on the tarmac,” both problems rooted in an out-of-date air traffic control system.
Aviation reporter and analyst Jim Tilmon suggested that airlines should provide passengers with a “designated parking area” with water and food served until the airline knows that the plane will be ready to take off.
Promoting a new study that claims the longevity of Americans has fallen way behind other countries like France and Australia, "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira offered an explanation that would've made Hillary Clinton and Michael Moore smile - lack of health insurance. After subsitute-host David Gregory noted that the tiny country of Andorra fared better in the survey, with their citizens living an average of 83.5 years compared to America's 77.9 years, Vieira piped up: "They say part of the reason is because so many Americans don't have health insurance."
The following exchange occurred in the 8:30am half-hour of the August 13th, "Today" show:
“Crashing” stock market? “Legalized gambling”? ABC’s “Good Morning America” berated the stock market for trampling on a supposed individual right to a mortgage.
Chris Cuomo’s August 13 story on a couple who had their mortgage pulled due the recent “drama on Wall Street” started like this:
“To a certain extent the stock market has always been a form of legalized gambling, where Wall Street tries to cash in on bets made on the right companies. But for many financial institutions, the chips were the mortgages of hard-working American families, in danger of losing their homes, or now never getting a chance to live the American dream.”
I saw this yesterday but didn't work up anything on it. Basically it's a lame Style section front-pager from Sunday that fixates on how dull/boring/lame/stupid-sounding the name "Fred" is, and what that means for presumptive GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
Fortunately Myra Langerhas of "Snarking Dawg" worked up a snarky blog post and so I thought I'd share that with you. Below is the relevant excerpt from Myra's August 12 entry "What's in a name?"
Myra began by quoting the first seven grafs of staff writer Monica Hesse's August 12 article and then laid out swipe at the author's biases and decidedly liberal cosmopolitan tastes, like joining a bunch of lesbians in "crashing" a "straight bar.":
The screaming left is always going on about the lives that will be lost from the global warming boogeyman, yet I can't find a single newspaper willing to confront the seven lives that may be lost on Wednesday because of it. You may recall how Clinton/Gore EPA regulations forced NASA to switch to a freon-free foam, one that doesn't stick to the tanks, one that causes up to 11 times more damage to the life-saving thermal tiles, all in an effort to make the libs feel better about flying their personal jets across the globe. Ever since then we've had scare after tragedy every time a Shuttle launches.
A cursory look at Google News shows that the brave and enterprising journalists from American news organizations are completely unwilling to even mention this important story. It makes me wonder what Adolph Ochs, the publisher of the New York Times who created the journalistic oath to cover the news "without fear or favor", would think of the state of journalism today. Show me the journalist with the courage to look the families of these astronauts in the face and tell them the science has already been decided.
Talking like a Democratic congressman eager to get Karl Rove's scalp, Chris Matthews seemed to be urging Democrats to grill the President's adviser on the "witness chair." On this morning's Today show, analyzing Rove's announcement that he'll be resigning at the end of the month, the host of MSNBC's "Hardball," declared: "Well you have to wonder about his exposure now because he's used executive privilege to protect himself from Pat Leahy on the Judiciary committee and Congressman Henry Waxman, both hot to trot to get him in a witness chair."
Last week's revelation by Climate Audit's Steve McIntyre of a serious mistake and subsequent changes made by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in the temperature history of America has created quite a debate in the new media.
While conservative bloggers were quick to point out the hypocrisy regarding the lack of an official announcement from GISS chief James Hansen as well as the possible significance to the entire global warming debate, alarmists such as RealClimate and TNR's The Plank viewed McIntyre's discovery and GISS's alterations less than earth shattering.
With that in mind, McIntyre published a response at Anthony Watts' "Watts Up With That?" Saturday (Climate Audit is undergoing a server change) with his take on the issue (emphasis added throughout):
Is it just me, or did the New York Times just drop a bombshell?
By the headline of its editorial this morning, Wrong Way Out of Iraq, and its introductory paragraphs -- about how the British model of withdrawing to bases in Basra hasn't worked, I was sure we were headed for a demand for total, rapid withdrawal. When suddenly came this conclusion:
The United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq.
The left-wing AFL-CIO union labor and Human Rights Campaign gay rights forums with Democratic presidential candidates held last week “suggest to me that the Democratic base is really the middle American base now,” former Time magazine Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Margaret Carlson declared on Sunday's Meet the Press. During the roundtable, Carlson, now a columnist for Bloomberg News and Washington Editor of The Week magazine, asserted that an “amendment to discriminate against gays” is not politically viable and “as the middle class feels in trouble, the labor position becomes a majority position.” She contended that “the person who won” the AFL-CIO “debate was the steel worker who stood up and said, 'I worked for 36 years and every morning I sit across from my wife, and I say' -- to the steel company -- 'why don't have I health care and why don't I have a pension?' They're bewildered by what happened.”
Word came Sunday that entertainment industry titan Merv Griffin passed away at age 82. Back in October of 2003, when CBS planned to air a derogatory mini-series about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Reagans, Griffin went onto MSNBC to denounce CBS as “cowardly” for belittling Ronald Reagan and distorting his record when the former President (who would die eight months later) was on his deathbed. Thanks to controversy over the movie, fueled in part by a letter from the MRC to all advertisers urging them to review the movie before placing ads and to consider what their customers would think of their support for such a disparaging portrait, CBS moved the movie to its Showtime pay cable movie channel.
Folks that watched Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate between former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tennessee) and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas might have witnessed the final transformation of the Kossack leader from Netroots chief to Democrat Party operative.
Ignoring the actual lack of substance in the discussion, one thing was made impeccably clear: Markos is now fully ensconced in today's Democrat Party, while Ford and his centrist DLC are persona non grata.
By no means does that validate Moulitsas' absurd claims that Kossacks and Netroots members represent the center of American politics as reported here and here. However, the inanities and hypocrisies uttered by Moulitsas Sunday could easily have been stated with a straight face by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).
For instance, read the following nonsensical assertion made by Markos if you have the stomach for it, and ask yourself how many of the current Democrat leaders and presidential candidates could have said the exact same thing (video available here):
Black Entertainment Television has been playing what is being called a Public Service Announcement created by a rapper named Bomani "D'mite" Armah. It is in cartoon form and made in the Rapper music video style. However, it contains some very offensive language even as the underlying message is one encouraging children to read by telling them to read a "mother****ing book, N***er." It's a mixed message, indeed. Do we need to encourage kids to read by cursing at them every other word in a song aired to them on a black centric television station? Is this the proper type of work that should be seen on BET?
The thing begins in a school auditorium with bored kids looking on. The cartoon rapper starts by playing Beethoven's Fifth on a piano (the whole song is set to the Fifth Symphony). "D'Mite" starts off by telling the kids, "See, I used to do songs with hooks and concepts and sh*t, right? Well, f*ck that, I'm trying to go platinum!" It then goes into the first verse which is made up entirely of "Read a book, read a book, read a mah fuc*in book," repeated over and over again.
It's over-the-top and offensive to be sure. But is it the "right message" despite that and to be congratulated? BET sure thinks it should.
As the 2008 presidential campaign moves into high gear, a common conservative complaint has been that Democrat candidates have so far been largely asked softball questions by liberal moderators at their debates, while the Republicans have actually been vigorously challenged by media personalities in theirs.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday morning, former Capitol Hill correspondent for ABC, and current contributing editor to the National Journal, Linda Douglass, made it quite clear that she agrees with such concerns.
Host Howard Kurtz, after playing a video clip of musician Melissa Etheridge asking Hillary Clinton (D-New York) a question at a recent debate, posed the following:
Linda Douglass, my question is with those kinds of personal, first-person, emotional queries, do we really need journalists at these debates? Aren't these questions sort of better than the kind of questions that reporters ask?
Apparently Hardball host Chris Matthews has a bit of a problem keeping his lust in check on the air. On Friday evening's Hardball, Matthews was interviewing CNBC's Street Signs anchor, Erin Burnett, about the latest Wall Street news when suddenly he switched gears as you can see in this video. The official transcript isn't up yet on the MSNBC website but here is a transcription of the conversation as best I could understand it:
MATTHEWS: Could you get a little closer to the camera?
BURNETT: What is it? Is it (garbled) in strangely?
Today's Los Angeles Times op-ed page item "The art of war" contains drawings on the subject of the Iraq war done by students of visual arts teacher Steve Brodner at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The drawing displayed here, of Pres. Bush in a bubble floating over a mound of skulls, typifies the attitudes expressed, all of which are opposed to the war and the Bush administration in one form or other.
Perhaps as telling as the drawings is this statement by Brodner that accompanies them:
The pieces reprinted here -- including one I did myself -- are the result of a group project I assigned. I felt that while they were in my class, students should focus on what I believe to be the most urgent issue of our time: the Iraq war.
It appears hell hath frozen over, for a Newsweek contributing editor published an article Saturday extraordinarily critical of his magazine's cover story last week about "global-warming deniers" being funded by oil companies in an organized scam to thwart science.
In fact, Robert J. Samuelson accurately noted how "self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism," and that this disgraceful article was "an object lesson of how viewing the world as ‘good guys vs. bad guys' can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story."
Fortunately, Samuelson was just getting warmed up (emphasis added throughout, h/t Marc Morano):
I am more than happy to come to Josette's aid (not that she needs it) because I worked directly with her in my time at the Times. We haven't spoken in years, but Josette was great to work for and both gave me some big responsibilities and treated me with respect.
Josette now has the audacity to be the United Nations World Food Program's executive director and simultaneously come from the "most conservative wing of the Bush administration," according to the Times.
After the press spent last weekend gushing over liberal bloggers with nothing but glowing coverage of the YearlyKos convention in Chicago, the media's fascination with the Netroots continued with reckless abandon this weekend.
On Saturday, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, to be followed by a debate on Sunday's "Meet the Press" between the head Kossack and the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, Harold Ford, Jr.
Are media recognizing the power of the Netroots, or just trying to assist their efforts to move the Democrat Party further and further to the left?
Regardless of the answer, Moulitsas continued to posit in the Post the same absurd assertion from his keynote address last weekend that he and his ilk represent the center of American politics (emphasis added):