Since it's a slow posting day, allow me to note how the NPR show "On The Media" aired a typically liberal commentary last weekend attacking CNSNews.com (a project of the MRC) for investigating Rep. John Murtha's military record. (Forget the idea that the show is "pro-journalism." They're obviously "pro-journalism that aids the liberal cause, anti-journalism that doesn't.") Co-host Brooke Gladstone attacked the story as "arson," not reporting:
And now a recent case in which reporters largely lived up to the old adage "once burned, twice shy." This time when would-be arsonists tossed a match, instead of fanning the flames, reporters reached for the hose.
It is all too common these days to see former U.S. Presidents rush off overseas and proceed to overtly and negatively criticize the current administration in office.
In the latest test to the adage of "politics stopping at the water's edge," former U. S. President Bill Clinton went to Davos, Switzerland and the World Economic Forum and proceeded to blame the U.S.--via the current administration--for everything the ails mankind, and maybe a few things that don't.
In a recent Nightline episode that aired January 27, 2006, Vicki Mabrey presented what some call a controversial program happening within the prison walls of Lawtey Correctional Institution. The issue at hand – faith in prisons, and not just Christianity.
Mabrey contends that even though officials cite success with their program it isn’t really sufficient because there aren’t any scientific studies that prove that these types of faith based programs help lower disciplinary actions or lower recidivism rates.
As reported by NewsBusters last Sunday, Newsweek’s recent cover story, “The Trouble With Boys,” appeared to intentionally omit key statistics that might have made the article’s premise completely erroneous. With that in mind, a reader sent me an e-mail message with another pivotal omission on the part of the article’s author.
The third paragraph of this article boldly stated: "By almost every benchmark, boys across the nation and in every demographic group are falling behind." The key word here is "almost," for as amazing as it might seem, in a piece designed to demonstrate how much better girls are doing in school than boys, nowhere was there any reference to the SATs. This test that has been the benchmark for most major colleges and universities for decades wasn’t even mentioned.
Why might that be? Well, because with all these changes to education in the past three decades, and after all the psychobabble, boys still do better than girls on both the verbal and the math sections of the SAT. Moreover, as demonstrated by the following chart created by the College Board,
Just when you thought the MSM elites couldn't get any more condescending . . .
Ellen Ratner pulled back the veil this morning and exposed what she and surely others in the liberal media think of their fellow Americans: we're just too damn dumb to understand how the Bush administration is abusing us. Her proposed solution? Democrats need to explain matters to us "in very simple terms."
Ratner's comments came at the end of this morning's "The Long & the Short of It" feature on Fox & Friends Weekend, in which Ratner regularly locks horns with conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton.
Pinkerton broached the NSA surveillance issue, asserting that it is playing very well for President Bush, and suggesting that "if the Dems were smart they'd be talking about Medicare and things like that but they can't get off their ACLU reflex."
On his Countdown show Friday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann delivered his latest attack on FNC host Bill O'Reilly during his show's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment for saying something the FNC host did not actually say. Referring to O'Reilly as a "joke," Olbermann accused O'Reilly of attacking MSNBC for not covering the case of a Vermont judge who initially sentenced a child rapist to only 60 days in jail. In fact, O'Reilly complained that the "network newscasts" had ignored the story, which would only include ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts.
During his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, Olbermann normally chooses three nominees to be awarded the dishonor of that name. His three nominees are labeled as "Worse," "Worser," and "Worst." On Friday's show, after giving the second place distinction of "Worser" to conservative columnist Ann Coulter for joking that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned, Olbermann moved on to dishonor O'Reilly with the label of "Worst": "Speaking of jokes, tonight's winner. [Photograph of O'Reilly displayed on-screen] Him again. He walked right into another propeller."
On his Countdown show Wednesday, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked the right-leaning media watchdog group Accuracy in Media for a piece by Cliff Kincaid criticizing Fox News Channel's recent "drifting to the left." Olbermann mocked the suggestion that liberal bias could exist on FNC and suggested that Fox News ideologically is just to the left of Vlad the Impaler, an infamous mass-murderer from the 15th century who inspired the story of Dracula. He also took a shot at perennial target Bill O'Reilly by agreeing with the sentiment of one of AIM's e-mailers that "O'Reilly has really gone bonkers."
During his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, Olbermann normally chooses three nominees to be awarded the dishonor of that name. His three nominees are labeled as "Worse," "Worser," and "Worst." On Wednesday's show, the Countdown host bestowed the dishonor of "Worst" upon Accuracy in Media for Kincaid's piece "directed at an outfit they claim gave Robert Kennedy, Jr. a platform for a, 'environmental propaganda' piece about global warning, against a network whose reporters let New Orleans get to them, against people 'drifting to the left.'"
Bob Schieffer mostly posed unobjectionable questions on the news of the day (Hamas, Iran, etc.) to President George W. Bush in an interview conducted Friday and then excerpted on the CBS Evening News. But he did pose three inquiries from the agenda of the left which caught my attention. Schieffer wanted to know, in reference to NSA eavesdropping, if Bush thinks “there is anything that a President cannot do, if he considers it necessary, in an emergency like this?" Raising “horror stories about torture,” Schieffer cited Hubert Humphrey in pressing Bush on whether he worries the U.S. is “losing the moral high ground in some way?" Moving on to dependence on foreign oil, Schieffer touted New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s advocacy of, in Schieffer's words, a “huge gas tax” because it’s “the only way to cause people to change their ways.” (Full quotations follow of these questions from Schieffer.)
At the conclusion of his interview with Senator George Allen, Hardball host Chris Matthews issued a preview for the upcoming segment after a commercial break. The next segment would cover the meaning of the alleged photographs of President Bush pictured with Jack Abramoff. Matthews said that President Bush is "horny for those pictures".
MATTHEWS: Up next, will we ever see those pictures of Jack Abramoff and The President. We're all looking for them, the President is horny for those pictures, you're watching Hardball on MSNBC.
There are now three possible conclusions on how James Frey's lies in "A Million Little Pieces" got past Oprah (the first two are from this post, the third is Oprah's creation yesterday):
Number 1 -- She runs an operation that's so intimidating that people within her company who knew better felt they couldn't speak out.
Number 2 -- She knew about Frey's Lies and has been an active though conceivably unwitting(words added today--Ed.) participant in a monumental literary hoax.
Number 3 -- (The one used by Oprah -- see Update 3 at this post and this New York Times article from earlier today) Despite the fact that her producers knew and informed her that counselors at Hazelden in Minnesota cast significant doubt on Frey's story of his time there a full month before his first Oprah TV appearance, Oprah went ahead because Frey's publisher "reassured" her that the book was accurate.
Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut writes about blogs and the journalists who don't appreciate the new ways information is disseminated without their control.
You have an opinion these days? No need to depend solely on the gatekeeper on the op-ed page to give you access. You have a breaking news story to report? No need to cajole a reporter or news director to go after it. You can opine yourself. You can cover the story yourself and post it immediately....
Unfortunately, many members of the mainstream media (MSM, in blogger-ese) feel threatened by the competition. Instead of taking lessons from the competition (i.e., be lively and opinionated, eschew political correctness, feature tough investigative journalism, focus on diversity of thought rather than diversity of ethnicity), they are spending their time carping at the new media or making fun of their customers ("people don't read anymore").
The Denver Post editorial staff who attacked the NSA international intercept program yesterday probably think of themselves as bold crusaders for domestic civil rights. Unfortunately for them, they comes across as willfully ill-informed. Again.
President Bush launched a campaign-style offensive this week to defend his secret executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court warrants, on phone calls and Internet traffic in the United States.
His advisers hope the publicity blitz will impress the public in advance of Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday and upcoming congressional hearings on whether the president has the authority to order such surveillance.
New York Times reporter James Dao reports Friday on a study suggesting most of New Orleans’ displaced black population may not return, and dips briefly and non-critically into Mayor Ray Nagin’s Martin Luther King day remarks about the future racial makeup of New Orleans. He even leaves off the most controversial part -- Nagin’s incendiary preference for a “chocolate New Orleans.”
“The study, financed by a grant from the National Science Foundation, was released Thursday, 10 days after the mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, who is black, told an audience that ‘this city will be a majority African-American city; it's the way God wants it to be.’”
On Sunday, as reported by NewsBusters, Newsweek did a cover story on what it referred to as a “Boy Crisis.” The article detailed “why” girls are doing so much better than boys in school. In an interesting twist, the Associated Press reported this Wednesday evening (hat tip to the American Thinker):
“A senior boy at Milton High School has filed a federal civil rights complaint contending that his school discriminates against boys by making it easier for girls to succeed academically.
“Doug Anglin, in his complaint filed last month with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, claimed girls faced fewer restrictions from teachers and boys are more likely to get punished.”
Two-thirds of the way into Oprah's apologizing-for-James-Frey show yesterday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich came on to bash Bush. Invited on to revisit his latest Times column, Rich said Frey and Bush, like Nick Lachey's and Jessica Simpson's MTV-televised marriage (followed by divorce), were both part of an age of undermining reality:
"I mean we live in this word now where this is just sort of the tip of the iceberg, this memoir, where anyone can sort of put out something that sort of looks true, smells a little bit like truth but, in fact, is in some way fictionalized. You look at anything from Enron fooling people and creating this aura of a great business making huge profits when it was an empty shell, or people in the government telling us that mushroom clouds are going to come our way if we don't invade Iraq for months when it was on faulty and possibly suspect intelligence."
On yesterday's Today show, Howard Dean did his best angry imitation of Bill Clinton's "I did not have sex" and/or Rafael Palmeiro's "I have never used steroids" performances. His voice rising, Dean insisted over Katie Couric's attempts to claim otherwise that:
"Katie, not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. Not one dime."
Confronted by such intransigence, Katie politely observed that "we'll have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers." That's apparently just what the Today researchers did overnight, and Matt Lauer, with Tim Russert in tow, informed viewers this morning of their findings.
Over at Slate, Mickey Kaus went to town on the newest proof of the tick-tight relationship of NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert and James Carville, embarrassing "he just groped Gennifer Flowers in a bar" Clinton spinner. Russert has now created his own personal Washington ethical scandal:
Lukegate: Step 1) Tim Russert books the tired Carville-Matalin act more than 35 times on his Meet the Press talk show, boosting their bankability on the lucrative lecture circuit. Step 2) Carville--with Russert's eager prodding--also uses their most recent, conveniently-timed MTP appearance to plug his new XM Satellite radio sports show. ... That's smarmily venal enough, you say? Wrong! Step 3) Carville's co-host on the XM show is Russert's son, Luke, who is "currently a sophomore at Boston College." Russert and Carville joke about this on the air but don't quite have the balls to actually inform viewers of the key conflict:
On 12 January, 2006, the New York Times ran an article entitled “Thrust into the Limelight, and for Some A Symbol of Washington’s Bite.” It was a mini-biography of Mrs. Martha-Ann Alito, and it purported to explain the reasons for Mrs. Alito’s tears during her husband Samuel’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It blamed them on a follow-up question by Senator Lindsay Graham, rather than on the verbal savaging of Judge Alito by the Democrats on the Committee, led by Senator Ted Kennedy.
The Times should have gotten the story right, because one of the three reporters on the story was in their New Jersey Bureau, and based in Caldwell. But they didn’t. Here are the operative paragraphs from that article on the cause of her tears:
Appearing on Keith Olbermann's Thursday January 26 Countdown show on MSNBC, while comparing President Bush's words on his NSA wiretapping program with Bill Clinton's "lying," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd made known her view that she found Bill Clinton's lying "poignant and endearing" because "when Bill Clinton would deceive, he would throw in a semantic clue that let you know he was deceiving." She further added that "He would let you know he was lying, and then the right wing would come down so hard on him and overpunish him." Regarding Bush's citation of Iraq's liberation as a major justification for the war in the absence of WMD, Dowd pontificated that "you cannot do things that start with a lie, and they just lead to trouble down the road."
The segment started as Olbermann brought aboard Dowd to discuss Oprah Winfrey's apology for pushing discredited author James Frey's fraudulent book. The Countdown host drew parallels between Oprah's apology on her show earlier in the day and Bush's almost simultaneous news conference to answer critics of his controversial NSA spying program. When Olbermann turned his attention to Bush's news conference, he implied that Bush should perhaps apologize for the NSA program: "Maureen, right now, we want to look at a televised event in which nothing close to an apology was even hinted at."
In her report yesterday on existing home sales, Reuters reporter Kristin Roberts chose to emphasize a one-month decline in December and negative anecdotal information from the Midwest, while failing to give her readers favorable big-picture data that had been handed to her on a silver platter.
Here's how the press release from the National Association of Realtors that served as the starting point for Ms. Roberts' report began:
Existing-Home Sales Down in December But 2005 Sets a Record
Existing-home sales declined in December but easily set an annual record, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Despite the decision by the editors of CBSNews.com not to highlight the finding in a new CBS News/New York Times poll, of how 61 percent believe President Bush authorized wiretaps in order to “fight terrorism,” with just 29 percent saying he did it just to “expand the powers of the presidency,” on Thursday's CBS Evening News John Roberts alerted viewers to the finding. Roberts relayed: “On the NSA spying program, President Bush went into today's press conference with a boost. A new CBS News/New York Times poll found 61 percent of Americans believe the eavesdropping is meant to fight terror and the majority support that [53 percent back Bush authorizing wiretaps]." When Roberts ended his piece, anchor Bob Schieffer marveled at how “it looks to me as if the President has decided to make this a political issue to show that he is strong in the fight against terrorism and perhaps the Democrats are weak. And I must say, looking at that poll, he may be succeeding."
Just as the CBS Evening News went on the air in the East, CBSNews.com posted a rundown of the survey, “Poll: Bush's Approval Remains Low.” But it did not include any mention (and still does not as of 11pm EST) of the public backing for Bush on what the media have portrayed as scandalous illegality. Instead, the home page posting highlighted the findings on Bush's approval rating, the administration's plans for Katrina victims, the Iraq war, the Jack Abramoff case, rating of Congress and the condition of the health care system. An accompanying PDF of the complete poll results, “The Bush Presidency and the State of the Union: January 20-25, 2006,” included the NSA eavesdropping findings. (Partial transcript follows.)
While CBS and NBC reporters were willing Thursday night to outright tag, without any qualifiers or attributions to others, Hamas as a “terrorist” group, for the second night in a row, ABC's World News Tonight distanced itself from the term -- even avoiding it during a friendly profile of a terrorist. ABC anchor Bob Woodruff teased from Jerusalem: “Tonight, a monumental shake-up in the Middle East. Hamas declared the winner of the Palestinian elections. The U.S. calls them terrorists.” But that was it for the label. Woodruff proceeded to refer to Hamas as “the militant Islamic group that calls for the destruction of Israel” and he conceded “there is no question that Hamas is more militant and more overtly Islamic than the secular leaders it defeated.” Woodruff also noted that “through its military wing,” Hamas “has led the fight against Israel,” but he then put a nice and generous face on Hamas, adding that “through its charities” Hamas has “provided free schooling, medicine and food.”
Following his opening story on the election victory by Hamas, Woodruff set up a piece on how “one of its most-celebrated figures,” a woman who won a seat, “is a mother who sent her sons to their deaths.” With “A Bombers' Mother” as the on-screen tag, Wilf Dinnick provided a non-judgmental look at how “Palestinians voted for Miriam Farahat because she's made astonishing sacrifices in her quest to destroy Israel. Farahat has sent three of her six sons on suicide missions. That's why her supporters call her Um Nidal, the 'Mother of the Struggle.'” Without ever calling her or her murdering sons either “murderers” or “terrorists,” Dinnick concluded with her “sacrifice” for the cause: “Today, she vowed to do whatever Hamas asks of her. 'I am ready to serve,' she says. And if that means sacrificing her three remaining sons, Um Nidal says she's willing.” (Full transcripts of ABC's stories, as well as the labeling aired by CBS and NBC, follows.)
"The National Tracing Center database is an essential resource for law enforcement. Beyond enabling law enforcement to trace the history of a gun linked to a crime, it helps identify patterns of gun theft and trafficking. And that information can help local law enforcement — like the NYPD — in stopping illegal guns before they're used to commit crimes.
Yet the NYPD — along with every other branch of law enforcement in the nation — is being denied the information needed to get illegal guns off our streets: There is no requirement that stolen guns or guns used to commit crimes be reported to the National Tracing Center database.
Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown gave a speech at Palm Beach, Florida’s Society of the Four Arts on Tuesday, and according to the Palm Beach Daily News, he didn’t have very nice things to say about the news industry including, “‘Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news.’"
According to the article: “Brown said he tried to give viewers a balanced diet of light and serious news with NewsNight. ‘But I always knew when I got to the Brussels sprouts, I was on thin ice,’ he said.”
Catching up with a distorted story from early in the week: On Monday's Nightline, ABC ran a silly story by Brian Ross impugning the integrity of the two most conservative Supreme Court justices, for a "judicial junket" in Colorado where at a Federalist Society conference Antonin Scalia played tennis and the acceptance by Clarence Thomas of a NASCAR jacket. Over hidden-camera video of Scalia on a tennis court, Ross stressed how Scalia missed the swearing-in of Chief Justice Roberts and featured law professor Stephen Gillers, "a recognized scholar on legal ethics," as his expert, running seven soundbites from him (compared to just two from a Scalia-defender). But Ross failed to note how Gillers is a left-winger who in The Nation in 1999 fretted about the "nightmare" of more conservative Supreme Court justices. Ross, however, tagged the Federalist Society as "a conservative activist group" as he buried a brief mention of how the group "says this was no junket at all but a legal seminar, in which Justice Scalia taught a ten-hour course." Ross even tried to smear Scalia with a link to scandal: "Scalia also attended the scheduled cocktail receptions, one of which was sponsored in part by the same lobbying and law firm where convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff once worked."
Ross acknowledged, after his taped story aired, that "it isn't just Justice Scalia. Justices at all ends of the political spectrum take plenty of these trips to lots of nice places, all paid for by somebody else." But Ross didn't go beyond Scalia and Thomas and the Tuesday Good Morning America version plastered on screen, over video of Scalia playing tennis, "ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: SCALIA CAUGHT ON TAPE.” (Full transcript, and more on Gillers, follows.)
Liberals twirl in circles of frustration that conservatives get a chance to speak their nonsense in news stories, that "objectivity" is merely a blend of sense and nonsense, information and misinformation. But on Hamas, liberal media outlets are routinely practicing senseless "objectivity," using distancing language that it is a group "described by U. S. authorities as a terrorist group." I suppose you could argue that "terrorism" is a very emotional word, but it also means something: the use of violence against innocent people to provoke political action through fear. That has been a trademark of Hamas, not a little problem on the fringes of the group. (If they blew up your children in a rocket attack, you might call them terrorists, too.)
Journalists ought to read through the 1988 Hamas charter and learn that these people believe that "jihad," or war on unbelievers (especially the Jews) is required by their religion. It can be argued that foregoing the T-word is edging into journalistic cowardice and inaccuracy. It's amazing that Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan and the other acclaimed "peacemakers" can't seem to read from Article 13: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.” But it gets stranger.
Today's Oprah Winfrey program featured her interviewing James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces." The book has come under fire for being much less than accurate. Greatly due to Ms. Winfrey's endorsement of the book, even after its inaccuracies and fictions had been detailed, "A Million Little Pieces" enjoyed incredible success.
This morning Ms. Winfrey told Frey, "I really feel duped." Reuters reports: "In 19 years in television 'I've never been in this position before,' said Winfrey. . ."
The talk show host was being disingenuous She's been duped before. Journalist Michael Fumento notes one example from 1987, when the talk-show host asserted:
Just two and a half years ago -- after the September 11 attacks had supposedly made the U.S. a bit more sensitive to the plight of Israelis under constant pressure from terrorist groups -- ABC's World News Tonight benignly described the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas as “a political and social welfare organization with a military wing that has launched terror attacks against Israel.”
Now that Hamas has apparently won the Palestinian elections, will reporters stress their history of killing innocent civilians? On last night' World News Tonight, anchor Bob Woodruff wouldn't go so far as to brand Hamas as a terrorist group, calling them a "militant" group "which the U.S. calls a terrorist organization."
Eric Lipton’s New York Times article on the congressional investigation into the White House’s initial response to Hurricane Katrina suggests that President Bush was foolhardy in thinking New Orleans had dodged the Katrina bullet on Monday, August 29, a day before the levees broke and plunged the city underwater.
“That night, after the storm passed, a report sent to the White House warned of a quarter-mile breach ‘in the levee near the 17th Street Canal’ and that ‘an estimated 2/3 to 75 percent of the city is underwater.’ Yet Mr. Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, in interviews after the storm hit, said they never expected the levees to be breached. They said that after the storm had passed Monday, they were convinced that the city had survived without catastrophic damage.
(This is an op-ed version of a previous NewsBusters post.)
There’s an old rule of thumb in marketing – stick to what sells. Lately, America’s media have been doing just that.
Since the significant rebound in the President’s poll numbers from their October lows, coincident with a lack of outrage by the public concerning the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the media have been downplaying current events, and, instead, focusing attention on last year’s big story that was largely responsible for Bush’s favorability decline in the first place.