MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews got himself into some hot water Thursday evening when he suggested that Osama bin Laden in his recently released tape sounded “like an over-the-top Michael Moore here, if not a Michael Moore” (video link to follow). On last night’s installment, Matthews invited on MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to discuss this issue in greater detail (video link to follow).
After being asked by Matthews if bin Laden was playing politician, Scarborough moved the discussion in a media direction: “You look at, like, for instance, him saying that George Bush went to war because of -- because he wanted to help his buddies out, his oil buddies out. Well, that sounds a lot like not only Michael Moore, it also sounds like Ted Kennedy who said this whole thing was invented, this war was invented in Texas by Karl Rove to help his political supporters out.”
As reported yesterday by NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein, Katie Couric of NBC’s “Today Show” wondered aloud on yesterday’s program if Osama bin Laden might be getting information from the New York Times. It turns out that Couric isn’t the only media representative asking this same question. A just released Editor and Publisher article reported on more such media opining. First, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson said the following on that network’s “Scarborough Country” Thursday evening (full transcript to follow):
“By the merchants of war who financed Bush's presidential campaign, in the words of Osama bin Laden and many on the left. In other words, Halliburton is responsible for this war, every single talking point. I hate to think of Osama bin Laden reclining in his cave in Waziristan, reading the op-ed page of ‘The New York Times.’ But, clearly, he is. He's got every talking point. It's uncanny.”
According to E&P, Carlson wasn’t the only one to suggest that Osama is paying attention to the American press:
If we turn up our Media Sensitivity Meter to the level of Extremely Nitpicky, note the AP headline this week to Laura Bush's description of Hillary's Congress-as-"plantation" remarks as "ridiculous." The headline was "First Lady Assails Sen. Clinton for Remark," repeated all over the web and in newspapers. But when I searched the words "First Lady assail" in Nexis for the Associated Press in the Clinton years, I didn't get a single headline. (And doesn't Hillary strike everyone as more of an "assailer" than Laura?) I did find one article from October 20, 1999 by reporter Ben Dobbin. It began:
Without uttering his name, Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out Wednesday her stark differences with Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on a raft of national issues - from the minimum wage to health care and gun control.
In a speech at a labor union convention, the first lady assailed her likely opponent in next year's Senate race and Republicans in Congress "who want to turn the clock back and return us to the days when a lot of what we enjoy was not even thought possible."
According to the Associated Press (hat tip to the Drudge Report), Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday “challenged Europe to take back the Jews who emigrated to Israel, adding that no Jews would remain in Israel if Europe were to open its doors.” Strangely, a thorough Google and LexisNexis search identified that, until now, no major American media outlet has reported this new round of anti-Semitic statements by the controversial Iranian leader who is also threatening to expand his country’s nuclear activities. (The New York Times published an online AP story Friday evening at its website that included this information. However, it appears that this did not make their Saturday print editions.)
The first time AP logged this report was via its Worldstream unit at 10:25PM GMT Friday. That calculates to 5:25PM Eastern Time. Yet, according to Google and LexisNexis, not one American media outlet besides the Drudge Report is covering this story:
It’s become a cliche to note that the Golden Globe Awards voter pool is an extremely small clique for such a big-buzz awards show. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) boasts “about 90" members, many of them Europeans. But their influence over the Oscars, and then the culture, is enormous. And what they are asking us to celebrate, with increasing regularity, are standards that echo the decadent culture of Old Europe, in love with illicit sex, drugs, dysfunctionality – and even anti-Western political weirdness.
In addition to George Clooney’s supporting actor award for his conspiracy-theorizing, anti-war-for-oil flick “Syriana,” the Best Foreign Movie award went to “Paradise Now,” a lyrical German-funded film about “heroic,” yet conflicted....Palestinian terrorists blowing up buses. The HFPA even officially claimed the film was from “Palestine,” as if Israel had already been wiped off the map.
I like Kiran Chetry. Kiran Chetry is a friend of mine. Alright, she isn't a friend of mine. But the mother-to-be is a pleasant presence in her role of co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend. Still, in her comments on Karl Rove this morning, she let show a certain DNC-mindset.
The topic was Rove's appearance yesterday at the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee, at which he laid out a battle plan for the 2006 mid-term elections. Rove was shown saying "honorable people can have honest political differences, and we should strive for civility and intellectual integrity in our debates and arguments."
That seemed to surprise Kiran: "Rove, known for being the one who is the attack dog at the White House, was actually calling for civility."
I have always been a news junkie, but lately I am finding it more and more difficult to keep my eyes on the tube when it is tuned in to any cable news network. The reason for my ire is simple...These news outlets have turned my television screen into a garbage can.
By that I mean that nowadays the entire viewing surface seems to be filled with assorted junk. Most of what we are being subjected to is just self-promotion for the show being aired or the station being telecast. The other distracting additions have very little to do with the news being presented at that moment and could wait for a less invasive time to flash onto the screen.
If I am recalling correctly, this all started a few years back when cable was presenting lengthy time blocks of hearings, trials, or congressional actions. To keep viewers abreast of the news, they started running streamers at the bottom of the screen that contained news headlines. From that point on, they added more and more, from logos to stock reports. The end result are the most junkyard looking news presentations found anywhere.
Last night I reported that Chris Matthews lied and misquoted Laura Bush in the Wednesday evening edition of Hardball. Matthews claimed -- and said it no less than three times -- that the First Lady said "God wants New Orleans to be rebuilt". On tonight's program, Matthews showed the correct quote in a visual, however did not say anything about the misquotation or issue an apology. The screen capture on the right reads "I think it's ridiculous. It's a ridiculous comment - That's what I think".
Joe Klein of TIME magazine fame wrote a fabulous piece recently entitled “How to Stay Out of Power; Why liberal democrats are playing too fast and too loose with issues of war and peace.” In it, the typically liberal Klein offered a typically liberal readership a side of the domestic spying issue that must have made many subscribers wonder if their mailman had accidentally put a copy of the National Review in their mailbox.
Klein began by addressing the hypocrisy of a letter that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) recently released that was supposedly written on October 11, 2001 to then National Security Agency director General Michael V. Hayden. “In it she expressed concern that Hayden, who had briefed the House Intelligence Committee about the steps he was taking to track down al-Qaeda terrorists after the 9/11 attacks, was not acting with "specific presidential authorization."
With an “Uncle Sam Is Watching You” graphic on screen, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened Friday night's Countdown by exaggerating the threat of the federal request for Google records to check the exposure of pornography to children and, of course, the NSA “spying”policy. “If you Googled it, the government wants to know about it,” Olbermann warned, “and if you made a phone call or sent an e-mail that was monitored by the NSA without court approval, the government wants you to know it feels its actions were plenty legal.” Olbermann reported: “President Bush starts taking his domestic spying defense tour on the road. How about we all Google the name George Orwell?” Olbermann proceeded to describe the public relations events as a “big brother PR blitz” with “President Bush heading back to the National Security Agency for another visit next week on Wednesday, all part of the administration's latest push to convince everybody else that the President has the constitutional power to order all the spying, with none of the bothersome warrants, that he wants.”
Citing the administration's contention that only those who had contact with terrorist-affiliated people were monitored, Olbermann charged, while interviewing Craig Crawford, that “there has been a lot of condescension from the administration over the years since the election, but honestly, do they think everybody here is a 6-year-old idiot?" Olbermann went on to complain about Karl Rove's “post 9/11 mindsets drivel." Olbermann also quoted the Justice Department's contention that the 9/11 congressional resolution “places the President at the zenith of his powers” and asked: “Is there is somebody in the White House saying, 'look, it's to our advantage to make the President look as much like either a Superhero or would-be dictator as possible?'” (Transcript follows.)
The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah McBride wrote an article in today’s edition addressing the increasing number of network news “stars” leaving television to become a part of National Public Radio. In an environment where ratings for most news programs are declining, and newspapers across the country are reducing staffs amid shrinking circulations, NPR’s audience is continuing to grow. As a result, as reported previously by NewsBusters, the largely government sponsored radio station has been attracting folks like former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite and former ABC “Nightline” host, Ted Koppel. Potentially the most fascinating aspect of this article is what it said about the current state of television media:
“Network news is increasingly generating prospects for NPR in part because some broadcast journalists think the networks are veering away from serious, in-depth reports. Many television journalists say they are fed up with the move toward consumer-friendly news-you-can-use and away from weightier subjects like foreign affairs and government. And many also see news of any sort as an increasingly low priority for their employers. For example, ‘Nightline’ came close to losing its perch in a humiliating 2002 episode when ABC brass unsuccessfully tried to lure in David Letterman's nightly comedy show to replace it.”
Driving home tonight (Friday), the MRC's Rich Noyes caught how ABC Radio talk show host Mark Levin, on Washington DC's WMAL, marked the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan: By reciting, just past 6pm EST, from Reagan-bashing quotes spewed by journalists which were compiled by the Media Research Center. In June of 2004, just after Reagan passed away, the MRC produced a Special Report titled, “Ronald Reagan -- The 40th President and the Press: The Record.” (Levin's show is also carried by WABC in New York City, WJR in Detroit and WBAP in Ft. Worth/Dallas.)
Below is a reprint of the Executive Summary of the report from which Levin quoted, and direct links to all the sections of it.
In many respects, 2005 was the strongest economic year the United States has experienced since 1999. The Gross Domestic Product continued its uninterrupted string of consecutive 3-percent or better quarterly increases – 10 quarters in a row, the longest streak since the mid-’80s. The nation added 2 million new non-farm payroll jobs. The average net wealth of the citizenry reached another all-time high – a total of more than $51 trillion – by the third quarter of 2005. And, as the Labor Department just reported on January 18, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index was virtually the same in 2005 as it was in 2004, while rising at the core level (excluding energy and food) at the average rate for the last decade.
Yet, regardless of the continuous stream of positive economic news, CNN financial reports were normally quite bearish all year, in particular asserting that wages weren’t keeping up with inflation, causing the average worker to lose ground financially. Phrases like “falling wages have turned an assault on the middle class into a war on the middle class” and “The new jobs that are being created are by and large low-wage jobs” were uttered on a fairly regular basis during CNN broadcasts throughout 2005. A Free Market Project analysis of CNN’s newscasts on wages and inflation throughout the year revealed that journalists touted the relationship between wages and inflation as a cause for concern, instead of the positive sign of economic recovery that it really was.
The folks at the Grey Lady again can't seem to wrap their noggins around the fact that the NSA program is tapping international calls made from this country, AND calls that come in from other countries.
What is so hard to grasp here? Terrorism is a clandestine business. Should we be calling the terrorists we're monitoring to let them know they are being monitored? Have there been any wrongful deaths, convictions or violations in connection with the NSA program? No. Do the American people support it? Yes.
Savor this morsel, from the NYT political pundit / terrorism analyst / foreign policy opinion leader / surveillance expert Eric Lichtblau :
Israel-based Steven Erlanger gets page 3 play Friday for his interview with the family of a Palestinian suicide bomber in Nablus (“Into the West Bank Abyss: From Student to Suicide Bomber”).
“Sami Antar, 21, in his second year of physical education studies at An Najah University here, left the apartment at 8 a.m. Thursday. In the afternoon, he blew himself up on behalf of the militant group Islamic Jihad in Tel Aviv, in a zone of shops and restaurants, but killed only himself. About 20 Israelis, ordinary people going about their daily business, were wounded, one of them seriously.”
Next comes Erlanger’s entry for bad metaphor of the year:
Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 file photo in Afghanistan. Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo)
Seemingly lost in the media controversy of the comments from both NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin and Senator Hilary Clinton is the issue of the religious nature and/or setting of their comments.
Cathy Young covers that ground on Nagin today and concludes:
When a conservative minister says this kind of thing about George W. Bush, it's widely taken as a sign that America is sinking into a Dark Age of religious fanaticism. Somehow, the rhetoric of the "religious left" -- aside from an over-the-top rant like Nagin's -- is not met with the same condemnation.
Just as our intelligence experts' parsing of the OBL tape may uncover hidden clues, so does a careful deconstruction of comments this morning by Katie Couric yield important insights into her MSM mindset.
Couric was interviewing Peter Bergen, British author of "The Osama Bin Laden I Know." At one point, Katie had this to say:
"He talks about President Bush in the tape and he says he's foolish for ignoring the poll numbers that indicate the American people want him to pull out of Iraq. How do you think he's keeping abreast of all this. It's sort of odd, isn't it? Is he just paying attention to Al-Jazeera? It's not as if he's reading the New York Times, is it?"
Via Gateway Pundit, I learned WCBS political reporter Marcia Kramer added some local color to the Canaan Baptist Church event where Hillary Clinton pandered to Al Sharpton's crowd on MLK Day. The national media obviously didn't give their audience the radical flavor of this gathering. Pat Robertson isn't half the GOP power broker he was 15 years ago, but Sharpton's standing right next to Hillary and no one's noting the agenda of his camp and wondering how it will affect Hillary's supposed "centrist" image:
But Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who like Suozzi, wants to be governor, didn't get off any easier. He was asked to support the reinstatement of Tawana Brawley lawyer Alton Maddox's law license. And there was this question: “There are at least 12 political prisoners in New York State who were members of the black liberation army and the black party for 30 years...Are you open to reviewing their cases?"
There were tough questions to politicians who feel they must attend the event as much to pay homage to Sharpton as to celebrate Dr. King's legacy. Sen. Hillary Clinton, who had launched into an impassioned attack on the Bush administration...actually got an easy question. “I need you to tell us what distinguishes Democrats from Republicans right now,” she was asked.
The Washington Post gossip columnists Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger report today that Air America night-time radio host Mike Malloy sent a nasty response to an invitation to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference -- which Air America colleague Al Franken attended for a debate last year:
"Um . . . you're kidding, right? Why would I have any desire whatsoever to attend or participate in a convocation of neo-Nazis????? I had two uncles fight against you [expletive] in WW2. And, now, surprise! surprise! here you all are on US soil. Kindly get the [expletive] off my email. Thanks."
[CPAC Media Director Andrea] Saul said she was stunned by his response. "I'm all for a difference of opinion, but this is entirely uncalled-for, and all the more offensive when you consider that I'm Jewish, lost family in the Holocaust and had a grandfather almost killed during WWII." Her complaints to Air America execs have gone unanswered. A spokeswoman said the network would have no comment.
Just before reading e-mailed responses to his “Cafferty Files” question of the 4pm EST hour on Thursday afternoon's The Situation Room on CNN, “How important is the new Osama bin Laden tape?", Jack Cafferty proposed a conspiracy existed in the timing, one meant to help Bush justify his NSA wiretapping: “The last time we got a tape from Osama bin Laden was right before the 2004 presidential election. Now here we are, four days away from hearings starting in Washington into the wiretapping of America's telephones without bothering to get a court order or a warrant, and up pops another tape from Osama bin Laden. Coincidence? Who knows.” One viewer endorsed Cafferty's conspiracy theory: “It seems suspicious. Every time the Republicans get into trouble, bin Laden sends a tape. Is it possible bin Laden's working out of the White House?” Earlier, Cafferty took a shot at President Bush's decision to invade Iraq: “The thought of this mutant hanging out in a cave somewhere and sending taped threats to the American people makes me angry. Why wasn't this guy taken care of before we went wandering off into Iraq?” (Transcripts follow.)
On Thursday, angry liberal readers of the Washington Post forced the ombudsmen of the paper, Deborah Howell, to shut it down. In her Sunday column, written on 1/15, Howell wrote that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.
So much for our open-minded, elitist friends on the left, who are all to glad to once again enact another episode of "Do as I say, and not as I do." This is the same bunch that screams for openness and truth in media reporting, but only IF it hurts the GOP.
In his report released Thursday on Henry Cisneros, Clinton's HUD Secretary for several years who had pled guilty in 1999 to some charges, Independent Counsel David Barrett asserted that his probe was hindered by Clinton administration officials, even after they left office. But the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, which had time for some hardly hot news stories, such as a popular restaurant in New Orleans, didn't utter a word about Barrett's complaint. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 35 seconds to Barrett and Cisneros. Anchor Bob Woodruff pointed out how “Barrett accused Clinton officials of using their power to quote, 'blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination.'” Woodruff added: “Critics called Barrett's investigation 'incompetent,' 'wasteful' and 'without merit.'"
Barrett maintained in his report: "Beginning in the summer of 1997, the OIC developed, to the extent it could, evidence concerning efforts by officials of DOJ and the IRS to contain and limit the investigation of Cisneros's actions.” Barrett specifically cited Janet Reno and rued: “In the end enough high-ranking officials with enough power were able to blunt any effort to bring about a full and independent examination of Cisneros' possible tax offenses in the face of what seemed to many to be obvious grounds for such an inquiry." (What CBS and NBC covered instead, the ABC item in full and links to stories on Barrett's report, follow.)
On last night's edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews made up a quote that First Lady Laura Bush did not say. Matthews claims that Bush said "God wants us to rebuild New Orleans", when no such words came out of her mouth. However, Bush did say "she didn't really think she could speak for God" and then added that she "believes Nagin wants New Orleans to be rebuilt".
On a various segments, Matthews claimed that Bush said "God wants us to rebuild New Orleans" and questioned several guests about it. One of those guests, adviser of Former President George H. W. Bush's Strategist Ed Rogers, was called "ignorant" for not knowing this and not commenting on it. Matthews later brought it up when interviewing Mike Allen of Time Magazine, saying that she said the "same thing" as Mayor Ray Nagin did.
In today's entry on his blog, Eric Alterman writes, apropos of his recent media-bias debate with Tucker Carlson, that he and Carlson "seem to have started a useful argument over [on the letters page of] Romenesko...with this one making...the clearest argument, methinks."
"This one," in case you don't feel like following the link, is a missive from John Martellaro, who contrasts two of Alterman's statements from the debate with two of Carlson's, then comments, "OK, so we have verifiable facts coming from the left, vs. unsourced blather and empty talking points coming from the right."
Gee, I wonder why Alterman liked the letter so much?
Nearly three days after Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke her debated "plantation" remark, the Los Angeles Times has finally printed its first word about the controversy today (Thursday January 20, 2006).
Tucked on page A8 of today's edition is "Clinton's Remark Criticized," a 495-word piece by Times staff writer Edwin Chen. The article begins with the eye-opening observation that Hillary's comment "continued making political waves Wednesday."
Congratulations to the Times on such swift, cutting-edge news coverage... (roll eyes) ...
Harry Belafonte recently compared George W. Bush and the architects of the Iraq war to those who planned the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In a speech on Sunday, January 15, he said:
"Killing is our easiest tool....It is an act that has driven fear and terror into the hearts of the American people. What is the essential difference in quality of our humanity for those who would do the cruel and tragic deed of flying an airplane into a building and killing 3,000 innocent Americans and those who would lie and lead the nation into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands? Excuse me, fellow citizens, if the line for me becomes a little blurred."
In November 2002, The New York Times latched its iron journalistic jaws onto a story which it considered to be of extreme national import: feminist Martha Burk's crusade to blackmail Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the Masters Tournament, into ending its men-only membership policy by pressuring CBS to drop its coverage of the storied golf championship. Burk's crusade eventually failed, but only after an almost obsessive focus by the New York Times about the quixotic mission.
Fast forward to January 2006 and the Alito hearings, and the revelation that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) once belonged to, and as recently as October donated $100 to, the Owl Club, a male-only social organization which was booted from Harvard for refusing to admit women as members.
No liberal conventional wisdom here! The back page of Sunday’s special Academy Awards section lists the “ideal slate of Oscar candidates” from the top three movie critics at the Times, Manohla Dargis, A.O. Scott and Stephen Holden, each of whom have revealed liberal sympathies in their film critiques.
The only movie that makes all three lists for Best Picture? The GLAAD-approved “Brokeback Mountain,” which tops all three lists, presumably being each critic’s favorite flick.
“Brokeback” actor Heath Ledger also tops each list for Best Actor nominee, and actress Michelle Williams is nominated by the Times trio as Best Supporting Actress. The movie also gets the top nod from all three for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Apparently, not even the communists are socialistic enough for the New York Times. Cleaning up my office this morning, I noticed the front-page of Saturday’s Times featured a large photo of an ill Chinese man with the headline “Wealth Grows, but Health Care Withers in China.” The subheadline explained, “Rural Areas Lag With Fall of Socialized Medicine.”
Reporter Howard W. French rued the fact that Chinese communist leaders are discarding elements of Mao’s system: “Until the beginning of the reform period in the early 1980's, China's socialized medical system, with ‘barefoot doctors’ at its core, worked public health wonders. From 1952 to 1982 infant mortality fell from 200 per 1,000 live births to 34, and life expectancy increased from about 35 years to 68, according to a recent study published by The New England Journal of Medicine.”
As for the purported health benefits of Mao’s version of communism, estimates of the number of deaths vary widely, but most are in the tens of millions.