It's common for leftists to call President Bush a dictator, and now liberal Newsweek foreign correspondent Christopher Dickey, by describing the Baghdad proceedings against Saddam Hussein as a "show trial," has associated Bush with one of the vilest dictators ever, Josef Stalin.
On this morning’s Early Show on CBS, co-host Julie Chen teased a segment on the Abramoff situation by claiming there was "major fallout in Washington" surrounding the "Capitol Hill Corruption Scandal." What was she referring to? To me, major fallout would mean there were indictments or resignations or a slew of Congressmen announcing they would not seek reelection. But no, she was referring to the fact that President Bush and other senior Republicans were going to rid themselves of donations that came from Jack Abramoff. It began:
"I'm Julie Chen. Major fallout in Washington in the wake of the Capitol Hill corruption scandal. President Bush and senior Republican lawmakers plan to dump thousands of dollars in campaign donations from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff; we'll have that story."
The latest installment of NewsBusters' series on political bias in sports coverage features the Washington Post columnist Joel Achenbach, who, apropos of University of Texas quarterback Vince Young's performance in last night's national-championship college-football game, wrote on his blog that Young
did the impossible: He not only took his team from 12 back with only 6 minutes left, he kept me up past midnight. This hasn't happened in years. Young also got me to root, secretly, for Texas in those final minutes. You can't root openly for Texas, even in the privacy of your own living room, because of the, you know, political associations. Let's not get into that.
NYT reporter Adam Nossiter has an eager story about a “very conservative congressman” pushing what Nossiter calls “the ultimate big government solution” for post-Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans. The headline writers and editors were also wooed by Rep. Richard Baker’s apparent apostasy (“A Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans”), putting the story on Thursday’s front page.
“Representative Richard H. Baker, a Republican from suburban Baton Rouge who derides Democrats for not being sufficiently free-market, is the unlikely champion of a housing recovery plan that would make the federal government the biggest landowner in New Orleans -- for a while, at least. Mr. Baker's proposed Louisiana Recovery Corporation would spend as much as $80 billion to pay off lenders, restore public works, buy huge ruined chunks of the city, clean them up and then sell them back to developers.”
Hollywood Reporter says that two NBC affiliates have announced they will not run the controversial new show, "The Book of Daniel."
The series depicts an Episcopalian minister, played by Aidan Quinn, struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, among other problems in his diocese. Jesus is actually a character on the series, depicted in imagined conversations with the minister.
Last month, the conservative American Family Assn. began calling on affiliates and advertisers to bail out of "Daniel." Many stations have been flooded with e-mails and calls from viewers objecting to the series.
KARK-TV in Little Rock, Ark., and WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Ind., announced Wednesday they would pre-empt "Daniel," when it premieres Friday at 9 p.m. Both are owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group,
Laura Ingraham's radio show started today (she's back from Brazil) with this media bias nugget: while The Washington Post carries as its front page Abramoff headline "Bush To Give Up $6,000 In Abramoff Contributions," paragraph 17 of Jonathan Weisman's story (well inside the paper Post and on page 2 of the online version) carries the better man-bites-dog angle of this story:
All but three of the 24 politicians giving up the funds are Republicans. The three Democrats -- Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.) -- have pledged to shed a total of $97,000 in contributions. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Reid has no intention of shedding the $47,000 he has received from Abramoff's lobbying team and tribal clients.
Howard Kurtz, in his Thursday Washington Post story on Ted Koppel’s decision to join the Discovery Channel, revealed a tantalizing tidbit in his tenth paragraph about who first reached out to Tom Bettag, the Executive Producer of Nightline until Koppel’s departure from ABC in November: “The first contact came on Dec. 1, the week after Koppel's last Nightline broadcast, when Don Baer, a Discovery executive vice president who previously worked in the Clinton White House, e-mailed and then called Bettag.” (Bettag and several others from Koppel's ABC crew will follow Koppel to Discovery.)
Indeed, after nine years at U.S. News & World Report, where he rose to Assistant Managing Editor, in 1994 Baer jumped to the Clinton White House to become the chief speechwriter for President Clinton, and was later elevated to Communications Director for the Clinton White House. Baer reportedly so admired Bill Clinton that he effused about how Clinton was “the moral leader of the Universe.” (Details follow.)
National Review's Jay Nordlinger began his potpourri-of-thoughts "Impromptus" column today with a telling thought on the state of the media in our times of war:
Couple of days ago, I was reading a speech by Peter Pace. It was a very good speech, too — on strategy in Iraq. (Find it here.) Who’s Peter Pace? He’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
And as I was reading, I realized how little I know of our commanders — of the people who are fighting the war (the war in Iraq, and the War on Terror at large). Who are these guys (Pace, Abizaid, Petraeus, et al.)? Where are they from? What are they like? Who are their wives? What are their nicknames? Etc.
Harvey Silvergate writes that although the Bush administration is trying to go after those in the government who leaked the wiretap story to the New York Times, the government could just as easily indict those who work for the paper itself.
A variety of federal statutes, from the Espionage Act on down, give Bush ample means to prosecute the Times reporters who got the scoop, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, as well as the staff editors who facilitated publication. Even Executive Editor Bill Keller and Publisher Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr., could become targets — a startling possibility, just the threat of which would serve as a deterrent to the entire Fourth Estate.
Silvergate himself is no fan of Bush and says the Times revealed "reckless conduct" by the White House.
First, state the obvious -- The 12 deaths are an unspeakable tragedy, the families of the victims should be in everyone's prayers, and any employer negligence that is found deserves swift and harsh punishment.
The blindly partisan blame-gaming without regard to the facts in this morning's New York Times editorial is irresponsible. Here's the worst paragraph (bold is mine):
Political figures from both parties have long defended and profited from ties to the coal industry. Whether or not that was a factor in the Sago mine's history, the Bush administration's cramming of important posts in the Department of the Interior with biased operatives from the coal, oil and gas industry is not reassuring about general safety in the mines. Steven Griles, a mining lobbyist before being appointed deputy secretary of the interior, devoted four years to rolling back mine regulations and then went back to lobbying for the industry.
How about the truth? Here is relevant data The Times could have easily accessed from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Coal Mine Fatalities page (chart can be found here):
ABC's Terry Moran, a new Nightline co-host who was until recently a dogged attack-questioner of the Bush White House -- and of course, an even more recent attack-questioner of Dick Cheney -- sent a very sensible note to the new World News Tonight blog about the Jack Abramoff scandal and how lobbying has grown because the size of government has grown. Now let's see if he sounds like this on Nightline:
The real reason there's so much power for sale in Washington is that there's so much power in Washington. The British newspaper The Independent said today that President Woodrow Wilson could not have imagined today's $4 billion lobbying industry. They are quite right -- but Mr. Wilson could hardly have imagined today's $1 trillion-plus federal government, whose powers reach into every nook and cranny of American life. When the federal government can influence what happens in your business or your backyard or your bedroom -- you are quite properly going to want to influence it right back. That's not corruption; that's self-government. And while it would be swell if that dialogue happened in a pristine, college-seminar-style setting -- or maybe a private club -- free of the grubbiness of real-world interests, it doesn't. This, after all, is America. And we grub.
The heartbreaking story of the 12 miners who died in a West Virginia mine collapse on Monday, January 2, is now common knowledge. The lone survivor remains in the hospital in critical condition. But if viewers were tuned into CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees on Tuesday night, they were in for a surprise.
Anderson was on the scene when he breathlessly delivered the breaking news that 12 out of 13 miners had in fact survived the accident. The chances of these men surviving for days on end without oxygen were nil, but sometimes audiences want to believe in miracles. The families of the deceased certainly did and they acted accordingly, taking part in a spirited celebration at the local church. But several hours later they were faced with a cruel blow. They were told that their family members had died after all.
Bonneville Radio announced yesterday that it will launch Washington Post Radio on three dial settings in the Washington, DC radio market (1500, 107.7, 104.3). Bonneville currently runs WTOP radio, a 24/7 newsradio station in Washington. Are we about to get the Post's liberal bias on the radio, too? Bonneville executive Joel Oxley said in today's Post story, "It's going to be NPR on caffeine. It will be non-drowsy public radio."
Bonneville will own and operate both WTOP and Washington Post Radio. Washington Post Radio's programming will include in-depth local, national and international news and commentary provided by Washington Post reporters, editors, and columnists as well as news makers and other local media personalities.
Before introducing his guest Byron York, Matthews gave the following segue:
Now The National Review, one of the staunchest defenders, a big conservative magazine has said Delay must go.
The above statement was followed with "we're joined right now by Byron York of The National Review and Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation." There was no mention that The Nation is a liberal magazine or that Katrina Vanden Heuvel is a staunch liberal.
York was asked the first question about the recent scandal involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and was hurried and cut off to give his answer. When Vanden Heuvel was asked a similar question, she was given all the time to answer it with a liberal spin. In fact, she praised Sen. Russ Feingold (D) for having "one of the best lobbying and ethics reforms plans". Not so quick, Katrina. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is reporting that Sen. Feingold has received at least $1,250 from Abramoff or his associates. I guess the saying is right, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Of course host Chris Matthews didn't question her, in fact he just completely changed the subject.
Media Mantra: Unhappy Holidays Pessimism about holiday sales went right through Christmas this year.
Were consumers cheerful shoppers or Scrooges this Christmas season? The final sales data aren’t out yet, but the media have scared the dickens out of economy-watchers with the latter theory.
As reported by the Free Market Project in October and December, the media’s annual Christmas shopping gloom-fest started in August this year, well before back-to-school sales had ended. Phrases like “Consumers are pinched” and “Retailers are squeezed” were being uttered on news broadcasts before Labor Day.
Just in case you won’t see these in the Associated Press, the Washington Post or the New York Times, here are two useful tools for use when wading through the Jack Abramoff trial stories.
The first is a list supplied by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called “Democrats Don’t Know Jack???” It lists the forty of forty-five Senate Democrats who’ve accepted cash from Abramoff and/or his clients.
40 Of The 45 Members Of The Senate Democrat Caucus:
We have frequently noted that the political leanings of mainstream media publications can often be seen by what fails to make it into print. In the case of Jack Abramoff, political bias of the Washington Post is obvious in its articles of January 3 and 4. The first article written by William Branigin, Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi and the article dated January 4 penned by only Schmidt and Grimaldi are littered with the names of Republican officials, aides and family members. The articles indicate all of these individuals are being investigated. However, no mention of a Democrat appears in the text.
Today’s copy mentions former House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Representative Robert W. Ney of Ohio, former Delay aides Tony Rudy, Michael Scanlon and Edwin Buckham, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, Representative John T. Doolittle of California, Rudy’s wife Lisa and even DeLay’s wife Christine in connection with an investigation into Abramoff’s admitted guilt on fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public official plea bargain in the Washington U. S. District Court. Their names appear repeatedly in both articles and total of 33 times in the January 4 copy. This was done despite the Post indicating “In court papers, prosecutors refer to only one congressman: Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio).” The article continues saying “Abramoff, who built a political alliance with House Republicans, including former majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, has agreed to provide information and testimony about a half a dozen House and Senate members...”
NYT business reporter/columnist Gretchen Morgenson loves corporate scandals, and she rounds up the year’s greatest hits for an illustrated, above-the-fold story, “The Big Winner, Again, Is ‘Scandalot,’” for Sunday’s Business section year-end wrap-up.
“Same stuff, different year. That’s one way to look at 2005, the fourth consecutive year in which corporate chicanery loomed large….Greed was on display throughout 2005 as throngs of executives pocketed pay that was even greater than the previous year’s. To hear them talk, they deserved the amounts because -- are you sitting down? -- they enhanced shareholder value. Never mind that many of their companies’ stocks ended the year lower than where they began it.”
CBS’s Harry Smith on Wednesday’s “The Early Show” saluted New York Times reporter James Risen, who in a December 16 front-page article exposed an ongoing National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence-gathering operation aimed at thwarting al Qaeda attacks in the U.S., and whose new book, “State of War,” amplifies his concerns with the way the U.S. government has pursued the war on terror.
Shortly after 7:30 this morning, Smith touted his upcoming interview with Risen, advertising him as “the author of a new book the Bush administration does not want you to read.” A few minutes later, he introduced Risen by asserting that the NSA’s surveillance program “has shocked many Americans.” Smith used sinister language to describe the NSA program:
Ever since George W. Bush was elected in 2000, the left-wing media have developed a taste to expose episodes of media corruption. No, not their corruption. Conservative media corruption.
The liberal media made loud grunts and noises over columnist Armstrong Williams, who didn’t tell readers of his column that he had a public-relations contract with the Department of Education to sell the “No Child Left Behind” legislation. If a columnist is working for a government program or entity, it’s always best to disclose to readers your involvement, so they can judge your point of view more fully.
The latest example arrived with columnist Doug Bandow’s inexcusable back-door acceptance of cash from Jack Abramoff for columns promoting his clients’ interests. Williams and Bandow both could argue they were only promoting conservative causes they would support anyway. But the exposures of what they wouldn’t disclose had the opposite effect. It emits the odor of corruption. It made them look like they were primarily advancing conservative issues through columns because there was personal profit involved.
The New York Times evidently sensed a need to respond to last week’s announcement of a Justice Department investigation into who leaked to Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for their December 16 scoop on surveillance of terror suspects in the U.S.
Wednesday’s editorial, “On the Subject of Leaks”, attempts to explain how one set of leaks (Plame’s identity as a CIA employee) was very bad, possibly criminal, and certainly worthy of investigation, while another set of leaks (uncovering the Bush administration’s surveillance of terror suspects without warrants) was a noble and patriotic deed that shouldn't be questioned. It's rough going for the paper, and basic logic doesn’t fare well either.
Once in a while, it happens. TV serves up human drama in real time. So it was on this morning's Today show, when the bereaved son of one of the Sago miners confronted the governor of West Virginia over allegedly lax safety enforcement in the mine.
Matt Lauer began with a stand-up interview at the disaster site of WV Governor Joe Manchin. Lauer then brought in John Bennett, the adult son of Jim Bennett, one of the miners who died. Bennett stood at Lauer's other side.
Bennett described the history of violations in the mine. Lauer turned to Manchin to inquire about the violations. Manchin had launched into his response when Bennett took matters into his own hands.
Bennett, wearing the red cap in the photo here, spoke across Lauer directly to Manchin:
There's a reason or two why Tim Russert rules the Sunday morning news show roost. One of them is he asks tough questions based on preparation. By contrast, on Sunday's "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer displayed the opposite. His interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin looked like the questions of someone who did no homework, like CBS pulled a man out of a Denny's and told him to play journalist -- and they were certainly questions that avoided any kind of toughness on Nagin.
There was nothing, first and foremost on the journalist's plate, about Nagin's wild exaggerations about a death toll of 10,000 and the rampant rape and murder he and his top cops gave to the national media. There was no question asking Nagin about his utter failure to order a mandatory evacuation until the last minute. There was no question asking Nagin about his failure to evacuate citizens by city bus or Amtrak train. There was no question asking Nagin about race-baiting and finger-pointing at FEMA and Team Bush. Schieffer has painted Michael Brown as the picture of incompetence, but Democrat Nagin is presented as a firm leader. Nagin faced only these softballs:
I know Mr. Baker has already noticed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's orations on "Meet the Press," but Mr. Taranto pointed out a Meacham quote that I found especially bizarre. (No, I don't mean him saying John McCain's trying to be a "centrist Reaganist figure." Centrist Reaganist?) Late in the segment, Meacham said of Iraq: "I just think we're in the midst of a vast historical change there, obviously, and one of the things that people in our business have to be careful about is either on a daily or hourly or weekly cycle assigning blame or credit and spinning arrows."
Hell-ooooooo? Newsweek has a snarky weekly feature devoted to assigning blame and spinning arrows called "Conventional Wisdom Watch"? Is Meacham telling us that his Bush-bashing CW is going bye-bye, or is he just having a temporary, if comical, bout of amnesia?
National Public Radio released a poll recently with some rather startling results that the media are likely not going to share with the public. After months of focusing America’s attention on “scandals” surrounding Valerie Plame, I. Lewis Libby, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Bill Frist, the nation’s mainstream press outlets must have been very disappointed to see the following numbers concerning the citizenry’s view of politics and ethics. The pollsters asked 800 Americans the following question:
"Now I would like to read you a list of issues and for each one please tell me whether you think George W. Bush or the Democratic Party would do a better job handling that particular issue. Improving ethics in Washington, D.C."
The results? 43 percent answered “George W. Bush,” while 41 percent said “the Democratic Party.”
Displaying a hostility to President Bush and the Iraq war similar to that expressed by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, on Tuesday’s Late Show David Letterman went further than I’ve ever heard him in revealing his derision for President Bush’s decision to launch the Iraq war and contempt for anyone who dares to criticize Cindy Sheehan. [This node, first posted at 10:45pm EST Tuesday based on a limited video clip preview of the show, was updated and substantially revised at 2am EST Wednesday.]
Letterman normally tries to make the guest look as good and entertaining as possible. But he greeted FNC’s Bill O’Reilly with disdain. When O’Reilly urged an end to tagging Bush as a “liar,” scolded Cindy Sheehan for calling the insurgents “freedom fighters” and urged people to be “very careful with what we say" in disparaging others, Letterman took him to task: "Well, and you should be very careful with what you say also." Letterman demanded: "How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?" And he tried to discredit O’Reilly’s contention: “Have you lost family members in armed conflict?" When O'Reilly conceded that "no, I have not," Letterman castigated him: "Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?"
Letterman mockingly recalled: "The President himself, less than a month ago said we are there because of a mistake made in intelligence. Well, whose intelligence? It was just somebody just get off a bus and handed it to him?" Letterman demanded: “Why the Hell are we there to begin with?" When O’Reilly pointed out that the British, Russians and Egyptians also presumed Iraq had WMD, Letterman retorted: “Well then that makes it all right?" Turning unusually serious, Letterman soon lectured: “I'm very concerned about people like yourself who don't have nothing but endless sympathy for a woman like Cindy Sheehan. Honest to Christ. Honest to Christ." That prompted O’Reilly to contend: “No way a terrorist who blows up women and children is going to be called a ‘freedom fighter' on my program." To which Letterman fired back: “I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap.”
Exactly two weeks after ABC’s Terry Moran, on the December 19 Nightline, pounded away at Vice President Dick Cheney on the treatment of detainees and the eavesdropping story, an interview in which Moran condescendingly proposed to Cheney that the VP’s refusal to refute prisoner-abuse allegations and “surveilling Americans” by the Bush administration, left Moran ashamed of a country he would not want to “pass on” to his daughters, the Monday night broadcast delivered an obsequious session with Democratic Congressman John Murtha. Moran plugged the two-part segment : "Just ahead on Nightline, we'll have a Marine's lonely stand. Lawmaker John Murtha like you've never heard him before. Why this Vietnam combat vet says he'd never sign up for Iraq."
Jon Donvan, who conducted the taped interview in Murtha’s office, never challenged him as he touted Murtha’s “remarkable” comments and how his criticism of the Iraq war came “like a thunder clap” -- as if the media didn’t create the storm. But Donvan didn’t hesitate to try to discredit Murtha’s critics. Donvan contended that “the White House and its supporters set out immediately to smear Murtha's standing as an American” and insisted he’s “protected by his reputation from any smear campaign that wants to suggest he is anti-American or chicken because everyone knows that he is neither.” Donvan maintained that “Murtha's resume on defense is unassailable.” After Murtha agreed with Donvan’s proposition that it was “a wrong war to go into from the beginning," Donvan gushed: "It's very rare, very rare to hear anybody in politics come out and say 'I made a mistake.'”
Donvan also set up Murtha with a “chicken hawk” line of attack: "Do you think in the end that the enthusiasm for going to Iraq that the President had would have been different if, like you, he had actually ever seen combat? Or if Dick Cheney, like you, had ever actually seen combat or Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz or Feith, men who wanted to go to war and had never seen combat?” (Complete transcript, and a link back to Nightline’s hostility to Cheney, follows.)
The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger used today's release by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau of November's Construction Spending Report as an opportunity to take an unsupported swipe at the housing market, and to give government spending full credit for the favorable news.
Here are the topline seasonally adjusted numbers (4-page PDF) released today (in billions; listed in order of November, October and the net change; figures may not add up due to rounding):
Total Construction -- $1,146.4, $1,144.2, +$2.2
By Sector: Residential $648.4, $648.9, -$0.5 Nonresidential $498.0, $495.3, +$2.7
Public and Private: Public $253.9, $253.2, +$0.7 Private $892.4, $891.0, +$1.4
As Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas debut tonight as the co-anchors of "World News Tonight," the traditional liberal bias promises to continue. On today's "Good Morning America," Woodruff reported from Iran, and made sure to equate conservatism with oppression: "One more indication of the growing conservatism here: this week the government closed down a daily newspaper and banned a women’s magazine. It has happened many times before but these are the first to be targeted since the new President was elected in August." Earlier in his 7am half-hour report, Woodruff asserted: “There is a new ultra-conservative President here, who is causing worry both inside and outside this country.”
In an appearance on MSNBC today just after 1 PM Eastern time, Chris Matthews didn't accuse Jack Abramoff of being in the "Republican culture of corruption", but still uses the term:
MATTHEWS: He's cut a deal. The deal means he has to talk and that means if he's plead guilty to bribery that means he's bribed people. (Editor's Note: Thanks Chris for telling us the meaning of bribery) That means he's going to tell people who he bribed and that could be a half-dozen Congressman, it could be more, we've seen reports of more than 20 people involved here, including staffers. Mostly Republicans, not all Republicans who've figured in this story so far. I think it's going to be a big, sleezy story. I'm not sure it's partisan. I'm not sure people are going to see him as part of any Republican culture of corruption.
Matthews then went on to describe Abramoff's looks -- which was kind of scary -- and called him "Satan."