Sometimes, you have to read all the way to the end of an article to find that Time is still asking, like their famous 1966 cover, "Is God Dead?" At the end of its January 29 cover story (or cover essay) by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, the academic drops the typical bomb: religion "devalues life on earth," and the "most famous practioners" of belief in God in our time "hijacked the airliners on 9/11."
In the closing section, titled "Toward A New Morality" (that would be "post-religious morality"), Pinker sought to rebut author Tom Wolfe. He asserted:
...few scientists doubt that they will locate consciousness in the activity of the brain. For many nonscientists, this is a terrifying prospect. Not only does it strangle the hope that we might survive the death of our bodies, but it also seems to undermine the notion that we are free agents responsible for our choices -- not just in this lifetime but also in a life to come. In his millennial essay "Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died," Tom Wolfe worried that when science has killed the soul, "the lurid carnival that will ensue may make the phrase 'the total eclipse of all values' seem tame."
As the 2008 campaign heats up, members of the mainstream media are having trouble deciding between their old favorite (Hillary) and the new flame (Obama). Both CNN and ABC leapt to the defense of Senator Barack Obama after he was accused of attending an Islamic madrassah as a child. (Of course, ABC once devoted an entire episode of "Nightline" to murky allegations that George W. Bush did coke as a younger man.)
But perhaps Obama should be a little worried. The "Early Show" demonstrated exactly why Hillary is still the media’s favorite. Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews told Hillary Clinton that "ideologues on the right" were responsible for the death of her famous health care plan.
ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked another 2008 candidate, Bill Richardson, if, as president, he would please just raise taxes.
It's not uncommon for an interviewer to tell a guest offering orotund pronouncements that he's sounding "like a candidate." But Meredith Vieira took that one giant step further this morning, informing renegade Republican Chuck Hagel that he was sounding downright "presidential."
Of course, nothing sounds more presidential to an MSMer's ears than defeatist criticism of the war in Iraq and by extension of the current occupant of the White House. But when it came to the key question, Hagel, far from flashing presidential timber, equivocated like a garden-variety pol.
Vieira: "Senator, at this point, do you believe we are fighting and dying for nothing?"
Hagel immediately went into bob-and-weave mode: "Well, I think the Congress needs to take a look at it and each member of Congress needs to go on the record and need [sic] to address the issue in a very clear way so that they can go back to their constituents and say yes I either support an escalation to put 22,000 more troops in the middle of a sectarian civil war, or I don't."
For the second time in less than three months, the New York Times is forced to correct basic facts in a story regarding Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke" about U.S. troops being "stuck in Iraq." (TimesWatch pointed out the repeat flub yesterday.)
The Times has appended a thorough correction to political reporter Adam Nagourney's Thursday article.
The headline conveys the obvious impression that our troops are fighting Iraqi soldiers and not terrorists/"insurgents."
Based on the story that follows, the headline is obviously false.
Bryan thought the headline at the original story had been updated, but that turns out to have been incorrect. Yours truly tipped him, and he noted, that the story is still there in all its ignominy. What's more, he noted, by reviewing Google News results, that the false headline, even if corrected now, has spread around the country and around the world. Further supporting the Pandora's Box nature of the AP's journalistic malpractice, here's a regular Google search on the headline (in quotes) showing that it still generates thousands of hits. And even though most of underlying linked stories appear to have different titles now, some (like this one) still have the original.
When the Washington Post notices a conservative personality with a front-page Style section profile, they are acknowledged that he may have Arrived. But that doesn't mean the profile will be nice. David Segal's profile of CNN Headline News and syndicated radio host Glenn Beck starts out on the front page as noticing Beck is a tad more moderate in persona than Bill O'Reilly, acknowledging his own faults and finding gray areas, and "he won't offer the righteous condemnations you'd expect from the God-fearing conservative that he constantly reminds viewers he is."
But turn inside, and Segal has profiled Beck for the purpose of a public whipping by leftists over Beck's questioning of Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison: "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Segal lines up the liberal critics:
We all know the face of real terror. Nick Berg getting his head sawed off by a knife wielding Islamist, suicide bombers laying waste to mass transit in Israel, the World Trade Towers collapsing on the morning of 09/11/01. That is real terror.
But, to Reuters, enforcing U.S. immigration laws is terror.
Words like "fearful", "shock", "afraid" and "terrified" are sprinkled all through the article leaving the impression that something mean and violent is occurring to these poor people. One would think that we are rounding up Mexican and Central and South Americans who are in this country illegally and herding them off to torture camps or to some Holocaust redux.
Sunday's episode of Showtime's drama centered around the lives of lesbians in Los Angeles, the L word, will feature the “Unauthorized Abortion of W,” a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled “U.S. Air Force.” The rockets are angled to suggest they represent forceps. (Showtime is part of CBS.)
In a promo for the January 28 episode, character “Bette Porter,” the dean of a university's art school played by Jennifer Beals, tells a new character played by Marlee Matlin: “I'm bringing one of our biggest donors to tour the studio. There's a radical sculpture.” Through a male interpreter, the deaf Matlin character, whom the L word's Web site describes as “an artist whose work is politically incendiary,” observes: “He's not going to like that piece.” Porter/Beals confirms “no.” Then as a man comes into view, presumably the big donor, the camera quickly pans the figure of Bush in the womb as Matlin explains: “This is called the 'Unauthorized Abortion of W.'” Video clip of Showtime's promo for the January 28 episode (45 seconds): Real (1.3 MB) or Windows Media (1.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (275 KB)
Paul Begala lamented on CNN Tuesday night that President Bush had committed a grave sin by calling his new opposition the "Democrat majority" instead of the "Democratic majority." Liberal reporters in the last few years have called Bush a dictator and compared Vice President Cheney to Darth Vader. But to call someone a "Democrat" is worse? Thursday's Washington Post carried an entire article championing Begala's complaint in the Style section Thursday titled "President's Sin of Omission: Dropped Syllable In Speech Riles Democrats."
It was bad enough for Post columnist Ruth Marcus to devote an entire column of wailing and mourning to this slight in November. Before dutifully recycling Begala's pleas on CNN, reporter Libby Copeland noted that this has long been a part of "Republican warfare" on those people who represent the public interest:
Another classic contrast in media bias is emerging with Saturday’s "anti-war" march on Washington, just six days after the annual March for Life. Already, the Washington Post is showing more love in column inches for the left-wing protest. The Post had no article previewing the pro-life march, but on the front page of Thursday’s Post, in a box promoting its "Faces of the Fallen" pages of the war dead, a promotional blurb:
Actors, Other Activists Plan Mall War Protest
Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon are expected for Saturday’s anti-war rally and March Metro
The article was inside the Metro section, on page B-6. Reporter Michael Ruane’s story was headlined "Large Rally Planned Saturday on Mall: Organizes Oppose Increase in Troops and Plan to Seek Withdrawal Deadline." That’s a little bland for the hard left, especially when UFPJ’s attitude toward the troops is advertised with their website headline "‘We Have A Haditha Every Day’ -- TAKE ACTION!"
As NewsBusters has reported here, here, here, and here, former President Jimmy Carter has gotten himself into quite a pickle over his new book about the Israeli/Palestinian issue.
On Tuesday night, Carter spoke to students at Brandeis University. CNN’s report on this speech during the 7PM EST installment of Wednesday's “The Situation Room” appeared to be rather anti-Semitic potentially in an attempt to deflect criticism for Carter himself expressing anti-Semitic views in his controversial book (video available here, h/t Hot Air).
Early in her report, correspondent Carol Costello stated:
While Vice President Dick Cheney stared daggers into CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer over his pushing questions about his lesbian daughter’s December announcement of her pregnancy, Blitzer insisted it was a “responsible and fair question.” Cheney disagreed. There's an argument that Blitzer's question citing Focus on the Family, when considered alone, is a fair (if not kind) question. There's no doubt that Blitzer's question was a trouble-making question, which could easily serve to sow division among Republicans and press Cheney into making a big gaffe or controversy.
Here’s where it’s clearly unfair. When has a Democratic national candidate’s sons or daughters ever been the subject of a national controversy? Try this as Exhibit A. In 2000, while the networks tried to make great hay in the election’s last weekend over an antique George W. Bush drunk-driving ticket, CNN and the other liberal networks hyper-sensitively avoided the story of Al Gore's teenage son Albert Gore III, caught driving 97 miles per hour on an interstate highway, an offense on the public record, just two days before the 2000 Democratic convention. As I wrote for National Review Online in 2000:
The View co-hosts are so anxious at an opportunity to blast the vice president, that the truth does not seem to matter. On Thursday’s View, co-hosts Rosie O’Donnell, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Joy Behar, and guest co-host Tina Fey weighed in on the recent interview Vice President Cheney gave to CNN regarding Cheney’s lesbian daughter’s pregnancy. Through the course of the conversation they falsely asserted that Cheney is a staunch gay-marriage opponent.
Although token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck thought inquiring into his family life was inappropriate, they all agreed the vice president is a hypocrite for not supporting gay marriage while retaining a strong relationship with an openly gay daughter. Joy Behar summed it up along with her ignorance of the vice president's role.
CNN anchor Lou Dobbs appeared with the ladies on ABC's The View to deliver some rather liberal opinions. He stumped for a minimum wage increase, railed against the influence big corporations have on politics, and pushed for universal healthcare. Interestingly, Dobbs was not grilled the way Bill O’Reilly was on the same show several months ago. Also of note, the co-hosts did not even touch illegal immigration, the one issue where Lou Dobbs is famously conservative.
Rosie O’Donnell asked the question she has been obsessing on lately.
O’Donnell: "Mr Dobbs, do you think that some Senator for principle, if not for follow through, should call for the impeachment of George Bush?"
Dobbs did not answer the question, perhaps because he does not want to upset his CNN colleague Jack Cafferty. Instead, Dobbs sighed and exclaimed "boy" before listing his complaints about Bush administration failings. ABC went to a hard break before O'Donnell and Joy Behar could get a definitive yes or no out of him.
Video clip of Dobbs failing to reject the idea of impeaching President Bush, ending with ABC's hard ad break (56 seconds): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (400 KB)
Why is it so hard for the New York Times to obtain the basic facts of Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke"?
Political reporter Adam Nagourney, like Kate Zernike before him, spins Kerry's November gaffe about U.S. troops "stuck in Iraq" at a political rally in California to make them seem less harmful, in Thursday's "Kerry Will Not Enter Presidential Race."
"But Mr. Kerry’s hopes were probably most damaged by what he said was a botched joke he told while campaigning on behalf of Congressional candidates in the final week of the 2006 election campaigns.
There was a time when conservatives took the mainstream media to task for not covering stories of success in Iraq. I vaguely remember a time past when Laura Ingraham challenged MSM reporters to do the unthinkable such as leave the green zone and talk to Iraqi's so they could put a more honest and balanced perspective on the new. This challenge was met with the kind of puerile outrage and denial that you might expect to get from your child when they are caught doing something both of you know to be unacceptable. The upside of this was that we saw a brief attempt to get reporters out into the field where they could at least say they are reporting from first hand knowledge. It didn't necessarily change the bias in the reports but at least it tempered those reports with an occasional success story even in times where success may be hard to find.
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," ABC’s Jake Tapper continued the media’s campaign to defend Senator Barack Obama against charges that, as a young child living in Indonesia, he attended a madrassah, an Islamic school that teaches virulent anti-Americanism. Co-host Robin Roberts and Mr. Tapper alternatively referred to the charges as "smears," "dirty tricks" and "lies." According to a 1999 MRC Reality Check, ABC gave no such courtesy to then-Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. On August 24 of that year, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel devoted an entire half hour episode to the unsubstantiated rumors that Bush used cocaine as a younger person. Obama, who has admitted trying cocaine as a teenager, was not asked about it in a January 24 GMA appearance. Here is Koppel’s explanation for the media’s interest in Bush’s youth:
Ted Koppel: "So here we are in this curious twilight in which [Bush] plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago."
-Nightline August 24, 1999
And here is the combined defense of Robert's introduction and Tapper's report on the January 25 "Good Morning America."
Robin Roberts: "Now, to the field of contenders, the presidential hopefuls who want President Bush's job. And the dirty tricks seem to have already begun. The target? Senator Barack Obama."
In discussing the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressing disagreement with President Bush, CBS’s "Early Show" only featured sound clips from senators who voted for the measure, including from Senator Chuck Hagel, the lone Republican on the panel to vote for it. There was no video of any of the nine Republicans who voted against the proposal. Though many of these nine oppose President Bush’s troop surge, they view a non-binding resolution to be the wrong tool to express this.
CNN’s "American Morning," however, recognized the differences of opinion on the panel. They aired footage of Indiana Senator and ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar, who opined:
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta found another explanation for why Junior is rolling round the family room with a spare tire: food advertising on the Internet.
It gets better. The study he's citing is 6 months old and hails from the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation. What's more, Gupta didn't give any tips for parents about how to regulate their kids Internet use and only gave 6 seconds to an advertising industry spokesman for comment.
Sounds like Dr. Sanjay has a fever, and the only prescription is bigger government.
UPDATE: I put together clips from Gupta's story, as clips from ABC's "World News" and CBS's "The Early Show" that display similar biases. You can find that video here (Windows Media) and here (Real Player).
Based on what Times Watch has read, “Friends of God: A Road Trip With Alexandra Pelosi,” the documentary on Christian evangelicals airing on HBO tonight (Pelosi being the daughter of you-know-who) seems more respectful than the contemptuous anti-Christian commentary it's generated, including a paragraph Thursday from television critic Alessandra Stanley.
It's probably one of the most awkward things to do for any broadcaster, making that transition from a hard news story about war or a tragic plane crash into a lighter feature story about, say, the latest Hollywood gossip about Bradgelina. It's commonplace on the morning shows for a Meredith Vieira or Diane Sawyer to make that hard turn from a story on Iraq to a piece on the hottest fashion trends, the commonly heard phrase is: "On a lighter note." Well it seems David Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer on this morning's Today show, hasn't quite mastered that segue. After a Robert Bazell piece about military combat hospitals in Iraq that featured images of wounded soldiers in surgery it was up to Gregory to make that transition, except the story he was throwing to wasn't exactly an upbeat one.
The National Center for Public Policy Research's health policy analyst, David Hogberg, is impressed by Paul Krugman -- by Krugman's mastery of spin, that is.
Here's David's look at the way Krugman is covering some of President Bush's recent statements on health care reform:
I have to admire Paul Krugman's ability to deceive with spin. He is a master at it. This passage from his last column is a quintessential example:
Mr. Bush is also proposing a tax increase ... on workers who, he thinks, have too much health insurance. The tax code, he said, "unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need."
As reported by NewsBusters here and here, there is a battle going on between liberal bloggers and a conservative radio station in San Francisco, California.
Though arriving at the party somewhat late, USA Today covered this story on Wednesday: “In a dispute between the ‘new media’ of the Internet and the ‘old media’ of broadcasting, liberal bloggers and conservative talk-radio hosts are accusing each other of trampling the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech.”
As this issue has surfaced coincident with liberal members of Congress proposing a media reform bill that would require, amongst other things, conservative talk radio stations to give equal time to opposing viewpoints during their broadcasts, doesn’t this raise quite a compelling hypocrisy inherent in what the left sees as free speech?
In a sign of just how much the Internet is changing the way people get their news, the Los Angeles Times rolled out a new strategy Wednesday designed to focus more attention on web-based delivery.
As reported by the Associated Press (h/t Drudge): “The Los Angeles Times Media Group said Wednesday it is reorganizing the newspaper's newsroom into an around-the-clock operation with an emphasis on breaking news on its Web site and offering expanded coverage in its print edition.”
Certainly, one could ask: What took you so long? After all, though most dailies have a web presence that updates news that is reported throughout the day by the nation’s various wire services, most original content is reserved for publication at the start of the new day.
Unfortunately, in an Internet world, this makes such content stale and “old news.” It therefore seems that the LA Times has finally realized what many have known for years:
Has there been any phrase that has been so used and abused by the Democrats as they seek to give themselves cover? But in one fell 'slip', Chuck Schumer gave away the game this morning: the claim to support the troops is a sham. Supporting the troops is merely something to be figured out later. It's an afterthought, to be addressed after Democrats, with some Republican support, rush through a resolution telling our troops that the mission for which they are putting their lives on the line is not just meaningless but absolutely antithetical to our nation's interests.
David Gregory interviewed Sen. Schumer on this morning's "Today."
Gregory: "The Vice-President is dismissive of this [resolution] effort yesterday saying it's not going to stop the president, and in fact he goes further, saying this will be detrimental to the troops on the ground."
Schumer: "Absolutely not, and I think it's going to be shown, when this resolution comes up, and it is non-binding, my guess is that not only are we going to get a vast majority of Democrats to vote for it in one form or another, but close to a majority of the Republicans. And that is going to shock even Vice-President Cheney."
Gregory: "But how can the public really buy the Democrats support the troops but don't support the mission? How can you do both?"
Schumer: "Well, that's the difficulty. A resolution that says we're against this escalation, that's easy. The next step will be how do you put further pressure on the administration against the escalation but still supporting the troops who are there? Andthat's what we're figuring out right now."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly report on "mass layoffs" yesterday. It also included annual totals and an eleven-year chart of mass layoff history.
A "mass layoff action" involves "at least 50 persons from a single establishment." Since 1988, employers have been required to give 60 days notice of "covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs." The BLS Mass Layoffs report compiles those notices.
Now that 2006 is in the record books, here is that eleven-year chart:
As you can see, the total number of "layoff events" in 2006 came in at the lowest on record (BLS began compiling these statistics during the second quarter of 1995), while the number of people who filed unemployment claims as a result of those layoffs was the lowest in 10 years. On a percentage-of-workforce basis, the number of unemployment claims filers in 2006 was also, along with the layoff events, the lowest in the 11 full years BLS has reported on this information.
Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, is responding to reader questions in the paper's editions this week.
Among those he addressed this morning is the one below:
Q. Please tell us your voting record for the past ten years. I want to confirm your liberal bias.
A. I'm always amazed at the certitude with which people make assumptions about journalists and their political views. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I have voted for Republicans and Democrats over the years. And I published a book in 2003, Secret Empire: Eisenhower, The CIA, and The Hidden Story of America's Space Espionage (Simon & Schuster), that recounts President Eisenhower's critical leadership role in the development of spy satellites and other breakthroughs in military and intelligence technology during his presidency.
Let's analyze Taubman's response. "I'm sorry to disappoint you" implies a denial, but Taubman never does quite deny being a liberal. Instead, he first offers up the claim that "over the years" he has voted for Republicans and Democrats.
On Wednesday's The View, the morning after the State of the Union address, Barbara Walters oozed about how it was a “treat to see the first female Speaker of the House” as she hailed Nancy Pelosi with a hearty fist-raised “hooray” while Rosie O'Donnell sang “I am woman, hear me roar,” O'Donnell denounced Bush for praising the subway hero when he sends Americans “to die in Iraq,” Joy Behar charged that Bush's insistence on the surge in the face of public opposition means the U.S. is “not a democracy anymore” and that led O'Donnell to urge Bush's impeachment.
O'Donnell's chastisement of Bush for daring to pay tribute to Wesley Autrey: “I think it's interesting, too, that he wants to hail this hero in New York, who is obviously a great man, who saved a stranger's life. One man's life, worth it. But he sends 20,000 new Americans over to die in Iraq.” O'Donnell soon asserted that “someone, I believe, should call for the impeachment of George Bush” so “the world knows that the nation is not standing behind this President's choices, that the nation, a democracy, feels differently than the man who is leading as if it were a dictatorship, and that we represent this country, he does not lead as a monarch.” Behar chipped in: “Amen.” (Noel Sheppard's earlier NewsBusters item highlighted O'Donnell's call for Bush's impeachment.)
Video clip #1, of Walters and O'Donnell gushing over Pelosi (38 seconds): Real (1.1 MB) or Windows Media (1.3 MB), plus MP3 audio (200 KB)
A night after CNN anchors fretted about how Katrina and the recovering Gulf region were “thunderously missing” from President Bush's State of the Union address, CBS and NBC picked up the cause. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric regretted on Wednesday night how “there was not one mention of Katrina, though the suffering and hardship continue.” Noting that “there are still 13,000 people living in FEMA trailers,” Couric asserted: “Some who lost everything are asking, 'What about us?'” Reporter Armen Keteyian, a veteran of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, featured one New Orleans man who, “like many here, watched the President's speech, his rage rising with every word." Keteyian listed how “there were 5,596 words in the President's speech last night,” and insisted that “reaction to the fact that not a single one was either Katrina or Louisiana was felt...all across the Gulf." Kateyian concluded with how “words like 'relief' and 'recovery' now seem as empty to them as last night's presidential address.”
Leading into an image of a headline in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “New Orleans left out of president's script,” as if a local newspaper story should have national import, David Gregory highlighted on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News: “That focus on Iraq, and the political toll it's taken, has led the White House to divert its attention from other priorities -- like rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina. Last night, not a word. The omission was headline news.”