"Thank God for blogs," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow this afternoon, commenting on the Bush administration's communications efforts. The comment came in the course of a conference call for bloggers conducted this afternoon by Snow and Brett McGurk [pictured here], the National Security Council's Director for Iraq, giving a preview of President Bush's speech of tonight on Iraq. I had the opportunity to participate on behalf on NewsBusters.
Snow described the problem with the traditional media - generously I would say - not in terms of bias but as a function of the "if it bleeds it leads" tendency.
Snow indicated that he reads the blogs represented in the conference call. It's clear that the White House views blogs, NewsBusters among them, as playing an important role in cutting through the MSM clutter. Snow also described the frustration of military people in Iraq with media coverage that does not comport with the reality they experience in the field. Snow predicted that service people would begin using their own video cameras and sites such as YouTube and LiveLeak to get the word out. Along those lines, I can say that one of the most empowering aspects of my recent trip to Iraq was the ability to put video up on NewsBusters, at times within an hour of events in the field, as with this report on a training exercise of Iraqi soldiers on the Euphrates river in Anbar province.
Among the encouraging details emerging from the conference call:
"Warsaw's new archbishop, Stanislaw W. Wielgus, caught in Eastern Europe's widening witch hunt for former Communist secret police informers, admitted Friday that he had collaborated with the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, or Security Service, known as the S.B."
ABC continued its global warming hype with, quite appropriately, the weather man. Wednesday’s Good Morning America started its weather forecast with, as he put it, "big, big, big news" that 2006 was the warmest year in 112 years of recording weather. Weatherman Sam Champion asserted the politically correct belief of global warming and then sought to clarify the distinction between individual weather patterns and long term trends. But check out the map: America is apparently on fire, and with an average temperature of 55 degrees.
Then in an unintentionally comical moment, Champion turned to the weather map and discussed a big snowstorm in the northwestern United States. "This is a big system that brings winter to a lot of locations." The transcript is below.
In its rush to anger viewers about private company “ownership” of public roads, the January 9 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” presented only one proponent of privatized toll roads, and then misrepresented his position on the issue, cutting out his defense of private investment.
Anchor Lou Dobbs sounded the alarm about federal highways “now being sold to the highest bidder” as he introduced a story by Lisa Sylvester. Sylvester began by suggesting that “Wall Street is paving the road to highway privatization” and that far from being sound policy, “states are eyeing privatization as a quick fix.”
Sylvester, who earned her master’s degree from the distinguished Medill School of Journalism, then aired a clip of the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole. The sound bite featured the transportation policy expert observing that while “people are frustrated” with congested roads and that “nobody really wants to raise gas taxes.”
Those sound bite selections left viewers with the impression that Poole favors more taxes and government spending on highways, which is far from true. Yet when asked by the Business & Media Institute (BMI) about his reaction to Sylvester’s presentation, Poole assured BMI that he “addressed all their concerns in the material we taped.”
“I was afraid they would selectively use what I said,” Poole lamented in an e-mail, adding he’d “debated whether even to be interviewed” given the show’s previous biased presentation on transportation.
CBS’s Sandra Hughes was once again impressed with California’s liberal policy initiatives. On October 31, 2006, Hughes praised California for tackling liberal issues that ‘the federal government won’t touch," such as funding embryonic stem cell research and for enacting "the nation’s most restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions. And on Wednesday’s "Early Show," in reference to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s health care initiative, Hughes continued to laud California for once again leading "where the federal government fears to tread."
Recently added "Early Show" news anchor Russ Mitchell introduced the piece calling Schwarzenegger’s health care idea a "bold plan." Hughes’ report tried to gain support for the plan by featuring an uninsured man who suffers from diabetes, who claimed that there are a lot of uninsured people in his community, and manyof them are single mothers. Yet, Ms. Hughes neglected to mention that Schwarzenegger’s plan would cover illegal aliens as well as legal California residents. Wouldn’t this type of benefit encourage more illegal immigration, and shouldn’t it, therefore, be explored?
The Associated Press crowed on Jan. 4 that their controversial source "Jamil Hussein" did indeed exist, as it announced:
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.
I've been in touch with Bill Costlow (the CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Training Team) representative) since he has been back in-country and I have a few interesting developments on this story.
Despite the AP's claim that a Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf had confirmed Hussein's existance:
Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf never acknowledged that there was a Capt. Jamil Hussein assigned to the Khadra station, he confirmed to the AP that there was a Capt. Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim assigned there. Apparently he is the source for the AP even though he still, to this day (according to Bill Costlow), denies being the source.
As NewsBusters reported Tuesday, a squabble between ABC’s Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters was either a sign of increasing troubles between the co-hosts of the daytime coffee klatch “The View,” or a publicity stunt for ratings. On Wednesday, we may have gotten the answer as the twosome said some disparaging comments about Rosie’s new foe Donald Trump, and expressed solidarity with an on-camera high-five (video available here, hat tip to Drudge).
For those not getting bored with this story – truth be told, I am at this point, and would suggest Trump, who has already written a response to the twosome, stop feeding this silly fire any further – a transcript follows:
Time magazine devoted its "Ten Questions" interview this week to NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer. Time’s Jeanne McDowell had a light touch, asking about Meredith, and Katie, and squabbling with Tom Cruise. The interview quickly draws the reader to this comparison: Lauer was tougher on Tom Cruise than he was with Hillary Clinton in the famous "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview of 1998, despite the great difference in importance between a president lying in court and an actor/Scientologist fighting with Brooke Shields over anti-depressant pills. It unfolded like this:
What do you consider your best interview?
Hillary Clinton because of the convergence of events that were happening at the time. It was a few days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I fully expected Mrs. Clinton to cancel. She was a scorned woman whose husband had just been exposed for cheating. [The exchange] went extraordinarily well and resulted in the often quoted "vast right-wing conspiracy" interview. But it required as deft a touch as I ever have had to use.
On the Tuesday edition of "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer asked Ted Kennedy whether Iraq and U.S. interests would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power. The CNN anchor spent much of his interview wondering how the Massachusetts Senator would stop President Bush from increasing troop levels in Iraq. However, he only briefly challenged Kennedy on what should be done in Iraq, preferring questions such as, "So, is this Vietnam?" Another example is his query on whether the world's interests would be better served if a dictator such as Hussein were still in power:
Wolf Blitzer:"You voted against that original resolution way back. And you say that was the best vote in your 42 years in the United States Senate. Saddam Hussein was executed, as you know, in the last few weeks. Was the country better off, was the U.S. interests in that part of the world better off under Saddam Hussein?"
"We see his well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso, just a bit of padding around the abs and a drawstring dangling from his form-fitting surfer trunks. The aspiring presidential candidate splashes through the water and squints into the distance; he is transformed into Burt Lancaster in 'From Here to Eternity.'"
Assume for a second that a high-ranking Republican member of Congress published an article at a popular conservative website like National Review Online, Rush Limbaugh.com, or even NewsBusters asking readers for their opinions on the major issues of the day. Think this would generate some outrage from the liberal media?
Today, a new Democratic Congress is working to make America's hopes for a better tomorrow a reality. Here in the Senate, much like Speaker Pelosi's 100-hour plan in the House, our Democratic caucus has already unveiled an ambitious agenda to provide a new direction for America. But there is a lot of work to be done -- so today I'm asking for your input.
It is surprising that this slipped under the radar, but during the Sunday inaugural of Sean Hannity’s new program on Fox News "Hannity's America," the host declared actor Sean Penn an “Enemy of the State” for his vitriolic remarks about the President and others in the Administration (video available here). NewsBusters has reported and chronicled many of Penn's absurd statements here, here, here, and here.
A full transcript of this marvelous segment in which Hannity takes one of Hollywood's most outspoken liberals to task follows:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be campaigning to be the liberal media’s favorite Republican office-holder. On Tuesday, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today publicized his "bold" new plan to offer billions in new state government subsidies to provide "universal" health coverage, even to millions of illegal immigrants. ABC co-host Robin Roberts openly endorsed it: "there is definitely a crisis, and it's good to see at least trying something, something, especially to help those that are uninsured." While ABC seemed to offer no opposition, except to frame it briefly as a potential "budget buster," NBC at least noted critics in small business and opponents of subsidizing (and attracting) illegal immigrants.
MRC’s Justin McCarthy reported that ABC promoted the California health plan as a challenge to President Bush and the new Democratic Congress to follow up and do something similar nationwide:
In an article Wednesday about organized labor's legislative goals for the 110th Congress, USA Today's Sue Kirchoff mischaracterizes a law that would move the union organizing process away from secret-ballot elections, and makes it sound like an improvement in representative government (bold is mine):
The AFL-CIO ..... is looking ahead to a second bill that sponsors call the "Employee Free Choice Act."
The bill would make it easier for unions to gain representation through an open process in which workers sign cards, in addition to secret ballot elections. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot after a union or employer meets requirements to seek one. An employer can also recognize a union if a majority of workers sign authorizing cards.
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann branded White House press secretary Tony Snow "Worst Person in the World," accusing him of "bald-faced lying" about President Bush's so-called "Mission Accomplished" speech about which so much of the media has obsessed. During the January 9 White House Press Briefing, Snow responded to a question in which he took exception to this media obsession over the President's May 1, 2003 speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln declaring an "end to major combat operations" in Iraq. While Snow slightly mis-stated the back story of how the "Mission Accomplished" sign was placed on the ship, Olbermann ignored Snow's overall point that even during that speech, the President had acknowledged that more work lay ahead to stabilize Iraq, and himself deceptively tried to prove that Snow was a "liar." (Transcript follows)
Actor Alec Baldwin -- since he woke up one morning believing that he understood politics and had an opinion that American’s would be interested in hearing -- has said and written a lot of absurd things. His recent rant at HuffnPuff has to rank high on his growing list of most inane.
Please take a seat, and secure all fluids. You’ve been warned (emphasis mine throughout):
All around us are signs of global climate change. And this administration's response is to send in more troops. If you don't think there is a link between the weather and Iraq, you are wrong.
Checking that link about now? Don’t believe me? Well, The Shadow was just getting warmed up:
UPI is wagging its finger at U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez via a group of "Arab leaders" who are warning the government "to fight anti-Arab bigotry." The whole UPI "report" is nothing but the warnings of these so-called leaders about how filled with bigotry the USA is and how the government must fight it.
With all this hooplah, one would imagine that Arabs are being attacked, mistreated and discriminated against all across the country at an alarming rate. Arab "leader" James Zogby even makes the claim that the government must "reverse this disturbing and increasingly accepted trend of anti-Arab and Muslim bias".
Where has Maxine Waters been? It wasn't until she turned up on Tucker Carlson's show this afternoon that I realized how long it's been. Now there is one fun lady. The Representative from California proved the perfect foil, helping Carlson score some wicked points at Nancy Pelosi's expense.
Carlson's fundamental question, and I think it's a good one, is, given that Dems ran and were elected on an anti-war platform, why are they apparently about to go along with the surge? The unstated answer is that they've made a cynical political calculation that it's in their interest to demagogue the issue rather than lead.
Here's how it went down:
Waters: "I certainly, do not trust the President of the United States to lay out a case that is believable . . . I don't trust him. I don't believe him, I won't be supporting it, for sure."
Carlson: "But [Pelosi's] naive enough to believe him. I think I understand the point you're making."
Anyone remembering the ascent of Newt Gingrich to House Speaker in 1995 surely noticed a difference between media coverage of that historic event and Nancy Pelosi taking the gavel back for the Democrats in 2007. One had all the joy of a child’s funeral. The other was New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.
CNN even had a countdown clock to the Democrats regaining the majority. All that was missing was a lighted crystal donkey that would descend down a pole on the top of the Capitol dome. CNN’s Dana Bash called Pelosi’s gavel grab a "moment to savor," surely true for her supporters, but the bitterest of pills to swallow for those who worked their hearts out last year to keep Pelosi and her liberal army from retaking the House. CNN left no doubt where it stood on this divide.
The liberal media despised Newt, and adore Nancy. They’ve demonstrated this by the way they played up the Gingrich threat in the weeks after the ’94 GOP tsunami, while virtually ignoring Pelosi and her radical agenda for the last two months.
"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table - but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, 'what will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq?' It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."
When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided, but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."
CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer interviewed Oscar-favored actress Helen Mirren for Sunday, and CBS sent out press materials highlighting her fondness for nude scenes. She even suggested she and Safer do their interview naked. At his routinely liberal blog for Broadcasting & Cable magazine, reporter John Eggerton applauded the silly idea as "a stroke of genius" in flouting those dictators downtown at the FCC:
For one brief shining moment I was ready to celebrate one of the gutsiest programming moves in recent years, one calculated to suggest the ludicrousness of a fixation on nudity. With CBS fighting the FCC's indecency crackdown, what a stroke of genius to have both Safer and Mirren in the nude for their interview about how Mirren, and her mother, think her past nude scenes (Caligula, Calendar Girls) are no big deal...
Christopher Hedges, the former NY Times reporter infamously booed off a college commencement stage in the middle of an anti-war rant in May 2003 , has a new book out with the hauntingly ambivalent title, "American Fascists -- The Christian Right and the War on America."
Contributor Rick Perlstein reviews it in the Times' Sunday book section and finds it unconvincing (although Perlstein seems to share some of Hedges' paranoia regarding conservative Christians):
"Hedges was a longtime foreign correspondent, for The New York Times and other publications. But he writes on this subject as a neophyte, and pads out his dispatches with ungrounded theorizing, unconvincing speculation and examples that fall far short of bearing out his thesis."
That's as far as the review goes about Hedges' 15-year-history at the Times.
Responding to a handful of liberal complainers, Monday’s NBC Nightly News basically repudiated a Friday evening story in which a NOAA meteorologist blamed the recent warmer-than-normal weather in the Northeast on an El Nino, an area of warmer than normal water in the Pacific Ocean that forms every five years or so.
After some mean-spirited comments on NBC’s “Daily Nightly” blog site, where writers attacked anchor Brian Williams as a tool of big business for not taking the opportunity to blame global warming, Nightly News flip-flopped. Monday’s newscast showcased a brand new expert, and he argued the El Nino cycle was being exacerbated “by humans using the atmosphere as a free place to dump our tailpipe wastes.” Reporter Robert Bazell suggested that “even the heavy snow in the Rockies this year might be partly caused by global warming.”
In case you haven't seen it, over on The Corner, Jonah Goldberg shared correspondence on the AP's Jamil Hussein problem from Michael Schrage, a former reporter for the Washington Post and columnist for the Los Angeles Times unleashing on the "mainstream" media:
Subject: You are, indeed, missing something -
I wrote this piece for the washington post a year ago. It speaks for itself...but the jamail hussein saga is a classic example of unprofessional, plame-like hypocrisy by the AP...
They named their source - many, many times - and it was challenged...there was a myriad of ways they could have handled the query: they could have called in a favor and gotten one of the AP-member newspapers in iraq to 'interview' the guy to vouch; they could have done a podcast with the guy; if the bloggers still insisted the guy was a fraud, then AP itself would be literally accused of not just perpetrating a hoax but perpetuating one...
At ABC's "World Newser" blog, Chuck Lustig, ABC's Director of Foreign News, laments big-money college athletics, represented by Nick Saban's reported eight-year, $32 million contract to coach college football at Alabama. Perhaps he can carry around a protest sign reading "Books Not (Long) Bombs." Expect another blog to follow from an ABC feminist complaining that Alabama's coaches for women's sports are being cheated of larger salaries, a sure Title IX violation. Lustig lamented:
Then I started to think about the $40 million Oprah Winfrey spent to build a school in South Africa and asked the question is there something wrong with our educational priorities in this country that a college coach can make so much money at a time when many of our country's school districts are wrangling with huge deficits?
In her story today on the resumption of the debate on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) in the House, Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press reports the following as fact:
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And scientists aren't sure that stem cells shed by a fetus and extracted from the surrounding fluid carry the same possibility for treatments and cures of diseases as those culled from embryos.
The facts are that:
At least one poll involved asked a misleading question to get a still-not-"overwhelming" result that does not support the characterization of "overwhelming support" she employs.
The poll's sample was skewed to Democrats and strong Democrats.
The "possibility for treatments" for stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid may have MORE disease-eliminating possibilities than those obtained from ESCR will ever have.
Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera was recently being interviewed on a radio station in Florida, and, according to an article at the Orlando Sentinel’s blog on Monday, he harbors some ill feelings towards MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann.
This goes back to Rivera being kicked out of Iraq for divulging too much information about American troop movements. For whatever reason, Rivera feels that Olbermann was responsible for the media hype surrounding this incident (Update with video of KO's response follows):
Apparently Geraldo was visiting with 104.1 FM's Monsters just before Christmas, when they asked him about the time he made international headline [sic] for disclosing too much information about troops in Iraq. Geraldo claimed the incident was blown out of proportion, largely by NBC -- and specifically Olbermann. Geraldo then began mumbling semi-audible names, seemingly meant to describe Olbermann: "midget ... punk ... slimeball."
Is there no bridge too far for Joe Scarborough to cross in defending charges of liberal bias against his NBC/MSNBC employers? On last night's Scarborough Country, Joe adopted a position so sycophantish, even Keith Olbermann might have been embarrassed by it.
Scarborough suggested that NBC News had done the right thing in assembling a panel on the Iraq surge composed exclusively of experts hostile to the President Bush's proposal. Scarborough's suggestion came in the course of a segment on Bill O'Reilly's revealing interview with Andrea Mitchell last week, during which he confronted her on NBC's liberal bias. Video: Real (4.3MB) or Windows (5MB) PlusMP3 (795 KB)