On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" not only to demand that President Bush apologize to American troops over the Iraq War, but he also blamed Bush for inspiring acts of "domestic terrorism" against critics, a la King Henry and Archbishop Thomas Becket, and bizarrely chose to inject racism by making a comparison between Bush supporters attacking the President's opponents and the 1856 caning of anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner by pro-slavery Congressman Preston Brooks, and at one point even mentioning charges of racist "fear of miscegenation" in the current Tennesee Senate race. As Olbermann concluded his rant, he addressed Bush: "You instructed no one to mail the fake Anthrax [received by Olbermann], nor undermine the FBI's case, nor call for the execution of the editors of the New York Times, nor threaten to assassinate Stephanie Miller, nor beat up a man yelling at Senator George Allen, nor have the First Lady knife Michael J. Fox, nor tell John McCain to lie about John Kerry. No, you did not, sir. And the genius of the thing is the same as in King Henry's rhetorical question about Archbishop Thomas Becket: 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' All you have to do, sir, is hand out enough new canes." (Transcript follows)
On the heels of reporter Suzanne Malveaux saying "we hope" John Kerry’s gaffe goes away, another CNN employee is letting the personal political opinions fly. New CNN afternoon anchorman Don Lemon interviewed Rev. Jesse Jackson Wednesday on the occasion of his 65th birthday, and after noting Jackson’s adultery and asking pointed questions about whether he’s still relevant, Lemon lauded him as a major historical figure: "But for the most part he is an appreciated person in society, in America, and someone who most African-Americans, at least speaking for myself, think that he has made huge contributions, especially when it comes to civil rights." A few hours later, while informally gathering interviewing Jackson’s daughter Santita and Sen. Barack Obama’s wife Michelle for a chat, Lemon cooed: "Let me get you guys right here. Daughter of the great one who's turning 65. Wife of the great one now."
Well the media has spoken - Kerry has apologized. Game over.
Amazingly the media refused to give Pope Benedict the same benefit of the doubt back in September. Remember when the Pope used some ancient text regarding Islam during a speech and Muslims went off on another version of the Cartoon Jihad? The Vatican released a statement on behalf of Pope Benedict in response to the Muslim reaction. Here is a snip from the statement...
"The Holy Father thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions."
The media's coverage left no doubt that the Pope's statement was not an apology...
“The John Kerry flap may have been the major political story yesterday, and even today,” Brit Hume accurately noted in his Wednesday “Grapevine” segment since, indeed, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts led with it both Tuesday and Wednesday night. But he observed, “you might not have known that from the newspaper coverage. Not a single front-page headline in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or USA Today. The Times cast it as a chance for the President to attack Kerry. Not until the 15th paragraph, on page 18, does a reader learn what Kerry actually said.” Hume also picked up on how ABC framed the story: “On ABC News, the Kerry flap was described as quote, 'an object lesson in how in this day and age an idle political remark gets seized upon.'" A late Tuesday night NewsBusters posting, "ABC's Gibson: Kerry's Dumb 'Get Stuck In Iraq' Merely an 'Idle Political Remark,'" distributed in Wednesday's MRC CyberAlert, highlighted the characterization by World News anchor Charles Gibson.
And Hume relayed how ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin, on the Hugh Hewitt's radio show, “says well over 70 percent of the people working on his network's political coverage are liberal, and would vote Democratic.”
Apparently, the Times' headline wants readers to believe that these "fireworks" just happened on their own. Even the sub-headlines make no mention of Kerry's actual words from Monday. In fact, the Times baselessly drags the GOP into the mix. "New flap in Virginia race; Bush and Kerry battle like it's 2004." "Missouri could be the key." (bold added)
CNN has already made it crystal clear that the cable network is taking sides in the midterm election. Political reporter Bill Schneider reinforced that view with a report on Wednesday’s "American Morning" that sounded like something straight out of Democratic talking points. During the segment, he offered occasional asides that "spoke" for the voters. Here’s one example:
Bill Schneider: "When Americans concluded the Vietnam war was unwinnable, they turned against it. When they began to see Iraq as a civil war between rival Islamic sects, their frustration mounted. Why should that be our war? Six months ago 44 percent of Americans felt the United States would never accomplish its mission in Iraq. Now, a majority feel that way. The administration's response? Turn the question on the Democrats. What's their alternative?"
At the MRC's Business & Media Institute (BMI), we've tracked CNN's war on the economy. Today, Fox News's Brenda Buttner took on the media's negative slant with some cold hard facts:
“If you listen to the Democrats or listen to much of our media, our economy is in dire straights, but pay attention just to the numbers, well they tell a very different story... Number one, Americans employed, there's essentially full employment in the U.S..."
Buttner added that despite media talk of the housing slowdown, the "bottom line [is that] more and more of us today are fortunate enough to enjoy a piece of the American Dream" as 70 percent of Americans own their home.
ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson visited the ladies of The View Wednesday morning to discuss a range of topics, from next week’s midterm election and John Kerry’s controversial remark to liberal media bias. Gibson argued that the controversy surrounding Senator Kerry’s recent statement that those who fail to make use of their education will end up "stuck in Iraq," was in reference to President Bush and that Republicans "grabbed" onto the statement to energize the GOP base. When asked by Elisabeth Hasselbeck about a perceived liberal bias in the media, fellow co-host Rosie O’Donnell laughed off the notion, while Gibson stated that balance is something he strives for:
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "What do you think about the, the fact that a lot of people are talking about a media bias? You know, that they can see seventy-some odd percent of the news stories that come out have a liberal slant versus maybe twelve that, that have a more conservative slant? How do you respond to that?"
Rosie O’Donnell: "I would say that’s a Fox poll and I don’t think it’s accurate..."
Charles Gibson: "...There is no such thing as objectivity, there is just lesser degrees of subjectivity...And you have to, all the time, say to yourself, are we being fair? Are we being down the middle, as we can? And I simply can tell you that is something which, which I try to implant on everybody at World News."
The real fireworks on today’s chat fest, however, occurred prior to the segment with Gibson, between Hasselbeck, the View's token conservative, and liberal Joy Behar:
Wednesday’s "Early Show" on CBS highlighted Senator John Kerry’s disparaging remarks about the American military in three separate segments, but instead of expressing outrage at Kerry’s comments, CBS seemed more concerned that the Republicans may use them for political gain in the midterm elections. While CBS omitted mentions that some Democrats have refused to campaign with Kerry and others have asked that he apologize, the network pondered if the outrage expressed by Republicans was an effort to "fire up the base" or simply a "desperate" attempt to change the subject.
Co-host Hannah Storm inquired of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow if President Bush’s demand that Kerry apologize to the troops was genuine or:
Laura Ingraham drove home the point this morning that Kerry's remark should have more resonance, not only because of his slurs on American soldiers going back to 1971, but also a pronounced liberal tendency to equate the military with the proverbial poor, uneducated, and easy to command, as the Washington Post once described the religious right. She cited (and Brent Baker originally reported) actor Richard Belzer on the Bill Maher show on HBO in March, who said it was "BS" to ask the soldiers their opinion on Iraq:
Belzer: They're not, they don't read twenty newspapers a day. They're under the threat of death every minute. They're not the best people to ask about the war because they're gonna die any second.”
Can't be because this is 6 days before an election, right?
At any rate, it seems even a liberal pundit cited in the cover story isn't falling for the Lou Dobbs lament that the halcyon days of the middle class are behind us:
“Looking back” with nostalgia “to a golden age of the middle class doesn’t wash,” the USA Today reporter wrote, citing Jason Furman of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. “Overall health care is better now, for example, and far fewer people a generation ago expected to go to college,” Waggoner conceded.
Despite the fact that former Vice President Al Gore invented the information superhighway, Market Wire reported Wednesday that more Republicans use the Internet than Democrats (hat tip to Drudge): “Nielsen//NetRatings (NASDAQ: NTRT), a global leader in Internet media and market research, announced today that 36.6 percent of U.S. adults online are Republicans, 30.8 percent are Democrats and 17.3 percent are Independents. With campaign Web sites becoming increasingly important to reaching the electorate, candidates need to keep their fingers on the political pulse of the Internet.”
For those who already suspect the New York Times has a liberal bias, the Halloween night Times Talk at the New York Historical Society on Manhattan's Upper West Side didn't provide too many scares.
"Writing About Politics in an Age of Contention" featured Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins, Managing Editor Jill Abramson, and Assistant Managing Editor Richard Berke, along with non-Times people Al Hunt, formerly the executive editor for the Wall Street Journal, and Dick Polman, reporter-blogger for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The usual liberal conventional wisdom prevailed, with little disagreement about anything (everyone seemed convinced Democrats would win the House, but warned that Democrats had been sure of victory before).
The firestorm ignited on Tuesday concerning Sen. John Kerry’s insensitive remarks in front of a group of students in Pasadena, California, once again demonstrates the media’s double-standard regarding jokes made by politicians: if you’re a Democrat, the press get it; if you’re a Republican, fuggetaboutit!
Whether you buy into Kerry’s explanation that this was all a botched joke is irrelevant. The reality is the media have, and they’re out in force pushing this line of thinking to douse water on this firestorm as quickly as possible. The much larger issue is how this compares to previous events when the press weren’t as forgiving of a joke that went awry, in particular, what occurred in December 2002 when Trent Lott made an innocent comment at the 100th birthday party of Strom Thurmond. If you recall, that forced him to resign his position as de facto Senate Majority Leader. These were Lott’s comments on that fateful day (video here):
Writing at National Review, Byron York recounts the story behind the recent incident where a left-wing activist was tackled at a George Allen campaign event after asking a question about the senator's ex-wife:
The question might not make much sense to
anyone who hasn’t kept up with both the race between Allen and Democrat
James Webb and the commentary of the left-wing blogosphere. If you have
kept up, you know that left-wing bloggers have been agitating for the
release of the records from Allen’s divorce from his first wife, Anne.
There is a rumor among those bloggers that the records will reveal an
allegation that Allen spit on Anne Allen, and the bloggers have been
angry that press outlets have not reported the story.
week, when the Allen campaign pointed to sexually exotic passages in
Webb’s novels, some of those bloggers saw an opportunity. On Thursday,
Josh Marshall, of TalkingPointsMemo, wrote that Allen had crossed some sort of line by “mining Jim Webb’s novels for sex scenes.”
“If Allen really wants to play rough,” Marshall wrote, “maybe it’s time
for some Democrats to start going on the shows and asking about that
sealed divorce records of Allen’s. All those reporters have a pretty
good idea of what’s in there. But Sen. Allen (R-VA) just won’t agree to
let them see it.”
Since Kerry's "the troops are stupid" remarks were reported on Newsbusters yesterday, the story has truly grown some legs. This has caused the MSM to bend themselves into pretzels to explain away Kerry's typically anti-military remarks and leading the pack, as always, is the "Paper of broken record", the New York Times.
In a piece titled ”Bush Attacks Kerry for Remarks on Iraq Troops”, the Times spends nearly the entire story making this out to be a Bush/Republican issue and barely even takes the time to mention what it is that Kerry said to initiate the incident in the first place, casting the entire story into the rote Republicans-are-at-fault mode.
The story, by Adam Nagourney and several other contributors (amusing that it took a whole committee to make this spin up), nearly ignores Kerry’s actual remarks not even bothering to mention the phrase that caused this whole dust up until the 15th paragraph.
The 14 paragraphs before that has some anti-Bush doozies, too.
There are occasions in the news coverage of campaigns where fevered imagination kicks in and calm, comparative reason takes a holiday. Here we go again, and this time it’s Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic contender for the Senate in Tennessee who is getting the red carpet media treatment. Ford is an attractive black “rising Democratic star,” whose only obstacle is Tennessee’s inability to get beyond its sordid racist past.
The East Coast media recently parachuted into Tennessee to explore if the state was still so backward as to elect yet another Republican. On its front page, The Washington Post began a story with John Layne, aging white Republican, who came to a Ford rally because he has emphysema and worries about health care. "Oh, sure, there's some prejudice," Layne said. "I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one." But apparently, he’ll vote for one if the government benefit checks are good.
Just yesterday a reader brought to my attention the sudden TV ubiquity of John Harwood. He pointed out that - CNBC and Wall Street Journal credentials notwithstanding - Harwood is a predictable liberal voice. And sure enough, it was none other than Harwood that David Gregory chose for a comment on L'Affaire Kerry on this morning's 'Today.' And darn if that reader wasn't right about Harwood's leftward tilt. Let's read and analyze Harwood's statement:
"It's difficult to see, in a campaign dominated by unhappiness about the Iraq war, how these comments will be a driving force in the last few days."
While some tabloids capture the drama of John Kerry's uneducated-people-stuck-in-Iraq joke ("KERRY KALAMITY," says the New York Daily News), the nation's biggest newspapers have headlines draining the drama out of the story, and certainly leaving the contents of the "joke" out of the headline:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- So much for the Republican charm offensive toward minorities. Black voters are far less likely to approve of the way President Bush is doing his job than voters generally and they are more likely to feel that the country is on the wrong track, disheartening news for a Republican Party that has been trying to curry favor with minority voters in recent years.
Here at NewsBusters, the last thing we'd want to do is sow discord among the liberal house columnists of the New York Times. But present purposes oblige me to let Bob Herbert know that his colleague Maureen Dowd doesn't read his column.
That's the only way to explain Dowd's claim in her column this morning that the people "tut-tutting" about Barack Obama's presidential ambitions are Republicans. According to Dowd, those mean GOP types are putting Obama down because of his lack of foreign policy experience.
You, mean, Maureen, as in this statement?:
"In an appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, [Obama] made it clear that he was considering . . . a run. With all due respect to Senator Obama, this is disturbing. . . [he] has a very slender résumé, very little experience in national politics, hardly any in foreign policy."
-- One liberal message in the week before elections has been questioning the reliability of election devices, softening up the public for widespread litigation if Democrats are losing in any close races. On Thursday night, HBO will air a documentary entitled "Hacking Democracy." It's being widely advertised on liberal blogs with a poor-President-Gore spin: "In the 2000 Presidential election, a vote-counting computer recorded negative votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, FL. If our votes aren't safe, then our democracy isn't safe, either."
-- MediaBistro's GalleyCat blog on the book biz suggests Sen. Barack Obama isn't such an idealistic Goody Two Shoes, at least when it comes to striking Hillary-like book deals with the big advance up front to avoid Senate ethics rules:
Introducing the lead story on Tuesday's World News about John Kerry's seeming insult of troops in Iraq -- or at the very least that Bush is stupid -- ABC anchor Charles Gibson characterized it as merely an “idle political remark” as he fretted the attention it got from alternative media outlets and how that crowded out other issues: “What happened today is an object lesson in how in this day and age, an idle political remark gets seized upon, becomes fodder for the talk shows, the blogs, and the politicians, and suddenly obscures discussion of all other issues.” Following the story by Jake Tapper, which included shots of NewsBusters (see NewsBusters item with video and screen capture), Gibson pressed George Stephanopoulos about presumed White House duplicity: "George, does anyone at the White House really think that Senator Kerry was in some way denigrating the intelligence of American troops?" Stephanopoulos assured him: "Not exactly, but they don't think it's their job to give John Kerry the benefit of the doubt.”
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann came to the defense of Senator John Kerry in the aftermath of the Democratic Senator's comment that those who don't study and get an education "get stuck in Iraq," interpreted by many as an attack on the intelligence of American soldiers. As Olbermann contended that the comment was really meant to be an attack on President Bush's intelligence, Olbermann accused the Bush team of being "stupid" for not seeing Kerry's comments as an attack on the President. Olbermann: "Kerry called them stupid, and they were too stupid to know he called them stupid." Olbermann later charged that First Lady Laura Bush had "gotten into the gutter" and suggested she may have "gone deeper into the muck than Limbaugh" because of her recent comments regarding actor Michael J. Fox's political activities, that it is "easy to manipulate people's feelings...when you're talking about diseases that are so difficult." (Transcript follows)
CAFFERTY: Well, listen, it's tailor-made for the media. We get so sick and tired of, you know, running sound bytes of the candidates that when somebody comes along and does something that's even this much out of ordinary, we pounce on it like cats on a mouse and drag it around until it's dismembered on the living room floor.
ZAHN: Will it be dismembered by election night is the question, Jack Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: If we have our way with it, it will be.
BLITZER: I'm sure there'll be something else that will pop up between and probably an hour from now.
"And, of course, Paula, what is really telling here is that Kerry, for most of the day, was alone in his explanations, and trying to figure all of this out -- Democrats quietly saying that they really wish Kerry had kept quiet on this one.
"But, late in the day, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement, criticizing President Bush's criticism of Kerry. And, then, Paula, late in the day as well, we got yet another press release from Kerry, criticizing, reacting to Bush's criticism of him earlier in the day, calling it smear.
During a discussion on Tuesday's CBS Evening News about John Kerry's seeming insult of troops in Iraq, anchor Katie Couric invoked a deep voice as she mimicked an imaginary possible Republican ad of the future: “John Kerry insults the troops. Do we really want the Dems to take over?” Couric offered her impersonation, an odd persona to be taken on by a broadcast network anchor, during a segment with former Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry and former Bush Communications Director Nicolle Wallace. McCurry, confident the media will quickly move on, had predicted: "By this time tomorrow night people won't remember what John Kerry said because the story line will move on and they're be talking about Iraq and how badly the war is going...” Couric turned to Wallace and set up her impersonation of the announcer in an anti-Democratic ad: "Will this really be forgotten by this time tomorrow? Do you think Republican operatives are putting this comment into political campaigns all over the country?” (Full exchange follows)
This evening's edition of ABC's World News highlighted the role NewsBusters played in getting out the story of John Kerry's controversial comments on education and "getting stuck in Iraq."
NewsBuster Warner Todd Huston was among the first in the blogosphere to break the story. As ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper described how "the Republican PR machine mov[ed] into high gear . . . and conservative blogs and talk radio had a field day," two images of NewsBusters appeared on-screen, including one showing Huston's story.