It’s a tale of two presidential campaigns on page A26 of Sunday’s New York Times.
At the top of the page, Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “Testing Presidential Waters As Race at Home Heats Up” follows Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen around the state in preparation to running for a second term -- and possibly for president in 2008.
The text box emphasizes Allen’s conservatism:
“A Republican faces the delicate task of tacking right without alienating his base.” Stolberg also references Allen’s “conservative voting record” and the fact that “Fiscal conservatives seem to like him, but social conservatives are uneasy.”
She also notes that 2006 “is looking up for Democrats” and that Allen’s “re-election bid just got tougher than he expected” when James Webb, a Navy secretary under Reagan, got into the Democratic primary.
It was only a small item carried on the headline banner of Fox News Channel March 25. The report told newsreaders that in Cheshire, Massachusetts, and unknown anti-war protesters had sprayed painted graffiti across a memorial honoring a soldier who died in the first days of the war in Iraq. This incident was not even worthy of a mention in any major media print publication or on other television outlets.
Any report showing the gross inappropriateness of the anti war movement is generally ignored by the mainstream press today. One would be required to search long and hard to find any coverage reflecting either a distortion of facts or distain for anti war actions. In reality, the traditional media outlets of this country are more than supportive, if not encouraging of the movement.
Sean Hannity has made border security and illegal immigration a major cause, spending time at and broadcasting shows from our border with Mexico. Give GMA credit for having Sean on this morning's show to discuss the issue. That said, Charlie Gibson put on a display of bleeding-heart liberalism at its most predictable, confusing compassion with tolerance of criminality.
Gibson wasted no time: "Let's start with the House bill. It would build a wall along our southern border, turn 12 million people into felons and make it criminal to give an illegal immigrant help. Is that what this country is about?"
Countered Hannity: "I think this country is about laws and the rule of lawand I think you've got to come into this country and do it the way my grandparents did it, which is legal."
After Woodward and Bernstein's work on Watergate, too many reporters were "Woodstein wannabes," desperate for instant success by uncovering the next big scandal
Re: "Newspapers then, and now," Tanya Barrientos' March 18 column:
Watergate may have been journalism's finest hour, but what it spawned is not. Journalism of the '80s and '90s was peppered with "Woodstein wannabes." The young, hard-charging reporter could become rich and famous by either working in the trenches for 40 years or toppling a politician or businessman via gotcha journalism. As a Republican press secretary in the 1980s, I fended off more questions about sleazy girlfriends, supposed kickbacks, and alleged drug use than anything about tax reform, foreign policy or national infrastructure.
Robert Klein Engler is an author and member of the Illinois Minuteman Project. After the massive protests in Chicago opposed to reforming immigration, WGN Chicago invited Engler on the air to talk about the issue and represent the group. But Engler says he was invited under false pretenses.
Engler wrote a report of his experience at the studio:
Many of those involved in the Illinois Minuteman Project believe the Chicago media is biased towards illegal immigrants. At best the media is ill informed and at worst it is simply the propaganda arm for the Democratic Party and the Clan of Bridgeport. Recently, I was invited to appear on WGN's TV-News program, Adelante, as a representative of The Illinois Minuteman Project to see if what we believe about the media is true. What happened was an eye-opener.
I was asked to represent the IMP by its director Rosana Pulido. She was told to send someone who would be on the program with a woman representing the Latino community to talk about U. S. House of Representative's Bill H. R. 4437. That bill would make being an illegal immigrant in the U. S. a felony crime. When I arrived at the TV station and was taken to the green room, I soon discovered what I had prepared for was not going to happen. The discussion I planned to attend turned into a setup.
America should prepare itself for a continuous onslaught of “Democrats Will Take Back Congress” articles in the next seven and a half months. TIME magazine published one on Sunday entitled “Republicans on the Run.” In it, the authors proudly proclaimed: “In recent weeks, a startling realization has begun to take hold: if the elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives and could come within a seat or two of losing the Senate as well.”
Now, the word “privately” was emphasized by me to make a point that becomes quite clear in the article: TIME couldn’t find any top strategists from either party to make this claim publicly. Instead, what TIME did was issue a bold prediction while neglecting to provide the reader any statistical evidence as to the likelihood of it coming true.
Alas, if facts were actually important to the article’s authors rather than idle speculation, they could have either questioned top political strategist Charlie Cook, or referred to an article he coincidentally wrote on this very subject in Saturday’s National Journal: “Despite national political trends indicating that the GOP is in serious trouble, a race-by-race ‘micro’ analysis suggests that Democrats cannot easily seize control of the House or the Senate this fall.”
Unlike TIME, Cook, who is considered to be non-partisan, actually used arithmetic and simple logic to analyze the current political landscape. How refreshing:
Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” (hat tip to Crooks and Liars) spent a lot of time Sunday addressing the firestorm started this week by radio host Laura Ingraham over negative media reports out of Iraq. One of Kurtz’s guests was Lara Logan of CBS who was clearly not pleased with these assertions. In fact, Logan, reporting from Iraq, appeared rather defensive (video link to follow).
Kurtz began the show:
“Souring on the war. As President Bush goes toe to toe with White House reporters, are news organizations turning against the war in Iraq? Are they focusing almost exclusively on the car bombings and mosque attacks and brushing aside signs of progress? Three years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, are they playing to the opinion polls with skeptical, even hostile coverage, or is the administration just blaming the messenger.”
After a few video clips of the president and vice president, Kurtz said to Logan: “Bush and Cheney essentially seem to be accusing you and your colleagues of carrying the terrorist message by reporting on so many of these attacks. What do you make of that?”
Logan responded: “Well, I think that's -- that is a very convenient way of looking at it.” Logan then blamed the lack of balance in Iraq media reports on security issues:
Over at the CBS News blog Public Eye, Brian Montopoli broke down the Rich Noyes Media Reality Check on the trial of Saddam Hussein. Montopoli seems to be missing a major point of Rich's: that the very trial itself is newsworthy in that it demonstrates the difference between the political system under Saddam and the political system in Iraq today, which instead of merely slaughtering Saddam in two minutes -- the way he often conducted business -- Iraq is attempting to create a rule of law:
First, there doesn't seem to be much doubt about Saddam's guilt at this point. There have been many news reports about Saddam's time in power in Iraq, and it's pretty clear to almost all observers that he's responsible for some truly horrendous crimes. That's not to say Saddam does not deserve a trial. Even the worst criminals do. But from a news perspective, focusing on the evidence seems less important because many of his crimes have already been well documented.
At the same time, one could argue that what Saddam did – not his antics – are the real story here. There is something to that argument – I don't think anyone could claim that his crimes are less important or significant than his courtroom outbursts. But it shouldn't come as a surprise that his antics are what's getting most of the attention. Saddam is a compelling figure, one who has existed mostly at a distance for a long time, and the trial offers the best opportunity most Americans have ever had to see what he's really like.
In addition, as alluded to above, the trial, and Saddam's outbursts, are the story of the moment. His crimes have been reported for years. One could claim that the crimes have been insufficiently covered in the past, and that the trial marks an opportunity to make up for that. That's a subjective determination. But members of the media want stories that feel fresh, and there's very little evidence coming out of the trial that goes beyond the horrendous atrocities already documented.
A 'tension convention' - that's how Don Imus would have described the ill-concealed ill will on this morning's Fox & Friends Weekend between Juliet Huddy and Julian Phillips.
Huddy, a former host of the show making a guest-hosting appearance, wasted no time in setting the confrontational tone. In her opening comments, Juliet congratulated host Gretchen Carlson on "doing a fantastic job" then pointed to Phillips saying "and Julian, you're doing a . . . " as her voice trailed off in a sarcastic riff.
"I decided to come back to harrass you," Huddy continued, as Phillips replied "I'm looking forward to getting into a fight." Carlson, evidently aware of the prevailing state of hostilities observed "I'm sure we're going to get into something between the two of you."
More than 50,000 people gathered downtown Saturday as part of a national protest against a crackdown in immigration laws, including federal legislation aimed at criminalizing illegal immigrants and building more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. (emphasis added -ed.)
In fact, the proposed legislation would make being here in the country a felony. It's already a crime, of course.
This is at least a two-part issue. We can have an open immigration policy, or a closed policy, or something in-between. But we can't have any policy at all without control of our borders. The fact is, and it is a fact, one can be for strong border control and support a large flow of immigrants, or even a guest-worker program. This kind of obfuscation lumps all immigrants together, makes it easier to accuse border-control advocates of racism, and is part of a larger set of talking points designed to politicize the issue along partisan lines. The ultimate goal, of course, is to preserve the Hispanic vote for Democrats:
Is Neal Gabler jealous of Helen Thomas' status as a leading Bush media antagonist? You might think so, judging by the barbs Gabler aimed Thomas' way on this evening's Fox News Watch.
In discussing Thomas' pointed exchange with President Bush during this past week's press conference, Gabler, whose sole regular media job would seem to be his weekly appearance on Fox News Watch, did claim that Thomas' question as to the president's motivation in invading Iraq was a good one. But Gabler prefaced that comment by gratuitously observing: "Helen has asked dumb questions in her time."
Gabler later referred to Thomas as "a dotty old woman."
Today’s Washington Post provided an ideal example of news priorities in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz’s piece on the resignation of Ben Domenech, “Post.com Blogger Quits Amid Furor,” earned a spot on the front page of the Style section. However, the Post’s own story about a former member of the Maryland Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleading guilty to dirty political tricks was buried inside the Metro section. (For the record, since the Post changes story locations in its editions, those page numbers were confirmed from the Post’s own Web site.)
For those of you that missed it, Mark Steyn – one of the finest geopolitical writers on the current landscape – was Hugh Hewitt’s radio guest on Thursday (hat tips to Radio Blogger and Real Clear Politics with audio link to follow). The main topic of discussion was – you guessed it – mainstream media bias towards the war in Iraq. One of the best moments was when Steyn went after one of the most prominent media darlings:
“Tim Russert said today, he defended NBC, the media's Iraq coverage, by saying we capture reality. Yeah, they capture reality in the same sense that those insurgent guys capture people. They saw its head off and shout Allah Akhbar at reality. That's what they're doing when they capture reality. The reality of what's happening in Iraq is very different from what Tim Russert thinks it is.”
Steyn stated the main problem with the press coverage from the Middle East is the “herd think” mentality that emanates when these representatives all get together at bars and social gatherings to, intentionally or not, develop a consensus view:
Saturday's Washington Post front page featured the Michael Powell story, "Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder." The article begins by noting that three of the ten Massachusetts congressmen have called for an investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.
It then reports that four Vermont villages have, at town meetings, voted to impeach the president. The piece asserts that it's too early to anticipate the Bush presidency being toppled, "But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation..."
Then mentioned is last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors urging impeachment. Moreover, the state Democratic parties New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin have done the same thing.
It's not surprising Andrea Mitchell found the best angle on the Abdul Rahman case was the another-problem-for-Bush angle. (Isn't that always their favorite angle?) My friend Cam Edwards trekked to the Afghan embassy protest, and reports the NBC producer on the scene was there, and intensely interested in getting anti-Bush soundbites:
Media turnout was good. There were, by my count, four television cameras there, including one from NBC Nightly News. The producer for Andrea Mitchell, a guy named Carl, kept asking question after question designed to elicit a critical response towards President Bush. Finally I had to say something.
So I said this isn’t a conservative vs. liberal issue, or even a Christian vs. Muslim issue. It’s a human rights issue. And I said if the media ignores the reality of Abdul Rahman being put to death because of his religious beliefs because they’d rather portray this as “Conservatives angry at the President”, then they’re falling down on the job.
Where is the liberal moral outrage? Oh, to be sure, the left is making its political points in the wake of the case in which a man is facing the death penalty in Aghanistan for having converted from Islam to Christianity. Story here. Administration critics have been quick to question the value of Pres. Bush's efforts in bringing democracy to the Muslim world if situations such as this one are the outcome.
But in reporting the matter on this morning's Today, NBC's Andrea Mitchell cast domestic protest of the matter strictly in terms of moral outrage on the part of the "Christian right".
In a little half-hour online chat Friday at Washingtonpost.com, WashPost columnist/reporter David Broder complained about the "fiscal profligacy" of the federal government, but specifically against the Bush tax cuts. He sounded the familiar refrain that Americans should be having to "sacrifice" more for the war, even as his questioners pointed out tax cuts are popular.
Ontario, Calif.: David, A recent NBC poll disclosed that nearly 60 percent of the American people "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" support "making the President's tax cuts of the past few years permanent." Do you think that in the face of this much popular support, the Democrats will be able to stand on principle and display the political will and unity necessary to defeat this questionable plan?
Bill Maher ended his HBO show Friday night, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a tirade about supposed efforts by the Bush administration to suppress information about global warming. Picking up on the allegations of NASA's James Hansen who was featured on last Sunday's 60 Minutes, Maher charged that “cowboy” Bush “and his corporate goons at the White House tried to censor Mr. Hansen from delivering” the message that carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced within ten years or a disastrous “tipping point” will be reached. Maher then quipped: “This from the crowd that rushed into a war based on an article in The Weekly Standard.” Yes, Hansen was “censored” -- right onto the platform of an entire 60 Minutes segment devoted to his apocalyptic theories.
Maher proceeded to level a serious accusation: “Failing to warn the citizens of a looming weapon of mass destruction -- and that's what global warming is -- in order to protect oil company profits, well that fits for me the definition of treason.” Maher nefariously concluded: “We are letting dying men kill our planet for cash and they're counting on us being too greedy or distracted, or just plain lazy, to stop them. So on this day, the 17th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, let us pause to consider how close we are to making ourselves fossils from the fossil fuels we extract.” (Transcript follows.)
Chris Matthews was on “Imus in the Morning” Friday (hat tip to Crooks and Liars), and he went on quite a rant about the Bush administration (video link to follow). From suggesting that Helen Thomas was set up earlier in the week to intentionally be toyed with by President Bush, to alleging that Bush and Vice President Cheney both lied about Iraq having ties to al Qaeda in order to sell the war, Matthews was in rare form. Unfortunately, in his rant, Matthews made a number of false statements. For instance (rough transcript):
“Well I am just going to stick to this point that the president led us in there with the background music of American culture. Everybody was led to believe that we were getting payback, we were avenging what happened on 9/11 and that we are going to get them. Vice President Cheney said we are going to attack terrorism at its base. Over and over the language was, “this is where it came from.” In fact most recently the President suggested that it was always the hot pursuit, like a New York police chase, “we chased them back into their country.” “We pursued the terrorists back to Iraq” and it's all nonsense. The reason there are terrorists in Iraq today like Zarqawi is we created the opening by blowing the country apart.”
Well, that’s not actually true, is it Chris? It is widely accepted that Zarqawi moved to the northern section of Iraq in the summer of 2002 where he joined the Islamist Ansar al-Islam group. This was nine months before we invaded, Chris. However, after these material misstatements, Matthews then basically called the administration a bunch of liars:
For those of you that missed it, there was a fabulous exchange that occurred during a Pentagon press conference between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CNN’s Jamie McIntyre aired on “The Situation Room” Thursday (video link to follow). McIntyre was questioning Rumsfeld about recent claims of him being “embattled,” “incompetent,” and that he should step down.
Rumsfeld answered McIntyre with tongue firmly pressed against his cheek:
“You like to repeat all that stuff, don't you. On camera? (Turning to cameraman) Did you get that? Let's make sure you got it. He loves that stuff. It's a sure way to get on camera. He'll be on the evening news.”
McIntyre also referred to a recent op-ed by New York Times Diva of the Smart Set Maureen Dowd wherein she wrote that Rumsfeld is being treated at meetings like “an eccentric old uncle who is ignored.” Rumsfeld fired back, “If you believe everything you read in Maureen Dowd, you better get a life.”
What follows is a full transcript of this segment, and a video link courtesy of Ian Schwartz and Expose the Left.
Seemingly on every evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews enjoys chanting a mantra of allegedly failed Bush administration promises on Iraq. Chief among them is his taunt that the White House claimed that our troops would be greeted as liberators.
Just as it might be soothing to see someone silence an ostentatious Berkeley hippie endlessly iterating 'ummm', it was most satisfying to witness Christopher Hitchens on this evening's Hardball comprehensively refute Matthews on his claim.
Once again, Matthews launched into his leitmotif: Pres. Bush: "strikes out . . . on the fact that we were going to be treated as liberators."
For decades conservatives have charged that those in the media get their marching orders from liberal activists. Now, out in the open, Washington Post editors have proven that indeed they take orders from liberal activists, as they cave in to left-wing pressure to fire Ben Domenech as their first conservative blogger.
As Soviet Russia declared communism wouldn't work unless ALL countries of the world turned communist, liberals believe their principles can work only if they have a monopoly on all thought.
If the Washington Post is indeed concerned with balance, and not a monopoly of liberal thought, it will hire another conservative blogger-- one that liberal bloggers despise.
What's more likely to happen, though, is a "maverick" conservative along the lines of John McCain or Andrew Sullivan (who blogs for Time.com) will be chosen, as Post editors strive to abide by the rules of liberal orthodoxy while appearing balanced.
Washington Post.com conservative blogger Ben Domenech has resigned. Editor Jim Brady sounds more than deferential to the left-wing bloggers that swarm around his site like angry killer bees:
We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.
This is probably for the best, considering the plagiarism examples liberals unearthed against him. But I must confess to being bamboozled by the idea that the Center of All Media Influence is somehow the blogs pages on Washingtonpost.com, which seem a bit hard to dig up -- at least compared to where, say Time.com puts cartoonish Andrew Sullivan.
Over at Opinion Journal, James Taranto adds his two cents and research to the question of ABC executive producer John Green's e-rant against Bush making him sick for hitting a "mixed messages" talking point in the first presidential debate on September 30, 2004:
We went back and reviewed the debate transcript, and it turns out that Kerry was the first to talk of "mixed messages." Here are all the times the phrase appeared during the debate
Kerry: Jim, let me tell you exactly what I'll do. And there are a long list of thing. First of all, what kind of mixed message does it send when you have $500 million going over to Iraq to put police officers in the streets of Iraq, and the president is cutting the COPS program in America? . . .
Earlier this week, Media Bistro's TVNewser blog reported that Lucia Newman, who's reported from Latin America for CNN for twenty years and has run the network's Havana bureau since 1997, will become a Buenos Aires-based correspondent for Al-Jazeera's English-language channel.
The MRC has noticed a leftward slant in many of Newman's reports. The March 1990 issue of MediaWatch observed that, two days before an election that Nicaragua's Marxist dictator, Daniel Ortega, would go on to lose, Newman "burnished Ortega's reputation, reporting on February 23: 'The last time he went on the campaign trail, he looked like the serious and shy revolutionary that, according to friends, he's always been.' Newman found an old neighbor who told her how 'the Ortega boys had their father's patriotism in their blood.' Newman continued: 'No one has ever called Ortega charismatic, but his unquestionable dedication to his revolutionary principles, and enviable work capacity, has won him admiration of his friends and even some of his foes.'"
In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne's column is titled, "In Charge, Except When They're Not."
"Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?
The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.
'Obviously,' said the critic in chief, 'there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all."
"Yes," writes Dionne, "and if you can't do something about it, who can?"
The Associated Press Thursday evening reported that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff feels the U.S. would have been safer had the Dubai Ports World deal gone through: “The U.S. missed an opportunity to make its shores safer when it drove away a Dubai-based company poised to operate cargo terminals at several American seaports, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Chertoff said the international shipping firm DP World could have helped implement stronger security at many ports where the U.S. now has limited influence.”
This represents quite a flip-flop for the esteemed wire service that is felt to have started the whole controversy with its February 11 article which began: “A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.”
A "revelatory" article by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's New York Times article is laden with unanswered questions, assumptions and peculiarities.
Beginning with the lede, we get the “theme” of the article – the “erosion” of President Bush’s political capital.
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq waseroding his political capital, his starkest admission yet about the costs of the conflict to his presidency, and suggested that American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009.”
Have a look at the legend that 'Today' ran beneath the image of Pat Buchanan this morning. 'Republican' strategist? Really? Buchanan quit the Republican party in 1999 to run for president against George W. Bush as the candidate of the Reform Party. Go to Buchanan's official web site, The American Cause. The creed advanced there is Pat's particular brew of protectionism, isolationism and conservatism, with nary a reference to the Republican party.
So why, might you ask, would NBC engage in such false packaging? The answer is obvious: to gull viewers into thinking that it is presenting a fair balance of opinions.