The blogosphere continues to boil with outrage over the Times's front-page story from Sunday on veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and committing murders, a story immediately discredited by cursory research as journalistically and statistically worthless. The paper's main finding, that 121 veterans either committed a killing in this country or are charged with one, was useless without context, which the Times either couldn't or didn't provide.
The story failed basic journalism, with the Times making no attempt to compare murder rates of veterans to that of the general population. Can one imagine the Times spouting out a raw number of murders committed by, say, illegal immigrants? Without context, the Times' big finding was useless, a single data point floating in space.
"Bush allows Navy to use sonar in whale areas," blares the headline to an AP story on MSNBC.com about President Bush granting the Navy the right to continue to test mid-frequency active sonar in coastal waters despite a federal court judge's order for the Navy to stop.
"Judge had earlier ordered 12-mile no-sonar zone off California," reads the subhead.
Gee, I wasn't aware that whales had legal claims on U.S. coastal waters, let alone that they are considered "whale areas."
The issue at hand is whether environmental laws can and should be shelved from time to time for national security exemptions, and if the president can make that determination as commander-in-chief. So why not a headline that's more straightforward?
"Bush allows Navy to use sonar in coastal waters. Decision challenges court ruling aimed at protecting whales."
"The New York Times" uses fuzzy math to smear volunteer soldiers and "Fox and Friends" picked it up. MRC’s Clay Waters reported on the "Sunday Times" January 13 story, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," essentially smearing soldiers linking some committed murders to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.
However, the numbers show that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are far less likely to commit murder. On the January 16 edition of "Fox and Friends," co-host Steve Doocy noted that veterans are "five times less likely to commit murder." Gretchen Carlson noted the danger of putting out these dubious stories adding "You don't have time to actually get to the bottom of all of these articles. People just assume that what they read, wrong or right, is truth."
The '80s are back -- Sylvester Stallone has prepped another "Rambo" movie, Chuck Norris is an Internet icon and Mr. T is doing commercials. Alex Williams tackled the "trend" for the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times, "Tough Guys for Tough Times." Williams' story is a retread in its own way; the first sentence below in particular could have been been found 20 years ago in any college rag, pretentiously penned by an earnest liberal student straining for profundity:
"The leading action symbols of the Reagan era -- with all their excess, jingoism and good vs. evil bombast -- have returned, as outsize and obvious as they were in the decade of stonewash. Yet as stars of prime-time hits and feature films (not to mention Republican mascots), these actors are still as ripped and imposing as they were 20 years ago, and they continue to carry an undeniable authority with fans old and new."
Williams cracked on insecure conservative men, albeit in code ("likely not Hillary Clinton supporters"):
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment to accuse the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, of trying to "fake" a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident with Iran over the recent U.S. Navy confrontation with Iranian navy speed boats in the Strait of Hormuz. Referring to reports that, out of five Iranian boats, only one unarmed boat approached the U.S. Navy ships, and that the threatening message received could have come from a "well-known marine heckler" of the area, Olbermann awarded the "Worst Person" dishonor to Mullen: "So you guys tried to fake another Gulf of Tonkin incident using some clown with a CB radio and the lethal threat posed by the S.S. Minnow? Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, on behalf of the Bush administration, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"
While covering the murder of Marine Maria Lauterbach on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," Co-host Julie Chen used the opportunity to level broad charges against the military and its handling of sexual assault cases: "What did the Marines do to protect her, and when did they do it? It's a question we've heard asked for -- of the military for decades." This was followed by a report by CBS Correspondent David Martin, who agreed with Chen: "You're right, the military has long been accused of mishandling sexual assault reports, and there are now some protective measures in place."
Martin moved beyond Lauterbach, who reported being raped by the murder suspect, Cesar Laurean, last April, to other reports of sexual assault in the military:
MARTIN: Earlier in the Iraq war, revelations that there had been more than 100 sexual assault cases in Kuwait, Iraq , and the rest of the Persian Gulf, coupled with complaints from female service members that the male-dominated chain of command did not take their allegations seriously, brought this charge from Senator Susan Collins.
Lifestyle magazine, a publication that serves Pennsylvania's Delaware Valley area, published a nice story this week reporting how a long awaited veteran's cemetery is finally underway in Buck's County, Penn. Oh, the story seems nice enough, but there is one problem. The photo accompanying the story shows a soldier, circa WWII, in near silhouette trotting across a wintry field, rifle in hand. That there is a photo of a soldier from WWII tacked onto a story about a new veteran's cemetery isn't the problem. The problem is that the photo is of a Nazi German soldier from WWII and NOT an American soldier! This is a shocking mistake that reveals many things about the folks at Lifestyle Magazine.
Why is a story about an American veteran's cemetery being illustrated by a photo of a Nazi solder? The answer can only be that the folks at Lifestyle magazine are so unfamiliar with anything military that the glaring mistake went completely unrecognized by its Editors and designers.
Though Uncle Sam did run a surplus last month, the year-to-date figures are alarming:
It should be pretty clear that the big news in the above figures is that federal spending during the first quarter of the fiscal year was almost 9% higher than during the first quarter a year ago. If the spending increase had been held to only 5%, this fiscal year's quarterly deficit would have come in virtually the same as last year's.
Yet it took these publications the following number of paragraphs to get to the year-to-date spending news:
At the top of Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith questioned the authenticity of an audio tape of the confrontation between U.S. and Iranian ships on January 6:
We're going to try to re -- to deconstruct the Pentagon tapes just released of that hostile incident in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian speedboats taunting a U.S. ship. A tape the Iranians are calling a hoax. There's something strange about the audio.
In the later segment on the issue, Smith talked to international security expert, Jeff McCausland, and again wondered if the Iranian hoax accusation had merit:
Iranian officials are calling this video a hoax, saying those voices sounded like they were recorded someplace else...As you have looked at this tape, listened to -- especially the English coming from the Iranians, does it ring authentic to you? Does it seem real?
Well, this strays from the usual silliness and less than credible work over at the Huffington Post and gets closer to a style of treasonous support for our espoused enemies than it does the normal fare. In a posting by one Hooman Majd, an Iranian born writer who dabbles in the music business, we are treated to the absurd conspiracy theory that the U.S. Military manufactured the incident last Tuesday in the Straits of Hormuz involving a few Iranian patrol boats and the the U.S. Navy. Majd seems to imagine that the Pentagon somehow faked the whole thing, and I'm not exaggerating. Catch the title of his posting: It's a Fake. No attempt at subtlety there!
NationalJournal.com has news (HT Instapundit) about the reality of the October 2006 Lancet report on civilian deaths in Iraq -- a report that was breathlessly and gullibly cited at the time by Old Media outlets and reporters (including David Brown here at the Washington Post).
Here is background for those unfamiliar with the original story:
Published by The Lancet, a venerable British medical journal, the study [PDF] used previously accepted methods for calculating death rates to estimate the number of "excess" Iraqi deaths after the 2003 invasion at 426,369 to 793,663; the study said the most likely figure was near the middle of that range: 654,965. Almost 92 percent of the dead, the study asserted, were killed by bullets, bombs, or U.S. air strikes. This stunning toll was more than 10 times the number of deaths estimated by the Iraqi or U.S. governments, or by any human-rights group.
It's bound to be overlooked by the media at-large in large part due to the Iowa caucuses, but a court ruling that burdens the U.S. Navy with yet another environmentally-driven restriction was handed down from a federal district court judge yesterday. That judge, the Hon. Florence-Marie Cooper, is a Clinton appointee, a fact unreported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Robert McClure (emphasis mine):
A federal judge forbade the Navy on Thursday from using a powerful form of sonar within 12 miles of the California coast and slapped other restrictions on naval war exercises in a ruling that could have repercussions in the Pacific Northwest.
U.S. District Judge Florence Marie-Cooper [sic] said noise from the Navy's midfrequency sonar far outstrips levels at which federal rules require ear protection for humans on the job. Whales' hearing is extremely sensitive.
"The court is persuaded that the (protection) scheme proposed by the Navy is grossly inadequate to protect marine mammals from debilitating levels of sonar exposure," Marie-Cooper wrote in her ruling.
The Navy offered to reduce the sonar's intensity when whales approached within about 1,100 yards and power down further before shutting the sonar off when the creatures got within 200 yards. The judge ordered sonar shut off when marine mammals are within 2,200 yards.
On a lazy December 30th Sunday afternoon, I flipped on the television, on which the previous evening I had left the History Channel (they were then doing a military analysis of the Bible, which was at once interesting and uninfuriating).
This time the tubes warmed to display a replay of Clear and Present Danger, the film based upon the Tom Clancy novel. Co-hosting the rerun were the Channel's in-house liberal historian, Steve Gillon, and guest liberal political commentator Neal Gabler (though of course neither was identified in any sort of ideological way).
On Friday's "Countdown," viewers were treated to a retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on conservatives, featuring four of his favorites from the year 2007. An announcer teased the show glorifying Olbermann while intermixing complimentary quotes from various media with clips of Olbermann reading his "Special Comments." The announcer read a quote from "Playboy" calling the MSNBC host the "truth teller in chief," and a quote from the "Akron Beacon Journal" claiming that he is "the one journalist actually working to save the democracy." Among the quotes from Olbermann featured in the teaser was the MSNBC host's charge that "the presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush." (Transcript follows)
A recent study, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War," by Rich Noyes, the Research Director of Media Research Center, NB's parent organization, revealed that coverage of Iraq by the big three evening newscasts has declined as the news from Iraq has improved. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace highlighted the MRC study during his interview of General David Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq .
CHRIS WALLACE: It seemed to us that you hadn't been in the news much recently, which probably is a good thing from your point of view, since you came back from Washington in September. But we decided to check it out, and the Media Research Center says that the three network evening newscasts did 178 stories on Iraq in September, when you were here, that in October as the surge took hold there were 108 stories, and that in November that dropped to just 68. General, any thoughts about why success in Iraq isn't news here at home?
You may have heard of "Hentish," the dog in The New York Times that was shot and killed by a Blackwater security guard earlier this week. However in the media's over zealous attempt to crucify Blackwater USA they left out a surprisingly telling piece about some of the dogs that were harbored at the Times compound in Baghdad.
The New York Post reported yesterday that these dogs had already attacked people before, including Eason Jordan who runs the blog IraqSlogger.com, and is a former CNN chief news executive.
"Eason's encounter, revealed on his blog yesterday, involved a dog named Scratch and left him with ‘three deep gashes in my right hand, sending blood spewing in all directions,'" the Post story said.
Eason's blog post also revealed other canine nightmares:
The improving situation in Iraq is driving certain congressmen and congresswomen to rhetorical depths I don't recall ever seeing.
Though there have almost surely been other instances of offensive excess on the House Floor over the Iraq War, we've recently been treated to at least the following:
Pete Stark (D-CA), October -- "You don't have money to fund the war or children,'' Stark said. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement." Stark, under intense pressure from Nancy Pelosi, later tearfully apologized.
David Obey (D-WI), November -- Insurgents “are running out of people to kill,” and “There are fewer targets of opportunity.” I do not believe that Obey has backed off of his remarks.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), December -- "They (Republicans) like this war. They want this war to continue." Pelosi later "clarified," saying she meant to say "support" instead of "like."
The latest example, courtesy of Virginia Congressman Jim Moran on Wednesday, may, despite the strong competition noted, take the prize for greatest smear of our president, his administration, and/or our troops -- ever.
What is it with Hollywood liberals and their penchant for messing with my childhood heroes by making them shills for liberal storylines. First "GI Joe." Then "Knight Rider." What's next, "The A-Team"? Maybe. (h/t Perez Hilton)
Variety reported yesterday that John Singleton is on board to direct a silver screen adaptation of the 1980s TV action drama "The A-Team." This time it sounds like oil company executives may end up being the bad guys.
After months of declining violence in Iraq as a result of the troop surge, Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" jumped on news of a car bombing in the Iraqi city of Amarah as co-host Russ Mitchell declared: "There's breaking news out of Iraq this morning. Three car bombs exploded today in one of the deadliest attacks in months."
CBS Correspondent Jeff Glor reported from Baghdad and tried to frame the bombing as part of an overall violent trend in the country:
Following a recent spike in violence in Baghdad in central Iraq, this is not good news in southern Iraq...They appear to follow a ruthless pattern, allowing insurgents to inflict maximum casualties, set off one explosion, wait for people to gather, then set off another...It also comes on the heels of an uptick in violence in Baghdad, which has been surprisingly quiet in recent months. In the past week, more than 100 Iraqis have died.
As a recent Media Research Center report on Iraq coverage has shown, as violence in Iraq has gone down in recent months, media coverage has fallen just as sharply. It is interesting that as soon as there was something bad to report, CBS suddenly became interested in Iraq again. However, former co-host Hannah Storm did make reference to troop surge success during an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on October 16th, when she wondered if victory over Al Qaeda in Iraq was just "semanitcs."
Long-time gossip columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Michael Sneed, was one of the first to announce that the son of Chicago's Mayor Daley volunteered as a private in the U.S. Army in 2004 after successfully attaining his MBA from the University of Chicago. That was interesting reporting, that such a big city mayor's son would join the Army like a regular guy, of course, but has Sneed now taken her "exclusives" a step too far? On Dec. 11th, Sneed reported that Patrick Daley is being deployed overseas. Has this somewhat specific news endangered his life and/or that of his fellow soldiers now that the enemy has been told that the son of a famous politician is on his way to a specific theater of action as well as being told a targeted window of departure?
In an effort to have a fair and balanced debate on the issue of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, and liberal Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, on to Sunday’s broadcast. Hagel proved to be left of Rockefeller:
We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.
That does not sound like an opinion from the mainstream of the Republican Party.
MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and David Shuster squared off in a heated battle on Tuesday over whether waterboarding constitutes torture. Scarborough appeared exasperated with his left-leaning guest and, at one point, derided, "Are you an expert? When did you decide and when did the liberal media decide and when did all of us in Manhattan, Georgetown and West Hollywood decide that waterboarding was torture?"
Later in the segment, Shuster began wildly comparing waterboarding to violent acts: "If you believe that America should torture, fine! Waterboard them! Drill them in the kneecaps. Shoot, shoot their legs off! Whatever you want to do." Scarborough responded by laughing and, in a nod to "24," announced, "I'm not Jack Bauer."
There is one current story in Iraq that has attracted the full attention of the Associated Press, and that is the case of Bilal Hussein, an AP photographer and terrorism suspect. The AP report on Hussein's hearing yesterday leaves out the fact that Hussein was arrested with a known al Qaeda terrorist... one of but many troubling aspects of the news organization's decision to forego objective news reporting in favor of self-serving advocacy in a clear and pervasive conflict of interest.
The Associated Press, as an involved party in this case, should recuse themselves from reporting on Hussein's trial.
MRC Director of Research and NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes appeared Monday night on the "O'Reilly Factor" to discuss his findings in the December 4 Media Reality Check, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War."
As we previously noted, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly cited the MRC study in his December 6 "Talking Points Memo" segment. Video (2:35) from that "Factor":Real (1.91 MB) and Windows (1.60), plus MP3 audio (1.19 MB).
Quickly reacting to the December 9 Washington Post's front page revelation yesterday that some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew about waterboarding interrogation techniques YEARS ago, Time's Joe Klein sought to silence criticism of Democratic hypocrisy.
The media's reaction to the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear weapon program has been as grandiose as it is selective, inaccurate and wrong-headed.
The single excerpt they chose to trumpet, that the report proffers with "high confidence" that Iran halted weapons development in 2003, maximized their ability to bash President George W. Bush for being wrong all along about one third of his Axis of Evil.
The MSM has characterized as "war mongering" and "the politics of fear" Bush's consistent and prudent imputations to keep our eye on -- amongst other things -- the spinning Persian ball. They allege the Administration wielded these Terror implements to rush us into battle in Iran and to ensure electoral wins here at home.
FNC's Bill O'Reilly on Thursday night centered his "Talking Points Memo" around the findings in the MRC's Media Reality Check study released earlier this week, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War." O'Reilly pointed out how U.S. casualties and violence are way down from six months ago. Then, citing the MRC's numbers with a chart displaying them on screen, he observed how now "there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org."
Editor & Publisher editor Greg Mitchell is hot on the trail with a year long E&P tribute to local newspapers that are covering "the shocking number of suicides among U.S. troops in Iraq or after they return home". At first I figured this was a strange tribute to be making, especially considering that Mitchell didn't bother to present any facts when implying that the war is to blame for such tragic deaths. Instead Mitchell follows it up with an AP story about the apparent suicide of Army veteran Tyler Curtis and presents this incident as further proof to bolster the claim.
NEW YORK For the past year, E&P has paid tribute to local newspapers, sometimes quite small ones, that have covered extremely sensitive and revealing stories that previously gained little attention: the shocking number of suicides among U.S. troops in Iraq or after they return home. Recent studies suggest the figure, once in the hundreds, is now in the thousands.
Not a single one of these outlets discusses the fact that Franklin Foer spent the better part of 13 pages alleging a military conspiracy spanning four bases in three countries involving dozens of soldiers, from privates to colonels.
I guess they didn't want to discuss how nutty that explanation sounds.
Nor did they mention that Foer and The New Republic refused to apologize to those soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait they accused of atrocities.
Not a single one them acknowledges that Foer was being deceptive when he claimed back in July "the article was rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley, who referred to Iranian President Ahmadinejad as "friendly," "modest," and "incorruptible," compared American forces in Iraq to barbarian hordes of the past while examining the plight of Iraqi Christians since the war began in 2003: "The Iraqi Christian community, which had survived invasions by Mongols and Turks, was driven out under American occupation."
During the segment, Pelley interviewed an Anglican Reverend in Baghdad named Andrew White:
PELLEY: He was first sent to Baghdad by the Archbishop of Canterbury nine years ago, well before the Christian persecution. You were here during Saddam's reign, and now after. Which was better? Which was worse?
WHITE: Well, it's difficult to describe. The situation now is clearly worse now, but --
PELLEY: Worse than Saddam?
WHITE: Oh, far. There's no comparison between Iraq now and then. Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians. Probably ever in history. They've never known it like now.
PELLEY: Wait a minute. Christians have been here for 2,000 years.
WHITE: Yes. And it's now the worst it has ever been.