NBC's Matt Lauer gave a "Today" show guest a free pass when she insisted that director/criminal/former fugitive Roman Polanski did not rape a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Debra Tate, sister of Polanski's late wife Sharon Tate, told Lauer, "There is, as I said, rape and there is rape. It was determined Roman did not forcibly have sex with this young woman. It was a consensual matter."
Lauer's response was simply, "Right."
Tate continued, "I am a victims' advocate, and I know the difference." Lauer agreed, saying "And I understand that, and yes, there is a difference."
Tate was the latest in a parade of Polanski defenders to appear on network television.
At no point in the interview did Lauer bring up the grand jury testimony of the 13-year-old girl which refuted the idea that Polanski's encounter was not "forcible" and that it was consensual. Only later did he note that Polanski did commit statutory rape.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith painted a glowing portrait of the Clinton administration while previewing a new book on the former president: "During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the nation prospered, he worked to broker peace in the Middle East and in the Balkans, championed welfare reform, and signed the NAFTA free trade agreement."
The book, entitled The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With The President was written by Clinton friend and historian Taylor Branch, who recorded a series of 79 conversations with the president while in office.
After listing Clinton’s supposed accomplishments, Smith lamented: "But his presidency was marred by numerous investigations, a lawsuit brought by Paula Jones charging sexual harassment, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal." Smith later asked Branch about the scandals: "What was he [Clinton] like during that time?" Branch responded sympathetically: "He talked about it seldom and painfully....He said ‘I cracked’....A little later he said he felt sorry for himself, that he thought he had beaten down all the scandals and then they would keep reviving and coming back....he just said this ‘it’s never going to stop.’" Smith repeated: "Never going to stop."
Roman Polanski may be an Oscar-winning brilliant film maker, but he’s also a fugitive from justice, an infamous child rapist who jumped bail and fled to France in 1978 to avoid the consequences of his 1977 rape of a 13-year-old in Los Angeles. Polanski was arrested on Saturday in Zurich on the grounds of the 31-year-old arrest warrant.
It didn’t take long for the Polanski defenders to crawl out of the woodwork. Take Patrick Goldstein, pop culture columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who quickly penned a piece published Sunday afternoon decrying Polanski’s arrest by Swiss authorities.
Apparently, Goldstein is of the opinion that Polanski has suffered enough for his crimes, and the Los Angeles prosecutors should not be spending precious taxpayer money (a phrase which, in reference to California, causes much mental angst) chasing a 76-year-old man around the globe.
Goldstein tugged at readers’ heartstrings by pointing out Polanski’s brushes with the most depraved of the 20th century’s murderers: Polanski was a fugitive from the Nazis as a child and wife was killed by followers of Charles Manson.
Just in case you somehow haven't heard about it in the past couple of months, the Associated Press wanted to remind everyone this morning that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (who, to be clear, I believe should resign), who had AN AFFAIR(!!), went back to work today -- and that this really, really deserved to be a national story, as shown in the mini-pic of the AP's raw feed:
The unbylined AP item also reminded readers that Sanford "had been a GOP darling" earlier this year. Of course, there's no bias in that dubious statement.
Here's a picture of most of the short AP report, produced for the purposes of fair use, discussion, and ridicule:
Over at Media Bistro, we find an odd story that has it all: foul language, boorish behavior, sexual harassment, a male U.S. Navy officer, and a female journalist. Only the story isn’t what you might think it would be considering the ingredients. In this case it is the naval officer filing a complaint against the female reporter for sexual harassment.
Media Bistro has learned that US Navy Commander Jeffrey D. Gordon has filed a sexual harassment complaint against the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg with Gordon claiming that Rosenberg made comments about Gordon’s “sexual orientation,” repeatedly showered foul language upon him, and made comments of a sexual nature to him in the presence of others.
Somebody at the Columbus Dispatch has a bit of explaining to do.
You see, Ohio Governor's former Director of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives, one Robert "Eric" McFadden, after "years" of not getting caught, pleaded guilty last Thursday of two felonies for trying to market the "services" of a 17 year-old prostitute. Yes, a 17 year-old.
In his original report late Thursday morning on McFadden's plea -- a report no longer available at the paper's web site even though it is listed at a relevant site search (last item listed; screen cap is here for later reference) -- the Dispatch's Bruce Cadwallader gave a barely adequate description of the facts and circumstances surrounding both McFadden's day job and the double life that he had been leading "for years" up to his arrest in January.
But in his early-AM Friday report, which I have confirmed with a Dispatch representative is the one that went into the paper's July 10 print edition, Cadwallader "somehow" left out the "for years" reference, giving readers a clear and incorrect impression that McFadden had only recently begun his illicit activities.
While many on the left are reveling in the downfall of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford after he disclosed his affair with a woman in Argentina, there's a sympathetic figure being overlooked that might have the necessary background to fill the void left by the governor should he resign.
On CNBC's June 30 "The Kudlow Report," Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Steve Moore explained his close relationship with the Sanfords and raised a new political possibility.
"This is such a tough thing for me Larry, because as you know Mark Sanford has been a long-time friend of mine," Moore said. "This story truly breaks my heart." Moore suggested that South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford run for her husband's seat - as he called her "the brains of the operation."
In an interview with Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on Sunday, CBS’s Bob Schieffer wondered: "Do you think that Republicans now should sort of shift the emphasis, though, from stressing social and family values and shift to more – to economic issues and be a party of economic conservatives rather than putting so much emphasis on these social issues?"
Schieffer began the Face the Nation interview by asking Barbour about the sex scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: "How much damage has it done to a Republican Party that is already on the ropes?...Your chances in 2012? This is the party that’s called itself the party of family values and so on and so forth. You’re going through a series of scandals now. This is not the first. Just like in the past, Democrats – we have seen Democrats involved in things like this. What does this do to the image of the party and how you try to project yourself and present yourself as a party, Governor?"
MSNBC's Carlos Watson on Monday provided a friendly forum for New York Times opinion writer Charles Blow to link red states and social conservatism with the hypocrisy of sex scandal-ridden politicians like South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. In his June 26 column, Blow attacked right-leaning voters, "And this kind of hypocrisy isn’t confined to the politicians. It permeates the electorate."
Talking with Blow on MSNBC Live, Watson cited a questionable study finding the highest rates of online pornography correlate with Republican states. The cable host highlighted this connection and Census data finding that eight of the ten states with the highest divorce voted GOP in 2008. He asked the columnist to explain how one could be pro-family values in light of "seeing these other statistics." Blow attacked, "Well, I mean, I think you have to put Republicans to the side for a minute. It is social conservatism. And that is highly correlated to religiosity. The more religious people are, the more socially conservative they are, particularly on these sexual issues."
When Sam Tanenhaus came on board the New York Times Book Review in 2004 he was accused of being conservative, but one would be hard-pressed to convict him based on the available evidence during his tenure -- "the emptiness of free-market liturgy," anyone?
Besides having a thin, forced, and familiar feel, Tanenhaus's latest essay for the Times Week in Review, "Sound of Silence: The Culture Wars Take a Break," managed to portray Obama's opposition to gay marriage (which would normally make him a villain or at least hypocritical in the Times's eyes) as a Clintonian-style tactical victory against conservatives, absent of any the usual anti-gay taint the paper brings to bear on the matter.
The culture wars may not have ended, but on some fronts the combat has gotten rather quiet. For instance, family values.
True, David Letterman's awkward joke about a daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska prompted denunciations of the "media elite" (though it also boosted Mr. Letterman's ratings).
While much of the country has been captivated by the passing of pop star Michael Jackson, the scandal of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and turmoil in Iran and Iraq, business news has fallen off the front pages.
"Remember when business was on the front page?" Cramer said. "We were on the front page for awhile. It was really frightening. It's still off - our whole, our whole - the whole stock market, the economy, we're all off the front page. We're no longer important because lovers, this guy Sanford - I'm not that familiar with his story. Those two people in Pennsylvania that were on the ‘Today' show and all those others."
The three network morning shows on Thursday devoted a staggering 18 segments to the revelation that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was having an affair with a woman from Argentina, adding up to over 54 minutes of coverage. NBC's Today show spent the most time on the subject, highlighting the infidelity with six segments and 25 minutes of air time.
Co-host Matt Lauer even talked to disgraced former Governor Jim McGreevey to get his thoughts on the matter. (However, while NBC made sure to label Sanford a Republican, the Today anchors failed to do so for the Democratic ex-New Jersey governor who resigned under a cloud of scandal.)
ABC's Good Morning America touted the sex scandal for 17 minutes and 26 seconds, featuring seven stories on Sanford. (It should also be pointed out that GMA came within seven minutes of Today's total, despite the fact that the NBC program is four hours, double the time of ABC's show.) During one such segment, Sam Donaldson insisted that it's hard to forgive Republicans who get involved in sex scandals: "They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness."
In the wake of political sex scandals including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Nevada Sen. John Ensign, ABC's Cokie Roberts took the opportunity on June 25 to suggest that the fundamental flaw in each case was the male gender.
"World News with Charles Gibson" anchor asked question of why such affairs ever begin.
"It's an admission that can doom the most promising political career," Gibson said. "So, why do politicians tempt fate and cheat on their wives? Why do so many think they can get away it?"
ABC correspondent John Berman's report tried to rationalize marital infidelity as "politics as usual" and part of the narcissism that comes with being a politician. Berman explained the recent rash of infidelity scandals weren't bound by geography, political party or sexual orientation.
CNN’s Ali Velshi, during a segment on Thursday’s Newsroom program, ignored all the past sex scandals involving Democrats in recent years as he focused on “another sex scandal involving a leading Republican.” When his guest, Tony Blankley, tried to counter with how these scandals are being used to try to get the GOP to abandon social issues, Velshi tried hard to brush this aside.
The segment with Blankley, which aired at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, began with Velshi recapping the details about the most recent Republican sex scandal involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and how legislators in the state were proceeding with possible impeachment of the executive. He then introduced his main point for the segment: “Okay, I’m going to say it- another sex scandal involving a leading Republican- this is the second in two weeks. It’s hardly helping the party to resurrect its image.”
After introducing his guest, Velshi referred to his point and asked, “I wasn’t the first guy to say that. You’ve heard this a lot in the last few days. You heard it before Mark Sanford. What’s going on with the Republicans and scandals?” Blankley first rebuked Sanford and any Republican who had been caught in marital infidelity. He continued by making his point about the push to give up on family values: “As far as the party is concerned, although there’s hypocrisy when one of its members or two or seven of its members breach the standards it advocates, you can’t give up your values. The party believes in supporting families. You have programs that do that.”
Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina confessed to adultery with a woman in Buenos Aires Wednesday, after raising eyebrows by disappearing over the weekend, and then misleading the public about his whereabouts.
But for the New York Times, there was more to the tale than the political meltdown of a promising Republican presidential candidate for 2012. Sanford's affair gave the paper another chance to round up recent (and not so recent) stories of Republican misdeeds and controversies and suggest they (once again) spelled doom for the party. Enter reporter Jim Rutenberg's Thursday story, "Sanford Case A New Dose Of Bad News For G.O.P."
ABC's Sam Donaldson appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to talk about the developing Mark Sanford scandal and loudly assert that it's hard to forgive Bible-thumping Republicans for their sexual transgressions. He began by deriding, "The problem Republicans have, so many of them are sanctimonious." [audio available here]
The longtime contributor continued his attack on members of the GOP who get caught up in sex scandals: "They thump the Bible. They condemn everyone else, and when they- human- they don’t have much credit in the bank for forgiveness."
In the wake of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s admission to having an affair, evening and morning newscasts on NBC, CBS, and ABC all immediately identified him as a Republican. In contrast, in March of last year, the networks rarely identified disgraced New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat in the wake of his affair with a prostitute.
In a 2008 study of evening and morning network newscasts following the Spitzer scandal, NewsBusters’ Rich Noyes found that within the first week of news coverage Spitzer was only identified as a Democrat 20% of the time. However, within the first 24 hours of Sanford’s confession to having an affair, he was identified as a Republican 100% of the time, during coverage on all the networks.
On Wednesday, the NBC Nightly News, which failed to give Spitzer’s party affiliation for three days following his scandal, immediately focused on Sanford’s national role in the Republican Party as anchor Brian Williams declared: "In a Republican Party hungry for young stars, he was one of them: Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina...Tonight his political career is in tatters. His state, his party are in some turmoil. And Mark Sanford is no longer being mentioned as a possible GOP nominee for the White House."
Former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to bizarrely assert that Democrats have a harder times surviving sex scandals than Republicans. While discussing South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, he breathlessly claimed, "We've never seen anything like this before"and never mentioned his former boss, Bill Clinton, who escaped impeachment conviction after being caught in a sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky.
GMA co-host Diane Sawyer informed viewers that Stephanopoulos had been "looking back at this roll call of apologies for indiscretions, Republicans and Democrats." The "This Week" host spun, "Democrats have had a harder time holding on to office after scandals, recently, than Republicans." Stephanopoulos also appeared on Wednesday night's "World News" and told anchor Charlie Gibson virtually the same thing. And, once again, he failed to cite Bill Clinton, certainly one of the most famous examples of a Democrat retaining office after a sex scandal.
Should be interesting next time Joe Scarborough runs into the likes of Ed Schultz . . .
The Morning Joe host today slammed the hypocrisy of cable news hosts, specifically including some at MSNBC, for taking "unbridled glee" in Mark Sanford's disgrace.
Scarborough didn't name names, but he almost surely had Schultz, among others, in mind. As I reported here, on his show last evening Schultz absolutely revelled in Sanford's distress, boasting "I have no mercy here" and using the most mocking of tones to describe the circumstances. Was Joe also alluding to Keith Olbermann, who had considerable fun at Sanford's expense last night?
CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez wondered on Friday: "Lots of politicians get caught having affairs, as you know. The trick, though, is making a comeback. It’s happened before, but the question is does John Edwards have a political future?"
Rodriguez later introduced the segment by citing Edwards’ recent comments about his political future in a Washington Post interview: "Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, just two of the high profile politicians who’ve survived the scandal of having an extramarital affair. Now John Edwards is speaking out for the first time, since his affair, about testing the waters for a possible political comeback. But is it too late? Is the damage done?"
In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes quoted Kenneth Vogel of Politico on the topic: "His cancer-stricken wife knew about the affair, asked him not to run for president. He did anyway. He kept it from his staffers. His political committees may have paid hush money. All of these things put together just make it that much more difficult for him to find a way to rehabilitate himself in the public eye." Cordes responded to that seeming political obituary by declaring: "Not so fast. Lots of politicians, after all, have had affairs and gone on to successful careers. Crisis management experts say Edwards may be testing the waters and could still have a political future."
In his Wednesday brief, "Senator Says He Had Affair With An Aide," New York Times reporter David Herszenhorn let us know by the fourth word that U.S. Senator John Ensign of Nevada, the senator who confessed to the extramarital affair, is a Republican. In paragraph four, Herszenhorn poured on the salt, bringing up Ensign's former membership in Promise Keepers, a Christian ministry that promotes marriage.
Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada, admitted Tuesday that he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff.
All three broadcast network morning shows on Wednesday made a point of labeling Nevada Senator John Ensign as a “Republican” after the Senator came forward last night to admit having an extramarital affair last year. NBC, which refrained for days from calling New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a “Democrat” after his relationship with a prostitute was exposed, called Ensign a “conservative Republican,” while CBS made a point of reciting Ensign’s associations with Christian groups.
ABC’s Good Morning America provided the only full report, with the on-screen headline declaring “Leading GOP Senator Admits Affair.” News anchor Chris Cuomo and correspondent Jonathan Karl noted Ensign’s Republican affiliation three times: “A rising star in the Republican Party is coming forward....” “John Ensign is a member of the Republican leadership....” and “The Republican from Nevada admits cheating on his wife...”
Last year, NewsBusters noted how the networks always added the “Republican” label to GOP politicians caught in sex scandals, but not Democrats; with their coverage of the Ensign scandal this morning, the networks are maintaining their perfectly slanted approach.
While reporting on disgraced priest Alberto Cutie leaving the Catholic Church in the wake of a sex scandal, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked CBS News analyst Father Thomas Williams about the Church’s celibacy rule: "It seems to me that the Catholic Church, at least in south Florida, is not necessarily being introspective and considering whether Father Cutie and others have left the Catholic Church, and others are failing to join, because of its stringent rules. Would you like to see your church be more introspective, more progressive?"
When the story about Father Cutie first broke in early May, Rodriguez then asked Father Williams if it was time for the Catholic Church to overturn the "outdated" and "rigid" vow of celibacy that it requires of its priests. She went on to describe the vow as a "nearly impossible standard." On May 11, Rodriguez interviewed Cutie, and asked: "You don't believe that the celibacy promise should be lifted?...If they don't change this policy, do you think that they will continue to lose people, or fail to recruit people who feel the Church is too rigid?"
While introducing an interview with disgraced Miami Priest Alberto Cutie, who was recently found to be in a romantic relationship with a woman, co-host Maggie Rodriguez again used the scandal to argue that the Catholic Church should overturn its celibacy requirement for priests: "We go right to a story that has single-handedly revived the debate over whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry." On Thursday, Rodriguez began reporting on the story by wondering if the vow was "outdated," "rigid," and "a nearly impossible standard" for priests.
Following Rodriguez’s introduction, correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "What started as a local scandal has turned into an emotional debate over the Catholic Church's 900-year-old celibacy rule. In an Associated Press poll taken in 2005, 69% of Catholics said the Church should allow priests to marry. Many of Father Cutie's parishioners agree."
Near the end of interview with Cutie, Rodriguez asked: "You don't believe that the celibacy promise should be lifted?...If they don't change this policy, do you think that they will continue to lose people, or fail to recruit people who feel the Church is too rigid?" Earlier in the interview, Cutie explained: "I don't want to be the anti-celibacy priest. I think that's unfortunate. I think it's a debate that's going on in our society, and now I've become kind of a poster boy for it. But I don't want to be that. I believe that celibacy is good, and that it's a good commitment to God."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez continued to report on a scandal involving Miami priest Alberto Cutie despite admitting that he was "...a family friend whom I've known for many, many years" on Thursday. Rodriguez introduced a Friday report by describing Cutie’s popularity: "The scandal involving celebrity priest Alberto Cutie in Miami is heating up as parishioners at his church rally in support of their popular leader. But not everyone is behind him." Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reported: "There's no doubt the parishioners' passion for the man they call ‘Father Oprah.’ Such passion that when this man dared to speak out against Father Alberto Cutie at a rally in Miami Beach Thursday -- he was swarmed."
On Thursday, Rodriguez vigorously defended her friend by asking CBS religion analyst, Father Thomas Williams, about the Catholic Church’s "rigid" and "outdated" requirement that priests take a vow of celibacy. Following the Thursday story, NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock questioned Rodriguez on Twitter about violating journalistic ethics by her reporting on someone she knows personally. Rodriguez replied to the tweet and argued: "I respectfully disagree. If I hadn't disclosed that I know him, then it would have been a violation...but there are no secrets." Having brushed aside any concerns of bias, at the end of the Friday report, Rodriguez announced that she would be interviewing Cutie exclusively on Monday.
While reporting on a popular Miami priest, Father Alberto Cutie, getting caught on a beach with a woman, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with CBS religion analyst Father Thomas Williams and criticized the Catholic Church for requiring a vow of celibacy for priests: "The Catholic Church, as you know, has been criticized, and you and I have talked about this, for being outdated and losing both parishioners and people who may want to serve, because it is so rigid. Do you think it's time for the Catholic Church to reconsider the vow of celibacy that it requires of its priests?" Williams replied: "Well, I'm not really sure. I think you can't attribute an act of unfaithfulness to the institution itself. It would be kind of like saying that adultery is caused by marriage. It doesn't really make sense."
Just before talking to Williams, Rodriguez admitted: "I should, in the interest of full disclosure, say that Father Albert is a family friend whom I've known for many, many years." At the end of the segment, Rodriguez added: "Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago he [Father Cutie] officiated my niece's wedding. I haven't talked to her about how she feels about this. But yeah, we've known him for many, many years. And he wants to continue serving God." Instead of taking Rodriguez off the story because of this personal connection, its appears CBS kept her on it because they thought it added an interesting angle, even if it made objectivity impossible.
While a segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show reported on an upcoming book by Elizabeth Edwards in which she discusses her reaction to husband John Edwards having an affair, at no time was Edwards’ Democratic Party affiliation mentioned. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez began the story: "But first, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate, John Edwards, is about to release a memoir called 'Resilience.' Mrs. Edwards, who has cancer, speaks out about her husband's very public betrayal of her, an affair with a former campaign worker."
In a report by correspondent Bianca Soloranzo, past infidelities of Democratic politicians were mentioned, but no party affiliations were given: "Elizabeth Edwards joins a long line of political wives who have stood by their cheating spouses." A clip of former President Bill Clinton was played: "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate." A clip was also played of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family." Beth Frerking of Politico was quoted downplaying such affairs: " I think when people marry people that go into politics or have ambitions to go into politics, they know that this is part of the package. And I think really it's the exception when that spouse leaves."
Following the report, Rodriguez spoke with psychologist Robi Ludwig about the frequency of politicians cheating on their spouses, but prefaced the discussion by exclaiming: "First of all, we should say we're not in their house, we're not in their shoes, we don't know why they made the decision they made...Very important, I think, to point out." Rodriguez never made that disclaimer when making personal judgments about Bristol Palin or Miss California Carrie Prejean.
"Villaraigosa affair may not be one to remember," prophesied the July 7, 2007 headline in the L.A. Times. A year and a half later, the Associated Press danced around the Democratic Los Angeles mayor's adulterous liaison with a Spanish-language reporter assigned to the city hall beat.
From today's story on his March 3 re-election accessed at CBSNews.com (emphases mine), notice how the AP pulls its punches, euphemizing the adulterous affair in the 12th paragraph of the story:
The mayor of Los Angeles easily won re-election after a bumpy first term in the nation's second-largest city, fueling speculation that he will be among contenders next year to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the first Hispanic mayor in more than a century, was rewarded Tuesday with a second, four-year trip to City Hall despite an uneven first term that saw the breakup of his marriage and the defeat of his signature plan to reform city schools.