Persistent pursuit of a story by journalists has in all too many cases been replaced by a dogged determination to keep politically incorrect facts out of important stories.
An Associated Press item out of Grand Island, Nebraska this morning illustrates this point. It's not very difficult to identify aspects of the story reporter Josh Funk worked mightily to leave out (bolded items hinting at what's not there and related number tags are mine):
The co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" pleaded with the Secretary of Transportation Tuesday for federally mandated devices in cars that would scramble cell phone reception, as well as for raising the driving age nationwide to 18.
Calling himself a "small-government conservative," Scarborough said that he nevertheless supports a device in cars that would scramble cell phone reception while the car is in operation. Co-host Mika Brzezinski added that such a device was the only way to stop distracted-driving accidents.
"I can hear the battle coming, because we've got Chris Licht who's our E.P....when Mika was talking about disabling devices, said 'Yeah, well great, that's all we need, the federal government telling us when we can use our phones in cars'," Scarborough quipped, calling out his executive producer live on the set.
"Well I-I do actually want the federal government...I don't want my kids run over by a distracted driver. It seems to me that if the technology is there, we should – stop the texting, scramble it," Scarborough asserted.
But just yesterday D.C. Magistrate Judge Kimberley Knowles dropped the charges against Arenstein and his wife, Israeli newspaper reporter Orly Azoulay Katz, after a witness for the prosecution failed to show in court.
On Friday’s CBS Evening News, travel editor Peter Greenberg filed a report in which, without challenge, he passed on Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s charge that America is "the key part of the problem" of drug cartels in his country. And, even though the overwhelming majority of guns seized from Mexican drug cartels are known to originate from countries outside the U.S., Greenberg seemed to claim that all were bought in the U.S. Greenberg:
He (Calderon) claims American drug use is financing the cartels, and smuggled American guns are arming them. This is an example of the more than 90,000 weapons the Calderon government has confiscated in the last four years - almost all of them high-powered, and all of them bought in the United States.
In Maryland, Prince George's County's top elected official, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (pictured at right on NB's home page) was arrested yesterday, and "is accused of accepting cash in return for helping a developer secure federal funding."
Johnson's wife, a recently elected councilperson, was also arrested yesterday. The couple are both accused of "tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense, and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation."
The linked article at Gazette.net does not identify the Johnsons' political party affiliation. When this failure to identify occurs, it typically means that the politicians involved are Democrats. As expected, the Johnson are indeed Dems (Jack; Leslie).
Sadly, it is not at all surprising that there is a virtual blackout on the Johnsons' party affiliation:
Here's the headline at the Associated Press's 12:49 p.m. report today on Steven Slater's plea bargain: "Attendant who slid on chute to fame pleads guilty." Earlier headlines had used the word "famous" (example here: "JetBlue attendant in famous meltdown pleads guilty").
For those who still care about what words mean, the primary meaning of "famous" is "having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated." Steven Slater is not "famous"; he is, or at least should be, "infamous" ("having an extremely bad reputation").
So continues "The Essential Global News Network's" strange fascination bordering on approbation of the flight attendant who, back in August, "went on the public-address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and slid onto the tarmac" using an emergency slide.
It's clear that the Times hates the idea that corporations may have a say, however indirectly, in democracy. But one would at least think that a journalist comparing the perfectly legal corporation donation tactics of today to illegal fundraising by past political campaigns would look for the most recent examples. Perhaps the Clinton administration’s corrupt 1996 fundraising from China, or the indelible image of Al Gore raising money in a Buddhist temple.
Instead, Abramson traveled all the way back to 1972 to link the anonymous corporate donations of 2010 to that quintessential example of Republican corruption, Richard Nixon.
Even as Abramson briefly admits today’s allegedly Nixon-style fundraising is legal, she strained to set up a parallel between this pro-Republican election cycle and the illegal donations of 1972, specifically the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CREEP), and handily exploited a single loose link from the past to the present, one Fred Malek. Abramson began with Nixon:
To old political hands, wise to the ways of candidates and money, 1972 was a watershed year. Richard M. Nixon’s re-election campaign was awash in cash, secretly donated by corporations and individuals.
UPDATE:A 12:16 p.m. AP report gets to details the initial report (not labeled "breaking") should have contained.
In an unbylined Associated Press story about the wife of incumbent Democratic Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney pleading guilty in a federal tax case, the wire service fails to mention which district Tierney represents. Far worse, it only reports that Tierney "is facing a Republican challenger in next month's election," and doesn't even name him.
Gosh, we wouldn't want actual voters to react to the news that a Democratic Congressman's wife helped her brother evade taxes on millions of dollars of income by possibly identifying Tierney as their congressman, identifying his opponent, and actually voting for that opponent, now would we? No, that just wouldn't be right. It would seem that "AP" stands for "Absolute Protection" -- of Democratic incumbents.
UPDATE: Did AP read this post and react? An updated AP story time-stamped at 6:35 p.m. reports the following: "He (Shahzad) said the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a U.S. citizen."
(Original post follows)
The Associated Press's Tom Hays did not report who trained Faisal Shahzad in his coverage of the failed Times Square bomber's sentencing in a New York courtroom today.
The best Hays could do in his 11:25 a.m. report was to make references in his second and seventeenth paragraphs to how Shahzad went "to train in Pakistan" and "received explosives training in Pakistan," respectively. Readers not fully aware of story developments since Shahzad's arrest in May should be receiving this information. For all we know from Hays's report, Shazad may attended the Pakistani branch of the Acme School of Bomb-Making, or perhaps experimented in Uncle Abdul's attic.
The fact is that there is no ambiguity about who trained Shahzad (thankfully, not successfully). On May 9, Attorney General Eric Holder said that it was the Pakistani Taliban:
Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was no lone wolf - the Pakistani Taliban "was behind the attack," Attorney General Eric Holder asserted Sunday.
Good Morning America's Jim Sciutto on Friday suggested Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as an example of a human rights "advocate" opposed to the execution of a woman in Virginia. The odd aside came from just one day after the Iranian leader blamed the United States for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Sciutto related the details of Teresa Lewis, who was executed on Thursday for plotting to kill her husband and stepson.
The ABC reporter then asserted, "But advocates, from crime novelist John Grisham, to Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, even to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, questioned whether she deserved the death penalty." [MP3 audio here.]
CNN played an excerpt of its upcoming documentary "What the Pope Knew" on Thursday's Newsroom (see CNN's commercial promoting the documentary at right), and if this preview and its past coverage of the Church abuse scandal is any indication, the documentary left out key information in order to paint Benedict XVI in the worst possible light. Correspondent Gary Tuchman failed to explain how then-Cardinal Ratzinger's handled a specific case from Wisconsin.
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the excerpt from the documentary 24 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour. The segment focused on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who was the priest and headmaster for St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Phillips noted that as many as 200 boys at the school were raped or sexually abused by Murphy and stated it was "one of the most notorious cases of sex abuse in the Catholic Church."
Tuchman interviewed Terry Kohut, one of Murphy's victims. The correspondent stated that "fifty years ago, when he was just 10 years old, Terry, who is deaf, was sent to the St. John's School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What happened there to Terry and up to 200 other deaf boys is now central to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and to the question of what Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, knew about it all." This introduction gives the false impression that Ratzinger was a cardinal five decades ago, when he actually was a priest and college professor in Germany during the 1960s.
Today, eight city council members were arrested in Bell, California for what Los Angeles County District Attorney labeled "corruption on steroids." Thus far, every major news outlet that has reported on the story has omitted the fact that all eight individuals arrested are Democrats.
These glaring omissions come only weeks after NewsBusters reported that of the 351 stories on the then-brewing controversy, 350 had omitted party affiliations, and one had mentioned they were Democrats only in apologizing for not doing so sooner.
Imagine six Israelis had been arrested in the US and charged with possibly plotting against a visiting ayatollah. Rhetorical question: would Today have mentioned their nationality and/or religion?
But when reportedly six Algerian Muslims were arrested in the UK and charged with possibly plotting against visiting Pope Benedict XVI, Today breathed not a word of their identity. Reporter Nina Dos Santos spoke only of "the specter of terror" having reared its head in London, and of "yesterday's arrests." But Dos Santos never said what form that specter took . . . or who was arrested.
Mr. Slater (picture at right is from his Facebook page) is the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly "grabbed the plane's intercom and made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute." Slater was charged with "criminal mischief and reckless endangerment."
Three weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press writer Samantha Gross rhapsodized over how Slater's actions had fulfilled "a working man's fantasy ... rekindled memories of workers' liberation ... (and) sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay."
Before getting to the AP's latest sympathetic piece, let's take a look at something originally associated with a magazine report about Slater that is not currently present in that story.
The breaking news about James Lee's standoff at the educational channel's Silver Spring, Maryland office building dominated Sanchez's broadcast. Twenty-five minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour, during an interview of former hostage negotiator Tom Fuentes, the anchor summarized Lee's manifesto: "He apparently wants the Discovery Channel...[to] broadcast certain commitments to save the planet...He's apparently anti-war....He's concerned about global warming, talks about Malthusian sciences, continues to come back to saving the planet." He then asked Fuentes, "So...if you get my drift, Tom, he's very concerned. He's an activist, may be very well-meaning, but he's now put himself in a situation where he, the police officers and his hostages' lives are endangered. What do you do?"
Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, without Katie Couric, uniquely amongst the broadcast network evening newscasts tied Discovery Channel hostage-taker/bomber James Lee to Al Gore and, even more miraculously, highlighted how Tony Blair, in his new book, describes George W. Bush as “intelligent.” Reporter Wyatt Andrews relayed in his story on the incident in suburban DC:
In an anti-corporate protest two years ago, Lee was arrested while throwing cash outside of Discovery’s offices. He said in court he had been moved to save the planet, partly by Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
Neither ABC nor NBC mentioned Gore’s inspiration. (ABC’s Pierre Thomas on World News: Lee “has protested at the Discovery Channel repeatedly, raising concerns about the environment and over-population.” NBC’s Tom Costello on Nightly News referred to Lee “handing out a rambling leaflet that called on Discovery to devote more programming to global warming and animal extinction.”)
On Thursday's The Ed Show on MSNBC, substitute host Cenk Uygur -- also of the Young Turks -- blamed conservative opposition to the Ground Zero mosque for acts of violence against Muslims, and charged that the Republican party is the "party of hate." He soon added: "Then there's the vitriolic fight against immigrants, undocumented ones and in Arizona just people who happen to look undocumented. And, of course, there's the grand daddy of all prejudice, fear and hatred stoked up against Muslims in this country. Now, it's gotten so bad that a young man stabbed a cabbie in the neck and face Tuesday after finding out that he was Muslim."
He eventually asked: "What black person, gay guy or girl, immigrant or Muslim-American in their right mind would vote for the Republican party? They might as well hang a sign around their neck saying I hate myself."
Uygur also recited a list of violent events from the past couple of years, while also running clips of conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Bill O’Reilly in an attempt to prove that they were responsible for inciting specific violent incidents. At one point, he even used edited clips of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in such a way as to suggest that they had encouraged people to shoot Muslims or other minorities.
After recounting recent episodes of violence against Muslims, he tied in Palin and Bachmann:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tied together Republican opposition to same-sex marriage, the Ground Zero mosque, and illegal immigration, as he charged that "the Republican method" for electoral success is "hate." The MSNBC host opened the show: "The Republican method for winning elections is hate. Hate somebody. Anybody will do. We have seen it this year with immigrants and now, Muslims. And now, in our fifth story tonight: for the first time, we have a former head of the Republican party confirming that, yes, his party does it. They do it to win and did it in 2004 and 2006 against gay Americans. He said this even though he himself is no longer denying that he, too, is gay."
Without evidence, Olbermann also blamed the stabbing of New York City cab driver Ahmed Sharif on those who oppose construction of a mosque near Ground Zero. Although he later admitted that the mosque was not mentioned by the suspect, the MSNBC host suggested a link as he teased the show:
CNN's Deborah Feyerick joined the media guessing game as to the motivation behind the stabbing of Muslim taxicab driver in New York City, emphasizing the possibility it may have been "connected to this big Ground Zero controversy, where we're hearing so much anti-Muslim sentiment." Feyerick raised this hypothesis during reports on Thursday's Rick's List and The Situation Room.
The correspondent's first report on the attack aired 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of Rick's List. Anchor Rick Sanchez played a clip from victim Ahmed Sharif's press conference on Thursday before introducing Feyerick. She began by stating that when "Michael Enright, the suspect, was arrested, he had numerous journals and notebooks on him, all of them filled with writings, some of it completely illegible. That is now with authorities, all of that being vetted and looked through to see whether, in fact, there was anything indicating that he had undergone some sort of a mental or emotional change."
Feyerick did mention that Enright "ironically...was a volunteer working for a non-profit organization that promotes peace," but didn't mentioned that the organization, Intersections International, actually supports the planned mosque near Ground Zero. She continued with the speculation over the possible motivation of the attack, including the "anti-Muslim" charge:
On July 27th and 28th, the New York Times published the following headline: "The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected." In the story that followed the headline, readers were informed: "The immense patches of surface oil that [once] covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the...oil rig explosion are largely gone."
Ironically, the man who predicted this would be case was the much-maligned Tony Hayward, former Chief Executive of British Petroleum (BP). While being grilled on Capital Hill about the oil spill earlier this year, Hayward described it as a "relatively tiny" one in comparison to the "very big ocean" in which it had occurred. Although the backlash Hayward faced by Democrats was nasty, Rush Limbaugh concurred with the BP boss, and stories like the one I cited from the New York Times seem to demonstrate that Hayward and Limbaugh were both correct.
Yet, not only does BP continue to be the target of heavy criticism by Democrats and environmental groups, it has even found itself in the crosshairs of Brad Pitt, who recently "said he would consider the death penalty for those to blame for the Gulf oil spill crisis." According to the UK's Daily Mail, Pitt's exact words were: "I was never for the death penalty before - I am willing to look at it again."
Dylan Ratigan's "Daily Rant" segment was a treasure trove of controversial statements today. You be the judge of which statement rates higher on the controversy-meter:
Ratigan's claim that the "default position" in the USA is to incarcerate black men rather than educate them; or
Blogger Keli Goff's suggestion that to end the cycle of poverty among African-Americans, and to avoid burdening taxpayers, kids should be taught in school that not everyone should have children.
Ratigan's rather-imprison-than-educate African-Americans accusation is refuted by the facts, starting with the fact that the school district that spends more per pupil than any other in the USA is . . . that of the federally-funded District of Columbia, whose students are predominantly African-American.
As for the suggestion from Keli Goff [a youthful veteran of various Dem political campaigns], can you imagine the outrage and the accusations of eugenics if a conservative blogger, particularly one of pallor, proposed that kids be taught not to have children as a solution, among other things, for reducing the burden of African-Americans on taxpayers?
Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will meet Tuesday with agriculture secretary
Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development director for Georgia, said today she plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss a new job offer.
... Sherrod today spoke in the Sumter County town of Epes at an event hosted by the Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP, shared the stage with Sherrod during a panel discussion.
Sherrod said she had no ill feelings toward the NAACP or President Barack Obama.
It the meeting does indeed occur, it will be an interesting test of establishment media credibility, given the accusations leveled at Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles by Ron Wilkins at the leftist publication Counterpunch several weeks ago. Here are some of the specifics:
When reporting on the nationality of a criminal from another country who has already been arrested, it normally would be considered unnecessary or even uncalled for to take the extra step of explicitly identifying the suspect’s ethnicity or religious affiliation as well. But, given that Israelis, the vast majority of whom are Jewish, often face sharp criticism and negative press reaction over conflicts with their Arab neighbors – inflaming anti-Semitic sentiment – if an Israeli citizen who is non-Jewish is implicated in a violent crime, informing viewers that he is non-Jewish would seem to be in order.
But so far in the media coverage of serial stabber Elias Abuelazam’s arrest, some major news shows on both broadcast and news networks have avoided explicitly informing viewers that he is not a Jewish Israeli, while others have been more upfront with viewers on the subject. CNN’s The Situation Room, the NBC Nightly News, FNC’s Fox and Friends, and CBS’s The Early Show all have directly relayed to viewers at least once that Abuelazam is an Israeli Arab. But ABC’s World News, the CBS Evening News, FNC’s Fox Report, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s American Morning and NBC’s Today show have all avoided such a direct identification of ethnicity.
It would seem that what JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater did earlier this week was the stuff that some small-minded people's dreams are made of. Would all of you out there who think that way please remove yourselves from jobs that involve contact with the public?
One has to wonder, based on her sympathetic paean to the "take this job and shove it -- but first, I'll get my revenge" crowd, if Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross should be among those who deserve involuntary removal from such positions. Ms. Gross's grotesque near-admiration for others concocting their own supposedly grand exits is my nominee as Exhibit A exemplifying the media's "strange fascination" with the Slater incident and its meaning noted at this morning's open thread at NewsBusters.
Here are some less than exemplary excerpts from Ms. Gross's gruel, including a few paragraphs exemplifying people the AP writer apparently intended to portray as nearly noble (bolds highlighting leftist phraseology and boorish behavior are mine):
Wednesday evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted that two of the Big Three television networks failed to tag Dan Rostenkowsi, the former long-time congressman from Chicago who was ousted from his seat in 1994 over corruption charges and ended doing prison time, as a Democrat. Rostenkowski (RIP), who was 82, died yesterday.
At the five major wire services whose reports I reviewed -- The Associated Press, Reuters, UPI, AFP, and the business-oriented Bloomberg News -- Rosty's Democratic affiliation made at least one appearance. But the prominence and directness of those appearances varied widely.
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press and writer Don Babwin did the worst job of identifying Rosty's party, waiting until the eleventh paragraph to directly tag him (the eighth paragraph contains a generic reference to the "Chicago Democratic machine"), and poured it on the thickest when referring to the supposedly beloved bygone days of bipartisanship:
Earlier today, NB's Lachlan Markey covered Bill O'Reilly's interview with the Fox Business Channel's Charles Gasparino.
In that interview, Gasparino confirmed what the New York Post reported in April of last year, namely that "GE Execs Encouraged CNBC Staff to Go Easy on Obama."
The suits at GE, including Chairman Jeff Inmelt, had a clear motivation for encouraging their reporters to lighten up, namely that "General Electric at the time was hoping to profit handsomely from policies that would benefit a few companies, including GE, at the expense of the majority of the economy"-- specifically cap and trade.
But speaking of motivation: What about former CNBCer Gasparino's?
The easy answer would be that sometime in the past two years he has seen the light and realizes his past reporting at CNBC was lacking in fairness and balance. Despite his move to Fox, there's reason to doubt that.
There are quite a few shaky assertions in Alan Zibel's Associated Press report yesterday about Freddie Mac's latest quarterly loss ($6 billion), its latest bailout installment request to the U.S. Treasury ($1.8 billion), and the cumulative taxpayer bailout amounts that have been paid out to Freddie Mac and big sister Fannie Mae thus far ($148.2 billion) -- too many to cover in a blog post.
So I'll concentrate on the howlers present in just a single paragraph near the end, wherein the AP reporter attempts to explain why the two formerly government-sponsored mortgage giants that are now government-bailout enterprises ran into the ditch. The verbiage pretty much states the meme that the establishment press seems to want the public to swallow about what went down, and who's to blame:
During the housing boom, Fannie and Freddie faced political pressure to expand homeownership and competitive pressure from Wall Street to back ever-riskier loans. When the market went bust, defaults and foreclosures piled up, and the government had to take them over.
What follows was eminently predictable, but noting it is nonetheless necessary.
Shirley Sherrod, and to a lesser extent her husband Charles, were media celebrities for a while in late July. Readers might have noticed their near absence from establishment media news reports during the past seven days. It would be easy to think that this has occurred because the story played itself out, with nothing newsworthy to add.
That stopped being true on Monday, August 2, when a column by Ron Wilkins ("The Other Side of Shirley Sherrod") appeared in the leftist alternative publication Counterpunch.
Wilkins is currently a professor in the Department of Africana Studies (not misspelled) at Cal State University. He claims in the final sentence of his column that he is knowledgeable concerning what he is writing because "I was one of those workers at NCI." "NCI" is New Communities, Inc., described at a RuralDevelopment.org link as "the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's."
Here's part of what Wilkins alleges (excerpted items are not in the same order as they originally appeared; out of order verbiage is identified):
The 1,200 National Guard troops that are being deployed incrementally to the southwest border "will not be doing direct law enforcement," said U.S. National Guard Bureau Director of Communications Jack Harrison when asked if the forces would be interdicting drugs and undocumented immigrants.
"The two mission sets are criminal analysts and enter-identification team," Harrison told CNSNews.com. "I can tell you that guardsmen will not be doing direct law enforcement on the southwest border."
In other words, the National Guardsmen will not be used to actually stop and detain illegal aliens trying to sneak across the border into the United States.
Harrison made his comments on Friday during a "bloggers roundtable" sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD).