On Thursday's Late Show, David Letterman recounted how he testified before a Manhattan grand jury earlier in the day about how a man, whom he did not identify, left a package in his car three weeks ago and subsequently demanded $2 million or he would write a screenplay and book detailing, in Letterman's words, “all the terrible things that I do” – specifically, “that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show. Now, my response to that is: Yes I have.” (In March, Letterman married the mother of his five-year-old son.)
TMZ has learned the identity of the alleged extortionist who was arrested today for attempted grand larceny in the first degree. His name is Robert Halderman. He's 51 years old and lives in Norwalk, CT. Halderman has a business in Manhattan, where he was arrested today. CBS just issued a statement saying the suspect is an employee of "48 Hours." Halderman has been suspended pending results of the investigation.
John Ridley, a former MSNBC co-host and a Huffington Post contributor, used the California state budget crisis as an excuse to forego the extradition of rapist director Roman Polanski on CNN’s Campbell Brown program on Monday: “The people of California- we’re broke. What are we going to do? We’re going to prosecute him with IOUs? Let’s figure out some other way to deal with this for the moment.”
Ridley appeared with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin just after the bottom of the 8 pm Eastern hour. Anchor Campbell Brown first asked the former MSNBC personality, “This guy [Polanski] raped a 13-year-old girl. Why is Hollywood rallying behind him?” He replied, “Roman Polanski’s story is really interwoven with the Los Angeles story. He came here- he made a seminal film...Rosemary’s Baby. And then, of course, the horrible- the Manson murders would happen to his wife, the Tate-LaBianca murders.....So, I think there are a lot of people who feel like- here’s an individual who represents Hollywood, who’s been persecuted by it, and has really lived a pretty horrible life, and what more can you do to this guy after 30 years...why not...let it rest?”
ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday America continued to raise questions about the arrest of Roman Polanski in Europe, spinning the case as a "31 year-old prosecutorial obsession." According to reporter Nick Watt, the film director has "been hunted since 1978."
The network correspondent observed that Polanski, who is wanted for child rape and was detained in Switzerland, "has some powerful friends." He explained, "Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has released this statement. ‘We're calling on every filmmaker we can to help fix this terrible situation.’" Watt also featured a snippet of ex-child star Melissa Gilbert on The View: "I think [Polanski’s] tried to atone. I think the punishment at this point may be excessive." Actress Debra Winger fawned, "We stand by, awaiting his release and his next masterwork.
Now, ABC did include one clip of a critic of the filmmaker. Professor and child advocate Wendy Murphy asserted that the director should face justice and that "no matter how much you like the guy's movies, he did something really bad." Co-host Robin Roberts also asked Polanski’s agent, "What do you say to his critics, who say even though it's been three decades, that justice hasn't fully been served yet?"
The View's Whoopi Goldberg yesterday offered the most outrageous and despicable defense of child rapist and Hollywood director Roman Polanski yet: "It wasn't rape-rape." That's right. Goldberg tried to claim that Polanksi drugging and having sex with a thirteen year old girl, who repeatedly uttered 'no' to the predator, does not qualify as 'actual' rape (video embedded below the fold).
Polanksi apologists have tried since he was arrested in Switzerland Sunday to excuse his actions on the grounds that he was traumatized by his horrible experiences as a Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland or that he has endured enough punishment since his conviction in 1978. But Goldberg's defense is so far the most insensitive, oafish attempt for an excuse yet (video embedded below the fold):
"How do you say 'FAIL' in Polish," Michelle Malkin quipped in a blog post this morning dealing with Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum, who in a September 27 blog post decried the arrest of Roman Polanski in Zurich the day before.
Applebaum, you may recall, failed to note in that blog post that her husband, Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski, is pleading for Polanski's release. Well, Malkin noted today that Applebaum is defending her lack of full disclosure, despite having been called out on the blogosphere for the glaring omission:
There's a side of America that scares Frenchmen, French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand was quoted by Time magazine Paris-based writer Bruce Crumley, and it's the side of American determination that doesn't let a 32-year-old rape case die, even if the perpetrator is an elderly survivor of the Holocaust.
Seeking to explain the "cultural divide" that's as "wide as the Atlantic" between America and Europe, Crumley noted that Europeans are "shocked and dismayed that an internationally acclaimed artist" such as Roman Polanski "could be jailed for such an old offense."
Of course, at no point did Crumley cite any public opinion polls with empirical data to back up his argument about the U.S.-European cultural divide on pursuing fugitives who jump bail after drugging and anally raping 13-year-old girls.
Hosts and reporters on Monday's Good Morning America hyperventilated about the arrest of fugitive Roman Polanski. Co-anchor Diane Sawyer worried that the detention of the director accused of child rape has created a "true international incident." Co-host Robin Roberts played up the supposed complexity of situation, referring to the event as an "international chess game."
Reporter Nick Watt fretted, "When Polanski, who is a French citizen, walked into a police trap here at Zurich Airport, he sparked an international row." Highlighting French outrage, he parroted, "This morning, another French minister said, ‘There is a scary America that has just shown its face.’"
In 1977 Polish-born filmmaker and Academy Award winner Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, and then fled the United States before he could be sentenced. For three decades he has lived as a fugitive under the protection of the French government. But finally, on Saturday, September 26, the 76-year-old was arrested by the Swiss police after flying in to - ironically - receive an honorary award at the Zurich Film Festival.
Disturbingly, some are up in arms, claiming that - even though Polanski performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on a frightened girl he had plied with Champagne and a Quaalude - the incident should be forgotten. One such person is Tom O'Neill, the senior editor of In Touch Weekly. On September 28, during a CNN interview, O'Neill first claimed that Polanski "seduced" the young girl when it's obvious after reading her grand jury testimony that she was raped. Also, during that same interview, O'Neil argued that Polanski shouldn't be extradited to the U.S. for a trial, saying:
Washington Post columnist and blogger Anne Applebaum not only penned a September 27 blog post lamenting the recent arrest by Swiss authorities of child rapist and fugitive from American justice, Roman Polanski, she failed to let readers in on her conflict of interest.
Applebaum is married to Poland's foreign minister, who is lobbying for Polanski's release on bail.
Our good friend Patterico -- who works for the D.A.'s office that put out the arrest warrant -- has details at his blog (h/t La Shawn Barber):
Nothing mitigates director Roman Polanski’s unspeakable crime. Certainly Polanski has dealt with personal tragedy on a scale few of us can understand, but that’s not a license to drug, rape and sodomize a 13 year-old girl. Nor is perceived misconduct on the part of the trial judge, nor is the forgiveness of the victim (who reached an out-of-court settlement with Polanski).
And this may come as a surprise to some in Hollywood, but helming a few cinematic masterpieces doesn’t turn someone who anally raped a child into some kind of tragic hero… In all the revisionist history, the simple fact that Polanski plead guilty to “unlawful sex with an underage girl” is seldom mentioned at the top of the special brand of rationalizations extended to our celebrity class.
Well, finally, after 32 years, justice may be done. At the request of the U.S., the Swiss nabbed the 76 year-old fugitive and may extradite:
According to many in the liberal media, vehement conservative protestations to Obama and his policies are inciting, or have the potential to incite violence against the President. In their eyes, violent rhetoric and violent actions are one and the same. "Violent rhetoric begets violence," as one liberal talk show host put it.
So why are we not seeing blame heaped upon documentary filmmaker and avowed socialist Michael Moore for yesterday's G-20 riots in Pittsburgh? Moore does, after all, preach hateful and extreme anti-capitalist rhetoric. The cryptic slogan for his most recent movie, "Capitalism, A Love Story", reads, "Capitalism is evil, and you can't regulate evil." This line is eerily reminiscent of many of the socialist-anarchist slogans chanted by the G-20 protesters.
Assume for the sake of argument that violent rhetoric does beget violence. By this logic, shouldn't we blame Michael Moore's vitriolic indictments of investment banks for the brick that was hurled through a PNC Bank window yesterday? And if government aids and abets the evil that is capitalism, aren't Moore's words responsible for the bricks that were hurled at riot police in Pittsburgh?
Some liberals are using the death of a Census Bureau worker in rural Kentucky to bolster their wild claims that criticism of Obama is sparking political violence. But evidence is lacking, speculation is rampant, and left wing accusers are coming up short in their efforts to portray opposition to the president as somehow dangerous.
"This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks," writes Allison Kilkenny, a Huffington Post contributor and liberal radio host who, according to her bio, "makes sh***y world news funny." She was referring to the probable murder (authorities have not officially ruled it a homicide) of Bill Sparkman, whose body was found with the word 'Fed' carved into his chest.
'Fed', by Kilkenny's account, "has taken on a derogatory meaning in right-wing circles where fear and paranoia reign supreme... Such paranoia and anger isn't contained in the woods of Kentucky. The problem is systematic."
Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis promised that her organization would conduct a "total audit," and would name an independent auditor by Friday ("within 48 hours"). Later, it said it would do so yesterday.
The group finally acted today, in totally underwhelming fashion. We're not going to get a "total audit" after all. Instead, there's going to be an "internal investigation," and it will be conducted by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
If this were a Republican group, or if the press were doing its job, this change in mission would be correctly labeled a watered-down cop-out. Instead, the Associated Press's Sharon Theimer played along with it and made no reference to ACORN's high-minded promises last week.
Last Wednesday, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, in the wake of James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's embarrassing video barrage, went into damage control mode:
As a result of the indefensible action of a handful of our employees, I am, in consultation with ACORN’s Executive Committee, immediately ordering a halt to any new intakes into ACORN’s service programs until completion of an independent review. I have also communicated with ACORN’s independent Advisory Council, and they will assist ACORN in naming an independent auditor and investigator to conduct a thorough review of all of the organization's relevant systems and processes.
The Politico entry from Ben Smith linked above reports that the (cough, cough) "Independent Advisory Council" consists of the following eight members:
Fair enough. But Breitbart asserted what I believe is a bigger point. It isn't just that the establishment media would have ignored the story if James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles had attempted to put it out there on their own. Breitbart believes that Big Media would have actively worked to bury it and to discredit its authors. There's little doubt that Andrew is absolutely correct.
In a column today, Salon’s Joe Conason drastically downplays the history of illegality that characterizes the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. In his revisionist history of the organization, Conason tries to show that ACORN may commit voter registration fraud, intimidate its employees to prevent them from unionizing, and willingly assist in the trafficking of underage sex slaves, but by and large it is a force for good.
For many years the combined forces of the far right and the Republican Party have sought to ruin ACORN, the largest organization of poor and working families in America.
Ah yes, ACORN is supposedly battling for the rights of the working class. But in 1995, the organization sued the State of California for an exemption to the high minimum wage laws in that state on the grounds that higher wages would mean they would have to employ fewer people. Incidentally, this is the exact same argument that every opponent of minimum wage laws employs, and ACORN has always battled for a higher minimum wage.
Leave it to the Associated Press to drive the establishment media's attempt to portray ACORN's serious impairment as almost entirely the product of the Republican Party.
Never mind that Democrats control the Senate, which voted 83-7 to pull HUD funding from the group earlier this week, meaning that the vast majority of Democrats supported the measure. Never mind that the House, including about 70% of Democrats, yesterday voted to totally defund ACORN by 345-75.
In the world of Jim Abrams and the Associated Press, it must be almost all the GOP's fault that this happened. Check out the headline (frequently used elsewhere, as seen in this Google Web search on the exact title in quotes) at the reporter's story:
After a summer swoon, you would think that the evening newscasts of the Big 3 networks would start to recover a bit now that many Americans are back from vacations, kids are back in school, and fall routines are getting established or re-established.
So far, you would be wrong.
It's early, and there's still plenty of time this fall to recover, but during the time period after Labor Day, the broadcasts primarily anchored by Brian Williams at NBC, Charles Gibson at ABC, and Katie Couric at CBS:
Are down a combined 28.5% from their peak in late January during the first full week of Barack Obama's presidency.
Have lost a combined 37.7% of their audience in the 25-54 demographic during the same time period.
Are down year-over-year compared to September 1, 2008, the week after Labor a year ago, by 8.9% overall and 18.1% in the 25-54 demographic.
At 19.55 million, are basically drawing audiences no larger than they were during this past (for them) miserable summer.
Gregory Hall, a former employee of scandal-plagued ACORN, labeled the organization “the most corrupt group in the country” on Wednesday’s Fox and Friends on FNC. Hall placed the blame squarely on the national leaders of the left-wing group: “They’re the ones that are constantly giving the orders that say- make the money, no matter what- lie, steal, cheat- and I’ve got the witnesses to prove it” [audio clips from the segement are available here].
Anchor Steve Doocy first asked the ACORN critic if he was surprised by the recently released undercover videos showing employees of the organization trying to abet underage prostitution, tax evasion, and other crimes. Hall answered, “No, I’m not surprised,” and explained that “there is not much good in ACORN anymore, as far as its mission, and definitely not through its executive board.”
This morning, co-host Don Wade of 890 WLS radio's Wade and Roma show in Chicago threw a question at ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson that I suspect was on many listeners' minds:
Don: Okay, here’s my news question. A Senate bill yesterday passes, cutting off funds to this group called ACORN. Now, we got that bill passed and we have the embarrassing video of ACORN staffers giving tax advice on how to set up a brothel with 13-year-old hookers. It has everything you could want – corruption and sleazy action at tax-funded organizations and it’s got government ties. But nobody’s covering that story. Why?
Keep in mind that James O'Keefe's and Hannah Giles's first pair of videos at BigGovernment.com showing an ACORN office engaged in the activity described appeared in the early morning on September 10. That was five days ago.
But until that moment, the topic apparently wasn't on Gibson's mind. Here's Gibson's jaw-dropping answer, with additional follow-up banter (HT to Rush on the air; transcribed by Michelle Malkin, who also has audio):
A bipartisan consensus of senators in Washington is newsworthy in these fiercely partisan times, but when the matter of agreement is something that leaves egg on the faces of the left-wing community organizers, eh, not so much.
Yesterday, in an 83-7 vote -- 50 Democrats and 33 Republicans for; 6 Democrats and 1 independent against -- the Senate passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the use of federal funds to the scandal-ridden Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). [related item on media ignoring the ACORN story by my colleague Dan Gainor here]
This morning, neither ABC's "Good Morning America" nor CBS's "Early Show" nor NBC's "Today" reported on the vote and the underlying controversy surrounding the liberal community organizing group.
Entrapment n. In criminal law, the act of law enforcement officers or government agents inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead. The key to entrapment is whether the idea for the commission or encouragement of the criminal act originated with the police or government agents instead of with the "criminal."
It's turning into quite the morning for NBCers to defend the left on Morning Joe . . .
First, Chuck Todd flatly rejected the notion that the MSM failed to adequately report on Van Jones, suggesting coverage would have been a waste of time. Later, Norah O'Donnell came on and suggested that the video of the ACORN employees giving advice on how to evade the tax laws in setting up a brothel with young illegal aliens "might be viewed as entrapment."[H/t FReeper mimaw.]
Early this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I posted on the Associated Press's treatment of the firing of two employees at ACORN's Baltimore office. These employees were successfully stung by undercover filmmaker James O'Keefe, who posed as a pimp (one who said he has plans to use the money from his "enterprise" to run for Congress), and Hannah Giles, who posed as a prostitute.
In a pair of videos (full script here) released on Thursday, viewers saw the two helpful ACORN Baltimore employees tell O'Keefe and Giles, among many jaw-dropping things, that:
Giles should call herself a “freelance performing artist” for tax purposes.
That they should claim three of 13 underage girls the pair planned to bring in from El Salvador to work as prostitutes as dependents.
That the prostitute should also claim child tax credits for those declared as "dependents."
O'Keefe and Giles piled on Friday morning by releasing a second pair of videos showing that they had pulled off a similar sting at ACORN's DC office.
But if we're to believe the Associated Press's Hope Yen, Friday's out of the blue decision by the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN in connection with the 2010 census had nothing or at most very little to do with what O'Keefe and Giles pulled off. Instead, Yen portrayed the decision as a cave-in to the minority party in Washington known as Republicans. Uh-huh.
Thursday night, the Associated Press reported on the Baltimore ACORN sting carried out by James O'Keefe of Andrew Breitbart's new BigGovernment.com web site. A paragraph near the end of the report is virtually a de facto commercial for the controversial group.
As to the sting itself, in case you missed it -- in two devastating videos originally posted here that you must see, O'Keefe and Hannah Giles posed as a pimp and prostitute who, as summarized in original Fox News coverage, told officials at ACORN's Baltimore office that they "wanted to secure housing where the woman could continue to maintain a prostitution business."
ACORN said Thursday that it has fired the two employees who are seen on tape telling O'Keefe and Giles the following, among a host of sickening howlers:
Sadly, posts like this one about the continued refusal of the Associated Press to label disgraced and now-indicted Northeast Pennsylvania judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan are starting to sound like a broken record.
Fair enough, but someone has to track the record AP is apparently seeking, the one for "most failures to mention a Democratic Party affiliation after initially doing so."
You see, in an early report back in February when the story first broke, AP told readers (as noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that "Both are Democrats." Shortly thereafter, revised and extended versions of that early report omitted the two judges' party affiliations.
No other AP story since issued that I am aware of has told readers that Ciavarella and Conahan are Democrats, even though the wire service's reports on case developments have gone over their national wire, as seen here today at AP's raw feed at about 2PM:
"When you have a party that claims to speak for God or claims that God is on its side, the rhetoric heats up and the anger heats up because it's not just a battle about ideas and positions and what's good for the country or bad for the country," Savage said. "It's a battle about what God wants and what God doesn't want. It's easier to demagogue about your enemies and to despise them and to dehumanize them in this really personal and vicious way."
According to the mainstream media, carrying a gun to a protest is just plain crazy, even if perfectly legal. What’s more, it’s indicative of the toxic, hate-filled atmosphere filling conservative protests of President Obama and his plans for health care reform.
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews and his daytime colleagues at MSNBC, for example, have their used air time to marvel at what would possess an average American citizen to go to a rally near where President Obama is speaking with a gun.
But the media reaction was markedly different nine years ago when a group of Black Panthers marched on the Texas Republican Party’s state convention on June 2000 brandishing AK-47s. Indeed, that incident itself was chalked up as then-Gov. Bush’s fault by none other than then-MSNBC "Equal Time" co-host Paul Begala.
So Michael Vick is an Eagle now. That’s ok with me. I’m a Giants fan. Or I was a Giants fan, when I could stand to follow pro football. For a long time now, I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch more than a few games a season. These days, I feel nearly as out-of-place at a Super Bowl party as I would at an Oscar party.
Here in the DC area, the Redskins religion has begun its sacramental advent count-down to opening Sunday. I wish I could share the excitement. Part of the problem is that I’m a natural contrarian. Everybody loves football, so I don’t. Also, I’m a baseball fan (in a town largely devoid of them). The end of summer means my season’s running down, while theirs is pumping up.
But the problem is more involved. See, I love the game of football. But I loathe how and by whom it is played at the professional level. I don’t like the hype and the spectacle and the production – the computer generated “Transformers”-type robots Fox uses in commercial bumpers. And I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks Hank Jr.’s “Monday Night” theme song gets a little more embarrassing every year.
On Wednesday, the CBS Early Show once again feared a rise in right-wing extremism as co-host Russ Mitchell cited a report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "A report out this morning says anti-government and white racist militias are regrouping around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it is in part a reaction to the election of America’s first black president." [Audio/video (1:21): Mp3 | WMV]
The CBS morning show touted a similar report from the liberal group on April 15, with co-host Harry Smith declaring: "The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That’s up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama." Smith went on to describe how that report coincided with a controversial Homeland Security report that was released at the same time.
The Wednesday story was reported by correspondent Bob Orr, who cited anecdotal evidence: