ABC's World News separated itself from the media pack Thursday night. Though ABC's coverage was keyed to how e-mails supposedly show that Karl Rove was at “the center” of early 2005 discussions about replacing all 93 U.S. attorneys, anchor Charles Gibson pointed out how “these U.S. attorneys do serve at the pleasure of the President. He can fire them at any time. So did anything really get done that was wrong?” Jan Crawford Greenburg answered, in a broadcast network evening newscast first, by informing viewers of how “President Clinton, in fact, fired all the U.S. attorneys when he came into office from the previous Republican administration.”
Meanwhile, NBC and CBS continued the obsession on the story for the third night in a row. NBC Nightly News anchor Campbell Brown breathlessly teased her lead, “The prosecutor purge: Did the idea of firing all U.S. Attorneys start with inner circle adviser Karl Rove? If so, what now?” The CBS Evening News led with two stories on the subject, starting with Jim Axelrod on Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Next, Bob Orr looked at how Gonzales “was tangled in controversy" before becoming AG. “As the President's chief lawyer, Gonzales sanctioned the widespread use of warrant-less wiretaps,”Orr thundered, thus “allowing the government to snoop on Americans without court orders.” Plus, “he also approved the so-called 'torture memo'” and “under Bush-Gonzales policies, prisoners were allowed to be held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay with no access to U.S. courts,” policies reflecting an “attitude,” Georgetown law professor David Cole charged, in Orr's words, which “led directly to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.”
When the Clinton administration in 1993, in a then-unprecedented decision, gave all 93 U.S. Attorneys ten days to leave their offices, including Jay Stephens who was in the midst of investigating House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, ABC's World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about it. But on Wednesday night, the evening newscasts on both networks led with Republican Senator John Sununu's call for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as both highlighted different U.S. Attorneys who were amongst the eight replaced late last year by the Bush administration, painting both as victims of nefarious political maneuvering.
“The pressure on the Attorney General of the United States to resign is growing,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted, “for the first time, a Republican Senator has said Alberto Gonzales must go.” Focusing on the fired U.S. Attorney for San Diego, Carol Lam, reporter Pierre Thomas suggested she was removed for pursuing a case against a GOP Congressman and relayed how “Democrats pointed out that most of the eight fired U.S. attorneys had excellent performance reviews.” On CBS, Sandra Hughes delivered a “CBS News Exclusive” about how “John McKay was fired in December for reasons he now believes had nothing to do with the way he did his job, but very much to do with Washington politics.” Hughes passed along how “it was what he didn't do that McKay believes got him fired. In the 2004 gubernatorial race in Washington state, the Democratic candidate won by just a couple of hundred votes. McKay didn't call a grand jury to investigate questions of voter fraud.” But as Wall Street Journal editorial on Wednesday noted, McKay ignored very real evidence of voter fraud.
The broadcast network evening newscasts, which didn't care in 1993 about the Clinton administration's decision to ask for the resignations of all 93 U.S. attorneys, went apoplectic Tuesday night in leading with the “controversy,” fed by the media, over the Bush administration for replacing eight U.S. attorneys in late 2006 -- nearly two years after rejecting the idea of following the Clinton policy of replacing all the attorneys. Anchor Charles Gibson promised that ABC would “look at all the angles tonight,” but he skipped the Clinton comparison. Gibson teased: “New controversy at the White House after a string of U.S. attorneys is fired under questionable circumstances. There are calls for the Attorney General to resign.”
CBS's Katie Couric declared that “the uproar is growing tonight over the firing of eight federal prosecutors by the Justice Department” and fill-in NBC anchor Campbell Brown teased: “The Attorney General and the firestorm tonight over the controversial dismissal of several federal prosecutors. Was it political punishment?” Brown soon asserted that “it's a story that has been brewing for weeks and it exploded today” -- an explosion fueled by the news media.
[Scroll below for 5:24pm EDT] On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," ABC anchor Robin Roberts speculated and fretted over the allegations that some U.S. attorneys were fired because they wouldn’t aggressively investigate Democrats. Roberts dramatically stated that the firings highlight "a trail that points straight to the top" and wondered "how big could this be?"
Yet when President Clinton fired 93 attorneys at the beginning of his first term, ABC never mentioned the story.
The entire GMA report, filed by correspondent Pierre Thomas, was framed from the perspective of how the Democrats perceive this growing scandal and whom they suspect:
Fred Thompson, who is exploring the possibilty of a presidential candidacy, went on Fox News Sunday yesterday, strongly criticized Roe v. Wade and said the answer to it was "good judges." But on this morning's "Today," Andrea Mitchell flatly stated that Thompson doesn't want to overturn Roe. So where does Thompson stand on Roe, and how can we explain Today's depiction of his views?
For answers, let's go to the videotape. The first portion of the clip is from this morning's "Today," the second portion from Thompson's Fox News Sunday appearance yesterday.
On "Today," laying out Thompson's positions on key issues, Andrea Mitchell stated Thompson is "anti-abortion but opposes overturning Roe v. Wade." Where did she get that from? A good clue comes from the fact that just previously she had just played a clip of Thompson's appearance on yesterday's Fox News Sunday. While the clip had nothing to do with abortion [Thompson merely described his rationale for a possible run], it does demonstrate that Mitchell had watched Thompson's appearance and was likely relying on it as the latest, best evidence of his views.
So what did the former Tennessee senator tell Chris Wallace about his views on Roe? Again, have a look at the video.
Chris Wallace: "Do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Thompson: "I think Roe v. Wade was bad law and bad medical science. And the way to address that is through good judges. I don't think the court ought to wake up one day and make new social policy for the country that's contrary to what it's been for the last 200 years. We have a process in this country to do that. Judges shouldn't be doing that. That's what happened in the that case. I think it was wrong."
You might have thought the sad soap opera that has been the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith would have offered a safe haven for those seeking respite from presidential politics. But Hillary cannot be pleased that echoes of a low point of her husband's presidency managed to work their way into the three-ring circus yesterday and onto this morning's "Today" show.
Lawyer Opri uttered her line outside the courthouse where Judge Larry Seidlin was auditioning for a TV show in the guise of conducting a trial. She was asserting that Howard K. Stern, Smith's companion, could not possibly be the father of her infant daughter.
In a statement obtained by this NewsBuster, a senior Bush
administration official has disputed a New York Times article, Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans that suggests
that the review process for detainees held by the U.S.
military in Iraq
is inadequate. The Times story is anecdotal, telling the story of Laith al-Ani,
an Iraqi Sunni who was released by U.S.
authorities last month. According to the Times story, "people like
Mr. Ani . . . are being held without charge and without access to tribunals
where their cases are reviewed."
Without responding to the specifics of Mr. Ani's case, the senior Bush
administration official told me that "the facts of our detention system
belie the themes of this article. We follow well-established standards of
review that go well above and beyond what the law requires. And we do so
in the face of a ruthless and determined enemy."
He offered the following overview of the review process:
File this one under "MSM condemns ee-vil corporations." As you'll note from the screencap, ABC's Good Morning America today branded State Farm Insurance "not a good neighbor." What is State Farm's sin? Its decision not to write new homeowners and commercial policies in the state of Mississippi.
Did you note that? State Farm has decided not to write any new policies. This in no way affects the insurer's liability for existing policies. State Farm has made a simple business decision: given the legal environment there, Mississippi is not a good place for an insurer like it do to business.
"Mike Fernandez, vice president of public affairs for State Farm, said Mississippi's 'current legal and political environment is simply untenable. We're just not in a position to accept any additional risk in this homeowners' market.'"
That didn't stop Diane Sawyer from introducing a segment on the news by speaking of "outrage" over insurance companies and declaring that "some" call State Farm's decision "heartless and others call it plain greedy."
Sometimes media bias can be found in what the networks don’t say. On Tuesday, Wal-Mart suffered a major blow when the liberal 9th Circuit Court in California ruled that a class action lawsuit claiming sex discrimination could proceed against the company. All three evening newscasts reported the story, with ABC and CBS noting that a "federal appeals court" had sided with the female plaintiffs. Over on NBC, "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams simply used the phrase "federal court."
However, the 9th circuit isn’t just any court. This is the group of judges that ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. And, according to a report by the Center for Individual Freedoms, 32 percent of the reversals by the United States Supreme Court in 2003 came from the 9th Circuit. And yet, none of the network anchors thought this a pertinent point. "World News" anchor Charlie Gibson instead chose to hype the enormity of the case:
Charles Gibson: "It is a lawsuit so large in scope and size, that it staggers the imagination.A federal appeals court ruled today that a gender bias suit against Wal-Mart can proceed in what is known as a class-action suit. That means a million and a half to two million women would-be plaintiffs arguing, as a group or class, that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in providing promotions and in paying them less than male employees. Here's our senior law and justice correspondent, Jim Avila."
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls is not too burdensome, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Thursday in a 2-1 ruling that upholds the 2005 law.
..... The 7th U.S. Circuit Court questioned arguments that Indiana's rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law.
..... Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who pushed for the voter ID law, said the ruling was a victory for election reform.
"The seventh circuit affirmed what we have seen from four successful elections in Indiana under the photo ID law - this is a common-sense way to protect honest voters and to improve voter confidence," he said.
Judge Terence T. Evans dissented with the majority opinion, which affirms an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Evans said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Indiana that could be avoided with the photo ID law.
"Let's not beat around the bush," Evans wrote. "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."
In light of the big Democrat win last week, United Press International is doing its best to start the ball rolling against our security with a report from the 11th called Leahy aims at restoring habeas corpus.
In this fawning report, UPI paints Leahy as the hero on the white horse "restoring rights" to those poor enemy combatants the evil, evil Bush administration has been so mean to. UPI is overjoyed that Leahy is riding to the defense of terrorists...
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is expected to take over as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and The (Calif.) Daily Journal reports that Leahy is drafting a bill to undo portions of the new law in an effort to restore habeas corpus rights for enemy combatants.
How nice of Leahy to "restore" something they never had in the first place!
The supposed rights of habes for enemy combatants never existed and still doesn't. The only thing that the last few Supreme Court decisions addressed is if enemy combatants can APPLY for habeas protections, NOT that they should automatically have them.
We should have seen this one coming. The New York Times doesn't think the Saddam trial was fair enough and wants his death penalty delayed.
With the same solicitude it reserves for politically-correct domestic criminals, the Times editorial of this morning opines that Saddam's trial "fell somewhere short" of "an exemplary exercise in the rule of law." In the Times' view, the trial represented neither "full justice" nor "full fairness."
And as an opponent of the death penalty even for mass murderers, the Times predictably advises the appeals court to "defer the carrying out of any death penalty long enough to allow the completion of a second trial."
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The same kind of folks who professed to find a non-existent right to abortion on demand in the Constitution have "discovered" another imaginary constitutional provision. According to its editorial this morning:
"The First Amendment, with its injunction that Congress shall make no law restricting religion, carries an implied corollary that churches should not meddle in politics."
The context was the Globe's complaint that Mitt Romney is reaching out for support to his fellow BYU alums who - oh, the horror! - also happen to be his Mormon co-religionists. The Globe sternly warns Romney to "make sure that the church stays out of his nascent presidential campaign."
Linda Greenhouse is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covers the United States Supreme Court for the New York Times. As we all know, the New York Times, along with the rest of the mainstream press, is adamant about their commitment to unbiased journalism. Reporters don't have opinions, at least not opinions that impact their journalism. It's nonsense, of course, but nonsense that's maintained by the likes of the Times.
Well, Linda Greenhouse, in a recent speech at her alma mater, Radcliffe, expressed some opinions. And if she really feels this way, there's absolutely no way that it could possibly not color her reporting. What she chooses to highlight, the way she expresses things, what she covers or doesn't cover, what she thinks is news and what isn't - that's all determined by her worldview.
What would you call someone who, as per Project Vote Smart, within the last six years has received a 100% rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a 0% from the National Right-to-Life Committee? A 100% rating from the ACLU. A 0% rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. A 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 0% rating from the conservative Family Research Council?
Oh, and someone who voted against George W. Bush for president in 2004, against the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, and who demands the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?
I'd call that person a liberal. Not MSNBC. Not Hardball. Not Chris Matthews's field correspondent David Shuster. The person in question is Republican-barely-in-name-only Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. How did Shuster describe him in a set-up piece for Hardball's discussion of the Rhode Island GOP senatorial primary this evening? A "moderate Republican."
We're all familiar with this definition of a conservative: "a liberal who's just been mugged." This morning, Ted Koppel devised a variation on the theme that could be taken as an insult to his fellow lefties: "a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested."
Koppel's line came in the course of a Today show interview with Matt Lauer to discuss a special that Koppel is about to air in his role as Managing Editor of the Discovery Channel [so that's where he went after leaving ABC!]. As Lauer described it, the documentary, entitled 'The Price of Security,' addresses "the balance between securing the nation and protecting our individual liberties."
The New York Times might be thankful that it is not on trial with Dan Abrams serving as prosecutor. The impassioned argument he made against the journalistic value of the Times' lengthy account of the Duke rape case in today's paper, Files From Duke Rape Case Give Details but No Answers, might have sent the paper to the Big House for years to come.
Interviewed by Tucker Carlson, Abrams, who until taking over as head of MSNBC had his own justice-oriented show on the network, came out guns ablazin'.
"I thought it was shameful. I think it was an editorial on the front page of what is supposed to be the news division of the newspaper."
Editors' note: This post is the beginning of a new NB feature, the weekly recap, a way of summarizing some of the hottest and most-read postings for the week.
It has been quite a diverse week in bias. Newsbusters Executive Editor Matthew Sheffield noted that a popular cartoonist took a racist swipe at Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, portraying him as the slave of colleague Antonin Scalia.
The MRC's Tim Graham covered every aspect of "The Washington Post" and their effort to sink Senator George Allen with "Macaca-gate." You can read more here and here. And for a theory about their excessive coverage, click here.
Regarding the war on terror, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann wondered if the recent arrests in London were timed for political reasons.
If not quite from the grave, the decision by one of Jimmy Carter's judicial appointees, striking down the NSA terrorist surveillance program, was an unwelcome blast from past. Call it Carter's Revenge. Malaise Redux. The spirit of Desert One lives.
That this was a political decision more than a legal one is evidenced by the intemperate language of the opinion itself: "There are no hereditary kings in America," harumphed Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, in a case filed by the ACLU. [An exception to Taylor's no-hereditary-kings rule: the Sulzberger dynasty that is . . . the New York Times. Hat tip to NB poster Jack Bauer. See details in comments below.]
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann bolstered the ruling by Federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Referring to the ruling as a "judicial smackdown" and a "stunning ruling" against the program, Olbermann repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring "our" phone calls or "our" emails. The MSNBC host further contended that since the program was revealed, "anybody who had actually read the Constitution" believed it would eventually be ruled as "patently illegal." Olbermann's guest discussing the topic was liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who labeled Judge Taylor's ruling as a "very thoughtful opinion" and called efforts by conservatives to discredit her as a liberal Carter appointee as "distasteful." By contrast, CNN and FNC featured guests who questioned Judge Taylor's judicial wisdom. (Transcript follows)
On Thursday, all three network evening newscasts covered the ruling by a federal judge against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Stemming from a case filed by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, a Carter appointee, found the program to be unconstitutional. Unlike CNN and FNC, which conveyed that the ruling would likely be overturned, none of the network evening newscasts mentioned the liberal credentials of Judge Taylor or the debate over judicial activism and legal weaknesses in the ruling, such as the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit, since the plaintiffs themselves were not found to be the subjects of surveillance. (Transcripts follow)
On 9/11, the occupants of a hotel right across from the WTC flee their rooms. A hotel security guard informs the FBI that in the room-safe of an Egyptian hotel guest, he found an aviation radio. The radio could be used to communicate with airborne pilots.
The Egyptian, Abdallah Higazy, who is attending college in the US, is arrested, and undergoes tough interrogation, including suggestions that his family could be subjected to investigation by Egyptian security. After offering various implausible stories, the Egyptian admits that the radio is his and that he stole it from the Egyptian air force. He is charged with lying to investigators.
A month later, an airline pilot who had been staying in the hotel returns, looking for his radio. Turn out it was his. The security guard who reported having found the radio in the Egyptian's room had lied to the FBI. It was apparently his twisted means of involving himself in the 9/11 story.
Higazy is freed, never having gone to trial, much less having been convicted of a crime.The security guard is charged with lying to the FBI, convicted and given a prison sentence.
Sounds like the American legal system worked pretty well, doesn't it? Not to Bob Herbert of the New York Times. According to his column of this morning, The Tyranny of Fear [subscription required],
"All the authorities have to do nowadays is claim that a case is linked to terror and they can get away with just about anything. The rule of law is succumbing to the tyranny of fear."
On Wednesday's Countdown show, while reporting on a recent Zogby poll which found that more Americans can name two of Snow White's dwarves than can name two of America's Supreme Court justices, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to joke that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are "Dopey and Grumpy." The Countdown host also took a shot at President Bush by bringing up Bush's failure to name world leaders in a pop quiz during an interview with Boston TV journalist Andy Hiller in November 1999, and suggested to comedian Mo Rocca that Bush's lack of knowledge is to blame for "current world affairs." Olbermann: "Can you think of any consequences at all that could have stemmed from that candidate's level of knowledge? Is that being reflected at all in the current world affairs?" (Transcript follows)
Most of the major American media had serious qualms about printing the Mohammed cartoons a while back. No major newspaper did as far as I can remember.
None of them seemed particularly outraged over a particularly vile cartoon by Wiley Miller, the creator of the syndicated strip Non Sequitur, which implied that Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia wants to enslave black Americans, and more specifically, his court colleague Clarence Thomas. (HT: Betsy Newmark)
With its editorial of this morning, Justice After Guantanamo, the Los Angeles Times has raised the bar when it comes to expressing exquisite sensitivity for the rights of accused terrorists. The Times waxes indignant that in trials of Gitmo denizens the Bush administration favors - brace yourself - the admission of hearsay evidence. Send in the smelling salts.
Says the Times:
"New draft legislation to bring the military commissions established by the administration into compliance with a Supreme Court decision borrows heavily from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's the good news. The bad news is that on some issues — particularly the use of hearsay and evidence obtained by coercive or inhumane interrogation — the administration still clings to the notion that the end justifies the means."
The Andrea Yates jury spent 36 days listening to testimony and argument, trying to get inside the mind of a woman who had drowned her five children. But with just one sentence, ABC's Chris Cuomo accorded us a stunning look inside the mind of a certified MSMer: sympathy first, last and always for the accused.
Somebody please tell me what is funny or - more importantly - true about this cartoon.
Is this really the view of Dan Wasserman and by extension the paper that employs him - the Boston Globe? Do Wasserman and the Globe really believe that, in his heart, President George W. Bush is a torture-master of medieval proportions? Do they truly think that only international agreements and court decisions stand between him and the barbarous flaying of prisoners?
The cartoon is presumably referencing a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled against the administration's use of military tribunals for the trial of Gitmo detainees.
MRC intern Chadd Clark found that CNN had the same old pattern of centering the day's big state court decisions on "gay marriage" as a ruling for "proponents" first. This report aired Thursday in the 4 pm hour of "The Situation Room." Perhaps the newspapers were merely copying from the CNN stylebook. Or maybe it's the GLAAD stylebook.
John King: "Moving on, though. Proponents of gay marriage are reeling today from a one-two legal punch. Courts in Georgia and in New York State issued new rulings now having an impact on the culture wars. CNN's Allan Chernoff has more from New York. Hi, Allan."
Just as the New York Times firmly centered its coverage of so-called "gay marriage" decisions from state courts on the gay left's horror, The Washington Post report from Amy Goldstein also presented the issue first and foremost as a question of how "gay rights advocates" felt:
The highest courts of New York and Georgia ruled yesterday that same-sex couples are not entitled to marry, delivering a twin blow to gay rights advocates that leaves Massachusetts as the only state in which such unions are legal.
As usual, the story is illustrated by a photo of gay activists, as it almost always is. Gay media theorists used to protest that their problem was "invisibility," but now, it's the social conservative activists that almost never get their picture in the paper when the story is gay "civil rights." Perhaps the most classic Goldstein paragraph is the one where she describes the great ideological battle on this issue, between conservatives and liberals -- oops, make that advocates of "civil rights."
Today's New York Times leads off with a local story with national ramifications, a 4-2 defeat of gay marriage in the Court of Appeals of New York, the state's highest court.
Anemona Hartocollis reports:
"New York's highest court rejected yesterday a broad attempt by gay and lesbian couples across the state to win the right to marry under state law, saying that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not violate the State Constitution.
"By a 4-2 majority, the Court of Appeals found that the State Legislature, in laws dating back nearly 100 years, intended to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and that the Legislature had a rational basis for doing so."