Four states, four regions, four local authors giving folksy, personalized takes on the candidates and the issues. You can't knock the Times' choice of format for giving readers a sense of Senate races across the country. But when it came to substance, it soon became clear that just beneath the authors' fly-over state surface lay Upper West Side attitude.
Setting the tone, author Deirdre McNamer might have found the only farm equipment store manager in Montana who makes "taking care of the homeless" his first priority. The Dem candidate's barber was also brought in to accuse the Republican in the race of "lies [and] cheap shots," complaining for good measure about money spent on the Iraq war.
Previously, we examined how gun-rights voting records correlate with campaign contributions from lawyers and law firms during the 2004 election cycle. This bias appears to remain in force for the 2006 cycle.
According to the most recent Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) data, lawyers have retaken first place as the largest industry donor at $68,529,030, having dropped to second in the 2004 election after holding first place since the CRP began collecting campaign contribution data. Recent lawyer/law firm contributions heavily favor Democrats ($47,577,820 to Republicans’ $20,786,462), though the percentage of total contributions dropped from 74.5% in 2004 to 69.4% at present. Historically, this industry group has averaged 72.0% Democrat in its campaign contributions, varying between 68.9% and 74.5% from 1990–2006, thus the 2004/2006 variation does not indicate some new trend.
Was Matt Lauer showing balance in criticizing Hillary Clinton along with Donald Rumsfeld this morning - or was his skepticism about Hillary simply voicing the view of the Murtha/Lamont wing of the Dem party?
The focus was yesterday's Senate-hearing mano a mano between Hillary and Rumsfeld and her subsequent call for the president to accept the Defense Secretary's resignation.
Interviewing all-purpose commentator Howard Fineman, Lauer seemed insistent that it was time for Rumsfeld to go.
Lauer: "[Clinton] said the president should accept Rumsfeld's resignation. He lost credibility with Congress and the people. It's time for him to step down. This is not the first person to call for his resignation, but at some point, do you think it's a possibility especially in the near term?"
Fineman held his fire: "Well, the Democrats will try to make it that."
That wasn't good enough for Matt:
It is safe to say that most conservatives hold Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) in minimal esteem, which is probably putting it mildly. So, when a member of the press goes gaga over anything this man says, it really makes for a boatload of chuckles. As such, the reader is hereby warned to make sure all drinking vessels are tucked safely away from proximity.
Assuming you have followed directions, Jack Cafferty, on the 5PM ET installment of Wednesday’s “Situation Room,” used his media platform to promote another in an ongoing litany of anti-Bush rants by the gentleman from the Great Lake State (video to follow). Cafferty began:
Well, somebody has finally worked up the nerve to say it out loud. We have a constitutional crisis in this country. So says Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.
Dontcha just love the delicious irony of a Congressman with the kind of ethics problems Conyers has talking about a Constitutional crisis? Obviously, this was lost on Cafferty, who continued...with a straight face, no less:
David Segal of the Washington Post profiled Ned Lamont and his hard-left crusade against Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Style section Wednesday. (It might seem a little weird since Segal is usually a rock-and-pop critic, but he used to work at The Washington Monthly.) Segal avoids the liberal and left-wing labels most of the time --and certainly the ultra labels his backers deserve. The headline is "True Blue or Too Blue?" But this sentence is the laugh-out-loud one, trying to nudge Lamont's image to the right by writing up his website position paragraphs:
"They are the views of a fiscal conservative, a social liberal and a foreign-policy moderate. He is a few degrees to the right, generally speaking, of the bloggers who have championed him."
Tim Russert used his Today show appearance this morning to paint a bleak tour d'horizon of Bush foreign policy, expressing the fond wish - in guise of a question - that the American people might come to their senses and throw the bums out at the mid-term elections.
Interviewed by co-host Campbell Brown, Russert first asked: "What's the end game? The concern among Republicans I've talked to is how are the American people viewing this? Is this blind allegiance to Israel or is this standing by the only ally we have in the region? They don't know how much longer there will be patience with the American people."
Russert later made the electoral connection, after casting matters in their darkest light. Rather than speaking of nascent democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current opportunity to defang Hezbollah, Russert portrayed things this way:
U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont got a boost ahead of next week's Democratic primary in Connecticut against Sen. Joseph Lieberman with an endorsement in Sunday’s New York Times.
Some reasons the Times (and left-wing bloggers) dislike Sen. Lieberman:
“He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons….If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.”
The unborn children of teenage mothers who don't want them are better off dead. I don't see any other way to intepret the Boston Globe's editorial of this morning Pregnant and Frightened. The editorial was prompted by a recently-passed Senate bill prohibiting the transport of minors across state lines for purposes of an abortion in violation of parental consent or notification laws.
In the course of condemning the legislation, the Globe wrote:
"It is hard to see how forcing a frightened 15-year-old to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term will improve the life of the teen or her child."
On two occasions, here and here, this column has taken Good Morning America's Kate Snow to task. Fairness thus behooves us to recognize that Kate gave Howard Dean a fair-'n-balanced going over on this morning's show.
Snow got things off to a frosty start: "We mentioned the president's approval rating. It's about 38% in our last poll. Not so good. In another recent poll, the Democrats' positive [rating was] just 32%. To be blunt, are you blowing an opportunity here? Are you not capitalizing on the president's weakness?"
Later, Snow dumped on Dean's freezing-cold relationship with Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman who heads up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and with whom Dean notoriously clashed over the spending of campaign funds.
During an appearance on Friday's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann acknowledged accusations of liberal bias, but denied they were true, preferring to describe himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," without a "rooting interest" in who wins elections. Ignoring criticism from the MRC that, among other instances of bias during the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal, he once compared former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to Nazi war criminal Heinrich Himmler, Olbermann claimed that he was never accused of liberal bias while covering the scandal. Olbermann: "I've been accused of being a liberal, which is interesting because the last time I was on doing the news in the late 90s, I did 218 consecutive shows about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And no one accused me of being a liberal then. It's very interesting the way you can be sort of pigeonholed. I like to think of myself politically as 'correct.'" (Transcript follows)
The Washington Post's Jeff Birnbaum devoted his K Street Confidential column today to liberal Senator Ron Wyden's (D-Ore.) call for a "FairFlat" tax. Birnbaum failed to tell his readers that Wyden's soak-the-rich plan for "reform" co-opts language from two conservative schools of thought on tax reform: the flat tax championed by Steve Forbes and the national sales "Fair Tax" advocated by Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.).
But as the MRC's Business & Media Institute director Dan Gainor also noticed, the Fox News contributor missed Wyden's unfortunate allusion to an infamous Marxist class warrior.
A Friday editorial, "Chained to the Ballot," applauds a U.S. District judge for keeping former House majority leader Tom DeLay on the ballot for the upcoming congressional election, calling DeLay’s failed attempt (he will appeal the ruling) a "gambit" and "final power play," as well as "bait-and-switch politicking."
"The former House majority leader Tom DeLay, master practitioner of tooth-and-claw politics, finds himself in a predicament. He’s been cast adrift somewhere between Texas and Virginia after a court struck down his parting Congressional gambit.
A Republican senator who makes a remark with insensitive racial connotations? Toast. Ask Trent Lott. A Democrat? Hey, no problem! Then again, woe betide the Republican senator who offers an awkward description of the workings of the internet. It will 'haunt' him.
That's the world according to Wonkette-turned-Time columnist Ana Marie Cox, who appeared on last evening's Scarborough Country. For those who might have missed the Biden flap, on a recent campaign swing to New Hampshire, Biden told an Indian political activist: “You cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.”
Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, was on the PBS "NewsHour" last night to discuss the fallout over the fact that on June 23, The New York Times among other papers, revealed classified anti terrorism programs. Mr. Keller attempted to downplay the revelation as not a big deal because:
"We weighed very heavily and looked in excruciating detail at claims that this was not something that terrorists knew, that this would somehow be useful to terrorists. And the fact is, you know, you can find more useful detail about what the Treasury is doing in the Treasury's own public briefings."
If there is more useful detail on the public record, then why didn’t the Times print that instead? How does the Times know that the terrorists were already aware of the SWIFT program they wrote about? Did they talk to any terrorists to find out? The fact is, as Bill Keller goes on to mention:
What do you call an ardent Arlen Specter supporter who proposes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and accuses Republicans of 'chicanery' for introducing proposals on gay marriage and flag burning? Why, a 'conservative' of course - if you're NBC's Today show and your guest is Michael Smerconish.
This is the MSM's means of convincing viewers that there is balance in their choice of guests. As I noted here, the mislabelling reached its pinnacle a while back when Today labelled Bush antagonist Pat Buchanan - someone who left the GOP seven years ago to run against W - a 'Republican strategist.'
Today was back at the name game this morning. As you'll note from the screen grab, it labelled Michael Smerconish a 'conservative.'
For the long weekend, a few media-bias nuggets I've enjoyed from some of my favorite fellow media observers. In his Thursday "Impromptus" column at National Review Online, there's Jay Nordlinger choking on the cynical tone emerging from the AP in Washington:
Talk about tiresomeness — I’m back on my girl Laurie Kellman, and the Associated Press. Here is how an article of hers began yesterday (and bear in mind that this is a news story, from a wire service): “The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.”
That may or may not be true: but it is pure analysis/opinion, friends, not the way to lead a news story (in my opinion — speaking of those).
The article continues in that vein. If Ms. Kellman, and the others, want to work at Mother Jones — or the New York Times! — they should apply there.
Over the last couple days, I've received four emails from one liberal reader of these columns, repeatedly asking me why conservatives are so 'angry and mean-spirited'. I tried explaining that while anger is common to the human condition, in no way do conservatives have a monopoly on the emotion. To the contrary, I cited a recent study revealing that, even when controlling for relevant variables, Republicans tend to be happier than Democrats.
Since I was unable to prove the proposition to the reader's satisfaction, I very much hope he was watching this evening's Hardball. For the show provided a perfect case in point of Republican good humor and raw Dem anger.
At 7:30AM EDT on Wednesday’s American Morning, CNN’s Miles O’Brien was particularly antagonistic toward Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. O’Brien began the segment by highlighting video of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accusing Republicans of concentrating on issues such as the flag burning amendment, while ignoring more pressing matters. O’Brien jumped at the charge:
Miles O’Brien: "I–the question that a lot of people have on their minds, Senator, is, are you, are you fiddling while Rome is burning?"
O’Brien continued to pound Frist throughout the interview, and cited an editorial from a Chattanooga, Tennessee paper which slammed Frist for his "shameless pandering to conservatives." O’Brien asked the majority leader why Americans were not hearing the message that the Senate was taking action on these issues. Frist turned the tables on O’Brien, charging him for focusing on the Senate debates over same-sex marriage and the flag amendment, while not mentioning: "what we’ve done on the floor for the last six weeks: Iraq, the war on terror, making you safer, yes, cutting your taxes, fighting for fairer tax code over time, addressing border security head-on. Where’s your coverage of that?" Frist then directly answered O’Brien’s charge that Americans are not hearing his message:
Senator Bill Frist: "What you do is concentrate on the things that are spun to you from the other side of the aisle, and that’s why that message doesn’t get out."
Come on, Carl. The Tigers are in first place. GM announced some good news this morning. The sun is gonna shine again. Why so cranky?
The senior Democratic senator from Michigan had some very testy exchanges with Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade this morning. The topic was possible troop reductions in Iraq. Levin has been leading the Dem charge in alleging that the Bush administration is orchestrating the drawdowns with an eye on the November elections.
At one point, the give-and-take went like this
Brian: "Judging by conditions on the ground, do you think the President enjoys having troops over in Iraq? Do you think he would keep them there one day past where they should be there or have to be in harm's way?
Yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation", host Bob Schieffer claimed Congress is failing in its job to improve the lives of their constituents, and it wasting time and resources debating trivial conservative matters like Constitutional Amendments banning gay marriage and flag burning:
"It's been so long since Congress did anything, I have to stop and think to remember what it is they're supposed to do. Oh, I remember now, improve the lives of the people who elected them. I can't think of another reason; can you?
Don't misunderstand me. Congress does stay busy. The debate on the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage took a lot of time. Of course, all sides knew there was no chance it would pass. Did the debate improve your life?"
There could be an NBC intern out of work by lunch-time. Somebody failed to get the DNC/MSM talking points to Barry McCaffrey. A guest on this morning's Today show, the retired general obstinately refused to go along with the party line in reacting to the news that a drawdown of US troops in Iraq is in the works. Didn't Barry at least watch Carl Levin over the weekend? The Dem senator from Michigan had made it clear that this was all about election-year politics.
Co-host Campbell Brown picked up right where Levin left off.
Brown: "Based on your assessment of the situation on the ground, do you think this plan is realistic?"
McCaffrey: "Yeah, sure. . . Realistic assumptions will probably occur."
No-o-o-o-o! Brown took another tack: "Put 'realistic' aside and tell me whether you think it's a good idea, though."
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.
When it comes to cutting and running, John Kerry, Jack Murtha and Nancy Pelosi take a back seat to no one. But what if - quelle horreur! - the terrorist insurgents in Iraq beat them to the white flag punch?
Amidst the news of the day, from plots to bomb the Sears Tower to more Dem disunity, Jim Miklaszewski let slip this little bombshell, coming from a press conference by the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey:
"On the positive front, Casey revealed for the first time the Sunni insurgency has reached out to both the U.S. and Iraq to find some way to end their terrorist campaign."
Rachel Sklar, formerly of Mediabistro's FishbowlNY blog and now the "Eat the Press" specialist at the Huffington Post (no "Green Acres" accents required), reports on what she calls a "cheap but hilarious" shot at congressional Republicans on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." It's apparently funny to blame Republican softball players for the floods in New Orleans, as fake-reporter Dan Bakkedahl put it:
The Daily Show's Dan Bakkedahl reported last night on the crisis gripping Congressional-league softball in D.C. this season after the Republican players split off into their own league in response to more inclusive regulations proposed by Democrats. According to the Wall Street Journal (and The Daily Show), the Republicans "seceded" from the league after the Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, permitted below-average teams to compete in the playoffs. The WSJ and Daily Show cited several emails accusing the league of being "all about Softball Welfare" and accusing Caruso of "punishing success and rewarding failure - He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?"
In a chock-filled first half-hour of Today, the family of one the soldiers murdered in Iraq shared their grief and pride, Andrea Mitchell got it all wrong about conservative discontent, and White House spokesman Dan Bartlett declined to rise to Matt Lauer's bait.
Although the appropriateness of publicizing the grief of bereaved families is often debated, their dignity is a frequent source of inspiration. Here, the father of PFC Thomas Tucker of Oregon, reportedly tortured and murdered by the new al-Qaeda leader in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Zarqawi, spoke with simple eloquence:
"We don't understand the big political picture. We understand what has happened. Our son has died for the freedom of everybody in the United States. We are very proud of our son."
Okay, a little bit of nitpicking on a Sunday. Deep in the regional sections of the Sunday Washington Post is the latest breakdown of how the D.C. area Senators and Representatives have voted on important roll calls. It seems the Post headline writer spun it perfectly backwards on the Senate vote on withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq by the end of 2006. John Kerry thought of pushing it, but Sen. Mitch McConnell put it up for him. The vote was 93 to 6 against withdrawing troops quickly from Iraq. But here's the headline in the Post:
WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ
For: 93 / Against: 6
The next sentence explains "The Senate tabled (killed) a Republican amendment to the 2007 defense budget calling on the administration to begin major troop withdrawals from Iraq late this year." Yes, that means 93 Senators voted to table/kill the withdrawal proposal, the opposite of the Post headline.
What's gotten into Campbell Brown? I'd had her pegged as a conventional MSM liberal, but in recent times, she has manifested a refreshing streak of independence that was very much on display in her interview of Howard Dean on this morning's Today show.
Things came to a head over the Dems' vague and conflicting positions over Iraq.
Began Brown: "Let me ask you about Iraq. I want to ask a straightforward question. What is the Democrats' position on Iraq? What solution do Democrats have?"
Dean: "We believe that the President is wrong to say this will be left to the next president. That's not the right approach. Secondly, we believe there needs to be a transition, that the Iraqis need to take over and our troops need to come home and be redeployed to other parts of the world to fight terrorism. The war on terror has nothing to do with the war with Iraq, or at least it didn't until the president got us in there. We believe in transition. This is now the responsibility of the Iraqis. And we believe that this cannot be left to the next administration. It needs to be dealt with now."
Hit back Brown: "But 'dealt with now', that's not that different from President Bush's position."
Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM
Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
Without question, one of the most liberally biased journalists and political commentators in the mainstream media today is Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift. Week after week, her columns and her words spoken on “The McLaughlin Group” sound eerily similar to Democrat talking points coming directly from the likes of Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry.
This is what makes her column on Friday quite shocking, for it not only deviates from the party line that she rarely strays from, but is also written without her normal inflammatory hyperbole for anything right of center. And, even more surprising, Clift actually had negative things to say about her left-leaning brethren.
Clift’s rare moment of sanity was evident right in the first paragraph:
“The death of the top-ranking operative of Al Qaeda in Iraq is a welcome moment of clarity in a war desperately in search of a rationale. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi personified the face of evil and was controversial even among jihadists for staging large-scale attacks on civilians. The news out of Iraq has been gloomy for so long that Zarqawi’s demise, along with the agreement on the remaining cabinet ministers to fill out the new government, may buy some time with the American public, and give President Bush the breathing space to figure out what to do next when he meets with his advisers at Camp David next week.”
She continued with the importance of Zarqawi's death:
The NY Times’ Carl Hulse says goodbye and good riddance to Rep. Tom DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader resigning his seat in Congress today, with “Defiant to the End, Delay Pats Himself on the Back and Bids the House a Torrid Goodbye.”
“Representative Tom DeLay personifies the word ‘unapologetic.’