As the Christmas shopping season went into full swing in 2005, I sensed that journalists in general have a strong preference for using the term "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping" when covering business and commerce, but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."
My instincts have been proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December in each of the last two years (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here; 2005's are here, here, and here):
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show,"co-host Hannah Storm, who tvnewser.com reports will soon be leaving the show, teased an upcoming segment about the controversy over the atheist-inspired movie, "The Golden Compass": "And Nicole Kidman on why the Church doesn't want your children to see her new movie." Of course, the "Church" has said no such thing, but rather the Catholic League has called for a boycott of the movie.
Later during the segment, Storm talked with Catholic League President, Bill Donohue, as well as Ellen Johnson, the president of American Atheists. To Storm’s credit, she challenged Johnson by quoting the atheist author of the "Golden Compass" book trilogy, Phillip Pullman:
STORM: Now let's talk about some of the things that Pullman has said. Back in 2003, he was comparing himself to the Harry Potter series, he said "Hey, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor Harry has said. My books are about killing God." Is he promoting atheism? Does he have an agenda here?
ELLEN JOHNSON: Killing has nothing to do with atheism. I think that the movies are about questioning authority, and I think that's a good thing. Questioning the authority of the state, questioning the authority of the Church. I think that if more children were taught to question authority, maybe a lot fewer of them would have been sexually molested by priests. Questioning authority is a good thing.
Cafferty made the comments just before the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour of Tuesday's "The Situation Room." Two minutes earlier, as part of the "Political Ticker" feature on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer read a brief about the sometimes-retired singer's plug for the former First Lady. This prompted a question from Cafferty as he prepared to read the viewer responses to his 'Question of the Hour' for the 4 pm Eastern hour. "Give me a hand with something. What exactly does the Streisand endorsement represent?" Blitzer responded, "It means that Barbara Streisand, great singer, is supporting Hillary Clinton." This prompted Cafferty's "reclusive, neurotic" line.
The website The Black Commentator defined the loony left by calling for the end of the Thanksgiving holiday, since it's apparently an event for white supremacists. This is more about the Internet than the mainstream media, but remember that liberal blacks the news producers treat as sensible pundits -- like Julian Bond of the hallowed NAACP and Julianne Malveaux, the woman who hoped on PBS that Clarence Thomas would die young -- are on this website's board. Here's just a snippet of their anti-Thanksgiving rant:
Team Edwards, both eminently coiffed candidate John and his designated political hitter bride Elizabeth, on Wednesday, Novemeber 21st cancelled their scheduled appearance on The View, doing so, according to the UnDynamic Duo, to “honor the members of the Writers Guild of America”, who are currently on strike.
Not to be outpandered, Michelle Obama, wife of the incredibly audacious Barack, later that same day pulled out of her December 5th guest co-hosting duties.
Obviously, sucking up is more important than being sucked up to in Democratic presidential politics.
This is related to nearly every Donkey candidate promising to not participate in a scheduled December 10th CBS debate (moderated by the ratings Juggernaut Katie Couric) should their news writers decide to join their union brethren and sistren (one must be, in this age of PC, all-inclusive) and abandon that foundering network vessel to the waves unscribed.
Before Thanksgiving, the Laura Ingraham show had great fun with a Today segment on November 16. As part of a series on "Today Gives Thanks," news anchor Ann Curry expressed her deep love and appreciation for Maya Angelou, the liberal black poetess who delivered the mawkish "rock, river, tree" poem at Bill Clinton's first inauguration.
NATALIE MORALES, co-host: This morning we wrap up our special series "Giving Thanks Today" with Ann's turn to show her gratitude to a great woman. Ann.
ANN CURRY: That's right. You know, words can change your life, and listening to the words of Dr. Maya Angelou in 2002 changed mine. If you're not familiar with Dr. Angelou, you need to stop what you're doing and sit down and listen.A renaissance woman, she is a writer, performer, teacher and an American Poet Laureate...
Storm gave her best shot at making an emotional plea for Hannah Montana concert tickets because the $200 price tag is just too high, although Storm has had a lengthy career in major network TV journalism, dating back to 1989 when she anchored "CNN Sports Tonight."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Lesley Stahl began a segment on calorie labeling for fast food by making this alarmist proclamation: "Obesity rates continue to spiral out of control in this country and nutritionists say one main reason is how dependent we've become on eating out." Enter the big government hero:
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden is in charge of regulating New York City's $11 billion restaurant market...the chains are up against a formidable foe, because Frieden has a record of making big industry bend to his will. He's the one who forced smoking out of city bars and artery-clogging trans fats out of city restaurants. Both those bans spread nationwide, which is also happening with his new crusade.
Frieden’s latest "crusade" is to force big fast food chains nationwide to label the calories of all of their products, which were exempt from doing so. As Stahl explained, "Now, one of the most powerful health officials in the country wants to change that by forcing chain restaurants like McDonald's and Wendy's to spell out exactly how fattening their food is right when you decide what to order."
It would be logical to most Americans that having openly gay adults supervising impressionable young boys under the age of consent might be a bad idea, setting aside moral or religious considerations. It would also be logical to most Americans that private organizations reserve every right to set membership standards on moral and/or religious considerations. And to most lay persons, it would seem downright un-American for any American city to evict the Boy Scouts of America, of all organizations, from city-owned property for what amounts to political correctness.
Yet in covering such a story in "Philadelphia Gives Boy Scouts Ultimatum," the Washington Post's Dafna Linzer paints the Scouts as "anti-homosexual" while failing to suggest the city's liberal Democratic politicians are "anti-Boy Scout."
Brent Bozell's culture column on Thursday reported on Joe Francis, the brains behind "Girls Gone Wild" videos featuring college-age women flashing their breasts (and other body parts) at the camera during Spring Break. But filming two underage girls in Florida led to time in jail, and then the feds indicted him for tax evasion, which is why he's in jail now in Reno, Nevada. Francis thinks all this misfortune couldn't have happen to a nicer guy. He compares himself to Steven Spielberg, even Jesus:
Francis was taken into custody in Florida, where he tells a hellish story of being mistreated like he was in Abu Ghraib. Then he told Greta van Susteren about being taunted by other inmates there. He says the chaplain asked, "Son, have you thought about Jesus Christ?" Francis quickly says Yes. Since he’s just like Jesus: "Every day! Because this is what they did to him."
CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own "two cents" to a question she fielded from an "undecided voter." After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would "require nominees to support abortion rights."
LaShannon Spencer, who was identified as a member of the First African Methodist Church, asked the question near the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour. She highlighted how health care and the Iraq war had, in her view, dominated the questions during past debates. "We constantly hear health care questions, and questions pertaining to the war. But we don't hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?"
On Monday, NewsBusters reported the ironic occurrence of a Missouri newspaper firing a former journalism professor for plagiarism.
At the time, I wrote, "I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry."
Well, new information suggests the latter, as the piece which started the brouhaha, a November 3 column by professor emeritus John Merrill, was critical of a new department for women's and gender studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia (emphasis added):
CNN, during a report on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," mislead its viewers by reporting that a new document issued by the Catholic bishops on voting stated that "the candidate who supports abortion rights shouldn't necessarily be counted out for your vote." Besides this misrepresentation, the report also highlighted the issue of denying pro-abortion politicians Communion. CNN correspondent Mary Snow reported that some "critics" state that "the Communion question was created by extremists, and they hope they're shut out of this election cycle." Speaking of "shutting out," conservative and faithful Catholics were not featured at all in the report. Instead, Snow played two sound bites from prominent liberal Catholics.
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning" this past weekend, reporter Martha Teichner did a profile of recently deceased ultra left-wing author, Norman Mailer, who she described as "... a hell of a big man for a short guy, scrappy, brilliant, controversial. Slugging away at life and letters until the very end." Of course, this was the same Norman Mailer that said of the World Trade Center in October 2001: "Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed."
Later Teichner remarked that "Mailer was unapologetically liberal, anti-war, anti-Nixon, anti-establishment." Well, he certainly was "anti-establishment" when he said to a "London Telegraph" reporter in February 2002, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself...The right wing benefitted so much from September 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it."
At another point, Teichner observed that "Norman Mailer loved playing the political provocateur." That proved true when in 2003, Mailer asserted to the "London Times" that, "Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in...."
Q. Who could possibly be "surprised" that in choosing women to date, college-aged men tend to prefer beauty over brains?
A. An Ivy League professor.
What is truly surprising is that Maureen Dowd thinks this commonplace about men's preferences has implications for Hillary's campaign strategy. Dowd propounds her odd theory in her column of this morning, "Should Hillary Pretend to Be a Flight Attendant?"
Uh oh! America might have to do without CBS' usual standard of news reporting if the network's news writers vote to strike Thursday. Hmm, what production staffer will ghostwrite “Katie Couric's Notebook” now?
November 12, the AP reported that CBS' 500 radio and television news writers, who belong to the Writers Guild Association East, “are expected to overwhelmingly approve a strike authorization” during Thursday's upcoming vote. This strike would follow the WGA drama and comedy writers walk out, which has shut down much of television.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on November 11 that Dubner, a co-author of "Freakonomics," addressed the Washington (State) Policy Center’s small business conference luncheon on November 8 and mentioned this apparent abortion/crime link during his speech. The link is a claim that Dubner’s co-author, Steven Levitt, first made in a 2001 paper entitled "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime." As Dubner put it during his speech, "Unwanted children are much more likely to become criminals. What happens, then, when your population pool has removed from it a big chunk of the unwanted children?" Dubner and Levitt devoted an entire chapter to the supposed abortion/crime connection in Chapter 4 of "Freakonomics."
As much as the mainstream media like Rudy Giuliani’s liberal viewpoints on abortion and homosexuality, a panel on CNN’s "The Situation Room" were divided on the issue of Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Jack Cafferty, who won MRC’s "Tin Foil Hat Award for Crazy Conspiracy Theories" last year, labeled Robertson as being part of a "lunatic fringe" and opined that the endorsement was "absolutely irrelevant." On the other hand, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin thought the Robertson/Giuliani alliance was a "big deal."
Cafferty and Toobin, along with host Wolf Blitzer and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger discussed the endorsement at the bottom of the 6 pm Eastern hour. Blitzer introduced the roundtable discussion by highlighting the possible "mixed blessing" of Robertson. "While the value of Pat Robertson's endorsement is clearly debatable, he has tended to hitch his wagon to winners in the Republican primary."
Blitzer then introduced the panel, and directed the first question to Cafferty, who took the opportunity to not only criticize Robertson, but also go on one of his rants about the Iraq war.
Over the course of his political career, Bill Clinton was literally and figuratively embraced by countless pastors, most of whom presumably went to their pulpits on Sunday to preach traditional values, including marital fidelity. If memory serves, neither Gail Collins nor other liberal pundits noted any irony in people of the cloth endorsing the spectacularly straying Clinton.
But let a preacher praise a Republican with a personal history, and Gail Collins thunders like Billy Sunday with a bad migraine. Here's the opening paragraph of her "Pat Loves Rudy" in today's New York Times [emphasis added]:
In a rather odd teaser for an upcoming Bill O’Reilly interview with co-host Hannah Storm on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "And looking for love in all the wrong places. Here's Bill O'Reilly in the studio this morning." What? Who’s "love" is O’Reilly looking for and why is the "Early Show" the "wrong" place to find it? Smith certainly made no such comment when he welcomed the ultra left-wing Dennis Kucinich earlier on the program.
For his part, O’Reilly had some odd responses when Storm asked about Hillary Clinton’s latest debate performance and charges of sexism against other Democratic candidates, "What do you make of Bill Clinton criticizing Hillary Clinton's Democratic rivals, saying that they were swift-boating her?" O’Reilly responded, "You see, I don't believe anything the press writes about Bill and Hillary Clinton at all...We tracked it yesterday, and we couldn't find any swift boat reference."
Yesterday we were griping about the way NBC's "Green Week" crusade had infiltrated a perfectly good NFL football game. Today brings news that not even the presumably politics-free "Dancing With the Stars" is immune from BDS.
"Morning Joe" today twice rolled tape from last night's "Dancing with the Stars" in which Len Goodman, a Brit who is the head judge, managed to sneak in a shot at President Bush. He was speaking to a dancing pair, apparently after their performance.
At the end of Sunday’s 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney did his usual rant, this time about politicians. Of course when Rooney speaks of politicians, one always seems to come first to his mind: "I'll bet there hasn't been a day this year that President Bush's name hasn't been in the newspaper." At one point Rooney almost seemed sympathetic to the president, "A lot of people complain about things President Bush does but they wouldn't know what to do themselves if they were in his shoes." However, that sympathy soon turned to contempt as Rooney compared his own public speaking to that of President Bush, "I usually can’t remember what it was I was going to say. The president seems to have the same problem sometimes."
Unfortunately, Rooney seemed to remember exactly what he wanted to say at the end of his little diatribe:
The one thing I have to say for myself that I wouldn't say for President Bush is: I know I'm no where near smart enough to be President of the United States. But I will say I might have been smart enough not to get us into a war in Iraq.
In an article counseling readers to cancel the pity party the Washington Post wants to throw for "Young Altruists In the Crowded Field of Public Interest," Rand Simberg at Transterrestrial Musings nails it, and in the process hammers home a reality that Old Media reporters and pundits never seem to comprehend (links were in original post):
..... Who is it that really changes the world, and for the better?
I would argue that it is the people like Bill Gates, or Henry Ford, or Thomas Edison, or the Wright brothers, who have a much larger and more beneficial effect on the world than people who "want to make a difference."
With a little help from Joe Scarborough, Valerie Plame Wilson tried this morning to paint herself as someone who, far from seeking "Vanity Fair" fame, had celebrity thrust upon her in a moment of distraction. Right.
And try this quick quiz:
Q. Is it possible to get through an extended interview of Valerie Plame Wilson without mentioning Richard Armitage?
For the sake of the readers, and their own critical integrity, it's important that newspaper film critics review a movie first as a work of art, and then perhaps assess the political or cultural or moral messages within. A critic can love a film's message and hate its execution, or vice versa. But in Friday's Weekend section of the Washington Post, the critical reaction to two message films -- one vaguely pro-life, and one dramatically pro-gay -- seemed to be based strongly on political criteria. "Bella," the pro-life film, was panned as an "endless" fiasco, and the pro-gay film was "moving...superbly thought out."
When you know, practically from the beginning, what's going to happen at the end of a movie, what do you do with your time in between? Offer to buy everyone in the theater popcorn while you sit this thing out? Check cellphone messages? Catch up on lost sleep?
"It’s a children’s show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children’s show is kind of outlandish." -- spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., which licenses Teletubby characters in the United States.
Yeah, outlandish. I mean, how could anyone imagine there could be undisclosed gay characters in pop-culture materials for children? That Jerry Falwell, what a Christian conservative crank! We all remember how the MSM rightly unloaded on him when he suggested that the Teletubby Tinky Winky could be a hidden homosexual, because "he is purple, the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle, the gay pride symbol." Not to mention that he carried a purse. What ridiculous speculation!
This week's column on entertainment and culture issues from Brent Bozell focused on how King Middle School in Portland has agreed to allow its health center to offer contraceptives -- even pills and the patch -- to middle-schoolers without parental knowledge or consent. Brent borrowed from the Good Morning America debate segment Scott Whitlock blogged where the anything-goes blond hottie favoring sex among children (Logan Levkoff) said she would draw no limits at grade-school contraceptive distribution. She said you had to buy "protection" for the kids when they're bombarded with sexual messages. (Like "Desperate Housewives"? Or even the Geico Caveman comedy?)
Glenn Beck was great in mocking the Permissives in that debate: "The library is outdated, why don't we have a copulation room for the kids?"
Americans on both sides of the aisle should be bitterly angry today.
A United States Congressman stood on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday and said that kids are being sent "to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president`s amusement."
As if that wasn't bad enough, the three evening news programs of America's top broadcast networks didn't feel this despicable act was important enough to share with the citizens of our nation.
Frankly, I'm not sure which should anger you more.
Here is a partial transcript of Rep. Pete Stark's (D-Cal.) abysmal statements made on the House floor on October 18, 2007, that America's leading news agencies didn't want you to see (video available here):
CNN’s Jack Cafferty, in his regular "Cafferty File" segment on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," disdainfully criticized the appointment of a birth control skeptic to head a "family planning" agency at the Department of Health and Human Services by President Bush. "The question this hour is -- how much does it matter if the Bush Administration's appointee to head family planning programs has -- (LAUGHS) has been critical of birth control? This stuff is right out of ‘The Twilight Zone.'"
Cafferty’s comments came in response to the appointment of Susan Orr to the post in HHS, and aired just before the quarter-past-the-hour mark, and at the end of the 4 pm hour of "The Situation Room." Normally, "The Cafferty File" airs 5 minutes earlier at about 10 minutes past the hour, but coverage of the bombing in Karachi, Pakistan near the motorcade of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto pushed it back.
Cafferty began his "Question of the Hour" commentary bouncing off the breaking news about the bombing. He was so "taken aback" by this appointment that he read the introductory remark twice. Cafferty then "frowned upon" (easy for him) the fact that Orr’s position is "acting" director of the agency.