It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
Who needs Fightthesmears.com when you have the New York Times?
Times reporters Michael Powell and Jodi Kantor helped Michelle Obama soften her image in Wednesday's big front-page interview, "After Attacks, Michelle Obama Looks for a New Introduction." The long, laudatory piece was anchored with a large photo, taking up half the upper fold of the front page, of Michelle Obama listening thoughtfully to her husband's famous race speech back in March.
The Times portrayed criticism of Michelle Obama as either hurtful or out of line. Her controversial comment in Wisconsin, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country,"which suggested for many both a lack of pride in America and an unpleasant self-absorption, was dismissed by the Times as a mere "rhetorical stumble," with the implication that the media overplayed it (the Times certainly didn't).
At least the Times did a rowback on its previous false assertion that conservative bloggers had been behind the rumor about Michelle Obama's "whitey" speech, when in fact, as the Times now writes, it was a "blogger who supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton" (Larry Johnson) who circulated the claim.
Like rock journalists following Bono, the Times reporters seem utterly fascinated by the minutia of Obama's day, while taking a few potshots at a Bush administration it's already condemned as doomed to perdition in the history books.
Like most presidential candidates, Mr. Obama is developing his executive skills on the fly, and under intense scrutiny. The evolution of his style in recent months suggests he is still finding the right formula as he confronts a challenge that he has not faced in his career: managing a large organization.
The skill will become more important should he win the presidency, and his style is getting added attention as the country absorbs the lessons of President Bush's tenure in the Oval Office. Mr. Bush's critics, including former aides, have portrayed him as too cloistered, too dependent on a small coterie of trusted aides, unable to distinguish between loyalty and competence, and insufficiently willing to adjust course in the face of events that do not unfold the way he expects.
ABCNews.com, reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Rome refusing permission to Ron Howard’s plans to film the movie prequel to Dan Brown’s "The DaVinci Code" in two historic churches, used loaded wording in the headline: "Church Cracks Down on New ‘Da Vinci’ Film."
The lead for the report, written by Phoebe Natanson and Luchina Fisher, also used similar imagery to describe the Catholic Church’s refusal: "Once again, the Catholic Church is coming down hard on writer Dan Brown, the author of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ The producers of Brown's latest thriller to be made into a film, ‘Angels and Demons,’ have been banned from filming key scenes inside any church in Rome, on the grounds that the book is "an offense against God," according to a church spokesman.
Speaking of "coming down hard," wasn’t Brown doing just that in "The Da Vinci Code" by depicting the Catholic Church as a nefarious organization?
Time magazine writer Michael Lindenberger's dispatch "From Gay Marriage's Ground Zero," read more like puffy campaign literature for the liberal Democratic mayor of San Francisco than an objective news piece.
Same-sex couples began marrying late Monday night in courthouse ceremonies across California, putting triumphantly happy human faces on a debate that is nevertheless far from over. Crowds turned out to welcome - and, for some, to protest - weddings in Beverly Hills, Oakland and the wine country north of San Francisco.
Later in his piece, Lindenberger took at face value Newsom's recollection of how he decided in 2004 to challenge state law and grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Those "marriages" were later invalidated of course, but the recent decision by California's highest court paved the way for gay weddings, at least between now and November when a ballot initiative may outlaw same-sex marriage.
Lindenberger dutifully transcribed Newsom's insistence that he didn't know how big a deal his civil disobedience would be:
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning," correspondent John Blackstone reported on the beginning of legal gay marriages in California starting Monday: "Even for people used to earthquakes, the California Supreme Court's decision last month to legalize same-sex marriage was a jolt. But even as gay couples make plans to wed this week...Opponents say tradition should and will be restored."
Blackstone went on to talk to one such opponent: "Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is confident Californians will vote to again ban same sex marriage. On the ballot, in November...Brown says the state supreme court improperly overturned the will of the people. In 2000, California voters approved a measure declaring that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California."
Out of a total of 8 minutes and 50 seconds of coverage during the show, 2 minutes and 14 seconds was given to highlight opponents of gay marriage. By Sunday’s "Evening News" the total coverage had shrunk to 2 minutes and 35 seconds with 27 seconds given to opponents. Total coverage on Monday’s "Early Show" was 5 minutes and 12 seconds, however, time given to opponents of gay marriage was only 41 seconds, with no mention of Brown or his organization.
Pushing a liberal social agenda is the last thing you'd expect to see on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." But the network's June 16 mid-morning show featured a segment praising the California Supreme Court for legalizing same-sex marriage because of a predicted economic benefit.
"This time around, one study expects over 100,000 gay couples will tie the knot, providing a boost to California's ailing economy hit hard by the real estate foreclosure meltdown," CNBC Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Jim Goldman said.
Goldman cited data from the pro-gay Williams Institute, a division of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. According to its Web site, the Williams Institute "advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public."
James Kirchick, assistant editor of The New Republic, has come under NewsBusters scrutiny for his bias before, of course. Our job is, we all know, to document and analyze that bias. But while we naturally focus on when the media get it wrong, we should have the maturity to point out when those who we criticize get it right. Here is a case when a member of the media that we usually criticize did, indeed, get it right and this time it might get him in Dutch with his lefty pals in the nutroots. After all, the surest way to get the nutroots upset at you is to say Bush did not lie about the war. But that is exactly what Kirchick just did and he did an admirable job chronicling it, too.
In an editorial in the L.A. Times on the 16th, Kirchick said that "Bush never lied to us about Iraq" and then went on to substantiate his claim in a style that runs contrary to the Media and nutroots meme that "Bush lied and people died."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor praised the courage of Barack Obama for promoting fatherhood during a speech on Father’s Day while running for president: "A job that usually requires safe, focus-group tested messages. This one seemed like anything but." Obama’s speech, in which the Illinois Senator declared that many fathers, particularly in the African-American community, are "M.I.A.," "AWOL," and "...acting like boys instead of men," was described by co-host Maggie Rodriguez as "A blunt Father's Day message from Barack Obama to African-American men."
On ABC’s "Good Morning America," correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "...it was a provocative speech, the first major party African-American presidential candidate in history took the opportunity of Father's Day to deliver some tough love to the African American community on the subject of the disintegration of the black family." The report also featured a clip of Obama’s speech that lasted a full1 minute and 12 seconds.
This is not a bias-busting item. On this Father's Day, Washington Post Magazine columnist Jeanne Marie Laskas has a nice piece on how good, involved fathers make strong, confident daughters. It's encouraging to read. Laskas figures out that her husband's a good dad because he loves his girls, not just to be satisfied with himself:
I always knew he was a good dad. Somehow, I never really considered the motivation. Somehow, I had it in my mind that being a good dad was a matter of pride. Something a man does for himself. Like waxing a car; he does it to stand back and feel proud of the shine.
My friend put a new light on it. Fatherhood: a vital job a man does or doesn't do -- impacting so much future, blazing a path toward lasting love.
Has NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory turned over a new leaf?
Gregory, who has earned a lot of critics for having an anti-Bush/liberal bias, made it seem that way during a discussion about ethics in politics and journalism Thursday. He claimed to struggle with Jewish teachings about saying bad things about others - at least when it comes to Democrats.
Q. What's weaker than playing the "taken out of context" card?
A. Digging yourself deeper with the supposedly exculpatory explanation.
Mike Barnicle managed the Daily Double today with his mishandling of the flap over the way he described Hillary back in January. Barnicle was on Morning Joe, and discussion turned to a New York Times article, Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage, that mentioned his remarks.
NewsBusters reader Shane S. shared this experience:
I was searching for a book I read in college, "God: A Biography." I searched Barnes & Noble's website using the book's title as my search term. The book I was looking for was the first result given. The second result? "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" by the Messiah Himself, Barack Obama.
I tried the experiment myself, and sure enough, it produced the same results. Update: 6:05 PM. Searching for "God: a Biography" no longer leads to the Obama book. You don't suppose Barnes& Noble reads NewsBusters? But we have the screen capture after the jump, taken this morning, which shows that a search for "God: a Biography" led to The Audacity of Hope.
My late father, who worked with the toughest kids in a Brooklyn high school, used to say that when a person's reaction is disproportionate to the stimulus, something else is causing it. So when Obama campaign co-chair Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) dramatically reserved the "hottest ring in hell" for those who would go after Michelle Obama, my antennae went up. Interviewing him, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell also seemed a bit taken aback by the forcefulness of Durbin's response.
O'Donnell broached the subject by quoting from Maureen Dowd's NY Times column of this morning:
It’s good news for Obama that Hillary’s out of the race. But it’s also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of “Kill the witch.”
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked about Hillary Clinton dropping out of the presidential race with liberal blogger Arianna Huffington and former Democratic Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who commented on sexism during the campaign: "It troubles me a lot what we saw. It was like they made a witch out of her [Hillary Clinton], some people. You know we thought the Salem witch trials were over. But some people, no matter what she said, it was 'don't believe it. She's really evil.' This is -- I've never seen anyone do that to a candidate." [audio available here]
That comment was sparked by Smith asking about Clinton: "Did she -- did she get a fair shake? Smith followed by telling Schroeder: "Talk to me from your gut." The former Congresswoman needed no encouragement:
I'm telling you I feel there's a tremendous amount of sexism still out there. And this is not a society that deals with sexism. You know, racism, we now recognize and we all stand up. Anti-Semitism, the same thing. Good for us. That's wonderful...But the sexism that we saw in some of the media really troubled me. And we didn't have party leaders standing up. You know, If you're the woman and you stand up and say, 'Wait a minute I believe that's sexist.'...Then everybody says, 'oh, there they go. They're whining, they can't take it.' And I really think we have a lot of ground to cover on sexism.
Imagine a conservative commentator suggesting Hillary would rather spend time up-close-and-personal in the company of bare-chested warriors than with Bill. Cries of sexism and intrusion on privacy could be expected to echo through the media.
But don't expect the MSM to blink over Mika Brzezinski having suggested the same regarding Laura and George W.
With Joe Scarborough off today, Mika again was in the Morning Joe host chair. One of Willie Geist's light-hearted "News You Can't Use" items focused on Laura Bush's surprise trip to Afghanistan, and the display of the traditional Maori haka dance that New Zealand troops there performed for her.
Not to be unkind, but how can one purport to conduct a serious post mortem of Hillary Clinton's failed candidacy without mentioning what would seem an obvious—and very important—factor: her personality that to many American was less-than-appealing, in a contest pitting her against the unusually charming Barack Obama?
Yet David Gregory ignored the personality factor entirely in his "post mortem, Powerpoint edition" on this evening's Race for the White House. Instead, he identified—and invited his panel to comment on—these five factors:
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez highlighted Barack Obama’s "fist bump" with his wife Michelle during his victory speech on Tuesday night: "A simple fist bump between Barack Obama and his wife Michelle the night that he secured the Democratic nomination is generating a lot of buzz." [audio available here]
Correspondent Priya David then reported: "It was a historic night for Barack and Michelle Obama, there was the hug, the kiss, and then this. You can call it a 'fist bump,' a 'fist pound,' a 'knuckle buckle,' a 'dep'..." However, David also acknowledged: "...but whichever phrase you use, some are using it to call Obama out" and quoted one woman who though it was Obama: "Trying to be a little too cool."
Then David moved on: "Others say it's a symbol of love." She quoted CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield, among others, who said: "To me it was a kind of little light moment, maybe a moment of kind of intimacy. It certainly didn't reach the level of Al and Tipper Gore's record breaking kiss at the 2000 convention. And it is what it is. And you know, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a fist bump is just a fist bump." David then added: "It's not the first time Obama bumped with the younger generation. While bowling in Pennsylvania, this is how he congratulated an 8-year-old boy."
BET founder Bob Johnson, despite his consistent support of Hillary Clinton, placed an unequivocal importance on Barack Obama’s election as President during a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning." "I believe that if Senator Obama leads this country the way he ran the primary, it will become a historic event for African-Americans, probably greater than the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed in 1863."
This statement, which he made during an interview at the top of the 7 am hour of the CNN program, was a drastic change of tune for the media mogul. Earlier this year, Johnson hinted at Barack Obama’s drug use during a Clinton campaign rally. "Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues -- when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book." CNN contributor (and thinly-veiled Obama supporter) Roland Martin blasted both Johnson and Hillary Clinton for the remarks on "American Morning" itself at the time.
In a movie role miscasting that would be akin to picking Michael Moore to portray George W. Bush, a new flick that is starting production soon will feature an unlikely actor as the president of the United States of America. Leftist activist, and virulent anti-American Danny Glover has been tapped to star as a U.S. president that will be confronted with a "global cataclysm" in the film "2012."
There's a "cataclysm" alright. That such a U.S. hater would be picked to star as the occupant of the White House is as big a disaster as can be imagined. It is just amazing how Hollywood likes to stick their fingers in the eyes of the American public. Of all the actors in LaLaLand that they could pick to take the role of POTUS, they have to pick Glover, one of the worst anti-Americans in the business. And in a business over flowing with folks with anti-American ideas, that is really saying something.
That sleazy yet hallowed HBO television series "Sex and the City" is now in theaters as a feature film, and the cultural elites are having a religious experience. Newsweek previewed the movie by reporting how an estimated 50,000 people, some from far-away lands like Australia and Japan, "make the pilgrimage each year to the shrine," the fictional New York City home of "Sex" protagonist Carrie Bradshaw. The magazine chronicled a tour group standing silently, some weeping.
Am I the only one who thinks that those estimated 50,000 people out there make the Trekkies look sane by comparison? But Newsweek seems to lament how the movie isn’t outrageous enough. The headline is "Girls Gone Mild," and the trailer is all about our protagonist getting married – maybe. Writer Julia Baird was amazed at "how many people speak of it in hyperbolic terms: as a revolution, a phenomenon, a cataclysm, almost an insurgency."
Columnist Tom Eblen of the Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader has proven to the world that he doesn't know what a "right" is. He thinks it is something that you can "compromise" over. He thinks it is something that can be endlessly tinkered with. He seems not to realize that a "right" is something that is supposed to be insoluble, unchangeable, permanent. Worse, he has equated an American right to the horse raising industry as if the business decisions made by a handful of ranchers is somehow comparable to the observance and maintenance of our rights. Ridiculously he says that if we don't compromise this one right, our 2nd Amendment right, it will be taken away. And hypocritically, after using fear to urge us to compromise, he accuses those of us interested in safeguarding the 2nd Amendment of using "fear" tactics.
This latest op ed, "NRA's slippery slope full of holes," was the result of some flack he took for touting the existence of a small gun owner's organization that many NRA members claim is a front group for an anti-gun group. He wrote admiringly about this small group and was assailed by emails and messages informing him that he was giving support to a stealth gun grabbing group and, instead of checking out the group more thoroughly, these emails seemed to set Eblen off. Typical of a self-righteous denizen of the media, instead of finding out if the complaint letters were right and reassessing his original support, Eblen merely lashed out at 2nd Amendment supporters who alerted him to his mistake. (In fact, Eblen doesn't even bother to try to find out more about the small gun group he wrote about before merely blowing off his obligation to be informed about what he writes.)
Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten, in his latest column titled "The rebirth of abortion," voiced his dismay that social conservatives are reviving the issue of abortion in the 2008 presidential campaign. "If there's one issue that epitomizes the culture wars that have so deeply divided American politics over the last eight years, it's abortion. That's why those who benefited most from those wars are desperate to revive abortion's single-issue virulence in this presidential cycle." He continued that "some on the right think they see an opportunity to hammer once more on the abortion wedge."
Rutten also launched an attack one key member of the so-called "hard cultural right:" Robert Novak. At one point, Rutten suggested that if Novak used a phrase like "abortion industry" to describe abortionists and their supporters, it would be legitimate to use a term like "under the sway of neo-fascist clericism" to describe Novak and his pro-life fellow travelers.
I guess out on Lake Blowbegone, patriotism isn't kosher? Keillor just seems, nose in the air, to find all that lowborn patriotism so woefully gauche. At least, one might get that impression by reading the attack penned by Garrison Keillor against the patriotism evinced by the folks who don their red, white and blue, along with their leather jackets and hop on their Hogs to join the long line of motorcycle riders at "Rolling Thunder" on Memorial Day in Washington D.C. This year, Keillor was so put off by the patriotic bikers that he was driven to his keyboard to regale us all with his bad metaphors and surly disposition.
With "The roar of hollow patriotism," Keillor found that he just couldn't stomach the loud patriotism expressed by the Harley riders in D.C. He also seemed to say that if you are a "fat man with a ponytail" you shouldn't be allowed to express that patriotism in a manner you so wish to express it.
CNN classifies Campbell Brown as an "anchor," but that apparently doesn't prevent her from riding to Barack Obama's defense on a high-profile issue. On this evening's Election Center, Brown seconded a guest's assertion that the controversy surrounding Barack Obama's erstwhile refusal to wear a flag pin was "nonsensical" and "ridiculous."
The topic was the matter of Obama's patriotism as a campaign issue. CNN contributor and ardent Obama supporter Roland Martin [he who gushed over Rev. Wright's address to the Detroit NAACP] addressed the flag pin flap [note: remarks taken from transcript.]
ROLAND MARTIN: First of all, John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin. Hillary Clinton doesn't wear a flag pin and there are people who wear flag pins who call themselves patriots who led us into a war based on faulty intelligence. At some point, people need to use their brains. We have somebody who is an American. Who is a sitting United States senator. Who is running for president. How do we sit here and define somebody's patriotism? The reality is, he is an American. And so I have a problem with anybody, Cliff [Cliff May, fellow panelist], me, or anyone else, saying, you know what? I need to see how much a patriot you are and you are. There is no litmus test. A column on CNN.com the other week said make wearing the flag pin the 28th amendment because we sit here and move the ball back and forth. It's a nonsensical issue to say how do you define patriotism. It is ridiculous.
CAMPBELL BROWN: Roland, I—on that issue—on the flag pin, I couldn't agree with you more.
Over the weekend, the London Times gave us a foolish headline for a foolish story. The trumpeting headline read, "A seismic shift in China's relations with West?" This would be momentous news if true of course. But this supposed "seismic shift" was made up of whole cloth, not of any proof of actions by China otherwise. Instead of a story citing a series of decisions given a suitable amount of time to prove that China really has made some sort of shift in relations, it's all built on an ego stroke the Chinese gave western reporters. This "seismic shift" only exists in the uncritical minds of the western press because they had an easier time of covering this story with less of the usual Chinese restrictiveness. So, they now assume, because the Chinese gave the western press a few minutes of unexpected face time, this must suddenly mean there is a "seismic shift" in relations between the oppressive, murderous Chinese government and the west? The assumption is as simple-minded as it is stupid.
I don't often get as downright blatant as this, but sometimes one has to just come right out and say it -- the western media is filled with stupid people. If this story doesn't make you a believer that too many in the media don't have the good sense God gave a common rock, nothing will ever convince you. This story has it all; self-congratulatory arrogance, ignorance of history, foolishness, blindness and the willful appeasement of one of the worst, most oppressive governments in human history.
If NewsBusters were ever to use in its promotional material a photo this unflattering of Hillary Clinton, we'd be accused of the worst kind of sexism, of unfairly attacking a candidate based on her looks rather than her views. Check out the image of Hillary that MSNBC used in its promo of tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews that aired at 5:59 AM EDT today just before Morning Joe came on the air.
Hillary, shot from below to highlight her wattles, lit like something in a horror flick about to emerge from a closet wielding an ax. If there's a less-becoming snap of Hillary in MSM circulation, I haven't seen it.
View video of promo, and Carlson's comments, here.
Ah, Memorial Day in Ithaca, NY, a town that looks upon Berkeley, CA as suspiciously conservative. OK, perhaps not quite, but Ithaca is so liberal than in her 2006 Senate primary [bet you didn't know there even was one], Hillary lost the City of Ithaca to a [very] little-known far-lefty named Jonathan Tasini. So liberal that a certain NewsBuster lost a 1990s mayoral bid to the then incumbent, a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
So how does our hometown newspaper celebrate Memorial Day? What does it choose as its biggest headline on the front page? "Military Faces Growing Need for Therapists: Private pyschiatrists offer free services for returning troops." You get the idea, but here are the opening paragraphs to the AP story [emphasis added]: