"Don't you hate it when you pop a bottle of champagne and it's flat? So, too, with some of these inaugural balls," Washington Post gossip gals Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts alerted their readers in the January 20 edition of "The Reliable Source."
While none of the official PIC balls have been cancelled, the unofficial ones that have been cancelled or are on life support to be the ones geared towards the average Joe Sixpack and to America's military veterans:
If you nabbed a ticket to one of the official balls sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee tonight, you're fine. But some of the other high-profile parties have been canceled or are still scrambling to cut costs and sell last-minute tickets, leaving ballgoers disappointed or out in the cold.
The People's Ball at the Grand Hyatt announced a blue-light special yesterday: Tickets slashed $100 -- to $250! The American Music Ball, hosted by Dionne Warwick, which planned two big-name events at the Marriott Wardman Park, was scrambling to sell enough tickets ($450 for the Legends ball with George Clinton, Chaka Khan and the Temptations; $350 for the Urban ball with Ludacris, Fantasia, and Cedric the Entertainer) for the show to go on -- and it wasn't looking good last night, said sources.
Pssst. Eight hundred rooms in Washington, D.C. proper and a total of 15,000 rooms "in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District" remain unbooked for the Obama apotheosis inaugural. Pass it on.
"Actually, Hotel Space Remains Available," the Washington Post's Paul Schwartzman quietly reported on page B2 of the January 15 edition's "Inauguration Watch." Staffer Paul Schwartzman cited Washington's "official tourism office, Destination DC" as the source of the stat.
Last Friday, I noted how the Post reported that "Inaugural Renters [Are] Begging For Takers." That 29-paragraph story was given the front page treatment on the paper's January 9 Metro section:
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Thalia Assuras examined President Bush’s historical legacy: "On January 20th, 2001, George Walker Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. His presidency and the future, a blank slate...Before the Iraq war. Before Katrina swept ashore. Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Assuras cited two historians in her report, both of whom labeled Bush one of the nation’s worst presidents. She first turned to historian Douglas Brinkley, who declared: "I think it's safe to say that President Bush is going to be seen as the very bottom-rung of American presidents...As a judicial historian looking at what's occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment." The other historian Assuras included in her report was Joseph Ellis, who said of Bush: "I think that George Bush might very well be the worst president in American history...He's unusual. Most two-term presidents have a mixed record...Bush has nothing on the positive side, virtually nothing."
Following these Bush-bashing historical assessments, Assuras exclaimed: "And that's not a minority opinion. In a 2006 Siena College survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll by George Mason University of 109 historians, Mr. Bush fared even worse; 98 percent considered him a failed president. Sixty-one percent judged him, as Ellis does, one of the worst in American history."
When historians look back in wonder at how a long-established publication like the New York Times could have declined from its virtual king-of-the-world status in mid-2002 to its Bush-deranged, 85%-devalued shadow of its former self, they will surely make a few stops at Maureen Dowd's twice-weekly, lost-in-another-world columns (the Dowd picture is from the Times's web site).
Today's offering from Dowd (HT Hot Air Headlines) is intended to be a final figurative kick in the shins at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, something she admits to fantasizing about having done to the Vice President this week when she had opportunities.
But the Dowd diatribe really ends up as a self-portrayal of someone who deeply imbibed the kool-aid her paper dished out over the past seven years and is beyond ever letting go, and serves as a microcosm of what the Old Gray Lady has done to itself in that same timeframe:
Well, it seems that the folks at Vanity Fair realized that they won't have George W. Bush to kick around any more. So they decided to launch the journalistic equivalent of thermonuclear war against him in an attempt to get its shot at a "draft of history."
In a 14 web-page tome (the photo at the top right is at its beginning) that fancies itself an "oral history," the magazine hauls out every criticism, real or imagined, hurled at the president during the past eight years. It reminds everyone that the media's favorite stereotype of conservatives and Republicans is that they're dumb (I guess Ike's orchestration of D-Day was some kind of accident, and George W. Bush's MBA -- he is the first president to hold one -- was some kind of gift from Poppy).
Sadly, the magazine finds a few former administration officials to pile on. One of them likens Bush to Sarah Palin (that's supposed to be an insult). We're left with the long-discredited meme of Dick Cheney as puppet master and Bush as impotent since Katrina (then how did Bush get that Iraq Surge past everyone and make it stick anyway?).
All you really need to know to spare yourself a truly painful read is what is in the tease paragraph after the headline. Brace yourself:
Surely no one would view Rev. Jeremiah Wright as closer to the centerpoint of American politics than Pastor Rick Warren, right? Wrong. Here's Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It seems like Barack Obama, as much as seems to inspire people, including me, has a problem with pastors. I don't know what it is. You get him hooked up with a pastor, whether it's Jeremiah Wright, or it's this guy Rick Warren. One's on the left, one's on the far right. Both are causing him trouble.
So Wright's merely "left," while Warren's "far-right." Do we really need to prove the obvious: that Warren is vastly more mainstream than Wright? It hardly seems worth the effort, but let's consider a few factoids:
On Thursday, CNN aired "Escape from Jonestown," presented by CNN special investigations unit corespondent Soledad O'Brien. This week marks thirty years since the horrific deaths of more than 900 people, roughly a third of them children, at Jonestown. The massacre was orchestrated by "Reverend" Jim Jones. What CNN barely referenced was Jones's connection to several leading Democratic politicians of the time. O'Brien did identify Jones as a believer in socialism and, with a survivor, passingly alluded to his influence in the Democratic Party:
O'BRIEN: In 1975, Jones moved his church headquarters from Redwood Valley down to San Francis, to a larger stage, where he became a political force and a face in photo-ops.
GOSNEY: Roslyn (sic) Carter was campaigning for Jimmy Carter. I believe that was 1976. And there was going to be a rally downtown. Literally, we stuffed the building. We were -- we were the rally.
The Associated Press apparently isn't satisfied going after Sarah Palin full throttle.
The GOP Vice-Presidential nominee's visit to New York City apparently went so well that an ABC pictorial series is called "Sarah Palin Takes News York" -- though the last slide takes a shot at the McCain campaign for setting boundaries on access to Palin during her meetings with foreign leaders. ABC claims that the media threatened to boycott covering her (yeah, right).
Both the New York Times and the AP chose to address Palin's observation that her parents had involvement in the recovery effort in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. In a surprisingly pleasant development, the Times's story covered that angle reasonably well. But the AP's story (as carried at the Times web site), was incomplete, nasty ("rat-killers"), and condescending.
I guess if the press can't find anything substantive to throw up against Sarah Palin, making stuff up will have to do.
A front-page article by the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut crows over what the reporter claims is a gaffe by GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin:
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 -- Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."
The idea that Iraq shared responsibility with al-Qaeda for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself.
At long last, has the Associated Press lost all sense of decency?
The AP's story (saved here for future reference in case the wire service is embarrassed into revising it; you might consider saving it too as Exhibit A on how far over the cliff the dinosaur media has driven itself) by Douglass K. Daniel, with Jennifer Loven contributing (I might have known), gets in at least three cheap, fundamentally untrue, and totally uncalled-for shots at Tony Snow, who died earlier this morning.
I won't sully NB's front page with any of them. They follow the jump:
You would be hard-pressed to find a "better" example of a walking, talking, typing Old Media double standard-bearer than New York Times columnist and International Herald Tribune (IHT) contributor Nicholas Kristof.
..... his legacy is not all bad ..... The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. ..... Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time ..... yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.
Here is Kristof describing an example of what is currently happening in Zimbabwe in the June 29 IHT (bold after headline is mine):
CNN carried KDKA footage showing that Murtha has grudgingly acknowledged the obvious: That the troop surge in Iraq has, in his words, "in the short-term ..... certainly reduced incidents," but that "I'm not sure whether it's because of the Iraqis are just worn out, but certainly the way they're doing it today makes a big difference."
What KDKA decided to keep from TV viewers is arguably at least as important as what the station showed.
In interview footage left on the cutting room floor, Murtha falsely claimed that less than 1/3 of the Iraqi benchmarks have been met, and that the majority of Americans "want us out" of Iraq as fast as possible. But most explosively, the Pennsylvania congressman claimed that a major reason why the troop surge has been successful is that before that time "we broke down doors, we went in and we killed people inadvertently."
During the 11:00 a.m. hour of MSNBC’s News Live, host Tamron Hall discussed possible developments late in a presidential campaign such as an October surprise or a terrorist attack. After Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus claimed that Bush would be remembered for his leadership after 9/11, her Democratic counterpart Keith Boykin tried to insist that Bush was to blame:
You know, I disagree with what Cheri said too about 9/11. 9/11 was a failure for George Bush. He was asleep at the switch on 9/11. He had a memo, he had a memo a month before.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared on the June 24 "Hannity & Colmes" to comment on a trend in Iraq reporting that conservatives have known for a while and the New York Times is only now catching on to: the media love to report negative developments from Iraq, while downplaying or ignoring positive developments such as the succeess of the surge or the exonerations of the Haditha "massacre" Marines.
Here's an excerpt of Bozell from the segment:
BRENT BOZELL, MRC President: There's a terrible adage in journalism: good news is no news, bad news is great news. And that's the coverage that we've seen in Iraq. Countless studies have been done, we've done studies on this, showing that as things got worse and worse, you had more and more coverage. But suddenly the surge came around and as the surge took off and was successful, the coverage went down. You see just the other day where the military announced that violence is down 89 percent, and yet NBC and CBS didn't think that was news. Now, they didn't need to send a reporter to Iraq to report that one, they could have done that from their bureaus.
Remember when the 49ers gold rush happened in Maine? How about when Dan'l Boone explored California? Do you remember when Lee surrendered his Confederate army in Fargo, North Dakota? Well, to those famous places with famous incidents we can add that great Revolutionary War battle of Lexington and Concord... Virginia. At least we can do so in the reckoning of one Jamie Fansworth of the CBS News blog "From the Road" because it seems our friend Farnsworth is a little fuzzy on where some of the most famous battles of the American Revolution were held.
The police estimated that 750,000 people saw Mr. Mandela at one point or another - 50,000 in Queens at Kennedy International Airport and along the route, 100,000 as he passed through Brooklyn, 400,000 along the ticker-tape parade and 200,000 in the ceremony at City Hall. Hundreds of thousands more saw the events broadcast live on local television.
Based on early returns from the Washington Post and the New York Times, we may not see such an estimate regarding the pope, unless some enterprising non-media types come up with one on their own. It also seems that we will have to brace ourselves for other descriptions designed to minimize the impact of his visit.
Now playing defense for Team Obama: Karen Hawkins and Christopher Wills of the Associated Press, as carried in the Washington Post ("Obama Found a Home in His Church") on Thursday.
Call it a Wright-wash -- Hawkins and Wills managed to avoid any mention of the main tenets of "Black Liberation Theology" (details after the jump) that form the foundation of the belief system of the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC). Until recently (though TUCC's Pastoral Staff page at its web site still does not reflect the supposed change), TUCC was headed by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose preaching moved presidential candidate Barack Obama to join the congregation 20 years.
The AP pair also managed to avoid any mention of often inflammatory items in weekly bulletin articles published by the Church.
Nowhere in the story's 1,200-plus words was there any mention of the Church's belief system, which was outlined by McClatchy's Margaret Tavel on March 20:
The February 13th New York Times online contained fifteen "Pictures of the Day". Their #1, lead photograph was what you see to the right, with the following description (emphasis added):
Security officials in Lebanon said Imad Mugniyah, 45, a senior Hezbollah military commander, was killed by a car bomb on Tuesday night in Damascus, Syria. Mr. Mugniyah had been accused in a series of bombings, hijackings and kidnappings during the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American service members. Mr. Mugniyah's father, Fayez, left, and grandfather held each other during a wake in Beirut.
I was offered the privilege on Friday of introducing Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana at CPAC, who gave a nice, staunch speech about conservatism and urged John McCain to "embrace the Right and the Right will embrace you." In my introduction, I noted that Brent Bozell said it used to seem like many Republicans on the Hill were conservative leaders when Reagan was president, since they were carrying out Reagan's work. But now, when Republicans are back in the minority and conservatives are discouraged, there might be five people you can identify as conservative leaders on the Hill. You might debate the other four, but nearly everyone nods their head at the mention of Mike Pence. You can see the Pence video at TownHall.
On one of our issues in Medialand -- the reimposition of a "Fairness Doctrine" to clamp down on conservative talk radio -- Pence has been a stalwart. He received several standing ovations, including these lines on freedom of speech:
Update/Clarification: Coulter's remarks are part of a reception held at CPAC to be hosted by the Young America's Foundation (YAF). Coulter is not speaking as an officially-sanctioned CPAC guest but rather as the guest of honor at a YAF reception.
Conservative bloggers embody the political and patriotic spirit of Ronald Reagan argued Ace, winner of the 2nd Annual CPAC Blogger of the Year Award (read his blog Ace of Spades HQ here), as he accepted the honor earlier this afternoon at the conservative gathering.
Heritage Foundation blogger Robert Bluey introduced Ace, who lamented that while it may take another generation for another Reagan to rise to the presidency, everyday Americans can and should work to hold the political classes to account no matter the political climate.
Ace offered the recent debate over immigration/amnesty as one issue where bloggers were crucial in derailing a legislative compromise worked out behind closed doors on Capitol Hill and being foisted on the American public without the details being fully disclosed to the American people.
I had the honor of attending the Presidential Banquet last evening at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference. Speakers included Bob Novak and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, as well as former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson (who good naturedly needled Novak in a speech introducing and praising his career in journalism).
Blackburn spoke eloquently about having the "best district" in America and how faith, family, and a can-do volunteer spirit characterize her constituency. "Not once," Blackburn emphasized, did anyone she spoke to on Wednesday in the aftermath of devastating tornados, "ask where's FEMA?"
Blackburn, NewsBusters fans may recall was the target last September of an inaccurate and unfair ambush at the hands of MSNBC's David Shuster. For an archive of NewsBusters posts on that, check here.
See also Mark Finkelstein's Sept. 26 post complete with MSNBC's David Shuster apology for ambushing Blackburn:
ABC correspondent Nick Watt conducted a softball interview with the son of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden on Tuesday's "Good Morning America" and he credulously repeated Omar bin Laden's goals of being an "ambassador for peace." Host Diane Sawyer called the idea a "very curious proposal," while Watt announced that the younger bin Laden "wants to meet with President George W. Bush" and labeled the idea "astounding."
Watt expressed no skepticism over the proposed meeting. This, despite the fact that bin Laden lauded his father, responsible for countless thousands of deaths, as a "very kind man" and stated that he would not turn his dad over to American authorities, were he to know the location. Apparently, it didn't occur to Watt that this might not be the kind of person who would be best qualified to be an ambassador for peace or someone that President Bush would meet with. However, the GMA correspondent did find time to notice bin Laden's "glamorous, English wife."
Two years ago, Old Media, particularly the New York Times, and quite a few chronic sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome (but I repeat myself), attempted to hijack the Sago Mine tragedy in West Virginia before the wakes for the 12 dead miners were even held. They wanted to pin the catastrophe, totally without foundation, on the idea that the administration had created the conditions for the tragedy by starving the budget of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and by putting industry cronies who were deliberately lax in safety enforcement in charge.
The Times even tried to tie the tragedy to Hurricane Katrina, which had occurred a few months earlier.
The claims of negligence and pervasive deteriorating safety conditions were definitively debunked at these posts:
In short, yours truly and Bevan found that coal-mine deaths and injuries had been declining significantly during the previous four years; inspection hours had shown no indications of a safety letup; and the budget for MHSA had not been slashed.
So where is coal-mine safety, and mine safety in general, two years later?
On a lazy December 30th Sunday afternoon, I flipped on the television, on which the previous evening I had left the History Channel (they were then doing a military analysis of the Bible, which was at once interesting and uninfuriating).
This time the tubes warmed to display a replay of Clear and Present Danger, the film based upon the Tom Clancy novel. Co-hosting the rerun were the Channel's in-house liberal historian, Steve Gillon, and guest liberal political commentator Neal Gabler (though of course neither was identified in any sort of ideological way).
The World Entertainment News Network seems to have an unusual notion as to what transpired during World War II. In a story about actor Will Smith's supposed positive remarks about Adolf Hitler, WENN offers the following:
Hitler's totalitarian leadership as Fuhrer during 1934 until his eventual suicide in 1945 resulted in the persecution of an estimated six million Jews in the Holocaust, and his invasion of Poland in 1939 led to the start of the Second World War.
Actually Hitler's totalitarian leadership as Fuhrer resulted in the murder of an estimated six million Jews in the Holocaust. But why get technical about accurate terminology, eh? Unbelievable.
Meanwhile, in case you're wondering about Smith's comments, Eugene Volokh says "give him a break":
The surveyor will see you now Journalist and Pollster (Either Or)
As an increasing number of Americans exhibit knowledge of and confidence in the success of the surge in Iraq, pollsters seeking a gloomier picture have turned to their single most reliable focus group for bad news. They have in fact skipped the middle men and women and gone to its very font: the media.
Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a (Pew Research Center) poll released on Wednesday said.
One wonders if this is the same 90% of correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice; certainly a great deal of overlap exists between the two polling samples.
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
Wealthy Americans are becoming increasingly interested in donating to global causes. Since 1997, the rate of global giving has increased steadily at an average of 12.5 percent each year. According to a recent Financial Times story, JPMorgan Private Bank has “noted a rise of about 20 percent over the last year in client interest in overseas donations, with high-net-worth individuals looking to support education, health and economic expansion projects in developing countries.”
And they aren’t alone. Financial planners and international banks have seen similar upswings. It all begs the question—why?
What does this increased giving tells us about Americans?