A Saturday New York Times editorial, “A Home for the Drawing Center,” celebrates the fact that a left-wing museum, originally to be located at Ground Zero, has found a new home in Manhattan, and accuses opponents of the project of opposing free speech.
“The Drawing Center, of course, was once part of other plans to rebuild Lower Manhattan. It was going to inhabit a planned cultural center at ground zero, until, in a memorable spasm of apparently unscripted patriotism, Gov. George Pataki made it impossible for the center to remain. If nothing else, the battle over culture at ground zero made it perfectly clear that Governor Pataki favors free speech, but only if it takes place in another part of town.”
In a new column just posted at MSNBC.com, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh offered some truly defamatory comments concerning America’s current president. In fact, much of this article could have been written by Harry Belafonte.
“In fact, [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad, who has piled idiocy upon idiocy in a series of offensive remarks that have alarmed the world, has achieved a truly amazing feat. He has made George W. Bush look like a statesman.”
NBC’s Tim Russert invited the New York Times reporter who broke the NSA eavesdropping story three weeks ago onto “Meet the Press” this morning. Despite the obvious controversial nature of the guest and the subject matter, Russert asked no truly compelling or interrogative questions of James Risen, and, as a result, produced an interview that not only didn’t challenge Risen about the fortuitous timing of the article’s release, but also offered the viewer no new information concerning this matter.
For instance, Russert chose to ask Risen:
MR. RUSSERT: Amid much speculation as to why the The New York Times held this story, you had written it, you had finished it, you knew it was—what reflected what your reporting had shown. It may have played a role in the election of 2004 if it had been published in October. Why was it held?
However, here’s a list of potentially more provocative and important questions that Russert chose not to ask his controversial guest:
It’s been more than two weeks since the New York Times broke the National Security Agency eavesdropping story, and despite a media barrage on this subject, it appears the nation doesn’t feel the Bush administration is doing anything wrong. A survey released by Rasmussen Reports last week identified:
“Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree.”
Despite the media’s efforts to paint a picture that this program is something newly hatched by the current administration, Americans aren’t buying it:
The Zogby and Rasmussen polling organizations released some interesting survey results before Christmas that the mainstream media will certainly not report to their loyal customers. Taken in their totality, these polls show:
President Bush’s job favorability numbers are back to the levels they were at well before hurricane season began
The revelations of NSA eavesdropping are not having a negative impact on the president
Americans are feeling better about the War on Terror than they have since more than a year ago
Americans are feeling better about things in Iraq than they have all year
First, Rasmussen released presidential job favorability numbers on Saturday:
It seems like a common pattern lately. A mainstream media outlet publishes a bombshell story, and within days, the whole thing unravels quicker than a cheap sweater swarmed by kittens. Such is beginning to look like the case for The New York Times’ eavesdropping controversy, which is showing a lot of wear and tear for its age.
Wednesday wasn’t a very good day for the ongoing health of this story, or for members of the media hoping that the recent revelations concerning National Security Agency espionage tactics could lead to impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
The day started with a former member of the Clinton White House voicing strong words of support for the Bush administration’s behavior. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed entitled “President Had Legal Authority to OK Taps,” former associate attorney general John Schmidt refuted media protestations concerning the illegality of the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens who are in contact with known members of al Qaeda without a court order allowing it to do so:
The New York Times reporter whose National Security Agency eavesdropping article last Friday started a national debate about this issue didn’t appear as concerned with such espionage tactics when Bill Clinton was in the White House.
As reported by NewsBusters on Monday, an intricate international communications espionage network, codenamed Echelon, has been in existence for many years. Yet, a LexisNexis search of the word “Echelon” and the name “James Risen” produced only one result. The article, entitled “The Nation: Don’t Read This; If You Do, They May Have to Kill You” appeared in the Times on December 5, 1999. By contrast to last Friday’s article condemning NSA eavesdropping, this 1999 one by Risen almost praised it:
There’s an old saying: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When it comes to mainstream media reporting, nothing could be further from the truth.
No finer example of a media double standard has been recently evident than in the furor that has evolved over revelations of National Security Agency eavesdropping. To be more precise, the press response to The New York Times report on this subject last Friday is in stark contrast to how they reacted in the ’90s when the Clinton administration was found to be engaging in extraordinarily similar activities.
A perfect example surfaced in a Washington Postarticle written yesterday by Charles Lane. In it, Lane referred to changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under former President Clinton after the Aldrich Ames affair. For those unfamiliar, Ames was a CIA agent that was convicted in 1994 of working for the former Soviet Union:
CBS’ Thalia Assuras did a piece for “The Early Show” this morning concerning the domestic spying controversy (video link to follow). In it, she exclusively presented the views of Democrat members of Congress as well as a “legal scholar” who believes this program is illegal. Yet, she chose to not question any Republicans concerning this issue, or bring on a constitutional attorney with an opposing view. As a result, she presented a segment wherein Democrats and detractors of this program were seen countering each videotaped position the president made during his press conference yesterday. This gave the appearance that the president is on an island with nobody in Congress or in the legal community willing to defend this newly revealed covert program.
The folks over at The New York Times must be laughing their heads off. With the President’s poll numbers on the rise, a fabulous election result in Iraq, and the potential extension of a key antiterrorism bill that the administration holds dear, the Times stole Christmas from the White House last week with the release of one carefully-timed article.
After some pretty horrible months in September and October, President Bush has been fighting his way back up from a virtual poll abyss. The economy—regardless of left-wing protestations to the contrary—has been humming. Energy prices—regardless of, well, you get the point—have been plummeting. And, the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the past two elections in Iraq, were giving signs that they would participate in Thursday’s elections in very large, enthusiastic numbers.
All the President needed to make this holiday season a truly joyous one was a relatively safe, incident-free day at the Iraqi polls Thursday, and the Patriot Act to be extended before Congress adjourned for the year on Friday.
The Grinch…err., I mean, the Times had something else in mind.
As NewsBusters’ Clay Waters reported, a National Security Agency surveillance program, codenamed “Echelon,” – apparently similar to what the NSA is doing today to counter terrorist activities that has garnered tremendous media outrage in the past four days – existed some years ago. In fact, according to a February 27, 2000 Associated Press article, the ACLU had been expressing its concern regarding this program for quite some time:
“Nevertheless, the American Civil Liberties Union has been requesting congressional hearings on Echelon for nearly a year. In a letter sent to the House Government Reform Committee in April 1999, the ACLU said: ''It is important that Congress investigate to determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported.''
This AP article also referenced a letter that the NSA had sent to Congress concerning the upcoming “60 Minutes” story:
Unlike the other major broadcast network Sunday talk shows (as reported by NewsBusters), NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” led with Thursday’s historic elections in Iraq, while mentioning the surveillance scandal raised in a New York Times article Friday as almost an afterthought. Then, after the break, Matthews began on another topic that is likely much more of a concern to Americans than the legality of wiretaps on terrorists, illegal immigration.
After introducing his guests – Joe Klein of TIME, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, David Brooks of The New York Times, and syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker – Matthews went right into Thursday’s Iraqi elections. With the notable exception of Klein, the panel seemed in agreement that this was an historic event on Thursday, and that democracy in Iraq now seems possible. Mitchell stated, “I think there is a better chance than we have ever before seen of Iraq actually creating a government of these people working together, and of this country not blowing apart.” Matthews agreed, “I think it's the most amazing week in this whole war this week.”
An extraordinary election occurred in Iraq on Thursday. However, all three major network Sunday talk shows – ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and CBS’ “Face the Nation” – all began their programs this morning with a discussion about revelations released on Friday by The New York Times that the White House has been authorizing surveillance of potential terrorists on American soil without getting court orders.
CBS’ Bob Schieffer, after introducing his guests Senators Joe Biden (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), began the segment (from closed captioning):
“Gentlemen, we have to start this morning with this story. It is against the law, of course, to eavesdrop or wire tap U.S. citizens in this country without a court order from a federal judge. But the "New York Times" says that is exactly what the president is authorized the government to do since 9/11. The secretary of state said this morning that the president has statutory and constitutional authorization to do what he did. So I'll start with Senator Graham. Does he have that authority, senator?”
As reported by the MRC’s Brent Baker, the media are in full dudgeon over new revelations of a secret eavesdropping, antiterrorism strategy by the White House. However, there are some key elements of this story that the president just discussed in his weekly radio address as reported by the Associated Press that The New York Times and others either neglected to share with the public, or downplayed in their reports:
“Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used ‘consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution.’ He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have ‘a clear link’ to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.”
In a post-9/11 world, this does seem to be a reasonable strategy to avert further terrorist attacks. Wouldn’t most Americans wish that the 9/11 hijackers all had their “international communications” intercepted regardless of the existence of a court order to do so?
Paul Farhi wrote an article for today’s Washington Post that confirmed yesterday’s Drudge Report exclusive sited by NewsBusters that the New York Times failed to disclose a major story it broke surrounding U.S. spying in America was part of a soon to be released book by one of its columnists, James Risen. In addition, Farhi indicated that the timing of the release of this report might indeed have been designed to correspond with a Congressional vote to renew the Patriot Act. The antiterrorism bill was blocked last evening in the Senate with members claiming revelations in the Times article may have been the death knell.
According to the Post:
“The [Times] offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, ‘State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,’ written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.”
And what about the timing surrounding the renewal of the Patriot Act?
This morning’s New York Times article, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” has certainly created a huge buzz in the media that has taken some focus away from the good news concerning yesterday’s highly successful elections in Iraq: “Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”
The Drudge Report, in an exclusive, just announced that this story by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau is just “one of many ‘explosive newsbreaking’ stories that can be found -- in [Risen’s] upcoming book -- which he turned in 3 months ago!” Yet, “The [Times] failed to reveal the urgent story was tied to a book release and sale.”
Arianna Huffington went on quite a rant at her blog today over the president’s speech in Philadelphia. In fact, she pulled no punches. Early on, she stated that “the president’s fanaticism is a scary prospect for the country.” But, that was just the beginning:
“The latest issues of both Time and Newsweek paint a portrait of an isolated president detached from the reality of all that is going on around him. Nothing seems to be penetrating -- not the rising death toll, not his depressed poll numbers, not the continuing revelations about the deceptions his administration used to lead us to war. Not even the growing skepticism about the war being expressed within his own party.”
The latest issue of Newsweek featured an almost 4,000 word article – written by Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe, with assistance from Holly Bailey, Daniel Klaidman, Eleanor Clift, Michael Hirsh and John Barry – that painted a pretty bleak picture of President Bush as possibly being “the most isolated president in modern history.” The authors referred to Bush as being in a “bubble” that blocks out thoughts, policy suggestions, and ideas that he is either unwilling or intellectually incapable of absorbing. Some of the lowlights:
“Yet his inattention to Murtha, a coal-country Pennsylvanian and rock-solid patriot, suggests a level of indifference, if not denial, that is dangerous for a president who seeks to transform the world.”
“What Bush actually hears and takes in, however, is not clear. And whether his advisers are quite as frank as they claim to be with the president is also questionable.”
Vaughn Ververs of the CBS News blog “Public Eye” critiqued a NewsBusters post today concerning a report made by the “CBS Evening News” last night about the former 9/11 commission’s newly released report card on the government’s response to homeland security issues. Ververs apparently asked correspondent Robert Orr and producer Ward Sloane for their opinions on the NewsBusters analysis: “The ‘news’ in the former 9/11 Commission's briefing was not that the U.S. is doing a very few things right, but rather that four years after the attacks, the U.S. government is largely failing in its very expensive $100 billion attempt to prevent another one.”
Although this might indeed be what the mainstream media perceived as the “news” in this briefing, the reality is that there were a total of 41 categories that the former commission graded the government on, and this CBS News report only shared some of the the “D’s” and the “F’s,” while totally ignoring all of the “C’s,” “B’s,” and “A’s” that the government received. Aren’t these grades “news” as well? Shouldn’t the public be informed as to what the government is doing properly to protect them from terrorist attacks, or are only the failures “news?”
On Friday, NewsBusters reported the results of a new Rasmussen poll indicating that the public’s view of the War on Terrorism has dramatically improved in the past couple of months, but none of the mainstream media were opting to share this information with the citizenry. Well, another polling agency has just done a survey confirming this increase in American optimism concerning this subject. Yet, in this case, the very media outlet that paid for the survey is the one not including the results in its own published report.
On Sunday, TIME magazine posted an article at its website concerning a recent poll done for it by Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas (SRBI). This survey covered the typical analysis found in most polls these days including the president's job approval rating, how the public feels things are going in Iraq, etc. Yet, TIME curiously chose not to share with its readers an entire section from this SRBI survey concerning how the public feels the War on Terrorism is going.
The folks at PollingReport.com have the results that TIME didn’t share with its readers. For instance, 49 percent of those surveyed felt that the president is doing a good job handling the War on Terrorism. This is up from 46 percent in their poll taken after Katrina hit.
The three broadcast networks all did segments this evening on the former 9/11 commission’s report card released today. Though all three focused on the negatives, only the "CBS Evening News” ignored the good grades given by the commission, while also failing to mention that a key problem highlighted in this report is already being addressed by legislation pending in Congress (video link to follow).
Bob Orr quickly gave a rundown of the “F’s” and the “D’s” given by former commission members for the government achieving a set of priorities they deemed necessary to avert another terrorist attack. However, as can be seen in the full report card, Orr chose not to mention any of the 12 “B’s” given by the commission, or the “A-” obtained for “Terrorist Financing.” Orr also reported:
As has been reported by NewsBusters before, the mainstream media largely ignore the polling work of Scott Rasmussen. Certainly, it is quite unlikely they will report polling data that he just released concerning how Americans feel the War on Terror is going:
“December 2, 2005--Confidence in the War on Terror is up sharply compared to a month ago. Forty-eight percent (48%) Americans now believe the U.S. and its Allies are winning. That's up nine points from 39% a month ago and represents the highest level of confidence measured in 2005.
“Just 28% now believe the terrorists are winning, down six points from 34% a month ago. The survey was conducted on Wednesday and Thursday night following the President's speech outlining his strategy in Iraq.”
As is typical, these sentiments are much different depending on party affiliation:
Fox News gives its audience what it wants, too. That's why, in 2003, a survey from the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 67 percent of its loyal viewers believed the fallacy that Saddam Hussein was connected to al-Qaida, whereas only 40 percent of those who relied on print media were confused on that point. Welcome to the "informed" electorate of a newspaper-free world. It's already starting to give us the government we deserve.
(Notice that people who watch Fox are fallacious believers, while the people who consume her product and don't agree with her are simply "confused".)
Saddam connected to al-Qaida? That's a weird wild thought. Where on Earth would Fox News and this "informed electorate" get that "fallacious" idea? Let's see, maybe...
State of the Union Address January 28, 2003: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody, reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaida."
BBC Profile: "It is during this period that Zarqawi is thought to have renewed his acquaintance with al-Qaeda. He is believed to have fled to Iraq in 2001 after a US missile strike on his Afghan base, though the report that he lost a leg in the attack has not been verified. US officials argue that it was at al-Qaeda's behest that he moved to Iraq and established links with Ansar al-Islam - a group of Kurdish Islamists from the north of the country. He is thought to have remained with them for a while - feeling at home in mountainous northern Iraq."
Tired of public opinion polls? Well, an article in today’s New York Times might be an indication that Americans have seen enough polls in the past three months, and that a new strategy is necessary to inform them how to think. How does it work? Well, instead of releasing data that supposedly represents a statistical picture of the nation’s views on a subject, make the data significantly more real by putting names and faces to the numbers.
The article in question, entitled “Even Supporters Doubt President as Issues Pile Up,” effectively introduced this strategy in its first four paragraphs:
The Associated Press and United Press International are reporting that another Democratic hawk, Norm Dicks (D-Washington), has changed his position on the Iraq war. They are both quoting from and referencing a Seattle Times article first published about 16 hours ago entitled “Defense hawk Dicks says he now sees war as a mistake.” Yet, they are conveniently ignoring previous statements made by Dicks concerning the war that were also reported by the Seattle Times.
Around twelve hours ago, NewsMax broke a story about Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) having urged former President Clinton to remove U.S. troops from Somalia in 1993:
“Clinton took the advice and ordered the withdrawal - a decision that Osama bin Laden would later credit with emboldening his terrorist fighters and encouraging him to mount further attacks against the U.S.”
At this point, a Google news search identified only a handful of media sources – including Rush Limbaugh, The American Thinker, and Village Soup – as having picked up this story. Yet, there are a number of articles from September 1993 that appear to confirm the NewsMax story, so many so that one has to wonder if and when any mainstream press outlets are going to report this.
For instance, Rowan Scarborough with the Washington Times at that point reported on September 6, 1993:
There’s been a lot of suggestion by the media lately -- especially since the elections last Tuesday -- that the Republican Party is in dire trouble, and could lose control of the House and the Senate in 2006. For those interested in a side of this debate that the media are ignoring, you should watch today’s “Meet the Press,” in particular the second-half with DNC chairman Howard Dean.
Some of the pertinent exchanges of note:
DR. DEAN: I think Democrats always have to stand up and tell the truth and that's what we're doing. The truth is that the president misled America when he sent us to war. They did--he even didn't tell the truth in the speech he gave. First of all, think there were a lot of veterans were kind of upset that the president chose their day to make a partisan speech.
Last evening, NBC’s “Nightly News” began its program with a report from the Pentagon concerning new rules governing the torture of prisoners. In a two minute forty-four second piece, a total of 15 seconds was devoted to demands by Republican leaders of Congress for an investigation into who leaked information about overseas CIA detention centers to the Washington Post.
Brian Williams began the segment by bringing up Abu Ghraib, and passed it off to Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon, who, of course, began with stories of Abu Ghraib as pictures of abuse there rolled across the screen. Miklaszewski finished the segment (video link to follow):
Former President Jimmy Carter has a new book and is making the morning show rounds. He appeared on American Morning with Soledad O'Brien via satellite from Washington, DC, and in an excerpt of a taped interview with Rene Syler aired in the 7:00 a.m. half-hour of CBS's The Early Show. Syler's full interview will air at a later date, but if today's excerpt is any indication, it won't be a tough interview with balanced questions.
Syler lets Carter make unsubstantiated claims without asking him for evidence, particularly Carter's assertion that the President always intended to start a war with Iraq, well before 9/11, and his hinting that there is likely a sinister explanation for faulty intelligence before the Iraq war. Syler didn't ask Carter about his fellow Democrats, including former President Clinton, who had similar intelligence from the CIA and made equally alarming claims about the threat from Hussein with weapons of mass destruction in years past.