To judge by the outraged defense of Democrats and the MSM that Matt Lauer and Tim Russert advanced on this morning's Today show, the Bush administration's arguments on fighting the war on terror are hitting home.
NBC reporter Kelly O'Donnell set the tone with this little shot at the president:
"While the president has cautioned not to politicize what he is talking about, he was greeted here in Salt Lake by 2,000 invited members of the public who carried signs, there was music playing - a campaign-style event - and we were told this was intended to counter some of the war demonstrations led by people like Cindy Sheehan."
Preliminaries over, it was on to the main event, the Lauer/Russert tag team.
Over at the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org Web site, I take a look at how CNN's Ali Velshi delivered a biased broadside against the insurance industry on today's "American Morning."
In between stories of frustrated insurance claimants, Velshi shared that “the insurance industry says that some in the media and CNN in particular haven’t given them a fair shake.” In response, Velshi added that he “invited the CEO of State Farm” and the president and CEO of Allstate were “unable to accommodate our request for an interview either.”
Yet elsewhere in his story, Velshi admitted that one insurance company was unable to talk to Velshi about individual cases, exactly the topic of Velshi’s story: individual cases of frustrated insurance claimants.
Near the end of Tuesday's "World News with Charles Gibson," ABC's "A Closer Look" segment explored racial tensions in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Reporter Steve Osunsami recycled wild black conspiracy theories about how the levees were blown up in a racist plot, complete with Spike Lee soundbites and documentary footage. Whites were said to be delighted that Katrina would make the city much whiter. Lance Hill, the Tulane University professor ABC selected to describe white opinion, claims the government ordered no food and water be distributed to Katrina victims, and spurred local Holocaust-survivor outrage by comparing the government's Katrina response to Hitler's Holocaust. ABC didn't explain any of that.
This past Sunday on "60 Minutes," CBS correspondent Byron Pitts interviewed New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, about New Orleans’ recovery since hurricane Katrina. Pitts’ hit Nagin with statements full of hyperbole, claiming there are "few visible signs of recovery" in New Orleans, and that there is "tons of debris still scattered about," yet, Pitts offered little in the way of facts and figures to back up his claims. However, a anyone viewing Tuesday’s "NewsHour" on PBS would have heard hard facts that contradict Pitts’ gloomy assertions. For example, Pitts claimed:
"Today, in one of the few visible signs of recovery, the 220 miles of levees damaged by the storm have been repaired by the Army Corps of Engineers."
On ABC's World News Tuesday night, a story on President Bush's day in New Orleans aggressively underlined the liberal theme that the response to Hurricane Katrina is a scandalous, indelible black mark on Bush's legacy. Reporter Martha Raddatz told viewers "the slow response was indeed a political disaster for the President, from which he is still trying to recover." Raddatz ended the story with an anecdote about a waitress joking to Bush that he wasn't going to turn his back on her, and Bush reportedly replied: "No, ma'am, not again."
Anchorman Charles Gibson began the segment, the second story after a general recounting of how New Orleanians commemorated the one-year anniversary, with a brief mention of responsibility at all levels of government. But as usual, ABC had no time for the Democratic mayor or governor and their failures, even as Raddatz highlighted the Democratic senator slamming the federal response. Gibson theorized:
One of Rush Limbaugh’s many pet peeves with the "drive-by" media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina has been reporters nagging that the Bush administration wasn’t doling out money fast enough only to turn around and then complain that much of money has been wasted in various scams. A prime example of this was NBC’s Norah O’Donnell on last night’s Hardball. O’Donnell, determined to deny the administration any successes, asked the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson:
"A year later and less than half of New Orleans residents have moved back. There have been, according to government watchdog groups, at least $2 billion in fraud and waste, scams, et cetera. Can Bush claim that there's any success in what's happened in the Gulf Coast in the past year?"
Unlike Tuesday’s "Today Show," where Matt Lauer advanced a conspiracy theory that the levees were blown up intentionally, on today’s "Early Show" on CBS, co-host Harry Smith pounded Ray Nagin with the notion that nobody has done enough to help the people of New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina. Smith challenged Nagin’s leadership abilities:
‘...And, quite frankly Mr. Mayor, a lot of folks in this town have lost faith in you. Can you lead this city to the future?"
Smith complained at the slow pace of cleaning up the city and rebuilding and suggested the city is unlivable:
"You know, as we walk around this city, we're in a neighborhood where there is one house that's been restored next to five houses that haven't been restored. There is still debris around. There have been so many tens of thousands of people displaced. They're making a new life in Atlanta or Houston or even Salt Lake City. What argument would you give to them to come back to a place like this?"
On this morning's Today, NBC's Matt Lauer asked New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to address the conspiracy theory that the levees were intentionally blown up to protect white neighborhoods at the expense of African-Americans. Reciting a question Brian Williams posed in his special, Lauer asked Nagin: "And finally the elephant in the room, if you will, Mr. Nagin. There are still people in the black community, many people, and Brian Williams touched on this in a special last night on NBC, who believe that the day after Katrina struck New Orleans the levees were breached intentionally. That they were blown, if you will, to flood black and poor neighborhoods to spare middle-class white neighborhoods. It would seem very difficult for New Orleans to move forward until that's directly addressed. What do you say about it?"
Is it news to anyone that Michael Brown thinks he got a bum rap on Katrina? As shopworn as was his concatenation of complaint this morning, Matt Lauer treated it with the enthusiasm of a Live at Five reporter on the scene of a fresh accident out on county route 11.
You knew this was coming: Lauer got things off to a Bush-bashing start with the famous "you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie" clip of the president congratulating Brown for his work at the beginning of the relief effort.
Matt moved things along with a series of 'helpful' questions/comments:
Lauer: "You warned the president and no help arrived?"
Brown says he did.
Lauer: "The stupid talking points [defending the relief efforts] should be thrown out the window when people are dying."
Lauer: "Do you think that you have been handed all of the blame for this situation? Should the president share the blame?"
Looking back at Katrina a year later, NBC's Brian Williams decided to raise the issue of race and to showcase as his sole expert, on both Monday's NBC Nightly News and a prime time special, left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Williams, from New Orleans, set up his Nightly News segment by arguing the disaster “destroyed” a lot and “it exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country.” Dyson, a regular on Bill Maher's HBO show and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, declared: "The people in New Orleans were left behind long before the vicious winds and violent waters of Hurricane Katrina came along to wash them away."
Williams asked: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?" Dyson retorted: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians, number one. Number two, inadvertently, let's be honest, she was right at a certain level...” Williams followed up: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?" (Transcript follows)
There was more bad news for President Bush during the 4pm EDT hour of Monday's "The Situation Room." In two separate reports from Bill Schneider and Dana Bash, the President was labeled "clueless" on his handling of Hurricane Katrina and Democratic talking points on the subject were repeated yet again.
Schneider’s piece focused on the toll Hurricane Katrina took on President Bush’s poll numbers. CNN’s senior political analyst argued that the President took two hits from Katrina:
Bill Schneider: "President Bush’s self-declared image as a compassionate conservative also took a hit. The public saw a remote, even clueless, President after Katrina struck."
Harry Smith, "Early Show" co-host, reported live from New Orleans today on the state of the city one year after Hurricane Katrina. Smith essentially had one type of question: Exactly how horrible is the situation today? The CBS journalist talked with Oliver Thomas, President of the New Orleans City Council. He lectured Mr. Thomas, telling him, "Folks feel abandoned. They feel forgotten. They feel desperate." This, despite the fact that more then $44 billion has been spent on rebuilding the Gulf Coast, with a total of $110 billion designated for the project.
Smith began the interview, which aired at 7:10AM EDT on August 28, by asking, "...Could the levees withstand Ernesto if Ernesto turned and came up this way?" Mr. Thomas told him that, while the situation isn’t perfect, the levees are much stronger and more reinforced then a year ago. Apparently this wasn’t the proper answer, because Smith then rephrased remarkably similar questions:
Smith: "If Ernesto came here two days from now, would the city be evacuated? Would we have the same horror story from a year ago?"
Again, the city councilman replied in the affirmative. Of course the city would be evacuated. The "Early Show" co-host interrupted quickly interrupted him with a gloomy scenario:
Over the weekend on NBC’s syndicated "The Chris Matthews Show," Matthews and his media panel predicted the House would fall to the Democrats, prompting Matthews to wonder what sort of "scare tactic" Republicans would employ in the upcoming midterms. Matthews asked Time’s Michael Duffy if the Republicans were "gonna bring in the ethnic factor?"
Then later in the program Matthews honored the media’s Katrina coverage by highlighting this exaggerated report from an NBC cameraman: "Dead people around the walls of the Convention Center laying in the middle of the street."
Matthews and the panel began the show discussing the inevitability of the Democrats retaking Congress and what Republicans would stoop to, to prevent the takeover which led to this exchange between Matthews and Duffy:
It seems everyone's going to be getting in on the Katrina-exposed-racism extravaganza this week. Looking through Thursday night's BBC World rebroadcast that's shown locally here on PBS station WETA, MRC's Michelle Humphrey found something weird. As reporter Jim Fish narrated a story on racial cohesion in Britain and France, he then took a jolting turn to a one-sentence condemnation of America:
"And in the most renowned melting pot society of all, the United States, Hurricane Katrina exposed the grim reality that far too many black people remain at the bottom of the pile, too often ignored and cut off from the American Dream."
We all knew that the one-year Katrina anniversary was going to be a festival of MSM Bush-bashing. And while Good Morning America certainly fulfilled that expectation this morning, who could have guessed that they would have thrown in a two-fer - the beginnings of the beatification of Bill Clinton?
Check out the graphic. Move over, Jimmy Carter: ABC has proclaimed Bill Clinton the new Philanthropist-in-Chief! Interviewed by Robin Roberts, Clinton allowed as to how if he had been in charge during Katrina "I might have done something more just because I feel so close to the area." Darn that 22nd Amendment!
Earlier on, Charlie Gibson ensured that America wouldn't forget what was portrayed as a low point for Pres. Bush during Katrina. As the screen showed W peering down at the devastation from a plane window, Gibson told us that with regard to government plans to deal with future hurricanes:
"There's a certain doubt, even though it's all on paper, whether it would actually work. Because one of the sad parts of this is that there's been an erosion in confidence in government . . . I think everybody
It all started when CNN repoter Miles O'Brien announced that in Biloxi, Miss., 30 people had died in the St. Charles apartment complex. Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove immediately investigated, expecting a heavy workload. But he discovered that no one had died, and immediately announced the news to the media. This hardly stopped a news story that had already assumed a reality of its own.
The front page of today's Chicago Tribune carries the headline: "Bush's vows after Katrina go unfulfilled, Critics: Washington `all windup, no pitch.'"
The principal critic cited is the dependably liberal historian Douglas Brinkley of Tulane University. "'The Bush administration, post-Katrina, has been all windup and no pitch. It's a low point in Bush's tenure,' says Brinkley."
The professor's credentials as an impartial observer are questionable. Here, after all, is a man who claims that Jimmy Carter "is seen as a national treasure - even by people who didn't like him as president." A man who asserted: "I think he'd (John Kerry) make a first-rate president." A man who wants to see Bill Clinton's reputation rehabilitated and says, "Hopefully, we'll have a fuller view and also understand that he's had a great many important strengths."
On Friday’s "Early Show," there were three stories worth noting here on NewsBusters. First, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews painted the ruling by the FDA allowing the morning after pill, known as Plan B, to be sold without a prescription in many cases as an election year ploy by the Bush Administration and as a victory for women’s groups at the expense of conservatives. Next, correspondent Mark Strassmann, reporting from Baghdad, actually noted some progress in securing Iraq, "…But since then, U.S. and Iraqi forces have ratcheted up pressure in Baghdad's meanest neighborhoods. The results look promising. City-wide, murders are down 41%." Finally, viewers were given a preview of this Sunday’s "60 Minutes" interview with Ray Nagin, in which Nagin defended the slow pace of progress in New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina by comparing his cities recovery to New York’s after 9/11: "It's alright. You guys in New York City can't get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later. So let's be fair." Further analysis of each of these stories follows.
Last night NBC gave its August 24 "Nightly News" audience a one-sided story on Katrina insurance claims. Correspondent Ron Mott stacked three critics (a plaintiff, his attorney, and another woman filing suit) of insurance companies against a one-sentence statement by State Farm insurance.
What's more, NBC's Ron Mott left out some detail about one of his featured plaintiffs: Judy Guice of Biloxi.
It’s been noted on this site before that David Shuster’s reports for MSNBC’s Hardball read like DNC press releases and last night was no exception as he attacked the administration on Katrina and Iraq and even found time to slam Sen. George Allen. Shuster opened fire: "Almost a year since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast, left the country shocked at the Bush administration's ineptitude the Bush team is now engaged in damage control for the year after reminder."
During his report Shuster cited Nancy Pelosi to attack Bush on Katrina, Sen. John McCain to hit Bush on Iraq and Howard Dean to slam Allen. Then Shuster called the Democrat's "wise" and doomed the GOP with this sign-off: "Reminding voters of your opponent's mistakes is a wise political campaign strategy and between George Allen, the problems in Iraq and the anniversary of the Bush team's Katrina debacle Democrats are now having a field day. Republicans are simply trying to hang on just 75 days before the congressional elections. I'm David Shuster for Hardball in Washington."
Film director Spike Lee could have created a stirring tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina who lost everything. Instead, his documentary "When the Levees Broke" featured Republican/Bush-bashing, conspiracy-mongering, and a disregard for victims of other races
Spike Lee focused primarily on the Lower Ninth Ward and the African-American victims of Katrina. So, viewers were left with the clear indication that the New Orleans area is almost solely comprised of African-Americans and the victims of Katrina were almost all African-American. However, the metropolitan area of New Orleans was 63% white prior to Katrina and 47% of the storm fatalities were not African-Americans, and of that group the vast majority was white.
Katrina was an equal opportunity destroyer and the flood waters did not discriminate. Incredibly, Lee found no time to investigate the damage in Old Metairie or Lakeview, two primarily white areas that were decimated. Was that just an oversight or an example of racial discrimination? Lee also completely bypassed the devastated Mississippi Gulf Coast, another primarily white region, which bore the brunt of the high winds and the storm surge of Katrina...
On Thursday’s "Early Show" on CBS, co-host Hannah Storm promoted the leftist hype about the link between global warming and hurricanes in a segment with global warming enthusiast, and author of the new book "The Ravaging Tide," Mike Tidwell. Storm acted as more of a facilitator than interviewer, asking leading questions, questions that assumed Tidwell’s comments were accurate, and allowed her guest to make some ridiculous statements that went unchallenged.
Storm’s feelings on the matter can best be summed up by her statement, "…this dependence on fossil fuels needs to be addressed. So what’s your recommendation?"
On his "Political Punch" blog (formerly "Down and Dirty"), ABC reporter Jake Tapper reports that the ethical scolds in the Democratic Party are somehow overlooking the corruption of Congressman Bill "Cold Cash" Jefferson as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina rolls around:
The Democratic Caucus's Katrina Task Force will travel to the Gulf Coast region from August 27 through August 30 to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. One special part of this trip? On Monday, August 28, roughly 20 House Democrats will be guided on a tour of the region by Rep. William Jefferson, D-LA and the National Guard.
That may seem especially odd considering the history of Jefferson and the National Guard in New Orleans. You may remember Jefferson from a year ago, when we broke the story that in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops. (Read the story HERE)
One of the interesting evidences of bias in the mainstream press is the way that all political discussions tend to be written from the point-of-view of "what do the Democrats need to do to win?" This New York Times "analysis" is just the latest example. All of the factors that you'd expect to see from a PR firm trying to help Democrats get elected are present.
Introductory paragraph framing the issue from the Democrats' perspective? Check.
After being outmaneuvered in the politics of national security in the last two elections, Democrats say they are determined not to cede the issue this year and are working to cast President Bush as having diminished the nation’s safety.
“From the beginning Spike Lee knew that Hurricane Katrina was a story he had to tell.”
That’s how The New York Times begins Agony of New Orleans, Through Spike Lee’s Eyes, on the director’s upcoming Katrina documentary. Times reporter Felicia R. Lee doesn’t tell readers of one of the reasons Lee was drawn to the story: he thinks the government may have deliberately flooded New Orleans.
That’s right. HBO wanted to make “the film of record” on America’s worst natural disaster, and entrusted the task to a man who thinks it may actually have been a government conspiracy. And it gave him $2 million to do it.
Could reporter Lee (no relation, I hope) simply have not been aware of director Lee’s conspiracy theories? They’re not hard to find. The director went on CNN and said: “I don't put anything past the United States government. I don't find it too far-fetched that they tried to displace all the black people out of New Orleans.”
Since Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans last summer, there has been a lot of media and left-wing speculation that the apparition called global warming is responsible for an upsurge in hurricane activity and intensity. Fortunately, for those seeking sanity amidst the hysteria, a new study written by a group that includes two members of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration published in this week’s Science Magazine refutes this contention (hat tip to Gary Hall).
Since this phantom meteorological nexus was first introduced to the public, it has become almost commonplace in the lexicon of the new religious cult known as the Global Warmingists, and is a mainstay of the sect’s leader, famed political scientist sans climatology degree Dr. Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. In fact, this is a central tenet in Gore’s recent schlockumentary, An Inconvenient Truth, as evidenced by the following passages at the movie’s website:
• With 2005, the worst storm season ever experienced in America just behind us, it seems we may be reaching a tipping point – and Gore pulls no punches in explaining the dire situation.
• The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years.
Yet, as first reported by Martin Merzer of the Miami Herald on June 27, not all scientists are drinking Gore’s Kool-Aid:
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews was Jay Leno’s guest on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday, and did more Republican bashing than even he usually does (grateful hat tip to Greg Tinti at Outside the Beltway with video link here). One of the first zingers was directed at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Leno asked Matthews what he thought of Gingrich’s claim on Sunday that what is going on now in the Middle East is World War III. Matthews responded, “I think Newt is World War III.”
A bit later, Leno asked about the recent expletive that President Bush was caught saying to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit, and what Matthews thought about the press feeling that they needed to cut the word out of their broadcasts. Matthews saw this as a great opportunity to swipe at the Bush administration about a totally irrelevant issue: “I wish they'd cut out the 16 words that got us into Iraq, however, but they didn't cut those 16 out.”
The next interesting vignette was when Leno asked Matthews his opinion of Rudy Giuliani. Matthews began with something that will strike many conservatives as the height of hypocrisy:
If you are a celebrity, businessman or ex-president with a liberal persuasion and you have a cause to promote chances are someone from NBC's Today will traverse many miles to place a microphone in front of your face. On this morning's Today show Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates all got face-time to promote their causes. However it was Pitt who stole the show with this piece of Greenie hyperbole: "We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction."
In the first half-hour of Today NBC's Campbell Brown highlighted Bill and Melinda Gates and Clinton's efforts to combat disease in Africa and in the 8:30 half-hour Ann Curry trudged through flood-ravaged New Orleans to promote Brad Pitt's effort to rebuild the city. On the surface one has to applaud any charitable effort to fight disease in Africa or reconstruct New Orleans but it would be nice if viewers were spared the liberal hero worship such as Brown calling Gates and Clinton, "two of the most fascinating people in the world."
Another friend sent a giggle with the HBO press release on Spike Lee's forthcoming Katrina documentary. Is Spike Lee seeking a "wide range of opinions"? Bayou Buzz has details, including this piece of the press release:
Lee and his team selected nearly 100 people from diverse backgrounds, representing a wide range of opinions, to be featured in the film, including Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Harry Belafonte, Wynton Marsalis, CNN´s Soledad O´Brien, Terence Blanchard, Rev. Al Sharpton, Wendell Pierce, Sean Penn, Kanye West, local media and other New Orleans residents.
It might be a pretty big event: It "will have a world premiere August 16 in New Orleans before a potential 10,000 people. The premiere in New Orleans will be one year after the Hurricane Katrina disaster. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, Acts I and II will be presented free of charge before a potential audience of 10,000 people at the New Orleans Arena."