Frank Rich is from Venus; NewsBusters is from Mars.
NewsBusters documents the way that, day-in and day-out, the MSM slants its coverage against conservative principles in general and the Bush administration in particular. Frank Rich looks at the same coverage and complains that the press is too Bush-friendly.
In his p.p.v. New York Times column of today, All the President’s Press, Rich takes the occasion of the recent White House correspondents dinner to complain "how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media."
The press has enabled stunts from the manufactured threat of imminent “mushroom clouds” to “Saving Private Lynch” to “Mission Accomplished,” whose fourth anniversary arrives on Tuesday.
No one in the Bush administration ever spoke of "imminent mushroom clouds." Rich flatly misstates the truth. Lynch's criticism of the way the military presented her story was all over the MSM this week. And how incalculably many times over the last few years has the MSM run mocking coverage of President Bush's "Mission Accomlished" moment?
“Exclusive” hype. Three weeks and three days after ABC's World News led with an "exclusive" about how Iran could have a nuclear weapon in two years, the CBS Evening News on Thursday led with an “exclusive” about how Iran could have a nuclear weapon in three years. Will NBC soon tout an “exclusive” about Iran getting a nuclear weapon in four years?
Katie Couric announced at the top of Thursday's newscast, “Tonight, a CBS News exclusive: U.S. intelligence now believes the Iranians may be within just three years of building their first nuclear weapon.” David Martin reported the subsequent story. Back on April 2, ABC anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted “an alarming acceleration of Iran's nuclear program. Iran could have material for a bomb in two years. A Brian Ross exclusive.” Ross soon explained how “in the last three months Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium -- meaning, according to weapons experts, that it could have enough material for a nuclear bomb within two years...” (April 3 NewsBusters item)
The April 26 edition of "The Early Show" reported on Rosie O’Donnell’s departure announcement with a very positive portrayal of "The View" co-host. Although reporter Jeff Glor briefly noted, with a sound bite, that Rosie has "gone after President Bush," they completely ignored her many controversies including September 11 conspiracy theories, Iran’s British hostage conspiracy theory, anti-Asian remarks, anti-Catholic remarks, and downplaying the terrorist threatseveraltimes.
The story included her famous feud with Donald Trump and the rest a puffy piece on the far-left personality. Glor interviewed two Rosie fans who said "she makes the show" and that Rosie is "talented" and "honest." Paraphrasing television critic Michael Schneider, Glor added that added that "O’Donnell turned ‘The View’ into the hottest show on daytimes TV." The entire transcript is below.
An American tax-funded documentary, titled Islam vs. Islamists, a film on how moderate Muslims feel about the corruption of their religion by Wahhabi extremists and their experiences in facing those extremists, was axed by PBS for the very reason that it puts some Muslims in a bad light, says the film's producer in Tuesday's edition of the Arizona Republic. Rampant PCism is the charge, and it is hard to deny the claim once the whole story is put out there.
The producer of a tax-financed documentary on Islamic extremism claims his film has been dropped for political reasons from a television series that airs next week on more than 300 PBS stations nationwide.
Producer Martyn Burke claims that PBS, in order to be allowed to continue with the project, tried to make him fire some of his associates on the film because they belong to a Conservative Think Tank and that they still axed his film anyway when all was said and done.
Members of the media are working environmental bias into the oddest segments. "Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion reported this week on the trendy new concept of "green weddings." According to Mr. Champion, "more and more Americans" are embracing ideas such as not using electricity during their wedding and holding the reception in a barn. Sounds great, right ladies?
On the same topic, the "Today" show’s Martin Savidge worried that climate change could have a negative effect on the nation’s pets. (Presumably, this includes Savidge’s dog "Girlfriend.") On Friday, the aforementioned Mr. Champion plugged a global warming study that predicted overly warm spring temperatures. This was right after his early April forecast of brutal cold for the Northeast.
The mainstream media unabashedly continues its soft-touch approach with Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On Thursday's "American Morning," CNN foreign correspondent Aneesh Raman gave a report from Amman, Jordan on the release of the 15 British sailors and marines by Iran. He began with the describing the P.R. conducted by Iran and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of "precision." Later in his report, Raman then described the P.R. campaign as "sophisticated." These are hardly adjectives CNN employs for American officials.
Though Raman does state that Iran "used the media to its advantage" and that its broadcasts of the British sailors and marines making statements were "staged confessions," it's unsurprising, to say the least, that the CNN correspondent would use such glowing terms for the Iranian regime's propaganda coup. It was only a few months ago that Raman's colleague at CNN, Suzanne Malveaux, asked President Bush for a show of respect for Ahmadinejad.
Over at the liberal website Slate.com, Jack Shafer mocks former ABC personage Ted Koppel his latest commentary for National Public Radio on Iran's British hostages, claiming "If history is any guide, Iran may wait until Tony Blair's tenure as prime minister comes to an end in a few months." Oops. Shafer also finds the subject of Iran is too close for Koppel to ignore himself:
Is there a more pompous egomaniac purring on the airwaves today than Ted Koppel?
Two days ago, the bouffanted one filed a commentary piece on NPR pegged to the seizure of 15 British sailors and marines by the Iranians. For self-obsessives like Koppel, all journalism is autobiography, so the story doesn't seem new to him. Instead, it echoes the hostage-taking of American diplomats 28 years ago in Tehran because, as Koppel doesn't have to remind listeners, it was the news event that started the show America Held Hostage that became Nightline and made his career!
In some ways, Army Colonel Jack Jacobs [ret.] is the perfect military analyst for an MSM outlet like MSNBC. His Medal of Honor, awarded to him for exceptional heroism in Vietnam [read account here], puts him above reproach. Yet his take on Iraq and other military affairs is anything but a parroting of the Bush administration line.
But while MSNBC might see him as one of their own, there come moments, as today, when Jacob leaves no doubt that he remains altogether a military man, upholding the highest traditions of valor and sacrifice. At about 10:30 AM EDT this morning, he was brought in to comment after the just-concluded press conference by a number of the British sailors and marines who had been held captive by the Iranians. A clearly outraged Jacobs made no effort to hide his contempt for them.
Imagine if you will that in September 1996, just days after America launched a missile strike on Baghdad to expand the “no fly zone,” Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met with Saddam Hussein to discuss foreign policy matters without the permission of President Clinton.
Would the media have vociferously discussed the possibility that Gingrich had violated federal law in doing so?
If the answer is a resounding “Yes,” then why have extremely few press outlets broached this issue as it pertains to current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) recent potentially law-breaking trip to Syria?
To best understand the issue, a little history is necessary. The Logan Act was created in 1799, and reads as follows:
Better strap yourself in for this one, sports fans, for the Washington Post ran an editorial Thursday harshly criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and the “foolish shuttle diplomacy” she exhibited on her controversial trip to Syria this week.
(UPDATE: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a press release denying giving Pelosi a "peace message" for Syria.)
Entitled “Pratfall in Damascus,” the piece pounded Pelosi early and often (emphasis added throughout):
HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad.
Shocked? Well, the Post's editorial staff was just getting warmed up. Check those seatbelts again:
A night after leading with an “exclusive” about the more imminent than thought horrific threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons capability, ABC's World News began Tuesday with another Brian Ross “exclusive” in which he exposed a clandestine “secret war” inside Iran, a revelation that seemingly could undermine U.S. efforts to prevent Iran's extremist leaders from using those weapons of mass destruction. “Tonight,” anchor Charles Gibson announced at the top of Monday's World News, “an alarming acceleration of Iran's nuclear program. Iran could have material for a bomb in two years. A Brian Ross exclusive.” Ross soon explained how “in the last three months Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium -- meaning, according to weapons experts, that it could have enough material for a nuclear bomb within two years...”
Jump ahead 24 hours, and Gibson teased Tuesday's World News: “Tonight, a secret war going on inside Iran. Deadly stealth attacks in Iran, being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. government. Brian Ross investigates.” Ross outlined how “U.S. and Pakistani sources tell ABC News that the U.S. has been secretly advising and encouraging a militant group that has carried out a series of guerrilla raids inside Iran, raids that have led to the deaths or capture of Iranian soldiers and officials. The group operates out of the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.” Naturally, ABC managed to make a connection to Dick Cheney as Ross relayed: “Pakistani sources say the secret campaign against Iran was on the agenda when Vice President Cheney met with Pakistani President Musharaff in February.”
Lt. Col. Rick Francona (USAF Retired) is an MSNBC military analyst who also writes for the network's "Hardblogger" blog. But while Francona has plenty of thoughts on how to deal with Iran's hostage-taking and on the notion of setting a withdrawal deadline for U.S. troops in Iraq, a review of Nexis showed zero hits for Francona on MSNBC recently, and only one appearance on NBC's "Nightly News" the day after the British servicement were taken hostage. And even then, he was featured with a sound bite about the Pat Tillman investigation.
WITHDRAWAL DATE FOR IRAQ AIDS THE ENEMY (March 23)
GULF ARABS DRAW A RED LINE AGAINST IRAN (March 19)
The 15 British sailors and Royal Marines were captured on March 23. Francona has written more on Iran specifically and the Middle East in general, it's just not all been posted to MSNBC's Web site. Francona runs his own Web log, Middle East Perspectives, and has a few additional posts in the same time period, including one dated March 25 explaining the long-disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway in which Iran captured its British hostages.
So given Francona's expertise and his being on the MSNBC payroll, he's been pretty busy appearing on air, right?
Well, a Nexis search for "Rick Francona" among MSNBC documents from March 19-April 3 turned up no hits.
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program featured a segment on the growing feud between "View" host Rosie O’Donnell and FNC anchor Bill O’Reilly. Although reporter Taina Hernandez did highlight some of Ms. O’Donnell’s more extreme statements, the segment mostly portayed the back-and-forth as simply a celebrity squabble.
And one topic that GMA left out? Any reference to Rosie’s recent on-air touting of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Co-host Robin Roberts previewed the segment with a tease that offered moral equivalence between the FNC host and the woman who recently suggested that the kidnapping of British Marines was a modern day Gulf of Tonkin incident. Roberts wondered, "Has Rosie gone too far this time?" But she quickly covered herself by asking, "Maybe O’Reilly’s crossed the line? We’ll let you be the judge and weigh in on that."
While conservatives in the nation’s capital gathered on March 29 to recognize some of the most disgraceful media performances of 2006 at the MRC’s 20th Anniversary Gala, one of the evening’s “winners” was being unceremoniously torn to shreds by Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly (two-part videos available here and here).
In fact, the host went so far as to ask his guests, Bernie Goldberg and Jane Hall, if the time had come for ABC to cut its ties with the outspoken and controversial comedienne.
On Saturday's World News, ABC's David Kerley characterized President Bush's statement regarding the standoff between Britain and Iran as "lashing out," presumably because the President referred to the captured British soldiers as "hostages," as the ABC anchor suggested that Bush risked "inflaming" the situation. After relaying that the "outspoken" Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, today called Britain "arrogant" while still demanding an apology, Kerley also suggested that Bush's statement was not "cool-headed" as he introduced a story by correspondent Mike Lee playing up the possibility of a diplomatic solution. Kerley: "In spite of that rhetoric [from Ahmadinejad] and those remarks from President Bush today, there were some new signs that cooler heads may be prevailing." (Transcripts follow)
Rosie O’Donnell has graduated from outspoken and controversial, to corporate liability and national embarrassment…except in Hollywood, of course. As Bill O’Reilly pointed out (pt. one and two) on his March 29 show, on her blog, Rosie now claims that the Britain is running "(f)alse flag operations," that "the british did it on purpose" (sic) and that the US is building a military presence on the Iranian border, readying for a summer invasion of Iran. This is a continuation of this morning’s "The View," in which Rosie discussed 9/11 and the British hostages held by Iran.
The co-hosts of "The View" again discussed the Iranian British hostage situation on the March 29 edition. Rosie O’Donnell trusted the Iranians more than the British and Americans, and the discussion evolved into more Rosie rants against alleged Bush administration tyranny and for the first time on "The View," Rosie ranted on her September 11 conspiracy theories. Rosie’s rants were too much even for fringe liberal Joy Behar. Token non-liberal Elisabeth Hasselbeck was far more assertive than the previous day. In the teaser at the end of the first segment, Rosie and Joy made light of the upcoming discussion.
ROSIE O’DONNELL: Alright we’re going to take a break and come back and talk about the situation in Iran with the soldiers, the British soldiers who were in international waters. The British say they were in the right waters and the Iranians say no they were in our waters, and so it begins.
JOY BEHAR: Do you think people are now clicking us off because you promoed that?
O’DONNELL: Well, I don’t know, but we're going to talk about it and I'm sure it will make the news.
No, it's not bias per se, but it is a bit of a pet peeve when the media are sloppy with terminology that relates to the military.
This morning, CNN has been reporting on how Iran may release the female sailor that was captured along with 14 of her comrades. But in doing so, the CNN chyron referred to her as a "troop."
"Troop" is not used in the singular to refer to a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. "Troop" traditionally refers to a unit of soldiers, although in modern usage "troops" may refer to soldiers collectively irrespective of a unit organization.
CNN would be correct to say that Iran has said it will release the female sailor among the 15 captured British military personnel, as the woman in question serves in the Royal Navy.
Inspired by an Esquire magazine interview in which Republican Senator Chuck Hagel mentioned the possibility that some of President Bush's critics may push impeachment at some point, CNN's Wolf Blitzer devoted considerable time on Monday's The Situation Room to discussing the significance of Hagel's impeachment talk, remarking that "it's not good for President Bush, to put it bluntly." Blitzer characterized impeachment talk as "a little bit louder" and, after Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, appearing as a guest, showed disinterest in a Bush impeachment, Blitzer still clung to the possibility, characterizing Dodd's words as "leaving the door slightly open," and remarking, "What I'm hearing is you're not completely ruling it out." (Transcript follows)
According to CNN’s Jack Cafferty, President Bush would jump at the opportunity to use the kidnapping of 15 British soldiers as a pretext to invade Iran. On the Monday edition of "Situation Room," Cafferty asserted that he hoped U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair doesn’t ask George W. Bush to join a coalition of the willing whose goal it is to free the captives.
Jack Cafferty: "Let’s hope British Prime Minister Tony Blair doesn’t ask the United States to join a coalition of the willing to invade Iran and get its hostages back. My feeling is President Bush would be on that like a bird on a worm."
The CNN host also saw scary implications in the fact that the U.S. Navy is just off the coast of Iran:
Seymour Hersh of “The New Yorker” has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq for many years. This certainly should come as no surprise to folks familiar with his name, his work, and his style of dangerously activist journalism.
On March 11, Hersh added a new wrinkle to his résumé by not only doing a radio interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, but also actually discussing what he believes is the American military strategy towards Iran including what he called "an intensive planning for an air strike" and "some sort of on the ground operation."
On the March 26 edition of "The View," co-host Rosie O’Donnell discussed the Iranian seizure of British sailors. Rosie again gave out false information on national television and implied that this may be a hoax so to provide the president with an excuse to go to war.
"But interesting with the British sailors, there were 15 British sailors and Marines who apparently went into Iranian waters and they were seized by the Iranians. And I have one thing to say: Gulf of Tonkin, Google it. Okay."
Rosie may have missed the news that not only do the United States and Britain insist they were not in Iranian waters, but Iraq and France do as well. Veteran journalist Barbara Walters did not bother to correct Rosie.
Is it the media’s job to keep American citizens aware of statements made by foreign officials that could shed light on what we’re up against in winning the wars in Iraq and on terrorism? Or, should the press keep the caustic comments of such political officials from the public in order to maximize the impression that all the problems in the world are caused by the Bush administration?
While you formulate an answer, consider the following statements made by the Syrian Minister of Culture during a speech aired on Iranian television (video available here courtesy of Memri TV):
The so-called Al-Qaeda is in my opinion, an illusion. It is a bunch of organizations which used to be supervised by the CIA, and used to commit crimes in some Arab and Islamic countries.
Nice, huh? Alas, he was just getting warmed up blaming terrorism on America:
In time for the Persian New Year, CBS's Melissa McNamara trawled the blogosphere (including MySpace blog entries) and found bloggers who think Iran's Islamic extremist government has a point about "300" being "anti-Persian." In doing she, she produced a handful of blogs that appear to generate light traffic and in at least one case is just a rambling screed.
McNamara told readers that the "Islamic Republic News Agency" (IRNA) finds fault with the film's version of historical events. She left out that IRNA is Iran's official state-controlled news/propaganda service. CBSNews.com's resident "Blogophile" also noted objections from an Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, which she described simply as "Iran's biggest circulation newspaper."
That's akin to a journalist during the Cold War describing Pravda as simply the Soviet Union's best-selling newspaper. Hamshahri co-sponsored a political cartoon contest that the Iranian government held last year that generated hundreds of entries that were anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli. Portions in bold are my emphasis:
It has been argued for years that the media typically focus on images from Iraq and the war on terror which paint American and Israeli military in a bad light while always presenting the enemy as victims.
In fact, this effort often includes the doctoring of photographs as well as the staging of events in front of rolling cameras which will be broadcast or published by an antiwar press without the slightest investigation into authenticity.
With that in mind, the picture at the right represents a rather startling image of terrorism that media would never dare share with the American people. As the MEMRI Blog shockingly reported (h/t Charles at LGF, emphasis added):