The graphic claims 'Kerry Plays Hardball', but it was all slow-pitch softball this evening for the junior senator from Massachusetts. After feeding Kerry a number of leading questions letting him tee off on the way Pres. Bush allegedly misled the country into war, talk turned to exit strategies.
Matthews: "Senator, you have a plan, pretty hard, about how we can deal with getting out of Iraq."
Kerry: "Well, it's time to get tough, Chris."
Now there's a courageous politician for you - one willing to admit he's tough.
Kerry repeated a stock formulation he's been using this week: "The policy is broken. When you go down to the Vietnam War Memorial, you take a look at it, you see that almost half the names that are on that wall were added after our leaders knew that the policy wasn't working. That's immoral, and I believe it's immoral today for us to pursue a policy where our kids are dying, losing their limbs, going to Walter Reed . . . because Iraqi politicians won't compromise."
Comedy Central's hit show "South Park" just won a Peabody, the highest award given to TV shows. The most recent episode dealt with the controversy surrounding depictions of Mohammad.
In the episode, everyone in the country is terrified that the Fox animated show "Family Guy" is going to show Mohammad. All in the town of South Park are afraid for their lives at the thought of Muslim retribution.
But in the end, Fox chickens out and censors the Mohammad character, covering him up with a black rectangle.
The show's main character, Peter Griffin, is told by his wife Lois that she doesn't want to cook dinner for his ex-girlfriend. Peter responds that maybe they can just have tea, to which the talking dog Brian responds, "You mean like the time you had tea with Mohammad, the prophet of the Muslim faith?"
Gabriel Schoenfeld has an essay in Commentary where he says the New York Times broke the law when it reported on the NSA eavesdropping program.
Disclosing classified information, like that given to the New York Times about monitoring Al Qaeda phone calls, is illegal. But there is an avenue for whistleblowers to expose wrongdoing that involves classified info, although it has nothing to do with flashy headlines and self aggrandizing journalists.
As for whistleblowers unhappy with one or another government program, they have other avenues at their disposal than splashing secrets across the front page of the New York Times. The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 shields employees from retribution if they wish to set out evidence of wrongdoing. When classified information is at stake, the complaints must be leveled in camera, to authorized officials, like the inspectors general of the agencies in question, or to members of congressional intelligence committees, or both. Neither the New York Times nor any other newspaper or television station is listed as an authorized channel for airing such complaints.
The New York Times damaged American surveillance efforts.
Today's starters: Keeping with its tradition of political fairness and neutrality, Middle Tennessee State University is continuing its journalism conference (conference called: Self-Inflicted Wounds — Fact and Fiction in Journalism: Fabrication, Plagiarism and Confidential Sources)--kicked off earlier this week by an address from that paragon of objectivity Al Gore--with a panel discussion featuring Mary Mapes. The session is entitled "Rush to Judgment? The CBS Crisis." Any NB readers in the area?
The big media story of the day, as reported earlier by NB's Mark Finkelstein, is that Katie Couric is headed over to CBS. The NYT and LAT both have good good stories the deal and its implications. Why does Couric's leaving warrant attention, asks one blogger. Another says she won't watch "Today" if it hires "View" co-host Meredith Viera.
The New York Post reports that Arab news channel Al Jazeera is having trouble finding any U.S. cable providers willing to carry its new English-language channel.
AL-Jazeera International, the English-language network of the controversial Arab channel Al-Jazeera, is set to launch this summer - but still does not have a single cable company signed up to carry it.
The network is staffed largely by Western journalists, including "Nightline" correspondent David Marash and veteran interviewer David Frost.
It had been set to launch last month, but for unexplained reasons, postponed its start date until summer.
Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies explained that there's a media angle in the war on terrorism: fighting terrorist media channels.
Slowly and with difficulty, are we also learning to fight a modern war of ideas.
But a battle was won last week when the U.S. Treasury Department designated Hezbollah's al Manar satellite television operation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. By prohibiting transactions between U.S. entities and al Manar, and freezing any assets al Manar may have in the U.S., this designation gives the government the tools it needs to cripple al Manar's internationally broadcast incitements to terrorism.
Powell's Books plans to carry the magazine in its West Burnside Street store as usual. Rich's Cigar Store downtown and some outlets of the national chain Barnes & Noble also plan to stock it.
"I never like giving any offense, but the truth is that many of the books I stock have material that will offend somebody with something," said Powell's owner Michael Powell, who said he disagrees with Borders' decision.
Investor's Business Daily reprints (this is at least the second time) British Prime Minister Tony Blair's March 21 speech at the Foreign Policy Center in London. See the whole thing at Real Clear Politics. This part about the media's characterization of insurgent attacks as coalition setbacks and not contemptible violence against innocents jumped out at me:
They have so much clearer a sense of what is at stake. They play our own media with a shrewdness that would be the envy of many a political party. Every act of carnage adds to the death toll. But somehow it serves to indicate our responsibility for disorder, rather than the act of wickedness that causes it. For us, so much of our opinion believes that what was done in Iraq in 2003 was so wrong, that it is reluctant to accept what is plainly right now.
Drudge links to an AP story about two national book chains who are apparently afraid of having their coffee bars blown up.
Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.
"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority," Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.
There’s some odd wording in Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker’s short piece Tuesday on an unusual ceremony in a Pennsylvania meadow.
“Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gazed across a rolling meadow on Monday, its grass yellow in late winter's grip, and toward the stand of hemlock trees marking the area where Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. He then bent and wordlessly placed a medallion at the base of a temporary memorial here.
“Known as the defense secretary's ‘coin,’ the medallion is an elaborately pressed memento that Mr. Rumsfeld hands out to troops he meets in combat zones overseas.
“His visit was his first to the site where passengers of Flight 93 overpowered their hijackers and sent an airliner crashing into the countryside instead of its intended target, the Capitol in Washington. His gesture was intended to link that event, through the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the wars started by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
In all its cacophony and moments of absurdity, this morning's Today show segment on immigration was a supremely edifying example of the confusion, high emotion and complexity of the immigration debate. Matters reached their Alice-in-Wonderland apotheosis when Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was shown arguing that illegal immigrants are good . . . 'citizens.' Said Feinstein:
"They pay taxes, their children are Americans, they go to schools, they're good citizens and they're needed."
This was in line with the fait accompli argument advanced by La Raza representative Janet Murguia. She referred to what she estimated as the 11-12 million illegal aliens in the country as "people are working in backbreaking work that nobody else wants to do in this country. We need to . . . understand that they are already part of this country."
Sean Hannity has made border security and illegal immigration a major cause, spending time at and broadcasting shows from our border with Mexico. Give GMA credit for having Sean on this morning's show to discuss the issue. That said, Charlie Gibson put on a display of bleeding-heart liberalism at its most predictable, confusing compassion with tolerance of criminality.
Gibson wasted no time: "Let's start with the House bill. It would build a wall along our southern border, turn 12 million people into felons and make it criminal to give an illegal immigrant help. Is that what this country is about?"
Countered Hannity: "I think this country is about laws and the rule of lawand I think you've got to come into this country and do it the way my grandparents did it, which is legal."
Where is the liberal moral outrage? Oh, to be sure, the left is making its political points in the wake of the case in which a man is facing the death penalty in Aghanistan for having converted from Islam to Christianity. Story here. Administration critics have been quick to question the value of Pres. Bush's efforts in bringing democracy to the Muslim world if situations such as this one are the outcome.
But in reporting the matter on this morning's Today, NBC's Andrea Mitchell cast domestic protest of the matter strictly in terms of moral outrage on the part of the "Christian right".
The Associated Press Thursday evening reported that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff feels the U.S. would have been safer had the Dubai Ports World deal gone through: “The U.S. missed an opportunity to make its shores safer when it drove away a Dubai-based company poised to operate cargo terminals at several American seaports, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Chertoff said the international shipping firm DP World could have helped implement stronger security at many ports where the U.S. now has limited influence.”
This represents quite a flip-flop for the esteemed wire service that is felt to have started the whole controversy with its February 11 article which began: “A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.”
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly had radio host Laura Ingraham on “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday evening (hat tip to Expose the Left). Fresh from her battle with NBC’s David Gregory on the “Today Show,” O’Reilly wanted Ingraham’s view (video link to follow) about NBC (from closed captioning):
Bill: Is it your opinion that NBC news spins the war in Iraq negative?
Laura: Well, it's not between me and NBC, Bill.
Bill: Look, you're an analyst. You watch these people. Is it your opinion that NBC news spins the war negative?
Laura: I think that the coverage of the war by NBC that I have really focused on, especially since I was in Iraq last month, to me it seems bizarrely focused only on the I.E.D.'s, only on the latest reprisal killings that are taking place. When stories that are so fascinating and interesting and broader and human interest, stuff the "Today" show and NBC likes to do, those stories are out there for anyone to get. I don't get it.
O’Reilly then made a very bold castigation of NBC:
A U.S. News and World Report article identified a lawsuit filed by the publishers of the Oregonian in Portland for the unsealing of documents in a pending case involving the National Security Agency and terrorist surveillance: “In a motion filed Friday, lawyers for the Oregonian Publishing Co. argued that it is in the public interest to know the contents of documents that could prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program.”
The Oregonian has no pony in this race. Instead, it is clearly muckraking without regard to how it might impact national security and the war on terror:
“‘This appears to be the first case in which documents have been filed with the court demonstrating the National Security Agency's practice of wiretapping private conversations,’ said Charles F. Hinkle, a lawyer for the publishing company. ‘We are not interested in the content of the attorney-client communications. We are interested in what the government did.’"
The case in question involves allegations by the federal government that an Oregon-based Islamic charity has ties to al Qaeda and is funding them. Apparently, one of the charity’s directors gave $130,000 in travelers checks to Chechen rebels in March 2000. The charity’s funds were frozen in February 2004 by the federal government , and the charity was designated as terrorists in September 2004.
Regardless, the Oregonian believes it's acting for the public good:
On his Monday March 20 Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann disputed President Bush's recent contention that he had never claimed "that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein" by citing one awkward quote from the President, which stood in contrast to other public statements that more clearly communicated the point about the 9/11 attacks being a lesson that inspired a confrontation of Iraq, rather than Iraq actually being involved in the attacks. Olbermann rhetorically posed the question: "Who does the President think he's 'f'-ing kidding?" On the Tuesday March 21 show, Olbermann added that "any six-year-old would have recognized that his administration had deliberately left exactly that impression." Guest Craig Crawford labeled Bush's recent comments as "presidential prevarication" and compared it to Bill Clinton saying, "Depends on what the definition of 'is' is." Notably, as recounted by CyberAlert, the Countdown host once before used selectively edited statements by Dick Cheney to make it appear the Vice President had claimed a connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, while omitting more of Cheney's words which clarified his meaning. (Transcripts follow.)
The CNN Headline News show "Showbiz Tonight" led Monday night with controversy over the movie "V for Vendetta," and stomped hard on the idea that it was directed at the Bush administration. Host A. J. Hammer began with a promo: "On ‘Showbiz Tonight,’ the war in Iraq, the war on terror and the hottest movie in America. The shock and awe over 'V for Vendetta.' And the controversy. Is art imitating life? A political thriller where the hero is a terrorist. Is that really such a bad thing?"
Is this a rhetorical question? Or is Hammer auditioning for al-Jazeera International?
MRC's Michelle Humphrey tipped me off to the story. Hammer explained: "All right, let me tell you what happened this weekend. America had a big choice of movies. Here's the one they made No. 1: 'V for Vendetta.' This is a movie all about terrorism. This is a movie that raises some serious and unsettling questions about who should really be called a terrorist. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. A movie that has chilling allusions to everything from September 11 to government spying to terror bombings to the war in the Iraq. It`s a movie that opened just as we crossed yet another disturbing milestone in the struggle to end the seemingly unending war in Iraq. It`s enough to make critics and Showbiz Tonight ask, what's going on here?"
Another episode of ABC's prime time drama Boston Legal will air tonight (Tuesday). Last week's episode featured a plot line with over-the-top lawyer "Alan Shore," played by James Spader, delivering a five-minute-long closing argument, in defense of a woman who wouldn't pay income taxes, railing against the war on terrorism. Earlier, explaining to Shore her reasoning, the woman, "Melissa Hughes," cited how her grandfather, who fought in World War I, would be "embarrassed" by "what's happening today." She listed "us torturing people, spying on our own people, squashing everybody's civil liberties. My grandfather would weep." To which Shore got in an obvious slap at FNC: "You need to change the channel. The awful things you speak of never happen on the 'fair and balanced' newscasts."
In his closing, Shore cited a litany of misdeeds, including: "When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up....And, now it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens -- you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, FINALLY, the American people will have had enough. Evidently, we haven't." Shore soon compared the current climate to that of the McCarthy era, recalling what he read in a book by Adlai Stevenson: "Too often, sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, 'are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.' Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism."
Video excerpt #1, “Shore” listing misdeeds (1:25): Real (2.5 MB) or Windows Media (2.9 MB)
Video excerpt #2, “Shore” making McCarthy era comparison (1:15): Real (2.2 MB) or Windows Media (2.5 MB)
Was it David Gregory, or an SNL parody of a biased liberal MSMer? The topic on this morning's Today show was whether media coverage of Iraq has presented a distorted picture. Under the circumstances, you might have thought Gregory would have feigned some facsimile of fairness. But his very first question to James Carville advanced the theory that . . . President Bush is a liar.
Asked Gregory: "Is the problem for this president and top administration officials that the public doesn't believe what they say anymore?"
Like a top point guard, Laura Ingraham tenaciously fought through the Gregory-Carville double-team to make her case. She pointed out that NBC and the Today show expended huge resources to cover the Olympics and even to answer the question "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" She suggested that they devote some of the same resources to broadcast the Today show directly from Iraq, that they accompany troops, speak with US and Iraqi military personnel and with villagers and see the reality on the ground.
The United American Committee is planning a permanent protest, starting on April 30, of the new Al-Jazeera news network planned for the U.S. and English speakers worldwide. Called Al-Jazeera International, it will feature mostly British and American former MSMers. The group calls Al-Jazeera's American plans "Jazeeragate," and wants the demonstration at the studio to "continue daily indefinitely."
Al-Jazeera, the television network that many call the propaganda wing of the radical Islamist movement in the world, is scheduled shortly to launch their network in English aimed at Americans with their new studios being in Washington DC. The United American Committee objects to the establishment of the network in America; "It's as if Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minster for Hitler, were to have set up a station in America during WWII." says Lee Kaplan, member of the UAC executive committee. Al-Jazeera plans on launching their 24 hour 7 day a week channel in America this spring. In response, the UAC is calling for a 24 hour 7 day a week protest in front of the Al-Jazeera studios to begin Sunday April 30th and continue daily indefinitely. The new studio of Al-Jazeera America is located at 1627 K St. NW, Suite #200, Washington, DC 20006.
The group explains why it doesn't like Al-Jazeera.
Greg Sheffield mentioned earlier the wacky al Jazeera-Fox comparisons in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. I would only add in that Gail Shister report, former ABC reporter Dave Marash is coming out swinging again in defense of his new employers, Al-Jazeera, against those "hysterical" Americans who aren't fond of Arab propaganda channels:
Marash says he expected a backlash when he was hired. When it comes to the Arab world, Americans display an "anxiety and suspicion that sometimes rises to the hysterical level."
Note: Marash was talking on a speakerphone in Washington, with AJI publicist Jazayerli in the room. Network policy, she said.
The English-language version of Al Jazeera is coming to America, but Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnists Gail Shister wonders: "is America ready for Al Jazeera?"
The English version will be called Al Jazeera International (AJI) and has recruited journalists from the mainstream media. Dave Marash, formerly of ABC's "Nightline," and former CNN anchor Riz Khan have been recruited.
The new network promises "accurate, impartial and objective reporting," and one journalism instructor said Al Jazeera is no different than Fox News.
Al Jazeera "clearly has a point of view, but so does Fox," says Kelly McBride, director of the ethics program at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"There's a market for that in the world, and in the United States, it's probably a growing market."
The Washington Post reports that anti-American or anti-U.S. military movies and plays are all the rage in Egypt. It's like George Clooney wearing a towel.
CAIRO -- When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited this city last month, Egyptians had an unusual choice: watch her on TV as she expounded on issues of war and peace in the Middle East, or go to a neighborhood movie theater and see her portrayed by a look-alike actress belly-dancing and placed in "adult" situations.
The film in question is "The Night Baghdad Fell," which depicts Egyptian obsessions with war, sex and the United States. Wildly anti-American, it has done a brisk business for two months, a long screen life for Egyptian-made films. In "Night," Egyptians fret about an American invasion of Egypt and the potential destruction of their capital. Americans are bullies, rapists and mindless killers.
On Friday afternoon’s The Situation Room, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider touted Senator Russ Feingold’s motion to censure President Bush as his choice for this week’s "political play of the week," heaping this praise upon him: "Spines, backbones, they help you stand up for what you believe. Of course it’s risky, that’s what a play of the week is all about. Senator Feingold did not choose an easy issue to confront the President on, like allowing an Arab government-owned company to operate U.S. ports. He chose wiretapping conversations with suspected terrorists and that’s a tough one." Earlier in his piece, Schneider played a soundbite of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid suggesting Feingold was displaying "principle." That prompted Schneider to recall Ronald Reagan: "Imagine that. Acting on principle need not be political suicide. Ronald Reagan gave Republicans a healthy injection of principle just when they needed it, after Watergate." (Transcript follows.)
When does healthy reportorial reserve cross the line into cynicism? Today's coverage this morning of Operation Swarmer, the counter-insurgency offensive in the Samarra region of Iraq, illustrates the issue.
NBC's skepticism was as clear as the legend that appeared on-screen throughout the segment: "Were Iraqi Targets Hit?" Surely it is appropriate to ask and try to answer how effective a military operation has been. But in openly wondering whether any targets were hit, Today perhaps comes close to labelling the operation a sham.
Questions about NBC's motives were only heightened when immediately following the Samarra segment, Today ran a piece, narrated by White House antagonist-in-chief David Gregory, which posed the question: "Politics of War: Can Bush Overcome Iraq?"
Over at TimesWatch on Thursday, Clay Waters tackled a controversy over a postponed play celebrating the life and activism of Rachel Corrie, an American-flag-burning activist for Israel-hating Palestinian terrorism. The third anniversary of Corrie’s death by standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer drew Jesse McKinley to write in the Times about how a Manhattan theatre company was delaying its staging of a British Corrie-celebrating play drawn from her life and writings. As Clay reported:
McKinley presents a false choice on how to take Corrie's activism: "Given the sharply divided opinions of Ms. Corrie -- idealistic or recklessly naive, depending on one's political point of view -- Mr. Nicola said on Monday that the workshop needed ‘more time to learn more and figure a way to proceed.’"
On Thursday night's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann characterized the logic of the White House's newly released National Security Strategy as insane by comparing its architects to individuals who fail the sanity test: "Does the individual continue to take action A and continue to get result B, while insisting that next time he will get result Z?" Referring to the Bush administration as "the forces that got us into Iraq," Olbermann declared that they are "still expecting to get result Z." After reading from the strategy, the Countdown host snidely quipped, "Actually finding WMD, result Z, is apparently beside the point."
Olbermann, who routinely signs off his Countdown show on an anti-war note by recounting the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq "since the declaration of mission accomplished," teased Thursday's show by summarizing the Bush policy of preemptive war as: "We can start it in order to keep somebody else from starting it." While showing footage of the aftermath of a bombing in Iraq, he sarcastically added, "Well, after all, it has worked so well in Iraq." Notably, while Olbermann later interviewed Time magazine's Michael Duffy, someone thought it was a good idea to display the words "The Empire Strikes Back" at the bottom of the screen, presumably referring to America's airstrikes in Iraq, during their discussion. (Transcript follows.)
The Bush Administration keeps telling Americans that we are fighting a war against terror. But, is the country really buying into that vague description of what is going on in our world? With each passing day, the answer seems more likely to be...No!
A Washington Post article dated March 9, 2006 is headlined “Negative Perception Of Islam Increasing”. It states, “As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and the majority say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence.”
What the Administration wants to deny is there are growing numbers across the United States that do not buy into the politically correct montra that Islam is a peaceful religion. Their attitudes have become more and more negative concerning Muslims worldwide with the media reports about Islamic outrage and savagery.