Over at www.mrc.org, we’ve just posted a new study of how ABC, CBS and NBC have covered the NSA surveillance story. It's just as awful as you expected — most network stories were framed around the idea that the program is probably illegal and a shocking violation of Americans’ civil liberties.
Maybe the most interesting statistic is how reporters themselves refer to the targets of NSA’s surveillance. Most of the time, it’s either “domestic spying” or “spying on U.S. citizens,” categories that account for 84% of journalists’ descriptions. Only about one-sixth of the reporters descriptions point out that the targets are either “U.S. citizens suspected of ties to al-Qaeda” or “suspected al-Qaeda operatives inside the U.S.”
More than two dozen people, including children, assembled in front of the Inquirer building this morning to protest the reprinting of a Danish cartoon that has sparked angry denunciations and demonstrations across the Muslim world."
The group carried signs with such messages as "No to Hate," "Peaceful Protest for Religious Tolerance," and "Distasteful Journalism."
Amanda Bennett, editor of The Inquirer, spoke to the group.
"I went out to talk to them, and told them that neither I nor the newspaper meant any disrespect to their religion or their prophet. I invited them to write their views for publication in our newspaper. Several people, both women and men, suggested that this might be the occasion to start a better dialogue between the paper and the Muslim community in the greater Philadelphia area. I agreed, and asked the leaders to contact me so that we could get a meeting together between members of their community and the newspaper."
Here CBS goes again. Today, with the aid of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on President Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, CBS’s The Early Show was able to once again focus on "domestic spying." Three times in the first 9 minutes of the 7:00 half hour, there was a mention of "domestic spying."
Harry Smith led off the broadcast at 7:00 with the following tease:
Harry Smith: "Good morning, I'm Harry Smith, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be on the hot seat today defending President Bush's highly controversialdomestic spying program at a Senate hearing, we'll have details."
One would hope and expect a liberal newspaper like the New York Times to have the meager virtue of consistency on matters of freedom of expression, particularly in defense of another newspaper. As the world now knows, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad last September, considered taboo (though not always recognized as such) by Muslims.
But Times reporter Craig Smith apparently found the cartoons themselves far more inflammatory than he did the actual rioting of Muslims burning embassies in Syria and Lebanon. Even the headline to his Sunday Week in Review story suggests the Danish newspaper's exercise of free speech was somehow irresponsible, likening it to pouring fuel on a flame: “Adding Newsprint to the Fire.”
Michael Hayden, Deputy Director of National Intelligence, appeared on both Fox News Sunday and This Week with George Stephanopoulos, but though at a Senate hearing just three days earlier Hayden and other intelligence officials had cited the potential damage caused by the New York Times story disclosing the program to eavesdrop on al-Qaeda communication inside the U.S., only Fox's Chris Wallace raised the subject. Stephanopoulos was more interested in himself as a potential victim of big brother: “Let me try to give you a hypothetical, see if you can answer it. I went to Pakistan after 9/11. I interviewed a Taliban representative. If after that interview, that person calls me, am I captured?” Wallace asked: "You and other top officials say that disclosure of this program has harmed national security. Do you mean that just in theory, or in fact? Has publication of the New York Times story, to the best of your reckoning, actually changed the way terrorists do business? Do you feel that they're acting differently since this story broke out?" Hayden would only say that the success of American intelligence “is not immune from the disclosure of its techniques and procedures to our enemy." (Brief transcripts follow.)
Today's Matt Lauer scored a Jerome Bettis-sized TD this morning by asking a question regarding the current Muslim rioting that was as unexpected as it was perspicacious. Meanwhile, former Clinton diplomat Bill Richardson offered the instinctive Democratic response to a threat to our security: bring on the UN!
Richardson, currently the New Mexico governor, described the grim state of the Muslim world: "I've never seen the situation so dire with with the threats from Iran, the victory of Hamas, the escape of Badawi in Yemen. This is a very dangerous situation. It seems that the Muslim world is exploding."
The Communist Backed group, The World Can't Wait, held an anti-Bush rally in DC yesterday. Stories carried by the Washington Post and the AP included a picture or two from the rally. Interestingly neither media organization bothered to include the photo of the protest sign depicting a beheaded President Bush. In light of the signs of protest against the Danish cartoons, it is a shame that the media refuses to cover the level of hatred against the President of the United States here in America.
The mainstream press absolutely refuses to cast the NSA terrorist surveillance program in anything other than a negative light. The latest example is this piece from Time Magazine. In addition to continued use of the adjective "domestic" when talking about international calls ("U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks about domestic wiretapping policies at Georgetown University"), the article focuses on AG Gonzales' expected testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary committee this coming week.
Specter's hearing, which is scheduled to last most of Monday, will focus on presidential powers in wartime and will examine whether Bush took legal shortcuts in implementing the program, which allows the National Security Agency to monitor communications involving suspected al-Qaeda members if one party to the conversation is inside the U.S. The program began soon after the Sept. 11 attacks and was exposed by the New York Times in December. Since then, lawmakers have complained that the administration's legal arguments are shaky, and have contended that briefings for the House and Senate intelligence committees were inadequate or misleading.
Hey, I'm a multi-culturalist. I'm happy to see people observing their various religious holidays, from Christmas to Chanukah to Ramadan. But somehow, my multicultural enthusiasms run out of steam when it comes to . . . condoning the sacking of foreign embassies.
Not Julian Phillips. The co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend blithely condoned the current rioting and burning of foreign embassies around the world by Muslims angered by depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. His explanation-by-way-of-excuse: "different religion, different culture."
In the course of the show's opening segment, Fox's Yasmina Ykelenstam reported live from Beirut, where rioters had set fire to the Danish embassy. She reported that there has been violence across the city, including at the Norwegian embassy, and cars smashed and burned. Back in the studio, Kiran Chetry reported that in Damascus, Syria, rioters had also set fire to the Danish embassy.
In an especially contentious exchange on this evening's Hannity and Colmes (Friday February 3, 2006), cantankerous cartoonist Ted Rall, a guest on the program, unbelievably declared, "We do not owe our liberties to the military." The topic was the recent Washington Post cartoon by Tom Toles that has outraged many. The cartoon prompted a letter to the editor (linked at Michelle Malkin) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who tagged the the work as "beyond tasteless." Needless to say, Rall (who himself has created bigoted trash in the past) defended Toles' cruel piece. Here's the relevant exchange (audiotape on file, emphasis mine):
SEAN HANNITY: Here's what you're missing. The reason that you have the right to be mean, and you were mean to this guy [killed in Afghanistan, former NFL star Pat] Tillman, who gave up a football contract to save his country. The reason you have the right to be mean in your cartoons, and Toles has a right to mean and insensitive in his cartoons, is because of people like this (Sean holds up the WaPo cartoon) that literally put their lives on the line so you have the right for free expression. And you insult them and use them as props so you can make your left-wing political points.
RALL: Sean, you could not possibly be more wrong about the nature of this country. We do not owe our liberties to the military. We owe them to the Constitution. We have civilian rule in the United States --
Let's give Today its due. It devoted extended coverage this morning to the growing nuclear threat from Iran. In Katie Couric's interview of Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, it was quickly established that Iran does indeed represent a serious danger. Much of the conversation involved a discussion of the various options - none of them ideal - to address the threat. One might argue that Haass' estimate that Iran remains five years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon is dangerously optimistic, but he did not attempt to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
But, inevitably, Katie turned the talk to what she deemed domestic spying, alternatively dubbing it, with a wry smile, "the terrorist surveillance program."
ABC and NBC, on Thursday night, didn’t find CIA Director Porter Goss’s lambasting of leakers and the news media, for publicizing secret information, very newsworthy. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer, however, noted that at a Senate hearing the intelligence officials who testified “seemed at one point as concerned about leaks to the news media as the nuclear threat" from Iran and CBS reporter David Martin pointed out how “the leak that dominated the hearing was the New York Times story about the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping on suspected al-Qaeda operatives inside the U.S.” Roberts also highlighted how “CIA Director Goss delivered a tirade against news leaks." But ABC’s World News Tonight ignored the topic completely, confining itself to an anchor-brief about testimony on the continuing threat from al-Qaeda, while NBC’s Andrea Mitchell allocated a mere eleven seconds to how the intelligence officials "claim the leaks about domestic eavesdropping have already disrupted valuable operations against terrorists," compared to nearly three times more time -- 29 seconds -- to how “Democrats were outraged that the administration still won't provide more details about its domestic spying" as well as how the administration won’t “say how many people are being wiretapped." (More of what Goss and Michael Hayden said, and newscast transcripts, follow.)
AFP (Agence France Presse) reports from Doha, Qatar, that President Clinton denounced the cartoons of Muhammad with a bomb for a hat and other "outrageous" cartoons. But Laura Ingraham made a good point today: why is he stumping for the Danish-flag-burning Islamic fanatics, feeling their pain, and having no comment on the Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles using our military amputees as a punch line? Here's a piece of the AFP report:
Former US president Bill Clinton warned of rising anti-Islamic prejudice, comparing it to historic anti-Semitism as he condemned the publishing of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.
The Boston Globe is not exactly breaking news on its front page this morning, running a story in which they found "legal specialists" who were willing to call the President a liar. This matches, of course, the general position of the Boston Globe on the Bush administration, so these specialists are credible and believable, and warrant front-page mention.
Legal specialists yesterday questioned the accuracy of President Bush's sweeping contentions about the legality of his domestic spying program, particularly his assertion in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that "previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have."
Blogger/syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is covering fallout from the Washington Post's decision to publish, on January 29, a cartoon by Tom Toles that appears to make light of the fact that some soldiers and Marines have suffered grievous combat injuries.
Michelle is providing her readers with a full copy of a letter to the Post sent January 31 by all six of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The letter reads, in part:
Liberals hate to be accused of having a pre-9/11 mentality. But how else can you describe it when two leading MSM lights dismiss the war on terror as a political ploy that President Bush has taken to "extremes"?
That's exactly what happened on this morning's Today show. Matt Lauer, conducting a SOTU post-mortem interview of Tom Brokaw, wrote off W's war on terror as a political tactic:
"The president talked about this fight against "radical Isam" [note that Lauer raised his hands, painting scare quotes in the air around the term] saying that the weapon they use in the fight is fear and that we cannot retreat, there's no peace in retreat. Is this an attempt in this divided nation to find some kind of term or idea that people can get united behind?"
In the article, "Sheehan Arrested in House Gallery", CNN.com completely ignored the facts of Cindy Sheehan's meeting with President Bush in June 2004. Instead of reporting Cindy's own words to David Henson, staff writer for the Vacaville Reporter, CNN relied on talking points from Cindy's public relations team.
According to CNN:
"Sheehan and other relatives of troops killed in Iraq met with Bush during a visit to Fort Lewis, Washington, in April 2004, shortly after Sheehan's son was killed. During that meeting with Bush, the President refused to look at pictures of Sheehan's son, didn't want to hear about him and 'didn't even know Casey's name'."
That is completely different from Cindy's personal account of her meeting with President Bush back in June 2004. Cindy was interviewed by David Henson and the archived article is posted online here. According to the Henson article, Cindy said "I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis." She went on to say, "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."
What do you get when you cross a so-called editorial cartoonist with a person that hates the Military, Republicans, President Bush and America? If you answered “Ted Rall”, you hit the nail on the head.
In his latest attempt at cartooning, called "Relative Moralism", Rall depicts two members of the military preparing for a remote missile launch. One of the soldiers voices concern about the innocent people that will be killed by the missile attack. The soldier with his finger on the button offers excuses for killing innocents such as their proximity to the bad guys. The same soldier then remarks that “those people don’t like us anyway. The more we kill the better.” In the final frame, Rall depicts two men with an obvious Middle Eastern appearance and turbans. One has a cell phone to his ear while the other voices concern about killing innocent people.
According to MSNBC blogger Eric Alterman, the U.S. detaining Iraqi women who may have information about suspected terrorists is very similar to the kidnaping of journalist Jill Carroll. Alterman, best known for writing books such as "What Liberal Media," wrote the following in his MSNBC blog on January 31st:
"I’d like to congratulate the Bush administration for having the good taste to not make too big a deal about the kidnaping of U.S. journalist Jill Carroll by Iraqi insurgents. Since the Bush administration is in the business of politically kidnaping innocent people too, including the wives of people it wants to surrender. I hate to say it because of all the baggage it carries but it reminds me of the deliberate murder of the innocent Ethel Rosenberg, to try to get a confession out of her husband." (Emphasis added)
On this morning's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts read a brief news item about the latest tape from al Qaeda's #2 terrorist, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The tape was produced and released in part as a response to the U.S. effort to kill al-Zawahiri with a Predator air strike on January 14th. Roberts description of that attempt was incomplete, inaccurate and echoed Zawahiri's own propaganda on the air strike.
Near 7:12AM, Robin Roberts: "The FBI is asking its field offices to review all cases in light of a new video from al Qaeda's number two man. On the tape, Ayman al-Zawahiri called President Bush a 'butcher' and a 'failure'. He referred extensively to the failed U.S. air strike which was meant for him but killed civilians instead."
Toggling between the Today show and Good Morning America this morning offered a perfect illustration of the very different treatment the MSM reserves for Republicans and Democrats.
At Today, Andrea Mitchell was painting a grim picture of President Bush's foreign policy record. Take the recent Hamas victory, for example, which Mitchell unequivocally labelled: "a disaster for the US peace plan."
In fact, reactions to the Hamas victory have been very mixed, with some seeing a significant silver lining, as in this column by conservative [and I might add Jewish] columnist Jeff Jacoby:
Democrats have figured out how to use the interwebs thingy. Staffers of Democrat representative Marty Meehan have gone into Wikipedia and removed all the (truthful) things they didn't like. Meanwhile, politicians wag a finger at Google for basically doing the exact same thing. You probably haven't heard anything about this story though because it was a Democrat and unless Karl Rove changes his Wikipedia entry it won't get much further than the Lowell Sun.
Bob Woodruff and his camera operator, Doug Vogt, were hit by an IED today while recording a stand-up. Godspeed to their recovery, but I have to wonder why this video hasn't aired yet. If it were anyone else it would be exploited with a constant loop. No doubt someone at ABC is rethinking the concept of privacy, unfortunately that concept of privacy will never be extended to any of us. While the impious media will probably plea for Woodruff and Vogt tonight, those of us with a soul will say a prayer for them.
Media darling and Court TV founder Steven Brill came out and said journalism school "is a giant waste of time." Huzzah.
Arianna is still taking shots at Tim Russert for being a pushover. NYDN would have you believe Russert blew a gasket, puffed up his chest and had his publicist send the NY Daily News a "ballistic email". The nearly too-hot-for-primetime email said "The last time we heard from Ms. Huffington, she was hiring private eyes to investigate reporters." Oooh, snap. Liberals can't even get along with themselves.
Couric did, however, spend over eight minutes of air time this morning searching for "the best pants for every behind," exploring "why some outfits make women's derrieres look too large," and letting female viewers know how to make the best of their butts.
Thanks, CJR, for pointing that out. I hadn't noticed in the last twenty years that The Today Show was filled with mindless nonsense stories.
If there was any doubt that the New York Times thoroughly despised President Bush, the last shreds were erased this morning. In an editorial entitled “Spies, Lies, and Wiretaps,” the Times presented a case against the Bush administration with similar gusto as it might attack an organized crime family and it’s Mafia Don. Assuming it had already received an indictment, the Times then prosecuted its case, and acted as both judge and jury to seal a conviction.
The piece began with a subtle reference to Woodward and Bernstein’s famous Watergate expose while sexistly ignoring the female members of the administration:
“A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.”
After these opening remarks, the prosecution built its case. It began by discrediting what it perceived was lie number one:
Remember the good old days, when Democrats and their friends in the MSM would regularly bash Republican administrations for doing business with less-than-democratic, even unsavory foreign governments and their leaders?
From the Shah of Iran, to Marcos in the Phillipines, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile and a variety of strong men, authoritarians and tinpots in between, liberals lambasted Republican presidents for "coddling dictators" and doing nothing to promote freedom and democracy.
It seems the MSM has overhauled its ordre du jour [to use a phrase one might hear in, oh, Davos, Switzerland]. At least when it comes to those 'furriners,' could it be that Democrats and their MSM buds suddenly aren't so keen on . . . democracy anymore?
Just when you thought the MSM elites couldn't get any more condescending . . .
Ellen Ratner pulled back the veil this morning and exposed what she and surely others in the liberal media think of their fellow Americans: we're just too damn dumb to understand how the Bush administration is abusing us. Her proposed solution? Democrats need to explain matters to us "in very simple terms."
Ratner's comments came at the end of this morning's "The Long & the Short of It" feature on Fox & Friends Weekend, in which Ratner regularly locks horns with conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton.
Pinkerton broached the NSA surveillance issue, asserting that it is playing very well for President Bush, and suggesting that "if the Dems were smart they'd be talking about Medicare and things like that but they can't get off their ACLU reflex."
Bob Schieffer mostly posed unobjectionable questions on the news of the day (Hamas, Iran, etc.) to President George W. Bush in an interview conducted Friday and then excerpted on the CBS Evening News. But he did pose three inquiries from the agenda of the left which caught my attention. Schieffer wanted to know, in reference to NSA eavesdropping, if Bush thinks “there is anything that a President cannot do, if he considers it necessary, in an emergency like this?" Raising “horror stories about torture,” Schieffer cited Hubert Humphrey in pressing Bush on whether he worries the U.S. is “losing the moral high ground in some way?" Moving on to dependence on foreign oil, Schieffer touted New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s advocacy of, in Schieffer's words, a “huge gas tax” because it’s “the only way to cause people to change their ways.” (Full quotations follow of these questions from Schieffer.)
The Denver Post editorial staff who attacked the NSA international intercept program yesterday probably think of themselves as bold crusaders for domestic civil rights. Unfortunately for them, they comes across as willfully ill-informed. Again.
President Bush launched a campaign-style offensive this week to defend his secret executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court warrants, on phone calls and Internet traffic in the United States.
His advisers hope the publicity blitz will impress the public in advance of Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday and upcoming congressional hearings on whether the president has the authority to order such surveillance.
Appearing on Keith Olbermann's Thursday January 26 Countdown show on MSNBC, while comparing President Bush's words on his NSA wiretapping program with Bill Clinton's "lying," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd made known her view that she found Bill Clinton's lying "poignant and endearing" because "when Bill Clinton would deceive, he would throw in a semantic clue that let you know he was deceiving." She further added that "He would let you know he was lying, and then the right wing would come down so hard on him and overpunish him." Regarding Bush's citation of Iraq's liberation as a major justification for the war in the absence of WMD, Dowd pontificated that "you cannot do things that start with a lie, and they just lead to trouble down the road."
The segment started as Olbermann brought aboard Dowd to discuss Oprah Winfrey's apology for pushing discredited author James Frey's fraudulent book. The Countdown host drew parallels between Oprah's apology on her show earlier in the day and Bush's almost simultaneous news conference to answer critics of his controversial NSA spying program. When Olbermann turned his attention to Bush's news conference, he implied that Bush should perhaps apologize for the NSA program: "Maureen, right now, we want to look at a televised event in which nothing close to an apology was even hinted at."
Despite the decision by the editors of CBSNews.com not to highlight the finding in a new CBS News/New York Times poll, of how 61 percent believe President Bush authorized wiretaps in order to “fight terrorism,” with just 29 percent saying he did it just to “expand the powers of the presidency,” on Thursday's CBS Evening News John Roberts alerted viewers to the finding. Roberts relayed: “On the NSA spying program, President Bush went into today's press conference with a boost. A new CBS News/New York Times poll found 61 percent of Americans believe the eavesdropping is meant to fight terror and the majority support that [53 percent back Bush authorizing wiretaps]." When Roberts ended his piece, anchor Bob Schieffer marveled at how “it looks to me as if the President has decided to make this a political issue to show that he is strong in the fight against terrorism and perhaps the Democrats are weak. And I must say, looking at that poll, he may be succeeding."
Just as the CBS Evening News went on the air in the East, CBSNews.com posted a rundown of the survey, “Poll: Bush's Approval Remains Low.” But it did not include any mention (and still does not as of 11pm EST) of the public backing for Bush on what the media have portrayed as scandalous illegality. Instead, the home page posting highlighted the findings on Bush's approval rating, the administration's plans for Katrina victims, the Iraq war, the Jack Abramoff case, rating of Congress and the condition of the health care system. An accompanying PDF of the complete poll results, “The Bush Presidency and the State of the Union: January 20-25, 2006,” included the NSA eavesdropping findings. (Partial transcript follows.)
Liberals twirl in circles of frustration that conservatives get a chance to speak their nonsense in news stories, that "objectivity" is merely a blend of sense and nonsense, information and misinformation. But on Hamas, liberal media outlets are routinely practicing senseless "objectivity," using distancing language that it is a group "described by U. S. authorities as a terrorist group." I suppose you could argue that "terrorism" is a very emotional word, but it also means something: the use of violence against innocent people to provoke political action through fear. That has been a trademark of Hamas, not a little problem on the fringes of the group. (If they blew up your children in a rocket attack, you might call them terrorists, too.)
Journalists ought to read through the 1988 Hamas charter and learn that these people believe that "jihad," or war on unbelievers (especially the Jews) is required by their religion. It can be argued that foregoing the T-word is edging into journalistic cowardice and inaccuracy. It's amazing that Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan and the other acclaimed "peacemakers" can't seem to read from Article 13: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.” But it gets stranger.