In an article on Fidel Castro, his health, and his visit from Venezuelan Fidel fan Hugo Chavez, the Associated Press noted that "birthday articles in state-run newspapers extolled his virtues." The implication is that state-controlled papers aren't apt to be truthful, much less objective.
So what's the AP's excuse? In the very same article, AP reporter Anita Snow informs us that:
"News of Castro's illness made Cubans uneasy about the future, but a series of upbeat statements from government officials have helped calm a public facing up to the mortality of the island's longtime leader. 'What happiness I received!' exclaimed resident Margot Gomez after seeing Sunday's newspaper during a morning walk in Havana. 'Long live Fidel and long live the revolution! He knows what to do to convert setbacks into victories!'
Last week, I documented here the way CNN leaned over backwards for balance in a story. In the wake of the Seattle Jewish Center shooting, it equated the fear of Jewish-Americans of similar incidents . . . with the fear of Hezbollah supporters of being unfairly accused.
Although it wasn't nearly so egregious, Fox News Channel's Anita Vogel [seen here in a file photo] just engaged in some over-reaching herself in the name of balance. She narrated an otherwise solid segment on 'fauxtography' and other ways in which the media and Hezbollah supporters manipulate the news. The segment included an interview with star blogger Charles Johnson, founder of Little Green Footballs, who played a key role in outing the smoky Beirut-skyline bit of fauxtography.
But then, searching for balance where there really is little or none to be had, Vogel claimed that the Israeli government also manipulates the news:
"But we need to keep in mind, there are other ways foreign governments control the media. The Israeli government exercises control over the media during wartime, like prohibiting them from reporting on real-time rocket strikes and places in northern Israel where officials are visiting due to safety concerns."
You wouldn't have known either their names or backgrounds had you relied on the Today show this morning for the information. According to the wife of one of the suspects, the men's families come from Jerusalem.
According to NBC reporter Janet Shamlian, who narrated a segment on the situation, those facing terrorism charges are "three Texas men."
Were New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert hangin' in the Hamptons this weekend? Exchanging ideas at a chic cocktail party with ocean views? You might think so, judging by their columns this morning in which they sound such similar themes.
Compare Krugman: "The Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited."
With Herbert: "Will [Americans] continue to fall for the political exploitation of their fears of terrorism?"
Other annotated excerpts, first from Herbert's column, Aiding Our Enemies [subscription required. Note to readers: despite my reluctance to patronize the NY Times, I broke down and subscribed over the weekends. I subscribe, read and report back, so you don't have to!]
"The catastrophic war in Iraq, which has caused the deaths of tens of thousands, was a strategic mistake of the highest magnitude. It diverted our focus, energy and resources from the real enemy, Al Qaeda and its offshoots."
You might have thought they had gone the way of the dodo bird. But as per a sighting on today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer web site, there are still defenders of communism out there in the Western press.
It doesn't take much to offend liberals' exquisite sensitivities. The latest? Referring to Islamofascists as . . . Islamofascists. Chris Matthews got the ball rolling on this evening's Hardball. But Charlie Rangel upped the ante to the max, managing to impugn Christians and Jews in the bargain. Fortunately, GOP Congressman Dan Lungren had the guts to call Rangel on it.
Matthews got things started by challenging Lungren: "Would you include Hezbollah in that group [of Islamofascists]? Would you include Hamas, they are they enemies of Israel. Are they also enemies of ours? Are they also fascists because they have a dispute with Israel? Anybody who is against us is a fascist now."
Rangel sent things to the moon a bit later with this line: "You take Islamic and you call them fascists, you call them radical. You never called Hitler a Christian fascist. This is insulting to an entire religion."
Apparently stung by criticism of his comments on last night's Hardball, Brian Williams has responded with a clarification at the Daily Nightly, the in-house blog of the NBC Nightly News. In doing so, Williams seems to have coined a new phrase, claiming to have been 'aggressively misunderstood' by his critics.
As noted here, on last evening's 7 PM Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Williams about the latest terror plot members who were "people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us."
Responded Williams: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Shortly after 9:00 this morning, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer introduced a report on the potential political ramifications of plot that was foiled by the British yesterday. Her introduction was questionable, but not necessarily offensive:
Here we are, a day after this plot's uncovered, and already the focus has turned to politics, and who gets the credit for this terror bust, and was it the US War on Terror?
MSNBC reporter Kevin Corke then reported from Texas. He had some political analysis, all of which was fairly straightforward and non-controversial. He reported on the President's comments from yesterday, and the fact that he's been in pretty constant contact with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At no point during the report did he report on the President doing, or quote the President, or any member of his administration saying, anything that could be construed as a partisan political statement. Nothing. It was a straight news report, and everything that was reportedly said or done was related strictly to the arrests and the ongoing war.
It comes like a punch to the gut, at times like these, when our leaders blatantly use the nation’s trauma for political gain.
Profound words, from the NY Times. And, of course, we all remember when they said that. They've pointed out how the Democrats have attempted to use the trauma of every dead American soldier for political gain. They've criticized John Kerry and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. They've excoriated John Murtha and Ned Lamont. Attempting to score political points on the flag-draped coffins of American servicemen. It's reprehensible behavior, and the NY Times has rightly called them on it.
Oh, wait - no they haven't. As a matter of fact, if memory serves, they've actually played that same tune themselves. So, what, exactly, are they talking about in this editorial today? Who do they think is "blatantly us[ing] the nation's trauma for political gain" if it's not the Ned Lamonts of the left? Why, it's Ned Lamont's opponent, Joe Lieberman!
Those burly hawks of the Boston Globe are at it again. With a Landis-like testosterone rush, the Globe's editorial this morning, Tarring the majority, rips George H.W. Bush for failing to have taken out Saddam at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm. Or as the Globe so sneeringly put it:
"The weakling-in-chief who failed to oust Saddam Hussein in 1991 was not a Democrat but the first President George Bush."
Yes, we all remember those rousing Globe editorials urging the first war against Iraq. And who can forget the glorious martial strains of its editorial opus "On to Baghdad!" at war's end? Or not.
Brian Williams of "NBC Nightly News" surely intended to praise the heroism and selflessness of our various service people. But he employed at best an awkward, at worst an inappropriate and offensive manner of doing it.
On this evening's 7 PM ET edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews mused about the UK-born terrorists whose plot was foiled today:
"Here we have maybe 24 people who have lived in London and England and the free world for all these years that become citizens, subjects of the Crown, and, yet, after having gotten to know us, they want to kill themselves to hurt us. Isn't that an even deeper conundrum here than the chemicals being used in these attacks?"
Williams [appearing from London's Heathrow airport]: "And that, Chris, that last aspect, the willingness to take one's own life -- I always tell people there are guys on our team like that, too. They're called Army Rangers and Navy Seals and the Special Forces folks and the first responders on 9/11 who went into those buildings knowing, by the way, they weren't going to come out. So we have players like that on our team."
Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.
Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):
Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
There is a noteworthy MSM tendency to downplay the gravity of terrorist acts by suggesting that they are local, home-grown incidents rather than forming part of international conspiracies. A recent example was the MSM's treatment of the Seattle Jewish center shootings in which a Muslim-American killed one woman and injured several others.
To his credit, NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey wouldn't let Matt Lauer sing that song when he tried it on this morning's Today show in connection with the just-disclosed plot to blow up in mid-Atlantic flights originating in the UK.
Tucker Carlson stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jewish. But he did let us know that "I love Israel, I think it's a wonderful place, I support it completely, I support it instinctively."
That was just before he declared that "I think this war helps Hezbollah. I think it's bad for Israel, bad for the United States. I think you can love Israel and believe this war is a disaster."
And it was just afterhe criticized President Bush for being too pro-Israel.
Carlson turned to Bill Press, his guest on this afternoon's Tucker show on MSNBC, observing:
"You never hear Democrats point out that Bush is not even-handed in the Middle East. You almost never hear anybody criticize the President for taking the side of Israel to the extent that he alienates the Arab world completely. Why doesn't anybody ever mention that?"
The former chairman of the California Dem party gave a response suggesting he might be a proud graduate of the Pat Buchanan 'Amen Corner' School of Foreign Policy:
Howard Dean's 2004 presidential primary run was largely fueled by internet-driven support orchestrated by campaign manager Joe Trippi. That campaign fell famously short in the echoes of Dean's Iowa caucus-night scream. But with Ned Lamont's win, the left wing blogosphere can this morning claim perhaps its first major victory . . . at least in a Democratic primary if not in a general election.
And that, in turn, raises the real question. Does the same left-wing blogosphere that can influence the outcome of Dem primaries foist on the party candidates so extreme that they stand little chance of winning in November? We are about to see a test case in CT, and indications are that by appealing to moderate Dems and Republicans, Joe Lieberman might well defeat Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger [perceived as a less-than-A-list candidate].
Bring back Katie! OK, perhaps that's not the solution, but the sycophantish display that Ann Curry put on for Queen Noor and her anti-Israel/pro-Hezbollah views was enough to make you pound the TV screen in frustration.
Noor is a Princeton-educated Arab-American who is the widow of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Curry's opening set the tone. Rather than asking a probing question, Ann invited Noor to lecture America: "what insights might you offer America about what Hezbollah wants and what it's willing to do to get it?"
Noor blamed the Jews and lauded Hezbollah: "Hezbollah was created as was Hamas in the Palestinian territories during a period of Israeli occupation which is on-going in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. Hezbollah was largely responsible and credited by the Lebanese for having creating the pressure for having Israel withdraw from Lebanese territory."
Curry took Noor's notion a grotesque step further: "So it's almost seen as a savior."
Elian Gonzalez sent a note Sunday wishing a speedy recovery to "my dear grandpa Fidel," ...Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle with family members in Miami six years ago, published a letter in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde signed with "little kisses" from him and his half-siblings and cousins.
"We send you this letter to let you know that we are worried about your health," Elian, now 12, wrote. "We hope for your speedy recovery and take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, may you have many more."
Ashamed of their sins at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans were actually awaiting payback along the lines of 9/11. You say you were unaware of any such feelings? That's only because your feeling was 'subliminal.' Your shame was 'unconscious.' Well, that, or the fact that you just don't have the same exquisitely refined sensibilities of Boston Globe columnist James Carroll.
Four states, four regions, four local authors giving folksy, personalized takes on the candidates and the issues. You can't knock the Times' choice of format for giving readers a sense of Senate races across the country. But when it came to substance, it soon became clear that just beneath the authors' fly-over state surface lay Upper West Side attitude.
Setting the tone, author Deirdre McNamer might have found the only farm equipment store manager in Montana who makes "taking care of the homeless" his first priority. The Dem candidate's barber was also brought in to accuse the Republican in the race of "lies [and] cheap shots," complaining for good measure about money spent on the Iraq war.
"Most Cubans have insisted that they are sure Castro will recover and that the government will function fine until then. But others have privately expressed worries that their leader may be more sick than the world knows."
At CNN, the moral relativism never ends. In the wake of shootings by a Muslim at a Seattle Jewish center that left one person dead and others injured, CNN somehow managed to equate the fears of American Jews that there could be other such incidents . . . with the fears of American supporters of Hezbollah.
The focus of the 'Safe at Home?' segment narrated by CNN's Kelli Arena on today's Saturday Morning show was indeed the aftermath of that Seattle shooting, and how Jewish groups around the country are expressing fears and taking precautions.
But you could almost hear the CNN producer's gears grinding: "Wait! We can't have a segment that focuses exclusively on Jewish fears. Quick: get me some balance!" What CNN came up with was an interview with Rami Nuseir, an Arab-American activist.
CNN's Arena started the relativistic slide by claiming that the FBI's program of reaching out to Arab-American leaders for help in identifying potential threats has 'backfired': "Arab-Americans feel as though they are constantly under suspicion."
Was Matt Lauer showing balance in criticizing Hillary Clinton along with Donald Rumsfeld this morning - or was his skepticism about Hillary simply voicing the view of the Murtha/Lamont wing of the Dem party?
Interviewing all-purpose commentator Howard Fineman, Lauer seemed insistent that it was time for Rumsfeld to go.
Lauer: "[Clinton] said the president should accept Rumsfeld's resignation. He lost credibility with Congress and the people. It's time for him to step down. This is not the first person to call for his resignation, but at some point, do you think it's a possibility especially in the near term?"
Fineman held his fire: "Well, the Democrats will try to make it that."
It's become a punchline: Sure, Fidel forces champions of democracy to rot in prison. Yes, his kleptocracy-called-communism has empoverished the masses while enriching the elite. OK, he did permit the Soviets to install nuclear weapons pointed at us. But - altogether now - THEY HAVE FREE HEALTHCARE IN CUBA!
You'd think the Boston Globe would be embarrassed to sing that song. But apparently the MSM are beyond shame. Here's what the Globe had to say in its editorial of this morning, On Cuba, Try Kindness:
"Cuba is justifiably proud of its healthcare system."
A wave of New Testament fever seems to be gripping liberal media types. As reported here, during a recent Good Morning America, Chris Cuomo stated that the Gospel of John identifies Qana as the place where Jesus turned water into wine. Who would have imagined that Adam Shatz - of the far-left Nation magazine - would be a New Testament maven? But, saints alive, he leads his op-ed in today's LA Times with the very same story.
What could account for this new-found interest in the New Testament? You don't suppose it could have anything to do with a desire to add fuel to the anti-Israel fire in the wake of its bombing of Qana, do you?
Tim Russert used his Today show appearance this morning to paint a bleak tour d'horizon of Bush foreign policy, expressing the fond wish - in guise of a question - that the American people might come to their senses and throw the bums out at the mid-term elections.
Interviewed by co-host Campbell Brown, Russert first asked: "What's the end game? The concern among Republicans I've talked to is how are the American people viewing this? Is this blind allegiance to Israel or is this standing by the only ally we have in the region? They don't know how much longer there will be patience with the American people."
Russert later made the electoral connection, after casting matters in their darkest light. Rather than speaking of nascent democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the current opportunity to defang Hezbollah, Russert portrayed things this way:
When the Allies faced fascist foes in WWII, they called for unconditional surrender. Confronted today by the new face of facism, the Boston Globe calls for 'unconditional, immediate cease-fire.'
By its editorial of this morning, the Globe would reward Hezbollah for its barbarous use of human shields. On the one hand, it acknowledges that the terror group 'has placed its rocket-launchers . . . unconscionably close to settled areas.' But since the result are the very civilian casualties that Hezbollah was looking to provoke, the Globe criticizes the Bush administration for its 'failure to restrain Israel.'
NBC reporter Richard Engel sure has some severely selective sources. On the one hand, he's overflowing with information reinforcing the image of Hezbollah as a kindly humanitarian organization that was providing "supplies and relief" to the residents of Qana. On the other hand, he has "no evidence" that Hezbollah was using Qana residents as human shields for purposes of launching rockets.
Engel reported live from Tyre in southern Lebanon during this afternoon's 'The Most' on MSNBC, with host Alison Stewart. Speaking of events in Qana, Engel claimed:
"I got no indication [the people of Qana] were being held against their will. Just the opposite, it seemed Hezbollah was helping these people, providing them with food and water. These were some of the [poorest] people in the town, those with money had already left. They were staying in this section of town because there was food and water. Hezbollah were giving them supplies and relief."
There was a feeling of surreality this morning in watching the segment on Good Morning America. There was Chris Cuomo [son of Dem ex-NYS Gov. Mario, brother of Andrew, current Dem candidate for NYS Attorney General] chatting with former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos.
Was this an ABC 'news' interview between two of its employees - or had I mistakenly tuned to a CSPAN broadcast of a DNC coffee klatsch?
Cuomo had a fine line to walk. With brother Andy running for office in New York, being too critical of Israel could be impolitic. Chris focused on what came naturally: accusing the Bush administration of 'failure.'
Cuomo's opening question for Stephanopoulos: "The Secretary [of State Condi Rice] is in the air and she's heading to the U.N. Was this situation a failure for her and what needs to change when she hits the ground?"