Especially on Martin Luther King Day, it seems worth asking whether or not the assassinated civil rights leaders would have cared more about:
Whether a talk radio host told his audience, in reference to the No Child Left Behind Act causing many school districts, including the Toledo Public Schools (TPS), to believe they must "teach to the test" to avoid serious sanctions: "teaching little monkeys to peel bananas and so on and then doing it correctly on cue, does not mean that they’ve learned everything except a funny parlor trick."
The fact that TPS is rated dead-last in its metro area, and failed to meet state test-result requirements in 21 of 24 testing categories in the 2009-2010 academic year. The worst examples: In the eighth grade, only 39.0% and 34.3% of TPS students tested as proficient in math and science, respectively. According to Toledo-area blogger and sometime WSPD host Maggie Thurber, the District is also "facing a $38 million deficit and ... 58% of voters said no to their last levy request."
I think it's safe to say that King would have preferred that attention stay focused on dealing with Toledo's schools, and for that matter Ohio's schools in general, as according to the just referenced Ohio Department of Education (ODE) report card, TPS actually outperformed (actually, "less underperformed") "similar districts" in the Buckeye State in 15 of those 24 categories.
But that must not be how the Toledo Blade sees it. The far left Blade, which in distant-past editorials regaled readers with its indispensable importance as a Glass City civic institution and has been in a figurative war with local talk station WSPD for years, clearly thought it saw an opening when host Brian Wilson said the following on January 7:
"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" must be the motto at Reuters, or at least of the wire service's Richard Cowan, three other contributors, and Editor Jackie Frank.
Cowan's late Sunday afternoon dispatch (HT to an e-mailer) is caricature-driven collection of cliches, half-truth, outright myths, and totally predictable oversights. There's the racial slurs before the heath care vote fabrication. There's an attempt to declare Sarah Palin unfit for the presidency.
And of course, there's the deliberately avoided recall of rhetoric from President Obama (here and here, for warm-ups) that could certainly be interpreted by unstable people as a call to violence, as well as total omission of the left's anger just days ago over Gabrielle Giffords's refusal to back Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader and the leftist inclinations of deeply troubled accused murderer Jared Lee Loughner.
But that stuff's not important when there are disliked right-wingers to pile onto while the piling-on opportunity is there:
To those who have spent time following new reports emanating from the Associated Press, it's not exactly a secret that many of the alleged journalists who work there are having difficulty with the idea that there will be a new Republican majority in the House during the next two years. A further annoyance is that many members of that majority, especially the newer ones, hold sensible, Constitution-based views inspired by Tea Party movement. But as supposed professionals, you would think that the folks at the wire service might try a little harder to avoid blatantly revealing their bias.
If the AP's Julie Pace was really trying to stay within the bounds of the patently obvious, she failed miserably, as the bolded words in the following paragraph from her 2:31 p.m. report (also saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) on President Obama's decision to delay submitting a budget to Congress until mid-February indicate:
(first listing) "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero."
(third listing) "necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure."
One thus has to take the following sentence, the first in James's report, as a virtually explicit expression of admiration for the latest authoritarian moves by the country's "El Presidente," Hugo Chávez:
Did you know that the "big new tax law" signed by President Obama yesterday "will save taxpayers, on average, about $3,000 next year," and that it will have "tax breaks for being married, having children, paying for child care, going to college or investing in securities"?
Don't spend that extra $3,000 yet, because it mostly won't be there. With the only major exception being the 2-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, and of course barring new legislation the next Congress may take on, the tax laws for the next two years will essentially be the same as they have been since 2003, when Congress lowered marginal income, capital gain, and dividend income tax rates.
This lack of major change didn't stop the Ministry of Propaganda -- er, the Associated Press -- and reporter Stephen Ohlemacher from calling the new legislation "the most significant new tax law in a decade," when there's almost nothing "new" about it, or from trumpeting how much certain American families will "save" as a result.
Maybe we need to add the word "Palinography" to the dictionary. Its definition would be: "The process of preparing news photographs and accompanying captions about Sarah Palin in a deliberately negative light."
One example many will likely remember involved the amateurish wire service shoes-and-calves-only photos frequently seen during Palin's vice-presidential run.
I do hope that Associated Press reporters Arthur Max and Charles J. Hanley are finding some recreational time while they are reporting from Cancun about what's happening at the "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."
The pair's bosses ought to be asking them how much real attention they are paying to the festivities since they began. For example, as far as I can tell from two reports by Mr. Max (here and here), he seems to have missed the opening prayer to the pagan goddess Ixchel; Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters took note of it from thousands of miles away. We'd understand if you were really at the beach, Arthur.
Good Morning America's Claire Shipman on Thursday tried to disguise a Democratic activist as just a jobless American who would be hurt by Republican failure to extend unemployment benefits. Shipman sympathetically recounted that Edrie Irvine, who she didn't explain spoke at a Nancy Pelosi press conference on Wednesday, "never thought her very livelihood would depend on a political debate in Congress."
A graphic reading "unemployed" appeared onscreen as Irvine complained, "They are talking about tax cuts for the rich and are holding people like me hostage." Who is Ms. Irvine? According to her bio on the leftist Democracy For America web page, she's a "tree-hugging, bleeding-heart, ACLU-card-carrying progressive liberal and damn proud of it!"
On December 1, Irvine appeared with Nancy Pelosi at a press conference. Pelosi enthused, "Thank you very much, Edrie, for your generosity of spirit to share your personal story with us." On October 2, Irvine also appeared at the liberal One Nation rally and spoke. (One Nation was coordinated by the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, among others.) Shouldn't Shipman have mentioned any of this?
This would be really funny if it weren't for the fact that so many supposedly informed people, including our president and those who surround him, may actually buy into ideas being proposed at the United Nations-sponsored Cancun climate conference, and will relish the means by which they could be put into place.
At the UK Telegraph today, environment correspondent Louise Gray feeds us the following headline and sub-headline:
Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world
Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.
From all appearances, such rationing would last at least two decades, during which there would be, by design, no economic growth. Zero, zip, nada.
Here are selected paragraphs from Gray's grouse (bolds and number tags are mine):
MSNBC's prime-time "town hall" on immigration reform yesterday exemplified one of the more unseemly elements of media bias: brazen political advocacy disguised as an "honest conversation."
Attempting to pass itself off as a forum for voices on all sides of the immigration issue to elevate the dialogue, "Beyond Borderlines" featured droves of liberal guests who dismissed, admonished, and overwhelmed only token conservative opposition.
From the outset of the program, conservative guests were disadvantaged and drowned out. The "conversation," which touched on a wide-range of issues related to immigration reform, was steered by hosts Lawrence O'Donnell, who is a self-described socialist, and Maria Teresa Kumar, who is executive director of Voto Latino, a liberal immigration reform group.
Mike Cutler, one of the few guests who offered a contrasting perspective on the issue, was repeatedly attacked by Kumar, who oscillated between the conflicting roles of questioner and answerer, and the other panelists.
On Sunday, NBC Universal launched its annual "Green Week," as part of the company's "Green is Universal" environmental awareness campaign.
As NBC embarks on yet another week of "environmentally themed programming," it falls to media watchdogs to point out the massive conflict presented by NBC parent company General Electric's significant financial interests in the policies "Green Week" indirectly advances.
GE stands to make millions from Democrats' "clean energy" agenda. The company has invested massive amounts of money in technology that can only be profitable through government intervention or subsidization.
MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann indefinitely … after news broke that he had given the maximum allowable contribution to three Democrats without disclosing it to his employers.
With Olbermann out, MSNBC needed a fill-in, so in steps Chris Hayes, editor of the liberal magazine, The Nation. MSNBC pegged Hayes to fill in for the suspended Countdown host on Friday. His gig was short-lived however.
Several hours after the announcement, Hayes had been dropped. (h/t Weasel Zippers)
For a series of donations to Democratic campaigns in recent years.
Here's the story, as relayed by Big Gov's Publius (HT Dan Riehl):
... (A) voice mail message was inadvertently left on the cell phone of Joe Miller campaign spokesperson Randy DeSoto.
The voices are believed to be those of the news director for CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA, along with assignment editor Nick McDermott, and other reporters, openly discussing creating, if not fabricating, two stories about Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller.
At the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, J.P. Freire reminds us of a dark chapter in American history. Freire draws some strong parallels to today's debate over foreign influences in American elections.
But the story itself is incredible. According to an internal KGB memo discovered by reporters in the 1990s, the late Senator Edward Kennedy colluded with the Soviet Union to undermine President Reagan's foreign policy efforts.
There is a simple explanation for President Obama's dismal approval ratings, but ABC's George Stephanopoulos fails to comprehend it. Appearing on the October 13 "O'Reilly Factor," the former Clinton adviser peddled multiple theories to explain Obama's unpopularity, but neglected to consider the possibility that the president has simply failed to connect with the general public.
"As far as the problem with Democrats, they're upset about the economy, but he has also got a problem with liberals, who wish he would have done more on issues like gays in the military, on health care, on other issues," asserted Stephanopoulos.
The argument that Obama's approval rating is suffering because his policies have not been liberal enough shows just how disconnected this political flak-turned-journalist is with the public he ostensibly serves. Obama's approval rating is not hovering around 43 percent, as the latest Reuters poll indicates, because liberal activists, who represent a small percentage of the population, have been abandoning the president in droves. Rather, Obama is floundering because his support among independents and swing-voters has evaporated. In that same poll, according to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Obama has a 33 percent approval rating among Ohio voters.
On Sunday, New York Times labor-beat reporter Steven Greenhouse attended the left-wing “One Nation” rally for “Liberal Groups rally in Washington, Offering a Challenge to the Tea Party.” Unusually, Greenhouse led off with a specific (and rather generous) crowd estimate of “tens of thousands,” something the paper was unwilling to do for larger rallies held in D.C. by the Tea Party and talk show host Glenn Beck. (Kate Zernike and Carl Hulse referred to the crowd at Beck's rally as "enormous" at the top of an August 29 story.)
The Associated Press wasn’t as impressed as Greenhouse with the "One Nation" crowd size, finding only “Thousands of people” and admitting: “While the Beck rally stretched well down the National Mall, Saturday's event was shaping up to be far smaller, with sparse groups lingering around the reflecting pool and other monuments.”
Reason.com has comparison photos that, with some caveats, show a vastly larger crowd for Beck’s August 28 rally than for the “One Nation” rally on Saturday.
Here’s Greenhouse’s snappy lead:
Tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and peace activists rallied at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, seeking to carry on the message of jobs and justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trumpeted at a rally at the same site 47 years ago.
As part of its week-long special report on "Big Green," the Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott wrote a piece detailing the cozy relationship - often brushing right up against unethical - between journalists, policymakers, and environmental advocacy groups.
The Examiner raises serious ethical concerns regarding a 2003 article in U.S. News and World Report that, according to Tapscott, continues to influence policy concerning the nation's fisheries.
The article, written by reporter Thomas Hayden, warns that "fish stocks are dangerously overexploited" and at risk due to commercial fishing. But nowhere in the article did Hayden disclose that he two of the primary sources for the had recently returned from a Carribean junket funded by a leading organization in the push for stricter environmental regulations, including on commercial fisheries. Nor did he mention that another 11 sources cited in the article received funding from that same organization.
If there is an example of anyone who has overseen a bigger audience decline and loss of competitive position and survived so long, I don't know who he or she is. Fox News, which first passed CNN in total viewers in January 2002 (interesting how this basic factoid is not at Fox's Wiki entry), now routinely trounces CNN and CNN Headline combined by a factor of 1.5 to 1 or more. On Thursday, Fox's primetime audience of 574,000 was 75% greater than the CNN pair's combined total of 329,000.
But before he arrived at CNN to do his damage, Klein inadvertently did the nation a service.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and guest Laura Ingraham on Sept. 23 highlighted the left's latest line of attack on Tea Parties: that they're crazy. Ingraham characterized the attacks as an attempt to distract from the liberal record and said the critique "doesn't work."
"As you may know, the Tea Party was racist for about six months as the far left tried to demonize the movement," O'Reilly said when introducing the broadcast's "Top Story" segment. "But now things have changed; the Tea Party is simply ‘crazy.'"
He showed clips from a report by the MRC's Culture and Media Institute illustrating liberal commentators and journalists attaching the "crazy" label to Tea Parties and Tea Party candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and others.
Ingraham suggested "the critique doesn't work" because more Americans are in line with the Tea Party's views than with the liberal establishment.
Summer's over. It's after Labor Day. The kids are back in school. People are back into their routines. The trouble for the Big 3 broadcast networks is that those routines don't include watching their early-evening newscasts.
Beyond that, last week was a pivotal week in Campaign 2010, with key primaries in New York, Delaware, New Hampshire, and several other states. As far as I know, Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, and Katie Couric were firmly ensconced in their anchor chairs all week long.
With all that, the Big 3 Nets' audience for the week was less than 20 million, almost 5% lower than the same week a year ago, when there were no key election races. The Big 3 are not recovering from what was an awful summer.
Are the three news networks actively working to defeat the Republican candidate for Governor in Wisconsin? According to the far-left Service Employees International Union, yes, they most certainly are.
SEIU spokesman John-david Morgan - also, incidentally, a former journalist - told a staffer (audio embedded below the fold) for GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker that local media affiliates for all three major networks were "willing partners" in the union's efforts to defeat Walker. The staffer gave a fake name and recorded the conversation without Morgan's knowledge.
"They've really been willing partners in it," Morgan told the staffer. "They come in with the TV cameras, and [channels] 58, 12 come, and 6 doesn't always. But, yeah, they've been really helpful. They think it's fun." Channels 58 and 12 are Milwaukee's CBS and ABC affiliates, respectively. "It's not perfect," Morgan added, but "they get our message across."
I didn't know about what follows when I posted last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on Atlantic politics editor and CBS Campaign 2010 "Chief Political Consultant" Marc Ambinder's September 15 prediction that "The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging." Though drop-dead obvious, I still found it interesting that someone in Ambinder's position would admit it.
It turns out that only two days after Ambinder put forth his prediction, he proactively made it come true.
Despite the inquisitive title of his September 17 post ("Will the White House Play the Palin Card?"), Ambinder clearly believes that going after Sarah Palin should be part of the White House's and Democrats' strategy during the next seven weeks.
It's enough to make you wonder if he has already written his CBS election post-mortems. Behold Ambinder's cluelessness:
In a September 15 post-primary item at the Atlantic ("An Epic End to the Primaries: What It Means"), politics editor Marc Ambinder presented seven "different ways to look at the primaries of September 14, 2010."
His final item reads as follows (bold is mine):
7. The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells, a party that wants to take away your Social Security and your right to masturbate. Well, maybe not that last part, but then again, the implicit message of the party is that the GOP is about to elect a slate of hard social rightists to Congress.
The bolded text is an obvious point to anyone with even the most rudimentary powers of observation, but it's a pretty interesting admission nonetheless. That's especially true because Ambinder is a bona fide member of the media. Indeed, he's a self-admitted Journolist member who despite (or perhaps because) of that involvement has a specific assignment involving covering this fall's elections.
A UK Independent item about an unreleased book by historian Frank Dikötter made me think about New York Times columnist NIcholas Kristof. Readers will see why shortly.
Amazon says that Dikötter's "Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962" will be released on September 28. The Independent's Arifa Akbar relays Dikötter's core conclusion that "At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years." This is a significantly higher number than the highest previous estimate of Jung Chang, who asserted in her 2005 book, "Mao: The Unknown Story," that "38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61." The seven million extra deaths would move Chang's 2005 total of "more than 70 million" into the neighborhood of 80 million, padding Mao's lead over Stalin and Hitler as the worst mass murderer in human history.
The Independent's Akbar also writes that "Mr. Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago." If true, this reflects a startling lack of curiosity.
I hope Nick Kristof is just a little curious, and will peruse what Mr. Dikötter has documented when it becomes available. Perhaps it will move him to reach conclusions a bit different from those he reached when he reviewed Chang's book in October 2005 (bolds are mine):
It's almost tempting to just run a few paragraphs of Kate Zernike's latest item in the New York Times and simply have folks take their rips, but a bit of background would be helpful.
Zernike (pictured at right) is the Times reporter who seems to have made it her mission to somehow singlehandedly discredit what may when all is said and done come to be seen as the most significant grass-roots movement in America in a long, long time. Earlier today, Clay Waters at NewsBusters reviewed Zernike's new book, "Boiling Mad -- Inside Tea Party America," noted that she "evinces little sympathy or feel for conservative concerns," and is intent on "finding racism everywhere she looks in Tea Party land."
In a late March post (at NewsBusters; BizzyBlog), I noted a Zernike item ("With No Jobs, Plenty of Time for Tea Party") which cynically questioned "whether the movement can survive an improvement in the economy, with people trading protest signs for paychecks."
This is the same Kate Zernike Andrew Breitbart memorably called “a despicable human being” after she claimed to have found racism that really didn't exist at CPAC in February.
With that background, the paragraphs that follow from Kate's latest calamity won't surprise anyone too much, but they will as usual disappoint if you're foolishly expecting anything resembling fair treatment (bold as mine):
In general, there are two major sides to the tax cut debate.
One believes that Americans are entitled to keep what they earn, but that they cede some money to the government with the understanding that funding is necessary to enable the state to safeguard citizens' rights - the state's most fundamental function.
The opposing side holds, in short, that Americans are entitled to their wealth only to the extent that the rule of the majority - i.e. the government - allows them to keep it.
The Washington Post has apparently adopted and endorsed this latter view, also known as liberal tax policy, not only in its editorial stance, but throughout its "straight news" reporting operation.
WaPo reporter Lori Montgomery, for instance, believes that every dollar not collected in taxes is a dollar of which the federal government has been "deprived." Or, put another way in her Wednesday article, she rejects the notion that every dollar collected in taxes is a dollar of which taxpayers have been deprived:
Outrage over political donations by Fox News's parent company News Corp. always seemed like a bit of a stretch when it implied that those contributions affected Fox's political coverage.
Many news media outlets are owned by larger companies. Those companies' activities don't ipso facto affect news coverage at their media subsidiaries. So when NewsBusters pointed out that 88 percent of political donations from employees of the three TV news networks went to Democrats, it was really just to note the double standard at work (surely, numerous employees have nothing to do with the news operations).
New data revealed by the Center for Responsive Politics, however, suggests a real bias at play. According to Megan [spelling corrected - Ed.] Wilson, who writes for the Center's site OpenSecrets.org, 65 percent of donations from 235 self-identified journalists have gone to Democrats this cycle.
During his rant, Democrat Strickland denounced the Republican Party as "overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals"; claimed that "they don’t seem to like Ohio very much, and quite frankly, they act as if they don’t like America very much," in essence questioning their patriotism; and asked the audience to help him fight "the Tea Party radicals."
The fallout has apparently been so severe that ever-helpful veteran Columbus Dispatch reporter, senior editor, and columnist Joe Hallett felt compelled on Thursday to try to help the Governor walk it all back. In an exchange that can only be seen as Hallett begging for Strickland to give him something, anything to work with, Strickland wasn't very helpful, bogusly played the "out of context" card, and in a very real sense doubled down on his disrespect for those who oppose him. He even went into a riff on how opponents (in context, "Republicans," not just "some Republicans") want to repeal the 14th amendment (huh?).
The full 11:36 video of Strickland's discussion with reporters is here (originally posted at the Ohio Capital Blog); the RGA's 2:04 excerpt featuring Hallett is here (HT RightOhio). What follows is a transcript of the excerpt:
Mr. Slater (picture at right is from his Facebook page) is the JetBlue flight attendant who reportedly "grabbed the plane's intercom and made an expletive-laced speech, grabbed a beer from the galley, opened the door and slid down the emergency evacuation chute." Slater was charged with "criminal mischief and reckless endangerment."
Three weeks ago (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press writer Samantha Gross rhapsodized over how Slater's actions had fulfilled "a working man's fantasy ... rekindled memories of workers' liberation ... (and) sparked wistful excitement among workers who have long fantasized of choosing pride over pay."
Before getting to the AP's latest sympathetic piece, let's take a look at something originally associated with a magazine report about Slater that is not currently present in that story.
They'll have all sorts of excuses (but only if asked) about why it happened: It's because they had a lot of guest anchors last week, it was hot, summer vacation season is still on (though lots of kids around in Greater Cincinnati were already back in school by last Wednesday), cable is killing us, blah-blah, etc., etc.
But the Big Three networks won't be able to avoid the fact that their ongoing decline reached a painful low last week of 18.82 million average viewers. Here is the graphic that appeared this morning at ABC's lipstick-on-a-pig blog post:
I don't know whether that's an all-time low, but Kevin Allocca at Media Bistro, who hadn't posted the full numbers as of the time of this post, has noted that one of those networks indeed scraped bottom last week: