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:
Don't they usually wait until after Labor Day to do this?
Ten days ago, I asserted that that the administration's cynical use of Andy Griffith for a patently political promo on behalf of Medicare ("This year, as always, we’ll have our guaranteed benefits, and with the new healthcare law, more good things are coming: free check-ups, lower prescription costs") was "the foundation for the biennial Democratic scare-the-seniors campaign."
Well, the Social Security portion of that scare campaign kicked in this morning.
President Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to glorify Social Security's accomplishments (he "somehow" forgot to mention the program's $7.7 trillion unfunded liability) and to rip unnamed Republicans for proposing to privatize the program. The President, who has used so many straw-man arguments in the past 19 months that he ought to have a scarecrow sitting next to him every time he speaks, framed active GOP proposals as all-or-none privatization ("You shouldn't be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you've worked hard for, all you've earned, at risk"), when they're not. For example, what President Bush proposed five years ago involved giving those who wished the opportunity to invest 2% of their pay -- out of the 12.4% of their pay that currently goes into the system -- in one or more of a limited number of investment funds.
But wait until you see how the Associated Press and Erica Werner fanned the flames even further. I found the headline that follows at both the AP's main site and at the same story at USA Today, so what you're about to see is clearly their preference:
File the news in this report filed late yesterday afternoon by Michael Calderone and John Cook at Yahoo's Upshot Blog under "D" for Double Standards:
White House reporters mum on Obama lunch, even as papers back transparency
White House reporters are keeping quiet about an off-the-record lunch today with President Obama — even those at news organizations who've advocated in the past for the White House to release the names of visitors.
But the identities of the lunch's attendees won't remain secret forever: Their names will eventually appear on the White House's periodically updated public database of visitor logs.
... The Obama White House began posting the logs in order to settle a lawsuit, begun under the Bush administration, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought the Secret Service's White House visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act.
... And guess who filed briefs supporting that argument? Virtually every newspaper that covers the White House.
It would seem that what JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater did earlier this week was the stuff that some small-minded people's dreams are made of. Would all of you out there who think that way please remove yourselves from jobs that involve contact with the public?
One has to wonder, based on her sympathetic paean to the "take this job and shove it -- but first, I'll get my revenge" crowd, if Associated Press Writer Samantha Gross should be among those who deserve involuntary removal from such positions. Ms. Gross's grotesque near-admiration for others concocting their own supposedly grand exits is my nominee as Exhibit A exemplifying the media's "strange fascination" with the Slater incident and its meaning noted at this morning's open thread at NewsBusters.
Here are some less than exemplary excerpts from Ms. Gross's gruel, including a few paragraphs exemplifying people the AP writer apparently intended to portray as nearly noble (bolds highlighting leftist phraseology and boorish behavior are mine):
Imagine that it's 2006, and an elderly, long-serving conservative U.S. congressman from a deep-red congressional district is facing congressional hearings regarding charges of corruption and tax evasion. Also imagine that this congressman was caught on camera being exceedingly condescending and dismissive when asked about these charges by a young reporter.
The media drumbeat of indignation would be predictably nonstop and longtime liberal veterans of the print press corps would inveigh against the Republican legislator, calling for his resignation and warning that Republicans were headed for electoral defeat if they failed to clean house. This congressman would certainly not be depicted as a heroic but flawed figure who possesses redeeming qualities and tragically deviated from his high ideals.
Roger Simon's Wednesday morning column ("Journolist veers out of bounds"), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.
Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon's column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal "has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that 'the right' would use it as 'a sledgehammer' against everyday journalists, 'those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism.'"
I'll suggest that Simon's rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd's reaction, in that it's laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):
... when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)
NBC News White House correspondent and MSNBC daytime anchor Chuck Todd told Politico's Roger Simon that the Journolist scandal has been keeping him up nights, and he's especially frustrated that "the right" would use it as "a sledgehammer" against everyday journalists, "those of us who don't practice advocacy journalism."
Todd fretted: "Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism. This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It’s very depressing."
The only problem, of course, is that Todd and other ostensibly neutral reporters at NBC have gotten "mixed in with journalists with an agenda" via the entire MSNBC project. Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, the upcoming Larry O'Donnell show -- these are not programs designed to boost the "credibility of journalism." They are liberal agenda shows designed to push one side -- Journolist on TV, as it were.
For his part, Simon seems critical of Journolist for tainting the media's professionalism -- a "holy calling" (although the most directly critical statement is the headline, "Journolist veers out of bounds"). An excerpt:
NewsBusters posts Friday afternoon provided readers with a list of 65 known participants in the now-infamous Journolist (via Melissa Clouthier) and the special case of Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's Economic Adviser (via Lachian Markey).
(Aside: Does the fact that Biden has his own econ adviser explain why what the Vice President says in public about the economy is so often of sync with the rest of the President's peeps?)
Here's another very special name that could (emphasis: could) be added to the (Journo)List: the soon-departing White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.
Earlier this morning, NB's Tim Graham put up an excellent post on the Daily Caller's revelations that members of the Journolist listserv group "Plotted to Bury the Jeremiah Wright Story in 2008."
Though perhaps more blatant, the Journolist effort is not the first example of acknowledged coordination on the part of key members of the establishment press. In fact, an arguably more influential example of media coordination was exposed during the summer of 2005. At the time, it was known to have gone back well over a decade. It could still be active.
The arrangement's exposure seems to have been inadvertent. It was noted in what came across as a bit of a puff piece in Editor & Publisher. The item has long since been archived, but I excerpted key paragraphs from it at my own blog in July 2005:
UPDATE - 7/15, 7:00 PM: Politico makes a nearly identical argument. Ace tears it to shreads. Details below.
The folks at ABC News are confused. Democrats are passing all this awesome legislation, they posit, so why are Americans acting so hostile and looking to hand Congress to the GOP? The key problems, ABC's Z. Byron Wolf deduces, are that Democrats simply have not embraced liberalism enough and Americans have failed to perceive just how great the Democratic agenda has been.
"The imminent passage of a tough new Wall Street Reform bill," wrote Wolf, pictured right, on ABC's website, "will cap off a wildly productive two years for Democrats in Washington – they will have passed two pieces of sweeping legislation and an enormous $800 billion stimulus bill to deal with the ailing economy."
Wolf goes on to wonder why those three pieces of legislation haven't benefited Democrats' electoral prospects. Let's see: 6% of Americans believe the stimulus bill created jobs, a strong majority favors repealing the health care bill, and almost 80% of Americans polled have little or no confidence that the financial reform bill will achieve its stated objectives. Is Wolf still confused?
Advocacy groups have increasingly labelled their opposition as "astroturf," or corporate-funded fake grassroots, groups in order to demean them and lessen the fact that both sides enjoy some measure of public support. Many of the organizations throwing around accusations of astroturfing, such as the Marxist net neutrality advocacy group Free Press and the liberal ThinkProgress not only engage in astroturf strategies, but are financially supported in ways they decry as astroturf. The media, unsurprisngly, has often chosen to ignore leftist astroturfing and focus on accusations of rightist astroturfing.
The Daily Caller reported Wednesday on a pro-neutrality letter circulated around Capitol Hill by Free Press which was a product of the same astroturfing tactics Free Press has decried.
The "signatories" of the letter had no recollection of the letter and had no idea they had signed it. One of the signatories, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation wrote to the Federal Communications Comission, The Hill reported, asking to be removed from the list of signatories. Tellingly, a Free Press spokeswoman suggested that they were pressured to do so. Presumably by the Satan-worshipping board of directors of some telecommunications company.
If the folks at Newsweek had a Bartlett's handy, they might know that Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
But The New York Times reported June 30 that the Washington Post Company is committed enough to the failing magazine's liberal ideology that it has rejected a bid from a conservative buyer.
"The Washington Post Company, which put the magazine up for sale in May after efforts to stem its financial losses failed, has rejected overtures from the owners of Newsmax, the monthly conservative magazine," Jeremy W. Peters reported. Another potential buyer, hedge fund manager Thane Ritchie, was also rebuffed, according to Peters' sources.
The "main reason" Newsmax was turned away? It's "conservative political ideology ... is at odds with the editorial bent of Newsweek, which strives to be apolitical in its news coverage though is often criticized as being left-leaning," Peters wrote.
Barack Obama is president. Oil is gushing in the gulf. America was eliminated from the World Cup. Looking for a laugh break? Try this: MSNBC has described DEMOS as "non-partisan." OK, I hadn't heard of them, either. But their web site just happens to mention that Barack Obama is "a founding Board member."
But that didn't stop Chris Hayes of the lefty Nation mag, on MSNBC this evening subbing for Ed Schultz, from, yes, describing DEMOS as "non-partisan" in introducing the group's Washington, DC director, Heather McGhee. And who is Heather? From the DEMOS site: "previously, she was the Deputy Policy Director, Domestic and Economic Policy, for the John Edwards for President 2008 campaign."
On Tuesday's Rick's List, CNN's Jessica Yellin harkened back to her college days at Harvard as she defended Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan against charges by conservatives that she is anti-military: "When I was at Harvard, a full decade before she was dean of the law school, there was already institutional opposition to 'don't ask, don't tell'....it steeps the whole university."
Yellin, actually, was a key left-wing student agitator during her time at the university, as revealed in several interviews with The Crimson, the student newspaper at Harvard. She was labeled a "prominent feminist activist in her own right" in a June 10, 1993 profile of Sheila Allen, her first-year roommate and self-proclaimed "dyke of the Class of '93." The then-student certainly earned this label, as she helped resurrect Harvard-Radcliffe Students for Choice after a "relatively inactive period," was a women's studies major, and, in an April 10, 1992 interview, bemoaned how Harvard was apparently opposed to her feminist agenda: "For people interested in women's issues or gender studies, this is an overtly hostile environment."
In a May 1, 1992 article, Yellin expressed how the acquittal of the four police officers involved in the controversial Rodney King arrest was "the most blatant evidence of the indelible racism... in this country."
The video of journalists mocking Sarah Palin after a speech she delivered Friday is just the latest in a long line of media bias against the former Alaska governor and conservative superstar.
An open mic caught reporters and photographers criticizing Palin following a speech at a fundraising dinner at California State University. "Oh my God," one voice is heard saying, "I feel like I just got off a roller coaster, going round and round, and up and down. S*** flying out ... everywhere."
While this video is among the clearest examples of media hatred for Palin, the trend goes back at least two years, according to MRC Vice President for Business and Culture Dan Gainor.
"Back around the vice presidential debate in 2008 there were 37 negative stories on the broadcast networks, just two positive," Gainor told "Fox & Friends" June 27. "It's been a feeding frenzy ever since. Some of these journalists hate her so bad if she cured cancer they'd complain how many doctors she put out of work."
Gainor credited advances in technology with giving the American public a clearer picture of media bias in cases like the Palin video, Helen Thomas' anti-Israel comments, and Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel's anti-conservative e-mails.
"What they're discovering, and the key point is, their lies, their leaks, their embarrassing moments are going be to be held out there just like they've been doing to everybody else for decades," Gainor said. "My parents would say, ‘What goes around comes around.'"
One emerging narrative from the tale of Dave Weigel's resignation is the extent to which the journalistic left is insulated from opposing views. The two institutions involved, JournoList and the Washington Post, are exemplars of liberal epistemic closure.
Ezra Klein's now-defunct email list provided a forum for journalists to collaborate, as long as they were, in his words, "nonpartisan to liberal, center to left." No conservatives allowed. The Washington Post, meanwhile, hired Weigel, perhaps two notches left of center, to cover the right, while relying on Klein, a full eight notches left, to cover the liberal movement.
The scarcity of conservative views both on JournoList and in the Post demonstrate the insularity of political conversation among legacy media players. They apply intense scrutiny to conservatives, and fail in the most basic measures of introspection.
Cut out the middle-woman and install Obama's teleprompter on the Morning Joe set . . .
Give her high marks for candor: on today's show, Mika Brzezinski admitted that she has been "working with the White House" on oil spill talking points. But that still leaves the issue of the journalistic propriety of someone in Brzezinski's position serving as such a blatant shill for the president. H/t tip NB reader Ray R.
Mika could be seen reading from her notes during exchanges with former GE CEO Jack Welch, who was critical of the PBO's handling of the spill. After repeated ribbing from Welch and Joe Scarborough over her use of White House talking points, Mika came clean . . .
The presidential commission tasked with investigating the BP oil spill is so short on technical expertise and packed with left-leaning politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists that even the Associated Press's resident ClimateGate apologist Seth Borenstein is concerned.
On December 12, 2009, over two weeks after the ClimateGate e-mails first appeared, Borenstein wrote that "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." What part of Kevin Trenberth's famous October 12, 2009 assertion that "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t" did Seth not understand?
Nonetheless, non-skeptical Seth is somewhat taken aback at the lack of expertise in the spill commission's membership:
Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering
The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.
It's probably safe to assume that a lot of reporters in the mainstream media lean to the left side of the ideological spectrum. And it was seen throughout the health care debate over the past year and a half - that somehow we need to raise the rhetoric beyond hyperbole like death panels, etc.
"[T]he Post found itself in another potentially embarrassing and ethically compromised position on Wednesday after one of its most senior reporters abruptly canceled an appearance at her own book party, which was being sponsored by a public relations firm with strong ties to the Democratic Party," Peters wrote.
It isn't particularly surprising that the establishment press is for the most part attempting to give Helen Thomas's hateful remarks and her dubious apology a very light once-over -- if they're covering her outrageous statements (that citizens of the Jewish state of Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland, and elsewhere) at all.
That said, the Associated Press has engaged in a few eyebrow-raisers already. The following is the only search result I found at the Associated Press's main web site at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time:
That's a classic "Don't read this, it's boring" headline. It also confirms that the AP hasn't considered the Thomas situation newsworthy until very recently. Yes, as seen in the related video, the question from RabbiLive was about "Israel." But at the barest minimum, Thomas's remarks were "anti-Israel," and at bottom they were anti-Semitic. Any doubt about that characterization goes away when one observes Thomas's sickening sense of self-satisfaction after delivering her opening "get out" answer.
But it got more interesting when I clicked on the AP search result's link.