For years, the New York Times has praised misleading books from liberal authors attacking President Bush and the war in Iraq: Tomes by Michael Moore, Seymour Hersh, Kitty Kelley, Richard Clarke, Jane Mayer, and Ron Suskind (who has also reported for the paper) -- too many to mention. Yet when a wildly successful book appears that attacks the Times's favored candidate, Democrat nominee Barack Obama, the paper unloads a front-page pushback against the "unsubstantiated, misleading...inaccurate"book.
In the summer of 2004 the conservative gadfly Jerome R. Corsi shot to the top of the best-seller lists as co-author of "Unfit for Command," the book attacking Senator John Kerry's record on a Vietnam War Swift boat that began the larger damaging campaign against Mr. Kerry's war credentials as he sought the presidency.
Today's contribution from the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page, who also serves on the newspaper's editorial board, is "Enquirer scores— but about the aliens." Clarence frets about mainstream media credibility under attack for not pursuing John Edwards's affair:
The blogosphere is abuzz with criticism of the mainstream media for allegedly failing to pursue the story of Edwards' alleged "love child" when the National Enquirer first reported it last year. In fact, major media did try to confirm the story without using the Enquirer as a source. It appears most of us in the MSM tend to be hung up on stodgy old-fashioned virtues like facts. The Edwards bombshell became problematic when none of the main parties in the story would go on the record to confirm the allegation. If you're going to use unnamed sources, which is questionable enough as a practice, at least make them your own sources, not those of a supermarket tabloid.
By early last week, journalists were in the awkward position of refusing to report on explosive allegations that were almost certain to knock the former North Carolina senator out of the Democratic convention. They were in a box of their own making, one that came to feel airtight and uncomfortable.
When critics, especially on the right, accused the media of protecting a Democrat because of liberal bias, journalists were unable to respond, because to do so would be to acknowledge the very thing they were declining to report.
As the latest episode of Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick Calamity has played out, we learn that there is a supplemental directive to add to the Associated Press's apparent commandment ("Thou shalt not name a Democrat's party") about politicians in trouble whose party mascot happens to be the donkey.
Several previous Kilpatrick-related AP reports, including this one from two weeks ago, have been cited at NewsBusters and elsewhere as examples of how closely that commandment is followed.
Yesterday, in a stinging indictment of his Old Media colleagues' la-la-la treatment of the story of John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten asserted that Edwards "may have ended his public life but he certainly ratified an end to the era in which traditional media set the agenda for national political journalism."
I'll get to Rutten's mostly perceptive points in a bit.
That's because recent developments indicate that Edwards may still be believe he can eventually re-enter public life, and they are relevant to Rutten's assertion:
When Washington Post columnist and, until recently, regular Countdown guest Dana Milbank used an edited quote from Barack Obama that was arguably a distortion of the Illinois Senator's words, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann suspended Milbank from appearing on his show insisting Milbank correct his transgression against the Democratic presidential candidate. But if Olbermann's MSNBC bosses held him to the same standard, the Countdown host himself would have been suspended numerous times during the past four years if he were required to correct either distortions of people's words or his reporting of stories that turned out to be inaccurate. But while in Milbank's case the Washington Post columnist's infraction was against a liberal target in Obama, Olbermann has primarily targeted conservatives, as detailed below. Notably, while it is no secret that Olbermann is very pro-Obama as he conducts his show, on the June 26 show, Olbermann came closest to admitting he hopes Obama becomes President as he defended the Illinois Senator's decision to vote for a FISA bill opposed by the left. Olbermann: "If you get as hot about the issue as I have, you would rather see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, rather than a Senator Obama throwing away a vote to keep open the civil suits when most of the other Democrats already caved in."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at the restaurant Wendy’s.
Roberts, perhaps in a Freudian slip, even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Sawyer gushed that the candidate and his wife "are going to renew their vows." "Happy anniversary," she added.
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren’t quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Ms. Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer’s 28,000 square-foot mansion once.
Previous NewsBusters posts by Brent Baker and Rusty Weiss have noted the "strange" and nearly complete memory loss exhibited by the TV networks (with the expected exception of fair and balanced Fox News) and the Associated Press concerning the political party affiliation of just-jailed Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
The New York Times's record during the past seven months has been almost equally disgraceful.
Here's the detailed rundown of 14 relevant stories I found in the Times since the troubles that ultimately led to the Mayor's indictment and recent incarceration began:
To paraphrase a line from my good friend B. Spears, ‘Oops, the AP did it again!'
What journalistic crime has been committed this time? How about, selective memory when it comes to a Democrat running afoul of the law.
Picture this if you will. The Mayor of a major U.S. city has been ordered to jail for violating bond. The MSM reports on the situation, but fails to mention the Mayor's party affiliation anywhere in the article. This makes it a foregone conclusion - the Mayor is a Democrat.
While it is common place for the MSM to avoid mentioning the word Democrat in a headline involving someone being charged, indicted, or sent off to jail, it is taking it a giant step further when they fail to mention it all together.
Contrast this with the recent headlines surrounding the indictment of Ted Stevens. The AP headline read as follows:
New York Times Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter relayed a disturbing story about racism and anti-Semitism in a House primary in Memphis, "Race Takes Central Role in a Memphis Primary." But which party's primary? That's the one thing missing from Nossiter's Thursday piece -- the word "Democrat."
In the culmination of a racially fraught Congressional campaign in Memphis, a black candidate is linking her liberal-leaning white primary opponent in Thursday's contest, Representative Steve Cohen, to the Ku Klux Klan in a television advertisement.
Mr. Cohen's campaign said it was an unusually direct effort to inject race into the contest.
On Monday's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly and FNC analyst Bernie Goldberg discussed the media's reluctance to report the National Enquirer's claims about John Edwards fathering a child with a mistress. O'Reilly expressed his own hesitance to delve into the matter, which he only vaguely referred to as "a difficult personal deal," contending that "I can't verify the story," and expressed concerns about the distress public exposure would cause the Edwards family. He further suggested that after more facts could be verified, that "I'll mention it, but I won't dwell on it."
Goldberg spoke of the double standard employed by the New York Times in its reluctance to cover the 2001 story of Jesse Jackson fathering a baby with an employee, while the Times more blazenly printed less solid allegations this year against John McCain. Goldberg: "The National Enquirer broke that story [about Jesse Jackson]. And when the New York Times finally decided to run it, they put it on page 21 under a one-column headline. Compare that to a story with two unnamed sources that think that maybe that I'm not sure, but I think that John McCain was having an affair with a lobbyist. That winds up on page one of the New York Times."
Is reporter Michael Powell at the New York Times auditioning for Comic Relief?
At next year's event, Powell's headline at his August 2 story (HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Obama's repeated hypocritical invocations and charges relating to race (of course, that's not how he sees it), along with his report's first 10 words, would bring the house down:
With Genie Out of Bottle, Obama Is Careful on Race
Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles .....
Only someone locked inside the Old Media bubble could possibly believe that Obama hasn't "stumbled" repeatedly, to the point where he's making Bush 41 Vice President Dan Quayle look like a certified genius.
Barack Obama is again unfairly throwing out the race card at an opponent. This week Obama was warning that his Republican opponents will assault him with racist attacks, but is dropping this warning even though no one has yet done so. On July 30th, Obama said at three different campaign stops in Missouri that McCain and his backers will attack him because he "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills." This isn't the first time that Obama has thrown out the race card at opponents that clearly did not play it first themselves.
For all his own sly use of the race card and his warnings that opponents will use his race against him, Obama claims to stand against racism in this campaign. This is a noble stance to take, naturally. Like Obama, any upstanding American should oppose using race charged attacks in political campaigns. Yet, for all his moralizing on the subject, why is it that Obama is staying silent as members of his own party -- not to mention his own race -- in Tennessee use racial slurs to attack another member of his own party? And why is it that the national media has ignored this story? Perhaps its because the candidate being attacked, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, is not black but is Jewish? And perhaps its because his attackers are members of Tennessee's black religious community? And perhaps it is because the Congressional Black Caucus is funding Cohen's Democratic opponent, Nikki Tinker? And perhaps it is because Tinker is benefiting from this anti-Semitic attack against Cohen? Perhaps the media is hoping to hold out long enough for the issue to go away? And what of Obama?
Imagine if the principal of a Catholic school in the metro D.C. region was found guilty of failing to report an allegation of child sexual abuse. It'd be considered worthy of front page news for the Washington Post, at the very least a front pager for the paper's Metro section.
Yet reporting the conviction of Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan on July 31, the Post buried the story on the 6th page of the Metro section. Here's how staffer Tom Jackman opened his story:
The director general of a controversial private Islamic school in Fairfax County has been found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of failing to report child abuse and fined $500.
Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, head of the Islamic Saudi Academy on Route 1 in the Mount Vernon area, was arrested last month by Fairfax police, who said Al-Shabnan had been informed of the possible sexual abuse of a 5-year-old student at the school. School authorities are required by law to report alleged child abuse within 72 hours.
"McCain Goes Negative, Worrying Some in G.O.P.," the New York Times fretted Wednesday in a headline over a story by reporter Michael Cooper. Times readers learned that while it's perfectly acceptable for the Times to call conservative Sen. Tom Coburn "Dr. No" in a front-page headline, it's bad for John McCain to call Barack Obama the same thing.
Cooper opened his story:
In recent days Senator John McCain has charged that Senator Barack Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," tarred him as "Dr. No" on energy policy and run advertisements calling him responsible for high gas prices.
(The headline to Monday's front-page story about Sen. Tom Coburn: "Democrats Try to Break Grip Of the Senate's Flinty Dr. No.")
The Denver Post printed an article on July 30 highlighting the possible selection of Mitt Romney as a vice-presidential running mate with John McCain. While focusing on several obvious areas in which Romney may help the ticket, the Post simply couldn't resist a few subtle jabs directed at the former Massachusetts Governor.
Making a personal assessment that Romney sometimes comes off as being aloof, and citing his membership in a church that some consider a cult, was simply not enough. Reporter Karen E. Crummy (I will resist the puns) practically salivated at the prospect of using those observations as talking points for the Democratic Party. (Emphasis mine)
He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, considered a cult by some evangelical Christians and Southern Baptists. Despite his central-casting good looks, he often comes across as aloof. And he and McCain taunted each other in the primaries, which could be exploited by Democrats.
Just another demonstration of how the MSM would like to remind their readers that Romney's religion does in fact, matter.
Is it okay to vote against a candidate because of his race? The answer to the question is no. It is, in fact, the only acceptable answer. But I ask the question because it raises an important point about the media, the Democrats, and Barack Obama himself.
We are, each year, treated to national media reports on race relations in this country and they invariably discuss white America coming to terms with other races in this country. Very, very rarely does the media ever report on other races coming to terms with white America.
It is not really relevant, frankly, to point out that most black voters are going to vote in droves for Barack Obama. Regardless of his race, black voters would vote for the Democrat. But when you read about Congressman Steve Cohen's race in Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District, you really are confronted by both racism and anti-Semitism in a way we rarely think about in this country. And the media is silent. Barack Obama is silent.
Steve Cohen just might lose his re-election not because he has been ineffective in representing his district, but because he is white. And a number of black members of Congress are happy about that.
Does the media treat Democrats and Republicans differently when stories of their various peccadillos reach the Press? Well, in actuality, the question is essentially a moot point. There are stories today on the NewsBusters front page testifying to said bias. However, in Yahoo! News' choice of front-page stories today, we can see yet another example of this bias.
UPDATE: The original version of this item reported Joe Scarborough's statement, as transcribed below, that there were no Republicans on his MSNBC staff, with executive producer Chris Licht confirming Joe's assertion. Joe has been in touch to say he and Chris Licht were speaking tongue in cheek and that the remarks about there being no Republicans on the Morning Joe staff were a joke.
Mika Brzezinski is appalled to learn that the Bush Justice Department had a hiring preference for politically simpatico people. And Mika apparently believes Joe mischaracterizes her as a liberal.
The jumping off point on today's Morning Joe was Mika's reading of a news item on an article in today's New York Times about an internal Justice Department report concluding that "senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions." Scarborough saw this as SOP in Washington.
The networks suggest Obama is driving the narrative, but it's the liberal press themselves doing the driving for Obama
(Editor's Note: This essay originally appeared today in Human Events.)
Just Another Clown Delivering the News
The Big Three networks just foisted a week long Obamathon upon the American people, a political, "journalistic" perversion of Jerry Lewis's annual televised good deed.
Mr. Lewis raises money for a very worthy cause. CBS' Katie Couric, NBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Charlie Gibson attempted to raise the Presidential credibility of an inexperienced candidate by dutifully following Illinois Senator Barack Obama to the Middle East and Europe for six days and five nights of wall-to-wall slavish and adoring reporting.
This was an unprecedented media extravaganza. Never before have all three evening news anchors been drawn out of their chairs and all over the world together and on behalf of a candidate. Their coverage of Sen. Obama was as glitteringly positive as it was all-encompassing: the primary season without the Clinton distraction.
By week's end, the voters back here Stateside could well have forgotten that Senator Obama has an opponent.
Given how much grief charter schools and other creative initiatives get from the government-school establishment if they don't instantly turn at risk kids into Einsteins, along with the hounding of homeschoolers that seems to be on the rise, this story shouldn't be allowed to fall through the cracks, or remain confined to its local area.
Last Sunday's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle story (HT One News Now), which really should be read in full, would be humorous ("Kids Get Answers, Still Can't Pass") if it weren't for the fact that real children are clearly not getting educated. This systemic failure will affect them, and, to at least a slight degree, everyone reading this, for years to come (bolds are mine):
Vanity Fair magazine thought it amusing to have artist Tim Bower work up a mock magazine cover that lampoons the now-infamous satirical depiction of Sen. Barack Obama as a Muslim and his wife as a gun-slinging leftist radical (h/t Marc Ambinder). In Bower's cartoon, McCain clutches a walker while his wife waits with vials of prescription medicine. A George W. Bush portrait hangs above the fireplace in which the U.S. Constitution is ablaze. Hmm, sounds really familiar for some reason.
I'm not sure if its because leftists lack originality or Vanity Fair doesn't read West Coast publications, but the parody heavily cribs from Seattle Post-Intelligencer David Horsey's July 15 illustration.
The Columbia Journalism Review, not previously known as a Republican stronghold, sees liberal bias in the Times's rejection of an op-ed by John McCain supporting the war, a week after the paper ran an anti-war op-ed by his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.
CJR contributor Lester Feder wrote of Deputy Editorial Page Editor David Shipley's rejection:
McCain partisans have decried the Times's decision -- and, if you read the two columns side by side, Shipley's justification does seem rather thin....Instead of making a statement about its judgment of McCain's leadership -- a judgment that it could defend on principle -- the Times has only reinforced its reputation on the right as a biased liberal broadsheet.
It is unclear what detailed "plans" sounded new to the Times when it accepted Barack Obama's July 14th submission.
MRC Director of Media Analysis and NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham appeared on FNC's "Your World w/Neil Cavuto" earlier this evening. The topic: modern liberal campaign bias and how the public often goes against the media's favorites. [audio available here]
"Notice they're not attacking Obama, they're attacking Obama's biggest base of support," Graham noted of the latest John McCain Web videos about Sen. Obama, which lampoon the media's love affair with the Illinois Democrat.
You need "go back no further than four years ago" to find a similar political love affair that backfired, Graham added of the MSM's support of Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
Even so, this election cycle reminds Graham of Clinton '92, one occasion where the media's favorite won, even though he "barely skated by" to election, helped in part by a strong third-party ticket.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on Friday's "Hannity & Colmes" to talk about the media's eagerness to jump on the press plane and head to cover Barack Obama in Iraq. This despite the media's disinterest in covering John McCain's numerous foreign trips earlier this year. [audio available here]
"This is a press, the networks especially, that have gone into a complete swoon over Barack Obama," argued Bozell.
Earlier that day, Bozell appeared on "Fox & Friends" to discuss the same topic. Video of that can be found here.
For the MRC press release on the matter, click here (excerpt below):
Remember all that fuss about John McCain referring to Czechoslovakia, the European country that split up in 1993 into the Czech Republic and Slovakia? Supposedly, it was proof of his senility, rather than just an honest mistake.
Well it turns out McCain isn't the only one. Any takers on a bet the media won't report this?
Today's Chicago Tribune features "Left speechless?," by columnist Clarence Page. Page, who also serves on the Tribune's editorial board, writes:
Besides whispering to another guest on the set that he would like to de-sex the Democratic presidential candidate, Jackson also accused Obama of "talking down to black people . . . telling niggers how to behave."
Jackson has since issued two statements of apology for his self-described "trash talking." He also might issue this word of advice: If you want to whisper something that could be damaging if traced back to you, don't whisper it over a microphone.
Am I surprised by Jackson's use of the racial slur? Not really. I was more surprised to hear that so many other people are shocked, especially non-African Americans.
Ethnic etiquette has always given greater latitude to epithets expressed about one's own ethnic group, as long as they are expressed inside of one's ethnic group. That's how people talk within one's family or ethnic group, especially when you regard your ethnic group as affectionately as you regard your nuclear family.
But if we hold Jackson to a higher standard, it is because he has held us to one too.
You might think that a tidal wave of denunciation would ensue if a cartoon depicting John McCain being tortured in a bamboo cage by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and another person (who might be George W. Bush) were to appear in a supposedly respectable or trendy publication.
You might further think that giving McCain's three torturers stereotypically exaggerated Asian features would only further fuel the outrage.
Sorry to disappoint you, but the cartoon involved appeared last month in Rolling Stone. As far as I can tell, what you are about to see has produced not a single ripple of protest (HT Taxman Blog via tip from Weapons of Mass Discussion):