On Tuesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Melissa Block grilled Congressman Joe Walsh, a newly-elected member of the House Tea Party Caucus, on the impasse over the federal budget. Block questioned Rep. Walsh if there was any "middle ground" on the issue, and pressed him with the Democratic caucus's label that the Republicans' budget proposals are "out of whack and unreasonable."
The host led her interview of the Illinois Republican by noting how there was "still no deal. House Republicans holding out for $61 billion in cuts," and then asked, "Is there any middle ground for you?" After Rep. Walsh gave his initial answer, she followed up with the Democrats' talking point: "Democrats, though, say that it's the Republicans who've been intransigent, that the numbers are just out of whack and unreasonable, that you are the side that's not compromising here."
Block forwarded this label of the congressman and his GOP colleagues in her third question, using one of his own quotes to accent her point: "You said in an interview with Time magazine, I came here- meaning to Washington- ready to go to war. The people didn't send me here to compromise. It sounds like you are just as intransigent as you're accusing the Democrats of being."
A news article written by a reporter at AFP and reproduced at such news sites as Google, Yahoo, NPR, the Dallas Morning News, and others, might qualify as an example of what happens when one allows opinion to seep into reporting. Despite a mission statement involving claims that AFP coverage is balanced, accurate, and includes the other side of the story, this piece makes no secret of where the reporter’s bias lies.
The article features such gems as:
A strong yet hyperbolic opening statement – “President Barack Obama, once a fresh faced prophet of hope…”
Comedy – “Obama will … brandish a record as a genuine reformer…”
Labeling of the President’s opposition – “…a Republican Party dragged right of the crucial political center ground by the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement” – with no labeling of his own liberal policies or base.
Most interesting was the inclusion of this possible 2012 campaign slogan: “Though many of America's problems predated his presidency…”
Here is a short list of American problems since Obama took office:
On Monday's Morning Edition, NPR's David Schaper slanted towards a professor and his allies in academia who object to a recent open records request into his e-mails from the Wisconsin GOP, playing five sound bites from them versus only two from a non-Republican source who thought their concerns were overblown. One of the professor's allies labeled the request a "contemporary version of McCarthyism."
Host Renee Montagne introduced Schaper's report by putting the issue in the context of the continuing debate over state employees' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin:
Once again, despite almost two months of national coverage Wisconsin's collective bargaining law and the protests and bad behavior which have accompanied it, the Associated Press is deciding that the nation's news consumers outside of the Badger State don't need to read, hear, or see news relating to unions and leftists acting illegally.
In a post on Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the wire service treated the arrest of Katherine Windels for issuing death threats to all but one of the GOP's state senators as a local story. Later on Saturday, NB's Noel Sheppard noted the virtual absence of media coverage of Windels' arrest on any broadcast network newscast or cable new show (except Fox's O'Reilly Factor).
The AP apparently believes that unions attempting to intimidate businesses into supporting their agenda -- or else -- isn't something that anyone outside of Wisconsin should care about. Even then, there is a palpable reluctance by the wire service to provide much in the way of accurate detail.
NPR's Wade Goodwyn noticeably minimized the presence of anti-illegal immigration conservatives from Texas on Tuesday's All Things Considered. Goodwyn tilted towards so-called "welcoming" and "tolerant" Republicans in the state by a three to one margin, and gushed over the "thousands of illegal immigrants building neighborhoods" during the "Hispanic-friendly" term of then-Governor George W. Bush.
Host Michelle Norris set the biased tone in her introduction for the correspondent's report: "In Texas, the Republican Party is changing tack on illegal immigration. The relatively welcoming, tolerant attitude embraced by George W. Bush when he was governor is waning. It's been overtaken by a flood of Arizona-style get-tough measures. Nearly 100 immigration bills have been written or filed in the current legislative session."
Goodwyn trumpeted how "Texas is now more than ever in the nation's conservative vanguard, and among its most conservative leaders is House Representative Leo Berman from northeast Texas, around Tyler." He continued by acting as if distance from the border mattered in the illegal immigration debate: "Though Berman's district is about as far from the Mexican border as you can get and still be in Texas, he's leading the charge on immigration."
Handicapping a case heading to oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court today, Yahoo! Finance's Daniel Gross insisted that "Wal-Mart has to like its chances" because "[t]he Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has generally been pro-business and hostile to the cause of workers."
Gross, who is also a senior editor for Newsweek, cited the 2007 ruling -- erroneously writing that the ruling came down in 2009 -- in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire in which "[the Supreme Court] threw out on a minor technicality the compelling case of Lilly Ledbetter, who had fought Goodyear Tire over sexual harassment and discrimination for a decade."
But the "technicality" as Gross sees it was actually pretty clear legislative language fixing a deadline beyond which lawsuits could not be filed.
On Friday, Steven Ertelt at Life News, with video backup provided by prolife protesters who were on hand, relayed something New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said at a pro-Planned Parenthood rally in Englewood, New Jersey in response to the protesters:
They want other people not to be able to have their own opinions. These people (referring to the pro-life advocates) don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution, but we’ll give it to them anyway.
So how did the establishment press cover Lautenberg's tyranny-supportive remarks?
On Monday, an unbylined Associated Press item briefly reported the results on results of Egypt's weekend referendum, and the U.S. reaction:
The United States has welcomed the results of Egypt's weekend referendum after it opened the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within months.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner says the approved term limits for the next Egyptian president, multiple ways for candidates to get on the ballot and judicial supervision of elections are positive trends.
Toner said "Egyptians took an important step toward realizing the aspirations" of the revolution that toppled long-time leader Hosni Mubarak from power.
On Thursday's All Things Considered, NPR's Jim Zarroli vouched for continuing federal funding of public broadcasting by lining up seven sound bites from three supporters of the medium, versus only two from opponents. The supporters all hyped the dire effects if tax dollars no longer went to public TV and radio. Zarroli also completely avoided any mention of NPR's longstanding reputation for liberal bias.
Host Robert Siegel introduced the correspondent's report by playing up how "Congress gave $430 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Roughly three-quarters went to public TV stations, and a quarter or so to public radio stations. With Republicans again calling for CPB funding to be cut, NPR's Jim Zarroli looks at how that money is spent and what might happen if it's eliminated."
Zaroli picked up where Siegel left off: "Over the years, conservatives have often tried to eliminate money for public broadcasting without succeeding. In 1995, for instance, congressional Republicans tried to zero out CPB funds. Within a few years, CPB's budget was bigger than ever." He continued by introducing his first supporter of public broadcasting: "Pat Butler of the Public Media Association, which lobbies for PBS and public radio, says the odds against public broadcasting are greater this time."
Within the same sentence, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell spurned the budget repair law crafted by Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin as "drastic" and celebrated a similar plan championed by Democratic Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa of Los Angeles as "a good deal."
On the March 25 edition of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," the daytime anchor praised the Democratic budget bill in Los Angeles as a "landmark deal" that "greatly increases workers's health care and pension contributions" after mischaracterizing the Republican plan as an attempt to "fight union workers by drastically cutting their pension and health plans."
The Times has been pushing the “moderate” (actually left-wing) group J Street since its 2008 founding, to little result so far. But the paper keeps trying, usually by tarring its pro-Israel opponents as “slavish,” stubborn, unreasonable, or “extreme.” The text box implied supporters were knee-jerk: “Questioning whether support must be unconditional.”
On one side were members of the Israeli Parliament and advocates who argued that there was only one legitimate way to support Israel from abroad -- unconditionally. On the other were those who insisted that love and devotion did not mean withholding criticism.
Friday’s New York Times obituary by Bruce Weber of radical lawyer Leonard Weinglass, described in the Times headline as a “Courtroom Defender Of Radicals and Renegades,” glossed over the radicalism of Weinglass’s notorious clients. The text box gushed: “A man one colleague called ‘our era’s Clarence Darrow.’”
Leonard I. Weinglass, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent progressive defense lawyer, who represented political renegades, government opponents and notorious criminal defendants in a half century of controversial cases, including the Chicago Seven, the Pentagon Papers and the Hearst kidnapping, died on Wednesday. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan.
Weber applied the usual Times gloss to Weinglass's radical clients, referring to Angela Davis, a prominent Communist Party member who twice ran on the party’s presidential ticket, only as an “activist and educator.” Davis also received the Lenin “Peace Prize” from East Germany in 1979, when that country was a Communist police state.
Over the past 40 years, he represented many other prominent clients, including Angela Davis, the activist and educator who was acquitted of murder, conspiracy and kidnapping charges in the 1970 killing of a California judge, and Amy Carter, the daughter of President Carter, who along with others, including Abbie Hoffman, was arrested during a 1986 protest against the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency at the University of Massachusetts. She was acquitted of trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.
[Update, 10:20 am Friday: The original version of this item stated that Brandon Smith worked for Indiana Public Radio. He is actually affiliated with Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations.]
NPR's Steve Inskeep, who used "deceitful sophistry" to contend that his network's audience leaned right in a Thursday WSJ column, also claimed in the same piece that "not much of the media pays attention to the middle of the country, but NPR and its local stations do." But an affiliate in his home state of Indiana touted the findings of a pro-ObamaCare organization on the first anniversary of its passage, while leaving out anything from opponents.
Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations led his Wednesday report on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the legislation by trumpeting how "Families USA, a non-partisan, national health care advocacy organization, released state-by-state data on the potential impact of the law." Despite running a sound bite from Ron Pollack, the executive director of the organization, and highlighting some of their data specific to Indiana, Smith didn't point out Families USA's liberal political leanings. NPR correspondent Julie Rovner also omitted the organization's ideological affiliation on Wednesday's Morning Edition, the very program which Inskeep hosts.
In a Wednesday story at Reuters ("Bombing near Jerusalem bus stop kills woman, 30 hurt") describing the aftermath of "a bomb planted in a bag exploded near a bus stop in a Jewish district of Jerusalem," reporter Crispian Balmer wrote the following (bold is mine):
Medics said three people were seriously hurt by the explosion, which hit one of the main routes into central Jerusalem in the afternoon, shattering the windows of a nearby bus. A woman in her 60s died in hospital.
Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.
My, my. It's as if the word "terrorist" was invented by the Israelis just for the occasion.
NPR's Julie Rovner put the best liberal spin on the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare becoming law on Wednesday's Morning Edition. When an opponent of the legislation stated that supporters would try to "create constituencies that will fight to preserve it...[by] spending hundreds of billions of dollars on health insurance subsidies," Rover added that "those are just a few of the law's benefits."
The correspondent led her report with sound bites from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who marveled over the "landmark law," and Senator Orrin Hatch, who labeled it "one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of this country." She continued by focusing on the opponents of ObamaCare:
On Tuesday's In the Arena on CNN, Bill Maher channeled the far left's frustration with President Obama: "This is one of my big problems with our president. He never blames the Republicans for anything. He's their best friend....There's an oil rig that blows up in the Gulf of Mexico, and the party of drill, baby, drill does not get blamed." Host Eliot Spitzer also joined Maher in bashing the Tea Party.
The two liberals vented about domestic politics during the second half of the segment, which began 18 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour. Spitzer mouthed off his regular talking points about how "the middle class has been squeezed and has suffered....[and] the top 2 or 3 percent has profited amazingly well. And then...we had this financial meltdown, caused primarily by Wall Street." He then lamented how this situation hasn't benefitted his fellow liberals as much as he'd like, which led to Maher bashing the apparent stupidity of the Tea Party:
It may seem surprising that the job of taking back the House -- Democrats need 25 seats to do so -- has fallen not to a bloodthirsty partisan, but to the easygoing Mr. Israel: an unassuming centrist from Long Island who once voted with President George W. Bush nearly half of the time and has barely made a mark after a decade in Congress.
“Unassuming”? Perhaps. “Centrist”? No way. The American Conservative Union awarded Israel’s lifetime voting record (he's a 10-year veteran of Congress) a mere 11 points out of 100, including 0 out of 100 the last two years. Those numbers situate Rep. Israel well left of center.
The Times's Jamie Lorber also insisted Israel was a "moderate" and a "middle-of-the-road Democrat" in a November 19, 2010 story marking his ascent to head the DCCC.
NPR's Liz Halloran touted the federal government's Title X subsidy of contraceptives as "largely noncontroversial" in a Monday article on NPR.org, despite the House of Representatives' 240-185 vote in February to defund the program. Halloran also quoted exclusively from liberal Title X supporters or from conservatives who had second thoughts about targeting the program.
It only took her two paragraphs for the correspondent to use this slanted label of the federal program in her article, "Abortion Foes Target Family Planning Program." She also highlighted the longstanding funding of "family planning programs that provide contraceptive and related health and family services to millions of low-income women and men" and noted how Title X passed with "bipartisan support in Congress."
Halloran continued that "Title X, which serves more than 5 million men and women annually, is on House Republicans' chopping block. Supporters of defunding have characterized it as an effort to strip funds from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that use other funds to provide legal abortions, without singling out any particular group. The House in February voted 240-185 to defund Title X in the current budget year." But instead of tracking down one of the representatives who voted for this, or from one of their allies in the conservative movement, the journalist turned to a Republican skeptic:
What Kravitz's story doesn't carry is the word "existing." How odd, since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which produces the report, calls it "Existing-Home Sales" at the report's home web page, and labels the data "Existing Home Sales" in two different places in the detailed data.
It would be one thing if Kravitz were, as he may be, "merely" trying to keep his bad-news report from being found by search engine users looking for related sales news; a search on "existing" at the AP's home site does not return Kravitz's report. But his dispatch's headline is unclear as to which type of sales are even involved (new or existing?), and his repeated use of the term "previously occupied homes" instead of "existing" might lead some readers to believe that the data involved exclude homes which have been vacant for some time, which is not the case.
Here are excerpts from Kravitz's crummy job, which also contains something that is more predictable than the weather, i.e., a weather-related excuse:
On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS correspondent Morley Safer interviewed New York Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan and pressed him on the his commitment to traditional Church teachings: "No question that you're conciliatory, that you like to have dialog, but underneath that you're an old-fashioned conservative. I mean, in the sense of right-wing conservative."
Dolan turned Safer's characterization around: "I would bristle at being termed 'right-wing.' But if somebody means enthusiastically committed and grateful for the timeless heritage of the Church, and feeling that my best service is when I try to preserve that and pass that on in its fullness and beauty and radiance, I'm a conservative, no doubt."
John Avlon again attacked conservatives, this time on the gun rights issues, in a Thursday column on CNN.com. Avlon bashed the "bumper sticker policies" and the "reason-free activist crowd" of Second Amendment activists. The Daily Beast writer also invoked Reagan's past support of gun control measures in another attempt to sever today's conservative activists from the former president's legacy.
Most readers here aren't aware that Associated Press reporters began withholding their bylines this week in support of their union's "quality journalism proposals." Participating reporters are refusing to have their name placed on AP stories. It appears to apply to stories datelined in the U.S. and not overseas (as seen here).
It is truly a wonder that the world has gone on while AP reporters refuse to tell us who wrote the wire service's U.S. stories (/sarc).
The byline strike springs from the wire service's refusal, among other things, according to the News Media Guild, the union which represents AP newsroom personnel, to accept a "fixed-cost pension plan." The AP wants a defined-contribution plan (i.e., something similar or identical to a 401(k)).
Here are some economy, business, and political "gems" appearing at AP during the past few days which can't be traced to a specific reporter:
On Friday's Morning Edition, NPR's Mara Liasson conspicuously excluded conservatives who are opposed to "comprehensive" immigration reform proposals, such as those forwarded by former President George W. Bush, during a report on Utah's new and "milder" immigration law. Liasson emphasized the state's "conservative politics," but couldn't find any conservatives who opposed the law.
Host Renee Montagne introduced the correspondent's report by highlighting how "Arizona's tough immigration law has received extensive coverage, and there's been a lot of talk about similar measures in other states. Yet, one of Arizona's neighbors, also known for its conservative politics, has taken a very different approach." Liasson set up her report by underscoring Utah's conservative credentials: "If you were to choose a state that would allow illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows, work and drive without fear of deportation, you probably wouldn't pick Utah."
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN hyped the concerns of psychiatrist Terry Kupers over the imprisonment of Wikileaks suspect Bradley Manning. Kupers labeled Manning's months-long solitary confinement "cruel or inhumane treatment, and by international standards, they constitute torture." The guest also claimed that "nobody has been accused of crimes like Bradley Manning's."
Anchor Carol Costello noted in her introduction to her interview of Kupers (which aired 47 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour) that "Manning, the man accused of giving Wikileaks classified documents, spent most of the last nine months in solitary confinement. One psychiatrist tells CNN that amounted to torture, and it could have done more harm than good." An on-screen graphic trumpeted this charge: "Wikileaks Suspect 'Tortured': Doc: Months of solitary does permanent damage."
"Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has voted to approve more than $900,000 in deals with Johns Hopkins since her husband began working for one of its divisions late last year — a possible violation of the city ethics code."
That's how the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper began her March 16 story -- published last night online here -- about the Democratic mayor's votes on the city's board that authorizes spending for public contracts.
Yet Scharper failed to note Rawlings-Blake's Democratic Party affiliation.
On Tuesday's Morning Edition, NPR's Carrie Johnson highlighted critiques of the Obama White House from the left on their promise to be "the most transparent administration in history," but downplayed questions over the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Unit's use of non-disclosure agreements with companies under investigation.
Host Renee Montagne introduced Johnson's report, noting that "in Washington, D.C., some people are calling this 'Sunshine Week.' It's a time of year when government watchdog groups evaluate the administration's commitment to openness. Two years ago, President Obama promised to run the most transparent administration in history."
On his eponymous program today, MSNBC anchor Martin Bashir interviewed a liberal environmental activist aiming to scare viewers into believing that nuclear energy poses an imminent threat to the safety of the United States.
Bashir allowed a spokesman for Friends of the Earth, a left-wing environmental group, to declare nuclear facilities in California dangerous and unsafe, but neglected to report that the nuclear industry claims it has protocols in place to ensure safety.
"The fact of the matter is that what's happening in Japan could certainly have happened here," predicted David Moglan, director of the Climate and Energy Project for Friends of the Earth.
Demonstrating the ability to go unhinged without provocation, movie critic Roger Ebert looked at this Hollywood Reporter item discussing CNN's audience increase on Friday as an excuse to tweet the following at about midnight Eastern time last night:
Jay Kernis, senior producer of CNN's In the Arena program, promoted liberal writer David Sirota's thesis that "the mythology of the 1980s still defines our thinking on everything from militarism, to greed, to race relations." Sirota bashed 80s cultural touchstones such as The A Team and Ghostbusters for being "hideously militaristic" and the "ugliness of [their] anti-government message."
Kernis interviewed the Huffington Post contributor about his new book, "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now—Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything" in an item on his program's blog on CNN.com on Monday. The producer first asked about the writer's hypothesis that "the political and cultural references from the 1980s have not only become cool again, but may be a way to explain our present-day issues and conflicts, and even influencing our thinking today."