Newsweek puts Katie Couric on the cover this week, and the cover story by Marc Peyser and Johnnie Roberts is easy, breezy, and totally free of any troublesome analysis of whether Couric is fair and balanced enough to attract non-liberal viewers. The most eye-opening line comes from former CBS reporter Marvin Kalb, responding to Andy Rooney's nobody's-happy-about-Katie rant on the Imus show:
"I remember when CBS hired [former game-show host] Mike Wallace and gave him the morning news," says Marvin Kalb, a former CBS correspondent who is now a senior fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center. "You should have heard the men's room conversation. My God, what have they done? They destroyed the Murrow tradition—all that. I think the negative spin on Katie Couric is unfair, and I think she is going to prove those people wrong. So take that, Andy Rooney, and screw you."
When things got a bit contentious this morning between conservative Jim Pinkerton and liberal Ellen Ratner on Fox & Friends Weekend's 'Long & the Short of It' segment, Pinkerton proposed a peace plan that other warring parties might well wish to adopt: "let NewsBusters.org sort this out."
The bone of contention was just what what it was that President Bush declassified - some would say leaked - and that Scooter Libby is in turn alleged to have provided to the press - presumably in the person of Judy Miller of the NY Times.
Ratner: "This was a Nixon bad-list kind of trick [presumably a reference to Nixon's 'enemies' list] to get . . . "
Host Kiran Chetry [back from maternity leave - and beautiful as ever, I might add]: "Why?"
Camille Paglia, the famed, feminist social critic that calls herself a Democrat, gave an interview to The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, recently (hat tip to Radio Equalizer) in which she attacked a wide array of American media icons. For instance, she stated that the writing of The New York Times was, “‘Upper middle class comfortable elitist liberalism.'"
She then blamed a lot of the left’s difficulties on Hollywood: “‘It's the reason my party, the Democratic Party, is in such bad shape. It's because of the insularity and the arrogance of those views.’"
What do you think about Al Franken, Camille? “‘Good lord! I want to fall asleep. Narcolepsy.’"
And the radio station that carries his swill? “‘It's even slower than NPR. Like a record being played at the wrong speed.’"
As for the perky "Today"...errr "CBS Evening News" host, Paglia isn't impressed:
B. Duane Cross writes at NASCAR.com that NBC was unable to find people in the racing stands who would persecute their "plants" wearing Middle Eastern clothing. Also, the NBC crew did not do a good job of concealing themselves.
NBC News baited the hook, but netted nothing in its "sting" attempt to find anti-Muslim sentiments during the Martinsville race weekend....
The inference is that NASCAR fans are bigots, and NBC News was hoping to bait fans into making insensitive remarks to the Muslim / Arab people it had planted at the track.
Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications, said Wednesday that no instances of unrest were reported. "No one bothered them," Poston said.
That didn't take long! Back in the MSM's Watergate heyday, it took a while for a steady drumbeat of revelations, stories and allegations to gather sufficient momentum. The pace has apparently quickened in the modern liberal-media world. On this morning's Today show, speaking of the allegation that President Bush authorized the disclosure of information by Scooter Libby, Matt Lauer asked Chris Matthews: "scale of 1 to 10, [where] 10 is a deal-ender, where does this fall?"
Matthews didn't hesitate: "heading to 10."
Even Lauer seemed taken aback: "Really, that big?"
For good measure, Matthews later analogized VP Cheney to Henry II having put out a hit leading to the murder of a dissenter in his administration.
The graphic claims 'Kerry Plays Hardball', but it was all slow-pitch softball this evening for the junior senator from Massachusetts. After feeding Kerry a number of leading questions letting him tee off on the way Pres. Bush allegedly misled the country into war, talk turned to exit strategies.
Matthews: "Senator, you have a plan, pretty hard, about how we can deal with getting out of Iraq."
Kerry: "Well, it's time to get tough, Chris."
Now there's a courageous politician for you - one willing to admit he's tough.
Kerry repeated a stock formulation he's been using this week: "The policy is broken. When you go down to the Vietnam War Memorial, you take a look at it, you see that almost half the names that are on that wall were added after our leaders knew that the policy wasn't working. That's immoral, and I believe it's immoral today for us to pursue a policy where our kids are dying, losing their limbs, going to Walter Reed . . . because Iraqi politicians won't compromise."
Could NewsBusters be Matt Lauer's guilty pleasure?
Have a look at the two screen captures. The first depicts Pat Buchanan's Today show appearance of March 24th. You'll note that NBC sought to pass Buchanan off as a "Republican strategist." That bit of false packaging elicited this NewsBusters entry, taking NBC to task for its attempt to lull viewers into believing the show was presenting a balanced panel [Buchanan was paired for the day with former Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers].
Now look at the second screen shot, from Pat's Today show appearance of this morning, his first since March 24th. Today ditched the "Republican" tag, neutrally and accurately labeling Buchanan an 'MSNBC political analyst'.
European Jewish Press reports that the BBC's Board of Governors censured BBC Online for a report saying the United Nations had "called for Israel’s unilateral withdrawal" from all territories gained during the Six-Day War, when in fact the UN only "called for a negotiated 'land for peace' settlement."
The governors report, which specifically singled out the reporting of the UN resolution after the 1967 Israeli-Arab ’Six-day war’, stated that the piece on the BBC news website did not give a balanced view of events.
Absence of factual reporting
The UN Security Council 242 is very specific when it calls for a connection between a "withdrawal from territories" and all nations in the region’s "right to live in peace".
Be the death literal or figurative, in recent days Democrats and their MSM claque have demonstrated a ghoulish penchant for dancing on the graves of their political opponents. As documented here, on the very day of his death last week, MSNBC's Alison Stewart, subbing for Keith Olbermann on Countdown, took nasty parting shots at Caspar Weinberger. Stewart disparaged as both a budget "slasher" and a big spender the man who, as Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary, contributed mightily to winning the Cold War.
Today, it was Tom DeLay's retirement announcement that brought out the worst in the left. Bob Shrum was Chris Matthews' guest on Hardball, and so avidly did Shrum exult in DeLay's predicament that former GOP Rep. Susan Molinari was plainly repulsed. But far from taking Shrum to task for his unseemly asperity, Matthews commended him.
You could see this one coming a mile away. As soon as Matt Lauer announced that Today was inaugurating a series called 'One Nation Under God' on the role religion plays in our country, and that the first episode would focus on President Bush, you knew we were in for a bumpy ride.
The series plays off a new book, 'American Gospel', by Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham. In his set-up [and I do mean set-up] piece, David Gregory claimed that "the Bush era has created not just a political but a religious divide."
Continued Gregory: "Critics have accused the president of using religion to close himself off from opposing points of view." Oh, I don't know, David. He seems to hear you pretty loud and clear.
NBC and MSNBC have a penchant for gulling viewers into believing they are presenting balanced panels by pairing a partisan Democrat with Pat Buchanan. The sleight-of-hand recently reached an apex when the Today show mislabeled Buchanan a "Republican strategist." Buchanan - the fellow who quit the GOP in 1999 to run for president against W as the candidate of the Reform Party. See report with revealing screen shot here.
Any pretense that Buchanan is anything but a Bush administration critic often more in synch with the Democrats than the GOP was stripped away on this evening's Hardball, when a partisan Democrat let the cat out of the bag.
A follow-up on Howard Kurtz's profile of Keith Olbermann: in his weekly "Media Notes" online chat at washingtonpost.com, Kurtz tries to declare that he has no opinion on the question of Olbermann's ideological bias:
Washington, D.C. : Can you tell me what is the upside in Keith Olbermann denying he has an agenda? I mean, you didn't buy that line. Who would?
Howard Kurtz: I'm agnostic. It is true that he was on every night in 1998 dealing with the Clinton scandal. And even most opinionated anchors don't want to be seen as aligned with one party or another (although Sean Hannity talks openly about raising money for Republican candidates). The true test will come the next time there's a Democratic president.
I remember a conversation I had with a broadcast news executive many years ago.
"Doesn't the fact that 90 percent of your people are Democrats affect your work product?" I asked.
"Oh, no, no," he said. "Our people are professional. They have standards of objectivity and professionalism, so that their own views don't affect the news."
"So what you're saying," I said, "is that your work product would be identical if 90 percent of your people were Republicans."
He quickly replied, "No, then it would be biased."
I have been closely acquainted with newsroom cultures for more than 30 years, and I recognize the attitude. Only liberals can see the world clearly. Conservatives are prevented by their warped and ungenerous views from recognizing the world as it is.
When a conservative book comes out, the author usually spends some time talking about the media. The NewsBusters Book Review will provide excerpts from these passages and/or interview authors to learn what they think of the media and explain what they wrote.
But today's is a liberal book, co-written by the founder of Daily Kos.
Although Daily Kos does not have much of a track record for electoral success, we are going to look at the book's media commentary.
It's surprising to learn that Ann Coulter admits conservatives now control the media and that Free Republic is a "web publication." It also should be news that "conservative talk radio stagnates" while Air America Radio flourishes.
Howard Kurtz profiled Keith Olbermann for his Monday "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post with the headline "A Gadfly With Buzz: MSNBC's Olbermann Exercising The Right." For his part, Keith showed his membership in the liberal media elite by beginning with the utterly fatuous claim of nonpartisanship: "The former sportscaster denies that he's pushing an ideological agenda, noting that he relentlessly covered the uproar over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in his first incarnation as an MSNBC anchor in 1998."
Kurtz isn't buying, either: "Of course, he was so sickened by the spectacle that he quit, complaining about the media's role in the tawdry process, though he now gives every indication of enjoying his anti-Bush program." (There's also the on-air content that displays an agenda, such as...comparing Ken Starr to Himmler.)
After NEWSWEEK ran a Periscope item claiming the U.S. military had flushed a Koran down a toilet, leading to rioting, Laura ordered: "I don't want NEWSWEEK around the house!"
Laura Bush became so disgusted with the media and their war against her husband that at one point, she told her public relations person Noelia Rodriguez she did not want to do any more media interviews. After about a month, she slowly resumed talking to the press.
A close friend of Laura's, Pamela Nelson, asks Laura how she's doing. Laura replies, "Well, it's the Kitty Kelly book and Dan Rather this week..."
In a week in which immigration has unquestionably been the big story, how did Newsweek choose to frame the issue? The national security implications of a porous border, perhaps? The impact on our economy of millions of illegals, some of whom work, some of whom are a drain on social services? Come on. We're talking the magazine whose most visible reporter is Eleanor Clift. Newsweek chose to focus on . . . the plight of illegal immigrants, with its cover blaring "Illegals Under Fire".
Consider that editors scrutinize every word on the cover of a national newsweekly for its implications and impact. They didn't choose "Under Fire" randomly. With its allusions to lethal force, and printed in red, Newsweek was sending a not-so-subliminal message.
Edited out of the two-page opus of little ersatz Notable Quotables for April Fools Day were two entries satirizing Chris Matthews and his tendency to burp movie citations about every five minutes of "Hardball." Geoff Dickens, who is the official watcher of "Hardball," weaved real MSNBC sentences with imagined ones:
Matthews: "Howard, this President is trying to distract the public from the images they see every day in Iraq by faulting the media, the good guys! But, I mean, this reminds me of that old Groucho Marx gag: Who are you going to believe, me or your eyes? But, seriously, what does the President need to do to stop his slide in the polls before the elections?
Howard Fineman, Newsweek: "Chris, as the midterms approach, what Bush can't do is run as Tom Cruise any more, not run as Top Gun. That's not going to work any more, I think. He's trying to run as Jack Bauer on domestic security."
A small-time member of Canada's parliament made headlines today by sending out and later retracting a column which called for jail time for reporters who "fabricate stories, or twist information and even falsely accuse citizens."
Colin Mayes, a Conservative from British Columbia, issued his remarks in a column sent out to newspapers in his district.
The Globe and Mail has a recap. Full text of the column is after the jump.
In a statement issued Friday, Mr. Mayes said he is retracting the comments "without reservation."
Mr. Mayes adds that he fully respects the freedom of the press and regrets making the earlier comments.
The column was e-mailed Thursday to nine small Okanagan papers, as well as the Vernon Daily Courier, by Wayne McGrath, Mr. Mayes's executive assistant.
"Maybe it is time that we hauled off in handcuffs reporters that fabricate stories, or twist information and even falsely accuse citizens," he writes.
The Courier recently decided not to publish the MP's regular columns.
On Wednesday, David Wylie, the paper's managing editor, published an editorial saying [Canada's new Conservative prime miniser J Harper's media policies were "mimicking the ploys of an authoritarian state ..."
CNN says it is just thrilled by the transformation of Lou Dobbs—formerly a mild-mannered news anchor noted for his palsy-walsy interviews with corporate CEOs—into a raving populist xenophobe. Ratings are up. It's like watching one of those "makeover" shows that turn nerds into fops or bathrooms into ballrooms. According to the New York Times, this demonstrates "that what works in cable television news is not an objective analysis of the day's events," but "a specific point of view on a sizzling-hot topic."
But Kinsley says being objective is not a real goal.
Objectivity—the faith professed by American journalism and by its critics—is less an ideal than a conceit. It's not that all journalists are secretly biased, or even that perfect objectivity is an admirable but unachievable goal. In fact, most reporters work hard to be objective and the best come very close. The trouble is that objectivity is a muddled concept. Many of the world's most highly opinionated people believe with a passion that it is wrong for reporters to have any opinions at all about what they cover. These critics are people who could shed their own skins more easily than they could shed their opinions. But they expect it of journalists. It can't be done. Journalists who claim to have developed no opinions about what they cover are either lying or deeply incurious and unreflective about the world around them. In either case, they might be happier in another line of work.
Some might say it wasn't necessarily my finest moment at NewsBusters when, back in December, I speculated that, reporting from a chilly Rockefeller Plaza, Today's Matt Lauer might have been wearing a Palestinian 'solidarity scarf.' See Keffiyeh-Gate?
At the time, I noted that:
So-called "Palestinian support scarves" have become items of radical fashion chic. Check out this web-site, which advertises "Palestinian support scarves," explaining:
"The traditional Palestinian headdress has become a symbol of support for the Palestinian people against the Israeli occupation. From political rallies to talk shows, supporters of the Palestinian cause have begun donning this traditional scarf as a show of solidarity." [emphasis added]
This morning’s Jerusalem Post has a wrap on yesterday’s elections, which saw the once-dominant Likud party drop to fourth place, winning only 11 seats in the new parliament. One of the Likud members ousted in yesterday’s election says that some Israeli media outlets were blatantly biased against Likud and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, which stood against plans to transfer West Bank settlements to the Palestinians.
An excerpt from the Post story, which had multiple bylines:
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post took up a Dave Mastio post from Real Clear Politics yesterday on the media's pattern of hiring writers from liberal opinion journals, but not conservative ones. His argument: hey, since when did conservative magazine writers apply at the Post? Easy retort: does Kurtz believe they would be hired if they did? (Actually, there is one example: Malcolm Gladwell went from the American Spectator to the Post, and became more and more liberal until he vanished into their mainstream. Now, of course, he's a best-selling author.) Here's how the argument bubbled. First, Mastio:
"There is a literal conveyor belt from left-wing opinion journalism into straight news reporting and editing slots. The New Republic, The American Prospect and The Washington Monthly are the biggest suppliers. That opportunity simply isn't open to those on the right.
"Can anyone name for me a current New York Times or Washington Post reporter who was previously on the staff of National Review, The Weekly Standard or The American Spectator? No? Maybe that's because there are none."
Keith Olbermann might be on vacation, but that doesn't mean MSNBC's mean-spiritedness took a day off. If guest host Alison Stewart was auditioning for the Olbermann seat, she might well have ingratiated herself with her MSNBC bosses with the disdain she dispensed on the day of Caspar Weinberger's death.
Weinberger passed away today at age 88. He had served as President Reagan's Secretary of Defense. As Bloomberg News put it:
"Weinberger . . . oversaw the U.S. military buildup under President Ronald Reagan that helped hasten the Soviet Union's collapse."
Wouldn't you think that someone who fashions his show "Hardball" would have the intestinal fortitude to invite on at least one guest who disagrees with his world view? At least tonight, Chris Matthews apparently thought that unnecessary.
Here was Matthews guest line-up this evening:
Philippe Sands: left-wing Brit, author of a new book, Lawless World, accusing Pres. Bush of having decided very early on in the game to go to war against Iraq.
Susan Page: reporter for the Dem-friendly USA Today. Let's call the affable Page a voice of the more reasonable realms of the center-left media.
Craig Crawford: the snarky MSNBC/CBS political analyst who enjoys taking snide shots at the Bush administration.
Charlie Cook: political pollster, he of the Cook Political Report. Call Cook reasonably down-the-middle, but consider that the bouquets he placed in his own bio come from the NY Times, Bob Schieffer Al Hunt and David Broder. No one has ever accused Cook of being a Republican.
Sure, Matthews has had his share of Republican guests. But couldn't he have found at least one to round out tonight's left-leaning/Bush antagonist line-up?
Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” (hat tip to Crooks and Liars) spent a lot of time Sunday addressing the firestorm started this week by radio host Laura Ingraham over negative media reports out of Iraq. One of Kurtz’s guests was Lara Logan of CBS who was clearly not pleased with these assertions. In fact, Logan, reporting from Iraq, appeared rather defensive (video link to follow).
Kurtz began the show:
“Souring on the war. As President Bush goes toe to toe with White House reporters, are news organizations turning against the war in Iraq? Are they focusing almost exclusively on the car bombings and mosque attacks and brushing aside signs of progress? Three years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, are they playing to the opinion polls with skeptical, even hostile coverage, or is the administration just blaming the messenger.”
After a few video clips of the president and vice president, Kurtz said to Logan: “Bush and Cheney essentially seem to be accusing you and your colleagues of carrying the terrorist message by reporting on so many of these attacks. What do you make of that?”
Logan responded: “Well, I think that's -- that is a very convenient way of looking at it.” Logan then blamed the lack of balance in Iraq media reports on security issues:
Is Neal Gabler jealous of Helen Thomas' status as a leading Bush media antagonist? You might think so, judging by the barbs Gabler aimed Thomas' way on this evening's Fox News Watch.
In discussing Thomas' pointed exchange with President Bush during this past week's press conference, Gabler, whose sole regular media job would seem to be his weekly appearance on Fox News Watch, did claim that Thomas' question as to the president's motivation in invading Iraq was a good one. But Gabler prefaced that comment by gratuitously observing: "Helen has asked dumb questions in her time."
Gabler later referred to Thomas as "a dotty old woman."
For those of you that missed it, Mark Steyn – one of the finest geopolitical writers on the current landscape – was Hugh Hewitt’s radio guest on Thursday (hat tips to Radio Blogger and Real Clear Politics with audio link to follow). The main topic of discussion was – you guessed it – mainstream media bias towards the war in Iraq. One of the best moments was when Steyn went after one of the most prominent media darlings:
“Tim Russert said today, he defended NBC, the media's Iraq coverage, by saying we capture reality. Yeah, they capture reality in the same sense that those insurgent guys capture people. They saw its head off and shout Allah Akhbar at reality. That's what they're doing when they capture reality. The reality of what's happening in Iraq is very different from what Tim Russert thinks it is.”
Steyn stated the main problem with the press coverage from the Middle East is the “herd think” mentality that emanates when these representatives all get together at bars and social gatherings to, intentionally or not, develop a consensus view:
Saturday's Washington Post front page featured the Michael Powell story, "Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder." The article begins by noting that three of the ten Massachusetts congressmen have called for an investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.
It then reports that four Vermont villages have, at town meetings, voted to impeach the president. The piece asserts that it's too early to anticipate the Bush presidency being toppled, "But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation..."
Then mentioned is last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors urging impeachment. Moreover, the state Democratic parties New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin have done the same thing.