Was it David Gregory, or an SNL parody of a biased liberal MSMer? The topic on this morning's Today show was whether media coverage of Iraq has presented a distorted picture. Under the circumstances, you might have thought Gregory would have feigned some facsimile of fairness. But his very first question to James Carville advanced the theory that . . . President Bush is a liar.
Asked Gregory: "Is the problem for this president and top administration officials that the public doesn't believe what they say anymore?"
Like a top point guard, Laura Ingraham tenaciously fought through the Gregory-Carville double-team to make her case. She pointed out that NBC and the Today show expended huge resources to cover the Olympics and even to answer the question "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" She suggested that they devote some of the same resources to broadcast the Today show directly from Iraq, that they accompany troops, speak with US and Iraqi military personnel and with villagers and see the reality on the ground.
Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, and while progress has been made, CBS’s the "Early Show" attempted to paint as bleak a picture as possible when discussing the war. In total, there were four stories regarding the Iraq war on this morning’s broadcast.
The first such story was a piece by CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Substitute co-host Russ Mitchell introduced the piece:
Russ Mitchell: "Despite escalating violence, President Bush insists the administration’s Iraq policy is working."
Bill Plante followed with a bleak assessment:
Bill Plante: "Well three years into the Iraq war with casualties mounting and no end in sight, the President and Vice President both see reason for optimism and they say there’s progress."
"A Sliding Scale for Victory" is another; it's a "news analysis" with the sub-head, "As the conflict in Iraq enters its fourth year and civil war threatens, the Bush administration is again working to lower expectations."
It's just another day on the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, right? Wrong. It's the above-the-fold front page (.pdf image) of Sunday's paper (March 19, 2006).
Arrogance: "a feeling or an impression of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptous claims." – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
The word is well-defined in sentences like these from the liberals:
[T]he right’s sustained accusation of "bias" is both a powerful organizing tool...and an effective way of "working the refs." Knowing that they face constant charges of bias, reporters respond by bending over backward to show how tough they can be on progressives and Democrats. In contrast, when Media Matters for America criticizes the news media, it’s for a simple reason: we want them to do their jobs and do them right.
There may be no more profound difference between the left and the right on media issues than this: progressives believe in journalism.
Have a look at the chart at the bottom and answer one simple question: what's the biggest gasoline-price story over the last six months? Sure looks as if it was the way gasoline prices nose-dived about 80 cents from September to November. Remember all those MSM stories highlighting the plunge? Neither do I.
But let market fluctuations push prices up about fifteen cents in the last month, and you can be sure that the MSM will start bemoaning 'soaring gas prices.'
As you can see from the screen capture, the Today show was at it this morning. In fact, as Today had to admit, we currently are enjoying "the biggest oil inventory in seven years," which normally would keep prices down. If there's a culprit in this scenario, perhaps we can thank those folks at Archer Daniels Midland and their friends in Congress who have forced ethanol down our throats and gas tanks.
ABC News' Internet site yesterday reported on summaries of four Iraqi documents from Saddam Hussein's government that were released by the U.S. government Wednesday. The first is an Iraqi intelligence service document tracing a relationship between Osama bin Laden and Hussein's government.
ABC News then added an "Editor's Note," which in part states:
"While the assertions contained in this document clearly support the claim (of a bin Laden-Hussein connection), the sourcing is questionable — i.e. an unnamed Afghan 'informant' reporting on a conversation with another Afghan 'consul.' The date of the document — four days after 9/11 — is worth noting but without further corroboration, this document is of limited evidentiary value."
When does healthy reportorial reserve cross the line into cynicism? Today's coverage this morning of Operation Swarmer, the counter-insurgency offensive in the Samarra region of Iraq, illustrates the issue.
NBC's skepticism was as clear as the legend that appeared on-screen throughout the segment: "Were Iraqi Targets Hit?" Surely it is appropriate to ask and try to answer how effective a military operation has been. But in openly wondering whether any targets were hit, Today perhaps comes close to labelling the operation a sham.
Questions about NBC's motives were only heightened when immediately following the Samarra segment, Today ran a piece, narrated by White House antagonist-in-chief David Gregory, which posed the question: "Politics of War: Can Bush Overcome Iraq?"
Citing a Thursday column from Baghdad by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the news media for delivering a “daily diet” of news about explosions while missing progress on the political front. Ignatius began his column: “There has been so much bad news out of Iraq lately that you have to pinch yourself when good things seem to be happening. But there are unmistakable signs here this week that Iraq's political leaders are taking the first tentative steps toward forming a broad government of national unity that could reverse the country's downward slide.” He concluded: “Pessimism isn't necessarily the right bet for Iraq.”
Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, observed, “Here's what struck me about it: David Ignatius reported about a lot of top level private meetings of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds of the number of meetings over, what, the last couple of weeks, I think. Where were the reporters? Why did David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, have to go over there and reveal that to us? I mean, the reporters ought to know about that. These are major figures politically in Iraq and we get nothing from them except word of explosions. From the other reporters -- that's the daily diet." (More from Barnes, and an excerpt from the Ignatius column, follow.)
You'd think that of all days, they'd be believers over at Today this morning. After all, they were blessed with presidential poll numbers for which they were surely praying. Numbers so low that Matt Lauer, Tim Russert et. al could spend an extended first segment reveling in them.
Ironically, in sowing some GOP dissent, Lauer even used the language of religion, suggesting the low numbers were "a blessing in disguise" for congressional Republicans because "they can look and say I don't have a popular president here, I can turn my back on that president." Remind Frist and Hastert not to invite you to the next GOP Unity Rally, Matt.
Every morning I log onto the worldwide web, not because I'm
a computer geek, but because I want to understand what's going on in
the world. I've
long since turned my back on the print media for accurate and timely
reporting, and it's getting to the point where I can't even bring
myself to watch a televised news broadcasts anymore, simply because tv
networks can't seem to report on much of anything these days without
intelligence with some sort of politically correct blather.
I also tune into various talk radio programs throughout the day,
because the conservative hosts which dominate the AM dial usually
manage to unearth interesting news articles that I just can't find
anywhere else, and they are the best in the business at researching the
facts behind the stories they cover, affording me a better perspective
on the news than I would otherwise have.
I thought the MSM is ardently opposed to the death penalty. Aren't these the same folks who wrung their collective hands at the prospect of poor Tookie Williams getting the needle? Sure, he murdered four people in cold blood and joked about it, but hey! - he wrote a children's book.
But, no! The Today show was distraught at the prospect that "the 20th hijacker" might have slipped the noose [or the needle]. They went so far as to play a clip from a family member of one of the 9/11 victims saying that "I felt like my husband had been killed again." Shades of that NAACP anti-Bush ad from 2000. See item #2 here of this MRC report.
Was this a news report, or a coming attraction for a new series about inter-generational love? Perhaps there's a third explanation: a not-too-subtle kiss blown in the direction of a soon-to-be new employer.
Amidst rampant speculation that Katie Couric might be leaving the Today show to anchor the CBS Evening News, Couric narrated a segment on this morning's Today on the occasion of Mike Wallace's announcement this week that he will be retiring from '60 Minutes'. If you think it's impossible to sustain a gush for five minutes, you obviously weren't watching Katie this morning.
Excerpts from Katie's paen to Wallace:
He "seems to succeed at everything except slowing down."
"Fearless and willing to ask anything."
"How do you stay so vibrant, so active, so alert and continue to work so hard?"
His departure "leaves big shoes for 60 Minutes to fill."
"His legend will never fade."
Back in the studio, when Matt Lauer observed that "at 88, he is astounding," Katie offered up the ultimate accolade:
Tom Fox, a member of the anti-American Christian Peacekeeper Teams, has been
murdered by terrorists in Iraq who held him hostage for more than three months,
the New York Times reported on Saturday.
the paper carried a follow-up report that Fox "had apparently been tortured
by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a
trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad."
CBS News chose the day President Bush launched a series of speeches, intended to boost support for the Iraq war, to highlight a poll which found most Americans are much more pessimistic than is the President. In laying out on Monday's CBS Evening News a series of poll findings, including how 66 percent feel Bush has been describing the “things in Iraq” as “better than they are,” both Bob Schieffer and Jim Axelrod skipped the finding that, while the media fare better than Bush, nearly a third (31 percent) say the media “make things sound worse in Iraq than they really are,” compared to 24 percent who perceive the media are describing things “better than they are” and 35 percent who think journalism on Iraq “accurately” reflects the situation.
Schieffer rattled off how the percent who believe the "war is going badly” is up while the percent who see future success is down since January, before Jim Axelrod followed Bush's warning, that the terrorists want to start a civil war, with a survey finding which matched the media's mantra: "Seven of ten Americans say Iraq is already in a civil war. Another 13 percent say it will be." Pouring on the dour numbers, Axelrod asserted: "The President wants to rally Americans, but public opinion is fading fast. Only 43 percent now believe Iraq will become a stable democracy. A 15 point drop in just two months." Axelrod concluded: “With suicide bombs now going off nearly every day in Iraq, it will take some real progress on the ground and not just speeches to revive American's optimism.” You certainly can't count on the media for any optimism. Lara Logan soon checked in from Baghdad with how “there is grave concern amongst leaders here that civil war is exactly where this country is heading.”(Transcript follows.)
On C-SPAN’s Sunday night Brian Lamb interview show "Q & A," MSNBC "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann lit into Fox News Channel in an extended rant, suggesting that its demise was the "best hope of mankind." He could not believe their "fear"-based marketing strategy about being an oasis of balance in a liberal media world, was just agog at "the idea that there are vast [media] structures designed to foment liberal causes."
He also oddly claimed that while now he’s described as a "screaming liberal," no one called him that in his previous MSNBC stint during the Lewinsky scandal. Correction: the MRC gave him an award for outrageousness for comparing Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr to Nazi commander Heinrich Himmler.
Eric Newton, director of journalism initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami and a volunteer judge for the National Journalism Awards, lists all the accomplishments of journalists in the past year:
Since you won't learn what everyday journalists do from watching talk shows, let's run down a list of what they have actually done this past year, drawn from the entries to the National Journalism Awards:
• Died in war zones so we can know what was really happening.
• Risked their lives to warn their towns when bad hurricanes were coming.
• Explained how Social Security works and how to fix it.
• Revealed how crooked public servants squandered public money.
Mainstream outlets love it when Republicans knock their own, don't they? Sunday's opinion section of the Los Angeles Times (March 12, 2006, called "Current") devoted no less than four articles to a Bush-bashing feature called "Conservative Crackup." The theme? Because of President Bush, the GOP faces an "identity crisis" and "discomfort." Oh, yeah. And Iraq has been "an astonishing flop."
"Bush is not a conservative. He has bushwhacked the term. He is a right-wing ideologue," spits Jeffrey Hart ... "Democrat Bill Clinton's administration is looking more and more like the 'good old days'," writes Bruce Bartlett ... President Bush has "made the Democrats look like a credible alternative," claims Daniel Drezner.
On Saturday the Associated Press ran a story on the 2006 National Black Peoples Unity Convention held in Gary, Indiana. It begins: "Entertainer Harry Belafonte renewed his criticism of President Bush and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan urged education reform during the second day of the 2006 National Black Peoples Unity Convention."
Portraying Belafonte, who had his last big hit record half a century ago, as an entertainer is stretching it. He would much more accurately be described as a propagandizing dupe.
Here's a man who has raised money for the Rosenberg Fund, named after atomic bomb spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Who hailed Fidel Castro as "an example of keeping the principles the Rosenbergs fought and died for alive." Who participated in pro-Communist "peace rallies" in Europe.
On this morning's Face The Nation, Bob Schieffer asked Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama about ethics reform, which the anchor said "looks like it's just almost about to slide right off the table."
Senator Obama responded: "Well, I'm not going to let it slide off the table." He went on to say that "We're going to try to see if we can ban some of the corporate jets that are being used and perks."
Mr. Schieffer could have followed up with a question concerning the senator's own practices in that area. Last month in "The Hill," reporter Lynn Sweet wrote: "In 2005, Obama took 23 such private aircraft flights, some to attend fundraisers he headlined."
Being an early-to-bed type, I taped SNL overnight and was playing it this morning when Good Morning America's Sunday show came on. Watching co-host Kate Snow's performance, I was tempted to double-check to make sure I hadn't inadvertently hit the VCR button in the midst of a parody of vacuous blonde MSMer.
The screen capture here is revealing. When it comes to posing prettily, Snow's a peppy pro. But when it came to substance, she revealed not merely a tired MSM bias, but a lack of preparation and perhaps an even more inherent flaw.
For starters, consider Snow's choice of sources. She began by citing the NY Times, and had as her expert guest John Dickerson of the left-leaning online magazine Slate.
As has been well-documented by Media Research Center [parent organization of NewsBusters], while MSMers are loath to label anyone or anything 'liberal,' they don't hesitate to brand various entities or individuals 'conservative' or 'right-wing.' Well, folks, I believe we have a new world record in the category.
On tonight's Fox News Watch, in the course of discussing the case of Colorado teacher Jay Bennish - who compared President Bush to Hitler - liberal [there, I said it] Neal Gabler managed to utter the term 'right-wing' four times . . . in 14 seconds. Yes, I checked it by my VCR timer.
School District to Taxpayers and Parents: Up Yours ..... and the Homeschooling Movement Gets a Yet Another Shot in the Arm:Here is yet another reason for parents to homeschool their children if at all possible (By the way, the story is hopelessly slanted -- The lecture was objectively biased; plus, the primary issue here is teaching the subject matter, and secondarily the political indoctrination Jay Bennish engaged in while not doing his job):
Bennish to teach again
Punishment not revealed; teacher returns Monday
An Aurora social studies teacher accused of giving a biased lecture that sparked national debate over academic freedom was reinstated Friday after assuring administrators he would give balanced viewpoints in all classroom discussions.
Saturday's Chicago Tribune includes a front page story titled, "The Bill they can't stomach: Voting Clinton's boyhood home a historic site too much for these 12 angry lawmakers." The article, written by senior correspondent William Neikirk, doesn't support the headline.
Yes, twelve Republican congressmen did vote against a bill, which passed with 409 votes, to name the former president's birthplace a national historic site. But characterizing them as "angry" isn't justified, at least not by anything appearing in the article. The closest thing to "angry" was a comment made by one opponent of the Clinton site that, "Maybe it should be a landmark. He is only the second president to be impeached." But that ranks pretty far down on the anger scale.
If ever Congress might have thought it was in for some Perky-One praise, it was this morning. After all, the kids on the Hill had just dealt President Bush a humiliating defeat on the ports deal, while safeguarding our terminals from those fanatical furriners.
But - surprise! - Katie came not to praise Congress, but to bury it.
Interviewing Tim Russert, Couric quickly turned the talk to the fact that "only 5% of the cargo coming into this country is checked. It might be one of the biggest national security threats we face as a nation in terms of terrorist attacks."
Katie then unloaded her shot in the guise of a question about Congress:
"Do they look feckless and misdirected by obsessing so much on this [UAE] issue and not perhaps looking at the big picture?"
How is anyone supposed to view Reuters as an unbiased and objective news agency when it publishes photos like this?
As you can see, the word "Retire" is perfectly framed behind the head of Vice President Dick Cheney. It just seems too "perfect" for this to be called an "accident." How much more evidence does one need to see that the MSM is simply downright hostile to this administration?
Just three weeks until the MRC's annual "DisHonors Awards." This year they will be held Thursday, March 30 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Seats are $250.00 each. Since the MRC is paying for this blog, I've decided that I'm allowed to post this plug -- but I'm also alerting everyone to the opportunity to attend a very popular event made possible by the MRC.
It's always a fun evening where we turn the tables on the press corps and play video clips on big screens to mock and laugh at their biased reporting. Last year we ended up oversold, and though we've moved to a bigger venue this year to accommodate a larger crowd, it would be wise to buy very soon. (Purchasing details, and look at past galas, follow.)
Dan Rather spoke at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey high school last night (Wednesday), South Jersey's Courier-Post reports this morning, and reporter Jim Walsh noted (without irony) that the disgraced and replaced CBS Evening News anchor proposed “Rather’s Rules” for improving journalism.
Isn’t that a bit like “Dr. Kevorkian’s Rules” for better medicine?
In his speech, Rather repeated his recent chiding of the national media for being too soft, and in “need of a spine transplant.” But when it came to his own journalistic transgression, the 2004 60 Minutes hit piece on President Bush's National Guard service -- a report based on forged memos -- Rather crouched behind his Nixonian stone wall:
University of Saskatchewan newspaper, The Sheaf, has gone over the top taking a jab at Christians. Just a week after the newspaper refused to run the Danish cartoons because it so offended militant rioters in Europe, the paper ran a cartoon of Jesus performing oral sex on a "capitalist pig". They are blaming it on "editorial oversight", the editor has already resigned.
The real story I'd like to point your attention to is the lack of coverage in the Antique Media with regard to this story; it happened a week ago tomorrow. Right now there is a whopping 7 articles on Google News from huge mainstream papers like "Novopress" and "Fort Frances Times", and while a story from the "Saskatoon Home Page" is listed on Google News, the story has been removed. Where are you LA Times, NY Times, and Boston Globe?
Such coverage may lead Kayne West to proclaim "MSM doesn't care about Jesus Christ."
Syndicated columnist and American Spectator editor in chief R. Emmett Tyrrell describes what Washington Post "columnist" Dana Milbank did, and what the paper's ombudsman did, when Milbank got the facts wrong about a debate at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. Tyrell chaired a debate between former congressman Bob Barr and former Justice Department official Viet Dihh on the merits and drawbacks of the president's eavesdropping program.
A report on the debate by Dana Milbank in the Washington Post proved to be clearly inaccurate, even mischievously inaccurate. Consequently, as it was a panel I presided over, I wrote a clarifying letter to the editor, sending a copy to the paper's Ombudsman. Mainstream media have created the quaint position of the Ombudsman out of concern for journalistic "ethics." My letter has never been printed, and the Ombudsman's response was another example of the liberal journalists' weirdness.
Here is the unpublished letter: "Dana Milbank's report of the Conservative Political Action Conference's debate on civil liberties, moderated by me, is inaccurate in matters large and small. Large: it is not true that 'the crowd was against' former congressman Bob Barr's libertarian criticism of the Bush Administration's surveillance policies. Both Bob and I considered the audience pretty evenly divided. There exists considerable disagreement among conservatives on this issue, as has been widely reported. Small: I am not 'a conservative publisher' but rather the editor in chief of The American Spectator, a position I have held for nearly 38 years. As such, I have been interviewed by Milbank in the past, and my last name has not one 'r' but two. Milbank botched my middle name as well. The American Spectator's publisher is Al Regnery whose name is easier to spell."
Nina Burleigh burst on the national scene in 1998 when, as reported by MRC here, the former Time reporter famously said of Bill Clinton: "I'd be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal."