According to Chris Matthews, conservative House Republicans who are holding steadfast on resisting a debt ceiling deal that includes tax hikes are like the apocryphal bovine of doom behind the 1871 fire that destroyed much of Chicago (video follows page break):
[Update, 11:10 am Monday July 18: Jenn Theis was identified on-screen by CBS as a "laid-off government worker." She wrote us to clarify that she was actually employed by a private business that is regulated by the Minnesota racing commission. Another guest from that segment, Chris Lapakko, wrote the author on Twitter on Saturday to call him a "dick."]
CBS turned to three Minnesota residents on Friday's Early Show for their take on the recent state government shutdown there, but their panel had a definite slant, as two out of three were state government workers, with one of them calling for "taxes on millionaires...to help the rest of us out." The third Minnesotan called on both sides to work it out. None of the three were clear conservatives.
Anchor Erica Hill interviewed Jenn Theis, Chris Lapakko, and Harley Reed during a segment 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, as they were sitting in a diner in Minneapolis. Hill first turned to Ms. Theis, who was identified on-screen as a "laid-off government worker," and asked her some softball questions about whether she was getting her job back and her feelings about the tentative resolution of the state budget impasse. The journalist also mentioned that the state employee has "gone through two weeks of no pay" and has a 13-month-old child.
Timothy Egan, liberal New York Times reporter turned left-wing, Rush Limbaugh-despising online columnist for nytimes.com, tried to smear fiscal conservatives in Congress as akin to the violent anarchists (actually leftists) who rampaged through Seattle in 1999 in a “protest” against the World Trade Organization, using hammers to smash windows of retail chain stores.
Amid shattered glass and the black smoke of urban pyres, I found myself in a riot some years ago -- the anarchists-led assault on the World Trade Organization meetings of 1999. At the height of what became known as The Battle of Seattle, I bumped into an otherwise mild-mannered, libertarian-leaning friend on the streets, gasping at the bitter taste of tear gas. He was ecstatic.
NPR's Sam Sanders gave some free publicity on Wednesday to a boycott organized online targeting Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. Sanders spotlighted the efforts of self-described "geek socialist" Chris Coltrane, who "wants people to vote against Murdoch" due to his supposed "unaccountable power." The writer also failed to include any quotes from supporters of the media tycoon.
I can't say that I'm up on what every state is doing, but it's hard not to notice contrasts between two trios of states singing decidedly different tunes:
Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, three states with recently elected conservative Republican governors, have either put their budgets to bed, or are on the verge of doing so, by cutting costs and not raising taxes.
Connecticut, Minnesota, and California, three states with recently elected liberal governors who are Democrats, are on the verge of a shutdown, serious layoffs, or issuing IOUs. All three governors have enacted or want tax increases.
At Big Government yesterday, Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King compiled overwhelming evidence refuting one key element of a cease-and-desist letter sent to Fox News by lawyers for former Obama administration "green jobs" czar Van Jones. In doing so, they referenced and credited a video I posted in September 2009 of an anti-American rally in Oakland, California on September 12, 2001 where Jones spoke. They pair did a great job, and I appreciate the credit.
I would like to give Taylor's and King's work greater visibility, and extend it just a bit, especially because you can virtually bank on the fact that the establishment press won't touch it -- or if they do, they won't accurately report it.
On Wednesday, all three major broadcast networks' morning shows played up a homosexual activist throwing glitter at Newt Gingrich during a book signing in Minneapolis. Both CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today show played footage of the attack on the Republican presidential hopeful at the top of their programs, while ABC's Good Morning initially failed to mention the left wing cause of the protester.
A minute into the 7 am Eastern hour of The Early Show, anchor Chris Wragge previewed a report on the former House Speaker's campaign woes from correspondent Jan Crawford by highlighting the video: "Look at this: a gay rights protester throws glitter all over Newt at an event last night." During the report itself eight minutes later, Crawford noted, "More embarrassment Tuesday in Minneapolis, when a gay rights activist glittered Gingrich at a book signing." The protester, which the AP tentatively identified as Nick Espinosa, shouted during the attack, "Feel the rainbow, Newt. Stop the hate! Stop anti-gay politics!"
Pro-government union protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere have provided some stunning insight into the double standards that pervade coverage of major protest movements. One such double standard lies in media treatment of threats against public officials. News of the release of more than 100 pages of documented threats against officials of both parties in Wisconsin has brought that double standard to light.
Very often such threats are most intensely focused on a single individual perceived as the leader of the ideological or political opposition. President Obama was the target of perhaps less overt, if certainly as menacing threats during the early stages of his administration when a handful of demonstrators brought firearms to a presidential town hall meeting. That of course dominated the airwaves for the following week, as many in the media bemoaned what they presented almost uniformly as hints at assassination.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, like President Obama, became the target of much of the rage from pro-union demonstrators. And like Obama, Walker received some very vocal - and in many cases more overt - threats against his life. Unlike threats against the president, however, those directed at Walker have received scant press attention outside of Wisconsin media.
CBS's Early Show on Wednesday played up how opponents of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan shouted down GOP representatives at recent town hall meetings, but downplayed them as "less than friendly," and marveled at their apparently "poignant" questions. The network also omitted how liberal groups targeted these meetings, and trumpeted the "nasty national shouting match" at health care town hall meetings in 2009.
News anchor Jeff Glor noted how "House Republicans are back home for the first time since passing an aggressive deficit cutting plan, including the architect of that plan, Congressman Paul Ryan." Glor used the "less than friendly" label immediately before playing a clip of an unidentified protester shouting, "Ryan, stop lying!" outside a town hall meeting held by the Republican in Wisconsin, and another of a woman who directly accused him of "screwing our generation and the next generation."
As previously documented by NewsBusters, Helen Thomas - former columnist and White House correspondent for both UPI and Hearst Newspapers - was scheduled to speak at a left-wing anti-Israel rally next month during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to America. But the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Thomas "withdrew her participation fearing she will become the focus of the events."
Thomas, who last year infamously was recorded declaring that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, was quoted as saying of the upcoming protest, "I am delighted that people are coming together for this gathering, and I want to make sure that the focus stays on AIPAC and U.S. policy, not me."
A statement released by the organizers of the "Move Over AIPAC" Rally reads:
The Republicans did not win this budget fight, but the cuts they were able to extract illustrate, ironically, that Democrats are finally on the defensive. Scorekeeping aside, we must build on this non-victory because it was also a Democratic retreat.
Last week, I argued that the GOP should not cave on the budget negotiations for many reasons, including that today is not 1995-96. Things are so much different now, especially because of the existential threat to the republic that the exploding national debt represents.
CNN's Soledad O'Brien's Sunday documentary about the controversial mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee predictably leaned towards the local Muslims who want it built. O'Brien brushed aside an opponent's concerns over Sharia law in the U.S.: "In New York City, we have a big Muslim community. There is no Sharia law [there]." She also omitted how a featured Muslim woman is related to one of the mosque's planners (audio available here).
Forty-five minutes into her hour-long documentary, which aired at 8 pm Eastern, the journalist noted the fall 2010 trial which asked for an injunction to halt the construction of the mosque, but instead of reporting that the trial focused on concerns that the approval of the mosque "did not provide adequate public comment and that its members will impose Sharia Law on Murfreesboro residents," as a local newspaper reported, O'Brien spun this by playing up how, apparently, "in a small courtroom in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Islam was on trial." She then explained that "opponents claim the facility would increase traffic, damage water quality, and provide a foothold for radical Muslims and Islamic law."
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?
Union protests against a Republican governor as well as mass demonstrations aimed at an Egyptian President have been the central focus of our news media the past two months.
But as Big Government's Susan Swift reported Sunday, Brazilians protesting the imminent arrival of Barack Obama hours after he launched missiles at a country that didn't attack America is not considered newsworthy to his many fans in the press here:
On Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, fill-in host Norah O'Donnell touted "court challenges and recall efforts now that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill into law restricting collective bargaining rights." Turning to former SEIU President Andy Stern, she proclaimed: "100,000 protesters took to the [Wisconsin] capital this weekend....That's a huge rally."
Stern argued: "...that is enormous and I think it just makes the point this is not over....People are very angry and this has become quite a symbolic moment." O'Donnell then lamented: "And yet, the Governor was able to sign this bill into law." She later added: "You think actually there's been a backlash that has mobilized all the pro-union forces, as a result, all across the country." Stern responded: "I think it's an American moment where people say, 'We understand we have to share in the pain when things are bad but we don't think we have to lose our rights, lose our unions, and have large corporations and some of the members of the Republican party act in such a destructful [destructive] manner.'"
Even as the Republican governor of Wisconsin was signing a bill Friday that all but ended collective bargaining for state employees, Democrats nationally had put out advertisements and letters to use his own success against him.
In a push to raise money for their candidates, Democrats hope Wisconsin will be for them what the health care overhaul was for Republicans in last year’s midterm elections: a galvanizing force for their base, and an example of overreaching that will win them crucial independent voters, not just in Wisconsin but also in Congressional races and the presidential election next year.
That’s not exactly how the Times covered the passage of Obama-care. Adam Nagourney’s front-page “political memo” of March 23, 2010, “For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too,” strongly suggested Republicans could pay a political price for opposing Obama-care. (Oops.)
CNN's Joe Johns hyped a recent Michael Moore speech on Monday's Newsroom as "incredible" and "riveting." Johns highlighted a clip from the left-wing film director, who spoke at a pro-union rally in Madison, Wisconsin, where he claimed that "America is not broke...The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands! It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers...to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich."
Anchor Brooke Baldwin brought on the correspondent for the regular "Political Pop" segment 40 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour, and asked about Moore's March 5, 2011 address in Madison. Johns immediately gushed over the director's words:
BALDWIN: What was he up to in Madison?
JOE JOHNS: Yeah. Well, it was a speech and it was really pretty incredible. Have you seen it by the way?
Reporting on the passage of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposal to curb public union benefits and bargaining power, on Thursday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Cynthia Bowers referred to the union protestors in the state capital and declared: "After three weeks of relative restraint, passions ran over today."
That "restraint" has included threats against Republican state lawmakers (with an angry mob surrounding one of them), protestors storming the state capitol building, and signs comparing Governor Walker to Adolf Hitler. As a Media Research Center Media Reality Check detailed, the networks have failed to report on the most extreme actions of the protestors, while they were eager to condemn the "incivility" of the Tea Party.
Friday’s New York Times off-lead story from Madison by Monica Davey and A.G. Sulzberger, in the aftermath of a defeat for public-sector unions in Wisconsin, spun the win by Republican Gov. Scott Walker as a long-term political victory for Democrats: “Wisconsin Curbs Public Unions, But Democrats Predict Backlash.” The online headline was even more blunt: “In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Big Gift.” Walker has evidently awoken “the sleeping giant” of labor unions (as if they had previously stayed out of politics).
By contrast, there was no such wishful thinking or hunt for the bright side for the losers in the aftermath of the fiercely contested passage of unpopular Obama-care last year. Adam Nagourney’s front-page “political memo” of March 23, 2010, “For G.O.P., United Stand Has Drawbacks, Too,” suggested Republicans could pay a political price for opposing Obama-care. (It didn’t quite work out that way.)
CNN's Deborah Feyerick performed a cut-and-paste job on Thursday's Newsroom by partially re-running a biased report from September 2010 on the apparent rise of "Islamophobia" in the United States. Just as before, all but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her report came from those who were worried about the supposed "intensifying hostility and rise in hate speech" against Muslims.
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 40 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, by putting it in the context of Rep. Peter King's hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims: "King says his radicalization of Islam hearing is going to help protect America from a terrorist attack. Well, critics, they call it a witch hunt. One of the concerns is that it is going to cause more Americans to fear and hate Muslims. Our Deborah Feyerick reports Islamophobia is on the rise." A chyron echoed Malveaux's last sentence: "Islamophobia on the Rise."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge declared: "War in Wisconsin. Democrats cry foul as Republicans break a three-week deadlock over the budget battle with a surprise late-night vote." Minutes later, he remarked that the "long standoff over a plan to roll back union rights for state workers is suddenly just about over."
In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers described the Republican legislative move as drastic: "In an audacious tactic that will likely be debated for years in Wisconsin, Republican senators yesterday, in a matter of 30 minutes, managed to ram through controversial legislation." She continued to push the idea that it was a shock: "After nearly three weeks of intense protest that sparked a nationwide debate, last night the Wisconsin Senate rushed in to a surprise vote to cut nearly all collective bargaining power from public workers."
Recently, the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) released a video showing a group of protestors exhibiting anti-Muslim sentiments outside an ICNA fundraising dinner. Liberal media outlets ran with the press release as a way to highlight bigotry towards Muslims, with the video showing up on The Guardian, Think Progress, Salon, Mediaite, Huffington Post, and Hillary Clinton’s source for ‘real news’, Al Jazeera. Problem being, the video and press release is so wrought with false statements, distortions, and a cut and paste documentary style, it could have passed as a Michael Moore film.
Naturally, these news outlets casually gloss over the ICNA’s controversial ties to radical clerics, terrorist organizations, and the implementation of Sharia law. Outlined previously, the group has hosted events with such speakers as radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and one of the keynote speakers at this particular fundraiser. Additionally, the group has documented ties to Hamas, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
All facts which seemingly bear little relevance as to why there would be a protest in the first place. But even beyond an exploration of reasons behind the protest, is concern that these media outlets would present a distorted video as evidence of anything other than their own journalistic malpractice.
In a short video on the New York Times's website, Brian Stelter, the paper's media reporter, comments on the "interesting" trend of cable news reporters "taking sides" in the Wisconsin budget battle - with Fox News on the right and MSNBC on the left, of course - and supposedly twisting facts to fit partisan narratives.
Asked about commentators "looking for a certain narrative on the way in" - even when the facts don't support it - Stelter singled out Bill O'Reilly and Ed Schultz as indicative of the trend. But he needn't look so far from home. The Times's own partisan pugilist, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, has consistently twisted facts in an effort to fit the Wisconsin debate into a leftist narrative.
Kate Zernike, Tea Party-beat reporter for the New York Times, whose reporting on the movement is marked by hostility and unfounded suspicions of racism, switched to the pro-union left-wing protests in Wisconsin for the front of the Sunday Week in Review, “As Goes Wisconsin...” The subhead: “The Midwest’s legacy of labor activism -- and conservative pushback -- are both in play today at the Capitol in Madison.”
Zernike set out the contradictory history of labor in Wisconsin before moving on to the top names on the liberal enemy’s list, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is demanding limits on public-sector unions, and the Koch brothers, whose vast philanthropy includes donations to groups all along the political spectrum.
The Media Research Center is out with another edition of our bi-weekly Notable Quotables newsletter, a compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Highlights from this issue include: Network reporters contrasting left-wing union protests in Wisconsin with recent uprisings against brutal Middle Eastern dictators, and journalists suggesting a “coordinated” Republican “assault on unions,” with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski badgering Governor Scott Walker: “How this is not an attempt to crush the unions.”
In other NQ news, we think we’ve finally fixed the problems that have plagued MRC’s e-mail newsletters over the past few weeks, so if you’d like to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to Notable Quotables or any of the MRC’s other fine newsletters, click here.
Now, here’s a sample of our best quotes from the past two weeks, including six video clips — for the full edition (Web page or full-color, printer-friendly PDF), visit www.MRC.org.
Apparently, someone who broke his vows and trashed his former church is a worthy guest, in CNN's eyes, for a discussion on the Supreme Court, as on Thursday's Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon turned to "Padre Alberto" Cutie for his take on the Court's recent decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church. Cutie took issue with the ruling: "I don't think the First Amendment should protect hatred in the public forum, and I think that's where the law makes its biggest mistake....Nobody has the right in the 21st century to propagate hate."
Lemon brought on the Episcopalian pastor, along with CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin and John Ellsworth of Military Families United, for a panel discussion segment 51 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour. After asking Ellsworth for his response to the Supreme Court ruling, the anchor raised Westboro's extreme beliefs with Cutie: "So Father, listen, do you consider Westboro- most people don't consider it a legitimate church, okay? But is this- aren't they saying the same thing that's reinforced by religion that's being preached from the pulpit in many churches on Sunday?"
During a report on the latest developments in Wisconsin for Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Cynthia Bowers proclaimed that the 14 Democratic state senators who fled to Illinois to block Governor Walker's budget proposal from passing have "become heroes to protesters." She lamented: "Now comes word, albeit from a Republican, some may be ready to come home and concede."
Bowers used the "hero" label following a sound bite from one of the fugitive state senators, Jon Erpenbach: "For him [Walker] to use dedicated public servants who clear our roads, take care of our sick, teach our kids, as poker chips is ridiculous." At the end of her report, news reader Jeff Glor wondered: "Any timetable right now, as far as you know, of when those Democratic senators might return to Wisconsin?" Bowers replied: "No. But the Senate Majority Leader did indicate to us that some of them want to come home. It's just a matter of how to finesse it, so they don't appear to be the bad guy in this with their constituents, and the protesters."
In response to a question from Klein about "the animosity between unions and workplaces" (that is what Klein says he said), Stern made an interesting assertion that most readers probably took at face value:
We grew up in that culture. In the '30s, people didn't want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes . . . we had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. It's not viewed through that light anymore.
At the top of Saturday's CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cheered unions protests across the country: "Workers uniting. 50 rallies are planned in 50 states today, as organizers show solidarity with Wisconsin state workers, fighting to preserve their right to collectively bargain for benefits and work conditions."
Introducing the segment later, fellow co-host Rebecca Jarvis noted how the protests were organized by MoveOn.org. Rather than accurately label the organization as left-wing, she simply referred to it as "an advocacy group." In the report that followed, correspondent Cynthia Bowers announced that "workers who are coming to these rallies around the country to support Wisconsin workers are being told to wear those red t-shirts we've become so familiar with." The headline on screen throughout the segment referenced Karl Marx: "Workers of the Nation Unite; 50 State Rallies to Support Union Rights."