Trent Lott, once a favored whipping boy of the mainstream media for unfortunate and poorly-worded comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash, is now being hailed by the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman as a great statesman as he exits the U.S. Senate.
Weisman's page A4 profile, "As Lott Leaves the Senate, Compromise Appears to Be a Lost Art," paints a picture of a U.S. Senate descending into perpetual gridlock thanks to partisanship. Yet Weisman seems to lay all the blame for partisan gridlock on Republican shoulders, assigning no blame to the Democrats who now control the august deliberative body.:
States once represented by common-ground dealmakers, including John Breaux (D-La.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.), James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), are now electing ideological stalwarts, such as David Vitter (R-La.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
Only one of those "stalwarts" is a liberal, the socialist professor-turned-politician Bernie Sanders. Other left-wing ideologues like Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and of course Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) apparently escaped Weisman's attention.
Indeed, while Reid's Senate is one-half of a Congress with abysmal public approval ratings, Weisman lamented that with the Senate "almost dysfunctional" that "new power centers," such as "pragmatist" dealmakers like Trent Lott "are difficult to find."
In his "Final Word" at the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer made the cliched charge:
Candidates now race to tell us what we want to hear. They load us down with spin, tiptoe around controversial issues, and give us tortured explanations of how a change in their position really wasn't a change at all.
This pandering to popular public sentiment toward politicians was brought on by Schieffer quoting a November 20 Op/Ed piece by "New York Times" commentator David Brooks, who wrote of Rudy Giuliani’s recent shift to a tougher stance against illegal immigration. Schieffer took the last line of the "Times" article, where Brooks lamented how "Some day Rudy Giuliani will look back on this moment and wonder why he didn't run as himself." How dare Giuliani pander to those right-wingers who want secure borders.
Mary Katharine Ham briefly chatted with CNN's Anderson Cooper and David Bohrman about tomorrow's CNN/YouTube debate and concerns about the agenda of questions that will be picked. For the whole thing, go here, but I just had to share this priceless gem (my emphasis in bold). First Ham's question, then Cooper's answer:
Q: There’s been a bit of scandal about the screening that CNN did on its “undecided voters” for the last Democratic debate. The diamonds-and-pearls question was attacked by the questioner herself. There were some allegations that several of the voters were in fact liberal activists on quite a few issues (and one Democratic Party operative). What’s the process for checking these YouTube questioners and their affiliations?
AC: “Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job...
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
Apparently bridge has officially become edgy and provocative. I must not have gotten the memo.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm interviewed a championship bridge team that held up a sign that read "We didn’t vote for Bush," at the World Bridge Championship in China last month. As a result of this dissent, many in the mainstream media have dubbed the women the "Dixie Chicks of Bridge."
Co-host Julie Chen teased the segment at the top of the show by portraying the bridge players as victims: "Four previously mild-mannered bridge champions facing backlash and a ban for criticizing President Bush." Later, co-host Harry Smith made the Dixie Chicks comparison, lamenting:
Remember when the Dixie Chicks caused a firestorm of controversy back in 2003? Natalie Maines said she was ashamed of our foreign -- of U.S. foreign policy, criticizing President Bush. It was just ten days before the beginning of the war in Iraq. Radio stations burned their CDs. No one would play their songs. Now a much quieter group, some call the "Dixie Chicks of Bridge" is caught up in a somewhat similar storm of controversy. They had just won an international bridge tournament in China when one of them held up a sign. See what the sign says? "We didn't vote for Bush." We're going to talk to them in this half hour.
As we at NewsBusters have noticed, the media often pass off professional or semi-professional liberal activists as average Joes and Janes. The effect, of course, is to give a feel of authenticity to the problems, real or perceived, that these folks are struggling with, and often demand government intervention for.
So it's not surprising that the "undecided voters" in the recent Democratic debate in Vegas were often liberal activists. Bryan Preston of Hot Air looked into it. You can check out his blog entry here, or watch the embedded video posted above. (h/t Michelle Malkin)
Facing a budget shortfall due in large part to overspending in years past, Gov. Martin O'Malley called a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to consider a package of tax hikes and a referendum on legalizing slot machines. Now that the freshman Democratic governor has proven successful in pushing through both, the Washington Post congratulated O'Malley with a front page article replete with pats on the back and attaboys from O'Malley's fellow Democrats. The icing on the cake: a signing ceremony photograph (shown above*) of O'Malley that appears to show him pumping his fist in victory.
Staff writer John Wagner opened his November 20 article with triumphal language that painted O'Malley as a respected statesman:
The lead story on Friday’s CBS "Early Show" focused on the Democratic debate and celebrated Hillary Clinton’s comeback as co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "This morning, Hillary's camp declares a landslide as the Dems sling mud, exchange barbs, in the feistiest debate yet." The segment began with a report by CBS White House Correspondent, Jim Axelrod, who described how, "Hillary Clinton's two top rivals didn't waste any time attacking her...[she] looked confident, taking the attacks in stride." Axelrod later concluded his report by declaring that:
Her performance at this debate makes her prior stumble look like an isolated event. The story line now goes back to Hillary the sure-footed front-runner, where it will stay. At least for now.
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning" this past weekend, reporter Martha Teichner did a profile of recently deceased ultra left-wing author, Norman Mailer, who she described as "... a hell of a big man for a short guy, scrappy, brilliant, controversial. Slugging away at life and letters until the very end." Of course, this was the same Norman Mailer that said of the World Trade Center in October 2001: "Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel, which consequently had to be destroyed."
Later Teichner remarked that "Mailer was unapologetically liberal, anti-war, anti-Nixon, anti-establishment." Well, he certainly was "anti-establishment" when he said to a "London Telegraph" reporter in February 2002, "America has an almost obscene infatuation with itself...The right wing benefitted so much from September 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it."
At another point, Teichner observed that "Norman Mailer loved playing the political provocateur." That proved true when in 2003, Mailer asserted to the "London Times" that, "Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in...."
In what began as a Veterans Day tribute to African-American military veterans, a segment on Sunday’s CBS "Sunday Morning,"soon became a rant against the Bush Administration as reporter Bill Whitaker exclaimed:
The concerned Department of Defense has studied why black enlistment has plummeted and found that many of the so-called "influencers" in the black community, parents, teachers, clergy, feel in general, that Bush Administration policies have hurt African-Americans. And more than any other group, they oppose the war in Iraq.
Whitaker then examined the case of Macio Sheffield, an African-American high school student in Los Angeles who was a member of the Junior ROTC. After Sheffield explained his reason for being in ROTC: "I enjoy learning about respect and discipline. I like the Army. I love America," Whitaker followed with, "But first Macio will have to get past his parents, Macio senior and Terry Craten, who, like the majority of the blacks in the survey, oppose the Bush Administration and this war." Whitaker then talked to Sheffield’s parents:
In an interview with obscure Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on Sunday’s "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer asked the Texas Congressman: "What is it that you see that the government ought to do besides deliver the mail?" This followed Schieffer’s description of Paul’s limited government philosophy:
Well, let me -- I want to just get your take on what you think the government ought to do. You've already said your anti-war. We know you're anti-abortion. You're anti-drug administration. You're anti-Medicare. I wrote all this down. Let's see. You're anti-income tax. You want to do away with that. You're anti-United Nations. You're anti-World Bank. You're anti-International Monetary Fund. And there must be some other things that you're against.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a news brief in which reporter Byron Pitts speculated on a potential indictment of former NYPD Commissioner and Giuliani friend, Bernard Kerik. Mitchell began the segment by exclaiming:
Republican presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani, has stood by his good friend and associate, Bernard Kerik, through good times and bad. But that could change now that Kerik maybe in some big trouble.
Despite the fact that no indictment had actually been handed down yet, that did not keep Pitts from furthering the speculation: "CBS News has learned former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik, could face indictment as early as today on criminal charges, including tax fraud and other counts."
While the "Early Show" had no hesitation in reporting a possible Giuliani scandal, the morning news program failed to mention the Hillary Clinton fund raising scandal involving fugitive Norman Hsu even once. That was true even when "Early Show" co-host, Harry Smith, had reported the story on the August 31 and September 6 CBS "Evening News" broadcasts, while filling in for anchor Katie Couric.
Smith teased the segment at the top of the show by declaring, "On the record, 21 Democrats officially call for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, citing deceit in Iraq and covert operations in Iran." This declaration was preceded by a song that CBS managed to find on the internet with the lyrics: "Impeach Cheney first."
The top of the segment featured a report by Chip Reid, who explained, "The resolution accuses Cheney not only of alleged past sins regarding Iraq, but alleged current ones on Iran." Despite Cheney’s "sins," Reid also admitted the unpopularity of the proposal:
In a rather odd teaser for an upcoming Bill O’Reilly interview with co-host Hannah Storm on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "And looking for love in all the wrong places. Here's Bill O'Reilly in the studio this morning." What? Who’s "love" is O’Reilly looking for and why is the "Early Show" the "wrong" place to find it? Smith certainly made no such comment when he welcomed the ultra left-wing Dennis Kucinich earlier on the program.
For his part, O’Reilly had some odd responses when Storm asked about Hillary Clinton’s latest debate performance and charges of sexism against other Democratic candidates, "What do you make of Bill Clinton criticizing Hillary Clinton's Democratic rivals, saying that they were swift-boating her?" O’Reilly responded, "You see, I don't believe anything the press writes about Bill and Hillary Clinton at all...We tracked it yesterday, and we couldn't find any swift boat reference."
At the end of Sunday’s 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney did his usual rant, this time about politicians. Of course when Rooney speaks of politicians, one always seems to come first to his mind: "I'll bet there hasn't been a day this year that President Bush's name hasn't been in the newspaper." At one point Rooney almost seemed sympathetic to the president, "A lot of people complain about things President Bush does but they wouldn't know what to do themselves if they were in his shoes." However, that sympathy soon turned to contempt as Rooney compared his own public speaking to that of President Bush, "I usually can’t remember what it was I was going to say. The president seems to have the same problem sometimes."
Unfortunately, Rooney seemed to remember exactly what he wanted to say at the end of his little diatribe:
The one thing I have to say for myself that I wouldn't say for President Bush is: I know I'm no where near smart enough to be President of the United States. But I will say I might have been smart enough not to get us into a war in Iraq.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The liberal mayor has followed in the footsteps of Al Gore and implored the government to take action to address an impending environmental crisis, saying "We need to do something now." To match Bloomberg’s alarmist rhetoric, Smith added "Manhattan will be underwater by 2050." Amusingly, even Bloomberg thought that assertion went too far, "There's a -- I don't know that Manhattan will be underwater, but certainly the environment's going to be a lot worse that we leave our children." Smith also pressed Bloomberg on a possible 2008 presidential run.
The interview began with Smith asking about Bloomberg’s proposal to impose a national carbon tax. Smith asked, "Who gets taxed?," to which Bloomberg responded, "People who generate carbon and put it into the air, that pollute the air that you breathe, and that I breathe, and that's causing worldwide changes over the long term in our environment." In other words, everyone. Far from challenging Bloomberg on how people would react to such a plan, Smith instead followed up with, "Something similar to this has been advocated for a long time, the sort of cap and trade...Why is yours better than theirs?" Smith’s assumption that Bloomberg’s plan is "better" is an interesting way of challenging such a policy.
While previewing an upcoming interview with extreme left-wing presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, on Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "I've actually admired Dennis Kucinich for a long -- since he was mayor of Cleveland." In addition to Smith admitting that he admired someone as liberal as Kucinich, who wants to establish a Department of Peace and claims to have seen UFOs, Smith specifically mentioned Kucinich’s disastrous tenure as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.
Even The New York Times could not ignore Kucinich’s failures as mayor in a 2003 candidate profile:
But it all came crashing quickly down when Mr. Kucinich presided over the city's plunge into default in 1978. The collapse attracted international ridicule and, except for a brief sojourn on the City Council in the early 80's, left the obstreperous boy wonder in political exile for 15 years...[he] was elected mayor in 1977 and governed the city with a tight circle of friends. But Cleveland's finances, already troubled, spiraled out of control. The climactic moment came in December 1978, when the city was unable to meet $14.5 million in bond obligations. Despite pressure from the business community, Mayor Kucinich refused to sell the municipal electric system to cover the debt. Cleveland went bust, as did his career.
Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona was indicted "on federal corruption charges stemming from a lengthy investigation into allegations that he had misused his office for financial gain," the Los Angeles Times reported on October 30. Reporters Christine Hanley, H.G. Reza and Paul Pringle noted that Carona was once considered a "rising star" for the GOP.
It's a fair point to make note of Carona's party affiliation, but the Times unevenly applies party labels when it comes to elected officials' scandals.
As NewsBusters contributor Dave Pierre noted on September 11, Democratic Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's (D-Los Angeles) campaign violations and the corresponding punitive fine of $5,200 were buried on page B-4 of that day's Los Angeles Times. The same squib failed to disclose Villaraigosa's Democratic Party affiliation. (more follows after page break)
UPDATE, Oct. 26, 10 p.m.: A Plain Dealer report by David Briggs entitled "New Cleveland imam hopes to ease Muslim-Jewish relations" went up today (Oct. 26) at 1:56 PM. I am deferring comment on it until sometime Monday, as new info has become available that requires vetting (original plan to respond Saturday was moved to Sunday, and has now been moved again).
Note: This has been posted at NewsBusters because it addresses an example of what I believe is lax local media coverage that may be occurring in other communities around the country.
Part 1 covered events and disclosures surrounding the announcement of the appointment, effective November 1, of Ahmed Alzaree to become the new imam at the Islamic Center of Cleveland (ICC), specifically:
My September 25 blog post (Wide Open, BizzyBlog, and NewsBusters), revealing a March 2003 sermon given by Alzaree while at his previous post at the Islamic Center of Omaha (ICO), and Alzaree's association with now-deported imam Wagdi Ghoneim.
A follow-up article by the PD's Robert Smith which addressed some of the concerns about Alzaree, but which also left so many items unanswered that it was reasonable to expect that there would be some kind of additional follow-up by the paper in the coming days and weeks.
It has been five days since Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen used an offensive ethnic slur to describe the Chinese workers who built the railroads across the American West in the 1800s. Bredesen used the term in a dispatch he wrote and emailed to some Tennessee newspapers while traveling in Beijing.
The ensuing media firestorm has yet to, well, ensue. Terry Frank explains why Bredesen's rude language won't be his "macaca moment," and takes issue with Bredesen's attempt to portray himself as the victim in the story. (He blames the newspapers for not editing his piece and, contradictorily, for suggesting the word might be offensive.)
Oh, did I mention that Bredesen is a liberal Democrat? That may explain why the media firestorm never ensued.
Covering the flap over Rep. Pete Stark's (D-Calif.) assertion that President Bush likes to see American soldiers die for sport, Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman tossed in a swipe about Republicans of his own, characterizing a vote to uphold Bush's SCHIP veto as a vote to "deny children health care."
[Video of Stark's comments available on YouTube via the NRCC here]
As my colleague Tim Graham has noted before, Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch" is a reliable weekly rehash of liberal conventional wisdom. Indeed, as Tim noted in a March 25 blog entry:
It really would be more honest for Newsweek to call it "Newsweek Consensus Watch." Or "What We Say To Each Other Over Lunch."
It looks like not much has changed in the past six month, as the crew at CW tapped into left-wing blogger outrage over conservative bloggers who smelled something fishy with the Democratic poster family for SCHIP, the Frosts of Baltimore, Md.:
Time's Joe Klein (file photo at right) has a bit of a hypocrisy problem. After earlier saying he wanted to "throw up" after seeing President Bush showcase "snowflake babies," children adopted as frozen embryos, during a ceremony marking his veto of a bill to expand federally-funded destruction of embryos for medical research, Klein professes disdain not at Democratic partisans who used 12-year-old Graeme Frost to plug the vetoed SCHIP expansion, but conservative bloggers who brought scrutiny to bear on Frost's parents, Democratic officials, and a lapdog liberal media that uncritically relayed the Frost family's account.
Now, I know finding a Republican in Chicago city government is probably less likely than spotting a nudist in a porcupine convention, but is it asking too much for the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times to add a D-tag when reporting on six-term (and freshly re-elected) Mayor Richard M. Daley's push for an 11 percent city sales tax and a 10-cent-per-bottle bottled water tax?
It's particularly puzzling given the Sun-Times excellent reporting by Tim Novak and Fran Spielman on the "hidden tax" imposed by corruption within the Daley administration:
When Mayor Daley asked Chicagoans to cough up $293 million more next year to finance the cost of city government, there's one tax he failed to mention: The Corruption, Waste and Mismanagement Tax.
Back in March, liberals tried to make a major controversy out of Rush Limbaugh’s parody of Al Sharpton singing "Barack the Magic Negro" (to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon") even though it borrowed the "magic negro" term from a black writer in the Los Angeles Times. Critics thought it was racist and made Sharpton sound like an idiot. One blogger called for station managers to drop Limbaugh and this "worst kind of vile, demeaning garbage." It even became a news story on NBC.
But what about when the left does a similar kind of satire against Clarence Thomas – and on National Public Radio, no less? On October 1, the first day of the Supreme Court’s new term, NPR’s All Things Considered aired a parody by Bruce Kluger and David Slavin, using ethnic and racial stereotyping for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and Thomas. Scalia is pitched as the Godfather (complete with notes from the "Godfather" soundtrack) and Thomas is mocked as Scalia’s goon, who repeats everything Scalia says and even calls him "Boss." Fake Thomas also seems well-versed in the signals of public-restroom sex. (You have to hear it to believe it. Audio here.)
If the increasingly conventional wisdom that the Netroots movement is now the driving force behind today's Democrat Party is true, than a look into their actual agenda for America is something voters considering supporting Democrat politicians in 2008 might want to take a very close look at. It's posted by Chris Bowers at Open Left and looked at in plain terms, is substantial and should give conservatives and Libertarians cause for concern.
Below are just some bullet points from the larger plan.
You think the "Fairness Doctrine" is bad, you haven't seen anything yet:
Reversing Corporate Media Consolidation. Using improved ownership regulation of American media to help destabilize the impact of the Republican Noise Machine, and create a more diverse, responsive national media, is another key progressive feedback loop.
Those pesky conservative suburbanites and their market forces! They'll be the ruin of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, bellows Anonymous.
Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey have taken on the unattributed complaints of a self-described Star-Tribune ("Strib") veteran, who laments that his beloved paper is becoming a right-wing shill for, gasp, hiring a token conservative opinion columnist.:
The Rake, a local alternative newspaper here in the Twin Cities, published an interesting cri de coeur from "one Strib veteran" about the direction of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The anonymous attribution wears thin in the first line of the quote:
Democratic mayor Robert Levy, accused of being a phony soldier of sorts, went AWOL on September 26, failing to report to work on behalf of the citizens of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Reported the AP in an October 9 article:
Levy has been mired in scandal for nearly a year.
Last fall, the Press of Atlantic City reported that the Vietnam veteran's claims that he was a member of the Green Berets were untrue. He apologized.
But federal authorities have been looking into whether the 64-year-old Levy made that claim to increase his veteran's benefit payments.
Hmm, no party label? Even though this is not just resume embellishment but a possible case of veterans benefits fraud?
Republicans facing what is sure to be a liberally-skewed forum moderated by former Democratic partisan Chris Matthews need to take a cue from the host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," a conservative opinion journalist argues:
Matthews is an over-the-top liberal, a brazen cheerleader for Clinton. He can also be a bully. Remember the incident about two years ago when he reduced Michelle Malkin nearly to tears? And how Zell Miller gained instant hero status for asking Matthews if he wanted to take that discussion outside?
To beat Chris Matthews the candidates don’t need to punch him in the nose. But they need to do two things. First, they need to follow Jon Stewart’s example.
In what left Matthews squealing that it was his worst interview ever, The Daily Show’s hyperactive (but not hyperliberal) Jon Stewart’s interview of Matthews on his new book not-so-gently poked fun at Matthews’ outlook on life. If -- with humor -- any of the candidates can take a few shots at Matthews and the premise of his questions, they can come out as the winner.
Writing the day before the October 9 MSNBC Republican presidential debate, Human Events editor Jed Babbin added that taking on Matthews specifically and media bias geerally is a sure-fire way to electrify the GOP voting base and awaken the general public to what they instinctively know. The media are biased to the left and actively engaged in furthering a left-wing agenda:
MSNBC Interactive News, a Microsoft and NBC Universal joint venture with 27.3 million Web visitors in August, announced Sunday night that it has purchased Newsvine in a deal of undisclosed size. It is the first acquisition in MSNBC.com's 11-year history, one that President Charlie Tillinghast hopes will lead to additional news-sharing features on MSNBC and tap an audience of highly engaged news readers.
Newsvine will continue to operate as a separate business unit and brand under the direction of Davidson, with the team remaining in its Seattle offices.