[Update at bottom of post] On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program featured two segments on President Bush’s commutation of Dick Cheney aide Lewis Libby. Substitute co-host David Muir opened the program by wondering, "This morning, above the law?" and GMA glossed over Bill Clinton's infamous pardon of Marc Rich. Instead, various anchors found time to twice highlight Senator Dick Durbin’s comment that "even Paris Hilton had to go to jail."
Although reporter David Kerley's segment did feature a quote from Republican strategist Rich Galen, both pieces seemed more interested in Democratic outrage. Kerley and Muir seemed taken with Senator Dick Durbin’s comparison to Paris Hilton:
Kerley: "But one of the most stinging statements came from Senator Dick Durbin, who said, quote, ‘Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law.’"
David Muir: "Not surprisingly, the Democrats are jumping on this. We heard from the Democratic candidates there. Senator Durbin saying even Paris Hilton went to jail. Some real red meat for the other party."
After immediately jumping on the news that then-House majority leader Tom DeLay was indicted by a Democratic Texas prosecutor, the big three networks refused to mention the Wednesday news that the Texas supreme court has approved the dismissal of one of the charges against him.
The charges were originally dismissed by a lower court judge (an event which the big three just barely covered) who ruled that the laws under which the former congressman was indicted did not exist during the time he was alleged to have violated them.
DeLay's indictments at the hand of a partisan Democratic prosecutor (the "Mike Nifong of Texas" as DeLay's blog calls him) were one of several charges of "corruption" leveled by the media and Democrats that helped turn the electoral tide against the GOP in the 2006 elections. After DeLay's indictment by Ronnie Earle, the press even went so far as to obscure Earle's political party, barely mentioning it or declining to do so at all.
That was a stark contrast to Wednesday night's coverage where DeLay's vindication was not mentioned at all.
It'll be busy at MRC this morning, as both ABC and NBC played up Elizabeth Edwards dressing down Ann Coulter by phone on "Hardball" last night. (Matthews trashed Coulter as a "Today" guest this morning. More to come.) Wire services like AP and newspapers like The Washington Post are on the story today, but several important elements are missing from this story. None seem to question the ethics of MSNBC staging this unusual telephone sneak attack on Coulter.
More importantly, no one seems to be questioning Elizabeth Edwards attacking Coulter for the "language of hate" when the Edwards campaign hired Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as official bloggers, who attacked "Christofascists," smeared Pope Benedict as a dictator, and mocked the core doctrines of Christianity as excuses for misogyny. Mrs. Edwards was a player in hiring those feminist bloggers and their language of hate. Why is the liberal media ignoring the pot calling the kettle black?
On Sunday, film director/producer Michael Moore gave a special sneak preview of his new schlockumentary “Sicko” at the Regal Theatre in Times Square, New York.
After the screening, he was approached by two brothers who run a website called We Are Change, which appears to be largely another “9/11 Truth” organization.
At first, Moore was trying to elude the pair, but finally answered a few of their questions surrounding the events of September 11, 2001.
Whether intentional or caught off guard, Moore indicated he believes the worst attack on American soil in decades could quite possibly be an inside job (video available here, h/t NB reader M.R., relevant section begins at minute 6:00):
As we've documented at NewsBusters, last year the media, particularly the Washington Post, raked then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) over the coals for his infamous "macaca" insult, and his ensuing profuse apologies for same. We've also documented that Democratic politicians' jokes about India and Indian-Americans have been largely ignored (see below the jump).
The latest racial incident kicking up dust on the 2008 campaign trail is yet another Democratic gaffe, dubbed by some, "Punjab-gate," after an Obama presidential campaign research memo cheekily described rival Hillary Clinton as a Democrat from Punjab, a province in India.
Of course, as the oppo memo itself notes, and as John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune reported in the Trib's "The Swamp" blog, Obama's staff were referring to another "lame attempt at humor" (my emphasis, see below jump) by the junior senator from the Empire State about her electoral chances were she to decide to relocate to India:
Valerie Plame Wilson claims her life was ruined, her career ended, and national security possibly compromised because her CIA employ was made public, but of course she now wants to cash in with a memoir.
The CIA, for good reason, wants to make sure nothing that compromises national security gets published, and now Plame is literally making a federal case out of that, suing over CIA objections that her dates of employ are and should remain classified.
Is the Los Angeles Times being stubborn its refusal to correct a major mistake in its reporting in the fired U.S. attorney "scandal," or does the paper have more partisan motivations?
In March, the Times filed a story claiming that Bud Cummins, a former U.S. attorney, thought his firing was related to an investigation he launched in Missouri into allegedly improperly awarded contracts to run that state's DMV. Trouble is, Cummins did not believe this at all. Not only that, contrary to fact, the Times asserted that Cummins's investigation was probing to see the involvement of Missouri governor Matt Blunt.
After the Times's story came out, Cummins fired off an email, saying he "did not know of ANY connection between the Missouri investigation (which actually had nothing to do with Governor Blunt) and my termination."
Imagine for a moment that one of the leading Republican presidential candidates said that 10,000 people had been killed by the recent tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas, Saturday.
Do you think this would have been easy fodder for the broadcast television news divisions that always seem fascinated with gaffes made by folks on the right?
If your answer is an unequivocal “Yes,” then why did ABC, CBS, and NBC completely ignore Sen. Barack Obama’s statement Tuesday wherein he accidentally exaggerated the death toll from the Greensburg tornado by 9,988?
If Democrats had accused former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) last year of earmarking funds that could help real estate investments owned by his wife, would the media have reported it?
Probably on the front pages of every newspaper, and as the lead story of all of the evening news programs, right?
Well, the Associated Press published a story Monday about current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) possibly earmarking funds that would benefit her husband's investments around the San Francisco Bay. Yet, the media showed virtually no interest (emphasis added):
For two straight days, "Good Morning America" featured interviews with Dina Matos-McGreevey, the ex-wife of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. For both segments, co-host Diane Sawyer peppered Mrs. McGreevey with questions about homophobia and whether people should feel sorry for her former, now publically gay, spouse.
During Wednesday’s interview, Sawyer mentioned a subject that arose in custody hearings for the couple’s children. Apparently Jim McGreevey, who resigned after his homosexual affairs and hiring of grossly unqualified individuals became public, kept a rather large photograph of a naked man in his apartment where the children could see, much to the horror of his ex-wife. Sawyer prefaced this by calling the issue one where people "will come down, maybe, on two sides of it." She also wondered if homophobia could be a reason the governor’s wife reacted so negatively:
Tucker Carlson is a self-described libertarian who mentioned more than once this morning that in he has in the past supported fellow libertarian Ron Paul for president. Little wonder, then, that Carlson takes a live-and-let-love attitude toward the escort-service scandal that is threatening to rock Washington.
For those who have not been following the case, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam," owner of an escort agency, turned her clients' phone numbers over to ABC. On tomorrow's "20/20," ABC is apparently planning to disclose the names of some of those clients, who are reported to include Bush administration officials, prominent lobbyists, CEOs and the head of a conservative think tank.
To discuss the ethical issues involved, Carlson had as guests on the early-morning version of his show today the owner of the legal-in-Nevada Moonlight Bunny Ranch, Dennis Hof, and two of his employees, Audrey and Brooke. MSNBC has shaken up its lineup today to provide all-day pre-game coverage of tonight's GOP debate.
The highlight of the segment was this exchange between Carlson and the two women.
On the heels of his award-winning destruction of Congressman Mark Foley over inappropriate instant messages to teenaged House pages, ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross is on the sex beat again. On Monday's Good Morning America, Ross highlighted ABC’s plans to rummage through a D.C. madam’s list of prostitution clients for "people in the Bush administration." But in 1996, when the tabloid newspaper The Star found Bill Clinton’s chief political guru Dick Morris had a relationship with a prostitute, ABC News (and especially anchor Peter Jennings) found it ugly, distasteful business. On the August 26, 1996 World News Tonight, as President Clinton prepared for his convention’s acceptance speech, Jennings began with a complaining tone:
Good evening, we begin tonight with the sweet and the sour of the Presidential campaign. Here in Chicago today the President has been fine tuning as they say, the speech he will be giving to this convention and to the country tonight. And he has a lot to be pleased about. A very upbeat convention. A very successful train trip here with rising poll numbers to accompany it. And very important set of statistics about the economy today, which he will certainly point to as evidence that the country should re-elect him. And then along comes a nasty little scandal to take the edge off the good news at least for the day. The President’s chief political strategist, a man named Dick Morris, resigned from the campaign today, after a story in a supermarket tabloid that he has been having, he’s a married man, a lengthy relationship with a prostitute and talking about his job.
Assume for a moment that a prominent Republican’s uncle that happened to be a former state senator was convicted of accepting bribes. Do you think:
This would have been headline/front-page news
The family relationship would have been in the lede and/or headline
His party affiliation would have been in the lede and/or headline?
Well, on Friday, the uncle of former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D), former Tennessee State Sen. John Ford (D), was convicted of accepting bribes totaling $55,000. Yet, many media outlets buried the connection to his much more popular nephew, as well as the fact that he was a Democrat.
For instance, this is how the New York Times handled the story Saturday coincidentally on page A14 (h/t NB reader Joe Easley):
During the latter part of the Clinton admin, the left media often tossed around the phrase "scandal fatigue," a term of art to explain that certain portions of the public had become upset at the Republican party for going after then-president Clinton over trivial things.
Politicians and their allies do have this tendency. But it's not just Republicans who have it. Democrats do as well.
Since President Bush came into office, Democrats have continued this tradition, cooking up a host of psuedo-scandals on everything from spying on China to Valerie Plame. None of it's stuck. Yet instead of speaking wishfully about "scandal fatigue," the left media has instead been doing the very opposite as John Hinderaker at Powerline points out:
Assume for a moment that you were the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination in 2008, and that one of your competitors had recently created a bit of a brouhaha for having hired a couple of liberal bloggers with "tainted" records.
Would you want to post an article at a website that got itself in some trouble of its own last year when it featured an offensive, Photoshopped picture of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) in blackface?
Well, on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) posted an article at Firedoglake, the very website guilty of publishing the offensive picture of Lieberman as reported by NewsBusters.
The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers reported that some Democrats are quite concerned this decision could come back to haunt the junior senator from New York (h/t Glenn Reynolds and Beltway Blogroll):
Paul Schneider, a contributor to the Times' Friday Travel section, visits the quaint Southern town of Flippin, Ark., the center of the first of many Clinton administration scandals, in "Remember Whitewater? The Place Is Still There."
Though his story is mostly concerned with hiking, fishing and caving (and occasional cracks about the South), Schneider opened with liberal conventional wisdom:
"It's hard now to remember those shiny days before 9/11 when Congress seemed to believe that the greatest threat to the republic lay in an obscure land deal in northwestern Arkansas called Whitewater. Given all that has passed under the bridge, there’s something quaint and nostalgic about so much froth and fury over something that in the end went nowhere, like a slightly gonzo Norman Rockwell cover showing democracy in action.
For the last few weeks I have been watching two stories that, were they about Conservatives or Republicans, would have been scandals that would have shaken the rafters of the MSM. But, since these stories are about two favored Liberals, one old and one newly minted, we have seen no faux outrage, no shocked commentary, no calls for heads on pikes to be posted at the entrance to Congress, and no calls for resignations. Oh, the stories were reported all right, but all sensationalism was eschewed with the usual extrapolation to the level of a “culture of corruption” cast aside for a straight, newsy style atypical to their normal means against Republicans.
These two stories and the lack of passionate coverage of them by the MSM shows that the MSM employs as much liberal bias in what they chose not to cover as they do in what they chose to go ahead and focus upon.
In 1998, CNN was convinced that congressional oversight of the Clinton administration was a problem, and congressman Dan Burton was a harsh zealot with an unglued personality. Fast forward to 2007, and Jack Cafferty finds the president is the zealot, and the investigating congressmen and journalists are heroes.
On Friday’s Situation Room, CNN commentator Cafferty was doing publicity for the Bush-hating site Salon.com, reciting some of the many quotes blogger Glenn Greenwald collected from a variety of liberal media sources, such as the New York Times, Newsweek, NPR, and the Associated Press. These quotes from news articles "tend to suggest a pattern," as Cafferty put it, of missing documents and e-mails with the Bush administration. Among the circumstances which Greenwald pulled up quotes for are the Abu Ghraib controversy, the case of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla (pronounced "Patilla" by Cafferty), the supposed gaps in President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard record, and Hurricane Katrina. After presenting many of Greenwald’s collected quotes, Cafferty asked viewers if they think there’s a pattern, and compared it to a "compost heap... the more stuff you pile on it, the greater the odor that emanates from it."
On Wednesday (March 28, 2007), Sen. Diane Feinstein resigned as chairperson and ranking member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) after serving on it for six years. Beginning in January, Metro, a weekly newspaper serving California's Silicon Valley, reported that Feinstein "voted for appropriations worth billions to her husband's firms." Her husband is Richard C. Blum. Conflict of interest, anyone?
So, exactly how many syllables has the Los Angeles Times dedicated the past week to this potentially explosive ethical problem that Feinstein appears to have? Choose one: A. Zero, B. Zilch, C. Nada, D. Nil. (Hint: Feinstein is a Democrat.)
Over at Opinion Journal, Mark Lasswell has an article about how ABC seems to be competing with The Daily Show for political comedy, at least when George Stephanopoulos talks about U.S. Attorney firings:
How else to explain those hilarious skits when Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos reports on the brouhaha over the Justice Department's firing of eight U.S. attorneys while the proverbial elephant in the room is lurking just off-camera?
Mr. Stephanopoulos doesn't mention his own valuable expertise on the subject of fired federal prosecutors, the kind of expertise that might help place the current mess in context. Mr. Stephanopoulos was the Clinton White House communications director in 1993 when the Justice Department cleaned its slate of all 93 U.S. attorneys, and he was central to the administration's finessing of the episode--just the sort of insider experience, presumably, that prompted ABC News to hire Mr. Stephanopoulos fresh out of the White House in 1996.
With the Democrats back in
power, network anchors are dwelling lovingly on congressional hearings
now with liberal stars like Al Gore and Valerie Plame. They've shown no
loss of appetite for hearings on the U.S. Attorney-firings scandal,
deemed a “constitutional crisis” by NBC Wednesday night. But ten years
ago, when a Republican Congress prepared subpoenas for the Clinton
White House on receiving political contributions from China, viewers
heard the networks sing a very different tune.
wondered whether subpoenas and hearings weren't democracy in action,
but a waste of America's resources. On the April 10, 1997 World News
Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings promoted a story: “When we come back,
two investigations of fundraising abuse, two of them on Capitol Hill.
Is it a waste of time and money?” Reporter John Cochran underlined the
problem of GOP partisanship: “Dan Burton is a hard-charging partisan
and has resisted investigating anyone but Democrats.”
As Newsbsuters has brought you many times (see here and here among others), the MSM's focus on Bush's firing of a handful of U.S. Attorney's is wonderfully empty of any balanced treatment whatsoever. Not only has the MSM ignored the Clinton story -- where he fired EVERY one of them -- but they have also ignored the fact that Jimmy Carter also fired a U.S. Attorney for "political reasons." Not to be left behind, the Boston Globe today reports an uncritical story about Senator Edward Kennedy's (D, Mass) recent statement about the issue.
In a short report by Globe Staffer, Rick Klein, the Globe finds no room for any discussion of Clinton or Carter's firings -- par for the course for this shallowly reported story.
This is a developing story, so there's room for it to play out a bit, but the law firm congressional Democrats are hiring to help plow through the U.S. attorney firings, Arnold & Porter, has a history of heavy donations towards Democrats.
The ladies of "The View" tackled the U.S. attorney firing controversy with more false information, comparisons to the mob, and once again Rosie O’Donnell called for impeachment. Rosie reported her take of how the attorney firings went down.
O’DONNELL: Okay, Republican officials who supposedly called these judges that were fired and said, are you going to prosecute this Democratic, and they said, I can't talk about that because I'm actually a judge, and it's illegal. And they said "click," and they got fired.
O’DONNELL: Now what is really scary, are the ones who they called and said yeah, sure I will. And they're still on the bench. That’s even more frightening.
Writing in the "Swampland" blog for Time magazine today, Karen Tumulty insisted the U.S. attorney firings deserved"massive commitment of journalistic resources" before going on to cite a study showing that media attention in the past few weeks has skewed heavily towards the non-scandal scandal:
before all our commenters jump on me, let me stipulate: I think the
unfolding U.S. Attorneys story is a huge one, it deserves a massive
commitment of journalistic resources, it is not likely to go away any
time soon and I'm skeptical that Alberto Gonzales is going to survive
it. I also believe that history has shown us many times that the
broadest measures of public interest are a lagging indicator of the
significance of a story. Finally, the blogosphere deserves huge credit
for leading the way on it.
Translation: "the public don't know it yet, but this is an important story, we're going to make it an important story, and, kudos to liberal bloggers for making a fuss over it."
In 1993, Time magazine didn't show the same interest in blowing up the Clinton/Reno firings into a story the public would care about. [continued...]
One of the nice things about having a television and newsletter archive at MRC is being able to bring up the old newscasts and recall how very different the tone and approach of the news was when a Democrat was in the White House. The U.S. Attorney-firing scandal is a strong example of how the network news can on one hand, sell a scandal as incredibly damaging for a political party it does not support, but downplays scandal as damaging to democracy and the people when it affects the political party it favors. Our latest Media Reality Check reminds readers of how different the news sounded ten years ago, when a Republican Congress investigated illegal foreign donations, mostly to national Democratic Party accounts. Take NBC:
NBC theorized that the media were too Clinton-scandal obsessed in 1997. On June 17, 1997, Today co-host Katie Couric asked reporter Bob Woodward: “But are members of the media, do you think, Bob, too scandal-obsessed, looking for something at every corner?”
Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly finally provided some perspective on the U.S. attorney firing story with some information the mainstream media will not report. On the March 22 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor," O’Reilly exposed much of the media spin on the situation from members of the White House press corps to several print media outlets. He then explained plausible reasons why three of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired.
The mainstream media hinted that the administration fired San Diego attorney Carol Lam for prosecuting former Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. What they failed to report is that Ms. Lam did not aggressively prosecute illegal alien criminals. Her lax approach concerned even Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein. Paul Charlton was not aggressive in pursuing marijuana cases, and even the liberal "Los Angeles Times" editorialized against fired attorney Kevin Ryan.
On Wednesday’s "American Morning," CNN co-host Soledad O’Brien must have surprised former Clinton administration official and Illinois Representative Rahm Emanuel (D) with a tough question concerning the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege versus the Clinton administration’s use. Emanuel tried to claim the privilege is usually "reserved for national security," which even CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wasn’t buying. Here’s the exchange:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: "You worked in the White House, the Clinton Administration, where they claimed executive privilege for Bruce Lindsey and for Sidney Blumenthal in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, essentially. Why that time around was the efforts you made -- it failed, but there was an effort to say executive privilege. Let's protect these guys. They shouldn't have to go testify before Congress. It failed. But that was what was claimed, so why this time around does it not seem fair?"