Something must be in the water at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In the past couple of weeks, longtime columnist Connie Schultz, who happens to be married to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, has come out in favor of changing copyright law to "save newspapers" (the relevant columns are here and here). Its Readers' Representative has also jumped on board.
This hostility towards blogs and bloggers is not a one-off aberration at the PD. In November 2007, columnist Dick Feagler went off, asking, among other things, "Have they ridden (implied: off the record) with a candidate in the middle of the night?" Feagler's cozy brand of non-objective "journalism" has been one of one-party, one-paper-dominated Cleveland's biggest problems for decades.
More recently, in what I take to be his second related video chat (HT The Future of Journalism via Instapundit) on the copyright topic, Readers' Rep Ted Diadiun, pictured at right, calls bloggers "a bunch of pipsqueaks out there talking about what real journalists do” (at 10:00 mark of video at link).
Editor's Note: The following was originally posted to Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on June 24. Perhaps of greatest note to NewsBusters readers is Tapson's reporting on the pronouncements of Daily Beast contributor and UC Riverside professor Reza Aslan that "There is no such thing as Sharia."
While Iranian-American protesters packed streetcorners in Westwood last Saturday afternoon in support of the revolution currently playing out in the streets of Tehran, an historical drama about stoning in Iran got underway at the Los Angeles Film Festival mere blocks away.
For the few who don’t know by now, The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s bestselling book, which relates the true story of a woman in a remote Iranian village, in the years after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, who is falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death by a mob desperate to cleanse themselves of this affront to their collective honor and to their religion. It’s not only a gripping story in its own right, but it shines a harsh spotlight on the almost unimaginable reality that the barbaric punishment of stoning still exists in the Iranian law code, despite a largely nominal 2002 moratorium, the result of pressure from Western human rights groups.
(Full disclosure, even though I’m not reviewing the film here: I’m close friends with the filmmakers Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, I provided Mpower Pictures with a bit of research on the project, I’m friends with other cast and crew and producers associated with the film, and I think stoning is bad. So don’t take my word for it when I say SorayaBig Hollywood’s John Nolte will be the most important, affecting film you’ll see all year. Instead seek out the multitude of reviewers who recommend the film, including and then see it for yourself.)
Following Saturday’s screening was a panel discussion, not so much moderated as simply hosted by Iranian novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner, who personally selected the film for the L.A. Film Festival. The panel also included Soraya’s writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh, starring actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Dr. Reza Aslan, billed as an Islamic scholar.
Leave it to New York Times liberal movie critic Stephen Holden to come down on "The Stoning of Soraya M," for stereotyping a couple of murderous, misogynist Islamists as...murderous misogynist Islamists.
Holden generally likes politically activist movies, especially left-wing documentaries that take aim at politically correct targets like big business and heartland hicks. By contrast, he's not fond of Israel or the Catholic Church, or evidently, movies about injustices committed against women in the Muslim world, like "The Stoning of Soraya M." Conservatives have embraced the movie, which might also provide a clue as to why Holden hates it. In calling it "lurid torture-porn," Holden echoes columnist Frank Rich's smear against "The Passion of the Christ" as "a joyride for sadomasochists."
The protesters admire our freedom, but they are appalled--and insulted--by our neocolonialist condescension over the past 50 years. The reformers, and even some conservatives, consider Ahmadinejad the George W. Bush of Iran--a crude, unsophisticated demagogue, who puts a strong Potemkin face to the world without very much knowledge of what the rest of the world is about. This was an anology [sic] that came up in interview after interview, with reformers and conservatives alike.
Klein doesn't explicitly reference the "axis of evil" remarks in then-President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address as an offense, although he quite probably has it in mind. Yet a review of the relevant passage from that speech shows Bush was dead-on and arguably eerily prophetic about the iron-fisted repression that the world is witness to presently on the streets of Tehran (portion in bold is my emphasis):
On Thursday evening, the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News presented opposite takes on whether Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is really a moderate, or whether he is actually about as extreme and dangerous as current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. CBS’s Mark Phillips argued that Mousavi is merely more moderate in "tone" than Ahmadinejad while taking similar policy positions, while NBC’s Richard Engel played up Mousavi as a real alternative to Ahmadinejad. CBS News substitute anchor Maggie Rodriguez introduced Phillips’s report: "Mir Hossein Mousavi insists he won the presidential election there, only to have it stolen from him. He's been cast as an outsider, anxious for reform. But as Mark Phillips reports, that's not exactly the case."
After beginning his report contending that "Mir Hossein Mousavi is neither a champion of democracy as we know it, nor an advocate of great change within Iran's mullah-dominated government," Phillips further argued that Mousavi would bring little substantive policy difference to the presidency:
For the last several months, New York Times reporter turned international columnist Roger Cohen has filed naïve apologist columns about Iran, often attacking Israel in the process. Previously mocked for this embarrassing display of Obama-mania in March 2008, Cohen attracted negative attention on the foreign affairs front earlier this year by telling readers how good things really were for Jews in Iran.
After that line of argument failed to convince, he then accused Israel of lying about the Iranian threat while constantly insisting that Iran was actually a functioning and reformist democracy. Cohen minimized the danger posed by Iran's demonized leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, excusing his anti-Israel rantings. And of course, Cohen strongly favored Obama's brand of diplomacy with Iran as opposed to Bush's hostility.
Cohen's Thursday column from Tehran, "Iran Awakens Yet Again," which ran in the Times international edition the day before the vote, featured some poorly timed fawning over Iran's "unpredictable" democracy.
Media coverage of successful counter-terrorism operation operations has been lacking and points to an overall lack of awareness toward well-funded, well-coordinated Jihadist efforts inside the U.S., a prominent Muslim-American has warned. Hatred of the West and the U.S. in particular was the primary drive force behind a plot that involved the potential use of explosives and missiles, according to a complaint filed in New York this past May.
The four suspects had planned to discharge explosives outside Jewish community centers and to attack U.S. military aircraft with missiles, authorities claim. This follows on the heels of a planned Jihadist assault on the Fort Dix military base in New Jersey last year that was also thwarted.
Message: Obama cares about Muslims. And he's got Osama bin Laden on the run by wisely fighting the war not militarily, but ideologically, unlike George Bush.
That's the bottom-line finding in Rod Nordland's piece from Baghdad for the New York Times Sunday Week in Review story on Obama's speech to Muslims in Cairo, "Forceful Words and Fateful Realities." Nordland, a longtime Newsweek foreign correspondent, portrayed Osama bin Laden's taped rebuttal as a sign of his weakness.
Barack Obama's speech in Cairo last Thursday was "soft spoken and eloquent," said Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Iraqi cleric, grudgingly, since he also said he despised it. It was a speech that meant different things to different people, a quality that has been much noted in this president. He supported Israel, but reached out to the Muslim world in an unprecedented way. Some friends were troubled, others reassured. Some of America's enemies denounced it, but none dismissed it. Not even the arch-enemies at whom, in some important way, the speech was directed.
It must have been a while since David Gergen dropped his resume in the hopper for Team Obama, so it’s no small surprise that it was about for him to turn on the rhetorical firehose and gush some love the White House’s way.
On the June 4 “Anderson Cooper 360,” Gergen was asked by the host to give his initial reaction to President Obama’s speech in Cairo. Gergen immediately mugged for the camera:
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Anderson, there was no way he could quite reach the summit with this speech. He couldn't please everyone. We're hearing a lot of nitpicking on aspects of the speech.
But, overall, it was the most powerful and the most persuasive speech any American president has ever made to the Muslim populations around the world, perhaps back of his background.
Cooper, to his credit, was immediately incredulous:
On Tuesday's Hannity show on FNC, while interviewing author Brigitte Gabriel, host Sean Hannity suggested that, rather than make apologies for America in the Muslim world, that President Obama should point out that Muslims have benefited from America's assistance in various countries, and Gabriel pointed out that the United States sided with Muslims against Christians in the former Yugoslavia.
Hannity posed the question: "Shouldn't the President be highlighting, for example, the sacrifice of America to help save some Kuwaiti Muslims and in Somalia and in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in other parts of the world?"
On Thursday, CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama seeks to reset Mideast relations in a historic speech in Cairo." Co-host Harry Smith gushed: "Powerful, far-ranging speech this morning...he was not only presidential, he was also professorial. He was very much a teacher this morning. He was giving Americans and Muslims a history lesson."
In a later segment, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared Smith’s description of Obama as a history professor: "I mean, one thing I didn't know, he pointed out that Morocco, a Muslim country, was the first to recognize the United States. He also pointed out there is a mosque in every state in the United States of America. This was, as you say, this was Professor Obama...during a lot of this, and I think that will have an impact."
Smith got reaction to Obama’s speech from CBS analyst Reza Aslan, who praised the President’s criticism of Israel: "...some very frank talk about issues, about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict... there were some words that Obama used that had never been used before by any American president, including the word ‘occupation,’ and the word ‘Palestine.’ I think this is going to be really remarkable, the way that the Muslim world reacts."
Eli Saslow, the young Washington Post reporter best known for his giddy promotion of Obama’s "glistening pectorals," touted Obama as a "powerful new ally" against "Islamophobia" on the front of Wednesday’s Style section. The protagonist of Saslow’s story, Aida Mansoor of Hartford, Connecticut, tries to educate an apparently (and painfully) bigoted America about Islam. This is where Obama comes to the rescue:
Her attempts at cross-cultural connection can sometimes feel futile, Mansoor says, but her energy this year has been fortified by a powerful new ally: President Obama, a Christian who has promised unprecedented outreach to the Muslim world. More than 85 percent of Muslims in the United States approve of Obama's performance as president, according to a recent Gallup poll, which is his strongest endorsement from any religious group.
"What he says could go a long way toward dispelling the myths," Mansoor says. "For a long time, Muslims have been the bad guys in this country. There is so much hate and misunderstanding, and he might be able to help the world overcome some of it."
Before Obama hosts his global diversity seminar, Mansoor begins her local equivalent.
On Friday night’s Real Life with Bill Maher on HBO, the host typically assaulted the Bible and the God of the Old Testament. He said of the Bible and the Koran "These are two books that are filled with hatred and wickedness and all kinds of immorality. I mean, I can’t think of a character who is less reliable as a role model than the God of the Old Testament." Newsweek editor Jon Meacham could only respond with pandering humor for liberals: "He’s kind of Cheneyesque actually – that runs through the God of Abraham...He didn’t shoot anybody. He smited them."
As Maher suggested he was too bright to believe in Jesus the "Jewish Zombie," Meacham also lauded how America has moved beyond a "public piety," as symbolized by Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. "It doesn’t feel to me that we’re in the same place in terms of public religiosity and public piety that we were when Mel Gibson released The Passion of The Christ five years ago, when basically, he made an anti-Semitic film, and the only thing you can say about it is it’s the best film ever made in Aramaic." Surprisingly, Maher said he liked the movie, and he didn’t find it anti-Semitic, but that "the priesthood" had Jesus killed because he threatened their power.
An interesting twist in last week's arrest of four Muslim men charged with plotting to bomb New York synagogues was reported Monday: the younger brother of one had a deadly liver disease that Medicaid wouldn't cover.
Makes you wonder if this revelation will be used by media to advance President Obama's universal healthcare plans.
In addition to the anti-Catholicism present in the forthcoming release of "Angels & Demons", there's another politically correct element to the movie adaptation of the Dan Brown novel that's worth noting: Hollywood's aversion to portraying radical Muslims as the bad guys.
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent David Martin reported on the "soft approach" to terrorism in Saudi Arabia: "Each time the United States releases Saudis from the prison at Guantanamo, the kingdom dispatches a 747 to Cuba to pick them up...the Saudi government is paying for cars, homes, even marriages for these reformed jihadists."
After explaining that "...more than half the so-called 'detainees' will probably never go before a jury because the U.S. government does not have a case that will stand up in court," Martin went on to describe a Saudi Arabian program for released detainees: "What we found is a rehabilitation program that attempts to make solid citizens out of holy warriors by convincing them Bin Laden has it all wrong."
Not only did Martin highlight the Saudi efforts to "rehabilitate" terror suspects, but he explained: "Some Saudis have been in Guantanamo for seven years, and Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Hadlaq believes the longer a man is there, the harder he is to treat." Martin then asked Hadlaq, a Saudi psychologist who runs the program: "They come out of Guantanamo hating Americans?...Is there evidence that Guantanamo has made them more radical?" Hadlaq replied: "I think so, yes. Because, in their journey, you know, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, they have faced a lot of torturing. It's so important to deal with this, you know, issue of torture."
In response, Martin added: "‘Torture’ is, of course, a loaded word, but at the very least, the treatment en route to Guantanamo was rough, and provided the raw material for Al Qaeda propaganda videos to drum up new recruits."
Nothing in American politics is quite so intriguing as the Central Intelligence Agency. There is a certain mystique surrounding this agency, almost wholly because it has proven to be quite good at keeping secrets.
Thus, whenever the actions of the CIA are widely reported in the media, the story typically becomes a fixation for many news outlets - and any former agent who is able to shed light on these actions are usually well-received. But even here, the media has limits.
But while Scheuer is an equal-opportunity critic of missteps by Democratic and Republican administrations, the broadcast news media seem to draw the line at allowing him on air to find fault with President Obama.
Scheuer wrote a column in Sunday’s Washington Post, daring to claim that the president’s actions in publishing the so-called CIA torture memos were morally reprehensible:
I will begin this right at the top by saying that I don't care a whit if the appointment of any American official brings hope to Egyptians. After all, an American official should be concerned with America's interests not Egypt's. Not that I am saying that American officials or appointments should necessarily have as a chief criteria for appointment an interest in the denigration of any foreign land, but that what's good for America should be any new official's chief concern.
However, apparently the L.A. Times thinks that it is germane to U.S. interests that Egyptians are "rejoicing" that President Obama has appointed a female American Muslim to his administration. In, "Muslim woman's appointment as Obama advisor draws cautious optimism" from April 22, Noha El-Hennawy is reporting from Cairo that Egyptians are happy with Obama's purported outreach to Muslims.
Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: "The End of Christian America." Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. Okay, then let’s compare. How much has Newsweek’s circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state "The End of Newsweek."
At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its "base rate" (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.
CNN latched onto two separate poll results on Monday that indicated that about half of Americans view the Islamic world negatively or don’t trust Muslim allies as much as other allies, and indicated that President Obama and others in authority need to be “educators” for the public about Islam. The network brought up the polls’ results on seven different occasions during their programming that day.
During the 8 am Eastern hour of American Morning, chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour first brought up a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll which found that 55 percent of Americans “concede that they lack a good basic understanding of Islam” and that 48 percent “hold an unfavorable opinion of Islam.” After she read these results, substitute anchor Carol Costello responded, “I think the difference is that many Americans see Islam as an ideology instead of a religion, and maybe, President Obama has to kind of -- kind of put a definition on it from the American standpoint in Turkey.”
Later, near the end of the noon hour of the Newsroom program, Amanpour appeared again, this time with anchor Tony Harris. He asked the correspondent to “talk us through some recent polling in The Washington Post that suggests that the president is going to have to play the role of educator-in-chief when it comes to explaining Islam to many in America, even as he works for better relations with the Islamic world.” Amanpour first answered that President Obama was “trying to smooth...over and correct” the “terrible rupture” between the U.S. and the Islamic world over the past eight years.
Here is something that you NewsBusters fans can help me with because I am having difficulty deciding what is going on with this one. We have a shooting incident in Minnesota perpetrated by three Muslim Somali immigrants but for some reason almost every single media report about the incident omits the names of the shooters, names of obvious North African or ethnic origin. So, the question is, did the Old Media in Minnesota purposefully leave the names unreported so that they could cover up the fact that the criminals were Somali immigrants? And, if so, why would they do this?
We start with the Minneapolis Star Tribune that reports that "three suspects were in jail Sunday following a shooting in Lakeville that injured four other people." Apparently one of those arrested took umbrage at being told to leave a party and began shooting up the place as he and his friends left. But, all we get from the StarTrib is "three suspects." No names or descriptions.
The current cover of Newsweek advertises a story on "Taliban Chic" in London, and it’s natural to assume it might be another story lauding the "burqini." Instead, it’s a chilling look at how the openness of London (and Western society) can create space for Islamic radicalism.
Newsweek reporter Sami Yousafzai clearly wrote in the spirit of the new Newsweek: a first-person account with no real objectivity or detachment. But it was gripping, as he began by describing how he came to London after being shot by Islamic radicals in Peshawar, Pakistan. Hoping for a safe environment, he was disturbed to discover London youths dressed like the Taliban: "I saw a tall young Afghan who reminded me of my would-be assassin, striding down the street like a bad dream."
One has to wonder about the thought process of some people. Dan Gilgoff, Faith reporter with U.S. News and World Report and Huffington Post writer, is a perfect example of what I am talking about. After a February 23 posting on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's Catholic faith, Gilgoff followed up the next day with a post claiming that Sarah Palin fans were smearing Jindal over his supposedly "secret Muslim" faith. Where did Gilgoff get such a ridiculous idea? Why, from just two commenters that posted on his entry of the 23rd, that's where.
That's right, just two people claiming in the comments section of his U.S. News post that Jindal was a secret Muslim was enough for Dan Gilgoff to decide that Sarah Palin's entire support base is smearing Bobby Jindal as a secret Muslim. Just two people. Two nuts is enough for U.S. News and World Report to slander Sarah Palin and all her followers as crazy, racist, hatemongers.
During the 3:00PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage, anchor Norah O’Donnell discovered the source of sexism in the Middle East was not Islamic fundamentalism, but rather, capitalism: "And to another big story, is oil behind sexism in the Middle East? It's a provocative new theory out there today, suggesting the real culprit of the lower status of women in the Middle East is because of the region's oil wealth."
O’Donnell then turned to Sally Quinn of the Washington, who wrote about the theory on the newspaper’s On Faith blog: "This is a hot topic, Sally. Do you believe that oil is behind sexism in the Middle East?" Quinn replied: "Well, I do think that it has a lot to do with it...when you have an oil-rich country, there's much less manufacturing, so that there are fewer jobs for women. But also because the country is so rich that women don't need to work and therefore they're comfortable and they stay home."
Later, O’Donnell concluded: "But it's a very interesting question, it's not necessarily Islam, it may be more, and you would know this better than I, as -- because of what you're doing -- it may more be the wealth of that country." Quinn replied: "Well, it is the wealth. The -- part of it, too, has to do with culture. I mean, that they come from a culture where women don't work. And so, because the oil-rich countries, all of the jobs that are involved around oil are much more male-oriented jobs."
Does the media show religious discrimination in their news judgment? The founder of a TV network devoted to improve the image of Muslims being charged in the beheading of his wife is not a story the major media have leaped on. On Friday, news broke that Muzzammil Hassan, founder and CEO of Bridges TV, was charged with murdering his wife Aasiya after she filed for divorce. After some Nexis research, here’s a listing of major media outlets that have yet to report it: ABC, NBC, NPR, the NewsHour on PBS, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
But on November 12, 1993, all these networks (including NPR) reported within hours on the charges made against Chicago's Catholic cardinal at the time, liberal-leaning Joseph Bernardin, by a 34-year-old AIDS patient, who had just "remembered" he was sexually abused 18 years after the alleged event, and wanted $10 million for his anguish. It led newscasts on CNN and NBC. Connie Chung's sensational introduction on the CBS Evening News typified media reaction: "The Roman Catholic Church in America was rocked today by charges of scandal against one of its most prominent leaders and reformers." (The accuser, Steven Cook, recanted the lawsuit in March of 1994.)
Updated: while the Nexis search showed no CBS story on the beheading, MRC's Kyle Drennen found a news report on Wednesday's Early Show.
The Muslim founder of BridgesTV, a cable network whose slogan is “connecting people through understanding” and which tried to “improve the image of Muslims in the United States,” was arrested on Thursday, for allegedly killing his estranged wife in a manner normally associated with Islamist terrorists -- chopping off her head.
Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher, reported on Friday that Muzzammil Hassan, “a prominent Buffalo area businessman who founded the BridgesTV network to improve the image of Muslims in the U.S.,” had been charged with second-degree murder in the beheading death of his wife Aasiya Z. Hassan. Mitchell quoted from the network’s website, which described Mrs. Hassan’s “instrumental role in the creation of BridgesTV since she came up with the idea for the network.” The picture of the couple is still up on the website.
Update (13 Feb. | Ken Shepherd): Tomaso responds here, dismissing the notion that he exhibited any liberal bias. Commenters to his blog post are divided.
Condescending secular elitism isn’t just for the coasts anymore. It can even come from red state Texas.
On The Dallas Morning News’s Religion blog Feb. 12, Bruce Tomaso wrote a post called “Alabama and Iran Have Something in Common.” It stemmed from a recent Gallup poll that asked people around the world, “How important is religion in your daily life?” The poll found, among many other things, that nearly the same percentage of the population of Iran (83 percent) and Alabama (82 percent) said that religion was important to them.
Tomaso thought this was a riot: “Since I've never been to Iran and haven't spent enough time in Alabama to have a well-formed opinion, I refrain from cleverly drawing further comparisons,” he wrote. “But that doesn't mean you wiseakers can't!”
CNN correspondent Zain Verjee, in a report posted on CNN.com on January 17, likened the expected large crowds for the inauguration of Barack Obama to the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca: “The coming political pilgrimage to Washington is similar to another grand event in both size and preparation -- the Hajj, the most important religious pilgrimage in the Muslim world.”
As Israel "assaulted" Hamas positions in Gaza with a ground offensive following an aerial bombardment, the New York Times's dispatches over the weekend began to slant toward pro-Palestinian sympathy, reminiscent of its biased coverage of Israel's attack on the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Ray Rivera attended a Times Square anti-Israel demonstration on Saturday that was filled with left-wing protestors. Yet no trace of that ideology made it into his Sunday story, "Rally Protests Fighting in Gaza -- Pro-Palestinian Crowd Marches to Israel Consulate." The text box claimed: "Across Seventh Avenue, others vent their anger at Hamas." As if the anti-Israeli protestors weren't showing anger toward the entire nation of Israel.
Anger over the Israeli assault on Gaza spilled into Times Square on Saturday, as hundreds of protesters condemned the attacks in a demonstration that stretched four blocks and clogged much of the city's central tourist district for several hours.
The protest came as Israeli troops began a ground incursion into the Hamas-controlled territory in what officials described as an effort to end Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. The land campaign followed eight days of Israeli airstrikes that have killed more than 430 Palestinians, many of them civilians.