Is only positive news about American Muslims fit to highlight?
After issuing this week a massive three-part series with a glowing portrait of the imam of a Brooklyn mosque (while glossing over his sympathies for the terrorist group Hamas), Wednesday's Times buries on page 18 attempted murder by a radical Islamist looking for revenge against Americans.
Brenda Goodman’s “Defendant Offers Details Of Jeep Attack at University,” details what happened on the campus of the University of North Carolina but, like the headline, leaves off some pertinent data.
You’d think Katie Couric would aspire to be an anchorwoman for all the American people, now that CBS appears to be wooing her for the Throne of Rather. So why did she have to be so rough on Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, for being a Catholic?
Monaghan has an extraordinary American story. After struggling badly with his brother in a failing pizza business, he bought his brother out in 1960 and by the 1980s had accumulated amazing riches. He was enjoying them, too, all the gaudy trappings of success, and then he read the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Reading about the great sin of pride, his life changed dramatically. He stopped concentrating on material things, instead focusing his energies, and his wealth, in pursuit of spiritual good. He poured millions upon millions of dollars into pro-life and Catholic philanthropy. Among other ventures, he founded Ave Maria University. After facing zoning problems with his first location in Michigan, Monaghan struck a deal in southern Florida, not to merely build a Catholic college, but a truly Catholic town, open to anyone aspiring to live in communion with traditional values.
Today co-host Katie Couric savaged Dominos Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and Paul Marinelli, CEO of Barron Collier Company (BCC). The two appeared on the March 3 edition of the show to promote Ave Maria, a new Catholic university in Florida and the planned community that will surround it. Couric, interviewing the two men at 7:34AM EST, appeared openly hostile. She stated, "I think people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance." Mr. Marinelli denied this claim, but that didn’t stop Couric from playing the bigotry card.
But disagreement can easily transform into cheap, personal attacks when the issue involves the Catholic Church. Witness morning talk-show host Doug McIntyre on KABC in Los Angeles this morning. In an angry tirade against Mahony's public statements, McIntryre pulled out the priest molestation scandal and proceeded to call a Cardinal "a scumbag." In reading his name "Roger M. Mahony," McIntyre formulated that his middle name was not Michael, but that "the M stands for molester." (The Cardinal has never been charged by law enforcement for molestation.)
Does every discussion involving the Catholic Church have to resort to the cheap ploy of dragging in the molestation scandal? At what point does this ploy cross the line into simple anti-Catholic bigotry?
British tech site The Register reported that Linda Callahan was trying to sign up for an email account with Verizon and was not allowed to because her name was blasphemous to Yahoo, which is in partnership with Verizon.
Yahoo banned any name that has "Allah" in it, including Callahan or Kallahar. The blasphemy policy didn't, however, cover God, Jesus or Buddah.
Carsten Juste, the editor of the Danish newspaper that set off an international kerfuffle by publishing cartoons of the founder of Islam was interviewed in yesterday's edition. An excerpt from the Q&A:
There were some journalists here at the paper, including some who write regularly about Muslims, immigration, and integration, who strongly advised us not to do it. It was quite a discussion. Personally I thought the cartoons were harmless - very much in fitting with our Danish tradition for caricature. If some of the cartoons had been cruder - if an illustrator had given us Mohammed pissing on the Koran, for example - then it would have been pulled. The same way I've pulled a lot of cartoons over the years that devout Christians might have found insulting. Or others because they were too vulgar or too crude. I didn't feel that these were, and so we went ahead.'
Saturday's CBS Evening News devoted its “Weekend Journal” segment to, as anchor Russ Mitchell explained, “the Senate veteran who is known far and wide as 'Saint Jack.'" Bill Whitaker proceeded to relay, without any competing voices, the anti-Christian Right enmity of former moderate, at best, Missouri Republican Senator Jack Danforth who is on a crusade to rid the Republican Party of the influence of Christian conservatives. Whitaker began with a clip of Danforth declaring: "I am concerned about the Republican Party becoming, in essence, the party of the Christian conservatives." Whitaker then bucked-up Danforth's authority: "This is no Republican-basher speaking. It's party stalwart John Danforth, a lifelong Republican with rock solid conservative credentials.” To support the ludicrous claim that Danforth holds “solid conservative credentials,” Whitaker cited how he “led the bitter partisan battle to put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court” -- when that just reflected personal loyalty to Thomas who had worked on Danforth's staff when he was Missouri's Attorney General -- and how as “an episcopal priest, he presided over the funeral of Ronald Reagan," as if all those involved in the service were right-wingers.
The Los Angeles-based Whitaker, who traveled to La Quinta, California to interview Danforth, trumpeted how “this faithful Republican is worried about the direction his party is taking." After relating Danforth's contention that the involvement of religious conservatives “makes the party seem exclusive, and I think it makes American politics meaner” as well as his complaint that Republicans “pander” in “the conscious development of wedge issues in order to excite religious passion,” Whitaker sighed: "But even he admits it works. The GOP now controls the White House, the Senate, the House. But at what cost?" Danforth alleged: "If by winning an election we've caused such divisions in the country that we are unable to address the really big issues before us, then we've done more harm than good." (Transcript follows.)
On the Washington Post op-ed page today, Colbert King snidely protests the conservative feeling that liberals turned the Coretta Scott King funeral into a bit of whooping political theater. "The fuss over the funeral is probably the silliest snit of all."
King raised several straw men. First, how could you expect a funeral for a political icon like Coretta not to raise issues of racism, poverty, and war? (But we didn't expect it to be free of political themes. We did expect it to be free of whooping ovations of sentences that seemed designed to embarrass the President as he sat there.) Second, he claims this is the way black Baptist funerals are. (But the "mourners" were not worshiping Jesus, saying Amen to their Lord in loud voices. They were whooping at liberal anti-Bush sentiments. If that's a black Baptist funeral, then it IS as much a campaign event as a religious event.) King concludes:
Over at Townhall, columnist Larry Elder wrote about an interview on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air with Terry Gross." Most of the interviews and reviews on that show are about arts and culture, but politics are also a topic. It airs on at least 350 NPR affiliates across the country. Elder writes about her interview with former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin about the inappropriateness of the Bush tax cuts. (Audio can be found here.) He centers in on the liberal questioning:
Gross: "This is the first time, as far as I understand it, that we've cut taxes during wartime. What does the math look like, paying for Iraq while cutting taxes?"
MediaBistro's FishBowl DC bloggers, Garrett Graff and Patrick Gavin, posted an internal Washington Post report on racial diversity at the newspaper. The January 26 cover letter to newsroom staff from top editors -- Executive Editor Len Downie, Managing Editor Phil Bennett, and Deputy Managing Editor Milton Coleman -- boasted of increased diversity in hiring: "Through determined recruiting, we have increased the number of minority journalists working in our newsroom to an all-time high of 152, which is 23.5 percent of our professional staff. The two percent increase from 21.4 percent at the end of 2004 is the largest ever."
But the real dirt in the 30-plus page report is the testimony of anonymous Post reporters. This one sticks out for me, on page 5: "One person noted an anti-religion bias in the newsroom. When referring to the faithful, 'the word of choice around here is "kooks".'This same person felt offended during the recent coverage of the Pope’s death, when some of her colleagues, she said, were mocking the Pope. 'I was [too] intimidated to complain, even since my editor was part of it, so I got up and left. Faith is derided.'" Other reporters complained:
Over at the NBC Nightly News "Daily Nightly" blog, NBC "investigative producer" Robert Windrem relates how at the 2:30 pm editorial meeting on Wednesday, "we had a lively discussion of what the context should be" about the Muslim cartoon jihad. For his part, Windrem agreed with local liberal academics, who somehow can link cartoonists to police brutality:
The bottom line for me was that this can't be dealt with as a story about cartoons or even about Islamic prohibitions about the depiction of Muhammad. It has to be about the simmering pot that went to boil, as Shibley Telhami, the University of Maryland scholar, said this morning on Washington radio. He noted that this is the Islamic version of the Rodney King verdict. In that case, it wasn't just about the verdict against four Los Angeles policemen. It was about African-Americans' belief, whether based on reality or perception, that they had been the victims of decades of racism and thuggery by the LAPD.
Hardball's screen graphic "Global Fury" presumably referred to the rioting over the Mohammed cartoons. But it might also have been a subliminally sardonic comment about Chris Matthews' guest, Amy Goodman, host of the far-left radio show "Democracy Now."
If Hillary is angry, perhaps she's taken lessons from Goodman. This is one angry woman. Goodman's explanation by way of a justification of the rioting?
"This is about people feeling marginalized. This has to do with the war in Iraq, this has to do with 'the Occupation' [translation: Israel's claim to a right to exist], this is about hundreds being held at Guantanamo with the Koran being desecrated."
As noted previously on Newsbusters, the violent Muslim protests against the publication of cartoons lampooning Islam has clearly put The New York Times in an uncomfortable position. The rioters, while to the Times an embattled minority in the West, are attacking free speech. Not good. But their most vocal critics are conservatives. Indeed, the Times describes the paper that first ran the cartoons as “conservative.” Can’t side with them.
In today's “Critic’s Notebook” piece, headlined "A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery" and featuring a photo of children holding a sign "Danish People Not Welcome Here," writer Michael Kimmelman unwittingly describes the paper’s dilemma halfway through his meandering 1,396-word item:
But the Mohammad cartoons are “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols” and won’t be run by the paper.
Just yesterday, the Times wrote, in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, that “The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
Apparently the Arts pages didn’t get the memo, because it runs a photo of Chris Ofili’s dung-clotted “Holy Virgin Mary” painting in Wednesday’s Arts section story by Michael Kimmelman, who also calls the Danish cartoons “callous and feeble.”
In a web-exclusive story on the web site of U.S. News & World Report, Senior Writer Jay Tolson's article on Muhammad cartoons is headlined "Matters of Faith: Satanic Cartoonery." Satanic? And no quotes? Since when do they use "Satanic" without quotes and mockery? Tolson comes flat-down in the middle of this controversy, believing that free speech needs some respect, but that freedom has been "abused," as Bill Clinton argued. Hmm...Tolson ends by touting the "high-minded sentiments" of one Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim activist the U.S. State Department banned from teaching at Notre Dame. Tolson's theme is the lines are blurred (and guess who's doing the blurring):
Reactions to the cartoon scandal do not simply fall on two sides of an increasingly blurred line between the Islamic and western worlds.
Today's Matt Lauer scored a Jerome Bettis-sized TD this morning by asking a question regarding the current Muslim rioting that was as unexpected as it was perspicacious. Meanwhile, former Clinton diplomat Bill Richardson offered the instinctive Democratic response to a threat to our security: bring on the UN!
Richardson, currently the New Mexico governor, described the grim state of the Muslim world: "I've never seen the situation so dire with with the threats from Iran, the victory of Hamas, the escape of Badawi in Yemen. This is a very dangerous situation. It seems that the Muslim world is exploding."
Thanks to my Yahoo-loving wife, I've learned that NBC is backtracking big-time on the Britney Spears "Cruci-fixins" plot we noted last week. E! Online News reports:
Earlier this week, NBC issued a press release touting Spears' guest appearance on the sitcom. Per the Peacock's PR department, Spears, in her first television outing since having a baby, would appear on the Apr. 13 episode playing a religious conservative TV personality who winds up cohosting a talk show with Jack (Sean Hayes). Spears' character, the release said, would emcee a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Faster than you could say, "Oops, they did it again," NBC was facing another beef from the American Family Association.
The conservative Tupelo,Mississippi-based group, whose protests helped lead to the cancellation of the network's The Book of Daniel, was ready to call for a boycott of NBC, saying the Spears-fronted episode "mocks the crucifixion of Christ" and "further denigrates Christianity" because the show airs the night before Good Friday. The AFA is urging its supporters to contact NBC affiliates and demand they not broadcast it.
Newsweek no doubt thought they had a neat story on college debate, which is all the rage at Christian colleges. (That, and it never hurts to remind liberal readers of the Vast Right-Wing Christian conspiracy brewing in the shadows.) Reporter Susannah Meadows focused on a hot debate team at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University:
"We are training debaters who can perform a salt ministry, meaning becoming the conscience of the culture," says Falwell, who is also hoping the team will elevate the humble academic reputation of Liberty itself.
But that's not the way the article originally appeared. Oops. As a sign of Newsweek's general hostility to (and ignorance of) the religious right, they had to publish this correction:
Hey, I'm a multi-culturalist. I'm happy to see people observing their various religious holidays, from Christmas to Chanukah to Ramadan. But somehow, my multicultural enthusiasms run out of steam when it comes to . . . condoning the sacking of foreign embassies.
Not Julian Phillips. The co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend blithely condoned the current rioting and burning of foreign embassies around the world by Muslims angered by depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. His explanation-by-way-of-excuse: "different religion, different culture."
In the course of the show's opening segment, Fox's Yasmina Ykelenstam reported live from Beirut, where rioters had set fire to the Danish embassy. She reported that there has been violence across the city, including at the Norwegian embassy, and cars smashed and burned. Back in the studio, Kiran Chetry reported that in Damascus, Syria, rioters had also set fire to the Danish embassy.
The mention of Sam Alito voting "Catholic ticket" on the Supreme Court reminds me that Greg Pierce summarized a new magazine article in his "Inside Politics" column in the Washington Times this week. When President Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court, there obviously wasn't any concern of them voting on a "Jewish ticket." Their religion was rarely discussed -- in fact, most might be surprised at how little their nominations were discussed at the time. But Ginsburg ostentatiously displays her objection to the "outrageous" anti-abortion sermon she could hear at the Catholic "Red Mass" held ceremonially before each term of the Supreme Court:
When it comes to malign intent, Ellen Ratner will be hard-pressed ever to outdo the hope she expressed in 2003 that the Iraq war go badly in order to promote Democratic political interests.
But Ratner might well have plumbed a new personal low in religious stereotyping and sheer ignorance this morning when she explained Justice Sam Alito's recent vote to stay an execution by claiming that he votes the "Catholic ticket."
Her ill-informed allegation came in the course of "The Long & the Short of It," a regular Fox & Friends Weekend feature in which she debates conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton.
Campbell Brown substituted for anchor Brian Williams last night, and she also subbed on the NBC Nightly News blog, the Daily Nightly. Here's how she summarized the decision to censor out anti-Islam cartoons:
An interesting story in our broadcast tonight... and some debate internally over how to cover it. Dawna Friesen is going to update us on a controversy that started in Denmark. It involves published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons, which first appeared back in September, have been reprinted this week in other European newspapers, prompting new outrage from the Muslim world. One of the images shows a depiction of the prophet wearing a hat in the shape of a bomb. The newspapers cite their right to freedom of expression, but the protests are growing and becoming violent....After some discussion in our editorial meeting, we have decided not to show the cartoons explicitly. We are trying to treat this issue with care and sensitivity while still bringing you the story. I am sure we will get some feedback on this. Looking forward to it.
“Christian ministers were enthusiastic at the early private screenings of ‘End of the Spear,’ made by Every Tribe Entertainment, an evangelical film company. But days before the film's premiere, a controversy erupted over the casting of a gay actor that has all but eclipsed the movie and revealed fault lines among evangelicals.”
Banerjee talks to Rev. Jason Janz, who posted comments on sharperiron.org about actor Allen’s gay activism.
Give the Times a little credit for covering, in a mostly straightforward manner, an obscure topic of interest to social conservatives. But in the middle of the story, apropos of nothing, comes this sidelight, apparently meant only to cast the Christian side of the debate as extremist:
In the wake of riotous protests in Europe over anti-Muhammad cartoons, rest assured NBC is still devoting to mocking everything sacred to Christians, even though they just cancelled "Book of Daniel." The American Family Association, which led an anti-"Daniel" campaign, is going to campaign against the gay sitcom "Will and Grace," which will feature Britney Spears playing a conservative Christian. Associated Press briefly describes the "humor" within:
Jack's fictional network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, leading to Spears contributing a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."
Susan Jones has more from CNSNews.com here. Let's see how the media treat this outbreak of religious "humor" in the news. They ought to love this story with the complete congruence of Britney Spears and Christian-right mockery. Brent Bozell has described the entertainment media's odd treatment of organized religion (through Caroline Eichenberg's one-year study of TV religion plots) here.
The Washington Post devotes the most prominent part of its "Style" section front page today to a story headlined "'St. Jack' and the Bullies in the Pulpit." In a curious bout of news judgment, the Post and its reporter Peter Slevin decided it was newsworthy that former GOP Senator John Danforth has published two op-eds trashing the Christian right (one in the New York Times), bemoaning their place in today's majority Republican Party.
Slevin hints at why they're giving Danforth's writings so much ink: "The articles rocketed around the Internet. Liberals, along with a raft of lonely Republican moderates, loved them." So who are the "bullies in the pulpit"? Is that a cute slam on religious conservatives in general?
Democrats have figured out how to use the interwebs thingy. Staffers of Democrat representative Marty Meehan have gone into Wikipedia and removed all the (truthful) things they didn't like. Meanwhile, politicians wag a finger at Google for basically doing the exact same thing. You probably haven't heard anything about this story though because it was a Democrat and unless Karl Rove changes his Wikipedia entry it won't get much further than the Lowell Sun.
Bob Woodruff and his camera operator, Doug Vogt, were hit by an IED today while recording a stand-up. Godspeed to their recovery, but I have to wonder why this video hasn't aired yet. If it were anyone else it would be exploited with a constant loop. No doubt someone at ABC is rethinking the concept of privacy, unfortunately that concept of privacy will never be extended to any of us. While the impious media will probably plea for Woodruff and Vogt tonight, those of us with a soul will say a prayer for them.
Media darling and Court TV founder Steven Brill came out and said journalism school "is a giant waste of time." Huzzah.
Arianna is still taking shots at Tim Russert for being a pushover. NYDN would have you believe Russert blew a gasket, puffed up his chest and had his publicist send the NY Daily News a "ballistic email". The nearly too-hot-for-primetime email said "The last time we heard from Ms. Huffington, she was hiring private eyes to investigate reporters." Oooh, snap. Liberals can't even get along with themselves.
Couric did, however, spend over eight minutes of air time this morning searching for "the best pants for every behind," exploring "why some outfits make women's derrieres look too large," and letting female viewers know how to make the best of their butts.
Thanks, CJR, for pointing that out. I hadn't noticed in the last twenty years that The Today Show was filled with mindless nonsense stories.
In a recent Nightline episode that aired January 27, 2006, Vicki Mabrey presented what some call a controversial program happening within the prison walls of Lawtey Correctional Institution. The issue at hand – faith in prisons, and not just Christianity.
Mabrey contends that even though officials cite success with their program it isn’t really sufficient because there aren’t any scientific studies that prove that these types of faith based programs help lower disciplinary actions or lower recidivism rates.
The Associated Press reported late last evening that NBC is dropping the controversial series “The Book of Daniel” from its lineup: “Although the network stopped short of saying the low-rated show was canceled, a spokeswoman said Tuesday it has been dropped from the schedule.”
For those unfamiliar, the story line was potentially a bit over the top, even for network television: “The series, which starred Aidan Quinn as an Episcopalian priest with a pill habit who holds regular conversations with Jesus, has a promiscuous son and a daughter who deals marijuana, proved better at drawing criticism than viewers.”
According to the report, this show was largely a failure right from the start:
Gawker.com reports Rolling Stone is printing a magazine with Kanye West as a black Jesus on the cover: "The Passion of Kanye West." First impression: typical counter-cultural aging-hippie mag. Second impression: hey, so why are they also plugging a mock-the-religious-right story on "God's Senator?" Will they get a clue about the cognitive dissonance?
Here's your media bias test: will "Today" give outraged Christians a chance to fuss at the idea that a rapper whose "persecution" has only led to gold er, "records" should feel crucified like Christ? On March 21, 1997, Matt Lauer devoted a segment to outrage at National Review. As we reported at the time:
Seemingly lost in the media controversy of the comments from both NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin and Senator Hilary Clinton is the issue of the religious nature and/or setting of their comments.
Cathy Young covers that ground on Nagin today and concludes:
When a conservative minister says this kind of thing about George W. Bush, it's widely taken as a sign that America is sinking into a Dark Age of religious fanaticism. Somehow, the rhetoric of the "religious left" -- aside from an over-the-top rant like Nagin's -- is not met with the same condemnation.