The media storyline from yesterday's election results has been, for the most part, that Democrats picked up big victories, and that it was all bad news for the Republicans. And that President Bush, bogged down in incompetence (Hurricane Katrina) and malice ("he lied - people died!"), pandering to the right-wing (Alito) and heading an out-of-control criminal White House (Libby and Rove) is acting as an anchor, dragging down the Republican Party, leading to these spectacular Democratic wins. We see it in the New York Times:
After months of sagging poll ratings, scandal and general political unrest, the Republicans badly needed some good news in Tuesday's elections for governor. What they got instead was a clear-cut loss in a red state, and an expected but still painful defeat in a blue one.
The Republican loss in Virginia, which President Bush carried with 54 percent just a year ago, came after an 11th-hour campaign stop by Mr. Bush and the kind of all-out Republican effort to mobilize the vote that reaped rich rewards last year.
The Associated Press continued the media crusade against Scooter Libby continued today by clarifying the aims of his enemies, but revealed a typical omission instead. The cleverly-titled piece, “Democrats Don't Want Libby to Be Pardoned,” speaks volumes about its bias.
AP special correspondent David Espo began by quoting a letter from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to the White House:
"We also urge you to state publicly whether anyone in the White House -- including White House counsel Harriet Miers or Vice President Cheney -- has already discussed the possibility of a pardon with Mr. Libby."
The Associated Press has found a unique way to ensure that negative statements and comments regarding Iraq get wide circulation.. Just have two writers do similar pieces with different titles and release them on the same day. The articles should contain the same negative comments and talking points. Throw in a few token positives, rearrange the flow of the articles and you have a hit. It’s a given that someone will read at least one of the articles and come away with an idea of bad things in Iraq. If the AP strikes the mother lode and a reader is exposed to both pieces, the repeated negatives work like a subliminal message.
Such is the case with 2 stories released by the AP on October 25, 2005. The subject was the failure to find any fraud in the Constitutional referendum in Iraq. The 10-day audit was completed and the citizens ratified Iraq’s Constitution. Thomas Wagner’s article, “Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters”, was posted at 0928 EDT. Mariam Fam’s article, “Iraq’s Constitution Ratified by Voters”, came later in the afternoon at 1600 EDT.
Regardless of economic data, press accounts are typically negative and pessimistic.
The economy has been growing at a very strong clip since October 2001. Real estate prices are at their highest levels in history, as are homeownership and Americans’ average net worth. Unemployment also is lower than the average during any of the past three decades. Yet Americans are very down, and one third even think the economy is in a recession. Is consistently negative media coverage influencing public attitudes? Might headlines like “Job growth less than expected” and “Jobs come up weak” have something to do with the gloom being felt across the country?
The Labor Department announced unemployment numbers for October on November 4, and despite a decline in this rate and an addition to payrolls, the media reported the gains as “surprisingly meager,” “stalled,” “damped,” and “disappointing.”
Our friends at the Associated Press have once again reminded us why any of their releases that contain the name ‘Bush’ must always be viewed skeptically. Their latest entry, “Bush Diplomacy Means Settling for Less” is one such example.
While praising their efforts to work with the UN on Iran and Syria, AP writer Anne Gearan takes the Bush Administration in general and Condi Rice in particular, to task for their former unapologetic unilateralism:
In showdowns over Iran, North Korea and now Syria, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemingly agrees that half a loaf is better than none -- an unexpectedly pragmatic streak for a Bush administration better known for going its own way in international affairs.
The AP proves once again that it can take a poll and create any conclusion about the findings that it wants.
So naturally, it was all doom and gloom for recent Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito in the latest AP-Ipsos poll. The headline: "Poll: Early Public Support for Alito Weak." (Via Times Argus.) Adding that "The survey put public sentiment for Alito closer to the level of early backing for the failed nomination of Harriet Miers." Interestingly enough, the AP Could have also run the headline "Early Public Opposition to Alito Weak - Fewer People Opposed to Alito than were opposed to Roberts, Miers." Obviously, the AP did not go that route.
WASHINGTON - The 14 centrists who averted a Senate breakdown over judicial nominees last spring are showing signs of splintering on President Bush's latest nominee for the Supreme Court.
That is weakening the hand of Democrats opposed to conservative judge Samuel Alito and enhancing his prospects for confirmation.
The unity of the seven Democrats and the seven Republicans in the "Gang of 14" was all that halted a major filibuster fight between GOP leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid earlier this year over Bush's nominees.
There was a lot of media excitement today surrounding the rare “closed session” called in the Senate by Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada). In fact, a Google news search identified 684 articles and postings on the subject. For example, Reuters reported:
“Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed session on Tuesday to protest what they decried as the Republican-led body's inattention to intelligence failures on Iraq and the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
“Invoking a little used rule, Democrats temporarily shut down television cameras in the chamber, cleared galleries of reporters, tourists and other onlookers, forced removal of staff members and recording devices and stopped work on legislation.”
MSNBC, with the assistance of the Associated Press, even reported this event as a huge win for the Democrats, with a sub-headline, “Following unusual closed Senate session, Democrats claim victory.”
Yet, from what I can tell, there was little if any discussion by most media outlets including Reuters, MSNBC, and AP concerning how rarely this rule is invoked, and under what circumstances in American history it has been employed.
The Bush administration is preparing the announcement of a national plan for dealing with a possible influenza pandemic. According to the Associated Press, the plan will cover stockpiling of vaccine, improved vaccine manufacturing capabilities and the potential for travel restrictions. On the whole, it's a news story, dealing in a fairly straightforward manner with the possibility of a pandemic, and the actions and reactions that would be necessary to handle it. But that doesn't seem to be good enough. No, we apparently can't get an AP story that doesn't go out of its way to criticize the administration. So, in the very first sentence, unrelated to anything else in the story, we get the obligatory reference to past failure.
The Bush administration, battered by criticism over its hurricane response, is getting the nation prepared for a possible travel ban and other restrictions in the event of a worldwide flu outbreak. (emphasis mine)
What did the "criticism over its hurricane response" have to do with anything else in the story? Nothing. It was gratuitous and completely unnecessary.
Mary Mapes, the former CBS News producer who became famous for her involvement in a “60 Minutes II” segment last year concerning President Bush’s involvement in the Air National Guard, had an excerpt of her upcoming book, “Truth and Duty,” printed in the December issue of Vanity Fair.
An Editor and Publisher article published last evening stated the following:
“Mapes writes that she had felt the Guard segment was a big success after airing on Sept. 8, 2004, until the following morning at 11 a.m. when she learned that a bunch of ‘far-right’ Web sites were claiming that documents were forged.
"That same day about 3 p.m. she recalls staring at the Drudge Report and seeing a big picture of Rather at the top and a headline saying that he was ‘shaken’ and hiding in his office. The phone rang and it was Rather, telling her he'd just heard about the Drudge deadline and he wanted to assure her that he was not 'shaken' and was not hiding out.
"He signed off with a favorite expression of his: ‘FEA’ for ‘---- them all.’"
One of the easiest things to predict was that President Bush's nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court would be met with cries of dismay from the left. (Indeed, Sen. Schumer's nonsense - "he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America instead of choosing a nominee...who would unify us" - notwithstanding, it's difficult to conceive of a potential Bush nominee who would NOT have provoked an outcry on the left.)
And one of the first issues that was certain to arise was the abortion issue. There are a couple of reasons why abortion was inevitable. The first is that Roe v. Wade is the single biggest flash-point between Conservatives and Liberals when it comes to the courts. When the Supreme Court issued Roe v. Wade (and its companion Doe v. Bolton), the issue was virtually removed from the sphere of practical legislation, a victory for the American left that it guards jealously. Because of that, abortion is going to be issue number one for virtually any nominee of a Republican president. But beyond that, Alito issued a dissenting opinion in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in 1992 that the Supreme Court eventually disagreed with, as it re-affirmed and expanded the scope of Roe v. Wade. And that dissent is going to spawn a flood of criticism, much of it inaccurate, or incomplete at best. Such as today's AP article, Alito Has Affirmed Abortion Restrictions. In it, the AP states that Alito is pro-life and implies that he would let that color his judgement on cases before the court.
The Associated Press, in its continued obsession with the religious affiliations of Supreme Court justices and nominees--as long as they are Catholic--released its first story of the day concerning the rumored pick of Samuel Alito for the high court: Alito Would Be Fifth Catholic on Court.
The brief story notes, “If confirmed, Samuel Alito would be the fifth Roman Catholic on the current Supreme Court and the 11th Catholic to serve in the court's history.” It then goes on to list the names of those eleven.
As it so often does, the Associated Press likes to play word games, especially when it comes to stories on Republicans.
On Wednesday, Larry Margasak wrote a piece called, “DeLay Acknowledges Failure to Report Money.” In it, Margasak seemed to imply that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was somehow guilty of intentionally trying to hide donations to the Delay Legal Expense Trust; money raised to battle the charges brought against him by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle.
As we prepare for any Patrick Fitzgerald moves today on Plamegate, and the press gets out its bottle of Clinton's Milk of Amnesia, don't just remember, as Rich Noyes did, that the media yawned when it came out that Robert Ray could have indicted Hillary. From the cobwebs of the April 1999 edition of our old paper newsletter MediaWatch, a reminder that the media also yawned when the grand jury forewoman felt she would have supported indicting President Clinton:
A silent but important figure in Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Lewinsky investigation briefly broke her silence last month. Grand jury forewoman Freda Alexander revealed that she would have voted to indict President Clinton for perjury, if given the chance, and characterized attacks on Ken Starr as "grossly unfair." But the networks showed little interest in her revelations.
Not to worry, America. The Associated Press, with its vast worldwide resources, has uncovered some vital information on the Miers nomination: The high school she attended was “all-white.”
And because of this, “Miers (Was) Isolated From Social Turmoil As Teen.” So says the title of the latest in the AP’s series of insightful articles on the possible Supreme Court Associate Justice.
Harriet Miers spent her teens in an all-white high school far removed from the racial and social upheaval of the early 1960s, consumed instead with academics, tennis and even a stint as the school newspaper's assistant sports editor.
In its zeal to promote the “right” kind of candidates, the Associated Press put out a piece called, “Death Penalty, Bush Loom in Va. Race.” While citing the main issues as capital punishment and the popularity of President Bush, author Ron Fournier seeks to paint Democrat Tim Kaine’s Virginia gubernatorial candidacy as one reaching out to “so-called values voters:”
Kaine is a Roman Catholic who opposes the death penalty. That puts him at odds with most Americans (two-thirds support capital punishment for murderers), and poses even greater peril in a conservative Southern state that favored Bush by 9 percentage points last year.
The Iraqis have approved their new constitution, but the AP is not real happy about it. Look how quickly they go from good news to bad news in this report:
Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters
Iraq's constitution was adopted by a majority in a fair vote during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. A prominent Sunni politician called the balloting "a farce."
The U.S. military also announced the deaths of two Marines in fighting with insurgents last week in Baghdad, bringing the number of American service members killed in the war to 1,999.
It's almost as though they used the news of the vote as an excuse to rerun the combat death numbers.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA-leak inquiry is focusing attention on what long has been a Bush White House tactic: slash-and-burn assaults on its critics, particularly those opposed to the president's Iraq war policies.
"Slash-and-burn assaults"? This sounds more like something out of a Chucky or Halloween movie.
Apparently, this is the AP's idea of "news analysis." Yet at at least one place on the Web, Raum's article appears as being just another newswire story. At CNN.com, for example, Raum is not even given a byline, and the piece does not carry any kind of "News analysis" or "Commentary" heading.
There has been a lot of outrage in the media concerning the burning of a couple of dead, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in early October. Yet, the Australian journalist who videotaped the proceedings, Stephen Dupont, stated in an interview on National Public Radio yesterday (audio link to follow courtesy of Bareknucklepolitics.com) that he believed the bodies were burned purely for reasons of hygiene when the local villagers refused to retrieve them, and that the American soldiers didn't do anything wrong. (Video links to an SBS "Dateline" promo for Dupont's piece as well as an SBS interview with him on the subject also follow):
“I actually believe that the guys who were involved in the burning did it with honorable, you know, reasons. They did it through their orders, or they did if for hygiene. I had no doubt in my mind that they were telling me the truth. If they were doing something that was problematic or controversial, there’s no way they would have shown me this. There’s no way they would have let me go up there and film this.”
The Associated Press’s Laurie Kellman clearly had a very difficult time hiding her disappointment that newly indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex) wasn’t frowning in his mugshot taken at his arrest yesterday afternoon in Texas. In fact, even the headline of her article, “DeLay Smile May Foil Democrat Campaign Ads,” couldn’t cover up her frustration:
“Why is Tom DeLay smiling? After all, he's been indicted. Forced out of his job as House majority leader. And called into court for fingerprinting and a mugshot like a common criminal.”
Kellman continued with no semblance of concern that her lack of objectivity would be apparent to even the most uninformed readers:
When Cindy Sheehan showed up outside of President Bush's Crawford, TX ranch in August, it was, to a certain degree, understandable that there would be some press coverage. She was there, the media was there, there wasn't a lot to write about. But the coverage was weak and biased in almost all cases, carrying her message uncritically, with no evaluation of who she was or what she was saying. The attitude seemed to be that she lost her son, she was criticizing the President, so she was credible and newsworthy, no matter what else there was in her views and attitudes. Indeed, I noted at the time how the Associated Press was acting as a PR firm for Sheehan, as opposed to an actual news organization.
Over at Human Events, Todd Manzi reports the timeline on the Bill Bennett gaffe story shows a liberal press-release campaign (John Conyers, NAACP, People for the American Way, Leadership Conference on Civil rights) to get AP and other media outlets to pick it up.
According to the Google timeline, all of the above press releases were issued BEFORE any of the main stream media (MSM) published one story about the Bennett call. At this moment the only people in the general public who knew what Bennett said were those who heard it on the radio. [Or as Manzi, acknowledges, monitor Media Matters.]
This unseemly group of barnacles attempted to get ahead of the issue and attach themselves to it for their own self promotion. They were also sending a strong signal to the (AP) that they want this to be a national story.
There’s been much debate since America liberated Iraq some 31 months ago concerning whether or not this nation could ever become a true democracy. The events of the past couple of days indicate that this region is taking quite well to an American-style government, and that it’s party officials have quickly learned that if you don’t like the results of an election, just get an attorney to file some complaints demanding a recount.
Of course, as one would expect, America’s press are eating this up. For instance, the Associated Press reported:
“BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq’s electoral commission said Monday it intended to audit an ‘unusually high’ vote count from most provinces in the country’s landmark referendum on the draft constitution.”
“The electoral commission’s statement came as Sunni Arab lawmaker Meshaan al-Jubouri claimed fraud had occurred in Saturday’s election — including instances of voting in hotly contested regions by pro-constitution Shiites from other areas — repeating earlier comments made by other Sunni officials over the weekend.”
All three broadcast networks filed reports concerning these fraud allegations on their respective evening news programs, including “The NBC Nightly News”: “In Dialah, one Sunni politician said there were 39,000 yes votes, even though there are only 36,000 registered voters.” Sounds a lot like media reports from Ohio after last November’s elections in America.
What follows is a full transcript of NBC’s report, along with a video link.
***Update*** NBC’s “Today Show” jumped on the election fraud bandwagon this morning. Campbell Brown said, “Election officials in Iraq are counting votes again." Video Link.
James O. Clifford, Sr., a retired reporter and editor with UPI and the Associated Press, has an interesting guest column, "Cardinal Law Was Looking For Media Sin In The Wrong Places," in this month's edition of the conservative Catholic magazine, New Oxford Review. Clifford argues that while the national media have rightfully reported aggressively on systemic abuses and coverups among the Catholic hierarchy regarding priestly sexual abuse of children, the media have played down similar concerns within the teaching profession about nationwide problems with student-teacher sexual misconduct in American public schools.
The article can be found teased here, featuring the first five paragraphs. There is a $1.50 charge for reading the full article.
Does the Associated Press take sides against the U.S. military when reporting in Iraq? You decide. In a story today describing retaliation for a roadside bomb that killed five American soldiers on Saturday, the ABC/AP story titled, “U.S.: 70 Insurgents Killed in Airstrikes,” opens:
U.S. helicopters and warplanes bombed two villages near the restive city of Ramadi…
The “restive” city of Ramadi? My dictionary defines that word as “uneasy or fidgety.” Hardly the way to describe a rat’s nest of terrorist activity; one that even UPI said is “exploding with violence”. The story continues:
With The recent Iraq election turning out to be better than anyone had expected, the Associated Press has decided to do its best to drag everyone back down to reality. The only problem here for the AP is the reality they seek to push is their own.
In the midst of the recent controversy surrounding Harriet Miers' political leanings, the media seems to have come to its own comfortable determination that Miers is a suitable candidate for the Supreme Court.
In this story by Donald Lambro for the Washington Times, several Republican chairmen are quoted as saying they believe their constituents support Miers. What I want to know is the last time a party chair said, "Yeah, my constituents agree, our president doesn't know what he's doing." This is news? And what about the conservative megasite, Townhall.com's recent poll, that said 86% of the site's viewers don't like Miers? I'm not great at math, but something isn't adding up.
Unfortunately, journalists haven’t accurately reported the data involved.
Catastrophic events in America’s cities have a tendency to generate discussions about race, class, and poverty. The Watts riots in 1965, as well as the Rodney King riots in 1992 are fine examples. Hurricane Katrina has sparked another such debate. Unfortunately, America’s media are relying on consistently questionable or out-of-date statistics to not only exaggerate the problem, but to blame President Bush.