If we turn up our Media Sensitivity Meter to the level of Extremely Nitpicky, note the AP headline this week to Laura Bush's description of Hillary's Congress-as-"plantation" remarks as "ridiculous." The headline was "First Lady Assails Sen. Clinton for Remark," repeated all over the web and in newspapers. But when I searched the words "First Lady assail" in Nexis for the Associated Press in the Clinton years, I didn't get a single headline. (And doesn't Hillary strike everyone as more of an "assailer" than Laura?) I did find one article from October 20, 1999 by reporter Ben Dobbin. It began:
Without uttering his name, Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out Wednesday her stark differences with Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on a raft of national issues - from the minimum wage to health care and gun control.
In a speech at a labor union convention, the first lady assailed her likely opponent in next year's Senate race and Republicans in Congress "who want to turn the clock back and return us to the days when a lot of what we enjoy was not even thought possible."
According to the Associated Press (hat tip to the Drudge Report), Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday “challenged Europe to take back the Jews who emigrated to Israel, adding that no Jews would remain in Israel if Europe were to open its doors.” Strangely, a thorough Google and LexisNexis search identified that, until now, no major American media outlet has reported this new round of anti-Semitic statements by the controversial Iranian leader who is also threatening to expand his country’s nuclear activities. (The New York Times published an online AP story Friday evening at its website that included this information. However, it appears that this did not make their Saturday print editions.)
The first time AP logged this report was via its Worldstream unit at 10:25PM GMT Friday. That calculates to 5:25PM Eastern Time. Yet, according to Google and LexisNexis, not one American media outlet besides the Drudge Report is covering this story:
Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April 1998 file photo in Afghanistan. Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo)
On Thursday, angry liberal readers of the Washington Post forced the ombudsmen of the paper, Deborah Howell, to shut it down. In her Sunday column, written on 1/15, Howell wrote that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on post.blog.
So much for our open-minded, elitist friends on the left, who are all to glad to once again enact another episode of "Do as I say, and not as I do." This is the same bunch that screams for openness and truth in media reporting, but only IF it hurts the GOP.
The President met at the White House today with Iraqi victims of the regime of Saddam Hussein. After spending an hour or so with the victims, and families of victims, he allowed the press in for a couple of minutes. The AP decided that the most worthy piece of information on the day, the thing that belonged in the headline, was the fact that the President either mispronounced or stumbled on the word 'butcher.' They highlighted that fact in their headline, Bush Meets Victims of 'Butcherer' Saddam.
Winston Churchill was once quoted as saying that "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Whether it's an actual Churchill quote or not, I'm not certain. I am certain, however, that it's an apt description of the Associated Press. They are, and have been, obsessed with the Bush administration's war on terrorism, and have repeatedly gone out of their way to drag in unrelated items to use as clubs against the Bush administration. I tire of writing that "the AP is at it again," but the AP is at it again.
As has been widely reported by NewsBusters, the media have been actively misrepresenting the burgeoning Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal as being exclusively a Republican problem. Today, Jim Abrams of the Associated Press logged a report dealing with House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) assertions Thursday that Republicans have created "one of the most closed, corrupt congresses in history." Yet, in a ten-paragraph article, Abrams devoted six of them to Democratic ties to Abramoff, as well as Republican efforts to craft new legislation dealing with the problem.
Certainly, one has to get past the headline – “Pelosi Wants Probe of 'Corrupt Congress'” – as well as the sub-headline – “House Democratic Leader Pelosi Urges Investigation of Republicans Linked to Lobbyist Abramoff” – and the lede – “House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Republicans had created 'one of the most closed, corrupt congresses in history' and urged the House ethics committee to investigate GOP lawmakers linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff " – to find the balance. Yet, once there, the reader is treated to a side of this story that few in the mainstream media dare to disseminate:
The AP’s Jennifer Loven used President Bush’s trip to the Gulf Coast region to throw in some not so subtle digs at the Commander in Chief.
Loven started the piece by pointing out the President’s “three-month absence from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.” After Katrina, President Bush was criticized for not visiting the disaster area fast enough. Then the President was criticized for visiting the area too much and going to the Gulf Coast region just for photo-ops. The President should coordinate a timetable for disaster area visits with the media so the spacing is more appropriate.
This morning's AP article on the Alito hearings from yesterday is actually fairly straight, at least by the Associated Press' normal standards. But there are still examples of typical AP anti-conservative bias.
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito said Tuesday he would deal with the issue of abortion with an open mind as a justice, though he defended his 1991 judicial vote saying women seeking abortions must notify their husbands.
In the first place, the construction of that sentence clearly implies that he won't deal with the issue with an open mind. Basically what they've written is Alito "said" he'd do this, but he defended the time when he did that. Secondly, they've have, yet again, misconstrued what happened in 1991. This is not the first time. He did not say that "women seeking abortions must notify their husbands." The state of Pennsylvania did. All he said was that, according to the Supreme Court's precedents on the issue, the state was constitutionally allowed to do so.
Alito pledged in 1990 that he would recuse himself from cases involving the Vanguard companies. Some Alito opponents say his participation in a 2002 Vanguard case raises doubts about his fitness for the Supreme Court. Alito holds six-figure investments with Vanguard. "If I had to do it over again there are things that I would do differently," said Alito, although he also said he did nothing wrong.
As do all of the legal ethicists who have been asked about it. It was interesting to watch Senator Hatch walk him through the issue, as the completely answered the question about what had happened, how he'd taken the case without recusal, and what happened later (he urged the court to vacate the opinion, and have the case re-heard by a new panel. This was done, with the same unanimous result.) He also instituted new procedures in his office to prevent the situation from arising again. "Some...opponents" may think the case raises doubts, but an unbiased reading of the situation suggests, as the AP does not, that those opponents oppose Alito for other reasons and are raising this non-issue in a purely political attempt to defeat the nomination.
He defended his 2004 dissent in which he supported the strip search of a 10-year-old girl, explaining that his interpretation was based on "common sense" that a warrant included searches of anyone on the premises of a drug suspect.
"Supported" is loaded language. It makes it sound as if he were standing there watching the search with pom-poms. He didn't "support" the search, he merely determined that a police officer could reasonably have taken the search warrant to allow that search. That doesn't sound nearly so sinister, though, does it?
Call me overly suspicious, but the story of 16-year-old Farris Hassan traveling to Iraq on a whim strikes me as unbelievable. The Florida teen of Iraqi descent was all over the news in December when he apparently took off without telling his family and headed to Iraq to see what all the fuss was about. Hassan was able to finance his plane ticket to Kuwait with money he earned trading stocks on the Internet.
All the media coverage portrayed Hassan as a naïve young man who simply wanted to, in his own words, "experience…the same hardships ordinary Iraqis experience everyday." In an essay written by Hassan and e-mailed to his teacher from Kuwait, he seemed to have pro-American views and he spoke passionately about the need to defeat the terrorists in Iraq. He was also interested in a career in journalism and after taking a course in "immersion journalism," he made the decision to go to Iraq. In the process, he found himself smack dab in the middle of a war zone.
The Associated Press reported that American singer Harry Belafonte, as part of a delegation visiting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez that included actor Danny Glover and Princeton University scholar Cornel West, publicly stated that President Bush is “the greatest terrorist in the world.”
“‘No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people … support your revolution,’ Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.”
Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press is one of AP's regular reporters covering Mr. Bush and The White House.
She also has an obvious conflict of interest, as her husband, Roger Ballentine, was a senior adviser to John Kerry on energy and environmental issues during the 2004 presidential campaign. Ballentine is currently president of Green Strategies, Inc., an environmental consulting and government relations (read: lobbying) firm. He also continues to be actively involved in the politics of energy and the environment, as this appearance at a renewable energy conference in December 2004 and the promotion for his October appearance on "E&E TV" show.
It has apparently never occurred to AP that her husband's point of view could affect the objectivity of Ms. Loven's reporting, though, as this post at Powerline supplied by me back in September 2004 shows, she went so far as to ridicule a 2002-2003 Bush Administration environmental initiative in one of her "objective" reports using language that parroted her husband's environmental advocacy statements.
Whether it's Iraq, the Joe Wilson charade (a report that led Powerline to call her a "Democrat Operative"), or the economy, Ms. Loven's reports on day-to-day happenings in the administration have been consistently negative and sometimes even hostile. In early December (go to end of post), Ms. Loven just had to respond to the report of 215,000 new jobs created in October by reminding us (as if it was relevant to the report) that Mr. Bush was " faced with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency." All in all, she may be as close to "Exhibit A" as exists as to why we can no longer trust The Associated Press to do the job it was designed to do: give us the news, straight up -- so spin, no shading.
Today (Saturday) there are stories in numerous papers based on an AP-Ipsos poll just released. Typical of the lot is an article in the New York Post, whose lede and third paragraphs are here:
Dissatisfied with the nation's direction, Americans are leaning toward wanting a change in which political party leads Congress - preferring that Democrats take control, an AP-Ipsos poll found. Democrats are favored over Republicans 49 percent to 36 percent.
President Bush's job approval remains low - 40 percent in the AP-Ipsos poll, with only one-third saying the country is headed in the right direction. Bush also remains low on his handling of Iraq, where violence against Iraqis and U.S. troops has been surging.
This and other results in this poll would be bad to very bad news for the Bush Administration, if the poll were statistically accurate. It is not. The poll is stacked in most of its demographics to favor pro-Democrat results.
In yet another sly attempt at bolstering Democratic hopes in glum times, the ever-dependable Will Lester and David Espo tell us that, “In an ominous election-year sign for Republicans, Americans are leaning sharply toward giving Democrats control of Congress, an AP-Ipsos poll finds.”
In a mere three opening paragraphs they manage snide allusions to President Bush’s forty percent job approval rating, a surge in violence in Iraq and the Jack Abramoff trial. They caution that, “Republican strategists fear that fallout from the Abramoff scandal will give Democrats fresh opportunity for gains.”
The Associated Press was eager to publish the ties between Jack Abramoff, Tyco International and the Republican Party. According to the AP, Tyco is "Company A" in court documents describing the case against Abramoff.
In the article, Sharon Theimer wrote about Tyco's relationship with several other lobbying firms, including that of former Senator Majority Leader Bob Dole. She also cited Tyco attorney Timothy E. Flanigan's relationship to Abramoff, reminding readers that Flanigan withdrew his nomination to be President Bush's deputy attorney general in October. As usual, both Tom Delay and Bob Ney were listed as being investigated for their ties with Abramoff.
The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger has been on the opposite of a roll:
Just before Christmas, he appeared to be lowballing the consensus estimate of 4th Quarter 2005 GDP growth by describing it as "around 3 percent," when a broad-based Bloomberg survey of economists indicated a consensus forecast of 3.3%.
Second, he pooh-poohed November's Construction Spending report released two days ago by giving full credit for the increase to a record level to Government Sector spending, which offset decline in "home building." The reality was that Nonresidential spending in the Private Sector deserved the largest portion of the credit, and that the residential spending decline, which occurred in the Government Sector, was most likely related to apartments, assisted-living quarters and other non-owned properties.
Today, he sought to discount the good news about initial job claims, and hearkened back to the previous economic expansion with an incorrect reference.
The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger used today's release by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau of November's Construction Spending Report as an opportunity to take an unsupported swipe at the housing market, and to give government spending full credit for the favorable news.
Here are the topline seasonally adjusted numbers (4-page PDF) released today (in billions; listed in order of November, October and the net change; figures may not add up due to rounding):
Total Construction -- $1,146.4, $1,144.2, +$2.2
By Sector: Residential $648.4, $648.9, -$0.5 Nonresidential $498.0, $495.3, +$2.7
Public and Private: Public $253.9, $253.2, +$0.7 Private $892.4, $891.0, +$1.4
Who needs a publicist to promote your book when the AP will do it for free? The AP is shilling for James Risen's new book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. In an article titled, "CIA Ignored Info Iraq Had no WMD", posted on yahoo.com, the AP states that the book "describes secret operations of the Bush Administration's war on terror". The articles cites an instance of the CIA sending an Iraqi-American MD to Iraq to talk to her brother about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs. Despite reports of a nuclear weapons program that ended years before, the article reports "In October 2002, a month after the doctor's trip to Baghdad, the U.S intelligence community issued a National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program". According to the article, "New York Times reporter James Risen uses the anecdote to illustrate how the CIA ignored information that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction.
Sometimes a story comes along that may look to be something particular, but then turns out not to be. The story written by Associated Press (AP) journalist Patrick Condon titled: "Sign Tallying Iraq Casualties Causes Stir" is just such a story.
Condon seeks to portray Vietnam veteran Scott Cameron as anything but an anti-war, politically motivated Democrat, who just so happens to have his "modest memorial" to U.S. forces posted in the Campaign office of Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Steve Kelley. Kelley's office just also happens to be next door to the Army's military recruiters office.
Signaling the slow-as-a-glacier news pace right now, the big AP story of the morning is "Core of White House Staff Largely Intact." And they're trying to tell us planes landing safely is not news, but this is? Reporter Jennifer Loven projects: "The big question is how much longer Bush's inner circle can hold together."
Of course, there is room eventually for liberal spin, the old Newsweek bubble-boy spin: "And the lack of change has contributed to criticism of Bush as governing from inside a bubble that isolates him from smart dissent, healthy competition, fresh ideas and bad news. 'If people stay that long, group-think can set in, and that's dangerous for a president,' [David] Gergen said."
Associated Press education writer Ben Feller tackles the question of how Bill Clinton's impeachment is being handled in high school textbooks. The quick answer: with quite a bit of euphemism and some sad editorializing.
Middle school texts describe it as "a personal relationship between the president and a White House intern." In high school books, it is Clinton's "improper relationship with a young White House intern," or Clinton "denied having sexual relations" with an intern. Students don't need the bawdy details to grasp the impeachment struggle, said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian and professor at American University.
The Associated Press is very good at what it does. It's just a shame that straight news reporting isn't it.
They've run a piece this morning (Lawmakers Hasten to Return Abramoff Gifts) dealing with lobbyist and equal-opportunity crook Jack Abramoff. Regular AP readers will remember that when Abramoff was indicted back in August the AP story mentioned one congressman by name, Republican Tom Delay, and they mentioned him 5 times. Despite the fact that Abramoff has given money to many congresspeople of both party, the Republican Delay got mentioned, and no one else.
Well, they're at it again. (H/T to Michelle Malkin). Today's AP story makes it seem, again, as if Abramoff gave, or steered, contributions to Republicans, and to Republicans alone. They start with a quote from the President:
This week, President Bush said it seemed to him that Abramoff "was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties."
On December 7, The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger reported on a rise in factory orders and productivity growth, and quoted an expert who predicted good times ahead:
"The momentum of growth has been very strong," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. "This suggests that growth in the fourth quarter of this year and early next year will remain robust."
Two weeks later, on December 21 at 8:37 AM ET, in a report on the slight downward revision of third-quarter GDP growth from 4.3% to 4.1%, Crutsinger wrote the following, apparently for consumption by the general population, based on where it appeared (bold is mine):
Two old and typically biased news organizations have combined on an unctuous double-teaming against the Bush Administration. The Washington Post and the Associated Press have taken a story based on innuendo and un-named sources and made it front-page news. What a surprise.
The Post ran its story, “Spy Court Judge Quits In Protest” with the subtitle, “Jurist Concerned Bush Order Tainted Work of Secret Panel.” In it, the Post makes the claim that a judge who sits on the FISA court, resigned “in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program according to two sources.”
Almost immediately into the story titled "Mexico Retaliates for Border Wall Plan," written by Associated Press staff writer Mark Stevenson, it easy to see where the AP's sympathies lie, and that is squarely with law-breaking illegal aliens, or what the AP calls "migrants" or "migrant workers."
The piece is an out and out condemnation of the House of Representatives recent bill that passed just last week that will employ tough new immigration deterrents, among them a 700-mile security fence, and an end to the 50,000 per-year diversity visa lottery.
There were only two subjects that concerned the media during President Bush’s December 19th news conference: Bad news on Iraq and domestic spying. Problems in Iraq accounted for six questions, while there were seven on domestic spying. (Note: Questions were counted based on their topic. Follow-ups on the same subject were not counted as separate questions.)
The assembled members of the press seemed relatively uninterested in the successful Iraqi elections. In fact, there were no questions specifically about the elections or about the improving economy.
The folks over at The New York Times must be laughing their heads off. With the President’s poll numbers on the rise, a fabulous election result in Iraq, and the potential extension of a key antiterrorism bill that the administration holds dear, the Times stole Christmas from the White House last week with the release of one carefully-timed article.
After some pretty horrible months in September and October, President Bush has been fighting his way back up from a virtual poll abyss. The economy—regardless of left-wing protestations to the contrary—has been humming. Energy prices—regardless of, well, you get the point—have been plummeting. And, the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the past two elections in Iraq, were giving signs that they would participate in Thursday’s elections in very large, enthusiastic numbers.
All the President needed to make this holiday season a truly joyous one was a relatively safe, incident-free day at the Iraqi polls Thursday, and the Patriot Act to be extended before Congress adjourned for the year on Friday.
The Grinch…err., I mean, the Times had something else in mind.
As NewsBusters’ Clay Waters reported, a National Security Agency surveillance program, codenamed “Echelon,” – apparently similar to what the NSA is doing today to counter terrorist activities that has garnered tremendous media outrage in the past four days – existed some years ago. In fact, according to a February 27, 2000 Associated Press article, the ACLU had been expressing its concern regarding this program for quite some time:
“Nevertheless, the American Civil Liberties Union has been requesting congressional hearings on Echelon for nearly a year. In a letter sent to the House Government Reform Committee in April 1999, the ACLU said: ''It is important that Congress investigate to determine if the Echelon program is as sweeping and intrusive as has been reported.''
This AP article also referenced a letter that the NSA had sent to Congress concerning the upcoming “60 Minutes” story:
As reported by the MRC’s Brent Baker, the media are in full dudgeon over new revelations of a secret eavesdropping, antiterrorism strategy by the White House. However, there are some key elements of this story that the president just discussed in his weekly radio address as reported by the Associated Press that The New York Times and others either neglected to share with the public, or downplayed in their reports:
“Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used ‘consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution.’ He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have ‘a clear link’ to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.”
In a post-9/11 world, this does seem to be a reasonable strategy to avert further terrorist attacks. Wouldn’t most Americans wish that the 9/11 hijackers all had their “international communications” intercepted regardless of the existence of a court order to do so?
Hurricane Katrina is apparently still killing people. OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto reports:
Back in September we
noted that some twisted souls on the Angry Left were hoping for an
enormous death toll from Hurricane Katrina, because they thought that would
hurt President Bush politically and diminish the 9/11 attacks and the threat
of terrorism more generally. The actual death toll turned out to be in the low
four figures--a terrible tragedy to normal people, but a disappointment for
the aforementioned lefto sickos.
A story in the Associated Press, however, suggests that some people want to
inflate the Katrina death toll. "Even as the official toll continues to
rise when more bodies are found in once-flooded homes, the real total may never
be known," the AP says. "The victims are scattered far and wide, and
the connections of their deaths to the storm are not necessarily obvious."
Examples include "13-month-old Destiny McNeese, who rolled onto her stomach
and suffocated on an air mattress after her family fled from Kentwood [La.]