Managing Editor's Note: What follows is an open letter from NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell to Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli about the controversial [now defunct] e-mail listserv JournoList, founded and operated by the Post's Ezra Klein.
The JournoList scandal is getting worse every day and The Washington Post is at the center of it. Blogger Ezra Klein ran the operation and at least three other staffers were members. (Blogger Greg Sargent claims he wasn't a member after he joined the Post.) In addition, at least one member of Slate and two from Newsweek, also owned by Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, were members.
The almost constant revelations of political activism and journalistic conspiracy raise an enormous number of questions about Post policies, professionalism and ethics. As a conservative, and therefore a member of the movement JournoListers sought to demonize, I feel Post readers are owed full disclosure.
Any understanding of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes clear this list and the Post's involvement violate a number of ethical guidelines. In fact, much of the code seems to have been ignored. Here are just a few examples from the code.
Editor's Note: For the list of NewsBusters T-shirt contest winners, skip to the end of this post.
As we approach our 5th anniversary at NewsBusters, our celebration would not be complete without a recap of our best posts. It was a tough call, but we came up with the top 25, broken down evenly into five categories of five each.
We call it our Five-for-Five.
Each Friday through August 13 we'll publish a Five-for-Five list.We've saved the very best for last: On Monday, August 16, we'll publish the Top Five Outrageous Outbursts.
But we start today with a much lighter note. The first category for Five-for-Five is The Top Five Media Flubs Caught by NewsBusters.(Also check out a short video-cast with NewsBusters bloggers talking about how they caught the flubs.)
Appearing on the Fox News Channel "Hannity" program last night, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell tackled the media's bewilderment that Obama's legislative successes aren't translating into healthy job approval numbers ahead of the upcoming November midterm congressional election.
"Yes, [President Obama is] getting his legislative agenda accomplished, the problem is, this is a socialist legislative agenda the American people didn't bank on, and the more they see it, the less they like it," the Media Research Center founder and president argued in a recurring segment devoted to media bias entitled "Media Mash."
Also discussed on the July 22 program, "Good Morning America" host and former Bill Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos downplayed terrorist threats against the United States, insisting that "if you set aside the Fort Hood bombing in Texas and the failed Christmas bomber, there has not been a major attack that has been anything close to successful on American soil."
How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?
Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.
Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:
Managing Editor's Note: NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell today reprimanded members of the press in light of the recently exposed e-mails from the now-defunct JournoList that show a blatant, deliberate campaign to smear conservatives. That statement is published below. Click here for more background on JournoList.
The revelation of these e-mails simply proves that we have been right all along. The liberal media have no interest in being fair or unbiased. In fact, they are deliberately violating any sense of journalistic ethics.
There is no excuse – none- for the attitudes and lack of professionalism these so-called journalists displayed not only in these e-mails but in their reporting. Any member of the media that was privy to these Journolist emails, and remained silent, is just as much to blame as the folks that crafted these e-mails. Their silence indicts them.
We said in 2008 that the media were making excuses for Jeremiah Wright and now we have the proof. Just today we learned from the Daily Caller that these people went so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh ‘deserves’ their hate. Sadly, I am not surprised, as this is what we have been exposing year after year about the media. And it’s exactly why Americans refuse to trust them.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
So much for the idea that NPR is an oasis of civil discourse in a desert of vituperation. Spitz is a producer for trendy-hot NPR station KCRW and its nationally distributed talk show Left Right & Center (which could be called Three Leftists and Tony Blankley). But Spitz has also done stories for NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered.
The Daily Caller has another scoop on the leftist JournoList e-mails today, recalling when liberal scribes all wanted the Jeremiah Wright story to be dead and buried in the spring of 2008. Jonathan Strong explained "Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage."
Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”...The tough questioning from ABC left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
While liberals like Randi Rhodes are nastily comparing Rush Limbaugh to Rev. Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” infamy, as if Rush would picket a military funeral, the liberal media are standing side by side with Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in a demonstration of First Amendment fundamentalism. They've filed a “friend of the court” brief in favor of the right to infuriate families of the fallen with those vicious funeral protests.
The list includes the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the E.W. Scripps Company, the Hearst Corporation, NPR, The New York Times, and the Tribune Company (parent of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times). Jeff Schogol of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported these companies joined other free-press advocates in supporting these hateful incitements:
ARLINGTON, Va. — Twenty-two media organizations have sided with a radical church against the father of a fallen Marine who is trying to sue it for picketing his son’s funeral.
The media organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Wednesday with the Supreme Court in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests near servicemembers’ funerals because it believes that troops’ deaths and other national tragedies are divine revenge for America’s tolerance of gays and lesbians.
"I've been scratching my head over this for the past year," Washington Post media commentator Howard Kurtz wrote Friday morning. "Does President Obama get credit for the things he does right?" Here are a couple of more pertinent questions over which to scratchy your head: does Obama do things right, and how do we measure his success?
The questions need to be posed, since Kurtz and scores of other prominent reporters seem to be taking it as a given that success should be measured in political terms, and therefore that Obama has succeeded tremendously. This attitude -- a product of an insulated and academic media universe -- renders all real world consequences of legislative victories irrelevant for the purpose of judging the president's record.
"With Thursday's Senate vote to approve sweeping new regulation of the banking industry," states Kurtz without providing a single corroborating fact, "the president has now delivered on his promise to clean up the Wall Street practices that nearly imploded the economy."
Tucker Carlson is now the proud owner of a slightly used Keith Olbermann.
With a large-print headline announcing "We own you" and a picture of ol' Keith looking bemused whilst he adjusts he glasses, The Daily Caller promoted their newest acquisition: http://keitholbermann.com/.
It's just the latest shot across the bow in the escalating feud between Olbermann and Carlson, which will one day be featured on a Cracked.com list of the top eight inconsequential personal feuds the media chose to cover instead of events that were actually newsworthy.
Most networks skipped over the story of their own corporate advocacy of broadcast profanity last night when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals shredded the FCC’s broadcast decency regulation. (All the major broadcast networks signed on, with Fox in the lead). NBC’s Brian Williams offered 94 words, but erred in claiming "When a curse word has slipped out in the past, the FCC has imposed heavy fines on networks." There were no fines for NBC when Bono said "f—ing brilliant" at the 2004 Golden Globes, nor were their fines for Fox when Cher and Nicole Richie for profanity at (respectively) the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards.
ABC and CBS aired nothing. Fox News had no story in the transcripts offered to Nexis for searching. Fox’s corporate brethren at The Wall Street Journal had a story, but reporters Amy Schatz and Jess Bravin wrote a 727-word article with absolutely zero space for critics of the judges’ decision (including the Brent Bozell-founded Parents Television Council).
The story did make explicit that Fox "led the case against the FCC and that "Fox is a division of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal."
Other newspapers offered small scraps for anti-profanity groups. The Washington Post’s front-page story by Cecelia Kang offered 50 words out of 771, in paragraph eight:
The confluence between the Obama administration and the journalists who cover it can leave news consumers wondering if they're getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Two prominent media personalities -- liberal Fox News Channel commentator Bob Beckel and media mogul Mort Zuckerman, owner of the New York Daily News -- have recently let slip that they have worked closely with the Obama administration. Neither disclose this fact with regularity. Indeed, their recent admissions were revelatory.
Zuckerman, a self-described Obama supporter, has written at least one speech for the President. Beckel, who worked with David Axelrod during the campaign, is now an adviser in some capacity to the White House.
The timing of today’s announcement from the Swiss that fugitive director Roman Polanski will not face extradition to the United States coming just a couple days after we all witnessed Hollywood’s reaction to the audio tape of Mel Gibson’s raging, racist rant is fitting. What an interesting opportunity for a side-by-side look at Leftist Hollywood’s values.
It’s unlikely that anyone who’s considered a serious part of the Hollywood community will openly work with Mel Gibson again for a long, long time — if ever. WME, his agency, announced they had dropped him as a client within minutes of the release of the recording, and courtesy of the L.A. Times, the warning has already gone out making clear that anyone foolish enough to work with Gibson again will pay a heavy price:
There’s little chance he’ll land at another agency anytime soon — signing would bring down a horrible avalanche of bad PR to any agency that got within smelling distance and, more to the craven point, any agent that signs him has little hope of booking him any roles anyway since there isn’t a studio in town that will hire Gibson.
So toxic is the “Braveheart” director that the L.A. Times also “suggested” that now would be a “good time” for Tinseltowners to loudly and proudly condemn the former superstar, and a special point was made to single out his longtime friend Jodie Foster (who just finished directing a film that stars Gibson):
"You would think that if you are NASA, your mandate is return us to the moon, take us to Mars.... No, according to the President of the United States, the mandate of NASA is to make Muslim people feel better about themselves," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell quipped this morning on "Fox & Friends."
The Media Research Center founder was referring to the under-reported story of how NASA administrator Charles Bolden told Arab news network al-Jazeera in an interview that President Obama had tasked him with outreach to the Muslim world to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."
"We have to hitch a ride with the Russians if we want to go to outer space, but the mandate of NASA is to make Muslims feel better about themselves. You figure that one out," Bozell complained, adding, "You'd think that might be a news story."
Deadline Hollywood Daily's Editor-In-Chief Nikki Finke has declared a Red State Alert over the news that documentary filmmaker and Oscar-winner Michael Moore has just been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors. She writes, Hollywood-hating conservatives are going to have a field day with this (And predictably the L.A. Times' Patrick Goldstein knee-jerks with this: You could hear the outcry in conservative quarters from a million miles away.)
If for no other reason than she saves me from having to spend money on a "Variety" subscription, I love Nikki, but this conservative has no problem whatsoever with Michael Moore being elected to the Academy's prestigious Board of Governors, because this conservative believes Michael Moore has earned it.
Yes, Michael Moore is a liar, a shameless propagandist and an anti-American leftist of the highest order. But he's also one helluva talented filmmaker and it would be wildly hypocritical for me to believe or argue that anyone should be blacklisted from AMPAS due to their political beliefs. And that's the only reason I could possibly use to argue against this appointment.
Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):
Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied.
Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:
NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement.
Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:
Editor's Note: What follows is a statement NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell released earlier this evening upon learning that CNN had fired its senior editor of Mideast affairs Octavia Nasr, who had expressed via her Twitter account sadness at the death of a Hezbollah terrorist leader whom she "respect[ed] a lot."
CNN has finally taken a step in the right direction in removing a terrorist sympathizer from their ranks. It’s a shame it took this amount of publicity and attention from organizations like the MRC to get the job done, as Octavia Nasr should never have been granted the position of authority to begin with. Unfortunately, CNN will have to deal with the consequences of how this affects their integrity and a growing public distrust of how they cover Islamic terrorism, but they took the right step in firing her.
In part two of her interview with TVNewser editor Kevin Allocca on MediaBistro.com's Media Beat, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer discussed a incident last year in which she mistakenly introduced Reverend Jess Jackson as Al Sharpton: "...those things make me crazy.... I really hate that something like that can paint your whole career."
Brewer specifically called out blogs for reporting the gaffe: "...when I was younger in my career, if I had made a mistake like that, there were no blogs to keep it perpetuity." Allocca replied: "Are you looking at me? I do have a blog that keeps things in perpetuity." Brewer responded: "Whether you do or not, there will be someone else to pick up that slack, so I won't hold it against you in particular." The TVNewser blog did indeed report the incident on October 21, 2009, as did NewsBusters.
Brewer explained: "...the best thing I can do at the point is just to apologize and the Reverend has been very gracious and accepted my apology." She then added how the gaffe "turned into a great opportunity to develop a relationship with someone that I admire," referring to a subsequent meeting with Jackson.
In an interview on MediaBistro.com's 'Media Beat,' MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer told TVNewser editor Kevin Allocca about the cable network's high standards in its audition process: "...it's got to be like the Marine Corps obstacle course in order to land this job." She later complained about "difficult" guests: "When someone comes on with an agenda and their agenda is to take you down."
Allocca asked Brewer about some her toughest interviews. She responded by describing certain guests who "come on and they are prepared to be challenging and to be difficult." Two examples came to her mind, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Republican Senator Judd Gregg.
In recalling a January interview with Gregg, Brewer whined about how "it was a difficult interview to conduct." In reality, Gregg simply pointed out Brewer's liberal bias on the issue of government spending, after she equated Republican calls for less spending with cutting off funding for schools. Gregg pointed out that she was "being fundamentally dishonest" in her reporting.
During the Media Beat interview, she said of guests like Gregg: "...when you have guests on who are difficult or if they're – if they're sticking they're heels in the ground and they're really – you just end it, you move on."
The Twitter "Fail Whale": An irritating part of anyone's day that regularly uses social networking in their day-to-day activities. But could this endanger the viability of Twitter as long-term business?
A couple of analysts say think so. Both CNET.com senior editor Natali Del Conte and Herb Greenburg of CNBC Business News suggested Twitter's infrastructure problems could pose issues for Twitter's survival on CNBC's July 2 "Power Lunch."
"Twitter's down all the time," Greenburg said. "I love using Twitter. I will say it here and now - if Twitter were a business, it would be broke. Wait! Twitter is a business, but it's a private business. Maybe it's the type of business that should go public in this environment because those are the kind of companies that go public.
Below is a photo of CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric and CNN's Wolf Blitzer hanging out with President Bill Clinton at the World Cup last Saturday. Couric posted a link to the photo from her Twitter account, where she noted that "Clinton's people invited [her] to [the U.S. vs. Ghana] game last minute."
Couric's original caption reads, "One more photo from Saturday at the World Cup..."
The big three nightly news broadcasts, NBC Nightly, CBS Evening and ABC World, lost a combined one million viewers in the second quarter of 2010, according to TVNewser.
These numbers are comparable to the first quarter, which saw Evening News and World News get their lowest average viewers ever, while NBC's Winter Olympics coverage helped it get their highest average viewers since 2005. In the second quarter, NBC lost 440,000 viewers, ABC 260,000 and CBS 340,000. It was about this time last year that ABC and CBS' news programs had their lowest ratings ever.
These numbers are not at all surprising in light of the public's continued distrust of the old media. As Newsbusters' Rich Noyes wrote of a Rasmussen poll released earlier this month, "Perhaps as a result, the poll finds an astonishing two-thirds of the public (66 percent) say they are angry with the media, ‘including 33 percent who are very angry' with the press."
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blogger.
Millions of bloggers, actually. And they are taking back freedom of the press from journalists unwilling and unable to use it in a fair and responsible manner.
A few weeks ago, we saw Helen Thomas confess her nutty anti-Semitism because a blogger caught her in an unusually candid moment. We found out what many have long suspected: that she's a disgusting bigot.
Then there was the Gen. McChrystal controversy as our top general in Afghanistan reportedly criticized the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter. Blogger critics argued "The Runaway General" showed the journalistic beat system prevents warts-and-all portrayals such as this one. Reporters are often too cozy with sources to make them look bad. Adding to that ethical issue, The Washington Post followed with a story saying the reporter in this case might have violated rules about what would be off the record. Rolling Stone denied it of course.
But nothing got more press than the seemingly simple resignation of self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel. Weigel was hired by the Post three months ago and continued his previous anti-conservative efforts with an attack on those "anti-gay marriage bigots" and making a joke about Matt Drudge "diddling" an 8-year-old boy. He was forced to apologize but remarkably kept his job.
"Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you," King said. "Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast ever of ‘Larry King Live.' And now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I'd like to end ‘Larry King Live,' the nightly show that -- this fall and CNN has graciously accepted to agree to, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games."
Since I've been accused of leading "something of a crusade" against former Post blogger Dave Weigel, how could I resist this announcement? Weigel, who left the Post amidst a controversy where he bashed tons of conservatives, has joined the leftwing convention at MSNBC (video right).
According to a Tweet from "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, Weigel has come on board as a contributor. "And confirming, @DaveWeigel is now MSNBC contributor @DaveWeigel Welcome aboard and my condolences, uh, congratulations!" wrote Olbermann.
Now Weigel has joined the team of Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. This from the guy who just today told the world of his wonderful career saga that started out as editor of a campus conservative paper at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. "Was I really that conservative? Yes," he wrote, somehow expecting readers to believe him. While he admitted some of his troubles came from "hubris," much of what he wrote most already knew, that he was no friend to the right. "At Reason, I'd become a little less favorable to Republicans, and I'd never been shy about the fact that I was pro-gay marriage and pro-open borders."
Throw in Weigel's parade of assault on conservatives, prominent figures on the right from Rush Limbaugh to Matt Drudge and Newt Gingrich and the bigger question becomes, does he agree with the right on anything? The answer is: it doesn't matter anymore. He's gone from an organization fighting to keep its credibility to one fighting to lose what little it has.
"The media, for like five seconds, those with thrill up and down their legs, they were a little critical of the Anointed One and what was one of the worst speeches in the Oval Office... but as soon as he fired McChrystal and hired Petraeus, they went nuts," Sean Hannity observed last night at the beginning of his recurring "Media Mash" segment with NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell.
The Fox News host then rolled a montage compiled by Media Research Center (MRC) analyst Kyle Drennen which showed the mainstream media hailing Obama as "brilliant" for the personnel move.
After the montage, Bozell noted that the same media that proclaimed Obama sacking McChrystal as "brilliant" were claiming that the president really had no choice but to fire the Afghanistan commander. "If he had no choice, then it really wasn't really altogether all that brilliant," the MRC president observed.
Bozell and Hannity also discussed the media's double standard in bashing BP CEO Tony Hayward -- who had been relieved of duty for overseeing the cleanup operation -- for yachting over the weekend, while ignoring President Obama's weekend golfing excursion and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski admitting she was parroting White House talking points to defend the administration's handling of the ongoing crisis.
UPDATE - 6/25, 2:20 PM | Lachlan Markay :Weigel resigned Friday after the Daily Caller published a number of additional emails that put these to shame. Details here.
Many conservatives, including a number of NewsBusters contributors, have been skeptical of Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel since he was hired in March to cover the right. Time and again, those concerns have been vindicated as Weigel has ridiculed a number of conservatives and conservative positions.
It seems that the Washington Post has little interest in an objective blog-based approach to the news -- something this humble blogger has noted previously. Likewise, Weigel seems to have little interest in covering the right with an even hand; he has consistently shown his disdain for the movement and its members.
The website Fishbowl DC today published a number of excerpts of emails from Weigel to an email list created by fellow Post blogger Ezra Klein ridiculing various conservatives. He says he hopes Matt Drudge will "set himself on fire" and dubbed Tea Party protesters "Paultard[s]," a crude reference to Ron Paul.
A new study found significantly more people trust tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft than they do traditional media.
Adding insult to injury, the relatively new social networking website Facebook is even more trusted than the media which 88 percent of respondents said they had little to no trust for.
As reported last week, "A Zogby Interactive survey of U.S. adults found that among Apple, Microsoft and Google, 49% had trust in each of these brands. Twitter and Facebook were rated much more poorly, with trust levels of 8% and 13% respectively."
And here's the marvelous punch line (h/t NBer pvoce):
CNN has announced that it will cease using all content from the Associated Press effective June 30, and from all appearances will take a run at becoming a credible wire service competitor.
Although it would be easy to dismiss this as the blind leaving the blind, this development seems like it has the potential to alter the news landscape and temper some of the worst excesses of press bias and ignorance.
Here are a few paragraphs from CNN's internal announcement, as carried at Media Bistro:
To: CNN Staff From: Jim Walton
We are taking an important next step in the content-ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments. Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services. We will no longer use AP materials or services. The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own.
MSNBC contributor Lawrence O'Donnell will take over at the 10 pm slot, the cable network announced Tuesday. O'Donnell, who guest-hosted "Countdown" while Keith Olbermann was on leave, is a self-described socialist, and will fit in nicely with the rest of MSNBC's prime-time lineup.
The 10 pm slot has up to this time been "Countdown" reruns, so MSNBC viewers will now be treated to a tad different far-left rant than Olbermann's 8 pm far-left rant.
That said, O'Donnell's segment will hardly be a breath of fresh air if his previous antics are any indication. He has a short, if colorful history of liberal outbursts. Let us review some of his greatest hits: