Editor's Note: The following was originally posted to Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood blog on June 24. Perhaps of greatest note to NewsBusters readers is Tapson's reporting on the pronouncements of Daily Beast contributor and UC Riverside professor Reza Aslan that "There is no such thing as Sharia."
While Iranian-American protesters packed streetcorners in Westwood last Saturday afternoon in support of the revolution currently playing out in the streets of Tehran, an historical drama about stoning in Iran got underway at the Los Angeles Film Festival mere blocks away.
For the few who don’t know by now, The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s bestselling book, which relates the true story of a woman in a remote Iranian village, in the years after the 1979 Khomeini revolution, who is falsely accused of adultery and stoned to death by a mob desperate to cleanse themselves of this affront to their collective honor and to their religion. It’s not only a gripping story in its own right, but it shines a harsh spotlight on the almost unimaginable reality that the barbaric punishment of stoning still exists in the Iranian law code, despite a largely nominal 2002 moratorium, the result of pressure from Western human rights groups.
(Full disclosure, even though I’m not reviewing the film here: I’m close friends with the filmmakers Cyrus and Betsy Nowrasteh, I provided Mpower Pictures with a bit of research on the project, I’m friends with other cast and crew and producers associated with the film, and I think stoning is bad. So don’t take my word for it when I say SorayaBig Hollywood’s John Nolte will be the most important, affecting film you’ll see all year. Instead seek out the multitude of reviewers who recommend the film, including and then see it for yourself.)
Following Saturday’s screening was a panel discussion, not so much moderated as simply hosted by Iranian novelist Khaled Hosseini, author of the bestselling The Kite Runner, who personally selected the film for the L.A. Film Festival. The panel also included Soraya’s writer-director Cyrus Nowrasteh, starring actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Dr. Reza Aslan, billed as an Islamic scholar.
As if the press hasn’t already been fawning over Obama enough, the White House resorted to coordinating a question with the Huffington Post at today’s press conference.
Against White House protocol, the communications department contacted Huffington Post blogger Nico Pitney and asked him to query Obama on the specific subject of Iran for the second question of the press conference.
The protesters admire our freedom, but they are appalled--and insulted--by our neocolonialist condescension over the past 50 years. The reformers, and even some conservatives, consider Ahmadinejad the George W. Bush of Iran--a crude, unsophisticated demagogue, who puts a strong Potemkin face to the world without very much knowledge of what the rest of the world is about. This was an anology [sic] that came up in interview after interview, with reformers and conservatives alike.
Klein doesn't explicitly reference the "axis of evil" remarks in then-President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address as an offense, although he quite probably has it in mind. Yet a review of the relevant passage from that speech shows Bush was dead-on and arguably eerily prophetic about the iron-fisted repression that the world is witness to presently on the streets of Tehran (portion in bold is my emphasis):
In today's "Truly Delicious Irony" segment, the Federal Trade Commission, just months after so-called journalists decided who should win a presidential primary and subsequent election, is going to begin going after bloggers who make false claims about products and/or don't fully disclose conflicts of interest.
Whenever Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore releases a new documentary the reaction in the press is typically jubilant. Rave reviews. Fawning interviews which rarely ask tough questions. Oscar buzz aplenty.
But this time could be different.
Moore’s last film, “Slacker Uprising,” didn’t go straight to DVD. It went straight to download. Now, Moore’s catching heat from Movieline.com, the online film magazine which routinely taunts conservative targets like Gov. Sarah Palin. The site’s new Moore-related post swats the filmmaker for a less than sharp attempt at marketing his upcoming film about the country’s economic collapse. The movie blogger sets up his critique here:
In the midst of his June 16 Swampland blog screed leveled against the "unhinged" Sen. John McCain for his criticism of President Obama's low-key response to the Iranian election, Time magazine's Joe Klein [shown in file photo at right] also worked in a comparison of hardliner Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's support base with former U.S. President George W. Bush's core supporters:
It is not even clear that Ahmadinejad--who has significant backing from the sort of people who support Republicans here (the elderly, the religious extremists) plus a real following among working-class Iranians--would have lost this election, if the votes had been counted fairly. (I tend to believe that they weren't counted at all, but that's just my opinion.)
Twelve days earlier, Klein more subtly made the Ahmadinejad/Bush connection in a comparison that favorably compared Iranian presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi to Bush's 2004 rival Sen. John Kerry (emphasis mine):
The Obama Administration's Justice Department threw a curve ball at the same-sex marriage movement last week, filing a 54 page-brief on Thursday in support of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
The Washington Times reported on June 16 that "Gay activists are fuming ... it represents a break in President Obama's campaign promise to repeal the 1996 legislation. The Justice brief upholding DOMA was filed in Smelt v. United States, a California lawsuit brought by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer asking the federal government to give them the same benefits as heterosexual couples. The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and other gay rights groups issued a statement that said they were ‘very surprised and deeply disappointed' in the filing, and they unflatteringly compared it to actions taken by the former Bush Administration."
This action dealt a heavy blow to "gay rights" activists and is in stark contrast to Obama's lofty campaign promises. Yet we have heard very little about it (even this report in the Washington Times was only a small item in the ‘Culture' section) and we have seen even less on the news. Why?
For all the bluster from the Left during the Bush administration about the doctrine of preemptive warfare, it seems at least one journalist favors the doctrine adapted for use within the U.S. justice system to prevent lone-wolf terroristic violence.
U.S. News & World Report contributor and PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe on June 11 sounded a decidedly authoritarian note in a Thomas Jefferson Street blog post in which she called for "rounding up" hatemongers like James von Brunn or Scott Roeder before they turn violent.
On June 9 a rally that saw thousands of participants in support of traditional marriage assembled at Albany, New York, the state capitol. One month earlier, a similar rally was held in Midtown Manhattan that also saw thousands in attendance. And in neither case was there much by the way of media coverage.
For once, Perez Hilton blogged something that everyone can agree with: “We are still in shock.” Hilton, a celebrity blogger and gay activist known for outlandish statements, is on the Emmy ballot after being nominated by Oxygen in the Best Host of a Reality Competition category for hosting the “The Bad Girls Club” season three reunion.
In truth, it’s easy to see why Hilton would excel hosting a show as trashy and frivolus as “The Bad Girls Club.” It’s a reality show in which seven self described “bad girls” live together in a mansion. Season three was described as taking, “bad behavior to the next level with a cast of young women who are independent, spirited, and endlessly entertaining.” After the final episode, all of the girls were brought back together for a reunion hosted by Hilton, which was basically a set up for the girls to attack each other with Hilton supposedly moderating.
It was wrong of Playboy to publish a top ten list of conservative women its writer Guy Cimbalo would like to "hate-f***" but, c'mon, we all know Michelle Malkin had it coming. That's the gist of PBS "To the Contrary" host and U.S. News contributing editor Bonnie Erbe's June 3 blog post, "Playboy Mix of Sex, Hate, and Politics Demeans Conservative Women" (emphasis mine):
Yesterday, I was contacted by the executive director of SmartGirlPolitics.org, a conservative women's website, to stand up for conservative women treated despicably by the media. Here I am, doing just that.... A couple of caveats are in order. First, I probably disagree politically with much of SmartGirlPolitics.org's agenda--I know I disagree completely with the group's position on abortion rights. But as a nonpartisan, I'm also a firm believer in supporting all members of my gender when attacked due to their gender. I am supporting these women herewith.
Dumenco is flabbergasted that Huffington won this award even though she "thinks journalists should work for free," a charge he makes because the HuffPo does not for the most part pay its bloggers for content. But I am flabbergasted because the Huffington Post is the farthest thing from responsible journalism there is. It is a left-wing advocacy site that invites anyone that agrees with the party line to contribute, sure, but it is not a site interested in actual journalistic integrity.
Don't get me wrong, I am not against sites like HuffPo, nor against advocacy, left-wing or otherwise. It absolutely has its place in the scheme of things. But Arianna Huffington has never been and is not now a person interested n traditional journalism. In fact, she isn't even a reliable advocate because over the decades she's been on every side of every issue! So an award for journalism to this woman is a farce worthy of a Saturday morning cartoon show. (Does that date me? Do they even HAVE Saturday morning cartoon shows anymore?)
"Has the non-negotiable stance and rhetoric against abortion rights strayed from the Scripture’s call to choose life and led to a grave disrespect for life even inside our houses of worship?"
So asks Chicago Tribune religion reporter/blogger Manya Brachear in a June 1 The Seeker blog post, headlined "Is abortion inevitable consequence of abortion debate?" It followed in the wake of the May 31 shooting of abortionist George Tiller. Tiller, an usher at Wichita's Reformation Lutheran Church, was shot during the Sunday service there.
"Has the quest to save lives robbed people of their humanity," Brachear asks in concluding her story. Nowhere in her article, however, did she look at the other side of the coin and wonder if the rhetoric of abortion rights activists leads inevitably to the moral legitimization of infanticide.
Fresh off the Daily Kos website is a posting entitled, A "Pro-Life" activist took the Life of a doctor who practices abortion today, which illogically takes two sentences to link the murderer to the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck (emphasis mine throughout).
A so-called Pro-Life activist took, cowardly, the life of doctor George Tiller, this sunday, while he was attending to a church service. I bet Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the other will praise the killer since "he only killed a liberullllllll" according to them
Grammatical issues aside (something that the Kos seemingly requires from their writers), the incredible leap from the death of George Tiller, to three leading conservative talk show hosts is shocking to people who make their home here on Earth. Four conservative talk show hosts actually, if you consider the phrase ‘and the other', which would presumably be referring to Michael Savage.
More stunning is that this posting was allowed to present the statement - "he only killed a liberullllllll" according to them - as if it is a quote drawn from one of their shows. I would challenge the author, LaurenMonica, or anyone at the Daily Kos to present an audio copy of any of these conservative talk show hosts in which they heap praise upon a killer because, "he only killed a liberullllllll". (On a side note, I also challenge them to present a college transcript which shows they were able to pass English Composition 101).
Of course, this isn't where it stops with the liberal blogs.
Rob Thomas, singer/songwriter and front man for the band Matchbox 20, has successfully proven an old adage: Don't keep quiet and let people think you're a fool. Open your mouth and remove all doubt. He has also shown us all that the American system of education is in pretty sorry shape. But, one thing is sure, Mr. Thomas "feels good" about himself, so he's got that whole self esteem thing down nicely. Sadly, he lacks some basis for the conceit.
In a Huffington Post entry from May 27, Thomas made to ingratiate himself with the cool, the hip, and the terminally liberal by tooting his I-love-me-the-gay horn. Most of his entry is banal, uninventive, and prosaic, but the part that most needs to be addressed is his horrible understanding of American history. Of course, his lack of historical understanding is also pretty commonplace for his ilk: those in the Hollyweird/entertainment field. Unfortunately, it is also common among far too many other Americans, ones not trying to sound perpetually hip because they loves them the gays.
With all the news aggregator style websites around-the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Stimulist, and True/Slant just to name a few-why does Tucker Carlson think he can have success with a new one?
It's true that none of the news aggregator sites have a conservative slant to them, so this site may attract a crowd of conservatives, but it will require a lot of work on Carlson's part, time that he may not have with his move to Fox News. Carlson told the Wall Street Journal, "One thing feeds the other. I wouldn't do something that wasn't too integrated into my life."
The site is going to emphasis constant updates and original reporting on aspects of Obama's administration that have been ignored by the press. "There just aren't enough people covering this administration and telling the people what's going on," Carlson said.
For those highly mistaken people who think the liberals are the ones who bring gentleness and compassion and reasonableness to the political debate, we always have the rebuttal. It’s called the Daily Kos. This Thursday "diary" recently made it to the top of the Kosmonauts’ recommended list, despite the fact that the writer needs his keyboard washed out with soap:
F*** you Dick Cheney! F*** your pompous condecension. F*** your straw men! F*** your mischaracterizations! F*** your sniveling attempts to keep you and your buddies asses out of federal (somewhat offensive movie quote removed, happy now?) prison! F*** your presumption that we are a bunch of cowering idiots looking for daddy to protect us from the big bad terrorists. Just F*** YOU!...
That’s just the beginning. There’s 23 F-bombs in all from the author, code named "XneeOCon." (I wouldn’t want my real name attached to this foam-flecked fit, either.) Below it is a poll asking if Cheney is an a-hole a f-ing a-hole, or pie. The "FA" option is winning as of Sunday morning, with more than 3,000 votes (and 94 percent of the total.)
In case one believes that this kind of radicalism is rare, here are some other recent Kos droppings to step around:
On May 20, ABC's Jake Tapper asked a few salient questions about coverage of an April 27 incident at the White House basketball court, a sort of event after the event that the White House press corps was barred from covering. Tapper wondered then why the president barred the press but it later became clear that Team Obama was creating its own little media report "complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking."
Tapper subtly warned that the president's penchant for controlling the message smacks of an Obama Ministry of Propaganda styled effort that excludes "actual reporters" from covering the White House and leaves the country with faux news that is free of any "uncomfortable questions" asked by probing journalists.
... Mrs. Obama's "Mom-in-Chief" image was created more by Obama image-makers David Axelrod et. al. to soften her into a first lady Americans could love. I think it is a sad state of affairs that Americans are more comfortable with a non-threatening first lady than with a career woman, but it is also a stereotype that screams to be abolished. Michelle Obama is just the person who could have done it, but she decided against it. Instead, she caved into advisors' demands.
The truth is, until that stereotype becomes history, all women will suffer less power and clout in the workplace.
Now that Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. has been named the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, some on the far-left are gunning for Alabama's junior senator. The battle is happening as President Barack Obama is on the verge of naming an appointee to the Supreme Court to fill void of Justice David Souter.Some of the left-wing points that suggest Sessions has racist tendencies were incorporated into a May 6 Politico story by John Bresnahan and Manu Raju.
"By elevating Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to their top spot on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans have selected their chief inquisitor for President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee: a Southern, white conservative man who has drawn fire for racially insensitive comments in the past," Bresnahan and Manu Raju wrote. "Democrats like how this is looking."
The story sets up Sessions to be on the defensive about race by spinning the senator's own history. According to the Politico story, Sessions had been accused of unfairly targeting black civil rights workers for election fraud charges as a federal prosecutor during a 1986 Senate hearing for a spot on the federal bench.
The line of liberal journalists waiting to give the GOP free advice on its future is longer than the queue for Jonas Brothers concert tickets and at least 100 times more petulant than the 'tweens lined up for same.
U.S. News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe, for example, has been on a tear in recent weeks. Whether it's hyping Meghan McCain as a fresh voice for the GOP or praising Bristol Palin as more mature than her mother, Erbe has done little to hide her disdain for social conservatives in the Republican Party that can actually form their arguments without coming off like a vapid valley girl whining about, like, creepy old guys like Karl Rove.
Well, in an April 30 Thomas Jefferson Street blog post Erbe urged GOP chairman Michael Steele to abort the Republican Party's coalition with religious conservatives:
There is a charge starting to make the rounds of the science and medical blogs that the Huffington Post is allowing its bloggers to claim they are "doctors" when some really aren't qualified to claim the title. Still others ply their legitimately earned title to discuss as authorities issues in fields other than those in which they trained. Some of these same "doctors" are offering health advice and assessment of scientific news when they really aren't qualified to discuss them in any way other than as opinionists. So, the questions become these: is the Huffington Post misrepresenting its posters as trained, accredited experts when they aren't? Is there any attempt by the HuffyPost staff to substantiate the claims made by its posters?
Case in point is the Huffington Post's wellness editor, "Dr." Patricia Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald claims to have a doctorate in "Homeopathic Medicine," as well as a Master's Degree in "Traditional Chinese Medicine." But what, exactly, is a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine? And why does Fitzgerald not say on her bio page from where these degrees were earned? Why is she so intentionally vague?
Dear religious pro-life Catholics, get over yourselves. Signed, Amy Sullivan.
Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but the Time magazine staffer practically expressed those sentiments in two April 30 Swampland blog posts wherein she suggests that even the pope wouldn't mind hanging out with Obama on stage at Notre Dame when he accepts his honorary doctorate later this month.
[Ed Henry's press conference] question is a misstatement of Obama's campaign pledge to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that "the first thing I'd do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." Of course, before Obama could sign the bill, Congress would have to first pass it. And he's never expressed the hope that Congress drop what it's doing and prioritize FOCA.
Less than an hour later, Sullivan sought to marginalize conservative Catholics who are disturbed by Notre Dame honoring the very pro-choice President Obama:
It's bound to be mostly lost in the mainstream media thanks to swine flu and the Obama 100 days hype, but Richard Phillips testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. In doing so, the captain of the MV Maersk Alabama called on lawmakers to open the way for at least some merchant sailors to be armed as part of a comprehensive anti-piracy policy that includes more military escorts.
The Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva has the story in an April 30 post in that paper's "The Swamp" blog. Silva reports that Phillips has a moderate stance on arming civilian crews -- he wants only the four most senior ranking officers aboard a given ship armed -- and that Phillips hopes for a greater U.S. Navy presence in escorting and protecting U.S. merchant vessels (emphases mine):
"First, I believe it is the responsibility of our government to protect the United States, including U.S.-flag vessels that are by definition an extension of the United States, their U.S. citizen crews, and our nation's worldwide commercial assets.
"So, it follows then that the most desirable and appropriate solution to piracy is for the United States government to provide protection, through military escorts and/or military detachments aboard U.S. vessels. That said, I am well aware that some will argue that there is a limit to any government's resources - even America's.
Say you're the editor of a major U.S. city's newspaper and that sources in the national security community have informed your reporters that waterboarding was a crucial tactic in making a terrorist detainee spill his guts with information that, when followed up by authorities, thwarted a planned terrorist attack on same major U.S. city.
You would probably run the story on the front page with a banner headline to that effect, but at the very least you'd make sure that fact was reported in your paper's coverage.
That is, of course, unless you're the ideologically leftward, politically correct editors at the Los Angeles Times. Patterico has details in an April 27 post at his blog:
"World News Saturday" anchor David Muir appeared on the Media Bistro's "Morning Media Menu" podcast on Friday and asserted that the fact that online journalists are now eligible to compete for a Pulitzer Prize might increase the professionalism of bloggers and could, in the future, "give [online reporting] more weight, more credence and people will know that what they're reading isn't simply one version of events or an opinion." One wonders if Muir is referring to such paragons of journalistic integrity as his ABC colleague Bill Weir, who on the January 20 "World News," marveled that "even the seagulls must have been awed" by the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Muir (see file photo above), who was talking to podcast hosts Steve Krakauer and Rebecca Fox, added that the possibility of being awarded such a prestigious journalistic prize could elevate online reporting to "be at the level of journalism that we know is being, you know, fact checked and, and, worthy, worthy of a Pulitzer in the end." On the April 4 "World News" Muir himself said of Obama's G-20 international summit, "...Other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama." Would that be an example of simply stating "one version of events?"
It's likely a tired story to many by now, nearly a week after the Miss USA pageant and the controversy that ensued over Miss USA runner-up, Miss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question from same-sex marriage activist and gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who was judging the event. However, it took CNN host and Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz to ask Hilton some of the pertinent questions surrounding his curious rage over her answer.
Hilton appeared on CNN's April 26 "Reliable Sources" and justified some of his vitriolic insults hurled at Prejean by saying that was just part of the vernacular he uses on his Web site. He didn't address the point some have made that his use of misogynist language might have been as equally or more offensive than how he perceived Prejean's answer at the Miss USA pageant.
"I was very angry," Hilton said. "And it's almost insulting to me that people expect me not to be outraged, when I am told I am a second-class citizen and shouldn't deserve the same rights that heterosexuals get."