As a deeply divided Supreme Court issued 5-4 rulings the past few weeks bouncing from liberal to conservative interpretations of the law, something was woefully missing from the coverage: journalists apologizing to the nation for regularly insinuating that the Court's December 2000 decision concerning Bush v. Gore was politically based.
After all, for seven and a half years, a regular media meme has been that a "conservative Supreme Court" gave George W. Bush the presidency by stopping the recounting of votes in Florida.
Yet, as the Washington Post reported Sunday, today's Court, though "sharply divided ideologically on some of the most fundamental constitutional questions" as well as being "roughly balanced," is probably more conservative than it was in 2000 as a result of recent appointments (emphasis added throughout):
Best-selling author Tom Wolfe made some statements about American journalism last week that would raise a lot of eyebrows in newsrooms around the country if anyone cared to notice.
For instance, he believes "newspapers are declining rapidly," that when a television news outlet does "a big story it`s always wrong," and that Dan Rather and his "60 Minutes" crew were "idiots" for airing the totally erroneous piece in August 2004 about George W. Bush and the National Guard:
They should have looked at the piece of paper. Obviously not written by a typewriter.
What follows is the relevant section of Wolfe's discussion with PBS's Charlie Rose last Wednesday (video available here, relevant section at 33:30, h/t and photo courtesy NY Post):
On Monday’s CBS "Evening News," correspondent Lara Logan touted what was essentially a press release from a key terrorist leader in Afghanistan: "Afghan warlord Gulbeddin Hekmatyar spoke exclusively to CBS News about the state of the insurgency in Afghanistan in this interview smuggled out of his secret hiding place." Logan went on to offer a translation of the video: "‘The resistance is spreading in all directions,’ he says. ‘It's becoming stronger and more powerful.’"
Logan went on to repeat more of Hekmatyar’s propaganda:
‘Although I'm confined to one bunker and a village which is under the threat of American warplanes all the time, I sleep very peacefully at night, while George Bush cannot sleep in the White House without the help of sleeping pills,’ he says.Hekmatyar mocks President Bush as a warmonger and blames him for Iran's meddling in Afghanistan. He says the Iranians are pouring money and weapons into the fight that's destroying his country.
When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes" anchor Morley Safer interviewed left-wing actor Alec Baldwin and spent some time focusing on Baldwin's liberal activism: "And yet it's his off-screen performances that can get in the way of a truly gifted man. And often it's his liberal politics that make him red meat for his critics." Baldwin explained to Safer: "They hate liberals who can throw a punch." And when Safer asked: "‘They’? Who's ‘they’?," Baldwin responded: "They, the vast right-wing conspiracy that's after me."
An admiring Safer described Baldwin’s activism this way: "Liberal politics has always been his passion...He has an impressive grasp of the issues and spends a huge amount of his time and money supporting causes he believes in: animal rights, the environment, the arts." Safer then went on to continue to portray Baldwin as a victim of the "right-wing conspiracy":
SAFER: But his bare-knuckled approach to political discourse...
BALDWIN: Not all Republicans are as insane as these extremist conservatives.
SAFER: ...has made him an easy target for conservative junkyard dogs like Sean Hannity.
SEAN HANNITY: He's unhinged. Let's be honest, he's not really bright.
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley looked at the healthcare provided to illegal immigrants in U.S. detention facilities: "Before 9/11, about 100,000 detainees went through this system each year; but today, with stricter immigration rules, that number has tripled to more than 300,000. The surge appears to have overwhelmed the medical care provided to the immigrants. Now a Washington Post investigation joined by 60 Minutes has found evidence that immigrants are suffering from neglect, and some don't survive detention in America."
Pelley then highlighted a few extreme examples of poor medical care, beginning with Joseph Dantica, an 81-year-old minister from Haiti who fled the country and was detained in the U.S.. After only 48 hours in custody, Dantica became ill: "Records show that two days later, during an asylum hearing, he became violently ill and collapsed...In a day and a half, Reverend Dantica was dead. The medical examiner said it was pancreatitis." Of course Pelley placed blame with U.S. immigration services: "A detention center physician's assistant failed to recognize that Dantica was in serious trouble...It took four hours to get him to an outside hospital."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," Steve Kroft suggested that the American-based Chiquita Banana company was in league with Colombian terrorist groups after paying extortion money to such groups to protect its employees: "It made millions growing bananas there, only to emerge with its reputation splattered in blood, after acknowledging that it had paid nearly $2 million in protection money to a murderous paramilitary group that's killed or massacred thousands of people."
Kroft went on to portray the situation with Chiquita as only one example of a larger pattern of U.S. companies funding terrorism: "Now the Colombian government is talking about extraditing Chiquita executives to Colombia, and investigators in Bogota and on Capitol Hill are looking at other US companies that may have done the same thing."
Kroft later highlighted the murder of a 12-year-old boy by the paramilitary group that Chiquita made payments to: "...the paramilitaries arrived and murdered a 12-year-old boy whose only crime had been to announce their presence." Kroft also explained: "As the atrocities piled up all across the country, Chiquita continued to make the payments to the paramilitaries, viewing itself as a victim of the violence, not a facilitator."
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Bob Simon talked to members of the Israeli Air Force and asked one pilot, Captain Omri, about air strikes in the Gaza strip in which civilians occasionally are killed:
It's a classic guerilla war. Fifty dollar rockets made in the back alleys of Gaza against Israel's $50,000 missiles. The Israelis will tell you that kind of expense buys precise weapons which limit collateral damage. But it also gives the air force the capability of assassinating their enemy's leadership. The Israelis call this "targeted killings"; the Palestinians call it murder. Have you hit any targets?
Simon then went on to say to Omri: "But I must tell you, your face, your manners, your demeanor, you don't look like a killer. And yet what you do a lot of the time when you're over Gaza, you're killing." The pilot responded: "I agree. I don't think I'm a killer. When I look at my face in the mirror, I don't see a killer."
In her two-part profile of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aired on Sunday night's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl seemed repeatedly surprised by how Scalia in person isn't the “polarizing figure” who protesters call a “fascist,” as she conceded: “What's interesting is the difference between how you appear in person and the image that you have. Because the writings are so often combative, and your friends say that you're charming and fun.” In short, Scalia really does not match the left-wing characterization of him adopted by Stahl's media colleagues.
Stahl opened her piece by describing Scalia as “one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the court” before contending that he “is a polarizing figure who invites protestors and picketers.” As she spoke, viewers heard from a man with a matching sign: “Scalia is a fascist!” Stahl told Scalia what she's heard about him: “'He's evil.' 'He's a Neanderthal.' 'He's going to drag us back to 1789.'” Stahl informed him: “The public sense of you is that you make your decisions based on your social beliefs.” Citing “Roe v. Wade and affirmative action,” she elaborated, “His critics argue that originalism is a cover for what they see as Justice Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the 60s and 70s.”
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley provided an update for a story done in February about former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery in 2006: "A federal court has released former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman from prison six weeks after our story...Siegelman says his prosecution was political, orchestrated in the White House."
The original "60 Minutes" story, which Pelley credits for Seigelman’s release, was aired on February 24 and claimed that not only was Sigelman’s prosecution politically motivated, but that it was done at the direct order of White House advisor Karl Rove. During that story, Pelley talked to Republican Alabama attorney, Jill Simpson, and asked: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...in a compromising sexual position with one of his aides?"
During Sunday’s update on the story, Pelley interviewed Siegelman:
PELLEY: Siegelman was once the most successful Democrat in Alabama. He claims that his prosecution by the US Department of Justice was influenced by the president's former political adviser, Karl Rove.
Panicky protectionists are predicting some unsavory possibilities for the U.S. economy thanks to emerging foreign economies with newly created wealth to invest.
Although they're unlikely possibilities, CBS's April 6 "60 Minutes" delved into the potential threat one Chinese sovereign wealth fund might pose to the American economy.
"All together, the sovereign wealth funds of countries like Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have spent over $30 billion bailing out our financial system, which has raised some troubling questions," CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl said. "Are these mostly undemocratic regimes saving Wall Street or invading it? One fund is of special concern - it's new, highly secretive and the fifth largest in the world."
Here's a deliciously inconvenient truth: five days after Nobel Laureate Al Gore told CBS's Lesley Stahl that folks who don't believe man is responsible for warming the planet are "like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat," the BBC proclaimed "Global Temperatures 'To Decrease.'"
You really can't make this stuff up.
Putting a cherry on top was Investor's Business Daily which published an editorial hours later entitled "The Chill Is On." But, before we get there, let's first hear from the BBC (emphasis added throughout, picture courtesy AP):
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Murat Kurnaz, a german-born Muslim man who was released from Guantanamo Bay after five years, having been found innocent of terrorist activity, and as Pelley declared: "At the age of 19, Murat Kurnaz vanished into America's shadow prison system in the war on terror...The story Kurnaz told us is a rare look inside that clandestine system of justice, where the government's own secret files reveal that an innocent man lost his liberty, his dignity, his identity, and ultimately, five years of his life."
Pelley went on to describe Kurnaz’s claims of being tortured by the U.S. military:
Kurnaz claims his interrogations at Kandahar turned to torture. He told us that American troops held his head underwater...Kurnaz says the Americans used a device to shock him with electricity that made his body go numb. And he says he was hoisted up on chains, suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.
After Kurnaz described how a doctor would monitor his health during such torture, Pelley asked: "The point of the doctor's visit was not to treat you; it was to see if you could take another six hours hanging from the ceiling?"
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl interviewed former Vice President turned global warming alarmist, Al Gore, and observed: "There's still a lot of skepticism about whether global warming is manmade...there's pretty impressive people, like the Vice President [Dick Cheney]." Gore then described skeptics like Cheney this way: "I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat." Gore then went on to explain: "That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off."
Stahl teased the interview at the top of the program: "Since he lost the election, Al Gore has become a certified celebrity, a popular prophet of global warming." In the introduction to the segment, Stahl proclaimed: "When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he was often ridiculed as inauthentic and wooden. Today, he is passionate and animated, a man transformed."
Stahl began the interview by asking Gore about the Democratic presidential race and the possibility of him brokering a deal between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, as Stahl later observed: "He's not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job -- as he puts it, P.R. agent for the planet."
Despite mounting evidence contrary to his hysterical proclamations, former Vice President Al Gore, he of the massive carbon footprint and $30,000 utility bills, is still clinging to his discredited theory of global warming.
In an interview with Lesley Stahl to air on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, Gore piously declares those who don't buy his climate change theories are akin to crackpots who believe the earth is flat and don't believe man landed on the moon in 1969.
Apparently rather than debating the merits of his argument in a rational and reasoned manner, Gore is left only with ad hominem attacks and smug condescension toward his critics.
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
Now that the major media have acknowledged en masse that Hillary Clinton lied shamelessly about landing in Bosnia to sniper fire, it seemed like the right moment to remember Mrs. Clinton’s claims about honesty and truthfulness in the famous Steve Kroft 60 Minutes interview in 1992 – not the part that aired in 1992, mind you, but a different set of snippets that aired on February 1, 1998, twelve days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
In these clips, pulled out from our archives for our book Whitewash, Hillary proclaimed "voters are tired of people who lie to them" and lectured about the Bible to Kroft as they discussed Bill Clinton’s alleged adultery, "You know, there are ten commandments, not one. And one of them is, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’" [Audio available here.]
Here’s an excerpt from Whitewash that offers more detail:
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show"a 1,612 word story on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal did not feature the word ‘Democrat’ even once, nor was the word used in any further coverage of Spitzer during the show. A 'D' did appear briefly next to Spitzer's name on screen at two points during the show, for a total of 14 seconds. In addition, the story portrayed Spitzer as a great crusader against corporate corruption as reporter Jeff Glor explained: "Eliot Spitzer was once called 'Crusader of the Year' by "Time" Magazine...Spitzer built his career by taking down white-collar criminals and righting the wrongs of Wall Street."
During his report, Glor mentioned Spitzer’s "political opponents" calling for the Governor’s resignation making sure not mention those "opponents" were Republicans. At the very end of the segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to political correspondent Jeff Greenfield and hinted at Spitzer’s party affiliation as she mentioned that Spitzer was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate: "You're our political guy, so I have to ask you, Eliot Spitzer was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton. That meant one vote for the nomination towards her. What happens to that head count now?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, and the tone of the questions was this: "The United States is going to be in Iraq for years to come. Afghanistan is not going well. Osama bin Laden is at large. And the economy is slipping into recession...How do you make a case for a third Republican term?"
Compare that to how Steve Kroft described Barack Obama’s candidacy during a February 10 interview: "He's been helped by the media's lust for a good story and the electorate's hunger for change. What he lacks in executive experience, he has made up for with a grasp of the issues, an ability to read the public mood, and the gift of turning Democratic boilerplate into political poetry." Or to Katie Couric’s interview with Hillary Clinton during the same broadcast that featured girl talk such as: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?...Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?"
In a story on Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," on a new non-lethal ray gun developed by the Pentagon, anchor David Martin explained why such a weapon is not yet on the battlefield: "Pentagon officials call it a major breakthrough which could change the rules of war and save huge numbers of lives in Iraq. But it's still not there. That's because, in the middle of a war, the military just can't bring itself to trust a weapon that doesn't kill."
However, Martin later explains that part of the reason for the weapon not being deployed in Iraq is due to political concerns over the potential abuse of such a weapon, especially given the extreme play past abuses have gotten in the media. He talked to Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Sue Payton:
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley profiled a charity called Remote Area Medical and its efforts to provide free health care in the United States:
Recently, we heard about an American relief organization that air drops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon. Its called Remote Area Medical, or "RAM" for short. Remote Area Medical sets up emergency clinics where the needs are greatest. But these days, that's not the Amazon -- this charity founded to help people who can't reach medical care now finds itself throwing America a lifeline.
Later, Pelley asked the charity’s founder, Stan Brock, about this: "You've created this medical organization that was designed to go into third world countries, to go into remote places, and you're now doing 60% of your work in urban and rural America. What are we supposed to make of that?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Steve Kroft interviewed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, along with a small group of Ohio Democratic voters who, as Kroft explained: "told us that both race and gender would be hidden factors in southern Ohio, that many blue collar workers here won't vote for a woman, and others would never vote for a black." Kroft went on to focus on Obama: "And Senator Obama has another problem: a malicious campaign against him that surfaced in a number of our interviews."
This "malicious campaign" as Kroft sees it is the suggestion by some that Obama is a Muslim. Kroft was shocked to find this belief from one of the voters he talked to, Kenny Schoenholtz, who said:
I'm leaning towards Obama. There's a couple issues with him I'm not too clear on...Well, I'm hearing he doesn't even know the national anthem. He wouldn't use the Holy Bible. He's got his own beliefs, with the Muslim beliefs. And couple of issues that bothers me at heart.
Kroft was concerned that this one misinformed voter, who said he would probably vote for Obama anyway, was reflective of broader smear against the Illinois Senator:
Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft shares the news of another possible election year meltdown at CBS News.
"60 Minutes" recently aired the claim that former Alabama governor Don Siegelman went to jail not for corruption, but because he belong to the wrong political party, and that the investigations that landed him in jail for bribery were politically motivated.
One of the most explosive claims made was that Karl Rove was involved in an attempt to entrap Siegelman:
If you haven't gotten to check out the Business & Media Institute's new weekly video blog, The Biz Flog, this week's topic is the media's shift from reporting on "recession" to all-out "depression."
Complete with old-timey piano music and grainy film, this week BMI gives you our take on the many instances when reporters have compared the current economy to a time when soup lines and the Dust Bowl carried headlines.
FNC’s Brit Hume, in his Monday “Grapevine” segment, undermined CBS’s Sunday night 60 Minutes scoop about Karl Rove’s smear efforts to destroy former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat now in federal prison for bribery, “some say, only because of his politics,” CBS’s Scott Pelley framed his story. Hume relayed how “Rove says he does not recall ever meeting the woman who is accusing him of asking her to help dig up dirt on” Siegelman “and he say he was never given a chance to respond to the charges she made Sunday on 60 Minutes.”
Specifically, Jill Simpson “said Rove asked her to get pictures of Siegelman in a compromising sexual position with an aide” but, Hume pointed out, “the Associated Press reports Simpson has never made that allegation before -- despite several hours of interviews with congressional lawyers, reporters and a sworn affidavit.” As for CBS’s claim they had “contacted Rove” for a response, Hume noted:
But Rove and his lawyer, attorney Robert Luskin, say CBS brought up the allegations only in an off-the-record telephone interview last October. Luskin says, quote: "After 60 Minutes made the decision to publicize these charges, no one from 60 Minutes approached Mr. Rove or gave him an opportunity to respond on the record," end quote.
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed former Alabama Republican attorney, Jill Simpson, about a supposed effort to smear the former Democratic governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman: "Now this woman tells us there was a covert campaign to ruin the governor, a campaign that she says involved Karl Rove, at the time the president's top political advisor." In a story that violated more journalistic ethics than last week’s New York Times hit piece on John McCain, Pelley went on to ask Simpson: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...In a compromising sexual position with one of his aides." Simpson responded: "Yes. If I could."
Siegelman, a Democrat who was governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, is currently in federal prison after being convicted of bribery in 2006. Simpson claimed that this conviction was part of a grand conspiracy led by Rove. Pelley introduced the story this way:
It's not about Katie Couric's liberal bias today; it's her sheer fatuousness. Couric has been accorded rare access for extended interviews with the women involved in the presidential race. MRC's Brent Baker has detailed how Couric squandered part of her interview of Hillary Clinton, aired on this past Sunday's 60 Minutes, on silly talk.
This morning's Early Show featured excerpts from Couric's interview of Michelle Obama. No huge headlines, but once again Couric wasted time with obvious and trivial questions. The CBS anchor literally apologized to Obama, for example, for posing the much-asked question of what her personal cause as First Lady would be [answer: the challenges mothers face in balancing work and family].
On Monday, my colleague Brent Baker reported on the "silly girl talk" that occurred the prior evening when CBS's Katie Couric interviewed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on "60 Minutes."
24 hours later, former CBS reporter Bernie Goldberg was Steve Malzberg's guest on WOR radio, and he not only concurred with Baker's impression of this "60 Minutes" segment, but also called it "seriously embarrassing."
In fact, this was such bad journalism that Goldberg quipped, "If Mike Wallace were dead, he'd be turning over in his grave" (audio available here):
60 Minutes on Sunday night ran back-to-back interview segments with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and while Steve Kroft's session with Obama provided a friendly forum in which Kroft admired how “through twelve long months of mind-numbing, muscle-aching, adrenaline-fueled monotony and exhaustion, there has been barely a misstep” by Obama, it was devoid of anything approaching the giddy girl talk about mainlining coffee and high school boys Katie Couric put into her segment with Clinton.
Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton “remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist.” She soon wondered: “How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?” In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: “But I'm talking about pure stamina” and marveled: “Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?” Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: “What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” Clinton denied that, prompting this exchange full of laughs and giggles:
COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true? CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs] COURIC: [giggling] I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that! CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]
The January 20 CBS special attacked the Bush White House for not being willing to sign the Kyoto Protocol after he was elected - furthering the common misconception that Bush has been alone in his opposition to it, as the Senate actually voted 95 to 0 to reject Kyoto earlier.