PBS’s left-wing program "Now" with David Brancaccio is interviewing another left-wing expert tonight to make a left-wing argument: that the national media is too soft on warmongers like George W. Bush. The guest is the dean of Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Orville Schell, a contributor to Mother Jones and The Nation, among other hard-left publications. From the PBS website preview on Schell:
"The press has been accused of being the lap dog in the run-up to the war ... we gave the government the benefit of the doubt, I think, to the detriment of the nation as it turned out," he says.
Schell, who is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, describes the dilemma journalists face when reporting the news in wartime.
There’s absolutely no doubting where The New Yorker magazine has come down on the War on Terror – it’s been there from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib to insist the anti-terrorist side is full of human rights abusers. Former Time reporter Jon Lee Anderson is the latest New Yorker correspondent on the bandwagon, finding Israel has completely mucked up Lebanon and Hezbollah. PBS gave him a platform on the July 31 edition of "Charlie Rose."
MRC intern Eugene Gibilaro transcribed the exchange. Rose asked simply where "we are in this war," and Anderson was quick to whack Israel: "It’s a scene of devastation in a lot of the places and people coming out, old people, you know about Qana yesterday, the dead children. A fundamental error of the type that often happens in these air wars where inevitably, a refuge full of women and children gets killed and sort of wrong-foots the warring party, in this case Israel, with the preponderance of the military might."
All those millions the taxpayers have lavished on the Public Broadcasting System over the years haven't gone for naught. They've achieved at least one significant thing: given Bill Moyers a base from which to launch a presidential campaign. At least in the mind of Molly Ivins.
While Molly doesn't expect Moyers to win the election or even the nomination, she believes his candidacy would have a salutary effect on other Democratic contenders. Here's the essence of her thesis:
"Just get him into the debates. Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win."
On Friday's edition of "Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason," the PBS omnipresence hosted a discussion more on Greek mythology than religion. The guest in his first half-hour was lesbian novelist Jeanette Winterson, who bitterly mocked her fundamentalist parents and suggested the Christian Bible showed a God and scriptures full of contradictions. Yawn. Standard "transgressive" PBS.
But it took a political turn about 20 minutes in, when Winterson elaborated on how Prometheus stealing fire from the gods for mankind led to suffering and punishment, his liver being ripped out daily by an eagle. To which Moyers responded: "Why do you think we're so fascinated with the stories of heroes and gods brought down by sex? I mean, do you think Bill Clinton wished he had known his mythology when he got into the White House?" It continued:
Just when you thought the arguments of the pro-illegal immigrant crowd couldn't get any more preposterous . . . Now, the United States is being condemned for deporting illegal aliens who are violent, hardened criminals - members of homicidal street gangs.
The Los Angeles Times saw fit to allot some of its precious op-ed space today to this column by Ricardo Pollack [pictured here] who, we are told, is a "documentary director and producer. His film, '18 with a Bullet,' airs tonight on KCET as part of PBS' 'Wide Angle' series." PBS, eh? Your tax dollars at work!
On Friday night’s edition of Inside Washington, a program which airs on the Washington DC area PBS station WETA, and re-airs on Sunday mornings on the DC ABC affiliate, WJLA, and consists of a round table of political pundits, one of the topics discussed was North Korea. As was widely discussed last week, North Korea test fired a long range missile that could potentially hit the United States called the Taepodong 2 missile. Panelist Mark Shields attempted to make a joke out of the name:
"Does anybody else think Taepodong sounds like a male enhancement device available on cable?"
However, the rest of his exchange with fellow panelist Charles Krauthammer was not so light hearted. Shields used the subject of North Korea to segue into an attack on the administration’s Iraq policy, suggesting that an attack on North Korea would have been a better strategic move than the war in Iraq. Charles Krauthammer disputed this, noting the differences between Iraq and North Korea.
David Brooks of the New York Times has been on quite an anti-liberal blogosphere roll of late. After eviscerating Markos Moulitsas Zuniga – the proprietor of the Daily Kos – in a June 25 op-ed entitled “Respect Must be Paid For,” Brooks again ripped into Kos on Friday night’s “The News Hour” on PBS (video link courtesy of Crooks and Liars). Brooks followed this up with another op-ed tangentially on this subject Sunday.
On Friday evening, the discussion between host Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields, and Brooks centered around Joe Lieberman’s problems in Connecticut. Lehrer asked Brooks how Lieberman is impacting the 2008 presidential campaign. Brooks responded (emphasis mine):
Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, was on the PBS "NewsHour" last night to discuss the fallout over the fact that on June 23, The New York Times among other papers, revealed classified anti terrorism programs. Mr. Keller attempted to downplay the revelation as not a big deal because:
"We weighed very heavily and looked in excruciating detail at claims that this was not something that terrorists knew, that this would somehow be useful to terrorists. And the fact is, you know, you can find more useful detail about what the Treasury is doing in the Treasury's own public briefings."
If there is more useful detail on the public record, then why didn’t the Times print that instead? How does the Times know that the terrorists were already aware of the SWIFT program they wrote about? Did they talk to any terrorists to find out? The fact is, as Bill Keller goes on to mention:
Monday night's hour of conversation between PBS anchor Jim Lehrer and long-time Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, titled "Free Speech," was a cozy liberal-media insider chat, but awfully dull -- dull enough to make you feel for journalism students that are going to be forced to watch it in class. Cozy snippet example number one is Lehrer asking Bradlee near the end: "One of the other cliches they say about folks like you and me, people who practice journalism is that, we pessimistic; that we're cynical. You don't buy that, do you?" Perish the thought.
Perhaps the frankest moment for Bradlee was admitting that the WashPost editors all bought the Janet Cooke eight-year-old-drug-addict story because she was black and went to neighborhoods they never visited:
Back from a break for heart surgery, PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose devoted his entire hour-long show Monday night to Al Gore, promoting his doom-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Rose pressed Gore comfortably from the left: if the president has an "intellectually dishonest" position ignoring the facts, and why no one is having an "enlightened conversation" with President Bush on global warming. Once Rose shifted to Iraq, he laughed at Gore when they discussed whether Bush knew he would invade Iraq as he campaigned in 2000: "I don’t think Dick Cheney had told him yet that he was going to invade Iraq.” This, after Gore said he was trying to convey a "textured and subtle" foreign policy mindset.
A new documentary about Vice President Dick Cheney is set to air this evening on PBS. It’s called “The Dark Side,” and based upon a review published in today’s New York Daily News, it doesn’t appear to be very flattering.
First, the title comes “from a quote by Vice President Cheney in the wake of 9/11. Cheney said that the CIA, the Pentagon and other intelligence-gathering U.S. forces would have to ‘work from the dark side’ to glean information and combat and defeat terrorism.”
However, let’s be serious: what viewer isn’t going to assume that the title is a more direct reference to the movie “Star Wars,” and that Cheney is being depicted as Darth Vader? Forgive me, but as George Carlin said many years ago, you don’t have to be Fellini to figure that out.
The documentary then picks up some rather familiar liberal themes that we’ve all been hearing ad nauseum for years:
PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose returned to his set on Monday night after some weeks off for heart surgery. While he was out, PBS used a rotating set of liberal-media stars as hosts, including Barbara Walters, Brian Williams, and CNBC's Maria Bartiromo. Just last week, MRC intern Chadd Clark found some typical liberal thoughts coming from guest hosts.
On June 5, former CNN anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and she echoed Charlie Gibson's lame idea that public opinion on so-called "gay marriage" is a 50-50 polling proposition:
The United States Senate today, spending the day debating an amendment to the US Constitution to ban gay marriage. President Bush lobbying hard for it. The polls show the American people almost split down the middle. You've written a letter urging members of the Senate to vote for the ban. Why?"
Not that there's been any doubt as to the politics of NPR and PBS - home to world-class Republican haters such as Bill Moyers. Still, it's instructive to see just who has launched a massive organizing effort to ensure continued taxpayer funding of the two organizations. Turns out . . . it's none other than the far-left MoveOn.org.
Here's a mass email sent out today by Move-on:
From: Noah T. Winer, MoveOn.org Civic Action Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 12:27 PM To: Subject: Deadline tomorrow! Re: Save NPR and PBS (again)
Rick Klein at the Boston Globe reported Thursday that Republicans in the House are proposing a cut for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) again, which completely failed last spring:
On a party-line vote, the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees health and education funding approved the cut to the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes money to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio. It would reduce the corporation's budget by 23 percent next year, to $380 million, in a cut that Republicans said was necessary to rein in government spending...
A similar move last year by Republican leaders was turned back in a fierce lobbying campaign launched by Public Broadcasting Service stations and Democratic members of Congress, in a debate that was colored by some Republicans' frustration with what they see as a liberal slant in public programming.
NPR’s Nina Totenberg claimed that the United States was becoming East Germany on the program "Inside Washington" which airs on some PBS affiliates, and in the Washington D.C. market on News Channel 8 as well as the local ABC affiliate.
Host Gordon Peterson, opened a discussion segment regarding a report by ABC News Investigative reporter Brian Ross, who asserted that a federal law enforcement officer advised him and his producer to get new cell phones because the government was tracking the phone numbers dialed in an effort to root out confidential sources. Peterson wondered what effect this would have on reporters:
"He says the official told him ‘it's time for you to get some new cell phones quick.’ Reporters are going to start functioning like al Qaeda operatives? Go to a pay phone if the can find one?"
Thursday morning's Today contained a few pop-culture nuggets that revealed liberal media attitudes. As Kathryn Lopez noted on The Corner, in the 7:30 half hour, Katie Couric turned the "American Idol" chat into a peek at her feminist parenting habits (and once again, she plugged her love for Helen Reddy):
Couric: "Oh you're so hip. A lot of people expected Chris [Daughtry] to go all the way, but last night. He got sent packing although, you were so funny. I was playing Helen Reddy on my CD player yesterday."
Lauer: "I thought it was weird. I literally, I walked past her dressing room going out of here yesterday and Helen Reddy blaring on the, on the stereo. She's in the thing like this." [Snaps fingers]
Perhaps it should strike no one as big news that PBS and Democrats often go together like peanut butter and jelly. The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported today that the president and CEO of PBS-Hawaii, Mike McCartney, is running for chairman of the state's Democratic Party:
McCartney says he has taken a leave of absence from the statewide public television operation and will step down next month.
McCartney previously said he was considering either a campaign for governor or lieutenant governor this year, but withdrew in favor of working as a party leader.
"I believe in the party, and I want to get back into public service," McCartney said.
There are a few other more personal notes in the Barbara Walters interview with Jane Fonda on PBS. Ted Turner's first words on his first date with Fonda are a little bizarre: "We got in the car. His first words to me was, ‘some of my best friends are communists. I’m thinking, ‘did he say that because he thinks I’m a communist, and it won’t get in the way’?" He named Gorbachev and Castro as his close friends.
Walters told Fonda "We all though that was a marriage that was pretty special." She asked "What broke it up? The rumor was that you became spiritual. You found religion. He didn’t like that." She also mentioned that Turner had adulterous relationships.
Fonda agreed that religion became a problem: "I did it while I was married to him and I didn’t tell him, which is not playing fair actually. But by then, we weren’t on the same team, basically. I felt myself being drawn to faith, very strongly, very viscerally, and Ted was the champion of the debate team at Brown. And I knew that if I talked to him about it, he who was an atheist, he would talk me out of it. And I was so raw and so new with this faith that I didn’t want to expose myself to that. So he found out and got upset, as well he should have. It was not a good thing for me to have done."
At the late-night PBS talk show "Charlie Rose," the revolving door of hosts keeps turning. On Monday night, ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Jane Fonda about the paperback edition of her memoir, and just past the midway point of the interview, Walters asked indignantly about conservative opposition to her. "It amazes me that I still get letters about you...what has it been since Vietnam? Forty years?...The anger. 'Traitor to her country. Honoring her would be traitorous, stupid,' and so on. It goes on and on and on." Fonda was harsh:
"Well, partly it’s organized. It’s not spontaneous. Some of it is probably spontaneous. But it’s sad, and in a way, it’s pathetic, that lo, these many years later, these people have not (pause) made sense of the war. They’re off base in terms of where the anger needs to be placed. And I’m made a lightning rod, and the right wing has been very assiduous in fanning the flame of the myth of Hanoi Jane. You know, they’ve spread lies on the Internet about things I supposedly did that aren’t true. And they’ve kept it alive because it suits their interests."
The bad news keeps coming for the Bush administration, at least that’s what we were told on PBS’s "Washington Week." For those not familiar with the program, it is moderated by Gwen Ifill, and is a roundtable discussion of reporters, each reporter taking a turn focusing on a political topic while the others ask them questions.
This week, one of the guests was Doyle McManus from the Los Angeles Times who discussed President Bush’s low approval ratings. Ms. Ifill introduced the topic:
"But if Donald Rumsfeld is having some credibility problems with the senior military, it pales in comparison to the credibility problems President Bush appears to be having with the American people. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll shows more than twice as many people strongly disapprove of the president's performance as strongly approve."
Do you remember Leonardo diCaprio's turn as an ABC News correspondent, interviewing President Clinton on the environment in 2000? Well, premiering Tuesday on PBS: "Journey to Planet Earth," the latest public-broadcasting environmental-disaster documentary, hosted by pretty-boy actor Matt Damon. The show's PBS website promises:
Nearly half the world’s wildlife species may become extinct over the next fifty years. Climate change, the illegal wildlife trade, the spread of disease, and the destruction of critical habitat are pushing species to the brink. Join host Matt Damon as Journey to Planet Earth investigates what scientists call 'the sixth great extinction of the world’s animals' and what we are doing to stop it." Then scroll to the bottom of the page and see all the government agencies that have given your tax dollars to this panic-button-pusher:
In a talk with the editor of the liberal Texas Monthly that airs on Texas PBS stations, former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite uncorked some more liberal opinions. In praising the CBS-boosting, Joseph McCarthy-trashing movie "Good Night and Good Luck," Cronkite liked how it reminded Americans that "one nut could endanger the democracy," was "locking up our democracy in a very dangerous way," and persecuting people who were "simply good Americans." When pressed to compare Vietnam and Iraq, Cronkite declared that the comparison was "almost exact."
On Thursday, the Poynter Institute’s Romenesko web site linked to an interview that Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith did with Cronkite for broadcast on Thursday night in thirteen TV markets. First, they discussed the danger of Sen. Joseph McCarthy to our democracy. It's a bit surprising that at this late date, with all the archival information we have now on the Soviet state and its espionage activities, Cronkite still can't acknowledge any Soviet spies in the United States in the 1950s, and how that was a danger to our democracy.
As noted by Tim Graham Tuesday in a NewsBusters item about 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace announcing that he will retire at the end of this season, “perhaps the most-recounted Wallace anecdote didn't appear on CBS, but on PBS.” Indeed, on an edition of the PBS panel series Ethics in America, devoted to war coverage, which was taped at Harvard in late 1987, Mike Wallace proclaimed that if he were traveling with enemy soldiers he would not warn U.S. soldiers of an impending ambush. “Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?", moderator Charles Ogletree Jr. suggested. Without hesitating, Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty...you're a reporter." When Brent Scrowcroft, the then-future National Security Adviser, argued that "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second," Wallace was mystified by the concept, wondering "what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by [the imaginary] North Kosanese on American soldiers?"
George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel, reacted with disdain: "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans." The discussion concluded as Connell fretted: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists." (More quotes follow.)
Video excerpt #1, comments from Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace (3:10) Real (2.4 MB) or Windows Media (2 MB). Plus MP3 audio (560 KB)
Video excerpt #2, angry reaction from Marine Colonel George Connell (38 secs) Real (500 KB) or Windows Media (450 KB). Plus MP3 audio (115 KB) See note below about video quality.
Bill Moyers, former CBS reporter and former host of PBS's "Now with Bill Moyers," has fired back at a NewsBusters article that criticized him for only going after Republicans.
Now that he no longer works at PBS, Moyers has free time for such things as blogging, which he does for the Huffington Post.
In a piece called "Bill Moyers Attacks Republicans While Evoking Memories of Howard Beale," NB contributor Noel Sheppard critiqued Moyers's Huffington essay as being "an advertisement for Democratic political candidates."
"In his piece, Moyers addressed corruption in Congress as exclusively a Republican scandal, tying all of the problems on the Hill to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, while conveniently ignoring the various Democrats."
How do members of the media really feel about Dick Cheney? Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist appeared on the roundtable discussion show Inside Washington, which airs on Friday nights on local PBS powerhouse WETA.He blasted Cheney, linking the accident to his Vietnam deferments, saying:
"I’m just grateful that he had his five deferments, because, my God, if he’d had gotten a platoon, he would have wiped out half his own men."
Shields, who has previously connected Tom DeLay to the West Virginia coal mine tragedy, also accused the Vice President of not caring about the troops and possibly being drunk when he shot Harry Whittington. Shields, in one sentence, brought up the old canard that Cheney is running the country and also suggested that the Vice President doesn’t care as much about American soldiers as he does Harry Whittington:
Is George Bush a slave owner? Viewers of this past Friday’s Inside Washington on PBS, may think so. Washington Post Columnist Colby King inferred as much saying:
Colby King: "They were supposed to behave because Masta [sic] was in the house? I mean come on."
The discussion pertained to the politicization of the funeral of Coretta Scott King, and Colby King and Dana Priest, a reporter for the Washington Post, were determined to defend the gratuitous rudeness of some of the speakers who thought it was appropriate to take political shots at President Bush. Their arguments were weak, ranging from politics at the funeral was expected:
The Public Broadcasting "Service" selected Paula Kerger from the mega-station WNET in New York to be their new president yesterday. Liberal AP media reporter Frazier Moore, a fan of "truth-telling" Bill Moyers, excluded any conservative reaction, but listed the fight over liberal bias to be among Kerger's challenges. She's ready to fight, not switch, to keep the liberal bias:
Success, she said, depends on "the ability to get the staff at PBS as well as the (station) leaders across the country to stand together. If I felt I couldn't do that, I wouldn't have taken the job."
But Jeff Chester, executive director of the [liberal] Center for Digital Democracy, proposed his own formula for success.
"On the one hand, she has to stay strong to her principles, and resist pressure from conservative critics. But she also has to appeal to those critics to get them to support a blueprint for the future.
"In order for her to succeed, I think she needs to ruffle some feathers -- and not just hide behind Big Bird."
Before the new work year really kicks in, one little thing that caught my eye in between holidays. The PBS show "Charlie Rose" had a panel of film critics on to discuss the year in movies on December 21: Richard Corliss of Time, A.O. Scott of the New York Times, David Denby of The New Yorker, and Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly. (For cultural conservatives, consider this fact: an hour-long show on the year in movies and no mention of "The Chronicles of Narnia.") The perfect moment of taxpayer-funded liberal unanimity came in discussing George Clooney's movies "Syriana," and more specifically, the CBS-boosting "Good Night and Good News."
LISA SCHWARZBAUM: "Obviously he's telling a story that we can all feel much happier about. This is about how journalism spoke up to power and how they stared back at a bully. And It comes out at a time when the media wants to think about whether we need to stand up further to, you know, to pressures brought to bear. But I'm fascinated that Clooney is using this kind of charming, you know, "Ocean’s 12/13/14" kind of fame that he has in order to make these movies of what he takes as political importance. I think that's a very valuable use of his celebrity."
To wrap up our list of the Best of NQ's worst quotes of the year, a look now at the more recent winners in the Dubya era. For reasons which shall become obvious (length), we'll go backwards in this post. 2005's Quote of the Year (Mary Mapes on her strange philosophy of journalism) is here.
Dan Rather's Gloom, 2004: "What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find." — Dan Rather teasing a report on the CBS Evening News on March 31, the day four American civilians were killed and mutilated in Fallujah, Iraq.
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.