It's turned into something of a week for TV hosts, if not to bite, then at least to nibble hard on the hands that feed them . . .
First, as noted here, on Friday Joe Scarborough passed along the comment of an unnamed conservative biggie who wondered "what the hell [Rand Paul] was doing on MSNBC?", where during an interview with Rachel Maddow he caused controversy with his comments on the Civil Rights Act.
Today, it was Howard Kurtz's turn. In the wake of Campbell Brown's withdrawal from CNN, in which she cited her show's poor ratings, Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources also on CNN wondered whether the network's business strategy of offering news in contrast to the opinion-oriented programming on Fox News and MSNBC is "viable." For good measure, Kurtz also managed to suggest that Brown, Connie Chung and Paula Zahn—all of whose CNN shows failed—weren't strong enough personalities to attract an audience during the 8 PM hour, up against the likes of O'Reilly and Olbermann. Ouch!
The search for missing pregnant Ohio woman Jessie Davis and the ongoing investigation into her murder has been all the rage recently on the twenty-four hour news networks, only surpassed by a few "choice" stories such as the coverage of the imprisonment of Paris Hilton. Not surprisingly, one network, CNN, used the murder of this young woman to forward a left-wing agenda. Two guests on Monday's "Paula Zahn Now" program warned that a"big risk factor" or a "big red flag" in cases of domestic violence and/or homicide against pregnant woman are "men who are gun owners."
Host Paula Zahn had three women guests on to discuss the question, "What is it about pregnancy that seems to increase a woman's risk of being killed by her partner?" The first guest to speak, Dr. Gail Saltz of New York Presbyterian Hospital, focused on the increased stresses on a woman and her "partner" during a pregnancy. The second guest, Jacquelyn Campbell, a nursing professor at John Hopkins University, was asked by Zahn if many of the murders of pregnant woman take place very late in the pregnancy. While answering, Campbell included in her list of risk factors "men who are gun owners as particularly dangerous in these cases."
In going on Paula Zahn's CNN show this evening, was Al Sharpton's goal to quell the controversy surrounding his comments about Mormonism, or to inflame it? If the former, he failed miserably. If the latter, he succeeded admirably. Far from retracting his earlier allegation that Mormons aren't real believers, he repeated it, adding an allegation of racism for good measure.
Let's recall Sharpton's original statement, that in going on the Zahn show he presumably was seeking to explicate. Debating Christopher Hitchens recently, Sharpton said:
"And as for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway. So don't worry about that. That's a temporary, that's a temporary situation."
Apparently, CNN can't get enough of Kathleen Sebelius, the Democrat governor of Kansas. She made two appearances on CNN on Monday, once on "American Morning," and the other time on "The Situation Room." Both times, she tried to blame the Iraq war for any hampered reactions to the devastation caused by a tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. The same evening, the "Paula Zahn Now" program featured another segment on the supposed equipment shortages Governor Sibelius has highlighted in her media appearances. Even though the segment's sound bytes supported the governor's line, CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre and Major General Tod Bunting of the Kansas National Guard made several points that reveal the truth of the situation.
Keith Olbermann opened his Wednesday MSNBC show by displaying video of Rush Limbaugh on screen as he smeared conservative talk radio as “racist,” asking, “Why have none from the racist right been protested, boycotted or fired?” He then delighted Thursday night when guest Sam Seder, of the far-left Air America Radio, predicted “the next time Limbaugh slips up, which I think is inevitable, I think you're going to see this sort of same type of reaction.” A pleased Olbermann exclaimed: “It's the best thing I've heard in a couple of days. From your lips to God's ears!” Olbermann had asked Seder: “How does Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage get away with worse than what Don Imus said?”
With “SELECTIVE OUTRAGE: Imus Was Not Alone” on screen, Olbermann teased Wednesday's Countdown by wondering: “Where's the other outrage? Rush Limbaugh calls Barack Obama 'Halfrican-American.' Michael Savage says the Voting Rights Act means 'a chad in every crack house.' Neal Boortz says Cynthia McKinney looks like a 'ghetto-slut.' Why have none from the racist right been protested, boycotted or fired?” He soon cued up race-hustler Jesse Jackson: “Why are there not efforts to remove them from the air?”
That didn't take long at all. A few days after Don Imus' racially-charged remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, CNN set its sights on Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk radio hosts. On Tuesday's "Paula Zahn Now," host Paula Zahn teased an upcoming segment by noting, "If you think some of the things Don Imus says are insulting, you haven't heard anything yet." She then played Rush Limbaugh's criticism of embryonic stem cell advocate Michael J. Fox from last fall.
Later, in the segment itself, Zahn juxtaposed Don Imus's words with controversial remarks by Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, Michael Savage, and Randi Rhodes -- three conservative/libertarian hosts to one ultra left-wing host. Then on his Wednesday evening program, CNN host Larry King gave former Air America radio host and Senate candidate Al Franken (D-Minn.) a platform to attack conservative talkers.
There was quite a kangaroo court put together on CNN Tuesday evening largely designed to discredit recent confessions by al Qaeda terrorists Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Waleed Bin Attash while pointing accusatory fingers of blame at American interrogation methods (video available here).
Joining the host on “Paula Zahn Now” was Air America Radio’s Rachel Maddow, Republican strategist Amy Holmes, and CNN contributor Roland Martin.
As the panel was nicely stocked with only one view from the right, the views expressed were clearly sympathetic to our enemy, and suggestive that not only is America using inappropriate interrogation techniques, but also that any information we obtain “almost gets comical.”
After introducing some of the pertinent facts about the recent confessions, Zahn skeptically asked:
CNN put together a story featuring reporter John Roberts that absolutely hammered Vice President Cheney on Wednesday night’s Paula Zahn Now, concluding with an anonymous Republican suggesting the party needed an "exorcism" to rid itself of all its missteps and corruption.
When the Laura Ingraham show played clips, Ingraham suggested reporter John Roberts should call in – and he did. Roberts protested that the source was a "devout Republican," and not former Clinton aide David Gergen, as callers joked.
He suggested his story was "very narrowly sliced" to deal just with Cheney, and not the Libby trial. It was narrow, alright. (MP3 audio at NRO.)
Time magazine's cover story image as reality? Displaying a mini-instance of pack journalism, MSNBC and CNN shows on Thursday afternoon and night pounced on Time magazine's cover story, “The Verdict on Cheney” beside a picture of Cheney under some dark clouds, as evidence Cheney's influence is declining in the White House in the wake of the Scooter Libby verdict. It may be, but the graphics on a magazine cover hardly proves it. Plugging an interview with Michael Duffy, the author of the cover story, MSNBC's Chris Matthews asserted on Hardball: “More coming here about amazing problems facing the Vice President. He's on the cover of Time magazine as we speak and it looks bad.”
On CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Zahn trumpeted how “tonight we're bring out into the open Vice President Cheney's downhill slide” which is “not pretty” and is illustrated by, as she instructed viewers, “Look at the cover of the new Time magazine: The Vice President under a dark cloud. The headline: 'The Verdict on Cheney.' The story inside even brands him as 'the enemy within' the White House, dragging the whole administration down with him." Over on MSNBC's Countdown at the same 8pm EST hour, fill-in host Alison Stewart highlighted how “special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald referred to the quote, 'cloud over the Vice President' in his summation at the Libby trial. The folks at Time magazine painting that cloud over Mr. Cheney quite literally in their art for the new cover story, going as far as to call him quote, 'one of Bush's biggest liabilities.'"
On the February 19th edition of Paula Zahn Now, guest host Kyra Phillips, well known for her restroom comments, confused Senator Barack Obama with the world’s most wanted terrorist. When interviewing African American film maker John Ridley on Obama’s standing in the black community, Phillips posed this question.
Kyra Phillips: "What do you think is Osama bin - is, is Obama - boy that was a terrible slip of the tongue, right? Barack Obama, is he that new leader?"
CNN confused the two before. As newsbuster Scott Whitlock noted, a graphic on The Situation Room asked "where’s Obama?" next to a picture of Osama bin Laden.
This week, Chris Matthews' anti-Bush bigotry spilled over into a profanity laden rant. The "Hardball" host dropped the F-bomb during a live interview with Don Imus.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Paula Zahn connected opposition of illegal immigration to, you guessed it, the Ku Klux Klan. This is the same network, however, that tried to downplay proven religious bigotry by a blogger for the John Edwards campaign.
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spent the week in Syria. She let the despotism of President Bashar Assad go mostly unchallenged.
During other segments, Sawyer chose to ask him about video games and whether he uses an iPod.
As previously reported on Newsbusters, the mainstream media overlooks fringe groups at anti-war rallies, pro-illegal immigrant rallies, or even extreme anti-American hatred at anti-Bush rallies overseas. However, when it comes to opposition against illegal immigration, the mainstream media tries to connect it to fringe hate groups where ever they can find it.
On Tuesday’s Paula Zahn Now, host Paula Zahn described the "frightening new trend" that the very small Ku Klux Klan has increased recruitment. This increased recruitment is largely, of course, to blame from alleged immigrant baiting from some Republicans. Zahn was giving free, unquestioning publicity to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. Reporter Deborah Feyerick asserted that the increase in recruitment is "which some believe is the result of the heated debate on immigration, which at times uses hateful language."
CNN heavily promoted an "exclusive" last night with stories by John Vause and Howard Kurtz rebutting an Insight magazine article on Barack Obama’s Indonesian schooling, that it occurred in a "madrassa," with the on-screen graphic "DEBUNKING A SMEAR." Conservatives shouldn't defend journalism from conservative media outlets if the story doesn't stand up -- if it carries a lot of shaky anonymous sourcing and can easily and passionately be portrayed by liberal media outlets as a "smear." Insight's story seems underbaked, not ready to face prime-time liberals like last night's fusillade from Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper and Paula Zahn, who brought on CAIR, not Obama, for outrage over "Islamophobia."
The sad thing here is that Democratic candidates (and the Democrat-dominated media) will follow the usual Clinton formula: they'll push outrage at unsubstantiated charges, and then not really press the candidate about the issues raised. Obama's Illinois church and religious beliefs (and his former lack of religious beliefs) are very interesting topics. Like everything about Obama, they need more investigation from the media and less exaltation. But the media will quickly suggest (and have suggested) that Obama's exotic upbringing makes him more qualified to understand the world. He has certainly pushed that line. Take this AFP wire story where race-transcending Obama touted to the reporter that he was "greatly influenced" by his Asian sojourn:
Mary Cheney’s announcement of her pregnancy and upcoming lesbian parenthood has inspired national-media stories playing up "furious" conservatives in the Vice President’s Republican base, even as activists on the gay left use the news to lobby against defense-of-marriage policies in Virginia and other states.
CNN’s "Paula Zahn Now" took up the permissive cause on Thursday night with a supportive news story by Mary Snow on how Virginia is "unfriendly" to gay rights, followed by an imbalanced panel discussion in which one liberal insisted homosexuals had to fight for their cause or "You're going to get dragged behind a truck otherwise." MRC’s Robert Knight, featured in the Snow report, told me that CNN didn’t use his remarks that "every birth is a blessing," or that loving fathers are important. Why? Because it wouldn’t match the "furious" conservative template? Paula Zahn started with the conservative fury, right from the beginning:
In The New York Post, terrorism expert and journalist Steven Emerson protested that CNN and Newsday warped the views of Republican Congressman Peter King on an Islamic group, and how they want to blame 9/11 on a Zionist conspiracy instead of al-Qaeda:
THE media is engaged in a jihad against Rep. Peter King - a jihad in defense of Islamist extremists.
King, a Long Island Republican, has warned his constituents that some leaders of the Islamic Center of Long Island have "publicly stated that the CIA or the 'Zionists' may have been behind the attacks" of 9/11.
The record backs him up. Indeed, the center's leadership has a long history of extremism. But both Newsday and CNN chose to ignore the facts and smear King.
It’s really the height of gall, but perfectly illustrates the arrogance of today’s media. On Wednesday evening, Michael Ware – CNN’s Baghdad correspondent – stated that the folks giving President Bush advice and information about what’s going on in Iraq – including General George Casey and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad – “are men who could not be more divorced from the Iraqi reality. They very much live within a bubble, be it physically within the Green Zone or be it within the bubble of heavy U.S. protection” (video link and full transcript to follow).
Ware didn’t end there, for he knows better than all of the advisors, the commanders, and the boots on the ground:
As of this moment all we know for sure is that a state grand jury has issued sealed indictments against two Duke University lacrosse players in a case of ALLEGED rape. Are these two really guilty? That remains to be seen. But Jesse Jackson, appearing with Paula Zahn on CNN, has already set the racial fires burning with hot-button talk of “plantation” and “slavery” and “fantasies” of white men having their way with black women.
Jesse obviously waits by the phone for the next CAUSE to divide America. This time, the call came from Duke University and here he is, front page again.
It’s too bad that Paula failed to remind Jesse that “fantasies” work both ways. Plenty of prime time African American athletes somehow walk off with the sharpest blonde on campus. Is that a problem? No, as long as we remember that we’re all in this together and that race is a problem only when we (or some people) make it a problem.
The Tom Toles quadruple-amputee cartoon for the Washington Post hasn't been a major story, but it did inspire a story from ABC's Jake Tapper, and Toles was interviewed on CNN. (NRO Media Blog has video here.) In a brief interview, Paula Zahn's questions were fairly adversarial, and Toles was unapologetically liberal in reply:
ZAHN: So, you have heard what the Joint Chiefs of Staff said about your cartoon, that it was a callous depiction of soldiers who have suffered life-altering wounds. How do you justify using war casualties to make a political point?
Is Paula Zahn’s notion of balanced political coverage tag-teaming with the liberal guest in a conservative-liberal debate segment? You could argue that after watching last night’s edition of Paula Zahn Now, which featured an interview/debate segment regarding the Valerie Plame leak investigation with Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of the liberal magazine The Nation, and Rev. Joe Watkins, a pastor and Republican political consultant. At one point Zahn all but dismissed any nothing that Karl Rove’s “leak” was an innocent mistake or a casual conversation, not a politically-motivated smear: "Is it appropriate for a chief White House aide to be involved in an alleged vindictive act against a man who wrote an excoriating piece in The New York Times?"