A truly extraordinary event occurred on CNN Sunday: Howard Kurtz actually supported President Bush sitting down with milbloggers to discuss what's going on in Iraq.
I kid you not.
When this issue was raised on the most recent installment of "Reliable Sources" - that Bush had a meeting Friday attended by ten military bloggers - it seemed almost a metaphysical certitude the President would be lambasted for catering to the extreme right.
During a heated interview over the Iraq war on Thursday’s "The Situation Room" with substitute host Suzanne Malveaux, White House press secretary Tony Snow went on the offensive against the mainstream media. In response to a question from Malveaux about how President Bush could "regain credibility" with the American people about the success of the troop surge in Iraq, Snow replied, "Well, you know what Suzanne, your credibility rating -- journalists’ credibility ratings are lower than the President’s."
The most heated exchange came in the last three minutes of the 5pm EDT hour interview. Malveaux brought up the results of a recent New York Times/CBS News poll that found that 71% of those polled disapproved of the way President Bush is handling the situation with Iraq.
Crusty CNN commentator Jack Cafferty had a "Live Chat" on The Huffington Post on Wednesday, and he sounded like a regular HuffPost blogger, charging that Bush lied us into war to enrich his friends, and never wants America to leave: "I don't think President Bush ever had any intention of leaving Iraq. I think we have been lied to about that the same way we were lied to about WMD. Military bases are under construction all over the country including one on the Iran-Iraq border." Cafferty also agreed with a questioner complaining about how the "good concepts" of "Kucinich, Paul, Richardson, and Gravel" are ignored by the media, and suggested the country needs publicly-funded political campaigns, but it will never happen.
The typical Bush-buried-3,000-troops-for-his-rich-friends line tumbled out this way:
On CNN Sunday night, it was like Ted "Captain Planet" Turner was still running the place. CNN anchor Tony Harris interviewed Robert Redford with a sense of awe about his latest Sundance Summit with local officials to "fight global warming." Redford trashed President Bush as "pretty transparently awful on the environment," and the administration as "retarded in its views," but said "what I think is the exciting part, which is the optimistic part, which is that we can now do something ourselves as individuals that can change the course of things." The anchorman, Harris, replied: "That is so great." He professed disappointment that the president would not meet with Redford, as if he were a world statesman and eminent scientist: "Boy, I sure would love to see the day when the two of you -- you and the president, actually had a real dialogue. But I guess it's not going to happen."
On Sunday, NewsBusters published an article about Salon editor-in-chief Joan Walsh voicing displeasure with CBS anchor Katie Couric's "softball," "puff piece" reports from Iraq last week.
Moments after the piece was published, I received an e-mail message from MoveOn civic communications director Adam Green providing me with a video posted hours prior at YouTube by his organization, and forwarded to me so that I could see "Katie Couric's lapdog journalism" I was "defending."
Tuesday morning, Walsh amazingly responded to my article, and defended her views of Couric by embedding in her piece - wait for it - the YouTube video MoveOn had created and sent to me on Sunday (emphasis added throughout):
It should come to no surprise to those who know the liberal reputation of CNN that they have decided to rerun Christiane Amanpour’s "God’s Muslim Warriors" during prime time on the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The more logical choice on a day where the country remembers those who were killed by an insidious act of terror might be a retrospective on what happened that day, or a look at the lives of some of the victims. Instead, anyone who tunes in between 8 pm and 10 pm Eastern will see this bias-tinged examination of Islamic fundamentalism, which Amanpour introduced by saying, "God's Muslim warriors -- they are much feared and little understood."
In Monday's New York Times, reporter Patrick Healy described how Democrats pandered to a Latino audience during their debate on the Spanish-language channel Univision (although candidates spoke in English): "They expressed concerns that Republicans were enabling anti-immigrant feelings and even racist attitudes, or at least not taking a tougher stand against them." Hillary Clinton blamed media people for those anti-Latino and even racist attitudes:
Mrs. Clinton said legislative proposals to overhaul the immigration system, which all the Democrats at the debate endorsed, had been used by Republicans and some in the news media to "bash immigrants" and engage in demagoguery. Later, Mrs. Clinton added: "There are many in the political and frankly in the broadcast world today who take a particular aim at our Latino population. I think it’s very destructive." A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said after the debate that she was referring to the CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and the radio host Rush Limbaugh, among others.
"This is John Smith, reporting live from the beaches of Normandy, where Allied troops have launched a massive invasion aiming to defeat the Axis."
"John, this is Bob Brown back in the studio. When does General Eisenhower think the first Allied troops can start to come home?"
"What the . . . ?"
OK, the surge isn't D-Day. But surely an important part of what we are looking for in General Petraeus's report today is his assessment of the prospects for success in Iraq, right? Wrong -- if by "we" you include CNN. According to it's 9 A.M. EDT preview of the report, the only thing "everyone" cares about is the timing of withdrawal:
Illinois Democrat Rahm Emanuel and California Republican Duncan Hunter appeared on CNN's American Morning Monday to discuss the Iraq War and anticipated address from General David Patraeus. CNN's John Roberts questioned the congressmen.
During the interview, Hunter challenged his Democratic counterpart (Emanuel) by pointing out that Democrats had previously implored President Bush to "listen to his generals," but now the Democrats were preemptively being critical of General Patraeus. Having heard enough, Roberts switched the questioning to Emanuel, prodding for a response to Hunter's point. But in asking for a response, Roberts addressed the Illinois congressman as "Rahm," as in - what is your response to that point "Rahm?"
Roberts, recognizing his mistake almost immediately, thereafter made a point of addressing Emanuel as "congressman." Roberts, however, never addressed the California congressman as "Duncan."
On the one hand, I was very pleased to see CNN's Howard Kurtz mention on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" the recent decision by the BBC to cancel "Planet Earth," a proposed daylong special to focus attention on anthropogenic global warming.
On the other hand, I was surprised when Kurtz chose not to include one of the key reasons this project was scrapped, namely, the failure of Al Gore's Live Earth concerts.
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric couldn't possibly expect to be criticized by a fellow, female, liberal journalist when she went to Iraq last week to report firsthand what was going on in that embattled nation.
Yet, on Sunday's "Reliable Sources," Salon editor-in-chief Joan Walsh ripped the leading member of the media sisterhood for "lobbing kind of softball questions," and not "working terribly hard to go beyond that kind of puff piece drop in for a few days kind of journalism."
In fact, Walsh demonstrated what happens when a discernibly liberal press representative dares to do an impartial, balanced report which doesn't exclusively bash Republicans, the president, and the war:
Bill Clinton’s appearance on Wednesday’s "Larry King Live" gave new life to the old nickname for CNN as the "Clinton News Network." Host Larry King fawned over Clinton during the 40-minute interview, asking the impeached former president questions on wide range of topics. King asked Clinton if Osama bin Laden was ever going to caught. After Clinton gave the standard Democrat line that not enough resources are being sent to Afghanistan in the hunt for the al Qaeda leader, King added, "You almost got him." Clinton answered affirmatively, and added that he "never had a chance to deploy large numbers of troops to Afghanistan."
Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, whose many large contributions to Democratic coffers, including Hillary Clinton came from an apparently non-existent source, has jumped bail yet again. As reported by the Associated Press,
Hsu, a Hong Kong native, was also supposed to turn over his passport Wednesday. Hsu's prominent Silicon Valley criminal defense attorney Jim Brosnahan said Hsu failed to give the passport to the legal team on Monday. "Mr. Hsu is not here and we do not know where Mr. Hsu is," Brosnahan said outside court. Brosnahan said that "there was some contact" with Hsu a few hours before the scheduled 9 a.m. court appearance, but he declined to say how and who talked to Hsu. Hsu pleaded no contest in 1991 to a felony count of grand theft, admitting he'd defrauded investors of $1 million after falsely claiming to have contracts to purchase and sell Latex gloves. He was facing up to three years in prison when he skipped town before his 1992 sentencing date.
CNN, in their day-long reporting on Tuesday about the opening day for a controversial publicly-funded Arabic-language school in New York City, sympathized with the school and its supporters, and helped denigrate its opponents. On "American Morning" and throughout the day on Tuesday on their "Newsroom" program, CNN aired a report from correspondent Richard Roth on the Khalil Gibran International Academy, whose curriculum will focus on teaching "Arabic language and culture" (as detailed in a CNSNews.com report last week). The report focused on Carmen Colon, a mother and "community activist" in Brooklyn (a detail not mentioned in Roth’s report) who pulled her son from the school before its opening. The report closed with a clip from Colon, who said, "The people who are so against this school who, for me, seem more like the terrorists by terrorizing the community and making us feel that it's unsafe for our children to be there. They're the ones who are terrorizing us, not the school, not the principal, and not the administration."
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo talked to the authors of a new book about how liberals in the media allowed their politically correct biases to color coverage of the accused students in the Duke lacrosse rape case. Critiquing the media, Cuomo acknowledged, "It was difficult to report on this story fairly because there was so much pressure about pushing the angle that something had to happen. Something had to happen. It couldn't be nothing." He even proclaimed a lesson of the case to be "what people have always suspected, which is be careful what you hear from the media."
Stuart Taylor, co-author of "Until Proven Innocent," indicted liberal journalists who hold an obsession with race and sex. He derided the media’s gleeful handing of the case, saying, "The New York Times loved it, or a lot of people at the New York Times loved it. USA Today loved it. Nancy Grace on CNN loved it." However, while Cuomo did engage Taylor and his co-author K.C. Johnson on the subject of the media’s failing, the GMA anchor ignored an example from his own network. In April of 2007, ABC reporter Terry Moran blogged on the network’s official site that Americans shouldn’t feel too bad for the Duke students because of their wealth. He also claimed that the women of Rutgers basketball team suffered more from Don Imus:
Mother Teresa died ten years ago this week, just days after Princess Diana perished in a car crash, displaying a very interesting comparison in media reactions. Princess Diana, molded by so much positive publicity over the years into a "secular saint" when she died, drew superior coverage, both in amount and in tone. Mother Teresa's publicity was also very positive over the years, of course, but the media seemed more willing to solicit harsh criticism of her life, even at the time of her death. Brent Bozell chronicled that story in his column ten years ago:
CNN has an article up about the Sky Eagle drone that flew over Haditha that dreadful day in November 2005. Attached to the story are actual snips from the drone video. Not content to let the drone video speak for itself, CNN spliced in scenes from the video made famous by TIME's Tim McGirk.
The footage of the bodies wrapped in blankets is labeled "Hammurabi Human Rights Association." There is no such "association" - only two men who have documented ties to terrorist/insurgent activities per Marine Intelligence Reports from the Haditha testimony. CNN failed to note that the bodies were removed from the morgue and the body bags replaced with blankets. The bodies were then put on display in one of the Haditha homes. The scene was a staged production - similar to the lurid photos from Qana II.
Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."
"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."
The world's media are busy mourning the death of the Princess Diana ten years ago. But while they are mourning the fact that they lost a ready-made newsmaker who shared many of their goals, they have forgotten to remember the anniversary of a far more important event than the death of the former wife of Great Britain's heir to the throne. As I was reminded by Lead and Gold, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the Polish communist government agreeing to the demands of striking shipyard workers. This surrender by the Communist leadership of Poland presaged the breaking loose of the satellite nations of the Soviet Union's Iron Curtain and led directly to the fall of the U.S.S.R. As Lead and Gold writes,
The strike marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are, rightly, given the greatest share of credit for winning the Cold War. But Lech Walesa and John Paul II played indispensable roles. ...
Apparently the media is only interested in secret surveillance programs when they are conducted by the United States government against enemies of this country. When similar measures are used by the City of New York to track employees, the press collectively yawns. Based on cell-phone GPS tracking records, administrative Judge Tynia Richard in New York has recommended that a city employee be fired for leaving work early. Fair enough. However, there are a few questions I would like to raise in regards to this decicion. Firstly, the employee in question, one Mark Halpin, was issued a city phone without being told that it contained a GPS system that would be used to track his movements. This sounds suspiciously like covert surveillance to me. Secondly, it turns out that Halpin often showed up for for work as many as two hours earlier than his shift began. However, the judge did not take that into account. According to the New York Post,
Halpin questioned the reliability of the data and argued that his privacy was invaded, since officials tracked him when he wasn't at work.
As the networks dwell on the tenth anniversary of the death of a troubled British princess this week, it might be worth remembering that at the time, we noticed the tabloid tendencies toward celebrity deaths at the time were a much bigger media trend than investigations into the scandalous fundraising tactics the Clinton-Gore team used in 1996. Our MediaWatch study at the time noted:
MediaWatch analysts examined fundraising scandal stories in August and September on the Big Three morning shows and evening shows, plus CNN's The World Today. The networks broadcast 686 stories on Diana between August 31 and the end of September compared to just 113 stories about the fundraising scandal. That's a ratio of more than 6 to 1. Isolating the morning shows, collectively they aired 407 stories on Princess Diana's death, while devoting just 36 to the scandal. That's an astonishing ratio of 10 to 1.
A majority of Americans - 54% - believe the United States has not lost the war in Iraq, but there is dramatic disagreement on the question between Democrats and Republicans, a new UPI/Zogby Interactive poll shows. While two in three Democrats (66%) said the war effort has already failed, just 9% of Republicans say the same.
Many Democrats, seeing the fact that the surge appears to be working, have realized that their defeatist attitudes and willingness to surrender may cost them dearly in the next election, have changed their tune somewhat, or, like the New York Times, have merely moved the goalposts of what constitutes victory. However, the major media, who have been overwhelmingly in favor of a precipitous defeat seem to be a little slow in reporting that their years of negative reporting and defeatism have not yet managed to dissuade a majority of their countrymen from wanting to win.
CNN apparently wants to milk all it can out of the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on the Gulf Coast for the benefit of the Democrats. On Monday’s "The Situation Room," CNN special correspondent Soledad O’Brien’s report juxtaposed a clip of a recent speech by Barack Obama with stock footage of the hurricane’s aftermath. On Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," O’Brien upped the ante in another segment. This time, more footage of damage from Hurricane Katrina ran at the same time an audio clip from President Bush’s first post-Katrina speech in New Orleans began. The video then cut to the President speaking in Jackson Square, and as the clip ended, the picture froze and went to black-and-white, as you might expect in an election campaign commercial.
O’Brien, on-location in New Orleans, appeared during the 5 pm hour of "The Situation Room." Host Wolf Blitzer asked her what people along the Gulf Coast were saying about the rebuilding effort. O’Brien’s reply: "You know, Wolf, if you had to pick on a single word, then I think that word would be they're very, very frustrated." She went on to say that people there also "feel let down by their local leaders, the state leaders, and the federal government, too." O’Brien mentioned the local and state leaders first, but they were not to be mentioned in her report. It focused entirely on the response of the Bush administration, and Democrats’ criticism. In addition to this "frustration" she cited, O’Brien would go on to talk about a conspiracy theory about why the federal aid to the region has been so slow.
Soledad O’Brien’s segment on "some of the leading White House hopefuls" and their recent visits to New Orleans on Monday’s "The Situation Room" might leave one wondering where the "Paid for by the DNC" caption in small font was hiding. O’Brien’s report juxtaposed a clip from a recent speech by Barack Obama with stock footage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and featured only the three Democrat frontrunners. Clearly, other "White House hopefuls" have visited the hurricane-damaged area in and around New Orleans, but CNN chose to focus on Clinton, Obama, and Edwards.
Advice to members of Congress: take the train. Our illustrious senators and congressmen seem to have a penchant for getting into trouble when they venture into airports. We're all familiar with how things went wrong for Rep. Patrick Kennedy in 2000 when he tried to barge his way past an airport screening employee. When just eight days ago Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.) was charged with assault and battery for his run-in with an airline employee at Dulles International outside DC, I noted here that CNN managed to get through its report on the matter without mentioning Filner's Democratic-party affiliation.
So naturally I was curious to see how some of the major papers dealt with the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and his guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport earlier this month.
Whereas CNN was shy about mentioning Filner's Dem roots, the Washington Post had no such hesitation when it came to indicating Craig's Republican-party membership. Indeed, the very first word of its headline announced it:
On Monday's MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, host and MSNBC General Manager Abrams attacked CNN's series God's Warriors for "a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worst type of moral relativism," and as "shameful advocacy masked as journalism," quipping that series host Christiane Amanpour "avoided getting bogged down in objectivity." Abrams further took exception with Amanpour for comparing those who support Israel's defense strateg
Jeff Toobin, CNN’s senior legal analyst, made two statements on the resignation of attorney general Alberto Gonzales on Monday’s "American Morning" that point to his own political leanings. Co-host John Roberts, following-up on Toobin’s remark that he found himself "surprised" by this announcement, asked "Really? But surprised, but are you shocked? Toobin’s answer: "Well, not shocked. I mean, you know, this was a really preposterous attorney generalship at this point." Toobin also invoked the memory of John Mitchell, the attorney general under Nixon who was jailed due to Watergate, in his answer.
Later, when Roberts asked about the possibility of Michael Chertoff replacing Gonzales, Toobin mentioned some of Chertoff’s qualifications, including how he was law clerk to former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, "the biggest liberal, probably, in the history in the court." Immediately after mentioning this detail, Toobin added, "So, he certainly has the resume you'd want." Toobin also offered some "balance" to this by mentioning that Chertoff was the Homeland Security Secretary during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
As scared as secular liberals are of the nefarious "religious right," you never hear them complain when Democrats use religion to increase their vote count. The latest example (h/t: Brian Flaherty) of this comes from CNN which reported on a Sunday Barack Obama speech without even a peep of criticism that the senator might be mixing politics and religion too much:
Speaking to Sunday church congregants in New Orleans, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama invoked Jesus' Sermon on the Mount days before the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"Getting ready to talk to you today, I recall what Jesus said at the end of the Sermon on the Mount," Obama said at New Orleans' First Emmanuel Baptist Church. "He said, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock."