Q. How can Scott McClellan tell he's pushed his turncoat trip a tad too far?
A. When even leading media liberals suggest his reputation's in tatters.
Say what you will, but I like Joan Walsh, editor of Salon.com. Liberal? No doubt. But also a grownup. On this evening's Hardball, Walsh had the integrity to acknowledge that by accusing Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly of regurgitating Bush White House talking points, McClellan was looking "worse for wear."
Sitting in for Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle [who I must say does a more "fair 'n balanced" job than the regular guy] rolled video from the this past Friday's show in which McClellan leveled his accusation.
On Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the show's "From the Political Grapevine" segment, FNC host Hume gave viewers another glimpse at the admiration offered terrorists in the Middle East as he reported that the Al-Jazeera network threw a birthday party for Samir Kuntar, a notorious terrorist recently released by Israel, who had previously been greeted by thousands of adoring fans when he returned to Beirut. Hume: "The Arab news network Al-Jazeera celebrated the birthday of released Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar with a cake and fireworks. The Middle East Media Research Institute reports that Kuntar, who shot an Israeli child's father in front of her, and then beat her to death with his rifle back in 1979, was given a hero's welcome on the network. One interviewer said, quote, 'You deserve even more than this. I think that 11,000 prisoners, if they can see this program now, are celebrating your birthday with you. Happy birthday.'" (Transcript follows)
When the Israeli government and the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out a prisoner release agreement in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners while Hezbollah released the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who had been killed, there was a substantial contrast in the way the broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story. While ABC’s Charles Gibson and Simon McGregor-Wood reported on World News that one of the prisoners, Samir Kuntar, had been convicted of the "vicious murder" of an Israeli man and his four-year-old daughter, and that upon release he was "greeted in Beirut as a returning hero," NBC and CBS both skipped over any details of Kuntar’s crime, and CBS’s Katie Couric even listed the prisoner exchange as one of several "glimmers of hope" in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Couric: "For the first time in years, there are some glimmers of hope in the Arab-Israeli stalemate -- a virtual cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, and the beginning of low-level talks between Israel and Syria."
CNN and FNC further detailed the brutality of Kuntar’s crime, and FNC noted his popularity among many in Lebanon. FNC’s Morton Kondracke: "What’s most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance, tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter. And he's being welcomed home as though he’s a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon. What it indicates is that Lebanon, that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah ... they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does, you know. Lebanon is close to being lost." (Transcripts follow)
It seems Barack Obama had a "senior moment" on Wednesday during his trip to Israel regarding which Senate committees he is a member of. On the same day's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Fox All Stars" segment, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes called out Obama for his claim, which the Illinois Senator made while trying to impress Israeli reporters, that he is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, as he took credit for the passage of legislation regarding Iran. Barnes: "[Obama] was trying to brag about how tough he was on the Iranians, and he said his committee, the Senate Banking Committee, had passed a resolution ... that would have caused American firms to divest of Iranian interests. And the trouble is, he's not on that committee. ... And he didn't vote for it. That would be a senior moment if McCain did it."
Indeed, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs membership roster does not list Obama's name. But during a news conference, which aired live Wednesday morning during CNN Newsroom, Obama seemed to embellish his resume: "Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon." (Transcripts follow)
MRC Director of Media Analysis and NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham appeared on FNC's "Your World w/Neil Cavuto" earlier this evening. The topic: modern liberal campaign bias and how the public often goes against the media's favorites. [audio available here]
"Notice they're not attacking Obama, they're attacking Obama's biggest base of support," Graham noted of the latest John McCain Web videos about Sen. Obama, which lampoon the media's love affair with the Illinois Democrat.
You need "go back no further than four years ago" to find a similar political love affair that backfired, Graham added of the MSM's support of Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
Even so, this election cycle reminds Graham of Clinton '92, one occasion where the media's favorite won, even though he "barely skated by" to election, helped in part by a strong third-party ticket.
When the Bush administration reported that 15 of 18 political benchmarks set for Iraq had been met, which is nearly twice as many that were met last year, only Fox News reported on the story. And during his July 2report, Brit Hume predicted that the story wouldn’t gain much traction elsewhere:
I suspect that this broadcast tonight -- and maybe some others on this channel -- are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere.
As Hume predicted, CBS’s “Evening News,” NBC’s “Nightly News” and ABC's “World News Tonight” did not mention the story in their broadcasts that night.
Once again MSNBC president Phil Griffin is claiming that his cable outlet is not liberal on purpose. (I know what you're saying, if you believe that he has a bridge to sell you) In an interview with a TV reviewer for the Kansas City Star, Griffin once again made the claim that the extreme leftward tilt that MSNBC has taken over the last few years was a complete accident and that they aren't "tied to ideology" like Fox News is. Griffin also attacked Fox News saying that, "you can't trust a word they say."
It all started when Aaron Barnhart of the Star asked Griffin for his reaction to statements made by Fox News executive John Moody who said that MSNBC only gained their current market share because of the "messianic ranting" of its anchors, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. This set Griffin off at the outset of the interview.
On Wednesday, presumptive Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama blamed his wife's high negative ratings on "the conservative press—Fox News and the National Review" as well as "rants by Sean Hannity."
He also said, "And you know, the problem is that rarely do these folks have the guts to say it to your face."
On Thursday, Hannity struck back (video embedded right):
Senator Obama, here is my invitation. Anything I've ever said about you, you can sit right here, and I will say it to your face. Do you have the guts to come on this program and take some tough questions?
As you might imagine, Sean said a lot more on Thursday's "Hannity & Colmes," but before we get there, here's the quote from Glamour's Glamocracy blog which set this whole thing off (emphasis added):
What do people on the ultra-left hate more: George W. Bush or Fox News?
The question stems from an incident Friday at the Netroots Nation conference in Austin, Texas, when former Democrat Congressman Harold Ford Jr. was booed for saying that he has great respect for his former colleagues at Fox News.
This was so newsworthy that the Huffington Post's Sam Stein actually wrote about it (emphasis added, video of Ford's comments embedded right):
Greta Van Susteren is quickly becoming one of Fox News's most ardent defenders against attacks from the ultra-left.
Writing about Netroots Nation -- the gathering in Austin, Texas, of the most liberal people in America -- Greta bashed her former network CNN as well as MSNBC, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all those in attendance.
Fasten those seatbelts tightly, for Greta, in a blog posting Friday morning, wasn't taking prisoners (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy FNC):
MRC Director of Research and NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes appeared on the July 17 "Election HQ" program on Fox News Channel. Noyes appeared opposite liberal columnist Ellis Henican to discuss whether there was a double standard by the media in covering Sens. McCain and Obama and their foreign trips. [Audio available here.]
The Big Three network news anchors are planning on traveling to Iraq with Sen. Obama, whereas McCain's Iraq trip in March was all but ignored. For example, Noyes noted, Katie Couric gave John McCain's Iraq trip a grand total of 10 seconds of coverage on the "Evening News," and yet she and her competitors are all hopping the press plane for Obama's visit as though they were groupies following a rock star.
For background, read Kyle Drennen's July 17 blog post here. An excerpt of that blog follows:
While Thursday's New York Times reported that the anchors from all three network newscasts will be joining Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq, they showed no such interest in following John McCain during his visit to Iraq in March. During the week of March 16, McCain's trip received only four full-length stories during the combined ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news program coverage. Three of those stories were on NBC's "Nightly News," one of which focused on McCain's mistaken comment about Iran funding Al Qaeda in Iraq. ABC's "World News" did only one full-length story on McCain's Iraq trip, which mentioned the gaffe. The CBS "Evening News" was by far the worst, devoting only 31 words, a grand total of 10 seconds, to the Republican nominee's Iraq visit during the entire week of evening news coverage. Read Media Research Center press release here.
Following the November elections, Brit Hume, longtime host of "Special Report" on Fox News Channel and one of its guiding lights, will step down from his anchor post and as managing editor for the Washington bureau.
The news broke this afternoon via Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz who reports that Hume will not be leaving the channel entirely--he will be retaining his role as a panelist on "Fox News Sunday."
No decision has been made by FNC chief Roger Ailes about the future of "Special Report."
Days after former Sen. Phil Gramm told the Washington Times that "We have sort of become a nation of whiners" when it comes to the economy, Ben Stein claimed, "It's the media that is whipping us into this frenzy."
Deliciously, this came just minutes after a Democrat strategist actually said, "We are in the toughest economic time we have ever been in this country."
As such, I would make the case that it is media AND Democrats doing the whipping.
But before we get there, here's what Stein said Saturday on Fox News's "Cavuto on Business" (photo courtesy BenStein.com)
It's now been widely reported that during what Jesse Jackson thought was an off-mic moment from Sunday's "Fox and Friends," the reverend stated he would like "to cut [Senator Barack Obama's] nuts off." However, a look at the on-air conversation shows that the FNC hosts had to prompt Jackson to say anything positive about Barack Obama's plans for faith based initiatives, the subject that drew his wrath in the first place.
During the July 6 segment, Jackson was discussing health screenings for African Americans and the need to have a low blood pressure. Quite unprompted, during an unrelated question, he suddenly shifted topics from screenings and blurted, "And so, while I'm very concerned about the focus now on faith-based, I'm concerned about a government-based commitment to give us structure and equality whether it is education or health care, because we know unemployment is a factor in people's health." Co-host Ainsley Earhardt later brought the subject up again and queried, "Barack Obama thinks that the government should oversee how these faith-based organizations are using their money, who they are hiring. Do you agree with him on that?" Jackson replied "yeah," but then immediately shifted towards listing all the limitations of faith-based initiatives.
As media gasp over Rev. Jesse Jackson's indelicate remarks concerning presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama's naughty bits, an interesting point was revealed at the Huffington Post: if this had been said about Vice President Cheney, the press would be laughing their heads off.
In the end, the disgust isn't about the language or the imagery; it's about the person it was directed at.
Such was accurately espoused Thursday by Dan Sweeney, an associate editor for South Florida's City Link magazine (emphasis added, minor vulgarity alert):
The hiring of Howard Wolfson as a political contributor to Fox News has resulted in the ritual outrage from blue blogs and Fox haters. When they aren't smearing Wolfson ("sell-out", "right-wing Zionist", etc) the alternate tactic is used: diminish Fox by lying about its influence and reach.
You'd think Chris Matthews might wish Howard Wolfson well on the news that the former top aide to Hillary Clinton has joined Fox News as a Dem analyst. Think again. The Hardball host has ungraciously predicted that the move to Fox could spell the end of Wolfson—and in doing so revealed his own pop-culture roots.
Here was Matthews on this evening's Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Fox News loves presenting itself as the alternative to the other news networks. Roger Ailes, the guy behind the network, figures that the Hillary campaign needs a new home, now that she's out of the race for president. So, abracadabra, Howard Wolfson, the voice of the Hillary campaign, has just been hired by—you guessed it—Fox News. Wolfson has just signed a contract as a regular contributor. He told the New York Times, quote, "it is important to have a strong progressive voice on the network." Well I think it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Reminds me of a movie: it's called Howards End.
A proposal in California to require emissions-rating stickers on new cars is another example of "government overreach," according to Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor.
Gainor told "America's Election HQ" host E.D. Hill on Fox News Channel July 7 that California's decision could affect other parts of the country because of its influence on environmental policies.
"California already affects the nation," he said. "At least 12 states copy their environmental regulations. California has the highest [gas] taxes at 75 cents a gallon and the second-highest overall cost of gas," Gainor noted.
Howard Wolfson has become the latest prominent Democrat to join forces with Fox News Channel during the general election, hailing it for its "comprehensive and fair and evenhanded" coverage during the primaries.
That's quite an endorsement coming from one of the Democratic party's biggest communications mavens, and not one known for being especially soft-gloved. It's the equivalent of MSNBC suddenly getting endorsed by the likes of Mary Matalin or Ari Fleischer, something which is far less likely to happen. New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg broke the story:
Howard Wolfson, who was a top strategist for the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is going where some Democrats were unwilling to go during the early days of the election season: the Fox News Channel. [...]
Mr. Wolfson is joining a network that Democrats shunned for a time, complaining that its coverage was unfair. But aides to Mrs. Clinton came to view Fox News as distinctly fair to her in a news media climate that they believed favored Senator Barack Obama.
Why would the New York Times divulge information that could prove harmful to the national security of the United States? Because, so consumed is it by hatred of President Bush, that the paper actually wants America to lose. Such is the considered opinion Jim Pinkerton expressed on yesterday's Fox News Watch. The case in point was an article the Times published on June 30, 2008, Amid U.S. Policy Disputes, Qaeda Grows in Pakistan, which quoted from a "highly-classified Pentagon order" describing internal disputes at the Pentagon over plans to capture Osama Bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda.
JIM PINKERTON: We endanger national security when you leak sources and methods. For example, the story that Cal [Thomas] alluded to before, about the wiretaps across the world.
JANE HALL: That's a different deal.
PINKERTON: OK. I think—just a hunch—that the New York Times hates the Bush administration so much that they want us to lose, that's what I think.
Wow, that Rosie O'Donnell is one classy gal, isn't she?
On Wednesday, the "comedienne" did a guest stint at a Cyndi Lauper concert in Vancouver, Canada, during which she called Ann Coulter a bitch, and rather indelicately compared her experience on "The View" to the scene in the movie "Born Innocent" when Linda Blair was raped in the shower at a girls' reformatory.
I kid you not.
What follows is a partial transcript of this disgrace (video embedded right), along with a clip from Friday's "Red Eye" on Fox News featuring a response from guest Ann Coulter (readers are warned of strong language and sexual content):
One of the more astounding post-9/11 liberal media affectations has been the extraordinary concern press members have for how terrorists looking to kill innocent Americans are treated at detention centers.
A fine example of this occurred on Thursday's "Hannity & Colmes" when the left-leaning part of Fox News's successful duo debated former White House adviser Karl Rove about the recent Supreme Court decision granting habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Readers are advised to get a big bag of popcorn for this barnburner (video embedded right):
In the years since he began working at FNC as host of its "Fox News Sunday" program, Chris Wallace has come to realize he was wrong for earlier thinking that the elite media are politically neutral.
"When I was in the mainstream media, when I was working at NBC and ABC [...] I thought we were fair and balanced. But since coming to Fox four and a half years ago, I have come to see things a little differently. And I, in fact, do believe there is a bias in the mainstream media and that is something I was only able to understand when I was outside of it," Wallace said in an interview with a Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts newspaper.
Even if you don't believe Fox is objective, you should be glad it's out there, Wallace added, if only for pluralism reasons:
The Times clearly adores this theme, and is constantly checking for signs that the reign of right-wing news is over and that CNN and MSNBC, whose liberal leanings are never admitted to in the paper, have overtaken Fox among this or that particular viewer segment. The only problem is, those cable rivals never quite seem to stay ahead of Fox News.
When prime-time cable news ratings for the second quarter of 2008 are officially released next week, they will show that Fox News reclaimed the top spot among viewers in their mid-20s through mid-50s, those of greatest interest to news advertisers, according to estimates from Nielsen Media Research.
During the first three months of the year, by contrast, CNN drew so many viewers on big Democratic primary nights and for several presidential debates that it vaulted over Fox News for the first time in six years.
The Chicago Tribune has lurched to the left of Sen. Barack Obama, at least on gun rights, marking the latest point in its evolution from a historically moderate-to-conservative paper to a reliably left-wing broadsheet.
That's how MRC Director of Media Analysis characterized the Trib's decision to issue an editorial last Friday calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. The editorial board's writers whined that the Constitution's Framers "could have used an editor" in writing the Bill of Rights. [audio available here]
Below is a transcript -- h/t MRC intern Peter Sasso -- from Graham's appearance on the June 30 "O'Reilly Factor" with guest host John Kasich:
The New York Times published an article Monday about the anger some Vietnam veterans feel over the vessel they used to serve on, Swift Boat, now being synonymous with "the nastiest of campaign smears."
In dredging up this issue, Times' writer Kate Zernike not only misrepresented many of the facts surrounding the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but also completely ignored the mainstream media's role in turning the name of this patrol craft into a political pejorative.
In fact, something the Times conveniently chose not to share with its readers was how one of its own columnists, Frank Rich, wrote one of the earliest and most prominent pieces recharacterizing this nautical term as a smear tactic in his August 21, 2005, article "The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan."
But before we get there, here's what the Times had to say Monday (emphasis added throughout, h/t NBer Bingo):