Newsweek has wildly different takes on the two political parties this week. First, under a huge two-page picture of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, is "The Democratic Entourage: Can Rahm Emanuel deliver the House? His hotshot Hollywood brother is trying to help close the deal." The title refers to a fashionable HBO show about Hollywood titled "Entourage." Rahm's brother Ari Emanuel is pictured between the sultry sisters Paris and Nicky Hilton.
President Bush is pictured over a different headline: "The Politics of Torture." A smaller headline above it read: "Lost amid the legal wrangling over how to interrogate detainees are the techniques used in the war on terror."
On Monday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Diane Sawyer spoke with "Newsweek" managing editor Jon Meacham about the controversy over a centuries-old quote employed by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech on faith and reason.
Protests, violence and threats against the Vatican and representatives of the Catholic Church have erupted since the Pope’s speech, where he used a quote from a Byzantine emperor, Manuel II. The Pope has since clarified his remarks, saying that it is not his own view that the prophet Muhammad’s contribution to the world has been “things only evil and inhuman.”
Sawyer found the use the quote “baffling,” and wondered if the Pope’s decision to insert it into his speech was “an attempt at provocation” with Muslims. Meacham, for his part, found the Pope’s speech to be a “heavy-handed” and “clumsy” attempt at starting a dialogue with the Islamic community. Meacham then brought up Pope Benedict’s reputation among some as “God’s Rottweiler” as head of the Vatican office charged with enforcing of Catholic doctrine during the papacy of John Paul. (ABCNews.com carried a story with the headline "'God's Rottweiler's' First Crisis.")
First there was "Dowdification," named after the NYT columnist's deliberate truncation of a speech by President Bush to falsely imply he had said al Qaeda was "no longer a problem. Now, Patterico (aka Patrick Frey) suggests a new term, "Isikoffed" for the Newsweek reporter who similarly truncated a memo by Alberto Gonzales to make the Bush admin look like it considers all the Geneva Conventions to be "quaint" when it comes to the war on terrorism. Instead, Gonzales was making the sensible point that some of them, such as the requiring prison guards to provide inmates with scientific instruments and athletic clothes, are obsolete.
That the MSM has not sufficiently corrected the record on this point continues to be a problem since many liberals in and out of the blogosphere continue to believe this bit of misinformation.
Update 11:02. While you're over at Patterico's, be sure and read his post about how the LA Times is providing cover for a left-wing church leader who basically said voting for Republicans is a sin.
On the chat show "Inside Washington" on PBS station WETA last night, the spin was in: Plamegate was a massive zero. No one was more enthusiastic than Newsweek's Evan Thomas. I'm sure the reporting of his colleague Michael Isikoff has him completely persuaded. But here's what didn't come up: how much ink did Newsweek spill hyping this "zero" story up? (Hint: here's just one example.)
When the show's substitute host Kathleen Matthews (wife of Chris Matthews) asked what the bottom line was on Plamegate, Thomas declared: "Nothing! Nothing! This is a big zero of a story that most of the American public has ignored, Washington has been feverishly consumed by, and it means something for Scooter Libby, who may go to jail, so it has some personal consequences, but in the great sum of American body politic, it means nothing."
Remember Al Gore’s "Saturday Night Live" skit where he pretended to be president and the world was a glorious place? Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter played that game in his column this week, suggesting that if Bush had been more Gore-like, just imagine what a paradise we would all be living in. In addition to fantasizing that the Arab world sympathized with us, and that Syria and Iran were "forced to help" with the war on terror, Bush’s domestic agenda looked a lot like Jonathan Alter’s domestic agenda: stiff gas taxes, terminated tax cuts, SUV-bashing, firing Rumsfeld. A liberal can dream, can’t he?
Chris Matthews is as frustrated as an able-bodied seaman after six months without shore leave. While Matthews clearly senses this is the year for the Dems to snatch back the Speaker's gavel, hisfrustration is born of the fear that the Dems will squander the opportunity out of timidity - an unwillingness to attack President Bush on the war in Iraq.
Things boiled over during the 5 PM EDT edition of this evening's Hardball. With guests Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Chuck Todd of the Hotline as witnesses to the meltdown, Matthews first played a hard-hitting Moveon.org ad accusing Republicans of misleading the nation into Iraq and trying to "exploit 9/11" to win elections. Matthews complained that while the Republicans are willing to use the same kind of tactics against the Democrats, Dems "are afraid to run an ad like that."
Columnist David Broder says he wrote "almost nothing about the Wilson-Plame case, because it seemed overblown to me from the start." As for the rest of the media, Broder says Newsweek "and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts."
The only time I commented on the case was to caution reporters who offered bold First Amendment defenses for keeping their sources' names secret that they had better examine the motivations of the people leaking the information to be sure they deserve protection.
But caution has been notably lacking in some of the press treatment of this subject -- especially when it comes to Karl Rove. And it behooves us in the media to examine that behavior, not just sweep it under the rug.
Now we know where Robert Novak learned about Valerie Plame. To the Left's dismay, it wasn't some mega-whopper conspiracy of historical proportions aimed at paying back a critic of the administration... instead, it was just a guy who liked Washington gossip, and actually once called Bush, Cheney, et al. a "bunch of jerks".
In the early morning of Oct. 1, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell received an urgent phone call from his No. 2 at the State Department. Richard Armitage was clearly agitated. As recounted in a new book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War," Armitage had been at home reading the newspaper and had come across a column by journalist Robert Novak. Months earlier, Novak had caused a huge stir when he revealed that Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq-war critic Joseph Wilson, was a CIA officer. Ever since, Washington had been trying to find out who leaked the information to Novak. The columnist himself had kept quiet. But now, in a second column, Novak provided a tantalizing clue: his primary source, he wrote, was a "senior administration official" who was "not a partisan gunslinger." Armitage was shaken. After reading the column, he knew immediately who the leaker was. On the phone with Powell that morning, Armitage was "in deep distress," says a source directly familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified because of legal sensitivities. "I'm sure he's talking about me."
According to Michael Isikoff, peddling his new book (written with liberal David Corn) in Newsweek:
Armitage's central role as the primary source on Plame is detailed for the first time in "Hubris," which recounts the leak case and the inside battles at the CIA and White House in the run-up to the war. The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.
Getreligion.org has a collection of postings analyzing Jon Meacham's cover story on Billy Graham in Newsweek -- by Terry Mattingly, Daniel Pulliam, Douglas LeBlanc, and Mollie Ziegler. Mattingly began by being direct, that Meacham is writing to thump the tub for religious laxity and liberalism:
Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham really doesn’t do ordinary journalism anymore. Instead, he writes cover stories that are doctrinal essays that seek to guide Americans toward a more mature, nuanced, educated, intelligent approach to religious faith. This would bring us closer to Meacham’s approach, of course.
As the world watches events unfold in the Middle East from the comfort of their living rooms, evidence is mounting that Hezbollah is using the media in a fashion that would make Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels extremely proud. Such an assertion has far reaching implications to be sure, as it points an accusatory finger at the behavior of the American press as well.
Supporting this contention is a paper written in 1948 by Yale psychology professor Leonard W. Doob entitled “Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda.” In it, Doob enunciated the famed Nazi’s nineteen-point plan for the effective use of the media to advance Germany’s goals.
Fifty-eight years later, a Haaretz article published Thursday outlined the power of the Hezbollah propaganda machine. So coordinated are these efforts that it is easy to imagine the terrorist organization using Goebbels’ principles as a virtual playbook while it molds events and news reports to impact international opinion. The article began:
As news organizations update their obituaries of ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, it’s worth recalling how many liberal journalists have fallen under Castro’s spell over the years, sounding like paid Cuban government propagandists as they touted the “great success stories” of Castro’s decades of communist rule. A new report from the Media Research Center offers some of the most egregious pro-Castro quotes of the last couple of decades.
For example, back in 1988, then-NBC reporter Maria Shriver let Castro himself lead her on a tour of Havana. “The level of public services was remarkable: free education, medicine and heavily-subsidized housing,” Shriver marveled on Today. The following year, ABC’s Peter Jennings trumpeted how “health and education are the revolution’s great success stories.”
In the July 31st edition of Newsweek, Senior Editor Jonathan Alter declared Bush's veto of stem cell funding "may well doom thousands to die prematurely," and blamed the decision on Bush's "inflexibility, obsession with his conservative base, religious arrogance and contempt for scientific consensus."
Alter began this week's column, entitled, "It Was A Veto Of A Lifetime," in ominous tones: "July 19, 2006, was a dark day for anyone who, like me, has experienced life-threatening illness. President Bush's veto of a modest bill that would have merely allowed surplus embryos from fertility clinics to be used for pathbreaking research instead of tossed in the garbage is more than a political blunder. And for those with a friend or relative who is sick - in other words, almost everyone—it is more than an abstraction. By slowing cures for several major diseases, this decisionmay well doom thousands to die prematurely. It contradicts the whole idea of what it means to be 'pro-life.'"
Nothing can put a bigger smile on an old cynic’s face than the normally predictable throwing a twelve to six curveball. Such is what occurred this morning when I opened up a Newsweek article by Robert Samuelson entitled: “Utterly Shameless; How could President Bush publicly brag about a federal budget with a $296 billion deficit?”
After seeing that head and sub-line, I prepared to do battle with what I expected to be the usual liberal mantra concerning budget deficits. Unfortunately, Samuelson didn’t cooperate, for scattered throughout his text was more sense coming from a Newsweek columnist not named George Will than I had seen in decades.
Now, I must caution the reader ahead of time to be prepared for some almost unprecedented sanity from this unlikely source (emphasis mine):
Guess we folks at NewsBusters and at our parent organization, Media Research Center, can go home. Our work is done. Not only is the media not controlled by liberals, it's actually . . . dominated by the right wing. For that matter, it has been for decades! If only we had known, we could have saved ourselves all this trouble.
How did I learn this? From Arshad Hasan, of Democracy for America, the group Howard Dean founded at the end of his candidacy, and that has as its stated goal "to rebuild the Democratic Party." Dean's brother Jim serves at its chair.
Arshad was nice enough to send me an email this morning [OK, I signed up for their list], informing me of the exciting news that DFA is working "to take back our media" and that for such purposes will be conducting online 'DFA Night School' sessions to cover the following subjects:
It appears that the post-Yearly Kos month from hell is continuing for Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the proprietor of the Internet’s premier liberal blog Daily Kos. After receiving some extremely negative press from major publications such as the New York Times, The New Republic, and Newsweek immediately following his seemingly successful bloggers’ convention in Las Vegas, Kos is now faced with an even greater challenge: dissension within his ranks.
Rod Nordland, the chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek magazine and their Baghdad bureau chief from 2003 to 2005, gave an interview to Foreign Policy magazine in which he declared that "It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news." He claimed individual reporters have been "blacklisted" because the military wasn't happy with their stories while they were embedded. He also suggested many in the military don't want to see how awful it is in Iraq because they're wishful thinkers, they don't want to see a "doomed enterprise," and are "victims of their own propaganda."
(If you guessed that the Left was thrilled by Nordland's remarks, you'd be right. I found it as the top headline at Buzzflash.com, a seriously Bush-hating left-wing site.)
Someone at the Washington Post must be leaning their head out of an office door, shouting "We need more Milbank!" Sort of like the old "Saturday Night Live" skit about Blue Oyster Cult needing "more cowbell." So the Post's Sunday "Outlook" section had a new feature called the "Zeitgeist Checklist," which is pretty much a complete ripoff of Jon Alter's dopey "Conventional Wisdom Watch" feature in Newsweek. Most noticeable was the usual drama-queen readings about press criticism:
Homeland Security: It's open season (again) on the press, with Dick Cheney leading the firing squad and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)accusing the New York Times of treason for publishing information about how the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication(SWIFT) is helping to track terrorist finances. Never mind that much of the information had already been public; it's good politics to blame the media.
We might assume that on a holiday like the Fourth of July, there's not going to be a lot of liberal media bias. But a search through the MRC's "Notable Quotables" archive shows there have been a few sharp examples that could ruin an Independence Day. I'd begin with with this one from 1994: "We hear the stories of discrimination in education and housing and jobs all the time. We hear the violence between races. Do you think it's possible that America is simply an inherently racist place?" That was Today (then-substitute) co-host Matt Lauer, not exactly waving the flag. If it was an audition, it must have worked. Here are some others:
2003: "Tonight, we’re going to show you a new true face of homelessness in America. Today’s homeless are families, and the families you will meet have done everything right and yet there’s no place for them. Still, they struggle to find a home....There are more families homeless in New York City now than at any in the last 20 years....in numbers, it’s estimated, not seen since the Great Depression." – NBC’s John Hockenberry on the July 4 Dateline.
Over the course of the past few weeks – and much to the delight of many conservative new media journalists – no less than seven major news outlets have published rather derogatory articles about Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the highly-successful proprietor of the überleft-leaning blog Daily Kos.
Conspicuously at the same time, most media avoided or downplayed the recently revealed stock fraud allegations surrounding Zuniga’s colleague and co-author Jerome Armstrong – the man that helped Howard Dean’s presidential campaign back in 2004, and is now working for 2008 Democrat presidential candidate Mark Warner.
As this negative media focus came soon after Zuniga’s much-heralded liberal bloggers’ convention, The Yearly Kos, in Las Vegas – where the usual media suspects were writing great praise for the event as well as for Kos himself – some awkward and so far unspoken questions arise:
On the roundtable of Sunday's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Newsweek columnist and Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria declared he was going to say "something controversial," that he favored amnesty for Iraqi insurgents. ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said she didn't see why that was controversial, just a required step. When Stephanopoulos suggested amnesty "makes sense," CNN anchor Lou Dobbs said the idea "sticks in my craw."
Zakaria knows the idea is "controversial" because it will rub the American public the wrong way, but also because the Democrats on television (like Sen. Durbin minutes earlier on "This Week") have made a strong pose against amnesty for insurgents. Here's how it unfolded, as the segment began:
15 People Who Make America Great Newsweek Magazine #4 Brad Pitt "If it wasn't for Brad Pitt, most Americans would never have heard of Namibia. They might not know about AIDS orphans in South Africa, or the plight of children in Haiti, or what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland."
Google News: "Brad Pitt Namibia World Economic Forum Davos Switzerland" Results about "what transpired at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland": ZERO. (lots of Newsweek award mentions though)
Google News: "Brad Pitt plight of Haitian children" Results: ZERO
As part of their "Giving Back Awards" cover package this week, Newsweek honors what they call "Philanthropy's All-Star Team," a list of "no-brainers" for all the good they do in the world. Some choices are less political (Lance Armstrong, Oprah), but many are not: Paul Newman, Rosie O'Donnell, abortion-rights activist Bill Gates, embryo-destruction enthusiast Michael J. Fox, Ted Turner, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore. Wow. Al Gore? Getting on a philanthropy list is pretty nice work for the guy who reported giving $353 to charity on one annual tax return. Newsweek explained:
The folks below are, to be blunt, the no-brainers. In some cases, their very names have become synonymous with a cause. Lance Armstrong: cancer research. Al Gore: the environment. Oprah: free cars. (Actually, those famous wheels are just the tip of the "niceberg" for Winfrey.) They've used every asset they've got to spread the gospel of giving—their money, their brains, even their pretty faces. Let's return the favor by giving them a tip of the cap.
Here were some of the more notable stars, in their original alphabetical order:
Jimmy Carter Global Health
Nobel Peace Prize winner, widely admired ex-president, tireless disease-prevention worker. Latest crusade: ending river blindness in Africa. Not bad for a peanut farmer.
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who in March condescendingly charged on Inside Washington that opposition to the UAE ports deals was a “classic for talk radio" since "it's something simple idiots can understand,” on this weekend's edition of the panel show again ridiculed talk radio -- this time as a caldron of “anger” on illegal immigration. But Thomas was dubious about whether the anger is really about immigration, or just where talk radio listeners have parked their incessant anger. He asserted that “in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing...”
Here's a few tidbits from this week's news magazines.
1. Newsweek's predictably liberal "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box is clearly unhappy with the good-news-for-Bushies trend. Bush and Rove each get an up arrow. Each also get incredibly whiny blurbs. Bush: "Surprise Baghdad trip boosts troops' morale -- and his own. But he still had to sneak in, three years after invasion." Rove: "Being cleared in CIA leak probe clears his to go back to attacking Democrats as pansies. To the well once too often?"
Answer: No, not when you're pushing withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year.
In Newsweek, Allison Samuels hypes the latest music from Ice Cube. Over a full-page black-and-white photo of the rapper, his latest “social commentator” lyrics from his song “Why We Thug” are highlighted boldly in capital letters:
“Since I was little not a damn thing changed / It’s the same ol’ same / Bush runs things like Saddam Hussein.”
Most of these words are in green, but “Bush” and “Saddam Hussein” are in white letters for emphasis. Newsweek’s Samuels is giddy: “He was a savagely angry (and wickedly witty) social commentator on N.W.A.’s late-‘80s benchmarks ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘F—- tha Police’…Cube’s new album may be the his best since the searing ‘Amerikkka’s Most Wanted’ in 1990.” Samuels lauds this junk as part of “rap’s long tradition of politically righteous anger.”
Without question, one of the most liberally biased journalists and political commentators in the mainstream media today is Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift. Week after week, her columns and her words spoken on “The McLaughlin Group” sound eerily similar to Democrat talking points coming directly from the likes of Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry.
This is what makes her column on Friday quite shocking, for it not only deviates from the party line that she rarely strays from, but is also written without her normal inflammatory hyperbole for anything right of center. And, even more surprising, Clift actually had negative things to say about her left-leaning brethren.
Clift’s rare moment of sanity was evident right in the first paragraph:
“The death of the top-ranking operative of Al Qaeda in Iraq is a welcome moment of clarity in a war desperately in search of a rationale. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi personified the face of evil and was controversial even among jihadists for staging large-scale attacks on civilians. The news out of Iraq has been gloomy for so long that Zarqawi’s demise, along with the agreement on the remaining cabinet ministers to fill out the new government, may buy some time with the American public, and give President Bush the breathing space to figure out what to do next when he meets with his advisers at Camp David next week.”
She continued with the importance of Zarqawi's death:
If you want a date to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush era in American life, you may as well make it this one: May 25, 2006. The Enron jury in Houston didn’t just put the wood to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The jurors took a chainsaw to the moral claims of the Texas-based corporate culture that had helped fuel the rise to power of President George W. Bush.
(What "moral claims" did the "culture" make? Is Fineman claiming that businessmen and women in Texas are pervasively and exceptionally immoral?)
What makes the Fineman piece noteworthy -- almost hilarious -- is Fineman's admittedly admirable attempt to be fair by including caveats to his thesis that Enron belongs on "the debit side of the Bush-era ledger." Fineman's caveats outnumber his proofs by 2-1, resulting in a piece that proves the opposite of what Fineman contends.
This week's edition of Newsweek was the first magazine to land in our mailbox yesterday, and it probably goes without saying that there is no major Patrick Kennedy coverage in it. In fact, there's just this: a brief mention in the "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box with the note: "Bad news: Woozy wee-hour car wreck sends him to rehab. Good news: Nobody died." And this quote on the "Perspectives" page (number five): "I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions...That's not how I want to live my life...I know that I need help."
That's it. Newsweek's editors could say there was little room for the story to breathe, what with a massive cover story package on AIDS, in which Newsweek acts like a complete copycat of Time magazine by honoring Bill Clinton and Melinda Gates with self-promoting columns. (Clinton's is "Editor's Choice" on the website.) But look at what else they have room for:
As a follow-up to yesterday's item on Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and his new book championing Franklin Roosevelt, we peek at the Washington Post's Sunday book review by historian Alonzo Hamby. Is this company policy? After all, the Post and Newsweek are kissing corporate cousins. (One clue: Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's book also receives the book review today -- two weeks after his big authored piece in the Sunday Outlook section.) The Hamby review is mixed, but here's where the sterner words come in:
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift has certainly never been accused of being an impartial journalist. Quite the contrary, when compared with other antique media members, Clift has to be considered one of the most consistently biased – unashamedly and unapologetically appearing as though the ideas for her columns as well as her screechy sermonettes on “The McLaughlin Group” emanate directly from Democrat talking points in her e-mail inbox.
This is why it must have been shocking for many readers to see the sub-headline of her most recent Newsweek piece (emphasis mine): “The Original Old-Fashioned Liberal: The descendant of Irish immigrants, Ted Kennedy badly wanted a reform bill. In the end, his own party stopped him.”
Now, before you get all excited over the possibility that Eleanor either had an epiphany or a rare moment of clarity, be advised that, in the end, she really didn’t blame the Democrats for anything.