As my colleague Brent Baker noted earlier this morning, the "[m]ost prevalent theme during Tuesday night's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama feud" was "TV journalists worrying about how the Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters." The speeches weren't full of "red meat" to toss to the ravenous partisan crowd, lamented broadcast journalists.
But the complaint isn't constrained to the broadcast media. Evaluating the Tuesday night speeches for Time magazine, reporter Mark Halperin has given the best marks to Democrats who have tossed out meatiest attack lines.
Below is a breakdown of Halperin's grades and comments on the key speeches thus far. You'll notice that the pols with the lower marks tend to be faulted for failing to give the convention hall a healthy serving of red meat. We'll have to see how Halperin grades Republicans next week and if right-wing sirloin is slapped as grade A beef or slapped with a recall label (emphases mine):
ABC's George Stephanopoulos clearly had John McCain's houses on his mind Sunday, for during the latest installment of "This Week," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's real estate holdings were discussed with every guest.
What Stephanopoulos may not have expected was Time's Mark Halperin claiming that "this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it's Barack Obama."
Adding delicious insult to injury, much to Democrat strategist Donna Brazile's dismay, Halperin saw the Obama campaign's attack on McCain not knowing how many houses he owns as opening the door for the Arizona senator to bring up the Illinois senator's connections to Tony Rezko, Reverend Wright, and William Ayers (video embedded right, partial transcript follows):
Correction/Author's Clarification: Since I wrote this, Time has added two vice presidents to its list, one of them Henry Wallace. There were originally 13 VPs named; now there are 15. The cache page of the first VP listed, Aaron Burr, shows him as "1 of 13." I don't know for how long that will be shown. Is someone at Time reading NewsBusters?
Any such list by its very nature is nothing more than subjective opinion. And in Time's opinion, every vice president in this century who warrants such scorn is a Republican. Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney are on the list.
Perhaps it's the pied piper effect, but when Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama speaks, the media follow right along in lockstep.
The word "disaster" can invoke images of the aftermath of hurricanes, tornados or tsunamis. But, on the campaign trail where there are political points to be scored - it's one quarter of a slight economic contraction followed up by two quarters of shallow economic growth, according to Obama.
"Then he started running ads saying oh, Obama's just going to raise your taxes and he'll lead to an economic disaster," Obama told his campaign audience. "Mr. McCain, let me explain to you, the economic disaster is happening right now. Maybe you haven't noticed."
Don't want to take Rush's word for it? How about Mark Halperin's? The editor of Time's "The Page" thinks the choice by John McCain of a pro-choice running mate would be nothing short of a "disaster." Halperin expressed his view during an appearance today on CNN's American Morning.
KIRAN CHETRY: What about some potential running mates for John McCain? Because there's been a lot of talk all over talk radio. A lot of people are saying if he tries to go with somebody who's pro-choice like a Lieberman, that that would be it for the base: a big deflation for the convention.
MARK HALPERIN: Look, so many of the people who go to the convention in St. Paul are going to be pro-life, and very strongly pro-life. I think it would be a disaster for him to pick someone who was not in agreement with the party platform on abortion.
Having seen photo propaganda used in the media to benefit Barack Obama, one has to wonder if it will be equally important to circulate a picture that may not show the 'savior' in a particularly good light.
As such, a ticket design for the Democratic National Convention has been accompanied by a bit of controversy.
The credential appears to show an upside-down American flag on both sides. What's worse, the front makes it appear as if Obama is cloaked in the flag, as the stars are almost visually equivalent to his shirt. In fact, Matt Chandler speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign states:
"...it is a stylized flag designed to blend the stars on Senator Obama's shirt with the flag blowing in the wind."
The first question that arises is why would a man who once refused to wear the American flag on his lapel, be interested in sporting a patriotic shirt, overflowing with stars?
This week’s Time magazine doesn’t only conclude that John McCain is as un-American as al-Qaeda for mocking Obama’s celebrity. They go on to worry about the old man’s Internet illiteracy, such a contrast to Obama, "well known to be a BlackBerry addict." In an article titled "The Offline American," writer Lev Grossman suggested McCain’s statement that "I don’t e-mail" and relies on his wife for help makes him too clueless to make decisions about the Internet. The liberals have figured out how to use McCain’s age and experience against him, claiming he’s not qualified to rule the Internet: "if you can't grasp that structure, how can you lead the people who live and work in it?"
Time completely ignores McCain's leadership of the Senate Commerce Commitee, a center of Congress's technology policy-making, and McCain's proposed tech agenda. Grossman says McCain’s staff is backpedaling (and some of McCain’s self-deprecating commentary is meant to be jokey and exaggerating), but he asserts McCain is dangerously lacking:
On the grand scale of wired politicians, he's probably somewhere between recently indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who famously described the Internet as a "series of tubes," and our current President, who once proudly explained to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo how he uses "the Google." (As for Obama, he's well known to be a BlackBerry addict.)
In this week’s Time magazine, TV writer James Poniewozik laments the McCain’s campaign against Barack Obama’s celebrity in an eye-popping way: he says it’s "almost unpatriotic," and that in denigrating America’s celebrity culture, McCain’s like "al-Qaeda and the French." Here’s the graf:
Why, after all, is celebrity an insult? Personal magnetism, the ability to galvanize attention and rally masses: this is a bad quality in a Chief Executive? J.F.K. and Ronald Reagan managed to soldier on with this handicap. Besides, celebrity is America's chief international export. There's something almost unpatriotic about denigrating it; it's like insulting Obama by comparing him to a GMC truck. (You know who complains about American celebrity culture? Al-Qaeda and the French, that's who!)
This is one of those media moments to remember when the suggest that political commercials are far too negative. Which is more negative? McCain throwing in pictures of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton for a jokey two seconds, or Time suggesting McCain’s like al-Qaeda?
It’s probably not surprising that a columnist who’s boldly liberal enough to declare "I don’t support the troops" and mock Christianity as a "death cult" would talk family members into supporting Barack Obama for president. In this week’s Time magazine, columnist and "humorist" Joel Stein writes about how he worked to convert his liberal Hillary-favoring grandmother in Fort Lauderdale into an Obama voter and puzzled over how Obama can win over Florida Jews. He was "elated" he won his grandma over for Obama:
As I sensed Mama Ann was changing her mind for no good reason, I started to wonder what my good reasons for supporting Obama were. Did I really think that he'd get us out of Iraq all that much faster, that he could actually deliver health care to everyone or that he'd erase the anger between the parties and races? This is a guy, after all, who is no better than I am at stopping his grandmother from saying racist things. Sure, I like that Obama makes people feel optimistic and willing to give, but if I really liked that, I'd have a better attitude toward Scientologists. The truth is, I like Obama because he's young and eats arugula and knows who Ludacris is. Because he's the closest thing to the person I'd really like to vote for: me.
UPDATE, Aug. 6 -- The media fact-checker overview begins here, and continues below the fold:
"..... all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling" Obama refers to is NOT just the 200,000 additional barrels obtainable from the "Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions." Republican proposals also include Alaska, shale oil, and tar sands.
Just including Alaska coastal at very conservative extraction assumptions leads to a potential of almost 1 million barrels of oil a day instead of only 200,000.
Fully ramped-up production from shale oil and tar sands at very conservative extraction assumptions would lead to a potential of another 27 million (you read that right) barrels a day.
An August 4 Time magazine article by Michael Grunwald comes to Sen. Barack Obama’s defense against Republican claims that his energy policy of keeping tires properly inflated is a joke. The article, entitled "The Tire-Gauge Solution: No Joke," argues that if everyone were to keep their tires properly inflated and keep up with regular auto maintenance, demand for gasoline would immediately be reduced by several percentage points whereas offshore drilling would only meet one percent of America’s demand two decades from now:
The Bush Administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 bbl. per day by 2030. We use about 20 million bbl. per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone did, we could immediately reduce demand several percentage points. In other words: Obama is right.
Grunwald also used this opportunity to promote energy conservation, claiming that:
For most of us, the choice of plastic bags at the grocery store aisle doesn't equal the moral depravity of canicide. Yet for some reason, a cheeky writer for Time magazine suggested as much in her story on "The Patron Saint of Plastic Bags" (emphasis mine):
In the pantheon of lost causes, defending the plastic grocery bag would seem to be right up there with supporting smoking on planes or the murder of puppies. The ubiquitous thin white bag has moved squarely beyond eyesore into the realm of public nuisance, a symbol of waste and excess and the incremental destruction of nature. But where there's an industry at risk, there's an attorney, and the plastic bag's advocate in chief is Stephen L. Joseph, head of the quixotically titled Save the Plastic Bag campaign.
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz continued his mission of exposing the absurd amount of coverage the media are giving to Barack Obama as compared to John McCain.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz amazingly asked his guests, "Where does journalism get off saying it's OK to give one candidate twice as much coverage -- this week, I would say four times as much coverage -- as the other candidate running for president?"
This followed last Sunday's warning by Kurtz that "there could be a big backlash against news organizations if this trend continues":
Time magazine isn’t satisfied with reporting the news. It wants to play both journalist and lobbyist. Their website announced: "TIME is helping to lead a major push to make national service a priority in Washington. And we want you to get involved". In his "To Our Readers" article this week, Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel announced that Time has joined in a lobbying group called "Service Nation" to promote legislation for more federal government programs of volunteering. If the phrase "more federal government programs of volunteering" sounds strange, you’re not on Time’s wavelength.
Once again, Time is promoting a program led by recent Time cover-story honorees. The magazine will help host a September summit starring one-time Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who shared a cover last June. (Ironically, that story was headlined "Who Needs Washington?" Now Time declares that Washington must lead on volunteerism.)
Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel told the hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on July 17 that "there's incredible despair out there and there's a sense that, that something needs to be done and people have kind of an appetite for big government in a way" in America.
Stengel was citing a new poll, but the interview did not discuss the fact that the poll also found 80 percent of respondents said they should be responsible for carrying their own financial burdens.
The poll was a joint effort of Time magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation, an organization Stengel characterized as "on a mission themselves to help the American worker and find out about the economy."
Could that be political?
"If you say that favors Barack Obama, maybe it does, I don't know," Stengel said.
Yes, it's unscientific and it is a Web poll, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but a Time.com survey today finds 61 percent of respondents think that, yes, America is a nation of whiners.
The screen grab at right was taken shortly before 12:45 p.m. EDT. Around 12:30, when I first saw the poll, the numbers were similar: 60-40.
Here's how the question was worded: "As Phil Gramm suggests, is America a 'nation of whiners'?"
I'd suggest a follow up Web poll: "Is the mainstream media collectively a profession of whiners?" For more on that, see my colleague Scott Whitlock's post on how the media refuse to take responsibility for their role in hyping doom and gloom to make America's economic woes seem worse than they objectively are.
Exploring the notion that some Anglican parishes could soon return to full communion with Rome in protest of the Church of England allowing ordination of female bishops, Time magazine writers David Van Biema and Jeff Israely felt it necessary to throw in some loaded language about how English conservative Anglicans are different than their American Episcopal cousins:
Both the special nature of the English crisis and the Pope's possible involvement hinge on the fact that most of the English dissidents this week are not the evangelical, Bible-thumping members of the Communion whose fury at the American ordination of an openly gay bishop has led to talks of schism this summer. Rather they are members of a faction, heavy on liturgy and ritual, that abhors evangelicalism but considers itself very close to the Catholicism from which the Anglican Church originally sprang.
But wait, if conservative Anglicans across the Pond are about to bolt their church because the Bible forbids female bishops, how is that any less "Bible-thumping" than conservative Episcopals in the United States leaving the church because of openly homosexual bishops, a practice that also runs afoul of Scripture?
Here we go again. Another relic pops up of questionable authenticity that one or two experts is saying casts doubts on the unique claims of Christian orthodoxy. So of course Time.com put the story of the so-called "Gabriel's Revelation" tablet in its July 7 top stories lineup (see screencap at right), with the teaser headline, "Was Jesus' Resurrection a Sequel?"
The story by David Van Biema and Tim McGirk breathlessly began by noting how this "revelation" could set some orthodox Christians on edge:
A 3-ft.-high tablet romantically dubbed "Gabriel's Revelation" could challenge the uniqueness of the idea of the Christian Resurrection. The tablet appears to date authentically to the years just before the birth of Jesus and yet - at least according to one Israeli scholar - it announces the raising of a messiah after three days in the grave. If true, this could mean that Jesus' followers had access to a well-established paradigm when they decreed that Christ himself rose on the third day - and it might even hint that they they could have applied it in their grief after their master was crucified.
But then Van Biema and McGirk dialed it down a bit (emphasis mine):
Time columnist Joe Klein’s article in the magazine this week is titled "Kill Your Air Conditioner." Klein detests the quality of air-conditioned air, and thinks everyone in America ought to live to his tastes: "The unnecessary refrigeration of America has become a chronic disease." Air-conditioning is "bad for the planet," he writes, but "Unfortunately, it is not as bad as I’d like it to be." He sides with Jimmy Carter and the "dreadful cardigan sweater" over the Bush-Cheney policy of "malignant neglect." Klein says we should break out the thermostat police as a presidential campaign issue. "I'd like to see both candidates call for an immediate 5deg.F thermostat adjustment, just to get the conservation ball rolling."
No one should ever suggest that liberals always believe "If it feels good, do it," at least when it comes to consumer comforts. How does Klein foresee checking up on every American’s thermostat adjustment? Or would the nanny state begin by cracking down on hotels and commercial buildings? Klein began his lecture by lamenting how an innkeeper had to keep the AC on for a 75-degree day:
I'm still trying to figure out who died and made Joe "Anonymous" Klein Time magazine's foreign policy expert-in-residence. The sometime presidential primary fiction writer apparently thinks John McCain's statement on the Bush administration's nuclear deal with North Korea is too "grudging":
...Congratulations to George W. Bush for finally making the correct choice--diplomatic engagement, regional talks that enabled quiet unofficial contacts with the North Koreans, which then led to direct negotiations--in resolving this dispute. Wonder what John Bolton is thinking this morning?
Update: John McCain has just released this statement, which is a bit too grudging for my taste, but does raise the appropriate questions going forward
So let's see: Klein praises Bush but takes a mild swipe at Sen. McCain for having the gall to suggest that North Korea might not live up to its word, which it clearly has a history of doing.
In a statement reminiscent of Howard Dean’s controversial statement from 2005 about the RNC and "people of color," Time magazine columnist Joe Klein blasted Karl Rove’s recent slam of Barack Obama on Monday’s "Election Center" program on CNN. "I just think that the image is kind of hilarious when you think about it: Barack Obama at a country club sipping a martini. It's kind of a parody of the Republican view of the world. Everybody belongs to -- since when [did] we start letting people like Barack Obama into Republican country clubs?"
"People like Barack Obama"? That sounds like Dean’s "You think the RNC could get this many people of color into a single room?... Maybe if they got the hotel staff in there."
"Election Center" substitute host Wolf Blitzer read Rove’s quote earlier in the segment, which began 22 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program: "Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall, and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."
Can those rascally Republicans once again dupe otherwise well-educated, smart pro-choice women into sacrificing their womb on the altar of Republican presidential power?!
That's the sentiment you might expect from deep within the bowels of NARAL Pro-Choice America or Planned Parenthood, but it was essentially the question that Time's Amy Sullivan posed in her June 23 article, "Will Pro-Choice Women Back McCain?"
Sullivan's thesis boiled down to this: pro-life Republican candidates do as well as they do with some pro-choice voters because they throw out some bones trot out their pro-choice spouses and pro-choice feature speakers at Republican conventions to throw pro-choice Republicans and independents a bone, while Democrats are ham-handed in their efforts to downplay their pro-choice policies (emphasis mine):
Time magazine is taking the lead on the Gloucester, Massachusetts "pregnancy pact" story, but its story is actually quite brief. Even so, Time is attempting to blame movies that didn’t tout abortion. On its home page for this week's magazine, Time’s blurb reads: "Postcard Gloucester: A Massachusetts fishing town tries to understand why so many of its teenagers made a pact to get pregnant. How one school is grappling with the Juno effect".
As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies -- more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers.
Time magazine writer Michael Lindenberger's dispatch "From Gay Marriage's Ground Zero," read more like puffy campaign literature for the liberal Democratic mayor of San Francisco than an objective news piece.
Same-sex couples began marrying late Monday night in courthouse ceremonies across California, putting triumphantly happy human faces on a debate that is nevertheless far from over. Crowds turned out to welcome - and, for some, to protest - weddings in Beverly Hills, Oakland and the wine country north of San Francisco.
Later in his piece, Lindenberger took at face value Newsom's recollection of how he decided in 2004 to challenge state law and grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Those "marriages" were later invalidated of course, but the recent decision by California's highest court paved the way for gay weddings, at least between now and November when a ballot initiative may outlaw same-sex marriage.
Lindenberger dutifully transcribed Newsom's insistence that he didn't know how big a deal his civil disobedience would be:
Has NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory turned over a new leaf?
Gregory, who has earned a lot of critics for having an anti-Bush/liberal bias, made it seem that way during a discussion about ethics in politics and journalism Thursday. He claimed to struggle with Jewish teachings about saying bad things about others - at least when it comes to Democrats.