A U.S. News and World Report article identified a lawsuit filed by the publishers of the Oregonian in Portland for the unsealing of documents in a pending case involving the National Security Agency and terrorist surveillance: “In a motion filed Friday, lawyers for the Oregonian Publishing Co. argued that it is in the public interest to know the contents of documents that could prove the existence of a potentially illegal domestic spying program.”
The Oregonian has no pony in this race. Instead, it is clearly muckraking without regard to how it might impact national security and the war on terror:
“‘This appears to be the first case in which documents have been filed with the court demonstrating the National Security Agency's practice of wiretapping private conversations,’ said Charles F. Hinkle, a lawyer for the publishing company. ‘We are not interested in the content of the attorney-client communications. We are interested in what the government did.’"
The case in question involves allegations by the federal government that an Oregon-based Islamic charity has ties to al Qaeda and is funding them. Apparently, one of the charity’s directors gave $130,000 in travelers checks to Chechen rebels in March 2000. The charity’s funds were frozen in February 2004 by the federal government , and the charity was designated as terrorists in September 2004.
Regardless, the Oregonian believes it's acting for the public good:
In a web-exclusive story on the web site of U.S. News & World Report, Senior Writer Jay Tolson's article on Muhammad cartoons is headlined "Matters of Faith: Satanic Cartoonery." Satanic? And no quotes? Since when do they use "Satanic" without quotes and mockery? Tolson comes flat-down in the middle of this controversy, believing that free speech needs some respect, but that freedom has been "abused," as Bill Clinton argued. Hmm...Tolson ends by touting the "high-minded sentiments" of one Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim activist the U.S. State Department banned from teaching at Notre Dame. Tolson's theme is the lines are blurred (and guess who's doing the blurring):
Reactions to the cartoon scandal do not simply fall on two sides of an increasingly blurred line between the Islamic and western worlds.
This year’s Martin Luther King Day celebration was a wild and woolly collection of left-wing blather.
In Washington, showing remarkable feats of amnesia that he was ever vice president in a corrupt administration, Al Gore gave a speech claiming President Bush was a law-breaking president and his illegal actions a threat to the survival of our democracy, an extraordinary accusation for even this man to make, given the same policies were executed by the Clinton-Gore administration.
In New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin announced that God wanted New Orleans to be a “chocolate” city again. When challenged that this might make him sound like a little racist, he dug a deeper hole by claiming whites were the milk in his milk-chocolate shake.
Even in this stew of silliness, Hillary Rodham Clinton still managed to draw headlines for herself by marching into a Baptist church with Al Sharpton in Harlem and giving a fiery speech. First, Hillary sounded the same Clinton-amnesia notes as Gore, charging that President Bush’s team was historically filled with corrupt cronies, that his presidency "will go down in history as one of the worst.” But with Sharpton proudly looking on, she threw the race card on the table with a big, noisy thwack. “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about.” Bush is not only incompetent. Dennis Hastert is a slave master. Laura Bush was right. It was “ridiculous.”
In an amazingly influential way, the New York Times article on NSA intelligence gathering last week has touched off a feeding frenzy in the press, where every outlet is rushing to get out their stories about how the Bush administration is violating the rights of average American citizens in their paranoid fantasy about terrorist enemies. The latest entry comes from U.S. News & World Report as they reveal, in news that's sure to shock America, that the government is actually taking concerns about possible nuclear terrorism seriously.
In search of a terrorist nuclear bomb, the federal government since 9/11 has run a far-reaching, top secret program to monitor radiation levels at over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities, U.S. News has learned.
(Down at the bottom of the piece, we find out that "officials... reject any notion that the program specifically has targeted Muslims. Which means that they're either lying, or putting political correctness ahead of efficiency.) In any event, this is obviously a bad thing.
Oh, you don't think it's obviously a bad thing? Well, read further.
James Taranto begins his Opinion Journal piece today by reporting that the TV show "Journal Editorial Report" will not be discontinued after it leaves PBS. It will be moving to the Fox News Channel beginning in January. Its last PBS airing is December 2. This will no doubt annoy liberals who can't stand the Wall Street Journal's editorialists, but it's quite imaginable that those who like their PBS to be a complete liberal playground will say the Paul Gigot show is moving to its more natural home. It's good news that this smart show continues.
Now for the bad news: AdAge.com reports that U.S. News & World Report is dumping the "On Society" column by John Leo. (He will blog for the U.S. News website.) Your best Ken-Tomlinson-intrigue imitations are invited: is U.S. News taking Leo out of the magazine because he's been so strong in recent years at assailing liberal media bias and inaccuracy?
Since his surprise call on Thursday to withdraw American troops from Iraq, the media have been speaking nothing but high praise for Rep. John Murtha (D-Penn). Yet, the press haven’t always been so fond of the congressman, and their recent love affair with Mr. Murtha is totally ignoring their past depictions of him as being “a leading pork-barrel politician” who is often in the middle of a great deal of questionable spending related to defense contracts.
In fact, many of the headlines Murtha made in the ’90s were specifically connected to projects that he pushed through the House that largely benefited his home district in the state of Pennsylvania. His “earmarking” was so legendary that Roll Call’s Mary Jacoby stated in a February 24, 1994 article that it might have prevented him from becoming the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations:
In the November 7 U.S. News & World Report, editor Brian Duffy announces a beefing-up of his magazine's front section, specifically "eight new pages…to give you more of the news and analysis you've come to depend on." Duffy himself wrote the very first piece in USN&WR’s expanded front of the book -- and it offers more of the gloomy take on the Bush administration that the magazine's readers have come to depend on.
To Duffy, last week wasn't a turning of the corner for President Bush, but rather “one of the worst weeks since he took up residence in the White House.” (Though that assessment is more reasonable than the issue’s cover subhead, which calls the week “the White House’s darkest hour.” Worse than the week of 9/11?)
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.
In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
As reported here by NewsBusters, U.S. News and World Report’s editor-at-large David Gergen on CBS’s “Early Show” last Friday made the claim that the Wilson/Plame affair had some similarities to Watergate. Today on the same program, Gergen changed direction, and is now comparing this “scandal” to former President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings (video link to follow):
“Well, you know, the country went through a large conversation about that just a few years ago about Bill Clinton because the underlying events there with Monica Lewinsky were not illegal. But what he got charged with and what he was impeached by in the house was whether he had lied about it after the fact. So -- and we know -- you know, Harry, going way back to Watergate, that the standing rule -- standard rule in Washington is the cover up is always worse than the crime. So I would be cautious in dismissing the idea that if there's no underlying crime, there's nothing serious about this. Perjury and obstruction of justice have long been regarded as serious crimes. You're expected under the majesty of the law, to tell the truth to investigators. And Richard Thornburgh, a former Republican attorney general, has taken a view, I think rightly, that perjury and obstruction are in and of themselves serious.”
The introductory spread for the lead story in U.S. News & World Report’s October 24 issue could serve as bulletin-board or even wall-poster fodder for fans of the media’s things-just-keep-getting-worse-and-worse-for-President-Bush narrative. Against a black background, a striking mustard-yellow headline and white subhead read, “FACING THE MUSIC/It started with the New Orleans blues. Now it’s sounding like a real dirge.”
U.S. News & World Report's idea of "news" this week is what amounts to another warmed-over press release from the folks at the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center about the far-right threat. The story's headline is: "Fighting Fire On The Right: The Feds Are Keeping An Eye on Homegrown Extremists." (Why is is always just the "Right," not even the "Far Right" or the "Kooky Right"?) It quotes the SPLC, the Anti-Defamation League, a liberal Democratic congressman, an FBI agent who specialized in infiltrating white-supremacist groups, and a bureaucratic spokesman from the Department of Homeland Security. The story hammers DHS for being soft on the right-wing threat.