Back in 2000, after John McCain lost his mostly honorable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he went about apologizing to journalists--including me--for his most obvious mis-step: his support for keeping the confederate flag on the state house.
As NewsBusters reported on September 5, the celebrity gossip magazine "Us Weekly" got inundated by angry subscribers demanding their subscriptions be cancelled after the slick published an issue bashing McCain VP pick Governor Sarah Palin, her family and litle baby Trig.
Well, now it looks like "Us Weekly" is desperate to stem the tide of angry cancellations by offering free issues to anyone upset over the Palin-Bashing issue. Michelle Malkin is reporting that the magazine is sending subscribers an email begging them not to cancel and offering a groveling apology.
That will be followed by observations of commenter "Tom W" (not yours truly) at Pajamas Media.
If they indeed reflect what is happening on the ground, you won't hear about it from the Associated Press, or read it in the New York Times, or see it on the Big Three Networks news or cable shows -- which is why it's so necessary to post items like this here. In fact, it's fair to say that if you were going to see commentary and commenting such as that which follows, it would have occurred already.
What does it say about Sarah Palin that some of my favorite targets, um, subjects raved about her this morning? Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski could hardly have been more complimentary, Tom Brokaw and Jay Carney chipping in with positive comments.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Here was a novice on the national scene, with the lowest of expectations. People said sure, she'll be able to perform. But it was an amazing, amazing speech in terms of the way it connected to people. I talked to people afterwards on the floor, a lot of women. One woman from California who said it didn't matter that she, this woman delegate, is pro-choice. She said "I'm a mom. I've got three kids at home. And I see myself up there." And she's connecting to her. She said "I did not think this was a good choice until I heard that speech." Now this is admittedly a select audience of very passionate and very conservative Republican delegates. But I think there is a broader audience for this out there. I think it was an extraordinary debut.
When NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd passed along comments from Dem strategists suggesting the speech might have been "a little too hot" for swing voters, Andrea and Mika actually rode to Palin's defense.
If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
I'm slightly perplexed by the various Republican efforts to express outrage over the press and Democratic reaction to Bristol Palin's pregnancy. Maybe I'm missing something, but I haven't heard or read a single journalist--or Democrat--say that this was anything other than a private matter. In fact, Barack Obama, the son of an 18-year-old mother, was vehement and eloquent on that subject yesterday. I've got to think this is a McCain smokescreen to divert attention from the real issue here: how and why McCain selected this tyro.
Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as pro-life Democrats. And yes, there are some in Denver at the party's nominating convention, even if the mainstream media don't interview them.
Christianity Today has found a few and has been covering them at the magazine's CTPolitics blog. But if you are looking for tough questions, you won't find them from staffer Sarah Pulliam in her interview with Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski.
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):
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.
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.)
Elizabeth Edwards authorized a friend to attack John Edwards over his infamous "she was in remission" interview on Nightline. That's the stunning assertion of Sandra Westfall, the "People" magazine writer who authored the article [excerpt here] containing the friend's crticism. Westfall was a guest on tonight's Verdict with Dan Abrams.
DAN ABRAMS: Sandra, let me start with you.Is it fair to say that the story that you guys have in this week's magazine is effectively Elizabeth Edwards' side of the story?
SANDRA WESTFALL: You know, she authorized her brother and her best friend to speak to me on her behalf.
This doesn't qualify as any kind of surprise, but it should be noted nonetheless.
Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama gave a stunningly downbeat assessment of the nation's overall situation in a response to a seven year-old girl who asked him why he is running for president. Obama's media water-carriers have virtually ignored his very telling response, one that is reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's gloomiest, malaise-based assessments of America during his awful presidency.
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.
Pitching a mix of softballs and loaded questions, US News & World Report writer Jay Tolson failed to press Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson with any queries from a conservative, orthodox Christian perspective in his July 30 interview with "The Gay Bishop at the Center of the Anglican Storm."
Indeed, at one point Tolson prodded Robinson to criticize the worldwide Anglican Communion for doing little to stop conservative breakaways from the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church USA:
You wouldn't even want the communion to bring an end to conservatives' efforts to create new jurisdictions or allow conservative jurisdictions (such as the Church of Nigeria) to bring breakaway congregations in other provinces under their authority?
When he wasn't asking "how does this make you feel" type questions about his treatment by conservative clergy, Tolson presented conservative Episcopals and Anglicans as "unyielding" on "hot-button issues," forgetting perhaps that religious faith is predicated on beliefs about eternal truths that are non-negotiable:
Rush Limbaugh likes to joke that he has "half my brain tied behind my back, just to keep it fair." But there's no sign Michelle Obama [file photo] was anything but serious when she said something similar in a current People magazine interview, h/t Michelle Malkin. Mrs. Obama claimed she could be "very competent" on policy putting in only a 70% effort.
Throw in a few more statements from Mrs. Obama during the interview attesting to her own intellect, and a picture emerges of a woman either very sure--or insecure--about her smarts.
Newsweek’s love for Barack Obama knows no bounds. After Obama’s speech in Berlin, Newsweek published a headline that suggests an editor who’s spent six days drunk on a merry-go-round: "Obama’s Reagan Moment." That deserves the Lloyd Bentsen retort: "I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan."
The Newsweek piece sneered that while Obama and John Kennedy spoke to more than a hundred thousand people, Reagan spoke to a much smaller audience, "only about 20,000," and they were outnumbered by leftist protesters the night before. They recalled, "Even some of Reagan’s aides were embarrassed by the ‘tear down this wall’ line thinking it was too provocative or grandiose." Newsweek would concede only that "Reagan understood stagecraft," and communism’s fall "made his words prescient."
In other words, the Gipper was a showboat who got lucky.
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.)
Free market capitalism is a much-despised bogeyman to the mainstream media, as our friends at MRC's Business & Media Institute can attest.
So it's somewhat refreshing to find one article in a major media publication -- okay, it's actually Newsweek -- that seems to lament the entrepreneur-choking nature of government regulation.
Of course, the regulatory state in question happens to be the highly undemocratic Communist China, but in the July 28 edition article, "Taking Away Olympic Fun," Mary Hennock and Manuela Zoninsein lament that "Visitors to the Games will find the newly spruced-up Beijing cleaner -- and blander.":
You might think that a tidal wave of denunciation would ensue if a cartoon depicting John McCain being tortured in a bamboo cage by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and another person (who might be George W. Bush) were to appear in a supposedly respectable or trendy publication.
You might further think that giving McCain's three torturers stereotypically exaggerated Asian features would only further fuel the outrage.
Sorry to disappoint you, but the cartoon involved appeared last month in Rolling Stone. As far as I can tell, what you are about to see has produced not a single ripple of protest (HT Taxman Blog via tip from Weapons of Mass Discussion):
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.
Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom for its July 7 dead tree edition gives an approving up arrow for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), noting that he is "[s]urging in national polls" before adding the cautionary note to "beware looking like just another politician."
But the real CW in DC this past week, which saw the Supreme Court affirm the individual's right to keep and bear arms, is that Obama has flip-flopped on the Second Amendent, something the editors at Newsweek most certainly must know.
Given how fundamental Barack Obama's former position was to his credibility as a candidate during the Democratic primaries, I'd say it's yet another a full-fledged, full-throated flip-flop, accompanied by a fundamentally flawed reading of the Bush Administration's current policy -- both of which we can be confident Old Media will try to ignore.
Hegseth explains (link to transcript added by me; other links are in original; bolds are mine):
Recent reports and rumors have indicated that Senator Obama plans to aggressively move to the middle on Iraq in the coming months. This is a good political move for Obama, if only because he’s finally starting to recognize reality. However, it's no surprise that he will continue to try and have it both ways: moderating his withdrawal language without giving any credit to surge/Petraeus advocates.
PBS's Bonnie Erbe hosts that network's weekly news analysis program, "To the Contrary with Bonnie Erbe," is a weekly columnist for Scripps Howard Newspapers, and blogs at USNews.com.
Erbe called for the impeachment of George Bush in February 2006. Anyone looking through her Scripps Howard archive will conclude that she can't possibly be labeled a conservative ideologue -- which is why her take on the attempt by CNN's John Lewis to make it appear as if both the Obama and McCain campaigns are equally hampered by flip-flops is so compelling.
Here's how "A battle of accused political 'flip-flops'," the CNN report at which Erbe takes umbrage, begins:
Days after both men reversed course on major issues, the presidential campaigns of Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain spent much of Sunday's talk-show circuit working to ensure accusations of "flip-flopping" don't stick.
Give Hanna Rosin at The Atlantic Online credit for investigating something most journalists wouldn't even think of touching. Her article is a long read, but an important one.
Rosin's report out of Memphis (HT Instapundit) chronicles how a criminologist husband and his housing-expert wife made a correlation that makes so much sense, you just know it will encounter fierce resistance from media and political elites (bolds are mine):
(Richard) Janikowski might not have managed to pinpoint the cause of this pattern (of spreading crime) if he hadn’t been married to Phyllis Betts, a housing expert at the University of Memphis. ..... Betts had been evaluating the impact of one of the city government’s most ambitious initiatives: the demolition of the city’s public-housing projects, as part of a nationwide experiment to free the poor from the destructive effects of concentrated poverty. Memphis demolished its first project in 1997. The city gave former residents federal “Section 8” rent-subsidy vouchers and encouraged them to move out to new neighborhoods. Two more waves of demolition followed over the next nine years, dispersing tens of thousands of poor people into the wider metro community.
It's just a matter of time now before NBC brings back "Fear Factor" the next time the network does a "Green is Universal" pitch.
Time.com this morning has a video feature on "How to Cook Bugs." The tease on the front page insists that "[a] great way to save the planet may be to stop eating beef and munch on crickets instead."
Insisted the video narrator:
If you can get beyond the ick factor, insects like grasshoppers can actually be a healthy, low-fat source of protein and vitamins. And when you realize how much land, food, and water it takes to produce cattle, then maybe raising crickets for food isn't such a bad deal for the earth.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the June 2 "Fox & Friends" to discuss Sen. Barack Obama's decision to leave the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ and the fact that Obama has appeared on the cover of 11 news magazines since the beginning of the year.
Partial transcript below by MRC intern Peter Sasso [audio available here]:
STEVE DOOCY, "Fox & Friends" co-host: Brent, so things heated up when the Catholic priest a week ago said some crazy stuff there at the pulpit at Trinity United. But we should go back a little bit. Barack Obama initially joined that particular church because it had a huge power base and if he wanted to get established in Chicago politics, he had to join it.
BRENT BOZELL, Media Research Center President: That's right. I mean and it's now become the home for whack jobs. But, you know, you look at his resignation yesterday and you just ask yourself why does this man do things half way? Why can't he go all the way? Did he resign because there is something wrong with that church? No. In fact, in resigning, he said I'm not saying this. He said this. Very emphatically, that he absolutely refuses to denounce that church. If you absolutely refuse to denounce that church, why did you leave it?
Doesn't Mika Brzezinski have any Republicans in her Rolodex? With Joe Scarborough home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby, Mika has been filling in as anchor, and I sense doing much of the show's booking [mention is often made of her work in that regard]. Today's guest lineup consisted of six Dems/liberals versus a sole Republican, brought in almost at show's end.
Here's the list, in order of appearance, of today's political guests coming from outside the NBC/MSNBC family [Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell also appeared as guests, and Harold Ford, Jr. and Pat Buchanan served as panelists]:
Jonathan Capehart--WaPo editorial writer
Ted Sorensen--former JFK speechwriter
Doris Kearns Goodwin--historian and former LBJ aide
Tom Daschle--former Dem senator [check out the spiffy red spectacles]
Terry McAuliffe--Clinton campaign chairman
Jon Meacham--Newsweek editor and contributing editor of the center-left Washington Monthly