Who was Anwar Al Awlaki and why did the U.S. government kill him in a 2011 drone strike, despite his U.S. citizenship?
The latter question has been answered with the court-ordered release of a Justice Department memo justifying the action. Awlaki, held “operational and leadership roles” in Al Qaeda in Yemen and “continue[d] to plot attacks intended to kill Americans.”
The first question – who he was – is one many in the media won’t be too eager to revisit, because they got it spectacularly wrong for a long time.
Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik had some harsh words for MSNBC and NBC News Sunday in the wake of Martin Bashir’s vile comments about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
After accusing MSNBC of debasing “our civic and political conversation on cable TV,” Zurawik asked Fox News MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, “Where are people like Tom Brokaw and Chuck Todd who claim to speak for NBC News and the brand? Why haven't they called Bashir out and the lack of punishment for him?” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D) is in hot water today after the Baltimore Sun released a photograph showing the gubernatorial candidate in the middle of a raging underage-drinking party at a vacation home in Delaware. Gansler insisted he was merely there to check in on his 18-year-old son, who was attending the rager, and that breaking up the party was none of his business.
Billionaire philanthropists and conservative donors Charles and David Koch are not interested in purchasing newspapers currently owned by the Tribune Company.
A spokeswoman for Koch Industries confirmed this officially Thursday after the Daily Caller filed an item based upon anonymous sources saying the brothers did not wish to purchase the newspapers which include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.
"Mainstream media" are alarmed by reports that billionaires Charles and David Koch are considering the purchase of Tribune Company's eight daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.
When Warren Buffett spent $344 million to purchase 28 newspapers, there were mostly sighs of relief from journalists glad to keep their jobs. However, reaction to reports of the Koch brothers' interest in buying the Tribune papers was quite different. Charles and David Koch, you see, are conservative libertarians, not liberals. Will the Kochs, gasp, force their conservatism on readers? Will they sully journalism's good name? Truth is, no one knows what the Kochs plan to do.
Suffice it to say the media coverage of the recent tragedy was an abject failure. Perhaps the most egregious example was how CNN initially reported that Ryan Lanza, brother of the real shooter Adam Lanza, was the culprit eliciting screenshots and information about his Facebook account that was disseminated on the Internet – and on the airwaves. David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun wrote on December 14 that:
Since ascending to the head of the Democratic Governor’s Association last year, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has been fashioning a national profile for himself as a responsible fiscal steward of Maryland’s finances. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun are dutifully helping O’Malley perpetuate that fiction.
O’Malley released his fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget last month, which includes, among other taxes, an income tax hike for 20 percent of taxpayers to close a $1 billion structural deficit.
With the news that an American air strike has killed the U.S.-born head of Al Quaeda in Yemen, Anwar Al Awlaki, the media will explain his significance in the terrorist organization, and his role in inspiring the Ft. Hood shooter and the “underwear bomber.” What they probably won’t tell you is that they once celebrated Al Awlaki as a “moderate” and a bridge-builder “between Islam and the West.”
Awlaki once served as imam of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Northern Virginia, the very same place that attracted many of the 9/11 hijackers and, later, Major Nadal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter.
Today marks 174 years that the Baltimore Sun has been in print. As part of their celebration, the Charm City broadsheet has an "Historic Baltimore Sun front pages" feature that includes a mix of momentous events in Baltimore, American and world history such as the 1904 fire, the Lincoln assassination, and D-Day.
But it's also a feature that's capped off with two gushy Obama-related front pages.
Last Friday the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The bill had already cleared the state senate and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has said he will sign the bill.
Today's Baltimore Sun devoted sympathetic front-page coverage to illegal immigrants who now "celebrate the approval of in-state tuition for Maryland students regardless of immigration status."
"I want to be a part," blared the front-page headline to Nick Madigan's A-1 story. Below the headline is a picture of "Missael, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who lives in East Baltimore."
The Baltimore Sun has no trouble noting for readers the political affiliation of politicians who face an ethical scandal and/or official investigation. That is, of course, if the pol in question is a Republican.
Last Wednesday, I noted how the Sun's Julie Scharper failed to note Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Democratic party affiliation in a story about her voting on city contracts where her husband's company had a competing bid.
The very next day, however, Scharper's colleague Nicole Fuller promptly noted the Republican affiliation of two-term Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold. Here's how Fuller opened her story:
"Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has voted to approve more than $900,000 in deals with Johns Hopkins since her husband began working for one of its divisions late last year — a possible violation of the city ethics code."
That's how the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper began her March 16 story -- published last night online here -- about the Democratic mayor's votes on the city's board that authorizes spending for public contracts.
Yet Scharper failed to note Rawlings-Blake's Democratic Party affiliation.
At the time, Carhart refused to disclose where he would open his D.C.-area clinic, but said that it would be in a jurisdiction that was favorable to abortion.
"The laws are more favorable in these other jurisdictions, and we're going to do the maximum the law allows," Carhart told the Washington Post.
Stein filed an 8-paragraph follow-up story in today's Post, having received new information from an abortion clinic official that Carhart would be joining that clinic, based in Germantown, Md. That follow-up story, however, was buried at the bottom of page 10 of the paper's December 1 Metro section.
In Maryland, Prince George's County's top elected official, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (pictured at right on NB's home page) was arrested yesterday, and "is accused of accepting cash in return for helping a developer secure federal funding."
Johnson's wife, a recently elected councilperson, was also arrested yesterday. The couple are both accused of "tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense, and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation."
The linked article at Gazette.net does not identify the Johnsons' political party affiliation. When this failure to identify occurs, it typically means that the politicians involved are Democrats. As expected, the Johnson are indeed Dems (Jack; Leslie).
Sadly, it is not at all surprising that there is a virtual blackout on the Johnsons' party affiliation:
The Baltimore Sun's media critic is still fuming about MSNBC's pathetic coverage on election night.
In his piece published Saturday, David Zurawik called the cable news network a "liberal prep school" while claiming the behavior of folks like Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell, and Keith Olbermann was "so egregious" that the "entire realm of TV journalism was diminished in the public mind":
Fired NPR news analyst Juan Williams is firing back at critics of Fox News Channel. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Williams said Fox management is "much more enlightened" than executives at other news outlets, from NPR to CNN:
"At NPR they don't know this: A third of the audience for Bill O'Reilly's show is made up of people of color," Williams said. "At NPR, they think, `Oh, these people who watch Fox don't appreciate diversity of opinion, they're not smart people. They're not informed people. Oh, yeah? I'll tell you what: They're informed."
...Williams said NPR "just doesn't understand the Fox audience" -- or have any idea how much more enlightened Fox News management is in some ways compared with news outlets like NPR, CNBC or CNN.
When it comes to so-called Super PACs spending money on TV ads targeting swing House districts, the Baltimore Sun seems to care a lot more about who's behind Republican ones than Democratic operations.
Yesterday I noted how Sun staffer Paul West wrote about a PAC running ads against freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil (Md.).
West portrayed the PAC's ads as a clever end-run around campaign contribution limits for Baltimore-area businessman Daniel Schuster.
Opening his October 18 article on a tight House race in Maryland that's garnered national attention, Baltimore Sun's Paul West trotted out the typical liberal lament about corporate money in politics (emphasis mine):
Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik on Friday used the ultimate liberal insult when he compared Keith Olbermann to Joe McCarthy. Writing about the left-wing cable host's role in the suspension of MSNBC anchor Donny Deutsch, Zurawik mocked, "Olbermann tries to talk like he's Edward R. Murrow, but he operates in the dirty tradition of Joe McCarthy." [Emphasis added.]
Zurawik has also hammered conservatives, calling Robert Novak "a very dark force" in cable news less than two hours after Novak passed away in August 2009, so it's saying something that he's unleashed on Olbermann.
MSNBC suspended Deutsch on Wednesday, after he included Olbermann in a segment on angry cable hosts. Zurawik didn't hold back as he derided, "...Here I come to write once again about what a reckless TV figure Keith Olbermann is -- and how irresponsible MSNBC and NBC News management are for giving him a national platform and the network's credibility to spread his innuendo, invective and smears."
In a 15-paragraph story filed yesterday afternoon, Baltimore Sun's Justin Fenton reported how a police cruiser was dispatched at all times during the recent snowstorms to watch over the house of the city's disgraced ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon (D).
You'll recall Dixon was convicted of misappropriating donated gift cards intended for distribution to needy constituents. Instead, Dixon used them on her own personal shopping spree.
Pursuant to a plea deal on another criminal charge, Dixon resigned from her mayoral post on February 4.
Fenton did an excellent job reporting the story and noting the controversy engendered by the city devoting resources for a felonious ex-politician. Yet nowhere in his story did he note that Dixon is a Democrat.
Despite being convicted of stealing gift cards intended for poor Baltimore residents and using them for her own personal shopping spree, outgoing Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) will still be able to collect a mayoral pension after she resigns from office early next month.
Reported Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper:
Dixon pleaded guilty last week to one count of perjury for failing to disclose on city ethics forms the gifts she received from a developer. As part of a plea deal, she will keep her $83,000 pension. She will receive probation before judgment for the perjury count and the embezzlement conviction. She also must donate $45,000 to charity and is banned from seeking city funds to pay her legal bills or working for the city or state during her probationary period.
This development, understandably, has quite a few Baltimoreans outraged, so Sun editors gave Scharper 25 paragraphs to report on incoming interim mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's pledge to look into the pension system and sew up loopholes that allow for convicts like Dixon to benefit from taxpayers in their retirement from public service.
Yet nowhere in Scharper's January 12 article was Dixon's Democratic Party affiliation mentioned, nor the fact that Council President Rawlings-Blake and the rest of the city council are likewise all Democrats.
Nowhere in their 9-paragraph breaking news article filed at 3:44 p.m. EST today did Baltimore Sun reporters Liz F. Kay and Liz Bowie note Dixon is a Democrat, even though her party has a monopoly on the city's elected officials and has for decades.
Dixon, you may recall, was convicted in December for misappopriating gift cards donated to her office and intended for distribution to needy Baltimore residents. Instead, Dixon used some of the cards for a personal shopping spree. In effect, she was convicted of robbing from the poor to benefit herself.
Last night the Baltimore City Council became the first in the nation to pass a law that would require pro-life crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post in writing disclaimers noting that they do not provide abortion services or contraceptives nor refer women to persons or clinics who do.
Reporting the story in the November 24 paper, the Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper quoted the bill's author and council president Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) heralding the passage of the bill as "a step towards making sure that women have the information they need to make the right decision for their health and their future."
Yet Scharper failed to point out to readers that Rawlings-Blake actually voted against an amendment that would also apply her standard to abortion clinics. Reported George P. Matysek Jr. of The Catholic Review on November 17:
Twelve days ago I noted how the Baltimore Sun failed to mention indicted Mayor Sheila Dixon's Democratic Party affiliation in a story about an embezzlement trial. The mayor stands accused of misappropriating gift cards intended for poor Baltimoreans. Instead of making sure the donated retail gift cards got into the hands of needy folks, Dixon is alleged to have used them for her own personal shopping spree.
The theft trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) began yesterday, but in covering the story, the Baltimore Sun failed to note Dixon's Democratic party affiliation.
The Washington Post, syndicating the story, also failed to note Dixon's affiliation in their caption to an Associated Press photo of the mayor which reads, "Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is accused of buying personal items using gift cards donated to her office."
The unsigned story by the Sun notes that Dixon is alleged to have practically stolen from her city's poorest residents for her own personal gain:
Three weeks after their gushing praise of President Obama's meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the media have taken a cue from the lack of action that followed.
It was a good run while it lasted.
Word from the conflict became more dire almost by the day as Obama's cabinet squabbled. The American media, having sensed Afghanistan could be lost without action, chose to cover for their favorite president and begin the process of mentally preparing the public for defeat.
The Washington Post published a perfect example of the new meme in Howard Kurtz's column on October 23. Kurtz attacked Republicans as "armchair quarterbacks" for their criticism of Obama's stalling and said it was "rich" of Dick Cheney to demand a new plan. As for what that plan might be, Kurtz's Vietnam defeat song sounded all too familiar: