Conservative Los Angeles radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt says he received a bundle of mail this morning about Joel Stein's Los Angeles Times op-ed (Tuesday, January 24, 2006), the one in which he declared, "I don't support our troops." After reading Stein's column, Hugh understood his listeners' anger. So he did what a good journalist should do. He booked Stein for an interview.
If you really want an inside look into a sheltered, out-of-touch, Hollywood mindset, Hugh's interview is a must-listen / must-read. A full transcript with audio is available at Radio Blogger. (Thanks, Duane! You rock!) A highlight:
Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times wrote an op-ed today (hat tip to the Drudge Report) entitled “Warriors and Wusses.” In it, he made his feelings about the war in Iraq quite clear in the opening sentence: “I don't support our troops.” In the heart of his piece, he elaborated:
“But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.”
Stein then had the audacity to suggest that America’s support for the troops is actually keeping them in Iraq longer:
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.”
Lying to the FBI? Obstruction of justice? A possible "coverup at high levels of our government"? Sure. But what the Los Angeles Timesreally wants you to know about the completed investigation of former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is how much it cost. Check this out from yesterday's Times (Friday, January 20, 2006) (emphasis mine):
PAGE A1, in a preview block at the bottom corner of the page, under a picture of Cisneros: "Prosecutor Ends Cisneros Probe: After about 10 years and $21 million spent ..."
PAGE A2, Today's News (a preview section), "Coverup is Alleged: ... The inquiry began in 1995 and cost $21 million."
Nearly three days after Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke her debated "plantation" remark, the Los Angeles Times has finally printed its first word about the controversy today (Thursday January 20, 2006).
Tucked on page A8 of today's edition is "Clinton's Remark Criticized," a 495-word piece by Times staff writer Edwin Chen. The article begins with the eye-opening observation that Hillary's comment "continued making political waves Wednesday."
Congratulations to the Times on such swift, cutting-edge news coverage... (roll eyes) ...
A little religion-news blogging before church on a Sunday morning...One liberal Web site devoted to religion and the news media is called The Revealer, operated by Jeff Sharlet, author of "Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible." (It's been favorably compared as spiritual writing on a plane with the oh-so-spiritual....Jack Kerouac.) But I find the site a useful window on the religion-and-the-news debate. Some times, I find useful tidbits where I didn't expect it: I've now discovered on the rebound that Planned Parenthood has now turned Michelangelo's portrait of God touching fingers with Adam to....have God handing Adam a condom. That's at least as outrageous as anything Pat Robertson says.
Today's (Friday, January 6, 2006) print edition of the Los Angeles Times found room in their paper for:
... 2315 words and two articles on tonight's Book of Daniel TV show,
... 1431 words for an article about Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars,
... 182 words on Pat Robertson's Ariel Sharon remarks,
... 1477 words on the effects of the decline of the popularity of tennis (on page A1, nonetheless).
Amazingly (or maybe not), the Times could not find one syllable to report, "A campaign fundraising group for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has agreed to a $35,000 fine for underreporting hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a Hollywood fundraiser in 2000" [AP link] (emphasis mine).
The fundraiser was in Hollywood, mind you. It's hard to imagine if the fine was related to, let's say, Arnold Schwarzenegger that the Times would be silent.
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.
Check out this correction from today's (Sunday December 25, 2005) Los Angeles Times (emphasis mine):
Religion and government: A Dec. 18 article defending the separation of church and state stated that the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards before both events. He made no such claim.
The correction does not identify the original article or its author, but the December 18 piece was called "The wall that unites us," and it was written by Stephen Julius Stein. So far, the correction has not been amended to the on-line version.
The question: How on earth did such an outrageous statement get past the editors at the Times? Is anyone proofreading their submissions?
In a commentary published in today's (Friday December 23, 2005) Los Angeles Times, writer Joanna Connors attempts to advance a simply laughable premise. The piece is entitled "God's recurring role in Hollywood." The money quote:
"Contrary to popular belief, Hollywood not only believes in God, Hollywood loves God."
What is Connors' supporting evidence for such a claim? She cites the works of Cecille B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith. She also claims biblical allegories in films such as E.T. (1982) and Shane (1953). Does Connors realize these examples are decades old?! (Some are several decades old!) A lot has changed in the last 25 years!
Last week, as reported by NewsBusters, Cybercast News Service published data that refuted the media myth that the government’s supposedly slow response to Hurricane Katrina had anything at all to do with race. This morning, the Los Angeles Times (hat tip to the Drudge Report) debunked the notion that class was an issue as well.
With a subheading of “The well-to-do died along with the poor, an analysis of data shows. The findings counter common beliefs that disadvantaged blacks bore the brunt,” the Times cut to the chase quickly:
“The bodies of New Orleans residents killed by Hurricane Katrina were almost as likely to be recovered from middle-class neighborhoods as from the city's poorer districts, such as the Lower 9th Ward, according to a Times analysis of data released by the state of Louisiana.
"The analysis contradicts what swiftly became conventional wisdom in the days after the storm hit — that it was the city's poorest African American residents who bore the brunt of the hurricane. Slightly more than half of the bodies were found in the city's poorer neighborhoods, with the remainder scattered throughout middle-class and even some richer districts.”
Today's (Friday December 16, 2005) Los Angeles Times appears to have delivered two different versions of "headline news" yesterday morning. The actual print edition celebrated the election in Iraq with a generous headline and a jubilant color photo (see below). However, visitors to www.latimes.com the same morning got a different lead story.
Actual Print Edition:
Online edition (latimes.com this morning (Fri.)):
As you can see, the glorious Iraq election was relegated to a lesser status for internet viewers. Instead, online viewers this morning were given the blaring news that "Bush Folded."
Free Market Project (FMP) Director Dan Gainor has a piece online at the FMP website detailing how mainstream movie critics and entertainment reporters have uncritically heralded George Clooney's silver screen outing, Syriana, as a true or near-true-to-life account of how American oil companies operate in the Middle East.
Among them, A.O. Scott of the New York Times in his November 23 review: "Someone is sure to complain that the world doesn’t really work the way it does in ‘Syriana’; that oil companies, law firms and Middle Eastern regimes are not really engaged in semiclandestine collusion, to control the global oil supply and thus influence the destinies of millions of people. OK, maybe."
With a hat tip to the Drudge Report, here is a November 28, 2005 posting by Barbra Streisand at her blog. It is a letter to Andres Martinez, the editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, informing him of her decision to cancel her subscription. Babs' beef? Well, the Times, in an effort to stem declining subscription rates, has replaced liberal op-ed columnist Robert Scheer with conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg. Babs isn’t happy:
“In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.
The media’s pessimistic holiday shopping forecasts fail to register with reality.
Don't miss my latest at the Free Market Project: Contrary to the media’s pessimistic forecasts for the Christmas shopping season reported by the Free Market Project in late October, strong retail sales this Thanksgiving weekend got the annual end-of-the-year buying bonanza off to a bang. In fact, the economic data available prior to this weekend looked so strong that the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, actually raised its sales forecast for 2005 holiday shopping from a 5 percent year-over-year increase to 6 percent.
Regardless of this upgrade in expectations by retailers themselves, and the fabulous start to the shopping season, the media continued to rain on everybody’s parade.
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
As reported by NewsBusters here, the media’s current fascination with Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) completely ignores the decade of the ’90s when the congressman was a leading pork-barrel spender. Yet, maybe more curious, this love affair is thoroughly dismissing some rather recent earmarking that made the papers before Mr. Murtha became the media’s favorite anti-war spokesman.
Not the least of these articles was a front-page, 2,200 word expose in the June 13, 2005 Los Angeles Times by Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. The headline set the tone: “Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill; A family member's ties to special interests raise questions in the case of Democrat John Murtha.” The crux of the article is that Murtha’s brother is a senior partner in a company called KSA Consulting. Said consulting firm received $20.8 million in defense contracts in 2004 (Times link expired):
The American media are giving President Bush low marks and mixed reviews regarding his just ended trip to China. Here are some of today’s headlines:
Bush’s China Visit Fails To Narrow Differences (Reuters via Boston Globe)
China Mostly Aloof to U.S. Priorities (Chicago Tribune)
U.S., China Seem to be Worlds Apart (Newsday)
Bush Skirts Rights Issue (LA Times)
CBS’s “Early Show” this morning began its segment on this issue: “The president is getting mixed reviews for his Asia trip after little was accomplished in his meetings with China.”
Yet, the Chinese media were much more positive about Bush’s trip. For example, People’s Daily Online offered the following headline, “Media: Bush's China visit sends "positive signal" to China-US relations.” It conveniently gave a recap of opinions being expressed by other newspapers and websites with links:
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, in a new article entitled “Bush at the Tipping Point,” joined an expanding list of media representatives that have not only completely ignored statements made by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) concerning his disappointments with the Iraq war that came before his Thursday call for troop withdrawals, but also thoroughly misrepresented the level of support that Murtha gave to the initial war resolution back in October 2002:
“Murtha was the one-man tipping point. Initially a strong supporter of the conflict, he had voted for it and the money to pay for it. But on his last trip to Iraq, he had become convinced not only that the war was unwinnable, but that the continued American military presence was making matters far worse.”
As reported by NewsBusters here, Congressman Murtha first voiced dissent for this war in September 2003, and then again in May 2004. However, maybe most important, the record before the war resolution passed on October 11, 2002 shows Murtha as having initially been against invading Iraq, and only getting onboard when a revised resolution was proposed on October 2. Prior to those revisions authored by Democrats in the House to assuage dissenters like Murtha, the Congressman was quite vocal against an invasion:
Add the Los Angeles Times to the list of media outlets trumpeting an incomplete portrait of Rep. John Murtha's announcement yesterday.
Splashed across page one, above the fold, of today's Times is a largecolor photo of Murtha (see it) next to the headline, Democratic Hawk and War Veteran Wants U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Now."
The title of the caption in the color photo is "About-face," and the article itself also references an "about-face" by Murtha, even though Murtha began expressing criticism of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq within six months after the invasion, as documented by this Noel Sheppard Newsbusters post and this Tim Graham Newsbusters post (in reference to Murtha's 2004 Ted Koppel appearence).
Media Wrong About Dollar: As the frequency of pessimistic reports increases, their accuracy seems to decline.
Since the stock market’s collapse between March 2000 and October 2002, the Free Market Project media have continually been making gloomy and bearish economic forecasts, from predictions of a housing bubble implosion to gasoline prices heading to $5 per gallon and even an economic downturn due to Hurricane Katrina. As The Free Market Project has reported, none of these have panned out.
Other examples of media gloom and doom that ended up being inaccurate were the press’s opinions of the falling dollar at the end of last year, and what they believed were the likely consequences. Tom Fenton of CBS News went so far as to link the decline to the start of the Bush presidency. “Since the end of the Clinton administration – or to put it another way, since the beginning of the Bush administration – the dollar has been heading south at an alarming rate,” he argued in a Dec. 6, 2004, piece.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation released results of a new study yesterday indicating that the number of sexual scenes on television has nearly doubled since 1998. A Google search indicated that there have been upwards of 400 articles and Internet postings on this subject. For the most part, these articles have been at least moderately disturbed by these findings, while trying to offer some explanations for the increase. As a perfect example, please see how the Los Angeles Times’ Jube Shiver, Jr. reported this.
By contrast, Lisa de Moraes’s article in today’s Washington Post seemed to express disappointment that more acts of sex aren’t shown more regularly on television. For example, her second paragraph (which I won’t copy here in respect for those like myself who have children that frequent this site to get informed about the news of the day) used the word “sex” nine times while graphically describing such acts to the reader. In three sentences.
After informing the reader about the increase in sexual scenes on television since 1998, de Moraes made a joke about it:
Olsen finds it remarkable that the Times found this particular IRS investigation worthy of coverage, given the flood of complaints filed from both sides of the political spectrum from election season 2004:
Regardless of economic data, press accounts are typically negative and pessimistic.
The economy has been growing at a very strong clip since October 2001. Real estate prices are at their highest levels in history, as are homeownership and Americans’ average net worth. Unemployment also is lower than the average during any of the past three decades. Yet Americans are very down, and one third even think the economy is in a recession. Is consistently negative media coverage influencing public attitudes? Might headlines like “Job growth less than expected” and “Jobs come up weak” have something to do with the gloom being felt across the country?
The Labor Department announced unemployment numbers for October on November 4, and despite a decline in this rate and an addition to payrolls, the media reported the gains as “surprisingly meager,” “stalled,” “damped,” and “disappointing.”
On NBC’s “Meet The Press” this morning, host Tim Russert stocked his panel with three left-of-center journalists – Nina Totenberg of NPR, Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, and David Gregory of NBC News – to discuss the events of the week. When they got to the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Russert mentioned that when Bill Clinton was president, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, despite obvious Liberal leanings, were approved by a strong majority of both Democrats and Republicans. “And they say, ‘Why can't we have the same courtesy to conservative jurists under President Bush?’"
In response, Totenberg said: “If you look at the Ginsburg nomination, for example, she'd been a judge, I think, for 12 years. She'd been, actually, a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.” This could be the first time that anyone has referred to the former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union as being “pretty conservative.”
As the discussion ensued, Totenberg expressed frustration with the president’s second choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor:
Yesterday (Friday November 4, 2005), the Labor Department announced that the national unemployment rate dropped from 5.1% to 5.0%.
Good news, right? Well, some media outlets did not seem to think so.
In the 3pm PST news updates on ABC News radio and CBS News radio on Friday, anchors made the employment picture sound dim. They highlighted that the net job gain in October of 56,000 jobs was "not as many as expected." Although CBS News tagged their story with the fact that the unemployment rate had dropped, ABC News radio made no mention of this at all!
The Los Angeles Times followed suit today (Saturday November 5, 2005). The (very) bold headline on the front page of their Business section blares the negative, "Job Report Falls Short of Forecasts." You have to go well below the fold to learn of the drop in the unemployment rate.
While the mainstream media have focused attention on President Bush’s new Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito being an extreme Conservative (as reported by NewsBusters here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), David G. Savage and Henry Weinstein of the Los Angeles Times actually did some real investigative journalism, and identified that people who have worked with Alito don’t agree with this right-wing depiction:
“Samuel A. Alito Jr. was quickly branded a hard-core conservative after President Bush announced his nomination, but a surprising number of liberal-leaning judges and ex-clerks say they support his elevation to the Supreme Court.
"Those who have worked alongside him say he was neither an ideologue nor a judge with an agenda, conservative or otherwise. They caution against attaching a label to Alito.”
Savage and Weinstein continued by citing and/or quoting a list of colleagues’ opinions on this issue:
[Judith Miller] knew early on that Libby was using the media to punish former U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV for exposing President Bush's false claim that Iraq sought nuclear material from the African nation of Niger.
The words I want to examine here are "punish" and "false claim". If there was information given to a reporter, it wasn't to punish Joe Wilson, it was to expose him. By the time he went to Niger, he had a long history of not just being against the war, but being against a regime change in Iraq. This was no impartial panel to examine evidence. This was one guy going over there without even being paid, lying about who sent him [Cheney], to [his words mind you] "drink sweet tea and meet with people." Did he look at spy sat imagery? No. Did he examine hardware with a Geiger counter? No. Did he meet with CIA HUMINT informants? No. He simply asked a dozen people if they were selling yellowcake to Saddam. What would you answer if the U.S. asked you that?
And in the end, Joe Wilson didn't even say it definitely didn't happen. His finding was "that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place." Do you read that caveat in newspaper articles?
Meanwhile, the IAEA, an organization that does more than ask people questions, determined that yellowcake was found in scrap metal originating from Iraq. What does Joe Wilson have to say about that?
The report indicated that there was enough intelligence to make a “well-founded” judgment that Saddam Hussein was seeking, perhaps as late as 2002, to obtain uranium illegally from Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo (6.4 para. 499). In particular, referring to a 1999 visit of Iraqi officials to Niger, the report states (6.4 para. 503): “The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible.”
Back to the claim that Bush made a "false claim". Given that we have intelligence and physical evidence that contradict Joe Wilson, as well as a solid foundation for Joe Wilson's motive, what is this "false claim" Bush made based on?