Give New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof credit for a couple things. First, he is as far from an armchair pundit as you can get, having been virtually everywhere and put himself on the line innumerable times. Check his bio. Second, he makes no bones about what he is proposing in Iraq in his pay-per-view column of today. "Cut and walk" isn't my gloss; it's Kristof's headline.
That said, Kristof's column reads like something that might have been written by warm 'n fuzzy Stuart Smalley, the SNL character Al Franken hilariously immortalized before deciding he had serious things to say.
Zeleny quotes Dean: "'The other party made mistakes in the past claiming that elections are mandates. Elections are not mandates. The voters of this country loaned the Democrats the power of the country for two years. Now it’s our job to earn it back again.''
Writer Tom Zeller manages to muddy the waters without ever directly mentioning the most troubling question of all: whether or not al Qaeda propagandists are using the Western media to foment civil war in Iraq. The closest Zeller comes to acknowledging this vital issue is mentioning the title of the Flopping Aces post that started the controversy, Getting News From the Enemy.
While they don't address each other explicitly, you might say that Jeff Jacoby's and Frank Rich's dueling columns on Iraq this morning reflect a civil war among American pundits. On the one hand, Rich of the New York Times, who in Has He Started Talking to the Walls?:
Claims Pres. Bush is "completely untethered from reality."
Accuses him of "flouting democracy at home."
Suggests that "a timely slug" administered to the commander-in-Chief by Jim Webb might have been a good thing; and
Casts as an "illusion" the notion "that America can control events on the ground."
And in this corner, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. In Fighting To Win in Iraq, Jacoby catalogues Jim Baker's history of foreign policy flops, including:
The gist: those mean Republicans are trying to tar the rising star of the Democratic party [legally-mandated descriptor] by making malign associations with his moniker. The GOP's latest mischief - letting people know that the middle name of the junior senator from Illinois is "Hussein."
Bunk. Any possible shock value in the Barack Hussein Obama handle has already largely faded. And this being a nation that likes to see itself as open and accepting, I'd say that, should he stay in the race, by election time his name will be an absolute advantage. Predicted opening line at the 2008 DNC Convention - if it comes to that - "I am an American. And my name is Barack Hussein Obama." Cue the wild cheering on the floor as Katie Couric gets all misty up in the booth.
Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site and a regular contributor to NewsBusters, was a guest this afternoon on FNC's Your World with Neil Cavuto. Topic: Liberal bias in the New York Times and the impact of its publishing leaked information, specifically the timing of the Wednesday front page story: “Bush Adviser’s Memo Cites Doubts About Iraqi Leader.”
Clay appeared as part of a panel at the top of the 4pm EST show which will re-run at 5am EST Thursday morning.
Video clip (6:05): Real (4.52 MB) or Windows (3.76 MB) plus MP3 (1.76 MB)
Late on Tuesday night, National Review reporter Byron York provided some early grist to challenge strange claims by media critics like William Powers that "journalists are more aggressive under Democratic rule." Somehow, the nation's leading newspapers weren't hustling alongside York as he chased the story of whether Nancy Pelosi would give the reins of the House Intelligence Committee to Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was impeached as a federal judge:
Tomorrow the Washington Post, on its front page, reports the news that Alcee Hastings will not be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. For a story about Nancy Pelosi's decision, the Post piece gets into a number of details about the Hastings case itself. Why? One reason might be that, during the last few months when concerns about Hastings' impeachment and conviction were being raised, the Post never reported the basic facts of the case. A Nexis search for Hastings' name and that of William Borders, Hastings' co-conspirator in soliciting bribes, reveals exactly one recent story — a November 1 column by the Post's Ruth Marcus, who had covered the Hastings story years ago. As Congress buzzed, and Pelosi deliberated, the Post never bothered to tell its readers what the controversy was about.
By the way, if you do the same search for the New York Times, you'll find the same thing — just without the Ruth Marcus column. Which means that perhaps the most interesting so-far-unnoticed aspect of the story is that so much political pressure built up on Capitol Hill while the nation's two leading newspapers were looking the other way.
This morning, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller announced the paper will follow NBC's lead and allow its reporters to refer to the conflict in Iraq as a "civil war."
Keller said in a statement to Editor & Publisher:
"After consulting with our reporters in the field and the editors who directly oversee this coverage, we have agreed that Times correspondents may describe the conflict in Iraq as a civil war when they and their editors believe it is appropriate. It's hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war. We expect to use the phrase sparingly and carefully, not to the exclusion of other formulations, not for dramatic effect. The main shortcoming of 'civil war' is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in Iraq is, in addition to being a civil war, an occupation, a Baathist insurgency, a sectarian conflict, a front in a war against terrorists, a scene of criminal gangsterism and a cycle of vengeance. We believe 'civil war' should not become reductionist shorthand for a war that is colossally complicated."
The New York Times is trying once again to convince the public that tipping off alleged terrorist front groups about an upcoming government search somehow falls under the umbrella of “the public’s right to information”.
Lawyers for the newspaper tried unsuccessfully to prevent special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald from reviewing telephone records that could be used in helping the government determine who leaked the classified information to the newspaper in the government’s obstruction of justice investigation.
New York Times reporter Robert McFadden covers the much-publicized shooting of three men by undercover cops after a bachelor party at a strip club in Queens for Sunday's edition.
"Hours before he was to be married, a man leaving his bachelor party at a strip club in Queens that was under police surveillance was shot and killed early yesterday in a hail of police bullets, witnesses and the police said. Two of his friends were wounded, one critically, they said.
"Many details of the shooting were not immediately clear, but relatives of the dead man, Sean Bell, 23, and community leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, demanded an investigation into what some called an overreaction by officers that killed a man on his wedding day. "
Reports of burning mosques, like this one from Reuters remain unconfirmed, and may have been fabricated by Sunni militants.
Also, sensationalized accounts of Sunnis being dragged from prayer and burned alive by rampaging Shiites are unconfirmed, and all appear to come from the same source, police Captain Jamil Hussein, whose entire career appears to be issuing statements about Shia violence against Sunnis. Curt at Flopping Aces has researched Hussein and found a remarkable number of atrocity stories for which he is the source.
There is perhaps no better time to speak well of someone than when they pass away. But tributes can be excessive to the point where the truth is utterly lost, and low moments of someone's career are glossed over. When we lose presidents, partisans of one stripe or the other think the celebration risks ignoring or going beyond the facts of history. In today's Washington Post, Marcia Davis's appreciation of departed New York Times managing editor Gerald Boyd, dismissed by the Times in the furor over utterly fraudulent reporting by Jayson Blair, Davis claims no one can challenge Boyd's record as a stickler for accuracy and against racial favoritism. The caption the front page of the Style section didn't mention Blair, but merely: "As he mentored new generations of journalists, Boyd was an unyielding stickler for accuracy." Davis recalled the Blair scandal this way:
Maureen Dowd: law-and-order fan? And here I thought liberals like to pose as champions of human rights . . .
But consider Dowd's idea of an Iraq solution: find brutal dictators to whom we can surrender and who will impose "law and order." Working model: the US capitulation to the Communist dicators of Hanoi.
The title of her subscription-required column of this morning, No One to Lose To, says it all. Dowd's biggest regret is, yes, that there's no obvious thug, or thugocracy, to whom to surrender. Dowd approvingly quotes Neil Sheehan, a former Times reporter in Vietnam who wrote “A Bright Shining Lie” as saying:
“In Vietnam, there were just two sides to the civil war. You had a government in Hanoi with a structure of command and an army and a guerrilla movement that would obey what they were told to do. So you had law and order in Saigon immediately after the war ended. In Iraq, there’s no one like that for us to lose to and then do business with.”
In yet another anti-gun rant, the Times has once again sounded the good liberal mantra: Got a problem? Throw money at it.
Apparently, outgoing Senator George Allen (R, Vir.) has introduced one of his last bills in the waning days of the 109th sitting of the Senate, a bill allowing concealed carry of firearms inside our National Parks.
After informing us that the bill has passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, they emotionally proclaim that they "hope it will die the miserable death it deserves". Then they go on an interesting rant on how the gun lobby has:
As Washington prepares for a new balance of power, there has been so much talk of “lame ducks” that you would be forgiven if you thought Vice President Cheney had gone hunting again. But the political phrase of the moment is actually derived not from the hunt for waterfowl, but for riches.
There's an interesting catch to a suit wherein a group of day laborers won a lawsuit alleging discrimination and intimidation because a Long Island town attempted to prevent them from finding day work.
They filed the suit as "John Does" and many of the MSM articles leave that fact out - Forbes has it. Isn't that an unusual, if not telling aspect of the story? You don't even have to identify yourself to get justice in America today? Because you might not be a citizen? I suppose anyone in the world can walk into an American court and allege discrimination, maybe al Qaeda will be next.
Six immigrant workers - all identified as John Doe for fear of retaliation by police or immigration authorities - had sought an injunction against what they called harassment, selective law enforcement and ethnic discrimination. They said the village violated their right to equal protection.
While the rest of the press played up liberal-minded comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and brought up old and unsubstantiated claims about Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, Sanger finds a different anti-Bush angle, one he’s used before – the president’s evidently disturbing lack of curiosity about the world.
At the Get Religion blog, Mollie Hemingway deconstructs a "mash note" the New York Times Magazine published Sunday on gay parenting, a note so favorable that the transient romantic attachments of the lesbian parents in the piece are spun as a positive sign, a puff piece on polymorphous parenting: "But the kids love both their mothers, and though the relationships may seem confusing to outsiders, there is certainly no lack of people in their lives who care about them -- something many 'straight' families can't claim."
Mollie concludes that the story's author, John Bowe, "clearly is a talented writer. But a story devoid of opposing perspectives on a controversial topic does not deserve to be in a major mainstream paper. Even if all mainstream papers are turning into publications with all gay news all the time." I think the error here is in assuming the New York Times is a "mainstream paper." It certainly is mainstream by virtue of its prestige and traditions, but it often reads like a heavier version of the Village Voice, especially on the cultural issues.
An editorial in today’s (Monday's) Investor’s Business Daily points out how the big liberal media have conveniently only begun to focus on the downside of a hasty U.S. withdrawal from Iraq since the November elections. IBD’s editors correctly ask, “Why did they wait? Those ‘experts’ now exposing the Democrats’ exit strategy as a deadly fantasy were available to reporters before the election. A full airing of their views at that time might have helped voters make an informed choice.”
“But such pointed criticism of the winning party came too late. Why does that not surprise us?”
Here's an excerpt of the editorial in the November 20 issue, headlined: “Now They Tell Us.”
In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned for president by promising tax cuts for the middle class. Fourteen years later, his Party ran on a similar “tell the people exactly what they want to hear” motif, this time the mantra being a speedy withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
Though separated by almost a decade and a half, these campaign strategies were quite similar to a now illegal marketing scheme called a bait and switch – whereby a company advertises a product for sale at a cheap price to lure in customers. Unfortunately, the organization’s retail outlets don’t actually have the item in stock forcing anxious shoppers to consider more expensive products that are available.
I Dig a Phony
Much like this advertising scam, the 1992 and 2006 political campaigns had three things in common:
One of the big stories of last week was the buying frenzy over the limited number of the new PlayStation 3 consoles that were put on sale. There was a humorous political angle in this as well which was widely covered with the notable exceptions of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. An unpaid volunteer for John Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart store in Raleigh, NC and invoked the name of his boss in order to get first dibs on a PlayStation 3. Since Edwards has been in the forefront of slamming Wal-Mart recently his hypocrisy was especially glaring and resulted in this press release from that retailer:
During the past week, NewsBusters has made it quite clear that the media have a love affair going with incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and antiwar Congressman Jack Murtha. The big question around the cooler yesterday was which media outlets would be critical of either Democrat given Thursday’s vote to appoint Steny Hoyer as House Majority Leader. Well, separating themselves from the pack on Friday was the New York Times which published a scathing editorial surprisingly lambasting both Pelosi and Murtha (emphasis mine throughout):
Nancy Pelosi has managed to severely scar her leadership even before taking up the gavel as the new speaker of the House. First, she played politics with the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee to settle an old score and a new debt. And then she put herself in a lose-lose position by trying to force a badly tarnished ally, Representative John Murtha, on the incoming Democratic Congress as majority leader. The party caucus put a decisive end to that gambit yesterday, giving the No. 2 job to Steny Hoyer, a longtime Pelosi rival.
Checking that link about now? Don’t, because it’s going to get better:
Now that the Democrats have picked their Majority Leader in the House the outcome gives us (and her) the first hint that Speaker Pelosi is not the powerhouse she thought she was. Her man, Murtha, lost in a landslide: 149 to 86... a thumpin' to say the least.
In my last report on how the MSM covered this little inter Dem fight I pointed out that they were ignoring how distant were the two positions on pulling out of Iraq that is held by the erstwhile candidates for Majority Leader.
I noted how they refused to portray Murtha's position as "extreme", even as he supports pulling out of Iraq immediately to Hoyer's, who does not. I noted that the MSM did not waste much breath contrasting Murtha's position with the far less volatile position held by Hoyer.
It seems strangely inconsistent that the MSM ignored the Iraq war issue in their stories since they made the entire recent election all about Iraq and how it is a mess and that our soldiers should come home. Yet, a guy who does not want an immediate pull out defeated Murtha and this fact went uncommented upon.
After comparing Al Jazeera's core audience to that of Fox News, Alessandra Stanley's review of the Arab-language channel's American debut notes: "A promo for an upcoming program described American policy in Iraq as George Bush's 'alleged war on terror.'"
From Wednesday's lead Times editorial: "The nation's image is at stake, as well as the safety of every man and woman who is fighting Mr. Bush's so-called war on terror."
It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch the MSM twist itself into knots trying to report this story of Pelosi backing the extremist Murtha for Party leadership over the objections of the so-called "blue dog" Democrats who were recently elected to Congress.
Pelosi has decided to ardently back the extreme anti-war activist, John Murtha (Dem, PA), for the Democrat's Majority leader position in a move that has 'baffled" many Democrats, especially those incoming Democrats who ran as conservative alternatives to Republicans -- as well as other incumbent moderate Democrats -- who are instead backing Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer is well known on the floor not to be quite as extreme as Murtha is on a pull out from Iraq (Hoyer voted to give Bush the OK to go into Iraq in 2002, but he IS for gradual withdraw to be sure), but few Americans will have even heard of Steny Hoyer, he not being much of a "national" figure. On the other hand, anyone who had paid politics much attention knows that Murtha is against the war and is a vocal critic of President Bush. Murtha is well known for his many extreme positions and statements.
Looking for an election-season boost, the Times opened up its exclusive Times Select product to non-paying proles last week, sending editor-columnist Frank Rich's "2006: The Year of the 'Macaca,'" to the #1 most e-mailed story of the week (the free window is now closed, so you have to pay for Rich's deep thoughts on why Bush-style conservatism lost this year).
"This was callous conservatism, if not just plain mean.
"It’s the kind of conservatism that remains silent when Rush Limbaugh does a mocking impersonation of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's symptoms to score partisan points. It’s the kind of conservatism that talks of humane immigration reform but looks the other way when candidates demonize foreigners as predatory animals. It's the kind of conservatism that pays lip service to 'tolerance' but stalls for days before taking down a campaign ad caricaturing an African-American candidate as a sexual magnet for white women.
Now that the Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, the New York Times is painting the new Senators firmly into the political middle. Reporter Timothy Egan profiled Sen.-Elect Jon Tester, one of the hard-left Daily Kos Democrats, in a story headlined "Fresh Off the Farm in Montana, a Senator-to-Be." Egan began his ode to the liberal man with a crew-cut: "When he joins the United States Senate in January, big Jon Tester — who is just under 300 pounds in his boots — will most likely be the only person in the world’s most exclusive club who knows how to butcher a cow or grease a combine." You have to read quite a way into the article to see that this good old boy is raising "organic lentils, barley, peas, and gluten-free grain" on his farm. No boutique liberal there, eh?
Egan insisted "the senator-elect from Montana truly is your grandfather’s Democrat — a pro-gun, anti-big-business prairie pragmatist whose life is defined by the treeless patch of hard Montana dirt that has been in the family since 1916." That definition would work, if your grandfather opposed wiretapping enemy communications in World War 2 or would have opposed a Patriot Act to help fight the Nazis.
Speaking as an alumnus to students at Brown University over the weekend, liberal New York Times reporter James Risen -- best known for breaking open the government's terrorist-surveillance program -- hailed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as "the best thing to happen in a long time" and cheered that it's "sinking in" with President Bush that his foreign policy is "too radical."
Risen also typically complained of how vital the New York Times is to American democracy. The Bushies have "suppressed dissent throughout the administration," and the climate of fear is "palpable" and "frightening to watch." The press is vital because "there's been almost no congressional oversight." And cable news just rips off the newspapers: "CNN, which is probably the best of them, does almost no original reporting" and the cable networks have "24 hours to fill and nothing to say." In the Brown Daily Herald, reporter Abe Lubetkin wrote: