It appears that the post-Yearly Kos month from hell is continuing for Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the proprietor of the Internet’s premier liberal blog Daily Kos. After receiving some extremely negative press from major publications such as the New York Times, The New Republic, and Newsweek immediately following his seemingly successful bloggers’ convention in Las Vegas, Kos is now faced with an even greater challenge: dissension within his ranks.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich assembled for his Sunday column all the standard cliches of the liberal narrative of Bush vs. Heroic Liberal Press, including the old cartoon that Ari Fleischer was somehow telling the press to shut up when he suggested late in a news briefing in 2001 that Bill Maher might have watched his mouth before praising the courage of al-Qaeda. See here for context.
The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page is alarmed by those who call New York Times executive editor Bill Keller a "traitor." The editorial page quoted Brent Bozell in his latest column: "Indeed, the track record proves the New York Times and Bill Keller are not 'neutral' but grossly biased against the U.S.-led war against terrorism."
To this the editorial wrote:
So fulminated conservative propagandist Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center last week. His statement was part of an anti-Times frenzy whipped up by Republican strategists, then echoed ad nauseam by Pavlovian talk shows and blogs.
For these folks, bashing the Times (and journalists generally) is a hobby.
The Sunday Times reports that many Western countries have been waging a "secret war" against North Korea. That word alone should perk up New York Times editors, who believe nothing can be kept "secret" without their approval.
Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran.
It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the “hermit kingdom” in the waters north of Japan.
But this still isn't saying how these operations are carried out. We all need to know the specifics about how these maneuvers are executed. Cue the New York Times.
David Brooks of the New York Times has been on quite an anti-liberal blogosphere roll of late. After eviscerating Markos Moulitsas Zuniga – the proprietor of the Daily Kos – in a June 25 op-ed entitled “Respect Must be Paid For,” Brooks again ripped into Kos on Friday night’s “The News Hour” on PBS (video link courtesy of Crooks and Liars). Brooks followed this up with another op-ed tangentially on this subject Sunday.
On Friday evening, the discussion between host Jim Lehrer, Mark Shields, and Brooks centered around Joe Lieberman’s problems in Connecticut. Lehrer asked Brooks how Lieberman is impacting the 2008 presidential campaign. Brooks responded (emphasis mine):
That didn't take long! Just yesterday I suggested readers keep in mind the MSM's bashing of Pres. Bush on his birthday the next time a liberal accused conservatives of being 'mean-spirited.' Groucho fans will know what I mean when I say: bring down the duck! On last evening's Journal Editorial Report , liberal newsie Marvin Kalb said the magic 'm-s' word in condemning the Wall Street Journal for its criticism of the New York Times.
The Journal had run an editorial, Fit and Unfit to Print [subscription required] that both explained why it had run a story on the anti-terror financial tracking program, and criticized the New York Times for doing so. For the record, the editorial explained that in contrast with the Times article, the Journal only published declassified information that had been provided them by the Treasury Department.
In a piece posted Thursday night, Jack Shafer, media critic for the Washington Post-owned online magazine Slate, ponders the current tension between the Bush administration and the press over the latter's reporting of some of the former's anti-terrorist methods. Shafer posits that Bush and company's angry reaction to said reporting
signal[s] the breakdown of the traditional comity—I wouldn't call it "trust"—that has existed between the White House and the press. Since the end of WWII, the press has sought White House input whenever its reporters bumped up against issues of national security, and if the press has erred it's mostly erred in favor of the government position. For a good summary of recent instances in which the [New York Times and Los Angeles Times] and the Washington Post have held stories or deleted sensitive information at the administration's request, see [NYT editor Bill] Keller and [LAT editor Dean] Baquet's joint op-ed...defending publication of their SWIFT stories.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller claimed there were no consequences for leaking information about the bank-monitoring program designed to track terrorists' finances. He claimed that there was no harm done and that no backlash was caused by publicly releasing the information.
In fact, Keller said the program would still be supported in Europe, despite the leak.
The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere. And while it is too early to tell, the initial signs are that our article is not generating a banker backlash against the program.
The European governments knew about the program, but now that the New York Times has made it known to the world, they may have to show outrage to their home citizens.
On "Special Report with Brit Hume," the anchor led his July 7 "Political Grapevine" segment by reporting on the reaction of the European Parliament to the Times story.
Friday's Washington Post put the feisty intra-party Democratic debate on Thursday night between Sen. Joe Lieberman and his ultraliberal opponent, Ned Lamont, on the front page. That's odd, considering the nearby New York Times put the story on A-19. But reporter Shailagh Murray never described Lamont (or his fervent supporters on the hard-left blogs like Daily Kos) as "liberal." In the story's last paragraph, she acknowledged it only as an opponent's questionable charge: "Lieberman has tried to depict him as a pawn of the left."
The Times story accurately pegged the current trend: "anti-war activists and liberal bloggers from across the nation have flocked to Mr. Lamont's aid in hopes of punishing Mr. Lieberman for his centrist politics." Well, accurate at least, until the centrist part: in the latest American Conservative Union voting scores for Congress, Lieberman has compiled scores of eight percent (2005) and zero percent (2004). His lifetime ACU is 17 -- not that "centrist." Murray's story began by merely linking Lamont to the "anti-war movement":
Today's New York Times leads off with a local story with national ramifications, a 4-2 defeat of gay marriage in the Court of Appeals of New York, the state's highest court.
Anemona Hartocollis reports:
"New York's highest court rejected yesterday a broad attempt by gay and lesbian couples across the state to win the right to marry under state law, saying that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not violate the State Constitution.
"By a 4-2 majority, the Court of Appeals found that the State Legislature, in laws dating back nearly 100 years, intended to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and that the Legislature had a rational basis for doing so."
The FBI "scrambling" to pick up suspects stopped a terror plot by jihadists trying to blow up the Holland Tunnel, flooding Manhattan.
Counterterrorism officials are alarmed by the "lone wolf" terror plot because they allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support from Jordanian associates of top terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he was killed in Iraq, a counterterrorism source told The News.
It's not clear, however, if any cash or assistance was delivered.
No, and it probably will never be clear again. Thanks, New York Times.
New York Times TV writer Alessandra Stanley reviewed George and Laura Bush's Thursday night interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" as a desperately needed chance for a softball interview. "The standoff with North Korea over its missile tests, the war in Iraq and ever-sliding ratings in the polls have given the president little reason to celebrate. Mr. King gave the president a chance to defend his policies without risk of interruption or follow-up."
This adjective, "ever-sliding," may be what Miss Stanley wishes and hopes for, but it could not be described as accurate. Bush fans would look silly to describe Bush's poll ratings as good. But they have been creeping upward since the killing of Iraqi al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The PollingReport.com summary shows that several polls have him up a bit since a low point in early May:
Bill Keller, editor of The New York Times, was on the PBS "NewsHour" last night to discuss the fallout over the fact that on June 23, The New York Times among other papers, revealed classified anti terrorism programs. Mr. Keller attempted to downplay the revelation as not a big deal because:
"We weighed very heavily and looked in excruciating detail at claims that this was not something that terrorists knew, that this would somehow be useful to terrorists. And the fact is, you know, you can find more useful detail about what the Treasury is doing in the Treasury's own public briefings."
If there is more useful detail on the public record, then why didn’t the Times print that instead? How does the Times know that the terrorists were already aware of the SWIFT program they wrote about? Did they talk to any terrorists to find out? The fact is, as Bill Keller goes on to mention:
Editors of the New York Times, along with their allies in journalism, are defending the publication of anti-terrorism programs by declaring their actions to be in the “public interest,” making them a watchdog against what they view as excessive government power and secrecy. But the tables need to be turned. What about excessive media power and secrecy?
There’s something bizarre about the Times rushing out to protest excessive secrecy in the Bush administration – and then touting the testimony of secret sources as its evidence.
TomPaine.com goes to anti-Bush author David Corn for an article called "The Timid Times." In it, he claims the New York Times isn't really anti-Bush, and could be much harder on the President. He is progressively wrong on nearly every point he makes.
The Times and other papers occasionally publish graphic photos of wounded and dead Iraqis, but not enough to represent accurately and fully the daily tragedies occurring in Iraq... Everyday there are bodies—often headless bodies bearing signs of torture and mutilation. The paper generally does not put photographs of such atrocities in front of its readers. But imagine if it did, with regularly placed detailed photos of civilian casualties in Iraq on the front page. White House officials and others, no doubt, would complain about the demoralizing impact on U.S. public opinion regarding the war in Iraq.
I'm sure Mr. Corn isn't suggesting that U.S. soldiers decapitate, torture and mutilate civilians, is he? I actually agree with Mr. Corn on this issue, show Americans what terrorists do to innocent civilians. The reason the New York Times won't do it is two-fold; readers will quit buying the gory paper and it would actually solidify support against the heinous terrorists...
Thanks to Cori Dauber at Ranting Profs , we know that Times intelligence reporter Eric Lichtblau, notorious for co-writing the article revealing the terrorist surveillance program of international banking transactions known as SWIFT, wrote an article last November critical of the administration for -- get this -- lacking a strategy to cut off terrorist funding.From November 29, 2005 (Times Select or $ required): “U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Terror Funds, Agency Says.” An excerpt:
You're the boss at the New York Times. The warden at the jail holding celebrity snoop Anthony Pellicano issued an order barring anyone other than family and lawyers from seeing him. Getting a scoop with Pellicano will certainly boost newstainment sales.
Do you: A. Respect the order and write stories without talking to Pellicano. B. Appeal to a judge to lift the order. C. Send in a "reporter" with a 20 year old law degree and California State Bar credential card who may or may not have filled out a form stating "Purpose of the visit: legal" which forces Pellicano out of his cell and into "outrage."
If you answered C, you could be New York Times management.
The American Spectator published an article Wednesday thoroughly refuting claims by the New York Times that counterterrorism information revealed in its June 23 exposé was common knowledge. Moreover, to discourage it and the Los Angeles Times from publishing these reports, both were informed of three ongoing investigations using information from SWIFT:
According to Treasury and Justice Department officials familiar with the briefings their senior leadership undertook with editors and reporters from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the media outlets were told that their reports on the SWIFT financial tracking system presented risks for three ongoing terrorism financing investigations. Despite this information, both papers chose to move forward with their stories.
"We didn't give them specifics, just general information about regions where the investigations were ongoing, terrorist organizations that we believed were being assisted. These were off the record meetings set up to dissuade them from reporting on SWIFT, and we thought the pressing nature of the investigations might sway them, but they didn't," says a Treasury official.
Without giving away vital secrets, these briefings were detailed enough to convince both news organizations of the effectiveness of this program:
On July 3, the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com and Accuracy in Media held a protest outside the Washington bureau of the New York Times. Michelle Malkin has pictures from the event.
The protest was reported on Fox News' "Special Report with Brit Hume."
BRIT HUME: The "New York Times" continues to take heat for its revelation, as we mentioned earlier in the "Grapevine," of a secret government program to track terrorist financing. As chief Washington correspondent, Jim Angle, reports attempts by the paper's editor to explain its action have not calmed the controversy.
PROTESTOR: Round them up for treason. Send them all to Gitmo.
"Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever." - Michael Corleone, The Godfather
Mark Hohmeister writes for the Tallahassee Democrat about picking editorial cartoons. While he admits to being liberal, he also notes that one shouldn't pick editorial cartoons based on your personal ideology. Last week he made the mistake of picking one where Uncle Sam was reading the New York Times with the masthead saying "All the Treason Fit to Print."
He heard back from unhappy readers, which didn't surprise me, but he also heard from his former publisher of the Democrat, who said:
"In more than 50 years of various responsibilities for newspapers and editorial pages, I've defended a lot of editorial cartoons. But this one is indefensible."
Q: Where is approximately 380,000 votes "the narrowest of leads" in an election?
A: In the New York Times, but only when the leftist candidate is trailing.
From James C. McKinley Jr. and Ginger Thompson's dispatch on the Mexican presidential race (emphasis added):
MEXICO CITY, July 4 — The Mexican electoral crisis deepened Tuesday, as the leftist candidate demanded a vote-by-vote recount and election officials acknowledged that up to three million votes had not been tallied in the preliminary results.
The ballots counted so far showed the conservative, Felipe Calderón, with the narrowest of leads, fewer than 400,000 votes, over his leftist opponent, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The Times backpedals a bit from its irresponsible story revealing a successful terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transactions. After playing it up as a lead story June 23, nine days later it's shrugged off as common knowledge by the very reported who trumpeted it on the front page.
Based on CNN's rush transcript, here's reporter Eric Lichtblau on CNN’s Reliable Sources from Sunday defending his bank spy scoop (emphasis added):
"I'm not claiming I know the mind of every terrorist, but I am claiming to know exactly what President Bush and his senior aides have said. And when you have senior Treasury Department officials going before Congress, publicly talking about how they are tracing and cutting off money to terrorists, weeks and weeks before our story ran. 'USA Today,' the biggest circulation in the country, the lead story on their front page four days before our story ran was the terrorists know their money is being traced, and they are moving it into -- outside of the banking system into unconventional means. It is by no means a secret."
The top of Tuesday's Washington Post carries the headline "Mexico Girds for Legal Battle As Election Yields a Near Tie." But the caption nearby under pictures of the candidates reports: "Felipe Calderon, left, has 36.38 percent of the vote following a preliminary, uncertified tally, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has 35.34 percent." That's a one percent lead, which is tight, but not a "near tie" -- it's a margin of 384,000 votes, says the New York Times with a more accurate headline: "Conservative Has Slight Edge in Mexico Vote." The Post story never employed a numerical vote margin in its story, hiding the margin of hundreds of thousands of votes.
After appearing on CNN last week and granting an interview with Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz (who naively pondered the ferocity of what he considered the unwarranted conservative assault on the New York Times), Times Executive Editor Bill Keller again goes to a sympathetic outlet, CBS’s Face the Nation hosted by liberal host Bob Schieffer. Keller again defended his paper by throwing dark hints of a conservative anti-Times conspiracy.
Hardened NBC watchers know to expect a shift toward the left when Andrea Mitchell is sitting in for Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." On Sunday's big media roundtable, the topic was the administration's "war" on the press. Bennett said Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, whose story on the CIA's secret prisons for terror suspects in Europe outraged Bennett, went all personal on Bennett by saying her story did not break the law: "I mean, some people would like to make casino gambling a crime, but it is not a crime." (The liberal Washington Monthly broke the story in 2003 that Bennett had a bad habit of gambling away thousands of dollars on casino slot machines. The media glee was palpable.)
Most who watched the various talking heads programs on Sunday know that a hot topic for discussion was the New York Times article last Friday concerning the NSA using a Belgian banking cooperative to track terrorist funds. One of the best debates occurred on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” because it included one of the article’s authors, Eric Lichtblau, and an outspoken critic of the article and the Times, Hugh Hewitt (video link to follow).
As the discussion moved around the table, host Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post asked Hewitt if he felt the Times should be prosecuted for its actions. Hewitt responded:
“I don't know enough to answer that question, because 18 USC 798 (ph) has a lot of elements to it, Howard. But I know this. Eric's story helped terrorists elude capture. That's what the outrage is about. That's the widely shared opinion among people with intelligence background. It's widely shared by soldiers in the field, as made evident on their blogs.”
Kurtz challenged Hewitt on how he knew that these revelations helped the terrorists. Hewitt responded:
Two organizations, the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com and Accuracy in Media, will hold a protest outside the Washington, D.C., office of the New York Times. They will denounce the Times for "giving aid and comfort to al Qaeda by publishing stories exposing national security intelligence programs," and will call for the prosecution of the principle players. The event will by held July 3.
The D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com, an independent grassroots conservative organization, and Accuracy in Media (AIM) will hold a demonstration at noon, Monday, July 3, at the Washington, D.C., bureau of The New York Times, 1627 I St., NW, to call for the prosecution of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Executive Editor Bill Keller and reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for giving aid and comfort to al Qaeda by publishing stories exposing national security intelligence programs.
Despite pleadings from the federal government and Democrat and Republican members of the 9/11 Commission, The Times recently published a report detailing lawful surveillance of international banking transactions that was employed to prevent terror attacks.
This report followed The Times' publication last year exposing the federal government’s NSA surveillance of international based phone and electronic communications aimed at preventing terror attacks. Incredibly, The Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for that story.
For the long weekend, a few media-bias nuggets I've enjoyed from some of my favorite fellow media observers. In his Thursday "Impromptus" column at National Review Online, there's Jay Nordlinger choking on the cynical tone emerging from the AP in Washington:
Talk about tiresomeness — I’m back on my girl Laurie Kellman, and the Associated Press. Here is how an article of hers began yesterday (and bear in mind that this is a news story, from a wireservice): “The narrow defeat of a proposal to ban flag desecration marks the second time in a month Senate Republicans have lost bids to amend the Constitution in ways designed to inspire social conservatives to vote in the midterm elections.”
That may or may not be true: but it is pure analysis/opinion, friends, not the way to lead a news story (in my opinion — speaking of those).
The article continues in that vein. If Ms. Kellman, and the others, want to work at Mother Jones — or the New York Times! — they should apply there.
In the Style section of Saturday's Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz covered the slightly strange story of the Wall Street Journal editorial page criticizing the New York Times scoop on the SWIFT financial tracking system, when the Journal ran the story as well once the Times decided to publish. But the most interesting part of the story was the new poll:
In a Fox News poll released yesterday, 60 percent of those surveyed said the Times did more to help terrorist groups by publishing the information, while 27 percent said the story did more to help the public. Forty-three percent called what the newspapers did treason. Just over half said government employees were more to blame for leaking the classified information, 28 percent faulted the media for reporting it, and 17 percent said they were equally to blame.
At this point, how many people are interested in hearing more preachy justifications from newspaper editors about their decision to spill the beans on anti-terror programs? Yada yada yada, the sensitive balance between legitimate secrecy needs in time of war and the public's right to know. Yeah, we get it.
But there were Dean Baquet and Bill Keller, editors of the LA and NY Times respectively, with an op-ed this morning humming that tired 'on the one hand, on the other' sing song . Things reached their apotheosis of annoyingness [poetic license in the name of alliteration] when the duo approvingly cited WaPo editor Robert Kaiser editor thusly: