Neela Banerjee’s Monday political memo, "The Abortion-Rights Side Invokes God, Too," certainly helps the pro-abortion lobby Planned Parenthood portray itself as just as religious as any pro-life organization.
"In any given week, if you walked into one of Washington's big corporate hotels early in the morning, you would find a community of the faithful, quite often conservative Christians, rallying the troops, offering solace and denouncing the opposition at a prayer breakfast.
"So you might be forgiven for thinking that such a group was in attendance on Friday in a ballroom of the Washington Hilton. People wearing clerical collars and small crucifixes were wedged at tables laden with muffins, bowing their heads in prayer. Seminarians were welcomed. Scripture was cited. But the name of the sponsor cast everything in a new light: the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. To its critics, Planned Parenthood is the godless super-merchant of abortion. To its supporters, it is the dependably secular defender of abortion rights. But at this breakfast, God was everywhere, easily invoked by believers of various stripes."
When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
We saw in the 2000 election cycle that one way national reporters protected Democratic presidential contender Al Gore was to ignore wild or embarrassing things he said in public. The RNC and other Gore critics would play up his gaffes, but the media said "what gaffes"? If they did report the remarks, they didn’t find them overstated or wrong.
It’s not exactly 2008 yet, but the same trend looks to be happening with Sen. Hillary Clinton. She can claim that Republicans would need a "police state" to round up illegal immigrants, and then claim that Republicans would "literally criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself" in their anti-immigration zeal, and some media outlets didn’t notice either one of these outrages. On the hear-no-Hillary-gaffe list: CBS, NBC, National Public Radio, and USA Today. (Nexis search of "hillary and police state" and "hillary and jesus" through March 29.)
Here is an incomplete exchange printed in the NYT between Dobbs and a representative of the racist and separatist organization known as La Raza, or “The Race.” That translation is omitted by the NYT, replaced instead by the nicer sounding phrase “civil rights organization:"
This followed by just a day a confrontation between Mr. Dobbs and a guest on his own program, Janet Murguia, the president of the Hispanic civil rights group National Council of La Raza, during which he lectured her on immigration policy.
"I want you to look me right in the eye, and I want you to hear me loud and clear," Mr. Dobbs said to Ms. Murguia, who replied, "I'm right here."
To you and me, it's a funny beer ad. To the New York Times, it's cause for a 25-paragraph story slamming Big Beer.
The New York Times's Melanie Warner penned a two-column article today on the complaints of several liberal "advocacy" groups about a Bud Light commercial featuring men on the roof enjoying a beer while pretending to do their wives a favor.
Warner stacked the deck with four liberal critics of the alcohol industry against one representative from The Beer Institute.
So what's the story really about? Turning Big Beer into the next Big Tobacco:
For the last two years, a committee of 28 state attorneys
general has been investigating alcohol advertising as part of an effort to
reduce underage drinking. While the group says it has no plans to sue the companies,
many of the states represented in group were involved in lawsuits that led to a
landmark $256 billion settlement in 1998 against the tobacco companies.
Rachel Swarns is a bit harshly reductive in her take on anti-illegal immigrant House Republicans in her Wednesday reflection billed as a “news analysis,” “Split Over Immigration Reflects Nation’s Struggle.”
“It is almost as if they are looking at two different Americas.
“The Senate Republicans who voted on Monday to legalize the nation's illegal immigrants look at the waves of immigration reshaping this country and see a powerful work force, millions of potential voters and future Americans.
“The House Republicans who backed tough border security legislation in December look at the same group of people and see a flood of invaders and lawbreakers who threaten national security and American jobs and culture.”
Nothing biased here, I just found it amusing as an evangelical Christian who has examined the mainstream media's aversion to religion.
Going through the morning papers today, I noticed this teaser atop the the Sports section for USA Today: "Christ the King No. 1." The corresponding story on page 7C was about the private New York school topping the USA Today Super 25 list for high school girls basketball.
A few days prior, The New York Times headlined a sports article on the same girls team with "Christ the King Lives Up to National Reputation."
As a Catholic, I'm long used to finding the media has a chronic case of schizophrenia on the Catholic bishops conference: they are an oppressive caucus of Nosy Nates if they get involved on social issues like abortion, an emerging threat to the separation of church and state. But if they get involved on the liberal side of the divide -- as the American bishops did on nuclear weapons and economics in 1980s, or when they oppose capital punishment -- they're great moral authorities demonstrating a surge in public opinion. Clay Waters finds that case of the gymnastic splits again today at TimesWatch:
Reporter Nina Bernstein evidently caught the spirit of the weekend protests by illegal immigrants and their supporters in Los Angeles, judging by the positive tone of her Monday article, "In the Streets, Suddenly, An Immigrant Groundswell"....Bernstein gushes in the next sentence: "But if events of recent days hold true, they will be facing much more than that. Rallies in support of immigrants around the country have attracted crowds that have astonished even their organizers. More than a half-million demonstrators marched in Los Angeles on Saturday, as many as 300,000 in Chicago on March 10, and -- in between -- tens of thousands in Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee and elsewhere..."
There’s some odd wording in Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker’s short piece Tuesday on an unusual ceremony in a Pennsylvania meadow.
“Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gazed across a rolling meadow on Monday, its grass yellow in late winter's grip, and toward the stand of hemlock trees marking the area where Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. He then bent and wordlessly placed a medallion at the base of a temporary memorial here.
“Known as the defense secretary's ‘coin,’ the medallion is an elaborately pressed memento that Mr. Rumsfeld hands out to troops he meets in combat zones overseas.
“His visit was his first to the site where passengers of Flight 93 overpowered their hijackers and sent an airliner crashing into the countryside instead of its intended target, the Capitol in Washington. His gesture was intended to link that event, through the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to the wars started by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
It’s a tale of two presidential campaigns on page A26 of Sunday’s New York Times.
At the top of the page, Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s “Testing Presidential Waters As Race at Home Heats Up” follows Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen around the state in preparation to running for a second term -- and possibly for president in 2008.
The text box emphasizes Allen’s conservatism:
“A Republican faces the delicate task of tacking right without alienating his base.” Stolberg also references Allen’s “conservative voting record” and the fact that “Fiscal conservatives seem to like him, but social conservatives are uneasy.”
She also notes that 2006 “is looking up for Democrats” and that Allen’s “re-election bid just got tougher than he expected” when James Webb, a Navy secretary under Reagan, got into the Democratic primary.
A "revelatory" article by Elisabeth Bumiller in today's New York Times article is laden with unanswered questions, assumptions and peculiarities.
Beginning with the lede, we get the “theme” of the article – the “erosion” of President Bush’s political capital.
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq waseroding his political capital, his starkest admission yet about the costs of the conflict to his presidency, and suggested that American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009.”
On March 11, the Times fronted an interviewed with what it claimed was the infamous "hooded inmate" from Abu Ghraib prison. But Ali Shalal Qaissi, the man they interviewed and pictured on the front page, was not the man in the now-iconic photo, as the Times explained in the March 18 edition.
Donna Fenton, whose alleged struggles with the FEMA bureaucracy were the subject of a sympathetic (and in retrospect, extremely gullible) March 8 profile by reporter Nicholas Confessore, was not the victim of Hurricane Katrina that she claimed to be. Yesterday she was arrested for fraud and grand larceny. The editors' note in the corrections box of the Times explains:
Hillary-hailing reporter Raymond Hernandez makes the front page of Thursday’s Metro section with a story that isn’t about Hillary but nonetheless helps Sen. Clinton reelection campaign -- an expose of her Republican opponent K.T. McFarland (“Questions Arise About Resume Of Challenger To Clinton”).
“When Kathleen Troia McFarland stepped forward as a Republican challenger to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, she was a relatively obscure figure with two intriguing claims to fame: She had worked on President Ronald Reagan's ‘Star Wars’ speech and had been the highest-ranking woman at the Reagan Pentagon.”
Earlier this month, the New York Times wrote about a Katrina evacuee, Donna Fenton. The story focused on the difficulties the woman had encountered in receiving assistance, highlighting her frustrations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Yesterday, the woman, who had falsely claimed to be a Katrina victim, was arrested for welfare fraud and grand larceny. Today's Times reports that story, and notes its previous coverage appeared "more than a month after Brooklyn prosecutors, prompted by suspicious officials at the city's welfare agency, began investigating her."
The big question on the mind of certain New York Times reporters is one that has been repeatedly answered over and over with a resounding “No.” Well we can dream, can’t we?
In an attempt to portray the White House as disorganized, in constant conflict, lost, and on the verge of a “shake up,” Elisabeth Bumiller and Adam Nagourney again show that the NYT is reporting news it wishes to happen, rather than what actually has happened.
“President Bush's suggestion on Tuesday that he may add a new senior figure to his White House team raised questions about the future of two of his closest and most powerful aides, Andrew H. Card Jr. and Karl Rove, as they struggle to put Mr. Bush's White House back on course.”
The Times leads Wednesday with Elisabeth Bumiller’s take on Bush’s lively White House press conference, which the Times headlines “Bush Concedes Iraq War Erodes Political Status.”
“President Bush said Tuesday that the war in Iraq was eroding his political capital, his starkest admission yet about the costs of the conflict to his presidency, and suggested that American forces would remain in the country until at least 2009. In a quick remark at a White House news conference about the reserves of political strength he earned in his 2004 re-election victory -- ‘I'd say I'm spending that capital on the war’ -- Mr. Bush in effect acknowledged that until he could convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the United States was winning the war, Iraq would overshadow everything he did.”
“Some diplomats suggest that if Hamas supports a moribund 2002 Saudi peace initiative, it will somehow ‘recognize’ Israel without having to say so; some suggest that a Hamas offer of another cease-fire may be enough to ‘forswear violence.’ But so far, Hamas is not playing along. It sees the agreements with Israel as a honey trap and recognition of Israel as impossible. In the meantime, Hamas is working on the heartstrings and sense of justice of the West, to keep aid flowing. Hamas's victory also signaled the death of the ‘peace process’ as it has been practiced.”
Today’s “Bush Concedes Setbacks” piece in the NYT by Elisabeth Bumiller contains questionable passages that give her “angle” away.
Here is a slice seemingly right off the editorial page:
“Over all, Mr. Bush's speech was a positive message that conceded some of the setbacks on the ground, a formulation meant to portray the president as not living in a fantasy world about the three-year-long war.”
And all of us out here in American sincerely believe that President Bush actually does float around in a fantasy land regarding his understanding of the war. None of us have access to any other information regarding the status or unfolding of the war effort, save what the New York Times chooses to report, so it is helpful to have this characterization opined at us.
With all the criticism heaped upon it by bloggers, including NewsBusters' very own Clay Waters, the New York Times has finally decided to do a story about bias..... That is, bias by Amazon.com.
Amazon.com last week modified its search engine after an abortion rights organization complained that search results appeared skewed toward anti-abortion books.
It turns out that one of Amazon's helpful search hints is biased in favor of the pro-life position.
Until a few days ago, a search of Amazon's catalog of books using the word "abortion" turned up pages with the question, "Did you mean adoption?" at the top, followed by a list of books related to abortion.
Amazon removed that question from the search results page after it received a complaint from a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a national organization based in Washington.
As Tim Graham noted this weekend, the Times "messed up in its attempt at yet another juicy Abu Ghraib story."
Reporter Hassan Fattah’s interview with Ali Shalal Qaissi, who claimed to be the subject of an infamous Abu Ghraib photo, made the front page of the March 11 Times, complete with a picture of Qaissi holding a photograph of “himself” -- that archetypal image of a hooded man standing on a box attached to wires.
The headline trumpeted: "Symbol of Abu Ghraib Seeks to Spare Others His Nightmare."
“Mr. Qaissi, 43, was prisoner 151716 of Cellblock 1A. The picture of him standing hooded atop a cardboard box, attached to electrical wires with his arms stretched wide in an eerily prophetic pose, became the indelible symbol of the torture at Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.”
Michelle Malkin has a nice roundup of reports on how the New York Times messed up in its attempt at yet another juicy Abu Ghraib story. Does this correction from the Times give you confidence about the media's professionalism?
A front-page article last Saturday profiled Ali Shalal Qaissi, identifying him as the hooded man forced to stand on a box, attached to wires, in a photograph from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal of 2003 and 2004. He was shown holding such a photograph. As an article on Page A1 today makes clear, Mr. Qaissi was not that man.
The Times did not adequately research Mr. Qaissi's insistence that he was the man in the photograph. Mr. Qaissi's account had already been broadcast and printed by other outlets, including PBS and Vanity Fair, without challenge. Lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib vouched for him. Human rights workers seemed to support his account. The Pentagon, asked for verification, declined to confirm or deny it.
The Washington Post reported yesterday on A-6 that the Food and Drug Administration announced two more women have died from infections after using the RU-486 abortion drug cocktail. Marc Kaufmann's story offered some balance, pairing Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood with Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:
The agency's handling of the seven deaths of women who had undergone medical abortion was criticized by opponents of the drug.
"The FDA has pulled other drugs that have caused fewer deaths and less severe complications than RU-486," Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement. "Why the double-standard for an abortion drug that is now linked to the deaths of seven healthy women and over 800 other reported complications?"
Lt. Gov. Steele has risen to become a significant figure in the Republican Party. It's not hard to imagine that this story getting a lot more play in the mainstream media had the victim been a Hillary, Obama, or Edwards. In light of the attention that the Claude Allen episode has gained, isn't a clear case of "dirty politics" worthy of a little ink? If this were a Republican "scandal," wouldn't this be front-page news coast to coast?
A new book by veteran New York Times economics reporter Louis Uchitelle calls for a doubling of the minimum wage. “The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences" goes on sale next week, but judging by the early reviews and official description, it will be faithful to Uchitelle’s liberal reporting on economics and business:
“The award-winning New York Times economics writer Louis Uchitelle explains how, in the mid-1970s, the first major layoffs, initiated as a limited response to the inroads of foreign competition, spread and multiplied, in time destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work.”
Over at TimesWatch on Thursday, Clay Waters tackled a controversy over a postponed play celebrating the life and activism of Rachel Corrie, an American-flag-burning activist for Israel-hating Palestinian terrorism. The third anniversary of Corrie’s death by standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer drew Jesse McKinley to write in the Times about how a Manhattan theatre company was delaying its staging of a British Corrie-celebrating play drawn from her life and writings. As Clay reported:
McKinley presents a false choice on how to take Corrie's activism: "Given the sharply divided opinions of Ms. Corrie -- idealistic or recklessly naive, depending on one's political point of view -- Mr. Nicola said on Monday that the workshop needed ‘more time to learn more and figure a way to proceed.’"
The national media was full of broken hearts last week when Dana Reeve died at 44, after nearly a decade of caring for disabled “Superman” star Christopher Reeve. It was obvious from the coverage that this woman had won hearts and made friendships in the media elite. But something strange happened in all the laudatory waves of coverage. Someone shrunk her activism.
It’s common for reporting on embryo-destroying stem cell research to leave out the embryo-destroying part. But the tear-stained accounts of Reeve’s sudden end often left out the words “stem cell” as well. This week’s Newsweek has a two-page article, largely about lung cancer, headlined "A Legacy of Love and Hope: Dana Reeve dedicated her life to finding a cure for spinal-cord injuries, only to fall victim to lung cancer."
At the University of California Berkeley, Iraq correspondents discussed the controversy over whether or not journalists can provide an accurate picture of the situation in Iraq.
Those in attendance: Anna Badkhen of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackie Spinner of the Washington Post, John Burns of the New York Times and Mark Danner, a Berkeley journalism professor and contributor to The New York Review of Books.
Jackie Spinner, Washington Post staff writer and author of "Tell Them I Didn't Cry," an account of a year spent in Baghdad starting in May 2004, disagreed that reporters in Iraq are prevented from telling both sides. "I think we're getting 90 percent of the story," she said. When disbelieving guffaws rang out from the audience, she retorted, "Excuse me, have you been there?" She went on to explain how when Washington Post reporters can't go out, "we rely on this whole cadre of Iraqi stringers and translators, who in the case of the Washington Post are Post-trained journalists."
Those skeptical of this reliance should take the time to read Spinner's book, which describes in detail the tight bond between the Post's Baghdad correspondents and the Iraqis who risk their lives to work for the bureau, often keeping their jobs a secret even from family members lest the insurgents kill them in retaliation. Before the situation in Iraq turned even more dangerous, Spinner — a UC Berkeley journalism alumna — would dress in a headscarf and full-length abaya and ride to the scene of an incident. There she would wait while her translator brought her an Iraqi who she could interview inside the tinted windows of the car. Later, she could not always go herself, but would be in constant contact with the Iraqi staff, guiding what questions they asked and pressing for details of the source's mannerisms, hesitations, and context.