A voguish Dem theme is that America's reputation in the world has been eroded and that the next Dem president will restore it. Hillary Clinton has gone so far as to propose appointing Bill as a "roving" [I'll say] ambassador for such purposes. We can safely ignore such fluff as so much presidential-season silliness. A great nation's reputation is forged not by its goodwill ambassadors, but by its actions.
But while the bad-mouthing of America might be written off as so much election-year posturing, there is in fact an important, ironic lesson to be drawn, and it was on display during today's "Morning Joe." For her "must-read" of the morning, Mika Brzezinski chose a USA Today column by Alan M. Webber, "From afar, America resembles a 2nd-rate power", and paraphrased this paragraph from it:
A day after a USA Today/Gallup Poll discovered the majority of Americans, when provided with basic facts about the scope and impact of the plan to expand the S-CHIP program, agree with President Bush's concerns which led to his veto, on Wednesday's CBS Evening News Katie Couric trumpeted how a new CBS News poll found 81 percent favor “expanding this health insurance program for poor children.” Couric also highlighted how “four out of five say it should be expanded to cover children in middle income families” and “of those who favor expansion, three out of four are willing to pay higher taxes to get it done.” Bob Schieffer assured Couric that Democrats are not worried about Bush's veto since it means “having the President in the position that they can go out in the campaign next year and say this President vetoed health insurance for little children. That sounds pretty good on the stump.” And it sounds just like how the media have framed the topic.
Slim majorities back two positions at the core of the President's opposition to the expansion: 52% agree with Bush that most benefits should go to children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level -- about $41,000 for a family of four. Only 40% say benefits should go to such families earning up to $62,000, as the bill written by Democrats and some Republicans would allow. 55% are very or somewhat concerned that the program would create an incentive for families to drop private insurance.
The websites of CNN and USAToday joined their "Big Three" network brethren in covering the march in Jena, Louisiana to support the so-called Jena 6, while at the same time, either burying mention of the teenager who was beaten by the six high school students, or not mentioning him at all.
CNN.com’s report, in which CNN correspondents Susan Roesgen, Tony Harris, Kyra Philips and Eliott McLaughlin were contributors, didn’t mention Justin Barker until the twenty-second paragraph of the story.
The teens were initially charged with attempted murder after they allegedly knocked out Justin Barker -- a white classmate -- while stomping and kicking him during a school fight on December 4, 2006.
Barker was taken to a hospital with injuries to both eyes and ears as well as cuts. His right eye had blood clots, said his mother, Kelli Barker.
Before this, the report focused entirely on the planned march in support of the so-called Jena 6.
This USA Today story about an AP report should be called headline abuse instead of "detainee abuse" because if one were to just read the headline and move on, you'd get the wrong impression about what the story really reveals. You'd obviously read USA Today's headline, "Guantanamo detainees tell of abuses," and assume the story is another abu Ghraib styled yarn about how evil US soldiers are abusing these poor, poor terrorists in the Guantanamo Bay detainment facility -- after all the prevailing MSM story has been just that when the word "abuses" is used. But, if you take the time to actually read the story, there seems less of the "abuses" you'd expect to find and more of how the detainees themselves are abusing each other, themselves, and their guards. Instead of BEING abused, the detainees seem more like the abusers and this is certainly not the message that the headline imparts in today's MSM climate. One wonders why USA Today would want to leave such a wrong conclusion with a headline that doesn't quite seem to match the story.
On the eve of the August 29 second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking the Mississippi-Louisiana Gulf Coast, as the American news media prepared to do a slew of anniversary-update stories, the non-partisan Political and Economic Research Council released a hefty study of how the region's small-business sector is doing.
USA Today lends a big assist in promulgating Chinese propaganda as the paper helps explain away the nature of the forced military training that Chinese children undergo. Calling the compulsory training a benign sounding "camp" and presenting the children's training as if it is a mere summer excursion, USA Today soft sells China's militarization of their youth in theirs titled, "Chinese kids undergo required military training."
As USA Today dutifully reports China's propaganda -- the children go there to "sing songs" with the training only meant to "bolster teamwork" -- we see a disgraceful example of the MSM's practice of not "offending" a totalitarian nation so as not to lose their "access" there. Instead of reporting the harsh truth, we have USA Today offering a sunny and happy report on Chinese warmongering.
The Chinese government forces all children between the ages of 9 and 18 to undergo military training at regular intervals during Summer break from school. They have no choice and neither do their parents. This is the sort of complete lack of freedom of choice that can be expected from a totalitarian government, of course. In the West, we decry militarizing our children by force, so isn't it odd that USA Today so softens this training? Isn't it shameful that the paper helps China promote the propaganda that these military training sessions are really a wonderful time for China's youth?
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo talked to the authors of a new book about how liberals in the media allowed their politically correct biases to color coverage of the accused students in the Duke lacrosse rape case. Critiquing the media, Cuomo acknowledged, "It was difficult to report on this story fairly because there was so much pressure about pushing the angle that something had to happen. Something had to happen. It couldn't be nothing." He even proclaimed a lesson of the case to be "what people have always suspected, which is be careful what you hear from the media."
Stuart Taylor, co-author of "Until Proven Innocent," indicted liberal journalists who hold an obsession with race and sex. He derided the media’s gleeful handing of the case, saying, "The New York Times loved it, or a lot of people at the New York Times loved it. USA Today loved it. Nancy Grace on CNN loved it." However, while Cuomo did engage Taylor and his co-author K.C. Johnson on the subject of the media’s failing, the GMA anchor ignored an example from his own network. In April of 2007, ABC reporter Terry Moran blogged on the network’s official site that Americans shouldn’t feel too bad for the Duke students because of their wealth. He also claimed that the women of Rutgers basketball team suffered more from Don Imus:
Front and center of USA Today’s homepage right now are two stories that are quite frightening. The first titled, “Home Prices: Steepest Drop in 20 Years; No Recovery Soon.” Then just below that a story dubbed, “Business May Keep Their Wallets Closed.” While these two doomsday stories on the economy are front and center, full with color pictures, off to the side is a very different article entitled “U.S. Poverty Rate Down.” (see update below)
This should come as no surprise to anyone that follows the media. Good news is rarely is ever front and center, while the doom and gloom is almost certainly above the fold. Here are a few highlights from the article in case you missed it:
"How in the world could anyone write a lengthy article about the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), without mentioning once that the group has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in the nation’s largest terrorism trial?"
In June, Johnson picked up on ISNA's brush with federal prosecutors in a blog post entitled "A Really Bad CAIR Day." You can also read more reporting on the matter in Josh Gerstein's June 4 New York Sun article, "Islamic Groups Named in Hamas Funding Case."
Indeed, while reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman failed to mention ISNA's ties to Hamas, the USA Today writer focused on how sick and tired Mattson is of persistently denouncing radical Islam:
One needs to look no further than the Associated Press's story on the Scott Beauchamp saga to understand why the general public not following the news closely doesn't "get" just how biased and antagonistic towards the war, the military, and American soldiers Old Media outlets are.
In the case of Scott Beauchamp, now that their brethren at The New Republic (TNR) have been caught red-handed publishing made-up stories, John Milburn and Ellen Simon of the Associated Press appear to be doing everything they can to cover for them -- first, with a headline (probably determined elsewhere within AP) that fails to communicate anything resembling the essence of the story, and second, by struggling mightily in their reporting to make it appear that this is a "he said, she said" dispute, instead of a situation where Beauchamp and TNR have been thoroughly discredited.
Here's the headline:
Army denounces articles written by GI
Trouble is, Paragraphs 4 through 7 of the story make it clear that this is no mere denunciation -- it's a complete repudiation that the person the Army is supposedly only "denouncing" agrees with:
Okay, we’ve all heard that hybrid vehicles are better for the environment. But how do they measure up when it comes to the green in your wallet?
Even starlet Paris Hilton has boarded the hybrid bandwagon, as reported by BPM Magazine.
“I came in a hybrid car because I think that’s the way to go – to save energy and to save our earth from all this – you know pollution so I think if everyone just takes the steps to do it will make a difference,” said Hilton.
However, Hilton probably wouldn’t be as concerned about the cost of owning one of these hybrids as average people. But you wouldn’t be aware of any higher costs after reading Chris Woodyard’s August 8 USA Today story.
“It’s not just good public relations,” wrote Woodyard. “Since the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the EPA can regulate greenhouse gases, General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler have joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of corporate executives calling for CO2 restrictions.”
It would be even better public relations if hybrids made economic sense, but they don’t. It turns out hybrids cost more to maintain than regular cars.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) recently told an Illinois woman that while his grown sons have never served in the military, they are displaying their patriotism by campaigning heavily for their father's nomination for the presidency.
The Politico and USA Today have picked up on the item. USA Today's "On Politics" blog noted in an entry posted at 11:45 Eastern that:
The questioner, 41-year-old Rachel Griffiths of Milan, Ill., told Susan later that she is not a Republican and is in fact a member of a "Progressive Action for the Common Good."
Asked if she was satisfied by Romney's answer, Griffiths said:
In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.
According to CNN business reporter Ali Velshi, the relationship between oil and gas prices is difficult to grasp.
"A lot of folks are saying, 'Why have my gas prices come down 17 or 18 cents in the last couple weeks when oil prices are going up?'" said Velshi on the August 1 "American Morning."
Trust me Ali, that's not what I've heard at the pump.
"Well, I hope we've all figured out there's no way, there's no mathematician in the world who can figure out the relationship between gas and oil prices, but you can expect with oil up at 78 bucks a barrel, gas prices will soon follow and that takes things—that takes money out of the pockets of consumers who keep this economy going," he continued.
But Velshi, has not always had such a tough time making sense out of oil and gas economics.
“News that gasoline prices are falling usually comes with a warning – don’t get used to it,” said “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric. “So consider yourself warned as we tell you gas has fallen 17 cents the past two weeks to a nationwide average tonight of $2.88 a gallon. That is the lowest price in three months.”
That’s right, Katie. When it comes to gasoline prices and the CBS “Evening News,” they’re either high or probably going to get higher.
"Evening News" ignored the initial drop in gasoline prices last week.
SAN FRANCISCO — Brooke Brodack remembers her first online "hater."
Nearly two years ago, the person posted rude comments about a video she had posted on YouTube, says Brodack, 21, of San Francisco, whose videos show her lip-syncing and creating characters. "It was shocking to me. Why would someone want to be so mean for no reason?"
Why, indeed? Nasty comments, sometimes even death threats, have become ubiquitous on virtually any website that seeks to engage readers in discussion.
"Ur ugly u suk and u should die," says a typical comment beneath one of Brodack's many videos. Such vulgar messages have inspired heated discussions, and video responses, on YouTube.
Reporter Janet Kornblum later brought the topic around to how mainstream media Web sites have taken to banning comments after persistent problems:
"[T]here is unmitigated good news," proclaimed Ali Velshi about the minimum wage increase on the July 24 "American Morning." While the business reporter admitted "there are lots of sides to the story," he still called it "good news."
Back on January 2, Velshi stated that the current minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is "simply not fair." He had trouble with math in that "American Morning" appearance stating that the minimum wage comes out to $900 a week, when he likely meant $900 a month.
This time, Velshi was right with the math and left with his politics.
"The bottom line is you can't underpay people. And we've been underpaying people," said Velshi.
As NewsBusters reported Monday, a writer named Corey Mitchell posted an amazingly disgraceful blog at the liberal website Daily Kos Thursday stating that the United States armed forces were creating serial killers and mass murderers.
Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a Sunday column (HT The Daily Bellwether) that was a withering attack on the blandness, lack of local coverage, and political correctness of chain news.
Bronson, at least for the moment, works at The Enquirer, which is owned by mega-chain operator Gannett Co., Inc. Gannett publishes 85 local newspapers and USA Today.
Here's Bronson on blandness:
I wonder if a steady diet of junk-food news causes high blood pressure, indigestion and poor circulation.
Bronson on local non-coverage:
Wherever the population density can support more than one freeway exit, the chains move in and sterilize any hint of local flavor. ..... Being dropped in the middle of a chain newspaper can be like being taken to a Waffle House blindfolded, then trying to figure out if you're in Iowa or Idaho.
But the Enquirer columnist gets in his best licks criticizing newsroom political correctness, serving up three examples of what surely has driven many NewsBusters readers to distraction over their own local papers:
On today's "Your World with Neil Cavuto," the host devoted a portion of his mailbag segment to viewers from across the fruited plain telling Cavuto of their local media outlets had ignored or downplayed yesterday's stock market closing. Cavuto noted that in contrast, a large market correction in February was blared on the front pages of the nation's largest broadsheets.
I could not leave this untouched. Joan Biskupic, the same Supreme Court reporter I accused of sounding like a John McCain press flack, has given us a gem of a skewed report on a 5-4 decision today about the use of race as a factor in managing public school registration.
Let's walk through it shall we?
When reporting on a key Supreme Court ruling, it's kind of nice to give readers a glance of the reasoning of the majority first. Makes sense, right. After all, the focus is supposed to be the party at suit that, well, WINS. But Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote for the majority, isn't quoted until the 9th paragraph. Justice Kennedy's more restrained concurring opinion is referenced in the fourth, but it's dissenting liberal Justice Stephen Breyer who draws first ink in the third paragraph.
Below are the first four paragraphs (my emphasis in bold), punctuated by my commentary:
As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I'd take a look at the inane headlines for coverage of the 5-4 ruling today that restricts school districts from using race to manage school populations. Time and the Los Angeles Times are real howlers:
Here's how USA Today's Joan Biskupic started her June 25 article on the Supreme Court's ruling in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the case in which the Court struck down a televised ad ban in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. (emphasis mine)
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday opened the door to corporate and union financing of broadcast adssubtly attacking candidates for federal office before an election, in a 5-4 decision that is likely to make it harder for Congress to regulate campaign financing in the future.
The decision also could bring about a new flood of corporate and big-money spending on the 2008 elections.
If I didn't know better I'd think she were auditioning for a PR job with the John McCain for President campaign.
Here's how Biskupic colleague Jill Lawrence of the paper's "On Politics" blog tracked McCain's reaction to the ruling (emphasis mine):
Finally, a review of Michael Moore's “Sicko” that addressed the problems with his Seigfried & Roy style of filming and his one-sided view of health care systems. USA Today's review, by Richard Wolf, did not ignore the problems with US health care, but it put “Sicko's” view into perspective and notes the tricks and gimmicks he used to frame an image of a health care system that is worse than those in the third world (emphasis mine throughout):
Sicko is sure to prompt a healthy debate about the U.S. health care system. But it tells only one side of the story.
Michael Moore's latest documentary is partly a diatribe against insurance companies and drug makers. It recalls outrageous examples of treatments denied that led to death, disfigurement or bankruptcy.
When it was announced Tuesday that China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide, NewsBusters asked, “Will Media Notice?”
In reality, the answer is a mixed windbag, with most press outlets totally ignoring the revelation, and a few actually blaming the problem on – wait for it! – the United States. I kid you not.
However, before we address that stupidity, it first must be relayed that not one of the television news outlets bothered reporting the Chinese CO2 data at all. It appears that television news divisions only feel CO2 is a problem if it’s emitted by American corporations or citizens.
As for the print media, the few that did cover this story either gave it very little attention, or made some fairly predictable excuses for why it’s okay as the planet nears its seemingly inevitable doom at the hands of greenhouse gases for China to be the leading “polluter.”
For instance, the New York Times devoted a total of 83 words to this story in its “World Briefing Asia” section Thursday on page A12 (no link available):
In a Q & A with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper published Monday, USA Today founder Al Neuharth described Rush Limbaugh's radio show as “one of the funniest programs on the air” and asserted: “I don't become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them.” Neuharth, however, conceded Limbaugh is entitled to his supposed idiocy: “I also think that from my perspective that it's OK for idiots like him to voice their opinion because that's what this country is about and that's what the First Amendment is about.” He also allowed that he has “become convinced, although a little reluctantly, that all the bloggers on the Internet have a right to all of their stupidity, too. And there's a lot of it.” (Screen shot from a 2004 Smithsonian event carried by C-SPAN, MRC CyberAlert article.)
Neuharth, who in 2002 once devoted his weekly USA Today column to how he needs to buy diapers for himself (MRC CyberAlert item), proclaimed in February of this year that George W. Bush is the worst ever President (NewsBusters post). In 2002, he denounced Bernard Goldberg’s book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News." Neuharth took a personal shot at Goldberg, accusing him of being “a second-rate newsman,” and insisted that “Goldberg's depiction of the three biggies as biased bad guys is fiction” since Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw were all “fair.” (MRC CyberAlert article)