A telephone tipster made a very interesting point to us today about The Washington Post. In the midst of their coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith case, and a Vermont campaign-finance limit case, the Post found no room Wednesday for the pro-life win in NOW v. Scheidler. (That's the case where NOW tried to have clinic protesters charged under a mob-racketeering statute.) The Post could argue that the case is a bit of a rerun: the court dismissed it in 2003, only to have a federal judge keep the case alive like a zombie. But the court ruled 8 to 0 and the feminists were routed in the opinion by none other than liberal Clinton appointee Stephen Breyer. USA Today published a fairly prominent, thorough piece Wednesday on Page A-4.
Reporting on a fresh development in the Fannie Mae accounting scandals, the media again dropped another opportunity to raise the Clinton administration connections. But when it was Enron which defrauded investors, the media wouldn't let the public forget the connections Enron executives had to President Bush.
After Enron’s collapse, the media frequently reminded the public of political ties top executives in the failed energy company had to the Bush administration. The same standard, however, wasn’t applied to mortgage broker Fannie Mae (FNM), whose former CEO served in the Clinton White House and was speculated to be on presidential hopeful John Kerry’s short list for Treasury secretary. The print media continued that double standard in covering a comprehensive new report on the scandal released February 23 by former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.).
The Free Market Project has noticed of late how the media are warming back up to the notion of a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies. The windfall profits tax was a hotter topic in the months after Katrina, but the idea didn't stick then. But now with a new session of Congress, a State of the Union address on the way, and 2005 profit reports running over the wires, the push to soak "Big Oil" is on again. [see more below the fold]
From her USA Today's piece on the Alito confirmation, check out this gibberish (3rd paragraph as it appeared at 12:15 PM; obviously it could be corrected at any moment or taken down; NOTE--USAT updated and fixed in their 1:54 PM update; see related comment below):
Alito, 55., who has compiled a mostly conservative record during 15 years on the bench, becomes the 110th. justice to serve on the high court. He succeeds retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor,who has provided a deciding vote in favor of maintaining a woman's right to end her pregnancy and other controversies women's right to terminate their pregnancies, among other controversial matters.
So is Ms. Kiely obsessed, or is it just a glitch? Given that abortion is the first legal issue mentioned in her report, my money is on "obsessed."
Some time yesterday morning, the Gallup Organization released the results of a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that, judging from its shocking results, many Americans might never hear about. Now, at this point, this is idle speculation. However, through 9:50AM EST Thursday, this has received very little attention.
From what I can tell, CNN reported this on its “American Morning” program which aired at 7AM EST. Oddly, according to a LexisNexis search, that’s the only time yesterday that CNN referenced this poll. Rush Limbaugh reported about this during his program yesterday, which means that he had this information in the AM Wednesday. As the Drudge Report posted the story at 10:52 AM EST (assuming I'm doing a good job of converting from GMT!), this makes sense. An hour later, both NewsMax and World Net Daily reported it. Moreover, the AP reported this at 3:58PM yesterday in an article about Sen. Clinton’s disagreements with the president’s recently iterated views on terrorist surveillance. And, Jonah Goldberg addressed this in a Los Angeles Times op-ed this morning.
Yet, a Google news search done at 9:50AM EST Thursday indicated that, to this point, no other major news organizations published these results. In fact, from what I can tell, this hasn’t been reported by USA Today, and has yet to be posted at CNN’s website.
What’s so shocking about this poll that the press appear frightened to share with the public:
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.”
Okay, please take this with a grain of Cheesehead salt, but um, I have a reason why conservatives could root for the Carolina Panthers against those dreaded Chicago Bears today. Bears QB Kyle Orton? Big liberal. In the midst of some research into the weird absence of the words "Kerry" and "Hillary" within 50 words of each other in the fall of 2004, I came across this USA Today piece, where an Orton teammate at Purdue related, "He said that if John Kerry doesn't get elected, he's going to throw himself headlong into the Hillary Clinton camp." The report had more detail:
Now he understands that Orton's success on the football field could one day be seen as the introduction of an ambitious liberal democrat to a larger audience.
USA Today practiced a “rip and read” of liberal talking points on winter heating costs with it’s headline for Richard Wolf’s December 12 story, “Some may face choice: Whether to heat or eat." Wolf’s article centered on critics of the Agriculture Department’s (USDA) decision to deny the requests of five states for a boost in food stamps spending.
The self-declared “nation’s newspaper” cribbed from a December 12 press release by America’s Second Harvest, whose headline read, “Heat or Eat? Millions of Americans Forced to Make the Choice This Winter; Energy Costs and Food Insecurity Reach Record Highs.”
As reported yesterday by NewsBusters, a brand new ABC News/TIME poll depicted Iraqis as being very optimistic about themselves and the future of their country. The Associated Press via USA Today is sharing this information with its readers by focusing attention on the negatives first. The article, entitled “Most Iraqis Oppose U.S. Troops, Poll Says,” began:
“Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of U.S. forces in their country, yet they are optimistic about Iraq's future and their own personal lives, according to a new poll.
“More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44%, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.”
While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean's comments on Iraq, that the idea we're going to win is "wrong," an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don't bet on it. A quick search of the name "Howard Dean" in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O'Donnell: "The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war." That's the closest the networks came.
What if you live in fly-over country and read the national papers online, or bought copies across the country of USA Today, or the New York Times? If you read USA Today last week, you'd know nothing of Dean's comments. The New York Times mentioned them in an A-5 story by Sheryl Stolberg on Wednesday headlined "Democrats Still Search for Plan on Iraq." Dean surfaced in paragraph 13. The Washington Post was rare for putting the story front and center on Tuesday, in a story by Jim VandeHei and Shailagh Murray headlined "Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks" featuring Dean's comments in paragraph two, on the front page. How about National Public Radio?
A front page New York Times story on the global warming talks in Montreal chose to place all the blame for America’s refusal to move forward with the highly controversial Kyoto Protocol on the Bush administration. In doing so, the Times didn’t inform its readers about the history of this accord, and, in particular, that the Senate in July 1997 voted 95-0 against it. In addition, the Times completely ignored any of the obvious economic consequences to America if it entered into a global warming treaty that did not include China.
Yet, that didn’t deter the Times from identifying a culprit: “In a sign of its growing isolation on climate issues, the Bush administration had come under sharp criticism for walking out of informal discussions on finding new ways to reduce emissions under the United Nations' 1992 treaty on climate change.”
Pen gun accident kills budding rap singer Steven Zorn had put the pen gun to his head and clicked before, apparently thinking it was jammed and would not work. But on the third try, the tiny silver pistol went off as the 22-year-old budding rap artist was drinking to celebrate an impending record deal. He died at a hospital. The Nov. 18 shooting at Zorn's home in this rural village of 2,000, about 50 miles northeast of Dayton, is believed to have been accidental, according to family, friends and law enforcement officials. "Steven had a career and his dreams all ahead of him," said Zorn's mother, Lisa McCoy-Horn. She said she wants lawmakers to outlaw pen guns, which are small-caliber, single-shot weapons that resemble pens.
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.
The websites of many major media organizations (including USA Today, MSNBC, ABC News, and CNN) aren't wasting any time reporting the guilty plea by California Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a Republican who admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes. They all are placing his story high on their homepages. That alone isn't bias, as corruption by public officials should always be at the top of the news headlines.
However, I'm guessing that few who hear about Cunningham have ever heard of former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, a Democrat who as a North Carolina state senator used his official position to channel public funds into a private nonprofit that he operated. He received a four-year sentence in federal prison on Oct. 12 after admitting guilt to redirecting taxpayer dollars for his private use. He had resigned his congressional seat last year.
Apparently my recent Newsbusters article about Muhammad Ali ruffled some feathers. Last week USA Today sports writer Jon Saraceno wrote a puff piece about Ali and the Medal of Freedom, in which he couldn't resist taking a jab at me for bringing up Ali's treason during Vietnam. In classic left-leaning media manner, he copied and pasted one sentence out of the context of the entire article condemning Ali. I expected as much; this is the MSM, after all. But what was inexcusable was the fact that he provided no link to the article or even to my website so that his readers could judge for themselves what was actually written.
Look, I wrote then and will do so again now that Ali was indeed a gifted boxer and athlete. But that does not now nor will it ever make him a hero. He has everything he does because there were men in the past who knew there were things out there bigger and more important than themselves, and they were willing to seal that belief with their youth, their time, and even their lives. THAT is a hero. Ali took what this country had to give, but when asked to help others gain the same freedoms, his answer was a resounding "Not I." Like the selfish barnyard animals who refused to help the hen sew the wheat to make the flour to bake the bread, Ali was only too willing to take a piece of what he was NOT willing to help create.
On Washington's WMAL radio tonight, Chris Core was highlighting an article on Bill Clinton calling for civility. (He was a bit taken aback, since the Clinton people made those bimbo-bashing cracks about dragging a dollar bill through a trailer park.) USA Today reporter Kathy Kiely secured a soft 50-minute interview to serve as a publicist for Clinton's call for "kinder, gentler political talk."
He complained "I think it's a healthy thing in a democracy to have people disagreeing, but if you're screaming or demonizing, then the very people you want to reach — which is those who don't agree with you — can't hear you." But Kiely added Clinton doesn't hide his disagreements with the current president over Iraq and economic policies. "I practically need a rabies shot when I talk about this deficit and me getting five tax cuts while we had two wars going on." Perhaps Clinton could begin his crusade against demonization by telling his wife, Senator Exclamation Point (Hillary!) to chill out.
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:
Neither of President Bush's first two Supreme Court nominees, John Roberts and Harriet Miers, gave conservative and liberal interest groups the ideological showdown they've long been spoiling for.
The liberal interest groups absolutely wanted a showdown over John Roberts. NARAL started with the dishonest ad accusing Roberts of essentially supporting abortion-clinic bombers very early in the process. All of the Democrats on the judiciary committee tried to discredit Roberts. It wasn't possible - they tried to make a bogeyman out of him, and it didn't work. It remains astounding that an institution that could give Ruth Bader Ginsburg 96 votes for confirmation could only muster 78 for John Roberts.
But with Bush's selection Monday of federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito, the battle is on. And it's shaping up to be as ugly as it is unavoidable.
On this one point, USA Today is correct. The battle is unavoidable, and it is bound to be ugly. As the Roberts battle was in many corners.
Conservative activists, who forced Bush to abandon Miers last week because she lacked the hard-right public record they wanted, were effusive in praise of Alito.
This is where they start to go through the looking-glass. There is some truth here, but just enough to mislead. Yes, there was great concern about Harriet Miers on the right, though most of it was not because she "lacked [a] hard-right public record" - the vast majority of the concern on the right was because of concerns about her qualifications. And it isn't only the political right that was concerned - all of the usual suspects on the left came out against Harriet Miers with their typical knee-jerk response to any Republican nominee.
Abortion-rights, women's rights and other groups declared the gauntlet thrown down and rushed into full counterattack.
There was no "attack" to counter - the "abortion-rights, women's rights and other groups" didn't rush into counterattack - they rushed in to attack. To attack Alito, to attack Bush, to attack conservative interest groups. All of the usual suspects generated all of the usual press releases, and the usual media played them in the usual fashion. As USA Today is doing here.
For Bush, under fire on several fronts and suffering the lowest poll ratings of his presidency, the nomination helped by calming one set of critics. But for observers like us, who prefer pragmatic nominees capable of drawing bipartisan support, it was a disappointing start.
Can we be honest here? This is nonsense. It is nonsense when Sen. Chuck Schumer goes to the floor of the Senate with it, and it's nonsense when the USA Today editorial staff repeats it. It's fantasy. There is no such thing as a "pragmatic nominee capable of drawing bipartisan support," at least not when there's a Republican in the White House. Such a beast just plain does not exist in this universe. (The closest you'll ever see to such is Harriet Miers, whose nomination drew bipartisan criticism...) Much like the abortion issue, on which the entire court system has become so politicized, there is a clash of absolutes in place, and it is not possible to find someone who will satisfy both sides. The liberal position is that they want the courts to enact policy positions that they like. They want a court to issue a Roe v. Wade to remove the abortion debate from legislative oversight. They want a Lawrence v. Texas, to force states to repeal sodomy laws. They want liberal justices to be able to look at foreign law and find support for Roper v. Simmons, ruling the death penalty unconstitutional for minors. They want judges to impose Gay marriage, another position that can't win at the ballot box. The conservative position is that either the Constitution means what it says, or it means nothing. Period. Lawrence v. Texas, Roe v. Wade, Roper v. Simmons are all bad decisions, not because the policy positions they establish are necessarily bad, but because the text of the Constitution does not support them. There is no common ground between these two visions. So it is utter nonsense to complain that the President has nominated someone who is not a "pragmatic nominee capable of drawing bipartisan support" - there just is no such thing.
More so because Alito would make the Supreme Court even less diverse. If Alito replaces Sandra Day O'Connor, the court will be disproportionately white (eight of nine justices), male (eight) and Ivy League (eight). None of these characteristics should disqualify anyone, but the court and nation benefit from diversity in life experience and world view.
This is more of the same. Obviously, there is no reason to suggest that "diversity" would be a bad thing. But the law and the constitution say what they say. If the reading is being significantly influenced by the race or gender of the reader, that's a bad thing.
The more important question, though, is whether Alito fits within a legal mainstream, and that can be answered only after thorough vetting. His credentials are sterling. But unlike other recent nominees, Alito has a long paper trail of judicial rulings, several of which raise questions about his respect for the rights of the individual.
Really? What decisions? What rights?
He has been a darling of anti-abortion activists because of his acceptance of restrictions that the Supreme Court has rejected, such as a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands of abortions in advance.
Again, a dollop of truth ladled out to create a lie. Yes, he did dissent on one of the 5 sections of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992. Yes, the Supreme Court did rule against his position on that section. But, as has been clearly outlined elsewhere, his dissent was based entirely on the precedents that the Supreme Court had established, and which they had to modify (by a 5-4 vote) to rule his dissent incorrect. They're using a half-truth in a pejorative fashion.
He has narrowly interpreted the applicability of federal anti-discrimination laws. And he has challenged Congress' authority to ban possession of machine guns, endearing him to Second Amendment absolutists.
In other words, he has followed the law and the Constitution, rather than his "personal policy preferences." Just a paragraph or so back, they were concerned that his decisions "raise questions about his respect for the rights of the individual." Now they're concerned about Congress' right to ban machine guns from individuals. Does that sound like a concern about judicial principles, or specific policy positions? The latter, obviously.
These and other issues will provide grist for the dueling, multimillion-dollar ad campaigns over control of the court, put in play by the retirement of O'Connor, who has been pivotal in dozens of hot-button cases. If the past is any indicator, the truth will be bent into unrecognizable shapes in some of the advertising.
...and USA Today editorials...
That puts a great burden on the Senate Judiciary Committee. At Roberts' hearings, senators wasted time with speeches instead of questions — and failed to follow up when he responded with knowledgeable but evasive answers. The committee and the full Senate must determine whether Alito is the judicial ideologue welcomed by his cheerleaders and feared by his critics. Or, whether he can be expected to show the respect for the court's precedents that served O'Connor — and the nation — so well.
Which court precedent was Harry Blackmun following when he wrote Roe v. Wade? Which precedent was Sandra Day O'Connor following on Planned Parenthood v. Casey? She wasn't even following her own - Judge Alito was! The fact is, this editorial makes it clear - they're concerned not with precedent, but results. They want a justice to support liberal precedent.
In a report last night on CNN’s “Newsnight,” David Ensor continually referred to CIA employee Valerie Plame as being “undercover.” In fact, the entire report was about the dire consequences to the agency as a whole as a result of such an "outing," as well as to Plame:
“Forty-two-year-old Valerie Plame Wilson, whose husband referred to her as 'Jane Bond,' is clearly now the most famous female spy in America. Exposing her as a CIA undercover officer did damage to U.S. intelligence, U.S. officials say. They refuse to be more specific.”
Unfortunately, nowhere in the report did Ensor relay to the viewer that Plame has not been undercover since 1997, and, instead, has been working for the CIA on American soil ever since. In fact, as reported by USA Today back in July 2004:
Editor's note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally
accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA
TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly
adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size
and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance.
In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor
brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural
appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in
keeping with our editorial standards.
As she notes, Richard Curtis is USAT's Graphics and Photos Managing Editor, and while I don't know if he directly had a hand in deciding to run the doctored photo, he is ultimately responsible for a manipulation that would appear to be a violation of most people's concept of photo ethics (If you have a problem seeing this ethics violation, slap a pair of Linda Blair eyes on Hillary Clinton or Jesse Jackson and you should be able to suddenly see it clearly).
What are responsible photo ethics? When is it acceptable to manipulate photos, and to what extent? Fred Showker at 60 Second Window has a wonderful practical guide for photo ethics, which defines in part what acceptable photo ethics entail:
The USA Today published an op-ed this morning by Sandy Grady entitled “Grounded by Hubris, Greed.” In it, Grady basically wrote Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) career totally off, while making it clear for the reader that a trial at this point is just a formality:
“Indicted on charges of conspiracy and funneling $190,000 in illegal corporate dough so Republicans could dominate the Texas Legislature, he has lost his clout, his ornate office and those free golf junkets — probably forever.”
Remember all those media predictions about the toxic nature of the floodwaters in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina? Well, it appears that much like their prognostications of casualties, how long it was going to take to drain the city, and the likely devastation to America’s economy, this too was an extraordinary exaggeration.
Here’s a sampling of the press opinions concerning this water made shortly after Katrina hit:
ABC News reported on September 6: "Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.”
Reuters reported on September 7: “The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported on September 8: “Chemicals leaking from cars and factories will cause one of costliest environmental cleanups ever.”
Shortly after yesterday’s announcement of Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) indictment for alleged campaign finance violations, the mainstream media began doing reports on the subject with largely similar content. A memo written by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean posted at the Democratic Party’s website almost immediately after the announcement was made contained virtually the same “hotbuttons” as those subsequently raised in media accounts of the story.
What follows is a copy of that memo, along with comparisons to what has since been reported by leading media outlets on this subject:
In USA Today, reporter Jill Lawrence tackles the subject of the atheist left, and their new organization the Secular Coalition of America, but wait -- she never quite places them on the left. She reports they plan to be "part of broad coalitions fighting policies rooted in religious beliefs, such as limits on stem cell research and access to emergency contraception." (Notice Lawrence uses the liberal "EC" argot and doesn't note the embryo destruction in either goal.) Lawrence wrote their new leader, Laura Lipman Brown, was an advocate: "As a Nevada state senator from 1992 to 1994, she fought for gun control, gay rights and abortion rights." That would seem to earn the L word, but Lawrence doesn't use it.
The constant coverage of recently indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is less based on interest regarding his activities and more in the interest of slimy-ing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other Republicans.
The AP release about the indictement gives some detail about Abramoff, but also less-than-subtly throws in a few other names. (Questions that linger: Was Abramoff connected to Democrats?)
After dropping a DeLay mention in the very first sentence, the article later continues:
"DeLay has asked the House Ethics Committee to review allegations that Abramoff or his clients paid some of DeLay's overseas travel expenses. DeLay has denied knowing that the expenses were paid by Abramoff, whom he once described as 'one of my closest and dearest friends.'