In an otherwise balanced story yesterday on conservative and libertarian efforts to limit a 2005 Supreme Court ruling expanding eminent domain, USA Today reporter Martin Kasindorf concluded his story with a swipe at anti-Kelo v. New London activists by quoting a Georgetown University legal expert.
"The property rights advocates have exploited Kelo to advance a broader anti-government agenda," Kasindorf quoted "John Echeverria of Georgetown University Law Center."
Actually, Echeverria is head of the Georgetown Environmental Law & Policy Institute, and his bias in favor of Kelo and work with the liberal Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), went unmentioned. In doing so, the reader is left with the impression Echeverria is a dispassionate legal observer, or at least one uninvolved in Kelo-related controversies.
Yet on November 4, 2005, Echeverria told New York state legislators, "I firmly believe the U.S. Supreme Court decision" in Kelo v. New London "was correctly decided."
I didn’t believe it when I saw it, nor did I believe a NewsBusters member when he/she referred to it in our comments section. But, there it was in USA Today: “Gas Price Decline May Spur Inflation.”
Can’t be, right? After all, even if you’re not an economist, you are intelligent enough to realize that inflation is typically caused by higher energy prices. Such was certainly the case in the ’70s, and has been the case in the past twelve to twenty-four months as oil and gasoline prices have skyrocketed. Isn’t that what the media have been claiming since Hurricane Katrina hit last year – higher oil and gas prices are going to lead to inflation?
Yet, this USA Today article had the gall to suggest that declining gas prices were a bad thing because they would spark inflation. If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself:
If you look hard, you can see the Democratic optimism about the fall elections fading, off the front pages of the newspapers. On the bottom of the front page of a separate "Campaign 2006" section of The Washington Post today (they call it page A23), you can read the account by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza about Democrats getting worried about superior GOP turnout programs. (I can't guarantee you won't be sickened by the GOP establishment siding aggressively against the conservative in this race.)
Raymond Hernandez reported in the New York Times that giddy Democratic optimism about wresting four or five House seats from the GOP in New York state is fading fast...
“Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability,” the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) advises its members.
That’s not how USA Today reporter Stephanie Armour’s September 5 story on “living with the minimum wage” appeared in the paper. The full-page story and photo essay told how
hard it is to live on a paycheck close to Florida’s minimum wage of $6.40 an hour. It
left out that the star of the piece – depicted simply as a “low wage” worker
who makes $6.55 an hour – was an activist for a group that advocates a wage
In a classic “Do as I Say, Not as I Do,” the leader of the new cult the Global Warmingists, Al Gore, appears to not practice what he preaches. A USA Today op-ed by author Peter Schweizer reported Wednesday evening (hat tip to Drudge with emphasis mine):
Graciously, Gore tells consumers how to change their lives to curb their carbon-gobbling ways: Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, use a clothesline, drive a hybrid, use renewable energy, dramatically cut back on consumption. Better still, responsible global citizens can follow Gore's example, because, as he readily points out in his speeches, he lives a "carbon-neutral lifestyle." But if Al Gore is the world's role model for ecology, the planet is doomed.
Shhhh. Wait. It gets better (coffee cups down, kids!):
Here's an excerpt from an excellent editorial by Gary Witzenburg, a former auto engineer who helped design the GM EV1, the early '90s electric car that left-wing conspiracy theorists think the big ol' meanies at Big Oil killed. Suffice it to say, Witzenburg was nowhere to be found on the taxpayer-funded infomercial for "Who Killed the Electric Car" on the June 9 edition of "Now with David Brancaccio."
Here's an excerpt of his August 8 "Another View" editorial in "USA Today":
Widespread acceptance of battery-powered EVs will not happen until someone develops battery technology competitive with a tank of gas (or diesel) in every way. It must be absolutely safe, long-term durable, capable of operating reliably in extreme weather and temperatures, mass-producible at low cost, able to carry comparable energy in a package of comparable size and weight, and able to be quickly recharged. None comes remotely close.
Readers of these columns might have noticed that I occasionally include at the foot the fact that I live in 'the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY.' To give you a flavor for what I'm talking about, consider today's op-ed page in my hometown daily, the Ithaca Journal. The Journal is a Gannett newspaper. That's the chain [led by USA Today] that, as I've documented, chose as a news editor someonewho believes calling VP Cheney 'Satan' makes for the best commencement speech ever.
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.)
Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz make a fairly big deal in the Washington Post (and on page A-2) on Saturday that "USA Today has acknowledged that it cannot prove key elements of a blockbuster May 11 story in which it reported that several telecommunications companies were handing over customer phone records to the National Security Agency."
"We take every error seriously," USA Today Editor Ken Paulson said in an interview. "This was obviously a big story. . . . All we can do is set the record straight."
Reporter Leslie Cauley revealed her unidentified sources to a top editor, Paulson said, and "the sources are credible," adding, "They have a track record with Leslie and she trusts them." But several members of the congressional intelligence committees later contradicted the sources on the question of whether Verizon and BellSouth had provided information to the NSA.
Remember that USA Today article from May 11 alleging that “[t]he National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth?” Well, the USA Today just issued a retraction:
“Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.”
To begin your Fourth of July holiday weekend with a bang, read the entire delicious retraction here.
Earlier today, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pentagon officials were considering
dropping Article 3 of the Geneva Convention from FM 34-52, the Army's
field manual on interrogation. While the Pentagon has not reached a
final decision on the potential modifications to FM 34-52, the Times
and USA Today certainly have. Follow the escalation.
"The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet
of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and
degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a
step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from
strict adherence to international human rights standards."
The higher CO2 levels that inherently come with global warming are actually a good thing if you're starving in a third world country. Plants breathe CO2, and higher levels means faster plant growth and higher crop yields.
But that isn't the story you want to paint if you're a big media operation like USA Today. Instead, you want to frame it like this:
Study: Global warming boosts poison ivy WASHINGTON (AP) — Another reason to worry about global warming: more and itchier poison ivy. The noxious vine grows faster and bigger as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise, researchers report Monday... Compared to poison ivy grown in usual atmospheric conditions, those exposed to the extra-high carbon dioxide grew about three times larger — and produced more allergenic form of urushiol, scientists from Duke and Harvard University reported. "...the shift toward a more allergenic form of urushiol have important implications for the future health of both humans and forests," the study concludes.
There you have it. That means I can expect to get stricken with poison ivy three times more than I have in the past, which is currently a consistent zero times. This coupled with inch higher water must be part of the end of civilization that Al Gore anticipates. Remember, folks, all of this global warming nonsense you're reading about is just part of the 2008 Democratic platform as delivered by big media.
On May 22, the Federal Trade Commission released a report finding no systemic price gouging resulting from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The following day, USA Today -- which has carried a "nation's gas gauge" item in its front page sidebar for a few weeks now -- assigned the story below-the-fold treatment in the Money section.
Another story, on how average gas prices have dropped 6.4 cents in the past week, was relegated to the sidebar of the Money section page as well.
For my article on televised coverage of the story, click here.
An editorial in Saturday's Washington Times highlighted the discovery by the MRC's Rich Noyes, as detailed in a Friday NewsBusters posting, about how “Leslie Cauley, the USA Today reporter who 'broke' the news that three major U.S. telecommunications companies were assisting the National Security Agency in building a database to more easily track any communications by potential terrorists, is listed as a donor to former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, according to a search of the Center for Responsive Politics Web site.”
The May 20 editorial, “Spinning, Spying and USA Today,” recounted: “With Verizon and BellSouth both challenging USA Today's report on their alleged participation in NSA's surveillance programs, it's not yet clear whether or to what extent the claims in the Gannett daily's much-discussed article are true. What's clearer is that USA Today reporter Leslie Cauley has ties to the Democratic Party, which the Media Research Center's 'NewsBusters' Web site unearthed yesterday. Searching through campaign-filing records, Rich Noyes discovered that Miss Cauley gave $2,000 to then-Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt in 2003. That's the type of activity that journalists normally avoid if they wish to be perceived as objective...” (How Rush Limbaugh also picked up the posting, follows)
NewsBusters' Rich Noyes has reported on the Democratic affiliations of the USA Today reporter who "broke" the NSA phone records story.
Other journalists are worried about the loss of credibility to the profession in general if the story turns out to be false. Reports Editor and Publisher:
The USA Today phone records scoop, which is drawing increased scrutiny as phone companies dispute elements of the report, has also sparked interest among those in the news business, as well as longtime journalism observers.
Editors and veteran journalists who spoke with E&P are mixed on how the situation has been handled by all involved, with some claiming that the outcome could impact how news outlets report sensitive intelligence information in the future.
BellSouth Corp. has sent a letter to USA Today and the newspaper's parent company, Gannett, demanding the retraction of a story which said the phone company shared its customers calling records with a federal spy agency, according to a Thursday report in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. The letter demanded that the newspaper retract the "faults and unsubstantiated statements" in the May 11 article, which said BellSouth and some of its rivals shared bulk calling data with the National Security Agency, the Journal said. The story ignited a firestorm about government intrusion into consumer privacy and led to lawsuits against BellSouth, Verizon Communications Inc., and AT&T Inc. A phone call to BellSouth wasn't immediately returned. End of Story
Stunning news from Expatica's German edition (bolds are mine; because of its brevity, the entire report is included here):
Germans say al-Qaeda no longer organizing strikes
18 May 2006
DUESSELDORF - Al-Qaeda's hierarchy in western Europe has vanished and the terrorist network's leadership has largely ceased direct management of attacks, a senior German police intelligence officer told a trial court this week.
She said the al-Qaeda leadership now mainly relied on video and internet proclamations to inspire Islamists in the western world to act on their own.
Germany's BKA federal crime agency had no evidence of Islamists swearing an oath of loyalty to Osama bin Laden since 2001 to become al-Qaeda members. The only terrorist to have done so since that date was Abu-Musab al-Sarqawi, the Jordanian who mounts attacks in Iraq.
Part-Time Pundit says "another drive-by media attempt to discredit" Bush and claim the Republicans "are trying to usher in a new era of fascism has fallen flat on its face."
Claims by USA Today using sources with “direct knowledge of the program” that the NSA has been collecting massive databases of phone calls don’t appear to match with the records of two of the three apparent participants, Verizon and Bell South....
Once again, we are faced with an “objective” journalistic medium that didn’t do enough footwork to verify the claims that were made before it splashed them on the front page and riled the population. The irony is that it appears the population would support such a database if it existed.
Here is the most insincere question a liberal TV news star can ask: How can President Bush turn around his poll numbers? Imagine how they would have reacted if Rush Limbaugh had pretended to worry how Bill Clinton was going to turn around his fortunes. The media’s crocodile tears are not even laughable, just nauseating. Pushing down the president’s approval rating seems to be their daily task.
The newest manufactured brouhaha – over the National Security Agency creating a database of phone records to track terrorist phone patterns -- was just the latest in a long string of stories trumped up to make Bush look not just incorrect, but dictatorial, even evil. USA Today hyped the story, and the media pack lapped it up, but it failed the first test of newsworthiness: is it new? No. USA Today’s scoop was mostly a retelling of what the New York Times reported last Christmas Eve, that the phone companies had given the NSA "access to streams of international and domestic communications."
Did USA Today skew their poll results of the NSA phone collection scandal? It sure looks that way. As Brent Baker has already reported, On May 12, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a poll to find out whether Americans support the NSA’s collection of phone call records. They asked this question:
"It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?"
House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Michigan) wrote an op-ed in Saturday’s Los Angeles Times that should be must reading for all Americans, especially those that believe the leaking of national security information is actually a good thing if it helps your party regain power. In it, Hoekstra practically attacked USA Today for its recent front-page article concerning the National Security Agency collecting domestic phone records:
“WE ARE IN the first war of the Information Age, and we have a critical advantage over our enemy: We are far better at gathering intelligence. It's an advantage we must utilize, and it's keeping us safe. But every time classified national security information is leaked, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded.”
Hoekstra continued: “We suffered a setback Thursday when USA Today ran a front-page story alleging that the National Security Agency was collecting domestic phone records. This article hurt our efforts to protect Americans by giving the enemy valuable insights into the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which has been focused like a laser beam on Al Qaeda and its known associates.”
Hoekstra then stepped forward to defend the actions of the NSA and the president:
Okay, selling Oprah as God-like has been done as a joke before, but Yahoo is highlighting an Ann Oldenburg article in USA Today taking it seriously, headlined "The divine Miss Winfrey?" Oldenburg began:
After two decades of searching for her authentic self -- exploring New Age theories, giving away cars, trotting out fat, recommending good books and tackling countless issues from serious to frivolous – Oprah Winfrey has risen to a new level of guru...Over the past year, Winfrey, 52, has emerged as a spiritual leader for the new millennium, a moral voice of authority for the nation.
"She's a really hip and materialistic Mother Teresa," says Kathryn Lofton, a professor at Reed College in Portland, Ore., who has written two papers analyzing the religious aspects of Winfrey. "Oprah has emerged as a symbolic figurehead of spirituality." (Later, Lofton added, "She's a moral monitor, using herself as the template against which she measures the decency of a nation.")
Seismic! Shocking! Startling! A bombshell!! That’s how the ABC, CBS and NBC morning shows described a front-page story in today’s (Thursday’s) USA Today that breathlessly touted how “NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls.” Like the TV coverage, USA Today’s story insinuated that the existence of the database was a major violation of Americans’ privacy rights and evidence that the President was lying last December when he described the NSA’s eavesdropping on suspected terrorist communications as limited and targeted.
Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.
And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”
Let’s look at USA Today's story which ran just five days after the media began reporting on the rape allegation and its fallout. I think even those of you with a low opinion of MSM will be shocked by the story’s blatant bias.
The flier being distributed outside Duke's student union Wednesday night looked like a wanted poster: 40 faces of young men, smiling smugly for the camera.
What was most disturbing to those gathered was the possibility several of the Duke men's lacrosse players whose photos were arranged in those neat rows may have committed criminal charges, including forcible rape and sodomy.
On Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, Dobbs scolded “this country's major daily newspapers” for how they “misled” readers in their coverage of immigration rallies since “their headlines failed to tell the truth about what the rallies are all about: Rallies in favor of illegal immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens.” Dobbs showed the front pages of four newspapers, starting with the New York Times' headline of “Immigrants Rally in Scores of Cities for Legal Status,” followed by the Washington Post's description of “Immigration Rights Rallies,” USA Today's “Historic rallies voice a 'dream'” and the Wall Street Journal's “Immigration-Policy Protests Draw Huge Crowds of Workers.”
Dobbs, however, offered praise for one newspaper's “astute” take, quoting approvingly from a Tuesday Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial which contended: “Organizers wanted the marches to be more about people and less about policy. Most television stations swallowed the bait and delivered news reports soft enough to follow Sesame Street on PBS.” (Transcript, of the comments from Dobbs, follows.)
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.)
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."
Then the author starts citing statistics about the number of soldiers deserting "since the Iraq war began" in an another bogus effort to show that troops disagree with the war and are fleeing in droves. Then the article cites the head of Citizen Soldier, an anti-war group that offers legal aid to deserters, and says
Some lawyers who represent deserters say the war in Iraq is driving more soldiers to question their service...
Is the war in Iraq really driving more soldiers to question their service? Not if we look at the very statistics cited in this same article.
Since fall 2003, 4,387 Army soldiers, 3,454 Navy sailors and 82 Air Force personnel have deserted. The Marine Corps does not track the number of desertions each year but listed 1,455 Marines in desertion status last September, the end of fiscal 2005
That's 9,296 desertions over 2+ years. But if you look at the stats for just 2001, a single year prior to the start of the Iraq war:
The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in 2001, compared with 3,456 in 2005. The Marine Corps showed 1,603 Marines in desertion status in 2001.
There were 9,581 deserters in 2001 alone... 2 years BEFORE the Iraq war began and then 2 years AFTER the start of the war, there were only 3,456.
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.