Americans love to talk sports. Polite Americans don't talk religion. So when those two things meet, the news media has no idea what to make of it.
Unfortunately for journalists, sports and religion - Christianity in particular - seem to be publicly mingling more often these days. Some star athletes are more outspoken in their faith, while many others regularly find themselves in need of spiritual, if not legal, redemption.
Liberals in the media don't understand religion and religious people, so when they surface on the playing field, the resulting coverage veers wildly from awkwardly respectful to clueless to downright contemptuous.
Fox's Brit Hume caused a firestorm by suggesting on air that Tiger Woods could find "forgiveness and redemption" in Christianity, rather than the casual Buddhism the golfer has said he practices. Woods, whose marriage and career are in melt-down because of his serial infidelities, should "turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world," Hume said. And in doing so, the former anchorman committed several mortal sins in modern secular America.
With his unconventional pass delivery and a physical style that seems just as comfortable running the ball anyway, some wonder if University of Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow will achieve NFL glory. But football fans just may get to see the story of the Heisman Trophy winner and unapologetic Christian impact the pro sport's biggest game of the year.
Colorado-based conservative group Focus on the Family reportedly may buy a Super Bowl spot for an ad about how Tebow’s mother carried him to term despite a difficult and dangerous pregnancy.
If true, it would be just another example of Tebow annoying the secular left. The quarterback is as famous for wearing Bible passage citations on his game-day eye black as for winning an NCAA championship. As NewsBusters has detailed, that practice – and the faith it symbolizes – is irksome to some commentators.
Like a football coach trying to explain away the trouncing his team just took by building up the opponent, Janet Napolitano is seeking to diminish the Obama administration's NWA 253 failure by exaggerating the cunning of the Christmas Day plot.
The hapless Homeland Security head has a 679-word piece in today's USA Today basically promising to do better. She begins with this line [emphasis added]:
Friday's attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 near Detroit is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since September 11, 2001.
"Great lengths?" Really? You buy a plane ticket for a kid, stick a few ounces of explosives in his nappies, then hope he'll make it onboard and remember which end to light.
Every now and then, we at NewsBusters like to point out a solid piece of journalism, instances where the media report news that cuts against the liberal narrative of the world that the MSM usually churn out.
And so today, I thought I'd pass along how USA Today noted today that "Fast-food standards for meat top those for school lunches" (h/t NB intern Mike Sargent ):
In the past three years, the government has provided the nation's schools with millions of pounds of beef and chicken that wouldn't meet the quality or safety standards of many fast-food restaurants, from Jack in the Box and other burger places to chicken chains such as KFC, a USA TODAY investigation found.
That isn't always the case. McDonald's, Burger King and Costco, for instance, are far more rigorous in checking for bacteria and dangerous pathogens. They test the ground beef they buy five to 10 times more often than the USDA tests beef made for schools during a typical production day.
And the limits Jack in the Box and other big retailers set for certain bacteria in their burgers are up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef.
At the top of Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews discovered the reason for President Obama’s political difficulties in recent months: “President Obama has his chin out on just about every hot issue out there....He’s exposed and vulnerable. His poll numbers are dropping. Is he just too darned intellectual? Too much the egg head?”
Later in the show, Matthews talked to Atlantic Media’s Ron Brownstein and USA Today’s Susan Page about Obama’s great flaw. He began by wondering: “I’m not attacking intellectuals because I do appreciate their contribution – but when politicians begin to get a little too intellectual, they lose connection with the American people....I begin to think this administration’s getting almost like one that you would imagine Adlai Stevenson running. Highly ethereal, highly intellectual, egg head. Not connected to real people and their emotional gut feelings about things.”
Page agreed and pointed out: “...there are many strengths to the Obama administration, but they’ve got an awful lot of people who went to Ivy League schools, which is great, but you also need some people who went to big state colleges.” Luckily, Page found an ‘average Joe’ in the administration: “Vice President Biden’s been the target of some fun, he is maybe the only voice in that inner circle that reflects that kind of big state school mentality.”
Openly gay actor Ian McKellen recently told Details magazine that he proudly defaces Bibles left in hotel nightstands, ripping out pages containing verses which condemn homosexual behavior. USA Today's Leslie Miller picked up on this yesterday for the paper's "Faith & Reason" blog, after spying a blog post by colleague Barbara De Lollis in a November 16 post for her Hotel Check-In blog for USA Today.
For her part, De Lollis relayed the news item and wondered, "Could word of McKellen's habit spark a movement?" De Lollis went on to ask:
Wanda Sykes debuted her new comedy show Saturday on Fox. That critics met the show with reviews of varying degrees of mediocrity is hardly surprising, as Sykes simply recycled years of Bush-bashing and Obamamania into her monologue, which set the mood for the show.
Sykes is well known in political circles for proclaiming "I hope his kidneys fail" in reference to Rush Limbaugh at this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. She went on to make fun of Limbaugh's former drug addiction, liken him to terrorists, and call for him to be waterboarded.
So it came as little surprise that Sykes kicked off her new show with attacks on Ann Coulter, discussions of environmentally-friendly sex toys, accusations of racism leveled against Rush Limbuagh, and an anti-Bush, Obama-crazed diatribe (video and partial transcript below the fold).
“President Obama may not have delivered on all the policy changes he promised since his election a year ago, but he and his family have brought dramatic social change to the nation's capital and to the country's collective image of its first family,” USA Today's Mimi Hall and Maria Puente gushed in a front page story on Tuesday marking a year since President Obama's election, “With cultural 'flair,' Obamas updating first family's image.” The two reporters began by describing Barack and Michelle Obama as just like any other hip couple:
He carries a smartphone on his hip, goes out for burgers and plays pickup hoops. She goes to their daughters' soccer games, works in the garden and loves listening to her iPod. Together, they host poets, artists and musicians at their house and invite neighborhood kids to drop by.
The journalistic duo soon featured this glowing assessment: “'The Obamas' White House is the most open for cultural and intellectual activities since the Kennedy administration,' says Douglas Brinkley, author and presidential historian at Rice University in Houston. 'It's not simply a matter of doing events of statecraft and cultural gravitas. They have a great flair for American pop culture.'”
The paper's headline at its report on Thursday's government announcement that the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at an annualized 3.5% after four consecutive quarters of decline was not only over the top. Its message went directly against an admonishment by an economist quoted in Paul Davidson's underlying report, which was to not "get carried away by the really strong number."
Many commentators, while gratified that GDP growth occurred, have cautioned that the growth was influenced heavily by government programs that either have already run their course with debatable long-term impact (e.g., Cash for Clunkers), or are probably not going to last much longer even if extended (e.g., the first-time homebuyers' credit), simply because the government is running trillion-dollar annual deficits and can't afford them.
The latest newspaper circulation numbers, measuring copies sold from April through September of this year, show a 10.6 percent decline in daily newspaper sales, the first double-digit drop in circulation ever. Newspaper readership is now at its lowest level since before World War II.
The biggest losers during this six-month period, as reported by NewsBusters's Tom Blumer, were the San Francisco Chronicle (down 25.8 percent daily), the Newark Star-Ledger (down 22.2 percent daily), and the Boston Globe (down 18.5 percent daily).
The New York Times's sales during the period fell to 927,861, the first time the paper sold less than 1 million copies in that time span in decades. The Wall Street Journal saw a 0.6 percent increase in circulation, making it the most purchased newspaper in the country. The Journal surpassed USA Today, whose circulation declined by over 17 percent.
It's a variation on the old riddle, "What's black and white, but read all over?"
If you change one word and add two others, the answer to the resulting question -- "What's still mostly black and white, but red all over?" -- would be, based on just-released information about their daily circulation, "all but one of the nation's top 25 newspapers turning in comparative numbers."
Here are a few paragraphs from Michael Liedtke's coverage of the carnage at the Associated Press, which depends largely on newspaper subscription fees for its lifeblood. Note the "so far" reference in Liedtke's third paragraph:
The Obama ascendency, the president's acolytes have been keen on telling us, is the dawn of a new post-partisan era. But a development that undercuts that fiction -- the Obama Justice Department's recent move to scuttle non-partisan local elections in Kinston, North Carolina, on the basis of racial and partisan considerations -- has escaped the interest of the mainstream media.
Both the Washington Times (in a Tuesday front-pager) and NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com have reported the story, but a Nexis search today yielded no stories from print outlets such as the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, or Los Angeles Times. Broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC have also failed to touch the story. Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" briefly discussed the story shortly before 7:00 a.m. EDT on the October 21 edition with Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund.
A search for news stories about the controversy on Google News this morning yielded only 14 hits, most of them from conservative organizations or blogs.
Below is an excerpt from CNSNews.com reporter Adam Brickley's October 21 story:
It's hard to find fault with such an exemplary young man, but I have.
In a Monday story in USA Today, religion writer Tom Krattenmaker reported these findings:
"Tebow does his missionary trips to the Philippines under the auspices of his father Bob Tebow's Evangelistic Association. The Tebow organization espouses a far-right theology. Its bottom line: Only those who assent to its version of Christianity will avoid eternal punishment. The ministry boldly declares, 'We reject the modern ecumenical movement.'"
If Tebow is selling that, this Lutheran isn't buying.
Add USA Today to the growing list of media outlets smearing Rush Limbaugh as a racist to support their opposition to Limbaugh becoming an NFL team owner as part of a group bidding to purchase the St. Louis Rams. In a column featured on page 3 of Monday's Sports section, Drew Sharp, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press -- which like USA Today is owned by Gannett -- declared “the NFL should pass on Rush.” Sharp argued:
The league cannot be that hamstrung in finding deep-pocketed financiers that it's left with no alternative but embracing someone whose occupational practice is making people feel more comfortable within their own prejudices.
Two paragraphs later, Sharp bemoaned: “Limbaugh's quest to buy the St. Louis Rams simply becomes another act in the football freak show.” And he concluded: “When you really think about it, Limbaugh's bombastic style perfectly meshes with a league mind-set that's already sacrificed its scruples.”
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on this morning's edition of "Fox & Friends" to discuss how the mainstream media is downplaying or ignoring ACORN's history of legal trouble over voter fraud, all while casting the liberal community organizer as the victim of conservatives and Republicans.
Fox News anchor Steve Doocy had Mr. Bozell explain the inaccuracies in a September 23 USA Today article.
You can watch the video by clicking the play button in the embed at the right. A transcript appears below the page break:
Head for the hills! There is yet another monster with a strange Japanese name that is threatening destruction of our coastal cities! No, it is not Godzilla or Rodan. This is a much more destructive monster, at least in the fervid imaginations of the global warming alarmists: "Modoki."
The warning about a possible Modoki attack was sounded by Doyle Rice in the Science Fair section of USA Today:
Global warming could have a dramatic effect on El Niño, the periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that alters global weather patterns and calms Atlantic hurricane seasons, according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature.
Specifically, the warming might help spur the development of a secondary El Niño, one which forms thousands of miles to the west in the central Pacific Ocean, near the International Date Line. Unlike its kin to the east, the central Pacific El Niño appears to cause more Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
For all that critics have hailed ABC's "Modern Family" for its non-stereotypical portrayal of a gay couple, the show itself is stereotypical Hollywood propaganda.
"Modern Family," filmed in a mock-documentary style, examines the lives of three couples from one family. Patriarch Jay (Ed O'Neill) is married to a much-younger, feisty Colombian woman. His daughter Claire is married to Phil who treats parenting like playtime. Jay's son Mitchell, is gay, and when the show began, has just adopted a baby with his partner Cameron.
Producers treated the 12.7 million viewers who tuned in Wednesday night for the premiere to a pro-gay adoption speech within the first two minutes of the program.
Give Sharon Silke Carty of USA Today credit for unearthing important information about the serious back-office problems with Uncle Sam's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers."
But Carty didn't do nearly as much as she could have with the information she learned. Her most grievous oversights were her failures to compare the government's newly promised payment timetable to the 10 days dealers were told to expect, and to explain to her readers the extra unreimbursed costs dealers will have incurred as a result of the program even if (emphasis if) dealers receive full payment for their Clunker transactions.
USA Today reporter Richard Wolf's Tuesday news story on President Barack Obama's vacation book reading list flattered Obama for his “smart” and “exquisite” choice in the five books the White House announced Monday he had picked to read. “Taken together, they are a smart collection for 'someone who really appreciates the written word,' says Susan Mercier, manager of Edgartown Books here,” Wolf wrote from Martha's Vineyard island. “'I would not classify any of those as light fiction. They're pretty meaty works,' Mercier said. 'I hope he has time to sit and read them, because he's a busy guy.'”
In the article in the August 25 newspaper, “President's reading list a hefty one: From 'upscale thrillers' to a Pulitzer winner,” which ran below a montage of the covers of the five books, Wolf also relayed more effusive praise: “Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said the list shows that Obama 'has exquisite taste. All five of his picks are classics.'”
Barack Obama's many failings are increasingly apparent. Consequently, even the mainstream media are finding it difficult to keep up the facade. So difficult, in fact, that USA Today now deems newsworthy the findings of a 12-person focus group conducted by a longtime Democratic operative.
TOWSON, Md. — President Obama has seen his approval ratings slide, but a dozen independent voters who gathered here for a roundtable discussion about politics were still inclined to give him a break.
The area residents expressed deep worry about the country's direction and a sobering view of the problems ahead. There was also a reservoir of good feeling for a president several referred to familiarly as "Barack."
Asked what he would like to say to Obama, Scott Wood, 35, who has been looking for a job since February, advised: "Don't give up yet; we haven't."
Call it "Yankee Imperialist Corrupts Impressionable Iraqi Youth":
Am I supposed to believe that USA Today had no other more relevant pictures they could have used? The fact that they went back to an AP file photo from 2007 is pretty strong evidence that USAT's page-fillers were looking to make a point.
Not one to let "a serious crisis to go to waste," Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the onset of the Great Depression as an excuse to immediately begin delivering New Deal dollars in unprecedented amounts - with laser-like political precision to electorally important parts of the country. He sailed to landslide reelection in 1936 on a federally-funded tailwind.
The New Deal is now an old one - as direct mail guru Richard Viguerie describes it, "We've got money, you've got votes, let's talk." If this is what Time had in mind for Obama to learn, he has proven to be an apt pupil.
And USA Today seems to have picked up on it.
We at the Media Research Center always love to give journalistic credit when and where it is due. And the USA Today today deserves serious credit for Brad Heath's look into how:
"Billions of dollars in federal aid delivered directly to the local level to help revive the economy have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year's presidential election."
That quote is in fact the first sentence of the article. No burying the lede or mincing of words here.
On June 26, the House narrowly passed the controversial Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act to limit carbon emissions, but USA Today readers can be forgiven for not knowing it. Instead of covering a hotly debated bill that could result in “the largest tax increase in history,” the newspaper devoted its’ coverage to the death of pop star Michael Jackson.
Jackson, who passed away June 25, dominated USA Today. Nine articles were devoted to Jackson on June 26 and 29. The June 26 front page blared: “MICHAEL King of Pop dies” over a photo of Jackson that took up much of the remainder of the page. The top of USA Today advertised: “Faces of Jackson: Keepsake posters, 8-9D.” Jackson also was the headline on June 29: “Inside Michael’s Last Show.”
USA Today’s Maria Puente has proven herself to be a eager member of the Michelle Obama Fawn Club. Wednesday’s Life section advertised again that the First Lady enjoyed a "meteoric rise as a fashion icon." This time, Puente celebrated new books oozing over Michelle. The story began:
A chic sheath dress in a bold color — that is the unmistakable Michelle Obama look, one she has made her own as first lady of the United States, according to two new books celebrating Obama's fashion sense.
Her image is everywhere you look these days: Last week, Obama was given a Board of Directors' Special Tribute Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which noted her "meteoric rise as a fashion icon." Last month, she was in Paris, where she once again shone next to super-chic French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
Blago and Burris, Sitting in a tree, But they'd rather we not know their political party.
There has been yet another revelation about contacts between Democratic President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate successor, Democrat Roland Burris and former Illinois Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich over Blago's pre-Senate appointment, uh, deliberations. A released FBI audio recording reveals that Burris offered to make a campaign contribution to Blago as he lobbied to be selected.
This news has brought on yet another wave of stories that fail to tell us what party Blago and Burris belong to.
The Washington Post is the only publication that identified the party of both men in the course of reporting their story. The Post's Peter Slevin and Perry Bacon Jr. also identified the Democratic Party affiliation of the Senate Ethics Committee's Barbara Boxer:
Katie Couric sees America through a very dark prism. On Monday, she launched a new “Children of the Recession” series, in collaboration with USA Today, with an op-ed in “the nation's newspaper” in which she speculated today's kids may become the “Recession Generation” since “in some ways, I think they already are,” or the “innocent victims could become the Lost Generation.”
Then, on Monday's CBS Evening News, she portrayed America as in such a bad way that it reminded her of the Great Depression, asserting the impact of the recession “may be” to children “what the depression was to an earlier generation.” In a story on the “Safe Families for Children” program that helps overwhelmed families hand their kids temporarily to other families, Couric raised the most ominous comparison: “Volunteer families stepping in during tough times is reminiscent of the Great Depression when parents in dire straits sent their children to live with relatives or other people in the community.”
In the May 18 USA today op-ed, “The recession's tiniest victims need help, too,” Couric denigrated the kind of news she's presented as dealing with “things and places that are cold, vague, incomprehensible” (quite an endorsement for her newscast!), before pivoting to how the real news is an anecdote-based recounting of the plight of a few kids:
After the hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama, we often heard from the mainstream media about how shipping executive companies don't want to arm their civilian crews for fear of an escalation of violence from pirates, not to mention the potential legal and liability headaches presented by such a policy change.
Well, yesterday, shipping company executive Philip Shapiro threw a wrench in that meme in his testimony before a Senate subcommittee in which he called for Congress to remove the legal and regulatory obstacles to arming civilian merchant vessels.
Unfortunately the story was ignored this morning by the broadcast network morning shows. What's more, Nexis and Web site searches yielded no print stories from today's Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times -- although there is an online article by Rebecca Cole available here -- or the New York Times. The Gray Lady also failed to report on Richard Phillips' pro-armed crew remarks last week.
To its credit, CNN, both in print and broadcast, reported the story. From a May 5 CNN.com story:
While most of the mainstream media yawned at news that former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was refusing Notre Dame's Laetare award due to the university honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama, USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman sure hasn't.
The religion reporter/blogger found her own unique, passive-aggressive way to slam Glendon's stand on principle by suggesting she's a self-righteous hypocrite.
In her April 30 post, "Who's a good enough Catholic for Notre Dame's top honor?", Grossman delighted in excerpting a satirical open letter by Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, who penned a blog post for America magazine making light of the university's pressing need to find a new person to honor with the coveted Laetare Award (emphasis mine):