In Washington, many people look to Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales to see how the President's State of the Union went, at least as a televised event. Shales said it was competent, if forgettable. But his opening paragraph was bizarre:
Whether George W. Bush is, at best, the worst president since Herbert Hoover -- as a seemingly sizable number of Americans appear to believe -- he acquitted himself fairly well and came off as basically competent when he delivered his fifth State of the Union speech last night.
Could we have a footnote, please? You can't find much in Google, unless you're taking a poll of liberal professional historians who still pine for the sepia-toned prospect of President Mario Cuomo. Is Shales just taking a humorous bit of poetic license? If so, he ought to be clearer about it.
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]
The Washington Post has chosen to run on their opinion page this morning, in advance of tonight's State Of The Union Address, an apparent attempt at humor from someone named David Atkins. It's a mocking, snarky piece, that is, unfortunately for the Post, not close enough to reality to actually be funny. Written in the first person voice of President Bush, though strangely lacking in malaprop and grammatical errors, it purports to be a "fact-check" on things in the SOTU that aren't strictly accurate. Some of the "highlights" include:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has alerted me that the line, "No person is above the law" should instead be "One person is above the law." My comment that "we have carefully listened to critics of our domestic surveillance program" should have read "listened in on..."
In the past few months, conceivably the greatest attention given by the antique media to any subject has been to quash the confirmation of Samuel L. Alito to the Supreme Court. According to a LexisNexis search, CBS News has done 156 stories on this nominee's background along with objections to his confirmation. ABC News has done 174. NBC News has done 133. CNN has done a staggering 679.
As for the print media, the Washington Post has done 257, while the New York Times has done an extraordinary 339.
Yet, despite all the efforts by the antique media to block it, Mr. Alito was just confirmed in the Senate by the vote of 58 to 42. It appears that the losing streak of the antique media continues unabated.
Following up on Tim Graham's NewsBusters report on a Washington Post article about a study claiming "that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did," I have a few questions I wish the Post story had answered.
Here's three paragraphs from the article, explaining that study. As you read them, ask yourself: Does the conclusion of paragraph three follow from what is said in paragraphs one and two?
For their study, Nosek, Banaji and social psychologist Erik Thompson culled self-acknowledged views about blacks from nearly 130,000 whites, who volunteered online to participate in a widely used test of racial bias that measures the speed of people's associations between black or white faces and positive or negative words. The researchers examined correlations between explicit and implicit attitudes and voting behavior in all 435 congressional districts.
On the Monday "Science" page of the Washington Post, reporter Shankar Vedantam offers the liberal Post readership some comforting news: studies show conservative voters are motivated by racism. That's not in the first paragraph. It sneaks in about halfway through the article, and explains the headline "Study Ties Political Leanings to Hidden Biases."
[T]hat study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did.
"What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right," said University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek, who helped conduct the race analysis. "We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior, even things in our own lives."
Still, one cannot help but feel anything but optimistic if one depended on such as the mainstream media for its cues.
Balz opens the piece in typical Bush-bashing fashion, a hallmark of liberal writers and observers, stating that the State of the Union Address to be given by the president on Tuesday is "eagerly anticipated by Democrats and fraught with worries for Republicans,whose hopes in November may depend in large part on how successfully Bush can turn around his troubled presidency."
Buried a little inside my Prince William weekly section of the Washington Post on Thursday was a story by Michael D. Shear touting the boldness of new Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who will provide the Democratic response to President Bush's State of the Union this week. The headline is "Kaine Going Boldly Where Few Dare to Tread." This is becoming a habit. Remember Shear is the same "objective" reporter who touted Gov. Mark Warner with the recent front-pager headlined "Warner's Triumphant Legacy No Easy Feat: Bipartisan-Minded Governor Broke Tax Vow But Revived Va." Shear is amazed that Kaine is taking on the developers' lobby with slow-growth talk, and...
The Denver Post editorial staff who attacked the NSA international intercept program yesterday probably think of themselves as bold crusaders for domestic civil rights. Unfortunately for them, they comes across as willfully ill-informed. Again.
President Bush launched a campaign-style offensive this week to defend his secret executive order allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without court warrants, on phone calls and Internet traffic in the United States.
His advisers hope the publicity blitz will impress the public in advance of Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday and upcoming congressional hearings on whether the president has the authority to order such surveillance.
There’s an old rule in marketing – stick to what sells. Lately, it appears that America’s media are doing exactly that.
Since the significant rebound in the president’s poll numbers from their October lows, along with an apparent lack of outrage by the public concerning the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and revelations of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency, the media seem to be downplaying reports on current events, and, instead, focusing attention on last year’s big story that was largely responsible for the decline in Bush’s favorability ratings.
In the past three days, the media have given more air time and print space to issues surrounding Hurricane Katrina, an event that occurred at the end of August 2005, than a one and a half-hour question and answer session in Kansas that the president held on Monday, and a one-hour address that the second most powerful intelligence figure in our nation gave concerning terrorist surveillance the same day.
Yesterday's Canadian election confirmed what polls and pundits had been reporting: Millions of voters strongly favored the Conservatives and were disgusted by the Liberal Party's stumbling social policies and massive corruption.
The Post only quoted one person who even claimed to have voted Conservative. And it told its readers said she did so “reluctantly:”
"I think we have to give it a try. But I am very afraid that it will be too far right," said Florence Koven, 72, emerging from the polls after voting -- reluctantly, she said -- for the Conservative Party. "The unknown always concerns you. Mr. Harper (the Conservative leader) says he is a changed man; we'll see how much he has changed."
Yes indeed, all of us on both sides of the border need to be sooo careful about voting for Conservatives. And if they win, we must always hope they change once in office.
The Post's management continues to insist the paper doesn't have a liberal bias. What's more, the editors tell us that when covering an election, their reporters find out what voters are saying and tell us.
Well, if that's the case, how did The Post miss all the Canadians who would have been happy to tell its reporters: "We're sick and tired of the Liberals and glad the Conservatives are going in?"
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.”
Virginia state Sen. Russell Potts decided to run for governor last fall as an Independent, trashing GOP nominee Jerry Kilgore all the way. Democrat Tim Kaine ended up winning easily. But today, Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman takes GOP anger and goes a little wild with the metaphors: "Incensed by Potts's run against Republican nominee Jerry W. Kilgore, party activists had screamed for his blood."
But the very next sentence is more accurate and less hyperbolic: "They demanded that Potts's Republican colleagues throw him out of their caucus, kick him off his five committees and strip him of his chairmanship." Helderman then goes on to describe "seething" conservatives (and at least the reader learns why):
There's only a traffic-warning mention of the "March for Life" in my Metro section of the Washington Post today, but they're not free of protest news. On page B-2, reporter Stephanie McCrummen files a press release (or do they call this an objective "news" presentation?) on a Unitarian "protest" event for so-called "gay marriage." The headline is "Church Ceremony Celebrates Gay Pairs: Straight Couples Join in Vows of Commitment at Protest Event in Arlington." Nowhere in the story is there a single conservative voice to represent what the "protest" is against at the UU church in Arlington, not even a cursory explanation of the conservative view, described as "mean-spirited" by the story's subjects.
There is also no liberal or radical label for anyone in the story, although the C-word does emerge as McCrummen explains "To a large extent, the ceremony in the rectangular, concrete-and-glass church was also about demonstrating a religious ethic that is counter to the more conservative one preached from many pulpits."
One conservative critique of Unitarians is that they don't have a "religious ethic" as much as an ideological ethic. They seem more organized for liberal activism than for worshiping God. Mysteriously, the Post story even downplays the political lobbying going on after this ceremony. The church's events page reports that in between Buddhist meditations, on Wednesday, they'll join the gay-left lobby group "Equality Virginia" in going to Richmond for "Lobby Day."
Since November, the media have carried around Rep. John Murtha around on their shoulders like a conquering hero for his opposition to the war in Iraq. They’ve thrown around the words “war hero” like clowns throwing candy at a parade. Murtha was broadcast far and wide attacking Vice President Cheney for his five deferments from Vietnam, suggesting these chicken hawks don’t like any suggestions about how to fight a war.
If Murtha were a Republican accusing a Democrat like this, we know what would happen. The so-called nonpartisan, objective, “mainstream” media would either (a) totally ignore him as an irrelevant, obscure House wacko, or (b) investigate his own military record to see if he earned all the “war hero” talk. And if discrepancies were found, all hell would break loose. And if you don’t believe me, just ask John O’Neill and the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, who underwent first (a) and then (b) when they challenged John Kerry.
Writing in the January 18 Washington Post, staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia begins a story about New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's apology with a reference to talk radio:
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 17 -- An avalanche of criticism, stoked by heated talk-radio rants, forced Mayor C. Ray Nagin to apologize Tuesday for declaring that God wants New Orleans to be a "chocolate city."
Nagin, who is black, had said during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech that "this city will be an African American majority city. It's the way God wants it to be." He also said "God is mad at America" and "is sending hurricane after hurricane" because He disapproves of the United States invading Iraq "under false pretenses."
FNC’s Brit Hume on Monday night picked up on how, in trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito as a bigot, Senator Ted Kennedy, in a quote showcased by many media outlets, read from what was really a satire. Hume noted how at the hearings last week Kennedy read this from a magazine published by Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP): “People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic.” Hume informed his viewers: “But the magazine's editor at the time says the article was pure satire, a send-up of what liberals think conservatives think. He added quote, 'I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them,' unquote." As Tim Graham noted in a Friday NewsBusters item, in his ABCNews.com blog that day, Jake Tapper first reported how Dinesh D’Souza, the editor to whom Hume referred, had let him know that the 1983 piece in Prospect magazine was satire.
Last week, NBC, CNN and the Washington Post -- amongst many other outlets -- highlighted Kennedy’s reading of the quote, which he displayed on a board behind him, yet none, as far as I’ve observed, have offered any clarification. NBC’s Pete Williams featured the Kennedy soundbite on Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News and Thursday’s Today; CNN’s Bob Franken recited it himself on Thursday’s American Morning; and two Thursday Washington Post stories quoted Kennedy’s citation of the quote. (Rundown follows.)
A little religion-news blogging before church on a Sunday morning...One liberal Web site devoted to religion and the news media is called The Revealer, operated by Jeff Sharlet, author of "Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible." (It's been favorably compared as spiritual writing on a plane with the oh-so-spiritual....Jack Kerouac.) But I find the site a useful window on the religion-and-the-news debate. Some times, I find useful tidbits where I didn't expect it: I've now discovered on the rebound that Planned Parenthood has now turned Michelangelo's portrait of God touching fingers with Adam to....have God handing Adam a condom. That's at least as outrageous as anything Pat Robertson says.
I'd like to add a word or two on the Washington Post's pickup today of the CNSNews.com story on John Murtha's medals. First, kudos to the Post for not ignoring the story, which it certainly could have done. (We all remember ABC going about three weeks with its fingers in its ears during the Swift Boat vets fight in 2004.) But the headline? "Web Site Attacks Critic of War." That's reasonably bland. But is that the way they see investigative journalism when they do it? "Post Attacks Tom DeLay"? Did they cover the CBS Memogate story as "CBS Attacks George W. Bush"? Or is there simply a story there to be told?
The story by Howard Kurtz and Shailagh Murray recounts the Murtha story well enough, and reasonably explains what CNSNews.com is all about. I think it's a little gratuitous to add that the site "averages 110,000 readers, mainly conservative, and provides material for other Web sites such as GOPUSA." Would Kurtz say the Post "averages a million readers, mainly liberals"? Would it go through the list of publications that buy Post articles through the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service or the Washington Post Writers Group for clues as to how liberal the newspaper is? (This was quickly used by lefty bloggers to tie CNS to "Jeff Gannon," the White House reporter they destroyed, although there's no real professional tie other than the Internet location.)
Today's Washington Post "Style" section carries a front-page article by Linton Weeks (normally on the book beat) headlined "Kate Michelman, The Public Face Of a Woman's Right to Privacy." Weeks finds no critics of Michelman, only "friends and well-wishers" at a Women's National Democratic Club event. It comes to a bizarre close with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's tribute: "Albright told everyone that Michelman had provided 'a voice for those who didn't have a voice and a brain for those who didn't have a brain.'" Isn't it just a wee bit perverse to hail the doyenne of the right-to-kill-the-unborn lobby as speaking for the "voiceless"?
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has been largely preoccupied and extraordinarily concerned about potential Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s apparent affiliation with a conservative, all-male organization while he attended Princeton...and America’s press are eating it up. A perfect example is Dana Milbank’s column in today’s Washington Post:
“It looked to be a second dreary day in the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court pick Samuel Alito, as the senators droned and the nominee dodged. Then, just before lunch, the old lion roared.
“Actually, it started as a growl. The gray-maned Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) read quotations published by a conservative Princeton group to which Alito belonged, protesting that blacks, Hispanics and women ‘don't know their place’ and suggesting medical experiments for gay Princeton students.”
Yet, the delicious irony that Milbank and most of the media failed to inform the public is that Kennedy himself was a member of an all-male social club when he attended Harvard. As reported by the Washington Times (hat tip to the Drudge Report):
Sam Alito fans must feel confident when the Washington Post Style section is mocking the Democrats for their "tender roast" of Alito. Marcia Davis writes lightly about how the Democrats promised a feisty brawl, but didn't deliver. When Sen. Cornyn suggested Alito was a lock, Davis wrote:
That's hard to take when Americans have been promised a smackdown. This is a reality TV nation, a WWF kinda country, where we like to see a fight even when we know it isn't real, even when we know the stakes might just be a bag of Cheetos.
So when it's the Supreme Court, well, that's when the sparks are supposed to fly. That's what Democrats had promised in the Alito hearings. The New Jersey judge with humble roots would replace the all-important swing seat of Sandra Day O'Connor, they said. Abortion rights are at stake. The issue of executive power is on the table like never before in light of the president's recent wiretapping episodes. Alito is a guy who may be an extremist posing as a moderate.
In the Promoting 2008 Democratic Presidential Hopefuls category, the Washington Post carried a goopy story promoting outgoing Gov. Mark Warner, hailed by some as the Southern-fried moderate alternative to Hillary "I Love New York So Much I Adopted It" Clinton. George Will used to scour Reagan by disdaining his "Morning in America goo." What the Post gave us today is "Morning in Virginia goo."
Michael D. Shear's article was headlined "Warner's Triumphant Legacy No Easy Feat: Bipartisan-Minded Governor Broke Tax Vow But Revived Va." It began:
Mark Robert Warner, the businessman-turned-politician, faced an immense budget gap, a steep learning curve and a legislature happy to see him fail when he was inaugurated as Virginia's 69th governor in 2002.
Over the next four years, he slashed the state's budget, stumbled repeatedly, proposed two tax increases -- and wound up as one of the most popular governors in the commonwealth's history. In November, Virginians chose a successor who campaigned as the second coming of Mark Warner.
One side benefit to my beloved Redskins advancing in the playoffs is the incredibly awkward position it's forced upon the Seattle Times. Even their liberal friends at the Washington Post found it notable enough to point out how Seattle Times' policy regarding Native American-inspired nicknames has put them in a bind regarding their coverage of this week's playoff game:
CHEAP SHOTS: To avoid insulting native American heritage, the Seattle Times decided to limit severely the use of the term Redskins in the paper -- even if a team with that name will dominate news coverage this week. The Times will not use the moniker in headlines or captions. Reporters can use it only once, as a first reference, in all stories. The Redskins will be referred to almost exclusively as Washington -- which could get a little confusing for local readers who also live in that state.
Howard Kurtz's "Media Notes" in The Washington Post, which is supposed to be a critique of media reporting, is very often closer to a whitewash. Today's Kurtz column is an example of just that.
After dissecting, and mostly defending, the "they're alive, they're dead" reporting calamity, Kurtz criticizes what he sees as media disinterest in on-the-job health and safety reporting:
The larger issue is that much of the press has abandoned reporting on health and safety regulation until disaster strikes. How many reporters have dug into the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration, which under the Bush administration was run by a former Utah mine manager until last year?
..... "I have tried to get the general press interested," says Ellen Smith, owner of the trade publication Mine Safety and Health News. "I just kind of gave up."
Today's Washington Post chat with political reporter Shailagh Murray featured some prognosticating bravado from Murray, who insisted Tom DeLay's political career was over: "I would put my chips on DeLay not being on the ballot in November." From there, a weird questioner from New Mexico jumped in:
Albuquerque, N.M.: The murder of NYT reporter-editor, David E. Rosenbaum is NOT even mentioned front page of Post this morning. Odd that the killing of a fellow journalist does not rate front page coverage...The intimidation of the press continues...Generally, robbers take your money but don't kill you, but assassins will take the money to try to make the crime look like a robbery.
In Sunday's "Book World" section of The Washington Post, Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham reviewed the new book by Richard Reeves titled "President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination." He noted:
President Reagan marks a surrender of sorts. The establishment has, for the moment at least, given in and decided that Reagan was a great historical figure after all. That Reeves arrived at such a conclusion is particularly notable. Twenty years ago, in 1985, he published The Reagan Detour , arguing that "the Reagan years would be a detour, necessary if sometimes nasty, in the long progression of American liberal democracy."
Terry Mattingly explores how the media should "excommunicate" Pat Robertson from the Iron Rolodex as the gaffe list lengthens. The deepest dig: calling him the "Bishop Jack Spong of the far right." (Mattingly notices some of the same CBS interviews on Public Eye I noted Friday.)
The Washington Post editorial page very sloppily blurs Pat Robertson together with Iran's leader Ahmadinejad in the Saturday edition. You can lament Robertson's take on Sharon, but he's not a Holocaust denier or virulent Israel-hater. There's also an anti-Robertson cartoon. Is it just me, or have the Saturday cartoon spreads in the Post dumped their usual humorous, almost nonpartisan focus in favor of anti-conservative yuk-yuks?
Today's Washington Post Style section offers a pile of articles worthy of comment. First, Post fashion critic Robin Givhan saddled up for another politicized fashion critique, trashing the fashions of slimy GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Less predictable than Givhan trashing Abramoff (in betting terms, that article was a drop-dead lock) is Tom Shales going postal on NBC's desperate-Episcopal drama "Book of Daniel." His headline calls it "A Mean-Spirited, Unholy Mess."
In short, he concluded: "I cannot recall a series in which a greater number of characters seemed so desperately detestable -- a series with a larger population of loathsome dolts. There ought to be a worse punishment than cancellation for a show that tries this hard to be offensive and, even at that crass task, manages to fail."
The latest installment of NewsBusters' series on political bias in sports coverage features the Washington Post columnist Joel Achenbach, who, apropos of University of Texas quarterback Vince Young's performance in last night's national-championship college-football game, wrote on his blog that Young
did the impossible: He not only took his team from 12 back with only 6 minutes left, he kept me up past midnight. This hasn't happened in years. Young also got me to root, secretly, for Texas in those final minutes. You can't root openly for Texas, even in the privacy of your own living room, because of the, you know, political associations. Let's not get into that.