It's not something you often see talked about but there's basically an unwritten assumption in national political circles that if you're a political liberal and you're also a reporter, you should be willing to be a "team player" and not admit that you even are one.
This point is important, you see, because conservatives are liars bent on "hurting America" (to use Jon Stewart's phrase), so anything that gives them comfort is something you should never do.
That attitude was very much on display in an online chat today with former Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall. If you recall, Edsall was the one who caused a stir by admitting (to conservative talker Hugh Hewitt) the blatantly obvious fact that liberals dominate the national elite media. Everyone who has any sort of contact with the New York and DC press corps knows this. People who work for Democrats tell me it all the time.
But in the mind of some liberals, most of them journalists, this is something that should never be publicly talked about for fear that if "the little people" get wind of this fact, we won't believe the proposition that journalists are demigods who can invariably see past their personal and group biases. And if we don't believe that line from them, perhaps we'll begin to question the received wisdom we get from them on a daily basis. Maybe then, we might start realizing that what you believe is primarily shaped by the information you take in.
Dante Chinni writes in the Christian Science Monitor that Watergate hero Bob Woodward has an uncanny ability to produce quotes for whatever his line of narrative is at the moment.
As this Michael Ramirez cartoon demonstrates, even the most innocuous statement can be modified for a preestablished narrative.
It's exciting to feel as though you're a fly on the wall when, on July 10, 2001, then-CIA Director George Tenet tells then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that there is a "compelling case" to be made that Al Qaeda is preparing for "the big one." And as a reader of "State of Denial," Woodward's latest book on the Bush administration, there's frustration when you learn Mr. Tenet felt that he was "not getting through to Rice" and she was giving him "the brush off."
But then you wonder: Why didn't I hear this before now? It's 2006. Why hasn't more been made of the fact that Ms. Rice, now secretary of State, brushed off the CIA director's warning only two months before the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001? Those are good questions and they go to the heart of not only problems with "State of Denial," but the shortcomings inherent in the way Woodward puts his books together and the style of journalism he champions.
Tuesday's Washington Post carries one of those editorials disguised as a "news analysis" headlined "Bush's 'Axis of Evil' Comes Back to Haunt United States." The writers displayed their liberal stripes by quoting only Democrats and Clinton staffers. Reporters Glenn Kessler and Peter Baker began:
Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an "axis of evil" comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation: North Korea has claimed it conducted its first nuclear test, Iran refuses to halt its uranium-enrichment program, and Iraq appears to be tipping into a civil war 3 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion.
David Broder and Dan Balz wrote a rather lengthy, front-page story for the Washington Post this morning with the cautionary headline “Poll Shows Strong Shift Of Support to Democrats.” However, Broder and Balz chose not to share some key information from this poll with their readers, the most important of which being the political breakdown of those questioned. In fact, the meager percentage of Republican respondents to this survey should have led the Post to headline this article "Poll Shows Strong Shift Of Questions to Democrats!"
The article began: “Democrats have regained a commanding position going into the final weeks of the midterm-election campaigns, with support eroding for Republicans on Iraq, ethics and presidential leadership, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.”
Yet, nowhere did the authors let their readers know that 41 percent more Democrats were questioned for this survey than Republicans. That’s right. The breakdown was:
Everybody's got an opinion about what should've been done, and what needs to be done, about North Korea's nuclear weapons tests - especially, newspapers. An article by Susan Jones of CNSNews.com recaps how papers are blaming Bush and China, and providing foreign affairs advice about how to defuse the situation.
In Tuesday's Washington Post, Peter Marks praises "Get Your War On," a left-wing comedy performance at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Unsurprisingly, the critic from the liberal paper finds invective is a lovely thing, if applied to conservatives:
The show bills itself as 'Hardball.' But in surrounding himself with regulars who are either certified liberals or renegade Republicans, doesn't Chris Matthews prove himself to be a softy, unwilling or unable to take the high heat from true-blue Republican flamethrowers?
Let me say something that might surprise some NewsBusters readers and dismay others. I like Matthews. Not that conservatives are the arbiters of patriotism, but I do consider Chris someone who loves his country and, as misguided as he may be on various policy issues - has its best interests at heart. He's no Keith Olbermann.
That said, although he professes not to be a partisan and will speak to Democrats about "your" - not "our" - party, there can be little doubt that his rooting interest hasn't changed much since the days he was a top aide to Tip.
Shailagh Murray's front-page story in the Washington Post today is called "A Balancing Act in the Upper South." A better title might have been "I'm NARAL-Endorsed, But I'm Hoping You Don't Notice." It's funny how Murray can't seem to locate that endorsement, and she doesn't call McCaskill a pro-abortion liberal, but she is merely in the "mainstream" -- of the liberal Democratic Party:
As a supporter of abortion rights, McCaskill fits into her party's mainstream on the biggest of all lightning rods for cultural conservatives.She responds by mostly not talking about it, and is attempting to define her values more broadly.
It takes a lot of effort to miss 810,000 new jobs. The Labor Department managed it, but at least they corrected the problem. The networks have over-reported job losses and now this huge piece of good news got lost in the shuffle.
The October 8 Washington Post highlighted the incredible revision. “Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, the lowest in five years, the Labor Department reported, adding with some embarrassment that it had suddenly discovered an estimated 810,000 net new jobs that it had somehow overlooked in the year ended in March,” wrote Steven Pearlstein.
In all the many media interviews with Bob Woodward about his book, State of Denial, they were almost exclusively focused on the supposed mistakes of the Bush administration. The pundits almost unanimously concluded that Woodward's book would therefore be harmful to the Republicans going into this November's elections. However, overlooked by them is a section of the Woodward book that is now causing a firestorm in the Leftwing blogosphere against perhaps the most important Democrat political operative of them all, James Carville. M.J. Rosenberg in "The Coffeehouse" blog asks, "Did Carville Tip Bush Off to Kerry Strategy (Woodward)"?
For Virginia voters who may want a story or two about where their Senate candidates stand on the issues, they may want to try a newspaper other than The Washington Post. Once again today, aggressively Allen-bashing reporter Michael Shear is skipping the issues and sticking to personal attacks. At the top of Metro, Shear once again tried to undermine Allen for wearing cowboy boots and riding a horse in parades. Byron York already made the case very effectively at The Corner, so here he is:
Shear reports that "Allen's detractors" make fun of his fondness for all things cowboy. "To them, it screams phony," Shear writes. Shear quotes one such detractor who says, "With all due respect, I know cowboys. I grew up with cowboys. I have nephews who bull ride. I'm sorry, George, you're not a cowboy."
In State of Denial, Bob Woodward claims Marine Gen. James L. Jones, the U.S. commander for Europe, said that the Iraq war is a "debacle" and that "the Joint Chiefs have been systematically emasculated by Rumsfeld."
Two reporters from two publications followed up on the story. They couldn't have reached more diametrically opposed conclusions as to whether Woodward quoted Jones accurately. How's this for dueling headlines?
The Washington Post has gotten around to noticing the popularity of baseless conspiracy theories about gas prices.
After all, a recent USA Today poll found 42 percent of respondents believe gas prices are being deliberately rigged for the GOP's political advantage.
But even as he sought to dismiss the theories' plausibility, reporter Steven Mufson relied on liberal activist Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen to argue a kernel of truth to the notion that politics plays a role in oil and gas prices.
"I don't think the influence is as explicit as some people out there are alleging. But all markets are susceptible to politics, and oil is no exception," Slocum told the Post.
John F. Harris explores the role of the "new media" in politics in a Friday front-page story related to his new book "How to Win." Bill Clinton told Harris that they expect the (liberal) old media to crush the new media, as Kerry expected the old media to defeat the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:
Democrats of his generation tend to be naive about new media realities. There is an expectation among Democrats that establishment old media organizations are de facto allies -- and will rebut political accusations and serve as referees on new-media excesses.
"We're all that way, and I think a part of it is we grew up in the '60s and the press led us against the war and the press led us on civil rights and the press led us on Watergate," Clinton said. "Those of us of a certain age grew up with this almost unrealistic set of expectations."
After all, it is remarkable that the Post would run any story comparing the disparate treatment Democrats have received at the hands of the press and their constituencies as a result of sex-related scandalous behavior compared to their Republican counterparts.
But upon further review, as surprising as Farhi's effort is, when you group all of the people identified in Farhi's article into categories by party and how they were treated, you realize that Farhi glossed over important elements relating to Democrats who were (eventually) punished, and you note at least two very, very glaring omissions.
The Washington Post, an altogether shameless publication on many levels, is running this inexcusable excuse for an obituary by Patricia Sullivan for the late Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a great defender of freedom who died in a car accident Monday. The obituary, which maintains the Post's tradition of including factual errors, is, in a word, bitchy. (Go read it, if you question my use of that particular word.)
Helen Chenoweth-Hage was a very gracious and kind lady who believed strongly in liberty and fought for it in Congress and out. Although the undeservedly smug mainstream press unfairly parodied her beliefs during her six years on Capitol Hill (95-00 -- unfortunately, before the advent of blogs that could help balance the reporting), she was undeterred.
Better prepare yourselves for an alternate reality, folks, because the shocks came early and often in this piece (emphasis mine throughout): “Sex scandals involving politicians are as old as Thomas Jefferson, but the outcome seems to depend on which party you represent. In recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives.”
Can’t be the Washington Post, right? Checking that link about now? The article miraculously continued after briefly discussing the current scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley (R-Florida):
Monday's online chat sessions with Washington Post reporters found some typical Democrat-defending responses. The daily political chat, hosted Monday by Shailagh (that's Shay-la) Murray, included a defense of the woman the Democrats already call "Speaker Pelosi" on the Bill Jefferson scandal:
Arlington, Va.: Do you think Nancy Pelosi will ever understand that investigating House members for "crimes" must come equally hard upon all Democrats as well? Has she done anything to investigate William Jefferson in Lousiana or blocked him from being on the ballot? Did Nancy Pelosi have as much anger in the 1980's when a Republican and a Democrat in Congress treated pages inappropriately? How does Nancy Pelosi feel about Mel Watts, who served time in prison for sex crimes with a minor? Why is he a member of Congress? Sounds like Pelosi is a hypocrite, or do you think that term is too harsh?
If Matt Lauer ever decides to leave 'Today,' he has a promising career ahead of him interpreting for the hearing-impaired at meetings of Moveon.org and like-minded groups.
Interviewing Bob Woodward on this morning's 'Today' about his Bush-bashing State of Denial, Lauer served as a cheerleader worthy of Katie at her perkiest.
At one point, Lauer summarized matters thusly:
"You paint a picture of a White House and administration that is not tone deaf in some cases but that literally in some cases puts their hands over their ears and said we don't want to hear the information if the information is not going to bolster our company line."
That's when, in the screen capture shown here, Lauer 'helpfully' mimed the White House's 'hear no evil' attitude that Woodward alleges.
Howard Kurtz has two notable stories on political bias in today's "Media Notes" column -- first, a spicy review of how all the liberal journalists loathe Fox News and its chieftain, Roger Ailes. Second, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse spouted that her splenetic speech at Harvard in June saying Team Bush has created a "law-free zone" and decrying religious "fundamentalists" taking over our government were a "statement of facts," not opinion! The Ailes interview is entertaining:
Vanity Fair recently pegged Ailes as No. 44 on its New Establishment list, calling him "the most powerful news executive in America." But it also called him "the man who gives the Bush administration a major media outlet" and described Dick Cheney -- who demands that his hotel TVs be preset to Fox -- as his "big loyal friend."
In the weekend stories about the new Bob Woodward book, the conventional wisdom was that Woodward's first two Bush books were too supportive and sympathetic to the Bush White House, and now he's finally displaying some independence. But left out of that spin is Woodward's support and sympathy for the Clintons during their time in the White House. Revisit a few Brent Bozell columns for a reality check.
In 1994, Bozell wrote a column cheekily titled: "Woodward and Bernstein: Whitewater Wimps." Oh, how the scourges of Watergate went soft. Brent was especially flabbergasted by Woodward claiming Hillary was not a crook because the statute of limitations expired:
Even worse, a week later, Woodward presented this delicious lawyer's defense of the First Lady's cattle killing: "Would it be possible that there's a crime involved in the $100,000 in the futures market? This was what, 15 years ago, so the statute of limitations automatically means it's not a crime." Somewhere in New Jersey, Nixon is giggling.
Newly minted Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is promoting liberal former Sen. John Danforth again in a Sunday book review in The Washington Post. He's also praising a new book called The Politics of Jesus by Obery Hendricks Jr. (The subtitle's all about Jesus as a political revolutionary.) Like many other liberal journalists, Meacham is desperately seeking someone to convince traditionally religious Americans that they shouldn't be giving their votes to conservatives. So they cheer a whole series of "intellectually stimulating" books that lamely attempt to recruit traditionalist Christians and Jews to vote for the loosey-goosey libertine party:
Hendricks's Christian manifesto for a politically liberal vision of America and of the world arrives at an especially rich moment in the long-running debate over the role of religion in the nation's public life. After roughly three decades of largely ceding the language of faith to political conservatives, liberals are mounting an aggressive and often intellectually stimulating counterattack.
To their credit, The Washington Post took up the issue of sex-themed T-shirts at local high schools on the front page Tuesday. It makes you wonder who the most worrisome tastemakers are, the T-shirt makers, or some children's parents:
Allison Wynn, 17, a senior at Osbourn Park High School in Prince William County...said she is fond of wearing a shirt that says, "Don't Call Me a Cowgirl Until You See Me Ride." Joanne Wynn said her daughter's shirts are humorous. "If it's not in good taste, I don't let [her] wear it," she said.
Mrs. Graham e-mailed me about how the local Top 40 station made this mildly conservative story its main topic of conversation. They had people calling in talking about their own T-shirts. They mentioned that you can buy baby "onesies" with sayings on them too.
As Clarice Feldman points out here at The American Thinker, after weeks of front page coverage of allegations of racism against Senator George Allen in the Virginia Senate race, the Washington Post suddenly reversed course and used an editorial to suggest enough is enough, but only after serious allegations of irresponsible and potentially racist behavior on the part of Democrat Jim Webb surfaced.
After countless front page Washington Post stories overplaying Sen. Allen’s “Macaca” remark, and extensive coverage of charges against Allen, obviously orchestrated by Professor Sabato (who seems to have retreated from claims suggesting he had personal knowledge of Allen’s racism), a story has emerged about Webb’s racism which is more direct and damning.
In Thursday’s Washington Post, deep inside a story on page B-2, the George Allen campaign provided a man named Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Allen’s Democratic challenger, Jim Webb. Cragg said Webb used the N-word "while describing his own behavior during his freshman year at the University of Southern California in the early 1960s...[Cragg said] Webb described taking drives through the black neighborhood of Watts, where he and members of his ROTC unit used racial epithets and pointed fake guns at blacks to scare them."
The Post puts this in the eighth paragraph of a Michael Shear story on the front of Metro headlined "Webb Denies Ever Using Word As Epithet." The subhead was "Racial Slur Overshadowing All Else in Contest."
A. telling a story in which the n-word is liberally used, or
B. driving through a black neighborhood, flaunting rifles and yelling racial epithets?
I'm going with 'B.' So why did Chris Matthews devote the first half of this afternoon's "Hardball" to the n-word story, and not one second to the driving-through-the-black-neighborhood story?
You don't suppose, do you, that it could have anything to do with the fact that 'A' concerns Republican George Allen, and 'B' his Dem challenger, James Webb?
Matthews opened Hardball with an extended segment featuring Patricia Waring, who in 1978 was apparently the wife of the coach of the University of Virginia rugby club team. She claims that, attending one game, she overheard George Allen telling a story in which he repeatedly used the n-word. She says she confronted him about it, asking him not to use the word.
The bottom half of today's Style section front page of the Washington Post screams "Hopelessly Transparent Liberal Newspaper." The goo-fest is at its most gooey in "The Democrats Charisma Doctor," David Montgomery's latest left-wing valentine, awarded to "superstar" Sen. Barack Obama and his "seductive lassitude."
On his weblog at TVWeek.com, Washington Post television critic Tom Shales defended Bill Clinton's "exhilarating kind of tension" to his fight with Chris Wallace, hoping the ex-President would "pop him one." Clinton was "energized and galvanizing; he spoke with force and finesse" and was "smart to come armed with articulate and persuasive responses." Wallace was a "baby" and "behaved like a sissy-pants" when he was attacked. Somehow, within a few sentences, Shales was attacking former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg as "yelping like a dog" at his critics, and then Shales weirdly compared him to a radical Muslim: "It’s like the Islamic extremists who, if you call them prone to violence, threaten to kill you for insulting them."
So much for strength (or newsworthiness) in numbers. Inside Wednesday's Washington Post, reporter Michelle Boorstein covered a tiny protest inside the Hart Senate Office Building yesterday, where 35 were arrested. Last week, as many as 35,000 people protested in New York in support of Israel and against Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, featuring speakers like U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel -- which the Post ignored.
The Boorstein article, complete with cover photo of a protester being removed in handcuffs, was strategically placed on A-14, just above the continuation of a heartbreaking article on the first female West Point graduate, a local woman, being killed in Iraq -- also accompanied by a color photo, of the burial. Boorstein reported on the Hart building protest in a typical way, where no one in attendance was the slightest bit liberal: "Dozens of police streamed into the atrium and arrested about 35 people, including Rick Ufford-Chase, who until recently was a top official of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."
The New York Times was routinely slow on any allegation of past adultery or even sexual assault by Bill Clinton, dismissing them as lacking convincing evidence, as "toxic waste" designed to damage his campaign. But when Democratic opponents of Sen. George Allen charged that Sen. George Allen used the word "nigger" in the past -- a very politically toxic matter -- the Times was quick to honor it as fit to print. On Tuesday, reporter David Kirkpatrick wrote a story for the top of page A-20 with two photos, headlined "2 Ex-Acquaintances of Senator Allen Say He Used Slurs."
The Times never did more than two paragraphs on the Allen campaign's distribution of an article in which Webb opposed women in combat. In a September 18 article touting Webb's "rising" campaign, Robin Toner put this in paragraphs 23 and 24: "In the past week, the Allen campaign has taken aim at Mr. Webb on two counts: highlighting his opposition, in an article he wrote 27 years ago, to women in combat and at the Naval Academy, and asserting that Mr. Webb has no right to use videotape of President Ronald Reagan praising him in a new television advertisement. On women in combat, Mr. Webb said that he was sorry for any pain his writing had caused, that times had changed, and that he should be judged by what he did in the intervening years to expand opportunities for women."