Bonneville Radio announced yesterday that it will launch Washington Post Radio on three dial settings in the Washington, DC radio market (1500, 107.7, 104.3). Bonneville currently runs WTOP radio, a 24/7 newsradio station in Washington. Are we about to get the Post's liberal bias on the radio, too? Bonneville executive Joel Oxley said in today's Post story, "It's going to be NPR on caffeine. It will be non-drowsy public radio."
Bonneville will own and operate both WTOP and Washington Post Radio. Washington Post Radio's programming will include in-depth local, national and international news and commentary provided by Washington Post reporters, editors, and columnists as well as news makers and other local media personalities.
We have frequently noted that the political leanings of mainstream media publications can often be seen by what fails to make it into print. In the case of Jack Abramoff, political bias of the Washington Post is obvious in its articles of January 3 and 4. The first article written by William Branigin, Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi and the article dated January 4 penned by only Schmidt and Grimaldi are littered with the names of Republican officials, aides and family members. The articles indicate all of these individuals are being investigated. However, no mention of a Democrat appears in the text.
Today’s copy mentions former House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Representative Robert W. Ney of Ohio, former Delay aides Tony Rudy, Michael Scanlon and Edwin Buckham, Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, Representative John T. Doolittle of California, Rudy’s wife Lisa and even DeLay’s wife Christine in connection with an investigation into Abramoff’s admitted guilt on fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public official plea bargain in the Washington U. S. District Court. Their names appear repeatedly in both articles and total of 33 times in the January 4 copy. This was done despite the Post indicating “In court papers, prosecutors refer to only one congressman: Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio).” The article continues saying “Abramoff, who built a political alliance with House Republicans, including former majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, has agreed to provide information and testimony about a half a dozen House and Senate members...”
Today's chat on WashingtonPost.com with Post media writer/CNN host Howard Kurtz began with a burst of hyperbole:
New York, N.Y.: Howard, In the early going, can you predict how big a story Jack Abramoff's guilty plea will be in the coming weeks and months?
Howard Kurtz: Big. Huge. Very large. A story of historic proportions. It may take awhile, but when information starts to dribble out, as it inevitably will, about what Abramoff is telling prosecutors about his dealings with some members of Congress and their aides, we will have an important and potentially delicious case study of corrupt Washington lobbying.
When the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll was publicized in the Post on December 20, the big front-page headline was Bush's approval rating going up again. In the middle of the story, the Post noted counterpoints, such as: "On some key domestic issues, including immigration, Americans remain highly negative about the Bush presidency." Finally, today, the Post publicizes in its paper the actual numbers in a story by Dan Balz:
"The Post-ABC News poll found that four in five Americans think the government is not doing enough to prevent illegal immigration, with three in five saying they strongly hold that view. The same poll found that 56 percent of Americans believe that illegal immigrants have done more to hurt the country than to help it, with 37 percent saying they help the country. About three in five Republicans and a bare majority of Democrats agreed that illegal immigrants are detrimental to the country."
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.
Washington Post columnist (and former Post reporter) David Ignatius concludes his year in review by endorsing the notion that liberal reporters ought to stick by their biases and passions. Don't be afraid to be liberal, and don't try to please everyone (conservatives):
It was a bad year, finally, for the people who are paid to make sense of things -- the unhumble and increasingly unloved scribes in my business. Newspaper circulation was plummeting, network television lost its anchors, literally and figuratively, and new media seemed to be feeding on popular anger at the Mainstream Media and its claims of impartiality.
At the center of some of the year's biggest stories stood the media themselves -- trying to balance codes of professional ethics against demands of citizenship. The New York Times lionized Judith Miller for going to jail to protect her sources from a grand jury investigation, but when her key source turned out to be Vice President Cheney's top aide, the cheering stopped and Miller lost her job. Top editors of the Times and The Post tried to act responsibly by discussing explosive intelligence stories with the White House before publication, and then they were vilified by the left for publishing too little and by the right for publishing anything at all.
Copy-catting the tendencies of certain conservative media watchdogs, Washington Post political writer Mark Leibovich produced an article for the front page of today's Style section on the top quotes of the year for public figures (mostly politicos and their families, except for Tom Cruise pounding Matt Lauer, Rafael Palmeiro's read-my-lips, no-steroids testimony -- oh, and Drew Barrymore raving about her bathroom break in the woods.) Leibovich finds his quote of the year to be President Bush telling his soon-to-be-reassigned FEMA director Michael Brown: "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."
Leibovich explained: "Really, it was never even close. The president's vote of confidence had all the markings: Patently false, it came during a widely viewed event, was uttered by a prominent speaker, played to an unflattering caricature (of both people), and packed supreme irony," since Brown was out within days. "I think for concision and cluelessness, Bush wins hands down," Ted Widmer, identified as a Clinton speechwriter, adds. (Leibovich also nominated the president's mother for saying that for hurricane victims, being evacuated to Houston is "working very well for them.")
The subhed of that story is closer to its spirit, Recruits' Job Worries Outweigh War Fears; basically the military is exploiting poor rural youth by disproportionately recruiting them. This is the spin you'd expect from the National Priorities Project, which has been campaigning against the war for a long time and is anything but how Tyson described it: "a nonpartisan research group that analyzed 2004 recruiting data by Zip code." In fact, it analyzed data in a joint project with Peacework Magazine, which filed a FOIA request for the data and handed over analysis and distribution to NPP, whose Cost of War Clock ticks merrily along. Oddly enough, Tyson did not include these and many other items about the nonpartisan National Priorites Project. I blogged about it on Nov. 4 when Tyson's story came out, and on Dec. 5 when Howell agreed, in a column, that NPP could have been described as "liberal leaning."
Washington Post reporter Evelyn Nieves, a crusading and roving liberal reporter based in San Francisco, lands on the Post front page today with an abortion dispatch from South Dakota. "S.D. Makes Abortion Rare Through Laws And Stigma," reads the headline. But wait, don’t Democrats love the idea of making abortion "safe, legal, and rare"? This is the kind of article where the media displays that they really want abortion safe, legal, unstigmatized, offered daily and available within a 20-minute drive. This is the kind of article, to be plain, that is pro-abortion, not pro-choice.
Nieves sets the sad stage, where the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood clinic can only perform abortions one day a week, since they’re dependent on doctors flying in from Minneapolis to do the dirty work. "The last doctor in South Dakota to perform abortions stopped about eight years ago; the consensus in the medical community is that offering the procedure is not worth the stigma of being branded a baby killer." To Nieves, an abortion doctor is not a baby-killer. Each one of them is a medical and political hero for "choice."
It is entirely reasonable to believe that Mr. Weisman's copy would be on the renewal of the Patriot Act itself, and the many different paths it took to get where it wound up. That would be the logical progression of thought, but alas, this is the Washington Post, one of America's foremost liberal organs.
The little Washington Post Magazine that comes with the Sunday paper had two episodes of weirdness this week. First, to promote their typically one-sided sympathetic cover story on two lesbians who felt forced to move out of "backward" Virginia as it voted to prevent so-called "gay marriage," Post reporter Michelle Boorstein signed on the Post "Discussions" site Monday at midday to answer reader questions. (The article's tilted title was "Paradise Lost: After years of hiding their love, Barbara Kenny and Tibby Middleton found a place where they felt comfortable being a couple -- until Virginia's lawmakers chased them across the Potomac." Not that they felt chased, but that they were chased, as if the legislators were running behind them with pitchforks.)
David Edelstein, film reviewer for the Washington Post-owned online magazine Slate, thinks Steven Spielberg's Munich is "the most potent, the most vital, the best movie of the year." Some critics might laud Munich without making left-wing statements in the process. Not Edelstein, though. Here's the beginning of his piece:
Rapidly overtaking the "Cinema of Revenge" is the "Cinema of Revenge with a Guilty Conscience"—i.e., "My people got even and all I got was this dumb hair shirt."
What's the reason for this post-9/11, self-critical twist on the thriller genre's beloved scenarios of injury and retaliation? Maybe it's that the recent consequences of such thinking have been so catastrophic: that despite invading two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), quickly overthrowing their governments, and inflicting massive casualties on their populations, the enemy's resistance has, if anything, grown more tenacious; and that our ally Israel, among the world's most reflexively vindictive nations, hasn't managed with its instantaneous reprisals to stanch the flow of blood. At this juncture, to make the movies we always have, the ones that revel in righteous brutality, would not only be socially irresponsible. It would be delusional.
leaders sternly criticized President Bush Thursday for saying former
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is innocent of felonious
campaign finance abuses, suggesting his comments virtually amounted to
jury tampering before DeLay stands trial.
"The president of the
United States said a jury does not need to assemble, that Tom DeLay is
innocent," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "To have
someone of his stature, the president of the United States, prejudge a
case is something I've never seen before."
During an interview
Wednesday on the Fox News Channel, Bush was asked whether he believed
DeLay was innocent of the charges of money laundering and conspiracy
that led to his indictment and resignation from the House Republican
leadership in September. "Yes, I do," the president replied.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in late August sending oil prices to $70 per barrel and gasoline above $3 a gallon, the media have been in a panic over a return of ’70s-style inflation. Such concerns reached a fevered-pitch in October when a gauge of consumer prices rose by the largest amount in 25 years. Yet, when the Labor Department released numbers last week showing that inflation had declined by the greatest percentage in 56 years, rather than using this data to ease the public’s concerns about rising prices, the press either downplayed the report or totally ignored it.
There’s an old saying: What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When it comes to mainstream media reporting, nothing could be further from the truth.
No finer example of a media double standard has been recently evident than in the furor that has evolved over revelations of National Security Agency eavesdropping. To be more precise, the press response to The New York Times report on this subject last Friday is in stark contrast to how they reacted in the ’90s when the Clinton administration was found to be engaging in extraordinarily similar activities.
A perfect example surfaced in a Washington Postarticle written yesterday by Charles Lane. In it, Lane referred to changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under former President Clinton after the Aldrich Ames affair. For those unfamiliar, Ames was a CIA agent that was convicted in 1994 of working for the former Soviet Union:
There were only two subjects that concerned the media during President Bush’s December 19th news conference: Bad news on Iraq and domestic spying. Problems in Iraq accounted for six questions, while there were seven on domestic spying. (Note: Questions were counted based on their topic. Follow-ups on the same subject were not counted as separate questions.)
The assembled members of the press seemed relatively uninterested in the successful Iraqi elections. In fact, there were no questions specifically about the elections or about the improving economy.
The folks over at The New York Times must be laughing their heads off. With the President’s poll numbers on the rise, a fabulous election result in Iraq, and the potential extension of a key antiterrorism bill that the administration holds dear, the Times stole Christmas from the White House last week with the release of one carefully-timed article.
After some pretty horrible months in September and October, President Bush has been fighting his way back up from a virtual poll abyss. The economy—regardless of left-wing protestations to the contrary—has been humming. Energy prices—regardless of, well, you get the point—have been plummeting. And, the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the past two elections in Iraq, were giving signs that they would participate in Thursday’s elections in very large, enthusiastic numbers.
All the President needed to make this holiday season a truly joyous one was a relatively safe, incident-free day at the Iraqi polls Thursday, and the Patriot Act to be extended before Congress adjourned for the year on Friday.
The Grinch…err., I mean, the Times had something else in mind.
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales surfaces this morning to offer his critical take on the president's speech and beaches himself on another failed attempt to provide TV criticism instead of political criticism. For example, he tries to put his Bush-bashing jokes in the mouths of others. On the Sunday night at 9 PM air time, Shales quipped: "Watch for one wag or another to say that 'Desperate Housewives' followed 'Desperate President.'" After a whole review trying not to completely lose his skimpy veil of objectivity, he lets it all hang out at the end:
Over on the smaller networks that have no news departments, regular programming continued without interruption, since the president's speech was not aired. The WB happened to be showing "The Wizard of Oz," which once aired opposite a speech by Ronald Reagan. Mrs. Reagan later said she enjoyed published comments comparing the president to the wizard. Bush seems less likely to be likened to Oz except to the extent that the wizard is at one point denounced as "a humbug." Moments later, told he is "a very bad man," the great and powerful Oz says, "Oh no, my dear, I'm a very good man. I'm just a very bad wizard."
Paul Farhi wrote an article for today’s Washington Post that confirmed yesterday’s Drudge Report exclusive sited by NewsBusters that the New York Times failed to disclose a major story it broke surrounding U.S. spying in America was part of a soon to be released book by one of its columnists, James Risen. In addition, Farhi indicated that the timing of the release of this report might indeed have been designed to correspond with a Congressional vote to renew the Patriot Act. The antiterrorism bill was blocked last evening in the Senate with members claiming revelations in the Times article may have been the death knell.
According to the Post:
“The [Times] offered no explanation to its readers about what had changed in the past year to warrant publication. It also did not disclose that the information is included in a forthcoming book, ‘State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,’ written by James Risen, the lead reporter on yesterday's story. The book will be published in mid-January, according to its publisher, Simon & Schuster.”
And what about the timing surrounding the renewal of the Patriot Act?
The really interesting stories in today's Washington Post are hiding off the front pages. On page A-23 (and not even the TOP of A-23) is the Dan Balz story "Pelosi Hails Democrats' Diverse War Stances." That's a sunny way of saying again, "Democrats Have No Iraq Plan." Balz begins his summary of a Pelosi sit-down with the Post:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that Democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy in Iraq, calling the war a matter of individual conscience and saying differing positions within the caucus are a source of strength for the party.
Washington Post Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser conducted an online chat with readers. A questioner from Toledo remarked that it is "amazing to see the variety of locales people are writing from, and the diversity of opinion in a relatively liberal newspaper."
Kaiser vigorously denied the paper was liberal.
This is NOT a 'relatively liberal newspaper.' This is the Web site of the Washington Post, where all shades of opinion are welcome all the time, as they are on The Post's op-ed page (heavily populated by conservative commentators, among others) and our Sunday Outlook section.
Kaiser offered no defense of the A section, the place that has many "shades of opinion" all from the left.
Two "breakthoughs" in stem-cell research announced at roughly the same time have, based on Google News searches, received very disparate treatment in news coverage.
to view the Google News screen shot. Note: the "hours ago" indicator
is only for the lead item listed. Both stories originated in news coverage in
the early AM on December 13.
first, originally covered by the Louisville Courier Journal, is about adult
stem cells and how researchers are claiming that they can be made to do all the
tricks that, until this "breakthrough," embryonic stem cells have been
thought to be able to perform:
University of Louisville researchers have coaxed stem cells from adult mice to change into brain, nerve, heart and pancreatic cells. That could lead to treatments for human diseases and end the debate over embryonic stem cells.
"We have found a counterpart for embryonic stem cells in adult bone marrow. This could negate the ethical concerns," said Dr. Mariusz Ratajczak, leader of the research team and director of the stem-cell biology program at U of L's James Graham Brown Cancer Center.
This adult stem cell "breakthough" had only 31 "related items" in a Google News search as of about 10 AM today, with no apparent coverage by the Associated Press or the New York Times. United Press International is the only major wire service or major newspaper that has mentioned the story.
second, primarily covered by The Washington Post's Rick Weiss ("Human
Brain Cells Are Grown In Mice") appeared on Page A03 of the paper on Tuesday,
December 13, and is about embryonic stem cells:
Inside the A section today, Washington Post reporters Jonathan Weisman (economics beat) and Alan Cooperman (religion beat) combine to publicize the latest stunt by religious leftist Jim Wallis. The story is headlined: "A Religious Protest Largely From the Left: Conservative Christians Say Fighting Cuts in Poverty Programs Is Not a Priority." Give the headline writer a thimble of credit for at least using "Left" in the headline, although it may seem required for contrast. But the Post makes the typical liberal Wallis assumption: that the Christian imperative to help the poor is completely synonymous with favoring government welfare programs. Christians apparently must give at the office, instead of giving from their own wallets and hearts.
washingtonpost.com is its own kingdom in many ways, with more content, more readers and at least as many issues that beg for accountability as the newspaper. So bravo to Post ombudsman Deborah Howell for writing about the website in her Sunday column. Most visitors to the site have no idea how separate the operations are, but its reporters sure do:
Political reporters at The Post don't like WPNI columnist Dan Froomkin's "White House Briefing," which is highly opinionated and liberal. They're afraid that some readers think that Froomkin is a Post White House reporter.
John Harris, national political editor at the print Post, said, "The title invites confusion. It dilutes our only asset -- our credibility" as objective news reporters. Froomkin writes the kind of column "that we would never allow a White House reporter to write. I wish it could be done with a different title and display."
While conservative talk radio blazed this week over DNC chair Howard Dean's comments on Iraq, that the idea we're going to win is "wrong," an important question arises: did the average American who does NOT listen to talk radio, but relies on network morning or evening news, hear the same uproar? Are the aware of the brouhaha? Don't bet on it. A quick search of the name "Howard Dean" in Nexis from Sunday to Friday showed no Dean mention on ABC. None on CBS. NBC had this snippet on Wednesday morning from Kelly O'Donnell: "The president dismissed comments from Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean, who compared Iraq to the Vietnam war." That's the closest the networks came.
What if you live in fly-over country and read the national papers online, or bought copies across the country of USA Today, or the New York Times? If you read USA Today last week, you'd know nothing of Dean's comments. The New York Times mentioned them in an A-5 story by Sheryl Stolberg on Wednesday headlined "Democrats Still Search for Plan on Iraq." Dean surfaced in paragraph 13. The Washington Post was rare for putting the story front and center on Tuesday, in a story by Jim VandeHei and Shailagh Murray headlined "Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks" featuring Dean's comments in paragraph two, on the front page. How about National Public Radio?
Terry Mattingly at the Get Religion blog is on my wavelength on the Bush's-clumsy-over-Christmas issue (as opposed to my pal Kathryn Lopez, who suggests I shouldn't be spouting silly Bush wimp nonsense.) He says Bush's joke the other day cheekily replacing Jesus with Santa as our Christmas savior is "a sign of how tone deaf the whole Bush clan is about the cultural style and lingo of evangelical Christianity. I know there are people who think that George W. is a raging theocrat, but I just don’t see it." He contrasts this year's joke with 2002's earnest Christian commentary.
I'm not saying Bush's Christianity isn't sincere, and he's not just president of Christian America. But he does seem quite spooked out of being a public personal Jesus freak like he was in the 2000 primaries. It's easy to see how the freaked-out secular liberal media might discourage you. Perhaps it's never been the same since 2001 began the Era of We're Not At War With Islam, the Peaceful Religion. If the Christmas card flap started by the Washington Post is much ado about nothing (and I can be sympathetic to that view), it's also worth noting that it wouldn't ruin him to stick to a few statements like his Christmas message in 2002.
When you wonder if the national media's biggest film critics rave over movies based on their own personal politics instead of the product they're watching, you can always think of Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday. The D.C. premiere (in one art house theater) of a revival of the hard-left documentary "Winter Soldier," chronicling John Kerry and others trying to create (often falsified) accounts of American soldier atrocities in Vietnam, gives Hornaday the chance to rave over it today, calling it "extraordinary," "spellbinding," "impressive," "stunning," and even authentic as it reminds of our atrocious position in Iraq:
Recreational killing of civilians, rape, arson, torture: They did it, or saw it, all. Having been trained to see their enemies as less than human -- they were always called gooks or commies -- and having been taught to dissociate from the violence they were committing lest they be killed themselves, they simply learned not to care...
Of particular interest, Simpson notes that Weisman fell hook, line, and sinker for a flawed study by a handful of Federal Reserve economists. Portions in bold are my emphasis:
Weisman hyped a flawed report from the Federal Reserve Board to draw the conclusion that the earlier dividend tax cut package “had no real impact on the stock market and prompted ‘only muted gain in total corporate payouts.’
A recent report published by the Gallup Organization stated:
“a majority of U.S. investors continue to describe the current economy as being ‘in a slowdown’ or ‘recession’ as opposed to being ‘in a recovery’ or ‘sustained expansion.’”
Regardless of continuously strong economic reports, such bearish assessments have been regularly portrayed by public opinion polls for several years. During this period, economists and politicians – including the Bush administration – have wondered what is responsible for this disconnect between perception and reality.
A detailed look at how unemployment numbers are shared with the public by mainstream media outlets gives us some clues. The Labor Department on Friday announced very strong employment gains for the month of November. In fact, this was the largest number of job creations since April. However, this news was reported to the public in a fashion that largely downplayed its significance. A 3.2 percent annual increase in wages was characterized as employees “basically treading water.” Although energy prices have been steadily declining since September, jobs market stories included references of this still being a “huge concern.” Other news accounts referred to the unemployment rate being “stuck at 5 percent,” as if a 5 percent unemployment rate is a bad thing, while one cable news outlet told viewers to take the numbers “with a grain of salt.”