Remember all those media predictions about the toxic nature of the floodwaters in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina? Well, it appears that much like their prognostications of casualties, how long it was going to take to drain the city, and the likely devastation to America’s economy, this too was an extraordinary exaggeration.
Here’s a sampling of the press opinions concerning this water made shortly after Katrina hit:
ABC News reported on September 6: "Thousands of hurricane survivors who spent hours trapped in or wading through floodwaters likely exposed themselves to a wide range of bacteria and other contaminants.”
Reuters reported on September 7: “The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported on September 8: “Chemicals leaking from cars and factories will cause one of costliest environmental cleanups ever.”
In today's Washington Post, liberal columnist and former staff writer E.J. Dionne salutes Bill Buckley on the 50th anniversary of National Review and on Buckley's part in shaping and promoting conservatism as an ascendent political movement over the past 50 years. Amid the begrudging praise, however, Dionne exposes a common strain of thinking in political journalism, that stripped of all its packaging and presentation, political conservatism is a rational philosophy only for the wealthy and privileged.
Of course, as an outspoken and unabashed liberal, Dionne's op-ed should not be faulted for falling short of effusive praise, and indeed, Dionne does take a somewhat back-handed complimentary approach to the success of the conservative movement, coming as he does from the perspective of a liberal disenchanted with how economic liberalism has fallen out of political favor in recent years. Where Dionne goes off the rails, however, is here:
An article in today’s New York Times depicted a grim picture of the future of America’s newspaper industry. Stung by declining circulation rates, most of the nation’s major dailies are laying people off:
“Such rethinking is sweeping newsrooms across the country as the industry faces a wave of job cuts, among them 700 announced since May at The New York Times Company, including its business operations and the various media properties it owns, and 14 at The Hartford Courant. Most recently cuts have been announced at The Boston Globe (a division of the Times Company), The San Jose Mercury News, The Philadelphia Daily News, The Baltimore Sun and Newsday, and over the last few years The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have also moved to eliminate jobs.
“Industrywide, ad revenue is flat, costs are up and circulation is eroding.”
The article went on to discuss how ad revenues at the major newspapers have stopped growing as major retailers have refocused their marketing dollars into other channels such as cable television and, of course, the Internet:
Last month, I noticed after a few seconds of Googling that "novice protester" Patrice Cuddy of Kansas, highlighted by Washington Post reporter Petula Dvorak, was not a novice at all, and could be easily found marching against the war before it even began in 2003. Chris Fotos at PostWatch notes that the Post finally put up a "correction" of sorts yesterday, drily acknowledging that "Cuddy had participated in three other large rallies against the war, two in Washington and one in New York."
But then look what Fotos found on the Post website: in the correction appended to the story, it betrayed a clue into the real feeling at the Post: "A Sept. 23 Metro article about people coming to Washington for the Sept. 24 demonstration against the war in Iraq described ^ (don't want to say "incorrectly" in this case) Patrice Cuddy, 56, of Olathe, Kan., as a novice protester. Cuddy had participated in three other large rallies against the war, two in Washington and one in New York." How on Earth would someone in charge of "corrections" say they wouldn't want to say it's "incorrect" in this case? They "don't want to" give off the appearance of caring about accuracy more than political impact?
Washington Post White House reporter Michael Fletcher's Sunday news analysis tackles the question of "Bush the Conservative vs. Bush the Pragmatist." Fletcher reported Bush is obviously conservative, but with pragmatic political instincts:
When it comes to abortion, one of the nation's most explosive topics, he has walked a fine line, touting his antiabortion sentiments while carefully acknowledging the national consensus for abortion rights. "I know good people disagree on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways to value life by promoting adoption and parental notification," Bush said at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Bush's caution around the volatile issue is well founded, as polls have consistently found support for fundamental abortion rights, even while the public backs some efforts to restrict access to the procedure.
Both the New York Times and the Washington Post reported yesterday that the levees in New Orleans were not overtopped by flood waters related to Katrina. Instead, as was reported by NBC News on September 29, and here on September 30, these levees broke due to construction failures related to the instability of the soil beneath them. Moreover, one of the contractors involved in their construction warned the Army Corps of Engineers about this problem in the early ’90s, but these cautions were ignored.
As yesterday’s Times article stated: “The engineers said the findings, which they warned were preliminary, raised questions about the design of the levees and the testing of the relatively fragile soil during the construction of the walls. They also said that on the 17th Street Canal, the source of the flooding in much of the main part of the city, the flood wall broke in an area where a contractor had complained to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers that the soil that anchored the wall was dangerously soft.”
And, yesterday’s Washington Post stated: “In the early 1990s, a New Orleans-based contractor filed a legal claim against the Corps alleging that the soil beneath the floodwall on the 17th Street Canal was poor. A judge dismissed the contractor's complaint in 1996.”
These revelations raise an interesting question: Why aren’t the Times and the Post apologizing to their readers for and/or retracting earlier reports by their respective papers that the levee problems in New Orleans were caused by budget cuts implemented by President Bush?
In Sunday's Washington Post, journalist Brian Faler provides what can only be described as a fawning push-piece aimed at exciting the liberal activist and elite--both state and nation-wide.
In a piece titled : "Dean Camp's Tactics Applied to Colorado," Faler contends that what Howard Dean started in his aborted presidential run in 2003/2004--namely huge Internet participation--local activist will now continue, as they start web sites to organize liberal activists.
In the article, Faler highlights a Colorado-based progressive site called ProgressNowAction.org, in which he says: "The goal is to create a go-to site for Colorado activists -- a sort of online hub for everyone from environmentalists to abortion rights advocates to those concerned about the direction of their school boards. The group hopes liberals will use the site (ProgressNowAction) to find each other, organize and meet people working on other issues. In the process, it hopes to assemble a statewide network of activists and, ultimately, give Democrats a new and easily replicated model for local political organizing."
The Washington Post has run an extended whitewash of dishonest conduct in Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign for the Senate from New York. The article, “House of Cards,” ran today, 8 October, 2005. The money quote, the one when Tom Sawyer really slaps the white paint on the fence, is in the 14th paragraph:
“ ‘Who knew?’ turned out to be a $1.176 million question. Federal law enforcement officials eventually confirmed that the gala, night of a thousand egos -- when Cher sang 'If I Could Turn Back Time,' the president cried for the cameras and con artists hobnobbed with the most powerful couple in the world -- cost somebody at least $1.176 million to produce. Yet Hillary Clinton's joint fundraising committee eventually reported that the gala cost just $401,419 in donated goods and services.”
Famed BBC reporter David Frost announced yesterday that he has joined a new English-language version of the Qatar-based al-Jazeera network. As reported by Howard Kurtz in today’s Washington Post:
“‘I love new frontiers and new challenges,’ Frost, 66, said yesterday from London. He said the new network, al-Jazeera International, has promised him ‘total editorial control’ and that he had checked out the company with U.S. and British government officials, ‘all of which gave al-Jazeera a clean bill of health in terms of its lack of links with terrorism.’"
September employment was little-changed despite predictions of 500,000 job losses.
Remember all those reports filed by the mainstream media predicting doom and gloom right after Katrina devastated New Orleans? Well, the first significant piece of economic data to be released since the hurricanes hit suggests that these media prognostications – as predicted by the Free Market Project on September 6 – had no basis in fact.
This morning, the Labor Department released employment numbers for the month of September, and they were much stronger than forecast. In fact, they were so strong that the U.S. dollar rallied against most of the world’s currencies in expectation that the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates further than many economists had hoped.
To refresh everyone’s memory, here is a sampling of what the media were saying about the economy after Katrina first made landfall:
A sometimes overlooked minefield for media bias in print can be the obituary page, where the obit writer's labeling of social activists, politicians, and other persons who had a notable impact on society, can betray the liberal biases of the writer. A case in point is the Washington Post obituary yesterday of Catholic theologian Monika Hellwig, a former nun and Georgetown theologian who, we learn in the lead paragraph, "defended Catholic intellectualism against a Vatican crackdown."
A pro-life pal on the Hill says more people should read black columnist Courtland Milloy in the Washington Post. He responded to the Bennett brouhaha by making the point that blacks who are doing all the aborting (and black men who aren't doing any fathering) are more of a problem than Bennett's talk, which at least focuses on the problem, as he cites data from Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher Institute:
African American women, who make up only 13 percent of the U.S. female population, accounted for 32 percent of the 1,293,000 abortions performed in the United States in 2002.
That's 413,760 abortions performed on black women in one year -- or 1,133 a day. (In the District, half of all pregnancies ended in abortion, a higher percentage than in any state.) No outcry over that because those were just disposable fetuses, right?
That is, until Bennett spoke of aborting "black babies," and suddenly those fetuses become precious pre-born black people who must be saved from the evil Dr. Bill...
To that end, we might welcome the controversy about abortion and black babies and the long-overdue focus it brings to the black womb -- home to hope unbound as well as unspeakable tragedy. Who is responsible for the protection and care of this amazing uterine environment, where the most wonderful fetal programming can occur just by having a loving husband kiss his pregnant wife? Bennett? Sorry, he ain't in it.
Recent press accounts suggest earlier calls for a unifying nominee were a red herring.
The past few months have been a target-rich environment for America’s press. Between the president’s declining poll numbers, increased hostilities in Iraq, two devastating hurricanes, exploding energy prices, some high-profile political scandals, and a couple of Supreme Court vacancies, the media certainly have had a lot of juicy issues on their plates.
Yet, it seems that the president’s unexpected nomination of Harriet Miers defused the highly anticipated battle over retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s replacement, and the press are so disappointed by the subsequent lack of bloodletting that they are trying to stoke the curiously absent fires of discontent themselves.
Reuters reports PBS has named departing Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler as its first ombudsman, in an act which can only be seen as a defensive political strategy against conservatives. (The liberals are even upset at this tepid step.) The public broadcasting elite has been appalled at the naming of two ombudsmen at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- Ken Bode for liberals, Bill Schulz for conservatives. (Although that is a fairly quiet blog.) They prefer the NPR model (and the Washington Post model) -- one generally liberal ombudsman who rarely touches on conservative complaints, and usually finds them wanting when they're evaluated. This is Getler's record at the Washington Post. Liberal bias was not one of Getler's big issues.
Yesterday, I noted the DeLay "giddiness" of Post columnist Eugene Robinson, a long-time "objective" journalist for the Post, allowed to let it all hang out. But also on the Friday page was a column by E.J. Dionne, who used to be a highly respected political reporter for The New York Times and the WashPost. (Suffice it to say he hasn't been as well-reviewed, at least by conservatives, as a columnist.)
In a column titled "A Blow Against the Machine," Dionne was rejoicing that the DeLay indictment offered a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to run in 2006 against Republican cronyism and corruption. It did not matter at all whether Ronnie Earle had an indictment that would stick, or if Ronnie Earle was too obsessive to help the Democrats. But on January 29, 1999, his Post column was titled the "The Public's Logic," Dionne was insisting that the investigation of Clinton was not about crimes (perjury or obstruction of justice), but it was just all about politics. Conservatives lost because they were too harshly obsessive.
The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin on the Post's website a few hours back rained on the parade for those who romanticize journalists who take jail time over divulging sources, saying to any and all of his journalistic colleagues reading him:
There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources' secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don't have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is "Hooray, now I can tell the world" -- not "Sorry, that's not good enough for me, I need that in triplicate." And if you're going to go to jail invoking important, time-honored journalistic principles, make sure those principles really apply.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson is described on the Post syndicate's web page as a long-time "objective" journalist. "In a 25-year career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s award-winning Style section." That last job was a pretty powerful one.
But a look at today's column on Tom DeLay shows the hard-charging liberal attitude that lurked beneath the "objective" veneer. He expressed "giddiness" at the Ronnie Earle indictment and expressed glee that DeLay is the "former" majority leader, since he represents the "anti-everything, loony-bin far right":
The John Roberts confirmation story on the front page of today's Washington Post (by reporters Charles Babington and Peter Baker) jumps to page A4 with this sentence: "Among those opposing Roberts were presidential aspirants who typically veer to the center, but are now eyeing the liberal activist groups that will play key roles in Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early-voting states in 2008. They included Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Joseph Biden (Del.), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.)."
Sigh. Always consult your handy voting guide at acuratings.com for the real story about these allegedly veering centrists: Evan Bayh is the closest to the Post claim, with a lifetime ACU rating of 22 percent conservative. Joe Biden has a lifetime ACU of 14, and a zero for 2004. Hillary Clinton has a lifetime ACU of NINE, and a zero for 2004. Brent Baker always insists we be extra-fair and note the liberal Americans for Democratic Action ratings. Those can be found here. (For 2004, Bayh scored 90 percent liberal, Biden and Hillary were both at 95). So how do scores like these get described as "typical veering" to centrism? It's transparently inaccurate: anybody who votes with the liberals on nine out of ten votes should be described as typically veering to the left. This goes double for Hillary, who is best known for trying to sink the country under a massive socialist health care "reform" plan.
Shortly after yesterday’s announcement of Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R-Tex) indictment for alleged campaign finance violations, the mainstream media began doing reports on the subject with largely similar content. A memo written by Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean posted at the Democratic Party’s website almost immediately after the announcement was made contained virtually the same “hotbuttons” as those subsequently raised in media accounts of the story.
What follows is a copy of that memo, along with comparisons to what has since been reported by leading media outlets on this subject:
The Washington Post Style section this morning runs a goofy Ann Gerhart dispatch from a birthday party for long-time political humorist Art Buchwald at the French Embassy. It was a fundraiser thrown by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The ad for it notes that it was hosted by old CNN "Capital Gang" host/PBS "NewsHour" analyst Mark Shields, as well as CBS's "60 Minutes" man Mike Wallace and former Washington Post top editor Ben Bradlee. (The "honorary birthday committee" also included CNN afternoon anchor Kyra Phillips.)
Since the Post story is cast as a conversation between Gerhart and her cab driver, she explained the Brady Center: "Jim, and his wife Sarah have been campaigning for gun control ever since [the Hinckley assassination attempt on Reagan]. Anyway, Mike Wallace stood up and called Art shameless, but he wrote his check for $250 anyway. And everybody clapped." One photo caption described Buchwald laughing "at Washington Post vice president at large Ben Bradlee's tales on the syndicated columnist." The Brady Center press release elaborated:
On Monday I posted to TimesWatch.org about a review of Gretchen Wilson's newly-released album All Jacked Up, and how New York Times reviewer Jon Pareles lamented what he saw as a departure from hints of class warfare themes in Wilson's last album to the "market-tested populism" embodied in a new duet with Merle Haggard, Politically Uncorrect.
Not to be outdone, reviewer Britt Robson in her special to the Washington Post today tagged the song as "reactionary":
Wilson is both clever and credible invoking her cultural talismans and puncturing sophisticated airs. Calling motherhood a "Full Time Job" is hardly a novel concept, but it's a tonic to hear a singer fling herself into the subject with the fervor others reserve for love songs, to empathize rather than preach. "Skoal Ring" takes the tongue-in-cheek approach to a new level, as Wilson waxes about the sex appeal of a mouthful of chaw. In case you still don't get her drift, she brings on Haggard, the original Okie From Muskogee, for a vocal duet on the reactionary "Politically Uncorrect."
From Tom Shales's WaPoreview this morning of the new Geena Davis vehicle, "Commander-in-Chief":
But when she gets tough, she's formidable, even if "the issues" in the pilot are not exactly earth-shaking. Chief among them is the case of a young woman in Nigeria who, by local custom, is to be buried up to her neck in sand and stoned to death for the crime of having sex and giving birth before marriage.
Maybe such things really happen, but by leading off the series with it, Lurie suggests that the show won't be about a female president and her problems of adjustment but instead about a myopic busybody who sees herself as a feminist first and leader of the people second (or third).
The Washington Post's Tom Shales takes the opportunity, not once, but twice in today's Style section review of "Commander in Chief" to take a swipe at the current real-life occupant of the Oval Office. What's more, Shales praises in Geena Davis's character, President Mackenzie Allen, what many of George W. Bush's admirers, and even some detractors, see as an admirable leadership quality, the aim "to do the job first and worry about history's verdicts second."
Shales begins gushing from the first sentence of the lead paragraph, opening with a cheesy one-liner I'd expect from Family Guy's Quagmire, not a professional TV critic:
Washington Post pits motorists against ‘profit-guzzler’ oil companies.
“Winners and losers” is a familiar journalistic story construction that often oversimplifies situations. The September 25 Washington Post dubbed motorists the “big losers” and oil companies the “clear winners” in U.S. gas prices, turning the free market into a battlefield.
Justin Blum’s article was based on the fact that “the recent rise in gasoline prices has not benefited everyone in the production and distribution chain equally.” Thus began an unfair distribution of commentary on the market forces at work, including a reference to the economic laws of supply and demand as the “view” of oil refiners.
As part of its massive love letter to the left-over hippies and their anti-war march in D.C. yesterday, the Washington Post left out some pretty laughable details. While one Style section piece called protester Cindy Sheehan “the Rosa Parks of this generation,” the Post ignored the true nature of the event, evident to those who tuned in to the speakers on C-Span.
Viewers of the C-Span broadcast got to see the wide range of wackos that filled the stage protesting virtually everything except the war in Iraq -- from Israel, to Puerto Rico to Haiti, racism and Katrina. Toward the end, the speakers nearly outnumbered the audience, outraging lefties watching from their homes who filled the Internet with complaints about their own protest. Finding mention of the organizing group A.N.S.W.E.R. and its true anti-U.S. and anti-Israel agenda was hard to do if you relied on the Post.
A few weeks ago, the Washington Post newsroom forced the Post to back out of sponsoring a "Freedom Walk" on September 11 sponsored by the Pentagon, since that would compromise their appearance of neutrality. (On the bright side, the controversy actually caused the Post to give that event front-page coverage, rare for a perceived "pro-war" rally.) But the Post newsroom has no protest when they publish stories on "anti-war" rallies that are nothing but press releases -- especially when they trot out the two common protest publicity angles: that (1) the war's so unpopular that there will be protest rookies/newbies/virgins; and (2) the protesters come from all political ideologies. These are both attempts to rebut the skeptical reader's question about the newsworthiness of these protests: Isn't it just the same motley crew of America-bashers, and are they really representative of America as a whole? But the Post carries major protester water today with the top of the Metro section carrying a story/press release with the headline "Antiwar Rally Will Be First for Many: Focused Message Draws Protesters of All Stripes."
Some fabulous news was released yesterday concerning all those missing children from the states recently ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Mysteriously, the Washington Post buried the story on page A10:
“Authorities trying to track down more than 2,600 children in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama still missing three weeks after Hurricane Katrina believe that most of them are not really ‘missing.’
“Rather, authorities said, the vast majority of these children are ‘lost’ -- separated from a parent or guardian during the rush to rescue hurricane victims from rooftops and shelters, when families were divided because of lack of space on a bus or helicopter.”
As the story continues, we find out that about 35 percent of the cases of missing children in the area have already been resolved:
“As of yesterday, the center had resolved 966 out of 3,600 Hurricane Katrina cases, Allen said.”
The Washington Post reports that the Lincoln Center hurricane fundraiser (broadcast in condensed form Saturday night on PBS) carried some liberal speechifying in it from celebrities.
Unlike other benefit concerts, "Higher Ground" was not marked by an apolitical tone: "When the hurricane struck, it did not turn the region into a Third World country . . . it revealed one," actor Danny Glover told the audience in a speech with Harry Belafonte. "Katrina was not unforeseeable," Belafonte said. "It was the result of a political structure that subcontracts its responsibility to private contractors and abdicates its responsibility altogether."
Washington Post Staff Writer Dan Balz can hardly seem to contain himself while writing a post-Hurricane Katrina analysis that covers everything from President Bush's sagging poll numbers, to "the fabric of an already divided society." As mentioned today by Newsbusters own Clay Waters, the mainstream media--like the N Y Times--are offering up these "news analysis" stories without any real analysis aside from essentially blaming Bush.
Balz, though, seems to revel in his analysis, engaging in a bit of shadenfruede. Balz starts this way: "The main text of President Bush's nationally televised address last night was the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, but the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever, confronted by huge and simultaneous challenges at home and abroad -- and facing a country divided along partisan and racial lines."