When Hillary Clinton charged that the House Republican immigration bill would "criminalize...Jesus himself," there was national-media notice – if not criticism. Even Hillary’s "hometown" newspaper The New York Times reported on March 23 that Senator Clinton intensified her criticism of Republican immigration proposals, albeit on page B-5. But no one in the story criticized Hillary for her harsh attack. Instead, reporter Nina Bernstein noted only critics to Hillary’s left: "Mrs. Clinton had been criticized by some immigrant activists for saying little about the issue until March 8, and then speaking at an Irish-only rally, rather than at a forum more representative of immigrants. But yesterday all seemed forgiven." Bernstein’s story, headlined, "Mrs. Clinton Says GOP Immigration Plan Is At Odds With The Bible," began:
We saw in the 2000 election cycle that one way national reporters protected Democratic presidential contender Al Gore was to ignore wild or embarrassing things he said in public. The RNC and other Gore critics would play up his gaffes, but the media said "what gaffes"? If they did report the remarks, they didn’t find them overstated or wrong.
It’s not exactly 2008 yet, but the same trend looks to be happening with Sen. Hillary Clinton. She can claim that Republicans would need a "police state" to round up illegal immigrants, and then claim that Republicans would "literally criminalize the good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself" in their anti-immigration zeal, and some media outlets didn’t notice either one of these outrages. On the hear-no-Hillary-gaffe list: CBS, NBC, National Public Radio, and USA Today. (Nexis search of "hillary and police state" and "hillary and jesus" through March 29.)
Both Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank and religion reporter Alan Cooperman covered the "War on Christians" conference Tuesday, but neither touched on one trend in Canada that American evangelicals are warning against: "hate crime" laws that make speech condemning homosexuality illegal. In 2004, the Canadian parliament passed such a law, as U.S. News columnist John Leo explained:
"Canada is a pleasantly authoritarian country," Alan Borovoy, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said a few years ago. An example of what he means is Bill C-250, a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add "sexual orientation" to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the "Bible as Hate Literature" bill, or simply "the chill bill." It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada. Law Prof. David Bernstein, in his new book You Can't Say That! wrote that "it has apparently become illegal in Canada to advocate traditional Christian opposition to homosexual sex." Or traditional Jewish or Muslim opposition, too.
Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post took up a Dave Mastio post from Real Clear Politics yesterday on the media's pattern of hiring writers from liberal opinion journals, but not conservative ones. His argument: hey, since when did conservative magazine writers apply at the Post? Easy retort: does Kurtz believe they would be hired if they did? (Actually, there is one example: Malcolm Gladwell went from the American Spectator to the Post, and became more and more liberal until he vanished into their mainstream. Now, of course, he's a best-selling author.) Here's how the argument bubbled. First, Mastio:
"There is a literal conveyor belt from left-wing opinion journalism into straight news reporting and editing slots. The New Republic, The American Prospect and The Washington Monthly are the biggest suppliers. That opportunity simply isn't open to those on the right.
"Can anyone name for me a current New York Times or Washington Post reporter who was previously on the staff of National Review, The Weekly Standard or The American Spectator? No? Maybe that's because there are none."
Washington Post reporter/columnist Dana Milbank was in the room yesterday when I spoke on a panel on anti-Christian media bias at Rev. Rick Scarborough's Vision America conference yesterday. (Tom DeLay was the lunch speaker, so we were a mere appetizer for the sharks.) Milbank misquoted me in his Wednesday column as saying "we're making some great inroads" in the national media. I did not say that. American Family Radio's Bill Fancher said that, about the White House press corps. I might object less to the misquote if I agreed with that sentiment.
Before that, Milbank said our examples of anti-Christian bias were old and stale. In my case, I noted a survey in the spring 2001 issue of The Public Interest that showed 97 percent of the national reporters surveyed supported a "woman's right to choose" abortion, 84 percent saying they believed in it strongly, and 73 percent agreed that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable. He did not cite these enlightening survey numbers, merely the age of the journal they appeared in. (The survey's even older, from 1995.) There's a reason for that: as I explained to the crowd, national reporters have found it counterproductive to participate in surveys and acknowledge their political views. If Pew or Gallup could poll the press corps today on their ideological views, that would help us not sound so "stale," but I doubt Milbank would endorse that research effort.
After Woodward and Bernstein's work on Watergate, too many reporters were "Woodstein wannabes," desperate for instant success by uncovering the next big scandal
Re: "Newspapers then, and now," Tanya Barrientos' March 18 column:
Watergate may have been journalism's finest hour, but what it spawned is not. Journalism of the '80s and '90s was peppered with "Woodstein wannabes." The young, hard-charging reporter could become rich and famous by either working in the trenches for 40 years or toppling a politician or businessman via gotcha journalism. As a Republican press secretary in the 1980s, I fended off more questions about sleazy girlfriends, supposed kickbacks, and alleged drug use than anything about tax reform, foreign policy or national infrastructure.
Today’s Washington Post provided an ideal example of news priorities in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz’s piece on the resignation of Ben Domenech, “Post.com Blogger Quits Amid Furor,” earned a spot on the front page of the Style section. However, the Post’s own story about a former member of the Maryland Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pleading guilty to dirty political tricks was buried inside the Metro section. (For the record, since the Post changes story locations in its editions, those page numbers were confirmed from the Post’s own Web site.)
Saturday's Washington Post front page featured the Michael Powell story, "Near Paul Revere Country, Anti-Bush Cries Get Louder." The article begins by noting that three of the ten Massachusetts congressmen have called for an investigation and possible impeachment of President Bush.
It then reports that four Vermont villages have, at town meetings, voted to impeach the president. The piece asserts that it's too early to anticipate the Bush presidency being toppled, "But talk bubbles up in many corners of the nation..."
Then mentioned is last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors urging impeachment. Moreover, the state Democratic parties New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin have done the same thing.
In a little half-hour online chat Friday at Washingtonpost.com, WashPost columnist/reporter David Broder complained about the "fiscal profligacy" of the federal government, but specifically against the Bush tax cuts. He sounded the familiar refrain that Americans should be having to "sacrifice" more for the war, even as his questioners pointed out tax cuts are popular.
Ontario, Calif.: David, A recent NBC poll disclosed that nearly 60 percent of the American people "strongly" or "somewhat strongly" support "making the President's tax cuts of the past few years permanent." Do you think that in the face of this much popular support, the Democrats will be able to stand on principle and display the political will and unity necessary to defeat this questionable plan?
For decades conservatives have charged that those in the media get their marching orders from liberal activists. Now, out in the open, Washington Post editors have proven that indeed they take orders from liberal activists, as they cave in to left-wing pressure to fire Ben Domenech as their first conservative blogger.
As Soviet Russia declared communism wouldn't work unless ALL countries of the world turned communist, liberals believe their principles can work only if they have a monopoly on all thought.
If the Washington Post is indeed concerned with balance, and not a monopoly of liberal thought, it will hire another conservative blogger-- one that liberal bloggers despise.
What's more likely to happen, though, is a "maverick" conservative along the lines of John McCain or Andrew Sullivan (who blogs for Time.com) will be chosen, as Post editors strive to abide by the rules of liberal orthodoxy while appearing balanced.
Washington Post.com conservative blogger Ben Domenech has resigned. Editor Jim Brady sounds more than deferential to the left-wing bloggers that swarm around his site like angry killer bees:
We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.
This is probably for the best, considering the plagiarism examples liberals unearthed against him. But I must confess to being bamboozled by the idea that the Center of All Media Influence is somehow the blogs pages on Washingtonpost.com, which seem a bit hard to dig up -- at least compared to where, say Time.com puts cartoonish Andrew Sullivan.
In today's Washington Post, E.J. Dionne's column is titled, "In Charge, Except When They're Not."
"Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?
The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.
'Obviously,' said the critic in chief, 'there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all."
"Yes," writes Dionne, "and if you can't do something about it, who can?"
At a forum with President George W. Bush Wednesday at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia, Gayle Taylor, the wife of a member of the military recently returned from Iraq, was drowned out by a standing ovation when she told Bush: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News found the criticism of the news media to be newsworthy. NBC's David Gregory instead decided to assert that “in a state he won twice...many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it.” NBC viewers then heard from one Mountain State resident, Donna Neptune, whom Gregory described as “a Republican." She maintained: “Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing."
ABC's World News Tonight, however, was unique amongst the broadcast evening newscasts and highlighted the contention from the woman anchor Elizabeth Vargas described as “the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq." Vargas set up the brief soundbite: “There has been criticism from the Bush administration and others that the media has been ignoring the good news in Iraq, distorting what's really going on there.”After the clip of Taylor, Vargas acknowledged that “it is certainly true that many of the stories from Iraq involve violence, and fear,” but she argued “it is also true that we cover all kinds of stories in Iraq. The last story Bob [Woodruff] filed before” the attack which severely wounded him, “was about a Baghdad ice cream parlor” and “when I was in Iraq in December, we spent time at this ballet school for children.” (Transcripts follow)
Washington Post reporter Thomas B. Edsall hits the front page today with a story headlined "Grants Flow to Bush Allies On Social Issues." Edsall reports that a bevy of tiny crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence groups have seen their budgets double and triple through federal grants from groups established as part of President Bush's faith-based initiatives.
Edsall briefly refers to the left in his opening: "For years, conservatives have complained about what they saw as the liberal tilt of federal grant money." What they saw as liberal? And yet, Edsall can't use the C-word enough in this story, about 13 times. It was especially overdone in this late passage:
During the recent controversy surrounding Dan Froomkin's blog at The Washington Post, editors not only decided to clearly label his column "opinion" but also to make an effort to hire a conservative blogger to balance his alleged liberal slant.
Today, the Post launched the result: A new blog called "Red America," created by Ben Domenech, co-founder of RedState, a popular community blog.
Washington Post magazine-beat writer Peter Carlson writes an admiring profile of Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham in the Style section today, headlined "Lewis Lapham Lights Up," as Lapham prepares to step down as Harper's editor. The man is a raving leftist, and while Carlson notes his cover story in the March issue is "The Case for Impeachment," he never quite locates Lapham on the far left. He merely lets friend Tom Wolfe call him "left-leaning."
Carlson also claims Lapham is an equal-opportunity offender, that he has "skewered every president since Nixon. He is a world-class curmudgeon." But Lapham has predictably hated conservatives more. Lapham's biggest media moment may have been his 1989 PBS series "America's Century," in which he sulfurously condemned Ronald Reagan as someone who could be relied on to "defend the sanctity of myth against the heresy of fact."
Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda may know more about novels than anyone else who lives or works inside the Beltway, but that doesn't mean his take on Communism isn't straight out of pulp fiction (granted, some of it high-level pulp fiction like Zola's Germinal). In a Monday online chat, a reader asked about the Communist beliefs of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago. Specifically, the reader wondered "how...someone so attuned to the absurdity, corruption, and abuse of power by the State [could] be an advocate of the most statist form of government available."
The Communist ideal is a noble one, it just doesn't seem to work in our fallen world. How can anyone believe it right for people to inherit vast wealth and privilege simply because they were lucky enough to be born into a family named Rockefeller or Kennedy? Why should a man cough his lungs out in a coal mine to barely support his children, while drones around him live like kings? It is easy to be in sympathy with communist ideals. But as Kant and Isaiah Berlin used to say: Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made.
In the daily Washington Post online political chat, reporter Shailagh Murray (that's Shay-la, and not Shay-laugh, although you might call this exchange Shay-laughable) quips with very little originality that Dick Cheney sounds over-optimistic on talk shows because Bush is like a tenth-grade kid without much potential:
New York, N.Y.: Before the invasion, Vice President Cheney said that we will be greeted as liberators. Ten months ago he said the insurgency was in its last throes. Yesterday, he said that both of these statements "were basically accurate, reflect reality."
Is the vice president the most clueless person on earth, or is he just a big liar?
The Washington Post reported yesterday on A-6 that the Food and Drug Administration announced two more women have died from infections after using the RU-486 abortion drug cocktail. Marc Kaufmann's story offered some balance, pairing Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood with Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America:
The agency's handling of the seven deaths of women who had undergone medical abortion was criticized by opponents of the drug.
"The FDA has pulled other drugs that have caused fewer deaths and less severe complications than RU-486," Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement. "Why the double-standard for an abortion drug that is now linked to the deaths of seven healthy women and over 800 other reported complications?"
Citing a Thursday column from Baghdad by David Ignatius of the Washington Post, Fred Barnes, during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, scolded the news media for delivering a “daily diet” of news about explosions while missing progress on the political front. Ignatius began his column: “There has been so much bad news out of Iraq lately that you have to pinch yourself when good things seem to be happening. But there are unmistakable signs here this week that Iraq's political leaders are taking the first tentative steps toward forming a broad government of national unity that could reverse the country's downward slide.” He concluded: “Pessimism isn't necessarily the right bet for Iraq.”
Barnes, Executive Editor of the Weekly Standard, observed, “Here's what struck me about it: David Ignatius reported about a lot of top level private meetings of Sunnis, Shia and Kurds of the number of meetings over, what, the last couple of weeks, I think. Where were the reporters? Why did David Ignatius, a columnist for the Washington Post, have to go over there and reveal that to us? I mean, the reporters ought to know about that. These are major figures politically in Iraq and we get nothing from them except word of explosions. From the other reporters -- that's the daily diet." (More from Barnes, and an excerpt from the Ignatius column, follow.)
The national media was full of broken hearts last week when Dana Reeve died at 44, after nearly a decade of caring for disabled “Superman” star Christopher Reeve. It was obvious from the coverage that this woman had won hearts and made friendships in the media elite. But something strange happened in all the laudatory waves of coverage. Someone shrunk her activism.
It’s common for reporting on embryo-destroying stem cell research to leave out the embryo-destroying part. But the tear-stained accounts of Reeve’s sudden end often left out the words “stem cell” as well. This week’s Newsweek has a two-page article, largely about lung cancer, headlined "A Legacy of Love and Hope: Dana Reeve dedicated her life to finding a cure for spinal-cord injuries, only to fall victim to lung cancer."
One tried-and-true way to measure a media bias is to compare and contrast events. The comparisons are rarely perfect, but they can illuminate that the "news" is very much a product of human opinion, and rarely do the major media’s assignment editors seem to consider how they covered something in 2006 to something they covered in 1996 (or sometimes, how they covered something in March compared to December). Today’s experiment: Russ Feingold’s censure ploy versus Rep. Bob Barr making rumbles about a Clinton impeachment in 1997. The WashPost put Feingold on A-1 and A-2 yesterday. What about Bob?
It broke out at exactly this time of year in 1997, when Barr, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested to chairman Henry Hyde that they consider impeachment for Clinton for illegal fundraising from China and other scandals. Hyde was asked about it on "Fox News Sunday," and said they were studying it, but found it a "bit of a stretch." Both the Post and the Washington Times put a few paragraphs in on Monday, March 17. Then the paths diverge.
The D.C. Superior Court recently ruled that thousands of non-District residents had been illegally compelled to pay a business tax. But rather than portray the tens of millions lost by local businessmen to the city government, the Post portrayed the ruling as harmful to the city's bottom line.
Staff Writer Albert Crenshaw focused on the concerns of city officials
and a sympathetic liberal think tank:
Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute,
which analyzes D.C. tax and budget issues, said the tax generates about
$100 million a year for the city. If the ratio of suburbanites to D.C.
residents is the same among real estate investors and other owners of
unincorporated businesses as among workers generally -- roughly
two-thirds suburban to one-third District -- then the loss could round
to $70 million, "which is huge," he said.
Sen. Russ Feingold's motion to censure President Bush for warrantless eavesdropping on suspected terrorists is drawing major attention -- even if its political chances are roughly zero. The front page of the Washington Post blows the hot air of publicity on Feingold's leftist crusade, but the headline is "A Senate Maverick Acts to Force an Issue." Why are the "mavericks" always to the left of the party mainstream?
Reporter Shailagh Murray does a better job of defining Feingold in paragraph number 12: "a Democratic outsider and iconoclast and a darling of progressives." Although it should be said that a pile of people who don't like this censure stunt are "progressives." This would be better described as an act of an ultraliberal, on the radical left, throwing a bone to the MoveOn crowd and the Daily Kosmonauts. Then she really makes Feingold sound like a weird combination plate:
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz profiles NBC White House correspondent David Gregory, who Kurtz says is being regarded as "the Sam Donaldson of the Bush years" for his confrontational style.
As usual, Kurtz takes the side of the reporter, which he does regularly in order to keep his sources happy. Unlike public officials, journalists don't have to talk to anyone if they don't want to (see Tim Graham's Rather post), and Kurtz would suffer a drought of information if he displeased those who feed him material.
If David Gregory seems like a bit of a showman in the White House pressroom, it's worth noting that, as the son of a Broadway producer, he grew up meeting the likes of Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Henry Fonda.
But NBC's White House correspondent, while mindful of the cameras, insists he's not putting on a show, whether he's telling off spokesman Scott McClellan or challenging President Bush with questions that are often replayed on the nightly news or cable shows.
John McCain made the front page in both Saturday's and Sunday's editions of the Washington Post. This is the first obvious sign of how the 2008 race will play out: once again, the liberal media will put Sen. McCain on a fluffy bed of pillows and carry his platform around while he feeds them donuts. They never seem to understand that their constant championing of him poisons what mild appeal McCain might have with the conservative base.
Satuday's story by Tom Edsall and Chris Cillizza was headlined "Money's Going to Talk in 2008." McCain's name was not in the first paragraphs of that story, but it was illustrated with a photo of McCain at this weekend's Memphis dog-and-pony show, and the caption explained "The Arizonan praised President Bush and muddied a straw poll by telling his supporters to write in Bush's name instead." (Edsall and Cillizza were talking about the big money-stakes this time around. Dan Balz had the McCain story from Memphis.)
The news just keeps getting worse for those who publish it. Editor & Publisher is reporting (hat tip to Drudge) that the Washington Post is about to cut 80 jobs from its newsroom: “The Washington Post plans to cut at least 80 newsroom jobs through attrition and buyouts, according to sources at the paper who said editors began giving staffers the bad news on Thursday in meetings and will continue today.”
Apparently, this move isn’t the only one the Post is considering to save money: “Other cost cuts also are being rumored, including the eventual closing of at least two foreign bureaus and changes to some other overseas bureaus that would have staffers working out of their homes.”
In Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten's weekly online chat this past Tuesday, a poster asked Gene to assess "the George Will [column that] made the claim that conservatives have happier lives than liberals."
I think [Will] was right, though I wouldn't have quite as smug about it as he was.
I think it is easier to be a conservative. You do not have to think as much, beause issues are more black and white. That delivers a sense of general contentment, because the world seems more orderly.
James J. Zogby, president of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said he is not surprised by the poll's results. Politicians, authors and media commentators have demonized the Arab world since 2001, he said.
Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, agreed, saying Americans "have been given the message to respond this way by the American political elite, mass media and by select special interests."
Cole said he was shocked when a radio talk show host asked him if Islamic extremists would set off a nuclear bomb in the United States in the next six months. "It was ridiculous. I think anti-Arab racism and profiling has become respectable," he said.