On Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN, Dobbs scolded “this country's major daily newspapers” for how they “misled” readers in their coverage of immigration rallies since “their headlines failed to tell the truth about what the rallies are all about: Rallies in favor of illegal immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens.” Dobbs showed the front pages of four newspapers, starting with the New York Times' headline of “Immigrants Rally in Scores of Cities for Legal Status,” followed by the Washington Post's description of “Immigration Rights Rallies,” USA Today's “Historic rallies voice a 'dream'” and the Wall Street Journal's “Immigration-Policy Protests Draw Huge Crowds of Workers.”
Dobbs, however, offered praise for one newspaper's “astute” take, quoting approvingly from a Tuesday Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial which contended: “Organizers wanted the marches to be more about people and less about policy. Most television stations swallowed the bait and delivered news reports soft enough to follow Sesame Street on PBS.” (Transcript, of the comments from Dobbs, follows.)
I'm truly amazed at the oozy, woozy promotional coverage the pro-amnesty rally received in The Washington Post today. (For a nice dose of balance, for a more skeptical take on the rally, see Michelle Malkin's photo/video roundup.) But the really woozy take on the power of the rally crowds emerged in the Style section today from classical-music critic/fanciful political essayist Philip Kennicott. Which one of these Kennicott beauties is the weirdest quote of the day?
A. "The crowd is a tapestry, an abstract pattern of color and shapes; or it is something like an engulfing sea of humanity that threatens to overwhelm. Within those two categories, there are other choices. Is the abstraction an organic shape, that flows like blood in the veins? Or is it regimented and linear, something suggestive of a military force gathered for battle? And does the oceanic crowd attack fragile markers of civilization and good order? Or does it cleanse the decadent vestiges of an old and unjust regime?"
Many media watchers predicted the press would turn on John McCain only after he got the Republican nomination and had to face a Democrat. Before the general election, he was expected to be coddled by the press as the sensible alternative to more right-wing Republican candidates.
But Howard Kurtz writes in the Washington Post that the McCain-media love affair may be ending sooner as McCain publicly embraces conservative positions.
John McCain was expecting journalists to start slapping him around, and he hasn't been disappointed.
As he gears up for a likely presidential campaign, the Arizona senator knows that reporters and columnists -- whom he jokingly described last year as "my base" -- have to prove their independence this time around. Media folks spent so much time riding on McCain's bus and listening to his rolling news conferences in the 2000 campaign that they were often mocked for swooning over the candidate.
Newsweek's lame weekly "Conventional Wisdom Watch" box in the up-front "Periscope" section this week announces its theme as the "Exterminated Edition," that "The CW won't have Tom (The Hammer) DeLay to kick around anymore. Luckily, there's no shortage of power-abusing hacks to take the arrows." DeLay was awarded one last down arrow, with the snippy line: "Guy who led Clinton impeach claims he's a victim of 'politics of personal destruction.' That's a good one."
President Bush gets another down arrow (and even the up arrows and sideways arrows are often accompanied by negative takes on Bush): "Old CW: I'll fire anyone who leaks classified info. New CW: Of course, I didn't mean me." This is not to say "Conventional Wisdom" feels the need to be accurate. As Newsweek's sister publication The Washington Post explained, "In June 2004, Bush replied 'yes' when asked if he would fire anyone who leaked the agent's [Valerie Plame's] name. In other statements, Bush has pledged to 'take the appropriate action' if anyone in his administration leaked classified information." (In this 2005 story, Bush had grown more specific to making "committing a crime" the firing offense.) Other typical liberal-media "conventional wisdom"?
It’s certainly not often that a conservative can say this, but today’s editorial in the Washington Post entitled “A Good Leak” represents a bold and almost unprecedented demonstration of support for President George W. Bush by one of America’s leading liberal newspapers. Frankly, I had to check and double-check the web address while pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.
Yet, there it was: “PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do.”
President Bush was right?!? The public actually benefitted from something he did? When’s the last time a member of the antique media said that? Maybe more amazing, WaPo’s editorial staff, after making it clear that “There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual” about such a declassification, concluded: “As Mr. Fitzgerald pointed out at the time of Mr. Libby's indictment last fall, none of this is particularly relevant to the question of whether the grounds for war in Iraq were sound or bogus. It's unfortunate that those who seek to prove the latter would now claim that Mr. Bush did something wrong by releasing for public review some of the intelligence he used in making his most momentous decision.”
I imagine that most of you are likely double-checking that web address right about now. However, in between the first paragraph and this wonderful finale, WaPo also went after former ambassador Joe Wilson (emphasis mine):
In a column appearing in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, Peter Perl, the paper's director of professional development, heaps scorn on Tom DeLay and in particular on his strong religious beliefs. The column approaches parody, so much does it seethe with secular, elitist condescension.
The headline sets the tone: "DeLay's Next Mission From God".
"DeLay may be leaving Congress, but he will be back with a vengeance [note choice of phrase], in a new and potentially more powerful role, because he is a ferociously determined man who believes he is on a politico-religious mission from God."
"DeLay's crusade [again note choice of term] will not be sidetracked by the acts of mortals such as states' attorneys, crooked lobbyists and disgraced former staffers who are poised to testify against him. In DeLay's world he answers only to a higher power, and his personal Armageddon has only just begun."
"He will artfully squeeze a load of money from the Christian Right as he makes his thunderous argument from multiple pulpits in the weeks and months ahead."
"The new Tom DeLay will combine aspects of the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, and Lee Atwater, the late right-wing political consultant with the legendary killer instinct."
"Looking back, I see DeLay as a somewhat pathetic figure."
"What struck me as truly pathetic, though, was his shambles of a family life."
"We will see DeLay constantly smiling as he delivers his message because in his heart he knows that we hopeless sinners will always hate the messenger."
In keeping with the religion-themed nature of Perl's column, let's undertake a little exegesis of his parting shot at DeLay - that he will be "constantly smiling because . . . he knows that we hopeless sinners will always hate the messenger." If DeLay is a devout Christian - as is the gist of Perl's column - why would he believe that sinners are "hopeless"?
The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne had a hard time hiding his glee about current difficulties facing the right in an op-ed published today entitled “Run-Down Republicans; Where Is The GOP’s Agenda?” In it, Dionne blamed all of America’s problems on Republicans without referring to any of the good news or the responsibility the minority party has for the bad: “No, the most important development is the collapse of purpose in the Republican Party and the sense of exhaustion at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
After suggesting Republicans had no fresh ideas, Dionne used health savings accounts as an example: “Virtually no one other than the president -- oh, and perhaps a few ideologues and insurance companies -- sees HSAs as anything approaching a comprehensive solution to the nation's growing health-care problem.” Well, E.J., isn’t that really your view inasmuch as you won’t be happy with anything less than a universal healthcare plan fully funded by taxpayers?
That aside, Dionne concluded by stating unequivocally that conservatism is on its last legs:
The Washington Post "Style" section has several pieces on liberal blacks today. Fashion writer Robin Givhan devotes much ado to Cynthia McKinney's hairdo, panning both the new version and the old ("The braids made her look as though she should be hiking up the Alps wearing a gingham dress and carrying two milk pails.") She also gets in the usual liberal digs -- talking about "ugly" talk from conservative blogs: "A black woman's hair is an easy, timeworn source of racist mockery." And: "Indeed, plenty of black folks see all kinds of dire race-traitor undertones in Condoleezza Rice's smooth, controlled cap of hair."
If two women squabbling is a “cat fight,” would two men going after one another be a “dog fight?” Regardless, The Washington Post’s Bob “Watergate” Woodward is in the middle of quite a war of words with The Nation’s David “Tax the Rich” Corn that, of course, goes counter to their pacifistic proclivities. The melee began last Friday when Corn published a blog piece suggesting that Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack” did not accurately depict a January 2003 conversation at the White House between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On April 4, Woodward struck back. In a letter published at Corn’s blog at The Nation, Woodward began:
“I was genuinely shocked to read your recent column "Woodward and Reality." The column is thoroughly dishonest and represents another low for journalism. Apparently facts don't matter to you if you think you can score a point.”
Of course, this could be said of most antique media reporting. Regardless, round one went to Woodward. After going through a point-by-point analysis of where Corn was wrong in his assertions, Woodward questioned if Corn even read “Plan of Attack”:
While good conservatives and libertarians can agree to disagree amongst ourselves on just how to reform immigration, there's at least a consensus that more taxes and redistributionary spending are NOT part of the solution.
Which is why, I suppose, we need the infinite wisdom of The Washington Post editorial board to tell us otherwise:
Even a small impact on low-wage workers is alarming, given the rise of inequality over the past 25 years. But the question is whether to address that inequality by trying to
stop immigration or to go at it via progressive taxation, larger public
investments designed to prevent poor kids from dropping out of high
school, or some other policy tool. Given the expense and doubtful
effectiveness of border walls and employer crackdowns, progressive tax
and social policies seem preferable. After all, to the extent that
immigrants drive down wages at the bottom, they are driving up the
inflation-adjusted wages of other Americans who get cheaper goods and
services. Taxing the "immigration windfall" that flows to better-off
Americans and passing it on to the less fortunate may be the best way
The Washington Post isn't very good at hiding its feelings about abortion when it lets its political reporters profile the Washington elite in their Style section. The latest example was a star turn for Cecile Richards, the new leader of Planned Parenthood. By gum, she's a lovable, open, down-to-Earth girl, the perfect soccer mom -- who also just happens to run a chain of abortion factories.
A few weeks back, reporter Darragh Johnson began her profile of the new CEO of the nation's leading abortion provider with sympathy for her personal life. Her mother, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards (the one who taunted President Bush in 1988 and then lost to his son in 1994), is undergoing cancer treatment, but she still had advice for her granddaughter's attire for an interview with CBS for a summer internship. She needs a "new spring suit." But Mom said she would just buy her a new shirt. Johnson also makes sure to mention she's following the NCAA basketball tournament so she can talk brackets with her husband.
The Post finance columnist extracted a sinister motive for credit card companies marketing pre-paid debit cards for parents to issue their children in lieu of cash allowances or birthday presents. "They are
not the same as gift cards because the intent is to emulate the
credit-using experience," Singletary wrote.
But rather than seeing pre-paid debit cards as a money management tool, Singletary likened the "plastice devil" to gateway drugs.
A follow-up on Howard Kurtz's profile of Keith Olbermann: in his weekly "Media Notes" online chat at washingtonpost.com, Kurtz tries to declare that he has no opinion on the question of Olbermann's ideological bias:
Washington, D.C. : Can you tell me what is the upside in Keith Olbermann denying he has an agenda? I mean, you didn't buy that line. Who would?
Howard Kurtz: I'm agnostic. It is true that he was on every night in 1998 dealing with the Clinton scandal. And even most opinionated anchors don't want to be seen as aligned with one party or another (although Sean Hannity talks openly about raising money for Republican candidates). The true test will come the next time there's a Democratic president.
Howard Kurtz profiled Keith Olbermann for his Monday "Media Notes" column in The Washington Post with the headline "A Gadfly With Buzz: MSNBC's Olbermann Exercising The Right." For his part, Keith showed his membership in the liberal media elite by beginning with the utterly fatuous claim of nonpartisanship: "The former sportscaster denies that he's pushing an ideological agenda, noting that he relentlessly covered the uproar over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in his first incarnation as an MSNBC anchor in 1998."
Kurtz isn't buying, either: "Of course, he was so sickened by the spectacle that he quit, complaining about the media's role in the tawdry process, though he now gives every indication of enjoying his anti-Bush program." (There's also the on-air content that displays an agenda, such as...comparing Ken Starr to Himmler.)
Washington Post reporter David Montgomery is firmly on the left. That's obvious today from his gushing profile of Harry Belafonte in the Sunday Style section. Some have told Harry to tone it down, but Montgomery writes: "But if anything, Belafonte is crazy like a fox, and his critics have forgotten that the radical calypso singer has always staked out political ground on the edge of what the mainstream was ready to handle. The edge keeps moving, and Belafonte keeps moving one step ahead of it, afflicting the comfortable..."
The headline is "Tally Mon Come, Name Belafonte: The Singer's Latest Hits Find an Enthusiastic Audience in Washington." He was in Washington Friday to receive an award from TransAfrica Forum (no label), which can be described easily as far left. Montgomery describes the far-left crowd gathered as "225 civil rights activists, foreign policy idealists, celebrities (Danny Glover) and ambassadors (Hugo Chavez's emissary from Venezuela) gives a hip-swaying ovation." They have come to hear "more of the stinging, controversial, jeremiad that Belafonte has been laying down this year, red hot like today's news." Montgomery adds:
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: