Like Rahm Emanuel, who wouldn't waste a crisis, Frank Rich doesn't want to let a murderous rampage pass without trying to wring political advantage. By now, even most ardent liberals have had to admit that there was no nexus between conservatives and the manifestly psychotic AZ shooter. But there was Rich, in his New York Times column of this morning, still bitterly clinging to the accusation.
To be sure, Rich recited some disclaimers that by now have become standard. But by unlucky paragraph 13, Rich could restrain himself no more. Fulminated Frank: "Much of last week’s televised bloviation was dishonest, dedicated to the pious, feel-good sentiment that both sides are equally culpable for the rage of the past two years." That is a "false equivalency," he sputtered.
Two paras later, out popped what amounted to a flat-out accusation. After claiming there exists "antigovernment radicalism as rabid on the right now as it was on the left in the late 1960s," Rich argued:
"That Loughner was likely insane, with no coherent ideological agenda, does not mean that a climate of antigovernment hysteria has no effect on him or other crazed loners out there."
Translation: yeah, Loughner was crazy, but conservatives are still to blame.
On Wednesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in commenting on USA Today's poor decision to quote a paragraph from a New York Times op-ed by former Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) -- a bad decision because Kanjorski's call for "civility" directly contrasts with his call for someone to shoot Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott just a few months ago -- I wrote that USAT Founder Al Neuharth's "'civility' credentials are also suspect."
Two days later, Neuharth, who claims to be "independent," more than justified those suspicions. In a "Plain Talk" item in Friday's paper ("Who shares blame in Tucson tragedy?"), Neuharth blamed a wide range of people for Jared Loughner's actions. "Somehow," he forgot to blame Jared Laughner. It's not a stretch to assert that many readers would be justified in believing that Neuharth may not even want to see Loughner convicted of a crime.
Neuharth took shots at talkers on the right and left. USAT published an absolutely laughable counter-response from MSNBC President Phil Griffin. The other response (from the right? Are you kidding?) was from a psychiatry prof.
Here is Neuharth's piece and its responses (published in their entirety because of their relative brevity; bolds are mine):
The folks at USA Today really ought to vet their candidates for the "Et Cetera -- Smart insights on the news of the day" section of the print edition of its editorial page a bit more thoroughly.
Wednesday morning's opener in that section (apparently not available online) featured two paragraphs from a New York Times op-ed by former Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski, including this final sentence:
Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
As I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog; original HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner), Kanjorski's entitlement to lecture on civility is more than a little suspect, given what he said about Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and the health insurance industry last year:
We all lose an element of freedom when security considerations distance public officials from the people. Therefore, it is incumbent on all Americans to create an atmosphere of civility and respect in which political discourse can flow freely, without fear of violent confrontation.
Here's Kanjorski, when he was still a Congressman, discussing Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott last year (HT Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner):
Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest
Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.
Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
In response to this outrage, the New York Times has swung into frantic action -- by scolding Gotham residents for expecting perfection, portraying the mayor as getting a handle on things, and criticizing private snow removal contractors who didn't drop everything when a late-to-the-problem city called them for help. Meanwhile the Times will only acknowledge that the city will "look into" the slowdown allegations.
Not that it's a big surprise, but it seems that the answer to "How do we spin Christmas shopping season?" at the New York Times depends on which party occupies the Oval Office in Washington.
Monday, The Times's Stephanie Clifford, with the help of two other reporters, blew the holiday sales horn. Here are the first few paragraphs of her report, entitled "Retail Sales Rebound, Beating Forecasts," with a browser window title of "Holiday Sales Return to Prerecession Level":
Americans are splurging as though it’s 2007 again.
When the legislators and good-government people who drafted the law requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and render an opinion on the financial statements of the federal government as a whole and the major departments within it, they must have known that early-year results would not be very pleasant. But I also suspect that they thought the shame of being exposed as having unauditable records would be lead to constructive action and improvement.
Maybe on the margins, but not on the whole, as this GAO press release addressing its report on Uncle Sam's financial statements last week tells us:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.
In its reports about the U.S. homebuilding industry and new home sales, the Associated Press has gotten lazy and/or deliberately deceptive. In doing so, it is giving readers, listeners and viewers at its subscribing outlets a completely incorrect impression that the industry and market are getting off the mat after recently being in their worst shape, in their words, "in 47 years." After identifying offending examples, I will demonstrate that industry activity and sales during 2010 have been almost undoubtedly at their lowest levels since World War II.
The following items, all from Thursday, demonstrate AP's concerted attempt to limit the damage to "47 years" ago.
2010 will be by far the worst ever in the 48 years records of new home sales have been kept, and there is little if any reason to believe things will get better soon. The news on existing home sales has hardly been better, given the price reductions sellers have had to make to move their homes. Graphics will follow shortly indicating just how bad the market for new and existing homes has been this year.
These on-the-ground realities explains why one's jaw has to almost hit the ground when reading the headline and first few paragraphs of Julie Schmit's December 23 front-pager in USA Today's Money section:
Optimism for home sales adds up Demand for existing houses continues to rise
Someone check the cider bowl at the New York Times Christmas party. Looks like it was spiked with some wacky wassail weed, and that Paul Krugman drank deep—very deep—from it.
In his Humbug Expresscolumn today, the honoree of a fringe Scandinavian leftist group claimed—apparently lost in the throes of cider-induced delusions—that the left's ability to promulgate its propaganda is dwarfed by the right's. In the world according to Krugman, the culprit is a conservative "media infrastructure" that the lefties can't match.
The specific issue at hand was whether government employment has increased under Pres. Obama. Krugman claims that the right has managed to propagate the urban legend that indeed it has, whereas Krugman claims it hasn't.
A funny thing happened on the way to finding yet another year of media emphasis on the use of "holiday" vs. "Christmas" in describing the shopping season.
Google News searches conducted this morning at about 7:30 ET on "Christmas shopping season" and "holiday shopping season" came back with the highest percentage of "Christmas" results I've seen in the six years I've been doing these searches. Not that the result is yet impressive, but at least it's an improvement:
In a Reuters story ("Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers"), reporters Daniel Wallis and Frank Jack Daniel took note of outraged "opponents who accuse him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship," relieving them of the responsibility for stating the obvious themselves.
Romero's item at the Times is particularly galling in its borderline admiration for the tactics employed by the man who is now Venzuela's virtual dictator (bold is mine):
Could Michael Kinsley possibly be any more predictable? His review of George Bush's "Decision Points," appearing in today's Sunday New York Times, is precisely the smug piece of sneering partisanship you would expect in this paper and from this quintessential liberal MSM elitist.
As the headline indicates, Kinsley flatly accuses W of "stealing" the 2000 election. Kinsley offers no proof, but surely most of the people who will read this review require none. They take it as a matter of deep partisan faith. Speaking of faith, the former Crossfire man is mocking of Bush's. Consider this excerpt:
"[H]e stopped drinking with the help of God, who spoke to him while he was out jogging. (I make light, but this part of his story is actually fascinating, gutsy and very well told.) Thirteen years later, after he had made a quick fortune buying and selling a baseball team and then had been elected governor of Texas, God told him to run for president."
If Kinsley admired Bush's telling of how his faith helped him to stop drinking, why then would he "make light"? Could it be that he needs to remind his audience and himself that they are way too sophisticated to take this religion stuff seriously?
A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.
A New York Times "Learning Network" graphic informs us that under the proposed Obama-GOP tax and spending compromise, "rates will not change for at least two years for anyone."
Wow. Somebody at the Learning Network needs to tell the Old Gray Lady's beat reporters, editorial board, and opinion columnists. Just today, reporter Helene Cooper, in noting how Vice President Joe Biden is playing a "bigger role" in the administration (translation: picking up the pieces from President Obama's disastrous ongoing alienation of anyone and everyone, friend and foe alike), twice refers to the compromise as involving "tax cuts." Cooper's defenders may claim that the Times reporter is partially referring to the proposed one-year reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2%, but that's not a contentious issue at the moment (though given how broke the Social Security really is, it should be). Federal income tax rates for 2011 and beyond are.
Anyway, as far as the Learning Network is concerned, so far, so good. But then it commits its own unforced error:
Who Benefits? All taxpayers, but especially high-income households, which had faced a new, higher rate.
A New York Times commercial that has spawned multiple parodies brags that "the best journalists in the world work at the Times – and there's no debating that." The spot, which is in heavy rotation on the liberal MSNBC, presumably isn't referring to embarrassing reporters such as the disgraced Jayson Blair.
It seems that the Times's Michael Shear is disappointed that Dear Leader is yet again caught up in a "distraction" ("Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Distraction"). It's headlined in the item's browser window as "Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Controversy." Interesting edit, don't you think? If it's a "controversy," the President owns it. If it's a "distraction," well, it's an unfair intrusion. Clever.
Shear wrapped it in a narrative whose theme was that "It all felt vaguely familiar." Well, yeah. What's more than vaguely familiar has been the press's tendency to lament the distractions our supposedly otherwise focused like a laser beam chief executive must endure. On April 9, 2009 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that "The words 'Obama' and 'distraction' have both appeared in 2,425 articles in just the past 30 days; excluding duplicates, it's about 450."
In his blog entry, Shear listed many other awful distractions the president has encountered. What's interesting are how many of them escalated because of Obama or people working directly for him:
NBC correspondent Norah O'Donnell hyped Sarah Palin's criticism of her liberal opponents on Tuesday's Today show, stating that the former governor "rips the heart out of some of her opponents" in her new book. O'Donnell stated that Palin, "in very personal terms, also questions the President's [Obama's] patriotism, concluding he has 'a stark lack of faith in the American people.'"
The correspondent covered "America By Heart," the Republican's second book, for the second straight day. Anchor Matt Lauer introduced her report, which began 40 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour, by immediately noting Palin's attacks on Mr. Obama: "Sarah Palin's much-anticipated new book hits stores today. NBC News received an advanced copy last night, and the former Alaska governor is not holding back when it comes to President Obama." O'Donnell picked up where he left off: "Well, you know, her new book is called 'America By Heart.' It's full of what she calls 'reflections on faith, family and flag.' But with all the attacks on President Obama and others, some say it could be a handbook for her for a 2012 campaign."
The seemingly endless variety of "name that party" stunts has yet another wrinkle.
In this case, Matt Drudge is currently linking to a Des Moines Register story ("Culver OKs state pay raises"; also saved here at host for future reference) about how outgoing Iowa Governor Chet Culver has decided to rush through union contracts granting thousands of state employees 3% raises (before considering "step" raises that occur with seniority) in each of the next two years before Republican Governor Terry Bransted takes over in January.
The headline for Drudge's link is "Lame duck Dem governor in Iowa OKs $100 million in raises for state workers." Actually, it's $100 million a year for the next two years. But the linked Register article by Jason Clayworth never identifies Culver's Democratic Party affiliation, even though he tags the governor's opposition as Republican twice in the first two paragraphs. In other words, not that it was difficult to show that Culver is a Dem, but Drudge had to figure it out and tell his readers -- and we thank him for that.
First, I am grateful that Edenhofer, a German economist who is "co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change," has a last name on which searching is easy. I quickly determined that his name last name doesn't currently come up in searches at the Associated Press's main web site, the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Los Angeles Times.
That's because he hasn't said or done anything newsworthy, right? Wrong. What's newsworthy is my second reason for thanking him. First covered at NewsBusters yesterday by Noel Sheppard, and described this evening in an Investors Business Daily editorial, Mr. Edenhofer has proffered the principal motivation behind the "climate change movement" -- redistribution of wealth (bolds are mine):
Don't go overboard with it, but have some pity on Sewell Chan at the New York Times.
On Thursday evening online and in Friday's print edition, Chan was among three Times reporters who composed a report ripping President Obama's lack of results at the G-20 summit. The piece's original title -- "Obama's Economic View is Rejected on World Stage" -- originally appeared online and actually made its way into the print edition. The headline apparently didn't sit well with someone at the Times. As I noted in a previous post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), it was changed to "Obama Trade Strategy Runs Into Stiff Resistance" sometime on Friday.
That was apparently not enough to satisfy whoever is charge of politically correct revisionism at the Times. Chan seems to have been assigned the thankless task of composing not one, but two, kiss-and-make-up pieces to smooth things over.
In Maryland, Prince George's County's top elected official, County Executive Jack B. Johnson (pictured at right on NB's home page) was arrested yesterday, and "is accused of accepting cash in return for helping a developer secure federal funding."
Johnson's wife, a recently elected councilperson, was also arrested yesterday. The couple are both accused of "tampering with a witness and evidence relating to the commission of a federal offense, and destruction, alteration, and falsification of records in a federal investigation."
The linked article at Gazette.net does not identify the Johnsons' political party affiliation. When this failure to identify occurs, it typically means that the politicians involved are Democrats. As expected, the Johnson are indeed Dems (Jack; Leslie).
Sadly, it is not at all surprising that there is a virtual blackout on the Johnsons' party affiliation:
The other day, I sat down to breakfast. It was a normal day. Five daily newspapers were laid out before me. As I went over the front pages, I downed orange juice and a bowl of oatmeal powdered with brown sugar and flaxseed. Then I went off to my library with the newspapers and a cup of coffee. By then, incidentally, I was revolted.
The New York Times carried on its front page a perfectly disgusting story. It was not a news story, for it broke no news. It was, rather, a feature story, meant to inform and, I presume, to move me to action. It was about the prevalence of suicide in Afghanistan by women who use cooking oil and matches to do themselves in, sometimes successfully, sometimes incompetently and all the more painfully. This was brought to my attention even before my matutinal coffee!
It is not the first time the Times — or, for that matter, The Washington Post — has put on its front page appalling stories that did not have to be there. Both newspapers run such feature stories on the front page rather regularly — but not The Washington Times, not The Washington Examiner and certainly not The Wall Street Journal, my other three newspapers. They run repellent stories but usually inside. I think it tells you something about the biases of these newspapers.
Before critiquing, I should recognize that USA Today, while most of the establishment press has snoozed, has done a very creditable job of exposing the wide differential between federal employee and private-sector pay (Aug. 10, 2010; "Federal workers earning double their private counterparts"), and of identifying the outrageous degree by which salaries in the upper levels of Uncle Sam's empire are expanding (Dec. 11, 2009; "For feds, more get 6-figure salaries").
Yesterday, in a mostly well-done report, USAT's Dennis Cauchon, who also authored the two linked items in the previous paragraph, delved into many of the details concerning the growing number of federal employees who get paid $150,000 or more per year. Among his more important points is the fact that a great deal of the expansion into this high level of pay has occurred since President Obama took office, during a period when overall inflation has been very low:
New Washington insider wisdom: If you have the courage of your convictions and support those who do likewise, then you’re not to be taken seriously.
At an event at the Ronald Reagan Building hosted by Roll Call/CQ in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 4, Roll Call Executive Editor Mort Kondracke, also a Fox News contributor took a few shots at the political leadership of Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. (h/t Keach Hagey, Politico.com)
This past week, we learned that it was another year, another dive for newspaper circulations: 5% for dailies, and 4.5% on Sundays, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. That's not as bad as some past declines, but it's still going the wrong way.
As usual, they'll blame the Internet, and reject the possibility that persistent, pervasive bias and blind adherence to politically correct reporting priorities have anything to do with the results. But as I've similarly asked before, how does one explain away the fact that the only daily paper in the nation's top 25 that has shown consistent gains during the past several years is the (usually) fair and balanced Wall Street Journal?