How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?
Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.
Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:
Managing Editor's Note: NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell today reprimanded members of the press in light of the recently exposed e-mails from the now-defunct JournoList that show a blatant, deliberate campaign to smear conservatives. That statement is published below. Click here for more background on JournoList.
The revelation of these e-mails simply proves that we have been right all along. The liberal media have no interest in being fair or unbiased. In fact, they are deliberately violating any sense of journalistic ethics.
There is no excuse – none- for the attitudes and lack of professionalism these so-called journalists displayed not only in these e-mails but in their reporting. Any member of the media that was privy to these Journolist emails, and remained silent, is just as much to blame as the folks that crafted these e-mails. Their silence indicts them.
We said in 2008 that the media were making excuses for Jeremiah Wright and now we have the proof. Just today we learned from the Daily Caller that these people went so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh ‘deserves’ their hate. Sadly, I am not surprised, as this is what we have been exposing year after year about the media. And it’s exactly why Americans refuse to trust them.
A journalist with a political agenda is not necessarily a dishonest one, and a journalist who claims to be objective is not necessarily honest. These are useful facts to bear in mind as media liberals call for Andrew Breitbart's head.
Breitbart posted video of recently-fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod claiming she considered race in allocating federal agriculture funds. The apparent racism was debunked when the entire video surfaced, showing that Sherrod had actually discouraged such actions. "This is what happens" wrote Eric Deggans for the St. Petersburg "when ideologically-focused noise machines are treated like real news outlets."
Conspicuously absent in Deggans's screed is any mention of the recently-discovered attempt by liberal commentators to maliciously - and falsely, by their own admission - brand their ideological opponents as racists. Also absent: any mention of the litany of instances of dishonest and counter-factual reporting from the purportedly "objective" media.
In this morning's Denver Post, Mike Littwin manages to display simultaneously the insularity and smugness of the One Party media, as well as one of the last tools left in the left's rather empty playbook.
Apparently, during a Senate debate at Channel 12, Jane Norton said, "We need a NASA budget that doesn't cater to making Muslims feel good but that is strong on science ..." This scandalized Littwin, who assumed it was a cheap shot at Muslims. Evidently, he hadn't seen the video of NASA head Charles Bolden that's been making the rounds on the conservative and libertarian blogosphere:
Remarkably, instead of conceding that we're paying all those scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats to actually achieve, or at least facilitate achievement, in space, Littwin uses his and the rest of the MSM reporters' ignorance of the interview as evidence that the argument was out of place, and then goes straight for the race card:
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has responded to reports that an NPR producer wrote gleefully about his death in an e-mail message to the now infamous JournoList.
As NewsBusters reported Wednesday, the Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong published some more of the liberal group's e-mail messages which included Sarah Spitz claiming that she would "Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
With this in mind, both the Washington Examiner's Byron York and myself asked Limbaugh for a response to this nonsense.
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.
But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all.
In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.
In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
So much for the idea that NPR is an oasis of civil discourse in a desert of vituperation. Spitz is a producer for trendy-hot NPR station KCRW and its nationally distributed talk show Left Right & Center (which could be called Three Leftists and Tony Blankley). But Spitz has also done stories for NPR's evening newscast All Things Considered.
The Daily Caller has another scoop on the leftist JournoList e-mails today, recalling when liberal scribes all wanted the Jeremiah Wright story to be dead and buried in the spring of 2008. Jonathan Strong explained "Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage."
Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”...The tough questioning from ABC left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
The Obama/Holder Department of Justice closed down an investigation into voter intimidation on Election Day 2008 by the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. Yet the broadcast news media have been virtually silent on the matter, making it the first item in last night's "Media Mash" segment on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
Noted NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell:
Here you had a whistleblower from the Department of Justice saying how Eric Holder, the Attorney General, and his office stepped in and stopped the prosecution of these Black Panther people. He claimed it was the easiest prosecution in his career. He said everything was on video, everything was on tape.... It was a slam dunk.... Look, the media are refusing to cover just how radical this attorney general is...
"You have people in paramilitary uniforms, you know, spewing racial epithets at voters as they go into the polling place... obviously a case of voter intimidation. Still no coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, several major newspapers in this country," host Sean Hannity observed.
Here's Bauder's fourth paragraph wherein he described the Lebanese cleric that Nasr had praised as "[o]ne of Hezbollah's giants [she] respects a lot" (emphasis mine):
Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah died Sunday after a long illness. He was staunchly anti-American and linked to bombings that killed more than 260 Americans, a charge he denied.
Here's Bauder's lead paragraph:
NEW YORK -- Octavia Nasr has been fired. CNN fired the editor responsible for Middle Eastern coverage after she posted a note on Twitter expressing admiration for a late Lebanese cleric considered an inspiration for the Hezbollah militant movement.
Wouldn't a better lede incorporate elements of the fourth paragraph? Something like:
Editor's Note: What follows is a statement NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell released earlier this evening upon learning that CNN had fired its senior editor of Mideast affairs Octavia Nasr, who had expressed via her Twitter account sadness at the death of a Hezbollah terrorist leader whom she "respect[ed] a lot."
CNN has finally taken a step in the right direction in removing a terrorist sympathizer from their ranks. It’s a shame it took this amount of publicity and attention from organizations like the MRC to get the job done, as Octavia Nasr should never have been granted the position of authority to begin with. Unfortunately, CNN will have to deal with the consequences of how this affects their integrity and a growing public distrust of how they cover Islamic terrorism, but they took the right step in firing her.
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blogger.
Millions of bloggers, actually. And they are taking back freedom of the press from journalists unwilling and unable to use it in a fair and responsible manner.
A few weeks ago, we saw Helen Thomas confess her nutty anti-Semitism because a blogger caught her in an unusually candid moment. We found out what many have long suspected: that she's a disgusting bigot.
Then there was the Gen. McChrystal controversy as our top general in Afghanistan reportedly criticized the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter. Blogger critics argued "The Runaway General" showed the journalistic beat system prevents warts-and-all portrayals such as this one. Reporters are often too cozy with sources to make them look bad. Adding to that ethical issue, The Washington Post followed with a story saying the reporter in this case might have violated rules about what would be off the record. Rolling Stone denied it of course.
But nothing got more press than the seemingly simple resignation of self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel. Weigel was hired by the Post three months ago and continued his previous anti-conservative efforts with an attack on those "anti-gay marriage bigots" and making a joke about Matt Drudge "diddling" an 8-year-old boy. He was forced to apologize but remarkably kept his job.
Andrew Breitbart has found a simple remedy to at least some of the problems that ail contemporary journalism: cold, hard cash. Yesterday he offered $100,000 to anyone who will supply him with the full archive of JournoList, the email listserve that brought down Dave Weigel.
"$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save, " Breitbart wrote yesterday. Americans "deserve to know who was colluding against them," he added, "so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised."
And there's the rub: Breitbart is attempting to out liberal journalists as just that: liberal. His tactics and his objectives have been dubbed by some on the left as "digital McCarthyism," in the words of Michael Roston, "in which any of us could become the next Dave Weigel based not on the public output of our journalism, but based on our private sentiments."
UPDATE | Lachlan Markay - 6/25, 3:00 PM: A roundup of reactions from all over the blogosphere and twitterverse below the fold.
Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel resigned today after a host of offensive e-mails surfaced revealing his disdain for much of the right - the beat he was charged with covering. Fishbowl DC, which published a number of those emails yesterday, confirmed the resignation with the Post just after noon.
Yesterday I reported on leaked emails from Weigel to a listserve of liberal journalists bashing conservatives and conservatism - you know, the people Weigel is supposed to be covering. As bad as those email were, a plethora of messages from Weigel published in the Daily Caller take the conservative-bashing to a whole new level.
The new emails also demonstrated that yesterday's quasi-apology from Weigel was really not as sincere as he claimed. He said that he made some of his most offensive remarks at the end of a bad day. But these new emails show that there was really nothing unique about them, and that offensive remarks about conservatives really were nothing new or uncommon.
For taxpayer-funded PBS, the blueprint for America's future is centered on advancing the Obama administration's taxpayer-funded green agenda. In the June 17 installment of "Blueprint America," Miles O'Brien, a "NewsHour" special correspondent, hailed Dubuque, Iowa as the "city of the future" for transforming itself into a liberal beacon of environmental sustainability.
O'Brien's piece showered Dubuque with praise as it promoted the city's liberal environmental initiatives, which the correspondent noted are bankrolled with taxpayer dollars courtesy of the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.
"The people in this old factory town along the Mississippi have signed on to a unique experiment," explained O'Brien. "They're attempting to turn Dubuque into one of the nation's most sustainable cities."
Listing the city's seemingly countless awards for "livability" -- a term the PBS reporter struggled to define -- O'Brien championed President Barack Obama's budgetary boondoggle for the bountiful fruit it has given to Dubuque:
CNN's Howard Kurtz on Sunday said an inconvenient truth that few in his industry would care to admit: "Helen Thomas has been saying all kinds of questionable things in [the White House] press room for the past decade, but her colleagues, for the most part, had given her a pass until now."
This indeed is the real lesson behind last week's retirement of the nation's longest living member of the White House press corps: she for years was allowed by her colleagues to regularly get away with what most of them knew was unacceptable behavior.
Interesting that media members are learning this lesson only when one of their own falls from grace. The question is whether or not they'll recognize that they should always be scrutinizing each other's performance in order to maintain the integrity and professionalism key to an industry that is charged with policing government and the politicians that serve our very nation.
This seems especially important given how the same people now admitting they let Thomas get away with media malpractice ignored all journalistic standards during the last presidential campaign and have continued to do so since Barack Obama was inaugurated.
Consider that as you watch Kurtz and his panel discuss the Thomas affair on the opening segment of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary, full transcript at end of post):
Earlier this week, NewsBusters senior editor and MRC Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham appeared on CBN to talk about Helen Thomas's comments that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Germany and Poland.
Click here for complete NewsBusters coverage of the Thomas and the supportive comments she has received from other journalists in the wake of her anti-Israeli remarks.
Editor's Note: The following originally appeared at NewsBusters sister site CNSNews.com.
The fallout from Helen Thomas’ controversial comments about Israel and Jews, which led to her immediate retirement on Monday, has prompted journalists covering the White House to re-evaluate the role of an opinion columnist in the White House press corps.
Thomas, 89, the so-called dean of the White House press corps, covered the White House as a news reporter for United Press International (UPI), beginning with the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s. In 2000, she left UPI to become an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers. She has a front row seat at the White House press gallery with her name on it.
On Friday, June 4, a video surfaced of Thomas saying (on May 27) that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and that the Jews should “go home” to “Poland, Germany,” and to “America and everywhere else.” After initially apologizing for the comment, Thomas announced her immediate retirement on Monday.
As other media outlets have given Helen Thomas the kid glove treatment in light of her "trailblazing" career, media consumers may be forgiven for assuming that Helen Thomas's anti-Israel, arguably anti-Semitic comments were an aberration in an otherwise unblemished career of assertive but fair journalism.
To his credit, Washington Post's media reporter Howard Kurtz made note of other incidents, such as the time Thomas blamed Israel for inspiring "99 percent" of terrorism and the time in 2002 when she exclaimed "Thank God for Hezbollah," the Iran-backed terror group that murdered 241 U.S. servicement in 1983 and has plagued Israel for decades.
As the excerpt below shows, it's not just conservatives who have had complaints about Thomas (emphases mine):
An emerging defense of Helen Thomas's "Jews go home" comment is that either what she said really was not that bad, or that others occasionally say worse things without the same level of reproach.
Richard Greener, writing at the Huffington Post on Monday, was so close to making a good point. He noted that a number of other public figures have said things that could reasonably be interpreted as more offensive than Helen Thomas's comment, and have not been forced into retirement.
Though Greener neglected to note the higher standard to which White House correspondents are inevitably held, his credibility was instantly reduced to ashes when the only example of vitriol from the left he could come up with was Keith Olbermann saying Sarah Palin is "an idiot." And he even followed it up with a pathetic attempt to satiate his readership's intense hatred for Palin (and Olby affection) by noting that "perhaps truth is an absolute defense."
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the news agency Reuters admitted that one of its pictures of smoke and destruction caused by Israel's bombing of Beirut had been augmented in a Photoshop program by photographer Adnan Hajj.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday reported Reuters was under fire again yesterday for manipulating photographs in a bias against Israel, this time in the Gaza flotilla story. Natasha Mozgovaya reported Reuters cropped inconvenient truths out of the frame:
The Reuters news agency has been accused of removing images of activists wielding weapons and bloodied and wounded Israeli naval commandos from photographs taken on board a ship headed for Gaza during deadly clashes last week.
Reuters on Monday rejected accusations of biased coverage, adding that it had reverted to the use of "the original set" of images, once the organization realized that the photographs it had published had been cropped....
Well that didn't take long. The folks at the left-wing MoveOn.org are practically in mourning over Helen Thomas's "retirement."
Just a few hours after news broke that Hearst columnist Helen Thomas is calling it quits after a viral video of her anti-Semitic comments led to widespead condemnation of the White House press corps dean.
The abrupt retirement of Helen Thomas from her perch as the ranking member of the White House press corps was essentially accepted as a fait accompli by supporters and detractors alike after her controversial remarks urging Jews to leave Israel surfaced.
Indeed, if there was any defense made of Thomas's comments, it wasn't done persuasively or at an influential level. But that didn't stop the progressive community -- many hearing about her retirement while at the Campaign for America's Future conference in D.C. -- from collectively fretting on Monday about what the loss of her voice bodes for the day-to-day interaction between the White House and the Fourth Estate.
Her absence will be felt "significantly," said Ilyse Hogue, Communications Director of Moveon.org. "The burden will fall on the rest of the press corps to make sure the administration feels the need to be transparent about its plans to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan."
Via Politico, Hearst Newspapers columnist Thomas issued a statement today: "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
Michael Calderone at Yahoo! News reports that a second half of the Thomas interview is yet to come from Rabbi David Nesenoff and his site RabbiLive.com, and the first half was delayed while the rabbi's 17-year-old webmaster son finished his finals:
Although she's apologized, Nesenoff said Thomas should do more, and "the only way to fix it is to become a poster child for tolerance and non-hatred."
Next, Nesenoff said that in a day or so, he'll release part two of the interview, but was tight-lipped about what else Thomas said that day.
"Part two will be very interesting to watch," he said, adding that Thomas is in it "100 percent" of the time.
Comedians often pride themselves on being irreverent, and in today's popular culture a favorite thing to ridicule is religion. The network Comedy Central has made laughing at religion its bread and butter. Their irreverence has limits, however, and it has nothing to do with taste. When radical Muslims wrote ominously online that the creators of "South Park" could end up like Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh - shot eight times on the street - mockery of Muhammed was formally and publicly censored.
Within weeks of that very public retreat, Comedy Central announced plans to work up a series laughing at Jesus Christ called "JC," a half-hour animated show about Jesus trying to live a normal life in New York City to escape the "enormous shadow" of his "powerful but apathetic father." God the Father is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ is the "ultimate fish out of water."
Beyond the glaring double standard there is this question: Where is the market demand for an entire television series dedicated to attacks on Jesus Christ? What did Jesus Christ do to Comedy Central that they must relentlessly mock Him by portraying him defecating and talking about his "yummy, yummy crap" on "South Park" and roast him on specials titled "Merry F--ing Christmas"? Why the visuals of Jesus Christ being stabbed to death? Of the Blessed Virgin Mary menstruating? To call these attacks "juvenile" is an insult to juveniles.
Time's Joe Klein, no fan of the present Israeli government he, has weighed in on Helen Thomas's now infamous "get the hell out of Palestine" comments.
Writing for his magazine's Swampland blog yesterday, Klein denounced the Hearst columnist's comments as "odious," but stopped short of demanding her ouster from the White House press briefing room. Instead, Klein urged in his June 6 post that Thomas should forego her front row seat and get pushed towards the back of the room:
[I]t's not unprecedented for journalists with odious views to have access to the press room. What is unprecedented is for such a journalist to have a front-row center seat. Thomas should no longer have that privilege. The front row should be occupied by working reporters, not columnists. The WHCA should sanction Thomas by sending her back to the cheap seats. This would accurately reflect her current status as a journalist while preserving her First Amendment right to be as obnoxious as she wants.
Of course Thomas has a First Amendment right to be obnoxious, but that doesn't mean she has a constitutional right to a slot in the press briefing room. Perhaps Klein thinks his is a reasonable middle ground for the WHCA to stake out, but there were plenty of reasons to boot Thomas from the front row long before her anti-Semitic ranting made for viral video.
Time's Michael Crowley, late of the liberal publication The New Republic, took to his new magazine's Swampland blog with a salutatory post yesterday. After the obligatory kind words about how excited he was to be on board "another great [journalistic] institution," Crowley laid out his case about why author Joe McGinniss was foolish for renting a house right next door to the Palin family's Wasilla residence.
He did take a few swipes at Palin in the process -- arguing Palin is on a mission to discredit journalists and this just bolsters her argument -- but Crowley's case is the polar opposite of Slate's Jack Shafer, who defiantly praised McGinniss's journalistic "a**holery." Here's the relevant excerpt from Crowley's May 27 post (emphases mine):
"Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts," Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited as having once said. MSNBC's Chris Matthews would do well to heed the counsel of the late liberal New York senator.
The "Hardball" host yesterday smeared former Bush FEMA Director Michael Brown as having this kooky notion that President Obama approved of offshore drilling in March only because he knew the BP oil rig disaster would happen.
But as the video embedded at right shows, this is Matthews's own warped misunderstanding of Brown's argument about how the Obama administration is poised to take advantage of a disaster for political ends. [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]
Matthews is certainly entitled to disagree with Brown's assessment about the Obama administration's motives behind its slow response to the BP oil spill, but not to lie to viewers about Brown's argument.
Below the page break you'll find a transcript excerpt:
A recent episode of Comedy Central's animated comedy show "South Park" caused an Islamic group to send a veiled death threat to show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, accusing them of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Comedy Central reacted by censoring a later episode that also had scenes involving the cartoon version of the Islamic prophet.
Two New York Times stories on this free speech issue by Arts reporter Dave Itzkoff were buried on the inside pages of the paper's Arts section, under whitewashed headlines alleging that the "South Park" creators were being "warned" by Muslims, not having their lives threatened.
The issue first came up in Thursday's "Arts, Briefly" column under the lame headline "Muslim Group Warns 'South Park.'" (A more accurate headline would have been "Muslim Group Sends Veiled Death Threat to 'South Park.'")
During a speech to the winter conference of the Young Democratic Socialists the site Verum Serum found that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis praised socialism and attacked conservatives. She even goes so far as to say that today's political atmosphere is worse than McCarthyism, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and Jim Crow segregation:
Editor's Note:What follows is a statement Mr. Bozell released earlier today wherein he declared the intentional disparaging and false reporting of the Catholic Church and its leader Pope Benedict XVI an atrocity, and demanded the media immediately end their exaggerations:
The Catholic Church has always endured unfair characterizations from the left-wing media, but the most recent and phony ‘news’ coverage of the sexual abuse scandal has reached a new and alarming low.
Last week dozens of news outlets – including the Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post, New York TimesCBS, MSNBC– reported that the abuse scandal is ‘widening.’ That is absolutely and unequivocally false. The scandal isn’t growing. As Catholic League President Bill Donohue aptly noted, citing evidence from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, abuse is shrinking in the United States, with an even more rapid decline over the last five years.
Update - 10:45 AM | Lachlan Markay: Contessa Brewer is filling in for Shuster during his 10 am slot. Mediaite is reporting that Ed Schultz will take the 3 pm slot. This will not be the permanent lineup, however.
MSNBC's David Shuster was suspended indefinitely today after a flap with the cable network's brass, who were livid that he filmed a pilot for CNN. Shuster, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the year, has not appeared on air since the news broke.
"If true," said MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Ganes after hearing the news, "this is unacceptable and David will be punished appropriately." MSNBC President Phil Griffin was vacationing in Florida, but reportedly "ripped Shuster a new one over the phone," according to Gail Shister of TV Newser.
This morning MSNBC announced that Shuster has been suspended "indefinitely." Anything less than suspension, an MSNBC exec told Shister, "sends a message from management that this is OK."