CBS legal pundit Andrew Cohen is back at it again with a new blog post at Katie's e-sandbox, "Couric & Co.":
always, thank you for taking the time to read my post and to write a
response. The more dialogue and discussion and debate we have on this
topic the better. It is true that Janet Reno, as her predecessors
before her had done, asked for the resignations of U.S. Attorneys. This
is standard operating procedure designed to allow the President to have
in place his own federal prosecutors. What is different about this
current episode is that a Republican White House sought to replace
Republican-appointed federal prosecutors mid-stream who were by all
accounts doing precisely what they had been asked to do. We now know,
from last week’s testimony, why in some cases this was so and the
answers we got make it clear that the reasons were not high-minded or
CBS legal expert Andrew Cohen took to the "Couric & Co." blog to blast Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a Bush toadie, then turned to law scholars with a history of donating to liberal Democratic candidates to back up his claims.
We’ve indeed got trouble. Few attorneys general in recent history have
been more beholden to their President than Gonzales is to President
George W. Bush. In fact, two years ago, when asked by the Academy of
Achievement to list his role models, Gonzales listed his mother, his
father, and the President as the three people to whom he owed the most.
This would be more charming if the Attorney General had during the past
two years stood up to his hero-- on domestic surveillance, on
Guantanamo Bay, on protecting good federal prosecutors—instead of
simply defending or justifying White House policies and practices.
So, in essence, Cohen asserted that Gonzales has no independent thought on his own because Gonzales failed to act how Cohen thinks he should have. That is, Gonzales is at fault for doing his job: crafting and implementing the president's legal strategy for the war on terror.
Not content to leave his gripe with Gonzales as a matter of personal opinion, Cohen brought in two ostensibly politically neutral legal experts to lend credence to his attack on the attorney general's performance in office: Stanley Kutler of the University of Wisconsin and Stanley Katz of Princeton University.
Cohen was particularly enamored with Katz, quoting him as he closed his March 13 blog post:
NBC's Today rolled out a rainbow-colored carpet for the gay-left Human Rights Campaign late on Monday morning's show. Eighties pop star Cyndi Lauper appeared to sing her hit "True Colors" and announce the HRC’s fundraising "True Colors Tour." She also bashed social conservatives for being against freedom for gays in America: "you're taught home of the free, you know, except for you guys there, not, not you."
Co-host Meredith Vieira played the publicist alongside her, asking her to explain how a dollar from every ticket goes to "something very important," that being the Human Rights Campaign. Not "something very liberal" or "something very pro-Hillary." When Lauper added other gay-activist groups as sponsors, Vieira could only manage an "Oh, terrific!"
...among other format changes under the new Rick Kaplan era.
PublicEye editor Brian Montopoli passed along the usual talking points senior management in broadcast news outlets always give when they are trying to save a sinking ship. You know the drill. "This time, more hard news. We swear!"
Unfortunately Montopoli left out some hard news in his own March 12 blog post:
NewsBusters previously reported that the AP, NBC's "Today," and ABC's "Good Morning America" reported as a curiosity some Mayan priests who complain that President Bush brought evil spirits with him to Guatemala.
Well, CBS's Peter Maer didn't want to be left out apparently. He wrote up a little something at "Couric & Co.," Katie Couric's e-sandbox on CBS's Web site.
Maer's account, like the others mentioned, seems to leave out two key facts for their readers.
CBS blogger Brian Montopoli took a swipe at conservative CPAC attendees in his entry on Ann Coulter today, blaming them for her "faggot" crack about presidential candidate and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.). Montopoli described Coulter's audience as a "gathering of right-wing true believers."
As the Skeptic's Dictionary notes, "True-believer syndrome is an expression coined by M. Lamar Keene to describe an apparent cognitive disorder characterized by believing in the reality of paranormal or supernatural events after one has been presented overwhelming evidence that the event was fraudulently staged."
So conservative activists are superstitious adherents to an ideology disproven by overwhelming evidence?
On February 22, Tongsun Park became "the first person convicted by a jury in the United Nations Oil for Food
scandal," noted CBS "Primary Source" blogger Phil Hirschkorn in a February 24 blog post. Park, who "once acted as a secret backchannel between Saddam Hussein and the United Nations" was sentenced to five years in a federal prison.
But a search of CBS News in Nexis turns up no stories on Park's sentence on February 22, nor anytime since then. Anchor Katie Couric did, however, find time on February 22 to air a minute-and-a-half story by correspondent Kelly Cobiella on the custody hearing held to determine who would get to bury Anna Nicole Smith.
CBS News "PublicEye" editor Brian Montopoli suggested in a recent blog post that conservatives are unfairly attacking liberal Web sites for comments posted by readers that lament that a terrorists attack in Afghanistan did not succeed in killing Vice President Cheney.
Montopoli says that both right and left-wing sites have their share of nutty commenters, which, to some degree is a fair point. There are fring loonies and flamers on the Internet on both sides of the aisle.
What Montopoli seems to miss then is that the objection conservatives like Sean Hannity have raised is not so much the sin of commission by nasty commenters but the sin of omission by Web site administrators and editors.
It's a legitimate question to ask why people wishing for the assassination of the Vice President of the United States are not banned from a politically-oriented site.
The CBS blogger also has skewed the matter by comparing this controversy with the Ward Churchill row from a few years ago:
Two days ago a NewsBusters reader alerted me to some missing comments on a February 26 blog post by Evening News anchor Katie Couric at CBSNews.com.:
When I first saw this post on Couric's website last night (around 10:30 PM ET), I thought it was great that there were *12 pages* of comments appended to her post -- with every single one criticizing her and Al Gore for being limousine liberals and attacking the mistakes in her post. But when I looked at it again today (11:00 AM ET), all the comments have disappeared.
CBS's Greg Kandra addressed concerns about the missing comments in this February 28 post to "Couric & Co.":
U.S. Tax Revenues Up 9.7% Through Four Months, Deficit Down 57%; U.S. Media Outlets Mostly Ignore the News
There's a good chance you didn't hear about this (original US Treasury report is here):
Both Brian Wesbury at FT Portfolios and yours truly have to confess to being wrong so far this year on revenue growth. We both have been thinking (Wesbury here, BizzyBlog here) that it’s going to come in at 9%, but as you see, through four months it’s actually pushing 10%.
So, here is a question: Why is CBS using propaganda film originally posted on an al Qaeda website and claiming it is merely "CBS obtained" with no mention of the actual source for Lara Logan's report on The "Battle of Haifa Street"?
The anti-Iraq website called Iraqslogger posted a story about how CBS reporter Lara Logan is crying that CBS seems to have spiked her "Haifa Street" story. Logan has sent out a mass email to all her friends and colleagues in the world of journalism in hopes that they will pressure CBS to show her report that has not yet made it to TV. It has, though, appeared on the internet.
On January 18, CBSNews.com posted an interview that "Public Eye" blogger Brian Montopoli conducted with business correspondent Anthony Mason. In the interview, Mason explained how he wound up reporting the business beat and why he thinks the media have a tendency to be critical of business, as well as admitting that the media in general have a liberal bias in story selection. You can find the full blog post with a link to the interview audio here.
I also took the liberty of clipping a few sound bites from his interview. It runs almost two minutes and can be found here.
In January 2006, Mason made similar comments about the media's coverage of American business:
She practically blamed Mel Gibson* for why diet supplements are not regulated as drugs by the FDA and attempted to scare viewers with the extreme case of a woman's nose falling off, but Sharyn Alfonsi's hit pieces on nutrition supplement makers weren't biased enough for CBS's in-house blogger-cum-media critic Brian Montopoli.:
"The real problem is that any topical product such as the one described in this section of Mr. Hurley's book is not a dietary supplement, and cannot be legally sold as one in the United States. By law such products are drugs. If either Mr. Hurley or his editors had bothered to look at the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, they could have avoided this fundamental mistake," wrote Marc S.Ullman, a New York attorney who represents clients "in the dietary supplement/natural products industry."
When CBS launched their blog Public Eye in Sept. of 2005 they claimed it would give us "the journalists who make the important editorial decisions at CBS News and CBSNews.com" and that those journalists "will now be asked to explain and answer questions about those decisions in a public forum."
While the jury might be out on the success of their task, we can certainly wonder at their ability to step away from themselves to render balanced judgment. Especially in the case of their recent story, "Biased In Both Directions", where they declare that the MSM is reporting "in the middle" where it concerns stories about Iraq.
The blog "Couric & Co." at CBSNews.com has transformed from mostly Katie to mostly other CBS personnel in the last few weeks. On Monday, Couric writer (and former CNN anchor) Mary Alice Williams recounted how the ascent of Nancy Pelosi was a "very big deal" and went a little overboard about how much better women were:
The picture alone demonstrated what a difference her leadership will make. Instead of a lone male gaveling Congress into session, here was a female surrounded by children. Women, in ways far different from men, represent families.
Williams wrote that her 16-year-old daughter Alice was there to witness history, courtesy of her congressman (no name or party affiliation attached). She also made it seem likely that she's the one who wrote for Couric that it's taken too long: "In helping women gain true equality in every aspect of life, Susan B. Anthony always said 'failure is impossible.' Today the only quibble she might have is that it took so long."
In an editorial entitled "The Republicans Really Won," which is posted on the CBS website, contributor Lloyd Garver claims, among other things, that the midterm election results are a ploy by the Republicans to solidify long term power, and that the reemergence of veterans of the Bush 41 administration, James Baker and Robert Gates, are part of a plan to elect Bush 41 to a second term in 2008. Garver leads his piece:
Democrats stop celebrating, and Republicans, don't despair. I know the Democrats won the recent election on paper, but in the long run the Republicans just might be the big winners of Election 2006.
In fact, I think the Republicans set the whole thing up so the Democrats could fail over the next two years, which will bring about a big Republican presidential win in 2008.
What other explanation is there? I mean, do you think that Karl Rove and the rest of the Republican brain trust suddenly got stupid? I don't think so.
The Supreme Court hears the latest arguments Wednesday from late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart objecting to a partial-birth abortion ban, and the media bias wouldn't be complete without the major media rejecting the term "partial-birth abortion" as a propagandistic pro-life term. Brian Montopoli on the CBS blog "Public Eye" offered a little inside detail:
With the case approaching, CBS News Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason sent an email to the CBS News staff regarding the terms "late term abortion" and "partial birth abortion." Mason wrote that CBS News should use the term “late term abortion” when referring to the procedure in question, not "partial birth abortion." I asked her why.
"We thought that 'partial birth' is a color phrase for people who are anti-abortion rights," said Mason. "This is a procedure usually done after 20 weeks. Therefore, 'late term' is appropriate. Now, some colleagues have come back to me and questioned this because the name of the law before the Supreme Court is the 'Partial-Birth Abortion [Act].' When people refer to the case, they should call it by the correct name. But a CBS reporter should call the procedure a 'late term abortion.'"
TVNewser notes "Dan Rather Reports will still be coming soon to Mark Cuban's HDNet. Just not as soon," Ed Bark reports. The program was to launch in October. But in an e-mail, Cuban now says: "We are moving Dan back to after the elections so there won't be as much going on." Perhaps it's because the last weeks of an election season, he looks a little like Captain Ahab, "reckless, arrogant, and ideologically blind in his pursuit of Moby Bush."
At the CBS Public Eye site, Vaughn Ververs reported that a CBS employee (a tape archivist they claim somehow doesn't count as a news gatherer, just a tape gatherer) sent a nasty Foley-related note to the RNC:
Since Sunday could be described as Clinton Blew Up On Tape Day, it reminds me that the CBS "Public Eye" site was inspired by the BBC to remember this week in history, 1998. As they prepared for the release of Clinton's grand jury testimony from mid-August, Team Clinton had told everyone in Washington that Slick Willie blew a gasket before Ken Starr's prosecutors in the Lewinsky case. He was going to be red-faced and furious. CBS's Hillary Profita asked reporter Sharyl Attkisson to remember that time. The headline was simply: "On This Day in the 'Ultimate Spin Zone.'" Apparently, "ultimate spin" is a polite way to say you were duped, conned, fooled. But they never seemed to mind. Attkisson recalled:
What’s politically toxic in Campaign 2006? On the CBS Evening News Friday night, Katie Couric covered the U.S. Senate race in New Jersey, and the danger was apparently a Republican standing anywhere near Team Bush. Couric pressed Republican candidate Tom Kean Jr. about President Bush: "Would you like him to come?" The second time she asked, she giggled. She weirdly compared the Kean family to the fictional mob family in The Sopranos. (Would she ever do that to the Kennedys?)
Couric ever-so-barely revealed "scandal has wracked the Democratic Party here," but gave no specifics. Newly appointed Sen. Bob Menendez is facing a federal probe for renting out his property to a community group, and then securing millions in federal grants for that community group. At the very least, liberal groups the networks often use as expert sources, like Public Citizen and the Center for Public Integrity, say Menendez is guilty of a conflict of interest. But CBS viewers would have no idea. They just heard Menendez say it’s "smear tactics to hide a right-wing agenda."
Katie Couric is on the cover of today's Parade Magazine supplement in the Sunday Washington Post, among other papers nationwide. The article by novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard (the first author honored by Oprah's Book Club, Parade tells us) seems pitched at the female viewer, with heavy focus on her personal life and personal grief. But there are a few tidbits about the news. For one, Couric had one quote that sounded like her CBS ad: "The biggest job isn't telling people what happened. It's getting them to understand why they should care." Sounds like a recipe for a lot of editorializing.
Just above that, Mitchard complains about anyone who would question the gravitas of Couric taking over the Dan Rather chair in media distortion. The nerve! She may be talking about you, Matt Felling, meow:
In an interview with the CBS News website Public Eye, CBS reporter Sharyn Alfonsi displayed a typically leftish enthusiasm for New York Times columnists and former Democratic presidents who pride themselves on being Southern charmers.
When asked about the last "really great movie or book you've found, Alfonsi mentioned a classic Southern novel and "Also, I just finished Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem. I love him. He’s a great writer and a genius." When asked about the "most fascinating person," Alfonsi displayed her years in Arkansas journalism: "Most fascinating: I interviewed Bill Clinton a few times. He’s a study."
CBS News's legal analyst Andrew Cohen let loose a label-laced column on CBSNews.com today on President Bush's rendition of trick-or-treat (to liberals and conservatives respectively) in naming Samuel Alito to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.
Alito was painted as "a rock-ribbed conservative jurist who is not afraid to get out in front of the curve when it comes to" the "social issues" which get "the president's base foaming at the mouth."
Cohen finds himself gun-shy with a label for partial-birth abortion however, using an uncomfortable syntactical jumble to hint that Alito may have an impact on the Court's rulings on abortion:
If he gets to the Court in time, he might even have a say in the pending abortion rights case this term that will determine whether Congress can ban a certain type of late-term abortion procedure.
Colorfully illustrating the happiness of conservatives with Bush's pick of Alito, Cohen, notes that if "right-wing interest groups were to offer to their constituents a pin-up poster for 'Most Promising Justice,' Judge Alito's glamour shot would be a best-seller."
Later Cohen compares and contrasts Alito to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, a "nasty jurist" whom "everyone thinks of when they think of Alito." Cohen kindly offers that Alito is, in contrast to Scalia, "affable and likely to charm" the jury of 100 set to either confirm or reject his nomination.
But when it comes to labeling Alito critics, the labels are non-existent. Democrats who oppose Alito are untagged by their liberal ideology, and left-leaning (Lifetime ACU of 44) Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) and is tagged as pro-choice and Maine's Republican duo, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (ACU ratings of 57 and 51 lifetime, respectively) , are labeled "moderates."